Tagged in: coach

QB Jimmy Garoppolo has ‘slightly’ sprained throwing shoulder, should be OK for Saturday vs. Green Bay Packers

Already playing through a torn ligament in his right thumb, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered another injury in Sunday’s triumph over the Dallas Cowboys.

This time, Garoppolo is dealing with what coach Kyle Shanahan called Monday a “slightly” sprained right (throwing) shoulder. According to Shanahan, the injury occurred in the second quarter.

Garoppolo joins linebacker Fred Warner (sprained right ankle) and defensive end Nick Bosa (concussion) on the list of key Niners nursing injuries to watch this week as the team prepares for Saturday night’s NFC divisional-round game versus the Green Bay Packers.

The good news, according to Shanahan, is that Warner and Garoppolo should be ready to go versus Green Bay. In fact, Shanahan believes Garoppolo will be able to practice when the team resumes those sessions on Tuesday.

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“He should be fine for practice,” Shanahan said. “He had to play through some pain and stuff, but he ended up checking out all right. Just a slight shoulder sprain and he should be good for [Tuesday’s] practice.”

Warner sprained his ankle in the fourth quarter and was writhing in pain and grabbing at it, which put a scare into the Niners and their fans. Further testing on Monday, however, revealed it was a low ankle sprain, which means he should also be OK this week, though it’s unclear if he will resume practice right away.

“We’ll evaluate and see as the week goes,” Shanahan stated. “The initial scare was that it could have been high, so we got good news on that. He had something similar to this earlier in the year, but we’ll evaluate him on Wednesday, which I think is Tuesday this week.”

Earlier Monday, Warner had indicated that his injury wasn’t as serious as first feared, tweeting: “Sorry for the scare yesterday everyone, I appreciate everyone showing love and support for me and the fellas. We’ll be good to go. Huge win, onto the next.”

Bosa’s status is more unclear because he must clear the necessary steps of the concussion protocol in order to play.

Bosa suffered his concussion just before halftime of San Francisco’s 23-17 win against Dallas.

Shanahan said he did not get a chance to speak to Bosa on Sunday night or Monday morning but got positive reports from those who did.

“We’re being pretty optimistic with it,” Shanahan said. “I’ve seen that a few times and he seems like he’s in a pretty good spot right now, but I’m not going to be the one who judges that.”

In addition to Garoppolo, Bosa and Warner, Niners defensive end Jordan Willis suffered a high ankle sprain against the Cowboys, which puts his status in doubt against the Packers.

With a short week and less time for their injured players to heal, Shanahan said the Niners will have a lighter schedule this week. They will have a late start time on Tuesday, followed by less strenuous practices on Wednesday and Thursday before traveling to Green Bay.

“I think the biggest thing about this week is going to be about recovery,” Shanahan said. “So, the more sleep we can do, we’ll slow most of the stuff down. I doubt we get many full-speed reps in this week. … [We’ll] make it pretty easy on the guys this week.”

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Milwaukee Bucks stomp Golden State Warriors, keep ‘building good habits’ vs. elite teams

The Milwaukee Bucks delivered another statement victory Thursday night with a 118-99 thumping of the Golden State Warriors, continuing their trend of being at their best this season when matched up versus other likely title contenders.

The Bucks blitzed the Warriors from the start, jumping out to a 39-point halftime lead, Golden State’s largest halftime deficit since the franchise moved from Philadelphia.

In the past week, the Bucks have won handily against the Warriors and Brooklyn Nets — whom they also beat on opening night in Milwaukee — a pair of teams they could see on the path to attempt to repeat as NBA champions.

“I don’t know why we play well in big games, but at the end of the day we’ve got to just keep building good habits moving forward,” said Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished with 30 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in 30 minutes.

“Big games with big excitement or even games nobody watches, nobody cares about, we have to keep building good habits, so we can be good in May and June.”

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Milwaukee had coach Mike Budenholzer back on the sideline after clearing health and safety protocols but was playing without guard Jrue Holiday, its best perimeter defender, who missed his fourth consecutive game with an ankle. Still, the Bucks were able to contain Warriors star Stephen Curry with a smothering defensive effort.

Curry was 4-of-11 shooting in the game (2 for 6 from 3) for 12 points. He has shot less than 50% from the field in eight consecutive games, the longest streak of his career, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Golden State finished 3-for-14 from the field with three turnovers and seven points when the Bucks sent a double team at Curry.

“Milwaukee is a good team. They obviously have championship DNA now,” Curry said, “and present some challenges in terms of putting pressure on the interior end and spacing. We just got off to a terrible start where everything went wrong.”

