Tagged in: coach

Packers host Rams with NFC championship game berth at stake

No NFL team scored more points during the regular season than the Green Bay Packers. Nobody has played better defense than the Los Angeles Rams.

That sets up an intriguing showdown of strength vs. strength when MVP favorite Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (13-3) host All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the Rams (11-6) in an NFC divisional playoff match Saturday.

“This is what you love,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “These are the type of matchups and opportunities that as a competitor, you can’t wait for.”

Both of these units are at the top of their game.

The Packers have won six consecutive games and have been held below 22 points just once all campaign. Los Angeles got to this point by sacking Russell Wilson five times in a 30-20 triumph at Seattle last week.

“They went to Seattle, played a familiar opponent and played really, really well, and they’re coming in with the confidence that they should have,” Rodgers said. “And we’re coming in with confidence as well, the season that we’ve had and what we believe we’re capable of.”

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Rodgers has set franchise single-season records for touchdown passes (48) and completion percentage (.707) this year while throwing just five interceptions for an offense scoring 31.8 points per game. Donald calls Rodgers a “great quarterback that’s playing lights out this year.”

Donald leads a defense that permitted the fewest points and yards of any team during the regular season.

“At any time, at any quarter of the game, a different guy could make a big-time play for us,” Donald said. “It’s not just one or two guys. When you’ve got a group of guys – all 11 out there – who are pretty much playmakers who can make that game-changing play at any time, you’ve got a great group.”

This will be the first time the NFL’s top-ranked scoring offense and scoring defense have faced off in the postseason since the New England-Atlanta Super Bowl on Feb. 5, 2017. The Patriots had the top-ranked defense and the Falcons had the No. 1 offense that year.

This also will be the Rams’ first playoff game at Lambeau Field. These two franchises have met in the postseason just twice before, with the Packers winning 28-7 in Milwaukee on Dec. 23, 1967, and the Rams winning 45-17 in St. Louis on Jan. 20, 2002.

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Dallas Cowboys fire defensive coordinator Mike Nolan

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will not be returning to the Dallas Cowboys for the 2021 campaign, the team revealed Friday.

Last season, the Cowboys (6-10) allowed the most points in franchise history (473) and concluded 31st in the league in run defense. In the season-ending loss to the New York Giants, they allowed 23 points, including 20 in the first half, to an offense that had not scored more than 19 in five weeks.

The unit played better down the stretch with 12 takeaways in the final four matches after getting just 11 in the first 12 games, but that was aided in part by facing backup quarterbacks in Cincinnati, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

“I am appreciative of my relationships with both Mike and Jim, and I am grateful for the contributions that both of them made to our team under difficult circumstances in 2020,” coach Mike McCarthy said in a statement. “These are never easy decisions to make, and we wish them, and their families, the very best in the future.”

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Speaking on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas at different times during the season, owner and general manager Jerry Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones lamented the jarring scheme switch — from a 4-3 look to a hybrid look — made by the Cowboys during an offseason in which the coaches could only meet virtually with the players.

Unable to get hands-on experience until the start of an abbreviated training camp, the Cowboys defense struggled badly. They finished 23rd in yards per game (31st vs. the run, 11th vs. the pass) and 28th in points (29.6). The Cowboys allowed 69 plays of 20 yards or more, including 51 passes and 18 runs.

In the three other times the Cowboys allowed a franchise record in points, the organization either made a scheme modification or a coaching change.

After allowing 436 points in 2010, Jason Garrett was named the full-time head coach after taking over for Wade Phillips at midseason, and he hired Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator. In 2013, they allowed 432 points in Monte Kiffin’s first year as coordinator, and he was replaced by Rod Marinelli. After giving up 405 points in 2004, Bill Parcells switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme but kept Mike Zimmer as his coordinator.

McCarthy and Nolan have a long background together.

In 2005, Nolan hired McCarthy as his offensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers, which helped propel him to earning the Green Bay Packers head job a year later.

But the defense could not find its footing. While they suffered some injuries to Leighton Vander Esch (collarbone, ankle), Trysten Hill (knee) and Trevon Diggs (foot), they were not hit as hard as the Cowboys’ offense.

Their bigger free-agent pickups were either hurt in training camp (defensive lineman Gerald McCoy), did not make the team out of camp (safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix), were traded (Everson Griffen) or were released because of poor play in the middle of the season (defensive tackle Dontari Poe, cornerback Daryl Worley).

If the Cowboys look in-house for a substitute, George Edwards spent the year as a senior defensive assistant. He was Zimmer’s defensive coordinator from 2014 to 2019.

But the first question that must be answered is what type of scheme the Cowboys want to use. In Green Bay, McCarthy employed a 3-4 scheme for most of his tenure. If he wants to continue with the hybrid look Nolan attempted to use, adding players to fit the scheme will be an offseason priority. In all but three years of his time in Green Bay, the Packers used a 3-4 scheme.

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Damon Harrison says it’s ‘time to move on’ from Seattle Seahawks

Veteran defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison tweeted Sunday that it’s “time to move on” from the Seahawks.

NFL Network reported that Harrison asked for his release after learning he would be inactive for Sunday’s game versus the Los Angeles Rams. The Seahawks plan to grant Harrison his release, the report stated.

A Twitter user replied to the NFL Network tweet and wrote “don’t leave,” tagging Harrison, who replied with his reasoning for wanting out.

“Didn’t want to but it’s time to,” Harrison tweeted. “I came here to help and I’ve done that and now it’s time to move on. I came back this year to play and that’s all I want. Team is back healthy and playing really well.. [It’s] my time to head out. Still all love and respect for the hawks!”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll stated he would discuss the situation with Harrison on Monday.

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“We’re going to talk tomorrow,” Carroll said after the Seahawks clinched the NFC West title with a victory against the Rams. “I just know that he was disappointed that he wasn’t active for this game. That’s what we’re talking about.”

The Seahawks signed Harrison, 32, to their practice squad Oct. 7 after he decided to play in 2020.

He didn’t make his Seattle debut until Nov. 15 versus the Rams. The 6-foot-5, 350-pound player had to work himself back into football shape and then had to wait for an opening in Seattle’s defensive tackle rotation, which he got when Bryan Mone injured his ankle.

Harrison, a first-team All-Pro in 2016, was credited with nine tackles and a forced fumble in six games with Seattle. He averaged 23 defensive snaps per game, according to Pro Football Reference, while playing behind starters Jarran Reed and Poona Ford.

The Seahawks activated Mone off injured reserve Saturday. Harrison wished Mone and several other teammates good luck against the Rams on Twitter. The Seahawks would be NFC West champions for the first time since 2016 with a victory.

Harrison’s contract includes a $1.05 million base salary, according to Roster Management System. That amount prorated over six games equals roughly $370,588.

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Draymond Green, James Wiseman absent from Golden State Warriors practice

Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green and No. 2 overall draft pick James Wiseman missed Day 1 of the team’s training camp Monday.

Coach Steve Kerr didn’t detail why the two were absent but did say they were the only two players not to take the court. Kerr noted that he couldn’t elaborate on what Green and Wiseman are able to do at the moment.

“I will not comment on that any further,” Kerr said. “I’m not allowed to comment on that. You can make your own deductions. I know it’s really tricky.”

Last week, general manager Bob Myers acknowledged without providing names that two players had tested positive for COVID-19 and said they would be out at least 10 days before being tested again. Kerr noted the awkwardness for both coaches and media in trying to give an update on the health of his team without revealing who tested positive.

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“I’m just trying to figure out which one of you has put all the pieces together and figured out what’s happening here,” Kerr said. “I think you guys all got it.”

It’s the same awkward dance that is going on throughout the NBA this season concerning to injury updates and players’ privacy. Kerr knows that the uncertain nature of the virus makes it something that will hover over the league all season.

“This is the nature of this season, so everybody’s going to be dealing with it,” he said. “Every team in the league. I think the way we’re looking at it is we’re lucky to be playing basketball. We’re grateful for the opportunity to compete and play, and any difficulties to the season pale in comparison to what’s happening out in the world, so there won’t be much talk from our end about COVID and the protocols and what it means to our team … What matters is the protocols and being healthy and safe and keeping everybody that way.”

Kerr isn’t worried about Green’s readiness to play as soon as he is medically cleared to hit the floor.

“When he’s ready to go, he’ll be out there,” Kerr said. “I’m not worried about Draymond. He’s got a better feel for what we do than anybody, so he’ll be fine once he gets rolling with practice.”

As for Wiseman, getting him prepared for the condensed season will be trickier. Kerr knows that it will be hard to get the second overall pick in last month’s draft ready after his training camp absence, but he isn’t going to complain about the hand the Warriors have been dealt. “It’s unfortunate, but that’s just the way it goes,” Kerr said.

“Our coaching staff has been showing him tape the last few days, and he’s still getting some homework in between now and the time he’ll be able to play again. So it’s not ideal, but nothing’s ideal for anybody in 2020.”

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Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson given no assurance he’ll finish season

Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson said he has received no assurances from the front office that he will keep his job for the remainder of the season, but is “not going there mentally” when it comes to his job security.

“Listen, I’ve been around this league a long time, 25 years I believe as a player and a coach, and we’re always based on and evaluated on our performance,” he stated.

“Right now, that’s obviously not my concern as far as that decision goes. That’s out of my hands. But what’s in my hands and in my control is getting the team prepared and ready for Green Bay this weekend.”

The Eagles are in the midst of a three-game slide that has dropped them to 3-7-1 on the season and into third place in the historically bad NFC East.

Quarterback Carson Wentz has regressed dramatically in Year 5 and the offense has tied a season low in points with 17 in each of the last three weeks.

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Pederson said that temporarily giving up playcalling is “on the table” — the first time he’s been open to the idea publicly — but suggested a modification there wasn’t imminent.

With facilities across the NFL closed Tuesday, Pederson did his day-after news conference from his home office.

In the background was a towering bookshelf lined with awards and memorabilia.

Dominating the scene just off to his right was a replica of the Lombardi Trophy — a not-so-subtle reminder of the unparalleled heights he helped lift this franchise to a short time ago.

It was with that backdrop that Pederson faced questions regarding his job security for the first time.

He has guided the Eagles to the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, starting with their Super Bowl run in 2017, but the offense has grown stagnant over the last two years. That has not gone unnoticed by owner Jeffrey Lurie, who skipped their Week 11 game at the Cleveland Browns in part out of frustration, sources told ESPN.

With the team reeling, there are some on the inside who believe that Pederson needs to lead Philadelphia to a division title in 2020 to keep his job.

“Our relationship is good. We communicate a lot throughout the week,” Pederson said of Lurie. “We have our typical weekly meeting and cover a lot of ground.

“But that relationship is good. Listen, some of these questions might be for Mr. Lurie obviously, but my job is to prepare the team and get ready for Green Bay.”

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Buccaneers’ A.Q. Shipley May Have Career-Ending Neck Injury

Tampa Bay Buccaneers center A.Q. Shipley may have suffered a career-ending neck injury during his team’s game versus the Los Angeles Rams on Monday.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians provided the news on Sirius XM NFL Radio on Wednesday, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

“A.Q. Shipley appears to have had a career-ending injury,” Arians said. “And I feel bad because I love A.Q. He’s one of my favorite players of all time and was playing good for us. But I think it was a previous injury that might have just got aggravated in his neck.”

Arians told reporters postgame Monday that Shipley had suffered a stinger but would be OK.

The ex-Penn State lineman did not take part in Wednesday’s practice. Afterward, Arians statedthat the team would “see more on A.Q. [Thursday].” However, it appears Shipley’s prognosis has unfortunately taken a turn for the worse.

