Tagged in: coach

Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy returning to calling plays on offense

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy has ended any expectation over who will call the team’s offensive plays in 2021.

The former NFL Coach of the Year confirmed on Friday that he will handle playcalling duties after temporarily ceding the responsibility to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor for a time last season.

“I’m going to be the one calling the plays this year, and so I know that you’ll probably be asking that, so we can just let you know that from the front end,” Nagy said on a Zoom call.

Last year, the Bears struggled to find any rhythm on offense until a late-season three-game winning streak lifted Chicago to a wild-card playoff berth.

The Bears concluded the 2020 season ranked near the bottom in most offensive statistical categories.

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However, Nagy expressed enthusiasm over Chicago’s acquisition of veteran quarterback Andy Dalton, who is the team’s new starter after former second overall pick Mitchell Trubisky signed with Buffalo in free agency.

Veteran Nick Foles is penciled in as Chicago’s No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart.

“Some things will be a little bit different (on offense),” Nagy stated.

“There’s going to be some things that Andy likes that Mitch and Nick hated, and vice versa. But we’re going to work together to figure out what that is. So you know, as a personnel department, as Ryan Pace as the GM, myself as the head coach and a coaching staff, when we collectively came together and said, hey, when you go through free agency and you look at everybody that’s available, it was really a consensus for us to get Andy in here and move forward as the starting quarterback.”

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Colt McCoy signs 1-year deal with Arizona Cardinals, will back up Kyler Murray

The Red River Rivalry is coming to Arizona Cardinals’ quarterbacks room.

Colt McCoy, the former Texas standout, signed a one-year deal with Arizona, where he will back up former Oklahoma star Kyler Murray, the team revealed Tuesday night.

The Cardinals let quarterback Brett Hundley, who backed up Murray in 2019 and was the team’s third-string quarterback in 2020, walk in free agency, leaving the team with former CFL quarterback Chris Streveler as Murray’s backup.

Coach Kliff Kingsbury, a former standout quarterback at Texas Tech before becoming the Red Raiders’ head coach from 2013 to 2018, had thrown his support behind Streveler as his selection to be Murray’s back-up multiple times last season.

McCoy could fill Hundley’s role as the veteran presence in the Cardinals’ quarterbacks room while being inactive all season.

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McCoy has played for four teams in his 11-year NFL career, most recently spending the 2020 season with the New York Giants.

He played in four matches with two starts last season, while throwing for 375 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

McCoy also played for the Washington Football Team from 2014 to 2019, the San Francisco 49ers in 2013 and the Cleveland Browns from 2010 to 2012.

A third-round pick of the Browns in 2010, McCoy has been a backup for the majority of his career. He started 21 games in his first two seasons, including 13 in 2011 with the Browns but has started just nine games while playing in 23 in the last nine seasons.

In his career, McCoy has played in 44 games (with 30 starts) and thrown for 6,455 yards and 30 touchdowns while completing 600-of-989 pass attempts (60.7%). He has rushed for 509 yards and two touchdowns on 139 carries.

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Kevin Durant unlikely to return for Brooklyn Nets this week, coach Steve Nash says

Kevin Durant will not play versus the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, and Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash stated he doubts Durant will play this week as he continues to rehab from a hamstring strain that has sidelined him for a month and a half.

Nash stated Sunday that Durant “looks good” and “is progressing” but “still needs to be monitored and still needs to get a certain amount of markers under his belt” before he returns to game action.

Durant last played on Feb. 13 versus the Golden State Warriors. Durant stayed back during Brooklyn’s three-game road trip to Portland, Utah and Detroit last week while he worked through what Nash deemed a “critical last part” of his rehabilitation.

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The Nets were also without Kyrie Irving and Landry Shamet on that trip. Irving, who was not with the team while he attended to a family matter, will play on Monday. Shamet, who has been treating a right ankle sprain, has been ruled out against the Timberwolves.

Nash stated he doesn’t think that Shamet will return to the lineup this week, either.

After the Nets host the Timberwolves, they face Houston on Wednesday and the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday — all of which Durant and Shamet are likely to miss, according to Nash.

Nash reiterated that he doesn’t believe Shamet’s ankle will be a “long-term thing,” while Durant still has a few more tests to pass in his hamstring recovery.

Initially, the Nets ruled out Durant for two matches, but further imaging revealed a more severe strain than the team initially thought.

Nash has said that they also have the luxury of not rushing Durant back because the team has continued to win. The Nets, Nash said, are prioritizing Durant’s long-term health in what they hope will be a deep playoff run.

“There’s still steps for him to take,” Nash said of Durant, “although he looks great, is progressing and will definitely be back with us. It’s just, I don’t think this week is likely.”

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Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford to retire, coach Mike McCarthy says

After nine seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford has opted to retire, coach Mike McCarthy revealed Thursday.

Crawford, 31, battled numerous injuries the past few seasons, including double hip surgery that limited him to just four games in 2019. That played a part in this decision, as he was set to be an unrestricted free agent but decided his body could not withstand the rigors of the NFL.

The Cowboys selected Crawford in the third round of the 2012 draft. After playing a reserve role as a rookie, he tore his Achilles in training camp in his second season.

He returned as a full-time starter in 2014 and had 37 tackles, 3 sacks, 4 tackles for loss and 29 pressures. In 2015, the Cowboys signed him to a five-year extension worth $45 million, and he posted 19 sacks from 2015-18, including a career-high 5.5 in 2018.

His capacity to play multiple spots along the defensive line ultimately hurt some of his production because the coaches would not settle on him playing defensive end or tackle.

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Crawford battled through shoulder injuries that would require surgery, but he became one of the defensive leaders, which was missed during his absence in 2019.

He started three of 16 games in 2020 and ended with 17 tackles, 2 sacks and 13 quarterback pressures.

If linebacker Sean Lee, who is a free agent, does not return for a 12th season, then DeMarcus Lawrence, a second-round pick in 2014, would be the Cowboys’ longest-tenured defensive player. Randy Gregory, a second-round pick in 2015, would be the second-longest.

Dallas has signed defensive end Tarell Basham as well as defensive tackles Carlos Watkins and Brent Urban this offseason.

“You can’t have enough 6-5, 260-, 265-pound athletes on your team,” McCarthy said.

With the firing of coordinator Mike Nolan and the hiring of Dan Quinn as his replacement, the Cowboys’ defense will have a new boss, but not necessarily a new look as McCarthy said they’ll run a similar scheme as last year.

The defense ranked 31st vs. the run, 23rd in yards allowed per match and 28th in points allowed last season. It was tied for seventh with 23 takeaways. “When you look at our team from 2020 to 2021, the largest change is clearly on defense,” McCarthy said.

“That’s something we felt was needed. … [But] this isn’t a start-over situation. We’re able to build on some of the things we were able to accomplish last year.”

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Balanced Cavaliers beat Bulls 103-94 without Sexton

Darius Garland had 22 points and nine assists, Jarrett Allen added 19 points and nine rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers used a balanced attack to beat the Chicago Bulls 103-94 on Wednesday night without leading scorer Collin Sexton.

Larry Nance, Jr. had 14 points and pulled down 14 rebounds as Cleveland limited Chicago’s top scorers Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen in the second half. Isaac Okoro ended with 12 points for Cleveland, which won for just the fourth time in its last 10.

LaVine led Chicago with 22 points, getting 18 by the half on 6-for-8 shooting, including four 3-pointers. But the All-Star didn’t connect again until late and was held to two baskets on 12 shots in the second half.

Markkanen had 13 points in the first half before cooling off and ending with 17. Garland had 14 points in the second half to help Cleveland nudge ahead to a six-point lead after three quarters before the Cavs put it away in the fourth.

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Coby White and Tomas Satoransky each had 11 points for Chicago, which has lost four of five.

Sexton sat out after he experienced right hamstring soreness in the morning shootaround. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff stated the injury to the guard averaging 24 points wasn’t serious.

The Bulls led 55-53 after a tight first half, during which each team hit 22 shots from the floor. But Chicago was more efficient, shooting at 53.7% opposed to Cleveland’s 43.1%.

Both teams hit cold shooting stretches early and the Bulls committed six turnovers in the first quarter. That helped Cleveland open an eight-point lead with 4:32 left in the quarter, the biggest for either team in the half.

The Bulls pulled into a 25-all tie at the end of the quarter as LaVine lofted in a 3 as time ran out.

The Cavaliers opened a 78-72 lead after three quarters as the Bulls cooled off, shooting just 6 for 20 from the floor. LaVine went 0 for 5.

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RB Tevin Coleman first San Francisco 49ers free agent to join coach Robert Saleh’s New York Jets

Addressing their thin backfield, the New York Jets agreed to terms Wednesday with former San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman on a one-year deal that can be worth up to $2 million, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Coleman will be reunited with Jets coach Robert Saleh and several assistants, all of whom left San Francisco after the season. After a few failed attempts over the past week, Saleh finally landed a 49ers free agent.

Coleman joins a relatively unproven backfield that incorporates Ty Johnson, La’Mical Perine and Josh Adams, none of whom has rushed for more than 511 yards in a season.

There’s also a good chance the Jets will draft a running back. The Jets plan to run the 49ers’ offense under new coordinator Mike LaFleur, a former San Francisco assistant, so Coleman will be familiar with the scheme.

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Coleman’s best year was 2018 with the Atlanta Falcons, when he ran for 800 yards in a contract year.

He rushed for 544 yards on the 49ers’ NFC championship team in 2019, but 2020 was a washout because of injuries.

In Week 2 versus the Jets, Coleman suffered a sprained knee that landed him on injured reserve. He was one of several 49ers players to get injured that day at MetLife Stadium, prompting complaints from the team about the quality of the turf.

Coleman sprained a knee later in the season and wound up playing only 63 offensive snaps in eight matches. He was limited to 53 yards on 28 carries (1.9 average) and no touchdowns.

It will be a new-look backfield for the Jets, whose leading rusher last season was Frank Gore, 37, a free agent who might retire.

The Jets also made a move on defense, signing former Philadelphia Eagles pass-rusher Vinny Curry to a one-year, $1.3 million contact. Curry, who turns 33 on June 30, projects as a situational rusher.

He recorded three sacks and 10 quarterbacks hits in 11 games last season. In nine seasons, including eight with the Eagles, he has 32.5 career sacks.

The Jets, one of the most active teams in free agency, have signed 11 players.

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New-look Los Angeles Rams add veteran to their wide receiver corps, secure deal with DeSean Jackson

The Los Angeles Rams agreed to terms with veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson on Sunday.

Jackson fills a much-needed role as a deep-threat wide receiver on an offense that will feature quarterback Matthew Stafford next campaign.

“We’re always trying to add some juice, and we’ll see what the next month and a half entails,” Rams coach Sean McVay stated Friday when asked if the team needed to find a wideout to stretch the field for Stafford.

“Every offense probably in the NFL would love a deep threat, right?” Rams general manager Les Snead said, answering the same question. “If I added to that, it doesn’t necessarily have to be someone that catches one deep ball a game; those can be low-percentage throws. But when you definitely have skill players with juice, that can threaten the top shelf of the coverage.”

Jackson’s deal is for one year, the team stated. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Jackson has recorded the most 60-plus-yard touchdowns (24) in NFL history.

The 34-year-old, who is entering his 13th NFL season, ranks sixth all time in yards per reception (17.4).

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In Los Angeles, Jackson reunites with McVay, who served as his offensive coordinator for three seasons with the Washington Football Team from 2014 to 2016. Jackson joins a receiving corps that contains Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and second-year pro Van Jefferson. The Rams also utilize tight end Tyler Higbee in the passing game.

However, McVay’s offense has lacked a true deep-threat receiver since trading Brandin Cooks to the Houston Texans after the 2019 campaign.

“We need to be more explosive offensively, but we’ve been a really explosive offense with Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Higbee being centerpieces of it; those guys are going to continue to be that,” McVay said.

“But when you talk about opportunities, you have to call plays that give you an opportunity to be explosive, and that’s where my contribution is. Anytime that you have guys that can do that, that definitely is a benefit.”

Jackson became a free agent when he was released by the Philadelphia Eagles in February.

Jackson’s return to Philadelphia was limited by injuries since he was obtained from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019, reuniting the deep-threat receiver with the team that drafted him.

The excitement of the reunion was fueled by two touchdowns of longer than 50 yards in the 2019 opener versus Washington, but Jackson wound up playing in just three games that season because of a core muscle injury.

Jackson then missed 11 games in 2020 with an injured ankle. Overall, he has 612 receptions for 10,656 yards and has scored 60 touchdowns (including four rushing and four punt returns).

He was selected by the Eagles in the second round of the 2008 draft and played six seasons in his first stint with the team, before joining Washington in 2014.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers bringing back LB Lavonte David on 2-year, $25M deal

Coach Bruce Arians made good on his word at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Super Bowl boat parade, when he told inside linebacker Lavonte David, “Your ass ain’t going nowhere.”

The Bucs on Tuesday agreed to terms with David on a two-year deal worth $25 million, with $20 million guaranteed, sources told ESPN, keeping one of the league’s premier inside linebackers from hitting free agency.

The move came just a few hours after the Bucs franchise-tagged wide receiver Chris Godwin, whom Arians also told at the parade, “Your ass ain’t going nowhere, either.”

Entering Tuesday, the Bucs had roughly $15 million in salary-cap space, according to Roster Management.

