Monthly Archives: July 2016

What Will Philly Sports Look Like in 2020?

The Phillies won a title in 2008. For most of us it feels like a lifetime ago. Following that, we as Philly fans have not had much to hang our hats on. The Phillies made another trip to the World Series in 2009 but were beaten by the Yankees in 6 games. From there the roster got better but the team’s playoff stays got shorter which ultimately led to rebuilding. The Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010 but were disposed of in 6 games by a much more talented Chicago Blackhawks team. The Eagles had a stretch of dominance in the early 2000’s but could never put it together in capturing a Super Bowl Title. Their most recent appearance was in 2004 where they lost a heartbreaker to the cheating ass Patriots 24-21. The Sixers haven’t been a contender since the Iverson days and even then Kobe and Shaq ran the league.

When will it finally be our time? When will Philadelphia get its chance to be a winning sports city? The word “rebuilding” is a dreaded one, especially in a place where patient fans are few and far between. But with all four teams rebuilding at the same time we could be looking at the Golden Age of Philly sports a few years down the line. That is if all goes as planned.


Eagles

First, let’s take a look at the Eagles. This has always been a football town and always will be. I’ve often said that if the Eagles were to win a Super Bowl I don’t know if the city would survive the parade. It would be absolute bedlam.

The NFL is the toughest league to sustain success in. Players have shorter shelf lives and injuries are much more common, it’s all part of the physicality that is the sport itself. Most times it takes a transcendent player like Tom Brady or a viscous defense like the 2000 Ravens to win a title. Sometimes it takes a lot of luck, a la the 2008 and 2012 Giants. Competition is so fierce that it is extremely rare to see a team make it to the Super Bowl two years in a row, let alone repeat as champions. So I’ll be totally clear even though it hurts me to do so. I think the Eagles have the worst chance of bringing a title to Philly in the next few years due to the league they play in and the young talent and assets they currently possess.

Roster

Here we look at guys on the current roster that should be major contributors come 2020 along with their current age.

QB: Carson Wentz (23)

RB: Wendell Smallwood (22)

WR: Jordan Matthews (23), Nelson Agholor (23)

TE: Zach Ertz (25)

OL: Lane Johnson (26), Brandon Brooks (26), Isaac Seumalo (22)

DL: Fletcher Cox (25), Bennie Logan (26)

LB: Mychal Kendricks (25), Jordan Hicks (24),

SEC: Rodney McLeod (26), Eric Rowe (23), Jalen Mills (22), JaCorey Sheperd (23)

K: Cody Parkey (24)

Basically if you aren’t on this list I don’t think you’re good enough to really be a contributor or you’ll be too old by 2020 to be one. There were a couple guys who were borderline like Vinny Curry who is 27 and Reuben Randle who is 25. If I questioned you I left you off. There are also some stretches on the list like Nelson Agholor, Wendell Smallwood, Jalen Mills and JaCorey Sheperd but they made it simply because of their age and that they were either a high pick or have gotten high praise in the media. Agholor is a huge question mark but we spent a first rounder on him so I’m hoping he figures it out. We don’t know what to expect out of the other three guys, but from what I’ve heard out of camp they seem like they can play.

The Eagles aren’t in necessarily great shape in terms of youth. It basically all falls on the shoulders of Carson Wentz. If you have an elite QB you’ll succeed and if you don’t you better hope you have an incredible defense.

Aside from Wentz I like Ertz, Matthews, Brooks and Johnson on offense. Ertz is one of the youngest starting tight ends in the league and seems to be getting better each year. Matthews had a down year in 2015 but I think he can be a really good number two receiver option on a good team. This obviously means we’re missing a number one receiver. I don’t think Agholor is that guy. He hasn’t shown me anything on the field to make me think he’s going to be a player and now he’s gotten in trouble off the field. Hopefully he can be a contributing option on the outside as Matthews can play the slot.  Johnson should be our left tackle of the future and Brandon Brooks can help to sure up the line. It would be great if Seumalo can turn into a player as well. I like Smallwood but don’t think he’s an every down back. Think of him as a Darren Sproles type player.

So basically the offense will need a legitimate number one receiver, a workhorse running back and offensive line depth if they want to be a title team.

Defensively it all revolves around Fletcher Cox and he better be great after the boatload of money we threw his way. Having Bennie Logan beside him sures up the interior defensive line for the future but we’ll need pass rushers as there isn’t an elite option on the team that will be here to contribute in the future. At linebacker I like Hicks and Kendricks a lot, I just worry about injuries. They both seem to be fragile and that could prove to be costly down the road. If they can both stay healthy, though, look for them to be difference makers on defense for years to come. Secondary wise we’re pretty iffy. Eric Rowe could be a solid corner but I doubt he’ll ever be an elite shut down guy. Aside from him the only young guy on the roster is JaCorey Sheperd. He was having a good camp in 2014 but then went down with a season ending injury. Hopefully he can come back strong and turn into a real player which would be great since we got him in the 6th round of the draft. McLeod is a stud at safety that we should look to hold onto for the long term. Mills seems to be legit and a steal as a 7th round draft pick. He can play safety and a little bit of corner which could make him a staple in our future defenses especially in an age where versatility is so valuable.

So the defense will need pass rushers, a number one corner and linebacker depth to be successful in the future.

Non-Roster Assets

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5 Most Important Eagles in 2016

Eagles football is officially upon us. Hallelujah Hallelujah. The summer of Ben Simmons was great but Philly is a football city and it just doesn’t feel right when the Eagles aren’t the center of attention.

It is a gap year for the Eagles. Carson Wentz is going to ride the pine while Sam Bradford lead’s the team to what many think will be mediocrity. Agree with it or not, the plan was to look to the future while still fielding a competitive team for this coming season and Howie did a pretty good job of it.

The NFC East is winnable which could make this season interesting. The Redskins had a solid year in 2015 but did not beat any good teams. It remains to be seen whether or not Kirk Cousins is legit. The Giants couldn’t win a close game but spent a boatload of money in the offseason to bolster their defense. They also drafted two quality players in Eli Apple and Sterling Shepard but their roster still doesn’t do it for me. The Cowboys have the most talent but Tony Romo is made of glass and their success rests solely on his shoulders. I’d be lying if I told you Ezekiel Elliott didn’t scare me though.

That leaves the Eagles. They have pockets of talent on both sides of the ball, but neither unit is complete. If the following five players can have good seasons then the Birds can legitimately compete for the NFC East crown.

Ryan Mathews

After the departure of under-performing DeMarco Murray, this is now Ryan Mathews’ backfield. The Fresno State product had an impressive season in 2015 averaging 5 yards per carry which was good for 4th in the NFL. The one knock on him has always been his health. He has played in all 16 games once in his NFL career plus he will be 29 in October which is old by running back standards. If Mathews can stay healthy look for him to have a great year in 2016 in Doug Pederson’s new West Coast system where the trio of Jamaal Charles, Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware ranked 6th in the NFL in rushing last year in KC. Mathews is also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield which is a staple of the West Coast offense. Last time Mathews played a full season he had over 300 touches for 1,444 yards from scrimmage and 7 total touchdowns. If he comes anywhere close to those numbers in 2016 the Eagles offense will be in great shape. Outside of Mathews there are question marks at the RB position. Sproles is not an every down back, Barner has never had legitimate playing time in the NFL and Wendell Smallwood is a rookie. We need ya, Ryan.

Vinny Curry

Curry is currently the 9th highest paid pass rusher (4-3 DE and 3-4 OLB) in the NFL at an average of $9.25 million per year. That’s a hefty price for a guy who has never started an NFL game. In Curry’s defense, Billy Davis’ scheme over the last few years did not fit his talents as he was basically left without a home in the 3-4 defense. When Curry was on the field he always seemed to be putting pressure on the quarterback, hence the big payday. Sacks are sexy so pass rushers get paid accordingly. Besides the money side of it, a pass rush is extremely important to the Eagles success on defense. I foresee this team struggling to cover wide receivers and a great pass rush will only help with that deficiency. With Connor Barwin playing out of position it will be up to Vinny Curry to generate that rush from the outside. We should be stout inside with Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan making our defensive line the strongest unit on the roster. If Curry can become the player Eagles’ brass thinks he can be then this defense could be exciting under Jim Schwartz. Double digit sacks for #75 or bust.

Whoever is the Number 1 Corner

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Ben Simmons is the Antithesis of a Philly Star

Chris Ryan (executive editor of The Ringer/die-hard Sixers fan) and Bill Simmons (Boston Sports Guy/NBA Aficionado) sat down to record a podcast for The Ringer NBA Show last week. Among the topics discussed was Ben Simmons. This provided me a good excuse to gush about our new franchise player. But first, check out what two long-time NBA guys had to say:

Chris Ryan: I really wish he (Simmons) finished stronger, I really wish he would shoot the ball, and I really wish that when he did shoot, he made it, but I kinda don’t care. These are Jason Kidd passes he’s making. He’s making no-look full-court bounce passes with topspin. Everybody on that team is going to get 5 points better because of him.

Bill Simmons: This is why I was going so nuts about him before the college season. Because I really did feel like he had the Bird/Magic passing gene.

CS: (About his struggles at LSU) Ben actually needs to play with better players because he’s going to make good players great. He’s not going to make bad players that much better… you can see it in Summer League; there are guys that just aren’t there when he sees them.

BS: I agree. This was the case for Chris Paul. When you watch Chris Paul in college, he seemed like he was ahead of his teammates.  I’m all in on BS.

BS: Here’s the big question: was it worth it to throw away those three years after you saw the Ben Simmons no-looks?

CR: Yeah. Absolutely… As soon as you see something special like that… You haven’t had a good player to cheer for in Philly since Iverson. That’s longer than three years.

Ben Simmons has flaws. Correctable flaws, but flaws nonetheless. He has all the tools to be a phenomenal defender (the wingspan of a center, the agility of a wing, the quick hands of a guard, and the IQ of a coach), but his effort has fluctuated in and out. He’ll get lazy and miss a defensive assignment. He is an awesome passer, but he prefers the flashy pass over the smart pass sometimes, and has turned the ball over too much. Although he draws fouls, he is an awkward finisher at the rim, and players already know to force him to his left because he’s much more comfortable with his right hand. And of course, his jump shot needs work. He’s got a smooth release but too often shoots on the way down. Even worse, he lacks confidence in his shot—and anyone who has played the game knows how important confidence is when it comes to shooting.

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Sexy Hexy Strikes Again

After weeks of going back and forth, Hextall and Schenn’s agent have agreed to a 4 year, 20.5 million dollar contract. That’s a 5.125 million cap hit, and leaves Hexy with about 2 million in total cap space. Sooo, yeah unless someone wants to play for minimum wage, Hextall should be done adding players.

Luckily, this whole ordeal avoided arbitration. Don’t know what arbitration is?

I’ll put it this way. Basically, Ron Hextall is serving as Brayden Schenn’s mean older brother. Even though little Brayden argued that since he played hockey so well in the second half he deserved 5.5 million a year, Ronny didn’t agree and thought his little brother deserved under 5 million per year. So, since Brayden can’t beat up Ron, he decides to go to mommy and daddy and request arbitration. Mom and Dad serve as the NHL in this situation and settle the argument for Ron and Brayden by reaching a middle ground and setting a fair salary. Brayden filed for arbitration, but luckily Ron and Brayden reached an agreement before the NHL made the decision.

This is another spectacular negotiating job done by Wonder Boy himself, Ron Hextall. Brayden is just starting to crack his prime and is only 24 years old. Looking at the market, the Flyers are lucky someone didn’t try to throw an offer sheet at the Flyers for a contract slightly higher. You could argue he’s worth 6-7 million a year on the open market with the second half he had last year and still only being 24.

When your breakdown the contract, this could be the best value signing of the offseason.

Milan Lucic (28): 7 years, 42 million. 55 points last year. Yack.

Andrew Ladd (30): 7 years, 38.5 million. 46 points. Yack.

Kyle Okposo (28): 7 years, 42 million. 64 points.

David Backes (32): 5 years, 30 million. 45 points. Yack.

Louis Eriksson (31): 6 years, 36 million. 63 points.

Brayden Schenn (24): 4 years, 20.5 million. 59 points. Yummy.

Ron Hextall could have looked around the league and caved in to the market to make sure Brayden got paid as much as these soon to be scrubs. But he didn’t, and knew he had a lot of pressure to stay above the cap and provide a competitive team for next year. In the contracts listed above, Brayden is by far younger and the only one who is likely to improve his play. He will only be 28 when this contract is over and not thinking about retirement like the rest of the guys above

Brayden Schenn is now apart of a strong, young core of players that should be around for the long haul.

Go Flyers baby.

Written by Mike Cloran

Image Source: philly.com

Phillies Prospects Poised to be Called Up Soon

Aside from the trade deadline, my favorite part of the MLB season has to be Sept. 1.

For those who don’t know, that’s when the 25-man roster expands, and teams can add up to 15 more players to their roster for the final month of games.

This year, while the Phillies may not be contending for a playoff spot, they’ll certainly have their fair share of call-ups. And the best thing for us fans is we likely won’t have to wait until Sept. 1 to see these guys in action.

There’s a slew of young talent at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, and it will be interesting to see who gets the nod first.

My guess is it’ll be Jake Thompson.

Thompson came over to the Phils organization last July following the trade of ace Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers. I mentioned in my last piece how starter Jeremy Hellickson will be the Phillie most likely to change teams at the 2016 trade deadline, which would thereby open the door for Thompson, who has arguably been the best pitcher in all of the Phillies’ minor league levels this year.

I wrote a piece on Thompson on June 22, when he was in the midst of a strong stretch of outings after beginning the year with a number of poor outings. Well, Thompson has been even better since that post. In has last five starts, Thompson has pitched 33.1 innings, allowing just one run. He hasn’t lost a game since his worst outing of the season, which came on May 31 against Norfolk when he allowed six earned runs in 3.2 innings.

Thompson leads Ironpigs’ staters in wins (9), strikeouts (82), ERA (2.29) and WHIP (1.10). Since I believe Hellickson will be traded before the Aug. 1 trade deadline, I’m gonna put my money on Thompson being the first Ironpig prospect to be called up to replace him.Interestingly, the Phillies set it up coming out of the break so that Hellickson and Thompson would pitch on the same day. You have to think that’s not a coincidence.

The second could be outfielder Nick Williams. Williams came along with Thompson in the Cole Hamels trade last season and has done nothing but hit since he arrived to the Phillies organization.

In 90 games this season, Williams is batting .287.

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The Future of Philly Sports – The 2020 Flyers Part 2

The Phillies won a title in 2008. For most of us it feels like a lifetime ago. Following that, we as Philly fans have not had much to hang our hats on. The Phillies made another trip to the World Series in 2009 but were beaten by the Yankees in 6 games. From there the roster got better but the team’s playoff stays got shorter which ultimately led to rebuilding. The Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010 but were disposed of in 6 games by a much more talented Chicago Blackhawks team. The Eagles had a stretch of dominance in the early 2000’s but could never put it together in capturing a Super Bowl Title. Their most recent appearance was in 2004 where they lost a heartbreaker to the cheating ass Patriots 24-21. The Sixers haven’t been a contender since the Iverson days and even then Kobe and Shaq ran the league.

When will it finally be our time? When will Philadelphia get its chance to be a winning sports city? The word “rebuilding” is a dreaded one, especially in a place where patient fans are few and far between. But with all four teams rebuilding at the same time we could be looking at the Golden Age of Philly sports a few years down the line. That is if all goes as planned.


For the first time in 10 years, the Philadelphia Flyers held picks in all 7 rounds in the NHL Entry draft. The last time we had picks in all 7 rounds of the draft was 2006. In that 2006 draft, we drafted the most talented ginger to play the game of hockey in the last decade. Three seasons later, Claude Giroux is on his way up to stardom and helping the Flyers get to the Stanley Cup, only to lose to the Blackhawks and rapist Patrick Kane. That 2009-2010 team had a strong core of players. Richards, Carter, Pronger, Timonen, Hartnell, Briere and the list goes on and on. I find the situation in 2006 to be very similar to where the Flyers stand now. As much as I will always love and miss Ed Snider and his passion, he is no longer around and this is really Ron Hextall’s ship to sail by himself from here on out.

A big difference between now and 10 years ago is the Chris Pronger effect. Before the 2009 season, the organization believed they had enough talent to let loose of a decent chunk of the future to snag Chris Pronger from the Ducks. That trade made complete sense for the Flyers, and it almost got the job done. The problem was, the Pronger effect hurt us for years down the road. The mindset of giving up important draft picks and young pieces to fill gaps never got us anywhere. Chris Pronger couldn’t stay healthy (As most 6’6 38 year olds don’t) and we were stuck trying to replace big Chris for years. Ed Snider screaming “win now” in Holmgrens ear every year got us to the playoffs just about every season, but we were never deep enough to hoist lord Stanley.

Paul Holmgren Didn’t do a Good Job.

Paul Holmgren’s problem as GM was his lack of finding defense for sure. Once Chris Pronger was ruled out of hockey with concussions, Paul made some pretty shitty moves. We saw Paul give away draft picks for players like Pavel Kubina, Nicklas Grossman, Andrew Macdonald, and Mark Streit to top the list. All of these players came over here with decent value, but short-termed value. As time went on, Paul was unable to replace these short term replacements, and had little in the prospect pool on defense. He made poor decisions on a lot of contracts to make matters a lot worse. Giving Ilya Bryzgalov 9 years, 51 million, signing Lecavalier to 4 years and Andrew Macdonald to 6 years cost Paul his job and any hope for the Flyers to have a serious team to compete for a cup.

Hextall is going to do none of that shit.

Hextall! Future!

Hextall swipe

Everything changes with a poised general manager like Ron Hextall in charge. Even though Ron was only Assistant GM in LA, he was still a huge part of bringing them two Stanley Cups. Ron is bringing a similar approach to Philadelphia, build from the net out and draft well. I have a hard time seeing Ron making the mistakes Holmgren made with contracts down the road.  

In the matter of a few years, Hextall has already compiled the NHL’s most impressive list of defenseman under the age of 22. Without even having any legitimate scoring prospects besides Konecny, he already has a top 5 farm system in the NHL.

TSN’s Craig Button (Probably the smartest hockey guy on TV) has four Flyers prospect’s in his list of top 50 prospects in the NHL. With three of them being defenseman, that’s something to get very excited for come the year 2020.

Flyers in the Top 50

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The Future of Philly Sports – The 2020 Flyers Part 1

The Phillies won a title in 2008. For most of us it feels like a lifetime ago. Following that, we as Philly fans have not had much to hang our hats on. The Phillies made another trip to the World Series in 2009 but were beaten by the Yankees in 6 games. From there the roster got better but the team’s playoff stays got shorter which ultimately led to rebuilding. The Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010 but were disposed of in 6 games by a much more talented Chicago Blackhawks team. The Eagles had a stretch of dominance in the early 2000’s but could never put it together in capturing a Super Bowl Title. Their most recent appearance was in 2004 where they lost a heartbreaker to the cheating ass Patriots 24-21. The Sixers haven’t been a contender since the Iverson days and even then Kobe and Shaq ran the league.

When will it finally be our time? When will Philadelphia get its chance to be a winning sports city? The word “rebuilding” is a dreaded one, especially in a place where patient fans are few and far between. But with all four teams rebuilding at the same time we could be looking at the Golden Age of Philly sports a few years down the line. That is if all goes as planned.


Like the other three major sports teams in this town, the Flyers are in the midst of a rebuild even if the team’s management refuses to call it that.  After a nice period of prolonged success in the early to mid-2000’s, capped off by the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals appearance, the team has dropped down a bit in the NHL power rankings.  Sure they’ve had a few playoff appearances here and there since the 2010 run, but never anything of significance as they haven’t advanced past the second round of the tournament since they stunned the Bruins in 2010.

Flyers hockey has always been linked with trading young assets for older veterans in an attempt to push the team over the edge to win a Cup, namely when Paul Holmgren was GM.  This strategy definitely made for some entertaining hockey, but never led to a Cup and left the cupboard bare in terms of young, homegrown talent.  Bad contracts for aging players have hamstrung the Flyers, and has left them in a middle ground for years.  Good enough to just make the Playoffs but never good enough to make a serious run at the Cup.

But the culture of the Flyers is changing, with former goalie Ron Hextall running the show now the team has focused on drafting young talent and purging the bad contracts that have held the team back for years.  So let’s dive in and see where Sexy Hexy will have the Orange and Black come 2020.

Roster:

Here we’ll look at the guys who are currently up with the Flyers who will likely be with the team and making an impact come 2020.

Forwards:

Claude Giroux

Wayne Simmonds

Jake Voracek

Sean Couturier

Brayden Schenn

Michael Raffl

Scott Laughton

Defensemen:

Shayne Gostisbehere

Michael Del Zotto

Radko Gudas

Goalies:

Steve Mason

Michael Neuvirth


Younger guys who are not on the team but will likely make an impact come 2020.

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The Future of Philly Sports – The 2020 Sixers

The Phillies won a title in 2008. For most of us it feels like a lifetime ago. Following that, we as Philly fans have not had much to hang our hats on. The Phillies made another trip to the World Series in 2009 but were beaten by the Yankees in 6 games. From there the roster got better but the team’s playoff stays got shorter which ultimately led to rebuilding. The Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010 but were disposed of in 6 games by a much more talented Chicago Blackhawks team. The Eagles had a stretch of dominance in the early 2000’s but could never put it together in capturing a Super Bowl Title. Their most recent appearance was in 2004 where they lost a heartbreaker to the cheating ass Patriots 24-21. The Sixers haven’t been a contender since the Iverson days and even then Kobe and Shaq ran the league.

When will it finally be our time? When will Philadelphia get its chance to be a winning sports city? The word “rebuilding” is a dreaded one, especially in a place where patient fans are few and far between. But with all four teams rebuilding at the same time we could be looking at the Golden Age of Philly sports a few years down the line. That is if all goes as planned.


As a 4 for 4 guy, let me preface this by saying the Sixers were consistently my least favorite of the Philly sports quartet. After the Iverson era, I’d casually watch the team and follow where they were in the standings (ooh 7th, nice), but I never really cared when they won or lost. There was no hope, and therefore no passion. If the Eagles lost, I’d be pissed all day. A Flyers game always garnered a couple “Fuckin Right!” ‘s. The Phillies had Harry the K, a dynamite lineup and cheap tickets.

What made me love these teams is that they always posed a threat to win a championship, whether it be due to the layout of the sport (a wild card team/8 seed could legitimately win a title), or the actual team itself. The Sixers were just a bunch of dudes run by a management team that really didn’t care about titles.

For me and many others in this city, that changed briefly when we made that Bynum trade. But after the dust settled on his bowling shoes, our decade-long malaise in mediocrity looked headed for a decade long depression. That was until Samuel William Wallace Hinkie got here. I remember sitting in my 03 Chevy Malibu, eating some god awful Wendy’s fries when I heard about the Jrue Holiday trade. First, it was reported we traded him and a 1st for the 6th pick. Fuck this Hinkie guy. He hasn’t even hired a coach yet, now this buffoonery? But later, when we found out we were getting that pick? And then we took the Noel dude that was supposed to go first overall at 6? And then you realized we might have a shot at Wiggins, whose hype train was going 200 miles an hour? That’s when the Sixers when from 4 to 1.

This is a guy that was willing to put his dick on the table to give us a contending team. He rarely showed the media his dick and never talked openly about his dick, but trust me, Hinkie and his dick were going to Make the Sixers Great Again. Some understandably couldn’t get past this notion that to be great, the best way to do it is to be really really really bad. But I was all about it because although it was a long, dark, gloomy tunnel, there was a blinding light at the end of it. And as that light starts to shine brighter and brighter with each Simmons pass, more people are understanding the merits of what the last 3 years of trash basketball could lead to.

I mean, people are really into the Summer League this year. The Sixers are that team. At least until preseason football starts. And even then, I don’t think it’s crazy to think eventually the Sixers will overtake the Eagles and sit on the Philly Sports Throne.

Who knows, maybe that’s as early as 2020. Let’s take a look at what we have now, and project what we’ll be a few years down the line.

Current Roster

First we’ll look at guys on the current roster that could be major contributors come 2020, with their age in parentheses. Of course, the chances one or more of these guys gets traded are very high, but let’s pretend we’re in a tradeless world.

PG/PF/Point Forward/Power Guard/Who Cares: Ben Simmons (20)

PG: T.J. McConnell (24)

Wings: Timothe Luwawu (21), Robert Covington (25), Furkan Korkmaz (21)

PF: Dario Saric (22)

C: Joel Embiid (22), Nerlens Noel (22), Jahlil Okafor (20)

Simmons and Embiid are the cornerstones. Their pick and roll game could be one of the funnest pieces of basketball minutae for years. Many words have been said about them. There will be a lot more to come.

Okafor already has one of the best post games in the league at 20, but was one of the worst defensive players in the NBA and was a below average rebounder. Brett Brown has repeatedly voiced his desire to have a team that can run up and down the floor, a style Jah simply doesn’t adhere to. If I coached the Sixers, I’d utilize Jah as a dominant change-of-pace 6th man that could run train on 2nd units. But I doubt he’d be cool coming off the bench, and with his talent, I wouldn’t blame him. Although Jah has a promising future, he’s a prime trade candidate.

Noel’s production digressed last year, largely due to injuries and playing out of position as the team attempted to make room for Okafor. But he still managed to finish in the top 20 in steals and blocks per game, one of only two players to do so (Paul Millsap was the other). That defensive versatility gives him tremendous value and DPOY potential. His offensive game is very limited, but he put up solid numbers with a mediocre point guard. He will be an UFA after this season, and is also a candidate to be traded. It’ll be interesting to see how the Sixers handle their glut of bigs.

Could you maybe find a way where these two and Embiid could coexist and live together on the same team? I guess so. But that’s like asking, could you maybe live in your parents’ basement for the next 5 years? It’s possible, but it’s far from ideal.

Dario Saric is going to be that dude. Brett Brown’s voice goes up an octave when he talks about him:

“For those who haven’t seen him play, there will be a real excitement of how versatile he is. There is a toughness that the city of Philadelphia is just going to fall in love with. He’s a bull-in-a-china-shop type player. He can rebound, lead a break, he can hit threes — that’s the thing I think I’m most excited about watching the growth of his game. He just comes with a real versatility and skill package at 6-foot-10, similar to Ben in some ways.”

