Sixers Lose, Richardson Out, But Moultrie Alive

Sixers Lose, Richardson Out, But Moultrie Alive

Ugly, ugly game. Few games against the ground-and-pound Indiana Pacers
are pretty, but this one was especially hideous, with the Pacers closing
off all driving lanes and playing the Sixers physical inside, forcing a
whole lotta jump shots, which the Sixers obliged by not hitting.
Remember how I said Jrue and Evan needed to have great games for the
Sixers to win? Yeah, didn't happen: Evan's jumper was off all night, and
he scored just two points with four turnovers, one of his worst games
of hte season. Jrue was better but not much, shooting an astounding 7-22
with only three assists on the night. A game that was close at half got
less so when the Pacers started hitting jumpers and the Sixers
continued clanking, and the Sixers lost their first in four games,
88-69.

Sadly, the loss on the court was not the Sixers' biggest
for the night. It was reported tonight that Jason Richardson, the team's
starting two-guard for most of the year and the only productive return
thusfar from the Andrew Bynum trade, would miss the rest of the season
with a cartliage tear in his kneecap. The news is not terribly
surprising, as J-Rich had missed the last few weeks with ambiguous knee
issues, and Coach Collins basically told reporters not to expect him
back anytime soon. Nick Young has played well as starting shooting guard
in Jason's absence, but he struggled badly tonight, scoring just 7 on
3-8 shooting.

With Thaddeus Young out for most of the remainder
of February, and now J-Rich out for the season, and the Sixers still
well short of the eighth seed in the East, it's probably as good a time
as any to wonder if it's time to just straight-up pull the plug on this
season. Truth told, the Sixers might not have much of a choice—with a
thin rotation and a schedule about to get a lot tougher, it might be too
late to make a playoff push once Thad (and lord willing, the
Funny-Looking Kid With the Big Hair) returns anyway. Luckily, it seems
like the team at least realizes that it's far away enough from competing
not to make a panic trade, but if
there are other teams out there looking for spare parts, they should be
informed that the Sixers are sellers this year, not buyers.

There
was one positive to take from this game—the emergence of rookie Arnett
Moultrie. Obviously, Moultrie hasn't done much for the Sixers thusfar
this year, but you could argue that he hasn't been given a chance
to—Collins has never played him more than spot minutes, and rarely at
consequential points of the game. But without Thad and his 40 rotation
minutes tonight, Collins was finally forced to use Moutlrie, and the
first-year power forward rewarded his coach with 12 points, tripling (!)
his previous career-high, and grabbing three rebounds and a couple
steals in the process.

It's clear to see where Moultrie can be
use of the Sixers, especially with Thad out—he gives them some
all-too-rare athleticism in the frontcourt, also showing a previously
unseen knack for being in the right place with the right time, moving
off the ball and allowing Evan Turner to find him for some easy deuces.
Like Marreese Speights, Moultrie appears to have a nice touch with the
ball and hops to spare, but still occasionally looks lost on set plays
and on defense, and has a tendency to be outworked by physical
frontcourt players on the boards. Still, he gave the Sixers energy and
some much-needed scoring tonight, and hopefully we'll get to see him do a
lot more of that in the weeks to come.

Next for the Sixers: A
very winnable game against the Bobcats on Friday. It's officially just
killing time until FLKWTBH comes back now, but that doesn't mean there's
not learning to be done.

Josh Norman goes WWE on division, ready for Alshon Jeffery

Josh Norman goes WWE on division, ready for Alshon Jeffery

Josh Norman is going all WWE on the NFC East. 

Washington's outspoken cornerback is featured in a lengthy Q&A with Bleacher Report and he's, well, outspoken. 

He starts in the story by saying crazy things like this: "I feel like King Leonidas leading an army into battle, leading troops into defending your territory."

Yeah, off to a good start. 

He then goes after his nemesis Odell Beckham Jr. hard, calls Dez Bryant "just a guy" and even has some thoughts on new Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery. 

Norman praised receivers Julio Jones and Antonio Brown, saying there aren't those types of challenging players in the NFC East. He was asked if there was any player he has circled on his schedule. 

Jeffery was the one that came to mind. 

"Alshon [Jeffery] is going to be with us this year," Norman told Bleacher Report. "He's a big guy. He uses his body. And I enjoy going against big guys because they think they can get physical with me. They think that. That's quite the contrary."

Norman will get his shot against Jeffery in the opener, when the Eagles travel to Washington on Sept. 10. 

Comparatively, Jeffery got off easy. Norman was much less complimentary when speaking about Beckham, with whom he has an infamous history, and Bryant, the Cowboys' top receiver. 

On Bryant: "That's a guy. Just a guy. Dez was Dez in 2012, '13, '14. Maybe '14. Now? He's a guy."

Norman might have a little point with Bryant, who has failed to go over 800 yards in either of his last two seasons. In 2016, he caught 50 passes for 796 yards and eight touchdowns. From 2012-14, Dez was over 12,000 yards with at least 12 touchdowns in each of the three seasons. 

He even called Bryant a "fake tough guy" for his behavior on the field.  

But even Bryant got off easy. 

There's no secret about the way Norman feels toward Beckham. And Norman didn't hold anything back. Based on his comments, the WWE speak may turn into WWE-type action during the 2017 season. 

Here's a part of the Q&A about ODB: 

You get Beckham twice a year now.

Yeah, and that game gets so hyped up by the time we play them, it won't even be Giants vs. Washington—it'll be me and him. You know what I'm saying? It's like when it becomes bigger than the game. ... Because now you have us on Thanksgiving Night. C'mon, man!

So when you think of Odell, what is his game?

He tries to be a tough guy. He tries to put on this persona which he's not. Because he's always going to have his head on a swivel. Always. Always when we play each other. He's scary like that. He does things that he normally wouldn't do because of all the pressure and added hype that he has to put on his whole persona. He's not this guy. If you go back and watch the games in which we play compared to the games we don't play each other, he's a totally different guy.

How so?

When people get physical, tough, like the Minnesota game, he acts out. He's a kid. He's a big kid, man.

Like messing around with a kicker's net.

When you really, really want to see what a person's really like, you get in their face, you smell what they ate and you take their soul from them. How do you do that? You put your fist right into their chest and you see what they're made out of.

And you did exactly that with him. What did you see in Beckham?

You see a person who's actually not what they're made out to be. Because they come back at you. And that's not him. They come back at you in a way like, "He's not going to punk me! He's not going to sissy me out!" All right! But then when you go and you do things you're not accustomed to doing, that's pretty much what it is.

This is going to be fun. 

Throughout the whole thing, Norman speaks like a classing wrestling heel. If nothing else, the trash talk is going to make the NFC East more fun. 

ESPN hires Chip Kelly as college football studio analyst

ESPN hires Chip Kelly as college football studio analyst

Former Oregon coach Chip Kelly is joining ESPN as a studio analyst next season.

ESPN announced Friday it has signed Kelly to a multiyear deal.

Kelly will primarily be part of Saturday pregame, halftime and wrap-up shows on ESPN2. He'll also provide NFL analysis on Sundays during SportsCenter.

The 53-year-old Kelly spent the last four seasons in the NFL, coaching the Philadelphia for three years and San Francisco for one. Kelly was fired by the 49ers after going 2-14 last season. He was 26-21 with a playoff appearance for the Eagles.

Before jumping to the NFL, Kelly spent four seasons as Oregon head coach and went 46-7. In 2010, Kelly led the Ducks to the BCS title game and was The Associated Press coach of the year.

"I spoke with a lot of people this offseason about different situations for me -- in coaching and TV," Kelly said in a statement. "I had various opportunities in both. In the end, I have had a relationship with ESPN for many years from when I was coaching and after speaking with them, I decided it was the best step for me to take."

Kelly figures to be in demand at the college level when head coaching jobs begin opening next season. Spending a season or two doing television has been a common path for coaches between jobs. Urban Meyer spent a season at ESPN between resigning from Florida and landing at Ohio State. So did Rich Rodriguez after being fired by Michigan and before being hired by Arizona.

"I have been a coach for nearly the last 30 years," Kelly said. "Working in television will allow me to see the game from a different perspective, but I didn't take the job with the intention it will lead to something specific. I love the game of football and working with good, smart people; ESPN presents an opportunity to combine those two things."

Kelly will fill an opening left by Butch Davis, who became head coach at Florida International.

Kelly was considered one of the most innovative coaches in college football. His up-tempo spread offenses dominated defenses and were mimicked by teams all over the country.

"As a coach, he saw the game from a unique perspective, never afraid to take an unconventional approach," said Lee Fitting, ESPN senior coordinating producer. "We want him to bring that mentality to our college football coverage each week, offering fans a varying viewpoint outside of the conventional thought process."