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PostPosted: Thu 11 Oct - 03:36 (2018) Reply with quoteBack to top

Jon Gruden has quickly put his stamp on the Oakland Raiders in his second stint as coach. He's installed his new systems Valtteri Filppula Jersey , overhauled more than half the roster and traded star pass rusher Khalil Mack to Chicago just before the start of the season for draft picks.
Gruden's quest to get the new-look Raiders back to the level they were at during his first stint that ended in 2001 begins at home Monday night against the Los Angeles Rams. Oakland has had just one winning season in the past 15 years.
"We have not had a lot of success," Gruden said. "We've got to turn this team around. We've got to get this team built back to where we can compete for championships. It was that way in 1998 and it's that way 20 years later. We've got to put this train back on the track and we've tried to assemble the right guys to get us started. We'll see where we are on Monday night."
There is quite a bit of intrigue in what Gruden's offense will look like in his first game as coach in 10 years. He spent the past nine seasons after being fired in Tampa Bay as the analyst for "Monday Night Football."
Gruden spent much of the offseason talking about wanting to bring the Raiders back to 1998. He showed almost none of his offense in the preseason, but his former protege and current Rams coach Sean McVay knows to expect the unexpected.
"He's always done such a good job of mixing it up," McVay said. "I'm sure he's got a bunch of new wrinkles that he's added to his arsenal. It's going to be exciting, but it is a great challenge, really kind of that element of uncertainty and that does make it very difficult."
Despite the trade of Mack, Gruden has many of the ingredients he needs for a successful season on offense with Derek Carr at quarterback, a strong interior offensive line, a running game led by Marshawn Lynch and a pair of receivers in Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson who have shown big-play ability in the past.
Now he gets a chance to show some new wrinkles that he learned by visiting and watching all the other teams as an announcer.
"I feel like he's more advanced," said tackle Donald Penn, who played for Gruden in Tampa Bay in 2007-08. "He's gotten even smarter. That's crazy to say because he knows so much already, but I feel like he's learned even more during that time off."
Here are some other things to watch:
TEACHER VS. MENTOR: Gruden hired McVay as a 22-year-old assistant wide receivers coach in 2008 but the ties between the families go back further. McVay's grandfather, John, hired Gruden's father, Jim Customized Detroit Lions Jerseys , at Dayton in 1970, and helped Jon get his first NFL job as an assistant in San Francisco in 1990. The younger McVay has taken so much from Gruden that he has many of the same mannerisms and sounds so much like his mentor that Jon Gruden joked he does a better impersonation of him than comedian Frank Caliendo.
"I hear it all the time," McVay said. "''But I think probably subconsciously you pick up on some of those things just from being around somebody. I got so much respect for him so I take it as a compliment."
DOMINANT DONALD: While the Raiders cut ties with 2016 AP Defensive Player of the Year Mack after his contract holdout, the Rams gave last year's top defensive player Aaron Donald a six-year, $135 million deal, with $87 million guaranteed to end his holdout. Donald, perhaps the game's top interior pass rusher, joins a defense that added three former All-Pros in the offseason in defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib.
GOFF'S GROWTH: Rams QB Jared Goff took a big step last year after the former No. 1 overall pick struggled in his rookie season in 2016. Goff increased his yards per attempt from 5.3 to 8.0 and his passer rating from 63.6 to 100.5. Goff still sees more room to grow, but didn't get to show that in the preseason when he didn't get any snaps because of injuries to the offensive line.
"There's a bunch of stuff we've been working on this offseason that we're ready to display on Monday night," Goff said. "A lot of the stuff is from last season that we're going to continue to do, and then a lot of new stuff that we're doing."
DRIVE THE CARR: Carr is looking to bounce back from a down season as he struggled with a back injury and an unimaginative offense by former coordinator Todd Downing. He matched his career high with 13 interceptions and recorded his worst totals in yards, touchdowns and passer rating since his rookie year in 2014. The Raiders hope for a revival under Gruden.
HIDDEN SCHEMES: These teams played just over three weeks ago in an exhibition, although not much can be gleaned from that game. Both teams sat almost all of their starters and showed almost none of the schemes knowing they'd play a game that counts so soon.
