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The Sports Report: Rams makes some coaching staff changes

Los Angeles Rams v Dallas Cowboys
Wade Phillips
(Richard Rodriguez / Getty Images)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

RAMS

On Monday, Rams coach Sean McVay informed defensive coordinator Wade Phillips that his contract would not be renewed.

In a statement, McVay said: “Coach Wade has been a veteran voice in heading our defense for the past three seasons. His wealth of experience, sound advice and helpful demeanor has been invaluable to our coaches and players, and also has set an example for me as a head coach and a leader of men. I thank Coach Phillips for his numerous contributions to the Los Angeles Rams and our community, and I wish he, his wife Laurie, and the rest of the Phillips family the best.”

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In a tweet, Phillips thanked the Rams for the opportunity “to be a part of their success” and also the players “who I loved” working with.

“I still want to coach,” he wrote, “and feel I can contribute.”

McVay also made a move on offense by not retaining running backs coach Skip Peete, a holdover from Jeff Fisher’s former staff.

The decision not to retain Phillips was the first major move by McVay since the Rams finished a disappointing season that saw them fall prey to the malaise that has afflicted so many teams the season after losing a Super Bowl. A defeat to the San Francisco 49ers in the second-to-last game ensured that the Rams would not roll with playoff momentum into the new SoFi Stadium next season.

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The Rams, operating in the 3-4 scheme favored by Phillips, ranked 13th in total defense after giving up 339.6 yards per game this season. They were 12th in pass defense (226.6 yards per game), 19th in rushing defense (113.1 yards per game) and 17th in scoring defense (22.8 points per game).

WHERE’S TOM GOING?

Tom Brady is set to become a free agent for the first time in his NFL career. Oddsmakers seem to think Brady will most likely spend next season in the same place he has spent the previous 20.

Sportsbetting.ag is giving 1-2 odds that Brady will be on New England’s roster for Week 1 of the 2020 season. After all, the Patriots don’t seem to have a Plan B at this point, unless they consider Jarrett Stidham, a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft, to be their quarterback of the future.

The website is giving 3-1 odds that Brady will not be back with the Patriots, with the other top potential landing spots for the three-time NFL most valuable player being the Cleveland Browns (11-2), Carolina Panthers (6-1), Las Vegas Raiders (6-1) and Chargers (6-1).

Why those teams? Josh McDaniels, who has been the Patriots’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for much of Brady’s career, is considered a leading candidate for the coaching vacancies in Cleveland and Carolina. And the other two teams are moving to new stadiums next season, with the Raiders looking to make a splash in a new city and the Chargers still seeking a foothold in the Los Angeles market.

The Dallas Cowboys are right behind those teams (7-1), with quarterback Dak Prescott set to become a free agent following a disappointing 8-8 season.

The team considered least likely to sign Brady is the Washington Redskins (33-1). Others who don’t seem to be in the market include the Rams, Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers, all listed at 25-1 odds.

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NFL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

Divisional Round

Saturday

Minnesota at San Francisco, 1:30 p.m., NBC

Tennessee at Baltimore, 5:15 p.m., CBS

Sunday

Houston at Kansas City, Noon, CBS

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Seattle at Green Bay, 3:30 p.m., FOX

Conference Championship

Sunday, Jan. 19

TBD at TBD, Noon, CBS

TBD at TBD, 3:30 p.m., FOX

Super Bowl

Sunday Feb. 2

TBD vs. TBD, 3:30 p.m., FOX

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Bryce Young, the Los Angeles Times regional player of the year and also Gatorade state player of the year as quarterback for Mater Dei, and he was most valuable player of the All-American Bowl on Saturday in San Antonio. Now, as a freshman, he could be in position to take the reins of one of college football’s superpowers.

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa announced Monday that he will to skip his senior season and make himself eligible for the NFL draft.

