Redskins

Bills interview 3 candidates, including Chip Kelly

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Bills interview 3 candidates, including Chip Kelly

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Bills coaching search went into overdrive Friday, when team officials interviewed three candidates, including Oregon's Chip Kelly, one of college football's hottest prospects.

The Bills announced just before midnight that newly promoted president Russ Brandon and his top executives also interviewed recently fired Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith and Syracuse coach Doug Marrone. The Bills, stationed in Arizona for much of this week, didn't provide details regarding where the interviews took place or how long they lasted.

Next up for Buffalo is a trip to Denver on Saturday, when the team is scheduled to interview Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, according to a person familiar with Buffalo's plans. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team has not revealed who they've lined up to meet.

The Bills are in the midst of their fifth coaching search since 2001 after Chan Gailey was fired on Monday.

It was a busy day for Kelly, as well. He also interviewed with Cleveland on Friday, and a person familiar with those negotiations said the Browns are nearing a deal with Oregon's offensive mastermind. Kelly's interviews were conducted a day after he led the fifth-ranked Ducks (12-1) to a 35-17 victory over No. 7 Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona.

Following the win, the 49-year-old Kelly said he wanted to get the interview process over ``quickly.''

Kelly was also supposed to meet with Philadelphia. However, a person familiar with the interviews says the Eagles are ``heading in another direction.''

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team isn't discussing its negotiations publicly. The person added the Eagles planned to interview several other candidates regardless of any conversations with Kelly.

The Eagles were granted permission Friday to interview Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and are scheduled to meet with McCoy in Denver on Sunday, as well.

The Bills are coming off their second consecutive 6-10 season and have not enjoyed a winning record since a 9-7 finish in 2004. They own the NFL's longest active playoff drought that's now at 13 consecutive seasons.

Buffalo has already interviewed former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, who was fired on Monday, as well as Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton.

The Bills' meeting with Smith did not come as a surprise. Several reports surfaced over the past few days that the former Bears coach was interested in the Buffalo job since he was fired by the Bears on Monday. Smith has indirect ties to the Bills through former Bears defensive assistant coach Gill Byrd, who is the father of Buffalo safety Jairus Byrd.

Smith is a defensive-minded coach, who would have an opportunity to put his stamp on Buffalo's revamped but under-achieving defense, which struggled last year. The unit was among the NFL's worst despite the addition of defensive end Mario Williams, who signed a six-year, $100 million contract in free agency in March.

Marrone has been credited for turning around the Orange in four seasons. Syracuse rolled to an 8-5 finish by winning six of its last seven games this season, including a 38-14 win over West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl last weekend.

McCoy has become a hot prospect in his fourth season with the Broncos. He's played a key role in helping speed Peyton Manning's transition after the star quarterback signed with the team in free agency last offseason. McCoy has 13 years of NFL experience as an assistant, and previously spent eight seasons working under Broncos coach John Fox in Carolina.

Over his career, McCoy had quarterbacks reach 3,000 yards passing seven times. That includes Manning, who finished sixth in the NFL this season with 4,659 yards.

As the AFC's top seed, the Broncos are off until opening the playoffs on Jan. 12. They've allotted time for interested teams to interview McCoy in Denver this weekend. McCoy has also been linked as a candidate for coaching vacancies in Arizona and Chicago.

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AP Football Writer Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia, and AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland, contributed to this report.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Reflections on Rich Tandler and a life well lived

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NBC Sports Washington

Reflections on Rich Tandler and a life well lived

I haven’t felt this way since my father passed last April. I’m not comparing the two, at all, but there were some similarities.

Rich Tandler had life experience. Few people accomplish what he did; total life reinvention. 

Think about that. 

After raising his two successful children and a lifetime in the restaurant business, Tandler created a blog. That blog became big enough to eventually become a full-time job, and over time, put him on television and send him all over the world. 

That’s wild. 

We get so caught up in the “startups” and “disruptors” from Silicon Valley that we missed a true internet success story in Rich Tandler. Our world has become extra cynical. The loudest snark wins, especially on the internet. 

Tandler didn’t trade in those currencies. 

He provided good, quality information. He provided insight and analysis from six decades of obsessing over a football team. 

And fans loved him for it. 

The outpouring from folks that read "Need to Know" or listened to the podcast has been incredible. I’ve been flooded with messages from people, and one overwhelming response is that while they didn’t really know Tandler, they feel like they did.

Well, I was lucky to know him pretty well. And his persona on air was the same way off air. 

Tandler helped me a in a lot of ways. I can be impulsive and have a temper, Tandler would calm me down. Whenever I had something important to say, news to break or a sharp angle of criticism, I would run it by Tandler first. Sometimes, maybe often, I would say too much, and he would reign me in. 

Tandler loved pointing out mistakes. If the universe gave honorary degrees for pointing out minor math errors in salary cap blog posts, Tandler would have a Ph.D. 

