Sixers pick up Shake Milton’s option. What’s next for backup guard?

The Sixers exercised Shake Milton’s team option, a team official confirmed to PhillyVoice on Tuesday morning, following through on a decision most people viewed as a foregone conclusion heading into free agency. But after some reporting to the contrary mid-month, Philadelphia now officially has Milton on the books for next season.

From an accounting perspective — and who doesn’t love talking basketball strictly in dollars and cents — it was a no-brainer decision on Philadelphia’s end. While the Sixers were likely hoping for Milton to turn into something more over the time he has spent on his current contract, it costs them almost nothing to keep him on the roster, just shy of $2 million for a semi-reliable guard off of the bench who has proven capable of helping the team out in both regular season and playoff performances. In fact, the Sixers may never have gotten to a Game 7 against the Atlanta Hawks in 2021 if it was not for a late Shake Milton outburst in a critical Game 2 win.

On basketball merit, Milton has been one of Philadelphia’s most confounding players, a player who can prop up the bench unit by himself or shoot/dribble the opponent right back into a game on the wrong night.  2021-22 was Milton’s worst year since his rookie season way back in 2018-19, when he was still an occasional bit player on a team with a different coaching staff and much different roster. Many of his struggles in 2021-22 can be explained by absences from the lineup — Milton missed a stretch in late December due to a bout with COVID-19, and after just two games back in the lineup, Milton suffered a back contusion that knocked him out of the lineup until mid-February. And, it’s fair to note, Milton has frequently been the guy asked to do a bit too much on a bench unit that has been undermanned and overextended for most of the past two seasons.

 Those caveats aside, the biggest issue for Milton over the past two seasons is that he has watched his three-point effectiveness dip dramatically compared to where we saw him in 2019-20 and what people expected out of him leaving college. When Milton left SMU following his junior season, he had completed three consecutive seasons of elite shooting on medium-to-high volume, but he has only matched that pace in one professional season. Last year’s mark of 32.3 percent was a big fall-off even when we consider how health disrupted his year.

The key for Milton, it would seem, is getting back to a place where his role is focused predominantly (if not close to exclusively) on being a knockdown catch-and-shoot player. 2020-21 was Milton’s best season on volume, with the backup guard basically running Philadelphia’s second unit by himself, but Milton’s best season from an efficiency standpoint came when the bulk of his shots came on spot-up jumpers:

 Season Spot-up 3s as % of total shots  Three-point % (overall) 
  2019-20  38.8  43.0 
 2020-21 20.1  35.0 
 2021-22 23.3  32.3 

There should be no shortage of catch-and-shoot opportunities created next season, between James Harden running point, Joel Embiid drawing doubles in the post, and Tyrese Maxey putting pressure on teams with his pace off-the-bounce. De’Anthony Melton will likely get the first crack at minutes among other guards on the roster, but whoever puts their hand up and claims the role as the fourth guard in the rotation should get a steady diet of quality looks.

One of the positive side effects of adding a quality depth piece in Melton is that the competition for minutes becomes a real battle instead of a situation where the Sixers simply have to try everyone. Milton is a player Rivers likes, but if they end up benefitting more from movement shooting one night, maybe it’s Furkan Korkmaz who gets a look over him. Maybe Isaiah Joe, bearish as I am about his ability to stick, steals the 10-15 minutes off of the bench on a night with hot shooting. The difference now is you’re not forced to play basically all of those guys (or at least 2/3) in order to even put together a rotation.

The other big key for Milton, if he’s to stay in the rotation, is stepping forward as a defender. None of the other guys competing for that spot at present are exactly shutdown defenders, but inching back toward an elite level on that end of the floor is a big point of emphasis for the Sixers this offseason, as Daryl Morey noted in the hours following the draft. 

 “We were the No. 1 defense two years ago,” Morey said last Friday. “We were good last year. We want to make sure we improve that.”

The acquisition of Melton and further moves in free agency will work toward that goal, but some of their improvement will have to come from within. It’s not reasonable to expect a guy like James Harden to suddenly change his stripes on defense, but Milton has every reason to refocus his efforts toward becoming a reliable three-and-D type player. He won’t turn 26 until training camp in late September, he will have less offensive responsibility than he’s had in years, and for whatever he lacks in foot speed and top-end athleticism, Milton has wingspan to spare if he commits to sharpening his mind and body to defend bigger players. Korkmaz is not exactly Scottie Pippen out there, but his bench counterpart has at least shown signs of defensive progress at times over the past two seasons. A small baby step or two coinciding with a return to form as a shooter would go a long way.

(On the shooting front: there may also need to be a conversation and work put in to get Milton back to basics from a mechanical standpoint. He has had too many breakdowns and inconsistencies in his jumper the last year-and-a-half or so, and ironing that out is probably priority one for him.)

Exercising Milton’s option doesn’t necessarily mean he’s for sure back next season, mind you, as the upgrade in the backcourt makes it easier to attach him in any sort of salary dump deal should the Sixers need to free up a bit of extra cash to make a signing happen (say, P.J. Tucker at the NTMLE). He’s a playable guard on a minuscule contract, so you wouldn’t struggle to find him a home if push comes to shove.

The best outcome for Philadelphia, though, is probably one where they’re able to get more out of a healthy Milton and get surplus value from a player on a team-friendly contract. Milton has flashed the talent to impact games at his best, but we’re at the point in his career where consistency must be demanded, not just hoped for. In a smaller role with less responsibility on his plate, the hope will be that he can find that next season.

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Report: Bryce Harper ‘expected to need surgery’ on fractured left thumb

Bad news for Bryce Harper, the Phillies and their fans. According to a new report from the Inqurier’s Scott Lauber, Harper is “expected to need surgery” on his fractured left thumb, an injury sustained after he was hit by a pitch from the Padres’ Blake Snell on Saturday

Here’s what Lauber said regarding the reigning National League MVP:

How much time will Bryce Harper actually miss?

Harper is expected to need surgery on his fractured left thumb, multiple sources indicated, which would put his recovery time beyond the best-case scenario of four to six weeks. But even though only 14 weeks remain in the season, the reigning National League MVP is said to be hopeful of playing again this year, possibly even before the end of August.

If that timetable does come to fruition — team officials have thus far said only that he will be out “indefinitely” — the Phillies would need to at least tread water without their best player for a minimum of eight weeks. [Inquirer]

Obviously, the longer Harper remains out of the lineup, the odds of the Phillies ending their playoff drought get slimmer and slimmer. If it’s a situation where Harper misses four to six weeks, as Lauber mentioned, the Phillies could potentially hang tough with some key acquisitions before the July 31 trade deadline. If Harper isn’t back until right before Labor Day Weekend, that playoff drought is getting an extra year added to it.

The Phillies enter their first series post-Harper injury on Tuesday night, as they start a three-game home set against Atlanta. 

UPDATE: June 28, 10:50 a.m.

NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury confirms that Harper will need surgery:

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Report: ‘Talent evaluators’ predict that Trea Turner will sign with Phillies in offseason

Things are a bit dour in Phillies world given the latest report that Bryce Harper will likely be getting surgery on his fractured left thumb. I don’t know if reinforcements will be coming for the Phils before July’s trade deadline, but they may be coming this offseason if Phillies owner John Middleton wants to spend some more “stupid money.”

A new report from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale indicates that some people around baseball are expecting the Phillies to sign reigning National League batting champion Trea Turner to a big contract after the 2022 season.

Here’s what Nightengale had to say:

The free-agent shortstop market will be insane once again this winter with an All-Star cast of Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, Dansby Swanson all potentially available.

Several talent evaluators predict that Turner, who’s from Florida, will return East and wind up signing with the Phillies, leaving Correa with the Dodgers or Cubs. [USA Today/$]

I have a hot take: it would be good if the Phillies signed one of the best shortstops in baseball!

Turner, a Florida native who turns 29 on Thursday, spent the first six-and-a-half years of his career with the Nationals. Four of those years overlapped with Bryce Harper, who is no stranger to egging on ownership to open their checkbooks to sign big-name players. 

Current Phils shortstop Didi Gregorius, who’s hitting .262 with a .681 OPS during an injury-plagued 2022 season, will be a free agent this winter. Top infield prospect Bryson Stott has struggled mightily in his rookie season and I can’t imagine he’ll do enough this season to preclude the Phillies from wanting a player of Turner’s caliber. 

Turner, coming off his first All-Star nod in 2021, is hitting .313 with an OPS of .850 for the first-place Dodgers this year. The Phillies have not had a leadoff hitter in the same sphere as Turner since Jimmy Rollins’ MVP performance in 2007. 

Nightengale additionally mentioned possible manager searches that will happen after this season and touched upon the Phillies given the interim status of Rob Thomson:

The Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Angels are currently planning to conduct full managerial searches this winter and one name that keeps popping up in internal discussions is future Hall of Fame manager Bruce Bochy.

Bochy, 67, who splits his time between his homes in San Diego and Nashville, Tennessee, says he’s open to another managing job providing it’s the right opportunity and a potential contender.

Bochy, a three-time World Series champion, left the San Francisco Giants after the 2019 season but never ruled returning to the game.

Atlanta bench coach Walt Weiss also is expected to get strong consideration. [USA Today/$]

Bruce Bochy’s rings speak for themselves, but I’m not totally sure hiring a 67-year-old guy as the manager is the move for the organization right now. I’m sure a lot of Phillies fans would be on board with keeping Thomson going into 2023 too. 

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10 reasons the Giants will be a dumpster fire this season

This week, all week long, we’re taking a negative look at each of the teams in the NFC East, in detail. On Monday we roasted the Dallas Cowboys. Today we’ll poke fun at the New York Giants.

To note, we will not be talking about the positives of any of the Eagles’ NFC East rivals, because, well, that’s no fun. This will be 100 percent vitriolic. And yes, we’ll get to the Eagles as well at the end of the series.

1) The Giants are a laughingstock and their owner doesn’t know what he’s doing

If you think I’m not going to make fun of the 2021 Giants because they hired a new head coach and general manager, you are sorely mistaken. Hilarious things happened with this disgraceful team last season, and they need to be laughed at. So let’s review the highlights (or lowlights if you’re a Giants fan) in chronological order:

Training camp: Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett had this odd interaction with the media.

It’s hard to say if he was demanding to be called “coach,” or if he was giving reporters a lesson in manners by urging them to respond after he said that it was good to see them. Either way, what a weirdo talking that way to grown men and women.

Week 1: Joe Judge set the tone for what was to come in the Giants’ 2021 season, when he challenged a non-challengeable play. 

He thought a Broncos receiver stepped out of bounds before getting into the end zone, except he clearly scored and it probably took the NFL all of 2 seconds to confirm the TD. The officials ignored Judge’s complaints from the sideline, so Judge threw his challenge flag as the Broncos were attempting the PAT, because he’s a gigantic crybaby who was unhappy that he didn’t get to have his say before the officials moved the game forward.

The PAT was good, but you could hear whistles on the TV feed during the kick, because they reacted to Judge throwing the flag.

Initially, the referee announced that you can’t challenge a scoring play because they’re automatically reviewed, etc., but then they also had to discuss whether the PAT had to be re-kicked. It seemed that they ultimately decided (without actually saying so), “No, screw that crybaby. He’s not going to benefit here by forcing a re-kick.” So the PAT just counted even though referees were blowing their whistles during the play. Lol. It’s kinda slow and boring, but you can watch the whole thing here:

Week 2: In a primetime game on Thursday night, Washington missed a field goal at the end of regulation, giving the Giants a win. Oops, but no wait, Dexter Lawrence jumped offsides, giving the then Football Team another chance for the win. On the second attempt, they didn’t miss. It was an instant “piss the game away” classic.

Some Giants homers tried to push the idea that Lawrence didn’t jump offsides. He did.

Lawrence also tried to claim that he felt he didn’t jump early, though his attempt to stop moving forward in the video above proves otherwise. Whatever. Who cares.

Anyway, many made the point at the time that Judge’s messaging throughout his entire Giants’ coaching tenure was that his team was going to be all about discipline, and in the first two weeks of the season he temper tantrum-challenged a non-challengeable play and one of his players jumped offsides on a game-deciding field goal attempt.

Side note: Kenny Golladay was caught by cameras yelling at Jason Garrett during this game.

Week 3: After the Falcons kicked a game-winning field goal to beat the Giants, there was a loud bang in the hallway of the press box. Apparently owner John Mara had kicked a couple of trash cans. 

Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post snapped a picture of them. The side-by-side combatant pictures of the frowny-faced Mara and the fallen trash cans — as if they are celebrities who were dating but are now going through a rough breakup — is Pulitzer worthy.

Seriously, that’s my favorite image of the 2021 season.

Week 14: Prior to a home game against the Cowboys, the Giants, who were 4-9 at the time, announced that its fans would be treated to “Fan Appreciation Day.” Oh? How would they be appreciated? 

With a free medium Pepsi!

Except, when some fans tried to get their medium Pepsi, they were told that only the season ticket account holder could collect on the medium Pepsi offer, not just anyone with a ticket. In other words, if you owned several season tickets, under one account, you only got one free medium Pepsi.

Week 17: Then there was Judge’s press conference rant after a Week 17 loss to the Bears, during which he said the Giants “ain’t some clown show organization,” in addition to making up some nonsense about players around the league begging to play for him:

I have some advice here for anyone of you reading this, not just Joe Judge and the Giants: Whether you think you’re involved in a clown show or not, never actually say out loud, “This ain’t some clown show.” It will only make others suspect that a clown show is afoot.

Week 18: And finally, in his coup de grace against Washington, Judge had the offense run QB sneaks on second and third downs from inside their own five yard line. Here’s the second sneak:

I love that there was a clear false start by Devontae Booker on that play, and the officials just ignored it because who cares. After the game, Zack Rosenblatt asked Judge about the sneaks.

Did you listen? “We wanted to give ourselves room for the punt,” he said. “We did that. We gave ourselves room for the punt.” 🤣🤣🤣

Free idea for any enterprising Giants fans: You know how Eagles fans wear “PHILLY SPECIAL” t-shirts with X’s and O’s of the play call? Like this?


You should make your own “ROOM FOR THE PUNT” t-shirts. A mockup: 


That idea, my friends, is on the house.

Since 2017, the Giants are tied for the worst record in the NFL with the New York Jets, at 22-59 (0.272), with a point total differential of -530. Judge is gone, and so is Dave Gettleman, way later than he should have been. But before Judge, there was Pat Shurmur, who was an even worse head coaching hire, and before Shurmur there was Ben McAdoo. Since 2016, Mara has hired four head coaches or general managers and they’ve all been outright disasters.

Giants fans are already sold on new GM Joe Schoen and new head coach Brian Daboll, just as most were once upon a time with Gettleman, McAdoo, Shurmur, and Judge.

In the NFC East, Mara is overshadowed by the reprehensible Dan Snyder and the attention-seeking Jerry Jones, and so his badness has flown under the radar. He’s probably best known for spearheading the NFL’s extremely unpopular emphasis on eliminating taunting. He’s responsible for calls like this:

He should probably also be getting more scrutiny for fielding the worst team in the NFL the last half decade.

Oh man, I still have nine to go? 

2) Was Brian Daboll the best coaching candidate for this job?

