An Early History of the US Women’s Soccer Team

As a relatively new soccer fan, my knowledge of historical teams is limited to most of what we’ve learned in class. However, the one team that has always stood out in my mind is the US Women’s soccer team. They’ve always been prominent in my memory because they serve as such a stark contrast to the Men’s national team. While the Men’s team has a history of being good, not great, with many World Cup absences, the Women’s team is arguably the one of most successful programs in the history of organized athletics. The team’s first decade in existence is one of the most successful stretches in Women’s soccer history and helped spark an interest in women’s sports as a whole.

The team played its inaugural match on August 18th, 1985. The US Women’s team lost to Italy 1-0 in the Mundalito tournament. The following year, Anson Dorrance would take over the position as team head coach. Dorrance is most notable for implementing a 3-4-3 style of play as opposed to the much more accustomed 4-4-2. This playing style was unique to the Women’s team and gave them their own approach to the game, which was seen as a very American style of play.

The first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup was held in 1991. China hosted the first ever games, which lasted from November 16th – 30th. The US made quick work of their opponents winning all six of their games by a combined score of 25-5. The United States beat Norway 2–1 in the World Cup final in front of a crowd of 65,000 people at Guangzhou’s Tianhe Stadium. Michelle Aker’s won the tournament’s Golden Boot with her 10 goals scored, while Carin Jennings picked up the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player. This tournament put women’s soccer on the map and the US Women’s team was firmly in the forefront.

Following the ’91 World Cup, the team’s head coaching job passed from Dorrance to Tony DiCicco, who had served as the team’s goalkeeper coach during the ’91 World Cup. After a disappointing third place finish in the ’95 World Cup, the stage was set for the ’96 Summer Olympics; the first to ever feature women’s soccer. With the games being hosted in Atlanta, this was the perfect opportunity for the Women’s team to strut in front of a home crowd. After beating rival Norway, the US then met China once again in the Olympic finals, only this time doing what they were unable to do in the opening round and secure the gold.

The most iconic moment in the history of the US Women’s team came during the ’99 World Cup. After winning Olympic Gold, the US was picked to host the World Cup. After the Olympics, women’s soccer was more popular than ever, but if the popularity were to continue the US would need to continue winning, especially on their own soil. Flaunting DiCicco’s revamped 4-3-3 playing style, the opening rounds were relatively easy. A scare in the quarterfinals against Germany and a tough matchup against Brazil in the semis forced the US to earn their bid to the finals. In front of over 90,000 fans at the Rose Bowl and 40 million viewers on television, the U.S. and China would play perhaps the most memorable game in the history of women’s soccer. Brandi Chastain’s game winning shoot out goal for the US is quite possibly one of the most iconic moments in sports history and supplanted the team in soccer lore.

Prior to the establishment of women’s soccer, women’s athletics were just a mere afterthought. Following the ’99 World Cup, the first professional women’s soccer league, the WUSA, was created, finding a slightly permanent home in the US. The successes of women’s soccer even helped spark interests in other women’s sports, which helped lead to the creation of organizations such as the WNBA. The successes of the US Women’s team also highlights the importance of Title IX and women’s athletics.


Global History of Soccer: Cultural Playing Styles

I would like to preface this post by admitting I am not the most in-depth soccer fan. While I do admire the sport, it is something I have never invested much time in. The sport’s global scope is something very unique to it and is something that has always fascinated me and kept me distant. As someone who is only accustomed to American professional sports, one sport that included the entire world is a little daunting to get accustom to.

The other day in class, the question was posed, “Is Italian soccer the same as British soccer?” I initial thought was, “Of course, soccer is soccer where ever you go.” So it was much to my surprise when I seemed to be the only one in the room to think so. The notion Italian soccer being distinctly different from British soccer got me curious and led to my researching the distinct style of play from different countries around the world. It makes sense in hindsight, but I was surprised to find that the each countries style of play seemed to be shaped and reflect the country’s culture.

For example, British soccer is very traditional in that the style of play incorporates a lot of the values original established when the sport first came to Britain. They play a fast paced style where attacks unfold quickly with few touches. The game is much more direct with fierce fighting over 50/50 balls and direct passes that constantly move the forward. History plays a major role in Britain’s culture as it is deeply rooted in tradition. Considering this, it makes sense that the British style of play is still very much similar to when it was first introduced.

As I can now say with certainty, the Italian style of play is much different than that of the British. The Italians put an emphasis on skill, focusing heavily on technique and cunning. Attackers run at indirect angles which creates an element on unpredictability, while defenders focus more on slowing the tempo of the game by shielding and playing the ball back. They also prefer to crowd their own half of the field in order to suffocate the opposition on defense. I believe the growth of this sport through the rise of fascism in Italy played a big role in the distinct difference between the styles of Italy and Britain. The emphasis on skilled players and lockdown defense has the feel of a style that would develop from the impact of fascism.

Another playing style I found to be interesting was the Latin style in countries like Spain and Brazil. Play is very possession-oriented with a lot of individual-based plays. Players are creative with the ball and talented dribblers, which help to create a free-flowing game, which encourages creativity. The playing style reminds me of certain forms of Latin dancing in which individuality, creativity, and free-flowing movement are all marquee. The way players move with the ball puts an emphasis on creativity and the player’s ability to make things happen with the ball.

Northern European countries on the other hand, such as Germany, play with a very forceful nature. Contrary to the Latin style of play, players are organized with specific roles and rarely improvise. Teams often show a structured style of play, yet still manage to remain fast and aggressive. On the attack, players either try to maintain possession or hammer hard forward; there’s very little in-between. German people are often stoic and stern in demeanor and very rules oriented, which very much falls in line with their style of play. The fact there is a focus on individual roles rather than creativity falls perfectly in line with the culture of Germany.


Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth: The Sixers should draft Josh Jackson


(The Associated Press)

Even though the Sixers didn’t win the lottery, it really kinda feels like the Sixers won the lottery.

I mean, THE PICKS ACTUALLY SWAPPED! The Sixers were able to move up from what should of been the fifth spot in the draft and are now sitting snuggly at the third pick.

The ghost of Sam Hinkie can finally rest in peace.

While the only thing that could have been better would be if the Laker’s pick had conveyed as well, the Sixers may actually be in the most ideal situation as they are now set with at least two first round picks in each of the next two drafts.

The team is now very well endowed with future draft picks, have a Scrooge McDuck bank vault worth of cap space at their disposal, all while already having potential franchise cornerstones in place in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Things are looking up for the Process.

The Sixers have more assets now than ever before and are quickly running out of holes to fill in their roster. The team is getting close to competing, but are still a few years away from being a legitimate threat in the East. The time to draft for need is rapidly approaching, but we’re not quite there yet. Going best player available is still the best course of action; especially considering the best player available won’t be a big man.

The Sixers are lucky enough to be picking third in this draft and really shouldn’t over think the pick. if Josh Jackson is on the board when the Sixers are on the clock, they’d be wise to take him.

At 6’8, with a 6’9 wing span, Jackson averaged 21.2 pts per 40 minutes in his lone season at Kansas, as well as 7.4 rebs and 3 asts, highlighting the versatility that makes him such a valuable prospect. he has the size and athleticism to play either the 2 or 3, as well as the ball handling, vision, and IQ to rotate in at the 1 on occasion. He primarily played the role of small ball 4 at Kansas, but projects best as a wing in the NBA. The Sixers are pretty set at wing players as is, but Jackson offers a skill set too unique to pass up.

Jackson’s game is based heavily on his dynamic athletic ability. While his offensive game is going to need a bit of coaching due to his inconsistent jump shot, he has a dangerous first step to get into the lane and once he makes his move he’s almost impossible to stop. Once in the lane, he’s also good at finding open teammates underneath the net for easy baskets *cough* *cough* Ben Simmons and Joel Emiid.

His jump shot is the biggest concern of his offensive game and it’s difficult to tell if it will translate to the pros as he shot just 56.6% from the charity stripe at Kansas and was iffy shooting the trey to start the season. However, his three point stroke greatly developed throughout the year as he sank 25 of 52 three pointers over the last two months of the season, finishing 37.8% from 3.

The idea of Jackson playing off ball alongside Ben Simmons is the most exciting thought to me. He’s already great at cutting to the basket and would be an easy lob target at the rim. He’s also much better at catch-and-shoot three’s rather than shooting off the dribble – he shot 39% on those specific shots – and could benefit from Simmons floor spacing and passing ability.

His ball handling and vision are above average for a wing player and Jackson’s all around IQ might be the best part of his game. He is skilled enough to find open looks in transition as well as run the offense in the half court. He plays at a pace perfect for Brett Brown’s offense. Pairing him with Ben Simmons would give the Sixers two skilled facilitators who aren’t natural point guards, which would allow for a lot of creative lineups.

Defense is Jackson’s main calling card as he is a shutdown defender capable of guarding the 1-4. He is great at rotating assignments, clogging passing lanes, and going coast-to-coast on steals for easy baskets. He is also extremely pesky as he averaged 2.2 steals and 1.4 blocks per 40 minutes. Kawhi Leonard is a common comparison for Jackson and it’s not because of his three point stroke. A lineup consisting of McConell-Jackson-Covington-Simmons-Embiid has the makings of a lockdown defensive unit.

Jackson’s so good on the defensive end some might even say he plays *puts on sunglasses* Tenacious D.

While a player like Malik Monk offers a better fit and has a skill set that fills a much bigger need, his ceiling is miles below that of Josh Jackson. Jackson has perennial All-Defensive potential, while it wouldn’t surprise me if Monk simply became the next JR Smith.

Monk offers knock-down three point shooting, electric athleticism, and is great at getting to the basket in transition, but little outside of that and his high volume scoring faded down the stretch. Jackson offers almost everything Monk doesn’t and then some.

The Sixers have the means to acquire a shooter in the mold of Monk either through future draft picks, via trade, or in free agency. Player’s like Jackson don’t come around often and the ones that do aren’t easily acquired.

The addition of Jackson would also make someone like Robert Covington expendable. In the event the Celtics are willing to move him, the idea of a trade based around Avery Bradley for Covington doesn’t seem too crazy to me and would solve needs for both teams.

Josh Jackson’s floor is higher than any prospect not named Markell Fultz due to his versatility and treasure trove of skills. While he wouldn’t necessarily be filling a need, Jackson would be able to make an impact on this team almost instantly either defensively, as a secondary ball handler, or as a high-energy spark off the bench. He’s one of the safest picks in the draft and if he’s there at #3, he should be a Sixer.

Plus, he would give the Sixers another afro to play along Joel Embiid and if that alone isn’t enough to justify the pick, than I don’t know what is.

Vinny Velasquez Belongs in the Bullpen


Vince Velasquez’ most recent start against the Washington Nationals was his first outing of the season to last seven innings and only the fourth time he’s gone seven or more innings in 30 career starts with the Phillies.

When the Phillies decided to move Ken Giles, they were attempting to sell high on a dime-a-dozen commodity. Since the trade however, the Phillies have struggled to find any sense of consistency in their bullpen. While Jeanmar Gomez wore the closer job well for the better part of last season, his previous struggles have carried into this year causing the team to search internally for a new closer. Five different Phillies have thrown in 12 save opportunities, with Hector Neris being the lone pitcher to record more than one save.

While the Giles trade brought on these bullpen issues, it may have also solved them.

