Eagles Play Musical Chairs With Linebackers

Eagles Play Musical Chairs With Linebackers

Well, that lasted all of two weeks.

After two subpar games as the starting middle linebacker, the Eagles have thought better of the Casey Matthews experiment, and will relocate the overwhelmed rookie according to Birds' Eye View. Stepping into his role will be Jamar Chaney, who struggled to cover Tony Gonzalez on Sunday night, but shined at his true position on the inside late last season.

Matthews slides over to the weakside, while Moise Fokou will shift back to strongside, where he's spent time in previous seasons.

This is closer to the lineup most observers envisioned before the lockout ended and training camp began.

Chaney drew rave reviews for his play in the final three games last season while filling in for Stewart Bradley after he succumbed to a dislocated elbow. Expectations were high for the second year player out of Mississippi State, who showcased his speed, physicality, and instinct during the limited opportunity. It was assumed that was one reason they let Bradley walk.

However, Chaney's talent had not translated to his new role through the first two games.

Meanwhile, it was suspected Matthews could come in and compete this summer for a job at one of the outside positions, where nothing was nailed down. Instead, the fourth round pick wound up in the middle where his limitations were painfully obvious, especially defending the run. He failed to shed blocks and was pushed around with ease far too often.

Matthews has great football IQ though, and has flashed ability in coverage, so he could still have some value this season.

With all of that in mind, the Eagles will likely draw criticism for not making this decision in the first place. They had one guy who looked like a natural MIKE linebacker, and another less athletic, less experienced player who was forced to learn on the fly after the shortened off-season.

In this case, it's difficult to defend the process. Had the usual off-season programs been in place, maybe the coaching staff would have reached this conclusion earlier, but since those practices weren't held, that's no excuse. The team could have stuck to conventional thinking from the beginning, or at the very least, made these moves following the preseason, not unlike what they did with the offensive line.

But the change has been made, and thankfully before too much damage was done. The linebackers clearly were a big reason for Sunday night's meltdown though, and while they were far from the only players with a role in that loss, the Eagles aren't waiting for more disaster to unfold.

>> Chaney to MLB; Matthews to WLB [BEV]

Phillies officially sign outfielder Michael Saunders, DFA Severino Gonzalez

Phillies officially sign outfielder Michael Saunders, DFA Severino Gonzalez

The Phillies on Thursday officially announced the signing of outfielder Michael Saunders to a one-year deal with a club option for 2018. 

According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, Saunders will make $9 million this season with the Phillies and the club option for 2018 will be worth $11 million with escalators potentially pushing it to $14 million.

Saunders, 30, is the left-handed hitting outfield bat the Phils were seeking. He hit 24 home runs for the Blue Jays last season in his walk year, making the AL All-Star team before slumping in the second half.

Saunders hit .298/.372/.551 with 16 homers in 82 games for the Blue Jays before the All-Star break, then hit .178/.282/.357 with eight homers in 58 games after.

He had a good year against same-handed pitching, hitting .275 with a .927 OPS and eight homers against lefties. 

He'll likely start in right field for the Phillies, with Odubel Herrera in center and Howie Kendrick in left (see Phils' projected lineup).

Saunders, who will wear No. 5, can also play first base, which could allow the Phillies to sit Tommy Joseph against a tough right-hander and fill in the outfield.

It was important to Phillies GM Matt Klentak that the player he signed to fill the spot in the outfield was not going to block young outfielders like Roman Quinn, Nick Williams and others.

On a one-year deal, Saunders came relatively cheap to the Phils, lingering in free agency as other hitters found contracts. In the middle of last summer, Saunders seemed poised for a multi-year contract like the four-year, $52 million deal Josh Reddick signed with the Astros. His second half cost him some money.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Saunders, the Phillies designated right-hander Severino Gonzalez for assignment.

There's another Embiid WWE 2K17 entrance and it includes Hinkie

There's another Embiid WWE 2K17 entrance and it includes Hinkie

He’s done it again.
 
Eleven days ago, Sixers social media went wild over a video that showed Joel Embiid walking out to the ring as a WWE character in WWE 2K17. Well, YouTube user Hillman811 is back with an even better version of the video complete with Sam Hinkie and fans chanting.
 
The first video sparked questions to Embiid about his favorite WWE wrestler, and he even did his own Triple H introduction at the Wells Fargo Center after The Game threw him an All-Star vote (see story).
 
Watch the video below and let your mind run wild with what this would look like if it actually happened.