In her short but already momentous career, the 22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman has accomplished a stunning series of firsts. At 19, she became the country’s first Youth Poet Laureate. Last month, when she recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at President Biden’s inauguration, she became the youngest inaugural poet in American history. And on Sunday, she became the first poet ever to perform for the Super Bowl.Before the game, Gorman delivered an original poem titled “Chorus of the Captains” in a taped segment. Gorman wrote the poem to celebrate three people who were chosen as honorary captains to take part in the coin toss: Trimaine Davis, a Los Angeles teacher who helped his students get laptops for remote schooling; Suzie Dorner, a nurse in a Tampa who works with Covid-19 patients in an intensive care unit, and James Martin, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran from Pittsburgh who has worked to support veterans, high school athletes and young people in his community.In a performance before the coin toss, Gorman paid homage to the honorary captains:Today we honor our three captainsFor their actions and impact inA time of uncertainty and need.They’ve taken the lead,Exceeding all expectations and limitations,Uplifting their communities and neighborsAs leaders, healers, and educatorsEver since she stole the show with a charismatic performance at the inauguration last month, Gorman has seen interest in her work soar. Her publisher announced that it will print three million copies of her upcoming titles, which include her debut poetry collection and a picture book. Barack Obama, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Oprah Winfrey praised her on social media. IMG Models signed Gorman and will represent her for fashion and beauty endorsements.Appearing at the Super Bowl will likely bring an even larger audience to her work. The N.F.L. contacted Gorman in November, when the league was trying to create a ceremony that would reflect the challenges the country is facing. It decided to open the game by celebrating people who have helped their communities through the pandemic.
The Chiefs and Bucs face off for the second — and final — time of the 2020 season in Super Bowl 55 on Sunday. And the stakes are a little higher than their Week 12 meeting this season.
Kansas City is looking for its second consecutive Super Bowl under Andy Reid. A win at Raymond James Stadium would also mark the second such victory for quarterback Patrick Mahomes — an incredible feat for someone still on their rookie contract. That would also keep him within striking distance of Tom Brady for all-time GOAT status.
Speaking of Brady, he will look for his seventh Super Bowl victory in 10 tries, cementing perhaps forever his place as the greatest NFL player of all time. That argument would certainly be compounded by the fact he would do it with the Buccaneers in his first season in Tampa Bay after earning his first six wins in New England. That he could do it against a challenger to his all-time greatness would be another facet in his favor.Sporting News is tracking live scoring updates and highlights from Super Bowl 55 between the Chiefs and Buccaneers. Follow below for complete results and more.MORE: Watch Super Bowl 55 live with fuboTV (7-day free trial)Super Bowl 2021 score
Chiefs vs. Buccaneers live updates, highlights from Super Bowl 556:31 p.m.: Travis Kelce and Lavonte David taking the coin toss for the Chiefs and Bucs, respectively.6:21 p.m.: President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden give a pregame message to the Super Bowl contestants; they ask for a moment of silence for those who have died due to COVID-19. Raymond James Stadium is … notably loud.6:14 p.m.: Also, for those who missed it: The playing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by Alicia Keyes, played before the Super Bowl:6:09 p.m.: It’s about that time. Here are inactives for both teams: It seems the Bucs will have plenty of options ready with Antonio Brown, LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins and Cameron Brate all active:
Here are the Chiefs’ inactives for Super Bowl LV:CB BoPete KeyesRB Darwin ThompsonTE Ricky Seals-JonesDE Tim WardDT Khalen SaundersQB Matt MooreCB Chris Lammons
— Matt McMullen (@KCChiefs_Matt) February 7, 2021Super Bowl start timeDate: Sunday, Feb. 7Time: 6:30 p.m. ETSuper Bowl 55 between the Chiefs and Buccaneers kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET, which has become the usual time for Super Bowls. The game will be played on Sunday, Feb. 7, which is two weeks after the conference championship games determined that Kansas City and Tampa Bay would play in the season’s final game.
You should be able to find Super Bowl coverage all over your cable channels throughout the day, including morning coverage on NFL network and extended pregame shows on CBS before kickoff.What channel is the Super Bowl on?The 2021 Super Bowl will be broadcast on CBS, which has actually flipped its turn in the three-network rotation with NBC. NBC wanted to trade to broadcast the 2022 Super Bowl to pair its advertising with its 2022 Winter Olympics coverage.This will be the 21st Super Bowl on CBS, the most of any channel. It will also be the last during the current broadcast agreement that expires after 2022 and featured the three-network rotation of CBS, NBC and Fox, which broadcasted last year’s game.
Four more Premier League took place on Sunday, starting in the Capital at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as Spurs welcomed West Brom to North London…
Tottenham Hotspur 2 West Bromwich Albion 0
This was must-win for both sides but for very different reasons, Spurs were on a poor run which has seen them slip to ninth and seven points off the top four, whilst for The Baggies they needed wins to try and make up the gap to safety, which was a huge eleven points at kick-off. The hosts were given a boost prior to kick-off after Harry Kane made a surprise return to the line-up, something the visitors would not have wanted to see, but West Brom had a certain Ansley Maitand-Niles making his Baggies debut in this one.
Could the midfielder, on loan from Spurs bitter North London rivals Arsenal, help cause a big result for the visitors? Well, the first half was pretty much attack against defence as Spurs tried to find a way through a resolute Baggies backline, and their goal led a charmed life at times but they defended solidly and frustrated Spurs throughout, and West Brom’s only real chance of the half was a huge one, and it came right at the end of the half, as a cross found Mbaye Diagne free at the back post and his header was superbly saved by Hugo Lloris, it really would have been a smash and grab that, although replays showed he was offside, it was a warning to Spurs though, and the sides went into the break with no score.
Eight minutes into the second period and Spurs finally had the breakthrough, as a lovely ball from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg found Kane who was onside and he took it on and slotted across keeper Sam Johnstone and into the far corner, relief for Spurs and now The Baggies had to try and come out a bit more now if they were to get anything from this one. Just before the hour mark though Spurs broke in devastating fashion as Kane chested a lovely ball into the path of Lucas Moura who charged upfield and then he laid in Son Heung-min who fired a powerful effort that was too much for Johnstone and Spurs now had a two-goal cushion. Could the Baggies respond?
The only two big moments going forward saw Diagne find the net twice, but he was offside on both occasions, and Spurs ran out fairly comfortable winners to give them a boost after a run of three straight defeats. As for West Brom, they worked hard today but didn’t really show enough going forward to have any chance of winning this game, and wins is what they need desperately now as games are running out fast.
Onto the afternoon games now, first up it was a Midlands derby at Molineux, and then a biggie from Anfield…
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Leicester City 0
Both these sides had positive results in the week, Wolves grabbed the first win in several games after coming from behind to defeat Arsenal and end their unbeaten run, whilst The Foxes got back to winning ways with a comfortable victory at Fulham, and the visitors knew a win here would take them level on points with second-placed Man United.
But no doubt Wolves would have liked to build on that result in midweek, so this was set up to be a decent Midlands derby, and it was the hosts who had the best two chances in the opening twenty minutes, with Pedro Neto looking particularly dangerous down the left for Wolves. Leicester then had a couple of openings thanks largely to the quality of James Maddison and Harvey Barnes, but the Wolves defence stood firm, and this tightly contested Midlands derby yielded no goals in the opening forty-five minutes, so could one of these sides produce a moment of magic to break the shackles in the second period?
Adama Traore was getting more and more into the game and causing the visitors problems down the right, whilst Leicester brought on the returning Jamie Vardy after the hour mark to try and make a difference upfront for the Foxes who thus far in this half hadn’t really caused Wolves many problems. Leicester finished the game the stronger of the two sides though and saw good chances for Barnes and then Vardy at the end, although Wolves did have a great chance through one of their own subs in Fabio Silva, it ended goalless and both sides picked up a hard-earned point.
Liverpool 1 Manchester City 4
This was a huge game for the Merseysiders, they sat seven points behind City at kick off and knew a win was the only option if they were to keep themselves in the title race, this is because City look unstoppable at the moment and victory for them would put a ten-point gap to Liverpool in fourth, and you feel a gap of that size with 15/16 games to go would be too much to make up. Liverpool certainly had the best chances in the opening half hour, seeing Sadio Mane head over and then Roberto Firmino forced a decent stop from Ederson, but eight minutes before half time City won a penalty after Raheem Sterling was brought down by Fabinho, but Ilkay Gundogan sent his spot kick over the bar, and City had missed a huge opportunity to go in front in a game they had not really got going in thus far.
It is games like this that make you realise that not having fans is a disadvantage as it needed that spark, one where if there was an atmosphere would probably raise the sides level quite a bit, but right now there just wasn’t that spark, could someone find it in the second period, Liverpool were the ones who needed it the most as this was a must win game for them really. But three minutes into the second half Gundogan made up for that penalty miss, as after Sterling had run into the box and found Phil Foden, his effort was well saved by Alisson, but Gundogan fired home the loose ball, and City now had their noses in front, and now Liverpool had it all to do.
Just past the hour mark through Liverpool was given a lifeline after Ruben Dias mis controlled a ball over the top and Mo Salah got in behind him but was pulled back by Dias to give away a penalty, and Salah stepped up to smash home the spot-kick, and Liverpool had hope once again. But Liverpool then shot themselves in the foot with seventeen minutes to go as a poor pass out by keeper Alisson went straight to Foden and he produced a brilliant bit of play down the right to drive to the byline and square for Gundogan who converted from close range, and City was back in the driving seat once again, and unbelievably Alisson made another howler minutes later as he gave the ball straight to Bernardo Silva who chipped to the back post for Sterling to head home, a crazy few minutes from the Liverpool stopper, and one that almost certainly had ruled his side out of this contest now.
And with eight minutes to go City made it four and how, as Foden received the ball on the right before cutting inside and blasting a wonderful effort beyond Alisson, it was a superb strike from the young England star, and a statement to the rest that City are the ones to beat, although it looks very much like the blue half of Manchester will be winning a third title in four years. For Liverpool, it certainly looks like their title defence is over, three straight defeats at home, and they cling onto their top four place, which has to be there focus now, but today was a humbling experience for them no doubt.
Onto the evening game now, and a match between Sheffield Utd and Chelsea from Bramall Lane…
Sheffield United 1 Chelsea 2
The Blades, like West Brom and Fulham, need to win the majority of their remaining games if they have any chance to get out of the bottom three, they are twelve points from safety now so with sixteen games to go it’s starting to get to be an almost impossible task. They welcomed a Chelsea side to South Yorkshire revitalised under new boss Thomas Tuchel and were unbeaten in three without conceding under him so far, so not an easy task for Chris Wilder and his side, but the hosts had won three of their last five, including that win at Old Trafford, so have done well recently.
They nearly had the perfect start as well but saw Oli Burke fire into the side netting from a great position less than a minute into the game, and then Chelsea had a chance when Timo Werner lofted over Aaron Ramsdale, but a covering defender cleared, and then United was awarded a penalty after Chris Basham was brought down by Ben Chilwell, but after VAR had a look, Basham was offside when he received the ball, so the decision was reversed and Chelsea was let off again. Chelsea then failed to convert at the back post after a decent ball in, and all this had happened in the opening quarter of the contest which had been a decent one thus far.
Three minutes before the break and Chelsea put together a great move which saw them grab the lead, Chilwell played a lovely ball into the path of Werner who sent a first time ball back across the box into the path of Mason Mount who was arriving to send a lovely first time finish into the bottom corner, United would have been disappointed to concede so close to half time, but they now had to come from behind to get anything in this one. Nine minutes into the second period Chelsea gift-wrapped the hosts a leveller, as after Oli McBurnie tried to find his strike partner Burke and failed, Anthony Rudiger played a blind ball back to his keeper Eduoard Mendy and didn’t realise he had come out to claim the ball, and the ball rolled into the net for a rather comical own goal and the first goal Chelsea had conceded under Tuchel, however, just before the hour mark Chelsea retook the lead as after Werner had been wiped out by keeper Ramsdale, this after a poor backpass, no penalty was awarded initially until VAR got involved and sent Kevin Friend over to the monitor before he had another look and correctly award a penalty, Jorginho stepped up to convert the spot-kick, and Chelsea were back in front again. Wilder would have been so frustrated at giving away such a soft penalty after getting themselves back into the game, it was a mad few minutes, but The Blades had it all to do again. The hosts had four strikers on the pitch at the end as they tried to find a leveller, with one of those subs Rhian Brewster seeing two shots well blocked, before another sub Billy Sharp saw an overhead kick well saved by Mendy right at the end, but Chelsea saw the game out without much alarm apart from those moments to pick up a third straight win and take them to the cusp of the top four, whilst defeat for United leaves them bottom and almost looking for a minor miracle to get out of trouble.
This is what today’s action has done to the table…
What a weekend for City, they made it ten straight Premier League wins whilst United and Leicester dropped points meaning they are well in the driving seat now, whilst Liverpool must now focus on staying in the top four as a priority as their title chances are probably over now. Chelsea are now the top London side after they went above West Ham into fifth following their victory at Bramall Lane, that defeat for The Blades means they have a twelve point gap to safety still with just fifteen games remaining.
West Brom is not in much better shape after they remain eleven points from safety after losing at Spurs, that result for the North London side sees them just four points off the top four now. That battle for the top four is shaping up to be quite some fight now with five points separating fourth placed Liverpool and ninth placed Villa.
Just one more game to come this weekend, the Monday night football from Elland Road as Leeds United host Crystal Palace with both sides knowing a win takes them into the top ten.
Monkfish shines at Leopardstown as champion trainer Willie Mullins dominates Dublin Racing Festival by winning nine of the 15 racesMonkfish produced the stand-out performance on the second dayThe gelding is now odds-on favourite for Cheltenham’s Festival Novices’ ChaseMonkfish’s effortless victory meant Mullins took four of the six Grade One races By Marcus Townend for the Daily Mail Published: 17:39 EST, 7 February 2021 | Updated: 18:13 EST, 7 February 2021 Monkfish produced the stand-out performance on the second day of a Dublin Racing Festival dominated by trainer Willie Mullins.The imposing Paul Townend-ridden gelding is now odds-on favourite for Cheltenham’s three-mile Festival Novices’ Chase after trouncing old rival Latest Exhibition by 11 lengths in the Flogas Novice Chase.Monkfish’s effortless victory meant Mullins took four of the six Grade One races at the Festival and other wins with Appreciate it, Grangee, Kemboy and Maze Runner meant the trainer won nine of 15 races across the meeting. Monkfish’s effortless victory meant Willie Mullins took four of the six Grade One racesMullins has now collected the Flogas Novices’ Chase eight times and admitted Monkfish, winner of last year’s Albert Bartlett Novices’ Chase, deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as two of his best-known previous winners — Faugheen and Florida Pearl.He said: ‘This fella has the same sort of potential. Everything is just so effortless. I was more impressed with him today than on any other day. He seems to be getting better.’The icing on the cake for Mullins was the win of Danny Mullins-ridden Kemboy in the Irish Gold Cup as his two biggest rivals — Delta Work and Minella Indo — were let down by their jumping.Coral reacted by trimming the Cheltenham Gold Cup odds of his stablemate Al Boum Photo to 3-1 favourite as he tries to win that race for the third successive season. Kemboy, who unseated his rider in the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup and was seventh last year, will not necessarily take him on.Mullins said: ‘He’s entered in the Stayers’ Hurdle as well as the Gold Cup, as I’m just not sure if fences are his thing around Cheltenham. We were all wondering if we should try something different.’lBookmakers were spared a massive pay-out when Gallahers Cross finished fourth in the final race at Musselburgh. The gelding, a 40-1 shot on Saturday night but sent off 4-5 favourite, had been placed in accumulator bets with Musselburgh winner Fire Away and Southwell scorer Blowing Dixie, who were the subject of similar price plunges.
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Lionel Messi came off the bench to provide a scintillating 30-minute cameo and change the game for Barcelona, who triumphed at Real Betis 3-2. He immediately equalised just after coming on, then played a key role in forcing Victor Ruiz to score an own goal. The defender levelled things us but another sub, Trincao, fired a brilliant winner to keep Barcelona in the title race, but only just. Real Betis – Barcelona: Player Ratings, Match Stats, Player StatsBut which players stood out in the match?✔️ GOOD PERFORMANCELionel Messi: 7.5Lionel Messi didn’t even come onto the pitch until the 57th minute. By the 59th minute, he had equalised. Barca looked completely toothless prior to his arrival, creating virtually nothing, but the Argentine collected the ball on the edge of the area and smashed into the bottom corner with his trusty left foot. And five minutes after that his glorious reverse pass through to Jordi Alba allowed the full-back to force an own goal from Victor Ruiz. Even in cameos, Messi is a standout performer. ❌ POOR PERFORMANCEOscar Mingueza: 6.0Mingueza has been preferred at right-back in recent weeks but lacks the defensive nous and the attacking verve to perform a proper role in Barcelona’s system. He doesn’t offer enough in the final third to provide the type of attacking creativity Barca teams have so often had, while defensively he had a difficult time dealing with Betis’ mobile forward players. All in all, Mingueza has been fortunate to be promoted into the first team, and performances such as this question how long he will remain there. ⭐ STAR MANOusmane Dembele: 7.5Dembele just needs to make more of a direct impact on scorelines and prove his worth, because most of his all-round play is getting better with each passing week. Here he had the chance to score in the second half, but his lobbed effort forced a great save from Joel Robles. He provided quite a straightforward assist to Messi at the edge of the area, but his blistering pace gave Betis a difficult evening throughout. He completed a huge five dribbles and had seven touches inside the area. If Dembele’s decision-making improves, the rest of his game seems to be in place. He just needs things to fall, find his confidence and grow into the player Barca paid so much money for. Real Betis – Barcelona: Player Ratings, Match Stats, Player Stats
