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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Hakstol intrigues with pairing, potential of Konecny, Couturier, Voracek

Hakstol intrigues with pairing, potential of Konecny, Couturier, Voracek

VOORHEES, N.J. — Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek styled matching green jerseys during Friday’s practice at Flyers Skate Zone.

Together, they whipped around the ice in what head coach Dave Hakstol called a “physical, grinding, competitive day, probably the most competitive of camp … and that was for a purpose.”

Flyers fans are likely crossing their fingers, hoping the trio in green holds a purpose, as well.

The line of Konecny, Couturier and Voracek was a new wrinkle to 2016 training camp, a day before the team’s fifth preseason game. Maybe an experiment of sorts by Hakstol, but one that exudes all kinds of potential leading up to Saturday night’s contest against the Bruins at the Wells Fargo Center.

“It’s one day of practice,” Hakstol said. “They were fine. I wasn’t keying on that line in any way, I was keying on a lot of our team play. They were fine, they worked hard. To really see what kind of chemistry they have and how productive they can be, we’ll have to wait until the game [Saturday] if they’re together.”

Will we see that?

“You might,” Hakstol said. “I don’t have anything set yet.”

Konecny played left wing Friday, next to Couturier at center and Voracek on the right. If that is in fact the case Saturday, the 19-year-old Konecny will see another golden opportunity to woo management in his push for a roster spot. The Flyers purposely paired Konecny with NHL forwards Brayden Schenn and Michael Raffl in Wednesday’s 2-0 preseason win, and the 2015 first-round pick responded with a goal and an assist.

Friday marked a new day with new possibilities.

“It felt good,” Konecny said. “Just like the game [Wednesday] night, you’re playing with good players and it makes the game easier. I was just trying to keep things simple and work hard.”

Couturier and Voracek are two of the Flyers’ most skilled passers and playmakers. Combine them with Konecny — a prized prospect with the same traits — and it’s hard to measure the upside.

“It opens up a lot of space,” Konecny said. “Those guys are big out there, so when they’re going to the corners, it creates a little room for me. I’ve just got to find the holes and find the spots and the puck kind of just comes to you.”

Left wing is Konecny’s best shot at making the team’s roster and snagging a top-six role. The Flyers are heavy at right wing while light at left. Among the Flyers’ group of forwards, it’s the position of greatest need.

Like Hakstol said, Friday’s practice had purpose. So Konecny’s trying out left wing had substance, too.

“I think it’s a possibility,” Hakstol said. “I wouldn’t say that’s an absolute, but that’s one area that we’re looking at — not just for him, but for other players. So that’s one possibility.”

Konecny, more of a right winger and/or center, has no qualms with playing left. Really, a player of his ilk can make an impact regardless of position.

“I’ve played all positions through junior,” he said. “I’ve played right, middle and left, so wherever I fit in, I’d play there. I’m trying not to look too far ahead, though, just trying to play every day, and wherever I am that day, I’ll focus on that position and get the job done that day.

“I usually end up on the left wing when I’m coming across the ice anyway. I enter the zone on that side of the ice, so it helps me. I actually think I see the ice better when I play on that side of the ice.
 
“I got another day to play today. It’s just about earning each and every day.”

Voracek and Couturier, both of whom have yet to play in a preseason game because of World Cup of Hockey competition, looked at Friday as just another practice with new elements — such is life in training camp.

“It needs some work, obviously we need to get used to each other but if we skate and play with the puck, we should be fine,” Voracek said.

“Even last year along with this year, every game [Konecny has] been very solid. He’s a hard-working kid for his size. He’s very greedy, he’s not scared and he’s skating well. For a 19-year-old, he’s looking very, very sharp.”

Roster talk
According to a report by generalfanager.com, the Flyers waived forwards Petr Straka, Andy Miele, Chris Conner and Greg Carey, as well as defenseman and South Jersey native T.J. Brennan. None of the five were seen practicing Friday and the Flyers did not have an announcement. If they clear waivers — which seems likely — they’ll report to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

With the reported moves, the Flyers’ roster stands at 34, including injured players Nick Schultz, Mark Alt and Cole Bardreau. The Flyers will have to be at 23 by the season opener Oct. 14.

Goalie situation
Hakstol said whomever is in net Saturday will play the entire game. He would not say if it would be Steve Mason or Michal Neuvirth. An announcement will be made Saturday morning. Neuvirth is back from the World Cup and has yet to play a preseason game.

Gudas update
Defenseman Radko Gudas (wrist), who said Wednesday he’s “pretty close” to 100 percent, will “definitely” play in a preseason game, Hakstol said. The coach would not say whether it would be Saturday or next week.

Carson Wentz named Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week

Carson Wentz named Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week

As Carson Wentz rolls out of bed, he wins an award. Brushes his teeth, wins an award. Eats breakfast, award.

This time, the Eagles' rookie quarterback has been named the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week for his performance against the Steelers in a 34-3 Week 3 win.

Against the Steelers, Wentz completed 23 of 31 passes for 301 yards, two touchdowns and a 125.9 passer rating. He beat out Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, Browns CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun and teammate Wendell Smallwood.

This is the second time in three weeks that Wentz has been named the NFL Rookie of the Week.

Here are the awards Wentz has won so far this season:

- NFL Rookie of the Week for Week 1
- NFC Offensive Player of Week 3
- NFC Offensive Rookie of the Month for September
- NFL Rookie of the Week for Week 3

Wentz won't have any chances to win more awards this weekend as the Eagles are on their bye. They'll play again on Oct. 9 in Detroit.