Nationals

Jets hire Seahawks exec John Idzik to be GM

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Jets hire Seahawks exec John Idzik to be GM

NEW YORK (AP) John Idzik will try to turn things around for the troubled New York Jets.

Woody Johnson believes he's up to the massive task.

The Jets hired the Seattle Seahawks executive to be their general manager Friday, completing an interview process that began two weeks ago and included 10 candidates.

The 52-year-old Idzik, the Seahawks' vice president of football administration, was selected by Johnson and team president Neil Glat.

He beat out Pittsburgh executive Omar Khan and Jets assistant GM Scott Cohen, among others, for the job that opened when the Jets fired Mike Tannenbaum on Dec. 31 after seven seasons.

Idzik's primary strengths include managing salaries and the salary cap, but has also worked in player personnel - a unique combination that attracted the Jets. He has been with the Seahawks the past six seasons after previously working in the front offices of Tampa Bay and Arizona.

``It has been very enlightening getting to know Mr. Woody Johnson, Rex Ryan and Neil Glat and I am very grateful for them making me feel very welcomed as a member of the Jets family,'' Idzik said in a statement issued by the team. ``I am eager to get started building on the foundation that is already in place.''

Idzik will be formally introduced at a news conference next Thursday at the team's facility in Florham Park, N.J.

Idzik will have the final say on all personnel decisions, while Ryan's status in the decisionmaking process will not change from what it had been in his first four seasons.

Both Idzik and Ryan will attend Senior Bowl workouts in Mobile, Ala., early next week. Ryan met with Idzik late in the process, with the two discussing their football philosophies - but Ryan had no influence on the hiring.

The Jets were the last of seven teams needing to fill their GM spot this offseason after Cleveland hired Michael Lombardi for their vacancy earlier Friday. New York used Jed Hughes of Korn/Ferry International to aid them in the search, which began on Jan. 4 and included Tom Gamble, David Caldwell, Jerry Angelo, Marc Ross, Ted Sundquist, Brian Gaine and Randy Mueller as candidates.

Johnson, Glat and Hughes were present for all interviews, while Ira Akselrad, president of The Johnson Company, Inc., was in for several of them.

``After a thorough search in which we met many qualified and outstanding candidates, it was clear to me that John was the right choice,'' Johnson said in a statement.

Idzik, who has a math degree from Dartmouth, will face immediate challenges with the Jets. He will have to make decisions on whether to keep quarterbacks Mark Sanchez, who is due $8.25 million in guarantees next season and would cost the Jets a $17.1 million cap hit if they cut him, and Tim Tebow, who is not expected back after one disappointing and unproductive season.

New York is also about $19 million over the salary cap, but could quickly get under by releasing a few veteran starters such as linebackers Bart Scott and Calvin Pace. The Jets have several starters scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, including safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, defensive lineman Mike DeVito, running back Shonn Greene, offensive linemen Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson, wide receiver Braylon Edwards and kicker Nick Folk.

Another potential challenge for Idzik will be working with Ryan, who was kept by Johnson despite the team finishing 6-10 last season and missing the playoffs for the second straight year.

At a season-ending news conference last week, Johnson defending retaining Ryan by saying the coach ``has a rare ability,'' and added that potential GM candidates would have to be willing to work with Ryan.

That setup - having a coach already in place for an incoming GM - was considered a possible drawback by some, but both Johnson and Ryan insisted it would not cause any hangups in finding a replacement for Tannenbaum.

``I'm pretty sure I'll have the exact same agenda that the general manager will have and that's, we want to win,'' Ryan said last week. ``I know that I don't know who the general manager is, but I promise you, he wants to win as bad as I do and that's something certainly we'll lean on.''

Ryan's coaching staff will look markedly different next season with all three coordinators gone as well as several assistants. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine left to take a similar position with Buffalo, but Ryan promoted close friend Dennis Thurman, the team's defensive backs coach, to replace Pettine.

Special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff retired after the season, and will be replaced by assistant Ben Kotwica.

Embattled offensive coordinator Tony Sparano was fired after just one season as the Jets finished 30th in overall offense after dealing with several injuries and inconsistent play by key players. He will be replaced by Marty Mornhinweg, who spent the past 10 seasons with Philadelphia, including the past seven as the offensive coordinator.

Sanchez continued to regress under Sparano, who replaced Brian Schottenheimer, and was benched late in the season. Sparano also couldn't figure out how to effectively use Tebow, who was expected to have a major role but instead barely saw the field in most games.

Idzik, a native of Detroit, graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth in 1982 and played wide receiver for the Big Green. He and his wife Carol have a daughter and two sons, including Bradley Idzik, a sophomore wide receiver at Wake Forest.

Before joining the Seahawks, Idzik spent three seasons as the senior director of football operations for Arizona.

He spent the previous 11 years with Tampa Bay, working his way up from pro personnel assistant to assistant general manager and helping build the Buccaneers' team that won the Super Bowl in 2003.

Idzik has also served as an assistant coach at Duke, SUNY Buffalo and Aberdeen of the British American Football League.

Idzik's father, John, was a longtime NFL coach, including a stint as the Jets' offensive coordinator from 1976-79.

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Nationals walked off again, this time by Cardinals' Paul DeJong

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Nationals walked off again, this time by Cardinals' Paul DeJong

ST. LOUIS -- Nationals manager Dave Martinez was awake most of the night after Washington lost on a walk-off grand slam Sunday.

He likely won't be catching up on that missed sleep Monday.

Paul DeJong handed the Nationals their second straight walk-off loss, capping a back-and-forth finish with a game-ending solo homer in the ninth inning of the St. Cardinals' 7-6 victory Monday night.

