Here's why the Eagles should hire Gus Bradley


Here's why the Eagles should hire Gus Bradley

Gus Bradley did more Sunday afternoon on the sideline of FedEx Field to demonstrate he deserves a head coaching job than he could ever demonstrate in some formal interview with a bunch of guys in suits at a restaurant, office or hotel suite.

The Eagles were granted permission last week to interview Bradley, the Seahawks' defensive coordinator, once the Seahawks wild-card game against the Redskins ended, and Bradley did nothing to hurt his candidacy.

Seattle won its first road playoff game since 1983, thanks in great part to Bradleys swarming defense, which held the Redskins scoreless over the final 47 minutes after spotting Washington a quick 14-0 lead.

Any Eagles fan watching Bradleys defense had to be saying to himself, This is what we need.

After the Redskins took a 14-0 lead with 2:26 left in the first quarter, the 'Skins had outgained the Seahawks 129 yards to minus-two yards.

This is when Twitter blew up with some vintage anti-Bradley sentiment: OK, let's cancel that interview with the Seahawks' defensive coordinator!" one of my followers tweeted.

But you learn more about a coach from how he responds to adversity than anything else.

And guess what.

After allowing TD drives of 80 and 49 yards in the first quarter, the Seahawks allowed nothing.

No team had come back from a 14-point deficit after the first quarter in a postseason game since you might remember this the Eagles beat the Packers in the 4th-and-26 game at the Linc in 2003 after trailing 14-0 after 15 minutes.

Jim Johnson found a way to do it nine years ago by harrassing Brett Favre into mistake after mistake, and Gus Bradley found a way to do it Sunday by stomping on Robert Griffin III until he had to leave the game, suffocating Alfred Morris and choking off the Redskins receivers.

After being outgained 129 to minus-2, the Seahawks outgained the Redskins 382-74 the rest of the way. Obviously some of that was due to RG3 being hobbled, but thats not the Seahawks problem. They smelled blood and they swarmed.

They hit. They tackled. They forced turnovers. They played disciplined, physical, ferocious football. The likes of which we havent seen around here in a long time.

After the 'Skins easily drove down the field a second time, the NBC TV cameras showed head coach Pete Carroll grabbing Bradley on the sidelines, as if to say, Hey, what are we going to do to slow these guys down?

Whatever they came up with worked.

The Redskins averaged 7.8 yards per possession after those first two TD drives.

After the first quarter, Griffin passed for just 16 yards. After allowing Morris, a 1,600-yard rusher, 49 rushing yards on eight carries in the first quarter (6.1 average), the Seahawks held him to 31 yards on eight carries (3.9 average) the rest of the game.

It was a brilliant display of defensive adjustment by a guy who was coaching at Fargo, N.D., seven years ago.

How can you watch the product the Seahawks put on the field Sunday and not want this guy to be your head coach?

The hunch here is still that the Eagles will go with an offensive mind over a defensive mind. Its an offensive league, and we know Jeff Lurie all things being equal prefers having a bright, innovative offensive guy running the franchise and a strong coordinator leading the defense.

But with all due respect to Mike McCoy and Bruce Arians, good luck finding a stronger candidate to bring the Eagles into the future and turn this mess around than Gus Bradley.

The Eagles need to get better on offense, sure, but they have some pieces in place and will get some injured guys back. On defense, they need a complete overhaul. They need a culture change. They need to learn how to tackle. Learn how to cover. Learn how to hit. Learn how to play football.

Who better to change the mentality of this languid bunch and infuse them with the ferocity and discipline necessary to be a competitive defense than the guy who built the Seahawks into this savage wrecking machine?

Now, Bradley wont have the same talent at the start in Philly that he has right now in Seattle. But that doesnt matter. The transformation of the Eagles back into a team that doesnt go out there and embarrass itself every week has to begin with a change in its approach.

You watch the videos of his media interviews, and you can see hes got a tremendous personality. You read the quotes from his players, and you can see hes a tremendous leader. You spot him on the sidelines, and you can see hes got tremendous energy. You watch the brand of football his guys play, and you can see hes a tremendous tactician.

The Eagles dodged a bullet when things fell apart with Chip Kelly, who seems to be more enamored of being wanted than being an NFL head coach.

The Eagles need somebody who wants to be here. Who has the energy, personality and ability to turn around a franchise at its lowest ebb in a generation. Who understands what Eagles fans understand that smart, physical, disciplined defense wins championships.

Bradleys official interview with the Eagles hasnt been scheduled yet, but his units performance Sunday afternoon was one heck of an interview in itself.

Ive seen enough.

The Eagles need Gus Bradley.

E-mail Reuben Frank at

Stanley Cup Final: Long roads culminate for both Sharks and Penguins


Stanley Cup Final: Long roads culminate for both Sharks and Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- It wasn't supposed to take the San Jose Sharks this long to reach their first Stanley Cup Final. It wasn't supposed to take this long for Sidney Crosby to guide the Pittsburgh Penguins back to a destination many figured they'd become a fixture at after winning it all in 2009.

Not that either side is complaining.

Certainly not the Sharks, whose nearly quarter-century wait to play on the NHL's biggest stage will finally end Monday night when the puck drops for Game 1. Certainly not Crosby, who raised the Cup after beating Detroit seven years ago but has spent a significant portion of the interim dealing with concussions that threatened to derail his career and fending off criticism as the thoughtful captain of a team whose explosiveness during the regular season too often failed to translate into regular mid-June parade through the heart of the city.

Maybe the Penguins should have returned to the Cup Final before now. The fact they didn't makes the bumpy path the franchise and its superstar captain took to get here seem worth it.

"I think I appreciated it prior to going through some of those things," Crosby said. "I think now having gone through those things I definitely appreciate it more. I think I realize how tough it is to get to this point."

It's a sentiment not lost on the Sharks, who became one of the NHL's most consistent winners shortly after coming into the league in 1991. Yet spring after spring, optimism would morph into disappointment. The nadir came in 2014, when a 3-0 lead over Los Angeles in the first round somehow turned into a 4-3 loss. The collapse sent the Sharks into a spiral that took a full year to recover from, one that in some ways sowed the seeds for a breakthrough more than two decades in the making.

General manager Doug Wilson tweaked the roster around fixtures Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, who remained hopeful San Jose's window for success hadn't shut completely even as the postseason meltdowns piled up.

"I always believed that next year was going to be the year, I really did," Thornton said. "I always thought we were a couple pieces away. Even last year not making the playoffs, I honestly thought we were a couple pieces away, and here we are."

The Penguins, like the Sharks, are a study in near instant alchemy. General manager Jim Rutherford rebuilt the team on the fly after taking over in June, 2014 and with the team sleepwalking last December, fired respected-but-hardly-charismatic Mike Johnston and replaced him with the decidedly harder-edged Mike Sullivan. The results were nearly instantaneous.

Freed to play to its strengths instead of guarding against its weaknesses, Pittsburgh rocketed through the second half of the season and showed the resilience it has sometimes lacked during Crosby's tenure by rallying from a 3-2 deficit against Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference finals, dominating Games 6 and 7 to finally earn a shot at bookending the Cup that was supposed to give birth to a dynasty but instead led to years of frustration.

True catharsis for one side is four wins away. Some things to look for over the next two weeks of what promises to be an entertaining final.

Fresh faces
When the season began, Matt Murray was in the minor leagues. Now the 22-year-old who was supposed to be Pittsburgh's goalie of the future is now very much the goalie of the present. Pressed into action when veteran Marc-Andre Fleury suffered a concussion on March 31, Murray held onto the job even after Fleury returned by playing with the steady hand of a guy in his 10th postseason, not his first. San Jose counterpart Martin Jones served as Jonathan Quick's backup when the Kings won it all in 2014 and has thrived while playing behind a defense that sometimes doesn't give him much to do. Jones has faced over 30 shots just four times during the playoffs.

"HBK" is H-O-T:
Pittsburgh's best line during the playoffs isn't the one centered by Crosby or Malkin but Nick Bonino, who has teamed with Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin to produce 17 goals and 28 assists in 18 games. Put together when Malkin missed six weeks with an elbow injury, the trio has given the Penguins the balance they desperately needed after years of being too reliant on their stars for production.

Powerful Sharks
San Jose's brilliant run to the Finals has been spearheaded by a power play that is converting on 27 percent (17 of 63) of its chances during the playoffs. The Sharks are 9-2 when they score with the man advantage and just 3-4 when it does not.

Old men and the C(up)
Both teams have relied heavily on players who began their NHL careers in another millennium. Pittsburgh center Matt Cullen, who turns 40 in November, has four goals during the playoffs. Thornton and Marleau, both 36, were taken with the top two picks in the 1997 draft that was held in Pittsburgh while 37-year-old Dainius Zubrus draws stares from younger teammates when he tells them he used to play against Hall of Famer (and current Penguins owner) Mario Lemieux.

"When I say 'Twenty years ago I was playing against Lemieux, they say 'I was 2-years-old,'" Zubrus said.

NBA Notes: Grizzlies hire Heat assistant David Fizdale as head coach


NBA Notes: Grizzlies hire Heat assistant David Fizdale as head coach

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Grizzlies have hired David Fizdale as their new coach and will introduce him in Memphis at a news conference Tuesday.

Memphis announced the move Sunday. The hiring was first reported Thursday by The Associated Press and others. The Grizzlies did not disclose terms, but Yahoo! Sports reported Fizdale agreed to a four-year contract.

General manager Chris Wallace said in a statement that the Grizzlies are confident Fizdale is the right person to help Memphis build on its success.

Fizdale has spent the past eight years with the Miami Heat, the past two as assistant head coach to Erik Spoelstra.

The new Grizzlies coach says he feels fortunate to have worked with some of the NBA's greatest coaches and players and believes he's ready for the challenge of being a head coach (see full story).

Antetokounmpo brothers combine for 133 points in charity game vs. Porzingis
ATHENS, Greece -- NBA stars Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks battled it out in Athens in a game of streetball Sunday, watched by a crowd of 5,000.

Played in an open court in Greece's largest public high school, the "Antetokounbros Streetball Event" ended 123-123. No overtime was played.

Porzingis scored 21 points but was overshadowed by team member Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Giannis' older brother, who scored 69. The two had played for a few games together last season, when Thanasis was signed by the Knicks on a 10-day contract. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the other team with 64 points. The other players were a mixture of veteran pros and amateurs.

On Saturday, Porzingis and the Antetonkoumpo brothers were given a private tour of the Acropolis Museum (see full story).  

Watch Ben Simmons rainbow kick his way into your hearts


Watch Ben Simmons rainbow kick his way into your hearts

Lately, you've heard and read a lot about potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons and how he could be a Sixer soon. And you're going to hear and read a ton more about potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons and how he could be a Sixer soon for the next three weeks and change.

But who cares about hearing and reading about him when we can actually watch him do some cool stuff instead?

Simmons posted the following video to his Twitter and Instagram accounts earlier on Sunday.

A lovely little strike on the pitch right past the keeper, something, something, Wayne Rooney, Leo Messi, Ronaldo's abs. That's the extent of my soccer knowledge. Though a guy who told me he knows some about soccer (I'll take his word for it) said that move is called a "rainbow kick." That sounds good. Let's go with that.

Simmons even tagged Messi in the Instagram vid. No response yet, though.

I like to think I know a little more about basketball than I do about soccer, so that swish after the rainbow kick was pretty nice.

I'm not sure how foot-eye coordination translates to NBA success. But seeing as how traveling doesn't really exist in the NBA anyway, maybe Simmonds can get away with it.

Oh, wait, I've got an idea: Imagine he and Jo-Jo, who likes himself some futbol, kicking it up the court then finishing it off with the rainbow-kick alley oop.

Yeah, that's the good stuff.