Capitals

Chargers, Jets struggling to finish line

201212172001720883950-p2.jpeg

Chargers, Jets struggling to finish line

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Norv Turner knows the end is likely near for him with the San Diego Chargers.

General manager A.J. Smith might be out soon, too.

There are two games left to play before an offseason of uncertainty begins. And, the New York Jets' Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum know the feeling.

Regular playoff participants a few years ago, both franchises are struggling to the finish line. And a winter of big changes could be in store.

``It's been difficult, in terms of offensively, and I can only speak for my side of the ball and what I'm able to contribute,'' Chargers tight end Antonio Gates said. ``Not playing up to our expectations and not playing up to the level that we've set and the standard of what we set for ourselves, sometimes it's frustrating because you do everything the right way. You prepare and you work hard. ... Not being able to capitalize on the season, it's been tough.''

Both the Chargers (5-9) and Jets (6-8) are out of the playoff race, and the two will play Sunday at MetLife Stadium, hoping to end the season on a positive note.

Mark Sanchez has been benched by Ryan, who is turning to third-stringer Greg McElroy to make his first NFL start Sunday. McElroy stepped in for Sanchez three weeks ago to rally New York to a 7-6 win over Arizona, and has leapfrogged Tim Tebow on the depth chart.

``This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,'' McElroy said. ``This is a great moment and a great milestone in my career. Obviously, this is something I've looked forward to and I've dreamed about my entire life. I'm thrilled to have this opportunity.''

McElroy, a seventh-round pick out of Alabama in 2011, could be auditioning for a job beyond the next two weeks. The Jets are considering all of their options, including trades, regarding Sanchez and Tebow, so McElroy could very well be in position next season to compete for the starting job with good showings against the Chargers and Buffalo Bills.

``I'm taking it one step at a time, and that's the only way you can look at it,'' McElroy said. ``You can't get caught up in next week against Buffalo. You can't get caught up in the offseason. You can't get caught up in next year. Just enjoy this game and the fact that I'm able to step out there on the field against San Diego. Enjoy it, make the most of it and have fun out there.''

As of Thursday, Ryan hadn't decided whether McElroy's backup will be Sanchez or Tebow - or both. Tebow was expected to be a major part of the offense, but instead has been just a minor role player. The wildcat-style offense didn't produce as expected, and Tebow hasn't gotten many opportunities to remind everyone why he was one of the most dynamic and exciting players in the NFL last season while leading the Denver Broncos to a playoff victory.

``Every opportunity you get, you want to make the most of and I'd have loved to have more of an opportunity to just play quarterback,'' said a clearly disappointed Tebow, speaking in a low tone. ``And obviously, that's my goal. I'll just make the most of these last two weeks and see what happens after that.''

There could be plenty, and Tannenbaum and Ryan aren't even certain to stick around. They helped turn the franchise around in 2009, when the Jets went to the first of their two straight AFC title games. But there's been a lot of disappointment since then with New York missing out on the playoffs two years in a row.

``Right now, I'm not looking further than this game against San Diego and then we have one more game,'' Ryan said. ``We'll see what happens. My focus has to be with those two games and that's it.''

Turner is taking a similar approach despite recent reports that the Chargers will make a move to replace him after the season. San Diego has dealt with several key injuries this season, including to wide receiver Vincent Brown, tackle Jared Gaither and running back Ryan Mathews, who broke his left collarbone in the Chargers' 31-7 loss to Carolina last Sunday.

Turner said regardless of what happens, he would like to continue coaching in the NFL next season, even if it means as an offensive coordinator elsewhere. The Jets could potentially be in the market for one after their offense struggled mightily - ranked 30th overall - in Tony Sparano's first season as the coordinator in New York.

``I think people that know me know that I'm a coach,'' Turner said. ``I like coaching. I want to coach. I think you get to a point where there are things that are important to you. If I continue to coach, I want to be in a good situation, a place where you have an opportunity to win and be in a situation that there are coaches I've worked with and been around.''

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has had his share of troubles this season, just like Sanchez, and has 47 turnovers in the last two years. Despite all that, he needs 210 yards passing to become the first Chargers player with five straight seasons of 3,500 or more yards passing.

San Diego still looks at Rivers as a franchise-type quarterback, and sitting him the last two weeks - as the Jets might do with Sanchez - wasn't in Turner's game plan.

``For our team and for our situation, a change was never a consideration because the things that were keeping us from getting done what we needed to get done had a lot more to do with other spots,'' Turner said. ``I know ultimately the quarterback gets a lot of the credit or blame, but it just wasn't the issue with our team as we went through our season.''

---

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

Quick Links

Redrafting the 2003 draft: Patrice Bergeron could have been a Penguin

Redrafting the 2003 draft: Patrice Bergeron could have been a Penguin

It takes years to determine who the best players in any given draft are. How would past NHL drafts look if they were redrafted today? Let's look back at the 2003 draft and see how it shaped today's NHL.

Here's a look at the first round of 2003 redrafted.

The draft was a total bust for Washington

In the real draft, the Caps took Eric Fehr 18th overall. He played in 652 NHL games. The remaining five players the team drafted combined for one single NHL game. Yikes.

Phaneuf to the Caps?

In the redraft, I had defenseman Dion Phaneuf going to Washington. Before you groan, let's not forget that he played in over 1,000 NHL games and, while he was with Calgary, he looked absolutely dominant. I don't think there are any questions that he struggled handling the pressure as captain of Toronto. Almost every stat takes a precipitous decline when you compare his Calgary numbers to when he was with the Maple Leafs. I don't think that would have been a problem in Washington as just one year after this draft, the Caps selected a guy by the name of Alex Ovechkin who took all the attention. If Phaneuf had been in a city where he could just play, he would have been a top-pair defenseman for most of his career.

This also would have affected the 2004 draft for Washington. The Caps had three first-round picks. They used one on Ovechkin then took Jeff Schultz and Mike Green late in the round. Do they go both defense at that point if they had taken Phaneuf the year before? I'm not so sure.

Would Bergeron have helped Pittsburgh?

Patrice Bergeron was the best player in the 2003 draft. He went with the 45th overall pick to the Boston Bruins. The Pittsburgh Penguins had the No.1 overall pick that year and selected goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. That is not a bad pick by any stretch, but with one of the best two-way forwards of all-time available to them, would Pittsburgh have been able to pass him up knowing how good he really was?

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE CAPITALS TALK PODCAST

The interesting thing about this is that if Pittsburgh had taken arguably the better player in Bergeron, it may have cost them in the long run. Fleury was the backstop of three Stanley Cup runs for the Penguins. OK, so he only played in two playoff games in 2016 and yielded the crease to Matt Murray, but he retook the No. 1 job in 2017 when again Pittsburgh won the Cup. Also, just two years after the 2003 draft, the Penguins ended up with a pretty decent two-way center by the name of Sidney Crosby. The idea of a team with both Crosby and Bergeron on it is daunting, but its two players of the same position and they would have still needed a goalie.

The Penguins may not have ended up with the better player overall, but they did get exactly the player they needed in Fleury.

Fleury to Columbus?

In the redraft, Fleury dops from first to fourth and is snagged by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Would Fleury have been able to get Columbus over the playoff hump sooner? That's a tough question to answer.

Goaltending has not been a major weakness for Columbus. Yes, he could have given the team a boost, but the roster was awful there for several years after the expansion draft. When the team did finally make the playoffs for the first time in 2009, it was off the back of an incredible rookie season from goalie Steve Mason. They also had a pretty good netminder in Sergei Bobrovsky from 2013 to 2019, or at least he was pretty good in the regular season.

Correction: regular season goaltending has not been a major weakness for Columbus. Actually, Bobrovsky was terrible in the playoffs for much of his career. Perhaps there is some validity to the argument that better netminding from Fleury -- who is a strong postseason performer -- could have potentially changed the trajectory of the franchise.

See the first round of 2003 redrafted here.

Stay connected to the Capitals with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Redskins Superlatives: Two tremendous leaders earn the Most Likely to Become President Award

Redskins Superlatives: Two tremendous leaders earn the Most Likely to Become President Award

This week, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey will be handing out Redskins Superlatives as they continue to preview the 2020 season.

Next up: They give their Most Likely to Become President Award to a fan favorite and the franchise's newest leader.

JP's pick: Terry McLaurin

There is nothing Terry McLaurin can't do and he's got my vote for president should he ever decide to run. Beyond the breakout rookie year, the precise route running and his blazing speed, McLaurin talks like a 10-year veteran.

This offseason has been hard for everyone, but McLaurin explained things better than most: "Football is what I love to do. I can’t think of a better blessing in my life to be playing the game that I love. When you get through the course of such a long NFL season and you get to the end, it’s like man, I’m ready for that break. That burning desire is still inside of you to continue to get better and continue to improve. Now with us having a new staff, we’re just all looking forward to being on the field again. I feel like sports is something that this country needs as well. The camaraderie of it, the togetherness that it brings."

Put McLaurin on the ballot — but ideally after a 15-year career with a whole lot of postseason success.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE REDSKINS TALK PODCAST

Pete's pick: Ron Rivera

JP and I didn't go to school together — that's because he's a LOT OLDER than me — but if we did, it would've been a surprise if we ever got an A-plus on the same assignment. In fact, it would've been a huge surprise, and perhaps an impossibility.

But in this instance, we're both getting an A-plus. He nailed his pick, and I'm nailing mine. 

Ron Rivera hasn't been with the Redskins long, and due to this unusual offseason, the media hasn't gotten to hang around him much in person, aside from his introductory press conference in January and some time at the Combine. 

Even so, we have still talked to him plenty on Zoom, and in all of those instances, I've been floored by his leadership, his intelligence and his perspective on everything, both football-related topics and topics that relate more to life overall. 

RELATED: RIVERA ON NOT SIGNING CAM NEWTON

At this point, I'm pretty much convinced every company or group in the world would be better with Rivera involved. He's fair, he's level-headed and he simultaneously gives and commands respect. 

For now, Rivera's just in the running for an NFC East title, but if he ever sets his sights on running for office, he'll have one mediocre blogger on his side.

Stay connected to the Redskins with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS