Quotable: Todd Bowles Says He Was 'Shocked,' And That Staff Will Miss Castillo

Quotable: Todd Bowles Says He Was 'Shocked,' And That Staff Will Miss Castillo

If a Jason Hanson field foal attempt was just a little more off line, there's a good chance we wouldn't have seen Todd Bowles in front of the media yesterday afternoon.

But 4-2 seems pretty far from 3-3, Andy Reid's job is on the line, and the defense made, in Nnamdi Asomugha's estimation, a crucial mistake in blitzing Detroit in the fourth quarter.

And so here we are, in spite of every other problem this team has so clearly evidenced it has over the last two seasons.

Might any of the above explain why Todd Bowles was shocked when he was informed that Eagles had fired Juan Castillo Tuesday morning?

“I was shocked,” he said. “In this game, you kind of see things
every year that kind of make you surprised until you stop being
surprised. It’s the profession you choose. You win, you’re great. You
lose, you stink. That’s our business, and you’ve got to understand that
going in. “Me and Juan had a great relationship.
He’s a great coach, he works hard. We had a great relationship as a
staff, and that’s going to be sorely missed for us.”

Taking nothing away from Bowles comments — I think it's possible he really was shocked — it seems doubtful many of the fans or writers were all that surprised. This specific move — removing Castillo for Bowles — has been repeatedly mentioned as a possibility dating all the way back to when Bowles was hired last winter.

But if we are to accept Bowles comments, wouldn't that seem to indicate that he didn't think things were going so badly for the defense?

Whatever Bowles' level of surprise, Castillo was fired yesterday, in part, because he was the easiest person to axe. And he was the easiest person to axe because the head coach put him a position to fail, set him up for a barrage of criticism which Juan received, and then fired him even when the long-time offensive line coach performed better than many would have assumed.

When Todd Bowles gets Mike Vick to quit turning the ball over, then, and only then, will I be shocked.

Record-breaking crowds flood the Parkway for NFL Draft Experience in Philly

Record-breaking crowds flood the Parkway for NFL Draft Experience in Philly

Who needs to the Pope when you have Ginger Jesus?

The NFL Draft Experience joined a long list of wildly popular events in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and all along the Ben Franklin Parkway.

The NFL announced today that nearly 100,000 fans enjoyed the experience, the most-ever for a draft-related event, on day 1 of the draft alone.

Fans flooded into the Experience with people from all across the country in town to support their respective teams. Eagles fans clearly dominated the crowd, however, as you couldn't go a few minutes without hearing an E-A-G-L-E-S chant. 

ESPN also showed some love all night long. SportsCenter's Scott Van Pelt called the story of the night in Philadelphia the city of Philly itself. Adam Schefter called it the "wildest, most raucous crowd in draft history." Jon Gruden called Philly "one of the greatest football towns on the planet."

Aside from not being totally in love with their first pick Derek Barnett upon first blush, Philly fans showed off wonderfully. Even the booing of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell came off as cute.

The Draft Experience is open again on Friday from noon until 11:00 pm and on Saturday from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. It's free for all fans.

Try the games, avoid the cheesesteaks. And bring some sunscreen (ugh).

By the numbers: Jeremy Hellickson legitimately among NL's best the last year

By the numbers: Jeremy Hellickson legitimately among NL's best the last year

Unless you're a die-hard Phillies fan, you might not grasp just how good Jeremy Hellickson has been since the start of 2016.

Hellickson, who allowed one run in six innings Thursday to improve to 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA this season, hasn't just been solid — he's legitimately been one of the best pitchers in the National League.

Some stats to back it up:

• Hellickson has a 1.11 WHIP the last two seasons. That's a better mark than Noah Syndergaard, Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels, David Price, Dallas Keuchel, Jose Quintana and Chris Archer have.

• Over the last calendar year, Hellickson's 3.29 ERA ranks ninth-best in the NL. Over that span he has a lower ERA than some really good pitchers like Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, Carlos Martinez, Hamels, Quintana and Rick Porcello. It's almost identical to Chris Sale's 3.26 ERA over that span.

• Hellickson over the last calendar year has walked 2.03 batters per nine innings. That's fifth-best in the NL behind only Mike Leake, Bartolo Colon, Madison Bumgarner and Syndergaard. (Jerad Eickhoff is a spot below Hellickson at 2.05 and then comes Max Scherzer at 2.08).

• How has Hellickson been so effective with so low a strikeout rate? He's thrown exactly 250 pitches since 2016 on the low-outside corner and low-inside corner. That's fifth-most in the majors, behind only Jon Lester, Zach Davies, Keuchel and Kyle Hendricks. Paint.

This stat refers to zones 17 and 19 in the image below.

Of course, Hellickson has done this with an extremely low strikeout rate. He's never been a big strikeout guy, but he did say Thursday he's been a bit surprised to have this much success in 2017 with his lowest career K rate. 

Hellickson has a very low batting average on balls in play which will regress closer to his career average, but it's not as if luck is the sole factor here. As mentioned above, he's hit spots as well as almost anyone in the majors. 

And the changeup, his elite pitch, gets some swings and misses but more often results in weak contact and quick outs. The worm will turn at some point, but Hellickson shouldn't be expected to fall off a cliff and revert back into a pitcher with a high-4.00s ERA.

The Phillies did well with this acquisition two offseasons ago and may have been fortunate things with Hellickson worked out the way they did. He has even more trade value now than he did a year ago.