Jack Del Rio’s culture change has brought smiles all around Raider Nation that have been absent for over a decade

“My rookie year, [Allen] switched up the schedule and kind of like manipulated the mind,” All-Pro defensive end/outside linebacker Khalil Mack said. “You wake up later and all that stuff.

In fact, it was Reece who hailed Del Rio in training camp as being the catalyst for culture change, just as Madden did a few weeks ago.

“The team just needed a man; they needed an adult running them,” Madden told the San Jose Mercury-News. “They [tried] the young guys, the new guys, the inexperienced guys, and that didn’t work. When Jack Del Rio walks into a room, a man just walked in the room.”
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A man with a hearty NFL resume, one that includes 11 seasons, a Pro Bowl nod and one gnarly story to tell about the time he got into a knockdown, drag-out fight with Chiefs legend Otis Taylor during the 1987 strike. Del Rio, in his first season playing for the Chiefs, scrapped with Taylor, an older team employee who was leading replacement players outside the facility, and pictures of the brawl — Del Rio’s fashionable mullet and all — were immortalized in the pages of Sports Illustrated.

The status of safety Tyrann Mathieu for Sunday’s game at Miami is in the air after he missed Wednesday’s practice because of a lingering shoulder injury. Coach Bruce Arians didn’t seem optimistic that Mathieu will be returning anytime soon, saying he was surprised Mathieu is still dealing with the issue. The Cardinals appear to have found a routine that works for WR John Brown, who has been dealing with symptoms related to carrying the sickle-cell trait.
Which school will be this year’s Ohio State and dominate the early rounds?

Who’s the underclassman who could use another year of development?
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McShay: All of the underclassman quarterbacks (see above). Texas A&M wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones, too.

Buccaneers hire Mike Smith as new defensive coordinator

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hired Mike Smith as their new defensive coordinator, new head coach Dirk Koetter announced on Friday. Smith, formerly the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, sat Elite Youth Tommy Wingels Jersey out the 2015 season.

Smith got his start in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens, first as a defensive assistant coach and later as a linebackers coach. Smith joined the staff of the Jacksonville Jaguars as their defensive coordinator in 2003. After a disastrous 2007 season, the Falcons hired Smith to take over for Bobby Petrino, who snuck out of Atlanta Authentic Barry Bonds Jersey in the middle of the night after a Week 13 loss to accept the head coaching job at the University of Arkansas.

The Browns fired Mike Pettine this offseason after a 10-22 mark in two years. He dropped 18 of his final 21 games as head coach. Jackson will have more to worry about than the underperforming offense, however — the Browns ranked 27th in the league in total defense.

Jackson served as Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator in 2015 and was previously the team’s running backs coach and assistant special teams coach. Prior to joining the Bengals, he spent one season as head coach of the Oakland Raiders and led the team to an 8-8 record.

The Raiders were a team in turmoil at the time and his struggles didn’t seem to follow him to Cincinnati, where Dalton developed a nice rapport with wide receiver A.J. Green under Jackson’s watchful eye. Under Jackson, Dalton posted a quarterback rating of 106.2 in 2015, much higher than the 83.5 he had in 2014.

Jackson has been coaching in the NFL since he joined Washington in 2001. That was after several years of coaching in college. He was the Bengals’ wide receivers coach from 2004 to 2006 and also spent time with the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons.

This is the first offseason in which Jackson’s name rose to the top of lists for coaching candidates, likely due to his strong work with Dalton and the Bengals in 2015.

Ramirez on HOF ballot despite steroids cloud

In case you missed it two weeks ago, David Ortiz filed the paperwork with Major League Baseball that made the inevitable official.

Big Papi is retired.

Authentic Mens Kevin Kiermaier Jersey So, although Ortiz still occasionally walks through the doors of Fenway Park (he recently wrote for The Players’ Tribune that he surprised team officials last month when he dropped by to work out), the Boston Red Sox must get on with replacing their iconic slugger — or at least his production in the middle of the lineup.

Eric Winston Limited Jersey In this weekly series, we identify players available in more than 40 percent of ESPN leagues at each position. Some nominations are purely specialists capable of helping in one or two categories, while others deliver more diverse and important statistical offerings. Either way, we believe the names below-ordered by ownership rate at each position-can contribute positively to fantasy rosters.

Jeremy Lin, Brooklyn Nets (Owned in 54.3 percent of ESPN leagues): With coach Kenny Atkinson’s up-tempo scheme in place, the Nets lead the Eastern Conference and are second in the NBA with 103.9 possessions per 48 minutes. This inflated pace drives increased opportunities for the team’s lead guards. Lin has missed the past 14 games with a lingering hamstring ailment, but becomes a valuable ball distributor once he returns to action. In his small sample at the helm of the offense this season, Lin ranks 14th in the NBA in drives per game and fifth in both touches per game and in pull-up points per game, suggesting a rich offensive role waits for patient investors.

This week’s edition of the fantasy basketball Insider cheat sheet looks at the Warriors’ potential for regression, how to replace Mike Conley and the Timberwolves’ struggles.

So it will take a while before we completely grasp the effect of this change on teams and players alike. But one thing to file away is this: It’s the first time the union has ever agreed to any sort of hard cap in any area. Interesting.

A dignified twilight, a la Tim Duncan, isn’t likely for Dirk Nowitzki

Limited Kids Patrick Ewing Jersey It feels strange, unsettling even, to watch the San Antonio Spurs face the Dallas Mavericks with neither Tim Duncan nor Dirk Nowitzki on the floor.

But it will soon be the norm.

Duncan, of course, is done for good. His No. 21 jersey will be raised to the AT&T Center rafters on Dec. 18, months after he announced his retirement in typical Timmy fashion, which means minimizing the fanfare as much as possible.

The end is near for Nowitzki, who watched Wednesday’s 94-87 loss to the Spurs from the end of the Mavs’ bench, wearing a gray suit instead of his white No. 41 jersey. Nowitzki has missed all but five games this season, his 19th in the league, as he has been nursing a sore right Achilles tendon since the season opener. He hopes to complete the two-year, $50 million contract he signed over the summer, which would allow him to join Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant in the 20-seasons-with-one-team club, but Nowitzki has always said he will listen to his body and hang up his Nikes when basketball is no longer fun.

Right now, the 38-year-old Nowitzki is mired in basketball misery. His Mavs (3-14) have the NBA’s worst record, and Nowitzki can do nothing to help, as he is sidelined for at least the rest of the week.

“It’s hard to listen to him,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said. “The dude bitches like a m—–f—–.”

Can you blame the big German? The Mavs’ bottoming out and the bummer of his bad health follow five frustrating years of mediocrity, which featured a grand total of five playoffs wins for the franchise, after Dirk finally delivered an NBA championship to Dallas.

“Guys are learning to play in an environment that is very realistic, as opposed to the nirvana that he’s provided here for close to two decades,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “The one thing that I think this period should point out to historians of the game is his level of greatness. It’s just another strong indication of how great he has been [and] is and the kind of impact he has. When he’s out there on a consistent basis, it’s a game-changer.”
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SI’s Peter King projects trade between NFC East rivals for Marcus Mariota

Peter King of Sports Illustrated took a shot at forecasting the first 15 selections of the 2015 NFL Draft on Wednesday morning and projected a big trade that would land Marcus Mariota with the Philadelphia Eagles.

SB Nation’s Dan Kadar predicted a similar trade last week, although Kadar guessed a trade could happen between the Tennessee Titans and Eagles for the No. 2 pick. King projected the trade to Case Keenum Youth Jersey happen with Washington and the No. 5 pick.

While trades between divisional rivals are rare, particularly those involving a quarterback at stake, King defended the logic on Twitter by pointing to a trade in 2010 between the same two teams that sent 33-year-old Donovan McNabb to Washington in exchange for a second-round pick and a conditional mid-round pick. Still, it would represent a monumental shift away from typical draft logic if a team gift-wrapped a 21-year-old franchise quarterback prospect like Mariota to a division rival.

It’s unclear if Jackson is considering retirement or if he’ll see if he can catch on with a team in 2015. There’s no shortage of teams looking for a starting running back, but there’s also no shortage of big-name backs on the open market. Even in the aging veteran space, there are better options, such as San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore. On top of that, this NFL Draft class is strongest at running back. It could be tough for Jackson to find a team in 2015.

Atlanta drafted Devonta Freeman in 2014, but doesn’t have much at the position and will likely Cody Wichmann Youth Jersey be looking for more running back help, either on the free agent market or the NFL Draft.

Make no mistake: I can still punish a defense. I still have a warrior’s heart. There are 1,000-yard seasons left in these legs. I know what I am still capable of, and I have every intention of proving it.

In the post, he also thanked the Falcons, owner Arthur Blank and the city of Atlanta for the way he was treated during his two seasons with the team.

Fantasy football cheat sheet: Start, sit and more tips for Week 12

With many fantasy football fans watching from a turkey-filled table on Thursday, Week 12 of the NFL season got off to an early start with a trio of Thanksgiving games. For those owners who had to square off against the likes of Antonio Brown, Ezekiel Elliott, Jordan Reed, and perhaps even Donte Moncrief and Anquan Boldin, you may wake up this morning finding your opponent’s scoreboard looking quite stuffed indeed.

