Nerlens Noel Might Could Miss the Whole Season, Says Coach Brown

Nerlens Noel Might Could Miss the Whole Season, Says Coach Brown

Well, at least in the last few hours, we've downgraded the urgency on reports out of Ohio State from "Brett Brown says Nerlens Noel will miss the whole season because his rehab is going slower than expected" to "Brett Brown says Nerlens Noel might miss the whole season just to be on the safe side." The former would be new and somewhat depressing news, the latter isn't that new and is more sobering than outright bumming.

In any event, yes, Coach Brown did talk about Nerlens Noel tonight in Ohio, and his comments were not terribly optimistic about the chances of the Sixers' lottery acquisition playing for Philly this season. Jason Wolf of Delaware Online has the quote:

I doubt, everybody doubts that [Noel]’s going to play this year...we don’t want to waste this year. I think from a skill perspective, it’s an opportunity for us to break down his shot, really work on his free throws and start a little bit from ground zero.

A little tough to hear for those of us who just finished waiting an entire season for the return of Andrew Bynum that never materialized, though going into the season without any kind of expectation of a comeback will ultimately be far more merciful than waiting the 'Fro of Damacles that dangled over Sixer fans all last year.

In any event, several Sixers beat writers who were there for Brown's words made a point of stressing that this does not mean that the Sixers have ruled out Noel playing this year, just...well, don't draft him for your fantasy league or anything. If he plays, he plays, but Brown and company are clearly operating under the assumption that he won't, and that's fair enough for the time being.

I did hope we'd get to see the Eraser play a little this season--it would have been a nice little reward for sticking it out through the sure-to-be-brutal first couple months of this season, to get to see a little glimpse of the guy who might be the first building block in the construction of the next contending Ballers roster. Noel wouldn't have contributed enough in his first year to mess up our draft positioning, and it would have just been fun to watch 20-30 games of this future beast in his germination stage.

But again, we always knew this was a possibility--hell, if it wasn't, some team probably would have taken him in the top five of the draft, and we'd have never gotten him via New Orleans at #6. It'll just have to be another reason why next season (as in the one after this one) is going to be the official Best Sixers Season Ever, when Noel and our two first-round picks next year all get to take the court for the first time ever, and the rest of the Eastern Conference weeps for their future in the dark underneath our imposing shadow.

It'll all be worth it. Sam Hinkie promises.

Doug Pederson doesn't think 2016 struggles will ruin Carson Wentz in long term

Doug Pederson doesn't think 2016 struggles will ruin Carson Wentz in long term

In his first month in the NFL, Carson Wentz's trophy case was filling up quickly. 

He won two NFL Rookie of the Week awards to go along with being named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week in Week 3 and the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Month for September. 

It's hard to believe all of that happened this year. 

Since September, the Eagles have gone 2-7 and Wentz has looked like a rookie. Sure, the Eagles have some major deficiencies on offense that haven't made his life any easier, but it's no longer possible to simply overlook the regression of the No. 2 overall pick. 

Could this tough stretch negatively affect Wentz long term?  

"I don't think it's going to affect Carson going forward," head coach Doug Pederson said on Monday. "I just don't think it's going to affect him at all, because he's really a pro's pro and he's learning how to handle adversity for the first time, probably, in his career. It's something that we get to the OTAs and we get a full offseason in and we just continue to work on it."

It's fair to say the 2016 season was probably never really about this year and making the playoffs. It's clear the more important thing is to develop Wentz into the franchise quarterback they drafted him to be. But the one thing the team probably didn't want to see was regression. It seems like that's what has happened. 

In the first four games of the season, Wentz had a passer rating over 100 three times and hasn't done it since then. Take a look at the difference in the first quarter of his season compared to the next two. 

First four games: Completion percentage of 67 percent, 7 touchdowns, 1 interception, passer rating of 103.5. 

Next eight: Completion percentage of 61 percent, 5 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, passer rating of 70.1. 

The Eagles will enter their final quarter of the season when they host Washington on Sunday. The best way to avoid any long-term issues stemming from a tough rookie season is to end on a stronger note. 

"Well, you avoid it by trying to win a football game, and you try to win as many as you can now with these last four that we've got," Pederson said. "If you're looking towards next season, you always want to go out with a bang and try to win as many as you can down the stretch."

Way back in training camp, the plan was for 2016 to be a redshirt year for Wentz. He was supposed to sit behind Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel, but Bradford was traded and the Eagles elected to start their prized quarterback from the onset. 

Wentz went from a redshirt season to being on pace to throw 603 passes, which would shatter the Eagles' record for a single season. 

"These are some of the decisions that I made back when the trade was made that if there was going to be some growing pains, these were going to be some of the pains we were going to have to go through," Pederson said. "And just him understanding and him learning and us growing together as an offense, he and I growing as coach and quarterback together, it's all part of the process."

Wentz and Pederson seemingly had a disagreement after Sunday's game, when Pederson attributed Wentz's struggles to mechanical problems, while Wentz denied that was the case. Pederson held firm to his belief that those mechanical issues can be corrected and it's probable Wentz spoke out of frustration on Sunday night. 

If Wentz is frustrated, it would be understandable. It hasn't been an easy couple of months. 

"I see him handling it well," Pederson said. "These are discussions that we will have, myself, [Eagles offensive coordinator] Frank [Reich], Carson [Wentz], as we talk to him, because we've played obviously at this level, and my experience, even in this city playing and knowing what that's all about, we can really help him. It’s our job to help him and make sure that he stays on track and stays focused and he doesn't get derailed by anything that's coming from the outside."

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days.