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Bears GM: Playoff misses did in Smith

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Bears GM: Playoff misses did in Smith

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) The Chicago Bears had too many playoff misses and too many problems on offense. That's why general manager Phil Emery fired coach Lovie Smith.

The Bears let Smith go Monday even though they won 10 games.

Missing the playoffs for the fifth time in six years and the inability to fix the offense were simply too much to overlook, so they cut ties with their coach after a nine-year run that included three division titles, two NFC championship game appearances and a trip to the Super Bowl.

``Our No. 1 goal has to be to win championships and to win championships we must be in contention on a consistent basis,'' Emery said. ``And to be in contention, we have to be in the playoffs on a consistent basis. Five out of the last six years, we have not been there. We have fallen short.''

He pointed out that while the Bears consistently boasted an effective defense under Smith with stars such as Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and later Julius Peppers, they never could get it right on offense. Smith had four offensive coordinators during his tenure. The Bears made big trades for quarterback Jay Cutler and receiver Brandon Marshall, but they continued to struggle through the years whether it was because of poor play-calling, poor execution or poor blocking.

Either way, the team is moving on. Emery had discussions with chairman George McCaskey and president Ted Phillips, but ultimately, the decision to change coaches was his.

Now, the search is on.

Emery said Tuesday he'll be interviewing potential replacements over the next two weeks and would like to have one in place by the college All-Star games later this month. A person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press they will interview Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy this week. Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan and Atlanta Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong are also expected to interview, according to reports.

Emery wouldn't rule out candidates with defensive backgrounds or college coaches. He was also asked if special teams coordinator Dave Toub is in the running.

``No one's been excluded,'' Emery said. ``We have some excellent coaches on our staff and I'm not excluding anybody.''

He also said he has no preference for a 4-3 or 3-4 defense, but added the personnel is geared for a 4-3.

The coaching search isn't the only big issue facing the Bears at the moment.

Urlacher has an expiring contract and could be gone after being limited by injuries this season. He was slowed by a knee issue and missed the final four games because of a hamstring problem. Emery was noncommittal about the eight-time Pro Bowl player's future.

Then, there's Cutler. Are the Bears convinced he is the long-term solution for them at quarterback?

He has one year left on his contract, and although Emery talked about building around him, he also said `` That answer is going to come as we move forward with a new head coach.

``Am I convinced that Jay has the talent to be that? Yes, I am.,'' Emery said. ``I'll say the same thing that I said this summer: I see Jay as a franchise quarterback. We've got to build around him. That's been the goal from the beginning, to build around Jay and to build our team toward championships.''

For now, Emery is focused on finding a coach.

He replaced the fired Jerry Angelo after last season with the mandate that he keep Smith for at least this year. With lofty expectations, the Bears won seven of their first eight games before everything crumbled. Yet, Emery insisted having to work with the coach for a year didn't set him back in executing his long-term plan.

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Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Lightning will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Lightning game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals (34-18-7) take on the Lightning (39-17-3) Tuesday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Washington.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME ON?

The Capitals-Lightning game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Lightning
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Lightning game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Taylor Chorney

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals-Lightning game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

CAPITALS-LIGHTNING OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 20, 22 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

Galette to be a valued free agent

Originally published 12/13/17

Like the Redskins, the Broncos are no longer relevant in 2017. Both teams’ fan bases have started to look towards the coming offseason.

To give their readers what they want, the Denver Post published an article by Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus that discussed some of the top pending free agents who have done the most to increase their values in the past year. There were two Redskins named, one you would expect to see on such a list and one that might surprise some people.

Kirk Cousins is at the top of the list. “The Washington signal-caller is grading as a top-10 quarterback (82.8), and soon he’ll have the long-term contract of one,” Renner wrote. “Only this time its value will be exponentially higher than any one he would have signed back when he first became a free agent in 2016.”

But the surprising name is that of Junior Galette. After missing the last two seasons with two torn Achilles tendons, he played this year on a one-year, $800,000 deal. And while he hasn’t been on fire in the sack department with just two on the year, he has been getting pressure on the passer.

“He’s accumulated the 27th-highest pass-rushing grade of any edge defender this season, but in only 264 snaps,” wrote Renner. “At 29 years of age, it’s doubtful he ever gets back to the level of the contract that he once had on the table with New Orleans. With how he’s played this season though, some pass-rush-needy team will pay handsomely for his services.”

One team that could be considered to be pass rush needy is the Redskins. Preston Smith is the starter and supposedly one of the Redskins’ top pass rushers. But in 100 fewer pass rush snaps this year, Galette has only three fewer quarterback hits than Smith and six more hurries.

And after missing those two seasons, Galette has remained healthy. Although he was limited with a hamstring during much of the preseason, he has not missed a practice or appeared on an injury report this year.

But would the Redskins be willing to pay him “handsomely”? Perhaps a good comp would be Connor Barwin, who moved from the Eagles to the Rams this past offseason at the age of 31. He had five sacks in Philly in 2016. That got him a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.

Barwin likely will have more sacks on his ledger going into free agency so let’s say Galette could command around $3 million. Perhaps he could offer Washington a bit of a hometown discount and agree to something in the $2.75 million range. If that is the case, the Redskins would be smart to keep him around for another year.

Plenty of things could alter the equation. If Galette gets hot in the last three games and posts a few more sacks his price could rise. With Smith and Ryan Kerrigan both back next year, perhaps Galette will want to go somewhere that he might get more playing time.

The details need to be sorted out but don’t be surprised if Galette gets a lot of attention in free agency, as much as teams need pass rush, and if the Redskins have to make a very tough decision about how much he is worth.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 9
—NFL Draft (4/26) 65
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 201