Tagged in: campaign

Jason Garrett expected to return as New York Giants’ offensive coordinator

New York Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett is expected to return after a shaky campaign in which the team concluded 31st in total offense and points scored, a source told ESPN.

Although Garrett will stay, there will be some variations to the Giants’ offensive staff, among them the possibility of internal alterations when it comes to the responsibilities of those currently on staff. Increased responsibility for quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski, wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert and tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens is possible.

In addition, the Giants are searching for a new offensive line coach, with assistant line coach Ben Wilkerson and former Houston Texans line coach Mike Devlin among those being interviewed. Tolbert is also reportedly in the running to be the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive coordinator.

This was the anticipated outcome with Garrett despite the Giants’ offensive struggles, especially after the coaching carousel had spun for weeks and there was no word on his future. The belief is that some stability for quarterback Daniel Jones and the offense could be valuable. Jones has already had two offensive coordinators and systems in his first two NFL seasons.

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“As far as the potential of Jason leaving, of course it makes you a little antsy,” general manager Dave Gettleman said after the season. “Just imagine, anybody, any of you guys, having your fourth editor in four years. It’s the same thing. It’s no different. We’ll adjust and adapt and do what we have to do, and obviously anything we do moving forward, Daniel is a big part of it. We’re certainly conscious of that piece, to answer your question.”

Garrett, 54, came to New York after nine seasons as the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach.

But it was at the request of ownership that first-year coach Joe Judge looked at the former Giants backup quarterback to be his coordinator.

Despite Judge signing off on it, the marriage seemed arranged and wasn’t perfect in Year 1. It became obvious that Garrett might not be the perfect match with Judge when offensive line coach Marc Colombo was fired midseason. Colombo and Garrett had spent years together in Dallas. Colombo wasn’t happy that Judge was bringing in veteran offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo as a consultant, and the situation deteriorated from there.

DeGuglielmo’s contract has since expired, and he is not expected to return, according to multiple sources.

Garrett sidestepped a question late in the season about whether he would return for a second year with the Giants.

“I’m just excited about the opportunity we have this week,” he said before the season finale against the Cowboys. “Really, I’ve just tried to stay in the moment in any position I’ve had as a player or coach in the NFL. That’s typically when you play your best and coach your best. That’s really what I’m focused on.”

Before his nine-season stint as the Cowboys’ head coach, Garrett was Dallas’ offensive coordinator. But he hadn’t called plays since 2012. The Giants’ offense also took a serious hit when star running back Saquon Barkley tore his knee in Week 2. Barkley, along with Garrett now, also is expected back for next season.

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Washington LB Thomas Davis Sr. says he’ll retire after 2020 season

Washington Football Team linebacker Thomas Davis Sr. will retire at the end of this campaign, he said in an Instagram post.

Washington (6-9) can extend Davis’ final season by defeating the Philadelphia Eagles to win the NFC East on Sunday.

Davis, 37, has played 16 years in the NFL — the first 14 with Carolina and then the past two with the Los Angeles Chargers and Washington. Davis has served mostly in a backup role with Washington this season. He has played in seven games and received 132 snaps from scrimmage, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Washington coach Ron Rivera signed him because of Davis’ leadership and his familiarity with what Rivera wanted from his players.

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Rivera trusted Davis because of how he played for him in Carolina, where he made the Pro Bowl three consecutive seasons, from 2015 to 2017. He was a first team All-Pro performer in 2015, the year Carolina reached the Super Bowl. Davis signed a two-year deal with the Chargers in 2019 but was released last offseason.

Davis also endured three torn ACLs.

As a reminder of how he endured, Davis posted pictures of cleats on Instagram that sum up his career. One cleat has written on it “3 ACL Tears. 3 ACL Recoveries.” It also shows how many Pro Bowls he earned. On the other cleat, it reflects him winning the 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

Carolina drafted Davis with the 14th overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft; he had played linebacker and free safety at Georgia. He was considered a top safety prospect before that draft, but the Panthers moved him to linebacker.

His speed and athleticism helped him have success in the NFL. In 199 games, Davis recorded 1,151 tackles, 29 sacks, 18 forced fumbles and 13 interceptions.

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Royals announce Alex Gordon’s retirement after 14 years

Alex Gordon, who hit one of the biggest home runs in Royals history and gained seven Gold Gloves in left field, announced his retirement on Thursday.

The Royals stated Gordon will play out the final four matches of the season, making Sunday his last game in the major leagues.

Gordon, who was the second overall pick in the 2005 draft, played his entire 14-year career (2007-20) with the Royals. He is one of three Royals position players to play at least 14 campaigns in Kansas City, joining George Brett (21 seasons) and Frank White (18).

Both of those players have had their number retired by the team. Gordon is the Royals’ all-time leader in leadoff home runs (14) and hit-by-pitches (121). He is also in the top 10 for multiple franchise career statistics. That contains home runs (190, 4th), doubles (357, 5th), extra-base hits (573, 5th), hits (1,641, 6th) and RBIs (749, 6th).

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After making his debut as a third baseman, Gordon was sent to Triple-A following a slow start and moved to left field. Gordon thrived in this new position, winning seven Gold Glove awards.

Gordon’s biggest moment came in the 2015 World Series. With the Royals trailing 3-2 in Game 1, Gordon stepped to the plate with one out and crushed a home run to center field off Mets closer Jeurys Familia.

The Royals went on to win in 14 innings and took the championship in five games.

Gordon re-signed with the Royals on a $4 million, one-year contract after his $72 million, four-year deal expired following the 2019 season.

Born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 draft by the Royals and has since become one of the most popular players in the franchise’s half-century existence.

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Giolito pitches 1st no-hitter of year, White Sox top Pirates

Lucas Giolito pitched the first no-hitter of the pandemic-delayed major league campaign, striking out 13 and permitting just one runner in leading the Chicago White Sox over the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0 Tuesday night.

With the seats at Guaranteed Rate Field empty, the hollers of his teammates echoed around the ballpark after right fielder Adam Engel extended to catch Erik Gonzalez’s slicing drive toward the line for the final out.

“I’ve been working for this type of game for a while now and it’s really cool that we got it done,” Giolito stated.

An All-Star last year, the 26-year-old Giolito (3-2) matched his career high for strikeouts set in his previous start versus Detroit.

Only a four-pitch walk to Gonzalez leading off the fourth inning got in Giolito’s way of perfection. The right-hander threw 101 pitches and made quick work of the Pirates — Pittsburgh came into the game batting just .229 this season and has the worst record in the majors. The White Sox rushed toward the mound after the final out to celebrate Giolito’s first career no-hitter.

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Giolito was fully aware in the later innings what was at stake.

“After the seventh, six more outs, looking at who I was facing, became very, very, very possible,” he said, “and then we were able to get it done.”

Giolito said his approach never wavered.

“Just staying with the same, like, mental routine for every single pitch. One pitch at a time. Full focus, full execution, straight through the target,” he said.

Giolito pitched the 19th no-hitter in White Sox history and first since Philip Humber threw a perfect game at Seattle in 2012. This was the seventh time the Pirates have been held hitless, previously by Washington’s Max Scherzer in 2015.

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson made a nifty play on a grounder by Bryan Reynolds up the middle in the seventh to preserve the gem. In the ninth, Gonzalez hit a liner that Engel, a fleet center fielder for most of his career, caught on the run at knee-high height.

“Yeah man, I think I got it,” Gonzalez said. “With that at-bat, I was a little bit mad because I don’t want to be part of history.” Giolito improved to 30-28 in his big league career. He made his debut with Washington in 2016, then was traded after that season to the White Sox in a package for outfielder Adam Eaton.

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Browns sign ex-super bowl MVP Malcolm Smith

The Browns have found some linebacker depth to help ease the loss of Mack Wilson, who might still make it back this campaign.

They signed eight-year pro Malcolm Smith, a former Super Bowl MVP of Seahawks. In a 43-8 triumph over the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII after the 2013 season, Smith totaled 10 tackles, one fumble recovery, and an interception for a touchdown.

Not a bad haul for a seventh-round pick out of Southern California in 2011. Smith has appeared in 104 regular season games with the Seahawks (2011-14) Raiders (2015-16), 49ers (2017-18), Jaguars (2019) and Cowboys (2019).

He has 295 career tackles, 10 forced fumbles, six sacks, four interceptions and three fumble recoveries.  To make room for him on the roster, the Browns waived center Casey Dunn, who left Saturday’s practice with a foot injury.

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The Browns are still expecting that Wilson, who suffered a hyperextended knee Tuesday, can come back in a reasonable timeframe this season.

A source told cleveland.com that Mack ‘definitely has an opportunity to return this season and that he might not need season-ending knee surgery.

Wilson ‘definitely has a chance’ to return this season; Kevin Johnson could be back fairly early

Wilson passed the COVID-19 testing protocol and practiced with the team Sunday afternoon. It was switched to a non-padded practice when it was first canceled and then postponed.

Guys like Mack Wilson, Tae Davis, and Willie Harvey, who were day three draft picks or undrafted players, can learn some tips and tricks about going from being a barely making the roster type of guy to a long eight-year career.

Mostly a career backup, he won’t be a great starter for the team. The Browns linebacker room is still likely the biggest question mark on the roster, and will probably be addressed yet again next offseason.

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Giants lose third opt-out player with CB Sam Beal’s decision

The New York Giants took another hit at a position of concern when cornerback Sam Beal decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL campaign.

According to the NFL’s daily transaction wire, linebacker Josiah Tauaefa was also removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list one day after being placed on it.

Beal becomes the third Giants player to take the opt-out route, joining offensive tackle Nate Solder and wide receiver/kick returner D’Mari Scott. Under the agreement reached between the NFL and NFLPA, players had the option of opting out of the upcoming season without penalty by 4 p.m. on Thursday.

The opt out is irreversible. The Giants already had question marks at cornerback prior to Beal’s decision. Cornerback DeAndre Baker is on the commissioner’s exempt list and faces charges of armed robbery and aggravated assault with a firearm. He is unlikely to play another snap with the Giants.

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Baker was a first-round pick last year. Beal was a third-round supplemental pick out of Central Michigan in 2018 who missed his entire rookie season with a shoulder injury. He played in six games with three starts last season and finished with 25 tackles and one pass defended.

Beal missed the campaign finale with a shoulder injury.

Beal was a third-round supplemental pick out of Central Michigan in 2018 who missed his entire rookie season with a shoulder injury. He played in six games with three starts last season and finished with 25 tackles and one pass defended. He missed the campaign finale with a shoulder injury.

Beal, 23, was expected to be in the mix, along with second-year cornerback Corey Ballentine, for a starting spot opposite offseason acquisition James Bradberry. Rookie fourth-round pick Darnay Holmes also appears to be in serious contention for the job.

Beal’s absence now leaves the Giants with an obvious void and a lack of depth. A source indicated recently — even before Beal’s opt out — that the team was searching for cornerback help on the waiver wire or via free agency.

Among the alternatives on the open market are veterans Logan Ryan, Aqib Talib and Dre Kirkpatrick. New coach Joe Judge has firsthand experience with Ryan and Talib from their time in New England. Ryan appears to be the most likely option, especially since the Giants will gain $13.55 million in salary-cap space from Solder’s decision to sit out the 2020 NFL season.

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Celtics will go as far as Brown and Tatum carry them

A few weeks before the NBA postponed its season in March, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum dropped 41 points at Staples Center in a last-possession loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

After the game, LeBron James awarded the NBA’s ultimate seal of approval when he posted on Instagram a shot of himself and Tatum, with each looking intently at the court as they waited to check in to the nationally televised matchup.

“That boi to the left of me is an ABSOLUTE PROBLEM!! Keep going,” James wrote as the caption, adding the hashtag, “#YoungKing.”

Although any narrow loss is dispiriting, a further signal that Tatum is poised to be one of the preeminent stars of his generation is happy compensation. Nearly six months later, the Absolute Problem leads a team that is once again in the Eastern Conference mix, as the Celtics have continued their forward momentum since breaking ground on their rebuild in 2013.

They’re on their third All-Star point guard in that span, steady veteran Kemba Walker, but they have a largely young roster without the age and experience of Milwaukee or Toronto.

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The Celtics are still developing, still refining their roles in an evolving offense and, in the occasions of their pair of dynamic wings, Tatum and Jaylen Brown, still learning which tools to leave in the toolbox.

They’re rounding into form, and Tatum might find himself on an All-NBA team as soon as this summer.

The extent to which the team can accelerate that growth will likely determine the Celtics’ postseason fortunes.

Now 2-2 in the Orlando, Florida, bubble after a 149-115 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, the Celtics have established over the course of the season that they do a lot of things well — not surprising for a team that ranks in the top five in offense and defense.

As with any squad, there are natural tension points. This is a good thing because team-building and improvement — both individual and team — are accomplished in large part by problem-solving.

The Celtics’ uneven performance during the first week of the bubble is of limited concern. Walker continues to work his way back from a knee injury — he sat out Wednesday night’s back-to-back — and Stevens emphasized after Tuesday’s loss that the careful management of Walker’s minutes in Orlando is a reflection more of caution than concern.

The front office’s objective in accumulating a trove of draft picks over the course of their rebuild was always simple, even if their procurement was complex: Turn those assets into championship-caliber stars. With Tatum and Brown, the Celtics are making good on that goal. The summer of 2020 will be the biggest test yet.

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Grizzlies rule Jaren Jackson Jr. out for season due to meniscus tear

The Memphis Grizzlies suffered a big blow on Tuesday, as the team revealed that second-year forward Jaren Jackson Jr. will miss the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA campaign after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee. The injury occurred versus the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday. 

In Monday’s game versus the Pelicans, Jaren Jackson Jr. experienced an unstable landing after making contact with an opposing player while contesting a shot. Subsequent medical evaluation revealed a meniscus tear in his left knee, which will cause him to miss the remainder of the season. He is expected to make a full recovery. 

This is not the first time that the left knee has been an issue for Jackson. Jackson sprained the knee in February, and he missed nine matches leading up to the suspension of the season in mid-March because of the injury.

