West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith shined by completing 60-of-64 throws at his pro day in front of NFL scouts Thursday in Morgantown, West Virginia.Smith, who is considered to be one the best quarterback prospects in the 2013 draft, got off to slow start. He threw a 40-yard pass that had a lot of air under the ball and as the receiver turned to catch the ball, it got entrapped by a net hanging from the ceiling.“That net’s the best defender in the building,” Smith said jokingly after the workout to reporters.Smith, who threw for 4,205 yards and led the nation with 42 touchdown passes in 2012, also had two passes dropped and he overthrew two receivers, but managed to stay composed and have an impressive performance for the rest of the pro day.“Overall, I’ve had a fun time with this,” Smith said. “I guess we’ll see on draft day where that goes.”Smith just participated in last month’s NFL scouting combine, where he was limited to about 10-to-15 throws. One dimension that Smith displayed to scouts on Thursday was the ability to take snaps under center since he primarily worked out of a shotgun formation during his collegiate career with the Mountaineers. This allowed him to show his footwork, move around the pocket and throw to all areas of the field.“It was a lot easier than the combine,” Smith said. “For one, I wasn’t up for three days straight before doing this. I was able to get some rest just being back in Morgantown, which is my comfortable environment, and feeling good.”Smith has former Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke to thank for putting together a powerful workout that highlighted his skill set. Weinke is now the director of the IMG Football Academy in Bradenton, Fla.There were 29 NFL teams in attendance to take a look at Smith, but they also got a chance to look at wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Austin and Smith did not participate in the agility drills that were organized at the pro day.The 5-foot-8 Smith ran 4.34 seconds in the 40-yard dash at last month’s NFL scouting combine, which was tied for the second-fastest time. He set the West Virginia school record with 2,910 all-purpose yards and ranked second nationally. Bailey led the nation with 25 TD receptions and was third with 1,622 receiving yards.But Austin’s main goal was to show scouts that his size will not be a detriment in the NFL. Austin and Bailey will have a private workout with the Panthers on Friday.After working out, Smith met with representatives from the Jacksonville Jaguars and said that he plans to visit at least another dozen NFL teams before the draft in April. He has a March 22 meeting with the Buffalo Bills and held a private workout with the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this week.“I do believe I have a good skill set,” Smith said. “The main thing they want to see is how I react in the classroom.”It remains uncertain where Smith will land, but many analysts for now predict him as the only lottery quarterback, which could change within the next month.
Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (23) drives between Cleveland Cavaliers’ Jordan Clarkson, left, and Kyle Korver (26) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in Cleveland. The Lakers won 109-105. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)CLEVELAND (AP) — Once the video tribute ended, a simple sentiment filled the giant scoreboard. Against a black backdrop, giant white letters delivered the heartfelt message.Cleveland wanted to say something.“THANK YOU, LeBRON,” it said.Eight years after he was treated like a thug, LeBron James was welcomed back properly.Back on the court where he performed for 11 seasons, and under the title banner he helped raise, James returned to Cleveland and rallied the Los Angeles Lakers to a 109-105 win on Wednesday night over the Cavaliers, who played their best game of the season against their former teammate but couldn’t stop him when it mattered most.James finished with 32 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. He also scored or assisted on 11 straight points as the Lakers overcame a 99-91 deficit in the fourth quarter.But basketball took a backseat to James’ homecoming, which was so different than his return in 2010, when betrayed Cleveland fans unleashed their fury on him.There were no profane chants this time. No derogatory signs. No venom.Only love, and James felt it.“From the time we landed yesterday, it just felt a different way,” he said. “I’m a different person. We’re all different from eight years ago, both good and bad. But more importantly, this experience has been great. So it’s all about growth and we all have grown from that moment eight years ago. So I kind of leave the past in the past and always focus on the present and see what happens in the future.”The Cavs, who came in a league-worst 2-13, gave James and the Lakers all they could handle. And even after giving up an eight-point lead, they had a chance to tie late, but Kyle Korver missed a wide-open 3-pointer with 17 seconds left and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made four free throws in the final 15 to seal it for Los Angeles.Jordan Clarkson had 20 points and Tristan Thompson 14 and 15 rebounds for Cleveland.From the moment he stepped back onto Quicken Loans Arena floor, James was treated like a returning champion.On the night before Thanksgiving, Cleveland said thanks to the Northeast Ohio son, the one who ended the city’s 52-year championship drought.“A hero has come back,” Cavs coach Larry Drew said before tip-off.James was the last Lakers player introduced before the game, presented with a line familiar to all Cavs fans: “A 6-foot-8 forward from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School,” said arena announcer Sean Peebles. “Welcome home! LeBron James.”The crowd roared and stood as James walked out and huddled with his new teammates, who must have wondered what was in store for them.But unlike that ugly night of Dec. 2, 2010, when James returned with the Miami Heat and was subjected to a toxic, charged atmosphere of hatred unlike anything seen before or since, this was a night for celebration — and maybe more closure.James has moved on.Cleveland, too.With 8:09 left in the first quarter, James was saluted by the Cavs with a moving video tribute during a timeout. Images of James’ playing days with Cleveland — highlighted by the Cavs’ historic comeback to win the 2016 title — were shown along with video clips of his impact on the community, including his opening of the I Promise School in his hometown of Akron.James was touched by the presentation. He bit his lower lip while walking back onto court and pointed to all corners of the building in appreciation, his chance to reconnect with a fan base he’ll always share a special, if not complicated, relationship.“I appreciate these fans, just as much as they appreciate me,” he said. “Every single night we stepped on the floor, they always showed their appreciation to not only myself but to my teammates over these 11 years, especially the last four years —those championship runs that we were making. So that was just my salute to them for them appreciating what I was able to accomplish with my teammates and coaches along those four years.”TIP-INSLakers: Coach Luke Walton is impressed with James’ knack for blocking out external distractions. “The great ones have that ability,” he said. “When they’re on the basketball court nothing else matters, other than what they’re trying to do. Their focus level seems to somehow get higher with the louder the noise gets. I don’t know how. I don’t know why.”Cavaliers: Did not commit a turnover in the first half. … Starting G George Hill missed his sixth straight game with a sprained right shoulder sustained on Nov. 4. Hill has ramped up his on-court workouts in recent days and could be back soon. … Drew said he was unaware of Smith’s comments accusing the Cavs of “tanking.” Drew believes his team is playing hard, and promised to nothing but coach his team to win. “To coach to lose, I don’t understand that, I don’t know how to do that,” he said. “I don’t know how anybody can do that. That’s something I would never, ever do.”SCHOOL DAYEarlier in the day, James made a surprise visit to his I Promise School, a refurbished elementary for at-risk kids he founded and plans to expand.“It was grandparent’s day,” he said. “We kept it that way, we didn’t tell none of the kids until I actually walked into all six of the classrooms individually, spent a good amount of time with those classrooms, my third and fourth graders. It was great. It was a good way to go into Thanksgiving, all of being thankful, the great lives they’ve had.”HOME COOKINGFollowing the game, the Lakers feasted on hamburgers, french fries and shakes from Swenson’s, an Akron drive-in restaurant favored by James.Sitting at his locker, James sipped on a banana shake and smiled.“I’m good,” he said. “I got my hometown food.”UP NEXTLakers: Host Utah on Friday.Cavaliers: At Philadelphia on Friday.
162007Eagles811.7108-8 172014Chiefs810.4109-7 142014Eagles712.8710-6 32012Bears720.5610-6 132003Dolphins712.8910-6 22004Ravens821.189-7 RkYearTeamSeedDVOADVOA RkW-L 12005Chiefs724.4%510-6 The 2008 Patriots, with Matt Cassel at quarterback in place of an injured Tom Brady, are the only 11-5 team to miss the playoffs since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990. Out of the 64 teams who would have been a seventh or eighth seed, only 10 won at least 10 games, and 26 failed to win at least nine games. In most years, an expanded field would just add some marginal 9-7 teams.This season, the Lions and Seahawks would have made the playoffs in the NFC and the Ravens and Chargers would have made it in the AFC as seventh and eighth seeds. The quality of those extra playoff teams wouldn’t be too bad, but it’s not the norm. As you can see from the table above, the 2017 Ravens have the fourth-highest DVOA (18.5 percent) for a hypothetical seventh or eighth seed since 2002. Yet are we really going to miss not seeing a struggling Joe Flacco-led offense and a defense that couldn’t stop Andy Dalton on a 4th-and-12 with the season on the line?If there is an argument against the current playoff format, it would be the usage of tiebreakers. In the AFC, the Ravens, Chargers, Titans and Bills all finished with 9-7 records, but only two teams could claim the wild-card spots. It just so happens that the two teams that were outscored by their opponents (Tennessee and Buffalo) got in, while the two teams that outscored their opponents, each by more than 80 points, were left out. That’s a problem.Conference record was what saved the Bills and Titans here, but that ignores 25 percent of the schedule. If the NFL wants to promote winning at all costs and that every game counts, then performance in all 16 games should matter more. We don’t expect DVOA to come to the forefront of deciding which team goes to the playoffs, but maybe a simple rule that you can’t make the playoffs if you were outscored by 57 points like Buffalo was wouldn’t be so bad. In Week 11 against the Chargers, Buffalo benched Tyrod Taylor for Nathan Peterman, who proceeded to throw five interceptions on route to a 54-24 drubbing. And yet the 9-7 Bills are playing this weekend, while the 9-7 Chargers (plus-83 scoring differential) are at home. Something is off there.The next step in improving the NFL playoffs shouldn’t be getting more teams in but making sure the best teams are getting into the tournament. Let’s hope Goodell steers the conversation that way the next time this inevitably comes up.Check out our latest NFL predictions. 52002Patriots815.779-7 One of the key findings is that the average No. 4 seed has a DVOA of just 6.0 percent, which is roughly half of the average No. 5 (11.1 percent) and No. 6 seeds (12.3 percent). This is still higher than that of the average No. 7 (4.9 percent) and No. 8 seeds (3.5 percent). This suggests that the move from three divisions to four may not be working out too well, since the final division winner that gets the No. 4 seed is often an unimpressive team. The 2010 Seahawks infamously went 7-9 (30th in DVOA) but, with their home-field advantage, still knocked off the Saints in the playoffs that year. The 2014 Panthers made the playoffs with a 7-8-1 record (24th in DVOA) and won a playoff game over an Arizona team that had the dreadful Ryan Lindley at quarterback because of injuries to its top two passers.Would we really be adding more quality teams with extra seeds? The following table shows the top 20 teams in DVOA that would have been seeded seventh or eighth since 2002. 42017Ravens718.579-7 82009Steelers814.2109-7 202007Browns79.71210-6 102012Giants813.479-7 192009Texans79.7149-7 On Sunday, Seattle kicker Blair Walsh missed a 48-yard field goal with 32 seconds left, ensuring that the Seahawks would lose to Arizona, fall to 9-7 and miss the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Even before the kick, Seattle knew its playoff fate was sealed thanks to Atlanta clinching the last playoff spot with a win over Carolina in a game that had just wrapped up.But what if Walsh’s kick had been the difference between Seattle making the playoffs and the Detroit Lions, who also finished 9-7, getting into the tournament as a seventh seed? Lions head coach Jim Caldwell certainly wouldn’t have been fired on Monday if his team were in the playoffs for the third time in four years. Walsh’s kick would have carried so much more pressure that he probably would have been even wider right on the miss.That type of memorable finish in Week 17 is just part of what the NFL has in mind when talking about the idea of playoff expansion. In May 2014, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expected the league to expand the playoff field from 12 to 14 teams for 2015. It never happened, and despite Goodell’s statement in 2016 that it would likely happen at some point, all is quiet on the playoff expansion front.But does the NFL really need more playoff teams? The NBA and NHL use 16 playoff teams, but that makes some of the first-round matchups a chore (and a bore) to watch. NFL teams already play only 16 games a season, so that exclusivity with only 12 teams qualifying should be considered a positive, not a problem.This is the 16th season with the current playoff format of 12 teams making the tournament from eight divisions. That actually makes this the longest-running playoff format that the NFL has used since the advent of the Super Bowl, and it’s hard to argue with the success the NFL has enjoyed in the current makeup. Some sixth seeds in this era, such as the 2005 Steelers and 2010 Packers, went on incredible runs all the way to championships. The four coveted first-round byes tend to produce a fascinating divisional round weekend where fans can usually count on at least one shocking upset.Is the system perfect? Of course not, but it has been working quite well at creating memorable postseasons and deserving champions. Aside from the potential logistical problems of an expanded field — a 14-team playoff, for instance, would require six games played on wild-card weekend — the biggest argument against expansion is that the league can barely put 12 quality teams into the tournament as is. This is a brutal sport with plenty of significant injuries that inevitably weaken contenders come January. Just last year, the AFC playoffs featured games started by Matt Moore (Miami), Connor Cook (Oakland) and Brock Osweiler (Houston) because of late-season injuries to starting quarterbacks. We’re getting Nick Foles on the top-seeded Eagles this year because of Carson Wentz’s injury, and LeSean McCoy’s status is up in the air for the Bills this weekend.Now that could be brushed off as bad luck, but the statistics also show the drop in quality of teams once you get to a hypothetical seventh or especially eighth seed in each conference. Football Outsiders uses Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, or DVOA (further explained here), to measure a team’s efficiency. We charted the average DVOA for a team by its conference seed since 2002, and we found that seventh and eighth seeds were clearly a notch below wild-card teams. 62010Chargers715.489-7 The best teams to just miss the playoffsHighest DVOA among both conferences’ theoretical No. 7 and No. 8 seeds for the NFL playoffs, 2002-2017 122010Giants713.0910-6 152015Jets712.4910-6 92011Jets813.5108-8 182013Cardinals710.01010-6 112008Patriots713.1911-5 72002Broncos715.289-7 Source: Football Outsiders
NBA free agency started with a bang Sunday afternoon, when news emerged that superstar Kevin Durant would be leaving the Golden State Warriors to sign a four-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets. The move comes days after it became clear that fellow star Kyrie Irving would be ditching the Boston Celtics to sign with Brooklyn, which just reached the playoffs for the first time since 2015.The agreements mark an enormous shift for the Nets, a franchise that was in the doldrums for years after being on the losing end of what many, in hindsight, called one of the worst trades in NBA history. And perhaps more important on a macro level, the Durant deal decreases the likelihood of the Warriors — who figured to be hobbled this coming season regardless — remaining as dominant as they once were. There’s a good chance the league could be wide open this coming season — and beyond, perhaps, if Kawhi Leonard doesn’t decide to sign with the Lakers.Yet it’s still difficult to size up what, exactly, this move means for the Nets in the immediate future because of the prognosis for Durant, who may not play at all this coming season after rupturing his Achilles during Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Achilles injuries are often devastating for NBA players, and we simply don’t know how the 30-year-old Durant, a near 7-footer with a skill set we’ve never seen, recovers from his. But even if Durant isn’t the force he once was when he returns, this signing puts the Nets in a conversation for a title they likely would not have been in otherwise.Irving figures to be a better and more consistent player than D’Angelo Russell. But his presence alone (or with players like DeAndre Jordan and Garrett Temple, who are also likely to sign with the Nets, per reports) likely won’t be enough to make Brooklyn the favorites to win the East in 2020 — not unless Kawhi Leonard leaves Toronto (which is a possibility), Jimmy Butler leaves Philadelphia (another possibility), and the 60-win, Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Milwaukee Bucks somehow take a considerable step back. Durant coming back before the end of the season might give Brooklyn that chance, but given what just happened earlier this month, that risk doesn’t really seem worth it for either side.Once he is healthy and ready to play, though, look out. The Nets had already developed a nearly ideal canvas for star players like Irving and Durant to add their creative paint to. Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie both had moments in which they shone during the team’s first-round loss to Philadelphia. Joe Harris was not only the 3-point champion at All-Star weekend but also led the NBA in 3-point percentage, at 47 percent. While Jarrett Allen is undersized as a center, he’s shown a fearlessness that bodes well at the rim, and Brooklyn found creative ways to maximize his talent there, by using sets that were essentially one-man zone schemes. The club once found itself on the receiving end of more missed calls than any other NBA team in clutch scenarios, but now has bonafide stars who figure to get the benefit of the doubt in late-game spots.Irving and Durant join a team that’s been praised for its strategy, both from a front-office standpoint and on the court. Without all the draft picks they sent away in that fateful deal for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, Nets general manager Sean Marks gambled on solid young players who were discarded by their original franchises. Some, like Dinwiddie, were simply found in free agency. Others came over in trades, when opposing clubs decided they wanted to dump talent to free up cap space or to lower their luxury-tax bills. Brooklyn saw this as an opportunity to rummage for potential treasure, while also collecting future picks to make up for the ones it lost in the Celtics deal.On the court, the strategy was just as wise. Under coach Kenny Atkinson, the Nets began utilizing a Moreyball-style shot chart, prioritizing looks around the rim and from deep, while largely eschewing midrange jumpers. On defense, they have done the exact opposite, luring opponents into some of the most inefficient shots in the game. It all played a big part in making the Nets competitive again and building them into a playoff team. And for all the talk surrounding the possibility of Durant and Irving joining the Knicks, this was one area in which they simply couldn’t compete with their rivals across the East River.But the Nets have added the finishing touches on what, until now, was simply a strong base.Brooklyn just pulled off whatever a four-year-long episode of “Fixer Upper” would look like. The Nets took a house that essentially no one would have wanted, tore it down to the studs, and now, with Irving and Durant, could be the hottest ticket in town. They were last in attendance in 2018-19, but that — and perhaps the NBA landscape as a whole — figures to change. That’s the power of signing a player like Kevin Durant, even if he doesn’t return quite as dominant as he was prior to the Achilles injury.
Gale Sayers1.8 Walter Payton0.4 Kobe Bryant1.6✓Jesse Owens0.7 Serena Williams1.1✓Walter Payton1.5✓ Simone Biles1.1 Pele1.9 Stephen Curry0.7 Shaquille O’Neal0.5 Kevin Durant0.9 * Significant if higher than 90% confidence level. Poll for The Undefeated’s “50 Greatest Black Athletes.”Source: Surveymonkey Arthur Ashe0.8 VOTERS UNDER 35DIFF.SIG.*VOTERS 35 AND UPDIFF.SIG. Pele0.9 Jackie Joyner-Kersee0.5 Julius Erving0.8 Jerry Rice0.8 LeBron James0.6 Gale Sayers0.8 Carl Lewis0.7 Isiah Thomas0.9 Floyd Mayweather0.4 Differences in ratings of black athletes by rater’s age Gale Sayers0.3 As we’ll see throughout this exercise, not all of the differences in voting between groups were statistically significant.3Using the standard errors of the poll data sent to us by SurveyMonkey, we set up confidence intervals around the difference in each group’s average composite score. Then we used those intervals to determine which differences in an athlete’s ratings were significant at the 90 and 95 percent levels — meaning we are reasonably confident that the true difference in ratings between groups is not zero. However, some were — and few more so than the male-female split over Serena Williams, one of history’s greatest athletes (full stop). Women ranked Williams as the third-best black athlete of all time; men slotted her at No. 13. She wasn’t alone in experiencing this kind of ratings gap: The five female athletes in the top 254Serena and Venus Williams, Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas and Wilma Rudolph. were all rated higher on average by women who took the survey than by men. Apparently even data sets can’t avoid the argument over where the top female athletes would rank in comparison with their male counterparts.On the opposite side, legendary running back Walter Payton was rated much higher by men than by women — in fact, when you sort athletes by how much better they were ranked by men than women, four of the top six were football players.By age Two athletes stand out as having significantly more support among nonwhite voters than white ones: Serena Williams and Kobe Bryant. Out of the 60 athletes who received composite scores, Bryant was ranked dead last by white voters, which was one of the big reasons he — shockingly — didn’t crack The Undefeated’s top 50. (Nonwhite voters ranked him at No. 34.)Williams was arguably even more affected by white voters. Nonwhite respondents placed her as first on the entire list, while white voters placed her 11th overall; the two groups’ combined numbers put her as No. 6 overall in The Undefeated’s ranking.It’s also interesting to note that although none of the white voters’ preferences rise to the level of statistical significance, the top three athletes rated notably higher by white respondents — Jesse Owens, Bill Russell and Jackie Robinson — each took major strides in breaking down barriers that kept African-Americans from full and equal participation in their sports. The question of how race shaped Americans’ notion of what makes a great black athlete deserves a longer look, and our colleague Jerry Bembry is diving into that later today at The Undefeated.Taken together, all these differences in voting patterns tell a complex story about how race, gender and culture help determine how an athlete is viewed — and ultimately how his or her legacy is appraised. Although some biases are predictable (for instance, older fans think athletes were better back in their day), some are more surprising. Measuring these trends serves as an invitation to a broader conversation about what we value most in sports and why.Read more: The Undefeated’s list of the 50 greatest black athletes Stephen Curry0.1 Bo Jackson0.1 Jim Brown0.8 Magic Johnson0.7 Wilma Rudolph0.8 Ray Robinson1.4 Willie Mays1.2 Serena Williams1.3✓Bill Russell0.7 Michael Johnson0.4 FEMALE VOTERSDIFF.SIG.*MALE VOTERSDIFF.SIG. Usain Bolt0.2 Ernie Banks1.4 Arthur Ashe0.4 Ken Griffey Jr.0.5 After a month of counting down the list, our friends at The Undefeated have finally reached the top 10 in their ranking of the 50 greatest black athletes of all time. The top of the heap includes some easy calls but also a few surprises.You can read more about the ranking methodology here, but in essence, The Undefeated and SurveyMonkey conducted a poll of American adults, asking them to rate a pool of celebrated black athletes in categories including their on-field1Or on-court, or on-ice, or — well, you get the idea. dominance and their influence on society. Those results were then used to create a composite score that eventually determined the top 50.The poll’s responses were weighted to make sure they reflect the demographics of the country as a whole, but not every segment of society agreed on how every player should be ranked. Using the survey’s composite scores,2Which are made up of a player’s grades in each component category and range from about 18 to 21. we broke down how voting groups differed when grading the athletes:By gender Joe Frazier1.2 Reggie Jackson0.7 Kobe Bryant1.8✓Hank Aaron2.2✓ LeBron James0.6 Muhammad Ali0.1 When we split voters up by age (voters under 35 versus voters age 35 and up), a few interesting trends emerge. The most obvious is that younger respondents tended to give higher marks to younger players: Aside from Muhammad Ali and Bo Jackson — both icons — every member of the list of players most favored by younger fans is under 50; conversely, the youngest member of the group most favored by older fans is Joe Frazier, who would be 73 if he hadn’t passed away in 2011.The older cohort of voters also seemed to have a higher opinion of athletes in general, rating the entire pool about 0.6 points better, on average, than their younger counterparts did, and rating 14 players at least a full point higher than the under-35 group did.By race * Significant if higher than 90% confidence level. Poll for The Undefeated’s “50 Greatest Black Athletes.”Source: Surveymonkey Roberto Clemente1.6 Differences in ratings of black athletes by rater’s race Wilt Chamberlain0.5 Derek Jeter0.6 Wilma Rudolph0.9 Differences in ratings of black athletes by rater’s gender Sugar Ray Leonard0.9 Jim Brown1.2 * Significant if higher than 90% confidence level. Poll for The Undefeated’s “50 Greatest Black Athletes.”Source: Surveymonkey Serena Williams0.2 Derek Jeter0.7 Bill Russell1.3 LeBron James1.2 Scottie Pippen0.5 Arthur Ashe1.7 NONWHITE VOTERSDIFF.SIG.*WHITE VOTERSDIFF.SIG. Pele0.5 Larry Fitzgerald0.3 Muhammad Ali0.6 Bo Jackson0.2 Jackie Robinson0.6 Gabby Douglas0.8
Atlanta’s offense isn’t as explosive anymoreTeam stats between the 2016 and 2017 regular seasons Atlanta finished the game against Los Angeles with 124 rushing yards on 39 carries (3.2 yards per carry) — or a slightly more respectable 119 yards on 33 carries by players other than Matt Ryan — against a Rams defense that finished 30th in the league in that category, giving up 4.7 rushing yards per attempt. This was possible because the Rams committed a lot of resources to stopping the run, but Atlanta never took advantage.The Rams didn’t need to panic. Even though the Falcons forced them to stack the box, Atlanta never looked like a threat to capitalize on that and break the game open. Yet after that 16-play drive to open the second half, Rams running back Todd Gurley had just six carries for the remainder of the game and caught only a few short passes. The Rams trailed for most of the game but racked up 7.2 yards per carry when they ran it, including 101 yards on 14 carries by Gurley. Against a Falcons team with just four double-digit wins this season (against seven in the 2016 regular season), and which saw steep declines in big plays, L.A. limited the most effective part of its offense in a game that was going to remain close no matter what.The Falcons get the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round, and with Nick Foles under center for Philly, Atlanta may run out to another early lead. If that happens, the Eagles would be well-served to treat the Falcons’ offense as it exists this season, not worry about it magically ramping up to last season’s levels — Atlanta hasn’t cracked 30 points since November. On offense, the Eagles are fourth in yards per rushing attempt this season, and they aren’t a huge risk to go pass-heavy with Foles at quarterback anyway. But Philadelphia not only has a solid ground game, it also has a defense that limits big plays, ranking 10th in the league in yardage gained on plays of 20 yards or more despite playing with a lead for most of the season.Further reason for Philadelphia to play within itself: Even if the 2016 Falcons’ offense does materialize, the Eagles were one of the only teams to slow Atlanta last season, holding the offense to its second lowest yardage output of the year and its lowest points total. So worst case, the Eagles’ defense can punch its weight with theoretical max. But we haven’t seen much, if anything, to suggest that the Falcons offense of old will line up this weekend.Check out our latest NFL predictions. At the start of the second half of the wild-card game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Rams, the Falcons received the kickoff and set off on a 16-play drive that lasted more than eight minutes and included 11 rushing attempts. It ended with a field goal. To hear many observers tell it, this was a turning point, a moment in which the Falcons finally asserted their commitment to running the ball, finally protecting a lead the way they ought to have in last season’s Super Bowl, when they squandered a 28-3 lead. Fair enough. But it was also indicative of a season-long trend for Atlanta: These Falcons aren’t built to run away with the game, so they may be best served running out the clock.The decline in the Atlanta offense after former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan left in the offseason is well-documented. New coordinator Steve Sarkisian has been under fire seemingly from jump, accused of running a less ambitious version of the Atlanta offense under Shanahan, sending players in motion less often and under-utilizing star wideout Julio Jones.The declines have come across the board but have been most glaring in scoring, especially in the red zone. The Falcons dipped from first in points scored in 2016 (540) to 15th in 2017 (353), and from eighth in red-zone touchdown percentage to 23rd. The offense has fared better when it simply has to gain yardage (it ranked third in yards per drive), but the scoring offense has not improved. And if the Falcons can’t be trusted to score, the strategies teams employ against them probably shouldn’t assume they will. Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group Red-zone TD percentage6250-12 Double-digit wins74-3 Yards per game on plays of 20+ yards170119-51 30-point games114-7 20162017Change
Tom Watson19709.89.68.9 Ernie Els1994—9.49.8 Tiger and Jack move the Masters ratings needleAverage Sunday Nielsen rating by player performance, 1958-2017 Average rating Tiger Woods199511.610.08.7 Bubba Watson20087.57.58.7 Player1st mastersWonTop 10Other* Gary Player19522.214.171.124 Jack Nicklaus195910.49.58.9 Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo and Phil Mickelson also boast one Masters victory apiece with a Sunday rating of 10.5 or better, though all of Palmer, Watson and Mickelson’s other wins were below average in terms of viewership.6Faldo’s two other wins drew above-average viewership.And that matters. From a ratings perspective, viewers don’t seem to care very much who’s battling it out atop the leaderboard on the final day of the Masters — unless it’s Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus. In the table below, you can see how television ratings increase with the success of those two. Statistics bear this out, too. High finishes by Woods and Nicklaus are the only variables I identified that have a statistically significant effect on Sunday ratings. There’s no bounce when most other big names do well — and in many cases, there’s a decline. Jordan Spieth20126.96.36.199 Phil Mickelson199188.8.131.52 Seve Ballesteros19778.08.88.8 Rory McIlroy2009—7.88.8 Jose Maria Olazabal198184.108.40.206 Greg Norman1981—9.48.6 Billy Casper195220.127.116.11 And what about when lesser-known golfers take home the green jacket — like if Tony Finau or Bernd Wiesberger were to make a run on Sunday after solid starts? In those cases, CBS should hope they’re dueling with Tiger Woods. When Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel and Trevor Immelman won in 2013, 2011 and 2008, respectively, Tiger finished in the top five. Those Sundays saw an average rating of 9.2. Meanwhile, Danny Willett and Mike Weir’s victories — with Woods out of the tournament in 2016 and out of the top 10 in 2003 — produced an average final-round rating of 8.0. In fact, since Tiger burst onto the scene in 1997, the five lowest-rated final rounds have coincided with his three Masters absences and two worst finishes.Even Mickelson — who has long been one of the most popular golfers on tour — didn’t move the Masters rating needle on his own. Before Lefty finally won his first title at Augusta in 2004, he was the best golfer without a major and had finished in the top 10 at a major 17 times. And yet, his narrative garnered the Masters a 7.3 rating, at the time the fourth lowest since 1958. This may have had to do with Tiger being well off the lead that Sunday, finishing tied for 22nd.7The final round of the 2004 Masters also started one hour early because of the possibility of inclement weather. Flash-forward to 2010: Woods — who was playing in the wake of scandal — was competing with Mickelson and others in a dramatic final round on Sunday. Phil would win his third green jacket, Woods finished tied for fourth, and the broadcast notched a 10.7 rating, sixth highest ever.8Mickelson’s second Masters victory in 2006 produced a below-average 8.4 rating despite Tiger finishing tied for third. Woods had won in 2005, and each time he’s pursued a repeat, ratings have declined from the year before.Masters ratings are ultimately influenced by more than just who’s in the mix toward the end of the final round. But when you’re basking in the Masters theme song and Bob Ross-like whispers of CBS’s Jim Nantz this Sunday, rest assured that if he’s calling Tiger’s name on 18, CBS will be enjoying the type of ratings that only Woods (or Nicklaus) can create. Tiger Woods returned to the Masters on Thursday for the first time since 2015, shooting an opening-round 1-over 73 and slotting into 29th place headed into Friday. One year after his fourth back surgery — and six months removed from talk that he might never play competitive golf again — the 42-year-old is in the midst of a highly anticipated comeback.So far, Woods has delivered. He finished in the top five at back-to-back PGA Tour events in March, and television ratings, ticket prices and fan excitement have swelled with his return. And that got me wondering — just how much of an impact does Woods have on television ratings for the Masters? Considering that the likes of Jordan Spieth (first place through round one) and Rory McIlroy (tied for fourth) remain in contention as we near the weekend, are they a decent enough consolation prize for CBS if Woods falls off pace by Sunday?I looked back at the event’s national Nielsen ratings since 1958,1CBS first televised the Masters in 1956, covering the final four holes. There are no Nielsen ratings available for that telecast. In 1957, CBS aired one hour of Sunday Masters coverage, earning a rating of 3.0. Given the limitations, I excluded those two years from this analysis. showing the percentage of TV-owning households tuning in, with an eye toward some of golf’s biggest names — players who commonly appear on lists of the “greatest golfers of all time,”2Excluding golfers who played or peaked before CBS began televising the Masters. those who have won the Masters multiple times in the television era and a couple of recent winners. I specifically focused on the ratings for Masters Sunday, when the four-day tournament’s final round is usually played.3The Masters has concluded on Monday six times since 1958. In 1961, 1973 and 1983, the final round was completed on Monday because of rain earlier in the tournament. In 1962, 1966 and 1970, players who were tied for the lead after the final round competed in an 18-hole playoff on Monday. The Masters switched to a sudden-death playoff in 1976. I elected to show Sunday ratings to maintain consistency of day, as Monday afternoon telecasts can be subject to ratings drop-offs.Tiger Woods’s first two Masters victories, in 1997 (14.1 Sunday rating) and 2001 (13.3), produced the highest Sunday ratings in event history — about 50 percent above the long-term average. In ratings terms, that’s roughly on par with last year’s college football national championship and the deciding game of the NBA Finals. In 1997, Woods became the youngest champion at the Masters, set a new margin-of-victory record and shot the tournament’s lowest-ever 72-hole score.4270, equaled by Jordan Spieth in 2015. Ratings came back to earth when he won again in 2002 (9.2) and 2005 (9.8) but were still above average. The next three highest-rated rounds came in 1975 (11.9), 1972 (11.8) and 1966 (10.9),5The 1966 Monday playoff between Jack Nicklaus, Tommy Jacobs and Gay Brewer earned a Nielsen rating of 12.0. when Jack Nicklaus won three of his six green jackets. Nick Faldo19718.104.22.168 *Includes tournaments in which the player made the cut but finished outside the top 10Sources: PGA Tour, GolfStats.com, CBS Press Express, USA Today Ben Crenshaw19722.214.171.124 Sergio García199126.96.36.199 Arnold Palmer195188.8.131.52 Bernhard Langer198184.108.40.206 Vijay Singh199410.08.89.5 Lee Trevino1968—9.99.1
With the score tied, 17 seconds to play, and a No. 1 ranking and unblemished record at stake, most teams in college basketball would turn to their savvy veteran to deliver the win. Not Ohio State. When the Buckeyes’ perfect season was in jeopardy against Northwestern on Saturday night it was freshman forward Jared Sullinger who was called on to lead his team to victory. “As soon as we got the steal, I looked up and there was 15 seconds on the shot clock,” senior forward David Lighty said. “Coach (Thad Matta) kind of looked at me and I said, ‘Keep going, keep going,’ and they had the play set up for us, and we just ran it right then and there and it worked to perfection.” “Perfection,” in this case, meant finding Sullinger in the post, where he was able to draw a foul and drain one of his two free throws to secure the nerve-racking 58-57 win. Despite Sullinger’s relative inexperience at the collegiate level, his teammates said they have total confidence in his ability to deliver. Students’ take on 2010-2011 Ohio State men’s basketball team by RMSchanz “That’s a play we like to go to, throw it to him in the post and let him make the best decision,” freshman point guard Aaron Craft said. “He has our confidence to make the right decision. If he is open then he will do what he did tonight, and if not, he’ll make the pass out.” Sullinger is no stranger to having the ball in his hands with the game on the line. The 6-foot-9 forward led his Northland High School team to a state Final Four appearance in 2008 and won an Ohio state championship the following season. And although the game programs list Sullinger as a freshman, he said that doesn’t matter once he steps on the court. “On the court I try to carry myself as a man and just play like a man, like my dad always told me to play like,” Sullinger said. “As soon as I step inside that rectangle, it’s an automatic switch that I have had ever since I was young.” Matta said he recognizes the freshman’s ability to flip that switch and perform at crunch time. Though Sullinger is just 22 games into his freshman campaign, Matta has no problem putting the game in the star forward’s hands. “I knew we were going to get a pretty good look at it,” Matta said of his team’s final possession against Northwestern. “He’s got a knack; he’s hit some big shots and some big free throws in his career, and we were pretty pleased.” The Buckeyes return to action when they host Michigan at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Do the Buckeyes have revenge on their minds coming into Saturday’s game against Wisconsin? In a word, no. On Oct. 16, 2010, OSU, then the No.1-ranked team in the country, was upset, 31-18, at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. The Badgers went on to win a share of the Big Ten title and advanced to play in the 2011 Rose Bowl. First-year OSU head coach Luke Fickell said the Buckeyes won’t forget the feeling of last season’s loss in Madison, but added that this season’s game against Wisconsin is not about redemption. “None of us forget the feeling,” Fickell said. “That’s probably the most important thing. You learn from losses. You learn how to react and respond. But you never forget the feeling. That’s the one thing I reminded them (the players) of. We’re not going to dwell upon last year.” How will Wisconsin react to its first loss of the season? Will the Badgers’ loss to Michigan State cause them to fold or be motivated? The Badgers took their first loss of the 2011 season last Saturday when Michigan State senior quarterback Kirk Cousins’ last-second, Hail Mary pass was deflected, then caught by senior wide receiver Keith Nichol and later ruled a touchdown. Game officials reviewed the play, which ended with 00:00 remaining on the game clock, and ruled that the ball broke the plane of the end zone. That ruling ended the game and gave the Spartans a 37-31 win. OSU junior defensive tackle John Simon gave a players’ perspective on rebounding from a loss, and he said he doesn’t expect Wisconsin to lay down for OSU or anyone else. “You just got to move on,” Simon said. “Learn from it, watch tape the next day, make the corrections, come out fighting. They’re not going to back down or anything like that. We know we’re up for a fight on Saturday. We’re looking forward to it.” Which Wisconsin players could hurt the Buckeyes’ players on Saturday? We’ll get more specific than a blanket statement, but don’t doubt that the entire Wisconsin offensive unit could potentially hurt the Buckeyes. Wisconsin is second in the Big Ten in red zone efficiency, scoring on 36-of-38 trips inside their opponents’ 20-yard lines. Of those 36 scores, 32 were touchdowns. As far as specific players are concerned, fifth-year senior quarterback Russell Wilson, a transfer from North Carolina State, will be the player to watch on Wisconsin. Wilson leads the Big Ten in passing yards per game, touchdowns and total passing yard with 254, 16 and 1,780, respectively. Wilson has formidable targets to throw to, of course. Sophomore Jared Abbrederis and senior Nick Toon are fourth and seventh in receiving yards per game in the Big Ten, respectively, and have combined for nine touchdowns. And you can’t forget junior back Montee Ball, who leads all Big Ten rushers with 768 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. What does OSU have to do to beat Bucky? To put it plainly, OSU needs to have a truly balanced offensive attack if they want to compete against the Badgers Saturday. Freshman quarterback Braxton Miller was 1-of-4 passing in OSU’s upset win against then-No.16-ranked Illinois on Oct. 15. By game’s end, the Buckeyes’ four passing attempts stood against 51 rushing attempts. Suffice it to say that a similar offensive formula will not work against Wisconsin, which boasts the No. 3 defense in the Big Ten. Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Jim Bollman is going to have to mix an occasional passing play into OSU’s game plan. Then, the offensive line has to protect Miller. Another big game from senior running back Daniel “Boom” Herron wouldn’t hurt either. Can the Buckeyes upset Wisconsin and shock the world on Saturday? OSU is coming off an impressive road win at Illinois and has had two weeks to prepare for Wisconsin. These factors, plus the electric Ohio Stadium atmosphere all seem to suggest the Buckeyes have at least a fighting chance against the Buckeyes. Wisconsin is the more talented team, but is coming off a potentially devastating road loss that may have knocked it out of BCS title race. The question is whether OSU can ride its momentum and the inevitable overflow of crowd support on Saturday to overcome a more skilled opponent. The Buckeyes could pull off the upset, but it isn’t likely. OSU has faced good individual players on opposing teams in 2011 and one decent team in Nebraska, but Wisconsin is still the class of the Big Ten. Saturday isn’t just a statement game for the Badgers, its a “we still think we’re a top-five team in the country and we’re going to show you why” game. Emotion will allow the Buckeyes to make a game of it on Saturday, but the better team will leave the ‘Shoe with a win. Final Score: Wisconsin 24, Ohio State 17
For the second time this spring it was “winners, losers” for the Ohio State football team. And for the second time, the defense won. Though, with his offense trying to comprehend an entirely new playbook, seeing the defense win is something that coach Urban Meyer said he expected to see. “They better win,” he said. Senior defensive lineman John Simon created havoc all afternoon long, forcing sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller to either scramble outside the pocket or make forced, erratic throws. Behind Simon and a stingy defense that forced two fumbles, Meyer said the Buckeye offense started out awful before managing to regroup and battle back. Still, Meyer said the offense hasn’t been performing to the level he wanted to see by now. “We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “I wish we grasped it a little faster.” It’s not the first time he’s been in this situation. Meyer said he had similar problems trying to install his offense at Utah and Florida before coming to OSU. Some of those pressures of helping Meyer effectively establish his offensive scheme has inevitably fallen on the shoulders of Miller, who started as quarterback for the Buckeyes in 2011. Miller, who had an up-and-down day on most accounts, still seemed uncomfortable at times. That, coupled with an offensive line that Meyer called “adequate,” is why he said they might need to adjust some things. “We might even slow down the installation a little bit,” Meyer said. But it’s not just an issue with Miller, he said. Rather, he said far too much credit and blame go to quarterbacks while, sometimes, Miller is a “product of what’s around him.” Despite those troubles, Meyer said the team is continuing to improve each practice. “We’re a lot better today than we were yesterday,” he said.
Lightning over Cambridge on Wednesday as thunderstorms crossed southern parts of Britain Credit:WESSEX NEWS Martin Bowles, a meteorologist at the Met Office, said: “The storms will carry on for a bit overnight but towards the early hours of the morning they will move away into the North Sea and Sunday is not going to be particularly wet.“It will be a mixture of cloud and sunshine. There will be a little bit of light rain in the south and a few showers early in the afternoon across the UK.” More than two million people are expected to travel to London’s Notting Hill Carnival this weekend as the festival enters its sixth decade.With more people flocking to the UK’s beaches this weekend, and after five people died at Camber Sands, East Sussex, the Royal National Lifeguard Institution (RNLI) has advised visitors to the seaside to take care. These regions experienced more than 15mm of rainfall an hour, the equivalent of an average two-week rainfall.There were yellow weather warnings – for severe rainfall – in place across the UK until Sunday. But, the storms were expected to subside by the morning, giving way to sunshine. An RNLI spokesman said: “The sea may look appealing, and the RNLI would encourage people to use it, but do so safely – it can be dangerously unpredictable.”Please visit lifeguarded beaches and swim between the red and yellow flags – the safe swim zone and the area watched by lifeguards.”RNLI lifeguards are always happy to answer any questions or advise of any risks, including where any rip currents may be, which can catch out even the most experienced swimmers.” Highs of 77F (25C) are forecast in London, with 69.8F (21C) expected in Cardiff and temperatures reaching 64.4F (18C) in Belfast and Glasgow.However, Monday will see dry weather across the whole of England and Wales, with temperatures predicted to rise above 77F (25C) in London.Although this is higher than average, it is lower than the temperatures seen in parts of the UK on Wednesday, with the mercury hitting 93F (33.9C) in Gravesend, Kent, on the hottest day of the year so far. The new high for 2016 spurred bookies to slash odds on it being the hottest summer on record, with Coral offering 2/1.“If you are going to celebrate the Bank Holiday weekend, Monday is the day to do it,” Mr Bowles added.“Bank Holiday Monday is looking like a very nice day. We are looking at it being dry across the whole country with lots of sunshine.“There will be some cloud in the east, but everyone will get some sunshine, particularly in the west.” Overnight tonight the main focus for thundery downpours shifts towards northern parts of England and north Waleshttps://t.co/jaYnBjJ17r— Met Office (@metoffice) August 27, 2016 There will be sunshine on Bank Holiday Monday following a yellow severe weather warning across much of England, the Met Office has said.An estimated 3,000 lightning strikes hit the UK on Saturday and in the worst affected areas, such as Dorset, Oxfordshire and Yorkshire, there were thunderstorms and flooding. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
DJ Jacob Husley, who has worked at the club’s Sunday night party for the past eight years, said he was surprised by the decision.He said: “We are in shock. I am feeling a mixture of disbelief and anger and sadness.”Asked what the closure of the club would mean, he said: “It would be a devastating blow for London and culture, and clubs across the UK. It sets a precedent.”Mr Husley said he could not say whether the club’s owners will appeal but added that he hoped “we are not finished with this”. This decline must stop if London is to retain its status as a 24-hour city with a world-class nightlifeSadiq Khan, London mayor Mr Khan said: “London’s iconic clubs are an essential part of our cultural landscape.”Clubbing needs to be safe but I’m disappointed that Fabric, Islington Council and the Metropolitan Police were unable to reach agreement on how to address concerns about public safety.”As a result of this decision, thousands of people who enjoyed going to Fabric as an essential part of London’s nightlife will lose out.”The issues faced by Fabric point to a wider problem of how we protect London’s night-time economy, while ensuring it is safe and enjoyable for everyone.”The Mayor said that London had lost 50 per cent of its nightclubs and 40 per cent of its live music venues over the last eight years.”This decline must stop if London is to retain its status as a 24-hour city with a world-class nightlife”, he said. What a terrible decision by made by @IslingtonBC + @CllrGaryPoole + @Flo_williamsonLots of people aren’t happy#SaveFabric #FabricReview— dj phantasy (@djphantasy) September 7, 2016 They later added that the the law was “demonising clubs & raves with an archaic view on drugs & the youth”.DJ MistaJam also voiced his support, tweeting: Our culture has been torn apart with the closing of @fabriclondon & every club with serious history & importance in London #FabricReview— Chase & Status (@chaseandstatus) September 7, 2016 The council revoked the Farringdon venue’s licence in the early hours of Wednesday, after finding it had a “culture of drug use” which staff were “incapable of controlling”.The decision has been labelled “archaic” and “a devastating blow for London” by figures from the music world.Last month, the Met Police applied to the council for the licence to be reviewed, due to what it described as “concerns about serious crime” associated with the nightclub.The nightspot in Farringdon closed temporarily after the deaths of two teenagers from suspected drug overdoses earlier this year.In the run-up to the council’s decision, announced in the early hours of Wednesday morning, a petition to save the club had received almost 150,000 signatures. A Met Police spokeswoman said: “Police felt the need to act due to concerns about the safety of those attending the club due to the supply of class A drugs in the venue and the recent deaths of two young men linked to the club.”We support this decision made by Islington Council’s licensing committee.”London has a world-renowned night-time economy and people should be able to enjoy it safely, without concerns of serious crime.”The Met is committed to working in partnership with those responsible for this sector to ensure that this happens.” Fabric closing is a real blow for the youth of London. An institution!— nick grimshaw (@grimmers) September 7, 2016 Thank you for all the amazing memories @fabriclondon – I’ll never forget what you meant to me & many like me pic.twitter.com/rBaXn7nuJs— mistajam (@mistajam) September 7, 2016 Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Fabric losing its licence is an absolute disgrace. @SadiqKhan you must get this overturned. There’s nowhere left in London..— Chase & Status (@chaseandstatus) September 7, 2016 One of London’s biggest nightclubs is to shut after its licence was revoked, sparking an outpouring of shock and anger over the decision. Representatives of Fabric nightclub gathered at Islington Council to make their case for the popular venue to remain open, after police raised concerns about drugs on the premises.London Mayor Sadiq Khan criticised the decision to close the club and warned of the decline of the city’s nightlife.Mr Khan said he was “disappointed” that the club, council and Metropolitan Police had failed to reach an agreement, after police raised concerns about drugs on the premises. If you haven’t already, sign the petition #SaveFabric https://t.co/qdl5DgDcqW pic.twitter.com/CHsp0iF7dD— Ninja Tune (@ninjatune) September 6, 2016 Electronic duo Chase & Status labelled the decision “disgusting” in a series of tweets and called on Mr Khan to intervene: People don’t give enough respect to dance music. So many careers have been made and solidified because of fabric. #FabricReview— BABYBOI TECHNO (@HE_VALENCIA) September 7, 2016 The decision was met with anger by figures from the music world.Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw said the closure was a “real blow for the youth of London”:
Moore revealed little in the way of specifics about other shows, venturing only that Bake Off favourite Mary Berry, Sue Perkins, Mel Giedroyc and Nadiya Hussain will be working together on a soon-to-be-unveiled project. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Hardy was last on the BBC in Peaky Blinders “We only have to look back over the last year to know that television really matters,” Moore told an audience . “The channels continue to play a huge role in our lives. “Appointment to view, event TV is alive and well.“BBC One continues to unite us as a nation around the big, shared moments and bring families together to watch the highest quality TV.“It’s what audiences expect from us and it’s what we are all committed to.” Saturday nights usually make the most of glitzy TV entertainment shows like Strictly Fan favourite Casualty will be followed by gritty new drama Taboo Next year, she said, “we’re going to be experimenting, playing with form, increasing our breadth, our distinctive quality and range – and reflecting the diversity of modern Britain”.As part of that, Moore disclosed: “Taboo will follow from Tom Hardy, Ridley Scott and Steve Knight – re-inventing BBC drama in a new slot on Saturday nights“I have to say it’s such a thrill that Hollywood Talent like this choose to be on the BBC, we never take it for granted but it’s a real honour to work with the best talent in the business.” It was once the hallmark of a cosy Sunday night in, but BBC drama will next year make a foray into Saturday night television as it launches a new slot to catch viewers who choose to stay at home over a night on the town.The BBC has announced its new series Taboo will launch on a Saturday evening, in a move director of content Charlotte Moore called “re-inventing BBC drama”.The decision was partly inspired by the success of BBC Four’s European dramas, which have won over dedicated fans despite being shown mid-weekend.As more people choose to stay in on a Saturday night, Moore said she hoped to inspire families to watch television together with moments that “unite the nation”. Tom Hardy in Taboo, which will launch on Saturday nights It is understood the drama will be positioned post-Casualty in the new line up, as executive seek to carry over viewers from its more traditional Saturday night entertainment shows later into the evening.Taboo will star Hardy as James Delaney, an adventurer who returns to England from Africa, to avenge the death of his father with 14 stolen diamonds in tow. And while Netflix and Amazon channel mainstream television by providing a 24/7 subscription service, Moore insisted “appointment to view” TV, where people sit down at the same time every week to watch their favourite shows is still holding its own.In recent years, Saturday drama has largely been restricted to family favourites aired early in the evening, such as Doctor Who, and hardy perennial Casualty. Speaking at the launch of the corporation’s Christmas schedule on Thursday night, Moore added she also planned to “play with formats” across the week, with new entertainment shows to replace The Voice and the Great British Bake Off. Three of the four Bake Off stars will work with Nadiya Hussain on a new show Losing GBBO to Channel 4 and The Voice to ITV, she insisted, “presents us all with a fantastic creative opportunity to invest in more home grown ideas and discover the next generation of hits”.
Staffing on maternity wards was sometimes inadequately covered – but most worrying of all was the lack of a safe and secure environment for new born babiesProf Sir Mike Richards New mothers risk going home with the wrong baby due to chaotic maternity practices at the UK’s biggest hospital, inspectors have warned, after a report found some newborns were not given name tags.Some babies born at The Royal London Hospital had no name tags – which could lead to them going home with the wrong families or even being given medication meant for another baby, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said.Inspectors said there was “lax” practice of checking babies’ name bands, saying that this could create a “risk that a baby might receive medication intended for another baby, and mother might leave the unit with the wrong baby”.Even the head of midwifery at the hospital, in Whitechapel, East London, was unaware of a baby abduction policy, the regulator said. Inspectors found there were not enough midwives on the delivery suite to provide safe cover for all women.And midwives said they had been ordered by managers not to raise concerns about low staff numbers.There was a “mixed” view about how caring staff were – one mother told inspectors she was treated as “childish” because she was upset that her baby had been taken into special care.Inspectors, who visited the hospital in July this year, said they also observed some “intra-cultural issues and some bullying behaviour” both between groups of midwives and between midwives and patients.Doctors and midwives on the postnatal ward referred to patients by their bed numbers rather than by name, the CQC said.Last year 4,645 babies were born at The Royal London – the largest standalone acute hospital building in Europe.The CQC has ordered the Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, to “urgently” improve security in maternity after rating the service “inadequate”The Trust said it had already taken steps to address baby safety concerns – including the introduction of new baby ID tags.Overall the hospital was rated “requires improvement”. Some of the other issues highlighted in the report include:”Frequent problems with insufficient availability of sterile equipment in theatres”.A two-week backlog of outpatient appointments waiting to be booked – some patients waited for over a year for follow up appointments.The nutrition and hydration needs of patients were met, though in some busy departments this was enabled by relatives of patients.Nine “never events” were reported at the hospital between August 2015 and July 2016 – these are wholly preventable errors that occur in medical care. These blunders included: a surgeon leaving an object inside a patient after finishing an operation, a wrong tooth extraction, “wrong-site implants” and incorrect medication being given to a patient,During the inspection some patients in A&E had to wait 1 hour and 20 minutes for an initial assessment from a medic – even though national guidance suggests the majority of people should be assessed by a clinician within 15 minutes.Some medics had to complete mandatory training in their own time or as part of holiday leave.Professor Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, said: “We were most concerned about the standard of care around maternity and gynaecology services.”Staffing on maternity wards was sometimes inadequately covered – but most worrying of all was the lack of a safe and secure environment for new born babies.”At the time of our inspection, we raised this with the Royal London Hospital as a matter for their urgent attention.” Inspectors examined maternity services at the Royal London HospitalCredit:Warren Allott for The Telegraph A spokeswoman for the Trust said: “We acted immediately to improve the security of babies at The Royal London Hospital.”It’s important to stress that these reports are based on observations from five months ago – since then we have subjected our processes and procedures to forensic scrutiny.”As a result we’ve introduced new baby ID tags, we’ve reviewed our procedure for locking down the hospital and refreshed our policy.”We have recirculated our policy to all staff and now test it every single month. Women should be assured our services are safe and we will review our processes regularly to ensure they remain safe.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
While the majority of women came from outside the area, the men usually remained in the region of their birth.The researchers said the so-called “patrilocal” pattern combined with individual female mobility was not a temporary phenomenon, but persisted throughout the transition from the Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age.The findings, published in the journal PNAS, come from a research project headed by Professor Philipp Stockhammer of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich.Prof Stockhammer said: “We all know these stories about warrior men out fighting and bringing home food while the women and children stayed at home but it appears things were quite different.“Our study suggests that almost none of the men had travelled, while two thirds of the women had.”As well as an archaeological dig, the researchers conducted stable isotope and ancient DNA analyses.Prof Stockhammer added: “We have three types of molar in our mouths and they are mineralised at different ages.”Every soil has a different signature such as chalk or clay, and the water drunk from these different soils provides a different signature on the tooth, enabling us to have some indication of where they have been.”He said individual mobility was a “major feature” characterising the lives of people in Central Europe even in the third and early second millennium.The researchers suspect that it played a significant role in the exchange of cultural objects and ideas, which increased considerably in the Bronze Age, in turn promoting the development of new technologies.The study focused on settlements located in the Lech valley, south of Augsburg in present day Germany.Prof Stockhammer said that from an archaeological point of view, the new insights prove the importance of female mobility for cultural exchange in the Bronze Age, and also allow us to view the “immense extent” of early human mobility in a new light.He added: “It appears that at least part of what was previously believed to be migration by groups is based on an institutionalised form of individual mobility.”Doctor Alissa Mittnik, of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, said: “We see a great diversity of different female lineages, which would occur if over time many women relocated to the Lech Valley from somewhere else.”She said the burials of the women did not differ from that of the native population, indicating that the formerly “foreign” women were integrated into the local community. The concept that men stay at home while independent women venture out into the world is considered a rather modern phenomenon.But a study suggests that in fact, the practice was rooted in ancient times, when Bronze Age men stayed at home while adventurous women were the key to spreading culture and ideas.The research reveals that over a period of some 800 years, European women travelled between 300km and 500km from their home villages to start families, while men tended to stay near where they were born.German archaeologists examined the remains of 84 people buried between 2500 and 1650BC, discovering that at the end of the Stone Age and in the early Bronze Age, families were established in a surprising manner. European women travelled far from their home villages to start families, bringing new cultural objects and ideas Credit:Stadtarchäologie Augsburg / SWNS Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Bristol archaeologist Cat Jarman said: “The grave is very unusual. I don’t know of any examples of four young people buried in a single grave like this from anywhere else in England in this period.“They are also placed in unusual positions – two of them back-to-back – and they have a sheep jaw placed at their feet.“There are historical accounts from elsewhere in the Viking worlds suggesting human sacrifice may have formed part of Viking funeral.” The younger and older children had been buried back to backCredit:University of Bristol The body of a warrior holding a Viking sword and wearing a Thor pendant was also foundCredit:University of Bristol The grave contained the bodies of hundreds of men and womenCredit:University of Bristol The grave containing 300 people was first found by archaeologists Martin Biddle and Birthe Kjølbye-Biddle at St Wystan’s Church in Repton underneath a shallow mound in the vicarage garden.Among the bones were Viking weapons and artefacts, including an axe, several knives, and five silver pennies dating to the period 872-875 AD. 80 percent of the remains were men, mostly aged 18 to 45, with several showing signs of violent injury. But despite the evidence of Viking artefacts, initial radiocarbon dates suggested the bones spanned several centuries and so could not have been the remains of the army.However it turned out that the Viking’s high fish diet was responsible for the misleading results.Mrs Jarman added: “The previous radiocarbon dates from this site were all affected by something called marine reservoir effects, which is what made them seem too old.“When we eat fish or other marine foods, we incorporate carbon into our bones that is much older than in terrestrial foods.”This confuses radiocarbon dates from archaeological bone material and we need to correct for it by estimating how much seafood each individual ate.” A mass grave of Viking warriors found in Derbyshire was accompanied by slaughtered children in a burial ritual enacted to help the dead reach the afterlife, archaeologists believe.Experts from the University of Bristol have reexamined a huge pit of bones uncovered in the 1970s and 80s in Repton.Examinations at the the time suggested the grave spanned centuries, but new radiocarbon analysis has revealed the skeletons actually belong to soldiers from the Great Viking Army, which drove Burgred, the king of Mercia into exile in 873AD.The excavators also found four youngsters aged between eight and 18 buried together in a single grave with a sheep jaw at their feet, which they dated to the same period. At least two showed signs of traumatic injury suggesting they may have been sacrificed in a ritual to accompany the dead. The Great Viking Army, which was known to the Anglo-Saxons as The Great Heathen Army, was a coalition of warriors from Denmark, Sweden and Norway who came together to invade the four kingdoms of England in 865AD.They landed in East Anglia where they made peace with Edmund the Martyr in return for horses, before marching north to take York the following year. Over the next decade the Viking army spread to Wessex, where they were paid to leave by Alfred the Great, before marching on London and Northumbria.By 873AD they had reached Mercia and overwintered at Repton where they drove King Burgred out of the country and installed Cleowulf to govern the kingdom. Nearby a second double grave from the site contained two men, the older of whom was buried with a Thor’s hammer pendant and a Viking sword. He had received numerous fatal injuries including a large cut to his left femur.A boar’s tusk had been placed between his legs, and it has been suggested that the injury may have severed his penis or testicles, and the tust positioned to replace what he had lost in preparation for the afterworld. The grave was probably fallen warriors from The Great Viking Army Credit:Jane Barlow PA In the 10th century, an Arab Muslim writer named Ahmad ibn Fadlan, described the funeral of Swedish chieftain, in which a female servant volunteered to join him in the afterlife. She was given ‘intoxicating drinks’ before being stabbed to death and laid to rest by her master.
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Prince Harry and Meghan MarkleCredit:PA Ms Markle is understood to already have specialist police protection, ahead of marrying into the Royal family.While she has previously been the subject of racist abuse online, this is the first known physical threat aimed at her and her fiance Prince Harry.The letter and powder were addressed to the couple at St James’ Palace, arriving on Monday, February 12.The couple live at Kensington Palace, and made a trouble-free public appearance in Edinburgh the next day. Police are now investigating whether there is any link between the incident and a package send to the Houses of Parliament the following day, reported to have been addressed to Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary.That parcel also contained powder found to be harmless.A spokesman for the Met confirmed police are investigating “after a package containing a substance was delivered to St James’s Palace on Monday, 12 February”. “The substance was tested and confirmed as non suspicious,” he said. “Officers are also investigating an allegation of malicious communications which relates to the same package, and it is being treated as a racist hate crime.”Detectives are now investigating who sent the letter, and whether it is linked to white powder posted to the Palace of Westminster in the same week.”No arrests have yet been made.A spokesman for Kensington Palace declined to comment.The Malicious Communications Act 1988 outlines the offence of sending letters with intent to “cause distress or anxiety”, which includes sending threats or messages which are “indecent or grossly offensive”.Such messages directed at Ms Markle will be of significant personal concern to the Prince, who has previously defended his partner against a “wave of abuse and harassment”. Security has been of paramount concern in the lead-up to the Windsor Castle wedding in May, where the couple are due to take a carriage ride through the streets to allow as many well-wishers as possible to see them.The Windsor destination is considered easier to police than the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s London wedding in 2011, which saw them travel between Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace.Then, it was said, the Met embarked on the “biggest security operation in a generation” with 5,000 police officers, snipers on rooftops and undercover officers mingling with crowds devoted to keeping the day running smoothly. In November 2016, he issued an unusual statement detailing “racial undertones” in some sections of the press, and the “outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments”.“Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her,” his communications secretary said then. The Royal Family has been caught up in an anthrax scare after a racist poison pen letter containing white powder was allegedly posted to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.Police are investigating the suspect package, treating it as a “racist hate crime”, after it was sent to St James’ Palace last week.The letter was opened by a member of staff and intercepted before it reached the Prince and Ms Markle, with specialist officers called in to investigate.Tests confirmed that the powder was harmless, with the couple informed about what had happened.The episode will likely leave members of the Royal Household deeply concerned about security ahead of the Royal wedding on May 19th, with the couple due to make several public appearances before then.
The case of a severely epileptic child who had his cannabis medicine confiscated by the Home Office has renewed debate about the UK’s strict medical marijuana laws. On Friday night the Home Office said it was in contact… His mother Charlotte told Sky News she was “absolutely devastated” that her son’s “brutal condition” had “returned with a vengeance”, adding: “He’s a beautiful, sweet, innocent wee boy who doesn’t deserve this callous treatment.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Billy Caldwell, 12, was admitted to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London on Friday after his seizures “intensified”, a family statement said. She has said the Home Office will be held accountable if he dies, calling its actions “beyond cruelty”.
Police cordon off the scene of the crash in the early hours of WednesdayCredit:Al-Majlis Al-Hussaini/Instagram Chief Superintendent Simon Rose said: “At around half past midnight volunteer stewards challenged a small group of individuals.”They were subjected to a tirade of Islamophobic and racist abuse and an altercation then took place. The people who had been challenged then drove at members of the community in a car.”The car mounted the pavement twice and two people have been seriously hurt. Their injuries are not believed to be life threatening. The vehicle then drove off and was involved in a fail-to-stop accident.”It is being dealt with as a critical incident. It is being dealt with as an Islamophobic hate crime and it is being dealt with as a racist hate crime.”It is not at this time being dealt with as a counter-terrorism incident, as always subject to continuous review. We were extremely fortunate there was no loss of life.” Police outside The Hussaini Association in Oxgate Lane, Cricklewood, on Wednesday morningCredit:John Stillwell /PA The Muslim Council for Britain said in response to the crash: “Our prayers are with those who have been injured and all those affected, and urge all those who have any information about the incident to speak to the police.” “The car then drove near the centre and the occupants were involved in a confrontation with a large group of people visiting the centre.”The car then reportedly sustained minor damage by some of those outside the centre. It proceeded to make off at speed colliding with three individuals as it left.”The statement added: “The car and its occupants, who failed to stop and injured three people, are being sought by police. No arrests have been made.” Two men in their 20s were taken to hospital for minor injuries. A man in his 50s remains in hospital and is being treated for a serious leg injury.Scotland Yard said that just after midnight, security at the Muslim community centre “were informed of occupants in a car behaving anti-socially, drinking and allegedly using drugs”. In a statement said: “The occupants of the car – three males and a woman all aged in their mid-20s – were asked to leave the private car park. An injured man is treated by emergency services in north-west London Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Three people have been injured after a car mounted a pavement and hit a crowd outside a London mosque in an Islamophobic hate crime attack after being subjected to a ‘tirade of racist abuse’.Police said “a number of pedestrians” were struck by the vehicle in Cricklewood in the early hours of Wednesday after Islamophobic comments were allegedly made by the occupants.There were claims that the car, reportedly a Nissan Juke SUV, had swerved before knocking down a group leaving the Muslim prayer centre following a confrontation, which Scotland Yard described as an Islamophobic and racist hate crime.Speaking at the scene on Wednesday afternoon, Chief Superintendent Simon Rose of the Metropolitan Police said it was “extremely fortunate” nobody had died and that the victims were “subjected to a tirade of Islamophobic and racist abuse”.The Hussaini Association, which had organised a lecture at the mosque near Edgware Road, described it as a “suspected premeditated Islamophobic attack”, adding that the driver and passengers were heard “shouting anti-Islamic taunts at the crowd”.Taunts of “dirty Muslims” could allegedly be heard coming from the car, which contained three men and one woman, according to head of security Hassan Naddi.The Metropolitan Police said the driver failed to stop. Officers are not treating it as terrorist-related but “the hate crime aspect of the collision is being looked at by detectives as an aggravating factor”. In a statement posted on social media, The Hussaini Association, said: “Patrons attending the annual Al Hussaini Majlis in Cricklewood were indiscriminately mown down in a suspected premeditated Islamophobic attack last night.”The group said a red Nissan Juke “swerved into innocent bystanders, hitting at least five people of which three were seriously injured”.”They were heard shouting anti Islamic taunts at the crowd before they started their attack. Fortunately, a number of volunteers bravely stood between the speeding vehicle and patrons heading home. “These acts of bravery potentially saved the lives of dozens of innocent people from being taken.”In its statement, a spokesman for The Hussaini Association said: “We are in deep shock at such an attack taking place on our community but remain proud to live in a diverse and tolerant society and as such we remain unintimidated and encourage all to continue to attend the Majlis (gathering) of Hussein – a man who defied a tyrant to deliver a message of love, unity and patience which we remember to this day.” Emergency services were called to Oxgate Lane, in north west London, at about 12.35am. Several pedestrians had been struck by the vehicle.