Roseman: Lack of chemistry decimated Eagles

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Roseman: Lack of chemistry decimated Eagles

Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman heard their players speak. They heard every word.

They heard them talk about a lack of chemistry. They heard them talk about their teammates quitting. They heard them talk about not fighting back when things started to go bad.

They heard LeSean McCoy say, A lack of heart.

They heard Michael Vick say, Guys have to understand, you cant do it your way.

They heard it all, and they promise they wont let it happen again.

We know youre going to go through adversity during a football season, and the character of your team is determined during that period of adversity, Roseman said Monday. And when you come out of it 1-11, you have to really figure out who the leaders on this team are and who you are.

The Eagles finished one of the worst seasons in franchise history 4-12 after a 3-1 start.

This is the first time since 1963 the Eagles won only one game after Week 4, and Roseman said the lack of chemistry and leadership in the locker room was a big reason the team was unable to fight back when faced with adversity.

If we had that kind of positive chemistry and that kind of leadership all around, I dont think theres any way we would have been 1-11 the last 12 games, he said.

Lurie said the lack of chemistry in the locker room was the result of the Eagles starting to do things differently, building through free agency instead of the draft.

Part of the reason for that was simply because of years of poor drafting following the 2004 Super Bowl run. But Lurie said it was also a conscious decision to build more around free agents to try to take that final step to a Super Bowl after five NFC Championship game appearances in an eight-year span.

I think that in the last couple years weve done things that have not been as consistent, said Roseman, who became GM in 2010 and had his duties expanded last year. Theyve been more scattered in terms of decision making. You notice it with any organization that has had a lot of success that you will start to reach, thinking, Thats the thing thats going to get us over the top, thats the player, thats the method, thats the mechanism, thats the coach, thats the thing that is going to put us over the top.

So I think we lost some of the exact nature of the method that weve all shared that created the success, which was discipline, strategic thinking, and dont do necessarily what is popular but do whats right. Its kind of a human thing and I take some responsibility for that because I was right out in the forefront of, Lets do anything we can to try to win a Super Bowl for the city and our fans.

At times you probably had to be a little more self disciplined and say, Doing that and injecting that into the locker room, affecting the chemistry of the team maybe in some way, thats not the best thing to do.

Roseman said big-money free agents generally arent as invested in being Philadelphia Eagles as players whove grown up here and developed a kinship with the franchise, the fans and the city.

I use the analogy of people who are born and bred with us and drafted by us as opposed to people who come from different cultures and are trying to fit in, Roseman said.

Weve got to get back to having a core group of guys that are Eagles. That bleed green, that are passionate about this city, that are passionate about playing here and really genuinely care.

When you bring in players from other places, you think that maybe theyre good fits, but you dont know until theyre here, and it affects the chemistry.

The Eagles have certainly found tremendous leaders through free agency or via trades Troy Vincent, Jon Runyan and Hugh Douglas come to mind. But the heart of the great Eagles teams were draft picks like Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Jeremiah Trotter, Brian Westbrook, Tra Thomas and Duce Staley.

Guys who were Eagles for life. Most of them seemed to hurt more this year long after they retired than the guys in the locker room.

Somewhere along the way, this franchise lost its way building a roster and thats why theyre 33-31 over the past four seasons, and thats why Andy Reid is no longer here.

I think the motives were right, because there was this hunger, this ache, with people who had been here a long time, to win a world championship and to win it now and not deal with another championship game loss or another season where we didnt bring home that trophy, Roseman said.

But when you get in those moments and feel like youre one player away or you just have to go pick this one position or fill this one need, youre getting away from the essence of what the personnel process is, the scouting process is, and we got away from that.

I think we got back to it this year. We acquired one veteran in DeMeco Ryans, who we think is a good player and a good leader for our football team moving forward. The draft we took the best available players, I think we got some good players in this draft, and were going to continue to do it this way.

Youve got to do it the right way. Theres no short cut for doing things the right way, and you learn these lessons. Weve learned some very hard and true lessons.

E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com

Another struggling pitcher gets well against the Phillies' feeble hitters

Another struggling pitcher gets well against the Phillies' feeble hitters

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MIAMI -- For struggling pitchers, facing the Phillies has become like a pilgrimage to Lourdes.
 
Another rival pitcher searching for a cure got it Monday night when the Phillies suffered their 23rd loss in the last 29 games. This time it was Miami Marlins right-hander Edinson Volquez. He pitched six shutout innings and allowed just three hits in leading his club to a 4-1 win over the Phillies, who fell to 6-20 in May (see Instant Replay).

Volquez had gone 16 starts between wins.
 
"Every loss stings, I don’t care who's pitching," manager Pete Mackanin said. "We're just in a rut. We've got to battle our way out of it. We have to show up tomorrow and get after it. We've got to get more than three or four hits in the game."
 
The Phillies had just four hits in the game. It was the fifth time in the last nine games that they've had four or fewer hits. Only one of the hits was for extra bases and one of the singles was an infield hit.
 
"Once again, we need more offense," Mackanin said.
 
Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson completed a difficult month of May by allowing six hits, including a two-run homer, and four runs over six innings.
 
Hellickson surrendered a two-run homer to Derek Dietrich with two outs in the sixth and that was basically the ball game. Dietrich hit a high changeup. Back in April, that pitch would have been at the knees. But Hellickson has misplaced the pitch command that he needs to succeed.
 
Hellickson went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts in April. In May, however, he went 1-3 with a 7.04 ERA in six starts. He was tagged for 35 hits, including nine homers, in 30 2/3 innings.
 
"Command in general," said Hellickson, describing his problem this month. "The biggest thing is not getting strike one, falling behind too much. I'm not getting the quick easy outs I was getting early in the season. I'm trying to get ahead, just missing."
 
Volquez signed a two-year, $22 million deal with the Marlins over the winter, but it wasn't until this game that he delivered his first win. He entered the game 0-7 with a 4.82 ERA in nine starts.
 
The win was Volquez's first since Aug. 25, 2016, when he was a member of the Kansas City Royals.

Volquez isn't the first struggling pitcher to shine against the Phils recently. Eight days earlier, Pittsburgh's Chad Kuhl took a 6.69 ERA into a start against the Phils and pitched five shutout innings. In the series against Colorado, the Phillies were dominated by a pair of rookies. In the only game they won (in a late rally), they were held to one run over six innings by Tyler Anderson, who had entered that game with an ERA of 6.00. On Friday night, Cincinnati Reds right-hander Tim Adleman pitched eight shutout innings against the Phils and gave up just one hit in the best start of his life. He had come into that game with an ERA of 6.19.
 
So Volquez had to be heartened when he saw the Phillies on the schedule.
 
They are the get-well team for pitchers in need of a pick-me-up.
 
It's actually kind of sad.
 
With Odubel Herrera locked in the throes of the worst slump of his life and on the bench and Maikel Franco mired in a 2 for 21 slump and hitting .209, Mackanin is trying to push things a little. He gave Aaron Altherr the green light to steal with one out and runners on the corners in a one-run game in the sixth inning. Altherr was out at second on a close play and Tommy Joseph struck out to leave the runner at third.
 
The Marlins salted the game away in the bottom of the inning on Dietrich's homer.
 
"With our offense, I have to take chances," Mackanin said. "I can't sit around and wait for three hits in a row. We haven't been doing that."
 
The Phils have the worst record in the majors at 17-32.
 
They have lost eight of their last 10 and scored just 15 runs in the losses.
 
"It sucks," catcher Cameron Rupp said. "There's really no other way to put it. It's frustrating. But the only people that are going to help us are ourselves. Nobody's going to go out there and play for us, swing the bats, pitch, play defense. That's on us and we have to do a better job all around.
 
"We all want to be successful and get the job done. We just haven't been hitting the ball. There's no other way to put it. But the good thing about baseball is we play every day so we turn the page and come back tomorrow and try to get it done."

Stanley Cup Final: Penguins come alive late in third to steal Game 1 vs. Predators

Stanley Cup Final: Penguins come alive late in third to steal Game 1 vs. Predators

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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins rarely tested the hottest goaltender in the playoffs in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against Nashville.

They beat Pekka Rinne anyway.

Rookie Jake Guentzel fired the puck past Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a back-and-forth 5-3 victory on Monday night.

Guentzel snapped an eight-game goalless drought to help the defending champions escape after blowing a three-goal lead.

Nick Bonino scored twice for the Penguins. Conor Sheary scored his first of the playoffs and Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth. The Penguins won despite putting just 12 shots on goal. Matt Murray finished with 23 saves for the Penguins, who used the first coach's challenge in Final history to wipe out an early Nashville goal and held on despite going an astonishing 37 minutes at one point without a shot.

"I think at the end of the day we're up 1-0," Bonino said. "We had a good first, we had a terrible second and we were terrible in the third. I don't think it's Xs and Os. We've got to work harder, compete a little harder, but we got some timely goals."

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Predators. Rinne stopped just seven shots.

The Penguins had all of three days to get ready for the final following a draining slog through the Eastern Conference that included a pair of Game 7 victories, the second a double-overtime thriller against Ottawa last Thursday.

Pittsburgh downplayed the notion it was fatigued, figuring adrenaline and a shot at making history would make up for any lack of jump while playing their 108th game in the last calendar year.

Maybe, but the Penguins looked a step behind at the outset. The Predators, who crashed the NHL's biggest stage for the first time behind Rinne and a group of talented defenseman, were hardly intimidated by the stakes, the crowd or the defending champions, trying to become the first repeat winner since Detroit in 1998.

All the guys from "Smashville" have to show for it is their first deficit of the playoffs on a night a fan threw a catfish onto the ice to try and give the Predators a taste of home.

The Penguins, who led the league in scoring, stressed before Game 1 that the best way to keep the Predators at bay was by taking the puck and spending copious amounts of time around Rinne. It didn't happen, mostly because Nashville's forecheck pinned the Penguins in their own end. Clearing attempts were knocked down or outright swiped, tilting the ice heavily in front of Murray.

Yet Pittsburgh managed to build a quick 3-0 lead anyway thanks to a fortunate bounce and some quick thinking by Penguins video coordinator Andy Saucier. Part of his job title is to alert coach Mike Sullivan when to challenge a call. The moment came 12:47 into the first when P.K. Subban sent a slap shot by Murray that appeared to give the Predators the lead.

Sullivan used his coach's challenge, arguing Nashville forward Filip Forsberg was offside. A lengthy review indicated Forsberg's right skate was in the air as he brought the puck into a zone, a no-no.

"The impact of that moment and then the chain of events that happened after that with the penalty kills I think changed the course of the game," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said.

The decision gave the Penguins all the wiggle room they needed to take charge. Malkin scored on a 5-on-3 15:32 into the first, Sheary made it 2-0 just 65 seconds later and when Bonino's innocent centering pass smacked off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm's left knee and by Rinne just 17 seconds before the end of the period, Pittsburgh was in full command.

It looked like a repeat of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa when the Penguins poured in four goals in the first period of a 7-0 rout.

Nashville, unlike the Senators, didn't bail. Instead, they rallied and took over the game.

Ellis scored the first goal by a Predator in a Stanley Cup Final 8:21 into the second and Nashville kept Rinne downright bored at the other end. Pittsburgh didn't manage a shot on net in the second period, the first time it's happened in a playoff game in franchise history -- and the first such period by any team in a Final game since the NHL began tracking shots on goal in 1958.

Nashville kept coming. Sissons beat Murray 10:06 into the third and Gaudreau tied it just after a fruitless Pittsburgh power play.

No matter. The Penguins have become chameleons under Sullivan. They can win with both firepower and precision.

Guentzel slipped one by Rinne with 3:17 to go in regulation and Bonino added an empty netter to give Pittsburgh early control of the series.

"We didn't do a great job of (shooting), but we made them count," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "But it was a good finish there to get that one from Jake."