On Kolb to the Cardinals...

On Kolb to the Cardinals...

The nice thing about the new team pages is we can comment on stories we otherwise might not have in the past. This is one of those. (As it turns out, it made the main page after all.)

We actually did post about Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald, and how the Cards' front office supposedly solicited the star's input on their quarterback situation several months ago. Legend has it Fitz lobbied for Kevin Kolb and other veteran signal callers, though the report was later refuted in its entirety.

But wouldn't you know it, the draft came and went, and Arizona failed to address the canyon-sized hole they have under center. I mean, they didn't draft ANYBODY, and Derek Anderson, Max Hall, and John Skelton were their quarterbacks last year. That's quite the collection. Needless to say, if they weren't one of the prime candidates to trade for Kolb before, they certainly are now.

The latest bit of gossip comes from an Adam Schefter report on ESPN's NFL Live, where the newsman announced the Eagles' backup QB is destined for Arizona.

“Kevin Kolb is going to get dealt from Philadelphia, most likely going to be to the NFC West, and right now all signs point to Arizona.”

Schefter isn't exactly going out on a limb here--if the Cardinals aren't feeling desperate, they should be--but wow. All signs... that's, like, all of them. Or is it?

The Bulger Problem

The other name we keep hearing in Arizona, and the other allegedly mentioned by Fitzgerald, is former Rams QB Marc Bulger. Bulger finally washed out in '09 after years of injuries and playing on crappy teams. He wound up a backup to Joe Flacco in Baltimore last season, his best days seemingly behind him.

Nonetheless, various reports are putting Bulger in Cardinal red via a verbal agreement, but that doesn't necessarily preclude them from the Kolb discussion.

At this point, the idea anybody would be relying on a 34 year old quarterback whose last and arguably only quality season was back in 2006 sounds absurd. Perhaps it's a sign of how hard up some teams are for passers, or maybe they are hoping Bulger can come in and be Kolb's backup next. It could be an emergency option too, in case they are unable to land Kolb for one reason or another. Whatever the case, Bulger as the planned starting quarterback on day one anywhere is more than a little hard to swallow.

Kolb for Peterson?

If this site had a Frequently Asked Questions section, "Why do the comments show up in reverse order?" would be followed by, "Will the Eagles exchange Kolb for Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson, the fifth overall pick in this year's draft?" The theory is Arizona management selected the top incoming cornerback prospect with a wink toward Philly's front office.

First off, let's be clear that I don't think this would be a good swap for the Cardinals, and seriously doubt they really had that in mind. Kolb is clearly worth a first round pick, but fifth overall? That's steep, especially when it winds up being arguably the best prospect in the entire process. Essentially, it's one player who might be a franchise quarterback for one who might be a future Hall of Famer?

Whether you think you can justify that or not, it may not even be possible. Under the rules in the expired collective bargaining agreement, each team is allowed a "rookie salary pool," or cap, based on where their selections were made. Basically, if those rules were to remain in place after all this lockout drama ends, the Eagles won't have a high enough ceiling to get Peterson signed. Sam from Igglez Blitz goes into greater detail on the topic.

The other possibility we hear is the Cards sign Peterson, then complete the transaction with Philly. Really, you think Joe Banner or any team president would let another team negotiate with a player for them? I guess (and I'm not clear on whether that would comply with the rule either), but it might be time to admit Arizona was simply taking the best player on the board, and this particular trade would be a stretch to say the least.

Seattle still in the Cards, and all the rest

Notice Schefter did leave for the possibility Kolb could still wind up elsewhere, and did specify in the NFC West. Since San Francisco snagged their quarterback in the second round, and the Rams are married to Sam Bradford, that pretty much leaves the Seahawks.

Seattle is definitely a sensible landing spot for Kolb, as they have been trying to transition away from Matt Hasselbeck. Some people might point out they were burned swapping seconds and sending a third rounder to San Diego for Charlie Whitehurst last year, and that may very well be the case, but it wasn't necessarily a large enough investment to block a move for another quarterback.

In all honesty though, they may not be the only club remaining that can get involved. Most notably, the Dolphins did not replace Chad Henne as many thought they would. However, they have been tied to Cincinnati QB Carson Palmer. The Bills are weak under center, but may not be the most likely players due to the fact they are a perpetually rebuilding, small market franchise. And again, there are the Redskins, but I'm not sure the Birds would be as quick to send a young quarterback to the division rival.

So looking at the list of potential suitors, Arizona and Seattle still appear to be the most likely. It could also be some of the other teams haven't jumped into the fray simply because they are waiting for the lockout to end.

Whatever is really going on behind the scenes, we are hearing one team already has a 2012 first rounder on the table for Kolb. Andy Reid is naturally denying, but smoke equals fire. The Cardinals need a quarterback in the worst possible way, and the Eagles need to part with a quarterback in the worst possible way. It may be only a matter of time now.

Sixers-Clippers 5 things: Big men, minus Joel Embiid, in the spotlight

Sixers-Clippers 5 things: Big men, minus Joel Embiid, in the spotlight

The Sixers (15-27) on Tuesday night open their latest back-to-back set against the LA Clippers (30-16) at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m./CSN, CSNPhilly.com and streaming live on the NBC Sports app).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Missing in action
The Sixers are used to Joel Embiid missing at least one game of back-to-back sets. However, they will have to forge ahead without him in both contests coming up on consecutive days.

Embiid will miss the Sixers' games on Tuesday and Wednesday after suffering a left knee contusion in the team's 93-92 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday. The matchups will mark three straight absences for the Eastern Conference Player of the Week after he was sidelined for the Sixers' blowout loss in Atlanta to the Hawks on Saturday night.

The Sixers haven't exactly been able to survive without Embiid's production this season. They are 2-10 minus the Rookie of the Year frontrunner and have allowed 106.5 points in those games.

Brett Brown challenged his team to perform better — particularly on defense — during this upcoming stint without Embiid.

“It’s still about our defense, it’s still about running, it’s still about sharing the ball,” Brown said after practice Monday. “I think you go with Jahlil (Okafor) and Nerlens (Noel) and challenge them in relation to rim protection and what Joel provides us. The group around them also has got to perform at a higher level when you don’t have Joel. I think that second group that we have been playing, led by Nerlens, really can take on a far greater defensive identity than it has recently, and Nerlens will be the captain of that.”

2. The Blake Show is back
While the Sixers will be without their star big man in Tuesday's tilt, the Clippers are expected to get one of theirs back in their lineup.

Blake Griffin is likely to return to action against the Sixers after missing 18 games following right knee surgery.

Griffin was averaging 21.2 points and 8.8 rebounds this season as the Clippers jumped out to a 20-6 record. Griffin underwent an arthroscopic procedure to remove loose bodies from the knee on Dec. 19, and the Clips have recorded just a 10-8 mark since.

With fellow superstar Chris Paul now sidelined with an injured thumb, getting the five-time All-Star Griffin back should be a major boost for the Clippers.

3. Take care
The Clippers may not be the force they once were in the open court (15th in the NBA with 12.7 fastbreak points per game this season), but that doesn't mean they still can't revert to their Lob City ways in the blink of an eye.

That could be the case on Tuesday if the Sixers continue to turn the ball over at such an alarming rate.

The Sixers, who are last in the league with 17.1 turnovers per game, have somehow been even worse during this recent string of success. They have committed 19.4 turnovers a night over the last five games and 17.8 during the last 10 contests.

The Sixers have been able to survive thanks to their active defense creating opportunities on offense and some clutch shooting. However, with Embiid sidelined and facing a Clippers team that ranks in the top five in field-goal and three-point percentage, those miscues may come back to haunt the Sixers.

4. Injuries
Okafor (knee) is probable. Embiid (knee), Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

Griffin (knee) is probable. Paul (thumb) and Brice Johnson (back) are out for the Clippers.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost nine straight games to the Clippers.

• Ersan Ilyasova is averaging 17.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game during January.

• DeAndre Jordan has averaged a double-double of 11.3 points and 12.8 rebounds against the Sixers during his career.

Scouting reports: Villanova-Marquette and St. Joe's-St. Bonaventure

Scouting reports: Villanova-Marquette and St. Joe's-St. Bonaventure

Two City 6 schools are in action Tuesday night. Let’s take a closer look at the matchups.

No. 1 Villanova (19-1, 7-1 Big East) at Marquette (13-6, 4-3 Big East) 
8 p.m. at BMO Harris Bradley Center on FOX Sports 1

Last time out
Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins combined for 44 points, as No. 1 Villanova won its fifth straight game Saturday afternoon, dispatching Providence, 78-68, at the Wells Fargo Center in a game that four Wildcats scored 10 or more points, three or more assists and three or more rebounds. After the game, Villanova head coach Jay Wright opened up about the Wildcats’ “constant challenge” of a national championship hangover and how ‘Nova has overcome it (see story).

Marquette is coming off a 102-94 upset win Saturday over No. 7 Creighton in the second game of a difficult three-game stretch against top-25 teams. Last Monday, the Golden Eagles fell, 88-80, to No. 13 Butler, and tonight, they tip off against the top team in the nation.

Scouting report
While Wright admitted the Wildcats are fighting through a championship hangover, it might not seem that way if you take a look at the scores during their current five-game winning streak.

Villanova won by an average of 18 points during the streak, including a 25-point win over then-No. 15 Xavier and a 30-point win over Seton Hall. Jenkins has scored over 15 points and shot 50 percent or better from three in four out of the five games.

Marquette started off the year 10-3, but has seen a drop-off since. Entering tonight, the Golden Eagles have lost three of their last six games, including one to Villanova on Jan. 7.

The Golden Eagles rank second in the Big East in points per game at 84.6, and lead the conference in three-point percentage at 41. They have five players averaging double digits, with Jajuan Johnson leading the way with 13 points per game and Markus Howard at 12.8 ppg.

What it means
With a victory, Villanova would extend its win streak before its matchup with No. 12 Virginia on Sunday afternoon.

A win for Marquette would help its résumé for the NCAA Tournament. It currently has an RPI ranking of 53, and a victory over ‘Nova would give its profile a significant boost.

History
This will be the second of two meetings between the two schools this season, as Villanova beat Marquette back on Jan. 7 in its first game after its first loss of the season — a 66-58 defeat to then-No. 18 Butler on Jan. 4. The Wildcats shot a season-best 60 percent from three against Marquette in the victory, with Jenkins shooting 6 of 9 from downtown and scoring a game-high 23 points.

What’s next
Villanova takes on No. 12 Virginia at 1 p.m. Sunday on FOX. 

Marquette will face Providence at home Saturday.

St. Joe's (9-9, 2-4 A-10) at St. Bonaventure (12-6, 4-2 A-10)
7 p.m. at the Reilly Center on TCN

Scouting report
The Hawks have lost four of their last six games entering tonight, and with Shavar Newkirk out for the season with a torn ACL, Lamarr Kimble and James Demery have become St. Joe’s primary scorers, averaging 14.7 and 14.9 points, respectively.

Charlie Brown is coming off a stretch that earned him A-10 Rookie of the Week honors for the second time this season. The freshman is averaging 15 points and 7.5 rebounds over his previous two games, and scored a career-high 19 points against Penn last Saturday. 

But, the Hawks will have their hands full with St. Bonaventure's backcourt. For the Bonnies, Jaylen Adams averages 21.8 points, while Matt Mobley averages 19.9 points. St. Bonaventure also leads the A-10 in scoring, averaging 81.6 points.

History
The Hawks fell to St. Bonaventure, 98-90, last season at the Reilly Center. St. Joe’s had five players in double figures but it wasn’t enough, as Marcus Posley put up a game-high 47 points. 

But, the Hawks will be without four of those five players that put up double figures last March. DeAndre’ Bembry declared for the NBA draft, Isaiah Miles and Aaron Brown both graduated and Newkirk tore his ACL in December. The Hawks will need to count on Kimble, the one player the Hawks have who scored double figures against St. Bonaventure last season.

What’s next
St. Joe’s will take on La Salle in a Big 5 matchup at Hagan Arena on Saturday.

St. Bonaventure plays Rhode Island Saturday afternoon.