Eagles mailbag: How much will RB Trey Sermon help? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Eagles open up their season in one week in Detroit and today is the last Sunday without an NFL football game for months.
It’s a beautiful time of year.
We answered a bunch of questions yesterday and still have plenty more in the mailbag:
The Eagles claimed Trey Sermon off waivers from the 49ers last week, making him the fourth running back on the roster. The 6-foot, 215-pound back was a third-round pick out of Ohio State (he also played at Oklahoma) but didn’t play much as a rookie and didn’t really stand out too much when he did. He had 41 carries for 167 yards and 1 touchdown.
I like the idea of the Eagles bringing in a talented young running back to see what he could be, but I don’t expect Sermon to have a big role early. And he’s not really a power back like Jordan Howard. Sermon averaged 1.9 yards after contact per rushing attempt in 2021, a lower average than Sanders’ 2.1.
Here’s what TheAthletic’s Dane Brugler wrote about Sermon last year during the pre-draft process:
“Overall, Sermon is inconsistent as an inside power runner, but his combination of vision, balance and cutting skills are intriguing traits for an outside zone scheme.”
I watched his carries from the 2021 season and came away underwhelmed but did see some flashes. But then I did a little reading about how Sermon worked on his explosiveness going into Year 2. That was a wise decision. Sermon worked out with Dalvin Cook this offseason.
“Being explosive,” Sermon said in August, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “I feel like that is one thing that I kind of lost last year, just being explosive out of that first cut. That’s been a really big emphasis for me this offseason and even still now in training camp. I’m still working on it and I’m very conscious of it.”
So the Eagles might have something in Sermon but it’s hard to see him having a big role from the jump, especially if Sanders is healthy.
First, let’s take a look at all the candidates for a contract extension — key players entering the final year of their contracts. The Eagles have quite a few: Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, James Bradberry, Isaac Seumalo, Kyzir White, T.J. Edwards, Miles Sanders, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps.
We’ve been waiting for that Hargrave extension all summer and it hasn’t come yet. It makes sense because not only is he a Pro Bowl player but he has the highest cap hit on the team in 2022. A little surprising it hasn’t happened yet. He’s still the most obvious one.
Gardner-Johnson is a good candidate because he’s already a really talented player and he’s still just 24. The Eagles might want to make sure his transition to safety and his acclimation into this defense goes smoothly first, but I wouldn’t wait too long. He’s likely going to get paid after this year.
But I’ll also give you a wild card pick: Kyzir White. Based on what I’ve seen during training camp, White is going to be a really solid addition. He thought he was going to get a long-term deal this past offseason and it didn’t happen. But late in camp, I chatted with White about coming here and he seems to love Philly already. He said he would love to stay here long-term and I believe him. Also, he plays the WILL spot and if Nakobe Dean ever really pushes for a starting gig, Dean seems better suited at the MIKE. I could see a White extension getting done during the season if the Eagles want to go that route.
“With all these weapons on defense, if our defense cant preform this season is it time to get rid of Gannon?”
There’s no question there’s pressure on Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon this season. Outside of Jalen Hurts, Gannon probably has more pressure on him than every other person in the NovaCare Complex. There aren’t any excuses this year.
Just think about all the talent Howie Roseman added to the defense this offseason: Haason Reddick, James Bradberry, White, Jordan Davis, Dean and now Gardner-Johnson. Not only has there been an influx of talent, the Eagles have added talent to give Gannon the scheme flexibility he wants.
This has the makings of a great defense but it’ll be up to Gannon to get everything out of them.
In a couple ways, it really feels like this could be Gannon’s last year in Philly. If the defense succeeds, there’s a good chance he’ll land a head coaching gig somewhere. And if the defense fails, there aren’t any excuses.
Based on the evidence, they believe in him to a certain extent. They certainly believe in Hurts as a worker, leader and person. They believe that he’ll maximize his potential and will reach his ceiling, whatever that is. And they obviously liked Hurts enough to use a second-round pick on him in 2020 and make him the starting quarterback for back-to-back seasons. They clearly believe in him enough to go for it this season; we’ve seen that from their roster moves.
But they also see the areas where Hurts needs to improve. We all see them. Even Hurts sees them. The Eagles aren’t tied to Hurts long-term right now, but that decision would probably have to come after this season. Hurts’ play will determine his future.
I took a closer look at all the Eagles’ options at the return spots last week. So you can read all that here.
But my best guess is that the Eagles bring up Britain Covey to handle those responsibilities.
Well, they were a playoff team in 2021. So even if Hurts doesn’t take a huge step forward, this is a much better roster than last year. So they could perhaps get into the playoffs and sneak by to win a game. But for them to make a real run, which I think they’re capable of, Hurts will need to be significantly better. Having A.J. Brown and a second year in the offense ought to help.
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Panthers outlast Hurricanes in 4th OT in 6th-longest game in NHL history
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers seemed determined to keep playing. And playing. And playing.
The teams opened their Eastern Conference final playoff series with Florida’s 3-2 victory in four overtimes early Friday, with the game ranking as the sixth-longest game in NHL history.
Matthew Tkachuk’s goal came at the 19:47 mark of the fourth OT to end this one, which marked the 15th four-overtime game in NHL history and the longest game in franchise history for each team.
The longest game in NHL history came on March 24, 1936, when the Detroit Red Wings beat the Montreal Maroons 1-0 in the sixth overtime on Mud Bruneteau’s goal at 116 minutes, 30 seconds of extra play.
Florida’s previous record for longest game was 104:31 in Game 4 of the 1996 Stanley Cup final against Colorado. Carolina’s previous record was 114:47 for Game 3 of the 2002 Stanley Cup final.
The only good news for the teams is they had an extended break before this series began. Carolina closed out New Jersey exactly a week earlier, while Florida eliminated Toronto a day later.
But this game ended roughly six hours after Thursday night’s puck drop, and the teams have a Game 2 in less than 48 hours.
AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Barcelona says probe found no evidence of corruption by club
MADRID (AP) — The investigation ordered by Barcelona into its controversial payments for refereeing reports found no evidence of corruption by the club, president Joan Laporta said Monday.
Laporta reiterated that the club’s payments over several years to the company owned by the vice president of Spain’s refereeing committee were only for technical reports and not to influence referees. He said he believed there were no ethics breach and that Barcelona was the victim of a campaign to hurt its reputation.
“This is one of the most ferocious attacks in our history,” Laporta said. “I ask FC Barcelona supporters to be as united as ever in defense of our crest, our essence, and our ownership model. No campaign to discredit us will prevent us from continuing to be an organization of reference in the world of sports that is beloved and admired by millions of Catalans and by many more millions of people around the world.”
It was the first time Laporta spoke at a news conference to give explanations after it became public that the club paid 7.3 million euros ($8 million) from 2001-18 to the company of then committee vice president José María Enríquez Negreira. Prosecutors have accused Barcelona of alleged corruption in sports, fraudulent management, and falsification of mercantile documentation.
Barcelona opened the probe to look into the actions of all the different presidential administrations that made payments over the years, including Laporta’s first at the club. The investigation was conducted by an external company.
The club said the probe found that “no conducts of a criminal nature associated to sporting corruption have been identified, nor are there any grounds to investigate any form of criminal activity associated to bribery.” It added there was “official documentation on the invoices and payments” for the services of “scouting and advice regarding referees, which are common practices in the professional sports sector.”
“Consulting on technical-refereeing issues does not constitute any type of illegal act,” Laporta said. “Consulting, as is done by the big clubs, that was carried out transparently, with the corresponding invoices, at least in my first mandate as president.”
The probe found 629 technical refereeing reports and 43 CDs that the club received over 18 years for what Laporta called “market price.” More reports were likely lost over time, he said.
“I reiterate with all my resolve, I am convinced that FC Barcelona has not committed any crime of sports-related corruption. I hope that sooner rather than later, it is fully exonerated,” he said. “Accusations must be proven. We live by the rule of law, which guarantees among its basic principles the presumption of innocence.”
He said that if there were any irregularities committed by Negreira, Barcelona would be a victim of them. He also said Negreira was not in a position to directly influence referees, and that it was Negreira’s son who actually produced the refereeing reports.
“I dare anyone to show an instance in which Barcelona was favored in a match because of these payments,” Laporta said. “We will allow the justice system to do its work and I’m sure that Barcelona will be cleared. I am fully convinced that FC Barcelona has never performed any act with the intention of altering the competition to gain an advantage.”
The Spanish league, Real Madrid and other clubs have been among those taking part in the legal proceedings against Barcelona. Laporta criticized league president Javier Tebas for making accusations against Barcelona, and also took a shot at rival Madrid.
“Everyone knows that Real Madrid is a club that is historically favored by refereeing mistakes,” he said.
Laporta said Barcelona has always been a club that takes pride in its values, and it would never want to win anything with outside help.
“Throughout its 123-year history, FC Barcelona has always been a model of fair play, both on and off the field,” he said. “If we have won for so many decades, it has undoubtedly been a result of effort, talent and knowledge.”
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni
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Silicon Valley councilman indicted in 49ers report leak
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Silicon Valley city councilman has been charged with perjury after he allegedly lied about leaking a grand jury report to the San Francisco 49ers last year that detailed a purportedly unethical relationship between the team and the city council, prosecutors said Friday.
Santa Clara City Councilmember Anthony Becker is accused of providing the secret report titled “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Santa Clara City Council” to the team’s former top spokesperson and a local media outlet in 2022, days ahead of its official release.
Becker then allegedly lied to the grand jury about the leak, prosecutors said, prompting the criminal charges.
The 49ers play in Levi’s Stadium in the city of Santa Clara, about 35 miles (56.33 kilometers) south of San Francisco. Santa Clara County is broadly considered home to Silicon Valley.
The city of Santa Clara owns the stadium and leases it to the team; fighting between the two groups has led to ethics complaints, legal disputes and years of bad blood.
Al Guido, the team’s president, and Larry MacNeil, the former CFO who worked extensively on the team’s stadium project, were named in the indictment as witnesses who spoke to the criminal grand jury for Becker’s indictment.
“The 49ers have cooperated fully with the District Attorney’s Office in their investigation, and will continue to do so,” team spokesperson Brian Brokaw said in a statement Friday. “However, because this is an ongoing legal matter, the organization is not able to make any further comment at this time.”
Prosecutors say the team has bankrolled Becker’s political career by spending $3.2 million through independent expenditure committees for his 2020 city council race, which he won, as well as his unsuccessful 2022 mayoral bid.
The “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” report alleged that Becker and four other councilmembers regularly voted “in a manner that is favorable to the 49ers” and would routinely meet with the team’s lobbyists but not disclose what was discussed.
Becker faces a felony charge of perjury under oath, as well as a misdemeanor charge of willful failure to perform duty. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.
Becker did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday, and it was not clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
“Councilmember Becker violated the public’s trust,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “That an elected official would commit perjury and lie under oath before the grand jury strikes at the very heart of our justice system and requires accountability.”
Representatives for the Santa Clara City Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.