Capitals

Jaguars finally win at home, beating Titans 24-19

201211251240456265230-p2.jpeg

Jaguars finally win at home, beating Titans 24-19

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Jacksonville's locker room had a much different feel Sunday afternoon.

The sound system was thumping. Coach Mike Mularkey was chest-bumping everyone around. And players were downright giddy about getting two days off.

No doubt, winning provided some much-needed relief for the Jaguars.

Chad Henne threw two touchdown passes, sparking the NFL's worst offense for the second consecutive week, and the Jaguars beat the Tennessee Titans 24-19. Jacksonville (2-9) snapped a seven-game losing streak and was competitive at home for the first time in six games.

``It's good to have something good happen, really good,'' said Mularkey, who rewarded players by giving them Monday and Tuesday off. ``They needed that. A lot of people needed that. It was well earned.''

Henne was the key.

Making his first start in more than 13 months, Henne found Cecil Shorts III for a 59-yard touchdown in the third quarter and hooked up with rookie Justin Blackmon for a 7-yard score in the fourth. It was similar to what he did last week at Houston, when he came off the bench in place of injured starter Blaine Gabbert and threw for 354 yards and four touchdowns.

``Hopefully this builds confidence for everybody throughout these next five games, builds new life,'' said Henne, who hadn't won a start since December 2010.

Henne completed 17 of 26 passes for 261 yards, most of them to Shorts (4 catches for 105 yards) and Blackmon (5 for 62). Shorts set a franchise record with his fourth reception of at least 50 yards this season, surpassing the previous mark set by Keenan McCardell in 1998 and tied by Jimmy Smith the following year.

``It just seems that everything is clicking right now,'' Blackmon said.

It was far from perfect, though. Henne's first pass was tipped and intercepted. He also was sacked seven times, including two instances that took the Jaguars out of field-goal range.

But he made up for those mistakes with clutch throws, the kind Jacksonville had been missing much of the season - especially at home.

The Jaguars were outscored 153-44 in five losses at EverBank Field. They trailed 3-0 after Henne's interception, but slowly seized control by holding the Titans to field goals most of the day.

Tennessee had the ball inside Jacksonville's 25-yard line six times - and came away with just one touchdown.

Rob Bironas made four field goals and was wide left from 42 yards away. His miss loomed large late in the game.

The Titans (4-7) cut the lead to 21-19 on Jake Locker's 6-yard pass to Kenny Britt with 4:52 remaining and had the ball with a chance to take the lead. But linebacker Russell Allen tipped Locker's pass over the middle, and safety Dwight Lowery - back on the field after a five-week absence - hauled in his first interception of the season.

Josh Scobee's 41-yard field goal with 24 seconds remaining left the Titans in desperation mode for the final few snaps.

Locker completed 23 of 40 passes for 261 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions. His final heave was picked off.

Chris Johnson ran 21 times for 80 yards, including a 31-yard run on Tennessee's lone touchdown drive.

The talk in the Titans' locker room afterward, though, focused on being flat despite having two weeks to prepare.

``I don't think guys expected to come in here and just walk out and win the game,'' coach Mike Munchak said. ``Every team in the NFL is a good football team. If you don't think that, you're mistaken. I don't think our team prepared that way. I don't think we came here with that mindset today. We just didn't execute as well as we needed to to win the game.''

The Titans had won two in a row on the road and looked to stay in the playoff hunt with a win after their bye week. Now, they're probably a long shot in the AFC postseason picture.

``This makes it tougher and tougher to keep your playoff hopes alive when you drop games like this,'' linebacker Zach Brown said. ``We felt like this was a game where we were supposed to win.''

NOTES: The Jaguars lost three defensive starters: CBs Derek Cox (hamstring) and Aaron Ross (dehydration) did not play the second half, and DE Austen Lane (leg) came out late. ... The Titans are now 3-2 in games decided by seven points or less this season.

Quick Links

The Caps' Cup-winning roster is a lesson in building through the draft

usatsi_7971155.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

The Caps' Cup-winning roster is a lesson in building through the draft

Every year, the Stanley Cup-winning team shows the importance of building through the draft. This year, that team is the Washington Capitals.

With the NHL Draft starting on Friday, let’s break down the Capitals roster from the playoffs to see just how it was put together.

Acquired by the draft: Nicklas Backstrom, Madison Bowey, Travis Boy, Andre Burakovsky, John Carlson, Christian Djoos, Shane Gersich, Philipp Grubauer, Braden Holtby, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Alex Ovechkin, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Nathan Walker, Tom Wilson

Acquired as a free agent: Jay Beagle, Alex Chiasson, Brett Connolly, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, Devante Smith-Pelly

Acquired by trade: Lars Eller, Jakub Jerabek, Michal Kempny, T.J. Oshie

The first thing to note is that the vast majority of Washington’s roster is made up of draft picks. Specifically, the majority of the Caps’ top six on offense, three of its top six defensemen and both goalies were drafted by the team.

