Nick Foles Era, Eagles Youth Movement Could Be Temporary

Nick Foles Era, Eagles Youth Movement Could Be Temporary

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The other day, friend of the Level John Gonzalez wrote a
piece on Nick Foles entitled, “How will Foles perform as permanent starter?

Permanent? I realize that wasn’t in the sense that Foles
will still be quarterbacking the Eagles for the remainder of the team’s
existence, but there is nothing “permanent” about the final four games of the
season, either – not for Bryce Brown, Fletcher Cox, or any other rookie, not
for anybody on the current roster for that matter. When Andy Reid is inevitably
replaced this January, there is going to be a culture change in Philadelphia,
and that means no one is safe.

(Except Alex Henery. Henery is safe. That dude's a baller, and I don't think anybody is that fanatical about place kickers.)

Is that something of a melodramatic viewpoint to have? Look,
I don’t expect the next head coach to come in and gut the roster just for the
sake of gutting it. Foles will be here next year, as will Brown, Cox, Mychal
Kendricks, Dennis Kelly, etc. They will have opportunities to become the
building blocks of the future like we all hoped they would.

Forgive me though if I don’t get overly excited about
anything I see from these kids over the next four games. With a new head coach
comes new schemes, and one thing about the NFL is not every player is a fit for
every system. Not every head coach has patience with the players he was given
when “his guys” are available.

Foles is hardly what I would call in any type of permanent
situation. He’s auditioning, not necessarily even for the job of starting
quarterback, but for the right to compete for the job in 2013. What are the odds
somebody waltzes in here and declares Foles is the future based on these eight
games, before they’ve had so much as a conversation? Keep in mind this is a
third-round pick, so it’s not an investment on the same level of an Andrew Luck
or Robert Griffin.

The next head coach is probably going to hold a competition.
Foles will participate, as will a veteran most likely, somebody who knows whatever
system is installed – who knows, maybe it’s Michael Vick. Depending on how
things go, there could even be another rookie in the mix. How Foles performs the
rest of the way will probably have a lot to do with the quality of competition
brought in, but unless he is dramatically improved, it’s difficult to see him
being handed the reins.

The same could go for some of these other guys as well. Kelly is the
latest rook to garner praise since he took over at right tackle. Howard
Mudd will be gone at the end of the year though, and his blocking scheme could
go with him. Will Kelly struggle to adjust to a new scheme?

In all likelihood, the Eagles will try to make a coaching
hire that would keep a 4-3 defense in place, because that’s what fits their
current personnel. Should they land on somebody who feels strongly about a 3-4
however, that mean huge role changes for Cox and Kendricks?

Maybe some are versatile enough to make the jump, maybe some
are not. Without knowing who will be coaching the Eagles next season, we can
assume nothing about how this team will be shaped moving forward. No matter how much promise and potential the class of 2012 demonstrates, every one of them has to prove themselves again next year.

The Sixers are the perfect distraction from the Sixers

The Sixers are the perfect distraction from the Sixers

There's your Philadelphia 76ers season in a nutshell, huh? Nerlens Noel gets traded for an all-lemon pack of Starbursts, Ben Simmons' right foot is still apparently stuck in a beartrap, Joel Embiid can't get himself dismissed from the nurse's office, and Jahlil Okafor is forced back into +1 status after everyone else passed on going to the concert with Bryan Colangelo -- and the Ballers still go out and beat one of the best teams in the East in their first game back from the All-Star break. Nearly everything about the Sixers is depressing right now, except for the team themselves. They're cool. 

Kudos to Brett Brown, man. The team is playing with such fluency and energy right now that it can withstand some losses in personnel without the drop-off being particularly dramatic -- at least for the moment. Replacing Embiid and Noel with Okafor and Holmes for as long as we'll have to do it will catch up with us in time, but for now, all you can do is marvel at the pace, cohesion and (with some mildly glaring moments of exception) discipline that Brown has the guys playing at the moment. I doubt there are five coaches in the league having a more impressive season than him right now. 

But the players were pretty good in this one, too. Dario Saric had 20-11-4 in his first start in three weeks, continuing his unlikely Rookie of the Year surge with his third-straight double-double and fourth game of 20-plus in his last six games. The All-Star Break hasn't cooled Robert Covington's hot hand, as the shooter went 5-9 from deep last night and is now 17-31 on threes over his last four games, also posting a 20-10 night with his 25 points and 11 boards. (Also three assists and four steals, whatever.) Richaun Holmes dunked over some people and reminded a handful of fans why they've gotten way too excited about him at various points earlier in the year. Good times were had by all. 

Games like last night's also just remind you how marginal the difference between winning and losing is. As they've been wont to do forever, the Sixers blew their considerable lead to the Wizards late in this one, which would've undoubtedly resulted in a tragic loss in years past. But these days, the leads are a little bigger going into the Sixers' fourth-quarter tailspins, and their defense is just a little tighter on critical possessions, and that's the difference between losing on a Bradley Beal buzzer-beater and hitting just enough free throws to squeak out a mildly secure 120-112 victory. 

Anyway, after an impossibly discouraging week of Sixers happenings, it turns out some actual Sixers basketball is just what we needed. Hopefully their level of play will continue to get better as news of their off-court developments invariably keeps getting worse .

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores career-high 43 points in Raptors' win

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores career-high 43 points in Raptors' win

TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan scored a career-high 43 points and the Toronto Raptors rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics 107-97 on Friday night.

DeRozan shot 15 of 28 from the floor as he surpassed his 42-point effort against the Houston Rockets on March 30, 2015, helping the Raptors overcome the absence of fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry. Lowry sat out with a right wrist injury.

Serge Ibaka, acquired by trade from the Orlando Magic last week, scored 15 points in his debut, while fellow newcomer P.J. Tucker, picked up from the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, had a game-high 10 rebounds and nine points in his first game for his new team.

Isaiah Thomas scored 20 points for Boston, which also got 19 points each from Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart (see full recap).

Westbrook triple-double lifts Thunder over Lakers
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook scored 17 points in his 28th triple-double of the season, and his new teammates fit in seamlessly as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 110-93 on Friday night.

Westbrook also had 18 rebounds and 17 assists for the 65th triple-double of his career.

It was the first game for new Thunder players Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, acquired Thursday in a trade with the Chicago Bulls. Gibson scored 12 points and McDermott added eight, even though they arrived Thursday night and weren't even available for shootaround on Friday.

Alex Abrines and Andre Roberson each set a career high with 19 points, and Steven Adams added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder.

D'Angelo Russell scored 29 for the Lakers (see full recap).

Pacers beat Grizzlies to snap six-game skid
INDIANAPOLIS -- CJ Miles made five 3-pointers and scored 17 points, Paul George had nine points and nine rebounds after remaining with Indiana following the trade deadline, and the Pacers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 102-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.

Monta Ellis finished with 16 points, Myles Turner scored 12, and Lavoy Allen, Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young each added 10 for the Pacers.

The Pacers outscored the Grizzlies 64-42 across the middle two quarters and never relinquished their lead, leading by as many as 27 points in the second half. The Grizzlies finished the game shooting 41 percent from the floor (35 for 84).

Troy Daniels had 13 points for Memphis and Marc Gasol scored 12. Indiana outrebounded Memphis 50-39 and scored 29 points off 17 Grizzlies turnovers (see full recap).