Redskins

Porous Titans' 'D' now one of stingiest in the NFL

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Porous Titans' 'D' now one of stingiest in the NFL

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee defense was giving up more points than anyone else in the NFL earlier this season. The Titans were so bad they had nowhere to go but up.

Over the past six weeks they've gotten better.

Much better.

The Titans head to Green Bay on Sunday ranked in the top five in six different categories, including fourth in scoring defense holding opponents to 17.6 points per game since Nov. 11. That may not seem like much, but Tennessee gave up an NFL-worst 181 points through the first five games and still rank 30th in that category for the season.

Coach Mike Munchak says defensive coordinator Jerry Gray has to be happy with how the Titans have weathered the early storm.

``We knew it wasn't all the defense,'' Munchak said. ``It was turnovers, it was the offense. It was a lot of things that were leading to statistically things looking worse than they were. We obviously weren't playing as well as we needed to play on either side of the ball.''

Starting with a 37-3 win at Miami on Nov. 11, the Titans rank third in total defense holding opponents to 286 yards per game, first averaging 3.4 sacks per game, second in interceptions (10), sixth in third-down percentage (32.4 percent), eighth against the run (104.6 yards per game) and second in opponent's passer rating (60.7).

That's despite not having defensive captain Colin McCarthy at middle linebacker the past three games as he recovers from concussion symptoms.

``There are a lot of good things developing here as we finish up,'' Munchak said.

Defensive end Derrick Morgan, the first-round draft pick in 2010, had been perceived as a bust tearing an ACL in his first month as a rookie. But Morgan leads the Titans with 16 quarterback pressures, and he's tied for second with 4 1/2 sacks, including one in the win against the Jets.

Second-year linebacker Akeem Ayers is tied with end Kamerion Wimbley for the team lead with five sacks, and Ayers is second with 96 tackles. Rookie linebacker Zach Brown, who has started 11 games this season, was marked down by some in the draft for not being physical. The second-round pick out of North Carolina has 4 1/2 sacks, 79 tackles and is fourth in tackles.

Munchak said the young linebackers are starting to show the type of plays they can make with their size and strength.

``They have a lot of growing left. These guys are going to be a lot better than they are now,'' Munchak said.

The Titans were at their best this season against the Jets forcing a season-high five turnovers and also had four sacks for a second straight game. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers said the Titans played really good Monday night.

``I like to judge a team by kind of how they're playing lately, and I think they're playing really well,'' Rodgers said. ``They're an opportunistic defense. They have some guys with some ball skills in the secondary, they've got some athletic players. They're very young overall. I think it's a team that has a bright future.''

This streak started Nov. 11 when the Titans beat Miami 37-3 on the road. They also have played tough offenses in Houston and Indianapolis along with the struggling Jaguars and Jets.

The Packers (10-4) offer a stiffer challenge. Rodgers has been sacked 45 times this season, but he has a 104.7 passer rating throwing for 32 touchdowns with only eight interceptions. Only New England has had fewer passes intercepted this season.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said they are spending extra time studying film of the Titans (5-9) since these teams haven't played since 2008.

``They fly around, they have excellent length. Their secondary, also, is making plays,'' McCarthy said.

Cornerback Jason McCourty said the biggest key is the Titans are just playing better even though wins haven't resulted. Now they want to create more stops, turnovers and sacks to help the offense score more points and get more wins.

``Even though we're playing better, we want to get wins,'' McCourty said.

Notes: The Titans went through a light 45-minute session Wednesday. Munchak said receiver Kendall Wright is very sore after hurting his ribs against the Jets and will have to improve a lot to play in Green Bay. McCarthy will practice Thursday with no restrictions to test the linebacker. WRs Kenny Britt (knee) and Damian Williams (hamstring) were limited, while C Kevin Matthews (right ankle), CB Ryan Mouton (hamstring) and DE Scott Solomon (knee) also did not practice.

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One analyst explains why Redskins' financial value won't decrease with name change

One analyst explains why Redskins' financial value won't decrease with name change

As it stands now, the Washington Redskins are one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world. According to Forbes, the team is worth a whopping $2.2 million -- the 14th most-valuable franchise in all of sports, and the fifth most valuable team in the NFL.

With the team currently conducting an internal review of the moniker, it's worth wondering if a new name would hurt the value of the team. According to Randy Vataha -- the president of Game Plan LLC., which helps the service of helping people buy and sell sports franchises -- it shouldn't.

"I don't think it will really hurt the team's value ultimately," Vataha said to NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay.

Vataha explained that each franchise's actual name has little to do with its value.

"We're big believers and have a lot of data that indicates that yes, branding is important, yes, names are important in a lot of ways, but what's really important is the size and the demographics of the market," Vataha said.

The analyst gave the example of New York sports franchises, such as the Knicks and Rangers, and how they are consistently two of the most valuable teams in all of sports. Why? Because they play in New York City.

"The New York teams are all the top teams in every league," Vataha said. "The NFL is a little different because of how they share revenue, but the New York teams are always at the top, not because of the names of the teams. It's because of the marketplace.

"You'll have a lot of people, you'll have a lot of social media, you'll have a lot of political commentary back and forth," Vataha continued. "But at the end of the day, the core value is decided by the size of the market and the demographics of the market."

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This past week, a report surfaced from the Washington Post that the Redskins three minority owners were looking to sell their stake in the team, citing that they were "not happy being a partner" with Redskins majority owner Dan Snyder. The three minority owners -- Fred Smith, Dwight Schar and Robert Rothman -- make up approximately 40 percent of the team's ownership group.

Vataha said he understands both sides of the argument surrounding the team. Additionally, he said that the safest financial decision for the team would be to keep the name, despite all the public backlash they've received over the past couple of weeks.

RELATED: VATAHA DOESN'T BELIEVE SNYDER WILL BE FORCED OUT

However, immediately after, Vataha emphasized once more that he doesn't envision the name change truly making a big difference value-wise.

"I understand the arguments on both sides pretty well," Vataha said. "But I think from the financial standpoint, the safest thing is never change it. But, on the other hand, I don't think it'll be a big hit to value any way at all."

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Ish Smith says the food hasn't been bad in the NBA bubble

Ish Smith says the food hasn't been bad in the NBA bubble

Much has been made about the food provided to players so far in the NBA bubble, particularly during the first phase of arrival where they each quarantined for 36 hours. What has been dubbed as 'bubble grub' doesn't look all that appetizing, or at least like the food millionaires are used to.

For Wizards point guard Ish Smith, though, it's no big deal at all. He was asked about the food and gave the type of humble, down-to-earth answer you would expect from him.

"I'm okay. I'm low maintenance and I'm thankful for anything and everything. You're asking the wrong person. You might have to ask somebody else who lives a little bit more of a high maintenance life," he said. "For me, I'm thankful, I'm blessed. They bring us food, we eat it. I have no problems."

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Smith, 32, has played 10 seasons in the NBA, but you wouldn't know it when talking to him. He seems to have no ego, which might be the result of going undrafted and never being guaranteed anything throughout his career.

Smith doesn't seem to be fazed by any of the elements in Orlando that are making other players uncomfortable. He happens to really, really like going to Disney World, so maybe that helps.

He also just seems to be taking a very patient approach to the NBA's restart, knowing the league is doing what they can to make it all work.

"Obviously, we're in a situation where it's unfamiliar that we're not used to. But we've gotta adjust and kind of roll with the punches. It hasn't been bad. I've got no complaints," he said.

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