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Flyers GM Fletcher: ‘We Are What We Are Right Now’

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By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

In the midst of a six-game losing streak and with their Tuesday night contest against the struggling New York Islanders postponed, it was as good a time as any for Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher to meet the media and address the current state of the team.

It went about as well as a Flyers power play.

Fletcher leaned on the difficulty of the team’s schedule and injuries over the course of the first 20 games of the season, placing more emphasis on a few early-season successes and less on the noticeable struggles the team has had over the last couple of weeks.

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Penn State DC Brent Pry Officially Named New Virginia Tech Head Coach

Fry JobPhoto: Virginia Tech Football/@HokiesFB

By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Penn State’s coaching staff has taken it’s first hit of the chaotic college football coaching carousel.  Defensive coordinator Brent Pry has officially been named as the new head football coach at Virginia Tech.  Pry, 51, had been with Penn State since 2014 serving in various defensive roles.  He takes over a Virginia Tech program that had  a 27-season bowl streak snapped in 2020.  This will be Pry’s first head coaching job at any level.

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Temple Football Needs a Head Coach (Again), Here are Six Names Worth Mentioning

Temple Football
Photo: Temple Football/@Temple_FB

By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

The Temple Owls  once again need a head football coach after firing Rod Carey three-years into a six-year contract.  The college coaching carousel has already begun and it’s been a wild ride so far.  Do the Owls jump into the craziness and find a coach that has recently been booted from a Power Five program, do they find themselves a young and hungry assistant or do they dip back into the past to find a program builder?

Whatever the direction, the Owls will need to find someone with a knowledge of the I-95 corridor and how to recruit to an urban university like Temple. 

Here's the first batch of names, yeah this is going to be a multi-part series, that Temple should consider:

Blast from the Past: Al Golden 2.0

Former Owls head coach Al Golden has long been rumored to be a candidate if Temple ever pulled the trigger on Carey.  Would the former Owls coach want to return to North Broad now that Carey is out?   Golden was rumored to be the lead candidate for the UConn job but the job ended up going to Jim Mora Jr.  Did Golden turn down UConn’s overtures because UConn is a dump with the worst fans in sports or did he know that Temple would be a possibility? 

Golden’s return to Temple would be comparable to Greg Schiano’s return to Rutgers.  Both coaches built former Big East doormats into respectable, bowl bound programs only to leave for “greener pastures.” Golden led the Owls rebuild from 2006-2010 and was the MAC Coach of the Year in 2009 before leaving for the University of Miami.  He obviously understands how the university works and how to recruit to Temple.  Golden has spent the past six-seasons in the NFL as position coach for Detroit and Cincinnati. 

Young and Hungry: Elijah Robinson and Fran Brown

If Temple decides to go with a younger crop of coaches two names that should be high on the list are Elijah Robinson and Fran Brown.  Both coaches are former Temple assistants under Matt Rhule and have deep ties to the Delaware Valley.  Robinson is a graduate of Camden-Woodrow Wilson and Brown is a graduate of Camden High School.

E RobinsonPhoto: Elijah Robinson Twitter/@CoachE_TAMU

Robinson is currently the defensive line coach at Texas A&M where he is well regarded among the college coaching community.  He has been part of A&M defenses that have consistently been in the top 10 of overall defense.  Robinson continues to heavily recruit the Northeast and is well respected by prospects and high school coaches in the region.

Fran BrownPhoto: Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano (L) and Fran Brown (C)/RUCoachFran

Brown is currently in his second season as the secondary coach at Rutgers.  He is one of the key pieces in the Rutgers recruiting machine that currently has Scarlet Knights slotted as a top 25 recruiting class, fifth in the Big Ten, according to 247Sports.  Like Robinson, Brown was a key piece of Matt Rhule’s coaching staff at Temple and Baylor.  The former Camden High quarterback is beloved by local recruits and coaches. 

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Sirianni: Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders Dealing with Injuries

By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni was the bearer of bad news on Monday afternoon.  The first-year coach revealed that offensive lineman Jack Driscoll was placed back  injured reserve ending his season.  He also revealed Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders were dealing with injuries and their status for Sunday at the Jets will be updated on Wednesday.

Sanders is dealing with an ankle injury according to Sirianni but is likely to be able to play on Sunday against the Jets.  He carried nine times for 64-yards against the Giants on Sunday.  His absence was notable late in the fourth-quarter when the Eagles were forced to lean heavily on Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell. Sanders just recently came off of injured reserve.

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Jack Driscoll Done for the Year

By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Nick Sirianni has announced that offensive lineman Jack Driscoll has been placed on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain.  Driscoll was carted off in yesterday’s loss to the Giants and already had one stint on the IR.  The league doesn’t allow a player to land on the IR with a “return” designation more than once, since this is Driscoll’s second trip, he will miss the remainder of the season. 

Driscoll was the Eagles fourth round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft out of Auburn.  The second-year lineman has played 19-games, with 12-starts, in his NFL career.  This marks the second consecutive season that Driscoll has had his season come to an end due to an IR designation.

Nate Herbig will start at guard on Sunday when the Eagles travel back to the Meadowlands to take on the New York Jets.


Phillies Designate Quinn, Claim Reliever López

Quinn3

The Phillies offseason plan very transparently included the need for a center fielder and a left fielder.  Though he was under Phillies control, it was almost as if outfielder Roman Quinn was no longer a consideration for the job.   After a season-ending Achilles injury in May, Quinn ended the season on the injured list.  And now it appears his Phillies tenure is over.

The Phillies announced that the Phillies designated Quinn for assignment, after claiming pitcher Yoan López on waivers from the Atlanta Braves.   López was designated for assignment by the Braves just a week ago and was awaiting an outcome.

López was acquired by the Braves in a May trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks and never did make another Major League appearance in 2021.  Over the last four seasons, López has made 113 appearances for the Diamondbacks, going 2-8 with a 4.25 earned run average.  López has one career save, and has struck out 7.3 batters per nine innings in his career.

López's best season was 2019 when he made 70 appearances, going 2-5 with a 3.41 earned run average.

Quinn was known for his tremendous speed, but he struggled to stay healthy and to get on base.   Quinn debuted with the Phillies in 2016, and batted just .228 in only 456 big league at bats over six seasons. 


Eastern Conference Semifinal Recap: It Was the Night Things Changed

By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer

On a chilly November night in Chester, two teams faced off in the Eastern Conference Semifinal. The energy in Subaru Park was unlike anything seen before at the stadium—the Sons of Ben marched proudly into the stadium while waving flags and beating drums; there was no shortage of pyrotechnics as the teams made their way onto the field; every touch of the ball warranted a roaring reaction from the packed stadium. This game had everything—golden scoring opportunities that strikers missed, overtime that couldn’t be ended with a Jakob Glesnes rocket, and a penalty shootout that ended in one team making club history.

Jamiro Monteiro returned to the starting lineup for this game, and immediately showed why he’s the primary playmaker. The Union were able to skip through Nashville SC’s defense on multiple occasions early in the game, largely controlling possession and scoring chances. Alvas Powell tried his luck with a long-range shot, while Kacper Przybyłko’s effort missed the net trying to find a clear path in a sea of bodies.

Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar made sure to give the Union’s defense some trouble, racing down the right flank and trying to maneuver around Glesnes, but the defender was able to stretch his leg out and deflect Mukhtar’s shot.

The possession and attacks on both sides evened out, as both sides looked to break through the other’s steadfast defense. The Union did their best to utilize the skill of Monteiro and Daniel Gazdag, bringing balls up the sides of the field and crossing into the box, but it wasn’t in the Union’s destiny to strike first.

Mukhtar would break the scoreless deadlock, catching a pass from Eric Miller, and catching the Union’s back four and Andre Blake in an uncharacteristic moment of inattentiveness. Subaru Park fell almost completely silent as the Nashville players celebrated, and suddenly, the game was really on.

The Boys In Blue didn’t look fazed by falling behind, continually persisting for a goal like they had been doing for the entirety of the first half. A corner kick from Monteiro found the feet of Gazdag, whose first effort was blocked by Nashville goalie Joe Willis. Gazdag stayed on the ball, picking it up when it rolled loose and knocked it past Willis to draw the Union level in first half stoppage time.

Early in the second half, a scuffle in the Union’s box saw Leon Flach go down with an apparent knee injury. Jim Curtin was forced to sub on Sergio Santos to fortify his offense, which paid off, as Santos instantly started pressuring Nashville’s defense.

In the 62nd minute, Santos’ first real look on goal came off of a spectacular Gazdag cross. However, the Brazilian striker found himself caught in traffic and looped a shot just wide of the net.

The chances kept coming for the Union, as Alejandro Bedoya found himself getting involved. Bedoya lifted a ball to a lone Monteiro at the far post, but Nashville intercepted the cross before it could reach him.

As the clock ticked down, counterattacks on both sides grew more and more chaotic and aggressive. Philadelphia bombarded Nashville’s defense with an intricate web of passes and shots and rebounds from all sides, while Mukhtar’s speed forced the home team to sprint to track back in order to prevent Nashville from getting into a dangerous area.

Gazdag seemed to be the heroic goalscorer once again, netting his second goal of the game, which looked to be the crucial game winner, but referee Allan Chapman disallowed the goal after pronouncing that there had been a foul on the goalkeeper.

The regulatory 90 minutes were up, and the Union found themselves in overtime for the second consecutive playoff game.

The Union stayed aggressive in their pressing on Nashville’s defense, but the visitors held strong and kept the Union goalless. Monteiro and Santos were the main players in the Union’s counterattacks, but their efforts were fruitless. Curtin then made an ambitious double substitution, swapping Monteiro and Przybylko for Cory Burke and Jack McGlynn. Although the fans told every player to shoot when they got anywhere near the box (hey, it worked last time!), no dramatic rocket of a goal could save the Union this time around. This semifinal was going to penalties.

All eyes were on Blake as Nashville stepped up to take the first penalty. Mukhtar, naturally, was the choice to start off, but he was brilliantly denied by the Jamaican keeper.

Center back Jack Elliott was first for the Union, and he calmly sent his shot past Willis to give the Union the advantage.

Anibal Godoy was the second penalty taker for Nashville, and the second one to be denied by Blake’s excellent directional awareness and agile reflexes.

It was then Santos’ turn, but his PK was saved by Willis.

Alex Muyl gave Blake a break by kicking a ball more worthy of a field goal than a soccer goal, putting the Union even closer to victory.

McGlynn stepped up in the third slot, and the 18-year-old perfectly executed a stutter-step penalty kick that most professionals nearly twice his age can’t pull off.

Walker Zimmerman had the world on his shoulders as he stepped up for Nashville, but couldn’t convert.

Every fan in the stadium was on their feet. The Union players stopped for a second, almost not believing what they had just witnessed. It was only when Blake began sprinting towards his teammates that the realization finally hit—the Union were advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in club history.

Man of the Match: ANDRE. JASON. BLAKE. He didn’t need to do anything more this season to prove that he is the best goalie in MLS, but it will be a cold day in hell before he gives anything less than 110% for his team.

The Main Takeaway: Once again, the Union fall victim to failing to capitalize on relatively easy chances, and have to find their wins in overtime. They’ll be taking on the winners of the NYCFC vs. New England Revolution, and one could bet their life savings that neither of those teams will allow the finals to go past regulation time. The Union performed better than they did against the New York Red Bulls, and remained consistently undeterred by a tough Nashville side, but the real test of their abilities will fall in these finals. Either team they’ll face will be hard (but not impossible!) to beat, and they might not have the home field advantage that they’ve enjoyed so far this postseason. The Union need to step into their power, and show just how sure of themselves they’ve become. They are capable of beating any team they face. They need to start playing like it.


Report: Phillies Are "Linked" to Free Agent Kris Bryant

The Phillies remain active in the outfielder free agent market.  Already linked early Monday to outfielder Nick Castellanos, the Phillies have been linked to two additional All Stars.  The Phillies seek to fill both left field and center field in their outfield.

According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the Phillies are linked to outfielder/infielder Kris Bryant:

Bryant's versatility could help the Phillies at a few positions.

Bryant is a former National League MVP, and a well-known friend of Philadelphia's own MVP, Bryce Harper.  A 2021 National League All-Star, Bryant batted .265 with 25 home runs and 73 runs batted in, while managing an .835 OPS. 

Bryant has mostly been a third baseman in his career, but is a versatile defender.  In 2021 alone Bryant played third base, left field, center field, third base, first base, and even made an appearance at shortstop after an injury forced teammate Nico Horner out of a game. 

With a designated hitter believed to be coming to the National League, Bryant would give the Phillies many options.

Since Bryant was traded during the 2021 season, the Phillies would not need to surrender a draft pick to sign Bryant.  As Dave Dombrowski works to improve the Phillies farm system, they may wish to retain as many draft picks as possible.  So Bryant would only cost money.  Would the Phillies spend what it takes?

 


Could Citizens Bank Park See a Drive Into Deep Left Field by Castellanos?

The MLB Hot Stove is particularly active on Monday morning.   Much more so than the typical November 29th.   That is because December 1 marks the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the MLB Players Association.  So expect many more moves in the next 48 hours.

The Phillies rumor mill has been rather quiet so far.  But Monday morning, Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com was up early with this nugget about free agent outfielder Nick  Castellanos:

Of course, simple familiarity does not necessarily benefit the Phillies.

Castellanos is coming off one of his most productive seasons yet.  A 2021 All Star, Castellanos batted .309 while hitting 34 home runs and driving in 100 runs.  His OPS of .939 was good for fifth in the National League.

The Phillies were also linked on Monday morning to free agent utility player Chris Taylor: 

Taylor plays all over the diamond, and presumably the Phillies are interested in Taylor in center field.

Taylor was also a 2021 All-Star, and has been a key component of the recent success of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The Dodgers lineup has been filled with moveable parts such as Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger, allowing Taylor to play all three outfield positions, third base, second base, and shortstop in 2021.    Taylor also hit 20 home runs and drove in 74 runs while batting .254 and getting on base at a .344 clip.

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Rod Carey Out as Temple Football Coach

By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

The Athletic’s Matt Fortuna is reporting that Temple has fired head football coach Rod Carey after three blowout riddled season on North Broad Street. The Owls closed out a tumultuous 3-9 season with 38-14 loss this past weekend to Navy.

Carey compiled a 12-20 record in his three-seasons at Temple, eight of those wins came in his first season as the Owls coach.  Temple was 4-15 over the past two seasons with all but one loss by two touchdowns or more.  The Owls had made four consecutive bowl appearances from 2015-2019.

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