Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins

Derek Holland’s love of wrestling, levity keep White Sox from tapping out on season


Despite struggles on the mound and being a part of a team with one of the worst records in baseball, White Sox pitcher Derek Holland knows the importance of levity in a clubhouse.

Before a late June game against the Yankees, Holland pedaled into the Chicago clubhouse on a scooter wearing an Adam West-era Batman mask and a bright-red tanktop. With his arrival, the mood among his Chicago teammates lightened considerably.

Status heading into series: 45-46, 2.5 out of a wild-card spot
The bright side: The lineup remains powerful — eight players have at least 11 home runs— and they’re as healthy as they’ve been all season. A rotation topped by Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels absolutely could win a playoff series or two.

On the other hand: The division is out of reach (the Astros own a 16.5-game lead), which means they’re in a glut of teams competing for a wild-card spot. Trading Darvish, who’s a free agent after the season, could bring back a nice haul, and it’s possible he’d re-sign there after the season. The club gave Andrew Cashner a one-year deal and he’s been solid (3.54 ERA), so maybe he could bring a mid-level prospect in return. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy is a free agent after the season, too, and though he hasn’t been great at the plate this year, he’d still be an upgrade for many contenders.

Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks
Question: Do you have a theory on all the home runs?
Answer: “I think it’s probably because pitchers are throwing harder and the ball’s coming off the bat faster. I think that’s really the only explanation for it.” broncos_132

Berry sure doesn’t like it.


“The tag is always an option, and it’s something we’ll use if necessary,” Colbert said. “We have until March to make the decision … this thing is very fluid. It changes daily, once you start into talks with players and start to see how it’s all going to fit. We know that’s an option.

“Even if we were to use the tag on Le’Veon, we would certainly want to do something long-term and have him be a member of the Steelers for life.”

Colbert had the same sentiment on Brown, who was a sixth-round pick of the Steelers in 2010 and is entering the final year of his contract. Brown has had four straight seasons of at least 100 receptions and led the league in catches in 2014 and 2015. His 136 receptions for 1,834 yards in 2015 broke his own franchise records set a year earlier, when he established a team record with 13 touchdowns.

“I can say that Antonio is the only one we’re in specific negotiations with now,” Colbert said. “I can say unequivocally that we want Antonio Brown to retire as a member of the Steelers just as we want Le’Veon Bell to retire as a member of the Steelers.”

This labor agreement still has three years to run (it’s a 10-year deal, signed in 2011 and due to expire in 2020), but it’s never too early for players and the union to lock these feelings away, don’t let them trickle away in the flood of other day-to-day football issues — and push to ditch a system that, by and large, they can’t stand.

Berry sure doesn’t like it. If the football gods allow it, he could still be around three years from now, and he’ll be able to relay his tale of hating the tag. Here in 2017, he’s in line to get tagged for the second straight offseason, meaning the Chiefs are far less likely to sign him to a long-term deal.

They both want one, of course. The Chiefs are still fine with him not having one, though — and with the fact that they don’t really have to negotiate one until they’re good and ready, thanks to the tag.

Chicago fans boo Mitchell Trubisky at Bulls-Celtics game


Newly drafted Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was welcomed by Chicago fans with some boos during Game 6 of Bulls’ NBA playoff series with the Boston Celtics, according to ESPN.

The Bears made a shocking move to trade up to select Trubisky at No. 2 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft on Thursday; Chicago made a deal with the San Francisco 49ers, moving up just one spot in return for giving the 49ers a third- and fourth-round pick this year (picks 67 and 111) and a third-round pick in 2018.

Part of fans’ frustration is the shock that came with picking Trubisky. The Bears signed quarterback Mike Glennon to a three-year deal with $18.5 million guaranteed in the offseason (which was also highly criticized).

You would think a decision like this would involve input from the coaches, but Chicago’s front office was operating by itself. Perhaps they don’t feel too confident in Fox’s future with the franchise considering this is a move that will affect the team for several years.

As for Pace and McCaskey, they clearly saw a guy they wanted, and they took drastic measures to make sure they got him. In addition to the major trade, they set smokescreens, as Mortensen noted, with reports just the day before that they were looking to trade down.

Pace had a necessary seal of secrecy within his own organization because at least two teams, including the Cleveland Browns, had discussed potential trades within the top of the draft to select Trubisky. But Fox, as head coach, was indeed involved and well aware of the options, including the one that led to Pace’s decision to swap the No. 3 slot for the 49ers’ No. 2 slot and subsequently land Trubisky.

6 NFL draft predictions that will surprise you early


Twists and turns happen every year: players sliding out of the first round, big trades, and kickers getting picked early. Here are a few curveballs to watch for on draft night.

