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Ryan stays as Jets coach, GM Tannenbaum fired

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Ryan stays as Jets coach, GM Tannenbaum fired

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Mike Tannenbaum pulled out a letter as he stood in front of the New York Jets players for one last time.

It was a farewell address to the group of men he signed, traded for and drafted over the last seven years as the team's general manager. He choked back tears as he read it, and received a round of applause when he was done.

``It was really heartfelt,'' defensive end Mike DeVito said Monday. ``I know Mike, and he'll bounce back.''

The Jets fired Tannenbaum after a dismal 6-10 season, but owner Woody Johnson announced that Rex Ryan will be back for a fifth season as the team's coach.

``I believe that he has the passion, the talent, and the drive to successfully lead our team,'' Johnson said of Ryan in a statement.

The futures of both Tannenbaum and Ryan were unclear after a 28-9 loss to Buffalo on Sunday, a miserable finish to the team's first losing season in Ryan's four years as coach. While it appeared Tannenbaum was a likely goner, it was believed Ryan might also be on shaky ground.

Ryan's scheduled news conference with the media Monday afternoon was postponed amid speculation that there could be several changes on the coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano is expected to be fired after one season, although no coaching moves were immediately made by Johnson after a staff meeting. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's status is uncertain after he turned down a contract extension earlier in the year, while special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff retired following Sunday's game.

Johnson started shaking things up early by parting ways with Tannenbaum, who had been with the organization since 1997. Johnson said he has consulted with several ``football executives'' and also hired a search firm to help aid in finding a new GM. Former Colts vice chairman Bill Polian, 49ers director of player personnel Tom Gamble, Texans director of college scouting Mike Maccagnan, Ravens assistant GM Eric DeCosta and Raiders director of personnel Joey Clinkscales - who was previously a member of New York's front office - could all garner attention from the Jets.

``My goal every year as owner is to build a team that wins consistently,'' Johnson said. ``This year, we failed to achieve that goal. Like all Jets fans, I am disappointed with this year's results. However, I am confident that this change will best position our team for greater success going forward.''

The Jets were a team in turmoil from the moment they acquired quarterback Tim Tebow in a trade with Denver last March. The move was made by Tannenbaum and highly criticized by fans and media - and failed in just about every way.

Tebow was brought in as a backup for Mark Sanchez and expected to play a key role in certain offensive schemes. He played sparingly, and spent several weeks out of the lineup with injured ribs.

Meanwhile, Sanchez was having a poor season, the Jets kept losing and Tebow never got a chance to be the No. 1 quarterback.

``I underachieved and didn't play the way I'm capable of playing,'' Sanchez said. ``I want another crack at this thing.''

Tebow's time with the Jets began with a splashy news conference, but his one and likely only season ended with the popular backup going out quietly as he wasn't available to the media as the players cleared out their lockers.

Tannenbaum's tenure as the Jets' GM included two trips to the AFC championship game. He had two years left on his contract, but Johnson made the change after the Jets failed to make the playoffs for a second year in a row.

In a statement, Tannenbaum thanked Johnson for ``the opportunity of a lifetime'' and added that ``there are champions on this team that haven't been crowned yet.''

Tannenbaum was hired as the team's director of player contract negotiations in 1997, and served in various other roles before replacing Terry Bradway as general manager in 2006.

With a knack for navigating the NFL's salary cap, Tannenbaum was never afraid to make splashy signings or trades - Tebow, Brett Favre, LaDainian Tomlinson, Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress, to name a few. He also made his mark on draft day, bringing in some of the team's best players such as Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, D'Brickashaw Ferguson and David Harris. But Tannenbaum had more misses than hits in recent drafts, with Vernon Gholston, Vladimir Ducasse and even Sanchez high-round picks that didn't perform as expected.

The trade for Tebow was perhaps the biggest mistake. By acquiring Tebow last March, the Jets brought in a player with immense popularity to provide a spark to the offense - just a matter of days after giving Sanchez a contract extension that included $8.25 million in guarantees for next season. Many fans and media argued that rather than trade for Tebow, Tannenbaum could have addressed some of the Jets' more-pressing needs, such as the offensive line, wide receiver and depth on defense.

The next GM will face an unstable salary cap situation, along with a dozen players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, including starters Dustin Keller, LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell, Shonn Greene and Brandon Moore. Decisions will also have to be made on high-priced and aging veterans such as Calvin Pace and Bart Scott.

Meanwhile, that new GM will also have to work with Ryan, who has two years remaining on his contract and is two years removed from the second of consecutive trips to the AFC championship game.

``I'm excited that Rex is going to be here,'' Mangold said. ``I know he has a passion and a fire for this game and for this team. We have to do a better job on the field, and that starts here shortly.''

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Wizards have to find a way to stop DeMar DeRozan to climb back in series

Wizards have to find a way to stop DeMar DeRozan to climb back in series

The Toronto Raptors' best player has become a serious problem for the Washington Wizards, as they now face a 3-2 series deficit and the bleak reality that one more loss means their season is over.

DeMar DeRozan, who began this first round series with a modest 17 points in Game 1, has since raised his game to a new level to beyond even what we have seen in the past. In Games 2-5, DeRozan has averaged 31.8 points, including his 32-game outburst in Game 5 that tilted the series in Toronto's favor.

DeRozan is averaging 28.8 points through five games against the Raptors. That's up considerably from his 22.5-point career playoff average.

DeRozan scored his 32 points in Game 5 with efficiency. He shot 12-for-24 from the field and even made three of his four shots from three.

He didn't even need the free throw line like he normally does. DeRozan shot six free throws, less than his regular season average.

The Wizards are having trouble with DeRozan particularly in the first half. DeRozan is averaging 14.8 first-half points during the playoffs, second only to LeBron James. 

DeRozan had 20 points by halftime in Game 5.

"DeMar was in his element tonight," forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. said. "He got it going early. It was kind of hard to shut him off."

The Wizards are paying for disrespecting DeRozan's three-point shot. He shot just 31.2 percent from long range in the regular season, but is shooting threes at a 45.5 percent clip in the playoffs.

If DeRozan is knocking them down from outside, his offensive game is as complete as just about anyone in the NBA. He has shown in this series an impressive ability to not only get to the rim, but finish through contact or draw fouls.

DeRozan does a good job of maintaining body and ball control going straight up against Wizards' big men and is often rewarded by the referees. He shot a playoff career-high 18 free throws in Game 4.

The Wizards are actually doing a decent job of taking away his midrange shots, which usually account for much of his points. Though DeRozan is hitting an impressive 66.7 percent from 5-to-9 feet, up from his season clip of 47.6, his numbers are down from further out.

DeRozan is shooting 40 percent from 10-to-14 feet out, down from 41.5 percent in the regular season, and just 28.6 percent from 15-to-19 feet, down from 43.7.

DeRozan is hurting the Wizards from long range and within nine feet of the rim. He is taking what the Wizards are giving him and Washington has to adjust.

"We’ve gotta pretty much get it out of [his] hands. Make sure we take care of everybody else," Oubre said.

The Wizards should look to how the defended him in Game 4 as a good example of how to limit his impact. DeRozan had 35 points, but required 29 shots from the field and 18 free throws to get there. 

Washington forced DeRozan into an inefficient night and forced others to try to beat them. The result was the Wizards' best defensive game overall, as the Raptors scored a series-low 98 points.

DeRozan isn't the only defensive concern for the Wizards as they look ahead to Game 6 on Friday. Backup point guard Delon Wright scored 18 points for the second time this series and Toronto hit 11 threes in the game.

The Wizards held the Raptors to just seven threes in Game 4 and it was no coincidence they won that game. They have to lock down the perimeter and, as this series has shown, that includes DeRozan even though he isn't known for making threes.

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Wizards go cold late to drop Game 5, as Raptors take 3-2 series lead

Wizards go cold late to drop Game 5, as Raptors take 3-2 series lead

The Washington Wizards lost to the Toronto Raptors 108-98 in Game 5 of their first round playoff series on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Ice cold: When the Wizards needed it most, their offense failed them. With John Wall running the show, they can traditionally score with the best of them. But from the 4:05 mark in the fourth quarter, they went scoreless for a stretch of three minutes and 49 seconds.

Meanwhile, the Raptors converted turnovers into points to close the game on a 14-5 run. The Wizards shot brick after brick from long range and missed 11 of their last 15 shots. It was a shocking collapse in a game that had been going well for the Wizards.

By beating the Wizards in Game 5, the Raptors took a 3-2 series lead which historically means they have nearly an 83 percent chance of winning the series. Those aren't good odds for the Wizards, who can look at one area of the court to blame.

The Wizards made only five threes on 26 attempts. The Raptors, conversely, went 11-for-25 (44%) from the perimeter. The Wizards' five threes were their fewest in a game since Jan. 12.

DeRozan was a killer: As has been the case this entire series, DeMar DeRozan led the charge for Toronto. The perennial All-Star came out on fire with 20 points in the first half alone.

This time, it wasn't just free throws. He was 4-for-4 at the half, but 7-for-13 from the field and 2-for-2 from three. Usually, threes aren't his game.

DeRozan kept it up in the second half to score 32 points on 12-of-24 from the field. That's a pretty efficient night.

Otto looked a bit hurt: Otto Porter, who was held to nine points and four rebounds, didn't appear to be moving very well. He was running around with a limp, which suggests his right lower leg strain is still bothering him.

Head coach Scott Brooks said last week that Porter is 100 percent, but that doesn't seem like the case, unless there was some sort of setback in the time since. Porter, however, is such a smart player and such a good shooter that he can still make the most of his time on the court.

Solid start: The Wizards aren't used to playing well in the first quarter this series. They entered Game 5 with an average deficit of -7.2 points in the first quarter. In this game, however, they led by one point after one.

That was thanks to a buzzer-beater by John Wall (26 points, nine assists, nine rebounds). Ian Mahinmi got the offensive rebound and it set up Wall for a last-second shot. He got to one of his spots and sent it in:

It was just the second time in five games this series that the Wizards have been leading after one. The other time was Game 3, when the Wizards beat the Raptors handily to earn their first win.

The Wizards, though, couldn't finish. They also couldn't protect the ball. At least Wall couldn't, as he committed seven turnovers, one short of his playoff career-high.

Backup PGs: The Raptors again played without point guard Fred VanVleet, their best bench player and a guy who is arguably one of the best backup point guards in basketball. The loss has been evident for the most part, despite his replacement Delon Wright doing a solid job, including with 18 points in Game 5.

On Wednesday, Washington's backup point guard also shined. Despite not playing a single game during the regular season, Ty Lawson continues to make smart plays and create scoring opportunities for others.

He had four assists in this game and made one of the best plays of the night. Check out this move he put on to set up Ian Mahinmi:

And this dude was playing in China like two weeks ago? If he keeps this up, there will be an easy case to make that the Wizards should re-sign him for next season.

Clearly, they want Tomas Satoransky to play more off the ball and the coaching staff hasn't gained full trust in him. Lawson and Satoransky could make a solid reserve backcourt if they have some time to develop some chemistry.

Up next: The Wizards and Raptors are back at it on Friday night in Washington for Game 6. The tipoff time has not been announced, but the game will be aired on NBC Sports Washington.

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