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Coach's challenge convincing owner of his plan

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Coach's challenge convincing owner of his plan

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Mike Munchak has been around long enough to know that five wins in a season isn't good enough in the NFL.

The Tennessee coach's challenge will be convincing owner Bud Adams, his boss for 30 seasons as a player and coach, is that he needs more time to turn the Titans back into a winner.

Munchak is only the seventh Hall of Fame player to be an NFL head coach since the 1970 merger, the fifth to coach the team he played for. He wraps up his second season Sunday against Jacksonville (2-13) with 15 players on injured reserve, including four of his starting offensive linemen out for the final month.

``I don't feel good about where we're at,'' Munchak said. ``I feel good about a lot of things, the pieces of the puzzle we do have. I feel good about a lot of things that can get fixed real quickly.''

After last week's 55-7 loss to Green Bay, Adams, who turns 90 on Jan. 3, made it clear he wants answers from his front office and Munchak after the season finale on what's gone wrong with a team that went 9-7 in 2011, one of three winning records since the 2003 season when this franchise last won a playoff game.

Munchak, who has a four-year contract, cautioned that turning around a franchise can take more than just a season or two. He lost his first offseason as a head coach to the NFL lockout in 2011 and has had just one offseason to teach a team largely built through the draft.

``We have a short period of time to fix it, but I feel very confident that we will, and sometimes it takes longer than two seasons to do that ... so I think you have to make a decision and look at who we have on our roster, who we're playing against, what we're doing,'' Munchak said. ``You have to figure out where we're headed and we'll see. I feel good about how we're going to get there, and it will be up to Mr. Adams to decide if he agrees with me.''

When Munchak was promoted from assistant offensive line coach to the team's coach on Feb. 7, 2011, he joined fellow Hall of Famers Raymond Berry, Mike Ditka, Forrest Gregg, Art Shell, Bart Starr and Mike Singletary in making the transition from player to NFL head coach. Singletary, the most recent, went 8-8 in his first full season with San Francisco only to be fired after going 5-10 in 2011.

Veteran Matt Hasselbeck helped cover up some of this team's rebuilding needs in Munchak's debut season.

When the Titans decided in August to go with Jake Locker as their starting quarterback, they opened with their youngest roster in both average age and experience since 2006.

The eighth overall pick in the 2011 draft wound up missing five starts after hurting his left shoulder twice in the first four games. When Locker returned in November, the Titans had lost two starting offensive linemen from August, which reached four of the five by Dec. 2.

``We knew the transition of a new quarterback is definitely going to add to that, but when you're adding a new quarterback and then you're adding all these injuries, it's hard to get anything in sync,'' said Munchak, who is 14-17 as head coach.

Receiver Nate Washington, one of the few veterans on this team, said Wednesday he thinks Munchak has handled a difficult season the best he can.

``He's put blame where it need be as well as he's looked himself in the mirror in front of us,'' Washington said. ``He's told guys at the end of the day, we all have to go out and do our job.''

Munchak has made several moves this season trying to jumpstart his team. First, he convinced coordinators Chris Palmer and Jerry Gray to move from the sideline to the coaching box, then fired Palmer on Nov. 26.

With the Titans nine points shy of tying the franchise record for most points allowed, Munchak may have to make other changes to his coaching staff.

He also talked veteran offensive coach Tom Moore into joining the Titans for the final month to help new coordinator Dowell Loggains.

Munchak understands building can take patience. He wasn't part of a winning team himself until his sixth season as a player, and he has had fellow Hall of Fame players such as Elvin Bethea, Kenny Houston and Warren Moon talk to his Titans about surviving and thriving in tough seasons.

He brought in Kevin Carter a couple weeks ago as a reminder of how the Rams went from 4-12 in 1998 to winning the Super Bowl the next season.

``Adversity builds character, and we're going to find out what we're all about,'' Munchak said.

If he gets the time.

NOTES: Chris Johnson (ankle) and RB Jamie Harper (ankle) did not practice Wednesday along with LB Colin McCarthy (concussion), C Kevin Matthews (right ankle), CB Ryan Mouton (hamstring), TE Craig Stevens (concussion), WR Damian Williams (foot) and LB Will Witherspoon (chest). WR Kendall Wright (rib) was limited after missing last week's game.

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'It's like losing a brother': The human aspect of the NHL trade deadline

'It's like losing a brother': The human aspect of the NHL trade deadline

The NHL trade deadline is always a fun time for fans. It's a time for buyers to bring in the final key pieces of a Stanley Cup roster or maybe those one or two players needed to complete a run to the playoffs. For sellers, it is time to move players away and begin looking towards the future. It's a time when everyone with any interest in hockey pours over rosters, cap hits and stats trying to determine who could fit where like pieces on a chessboard.

The feeling is much different for the players.

"It's difficult," Nick Jensen said of the trade deadline. "It's a whirlwind. Everything's going on, you're kind of comfortable at the place you're at, you have a place where you played for a while and your family's there and all of a sudden, for me, I got traded and that night I was gone and I never really looked back."

