Cam Newton

Joel Embiid consults Cam Newton about playing in NFL

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Joel Embiid consults Cam Newton about playing in NFL

Joel Embiid is a fantastically large human who is skilled at many things: trash talk, Twitter, basketball, soccer ... so why not football?

Hey, you never know what JoJo's next move will be.

After reports of 76ers minority owner Michael Rubin having interest in purchasing the Carolina Panthers surfaced over the weekend, Embiid tweeted to Panthers quarterback Cam Newton about a potential sport change.

ESPN's report on Rubin's interest mentions his close ties to Embiid, "Rubin's youth and personality are among the reasons he has grown close to some pro athletes, including 76ers center Joel Embiid. If Rubin bought the Panthers, he would have to sell his stakes in the 76ers, Devils and Crystal Palace, per NFL rules."

Embiid tweeted as such, noting Rubin as "my guy."

Aye that's my guy so looks like I might have to switch sports @CameronNewton you need a wide receiver?

Cam Newton responded with some interesting use of texts and emojis, basically saying "come play."

ßØ¥ DÜH wė Ł₩¥§ ©ån gėt bėttėr @JoelEmbiid

So there you have it. Expect Joel Embiid to head for the NFL next season. Just don't expect him to play on a Thursday night game following a Sunday game.

The Panthers even did a cute little mock up:

Where Nick Foles ranks among 12 playoff QBs

Where Nick Foles ranks among 12 playoff QBs

The dozen quarterbacks whose teams made the playoffs vary in skill level, playoff experience and momentum.

Where does Nick Foles check in among the field, and where would a healthy Carson Wentz have landed? This order was not chosen based on one set metric, age or necessarily past accomplishments. This is also not about how they will be looked at once their careers are over.

1. Tom Brady
This one does not need much explanation. Brady has won five Super Bowls and been to seven. He is also a four-time MVP of the big game. And even at 39, he led the Patriots back to win from a 28-3 deficit in the second half of last year's Super Bowl.

2. Ben Roethlisberger
He's the only QB on the list other than Brady with multiple rings. Roethlisberger has won two. He also plays in an offense with a cadre of weapons, including the one-two punch of Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown (if healthy). He's participated in and won a ton of big postseason games.

3. Drew Brees
Unlike years past, the Saints' offense is not solely dependent on Brees' right arm. New Orleans has the best tandem running attack in football with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. However, Brees still threw for more than 4,000 yards and a 103.9 passer rating at the age of 39. Second-year wideout Michael Thomas is one of the more underrated players in the league, posting more than 1,100 receiving yards in both seasons.

4. Matt Ryan
This is where things tighten up a bit. Ryan's play and numbers have dipped from his 2016 MVP campaign. Kyle Shanahan's departure as the Falcons' offensive coordinator has had a major impact. But Ryan still has Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Devonta Freeman and the experience of getting to the big game last year. The big question is are the Falcons and Ryan still suffering from the hangover of that bitter collapse to the Patriots?

5. Cam Newton
Newton's pass-run ability is second to none among the remaining QBs. I put him behind Ryan because of the inconsistency of Carolina's passing game. Newton can look like a world-beater at times with his arm, but too many times his mechanics are off and his decision-making is poor, as evidenced by his 22-16 touchdown-interception ratio. But when he is in a zone, he is brutal to contain.

6. Alex Smith
I know what you're thinking. "This guy is a game manager who hasn't won any big ones." Smith threw for 4,042 yards, 26 touchdowns and five interceptions this season. He also has 12 TDs to just two interceptions in six postseason games. He's better than people give him credit for.

7. Jared Goff
Goff has no playoff experience. However, under the tutelage of first-year head coach Sean McVay, the second-year QB came into his own and proved worthy of being the first overall pick. The Rams will lean heavily on all-world running back Todd Gurley, which will make Goff's first exposure to the postseason much smoother.

8. Case Keenum
Keenum had shuttled between the bench and starting in his previous four seasons in the NFL. But when given a chance this year, he's played extremely well and done more than play not to lose. He also has an excellent trio of receivers in Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and TE Kyle Rudolph. People all season have been trying to write Keenum off or send him to the bench when Teddy Bridgewater returned from IR, but all Keenum did was win.

9. Marcus Mariota
The man many Eagles fans wanted during the Chip Kelly era has not quite lived up to the hype. Injuries and inconsistent play have defined Mariota's early career. He threw more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (13) this year but is still a threat with his legs.

10. Nick Foles
Tenth out of 12 does not exactly inspire hope for Eagles fans. I am a firm believer Foles should be the starter in the Eagles' divisional round game and barring injury, we should not see Nate Sudfeld. But there is no other way to spin this: Foles has been terrible since taking the reins from Wentz. He looks scared and hesitant in the pocket and his decision-making has been bad. However, he has started and played well in a playoff game, which should count for something. (I'm trying here.)

11. Tyrod Taylor
I'm not a big fan of either of these last two guys. That said, Taylor has done a decent job this season. He too can make plays with his legs to either move the chains or keep plays alive. The Bills hope to lean heavily on LeSean McCoy, who sprained his ankle in the season finale and is a game-time decision. Any kind of big deficit and the Bills are done.

12. Blake Bortles
The Jaguars' defense is why they are in the postseason. Bortles has been better than he was in years past but that's not saying much. Leonard Fournette and that ferocious defense are the combo-plate for the Jags to advance.

• • •

As for where Wentz would have ranked had he not gotten injured ... 

I would have placed him third behind Brady and Roethlisberger. Wentz doesn't strike me as the type who would have been swallowed up by postseason hype. His command of the Eagles' offense and feel for the NFL lead me to believe he would have thrived in that type of environment. Oh, what could have been.

Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Doug Pederson talks Carson Wentz's end zone dive

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Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Doug Pederson talks Carson Wentz's end zone dive

Everyone in the city of Philadelphia held their breath in the second quarter Thursday when Carson Wentz scrambled near the goal line and tried diving into the end zone throwing shoulder first.

Hearts were in throats all across the Delaware Valley as Wentz took on Panthers safety Mike Adams, even though the 6-foot-5, 237-pound Wentz has the size advantage on the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Adams. That's a golden arm at stake.

He was stopped short and threw a touchdown pass on the next play to tie the game 10-10. More importantly, he wasn't injured.

"Well, at the time, I thought he was going to score, quite honestly," Pederson said. "You don't really want your starting quarterback to lead with your throwing shoulder, but I understand, too, the situation, and him trying to get in the end zone. There was a lane at the time, but in this league, everything closed fast. Could he have gone lower? Sure. But at the same time, I think he just saw the end zone and was trying to get in."

Pederson, when asked, said plays like that and when he stands in and delivers the ball with a blitz coming at him, resonate with teammates. They appreciate his toughness and will to win.

Lazy Sunday
As you watch football games from your living room this weekend, know the Eagles are probably doing the same thing.

After Thursday night's huge win over Carolina and with their next game not until next Monday night, the Eagles are in what's almost like a little bye week.

Doug Pederson gave his players and coaches the entire weekend off. While the injured players stuck around this weekend to get treatment, the others were free to go and do whatever they want.

Pederson said he wanted them to get away and "think about the first six weeks." Those are going to be some happy thoughts. The Eagles are 5-1 and look like the best team in the NFC.

The Eagles were going to start looking at film of Washington Friday night, but they weren't planning on taking a deep dive into the division opponent until after Sunday.

Players will start reporting back to the NovaCare Complex on Monday and the team will have a light 10/10/10 practice Tuesday. The real week of practice doesn't begin until Thursday, which will be like a normal Wednesday. With the Monday Night Football game, the Eagles just push everything back one day.

"We've got three really good, exciting games coming up before our official bye [week], all at home," Pederson said. "So it will be an exciting week. Looking forward to it."

Barnett gets his first sack
Sort of.

Derek Barnett was able to hold onto Cam Newton's leg for dear life in the fourth quarter before Justin Hamilton came and took Newton down. The seven-yard sack was split between the two players, neither of whom had an NFL sack coming into the game.

"Cam's a big dude," Barnett said. "He was trying to get out. And he almost did."

Barnett hasn't been producing the way fans probably hoped for his rookie season. The all-time sack leader at the University of Tennessee and the 14th overall pick has gotten close but didn't get one until Thursday.

Does he think this first half sack will open up the floodgates?

"I mean, I feel good rushing the last few weeks," Barnett said. "I just have to keep being critical of myself. My coaches and teammates have to be critical of me, too. It's just getting more reps and stuff and everything will slow down for me. But I feel confident rushing and stuff. I just have to become smarter and when I get at the top of my rushes, learn what to do and what not to do. I just have to keep grinding. The best thing about coming to work is that everybody is pushing each other. It's fun coming into work and getting better."

In the locker room after the win, plenty of his teammates were ribbing Barnett about his first sack. He couldn't help but smile when he heard some of it. Hopefully, for the Eagles, there will be plenty more sacks to come for him.

A numbers game
The Eagles are 5-1. That means they have a really good shot of making the playoffs, but nothing is a done deal.

Before this season, there have been 225 teams in NFL history to win five of their first six games. Of them, 173 have made the playoffs. That means there's a 76.9 percent success rate. Those are pretty good odds. But you'll remember, the 2014 Eagles started the season 5-1 and failed to make it into the playoffs.

Pederson now has to make sure his players don't think they've accomplished everything yet.

"It's tough. It's a fine line because the players are — they're going to read and they're going to listen to all the media outlets on TV and stuff and just hear how people are talking about them and saying how good and how great they are," he said. "But [we have] to keep it real, too. That comes from me. Yeah, we're winning these games, but there is a lot to fix, a lot to correct as well. It's never perfect. [The] bottom line [is] we do want to win the game, but at the same time, I've got to keep them focused and grounded on — even some of the situational stuff still.

"We've got to eliminate the big play on defense. We've got to get better in the red zone on offense, and just keep working in those areas. We weren't as good on third down last night, so we've got to keep working that area. So just keeping them focused and detailed on those specific areas."

Best quotes from after Thursday's game
"It was tough. Maybe Carolina had a little bit of help tonight, them being at home. But we were able to overcome it; that was the most important part." — Rodney McLeod

"He was like, 'Man, I don't know who you is, but you a beast. And I'm like, 'You don't know who I am? You must not know football. But you know me today.'" — Nigel Bradham on his interaction with a Panthers player

"S---, it felt good. It felt like he's back to his normal self. Dominating, doing what he do." — Tim Jernigan on getting Fletcher Cox back

Random media guide note: Halapoulivaati Vaitai says the strangest thing he likes to eat is octopus.