Broken Twigs: Culture changing and the FGSB Mailbag

Broken Twigs: Culture changing and the FGSB Mailbag

Paul Holmgren will not be fired this year so get used to it.

Ala-kazam! You’re welcome.

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Mike Sielski’s not wrong, he’s just an asshole.

Or to put more specifically, being an asshole about this.

Far be it from me to defend poor MISTER Snider or Paul Holmgren or any of the Flyers brass that has come but not gone over the past two decades, but it’s easy (and lazy) to attack a franchise that hasn’t won a championship in almost 40 years because, well, they haven’t won a championship in almost 40 years.

I agree with the sentiment of his Inquirer column – maybe it is time the Flyers change things up in the front office, maybe they get some new (possibly young) faces in there. But simply telling people they need broad sweeping change when something doesn’t seem to be working is like shooting fish in a barrel. And the thing is, Snider’s actually right in a certain sense, and the case of the Blackhawks doesn’t make him wrong. Just like every other team the Flyers have a 3.33% chance of winning the Stanley Cup at the onset of every season. Every spring the media in 29 NHL towns analyze what went wrong, why their team came up short, and what could be done to avoid the same failure next season. Rooting for a sports team has worse odds than your average scratch ticket. In the end almost everyone is going to lose.

So you haven’t reached the top of the pile in 38 years, ever thought about changing everything!?! Duh, dude. Duh. It’s funny to me that the media can be on both sides of this argument. The only entity that rivals the organization itself in identifying Flyers culture is the local media. Actually, they may have done more. Who has been perpetrating the idea of The Broad Street Bullies for the past 4 decades? Who has been feeding its readers this identity for 40 years? Who asks every single draftee if they think they fit into this idea that is Flyers hockey (whatever that is)? This whole time while the Flyers have been the production and distribution in this arrangement the Philadelphia media has been the marketing department. For a member of that same entity to come back and decry the monster it created without acknowledging its role in said creation seems naïve at best, and cowardly at worst.

Asking the chairman of a company if he needs to change the Flyers culture is akin to asking the President if we need to change the American culture after a school shooting. Like, how do you even answer that/what are you even talking about? You deserve to get spanked. Thanks for the insightful question. Let’s change the culture to a Stanley Cup winning one. That will be better for everyone.

It’s true that many Flyers executives formerly played for the organization, but since retiring each one of these individuals has taken a different path to get where they are today. And they continue to do so. Each coach, GM or scout makes decisions based on what he thinks is best for the team, finding some common ground between his own personal opinion and input from people he trusts. Holmgren made different decisions than Clarke would have. Hextall will make different decisions than Holmgren. Edmonton GM and former Flyer Craig McTavish would make different decisions than both of them.

Now if Sielski’s question and ensuing article are a call for just Ed Snider to distance himself from the operations of the team I think there could be some merit to that. But I don’t see the need to have only people who never played for the Flyers in the front office. Former Flyer or former Haliburton VP of Operations, doesn’t matter me to me. How each person performs in that role is what matters.

You have questions, I have answers. FlyersMailBagGo!

Question from myself…to myself: How did it feel when the coach got fired 4 days after you wrote a post for which the headlines was “Peter Laviolette will not be fired this year so get used to it.”
It’s not my fault. It’s the internet. What’s supposed to happen is that I write that headline and that post and then it gets buried in the annals of the internet and everyone forgets about it and Laviollette gets fired and no one cares that I was wrong. That’s how it generally goes. I’m going to bring you back behind the blogger’s curtain and tell you a secret – the internet is full of shit and a lot of it is the same exact thing posted on different sites by different people. So my writing prep generally goes like this – what is everyone in the mainstream media writing about ok I’m going to write the opposite because why not. You have to differentiate you’re product, son!

@DownGoesOskars - Which current flyer do you think would best be suited for a successful career in graphic design?
I’m wondering what angle you’re approaching this from…who is the most creative Flyer or who is the best at doing what they’re told (burn!). I actually wondered if there was a little internet café in the Flyers new locker room when I was reading about how great it was. Jay Rosehill, who has somehow made himself the voice of the Flyers and one of the only things we all talk about, said that it was the kind of place that made you want to come in early and leave late. For some reason I immediately pictured some kiosk/cubicle computer room where guys come in and surf the web. But then I figured they all just use their phones, and finally that these guys don’t really read anything online unless you count the word “Brazzers.” Aint’ nobody got time for computers when you could be working on your snap shot.

@Jmager_22 - how long until Berube punches a player to prove a point?
For some reason I think Berube is a quite/big stick kind of guy who knows that the threat of him coming down on you is way worse than the reality, at least in his post-enforcer days. As a coach you can really only scream at these young millionaires once or twice a year. What you need to do is bench, or even better scratch, a high profile player because then you’re messing with his livelihood and that will get everyone’s attention. All that being said, Berube’s definitely slapped Steve Hartnell in the back of the head.

@lonis119 - Which Flyer will be the first filmed singing Don't Stop til you get Enough after a win, if they do win again?
If we’re going just based on their propensity to be caught on camera than it’s Zac Rinaldo. When he was talking to Jay Rosehill (there he is again!) on the bench on Tuesday I was paralyzed with fear. That look. I thought he was going to come right out of the TV ad dry hump me to death. If I was Berube I’d actually talk to him about that. Not that I care who he’s banging in the crowd, but during the game you focus on the freaking game. Only. Not just when you’re on the ice. Stop talking about boning chicks while you’re on the bench unless you’re up by 5 goals and your coach wasn’t fired the day before.

@treblaw - which Flyer would make a solid, if unspectacular, NBA shooting guard?
I feel like Mark Streit might be able to stroke the occasional three. He might actually be better suited at the point, but I can’t even picture any other Flyers dribbling a basketball. Streit would be best suited to the Harlem Globe-Trotters style of play, but I don’t think he’d be on board with cashing in the NHL lifestyle to ride around on a sleeper bus, eventually arriving in Louisville just to pants a referee and steal the ball from him.

@DirectingTitan - What is the official Craig Berube stance on spanking as a means of instilling discipline?
Well he brought it up so apparently it’s a tool he’s familiar with. Man is that going to be awkward after a blowout loss to the Blue Jackets. Berube in the middle of the locker room spanking Matt Read, staring right in Claude Giroux’s eyes.

Look what I found. Some of you probably weren’t even born yet.

Josh Huff's acrobatic kick return touchdown sparks Eagles to win

Josh Huff's acrobatic kick return touchdown sparks Eagles to win

For the first 40 yards of Josh Huff’s kick return touchdown on Sunday, he went untouched.

When he got to the Eagles’ 42-yard line, Vikings kicker Blair Walsh was the only guy left in his way.

Huff ran through him.

“Yeah, I can’t let a kicker tackle me,” Huff said. “If he would have tackled me, I really would have been pissed at myself.”

The 170-pound Walsh couldn’t make the tackle and was sent spinning as Huff ran through. Fifty-six yards later, Huff took off from the 2-yard line, flipping into the end zone to give the Eagles their first lead in an eventual 21-10 win over the Vikings (see Instant Replay).

Huff said he knew he was scoring as soon as he saw that he had just the kicker to beat.

With the Eagles’ down 3-0 and with their offense sputtering through the first quarter and change, Huff’s play was a game-changer (see 10 Observations).

“Josh did a great job on the return,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “[Special teams coordinator] Dave Fipp really has those guys ready every single week. You need those things. You need special teams scores.”

After Wendell Smallwood’s kick return touchdown last week, this is the first time in franchise history the Eagles have had kick return touchdowns in back-to-back games. They also have the NFL’s only two kick return touchdowns of the season (see Standout Plays).

“It’s super cool,” Smallwood said. “Now teams have to pick their poison. They can’t go away from one. They can’t say they’re not going to kick to Smallwood, then they kick to Huff and he takes it. I think we’re going to get a lot of teams’ attention.”

Huff also had a role in the Eagles’ offense against the Vikings. He caught four passes for 39 yards, including two that picked up first downs. His 14-yarder in the third helped set up the touchdown that sealed the win for the Eagles.

This season hasn’t been great offensively for Huff. He is clearly the Eagles’ fourth wideout and came into Sunday with just eight catches for 24 yards.

“Obviously, I want to play good on offense, but we have three great guys in front of me,” Huff said. “I’m doing what I can to stay ready and I’m at my best when those guys do need me. At the end of the day, as long as I’m doing my job and as long as I stay ready, today was evident. Whenever they call my number, I’m going to make the most of my opportunities.”

Huff finished off his 98-yard kick return touchdown the same way he finished off his 41-yard receiving touchdown in New England last year: With a flip.

