Broken Twigs: Lecavalier and Giroux, Flyers Bachelorette and FGSB Mailbag

Broken Twigs: Lecavalier and Giroux, Flyers Bachelorette and FGSB Mailbag

Paul Holmgren stands up, fastens the top button of the sports coat he’s wearing over a short-sleeved golf shirt, pauses a moment, and then:

I can show you the world, shining, shimmering, splendid, tell me, princess, now when did you last let your heart decide?
I can open your eyes, take you wonder by wonder, over, sideways and under, on a magic..

“Paul,” Ed Snider interjects, leaning back from the conference room table and resting his cocky smirk on his thumb and pointer finger, “I think we have a deal.”

- - - - -

I am most definitely over-thinking this, but there is something nagging me. 3 words as a matter of fact: let’s just say.

Picture a scene from a TV show. Or a movie. Anything. Hell, real life even. Picture someone saying “let’s just say” and looking all smarmy and superior. There is so much underlying arrogance in those three words. “Let’s just say” is how dudes used to troll other dudes during the Renaissance. Let’s just say, the canvas wasn’t the only thing Mona Lisa let me paint….

Interest is created where there previously was none. Let's just say is the cousin of the humble brag:

“I really don’t want to get into that, but let’s just say Philly, with the meeting that I had with them, that’s the place I really wanted to go,” Lecavalier said. “I gotta tell you, right after I talked with Philly, even before any offers or anything, they went right to the top of the list. I just liked what they were saying.”

When have you ever heard of an athlete in any sport admit to deciding his future not based on contract terms, not based on what’s best for his family, but solely based on a single meeting with executives that he doesn’t know all that well. What could 3 men with a combined age of 275 have said to this 33 year old star Stanley Cup Champion/Gold Medalist/Mr. L’Oreal Sublime Glow for the Body 2011 that made him so eager to be a Flyer?

Believe you me, I’ve been up nights thinking about this one. Did they promise him he’d be GM in 2017? Did they show him a DVD of people taking pictures with Bernie Parent and Bob Kelley at Gate D of the WFC and say “this could all be yours?” Is The Declaration of Independence involved? Is Nicolas Cage involved? Both?

The only thing that I can think of that the Flyers have and other teams don’t, the only promise that the Flyers could make that no other team can, is Claude Giroux. But I don’t think Flyers Management promised Vinny that he would be on Claude Giroux’s line. Everyone in that room knows better than that. They know that line combinations in the NHL can change faster than a 15 year old’s relationship status . I think what they promised Vincent Lecavalier, or more likely asked of him, was to be Claude Giroux’s mentor.

Vinny Lecavalier is 33. When you get to that age as a player you start to think about your legacy. Even if retirement is 5 years down the road you can clearly see that the spotlight is shifting off of you and onto the younger kids with all their kooky electronic gadgets and Tumblrs. So what is left to be done if you’ve won everything? Why train when you could be sitting on the beach (which Vincent Lecavalier is obviously a fan of) reflecting on all of your accomplishments? Why travel for 6 months of the year when you could be home with your family collecting millions? A big part of that is personal drive and habit, obviously not wanting to let go of something that is so familiar and great when you can still do it well, but adding in a mentor role can really serve to stoke a fire that may have died a little when Tampa Bay Management came into the room with their bucket of water.

By mentoring Claude Giroux you take on two roles, you have two reasons to get up at 5AM and jump up onto a box 500 times. The primary reason, it will always come first, is for your own benefit, obviously. But when that's just not getting it done and you think you can cut a corner you remember that you are an example, that even thought Claude Giroux is actually leading this team, you are leading Claude Giroux. And in that way you become bigger than yourself, you can become immortal.

Vinny had this in Tampa, and he shared the responsibility with Martin St. Louis. Over the past 3 NHL seasons, the top scorers in their 20's reads like this:

Steven Stamkos - 245 pts
Claude Giroux - 216 pts
Alex OV - 206 pts
Eric Staal - 199 pts
Phil Kessel - 212 pts
John Tavares - 209 pts
Patrick Kane - 202 pts
Corey Perry - 206 pts
Anze Kopitar - 204 pts
Ryan Getzlaf - 193 pts

Obviously Crosby and Malkin would be on this list if it weren't for injuries, but the Penguins were never an option due to the fact that Ray Shero keeps handing out 8 year $60M contracts to anyone that will talk to him.

With Vinny not wanting to go to the Western Conference, and Claude Giroux being the youngest, most french-speaking, and possibly (time will tell) gifted player on that list, why wouldn't he want to come to Philadelphia and serve as the engine to Captain Giroux? Maybe he could accomplish something great again along the way?

