Eagles

Eagles-Chiefs 5 matchups to watch

Eagles-Chiefs 5 matchups to watch

The Eagles were able to take down Washington in their opener but things don't get any easier. 
 
Now, they'll face a Kansas City team that knocked off the defending Super Bowl champions in Week 1. And Andy Reid has an extra few days to prepare; he usually uses those extra days to perfection. 
 
There will be plenty of familiarity on both sides of the field Sunday, but the bottom line is that the Eagles are going to a tough place to play against a really good team. It won't be easy to pull off a win. 
 
If they do, it'll likely be because they won these matchups: 
 
Kareem Hunt vs. Eagles run defense
Hunt fumbled on his first NFL carry but then rebounded to have one of the best performances from a rookie we've ever seen. Hunt picked up 246 yards from scrimmage (148 rushing, 98 receiving) — the most ever in an NFL debut. He also had three total touchdowns. 
 
So the Eagles will have their hands full. They'll need a team effort to bring him down. In his debut, Hunt forced eight missed tackles and averaged 4.0 yards after contact per attempt, according to ProFootballFocus. 
 
For the most part, the Eagles bottled up Washington's running backs in Week 1 with one major exception. Chris Thompson's 29-yard touchdown reception featured several missed tackles. The Eagles can't give Hunt extra chances as a runner or a receiver. 
 
Alshon Jeffery vs. Marcus Peters 
Jeffery didn't have a great debut with the Eagles and he didn't even face off against Josh Norman all day. Jeffery had just three catches for 38 yards against Washington and missed a couple of jump balls that would have been tough catches — but that's why they paid him. 
 
The Chiefs will certainly miss Eric Berry the rest of the season, but they still have Peters, one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Eventually, the Eagles hope Sidney Jones will follow in Peters' footsteps to be a great corner from the University of Washington. 
 
Tyreek Hill vs. Jalen Mills
Mills had a pretty good game Sunday. He picked up his first career interception and made a huge play on a jump ball in 1-on-1 coverage against Terrelle Pryor (see story). But the Eagles are definitely going to miss Ronald Darby (dislocated ankle). With Darby out, Mills is now the Eagles' top corner, but he simply doesn't have the same speed. A few times last Sunday, Pryor was able to run right past Mills. 
 
Now, Mills is about to see a whole different kind of speed. NBC did a great job explaining just how fast Hill is when they said his high school 200-meter time would have placed him sixth at the Olympics in Rio in 2016. That's nuts.

Jason Kelce vs. Bennie Logan 
We all know Kelce seems to struggle against some of the bigger and more powerful nose tackles in the league. Logan fits that bill, although the two know each other pretty well. They went against each other in practice for years, so they should both know each other's tendencies. This will be fun to watch. 
 
Mitchell Schwartz vs. Brandon Graham 
Graham had two sacks in the Eagles' opener last week and has a chance to do even more damage Sunday in Kansas City. He'll face off against Chiefs right tackle Schwartz, who had a decent opener himself but is coming off a year in which he gave up nine sacks, tied for the most among all offensive tackles, according to ProFootballFocus. There will be a chance to get pressure on the other side, too, against left tackle Eric Fisher. 
 
Bonus matchup: Student vs. teacher
I didn't want to include this in the five because Andy Reid and Doug Pederson are both offensive coaches, so it's not like their units are going to go against each other. But they're still facing off. This is a battle between Reid, who really gave Pederson his career, and Pederson, who owes him a lot. As CSN's Reuben Frank pointed out, Reid is 8-3 against his former assistants and is 3-0 against them since heading to Kansas City (see story). This one is even more unique because Pederson isn't just one of Reid's former assistants, he's one of his former players.

Timeouts are going to go fast in this game. 
 
"Yeah, obviously it's a tough task," Pederson said. "[Reid's] teams are always well-prepared. They're a disciplined group. You see that, very consistent in how they go about their preparation during the week. And listen, it just comes down to the preparation and hard work for them, and that's what he's done in his past. And I think sometimes, in my position, I don't want to put any added stress or pressure on myself to go perform."

Nigel Bradham catches a break in loaded gun case

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AP Images

Nigel Bradham catches a break in loaded gun case

It's been a positive few weeks for Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham.

He had arguably the best game of his NFL career in Week 6 against the Panthers, and he is now no longer facing second-degree misdemeanor charges for a legal issue dating back to 2016, Miami-Dade County court records show.

Bradham had a court date at 9:30 a.m. Monday; he was presumably represented by his attorney. 

TMZ Sports first reported that charges were dropped. 

Bradham, you'll remember, was arrested around this time last year at Miami International Airport for carrying a loaded weapon in a seldom-used zippered compartment of his backpack. 

"How does that happen?" Bradham said last year. "I forgot — it's as simple as that."

He's now off the hook.

"The state had no case against him and they found that it wasn't something he should be criminally sanctioned for," Bradham's attorney, Adam Swickle, told TMZ, also adding that Bradham had a valid concealed weapons permit.

The incident did prompt defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to offer maybe his best quote.

"You do dumbass things," Schwartz said, "pretty soon, you're going to be labeled as a dumbass."

In July, Bradham also avoided punishment for a felony battery charge he faced for an altercation with a Miami hotel worker in July of 2016. This July, he entered a deferred prosecution program to avoid jail time and to stay out of court. 

Without the legal issues hovering over his head, Bradham is playing his best football.

Rob's Rants: Sixers' issues, weak Week 7, Romo a future coach?

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USA Today Images

Rob's Rants: Sixers' issues, weak Week 7, Romo a future coach?

Fresh off a weekend that saw the Sixers drop two ugly games and an NFL Week 7 card that stunk to the high heavens, we are locked and loaded with plenty of ammunition and a prediction mixed in for the latest Rob's Rants. 

Sixers' start
I'm not in panic mode like some Sixers fans after their 0-3 start. They've played three teams that finished seeded 1, 2 and 3 respectively last season in the Eastern Conference in the Wizards, Celtics, and Raptors. Two of those games were on the road.

They have a difficult early schedule and won 28 games last season. However, there are some troubling early trends. Let's start with Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. There's great debate among some regarding Fultz's ugly looking shot. Ugly may be too kind. There are those who believe a shoulder injury is the cause of his changing his form. And there are others who fall in the camp that it's in his head, nothing physical.

Count me in the latter corner. As overly cautious as this organization has been since the Process started, there is no way they would put him out there if this was anything remotely serious. My guess — and it's just that — is that either Fultz or someone in his camp decided to tinker with his form for whatever reason. Why? I have no idea. Things were going pretty well for him. First overall pick, averaged 23.2 points per game in his lone year in college. He shot 47.6 from the floor and 41.3 from three-point range. His shot wasn't broken. His range, vision and handle are what made him the ideal fit in the Sixers' minds to play here alongside Ben Simmons. And they gave up a lot of to move up two spots to get him.

Fultz needs to go back watch his college highlight reel and forget about what's taken place since summer league action. The fact that he and Simmons refuse to shoot anything 12 feet or beyond in an NBA game is a massive issue.

The flip side of the duo's reticence to pose an outside threat is Joel Embiid's allergic reaction to going inside. He shot the ball pretty well last season from three (36.7 percent). We've seen the soft touch and the range, especially for a 7-foot-2 behemoth, and it's a nice complement to his game. But he's fallen way too in love with the jumper in general. He's 0 for 10 from three and shooting just 35 percent overall. That should never happen. Embiid blamed his teammates for not getting him the ball in the post after the Celtics loss. Sorry, big fella, it's not on them, it's on you to get to the block to get fed. Take advantage of that incredible combo of size and agility. Shooting threes and ill-advised drives where you turn the ball over need to stop. This one may be easier to correct than Fultz.

Two other bones to pick. The Sixers have been outrebounded in all three games, including the two Embiid played. That's want, that's effort. Whether we like it or not, Embiid is going to miss games — be it back-to-backs, coach's decision or whatever. The team can't just lay down like it did Saturday in Toronto. A 36-point defeat is unacceptable and embarrassing now that they have an actual NBA lineup, unlike years past. It's not panic time, but it is time to see more from this team.

Weak Seven
I love the NFL, it's my favorite sport. Even when the Eagles don't play like the last two weekends, I still thoroughly enjoy the Sunday action. But there is no way to polish this turd of a Week 7. The large majority of the games stunk, flat out. In 10 of the 14 games, the average margin of victory was 18.7 points. Three teams were shut out and three more scored seven or fewer points. You had matchups such as Jaguars-Colts, Chargers-Broncos, Bears-Panthers, Rams-Cardinals, Cowboys-49ers. You get the picture. Even Sunday night's matchup between last year's Super Bowl combatants, the Falcons and Patriots, turned into a dud. I get that because of injuries and underachieving, they can't all be instant classics. But this was bad. Even the NFL Redzone couldn't quell the stink coming off this dreck. The troubling thing is it wasn't just this past weekend, there's far more bad than good out there. People can blame player protests or cord-cutting for the ratings being down but maybe it's as simple as the product is not as good.

Coach Romo
As much as it pains me to say, Tony Romo is a good announcer. He is insightful, on top of the game and has juice. Does he over-talk at times? Yes. There's an art as both a play-by-play and color analyst to letting things breathe sometimes and Romo needs to learn this. This is only his first year. With time, he'll grasp this concept if he chooses to continue down this road. But the more I listen, the more I think his future is not in the booth but back on the field. Not as a player, but as a coach. His ability to predict and read defenses and his feel for situational football lend me to think coaching will be in his near future. He is beloved by Jerry Jones, and if the Cowboys fall short of the postseason this year or next, it would not surprise me a bit if Jones convinced him to take over the Cowboys. Jones has the deepest of pockets, so money will not be an issue.