"You would think we'd know about them, they would know about us, but all of our starters on both teams were wearing sweatsuits ," Gruden said.
Carmelo Anthony has been the No. 1 option for whatever team he has played on during most of his basketball career. He knew that wasn’t going to be the case when he arrived in Oklahoma City, though it’s safe to say things haven’t gone as he expected when he signed up to be part the league’s next Big Three.
Playing alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George, Anthony and the Thunder are headed to the playoffs . He is the Thunder’s third-leading scorer, yet at times it feels like he the fourth option behind center Steven Adams.
Anthony isn’t complaining.
”Acceptance of what I have to do here and what is needed of me,” Anthony said. ”I think the other guys on the team, after they started playing with each other more and more, we started figuring out each other’s game. We figured out what each other brings to the game.”
He has said he wants to win, and he is not just talking the talk.
Late in a critical game against the Denver Nuggets a few weeks ago , Anthony chose not to re-enter in the closing minutes of regulation. Instead, he walked away from the scorer’s table and let 24-year-old Jerami Grant stay in the game.
”I didn’t want to break his rhythm,” Anthony said. ”A lot of guys when they have it going like that, especially role player guys, bench guys, that gives them confidence. You believe in those guys.”
Anthony returned to action when the game went to overtime and his actions left little doubt where he is mentally. A likely future Hall of Famer, Anthony is one of the top 20 scorers in NBA history Authentic Christian Kirk Jersey , a three-time Olympic gold medalist and former NBA scoring champion in 2013.
Not long ago, the thought of Anthony being out of a game at crunch time would have been dismissed as senseless. Now, he’s 33 years old, no longer in his prime. He averages 16.2 points per game, by far the lowest of his career, and his minutes also are at a career low.
He’s fine with it all because his goal is his first NBA title.
Anthony’s teammates respect how he has adjusted.
”He’s just an overall good guy,” Westbrook said. ”Does a lot of different things that goes unnoticed. His ultimate sacrifice is number one, and his being a team guy is always important as well.”
Anthony has been an isolation specialist for most of his career, having the ball in his hand and his team clearing out so he can go one-on-one. This season, he has been at his best when taking advantage of the attention Westbrook and George have drawn.
”Those guys are finding me in transition, they’re finding me in when guys collapse on the defensive end and we’re just sharing the ball,” he said. ”I think when we share the ball and we move the ball, everybody feels a part of the game. The rhythm comes, the flow of the game comes because the rhythm is a lot different than what we (the Thunder) had in the past, so we’ve got to find ways Madison Bowey Jersey , find that rhythm.”
Anthony has had struggled at times finding his rhythm – he’s barely shooting 40 percent from the field. Still, he has shown glimpses of being the prolific scorer he once was. In Sunday’s win over the Houston Rockets, he scored 22 points on 7 for 14 shooting. He scored a season-high 29 points in a win over Cleveland on Jan. 20.
And there are times where his track record still matters.
In a loss to Portland on March 25 , Anthony missed what would have been a game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds after Westbrook fouled out. Coach Billy Donovan was fine with Anthony having the ball in his hands.
”Carmelo is a proven scorer in this league and has made shots, big shots for a large portion of his career, and I’ve got confidence in him,” Donovan said.
The coach also believes Anthony is a team player.
Donovan said he was fine with when Anthony chose not to re-enter the game against Denver ”because to me, that’s a sign of unselfishness – wanting someone else to do well.”
Grant is averaging 9.4 points per game since the All-Star break in just under 20 minutes of action per game. Anthony is teaching him to be more assertive.
”Since I’ve been here, he’s been with our group – me, him and Paul – the shooting groups,” Anthony said. ”Just talking to him and encouraging him to take a little bit more.”
Anthony believes mentoring is as important as anything he does at this point in his career.
”I’ve been around for a long time,” Anthony said, ”and I want to give that insight and that knowledge to the young guys.”
And capture his first NBA title along the way.

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PostPosted: Thu 11 Oct - 03:36 (2018) Back to top

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