And now your questions…

From @GBHeights: With Briere gone, if the Flyers were on The Bachelorette who would make overnight dates and who would get the final rose?
I’m glad Briere is gone. He wasn’t here for All the Right Reasons (tm). If I’m just going off Bachelorette logic, and not any specific contestant, it goes like this:

  • Hartnell (too goofy), Timonen (too old), Grossmann (too bald), Voracek (too gross), Adam Hall (blends in with the wallpaper), Luke Schenn (looks chubby next to his brother), Meszaros (crutches don’t work), Gervais and Talbot (too into each other), Gus (unaware he’s on the show) are all gone the first night.
  • Simmonds and Emery have to make to the second week, and second week only, because that’s always when the Bachelorette feels like she’s proven to America that she’s not raycess and can safely send the black guys home.
  • In week 3 Mark Streit creeps out from behind a plant and scares the shit out of everyone. No one knew he was there and he gets sent home immediately. In the rose ceremony she sends Steve Mason home because they can’t talk without him bringing up his Calder trophy.
  • Rinaldo, Coburn, and Couturier (who she calls Wolfie) fade away as the weeks pass, and she’s left with 4.
  • Read is right there at the end because his crow-ish good looks and learned brain leave her intrigued, but the final 3 are Lecavalier, B. Schenn, and Captain Jean-Luc Giroux because it all comes down to looks and power, just like real life.
  • In a surprise ending, after banging all the guys on the overnight dates, the Bachelorette breaks down and admits she is in love with the host of the show, Mr. Ed Snider. Snider tosses his wedding ring into the ocean and exults “make it 5!” has he grabs onto a rope ladder that’s dangling from a helicopter, holding the Bachelorette in one arm like Indiana Jones.

Incest from Enrico: what was the first emotion you felt when you saw the photo of the Legion of Doom back together?
Honestly? I had two thoughts in succession – look at those calves and John Leclair needs some new hair. Everyone kept talking about how much weight he put on and all I could think was that he looked like an old, and yes fat, version of the rapper Snow with those little sunglasses and that receding hairline. But then I went back to their calves and was like, damn those are some big calves. And then I looked closer at Renberg and then back to all their calves and thought “that’s a lot of meat.” And then I looked at Ant J. San and thought “how did you get that job and what do you even do?" And then back to the calves. So to answer your question...confused.

From @Mager_Pls: what's your favorite cereal? Thanks, Big Fan
My favorite cereal is Frosted Flakes because I imagine that it’s Scott Harnell’s favorite cereal. Can’t you see him sitting at the huge island in his loft apartment in the Old City, so focused on slurping down a giant bowl of Frosted Flakes that he doesn’t even notice HIS OWN HAIR IS IN THE BOWL! What hijinks! I bet he does fun stuff like eats cereal all the time.

From Kristen: where is the next logical move for the flyers to make this offseason?  what is the actual move they'll make?
Well they have 20 defensemen under NHL contracts and I think you’re only supposed to have like 15. Everyone’s so focused on Coburn/Mesz that I think it’s going to be Grossmann or Schenn, even though the latter would be as heart breaking as the Civil War (the actual war, not the Guns ‘n Roses song). I good rule of thumb with Paul Holmgren seems to be “do the opposite of what everyone else would do” so be ready for anything (for further reading on this topic see The Day Paul Holmgren Traded Away the Entire Team in 2011).

YinzTweet Breakdown of the Week

Even though I want to hate, I actually have to side with @jilldiegsxo’s sentiment here, as much as it really pains me to say someone from Pittsburgh is right about something that is not the best store brand mayonnaise or advice on getting drunk off of windshield wiper fluid. What she’s hipping us too is a twitter handle, @iscrosbyabitch, which I personally don’t see the point of. I don’t really understand where you can go with a trite persona like this. I would expect something this pointless from a Pittsburgh fan but….wait! Maybe it is a Pittsburgh fan posing as a Flyers fan so they can use this against us! Wait again, anyone from Pittsburgh would have run out to play in the dirt mound about half way through such a maniacal thought, so it must be a Flyers fan…. I say shut ‘er down.

Eagles mailbag: Carson Wentz's skill, running backs, center spot

Eagles mailbag: Carson Wentz's skill, running backs, center spot

The NFL found a way to prevent the Eagles from winning this weekend: Don't let them play. 

Yup, the Eagles are riding high at 3-0, but an early Week 4 bye has them waiting to play again until Oct. 9 in Detroit against the Lions. 

Thanks to a hot start from rookie Carson Wentz and the defense, the Eagles have been one of the biggest surprises of the NFL so far and have Philadelphia buzzing. 

As always, thanks for your questions. We'll dive right in: 

Wentz's ability to extend plays doesn't make his receivers better, but it certainly gives them more opportunities, which is really just as good. 

This skill is something Wentz really takes pride in. He wants his receivers to know that no matter how broken the play is, it isn't dead until the whistle. In that regard, the comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers make plenty of sense. And his receivers love the idea of having extra seconds to get open. 

During the Chicago game, Wentz really showed this ability. He showed he can move around and out of the pocket while also keeping his eyes downfield. It was just a matter of time before he hit big on one of those plays. 

Sure enough, he did it in the third quarter against the Steelers. I broke down that play using the tape and it showed a unique skill set out of a quarterback (see story)

https://twitter.com/faux_micahGreg/status/781171954241851392

We had a few questions about running backs, so we'll let this one speak for them all. 

On Monday, Doug Pederson said that once Ryan Mathews ankle is completely healed, Mathews is still the lead back who will get most of the team's carries. I think Pederson means it. 

Still, Mathews has had injury problems for a long time and it looks like this year is no different. It had to be encouraging for the Eagles to see how well Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood played against the Steelers. While Mathews is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, Barner is at 6.1 and Smallwood is at 4.8. 

Sproles, who has 19 carries this year, shouldn't be getting as many carries as he has, but he's still going to get some. He's averaging just 2.7 yards per attempt.

That's a long answer to say this: For now, Mathews is the guy. But if he can't stay healthy, one of the other guys could and should earn more carries. 

https://twitter.com/ATONAMIS317/status/781174071400755200

I thought Stefen Wisniewski looked OK in camp as the primary backup at right guard. 

Sure, Jason Kelce hasn't looked like a Pro Bowler in 2016, but he might not be as bad as you think. Here's Andrew Kulp's film breakdown of Kelce from the Bears game, where to the casual observer, it looked like Kelce got worked (see story). We see Kelce looks bad when he's asked to block a nose tackle 1-on-1. That's never been his strength and never will be his strength. His strength is getting to the next level to block and use his athleticism. 

One more reason to not expect a change at center unless things start to go really bad is that Kelce has been really good for Wentz. Sure, there was a bad snap against the Steelers (something Wisniewski has had his troubles with) but Kelce is a veteran and has helped the rookie out plenty during the first three weeks. 

And besides, with Lane Johnson's suspension looming, the Eagles are likely going to use Wisniewski to fill it at left guard. They could put him at center and Isaac Seumalo at LG, but that would be a pretty big offensive line shakeup for a team that hasn't yet lost a game. 

No. 10 Washington dominates No. 7 Stanford in rout

usa-washington-christian-mccaffrey.jpg
USA Today Images

No. 10 Washington dominates No. 7 Stanford in rout

SEATTLE -- Jake Browning threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns, Myles Gaskin added 100 yards and two scores, and No. 10 Washington was dominant on both sides, overwhelming No. 7 Stanford 44-6 on Friday night.

After months of hype that Washington (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) was on the verge of a breakout, the Huskies showed they were ready for their return to the national stage.

And they did it emphatically, handing Stanford (3-1, 2-1) its worst loss since a 41-3 setback against Arizona State in 2007.

The Huskies raced to a 23-0 halftime lead, scored early in the second half to go up 30-0 and coasted to their biggest victory over an AP Top 10 team since beating No. 5 Southern California 31-0 in 1990. That game 26 years ago announced Washington as a national contender and the Huskies went on to share the national title a year later with Miami -- taking the coaches' version while Miami topped the AP media poll.

Browning was the leader of an efficient offense that scored on six of its eight drives. He threw touchdowns of 3 yards to Dante Pettis, 19 yards to John Ross and capped the night with a 3-yarder to Aaron Fuller with 5:30 remaining. Browning was 15 of 21 and did not commit a turnover.

Equally important was Washington's ability to establish a running game. The Huskies rushed for 214 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry.

Meanwhile, Stanford star Christian McCaffrey saw his Heisman Trophy aspirations hit a major speed bump. McCaffrey was held to 49 yards rushing on 12 carries, five catches for 30 yards and continued his streak of never scoring an offensive touchdown in a road game.

It was McCaffrey's fewest yards rushing since 2014 at California when he had 19 yards on three carries.

Stanford's only TD came late in the third quarter on a 19-yard pass from Ryan Burns to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.

Burns was 15 of 22 for 151 yards, but Washington controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides. Stanford quarterbacks were sacked eight times, six in the first half. Stanford had allowed only four total sacks in the first three games combined.

Stanford was playing short-handed without starting cornerbacks Quenton Meeks and Alijah Holder, starting wide receiver Francis Owusu and starting fullback Daniel Marx. Starting right tackle Casey Tucker limped off with an apparent leg injury late in the fourth quarter.

Takeaways
Stanford: The Cardinal were unexpectedly sloppy. Stanford committed 11 penalties after entering the week as the least penalized team in the Pac-12. There were communication issues in part due to the roaring Washington crowd, but also a lack of sharpness not normally seen from David Shaw's team.

Washington: The defense was up to the task of keeping McCaffrey under control and forcing Burns to beat them through the air. McCaffrey had 34 yards on 10 carries in the first half and forced the Cardinal into numerous long third-down situations. That allowed Washington to bring extra pass rushers to get to Burns.

Up Next
Stanford: The Cardinal head home after two straight weeks on the road to host Washington State.

Washington: The Huskies travel to Oregon looking to snap a 12-game losing streak to the Ducks.