The Warriors have dropped four of their past five games overall and Curry is mired in one of the worst shooting slumps of his career, but they were not panicking about their recent skid.

“To be honest, I’m not that concerned,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr stated after the game. “I know we just got our butts kicked. We’re just in a rough patch in our season. Happens to every team, every year pretty much, with very few exceptions. We’re in a little bit of a rut. We played a team that was ready and played great … And so we’re a little out of sorts, and we just got to get back on track.”

Golden State will play the Bulls in the second half of a back-to-back on Friday night in Chicago. Klay Thompson, who scored 11 points on 3 of 11 shooting in 21 minutes, is not expected to play as the Warriors ease him back into action after missing more than two years because of injuries.

The Bucks, meanwhile, have continued to roll against some of the stiffest competition in the league because of dominant performances by Antetokounmpo.

On Thursday, Antetokounmpo finished a perfect 9-for-9 inside the restricted area with four dunks. He scored on four different primary defenders, (including 4-for-4 against Andre Iguodala) and hit all seven of his wide-open shots.

Even when the Warriors forced him into a pass, he routinely made the right read — the Bucks shot 11 of 16 (30 points) off Antetokounmpo’s passes, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.

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Chicago Bears continue search, interview former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson

The Chicago Bears interviewed former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson and Cleveland Browns executive Glenn Cook for their vacant coach and general manager jobs on Wednesday.

The positions opened Monday when the Bears fired former coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace on the heels of a 6-11 season. Pederson led Philadelphia to the franchise’s lone Super Bowl championship following the 2017 season. He was 42-37-1 with two division championships and three playoff appearances before going 4-11-1 in 2020 and getting fired.

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Pederson and Nagy are friends from their time working under Andy Reid in Philadelphia and Kansas City.

Cook has spent six years in Cleveland’s front office. He was the Browns’ assistant director of pro scouting from 2016 to 2019 and their vice president of player personnel the past two seasons, working with executive vice president of football operations and general manager Andrew Berry.

Cook also served as a scouting assistant with the Indianapolis Colts (2011 and 2012) and a pro scout with the Green Bay Packers (2012 to 2015).

He was a linebacker at the University of Miami from 2004 to 2008. He also was drafted by baseball’s Chicago Cubs in the 46th round in 2009 and played 34 matches for their rookie league team that year.

The Bears landed at the No. 7 spot in the NFL draft after their season, but that pick belongs to the New York Giants from a trade.

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New York Giants fire coach Joe Judge after just two seasons

The New York Giants fired coach Joe Judge on Tuesday after his two losing seasons with the crew.

The move comes a day after general manager Dave Gettleman retired after four seasons on the job.

Judge, a first-time head coach, went 10-23 in his two years. He is the third consecutive Giants coach to be fired after two seasons or less, following Ben McAdoo (13-15) and Pat Shurmur (9-23), as the once-proud franchise stumbles through one of the worst 10-year stretches in its history.

The move comes after Judge was left dangling for most of the past two days. He operated Monday as if he would stay, holding a team meeting before speaking with ownership in the afternoon. But the Giants did not mention that Judge would return when they sent out a news release revealing Gettleman’s retirement.

Judge had more meetings scheduled with ownership on the direction of the team Tuesday. It was during one of those meetings that Judge was informed he would not return for a third season.

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Judge, 40, appeared safe until late in the season, when the Giants started spiraling out of control after losing quarterback Daniel Jones to injury. They couldn’t move the ball and scored more than 10 points once in those six games with Mike Glennon and then Jake Fromm, claimed off the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad, starting.

The Giants used three starting quarterbacks in a single season for the first time since 1992. That was in Ray Handley’s second season as head coach, and he too was fired after the season.

Giants ownership had wanted to keep Judge. Mara even gave Judge a vote of confidence earlier this campaign despite a slow start.

But an animated 11-minute ramble after a loss to the Chicago Bears two weeks ago rankled the organization, and running back-to-back quarterback sneaks from inside their own 5-yard line on second and third downs during Sunday’s 22-7 defeat to the Washington Football Team made Judge an easy target and the Giants a running joke.

The Giants were big spenders last offseason, and the expectation from ownership was that they would at least be playoff contenders.

But a slow start, 1-5 this season, doomed Judge. New York started 0-5 under him in 2020 and has missed the playoffs nine of the past 10 seasons.

Judge’s .303 winning percentage is third worst in Giants franchise history, just above Shurmur, the man he replaced.

The Giants were among the league leaders in games missed due to injury this season. All their key offensive players — Jones, running back Saquon Barkley, left tackle Andrew Thomas, and wide receivers Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney — missed at least two games.

Judge came to the Giants after eight seasons with the New England Patriots, mostly as the special-teams coordinator, and was highly recommended by Bill Belichick. Judge had previously worked under Nick Saban at Alabama.

New York lured Judge with a five-year contract. He was set to become the head coach at Mississippi State, his alma mater, before this opportunity arose. Two years and four days later, he’s out.

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Chicago Bears fire coach Matt Nagy, GM Ryan Pace after 6-11 season

The Chicago Bears fired coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace on Monday after the team concluded with a 6-11 record this season.

Nagy was named NFL Coach of the Year after his first season in 2018, when he led the Bears to a 12-4 record and they reached the playoffs for the first time in eight years.

He earned praise that season for his offensive wrinkles and humble disposition, but the Bears couldn’t sustain that success over the ensuing three seasons.

They finished 8-8 in 2019 and then again in 2020, when the league’s expanded playoff field put them into the wild-card round. Nagy was never able to duplicate his first season, in part because the quarterback he inherited — Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2017 draft — never made the necessary improvement.

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Trubisky departed via free agency last spring, after the Bears traded up to draft quarterback Justin Fields.

The Bears were 2-8 in Fields’ 10 starts, and he finished the season ranked last in the league in Total QBR (26.0). In four seasons, the Bears were 34-31 under Nagy in the regular season and 0-2 in the playoffs.

Monday’s news has been brewing since the end of November, when a local report emerged that Nagy would be fired after the Bears’ Thanksgiving Day game at the Detroit Lions. Nagy stated at the time that he was unaware of his impending firing, but no member of the Bears’ front office or ownership immediately stepped forward to publicly deny the report.

A day later, owner George McCaskey told players during a team meeting that Nagy would not be fired after the match. The Bears beat the Lions 16-14, but it was their only victory amid a 1-8 streak that ran from Week 6 through Week 15.

In a statement issued Monday evening, Nagy said that “it was an honor to serve” as the Bears’ head coach and he thanked the team’s ownership, Pace and his players, coaches and support staff.

Pace also issued a statement Monday evening and also thanked the team’s ownership, Nagy, the team’s players, the football operations staff and the Bears fans.

With the help of former NFL executive Bill Polian leading their search committee, the Bears will cast a wide net for a new GM and head coach. McCaskey indicated that it’s possible the team could even hire a coach before the GM.

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Miami Dolphins fire coach Brian Flores after three seasons; GM Chris Grier to remain

The Dolphins fired head coach Brian Flores after three campaigns with the franchise, the team revealed Monday morning, barely 12 hours after he coached the team to a 33-24 triumph over the New England Patriots.

General manager Chris Grier will remain with the team in his current role, ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reported. Next season will be Grier’s seventh season as the team’s GM.

The decision came from Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who released a statement offering an explanation.

“I made a decision today to part ways with Brian Flores,” Ross said. “After evaluating where we are as an organization and what we need going forward to improve, I determined that key dynamics of our football organization weren’t functioning at a level I want it to be and felt that this decision was in the best interest of the Miami Dolphins. I believe we have a talented young roster in place and have the opportunity to be much better in 2022.

“I want to thank Brian for his hard work and wish him nothing but the best in his future.”

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Despite speculation that Ross was interested in hiring Jim Harbaugh as coach, the Dolphins are not targeting the Michigan coach he stated in a news conference to discuss Flores’ firing.

“I’m not going to be the one who takes Jim Harbaugh away from the University of Michigan,” Ross, who is an alumnus of the university, said.

Ross said the Dolphins’ quarterback position played “no role” in Flores’ firing.

“I have a lot of confidence in Tua (Tagovailoa) … I’m sure the next head coach will work with him, as well,” he said.

Ross also said that that he has “no plans” to pursue Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson in a trade, adding that it will up to the next head coach to make the decision on the quarterback position.

Flores now is expected to be a prime candidate to get head-coaching consideration elsewhere during this next hiring cycle, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Miami was expected to compete for an AFC East title in 2021 after finishing 10-6 and missing the playoffs in 2020.

The team won its opening game before losing seven straight, putting itself in a hole no other team in NFL history has come back from to make the playoffs. However, Miami responded to its seven-game losing streak with a seven-game winning streak — becoming the first team in league history to do both in the same season.

