Broken Twigs: Flyers 4th of July Drinking Game and FGSB Mailbag

Broken Twigs: Flyers 4th of July Drinking Game and FGSB Mailbag

Happy American St. Patrick’s Day!

On a day when we celebrate the independence of this fine nation by illegally shooting off rockets, I thought it would be appropriate to honor all of the Americans on the Flyers roster for the 13-14 season. The minor issue preventing me from doing this is that we don’t have any (just cause you're born in Phoenix doesn't mean you're AN ACTIVE AMERICAN).

But as this is a holiday steeped in history and tradition, why don’t we take a look back at some of the most prominent former Flyers that might be having one drink dressed as an American flag too many - just like you! And to honor the most American team in the most American city in the most American way possible, we’ve come up with a Flyers 4th of July Water Drinking Game. So, hit Circle Liquors (& Water), load the cooler with ice, and head off to the 18th street beach to celebrate the rock, eagle, flag and puck.

One drink: All-in-all, the Flyers have had American players come from 23 states. MN is in the lead with 12, MI has had 11, and MA has had 8 and 1 coked up Kevin Stevens zombie.

One drink: Obviously the most well-remembered American to don the Orange & Black is Johnny “.23” Leclair who played 649 games over 10 seasons in The Ill. His 643 points and 333 goals are far and away the most by any American to serve under our Supreme Leader Mister Ed Snider.

One drink: The ‘Merican with the most assists as a Flyer is Mark Howe, who represented the US in both the Olympics and Canada Cup. Howe was so GD American that when the Summit Series came calling in 1974 he lent his services to Canada just so he could get in on the Soviet bashing that was to take place. Note: A cornerstone of being American is hating everything that moshes down on your freedom, and the willingness to do anything, including whoring yourself out to Canada, to ensure continued life, liberty and the pursuit of a reality TV show. (As an aside, 12 Russians have played for the Flyers and none of them have won the Vezina during their tenure in Philadelphia.)

One drink: The only other American to reach the 500 game plateau besides Leclair and Howe is none other than current Flyers Manager General Paul “Homer, Not From the Simpsons” Holmgren. He also has over 1,200 PIM more than any other American Flyer, so even though he’s like 85 I’m pretty sure he could make me dance for him, if that's what he wanted.

Two drinks: This was slightly surprising: Matt Carle is the American with the 4th most games as a Flyer under his Tackla belt. Not so surprising is that JR has the 4th most points. (If you're young and dumb, before there was JVR there was just JR. Look it up.)

One drink: The most American American to ever have Americaed the ice in the winged P was, of course, New Jersey's Jim Dowd.

Four drinks: 4 Americans have tended goal for the Flyers (really). Boosh started 174 games, Bobby Esche had 128, Beezer was in between the pipes for 112, and Garth Snow and 3 goalies worth of equipment started 90 games.

Four drinks: American Flyers with the best names not previously mentioned are Dave Snuggerud, Aris Brimanis (Shaker Heights, OH baby!), Bob Corkum, and Moe Mantha.

Two drinks: First round selections RJ Umberger (VAN) and JVR were both dealt after notching about .50 points per game.

Three drinks: Players that just need to be mentioned because America: Joel Otto, Shjon Podein, and Paul Ranheim.

One drink, One pour: A player that also needs to be mentioned, but deserves a moment to himself  – Trent the Klatt, Breathe-Rite Spokesperson, MN Hockey God

One drink: I bet you didn’t know that Donald Brashear was born in Indiana and despite giving off an extremely French-Canadian vibe played in two World Championships for the USA in the late 90’s.

You win! Congratulations!!

And now your questions...

From Matt: What is the worst place for Briere to end up? Pittsburgh?
You have to look at this from a couple of angles:

1. Which actual jersey produces the most bile, just as a visceral reaction? For some reason seeing that #48 on the back of a Devils jersey, sometimes out on the ice on the with Patrick Elias and Danius Zubrus, makes me want to puke up the Turbo Rocket Popsicle I just ate. I hate the Devils, I hate their colors, I hate that they represent Newark, I hate their everything.

2. Where would it sting the most when he had a Merlot-covered hand in a Flyers loss? While all teams in the new Kyle Calder Memorial Division have an equal opportunity to steal 2 points from the Flyers during the season, for some reason picturing Danny Briere getting a couple GWG for the Rangers, celebrating with Marty Biron in MSG, just makes me want to diarrhea the Turbo Rocket Popsicle I just ate. I hate when the Rangers win, and I hate when an ex-Flyer tastes sweet, sweet revenge at our expense, but most of all I hate when people from New York are happy; and they would be happier than a subway rat finding a dead hobo if Briere was taking us down after we bought him out.

3. Where does he realistically have a chance of winning a Cup that would also kill me a little inside? If he were to join the Penguins the possibility of this happening would haunt me until it didn’t. Watching Richards, Carter, Gagne, Handzus, Emery, and Carcillo, all guys I liked, hoist the Cup as members of Western Conference teams over the past two seasons has been confusing enough. The thought of Briere, wearing The Pig Man’s old number, winning the Cup as a member of the Penguins makes me want to both ends the Turbo Rocket Popsicle I just ate.

From Ryan: Is it weird that McGinn and Newbury kicked the butt out of each other last year and might be teammates this year?
That was quite the fight:

[nbcsports_video src=//www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/hkmZPH331Bw?version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0 service=generic_embed width=590 height=332]

I think when your job involves the possibility of punching someone in the face, and you live all year with that kind of mentality, you might not even really remember a specific fight as anything more than a win or loss. I think even if they did specifically remember this bout it would be because it was a solid fight, and that's something that seems to often cause a mutual respect to develop between the combatants. Now, the interesting relationship in my mind is going to be between Rinaldo and Newbury.

[nbcsports_video src=//www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/RY5BtDco2n4?hl=en_US&version=3&rel=0 service=generic_embed width=590 height=443]

These guys seemed seriously pissed at each other. Like, they may have said some things that you can't take back like I HATE YOUR COOKING or I THINK YOU DRINK TOO MUCH. The way Newbury went to gloat in Rinaldo’s face after scoring a game tying goal near the end of the third (not the time for it), and the jawing that goes on after, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some bad blood there. Obviously you put that stuff aside in the name of professionalism (read: money) but I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes at least one training camp bout to bury the hatchet.

From @NickDobo : Why is Braydon Coburn still a Flyer? Do you think they can win with him despite not having a no. 1 dman?

Watching Coburn skate is like watching a crew race in the Olympics – it’s just so smooth. That’s the main thing that frustrates me about Coburn. I don’t care that he doesn’t destroy people at 6’5 225 lbs. I don’t care that his “rough play” in the defensive zone seems forced and reluctant. What I do care about is that he makes so many forced break out passes, or blind wraparounds to where the winger should be, but never seems to be, when I honestly think that if he was a more confident player he would just take the puck from behind his own goal line and skate it out. For whatever reason I don’t think he has the confidence that his skill level should afford him. I think he’s still a Flyer because, as you can see by this week’s draft, the Flyers want big, fast defensemen. I think they can win without putting a Shea Weber or Chris Pronger ahead of him, but I don’t think playing 46% of his time with Grossmannnnnn and 33% with Gervais helped him last year.

If it has to be him or Meszaros that goes in The Name of Vinny I think most people would vote Big Mesz off the island. Unfortunately, and I say that because I think this will be a big year for him, we might find out what life without the longest tenured Flyer is like this fall.

From @vile_mennis: with all the french influence in the locker room, how soon until #hartnelldown is selling berets?

I've seen this a couple places and I have to tell you, The Flyers are actually pretty light in the Provence de Quebec department. As of this writing, and God knows whose rights they've traded for since I hit "publish," Vinny L. joins only Max Talbot in the "French-Canadian Dudes Likely To Be On The Opening Night Roster Club." With the log jam on D Bruno Gervais should be looking for Craigslist roommates in Glen Falls and it doesn't seem like Simon fits into the Flyers plans next year (although Jay Rosehill somehow does). Unless you count Coots, which I didn't earlier out of respect to Real Americans, but am here because no one is probably reading anymore and it suits my point, the Flyboys only have 2 guys who live for the poutine. At their core the Flyers are  a hybrid of different sorts - forwards brought to you by Ontario and back end sponsored by The Euro.

YinzTweet Breakdown of the Week

What this Twitter user, with over 60k followers to his 264 tweets, is saying is that Sidney Crosby, who he is some form of (like a Horcrux?) tried to enter the draft on Sunday in Newark  but was banned by NHL Security because “everybody” tried to draft him first overall. This is mildly confusing because:
a) Crosby’s contract with the Penguins runs through 2025, something I would think most GMs know
b) only the Avalanche had the first overall pick, so I imagine they received 29 offers from teams hoping to move up to the first spot because Crosby entered The Prudential Center
c) Unless eligibility rules have changed and you can draft players from other teams if they happen to be in the building where the draft is occurring, I believe that this is against the CBA.
d) Sidney Crosby was just walking around Newark looking for something to do on Sunday? Does he do that a lot? Is he a crackhead? Why wouldn't he have been with the Penguins executives if he wanted to go to the draft? Because they knew everyone was going to try to draft him?