Daboll has been credited with helping develop Josh Allen from an uber-talented but raw prospect into the elite quarterback he has become. He has also coordinated an offense that has finished with the following rankings since he became the Bills’ OC in 2018:

Bills O under Daboll  DVOA – offense  DVOA – pass  DVOA – run 
2018  31  31  29 
2019  21  20  19 
2020  22 
2021  10  13 

As you can see, there’s tangible improvement. Part of that has been the stable coaching staff that has been in place in Buffalo, but probably the bigger reason is that they have gotten much better players over that span.

Daboll has also had three short stints as the offensive coordinator of three other teams in a span of four years:

 Brian Daboll other OC jobs DVOA – offense  DVOA – pass  DVOA – run 
2009 – Browns  24  29  13 
2010 – Browns  21  22  16 
2011 – Dolphins  20  18  28 
2012 – Chiefs  31  32  23 

Those four teams went a combined 18-46. The quarterbacks who started for Daboll during those years were Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson, Colt McCoy, Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Matt Moore, Chad Henne and Matt Cassel.

Daboll had success with the ultra-talented quarterback in Allen (though it took some time). He did not have success with the less talented quarterbacks that he has worked with. So I guess that raises the question, “Are Daniel Jones and the Giants’ offense more like Josh Allen and the Bills’ offenses, or closer to the other quarterbacks and the offenses Daboll coached at his other stops?” That’s for you to decide, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Buffalo’s good players are the biggest reason Buffalo is good.

In many ways, Daboll is like two of the Giants’ last three failed coaching hires, in that they were considered quarterback gurus. Ben McAdoo was Aaron Rodgers’ quarterbacks coach before the Giants hired him as their offensive coordinator, and once in the building, he was reportedly thought of as “a young Andy Reid.” Shurmur’s biggest selling point to the Giants in 2018 was that he coaxed a great season out of journeyman Case Keenum in Minnesota in 2017.

Daboll is also kinda-sorta the Giants’ second consecutive “Bill Belichick hire,” after they whiffed on Judge. Daboll got his start in the pros under Belichick in 2000 as a defensive assistant and coached in New England for a total of 12 years.

So, you know, there are parallels. Of course, Daboll was chosen over former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, who somehow led the Dolphins to a 24-25 record over the last three seasons despite being dealt an often-dreadful roster. His aggressive defensive scheme often confused and battered opposing quarterbacks and helped serve as something of an equalizer against more talented teams. He was a surprise firing at the end of Miami’s 2021 season.

Thinking he had a real chance for the Giants’ head coaching job prior to an interview, Flores received a text from Belichick, who congratulated him on earning the Giants’ job, except, uhhhhh, boomer Belichick got his Brians confused, and thought he was texting Daboll.


Flores subsequently sued the NFL, the Giants (for allegedly setting up a sham interview), the Dolphins (for a litany of offenses), the Broncos (again, alleged sham interview), and later the Texans (dropped from consideration for a coaching job because of the lawsuit). If you’re into all that legal mumbo jumbo, it’s all here.

Maybe Daboll will be a good head coach. It’s impossible to predict. But to me, it’s smells a lot like the “same old same old.”

3) They don’t have good players

The Giants haven’t had a player make First-Team All-Pro since 2016. 

In the last three seasons, they have only had two players make the Pro Bowl:

  1. James Bradberry, 2020
  2. Evan Engram, 2020

Good Lord, how did Engram get in? Anyway, both of those guys are on other teams now. Of the players still on the Giants’ roster, they only have four Pro Bowl appearances among them.

Golladay, Williams, and Gano all made their Pro Bowls while playing for other teams.

I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the worst team in the league over the last five years doesn’t have many players to be celebrated.

4) The Giants don’t think much of Daniel Jones anymore

Daniel Jones showed some promise early in 2021. In his first four games he completed 66.7 percent of his passes, he averaged almost 300 passing yards per game, he averaged 8.2 yards per pass attempt, and he ran for 188 yards and 2 TDs.

Over his last seven games before he was lost for the season with a neck injury, he, uh, wasn’t able to keep up that level of play.

 Daniel Jones, 2021 Comp-Att (%)  Yards (YPA)  TD-INT  Rating 
First 4 games  96-144 (66.7%)  1184 (8.2)  4-1  98.3 
Last 7 games  136-217 (62.7%)  1244 (5.3)  6-6  75.9 

Some of those INTs were egregiously bad. Like this: 

Or this: 

Or this: 

Or this: 

Lol, who was that last one even intended for? His center?

In January, Mara said the Giants have done everything possible to screw Jones up, which is certainly true. Whether the Giants truly think he can play is another story. They obviously have their doubts, as they did not exercise his fifth-year option, an obvious but telling decision.

5) The wide receivers are underachievers

The Giants had some downright sad production from their wide receivers in 2021:

 Giants WRs Rec  Yards  TD 
Kenny Golladay  37  521 
Kadarius Toney  39  420 
Sterling Shepard  36  366 
Darius Slayton  26  339 
John Ross  11  224 
Collin Johnson  11  105 
Dante Pettis  10  87 
C.J. Board  51 
Pharoah Cooper  33 
David Sills  17 
TOTAL  180  2163 

In fairness, they had Jones, Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm throwing to them, and they had Joe Judge calling QB sneaks in second and third down from inside their own five yard line.

Still, if you combined the Giants’ 10 receivers into one mega-receiver, combining all of its stats, it would have ranked 40th in the NFL in receiving touchdowns, and would have only out-gained Cooper Kupp by 216 yards.

Last offseason, the Giants signed Golladay to a four-year deal worth $72 million, and $40 million guaranteed. At the time, that contract tied him with the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill and the Browns’ Odell Beckham Jr. as the sixth-highest paid wide receivers (based on AAV) in the NFL. The Giants gave Golladay that contract even after an injury-riddled 2020 season in which he had 20 catches for 338 yards and two TDs. Yes, I know, Gettleman is gone.

Toney had a monster game against the Cowboys, catching 10 passes for 189 yards, before getting ejected for throwing a punch:

For one week Giants fans had reason to be interested in a promising young player. It was short-lived, as Toney had 19 catches for 139 yards (7.3 YPC) the entire rest of the season. He then skipped voluntary workouts in April.

6) How about at tight end? Anyone there to take some of the pressure off of the receivers?

Pro Bowl tight end 😂  Evan Engram left for Jacksonville. While he was often a drop machine, he was still the best tight end the Giants had. So who’s left?

Well, the Giants drafted Daniel Bellinger out of San Diego State in the fourth round. Otherwise, they have Ricky Seals-Jones and someone named Jordan Akins. Does that do anything for anyone?

7) The cornerbacks have very little experience

Adoree Jackson is a fine as a starting cornerback, though I’m not sure he’s a true CB1 that you can count on to mirror each opposing team’s best receiver. Jackson aside, all of the Giants’ other cornerbacks have a combined 14 career NFL starts. None of them individually have more than 4 career starts.

Also, who is starting at safety opposing Xavier McKinney? Julian Love? Rookie fourth-round pick Dane Belton? 😬

8) The offensive line still probably won’t be good

Giants fans are PUMPED that their offensive line is finally fixed after the Giants added Evan Neal and Joshua Ezeudu in the draft, as well as Jon Feliciano and Mark Glowinski in free agency. The offensive line is projected to look like this in 2022:

Andrew Thomas  Joshua Ezeudu  Jon Feliciano  Mark Glowinski  Evan Neal 

Settle down, guy/gals. The line is better (hard to get much worse), but it has a ways to go. 

Glowinski scored a three-year deal worth $18.3 million this offseason. While I understand the desire to fix the offensive line immediately, I’d be looking for players who can grow with the team as it begins its journey back from rock bottom. I would not be signing a 30-year-old like Glowinski, who may or may not even be a great short-term fix, much less a long-term solution.

Feliciano, meanwhile, formerly played for Daboll in Buffalo, so I get wanting a center who already knows the offense, but again we’re talking about a 30-year-old Band-Aid here.

As for the rookies, Neal may very well become a stud. We’ll see. He could also struggle as a rookie, as Thomas did. Ezeudu will have to win the starting job in camp, and if he does, again, we’ll see.

But the one thing that is certain is that the Giants will have almost no continuity whatsoever along their line, which is a pretty big deal in the NFL.

9) I guess we should mention Saquon Barkley

It sucks that Barkley will probably never be the same runner that he was as a rookie, because he was so fun to watch:

The unfortunate reality is that after returning from a torn ACL suffered early in the 2020 season, thus having ample time to recover, Barkley averaged just 3.7 yards per carry and 6.4 yards per reception in 2021.

10) There are so many other really bad teams

Wait, why is that a bad thing? Well, for the Giants’ future beyond the 2022 season, it’s not great. There are only two acceptable outcomes for the Giants in 2022:

  1. If they’re somehow good 😂
  2. If they’re like 3-14 and they land the first or second overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

If they improve this season and they’re merely “regular bad” as opposed to the laughingstock embarrassment they were in 2021, they may not be in a position to land a top quarterback in 2023.

The Giants aren’t the only really bad team out there. You also have the Bears, Falcons, Panthers, Seahawks, Lions, Texans, Jets, and arguments could be made for others. They’re all strong contenders for high draft picks.

There are also currently five teams with two first-round picks in 2023. They are, in order of 2022 draft positioning:

  1. Lions
  2. Texans
  3. Seahawks
  4. Dolphins
  5. Eagles

Every one of those teams could have a need for a quarterback next offseason, and will have maneuverability to trade up.

Teams that have enough talent to at least be mediocre without an ideal quarterback are thought to be in “NFL purgatory.” Somehow, even with having the worst record in the NFL over the last five years combined, the Giants have picked higher than fourth overall just once during that span (and they took a running back, lol). They could be picking outside the top five or so again in 2023 even if they’re awful. That’s not purgatory. The Giants wish they were in purgatory. They’re in more of an “NFL Extended Stay Hell.”

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2022 BET Awards: Jazmine Sullivan, Will Smith among award winners

Two Philadelphia natives – Jazmine Sullivan and Will Smith — received trophies at Sunday night’s BET Awards, though several others were honored with nominations ahead of the televised awards show. 

Jazmine Sullivan was a heavy hitter at the BET Awards, earning an award for best female R&B/pop artist. The singer also was nominated for album of the year for “Heaux Tales, Mo’ Tales: The Deluxe,” and was recognized as a nominee for the BET Her award, though the honor ended up going to fellow R&B singer Mary J. Blige

Sullivan has had a busy few years, as the release of her fourth studio album “Heaux Tales” was met with widespread critical acclaim. Her return to music after nearly six years without a new album was met with excitement from fans beginning in August 2020, with the release of “Lost One,” the album’s first single. 

The album was celebrated as the best of 2021 by Vulture, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Pitchfork, and the Los Angeles Times. It debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart following its initial release, and has been her most popular release of her career. The deluxe album, “Heaux Tales, Mo’ Tales,” was released in February, ahead of her most recent tour. 

Sullivan used her acceptance speech as an opportunity to speak out against the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. In the speech, she noted that she does everything in her career for women, particularly Black women, and called on the men in the audience and those watching to stand up for the women in their lives. 

Will Smith continued what may be the last leg of his awards show run for his role in “King Richard,” with the film earning its own award for best movie and Smith walking away with best actor, though his award was given away off-screen. 

The actor has seldom been seen at industry events since his internet-breaking Oscars slap in March. Though his first Oscar win was largely overshadowed by the verbal and physical encounter with comedian Chris Rock just moments earlier, Smith has continued to earn recognition for his performance as Richard Williams in “King Richard.” 

The infamous Oscars moment resulted in Smith being barred from attending the awards show for 10 years, though he is still eligible for nomination. His wife, Jada Pinkett Smith — who was the subject of Rock’s joke and the subsequent altercation — spoke about the incident at length during an episode of her Facebook Watch show, “Red Table Talk.” 

Other Philly-adjacent nominees at this year’s BET Awards included Jabari Banks for his performance as Will in Peacock’s “Bel Air.” The “Fresh Prince” reboot premiered on the streaming platform in February, and has received mixed reviews, primarily for its grittier take on the original series. 

Another nomination went to Quinta Brunson for her role on ABC’s “Abbott Elementary.” The sitcom, which has garnered widespread praise for its depiction of the state of public education, takes audiences inside a fictionalized Philadelphia public elementary school, plagued by funding shortages but filled with teachers who are willing to fill the gaps left by divestment in education. 

The show is currently in production for its second season after a well-received debut last winter. Brunson has been lauded for reviving the popular network sitcom, but told Adam Scott during an appearance on Variety’s “Actors on Actors” that she doesn’t believe that she deserves that praise, noting that shows like “Young Sheldon” have also garnered large audiences.

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson also received another nomination for his immensely popular directorial debut in “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised).” 

The documentary, which chronicles the forgotten legacy of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, won Questlove his first Academy Award for best documentary, and was featured heavily at each awards show following its explosive release at the Sundance Film Festival. 

Actress Taraji P. Henson hosted the 2022 BET Awards, which were held in the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 26. 

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Who won the week: Phillies’ bullpen is improbably lights out

I know I’m tempting fate and that writing this article will ensure multiple bullpen meltdowns in the coming days, but props are do. The Phillies may have gone just 3-3 over the last week (though they did take three of four in San Diego…), but that record does nothing to diminish what the Phils’ relievers have done. I’ve raised hell over the last several months about the team’s pen, but they’ve been battling as of late.

Here’s something I never thought I’d say: The Phillies’ bullpen is my pick for who won the week in Philly sports. Yes, the same Phillies bullpen that has drawn the ire of every baseball fan in the Delaware Valley not just this season, but over the last several years. Kyle Schwarber would’ve certainly been a worthy selection, but I already praised “June Schwarber” with a post-Padres series story on Monday

I don’t even know how to compliment the Phils’ pen. It’s uncharted territory for me. Let’s get to it…

Shutting It Down 💨

Here’s how Phillies’ relievers have performed over the last week:

 Game (W-L) IP  ER   K  BB
 6/21 @ TEX (L) 1.2  4   1 
 6/22 @ TEX (L) 3.2  0  6 0
6/23 @ SD (W) 1.2  0 1
6/24 @ SD (L)  1.0 0 3
6/25 @SD (W)  4.0 0 4
6/26 @SD (W)   6.1 0  5 

So, over the course of 18.1 innings, the Phillies’ relievers had a 1.96 ERA with 20 strikeouts and just one walk. All four of those earned runs came from Jeurys Familia on Tuesday against Texas. The Phillies were already down 3-0 and lost 7-0. Credit to interim manager Rob Thomson, Familia hasn’t pitched since. DFAing Familia should be under heavy consideration. He and his 5.55 ERA should be the first piece gone from the pen when the inevitable trade deadline reinforcements come to Philly.

Putting Familia’s typical performance aside, the bullpen did everything a Phillies fan could’ve asked of them. Thomson used Seranthony Domínguez as a closer on Saturday. Finally! During the Padres’ series, Domínguez pitched 1.2 innings of no-run, no-hit, no-walk ball. Keep him in that role, Topper. Learn from Joe Girardi’s mistakes. Domínguez has a 1.63 ERA in 27.2 innings in 2022.

The bullpen, in a complete reversal from their usual antics, saved a game the Phillies should’ve lost on Sunday. Kyle Gibson was rocked in just 2.2 innings, surrendering five runs and putting the team in an early 5-2 hole. Schwarber’s heroics at the plate put the Phillies ahead in the seventh, but it was the bullpen that stopped the bleeding and kept the ship steady. 6.1 innings where the relievers didn’t give up a single run against a should-be playoff team? Wild! 

The Phillies’ bullpen ERA now sits at 4.08 for the entire 2022 season. That’s 19th in baseball. Do cartwheels, Phillies fans, for this group only being slightly below average. 

I don’t anticipate this level of play to continue, but for at least a brief period of time, the Phils relied on their bullpen big time and those dudes came up clutch. 

Who Lost the Week: Blake Snell ❌

A name that will live in infamy among Phillies fans

Last week’s winner: Rhys Hoskins

Who Won the Week 2022 Tally:

Bryce Harper: 2

Howie Roseman: 2

Tyrese Maxey: 1

Tobias Harris: 1

Joel Embiid: 1

Ray Didinger: 1

Rob Thomson: 1

Rhys Hoskins: 1

Phillies bullpen: 1

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10 reasons the Cowboys will be a dumpster fire this season

This week, all week long, we’re taking a negative look at each of the teams in the NFC East, in detail. Batting leadoff, as always, will be the Dallas Cowboys.

To note, we will not be talking about the positives of any of the Eagles’ NFC East rivals, because, well, that’s no fun. This will be 100 percent vitriolic. And yes, we’ll get to the Eagles as well at the end of the series.

1) Mike McCarthy is still the head coach

The Cowboys’ loss to the 49ers in the wildcard round of the playoffs was one of their more delicious failures in recent memory, and they’ve had their share. It was of course highlighted by one of the dumbest play calls I have ever seen. In case you have forgotten what the end of that game looked like, let’s relive it!

I mean, LOL. Watching that live, as soon as Prescott took off running, my immediate thought (probably like the rest of you) was, “OMG this game is over.” 

And somehow, Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys ran this play seemingly unaware that they had to depend on the umpire to make an athletic play to spot the ball in order to get the snap/spike off in time. McCarthy even blamed the official for not spotting it fast enough!

“It was the right decision.” 🤣

If you go back and watch the play again, the official actually did the Cowboys a HUGE favor. Watch where Prescott begins his slide. He’s at the 26 yard line. That’s where the ball should have been spotted. Instead, the Cowboys spotted it themselves at the 23. The official moved it back a couple feet, but not so much that the entire offense had to move back a few yards and get re-set before the snap. Had they gotten the snap/spike off in time, the Niners would have had a legitimate reason to be furious about the incorrectly spotted ball.

It’s hard to decide what was more ridiculous — the play call itself, or the Cowboys’ pathetic bitching about the officiating of that play in the aftermath. Actually the bitching was probably more dumb than pathetic, because even the most casual fans could easily identify how absurd that call was. I mean, if you don’t want to take responsibility, just say that Antifa made you call that play. At least the owner and half of America would buy that.

I also loved the general fan reaction to that play. As players and officials left the field, bottles and assorted trash rained down onto the field.

Dak Prescott was asked about that fan conduct at the conclusion of the game. At first, when he thought that the projectiles were being aimed at players, he was kinda like, (GASP!) “THAT’S OUTRAGEOUS!!!” When he was told the trash was likely directed at the officials, he was basically like, “Oh well in that case, they deserved it.”

When your head coach is a whiny loser who blames officials after a loss, your players will follow suit. 

But also, even if the Cowboys had successfully stopped the clock, what’s the likelihood that they score on the next play? Like three percent? Every fan base does this, by the way. Philly fans act like the Sixers would have (a) beaten the Raptors in OT and then the Bucks in the ECF, and then the Warriors in the finals if Kawhi Leonard hadn’t quadruple-doinked home the elimination game winner. Or in football terms, Philly fans pretend like the Eagles would have repeated as Super Bowl winners if Alshon Jeffery didn’t have a pass slip through his hands and into the hands of Marshon Lattimore.

You know how I know the Cowboys wouldn’t have advanced further in the playoffs if they successfully clocked the football? Because they never do! They haven’t participated in the NFC Championship Game in over a quarter century. Only two NFC teams — the Washington Commanders and the Detroit Lions — have gone longer without appearing in the Conference Championship round. Each of the 13 other teams in the NFC have all made it to the NFC Championship Game at least twice since the Cowboys last have. They’re the chokiest bunch of chokers who ever choked.

Getting back on topic, McCarthy stinks and if Dallas wins a playoff game in 2022, he’ll probably stay. If not, McCarthy is likely a goner, and while Cowboys fans will be happy about that, their NFC Championship Game drought will continue. Maybe Dallas will cough up a couple of first-round draft picks (and more?) to the Saints to hire Sean Payton? Can they afford that? It’s not like the roster is really all that great. Either way, it’s hard to be super excited about Dallas’ current leadership, or what it might cost to land Payton. 

2) The wide receivers are no longer a strength

Over the course of the 3.5 years that Amari Cooper was in Dallas, he was easily Prescott’s most productive receiver, racking up 292 catches for 3893 yards and 27 TDs. From 2019 to 2021, only 11 players had more receiving yards than Cooper. It’s an impressive list that includes Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, Travis Kelce, D.J. Moore, Tyreek Hill, Keenan Allen, Tyler Lockett, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and DK Metcalf.

Cooper is now gone after the Cowboys traded him to the Browns for a fifth-round pick and a swap of sixth-round picks. The real benefit to the Cowboys was getting Cooper’s bloated contract off the books, which, OK great, but the bottom line is that when Cooper arrived in Dallas in 2018 he helped take the Cowboys’ offense to the next level. Replacing his production will be hard.

The Cowboys also lost 2021 breakout receiver Cedrick Wilson in free agency to the Dolphins, and WR3 Michael Gallup is a certainty to miss some time at the start of the 2022 season as he continues to recover from a torn ACL. Let’s compare the Cowboys’ wide receivers heading into 2022 with their receivers heading into 2021:

Year  WR1  WR2  WR3  WR4  Scary? 
2021  Amari Cooper  CeeDee Lamb  Michael Gallup  Cedrick Wilson  😱 
2022  CeeDee Lamb  Michael Gallup  Jalen Tolbert?  James Washington?  😐 

3) The offensive line is no longer a strength

The other major strength that we tend to associate with Dallas is the offensive line. Well, they’re just not that good anymore. Let’s go position-by-position:

LT Tyron Smith (31): Over the first five seasons of his career, Smith only missed one game. Over the his last six seasons, Smith has missed 32 games. He missed six games in 2021, 14 games in 2020, and three games every season from 2016-2019. Let’s recap his six-year injury history, via

Date  Injury  Time missed 
9/23/16  Back Vertebral Disc Bulge  Hurt in practice, Smith missed 2 games. 
12/26/16  Knee MCL Sprain Grade 2  Smith missed Week 17 but returned for the Divisional Round on January 15. 
11/5/17  Inguinal Groin Strain Grade 2  Smith missed the final 6 snaps of Week 9 — plus the next 2 games. 
12/17/17  Knee Patella Sprain  Smith sprained his knee and missed 1 quarter. 
12/24/17  Knee Patella Sprain  Smith re-injured his right knee and was placed on IR. 
10/4/18  Back Lower Lumbar Sprain/Pull Unspecified Grade 1  Smith’s injury was described as back “tightness.” He battled through back pain going forward but never missed a game because of it. 
11/18/18  Cervical Neck  Smith missed 2 games with a neck injury. 
9/29/19  Ankle Sprain  Smith sprained his ankle against the Saints, and missed the next two games. 
9/18/20  Cervical Neck  Smith suffered a neck injury during individual drills ahead of Week 2 game against the Falcons. He was inactive for two games 
10/8/20  Cervical Neck Fracture  Smith suffered a setback with his neck injury ahead of Week 5 game. He was placed on IR ending his 2020 season. 
8/2/21  Arm Elbow Infection  Smith was limited at practice in training camp due to elbow tendinitis. 
10/17/21  Pedal Ankle Sprain/Pull Unspecified Grade 1  Smith suffered an ankle injury during Week 6’s game against the Patriots. He managed to finish the game. 
10/31/21  Pedal Ankle Sprain Grade 2  Smith suffered an ankle bone spur during Week 8’s game against the Vikings. He missed three games 
12/12/21  Pedal Ankle Sprain Grade 2  Smith aggravated an ankle injury in Week 14’s game against Washington. He missed two games 

So to recap, that’s his back, neck, elbow, knee, groin, ankle, and God only knows what else never got reported. 


