Green Bay still looking for back-to-back wins


Green Bay still looking for back-to-back wins

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Stringing wins together was something the Green Bay Packers did with ease last season.

This year, not so much.

Fresh off their rout of the previously unbeaten Texans, the Packers (3-3) head to St. Louis looking to win consecutive games for the first time this season.

``It's just playing good football,'' offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga said. ``If we play the way we know we can play, which Sunday was a good picture of that, we can stack these successes. Yeah, we had a good game. But that game's over. Now it's time to go out this Sunday and do it again. It's going to be important to do that, and it's going to be a challenge.''

Green Bay has largely avoided long stretches of losses under coach Mike McCarthy. Quite the opposite, in fact. The Packers' longest losing streak since 2008 is two games, and it has happened only three times. (Four if you count the loss to San Francisco in this year's season opener, which followed a loss in the playoffs last year.)

The difference this year, though, is that the Packers aren't putting together long stretches of victories, either. No stretch, actually, as Green Bay has alternated wins and losses each week.

Yes, one of those losses was courtesy of the Inaccurate Reception in Seattle, while another was on a last-minute score by Indianapolis. The Packers have been hit hard by injuries, too; starting inside linebacker D.J. Smith, who had already been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.

But a loss is a loss, no matter the circumstances.

``We obviously haven't had two consecutive wins this season, and we want to get back on that track,'' said defensive tackle B.J. Raji, who missed Sunday's game with a sprained ankle. ``Last week was a great start, but it doesn't mean too much if you don't keep (it up).''

The win over the Texans could prove to be a turning point, though, with the Packers showing the kind of dominance, on both sides of the ball, that's been expected of them all season. Aaron Rodgers tied a franchise record with six touchdown passes. He finished with a lofty 133.8 quarterback rating after going 24 of 37 for 338 yards passing and no interceptions.

Alex Green gave the Packers some balance, rushing for 65 yards on 22 carries.

The defense sacked Matt Schaub on each of Houston's first two series, one fewer sack than he'd taken in all of the first five games put together. Rookie cornerback Casey Hayward had two picks, and Sam Shields also had an interception.

``It's about consistency,'' said Rodgers, whose performance earned him NFC offensive player of the week honors. ``That was a good game for us offensively last week, but it doesn't really mean a whole lot unless we can get on a roll here and put two, three, four, five games in a row where you're playing like you want to on offense. So it's going to be about doing the things that we've done here in the past to be successful, to be consistent.''

That's exactly what McCarthy stressed last week following that disappointing loss in Indianapolis.

With everyone else in the country wondering what was wrong, the Packers insisted there was no reason to panic. They weren't happy with how they were playing, and even Rodgers said he had room for improvement. But rather than make any big changes, McCarthy had them focus on the details, little things that, taken together, can make a big difference.

And did against Houston.

``We just played a good football game,'' Bulaga said. ``I don't think the confidence of this team was rattled before it. We just needed to come out and play a good game, and we did.''

Now it's simply a matter of doing it all over again.

``There isn't a secret formula for urgency,'' Bulaga said. ``It's not something you turn on and off. It has to be a mindset thing, and I think this team has that mindset. It's just a matter of having a great week of practice and going out there Sunday and playing.''

Notes: Raji did not practice Wednesday, but said he hopes to Thursday. ... Rodgers was limited in practice because of a sore calf, but neither he nor McCarthy are concerned about the injury. ``I'm getting older. Taking it smart,'' Rodgers said. ... Rookie outside linebacker Nick Perry (knee) and Shields (shin) did not practice, and McCarthy did not sound optimistic they'll be able to play Sunday. ``I think both those guys will be stretched to make it this week,'' he said. ... Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP, was selected as player of the week for the second time in three weeks, and seventh time in his career.


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That time new Wizard Troy Brown dunked on No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley


That time new Wizard Troy Brown dunked on No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley

Back in high school, the newest Washington Wizard Troy Brown was an athletic freak. So much so that Brown dunked over the No. 2 pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, Marvin Bagley III.

Playing at Centennial High School from Las Vegas, Nevada, the 15th overall pick went straight at the dominating 6-11 Bagley and posterized the man.

Now from the other side: 

Although both were merely kids at the time (an each a few inches shorter), still you cannot question the confidence and athleticism of the Wizards' top pick. 

Heck, Brown is still athletic.

Now Oregon never got the chance to play Duke this past season, but Brown will get two chances for another poster on his wall with Bagley now on the Sacramento Kings. 


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Now the Islanders' coach, Barry Trotz explains why he left the Capitals

Now the Islanders' coach, Barry Trotz explains why he left the Capitals

DALLAS — Hours after being named head coach of the New York Islanders on Thursday, Barry Trotz made his first public comments since stepping down in Washington earlier in the week.

And, from the sounds of it, his departure was mostly a business decision.

“Yeah, obviously, I love the D.C. area,” he told reporters on a conference call. “But when it came to the business aspect, from my standpoint, I felt that it wasn’t really sincere [given] what we did together. So I decided that it was better to just move on.”

“I thank the fans,” he added. “I’m glad we could get it done. I said we could get it done in four years, and we did.”

Although the value of his contract with the Islanders has not been publicly disclosed, Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Trotz is set to earn “at least $4 million” per year—or more than twice what he was earning in Washington.

A source told NBC Sports Washington earlier this week that Trotz, who directed the Caps to their first Stanley Cup two weeks ago, sought $5 million per season for five seasons. The five-year term, that source said, was a non-starter as far as the Caps were concerned, given the relatively short shelf life of NHL coaches and the fact that Trotz had already been in Washington for four seasons.

When it became clear that the sides weren’t going to close the considerable gap between their positions, Trotz offered to step down and the resignation was accepted, making the 55-year-old a free agent.

When “I got the [counteroffer], I guess I knew it was time to go in a different direction,” he said.

In New York, Trotz replaces Doug Weight, who was fired earlier this month along with GM Garth Snow. Lou Lamoriello, a longtime NHL executive, took over for Snow and immediately started a search for a new head coach.

Once Trotz became available, it didn’t take Lamoriello to zero in on the NHL's fifth all-time winningest coach. The two met, exchanged ideas and quickly realized that they had found a good fit in one another. Trotz said he's already reached out to the Islanders' star captain, John Tavares, who could become the biggest prize on the free agent market on July 1. 

And, like that, Trotz now is the coach of a Metropolitan Division foe. The Caps and Isles will face off four times next season, beginning with a Nov. 26meeting in New York.

It’ll be weird, for sure. But professional sports is a business. And all sides involved in the Trotz saga were served a painful reminder of that this week.

Asked if he felt wanted in Washington, Trotz said: “Well, I’ll leave that up to the Caps to answer that. I think, absolutely. We just won a cup together and so I don't think that was an issue. I think it was more principle.”

In the end, Trotz wanted to be compensated like one of the top coaches in the game. And now he will, settling in behind big market coaches such as Toronto’s Mike Babcock ($6.25 million per year), Chicago’s Joel Quenneville ($6 million) and Montreal’s Claude Julien ($5 million).

“It’s good to be wanted,” he said. “It happened really quickly because you go from one emotion of winning the cup to the next emotion of leaving the team that you just won the Cup with, and you have to make some quick decisions. I know the timing of it—end of the season, the draft coming up, free agency [and] all that—there was some urgency on that. Both parties knew that, so we went to work at it and got it done.”