The700Level

The 4th Annual KULPY Awards, Part 2

The 4th Annual KULPY Awards, Part 2

Welcome back, and a truly heartfelt apology for making you exert the effort to click through. There were simply too many prestigious folks to honor in Philly sports this year to contain it all on one web page with unlimited space. Plus, I’m sure we only lost roughly 90 percent of our audience with that stunt. To return to Part 1, click here.

 

If you happen to be one of the two or three who made it, we saved the best for last. Up next, it’s The Ryan Howard Memorial Award for Athlete or Sportsperson Most Inexplicably Still in Philadelphia for people who are really, really overstaying their welcome in the sports complex. P.S. We love you, Ryan, but for the love of all that is holy, please stop kidding yourself and retire.

(Nominees: Maikel Franco, Mychal Kendricks, Andrew MacDonald, Pete Mackanin, Jahlil Okafor)

How Kendricks and Okafor haven’t been traded, we’ll never know. Kendricks has been on the block for years now, and the times Okafor was reported to be on the move is into the double digits, easily. Franco is the latest Philly athlete being shopped, although the truly inexplicable part is why he hasn’t been demoted to Lehigh Valley at some point. As for MacDonald and Mackanin, well, obscene contracts tend to influence otherwise rational decision-making.

All excellent candidates, but only one can win this unique award. The KULPY goes to… I can’t believe this, it’s Mychal Kendricks!

We would genuinely love to know how Kendricks feels about the Eagles leaving his NFL career in a holding pattern, but he doesn’t speak to the media much these days. We know he was so anxious to get on the field, he took it upon himself to start practicing at long snapper last season. You kind of got the sense things weren’t going to work out for Kendricks in Philly in 2015, then Chip Kelly signed him to an extension. Now Kendricks is stuck, and Howie Roseman has shown little urgency to make a trade.

Of course, we could all be so lucky to be stuck at our jobs for $6.6 million in salary and bonuses.

 

While The KULPYs is all about having fun and making light of the games we love, it’s also worth taking time to remember these professional sports figures will not be around forever. The sacrifices it takes to make it in this industry, only to have endure the criticism of some dumb blogger once a year should not go overlooked. That’s why for the first time we are choosing to honor some of the ones we’ve lost through the years.

This video up top is a special tribute entitled In Memoriam: Eagles Cornerbacks We’ve Lost to Burns Since 2011. Feel free to pour one out for some of the brave athletes who fell victim to the job.

 

Heartbreaking. Anyway, It’s time for an award that has nothing to do with what’s happening on the field. This one is all about the biggest celebrity in local sports, as in people you’re likely to bump into at Wawa and actually notice who they are and care – sorry, T.J. McConnell. Presenting The QB Eagles Award for Most Recognizable Athlete in Philadelphia.

(Nominees: Jon Dorenbos, Joel Embiid, Claude Giroux, Carson Wentz, LeGarrette Blount)

I once thought I saw Wentz in the parking lot at the Linc before a game. In retrospect, I think it was actually his brother, but that just goes to show any random ginger looks like Wentz at a glance.  The only place I’ve see Giroux in the last year besides The KULPYs is on the side of a milk carton. And I’ve seen a lot of green Blount jerseys around town in recent months, but didn’t see much of Blount the running back at OTAs this spring, so not sure I’d recognize him, either.

There’s only two real possibilities, and the selection committee was worried one of them might make himself disappear if he won. That means The KULPY goes to Joel Embiid, naturally.

You can find Embiid anywhere these days, from the Home Run Derby in Miami, Florida, to your local park, telling your nine-year-old son to take his weak-ass game on home. Hell, even Rihanna was seen wearing an Embiid jersey, thanks to Photoshop – the lines people are willing to cross these days.

This award was virtually created for Embiid. No, really, it was created for Embiid. We kind of just wanted to see if he would Tweet about it.

 

It’s time for the real meat and potatoes of the show. We have two awards left, and they’re big ones. First up, it’s CSNPhilly.com’s The700Level’s Toyota Philadelphia Athlete of the Year brought to you by Dietz & Watson. Really, guys?

(Nominees: Joel Embiid, Pat Neshek, Dario Saric, Wayne Simmonds, Carson Wentz)

Congratulations to Neshek, who became the first Phillies middle reliever to make it to the All-Star game… ever? Certainly since before I was born. Simmons deserves recognition here as well for making his first All-Star game as well, and earning the MVP Award as well. Don’t get greedy now, Simmer. Wentz had an excellent rookie season as well, throwing for 3,782 yards officially, about 1,000 more in dropped passes.

A group of worthy candidates, but only one can be the winner, which is why the KULPY must go to… wait, it’s a tie! Joel Embiid and Dario Saric are co-Philadelphia Athletes of the Year!

The KULPYs are trying to right a wrong here and give some hardware to Embiid and Saric, who were robbed in the NBA’s Rookie of the Year voting. Sure, Embiid only played in 31 games, and these two were probably the oldest rookies since playing college basketball before going pro was a thing. Regardless, there’s no question either Embiid or Saric were more deserving than, uh… whoever won the damn thing. Doesn’t matter. It was a farce!

Shout out to Embiid, a rare double winner at The KULPYs. That might be a first. Anybody keeping track?

 

Finally, it’s time our most important and prestigious honor. This is The Competency Award for Philadelphia Sports Executive of the Year – always a tremendous barometer of the direction things are headed for the local franchises.

(Nominees: Bryan Colangelo, Ron Hextall, Matt Klentak, Howie Roseman, Sam Hinkie)

You actually have to hand it to Colangelo, Hextall and Roseman. The Sixers, Flyers and Eagles all appear relatively close to playoff contention, with a potential leap into championship material possibly in the near horizon. The last year has been rough, as almost the entire decade has been, but we feel good about the trajectories there. Hinkie deserves some credit for the Sixers’ position as well, even if he has been out of the job for 18 months now.

Yet, it was easier than you might think to choose a winner. The 2017 Competency Award for Philadelphia Sports Executive of the Year goes to… Matt Klentak!??

Another upset, to be sure, but we here at The700Level are big Process trusters, and, wow, is Klentak giving Hinkie a run for his money here. With a low payroll, shooting for lottery picks and on the cusp of trading assets and emerging talents, inevitably prolonging the rebuild, there’s truly no telling when the Phillies will be good again! And Klentak has been careful to avoid using words like “Process” and “tanking,” so Major League Baseball has no reason to step in and put a stop to this.

Wait, that’s not what’s going on here? Too bad, because unlike the Phillies’ rebuild, that’s all the time we have.

 

>> GO BACK TO PART 1 <<

Jerry Jones goes after Roger Goodell over Ezekiel Elliott suspension

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Jerry Jones goes after Roger Goodell over Ezekiel Elliott suspension

Jerry Jones, the NFL's most outspoken troll, just wants to watch the world burn.

After weeks of talk and escalation, the Cowboys' owner is ready to go to war with Roger Goodell and the league's other owners over Ezekiel Elliott's suspension.

According to an ESPN report, Jones threatened the commissioner on a conference call after Elliott's suspension was announced, saying, "I'm gonna come after you with everything I have. If you think (Patriots owner) Bob Kraft came after you hard, Bob Kraft is a p---y compared to what I'm going to do."

For weeks now, Jones has tried to disrupt talks of a contract extension for Goodell, promoted objectively bad pizza in the name of football, and landed himself in hot water with the other owners. So much so that there has reportedly been talk about removing Jones as the Cowboys' owner.

It's hard to pick a side here. Jones — the long-lost twin of Emperor Palpatine — and Goodell — a man with rulings more inconsistent than Pete Morelli. You don't really want to root for either of them, but it is fun to think about the extremely unlikely chance that Jones loses the Cowboys. 

Cowboys just another inferior opponent to Eagles

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USA Today Images

Cowboys just another inferior opponent to Eagles

It was only a few weeks ago when it appeared this first meeting between the Eagles and Dallas Cowboys was shaping up to be a battle for NFC East supremacy. Now that we’re here, the Cowboys are just trying to save their season, and the Eagles just want to take care of business against an inferior opponent.

That’s not a stretch. Are the Cowboys a good team? Well, they’re not bad, at least based on their 5-4 record. They certainly would be a lot better were it not for injuries and suspensions. But as the team is currently constructed right now, Dallas is not on the Eagles’ level.

Name one thing the Cowboys do better than the Eagles in 2017? That’s going to be a struggle, because aside from maybe punting, or maybe having a marginally superior pass rush, or maybe running the football before Ezekiel Elliott was sent packing, there’s really nowhere Dallas possesses an edge at this point.

Doesn’t mean the Cowboys won’t pose a threat to the Eagles or even win on Sunday night. It’s simply a difficult scenario to envision when we break down the matchup on paper.

QUARTERBACKS

We’re probably going to be having this debate for many years. One-and-a-half seasons certainly isn’t enough to settle it. That being said, there’s no question who’s playing better right now, as in ‘17. Carson Wentz might be the NFL’s Most Valuable Player through 10 weeks. Wentz has thrown for more yards (2,262 to 1,994), a higher yards per attempt (7.8 to 6.9), and found the end zone with greater frequency (23 to 21) – including rushing touchdowns – compared to Dak Prescott. The Eagles’ signal caller also has just one more turnover (7 to 6) and 26 fewer yards rushing (211 to 237). Ultimately, the stats are all pretty close, but Wentz also has the more important number over Prescott right now: Wins, eight to five.

Slight advantage: Eagles

RUNNING BACKS

It’s safe to say that any combination of Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden and Rod Smith (not to be confused with Broncos great Rod Smith) is a massive drop-off from Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys simply can’t replace the explosive element Elliott brought to their offense, not with this collection of has-beens and one nobody, anyway. Not one of those ball carriers has the pure ability of a Jay Ajayi at this stage of their careers, and the Eagles wouldn’t swap LeGarrette Blount or Corey Clement with Dallas, either. Fun fact about the Cowboys backfield: The unit’s leading receiver is Smith with 38 yards.

Clear advantage: Eagles

WIDE RECEIVERS AND TIGHT ENDS

Zach Ertz is leads both teams with 43 receptions, 528 yards receiving and six touchdowns, and he even missed the Eagles’ last game. Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor are second and fourth, respectively, with 500 and 428 yards receiving, and tied for second with five touchdowns each. The Cowboys’ top receivers haven’t been as effective at getting down the field or in the red zone, though it’s a deep group. Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Cole Beasley are essentially possession receivers at this point, and even speedy Terrance Newman is averaging a career-worst 11.8 yards per catch. Dallas’ best deep threat has been Brice Butler this season with 10 receptions for 243 yards and two touchdowns. Otherwise, the vertical game has been nonexistent.

Advantage: Eagles

OFFENSIVE LINE

In retrospect, the Cowboys’ issues this season were easy to see coming. The retirement of right tackle Doug Free started a game of musical chairs up front, while the departure of guard Ronald Leary in free agency hurt the unit’s depth. Going from guard to tackle has been an adjustment for La’el Collins, and whether at left guard or left tackle, Chaz Green has been an abject failure. Dallas needs Tyron Smith healthy and covering Prescott’s blind side for this to even have a prayer of working. Meanwhile, the Eagles’ O-line keeps on ticking despite losing Jason Peters, which is a credit to Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s development. Peters or no, this continues to look like the best unit in the league.

Advantage: Eagles

DEFENSIVE LINE AND LINEBACKERS

The Eagles may have the best front four in the NFL, or one of them at least, but don’t discount the Cowboys here. Dallas is tied for fifth with 29 sacks, and Demarcus Lawrence leads the league with 11.5. The defense isn’t great against the run – 4.3 yards per carry allowed is tied for 23rd – but Lawrence, David Irving and Tyrone Crawford can all get after the quarterback. Of course, it’s not as if the Eagles aren’t scary rushing the passer, with just four fewer sacks, plus Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and company boast the No. 1 run defense as well. Even if the lines are considered even, there’s going to be some separation at linebacker, as the Cowboys are without the heart soul of their defense, Sean Lee (hamstring).

Slight advantage: Eagles

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Despite a solid pass rush, teams have thrown on the Cowboys’ secondary. In terms of opponents’ quarterback rating, Dallas ranks 23rd (96.4). It’s a young backfield, with rookies Jourdan Lewis, Xavier Woods and Chidobe Awuzie – the latter returning from a hamstring injury – in outsized roles. The Eagles are young at corner themselves, with Ronald Darby finally back from an ankle and rejoining Jalen Mills, but have seasoned safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod over the top. The unit will give up some ground, coming in at 26th in terms of yards per game (249.4), yet is ninth in quarterback efficiency (81.2). Teams throw against this group because they have to, not because they want to.

Advantage: Eagles

SPECIAL TEAMS

At one point, Dan Bailey may have been the best kicker in the league, but he’s coming off his worst season as a pro and is now sidelined by a groin injury. That was the Cowboys’ primary strength on special teams. Now unreliable Mike Nugent is handling the kicking duties. Dallas punter Chris Jones has been pretty good at pinning opponents deep, which is nice, because he’s getting a lot more opportunities this year. The Eagles routinely grade among the top units in all phases, and will get the nod over most opponents, even if there is a Pro Bowl kicker.

Advantage: Eagles

COACHING

Jason Garrett is the reigning NFL Coach of the Year. He doesn’t call the plays. He doesn’t run the defense. Heck, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones probably decides when to call a timeout or throw the challenge flag. Yet, Garrett has hardware saying he’s the best. To his credit, there is a good staff in place around him, particularly defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. But as of now, Doug Pederson is well on his way to winning Coach of the Year in ’17, and will do it while actually running a team, nor are there any weak links on his staff. With an unconvincing 62-49 record, including playoffs, we’ll go ahead and chalk up Garrett’s 2016 campaign as an anomaly.

Advantage: Eagles

OVERALL

The Cowboys went 13-3 in the regular season in ‘16 on the strength of a dominant offensive line, punishing ground attack and well-coached defense. While the latter is still in place, even that aspect of the equation benefitted from ball-control offense. But Dallas’ line is an injury away from being in shambles, and the NFL’s reigning rushing champion is suspended. That leaves a young quarterback with aging weapons and adequate protection at best, and a defense that can rush the quarterback but does little else. Meanwhile, the Eagles have the best record in the league right now at 8-1, and they were firing on all cylinders heading into their bye. This is a week-to-week sport, so everything can change in the blink of an eye on Sunday night. Going in, however, there’s no denying which side is superior.

Distinct advantage: Eagles