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While Williams will remain out for at least the next two weeks, the 49ers are hoping to get some reinforcements back from injured reserve soon.

The team opened the 21-day practice window for running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. on Tuesday, which means they could return as early as Sunday’s game versus the Los Angeles Rams.

Mostert and Wilson have been on injured reserve with high ankle sprains; Mostert’s happened in a Week 6 win versus the Rams, and Wilson’s came a week later against the New England Patriots.

Mostert has a team-best 303 rushing yards despite playing in just four games. Wilson has 163 yards rushing in six games.

The 49ers also signed safety Chris Edwards to the active roster on Tuesday. Edwards offers additional depth after the Niners placed strong safeties Jaquiski Tartt and Johnathan Cyprien on injured reserve in recent weeks.

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Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll gets multiyear contract extension

The Seahawks have awarded a multiyear contract extension to head coach Pete Carroll, all but ensuring he will coach nowhere else and conclude his decorated career in Seattle, league sources told ESPN.

The Seahawks made the move quietly, long before their game Sunday in Buffalo versus the Bills, according to league sources.

Although no one in the Seahawks organization has confirmed the extension, one source told ESPN that the belief is the deal will tie Carroll to Seattle through the 2025 season, when he will be 74 years old.

Carroll, who turned 69 in September, is the NFL’s oldest head coach, but few can match his energy and positivity. The Seahawks are right in the thick of the NFC West title hunt again this campaign, entering Sunday with a 6-1 record, and quarterback Russell Wilson playing at an MVP level.

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Now in his 11th season with the Seahawks, Carroll is the winningest head coach in franchise history with a record of 106-60-1.

Carroll has led Seattle to eight playoff appearances, four NFC West titles, two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl victory.

When the Seahawks selected Carroll, the move drew some questions given his resume at the NFL level. In stints with the New York Jets and New England Patriots, his teams didn’t always leave a strong impression.

He earned his first opportunity with the New York Jets in 1994 and the team started on a bright note with a 6-5 record, but lost its next five matches. He was fired after one season, later serving as the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers.

New England hired him in 1997, replacing iconic coach Bill Parcels. The Patriots went 10-6 in his first season and won a playoff game, but things went downhill after that. Across three seasons with the Patriots, he posted a 27-21 record.

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Mike D’Antoni joins Steve Nash’s staff with Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets sideline is going to be filled with a lot of offensive masterminds next campaign, as Mike D’Antoni has agreed to a deal to become an assistant coach on Steve Nash’s staff, the team informed Friday.

D’Antoni stepped down as head coach of the Houston Rockets shortly after the team lost in the second round of the playoffs to the Lakers, and many thought he would find another head coaching position around the league. 

Early during his coaching free agency, D’Antoni was attached to multiple jobs, including the Pelicans and the Pacers. But it was reported in mid-October that the two-time Coach of the Year was a potential candidate to join the Nets coaching staff. 

With D’Antoni joining Brooklyn’s staff, it reunites him with Nash, who he coached during two separate stints throughout Nash’s profession. Most notably, though, was their time in Phoenix, where with D’Antoni at the helm and Nash as the star point guard, the two orchestrated one of the most prolific offenses in league history, with the Seven Seconds or Less Suns. 

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Now, with Nash beginning his first head coaching job, he’ll be able to lean on a coach who helped him secure two league MVP awards and played an integral role into him becoming a Hall of Fame player.

Between the two of them, they’ll be able to come up with creative ways to use their two stars in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, and will no doubt have an offense that can put a lot of points on the board. 

Also joining D’Antoni on the coaching staff is Ime Udoka

Udoka spent seven years under Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, and most recently a season with the Philadelphia 76ers. Like D’Antoni, Udoka was being considered for several head coaching gigs around the league, including the Bulls and the Sixers, however both teams went in different directions.

Now, Udoka will be able to bring what he learned under Popovich’s stewardship to a Nets team that has championship objectives next season. With the addition of D’Antoni and Udoka, Nash has assembled quite the impressive coaching staff for a first-timer.

