Goal by Flyers in 3 playoff losses to Penguins

Trading Chase Utley was the right thing to do, both for the Phillies and for Utley. But that doesn’t make it any easier to bid farewell to one of the most popular players in franchise history.

Rhys Hoskins (pictured) certainly appears to be a foundation for the Phillies’ future, but who else cemented his place as part of the Phillies’ future? In the final Phillies Notebook of the season, Eric Fisher examines what we learned about the Phillies’ future from the 2016 season.

Eric Fisher’s weekly column about a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on the Jordan Matthews trade, two areas of concern for the Eagles (besides cornerback) and the Union’s trail blazing idea.

Archive for the ‘Eagles’ Category

Local teams on the rise

Posted by Eric Fisher On March - 31 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

This is an exciting time to be a Philadelphia sports fan. As if the Eagles winning their first Super bowl weren’t enough, it appears that all of our major professional teams are on the rise.

It’s difficult to say the Eagles are on the rise when they’ve already reached the mountain top. But the presence of Carson Wentz, with just two seasons under his belt, provides reason to believe that the Eagles can be contenders for the next decade.

The 76ers are overflowing with young talent. After several years of horrific basketball, the Sixers are on the rise. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric are terrific young talents. If Embiid can remain healthy, he might win an MVP Award. That trio is the core of an up-and-coming team that – if Embiid recovers from a concussion and broken left orbital bone – could make some noise during the postseason.

The Flyers also are receiving plenty of contributions from young players as they make their final push for the playoffs. The defense is anchored by the top pairing of Shayne Gostisbehere, in his third NHL season, and Ivan Provorov, in his second NHL season. Throw in rookie defensemen Travis Sanheim and Robert Hagg and it’s easy to see why the Flyers are optimistic about their future. Defenseman Sam Morin could join that group next season.

Meanwhile, second-year forward Travis Konecny is providing an important spark on offense. Forward Oskar Lindblom has also provided plenty of energy since being called up from the Phantoms. Although he seems as if he’s been around forever, leading scorer Sean Couturier is only 25.

The Philllies aren’t quite at the same stage as the Flyers and Sixers – or are they? It’s not out of the question that the Phillies make the playoffs this season. Although they have brought in some veterans during the offseason, the core of the team consists of young players reaching the big leagues. Rhys Hoskins, J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams and Scott Kingery provide plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the Phillies’ future.

Fans get to watch this youth movement play out across multiple stages. You can watch it in the stadium, on the court, on the ice or in the ballpark.

It’s exciting to watch a club build from the ground up. The Sixers were nearly at historic lows just a few years ago. Today, if Embiid gets healthy in time for the playoffs, they might be favored to win their first-round series and could be considered a threat to reach the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Flyers still need to make the playoffs, but it has been fun to watch the young defensemen take tremendous strides this season. The improvement of Konecny since he was moved to the top line alongside Couturier and Claude Giroux has been remarkable.

We hope to see similar growth this season from the young Phillies. Seeing some young pitchers join the young position players as building blocks for the future would be a welcome sight.

Although it’s cool to watch a team rise up from the bottom, none of our teams is quite on the ground floor any more, but it’s not too late to catch the elevator to the top.

What’s truly exciting is the possibility that the Eagles’ Super Bowl championship between a golden era of Philadelphia sports, much as the Broad Street Bullies winning the Stanley Cup did in 1974.

The Flyers won the Stanley Cup again the following season and reached the finals four more times during the next 14 years. The Phillies became perennial powers in the National League East, finally winning the franchise’s first World Series title in 1980. The Sixers appeared in the finals three times during the next decade before finally winning during the 1982-83 season. The Eagles didn’t win a championship, but they took a giant step forward, by advancing to Super Bowl XV.

There aren’t any guarantees in sports, but, with so many talented young players on our local professional teams, it’s possible that the Eagles’ Super Bowl champion could usher in another golden age of sports for our local teams.

In Howie we trust

Posted by Eric Fisher On March - 11 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

Has anyone’s reputation undergone a more positive transformation in the history of Philadelphia sports than Howie Roseman’s?

In the macho world of professional football, Roseman still looks and sounds like a dweeb. But you don’t hear the “he’s not a football guy” complaint any longer.

With NFL free agency starting on Wednesday, which is also the first day on which trades can be made, Eagles fans have complete trust in Roseman. And so does Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie.

It was only three years ago that Roseman lost a power struggle over personnel with then-head coach Chip Kelly. Lurie gave the power to Kelly, who banished Roseman to the “business” side of the Novacare Complex, a move referenced by center Jason Kelce during his infamous speech on the steps of the Art Museum at the end of the Super Bowl championship parade. “Promoted” from general manager to executive vice president of football operations, Roseman’s new responsibilities included overseeing the team’s medical staff and equipment staff, which became the fodder for numerous jokes.

But nobody’s laughing at Roseman anymore. Kelly is gone, Roseman’s power over personnel was restored and the Eagles, for the first time in franchise history, are Super Bowl champions.

Roseman’s fingerprints were all over the championship. He played a major role in hiring head coach Doug Pederson. He traded away Kelly acquisitions such as Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso and DeMarco Murray – along with their big contracts. (Only Alonso is still with the team to which he was traded.) Roseman used assets from those trades to move up in the 2016 NFL Draft to the second overall pick, which the Eagles used to select quarterback Carson Wentz. During last offseason, Roseman signed receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive end Chris Long and, perhaps most importantly, quarterback Nick Foles.

Roseman has already started wheeling and dealing this offseason. He has agreed to a trade with the Seahawks that would bring defensive end Michael Bennett to the Eagles. He then worked out a trade that sent Smith to the Panthers in exchange for a cornerback.

News of the trades was met with seemingly unanimous approval from Eagles fans. But it was more than approval. Many Eagles fans chortled at the acquisition of Bennett, a three-time Pro Bowler, and a seventh-round draft pick for little-used receiver Marcus Johnson and a fifth-round draft pick. Roseman didn’t simply make a good trade. He stole Bennett from the Seahawks.

The trade of Smith was also well-received. With the Eagles approximately $10 million over the salary cap, Smith, with a $5 million salary cap value, was likely going to be released. Instead, the Eagles acquired cornerback Daryl Worley from the Panthers in exchange for Smith. Eagles fans rejoiced at how smart Roseman was for making this move.

Whatever Roseman does when free agency begins Wednesday will be greeted with similar positivity. Roseman has a free pass to do whatever he pleases. That’s what happens when you help engineer a Super Bowl championship.

Players, such as defensive end Vinny Curry, will be released. New players will be signed. Roseman might even be able to trade Super Bowl and playoff hero Nick Foles without too much blowback.

Nobody’s worried about the Eagles getting under the salary cap. That was always one of the backhanded compliments given to Roseman and former Eagles president Joe Banner: they were the salary cap champions.

Now, however, they are the Super Bowl champions. And, as insane as it would have seemed to say this as recently as a year ago, the Eagles wouldn’t be champions if not for Roseman.

If the Eagles don’t successfully defend their championship next season, it won’t be because of complacency. The Bennett and Smith trades indicate that Roseman will be as aggressive this offseason as he was last offseason.

When you’ve endured the criticism and humiliation that Roseman did on his roller-coaster ride to the top, you know not to rest on your laurels.

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Embiid injured in collision with Fultz