Wired to win, Carson Wentz growing frustrated with Eagles' losing

Wired to win, Carson Wentz growing frustrated with Eagles' losing

He’s already lost more games as an NFL quarterback than as a college quarterback, and Carson Wentz says he’ll never get used to all the losing.
 
Wentz, who went 20-3 as a college starter, is 5-7 a dozen games into his rookie year.
 
The Eagles have lost five of their last six games and are 2-7 in their last nine.
 
From Seattle through Cincinnati, Wentz lost as many games in a 15-day span as he lost in his entire career as a starter at North Dakota State.
 
“It’s frustrating,” Wentz said Wednesday. “No one likes losing, especially in this business as a quarterback. 
 
“I’m wired to be a winner. I hate losing. But at the same time it doesn’t affect us going forward. I know it doesn’t affect me and I can probably say the same thing for the guys in that locker room. 
 
“We’re going to come in and prepare and be the same win or lose, because I think that’s what it takes to be great and you can’t waver. You can’t change how you approach things. You can’t change how you go about your business, win, lose or draw. 
 
“But at the same time, yeah, without a doubt. We don’t like losing around here.”
 
The Eagles have the third-worst record in the NFL since Week 4, ahead of only the hapless Browns and 49ers. 

They haven’t been eliminated from playoff contention yet, but it sure seems like only a matter of time.
 
Since building a 3-0 record, the Eagles’ only wins have come on Oct. 23 over the Viking and Nov. 13 over the Falcons, both at the Linc.
 
No NFL quarterback has lost more games than Wentz since Week 4. Wentz and Blake Bortles are both 2-7 during that stretch and Sam Bradford is 3-6.
 
North Dakota State went 71-5 with five national championships during Wentz’s five years in Bismarck, North Dakota. As a starter, he was 15-1 as a junior, including the postseason, then went 5-2 during an injury-marred senior year, although for a second straight year he led the Bison to the FCS national title.
 
So he’s not used to losing. Not at all. Not like this.
 
“You get in the locker room and it’s kind of a down feeling,” he said. “A lot of you guys are in the locker room after the game. They’re tough. You don’t like losing, no one does. Especially on the road having to get on the plane or the bus or whatever and come back home. 
 
“But you get over it. You turn on the tape and you learn from it. But right after you watch that tape, it’s on to the next. That’s kind of the nature of this league and that’s how you have to approach it.”

Fortunately, the Eagles have an expert on just this subject in the NovaCare Complex. 
 
Doug Pederson pointed out Wednesday he was a part of some really bad teams, and he said that gives him an ability to relate to Wentz on how to endure all the losing.
 
“In Cleveland we were 3-and-13 (in 2000), and then Philadelphia, my first year, being 5-and-11,” said Pederson, who was also an assistant coach on a 4-12 Eagles team in 2012. 
 
“Just kind of leaning back on those experiences and how we fought through. How we fought through adversity. How people try to divide the team or say negative things about players or whatever. We just kind of kept that thing nice and tight. 
 
“So those are things that I can lean back, when you talk about the experience factor. I lean back on those experiences to relay to Carson how we went about our business during those following weeks to come and kept that team together. 
 
“We had great leadership on the team, like we do now. With him, it's just a matter of keeping him grounded, keeping him level headed. He's a leader of this football team, and he doesn't have to do it all himself. That's the beauty of it. There are 10 other guys on offense, and 11 on defense, and special teams that have a big part in this whole process.”
 
Wentz has been going non-stop for almost a year now. From the FCS title game to combine prep to draft prep to OTAs and minicamps to training camp and now heading into Week 14 of the regular season.
 
But he said he doesn’t feel any signs of burn-out or fatigue. Although his numbers have dipped over the past couple months, he said he feels fresh and upbeat going into the final quarter of the season, which begins with the Redskins at the Linc on Sunday.
 
“I feel good,” he said. “I think it comes down to: Do you love it enough? I think if you love the game and you’re around it, you enjoy the grind. You attack it and it’s part of the process. 
 
“For me, there’s no more school to go to during the day. It’s just football all day every day and I love that. It’s been a lot of fun and by no means is it wearing on me in a negative way.”
 
What about his numbers? The stats are not pretty. 
 
Games 1 through 4: 67 percent completion, 7 TDs, 1 INT, 103.5 passer rating, 3-1 record.
 
Games 5 through 8: 61 percent completion, 2 TDs, 4 INTs, 72.4 passer rating, 1-3 record.
 
Games 9 through 12: 61 percent completion, 3 TDs, 6 INTs, 68.3 passer rating, 1-3 record.
 
Wentz shrugs it all off. 
 
“We’re all a work in progress. every quarterback in this league I think would say that,” Wentz said.
 
