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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Hot Restaurants in Philadelphia

Here are the Hot Eats in Philadelphia:

Caffe Aldo Lamberti
Positano Coast 
Macaroni's Restaurant
Dante & Luigi's
Triangle Tavern
Mr. Martino's Trattoria
Wm. Mulherin's Sons
Vetri Cucina
Palizzi Social Club
The Victor Cafe

Pub and Kitchen
Standard Tap
Memphis Taproom
Rose Tattoo Cafe
National Mechanics
Village Whiskey
City Tavern 
Jack's Firehouse
Good Dog
Royal Tavern
Three Monkeys
High Street on Market
Hungry Pigeon

The Cantina 
Loco Pez 
El Compadre
The Adobe Cafe

Middle Eastern
Saad Halal Restaurant 
Al Zaytouna

Pizza and Hoagies
Mr. P's
Roman's Pizza
Gusto Pizza
Chubby's Steaks 
Pizza Brain
In Riva
Alex's Pizza
Pizzeria Vetri 

Machi Sushi
Osaka Chestnut Hill
Double Knot

New Harmony
Sang Kee Peking Duck House
Han Dynasty
Four Rivers 
Kingdom of Vegetarians RIP

Jovan's Place
Memphis Taproom Hot Dog Truck
Sweet Lucy's Smokehouse
The Dandelion
Mad Rex
Luke's Lobster
Oyster House
Noord Eetcafe
Pho Ha
Stargazy- British savory pies, toffee pudding, and jellied eels.

Fond- "French-influenced contemporary American," sounds complicated but goes down easy.
The Good King Tavern- French Tavern Fare, the most informal of french fares.
Laurel- This Top Chef winner's restaurant requires reservations months in advance. Try the tasting menu.

Blackbird Pizza
V Street
New Harmony
Wiz Kid
The Tasty- Vegan old school diner
Miss Rachel's Pantry
Bar Bombon- Vegan Puerto Rican
Dottie's Donuts
Kingdom of Vegetarians- RIP

The Night Kitchen
Shane Confectionery
Franklin Fountain
Little Baby's
Dottie's Donuts

Honey's Sit 'n Eat
Morning Glory
Federal Donuts
Day by Day 
La Croix
Trolley Car Diner 
Billy Murphy's 

Union Jacks
Cranky Joe's
Franklin Mortgage
American Sardine Bar
Local 44
Dock Street
Grey Lodge
The Olde Bar at Bookbinders
Wissahickon Brewing Company

Monday, April 30, 2012

Eagles Draft Wrap Up 2012

By all accounts, the Eagles had a decent draft in 2012. There weren't many sure-thing superstar prospects to be had, and the Eagles didn't get any of them. But, the birds did move up a bit to get perhaps the best defensive tackle in the pool without giving up anything of value. And, the rest of their picks seemed to get the universal "Yep, that's the guy to get there" from the pundits. No reaches, no complaints. A seemingly safe draft, heavy on the acquisition of defensive players.

The only mildly controversial move the Eagles made was selecting Arizona QB Nick Foles. Most experts agree that Big Red is going to flip him for a second rounder in a couple years like he does with every other developmental quarterback he touches (AJ Feely, Kevin Kolb). Some think that Foles might make a decent starter and seems like a big strong kid with a good arm, and others think that he's a checkdown charlie who isn't much of an athlete and won't ever pan out as an NFL starter. I say that I still like Mike Kafka, but that The Big Metamorphosis is never going to shine in an offense planned for a mobile quarterback who has reverted to his pre-prison headspace.

I didn't study up on the draft, so I don't have any insight about the players picked. But I'm going to list the Eagles draft choices below and what people are saying about them. Then we'll look back at the draft in a few years to decide just how safe this draft was.

Round 1 Pick 12- Fletcher Cox DT Mississippi State
SI Says:
Positives: Developing defensive lineman with a large upside. Athletic player who explodes off the snap with a terrific first step, displaying outstanding movement skills and the ability to quickly change direction. Works his hands throughout the play, moves well laterally and gets outside the box to make plays in pursuit. Has a tall, linear build, breaks down well and is agile. Slides off blocks to get to the ballcarrier, flashes power in his lower body and rarely gets knocked off his feet. Effectively uses his hands to protect himself, fluid if asked to twist or stunt and displays a burst of closing speed. Possesses good size and offers growth potential.

Negatives: Easily knocked from his angle of attack or is out-positioned from plays. Must add bulk to his frame and improve his playing strength.

Analysis: Cox watched his game take off last season and is now positioned to be a top-20 choice in April?s draft. His athleticism and versatility are intriguing, as Cox has the potential to line up at several different spots on the defensive line. Cox will only improve as he physically matures, and he has the potential to develop into one of the best defenders from this draft in time.

Profootball Talk Says:
At 6-foot-4, 298, Cox ran an impressive 4.81 forty-yard dash at February’s Scouting Combine. He has huge hands and long arms, and is an up-the-field pass rusher who will fit nicely into line coach Jim Washburn’s “Wide-Nine” scheme.

CBS Sports Says:
So much of the focus of the Eagles' wide-9 defense is placed on the outside pass rushers. For this scheme to work effectively, however, the team needs penetrating interior defenders -- just like Fletcher Cox, the best pass-rushing defensive tackle in the draft, who could prove a steal at No. 12 overall.

National Football Post: The Eagles needed a guy who could create negative plays behind the line of scrimmage and stop plays before they start. Cox is an explosive kid with an excellent get-off burst who knows how to knife his way into the backfield. I have some concerns about his pad level and ability to anchor vs. the run game. However, he can bend, extend his arms well and knows how to fend off blocks. Should be an instant upgrade for the Eagles inside. NFL ceiling: Top-tier penetrating DT. NFL floor: A starter who flashes inside, but is inconsistent vs. the run.

Round 2 (14)- Mychal Kendricks OLB Cal

Positives: Tough and explosive linebacker with height limitations. Terrific pass rusher who beats blockers off the snap and can bend off the edge. Quickly changes direction, shows a burst of speed and has the ability to catch the action in backside pursuit. Outstanding sideline-to-sideline range, covers a lot of area on the field and takes good angles to the action. Gets depth on pass drops, patient with assignments and plays smart football.

Negatives: Not a strong tackler. Gets out-positioned from the action by blocks. Lack of height will be a problem at the next level when matched up against tall tight ends. May struggle in a system that requires too many mental responsibilities'.

Analysis: Kendricks was a game-impacting player on the college level who effectively handled several spots in the defensive front seven for Cal. He plays fast, tough and smart and could be a very good pass-rushing linebacker in a 34 alignment.

The Eagles landed arguably the draft's most explosive linebacker in Cal's Mychal Kendricks
National Football Post: Kendricks is as violent and explosive as a striker as any linebacker in the draft. He loves to attack downhill, runs well sideline to sideline and can create pressure as a blitzer. He's short, but plays with natural leverage and should see starting time from right away. NFL ceiling: Productive starter. NFL floor: Fringe starter. 

Round 2 (28) - Vinny Curry DE Marshall

Positives: Natural pass rusher with potential at a number of positions in the NFL. Incredibly explosive, fires off the snap and chases around the field to make plays. Can bend off the edge, takes good angles to the action and displays a variety of moves with his hands to protect himself. Attacks assignments, goes after ballcarriers and gets a lot of momentum going to the action. Plays with good pad level, fluid moving in every direction of the field and easily changes direction without losing speed. Tough to knock off his feet. Effectively diagnoses plays and has solid instincts.

Negatives: Lacks great bulk and struggles getting off blocks. Primarily used up the field and rarely asked to make plays in reverse. Possesses solid speed but is not great in pursuit.

Analysis: Curry has been one of the best pass rushers in college football the past two seasons. He's a prospect who can be used as a one-gap defensive end or standing up over tackle as a rush linebacker at the next level. Curry plays smart, tough, football and is a prospect who should only get better over time.

An ideal wide-9 edge rusher.
National Football Post: Curry fits the prototype of the Eagles' defensive ends. He's got a good get-off, plays with a "plus" motor and can extend his arms and be sudden through contact. He lacks ideal power on contact, but has the frame to get stronger and should be a menace in the Eagles' wide-nine front. NFL ceiling: Productive starter. NFL floor: Contributing reserve.  

Round 3 (26)- Nick Foles QB Arizona

Positives: Well-sized pocket passer with enough arm strength to play at the next level. Possesses good field vision, patient in the pocket and effective when he throws with an over-the-top delivery. Makes good decisions, effectively commands the offense and can make all the throws. Drives passes down the field while also powering the ball through tight windows in underneath coverage. Puts air under throws and gives receivers a chance. Big enough to withstand the rush in the pocket.

Negatives: Takes a while to gather himself and release the ball. Does not show the ability to get rid of the ball with a flick of his wrist. At times indecisive under the rush. Not an elusive quarterback. Does not consistently step into throws or release the ball with proper footwork. Must improve his downfield accuracy and overall pass placement.

Analysis: Foles looked like a big-time quarterback prospect early in his college career. Despite the statistics, he never truly improved as a passer. He has the physical skills to play at the next level but must learn to throw with consistent mechanics and needs to play in a run-first offense that does not ask him to carry a team on his shoulders.

National Football Post: If there was one mid-round QB that has the best chance of maturing into a solid starter it's Foles. He's a big strong kid, who can spin the football and make plays in the face of pressure. A great value for the Eagles with long-term starting potential. NFL ceiling: Solid starter. NFL flood: "Plus" reserve. 

Philly.com (quoting others):
As for Foles, here's what Cosell Tweeted about him a few weeks ago:
Tightly schemed shotgun pass game w/almost no intermediate throws.1 read concepts. Easy reads.

Slow arm speed limits driving the ball. Heavy feet. Needs space to throw. Showed better traits when had time + space.

Did not drive the ball on few intermediate throws or sideline throws.

And from draft analyst Matt Waldman's Rookie Scouting Portfolio:
Foles has the size, the short-range accuracy, and some fundamental skills that could help him develop into a pro quarterback with work. I think his footwork with his drops, releases, and his decision-making in the pocket will need refinement for him to develop into an NFL quarterback with starter potential and I think that’s asking a lot from him. I think he's a lot more of a project than some think.

Round 4- Brandon Boykin CB Geoirgia

Positives: Small but explosive cornerback who shuts down opponents. Possesses tremendous quickness, easily runs downfield with opponents and shows a burst to the action. Explosive, plays an aggressive game and displays a feel for coverage. Locates the pass in the air, gets vertical and adjusts to make plays on the ball. Shows good hands for the interception. Explodes out of his plant to the ball and has a burst of closing speed. Does not back down to challenges and takes on bigger ballcarriers in run support. Alters the momentum of games as a return specialist.

Negatives: Easily neutralized at the point by blocks. Occasionally bites on play-action fakes and misses assignments. Suffered a significant leg injury during the Senior Bowl which has raised numerous red flags.

Analysis: Boykin was a solid player on the Georgia defense the past three seasons and possesses ball skills and speed that translate well to the NFL. His lack of height is a concern as is his recent injury, but at the very least Boykin offers potential as a nickelback who can also impact a team returning punts and kicks.

Talented cover corner and return specialist.

National Football Post: Boykin is a gifted athlete who plays more physical than his frame would indicate. He isn't the most consistent of tacklers, but he's got a great feel in zone coverage and showcases the short-area quickness to hold his own in man. He's the type of slot guy the Eagles desperately needed to add in their secondary. Great value here. 

Boykin (5-9, 182) is almost the exact same size as the player he's trying to replace: Joselio Hanson (5-9, 185). Hanson was cut before last season, but the Eagles eventually brought him back. He turns 31 in August, and as I explained recently, did not have a great year in 2011.

In Boykin, the Eagles get a player Greg Cosell of NFL Films called one of the top two slot cornerbacks in the draft. NFL Network's Mike Mayock had Boykin ranked as his 61st best overall prospect. The Eagles got him with the 123rd overall pick.
Round 5- Dennis Kelly T Purdue

Positives: Massive college left tackle who projects to the right side in the NFL. Solid in all facets of the game. Quickly sets up in pass protection, fights with his hands and keeps defenders in front of him. Moves relatively well on his feet. Works hard to bend his knees and block with leverage. Easily controls opponents once engaged at the point of attack. Jolts defenders with good hand punch and easily turns opponents off the line of scrimmage.

Negatives: Bends at the waist and overextends into blocks on occasion. Struggles to adjust and is better in a smaller area.

Analysis: Kelly has been productive and durable on the college level. He offers potential as a backup right tackle.

Round 6- Marvin McNutt WR Iowa

Positives: Well-sized possession receiver who's shown progress the past three years. Finds the clearing in the defense, consistently comes across the middle of the field and gets vertical. Uses his frame to shield away defenders and makes the difficult catch in a crowd. Extends to catch the ball away from his frame, strong running after the reception and breaks tackles to pick up extra yardage. Comes back to the ball out of breaks, looks the pass into his hands and wins out for the high throw.

Negatives: Lacks a quick release off the line. Does not possess a burst of speed or show a second gear. Poor route runner and tends to round off breaks. Unnecessarily lets passes get inside him at times.

Analysis: McNutt has been a productive college receiver the past two years and was able to use his athleticism and frame to overmatch opponents. He's an adequate prospect for the next level yet in the end maybe nothing more than a fourth receiver on an NFL roster.

Round 6- Brandon Washington G Miami

Positives: Well-sized blocker with a developing game. Sets with a wide base, stays square and chips defenders, knocking them from their angle of attack. Possesses a wide body and blocks down on defenders or engulfs them altogether. Quickly sets up in pass protection, flashes footwork off the edge and uses good body positioning to seal defenders from the action. Works his hands throughout the play and jolts opponents with good punch.

Negatives: Not light on his feet and rumbles around the field. Must improve his use of blocking angles. Overextends and lunges into blocks.

Analysis: Washington is a big-bodied college left tackle who's better off at guard in the NFL. He possesses the size, strength and overall football skills to eventually develop into a starter but needs to become more technically sound.

Round 7- Bryce Brown RB Kansas State

The team could be rewarded for their seventh-round gamble on highly touted prep running back Bryce Brown, who'll get a shot for playing time behind star LeSean McCoy.

The Eagles finished their draft with an interesting gamble. Running back Bryce Brown has loads of talent, but he managed to leave both the Tennessee and Kansas State programs, and get involved in an investigation of improper benefits given Miami players by a booster, when Brown's brother played for Miami.

Reid said he and general manager Howie Roseman "talked a lot about this kid, and we spent a lot of time evaluating him. He's had kind of a wild ride here through college football since being the No. 1 running back coming out of high school into college."

Off-the-field adventures aside, Reid said "you're talking about a kid who is an inch under six feet and is 220 pounds, who runs a 4.4 40. You're talking tremendous, tremendous skill here. He catches the ball effortlessly and is a smooth, smooth runner. He has all the talent in the world, but it's just a matter of tying things down here."

Friday, November 11, 2011

Things to do in and around Philadelphia

Work in Progress 
Here are things to do in Philadelphia. Categorized by types of fun.

Woodford Mansion- a fancy 18th century mansion with fancier antiques.
Stenton- The Country House of James Logan, William Penn's number two man. The literature for this house seems to indicate that it was built as a place for him to hide from the horrible world.
Bartram's Garden- 18th Century Home of Naturalist John Bartram. Historic architecture and gardens, and also various nature programs like Cider Pressing and Bird Watching..
Independence Hall- Signing place of the Declaration of Independence, surrounded by several other historic sites.

Edgar Allen Poe House- Poe lived here for 18 months when Philadelphia was the American locus of the literati.
Eastern State Penitentiary- A haunted ruin of a prison.
Carpenter's Hall- Home of the first continental congress, displays of all kinds of old furniture and guild stuff.
Dolley Todd House- A fakeout: Dolly Todd was Dolley Todd before she was Dolley Madison.
Bishop White House- Home of Christ Church's rector, reflects upper class living in the 1800's.
Merchant's Exchange Building- This building is mostly (and sadly, and inexplicably) closed, but there is a small visitor's center open during the week.
Germantown White House- Oldest official presidential residence.
Ben Franklin's Grave- RIP.
Old Swedes' Church Pennsylvania's oldest church building.
Thaddeus Kosciuszko House- Home of the Polish freedom fighter who designed American fortifications during the revolutionary war.
Laurel Hill Cemetery- Sculptural garden, horticultural gem, and final resting place of historic luminaries.

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
Valley Green- The nicest park in the city with a cornucopia of hidden wonders.
Riverboat Queen Fleet Paddle Boating- Paddle boating on the Delaware? Oh dear.
Winterthur- DuPont family center of opulence and gardening beauty.
Kelly Drive Loop- Scenic path along the Schuylkill river. 

American Philosophical Society Museum at Philosophical Hall- APS was founded by Ben Franklin.
Second Bank of the United States Portrait Gallery- featuring a who's who of revolutionary era figures.
National Liberty Museum- A museum of freedom.
Atwater Kent Museum- Exhibits and displays of artifacts depicting the history of the city
Philadelphia Water Works- Historic waterworks and environmental museum. 
Mütter Museum- The College of Physicians of Philadelphia displays medical wonders and oddities.
The Civil War Museum of Philadelphia- Reopens in 2014. If you can't wait until then, visit...
Grand Army of the Republic Museum- to see, among other things, General Meade's heroic horse, "Old Baldy." Or his head, at least. Old Baldy was wounded something like 14 times during the Civil War, and outlived his mount by ten years. More here.
Pizza Brain- Hipster Pizza Museum. That is, a Pizza museum run by hipsters. The hipster pizza museum is here.
Museum of Mourning- Holy souvenir ring w/ lock of George Washington hair!
Anthenaeum- Independent museum/library housed in a nifty national historic building. Rotating exhibits, mostly concerned with decorative arts.


Guided Tours
Philadelphia Ghost Tours


Race Street Pier- Nice spot for a nighttime panorama.

Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride That's a pretty sweet hayride right there.
Terror Behind the Walls- Eastern State Penitentiary is already haunted, and double haunted for Halloween.
Frick's Locks- An abandoned town, good for a post-apocalyptic spooky walk, and real life meetings with ne'er do wells and police with trespassing citations.
Spooky Mini Golf at Franklin Square- Pretty much the same as regular mini golf, but with a fog machine.
Scream Mountain: Spring Mountain is Scream Mountain at night. Only haunted chairlift I've ever heard of.
The Valley of Fear- I don't love going northeast of northeast Philadelphia, and then paying for parking. But this is the second biggest haunted hayride around town.
Sleepy Hollow Hayride- "Active Acres" farm's hayride is like watching a TV show you really liked from 1995... today.
Ice Skating at the River Rink- Late November to March.

Quick Escapes
Fortescue, NJ- Stay in Rose & Drew Pontz's quiet, seaside B&B: 856-447-4685
Bath, WV

Monday, May 16, 2011

I told you so! All of you!

Let's flash back to July 2010. The floundering Phillies were looking to nab Roy Oswalt instead of Dan Haren, and I was not in favor of this. Here was one of my concerns about Oswalt:

"Roy has had recent health problems, most notably a bad disc in his back for which he has already received 3 cortisone injections. Investing $16 million a year in a pitcher with a time bomb in his back is bad business."

Oswalt had a pretty good stint with the Phillies in 2010, and I had egg on my face. But it's 2011 now, 5 days from the end of the world, and it seems like the good people of Earth should trust my prophesy over what they hear on Family Radio. Why? Because my apocalyptic vision is coming to pass!

Back spasms chased Oswalt from a game on April 15th, and he hasn't been the same since. His velocity is down considerably, and everyone, from NL scouts to Carlos Ruiz, note that Oswalt's pitches lack movement. That is an ill portent for Oswalt's start in St. Louis tomorrow now that he's been activated from the DL.

I'm not saying that Oswalt is going to turn into a pumpkin. But we're paying him like a prince, and I don't think we can expect royal production from Roy anymore. I didn't read anything about him getting cortisone injected during this trip to the DL, but the more cortisone he gets pumped into his back, the worse the long term prognosis is for his vertebral column. Repeated cortisone injections help reduce inflammation, but they can weaken joints, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. This makes re-injury very likely. What I said in 2010 holds even more truth today-the end of days is nigh for Oswalt's back.

I hope that he can recover enough to pitch well this season. He's gritted and gutted and ground out decent appearances so far. But I won't be shocked if he gets lit up tomorrow. And I will pray nightly both that the world doesn't end on the 21st, and that we don't sign Oswalt to a crippling, long term deal.

By the way, here's a comparison of Oswalt's and Dan Haren's numbers this year. Keep in mind that Haren pitches in the American League, and doesn't get a gimme out when the pitcher walks to the dish.

Haren: 4 wins, 2 losses, 61 strikeouts, and a 1.93 ERA.
Oswalt: 3 Wins, 1 loss, 21 strikeouts and a 3.33 ERA.

Oswalt is good. Haren is tremendous. Haren has 2 years left on his contract at a somewhat reasonable price. And also has a structurally sound back. We could have had Haren for the same deal we made for Oswalt. I will never understand why the Phillies passed him up.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I am always the most excited person I know when it comes to horse racing.

The first Saturday in May has come upon us quickly this year. I am just sitting down now to figure out my Kentucky Derby picks. With only 41 hours til post, do I have enough time to pour over bloodlines, sniff out the juiced equines, and figure the most malnourished jockeys? Coursin' I do.

It's going to be a crowded field with 20 horses making a go, and there aren't any sure thing winners here. Dialed In is the favorite coming out of post 8, but he only has 4 races under his flanks. Uncle Mo, the second choice at 9-2 odds, is recovering from a gastrointestinal virus and might not be able to race at all. ***5/6 Note: Uncle Mo is dropping out of the derby***** You might think that Calvin Borel, the jockey who has won 3 of the last 4 derbies, might bring some cachet to his horse Twice the Appeal, but that colt is a longshot at 30-1.

The entirety of speculation about this year's derby dandies comes laden with disclaimers like "it's a murky race of motley horses," “the field is wide open,” and “in an unpredictable cloud of mediocre, any horse can win.” All the mud in the divining pool has me scrambling for hard facts to fuel my Kentucky Derby prognosticating. Here's one. Did you know that the "time honored method" of choosing post position involves pulling numbered pills from a bottle? Crazy. And, with that fact, here are my picks for the 137 Kentucky Derby:

  1. Mucho Macho Man (Post 13,  12-1 odds) Almost given up for dead when he was born and lay motionless for several minutes without a heartbeat, tended by a trainer who just recently returned to the barn after a heart transplant, Macho Man is a miracle horse.
  2. Pants on Fire (Post 7, 30-1 odds) Kentucky's own Pants had a sweet workout in the mud earlier this week, and it looks like a sloppy track is in store for Saturday's contest. He's ridden by just the 6th woman jockey in derby history.
  3. Dialed In (Post 8, 4-1) This hoss seems like the never say die type and has the best post position. But all I keep reading from the horses connections are excuses for how slow he is. Slow for a racehorse, that is.
  4. Twice the Appeal (Post 3, 30-1) I don't bet against Calvin Borel in the slop at the Kentucky Derby. But I apparently don't bet with him, either. This horse is slower than Dialed In, but that might not matter in mud.
  5. Archarcharch (Post 1, 10-1) Starting from post 1 is especially difficult in a crowded field of 19 horses. He’s reported to have had phenomenal training runs, so he’s got a good shot if he can get through the gates unscathed.
  6. Soldat (Post 17, 20-1) Lady Luck tramped it up on poor Soldat; he's suffered through stumbling starts and rail runs alike in previous races. With the post next to him vacated by Uncle Mo, maybe he'll have some room to run. A real mudeater.
  7. Brilliant Speed (Post 2, 30-1) A turf horse who has been training surprisingly well in the mud.
  8. Shakleford (Post 14, 20-1 odds) He’s won on this track before. An energetic, speedy mount, Shakleford can take the roses if he doesn’t let Comma to the Top and Decisive Moment lure him into a front run early in the race.
  9. Nehro (Post 19, 6-1) Runs with the eye of the tiger. Nehro appears to be in fine fiddle, but he hasn’t run much since arriving at Churchill Downs.
  10. Animal Kingdom (Post 16, 20-1) This horse threw his rider last Wednesday and broke the rider’s nose. Animal Kingdom is wild indeed.
  11. Midnight Interlude (Post 15, 12-1) The sharps keep deriding Interlude's previous races as being held at 5th rate tracks, as if he raced in the parking lot behind the Walmart in Tagg Flats before crashing Churchill Downs. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert must be slumming here. Interlude does not seem keen on the mud.
  12. Santiva (Post 12, 30-1) Santiva is the JD Drew of horses. He’s got all the tools, but seems more than a little disinterested.
  13. Master of Hounds (Post 11, 20-1) I love a dark horse from Ireland. Also, I love Metallica's 3rd album, Mater of Puppets.
  14. Watch Me Go (Post 20, 50-1) Not a premier horse to begin with, Watch Me Go drew a tough post position and is a victim of musical saddles. A real workhorse, so he’ll sneak past some tired old mares.
  15. Twinspired (Post 10, 30-1) Good Guy Mike Smith is riding a beast among beasts. But the big boys don’t often win, and Twinspired is a turf specialist to boot.
  16. Decisive Moment (Post 5, 50-1) There will come a decisive moment in the race when this horse will have to choose between being a front runner and staying a front runner.
  17. Stay Thirsty (Post 4, 30-1) Riding without blinkers this time. Riding dirty.
  18. Comma to the Top (Post 6, 30-1) All indications are that this horse is a palooka. An opponent. He’ll run to the front of the pack early on, and then you’ll never hear his name again.
  19. Derby Kitten (Post 9, 30-1) An Astroturf specialist, the muck is going to eat Kitten up.
Superfecta Box: Mucho Macho Man, Soldat, Dialed In, Nehro

Worth including in Superfectas: Brilliant Speed, Twice the Appeal, Archarcharch, Shakleford
Upset Special: Brilliant Speed at 30-1 odds.

Five Best Names:
1.      Archarcharch
2.      Master of Hounds
3.      Midnight Interlude
4.      Uncle Mo (not racing)
5.      Pants on fire
Five Worst Names
1.      Derby Kitten
2.      Twinspired
3.      Stay Thirsty
4.      Comma to the Top
5.      Brilliant Speed

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Eagles 2011 Draft

This mess is from notes I took from the 2011 Draft. Make of it what you will- I just like to keep these notes in the blog to reference them in the fullness of time to see how the picks panned out.

 From ESPN.com:
23(23)PhiladelphiaDanny WatkinsOGBaylor
What he brings: Watkins is a mature, physical player with a nasty disposition. He is a technician who stays low and plays with good pad level, and uses his strong inline power base and powerful upper body to get movement in the running game. While he is light on his feet and does a good job moving laterally as a pass blocker, Watkins lacks elite length and is best-suited to play on the inside at the next level.
Video analysis: Todd McShay Video
How he fits: This is a player who really grew on teams as we got closer to the draft and even though he'll be a 26-year old rookie, he will be a high-effort guy who fills a need on the right side of a struggling Eagles offensive line. RG Max Jean-Gilles is a free agent and not a great player and RT Winston Justice really struggles against edge rushers. Watkins has played LT and RT, but look for him to step in and start at either position on the right side under legendary OL coach Howard Mudd. And remember that the right side is left-handed QB Michael Vick?s backside, which makes this pick that much more important.

not from

And this from Peter King at SI:
The good -- Danny Watkins is a day-one starter, mature and experienced, and can play either guard and, in a pinch, tackle, where he played last year at Baylor. The bad -- He'll be a 27-year-old rookie this fall.

No from

From SI's Draft Analysis:

The Eagles grabbed one of the more interesting stories in the draft: a former firefighter from Canada turned big-time college offensive lineman despite the fact he never played high school football. With that said, it's a curious pick: the Eagles averaged 5.45 yards per rush attempt in 2010, making them one of the most effective rushing teams in the history of football. And QB Michael Vick has proven he can make plays even if the pocket collapses around him. The Eagles still need to find playmakers later in the draft or in free agency. The missed an opportunity to do it here.

not from

From ProFootballTalk.com's Evan Silva:
The Philadelphia Eagles selected Baylor offensive lineman Danny Watkins with the 23rd pick in the 2011 draft.
Watkins was a left tackle at Baylor, succeeding former No. 2 pick in the draft Jason Smith. A 26-year-old former firefighter, rugby and hockey player from Canada, Watkins made first-team All-Big 12 as a senior, despite it being just his fourth season of organized football.
Watkins was particularly impressive at the Senior Bowl, where his stock soared. He projects as a guard in the pros, and will block for LeSean McCoy in Philadelphia.
This is a bit higher than most had Watkins projected, but right guard is an area of need for the Eagles and the prospect they selected is NFL ready.
In January, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock described Watkins as “one of the nastiest players in the country.”

not from

From Pro Football Weekly draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki:

The Eagles struggled mightily along the interior offensive line a year ago when injuries depleted their depth. Watkins has the athleticism, foot quickness and strength to play anywhere on the line. He lined up at left tackle in college but projects to guard for the Eagles. Offensive line coach Howard Mudd is one of the best in the league at developing raw talent and could work wonders with the 27-year-old former firefighter.
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From Sean Leahy at USA Today:
Andy Reid sticks to form and takes a lineman in Round 1. Watkins is a fascinating story, a 26-year-old former firefighter who grew up playing hockey in British Columbia. He strapped on a football helmet for the first time in 2007 at Butte College -- where Packers QB Aaron Rodgers began his college career -- before joining the Bears in 2009. Watkins started at left tackle for Baylor for two seasons but could play initially at guard for the Eagles. He's versatile, mature and plays with a mean streak, a good combo in the City of Brotherly Love. He should bolster an interior line recently hampered by injuries and inconsistency. He might even be QB Michael Vick's blind side tackle on the right side in the future. He's renowned for his "heavy hands" ... defenders have been known to go down in a heap after enduring a Watkins block.

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Dave Spadaro's rebuttal: If you think guard wasn't a need here, you haven't been watching. The Eagles haven't been physical enough at the position, and they suffered in short-yardage rushing opportunities and in the red zone. Watkins, if he lives up to the expectations the Eagles have, could step right in and start and be a physical presence that the Eagles haven't had at the position.

Also from Spadaro:
Why not take a cornerback? The Eagles could have traded up and acquired Prince Amukamara, who went to the Giants with the 20th pick. But they stayed put and took Watkins even with Colorado's Jimmy Smith on the board. Does that mean they are satisfied with the cornerback spot? Maybe, maybe not. I expect the Eagles to address cornerback at some point in this offseason. Remember, Thursday was only one piece of an extensive puzzle.

Here's something

PhiladelphiaJaiquawn JarrettSTemple
What he brings: Jarrett is a strong run defender, where he makes a quick diagnosis and fills downhill. He is a solid tackler who can deliver violent strikes on occasoin, and he has adequate instincts in coverage but his overall skills are just average. He will have issues against quicker No. 3 receivers in man coverage.
How he fits: He should fill a significant need for the Eagles as starting SS Quintin Mikell is aging with a salary that may be too much, while young Nate Allen has a nice future but is coming off a knee injury. This is a secondary that gave up 31 TD passes a year ago, which was third most in the NFL, and they must tighten up the middle of the field. Jarrett is not necessarily a game-changer but could be a solid SS, good in run support and decent in zone coverages.
and this from SI Draft Analysis:
Quite a year for traditionally weak Temple: Jarrett is their second defender taken in the first 54 picks, this time by the hometown Eagles. He started four years for the Owls and was consistently one of their leading tacklers. Speed is an issue, though, and Jarrett might be another reach in a relatively weak year for defensive backs.

Todd McShay on Jaiquawn Jarrett:
I believe Jarrett will be a good starter in the NFL, and with Quinton Mikell a free agent Jarrett will ideally step in right away. He's not big but he's tough, and Jarrett is one of the more underrated defensive backs in the 2011 class.

Positives: "Fierce, aggressive safety with a solid game. Physical against the run, very quick up the field, and willingly throws his pads into ball carriers. Forceful hitter yet remains disciplined throughout the action. Diagnoses plays, shows range outside the numbers, and quickly gets to the flanks helping cornerbacks. Takes terrific angles to the action, plays with explosiveness and suddenness. Has good hands."

Negatives: Lacks classic safety size. Struggles in man coverage situations. Does not possess elite defensive back speed.

Analysis: Jarrett was immediately productive as a freshman at Temple and has improved his game ever since. He possesses the physical abilities and ball skills to be used as a true centerfielder who can roam sideline to sideline at free safety. He comes with a nice upside and grades as a potential starter at the next level.

Projection: 5th

Here's the Eagles 3rd round selection, after a trade with Baltimore:

Curtis MarshCBUtah State
What he brings: Marsh has great length and is a good press corner, but he is a former running back who is raw at this point. He does play the ball well, though, and shows good range.
How he fits: The No. 1 need for this team was CB and Marsh is a perfect fit in the style of defense they play. They love to rely on man coverage behind their blitzes and the only guy they can count on in that role is Asante Samuel. The other guys give up too many plays and the Eagles probably need a starter and nickel back to fill out the secondary and Marsh should really flourish in those press schemes.

and this from SI:
Positives: "Well-sized and athletic defensive back who is still learning the position. Remains disciplined with assignments, displays the ability to drive to the action out of his plant and possesses a burst of closing speed. Fluid pedaling in reverse, quickly changes direction and plays an aggressive brand of football. Fast up the field defending the run, mixes it up with opponents throughout pass routes, and physically defeats them to defend the throw."

Negatives: Displays a poor sense of timing. Loses a sense of where he is in relation to the receiver he is supposed to cover. Not consistent with his defensive back mechanics.

Analysis: Marsh took a quantum leap last season and started to develop as a defensive back. He possesses desirable size/speed numbers for the next level but will need a lot of work before he's NFL ready.

Dealt a 4th round pick for a pick later in the round and TB's pick next year, and then:
Clay Matthews' brother!

Casey MatthewsILBOregon
What he brings: Matthews is instinctive, has a high motor and is a good tackler. He lacks top-end burst and athleticism but he locates the ball well and is relentless in pursuit. Overall he is a much better football player than athlete.
How he fits: His versatility may allow him to play inside or outside for the Eagles and he will certainly be great on special teams. OLB Ernie Sims will likely leave via free agency and they can move starting MLB Stewart Bradley to the outside with Jamar Chaney taking his spot. Matthews will likely beat out somebody and the Eagles will really try to establish him as a blitzer and he could be very effective in their nickel package.
and this, according to Gregg Rosenthal at PFT:
Casey Matthews doesn’t have the same explosive ability as his brother Clay, but he does have a nose for the ball.  (And similar flowing hair.)

Positives: "Hardworking college linebacker with marginal size/speed numbers for the NFL. Displays good awareness, breaks down well and remains disciplined with assignments. Quickly locates the ball, fires up the field in run defense, and wraps up tackling. Uses his hands to protect himself, fluid pedaling in reverse, and quickly changes direction. Sells out in run defense and plays with an aggressive attitude. Collapses from the outside to defend the run and easily flows to the action."

Negatives: Average athlete with marginal quickness. Lacks true pursuit speed. Not a reliable tackler.

Analysis: Mathews was a solid college linebacker yet overrated outside of scouting circles because of his last name. He's a potential backup at the next level if he performs well on special teams.

Projection: 7-FA

also this in the 4th:

Alex HeneryPKNebraska
What he brings: Henery has a strong leg and is the most accurate kicker in the class. He can also fill in as a punter if necessary.
How he fits:This obviously will signal the end for David Akers because when you draft a kicker in the fourth round, you expect him to be your guy.
also about Henery
The 120th pick is simply too high for Alex Henery. Yes, he was the No. 1 kicker on our board, but Henery has had some inconsistent stretches in his career, and while he has a monster leg the Eagles would have been better off addressing right offensive tackle, defensive line, tight end, wide receiver or return specialist, then taking someone like Kai Forbath further down the line.

Akers will be a free agent.

Positives: "Big-legged kicker with a tremendous field goal leg. Gets immediate lift on kicks, drives the ball and consistently accurate. Kicks booming field goals that have great distance. Has a solid kickoff leg and is able to consistently place the ball inside the opponents? 5-yard line."

Negatives: "Average punter and slow getting the ball off his foot. Struggles with his drop, which slows his motion."

Analysis: Henery is a terrific kicking prospect who has the ability to hit from long distances in poor conditions. He's one of the few draftable kickers this year and could quickly find his way on into a starting spot in the NFL.

In the 5th

Dion LewisRBPittsburgh
Lewis is undersized but displays above-average vision and elite lateral quickness as a runner to get himself in and out traffic near the line of scrimmage.
and SI:
Positives: "Small but incredibly elusive ball carrier who consistently creates his own yardage. Quick-footed, easily makes defenders miss, and bounces around the pile. Shows a terrific burst of speed, squirms through the small openings of the defense, and keeps his feet driving up the field. Effectively sets up defenders, uses his blocks, and darts on the inside to pick up yardage. Solid pass catcher out of the backfield who finds the open seam in underneath coverage and extends his hands to catch the ball away from his frame."

Negatives: Small and easily brought down by a single defender. Gets minimal results as a blocker. Stopped dead in his tracks and shows no ability to pick up yardage off initial contact.

Analysis: "Lewis is a very small ball carrier with limitations for the next level. He'll fit in as a third-down back who is most effective in space, and will be given an opportunity as a return specialist."

Projection: 6-7

also in the 5th

Julian VanderveldeOGIowa
He doesn't have elite size for a guard prospect but his low center of gravity make him a solid in-line blocker and he has the balance to stay in front of defenders in pass protection.
and SI:
Positives: "Fundamentally sound position blocker who uses all his skills to keep defenders away from the action. Stays square, bends his knees, and gets leverage on opponents. Quickly gets his hands up, keeps his head on a swivel, and is stout at the point of attack. Anchors in pass protection, fights hard, and works until the whistle blows."

Negatives: Struggles to adjust. Not a big-bodied lineman and will be overwhelmed by larger opponents.

Analysis: Vandervelde has been consistent on the college level and really showed himself to be a pro prospect last season. He's a solid lineman who projects as a backup at both guard spots.

Projection: 6th

in the 6th

Jason KelceOCCincinnati
Kelce?s upside is limited by his frame, however, he has the quickness, toughness and enough football intelligence to develop into an effective reserve who can provide depth at guard and center.
and SI:
Positives: "Strong run blocker moving up draft boards. Blocks with good lean, fights hard throughout the action, and anchors in pass protection. Stays square, gets his hands into defenders, and strong at the point of attack. Blocks with a nasty attitude and moves defenders off the line of scrimmage, opening up the running lanes. Flashes the ability to get out to the second level and hit a moving target."

Negatives: "Overextends and lunges into blocks, which adversely affects his balance. Lacks great footwork in space."

Analysis: Kelce has been durable and productive on the college level and added the dimension of effectively playing another position last season. He lacks true NFL size yet is a solid developmental prospect who can make a depth chart at several offensive line positions.

Projection: 4-5

also in the 6th

Brian RolleOLBOhio State
Rolle has the tenacity, upper body strength and enough range to develop into an effective reserve outside linebacker. He will also contribute on special teams.
according to Wes Bunting from The National Football Post:
If Brian Rolle was three inches taller and ten pounds heavier, he likely would have gone within the top 50 picks. He’s tough, instinctive, finds the football and plays the game with a mean streak. However, Rolle lacks ideal size and will likely be more of a nickel backer in the Eagles 43 front, but he holds up very well in space vs. the pass game and should mature into a quality special teams guy as well.

Positives: "Small yet fearless linebacker who makes plays sideline to sideline. Fast moving in all directions of the field, fluid getting out to the flanks, and gets depth on pass drops. Quick to read and diagnose the action. Fires up the field filling gaps in run defense then immediately changes direction and loses no momentum. Displays tremendous range on the field, has a burst to the play, and is effective in pursuit. Breaks down well, gets his hands up, and is rarely off his feet."

Negatives: Does not have great size. Easily turned from the action by single blocker and gets swallowed up in the trash. Drag-down tackler and struggles to bring opponents down at the point of attack.

Analysis: "Rolle has been a terrific linebacker who was out of place in the middle of Ohio State's defense. Size limits him at the next level, but he could be an effective backup in a one-gap system or potentially get consideration at strong safety. Plays with a special teams mentality, which enhances his possibilities in the NFL."

Projection: 6-7

In the 7th:

Greg LloydILBConnecticut
Lloyd was already lacking in terms of elite athleticism before his knee injury and unfortunately took another step back in this area as a senior due to injury. However, he has the ability to develop into a reserve two-down inside linebacker in the NFL.
Positives: "Stout run defending linebacker who has struggled returning from the knee injury suffered in 2009. Disciplined with assignments, wraps up tackling, and drives through ball carriers. Effective when the action is in front of him, shows ability in zone coverage, and is fluid changing direction or altering his angle of attack. Breaks down well."

Negatives: Shows minimal quickness in his game. Often looks indecisive. Marginal burst to the action.

Analysis: Lloyd was justifiably rated as one of the better middle linebackers in the nation coming into the season but never fully regained his prior form after the knee injury as a junior. Possesses the skills and playing style to be a reserve on the inside if he's able to get back to full health sometime soon.

Lastly in the 7th:

Stanley HaviliFBUSC
Havili is a unique talent because he?s an exceptionally skilled pass-catcher for the position. However, he?s not a good blocker, he lacks ideal size, toughness and power as an inside runner.
Weaver is rehabbing.
Positives: "Athletic but undersized fullback who has a lot of talent. Displays good vision, football instincts and movement skills. Quickly gets out front of running backs to create space and can adjust to linebackers on the second level. Works to get a pad on defenders and opens up running lanes. Attacks blocking assignments and gives effort. Works runs and shows the ability to quickly get through the hole carrying the ball. Solid receiver and extends to make the reception away from his frame."

Negatives: Lacks dominant strength and struggles to finish blocks. Not a powerful runner who can move the pile in short-yardage situations.

Analysis: Havili was very productive at USC the past four seasons and has versatility as a fullback. He lacks the size and strength to be a true lead blocker but could be very effective in a West Coast offense.