Eagles Film Review: The key to Ajayi’s big run

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Eagles Film Review: The key to Ajayi’s big run

Jay Ajayi showed off his home-run ability on a 46-yard touchdown run in his Eagles debut. Yet it was Brandon Brooks who helped spring Ajayi by blocking not one, but two Broncos defenders on the play.

It was one of two touchdowns in which Brooks threw the key block, the other being a 15-yard screen pass to Corey Clement. And both times, the 6-foot-5, 335-pound right guard demonstrated the ability to maul would-be tacklers at the second and third levels.

Brooks has always been a force at the point of attack. The way he was getting down the field and reaching his targets on Sunday, the 28-year-old was making his case for more recognition — perhaps even an invitation to the Pro Bowl.

Let’s go back to Ajayi’s touchdown. It’s a read-option handoff to the left, with center Jason Kelce pulling and acting as the lead blocker on the play. Brooks’ job is to get up to the second level and get a hat on Broncos middle linebacker Brandon Marshall.

This is a well-blocked play across the board. There’s a massive hole between the tackle and guard, and Kelce is demonstrating his unique ability to get out in space — this clip could go into his highlight reel as well. However, it’s Brooks’ block that’s ultimately going to blow this wide open.

First of all, Brooks is about seven yards up the field from where he first engages Marshall, and still has position. The linebacker might not have a chance to flow to the football and eventually make the stop regardless of what happens next.

But there was also some confusion on the part of Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby, who doesn’t seem to know which direction the play is going. That’s going to be a problem with Brooks rumbling down the field.

Marshall and Roby collide, and Brooks winds up putting both defenders on the ground. And while the miscue by Denver’s defense might’ve resulted in a score regardless, it didn’t help the linebacker was driven all the way into the secondary.

Look at where Brooks engages. That block finally ends 10 yards later, with Marshall getting completely erased.

That was an impressive block by Brooks, although there’s a chance Ajayi would’ve scored anyway. He is a Pro Bowl running back.

Earlier, there was no doubt Brooks had set Clement free on a running back screen with another tremendous downfield block.

This is a fairly standard setup, with Brooks the last of the offensive linemen to release in this instance behind Kelce and right tackle Lane Johnson. Those first blocks are going to set up a wall and give Clement a little breathing room after the catch, but there’s a lot of work to do from there.

Johnson gets tripped up and Kelce is engaged, so Brooks is pretty much a one-man convoy. At this point in the play, it doesn’t look like Clement has much chance of scoring.

Of course, it helps that Broncos safety Justin Simmons doesn’t want anything to do with Brooks coming straight at him at full speed with an almost 10-yard head start. A great block, a nifty move by Clement and a poor angle by Roby turns this into an easy six for the Eagles.

By the time Clement crosses the goal line, Brooks is practically standing in the end zone with him, a good 20 yards from where he starts the play. If there was any justice in the world, he would’ve been allowed to spike the ball.

A prize free-agent signing in 2016, Brooks has been quietly efficient for the Eagles, although he hasn’t necessarily been getting a lot of recognition. Make no mistake, he’s very good.

Brooks is currently ranked third among all NFL guards by Pro Football Focus, and given the Eagles’ record at 8-1, the whole team is receiving more attention this season. With all the national attention, and then  tape like this, 2017 just may turn out to be Brooks’ first Pro Bowl campaign.

Jake Arrieta's wife solicits advice from Philly fans, gets hilarious responses

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Jake Arrieta's wife solicits advice from Philly fans, gets hilarious responses

Jake Arrieta is the new guy in town. The mound at the ballpark in South Philadelphia will likely be a very comfortable place for him to go to work. But what about his family up in the stands?

Arrieta's wife Brittany took to Twitter to solicit advice from Phillies fans on what her and their son Cooper will need to know about Citizens Bank Park.

Already leary of the impeding snow in Philly this week, Brittany also asked about games, traditions and food that are important at Phillies games.

Some common themes included crab fries, Graham Slam Ice Cream, cheesesteaks, hot dogs, Bull's BBQ, the Phillie Phanatic, etc. But this wouldn't be Philly without some snarky answers.

Head over to Brittany Arrieta's Twitter acount to see all of the responses and offer some of your own. I recommend a grilled sausage and onions from near Ashburn Alley and a local brew. Enjoy.

Shooters Everywhere — Sixers bomb Hornets into submission

Shooters Everywhere — Sixers bomb Hornets into submission

It says something when J.J. Redick and Dario Saric, the Philadelphia 76ers two best sharpshooters on the season, can go a combined 3-10 from deep -- and the team can still end up tying a season high for triples made. That happened last night against the Charlotte Hornets, as J.J. and Dario's calibration was off for most of the night, but Marco Belinelli got red hot, Joel Embiid was left too open too often, and Robert Covington stayed schemin', as the Sixers shot 18-44 from deep and pulled away late from Charlotte, winning 108-94. 

It was typical of the condensed season series between these two teams -- the Hornets made the Sixers sweat for the better part of three quarters, even leading by seven at the half, but just got outmuscled late by the Sixers' superior talent and execution. Good to be that one of the two teams, of course, and our two stars proved the main difference again, with Embiid scoring 25 on 10-17 shooting while matching a career high in boards (19) for the second straight game, and Ben Simmons posting his his third triple-double in four games, including a sparkling 15 assists with 0 turnovers -- numbers only hit by one other player (Atlanta's Dennis Schroder) this season. (Joel and his nine turnovers was one TO away from a very different sort of trip-dub, but who's counting?)

Still, the Sixers' MVP in this one might've been RoCo, who scored 18 on 6-12 shooting and at least made life tough for Hornets guard Kemba Walker. You just can't say enough about how much more dangerous this team is when Covington is hitting regularly, and after about a three-month frigid spell, Robert has has rediscovered his early-season form -- shooting 47% from the field and 42% from three this month after only hitting 35% (and 29% from deep) in February. Cov's defensive toughness and general hoops IQ makes him a net asset even when he's a bricklayer from deep, but when he converts reliably, he just might be the damn team MVP. 

Three in a row for the Sixers now, who still sit entrenched in the sixth seed -- but with a huge Wednesday coming up, where the three teams immediately ahead of them all have major challenges (Cavs-Raptors, Pacers-Pelicans, Wizards-Spurs) while the Sixers get to host the tanktastic Memphis Grizzlies. Just a game and a half separates three through six in the East, and the Sixers still have by far the easiest schedule remaining. Anyone still think Brett Brown needs to be fired?