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.

Rookies Keegan Rosenberry, Fabian Herbers help Union top Crew

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Rookies Keegan Rosenberry, Fabian Herbers help Union top Crew

BOX SCORE

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Rookies Keegan Rosenberry and Fabian Herbers scored to help the Philadelphia Union beat the Columbus Crew 2-1 on Wednesday night.

Rosenberry gave the Union (10-9-7) a 2-1 lead in the 74th minute. Tranquillo Barnetta one-timed a feed to Rosenberry who trapped it with his right foot and blasted a left-footer through a pair of defenders and past goalkeeper Steve Clark.

Herbers, making his fifth start of the season, opened the scoring in the 60th. Chris Pontius tapped it to Herbers who, from the top of the box, had a shot blocked by Hector Jimenez before side-netting the rebound. Both of his two career goals have come against Columbus (4-9-11).

Adam Jahn tied it in the 73rd minute. Tony Tchani's header, off the corner by Federico Higuain, was deflected off the crossbar by goalkeeper Andre Blake and -- after a failed clearance by the Union -- Jahn tapped it in from close range.

It was the Union's third consecutive home win.

Columbus has one win in its last 11 matches.

Source: Phillies have gotten trade 'nibbles' on Carlos Ruiz

Source: Phillies have gotten trade 'nibbles' on Carlos Ruiz

CHICAGO — Another trade deadline arrives next Wednesday.

Could a Phillies veteran such as Ryan Howard or Carlos Ruiz, the lone holdovers from the 2008 World Series championship team, be on the move?

ESPN reports that both players have cleared waivers, which would make them eligible to be dealt. Players traded after Aug. 1 must first clear waivers. They have to be on a new team’s roster by Sept. 1 to gain postseason eligibility. Players traded after Sept. 1 are not eligible for the postseason.

Howard has been available for a trade for a couple of seasons, but there has been no interest. Even now, with him hitting .339 with seven homers, 16 RBIs and a .742 slugging percentage since the All-Star break (entering Wednesday), there remains little interest, according to sources. Howard is still owed about $16 million in the form of salary and a $10 million contract buyout for 2017, but that would not be an impediment to a deal as the Phils would eat that. Still, it’s unlikely he will be traded because most of the American League contenders are set at designated hitter, which would be his optimal role.

So, Howard, 36, is likely to play out the final year of his contract with the Phils, take his well-earned bows and exit either to retirement or a new team next season. He says he wants to keep playing.

Ruiz, 37, is also in the final year of his contract. Like Howard, he has swung the bat well recently, hitting .298 with a .433 on-base percentage in his last 26 games. He’s a backup catcher at this stage of his career, but that could appeal to a team like Cleveland or Boston, contenders who could be in the market for catching depth.

A baseball source said the Phillies have received some recent “nibbles” on Ruiz. It’s unclear if a deal will reach the finish line.

As players with 10 seasons in the majors and five consecutive with the same team, Howard and Ruiz both have the power to block a trade. It’s doubtful that either would because both have stated that their goal is to play in the postseason again.

“I’m still happy here,” Ruiz said. “We’ll see what happens. If that happens, it happens. If it doesn't, I'm going to play.”

Howard has taken the same attitude.

“Those are situations where I guess you’ve got to see what presents itself,” he said. “You know me. The last 12 years I’ve just been focused on playing ball. If it presents itself, it presents itself. You handle that situation. Otherwise, I just try to stay in the moment, stay in the now and prepare for the game.”

Trace McSorley named Penn State's starting quarterback

Trace McSorley named Penn State's starting quarterback

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Trace McSorley will start at quarterback for Penn State when the Nittany Lions open against Kent State on Sept 3.

Coach James Franklin settled on the sophomore after McSorley battled redshirt freshman Tommy Stevens for the job through the spring and summer.

"We're excited what he brings to our offense," Franklin said Wednesday. "I think the biggest thing is he's been the backup quarterback for two years. He has game experience and there's value in that. You've been able to see it already, you're not projecting as much."

McSorley will make his first career start at home against Kent State.

"It's a lot of weight off my shoulders," McSorley said. "Over the whole offseason, Tommy and I were pushing each other. This team will be better because of how this competition went with us pushing each other."

Both quarterbacks are strong runners, but McSorley's experience gave him the edge.

His shiftiness was utilized in practice throughout his tenure as Christian Hackenberg's backup. He usually led the scout team against the top defense, offering a similar look to the opposing running quarterbacks Penn State would play.

Although he's played sparingly on Saturdays in that time, McSorley saw meaningful snaps in Penn State's bowl game in relief of an injured Hackenberg. Then, McSorley completed 14 of 17 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns, ran seven times for 31 yards and nearly led a comeback against Georgia.

Now, McSorley will try and turn around a unit that's ranked 105th and 114th in total offense the last two seasons. He'll do so in a spread-based offense designed for a mobile quarterback and led by new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead.

"I think the best thing about the way he runs the ball is he's savvy," linebacker Jason Cabinda said. "He sets up his cuts. You play a guy who's a statue in the pocket and you cover well, he gets sacked. Now we have another element. Not only do you have to worry about covering guys, but when that four or five seconds is up there's that option of scrambling, another aspect of the play you have to worry about."