Storm Clouds, 6-0 Falcons Confront Andy Reid, Eagles

Storm Clouds, 6-0 Falcons Confront Andy Reid, Eagles

As the Delaware Valley prepares to face the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, Andy Reid is one of the few folks concerned with another looming storm. Reid is coaching for his job, and with a 3-3 record, he can see the dark clouds gathering.

An Eagles win today would be like a ray of sunshine peaking through. A loss would be like driving toward the oncoming chaos.

Sensing what shaky ground this season is on already, Coach Reid used the bye week to batten down the hatches. He fired Juan Castillo and named Todd Bowles defensive coordinator. He yanked Demteress Bell and inserted King Dunlap at left tackle (again).

Those are the changes we can see. Reid certainly must have tinkered under the hood as well. You don't get to be 13-0 after the bye by staying the course.

The one change he didn't make was under center. If Reid is desperate, he is trying not to let it show by placing his trust in Michael Vick.

So much time and effort has been put into debating whether or not he should remain the starting quarterback, there was very little mention this week about Vick going up against his old employer. Whether he would admit it or not, you and I all know that should serve as a bit of extra motivation.

Reid and Vick might be standing in the path of a perfect storm though. The Eagles host an unbeaten Atlanta Falcons squad, and while we don't know yet how good the Dirty Birds are, they do have elite playmakers on both sides of the ball.

Exton native Matt Ryan has elevated his play to a level where he may soon enter the discussion with your Mannings, Brady, Rodgers, and Brees -- if he hasn't already. And in case you were wondering, former Eagle Asante Samuel demonstrated two weeks ago he is still dangerous.

The Falcons finished with at least nine wins in each of the past four seasons, and made the playoffs in three of those, so it's not like they're coming out of nowhere, either.

As if that were not enough by itself, the Eagles were bit by the injury bug this week, and no surprise, it was their offensive line. Danny Watkins is listed at doubtful, and likely will be replaced at right guard by rookie Dennis Kelly. The fifth-round pick played tackle at Purdue, so that should be interesting.

And on top of the figurative storm clouds putting all that pressure on Reid, the Eagles will battle the real elements as well. The wind will be a factor, and it could rain off and on throughout the game as the weather continues to worsen over the next couple days.

A Michael Vick leading the league in turnovers and a slick ball is a scary combination.

This game isn't the definition of a must-win, but if this truly is going to be Andy's last stand, the Eagles need to dig in today. The road doesn't get any easier from here.

Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday in Detroit

Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday in Detroit

NEW ORLEANS -- Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to co-exist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right Jones fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

I like to give Flyers fans a bit of a hard time on occasion, but that's only because I love them.

One beautiful Flyers fan today reminded me of why I love them.

They took the time to send a postcard to CSNPhilly.com's Flyers Insider -- and hater of the woo -- Tim Panaccio with one single word written on it.

"Woo."

Panotch says "Someone wasted a stamp and post card on this," but I say we just generated at least 50 cents in ad revenue from those of you that are reading this right now.

Money and time well spent.

Now, if you're not up on your wooing, Panotch penned a piece on how some fans wooing at games started annoying some of the players. Panotch hates the woo. BUT... and this is an important but... the Flyers are 6-0 since this all started. 

Woo.