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.

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Chris Kunitz beat Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 28 shots on his 23rd birthday.

The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 to win back-to-back titles. They will host Western Conference champion Nashville in Game 1 on Monday night.

Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa. The Senators rallied twice to tie it, with Dzingel making it 2-2 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Craig Anderson made 39 saves, but couldn't get a handle on Kunitz's shot from just outside the left circle. The Senators are 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history.

The Senators forced a return trip to Pittsburgh -- where they lost 7-0 loss in Game 5 on Sunday -- by leaning heavily on Anderson in a 2-1 Game 6 victory, putting both teams at odds with history.

Ottawa came in 0-for-25 years in winner-take-all games, while the Penguins were 0-7 in Game 7s at home in series in which they also dropped Game 6.

Ottawa coach Guy Boucher told his resilient team to not get caught up in the big picture but instead focus on the small ones, a recipe that carried the Senators throughout a bumpy transition under their first-year head coach to the brink of the franchise's second Cup appearance.

The Penguins, trying to become the first defending champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009, came in confident they would advance if they could replicate their dominant Game 6, when they were undone only by Anderson's brilliance.

Pittsburgh has been nearly unflappable in the face of adversity under Mike Sullivan, going 12-2 in playoff games following a loss over the last two springs. He encouraged his team to "just play," code for fighting through Ottawa's neutral zone-clogging style and the bumping, grabbing and pulling that comes along with it.

A chance to play for their sport's ultimate prize on the line, the sheets of open ice the Penguins found so easily in Games 4-6 closed up. For most of the first 30 minutes, loose pucks hopped over sticks to spoil some scoring opportunities while Anderson and Murray gobbled up the rest.

Kunitz, relegated to the fourth line since returning from injury in the second round, picked up his first postseason goal in a calendar year when he completed a two-on-one with Conor Sheary -- a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 -- by slipping the puck by Anderson 9:55 into the second period.

The momentum lasted all of 20 seconds. Ottawa responded immediately with Stone -- who stretched his left skate to stay onside -- fired a wrist shot that handcuffed Murray.

Pittsburgh kept coming. Schultz, returning after missing four games with an upper-body injury, zipped a shot from the point through Kunitz's screen and into the net with 8:16 left in the third.

Once again, the Penguins could not hold the lead. Dzingel set up at the right post and banged home a rebound off Erik Karlsson's shot that hit the left post and caromed off Murray's back right to Dzingel's stick.

Notes
The home team is 21-20 in overtime Game 7s in NHL playoff history. ... Pittsburgh F Patric Hornqvist skated during warmups, but was held out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Karlsson had 16 assists in the playoffs to set a team record. ... The Penguins are 10-7 in Game 7s. ... It was the fifth one-goal game of the series.

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick experienced a painful rehab start on Thursday night.

Rehabbing with Triple A Lehigh Valley, Kendrick was hit by a pitch twice before being removed after the sixth inning of the IronPigs' 8-4 loss to Indianapolis at Coca-Cola Park.

Both times Kendrick was plunked in the upper left arm, according to Tom Housenick of the Morning Call.

There was no update on if Kendrick was injured or taken out for precautionary reasons. Thursday marked Kendrick's second rehab start as he recovers from an oblique strain that has sidelined him since April 15.

The Phillies' leftfielder started at third base Thursday. At the beginning of his rehab assignment, Kendrick was expected to play four games and see time at third and first base, as well as in left field.

Kendrick made a throwing error at third on Thursday and finished 0 for 1 with a run scored. In his two games, he's 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs in 10 games with the Phillies prior to landing on the DL.

When he returns, he could see time at third base instead of left field if Maikel Franco continues to struggle (see story).