Vick: ‘I take sole responsibility’ for loss to Chiefs

Vick: ‘I take sole responsibility’ for loss to Chiefs

That’s awfully noble of you, Mike. Don’t get me wrong, you deserve some of the blame, but there is plenty of it to go around the Eagles’ locker room after their 26-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.

Michael Vick can come back for a second helping of blame if he likes. His performance was far too reminiscent of what Philadelphia had been becoming accustomed to prior to this season.

The Birds’ quarterback was erratic, completing 13-of-30 pass attempts for 201 yards. The 11-year veteran was indecisive, which helped lead to five sacks. He also turned the ball over three times, including a terrible pick-six—one of two giveaways to spot the Chiefs 10 points within the game’s first four minutes.

But we couldn’t lay everything on Vick even if we wanted to. The Eagles’ offensive line struggled mightily to protect him. Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston abused Todd Herremans and rookie Lane Johnson to the tune of 3.5 sacks, while at the opposite end Tamba Hali appeared to be getting the better of Jason Peters for much of the night.

Despite an improved pass rush this week, the Birds’ defense had no answer for slot receiver Donnie Avery. Avery hauled in seven passes for 141 yards, including a pair of third-down conversions of 15 yards and beyond, essentially picking up where Eddie Royal left off for San Diego last week.

Even special teams can’t be absolved. Damaris Johnson’s muffed punt at Philadelphia’s 8-yard line was one of the plays that handed Kansas City points at the outset, while Alex Henery missed a field goal for the second consecutive week—although this one probably didn’t matter as much.

There’s only one man in midnight green who comes away unscathed, and that is LeSean McCoy. There was a scary moment where Shady went down clutching his ankle, but he returned to the game and ripped off a 41-yard touchdown run to give the Eagles life in the second half. McCoy finished with 158 yards on the ground.

Vick certainly did not play well though, despite rushing for 95 yards himself. Give Kansas City some credit for making him uncomfortable in the pocket, although that had nothing to do with either of his interceptions, or several other missed targets.

The Eagles fall to 1-2 on the season, and have a very tough matchup ahead in Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 10 days from now. Meanwhile, the hardest part was the Chiefs move to 3-0 and Andy Reid gets to extract some revenge on the franchise that sent him packing after 14 years of service. Gatorade shower? Gatorade shower.

Sorry for that.

Despite everything that went wrong for the Eagles, it should be noted they somehow had an opportunity to win this game until late. The defense kept Kansas City’s offense out of the end zone for three quarters, but the hole the rest of the team had dug with stalled drives and turnovers was too much to overcome.

In other words, the one person besides Shady it's hard to lay this loss on is Chip Kelly. When your players commit five turnovers, it's nearly impossible to win the game.

Rays 7, Phillies 2: Mackanin calls Eickhoff 'a pretty darn good pitcher'

Rays 7, Phillies 2: Mackanin calls Eickhoff 'a pretty darn good pitcher'

BOX SCORE

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies right-hander Jerad Eickhoff pitched two innings, allowed a hit, a run, walked one and struck out two in his spring debut on Monday.

Afterward, manager Pete Mackanin was asked what he believed Eickhoff's ceiling was.

"He's a pretty darn good pitcher right now," Mackanin said.

Indeed, he is.

In his first full season in the majors last year, the 26-year-old right-hander led the Phillies' starting staff in ERA (3.65), starts (33) and innings pitched (197 1/3).

He delivered 20 quality starts and became just the fourth Phillie in the last 20 years to make 33 starts and record a 3.65 ERA or better, joining three pretty good pitchers named Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Curt Schilling. He walked just 1.92 batters per nine innings and that was fourth-best among NL starters.

"Eickhoff is the kind of guy you can count on," Mackanin said. "He throws strikes. He knows what he's doing."

Eickhoff is intent on building on last year's success in 2017. The guy has a Halladay-like work ethic. He arrived in Clearwater on Feb. 1 and got right to work. After his two innings of work on Monday, he put in a couple of hours in the weight room and on a back field running.

"I just have to continue working," he said. "I have a very high standard for myself as a lot of us in here do. We want to be the best players that we can be."

Eickhoff is working on improving his changeup this spring and his overall goal is to make every start -- as he did last season.

"That's the priority -- make every start," he said. "That's always a priority for me.

"I'd also like to incorporate the changeup a little more and use my slider and curveball and not get heavily reliant on one or the other, which happened several times last year and I think got me into trouble at times. So incorporating both for the duration of the season and just being more crisp with execution and location is my goal.

"I'm always looking to get better. I think the sky is the limit. I'm going to continue working, whether it's being Greg Maddux-esque with command or having a good breaking ball, or throwing a changeup like Maddux and guys like that did. There's always something I'm working on and trying to develop and sharpen up."

Eickhoff lines up to start the second game of the regular season behind projected opening day starter Jeremy Hellickson.

The game
The Phillies lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 7-2. The Phils are 2-2 on the spring.

Maikel Franco had two hits, including his third homer of the spring. It was a long drive to left field on a 1-2 fastball. He also had a single to right field.

"The thing I like early in the spring from him is he's going deeper into counts," Mackanin said. "I think he's working toward a good year this year."

Stassi impresses
Non-roster player Brock Stassi, a candidate to win a job as a reserve first baseman and outfielder (see story), did not play in the game. He, however, has a single, double and homer in the first three games.

Mackanin gushed about Stassi’s defense when asked about it Monday.

"He's one of the best first basemen I've seen in a real long time," Mackanin said. "He has no need to improve on his defense and I like the way he swings the bat. He's a real solid baseball player so he's a guy I really want to get a good look at."

Pitching matters
Starting pitchers Jake Thompson and Zach Eflin are both projected to pitch at Triple A. Both have been slowed early in camp because of health reasons, but are progressing well. Thompson has a sore right wrist and Eflin is recovering from a pair of surgeries to address tendinitis in both knees.

Both pitchers will continue to throw in the bullpen this week and ramp up to live batting practice next week. There is plenty of time for both pitchers to get their arms ready to open the season. However, the Phillies may decide to take a cautious approach with Eflin and let him build some more strength in his knees before they turn him loose. He could stay in Florida for a couple of extra weeks before joining the Triple A club.

Up next
The Phillies host the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. Clay Buchholz will make his first start of the spring. Here is the Phillies' posted starting lineup for the game:

1. Freddy Galvis, SS
2. Howie Kendrick, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Michael Saunders, DH
6. Tommy Joseph, 1B
7. Chris Coghlan, RF
8. Cameron Rupp, C
9. Scott Kingery, 2B

Sixers waive big man Andrew Bogut

Sixers waive big man Andrew Bogut

To no surprise, Andrew Bogut is not part of the process.

The veteran big man, acquired in the Nerlens Noel trade last week, was waived by the Sixers on Monday night.

The Vertical's Shams Charania and ESPN's Marc Stein first reported the news of both parties agreeing to a contract buyout.

Bogut was included in the Sixers-Mavericks deal that sent Noel to Dallas in exchange for the 32-year-old center, Justin Anderson and a top-18 protected first-round pick (which will likely turn into two second-round picks).

Bogut will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Per a report Sunday by ESPN's Tim MacMahon, Bogut was set on joining Clevelend once a contract buyout with the Sixers was finalized. Bogut will have discussions with the Cavaliers, Spurs, Celtics and Rockets before making his decision, according to Stein's report.

Bogut played 26 games for the Mavericks this season, averaging 3.0 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.