The good news is, because there are no byes Joe Schobert Womens Jersey this week, you still have plenty of opportunity to catch up. However, if you’re already looking at a huge double-digit deficit, you may well wish to roll the dice and take a few Hail Mary chances on Sunday.

Which wide receivers have the easiest and toughest matchups in Week 12? Check out the downloadable PDF cheat sheet listing every matchup to help with your fantasy football decisions.

“Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way, and that’s the feeling I’ve gotten from this season,” Giacomini said.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, coming off one of his best seasons in 2015, has been searching for answers this season.

1. Steep falloff at quarterback: Fitzpatrick hasn’t recovered after unraveling in the fourth quarter of the 2015 finale, when he threw three interceptions in a devastating loss to Buffalo. That was an eye opener for the organization, which proceeded with caution during contract negotiations because it feared his career year was an aberration. It was. His 67.6 passer rating is the eighth-lowest Joe Thomas Womens Jersey among NFL starting quarterbacks since 2010. Counting the Buffalo debacle, he has thrown 16 interceptions in his past 10 games. It’s virtually impossible for a team to overcome something like that.

It’s unfortunate because Fitzpatrick was good last season, damn good at times. Go back and watch that Dec. 27 game. On the play before Decker’s touchdown, Fitzpatrick rolled left and fired an across-his-body fastball to Brandon Marshall for 20 yards, splitting two defenders. It took skill and chutzpah to make that pass. Moments later, he took something off his throw to Decker, dropping a feather into his grasp.

Fastball. Change up. Fitzpatrick had it all working last season. Now he’s struggling the find the strike zone.

As key as the 13-yarder was, especially against Norman, the 26-yarder was the game clincher and showed Bryant’s growth as a receiver.

Once again, Dallas QB Dak Prescott shows he’s a closer

There is something about the fourth quarter that Dak Prescott loves. When the game is on the line, Prescott is at his best.

Twice Thursday when the Dallas Cowboys absolutely had to have it, Prescott answered. The rookie quarterback completed six of his seven passes in the fourth quarter as the Cowboys matched Washington touchdown-for-touchdown on the strength of Prescott’s arms and legs.

The result was a 31-26 Cowboys Dan Williams Authentic Jersey win that extended their win streak to 10, kept them atop the NFC East by at least two games, no matter the results of Sunday, and kept them as owners of the best record in the NFC and NFL.

It’s difficult to compare quarterbacks from different eras for two primary reasons. First, not all of the official statistics of the modern era were always kept; for example, sacks weren’t officially recorded until 1982. Second, passing has varied significantly throughout the years, so stats such as the traditional passer rating are fairly meaningless when comparing a player from 2016 to one from 1970.

We do have a few common measures of quarterback performance we can rely on to compare passers across eras. Total yards, pass attempts and interceptions can all be boiled down into a stat known as adjusted yards per attempt (AYPA).

Yards per attempt is one of the best ways to measure quarterback play because it’s a rate stat that’s highly predictive of winning games. The “adjusted” part subtracts 45 yards from the yardage total for every interception a quarterback throws before dividing by attempts; the 45-yard adjustment has been shown to be roughly the yardage equivalent of an interception.

To remedy the problem of different passing environments Dave Casper Authentic Jersey across eras, we can compare each quarterback’s AYPA with the league average for that season. For example, Prescott’s AYPA is 9.2 so far this season, while the league average is currently 7.2. That means Prescott exceeds the league average by a net of 2.0 AYPA.

Fixing the NFL’s ball-spotting methods isn’t as easy as you think

We’ve been here before. Many times. And to be perfectly honest, and understanding that I’m going to be a complete buzzkill, there really isn’t much that can be done to fix it right now.

You saw it Monday night. A running back with an $8.5 million salary took a handoff from a quarterback who makes $21 million. He is tackled near the first-down marker by a linebacker earning $3 million, a play watched by millions Justin Blackmon Authentic Jersey of people on a broadcast for which the rights-holder is paying nearly $2 billion annually.

The NFL is a $13 billion industry, one of the most lucrative in the world. And yet when it came down to marking the ball for a potential first down, referee Tony Corrente and crew followed what seems to us all a primitive ritual. Using their best judgment, they placed the ball on the ground below where they thought it was suspended when the running back was down by contact.

But if you want to see officiating administered differently and the spotting of balls made more reliable, it’s important to know what the realistic options are. At the moment, there aren’t as many as you think.

Facing fourth-and-1 at the Houston 39 with just more than a minute to play and clinging to a seven-point lead, the Raiders went for it and Latavius Murray busted off a 6-yard run to essentially seal the game, especially with the Texans’ Vince Wilfork getting flagged for a personal foul after jumping on top of Murray.

“We fear nobody — that’s what Coach Del Rio teaches us,” Carr said.

The Raiders, coming off their bye week, improved to 8-2 and hold a one-game lead in the AFC West Kelvin Beachum Authentic Jersey over the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos. If the playoffs started today, the Raiders would be the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

“We have worked for it. But we know when we get there, we’re going to be humble,” Carr said of the team’s success. “We are going to remain humble. As soon as you get proud, you will fall.”

Not that he has similar fears for Harden or Westbrook.

“I always tell people that, in my declining years, I played with the best front line in basketball,” Archibald said. “That was Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish and my best friend Cedric Maxwell.”

Archibald likewise doesn’t deny that the crazy load he Bryce Salvador Authentic Jersey carried in 1972-73, averaging a hard-to-believe 46 minutes per game for the Kings in their first season splitting time between Kansas City and Omaha, came with a price. Three times in the ensuing five seasons before he landed in Boston, Archibald played in 35 games or fewer thanks to various injury issues.

“Back then was what I call the ‘black and blue era,'” Archibald said. “You saw a lot more handchecking and body-slamming.

“That first season in Kansas City … new team, new building, new life. Cous gave me the ball and said, ‘Your ball, your team, you make it happen.’ Cous wanted the team to be like the team that he used to play for [in Boston], where only guards handled the ball.

“I was in shock mode when he did that. I think he saw a glimmer in me that he saw in himself. I always tell people, Bob Cousy to me is like a stepdad.”

With a 4-5 record, a loss to the Titans on Sunday Cory Schneider Authentic Jersey would all but end the Colts’ chances to win a division title. Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire
While Manning and the rest of the 2006 Super Bowl team will be honored at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday, the Colts are in danger of wasting Luck’s talent, and it’s uncertain when they’ll have enough talent on their roster again to get back to at least the AFC Championship Game.

Indianapolis is 4-5 and a loss against the Tennessee Titans will make it near impossible for the Colts to win the AFC South — a division that lacks major star power — and make the playoffs. They haven’t missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons since 1997-98. The Colts have never been under .500 through the first 10 games since 2011, when Manning was injured and Luck was still at Stanford.

Flacco and Lewis, who were teammates for five seasons (2008-12), couldn’t have been more different in terms of their approach to the game. Flacco has always been stoic, and Lewis was vocal and fiery.

Diamondbacks hire former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire as bench coach

Ron Gardenhire will be the bench coach for new Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo.

Gardenhire, 59, managed the Minnesota Twins for 13 seasons and gives Lovullo an extremely experienced right-hand man.

With 13 seasons as Twins manager under his belt, Ron Gardenhire takes his talents to the Diamondbacks, as their bench coach.

If baseball players could be replicated in laboratories, Bryant would be the prototype. His swing is effortless, his power undeniable, and his baserunning is off the charts. If he settled on one position there’s no telling what he could become on defense; that he can play all over the field makes him even more special.

“It was good for me to move around,” he explained. “I was a little nervous playing out in the outfield. Ultimately it allowed me to separate the game into defense and offense.”

“I don’t want to be that person people Cordarrelle Patterson Authentic Womens Jersey look at, too cocky, or anything like that,” Bryant said.

Bryant likes to think “good guys finish first.” Next comes marriage — the gifts are already arriving at his parents’ house in suburban Las Vegas, but these are from fans Bryant has never met.

Undoubtedly Cubs enthusiasts would say he already has. He was a human highlight reel in 2016, and of his many signature games, his best came on June 27 against the Cincinnati Reds. He went 5-for-5 with three home runs and two doubles. It was the first of his two five-hit games in 2016 to go along with a four-hit, six-RBI affair earlier in the year against the Reds. His second five-hit game came in August against the Milwaukee Brewers and featured two home runs and a double. Those performances solidified his MVP candidacy and helped the Cubs to a runaway division title.

“You want to continue to get better,” he said. “Win more World Series.”

Already determined to get back Cris Carter Authentic Womens Jersey to work, Bryant accepted the MVP award sitting in his dad’s hitting cage where he spent hours last winter preparing for his run to history. Is there any doubt the face of the Chicago Cubs will put the work in again? You can count on it.

“I’m kind of getting bored sitting around here,” Bryant said.