The Morning Extras: Did Brian Westbrook Deserve Better?

The Morning Extras: Did Brian Westbrook Deserve Better?

This is the final word on Westbrook for now, barring any unforeseen major developments in the story. At Tuesday's press conference though, Andy Reid refused to discuss whether the club offered to restructure Brian's contract. While making his rounds yesterday for the going away media tour, 36 revealed that they absolutely did not offer to renegotiate, and that neither Joe Banner or Jeffrey Lurie even bothered to pick up the phone.

The second part is a bit of a head scratcher, specifically on Lurie. When you consider how much Westbrook meant to this team's success during the past decade, you would think that warrants a call from the owner. As a fan of the team, are you upset at either the lack of effort to keep him in Philadelphia, or specifically the treatment he received on his way out the door?

Personally, I think people read into these things too much. It's possible after Reid broke the news, Lurie thought it would be best to give Brian some time to digest what happened. I'm sure his phone was very busy that afternoon. And from a football standpoint, releasing him is absolutely the correct decision, no matter how difficult it is. Between injuries limiting his availability, and the similarity in styles with McCoy, going in another direction was justified.

LINKS

• "Why A Ryan Howard Trade Makes Sense." Interesting viewpoint, as long as you're applicable to the idea of ever trading the slugger. [Crashburn]

• Potentially big signing for the Phillies, adding Brad Wilkerson on a minor league contract. A career .326 hitter at Citizens Bank Park. [Beerleaguer]

• The obligatory "Briant Westbrook should walk away for his own good" story. I don't necessarily disagree, but you know how pro athletes are, always sticking around a few seasons too long. [CBS Sports]

• The Chester Taylor bandwagon grows. Ray Didinger explains why he would be a good fit for the Eagles. [CSN]

But for right now, I think the Eagles need to bring in a veteran to share the load with McCoy. It doesn’t make much sense to have a rookie backing-up a second-year player like McCoy. You need an experienced guy. Chester Taylor is an interesting option. He will be an unrestricted free agent, and even though he is 30, he has never been asked to carry a big workload so he doesn’t have a lot of mileage on his body. 

Taylor had a good year in Minnesota backing up Adrian Peterson. He caught 44 passes and played well in the NFC title game when Peterson was benched for fumbling. Taylor understands the role and would accept sharing time with McCoy. He won’t have trouble picking up the Eagles offense since he played in a similar system under Brad Childress in Minnesota. Just a thought.

• Jon Runyan's plot to take over the world is going swimmingly. His main opponent in the primary elections will not run, and threw his support behind the biggest politician ever. [NJ.com]

• Ryan Miller getting plenty of love for his performance in net for USA. [Yahoo!]

• And the Inquirer's own Phil Sheridan has a good piece on the team's 2-0 battle with Switzerland. [Inquirer]

COMMENT OF THE DAY

I agree w/ VP...we need to add a couple players to the D before even thinking about our offense!

Report came out today that Dunta Robinson is going to hit the market...I think him and Carlos Dansby would be at the top of my FA wish list. Could then either say goodbye to Sheldon Brown or try to move him to FS and draft a rookie for future (Mays, Earl Thomas).

- beau

While I agree the defense is a priority, there's no reason the Eagles can't focus on addressing all their needs.

As far as specific players, I don't expect them to be interested in Dunta Robinson. With the exception of Asante Samuel, who is one of the top playmaking corners in the league, they've made it a point to develop their own guys in the secondary. Sheldon, Mikell, Hanson, Dawkins, Lito, Michael Lewis, Rod Hood, etc. Doubt they would look at a guy like Dunta, who has a history of injuries and isn't an elite player already.

It also sounds like Dansby has other teams in mind, and the Eagles don't typically spend a ton of money on the position. He would be a nice addition, but I'm not getting my hopes up.

THE EXTRA POINT

Where is the damn snow? Don't tease me with days off, only to have me wake up and find that you were full of it. If you're gonna do this, let's do this already.

Stuck at work. Let me hear it, kulp700level@gmail.com.

Flyers-Blackhawks 5 things: Matinee showdown with Western Conference leader

Flyers-Blackhawks 5 things: Matinee showdown with Western Conference leader

Flyers (12-10-3) vs. Blackhawks (16-6-3)
1 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com

Behind captain Claude Giroux's two goals and overtime heroics Thursday, the Flyers enter Saturday's matinee with the Chicago Blackhawks on their longest win streak of the season.

That and more as we get ready for the afternoon showdown at the Wells Fargo Center.

1. Three's company
With their 3-2 OT win over the Senators, the Flyers have now won three (3!) games in a row for the second time this season, a sign the ship might be turning in the right direction.

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol applauded his team's 61-minute effort afterward. Comparing it to Tuesday's win over Boston in which Steve Mason single-handedly stole two points from the Bruins, Hakstol said the Ottawa game was a "real, good, consistent effort" throughout the lineup, which the Flyers will have to mimic again Saturday in order to beat Chicago.

On Friday, Hakstol rewarded the Flyers with an optional practice. Brandon Manning, who has missed the last two games because of a possible concussion, returned to practice Friday and was cleared to play. If Manning returns Saturday, Andrew MacDonald seems like the likely candidate to come out.

Manning's return would be welcomed for the Flyers. The 26-year-old has been one of the team's most consistent players. He's been aggressive, both offensively and defensively, and his play is not deserving of a healthy scratch. But with no morning skate and limited player availability Friday, Manning's status for the Blackhawks' game remains unknown.

2. Power hour
For the Flyers to extend their winning streak to a season-high four games Saturday, they will have to do so not only with a sound, defensive game but also on special teams.

If there is one area Chicago has struggled this season, it has been the penalty kill. At 70.1 percent, the Blackhawks have the league's worst PK unit, and have a middle-of-the-road power play despite all of their offensive firepower.

The Flyers, on the other hand, have the league's third-best power play at 23.6 percent, and their penalty-kill units have improved lately, getting up to 80 percent. The Flyers have two PP goals in their last 19 opportunities.

Still, Chicago's power play is dangerous despite its recent struggles. The Blackhawks have just one power-play goal since Nov. 19, and went 0 for 4 on Thursday against the Devils.

3. Corey's crease
The Blackhawks also enter Saturday hot, winning three of their last four games; however, they have gone to overtime in their last three games. Chicago has had issues with slow starts in games recently, and the Devils' game Thursday was another example of that.

New Jersey took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, but easily could have had a larger lead had it not been for Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, who's been excellent this season. Crawford faced 13 shots in the opening period Thursday and kept the 'Hawks in the game, as he has all season long. The Blackhawks sit atop the NHL with 35 points (at the time of this posting), and Crawford is a major reason for that.

Crawford has a 2.27 goals-against average and .927 save percentage this season. He's pitched two shutouts and has faced 33 or more shots in his last four games. Scoring on Crawford has not been easy for opponents this season, but the Flyers do average 3.1 goals, third in the NHL.

4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: Let's stick with Giroux. The 28-year-old snapped a nine-game goal drought Tuesday with power-play goal, and then added two more Thursday — one at 5-on-5 and one in the 3-on-3 overtime. Giroux's play at even strength has been scrutinized, but his point production remains potent. Giroux has a four-game point streak — three goals, two assists — and has 22 points in 25 games this season. He also got engaged Thursday in Ottawa.

Blackhawks: So many players to watch, but let's highlight the ageless Marian Hossa. The 37-year-old continues to be an effective player even as he grows older. Now in his 18th NHL season, Hossa leads Chicago with 12 goals, including the game-winner in overtime against New Jersey Thursday. Hossa tallied his 500th career goal against the Flyers back on Oct. 18, and has 15 goals in 48 career games against the orange and black. He still has it.

5. This and that
• Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is out for Saturday's game because of an upper-body injury, per CSN Chicago's Tracey Myers. Toews hasn't played since Nov. 23.

• Mason, Saturday's projected starter, is 7-12-3 with a 3.42 GAA and .890 save percentage in 23 career games against the Blackhawks. After a disaster start to the season, Mason has a 2.22 GAA and .912 save percentage over his last nine games.

• Chicago has five players with seven or more goals, and five players with double-digit assists.

TicketIQ: Affordable seats available to see Sixers face marquee opponents

TicketIQ: Affordable seats available to see Sixers face marquee opponents

Editor's Note: The following is sponsored content written by TicketIQ.

The improvements have been obvious for the 76ers this season. Just months removed from a franchise-worst 10-72 record, the Sixers have begun to see return on their rebuild with rookie Joel Embiid leading the charge.
 
December will be a big month for the team as it looks to rise in the Eastern Conference. Attending an upcoming game won’t come attached with big ticket prices, either. With several marquee opponents headed to Wells Fargo Center over the next four weeks, including the Lakers, Celtics and Raptors, fans can find relatively inexpensive ticket prices on the resale market all month long.
 
On TicketIQ, a ticket search engine that pools tickets and data from over 90 percent of the resale market, the average resale price for 76ers tickets in December is just $58. That makes December among the cheapest months to see the Sixers this season.

 
With the Lakers in town for a December 16 game, it will be the only 76ers home game this month that commands an average resale price above $100. On TicketIQ, 76ers vs Lakers tickets own a $112 average and the most inexpensive are listed from $27 each. It will be the Lakers’ sole visit to Philadelphia this season.
 
The Celtics will be the Sixers’ second most expensive opponent this month, but their December 3 visit is currently averaging nearly half the price the Lakers are seeing when they’re in town two weeks later. As it stands now the average resale price for tickets against the Celtics is $69 with a get-in price of $13.
 
The Nets, Pelicans and Raptors are all generating similar demand for their respective stops in Philadelphia later this month. With all three teams visiting over a six-day period between December 14 and 20, no game will average over $55 on the secondary market. Tickets start from as low as $7 each to when Anthony Davis and the Pelicans come to town on the 20th.
 
For those fans with interest in attending the most inexpensive games at Wells Fargo Center this month, the struggling Orlando Magic and Denver Nuggets will serve as the most affordable opponents to see in action in December. The Magic play the Sixers on Friday night, where last-minute 76ers vs. Magic tickets are averaging $43. Their next home game against the Nuggets have an average resale price of just $35.