Redskins

Jaguars hire Fisch, Babich as coordinators

Jaguars hire Fisch, Babich as coordinators

New Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley turned to former colleagues for his first two hires.

Bradley hired Miami Hurricanes offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch to the same position Saturday, charging him with remodeling one of the league's worst offenses. And Bradley hired longtime Chicago Bears assistant Bob Babich as defensive coordinator.

The 37-year-old Fisch could be Bradley's most important addition.

The Jaguars ranked 29th in the league in total offense this season, slightly better than their last-place finish in 2011.

Fisch spent the past two years as Miami's play-caller and quarterbacks coach, and his pro-style offense was consistently one of the most efficient in the country. The Hurricanes made significant progress in his second season, gaining 63.3 yards more a game and improving their scoring average by nearly a touchdown.

His biggest task in Jacksonville will be getting better quarterback play.

The Jaguars won just seven games the past two seasons with Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne and Luke McCown taking snaps.

Former general manager Gene Smith traded up to draft Gabbert with the 10th overall pick in 2010, but the former Missouri standout has made little progress during 24 starts.

Gabbert completed 58 percent of his passes for 1,662 yards in 2012, with nine touchdowns and six interceptions, before getting benched and ending the season on injured reserve. Gabbert is recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder.

Henne started the final six games, finishing with 2,084 yards passing, 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Both quarterbacks played behind a shaky offensive line - they were sacked a combined 40 times - and didn't have the benefit of having star running back Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) for the entire season.

Nonetheless, it was clear that neither would be a long-term solution at an all-important position.

New general manager Dave Caldwell said last week that he has ``others in mind'' to compete for the starting job.

Fisch has nine years of NFL experience, including working alongside Bradley in Seattle in 2010. He also has worked under Mike Shanahan, Brian Billick and Steve Spurrier.

Babich, meanwhile, has 29 years of coaching experience, including 10 in the NFL and six as a college head coach. With Bradley coming from a defensive background, he's likely to take a hands-on approach with a unit that ranked 30th in the league last season and last in sacks.

Babich spent the past nine seasons (2004-12) in Chicago, six years as linebackers coach and three as defensive coordinator. He also served as linebackers coach for St. Louis in 2003.

Prior to his NFL tenure, Babich spent six seasons as head coach at North Dakota State (1997-2002), where Bradley served as assistant.

Babich also spent time as an assistant at Tulsa (1984-87, 1990), Wisconsin (1988-89), Bowling Green State (1991), East Carolina (1992-93) and Pittsburgh (1994-96).

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Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, April 19, seven days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

We know what to expect out of many members of the Redskins. Ryan Kerrigan will register between 10 and 13 sacks. Zach Brown will be among the league leaders in tackles. Jamison Crowder will compile about 800 yards receiving. But we really don’t know what to expect out of a lot of the players expected to play key roles. Here are five of them.

S Montae Nicholson—Although most of the uncertainty surrounding Nicholson is about his health, we really don’t know what he can do over a full season. Sure, he looked good in the six games he played last year but opposing offenses did not have much of a chance to probe his weaknesses. If he stays healthy, his ability to adjust to what the offenses are doing against him will be the next phase of his development. 

CB Fabian Moreau—As a rookie, he was impressive as a punt team gunner, but he got very limited playing time on defense (59 snaps, only seven after Week 5). The Redskins will be counting on him stepping into a bigger role after the departures of Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller. He has the tools but we won’t know how well he can handle the job until he gets extended playing time. 

WR Maurice Harris—Last year he went from spectacular to invisible in a hurry. He made a sensational catch for 36 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings the first time he was targeted. In five games after that, he had just three receptions for 26 yards. Should he have had more playing time (76 snaps)? Or did he just not earn more targets? The real Maurice Harris should come to the forefront in 2018.

NT Phil Taylor—You know the story here. He was looking great in training camp until a quad injury sidelined him for the season. Taylor is healthy enough for the Redskins to give him another chance but this is a player who has not taken the field since November of 2014. We simply don’t know what to expect out of him even if he does make into Week 1 in good health. 

RB Samaje Perine—His play improved as the year went on but he wasn’t good enough to keep both Jay Gruden and Doug Williams from saying that running back is a draft need. Ideally, he shares carries with the probable draft pick with a few going to Chris Thompson and they combine to rush for 1,800 yards. 

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.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 33
—Training camp starts (7/26) 98
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 143

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam during a nine-run outburst in the eighth inning that rallied the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night, preventing a three-game sweep.

Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2).

Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory against their NL East rivals.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals, who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.

Two nights later, New York returned the favor.

Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2. Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home.

After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases again, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores struck out. Lagares then lined a two-run double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.

Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto to force in a run. Cespedes connected for his sixth career slam -- the third by the Mets already this season -- off A.J. Cole, sending fans into a frenzy.

Both of Cespedes' hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.

AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets since being acquired from Miami last July.

Howie Kendrick reached on an infield single for Washington in the first and Bryce Harper drew his 24th walk, most in the majors. Zimmerman, batting .121 at that point and struggling to make opponents pay for bypassing Harper, came through with a drive to left-center off Steven Matz for his second home run of the season.

Matz steadied himself after a 33-pitch first inning and retired his final 10 batters. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fourth after throwing 74 pitches.

Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Gonzalez's single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton's RBI grounder as the Mets cut it to 3-2.

After Mets pitchers retired 16 in a row, Zimmerman's leadoff triple in the seventh got past a diving Bruce in right field, and Moises Sierra followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Zimmerman also hit a solo homer in the ninth.