Eagles Draft a Winner for Its Simplicity

Eagles Draft a Winner for Its Simplicity

Every year we try to rationalize or critique the NFL Draft in
the days that follow as if some of us had a crystal ball. Sure, the grades
sportswriters hand out almost always come with the disclaimer that we won’t
really know which picks will pan out for 3-5 years, but that doesn’t stop
anybody from guessing.

Having said that, it’s difficult not to feel good about what
the Eagles accomplished over the weekend – and I don’t necessarily mean
specific players. Don’t get me wrong, I liked their choices, from an incredibly
athletic offensive tackle at No. 4, to a fourth-round quarterback who might
have been taken in the top five had he entered the draft a year ago. Even the
guys in the seventh seemed to be good values.

There’s no need for a sales pitch though. The Eagles did
simple things in this draft that fans have been clamoring for, if not begging
for them do for years.

For starters, Howie Roseman didn’t do a lot of maneuvering
up and down the draft board, which has been a staple of theirs for years.
Coming into this year, the Eagles had either moved up in the first round or out
of it entirely in five of the past six drafts, and seven out of 10. Again, that’s
in the first round alone.

This year Howie made one swap, sending a lone seventh
rounder to Jacksonville to jump up three spots into the first pick on day three,
where they got USC quarterback Matt Barkley. Every other time, they stood pat
and made their selections with conviction.

That’s not to say trading in the draft is intrinsically bad,
but sometimes it’s best to do the easy thing. Just stay put and take the best player
available when it’s Lane Johnson, a left tackle who could anchor your offensive
line for the next decade

Maybe it’s a little more effortless to be patient when the
war room is picking at the top of every round, but here’s another aspect of the
draft that should delight. Every single player chosen went to a school in a
major conference. All of ‘em.

There was no Matt McCoy, linebacker from San Diego St. in
round two, nor a Bryan Smith, defensive end/linebacker out of McNeese St. in the
third. Not surprisingly, Clay Harbor’s alma mater of Southwest Missouri St. did
not produce a player taken in the fourth round this year, while the Eagles didn’t
“steal” any talent from Delaware, North Dakota St., or Wheaton in the later
rounds, either.

That’s not to say good players never come from small
schools. Todd Herremans came from Saginaw Valley St., while one of the best
running backs in franchise history was Brian Westbrook out of Villanova. More
often than not though, they don’t.

In fact, we didn’t see a lot of weirdness in general. There
wasn’t that one terribly obvious reach like Jaiquawn Jarrett in the second.
They didn’t draft a defensive end and immediately announce they were going to
move him to linebacker as the Eagles once did with Chris Gocong. They didn’t go
after any players with career threatening injuries such as a Jack Ikegwuonu,
either.

Every selection was a sound football player from a good
program, tremendous athletes without lengthy medical histories who already fit
their defined roles. Imagine that.

And here’s one more: most of these are kids Chip Kelly had first-hand
experience coaching against. He didn’t just scout these players from a draft standpoint.
Kelly actually had to figure out how to stop several of these players or
minimize their impact on a game as a head coach. In some cases, such as Stanford
tight end Zach Ertz, he couldn’t stop them.

It gave the Eagles a different perspective on players like
Ertz, Barkley, LSU defensive lineman Bennie Logan, and Oregon St. corner Jordan
Poyer. Somehow that little bit of extra knowledge just makes me more
comfortable about those picks.

Obviously how history ultimately views this group of players
will be based on what they do on football field, not day-after grades, what
schools they went to, or how many picks were dealt or stockpiled while making
the selections. Still you get the sense though that Roseman and Kelly were content to
allow the draft to come to them instead of looking for every angle. There’s no
doubt that was a welcome change.

Phillies can exhale after bullpen nearly blows 10-0 lead

Phillies can exhale after bullpen nearly blows 10-0 lead

BOX SCORE

The moment when the ball struck first baseman Tommy Joseph’s glove for the final out of the Phillies 10-8 win over the Mets — dealing a major blow to their rival’s wild card hopes in the process — felt more like a collective exhalation than a moment of celebration (see Instant Replay).
 
Two days earlier, the bullpen faltered suddenly. A game-tying two-run homer by Jose Reyes in the ninth was the first body blow. The game-winning three-run homer by Asdrubal Cabrera was the knockout.
 
Saturday, the collapse occurred over the course of five innings as the Phillies let a lead that was once 10-0 slip away, one drawn-out at-bat after another.
 
Missing, of course, was the moment of impact in the proverbial slow-motion car crash, thanks to well-placed sinkers and four-seamers from Michael Mariot.
 
“The bullpen’s been sputtering,” manager Pete Mackanin said in an understatement.
 
Joely Rodriguez entered in the sixth inning with a 10-4 lead to face a string of lefties and it quickly became apparent that he did not have his fastball. A middle-in four-seamer that caught too much of the plate was slapped for a double by Mets shortstop Gavin Cecchini, his first major-league hit and a run. A second run scored when a little dribbler by third baseman T.J. Rivera died on the third base line, leaving Rodriguez with no play.
 
“He just didn’t throw quality strikes,” Mackanin said.
 
Even the normally-reliable Hector Neris struggled on Saturday. In his 77th outing of the season, Neris walked two straight batters and then surrendered an RBI double to Cecchini of his own which narrowed the lead to 10-7 and thrust the uncertainty of a save situation onto Mackanin.
 
Mariot was given first crack at the ninth inning one day after Mackanin said he would give Jeanmar Gomez a break from closing duties.
 
Mariot’s audition got off to a rough start. He gave up a pinch-hit solo home run to Jay Bruce — who had been mired in an 0-15 slump — with one out in the ninth and then walked Eric Campbell and Michael Conforto after a pair of grueling at-bats that lasted a combined 18 pitches.
 
The two hitters fouled off eight of Mariot’s pitches and took several four-seamers that just missed the plate.
 
“I was pretty upset about that,” Mariot said of the four-seamers that missed. “I was hoping to get at least a swing or maybe a call on those. Talking to [catcher] A.J. [Ellis], I think he said that they missed but I was hoping at least one of them to get called a strike.”
 
Gomez was up in the Phillies’ bullpen but Mariot ensured that Mackanin wouldn’t need to throw the recently-struggling closer back into the fire in a high-stress situation.
 
Mariot was able to locate his fastball when he needed to most. He fooled Lucas Duda with a two-seamer that the slugger popped out to Freddy Galvis and got Travis D’Arnaud to ground a four-seamer outside right back to him.
 
“I just told myself: ‘keep throwing strikes and good things will happen,’” Mariot said.
 
He threw just enough strikes to ensure that the Phillies didn’t end up on the wrong end of what would have been the Mets’ biggest comeback in team history.

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College football wrap: Auburn upsets No. 18 LSU with controversial finish

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College football wrap: Auburn upsets No. 18 LSU with controversial finish

AUBURN, Ala. -- Gus Malzahn was ready to try anything to get a win for his Auburn Tigers.

Malzahn relinquished offensive play-calling duties. Following his daughters' advice, he traded his usual game-day visor for a cap. And then, when the clock expired and LSU players were celebrating an apparent last-second win, the Auburn coach put all his faith in a ruling he couldn't control.

Daniel Carlson kicked six field goals and Auburn beat No. 18 LSU 18-13 on Saturday night after officials ruled Danny Etling's apparent last-gasp scoring pass came after time expired.

Malzahn said he knew there were only zeroes on the clock before the snap to Etling.

"I was pretty confident time had expired," Malzahn said. "It was just a matter of going to the booth and confirming it."

Etling rolled to his right and found D.J. Shark in the back of the end zone on a 15-yard pass, setting off a short-lived celebration by LSU players (see full recap).

Hornibrook proves he's ready in Badgers' win over Spartans
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- By the time Alex Hornibrook's first start was over, there wasn't much question about whether he could handle one of the toughest road tests in the Big Ten.

Hornibrook threw for 195 yards and a touchdown, and 11th-ranked Wisconsin turned its early-season showdown with No. 8 Michigan State into a rout, beating the Spartans 30-6 on Saturday.

"You've got to have respect for a guy whose first start is against a Michigan State defense," Wisconsin running back Corey Clement said.

"He's going to come out the next game and do even better. I think he's just getting his feet wet."

The freshman quarterback outplayed fifth-year senior Tyler O'Connor, his Michigan State counterpart. The Badgers (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) were the better team in the first half and then outscored the Spartans 17-0 in the third quarter (see full recap).

No. 23 Rebels find their rhythm, beat No. 12 Georgia 45-14
OXFORD, Miss. -- Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly faked the handoff and then took off running toward the end zone. A few seconds and 41 yards later, the quarterback had cruised through the middle of the Georgia defense and into the end zone untouched.

It was pretty much that easy for the Rebels all afternoon. Ole Miss finally built a lead it couldn't give away.

No. 23 Ole Miss rolled to a 45-14 victory over No. 12 Georgia on Saturday, building a 31-0 lead by halftime and a 45-0 advantage by midway through the fourth quarter.

Kelly threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns. Ole Miss (2-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) broke a 10-game losing streak in the series dating to 1996 (see full recap).

Dobbs rallies No. 14 Vols to 38-28 win over No. 19 Gators
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- This time, Tennessee delivered the comeback.

And in the process, the Volunteers took out 11 years' worth of frustration on Florida.

Joshua Dobbs accounted for five second-half touchdowns Saturday and No. 14 Tennessee erased a 21-point deficit to beat No. 19 Florida 38-28 and end their 11-game losing streak in the annual series.

"I didn't see anybody blink," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. "Nobody flinched. They just kept playing."

This marks the first time Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) has beaten Florida (3-1, 1-1) since 2004. The Volunteers had lost to Florida by one point each of the last two years despite leading in the fourth quarter of both games (see full recap).