Month: January 2019

Drew Brees bonds with Jared Goff, but not ready to pass torch

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Drew Brees and Jared Goff were at the Pro Bowl together last year — a fate both would like to avoid this time around.

But it provided a special bonding opportunity for the quarterbacks, who will now square off when the New Orleans Saints play host to the Los Angeles Rams in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game (3:05 p.m. ET, Fox).new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

Goff, 24, said he appreciated that Brees was willing to share insight on things like his warm-up routine and approach.

Brees, who turned 40 on Tuesday, said he was glad to have the chance to “pay it forward” after so many veteran quarterbacks helped him out early in his career — even though his Saints and Goff’s Rams seemed destined for this type of showdown for NFC supremacy.10

“Listen, I was a first-, second-, third-year player in this league at one point. And I had an incredible mentor in Doug Flutie in San Diego,” said Brees, who then went on a brief tangent on how Flutie “never got the respect he deserved” as “one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play professional football” across the NFL, USFL and CFL.

“And I’ve had other guys, too. I remember the Super Bowl run in ’09, having Trent Dilfer reach out to me, having Kurt Warner reach out to me — and throughout my career, especially early on in my career, I had a ton of guys that I would speak to. And I always appreciated that, I always felt like that made a difference.

“And I told myself at that time that hopefully I could play long enough to where there’s guys that start asking advice from me. And I want to make sure that I pay it forward just like those guys did.”

As for Goff, specifically, Brees said: “Oh man, he’s tremendous.“cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

“There’s not many guys that are just better pure passers/throwers,” Brees said. “You watch what they do with their offense, there’s a lot of moving parts, and I think he handles it very, very well. He creates great timing and rhythm in the passing game. And obviously he had a phenomenal season last year, but he’s had an even better one this year. The future is really bright for him.”

Extending John Harbaugh’s contract is one coaching decision that makes sense

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The Baltimore Ravens and coach John Harbaugh have an agreement in principle on a long-term contract extension, which is the one coaching decision this offseason that makes the most sense.

This is a reward for turning a spiraling Ravens team into AFC North champions and giving a vision for what to expect from new franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson. This is a strong vote of confidence for the best coach in team history and for a leader who has the NFL’s best postseason track record over the past 11 years aside from Bill Belichick.

The biggest reason this was a no-brainer resolution comes in the form of a question: Whom would the Ravens replace him with?cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Kliff Kingsbury? He went 35-40 in six years at Texas Tech — which included two seasons with Patrick Mahomes as his starter — before being dismissed in November.9

Matt LaFleur? He was the playcaller for the NFL’s No. 25 offense and got shut out by the Ravens in October.

Bruce Arians? The 66-year-old has previously had health issues and retired a year ago, saying, “I wasn’t enjoying the game as much as I had in the past.”new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

While no one knows how any of these surprising hires will pan out, Harbaugh has proven to be as sure of a bet as there is in today’s coaching landscape. He ranks second with 10 playoff wins since 2008, behind Belichick. Harbaugh has led Baltimore to the playoffs seven times in the past 11 seasons and has had one losing record over that span. The other coaches who can boast that achievement are Belichick, Mike Tomlin and Pete Carroll.

Harbaugh is at a different level than these other candidates, which is why he presumably would have been at the top of the list for any team looking for a new head coach. He has a Super Bowl ring, 114 victories (including playoffs) and a reputation for getting the most out of his team despite injuries, the lack of game-changing playmakers and uneven quarterback play.

If a team had offered draft picks in a trade for Harbaugh, that would have been an intriguing proposition for Baltimore. But an argument can be made that Harbaugh has kept the Ravens in the playoff race at the end of the season nearly every year despite some disappointing drafts.

Greg Manusky is returning, but Redskins’ need for change remains

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Whether they were going to hire another coordinator or just on fact-finding missions in recent weeks — it certainly sends a strong signal one way when you’re talking to available coordinators — the bottom line remains the same: They have to find a way to improve.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Even if the Redskins wanted to replace Manusky, it was a tough sell to the best available candidates. Their head coach, Jay Gruden, is entering Year 6 with one playoff appearance, three years ago; they have only around $20 million in cap room; and they have questions at quarterback. A potential hire would have to have confidence that the organization has the resources to build what is needed.10
The Redskins also will try to find a way to retain defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. He was still under contract with the San Francisco 49ers through this season, but that deal has expired. The Redskins want to keep him and are confident he’ll stick around. He has family in Florida, and the Redskins allow him the flexibility to go there often. Tomsula just has to decide if he wants to continue. (For what it’s worth, assistant head coach/offensive line coach Bill Callahan remains under contract and, as of now, the Redskins expect him back too.)nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

While secondary coach Torrian Gray still might return, the Redskins clearly want more help with the back end. San Francisco just hired Joe Woods as a passing-game coordinator; the Redskins were interested in him, as well. They could create a similar role for someone else. That way, Manusky can focus on the base defense and the run game and someone else can concentrate on helping improve on third down. That was, by far, the biggest issue with the Redskins’ defense this past season. They ranked 29th in third-down defense; in the last nine games, they ranked last, allowing a staggering 49.1 percent of third downs to be converted.