Since the nine-inning, 16 strike out gem he threw in his second outing with the Phillies, Velasquez has not lived up to the lofty expectations he set for himself. His struggles haven’t been due to a lack of talent as his arm is still as electric as ever. Velasquez leads the team with 34 strikeouts, he’s throwing 9.18 K’s/9, and his fastball is still sitting around 94 mph, while occasionally hitting triple digits.

Over aggressiveness has been the leading cause of Velasquez’ problems with the Phillies. He is the type of pitcher who’ll try to overpower hitters with his fastball and put a whole bottle of mustard on every pitch. This helps his big strikeout numbers, but causes him to pick up a high pitch count early in games.

Velasquez is averaging about 17.2 pitches per inning, 7th most in the National League, while his K’s/9 rank 12th among NL starting pitchers.

Velasquez seems to be trying to rely on strikeouts less this year, with his groundball rate increasing to 44.6%; a 10% increase from the previous season. However, his homerun/fly ball rate has shot up to 24.2% due to the eight homeruns he’s already allowed this season, tied for fifth most in the NL.

This more reserved pitching style may be an attempt to stretch his starts longer, but the results have been less than ideal. In addition to his increased homerun rate, his 5.94 ERA is a near two run increase from the previous season, his BB/9 has risen to 4.05, and his K’s/9 have actually decreased from the 10.44 he threw last season.

The way I see it, the whole Vinny Velasquez-starting pitcher thing has been a failure. All efforts to make this work so far seem like an attempt at forcing a certain talent to fit a certain role rather than finding the most ideal role to fit a certain talent. Instead of having Velasquez wallow away in the starting rotation and takeaway innings from other young arms like Jake Thompson, Nick Pivetta, and Ben Lively, move him to the bullpen where pitchers with his skillset and mentality thrive.

Trying to find a way for Velasquez to fit as a starting pitcher has only resulted in fewer strikeouts and more home runs. Rather than finding out how he can best take on the workload of a starting pitcher, it would be much more beneficial if he simply took on an easier workload in the bullpen.

If Velasquez were moved to the bullpen, he would instantly become the most talented pitcher at the Phillies’ disposal late in games.

Trying to get Velasquez to take on a role in the starting rotation stretches him out too thin and doesn’t allow him to flash his arm at its utmost ability. Taking off the leash and allowing him to pitch his hardest for just one inning a night could lead to some pretty exciting results.

His pitch repertoire could use some work, but he already has the makings of a quality closer. His four-seam fastball is a great strikeout pitch, he’s throwing his two-seamer harder than ever, and his curveball is steadily improving as opposing batters are hitting just .182 against the pitch this season. Working on his changeup would go a long way, giving him another secondary pitch and something that would offset his fastball well keeping batters guessing.

If he can just learn to mix his pitches better and use his four-seamer as less of a crutch, Vinny Velasquez could be the Phillies’ solution at closer for the immediate and long-term future.


Heart and Hustle Paving the Way For “The Process”


Merlons Noel was pivotal in the Sixers win over the Clippers posting 19 points and eight rebounds.

Without Joel Embiid the Sixers were able to overcome a 19-point deficit to defeat a talented Clippers team last night. In the last 21:40 to play, the Sixers outscored the Clippers 62-32 to ensure the team’s 121-110 victory and their ninth win in the last 10 games.

The Clippers were missing their best player, Chris Paul, due to an injury as well. Despite Paul sitting, the Sixers were able to show the talent-flooded Clippers with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan that “The Process” is for real.

Is this a fluke? How could the Sixers’ Embiidless line up even compete with a NBA Finals contending team in the Clippers? The answer is their gritty hustle and the newly found energy surrounding the team that comes from flashes of future greatness.

With future stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons sitting out, the Sixers’ lineup did not have much skill, but they made up for it in hustle. They showed that if they put everything they have on the court, the possibilities for this team are endless.

Austin Rivers of the Clippers shared his thoughts on the Sixers after the loss, “They kept fighting, kept doing what they are supposed to do. Everybody knows that’s they M.O., man. They don’t have the talent that we have. They don’t have the talent that we have. They don’t have the talent that other teams have. So they bank everything on playing hard. They outwork teams. That’s what they do.” Rivers noticed a special fire in this young team that kept them fighting.


Austin Rivers was ernest with the media sharing his views on the Sixers and their lack of talent.

The heart and toughness this team shows on the floor has put them through this January surge. They are now ranked in the top ten in the NBA for defensive efficiency and are among the hottest teams in the NBA. This is a result of the hard-hitting big men under the rim and the hustle plays from the rest of the team. With Noel and Holmes protecting the pain, while scoring a combined 37 points, and the backcourt players giving their all to stop the opponent, the Sixers were able to apply aggressive, defensive pressure to the Clippers resulting in a win.

The reason this type of old school, rugged defense is working because it’s rare in the NBA. Most teams have players on large contracts with a ton of NBA experience, which tends to correlate with a lax style of play with the intention of being healthy and energized for a playoff run.

What makes the Sixers a special kind of team this year is their youth. Of the 15 players on their roster, 10 of them are under 25-years-old. Most of these players have not had the opportunity to sign big contracts or have experienced the taste of winning. Thus, the lack of experience on the Sixers roster has formed a college style culture around the team that leads them to play their hearts out on a group level rather than an individual level like the NBA.

This scrappy, tough, underdog style of play is representative of the City of Philadelphia. The fans and the team feed off each other’s energy and are creating something special for Philadelphia Sports. With the combination of the All-Star ability of Embiid, the imminent return of Ben Simmons, the hustle culture in the organization and the passion Philly fans have for this team, there are no holds barred on the future success of the Sixers.

This is “The Process”. Who’s next?

I Have Seen The Face of God and It Is Joel Embiid


God, I love this man.

Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. Everyone just saw what I saw right? Because I have just witnessed great things.

20 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes of play. Ladies and gentlemen, Joel Embiid has finally arrived.