He’s coming over to the states this year and will sign a deal on the rookie scale. Dobro Sanjre! (that’s Croatian for “Good Shit!”). P.S. – if you didn’t read the above quote in Brett Brown’s accent, what the hell are you doing? Go back and read it again.

The center position is locked in. Ben Simmons will likely guard 4’s on defense, as will Saric. So two of five spots (that’s 40% for you analytics nerds out there) are basically set for the next few seasons.

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The Future of Philly Sports – The 2020 Eagles

The Phillies won a title in 2008. For most of us it feels like a lifetime ago. Following that, we as Philly fans have not had much to hang our hats on. The Phillies made another trip to the World Series in 2009 but were beaten by the Yankees in 6 games. From there the roster got better but the team’s playoff stays got shorter which ultimately led to rebuilding. The Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010 but were disposed of in 6 games by a much more talented Chicago Blackhawks team. The Eagles had a stretch of dominance in the early 2000’s but could never put it together in capturing a Super Bowl Title. Their most recent appearance was in 2004 where they lost a heartbreaker to the cheating ass Patriots 24-21. The Sixers haven’t been a contender since the Iverson days and even then Kobe and Shaq ran the league.

When will it finally be our time? When will Philadelphia get its chance to be a winning sports city? The word “rebuilding” is a dreaded one, especially in a place where patient fans are few and far between. But with all four teams rebuilding at the same time we could be looking at the Golden Age of Philly sports a few years down the line. That is if all goes as planned.


Next, let’s take a look at the Eagles. This has always been a football town and always will be. I’ve often said that if the Eagles were to win a Super Bowl I don’t know if the city would survive the parade. It would be absolute bedlam.

The NFL is the toughest league to sustain success in. Players have shorter shelf lives and injuries are much more common, it’s all part of the physicality that is the sport itself. Most times it takes a transcendent player like Tom Brady or a viscous defense like the 2000 Ravens to win a title. Sometimes it takes a lot of luck, a la the 2008 and 2012 Giants. Competition is so fierce that it is extremely rare to see a team make it to the Super Bowl two years in a row, let alone repeat as champions. So I’ll be totally clear even though it hurts me to do so. I think the Eagles have the worst chance of bringing a title to Philly in the next few years due to the league they play in and the young talent and assets they currently possess.

Roster

Here we look at guys on the current roster that should be major contributors come 2020 along with their current age.

QB: Carson Wentz (23)

RB: Wendell Smallwood (22)

WR: Jordan Matthews (23), Nelson Agholor (23)

TE: Zach Ertz (25)

OL: Lane Johnson (26), Brandon Brooks (26), Isaac Seumalo (22)

DL: Fletcher Cox (25), Bennie Logan (26)

LB: Mychal Kendricks (25), Jordan Hicks (24),

SEC: Rodney McLeod (26), Eric Rowe (23), Jalen Mills (22), JaCorey Sheperd (23)

K: Cody Parkey (24)

Basically if you aren’t on this list I don’t think you’re good enough to really be a contributor or you’ll be too old by 2020 to be one. There were a couple guys who were borderline like Vinny Curry who is 27 and Reuben Randle who is 25. If I questioned you I left you off. There are also some stretches on the list like Nelson Agholor, Wendell Smallwood, Jalen Mills and JaCorey Sheperd but they made it simply because of their age and that they were either a high pick or have gotten high praise in the media. Agholor is a huge question mark but we spent a first rounder on him so I’m hoping he figures it out. We don’t know what to expect out of the other three guys, but from what I’ve heard out of camp they seem like they can play.

The Eagles aren’t in necessarily great shape in terms of youth. It basically all falls on the shoulders of Carson Wentz. If you have an elite QB you’ll succeed and if you don’t you better hope you have an incredible defense.

Aside from Wentz I like Ertz, Matthews, Brooks and Johnson on offense. Ertz is one of the youngest starting tight ends in the league and seems to be getting better each year. Matthews had a down year in 2015 but I think he can be a really good number two receiver option on a good team. This obviously means we’re missing a number one receiver. I don’t think Agholor is that guy. He hasn’t shown me anything on the field to make me think he’s going to be a player and now he’s gotten in trouble off the field. Hopefully he can be a contributing option on the outside as Matthews can play the slot.  Johnson should be our left tackle of the future and Brandon Brooks can help to sure up the line. It would be great if Seumalo can turn into a player as well. I like Smallwood but don’t think he’s an every down back. Think of him as a Darren Sproles type player.

So basically the offense will need a legitimate number one receiver, a workhorse running back and offensive line depth if they want to be a title team.

Defensively it all revolves around Fletcher Cox and he better be great after the boatload of money we threw his way. Having Bennie Logan beside him sures up the interior defensive line for the future but we’ll need pass rushers as there isn’t an elite option on the team that will be here to contribute in the future. At linebacker I like Hicks and Kendricks a lot, I just worry about injuries. They both seem to be fragile and that could prove to be costly down the road. If they can both stay healthy, though, look for them to be difference makers on defense for years to come. Secondary wise we’re pretty iffy. Eric Rowe could be a solid corner but I doubt he’ll ever be an elite shut down guy. Aside from him the only young guy on the roster is JaCorey Sheperd. He was having a good camp in 2014 but then went down with a season ending injury. Hopefully he can come back strong and turn into a real player which would be great since we got him in the 6th round of the draft. McLeod is a stud at safety that we should look to hold onto for the long term. Mills seems to be legit and a steal as a 7th round draft pick. He can play safety and a little bit of corner which could make him a staple in our future defenses especially in an age where versatility is so valuable.

So the defense will need pass rushers, a number one corner and linebacker depth to be successful in the future.

Non-Roster Assets

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The Future of Philly Sports – The 2020 Phillies

The Phillies won a title in 2008. For most of us it feels like a lifetime ago. Following that, we as Philly fans have not had much to hang our hats on. They made another trip to the World Series in 2009 but were beaten by the Yankees in 6 games. From there the roster got better but the team’s playoff stays got shorter which ultimately led to rebuilding. The Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010 but were disposed of in 6 games by a much more talented Chicago Blackhawks team. The Eagles had a stretch of dominance in the early 2000’s but could never put it together in capturing a Super Bowl Title. Their most recent appearance was in 2004 where they lost a heartbreaker to the cheating ass Patriots 24-21. The Sixers haven’t been a contender since the Iverson days and even then Kobe and Shaq ran the league.

When will it finally be our time? When will Philadelphia get its chance to be a winning sports city? The word “rebuilding” is a dreaded one, especially in a place where patient fans are few and far between. But with all four teams rebuilding at the same time we could be looking at the Golden Age of Philly sports a few years down the line. That is if all goes as planned.


First, we’ll examine the Phillies. The team captured our hearts during their magical championship season of 2008, in what was part of a run that included five straight NL East division titles and two NL pennants. But since 2011, when they were ousted in the division series round by the St. Louis Cardinals, baseball in Philly just hasn’t been the same. Since that season, when the team won a franchise-record 102 games, they have followed with 81 wins in 2012, 73 in 2013 and 2014, and just 63 victories in 2015.

Gone are the packed houses at Citizens Bank Park. Gone are the all-so-familiar names of Hamels, Utley, Rollins and Victorino. Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz remain, but are shells of their former selves. Charlie Manuel is gone, too, and after a failed experiment with Ryne Sandberg as skipper, Pete Mackanin is now the manager.

The front office has overseen a slew of changes as well. Andy MacPhail has replaced longtime Phillies president David Montgomery, and Matt Klentak is the team’s general manager, taking over for Ruben Amaro, who is now an employee of the Boston Red Sox.

With all this change, however, has come a breath of fresh air. After the 2012 season, it was clear the Phillies needed to rebuild. Everyone saw it. Everyone except the people who needed to see it. Amaro went out and signed more aging veterans like Marlon Byrd and A.J. Burnett to give one last shot at a title with the 2008 core of heroes. It didn’t work, and the signs of a rebuild finally started towards the end of 2014.

We’re now two-plus seasons in, and I think you could say the state of the organization is a lot better than what most people imagined it would be. A hot start got the year off to an auspicious start, and at the one point, the team was 24-17, seven games over .500 for the first time since the 2011 season — the last time the team made the playoffs. That prompted talks of the club possibly sneaking into the playoffs as a wild card, but a June in which they lost 19 of 27 games, including a nine-game losing streak, has dashed any hopes of that happening. The team currently sits at 43-50, in fourth place in the NL East.

Still, there’s reason to believe this team can be a contender within the next two years. Though the MLB talent might not show right now, I’d take on anyone in an argument that says the Phillies don’t have a top-5 minor league system in baseball.

While we’re on that topic, here’s a look at who I think what the starting lineup will look like at a time when the team should be among the top contenders in the National League.

2020 Projected Phillies Lineup (Current age in parentheses)

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