Of course, when players read or hear about other possible coordinators being interviewed, you have to wonder about the impact. Does this lessen Manusky’s voice or respect? Realistically, every coach at Redskins Park has to view their situation as a one-year deal.

There certainly seemed to be a difference in how the front seven defensive players viewed the situation last season as opposed to the secondary. It’s doubtful the front will stop heeding Manusky’s words, even after these past couple of weeks, and it’s equally doubtful the secondary is ready to embrace anything. In other words, not much has changed. That’s why the Redskins still need to bolster the coaching staff, while also adding a few more talented players.

Austin Hooper, now a Pro Bowler, could thrive in Dirk Koetter’s offense

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When asked this week what he expects from a Dirk Koetter-run offense, the Atlanta Falcons’ Pro Bowl tight end didn’t come back with some elaborate response.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

“I don’t know much,” Hooper said. “I just know he was the coach at Tampa and he’s now our offensive coordinator. I know he was in Atlanta prior to getting the head-coaching job [in Tampa]. So, we’ll see.

“I’ll let you know when I know what we’re running.”9

True, it’s not exactly clear how the typically pass-oriented Koetter will adjust during his second stint as a coordinator in Atlanta, with coach Dan Quinn wanting to maintain the same outside/inside zone principles the Falcons established under Kyle Shanahan and attempted to sustain under Steve Sarkisian. But no matter how the sharp-minded Koetter plans to call it, there’s a good chance Hooper will continue to thrive as a pass-catcher in what is likely to be a tight end-friendly offense. Under Koetter’s watch, tight ends such as Cameron Brate (80 targets for Tampa Bay in 2016) and Marcedes Lewis (81 targets for Jacksonville in 2011) have been used heavily.

Of course, no one is putting Hooper in the same conversation as Gonzalez. However, Hooper has the potential to be a reliable threat for years to come. He was named a Pro Bowl alternate and subsequently added to his first Pro Bowl roster this week after Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles pulled out.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

“It’s a huge honor that not a lot of people get to be a part of,” Hooper said. “Just looking forward to the opportunity. It just solidifies the hard work that I’ve put in has paid off in a big way. I’m very fortunate.”

Hooper, who just completed his third NFL season, is fresh off a career-best 71 catches for 660 yards and and four touchdowns. He was targeted 87 times, second most on the team behind Julio Jones’ 170 targets. Hooper credited his former position coach, Wade Harman, for elevating his game to a Pro Bowl level.

Solskjaer’s arrival at Man United has led to more goals by in-form forwards

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Manchester United are not just winning games, they are doing so by scoring freely; the team that netted just 11 times in seven games before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho as manager has scored 17 goals in the six played since then.

But while once shot-shy forwards have been praised — most often by their new boss — issues remain. Poor form saw Romelu Lukaku lose his place in the team; injuries mean Alexis Sanchez has played only 27 minutes of the five league games on Solskjaer’s watch; Jesse Lingard, who hit two in the Norwegian’s managerial debut at Cardiff, has not scored since.

Therefore, this is not a finely tuned machine, but rather one that is gradually cranking back into action, with some parts performing better than others. Across the board, though, confidence is up.nike cheap nfl jerseys

Marcus Rashford has become the main striker, vindicating Solskjaer’s faith by scoring in four of five league games having managed three in 14 and becoming deeply unhappy under Mourinho, when he wasn’t used in his favoured central role.10

Anthony Martial, meanwhile, has also started regularly and his mood is better than at the start of the season when he wanted to leave. His fellow Parisian Paul Pogba has scored four, set up four and been United’s best player since Solskjaer took charge, which bodes well for the upcoming Champions League last-16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain.

Andy Cole, who spent six years at the club and was a teammate of Solskjaer, still lives in Manchester, watches every game and considers himself a United fan. As a scorer of 121 goals while at Old Trafford, he is well qualified to evaluate the current crop of strikers.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“Romelu has got to find his mojo again,” Cole says of Lukaku. “He has come off the bench and scored two in two, but that mojo comes from confidence. I watched him this season under Jose and I could tell, as a former centre-forward myself, that he was low on confidence. The first thing which starts to go is your movement. Romelu wasn’t moving.

“You stop making the runs because you stop believing in yourself. I’ve been in that position and I’d watch him making hand gestures about where he wanted the ball to go, but psychologically you don’t really want the ball. It’s all about confidence and when his returns he’ll start scoring.”

