Nick Foles Era, Eagles Youth Movement Could Be Temporary

Nick Foles Era, Eagles Youth Movement Could Be Temporary

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The other day, friend of the Level John Gonzalez wrote a
piece on Nick Foles entitled, “How will Foles perform as permanent starter?

Permanent? I realize that wasn’t in the sense that Foles
will still be quarterbacking the Eagles for the remainder of the team’s
existence, but there is nothing “permanent” about the final four games of the
season, either – not for Bryce Brown, Fletcher Cox, or any other rookie, not
for anybody on the current roster for that matter. When Andy Reid is inevitably
replaced this January, there is going to be a culture change in Philadelphia,
and that means no one is safe.

(Except Alex Henery. Henery is safe. That dude's a baller, and I don't think anybody is that fanatical about place kickers.)

Is that something of a melodramatic viewpoint to have? Look,
I don’t expect the next head coach to come in and gut the roster just for the
sake of gutting it. Foles will be here next year, as will Brown, Cox, Mychal
Kendricks, Dennis Kelly, etc. They will have opportunities to become the
building blocks of the future like we all hoped they would.

Forgive me though if I don’t get overly excited about
anything I see from these kids over the next four games. With a new head coach
comes new schemes, and one thing about the NFL is not every player is a fit for
every system. Not every head coach has patience with the players he was given
when “his guys” are available.

Foles is hardly what I would call in any type of permanent
situation. He’s auditioning, not necessarily even for the job of starting
quarterback, but for the right to compete for the job in 2013. What are the odds
somebody waltzes in here and declares Foles is the future based on these eight
games, before they’ve had so much as a conversation? Keep in mind this is a
third-round pick, so it’s not an investment on the same level of an Andrew Luck
or Robert Griffin.

The next head coach is probably going to hold a competition.
Foles will participate, as will a veteran most likely, somebody who knows whatever
system is installed – who knows, maybe it’s Michael Vick. Depending on how
things go, there could even be another rookie in the mix. How Foles performs the
rest of the way will probably have a lot to do with the quality of competition
brought in, but unless he is dramatically improved, it’s difficult to see him
being handed the reins.

The same could go for some of these other guys as well. Kelly is the
latest rook to garner praise since he took over at right tackle. Howard
Mudd will be gone at the end of the year though, and his blocking scheme could
go with him. Will Kelly struggle to adjust to a new scheme?

In all likelihood, the Eagles will try to make a coaching
hire that would keep a 4-3 defense in place, because that’s what fits their
current personnel. Should they land on somebody who feels strongly about a 3-4
however, that mean huge role changes for Cox and Kendricks?

Maybe some are versatile enough to make the jump, maybe some
are not. Without knowing who will be coaching the Eagles next season, we can
assume nothing about how this team will be shaped moving forward. No matter how much promise and potential the class of 2012 demonstrates, every one of them has to prove themselves again next year.

Pro athletes react to Donald Trump's inauguration

Pro athletes react to Donald Trump's inauguration

A look at some of the reaction around the sports world as Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Friday:

Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Richie Incognito on Twitter
"Today is the first day on the road to Making America Great Again #Inauguration2017"

Memphis Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green on Twitter
"Hope these 4 years fly by ? #TimeToPray"

Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Huston Street on Twitter
"Today we start a new chapter, let's work together, and remember only saying negative without an idea is creating divide, it does not help US"

Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee on Twitter
"Inauguration Day.. Some folks happier than they've ever been.. some folks madder than they've ever been.. what a time to be alive"

Former USWNT soccer player Lauren Holiday , to her infant daughter, on Instagram
"I may not be the president, baby but I'll promise to be your Mom. I'll teach you that your brown skin is beautiful. I'll show you that being a girl and a woman is a privilege. How being incredibly powerful means serving those around you and fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves. I will tell you about Jesus and how he taught us to love unconditionally. We will have many talks about equality and I will always encourage generosity. One day if you ask me what you can be, I will smile and say absolutely anything. I'll tell you whatever it is you choose, be kind. I'll fight for you, I'll cheer for you and I'll love you along the way. But most of all, I'll make sure you're hopeful. So today, baby, I'll choose hope."

Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum on Twitter
"Appreciate you Mr. 44"

Atlanta Hawks guard Thabo Sefolosha on Twitter
"The only President my 2 daughters have known. Feels strange going from them to the new guy. Thanks for the class act Barack and Michelle !"

Former Texas and NFL receiver Jordan Shipley on Twitter
"Heard God's word in the inauguration speech. I care about our country being under God a lot more than I care about politics or parties."

Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul on Twitter
"Thank You!!! #44"

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady when asked on Friday if he called Trump to congratulate him.
"Let's talk about football."

Shayne Gostisbehere was right: Let's not forget the big picture

Shayne Gostisbehere was right: Let's not forget the big picture

Shayne Gostisbehere spoiled us.

In 64 games last season, we were spoiled by his 17 goals, most by an NHL rookie defenseman since Dion Phaneuf scored 20 over a full 82 in 2005-06.

Spoiled by a historic 15-game point streak, the longest ever for a first-year blueliner.

And spoiled by four overtime winners, an NHL rookie single-season record.

With it all, Gostisbehere created a mighty and somewhat unfair challenge. He exceeded anyone’s wildest expectations and perhaps made for even greater ones as an encore.

So, naturally, questions and doubts have swirled around his quiet sophomore season. Speaking to reporters last week after a 4-1 loss in Buffalo, Gostisbehere, for the first time, expressed just a hint of frustration. In the midst of his current 22-game goal drought, he wanted to make a point.

Astutely, he did.

“I’m doing my job,” he said. “I mean, I’m a defenseman, I’m not a goal scorer.”

It served as a reminder of what many wanted to see improve in Gostisbehere’s second NHL go-round — a more sound game in his own end by honing in on the defensive skills to his position.

Yes, he can change a game offensively, but could he be reliable and responsible defensively?

After all, Gostisbehere is a defenseman, like he said. We’ve already seen the offensive potential. From the onset, defensive growth is what head coach Dave Hakstol wanted to see.

“Consistency every day,” Hakstol said in early October. “Just be an everyday worker who is pushing hard to really improve himself as an NHL defenseman.”

Now, not only is Gostisbehere in a malaise offensively with four goals and 15 assists through 43 games, but he also hasn’t been sharp or consistent defensively. That certainly is a part of the concern permeating through the Delaware Valley. The 2015-16 Calder Memorial Trophy (top rookie) runner-up has been benched twice because of it and is a team-worst minus-17 on the season.

However, the positive here is he’s focused on it. Forget scoring goals for a moment. Even with Gostisbehere’s struggles, Flyers defensemen have provided offense among the league’s best. And for a stretch of 20 games following his first healthy scratch on Nov. 17, Gostisbehere was cleaner and more active with 17 giveaways and 24 blocked shots just partially telling the story. In the 17 games prior, he had 19 giveaways and only 20 blocked shots.

“I’m here to help the team in any way possible,” Gostisbehere said last Sunday. “Right now, it’s just getting back to work and doing the little things. It’s not going to come easy. That is something that me personally, and a lot of us have to look at.”

Even some of the all-time great defensemen went through the proverbial sophomore slump. Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom went from 60 points and a plus-36 rating as a rookie to 41 and a plus-7 in his second season. Brian Leetch, also in the Hall of Fame, saw a dip in production across the board in Year 2 after winning the Calder Trophy.

But let’s not draw crazy comparisons. Let’s just understand the important thing here, which is Gostisbehere’s understanding that defense is paramount. He’s learning through his lumps, starting at the end of his breakout rookie campaign in which he looked spent from the NHL grind. He underwent minor offseason surgeries on his hip and lower abdomen, suffered a nasty face cut in the season opener, then a bone bruise on his right hand in December.

We’re just over halfway through the 2016-17 schedule. Gostisbehere is only 23 years old, a 2012 third-round pick with a cap hit less than 16 other Flyers in a season that looks more like a continued rebuild than a jump to contention.

Really, Shayne Gostisbehere should be some of the least of our worries.