Fresh off defeating the ultra-talented Steelers on Sunday in the divisional round of the playoffs, the Jaguars have every reason to be confident as they prepare to face the Patriots and arguably the greatest quarterback of all time in the AFC championship game.
But Tom Brady is not Jacksonville’s biggest problem in the next round. Nor is the historic challenge that comes with a road game at Gillette Stadium in January. The biggest obstacle in the way of the Jaguars reaching Super Bowl 52 is the Patriots’ status as the NFL’s most prepared team.
When the Celtics are on the road, Ainge sits next to Hayward in the weight room at the club’s headquarters in Waltham, distracting him from monotonous calf raises. What do you think of the adjustment we made last night? he asks, the day after a win in Detroit, atoning for a loss to the Pistons two weeks earlier. Andre Drummond had 20 and 20 last time, Hayward replies. So we packed it in the paint, dared them to shoot, and they couldn’t throw it in the ocean. Maybe it caught them off guard. When the Celtics are home, head coach Brad Stevens spells Ainge. Even though a flight from Chicago landed at 4:45 a.m., Stevens was at the facility by 11, ensuring he would overlap with Hayward.
Much was made of the bond between Hayward and Stevens during the free-agent signing period last summer, when the former Butler star rejoined the former Butler coach. Their college connection has been overstated, but they were always more than the typical power broker and lottery pick, using each other for five months and one tournament run. Stevens was the first recruiter to show up for Hayward’s 6 a.m. practices at Brownsburg, the first to offer him a scholarship, the first to tell Charles Woodson Womens Jersey him he might make the NBA when he still viewed himself as a Steve Nash wannabe. Initially, Hayward was dismissive, arguing with his father that Butler was in Division II. If that’s my only choice, he said, I’d rather go to Purdue and just be a student. But Stevens hung around, watching Hayward in showcases from three courts away so rivals wouldn’t notice whom he was tailing.
It’s not playcalling. It’s not playcalling, Baldwin said. We go into a game knowing what the defense is going to give us, the situations that we’re going to be in. We don’t execute as a team. Offensively, that’s what we’ve seen time and time again is that we do not execute the way that we should. And that’s on us as players. You guys can blame Bev all you want to, but the truth of the matter is that Bev’s not the problem.
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Bevell, 48, joined the Seahwaks in 2011 after spending the previous five seasons serving as Vikings offensive coordinator. His popularity among Seattle fans began to decline when the Seahawks fell to the Patriots in Super Bowl 49 due to an interception at the 1-yard line after the team made the controversial decision not to run the ball.
He could have scrolled through the million well-wishes on his timeline锟斤拷literally, a million锟斤拷but he is uncomfortable accepting attention for an injury. I want it to be for a game-winner, he laments. He could have read the dozens of self-help books he has received about overcoming adversity (Grit, by Angela Duckworth, is one he started), but the words don’t soothe him. They just get me thinking more about my ankle. He could have watched the Celtics锟斤拷their latest triumph reairing on NBC Sports Boston锟斤拷but then he’d stew until sunrise.
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