This was a debut three years in the making and my God it was worth every minute of waiting. This debut made all the sucking, ridicule, and pointless basketball worth it.

When you clown one of the NBA’s better low post defenders and force defenses to double team you in your first game as a professional, you know you have a special talent on your hands. It only gets better when you consider the fact Embiid started telling Adams “you can’t guard me,” while walking to the foul line.

If it wasn’t already obvious from his Twitter, Jojo has the swag to go with his skill. God bless LeBron James when he finally has to play the Sixers, he should of just accepted Joel’s pitch to join the team when he had the chance.

Joel showed the type of ball handling you don’t see from seven footers. Joel blocked shots like goalie. Joel looked nimble enough to recite Swan Lake. Joel did a pretty accurate impression of Hakeem Olajuwon. Joel shot the ball like he was a bad man who just didn’t give a shit; and he was.

The Process, as Joel Embiid so appropriately wants to be called, had an impact on every aspect of the game from the moment he stepped on the court. The Thunder are playoff contenders in a very tough Western Conference and they had a very difficult time accounting for Embiid. The guy had MVP chant rain down on him, and they were honestly justified.

REMINDER: This was Joel Embiid’s first professional game ever.

Sam Hinkie died for our sins and Joel Embiid is his prodigal son.

It’s impossible to not be excited as a Sixers fan watching that game despite the final results. If Joel Embiid is the future, than the future is bright. Actually strike that, the future isn’t bright, ITS LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!!!!!!!

Thoughts From Week 1: The Browns browned their pants


A 100% real, actually legitimate picture from Carson Wentz’ debut

The Eagles absolutely emasculated the Browns this past Sunday to the tune of a 29-10 win. Here are some of my thoughts from the game.

  • The Browns are bad.


    Remember Derek Anderson’s one good season?

    I wanted to preface every point Im about to make with this very important fact. The Browns are a big bag of suck. Going into Sunday, I was giving them the benefit of the doubt that they could finally be a competitive team, what with the addition of Hue Jackson and all, but naw. You can’t change a zebra’s stripes and you can’t get the Browns to be competent. I’ll give them credit, some of their guys had half decent days, but for the most part it was the same ‘ol same ‘ol for the perpetually putrid Browns. Eagles fans need to temper their expectations going forward because we really don’t need a repeat of last year’s Packers preseason game. Just keep thinking about that 3-1 comeback Cleveland fans, basketball will be here soon enough.

  • Carson “My dick’s bigger than yours” Wentz

    I hope someone bought this guy a Coke after the game he had because damn he deserved it. After throwing just 24 passes over the entire preseason, Carson Wentz showed up to Lincoln Financial Field looking like he’s been doing this whole professional quarterback thing for a couple years now. Wentz showed off everything that made him the second overall pick, the arm, the IQ, the athleticism, it was all on full display. All of his best throws were fit perfectly into tight windows, throws you don’t see a certain big sleeved quarterback make regularly. The thing that had me most impressed with Wentz’ was his pre-play recognition, you could routinely see the guy reading the defense and making the correct adjustment at the line of scrimmage. Hell, the guy picked up a first down off a hard count! ROOKIES WHO MISS NEARLY THE ENTIRE PRESEASON DONT DO THAT IN THEIR FIRST START! He also had great chemistry with his receivers, which is something I did not expect considering he’s played with them so sparingly throughout training camp and the preseason, which brings me to my next point.

  • Was Jordan Matthews really hurt?


    Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1

    Considering he was a stone-handed, ball-dropping, rage-inducing wonder last year, I was expecting Jordan Matthews to be a little rusty going into week one, but this Eagles team seems to love proving me wrong so far. Matthews was by far Wentz’ favorite target on the afternoon finishing with seven catches on fourteen targets for 114 yard and a score. If you were to ask someone who didn’t know any better who Matthews lived with for a week in Oklahoma over the Summer, they might assume it was Wentz. Outside of a couple dropped balls, Matthews looks like the receiver who had 317 yards and four touchdowns over the course of the last three games of last season. This is a QB-WR duo im V excited to see grow moving forward.

  • Nelson Agholor things that didn’t hurt the Eagles!

    I’ll admit it, before Sunday I was just about ready to give up hope for Nelson Agholor. Throughout his rookie year and this preseason, it just looked like it was the same one step forward three steps back shit that he’s been pulling his whole career. For every big catch, Agholor would follow it up with a fumble or a tipped pass interception or a rape allegation. I really thought he was going to go the way of Eric Rowe. But thankfully Agholor showed he still has a pulse against the Browns going for four catches on five targets for 57 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was a better pass than catch, but Agholor still had to beat tight coverage from Joe Haden to make the catch. It’s way too soon to say he’s finally come around and earned the first round hype, but Im a little more optimistic than I was.

  • The law firm of Matthews-Barner-Sproles is open for business.

    Although no Eagles running back really had a breakout game — Ryan Matthews was solid but not spectacular — the Eagles rushing attack looked great as a whole against the Browns. Doug Pederson did a good job of rotating his running backs to get the most out of them. Ryan Matthews was the closest thing the team had to a below back, he got the bulk of the carries with a little sprinkling of Kenjon Barner every so often to keep the defense on there toes. It may of only been on limited carries, but I thought Barner may have been the most impressive back Sunday averaging 10.5 a carry on four carries for 42 yards. Darren Sproles took over his usual role of receiving back, although he left a little bit to be desired, Im just chalking it up to Sproles getting use to his new quarterback though. The three running backs finished the day with a combined 131 yards and a touchdown. Considering what he did last season with a running back by committee in Kansas City, im excited and curious to see how Doug Pederson uses his backs going forward.

  • Is the Eagles’ offensive line better?

    Considering the Browns started two rookie edge rushers, I felt the offensive line could of had a better day. While they weren’t terrible, they sure as hell should of been a lot better. Jason Peters looks like he’s picking things up right where he left off last season, Lane Johnson caught too many flags, Brandon Brooks was good, but not great, and Jason Kelce got eaten up by Danny Shelton. Believe it or not Allen Barbre actually finished as the team’s highest graded lineman according to PFF, go figure right. Meanwhile, Jason Kelce is now rated as the worst center in football, maybe last year’s struggles weren’t just a fluke. The Browns finished with two sack and three tackles for loss to go along with a lot of unnecessary pressure on Carson Wentz. This Browns pass rush should finish among the league’s worst, which makes me nervous going forward.

  • The defensive line is what we thought it’d be.


    Get ready to see this smile a whole lot this year.

    I can say with absolute confidence that the defensive line is the best unit on the Eagles. It’s amazing how big a difference a simple scheme change makes. Had it not been for 40 garbage time yards on the Browns last possession, starting running back Isiah Crowell would of been held to just 22 yards rushing. The Eagles finished the game with three sacks and five tackles for loss, all coming from the defensive line. Conner Barwin picked up a sack off a bull rush on Joe Thomas while three blockers had their hands full with Fletcher Cox. I’ve said all I needed to say.

  • Jordan Hicks is back and doing the same things that made him great.

    There might not of been an Eagles I was more nervous about going into this season than Jordan Hicks. He’s a notoriously injury prone player and was held out of training camp for what seemed to be an necessarily long time, I began wondering if he was still injured. Well it seems like the Eagles’ cautious ways may have been for the best because the guy looks a whole lot like he did during his not defensive rookie of the year season. Jordan Hicks finished with just four tackles, but his presence was felt beyond that, specifically in the passing game. Hicks was graded as the fifth best overall linebacker in football and earned the highest coverage grade of any backer. Hicks was also the highest graded defensive player on the Eagles and second overall to only Carson Wentz. If this guy can play a full season, he could really make some noise.

  • Donnie Jones gets my vote for team MVP.

    Can we talk about how good of a day Donnie Jones had!? I don’t get excited about punters normally, but DZAAAAAMN Donnie Jones had a day. Donnie Jones punted the ball six times, the Browns didn’t return a single one. Jones had three touch backs and pinned the Browns inside their own 20 three times. He had a long of 72 (!!!!!!) yards and averaged 49.2 yards a punt. Donnie Jones was legitimately killing drives for the Browns before their offense even got out on the field. They say there’s no defense like a good offense, well I say there’s no defense like a zoned in Donnie Jones.

Eagles Week 1 Preview: Believeland comes to Philly



Hot damn football’s back!

The Eagles begin their season tomorrow against the Cleveland Browns and will start their first rookie quarterback in franchise history. What a time to be alive!

The Browns are the poop stain of the NFL — that’s why they’re called the Browns — but im gonna be real with you, it’s not that crazy to think the Eagles lose to them week one.

Look, I can call a spade a spade and the Eagles are not a good football team. Yet.

This is a fairly young and inexperienced team, so that means it’s going to take some time for the wheels to start spinning and the to get moving.

Any chance of this team competing went along with Sam Bradford in that deal with the Vikings.

I mean this team does have some pieces already — the defense has a chance to really impress this year — but I just don’t think there’s enough there for this team to be competitive right away, and I think a lot of that stems from the quarterback position.

Carson Wentz only played about a quarter and some change over the course of the entire preseason and he’s been very limited in practice over the past few weeks while he recovered from a cracked rib, so he’s pretty untested as far as rookie QBs go. Wentz could be a good one, but he’s getting thrown straight into the fire and it’s going to take some time for him to acclimate to his new role that came a year earlier than expected.

Wentz is also going to need some time to build chemistry with his wide receivers after primarily working with the threes in training camp. Jordan Matthews is also just coming back from injury after missing the entire preseason and may have his share of rust to shake off, which I can’t imagine helping Wentz much.

The Browns lost their fair share of players this offseason both through free agency and players just not wanting to be on the Browns anymore. But I see the addition of Hue Jackson as head coach as a huge step in the right direction towards getting this team somewhat respectable. He did wonders for Andy Dalton in his one season as Bengals’ OC, so Im not gonna sleep on what he can do with RGIII.


Robert Giffin III has come a long way from throwing balls by himself after practice.

I think the Browns Oline got hurt the worst this offseason, which gives the Eagles defense a great chance to eat on Sunday as they officially unveil their new defense. This is one of the biggest advantages the Eagles have going into Sunday.

Im not expecting a very high scoring game, what with the Eagles lacking much offense and the Brown’s not having much to protect what little they have on offense. This is going to be a close one, but Im favoring the Eagles just a little bit more in this one.

10 Things That Have Me Scared About the Eagles


Everyone knows this feeling.

With the start of training camp just a little ways away, the Eagles have done a good job of keeping all their ducks in a row leading up to the season.

Fletcher Cox is now being paid like a mid level NBA starter, which takes care of the team’s most disgruntle Eagle. The gapping hole that was the team’s head player personnel position has now been filled. And all signs of QB controversy seem to have faded as the blood from everyone’s Carson Wentz boner returned to their head.

Plus it turns out Nelson Agholor is just really friendly with his strippers!

Yep, things are looking pretty good for the birds of Broad Street. Everything’s coming up Milhouse.


And yet I still have these little inklings of “This could be a loooooooong season.”

I look at this team on paper and see a solid group with a few minor holes. My head tells me this roster is good enough to win a few NFL games, but my gut has me worried about those few minor holes; it doesn’t take much for a little divot in a team to become a huge chasm. The strengths of this team are pretty strong, but I just have that feeling that their weaknesses could be their undoing.

It’s not just the roster that has me concerned though, there are some things that are totally out of the team’s control that have me paranoid.

