12

The Sean McVay era is here, but good luck replicating what the Rams’ coach has done

He understands it so much so that the Los Angeles Rams’ defensive coordinator seized the opportunity in front of a large media contingent to offer the credentials of his son, Wes Phillips, who is a tight ends coach for the Washington Redskins.

“Wes is a young offensive coach that knows Sean McVay,” Phillips said, serious as ever, “if anybody is looking for a head coach.”

The room laughed. And it seems far-fetched, yet somehow it wouldn’t be shocking if Wes Phillips’ phone began to ring.

Call it the Sean McVay Effect.

The Rams hired McVay in January 2017, when he was 30 years old, making him the youngest head coach in modern NFL history. He took a 4-12 team that had suffered a 12-year playoff drought and clinched a division title in his first season. In his second season, the Rams again won the NFC West. It was the first time since 1979 that the team had won consecutive division crowns.cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Last week, McVay, 32, became the youngest head coach in NFL history to produce a playoff win, with a 30-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC divisional round. And on Sunday, with a win over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game at the Superdome, he could become the youngest head coach ever to advance to the Super Bowl.12

“It’s something that, when you get a chance to play for one game away, that’s exactly why you do all this hard work,” McVay said. “We’re going to go there and give it our best shot and compete to the best of our ability and see what happens.”

But regardless of Sunday’s outcome, McVay’s tenure in L.A. is already considered a resounding success and is leaving an impression around the NFL. Teams across the league are in a hurry to find the next McVay — a coach who can offer an explosive brand of offense and be a quarterback guru. The Rams average 32.9 points per game, and under McVay, Jared Goff went from bust to boom.

The Cincinnati Bengals appear set to hire Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, another 30-something offensive coach, who has spent two seasons with McVay (including one as receivers coach) and has prior NFL experience with the Bengals and the Miami Dolphins.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

And the Arizona Cardinals opted for an unconventional hire in Kliff Kingsbury, a 39-year-old who was fired after producing a losing record in six seasons at Texas Tech but — as a (since-modified) Cardinals news release pointed out — “is friends with Rams coach Sean McVay — the 32-year-old offensive genius who has become the blueprint of many of the new coaching hires around the NFL.” Before Kingsbury accepted the position, McVay extended to him an invitation to join the Rams’ staff as an offensive analyst for the playoff run.

When one league executive was asked via text message whether the McVay-like hires were a trend or a coincidence, the executive responded only with a link to the famous “McDowell’s” scene from “Coming to America.”

12

Fantasy Premier League: The pros and cons of Marcus Rashford

When the two strikers faced off on Sunday, it was Rashford who had the upper hand. His goal decided the match and helped Manchester United pick up their biggest win since sacking Jose Mourinho. Since the change in management, the Englishman has started every match scoring a fantastic four goals while also recording an assist. In fact, over that period his England contemporary and opponent this week, Harry Kane, is the only striker to be involved in more goals (seven). As for shots on target, no other forward has recorded more than Rashford’s 12 over the past five matches, with teammate Paul Pogba the only player overall to have recorded more overall (15).china nike nfl jerseys cheap

That last stat may be a nice little hint as to just how effective Manchester United have been in attack since the hiring of Solskjaer. In his brief managerial tenure at the club, the Red Devils have led the league in goals scored, assists, and shots on target, and sit second in chances created. Compared to those statistics under the previous administration, this has been a massive improvement at the club. The result of this has been incredible as 42 percent of Manchester United’s wins, and 34 percent of their goals, have come in the five matches since Solskjaer took charge.12

Naturally this outstanding on-pitch improvement has bled into fantasy and, while Pogba has likely been the biggest beneficiary, Rashford has quietly re-established himself as one of the best strikers in fantasy. While his overall ranking does not necessarily flatter him in the ESPN game (45th), he has recorded a tier-high 85.9 points over the past five matches, with Kane and Salah being the only forwards to have recorded more points over that stretch. There’s more to Rashford’s game than just goal scoring though — his creativity has significantly boosted his value this season as his six assists lead his tier on the season.

There’s more to Rashford’s recent form than just the managerial change, it’s also how he’s been deployed. All five of the 21-year-old’s starts under Solskjaer have come as a forward, a position from which six of his seven goals have come this season. The strange thing is, despite his usage by previous managers, this is by no means a new trend. Ever since the Louis van Gaal days it was evident that Rashford was better up front than when shifted out wide. Unfortunately for the latter, the signings of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku in consecutive seasons meant Rashford had to play on the left in order to get any meaningful minutes. Over his young career, 64 percent of his goals have come when playing up front, and this is certainly evidenced in fantasy as well. When playing as a striker this season, Rashford averages 12.25 points, just about four points better per game than when playing anywhere else. That number would make him a top-20 player in the league, and the best in his tier.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Whether or not, Rashford can keep this up does remain to be seen, however. He has already scored as many goals (seven) as he ever has in a Premier League season, while already having recorded the most assists in his career (six). Fantasy wise, he boasts 203 points in our game, which is within 50 points of his total from all of last season. Of course, the main reason he’s already reaching his season-high marks is playing time. Rashford is currently on pace for 2170 minutes, just about 400 more than he’s ever played before. If he keeps up his current rates of production, he could be in line for a 12-goal, 10-assist season.

11

Emery says Arsenal can sign only loan players … and the reason should worry fans

Last week, Arsenal boss Unai Emery said something surprising: “We cannot sign players where we have to make a payment … we can only make loan signings.” That’s not what you’d expect to hear from a club that is six points away from fourth place and in danger of finishing outside the Champions League spots for the third successive season after 19 consecutive years of playing in the world’s biggest club competition.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Nor is that what you’d expect from a club that ranked sixth in the most recent Deloitte Money League, boasts the second-highest average attendance in the Premier League and has made a profit every year since 2008. (Most recently, they reported profits of £44.6 million in 2017, followed by £25.1 million in the first six months of the following season.)

To some, Emery’s words brought to mind the mid-to-late Arsene Wenger Era, in which the club sat on enormous cash reserves. The manager said they could buy players, but they wouldn’t do it “for the sake of it,” and supporters blamed the owner, Stan Kroenke, for being stingy.11

It’s not quite like that now. Emery would happily spend money if he could. Rather, Arsenal offer a case study of how big decisions from newcomers, made in a short time, can have massive knock-on effects. Their situation illustrates how hard it can be to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

One was the decision to re-sign Mesut Ozil. Like Sanchez, he was six months away from free agency, and he, too, wanted a big bump in salary: from $9.6 million to $20 million-plus. Arsenal chose to extend his deal through 2021 at something close to his requested wage.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Finally came the signing of forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a club record £57.6 million. Aubameyang had been on the market the previous summer, but Wenger opted instead for another central striker, Alexandre Lacazette. Adding Lacazette was a sizable investment (£46.5 million rising to £52.6 million with bonuses), though at that stage, he had gone nine consecutive games without a goal, and his return to that point (nine in 27) wasn’t earth-shattering.

Aubameyang, on the other hand, had scored 69 goals in 79 Bundesliga games the previous two years. While there were some reservations about his character — he missed training sessions in Dortmund and tried to engineer a move away the previous summer — they ultimately agreed to both the fee and a wage packet of some $12.8 million a season through 2021, nearly twice what Lacazette had agreed to six months earlier.

12

Former MLB pitcher John Wetteland arrested on child sexual abuse charge

John Wetteland, a former All-Star and World Series MVP, has been charged in Texas with continuous sex abuse of a child under age 14.

Wetteland, 52, was arrested Monday and freed on $25,000 bond, according to Denton County jail records. Wetteland lives in the Dallas-area suburb of Trophy Club.

Bartonville Police Chief Bobby Dowell said the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services contacted his office last week. After an investigation, an arrest warrant was issued for Wetteland, who was taken into custody by Denton County sheriff’s deputies.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Dowell said that because of the nature of the offense and the stage of the investigation, he had no further details to release. DFPS spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales said details of the agency’s cases are confidential.12

According to a consolidated complaint and probable cause affidavit, Wetteland is accused of having a child perform a sex act on him, beginning in 2004 when the child was 4, and that it happened twice more during a two-year period.

The Associated Press was not able to contact Wetteland or his attorney for comment.

Wetteland was the Most Valuable Player of the 1996 World Series when he was with the New York Yankees. He’s also been inducted into the Texas Rangers’ Hall of Fame.

Wetteland, a three-time All-Star, had 330 saves over a 12-season career that also included stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Montreal Expos. He also had a 48-45 career record with a 2.93 ERA.

In 2009, while Wetteland was on the Seattle Mariners’ coaching staff, authorities responded to a 911 call from his home in Texas. Media outlets reported that Denton County authorities described the call as a mental health issue, saying Wetteland was contemplating suicide.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Wetteland said in a statement at the time that “the circumstances leading to my elevated blood pressure and heart rate have been addressed.”

The Rangers, with whom Wetteland has no current role, issued a statement Tuesday saying they “have been made aware of this situation and have no further comment.”

12

James Harden sets Rockets record with 36 first-half points

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni worried Monday that James Harden was “dog tired” and would have to carry an even heavier burden with the news that a thumb injury would sideline center Clint Capela for four to six weeks and leave Houston without three starters.

Harden’s horrible 3-point shooting in Sunday’s road loss to the Orlando Magic hinted that fatigue might be a factor for the reigning league MVP. However, Harden responded by scoring a season-high 57 points Monday night, continuing his historic run by carrying the Rockets to a 112-94 home win over the Memphis Grizzlies.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

“What he just did, we kind of take it for granted a little bit,” said D’Antoni, who recorded the 600th win of his NBA coaching career. “It’s like, ‘Oh, look at that, isn’t that cute? It’s 57!’ I mean, on dead legs and he played 43 minutes last night. It’s beyond impressive. It’s rare that people can do what he’s done, if anybody.”12

Harden indeed entered rare air with his 17th consecutive game scoring at least 30 points. It’s the longest such streak since Wilt Chamberlain had 20 straight 30-plus-point performances in 1964. The only other players with streaks of 16 straight 30-point games since Chamberlain were Kobe Bryant in 2003 and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1972.

Harden, who has led the Rockets to a 13-4 record during this run, shrugged at being part of such exclusive company.

“The win was important,” Harden said. “I’ve got to get some rest tomorrow and be ready to go Wednesday. Same thing.”

Harden extended his streak with time to spare before halftime. He scored a team-record 36 points in the first half, one shy of Vernon Maxwell’s franchise record for points in either half.cheap nfl nike jerseys free shipping

Harden, who finished three points shy of his franchise record, was 17-of-33 from the floor, including 6-of-15 from 3-point range, and 17-of-18 from the free throw line before receiving a standing ovation when he exited the game with 3:35 remaining.

The Rockets had lost three of their previous five games entering Monday, and MRI results revealed ligament damage in Capela’s right thumb that sources say will need to be surgically repaired. With guards Eric Gordon (knee contusion) and Chris Paul (hamstring strain) still out, the Rockets’ spirits easily could have sagged.

Harden didn’t let that happen, scoring two-thirds of Houston’s points in the first half while D’Antoni tinkered with the rotation, quickly opting to play small lineups when 36-year-old fill-in starting center Nene Hilario rested.

11

NBA clears Cavaliers of wrongdoing in Patrick McCaw signing

The NBA has cleared the Cleveland Cavaliers of any wrongdoing in their brief alliance with forward Patrick McCaw.

At the urging of the Golden State Warriors, the league investigated Cleveland’s signing of McCaw as a restricted free agent before releasing him. cheap nfl jerseys from china nike McCaw played two seasons with the defending champions but did not re-sign with them last summer. The Cavs signed him last month to a two-year, $6 million offer sheet, which the Warriors chose not to match.11

McCaw played in three games for the Cavs and was waived before his contract became guaranteed. He signed with Toronto last week.

The league said Monday it found “no violation of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, including the anti-circumvention rules.”cheap nfl jerseys nike china

The Cavs could have forfeited a draft pick had they been found guilty of any offenses.

12

James Bettcher’s first season came with giant limitations

Bettcher is a coach accustomed to leading top-10 defenses, which he did in each of his three seasons as a coordinator in Arizona. He is used to playing uber-aggressively and attacking opposing quarterbacks with blitzes from every direction. His Cardinals defenses were 10th, second and first, respectively, in blitz percentage each of the previous three seasons.

Things were certainly “different” in his first year with the Giants, beginning with Bettcher failing to command a top-10 defense for the first time in his career. It wasn’t what the Giants or Bettcher were expecting when he was hired last offseason. The Giants finished 24th in total defense (371.4 yards per game) and 22nd in weighted DVOA (42 percent).china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Hamstrung by a lack of lack of talent and inexperience, this was an unfamiliar Bettcher defense. The Giants blitzed only 26.3 percent of the defensive snaps, which was 22nd in the NFL. That was significantly less than when Bettcher blitzed 33-45 percent of the time in his three years with the Cardinals.12

“Different place. Different players. Every situation is different,” Shurmur said. “No different than working on offense if you have a different style of quarterback. You have to maximize the strengths of the players you’re working with. Same here. Our roster looks a little bit different than it did in Arizona, so he’s trying to do what he can to try to get the most out of our players.”

Three of the four top-paid players on the roster are on offense. Gettleman used the No. 2 overall pick on running back Saquon Barkley. His top free-agent acquisition was left tackle Nate Solder, who signed the largest contract in NFL history at the time for an offensive lineman, and his biggest move since taking the job was signing star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to a long-term deal that made him the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history. Four of the Giants’ past five first-round picks were also offense, offense, offense. This team is invested in its offense.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Yet the defense that itself scored three touchdowns in the second half of the season was the primary culprit for 5-11? It’s a tough narrative to accept for what another NFL executive described as a group of “mismatched parts and not many playmakers.”

It seems a strange approach to deflect blame from an offense that took time to get accustomed to Shurmur’s new scheme and get its offensive line in order. The second half of the season was better, but it was already too late.

12

Chelsea prepared to report Bayern to FIFA over Hudson-Odoi – sources

Chelsea are prepared to file a complaint against Bayern Munich to FIFA if evidence is found of an illegal approach to Callum Hudson-Odoi or his representatives, sources have confirmed to ESPN FC.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Bayern are awaiting a response from Chelsea to a fourth bid believed to be worth around £35 million for Hudson-Odoi, and a source told ESPN FC on Wednesday that the 18-year-old has no intention of signing a new contract.

Chelsea have been angered by the public nature of Bayern’s pursuit, with sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic confirming on Wednesday that the German giants “absolutely want to sign” Hudson-Odoi this month.12

Such comments are against competition rules for Premier League clubs, but Salihamidzic’s words alone are not enough to fall foul of FIFA’s regulations.

There is widely-held suspicion at Chelsea that Bayern are coordinating their efforts with Hudson-Odoi’s camp to get him out of Stamford Bridge, though it is also accepted that accusations of “tapping up” are difficult to prove.

Chelsea remain desperate to keep Hudson-Odoi, and head coach Maurizio Sarri’s surprise decision to start him against Tottenham in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semifinal on Tuesday was part of a broader club effort aimed at convincing the winger that his future lies at Stamford Bridge.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

But after the match Antonio Rudiger revealed that Hudson-Odoi has asked him about his experiences in German football, and Bayern are increasingly confident that they will be able to complete a deal for the 18-year-old this month.

Hudson-Odoi’s contract expires in June 2020 and, as long as he remains unwilling to discuss an extension, Chelsea are mindful that his value will likely decrease significantly if he is kept at Stamford Bridge until the summer.

9

Fantasy Premier League: Which Liverpool and Manchester City players should you pick?

But enough about the FA Cup. The Premier League teams fielded weakened starting lineups, with many key players rested. Whether you watched the FA Cup this weekend or not, the last round of Premier League fixtures probably seems like a distant memory … with the exception being the final game played.nfl nike jersey cheap

Manchester City’s 2-1 toppling of Liverpool last Thursday means we still have a proper title race on our hands, to the delight of everyone besides Liverpool fans. But what did it mean from a fantasy perspective?

Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane scored the goals for Manchester City, yet finished with relatively meager points totals of 17.5 and 18.4, respectively. Fourteen outfield players in the league finished with more points than Sane, and 20 with more than Aguero. Roberto Firmino scored Liverpool’s goal, but he still finished with just 16.1 points — 24 players were ahead of him.9

The problem with this game, fantasy-wise, is that it pitted two evenly matched teams against each other, and was a virtual tie numbers-wise. Liverpool won the possession battle, but by an extremely slim margin, finishing with 50.6 percent of the ball. And the teams combined for only 16 shots — nine by Manchester City, seven by Liverpool.

Manchester City had only four shots on goal, and Liverpool had just one more. And in terms of expected goals, it finished Manchester City 1.03, Liverpool 1.24.

Aguero took three shots, and no one else on his team had more than one. Firmino and Sadio Mane led Liverpool, but took just two shots apiece.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Is this a long-term concern? It depends on which player you’re talking about.

I’m more worried about Manchester City. Even though they lead the league in goals scored, it feels like it’s becoming harder and harder to predict who will score them.

12

Ryan Broekhoff finding rhythm in the NBA madness

Dwight Powell interrupts Ryan Broekhoff’s pregame media availability and answers the question about how easy it is for the Australian to find his rhythm despite not playing consistent minutes during his rookie NBA campaign.

Broekhoff proved his Dallas Mavericks teammate prophetic against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, finishing the game with a career high 15 points and three assists in 21 minutes of court time.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“Obviously I came into this league wanting to play and wanting to compete,” Broekhoff said post-game. “Having the opportunity, with a few guys sitting out tonight, it was good. The coaching staff and the players continue to show a confidence in me to shoot the ball. Tonight some of them went in which was a good feeling.12

Broekhoff spent five years plying his trade in Turkey and Russia before coming to the NBA this season, and as is the case with a lot of rookies — even those with his basketball pedigree — he’s found it hard to come by regular minutes in coach Rick Carlisle’s rotation.

Broekhoff has appeared in just 17 of the Mavericks 39 games, and prior to Saturday, his career high of 9 points came against the Pelicans in early December. Broekhoff says he’s been adjusting to the pace of the NBA season on the fly, and is growing more comfortable as the season rolls on.

“Definitely more comfortable, just adjusting to the game, as well as the travel and schedule and how many games — and how quickly the games seem to pop up each week. But I’m definitely feeling more comfortable and more confident in myself to compete at this level,” he said.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“Although opportunities have been a little up-and-down, when I have got on I feel like I can compete with anybody that I’ve come up against. It’s been fun learning and adjusting to all that.”

To go back to Powell’s statement, Broekhoff, who entered the league with a reputation as a sharpshooting marksmen, admits it’s been difficult to find that rhythm when entering a game given his sporadic — at best — minutes.