Aside from the injury issues though, Jackson Jr. had a stellar sophomore season. He averaged 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game for the Grizzlies, and he scored 76 points over the three games that he played in Orlando. 

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The injury comes at a tough time for the Grizzlies, who are locked in a tight battle for postseason positioning in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies entered the seeding slate in Orlando with a slim lead for the eighth spot in the West, but they lost all three of their first seeding games, which made the contest even tighter.

If the ninth seed in the conference is within four games of the eighth seed when the seeding slate is complete, a play-in series will be triggered. In the series, the eighth-seeded team will only need to win once in order to claim the final playoff spot in the West, while the ninth-seeded team would need to win twice in a row before the eighth-seeded team wins once. 

The Trail Blazers, Spurs, Pelicans, Kings, and Suns are all currently within four games of the Grizzlies. Whichever team ultimately claims the final spot in the West will face off versus the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, as the Lakers secured the top overall seed in the conference on Monday night. 

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Chiefs RB Damien Williams will opt out of 2020 season

The Kansas City Chiefs have stated that RB Damien Williams has informed the team of his decision to opt-out of the 2020 campaign.

Per the NFL’s opt-out agreement, Williams will receive an advance on his salary, commensurate with the high-risk or voluntary opt-out designation. He’ll receive no credited season for 2020. His contract will toll, or pause, and resume in 2021.

That means the Chiefs will have some instant salary-cap relief, but they’ll add that amount back to the 2021 salary cap. Williams, 28, joined the Chiefs as a free agent in March of 2018. He took a backseat to former Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt initially but would earn the starting role after Hunt’s dismissal from the team.

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In 2019, Williams was named starting running back by offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy ahead of training camp.

They’d bring in LeSean McCoy to split time with Williams in a committee approach to the backfield. Williams would separate himself late in the season, appearing in 11 matches, rushing for 498 yards and five touchdowns on 111 carries. In Super Bowl LIV, Williams scored the go-ahead touchdown and the touchdown that would put the game on ice for Kansas City.

The Chiefs are uniquely prepared for this opt-out with a deep running back room that added Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the draft and DeAndre Washington in free agency.

Still, this means that the most veteran running back on the Chiefs’ roster is Darrel Williams, who joined the team as an undrafted free agent in 2018. They’ll have to get the new players up to speed and ready in a short amount of time.

Williams scored six touchdowns in the Chiefs’ three postseason games.

Starting guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif also opted out of the 2020 season.

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Rendon homers in debut, Angels rout Mariners 10-2

Anthony Rendon hit a two-run homer and reached base three times in his Angels debut, and Albert Pujols added his 657th career homer in Los Angeles’ 10-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.

Rendon’s homer to left field in the eighth inning brought home Mike Trout and capped an encouraging home opener for the Angels, who got their second victory after losing three of four in Oakland to start the shortened campaign.

”Whenever you have a game like we just had where the offense is clicking, everyone says that hitting is contagious, and it really is,” Rendon said. ”Once you get that one guy going … it just had that tumbleweed effect tonight.”

The Angels’ new $245 million third baseman went 1 for 3 with two walks, two runs and an error. He sat out the Halos’ season-opening series with an oblique muscle injury, but was ready in Anaheim for his first match since leaving Washington for the West Coast.

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”It felt good to be out there and actually be a contributor for the team,” Rendon said. ”It felt good to get that first one out of the way.”

Max Stassi hit a three-run homer, Shohei Ohtani had a long RBI double and Justin Upton drove in two runs as the Halos won their home opener for only the second time in eight years.

The Angels scored 11 runs over four games at the Coliseum, but nearly matched that total in one night at the Big A.

”It’s kind of a tough way to start it on the road with all the day games in Oakland, so it’s nice to get into your own bed,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. ”In spite of no fans, our guys really played that game as though the place is packed, and I love that. It was nice to put up those runs tonight.”

Pujols’ solo homer to left in the fifth – his first since turning 40 last winter – pulled him within three of Willie Mays (660) for fifth place in baseball history.

Tim Lopes went deep for the Mariners, who lost three of four in Houston to start the season. Lopes went to high school 15 miles from Angel Stadium in Huntington Beach.

Justus Sheffield (0-1) didn’t get an out in the fourth inning of his eighth career start for the Mariners, yielding four hits and four runs.

”Certainly the common theme for us here with our starters is running into that one inning where the pitch count’s getting up there, and tonight was no different,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. ”He was able to get through the third inning and trying to get back out there for the fourth, and he just wasn’t able to get much going there, either. Rough night there.”

Patrick Sandoval pitched four-hit ball into the fifth for the Angels, but the Orange County native couldn’t stick around long enough for his first career triumph. Ryan Buchter (1-0) worked a perfect sixth inning to earn his first win with Los Angeles.

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