From Comcast SportsNetThe Tennessee Titans now have plenty of motivation to play better. Owner Bud Adams has made sure of that.The owner plans to evaluate everyone from the front office to the coaches to the players over the final seven games after the Titans lost 51-20 to Chicago, the most points allowed since a 59-0 loss to New England in 2009."In my 50 years of owning an NFL franchise, I am at a loss to recall a regular-season home game that was such a disappointment for myself and fans of the Titans," Adams told The Tennessean. "We were grossly outcoached and outplayed from start to finish."Coach Mike Munchak talked with Adams on Monday and said he understands the owner's frustration."I would probably have said the same thing if I were him," Munchak said. "This is his team. He expects us to play well, especially at home. That's our job. That's my job to make sure we're out there playing our best and winning games at home hopefully every time we line up."We didn't play well, and I'd be upset too if I were him."The Titans (3-6) didn't just look bad in the loss to the Bears, they looked inept with five turnovers. Even Chris Johnson, who had one fumble touching the ball 150 times coming into the game, lost two himself. They struggled to tackle with safety Michael Griffin dragged about 20 yards by Matt Forte before finally bringing the running back down with a horse collar tackle.They lined up incorrectly on back-to-back plays covering up the tight end, backing them up before getting a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown."The bottom line is it shouldn't happen," Munchak said of the formation penalties.Tennessee once again is last in the NFL giving up an average 34.2 points per game and remain on pace to top the 533 points allowed by the 1981 Baltimore Colts. The Titans already have given up 308 points through nine games after allowing only 317 points all last season.Adams can share some of the blame for the defense's struggles.The owner ordered his Titans to chase four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning in March, and that kept team officials busy for the first week of free agency. Sure, they signed veteran left guard Steve Hutchinson while they tried to woo Manning into picking Tennessee, but defensive ends Mario Williams and John Abraham signed elsewhere.That left the Titans to sign Kamerion Wimbley, who had played linebacker in Oakland before they switched him to defensive end. Wimbley has 3.5 sacks so far on a defense that has just 14 overall.The Titans started the season with their youngest opening day roster since 2006, a team that went 8-8 after losing the first five games that season.The defense is where the youth movement of the last two drafts shows up the most with two of the three starting linebackers in their second season along with rookie Zach Brown. Tackle Jurrell Casey is another defender in his second season, while end Derrick Morgan and cornerback Alterraun Verner are in their third.Munchak said he is not planning any staff changes right now."We have to win football games right now. I'm not spending my time deciding on making coaching changes, and no, I'm not thinking of doing that."The Titans visit Miami (4-4) on Sunday before a break with their bye. They may get Jake Locker back as their starting quarterback depending on what doctors say about his left, non-throwing shoulder. Locker has missed five straight games since dislocating his shoulder Sept. 30 for the second time in four games.Munchak said the key is when Locker is cleared for contact, and the quarterback worked with the scout team last week. The coach said they should know more by Wednesday. In the meantime, Munchak said he isn't the type to flip coolers or start yelling since that tactic never prompted him to play harder or better himself."My job is to focus them, direct them, teach them and try to get the best out of them, and that's what I'm trying to do," Munchak said.
BOSTON -- While it’s debatable whether the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards are rivals, there’s no question there has been a heightened level of animosity towards one another when they play.
When these two met on Jan. 11, the Celtics came away with a 117-108 win.
But the game itself featured plenty of back-and-forth trash talk, finger-pointing, cries of dirty play and NBA fines.
IN FACT . . . Washington plans to bury Boston
“It’ll be a physical game,” said Jae Crowder who was hit with a five-figure fine for his role in a post-game incident involving Washington’s John Wall. “We have to answer the bell; we’ll be ready.”
Crowder knows he and his teammates must balance being the more physical team, with not losing their cool because if tonight’s game is anything like previous ones, there will be trash talk … lots of trash talk.
“They talk a little bit more than other teams,” said Crowder who added that was a factor in the incident him and Wall which cost them $25,000 and $15,000, respectively.
Crowder said a flagrant-foul committed by Washington’s Bradley Beal against Marcus Smart was what really cranked the level of animosity that was already at a high level.
But Beal probably hasn’t fully put behind him an incident last season in which Smart broke his nose and put him in the league’s concussion protocol program on a Smart drive to the basket.
As far as the hard foul that Beal delivered to him earlier this month, Smart said, “you take exception to every hard foul.”
Smart added, “It’s the game of basketball. You play with your emotions and intensity and everything like that. It comes with the game.”
While Crowder understands the Celtics have to play a physical brand of basketball, he’s not looking to do anything that might result in him having to cut another $25,000 check which was the amount of his fine from the Jan. 11 game against the Wizards.
“I’m looking at it as another game we have to win,” Crowder said. “I’m not looking at it as a rivalry or anything like that. I’m not coming in talking; they might.”
For the Wizards, winners in four of their five games since losing to Boston, a major key to their success lies in the play of their backcourt.
John Wall and Bradley Beal are the latest high-scoring backcourt tandem that the Celtics have to be worried about.
And making matters worse for Boston, the Celtics will have to try and make due without Avery Bradley who is still dealing with a right Achilles injury.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said the 6-foot-2 Bradley was not going to be with the team in Washington and would most likely be out all this week.
That means Boston will lean heavily on Smart to not only help the offense run relatively smooth, but also provide some much-needed defense to help limit Wall and Beal who collectively rank among the higher-scoring starting backcourts in the NBA.
“We have to slow them down; by any means we have to slow them down,” Thomas said. “We know they go as far as those two take them. It’s going to be a tough game. They have a lot of momentum at home. It’ll be a tough game for us. But we’re ready for the opportunity.”
Wall and Beal are just the latest in a string of high-scoring backcourts that the Celtics have had to contend with recently.
In Saturday’s 127-123 overtime home loss to Portland, C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined to score 63 points on 20-for-42 shooting from the field.
“This stretch of backcourts is exceptionally difficult,” Stevens said. “They (Wall and Beal) both should be and certainly are in the discussion for the all-star team. It’s a real difficult challenge. Our guys are going to have to be really good on both ends of the floor.”
For all the flack that Matt Ryan got heading into this season, he’s been a damn good quarterback. Is his career on the same level as Tom Brady’s? Of course not, but this regular season saw him stand as Brady’s peer, making him an MVP favorite.
One of Ryan’s biggest challengers for that hardware is the same man who stands in the way of him winning his first Super Bowl. Though he missed the first four games of the season due to suspension, Brady finished second in the league in passing yards per game and threw just two picks in 12 games while tossing 28 touchdowns.
So Super Bowl LI will pin the quarterback with the best numbers overall (Ryan finished two touchdowns behind Aaron Rodgers for the league lead but threw for 516 more yards and had a higher completion percentage) against the quarterback with the best touchdown/interception ratio ever for a single season.
In other words, this is a Super Bowl that puts what one could argue are the season’s two best quarterbacks each other. That’s pretty rare.
Going back the last 25 years, there are four candidates for such meetings: Manning vs. Brees in Super Bowl XLIV, Favre and Elway in Super Bowl XXXII (this one is a stretch), Favre and Bledsoe in Super Bowl XXXI and Kelly and Rypien in Super Bowl XXVI..
Why haven’t the two best quarterbacks squared off in the Super Bowl more often? Because Brady and Peyton Manning played their entire careers in the same conference, silly. It’s taken other players entering their echelon to even set up such a scenario, and that’s why Brees’ Saints beating Manning’s Colts serves as the only example during Manning or Brady’s career.
The strong performances of those who dominated the regular season have often carried over into their Super Bowl meetings, but not always. Drew Bledsoe and Jim Kelly (both throwing two touchdowns and four picks in Super Bowl losses) are examples of the wheels falling off in the final game.
Here’s a breakdown of past occurrences. Note that all four of them saw the winning team score at least 30 points, something the Pats have done just once in Brady's four Super Bowl wins:
Super Bowl XLIV: Brees vs. Manning
Brees led NFL with 34 touchdowns in regular season; Manning finished tied for second with 33
Final score: Saints 31, Colts 17
Brees: 32/39, 288 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Manning: 31/45, 333 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Brees completed a postseason in which he had no turnovers and did so in a nearly exactly average game for him that season, as e averaged 292.5 yards, 2.26 touchdowns and less than one interception per game in the regular season. The two quarterbacks also combined for just one sack.
Super Bowl XXXII: Favre vs. Elway
Favre led NFL with 35 TDs in regular season, Elway finished second in TD/interception ratio
Final score: Broncos 31, Packers 24
Favre: 25/42, 256 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, fumble lost
Elway: 12/22, 123 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Again, this is the forced one because Jeff George (3,917 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, nine interceptions) had the better regular season than Elway (3,635 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, 11 picks). Elway may have been the winning quarterback, but he didn’t have anything to do with the win. Terrell Davis carried the Broncos, playing through a migraine and rushing for 157 yards with three touchdowns en route to Super Bowl MVP honors.
Super Bowl XXXI: Favre vs. Bledsoe
Favre led NFL with 39 TDs, Bledsoe third with 27
Final Score: Packers 35, Patriots 21
Favre: 14/27, 246 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Bledsoe: 25/48, 253 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT
Both quarterbacks took five sacks in this game. For Bledsoe, it was the most he took all season. The game was the third four-pick performance of his NFL career.
Super Bowl XXVI: Kelly vs. Rypien
Kelly led NFL with 33 TDs, Rypien second with 28
Final score: Redskins 37, Bills 24
Rypien: 18/33, 292 yards, 2 TD, INT
Kelly: 28/58, 275 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT, fumble lost
Turns out five turnovers (and being sacked four times) is not a recipe for winning the Super Bowl. Kelly’s 58 passes thrown set a Super Bowl record.