Eagles special teams coach says Henery is 14th best kicker in NFL (roughly)

Eagles special teams coach says Henery is 14th best kicker in NFL (roughly)

By the end of the 2013 season, it was painfully obvious the Philadelphia Eagles needed a new kicker. Alex Henery’s inability to consistently boom kickoffs out of the end zone—in a dome, mind you—compelled the Birds to attempt a series of unsuccessful squib and mortar kicks in a Week 15 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Then Henery missed a 48-yard field goal badly in a 26-24 first-round playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints.

We can all count. Those points would’ve helped.

The Eagles seem to realize Henery has his shortcomings, to put it mildly, otherwise they would not have used a roster spot on Carey Spear, aka Murderleg, the undrafted kicker out of Vanderbilt. Yet as special teams coach Dave Fipp explained to Reuben Frank for CSNPhilly.com, improving from Henery could be a challenge.

You see, Fipp is under the (mistaken) impression that Henery is an above-average NFL kicker.

“At the end of the day he’s still a really good kicker,” Fipp said. “There are a lot of teams that would like to have a kicker as accurate as him on their team.

“Would you like him to be better on kickoffs? Sure you would. But if you take both of those stats, where does he rank in the league in [field goals and kickoffs], and add 'em up and divide by two … he’s roughly the 14th-best kicker in this league.

“So there’s 17 teams that want a guy as good as him.”

It’s not entirely clear where Fipp comes up with the numbers for his own little ranking system. Last season, Henery finished 23rd in field-goal percentage and tied for 20th in touchback percentage, so clearly he wasn’t adding up the raw numbers.

Earlier in his conversation with Roob, Fipp points out that Henery has attempted—and missed—field goals attempts of 60 and 61 yards during his three-year NFL career. If we take those out of the equation, Henery’s career accuracy improves dramatically.

But therein lies part of the problem. More and more kickers in today’s league can make that kick. Six of the 14 field goals of 60 or more yards made in NFL history were hit in the past three seasons alone. There is no need to act like it’s some impossible feat.

Furthermore, 60 yards isn’t the real issue. One reason Henery’s percentage is as high as it is is because two separate coaching staffs have trusted him to attempt a total of five field goals of 50 or longer. In 2013 alone, 17 kickers attempted a minimum of five field goals field goals from those distances.

Of the 143 long-distance field goals tried in 2013, 67 percent connected.

What good is Henery’s supposed accuracy if you can’t even put him on the field for what has become a fairly routine play in pro football?

We won’t even delve in very deep on kickoffs. Henery has ranked 20th, 23rd and t-20th in touchback percentage since entering the league. In other words, he’s below average at half of his job, nor has he shown much improvement at this point.

Fipp is hoping Henery learns to kick the ball at a different strike point. I am decidedly less hopeful.

Suggesting there are 17 teams that want a kicker as good as Henery is an egregious claim to say the least. Frankly, his lack of leg strength makes him a borderline NFL player at best, because booming touchbacks and kicking long-distance field goals are becoming focal points of the evaluation process at that position. With that in mind, it’s actually baffling to think the Eagles used a fourth-round pick on Henery in 2011.

Thankfully, that’s a mistake the team may not have to live with for much longer. We know with a nickname like Murderleg that Spear can crush the ball. If he’s even close to as accurate as Henery, that means an undrafted kicker out of Vanderbilt is probably the better option.

>> Fipp: Henery 'roughly the 14th best kicker' in the NFL [CSN]

Carson Wentz By the Numbers: Not much precedent for this success

Carson Wentz By the Numbers: Not much precedent for this success

The way Carson Wentz is playing, we may have to make this a regular feature.

Generally, when an Eagles quarterback plays lights out, we pull out the [Insert Name Here] By the Numbers.

We did it for Nick Foles after his seven-touchdown game against the Raiders, we did it for Sam Bradford a couple times late last year, we did it for Michael Vick a couple times during his hot 2010 season.

With Wentz? This might have to happen every week.

He's been that good.

So here is this week's Carson Wentz By the Numbers. Don't be surprised if you see it again very soon.

• Wentz is the first rookie in NFL history to have a game in which he completed 74 percent of his passes with 300 yards, two or more touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s also only the fourth Eagle to have such a game. Randall Cunningham did it against the Giants in 1988, Donovan did it four times (in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007) and Nick Foles did it against the Raiders with his historic seven-TD game in 2013.

• Wentz is the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 30 or more passes with no interceptions in each of his first three career games.

• Wentz’s 73-yard TD pass to Darren Sproles was the longest touchdown pass by an Eagles rookie since John Reaves' 77-yarder to Harold Carmichael against the Giants at Yankee Stadium in 1972.

• Wentz is only the second quarterback in NFL history to be 3-0 three games into his rookie year. The other one is former Eagle and current Cowboy Mark Sanchez, who opened his career in 2009 with wins over the Texans, Patriots and Titans. Sanchez then lost six of his next seven starts.

• Wentz is the fourth quarterback to win his first three NFL starts (not necessarily as rookies). That list includes Wentz, Sanchez, 35-year-old Dieter Brock of the Rams in 1985 (who had played a decade in the CFL) and Marc Bulger of the Rams in 2002 (in his third NFL season).

• Among quarterbacks who’ve thrown at least 100 passes in their career, Wentz now has the second-highest passer rating in NFL history at 103.8. He trails only Aaron Rodgers’ 104.0 figure. The only other quarterback over 100 is Russell Wilson, at 101.1.

• Wentz’s 125.9 passer rating Sunday against the Steelers is highest ever by an Eagles rookie. The previous high was A.J. Feeley’s 114.0 mark against Tampa in 2001. But Feeley didn’t start that game. So the previous high by a rookie Eagles starter was John Reaves’ 105.7 rating against the Browns in 1972.

• Wentz has already tied Mike Boryla’s franchise record for most wins by a rookie quarterback. Boryla won three games in 1974. Since then, Eagles rookie quarterbacks were a combined 5-21.  

• Wentz’s 102 pass attempts without an interception are the most in NFL history by a rookie in his first three games. Second-most are Dak Prescott’s current streak of 99 attempts. The record before Wentz and Prescott came along was 86 by Chad Hutchinson of the Cowboys in 2002.

• It was widely reported that Wentz had broken the NFL record for most pass attempts without an interception to begin a career at 102. But he actually has the second-longest streak. Tom Brady began his career with 147 attempts without an interception before getting picked off by safety Eric Brown of the Broncos in his seventh career game.  

• Wentz 103.8 passer rating is third-highest in NFL history by a quarterback three games into his rookie year. His trails only Greg Cook of the Bengals (111.9 in 1969) and Marcus Mariota of the Titans (110.3 last year). Robert Griffin III (103.5 with the Redskins in 2012) and Jacky Lee (102.5 with the Oilers in 1960) are the only other quarterbacks over 100 after Week 3 of their rookie season (based on a minimum of 50 attempts).

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Sixers acquire, merge two leading eSport companies

Sixers acquire, merge two leading eSport companies

The Sixers on Monday acquired controlling stake in Team Dignitas and Team Apex, two eSport companies.

The companies will be combining under the Team Dignitas banner. The Sixers become the first North American sports franchise to acquire an eSports team and intend to manage the day-to-day operations of Team Dignitas.

"There is a tremendous opportunity to leverage the infrastructure, resources and experience of the Sixers organization to support these exciting teams as they continue to compete at the highest levels across multiple games," Sixers managing general partner Josh Harris said in a statement. "We see our entrance into eSports as a natural extension of our expanding interests in traditional sports and entertainment and are confident that our involvement will accelerate the already rapid pace of growth in eSports as a whole.”

Team Dignitas and Team Apex have created games such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm and Smite.