Flyers Send Us Into the Work Week With a Win

Flyers Send Us Into the Work Week With a Win

After the Eagles' absolute debacle of a loss to the travesty that is the 2011 Arizona Cardinals, I barely felt like watching another second of sports this Sunday evening. Thankfully, the Flyers gave us a reason to lock up our sharps and settle in for some HBO programming without doing ourselves or others harm.

Ilya Bryzgalov was a rock in net to limit the Florida attack to just one goal until the waning seconds of the game, and the Flyers hung three on Jose Theodore in a solid overall performance by the Orange & Black.

Danny Briere opened the scoring with a backhand cleanup just off of Theodore's doorstep, giving him five on the season. Danny had very little angle and was coming in from his weaker side, yet still elevated it to the top shelf for a gorgeous finish. Braydon Coburn tallied in the second on a great breakout off a takeaway in the Flyers zone, and Matt Read scored on a penalty shot to put the Flyers up 3-1. The Panthers would score a garbage time goal to pull within one, but Philadelphia had control for most of this game, and the way they scored in three very different ways was a great indicator of what this team can do.

Video highlights and discussion below.

Coburn's goal was a nice reminder of how fast this team can change gears if they can pull a takeaway in their own zone. Max Talbot fed a breaking Coburn, who found Jakub Voracek, who in turn fed it back to Coburn with a wide open net. The speed of the transaction was more than Florida could handle, and Coburn added his first goal of the season to a November that already included a contract extension, a fight win over Steve Downie, and the birth of a new baby. Way to go, Cobie.  

Read's penalty shot came while the team was shorthanded on a highsticking call to Talbot. It's amazing to think that despite the personnel this team lost in the off-season, they're still very dangerous on the kill. Read drew a call as he barreled toward the net, and on the ensuing penalty shot, powered one through Theodore's legs.

The double-minor to Talbot was still on the clock, and the Flyers killed it off with some smart work by their PK unit, a group that includes rookies that play like seasoned veterans. Sean Couturier has been very good in all situations so far this season, and Peter Laviolette clearly trusts him.

The rookies gave the Flyers a boost tonight. Read's contribution will show up on the scoresheet, but Zac Rinaldo was a fireball, notching a few more big hits, and Cooter put in 5:27 of time on the penalty kill alone.

Bryz was sharp all night, with his positioning making him look even bigger than he already is.

Overall, not much more we could ask for from the Flyers, topping a solid Panthers team by a 3-2 count.

Highlights:

Notes:
Talbot drew some bad luck from the zebras, issued a double-minor for a love tap that somehow drew blood only Dexter could find in the mouth of Brian Campbell. Fortunately, the Flyers scored on the man-down when Read pocketed the penalty shot goal. Later, Talbot would take a stick in the mouth, going to the ice with blood pouring out of his mouth without even a call.

The Flyers got a break when Stephen Weiss did something to piss off the official who called him for hooking on the play that led to Read's penalty shot. Weiss was assessed a 10 minute misconduct and a game misconduct, one of the Panthers' leading scorers then missing crunch time of a close game.

Neither team scored on the power play despite a total of 12 penalties being called.

Bryzgalov made 31 saves on 33 shots, again looking very much out of the woods.

Chris Pronger is looking healthy, as he led all skaters with 24:13 of ice time, a few minutes more than any other player. Claude Giroux led forwards in TOI with 21:36.

Couturier leads all rookies in shorthanded time on ice per game, per the Flyers.

Giroux and Briere were strong at the dot, with G winning 13 of 18 and Danny 9 of 13.

The Flyers are in action again tomorrow night, when they head to Carolina to face the Hurricanes.

Photo by Steve Mitchell-US Presswire

2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, C: Cash money or Kelce?

2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, C: Cash money or Kelce?

Time to talk everybody's favorite Eagles whipping boy, or one of them in Jason Kelce, who's viewed very differently by fans than he is his peers. Case in point, it might surprise some readers to learn Kelce was named a second alternate to the Pro Bowl for 2016, which means a lot of NFL players and coaches must've been voting for him.

We know Eagles fans weren't coming out in droves. Yet if we were to go off of only the respect people around the league have for Kelce, he's considered one of the top eight centers in football. That ranking also happens to be roughly commensurate with his salary cap hit for 2017, which is currently 10th at the position, according to OverTheCap.

That's still going to be high for many critics that say Kelce is too undersized and has become too frequently penalized in recent years. It's especially high when you tell some of those same people the Eagles could save nearly $4 million by going in a different direction.

The trade or release of Kelce would free up $3.8 million to be exact, although once again, that's before we consider the cost of replacing him. And unlike other areas of the Eagles roster, there really isn't a young prospect waiting in the wings to take over, even somebody who is maybe only a year away from being ready to take over.

So if the Eagles were to get rid of Kelce, they would have to pay somebody to replace him. Granted, only 14 centers carry a higher cap number, and many starters make half of the six-year veteran's money, so there are cheaper options available — although, what kind of quality is the offense getting for that price?

Kelce is a perfect example of when the grass isn't always greener. There are some big, mauling centers around the NFL, like the Pouncey brothers, and who doesn't love that? But while Kelce isn't necessarily going to rip anybody's spine out at the point of attack, there probably isn't a better center in the league at pulling or blocking at the second and third levels. He's a unique player from that perspective, something people tend to forget.

The Eagles are not going to upgrade the position by going significantly cheaper. Kelce can hold his own in pass protection, and he's elite when the play design allows him to get into space. There's also something to be said for his knowledge of the offense, in addition to the rapport he's building with Carson Wentz.

Best case scenario, the Eagles are probably replacing him with Stefan Wisniewski, who the club paid $2.76 million in 2016. Figuring a raise, that's most of their cap savings right there, and Wisniewski is not nearly as decorated or so widely respected by his peers. There must be a reason for that.

Kelce is pretty good.

CENTERS UNDER CONTRACT

Jason Kelce
Age: 30*
Cap Number: $6,200,000

The bigger issue with Kelce is he's approaching his 30th birthday this year, although many centers enjoy lengthy careers, especially the guys who play more of a finesse game. And if the Eagles do want to start thinking about the future, it might help if they begin developing his replacement now. Kelce will be much easier to move on from in 2018 in terms of the salary cap, so if the Eagles draft somebody this year, theoretically they could move on next season. Keep in mind, Kelce was a sixth-round pick, and the club got a lot of mileage out of him, so it doesn't have to be a major investment. Plus, if that doesn't work out, renegotiation could be on the table, with Kelce's cap hit reaching $7.2 million in '18, but only $1.2 million of prorated signing bonus left on a contract that runs through 2020. The Eagles will be looking to reduce their costs, while Kelce will want some financial security.

Josh Andrews
Age: 26*
Cap Number: $615,000

Andrews joined the Eagles as an undrafted free agent out of Oregon State in 2014, and after a few years of clinging to the practice squad and on the 53-man roster as a reserve, finally saw his first action on offense this season. He played one snap at center against the Ravens in Week 15. Andrews can also line up at guard and has played special teams, though spent most of '16 inactive. He seems like a bit of a Chip Kelly outcast at this point, although it's difficult to put him in a box with so little actual experience. Is Andrews somebody who simply hasn't been given an opportunity and could fill in capably for Kelce, or will the Eagles feel the need to find competition for his roster spot?

Aaron Neary
Age: 25*

Neary originally joined the Broncos roster as an undrafted rookie, but found his way to the Eagles practice squad following his release. The Eastern Washington prospect was a two-time All-American at the Division I-AA level. At 6-foor-1, 305 pounds, Neary is considered undersized, like Kelce, which suggests this organization wants nimble centers like that. While he's probably a ways away from having any impact, the Eagles signed Neary to a futures contract at the conclusion of the season.

* Age as of 12/31/2017

Emmanuel Acho and Joe Banner have hilarious Twitter exchange about his awful trade

Emmanuel Acho and Joe Banner have hilarious Twitter exchange about his awful trade

You probably remember Emmanuel Acho more for his Twitter exploits than for anything he ever did on a football field. That was the case once again over the weekend when another former Eagle had a huge game for the Patriots in their win over the Houston Texans in the AFC playoffs.

Oh, and former Philadelphia Eagles decision maker Joe Banner was also involved.

All of it started because Dion Lewis, a one-time Eagles running back drafted in the 5th round in 2011, scored three TDs in a variety of ways on the Patriots way to another AFC title game.

The joke here is that Banner -- then with the Browns -- was on the winning end of the Lewis-for-Acho trade and was himself eventually fired from his job in Cleveland. But hey, at least Acho got out of that awful city.

Lewis has battled injury for much of his career and hasn't exactly been the second coming of LeSean McCoy but he's yet another case of the Bill Belichick Patriots finding a player who had floundered with other teams only to flourish in big moments in New England.

And Joe Banner may have seen that potential early on.