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Seahawks strive to fix third-down struggles

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Seahawks strive to fix third-down struggles

RENTON, Wash. (AP) Third downs have been a nightmare for the Seattle Seahawks.

Offensively, they've struggled to convert to keep drives alive. Defensively, they've allowed far too many conversions.

Coming off a 19-13 loss at St. Louis, the Seahawks are making it a priority to address their third-down struggles.

``We're doing extra work on it the first two days this week,'' coach Pete Carroll said. ``... We need to get better there. First and second down, on both sides of the football, are pretty good for us so we need to accent that with the performance and execution on third down.''

Seattle's offense has converted on just 28 percent of its third downs so far this season. In the last two weeks, the Seahawks are converting at just a 20 percent clip.

``That's out biggest issue right now. It's our main focus,'' offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. ``We kind of like what we're doing on first and second down. I think 309 of our yards have come on first and second down and I think we've netted like minus-14 on third down. We've got to do better there.''

The struggles of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson have been exacerbated in third-down situations. The Seahawks are just one for their last 13 on called pass plays on third down in their last two games, with their only conversion coming on a scramble by Wilson. Seattle hasn't converted a third down through the air since the fourth quarter of their Week 2 win over the Dallas Cowboys.

``Sometimes it's maybe my fault or whatever it is,'' Wilson said. ``Now we're just focused on how do we fix it? How do we capitalize on those situations?''

While the defense has been playing well - ranked second in the league in both yards and points per game - it has struggled to stop teams on third down. Against St. Louis, Seattle forced the Rams into eight third-and-long situations but allowed five to be converted. All five conversions kept drives alive that led to 16 of the Rams' 19 points for the game.

``That's just not good football,'' linebacker K.J. Wright said. ``If we play good on first and second down, we've got to be able to get off the field on the money down.''

On the season, Seattle's opponents are converting on 43 percent of their third-down chances and 45 percent on tries of 10 yards or more.

``It's unacceptable. We can't continue to operate like that,'' defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. ``I don't know if we have to change things. We just have to be more disciplined.''

NOTES: DT Brandon Mebane missed practice on Thursday with a sore calf. Mebane has been hampered by calf problems in the past. He missed a game in 2009 and four in 2010 with calf issues. ... RB Marshawn Lynch (rest) returned to full participation in practice after being limited on Wednesday.

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What's next for Barry Trotz?

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What's next for Barry Trotz?

Barry Trotz is no longer the head coach of the Washington Capitals and, after resigning, he is officially free to pursue other opportunities. So what's next for the now former Capitals head coach?

For those who believe Trotz will simply retire, that seems unlikely. Trotz is only 55 years old. Plus, general manager Brian MacLellan indicated the main issue in the contract negotiations between him and Trotz was term. If Trotz was, in fact, seeking a five-year contract, that doesn't sound like someone who is ready to walk away from the game.

There is only one head coaching vacancy left in the NHL, that of the New York Islanders. New President of Hockey Operations Lou Lamoriello cleaned house after getting hired and fired both general manager Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight earlier in June. Now, suddenly, there is a Stanley Cup-winning coach on the market.

While it certainly makes sense for the Islanders to pursue Trotz, there's one big reason why Trotz, or anyone, would likely be hesitant to accept the job on Long Island and that is John Tavares.

New York's franchise player is a pending free agent and, until his contract situation is resolved, convincing anyone to take the head coaching job with the Islanders is a tough sell. If the Islanders re-sign Tavares, improve the defense and bring in a dependable starting goalie, then there is no reason to think they cannot be a playoff team.

But those are a lot of "ifs" and Tavares is a big one. If he goes, suddenly the situation on Long Island is much different. Tavares' decision could be the difference between the Islanders being a playoff team or getting a high lottery pick.

For Trotz to walk away from a team that just won the Stanley Cup to go to a New York team that may or may not have its best player back next season does not make a lot of sense.

But just because there may be only one head coaching vacancy open doesn't mean Trotz does not have any options.

The 2017-18 season saw no head coaching changes made during the season for the first time since the league expanded in 1967. Chances are jobs will begin to open up during the season especially if those teams believe they can land a Cup-winning coach as a replacement.

If you're Trotz, you just won a Stanley Cup. There is no reason to rush into another opportunity. Trotz will instantly be near or at the top of every wish list for teams in need of a head coach.

Don't just assume that Trotz will be on Long Island to start the 2018-19 season just because it is the only opportunity currently available. He can wait for the perfect opportunity to come to him.

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Cavaliers are gunning for Kawhi Leonard, though it's doubtful they have enough to interest Spurs

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Cavaliers are gunning for Kawhi Leonard, though it's doubtful they have enough to interest Spurs

With word out that Kawhi Leonard wants a trade from the Spurs, teams are lining up with offers to San Antonio and one of the NBA’s best teams has reportedly already made a call.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have contacted the Spurs about a potential Leonard trade, according to Cleveland.com. Terry Pluto wrote on Sunday that multiple teams have done the same. That is to expected, of course, as Leonard is one of the best players in the NBA. He's a two-time defensive player of the year and he's only 26.

Let's look at Cleveland as a potential destination. It should first be noted that it's questionable whether they have enough to land a player of Leonard's caliber. They have the eighth overall pick in Thursday's draft, but it may take a lot more than that to get Leonard.

They also have Kevin Love, who is an All-Star still in his prime. But if they gave him up, they would then need to seek more help to surround Leonard and LeBron James, if James decides to stay. Though James and Leonard are both top-five players in the NBA, they still likely wouldn't be able to beat the Warriors unless they had another running mate. Those two plus Love and then you're talking.

Whether the Cavs have the goods to land Leonard or not, it's no wonder why they are trying for him. Getting Leonard, a two-time All-NBA selection, would likely be enough to retain James, the best player in the game. If James were to look around the league for a top-shelf running mate, he would be hard-pressed to find one better than Leonard.

That is assuming Leonard is healthy, of course. He did miss all but nine games this past season with a quadriceps injury. That injury was central in a saga of discord between him and the team. Until he hits the court again, Leonard offers no guarantees. Still, he may be worth the risk for Cleveland, as the alternative is potentially seeing James walk. 

If the Cavs got Leonard, that would probably solidify their standing as the best team in the Eastern Conference, even if they lost Love in the process. Leonard is better than Love and they would arguably have the two best players in the East. They may not have enough to beat the Warriors, but that would likely give them the edge over the young teams like Boston and Philly that have been nipping at their heels.

Sending Leonard to the Cavs would get him out of the Western Conference and that might be enticing to the Spurs. If they send him to the Lakers, his reported preferred destination, that could come back to bite them much more often than it would if he was traded to the East. Though putting him in Cleveland would form another very good team, they wouldn't affect the Spurs directly but for two regular season games, unless they were to meet in the NBA Finals.

The Spurs haven't indicated they will actually trade Leonard, but it does seem to be heading in that direction. It sounds like Cleveland will at the very least give it a shot. 

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