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The Canadian Press

On Football: The search for a new coach in several cities

Three NFL coaching jobs already are open, and another three or four soon could be. While it happens every year, coaching searches are different depending on the team seeking a new guy to take charge.Some clubs seek a veteran pro coach, like Washington and Dallas did after last season with Mike McCarthy and Ron Rivera. Others look to rising assistants and co-ordinators — the Giants’ Joe Judge and the Browns’ Kevin Stefanski fit there.Or NFL teams turn to the college ranks, which Carolina did for Matt Rhule, who was coveted by several other franchises, too.The league hopes more minority coaches get a shot at the openings in Houston and Atlanta, where coincidentally, African Americans Romeo Crennel and Raheem Morris currently are the interim coaches. It even has expanded the Rooney Rule designed to provide more opportunities for minority candidates for coaching, general manager and other executive positions.Most important, of course, is finding the right fit.“The biggest thing is can you get everyone on board with how you want to do things, or do you have to fit into how they do things,” Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy says. “The biggest issue in Dallas, for example, there is a culture there you might not be able to change a lot about it because it is already set. Think back to Oakland when Al Davis was alive. He mostly didn’t hire people from outside, and when he did, with Mike Shanahan it didn’t go well. When he hired Jon Gruden, it didn’t go well at first.“So those are talks you have to have as a head coach going in.”Talks already have begun for the Texans, Falcons and Lions. Soon, we can expect the Jets to be done with Adam Gase and the Jaguars to release Doug Marrone. Two AFC West openings are possible if the Chargers part with Anthony Lynn and the Broncos dismiss Vic Fangio.Then there can be the surprises, with a coach stepping aside unexpectedly. Might Andy Reid look to retire should the Chiefs, right now the NFL’s best team, repeat as Super Bowl champions? Does Bill Belichick not relish the rebuilding job ahead in New England now that the Patriots are also-rans with Tom Brady in Tampa?As we close in on the conclusion of a pandemic-impacted 2020 season, here’s a look at the three teams on the coaching carousel, and the two most likely to jump aboard in early January.HOUSTONOne of the most disappointing teams this season, the Texans fired Bill O’Brien, by far their most successful coach, after an 0-4 start. O’Brien was sent packing as much for his failures as a general manager — who didn’t think the trade of DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona would backfire for Houston? — as his coaching struggles.The Texans have superb Deshaun Watson at quarterback. He doesn’t have nearly enough help, though, and the merry-go-round of roster changes hasn’t helped. Despite having J.J. Watt healthy and playing pretty well, the defence is a mess.Houston’s best route could be a defence-minded head coach who hires an imaginative offensive co-ordinator.ATLANTAThere’s loads of talent on offence, though signing Todd Gurley has not worked out well. Matt Ryan remains a solid quarterback and Calvin Ridley has emerged as a top receiver. But the O-line has been spotty (to be kind).Another team with defensive issues, the Falcons need a major upgrade in the secondary and the pass rush. Morris has done a good job in getting things upright, though Atlanta is very fragile in close games.Like in Houston, a defence-oriented head coach such as San Francisco’s Robert Saleh makes sense. But so did Dan Quinn, and the Falcons fell apart after their Super Bowl collapse.DETROITYou have to feel for Matthew Stafford, a real trouper who has been undone by mismanagement as much as poor coaching. Whether he is still in Detroit in 2021 or elsewhere, the Lions would be wise to find someone with NFL head coaching experience.Of course, that’s what they had in Jim Caldwell, who went 36-30 in four seasons. Matt Patricia was 13-29-1 before being canned last month.JACKSONVILLEDon’t laugh, but this is an attractive job. Yes, the Jaguars have hit rock bottom under the direction of Tom Coughlin (fired last December), Dave Caldwell and Marrone. They likely will have the No. 1 overall draft choice — Hello, Trevor Lawrence — and have tons of salary-cap room. There’s a nice base of young players.The Jags could go in several directions for a coach, and seeing them turn to a top college guy like Rhule would not be a surprise. But such top pro offensive assistants as Kansas City’s Eric Bieniemy, Seattle’s Brian Schottenheimer and Buffalo’s Brian Daboll would make sense.NEW YORK JETSGase’s two-year stint began with a 7-9 season in which the Jets and QB Sam Darnold made late strides. Then 2020 became a debacle in which the team has looked rudderless, Darnold has stagnated or regressed — it’s difficult to tell given all his injuries — and the talent base has shrunk significantly. Even the Jags seem to have a stronger roster.The Jets would be wise to turn to a former NFL head coach with a pedigree; no, we didn’t say Jim Harbaugh, who likely is not abandoning Michigan. They need a QB guru, too, and someone who can handle the, uh, complications that come with working for this organization.And, thanks to actually winning a game, Lawrence almost certainly is not on the way.___More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFLBarry Wilner, The Associated Press

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Sinclair to lead Canadian women’s team in her fourth Olympics

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Christine Sinclair, the all-time international goal-scoring record holder, was named to her fourth Olympic squad on Wednesday and will headline a Canadian roster at the Tokyo Games that features a mix of veterans and youth.

Led by Sinclair, whose 186 goals for her country are the most by a female or male soccer player worldwide, Canada won medals at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and was the only nation to make the podium in both competitions.

“I am looking forward to doing whatever I can to help take this team back to the podium and make history again,” said Canadian captain Sinclair. “Our team is in a good spot, we are excited, we are hungry and we are ready to go.”

The 18-player roster features 12 members of the squad that competed at the 2016 Rio Games while a quintet including Vanessa Gilles, Jayde Riviere, Julia Grosso, Adriana Leon, and Evelyne Viens will be making their Olympic debuts.

Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan travelled to Rio in 2016 as an alternate.

Canada will kick off their Tokyo 2020 journey when they face Japan on July 21 and continue Group E play against Chile on July 24 and Britain on July 27.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Which of the Canadians Picked in the 2021 NFL Draft Will Thrive This Season?

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It was a good NFL Draft for Canadian players in 2021.

Some four stars from north of the border were selected by NFL franchises in the free agency pick ‘em, and that is tied as the highest number of Canadians drafted in the 85-year history of the event.

Of course, the hope is that these young talents are more than just filler and roster depth, but can any of the quartet make the breakthrough into the big time?

Here’s a look at which of the NFL’s newest Canadian additions can shine in 2021/22.

Jevon Holland

The defensive back was the number 36 pick in the Draft by the Miami Dolphins, who beat off a number of rivals in the hunt for the Coquitlam native.

A versatile defender, Holland is a former Jim Thorpe Award semi-finalist thanks to his exploits in the NCAA back in 2019 with the University of Oregon.

He sat out the 2020 campaign, but representatives from dozens of NFL teams were in town to watch Holland go through his paces at the Oregon Pro Day.

The 21-year-old is following in the footsteps of his father Robert, who turned out for the Detroit Lions, and he is expected to force his way into the starting line-up at the Dolphins. And, who knows, maybe Holland could go all the way in his first season, with Miami priced at +2500 in the Super Bowl 2022 American football odds.

Benjamin St-Juste

When you’re six foot three, 205 pounds and still able to run 40 yards in 4.51 seconds, it goes without saying that you have the physical credentials to succeed in the NFL.

Benjamin St-Juste is the man that can, and he will bolster the roster at a Washington Football Team that will be looking to improve upon their playoff showing in 2020.

The 23-year-old may only have been a third-round pick, but he comes with a burgeoning reputation thanks to a successful time at the University of Minnesota. An All-Big Ten special mention in 2019, more than 50 NFL recruitment personnel attended the college’s pro day – largely to catch a glimpse of St-Juste going through his paces.

Both Brian Gutekunst and Jon Robinson made the trip but, in the end, it was Washington who snapped up the powerhouse from the Draft.

Chuba Hubbard

The third Canadian to be drafted in 2021 was Chuba Hubbard, who became the first Canadian running back to be selected from the Draft in 25 years.

It’s the Carolina Panthers who have taken a chance on the 22-year-old and with his credentials, you can see why. Hubbard finished eighth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 2019 after a stellar campaign – he served up 2,094 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, an NCAA best. He was named the Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

While running backs are not the hottest of properties in the Draft, Hubbard provably has the talent to cross into the end zone with regularity – the Panthers might just have got their hands on an unheralded gem here.

With these three Canadians taking the step up to the NFL, the future of the sport north of the border looks in safe hands.

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Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s

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Andy Murray‘s grasscourt return was cut short in brutal fashion at Queen’s Club as Italian top seed Matteo Berrettini dished out a 6-3 6-3 defeat to the former world number one on Thursday.

The 34-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion, playing in his first singles tournament on grass for three years, could not handle the ferocious pace of Berrettini as he slid to defeat.

Murray eased past Benoit Paire in his opening match on Tuesday but world number nine Berrettini was too big a step up.

Berrettini’s huge first serve and forehand did most of the damage but the Italian also showed plenty of silky touch on the slick lawns to register his first career win over Murray.

Berrettini, 25, finished the match off with a powerful hold of serve, banging down four massive first serves before sealing victory with a clubbing forehand winner.

He faces British number one Dan Evans in the quarter-final after Evans beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

Murray, a five-time winner of the traditional warm-up event but now ranked 124 after long battles with hip injuries including resurfacing surgery in 2019, has been handed a wildcard for the Wimbledon championships.

Apart from a slight groin niggle, Murray said he was reasonably happy with his condition, considering this was only his third Tour-level tournament of the year.

“I think obviously I need to improve,” Murray told reporters. “I actually felt my movement was actually quite good for both of the matches. My tennis today was not very good today. That’s the thing that I’ll need to improve the most.

“I felt like today that that sort of showed my lack of matches.”

Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who won the singles title in 2019 and the doubles alongside Murray, was beaten 6-2 6-3 by Canada‘s Denis Shapovalov.

(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)

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