@FakeWIPCaller's Essential 2013 Eagles Preview: 10 Things I Hate About the Eagles

@FakeWIPCaller's Essential 2013 Eagles Preview: 10 Things I Hate About the Eagles

For all those years, every true Eagles fan prayed that one day, we'd at last be rid of Joe Banner, Donovan McNabb, and Andy Reid. One by one, we got our wish. So why does being an Eagles fan still suck?

Here are ten reasons why, counting down:

10. Michael Vick, whose last playoff win was in 2005, is still here.

9. So is Jeffrey Lurie, whose trophy priorities were clearly Oscar first, wife second, Lombardi third.

8. For our two new coordinators, we raided the coaching staff of last year's 5-11 Cleveland Browns team.

7. The Riley Cooper double standard.

6. Our defense sucks. In the preseason, we gave up scoring drives to the likes of Tim Tebow and Matt Simms, who's the fourth string quarterback on the Jets and the third-string quarterback in his own family. And for some reason Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, and Casey Matthews are all still on the team.

5. Our GM is still Howie Roseman, a man with the look and demeanor of a freshman accounting major and the football knowledge to match, with a speaking voice that resembles that of Pee Wee Herman before he went through puberty. Naturally, they gave him his own radio show.

4. Now I hear the Birds are using "analytics"? Please. The only analytic I care about is how hard you can smash people in the mouth.

3. On Thursday, Cary Williams and Riley Cooper got into a fight at practice, one caught on video as Chip Kelly's loud, silly music played. In training camp alone, Cooper was videotaped using a racial slur, and even worse, Williams talked about sconces. It's good that Michael Vick was there to break up the altercation, because if anyone knows how to referee a fight, it's Vick.

2. I can see getting excited about Chip Kelly- he did show up at Wing Bowl, after all, and he's agreed to appear every Monday morning with Angelo. But his coaching was clearly so indispensable to Oregon that they won their first game without him 66-3.

1. Clearly, Donovan McNabb will never, ever go away. He's coming back to get his number retired in Week 3- and Andy's coming too. McNabb gives local interviews all the time, sports websites run long features about him, and he's got national TV and radio shows too. Hasn't Philadelphia been sending the message, since April 1999, that we're sick of this guy?

For week one the key, of course, is to knock RG3 out of the game as early as possible. But if we can't win that one, it's going to be a long season. And if they can't beat Andy in week 3? I'm done.

Other Philly sports takes:

- There was a local column last week asking why, among the two recently retired star Philly athletes, Allen Iverson is beloved and McNabb is not. Please. Iverson may have become a hardcore alcoholic, but did he ever vomit during a game? There's your answer.

- We all know how much crap Philly gets from the media in the rest of the country. So I want to send special thanks to Marcus Hayes, for repping us with pride in other cities.

- This Roger Bernadina looks like the real deal. Big mistake if the Phillies don't lock him up long-term.

- I saw Cleveland released Brett Myers- why don't the Phils bring him back? I mean, what did that guy ever do that was so wrong?

- I loved that Deadspin story about how the Phillies and Eagles players used to share a large stash of porno magazines at the Vet. I used to bring my own, but their idea was even better.

- Will you still root for the Sixers after they move to Newark?

 Follow @FakeWIPCaller on Twitter; he'll be live-tweeting the Eagles game Monday night. 

NBA Draft Profile: F Dragan Bender

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NBA Draft Profile: F Dragan Bender

Dragan Bender

Position: Power forward
Height/weight: 7-1, 225
Team: Maccabi Tel Aviv

Croatia’s latest basketball export is just 18 years old. He won’t turn 19 until November. Like a lot of teenagers, he’s hardly a fully finished product. The kid is raw, but his obvious potential figures to make him a high lottery pick in the upcoming draft.

Through 38 games with Maccabi Tel Aviv this season, Bender averaged just 12.9 minutes. He took 3.7 shots per game. He shot 42.3 percent from the floor, 33.8 percent from deep (on 2.0 attempts per game) and 71.9 percent from the line. He didn’t get to the line very often, by the way. In fact, he hardly got there at all, taking less than one attempt per game from the stripe.

But Bender’s appeal isn’t about what he is right now; it’s rooted in what he could become with time. There’s a reason why all 30 NBA teams sent someone to watch him play this year, according to DraftExpress. Investing in him could yield a significant return. Also, dude’s name is Dragan Bender. He was destined to become a pro athlete or conquer King’s Landing. Either way, good things ahead.

Strengths
Bender has been on the NBA’s projection radar for a while now. He’s worked hard to develop his shooting. Initially thought of as a non-shooter with wonky mechanics, Bender changed his stroke. It’s more compact and efficient now. Despite the small sample size, Bender had a 54.1 true shooting percentage and a 51.4 effective field goal percentage through 38 games this season.

He could pass more, but when he does he’s pretty savvy — particularly with the full-court outlet pass. Defensively, he’s not a rim protector, but he has a long wingspan (7-2) that should help him be a good pick-and-roll defender with time. In the increasingly switch-everything NBA, that’s a plus.

Also, did we mention his name is Dragan Bender? Donald Bender works in Croatian finance. Dave Bender has a nice B&B on Hvar Island. Dragan Bender is a potential NBA star.

Weaknesses
He’s reportedly put on some weight recently and worked hard to develop a better base, but he’s 7-1 and 225 pounds. Someone needs to feed him lots of sandwiches and protein shakes. Adding muscle for the long-slog NBA season will be important.

In addition to having a still-developing body and skill set, he hasn’t faced top-level international competition yet on a regular basis. He needs minutes against the best in the world, and in order to get those minutes he’ll have to refine his game – particularly his ball-handling and driving, which are still works in progress.

Unlike some other recent NBA imports (Nikola Mirotic and Kristaps Porzingis among them), it’s probably going to take a while before Bender can be a consistent contributor in the league. Any team that takes him has to acknowledge the inherent time commitment.

How he’d fit with the Sixers 
If we’re talking about how he’d fit with the Sixers, who had a long-term plan and weren’t in a hurry to rush anything, the Sixers who embarked on an open-ended journey with no fixed timetable or end point, you could make a case for Bender (but not with the first overall pick). Five or seven years from now, Bender could be a polished product – an outside shooting threat with, perhaps, an expanded offensive game that allows him to put the ball on the floor and optimize his passing and scoring. You could imagine him growing defensively and creating mismatch problems. You could envision it – over time.

The question is whether these Sixers, who keep talking about transitioning from the rebuild into whatever comes next, are about to scrap the slow-and-low approach to cooking their roster in favor of adding on-court heat and off-court PR sizzle. If that’s the case, Bender wouldn’t fit well at all. Not to mention that taking Bender means adding another body to an already clogged frontcourt.

NBA comparison
Lots of people have drawn a parallel between Bender and Porzingis. That’s the easy, reflexive comparison. Both are tall, lanky stretch fours from a not dissimilar region of the world. But really that’s unfair to Bender. Porzingis declared for the NBA draft back in 2014, only to withdraw his name and wait until last year. The wait helped elevate him to more of a known commodity. At that point, he had played three seasons for Sevilla of Liga ACB in Spain, one of the best leagues in Europe that features some of the premiere international talent. Bender isn’t there yet in terms of experience, and their games aren’t one-to-one equivelants anyway. Bender might ultimately shake out as something closer to Andrei Kirilenko (if he can improve his handle) or Nikola Mirotic.

Draft projection
Top five. If he lasts any longer, it will be a surprise.

Phillies pitching prospect Mark Appel hits DL with shoulder strain

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Phillies pitching prospect Mark Appel hits DL with shoulder strain

Mark Appel, whose fastball velocity was down considerably in the first inning of his last start, was placed on the disabled list Friday with a shoulder strain.

Appel, 24, is 3-3 with a 4.46 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in eight starts for Triple A Lehigh Valley in his first year in the Phillies' system. He's struggled his last four times out, allowing 18 runs (15 earned) in 16⅓ innings on 20 hits and 11 walks.

The No. 1 overall pick in 2013 out of Stanford, Appel has had a disappointing pro career to this point. In 62 minor-league games (61 starts), he has a 5.04 ERA. The Phillies acquired him from Houston as part of the Ken Giles trade this past winter.

Appel's trip to the DL creates an opportunity for right-hander Ben Lively, who was promoted from Double A Reading to Triple A to take Appel's place in the IronPigs' rotation. Lively, acquired from the Reds for Marlon Byrd prior to the 2015 season, is 7-0 with a 1.87 ERA this season.

In aggressive D, Mike Martin trying to show Eagles his worth

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In aggressive D, Mike Martin trying to show Eagles his worth

When Ray Horton brought his two-gapping 3-4 defense to the Tennessee Titans in 2014, Mike Martin wasn’t thrilled. 

After all, the former third-round defensive tackle thought he was at his best in an aggressive get-up-the-field type defense, not the one full of lateral motion that Horton established in Tennessee. 

But without recourse, Martin played out the last two seasons of his rookie deal in Horton’s defense, before joining the Eagles in free agency this offseason. 

“That’s something that I was kind of disappointed in Tennessee when we were playing that, but you gotta adjust,” Martin said this week. “That’s this game. Coaches switch and you have to be able to change to stay in this game. But to be back in a system like this, excites me a lot.”

Martin, 25, admitted part of the reason he joined the Eagles was the opportunity based on the lack of depth the team had at his position, but an even bigger reason was the opportunity to play in Jim Schwartz’s downhill scheme. 

Really, it’s the main reason the 6-1, 306-pound interior defensive lineman decided to sign a one-year deal to join the Eagles in April. 

“I already knew what they were all about and then when I got to see what type of scheme they were bringing in and what Coach Schwartz wanted to emphasize, with getting off the ball and getting to our landmarks and things like that, really excited me and solidified it for me, because I know I can flourish in a system like that.”

In fact, Martin thinks he fits best in the kind of defense the Eagles will run this year. 

“Oh yeah. Oh yeah,” Martin said. “My quickness and my get-off and the type of player I am, it suits me well, so it’s exciting.”

Martin came to Philadelphia because of the defensive scheme, but he already knows a couple players on the team. Martin played at Michigan with Brandon Graham; the two have been good friends ever since. And Vinny Curry was Martin’s roommate at the Senior Bowl back in 2012. 

This offseason, as Fletcher Cox stays away from the Eagles’ spring practices while he awaits a new contract, other guys are getting extended reps. One of those guys is Martin. While Taylor Hart lined up next to Bennie Logan on the first-team defense last Tuesday, it was Martin next to him this week during the practice open to the media. 

Martin said he’s been sporadically working with the first unit and has been switching sides with Logan too. 

Eventually, Cox will return and reclaim his rightful spot as the starter and Martin will be sent back to his spot in the depth chart with the likes of Hart, Beau Allen, Destiny Vaeao and Connor Wujciak. 

In the meantime, Martin is just focused on showing his coaches as much as he possibly can, which isn’t very easy in May. During these practices players aren’t in pads and the hitting won’t start until training camp — even then, it’s limited. 

Still, Martin thinks he can show something over the next few weeks. 

“Really, I’m just trying to focus on my hands because we’re not allowed to have a lot of contact,” he said. “If I’m good with my hands, I can show them how I can move in this defense. I think that’s something that they can see and you can’t really deny. I’m just going to continue to improve and show them those things. When it comes time to put the pads on, it will just translate.”