Gase hires Gregg Williams as Jets’ defensive coordinator
Wednesday, January 16
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Gregg Williams was hired Wednesday as the New York Jets’ defensive coordinator, the first major staff addition by Adam Gase since he became coach.
The team also announced it has retained special teams coordinator Brant Boyer, whose unit had a standout season.
The 60-year-old Williams went 5-3 as Cleveland’s interim coach this season after Hue Jackson was fired. At his introductory news conference Monday, the offensive-minded Gase said he was looking for a “head coach of the defense” while he focuses heavily on the other side of the ball.
“We always appreciated competing against him,” Gase told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “It was always a challenge. Always loved the way his guys played, the intensity they played with. They defended every blade of grass. I mean, they would always get after it.”
Williams is a controversial figure as he was suspended by the NFL for the entire 2012 season for his role in the “Bountygate” scandal in New Orleans. Saints defensive players were paid bonuses for injuring opposing team players.
Williams has since worked with Tennessee, the Rams and Browns — the past two as defensive coordinator. He previously was the head coach of Buffalo for three seasons, and has also served as the defensive coordinator for the Titans, Washington and Jacksonville.
The 47-year-old Boyer will be one of a likely few holdovers from former coach Todd Bowles’ staff. After the Jets struggled at times during his first two seasons with the team, New York’s special teams unit was an overwhelming bright spot. The analytics site Football Outsiders ranked the Jets first in the NFL, while Pro Football Focus placed them fifth.
Kick returner Andre Roberts was selected to The Associated Press All-Pro Team and voted to the Pro Bowl after finishing first in the league with 14.1 yards per punt return and ranking second in kickoff return average at 29.4 yards. He also scored one touchdown each on kickoffs and punts.
Jason Myers, who like Roberts was in his first season with the Jets, broke the NFL record for most field goals of 55 yards or more in a season with five and the franchise record for most field goals in a game with seven.
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Boomer Sooner: Tide QB Jalen Hurts transferring to Oklahoma
By CLIFF BRUNT
AP Sports Writer
Thursday, January 17
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley could not help but admire Jalen Hurts from a distance.
He respected how the Alabama quarterback who lost his starting job to Tua Tagovailoa put the team above his pride. Hurts could have transferred right after Alabama went another direction, as so many quarterbacks do these days. Instead, he stuck it out and delivered a moment for the ages. After Tagovailoa went down with an injured ankle during the SEC title game against Georgia, Hurts rallied the Crimson Tide to victory.
“Could not be more impressed with Jalen Hurts, how he handled that,” Riley said as Oklahoma prepared to face Alabama in the playoff last month. “Big fan of that kid and how that entire situation was managed.”
Riley will get to know Hurts a lot better soon: The quarterback announced Wednesday in a story in the Players’ Tribune that he will transfer to Oklahoma. He will be available immediately as a graduate transfer.
“So to my about-to-be family in Norman, I truly appreciate you for bringing me on board. Y’all don’t know me yet… but just for now, to introduce myself: I’m a motivated coach’s son from the Eastside of Houston, and I love to play ball,” Hurts wrote.
Hurts leaves Alabama with 5,626 yards and 48 touchdowns passing and 1,976 yards and 23 touchdowns rushing. If he starts for the Sooners in their wide-open offense, more huge numbers are possible. If so, he will follow in the footsteps of Kyler Murray, another dual threat maestro who is currently deciding whether to play in the NFL or Major League Baseball. Murray waited his turn behind future No. 1 NFL draft pick Baker Mayfield, then delivered the second-most efficient passing season in FBS history while rushing for 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
Riley’s short history with transfers is spectacular.
Murray transferred from Texas A&M before winning the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma this past season. Mayfield transferred from Texas Tech before winning the Heisman at Oklahoma in 2017. Neither was very efficient in their stops before playing for Riley.
Hurts could be next in line to make a dramatic leap.
“I’m very fortunate to have this opportunity, and I’m excited for the journey ahead,” he said.
Thirteen months ago, Hurts was a two-year starter who led Alabama to a pair of national championship games and was Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year as a freshman. In the 2018 national title game, with Alabama down big at halftime against Georgia, Tagovailoa replaced him and led the Crimson Tide to victory. Tagovailoa then beat out Hurts for the starting job heading into this past season and finished second in the Heisman voting. Hurts finished the season with 765 yards passing and 167 yards rushing.
Hurts should help Oklahoma smooth its transition from Murray at quarterback. Last year’s backup, Austin Kendall, is expected to transfer. Tanner Mordecai, a freshman last season, is the only quarterback currently on scholarship for the Sooners. Five-star recruit Spencer Rattler, the consensus No. 1 quarterback in the Class of 2019, is committed to the Sooners.
Hurts has a special place in Alabama history. When he graduated with a degree in public relations, he got a standing ovation as he walked across the stage.
“And to my Bama family, once again, THANK YOU — for everything. It’s been a great three years. I’ll love you until the end of time!” he said.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP
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NHL, NHLPA abandon hope of a World Cup in September 2020
By STEPHEN WHYNO
AP Hockey Writer
Wednesday, January 16
The NHL and NHL Players’ Association have given up on the possibility of staging the next World Cup of Hockey in September 2020 but will continue collective bargaining talks.
The league and PA announced the conclusion in separate statements Wednesday that there’s not enough time to put together a World Cup in roughly 20 months. The sides met earlier in the day in Toronto to discuss the World Cup as part of collective bargaining talks after holding an informal meeting in Las Vegas on Jan. 10 that lasted more than two hours.
Not holding the World Cup in September 2020 is consequential because it was so closely linked to the potential of labor peace in hockey. But the NHL and NHLPA plan to meet again soon with the goal of avoiding a potential work stoppage. A lockout wiped out the 2004-05 season and lasted more than three months in 2012-13.
The current CBA runs until 2022, but either owners or players could choose this September to opt out and end it Sept. 15, 2020. Players’ escrow payments and Olympic participation are significant issues that must be overcome to avoid either side electing to re-open the CBA.
Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press last week he believed there was a commitment by both sides to continue talking and “see if we can move forward on something that might work for a CBA extension.”
“While the parties have now joined the concluded that it is no longer realistic to try to schedule a World Cup of Hockey for the fall of 2020, they plan to continue their dialogue with the hope of being able to schedule the next World Cup event as part of a broader agreement, which would include a long-term international event calendar,” the NHL said in a statement.
The 2016 World Cup of Hockey generated revenue that was split evenly among owners and players, and the goal is to keep that event going with another edition at a time later than September 2020.
“The players are focused on finding the proper time to schedule the World Cup of Hockey within the context of an overall international hockey calendar,” the NHLPA said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing our discussions with the league.”
Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno
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