Posts Tagged ‘Season Expectations’

Following the death of her husband, Tom Benson, in March, Gayle Benson said she’ll remain owner of the New Orleans Saints in a letter sent to the 31 other teams and obtained by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

“As is standard NFL practice, my husband provided a report to the Commissioner summarizing the Ownership Succession Plan of the New Orleans Saints. For clarity, my husband’s plan and desire was for me to have full voting control of the Saints and to serve as controlling owner of the team per NFL rules. I understood this and want to reassure you that I am fully prepared to assume this role. Moving forward, I too, will provide the commissioner my very own Ownership Succession Plan of the New Orleans Saints.

“Please rest assured, I will own and operate this franchise until my death and do so with the same drive and focus towards success that my husband displayed throughout his life.”

Until his death, Tom Benson owned the Saints since purchasing the franchise in 1985. He and Gayle were married in 2004.

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Accompanied by the enthusiasm he hopes will help turn around the franchise’s fortunes, wide receiver Jarvis Landry officially signed his contract extension Friday with the Cleveland Browns.

“I’m excited for the journey with my new teammates and building, one day at a time, starting with the offseason program on Monday,” Landry told Andrew Gribble of the team’s official website after inking the deal. “Let’s be great, Cleveland.”

The Browns didn’t reveal the terms of the contract, but it’s reportedly a five-year agreement worth $75.5 million.

Landry comes to Cleveland after four seasons with the Miami Dolphins, where he made three Pro Bowls and cemented himself as one of the top possession receivers in the league. He led the NFL in catches a year ago, and was traded to the Browns in March, shortly after receiving the franchise tag from Miami.

“Jarvis Landry is the type of football player we want on this team for a long time,” Browns general manager John Dorsey said. “Obviously, he’s an accomplished playmaker, that’s why we went after him in the trade but in his short time as a Brown we can already see the type of leadership and competitiveness he’s going to bring to his teammates.”

The Browns hope the addition of Landry will help ignite a team that went 0-16 last year, and has just one win over the past two seasons. The receiver is just one of several notable offseason acquisitions Cleveland has made.

“When you have a group of guys as talented as Josh GordonCorey ColemanTyrod (Taylor)Carlos Hyde and the numerous other guys, we are bound to make a splash here,” Landry added.

 

At the end of a disastrous 2017-18 season for the Edmonton Oilers, general manager Peter Chiarelli faced plenty of questions Wednesday about how he plans to erase those bad memories.

Many expected Edmonton to contend for the Stanley Cup this season, yet a lack of talent surrounding Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, along with a dreadful campaign from goaltender Cam Talbot, sunk the Oilers to 23rd in the league standings.

Chiarelli faces tremendous pressure to turn things around quickly, and the veteran executive is counting on his club to be back in the postseason in 2018-19.

“I expect this team to be in the playoffs next year and that’s what we’re going to strive for,” Chiarelli said at a press conference.

One method for Chiarelli to potentially bring in new blood would be dangling his higher-than-expected first-round draft pick, which should be inside the top 10 selections.

Elsewhere this offseason, Chiarelli has to sort out new contracts for a few restricted free agents, most notably blue-liner Darnell Nurse and last summer’s trade acquisition, Ryan Strome.

Expect a busy summer if you’re a Carolina Hurricanes fan.

New owner Tom Dundon wasn’t shy when discussing what he wants to see out of the Canes at his end-of-season press conference, saying the team needs a major shake-up, and adding that “either the players have to be tougher or you bring in tougher players.”

“I don’t want anyone to feel comfortable,” he said, according to Michael Smith of the team’s website. “Everyone has to do it different.”

While he didn’t give specific names, Dundon clearly thought many of his team’s players underachieved.

“Right now we have a lot of good assets,” he said. “We didn’t get enough out of any of those assets.”

The Hurricanes were many experts’ hot pick to leap into the postseason this year, but they didn’t come close, finishing 14 points out of a playoff spot.

In many instances, the head coach takes the fall when a team fails to meet expectations, but Dundon says no decisions have been made on Bill Peters’ future, per Michael Smith.

The search for the heir apparent to Ron Francis is ongoing, but Don Waddell will handle interim GM duties in the meantime, Dundon said, according to Smith.

The Houston Texans aren’t worried about sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson after a torn right ACL ended his rookie season prematurely.

It was Watson’s second major ACL injury; he tore the ligament in his left knee during his freshman year at Clemson.

Head coach Bill O’Brien believes Watson has what it takes to protect himself with the heightened risk of reinjury.

“He has a really good instinct for maybe gaining the 5 or 6 yards and then going down before he takes the shot,” O’Brien said, according to Sarah Barshop of ESPN. “That’s a big thing that young quarterbacks usually have a problem with. He seems to have an instinct for being able to stay out of harm’s way.”

Watson rushed for 269 yards and two touchdowns on 36 attempts over seven games before the injury in a non-contact practice ended his season. The Texans had gone 3-3 over his six starts but finished the season 1-8 after the injury with the tandem of Tom Savage and T.J. Yates under center.

O’Brien cited Watson’s awareness and compared his physical ability to extend plays to Ben RoethlisbergerAndrew Luck, and Carson Wentz.

“They’re going to try to keep the play alive and they don’t think it’s ever over. They’re the ultimate competitors,” O’Brien said.

“So, you just have to talk to them, in my opinion, the guys that I’ve dealt with like that, ‘Hey look, here’s the deal.’ Again, going back to I have a clock in my head, and when this clock reaches a certain point with the protection we’ve called, you better either think about taking off, sliding, throwing it away. You don’t need to take an unnecessary shot, but I don’t think it’s easy to coach that with every single guy.”

On the strength of a 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday evening, the Washington Capitals clinched top spot in the Metropolitan Division for the third consecutive season.

The victory also pushed the Caps over the 100-point barrier, marking the seventh time they’ve reached the mark since 2008-09.

After back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy campaigns – and consecutive second-round playoff exits at the hands of the Penguins – many expected the Caps to take a step back this season after losing several key contributors via free agency.

In spite of the tweaked roster, the Capitals have maintained their reputation as contenders, and will play the top-seeded wild-card team (currently the Philadelphia Flyers) and hold home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider doesn’t want the team’s parting of ways with All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman and Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett, among others, to be mistaken for a rebuild.

“It’s a constant reset every single year, it doesn’t stop,” Schneider said Friday, according to Stacy Frost of 710 ESPN Seattle. “When I say ‘reset’, people are like, ‘well, it’s a rebuild.’ We’re not rebuilding; it’s just a reset.”

Schneider said the offseason departures are not unlike previous roster turnovers that allowed Sherman and others to emerge as the household names that made up the ‘Legion of Boom’ defense that competed in back-to-back Super Bowls, winning SB XLVIII.

“I’m telling you, man, there’s a lot of good young football players that people don’t know about. Tedric Thompson was one of our best special teams players this last year. He didn’t get to play much at strong safety. Kam (Chancellor) was one of our best special teams players the first year he played. He didn’t get to play strong safety because Lawyer (Milloy) was here. Trust the process, man,” Schneider said.

Chancellor and defensive end Cliff Avril remain uncertain for the upcoming season due to career-threatening injury concerns.