Tag Archives: Cody Parkey

10 Things I Think I Think

In the mood to write a little bit after that frustrating opener, and it’s been a month and a half since a 10 Things I Think I Think post.

Let’s hit it below with thoughts on Chip, Sam Bradford, Nick Foles, Cody Parkey, Billy Davis, beating the Cowboys at home, and more:

  1. Don’t hate Chip’s decision to try the field goal and take the one-point lead. Hate the way it was rushed and wish he would have used a timeout to gather more information. Talk to Dave Fipp about his range pregame, slow things down for a minute and go. Not saying it would have made the difference but with so little time on the clock, Parkey looked rushed and uncomfortable lining up.
  2. As I said, understand the call to kick the field goal, but there’s a weird trend of Chip going against his nature and getting super conservative in those situations. The Arizona game last year comes to mind immediately. This is still a team built on its offense, and it’s odd that the coach for one reason or another isn’t betting on his strengths there.
  3. Still have a ton of confidence in Parkey. My haters will have a field day if I’m wrong, but he was perfect from beyond 50 yards out last season. Way better than Alex Henery ever was or will be.
  4. Let’s talk quarterbacks, shall we? It’s going to be natural to compare Sam Bradford and Nick Foles as the season goes on with Foles winning Round 1. Both quarterbacks had the ball deep in their own territory late in the fourth quarter with their teams trailing. Foles engineered a game-tying touchdown drive and won in overtime because winning is what he does. Bradford threw a game-ending interception and lost, something that he knows a lot about since being in the NFL. People like to overrate quarterback ‘wins,’ pointing to examples such as Vince Young having a winning record as a starter, but unlike pitcher wins in baseball, there is no bullpen and less variables. Barring injury, the same quarterback plays the entire game and has the ball in his hands for nearly half of it. When only 16-games are being played as opposed to 162, the margin for error is slimmer. At some point it doesn’t matter how you win, but simply that you did. Bradford was hot, having only thrown two incompletions in the second half prior to the interception, but the end result was all too familiar. It’s unfair to say that Chip made the wrong decision after 60 minutes of football, but in order to be right, he’ll need two multiple-year trends of Bradford and Foles to reverse with only 15 games for it to happen.
  5. Given Billy Davis credit in the past but the more I watch, the more I get concerned. Not a bad defensive coordinator by any stretch, just not sure he’s a Super Bowl caliber one either.
  6. ‘Soft,’ ‘Overrated,’ ‘Bradley Fletcher,’ ‘Nnamdi.’ Byron Maxwell has been called a lot of mean things over the past day, deservedly so, but I wouldn’t make these conclusions based on one week. Julio Jones is really fucking good. That said, he’s probably lucky the Cowboys won’t have Dez Bryant on Sunday.
  7. Nelson Agholor — Great preseason, underwhelming actual debut. Nothing to worry about but hope the Eagles can get him more involved.
  8. I think Monday is the most I’ve ever seen the Eagles run a sweep play with their backs. Suppose that’s what happens when you don’t invest in guards and need an alternative to the inside zone read.
  9. Fair or not, Sunday is huge not just for this year’s team, but for Chip’s career. At some point, you need to beat the Cowboys at home. Andy Reid was very good about this early in his Eagles tenure. Chip hasn’t done it yet, and if he doesn’t do it this weekend, there will be folks who hope he doesn’t get another chance in 2016.
  10. It’s fun playing in a division where 50 percent of it is eliminated after Week 1. The Redskins and Giants are going nowhere. The Cowboys don’t have arguably the best receiver in the game and struggled on Sunday to beat a poorly coached Giants team. The sky isn’t falling, but it would be nice to see a rain cloud or two go away come 8 p.m. Sunday.

The Return of the Eagles Haikus

Every football season brings about something new.

Sometimes, it’s a flash in the pan and quickly goes away. Other times, it has staying power, and the latter is the case here. Beginning last season, we introduced a practice where in addition to some longer and deeper thoughts, every Eagles game would be recapped in the form of a haiku.

Along with seeing live football again for the first time in eight months, one of the most components about today was knowing it would end with a haiku, and there are certainly plenty of options to draw from after the Eagles 36-10 victory in the preseason opener against the Colts.

Some concerns were alleviated. Others — like the quarterback position — remain, and thankfully there are three more games to hopefully see some Sam Bradford and sort out the third-string competition between Tim Tebow and Matt Barkley.

There is time for information gathering. Many people think preseason football is meaningless, and from a big picture standpoint, they’re not totally wrong, but taking that mindset and henceforth dismissing everything as irrelevant inhibits the opportunity to learn valuable information about rookies, new acquisitions, roster battles, and more.

Anyway, that’s a different debate for another day. It’s been 231 days since we wrote a haiku. Let’s hit it:

Rookie draft picks flash

Barner puts on quite a show

Parkey concern? Nah

10 Things I Think I Think About the Philadelphia Eagles Heading into Training Camp

If you followed on Twitter earlier this morning, I shared ’10 Things I Think I Think’ about the Eagles as training camp gets underway.

While this isn’t considered part of our 44-day series, stuff like this is fun to do on occasion and will surface every now and then. Be it predictions or random thoughts, a post is a good way to expand on 140-character tidbits.

Below is our first edition of 2015:

  1. Cody Parkey is really good. It’s theoretically hard for a rookie to only miss four kicks and be even better in Year 2. He’s capable of it. Note: There isn’t much else to add here. It was clear that Parkey’s leg was tired toward the end of last year, never having been through a 16-game season before. Still, Parkey was 8-for-10 on field goals beyond 40 yards out while also consistently putting kickoffs in the end zone and should again set the bar high in Year 2.
  2. Marcus Smith is not. Odds may be against me, but I’ll stick to my prediction that he doesn’t make the 53-man roster out of training camp. Note: Most roster projections will have Smith on the team, but it’s less of a slam dunk than people think. Smith doesn’t play special teams, and while part of that can be chalked up to the unit being so good last year that they didn’t need the services of a rookie, there’s no room for the first-round disappointment if he doesn’t show major strides from a pass-rushing standpoint in camp.
  3. Nick Foles and Sam Bradford will both have good seasons, but I am much more confident in Foles having one than I am Bradford. Note: Foles, in what was perceived to be a ‘poor’ season last year before getting hurt in early November, was still more productive than Bradford has been in some of his better seasons. A lot of excuses have been made for Bradford, and some of them, including a lack of skill position talent around him and a poor offensive line, hold water, but many assumptions have also been made about a career year in a quarterback friendly system that are less than a guarantee.
  4. Re-signing Brandon Graham was probably the correct decision, but I am concerned about how he holds up in a full-time starter role. Note: Graham, to his credit, has shed the ‘bust’ label that was stuck on him early in his career but has still never played more than 43% of a team’s total snaps during the season. The goal of free agency and player personnel decisions is ultimately to pay more for what you think you can get in the future and less so what you got in the past, and that’s what the Eagles did here. Let’s hope it was a wise investment.
  5. If Graham can play, this is the best Eagles front-7 since early Jim Johnson days, and it has the potential to be even better than that. Note: Kiko Alonso has a chance to be the best Eagles linebacker since Jeremiah Trotter’s first stint here. Consistency is a question, but this unit should be a major strength.
  6. Vinny Curry will be extra hungry this season, and if he puts his napkin on his lap, Billy Davis might even let him have a second dessert. Note: After playing sparingly as a rookie during the 2012 season, Curry has improved year-by-year, first with four sacks in 2013 and then reaching nine last year to go with four forced fumbles in an increased role on the defensive line. Bet your friend that he gets double digits this year and thank me in mid-December.
  7. There’s two NFL coaches I would take over Chip Kelly, and both coached in the Super Bowl last year. Could make a case for Harbaugh/Tomlin too. Note: Considering 15 other coaches have won playoff games and Kelly hasn’t, folks could certainly have a bone to pick with this one. Still, I think there are some who if starting a team right now would take Kelly as their coach in a heartbeat. Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll, by the way, won a combined 29 games in their first two seasons as NFL coaches. Kelly, by himself, has won 20 after taking over a 4-12 squad.
  8. The Eagles opener scares the shit out of me. They have really struggled against Dallas at home. Lose to Atlanta, and you’re looking at 0-2.  Note: The Eagles are 2-0 in season openers under Kelly, although last year’s was certainly far from perfect with the 17-0 halftime deficit to the Jaguars. Hopefully the record stays unblemished as playing a division opponent on short rest who you can’t beat at home recently would be a scary task.
  9. Nelson Agholor will have a better rookie season than Jordan Matthews did last year, and concern about wide receiver depth is overblown. Note: We’ll get more into this during our series. Coop Dawgy is not good and ideally will lose playing time rather quickly, but the rookie from USC should ease the pain of Jeremy Maclin’s departure.
  10. I don’t know if the Eagles are better than last season, but I’m semi-confident they’re not worse, and for the time being, that’s alright. Note: Part of me is worried that Kelly reshuffled chairs on the Titanic as opposed to ultimately strengthening a roster that needed strengthening, but I don’t believe he made them worse. That, all things considered, is not an awful situation in early August.

Chip Kelly, Power, and the Trend of Increasing Expectations

The two-year anniversary of Chip Kelly’s hiring in Philadelphia is 13 days away.

For an hour or two yesterday afternoon, there was some fear that January 16 could arrive with the innovative Eagles coach elsewhere, fed up with dysfunction in the Eagles front office and friction with now former general manager Howie Roseman.

Thankfully everyone across the Delaware Valley can take a nice, deep breath.

The Eagles in their tweet used the verb “elevated” to describe Roseman’s new role. Perhaps he will get a new coffee machine in his office, a bigger desk, a shiny new nameplate, and a higher salary, but he lost control of the one thing he always aspired to do — Be an NFL GM.

Kelly wrestled it away from him, and as the coach has done so many times in his brief but eventful two years, once again raised expectations for himself and the team he coaches and now runs completely.

More than fast-paced offenses or sport science techniques, quickly raising expectations has been the overarching theme of Kelly’s rookie and sophomore NFL seasons.

For as pumped as I was when Kelly was hired, a lot of folks might be surprised to learn that I envisioned a scenario where he might not make the playoffs until Year 3. As I wrote a week ago, Andy Reid left his roster in absolute shambles, and Kelly was tasked with cleaning up a mess on the fly.

I predicted the Eagles would go 7-9 or 8-8 in 2013, a very respectable improvement from 4-12 under a first year coach. I assumed they would improve by another game or two this past season, and then really make their big move in 2015.

The idea that they could immediately go from a 4-12 punching bag to a 10-6 playoff team was farfetched to say the least, and no other 2013 coaching candidate would have been able to do it, including Bruce Arians, who like Kelly has had back-to-back double digit win seasons in Arizona but also only one playoff appearance due to a deep NFC.

It happened though, of course, in another example of Kelly raising the bar faster than even most of his biggest believers could have anticipated.

When he opted for a flawed but experienced Michael Vick over a — at the time — unproven Nick Foles, expectations were immediately raised with the idea that maybe the Eagles could compete in a wide open NFC East.

When Kelly unveiled his offense to a national audience on September 9, 2013 with Vick running it flawlessly en route to a 33-27 win over the defending NFC East champion Redskins, expectations were raised again.

The following week, some reporters who had covered him at Oregon claimed he would take the league by storm and win 11 or 12 games in his first season.

They were a game off, but when Vick inevitably suffered an injury in the fifth game of the season and folks realized that Foles could play, expectations quickly shot up again.

Nothing may have increased expectations more than the division title in Year 1 though. While still a couple rungs below the Seahawks, the Eagles were tossed around as a darkhorse Super Bowl candidate this past summer, and for three months, that looked pretty spot on.

The 23-point Thanksgiving victory in Dallas raised hope even more.

Brief setbacks sometimes followed the raised optimism though. The three game losing streak in 2013 after the opening victory, the back-to-back home losses to the Cowboys and Giants last October that produced a total of three offensive points, and of course, the mini collapse this past December.

All of those slight bumps were quickly countered though, and that is what Kelly did again yesterday.

There is no more ambiguity as to who has final say on certain personnel matters. We thought we knew before, but there is no doubt now.

If the Eagles fleece another team in a trade and acquire a player the caliber of Darren Sproles or Cody Parkey, Kelly gets all the credit. If the Eagles draft another version of Marcus Smith, who cannot play, in the first round, Kelly shoulders the blame.

We know Kelly can coach after consecutive 10-win seasons. We are pretty confident he can evaluate talent based on his four years at Oregon. We will soon find out whether or not he can draft.

During his tenure so far, the Eagles have had one really good draft, which played a large role in their quick turnaround, and one bad draft, which hindered them from making more progress in Year 2.

Let’s hone in on the 2014 draft and the Smith pick for a second. No one knows who had final say on that inexplicable decision, but yesterday’s reshuffling gives me more belief that it was Roseman who made the final call there.

For as much as Kelly wanted to have his best players on the field last Sunday to win, I find it odd that he wouldn’t allow Smith to see the field a little bit if he was planning on walking into Jeffrey Lurie’s office demanding more power against one of the owner’s closest allies and had to hold himself accountable for a first round rookie gone wrong.

More than likely, Roseman, who was decent at his job but also made his share of mistakes, made the pick and Kelly realized it couldn’t happen again if the Eagles were going to take the next step from a good team to a great team.

This April, it is Kelly’s show to run. Time will tell whether or not that is a good thing, but expectations will only grow.

Be it a free agent splash, releasing a productive veteran player, mortgaging future draft picks to move up high enough to select Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, or something else, the momentum will not stop.

Whether he will acknowledge it or not, raising expectations is what Kelly has always done — at New Hampshire as an offensive coordinator, at Oregon as first an offensive coordinator and then a head coach, and at Philadelphia as first a head coach and now in charge of player personnel decisions.

With great power comes great responsibility — and greater expectations.

Stay Alive and Survive: Cody Parkey Kickoff Contest Week 16 Edition

Happy Saturday football, folks.

After not tasting victory for nearly three and a half weeks now, I’m hungry for one again. Cody Parkey only kicked off six times last week, and frankly, I want more today. For reference, Parkey kicked off eight times in the first Redskins game back in Week 3. The rookie also hit a key 51-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that proved to be the difference as the birds held off the Skins 37-34.

Most of you know the scenarios by now for the Eagles, and we’ll be sure to update them as Week 16 begins to unfold. Let’s hit the contest.

Tweet at me (@drewBbalis) before kickoff today guessing the number of touchbacks Parkey has AND the Redskins average starting field position on his kickoffs (far right column of the chart — sans brackets)

I got (4, 19). 

While not a ton of points have been given out since Thanksgiving, the leaderboard remains tightly contested and could change quickly with a couple correct predictions, so make sure to get your guesses in.

All of your pertinent information is below along with our chart that will of course be updated throughout the afternoon.

Stay live, survive, root for Andrew Luck tomorrow.

Updated Contest Leaderboard: 

Drew Balis — Four points

Gavin Steinhubl — Four points

Nick Rapak — 3.5 points

Cory Sprankle — Two points

Dan Spevak — Two points

Evan Kalikow — One point

Updated Stats:

  • 87 kickoffs in 14 games
  • 72 of those kickoffs in the end zone
  • 42 of those kickoffs for touchbacks
  • Average opponent starting field position of 20.81
Game # Opponent Kickoff Number End zone Touchback Starting Field Position  Average Starting Field Position 
1 Jaguars 1 Yes Yes 20 20
1 Jaguars 2 Yes No 13 16.5
1 Jaguars 3 Yes Yes 20 17.67
1 Jaguars 4 Yes Yes 20 18.25
1 Jaguars 5 Yes Yes 20 18.6
1 Jaguars 6 Yes Yes 20 18.83
1 Jaguars 7 Yes No 13 18
2 Colts 1 Yes Yes 20 [18.25], 20
2 Colts 2 No No 27 [19.2] 23.5
2 Colts 3 Yes No 27 [20] 24.67
2 Colts 4 Yes Yes 20 [20] 23.5
2 Colts 5 Yes Yes 20 [20] 22.8
2 Colts 6 Yes Yes 20 [20] 22.33
3 Redskins 1 Yes No 18 [19.86] 18
3 Redskins 2 Yes No 13 [19.4] 15.5
3 Redskins 3 Yes Yes 20 [19.43] 17
3 Redskins 4 No No 41 [20.71] 23
3 Redskins 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.67] 22.4
3 Redskins 6 Yes Yes 20 [20.63] 22
3 Redskins 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.6] 21.71
3 Redskins 8 Yes Yes 20 [20.57] 21.5
4 49ers 1 Yes No 20 [20.55] 20
4 49ers 2 No No 22 [20.61] 21
4 49ers 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.58] 20.67
4 49ers 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.56] 20.5
5 Rams 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.54] 20
5 Rams 2 Yes No 26 [20.74] 23
5 Rams 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.71] 22
5 Rams 4 Yes No 24 [20.83] 22.5
5 Rams 5 Yes No 18 [20.73] 21.6
5 Rams 6 Yes No 21 [20.74] 21.5
5 Rams 7 Yes No 21 [20.75} 21.43
6 Giants 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.73] 20
6 Giants 2 Yes Yes 20 [20.71] 20
6 Giants 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.69] 20
6 Giants 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.67] 20
6 Giants 5 Yes No 24 [20.76] 20.8
6 Giants 6 Yes No 24 [20.84] 21.33
7 Cardinals 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.82] 20
7 Cardinals 2 Yes Yes 20 [20.80] 20
7 Cardinals 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.78] 20
7 Cardinals 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.76] 20
7 Cardinals 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.74] 20
8 Texans 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.72] 20
8 Texans 2 Yes No 8 [20.44] 14
8 Texans 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.43] 16
8 Texans 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.42] 17
8 Texans 5 Yes No 6 [20.16] 14.8
9 Panthers 1 No No 19 [20.13] 19
9 Panthers 2 Yes No 31 [20.36] 25
9 Panthers 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.35] 23.33
9 Panthers 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.34] 22.5
9 Panthers 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.33] 22
9 Panthers 6 Yes Yes 20 [20.33] 21.67
9 Panthers 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.32] 21.43
9 Panthers 8 Yes No 37 [20.61] 23.38
10 Packers 1 No No 16 [20.53] 16
10 Packers 2 No No 20 [20.52] 18
10 Packers 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.51] 18.67
10 Packers 4 No No 22 [20.54] 19.5
11 Titans 1 Yes No 17 [20.48] 17
11 Titans 2 Yes No 42 [20.83] 29.5
11 Titans 3 Yes No 25 [20.90] 28
11 Titans 4 Yes No 19 [20.89] 25.75
11 Titans 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.85] 24.6
11 Titans 6 Yes No 16 [20.78] 23.17
11 Titans 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.71
11 Titans 8 Yes No 22 [20.79] 22.63
11 Titans 9 No No 21 [20.79] 22.44
11 Titans 10 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.20
12 Cowboys 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 20
12 Cowboys 2 No No 33 [20.94] 26.5
12 Cowboys 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.92] 24.33
12 Cowboys 4 Yes No 23 [20.95] 24
12 Cowboys 5 Yes No 24 [20.99] 24
12 Cowboys 6 No No 23 [21.02] 23.83
12 Cowboys 7 No No 35 [21.2] 25.43
12 Cowboys 8 Yes No 13 [21.09] 23.88
13 Seahawks 1 No No 23 [21.11] 23
13 Seahawks 2 No No 18 [21.08] 20.5
13 Seahawks 3 Yes No 9 [20.93] 16.67
14 Cowboys 1 Yes No 27 [21] 27
14 Cowboys 2 No No 11 [20.88] 19
14 Cowboys 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.87] 19.33
14 Cowboys 4 Yes No 15 [20.80] 18.25
14 Cowboys 5 Yes No 22 [20.82] 19
14 Cowboys 6 No No 20 [20.81] 19.17
15 Redskins 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.80] 20
15 Redskins 2 No No 27 [20.87] 23.5
15 Redskins 3 No No 16 [20.82] 21
15 Redskins 4 Yes No 17 [20.77] 20
16 Redskins 5 Yes No 35 [20.93] 23

Cody Parkey Kickoff Tracker and Contest: #BeatDallas Again Edition

Afternoon, folks. How we feeling heading into tonight?

For me, it’s a mix of cautioned confidence and anxious nervousness, but should the game rest on Cody Parkey’s leg late, I feel just fine.

During the Thanksgiving beatdown of the Cowboys, Parkey was incredibly busy as he kicked off eight times. Last week against the Seahawks was a different story as the Eagles offense struggled to move the ball most of the day against the defending Super Bowl champions. Parkey kicked off only three times.

Seattle’s defense Dallas is not though, and tonight will hopefully resemble Thanksgiving once again.

Let’s hit it as the battle for control of the NFC East goes down.

Tweet at me (@drewBbalis) before kickoff tonight guessing the number of touchbacks Parkey has AND the Cowboys average starting field position on his kickoffs (far right column of the chart — sans brackets)

I will go (5,21).

Get your guesses in. Don’t piss off Claude.

Updated Contest Leaderboard: 

Drew Balis — Four points

Gavin Steinhubl — Four points

Nick Rapak — 3.5 points

Cory Sprankle — Two points

Dan Spevak — Two points

Evan Kalikow — One point

Updated Stats:

  • 81 kickoffs in 13 games
  • 68 of those kickoffs in the end zone
  • 41 of those kickoffs for touchbacks
  • Average opponent starting field position of 20.93
Game # Opponent Kickoff Number End zone Touchback Starting Field Position  Average Starting Field Position 
1 Jaguars 1 Yes Yes 20 20
1 Jaguars 2 Yes No 13 16.5
1 Jaguars 3 Yes Yes 20 17.67
1 Jaguars 4 Yes Yes 20 18.25
1 Jaguars 5 Yes Yes 20 18.6
1 Jaguars 6 Yes Yes 20 18.83
1 Jaguars 7 Yes No 13 18
2 Colts 1 Yes Yes 20 [18.25], 20
2 Colts 2 No No 27 [19.2] 23.5
2 Colts 3 Yes No 27 [20] 24.67
2 Colts 4 Yes Yes 20 [20] 23.5
2 Colts 5 Yes Yes 20 [20] 22.8
2 Colts 6 Yes Yes 20 [20] 22.33
3 Redskins 1 Yes No 18 [19.86] 18
3 Redskins 2 Yes No 13 [19.4] 15.5
3 Redskins 3 Yes Yes 20 [19.43] 17
3 Redskins 4 No No 41 [20.71] 23
3 Redskins 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.67] 22.4
3 Redskins 6 Yes Yes 20 [20.63] 22
3 Redskins 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.6] 21.71
3 Redskins 8 Yes Yes 20 [20.57] 21.5
4 49ers 1 Yes No 20 [20.55] 20
4 49ers 2 No No 22 [20.61] 21
4 49ers 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.58] 20.67
4 49ers 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.56] 20.5
5 Rams 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.54] 20
5 Rams 2 Yes No 26 [20.74] 23
5 Rams 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.71] 22
5 Rams 4 Yes No 24 [20.83] 22.5
5 Rams 5 Yes No 18 [20.73] 21.6
5 Rams 6 Yes No 21 [20.74] 21.5
5 Rams 7 Yes No 21 [20.75} 21.43
6 Giants 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.73] 20
6 Giants 2 Yes Yes 20 [20.71] 20
6 Giants 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.69] 20
6 Giants 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.67] 20
6 Giants 5 Yes No 24 [20.76] 20.8
6 Giants 6 Yes No 24 [20.84] 21.33
7 Cardinals 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.82] 20
7 Cardinals 2 Yes Yes 20 [20.80] 20
7 Cardinals 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.78] 20
7 Cardinals 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.76] 20
7 Cardinals 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.74] 20
8 Texans 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.72] 20
8 Texans 2 Yes No 8 [20.44] 14
8 Texans 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.43] 16
8 Texans 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.42] 17
8 Texans 5 Yes No 6 [20.16] 14.8
9 Panthers 1 No No 19 [20.13] 19
9 Panthers 2 Yes No 31 [20.36] 25
9 Panthers 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.35] 23.33
9 Panthers 4 Yes Yes 20 [20.34] 22.5
9 Panthers 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.33] 22
9 Panthers 6 Yes Yes 20 [20.33] 21.67
9 Panthers 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.32] 21.43
9 Panthers 8 Yes No 37 [20.61] 23.38
10 Packers 1 No No 16 [20.53] 16
10 Packers 2 No No 20 [20.52] 18
10 Packers 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.51] 18.67
10 Packers 4 No No 22 [20.54] 19.5
11 Titans 1 Yes No 17 [20.48] 17
11 Titans 2 Yes No 42 [20.83] 29.5
11 Titans 3 Yes No 25 [20.90] 28
11 Titans 4 Yes No 19 [20.89] 25.75
11 Titans 5 Yes Yes 20 [20.85] 24.6
11 Titans 6 Yes No 16 [20.78] 23.17
11 Titans 7 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.71
11 Titans 8 Yes No 22 [20.79] 22.63
11 Titans 9 No No 21 [20.79] 22.44
11 Titans 10 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 22.20
12 Cowboys 1 Yes Yes 20 [20.77] 20
12 Cowboys 2 No No 33 [20.94] 26.5
12 Cowboys 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.92] 24.33
12 Cowboys 4 Yes No 23 [20.95] 24
12 Cowboys 5 Yes No 24 [20.99] 24
12 Cowboys 6 No No 23 [21.02] 23.83
12 Cowboys 7 No No 35 [21.2] 25.43
12 Cowboys 8 Yes No 13 [21.09] 23.88
13 Seahawks 1 No No 23 [21.11] 23
13 Seahawks 2 No No 18 [21.08] 20.5
13 Seahawks 3 Yes No 9 [20.93] 16.67
14 Cowboys 1 Yes No 27 [21] 27
14 Cowboys 2 No No 11 [20.88] 19
14 Cowboys 3 Yes Yes 20 [20.87] 19.33
14 Cowboys 4 Yes No 15 [20.80] 18.25
14 Cowboys 5 Yes No 22 [20.82] 19
14 Cowboys 6 No No 20 [20.81] 19.17

Cliff Lee, The Phillies, and The Night I Realized Twitter was The Place To Be for Breaking News

For much of the fall months, I have devoted this space solely to the Eagles — Either mini-think-pieces, analytical posts, Cody Parkey kickoff contests, trolling national writers who thought Chip Kelly had any interest in the Florida job, and haikus. Mix in a post or two about Penn State, and that has essentially comprised the entire blog.

Today, we are going to go down a different route because tonight marks the four-year anniversary of one of my favorite baseball memories.

Favorite baseball memory on December 13? Is that even possible? 

Yep, it sure is, and it has nothing to do with a perfect game, walk-off home run, or World Series moment.

Rather, it marks the four-year anniversary of Cliff Lee — my favorite baseball player of all-time — spurning the Yankees (and Rangers) to re-sign with the Phillies in free agency after having been surprisingly traded by the Phillies one year earlier.

Furthermore, it was the key moment in an intersection of sports and social media for me, as it was that night when I realized that Twitter was truly the best source for breaking news.

To appreciate how significant of a moment this was though, you first have to understand how unlikely it was.

After giving them fits in the playoffs in back-to-back Octobers, the Yankees were far and away considered the favorites to land the most prized free agent on the market. They needed an ace to team up with C.C. Sabathia, and it was no secret that Lee was the apple of Brian Cashman’s eye as the winter meetings went down the previous week.

The Rangers — Lee’s team for the second half of the 2010 season — were also thought to be trying their hardest to not let Lee get away, but few thought they would be able to go toe-to-toe with the Evil Empire. Some Phillies fans — myself included — held out hope that a Philadelphia reunion was possible, but we also knew the reality of the situation.

The Phillies had dished out some massive contracts in the previous years and already had a rotation featuring Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt. Even if there was some mutual interest, they financially couldn’t match what the Yankees would offer.

It seemed like a near forgone conclusion that Lee would soon call the Bronx home, and many were surprised that a deal wasn’t completed the previous week.

On Monday, December 13, 2010, things started to heat up when Jon Heyman reported early in the day that a “mystery team” might be in on the Lee sweepstakes.

The use of the term “mystery team” is normally pretty hollow, thrown around by agents to reporters to drum up more interest in their client, but Heyman might have been onto something here.

Heyman initially did not provide a ton of context, but later in the day, Jayson Stark took a stab that the mystery team might actually be the Phillies.

At this point in time, I did not even possess a Twitter account. I was one of the folks who was fascinated by the site enough to search for things but hadn’t yet joined and started tweeting on my own for whatever reason.

I began reading about Stark and Heyman’s tweets from my Facebook feed though and quickly texted some of my friends who I often talked baseball with.

It was my Finals Week in school, and with no exams until Wednesday, I had a lot of time to spend on the Internet between studying, and nothing had me more excited than the idea that my favorite player might come home again.

A few of them knew what I did. Others had not yet heard. This was no doubt moving quickly though, and as the afternoon transitioned to early evening, I must have typed “Cliff Lee’ into whatever the Twitter search bar looked like in December 2010 a good 100 times looking for any legitimate updates that existed.

Stark seemed to be picking up steam.

Heyman jumped in again, this time with a bit less vagueness.

At this point, any additional studying that night was a distant thought. I was locked into this, eagerly searching for news on Twitter every second.

One of my friends responded to a text at one point as the night got deeper with:

Where the hell are you finding this stuff? 

“Twitter, dude, we gotta be on Twitter. This is where it’s going to go down,” I answered.

Nothing was official yet, but as the night wore on, reports came out that the Yankees and Rangers had been informed Lee would not be going to either club. The context clues were all there.

“Dude, holy shit. He’s coming back. This is really happening. He’s coming back.” 

Bam.

A few hours later, SportsCenter came on the air with “Cliff Lee is a Phillie again,” but the news had already dropped on Twitter earlier.

An Associated Press article published in the wee morning hours may have summarized things most succinctly in terms of what Lee’s decision represented for the sport:

This was a rare instance in which the Yankees’ financial might failed to land a player they wanted.

The baseball world was turned upside-down. Now embattled Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro was praised for getting his man. I have pointed out before, that for as much as some folks may currently hate Amaro, they certainly loved him on that epic December night.

From a baseball standpoint, the move hasn’t completely worked out as envisioned. The Phillies have only been to the playoffs once in Lee’s four seasons, and after three fantastic individual years, Lee suffered through an injury-plagued 2014 campaign that saw his season come to an end on July 31st as he reached for his elbow and walked off the mound in Washington D.C.

At the time, it looked like it could be a career-threatening injury. Thankfully, that does not appear to be the case and Lee should hopefully be ready for spring training, but I wrote at the time about how it was a classic example of how cruel and unfair baseball is.

Derek Jeter received a well-deserved farewell tour. One of the best big game pitchers of this generation possibly got a random Thursday night with hardly anyone watching.

Like most big contracts, the final years normally result in some buyer’s remorse, and that will likely be the case with Lee should effects of the elbow injury decrease his trade value.

What a night though. What a night for the Phillies, for baseball, for social media, and for myself, whose favorite player told the Yankees no and came back.

Not to completely internalize something that wasn’t about me, but I think about how Twitter has been a big part of my early career and my life over the past four years, and the origins trace back to that night.

I have turned Internet friends into real friends through that website and was once even invited to a wedding by someone who I had first met on Twitter.

Baseball stories first broke on Twitter prior to that night, and bigger ones have gone down since, but nothing was more meaningful to me than the one that night.

Nowadays I’m not too excited to be on the site when news breaks concerning the Phillies. The demolition of a once great roster could happen at any moment, and the first shoe already dropped this week with the trade of long-term shortstop Jimmy Rollins. For things to get better, all of it needs to happen, and at some point it will likely involve Cliff Lee.

Regardless of when and how it happens though, I wouldn’t trade what transpired four years ago tonight for anything.