Bears

Jets' locker room split on Sanchez

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Jets' locker room split on Sanchez

From Comcast SportsNet

NEW YORK (AP)The fallout from the New York Jets failing to make the NFL playoffs is in full swing, with members of coach Rex Ryans staff leaving, players taking shots at quarterback Mark Sanchez and other players defending him.

In less than 24 hours, the coaching staff was shaken up with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer walking away, former Dolphins coach Tony Sparano replacing him, and a few assistants saying they wont be back.

Now the latest controversy involves the shaky status of Sanchez.

Some of his teammates say he lacks the work ethic and leadership skills to lead the Jets to the Super Bowl. And with a new offensive coordinator in charge, the window for Sanchez to do so might have gotten a lot smaller.

Mark is heading in the right direction, left guard Matt Slauson said during a telephone interview Wednesday. He is going to be a great quarterback and I really believe he can lead us to a championship. His rookie year, we went to the AFC championship and again last year. The guy can do it. He can get it done. The rest of the team has to do their part, too.

The Daily News quoted one player, who was not identified, as saying Sanchez was lazy and content. Another player suggested the Jets should do all they can to try to bring in Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, if hes healthy, because Sanchez isnt improving.

Whoever said all that, theyre out of their minds and just trippin, defensive lineman Marcus Dixon said. You cant blame a season on one guy. I mean, come on. Its all unfair. We have Mark Sanchez. Hes our quarterback. Hes our guy. And thats how just about everyone in that locker room feels.

Sanchezs older brother Nick, who is also one of his agents, told The Associated Press in an email that the quarterback was out of town and unavailable for comment.

Center Nick Mangold defended Sanchez on Twitter and then during a radio interview, saying he very much so, 100 percent believes in Sanchez.

I would say definitely the majority of the team feels the same way about Mark, Slauson added. I dont know who said those things, but I would definitely say its a small, small portion of the team that doesnt have confidence in Mark.

Dixon pointed out that Sanchez has gathered the teams running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and other quarterbacks in Southern California at his old high school the past few offseasons to work on team chemistry and camaraderie much of it on his own dime.

If thats someone who doesnt know how to be a leader or have a good work ethic, then I dont know, man, Dixon said.

There were whispers in the locker room that Sanchez lost the ability to lead late in the season because of his struggles reading defenses and being accurate. Not so, says Slauson.

I thought he took tremendous strides this year as a leader, Slauson said. The problem was the situation we were in made it tough for everyone. I mean, it was such a strange and bizarre year for us, but he was one of the only ones who was there stepping up and taking charge, telling us, Look guys, we can do this. Follow me.

Retired Jets right tackle Damien Woody, now an analyst for ESPN, said he thinks the team does baby Sanchez to an extent and 41-year-old backup Mark Brunell never provided a true threat to Sanchez.

They definitely need to bring in a viable backup, a viable backup to really provide that competition, because with competition, you are going to rise or you are just going to crumble, Woody said while at the Giants training facility. So I think you bring in a viable backup and let it play out. Well see which Mark Sanchez shows up after that.

As for Manning coming to the Jets, its certainly intriguing, but highly unlikely. For one, hes coming off a neck injury that sidelined him the entire season.

The Jets could gamble on bringing him in and hoping he stays healthy, of course. But theres also little chance New York could keep both Manning and Sanchez because of the financial ramifications. Another consideration: what it would do to Sanchezs confidence.

Its also unlikely the team would give up so soon on a player it had such high hopes for when he was drafted fifth overall in 2009.

While his numberspassing accuracy, quarterback rating, yards per pass have been mediocre, the argument could be made that Ryan needs to share some of the blame for it. And it didnt help that he guaranteed a Super Bowl win this season.

Ryan raved about the amount of talent on the team, and was excited about having the potential to have Sanchez throw the ball more often with Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason joining Holmes during training camp. After two years of a run-first mentality, Ryan envisioned Sanchez airing it out.

But it didnt work.

The offensive line was shaky, Sanchez was sacked 39 times for the season, and the wide receivers never truly were in sync with the quarterback as Ryan insisted the Jets go back to the Ground-and-Pound. The offense finished the season 25th overall.

Next came finger-pointing and whispers that the team would be better off without Sanchez.

It is definitely really disheartening that some players are coming out and want their names protected and all that, and theyre talking bad about our team and organization, Slauson said. That isnt how its supposed to be done. All I hope for them is that they stay anonymous because things wont end well for them if that ever comes out. Bad mouthing the team and the organization, that could be grounds for losing their jobs. Im not saying anything will be done, but it would be bad to know exactly who it was because I wouldnt be able to look that guy in the eye the same way again.

Mark is the hardest-working quarterback Ive ever worked with, Slauson said. I mean, he is there all day long. He doesnt have an outside life, Im telling you. His whole life is about winning and improving the team. He cares so much and you can see it every day. I really do think he is a great player.

He should get a boost from working with Sparano, who loves to run the ball. That type of system could suit Sanchez perfectly, as it did his first two years.

We all believe in him, Slauson said. We really do. We just need to do a better job of executing on earlier downs so we can help make Mark look like the stud he really is.

Puppy Pick 'Em Week 15: Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers in Week 15

Puppy Pick 'Em Week 15: Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers in Week 15

When the Bears announced their 2019 schedule, we decided to have some puppies reveal the opponents. Now, we have taken it a step further. We have a puppy that will make weekly picks for the Bears games.

It is Week 15 and it's all dairy in the studios at NBC Sports Chicago. Greek Town is famous in Chicago and if you have not had flaming cheese you have not lived. Saganaki (saga-KNOCK-ee) vs Cheddar cheese….(yawn) it is shredded...which is what the Bears are hoping to do to The Pack in Week 15.

We love going on Walter’s journey and enjoy seeing him grow up. He was hand-selected by the scouts at NBC Sports Chicago and hails from One Tail at a Time rescue. He came from a shelter in Alabama and was transported to Chicago.  At just 7 weeks old and without his mom, he beat a deadly virus and spent some time in the doggie ER, where he healed and became strong again. Now, Walter has found a home of his own and is the king of the castle.

Walter will pick the games throughout the NFL season, including the playoffs and we hope that his nose follows the scent to the Bears every week, all the way to that magical game in Miami in February. Narrated by Jason Benetti, play-by-play announcer for the White Sox.  

It is time for Puppy Pick ‘Em presented by Nissan.

To learn more: www.onetail.org

Two top-25 matchups headline High School Lites

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Two top-25 matchups headline High School Lites

High School Lites has plenty of high school basketball action from all over the Chicagoland area this week. We have top-25 matchups in both the Public League and non-conference play in the North suburbs. Some strong South suburban teams and a classic North Shore rivalry also play out on this week's episode. 

Check out the latest edition of High School Lites at 11 p.m. on Friday night for scores and highlights from all over the area. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps to get the latest scores and updates from the area's IHSA teams.

GIRLS: New Trier at Evanston, 6:00 p.m. -- A huge rivalry takes center stage on the girls side on Friday night. Evanston is one of the area's best teams as senior Jayla Turchin is player to watch. New Trier is led by Ava Zaslavsky as they won by a point when these two played for High School Lites cameras last season. The Trevians held off Maine South for a conference win to start the week.

New Trier at No. 8 Evanston 7:30 p.m. -- One of the classic area rivalries also gets played on the boys side on Friday night. New Trier (4-3, 0-1) knocked off Maine East earlier this week after falling to Lane in the Chicago Elite Classic. The Trevians own some close losses to ranked teams like Loyola and Glenbrook South as they are a dangerous team. Evanston (6-0, 1-0) earned an impressive win over Notre Dame in the Chicago Elite Classic as the junior class is full of standouts. Blake Peters and Jaylin Gibson are a strong offensive duo. Isaiah Holden is a defensive presence on the perimeter as well.

Rich Central at No. 14 Thornton, 6:00 p.m. -- Can Thornton continue its monster week following the win over No. 1 Bloom earlier in the week? The Wildcats (6-0, 3-0) have been a major story to start the season as they've gone from unranked to likely top ten in a matter of weeks. Rich Central (0-5, 0-1) will try to shake things up in the Southland by picking up its first win of the season.

No. 4 Whitney Young at No. 11 Lincoln Park, 6:30 p.m. -- Two Public League powers battle in the Red North/West here. The Dolphins (3-2, 3-0) have established a strong start in conference play as seniors D.J. Steward (Duke) and Tyler Beard are a strong backcourt. Lincoln Park (7-1, 3-0) counter with the junior perimeter of Julio Montes and Ismail Habib as they played well as sophomores. Big man Romelle Howard is a factor to watch inside for the Lions and how Whitney Young defends him.

Niles West at No. 19 Glenbrook South, 7:00 p.m. -- We catch a glimpse of unbeaten Glenbrook South (6-0, 1-0) and Player of the Year sleeper Dom Martinelli. Niles West (3-5, 1-0) lost to St. Viator earlier this week as they've lost a few close games to strong competition. The Titans will be challenged as it all begins with Martinelli. One of the area's most potent scorers will look to establish the Glenbrook South offense early as he's had more help in recent weeks.

No. 13 Notre Dame at No. 10 Loyola, 7:00 p.m. -- A huge clash of top-15 teams in non-conference play. Notre Dame (7-1, 1-0) won a huge game against Marian Catholic in ESCC play this week as Troy D'Amico and Louis Lesmond are two of the best juniors in the state. Loyola (7-0, 3-0) is off to an unbeaten start. Bennett and Jordan Kwiecinski are a pair of Division I signees at forward for the Ramblers as they should have a great matchup with Lesmond and D'Amico here.

Lincoln-Way Central at No. 16 Homewood-Flossmoor, 7:00 p.m. -- A SouthWest Suburban crossover between two teams off to solid starts. Lincoln-Way Central (5-1) lost its opener to Joliet West before running off five straight wins. The Vikings (5-1) have played a difficult schedule so far with a loss to Marian Catholic and a win over Hillcrest. Senior R.J. Ogom (College of Charleston) is one of the area's most productive forwards.

Latin vs. Parker, 7:30 p.m. at DePaul -- The Independent School League has a big rivalry matchup in Lincoln Park. Latin (3-1, 1-1) lost to Northridge in conference play earlier this week. Parker (4-4, 1-1) has two double-digit wins on the week as they try to keep the momentum rolling.

Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week

Mather at Foreman, 5 p.m. -- Our Viewers' Choice Game of the Week takes us to the North side for a Public League White-North matchup. Mather (4-5, 2-1) earned a conference win over Taft and fell to Lane in the Red division earlier this week in non-conference play. Foreman (2-3, 0-3) is trying to earn its first conference win after losing a close one to Northside earlier this week.