Eagles-Dolphins: The Beat Goes On

Eagles-Dolphins: The Beat Goes On

Doomsday is on the horizon. One more loss, and the Eagles are mathematically eliminated from the postseason. Will the clock strike zero on their dreams today in Miami?

Even Michael Vick may not be able to save us now.

The Dolphins are only 4-8, same as the Birds, but trending in the opposite direction. Miami has one of the hottest teams in football, winning four of their last five, and losing by no more than three points in any of their last seven. On the flip side, Philadelphia has dropped four of their last five, and were crushed in their last two. If you are a strong believer in momentum as a decisive factor, the Eagles have no chance.

The big change for the Fins is they started winning the turnover battle. Through the first five weeks, they had a differential of -7. Since then, they are +3, playing a much smarter brand of football.

Matt Moore replaced Berks County native Chad Henne at quarterback when the starter suffered a season-ending injury in Week 4, a change that may have been for the better. Moore doesn't post huge yardage totals, but he manages the game. He's thrown nine touchdowns to just two interceptions in his last seven starts, including a pair of three-touchdown afternoons.

The Dolphins were also able to locate their running game, which was missing in action earlier in the season. Reggie Bush, Miami's big free-agent splash this summer, has been picking it up, and had his first 100-yard rushing day of the season in last week's win over Oakland. With two more carries, he'll establish a career-high in attempts in arguably his best season to date.

It's not an explosive offense, but it's enough to keep them in games because nothing comes easy against their defense. The Dolphins are fifth in the NFL, allowing 18.3 points per game. They are fifth against the run, and while their weakness is in the secondary, they have a solid pass rush anchored by Penn State product Cam Wake.

But don't shut the book on the Eagles' season just yet. They do have one particular advantage that should not go overlooked. Their last game was on Thursday, giving them three extra days to prepare for the Dolphins. It's similar to a bye week, and we all know Andy Reid's record after a week off. Considering what's on the line, it would be a surprise to see his team come out flat.

Although a win may not necessarily wind up helping the Birds. They need lots of help from Dallas and New York, and even though both seem willing to pitch in, all either one of them needs to do is reach nine wins regardless of what the Eagles do. Dallas needs two, and the Giants need three -- but they play each other twice. That's tough.

So maybe you're even rooting for a Philly loss today, improving April's draft position, and worsening the situation for a certain head coach. One way or the other, the season marches forward.

Injury Report
The Eagles have everybody available today. Jeremy Maclin was downgraded to questionable yesterday, but Reuben Frank tweets the wide receiver will play. Likewise, the Dolphins have no significant injuries.

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

CAMDEN, N.J. — If all goes as planned, a time will come when the Sixers can roll out a dominating frontcourt duo with Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor sharing the court in lengthy stretches.

That moment has to wait, though, as both Embiid and Okafor are on minute restrictions. As he returns from a knee injury, Okafor currently is coming off the bench and backing up Embiid.

“This conversation with Jahlil and Joel is more intelligent and applicable at a later date,” Brett Brown said at practice Friday. “When Jahlil’s minutes start going up and Joel can, then it’s a real conversation. I do think you may see them sooner than even I thought together. But as far as making it a real constant part of a strategy or rotation, it’s beyond too early days.”

In an ideal world, Brown could pair the two bigs now and use all of their allotted minutes (Embiid 20, Okafor 14) at once. That would leave an extensive workload on second-year bench player Richaun Holmes.

“This is a hot topic,” Brown said. “I will say it one more time: If I play Jahlil and Jo together, I hope Richaun can play 35 minutes.”

It’s an unrealistic expectation for Holmes, who averaged 13.8 minutes in 51 games last season. Brown caps the majority of the Sixers at six-minute segments to keep them competing at a high energy level.

“Right now, he’s a backup,” Brown said of Holmes. “I think he’s going to be an NBA player for a very long time. I just feel like in the role, he’s a second-year player that didn’t really have much of a role last year. He’s shown everybody that he’s for real. He really can play a role. At this early stage, that is the key word.”

Embiid and Okafor have been envisioning competing together since Okafor was drafted two years ago. They became friends long before they were NBA players and have an easy chemistry on the court as a result.

“I think it’s going to be exciting,” Embiid said. “We played a little bit together today in practice. We’re figuring out how to play with each other. It’s a process and we’ve got trust it.”

Yes, the players know they have to wait, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for them to resist an opportunity to play with one another.  

“I think once we figure it out, we can really dominate together,” Okafor said. “We were able to flirt with it again today. We accidentally keep ending up on the same team even though Coach keeps telling us to make sure we alternate. But we’re having fun. We’re trying to put some pressure on it because we want to play together.”

Is that accidentally with air quotes?

“Yeah, exactly,” Okafor said with a laugh.

'Trust the process' has a different, more personal meaning to Joel Embiid

'Trust the process' has a different, more personal meaning to Joel Embiid

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid is all about trusting the process.

He manages to insert the well-known phrase into just about every interview, hashtags it on social media and soaks in the chants during games. 

While “trust the process” is commonly associated with former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie’s patience-required approach to building the team — which resulted in three years of dismal losing and suffering setback after setback — Embiid has his personal take on the mantra.

“I think I have my own process,” Embiid said Friday at practice.

Embiid is playing for the first time this season after waiting two years to recover from foot injuries. His long-anticipated debut was a focal point of “the process,” and his return to the court marked a new chapter in the organization.

“I went through two surgeries, lost my brother, thought about some stuff I shouldn’t have thought about, so that’s my own process,” he said. “And then the process of going through the rehab and finally getting back on the court and getting the chance to finally play in the league, that’s my process.”

Embiid is now synonymous with the word. He credits Sixers fans for the moniker, which he added to his Instagram profile. 

“I don’t think it came from me,” he said. “Fans just started and then I just went along with it.”

Wednesday marked the next step in the process, both for the Sixers and Embiid. His regular-season debut (20 points, seven rebounds, two blocks) was a long time coming and garnered buzz all over the NBA world.

“I was the third pick and then I missed two years,” Embiid said. “The excitement in the city, everybody’s happy to finally see me play. Even though it was weird because a lot of people kind of wrote me off a long time ago saying that I’d never play as a Sixer, I’d never play in the league. So it’s all fun. Everybody’s going to have an opinion.”

He’s just got to trust in his own.