Of the free agent signings, only two were big money players in Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik. In 2014, defense was a major question mark for the Caps and Brian MacLellan made a splash as the new general manager by signing both blue liners to big deals. The majority of the signings, however, are cheap, low risk and high reward players.

Finally, the trades include players who filled obvious needs. The Caps needed Oshie to shore up the top six, Eller was brought in to be the third line center, Kempny stepped in as a top-four defenseman and Jerabek was brought in for defensive depth.

So what does this show us?

First, the draft is absolutely critical to building a team’s core. True superstar players are hard to come by. Once a team gets one, they do everything they can to keep them. The draft is a team's first opportunity to acquire a certain player and, if they have superstar potential, sign them long-term. John Tavares this season looks headed to free agency and the buzz around him stems from the fact that he is very much the exception, not the rule. The base of the Caps’ Stanley Cup team was built by drafting star players like Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Carlson, Holtby, etc.

This also shows the importance of the draft for depth. In the salary cap era, teams need to find enough cap room for their stars and their depth players. Having young players is absolutely critical because their low cap hit allows for the team to sign the expensive stars and make the important addition in free agency  or by trade. This is a formula that only works if those young players are productive as well.

Players like Vrana and Burakovsky, for example, played big roles in the playoff run, but also carried low cap hits.

So the Caps built a core through the draft and filled key roles with trades and mostly cheap free agent signings.

There is no formula for how to win a Stanley Cup, if there was everyone would do it, but this is about as close as you can come to one. A team has to draft very well and then build around those draft picks to be successful. You cannot hope to build simply through trades and free agency because of the cost. Trades always require sending an asset the other way and very often that asset turns out to be prospects or draft picks. Free agency, meanwhile, requires team overpay for top targets leading to serious cap trouble down the line.

There are always trades and free agent signings that prove to be important, but those are only pieces to a much large puzzle. To win a Stanley Cup, you have to build through the draft.

MORE CAPITALS COVERAGE:

Quick Links

2018 NBA Draft: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

2018 NBA Draft: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

The 2018 NBA Draft will take place on Thursday night as the newest wave of potential superstars like DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Mo Bamba and Luka Doncic enter the league. Here is everything you need to know for the big night...

2018 NBA DRAFT

When: 7 p.m.
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
TV: ESPN
Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Radio: ESPN

Wizards draft picks: 15th overall in the first round, 44th overall in the second round

First round order:

1. Phoenix Suns
2. Sacramento Kings
3. Atlanta Hawks
4. Memphis Grizzlies
5. Dallas Mavericks
6. Orlando Magic
7. Chicago Bulls
8. Cleveland Cavaliers
9. New York Knicks
10. Philadelphia 76ers
11. Charlotte Hornets
12. Los Angeles Clippers
13. Los Angeles Clippers
14. Denver Nuggets
15. Washington Wizards
16. Phoenix Suns
17. Milwaukee Bucks
18. San Antonio Spurs
19. Atlanta Hawks
20. Minnesota Timberwolves
21. Utah Jazz
22. Chicago Bulls
23. Indiana Pacers
24.Portland Trail Blazers
25. Los Angeles Lakers
26. Philadelphia 76ers
27. Boston Celtics
28. Golden State Warriors
29. Brooklyn Nets
30. Atlanta Hawks

Top prospects:

1. DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona
2. Marvin Bagley III, Duke
3. Luka Doncic, Slovenia
4. Jaren Jackson, Jr., Michigan State
5. Mo Bamba, Texas
6. Michael Porter, Jr., Missouri
7. Wendell Carter, Duke
8. Trae Young, Oklahoma
9. Collin Sexton, Alabama
10. Kevin Knox, Kentucky

Three things to watch...

Will Leonard get traded?

Last year's draft featured some big trades including Jimmy Butler going to the Timberwolves. This year, there seems to be at least a decent chance it happens with Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs. He wants a trade and they have been meeting with him in recent days, perhaps for a last-ditch pitch to remain with the team. If he gets dealt on draft night, it wouldn't be a huge surprise.

Who will the Kings pick?

A consensus has built for Ayton to go No. 1 to the Suns. After that, it's a major crapshoot and whomever the Kings select will produce a domino effect from there on down. Will they take Bagley, the safe pick, or go a riskier route with Doncic or maybe even Porter, Jr.? The best bet at this point appears to be Bagley, but nobody truly knows.

Where will Young and Porter, Jr. go?

The two most interesting prospects in this draft are Young and Porter, Jr. Young was a sensation in college basketball, but is undersized and appears to be boom-or-bust. He could flame out quickly at the next level or be some iteration of the next Stephen Curry. Porter, Jr. played only three games in college due to a back injury and now has hip issues as well. His talent is undeniable, but his injury history represents significant risk.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

For more on the NBA Draft, check out our preview special episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast: