Sunday, December 29, 2013

Redskins Have Clinched Last Place in the NFC East

"The Redskins will be searching for their eighth head coach (counting Terry Robiskie, an interim coach for three games in the 2000 season) since Dan Snyder purchased the franchise in 1999 from Jack Kent Cooke’s estate. Snyder’s coaches have included Norv Turner, Robiskie, Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier, Joe Gibbs, Jim Zorn and Mike Shanahan. Shanahan, a former two-time Super Bowl winner with the Denver Broncos, has had only one winning season in Washington, coaching the Redskins to a 10-6 record and the NFC East title last season."
Washington Post:
The Washington Redskins have been one of the NFL’s most disappointing teams this season and that was reflected in the Pro Bowl selections announced by the league Friday night. Left tackle Trent Williams was the lone Redskins player chosen.

Wide receiver Pierre Garcon, tailback Alfred Morris, linebacker Brian Orakpo and cornerback DeAngelo Hall were named alternates, the Redskins announced. They could be added to the Pro Bowl teams if other players withdraw.

The game is scheduled for Jan. 26 in Honolulu.

Williams returns to the Pro Bowl after he was selected to the NFC team last season but did not participate in the game after being hurt in a nightclub incident. Under this year’s new Pro Bowl format, players were not chosen with NFC and AFC affiliations. The selections were made on a league-wide basis and the players who were chosen will be drafted onto two teams later.

“It’s a blessing,” Williams said in a written statement released by the team. “I’m definitely excited about it… It means a lot. It lets me know my efforts didn’t go unseen. I know my teammates see it and my teammates feed off of it, but I’m definitely proud to see that my peers around the NFL recognized that also.”

Williams said earlier Friday he wasn’t sure if he’d be picked.

“I don’t know…. Given the season we had, [it’d be] hard to be disappointed” by being passed over, Williams said Friday afternoon at Redskins Park. “To be looked at as tops at your position, you’ve got to at least win. We haven’t won. So if you’ve got to put in overall team play into the decision process and the voting, nah, I wouldn’t be disappointed. But we’ll see. It’s gonna be interesting.”

The Redskins have a record of 3-12 entering Sunday’s season finale on the road against the New York Giants. They’re on a seven-game losing streak and they’ve clinched last place in the NFC East.

Even so, Garcon being passed over was a bit of a surprise. He leads the league with his 107 catches. He broke the team record for catches in a season, formerly held by Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Monk, last weekend. Garcon said earlier Friday he wasn’t fretting about the Pro Bowl selections.

“Nah, I’m gonna be the same old guy,” he said. “It doesn’t matter.”

But Garcon also suggested he believed he was having a Pro Bowl season.

“Shoot, when you lead the league in catches, I guess, you know—when you lead the league in anything, I guess that’s the top of the league,” Garcon said. “So I guess that kind of helps. But it’s not really—it’s all about team record, votes and, you know, whoever votes for you. But the Pro Bowl doesn’t matter that much. Wins and playoff wins and what you do in the playoffs really matters more.”

Morris, who ranks fifth in the league in rushing, said earlier Friday: “I don’t care about that. I didn’t make it last year. If I make it this year, [it’s] nice. If I don’t, I’m not gonna care…. I don’t know. I just want to win, man.”

Orakpo has 10 sacks. Hall has four interceptions and has scored three touchdowns.

Washington Post:
Of the 53 players on Washington’s roster, 17 have expiring contracts. Four more players who are on the team’s injured reserve list also will hit free agency. Even more will get cut for cost-saving or performance reasons.

It’s possible that fewer than half of this year’s players will wear burgundy and gold next year.

The defense will be hit the hardest. Seven of the 11 defensive starters are impending free agents, including longtime Redskins like Orakpo, London Fletcher (who has said he expects to retire), Reed Doughty and DeAngelo Hall. The only current starters under contract for next year are outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, defensive end Jarvis Jenkins, nose tackle Barry Cofield and free safety Brandon Meriweather. (Stephen Bowen is a starter at right end but has been lost for the season to a knee injury. His replacement, Chris Baker, will be a free agent).

Linebacker Rob Jackson and cornerback E.J. Biggers, who are frequent contributors off the bench, also have expiring deals. Some of the defensive players could return, but others likely will not, as all of the players are well aware.

On offense, wide receiver Joshua Morgan is the only starter who will be a free agent next season, but longtime fan favorites like Santana Moss and Fred Davis also will hit free agency. Meanwhile, an offensive line that has struggled with consistency is expected to experience a degree of change as well, although all five starters remain under contract.

Controversy has encompassed this team for the past month, and questions regarding Shanahan’s future have swirled for the past three weeks. Meanwhile, the losses have continued to mount, making changes inevitable.

The Redskins’ roster might have taken on a different look next season regardless of whether this season had featured success or failure. Management had made an effort to keep the roster largely intact the past two offseasons despite the $36 million salary cap penalty that restricted the number of new players they could have brought in.

This year, those penalties are no more, and the Redskins could have more than $20 million to spend in free agency this spring. But because of all the expiring deals and the poor performances during this 3-12 campaign, team officials still may have to take a frugal approach to cover all of the team’s needs.

More information:
» Washington Post: Mike Shanahan hasn’t solved Washington Redskins’ problems

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Carol of the Bells/Bangarang Christmas Light Show

Disclosure Collaborates with Nile Rodgers on "Together"

This is the lyric video for "Together", a collaboration between Sam Smith, Nile Rodgers, Disclosure and producer Jimmy Napes.

Disclosure are an English electronic music duo, consisting of brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence. The siblings grew up in Reigate, Surrey. Their debut album Settle was released on June 3, 2013. Settle debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart, selling 44,633 copies in its first week. The album received widespread critical praise and was nominated for the 2013 Mercury Prize for best album and for Best Dance Album at the 2014 Grammy Awards.

Settle: The Remixes is the debut remix album by Disclosure. It was released on December 17, 2013 in the United States. The album features predominantly remixes of tracks from Settle as well as the Sam Smith, Nile Rodgers and Jimmy Napes collaboration "Together", released on November 25, 2013 as a single.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Run The Jewels - "A Christmas Fucking Miracle"

Run the Jewels is an American hip hop duo, formed by rappers El-P and Killer Mike in 2013. That same year, they released their self-titled first album titled Run the Jewels, as a free digital download.

A deluxe edition of the album, which features remixes from Dave Sitek and DJ Qbert, is available for preorder. “A Christmas Fucking Miracle” was directed by Joey Garfield.

P.S. Mac Miller doe?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

Jameis Winston Named 2013 Heisman Trophy Winner

Sports Illustrated:
Jameis Winston flashed a wide smile as he took the stage at the 2013 Heisman Trophy ceremony at the Best Buy Theater in New York. For now, this was Winston’s moment. Yet with the sport’s most prestigious award in hand, Winston, for once, couldn’t find words. “I was speechless,” the Seminoles’ redshirt freshman quarterback said. “I had to shake everyone’s hand twice. I didn’t know what to do.”

That was unusual for a quarterback whose poise largely defined his remarkable campaign as a first-year starter, one who displayed the leadership of a senior rather than the mistakes of a freshman. But perhaps that’s becoming more common in college football these days. The redshirt freshman Winston became the second straight freshman to claim the Heisman Trophy, only one year after Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel won the award in 2012. Winston claimed a whopping 668 first-place votes, ninth all-time, and 2,205 total points. He bested runner-up AJ McCarron of Alabama by 1,501 points. That margin was the seventh-largest in Heisman history, leaving little doubt who the country considered the best player in college football.

The victory by the 19-year-old Winston, the Heisman’s youngest winner ever, is perhaps the latest example of a gradual change taking place across the sport’s landscape. One season ago, Manziel’s victory was considered a barrier-breaking moment in Heisman history. He was the first freshman to claim the award, but there was no telling how much of an impact that broken barrier would have on college football. Yet that effect feels palpable only one year later thanks to Winston.

“There’s no age limit on being a great player,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. “We’ve broken down those barriers. If they’re the best players, we’re now accepting them into our society … Like we say, a play doesn’t care who makes it. There’s no age limit on being a great player.”

Winston, a redshirt freshman, ripped through his competition all season long as a first-year stater, but he did so as the headliner of the country’s eventual No. 1 team. He set national freshman records with 3,820 passing yards and 38 touchdowns, and he finished the year as the country’s leader in passing efficiency (190.1). In October he tossed for 444 passing yards and accounted for four scores in a 51-14 rout of Clemson in Death Valley, perhaps the biggest road win of the year in college football. Moreover, his Seminoles reached the BCS title game opposite Auburn. This all occurred with Winston replacing a first-round NFL draft pick at quarterback in E.J. Manuel. So much for a learning curve, right?

The ACC:
Winston becomes the fourth Seminole to be named the ACC Rookie of the Year after finishing the regular season ranked first nationally in passing efficiency (190.1) while leading the ACC in passing yardage (3,820) and touchdown passes (38). The first Florida State player to be named ACC Rookie of the Year since Chris Rix in 2001, Winston has fueled an offense that ranks second nationally in scoring (53.7 point per game) and seventh in total offense (526.1 yards per game).

Winston’s 3,820 passing yards are an ACC rookie record, and his 38 touchdown passes beat the conference single-season mark by two. He threw for 1,162 yards and nine touchdowns in three wins over ranked opponents, and was named the ACC Rookie of the Week seven times and the ACC Offensive Back of the Week on three occasions.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Noah Gundersen - "Ledges" (2013)

Singer-songwriter Noah Gundersen has been recording for over a decade, which is kind of a misleading first sentence considering he’s just 24. Since first recording tunes straight to tape at age 13, he’s come a long way: Gundersen’s latest collection of songs, the full-length Ledges, has been announced for release early next year.

“This is the first record where I finally got to a comfortable place in the studio,” said Gundersen. “It’s not overly produced. We left a lot of the mistakes in.”

Ledges was recorded in Seattle, Wash. in the studio of Pearl Jam guitarist’s Stone Gossard and was produced by Gundersen himself.

“Writing ‘Ledges’ was a purifying process for me,” he said of the song. “In three verses, I was able to sum up exactly where I was in life, with no real answer, but a declaration of hope and uncertainty.”

Ledges is set for release on Feb. 11.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snoop & Dâm-Funk Release Self-Titled 7 Days of Funk

After an initial meeting, Calvin "Snoop Dogg" Broadus and Damon "Dâm-Funk" Riddick first paired in 2011, when the rapper-singer invited the funk vocalist onstage for a performance at SXSW. In an October 2013 interview with Rolling Stone, Snoop commented on their collaboration, saying: "We're the babies of the Mothership. I've had funk influences in my music my whole career. Dâm-Funk is cold. He's keeping the funk alive and I knew I had to get down with him."

Dâm-Funk echoed Snoop's sentiments as he elaborated: "These beats were made for him and he laid down some of the smoothest harmonies and melodies I've ever heard. It's hip-hop, but you can also hear what we grew up on, from Zapp to Evelyn "Champagne" King and Patrice Rushen."

Snoop also spoke about re-branding himself as Snoopzilla for this project, which pays homage to Funkadelic maestro Bootsy Collins who sometimes used the moniker Bootzilla, saying: "When I'm recording as Snoopzilla, I'm basically an offspring of Bootsy [Collins]. We're keeping that spirit alive with that tone, that delivery, that R&B/funk singing, like Rick James and Steve Arrington.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

U.S. Drawn Into Toughest Group of 2014 World Cup

"Really, it couldn’t have been more difficult. The Americans open the tournament against Ghana, who eliminated the U.S. in the last two World Cups, and then face two of Europe’s best teams in Portugal (in the Amazon rainforest) and Germany (who the U.S. lost to in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups)."
USA Today:
The United States will play Ghana, Portugal and Germany in a tough first-round group at next year's World Cup that will take the Americans on a lengthy 9,000-mile trip around Brazil.

Making their seventh straight appearance at soccer's showcase, the Americans were drawn Friday into Group G and will open on June 16 in Natal against Ghana, which eliminated the Americans at the 2006 and 2010 tournaments.

The U.S. meets Portugal and 2008 FIFA Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo six days later in the Amazon rain forest city Manaus. The Americans have just three off days to recover before closing group play on June 26 in Recife against Germany.

Germany were ranked No. 2 in the world in FIFA's most recent rankings in November, while Portugal came in at No. 5. The U.S. are ranked No. 14, and Ghana sit at No. 24. If the U.S. reaches the round of 16, it would face Belgium, Russia, Algeria or South Korea from Group H.

“Obviously it’s one of the most difficult groups in the whole draw," U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann told ESPN. "Having Portugal with Cristiano Ronaldo and then Ghana, who has a history with the U.S., it couldn’t get any more difficult or any bigger. But that’s what a World Cup is about. It’s a real challenge, and we’ll take it.”

The Americans will train in the U.S. from mid-May on and plan a series of exhibition games, which likely will include England as an opponent, before heading to Brazil.

After having the shortest group-play travel in South Africa, the U.S. will have the longest in Brazil. The Americans will be based in Sao Paulo and face trips of 1,436 miles to Natal, 1,832 miles to Manaus and 1,321 miles to Recife.

The draw was a surprisingly familiar one for the Americans, who will take on Ghana for the third consecutive World Cup. The Black Stars defeated and eliminated the U.S. during the group stage in 2006 in Germany and then posted a 2-1 win over the Americans in the Round of 16 in 2010 in South Africa.

"I think the memory will still be very fresh of the loss in the Round of 16 in 2010," U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard told"I think that will help us more than it will them. We're a much stronger team than we were, and they'll know that going into the game. We'll look to set that result right."

The U.S. has a World Cup past with Portugal as well, going back to 2002 when the U.S. got out to a 3-0 lead before a final 3-2 victory over the heavily favored Portuguese side in group play.

But the U.S. squad is its weakest at outside back, and U.S. fans cannot be savoring the prospect of Brad Evans or DaMarcus Beasley having to match up one-on-one against Ronaldo on the wing.

The other nightmare scenario of the game against the Portuguese is that it is in Manaus, far from the rest of the World Cup venues and in the middle of the Amazon jungle.

Germany enter as bona fide contenders to win their first World Cup since they won as West Germany in 1990, with Klinsmann scoring three goals in the tournament. They lost the final to Brazil in 2002, then reached the semifinals in 2006 and 2010.

They are led by Klinsmann's former Die Mannschaft assistant and protégé Joachim Low, who many argue was the real genius behind Germany’s third-place finish at the 2006 World Cup under Klinsmann.

In the 2002 World Cup, the U.S. made its most successful run since 1930, making it to the quarterfinals before bowing out to the Germans. In that quarterfinal matchup, the U.S. dominated long stretches of play and even outshot the Germans 11-6. However, a string of saves by German keeper Oliver Kahn and a handball by German defender Torsten Frings on the goalline kept the U.S. out of the net and the Germans won the match 1-0.

This summer, the U.S. and the Germany played again, with the U.S. coming out on top 4-3. The win started a 12-game winning streak for the U.S. that culminated with a Gold Cup championship and a win over Bosnia-Herzegovina in Europe.

ESPN put the U.S.’ chance of advancement out of the group at 39.3%, which might seem exceedingly optimistic considering the challenges the U.S. will face. However, the U.S. has proven repeatedly in the recent past that it tends to take an odd enjoyment out of the challenge of playing world powerhouses, especially in the World Cup.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Toro Y Moi

Chaz Bundick is a man of many talents. When he isn't fronting his Toro y Moi project, the California transplant stays busy recording as Les Sins, drops tracks under his other other alias, Sides of Chaz (see "Sweet Tea," out December 10), does interviews with SPIN, remixes Billie Holiday, and sometimes covers songs written for the British version of The Office. But Bundick returned to his main gig on December 3 for a two-for-one performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! The chillwave auteur dusted off two standouts from his latest Toro y Moi full-length, January's Anything in Return: the jazz-infused "Say That" and low-light seducer "Rose Quartz."

The track hails from Verve Remixed: The First Ladies, released July 2013. Among the contributors: Kaskade, Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, Tokimonsta, RAC, Maya Jane Coles, and Pontus Winnberg (a.k.a. Avant) of Miike Snow. Among the artists reimagined: Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Astrud Gilberto, and Sarah Vaughn.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013

(W) Virginia Tech at UVA

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Trey Edmunds took a short pass 26 yards for a first-half touchdown and Eric Kristensen kicked three field goals as Virginia Tech beat Virginia for the 10th consecutive time and the 14th time in 15 games, 16-6, on Saturday night.

The bright spot for most of the day was Edmunds, who “was having his best game since he came to Virginia Tech,” according to Beamer. He finished with 93 rushing yards. Demitri Knowles made four catches for 101 yards.

But Edmunds went down on the first play of the fourth quarter with a right leg injury and limped off the field. Virginia Tech revealed after the game that the redshirt freshman suffered a broken tibia and will be out at least four to five months. Suffice it to say, he won’t play in the Hokies’ bowl game.

Virginia Tech gained 364 total yards Saturday against Virginia, but the Hokies were forced to settle for field goals despite moving the ball inside the Cavaliers’ 25-yard line on three of their first possessions. Virginia Tech was then held without a point in the second half, and went 4 of 14 on third-down conversions.

The Cavaliers (2-10, 0-8 ACC) lost for the 18th time in their last 22 games overall dating to last season, and used the same recipe that has plagued them throughout. Virginia’s defense, which sacked Logan Thomas five times — defensive end Eli Harold had three by himself — created 21 turnovers this year. The Cavaliers scored just 13 points off of them.

Washington Post:
Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer claimed he wasn’t aware the Hokies (8-4, 5-3) wouldn’t be going to the ACC championship game until he walked into the visiting locker room at Scott Stadium and asked someone about the result of Saturday’s Duke-North Carolina game.

But most of his players knew the Blue Devils had escaped with a 27-25 victory — and won the ACC’s Coastal Division — about 20 minutes before kickoff against Virginia. It means Virginia Tech’s next game will be its bowl game, although exactly where the Hokies are headed remains to be seen.

Depending on whether No. 2 Florida State plays in the Bowl Championship Series title game and if Clemson earns an at-large berth to a BCS Bowl, the Hokies could very well be in contention for five bowl games: The Chick-fil-A Bowl (Atlanta), the Russell Athletic Bowl (Orlando), the Sun Bowl (El Paso), the Belk Bowl (Charlotte) and the Music City Bowl (Nashville).

Things to consider in the coming days: If Clemson doesn’t earn a BCS bid, would the Chick-fil-A Bowl want the Tigers in Atlanta a second year in a row? Would the Russell Athletic Bowl bring the Hokies back to Orlando? How intriguing are Miami and Duke, teams that have nice back stories but questionable fan support, to prospective bowl games?

If this beat writer had to guess, though, there’s a decent chance Virginia Tech returns to the Sun Bowl for the first time since 1947.

More information:
» Virginia vs. Virginia Tech: Top 10 Moments in the History of the Rivalry