It's the middle of August and real football is still a couple of weeks away but that doesn't mean there can't be some lukewarm trash talk between division rivals already.
I am here for it.
Lane Johnson opened his mouth on Wednesday and tossed some shade at the Washington Redskins, who the Birds will face in their Week 1 season opener on September 10.
But this is August and NFL players are bored, so of course somebody on the Redskins was going to fire back.
Enter Zach Brown who, after a quick Googling, is not a member of a country music band but is rather a linebacker for the Washington football team. He was apparently a Pro Bowler last season for the Buffalo Bills and should be a pretty solid addition to the Redskins defense.
It's unclear if the "they" he is speaking of is the Eagles or the Redskins. I kind of think he meant the Redskins but again, unclear.
But the PED reference is clearly directed at Johnson and the 10-game suspension he served last season for violating league policy. It's low hanging fruit but it certainly works.
Johnson's comments were a bit curious after he claimed earlier this summer he wanted to do less talking and show it more with action on the field. Regardless of that, he's the type of guy you'd expect to back it up (as long as he's on the field).
Non-preseason can't come soon enough.
CSN Mid Atlantic spoke to Brown about the Johnson comments:
Just to hear somebody say that about our organization is insulting. So for me I was like, man, let me just say something back to him real quick to let him know this is a new atmosphere, a new team, a new drive. Everybody here is playing to the last second no matter what it is. We have one goal in mind, to win every game.
That's the thing, he’s guaranteeing that win. So when that game comes, when that opening game comes, we will see what happens," Brown said. "I'm playing to win that game too. So is 10 other guys with me on my defense. Everybody, we're playing to win. That's all I got to say.
Being a sports fan can bring out the cynics in all of us. Writing about sports on the Internet often desensitizes many of us to what sports can actually mean to people. But there’s no denying the emotion this story about young Lukas Kusters made me feel.
It’s a story by ESPN about a young kid from Delaware, his passion for football, his love of the Philadelphia Eagles and Carson Wentz, his battle with cancer, and what his bond with a certain quarterback meant to both of them.
Lukas was known as “The Dutch Destroyer” because of his wildly impressive performance on the football field. He was diagnosed with cancer in April of 2016 at 8 years old and went on the fight of his life against it.
Lukas turned to his Eagles fandom and their young quarterback as a source of inspiration.
“We spent a lot of time talking about [Wentz] while we were in the hospital,” Lukas’ mother said. “And the idea of ‘the hope of Carson’ and what it meant for the Eagles was just another piece of inspiration for Lukas in his continued drive to get back on the field himself.”
Lukas received a special video message in his hospital bed from Wentz. It is impossible not to get emotional watching what it meant to Lukas.
The Make-a-Wish Foundation got involved and asked Lukas if there was anything he most wanted to do, and the youngster’s response was that he simply wanted to thank Carson.
Lukas got the opportunity to spend the day at the Eagles’ facility with Carson and he got to do just that, giving Wentz one of his Dutch Destroyer bracelets in the process.
Lukas lost his battle with cancer and was buried in his Wentz jersey. But if you’ve noticed Wentz’s wrist this season, you’ll see that Dutch Destroyer bracelet.
“It’s so much deeper than football,” Wentz said. “It’s so much more than just a game.”
Well, what a fun trip down memory lane that was. Just as they have seemingly spent much of the past four years doing, the Philadelphia 76ers traveled to Toronto last night on the second night of a back-to-back -- without Joel Embiid, natch -- and got minced. The Sixers got outpaced 36-19 in the first quarter and never recovered, eventually falling by a score of 128-94.
It was another game where the things our rookies were good at, they were really good at, but the other stuff killed us. Ben Simmons ended with an impressive 18-10-8 -- even hitting a couple quasi-jumpers in the process -- but the way that the Raptors were able to shrink the floor against him and his ultra-limited range more or less strangled our half-court offense. The Sixers were -20 with him on the floor, and the cramped spacing partly led to a down night for our normally reliable shooters. (Robert Covington and J.J. Redick -- the former plagued by foul trouble -- couldn't even get their shots off, going a combined 1-3 from deep.)
And Markelle Fultz's presence only exacerbated things, as he kept refusing to shoot from the perimeter, driving no matter how open he was. He made some nice plays and got to the line eight times, but his increasingly miserable FT form -- he shot the last one seemingly one-handed, with his other arm blocking his eyes -- shows why that's about all he's capable of at the moment. As suggested by Spike Eskin on a recent Rights to Ricky Sanchez pod, shutting him down until he can relearn how to shoot might be the move for our No. 1 overall pick at this point. He's not helping himself or the team playing like this at the moment.
Of course, the biggest reason for the drubbing was the lack of Embiid. The team has no one to really hold down the middle without him at the moment -- Amir Johnson is our most reliable backup but he's something of a black hole on offense at the moment, and Jahlil Okafor (who got his first game action of the season) is still brutal when it comes to defensive decision-making. The team actually might look best at the moment sans Embiid with Simmons at the five, though that's not sustainable for long periods, especially when DeMar DeRozan is carving up our defense for 30 points on 8-12 (!!) shooting.
Terrible throwback performance by the Sixers, and given that it's their third loss in a row to start the season, it may lead to a lot of understandable Same Old Sixers chatter. But don't forget how good that opening-night performance was against the Wizards, how much of the game against Boston we were leading for, and how tough a three-game stretch to start the season this was in general. I thought we'd go 0-3 and we went 0-3 -- next up is the Pistons on Monday, and in the couple weeks that follow, we play the Mavs, Hawks and Pacers. We wont' be winless for long -- though the sooner we can put one in the W column and avoid this team getting stuck in a peak-Process vortex, the better.