Thaddeus Young Interview: On His Future in Philly, Potential Lockout, Allen Iverson, and Twitter

Thaddeus Young Interview: On His Future in Philly, Potential Lockout, Allen Iverson, and Twitter

Thaddeus Young emerged as one of the key players in the Sixers playoff run this season. The serious Sixth Man of the Year candidate is holding Thaddeus Young 21 Hoops, a basketball camp for kids, next week in King of Prussia and chatted with us this afternoon about his future, the potential NBA lockout, Coach Collins, Allen Iverson, and which of his teammates is best/worst on Twitter.

Enrico: So yesterday was your birthday, did you do anything exciting to celebrate?

Thad Young: No. I didn't do anything exciting. Just lived my birthday as any other day. Being the middle of the week, you can't really do too much anyway.

Enrico: The Sixers recently tendered you a qualifying offer which allows them to match any offers you receive from other teams. What would be your ideal situation for you going forward?

Thad: Just looking for something long term, try to keep building on the team chemistry. I definitely don't want to have to sign a qualifying offer to play for one year. I want to be with Philadelphia. I want to be here long term. That's the team I've been with, that's the team I was drafted by. I'm like brothers with those guys now. I have a great relationship with the coaching staff and the front office. It's been an ideal situation. I love being there.

Enrico: How worried are you about potentially being a free agent during this mess with the CBA and a possible lockout? How is it changing the way you're approaching the off-season?

Thad: I'm definitely going to approach the offseason by doing the same thing I've always been doing. The only thing I'm probably not doing is playing five-on-five. Other than that I'm still working out, still shooting, still trying to stay in conditioning shape.

Enrico: Does the NFL lockout situation worry you about what's next with the NBA?

Thad: You definitely have to be conscious of it and be worried about it. This is 400+ guys livelihood. This is how we eat and stuff like that. At the end of the day, if you save well, you'll be fine. It's still something we love to do. We don't want to have a long summer and not play basketball for a whole year. We'd rather go out there and play the game we love so much.

Enrico: It seems like Coach Collins really took a shine to you as the season went on. What do you think made his relationship with the team's core guys such a positive one, and do you think he'll be able to maintain those bonds for the next season and beyond?

Thad: Yes, definitely. Coach Collins is a guy that's going to stay on you and coach you really hard-nosed. He wants the best out of each and every one of his players, it's just a matter if you can see that or not. Some guys had a hard time seeing it initially, but once he did form that relationship, the guys who bought into it really succeeded and played well. For instance, Jodie Meeks and Jrue Holiday, those guys really took off this season and had two great seasons.

Enrico: During your exit interview at the end of the season, which parts of your game did Doug Collins say he most wanted you to work on?

Thad: Pretty much developing that mid-range jumper like [Elton] has. They know I can do just about anything, and they want me to develop that mid-range jumper to where it's consistent, so that I knock down every wide open shot. Since I can't play five-on-five, that's pretty much all I've been doing is shooting jump shots.

Enrico: Are you comfortable in your role as a first-guy-off-the-bench scorer? You excelled in the role last year, but moving forward, are you hoping to play somewhere where you'll have the chance to be a starter again?

Thad: It's all about what the team needs. The team needed me to come off the bench so I had to buy into the role. It was hard at first to buy into it because I felt like I should have been starting, but at the end of the day we won games. When the game plan was fulfilled, with me being the sixth man, we had a successful season. It's whatever the team wants. If they want me to continue to be the sixth man or start at the three or the four, it doesn't matter.

Enrico: Were you rooting against the Heat in the finals? Did you talk to any of the other guys about it?

Thad: I wasn't really rooting against them, no. That was just an amazing series, maybe one of the best ever. The Heat hung tough though.

Random Stuff:

Enrico: Do you think Allen Iverson has anything left to offer the NBA? What was he like as a teammate when you played with him during his second stint with the Sixers?

Thad: It was pretty cool being Allen's teammate. When he came to the team, he had people waiting for him outside of the hotel and stuff like that. We had a chance to see what it was like when Aaron McKie and that first set of guys played with him. He was like a rock star with that team. I think he still has something left in the tank. He's a great guy. I actually sat next to him in the locker room at the practice facility. He would call me "Young Punk" and stuff like that. He's funny, I like him as a person. And he definitely wasn't the same guy people may have told you about. He's actually really humble. He brought a great and positive attitude to the locker room.

Enrico: Toughest player you've ever guarded?

Thad: Dwyane Wade is definitely the toughest to guard. He's got that crazy first move that's just so quick.

Enrico: Including your coaches (Collins, Snyder, McKie) who is the best shooter during practices at PCOM?

Thad: Aaron McKie or Coach Curry. [Curry] doesn't shoot the three, but he has that nice mid-range game. Aaron McKie has the three pointer and the mid-range game.

Enrico: Favorite things to do in Philly? Restaurants? Hidden gems?

Thad: I like to probably go to Del Frisco's Steak House, that's about it. I like to do regular stuff. I do like to go to the movies though. I like to see all the new movies that come out.

Enrico: Which of your teammates are the best/worst at Twitter?

Thad: Lou Will is definitely the best. Marreese Speights is definitely the worst. I can't even understand what he's saying half the time.

Enrico: Can you ask Lou Williams to unblock me on Twitter? What's up with that?

Thad: [laughs] He does love to block anybody that says anything negative about him. I can ask for you though.


Finally, tell us a little bit about your basketball camp. (Details: June 27-July 1, Competitive Edge Sports, 320 South Henderson Road, King of Prussia, PA  19046)

It should be a lot of fun. It's for kids from 7-17 years old. They can register at . We really focus on all aspects of the game, from improving shooting and dribbling to defense, rebounding, an
d post moves. It should be a real fun environment and a chance to interact with the local kids.

Josh Huff's acrobatic kick return touchdown sparks Eagles to win

Josh Huff's acrobatic kick return touchdown sparks Eagles to win

For the first 40 yards of Josh Huff’s kick return touchdown on Sunday, he went untouched.

When he got to the Eagles’ 42-yard line, Vikings kicker Blair Walsh was the only guy left in his way.

Huff ran through him.

“Yeah, I can’t let a kicker tackle me,” Huff said. “If he would have tackled me, I really would have been pissed at myself.”

The 170-pound Walsh couldn’t make the tackle and was sent spinning as Huff ran through. Fifty-six yards later, Huff took off from the 2-yard line, flipping into the end zone to give the Eagles their first lead in an eventual 21-10 win over the Vikings (see Instant Replay).

Huff said he knew he was scoring as soon as he saw that he had just the kicker to beat.

With the Eagles’ down 3-0 and with their offense sputtering through the first quarter and change, Huff’s play was a game-changer (see 10 Observations).

“Josh did a great job on the return,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “[Special teams coordinator] Dave Fipp really has those guys ready every single week. You need those things. You need special teams scores.”

After Wendell Smallwood’s kick return touchdown last week, this is the first time in franchise history the Eagles have had kick return touchdowns in back-to-back games. They also have the NFL’s only two kick return touchdowns of the season (see Standout Plays).

“It’s super cool,” Smallwood said. “Now teams have to pick their poison. They can’t go away from one. They can’t say they’re not going to kick to Smallwood, then they kick to Huff and he takes it. I think we’re going to get a lot of teams’ attention.”

Huff also had a role in the Eagles’ offense against the Vikings. He caught four passes for 39 yards, including two that picked up first downs. His 14-yarder in the third helped set up the touchdown that sealed the win for the Eagles.

This season hasn’t been great offensively for Huff. He is clearly the Eagles’ fourth wideout and came into Sunday with just eight catches for 24 yards.

“Obviously, I want to play good on offense, but we have three great guys in front of me,” Huff said. “I’m doing what I can to stay ready and I’m at my best when those guys do need me. At the end of the day, as long as I’m doing my job and as long as I stay ready, today was evident. Whenever they call my number, I’m going to make the most of my opportunities.”

Huff finished off his 98-yard kick return touchdown the same way he finished off his 41-yard receiving touchdown in New England last year: With a flip.

Huff took off from the 2-yard line and did a front flip, landing in the middle in the black end zone on his backside.

“It’s just something that happens,” Huff said. “Everybody says I should have stuck the landing, but I’m not a gymnast.”

Eagles' defense outplays Vikings' top-ranked unit

Eagles' defense outplays Vikings' top-ranked unit

The Eagles’ defense had two challenges on its mind Sunday. First, there was the challenge of outplaying Sam Bradford and the Vikings’ offense. Just as important was the challenge of outplaying the Vikings’ top-ranked defense.

“We wanted to be the better defense out there,” Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said. “We wanted to match their intensity. That was the whole thing. That’s all we talked about — let’s be the best defense out there today. We wanted to make sure we were the most dominating defense in the game.

“We wanted to get more sacks, get more turnovers … that was our whole goal.”

In a clash of two of the NFL’s top defensive units, the Eagles beat the previously undefeated Vikings 21-10 Sunday at the Linc (see Instant Replay).

The Vikings defense was very good. It held the Eagles to 14 offensive points and forced four turnovers, but also had no sacks.

The Eagles’ defense was better. It held the Vikings to 10 offensive points, forced four turnovers and recorded six sacks.

If you watched this game and had to guess which defense is No. 1 in the NFL, you’d guess Eagles.

They were that dominating.

They outplayed the best defense in the game.

“We think we’re the best defense, but they’ve been playing great, and they were the best defense coming in,” Eagles safety Rodney McLeod said. “We knew it would come down to whichever defense played the best.

“You could see that the first quarter. We’d make a play, they’d make a play. But you’ve just got to keep on chopping. After the last two games, we wanted to get back to playing Eagles defense, and I feel like we did that.”

McLeod, linebacker Jordan Hicks, Connor Barwin and Graham led a ferocious defensive effort that saw the Eagles batter former teammate Sam Bradford, who absorbed his first loss as a Viking (see 10 Observations).

The Eagles sacked Bradford six times, intercepted him twice and mauled him snap after snap after snap. By the time the Vikings got in the end zone, with half a minute left, it was already a three-possession game.

Neither team had an offensive play longer than 29 yards.

“We think we’re the No. 1 defense in the league,” Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “We think we can be that and should be that if we go out and play the way we’re supposed to.

“We have to do that every week. But we think we can hang with any defenses out there. And we have a lot of respect for that defense across the field, and we knew we would have to show up for us to even have a chance to be in this game. Because that defense is ranked No. 1 coming into this thing.

“But we also feel we’re the best defense in the league, even though we haven’t played like it. But this is the opportunity you want. On the main stage, you’re coming into our home, and this was our opportunity to face the best defense in the league, and I think we showed our worth.”

The Eagles, who looked nothing like a top defense the last two weeks in losses in Detroit and Washington, improved to 4-2 and dropped the Vikings to 5-1.

Six games in, the Eagles’ defense is allowing just 13.5 points per game. That’s No. 2 in the league, behind only … who else … the Vikings at 12.8 per game.

“For us, it’s a battle of the defenses,” Hicks said. “And we always want to be the best defense on the field and put our team in a position to win.”

Bradford has been sacked more only once in his career, back in 2011 with the Rams, when the Redskins got him seven times.

And after opening the season with no interceptions in four games, the Eagles picked him off twice.

Whatever it takes to get motivated. If it works, it works. And this Eagles' defense was clearly motivated by that No. 1 ranking the Vikings brought to town.

“It motivated everybody,” Fletcher Cox said. “We knew in order to win this game we had to be good up front, and the last two weeks we weren’t very good up front. But we got back to basics and went out and played a physical football game.”

Hicks had 11 tackles, a sack, three tackles for loss and two pass knockdowns in his finest game of the year. McLeod became the first Eagle since Quintin Mikell in 2007 with a sack, forced fumble and interception in the same game and added seven tackles. And Graham picked up his fourth sack to go with five quarterback hurries and a forced fumble (see Standout Plays).

The Eagles got back to the way they played defense the first three games of the season. They’ve now held their opponents to 14 or fewer points in four of six games and won them all. In their two losses, they’ve allowed 24 and 27.

“Pride … call it what you want, we knew we had to play well today,” Hicks said. “This defense has a certain standard, and it doesn’t matter what anybody else does, it matters what we do, and ultimately if we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, we’re going to be a top, top, top defense.

“For me, it’s not about them. It’s about us and what we do.”