Redskins

Jets hire Seahawks exec John Idzik to be GM

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Jets hire Seahawks exec John Idzik to be GM

NEW YORK (AP) John Idzik will try to turn things around for the troubled New York Jets.

Woody Johnson believes he's up to the massive task.

The Jets hired the Seattle Seahawks executive to be their general manager Friday, completing an interview process that began two weeks ago and included 10 candidates.

The 52-year-old Idzik, the Seahawks' vice president of football administration, was selected by Johnson and team president Neil Glat.

He beat out Pittsburgh executive Omar Khan and Jets assistant GM Scott Cohen, among others, for the job that opened when the Jets fired Mike Tannenbaum on Dec. 31 after seven seasons.

Idzik's primary strengths include managing salaries and the salary cap, but has also worked in player personnel - a unique combination that attracted the Jets. He has been with the Seahawks the past six seasons after previously working in the front offices of Tampa Bay and Arizona.

``It has been very enlightening getting to know Mr. Woody Johnson, Rex Ryan and Neil Glat and I am very grateful for them making me feel very welcomed as a member of the Jets family,'' Idzik said in a statement issued by the team. ``I am eager to get started building on the foundation that is already in place.''

Idzik will be formally introduced at a news conference next Thursday at the team's facility in Florham Park, N.J.

Idzik will have the final say on all personnel decisions, while Ryan's status in the decisionmaking process will not change from what it had been in his first four seasons.

Both Idzik and Ryan will attend Senior Bowl workouts in Mobile, Ala., early next week. Ryan met with Idzik late in the process, with the two discussing their football philosophies - but Ryan had no influence on the hiring.

The Jets were the last of seven teams needing to fill their GM spot this offseason after Cleveland hired Michael Lombardi for their vacancy earlier Friday. New York used Jed Hughes of Korn/Ferry International to aid them in the search, which began on Jan. 4 and included Tom Gamble, David Caldwell, Jerry Angelo, Marc Ross, Ted Sundquist, Brian Gaine and Randy Mueller as candidates.

Johnson, Glat and Hughes were present for all interviews, while Ira Akselrad, president of The Johnson Company, Inc., was in for several of them.

``After a thorough search in which we met many qualified and outstanding candidates, it was clear to me that John was the right choice,'' Johnson said in a statement.

Idzik, who has a math degree from Dartmouth, will face immediate challenges with the Jets. He will have to make decisions on whether to keep quarterbacks Mark Sanchez, who is due $8.25 million in guarantees next season and would cost the Jets a $17.1 million cap hit if they cut him, and Tim Tebow, who is not expected back after one disappointing and unproductive season.

New York is also about $19 million over the salary cap, but could quickly get under by releasing a few veteran starters such as linebackers Bart Scott and Calvin Pace. The Jets have several starters scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, including safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, defensive lineman Mike DeVito, running back Shonn Greene, offensive linemen Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson, wide receiver Braylon Edwards and kicker Nick Folk.

Another potential challenge for Idzik will be working with Ryan, who was kept by Johnson despite the team finishing 6-10 last season and missing the playoffs for the second straight year.

At a season-ending news conference last week, Johnson defending retaining Ryan by saying the coach ``has a rare ability,'' and added that potential GM candidates would have to be willing to work with Ryan.

That setup - having a coach already in place for an incoming GM - was considered a possible drawback by some, but both Johnson and Ryan insisted it would not cause any hangups in finding a replacement for Tannenbaum.

``I'm pretty sure I'll have the exact same agenda that the general manager will have and that's, we want to win,'' Ryan said last week. ``I know that I don't know who the general manager is, but I promise you, he wants to win as bad as I do and that's something certainly we'll lean on.''

Ryan's coaching staff will look markedly different next season with all three coordinators gone as well as several assistants. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine left to take a similar position with Buffalo, but Ryan promoted close friend Dennis Thurman, the team's defensive backs coach, to replace Pettine.

Special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff retired after the season, and will be replaced by assistant Ben Kotwica.

Embattled offensive coordinator Tony Sparano was fired after just one season as the Jets finished 30th in overall offense after dealing with several injuries and inconsistent play by key players. He will be replaced by Marty Mornhinweg, who spent the past 10 seasons with Philadelphia, including the past seven as the offensive coordinator.

