If It's Gaither You Want, It's Gaither You Got & Other Notes From Game 3

If It's Gaither You Want, It's Gaither You Got & Other Notes From Game 3

The experiment appears
to be over, and the Eagles have inserted Omar Gaither back into the
starting middle linebacker job this week.  Nobody campaigned louder for
Joe Mays' opportunity than us, but with the season quickly approaching
and roughly zero positive standout moments for the second year player,
it's time to make the switch.

Hugh Douglas' description last
Thursday that Mays has played "timid" was perfect.  It's not that Mays
has been awful; he hasn't really been beaten for any huge plays. 
Actually, the problem is he's in on very few plays at all, a major departure from last
preseason where he racked up one tackle after another.  At the time, he was
playing without hesitation, simply running to where the ball is and
making the stop.  While trying to run the Eagles' true scheme though,
he's been lost even where he was thought to excel, in run support.

For what it's worth, Moise
Fokou wasn't any better.  He's had an excellent preseason, but his
trial with the first team went as expected.  Fokou was nailed for a
pair of penalties, including one that gave the Jags a first down on 3rd
and 19, and he seemed even more likely to be out of position than Mays. 
You still have to like what you see from the seventh round pick, it's
still just too raw for such a huge role.

As for Gaither, we know what the defense will get,
which is a solid contribution from a player who knows the system.  He's
not as aggressive as the coaches prefer, but he's a competent defender and
good in coverage.  I still think Mays has a ton of talent, he just
didn't make the most of his shot, and it's time to move on for the time being.

Defense

- Trent Cole is an absolute beast.  The front four is completely different with him in the game.

- Asante Samuel obviously had a great game, but Ellis Hobbs rebounded after last week's stinker as well.

-
Quintin Demps bouncing off of TE Mercedes Lewis in the open field was
way too reminiscent of last year's NFC Championship.  Dawkins brings
the big fella down.

Offense

- Kevin Kolb
looked terrible, there's no other way to slice it.  10 for 18 for 102
yards and a TD doesn't sound too bad, but it was ugly.  Twice with pressure
in his face, he backpedaled deep behind the line of scrimmage and threw the ball away, once intentionally
grounding for a safety.  On successive plays, he overthrew then
underthrew his receiver, and several times targeted covered receivers,
including the touchdown throw that just barely threaded the needle. 
Maybe we should get more of Vick the QB next week and less Vick the
gimmick.

- Eldra Buckley is always the first man down the field
in kick coverage and is a pretty good tackler for a running back.  Next
week is probably the end of Lorenzo Booker.

- Props to the wide
receivers, particularly Jackson and Avant who combined for 9 catches
and 139 yards.  Maclin added another 4 for 53, indicating he's coming
along nicely.  Through three games, you have to wonder if Kevin Curtis
has much of a role in this offense by the end of the year.

- On McCoy's TD run, Celek sealed the edge nicely, allowing the runner to bounce the play outside for an easy six.

-
Once the Eagles quit all that trick stuff, the whole offense seemed to
get into a rhythm, including the O-line.  There are still question
marks though.  Peters seems to get fooled every time the defenders
stunt, and almost got McNabb killed again on a play the DE attacked inside.  Peters inexplicably followed him into no man's land, leaving McCoy on the edge to block two blitzers. 
Cole continues to look sloppy, especially bad news with the announcement Herremans
will be out for awhile longer than expected.  And while
Justice has improved greatly, he's still not much of a run blocker at all and
makes his share of mistakes.

At least Shawn Andrews finally returned to
practice
, and could play as soon as Thursday.

- Overall, the Eagles are going to
be fine, in large part due to their defense.  Patt and Bunk continue to
hold up the line of scrimmage, which is a big key to their success. 
They have playmakers in Cole, Samuel, and Mikell, and solid contributors
Brown, Gocong, and Gaither.

The offense might start off
inconsistent as the line continues to gel, but suddenly their Week 4
bye looks like a blessing as it will give them more time to prepare
for the brutal stretch of NFC East opponents.  You would like to see them manhandle a team
like the Jags a bit more, but under the circumstances (Vick) and
accounting for a few fluke plays, this wasn't bad for a preseason game.

Nerlens Noel posts thankful message to Philly fans

Nerlens Noel posts thankful message to Philly fans

Nerlens Noel's tenure in Philadelphia wasn't characterized by a whole lot of winning, but he'll still likely be remembered fondly by Sixers fans as being one of the original members of the process.

It's always an emotional time when a fan favorite departs for another city and a new team instead of seeing the championship aspirations many had for them in Philly through to fruition.

Noel posted an emotional message to his Twitter account on Thursday evening thanking the city of Philadelphia and its fans for the support they showed him through the ups and downs. 

The tweet contained the hashtag #Philly with a couple of exclamation points with a screenshot of a note that read:

What an exciting journey it’s been… To have such an amazing city embrace a kid from Boston coming out of Kentucky the way y’all did, is something I’ll truly never forget. And even through the ups and downs I never doubted the love here and that won’t change. Thank you to everybody that’s believed in me and supported through #TheProcess.

Love! -NN4

He posted the same message on Instagram as well.

Noel was traded earlier in the day to the Dallas Mavericks for Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut, and a conditional first round pick that will likely turn into two second round picks.

Bryan Colangelo will address the media on Friday morning to discuss his rationale behind moving Nerlens.

Related:

>>Every reason why the Nerlens Noel trade was unjustifiable 

>>Video: Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid say their goodbyes 

>>Joel Embiid reacts to Nerlens trade on Twitter: 'Trust it'

Joel Embiid: With Mavs, Nerlens Noel 'to get the chance he wanted'

Joel Embiid: With Mavs, Nerlens Noel 'to get the chance he wanted'

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Nerlens Noel emerged from the trainer’s room in a red sweatshirt and made his rounds of handshakes and hugs. It would be his last time in the Sixers' training complex as a member of the team, marking the end of the longest-tenured player’s stay in Philadelphia.

The Sixers traded Noel to the Mavericks on Thursday for Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut and a top-18 protected first-round pick, according to a source (see story). He went through a portion of practice and was removed from it because of the deal. 

Noel’s now former teammates had a strong reaction to his departure. 

“Nerlens, he’s my guy,” Joel Embiid said. “He’s been my best friend since I got to Philly and I’m happy for him. He wants to start. I think in Dallas he’s going to get the chance to start and they’re going to re-sign him and they’re going to pay him a lot of money. Here it was kind of hard for him to start unless they were starting us together. But I’m happy for him. He’s going to get the chance he wanted.”

Noel’s future with the Sixers had been in question for two years as he enters restricted free agency this summer. Last season, the team struggled to find a way for him and Jahlil Okafor, both true centers, to play together. This season, the logjam was magnified when Embiid made his debut and took over the starting role. 

Noel candidly spoke out about the overcrowding at the beginning of the season but that situation was sidetracked when he missed 23 games because of injury. Once he returned, he quickly was on the short end of minutes. 

“I need to be on the court playing basketball,” Noel said in mid-December. “I think I’m too good to be playing eight minutes. Like, no, that’s crazy. That’s crazy. That’s crazy. They need to figure this s--- out.”

The Sixers did figure out his role, later making him the defensive leader of the second unit as Okafor became the odd man out. The Sixers also considered the possibility of pairing Noel and Embiid in the starting lineup, as they did with Embiid and Okafor, but that experiment played out only over a handful of minutes. 

“I’m a little bit disappointed,” Embiid said of not playing more alongside Noel. “I thought we should have tried that a little bit more. I think the few times we did, it actually looked pretty good offensively and defensively.”

Of the bigs, it seemed like Okafor would be the one moved at the deadline after being held out of two games because of trade talks. In the end, it was Noel as the one to go on Thursday. 

“He’s one of my favorite players here,” Dario Saric said. “He’s always ready for jokes, he’s always ready to enjoy every moment.” 

Noel was the only player remaining from Brown’s first season as head coach with the Sixers. Brown could not comment on the Noel trade because it was not official at the time he addressed the media. 

Ilyasova leadership missed
On Wednesday night the Sixers dealt Ersan Ilyasova to the Hawks for Tiago Splitter, a 2017 second-round pick and 2017 second-round pick swap rights. Even though Ilyasova played only 53 games for the Sixers, the veteran leader left his mark.

“He was a consummate pro,” Brown said. “He helped teach our young guys about that professionalism and helped contribute to our culture. He was good. You add those things up and we’re going to miss him.” 

Ilyasova’s departure affects those who played with him and behind him. Embiid credited Ilyasova for stretching the floor when they were in the starting lineup together. 

Saric, though, is perhaps the most impacted by the trade. Saric moved to the second unit when Ilyasova took over the starting role. He learned from his fellow international power forward, who helped him adjust to the NBA on and off the court. Saric is likely to get the nod as a starter. 

“For me, it’s hard,” Saric said. “I lost in Ersan some kind of mentor.” 

Brown also plans to play Robert Covington and Richaun Holmes at power forward at times, as well. If Covington slides over from small forward, Brown eyes Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Gerald Henderson and Nik Stauskas as players who could fill in at the three spot. 

The Sixers will resume activity on Friday morning for shootaround ahead of their game against the Wizards. They will approach that contest without familiar faces on the court. 

“I lost two good friends,” Saric said. “But this is the NBA. This is part of the business, part of the job.”