“You’re never a finished product, myself included. So you’re always analyzing different things you can do, from pocket movement to footwork. You’re always analyzing those things. So we talk about those things but we don’t harp on it. 
 
“Myself and really just everybody, we’ve just got to be better disciplined to things. Whether that’s alignment or pre-snap things, from recognition, from reads, you name it. We just all have to be disciplined. Really just execute better. It starts with me. Control our mistakes and that goes for everybody, myself first and foremost.
 
“We now what we’re capable of, I think everyone in the building does. We just have to get over the hump a little bit here.”

Zach Ertz, Rodney McLeod respond to criticism, defend effort after loss to Bengals

Zach Ertz, Rodney McLeod respond to criticism, defend effort after loss to Bengals

During a game after which Eagles head coach Doug Pederson eventually admitted “not everybody” played hard, two individual plays have been scrutinized more than any others this week. 
 
More than anything, two plays from the first quarter have stood out the most from the 32-14 loss to the Bengals in Cincinnati on Sunday. 
 
First, there was Zach Ertz’s non-block on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, then there was Jeremy Hill’s short touchdown run where it looks like Rodney McLeod simply let him score.

“I understand all the criticism and stuff,” Ertz said by his locker on Wednesday. “I’m not going to get into the details of every thought I had on that play. I’m focused on giving this city everything I have on each and every play. I promise going forward, I will do that. I think I have done that in the past. 

"I understand how it looks on the film, but I’m not going to get into the minute details of what I saw on the play and what I didn’t see on the play and how it impacted the play and vice versa. I’m focused on getting better. I know I’m far from a finished product as a tight end. I’m looking forward to this week against the Redskins.”
 
On the play, Carson Wentz scrambled for a gain of 10 yards and with Burfict sprinting toward the play, Ertz side-stepped to let him through. Head coach Doug Pederson and Wentz have both said a block from Ertz wouldn’t have been a factor on the play because Wentz was going out of bounds. 
 
But it certainly didn’t look good and fans aren’t happy about the perceived lack of effort, which Ertz said he understands. 
 
So does Ertz think he did anything wrong on the play? 
 
“I think I could have maybe got in his way, impeded his progress a little more to ensure that he didn’t get near Carson by any means,” he said. “But like I said, there were a thousand things going through my mind on that play and there’s a million reasons why I do stuff on each and every play and I’m focused on getting better.”
 
While offensive coordinator Frank Reich suggested on Tuesday that he was OK with the non-block from Ertz because it will keep his best tight end healthy for the last quarter of the season, Ertz said the coaching staff hasn’t told him to pick his spots to be physical and claimed his past injuries aren’t affecting the way he’s been playing. 
 
And aside from that one play on Sunday, Ertz thinks he showed his toughness and effort throughout the afternoon. 
 
“If you look at that game, I did give my all,” he said. “That one play has come under a lot of scrutiny, obviously, but if you watch that game for all four quarter, I mean, I’m cramping up, I’m still going out there and battling each and ever play. All I care is what my teammates and my coaches think about me. That’s all I’m focused on.”
 
This isn’t the first time Ertz’s effort and toughness have been questioned this season. The lack of yards after the catch and after contact has become a major talking point among fans this season. 
 
But for Rodney McLeod, having his effort questioned is an entirely new experience. McLeod wasn’t a second-round pick like Ertz; McLeod entered the league as an undrafted rookie in 2012. He worked his way to becoming a starter and eventually earning a free agent deal with the Eagles this offseason. 
 
Hard work and effort are what got him here. 
 
“It definitely hurts,” McLeod said about the criticism. “I know what type of player I am. I’m going to take pride in that. I feel like effort, hard work are the things that got me where I am today. That’s what my game is built on. So when somebody questions or has doubt in that, it does hurt. But nothing I can do. Just continue to put good stuff on tape, which I feel like I have done and continue to ride for my teammates and others.”
 
McLeod’s explanation for what happened on the first-quarter touchdown run echoed what his defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said on Tuesday. Basically, he thought the play was going somewhere else and by the time he was able to react, he was flat-footed. 
 
He then said he didn’t hit Hill because he thought the running back had already crossed the plane of the goal line and he didn’t want to get flagged. 
 
When fans watch the play, they might see a player who didn’t give it his all on that play. Not McLeod. 
 
“I really don’t see it,” he said. “If you look at any play before then, any game, any practice film, I’m probably one of the guys that’s giving it his all out there for this team and for my teammates. Like I said, I’m a prideful guy. I take pride in effort, hard work, all those things, I think, describe who I am as a player. Looking at that play, I thought it would hit somewhere else. It kind of came through leaky, guy was low, felt like by the time I got over there, it could possibly be a late hit. It’s a tough situation for me to be in.”