Eagles Circle the Wagons in Buffalo

Eagles Circle the Wagons in Buffalo

Honestly, the more people who jump from the Philadelphia Eagles bandwagon, the better off this team probably is at this point.

Two of the biggest elements that have come back to haunt this club so far are perceptions and expectations -- the perception this was a "Dream Team" of sorts, and the Championship expectations that came along with that obnoxious label. Now that they are 1-3, the summer of free agent splashes a distant memory, all that's left is to play football.

Frankly, that's all football players should be doing.

There has been a massive shift in pressure away from the guys in pads, who are largely responsible for the dramatic errors that cost the Eagles three consecutive games. Instead the weight now rests squarely on the coaching staff and folks whose finger prints are all over this roster -- especially Juan Castillo, Andy Reid, and Howie Roseman.

Which is fine. One thing we've seen from this organization through the years is they are unwavering in the face of criticism. The men in charge will continue to work diligently toward solutions, while the media and fans continue banging the "Fire Reid" drum.

That's been our way over the past bunch of years.

Let's not forget who created the "Dream Team" moniker in the first place though: the players. Actually, it was Vince Young, but the way Pro Bowlers flocked to the nest intimated there was a belief that if you wanted to win a Super Bowl, sign in Philly.

In other words, it was another set of expectations that may have doomed the Eagles out of the gate: their own. They expected to win, expected to be in the race until the end. The postseason would come, because it usually does in Philadelphia, and because look at us! We've already won... on paper.

Michael Vick declared that was over with now, and for once, even those who doubt his sincerity have every reason to believe him. The losing is becoming embarrassing, not that it wasn't already, but if the individuals on this team have any pride at all, every person in that locker room should be able to dig deep and find some extra motivation to pull out of this.

And if you don't think motivation alone is enough to cover up the glaring holes that are still so prescient on the depth chart, that's fine too. The Eagles have done some of their best work when they were left for dead, their backs against the wall -- in '08, '06, and to a lesser degree, '03 -- long after many fans assumed they weren't going anywhere.

We're about to find out whether the 2011 iteration has that kind of character, or whether this season truly is spiraling out of control. Whatever the case, at least they should be loose, because those perceptions and expectations are long gone.

Notes

Jason Peters and Trent Cole are out today. King Dunlap takes Peters' place at left tackle. The Eagles' rotation at defensive end will be a little thin without Cole though -- Darryl Tapp and Juqua Parker return from injuries, but could still be slowed. Derek Landri was also brought back to replace Antonio Dixon, who went on injured reserve and was done for the year. Landri had a strong preseason, picking up two sacks. Danny Watkins makes his first NFL today at right guard.

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Philadelphia Phillies right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration --- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos.

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- The Latest on a fatal traffic crash in Arizona involving a Dallas Cowboys bus (all times local):

6:55 p.m.

Four people were killed when a Dallas Cowboys bus collided with a van in Arizona.

Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr says all the fatalities in the Sunday crash were passengers in the van.

Mehr didn't say what led to the crash on U.S. Highway 93 in western Arizona.

Dallas Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple says the bus had no players, only staff members on board. They suffered "bumps and bruises."

According to the Department of Public Safety, the collision occurred about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman.

The bus was en route to Las Vegas for an afternoon fan event where organizers say the team's mascot was expected to appear.

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6:30 p.m.

A spokesman for the Dallas Cowboys says passengers on a team-owned bus escaped serious injury in a collision with another vehicle that killed at least one person in Arizona.

Team spokesman Rich Dalrymple says people on the bus suffered only "bumps and bruises" in the Sunday crash on U.S. Highway 93.

Dalrymple didn't say if any players or staff were onboard the bus.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety says the collision occurred about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, in western Arizona.

The agency said it was a fatal crash but couldn't immediately confirm the number of people killed.

The bus was heading to an afternoon fan event in Las Vegas where organizers say the team's mascot was expected to appear.

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Jeremy Hellickson may be staying in the NL East past the trade deadline. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are scouting the Marlins' minor league teams in advance of a possible Hellickson deal. 

This comes on the heels of a report from a radio host in Miami that Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen may need Tommy John surgery. Chen left with an elbow sprain during Wednesday's loss to the Phillies and was placed on the disabled list. Ironically, Chen was starting against Hellickson, who will face Jarred Cosart in place of Chen on Monday.

Hellickson's value rebounded significantly this season after struggling in Arizona and Tampa Bay the last few seasons. After dealing with a shoulder injury, Hellickson pitched to ERAs above 4.50 in each season from 2013-15, leading to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Phillies for limited value. 

However, in 20 starts, Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the year, has anchored the Phillies' rotation, bringing a 3.84 ERA over 119 ⅔ innings into Monday's scheduled start. He also has a nearly career-best strikeout rate and has regained his signature command that made him a strong performer with the Rays.

The Phillies are aided this trade deadline by a lack of starting pitching options available on the market. With many teams in contention looking for an additional starter, Hellickson is an attractive piece who could help a team in a pennant race.