To the players, the trade deadline is not just about shuffling names from roster to roster, this is real life. A player's life can change with one phone call and the news that he now has to pack his bags for a new city and get there in a matter of days, sometimes hours.

The uncertainty of the trade deadline affects every player of every team. Obviously there are those like Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom who know they are not going to be traded, but that doesn't mean friends can't be traded for or away. Whether your team is in a rebuild or a Cup contender, there's a chance the roster could look very different by 3 p.m. on Monday for any team in the NHL.

"It can be a little distracting at times for the whole team in general if you're a team that you think was going to be making some moves, but it can also especially be distracting if you're a guy that's being talked about being traded," said Jensen who was traded to the Caps in 2019 as a deadline move.

Some players find themselves to be the unwilling trade chips of a deal as general managers try to tweak their rosters. The news of a trade, however, can sometimes be a welcome relief. That certainly has been the case for most deadline pickups for Washington in recent years.

From a competitive standpoint, typically the Caps have sought reinforcements from teams that know they will not be headed to the playoffs. Players come to Washington with the hope of competing for a Stanley Cup or perhaps of being able to find a better fit and a bigger role than the one they are leaving.

"I was in really bad situation [in Chicago]," said Michal Kempny, who was a trade deadline pickup for the Caps in 2018. "Every change was good for me. I just kind of waited what's going to happen and I got traded here."

"To come here and have some big-time meaningful games coming up, and be right in the thick of the race, it's a lot of fun," the newly acquired Brenden Dillon said.

But that's on the ice. The off-ice implications are a bit more complicated.

Off the ice, players have to think about their homes, their wives or girlfriends and their kids. Off the ice, players are faced with the realities of a world that is not built around the schedule of a professional athlete.

"My wife had just finally started living with me because she was in grad school before that so it was like oh finally we get to live together," Jensen said, "And then we lived together for like five months then I get traded and like oh here we go again. Dealing with when you get traded the stuff outside of hockey can be tough like that."

Initially, players do not have to worry about much in terms of housing. They are put up in a hotel and can adjust to their new surroundings. Then they are left to trying to adjust to their new team.

"It's kind of different.," Kempny said. "New city, new organization, new teammates. It's part of our job and those things happening every year to a lot of guys."

Adjusting to a new team can be especially difficult when it is one as tight as the Caps.

While players are certainly excited to join the organization, there also comes with it a level of intimidation of walking into the locker room.

"It feels like a tight-knit family in here, and there's a reason that they've had so much success not just this year but in years past," Dillon said. "I'm just trying to be a piece to the puzzle, come in and do what I can."

"I'm coming into a team where I got traded for a guy that was here that a lot of the guys were pretty fond of so that's kind of in the back of your mind too," Jensen said. "I know the guys really liked [Madison Bowey.] I heard he was a really great guy so I know losing guys at trades can be tough in that sense because you could grow as a family here and it's like losing a brother. Going in and trying to replace that can be tough too."

Adjusting to a new team, adjusting to a new system, adjusting to a new city and doing it while also trying to figure out where you're going to live and if and when your family may move with you is a lot for anyone to handle. The trade deadline comes with the added pressure of having to adjust quickly. A player who is traded in December still has over half the season left to play. It comes with all the same challenges, but there is more time for a player to get his game in order.

At the trade deadline, however, it's crunch time. There is only about a quarter of the season left to play and suddenly all the off-ice things that most people would refer to as "life" become a distraction from the task at hand, something in which the players have to shut out.

"The approach I always took is I always try to control the things that I could control and getting traded is out of my control," Jensen said. "I just focus on each game and take the same approach that you always take whether you're being traded or not being traded. If you focus on the stuff outside of your game, it's just a distraction, it's a waste of energy and it kind of puts a toll on you a little bit.

"It's not easy. It's not easy shutting things out like that, but that's kind of the approach you've got to take."

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Wizards vs. Bucks: time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Wizards vs. Bucks: time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Wizards head back to the nation's capital Monday night for a matchup with Giannis Antetokoumpo and the Milwaukee Bucks at Capital One Arena.

Bradley Beal led the Wizards with an astounding 53 points in the team's loss Sunday night to the Chicago Bulls. Beal passed Jeff Malone on the team's all-time scoring list for second place. He now only trails Elvin Hayes.

The Bucks are coming off a dominant 21-point win over the 76ers on Friday night and look to continue their stellar play in D.C. against the struggling Wizards.

Here is everything you need to know.

WIZARDS vs. BUCKS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.

When: Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards vs. Bucks will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Bucks on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the MyTeams App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. BULLS TV SCHEDULE

6:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders

6:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live

7:00 PM: Wizards vs. Bucks

9:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live

10:00 PM: Wizards Talk

WIZARDS vs. BUCKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bradley Beal, Wizards (29.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 6.0 APG): Beal will look to carry the Wizards to victory against the Bucks after the team was unable to defeat the Bulls on Sunday night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks (30.0 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 5.8 APG): The Greek freak is on a fast-track to another MVP trophy and has the Bucks in a prime position to come out of the Eastern Conference.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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