Nationals

Bama, ND defensive chiefs hot coaching commodities

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Bama, ND defensive chiefs hot coaching commodities

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart wants to be a head coach someday. It's just that there's no immediate rush.

The same might be said of top-ranked Notre Dame's defensive mastermind, Bob Diaco. Both he and Smart have drawn interest from schools for top jobs, which is to be expected. Their defenses are perhaps the nation's best, and have helped steer both teams into Monday night's BCS championship game.

The 37-year-old Smart interviewed with the second-ranked Crimson Tide's in-state rival, Auburn, and seems to be mentioned annually as a head coaching candidate for other programs the past few years.

``It's not like I wake up every day trying to leave Alabama,'' Smart said Friday in his first public comments since meeting with Auburn officials. ``I have the best non-head coaching job in the country, period, because I've got a great administration, we've got a great facility. I want to be where I can win and I know you can win at Alabama. I think that's so important.''

Diaco was a candidate at Boston College, among other schools.

Neither ultimately landed the jobs but they're already in enviable positions working for coaching mentors at top programs. Diaco has been Brian Kelly's defensive coordinator since 2009, their final season at Cincinnati.

Smart, who makes $950,000 a year, has been with defensive wizard Nick Saban during his entire six-year run at Alabama after one season under him at LSU and the NFL's Miami Dolphins.

``I have become who I've become as a coach from working for coach Saban,'' Smart said.

Tide linebacker Nico Johnson thinks his position coach would make a good head man.

``He's pretty much like coach Saban,'' Johnson said. ``He holds everybody to a standard and holds himself to a standard. He gets down on himself sometimes. He feels like he didn't put us in the best situation. The Texas A&M game ate him up more than any other loss we've had.

``As a person and as a coach, he's something special.''

Saban and Smart have routinely had defenses ranked among the nation's best during their tenure in Tuscaloosa, with a steady stream of NFL-caliber players. The Tide defense is No. 1 in yards allowed this season.

Again, what's the hurry to leave?

``I don't worry about where I'm going to be in three years or 10 years,'' Smart said. ``I think if you win, that takes care of itself, and I'm not in such a hurry to run off and do anything that I don't have a pressing issue. If I was 47, I might feel differently. But the most important thing to me right now is winning championships and developing young men into better players and better people.''

Smart said he shares Saban's aversion to hypothetical situations when asked if he hopes to replace Saban at Alabama. He said Saban has supported him when other suitors approached him.

``I think Alabama is a special, special place, and it's obviously a great place to coach,'' Smart said. ``But as far as anything outside of that, I'm just worried about this game and being successful at Alabama.''

Diaco also works for a former defensive coordinator, since Kelly had stints in that position at lower level Assumption and Grand Valley State.

Notre Dame is a private school and doesn't release salary information, but Diaco was promoted to assistant head coach before this season. Then he became the first Fighting Irish assistant to win the Broyles Award after directing the nation's top scoring defense.

``The selection committee is all basically Hall of Fame coaches, guys that we really point toward to say, `Hey, someday I'd just love to be like that guy,''' Diaco said. ``So it's a great, great honor, one that I don't take lightly at all. I've talked about it with my family. I've talked about it with my wife through this grind of years from stop to stop and place to place.

``It's just a great honor as it relates to a job well done in service.''

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Nationals veterans want to be clear chemistry matter as much as analytics

Nationals veterans want to be clear chemistry matter as much as analytics

WASHINGTON -- Inside the age discussion around Washington’s older team is another percolating topic. Those same members of the 30-plus realm also tend to roll their eyes -- to a degree -- at analytics.

Multiple veterans have pushed back at the influence of statistical analysis on success. They are not discounting it on the whole. They are trying to add emphasis on the human element, the so-called “eye test” and, no matter how it is received elsewhere, express their thoughts about information overload.

Washington's organization remained scout heavy even as it developed its in-house analytics system named “Pentagon”. General manager Mike Rizzo comes from a scouting background. He also spearheaded a push for more depth in the organization’s analytics department, capping those efforts by promoting Mike DeBartolo and Sam Mondry-Cohen to assistant general manager positions before the season began. 

Both were reared in the organization. DeBartolo graduated from Tufts University, then Columbia Business School. He worked at an investment advisory firm prior joining the Nationals as an intern in baseball operations seven years ago. Mondry-Cohen is charged with “the front office’s analysis of baseball data and the development of department-wide baseball systems.” He went to the University of Pennsylvania, and, like DeBartolo, began his work as a baseball operations intern.

Next to Rizzo, they represent balance. Rizzo ascended from assistant college coach to regional scout to director of scouting in Arizona, where a portion of his roster-building technique (starting pitching, plus more starting pitching) was honed. He consistently touts the club’s scouts. 

Davey Martinez was hired to use more information and deploy it. In all, the Nationals have tried to balance the sides while keeping a large emphasis on scouting.

At this point, the distribution and absorption of information is more of a challenge than discovering or creating it. One thing Scherzer pointed out about Juan Soto is his ability to process so much information so quickly. Soto mostly does this via experience, not charts and scouting reports. Another thing Scherzer pointed out at the All-Star Game was his irritation the weight of analytics now possesses in the game.

“Everybody thinks this is just a math game and a numbers game, and you just look at WAR, and you know your team,” Scherzer said. “We can have projections and models -- you name it -- and that’s baseball. That’s not baseball. 

