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Rams’ offense has work to do despite road victory, 3-0 start – Los Angeles Rams Blog



CLEVELAND — The Los Angeles Rams spent the offseason adjusting their offense and adding new wrinkles after the high-scoring unit was brought to a screeching halt by the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.

On Sunday night, they escaped Cleveland with a 20-13 victory over the Browns inside a raucous FirstEnergy Stadium to improve to 3-0. But it is apparent the 2019 edition of coach Sean McVay’s offense has plenty of work to do to earn a return trip to the Super Bowl.

Defensive win: The Rams’ defense, for a third straight game, did all it could to slow explosive playmakers — this time in quarterback Baker Mayfield, receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry and running back Nick Chubb. The pass rush kept Mayfield off balance, and the QB was sacked three times.

QB breakdown: For a third consecutive game, Jared Goff was unable to develop a rhythm and establish connections with his receivers in the first half. In several instances, passes were thrown behind or out of reach of his targets. In the second quarter, Goff was stripped, and the Browns converted the takeaway into a field goal. In the third quarter, Goff threw a pass that was intercepted by Browns defensive back T.J. Carrie. And in the fourth quarter, Goff was intercepted by Juston Burris. Goff completed 24 of 38 passes for 269 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Troubling Trend, Part I: For a third consecutive game, the Rams did not score a touchdown in the first quarter, and for a second time this season, they did not score a touchdown in the first half. Last season, they failed to score a first-half touchdown in only one regular-season game. The offense also had a slow start during a Week 1 win over the Carolina Panthers, as the Rams were held scoreless in the first quarter. In a victory over the New Orleans Saints last week, the Rams were held to a field goal in the first quarter.

Troubling Trend, Part II: The offensive line. The unit underwent a significant offseason makeover when left guard Rodger Saffold departed in free agency and the team declined the option on center John Sullivan’s contract. On Sunday, with right guard Austin Blythe sidelined because of an ankle sprain, the Rams had three first-year starters on the interior of their line with left guard Joe Noteboom, center Brian Allen and right guard Jamil Demby. The run-game suffered, as five players rushed for a combined 91 yards, and Goff was under duress throughout the game.

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Minnesota Vikings’ Kyle Rudolph organizes essential goods drive with Timberwolves, Gophers



MINNEAPOLIS — Kyle Rudolph was 24 hours too late.

By the time the Minnesota Vikings tight end drove around Monday to look for places in need of organized clean-up efforts after looting and riots took place throughout the Twin Cities following George Floyd’s death, the 30-year-old witnessed his favorite element of the community he’s been a part of for the last nine years.

With broken glass and debris already cleaned up, the efforts to rebuild were underway. So when Rudolph pivoted to the idea of an essential goods drive to benefit residents like a woman named Stephanie, whose TV interview went viral after most of the stores near her home were destroyed, he chose to go to the area impacted the hardest.

Amid burned buildings and shopping centers shut down because of excessive damage, Rudolph held a donation drive on Friday in the parking lot of a now-closed Cub Foods near East Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis where residents from the surrounding area could receive non-perishable food and other essential items.

“I think today is a perfect example of how times are different because you don’t just have people here who have been directly affected by the problem,” Rudolph told ESPN. “You have people that are here from all walks of life. You have people that have never dealt with racism a day in their life yet they know it’s a problem, they want to be here to support and they want to be part of the change.”

Friday’s event, which saw a steady stream of hundreds come out as early as 9:30 a.m., had a handful of Vikings players on hand to help hand out donations. Rudolph was joined by Danielle Hunter, Adam Thielen, Garrett Bradbury, Aviante Collins, Chad Beebe, Cameron Smith and Jake Browning, all of whom were in attendance at Floyd’s memorial service Thursday.

Rudolph also sought the help of Minnesota Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie, who was joined by coach Ryan Saunders and teammate Malik Beasley. Also on hand to lug cases of water and other goods from the donation stations to people’s cars were several members of the Minnesota football team and Gophers coach P.J. Fleck.

“What you’re seeing right now is a fair representation of Minnesota and what Minnesota can be,” Okogie said. “You see every different kind of race, ethnicity, religious (background) — it doesn’t really matter. We’re coming together. What I think is so symbolic of this whole thing is what we have right now is a whole bunch of hope, love, fun and opportunity. You look around and everything’s been destroyed. So if we can start right here and grow outwards, that’s what we have to do.”

Rudolph, who has previously served on the Vikings’ social justice committee which, among several of its initiatives, aims to foster relations between police departments and the communities they serve, believes the Vikings can continue to play a role in the fight against systemic racism and police brutality.