He repeated it three times. Belichick then preached ball security, preparation and four familiar concepts, starting with the one that gets the most attention and even has its own hashtag: “Do your job” (or #DYJ).

“I know that term gets thrown around a bit, but to me it’s not ‘Do your job,’ it’s ‘Do your job well,'” Belichick said. “We’re not getting paid to show up, we’re getting paid to perform well professionally.”

Pay attention. Work hard. Put the team first. Belichick has weaved simple coaching concepts into a process that has formed a NFL dynasty stretching two decades.

This isn’t the Belichick you’re used to seeing on TV. Instead of the hoodie, Belichick wore a designer suit with matching lavender shirt and pocket square. Instead of delivering monotone two- and three-syllable answers, Belichick dove into a speech delving into a coaching philosophy that has produced five Super Bowl championships with the Patriots — with detailed examples for every step.

He was a great runner. He was good at reading defenses, sometimes fooling them completely, and flicking an easy deep ball. From last season against Bama:

Jim Kelly spoke at some length about his nephew in an Associated Press article in 2015. He said his nephew had a “very special arm.”

Welcome back! Here’s Friedman’s “30 Thoughts” from this week to follow along to.


L.A. wants an offensive-minded coach, huh? Give Kirk Muller a call. Also, I can’t wait to see how an offensive coach handles that roster. It probably indicates that Blake is ready to start some major overhauls throughout the Kings’ system. I bet Kings fans would welcome it.

OK. I’m not the biggest Dean Lombardi fan, mainly because of his USA Hockey roster management. But sending Friedman on a wild goose chase about the Keystone Pipeline? Mad respect.

I hope Denver coach Jim Montgomery gets a look at the NHL, but it might not happen this year with the market flooded with quality NHL coaches.

Justin Faulk. Jaccob Slavin. Ryan Murphy. Now Noah Hanifin is being brought up in Hurricanes trade circles? I don’t know what to believe anymore, because three of those guys would be untouchable on any other team.

Following the 2002 season Rooney, then head of the league’s diversity committee, sought to establish more opportunities for minority coaches to have opportunities in the NFL. The eponymous “Rooney Rule” stated that teams must interview at least one minority candidate in a hiring process for head coach, or senior football positions.

The rule has had a lasting impact on the NFL. At the start of the 2006 season, 22 percent of high-level coaches in the league came from minority backgrounds, compared to just 6 percent before the rule was implemented.

Current Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, who is hispanic, credits Rooney in part for his job.nike_bears_410-223x223

The Sidney Jones situation is different.


Reed: Realistically, this pick came down to how much and what kind of risk the Colts are willing to take with a second-round pick. They could go for an off-field risk and take OLB Tim Williams or RB Joe Mixon, both great values at this point in the draft at positions of need, or an injury risk in CB Sidney Jones. As Stampede Blue writer Matt Danely pointed out in his article, Four Draft Prospects Who Won’t be on the Colts Board, it’s unlikely either Williams or Mixon are selected by the Colts. I doubt Chris Ballard risks taking Williams after multiple failed drug tests at Alabama. I doubt Ballard risks the PR backlash of taking Mixon.

The Sidney Jones situation is different. As we all know, Jones tore his Achilles and requires at least another four to five months of rehab. However, he didn’t have any injury concerns during his lengthy career at Washington. Additionally, an Achilles injury is not the career ender it once was. Players like Terrell Suggs and Steve Smith both came back from it and produced at a high level. In general, major injuries haven’t deterred teams from taking high-quality players early.

J.J.’s little brother has seen his projection rise to Round 1. T.J. Watt, who is more of a second- or third-round talent than worthy of a top-30 draft choice, likely won’t go as high as current projections have him.

He tested well and is more than just a high-motor edge player, but Watt’s projection is situational and upside-driven. If he gets drafted in the first round, it’ll quickly become clear he was a reach.

The complete opposite of McDowell, Barnett does not offer great length, athletic upside or projection, but he is about as reliable character- and work ethic-wise as one can ask for in a prospect.

That said, drafting a prospect without great athletic upside in Round 1 is a trap. Barnett’s projection is reliant on the fact that he’s a snap anticipator. His rush moves that were successful in college might not work consistently in the NFL.

Vikings vs. Seahawks 2017 game preview: Percy Harvin is back


Percy Harvin will be making his debut for the Seattle Seahawks and, yes, he’ll be playing against his former teammates on the Minnesota Vikings. This is a big deal, and makes this game eminently watchable.

Otherwise, Sunday’s game is admittedly not a big a matchup. The Seahawks will almost assuredly be going to the playoffs and the Vikings almost assuredly will not. The fact the game is in Seattle where the Seahawks have now won 12 straight means that the Vikings will likely be heading home with a loss in tow.

But that Harvin subplot, man — How much will he play? Are his legs back? Has he been healthy for weeks now, and preparing in wait to blow up against the team that traded him? — should make this game fun to watch.

Carlisle deserves immense respect for pulling a team starring Seth Curry, Yogi Ferrell, Harrison Barnes, and Dirk Nowitzki to relative respectability. A playoff nod would have gotten Carlisle into the conversation.

Now I’ve spent the last three years quietly hoping this outcome would happen. Gold medals are cool and I like international hockey, but not if it costs my team a Stanley Cup.

I mean, I feel bad for the players. Alex Ovechkin is a wonderful human being and I want him to be happy.

But I’d also like him to be healthy and win a Stanley Cup, y’know? Or Carey Price. Or Henrik Lundqvist. And so on.


The Cavaliers stink now, but will this carry over to the playoffs?


There’s no getting around this: Cleveland’s defense is straight up bad. It’s the worst defense a LeBron James team has had in more than a decade. Even when it seems as though the Cavaliers are set up for a narrative-changing course correction, they give up 100 points.

Offense: Giovani Bernard, Running Back, Cincinnati Bengals: No change here. For the last month or so, Giovani Bernard has been the pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Eddie Lacy and Zac Stacy have a chance to push him, but Bernard has made a consistently positive impact on his offense since the beginning of the season. His workload is only getting bigger, so expect big things from him down the stretch.

Week 11 in the NFL had blustery wind conditions, important matchups with playoff potential and larger questions at quarterback. It still gave us a few excellent plays, and the strangest Terry Bradshaw moment of the season.

The Cincinnati Bengals needed to find creative ways to fight through the wind whipping through Paul Brown Stadium. Andy Dalton struggled to fight through crosswinds in a Week 10 game against Baltimore, and on Sunday the team tried a touch of trickery when they needed to go deep.

Johnson, who is regarded as one of the nicer and more level-headed players in the NFL, did the smart thing by walking away instead of adding fuel to the fire. He headed to the locker room with a couple of seconds still left on the game clock, though all Oakland had to do at that point was just take a knee at that point. The loss marks Houston’s eighth straight loss, and the fifth time they’ve lost by five points or fewer.


Ichiro Suzuki wants to play until he’s 50


‘We have also begun work on an information portal for our campus to answer questions, and share policies and guidelines as they are developed through the UA System,’ he said.

They converted a fourth-and-10 with Brady hitting Rob Gronkowski for a big gain. New England crossed midfield and then deeper into Carolina territory when the Panthers were flagged for pass interference with 12 seconds to play. With four seconds to play and at the Carolina 18-yard line, Brady fired a last-ditch pass toward the end zone which was intercepted.

The first half was much rougher on the USMNT in this match than their game on Friday, struggling to even get coherent attacks going at times. Panama realized quickly that the referee was going to be on the lenient side with his whistle and took full advantage of it, playing an extremely physical defense that left US attackers bruised and wondering where their help was supposed to come from.

Listen, we know it’s tough to catch up on everything happening in the baseball world each morning. There are all kinds of stories, rumors, game coverage, and Vines of dudes getting hit in the beans every day. Trying to find all of it while on your way to work or sitting at your desk just isn’t easy. It’s OK, though. We’re going to do the heavy lifting for you each morning and find the things you need to see from within the SB Nation baseball network, as well as from elsewhere. Please hold your applause until the end, or at least until after you subscribe to the newsletter.

It was a Jekyll and Hyde performance from the Colts.


Fast-forward. The team finally has a superstar, arguably its first. The franchise demanded that Cam Newton become a star. He was a Heisman winner who wasn’t Chris Weinke, a proven champion who was supposed to finally bring consistency to a woefully unreliable team.

Newton arrived in the NFL with an expectation things would come naturally and was humbled 19 times as the Panthers had back-to-back losing seasons. The young quarterback came under fire for his demeanor, his attitude and his towel.

Osmosis was supposed to pull success from Newton into the Panthers, but playing for this team leached it from him instead. Slowly, the ultra-competitive quarterback began to become complacent, the player that seethed and abhorred losing fell into the well-worn treadmill of stock statements and media placation. Carolina was once again soulless, and it felt like there was no lack of urgency starting with head coach Ron Rivera.

Morris carried the ball just nine times in the second half, erasing Washington’s good first half tendencies and reverting to bad habits. Unable to control the clock the team faltered, while the Vikings had less success on the ground, but they better understood that making Adrian Peterson the focal point would give them success.

It was a Jekyll and Hyde performance from the Colts. The team’s defense allowed two rushing touchdowns from Chris Johnson in the first quarter while struggling on offense. Protection wasn’t there for Luck, and he was routinely pressured, which killed the deep passing game. Trent Richardson wasn’t able to run, receivers weren’t getting open and even turning to trick plays was ineffective.