The Knicks are finalizing a trade to reacquire the former N.B.A. All-Star guard Derrick Rose from the Detroit Pistons, according to two people briefed on the transaction. The deal will reunite Rose with Tom Thibodeau, who coached Rose in Minnesota and Chicago and now leads the Knicks.The trade, which will send the out-of-favor guard Dennis Smith Jr. and a second-round draft pick to Detroit for Rose, was nearing completion on Sunday, according to the people, who were not authorized to discuss the trade publicly. The Athletic first reported the looming agreement.Rose, 32, is a decade removed from his Most Valuable Player Award-winning season with the Chicago Bulls in 2010-11. He has rebounded from a serious knee injury during the 2012 playoffs to establish himself as a productive scoring guard off the bench. Rose spent one tumultuous season with the Knicks, in 2016-17, and is known to be a favorite of Thibodeau, who coached him for five seasons in Chicago and parts of two seasons in Minnesota.The Knicks lack scoring punch in the backcourt, and Rose averaged 14.2 points and 4.2 assists in 15 games this season for the rebuilding Pistons before he and Detroit management mutually agreed recently that he would sit out until the team could trade him.Thibodeau, who has shown more comfort playing veteran players, will face the immediate riddle of how to blend Rose with the promising rookie Immanuel Quickley, who is already popular with Knicks fans. Quickley is off to a strong start (12.4 points in just 19 minutes per game) after he was selected out of Kentucky with the 25th overall pick in the draft in November.When asked Sunday about his reputation for preferring veterans, Thibodeau tried to brush off the question by reminding reporters that Rose was playing for him at age 22 when he achieved his greatest success.“Derrick Rose is the youngest M.V.P. in the history of the league,” Thibodeau said. “So I don’t worry about that stuff.”Rose will join the veteran forward Taj Gibson, whom the Knicks re-signed last month after waiving him in November, in playing under Thibodeau in all three of his stops as an N.B.A. head coach. The Knicks, at 11-14 after losing to Miami on Sunday, hold the East’s No. 8 seed and have exceeded expectations in Thibodeau’s first season.Smith’s brief time with the Knicks was a major disappointment. The Dallas Mavericks drafted him with the No. 9 overall pick in 2017, and he was initially billed as the centerpiece of the team’s much-debated trade in January 2019 that sent Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas from the Knicks. Smith, now 23, has appeared in just three of the Knicks’ 25 games this season. It had become so clear he had no future in New York that he recently asked to be sent to the Knicks’ G League affiliate to be able to work on his game.Rose’s ties to the Knicks go beyond his relationship with Thibodeau. He played at the University of Memphis for John Calipari, who now coaches at Kentucky and is close with the Knicks’ president, Leon Rose, and his top aide, William Wesley. Four former Kentucky players are on the Knicks’ roster.Rose averaged 18 points per game in his lone Knicks season. In 2016, during the preseason, he traveled to Los Angeles several times to testify in a civil case in which he was accused of sexual assault. He was found not liable. He also left the team abruptly on a game day in January of that season and had season-ending knee surgery in April 2017.
Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 4:28 pm |
Back to: Shared News, Top News Updated: February 7, 2021 at 4:29 pm
B. Wayne Hughes’s Spendthrift Farm has acquired a 50% ownership interest in graded stakes winner Keepmeinmind (Laoban). The 3-year-old colt was second behind Essential Quality (Tapit) in the GI Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity and third behind that subsequent champion in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile before concluding his 2-year-old campaign with a win in the GII Kentucky Jockey Club S. He currently sits second on the GI Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 18 points.
“We are delighted to be a part of such an exciting young racehorse as Keepmeinmind, and thankful to Cypress Creek and Arnold Bennewith for the opportunity to join the team,” said Ned Toffey, Spendthrift general manager. “We believe Keepmeinmind is poised for a big 3-year-old year. He demonstrated tremendous talent as a 2-year-old, placing twice in Grade Is, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and finishing up the year in style with a convincing win in the Kentucky Jockey Club S. at Churchill.”
Campaigned by Cypress Creek LLC and Arnold Bennewith, Keepmeinmind is entered in next Saturday’s GII Risen Star S. at Fair Grounds and will make his seasonal debut either there or in the Feb. 15 GIII Southwest S. at Oaklawn Park.
Trained by Robertino Diodoro, the bay colt is expected to work at Oaklawn Monday morning before a decision is made on his next start.
“There’s a couple of variables,” Diodoro told the Oaklawn communications department on a decision between the two races. “I think we’re going to wait and see the next 72 hours. The short field here is a little bit of a concern with his running style. If you’ve got a speed horse, like a couple of guys do in the race, perfect having five, six horses. But when you have a come from behinder, that’s not the most ideal thing.”
Keepmeinmind recently breezed a bullet five furlongs in :59 flat (1/17) Feb. 2 at Oaklawn.
Autrey Bloodstock brokered the deal for Spendthrift to join the current ownership group.
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This story was posted in Shared News, Top News and tagged B. Wayne Hughes, Fair Grounds, Keepmeinmind, Kentucky Derby, Ned Toffey, Oaklawn Park, Risen Star Stakes, Robertino Diodoro, Southwest Stakes, Spendthrift Farm.
In 2019, Byron Leftwich turned Jameis Winston into a 5,000-yard passer. Then when Tom Brady joined the Buccaneers, Leftwich helped get Tampa Bay to the Super Bowl.
Despite that, Leftwich didn’t get a single head-coaching interview. Bruce Arians wasn’t happy about that.
“I was very, very pissed that Byron didn’t at least get an interview this year for the job that he’s done,” Arians told reporters. Arians and Leftwich have a long history together, having overlapped for a time in Pittsburgh. It’s part of the reason Leftwich wound up as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator in Super Bowl 55, the most prominent role he’s had in the NFL since his tenure as Jacksonville Jaguars starting quarterback.To figure out how Leftwich got to this point, we’ve taken a look back at his playing and coaching careers to trace the steps to the Super Bowl.MORE: Buccaneers’ devotion to coaching staff diversity an essential element in Super Bowl 55 runByron Leftwich NFL highlightsLeftwich was a dominant college player at Marshall University in West Virginia. He finished second on the Thundering Herd’s all-time total offense list behind just Chad Pennington. That made him a hot commodity in the 2003 NFL Draft as a big, strong passer with a proven college track record.The Ravens tried to trade up with the Vikings to take Leftwich in the first round, but somehow the trade didn’t go through in time and Minnesota’s pick clock ran out. The Jaguars, slated to pick eighth, wouldn’t have gotten Leftwich if the deal went through, but they instead took him as the seventh player off the board in 2003.Leftwich took over as Jacksonville’s starter four games into his rookie season and started for each of the next four seasons, when healthy. In the first 11 games of his third season, 2005, Leftwich had the ninth-best passer rating in the NFL, but then he broke his ankle. The 2006 season featured six more Leftwich starts for the Jaguars, his final six in Jacksonville. He concluded his Jags career with 51 touchdowns and 36 interceptions. David Garrad took over as the Jaguars’ starter, and Jacksonville cut Leftwich on the eve of the 2007 season.From there, Leftwich joined the Falcons for one season, starting two games. Then he went to the Steelers in 2008, the Buccaneers in 2009 and back to Pittsburgh from 2010 through 2012. He earned a Super Bowl ring after the 2008 season when the Steelers beat the Cardinals, and he was Tampa Bay’s season-opening starter in 2009 before being benched for Josh Johnson. Leftwich got one more start after leaving the Buccaneers, a Week 11 home game against the Ravens with Ben Roethlisberger out. Leftwich had a career-long rush of 31 yards for a touchdown early in that game, but it turned out he’d broken a rib on the play and wouldn’t play again in the NFL after finishing that game.How Byron Leftwich’s Bruce Arians connection led to BuccaneersArians was Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator from 2007-2011, meaning he spent three seasons (2008, 2010, 2011) with Leftwich on the roster. That gave him a chance to see Leftwich work.No longer was Leftwich a starter, but his on-field prowess wouldn’t matter much in whether Arians eventually gave him a job. It’d be the meeting rooms and the veteran presence that Leftwich showed that could matter down the line. Arians hired Leftwich as a coaching intern in 2016 in Arizona. Even in those early days, Arians said he believed Leftwich had a “great, bright future in coaching.”Leftwich himself felt his playing career had prepared him to be a coach, mentioning that Arians probably saw that himself from their time together. “I played the game as if I was a coach,” Leftwich said in 2017. “I never really had the physical ability to run around. I could throw the ball, but I had to think my way through the whole time. I think (Arians) understood that and appreciated my knowledge, how much work I put into the game.”After his coaching intern stint, Leftwich spent portions of two seasons as the Cardinals’ quarterbacks coach before taking over as interim offensive coordinator in 2018. Arians took the Buccaneers job in 2019 after a year off, and he brought Leftwich over from the Cardinals as his offensive coordinator, even giving him the play-calling duties many expected Arians to keep.”When I came back,” Arians said in 2019, “part of it was that to be a better head coach, I had to relinquish (play-calling). And there was only one person I would relinquish it to.”In 2019, the Buccaneers ranked first in the NFL in passing yardage, and in 2020, Tampa Bay was fourth. Arians nailed that hire. Byron Leftwich career timeline2003 – Leftwich was taken with the seventh overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft by the Jaguars. He took over as starter four games in to his rookie year. 2004 – Leftwich’s first full season as a starter resulted in an 8-6 record for Jacksonville. He threw 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.2005 – The Jaguars started the season 8-3, and Leftwich had improved to 15 TDs with only five picks. Then he broke his ankle and missed the rest of the year.2006 – Leftwich started six games in his final Jaguars season, losing the job to David Garrard.2007 – The Falcons signed Leftwich in September after the Jaguars cut him. He started two games in his lone season in Atlanta.2008 – Leftwich saw time in five games with the Steelers, and Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl after the season by defeating the Cardinals.2009 – The Buccaneers signed Leftwich to be their starter, but after an 0-3 start, Josh Johnson was inserted and Leftwich didn’t play for Tampa Bay again. 2010 – Leftwich began a three-year tenure with Pittsburgh to close his NFL career. He started one game in 2012. 2016 – The Cardinals, led by Bruce Arians, hire Leftwich as a coaching intern.
2017 – Leftwich takes over as the quarterbacks coach for Arizona.2018 – Midway through the season, Leftwich is named interim offensive coordinator for the Cardinals.2019 – After Arians returned to coaching following a year hiatus, he hired Leftwich as the Buccaneers offensive coordinator and gave him play-calling duties.
England won the toss in the first Test of a tour they were expected to lose 4-0 and batted and batted and batted – for 190 overs. And scored 578. Understandably, the Chepauk curator has received plenty of flack, but we look at why the first innings exposed a bigger issue at hand for the hosts.What’s the issue?India’s obsession to field a Ravindra Jadeja clone. Ever since India realized that Ravindra Jadeja’s batting was reliable enough for him to warrant a spot in the Top 7, they’ve deployed a five-bowler strategy. The wicket-keeper, Jadeja and Ashwin – in no particular order – slot in at 6, 7 and 8 respectively, giving the side the flexibility to play three more specialist bowlers pertinent to the conditions. In the absence of Jadeja in the first Test in Chennai, the management looked to replicate the same tactic by installing a Jadeja prototype but, erm, let’s say it did not go down too well. The bowling, ultimately, lacked bite and the hosts ended up conceding 578, with the fourth and the fifth bowlers – Sundar and Nadeem – returning combined figures of 2/265 off 70 overs. The wicket, indisputably, was flat, but the 190 overs demands introspection over India’s tactic. How is the Jaddu-obsession detrimental to the team?Logically, one would think playing five bowlers in comparison to four is bound to yield the side better results with the ball, but that is a bland assumption devoid of key intangibles. What ultimately matters is if the bowlers picked possess the quality to derail the opposition. In the absence of Jadeja, India were keen to blood-in a like-for-like replacement, hence the eagerness to field one of Washington Sundar or Axar Patel. Both Sundar and Axar are finger-spinners capable of batting at #7, and both offer the three-dimensionality that Jadeja brings to the table. But while it is true that they bring the same package as Jadeja, there is daylight in the quality of the primary skill (bowling, in this case) between Sundar/Axar and Jadeja. The Saurashtra all-rounder is often celebrated for his three-dimensionality, but people tend to conveniently forget that he is, behind Ashwin, the second-best spinner across the past decade. Completely keeping his batting aside, Jadeja averages 24.32 with the ball, and this number comes down to a ridiculous 21.06 in 33 Test matches at home. Just to put into perspective how good these numbers are, Ashwin, the greatest off-spinner since Muralitharan, averages two more (23.14) at home. By selecting a ‘Jadeja prototype’ India are fitting someone in the side who does the same things, albeit much worse, but are simply not doing what they should be doing: picking a spinner who offers the same threat with the ball. Sundar’s outing in the first innings is a classic case in point – he filled the Jadeja-shaped void in the side in terms of the package, yet ultimately failed at his primary job, which is to threaten with the ball. He is by no means to blame for it, for he’s far away from being a Test-level spinner, but him being picked to serve as a third spinner means that he needs to provide a cutting edge with the ball; and not just serve ‘handy’ owing to his package. This would also have held true to Axar had he been picked. Axar, too, is light-years away from being amongst the Top 5 spinners in the country and was, as revealed by Kohli himself, only considered because of India’s Jaddu obsession. This is not to deviate from the fact that India ultimately found themselves in the position they did because of the lacklustre display of the designated second spinner, Shahbaz Nadeem. Yet these kinds of situations are precisely why you pick a fifth bowler (in this case, a third spinner) – to make up even if one of the premier bowlers have an off-game. Nadeem had a performance to forget, yes, but it was exacerbated by the fact that Sundar was incapable of filling-in and masking it, ultimately defeating the purpose of having a fifth bowler. “This is just the three-spinners scenario; a Jadeja-prototype can still play if India field three pacers.”Unless the team plays in a SENA-like wicket which is a paradise for pacers, this statement won’t hold true. India, particularly of late, have been drifting towards accommodating three seamers at home but this does not change the fact that the key to success lies in the hands of the spinners. From January 1, 2015 to up until the start of the ongoing Test, Indian spinners had taken almost twice as many wickets (330) as the pacers (166) in home games. This emphasizes the importance of the role the second spinner has to play, even in a three-man pace attack. A Jadeja-prototype might be a flexible option but that player will not be of great use to the side unless he is as good as Jadeja himself with the ball. Does it mean India should just pick their five best bowlers? This can, of course, always be experimented with, but it will leave the side with a worryingly long tail. For instance, as soon as Axar injured himself, India could have gone ahead with Kuldeep, Nadeem and Ashwin as their three spinners but that would have left them with no half-decent batsman after Pant. Ashwin had a wild day out in Sydney but in his last 17 Tests at home, he averages 11.93 with the bat with no fifty-plus scores. Hence they had to make a compromise, and it came in the form of them leaving out Kuldeep (you could argue the Nadeem selection also had some Jaddu-obsession attached to it, for he is also a left-armer). So, what is the solution?Simple: in the absence of Jadeja, India either need to revert back to a four-bowler + 1 batting all-rounder strategy or ensure that, barring Ashwin, the second spinner they pick is the best spinner at their disposal, treating the No.7 slot as an all-rounder. In Chennai, Kuldeep, despite being a bigger threat than Nadeem, was overlooked because he turned the ball the same way as both Ashwin and the Jaddu prototype Sundar; as it turned out, Sundar and Nadeem’s lack of dexterity made the decision look ridiculous. Cracks can be papered over on turning tracks but, as was the case in the first two days of Chennai, on flat wickets it will be skill – and not the package – which will help punch holes in the heart of the opposition. Particularly with India completely reverting to preparing ‘we-will-outbat-you’ kind of flat wickets, it would become increasingly difficult for the side to bowl quality oppositions out at home with just one world-class spinner. A four-bowler + 1 batting all-rounder (who here replaces the Jaddu prototype) strategy is less-ideal but it would, nevertheless, solve any kind of concern with regards to a long tail and enable the skipper to field the second spinner simply based on merit, not worrying about the individual’s other credentials. With Pandya unfit to bowl and with Vihari nursing an injury, though, this option, one imagines, would not be feasible for the side in the last three Tests. Why the Jaddu-obsession is unhealthy in the long run For more than one reason, India’s obsession with finding the perfect like-for-like replacement for Jadeja is unhealthy. One, as previously discussed, is the compromise in the drop in quality of bowling but secondly, and most importantly, the long-term ramifications it could have on the kind of expectations the management have from spinners. The selections of Sundar and Axar now, and Jayant Yadav previously, are clear indications of the management’s affinity for slower bowlers who can contribute with the bat (largely because most of the seamers can’t hold the willow). “Bowling combination we’ll try to give us as many options as possible, along with guys having the ability to contribute with the bat. That’s been the pattern for success for us in home conditions over the last few years and that continues to be the case this time around as well. The combination we’ve played in the past where guys can bowl and bat is something that will be at the forefront of our plans,” Kohli had said a day before the commencement of the first Test.Grooming all-rounders is healthy but to discard spinners ‘only’ because they cannot contribute with the bat is preposterous.India, currently, have as many as two back-ups for Jadeja, but are at a point where they have little clue as to who their best spinner apart from Ashwin and Jadeja is. Kuldeep was supposed to be the answer but his progress has stalled, and this has a lot to do with the fact that he continues to be overlooked simply because he does not tick other boxes unrelated to his bowling. If India are to not find themselves in a dire situation post the Jaddu-Ash era, they need to start investing in their best spinners. And by investing, it means not only identifying who those players are, but giving them the opportunity to develop and learn their trade while the big fishes are still around, and not just throwing them in the deep end when the time arrives. As things stand, they are not doing it, and it could have long term consequences.Follow us on Facebook hereStay connected with us on Twitter hereLike and share our Instagram page here .
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