Capitals

Vikes vets clicking with new defensive coordinator

201210071619587513279-p2.jpeg

Vikes vets clicking with new defensive coordinator

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) The day after Minnesota's only loss of the season, defensive coordinator Alan Williams met with the elders of his unit.

This wasn't some scream-a-thon, though. The veterans weren't stubbornly complaining about the new guy's strategy, either. The talk, by all accounts, was more of a corporate-style strategy session: a respectful give-and-take about how to avoid the same mistakes and become a stronger group.

Considering how the Vikings have played on defense since then, it was one productive conversation.

``When you have that kind of confidence in a coach, knowing that he has that type of confidence in his players, it really makes you want to play better for him,'' defensive end Brian Robison said.

At the beginning of training camp, Williams spoke of tailoring the ``Tampa Two'' zone scheme he learned under Tony Dungy with the Indianapolis Colts around the strengths of the current Vikings, not trying to force the players into certain preferences of his. This week, he deflected praise toward the other assistant coaches on defense for their ability to maximize the existing talent.

``I rely on them to tell me what guys do well and what positions we need to put them in to be successful,'' Williams said.

The Vikings (4-1) lost at Indianapolis on Sept.16 because of a number of critical breakdowns.

They let rookie Andrew Luck move the Colts 45 yards in three plays and 18 seconds to kick the winning field goal, ruining a 14-point rally by the offense over the last half of the fourth quarter that tied the game. Earlier, they extended an Indianapolis scoring drive twice with personal fouls. They also allowed Luck to direct two first-half touchdown drives, the first on mostly short throws and the second capped by a deep pass down the middle of the field that made the secondary look silly.

This came after a shaky-at-times performance against Jacksonville in the opener when they gave up a 39-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds left in regulation to momentarily lose the lead and let Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert throw for a career-high 260 yards.

So after the humbling loss to the Colts, Robison, defensive end Jared Allen, defensive tackle Kevin Williams and cornerback Antoine Winfield were among those who approached Williams with their concerns. This wasn't the prelude to a mutiny, however. They simply brought constructive feedback about the rush and coverage calls they felt worked best or worst with their skill sets and styles.

``He's done a really good job of ... putting those coverages he wants to run in the mix but at the same time also allowing us to relay to him ... we don't want to run this coverage because we don't feel comfortable doing it,'' Robison said. ``Then he makes the change with the call. Egos aren't getting in the way, and we're really working well together right now.''

Williams was focused most on making sure the calls were carried out properly, particularly by the young players in the secondary. That didn't always happen against the Jaguars or the Colts.

``Ultimately what we have to do is what's best for the team overall,'' Williams said. ``We don't want to put square pegs in round holes, but when it's all said it done it's what's going to be best for the defense and what's best for the Minnesota Vikings football team and not necessarily the individual.''

Coach Leslie Frazier, who was on Dungy's staff in Indianapolis with Williams in 2005 and 2006 before he was hired as defensive coordinator by the Vikings, said he considered strong communication skills important when he chose Williams to run the defense over the winter.

``It can be tough if you're coming into a locker room with a lot of old vets, guys that have been in the league and really know everything or think they know everything,'' safety Jamarca Sanford said, adding: ``We just bought into what he was telling us. So far it's been paying off.''

---

Follow Dave Campbell on Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman loses bet, rocks Ovechkin jersey

carolyn-goodman.jpg
USA Today Sports

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman loses bet, rocks Ovechkin jersey

Nearly two weeks have passed since the Washington Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights to raise their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

With one team being a first-year expansion project that turned out beautifully and the other a franchise that had not appeared in a Stanley Cup Final since 1998, there was obviously a lot on the line.

Those away from the ice had 'a lot' on the line, too.

Prior to the start of the series, each city's mayor agreed on a bet that would force the losing team's member to wear an opposing jersey at the conclusion of the Cup.

Well, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman followed through on her end of the bargain.

Here is proof of her wearing the jersey of a man who led what was arguably the greatest post-championship celebration in sports history.

 

The Capitals announced Wednesday that the team's home opener and Stanley Cup banner unveiling will be played on October 3 against the Boston Bruins.

Quick Links

American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

american_league_usat.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

The 2018 Major League All-Star Game is less than a month away. Fan votes are well underway and early frontrunners are close to locking their position in the Midsummer Classic.

Yesterday, we projected how the National League roster will play out. Today it is time to look at the American League roster projection.

For five straight seasons, the AL has had the upper hand in the MLB All-Star Game. In 2018, it does not appear that will change as the American League roster will be loaded from top to bottom.

As a reminder, here is how the process shakes out, first with the fan vote, players’ ballots, and the MLB Commissioner’s Office:

  • Fan vote: nine position players in AL (DH)/ eight in NL; plus final vote for each league
  • Player’s ballots: next 17 players in AL/ 16 players in NL; (five starting pitchers, three relievers must be chosen)
  • MLB Commissioner’s Office: five AL players (four pitchers, one position player) and seven NL players (four pitchers, three position players)

One player from each team must make the initial roster (before injury withdraws, etc.). Below is how it looks the American League roster will play out, considering the latest fan vote returns:

American League All-Star Roster Projection:

C – Wilson Ramos, Rays (Fan Vote), Gary Sánchez, Yankees (Player Ballot)
1B – José Abreu, White Sox (Fan Vote), Joey Gallo, Rangers (Player Ballot)
2B – Jose Altuve, Astros (Fan Vote), Jed Lowrie, Athletics (Player Ballot)
3B – José Ramírez, Indians (Fan Vote), Yangervis Solarte, Blue Jays (Player Ballot), Mike Moustakas, Royals (Commissioner’s Office)
SS – Manny Machado, Orioles (Fan Vote), Jean Segura, Mariners (Player Ballot),
OF – Mookie Betts, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Mike Trout, Angels (Fan Vote), Aaron Judge, Yankees (Fan Vote), Michael Brantley, Indians (Player Ballot), Eddie Rosario, Twins (Player Ballot), Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees (Player Ballot),
DH – J.D. Martinez, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Shohei Ohtani, Angels (Player Ballot)

SP – Justin Verlander, Astros (Player Ballot), Luis Severino, Yankees (Player Ballot), Corey Kluber, Indians (Player Ballot), Chris Sale, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Gerrit Cole, Astros (Player Ballot), Blake Snell, Tampa Bay (Commissioner’s Office)

RP – Edwin Díaz, Mariners (Player Ballot), Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Aroldis Chapman, Yankees (Player Ballot), Joe Jiménez, Tigers (Commissioner’s Office), Delin Betances, Yankees (Commissioner’s Office), Chris Devenski, Astros (Commissioner’s Office)

Manager: Jeff Luhnow, Astros

Based on this projection, the New York Yankees will have the most representatives with six. The Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox will both have four.

Ensuring no snubs, there will be five players selected for the final fan vote to get one more All-Star into the game for a total of 32 for the American League. As you can see, no matter how the AL roster plays out, it will be a dominant team once again as they look for six straight All-Star wins.

Four of those five wins were inside a National League stadium and that will not change as the Washington Nationals will host this season.

MORE ALL-STAR NEWS: