Evaluating "The Jamie Problem"

Evaluating "The Jamie Problem"

Managers and head coaches in sports these days seem to love having too many quality players to fill one position. Having Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, and Michael Vick is a "good problem to have," Andy Reid says even when most educated fans know the Birds are silently trying to do all they can to rid themselves of one of the three. Similarly, with both Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick looking fairly sharp this spring, the Phillies are going to have a tough decision to make on who their fifth starter will be. Paul Hagen dubbed this "The Jamie Problem."

The Phillies have said the fifth spot in the rotation is Jamie Moyer's to lose, as it should be. Gramps has earned that benefit. But this is isn't little league baseball we're talking about here. The guy who will help you  the most to win right now should be on your Major League team.

It's not a bad problem to have per se -- unless you're Moyer or Kendrick, perhaps. Both clearly want to start.

There appears to be three options. Either Moyer starts with Kendrick to the pen, vice versa, or -- as Paul Hagen suggests as an option this morning, trade one of them. Moyer would likely be the man to go.

They could trade Moyer. That would be a dignified solution for all
concerned. And, yes, there are probably a number of teams that would be
interested, especially if the Phillies picked up a good part of the
salary and didn't ask for much in return.

There are still a few weeks left before opening day and both Moyer and Kendrick will get more work in, making a push for their own candidacy. But if it were up to me, I'd certainly opt to keep both pitchers for much needed depth. If that's the case, I agree that Moyer makes more sense to start.

The trade option, however, is an interesting one. Would you be down to part ways with Moyer? I like having a legit sixth man waiting in the wings in case of emergency too much to just let one of them go for "not much in return."

Bottom line: put the best 25 man roster together even if it means one guy may not be one-hundred percent happy about when he pitches.

Eagles-Bengals Week 13: What they're saying

Eagles-Bengals Week 13: What they're saying

The Eagles have left themselves little to no room for error. 

A second consecutive loss dropped the Eagles (5-6) under .500 for the first time this season and pushed them a game and a half behind the Redskins (6-4-1) for the second wild card spot, with a number of teams still vying for that sixth and final position.

Now the Eagles will try to keep their fading playoff hopes alive as they travel to Cincinnati to face the struggling Bengals (3-7-1). Cincinnati is currently riding a three-game losing streak and hasn't won a game since Oct. 23. 

The last time these two teams met was all the way back in 2012, when the Bengals routed Nick Foles and the Eagles at the Linc, 34-13.

To find out more about the A.J. Green-less Bengals, here's what they're saying about the Eagles' Week 13 opponent heading into Sunday.

Starting slow …
The Bengals' problems this season have started on their first defensive drive. While Cincinnati boasts an average scoring defense at 17th overall (22.3 points per game), opposing offenses have scored with ease against the Bengals to open games.

In seven of the Bengals' first 11 games, the opposition has scored on its opening drive, with a touchdown coming six times of those times. In over half of their games the Bengals have trailed after the first quarter, in which they have gone 1-5.

According to Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer, if Cincinnati's defense could get off to a fast start it could help turn around the Bengals' fortunes down the stretch.

"On one hand, this seems like it should be easy enough to do. It’s just one possession," Owczarski wrote. "And, the Bengals are allowing 20.0 points per game over their last five games – a number that would be 10th in the NFL – and allowing 18.7 over their last three. But for some reason, opposing teams have been able to carve up the Bengals defense on the first drive and score touchdowns to give their team an immediate advantage. If the Bengals can avoid that defensively, it may create the change at the end of the game the team needs."

… finishing slower
While their defense has came up small at beginning of games, the Bengals' offense has sputtered at the end of games.

In fourth quarters Andy Dalton and company have mustered just one touchdown and 13 points overall in the past six weeks. For the season, the Bengals are averaging 4.1 points in the final quarter (31st overall) and are tied with the Giants for the most total punts in fourth quarters.

According to Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals' offensive output in fourth quarters has been historically bad compared to the rest of the Marvin Lewis era.

"The Bengals are on pace for 66 fourth quarter points on the season. The dreadful number lags far behind all but one season in the Marvin Lewis Era. Only the debacle of the 2008 season with a Carson Palmer injury saw a smaller output," Dehner Jr. wrote. "... The defense owns a fair share of blame in the fourth quarter failure, though much of their mystery comes with the first drive of the game where they have allowed a touchdown in six of the last eight weeks. As for how the final quarter came to this epic fail, like anything, theories are abound though they matter little anymore."

Red Rocket coming back down to earth
Following a strong 2015 campaign that saw him throw 25 touchdowns compared to seven interceptions and boast a 106.2 quarterback rating, Andy Dalton has come back down to earth this season. Dalton has 12 touchdowns compared to six interceptions and a quarterback rating of 89.7.

Dalton is currently riding a streak of four games where he hasn't posted a quarterback rating any higher than 81.8 and it certainly hasn't helped his cause that star wideout A.J. Green has been out of the lineup for the past game-plus with a hamstring injury.

Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com listed Dalton as one of the six Cincinnati players to watch Sunday, as he'll be going against a capable defense that's looking to back on track.

"Dalton told ESPN that his shoulder was fine despite being on the injury report for two straight weeks," Terrell wrote. "But something is amiss, whether it’s his shoulder, his receivers or his offensive line. He hasn’t had a passing rating of more than 80 since Oct. 23, and the Bengals offense has struggled with only one touchdown in the last six quarters."

Predictions
Vegas has this game even as a pick-em and that was reflected in this week's national prediction roundup, with the Bengals gaining just a slight edge overall. 

ESPN: Six of nine experts picked the Bengals

CBS Sports: Five of eight experts picked the Bengals

FOX Sports: Four of five experts picked the Eagles