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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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Bradley Beal to Charlotte? Hornets reportedly interested in Wizards SG

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Bradley Beal to Charlotte? Hornets reportedly interested in Wizards SG

The Wizards' struggles have been on full display to the public this week, and the rumor mill continues to churn out news and gossip at a hectic pace. 

Days after ESPN reported that every Wizards player is available for trade discussions following a dismal 5-11 start, the Charlotte Observer reported Tuesday that the Hornets had expressed interest in Bradley Beal.

From the Observer's Rick Bonnell:

The Charlotte Hornets have inquired with the Washington Wizards about the possibility of acquiring shooting guard Bradley Beal, an informed source confirmed Tuesday. The source didn’t identify what the Hornets have offered for Beal, a 6-foot-5 guard averaging 21.5 points this season, or whether any progress has been made toward a deal.

A day prior, Beal was asked about the swirling rumors

"Ernie has a job. Ted has a job," he said. "The organization has a job and they're gonna do whatever it takes to make sure that the organization is going in a direction they need to. All we can do is continue to work hard every day, continue to - you know - put in work until something changes." 

The 25-year-old, who made the Eastern Conference All-Star squad in 2017, is averaging 21.6 points, 4.6 boards and 3.5 assists through 16 games this season. 

Washington (5-11) plays host to the Los Angeles Clippers (11-5) Tuesday night at Capital One Arena. It will air at 7 PM on NBC Sports Washington. 

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Wizards coach Scott Brooks on reports that practices got heated: 'I said some things I regret'

Wizards coach Scott Brooks on reports that practices got heated: 'I said some things I regret'

WASHINGTON -- There are NBA head coaches that meet with media members on game days before or after morning shootaround. Scott Brooks generally isn’t one of them.

He did Tuesday ahead of the Wizards’ home matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers after Washington’s internal squabbles leaked publicly Monday. The Wizards are under the spotlight.

“Obviously, everybody is well aware of some of the reports,” Brooks said. 

There was trade buzz Monday morning followed by details on Thursday’s heated practice including the organization fining John Wall for cussing out Brooks.

 “Last week definitely was a spirited practice and very intense practice,” Brooks said during a lengthy opening statement. “And looking back at it, like we talked about as it happened, I said some things that I regret. Our players said some things that they regret. And right after the practice, I had a conversation to hash things out, and everything was good. And then some of our players had some conversations, and they hashed things out, and everything was good.”

Until, for the Wizards, it wasn’t.

 The team lost back-to-back home games, trailing by hefty margins in both. The barrage of reports came the morning after Sunday’s 119-109 loss to Portland.

 “Unfortunately, things get out there,” Brooks said of the reports, which included multiple verbal altercations among teammates. “You always talk about keeping everything in but like I said, I’ve been in this league for a long time and when you have the start that you have, I should get criticized and I understand that. I have thick skin and I can handle that.”

“What happened in practice happened in practice,” Bradley Beal said. “Practice is closed. Practice is not a public thing. It got heated. You guys know that. Practice, I mean it's happened in this organization and every organization around the league. High school, college, it happens.”
Wall joined Brooks and Beal with largely explaining away the incident as something of a normal occurrence over an NBA season. Unfortunately, for the Wizards, the defensive struggles in their latest losses are also par for the course this season. The point guard didn’t blame the losses on the practice blowout.

“It wasn’t nothing to do with that, because we had a great practice after that,” Wall said. “We had great shootaround and we just didn’t come out and play well. We didn’t make shots, we didn’t move the ball, we didn’t defend. You can try to translate it to that, but we already know when we don’t play defense and don’t make threes, we’re a terrible team, and we showed that the last two games.”

As for the fine, Wall said simply, “I wasn’t worried about it. I knew it was coming.”

Who knows what’s coming from this team Tuesday and beyond. The Wizards believe they can turn around the season, or at least aren’t publically showing a level of desperation that suggests otherwise. If trades aren’t coming, the fix must come from within.

“You see that we’re not winning. Everyone is frustrated. At the end of the day, we have to be able to communicate with each other so we can learn from it and try to build on things together,” Porter said. “That’s the only way we can start winning games, to rally with each other instead of against each other.”

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