Eagles

Rob's Raves: A classy, passionate weekend from Philly sports fans

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Rob's Raves: A classy, passionate weekend from Philly sports fans

This space is usually reserved for my rants. I’ll sound off on things that have my ire that took place in the world of sports and beyond. They usually pertain to the Philadelphia sports scene. Truth be told, it’s therapeutic for me to let it out. Well, no counseling session or venting needed this week. There is just too much good to throw verbal darts. The Rants will be on hiatus for the moment, though I can’t promise they won’t return later in the week. But for now, we’re all about the love in this week’s Rob’s Raves.

Fandom
It was a pretty amazing showing by the Philadelphia sports fans on both coasts. Let’s start on the west side, where a green wave engulfed Carson, California. Eagles fans always travel well, but the combination of a trip to Cali, an indifferent fan base in L.A., at best, and a small venue turned the StubHub Center into Philadelphia West. Birds fans took over. Whether you watched on television or listened on the radio, you knew regardless of geography, that was an Eagles home game. And it was not unnoticed by the team’s players and coaches. 

The fans were as dominant as the Birds' running attack. 

From Carson to University City, more specifically the hallowed halls of The Palestra. The Sixers held a Blue-White scrimmage there Sunday on Penn’s campus and they sold it out. I don’t care if the tickets were free — to get nearly 9,000 people to show up for an in-squad scrimmage speaks to a couple of things. First, this fan base is ravenous for this Sixers team. Home games are going to have playoff atmospheres night in and night out this season. There will be a distinct home-court advantage at the Wells Fargo Center. Second, it just furthers how in-tune and passionate the Philadelphia fans are in general. Not to mention the timing was perfect — the scrimmage tipped off at 1 p.m. and the Eagles kicked off at 4:05.        

We can’t forget about Phillies fans. The club finished with the third-worst record in baseball and the first half of their season was beyond miserable. But thanks to a much-needed and in some cases way-too-late infusion of youth, they not only started winning more but dare I say it, also became fun to watch.

On Friday, GM Matt Klentak and the organization decided that Pete Mackanin was not their guy going forward to manage the team. Mackanin inherited some of the worst rosters in modern baseball history in his two-plus seasons in Philadelphia. As a result, his teams lost a lot of games. But when Nick Williams and Rhys Hoskins and guys who could actually play came up, a funny thing happened — they started to win. The club finished the second half 37-38 after going 28-58 in the first half with the likes of Michael Saunders and Brock Stassi. Mackanin presented the lineup card Sunday in his last game as skipper and as he emerged from the dugout to walk to home plate, he received a standing ovation from the Philadelphia faithful.

Class personified by the fans.   

Ground and pound
While the love fest rolls on we must give some to Doug Pederson. I, for one, have been critical of Pederson's pass-run balance or lack thereof in the past. The Chiefs game was a low point. But credit Pederson with seeing the error of his ways and not only gaining some balance but also committing in a big way to the run game. The last two weeks, the Birds have run the ball 81 times for 407 yards. Not coincidentally, they won both games and Carson Wentz has not thrown an interception during that time span.

The 6-minute, 44-second drive to close out the Chargers game was a masterpiece. L.A. knew what was coming and still couldn’t stop the Eagles' ground attack. Credit the offensive line and the backs for executing in a big way. But kudos go to the play-caller, Pederson, for his commitment. He dialed up a great game against the Chargers.

How 'bout 'dem ...
OK, I couldn’t help myself. I was getting a little too syrupy. As if the Eagles' winning and going to 3-1 on the season wasn’t sweet enough for the fans, you had the exacta of a Cowboys loss and Giants collapse late Sunday afternoon. New York is winless and its season is over. The Cowboys are now 2-2 and just one loss shy of their total from all of last season. Dallas lost at home to a Rams team that is vastly improved but still won just four games last year. 

In addition to the Eagles' 3-1 start, the Flyers and Sixers are both undefeated. Indeed, these are good times in Philadelphia sports.

Hudrick's 2018 NFL mock draft 1.0

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Hudrick's 2018 NFL mock draft 1.0

Mock draft season is here. The Super Bowl Champion Eagles will hold the No. 32 overall pick. Here is Paul Hudrick's mock draft 1.0 to get you ready for the 2018 NFL draft in Arlington, Texas. 

1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC (6-4/220)
Darnold has work to do mechanically, but his intangibles are off the charts. Mentally and as a leader, he has what it takes to make it in Cleveland. He'd benefit from watching behind DeShon Kizer to start the season.

2. New York Giants – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA (6-4/218)
If it were me, Rosen is the guy if I'm taking at quarterback. His footwork and toughness in the pocket are second to none in this draft. There are questions about his maturity, but moments like this make me believe he'll be just fine.

3. Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State (6-4/275)
The Colts need an impact pass rusher and Chubb is the best there is in this draft. He's also a nasty customer, something Indy could use a little more of.

4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans) – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State (5-11/223)
You already drafted your future franchise QB, now give him a serious weapon to work with. Sure, there are things Barkley needs to improve on, but he has the potential to be a perennial All-Pro.

5. Denver Broncos – Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame (6-5/329)
With Darnold and Rosen gone, the Broncos pick the best offensive lineman in the draft. Of all the players in the draft, Nelson seems like the most can't-miss prospect. He has the potential to make the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

6. New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (6-1/220)
This is where things get interesting. You might look at Mayfield and think his antics and off-the-field issues wouldn't fly in New York. I look at it like this: What prospect has dealt with more scrutiny over the past year than Mayfield? I see a Kirk Cousins-like QB with a little more attitude.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama (6-1/201)
This is a perfect fit. Fitzpatrick is a versatile DB who will help fix the Bucs' biggest flaw. Fitzpatrick can cover, has excellent range and he's physical. Easily the best safety in this draft.

8. Chicago Bears – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama (6-1/190)
When mock drafts first started coming out, Ridley wasn't regarded as a top-10 pick. I have no idea why. This guy has it all. He's an explosive and precise route runner who can be effective catching balls all over the field. He's a true No. 1 receiver, which the Bears desperately need.

9/10. Oakland Raiders (coin flip) – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia (6-1/225)
Smith earned being a top-10 pick after his play during the CFP. He's a monster. He plays sideline-to-sideline and will be a welcome addition to a Raiders' defense that has some pieces but has struggled.

9/10. San Francisco 49ers (coin flip) – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa (6-1/192)
Jackson fits the mold of the modern corner with his length and ability to press. He's also showed the ability to play off and excel in zone. The 49ers will be an intriguing team next season and Jackson will add to that.

11. Miami Dolphins – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech (6-5/250)
Edmunds possesses unbelievable size and athletic ability. He'll excel at blitzing and covering tight ends at the next level.

12. Cincinnati Bengals – Connor Williams, OT, Texas (6-6/320)
The Bengals clearly made a mistake in letting Andrew Whitworth go to the Rams. Their first step in rectifying that would be to take the best tackle in the draft.

13. Washington Redskins – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming (6-5/223)
You've all likely heard it by now: Allen has all the physical tools, he just needs work. Well, it's absolutely true. From a physical standpoint, there isn't a more gifted QB in this draft. Give him a couple seasons to sit behind Alex Smith and hope Jay Gruden can get the most out of Allen.

14. Green Bay Packers – Arden Key, EDGE, LSU (6-6/265)
Key was a beast his sophomore season (11 sacks), before a junior year mired by injuries and inconsistency. He has all the tools to be a disruptive NFL edge rusher. Can the Packers get it out of him?

15. Arizona Cardinals – Orlando Brown, OL, Oklahoma (6-8/360)
With the top four quarterbacks off the board, the Cardinals look to bolster their offensive line. Brown is a road grader that should help pave the way for star RB David Johnson. Does Brown have enough athleticism to play the left side? I believe he does.

16. Baltimore Ravens – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU (6-4/218)
Sutton is an interesting case. He has great size and is pretty quick for a bigger receiver. He dominated in the American Conference and should test well at the combine. His stock could rise, but he'd be a great fit for the Ravens.

17. Los Angeles Chargers – Vita Vea, DT, Washington (6-4/344)
Putting Vea on the inside with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on the outside seems unfair. He's the most athletic 344-pounder I've ever seen.

18. Seattle Seahawks – Derwin James, S, Florida State (6-3/215)
James was once thought of as a top-10 talent but struggled last season coming off an injury. He's the type of physical, versatile player that will thrive in Seattle and possibly replace Kam Chancellor.

19. Dallas Cowboys – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama (6-2/308)
Payne showed how disruptive and dominant he can be in the National Championship Game. If the Cowboys can get that player to show up every week, he'll be giving the Eagles trouble for years.

20. Detroit Lions – Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA (6-6/255)
There may not be a player riding a bigger hype train than Davenport. He has great measurables, was extremely productive and should test well. The Lions are perpetually in need of pass rushers.

21. Buffalo Bills – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan (6-2/282)
There are a few mocks out there that have Hurst ahead of Payne. I will say that Hurst was a more consistent player this season, but Payne is younger and has a bigger upside. Still, Hurst should help the Bills immediately.

22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs) – Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado (6-1/190)
Like Jackson, Oliver fits the mold of the prototypical NFL corner. He also fits the mold of what head coach Sean McDermott has looked for in his corners.

23. Los Angeles Rams – Denzel Ward, CB, OSU (5-10/191)
I'm not as high on Ward as others. I thought he got bullied by bigger receivers. With that said, he has excellent footwork and speed to mirror receivers up and down the field.

24. Carolina Panthers – Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College (6-3/250)
Landry would've probably gone around this range if he'd come out last year (16 1/2 sacks). He wasn't as productive this season (five sacks) but is certainly worth a shot here for the Panthers.

