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No more confusion: Jaguars play 4-3 defense, and Josh Allen is an end

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Defensive coordinator Todd Wash was adamant about what kind of defense the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to run in 2019. And where top pick Josh Allen is going to line up.

Wash didn’t even leave a smidgen of wiggle room.

“We are a 4-3,” Wash said. “That is what we always have been. As long as I’m here, that’s what we will be.”

And: “Josh Allen was drafted to be a defensive end.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

It should bring an end to the speculation that the Jaguars would undergo a defensive overhaul. That all started in February, when the Jaguars hired longtime NFL coach Dom Capers to be a senior defensive assistant; and it intensified when the Jaguars snapped up Allen, who played linebacker at Kentucky, with the seventh overall pick in late April.

On the surface, the speculation about a defensive switch made sense. In addition to twice being a head coach in the NFL, Capers served as a defensive coordinator for four teams (including the Jaguars in 1999-2000 under then head coach Tom Coughlin) and ran a 3-4 scheme in each stop. He had a lot of success with it too.10

In his three seasons as Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator (1992-94), the Steelers ranked second, ninth and second in scoring. His Jaguars defense in 1999 led the league in scoring and was fourth in yards allowed, though those rankings dropped to 12th and 16th the following season.

When Capers was hired in Green Bay in 2009, he scrapped the 4-3 the Packers had used since 1992. His first two defenses ranked seventh and second in scoring, then finished in the top 15 in that category in three of the next seven seasons. Mike McCarthy fired Capers after the 2017 season, in which the Packers finished 26th in scoring, 22nd in total defense and 23rd in pass defense.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Despite the way his time in Green Bay ended, Capers is regarded as one of the top defensive coordinators in NFL history. The Jaguars brought him on board full time to help Wash get the defense back to the level it was in 2017, when Jacksonville finished second in interceptions and sacks and first in pass defense. Capers had served as a consultant in 2018.

“We’ve got a great working relationship,” Wash said of Capers. “Obviously, he’s been in the league one or two years longer than I have, or 102 years longer than I have, but it’s a great working relationship, and we dealt with each other all last year. So, I’m glad that he chose us with the other opportunities that he had, and he’ll be a great addition to the staff.

The Warriors want to fill the hole in Stephen Curry’s trophy case

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The 35-year-old swingman, who has been dealing with the injury throughout most of the Golden State Warriors’ postseason run, spends the moments following Game 2 of the NBA Finals limping through the locker room inside Scotiabank Arena. Iguodala peels off his jersey and tells the assembled media what continues to motivate him to play through injuries at the tail end of a 15-year career.

“I like Steph,” Iguodala says. “He’s a good dude, good guy to be around. That’s really the only reason why I like playing basketball.”

In this moment, Iguodala’s motive is far deeper than the joy he gets from playing alongside Stephen Curry; he is also determined to bolster Curry’s individual résumé. Coincidentally, that means getting Curry something Iguodala already has: an NBA Finals MVP award.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“I’ve never seen a person, such a good person, ever get some backlash, whatever, from his peers,” Iguodala said. “Because they’re so jealous of what he has. … So whatever it takes to protect his legacy, I’m all for it.”9

Since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976-77, Curry is part of a small group of players who have won both a regular-season MVP award and a title but not claimed Finals MVP. Like Curry has the past two years, David Robinson and Julius Erving played alongside another MVP (Tim Duncan and Moses Malone, respectively) when they won their titles, while Kevin Garnett was four years removed from his MVP season — and on a different team — when he won his lone championship.
Iguodala echoed those sentiments, saying, “He’s not arrogant. He doesn’t go about life like a superstar. DeMarcus [Cousins] said it one day — he was like, ‘He’s the most normal superstar I’ve ever seen.’ He’s like, ‘This is unreal.’ But it’s just talk about culture. People don’t understand how important that is.“nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

Curry has played well on the game’s biggest stage. He was the team’s leading scorer in the 2015 Finals, averaging nearly 10 points per game more than Iguodala, who won Finals MVP. He led the Warriors in scoring again in 2016, when they lost in seven games to the Cleveland Cavaliers — a setback Curry blames himself for.

Kevin Durant arrived that summer, and took the Finals scoring lead from Curry en route to winning each of the past two Finals MVPs. Still, Curry averaged 27.1 points per game over those two series, an increase over the 25.7 PPG he put up in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 regular seasons.

“I think if you ask him he’ll take that championship and everyone being healthy,” said Bogut, who was part of the Warriors’ title team in 2015 and, after stints with Cleveland, Dallas and the Lakers over the past two seasons, rejoined Golden State earlier this season. “In my opinion, I don’t think [winning Finals MVP] changes the direction of his career, but I guess for the media people that are out there criticizing him for not having that, it might silence them a little bit, for at least a year — until they find something else to criticize him for.”

Boring? That description fits the Cubs’ bats with men on base

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While the Blues were playing the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final across town, Cubs star third baseman Kris Bryant was hearing plenty of boos after calling St. Louis “boring” over the winter. But that word applied to the Cubs at the plate as much as anything else.

The team’s offense has gotten decidedly boring lately.

“We have to give ourselves a better chance, more opportunities than we’re giving ourselves,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said after Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Cardinals completed a three-game sweep that knocked the Cubs out of first place in the NL Central. “That’s the ebb and flow of the season. We’re grinding right now as a unit. We have to get back on track.”

Rizzo got robbed by Kolten Wong late in Sunday’s contest to help preserve the win for the home team, but this can’t all be about a bad BABIP right now. The Cubs seem to be squeezing their bats about as hard as possible as soon as a runner reaches base. On Sunday, they nearly became just the second team this year to walk at least eight times without scoring — only a ninth-inning run prevented it.cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

“We just have to do a better job, reorganize our strike zones and make pitchers throw the ball over the plate and stay in the middle of the field,” manager Joe Maddon said.9

Maddon has no other answers for an offense that has just one hit in its past 33 at-bats with a runner in scoring position — and even that lone hit didn’t plate a run. If the ball isn’t leaving the ballpark these days, the Cubs aren’t scoring.

“It’s not like we’re in here moping around and, ‘Poor us, we can’t get a hit right now with a runner in scoring position,'” Rizzo said. “We’re doing our best, we’re just falling short.”

Some of this rhetoric is eerily similar to the second half of last season, when the Cubs inexplicably went into offensive hibernation. That led to another “B” word no Cubs fan ever wants to hear again. If Theo Epstein declares the Cubs offense “broken” anytime soon, as he did last October, there might be a mutiny in Chicago.

“We have guys in here that have driven in a lot of runs before,” Rizzo said. “The more opportunities we have, the better off we’ll be.”cheap nfl jerseys nike china

Rizzo isn’t wrong. By year’s end, the top on-base teams are usually the top run-scoring teams. That’s a fact.

But the Cubs seem to do things that don’t go with the norm. For example, despite respectable National League rankings in batting average (fifth) and on-base percentage (second), the Cubs drop all the way down to 14th — just ahead of the lowly Marlins — when it comes to hitting with runners in scoring position. Let that sink in. They hit .255 overall but just .240 when runners are poised to score. Only one other NL team (Pittsburgh) has a drop of that significant. All others hit the same or better when the going gets tough for the pitcher.

That leads to a cruel joke forming for opposing teams: The best way to get out of an inning against the Cubs is to put a runner at second base.

“I don’t think we’re going up there just trying to hit homers,” Kyle Schwarber said. “Some of it isn’t falling right now. It’s the reality. We’re all up there trying to drive guys in.”

How the NFL’s Australian punter revolution made its way to San Francisco

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In the run up to the 2019 NFL draft, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan spent an inordinate amount of time doing something they’d never done before.

“Kyle and I studied punters more this year than I think we ever will,” Lynch said.

A big part of that study time was the Niners’ glaring need for help after Bradley Pinion departed in free agency. But it wasn’t just that.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Quietly, a punting revolution has come to the NFL and it’s happening in plain sight. It’s coming by way of the land down under and a place called Prokick Australia based in Melbourne.
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For most of the past decade, Prokick has become sort of a punter factory for the college game, as former Aussie rules football players learn how to kick an American football under the tutelage of Prokick founder Nathan Chapman and his staff. In 2018, about 65 Division I schools had punters who came by way of Prokick.

Now, those punters are starting to make their way to the NFL, as Seattle’s Michael Dickson, Philadelphia’s Cameron Johnston, Pittsburgh’s Jordan Berry and the Jets’ Lac Edwards have all gone through the Prokick experience.

After plenty of film study, the Niners joined the fray by spending a fourth-round draft pick on Utah’s Mitch Wishnowsky, the punter who quickly became the object of their affection at the Senior Bowl in January.

A league that has long leaned heavily on convention is starting to take the time to understand how the arsenal of punts deployed by former Aussie rules football players can impact a game.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

“Here’s the way I see it right now: If you are a punter coming through college and you want to make it, you better have all of these shots in your bag because that’s where it’s going,” Chapman said. “Right now, the NFC West has two of them and they’re both very good at it and every other team is going to play them twice. So there’s four games a year where you might play against a real pain-in-the-ass punter. And everyone else is thinking, ‘We better get one — if we don’t get one of these, we are going to be behind the eight ball.'”

Wobbly start: Lamar Jackson critical of his early offseason practices

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At the end of Thursday’s practice, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh wanted to finish with a pressure scenario, telling his players that there were seven seconds remaining and the offense was down by six points.

Lamar Jackson threw a 3-yard touchdown pass through heavy traffic to running back Gus Edwards, winning the drill but apparently not winning over the second-year quarterback. Jackson gave a blunt assessment of how he performed in his first week of offseason practices.

“I’d say, my first day, I sucked. Second day, I did better. Today, it was all right but it could’ve been better,” Jackson said. “I’m always trying to be perfect in practice.”cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

The development of Jackson as a passer has been the big question mark surrounding the Ravens all offseason and will continue to be the hot-topic issue. If Baltimore wants to return to the playoffs, Jackson has to improve upon his 58.2 percent completion rate and his 159.1 yards passing per game as a starter.9

On Thursday, Jackson showed more velocity on his passes than last season. He stepped into his throws and drove them downfield, especially on the deep passes along the sidelines.

There were other times when Jackson struggled connecting with his receivers, specifically in the red zone.

Harbaugh explained that Baltimore has rebuilt its offense under new coordinator Greg Roman, from the cadence to the terminology. As Harbaugh pointed out, the Ravens didn’t have the luxury of an extra two weeks to practice like teams that hire a new head coach do.

“It’s a process,” Harbaugh said. “So, we’re not exactly clicking on all cylinders yet. But I’m really happy with the progress and where we’re going.”nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

At the top of Jackson’s checklist this offseason is changing the look of his passes. He wants his spirals to be tighter, which were a problem last season and during the first week of spring workouts. Several of Jackson’s passes wobbled through the air.

“It’s been crazy. It’s been everywhere,” Jackson said of his throws. “I feel like my hand is a little too high on the football and that makes the ball go out of whack a lot.”

Jackson has impressed coaches and players with how hard he has worked this offseason. A mainstay in the Ravens’ conditioning program, Jackson has been seen doing chin-ups in the weight room and running around cones in the indoor field house.

Draymond: Warriors want sweep to get more rest

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As the Golden State Warriors attempt to become the first team since the 1960s Boston Celtics to go to the NBA Finals for the fifth straight season, Warriors forward Draymond Green said the group is motivated to finish off the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals and take advantage of the nine days off before the Finals begin May 30.

“I think it’s very motivating for us to try to sweep this series and have that time off,” Green said on Sunday. “Obviously we’re a little banged up, so nine days off would be great for us. Allow Andre [Iguodala] time to heal, Shaun [Livingston]’s old — but also allow the possibility of Kevin [Durant] and DeMarcus [Cousins] to get healthy and come back as well. So I think it’s very important for us to come out tomorrow with the right mindset. We didn’t do that against the Clippers. We extended the series and all of a sudden Klay [Thompson] and Steph [Curry] was going into the Houston series questionable because of some ankle injuries they suffered in series that should have been over. And so we understand that. We got a great opportunity.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Despite the fact that the Warriors hold a 3-0 lead in the series, Green knows the Blazers aren’t going to let Golden state roll over them in a potential closeout game. But after coming back from double-digit deficits in the second half of each of the past two games of this series, the Warriors enter Monday night’s contest with more confidence than they’ve had all season.

“We know this team is, they’re a very resilient group,” Green said of the Blazers. “They’re not going to lay down. They have great leadership in Dame [Damian Lillard] and C.J. [McCollum] and they’re going to come out and continue to play, and play with the force that they can play with. It’s on us to make sure we can play with the right mindset and focus, that we know what it takes to close out a series, especially on the road.”8

Green, who earned his seventh career postseason triple-double in Game 3 on Saturday night, has been dominant at times throughout the postseason, helping the Warriors come together after Durant suffered a calf injury in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets. Green opened up about just how much his mindset changes when the postseason begins.

“When I finish the playoffs every year I’m exhausted,” Green said. “And more so mentally than physically because I view these games like life or death. Like I’ll be stressed out the entire playoffs. It’s like a life-or-death situation for me. That’s how I view it. And so when you have that mindset and you’re viewing it that way, it’s easy to raise your game because it’s bigger than just that particular game. And so there’s been times when I’m like, ‘Dude, I’m putting too much strain on myself. Too much stress on myself.’ And I can’t change it because this is the times I live for.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“This is what I enjoy most. This is what you play for, this is what you train for, to be at your best at this time of year, to try to win a championship. And so when you look at it from that standpoint, which is the way I look at it, it makes it a lot easier to step up to that challenge because you’re playing for something so much bigger than to win that game.”

Green has thrived in the postseason since entering the league in 2012, and like many on the Warriors’ roster, he acknowledged the grind of an 82-game regular season is tougher to handle after years of long playoff runs and the stress that comes with them.

“For me personally I kind of view the season in three different parts,” Green said. “You come into the season and you’re ready to go. In the league, you kind of hit that point of where, ‘All right, get me to the All-Star break.’ And then you come out of the All-Star break and you’re refreshed, and you’re ready to go again. And that works and that happens for like two weeks and then it’s like, ‘Get me to the playoffs.’ You feel like you’re getting life at each one of those moments. And for me personally once you get that new life in the playoffs, it’s the playoffs. If you got to find life again in the playoffs you’re going home. And you should. It’s the part of the year I love. It’s the part where you’re playing for all the marbles. If you can’t get up for this, what can you get up for?”

Jets ship LB Lee to Chiefs after GM shake-up

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It didn’t take long for New York Jets interim general manager Adam Gase to make his first trade.

The team on Wednesday night agreed to send linebacker Darron Lee to the Kansas City Chiefs for a 2020 sixth-round pick. The trade appeared on the NFL’s official transactions wire Thursday.

Gase inherited personnel power earlier Wednesday, when general manager Mike Maccagnan was fired after four seasons. Gase, hired in January as the head coach, will serve as the interim GM until a new one is hired.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Maccagnan picked Lee in the first round of the 2016 draft. His days were numbered as soon as the Jets signed middle linebacker C.J. Mosley to a record-setting contract in free agency. They tried to trade Lee during the NFL draft last month, then declined to exercise his fifth-year option.10

Lee was the 20th overall pick in 2016. It was a curious choice, because at 6-foot-1 and 232 pounds, he seemed small to play inside linebacker in the 3-4 defense. The coaching staff downplayed the size factor, saying he fit the growing trend of fast linebackers who could play in space against spread offenses.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The former Ohio State standout struggled in his first two seasons, especially against the run, but he showed signs of improvement in 2018. He made three interceptions — the first three of his career — including one returned for a touchdown.

Lee felt he had played well enough to earn Pro Bowl consideration, but his season came to an abrupt end after the 12th game, when he received a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He has yet to comment publicly on the matter.

Because of the suspension, Lee’s 2019 base salary of $1.84 million is no longer fully guaranteed; by rule, the guarantee was voided. The Jets had no intention of exercising his fifth-year option for 2020, which would have been an estimated $10 million.

In the Jets’ way of thinking, Lee became expendable when they signed Mosley to a five-year, $85 million contract in free agency. Mosley will replace Avery Williamson, who will slide over to Lee’s former spot — the weak-inside linebacker position.

Williamson’s $8 million salary is guaranteed, and there was no chance that the Jets would eat that much money.

Cubs’ Zobrist remains on leave amid divorce

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Cubs veteran Ben Zobrist remains on a personal leave of absence from the team, and court documents filed in Chicago indicate he is getting divorced.nfl nike jersey cheap

According to the documents, his wife, Julianna, is listed as the plaintiff. Julianna Zobrist is a professional singer who has performed the national anthem for teams that her husband has played for. She also sang “God Bless America” before Game 4 of the 2016 World Series between the Cubs and Indians at Wrigley Field.9

Zobrist, 37, is in the final season of a four-year contract that he signed with the Cubs after beginning his career in Tampa Bay in 2006. He helped the Kansas City Royals win the title in 2015 and did the same the following season with the Cubs.

The team has not given an official reason for his absence, which began May 8, nor a potential return date.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“I feel for him,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Having gone through that process myself, it’s no fun. For him to do it under these circumstances, we’re going to respect his privacy. There is no timeline involved. He’ll let us know.”

Zobrist was hitting .241 with 10 RBIs in 26 games prior to taking his absence from the team.

Butler after 76ers’ 36-point loss: ‘We laid an egg’

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Brett Brown became a meme, Joel Embiid was mocked by Raptors fans the way he normally mocks opponents, and the 76ers suffered one of their worst losses in the franchise’s postseason history in a 125-89 defeat Tuesday night.

The Sixers now trail the Raptors 3-2 in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

“I think we laid an egg,” guard Jimmy Butler said after the 76ers coughed up 19 turnovers leading to 31 Toronto points and failed to crack 100 points for the fourth time this series.
By halftime, Philadelphia had more personal fouls (16) than made field goals (14), and the Sixers’ two All-Stars, Embiid and Ben Simmons, struggled as much as anyone. The duo combined for seven turnovers in the first half, which was more than the field goals and assists they combined to register in that span (six).cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Embiid, still reeling from the upper respiratory infection that limited him in Game 4, finished with 13 pcheap nike nfl jerseys wholesaleoints on 5-for-10 shooting (2-for-6 from 3), six rebounds, one assist and eight turnovers. In the past five postseasons, only two players have finished a game with one or zero assists and eight or more turnovers: Kevin Durant in 2016 and Embiid, who has now done it twice, as he matched his one-assist, eight-turnover game in the first round against the Miami Heat last year.10

“It sucks,” Embiid said. “I know I got to do a better job for us to win. I got to do the little things. When I’m needed to score the ball, I got to show up. Setting screens, I got to do a better job of rebounding the ball. So that’s on me. … I just got to do more.”

Embiid played one of his finest games as a pro in Game 3 against the Raptors, putting up 33 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks to put the Sixers up 2-1 in the series. In the two losses since, he has totaled just 24 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.

When the Sixers center checked out of Game 5 for good with 9:05 remaining in the fourth quarter, fans in the stands at Scotiabank Arena — including Canadian rapper Drake, the Raptors’ global ambassador — spread their arms out and mimicked Embiid’s airplane celebration that he broke out after his late windmill dunk in Game 3.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Embiid hasn’t been able to help the Sixers land a win since.

“I just saw them shake their bodies,” Embiid said of the fans. “I didn’t pay attention about what the hell they were doing. Good for them. … I don’t care if it offends anybody, but what I do is all about having fun. I don’t care. And I’m going to do that because I know I’m going to dominate.”

Kyrie Irving’s failed leadership tells the story of the Celtics’ failed season

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cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesaleAt first, it seemed like things were going to be just fine.

When the Boston Celtics convened for media day back in September, they were the heavy favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in this season’s NBA Finals, and arguably no team in the league had a brighter road ahead.

Brad Stevens saw something different.

“I knew going in that it was going to be super challenging, but October screamed it,” the Celtics coach told ESPN recently. “I knew after the first two exhibition games, it was going to be really, really hard.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

It turned out to be harder than he could have imagined. And in the end, it was too difficult to overcome, as Boston suffered a fourth consecutive loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday to crash out of the second round of the playoffs.9

This was not what was supposed to happen to a team that made the conference finals the past two years — and then added a healthy Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to the mix.

There are plenty of reasons to explain why this season was so hard, and why these Celtics were so disappointing. At the root of all of them, though, is Irving — and, more specifically, his leadership through words and actions on and off the court.

Those comments became the guideposts of this long, strange trip of a season in Boston, the things that — in retrospect — were signaling to the world how hard this was turning out to be for the Celtics.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Irving’s words not only defined the Celtics’ disappointing season; they help to explain how a season that was supposed to mark Boston’s return to the top of the sport instead left all involved searching for answers.