Jacque Vaughn will remain the Nets top assistant coach, and former teammate Amar’e Stoudemire will also join him as an assistant focusing on player development. Stoudemire and Nash spent several seasons together playing for the Suns where they formed one of the best pick-and-roll combinations in the mid-2000s.

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Ty Lue candidacy for Rockets job gains momentum after monday meeting

Clippers assistant coach Ty Lue’s candidacy for the Rockets’ head-coaching job has gathered significant momentum after a meeting with Houston’s ownership and management Monday, sources told ESPN.

The Rockets are competing with the Clippers for Lue and could try to extend an offer before Los Angeles has completed its search process, but that isn’t likely to happen before Houston meets with former coach Jeff Van Gundy this week, sources said.

Both Lue and Van Gundy are prominent parts of the Rockets’ and Clippers’ coaching searches — and Lue has been the Clippers’ front-runner since Doc Rivers was dismissed on Sept. 28, sources said.

Lue’s candidacy has the support of prominent players on both teams, sources said. Houston had originally wanted to hire Rivers to substitute Mike D’Antoni, sources said, but his talks with the 76ers moved quickly to a resolution.

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Van Gundy, currently an analyst for ESPN, has been a favorite of Rockets ownership and management, and he is known to prefer the idea of coaching in his adopted home city to avoid uprooting his family.

Van Gundy, 58, has been active as a coach with USA Basketball in recent years, but he hasn’t coached in the NBA since the Rockets fired him in 2007.

Van Gundy was 430-318 in the regular season and 44-44 in the postseason in parts of 11 seasons with Rockets and Knicks.

Lue coached the Cavaliers to the only championship in franchise history in 2016 and reached the NBA Finals in three consecutive years. He was fired by Cleveland after an 0-6 start in the 2018-19 campaign. Lue is 128-83 overall and 41-20 in the playoffs.

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Doc Rivers out as LA Clippers coach after ‘disappointing’ end to season

Doc Rivers has stepped down as coach of the LA Clippers in what chairman Steve Ballmer called a “mutual decision.”

The team fell well short of its championship expectations this campaign after getting All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last summer in what were NBA-altering moves.

“Doc has been a terrific coach for the Clippers, an incredible ambassador, and a pillar of strength during tumultuous times,” Ballmer said in a statement Monday. “He won a heck of a lot of games and laid a foundation for this franchise.”

Rivers had two years left on his contract, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Clippers went 49-23 in the regular season, the fourth-best record in franchise history, but squandered a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals versus the Denver Nuggets, surrendering leads of 16, 19 and 12 points as the franchise’s Western Conference finals drought reached 50 years.

Rivers has been the coach in five of the Clippers’ six best regular seasons. Rivers is the only coach in NBA history to lose a 3-1 lead in three playoff series, having previously done so with the Clippers in the 2015 West semis versus the Houston Rockets and with the Orlando Magic in the first round versus the Detroit Pistons in 2003.

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This team was considered a championship contender from the moment the Clippers signed Leonard in free agency and traded for George.

After the Clippers completely unraveled for a third straight game in a 104-89 loss to the Nuggets in Game 7, Rivers said the title expectations were not too heavy for his team, even though the Clippers fell short of reaching what many thought all season would be a West finals showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Rivers took over as Clippers coach in June 2013 and was later promoted to president of basketball operations in conjunction with his coaching duties, before giving up that post in August 2017.

In Rivers’ seven seasons at the helm, the Clippers went 356-208, winning 63.1% of their regular-season games — the fifth-best record in the NBA and the best by any team without a conference finals appearance.

Rivers went 3-8 in potential series-clinching matches with the Clippers, tied for the worst mark by a single coach with one team.

His 943 career victories is the 11th most by a head coach all time. The Clippers’ job becomes the sixth current vacancy in the NBA, along with Houston, Indiana, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City and New Orleans. New York, Brooklyn and Chicago have already filled vacancies in their offseasons.

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