DeJong took Koda Glover (0-1) deep leading off the ninth on a 3-1 pitch. A night earlier, Ryan Madson allowed a game-ending ninth-inning grand slam to the Chicago Cubs' David Bote in a 4-3 defeat.

"I don't sleep most nights, I like to watch replays of the game," Martinez said. "And last night was no different."

Washington's bullpen has blown saves in three of its past four games. All-Star closer Sean Doolittle has been on the disabled list since early July, and top setup man Kelvin Herrera went to the DL with right rotator cuff impingement last week.

"I don't know what else to do," Martinez said of the bullpen.

The usually stoic DeJong wasn't quite sure how to celebrate his first career walk-off homer. He started calm, keeping his head down as he rounded the bases. After coming around third, though, he whipped his helmet into the grass, threw his arms down and bellowed out a roar.

"My first walkoff, it felt so good I had to do something a little different," DeJong said.

The Cardinals recorded their 10th walkoff of the season and DeJong became the sixth different player to end a game in grand fashion.

"They're all special, all emotional," St. Louis interim manager Mike Shildt said. "These guys have the mentality, `Do your job, keep the line moving.' They have a lot of trust with each other."

The Cardinals have won six in a row and moved to nine games over .500 for the first time this season.

DeJong's 380-foot drive ended a wild final two innings.

Matt Carpenter and Jedd Gyorko homered in the eighth inning to put St. Louis up 6-4. Gyorko started the rally with a leadoff drive, and Carpenter followed with a three-run homer off Sammy Solis.

The Nationals tied it at 6 in the top of the ninth on RBI singles by Daniel Murphy and Matt Wieters off closer Bud Norris. Dakota Hudson (3-0) relieved Norris and stranded two baserunners by retiring Wilmer Difo and Adam Eaton.

Juan Soto and Bryce Harper homered for the Nationals, who have lost five of seven.

Gyorko sparked St. Louis' big eighth inning with his homer off Justin Miller. Kolten Wong and Patrick Wisdom then singled to set up Carpenter's 33rd homer. Carpenter has homered in seven of his past 10 games. He extended his major-league leading on-base streak to 31 games with a first-inning bunt single. He has 17 homers during that string.

Harper won a 10-pitch battle with starter Miles Mikolas by drilling his 29th homer leading off the fourth to lead 2-1.

Ryan Zimmerman added a run-scoring double in the second for the Nationals.

Jose Martinez had four hits for the Cardinals.

Mikolas gave up four runs on four hits over seven innings. He struck out four and walked one.

Tommy Milone started for Washington and gave up two runs on 10 hits over 4 1/3 innings.

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Need to Know: Redskins' Gruden would like clarification on the new helmet rule

Need to Know: Redskins' Gruden would like clarification on the new helmet rule

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on Tuesday, August 14, two days before the Washington Redskins host the Jets in their second preseason game. 

Talking points

The NFL officiating crew of Carl Cheffers visited the Redskins facility over the past couple of days to give their annual rules update seminar to the players, coaches, and media. The big topic was, of course, the new rule that prohibits players from leading with their helmets when contacting another player. 

Here is the exact wording of the rule, per the video that was shown to the players, coaches, and media. 

The officiating standards for the Use of Helmet rule are:

  • Lowering the head (not to include bracing for contact)
  • Initiating contact with the helmet to any part of an opponent. Contact does not have to be to an opponent’s head or neck area — lowering the head and initiating contact to an opponent’s torso, hips, and lower body, is also a foul.
  • Making contact on an opponent (both offense and defense)

Prohibiting players from leading with their helmets in the interest of safety is an admirable goal. Jay Gruden said that he was in favor of it in theory, but he saw issues in the implementation.

"We are in constant dialogue, we have the video, we’ve seen multiple videos and we understand what they’re trying to do, and we respect that,” said Gruden. “We will try to play to the rules, but there still are some gray areas there that I’m concerned about as a coach that can cost you football games and can cost players suspensions and all that. So hopefully those gray areas don’t come up and bite you.”

Gruden was asked to drill down on the “gray areas”. 

"I just think they are the 'bang-bang' type plays,” he said. “You know, the receiver goes up for a pass and the defensive back has a low target and then at the last second the receiver ducks his head; I mean is it targeting or not?”

Gruden said that he hoped that the officials would keep their flags in their pockets if there was any doubt. I asked Cheffers what they would do if it wasn’t clear if a violation had been committed. His response did not answer my question, but it did shed some light on the process that is going on during the preseason.  

“Certainly in preseason we do things differently than we do in the regular season,” he said. “I think what’s going to happen is that we’re going to build a library of plays—stuff that we call, stuff that we don’t call—we’re going to build a library to make a decision when the regular season comes to exactly what they want us to call and exactly what they want us to stay away from. At that point, we’re doing exactly as they direct.”

So, in other words, the enforcement of the rule is a work in progress. I suppose that’s the only way to do it since the rule is fewer than 50 words and the owners voted on it without any real input from the competition committee or anyone else. Some trial and error is called for. 

The problem is, the trial and error won’t end when the season starts. And, last time I checked, a loss due to a mistaken application of the rule would be just as costly in September as it would be in December.

Bureau of statistics

The Redskins were penalized for 733 yards last year; only one team, the Panthers, was penalized fewer yards. 

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The agenda

Today: Jay Gruden news conference 9:30; Practice with Jets 9:45; players available to the media after practice.

Upcoming: Preseason Jets @ Redskins (Aug. 16) 2 days; Final cut (Sept. 1) 18 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 26 days

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page,Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler