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13.09.2018 06:53
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The Buffalo Bills fired offensive coordinator Rick Dennison after the team finished 29th in offense this season.

The team announced the move on Friday. Their running attack fell to sixth after leading the league the past two seasons.

Buffalo’s offense topped 300 yards just nine times in 17 games and scored only eight touchdowns in its final seven games. Dennison’s play-calling was questioned after Buffalo scored just three points against Jacksonville in the franchise’s first playoff game in 18 years.

Dennison wasn’t coach Sean McDermott’s first choice for the job last offseason – that was former San Diego Chargers coach Mike McCoy. But McCoy took the Green Bay Packers’ offensive coordinator job and was fired midseason.

McCoy is expected to be a candidate to join McDermott’s staff in Buffalo.

Other possible candidates include former Seattles Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell Derek Watt Jersey , former New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo, former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Rob Cudzinski. Mike Shula, the former offensive coordinator in Carolina, previously worked with McDermott and Bills general manager Brandon Beane.

McDermott was non-committal when discussing potential coaching staff changes during the season-ending news conference on Tuesday. The coach said any decisions would be his, but Beane would be involved with coordinating possible coaching changes with roster moves this offseason.

”We’re building this thing together,” McDermott said then. ”We are aligned philosophically on how we believe it should look and how we believe the building process should basically take shape.”

Dennison was criticized for giving quarterback Tyrod Taylor the option to pass on first-and-goal from the 1 instead of handing the ball off to star running back LeSean McCoy in the wild-card game against Jacksonville.

The play resulted in an offensive pass interference penalty on wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and the Bills settled for a field goal in the 10-3 loss.

”There’s some calls we want back. That’s probably one of them,” McDermott said after the game.

Before coming to Buffalo, Dennison was Denver Broncos offensive coordinator for two seasons. He was replaced in Denver by McCoy after coach Gary Kubiak retired.

Dennison was Kubiak’s offensive coordinator in Houston from 2010-13 and had a previous stint as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator from 2006-08.

The decision to part ways with Dennison also raised questions about the future of Taylor, who has one year left on his contract. Taylor’s production declined in his third year as a starter and he was benched in favor of rookie Nathan Peterman for a game at the Los Angeles Chargers in November.

The quarterback change backfired after Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half of a 54-24 loss.

ST. PETERSBURG Marcus Gilchrist Jersey , Fla. — Can the Tampa Bay Rays, the hottest team in baseball, finally get back to .500 for the season?

All that is stopping them Thursday are the American League West-leading and defending World Series champion Houston Astros, who come to Tropicana Field for a four-game series.

Tampa Bay (39-40) hasn’t just won five straight — its pitching owns a scoreless streak of 22 innings since Giancarlo Stanton homered off Vidal Nuno in Sunday’s game against the New York Yankees.

The Rays are on their fourth winning streak of at least five games this season and can reach .500 for the third time this season and first instance since they were 26-26 following a 1-0 win at Oakland on May 28.

And as well as the Rays are playing, holding opponents to one run or less eight times in their last 14 games, the Astros (54-28) are still 17-3 in their last 20 games. One of those losses, ending a 12-game win streak last week, was a 2-1 setback against these same Rays.

Tampa Bay began its relievers-as-starters experiment on May 19 and manager Kevin Cash calls them “openers.” Since then, the Rays have the lowest ERA in baseball at 2.87 Chad Henne Jersey , edging the Yankees (2.96).

“The pitching’s been outstanding, keeping us in every single ballgame,” Cash told reporters. “It’s kind of how we’re built. We’ve got to take advantage of it when we get it. And we’re getting it here of late.”

A big part of Tampa Bay’s effectiveness is reliever-turned-opener Ryne Stanek (1-1, 1.99) who gets the ball first for the Rays on Thursday.

Stanek has been dominant in his unique role in June — 10 games, 13 innings, only four hits and no earned runs. He faced the Astros on back-to-back days last week, oddly enough as a starter and reliever, throwing a combined 2 2/3 innings of hitless, shutout baseball.

The Astros head to Tampa Bay after taking two of three from the Toronto Blue Jays. Houston closed out the series Wednesday afternoon when Alex Bregman hit a two-run homer in the ninth for a 7-6 win.

Bregman went 3-for-5 and was 9-for-14 with three homers against the Blue Jays.

“Bregman’s pretty locked in the last couple of days Marquez Valdes-Scantling Jersey ,” Houston left-hander Dallas Keuchel told reporters. “That’s what he provides for our team, moments in the clutch.”

It will be a homecoming for Astros starter Lance McCullers (8-3, 3.82), who was born in Tampa and graduated from Tampa’s Jesuit High School. Still just 24, McCullers has already set a career high for wins and hasn’t taken a loss in his last five starts. Houston is 11-5 in his starts this season.

McCullers has pitched at Tropicana twice before, once each in 2015 and 2016, and each time, he’s allowed four earned runs in six innings for an 0-2 record and a 6.00 ERA in his career against the Rays.

The relievers-as-starters strategy is just part of Cash’s unconventional approach.

In Tuesday’s 1-0 win against the Nationals, Cash played a pitcher at first base for one out Patrick Onwuasor Jersey , shifting reliever Jose Alvarado to first to avoid having to make a situational pitching change. Chaz Roe got the out with Alvarado manning first (with a runner to hold no less), and while Alvarado gave up two hits in his return to the mound, Sergio Romo got the final outs and the Rays outdueled Max Scherzer for a memorable win.

This four-game series wraps up a daunting 16-game run for the Rays in which they had seven games each against the Astros and Yankees (and two against the Nationals). And yet, somehow, they’re 7-5 in those games with four remaining.

From there, the schedule eases up, as Tampa Bay goes on the road to face the Miami Marlins and the New York Mets. The Astros have two games at the Texas Rangers, but then close the first half of the season with 11 straight games at home before the All-Star break.
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