Steve Spagnuolo Coming Back to Eagles?

Steve Spagnuolo Coming Back to Eagles?

Andy Reid appears to have saved his job in Philadelphia, if it was ever truly on the line, and a recent surge on the defensive side of the ball had fans wondering whether Juan Castillo had done the same. For much of the season, Castillo appeared primed to be the fall guy whether Reid stayed or not. Now, according to one report, Castillo may indeed be out, with the Eagles bringing a familiar face back into the organization.

Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Steve Spagnuolo will be fired by the St. Louis Rams, replaced by current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden. Spags has a soft landing in place though, if this report has any validity. Per Acee's sources, it is "all but certain" that Spagnuolo will be named the Eagles defensive coordinator. That's a lot of possibilities that need to become realities in order for everything to shake out as described... But it's not farfetched to think Spagnuolo would be on the Eagles' short list if he's available and Castillo is shown the door.

Spagnuolo was a popular position coach for the Eagles from 1999-2006, when he led the linebackers and defensive backs under Jim Johnson. He then had an excellent but brief stay as defensive coordinator of the Giants, who went on beat the previously undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl. Most Eagles fans probably remember not knowing who to root for in that one, but Spags being the architect of the winning defense softened the blow some.

Spagnuolo was a hot commodity when hired to be the head coach of the Rams in 2009, but things ultimately didn't go well for him in St. Louis, and it appears all but certain he'll coach his final game for them against the 49ers this weekend. He has one year left on his contract with the Rams.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has some sobering notes on how historically bad the Rams' 2-13 season has been—and not just on the offensive side of the ball. After a 1-15 first season in StL, Spags coached the Rams to a very respectable 7-9 mark last year. However, even before the 2011 season began, you could see that the team faced a brutal schedule, and injuries to Sam Bradford and even backup AJ Feeley made a winning season even less likely.

For the Eagles, it's a timeline that appears to have been off by one year. Had Spagnuolo's Rams run ended in 2010, he might have been the perfect fit for a Philly team that was making headlines by targeting top talent once the league's hiatus ended. There were initially very few voices of dissent about the players they brought in, but Castillo was seen as a likely Reid mistake from day one, having never coached in a defensive capacity at the NFL level. It took his unit a long time to gel, but it lately has (albeit against some lesser quarterbacks).

Many Eagles fans won't lay all the blame at Castillo's feet, either. He had a lockout-shortened off-season, some questionable personnel, and an offense with a penchant for giving short fields due to turnovers. Castillo's failures will be seen as an extension of Reid's.

If the report is true and Spagnuolo is hired, the announcement will be far more popular than when we found out the offensive line coach was taking over the defense, with assistants already firmly in place. Many questions will still need to be answered if Spagnuolo does indeed come back to Philly, including what he'll do about the personnel he may inherit in his coaches and players.

We'll take a closer look as to what a Spagnuolo return could mean once it's closer to official. Again, this is just a preliminary report with unnamed sources, and Spagnuolo is still set to coach a game for the Rams while Castillo is at the defensive helm for the Eagles at least through the week. While it's certainly possible the Birds would want him back, what's surprising here is that anyone with certain knowledge of such a plan would have let it get to a reporter. The Eagles don't usually operate that way, and it'd be disrespectful to Castillo, whom they've highly regarded for years. We'll see how it plays out.

[via]

Photo by Scott Rovak-US Presswire

Ken Tribbett's 1st MLS goal helps Union salvage draw vs. Orlando City

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USA Today Images

Ken Tribbett's 1st MLS goal helps Union salvage draw vs. Orlando City

BOX SCORE

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Ken Tribbett scored his first career MLS goal in the 75th minute and the Philadelphia Union tied Orlando City 2-2 on Wednesday night.

Tranquillo Barnetta started the scoring in the 52nd minute on Philadelphia's first shot on goal. Chris Pontius outjumped his defender to win a diagonal cross and headed it to the back post for an unmarked Barnetta.

Then the game opened up with three goals in a 7-minute span.

Kevin Molino tied it in the 68th -- one minute after entering as a substitute. Cyle Larin collided with two defenders and the goalkeeper while battling for a long ball and Molino knocked the loose ball into an empty net.

Three minutes later, Larin gave Orlando City a lead on a questionable goal. Kaka played a ball across goal, Larin chested it off the goalkeeper and Philadelphia's Fabinho appeared to clear it off the line.

Tribbett evened it for Philadelphia (5-3-4) when goalkeeper Joe Bendik dove to get a touch on a cross and Tribbett slotted home the rebound.

David Mateos was given a straight red card for Orlando (3-3-6) in the 93rd minute for a studs-up tackle just outside of the box. But Barnetta's free kick sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.

Watch: Nerlens Noel dominates the American Ninja Warrior wall

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Watch: Nerlens Noel dominates the American Ninja Warrior wall

The American Ninja Warrior television show is hosting a regional competition on May 26th and 27th at the Richmond Power Plant in Philadelphia.

A Comcast SportsNet camera crew was there on Wednesday to tape a segment for a show next week when they recognized a familiar face in the crowd.

Sixers big man Nerlens Noel was there supporting a friend practicing on the course. Noel also gave the wall a go and it proved no match for his length.

Contestants will compete on Thursday and Friday in Philly with a chance of qualifying for the finals to be held in Las Vegas.

If you think you've got what it takes, head on over and try to be a walk on talent. You probably won't do any better than Nerlens though.

Odubel Herrera flips Phillies into winners over Tigers before big trip to Wrigley Field

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Odubel Herrera flips Phillies into winners over Tigers before big trip to Wrigley Field

BOX SCORE

DETROIT — At least Odubel Herrera was honest about it.

“I didn’t expect to hit it that far,” he said with a big grin on his face late Wednesday afternoon.

A couple of hours earlier, Herrera helped key an 8-5 Phillies’ win over the Detroit Tigers with a towering three-run home run into the right-field seats against Anibal Sanchez (see Instant Replay).

Herrera unloaded on the hanging slider and finished with his bat high.

As the bat reached its apex, Herrera didn’t just let it go. He flipped it in the air as if to say, ‘Uh-huh, I crushed that one.’ In the annals of bat flips, it wasn’t quite Jose Bautista quality, but it wasn’t far off. The flip was so dramatic that Herrera admitted after the game that he would not have been surprised if a Tigers pitcher had retaliated and stuck a pitch in his ribs later in the game.

Retribution never came. And Herrera left Detroit with a smile on his face and yet another big day for the Phillies. He is leading the club with a .327 batting average and his .440 on-base percentage is second-best in baseball.

Herrera's big home run helped make a winner out of Aaron Nola and the Phillies on a day when they really needed a win. After all, they had lost four of their previous five and are headed into the den of baseball’s best team, the Chicago Cubs, on Friday.

“For me, it was a must-win,” said manager Pete Mackanin, whose club is 26-21. “We’d lost four of five and I felt like we needed to come out of here with a win.

“The guys battled the whole game. To me it looked like they played like they had to win this game, which was nice to see. It looked like they played knowing we had to win. They were grinding and coming up with hits. Call it what you want, it was just the feeling I got.

“I’m not going to say I’m anxious to see the Cubs; they’re a hell of a team. But I’m hopeful we can take two out of three.”

The Tigers are one of baseball’s best hitting teams.

The Phillies are one of the worst. They entered the day scoring just 3.2 runs per game.

But on this day, the Phillies out-hit the Tigers, 12-10, to salvage one game in the series.

Nola went six innings, allowed four runs, a walk and struck out six. He left with a 7-4 lead. Things got hairy in the seventh, but Hector Neris cleaned up things for David Hernandez, and Jeanmar Gomez registered his majors-leading 17th save.

In between, Peter Bourjos had a couple of big hits, including his first homer of the season. Andres Blanco started at second over Cesar Hernandez and had a couple of big hits, as well. Bourjos and Blanco even hooked up on a double steal with Blanco becoming the first Phillie to swipe home since Chase Utley in 2009. (An off-line throw to second by Tigers catcher James McCann helped.) 

“We have to try things,” Mackanin said. “We can’t bang it out with most teams so we have to try that kind of stuff, take chances.”

The Phillies actually banged it on this day.

Bourjos’ homer in the seventh provided some valuable cushion.

There are no cheap homers in spacious Comerica Park. Bourjos’ homer traveled 401 feet according to ESPN’s play by play.

Though Bourjos claimed he did not see Herrera’s bat flip in fifth inning, he was aware of it. For the record, Bourjos did not flip his bat on his homer. He put his head down and ran.

“I don’t have that kind of swag,” he said with a laugh.

Bat flips make some folks, particularly old-schoolers, uncomfortable. Bautista’s famous bat flip against Texas in the playoffs last season led to simmering tensions all winter and eventually a brawl between the two teams two weeks ago.

Mackanin actually seemed a little uncomfortable talking about Herrera’s flip.

“I did not see it,” Mackanin said. “A lot of players believe that they should be able to celebrate. But I didn’t see it. I wish you never brought it up.”

Herrera explained that he always flips his bat, even when he makes outs. This one had a little extra oomph, he said, because, "I didn’t expect to hit it that far.”

And how far did he hit it?

Well, ESPN’s play by play said it traveled 409 feet. MLB’s Statcast said it went 427.

Either way, that’s a long Uber ride.

Herrera was asked what was more impressive, the flip or the homer?

“Both,” he said with a laugh.

Herrera has become a more demonstrative player in his second year in the league. He’s letting his emotions show. On Monday night, frustration over a poor at-bat got the best of him. He did not run out a ball back to the pitcher and was benched.

On Wednesday, his emotion was more triumphant, hence the bat flip. But sometimes that can make an opponent angry. There were no repercussions Wednesday and probably won’t be because the Tigers and Phillies don’t see each other again this season. But down the road?

“I’m not worried,” Mackanin said.

“It was nothing personal,” Herrera said. “It was natural.”