25. Tennessee Titans - Billy Price, C, OSU (6-4/312)
The Titans have bookend tackles but could use help in the middle. Price's issue might be that he's a little too aggressive at times. Better than the alternative. He's tough, athletic and plays with an edge.

26. Atlanta Falcons – Will Hernandez, G, UTEP (6-2/348)
Hernandez is the second-best guard in this draft. He had a nice week at Senior Bowl that will likely make him first-rounder.

27. New Orleans Saints – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama (6-3/234)
Evans would've looked great in midnight green, but I don't see any way he gets to pick 32. Recruited as a pass rusher, Evans became an inside 'backer for Nick Saban. That versatility should serve him well as a 4-3 OLB.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn (6-1/203)
I like Davis more than Ward, but going off the hype, I'll mock Davis here. Joe Haden doesn't seem like a candidate to return for the Steelers and they could use more help at corner.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (6-3/200)
The Jags are giving Blake Bortles another shot. Taking Jackson hedges their bets. No doubt Jackson has work to do with his mechanics and accuracy (though he's much improved), but putting him in the same backfield as Leonard Fournette with a dominant defense would be awfully intriguing.

30. Minnesota Vikings – Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia (6-2/300)
The Vikings' O-line was vastly improved in 2017, but could still use more help. Wynn provides versatility, having played left tackle for the Bulldogs but projecting as a guard at the next level.

31. New England Patriots – Mike Hughes, CB, UCF (5-11/191)
This is an interesting spot. If Rob Gronkowski decides to retire, look for South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert as a possibility. With Malcolm Butler on his way out, Hughes could make a solid tandem with Stephon Gilmore.

32. Philadelphia Eagles – Taven Bryan, DT, Florida (6-4/291)
If Beau Allen leaves in free agency, the Eagles are left with Destiny Vaeao and 2017 sixth-round pick Elijah Qualls at DT. With Jim Schwartz's D-line rotation, they'll need more depth and competition at the position. Enter Bryan. Don't be fooled by the lack of production (four sacks in 2017), Bryan has impressive physical traits that will translate to the NFL. He's an attacking style player, the perfect fit for Schwartz's scheme. He's got a quick first step and consistently blows offensive lineman off the ball. Asking him to be a rotational piece, especially in pass rush situations, would be the ideal way to bring him along.

Movie about former Eagle's life in the works

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Movie about former Eagle's life in the works

Pretty soon, you'll be able to see Jon Dorenbos' incredible story on the big screen. 

Producer and Philly native Mike Tollin, thanks to the Eagles' Super Bowl win, is fast-tracking a movie about Dorenbos' life, according to Deadline Hollywood. 

Tollin has been involved other sports films such as Summer Catch, Radio and Coach Carter.

This movie, which will be based on a book Dorenbos is writing with Larry Platt, will be based around Dorenbos' story back to when he used his magic as a coping mechanism to deal with childhood tragedy. 

For those who don't know his story, Dorenbos was just 12 years old when his father murdered his mother. Long before he became a professional long-snapper for the Eagles, Dorenbos used magic as an escape from reality. He continues to perform magic and was a hit on America's Got Talent.

Dorenbos, 37, played 11 seasons in Philadelphia before he was traded to the Saints last offseason. Upon his arrival in New Orleans, doctors found an aortic aneurysm. That ended his football career and sent him for open-heart surgery. 

Even though he wasn't a part of the roster, Dorenbos was included during the Eagles' playoff run. He was in Minnesota when the Birds won the Super Bowl, he paraded down Broad Street, and he's getting a Super Bowl ring. 

"Jon and I have been talking about this for a while, and I once told him we needed a third act, but I didn't mean nearly killing himself," Tollin told Deadline. "This is about overcoming obstacles and turning tragedies into positives and the story is so unlikely that I thought we'd need a coda to say the story was true. We have that, with Jon and the beautiful wife he just married, Annalise, in the parade with confetti falling on their heads."

Dorenbos told Deadline that going with Tollin, whom he has known for a while, was an easy decision and he sold him the book option for $1. 

There's no release date yet, but because of the recency of the Super Bowl win, the plan is to fast-track the movie. Tollin said the plan is to have the movie out by the time the Eagles are starting to defend their title in next year's playoffs. He said he's already talking to an A-list star about the project. 

"I have learned that the sooner you accept your reality, the sooner you can look at the positives in life," Dorenbos told Deadline. "My reality was that I lost both of my parents. My dad went to prison and my mom was killed. My sister and I stayed with a temporary foster family for a bit, until my aunt, my mom's sister, got custody of us. I loved magic. It was really the only time that I didn't think about all the crap, the counseling therapy, the grieving. I would sit at a table, shuffle cards and learn moves, for 10 hours at a time. As a kid, it taught me it was OK to be alone and work toward something. 

"I am a slow, pudgy white guy who never thought he would play football. I made two Pro Bowls and guess what? All I did was stay on the path and show up every day when others jumped off the path."