Nationals

Bolts beat Raiders in Turner's expected finale

Bolts beat Raiders in Turner's expected finale

SAN DIEGO (AP) It's decision time for Dean Spanos, the president of the San Diego Chargers.

Norv Turner already is a step ahead of Spanos. The coach thinks he's going to be fired Monday morning.

Turner watched his San Diego Chargers beat the rival Oakland Raiders 24-21 on a wet, gloomy Sunday that seemed to sum up the state of the franchise.

The Chargers (7-9) will miss the playoffs for the third straight season. The only thing left is a final team meeting Monday morning.

``Obviously, we're going to meet with the team and I'm sure they'll start looking for a new coach,'' said Turner, who has one year left on his contract, at $3 million.

Spanos said he'd have something to say on Monday.

``I haven't talked to anybody,'' Spanos said as he left Qualcomm Stadium with his two sons.

General manager A.J. Smith also is expected to be fired Monday. Smith could be replaced by Jimmy Raye, the director of pro personnel. It's expected that John Spanos, the team's director of college scouting, also would be promoted. At some point, John Spanos will oversee the franchise's football operations.

Asked if this has been emotional, Turner said: ``In there with the guys, I was brief because I want to spend some time and talk to them (Monday). It's emotional. There is a lot going on.''

San Diego's Micheal Spurlock returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown.

San Diego linebacker Takeo Spikes and Oakland running back Mike Goodson were ejected following a skirmish in the second quarter.

If Turner does get fired, he'll finish 56-40 in six seasons with San Diego, but just 24-24 the last three seasons.

Turner's overall regular-season record as an NFL head coach is 114-122-1. He was 49-59-1 in Washington from 1994 until being fired with three games left in the 2000 season and 9-23 with Oakland, where he coached from 2004 until being fired after the 2005 season.

He was hired by the Chargers in February 2007 after Smith won a power struggle with Marty Schottenheimer.

Quarterback Philip Rivers was emotional as he spoke about Turner.

``It's tough You've played quarterback for a guy for 102 games. That's a lot of time spent. A lot of fun, a lot of hard work, plenty of disagreements and aggravations. It's hard,'' Rivers said. ``Other than my dad, I don't know that there has been a coach that you've had so much respect for and trust for. Six years is a long time.''

The Raiders finished 4-12.

Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor made his first career start, in place of injured Carson Palmer. Pryor threw his first career touchdown pass, a 9-yarder to Darrius Heyward-Bey early in the second quarter, and scored on a 3-yard run midway through the fourth quarter to pull the Raiders to 24-14.

The Chargers almost blew this one.

The Raiders blocked a punt by Mike Scifres, setting up Pryor's 5-yard TD pass to Denarius Moore with 1:52 left. The Raiders tried an onside kick but Spurlock recovered.

``Just when I saw that punt blocked I was like, `Geez, we're going to win this game. As ugly as it was on offense, we're going to win this game,' `' Pryor said. ``It didn't turn out that way. I just commend everybody for not stopping. Just keep going.''

Coach Dennis Allen said the TD pass to Moore ``was a heck of a football play. With Terrelle, like any young quarterback, you take a little bit of the good with the bad but overall I thought, not bad.''

Spurlock took the opening kickoff and ran up the middle of the field before cutting over to the right sideline to give the Chargers a lead they wouldn't give up.

He became the first Chargers player to have a kickoff and punt return for touchdowns in consecutive weeks. He returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown a week earlier in a victory against the New York Jets.

Pryor's TD pass came two plays after Spikes and Goodson were ejected.

Goodson was blocking Spikes when the two locked up on a pass play in the second quarter. They remained locked up after the play ended and a larger scrum broke out.

Spikes and Goodson were flagged for personal fouls and ejected. Spikes had to be restrained by field judge Scott Edwards from going after referee John Parry.

As he was leaving the field, Spikes took off his helmet and flung it. Teammate Melvin Ingram caught it.

Backup tight end Randy McMichael walked Spikes off the field and the two hugged before Spikes disappeared up the tunnel.

Parry said the two players were ejected because they kept pulling at each other's facemasks after the referees tried to separate them.

After Oakland scored, San Diego took the ensuing kickoff and went on a long drive that resulted in Rivers' 11-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates for a 17-7 lead with 2:48 left before halftime.

Pryor made some big mistakes.

With Sebastian Janikowski warming up on the sideline for a possible field goal attempt in the final seconds of the first half, Pryor scrambled but didn't get out of bounds and the clock ran out.

Early in the third quarter, Pryor got too much air under a pass and was picked off in the end zone by Quentin Jammer.

Rivers also threw a 34-yard scoring pass to Danario Alexander. Rivers completed 13 of 17 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns.

Pryor was 13 of 28 for 150 yards, with two TDs and one interception.

NOTES: Jammer, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2002 draft, believes he's played his final game with the Chargers. ... Raiders DE Lamarr Houston had nine tackles and four assists, plus 1 1/2 sacks and two QB hits. He also was whistled twice for offsides. ... The Chargers had 210 yards in offense. The Raiders had 265.

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Astros players plan to make a team statement on sign-stealing scandal during Spring Training

Astros players plan to make a team statement on sign-stealing scandal during Spring Training

The Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal has rocked MLB and left a dark shadow over the league during offseason. Up until this point, despite a fired general manager and on-field manager, the players at the root of the scandal have remained silent on the subject and avoided questions from the media.

That will all change in Spring Training as the Astros players plan to make "a strong statement as a team," according to Astros' owner Jim Crane. 

"When we get down to Spring Training, we'll all get them together and they'll come out with a strong statement as a team and apologize for what happened and we'll move forward," Crane said in a media scrum.

Over the weekend the team held their annual winter FanFest where several players had to face the music as many players met with the media for the first time. Jose Altuve, who is one of the players who allegedly benefited from the sign-stealing, dodged the question as best he could. The Astros shortstop's comments coincide with Crane's, saying “I think the time to comment about that will come. It’s a little early for me to say something about it.” 

Outside of their FanFest event, there is little that has come out of the clubhouse. Their owner acknowledged the lack of communication from the players and said the players were advised to stay out of the conversation. 

"The players have been beaten up a little bit and they've been all spread out. They've just kinda getting [sic] advice to take it easy."

Already Spring Training in West Palm Beach is going to be awkward between the two teams that made the World Series last season. The Nationals, who won the World Series whether or not the Astros used their system to gain an advantage, have their facilities next door to Houston's.

And if the Astros sign former Nationals' manager Dusty Baker to the same position in wake of A.J. Hinch's firing, there will be even more tense situations at Spring Training this year. 

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Jay Gruden reportedly to join Jaguars as their offensive coordinator

Jay Gruden reportedly to join Jaguars as their offensive coordinator

Just four months shy of his last appearance on the NFL gridiron sidelines, Jay Gruden may already have his 2020 gig lined up, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.

Gruden was head coach of the Washington Redskins for six seasons, beginning in 2014 and going 35-49-1 in his burgundy and gold tenure. Gruden pushed the Redskins to their first postseason appearance since 2012 in his second year with the team, as well as back-to-back winning seasons in 2015 and 2016, not seen in Washington since 1996 and 1997. 

In March 2017, Gruden signed a two-year extension with the Redskins. He was fired after beginning the 2019 season 0-5. 

Recently, Gruden confirmed to Rapoport that he was "itching for something to do" and seeking employment before Jacksonville brought him in to interview for the OC role. 

After playing four years at the University of Louisville and and eight more in various football leagues, Gruden held many offensive roles, offensive coordinator for the Florida Tuskers and Cincinnati Bengals. 

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