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Those of you who read these nerdy film study columns regularly know that I’m infatuated with Washington’s offense. It’s a mix of the Patriots’ and Saints’ systems, with a great emphasis on presnap motion and shifting (Patriots) and route combinations that either attack the middle of the field or one side of the field with three receivers (Saints). No offense does a better job of creating favorable angles and matchups for its targets just by where they line up. A big component of this is Washington’s play-action game. In fact, even though this is, at best, a good-but-not great running team, play-action is Washington’s backbone. (One of the biggest myths in football is that you need a high-quality ground attack in order to have a dangerous play-action game. In reality, you just need a rushing attack where blockers and runners exercise cohesive, repetitive mechanics off the snap.) Realizing that no offense has been more expansive …

2:19 AM ET Facebook Twitter Pinterest Email print comment MINNEAPOLIS — On a night when the Minnesota Vikings were once again frustrated with officials, the team’s final offensive play proved to be a flash point. Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Cedric Thornton hit Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford in the helmet as Bradford threw incomplete on a two-point conversion that could have tied the game, but officials did not call a penalty. After the Vikings’ 17-15 loss, when Bradford was asked what explanation officials had given him for the non-call, the quarterback said, “He told me that I did not get hit in the face mask.” Bradford punctuated his response with a quizzical shrug, but defensive end Brian Robison was more animated. “At the end of the day, that’s a game-changing play and you’ve got to make those calls,” Robison said. “At the end of the game, Bradford gets hit in the face. That’s an opportunity for …

The San Diego Chargers are set to exercise their relocation option and move to Los Angeles in 2017, ESPN reports. In January, when the NFL approved of the Rams’ move from St. Louis to L.A., the Chargers were given a deadline of Jan. 15, 2017 to make a decision on their own option. Chargers chairman Dean Spanos has yet to officially notify the league, and has said he will wait until after the season, but according to ESPN, the move is looking like a done deal, “barring a miracle.” The Chargers would share the Rams’ new stadium when it is complete and share multiple facets of stadium revenue, but conduct ticket sales separately. The team has struggled to receive approval to build a new stadium in San Diego, and would not have to borrow money to lease the stadium from Rams owner Stan Kroenke. The franchise, however, will have to pay $650 million in relocation fees, …

Prospect of the Week: Sam Ehlinger Scout Top 100 quarterback Sam Ehlinger is the prospect of the week after leading Austin (Texas) Westlake past Laredo (Texas) United 55–15 in the third round of the Texas High School Football playoffs. Ehlinger passed for 203 yards and two touchdowns in the first half of the win. It was his second game back after missing most of his senior year due to a thumb injury. The 6’2”, 215-pound four-star met with new Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman on Tuesday and solidified his commitment to play in the Big 12, where he has been committed since July 2015.  Prospect on the Rise: Abram Smith Tulsa got an absolute steal in the three-star running back from Abilene (Texas) but will have to fight to keep him on the committed list as he recently added an offer from Texas Tech in the Big 12 Conference. He is a back who has tremendous patience and …

One quarterback is in the top five in the NFL in pass attempts, yards and yards per attempt. From a fantasy perspective, these are probably the three most important statistics. Yes, of course, you want your quarterback to throw for a lot of touchdowns, but chances are good that if he’s attempting a lot of passes and racking up yards, both in absolute and relative terms, the touchdowns will follow. The attempts-yards-YPA trinity is as sure a foundation for fantasy production as a quarterback can have. Back to this column’s opening sentence: Do you know who is the only quarterback in the top five of all three stats this season? Drew Brees? Good guess, but that’s wrong. Brees leads the league in attempts and yards, but his 7.87 YPA ranks sixth. Sure, the top five is an arbitrary endpoint, and Brees more than makes up for his comparatively low YPA with attempts and yards, but …

5:02 AM ET Facebook Twitter Pinterest Email print comment It took nearly around-the-clock bargaining over the past two days and nights, but Major League Baseball and its players’ union have kept their 21-year streak of labor peace intact for another five years. Shortly before 9 p.m. ET Wednesday, the two sides reached agreement on a five-year collective bargaining agreement that will run through the 2021 season. The deal was agreed to just over three hours before the previous CBA would have expired at 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday. The new agreement averts a potential lockout of the players that would have frozen baseball’s hot stove and pulled the plug on the major league portion of next week’s winter meetings. Report: CBA ending All-Star link to World Series The league that wins the All-Star Game no longer will get home-field advantage in the World Series, which instead will go to the pennant winner with the better regular-season …

2:47 AM ET Facebook Twitter Pinterest Email print comment As I usually do a couple of times a year, I spent the day at the ESPN offices in Bristol, Connecticut, on Wednesday. Throughout the day I ran into old friends, chatted with a variety of folks at the company, had some meetings. Pretty much wherever I went they had one question for the boxing guy and it wasn’t about Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin or who I thought won the Sergey Kovalev-Andre Ward fight (for the record, Kovalev, 115-112). Five Rounds: Could a Mayweather-McGregor fight actually happen? With rumors of a fight between boxing’s Floyd Mayweather and UFC champ Conor McGregor swirling, Dan Rafael and Brett Okamoto join forces to discuss who would win, how much it would cost and more. McGregor vacates featherweight title, UFC says The UFC says Conor McGregor has vacated his featherweight title in favor of keeping his 155-pound belt, meaning Jose Aldo …

Watching Kirk Cousins’ productive play and “How do you like me now?!” comment to his general manager over recent weeks resonated with my background as a former agent and team contract negotiator. It brings back memories, not all of them good, of dealing with players in their contract years and the weekly rollercoaster of emotions and leverage coming from their performances. Interactions between team management and players in contract years (and negotiations) happen often, more than people know, and in more private settings than the encounter caught on tape between Cousins and Washington general manager Scott McLoughan. As I learned from dozens of such experiences, it was important to 1) not react emotionally about what just happened (or didn’t happen) and 2) not say anything that you may later regret, acting as professionally and tactfully as possible with an eye toward the long view. It is human nature to selectively take away pieces of conversations, …

11:10 PM ET Facebook Twitter Pinterest Email print comment MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was to have emergency eye surgery Wednesday night, and his availability to coach Thursday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys is uncertain, the team announced. General manager Rick Spielman said in a prepared statement that the Vikings have a contingency plan if Zimmer is not able to coach the game. Spielman is expected to speak to reporters Thursday morning. Zimmer had surgery to repair a torn retina on his right eye Nov. 1, after he had scratched his eye during the Vikings’ loss to the Chicago Bears on Oct. 31. Doctors had initially told Zimmer he ran the risk of going blind in the eye if he did not have the first surgery. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has had two previous procedures on his right eye this month. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images Zimmer was back at work later that day but had …

NBA Roundup Is Sam Hinkie making more headlines after his tenure as Sixers’ GM than during it? The latest comes from The Crossover, which learned Hinkie listens to audiobooks at 3x speed. Elsewhere, Iman Shumpert said he’s not visiting Trump in the White House if the Cavs win another title, the Grizzlies are in a brutal spot without Mike Conley and Shaq’s son Shareef is a specimen. Also, J.R. Smith gave an explanation for allowing the easiest two points in NBA history, and ICYMI, Doc Rivers lost his mind Tuesday night. Kiss of Life During Wednesday’s FFA Cup final between Melbourne City and Sydney FC, Danny Vukovic did his good deed for the day. The Sydney goalkeeper paused the game to help an injured seagull off the field, during which the announcer proclaimed, “Give him the kiss of life, Danny!” Bo’s Birthday Bo Jackson’s birthday should be a national holiday. The ultimate jack-of-all-trades turned 54 …

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