Eagles Need Not Look Outside the Organization to Replace Jeremy Maclin

Eagles Need Not Look Outside the Organization to Replace Jeremy Maclin

Given the terrible luck that’s befallen Jeremy Maclin, it’s not surprising many fans and some in the media immediately looked to the pool of free agents or racked their brains over potential trades to unearth a solution for the sudden void that was created in the Eagles’ offense. The simple fact of the matter is that won’t be necessary.

There really is no good reason or even need at all for the front office to go outside the organization to find Maclin’s replacement. The offense was already going to be more reliant on multiple tight ends and a strong ground attack, the likely targets to replace Maclin are not very strong for the most part in the first place, and it’s not as if there is any expectation the Birds win a Super Bowl this year anyway.

The point about a more tight end/running back-centric offense is a logical place to begin. Any other season, on almost any other team in the league, Maclin’s injury would be devastating. It’s a huge blow to the Eagles for sure, and we don’t mean to minimize that, but it’s not as if the wide receiver position was building up to be the focal point of Chip Kelly’s offense.

The Eagles have a fleet of running backs and tight ends practically any general manager in the NFL would be jealous of. If Maclin’s absence means a few extra touches for LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown, nobody is going to mind. If it means more two and three tight-end sets with Brent Celek, James Casey, and Zach Ertz creating mismatches down the middle of the field, it’s hard to find the flaw in that.

GM Howie Roseman spoke to how personnel-driven Kelly’s approach is prior to Sunday’s practice at the Linc, almost confirming Maclin’s absence will likely result in increased roles for backs and tight ends (transcribed by PhiladelphiaEagles.com).

"When you met with Chip originally, he's much more personnel-driven than even I thought just from observing him at Oregon," said Roseman. "It's going to be based on the guys who are producing at a high level and if that's the tight end position, they'll get more reps, if it's the receiver position, if it's the running back group. I think that's yet to be determined since we're so early in camp."

It’s not like wide receiver is a total wasteland on this roster, either. Obviously the Eagles still have DeSean Jackson, who figures to be as dangerous as ever in the new scheme. Either Damaris Johnson or Jason Avant – maybe both – will be a threat running out of the slot. Then there are in-house options to fill in on the outside opposite DeSean as well.

Arrelious Benn was a second-round pick by Tampa Bay in 2010, catching 30 passes for 440 yards and three scores in his second season there before he was derailed by injuries and shipped to Philly. Riley Cooper set career highs last year with 23-248-3 in a limited role. And the slew of bubble players is headlined by Ifeanyi Momah, the 6-7 giant who runs a lightning 4.4 40.

Granted all of Maclin’s probable replacements have either been underwhelming during their short careers, or are unproven entirely. Having said that, this unfortunate situation provides the coaching staff an opportunity to find out exactly what it has in these young players. It’s not like the kids could do a lot worse than most of what’s available to sign.

The singular free agent of intrigue is Brandon Lloyd, who hauled in 74 balls for 911 yards and four touchdowns with the Patriots just last season. Outside of that, other possibilities leave a lot to be desired – Laurent Robinson is the best of the rest. Some of the suggestions are frankly absurd – namely Chad Johnson, Randy Moss, or Terrell Owens.

Chip doesn’t want the circus coming to town when he’s trying to instill a new attitude in the Eagles’ locker room, so you can forget Johnson, Moss, and Owens – none of whom can still go at this point in their careers to begin with. And there really is no reason to add other aging veterans who were never all that good, like Robinson, or Austin Collie, or Jabar Gaffney, or… why? Give one good reason why.

The only person you can reasonably make a case for is Lloyd, and he admittedly looks like an upgrade over what the Eagles have. At the same time, bringing him in prevents guys like Benn, Cooper, and Momah from getting a serious look – why would anybody want that? Again, this season is not Super Bowl or bust.

If the team was coming off of a solid season and looking to make some noise with a deep playoff run this January, then it would be a different story. The Eagles are trying to build for the future though, a future Brandon Lloyd will have no part in. He may make them better right away, but his presence doesn’t help them beyond 2013. Instead it only serves to hinder their progress, something Roseman also seems to realize (via Reuben Frank).

“You want your young players to grow and develop, and that’s why you keep young players on your roster. You look at the good teams in this league, that’s what they do with their players. They develop them, they groom them, then they give them an opportunity.”

“So sitting here, it’s not even August, we have a lot of reps to evaluate our team, and it doesn’t mean we’re not going to look for ways to improve. But at the end of the day, you have to show confidence in the players that you brought in.”

The Eagles lost a very good receiver, one there is no clear-cut replacement for, but now is not the time to make panicky decisions. There is plenty of competition for Maclin’s spot without adding has-beens and never-weres to the mix, or even rentals that might turn out to be only a marginal upgrade.

As Roseman more or less put it, there is a reason those guys are all free agents, and the players on the Eagles’ roster are at camp.

“That's what [training camp] is for, the competition, and that's why we brought in people to compete."

Stick to the plan. There’s no good reason not to.

Best of MLB: Stephen Strasburg stays unbeaten as Nats pound Cards

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Best of MLB: Stephen Strasburg stays unbeaten as Nats pound Cards

WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg (9-0) won his 12th consecutive decision dating to last season, pitching six innings of one-run ball as Washington salvaged a four-game split.

Strasburg improved to 12-0 in 15 starts since losing to the Mets on Sept. 9, and the Nationals have won all 15 of those games. The 12 consecutive winning decisions is a franchise record for a starter, breaking a mark shared by Livan Hernandez (2005) and Dennis Martinez (1989).

Jayson Werth connected for a pinch-hit grand slam. Wilson Ramos had three hits, including a two-run homer, and drove in four runs. Bryce Harper hit an RBI single during a three-run fourth off Michael Wacha (2-6), who lost his sixth straight decision (see full recap).

Dodgers score twice in 9th to top Mets
NEW YORK -- Adrian Gonzalez snapped a ninth-inning tie with a two-run single off suddenly struggling closer Jeurys Familia, and Los Angeles beat New York.

Curtis Granderson hit a tying triple for the Mets immediately after Clayton Kershaw was lifted with two outs in the eighth. But the Dodgers quickly regrouped for their sixth victory in seven games since losing four straight.

Kershaw struck out 10, walked none and capped a magnificent May with another sublime performance.

Adam Liberatore (1-0) got the win. Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th save.

Familia (2-1) allowed two runs on two hits and two walks (see full recap).

Castro's homer Yanks' only hit in victory
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Starlin Castro's two-run, seventh-inning homer off Jake Odorizzi was the Yankees' only hit of the game, enough to give New York a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

According to Baseball Reference data going back to 1913, the Yankees' only other one-hit win was when Charlie Mullen had an RBI single to beat Cleveland in six innings in a doubleheader nightcap on July 10, 1914.

Nathan Eovaldi (6-2) gave up one run and six hits in six innings to win his career-best fifth consecutive start and beat Odorizzi (2-3).

Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman each pitched a perfect inning and combined for seven strikeouts. Chapman got his seventh save (see full recap).

Deitrich hurt on odd play in Marlins' win over Braves
ATLANTA -- Derek Dietrich hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer and drove in four runs before getting hurt on a foul ball hit into Miami's dugout.

Dietrich's homer landed deep in the lower section of the right-field seats in the sixth, giving Miami a 3-1 lead. A former Georgia Tech star, Dietrich added a two-run double off Eric O'Flaherty in the seventh inning, then was hit by a foul ball off the bat of Christian Yelich in the ninth.

The team said X-rays were negative and Dietrich was to remain in Atlanta on Sunday night for further evaluations.

Tom Koehler (3-5) allowed three runs -- two earned -- three hits and five walks in seven-plus innings. Julio Teheran (1-5) gave up three runs, five hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings (see full recap).

Correa's home run lifts Astros over Angels in 13
ANAHEIM, Calif.  -- Pinch-hitter Carlos Correa had a three-run homer off Mike Morin (1-1) in the 13th inning.

Correa got a run-scoring hit in the 13th inning for the second time in six games, following up his game-ending single against Baltimore on Tuesday.

Albert Pujols had three hits for the Angels, who blew an eighth-inning lead and stranded 14 runners while losing for the fourth time in five games.

Michael Feliz (3-1) pitched the 12th for Houston (see full recap).

Report: P.J. Carlesimo won't join Sixers' coaching staff

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Report: P.J. Carlesimo won't join Sixers' coaching staff

It doesn't sound like the Sixers' replacement for Mike D'Antoni will be the most rumored name for the position.

NBA coaching veteran P.J. Carlesimo has decided to not join Brett Brown's staff as associate head coach and instead will remain a television analyst, according to tweets Sunday night by ESPN's Mark Stein.

Stein added that despite "strong mutual interest," Carlesimo made the decision for family reasons.

The 67-year-old Carlesimo has spent parts of nine seasons as a head coach in the league and five more as an assistant. He was last on a NBA bench when he took over as the Brooklyn Nets' interim head coach in 2012-13.

So the Sixers still have a vacancy on their bench after D'Antoni, who joined the Sixers in the middle of last season after Jerry Colangelo joined the organization, signed on to become head coach of the Houston Rockets last week. Who the team's next choice for the role is remains to be seen.

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

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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.