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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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Capitals roster cuts: Draft picks Connor McMichael, Aliaksei Protas headline initial round

Capitals roster cuts: Draft picks Connor McMichael, Aliaksei Protas headline initial round

The Capitals made their first round of training camp cuts on Thursday, trimming 18 players from the team’s roster including preseason standouts Connor McMichael and Aliaksei Protas.

McMichael was Washington’s first-round draft pick in 2019. He tallied an incredible assist in Monday’s preseason opener, backhanding a no-look pass to a wide-open Damien Riat. His solid performance earned him another game on Wednesday where he moved up to the third line. The highlight of the night was McMichael attempting a between-the-legs shot on Stanley Cup champion goalie Jordan Binnington.

“It’s a pretty good goalie he was trying that move on,” head coach Todd Reirden said. “He has some swagger to him, he has some confidence. He’s not afraid to try plays. That’s some of the stuff that pushes guys into the first round.”

McMichael’s strong play in camp and in the preseason opened the door perhaps for him to compete to stay in Washington for the start of the season.

With the suspension to Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington finds itself down a center for the first three games. With Lars Eller moving up to the second line, that leaves an opening on the third between Carl Hagelin and Richard Panik, where McMichael played on Wednesday.

That, however, does not appear to be in the cards as McMichael is headed back to his junior team, the London Knights.

Protas, who scored a goal and two assists on Monday, was also among the players cut. A third-round draft pick in 2019, Protas was extremely impressive in the preseason for his all-around game. He showed good awareness, vision and speed. His skating form needs work, but this is a player who looks like he has an NHL future ahead of him which is not always the case for mid-round draft picks.

The fact that McMichael and Protas were among the first cuts should not be seen as an indictment of their play by the team. Junior players are usually among the first cuts so they can return to their teams during training camp. The only reason this was a question was because of Kuznetsov’s suspension, but ultimately the team has other candidates to turn to at third-line center. With a brutal October schedule, the first week of the season may not be the best time to get cute or creative with roster choices.

Here are all of the cuts the Caps made on Thursday:

Loaned to their junior teams:

Eric Flrochuk (Saskatoon, WHL)
Alex Kannok-Leipert (Vancouver, WHL)
Connor McMichael (London, OHL)
Aliaksei Protas (Prince Albert, WHL)

Released from their ATOs:

Hayden Hawkey
Beck Warm

Assigned to Hershey:

Casey Bailey
Erik Burgdoerfer
Tommy Hughes
Kale Kessy
Chris McCarthy
Matt Moulson
Logan Thompson
Matthew Weis
Steven Whitney

Kody Clark and Riley Sutter, who are both dealing with upper-body injuries, were reassigned to Hershey as well to continue rehab.

In addition, Damie Riat has been returned to his European team EHC Biel-Bienne of the NLA in Switzerland.

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Local teams, stars congratulate Elena Delle Donne on historic second WNBA MVP award

Local teams, stars congratulate Elena Delle Donne on historic second WNBA MVP award

Elena Delle Donne is, once again, the Most Valuable Player in the WNBA.

She's the first player in WNBA history to earn the honor with two different teams.

"I am extremely proud of this honor, but we still have work ahead of us and we’re all focused playing our hardest to bring a championship to Washington," Delle Donne said in a release.

After the announcement of Delle Donne's historic achievement, her teammates and the greater D.C. sports community showered her with praise all over social media.

Delle Donne and the Mystics will take on the Las Vegas Aces in Game 2 of the WNBA Semifinals at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday night.

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