Liverpool again show they will sacrifice style in favour of results on the road to the Premier League title

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In any title-winning season there are games that end up being almost forgotten: staging posts along the road that offer essential nourishment but nothing in the way of vivid scenery.

Should Liverpool see the job through in May, this laborious win over an excellently drilled Brighton side will only merit a few seconds of the highlight reel. It will not matter one bit, because these may prove to be their most important three points of the entire campaign.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Make no mistake, there were question marks over Jurgen Klopp’s side before this one; the smallest of signs that their narrow defeat at Manchester City had opened up wider wounds would have been seized upon. If that sounds harsh, it is just the way things work these days when you are in the throes of a title race with a margin for error that appears smaller than ever.

“From a maturity point of view, I would say it was the most mature of the season,” Klopp said of a slow-burning affair that was decided three minutes after half-time by a Mohamed Salah penalty. At full-time Klopp allowed himself an understated fist pump, and it was a reaction in character with the previous 90 minutes. There was not a lot to warm the blood — not even when Brighton, who had fulfilled one of Chris Hughton’s primary objectives by still being in the game with 10 minutes to go, sent the cavalry up at the end. But there was a coolness, a shared purpose, a diligence to Liverpool that has been the hallmark of their current campaign as much as the full-throttle approach that characterised the previous two.9

“We are not the Harlem Globetrotters,” Klopp said. “We have to deliver a result, and that’s difficult.” It was a revealing statement, because it reiterated that Liverpool are absolutely content to be mean and grim-faced when it suits them. Last season they won this fixture 5-1, blowing Brighton away either side of half-time. That never looked on the cards this time but nor, really, did any kind of mishap once they were ahead. With six minutes to play Roberto Firmino could be seen tracking back 30 yards to dispossess Anthony Knockaert, thwarting a promising counter for the hosts. in the time that remained there were big defensive interventions from Fabinho and Virgil van Dijk, and those were the moments that satisfied Klopp as much as any.c

“It was obviously a big challenge for everyone to stay calm and concentrated because each little situation can be a massive threat on the counter or whatever,” he continued. “And not to make any fouls because Brighton are unbelievably strong on set pieces. That level of concentration is difficult to keep, but they did it.“nike cheap nfl jerseys

It was a particular relief that Fabinho, whose increasing prominence in midfield had been a big factor in Liverpool’s recent form, stayed firm at the back. He faced a gnarled, wily customer in Glenn Murray, and when he let the striker go in the 15th minute, watching in relief as the resulting header looped over, their shortage of centre-back bodies seemed at risk of being laid bare. Fabinho took an arm in the face from Murray shortly afterwards but would respond later with one of his own; after that rocky start he looked well attuned to the physical battle and excelled just before the hour, too, with a vital block from Pascal Gross’s goal-bound shot.

Steven Wright agrees with Red Sox on one-year contract

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Knuckleballer Steven Wright and the Boston Red Sox agreed to a one-year contract for $1,375,000, a raise of $275,000, in a deal that avoided arbitration.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

An All-Star in 2016, the 34-year-old right-hander started the 2018 season late following left knee surgery and a 15-game domestic violence suspension. He made four starts and six relief appearances, went back on the disabled list in late June because of the knee, then returned in September.11

Wright went 3-1 with a 2.68 ERA in four starts and 16 relief appearances. He was removed from the Division Series roster following the opener against the New York Yankees, a day after re-injuring his left knee during a workout, and had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Nov. 13.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Nine Boston players remained set to swap proposed arbitration salaries on Friday, including AL MVP Mookie Betts. The outfielder had a $10.5 million salary last year after winning a hearing against the Red Sox.

Also eligible for arbitration are outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., shortstop Xander Bogaerts, right-handers Matt Barnes and Brandon Workman, left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, utiliyman Brock Holt, catcher Sandy Leon and catcher/first baseman Blake Swihart.

Nolan Arenado doesn’t reach deal with Rockies, might still avoid arbitration

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The Colorado Rockies and third baseman Nolan Arenado did not reach a settlement on a one-year deal for the 2019 season on Friday, but league sources told ESPN there is a strong sense that the two sides will reach an agreement before an arbitration hearing.

Arenado, a four-time All-Star who is seen as the gem of the 2019-20 free-agent class, requested $30 million. The Rockies, meanwhile, offered $24 million. Sources told ESPN that it’s likely that they will settle in the $27 million range.

At whichever amount he does settle, it will be a single-season arbitration record, breaking the mark of $23 million set by Josh Donaldson with the Toronto Blue Jays last year.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Arenado, a slick-fielding, slugging 27-year-old, is coming off a season in which he hit .297 and led the National League with 38 home runs and was second with 110 RBIs and a .935 OPS.9

Meanwhile, his teammate with the Rockies, shortstop Trevor Story, was one of the many players to reach a post-deadline settlement. After originally appearing like he was headed to an arbitration hearing, Story, who made $555,000 last season, settled on a $5 million salary for 2019.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

The 26-year-old Story hit .291 with 37 home runs, 108 RBIs and 27 stolen bases for the Rockies last season.