Here are the ten things that have me scared about the Eagles going into the season:

1. The Eagles have to play a BRUTAL schedule

I’ll be honest, this is the thing that has me most pessimistic about the Eagles going into the season.

This team could be decent, but I just don’t see how they’d walk away from this season with a winning record with the schedule they have to play.

I think they have a chance to start out nice and possibly have a 3-0 record going into the bye, depending on a Leveon Bell suspension and what type of mood the Steelers are in. But after that YEEEEEESH…

They come out of the bye in Detroit and as much as I wanna call that a gimme, Im not ready to sleep on the Lions after last Thanksgiving. After that they travel to the nation’s capital to take on the Washington DC team, and they’ve gotten GOOD at home. Jay Gruden knows what to do with a home field advantage.

The Birds then come back home to face the Vikings, a team that was a chip shot of a field goal away from beating the Seahawks in the playoffs last season. Im calling a loss here.

Then they have a little bit of a breather in the middle of the season playing in Dallas, in New York, and then at home against Atlanta, but week 11 is when they enter the Thunderdome.

First they have to go to Seattle, that’s a loss and you can write it down now in permanent marker. Then the Eagles see Green Bay in Philly, a late season game against the Packers is never easy. And after that they have to go into Cincy to face the Bengals, who were arguably the best team in the AFC before Andy Daulton went down with a thumb injury last season.

Then they get Washington at home which should give them a minute to lick their wounds. But after that they have to go into Baltimore to face a Raven’s team that will be much healthier than they were last season. I think this will be the last nail in the Eagles’ coffin.

I expect the Eagle’s playoff hopes to be officially dead by the end of week 15.

2. The wide receivers are basically the same


The success of the Eagles’ receivers may hinge on this guy.

Let’s be real, the Eagles upgraded their wide receiver position with wishful thinking.

They didn’t do dick.

For a team that was plagued with inconsistency and drops at they wide receiver position last season I would of though they would go out and get a veteran presence to compliment the young core thats already in place. Instead they signed Rueben Randle, one of the most inconsistent, brick handed receivers in the NFL, and called it a day.

Seriously, the only thing Rueben Randle does consistently is play inconsistent.

Sure, he has a little bit of upside as a former early round pick and had close to 1,000 yards two years ago, but he’s really just not that good. Randle was ranked 77th among all wide receivers according to PFF last season.

I do like the Chris Givens signing though, it gives Sam Bradford a little bit of a familiar face and fills a need at deep threat for the Eagles, but I don’t think Givens makes the receiver position that much better as a whole.

The Eagles didn’t really upgrade or downgrade their wide receiver position this offseason, it was more or less just a step to the side.

3. Rookie Head Coach


Doug Pederson could be good, but it’s not gonna be right away.

I think everyone in Philadelphia had about the same reaction when news broke the Eagles had rumored interest in Doug Pederson as a possible Head coach, “UGH Really, this guy?!”

Pederson comes from a Kansas City Chiefs team who is notorious for having an offense so boring it made vanilla look like a Michael Bay movie.

Dougie is an Andy Reid disciple and former Eagles’ quarterbacks coach who saw Donovan McNabb through some of his worst seasons as an Eagle.

The one thing I will commend Pederson on, and this is the thing that has me most excited, is his work in the run game. When Jamal Charles went dow to injury last season, Pederson got Probowl production out of a tandem of back up running backs. Seeing as how the Eagles basically have a bunch of back ups at running back, Im intrigued.

The thing that has me most curious though is how much of the credit in Kansas City should go to Pederson and how much should go to Andy Reid, seeing as how Reid is one of the better offensive minds in football. I guess that’s just something we’re gonna learn this season.

If all things go as planned, Doug Pederson could be the second coming of Andy Reid in Philadelphia, Im just not expecting it to be next season. I think Pederson will definitely look the part of a rookie head coach this season, but in time he could be a good one.

4. The linebackers are Meh


Mychal Kendricks may be pretty enough for Rihanna, but Im starting to get a little tired of him.

Linebacker might be my least favorite position of the Eagles.

Mychal Kendricks is overrated. He can make awesome plays, but struggles with consistency and can get burnt in coverage better than any other linebacker in football. Seriously, worst linebacker in coverage in the NFL, just check PFF.

Jordan Hicks makes me optimistic, but he’s already starting to look like Mr. Glass from Unbreakable. Dude could be awesome, but I am seriously concerned about his durability, especially considering he didn’t finish either of his last two seasons at Texas due to injuries.

He also isn’t the best in run defender from what he showed in his shortened rookie season, which makes me nervous seeing as how that was the Achilles Heel last time the Eagles ran a wide nine.

I definitely think getting rid of Kiko Alonso was the right move, he didn’t fit in a 4-3 and he’s better off somewhere else, but Im tepid on Nigel Bradham. Bradham is a nice replacement and all, he’s played well in Jim Schwartz defense a few seasons ago, but he’s better served as a backup on most other teams. Bradham graded out as one of the worst linebackers in football last season playing under Rex Ryan. He’s still young so he could rebound, but Im iffy on the guy.

Going into this offseason I was hoping the team would of put more of a focus on pass coverage skills in their linebackers, especially seeing as how the Panthers earned a trip to the Super Bowl thanks in large part to their linebackers’ ability to drop back in coverage, but naw. My dreams of the Eagles going out and getting themselves a moneybacker — that’s the new name for those fancy linebacker-safety hybrids that are all the rage now — sadly never came true.

The team might be able to survive with these linebackers for the season, but I feel like upgrades are gonna be necessary going into the future.

5. Eric Rowe hasn’t run away with the starting corner job

After Byron Maxwell was shipped off to Miami, Rowe became the de facto number one corner, or at least so it seemed.

After Nolan Carroll was placed on season ending IR last year, Rowe looked impressive taking over his spot on the outside. He graded out as one of the better cornerbacks in football over the last five games of last season, which pretty much made him a lock to start this year.

I was one of those people who always saw Eric Rowe’s future at safety, and Im still not completely ruling it out, but after his starting stint last season Im a believer. Rowe has the size and length to operate on the outside and showed some ability allowing 51.7 percent of passes thrown against him to be completed, giving up 30 receptions against 58 targets for only three total touchdowns, which is quality production from a rookie.

After all, you can’t earn a nickname like Death Rowe while playing like a scrub.

But so far this season, the early reviews from mini camp have been mixed. While he hasn’t been bad, he also hasn’t stood out as the team’s best corner like he should. The transition to a new defensive scheme can be tricky for a young corner so there’s still time for him to acclimate, but Im already beginning to temper my expectations for him going into the season.

Right now Rowe is slotted behind Leodis McKelvin on the depth chart and Im not sure how soon that’ll change. Apparently the Eagles staff have been paying less attention to Rowe compared to some of the other corners, namely Jalen Mills. Eliot Shorr Parks even went as far as suggesting Rowe might not be a lock to even make the team.

I do think Eric Rowe is the best corner on this team, but it’s looking like it might take a little bit longer before it’s fully realized.

6. There’s a lot riding on Jason Peters


Jason Peters ain’t the young man he use to be.

As far as Im concerned, Jason Peters is the lynchpin that holds the offensive line together. They go as he goes until he is released or retires, whatever comes first.

It seems as though every season the Eagles’ offensive line is seen as suspect, Peters is usually the culprit. Most times it had been due to injury, but last season it was due solely to poor play. Peters is 34 and it’s looking like the wheels are starting to fall off.

I can’t blame the shortcomings of the entire offensive line last season on Peters, after all the Eagles got what they deserved for starting Allen Barbre and Andrew Gardner at guard.

Still, the left side of the line was bad from tackle to center last season and seeing as how the team is expecting to roll out the same group this season, Im concerned. The way I see it, Jason Peters very well could make or break the line this season. He wasn’t entirely terrible last year, but he was very far from his former six-time All Pro self. Peters doesn’t need to be an All Pro this season, he just needs to be serviceable enough.

Honestly, if I were the Eagles I’d probably move Lane Johnson to left tackle now and just get it over with, but I understand you have to pay respect to your future Hall of Famers.

I think the team could survive if Barbre plays poorly, but if Peters follows suit I can’t imagine things going well.

7. Ryan Mathews is as fragile as a China Doll


I don’t have much faith in Wendell Smallwood as a rookie.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Ryan Mathews, but only when he’s on the field. And seeing as how that doesn’t happen often, he tests my love.

If I could expect 16 games out of Ryan Mathews I’d be ecstatic, the Eagles would have some semblance of a running game, and this list would be titled “9 Things That Have Me Scared About the Eagles.” But seeing as how he’s about as durable as a glass twig, I got beef.

I do think Ryan Mathews is a great running back and is capable of rushing for 1,000 yards, but he needs a full season to do so and you just don’t get that from Ryan Matthews.

Mathews was probably the best running back on the Eagles’ roster last season, and still is, but due to injuries he was never able to actually capture the starting job from DeMarco Murray until the end of the season and by that point it was more starter by committee than actually having someone be the bell cow back.

Last year, with DeMarco Murray starting, Mathew’s injuries didn’t have too major of an impact, although they were felt. This season, if (when) Matthews goes down with an injury, its gonna hurt.

Darren Sproles is now a 33 year old running back who has regressed in each of his last three seasons. I have no problems with Sproles starting in the slot, but I wouldn’t feel confident about him as the top dog in the Eagles’ backfield.

Wendell Smallwood, the Eagles’ new rookie running back, is a third down back in my eyes until proven otherwise. The kid has decent size, is pretty shifty, and has great hands, but lacks a second gear and is not a good pass blocker. Duce Staley may have a hard on for Smallwood, but the feeling is not mutual.

Ryan Mathews is 28, turning 29 in October. He has only played a full season once in his six seasons as a Pro. I can’t imagine he plays the second full season of his career this year, just like I can’t imagine the Eagles having a solid ground game this year.

8. Cody Parkey’s alive?!

Pro Bowl football

Once upon a time Cody Parkey was a Probowl kicker, here’s hoping he could get back to that form.

Cody Parkey was the best pick up of the entire Chip Kelly era. He was picked up for pigeon feed and instantly became one of the most important members of the Eagles.

Had Parkey been healthy last season, the Eagles would of made the playoffs and Chip Kelly more than likely would still be head coach.

Parkey had ice in his veins throughout his entire rookie season, but come the preseason of year two he was slumping HARD. He had struggles with consistency and would routinely miss chip shots.

There was a lot of mystery behind Parkey’s sudden slump until the team put him on IR and gave him the year off. I honestly felt a little relieved when the news broke about Parkey’s injury because it meant his poor play wasn’t entirely on him, but it didn’t make me feel anything close to optimistic.

Caleb Sturgis did an alright job in relief of Parkey. He wasn’t great, but he did well enough to still be sticking around.

Now Parkey is back and is forced to fend off Sturgis in hopes of earning his job back. So far the results have been not terrible as both have done ok, but neither has really jumped out in front of the other.

My main concern here is that Parkey was just a one year wonder. Kickers tend to be a lot like relief pitchers in baseball, they play an incredibly vital role, but they’re a dime a dozens and their greatness can often be fleeting. Caleb Sturgis looked like he had the makings of a future Probowl kicker his rookie year, but he was cut by the Dolphins two years later and now might be fighting for his NFL life. I would hate to see Parkey go down the same path after a rookie season that was even more impressive than Sturgis’.

At his best, Parkey is better than anything Caleb Sturgis has ever shown; Caleb finished the season strong but was still inconsistent AF. Im hopeful the better kicker can win the job and Parkey can rekindle his old spark, otherwise Sturgis is back taking field goals and that just doesn’t make me feel as confident.

I doubt the Eagles will be among the league leaders in offense next season so field goals could be pretty important. Parkey will be vital to the team’s success, but I can’t shake the feeling that the dude is shook. Im hopeful it’s all just rust and Parkey can win the job in training camp, but if not I can’t expect good things.

9. Sammy Sleeves or Sammy leaves?


Sam Bradford’s sleeves are so long because he doesn’t want to blind anyone with his sick ass guns.

I’ll admit, I am a Sam Bradford believer. I feel like the guy gets a little bit of an unnecessarily bad rep. Im not gonna say the guy should be considered a top ten QB — because he shouldn’t– but I just feel there is a huge anti Sam Bradford bias in the NFL.

The guy hasn’t had the easiest road to where he is now, albeit a lot of that is on him, but I still think he’s shown enough to be seen more favorably than most people see him.

With that said, Sammy pulled some little bitch shit this offseason. The team gave him a two-year “prove it” deal and he got all pissy as soon as he realized he would actually have to prove it. I can understand being a little annoyed when the team your still somewhat new to goes out and gets a new QB of the future, but crying and locking yourself in your room is not the way a suppose to be franchise quarterback acts.

Now that Sam has been talked off the ledge and made goodie goodie with Carson Wentz Im cautiously optimistic about him going into this season. He ended last season strong, he’s actually built a repertoire with some of his receivers, and the interior O line is much improved from last season.

I think Sammy could play pretty well in Doug Pederson’s offense — It’s much better suited to his skill set than Chip Kelly’s ever was — but I just question how well a team can rally behind a guy who asked to get going as soon as the going got tough.

10. Who is this team?

For the past three seasons the Eagles have been known as the fast pace, revolutionary offense that changed the face of the NFL. Outside of last season, they regularly ranked among the league leaders in almost every offensive stat. When a team played the Eagles they knew they were going to be playing against speed.

That isn’t the case anymore.

With Doug Pederson taking over you can expect something a little slower and more methodical, but its gonna be hard for me to expect offense to still be the trademark of this team. As of right now, this Eagles team has no identity.

At the start of the offseason they were seen as one of the most dysfunctional teams in the NFL thanks in large part to the whole Sam Bradford saga. While that situation has since resolved itself, the team is left as a relative unknown.

The Eagles have some good things on offense and some good things on defense, but not enough to be seen as either an offensive or defensive threat in my eyes. Neither is a complete group yet.

This is still a relatively young team that will need time to find out who they are and what they really have in their players. This team very well could turn into a defense force similar to what Jim Schwartz had in Buffalo or they could turn into a offensive machine akin to the Andy Reid days of yore. One thing is for sure though and that is neither will fully take shape this season.

I really just have no idea what to expect out of this team. The defense could be good, but I can’t expect it to be great and hell if I know what to expect out of this offense because I feel like they could be anywhere from piss poor to half decent.

One of the oldest and most common fears is that of the unknown and I gotta say, these unknown Eagles have me pretty scared.

We Need To Go Deeper: The Flyer’s free agency silence and what it means for the future

Every year at free agency time, the city of Philadelphia collectively takes a very, very deep breath. For years we’ve had General Managers throw absurd contracts at hot ticket free agents, only to blow up in our faces. Today, we exhaled. Finally some management in this city understands how you run a successful sports team. The Flyers desperately need scorers and power forwards, and Ron Hextall knows that. With the likes of Kyle Okposo, Milan Lucic, and David Backes all free agents at the beginning of the day, Ron could’ve more than easily thrown all our available cap space at one of these guys and hopefully fixed the problem. However we all know how these things happen, we throw lots of money at someone who use to be really good at something, then suddenly they aren’t good anymore (or never were) and now we’re paying our weight in gold for an aging bench warmer, and yes I mean you Vinny Lecavalier. Instead, Ron stuck to his guns and didn’t mortgage the future for now. Instead we signed Dale Weiss, Boyd Gordon, and some AHL depth players. This means two things for the Fly Guys.

Not Better, Deeper

So let’s be real here, did the Flyers get better today? Short answer, no. However just because we didn’t get better doesn’t mean today wasn’t a success. Today, the Flyer did a fantastic job of bolstering their bottom six and adding depth. In today’s NHL, it’s important to be able to run 4 capable lines, and today the Flyers moved closer to being able to do that. We essentially replaced Ryan White, who signed with Arizona, with Dale Weiss. Not only is Weiss’ cap hit better than White’s, I believe that Weiss is also the better player. Imagine Ryan White, but with an offensive upside and veteran experience. The other NHL name the Flyers signed today, Boyd Gordon, is a PK specialist. If there is one thing the Flyers’ playoff run taught us, it’s that you can never have enough penalty killers. On top of this, we added some depth at the AHL level as far as forwards go. Which leads me to my next point


When Ron Hextall was asked to comment on the events (Or lack there of) of today, he admitted that he was unable to get the team a scorer. However he countered this by then making the biggest name drop of the year. Ron Hextall himself said that while we didn’t find our scorer, the extra money we saved leaves room for TRAVIS KONECNY and IVAN PROVOROV should they make the roster. This is not a drill ladies and gentlemen. Basically Ron Hextall is saying that if Konecny and Provorov are good enough, and we all can clearly see that they are, they have a space in our roster. After seeing the effect that Gostisbehere had on our entire team, I can’t be the only one excited to see what two younger and more skilled would do to this team. However this is what Hextall had planned all along, we now have the option to fix our problems with skill from within the organization for pennies, instead of throwing fortunes at free agents. And that ladies and gentlemen, is why Ron Hextall is right for the City Of Philadelphia.