Sad But True: Eagles may not have been able to do much better in fourth round than Matt Barkley

Sad But True: Eagles may not have been able to do much better in fourth round than Matt Barkley

It's safe to say Matt Barkley's NFL debut was... underwhelming. Three of his first 20 passes, all thrown after Nick Foles was knocked out of the Eagles 17-3 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday with what's since been diagnosed as a concussion, were intercepted. A fourth was negated by a penalty. Poor decisions. Poor accuracy. Poor arm strength. Poor vision. Barkley's struggles, it seemed, had no bounds.

Not surprisingly, some all (?) fans went as far as to question on local talk radio drafting Barkley with the first pick of the fourth round this past April. Only problem: there wasn't much else there.

The alternatives available to Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman that morning:

Rnd Pick Tm Pos Age College/Univ
4 98 PHI Matt Barkley QB 23 USC
4 99 KAN Nico Johnson ILB 23 Alabama
4 100 TAM Akeem Spence DT 21 Illinois
4 101 JAX Ace Sanders WR 21 South Carolina
4 102 NWE Josh Boyce WR 22 TCU
4 103 ARI Alex Okafor DE 22 Texas
4 104 MIA Jelani Jenkins OLB 21 Florida
4 105 BUF Duke Williams FS 22 Nevada-Reno
4 106 MIA Dion Sims TE 22 Michigan St.
4 107 TEN Brian Schwenke C 22 California
4 108 CAR Edmund Kugbila G 23 Valdosta St.
4 109 GNB David Bakhtiari T 22 Colorado
4 110 NYG Ryan Nassib QB 23 Syracuse
4 111 PIT Shamarko Thomas SS 22 Syracuse
4 112 OAK Tyler Wilson QB 24 Arkansas
4 113 STL Barrett Jones G 23 Alabama
4 114 DAL B.W. Webb CB 23 William & Mary
4 115 PIT Landry Jones QB 24 Oklahoma
4 116 ARI Earl Watford G 23 James Madison
4 117 CHI Khaseem Greene OLB 24 Rutgers
4 118 CIN Sean Porter OLB 22 Texas A&M
4 119 WAS Phillip Thomas SS 24 Fresno St.
4 120 MIN Gerald Hodges OLB 22 Penn St.
4 121 IND Khaled Holmes C 23 USC
4 122 GNB J.C. Tretter T 22 Cornell
4 123 SEA Chris Harper WR 24 Kansas St.
4 124 HOU Trevardo Williams DE 22 Connecticut
4 125 GNB Johnathan Franklin RB 23 UCLA
4 126 TAM William Gholston DE 22 Michigan St.
4 127 ATL Malliciah Goodman DE 23 Clemson
4 128 SFO Quinton Patton WR 23 Louisiana Tech
4 129 BAL John Simon DE 23 Ohio St.
4 130 BAL Kyle Juszczyk FB 22 Harvard
4 131 SFO Marcus Lattimore RB 21 South Carolina
4 132 DET Devin Taylor DE 23 South Carolina
4 133 ATL Levine Toilolo TE 22 Stanford

Slim pickings, indeed.

You could argue the Eagles could've gone with a different QB -- most would say Nassib, I'd counter with Jones. But remember, one of the main reasons Kelly went QB there, he's said, was the perceived value of getting a guy once thought to be a No. 1 overall prospect with a third-day pick.

Lattimore was coming off, well, this and wasn't expected to play this season. (Nor has he.) The Eagles didn't need a running back anyway -- really? who saw 2013 Bryce Brown coming? -- so Jonathan Franklin, UCLA's all-time rushing leader now with Green Bay, wouldn't have made much sense either.

You can never have enough interior offensive linemen, especially with two returners (Jason Kelce, Evan Mathis) coming off injury and the guy who shoved A.J. McCarron in the BCS National Championship still available. But Jones, too, was on the mend then from a Lisfranc injury.

Ultimately: if you're going to bash a draft pick, you have to offer an alternative. And while it looks like the Eagles may have taken a real Brandon Graham here, it wasn't 2010. There wasn't an Earl Thomas or Jason Pierre-Paul plainly behind him. (Nor was this the first round. It was the fourth, where you tend to roll the dice like you're Seth Rogen in "Knocked Up," hoping to score Katherine Heigl. Or something.)

Follow Matt on Twitter: @MKH973 Catch him every Saturday from 12-2 on 97.3 ESPN-FM.

Instant Replay: Flyers 4, Predators 2

ap-wayne-simmonds-flyers-predators.jpg
Associated Press

Instant Replay: Flyers 4, Predators 2

BOX SCORE

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Wayne Simmonds scored two power-play goals and the Flyers won their fifth straight, extending their longest win streak of the season with a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Sunday night at Bridgestone Arena.

Michael Raffl and Chris VandeVelde also scored for the Flyers (14-10-3), who have four straight wins over Nashville (11-9-4).

Calle Jarnkrok and Colin Wison scored for the Predators.

Simmonds’ first power-play goal gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead in the first period.

Nashville tied the game at 1-1 when Jarnkrok redirected Mattias Ekholm’s shot at 3:17 of the second period.

Simmonds struck again on the power play just over three minutes later when he batted a puck through Juuse Saros' legs for a 2-1 lead. Simmonds leads the Flyers with 13 goals on the year.

Wilson’s backhander tied it at 2-2 when he took a nice pass from Mike Fisher before beating Steve Mason blocker side at 11:19 of the second period.
    
Michael Raffl gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead on a 2-on-1 rush at of the second period. Raffl sped past a Nashville defender and used a power move at the front of the net before sliding the puck past Saros for game's deciding tally.

VandeVelde added an empty netter with 26.3 seconds left.
 
Moving up

Claude Gioux’s second-period assist moved him past Rod Brind-Amour into sixth in Flyers history with 367 helpers.

Giroux played in last year’s All-Star Game in Nashville.

Milestone
Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning played in his 100th career game.

Back and forth
The Flyers took three one-goal leads during the first two periods and the Predators tied the score twice before the visitors took a 3-2 lead into the final 20 minutes.

Double trouble
Simmonds tied his season high with two goals in a game. His first two-goal game came in a 6-3 loss at Toronto on Nov. 11.

The Flyers' winger has 10 goals in 20 career games against Nashville.

Back to backs
The Flyers improved to 5-1-1 on the back end of back-to-back games. The Flyers beat Chicago, 3-1, on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.

Goalie report
Mason improved to 9-8-3 after making 26 saves. He withstood a late push by Nashville.

Power play
The Flyers' power play went 2 for 7 with two goals by Simmonds.

The Flyers got a four-minute power play when Filip Forsberg was called for high sticking Nick Cousins at 3:12 of the third period, but couldn’t capitalize. That brought a roar from the sellout crowd of 17,113.

Penalty kill
The penalty kill went a perfect 3 for 3. The Flyers got some puck luck when Filip Forsberg’s wrist shot from the right faceoff circle bounced off the right post while Simmonds was in the box for tripping midway through the first period.
 
Scratches
Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas (sick), left wing Scott Laughton (healthy) and defenseman Nick Schultz (healthy) were scratched.

Up next
The Flyers host Florida on Tuesday to start a three-game homestand. Edmonton visits the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday and Dallas visits on Saturday afternoon.

Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson disagree on mechanical issues

Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson disagree on mechanical issues

CINCINNATI – Normally upbeat and positive, Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz gave a terse answer, at least by his standards.

After the Eagles’ 32-14 loss to the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium (see Instant Replay), a game that was probably the worst of his young career, Wentz was asked about his proclivity for overthrowing his targets.

“Bad throw,” Wentz said blankly. “Just like last week.”

Those bad throws have been coming more and more frequently in recent weeks for the second-overall pick. After throwing one interception in his first five games, he’s thrown 10 in his last seven, including his first three-interception day on Sunday. A common thread has been overthrows.

When head coach and former QBs coach Doug Pederson was asked about those high throws from his prized quarterback, he said, “It’s strictly mechanics.” Pederson elaborated, saying they need to get Wentz off his back foot and stepping into throws. And then there were batted passes too.

“There were opportunities, obviously,” Pederson said. “Again, he's a young quarterback who missed a lot of time in the preseason, but now we just need to keep cleaning those things up.”

There might be a problem, though.

Wentz doesn’t seem to think there’s anything to clean up.

After Sunday’s embarrassing loss, the rookie said his mechanics feel the same now as they did when the Eagles started the season with three consecutive wins, before he had ever thrown a pick in the NFL.

“I don't think it's the mechanics,” Wentz said. “You make mistakes. Things happen, and that's just the bottom line.”

Is there anything that could be affecting his mechanics?

“I don't think so,” Wentz said. “You throw the ball 60 times, you're going to miss some. That kind of happens.”

Wentz seemed hesitant to take blame for his shaky play on Sunday (see breakdown of Wentz's performance), but he is right. Sixty passing attempts is an awful lot. In fact, it’s a record for an Eagles rookie and it’s the second most passing attempts a rookie quarterback has ever thrown in a game (Chris Weinke threw 63 in 2001).  

The reason for that, at least partially, on Sunday was the Eagles’ never got going offensively and their defense was porous at best, which led to the Bengals’ taking a 19-0 lead into halftime (see 10 observations from the loss). They had to try to throw their way back into the game.

“You never want your quarterback to throw 60 times, coming from behind,” Pederson said. “We put ourselves in a bind early in the football game. It’s going to be a learning lesson for him, obviously. We have to take a hard look at it. But by no means, the fact that he stood in there and still led the football team. He took some shots, but still stood in there and just shows you the kind of character and the toughness we have.”

For Wentz, who was once though to be the clear frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, the last couple months have been understandably difficult.

In the first four games of the season, he had a passer rating over 100 three times. He hasn't broken 100 since then and his 58.2 rating on Sunday was the second-worst of the season, behind his 52.4 in a winning effort against the Vikings.

“You just can't get down,” Wentz said. “You've got to stay optimistic. Obviously, the results are tough as of late. We're kind of on a skid. Like I've been saying, this is a good group of guys, a good locker room. Guys are in it until the end.”

It’s important to remember that, initially, Wentz wasn’t drafted to play this season. The original plan was to have him sit this season, but he was thrust into action after the Eagles traded away Sam Bradford.

Ultimately, Wentz will be judged for his play in years to come. For now, though, he and the Eagles have to try to find a way to fix this.

How do they do it?

“Obviously, we're on a skid,” Wentz said. “There's nothing really to change. We've just got to lock in and we've got to be more disciplined. At the same time, you don't get down. That's what I've been saying. This locker room, guys aren't going to get down. We've just got to be better with our discipline and just keep attacking. Obviously, we're in a tough spot, but we've just got to take it one game at a time.”