However, the high of that winning streak came to a sudden stop when the Dolphins were blown out by the Tennessee Titans in Week 17, knocking them out of playoff contention for the fifth straight season.

Flores was just the fourth coach in franchise history to record two winning seasons in his first three years with the team, going 24-25 in his tenure and 4-2 versus his former boss, Bill Belichick — the best mark of any coach against Belichick while at the Patriots’ helm.

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Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield to have shoulder surgery ASAP, won’t play Sunday

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield won’t play Sunday versus the Cincinnati Bengals, so that he can move forward with surgery to repair the torn labrum in his non-throwing left shoulder.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Mayfield’s surgery could happen as soon as this week. A league source told ESPN that Mayfield could be back in time to participate in OTAs, which typically take place in May or June around the league.

Mayfield, who has been playing with the shoulder injury since Week 2, admitted following Monday night’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers that he was “pretty damn beat up.” Mayfield was sacked nine times in the game.

“I’ve continued to lay it out on the line when I haven’t been healthy and tried to fight for our guys,” said Mayfield, who’s been playing with a harness on the shoulder to prevent it from popping out of place. “Now it’s time for me to start looking at what’s in the best interest of me and my health.”

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The Browns (7-9) were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday when the Bengals clinched the AFC North Division title.

Mayfield, who quarterbacked Cleveland to its first playoff triumph in 26 years last season, has struggled since suffering the shoulder injury, ranking 26th in the league in QBR (35.2).

On Monday, he also became the first NFL quarterback since 2019 to throw 10 consecutive incompletions, and the first since 2017 to be sacked at least five times and have five passes batted down at the line of scrimmage in the same game.

On Tuesday, Stefanski acknowledged that the shoulder injury and harness had affected Mayfield’s performance this season, but had no regrets about not giving him an extended rest to recover at any point.

“Throughout this whole thing, we have tried to make the right decision based on all the information available to us,” Stefanski said. “Constant dialogue with our medical staff, with Baker, and throughout have really felt comfortable based on all that information that he was able to play.”

Mayfield is under contract with Cleveland through the 2022 season, with the Browns having already exercised the fifth-year option on his rookie deal.

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Green Bay Packers clinch No. 1 seed with one week to spare

Matt LaFleur has this regular-season thing all figured out.

Three years with LaFleur as the Green Bay Packers’ coach, three times they’ve had a first-round bye in the playoffs — including the No. 1 seed each of the past two campaigns.

But he has never done this before: His team wrapped it up with a match still left in the regular season.

Before the Packers (13-3) even stepped on Lambeau Field on Sunday night, they knew that a victory would make next week’s regular-season finale at Detroit meaningless in terms of their playoff position.

They had the Arizona Cardinals, who beat the Dallas Cowboys earlier in the day, to thank for that.

They took care of the rest themselves with a 37-10 triumph over the Kirk Cousins-less Minnesota Vikings. Before LaFleur & Co. start to think about that, they’ll have to decide how to handle Week 18 versus the Lions. The past two years, they needed the final weekend of the season to secure their playoff seed.

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Now, LaFleur faces the age-old NFL debate: Play the starters in the finale to keep them sharp or give them the weekend off to preserve their health. After the Packers watch wild-card weekend, their first playoff game will be either Jan. 22 or 23 in the divisional round.

Aaron Rodgers’ fractured pinkie toe on his left foot no doubt will factor into LaFleur’s decision.

The toe didn’t seem to bother Rodgers on Sunday night even in the bitter cold. It was 11 degrees at kickoff and got colder as the night went on.

“This is a first game that my toe got through the game without any issues,” Rodgers said. “No pregame painkiller shot. I’m feeling good. I’m happy about it.

There was definitely a time a few weeks ago when I started to project out and think if we can get the 1-seed, it could be two-plus weeks of rest. I’m going to play next week, and I expect Davante to play and our guys to play. So, we’re looking forward to finishing off the season on a high note and then getting the bye.”

Rodgers, who stated this week that he likes it “the colder, the better,” threw for 211 yards in the first half, 118 of them to Davante Adams. It was Rodgers’ highest first-half total since Week 4 of last season and Adams’ highest in a first half since Week 4 of 2019.

The Packers’ halftime lead of 20-3 should have been even bigger but for three failed red zone trips (two field goals and a turnover on downs).

They even ran the ball well, with their second-highest first-half total (88 yards) of the season, thanks in large part to Aaron Jones’ runs of 27 and 28 yards — the first time in his career he has had multiple 25-plus-yard carries in the same game.

