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]

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

NEW ORLEANS — Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to coexist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right foot fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

I like to give Flyers fans a bit of a hard time on occasion, but that's only because I love them.

One beautiful Flyers fan today reminded me of why I love them.

They took the time to send a postcard to CSNPhilly.com's Flyers Insider -- and hater of the woo -- Tim Panaccio with one single word written on it.

"Woo."

Panotch says "Someone wasted a stamp and post card on this," but I say we just generated at least 50 cents in ad revenue from those of you that are reading this right now.

Money and time well spent.

Now, if you're not up on your wooing, Panotch penned a piece on how some fans wooing at games started annoying some of the players. Panotch hates the woo. BUT... and this is an important but... the Flyers are 6-0 since this all started. 

Woo.