Eagles

Ronald Darby's Twitter blocking spree was lame

ap-eagles-ronald-darby.jpg
AP Images

Ronald Darby's Twitter blocking spree was lame

Sixers' frustrations, thin-skinned players, and a hate-the-face are the focus of the latest Rob's Rants. Enjoy. 

Block party
Full disclosure, I've done my fair share of blocking on Twitter. Inappropriate language, appropriating something false, trolling, overall jackassery is grounds in my eyes for a block. What I don't block for is a disagreement on a sports take of mine. That's what I do for a living, and it would be quite boring if we all agreed on everything. Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby, as you can see below, took to Twitter to announce he's going to block fans and media members alike who criticize him.

Darby has since deleted two of those three tweets.

And while I'm sure many that crossed the line were worthy of getting "Mutombo-ed," I'm not really sure announcing it is the best course of action, especially after getting toasted for most of the Giants game. The appearance he is concerned or devoting his time to anything other than getting better on the field is not a great look. All the troll or "halfway fan" wants is a rise from him and he gave it to them. Athletes are human, and negative comments hurt us all, but Darby needs to avoid going public with this kind of nonsense.

What the Fultz is going on here?
The Sixers have lost seven of eight. That includes home defeats at the hands of the Suns and Kings — two of the NBA's worst teams. They are a turnover waiting to happen. Did I mention they're not getting nearly enough from their high-priced free agents? 

Also, despite being very willing, they have not been able to consistently knock down a three-point shot. Ben Simmons is allergic to any shot beyond the paint. And not to bury the lede, Joel Embiid could miss up to four total games now after his 49-minute, triple-overtime, Herculean effort in a gut-wrenching loss Friday to the Thunder. So things are not so rosy in Sixer-land right now. Help is needed. 

Which leads us to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft. Remember him? Markelle Fultz. The same guy who hasn't played since the fourth game of the season. The same dude who the hyper-cautious Sixers thought was healthy enough to play through his shoulder issue? The same cat who shot the ball better than 41 percent from three in his lone year in college while also being able to finish at the basket and has a great handle. The guy the Sixers traded the third overall pick and either the Lakers 2018 or Kings 2019 first-round pick for. In other words, they gave up a lot.

Fultz apparently injured the shoulder at some point prior to the regular season. Then to compensate, he developed an ugly shooting form which led to bad results. The organization said nothing was wrong structurally, he can play through it. Fultz's camp thought otherwise and eventually, he was shut down. That was Oct. 23. We sit here nearing Christmas and the New Year and all we've gotten are these vague updates about how the soreness has subsided but no real idea when he'll get back on the floor. Even by Sixers standards, this one has been bizarre and frustrating. But the bottom line is, this team desperately needs what Fultz brings to the table. He can create his own shot, he can knock down a three, and most importantly, he can provide another scoring option when Embiid is not on the floor. It's time he starts playing and delivering for a team that needs a life preserver right now.

Hate the face
Is there anyone in sports that combines arrogance, smugness, entitlement, and a face that makes you want to go through the TV more than Lane Kiffin? Few come to mind that encompasses all of those wonderful traits but the Laner has them all in spades. To his credit, he turned around the Florida Atlantic program in his first year there, winning Conference USA and a bowl game. And he's had success as an offensive coordinator, but listening to him for an extended period of time and knowing some of the stuff he's pulled in his various coaching stops, it's no wonder he's not just burned bridges but also taken a flame-torch to them. FAU's next. 

On that note, happy holidays to one and all.

Lane Johnson using underdog status to raise money for Philly schools

lane.jpg

Lane Johnson using underdog status to raise money for Philly schools

How do you turn being a home underdog into a good thing? Use it as motivation to win a football game.

How do you turn being a home underdog into a great thing? Raise money for Philadelphia schools and win football games. That’s what Lane Johnson is doing.

After the nation doubted the Eagles against the Falcons, Johnson and Chris Long donned dog masks after divisional round win, embracing the role of underdogs. Now, Johnson has his own T-shirt and is raising money. A lot of it, too.

Shirts can be purchased at lj65.shop for just $18 and Johnson tweeted that more than 3,000 have already been sold.

Hopefully, the home dogs continue to eat this weekend against the Vikings.

Game-winning stand just another play for Eagles' defense

ap-eagles-graham-mills.jpg
USA Today Images

Game-winning stand just another play for Eagles' defense

There were no special instructions. No extraordinary measures taken. Not much was said. Not much needed to be said.

The game was on the line. The season was on the line. For the Eagles' defense, it was just another play. The stakes were just incredibly high.

It was 4th-and-goal for the Falcons at the Eagles' 2-yard-line in the final seconds Saturday.

Give up a touchdown, and the season's over. Stop the Falcons and you're one game closer to the Super Bowl.

"Our guys, we don't do a whole lot," Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. "Our guys know what to do, and they have downloaded that software enough that it's a little bit automatic for them.

"We also didn't change. We don't surprise the players. What we practiced in our red-zone period is what we played."

The Falcons had already driven from their own 24-yard-line down to the 2-yard-line.

Their quarterback, Matt Ryan, has the fourth-highest passer rating in NFL postseason history, behind Jeff Hostetler and Hall of Famers Kurt Warner and Bart Starr.

That's what the Eagles' defense was up against.

"At that point, you sort of have to trust the players and the players have to trust the scheme," Schwartz said. "I think you saw a combination of both of those. We didn't feel the need to blitz. Played coverage, played good technique."

The clock showed 1:05.

Ryan’s two favorite receivers, Julio Jones and Mohamad Sanu, both lined up on the right side of the formation, Jones outside with Jalen Mills on him and Sanu in the slot with Malcolm Jenkins covering him in a battle of North Jersey natives.

Ryan took the shotgun snap from center Alex Mack at the 7-yard-line and immediately rolled to his right, retreating to the 10 as he neared the sideline.

Nigel Bradham, lined up as the left linebacker, trampled blocking tight end Levine Tollolo, who had his hands full with Brandon Graham, and ran around guard Wes Schweitzer, giving him an angle on Ryan. 

Meanwhile, Vinny Curry, after getting cut blocked to the ground by Falcons running back Tevin Coleman, quickly bounced back up and began pursuing from Ryan’s left. 

Ryan pumped once toward Sanu, who was covered by Jenkins. He quickly looked left but saw only Curry closing in. Thanks to the pressure, he had to quickly backpedal back to the 14-yard-line and finally was forced to unload that lob toward Jones at the right sideline in the end zone.

At that point, it was up to Mills, who had Jones blanketed, and the rest is history.

The ball went through Jones’ hands, his feet came down out of bounds anyway, and after an agonizing moment looking for flags, the play was over.

"A lot gets made of what Jalen did, rightfully so," Schwartz said. "You're talking about a Pro Bowl, All-Pro receiver, 1-on-1. But Malcolm playing the seven route to Sanu and Rodney (McLeod’s) ability to help him leverage that, that was because he's looking for Julio Jones first.

"Julio slips, he's looking for Sanu, nowhere to go and now he has to re-rack that thing and by then, Nigel is closing down on him and everything else.

"If Malcolm doesn't get that route that he covered, if he doesn't get that covered, nobody's talking about Jalen Mills right now."

Mills was physical with Jones but not physical enough to draw a flag. Schwartz said Mills has made huge strides this year with his technique, and on the biggest play of his life, his technique was perfect.

"It's one thing to have confidence, but that's just not the sole requirement for the position," Schwartz said.

"There's a lot of technique that goes along with playing, and I think if you look at that last play, he did a great job of staying square. Meaning his shoulders were perpendicular to the line of scrimmage.

"What the receiver there is trying to do is get you turned so he can come back for the ball. He could never get Jalen turned."

Mills is 23 years old, a second-year pro, a former seventh-round pick, a first-year starter.

To think that he made one of the most historic plays in Eagles postseason history is remarkable.

"I think every player makes a big jump from year one to year two, as far as knowledge of scheme and knowledge of opponents and things like that," Schwartz said.

"(Defensive backs coach Cory) Undlin and Jalen have worked really hard. He's haunted the hallways quite a bit, even on off days this year, just trying to improve his technique. It hasn't been by chance that his technique has gotten better. It's a lot of hard work that's gone into it from a coaching standpoint and from a player's standpoint."

The bottom line is that this defense has played tremendous football all year.

And with the season on the line, everybody simply went out and did their job. Nothing more, nothing less.

"I just think a part of our success is our guys just understand what's asked of them in the schemes," Schwartz said.

"They communicate well. We don't make a lot of mistakes, mental mistakes, and I think that makes it hard to drive the ball on us.

"When you get into those situations where is it's closed quarters and you don't have to defend deep balls, our guys have a good understanding of what opponents are going to do. I was proud of them on that play."