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Falcons’ Arthur Smith says team needs ‘self reflection’ after second blowout loss: ‘It feels ugly’

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Less than two weeks ago, the Atlanta Falcons were flying high after defeating the rival New Orleans Saints at the Superdome to move to .500 on the season and into the wild-card conversation in the NFC. Fast forward to now and they’ve not only lost two straight, they’ve been flat-out embarrassed — first with a 40-point loss to the Dallas Cowboys and, four days later, with a 25-point loss on their own field to rookie first-round pick Mac Jones and the New England Patriots

What’s worse is they haven’t scored a touchdown in their last two games and have mustered only three points in their last eight quarters, playing impotent football offensively that also failed to take advantage of an improved defensive effort on Thursday night.

“It feels ugly right now and in this moment,” head coach Arthur Smith told media after losing to the Patriots, via the team’s website. “You feel, obviously, pretty poor. When you go and get to 4-4, get a big win and then, obviously you guys have all watched the last two games. We’ve done it before. 

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“It’s continual improvement. You hope not to ride the roller coaster. We’ve got to fix things and we’re going to get them fixed and we’ll get them fixed in a hurry.”

That’s all saying the least, but a mini-bye before facing the Jacksonville Jaguars may not be enough time to address issues that had them start Smith’s inaugural season in Atlanta with a 1-3 record and now to two consecutive blowout losses to again fall two games under .500. The defense gave a better effort on Thursday night but they’re as inconsistent as the team’s offense, and it’s an offense that’s now thrown seven interceptions in the last to games and allowed six sacks on Ryan.

The Falcons weren’t lacking for opportunities against the Patriots, but simply couldn’t capitalize on any of them.

“There wasn’t a lot of things that we did well tonight offensively,” Smith said. “You don’t score points and you don’t take advantage when you do have the opportunity. … We didn’t do enough to put us in a chance to win at the end. 

“… We’ll take this weekend and do a lot of self reflection. We’re gonna get out of this hole. Because we have to and we will. And we’ve got the right guys to do it.”

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Looking at their coming slate of games, including rematches with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a Carolina Panthers team that’s reinstalled Cam Newton at QB, that’s going to be easier said than done.





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Scott Boras Roasts The Red Sox Over Xander Bogaerts

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(Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

 

The Boston Red Sox may find themselves in a perilous position if their star shortstop Xander Bogaerts walks in free agency.

The 30-year-old hit .307 with 15 home runs and 73 RBI during the regular season.

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Retaining the slugger is high on the Red Sox’s list of priorities.

Bogaerts made his debut with the team in 2013 and played a key role in them winning the World Series.

The slugger also played a key role in the Sox winning in 2018.

Scott Boras, Bogaerts’ agent, commented on the situation and gave a grim preview of what life could be like for the Red Sox without their star shortstop, while also roasting them in a not-so subtle way.

 

Boras Roasts Sox With Hilarious Pun

The Red Sox were already pretty “so-so” with Bogaerts on their side in 2022, despite having much of the same team that made a surprise run to the ALCS in 2021.

So if Bogaerts ultimately walks in free agency, Boston could find themselves with a worse than “so-so” status.

But beyond that, Boras gave quite a literal assessment of the team as it pertains to their name, and Bogaerts’ nickname, that being “X-man.”

The Red Sox have already been outbid in free agency a couple of times this offseason, barely missing out on Jose Abreu and Zach Eflin in the same week.

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The offseason in and of itself has been quite “so-so” for the Red Sox, and could get even worse if what Boras alluded to takes place.

As of now, the Red Sox are hyper-focused on trying to retain Bogaerts.

But you have to respect Boras for using such a legendary pun.

The post Scott Boras Roasts The Red Sox Over Xander Bogaerts appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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MLB Insider Reveals A Dynamic Andrew McCutchen Market

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(Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

 

Andrew McCutchen was one of MLB‘s brightest stars when he broke through in 2009.