Huff took off from the 2-yard line and did a front flip, landing in the middle in the black end zone on his backside.

“It’s just something that happens,” Huff said. “Everybody says I should have stuck the landing, but I’m not a gymnast.”

Eagles' defense outplays Vikings' top-ranked unit

Eagles' defense outplays Vikings' top-ranked unit

The Eagles’ defense had two challenges on its mind Sunday. First, there was the challenge of outplaying Sam Bradford and the Vikings’ offense. Just as important was the challenge of outplaying the Vikings’ top-ranked defense.

“We wanted to be the better defense out there,” Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said. “We wanted to match their intensity. That was the whole thing. That’s all we talked about — let’s be the best defense out there today. We wanted to make sure we were the most dominating defense in the game.

“We wanted to get more sacks, get more turnovers … that was our whole goal.”

In a clash of two of the NFL’s top defensive units, the Eagles beat the previously undefeated Vikings 21-10 Sunday at the Linc (see Instant Replay).

The Vikings defense was very good. It held the Eagles to 14 offensive points and forced four turnovers, but also had no sacks.

The Eagles’ defense was better. It held the Vikings to 10 offensive points, forced four turnovers and recorded six sacks.

If you watched this game and had to guess which defense is No. 1 in the NFL, you’d guess Eagles.

They were that dominating.

They outplayed the best defense in the game.

“We think we’re the best defense, but they’ve been playing great, and they were the best defense coming in,” Eagles safety Rodney McLeod said. “We knew it would come down to whichever defense played the best.

“You could see that the first quarter. We’d make a play, they’d make a play. But you’ve just got to keep on chopping. After the last two games, we wanted to get back to playing Eagles defense, and I feel like we did that.”

McLeod, linebacker Jordan Hicks, Connor Barwin and Graham led a ferocious defensive effort that saw the Eagles batter former teammate Sam Bradford, who absorbed his first loss as a Viking (see 10 Observations).

The Eagles sacked Bradford six times, intercepted him twice and mauled him snap after snap after snap. By the time the Vikings got in the end zone, with half a minute left, it was already a three-possession game.

Neither team had an offensive play longer than 29 yards.

“We think we’re the No. 1 defense in the league,” Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “We think we can be that and should be that if we go out and play the way we’re supposed to.

“We have to do that every week. But we think we can hang with any defenses out there. And we have a lot of respect for that defense across the field, and we knew we would have to show up for us to even have a chance to be in this game. Because that defense is ranked No. 1 coming into this thing.

“But we also feel we’re the best defense in the league, even though we haven’t played like it. But this is the opportunity you want. On the main stage, you’re coming into our home, and this was our opportunity to face the best defense in the league, and I think we showed our worth.”

The Eagles, who looked nothing like a top defense the last two weeks in losses in Detroit and Washington, improved to 4-2 and dropped the Vikings to 5-1.

Six games in, the Eagles’ defense is allowing just 13.5 points per game. That’s No. 2 in the league, behind only … who else … the Vikings at 12.8 per game.

“For us, it’s a battle of the defenses,” Hicks said. “And we always want to be the best defense on the field and put our team in a position to win.”

Bradford has been sacked more only once in his career, back in 2011 with the Rams, when the Redskins got him seven times.

And after opening the season with no interceptions in four games, the Eagles picked him off twice.

Whatever it takes to get motivated. If it works, it works. And this Eagles' defense was clearly motivated by that No. 1 ranking the Vikings brought to town.

“It motivated everybody,” Fletcher Cox said. “We knew in order to win this game we had to be good up front, and the last two weeks we weren’t very good up front. But we got back to basics and went out and played a physical football game.”

Hicks had 11 tackles, a sack, three tackles for loss and two pass knockdowns in his finest game of the year. McLeod became the first Eagle since Quintin Mikell in 2007 with a sack, forced fumble and interception in the same game and added seven tackles. And Graham picked up his fourth sack to go with five quarterback hurries and a forced fumble (see Standout Plays).

The Eagles got back to the way they played defense the first three games of the season. They’ve now held their opponents to 14 or fewer points in four of six games and won them all. In their two losses, they’ve allowed 24 and 27.

“Pride … call it what you want, we knew we had to play well today,” Hicks said. “This defense has a certain standard, and it doesn’t matter what anybody else does, it matters what we do, and ultimately if we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, we’re going to be a top, top, top defense.

“For me, it’s not about them. It’s about us and what we do.”