What Eagles Fans Should Know about Bill OBriens Availability

What Eagles Fans Should Know about Bill OBriens Availability

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Two head coaches at major Division I football programs are
said to be high on the Eagles’ wish list. After weeks of speculation, we can
finally confirm Oregon’s Chip Kelly has an interview. Penn State’s Bill O’Brien
on the other hand remains almost entirely speculative.

Multiple reports claim O’Brien has been thinking about interviewing
for an NFL job. Among those building the hype is the Harrisburg Patriot-News’
David Jones, who wrote on Tuesday that the Eagles, Browns, and Cardinals all
planned to speak to the PSU coach.

The real question is whether or not O’Brien plans on
speaking to any of those teams, and even if he eventually does, would he
seriously consider taking a new job?

This is of great concern to legions of Nittany Lion fans who
witnessed the unthinkable this season. O’Brien did and said all the right
things while guiding a reeling program to an 8-4 record, modernizing their
offense in the process and restoring a hope for the future that the NCAA more
or less attempted to destroy through crippling sanctions.

Of course, Penn Staters who double as Birds fans are
probably a little more conflicted, given that O’Brien’s credentials would seemingly
make him a tremendous candidate to follow Andy Reid.

However, there is actually reason to believe O’Brien is not
all that interested in another job. For starters, he’s dragging his feet on setting
up an interview, with none formally scheduled that we’re aware of – and he
doesn’t share the same excuse as Kelly, who is coaching in a BCS bowl game this
week. And for what it’s worth, O’Brien has always come across as highly
dedicated to turning around the culture at Happy Valley.

But perhaps the biggest red flag comes from a story Jones
wrote this past weekend suggesting O’Brien’s interest in the NFL could easily
boil down to nothing more than a negotiating ploy with the university. Here’s
more:

I believe the objective for O'Brien
and his agent Joe Linta is to free him of a paralyzing buyout that I've been
assured by two different pro agents amounts not just to $9.2 million but $18.4
million – the full life of eight years remaining on the Penn State deal. That's
four years (at $2.3 million per) for the original pact signed in January and
four more seasons for the re-up added last summer for the number of years of
NCAA sanctions.

So, I don't think the objective for
O'Brien is money. I think it's future freedom. Unless the buyout clause is
nullified in some way, no NFL club can reasonably be expected to shell out that
kind of cash simply for the rights to negotiate a deal with a man who's only
been a head coach at any level for 11 months. I've been assured by people close
to the Philadelphia Eagles, for instance, that there is absolutely no way owner
Jeffrey Lurie would pay even $9.2M up front, let alone $18.4M.

No, I think it's about freedom.
O'Brien wants to have his options open, to be able to go to the NFL in the future
should he so desire. If he and his agent can get the buyout clause removed,
then he can pursue his NFL dream after next season or some subsequent one.

Eye-opening. The buyout always made him an unlikely prospect
this year, but regardless it makes sense O’Brien would attempt to capitalize on
his success in any way possible – especially if he can accomplish something
without so much as walking out his front door.

None of which is to rule O’Brien out here or anywhere else.
Until he sets up a real, physical interview with an NFL team though, maybe we
somebody should start pumping the brakes on some of these rumblings. Even if
one or two meetings should come to pass, it doesn’t guarantee movement.

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Wayne Simmonds stars as Flyers top Predators, push win streak to 5 games

Wayne Simmonds stars as Flyers top Predators, push win streak to 5 games

BOX SCORE

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Dave Hakstol likes Wayne Simmonds’ net-front play more than that of any player in the league.

The Flyers' power forward showed on Sunday why his coach thinks that way.

Simmonds’ two power-play goals in front of the crease helped extend the Flyers’ win streak to five, their longest of the season, in a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Sunday night (see Instant Replay).

“If there’s a better guy in the league at net front, whether it’s on power play or 5 on 5, I don’t know who that is,” said Hakstol said after Sunday's victory. “He did a great job there tonight.”

Simmonds’ first goal came when he deflected Jake Voracek’s shot past Juuse Saros, giving the Flyers a 1-0 lead at 18:12 of the first period.

“They had great movement around the top of the box and Jake told me to go back door if he was going to get it for a one-timer,” Simmonds said. “So I stuck my stick out back door and he hit it, and it went in the net.”

Then Simmonds batted a puck through Saros' legs for a 2-1 advantage at 6:47 of the second period for his team-leading 13th goal of the season.

“It was kind of a little bit of a cluster and the puck comes to me, and I’m alone in front of the net so I just put it five-hole and it worked,” Simmonds said.

The right wing’s father was watching in the sellout crowd of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena during the Flyers' annual father-son trip.

“It was nice, obviously,” Simmonds said. “I just went outside and saw him. He didn’t really say much to me, but I know he’s glowing on the inside.”

Simmonds has now scored 10 career goals in 20 games against Nashville.

“What I really like about Simmer is he’s at net-front, he’s scoring goals, he’s on the power play, but he’s a great, hard-nosed, 200-foot player,” Hakstol said.

Simmonds’ goals gave the Flyers an early spark on Sunday.

“It was huge,” said Flyers left wing Michael Raffl, who scored the winning goal at 16:37 of the second period when made a power move on a rush and tucked the puck past Saros. “That gives us all the momentum.”

The Flyers improved to 7-3-1 in their last 11 games.

“We’re just trying to take care of pucks and maintain the pressure that we have,” Simmonds said. “The next shift up every game is the most important shift and that’s how we’re trying to play it here.”

Predators coach Peter Laviolette, a former Flyers coach, wasn’t surprised by his former team’s power-play success. The Flyers entered the game tied for the third best power play in the league cashed in twice on seven chances on Sunday.

“We knew going in that their power play was really good,” Laviolette said. “Their players have a lot of time together and cohesiveness and they’re pretty set in what they do. They bring pucks to the net and when they do that, things can happen. That was a difference in the game tonight.”

Winning goalie Steve Mason has started 10 of the last 11 games. He made 30 saves Sunday to improve his record to 8-8-3.

“This is the situation I want to be in, so it’s a workload that all summer you prepare for even when I was not getting the work load I wanted,” Mason said. “You prepare for it and now that it’s here I’m making the most of it.”

Sources: Phillies close to signing reliever Joaquin Benoit

Sources: Phillies close to signing reliever Joaquin Benoit

WASHINGTON – It looks as if the Phillies will have some action at the winter meetings.

The team is close to signing veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit, sources tell CSNPhilly.com. The winter meetings officially begin on Monday. The signing is expected to be announced before the meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, is a veteran of 15 seasons in the majors. He is coming off a strong 2016 season in which he pitched in 51 games for Seattle and Toronto and recorded a 2.81 ERA.

Benoit began the 2016 season with the Mariners and had a 5.18 ERA in 26 games. He was traded to Toronto in July and gave up just one run in 23 2/3 innings over 25 games, but did not pitch in the postseason after suffering a torn calf muscle in late September.

The right-hander has pitched for six teams in his career and has a lifetime 3.79 ERA in 712 games.

Entering the offseason, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said he wanted to improve the bullpen. He opened the offseason by trading for veteran right-hander Pat Neshek and last week claimed lefty David Rollins off waivers from Texas. Now, Klentak is poised to add Benoit.

Benoit has mostly pitched in a setup role in his career, but he does have closer experience. It is unclear what role he’d pitch in for the Phillies. The Phils have Jeanmar Gomez and Hector Neris returning to the back of their bullpen in 2017. Benoit could complement that pair or the Phillies could choose to trade Gomez or Neris.

Neris pitched in 79 games in 2016 and had a 2.58 ERA, so the Phillies would only deal him if they were to get a strong package of talent in return.