Rodgers concluded 29-of-38 for 288 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. It was his sixth straight game with multiple touchdowns and no interceptions, tying Don Meredith for the second-longest streak in NFL history. And Adams ended with 11 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown.

He’s 21 yards away from Jordy Nelson’s single-season record and half-jokingly offered that as a reason to play next week.

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AFC West rivals Chargers, Broncos face must-win situations

Two weeks ago the Los Angeles Chargers were feeling pretty secure about getting to the postseason for the first time since 2018.

After two consecutive losses though, their challenge is more formidable going into Sunday’s game versus the Denver Broncos.

“Now, it’s now or never. You don’t want to put it in everybody else’s hands; you want it to be in your hands,” Chargers defensive tackle Linval Joseph said. “We have to go out there and do what we have to do. We have to go out there and get it done this Sunday.”

The Chargers (8-7) got off to a 4-1 start under first-year coach Brandon Staley but have won consecutive games only once since mid-October. They have dropped their past two —a 34-28 overtime loss to Kansas City on Dec. 16 and an inexplicable 41-29 defeat at Houston last Sunday.

Staley’s message to his team this week has been about getting back to being consistent in practice and trying to approach things as normal as possible despite the evolving roster changes because of COVID-19.

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“You have to trust your plans and how you prepare. I think that’s what our approach is going to be this week, putting the focus on us and giving the Broncos their full respect by preparing each day the best that we know how. Regardless of the circumstances, treat each week like it has a life of its own,” Staley said.

The Chargers could get back into a wild-card spot with a win and losses by Miami to Tennessee and Baltimore to the Los Angeles Rams.

“Playoff games start now, and that’s the mindset,” wide receiver Keenan Allen said.

Denver (7-8) has won four of its past five against its division rival, including 28-13 on Nov. 28.

The Broncos started the season with three consecutive wins but have dropped three of their past four as their playoff hopes are hanging by a thread.

They need a win over the Chargers, coupled with victories by the Rams, Titans and Browns to go into next week’s regular-season finale against Kansas City with even a chance of getting back to the postseason for the first time since 2015, when they won their third Super Bowl title.

Another defeat would assure the Broncos of their fifth straight season under .500. Third-year coach Vic Fangio was on the hot seat going into the year and has tried to deflect talk about his job status during the latest slump.

“I’m not worried about do I have to win the next two to secure the job? That’s totally not in my frame of thought right now,” he said. “We’re going to do anything and everything we can to win this game this week.”

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San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo has torn UCL, fracture in right thumb

The San Francisco 49ers resumed practice Monday after a long holiday weekend without starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

That’s because Garoppolo suffered what a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter was a torn ulnar collateral ligament of the right thumb, as well as a fracture in the same thumb, early in Thursday’s 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans. His status for Sunday’s match versus the Houston Texans remains unclear.

Garoppolo did not participate in the Niners’ Monday “bonus” practice, which came after the team went its separate ways for the three days following the loss in Nashville.

Rookie quarterback Trey Lance took all of the work with the starters in Monday’s session, which coach Kyle Shanahan described as a walk-through. According to Shanahan, Garoppolo suffered the injury when Titans defensive tackle Denico Autry sacked him for a 7-yard loss with 3:56 left in the second quarter.

Garoppolo finished the game but struggled with a pair of costly interceptions and missed a would-be touchdown throw to open fullback Kyle Juszczyk in the first half.

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Shanahan indicated that Garoppolo was hampered by the thumb on the Niners’ first offensive play of the third quarter, a pass intended for receiver Deebo Samuel that sailed into the waiting arms of Titans safety Amani Hooker for an interception that Tennessee turned into the game-tying touchdown.

Garoppolo concluded 26-of-35 for 322 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for a 44.4 QBR.

“We knew his thumb was hurting him,” Shanahan said. “We thought he jammed it sometime in the game, so he tells us right when he comes to the bench.”

With Garoppolo considered day-to-day, Lance could be in line for his first extended work with the starters since before a Week 5 loss to Arizona. And if Garoppolo is unable to heal well enough to play Sunday, Lance would make his second career start versus Houston.

Shanahan indicated the decision will come down to not only how Garoppolo feels but also how he looks throwing the ball if he progresses to that stage. As for Lance, Shanahan stated the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft has made good progress while running the scout team The coach pointed to improved decision-making and accuracy, among other things.

“This last month of Trey has been his best consecutive four weeks at practice since we’ve had him,” Shanahan said.

“He’s had a number of good days and he’s had some bad days like most guys do, but as far as his consistency and stuff, I feel this last month has been his best.”

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