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Good morning! Watch out for Chris Boucher flying overhead today.
The measurable data was bad enough: Russell Wilson, a nine-time Pro Bowler, crumbled in his first year outside Seattle. A 5-12 record and frankly horrendous play turned what many thought would be a good team into a laughingstock. And there was also the $245 million contract.
Somehow, it got worse than that, according to a bombshell report this morning by Kalyn Kahler, Jayson Jenks and Mike Sando, who spoke to more than 15 players, coaches and staffers for the story. The juicy details are mind-blowing:
- Prior to the trade, Wilson asked Seahawks ownership to fire head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. The quarterback was convinced that those two were hindering his chances of success. He even had a favorite coach in mind: Sean Payton. Days later, Seattle dealt Wilson out to Denver.
- There, Wilson installed his own support staff alongside Broncos personnel. Wilson had his own office too, which blurred the lines between manager and player, in a bad way. Wilson even brought in his own quarterback coach, Jake Heaps. Who was Wilson listening to? Piles? Or Nathaniel Hackett, the coach best known for coaching QBs? And what about current Broncos quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak? It looks like a disaster.
- Wilson even asked offensive players to enter the facility on Tuesdays – the only day players are free during in-game weeks – for “state of the union” meetings, which usually included film sessions. Wilson and Heaps ran these meetings. Some players said they were helpful, while others thought they were weird.
Wilson got his wish in a way: Payton is the new head coach of the Broncos and has already said that Heaps and other members of Wilson’s staff will not have a significant presence within the facility.
The full story is worth your time.
The inevitable Jayhawks
There was a time this season where Kansas didn’t live up to its name. Three straight January losses had us wondering if the reigning Big 12 overlord had lost control of an admittedly deep conference. Fast forward to today and Kansas is looking as Jayhawk-y as ever.
- Bill Self’s team has won six consecutive times, including wins over two top 10 teams. A sensational victory last Saturday against No. 9 Baylor was the exclamation point.
- As Eamonn Brennan points out in his weekly power rankings, Kansas has a real shot at earning the #1 seed. The Jayhawks’ 14 Quad 1 wins are the most any team has had before draft Sunday since the NET standings began. They could be 16 before the time slots are revealed.
With 10 Quad 1 wins, Texas isn’t far behind, great for second place in the country. The Longhorns still have a shot at winning the Big 12 as well.
Catch up on the latest Bubble Watch here, which has six Big 12 teams comfortably in it and as many as eight in the bracket. There are three weeks left on the Sunday of the selections.
Welcome back VanceSpeaking of those Broncos: Denver hired Vance Joseph — the team’s head coach from 2017-18 — as their new defensive coordinator. The fit is solid. Joseph is one of the most respected defensive minds in the game and inherits a top 10 unit. Nick Kosmider writes that Joseph’s return is the right move for all involved.
Do falcons move fast?Two days after firing Nate McMillan, the Hawks are focusing on Quin Snyder as his replacement, sources told Shams Charania. Snyder is arguably the best coach on the market and hiring before the end of the season would be a major win for a talented but troubled Atlanta team. If he’s hired, Snyder’s first order of business: figure out how to handle Trae Young.
Rams, Wagner part waysBobby Wagner will be a free agent, sources told Jourdan Rodrigue, after he and the Rams agreed to part ways at the start of the league year. Wagner joined the Rams last season after spending his first 10 in Seattle, and he’s been a constant force on a decidedly volatile team. Wagner should be in great demand.
Things you must see
Chris Boucher takes off
Taking off around the free throw line seems to be something that only happens in dunk contest. Chris Boucher decided that his poster would be organic last night. Just look at it:
IT TAKEN OFF IN MONTREAL. He landed in Toronto.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) February 24, 2023
The Raptors are quietly one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now. Just a few weeks ago, it looked like they were going to be sellers at the trade deadline. They have now won six out of seven and sit firmly in the Play-In tournament with the momentum to move higher up the ladder.
Jayson Stark reports that MLB is refocusing on enforcing “sticky stuff” this year. I hope you enjoy all those referee inspections.
David Aldrigde writes a strong column about Eric Bienemy’s arrival in Washington that speaks volumes about a league that has refused to promote the decorated offensive mastermind.
Jim Harbaugh says he plans to stay at Michigan “as long as Michigan wants me here,” while making sure he evaluates his future on an annual basis. Get ready for more NFL rumors in the upcoming offseason.
Matt Gelb has a great piece on Noah Song’s first day at Phillies camp, where everyone, even the stars, is curious to see the former Navy pilot.
When a player is traded, what happens to all that free gear they can’t wear anymore? Mark Lazerus investigates.
A test that can actually predict NFL success? Meet the S2 Cognition test, which predicted Brock Purdy’s rise before anyone else.
Dana O’Neil writes a heartbreaking column about a mother’s wail as shootings engulf her children in East Lansing and Tuscaloosa.
MLS executives make their picks for next season. The consensus: buy your Union shares now.
(Photo: Ron Chenoy/USA Today)