Sanchez continued to regress under Sparano, who replaced Brian Schottenheimer, and was benched late in the season. Sparano also couldn't figure out how to effectively use Tebow, who was expected to have a major role but instead barely saw the field in most games.

Idzik, a native of Detroit, graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth in 1982 and played wide receiver for the Big Green. He and his wife Carol have a daughter and two sons, including Bradley Idzik, a sophomore wide receiver at Wake Forest.

Before joining the Seahawks, Idzik spent three seasons as the senior director of football operations for Arizona.

He spent the previous 11 years with Tampa Bay, working his way up from pro personnel assistant to assistant general manager and helping build the Buccaneers' team that won the Super Bowl in 2003.

Idzik has also served as an assistant coach at Duke, SUNY Buffalo and Aberdeen of the British American Football League.

Idzik's father, John, was a longtime NFL coach, including a stint as the Jets' offensive coordinator from 1976-79.

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Need to Know: Tandler's Take—Drafting a running back early not a cure-all for Redskins' ground game

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Need to Know: Tandler's Take—Drafting a running back early not a cure-all for Redskins' ground game

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 18, 24 days before NFL free agency starts.

Tandler’s Take

The topic for today’s post comes from Twitter:

When I asked for topics for this post, the subject of the running game came up with several of them. And since John brought up the draft, let’s look at that as a potential solution.

Let’s first establish that the Redskins’ running game was not good enough last year. I don’t need to spend a bunch of time on this but here are some numbers. They were 28th in rushing yards and 29th in yards per carry. If you like to weigh more complete metrics, they were 28th in rushing DVOA. If you want to look at a key situation, they were last in the league in yards per first-down rushing attempt. Last year a team gained 100 yards rushing or more 274 times. The Redskins got there five times.

I’m going to leave it at that here since, again, if you’re reading this you probably watched a lot of their games and you don’t need to be persuaded that the running game was largely unproductive. Yes, there were injuries that had the offensive linemen playing snaps just days after being signed and the broken leg suffered by Chris Thompson and Rob Kelley’s various ailments. But the Redskins haven’t ranked higher than 19th in rushing yards since Jay Gruden became the head coach. Rushing game struggles are an ongoing issue.

I am going to work on the premise that those who advocate having the Redskins improve their running game via the draft are talking about drafting a running back in the first or second round. That may be overgeneralizing but that gives me a good-sized chunk of data to work with and still be able to analyze it in the 1000 words or so I am allotted here.

I’m also going to call a 1,000-yard season the minimum that would be expected out of a back drafted in the first two rounds. There are other ways a back can contribute, of course, and we can deal with them separately.

From 2010-2017, there were 45 thousand-yard rushing seasons by players who entered the league during those years (all data via the indispensable Pro Football Reference unless noted). Twelve of them were accomplished by players drafted in the first round. Six came from second-round picks, six from third-rounders, four from the fourth, three from the fifth, four from the sixth and none from the seventh. Oh, and there were 10 thousand-yard seasons that came from undrafted players.

It should be noted that four of those seasons from undrafted players came from the Texans’ Arian Foster. And two each came from LeGarrette Blount and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. So those 10 thousand-yard seasons should not be seen as an indication that there is a treasure trove of running back talent going undrafted every year.

Back to the first and second rounders, the combined 16 thousand-yard seasons doesn’t mean much in isolation. How many backs were drafted in the first two rounds in that time? How many opportunities have they had to post big seasons?

In the past eight drafts, 34 running backs were drafted in the first and second round. That group has had 170 opportunities to post a 1,000-yard season. What I mean by opportunities is the number of seasons that have elapsed since the player was drafted. The six backs drafted in the first two rounds in 2010 have each had eight chances to gain 1,000 yards in a season so they have combined for 48 opportunities (6*8). There were five backs drafted in the first and second seven seasons ago, so there have combined for 35 opportunities, and so on. Through the eight years that adds up to 170 seasons.

The combined 16 thousand-yard seasons in 170 opportunities comes to a success rate of 9.4 percent when it comes to reaching the bar that most fans would set as the minimum.

A couple of things need to be pointed out here. There are some backs like Giovani Bernard, Shane Vereen, and Christian McCaffrey who do not have any big rushing seasons on their resumes but have been valuable catching passes out of the backfield. And some like Dalvin Cook, who was injured after a promising start last year, and McCaffrey seemed destined to have 1,000-yard seasons in their futures. So all of the backs who have not gained 1,000 yards in a season are not necessarily draft busts or failures.

But here are first-round running back busts, just like there are busts at every position. There were 12 running back picked in the first round of the past eight drafts. Javid Best, David Wilson, and Trent Richardson clearly were disappointments (the former two struggled with injuries). Doug Martin, Ryan Mathews, and C.J. Spiller have had some success but perhaps not enough to justify being first-round picks. It took Mark Ingram a while, but he got rolling in his sixth NFL season. I want to see more out of McCaffrey before judging him and Melvin Gordon needs to continue his upward trajectory. It’s safe to say that even with small sample sizes of data in the books on Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette they were home runs. So was Todd Gurley.

So out of 12 first-round backs in the last eight years, you have three clear busts, three moderate disappointments, four top-level performers (including Ingram) and two TBD.

In any case, it’s clear that just drafting a back early is not a panacea for a struggling running game. Blocking (from both the line and the receivers and other backs), play calling, scheme, and some intangible factors like attitude (as Brian Mitchell will tell you) all play into the success and failure of moving the ball on the ground.

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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2018 NBA All-Star Game: TV and live stream info, rosters, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

2018 NBA All-Star Game: TV and live stream info, rosters, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

The 2018 NBA All-Star Game is here with the annual showcase set for Los Angeles.

Here is all you need to know: TV and live stream info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

2018 NBA ALL-STAR GAME

Where: Staples Center
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: TNT
Online with no cable TV: fuboTV (try for free)

ROSTERS

TEAM LEBRON:

Coach: Dwane Casey, Raptors
LeBron James, Cavaliers
Kevin Durant, Warriors
Kyrie Irving, Celtics
Anthony Davis, Pelicans
LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs
Bradley Beal, Wizards
Goran Dragic, Heat
Andre Drummond, Pistons
Paul George, Thunder
Victor Oladipo, Pacers
Russell Westbrook, Thunder
Kemba Walker, Hornets

TEAM STEPHEN:

Coach: Mike D'Antoni, Rockets
Stephen Curry, Warriors
James Harden, Rockets
Joel Embiid, 76ers
DeMar DeRozan, Raptors
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves
Draymond Green, Warriors
Klay Thompson, Warriors
Al Horford, Celtics
Damian Lillard, Blazers
Kyle Lowry, Raptors
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves

PODCAST: ALL-STAR WEEKEND PREVIEW, WIZARDS AT THE BREAK 

Three things to watch...

New format

The NBA switched it up this season by doing away with the traditional matchup between the East and West. The teams were instead chosen by captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry, the two top vote-getters in All-Star fan voting. The idea was to breath new life into the All-Star Game and hopefully make it more competitive. The league also installed a system where the winners each get $100,000, $75,000 more than the losing team. 

All pro sports leagues struggle drawing interest with their All-Star showcases. They are always trying to get ratings up and this is the latest ploy by the NBA. The new format is definitely intriguing, but whether it will have a major impact on the competition itself is hard to tell. We'll see how the fans respond.

RELATED: JOHN WALL GIVES UPDATE ON HIS REHAB

Reunion time

The teams picked by James and Curry will give fans some throwback combinations with former teammates back together again. Team LeBron is full of them. James will reunite with Kyrie Irving, who essentially forced his way out of Cleveland over the summer after the two combined to reach three straight NBA Finals and win one title.

We will also see Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook play together again. They of course teamed up to win a lot of games with the Oklahoma City Thunder before Durant signed with the Warriors. Westbrook will also be reunited with Victor Oladipo, who was traded from OKC to the Pacers over the summer.

RELATED: WIZARDS/BULLETS HISTORY ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Beal's All-Star debut

Wizards fans will of course be focused on Bradley Beal, who is making his first All-Star appearance. He is Washington's lone representative, as John Wall is still recovering from left knee surgery.

Beal may not get many minutes on a stacked roster of guys who have been in the game before. If that happens, it's probably for the best. Beal is currently fifth in the NBA in total minutes played. He needs the rest if he can get it.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS