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.

Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley is jumping on the Sixers bandwagon.

"I think the Sixers gonna get really good, really quickly, but it all depends on (Joel) Embiid," Barkley said. "They're not gonna win a championship the next couple years, but I think they can really become a perrenial playoff team in the next three years."

Sounds good, right? Not so fast. There are a lot of "ifs" according to Barkley. 

Most of those "ifs" ride on the health of center Joel Embiid. If the big man gets healthy, and the Sixers can resolve the "glutton of big guys," Barkley likes the Sixers chances.

"I think the most important thing they need to figure out is if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. ... I like (Jahlil) Okafor and I like (Nerlens) Noel, but they gotta figure out if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. 

"I like Ben Simmons, but that team's got a long way to go," Barkley said.

To hear more of Barkley's thoughts on the Sixers' future, watch the full video above. 

 

 

Sources: Eagles to sign former Villanova LB Don Cherry and former Alabama S Nick Perry

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The Associated Press

Sources: Eagles to sign former Villanova LB Don Cherry and former Alabama S Nick Perry

The Eagles have a serious depth problem at linebacker, and they're looking at a local prospect to try to fix it. 

The team will sign former Villanova linebacker Don Cherry on Sunday, pending a physical, a league source told CSNPhilly.com. ESPN's Adam Caplan first reported the deal.

Cherry, 21, first signed with the Bears after going undrafted in the spring, but was cut by Chicago in June. 

The 6-1, 240-pound Cherry was an All-CAA selection as a sophomore, junior and senior. During his time on the Main Line, he was credited with 331 tackles, 46 1/2 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, seven forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception. 

Even with Cherry, the Eagles are still light in the depth department at linebacker. After starters Mychal Kendricks, Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham, the team has Najee Goode, Deontae Skinner, seventh-rounder Joe Walker and a couple of other undrafted free agents. 

After cutting wideout Jonathan Krause on Friday, the Eagles had three vacancies on their 90-man roster. They're filling another of those openings with former Alabama safety Nick Perry, according to a league source. The perry deal was first reported by Al.com's Matt Zenitz. The 6-1, 211-pound Perry spent last season on the Ravens' practice squad after going undrafted in 2015. 

Eagles training camp kicks off Monday, and the first full-team practice is Thursday. 

Union-Impact 5 things: Back to MLS grind after Open Cup ouster

Union-Impact 5 things: Back to MLS grind after Open Cup ouster

Philadelphia Union at Montreal Impact
7:30 p.m. on TCN

After getting eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup in crushing fashion Wednesday night in Boston, the Union (8-6-6) remain on the road for an MLS clash with the Montreal Impact (6-5-8) on Saturday. Here are five things to know about the Eastern Conference matchup north of the border:

1) Bouncing back
There’s no denying that missing out on the chance to win the 2016 U.S. Open Cup will sting. The Union have come so close to winning the trophy, getting knocked out in each of the last two finals, including a shootout loss in the 2015 title game. And on Wednesday against the New England Revolution, the Union once again suffered through the cruelty of losing in a shootout — an especially difficult result after they battled back to send the game to extra time with a dramatic 90th-minute equalizer from rookie Fabian Herbers.

But if there’s good news it’s that the Union no longer need to worry about the tricky endeavor of navigating through the Open Cup while also preparing for regular-season games. And unlike in the past two seasons, where they needed a deep Open Cup run to validate a year where they struggled in MLS play, this season’s team is right in the thick of the playoff race, currently sitting in second place in the East — four points up on fourth-place Montreal.

“There’s obviously disappointment but the silver lining is we can focus on the league and what we want to achieve at the end of the year — and that’s winning the MLS Cup,” rookie right back Keegan Rosenberry said. “So hopefully we can put more of our focus on that and it will pay off for us.”

2) Road woes
Although the Union have the second best record in their conference, they’ve done most of their damage at home. In fact, the team has only won once on the road in 2016 — in the second game of the season.

That’s something the Union are working to correct with head coach Jim Curtin saying earlier in the week that they’ve talked about “improving our road mentality.” At the same time, the team has had a few good draws away from home, including one at league-leading Colorado and another the last time they went to Montreal back in May.

That gives the Union confidence for their return trip.

“If you look at it, we haven’t won on the road since Columbus in Week 2,” Rosenberry said. “For us, that’s something of a challenge. Can we do better than that? We’ve been so good at home but it really shouldn’t change how we play when we go on the road. I think we put in a decent performance in Montreal the last time we played there and we were unlucky to give up a goal early. We’ll do our best to prevent that this time and hopefully we’ll come away with a result.”

3) Hey now, you’re an All-Star
The quick turnaround will naturally be a challenge for the Union, who will be playing their third game in seven days and 11th in 39 days leading into Thursday’s MLS All-Star Game. But the good news it that Rosenberry, who will be playing in that All-Star Game, was rested for all of Philly’s 120-minute affair vs. New England on Wednesday.

After returning from Montreal, Rosenberry will then quickly fly to San Jose to meet up with his fellow All-Stars, a group that includes teammate Andre Blake, who’s coming off a sensational game vs. New England.

“He’s playing in top form,” Curtin said of Blake. “There’s no surprise that he is an All-Star this year and will be starting against Arsenal. I’m happy for him, obviously.”

Before he goes to San Jose to begin preparations for Arsenal, Blake will need to be in top form again vs. Montreal, which boasts an attack that features Didier Drogba and Ignacio Piatti, both of whom will join Impact defender Laurent Ciman in the All-Star Game.

Yes, that’s five total All-Stars that will potentially be playing in Saturday’s game.

4) Keep an eye on
Union: Sebastien Le Toux: Ilsinho will have to miss Saturday’s game due to a red-card suspension, which is perhaps not the worst thing in the world considering he put in a grueling 120-minute shift Wednesday. But that still puts some pressure on Le Toux, the franchise stalwart who will likely be inserted into the starting lineup as he looks to put a PK miss in the Open Cup shootout behind him.

Impact: Harry Shipp: While the Impact have a lot of star power, including one of the most well-known players in the world in Didier Drogba, they also have a very talented young player in Shipp. Traded from Chicago in the offseason, Shipp got off to somewhat of a slow start in Montreal but has now scored goals in two of the Impact’s last three games.

5) This and that

  • Before Montreal’s 3-1 loss to New York City FC this past Sunday, they were unbeaten in their last six games
  • In the last Union-Impact game, Drogba and C.J. Sapong both scored first-half goals in a 1-1 draw at Stade Saputo on May 14.

  • The visiting team has only won once all-time in the series — a 1-0 Union win last August. Le Toux scored the only goal of that game to spoil Drogba’s MLS debut.

  • Piatti is second in the Golden Boot race with 11 goals (behind only New York City’s David Villa). The Union’s Chris Pontius is currently tied for 11th in the scoring lead with seven goals.