Jerryd Bayless

Rob's Rants: Doug Pederson needs to give his new QB some help

Rob's Rants: Doug Pederson needs to give his new QB some help

Here's the latest edition of Rob's Rants in which NBC Sports Philadelphia's Rob Ellis does just that about the hottest topics in Philly sports.

I know you're feeling conflicted right now. The Eagles are 11-2, tied for the best record in the NFL. They've already clinched the NFC East. Home-field advantage and a playoff bye are a very real possibility. But the Carson Wentz injury is an equalizer and then some.

On the bright side, the Flyers steadied their sinking ship in Western Canada by winning three straight. But the Sixers have dropped four in a row. Maybe the Phils will land Jake Arrieta or Manny Machado? Dare to dream. You're up, you're down. Welcome to Philadelphia sports. So what better time to provide some nice, healthy Rob's Rants? Letting things out can be therapeutic and after the Wentz news, I need to vent a little.    

Run-pass-option
It's hard to find fault with Doug Pederson this season. He's done an excellent job game planning and having his team prepared week in and week out, and his most impressive work has been his ability to overcome injuries. The Eagles have lost Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Darren Sproles, Chris Maragos, just to name a few. All of the above represent major core pieces and Pederson's team is 11-2. Losing Wentz trumps them all and presents the head coach's biggest challenge. So look at this not so much as a rant but a plea to Doug P. moving forward.     

Nick Foles entered the Rams game late in the third quarter with the Eagles trailing 35-31. Certainly a difficult spot for any backup. He hadn't taken a meaningful snap all season. Logic would dictate emphasizing the run to let him get his feet wet. This was not the late fourth quarter, no timeouts, need to move down the field quickly type of circumstances. Further, the Eagles have three very capable running backs.

Pederson elected to throw the ball five straight times and called pass plays on eight of nine in the possession. The Birds did wind up getting a field goal on the drive and Foles completed three passes, but you wonder if it's the wisest move to drop Foles back that much, that quickly. I know Doug has been aggressive all season and that in part has helped the Eagles get where they are, and I'm also well aware of the heat he took by many (including me) for being too passive in the Seattle loss. But with Foles' lack of mobility in the pocket and the left side of the Eagles' offensive line struggling mightily against the pass rush, a bigger dose of the run could have made his transition back to starter a little smoother. But beyond the Rams game, balance and a commitment to the run will be Foles' best friend, along with a strong defense.    

Sixers' struggles
It's one thing to lose in Cleveland and New Orleans, especially without Joel Embiid for both games and Robert Covington vs. the Pelicans. It's another to drop home games to the likes of the Suns and the Lakers prior to those defeats. For that, there is no excuse. The Sixers have lost four in a row and stand at 13-13. They continue to turn the ball over at an alarming rate and of late have not come to play to start games, particularly at home. Some of this can be chalked up to youth. Some not so much.

They are losing far too many 50-50 balls. Too many offensive rebounds and second chances allowed. That's just hustle and want. They also need veterans like Jerryd Bayless to be better, especially in the absence of T.J. McConnell. I've pointed this out before in this space but the Sixers are beyond losing to the NBA's dregs. It would also be nice to get the No. 1 overall pick from this past draft on the floor at some point.    

Army-Navy
Let's close out this Rob's Rants on two positives. First, the 118th edition of Army-Navy football was played Saturday right here in Philadelphia. It is everything that is right about sports and our country. The men doing battle on that field at the Linc put sports into the context it deserves. Battle hard on the field, win or lose, respect to your opponent, represent our service men and women and country. Then it's on to further protecting and serving. They are truly unique individuals. And to have it played in the snow in such a cool setting was awesome.

DJ and the Kernal
Lastly, Dick Jerardi and Mike Kern both recently announced their retirements from the Philadelphia Daily News. They were as good of writers as this city has ever seen. They were even better people. I grew up reading them and had the opportunity as an adult to work with them professionally as a producer, then as a host and the pleasure was all mine. They knew of what they wrote, you learned something every time you read them, and they provided a sense of humor while doing it. Nothing beat our yearly Daily News Live Christmas Eve shows with Hall of Famer John Chaney. Their bylines will be missed.

Deck stacked against Sixers tonight in Boston

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USA Today Images

Deck stacked against Sixers tonight in Boston

After earning a strange, roundabout victory at home Wednesday night over the Wizards, the Sixers are in Boston tonight and they're undermanned.

Joel Embiid will sit in the second game of a back-to-back. This is only the Sixers' second back-to-back set of the season — the NBA lengthened the schedule this year to reduce back-to-backs and situations where teams played four games in five nights.

The last time the Sixers sat Embiid as part of a back-to-back, they were destroyed in Toronto 128-94, their largest loss of the season.

In addition to missing Embiid, the Sixers will also be without backup point guard T.J. McConnell, who won't play after suffering a left shoulder contusion Wednesday night.

Brett Brown said after the Wizards game that in a "twisted way," he's looking forward to seeing how an undermanned Sixers team measures up against the 18-4 Celtics.

"We'll go to Boston without Jo and T.J. and we'll fight," he said.

McConnell had been rolling before getting hurt against the Wizards, averaging 11.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists over his last four games while shooting 61 percent from the field and 3 for 4 from three.

With McConnell out, it would ordinarily be expected for floor general Ben Simmons to play additional minutes. But keep in mind that Simmons played a career-high 41 minutes last night and was questionable heading into that game with a sprained ankle.

Jerryd Bayless (14 points, four assists in 26 minutes vs. Washington) should see an uptick in playing time.

The last time the Sixers played the Celtics — a 102-92 loss on Oct. 20 — Embiid had 11 points and 14 rebounds but shot just 4 of 16 from the field and 0 for 6 from three. The Sixers shot just 38 percent that night against Boston's top-rated defense. (The Celtics have a defensive rating of 98.3, which is a full point better than the next-best team, the Blazers.)

It could still be a game, though, even with Embiid and McConnell out. The Celtics own the NBA's best record but have lost two of their last four games. As of Wednesday morning, the Celtics were favored by nine points. Boston hasn't played since losing to Detroit at home on Monday.

Sixers down 4 players tonight vs. Clippers

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Sixers down 4 players tonight vs. Clippers

It looks like the Sixers (6-6) will be without four players tonight as they continue their road trip against the LA Clippers (5-7).

Jerryd Bayless (wrist), Nik Stauskas (ankle) and Markelle Fultz (shoulder) have been ruled out. Jahlil Okafor is doubtful with an upper respiratory infection.

Bayless, who was re-evaluated Saturday, is also listed as doubtful for Wednesday's game against the Lakers. 

Stauskas will be re-evaluated in 7 to 10 days.

This will be the ninth straight game Fultz has missed, the fourth in a row for Bayless and the third in a row for Stauskas.

Okafor has played just three minutes (at Utah) in the last 21 days.

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jessica Camerato contributed to this report.