Report: Spagnuolo to 'Return' by End of Week

Report: Spagnuolo to 'Return' by End of Week

Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network is reporting that Steve Spagnuolo is expected to "be back in Philadelphia" by the end of the week.

Early reports from the local writers interpret LaCanfora's report to mean that Spags will not just be rejoining the staff, but potentially replacing Juan Castillo. These reports exist in spite of the fact that LaCanfora never explicitly states that a deal has been reached nor that Castillo is even going anywhere.

The Inquirer's Jeff McLane, for example, offers the following:

"LaCanfora, citing NFL sources, wrote that Spagnuolo will replace embattled defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, perhaps not in name, but as the leader of the Eagles defense."

McLane goes on in his to report to state both Spagnuolo and Eagles
head coach Andy Reid are on vacation(s) with their families, and no
official announcement will be made until either one or both are
available, presumably at the end of this week.

We find this somewhat perplexing because the news of Spagnuolo's imminent return is not actually how LaCanfora's report reads:

» Spagnuolo, let go by the St. Louis Rams last week, is expected to be back in Philadelphia by the end of the week. The Eagles released a secondary coach over the weekend, so they have flexibility to move around the staff and bring Spagnuolo back as an assistant head coach, if not defensive coordinator. If Andy Reid wants to retain embattled defensive coordinator Juan Castillo in some other capacity, that's a possibility as well, according to league sources. Spagnuolo is a disciple of former Eagles defensive guru Jim Johnson, and was much-liked during his eight-year stint on Andy Reid's staff. Spagnuolo wanted to take time off last week, according to a league source, but expect his phone to start ringing quickly.

CSN's Reuben Frank is tweeting that LaCanfora is now stating himself that "he wasn't reporting that Spags is about to be hired by Eagles, just that he 'could be visiting Philly.'"

Frank also suggests that even if Spagnuolo is named the new defensive coordinator that Castillo will not be fired, but rather reassigned within the defense, possibly to fill the new vacancy at cornerbacks coach left after the dismissal of Johnnie Lynn earlier this week.

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In an update, Reuben Frank has printed a retraction of his first report and is now writing that Spagnuolo will be meeting with the Eagles front office later this week.

Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

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Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

INDIANAPOLIS — Penn State’s offense rewrote the Big Ten Championship’s offensive record book Saturday night but its 38-31 victory over Wisconsin wasn’t secure until the final minute.

And Linebacker U. got the game-saving play from the secondary.

Wisconsin, armed with a pair of timeouts and lining up for a fourth-and-1 play from the Nittany Lions’ 24, called on Corey Clement. Clement, who’d already racked up 166 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, got the ball but never got close to the marker.

Grant Haley made sure of it.

The junior cornerback wrapped up Clement’s legs and safety Marcus Allen kept Clement from leaning forward and the game was over. Penn State (11-2) has the 2016 Big Ten title and, at worst, will play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2009.

“They ran [a counter] early in the game and split it for a touchdown,” Haley said of the final play. “I saw them set the edge, so I got triggered really well and Marcus finished off the play.”

Haley and company watched the Badgers run wild in the first half; 164 yards and three touchdowns, including Clement’s 67-yard scamper. Wisconsin, one of the conference’s best rushing teams this season, managed less than half that total (77) in the second half.

“They really weren’t running that many plays,” Haley added. “We just came out in the second half and had a jolt. 

“We just had the energy going into the second half.”

Wisconsin got the ball twice in the fourth quarter but managed only 65 yards - 51 of which came on its final drive.

“Give credit to Penn State for coming out in the second half and making those adjustments and allowing those big plays to happen,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. 

Give plenty of credit, too, to the Nittany Lions’ offense. 

Quarterback Trace McSorley was named the game’s most valuable player after completing 17 of his 25 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns - both championship game records. He helped Penn State complete the biggest comeback in the game’s six year history after his team fell behind 28-7 in the first half and also finished the regular season with 3,360 yards and 25 touchdown passes, both school records.

Saeed Blacknall had six catches for a Big Ten Championship-record 155 yards and two touchdowns and DaeShean Hamilton finished with 118 yards on eight grabs.

Tailback Saquon Barkley, injured in last weekend’s victory over Michigan State, returned with 88 yards and a touchdown on the ground and caught an 18-yard scoring pass from McSorley early in the fourth quarter to put the Nittany Lions ahead for good.

Penn State, in its first-ever trip to this game, is coming home from it with just its second outright Big Ten title. It’s on a nine-game winning streak that has seen it average 40 points per contest.

It also could present the College Football Playoff selection committee with a bit of quandary. The Nittany Lions, who were ranked seventh by the committee last week, topped the No. 6 Badgers and claimed a conference championship, something likely playoff teams Alabama, Clemson and Washington all boast.

On the flip side, Penn State’s last defeat was a lopsided 49-10 loss at Michigan, which sits at No. 5 in the rankings and likely won’t move into the top four after losing last week to No. 2 Ohio State.

Penn State coach James Franklin stated his team’s case after Saturday night’s win, but also made it clear he and his team won’t be moping their way to Pasadena, Calif., where the conference champion is slotted if it is not chosen for the playoff.

“We’ve got great options in front of us,” he said. “I hear people on TV talking about they feel like maybe the playoff has taken away from the bowls. 

“Are you kidding me? The Rose Bowl? It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.”

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Jordan Matthews will not play Sunday against the Bengals after missing practice all week with an ankle sprain, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Matthews is the Eagles' leading receiver with 57 catches for 686 yards and three touchdowns. The team has called him a game-time decision.

Second-year receiver Nelson Agholor will reportedly be inserted back into the lineup. If Matthews doesn't play the Eagles will have only four healthy receivers active on Sunday: Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham and undrafted rookies Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner.