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FRISCO, Texas — Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will not be returning to the Dallas Cowboys for the 2021 season, the team announced Friday.

Last season, the Cowboys (6-10) allowed the most points in franchise history (473) and finished 31st in the league in run defense. In the season-ending loss to the New York Giants, they allowed 23 points, including 20 in the first half, to an offense that had not scored more than 19 in five weeks.

The unit played better down the stretch with 12 takeaways in the final four games after getting just 11 in the first 12 games, but that was aided in part by facing backup quarterbacks in Cincinnati, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

“I am appreciative of my relationships with both Mike and Jim, and I am grateful for the contributions that both of them made to our team under difficult circumstances in 2020,” coach Mike McCarthy said in a statement. “These are never easy decisions to make, and we wish them, and their families, the very best in the future.”

Speaking on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas at different times during the season, owner and general manager Jerry Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones lamented the jarring scheme switch — from a 4-3 look to a hybrid look — made by the Cowboys during an offseason in which the coaches could only meet virtually with the players.

Unable to get hands-on experience until the start of an abbreviated training camp, the Cowboys defense struggled badly. They finished 23rd in yards per game (31st vs. the run, 11th vs. the pass) and 28th in points (29.6). The Cowboys allowed 69 plays of 20 yards or more, including 51 passes and 18 runs.

In the three other times the Cowboys allowed a franchise-record in points, the organization either made a scheme change or a coaching change.

After allowing 436 points in 2010, Jason Garrett was named the full-time head coach after taking over for Wade Phillips at midseason, and he hired Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator. In 2013, they allowed 432 points in Monte Kiffin’s first year as coordinator and he was replaced by Rod Marinelli. After giving up 405 points in 2004, Bill Parcells switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme but kept Mike Zimmer as his coordinator.

Head coach Mike McCarthy and Nolan have a long background together. In 2005, Nolan hired McCarthy as his offensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers, which helped propel him to earning the Green Bay Packers head job a year later.

But the defense could not find its footing. While they suffered some injuries to Leighton Vander Esch (collarbone, ankle), Trysten Hill (knee) and Trevon Diggs (foot), they were not hit as hard as the Cowboys’ offense.

Their bigger free-agent pickups were either hurt in training camp (defensive lineman Gerald McCoy), did not make the team out of camp (safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix), were traded (Everson Griffen) or were released because of poor play in the middle of the season (defensive tackle Dontari Poe, cornerback Daryl Worley).

If the Cowboys look in-house for a replacement, George Edwards spent the year as a senior defensive assistant. He was Zimmer’s defensive coordinator from 2014-19.

But the first question that must be answered is what type of scheme the Cowboys want to use. In Green Bay, McCarthy employed a 3-4 scheme for most of his tenure. If he wants to continue with the hybrid look Nolan attempted to use, adding players to fit the scheme will be an offseason priority. In all but three years of his time in Green Bay, the Packers used a 3-4 scheme.

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Coin flips, sudden death and cookies: Why Ravens want to change OT – Baltimore Ravens Blog

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — To create the fairest way to decide tie games, the Baltimore Ravens want you to think of overtime as a cookie.

For years, children have split cookies with a method called “Divide and Choose.” One kid breaks the cookie into two pieces, and the other gets first choice on what piece to take.

This principle is not only the driving force behind the Ravens’ new overtime format but it’s also referenced in the proposal that they have submitted to the NFL competition committee and ownership for review at the upcoming league meetings.

Under the Ravens’ “Spot and Choose” proposal, at the result of the coin toss, one team spots the ball on the field for the start of an overtime period (which begins from there without a kickoff). Then, the other team chooses whether to start on offense or defense from that spot. The overtime proceeds as either sudden death or a timed period (7 minutes, 30 seconds) to determine the winner.

The Ravens believe this proposal adds more strategy to the game, simplifies the rules and likely decreases total snaps.

“In my view, it’s a clear improvement to the game and think it should be adopted immediately,” said Seth Walder, ESPN analytics writer. “It helps from a fairness standpoint and from an entertainment standpoint — that’s as good as it gets. I’d be legitimately excited to see where teams think the right break-even yard line is, and how they would adjust if, say, Patrick Mahomes were standing on the opposite sideline.”

Why are the Ravens proposing this? Recent history shows coin flips are determining too many games.

According to Baltimore’s research, receiving teams are 28-20-4 (a win rate of 58%) since 2017, when overtime was shortened to 10 minutes. In the playoffs, receiving teams are 9-1 since 2010 when “modified sudden death” was first introduced, including four teams since 2015 winning on a first-possession touchdown.

The Ravens see their format — which is based on teams deciding the initial spot of the ball — removing chance from overtime.

“It transfers power from luck to strategy,” Walder said. “There’s no reason that a coin toss should give an advantage the way it currently does. This asks teams to reconcile with a central question to game management: How valuable is possession relative to field position? No matter the outcome — where the ball is placed, which team starts with it — the result is because of choices they made. It is inherently fair in that way. It’s also interesting. Breaking down those decisions in real time and afterwards will be fascinating. And there’s also a potential risk-reward element I love: If I’m the spot team and I have a sense the opposing coach really wants the ball, how far can I push the spot back without it being flipped back on us?”

One tweak that Walder would make is eliminating field goals in the overtime period for the sudden-death proposal. So, teams can win only by scoring a touchdown or recording a safety.

“Touchdowns are worth twice as much as field goals in the rest of football, so it seems off to make them suddenly equals,” Walder said. “The downside here is that this could encourage ties. The Ravens also probably prefer keeping the value of field goals up, given their advantage at kicker, though that is a temporary edge.”

Also, to speed up game administration, Walder said a coin toss can be eliminated. The rule can set the home team as the “spot” team and the road team as the “choose” team, or vice versa.

“I will say: It’s not lost on me that the Ravens — who have strong game management and are one of the most analytically inclined teams in the league — are the ones proposing this,” Walder said.

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How glassblowing helps Minnesota Vikings’ Stephen Weatherly decompress – Carolina Panthers Blog

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — “Ooooh! Oooh!’’ Stephen Weatherly yelled as he noticed a small spot smoldering on his right thigh.

The five-year veteran defensive end, who recently signed a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings after he was released by the Carolina Panthers, momentarily lost his concentration during a glassblowing session, allowing the hot end of the six-foot pipe he was breathing into while rolling it make contact with his pants.

His instructor, Nicolas Emeric, had been waiting for such a mishap, understanding there was less clearance between the pipe and legs because Weatherly (6-foot-5, 265 pounds) is bigger than his typical clientele.

Weatherly quickly refocused as he would on the field.

“I got burned because I wasn’t locked in,” he said. “When you come into the hot shop, the fact that you have to be locked in forces you to push everything to the back burner.

“… Like where am I going to end up next? That is very much on the front of my mind. When I come in here I have to think about blowing glass.”

Weatherly, who will turn 27 this month, became enamored with glassblowing a few years ago during his first stint with the Vikings. He saw it on Instagram and his roommate at the time had a co-worker who owned a studio, so he went and became hooked. That ultimately led to his interest in the Netflix show “Blown Away,” which led to an appearance as a guest judge on its glassblowing competition that aired in late January.

Glassblowing always has been therapeutic for Weatherly, because when dealing with molten glass at temperatures of more than 2,000 degrees, you don’t have time to think about everyday issues. It became more therapeutic when he was cut less than a year after signing a two-year, $12.5 million deal.

“So I was able to just think for an hour and 15 minutes straight, not about anything stressful, but just about creating that beautiful piece of art,” Weatherly said.

Not done with football

Glassblowing began as one of Weatherly’s many hobbies when looking for things to occupy his life after football. It’s still just a hobby.

“I have a lot of good years still left in the football world,” Weatherly said.

He hoped they would be spent in Carolina, rebuilding under coach Matt Rhule. Unfortunately, he had no sacks and only three quarterback pressures in nine starts, then was placed on injured reserve in November because of a finger injury that required surgery.

His release simply was a matter of fit and needing to clear $5.9 million in salary-cap space.

“They are building for the future,” Weatherly said. “I didn’t do enough to show that I can be part of their scheme for the future. I mean, it’s a business. Just sucks.”

Weatherly wasn’t out of work long, reuniting with the Vikings on Thursday.

Another ‘weirdo’

Emeric recognized Weatherly when he walked into Hot Glass Alley, in an eclectic Charlotte neighborhood, as a judge on “Blown Away,’’ not an NFL player.

“He definitely fits in with the rest of the weirdos in the glass world,” he joked.

Coachability in football, however, made Weatherly a good student in glassblowing.

“He soaks up every little bit of information I give him,” Emeric said. “And he’s responsive. Which is great, because most people don’t want to learn and dive in so far.”

Teaching Weatherly was nerve-wracking initially.

“He said nobody has ever let him do this before, because they know how much his hands are worth,” Emeric said.

Weatherly’s hands constantly were close to the heat that burned his pants. As violent as those hands are in football, they easily adjusted to the gentle touch needed to roll the pipe while blowing life into the glass.

Weatherly showed the same control he uses on the piano and eight other instruments he has learned to play. A sociology major at Vanderbilt, he loves the delicate side of the art world almost as much as he does the brutality of football.

“The piece, it gets heavy,” Weatherly said of the 10-pound pipe and his vase that weighed 5.9 pounds but felt like 50. “So I get to use my physicality in a sense, but also my fine-tuning, like turning it with just my fingertips.”

Art becomes football

Weatherly pumped his fist into the air as if he’d just made a sack. But the exhilaration came from seeing a taffy-like glop of glass become an artistic creation.

“He has such a creative mind already,” Emeric said. “Most people come in and barely have an idea of what’s their favorite color.’’

The decision on Weatherly’s latest project, a vase for his girlfriend, was born 24 hours earlier after he gave her flowers. He chose his favorite colors, orange and green, to remind her of him.

As rewarding as it was to put the glass into the furnace and see it blossom, it was exhausting.

“I promise you I am in shape,” Weatherly said as he gathered himself after an extended period of glassblowing.

Emeric said he understood. He also understood why blowing glass has become therapeutic to Weatherly.

“Because it’s hot and it’s very intrinsic material, you can’t let your day-to-day stresses overwhelm you, because it will show in your piece,” he said. “You can see where there are imperfections because your mind goes astray.”

Weatherly has had mishaps. His first piece with Emeric quickly went from a pyramid to the tip of a spear.

He had better luck with other projects such as paperweights, cups, a jellyfish and a sword that adorn his home.

“I love everything I’ve done,” Weatherly said.

He loved the vase in particular because he was able to push his football thoughts aside at a fragile time. At the same time, it was a lot like football.

“All the hard work, the stuff you don’t understand and see, is definitely the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday practices,” Weatherly said. “But the beautiful part at the end, that’s all Sunday under the bright lights.”

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Houston Texans sign ex-Seahawks C Justin Britt to one-year deal, source says

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HOUSTON — The Houston Texans have signed former Seattle Seahawks center Justin Britt to a one-year deal worth up to $5 million, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Britt, who did not play during the 2020 season after Seattle released him in April, indicated he signed with the Texans in an Instagram post.

“I’M BACK!” Britt wrote in his post.

Britt, 29, was a second-round pick in 2014. He tore his ACL in October 2019, but before that injury he had missed only one game in his first five seasons.

Last week, Houston cut center Nick Martin, a second-round pick in 2016, saving $6.25 million.



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