Measuring '09 Predictions from Eagles Offseason Against Results

Measuring '09 Predictions from Eagles Offseason Against Results

Although it always manages to arrive much too soon, the offseason can be a fun time for fantasy general managers. We like to suggest what players the team should sign and draft, and occasionally offer some whimsical trade proposals.

And of course, we like to prognosticate about the real guy's decisions too. The Eagles had one of the more wild offseasons on record in 2009, leading to an abundance of second-guessing, as well as plenty of intrigue. Looking back on the events from last spring and summer, how well did our expectations match the final product?

The Draft

Prediction: Rookies usually don't get much playing time here; Jeremy Maclin won't, but LeSean McCoy will.

 It's probably fair to say the draft turned out better than initially hoped. After a holdout that lasted a week into training camp, it was thought Jeremy Maclin couldn't have much of an impact this season, especially early on. Wrong. Maclin burst onto the scene in Week 5 with 142 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Moving forward, he had at least 40 yards in nine of the remaining 12 games, plus 146 yards and a TD in the Wild Card loss. Not bad at all for a rookie.

McCoy's contribution was also a bit of a surprise. We knew he would have to be a factor in the offense somehow, but he exceeded most expectations with 945 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns. With Westbrook in and out of the lineup for most of the season, McCoy's role increased and he answered the challenge. We are very confident knowing he is the running back of the future.

The rest of the draft was a wash. The only other player who was supposed to make an impact was Cornelius Ingram, but apparently his knee is a mess. Macho Harris was awful down the stretch, but nobody suspected he would play such a key part in the defense. Moises Fokou took some terrible penalties, but there were some positives to take away from this season.

Result: The bulk of the grade falls on the performance of the top selections, and Maclin and McCoy out-performed expectations.

Offensive Line

Prediction: Revamped O-line will be better than ever.

Beginning with the major offseason addition, Jason Peters was definitely inconsistent. He took way too many penalties, and while he's no revolving door, he needs to be more of a constant while protecting the quarterback's blind side. Let's talk about the good though. Even if Tra Thomas secretly had a better season in Jacksonville, which we don't know one way or the other, it's completely irrelevant. He couldn't be the left tackle here forever. Peters is an amazing talent. The idea that they were going to wait and be able to find somebody better is far fetched, and now they are settled at left tackle for a long time to come.

After we got over our Winston Justified initial fears, this was a change that worked out much better than ever could have been hoped. While Shawn Andrews did whatever it is he was busy doing, Justice blossomed into a decent right tackle. Meanwhile, Jon Runyan finally got some play in San Diego toward the end of the season, but the Eagles somehow successfully replaced both of their offensive tackles in the same offseason.

The Stacy Andrews signing went quite a bit less swimmingly. His knee was a concern when they signed him, and we all know how that story ended. Before we go ahead and label this a complete bust though, he deserves the benefit of the doubt for one more year. Knee injuries are difficult for any athlete to come back from, especially linemen. All the pushing and driving those players do begins at their base. If the knee isn't strong enough, that lessens the force the upper body can distribute. You should be rooting for his return to form, because Jamaal Jackson will have the same issues, and it just so happens Stacy can also play center.

Result: Not without its issues, but injuries plagued them all season. The jury is still out on the unit as a whole.

Stewart Bradley

Prediction: Huge loss, but they have good reserves and strong interior defensive linemen.

The assumption the Eagles would be fine without Bradley was based on two ideas that both proved false. First we imagined Joe Mays to be far better than he actually is. In retrospect, he's not a starting caliber linebacker in the NFL, not at all. What can I really say? Occasionally you fall in love with a player who it turns out isn't very good.

No big deal, because we still have Omar Gaither. Well then Gaither went and had a season ending injury of his own, and suddenly there isn't a single quality linebacker on the roster who also has the distinction of being experienced in the middle. There really wasn't any way to predict that would happen.

There wasn't an injury that had a bigger negative impact on the Eagles season. While Sean McDermott desperately plugged one body after another in that spot, the play never improved. Patterson and Bunkley looked a lot more ordinary without a decent player behind them to clean up their handiwork, and Gocong's production fell off as offenses paid less attention to one particular linebacker. The defense never got right without him.

Result: It was a total failure. Stewart Bradley was the loss this team never overcame.

Brian Dawkins

Prediction: His departure graded anywhere from "Won't be a problem," to "Everything will fall apart."

If I had my way, Dawkins would have been back this season. I still won't blame the organization for letting him walk, but that's for another discussion. The fact of the matter is, there was a steep drop off in the quality of play at the safety position, and that's not even limited to his replacements. Quintin Mikell didn't have what anybody would call a good season either.

That being said, safety typically isn't an impact position. Dawkins proved it can be, but it's not a necessity. To say not having him in the secondary was a serious problem might be stretching it. Hey, they missed him in more ways than one, but was that the difference between winning or losing against Dallas? Not seeing it, not the way they were completely destroyed.

At least one person will question the leadership and point to his influence in the locker room. Nobody can deny that about Dawkins, but bring something to the table we can actually quantify. We have no way of knowing leadership was or was not a problem, and even if it were, how can you even begin to measure what, if any, effect that has.

Result: They would have been far better off with Dawkins, but how significant his loss was depends on where you stand.

Temple basketball names Chris Clark assistant coach

ap-chris-clark.jpg
AP

Temple basketball names Chris Clark assistant coach

Chris Clark is back with the Owls.

The former Temple guard and team video coordinator was named an assistant coach to Fran Dunphy’s staff on Wednesday night.

“We are happy to have Chris Clark rejoin our staff,” Dunphy said in a release by the school. “He knows our system as a player and as a staff member last year. He also has extensive coaching experience, serving as an assistant at three different D-I programs. Chris has been successful at every stop in his career, and we look forward to having him back in the fold.”

Clark, a Philadelphia native, played for the Owls from 2004-08 and was a standout sixth man his senior season, helping lead Temple to a 21-13 record and Atlantic 10 conference championship. During the 2015-16 season, he served the Owls as their video coordinator. He left the program in April to join Drexel’s staff as an assistant.

“I am truly excited to be able to return to Temple as an assistant coach on Fran Dunphy’s staff,” Clark said. “Last season was special working at my alma mater as the video coordinator, but to now serve as an assistant is truly an honor. With that said, I want to thank Drexel head coach Zach Spiker for the opportunity to work on his staff, and his understanding through this process. I enjoyed my short time there and wish the program continued success.”

Jerad Eickhoff pitches well in beating White Sox, but why the quick hook?

Jerad Eickhoff pitches well in beating White Sox, but why the quick hook?

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO — From the season-ending injuries to Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin to the on-the-mound struggles of Vince Velasquez and Jake Thompson, the Phillies have had some unwelcomed issues with their prized young starting pitchers recently.
 
Jerad Eickhoff has been a most pleasant exception.
 
The 26-year-old right-hander delivered six innings of two-run ball in leading the Phillies to a 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night (see Instant Replay).
 
Eickhoff came to the Phillies organization in July 2015 as part of the trade that sent Cole Hamels to Texas. He rose to the majors a year ago this week and has now made 34 starts at the game’s highest level. His performance has been pretty encouraging as he has racked up a 3.57 ERA in 206 2/3 innings, basically a full season of work.
 
“He's been the guy who has been the most consistent,” said manager Pete Mackanin, referring to the team’s group of young starters. “He's given us what we wanted. He's had some hiccups, but I expect him to pitch well every time he goes out. I feel confident in him.”
 
At 6-4, 250 pounds, Eickhoff has a workhorse body. He is the only Phillies’ starter to remain healthy this season and the club clearly wants him to stay that way, both for the remainder of the season and the future.
 
That was the explanation that Eickhoff received in the dugout from Mackanin and pitching coach Bob McClure when he was removed from Wednesday night’s game after just six innings. Eickhoff had a 4-2 lead at the time and had thrown just 71 pitches thanks to his cruising through the first five innings on one hit.
 
“A little bit, yeah,” said the pitcher when asked if he was surprised by the quick hook. “But once Mac and Pete made it clear what was going on, it’s a no-brainer. It’s part of the game. I was just happy to get through it and be done and be healthy.
 
“What they said is they want me to make every start this year and be healthy. You can’t complain about that. I’m very lucky and very fortunate to be healthy this year.”
 
So the Phillies are managing Eickhoff's workload. Makes sense with this being a rebuilding season.

But Mackanin had a different explanation for his decision to remove Eickhoff. The pitcher gave up a two-run home run in the sixth inning as his problems in that inning (12.32 ERA as opposed to 2.64 in the first five) continued. Mackanin said he yanked Eickhoff because he wanted to make sure that nothing “snowballed” on the pitcher and he left the game with a good vibe.
 
“He pitched well,” Mackanin said. “I got him out of there after the sixth because I wanted him out on a positive note. He's been struggling in the sixth inning and after that, so I didn't want him going back out there. We have three guys I have confidence in in (Edubray) Ramos, (Hector) Neris and (Jeanmar) Gomez, so it worked out for us.”
 
Mackanin was asked whether the Phillies have Eickhoff on an innings limit. He is up to 155 2/3 innings. He threw 184 1/3 innings last season.
 
“No, no, not at all,” Mackanin said. “I don't know how many pitches he threw. Did he even have 80 pitches? I wanted him out on a positive note. We won, so I guess I made the right move. That's how it works, right?”
 
Ramos, Neris and Gomez protected the lead, though Gomez walked a tightrope and gave up a run in garnering his 34th save.
 
Neris allowed a leadoff walk in the eighth then got three quick outs. Since the All-Star break, he has pitched 18 1/3 innings and given up just one run. He has walked two and struck out 26. Pretty good.
 
After being outscored 18-1 in their previous two games against the White Sox and Cardinals, the Phillies’ bats finally produced some timely hitting. Tommy Joseph had a double, his 17th homer and scored two runs. Aaron Altherr had a pair of RBI singles and scored a run. Freddy Galvis doubled home a run and Cesar Hernandez homered.
 
Joseph’s homer in the top of the sixth against James Shields gave the Phils a 4-0 lead. Eickhoff hasn’t had many of those.
 
“He gets no run support,” Joseph said. “To be able to do that for him is huge.”
 
Eickhoff gave up three hits, including a two-run homer to Dioner Navarro in the bottom of the sixth, but he did limit the damage and got out of the inning with the lead. His handling of adversity in that inning was encouraging but it wasn’t enough to keep him in the game.
 
Mackanin said he wanted Eickhoff to go home with a good feeling.
 
Eickhoff said the team was looking out for his health.
 
Whatever the real reason was, they both made sense in a rebuilding season.

Best of MLB: Jose Fernandez sets K's mark, helps Marlins snap Royals' win streak

Best of MLB: Jose Fernandez sets K's mark, helps Marlins snap Royals' win streak

MIAMI -- Jose Fernandez pitched seven innings and appeared to avoid a serious injury when he tweaked his right leg on his final pitch Wednesday night, helping the Miami Marlins beat Kansas City 3-0 to snap the Royals' nine-game winning streak.

Fernandez (13-7) pulled up after striking out Christian Colon to end the seventh, and rubbed his right knee before limping to the dugout.

The Marlins pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the seventh, and no injury was announced. Fernandez was laughing with teammates in the dugout in the ninth inning and joined in the postgame celebration on the field.

His nine strikeouts increased his season total to 213, breaking the Marlins record of 209 set by Ryan Dempster in 2000. Fernandez ended a career-worst three-game losing streak.

He also had the Marlins' first two hits, hiking his average to .286, and improved to 27-2 at Marlins Park.

Fernando Rodney pitched around two singles and walk for his 25th save and eighth with Miami.

Dillon Gee (5-7) took the loss (see full recap).

Cardinals tag deGrom in win over Mets
ST. LOUIS -- Matt Carpenter, Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty homered off Mets starter Jacob deGrom, powering the St. Louis Cardinals past New York 8-1 Wednesday night.

Carpenter set the tone, hitting a leadoff home run in the first inning. The Cardinals went on to win for the seventh time in nine games.

Piscotty and Yadier Molina each had three of the Cardinals' season high-tying 19 hits.

Carlos Martinez (12-7) gave up one run and four hits over eight innings. He also got two hits himself.

Roughed up for the second straight start, deGrom (7-7) allowed five runs on 12 hits in 4 2/3 innings. He was tagged for a career-worst eight runs and 13 hits in his previous outing against San Francisco (see full recap).

Rays overcome Ortiz's 30th HR in comeback win
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- David Ortiz hit his 30th home run in the first inning, but the Tampa Bay Rays came back from a three-run deficit to beat Boston 4-3 in 11 innings Wednesday night and prevent the Red Sox from taking sole possession of first place in the AL East.

Luke Maile doubled with two out in the 11th and scored after Red Sox pitcher Heath Hembree (4-1) dropped a throw to first base on Kevin Kiermaier's grounder.

Brad Boxberger (2-0) got the win after one inning of relief.

Boston has won 10 of its last 13 games and remained tied in first with Toronto after the Blue Jays lost 8-2 to the Angels.

Bidding to become the majors' first 18-game winner, Rick Porcello allowed Evan Longoria's tying homer in the eighth before leaving with 7 2/3 innings pitched. It was Longoria's 30th homer (see full recap).