With Tagovailoa out of the picture, Young will compete this spring with backup Mac Jones and Tagovailoa’s younger brother, Taulia. Jones started four games and led Alabama to a Citrus Bowl victory over Michigan. Alabama is set to open the 2020 season Sept. 5 in Arlington, Texas, against USC, the school Young committed to orally before changing his mind and settling on Alabama.

“He’s excited for Tua and is also excited for the opportunity to compete,” Craig Young, Bryce’s father, said Monday. “When he came to enroll yesterday, he had no idea what the decision would be either way. [Tua] was reconciling staying or going and the pros and cons. With him going, Bryce knows he has the opportunity to compete.”

KINGS

Anze Kopitar looked around, seemingly confused. Ben Hutton fished the puck out of his own net. Jonathan Quick slowly climbed back to his feet.

The Kings were barely past the midway point of their 4-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Staples Center on Monday, yet it was already apparent that another long night was beginning to set in.

Monday’s game started brightly enough for the Kings. They led in shots, and for long stretches of the night felt like they were controlling play. They scored on their second shift – a close-range finish from Alex Iafallo, who extended his point streak to seven games – and mounted a furious late comeback effort after a third-period Sean Walker goal trimmed their deficit to one.

In between, they didn’t exactly play poorly either. But two second-period defensive-zone breakdowns in a matter of minutes cost them.

The first came at the 6:53 mark of the middle frame, when Blue Jackets forward Nathan Gerbe found open space in the high slot and slapped a one-timer past a partially screen Quick. Less than four minutes later, Blue Jackets defenseman Scott Harrington snuck toward the net unchecked and buried a backdoor pass that left Kopitar, Hutton, Quick and the rest of the Kings in a state of familiar confusion.

An early third-period goal from Blue Jackets forward Kevin Stenlund ultimately put the game out of reach, ensuring the Kings will do no better than .500 on a four-game homestand that offered the opportunity for a midseason winning streak. Instead, the Kings skated off home ice in a state of contemplation again, wondering how they let another winnable game slip away.

NHL Western Conference playoff standings

Top three teams in each division plus the next two teams in terms of total points in the conference earn wild-card spots.

Central Division

1. St. Louis, 26-10-7, 59 points

2. Colorado, 25-14-4, 54 points

3. Dallas, 24-14-4, 52 points

4. Winnipeg, 23-16-4, 50 points

5. Minnesota, 20-17-6, 46 points

6. Nashville, 19-15-7, 45 points

7. Chicago, 19-18-6, 44 points

Pacific Division

1. Vegas, 24-15-6, 54 points

2. Arizona, 24-16-4, 52 points

3. Edmonton, 23-17-5, 51 points

4. Vancouver, 23-15-4, 50 points

5. Calgary, 22-17-5, 49 points

6. San Jose, 19-21-4, 42 points

7. Ducks, 17-20-5, 39 points

8. Kings, 17-23-4, 38 points

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

New York at Lakers, 7:30 p.m., Spectrum Sportsnet, 710 ESPN

Columbus at Ducks, 7 p.m., PRIME, AM 830

BORN ON THIS DATE

1913: Baseball player Johnny Mize (d. 1993)

1914: Basketball player Bobby McDermott (d. 1963)

1922: Baseball player/manager Alvin Dark (d. 2014)

1938: Golfer Lou Graham

1943: Former Dodger Jim Lefebvre

1945: Baseball player Tony Conigliaro (d. 1990)

1966: Hockey player Randy Burridge

1967: Former Duck Guy Hebert

1973: Football player Bobby Engram

1976: Former Dodger Eric Gagne

1976: Baseball player Alfonso Soriano

1982: Former Angel Francisco Rodriguez

1983: Golfer Natalie Gulbis

1985: Race car driver Lewis Hamilton

1991: Runner Caster Semenya

DIED ON THIS DATE

1990: Football player/wrestler Bronko Nagurski, 81

AND FINALLY

Tony Conigliaro homers in his first at-bat at Fenway Park. Watch it here.

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. If you want to subscribe, click here


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