“To fix this, it’s going to take time,” Rudolph said. “It’s not something that when the protests stop, the change stops. It’s got to be something that’s sustainable. It’s got to be something that we can continue to do for years because just under 20 years ago I was in Cincinnati, Ohio, when Timothy Thomas was killed. There were riots and protesting and I never would have thought that just under 20 years later I would be still living in a similar situation. My hope is that 20 years from now when my kids are in their 20s, this isn’t a battle that they’re on the forefront and fighting.”

Across the Twin Cities, other teams are entrenched in efforts to give back. Minnesota Wild defenceman Jared Spurgeon made donations to six charitable organizations, including the Gianna Floyd Fund, Black Women Speak and WeTheProtesters, Inc., to benefit the Black Lives Matter movement and local rebuilding efforts.

Spurgeon, who is in Canada with his family, noted the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery will prompt him and his wife to have an open dialogue about race with their young children.

“I don’t think there’s any age that’s too early to start teaching it,” Spurgeon said. “Growing up I think my parents tried to do that with myself but as you grow older with yourself you start realizing there are more things that you can do for your own children.”

Spurgeon said he hopes to see the community-wide efforts continue long after the city is rebuilt.

“From here on out, it can’t just be a one-week thing or a two-week thing where everybody’s doing it,” Spurgeon said. “It has to be a continued trend where we’re all trying to be better and get everyone equal rights.”

Elsewhere, the University of Minnesota is hosting a “United Are We” community drive Monday in the parking lot the athletic department where donations of essential supplies, toiletries, diapers and other non-perishables can be dropped off from 8-11 a.m.

Earlier this week, the Gophers’ athletic department launched an initiative called “Listen,” a forum used to amplify the voices of student-athletes, coaches and others for an open conversation on race. The site has several aggregated posts from student-athletes social media platforms in hopes of fostering an honest conversation throughout the entire athletic department.

“It’s not just a time of talk,” Gophers associate athletic director for external affairs Mike Wierzbicki said. “We need to create action. There’s action to this, there’s learning and then ultimately what are our steps to go forward from here.”

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says NFL was ‘wrong’ not to listen to its players about racism



NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement Friday condemning racism, saying he admits the league was wrong to not listen to its players earlier and that it will try to do better.

“It has been a difficult time for our country, In particular, black people in our country,” Goodell said in a video released on social media. “First, my condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and all the families, who have endured police brutality.

“We, the National Football League, comdemn racism and the systematic oppression, of black people. We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter. I personally protest with you and wanted to be part of the much-needed change in this country.”

Goodell’s video comes almost 24 hours after more than a dozen NFL stars united to send a passionate 70-second video message to the league about racial inequality on Thursday night.

The players demanded that the NFL state it condemns “racism and the systemic oppression of black people. … We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. … We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.”

On Friday, Goodell did just that.

“Without black players, there would be no National Football League,” Goodell said in his video on Friday. “And the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff. We are listening. I am listening. And I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and go forward for a better and more united NFL family.”

New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas opened the players’ video with the statement: “It’s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered.” The players then took turns asking the question, “What if I was George Floyd?” The video closed with the players insisting they “will not be silenced.”

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died last week in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.

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Texans special-teams coach Brad Seely retiring after 31 NFL seasons



HOUSTON — Texans special-teams coordinator Brad Seely is retiring after 31 seasons as an NFL coach, the team announced Friday.

“I’ve been incredibly fortunate to spend over 30 years in the NFL coaching the game I love,” Seely said in a statement. “I want to thank each and every coach, player and staff member I worked with from when I entered the league in 1989 until now. I’ve been blessed to be a part of some of the best organizations in professional sports and I will forever cherish the friendships and memories I’ve made around the league.”

Since Seely took over in Houston in 2018, the Texans have gone from having the 26th-ranked special-teams unit by Football Outsiders to fifth in 2018 and fourth last season. In his career, Seely has coached 10 different players to 17 special-teams Pro Bowl selections. Seely has coached in nine conference championship games and won three Super Bowls.

“Brad Seely is one of the best special teams coaches in NFL history and his contributions to the game have been unparalleled,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said in a statement. “I first met Brad when we were both assistant coaches in New England and immediately recognized his ability to connect with his players and teach them about the game in his own unique way. Brad has won at every stop in his 30-year career and his résumé of three Super Bowl victories and five conference championship appearances speaks for itself.

“It was an honor and privilege to coach alongside Brad and I will always consider him a friend. On behalf of the entire Texans organization, we wish him and his family the best in his retirement.”

Seely’s departure means the Texans will have only one coordinator remaining from last season — offensive coordinator Tim Kelly. Anthony Weaver was promoted from defensive line coach to defensive coordinator earlier this offseason.

Tracy Smith is the Texans’ assistant special-teams coordinator and has assisted Seely for 10 of his seasons in the NFL.

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