Just in case you thought the Stadium Series couldn’t get any more generic or unexciting, here’s the logo for the Flyers-Penguins Stadium Series game, brought to you by Coors Light, showing one of Pittsburgh’s 7,000 steel bridges and some words. Does anyone else feel like the outdoor games have jumped the shark, rode on its back, and then fell off into the murky abyss never to be seen or heard from again?
Doug Pederson was a guest this week on Albert Breer’s new MMQB podcast. Good stuff from Crusher Doug about scouting Wentz, coaching Wentz, knowing Wentz, watching Wentz and even more Wentz. Nothing totally earth-shattering, though there is some insight on the decision to trade Sam Bradford and start Wentz. Also, we learn that the Eagles missing out on Russell Wilson in the 2012 draft may be what inspired them to trade up for Wentz this year.
The only link I can find is for iTunes, so just search “MMQB Albert Breer” in your podcast player of choice.
Fap. Fap. Fap.
The Eagles head into their bye week 3-0 behind a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback who has yet to turn the ball over. The Eagles also have allowed only 27 points through three weeks, best in the NFL.
The biggest surprise of the season has been the Eagles, without question. They’re 3-0 and dominated the Steelers on Sunday with a 34-3 victory. The defense is legit, Carson Wentz has been outstanding, and they’re deep at running back. Philadelphia is officially a contender.
That “they haven’t beaten anybody” excuse went out the window on Sunday.
Carson Wentz is off to a great start, but give some love to the defense. That unit has been impressive.
It was good for the Eagles to take it easy on Ryan Mathews when his ankle was sore, and give some young tailbacks some carries. Mathews won’t stay healthy all season (he never does), and they’ll need to rely on their backup running backs at some point.
What’s not to like about the Eagles right now? They whipped one of the (presumed) top teams in the league. They paid a king’s ransom for a rookie quarterback — a rookie quarterback who apparently didn’t impress one particular winless team (this decade, seemingly) — and he’s balling out. Most importantly, Jim Schwartz’s defense has allowed a grand total of 27 points in three games (the lowest figure in the NFL by 10 points). The defensive line played out of sight Sunday night. Ah, the NFL.
OK, so there are a few things to explain here: Flat-out, my opinion about Doug Pederson being a dopey moron who couldn’t run a football team was wrong. You don’t come in and go 3-0 (7-0 if you count the preseason) without having some level of coaching chops and, even more importantly, an ability to lead a team. Look no further than what Hue Jackson is doing with the Browns – inexplicable fake punt attempt, platoon quarterback buffoonery – to see what a truly inept hire looks like. Crusher Doug has already proven that he can get a team to buy-in and that he can scheme well enough to CRUSH THE STEELERS with a rookie quarterback and injuries to his starting running back and tight end. Already, it’s apparent that Pederson can lead and dole out responsibility well enough to be a successful NFL coach. Even if you want to credit Frank Reich with the offense’s early success, and certainly Jim Schwartz with the defensive success – Pederson said he doesn’t touch things on the defensive side of the ball – credit is certainly due to the guy who hired them.
Thus far, offensively, the Eagles’ game plans have been nothing but masterful. They’ve thrown an array of sets at opposing defenses and completely opened up a playbook to a rookie quarterback, who has yet to throw an interception. What’s more, they’ve looked prepared, poised, and professional. That’s impressive in its own right, but even more so when you consider that they have a new head coach. Because here’s what that could look like:
My opinion on Pederson was based on the fact that the Eagles seemingly hired their third choice, a company man with little track record who came highly recommended by their former coach with whom the owner is obsessed. He hadn’t even called plays for a full year in the NFL. He was coaching high school just a few years ago. He orchestrated one of the most confusing drives of all-time. He displayed a misunderstanding of the rules. There was nothing about Doug Pederson, other than the consensus that he was a pretty decent guy whose players liked him, that gave you much reason for optimism. Given the opportunity to do so again, I’d still be HIGHLY skeptical of the hire, though maybe without throwing around the “dopey” tag I liberally applied to him.
Of course, the Eagles have destroyed their first three opponents. That’s great, and immediately legitimizes Pederson as a head coach. But, we’ve yet to see him make any sort of meaningful in-game decision, call a two-minute drill, or be faced with a tough situation that he has to coach his way out of. It’s possible that all of Andy Reid’s worst traits will come roaring back into our sports discourse the minute the Eagles are down four with 50 seconds to go on their own 42 with no timeouts and Pederson runs three plays over the middle as the clock runs out. It’s possible he miscalculates one of his Big Dick fourth down calls. It’s possible he melts under the pressure. Pederson may turn out to be no better or worse than Andy Reid or Chip Kelly. He may not be a great coach, or even a good one. But it’s already clear that he is a worthy coach, far from dopey, with both the people and tactical skills to be great, and that makes him a good hire. I was wrong.
Three games. Three goddamn games and the looming bye week has already motivated the local newspaper to run a back page questioning whether maybe the greatest three-game rookie quarterback start in NFL history will be ruined by its own success.
To be fair, the Les Bowen article that it references is much less inflammatory and basically just talks about Doug Pederson trying to keep Carson Wentz shielded from all of the hype. But, the headline remains. Why? To sell papers, probably. Or just because this is Philly and we have to pee on anything that even looks promising.*
If you wanted to be negative with regard to the Eagles, it would be fair to discuss the fact that teams will eventually catch on to their many underneath routes and screen passes, Carson Wentz will struggle at some point, and the league will compile yet-unavailable game tape on Pederson. But even then, the one constant seems to be Wentz’s unshakable confidence and demeanor.
*I’m telling you, the old guard in this town will be so quick to turn on Ben Simmons the minute he does something other than eating a cheesesteak with union worker who names rooms of his house after Sixers greats.**
**You don’t even want to know what happens in the Chocolate Thunder room.
Debate signs, apparently a thing in 2016, have been all the rage, but everyone can just shut it down after this process truster casts his ballot.
H/T to (@bucktownfit)
The group that owns basketball’s Philadelphia 76ers, hockey’s New Jersey Devils, and English soccer’s Crystal Palace is adding a professional video gaming franchise to its portfolio.
With the purchase and merger of two successful eSports teams, the group led by investors Josh Harris and David Blitzer becomes the first to own professional video gaming team alongside big-time basketball and hockey franchises and an English Premier League club. They join a bevy of traditional sports owners and companies eager to profit on the growth of eSports, which draws hundreds of thousands of typically young, male fans to online matches and in-person tournaments.
Scott O’Neil, Chief Executive Officer of the 76ers and the Devils, said the organization will apply its experience with sponsorship and digital marketing to the new entity, a merger of Team Dignitas and Apex Gaming. The group also owns the Prudential Center, which could host eSports tournaments. A recent championship event sold out the Staples Center in Los Angeles in minutes.
OK so this is somewhat surprising and seemingly comes out of nowhere. I’ll admit, I don’t know much about how e-sports operates, but it is HUGE right now in tech and media circles, and many see it as a genuine competitor of traditional sports in the future.
I’m 33 and right on the cusp of a generation that grew up playing video games. I get it. I have Madden 17 and NBA 2k17. I’m not sure I’d seriously sit and watch other people play for any extended period of time. But there is an entire generation of kids who find watching skilled video gamers play on Twitch or YouTube more entertaining than watching a football or basketball game, and certainly a baseball game. The entire paradigm for how a younger generation consumes “competitive sports” is different. Even for most of us who embrace streaming, sports are still appointment viewing, viewed live, often in a social context, because that’s how we always did it. It’s what we learned growing up. But kids who grow up with wireless devices never had to wait for a network to broadcast a big event– they could simply call up whatever they want to watch on a phone or iPad, and e-sports has been built for that ecosystem. Traditional sports, still, are fighting against it. The reverence with which we treat sports and its characters is how some kids will treat e-sports and its competitors one day, if they’re not doing so already. There’s huge potential.
It’s not just the Sixers. ESPN has embraced e-sports and is covering them in a non-trivial way, and Draft Kings (a Sixers partner) even offers e-sports contests. And then there are Rick Fox, Shaq, Jimmy Rollins and Alex Rodriguez. Owning a sports team and having the marketing and facility infrastructure to promote and host events makes for a logical connection to gaming. It might be something most people over 30 can’t understand, but my guess is there’s an entire not-so-small subculture of kids who just got their hobby validated by a professional sports team.
Joe Biden, the Vice President of the United States and a Clinton surrogate who is in the throes of a heated presidential campaign where the first debate will be held in just hours, has decided to weigh in on the important matter at hand over whether moderators should be allowed to fa… oh fuck that malarkey– HE’S ON THE WENTZ WAGON, BABY!