“Baseball’s played by humans. We’re humans. We experience emotions and we’re pretty good about channeling what it takes to compete every single day, but when you get a good clubhouse and you get some good energy, good vibes, it makes it easy for everybody to compete at the same level. I feel like that’s what we have going on. We have very good clubhouse. Everybody’s kind of settled in their roles. We all know how to clown on each other, have fun, when anybody makes a mistake -- my God, I’ve been making a heck of a lot of mistakes lately, everybody is getting a good laugh at -- that’s a sign of a winning club.”

Rendon uses analytics as a key to jokes about his success. When he beat out a grounder after returning from quad and hamstring tightness, he told reporters to “Statcast me.” Asked during the National League Division Series why this became his best statistical year, he sent another zing.

“Launch angle,” Rendon said with a smile. “No. Yeah, I really don't know. I've been getting a lot of those questions lately or at least this season. And I think if I actually knew, if I changed anything or if I knew if I was going to have this type of season, I actually would have done it a long time ago and I wouldn't have waited six or seven years into it. But I think that, man, I say all the time, I think I'm partly, I'm getting lucky.”

The idea of simplicity -- and the human touch -- trickles down to the initial assessments when hunting the next prospect. Johnny DiPuglia, Nationals director, international operations, explained the club’s player-hunt philosophy is less about using technology to assess spin rate and more about finding the best player on the field.

“We don't complicate ourselves with all this analytic stuff that's out now with all this TrackMan (pitching analysis) and all the Blast (swing analysis sensor and software) and all this stuff that is used," DiPuglia said. "We go out in the field, we beat the bushes and we watch games. We try to find the best player on the field, get the checkpoints and if he checkpoints the profile of a big-league position, we evaluate the numbers money-wise and try to sign the kid. We do it to the simplest form here. We don't try to complicate things.

“The game is the same game it was 50 years ago. Unfortunately, now it's a little more complicated and too much information is given.”

The contrast between the Nationals and their likely World Series opponent, Houston, is striking. Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is on the box of the Blast “complete hitting solution.” Tomes have been written about Houston’s application of analytics when restructuring and rebooting its organization. Its success indisputably shows the process has worked: The Astros won the World Series in 2017, made it to the ALCS in 2018 and are back there again in 2019. Five years ago, they lost 92 games. Baltimore hired former Houston assistant general manager Mike Elias to repeat the process.

In Washington, the veteran-filled clubhouse casts a wary eye toward analytics. Their process has been simpler. They believe in the karma coming out of their room. Many of them think its value rivals that of deep scouting reports or color-coded charts. Whatever the formula, it was enough to finally breakthrough and reach the World Series.

Chase Hughes contributed to this report.

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Redskins vs. 49ers Week 7: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Redskins vs. 49ers Week 7: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Redskins finally got into the win column for the first time this season when they stopped a late two-point conversion attempt to hold on for a 17-16 win over the Dolphins in Week 6.

They now turn their sights to the undefeated 49ers, who boast the NFL’s third-best scoring offense (29.4 PPG) and second-best scoring defense (12.8 PPG). San Francisco dismantled the Rams 20-7 last week to give the team its first 5-0 start since 1990.

Bill Callahan will make his FedEx Field debut as the Redskins’ interim head coach, hoping to carry over the success his offense had on the ground (145 rushing yards) in Miami.

Washington is 11-20-1 against the 49ers all time, last meeting on Oct. 15, 2017, when the Redskins won 26-24 behind Kirk Cousins’ 330 yards and three total touchdowns.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Redskins’ Week 6 matchup in Landover:

REDSKINS vs. 49ERS WEEK 7

Who: Washington Redskins (1-5) vs. San Francisco 49ers (5-0)

What: Game 7 of the 2019 NFL regular season

When: Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, 1:00 p.m. ET

Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland

TV Channel: FOX

Live Stream: Pregame and postgame coverage streaming on NBCSportsWashington.com

Radio: Redskins Radio Network

Spread: 49ers, -10

Over/Under: 40.0

Weather: 57 degrees, rain expected

REDSKINS vs. 49ERS TV SCHEDULE:

8:30 a.m.: Pro Football Weekly

9:00 a.m.: Inside the Redskins

9:30 a.m.: Redskins Kickoff Preview

10:00 a.m.: Redskins Coach's Show

10:30 a.m.: Redskins Talk: Week 7

11:30 a.m.: Redskins Preview: D.C. Sports Live

12:00 p.m.: Redskins Kickoff Live

4:00 p.m.: Redskins Postgame Live 

5:00 p.m.: Redskins Overtime Live

REDSKINS 2019 SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 8, Redskins at Eagles (L, 32-27)

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, Cowboys at Redskins, (L, 31-21)

Week 3: Monday, Sept. 23, Bears at Redskins, (L, 32-27)

Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, Redskins at Giants, (L, 24-3)

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, Patriots at Redskins, (L, 33-7)

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, Redskins at Dolphins, (W, 17-16)

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, 49ers at Redskins, 1 p.m.

Week 8: Thursday, Oct. 24, Redskins at Vikings, 8:20 p.m.

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, Redskins at Bills, 1 p.m.

Week 10: BYE

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, Jets at Redskins, 1 p.m.

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, Lions at Redskins, 1 p.m.

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, Redskins at Panthers, 1 p.m.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, Redskins at Packers, 1 p.m.

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, Eagles at Redskins, 1 p.m.

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, Giants at Redskins, 1 p.m.

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, Redskins at Cowboys, 1 p.m.

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