Nationals

Ryan could be staking 2 jobs on Sanchez

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Ryan could be staking 2 jobs on Sanchez

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Rex Ryan is as loyal as an NFL coach possibly can be, and his decision Wednesday to stick with Mark Sanchez at quarterback was the logical move for now.

Staying with Sanchez has its pitfalls, too, and Ryan could be staking not only Sanchez's future with the New York Jets on what happens in the final four weeks of the season, but his own job security.

``It's one where I obviously have to get this decision right, and I believe I have,'' Ryan said, exuding confidence but - as the coach of a 5-7 team - maybe not his signature bravado.

Ryan's benching of Sanchez on Sunday against Arizona was done not just to rescue the Jets from another embarrassing defeat. It was done to deliver a message to the only starter Ryan has had for nearly four seasons, since both he and Sanchez arrived with the Jets.

``The thing we have not done a good job of is protecting the ball,'' Ryan said. ``Mark is the obvious guy we are talking about.''

The strategy worked two ways. Third-stringer Greg McElroy made his NFL debut a successful one, leading the Jets to a 7-6 win. And Sanchez say he got the message was delivered and understood.

``I know I can play better and it's time to prove it,'' Sanchez acknowledged. ``I put myself in a tough spot and it's time to work my way out of it.''

That chore begins Sunday at Jacksonville, but clearly this is not a one-game project. The ramifications of keeping Sanchez as the starter will have a long-term effect on the franchise.

After leading the Jets to the AFC title game in his first two seasons, Sanchez has regressed as a passer and as a decision maker. Never was that more apparent than in the victory over the Cardinals, and Ryan finally pulled him for the untested McElroy late in the third quarter, to loud cheering from the home fans.

Yet Sanchez has never had someone to truly challenge for his position and, even now after perhaps the worst two-game stretch of his career, he remains the Jets' only viable option.

The Tim Tebow experiment has been an utter failure as the Jets have found no way to make use of him in their offense. The flutterballs he throws, his inability to find secondary receivers and the limited play selection for him all have made Tebow a virtual nonentity - and now he has broken ribs.

McElroy was outstanding at Alabama, leading the Crimson Tide to a national championship. But he's raw and has little familiarity with the starters on offense because he gets virtually no snaps during the week's practices. He provided a spark against Arizona and could do so again, but making him the No. 1 QB at this point is a reach.

Going with Sanchez, albeit on a short leash, is not.

Of course, it will need to be an improved and wiser Sanchez.

``Sometimes you learn from when you're put in that position, when somebody goes in,'' Ryan said. ``And sometimes it's as easy as you step back and see somebody else in that role. He hasn't really had that before. I think sometimes you learn a great deal from that.''

Ryan had better hope that's the case, because his loyalty to Sanchez could backfire on the coach. They've never been more inextricably tied together.

Sanchez is owed $8.25 million in guaranteed money for 2013 as part of a contract extension the team gave him last March after failing in a short pursuit of Peyton Manning. Ryan certainly had a hand in that decision.

Until now, Ryan never has wavered in his support of Sanchez, even when it became obvious the quarterback wasn't progressing the way other fourth-year QBs such as Matthew Stafford and Josh Freeman had. Ryan recognizes that the contract extension and having no real competition for Sanchez left him with few choices that wouldn't smack of panic.

Ryan is hoping Sanchez finds his way even though he is working with the least-talented group of teammates he's had with the Jets. New York lacks a No. 1 receiver with Santonio Holmes sidelined - some say Holmes isn't a No. 1, either - and the rest of his targets are young. Running back Shonn Greene wouldn't start for most teams, and his backups are a nondescript bunch. The line has been in a slump for nearly two seasons.

Those issues are not Sanchez's fault; they lie with personnel decisions made by management, including Ryan.

What is Sanchez's responsibility is executing on the field, both mentally and physically. He's shown little adeptness in either area this season.

``We are where we're at. I can't go back and change anything,'' Sanchez said. ``My job is to play well for the guys in this locker room and for a head coach who believes in me.''

A coach who believes so much in him that he might be staking his own job on that faith.

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Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes

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USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes

The MLB All-Star Game is at Nationals Park and is now less than a month away, so let's check in on how D.C.'s top players and fan favorites are doing in the voting. 

After the first National League All-Star Game ballot update last week, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams were the three Nationals among the top players receiving votes. And while that's still the case, they've all dropped one position since last week. Perhaps because of the Nats' recent slump?

Opening as the No. 1 outfielder, Harper is now No. 2 in the voting with 1,002,696 tallies, behind Atlanta Braves right fielder Nick Markakis with 1,173,653 votes. They are, however, the only two outfielders with more than a million votes and 2-of-5 overall in the voting. 

Adams — who was 14th among outfielders last week — slid one spot to No. 15 with 237,165 votes.

Last week, Turner was the No. 4 shortstop on the ballot, but he has since dropped to No. 4 with 279,071 votes. He's behind San Francisco Giants' Brandon Crawford, Braves' Dansby Swanson, Chicago Cubs' Addison Russell and Colorado Rockies' Trevor Story — who was the one to jump Turner this time around. 

If you're a Nats fan who doesn't like these results, don't worry. You can keep voting until July 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET and you can vote up to five times every 24 hours. Read more about how to vote for your favorite players in the MLB All-Star Game HERE

The 2018 NL-AL matchup is in Washington, D.C. on July 17.

MORE NATS NEWS:

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Redskins schedule preview: Weeks 13 and 17 vs. Eagles

Redskins schedule preview: Weeks 13 and 17 vs. Eagles

We’re previewing every game of the 2018 season with a look forward and a look back. Up today, it’s the two games against the Eagles. 

Week 13 December 3 (Monday night), Lincoln Financial Field

Week 17, December 30, FedEx Field

2017 Eagles: 13-3, First in NFC East, Super Bowl champions 

Projected 2018 wins per Westgate SuperBook: 10.5

Early line: Week 13, Redskins +7.5; No lines established for Week 17

Key additions: DE Michael Bennett, WR Mike Wallace

Key losses: DE Vinny Curry, WR Torrey Smith, RB LeGarrette Blount, DT Beau Allen

Notable: Quarterback Carson Wentz is aiming to be ready for Week 1 after suffering a torn ACL late in the season.  

Biggest questions: 

  • If Wentz isn’t ready, the Eagles have Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles ready. Is the real Foles the one who has been a journeyman or the one who starred in the playoffs? And will Wentz continue the freewheeling style that helped make him successful after the injury?
  • After winning Philadelphia its first Super Bowl, will the Eagles suffer from a hangover? 

Series history

The Redskins lead the all-time series 82-75-6; the Eagles won both meetings last year after Washington had won five straight. 

Series notables

The first time: October 10, 1937, Griffith Stadium — With the Redskins trailing 7-0, rookie Sammy Baugh twice led the Redskins deep into Eagle territory. Washington couldn’t push it across the goal line either time, though, and Philly got out with a 14-0 win.

The last time: October 23, 2017, Lincoln Financial Field — The Redskins took a 10-3 lead midway through the second quarter, but Wentz and the Eagles took over after that, scoring 21 unanswered points. The Redskins got it back within a touchdown and on a third and eight play early in the fourth quarter, it looked like they had Wentz sacked. However, he scrambled out of trouble and ran for the first down. That drive ended with a touchdown pass and Philly went on to win 34-24.

The best time: January 5, 1991, Veterans Stadium — After getting pummeled by the Eagles in the Body Bag Game (see “The worst time” below), the Redskins qualified for the playoffs and got their shot at revenge. The seedings called for the Redskins to return to the scene of the crime, Veterans Stadium, for a first-round playoff contest.

A near turnover that wasn't was the game's turning point. The Redskins had taken a 7-6 lead and were driving for more when the ball popped loose from Earnest Byner's grasp when he was tackled at the Philadelphia six. CB Ben Smith scooped the ball up and ran 94 yards for an apparent TD. 

Fortunately for the Redskins, instant replay showed that the ground caused the fumble and the call was reversed, with the Redskins retaining possession. The reversal became a 10-point turnaround as Chip Lohmiller connected on a short FG and instead of a six-point deficit, the Redskins had a four-point lead. The Eagles' offense never could get untracked and the Redskins won 20-6.

The worst time: November 12, 1990, Veterans Stadium — As the Redskins went into 1990, the core players on the team, Art Monk, Joe Jacoby, Jeff Bostic, Charles Mann, Darrell Green, Don Warren, and Monte Coleman, were on or approaching the over the hill side of 30.  The team had gone from Super Bowl Champs in 1987 to a losing record in ’88 to out of the playoffs again in ’89. They were facing their last stand as they went into The Vet for a November Monday night game.

This one became known as "The Body Bag Game". Five Redskins had to be carted off of the field as Buddy Ryan's team knocked a total of nine out of the game, including both of the active QB's. The carnage induced one Eagle to yell, "Do you guys need any more body bags?'' as yet another injured Redskin was lying on the turf. The Eagles and Ryan taunted the Redskins after the game, a 28-14 Philadelphia win that was not nearly that close.

Redskins schedule series

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