They were able to get creative and use three voidable years in David’s contract to spread his cap number more evenly though, so he’ll only count $3.5 million against the salary cap this year.

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“Grinding in them trenches with my dogs! No better feeling!” David captioned a photo on Instagram, with the hashtag #2more.

David, who has silently been one of the league’s better inside linebackers since he was drafted by the Buccaneers in the second round of the 2012 draft, missed only seven total snaps during the 2020 season.

He had 117 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, an interception, 6 passes defensed, 3 forced fumbles and 2 recoveries during the regular season, and he added 26 more tackles and a sack in the postseason as the Bucs won Super Bowl LV.

The longest-tenured player on the team and a captain for seven successive seasons, David, who turned 31 in January, is looked up to in the locker room and is largely credited for the development of Devin White, who enjoyed a breakout sophomore season in 2020.

In nine NFL campaigns, David has 1,124 tackles, 24 sacks, 128 tackles for loss, 55 QB hits, 12 interceptions, 52 passes defensed, 24 forced fumbles, 16 fumble recoveries and 3 defensive touchdowns.

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New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson out for Thursday’s game; still on for NBA All-Star Game

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson missed Thursday night’s contest versus the Miami Heat because of irritation in his right fifth toe, but sources told ESPN that he is still anticipated to play in Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game.

Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy stated the toe irritation is something Williamson has been trying to play through recently.

“It’s one of those things that’s just continued to get a little bit worse,” Van Gundy said. “Obviously, a lot of minutes last night and the whole thing. So it got worse. But it’s been something that he’s had.”

Williamson will be a part of Team Durant in the All-Star Game. Williamson played 38 minutes in Wednesday night’s loss to the Chicago Bulls. Though he ended with 28 points, he was upset that he shot just 8-of-16 from the free throw line. After the match, he spent roughly 40 minutes getting up extra shots on the Smoothie King Center floor.

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Thursday night marked the second game Williamson misses this season but only the first for an injury-related issue.

He missed a game on Jan. 13 in Los Angeles versus the Clippers because of an inconclusive COVID-19 test.

Williamson was voted in as a Western Conference All-Star by coaches after posting some of the best interior scoring numbers the league has seen since Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal. The 20-year-old forward is the fourth-youngest All-Star in NBA history behind LeBron James, Magic Johnson, and Kobe Bryant.

J.J. Redick was also ruled out for the contest due to right heel soreness. After a slow start to the season, the veteran sharpshooter caught fire in February, connecting on 47.6% of his 3-point attempts over a 12-game span.

The Pelicans entered Thursday night in 11th place in the Western Conference standings, three games behind Memphis for the 10th and final play-in tournament spot.

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Deshaun Watson met with Houston Texans coach David Culley, still wants to be traded

Quarterback Deshaun Watson met with new Houston Texans coach David Culley last Friday, according to sources, and informed Culley that he has no plan of suiting up for the team again.

Upset over the way the organization has operated in recent years, Watson has asked the Texans to trade him and has had very little contact with the team since the season ended.

The conversation with Culley is believed to have been the first between the two. Culley said in his introductory news conference that he expected Watson to be on the team in 2021.

But according to the sources, Watson’s message to Culley in Friday’s meeting was that nothing has changed on his end and he still would like to be traded. So far, the Texans have told interested teams that they don’t intend to trade Watson, who just last summer signed a four-year, $156 million contract extension that runs through 2025.

Trading Watson would cost the Texans $21.6 million in dead money against this year’s salary cap — a significant hit since his cap number if he’s on the team is just $15.94 million.

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Any team acquiring the young superstar would get a tremendous bargain in 2021, as Watson is arranged to earn just $10.54 million in salary this year before that number jumps to $35 million in 2022, $37 million in 2023 and $32 million each in 2024 and 2025.

If the Texans choose not to trade Watson, he could opt not to report to mandatory team activities or training camp, but at a cost.

Houston can fine Watson $95,877 for missing minicamp and can fine him $50,000 per day for each day of training camp missed, plus one week’s salary — $620,000 — for each preseason game missed. In the unlikely scenario that Watson chooses to retire, the Texans can collect $21.6 million.

Watson’s trade request came after he was reportedly unhappy with the process used by the team to hire new general manager Nick Caserio in early January.

Watson set career highs in the 2020 season in passing yards, touchdowns and completion percentage. He also threw a career-low seven interceptions. His 33 touchdowns and 4,823 passing yards were single-season franchise records.

He is the NFL’s career leader in completion percentage at 67.8%, ahead of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. In 2020, Watson became just the 11th player in NFL history to complete at least 70% of his passes in a season.

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