He was smart and he was sharp. Good natured but feisty. 

He could dish it out plenty in a media room full of alphas. And he literally dished it out; Tandler controlled all the plastic utensils and paper plates that every media member used at Redskins Park. When we were running low on forks, Tandler would put out some not too subtle calls to action. 

I think for a while he considered the podcast an annoyance, but somewhere along the way, we had a breakthrough. He realized its potential, and everywhere we went, listeners came up and told us how much they enjoyed it. 

That made an impact on RT. And seemingly overnight, he was all in. That’s when things really started to gain steam. Wherever I am in my career, Tandler played a huge role in it. 

But that kind of doesn’t matter now. We will keep the pod going but it will never be the same. Not better, not worse, but way, way different. Same thing with writing and TV. The show will go on, but it won't be the same. It will never be the same. 

In the hours since I learned of Tandler’s passing, I’ve done some reading. I drank a bunch. And I ended up landing on some YouTube videos. 

The one I kept going back to was Jimmy V’s famous ESPY speech. Before he died, Jimmy V implored us all to think, laugh and cry every day, and that would lead to a good, full life. 

If there was ever a dude that laughed, it was Rich Tandler. 

His belly laugh was contagious, and his wit was superior. There were the wacky Tandler’s Got Jokes, and the sly one liners about players, plays and our road antics. 

It wasn’t all laughter either. Tandler was smart as hell, and he was always thinking about new ways to present content for Redskins fans. 

Seriously, our organization employs an army of young and talented digital-first thinkers. And Tandler generated more web traffic than all of them. He constantly tried to figure out why people would read something, or the optimal time for us to drop a new podcast. 

Where I’m an idea guy, Tandler was all execution. I’m a terrible planner and constantly late. Tandler would be on time and busting my chops about our lack of schedule. It’s just how we operated. 

As for crying, Tandler didn't do it much. I did see him tear up from laughing a few times, and once because it was real windy when we were taping a segment and something got in his eye. 

I’m not much of a crier either. I’m glad that Jimmy V was, but it’s just not me. 

Thinking about Tandler though in the last 36 hours, there have been some truly hard moments. He was kind and gracious. A true gentleman. 

He never took personal shots at the team we cover, or their front office. Plenty do. He would certainly say when things were bad, and say it loudly. He was binary in a world full of context. 

He was a good dude. He was my coworker, my partner and my friend. 

And damn if it isn’t getting dusty in here all of a sudden. 

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Three things to watch for Wizards' regular season opener against the Heat

Three things to watch for Wizards' regular season opener against the Heat

The Washington Wizards open their regular season on Thursday night against the Miami Heat. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Will Howard play?

Just one week ago, it would have seemed near impossible that Dwight Howard, the Wizards' biggest offseason acquisition, would be ready to play in the season opener, but after three solid days of practice, it can't be ruled out. The Wizards plan to evaluate him throughout the day on Thursday to determine if he can take the court in what would be his first live game action with his new team.

Howard, 32, missed the entire preseason and nearly all of their practices leading up to the opener with a strained piriformis muscle. Though reports have been encouraging from his three practices, he is not yet in game shape. Even if he can play, expect him to be limited. If he can't play, Ian Mahinmi will get the start.

Heat are banged up

Miami is not only coming off a game the night before, as they lost in their season opener to the Orlando Magic, but they are missing some key guys. Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Wayne Ellington and Justise Winslow are out due to injuries.

That will leave Miami perilously thin at the guard and small forward position. That happens to be an area of the roster where the Wizards are especially deep, now with Austin Rivers as the backup shooting guard behind Bradley Beal and with first round pick Troy Brown Jr. behind Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr.

That said, Waiters and Ellington being out means Dwyane Wade may get more run and, as we saw in the preseason, he is still very hard to stop. He is capable of a big night, especially given it's so early in the year and he doesn't yet have the wear-and-tear of a long season.

Can Beal reach the next level?

One of the most important indicators of how much better the Wizards will be this season is the continued improvement of their young players. John Wall, Porter and Oubre are included in that and particularly Oubre, who is entering an important season in the final year of his contract.

But the guy who improved more than anyone last year and has a chance to take another big leap this season is Beal. Now with one All-Star nod under his belt, what does he have for an encore? 

If Beal can get his scoring average up even higher from the 22.6 he put up last season, he could enter the All-NBA conversation. And he now has more help than ever with Rivers behind him. Beal should, in theory, be more fresh each night with Rivers taking away some of his workload. 

The Heat offer a good matchup defensively for Beal with Josh Richardson. He is one of the more underrated players in basketball and is a menace on the perimeter.

"I've been a fan of his since I played him in college at Tennessee," Beal said. "He's always been a pest. He's super athletic, sneaky athletic. And I feel like he developed his shot to where you have to respect it. If you go under [on screens], he's shooting it."

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