In 2022, Smith has already experienced “back tightness.” 😬

LG Tyler Smith: The Cowboys’ 2021 starting left guard, Connor Williams, left in free agency for the Miami Dolphins this offseason. In my mind I can hear Troy Aikman saying, “Yeah, that’s the left guard Connor Williams. You can see here they got him on a hold, and you just can’t do that,” as a Williams penalty negates a big play.

Insert Smith, Dallas’ first-round pick in 2022. Smith has an intriguing blend of size and athleticism. He also has a mean streak, and some fun highlights. High ceiling guy. Unfortunately, he is also a very raw prospect who has a lot to clean up in his game, as he had 16 (!) penalties (12 for holding) in 2021. I look forward to Aikman saying, “Yeah, that’s the rookie left guard Tyler Smith. You can see here they got him on a hold, and you just can’t do that.”

With the Cowboys, Smith will be the “LGOTP, LTOTF,” or “left guard of the present, left tackle of the future.” In other words, he’ll play guard until he’s ready to replace Tyron Smith. In theory, that sounds like a reasonable enough plan. In theory.

Where that plan has some holes is that Smith hasn’t played guard since high school. Inserting him in immediately as the starting LG is easier said than done. Facing guys like Jonathan Allen, Fletcher Cox, and Leonard Williams won’t exactly be like going up against guys in the AAC.

And when Tyron Smith eventually goes down this season (as we all know he will), are they going to ask this unpolished rookie to then bump back outside to tackle after spending the offseason repping at LG? That has disaster written all over it.

By the way, contrary to what some may perceive about the Cowboys, they have not done a great job developing young offensive linemen. A list of offensive linemen that the Cowboys have drafted since they selected Zack Martin in the first round of the 2014 draft, not including this year:

Year  Player  Round  Career starts 
2015  Chaz Green 
2015  Laurence Gibson 
2018  Connor Williams  51 
2019  Connor McGovern  14 
2020  Tyler Biadasz  21 
2021  Josh Ball 
2021  Matt Farniok 

2020 UDFA Terence Steele is perhaps a success story, but that list above is pretty ugly otherwise.

C Tyler Biadasz: Just a guy. There were plenty of Cowboys fans clamoring for the team to select Tyler Linderbaum in the first round.

RG Zack Martin: All-Pro RG, but aging. Some dropoff in the near future is inevitable.

RT Terence Steele: Steele has been a reserve linemen for the Cowboys after joining them as a UDFA in 2020. He started 14 games as a rookie, and 13 games in 2021. He showed enough improvement last season that the Cowboys felt comfortable releasing La’el Collins and making Steele the starting RT. 

Collins has been wildly overrated over his career (looking at you, PFF), but he was set to make a reasonable $10 million salary in 2022. Handing the reins to Steele is a big gamble. It’s also worth noting that because Steele is now a starter, the Cowboys’ depth will take a big hit.

On that note, the Cowboys have three reserve linemen who have ever taken an NFL snap:

  1. OG Connor McGovern: 14 career starts, 1106 career snaps.
  2. OT Aviante Collins: 77 career snaps, last saw the field in 2019.
  3. C Matt Farniok: Played 23 snaps as a rookie last season

They’re thin.

4) Ezekiel Elliott is approaching “afterthought” territory

There is only one running back (Mark Ingram) currently on an NFL roster with more career touches than Ezekiel Elliott, who is still only 26 years old (he turns 27 in July). The Cowboys ran him into the ground during his first four years in the league, as he averaged 340 touches per season. He has gotten a lighter workload over the last two seasons, but has still been used heavily, relative to most NFL backs, with 290 touches per season. He’ll likely pass Ingram for most career touches in 2022. Let’s go ahead and update Zeke’s Zelda-like life meter, as we always do each year:


Elliott is very clearly in decline. A look at Zeke’s rushing yards per game by season:


My analysis: They’ve gone down every year he has been in the league. 📉

Elliott is no longer an explosive back, and is not a threat to break off long runs. Despite being fifth in total rushing attempts over the last two seasons (with 481 of them), Elliott only has six rushes of 20+ yards. There are 39 (!) other players in the NFL with at least six rushes of 20+ yards. The list:

20+ yard rushes  2021  2020  TOTAL 
Nick Chubb  12  12  24 
Jonathan Taylor  14  21 
Derrick Henry  16  19 
Dalvin Cook  15 
Lamar Jackson  10  15 
Damien Harris  12 
Rashaad Penny  11  11 
Josh Allen  11 
Miles Sanders  11 
Aaron Jones  11 
Jalen Hurts  10 
David Mongomery  10 
Alvin Kamara  10 
Joe Mixon 
Devin Singletary 
Antonio Gibson 
James Robinson 
Leonard Fournette 
Tony Pollard 
James Connor 
Melvin Gordon 
J.K. Dobbins 
Gus Edwards 
Kyler Murray 
D’Ernest Johnson 
Patrick Mahomes 
Devontae Booker 
Chase Edmonds 
Kenyan Drake 
Ronald Jones 
Phillip Lindsay 
Najee Harris  N/A 
Elijah Mitchell  N/A 
Javonte Williams  N/A 
Latavius Murray 
Russell Wilson 
Daniel Jones 
Alexander Mattison 
Sony Michel 

The name that sticks out to me on that list is Latavius Murray. Let’s compare Murray’s and Elliott’s last two seasons, shall we?

Player  Rush  Yards  YPC  TD 
Ezekiel Elliott  481  1981  4.1  16 
Latavius Murray  265  1157  4.4  10 

They’re both big, plodding backs who are good around the goal line who will generally fall forward after contact, but are not big play threats. Zeke is basically “higher volume Latavius Murray.”

except Murray is currently a free agent, probably looking to sign somewhere for the league minimum while Elliott will count on the Cowboys’ salary cap this season for more than $18 million, most in the league among running backs.

5) It’s all on Dak this year for the first time in his career

Prescott’s career has had an interesting trajectory. He came out on fire as a rookie, and while his improvements as a quarterback have been steady, they have also been slow, and a bunch of other younger players who have since entered the league — guys like Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson — have blown right past him in the NFL’s quarterback hierarchy.

In the NFC East, Prescott is indisputably the best starting quarterback, and thus probably the division’s most valuable player. However, in the past he has always had great players around him. In 2022, as we have noted so far, the wide receivers aren’t really scary anymore, the offensive line has concerns galore, and the running back is clearly in decline. The Cowboys still have some good players on offense, like Lamb, Martin, Dalton Schultz (meh), and if you want to throw the underused Tony Pollard in there, eh, fine. 

But this is easily the worst supporting offensive cast Prescott has entered a season with as a professional quarterback, and it’s going to be interesting to see if it causes him to take a step backwards.

6) Takeaway regression is coming

The Cowboys’ defense led the NFL with 34 takeaways in 2021. Congratulations to them! They were led by Trevon Diggs, who had 11 INTs. The last time an NFL player had 11 INTs in a single season was 1981, when Everson Walls did it. Here’s a list of the 9 players who had at least 10 INTs in a season since 2000, and how many INTs they had the following season.

Player, Team, Year INT  INTs the next year  +/- 
Trevon Diggs, Cowboys, 2021  11 
Xavien Howard, Dolphins, 2020  10  -5 
Antonio Cromartie, Chargers, 2007  10  -8 
Champ Bailey, Broncos, 2006  10  -7 
Asante Samuel, Patriots, 2006  10  -4 
Ty Laws, Jets, 2005  10  -6 
Deltha O’Neal, Bengals, 2005  10  -9 
Ronde Barber, Buccaneers, 2001  10  -8 
Anthony Henry, Browns, 2001  10  -8 

Those players averaged a decrease of 6.9 INTs the following season. Will Diggs come close to matching his production in 2022? Probably only if the quarterbacks he faces decide that throwing the ball directly to him is a good idea. Here are all 11 of Diggs’ INTs during the 2021 season (you have to click “Watch on YouTube” to see it):

He got Tom Brady (via an egregious Leonard Fournette drop) and Justin Herbert the first two weeks of the season, but then the quality of his victims fell off rather sharply. He later picked (in chronological order) Jalen Hurts, Sam Darnold, Sam Darnold again, Mike Glennon, Mac Jones, Matt Ryan, Taysom Hill, Mike Glennon again (Diggs didn’t even complete the process of the catch on that one), and Taylor Heinicke. Credit Diggs for making the plays, but Good Lord those were some horrendous throws.


As a team, again, the Cowboys had 34 takeaways. Here’s a recent list of teams that had at least 30 takeaways in one season, and how many takeaways those teams had the following season: 

 Year, team Takeaways  Takeaways the next year  +/- 
 2021 Cowboys 34 
2019 Steelers  38  27  -11 
2019 Patriots  36  22  -14 
2019 Seahawks  32  22  -10 
2019 Vikings  31  22  -9 
2018 Bears  36  19  -17 
2018 Browns  31  20  -11 
2018 Rams  30  24  -6 
2017 Ravens  34  17  -17 
2017 Jaguars  33  17  -16 
2017 Lions  32  14  -18 
2017 Eagles  31  17  -14 
2016 Chiefs  33  26  -7 
2016 Raiders  30  14  -16 

On average, those teams had 12.8 fewer takeaways the next season. 

Dallas also led the NFL with 6 defensive touchdowns (5 INT, 1 fumble return). Here’s a recent list of teams that had at least 6 defensive touchdowns in one season, and how many defensive touchdowns those teams had the following season:

Year, team  DTD’s  DTD’s the next year  +/- 
2021 Cowboys 
2019 Buccaneers  -5 
2019 Ravens  -3 
2018 Bears  -5 
2017 Jaguars  -5 
2015 Chiefs  -1 
2015 Cardinals  -3 
2013 Chiefs  -6 
2013 Bears  -5 
2012 Bears  -3 
2012 Chargers  -6 
2012 Broncos  -4 

On average, those teams had 4.2 fewer defensive touchdowns the next season. So, you know, expect some regression there as well.

7) The front office never learns from past mistakes

The Cowboys’ front office has a habit of repeating two particular mistakes over and over and over again:

  1. They use the franchise tag as a weapon, to their own detriment.
  2. They can’t help themselves from taking injury and/or character concern players in the second round of the draft.

On the franchise tag front, this year they tagged TE Dalton Schultz at just under $11 million. Frustrated by stalled negotiations on a long-term deal, Schultz boycotted voluntary OTAs.

In May, the Browns no doubt annoyed the Cowboys when they gave franchise-tagged David Njoku a nonsensical four year, $54.75 million contract, for an average annual value of $13.7 million. Here’s how Njoku’s stats compare with Schultz’s the last two seasons: 

Player  Rec  Yards  YPC  TD 
David Njoku  55  688  12.5 
Dalton Schultz  141  1423  10.1  12 

As Joel Corry of CBS pointed out, the Cowboys have mismanaged franchise-tagged players in the past: 

The last two times the Cowboys let someone play a season under a franchise tag, it cost them far more to eventually sign these players long term. The same dynamic would likely apply to Schultz with a productive 2022 season.

The Cowboys definitely wouldn’t have needed to sign defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence to a five-year, $105 million contract, averaging $21 million per year, if a deal had been done in 2018. At the July 15 long-term-deal deadline for franchise players, the $20 million-per-year non-quarterback didn’t exist.

Dak Prescott doesn’t sign a $40 million-per-year contract in March 2021 with an agreement reached in July 2020. There’s a good chance Prescott’s would deal would have been under the $35 million-per-year extension Russell Wilson signed with the Seahawks in 2019.

Given the hits the Cowboys took this offseason at wide receiver, Schultz is kind of an important player to them this season, though it’s unlikely that he’ll miss any mandatory time. In that sense this perhaps doesn’t fit the theme of why the Cowboys will be bad specifically in 2022, but it’s worth noting that they keep messing up these situations, and in the case of Prescott, they are now paying the price as he’ll have huge cap hits in 2023 and 2024.

The Cowboys also have a long history of taking big risks with their second-round picks on talented players with medical and/or character concerns. Prior examples include guys like Trysten Hill, Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory, Kelvin Joseph, etc. This year their second-round risk was edge rusher Sam Williams, who was once arrested on a sexual battery charge.

On March 18, Joseph, who had red flags coming out of Kentucky, was a passenger in a vehicle from which gunshots killed a 20-year-old man. A month and a half later, undeterred, the Cowboys were like, “Meh, whatever. Let’s go ahead and take another character concern guy in the second round.”

8) We should probably mention the other holes on this roster

Cornerbacks not named Trevon Diggs, linebackers not named Micah Parsons, interior defensive line, pass rusher depth, safety. They also have an undrafted rookie kicker.

It looks a lot like some of the rosters the Cowboys had a decade or so ago, when they had a small handful of star players at the top, and then a whole lot of (fart noise).

9) They have the hardest floating games in the NFC East

The NFC East teams all play each other twice, as you’re aware. They also play the entirety of the NFC North and the AFC South, a pair of pretty bad divisions. As such, the four NFC East teams have the four easiest schedules in the NFL.

The NFC East teams each have three games on their schedules that their divisional rivals don’t. The Cowboys have a first-place schedule, and as such, they play first-place teams in the NFC West, the NFC South, and the AFC North. Those teams are the Rams, Buccaneers, and the Bengals. The NFC East teams drew the following floating opponents this year:

Finish  NFC East team  NFCW / NFCS / AFCN opponents 
1st  Cowboys  Rams, Buccaneers, Bengals 
2nd  Eagles  Cardinals, Saints, Steelers 
3rd  Commanders  49ers, Falcons, Browns 
4th  Giants  Seahawks, Panthers, Ravens 

In other words, the Cowboys will have to face both 2021-22 Super Bowl participants as well as the 2020-21 Super Bowl winner in their three floating games, while the rest of the NFC East teams (mostly) face a mix of mediocrity and slop. 

10) There hasn’t been a repeat NFC East champion since 2004

The last time a team repeated as NFC East division winners was when the Eagles did it in 2004. In each of the last 17 seasons, we’ve seen the previous year’s division champion dethroned.

 Year NFC East champion 
 2004 Eagles 
 2005 Giants 
 2006 Eagles 
 2007 Cowboys 
 2008 Giants 
 2009 Cowboys 
 2010 Eagles 
 2011 Giants 
 2012 WFT 
 2013 Eagles 
 2014 Cowboys 
 2015 WFT 
 2016 Cowboys 
 2017 Eagles 
 2018 Cowboys 
 2019 Eagles 
 2020 WFT 
 2021 Cowboys 

So who will win the NFC East in 2022? Probably not the Cowboys, and not because of some silly non-repeat streak. They’re just not that good. 🤷‍♂️

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Freedom Festival to feature 4th of July fireworks, live music, and more on the Camden Waterfront

The Camden Waterfront is set to be a prime destination for Fourth of July
fun this year with the 2022 Freedom Festival bringing thousands of people
to Wiggins Park to enjoy live music, a spectacular fireworks show, food,
beer and more. The festival is part of Camden County’s

Summer Parks Concert Series
, which will bring a full lineup of family-friendly free concerts to the
Camden Waterfront, Cooper River Park and Haddon Lake Park all summer long.

The Freedom Festival celebration kicks off at 5 p.m. with a salute to
America and our veterans by the Tri-County Symphonic band and will be
followed by live performances by Travel Lanes at 6:30 p.m. and The O’Jays
at 8 p.m. The evening will then culminate with a Fireworks Spectacular over
the Delaware River at 9:30 p.m.

In addition to the Freedom Festival, Wiggins Park will host the following
lineup of talented artists throughout the summer:

June 27 – Corinne Bailey Rae
July 18 – Ruthie Foster
August 01 – The Sugar Hill Gang
August 15 – Matt Cappy
August 29 – Third World

Cooper River Park, located in Pennsauken township, will host the following
free concerts on select Thursdays at 8 p.m.:

June 23 – City Rhythm Big Band with swinging horns & hot vocals
July 14 – The Fab Four – The Ultimate Tribute
July 28 – Light Opera of New Jersey presenting “Great Moments from the
Grand Stage”
August 4 – The Weight Band
August 18 – The Ledbetters – Pearl Jam Tribute

Haddon Lake Park, located in Haddon Heights, will host the following free
concerts inside the McLaughlin-Norcross Memorial Dell Concert Venue. All
concerts begin at 7:30 p.m.

June 29 – Al Olender / Graduation Speech
July 13 – Jeffrey Gaines / Brian Kors
July 27 – Miko Marks & The Abrams
August 3 – Jukebox The Ghost / Carly Moffa
August 24 – Kathleen Edwards / Shannen Moser
September 7 – Richard Thompson / Jonah Tolchin

You can find additional information, updates, weather cancellations, and
more on the Summer Concert series at

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Kyle Schwarber keeps mashing as Phillies stay in Wild Card hunt

Morale is at a low among Phillies fans after Bryce Harper’s broken thumb situation, but the team itself stepped up in the reigning National League MVP’s absence. Taking two out of three in San Diego, the Phils are just 1.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot. Making ground against the Padres, who are currently in the top NL Wild Card spot, was huge. 

Some thoughts and points on the Phillies as of late…

Without Bryce 🤕

As mentioned, Harper was a hit by a pitch from Padres starter Blake Snell on Saturday night. An MRI confirmed that Harper has a fractured left thumb. To say that this is devastating for the Phils’ playoff chances would be an understatement. If he’s able to only miss four or six weeks, this team has a shot to continue to tread water in the Wild Card picture. If it requires surgery and Harper is out the remainder of this season, to say nothing of that nagging UCL tear, the Phillies are likely toast.

More than ever, the Phillies need new sluggers Kyle Schwarber (✅) and Nick Castellanos (❌) to pick up the slack. Also, Dave Dombrowski might want to hit the phones and start making some calls about help at any of the three outfield spots. 

Schwarbombs 💣

June Schwarber is the real deal. The lefty slugger is hitting .283 with a whopping 1.068 OPS in 24 games this month. In the game where Harper went down on Saturday and on Sunday, Schwarber combined for five total RBI. An opposite field, three-run homer on Sunday with the Phils down two in the seventh inning is exactly the timely hitting needed if this ball club is going to survive its Harper-less lineups:

July 1 may be on Friday, but don’t tell that to Schwarber, who’s been raking all June. 

Gibson Comes Undone 🧵

Captain Obvious incoming… Not only will the Phillies’ hitters need to bring it with Harper out, but their pitchers will need to do so also. Know who wasn’t up for that task over the weekend? Kyle Gibson. On Sunday, in just 2.2 innings, Gibson surrendered five runs while walking three batters. If not for Schwarber doing his best Jim Thome impersonation, that was likely a Phillies loss, one that would’ve been pinned on Gibson.

Gibson’s ERA is up to 4.48 this season. In his 10-year career, his ERA is 4.45. This is who he is!

Bullpen Surprises with Dominance 😲

The Phillies bullpen pitched 11.1 innings in three games against the Padres. How many runs did they give up? Zero. ZERO! That feels impossible, especially since it seemed the stars weren’t aligned with this Phillies squad following Harper’s injury, but, hey, props for the relievers for getting it done. That torrid pace will not continue, but it’s encouraging enough that perhaps the pen can get by until trade deadline help arrives in Philly.

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Philadelphia unveils red ‘bus-only’ lane on Chestnut Street in effort to reduce traffic congestion

Those traveling along Chestnut Street in Center City this month may have seen a new addition to the roadway: red paint, rolled down the bus-only lanes in an effort to enhance efficiency for SEPTA drivers and commuters. 

Though the city previously implemented green bike-only lanes throughout the city, these bus-only lanes are closest to the street, and present an easy way for drivers and public transit users to hop on the bus and get to their destination quickly, without the hassle of city traffic congestion. 

The effort was made possible through a partnership between the city’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability, SEPTA, and PennDOT, all of whom noted the importance of reliable and quick public transit on both SEPTA ridership and transit safety. 

“The outreach we have completed for Bus Revolution (SEPTA’s community feedback program) revealed that the biggest opportunities to strengthen the bus system are improving speed and reliability,” said Jody Holton, SEPTA’s chief of planning. “SEPTA is excited to work with our partner agencies in the region on this significant initiative to improve visibility and safety on this corridor.” 

Red paint has been shown to improve the compliance of bus lanes, making it clear where drivers should be traveling. Implementing red bus-only lanes can reduce car intrusions by 30% to 50%, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials. 

For Philly’s new red lanes, compliance will be based primarily on drivers respecting the rules of the road, as police will not be present all day long, Dan Nemiroff, a SEPTA transit planner, told the Inquirer. The city is set to expand its red bus lanes throughout the year, making SEPTA rides quicker and improving experiences for transit riders. 

SEPTA Red Bus LanesCredit/City of Philadelphia

The red bus lane stretches along Chestnut Street from Broad to 2nd streets, and the city hopes to expand the initiative to other traffic corridors throughout the city.

“We recognize that people use Uber and Lyft, and we will work to identify spaces over time where that’s appropriate,” Michael Carroll, OTIS deputy managing director, told KYW. “There’s lots of other spots where that’s appropriate, but not in the bus lane. That’s not okay, and we’re going to be on people about that.” 

Red bus lanes have seen success in other cities, including Boston. Dedicated bus lanes in several communities throughout Boston allowed commuters to get to their destinations quicker, and increased transit reliability. Other cities that have implemented dedicated bus lanes, like New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago have also seen improvements in traffic congestion and overall transit experience for riders. 

“We value this opportunity to partner with the city and SEPTA on this pilot program,” said Louis Belmonte, a PennDOT executive. “We anticipate the red bus lane will help encourage the use of public transit, enhance safety, and make for an overall better experience for all road users.” 

 The effort is part of a wider plan between SEPTA, the city, and other transit agencies to improve the reliability of public transit in the city and boost ridership, which still has yet to recoup its losses from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. SEPTA has attempted no shortage of incentives to encourage people to return to SEPTA and leave their cars at home. 

Earlier this month, City Council passed a bill that will require some Philadelphia businesses to provide a public transit benefit for commuters. Other companies — like Wawa, Drexel University, and Penn Medicine — have taken part in a six-month pilot program, buying SEPTA Key Cards for their employees in order to bring workers back to public transit. 

SEPTA approved its 2023 fiscal operating budget last week, covering a 12-month period beginning in July. The $1.61 billion budget includes major investments in facilities and operation improvements, but also fare enhancements in order to boost ridership, according to Mass Transit. 

There will be no fare increases, and some select lines will see fare decreases beginning in July. One-Day Convenience Passes will be lowered from $9 to $6, while Three Day Passes will be reduced from $18 to $15. 

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