He single-handedly made the Pittsburgh Pirates relevant for several years.

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When injuries started to pile up on his aging body and time started to erode his skills, McCutchen remained a productive hitter thanks to his elite plate discipline and occasional power, even though he was far from his best version.

He had productive stints with the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies before landing on the Milwaukee Brewers last year.

With the Brewers, he was about league-average with a .237/.316/.384 line, 17 home runs, and a 98 wRC+.

In other words, he can still help an MLB team with his combination of power, plate discipline, and experience.

That’s why two contenders are reportedly hunting for his services.

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“The Dodgers and Rays have interest in former MVP Andrew McCutchen, who is 52 hits away from 2,000 for his career, and 13 homers away from 300,” MLB insider Buster Olney reported on Tuesday.

 

McCutchen Can Still Contribute

It would be cool to see McCutchen land with a team that gives him a chance at semi-regular at-bats.

Landing on the Rays or Dodgers would be ideal because the organizations know how to get the best out of their players, even seasoned veterans like McCutchen.

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There is still some thump in McCutchen’s bat, and LA and Tampa know this.

Additionally, he is a serviceable defensive outfielder as long as he is deployed in one of the corners.

He used to be a terrific center fielder, but he is 36 already and evidently has lost a step.

His experience and know-how make him a viable alternative as a starting corner outfielder.

Who will sign the talented veteran?

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The post MLB Insider Reveals A Dynamic Andrew McCutchen Market appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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Paul Maurice reflects on decision to leave Jets ahead of emotional return to Winnipeg

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WINNIPEG – There was a certain calmness to Paul Maurice as he surveyed the room and dug in for the first formal question and answer period inside Canada Life Centre since he made that fateful decision just over a year ago, when he stepped down as head coach of the Winnipeg Jets.

Being in front of a microphone was always a place Maurice felt comfortable during his tenure which spanned roughly eight years since he took over on an interim basis from Claude Noel in January of 2014.

This session wasn’t about soundbites, though there were several that stood out.

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It was more about sentimentality for time spent in a place that left an impression on both Maurice and his entire family.

It was also about admitting one regret.

If Maurice had a mulligan, it turns out he would have used it to step down during the offseason, rather than hand in his resignation in mid-December when things were coming apart at the seams.

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“I’d have got off the bench in the summer prior. To be honest, if I was going to go do something different, it would be that,” said Maurice, who went on to expand on why he felt that way after a quick exhale. “Because you can see it. I mean, I was in a very unique position to see it. I could see it in the summer. You run eight, nine years, and we’d gone from winning a playoff game to banging out 114 points on the year and you’ve kind of hit that crest, and then it was time.”

To say this was a surprising revelation would be incorrect, though it’s an important one – even with the benefit of hindsight on his side.

Maurice himself conceded previously that the thought had crossed his mind, but that he was rejuvenated by the trades Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff made to acquire Brenden Dillon and Nate Schmidt to upgrade a defence corps that had been in flux over the previous two seasons.

But the Jets weren’t responding to Maurice the way they used to, even after a 9-3-3 start.

That’s why he decided to step away from a job he had invested so much time and energy into.

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That didn’t mean he stopped paying attention to what was happening with the Jets.

He actually kept close tabs on the Jets’ coaching search and gave a glowing endorsement of his eventual full-time successor.

“I think there were probably two or three names. And I followed it. And Rick would be one of them,” said Maurice. “Someone that does a really good job at getting down to the, pardon the pun, the bones of it. To get to the structure of it, the skeleton of fixing some basic things and getting a real simple kind of mindset in all three zones. Real consistent game.

“I think he did that in Dallas as well. Bit of a defensive bent on it. Got a real, real good goaltender here, so structured right. When Dallas was kind of rolling with their goaltending, too, it’s kind of very similar.”

Even after taking some time to unplug, Maurice wasn’t sure he would get behind an NHL bench again – at least not until he received a phone call around June 10 from an area code he didn’t recognize.

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“I think I had four incredible days at the lake. And was driving home with my wife on a Monday and my phone rang in my car. I didn’t know the number,” said Maurice. “Usually I don’t answer numbers that I don’t know. Telemarketing. I had no relationship with (Panthers GM) Bill (Zito). It was ‘What are you interested in?’ So a bunch of unusual little things happened.

“I talked to other teams, it just wasn’t a fit there, I was comfortable with where I was at. But I had a really in-depth meeting (with Zito) and conversation over four or five days, maybe even longer than that. And I was excited about the idea of what they’re trying to do. All of their pieces are not that far off. They had a good year, they’ve struggled a little bit maybe kind of getting to that next level, but I think the best hockey for this franchise is ahead of them.”

Veteran Jets right-winger Blake Wheeler has long been a staunch supporter of Maurice and he reiterated some of those beliefs on Tuesday morning.

“This franchise had never been to the playoffs before Paul was here. We had a couple of playoff series victories, and those are big stepping stones for a franchise that hadn’t won anything,” said Wheeler. “He helped instill a culture where we expected to win. We definitely came close one time and had opportunities. That’s all you can ask for.”

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Maurice has surely heard former players like Mark Scheifele and others talk about the impact Rick Bowness is having on a team that’s battling for first place in the Central Division.

He doesn’t take those comments personally and he understands that it comes with the territory.

“I think that’s fairly ubiquitous in each market when there’s a coaching change. And that’s what happened. So it’s good for them,” said Maurice. “They needed a change, they needed a new voice, they got it, they’re playing well. I’m happy for them.”

Maurice certainly had some missteps during his time at the helm, but as mentioned before, he left the organization in a better place when he left than when he arrived.

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That’s why the reception is expected to be a warm one whenever the camera catches him behind the Panthers bench along with former Jets associate coach Jamie Kompon.

As for his current lot in life, Maurice is excited by the way the Panthers are playing.

Despite starting the day below the playoff line, the underlying numbers suggest the team is better than the record suggests – which is the opposite of what transpired during parts of his time with the Jets, when Connor Hellebuyck was able to cover up some of the structural flaws.

Nor is Maurice concerned about the pressure that’s attached to taking over a team that won the Presidents’ Trophy last season, but decided to replace interim head coach Andrew Brunette after the team was ousted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round last season.

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The Panthers made a blockbuster deal in the offseason, bringing in Matthew Tkachuk from the Calgary Flames while moving out top-line winger Jonathan Huberdeau and defenceman MacKenzie Weegar, so the identity of the team has been a work in progress – especially after injuries knocked top players like Aleksander Barkov and Aaron Ekblad for extended periods of time.

“So the group that hired me understood exactly this — that this is where we were going to be, this is what we had to fix. So there isn’t any (pressure) from that,” said Maurice. “As a matter of fact, they’re real happy about the way we’re playing. The things that we’ve kind of fixed in our game. Our style. The direction it’s going. The room is great. They work their asses off, they have fun, and they love each other. So in our contingent, none — none in terms of an expectation of keep driving, keep getting better. It’s been a really positive place to work.

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A day earlier, Bruce Cassidy returned to face the Boston Bruins at TD Garden for the first time since taking over as the head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights in what was a scene that saw him get a bit choked up as his contributions were recognized.

Maurice wasn’t about to dismiss the emotional component of what would unfold for him later in the day.

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“Oh for sure. It’s a big part of your life. You invest so much into it and you don’t separate the personal and the professional because they always come together, right?” said Maurice. “My kids came here at a young age and they became who they are in Winnipeg. So there’s a connection there. I get to meet a few people while I’m here.

“We’re not long enough to see all the people you care for or you’d like to but for sure, right? And I haven’t seen the players, haven’t run into any of them really over time. I talked to them occasionally, briefly, early on in the summertime, but it’ll be different for sure.”





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