Philadelphia Phillies ace Aaron Nola, New York Yankees pitcher Luis Severino and Houston Astros teammates Gerrit Cole and Carlos Correa were among those who did not reach settlements on one-year deals for the 2019 season and are expected to head to arbitration hearings to determine their salaries.

Nola (17-6, 2.37 ERA, 224 strikeouts) and Severino (19-8, 3.39 ERA, 220 strikeouts) are both first-time-eligible starting pitchers, a market that has been notoriously difficult for players.

While first-time-eligible closers regularly exceed $6 million salaries, the only starting pitcher to do so was Dallas Keuchel coming off his Cy Young season with the Houston Astros in 2015.

Also not reaching deals Friday are Trevor Bauer, T.J. McFarland, Kyle Barraclough, Ryan Tepera, Tommy Pham, Alex Wood, Michael Fulmer, Chris Devenski and Michael Taylor.

The non-settlements capped a wild morning in which more than 100 eligible players negotiated their contracts.

Ben Simmons calls 76ers ‘too soft’ after loss to Hawks; Jimmy Butler disagrees

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In November, Simmons also used “soft” to describe his team — and Embiid agreed — after a 25-point loss to the Brooklyn Nets, though that was before the Sixers completed a major trade to acquire swingman Jimmy Butler from the Minnesota Timberwolves.cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

Butler would not go as far as Simmons did Friday night and took issue with his teammate’s choice of words.

“I don’t like the word ‘soft,'” Butler said, and added a whistle. “I just don’t think that we did what we were supposed to do. I’m not gonna say that anybody’s soft. I just think that we got beat in every aspect of the game. They came out from the jump and did what they wanted to do, and they did that for 48 straight minutes.”

“I hope we’re still together,” Butler said. “Nobody pointing fingers at anybody.”10

Simmons, who had 23 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds, wasn’t naming names, but said he wanted to see more physicality from the entire team.cheap nfl jerseys from china nike

“I just don’t think we’re physical enough. I think defensively, we’re not taking it personal enough when guys score on us. It should be a pride thing when somebody scores; you should be frustrated every time,” he said.

“I think that comes with age — we have a lot of young guys — but at the same time, I think we have to expect more from each other to get better and get to that next level. ‘Cause I know once playoff time comes, it’s another level.”

Asked whether he had spoken with his teammates about the issue, Simmons said: “We know. We know we gotta be more physical.

“We have to take it as a challenge. You don’t wanna come out on the floor and have guys go at you every game. You wanna make that a pride thing. You wanna come out and get stops and lock down your man. And that’s everybody, including me.”

The November trade of Butler to join fellow stars Simmons and Embiid hasn’t gone as smoothly as the Sixers had hoped. Embiid at times has complained about his role in Philly’s offense, and Butler recently challenged coach Brett

Kyrie Irving says desire to win was root of frustration after loss to Magic

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“I never want to come from a place where I don’t want to sound like, or make it feel like, I don’t want to win a championship. Sometimes I may come off and say things, never to question my teammates in public like that ever again; I just want to win so bad,” Irving said on Monday at the Celtics’ shootaround.

After Boston’s loss Saturday, Irving said his team’s lack of experience was a factor in Boston falling short of preseason expectations.

The Celtics (25-17) are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference entering Monday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets. They will play Monday without Irving (quad injury) and Marcus Smart (illness).cheap nfl jerseys from china nike

Many considered Boston the favorite to win the Eastern Conference after LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Irving on Saturday suggested his team — which features several key contributors who lack championship experience — was feeling the burden of expectations this season.9

“It came from a place where I asked for a trade and I’m coming here and I believe in this organization and I want these young guys to be successful,” Irving, who won a title with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, said on Monday of his postgame critique. “In order to that, we all got to be on the same page and have that mindset that, a championship or nothing. And sometimes that can get the best of me at times.”

With Irving and Gordon Hayward sidelined with injuries, Boston reached the Eastern Conference finals last season. Younger Celtics such as Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Smart played key roles in the team’s run last season.

Boston coach Brad Stevens agreed that the increased expectations may be affecting the group. Although he noted that, internally, last year’s team expected to compete for a conference title despite the injuries to Irving and Hayward.

“It takes a lot of teams a long time to get there, some teams never get there,” Stevens said. “We’ll see if this team does from a [consistency] basis. But we’ve shown that we have a chance, so that’s good.”

Irving said it’s the responsibility of the entire organization to help the younger players deal with the burden of title expectations.cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

“But I’m leading this thing,” said Irving, who is likely to opt out of the final year of his contract in 2019-20 and become a free agent this summer. “I’m going to take most of it.”