Redskins

Weekend Sports in Brief

Weekend Sports in Brief

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Drew Brees set an NFL record Sunday night with touchdown passes in 48 straight games, breaking a mark set by Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas a half-century ago.

The record-setting scoring strike was a 40-yard pass to Devery Henderson against the San Diego Chargers. After the completion, Brees raced to the end zone to greet Henderson, who incidentally wears the same No. 19 that Unitas wore for the Baltimore Colts.

The rest of New Orleans' offense pursued and swarmed around Brees in celebration. Brees then took the game ball to the sideline where he continued to accept congratulations.

Unitas set the record between 1956 and 1960 and no one had come within 10 games until Brees began to close in late last season. Tom Brady has the third-longest streak, extending his to 37 games Sunday in a victory over Denver.

AUTO RACING

TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) - Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth won Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, where a last-lap crash turned defending NASCAR champion Tony Stewart upside down.

Stewart was leading the final lap but had no drafting partner as the field closed in on him. He was looking for help when he misjudged how much room he had and turned down in front of Michael Waltrip.

Waltrip hooked Stewart's bumper, and it triggered a massive accident that sent Stewart's car sailing on its side over the field. NASCAR threw the caution and Kenseth coasted to the victory.

Stewart was helped from his car by safety workers and waved to the crowd to signify he was OK. He said he caused the accident.

Jeff Gordon finished second and Kyle Busch was third.

On Saturday, Parker Kligerman picked up his first career victory Saturday in the Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, where he used a push from Johnny Sauter take the lead and hung on as a multi-vehicle wreck ended the race under caution.

BASEBALL

CLEVELAND (AP) - Terry Francona, who won two World Series titles with the Boston Red Sox, was hired as manager of the Cleveland Indians on Saturday and will take over a team that collapsed in the second half this season after a promising first four months.

The 53-year-old will be introduced as Cleveland's 42nd manager during a Monday news conference at Progressive Field, the Indians said in a statement Saturday.

Cleveland chose Francona over Sandy Alomar Jr., who served as the club's interim manager for the final six games after Manny Acta was fired on Sept. 27. Francona and Alomar were the only candidates to interview for the Indians' opening.

DENVER (AP) - Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy resigned Sunday, stepping down after the team set a franchise record for losses.

The Rockies said a search for Tracy's replacement would begin immediately. Colorado finished last in the NL West this year while going 64-98.

Tracy was promoted from bench coach to manager in May 2009. He was voted the NL Manager of the Year that season after guiding Colorado into the playoffs.

The Rockies went 294-308 under Tracy.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - South Carolina, Florida and West Virginia moved into the top five of The Associated Press college football poll after a Saturday during which nine Top 25 teams lost.

No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Oregon held their spots at the top of the rankings. Alabama was a unanimous No. 1 again. The rest of Top 25 got a makeover.

No. 3 South Carolina, off a 35-7 victory against Georgia, moved up three spots. No. 4 Florida jumped six after beating LSU 14-6. No. 5 West Virginia moved up three with a 48-45 victory at Texas.

No. 6 Kansas State, No. 7 Notre Dame and No. 8 Ohio State also moved up. LSU dropped to No. 9 and unbeaten Oregon State is No. 10.

The last time nine ranked teams lost in the same week was the weekend of Oct. 18, 2008.

PRO HOCKEY

NEW YORK (AP) - The NHL and the players' association are expected to resume labor negotiations this week in New York.

The sides are likely to meet Wednesday and Thursday in New York, a union spokesman told The Associated Press in an email. The plans and the agenda are expected to be worked out Monday.

On Friday, the sides held an unannounced meeting in Toronto to discuss where they were and how to move the process forward.

Officials on both sides were in contact Saturday and Sunday, leading to the meetings.

The lockout reached its 22nd day Sunday. The NHL canceled the first two weeks of the regular season Thursday, wiping out 82 games from Oct. 11-24.

TENNIS

BEIJING (AP) - Top-seeded Victoria Azarenka won her fifth title of the year by dominating second-seeded Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-1 at the China Open.

Earlier on Sunday, top-seeded Novak Djokovic extended his perfect record at the tournament when he defeated third-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 7-6 (4), 6-2 in the men's final.

It was the third time this year that Azarenka won a title by beating Sharapova in the final after the Australian Open and Indian Wells.

Djokovic has four titles this year, including the Australian Open. He won the China Open for the third time.

TOKYO (AP) - Eighth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan beat Milos Raonic of Canada 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-0 on Sunday to win the Japan Open.

The 22-year-old Nishikori earned his second career ATP tour title and first in more than four years.

Nishikori, ranked No. 17, thrilled the home crowd in defeating the sixth-seeded Raonic. Nishikori, a native of Shimane Prefecture in southern Japan, is the first Japanese player to win the tournament in its 41-year history.

GOLF

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Former UNLV player Ryan Moore won the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open on Sunday for his second PGA Tour title, birdieing the 16th hole to take the outright lead and finishing with a 5-under 66 for a one-stroke victory over Brendon de Jonge.

Moore finished at 24-under 260 at TPC Summerlin the Fall Series opener. De Jonge shot a 67.

CARY, N.C. (AP) - Bernhard Langer rallied to win the SAS Championship on Sunday to take the lead in the Charles Schwab Cup points race, shooting a 9-under 63 to beat Jay Don Blake by two strokes.

The German star has two victories this year and 16 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) - South Africa's Branden Grace won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Sunday for his fourth European Tour title of the year, shooting a 2-under 70 at St. Andrews for a two-stroke victory. The 24-year-old Grace finished at 22-under 266. He opened with a 12-under 60 at Kingsbarns.

MARATHON

CHICAGO (AP) - Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia set a course record in winning the Chicago Marathon on Sunday morning.

Kebede pulled away late and was all alone, waving to the crowd as he approached the finish at Grant Park and crossing the line in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 38 seconds. That easily eclipsed the previous mark of 2:05:37 set by Kenya's Moses Mosop last year and was more than enough to beat countryman Feyisa Lilesa.

The women's race was also a thriller, with Atsede Baysa of Ethiopia edging Kenya's Rita Jeptoo by about a step.

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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