You Don't Have to Look Very Far to Find This Sunday's Worst Case Scenario

You Don't Have to Look Very Far to Find This Sunday's Worst Case Scenario

A familiar drumbeat began in the moments immediately after Michael Vick's fourth interception in Cleveland -- the second of which had been fired carelessly into double coverage -- this time resulting in a pick six that would have handed victory to a serious opponent. Fans and members of the media alike, the latter made up of people who are supposed to know better, Twondered aloud whether preseason darling Nick Foles would come on to relieve Vick the rest of the way.

Vick of course finished and the Eagles (eventually/miraculously) won the game, but what gave anybody the idea Andy Reid would even consider replacing his quarterback? There aren't many instances where the head coach of 14 seasons demonstrated an itchy trigger finger when it came to the guy running his offense, especially mid-game, so it shouldn't have come as a surprise big or small he was giving the franchise QB every opportunity to turn the ship around.

However, there is one outstanding example when Reid finally had seen enough of his signal caller to make the switch midway through a contest, and opted for the inexperienced option instead. It just so happens that exact scenario played out four years ago the last time the Eagles went head-to-head with the Ravens.

You'll no doubt recall the events. Donovan McNabb was the quarterback, but as he was prone to doing, had fallen into a funk heading into the Week 12 meeting in Baltimore. McNabb completed less than 50-percent of his passes and threw for under 200 yards in a home loss to the Giants two weeks earlier, followed by the famous 13-13 tie in Cincinnati where afterwards he explained he was unaware such an outcome was even possible. It's track No. 58 on Donovan's Greatest Hits, available on iTunes.

With McNabb well on his way to another clunker against the Ravens, completing 8 of 18 passes for 59 yards and two picks in the first half, Reid said take a seat. The score was only 10-7 at the time (thanks to a Quintin Demps kick return TD), the game technically well within reach, but second-year quarterback Kevin Kolb was about to get the most extensive, the first meaningful playing time of his short career against what is notoriously one of the toughest defenses in the NFL.

The experiment did not end well. Statistically speaking, Kolb wasn't much worse that day, going 10 for 23 for 73 yards and two picks. Actually, he came closer than Donovan to engineering a scoring drive, though all hope was ultimately erased at the goal line after Ed Reed took an interception back 108 yards. Either way, the game predictably unraveled when the backup QB entered, with the Ravens walking away victorious by a final of 36-7.

A sign of things to come perhaps? Vick is not unlike McNabb in that he can be incredibly inconsistent on a game-to-game basis. He looked out of sync in extremely limited action during the preseason, which seemingly carried over into his awful performance against the Browns. Winning the game obviously was what's important, but there is little in the quarterback's performance to inspire confidence this Sunday.

All of which makes us fear we could be in for a repeat of sorts from 2008. Would Reid bench Vick against one of the stingiest defenses in the league over another poor outing, throwing his rookie quarterback to the wolves? My guess is probably not likely given the situations aren't entirely comparable. Kolb was in his second season, thus more prepared in theory. Plus at that point in the season, a loss dropped the Eagles to 5-5-1, so there was far more at stake.

There is also the possibility Vick could go down with an injury, as many have predicted will happen at the hands of the nasty Baltimore D. That would force Foles -- or Trent Edwards if Reid were benevolent -- into the lineup, perhaps inducing similar results. While many wouldn't seem to mind if the Eagles made the move at quarterback before it reaches this point, a glimpse into the past suggests a change under center this weekend would not have much of a positive impact versus the Ravens.

In fact, you might say based on the evidence, it has the potential to wind up a total disaster.

Although, a funny thing about how 2008 worked out: McNabb was back under center the following week, the Eagles went on a roll all the way to the NFC Championship game. Somewhere in between is track No. 59, titled "Financial Apology."


Don't forget we're hosting a free NFL Week 2 fantasy football game with $250 in cash prizes. See if you can top Enrico's picks for this week which include Mike Vick, Jamaal Charles, Dez Bryant and DeSean Jackson, among others. Enter to play here.

Flyers Notes: Travis Konecny sparks power play with 1st NHL goal

Flyers Notes: Travis Konecny sparks power play with 1st NHL goal

The kid finally has his first NHL goal.

Travis Konecny scored at 4:30 of the third period (see video) during the Flyers' 4-3 shootout win over Buffalo on Tuesday night (see story).  

His was the first of three power-play goals to erase a 3-0 deficit and get the Flyers into overtime.

First markers are always that much more special when they make a difference in a comeback victory, such as this one with the Flyers in a brutal stretch of six games in nine days.

“I am just excited that it happened,” Konecny said. “But the thing for me that was more exciting was coming back after that 3-0 [deficit] and an overall exciting night for us.”

The three power-play goals were a season high for the Flyers.

“We got going those two power plays ... our power plays set a tone,” Konecny said. “When that gets going, it makes it hard for the other team to stop us.

“It’s awesome because we know what they can do [on the top power-play unit]. They have been sticking with it and fighting the puck, whatever it’s been the past couple of games, but you know what they are capable of — you can see it the past couple of years. 

“You knew it was coming and tonight is the perfect night to get it going and I am sure that they are going to keep rolling with it.”

Schultz sits
The decision to sit 15-year veteran blueliner Nick Schultz to get Radko Gudas back into the lineup wasn’t easy but it made sense on several levels. Gudas had been suspended for six games.

First, Schultz doesn’t play on the power play, whereas Andrew MacDonald carries heavy minutes with the power play and penalty kill.

Brandon Manning? Not happening. He’s been the Flyers' best defenseman this season. Mark Streit? Doesn’t work because he quarterbacks the second-unit PP and is essentially teaching that duty to rookie Ivan Provorov.

“It’s real tough,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “It’s part of the business and [Schultz has] done an excellent job. He’s always very well-prepared.

“We talked about what’s best for our team and we feel like Gudy going in, especially on a back-to-back, gives us fresh legs and a fresh body coming back into the lineup.”

Hakstol recently has had to switch around his defensive pairs to get more defensive coverage and consistency on the ice. For instance, moving Provorov from Streit to Manning.

He discounted Schultz’s age (34) as a true factor in the decision.

“I think the more flexibility you have, the better, whether it be for rest or for the injury situations,” Hakstol said. “First and foremost, I think we’re still looking for the true consistency that we need through our entire team, but certainly your D pairs are a big part of that. 

“Before we start getting to a comfort level of guys playing with different people, first we have to find true consistency. We’ve been pretty good, but we’ve had stretches where the consistency needs to improve, as well.”

Give and Go: Predicting Sixers' MVP, win total and more for 2016-17

Give and Go: Predicting Sixers' MVP, win total and more for 2016-17

The Sixers officially get back to work Wednesday night in their regular-season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder (see game notes).

Before tip-off, Sixers insider Jessica Camerato, producer/reporter Matt Haughton and producer/reporter Paul Hudrick run the Give and Go to break down some burning questions surrounding the team.

What is the one stat that will most define the Sixers' season?

Turnovers: The Sixers want to build a defensive identity and understandably so — they ranked last in the league in rebounds with a minus-518 differential and were outscored by a last-placed 10.2 points per game. That being said, I am looking at turnovers this season. Last season, they were prone to throwing away points with errors. They ranked 29th (second to the Suns) with 16.6 turnovers per game. The team is down two ball handlers in Jerryd Bayless and Ben Simmons (both injured), which heightens the challenge. In order for the Sixers to get into any type of rhythm and build an offensive flow, they have to actually maintain possession.

It's got to be defense. Brett Brown is banking on Joel Embiid being the centerpiece to the team's defense, and he better be for the head coach's sake. Embiid also better get some help from the guys around him on that end of the floor or it will be another year-long parade of bad rotations, easy buckets at the rim and wide-open jumpers. In Brown's three years as Sixers head coach, the team has ranked 29th, 20th and 30th in opponents' points per game. That has to change if the Sixers want to take the next step in their rebuild.

With an abundance of big men and Simmons eventually taking the court as the team's main facilitator, the Sixers need players that can shoot. Last season, they took the eighth-most three-point attempts in the NBA while finishing 24th in three-point percentage. That second number has to go up if the Sixers ever want to create floor space.

Who will be the Sixers' MVP?

Embiid: The towering 7-foot-2 presence is going to be the dominating force on both ends. Brown intends for Embiid to become the “crown jewel” of the defense and the offense to go through Embiid and Jahlil Okafor, whose role is restricted (knee). Embiid has shown in a small sampling of preseason games he is capable of leading the team on all sides of the floor.

Of course the answer is Embiid, but let's go another route and say Brown. The coach got an extension last season and also received a boost in roster talent. Now he just has to figure out how the pieces fit together. That didn't go so well with Okafor and Nerlens Noel a season ago, but playing those two together was essentially the only intriguing thing about the Sixers in 2015-16, which is why Brown stuck with the pairing. With better players to mix and match this time around, I believe Brown will figure out some solid options to have the squad in better position to compete on a nightly basis.

The easy pick is Embiid, but I'm going a little outside the box with Dario Saric. The 22-year-old Croatian showed off the versatility of his game during the preseason. He's an old school player that excels in the team game. He's what's often referred to as a "glue guy." He has skill, but the skills he lacks he makes up for with grit and basketball savvy.

What is your season projection for the Sixers?

This season was supposed to be a bridge year, the start of rebuilding. That will be delayed until the team is healthy with key players like Simmons, Okafor and Noel back at 100 percent. In the meantime, the Sixers' outlook is better than last season’s 10-win total but less than earlier projections with Simmons in the lineup. Because of injuries, I am shifting their win projection to 19.

The injury bug, starting with No. 1 overall pick Simmons, has certainly put a damper on the Sixers' projected win total. Las Vegas odds books originally set the mark at 27½, which seemed like a long shot even with a full roster. I say they show strides but fall just shy of doubling last season's win total and finish with 19.

This really depends on the return of Simmons. Simmons will make this team so much better on both ends of the floor. Bayless' absence early will hurt this team as well. And don't forget about all the minutes restrictions. They're going to struggle early on, but if Simmons returns in January, I think this team can double its win total from last season and win 20 games.