Nick Foles Makes First NFL Start Against RG3-Led Redskins

Nick Foles Makes First NFL Start Against RG3-Led Redskins

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It’s safe to say the Eagles aren’t going anywhere this year
after losing five consecutive games, and their season appeared to be circling
the drain weeks ago. You can’t complain that there is no intrigue left for the
Birds in 2012 though. Nick Foles is set to make his first NFL start in
Washington today, and both the immediate and long-term futures of the franchise
could be at stake.

Foles took over for Michael Vick during the second quarter
of last week’s game against the Cowboys, playing quite well at times, looking
very much like a rookie others. He did several things well: threw the ball
quickly and decisively, anticipated receivers getting open, and showed poise
running the offense. He also turned the ball over twice – nearly more – had
some issues with his accuracy, and still needs to adjust to the speed of the game.

That said, you can only take so much from the kid’s debut,
particularly coming off the bench cold after taking limited reps since
preseason ended. This is a much better opportunity for Foles, who worked with
the first-team offense all week, and thus was able to prepare as the starter.

Which of course does not mean anybody should expect the
Arizona product to come in and play lights out football right away, instantly
proving he is the Eagles’ quarterback of the future. The evaluation process is
going to take weeks, if we are even able to tell at all before season’s end. There
will be bumps in the road, and it’s important not to treat every throw as if
the Super Bowl were on the line.

But the Redskins are the perfect opening act. Washington
owns the league’s 30th ranked pass defense, 29th overall.
Injuries have claimed their best pass rusher, Brian Orakpo, and decimated their
safety corps – even if Brandon Meriweather returns to the secondary today as
anticipated, he’s on to his third team, and hasn’t played yet this season.

Obviously Foles will have his chance to attack the Redskins’
secondary. After all, it’s not like Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg are going to
adjust the offense to feature more of LeSean McCoy – especially when they see
Washington is ranked seventh against the run.

Nor can you count on Philly’s defense coming to the offense’s
aid. The Eagles have been an absolute mess since Todd Bowles took over following
the bye week, and look like they’ve got a lot of quit in ‘em. They face an
immense challenge today in rookies Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris.

Don’t think Vick when you say RG3 just because the
second-overall pick in this year’s draft can also run. He’s an accomplished
passer as well, completing 65.6% of his attempts for 1,993 yards, throwing eight
touchdowns to three picks, all of which is good for a 93.9 efficiency rating. Those
numbers have come largely with a cast of misfits for wide receivers, but help
is on the way. Pierre Garcon has missed all but three games this year, but
Griffin’s most dangerous target could return today.

But Griffin can run, too, a big reason why the Skins have
the second-ranked rushing offense in football. He’s already racked up 529 yards
and six scores on the ground. However, RG3 is not even Washington’s scariest
ball carrier. Sixth-round pick Alfred Morris has been punishing tacklers with
his 5-9, 218-lbs. frame, gaining 4.8 yards a pop on his way to 793 yards so
far.

All of which means Foles will probably need to put points on
the board today to give the Eagles a chance to win, both of which they’ve
struggled to do all season. He won’t be coddled by a strong offensive line, nor
hidden with a power rushing attack. He’ll be operating the 29th-ranked
scoring offense in the NFL.

In other words: good luck, kid.

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Blanco's injury led to promotions for Phillies prospects Jesmuel Valentin, Scott Kingery

Blanco's injury led to promotions for Phillies prospects Jesmuel Valentin, Scott Kingery

The Phillies' top prospect, shortstop J.P. Crawford, was not considered for a promotion to the majors this week when Andres Blanco was placed on the 15-day DL with a fractured finger, but Blanco's injury did create a cascade effect that resulted in two of the organization's other middle infield prospects earning call-ups.

Second baseman Jesmuel Valentin was promoted this week from from Double A Reading to Triple A Lehigh Valley to replace Taylor Featherston, who the Phillies added in Blanco's spot. And 2B Scott Kingery was promoted from High A Clearwater to Reading to take Valentin's place.

It's a positive development for the Phillies, who have stockpiled so many intriguing prospects that singles hitters like Valentin and Kingery were mostly afterthoughts much of the season. 

Valentin, the son of former big-league shortstop Jose Valentin and the 51st overall draft pick in 2012, was acquired by the Phillies in August 2014 from the Dodgers in exchange for Roberto Hernandez. 

Valentin, 22, made the Double A All-Star Game this season and hit .276/.346/.399 in 388 plate appearances with Reading before the promotion. He looks like a future utility infielder who could maybe turn into something more.

The Phillies also received 21-year-old reliever Victor Arano in that Hernandez trade. Arano has been excellent this season at Clearwater, posting a 2.29 ERA in 32 appearances with 68 strikeouts and just 15 walks in 59 innings. 

The Phillies got two legit pieces for Hernandez, a journeyman fifth starter who is now out of baseball. It's crazy to think they received a better return for Hernandez than for Chase Utley. 

As for the right-handed hitting Kingery, he made his Double A debut on Monday, going 0 for 3 for Reading. He had a good run at Clearwater, hitting .293/.360/.411 in 420 plate appearances with 29 doubles and 26 steals. He was the Phils' second-round pick last year out of the University of Arizona. Kingery is a 5-foot-10, speedy second baseman who has a solid approach at the plate. He probably won't hit for power, but Kingery looks like the type who could eventually hit for average and take walks, perhaps one day turning into a more polished, instinctive and consistent version of Cesar Hernandez.

Quinn finally back
Roman Quinn, out since June 4 with an oblique injury, began a rehab assignment Monday in the Gulf Coast League. In two games, the speedy, 23-year-old, switch-hitting centerfielder has gone 2 for 6 with a walk, a steal and two runs scored. 

He'll spend a few days in the GCL, where Mickey Moniak and Jhailyn Ortiz are currently playing, before advancing back up the chain. Moniak, by the way, had another multi-hit game Tuesday and is batting .321 through 90 plate appearances.

Report: Eagles showed 'real interest' in Anquan Boldin

Report: Eagles showed 'real interest' in Anquan Boldin

Veteran receiver Anquan Boldin is signing with the Detroit Lions to replace future Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson. 

He could have replaced Riley Cooper instead. 

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapaport, the Eagles and Saints were two teams that had "real interest" in Boldin's services before he reached a deal to join Detroit. 

The Eagles' reported interest in the 35-year-old wideout could show some concern with the current group of receivers, which includes Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Rueben Randle, Josh Huff and Chris Givens. While Matthews has blossomed into a pretty good slot receiver, Agholor is coming off a disappointing rookie season and Huff hasn't lived up to his potential. Meanwhile, Randle and Givens are veteran question marks. 

Boldin, originally a second-round pick of the Cards in 2003, ranks 12th in NFL history with 1009 receptions in 13 seasons, 17th with 13,195 receiving yards and 30th with 74 touchdown receptions.

He’s had seven 1,000-yard seasons, most recently with the 49ers in 2014. Last year, he caught 69 passes for 789 yards and four touchdowns for the 49ers. 

End to End: Analyzing Bradyen Schenn's contract

End to End: Analyzing Bradyen Schenn's contract

Each week, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End this week are Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone, all producers/reporters for CSNPhilly.com.

Is Brayden Schenn's contract a good deal for the Flyers?

Dougherty
It's understandable why some portion of Flyers fans have responded to Schenn's contract extension with caution; the $5.125 million is a bit high for what he's done consistently. But we live in a salary cap world in which the cap is not rising at the rate we would like.

We have to consider that when analyzing contracts. As Sportsnet's Colton Praill eloquently opined about bridge contracts back on July 13, we've seen teams get burnt by bad contracts. Look at the Chicago Blackhawks, who have had to move players to fit under the cap.

Part of surviving the cap world is making smart bets on players, and that requires breaking down what they have done already but more importantly, what you believe they'll do in the future. And Ron Hextall has done a decent job of that in his tenure as GM.

A perfect example of that is Sean Couturier's contract. It was a higher cap hit than his offensive production warranted at the time, but a deal we would look back on as a steal.

Now, Schenn's development is nearly complete. It's a different situation, but the same idea. If Schenn is a 26-goal, 59-point player, his $5.125 million AAV is fair.

If there's another level we haven't seen from the 24-year-old, then this is a totally different conversation in a few years.

In the end, the Flyers are betting on Schenn being the player he was from Jan. 1, 2016, through the end of the season, and living in the cap world, it's a smart play.

Hall
The Flyers were going to re-sign Brayden Schenn, through an arbitrator or not.

And when it was all said and done, no matter if the average annual value was slightly lower or higher than the $5.125 million of Schenn’s new four-year contract, the Flyers were still going to be handcuffed by the cap.

So the Flyers avoided what can be a messy arbitration process by finding a happy medium with a strategic deal that behooves the Flyers long term, as Ron Hextall explained.

Now they have longer team control over Schenn, who could have signed for fewer years, upped his game and ballooned his payday as an unrestricted free agent.

Like Hextall said, top-six forwards entering their prime "are hard to find."

Yeah, the Flyers probably overpaid just a bit, but that’s the NHL market — it’s far from perfect.

Paone
There’s a reason these kinds of things are categorized as negotiations. There’s give and take involved. In the case of Brayden Schenn’s contract, there was probably a little more give than Ron Hextall and the Flyers would have liked. The numbers reported over the weekend tell us the Flyers didn’t necessarily want to go over the $5 million per year threshold with Schenn, even though the 24-year-old forward is coming off a career year of 26 goals and 33 assists.

But just because the Flyers went over their projected budget by going a smidge over $5 million doesn’t mean this is a terrible deal for the team. Not by any means. By now, you’ve probably read or heard Hextall use the term “market deal” when describing this contract. And that’s accurate because that’s the way the NHL is going these days. Yes, Schenn has had inconsistency issues over his first five seasons in Philadelphia. But young scorers don’t grow on trees. You have to pay to keep the ones you have. New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri, the New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider and St. Louis’ Jaden Schwartz are just a few examples. Schenn is just the latest. There will be more young scorers out there, flaws be damned, who will get paid sooner rather than later.

Sure, Schenn picked a great time last year — a contract year — to have a career season. And that pushed the Flyers to reward him. Now, it’s up to him to reward the Flyers’ faith.