Schwartz shoulders blame for Lions' skid

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Schwartz shoulders blame for Lions' skid

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz admitted Monday that his team's season has ``gone off the rails'' and the progress made during last year's run to the playoffs has become a distant memory.

Schwartz, who has lost at least 10 games in three of his four seasons as Lions' coach, said the blame for the team's unfulfilled 2012 expectations rests entirely with him.

``The ultimate responsibility of the team is (with) the head coach, and I need to do a better job,'' he said. ``4-10 isn't good enough.''

Detroit's 38-10 loss at Arizona on Sunday was its sixth straight and the team's most lopsided defeat since a 48-3 loss at Baltimore in 2009. It also bucked the trend: After defeating Jacksonville on Nov. 4, Detroit lost its next five games by an average of 5.2 points, only to get hammered by the Cardinals.

Tight end Tony Scheffler said the Lions had chances to overcome four turnovers and beat an Arizona team that was riding a nine-game winless skid.

``We never thought we were out of it,'' Scheffler said following the loss Sunday. ``We just didn't make the plays to get back in it. Our defense fought hard the whole game. We didn't give them good field position. They kept us in it.''

Schwartz's assessment of the loss differed sharply. After defending his team's play in recent weeks, Schwartz said the Lions simply made too many errors Sunday to be competitive.

``We've had a lot of games this year that came down to one critical play in the fourth quarter that you look at and say, `Hey, if we made that one we would have won the game,''' he said. ``We can't be naive to think that this was one of those games.''

The Cardinals intercepted quarterback Matthew Stafford three times, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Stafford told teammates Sunday that he believed he was responsible for the loss after a 24-for-50 passing performance that was easily his worst effort of the season.

``That is about as bad as I can play,'' he said. ``For us to be successful, I have to play a whole lot better than that. I understand that.''

Schwartz praised Stafford's decision to take responsibility for the loss, saying ``that's what good quarterbacks do,'' but he also reiterated his opinion that responsibility for the team's performance ultimately rests with the coaching staff. He also said he never considered pulling Stafford.

Calvin Johnson's play was Detroit's lone bright spot Sunday. Johnson made 10 catches for 121 yards despite facing coverage that Schwartz likened to a box-and-one defense in basketball.

``(Arizona) doubled Calvin (Johnson) on just about every play,'' he said.'' They used punt coverage to try to handle him and the fact that he still had 121 yards says a lot about Calvin, says a lot about (offensive coordinator) Scott Linehan's ability to still be able to get him the ball. But we severely lacked other playmakers on the field.''

The Lions host playoff-bound Atlanta on Saturday.

NOTES: Schwartz said that CB Jacob Lacey could be out for the season after injuring his knee in the first quarter of Sunday's game. ...TE Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) and DT Nick Fairley (shoulder) remain on the active roster despite missing Sunday's loss due to injury. Schwartz said no decision has been made as to whether either player would be placed on injured reserve. ... Johnson's 121 receiving yards Sunday give him 1,667 yards for the season, putting him 181 yards from breaking the NFL single-season record Jerry Rice set with San Francisco in 1995.

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20 offseason Caps questions: Should the Caps re-sign Justin Williams?

20 offseason Caps questions: Should the Caps re-sign Justin Williams?

Another playoff disappointment—as well as a host of expiring player contracts—has left the Capitals with a ton of questions to answer this offseason. Over the next month, Jill Sorenson, JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir will take a close look at the 20 biggest issues facing the team as the business of hockey kicks into high gear.     

What do you do if you can’t find playoff success? You sign a player who has won three Stanley Cups, one Conn Smythe Trophy and is 7-0 in Game 7s. Washington signed Mr. Game 7 himself, Justin Williams in the summer of 2015 for his veteran leadership, but he also brought a lot of production to the team as well with 52 and 48 points respectively in his two seasons with the Caps. Unfortunately even he could not lead Washington past the second round as he lost in Game 7 for the first time in his career this season. Now his contract is up and the Caps have a tough decision ahead of them.

Today’s question: Should the Caps re-sign Justin Williams?

Sorenson: Ugh, I hate this question.  Justin Williams has been such an important part of the Capitals’ growth and success the past two years, I hate to admit the fact that Washington may have to let him go.  However, he will be 36 this fall, and while in his next contract, he may not earn his $3.5 million salary he did the past two years, there is probably a team who could afford to pay him somewhere in that neighborhood.  He has put up 52 and 48 points respectively in his last two years here, which are higher than his previous three years in LA, despite playing fewer minutes per game, on average.  If for some reason Williams still believed his best chance to win a fourth Stanley Cup was here with the Washington Capitals, and he is not ready to hang up his skates, maybe he would be willing to take a large pay cut to stay.  That is a decision Williams has earned the right to make.

RELATED: 7 reasons why Caps fans should root for Preds

Regan: If you are a team that cannot get over the hump in the postseason, Justin Williams is exactly the type of player you need. Yes, Washington was still unable to get past the second round for the past two seasons with Williams in tow, but his is still a voice you want in the locker room come the postseason. The problem with bringing him back, however, is money. The Caps just don’t have much of it and probably not enough to sign a player who will turn 36 in October. If I am Brian MacLellan, after I settle all my RFAs my first call is to T.J. Oshie. If he re-signs, then there is zero money left for Williams. If he doesn’t, then MacLellan’s second call should be to Williams to see just how low he would be willing to go. A veteran leader like him will undoubtedly be able to get more on the open market than in Washington, but he turned down a bigger offer from Montreal to sign with the Caps originally. Would he be willing to do it again? If not, you have to let him walk.

El-Bashir: A phrase I heard often during my four years covering the NFL was, “You can’t keep everybody.” And my gut tells me that phrase could end up applying to Williams, who has accumulated an even 100 points (46 goals, 54 assists) in two years as a member of the Caps. To me, this is GM Brian MacLellan's second toughest decision after sorting out T.J. Oshie’s future in Washington. Let’s consider the pros: Williams is still a productive player and he’s savvy enough to make adjustments that compensate for what Father Time has taken from him. Experience matters, too. Look no further than Chris Kunitz, the Penguins’ Game 7 hero. The 37-year-old alternate captain’s numbers have declined, but he earned every bit of his $3.85 million salary on Thursday night by being the Penguins’ best player in their biggest game of the season. Williams has risen to the occasion in the past and his DNA suggests he’ll do it again. The cons: Williams will be 36 in October and the Caps need to get younger and faster. MacLellan also must consider the need to create full-time openings for prospects like Jakub Vrana, a winger who’s itching to take the next step and costs significantly less. In the end, I suspect the cap-strapped Caps will make a play to keep No. 14, who earned $3.25 million each of the past two years. And then Williams, who has said he’d like to stay but may well attract longer, more lucrative offers elsewhere, will have a business decision to make. My take: both sides will ultimately decide it’s best to move on.

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Sounds like Lonzo Ball is more interested in the Sixers than the Celtics at No. 1

Sounds like Lonzo Ball is more interested in the Sixers than the Celtics at No. 1

This week it was revealed that Lonzo Ball, one of the top prospects in the 2017 NBA Draft, has rejected an offer to work out for the Boston Celtics, who own the No. 1 overall pick. That further established the fact he wants to play for his hometown Lakers.

Ball may, however, be at least somewhat interested in another team. According to a report by ESPN, Ball is mulling a workout offer by Philly.

Here is what Chris Haynes wrote:

"A final decision will be made once Ball's agent, Harrison Gaines, and Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo have had an extensive conversation centered on the identity of the team, sources told ESPN."

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It's understandable why Ball, 19, would be interested in playing for the Sixers who finally appear to have some hope for their future with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric on their roster. But who in their right mind would rather play for the Sixers right now than the Celtics?

Boston was just in the conference finals. They represent a chance to win now and clearly their front office knows what they are doing. The same can't be said for the Lakers or Sixers until they actually win something.

Whether it's his dad pulling the strings on this or not, it seems like a curious decision by Ball to turn down the good team and then show interest in the bad ones.

(Via ProBasketballTalk)

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