Welcome back, Patch readers!
It's been a rough few days for the Eagles (and a little rough for the Phillies), so we're breaking out our trusty sports psychology hats to hopefully talk a few people off the ledge.
Think happy thoughts!
Reasons to worry:
Nate Allen - Free Safety
Allen had a miserable game on Thursday, as he was completely abused by Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense. He was frequently out of position, and when he was beaten, he was beaten badly.
On the bright side, Allen is a second-year player coming off a knee injury. He's learning a new defense, and unlike the Steelers, the Eagles do not scheme for preseason games. It's concerning, but not worth picking out a spot on the Walt Whitman.
Asante Samuel - Left Cornerback
With Asomugha shutting down the right side, teams are going to throw to the weaker side, which is now defended by Samuel. Known for long interception returns and jumping routes, Samuel is more of a ball hawk than a cover corner.
If he's going to continue his aggressive style of play, then safety coverage over the top is absolutely necessary.
On the bright side, Allen's poor game probably had a direct effect on Samuel, so it's a bit too soon to give up on the man who leads the league in interceptions over the past five years.
Casey Matthews - Middle Linebacker
Feel free to smash your head into the wall, as there is not a lot of hope to be found on this one.
Matthews was destroyed for a second straight week, as he proved yet again that he lacks the physical strength and size to be an NFL-caliber linebacker. His positioning showed improvement, but for the sake of personal health, being in the right position is going to get this kid killed. Think of a cute little bunny jumping in front of a freight train.
On the bright side, there is veteran talent available in Kirk Morrison and Lofa Tatupu. Look for the Eagles to make a move on one of them as early as tomorrow.
Ryan Harris - Offensive Tackle
This guy simply needs to get healthy, but it looks like his back problems may be an ongoing issue. You certainly don't want Justice out there for another season, and though King Dunlap's size is highly touted, a large wingspan for a right tackle is not a good thing.
On the bright side, Dunlap performed well on Thursday night, against an extremely talented Pittsburgh defense. If he can figure a way to turn his arms into an asset instead of a liability, the Birds may have a legitimate backup.
Reasons to be optimistic:
It's only the second game of the preseason, and with a shortened offseason, teams like Pittsburgh, who returned 20 of 22 starters, will have a natural advantage until the players who have moved have a chance to be brought up to speed.
Jeremy Maclin is back, Desean Jackson went through his first game action, and Shady McCoy had a few decent runs. Reid never schemes or gameplans for preseason games, so score or outcome shouldn't have any bearing on the team moving forward.
Question: Who stood out during the loss to Pittsburgh on Thursday night?
Reasons to worry:
Jimmy Rollins - Shortstop
Rollins hit the disabled list with a grade-two groin strain, though he has said he'll be back in early September. He's played the field extremely well this year, and his bat was starting to heat up.
On the bright side, Polanco recently came off the disabled list, so it looks like Valdez will fill in at shortstop for the next two weeks. The lineup may have to be shuffled a bit, but it's a plus to only be down one bat.
Bullpen - Closer
Madson blew a save on Friday night, and Bastardo followed suit on Sunday afternoon, before Brad Lidge completed the trifecta by allowing the game-winning run. This team doesn't want to go into the playoffs not knowing who the closer is.
On the bright side, Madson has proven he has the arsenal to be a closer, and Bastardo has been the most reliable bullpen arm all season. Hopefully last weekend was just a hiccup, and the weather sure didn't help.
Reasons to be optimistic:
The Phillies have the depth to overcome the Rollins injury, and the series loss in Washington may just be part of the ebb and flow of the long baseball season. It was their first road series loss since early June, and the team still has a large lead over Atlanta, and still claims the best record in baseball.
Question: Are you concerned about who is going to close games?
Quote of the Week
"Ruben Amaro would have already gotten a middle linebacker," - Phil Allen a.k.a. Phil from Mount Airy on 97.5 FM with Nick Kayal.
Video of the Week
You can thank Associate Regional Editor David Powell for this gem of a video. It's quite possibly the most memorable "first major-league at-bat" I've ever seen.
The Phillies already bounced back by taking (at least) two out of three from the Mets, outscoring them 19-4; they continue divisional play with another home series against the Marlins on Friday.
The Eagles head home to the friendly confines of Lincoln Financial Field, as they prepare for another exhibition game against the Cleveland Browns tomorrow.
The Union have two games this week, against Harrisburg and New England, respectively.
Here’s what’s happening for the rest of the week in Philadelphia sports:
- Phillies versus Mets 1:05 p.m. on CSN
- Union at Harrisburg 7 p.m. (untelevised)
- Eagles versus Browns 7:30 p.m. on 6ABC
- Phillies versus Marlins 7:05 p.m. on CSN
- Phillies versus Marlins 7:05 p.m. on PHL17
- Union versus New England 7 p.m. on CSN
- Phillies versus Marlins 1:35 p.m. on PHL 17
If you have questions you would like to see answered in next week's Phour for Phour column, email them to email@example.com.