501

Career assists for Flyers captain Claude Giroux

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On November 2

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How bad is it for Eagles receivers? Terrell Owens tweeted out that he’s “available.”

And that was before Josh Huff was arrested on gun charges, DUI and marijuana possession after being pulled over for speeding on the Walt Whitman Bridge.

The problems on the field are obvious. The Eagles rarely throw the ball downfield. That’s why Carson Wentz’s 32 completions during Sunday’s 29-23 overtime loss to the Cowboys also totaled 202 yards.

Only head coach Doug Pederson knows if the reason for the paucity of downfield throws is that the receivers can’t get open or concern over the offensive line protecting Carson Wentz. Or could it be both?

Even when Wentz connects with his receivers, they don’t always catch it. Nearly half of Wentz’s 11 incompletions during Sunday’s loss against the Cowboys were drops. Dropping passes has been a problem this season for Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Huff and Dorial Green-Beckham.

Tired of being asked about drops, Agholor unleashed a profanity-laced tirade after Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys. His overall point was that one play doesn’t cost a team the game. But fans don’t want to hear that lecture from a first-round draft choice who has been, at best, mediocre the past 1½ seasons.

Agholor compounded his mistake with this beauty of quote: “I dropped the first one. I ain’t drop one after that.”

But Agholor’s reign as champion for uttering the worst quote of the week was a short one.

Huff surpassed Agholor Wednesday with, “I’m a professional athlete. What professional athlete don’t have a gun?”

Huff admitted he made a “terrible decision,” but he doesn’t exactly sound contrite. He might want to brush up on sounding apologetic before he has to go to court.

It’s clear that the Eagles have receiver issues on and off the field.

Just when thought the Eagles’ receiver situation couldn’t get any worse …

*****

PEDERSON’S PROBLEM: The Josh Huff incident has created a situation that Doug Pederson doesn’t need on his plate as a first-year head coach. On Wednesday, Pederson said that Huff won’t be suspended by the Eagles – for now.

Pederson said the plan if for Huff to play Sunday against the Giants. That’s a mistake. At the very least, Huff should be made inactive for Sunday’s game.

This issue is bigger than Huff. Linebacker Nigel Bradham was arrested twice this summer, once for assault and once on gun charges after a loaded gun was found in his backpack at an airport. Bradham’s first-half playing time was reduced during the loss to the Lions, but Pederson denied that the reduced playing time was related to Bradham’s gun charges.

Nelson Agholor was investigated for an alleged sexual assault incident at a strip club, although no charges were filed. Lane Johnson did not commit a crime, but he violated the NFL performance-enhancing drugs policy, earning a 10-game suspension.

Pederson needs to hold his players accountable for their actions. Playing Huff on Sunday would send the wrong message.

*****

DECISIONS, DECISIONS: The only positive for Doug Pederson concerning having to make a decision about Josh Huff is it shifts the spotlight away from Pederson’s decisions during Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys. Pederson deserves credit for the hurry-up offense that put the Cowboys on their heels and led to a touchdown. But he also made some dubious decisions.

Pederson has suggested he was too cautious during the first half when he didn’t take points off the board and go for the first down on fourth-and-1 after a penalty on the Cowboys during a field goal attempt. That’s debatable.

What’s not debatable is that it was a mistake to give the ball to rookie running back Wendell Smallwood his first touch of the game in the fourth quarter. Smallwood fumbled, setting in motion the events that would result in the erasure of a 10-point lead during the fourth quarter and, eventually, a defeat.

The play-calling in the middle of the fourth quarter after the Eagles reached the Dallas 32-yard line also has come under the microscope. Needing just a Caleb Sturgis field goal to push the lead to 10 points, making it a two-possession lead, Pederson called for a trick play – a pass thrown by Huff – a 2-yard run by Kenjon Barner, moving the ball well within Sturgis’ field-goal range, and then a swing pass to Darren Sproles that turned into a 6-yard loss when linebacker Sean Lee broke through and made a huge play.

With the Eagles already in field-goal range, and with a 7-point lead, the preferred play was to run the ball straight ahead. At worst, the Eagles would get a Sturgis field goal. Instead, the 6-yard loss pushed the Eagles to a less-certain 54-yard field goal attempt. Despite the fact that Sturgis made a 55-yard field goal before halftime, Pederson chose to punt from the 36 rather than attempt a long field goal, allowing the Cowboys to remain with a touchdown of tying the score.

*****

CITY OF CHAMPIONS? If the Indians avoid blowing a 3-1 series lead on Wednesday night in Game 7 against the Cubs, will Cleveland be known as the city of champions? After not winning a championship since 1964, a World Series title for the Indians would be Cleveland’s second championship this year, following the Cavaliers’ first-ever NBA title.

*****

REVERED TEMPLE: Overshadowed by the Eagles this fall has been a fine season by Temple’s football team. After a slow start, the Owls have won three straight games, moving to a tie atop the American Athletic Conference East Division. The Owls (6-3 overall, 4-1 AAC) are bowl eligible for a second straight season, the first time that has happened in school history.

Temple will play at Connecticut on Friday (7 p.m.). The Owls will then have two weeks off before finishing up its schedule at Tulane and at home against East Carolina. The Owls will look at this one game at a time, but, quietly, they have a legitimate opportunity to finish the regular season with a 9-3 record.

*****

PRIDE OF THE LIONS: Penn State turned around its season – and perhaps its program – with a shocking 24-21 victory over Ohio State, which was ranked second in the country. The Nittany Lions scored 17 unanswered points during the fourth quarter, triggering an avalanche of euphoria for the sellout whiteout crowd.

It appeared the Nittany Lions had an Ohio State hangover Saturday when they were tied at halftime with Purdue, but Penn State erupted for 45 points in the second half. The Nittany Lions have a genuine Heisman Trophy-caliber player in Saquon Barkley.

Penn State is ranked 12th in the first bowl playoff rankings. That’s a long way from head coach James Franklin being on the hot seat, which was a major topic of conversation earlier this year.

*****

STREAKING QUAKERS: Temple isn’t the only local team on a winning streak. Penn has won five straight. Offense gets the headlines, but a key for the Quakers is that they have not allowed a point during the first half in their past three games.

Penn (4-0 Ivy League), which has won 10 straight Ivy League games has an important game at Princeton (3-1 Ivy) on Saturday (noon). The Quakers host Harvard (4-0 Ivy) on Fri., Nov. 11 (8 p.m.) in a game that could decide who gets to wear the Ivy League crown.

*****

STREAKING UNION: On the positive side, the Union made the playoffs for the first time since 2011. On the negative side, the Union finished the season winless in its last eight games, including a 3-1 playoff loss to Toronto FC. An eight-game winless streak doesn’t give a team or its fan base a positive feeling entering the offseason.

*****

FIELD TRIP: The Phillies have two nominees for Golden Gloves: shortstop Freddy Galvis and outfielder Odubel Herrera. Galvis is a superb fielder. I hope he wins when the selections are revealed on Nov. 9.

On the other hand, Herrera doesn’t deserve to be nominated, so he certainly doesn’t deserve to win. Herrera takes bad angles to fly balls and makes other mistakes which don’t show up in boxscores as errors. The Phillies desperately tried to find an alternative in center field during the season, albeit without much success. Herrera should not be a finalist for Gold Glove.

*****

JOHNSON IN THICK OF RACE: Jimmie Johnson, shooting for a record-setting eighth NASCAR championship, earned a place in the championship race with a victory Sunday at the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville. The remaining eight drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup – the field started at 16 – will be reduced to four after the next two races. By winning Sunday, Johnson is assured of one of the four spots in the championship race in Homestead, Fla.

*****

JUMPING THROUGH HOOPS: Can college basketball season be here already? Villanova, ranked fourth in the preseason rankings, has an exhibition game Saturday (noon) against Indiana University of Pennsylvania before opening its schedule one week from Friday against Lafayette.

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for 28 years, dropped fewer passes in his lifetime than Eagles receivers have dropped this year.

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Side angle of Cody Parkey's missed field goal