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Titans owner keeping Mike Munchak as his coach

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Titans owner keeping Mike Munchak as his coach

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Mike Munchak will be back as Titans coach for another year. Chief operating officer Mike Reinfeldt is out after the franchise's second 6-10 season in three years.

Munchak announced owner Bud Adams' decision at his news conference Monday. The coach said Adams, who turns 90 on Wednesday, understands the challenges the Titans faced when Munchak took over in February 2011. Munchak said he knows his boss for 30 years wants a championship and realizes what the Titans faced in deciding to keep him for the third year on his four-year contract.

``He felt that move (firing the coach) right now wasn't the right move to make so hopefully I'll prove him right,'' Munchak said.

Adams put his team on notice after a 51-20 loss to Chicago on Nov. 4 and said after a 55-7 embarrassment in Green Bay on Dec. 23 he wanted answers from his front office and head coach on what went wrong this season. The Titans routed Jacksonville 38-20 for their second win in three games to finish the schedule.

The Titans went from 9-7 in Munchak's debut season in 2011 to 6-10 after turning the offense over to Jake Locker, the No. 8 draft pick in 2011. They reeled off six losses by at least 21 points or more while giving up a franchise record 471 points - worst in the NFL.

Tennessee has not reached the playoffs since 2008 and last won a postseason game in January 2004. Asked if Adams has given him a mandate of playoffs or else in 2013, Munchak, who will be meeting with the owner and general manager Ruston Webster later this week, had a quick answer.

``Not yet,'' Munchak said.

Reinfeldt, a former Houston Oilers player for Adams, was promoted to chief operating officer and senior executive vice president in January after five seasons as general manager.

Munchak pointed out the NFL lockout wiped out free agency before his first season. Adams ordered the Titans to chase Peyton Manning in March, a wasted move that left Tennessee with little to choose from in free agency. The Titans wound up signing Kamerion Wimbley, whose six sacks did little to boost the pass rush.

That leaves Tennessee eager for free agency and an infusion of veterans to help a roster that was the franchise's youngest on opening day since 2006. The Titans need help at safety, the defensive line and the offensive line. They also will draft at Nos. 10 and 39 to add more youth.

``So we're going to have a chance to add some players,'' Munchak said. ``We have some money to do so.''

Tennessee jumped deep into rebuilding mode in August with the decision to start Locker over veteran Matt Hasselbeck. The Titans suffered through the growing pains as Locker finished completing 56.4 percent of his passes for 2,176 yards, but he also had one more interception (11) than touchdowns (10).

The Titans also need to heal up. They finished the season with 16 players on injured reserve and played the final five games without four of their projected five starting offensive linemen, middle linebacker Colin McCarthy, and their top two tight ends.

Munchak is busy reviewing his assistants, but said he's making no personnel changes right now. With so many firings around the league already, he will have plenty of options to make changes, with defensive coordinator Jerry Gray the biggest question mark.

But Munchak defended Gray, noting the Titans ranked eighth in fewest points allowed in 2011. He said the Titans must fix the defense so it doesn't happen again.

``Do I make a change just to make a change so it looks like I attacked that problem because I added a new coach? Or do we do it because the coach actually gives us a better chance to become better?'' Munchak said.

He fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer on Nov. 26, giving the job in the interim to quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains. Munchak also brought in veteran coach Tom Moore in December. Moore could be an option for coordinator with Loggains moving back to quarterbacks coach if Moore can be convinced to stick around.

Kendall Wright, their top draft pick, tied with Jacksonville's Justin Blackmon for most catches by rookies, and he had a team-high 64 receptions. Receiver Kenny Britt returned after tearing his right ACL in 2011, but he will be seeing a specialist about swelling in his left knee.

Munchak defended the last two drafts. Linebacker Zach Brown, a second-round pick in April, finished with 5 1/2 sacks and three interceptions.

Chris Johnson gained 1,243 yards rushing for the third-best season of his career and a 4.5-yard per carry average despite the revolving offensive line. The Titans could cut him five days into the new league year in March and avoid guaranteeing $9 million of his $10 million salary, but Munchak has said they see him as a playmaker they need.

Johnson said the Titans need a lot of leadership to get back to the playoffs.

``The leaders on this team need to step up and just work hard during the offseason and then bring the younger guys along with us,'' Johnson said after the finale. ``It's a situation where we have to work harder and continue to come out here and try to get better at each position.''

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Rebounding issues arise again in Wizards' season opening loss to the Miami Heat

Rebounding issues arise again in Wizards' season opening loss to the Miami Heat

Realistically, the Miami Heat had no business even being in position to win on Thursday night in the Wizards' 2018-19 regular season opener.

They shot just 39.2 percent from the field, compared to 46.9 percent for the Wizards, and had 19 turnovers. 

The Heat were on the second night of a back-to-back, having lost a tough one to the Magic the night before. They were missing a host of rotation players, including two of their regular starters.

Yet, the Heat pulled out a victory to stun the Opening Night crowd at Capital One Arena simply because they out-hustled the Wizards. They out-rebounded the Wizards 55-40, including a 22-7 margin in offensive boards. Those 22 offensive rebounds were tied for the most allowed by the Wizards since 2012.

"Rebounding the ball is really why we lost the game," Wizards guard John Wall said. "That's really where they killed us."

Miami's advantage on the glass allowed them to put up a whopping 16 more shots. That led to 27 second chance points compared to just 10 for Washington.

It was the central theme of the game, so naturally it played a role in how it was decided. After Wall forced a miss by Dwyane Wade on a fadeaway attempt in the closing seconds, Heat big man Kelly Olynyk was right there to catch the ball and scoop it in for two.

That score proved to be the go-ahead points as just 0.2 seconds remained on the clock. All night, the Wizards made plays on defense, only to have the Heat save themselves with second looks.

The Wizards had no better explanation postgame other than Miami simply tried harder.

"They out-hustled us," forward Jeff Green said.

"Rebounds come down to whoever wants it the most and tonight they wanted it more than we did," forward Otto Porter Jr. said.

It sounds simple, and perhaps it was indeed that easy to explain. But there were other factors at play, some in their control and some not.

For one, the Wizards were missing their best rebounder, Dwight Howard, who sat out with a strained piriformis muscle. Even at 32, Howard remains one of the best rebounders in basketball and would have made a significant difference. 

It would have been nice to have him, a 280-pound giant in the paint to match up with Hassan Whiteside, one of the most physically imposing centers in the league.

With Howard out of the mix, the Wizards turned to Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith, but they each stumbled into early foul trouble. Head coach Scott Brooks had no other option than to go small with guys like Green and Markieff Morris at the five-spot.

Brooks wants to employ that strategy more often anyways, but not by necessity. And sure enough, it was Green and Morris on the floor when Olynyk broke loose for the final deciding play.

"The last rebound, we definitely need to put most of the ownership on me and Jeff because we were the biggest guys," Morris said. "I think that might have been the easiest layup of the game right there."

"I was surprised I was open," Olynyk admitted afterwards. "It kinda just popped open and I was kinda just standing right there."

Though many factors were at play, the Wizards' struggles rebounding the ball came down to the simple fundamentals of boxing out their opponent. As they learned last year, it's tough to be consistent when you can't take care of the little things that separate wins and losses. 

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After his buzzer beater, Kelly Olynyk is becoming one of D.C.'s top sports villains

After his buzzer beater, Kelly Olynyk is becoming one of D.C.'s top sports villains

Kelly Olynyk has done it once again to the Washington Wizards. 

The Miami Heat center ripped the heart of the Wizards just when it looked like it was going to be a new chapter for the team.

After leading a team to victory over the Wizards once again, he is starting to become one of the biggest sports villains in Washington D.C.

Olynyk hit a go-ahead layup with 0.2. second left to sink the Wizards in their 2018 season opener. Dwyane Wade had the first chance to win it for the Heat. He missed, but Olynyk was there for the rebound and uncontested layup.

For those that need a reminder this is not the first time Olynyk has torched the Wizards. 

Back in Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Olynyk, then the Boston Celtics backup center, went off for 26 points, 14 coming in a tense fourth quarter. The loss ended the Wizards chance to get to the Conference Finals that year. If would have been the first time they reach that mark in the John Wall-era of the franchise.

Olynyk was also guilty of getting under the skin of Kelly Oubre Jr. The Wizards forward was sent to the floor following a big screen set by Olynyk. Oubre sprang to his feet and shoved Olynyk, leading to a minor scuffle. Oubre was ejected from the game and suspended for the following game.

With a reputation like that, Olynyk is starting to etch his name down on the wrong side of D.C. sports lore.

Who does Olynyk join among the ranks of most disliked athletes inside the D.M.V.? Here's our list:

Sidney Crosby

To the vast majority of Washington, D.C. sports fans, no one will ever be a bigger villain than Sidney Crosby. His rivalry with Alex Ovechkin is a major part of this, but being on the winning side more often than the Washington Capitals plays just as big a part. Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins eliminated the Capitals in three different Eastern Conference Semifinal series before Washington finally broke through last season.

Also it's Crosby. His incessant whinning and cockiness are overwhelming. 

Jaroslav Halak

At the time he was just an average goalie for the Montreal Canadiens, but by the end of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Jaroslav Halak was public enemy No. 1 in the nation's capital.

Against a Capitals team that won the Presidents Trophy, Halak stood on his head as the No. 8 seed Canadiens faced elimination with the Caps up 3-1 in the series. He had 37 saves in Game 5, an incredible 53 saves in Game 6, and clinched the series with 41 saves in Game 7. He allowed just three goals in those three games, and sent the Capitals packing earlier than expected.

Had it not been for Halak, the first Washington Capitals championship might have happened well before June 2018.

Jerry Jones

He owns the Dallas Cowboys. Need we say more? 

Jonathan Papelbon

For years Jonathan Papelbon was on the Philadelphia Phillies. That alone would be enough to be on the bad side of D.C. sports fans.

Then he came to Washington, as a member of the Nationals, and tried to choke-out Bryce Harper

An insider job? We think so. 

Albert Haynesworth

Albert Haynesworth drew a seven-year, $100 million contract with the Washington Redskins. He ended up playing less than two seasons. 

He was so bad that NFL.com has listed him as one of the worst free agents signings in league history.

There are two things Albert Haynesworth is remembered for in Washington, D.C.
1: Taking a lot of money from the Redskins
2: This video 

Pete Kozma

Only on this list because some believe that Pete Kozma is the sole reason the Washington Nationals did not win a championship in 2012.

Aside from a three-run home run and then the game-winning runs in Game 5 of the NLDS, there has not been another chapter in the Kozma vs. Washington D.C. rivalry.

The real villain in all of this should be the Nats' pitcher, Drew Storen. He had a two-run lead before coming into the ninth in a winner-take-all Game 5. He gave the Cardinals four runs.

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So now that I've gone and despressed your day away, re-living terrible D.C. sports nightmares, just know that Olynyk is squarely on this list and just re-affirmed that with his latest buzzer-beater. 

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