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Jaguars hire Fisch, Babich as coordinators

Jaguars hire Fisch, Babich as coordinators

New Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley turned to former colleagues for his first two hires.

Bradley hired Miami Hurricanes offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch to the same position Saturday, charging him with remodeling one of the league's worst offenses. And Bradley hired longtime Chicago Bears assistant Bob Babich as defensive coordinator.

The 37-year-old Fisch could be Bradley's most important addition.

The Jaguars ranked 29th in the league in total offense this season, slightly better than their last-place finish in 2011.

Fisch spent the past two years as Miami's play-caller and quarterbacks coach, and his pro-style offense was consistently one of the most efficient in the country. The Hurricanes made significant progress in his second season, gaining 63.3 yards more a game and improving their scoring average by nearly a touchdown.

His biggest task in Jacksonville will be getting better quarterback play.

The Jaguars won just seven games the past two seasons with Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne and Luke McCown taking snaps.

Former general manager Gene Smith traded up to draft Gabbert with the 10th overall pick in 2010, but the former Missouri standout has made little progress during 24 starts.

Gabbert completed 58 percent of his passes for 1,662 yards in 2012, with nine touchdowns and six interceptions, before getting benched and ending the season on injured reserve. Gabbert is recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder.

Henne started the final six games, finishing with 2,084 yards passing, 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Both quarterbacks played behind a shaky offensive line - they were sacked a combined 40 times - and didn't have the benefit of having star running back Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) for the entire season.

Nonetheless, it was clear that neither would be a long-term solution at an all-important position.

New general manager Dave Caldwell said last week that he has ``others in mind'' to compete for the starting job.

Fisch has nine years of NFL experience, including working alongside Bradley in Seattle in 2010. He also has worked under Mike Shanahan, Brian Billick and Steve Spurrier.

Babich, meanwhile, has 29 years of coaching experience, including 10 in the NFL and six as a college head coach. With Bradley coming from a defensive background, he's likely to take a hands-on approach with a unit that ranked 30th in the league last season and last in sacks.

Babich spent the past nine seasons (2004-12) in Chicago, six years as linebackers coach and three as defensive coordinator. He also served as linebackers coach for St. Louis in 2003.

Prior to his NFL tenure, Babich spent six seasons as head coach at North Dakota State (1997-2002), where Bradley served as assistant.

Babich also spent time as an assistant at Tulsa (1984-87, 1990), Wisconsin (1988-89), Bowling Green State (1991), East Carolina (1992-93) and Pittsburgh (1994-96).

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Five observations from Wizards' 115-104 loss to the Brooklyn Nets despite Dwight Howard's huge night

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USA Today Sports

Five observations from Wizards' 115-104 loss to the Brooklyn Nets despite Dwight Howard's huge night

The Washington Wizards lost to the Brooklyn Nets 115-104 on Friday night. Here are five observations from the game...

Step back: The Wizards just can't crack the code of consistency or the pesky Brooklyn Nets.

After winning three straight and looking like they had made some corrections, the Wizards stumbled out of the locker room at halftime and couldn't match Brooklyn's energy. The Nets pulled away to lead by as many as 19 and handed the Wizards yet another blowout loss in a season of which are quickly piling up.

The Nets have the formula to give the Wizards fits. They are scrappy and play defense. They are cohesive and well-coached. The Wizards are susceptible against try-hards who play with a chip on their shoulder. They too often let others set the tone and that's just what the Nets did in this one. 

The Wizards are now 5-10 on the season. That matches their 15-game start from two years ago, when they rallied to win 49 games, but that only means so much, of course.

Threes were off: While their attempts are up, the Wizards have been shooting uncharacteristically bad from three this season. They entered the game 27th in the NBA, shooting just 32.8 percent.

In this game, they didn't just struggle to make threes, they had trouble shooting them at all. Brooklyn sold out to take away the perimeter and was successful doing it. 

The Wizards went 3-for-17 from three and shot just 17.6 percent. They were 2-for-13 entering the fourth quarter.

Surely, head coach Scott Brooks won't be happy about that. Three-point shooting continues to be a major point of emphasis for him.

Howard was dominant early: Perhaps we should have expected this from Dwight Howard. After all, it was the Nets, the team Howard was bought out by over the summer, right before he signed with the Wizards. 

Was three days with a franchise enough for a revenge game? Sure, we'll go with it.

Or, perhaps he's just a bad matchup for Brooklyn because they were the team he smacked around for 32 points and 30 rebounds against last season.

He didn't quite go 30-30, but Howard was unstoppable in the first half. He ate Jarrett Allen, who is a very talented young player, for lunch. Allen and the rest of the Nets' frontline were no match for Howard's strength.

Howard popped off for six of the Wizards' first eight points. By halftime, he had 17 points, nine rebounds, a steal and a block.

This game was a reminder of the fact he can do things his predecessor, Marcin Gortat, cannot. Howard, really, can produce in a way no Wizards' fourth option has been able to in years.

Markieff Morris has often served as the fourth scoring option behind John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter Jr. But Morris doesn't often go off for nearly a double-double in a half. 

But, the second half:  What was strange about Howard, though, is that he barely played in the second half until the game was out of hand. Howard picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter, but that didn't explain it all.

Howard played only five minutes from the start of the second half until there were less than nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter. During that stretch, Allen found success against the Wizards' small-ball lineups and helped the Nets pull away.

By the time Howard returned, the Wizards were down 19 points. Brooks had something that was working really well and, in part because of the fouls, he went away from it a little too long. It proved costly.

Morris struggled: As good as Howard was, Morris had one of his worst games of the season. The Wizards power forward had one of those nights we see far too often where he wasn't active enough on defense or on the boards. He couldn't get anything going offensively, either.

Morris, who ended the game with four points and two rebounds in 20 minutes, had zero points and zero rebounds in nine minutes in the first quarter. 

While the Nets' big men were overmatched by Howard's strength, Morris couldn't keep up with their quickness. He was a step behind and had trouble matching their bounce around the rim.

Morris predictably didn't play at all in the fourth quarter. That's the way it goes with Brooks now.

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Despite coming off of the bench, Bruno Fernando delivered a perfect performance against Hofstra

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USA TODAY Sports

Despite coming off of the bench, Bruno Fernando delivered a perfect performance against Hofstra

COLLEGE PARK, Md. --- Bruno Fernando came off the bench to deliver 17 points and seven rebounds as part of a balanced offense as Maryland defeated Hofstra 80-69 on Friday.

Fernando made all eight of his field goal attempts for the Terrapins (4-0). It was the 12th time in school history a player was perfect from the floor with at least eight attempts and the first since Sean Mosley was 8 of 8 against Longwood in 2010.

When asked why Fernando did not start in the game, head coach Mark Turgeon made it sound like it was more than just a simple line-up change.

"I'm about teaching life lessons and I'm just going to leave it at that. That's more important than winning to me," Turgeon said.

Freshman Eric Ayala scored a career-high 14 points, while Aaron Wiggins added 13. Darryl Morsell had 12 points, and both Anthony Cowan Jr. and Jalen Smith had 11. It was the first time since Jan. 7, 2017, against Iowa that Maryland had six players score in double figures.

Justin Wright-Foreman, who entered the game tied for 10th in the country with 25.3 points per game, scored 27 points for the Pride (2-2). Hofstra built a 37-31 lead the break, the first time Maryland trailed at halftime this season.

Hofstra extended its edge to 43-35, but Maryland responded with a 16-3 run to claim the lead for good. The Terps never led by less than three points in the final 14 minutes.

BIG PICTURE

Hofstra: The Pride is an efficient scoring team and showed in the first half why they are expected to contend in the Colonial Athletic Association this season. Maryland is Hofstra's lone power conference opponent, and the Pride is unlikely to see a frontcourt as athletic as Fernando and Smith the rest of the season.

Maryland: The Terps continue their build up toward a difficult stretch that starts Nov. 23 and includes games against Marshall, Virginia, Penn State, Purdue and Loyola Chicago in a 16-day stretch. Maryland is off to a 4-0 start for the fifth consecutive season.

UP NEXT

Hofstra returns home to face Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday.

Maryland looks to improve to 9-0 all-time against Mount St. Mary's when the Mountaineers visit on Sunday.

NBC Sports Washington's Tyler Byrum contributed to this report. 

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