Breaking down the Eagles’ dominant finish in Green Bay

Breaking down the Eagles’ dominant finish in Green Bay

When was the last time we saw the Eagles simply overpower an opponent the way they did the Packers in the fourth quarter on Sunday?

There are a ton of things to like about the Birds right now. Nick Foles can’t seem to make a mistake. LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are about to reach 1,000-yard milestones. The defense hasn’t allowed more than 21 points in six games. We’re 10 games into Chip Kelly’s first season as head coach, and the team has already surpassed last year’s win total. The playoffs are on everybody’s mind.

What I enjoyed most of all about the victory in Green Bay though was the dominant fashion in which they closed out the game. Following a turnover on downs, the Eagles were awarded the ball at their own 8-yard line with 9:32 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Packers never took possession again.

The Eagles called 16 plays total on that final drive. 12 were runs. Three were kneel-downs. The only pass attempt was on 3rd-and-7, their lone third-down conversion of the series.

Green Bay knew exactly what was coming, yet they were powerless to stop it. McCoy carried seven times for 41 yards. Bryce Brown ran twice for 11 more. Foles iced the game with a zone-read keeper for nine. Nine minutes and 32 seconds, gone, just like that.

This is the same club that’s ranked dead last in the NFL in time of possession this season. Even up to that point in the game, Philadelphia had only held the ball 16 minutes to the Packs’ 34. If their defense was tired, it was not for lack of rest.

No team strikes faster than the Eagles with an average scoring drive south of two minutes per Philly.com’s Jimmy Kempski. Some weeks, Chip has proven incapable of slowing down the pace to his own detriment. He slowed it down to a crawl on Sunday though, and his offense was still unstoppable.

He didn’t do anything special or tricky at all. It was one handoff after another, offensive linemen and tight ends pushing defenders out of holes, backs trusting their lanes, running with power and staying in bounds.

And this was without Jason Peters on the field, the All-Pro left tackle exiting the game earlier with a quad injury. This was against the NFL’s fifth-ranked run defense entering Week 10.

That is how good teams finish games. That is something we haven’t seen in Philadelphia since who knows when. It’s been years.

Afterwards, McCoy expanded on his offensive line’s performance. Per Reuben Frank for CSN:

“I think the offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage,” McCoy said. “The backs we have, you give us 1-on-1 opportunity with a linebacker, defensive end or a safety, nine times out of 10, we’re going to make them miss, and today that’s what’s happened.

“I think it’s one thing for a back to be confident to run the ball, it’s another when the guys up front want to run the ball even more than you do. It says a lot about the guys up front the way they played today.”

And left guard Evan Mathis, who is charting as the club’s best run blocker according to metrics by Pro Football Focus:

“As far as a football game goes, you don’t usually have more fun than that,” guard Evan Mathis said.

“You’re ahead, which is good, and then to go out there with nine-plus minutes on the clock and be able to run the ball effectively and be able to completely control the clock, get first downs, it’s a great feeling.

“We take a lot of pride in being able to do that. It’s comforting knowing that you’re able to do that.”

It doesn’t get much better than knowing if the game is on the line and all the offense needs is a first down to put it away, they have the ability to lean forward and take it. At its nuts and bolts, football is still and will always be about dominating up front.

Did the Eagles have the Packers defeated before they went on that march? Probably, but why let them go out shooting? Good teams quietly smother opponents and go into their victory formation.

The Eagles just took a huge step toward becoming one of those good teams.

Alec Asher lone bright spot as Phillies continue to limp to finish with another loss to Mets

Alec Asher lone bright spot as Phillies continue to limp to finish with another loss to Mets

The Phillies returned home from a bad road trip Friday with only three games to play and the only thing to play for being the role of spoilers.

With the New York Mets in town looking to put a stranglehold on a wildcard spot, the Phillies, as another losing season finishes out, could be a thorn in the side of their rivals.

Alec Asher looked like he was playing the part of spoiler, retiring the first 11 batters he faced, but the Mets rallied, got behind starter Robert Gsellman, and turned back any Phillies sabotaging on this night, beating the home team, 5-1.

The two teams are heading in quite opposite directions.

The Mets, with their win, clinched at least a tiebreaker in the wildcard and guaranteed their season not ending on Sunday, the league’s final regular season date.

The Phillies on the other hand… 

“We’re certainly limping home,” said manager Pete Mackanin an hour or so after being ejected for the first time this year. “Not playing well, not swinging the bats very well.”

They struck out 14 times Friday night. And after scraping a run across in the second inning, never really looked like they were in the game at the plate.

Mackanin's ejection came in the eighth inning. Mackanin wasn’t happy with first base umpire Will Little and was thrown out of a game. Reliever Michael Mariot threw a fastball in on Yoenis Cespedes and Cespedes appeared to lose control of the bat through the strike zone. When appealed to, Little ruled Cespedes did not swing, and out came Mackanin.

"I had to get thrown out there," Mackanin said.

Perhaps he just couldn't stand to watch anymore. 

Gsellman battled through some early struggles and stymied the Phillies’ offense. Gsellman turned in six innings of one-run baseball, improving to 4-2 on the year. He allowed one run on seven hits and struck out seven.

Asher, in his last start of 2016, was the lone bright spot on this night.

With two outs in the fourth, his brief perfect game bid was ended with a single from Yoenis Cespedes. That was followed by another from Curtis Granderson. 

Jay Bruce then worked a full count but Asher couldn’t put him away. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Bruce singled home Cespedes to tie the score. 

A fourth consecutive single, this time off the bat of T.J. Rivera, allowed Granderson to cross the plate for a 2-1 Mets lead.

Asher’s night and season ended with a Bruce home run - his third in as many games - to lead off the top of the seventh.

“I wanted to go sinker away and just kind of got it mid-thigh belt,” Asher said. “He took advantage of the mistake.”

Asher, 24, went six-plus innings Friday, throwing 104 pitches while allowing three runs on five hits. He struck out four and walked zero.

His 2016 finishes with a 2.28 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 27 ⅔ innings pitched. He struck out 13 and walked four.

“Last year when Asher was here I recall being asked if it was a smart thing to do because he got rocked so badly,” Mackanin said. “We talked about if and when he did get back to the big leagues if he would be able to handle it. What kind of make up he had. Certainly he made an adjustment. Added a two-seam fastball which he never had. Has a plus changeup. He needs a little more work on his breaking ball, but nevertheless he’s pitched well since he’s been back. He’s done a good job.”

The Phillies bullpen hasn’t lately.

Mariot, in relief of Asher, gave up two runs in 1 ⅔ innings of relief, including Bruce’s third RBI of the night to give the Mets a 5-1 lead.

The Phillies offense then went quietly into the fall night. The Mets didn’t allow a hit from the final 12 Phillies hitters.

Their season will continue beyond Sunday.

“It’s step one of a bigger accomplishment,” said Mets manager Terry Collins. “We’re certainly pleased we get to play past Sunday.”

The Phillies are just limping.

Orthopedist on Ben Simmons' injury: 'The prognosis is good'

Orthopedist on Ben Simmons' injury: 'The prognosis is good'

On Friday, Sixers fans got some bad news when the team revealed that No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot.

The Sixers didn't give a timetable for his return, saying that they were reviewing treatment options for the 6-foot-10 point-forward.

As a guest on CSNPhilly's Sportsnet Central, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mark Schwartz gave a little insight into Simmons' injury. Schwartz is not treating Simmons, but has dealt with similar injuries. Schwartz believes the prognosis is good for the Sixers' rookie.

"The big question is where the exact location of this fracture is," Schwartz said. "That will dictate the prognosis and the treatment. If it's at the base of the fifth metatarsal, it's usually a non-surgical treatment. It's usually a cast/boot for six to eight weeks and return to play somewhere around eight weeks."

That would be great news considering Sixers fans didn't get to see Nerlens Noel the year he was drafted and are still awaiting the debut of 2014 draft pick Joel Embiid. 

Schwartz warns that the injury could be something known as a Jones fracture, which would likely require surgery and the recovery could be three to four months. The prognosis would still be good, according to Schwartz, but other NBA players have had lengthy recoveries with a similar injury.

"The prognosis is still good, but we know that Kevin Durant had a Jones fracture and he was out for an entire season because of it not healing," Schwartz said. "But the prognosis is good, however, the question is whether it's going to require surgery or not."

For more from Schwartz on Simmons' injury and possible timetable, check out the video above.