Thursday, March 14, 2019

Bengals' free-agent philosophy: Active if the price is right

The Cincinnati Bengals are never the team to make a splash signing within minutes of free agency opening. They prefer to sit back and wait for some better deals while building through the draft. That’s why it was somewhat of a surprise to see the Bengals trade for left tackle Cordy Glenn right before the free-agency period last year. Glenn came with one of the biggest cap numbers on the team, which essentially meant the Bengals went silent in free agency afterward, save for the addition of linebacker Preston Brown and tackle Bobby Hart. Teddy, Earl and Le'Veon will be available. Here's everything to know on the class.• Live tracker: Every notable deal »• Barnwell's grades: Tracking big moves »• Free-agency guide: Who to know »• Salary-cap space for all 32 teams »• Ranking the top 100 NFL free agents »• Predicting contract terms for top 20 »• One free agent each team must sign » More NFL coverage » With free agency cranking up again when the new league year opens on Wednesday, it’s unlikely to see their general philosophy change, even with a new coaching staff in place. While the Bengals appear to have around $50 million in cap space, that's not quite how they view it. The Bengals typically have a policy to use their carryover money each year for their players’ extensions, while also helping with things like incentives. That number would have come in handy in 2018 had tight end Tyler Eifert and linebacker Vontaze Burfict maxed out the incentives in their contracts. Because both players left significant money on the table, the Bengals were able to carry over about $8 million. They’ll likely set that aside for upcoming extensions for receivers Tyler Boyd and A.J. Green. Taking into account money for draft picks and expenses throughout the year, it’s likely about half of that initial $50 million is available to spend in free agency. The Bengals also keep a heavy eye on the compensatory-picks formula. Because players who were released by their former team don’t count toward the formula, it certainly makes those players more attractive to pick up in free agency. That's one of the reasons the Bengals made a bid to get former Panthers safety Kurt Coleman last year. If the Bengals wanted to open more cap room, they could release or attempt to trade Burfict. His exit would save about $6.8 million against the cap, but that seems unlikely unless they already had a plan to target another linebacker in free agency. Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks could be an intriguing option for the Bengals in free agency. Winslow TownsonAP Images for Panini Releasing Dre Kirkpatrick would also free up $6.7 million in room, but that's also unlikely. The Bengals like Kirkpatrick and there's no way they would let him go when they stand a good chance to lose slot corner Darqueze Dennard, who is likely to pursue a contract that would pay him as an outside cornerback. Beyond those two and William Jackson III, the Bengals have no depth there. Additionally, releasing players early to free up space has never been the Bengals’ style. So what does that mean for the Bengals? Their need for a linebacker has become quite clear after several years of one-year stopgaps. Brown was not necessarily intending to play on a one-year deal, but he bet on himself and returned to his hometown. Another one-year deal would likely be a possibility going forward. While Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley could become available, it’s unlikely the Bengals would want to be in a bidding war for him. With the price he’d command, the Bengals wouldn’t be able to do much else in free agency. Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks is another intriguing option, but it's hard to tell what the market would be for him due to his injury history. A player like Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander, who is coming off an ACL tear and has ties to new Bengals assistant Mark Duffner, could make more sense provided his price doesn’t go through the roof. Offensive line would likely be the other main priority. The Bengals aren't likely to target any high-priced cornerbacks or safeties and they're set at running back. If they were to look for a quarterback, it would be in a veteran backup capacity. Considering they have Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap under contract for several years, and up-and-comers like Sam Hubbard and Carl Lawson, they seem pretty set there as well. Longtime defensive end Michael Johnson is set to become a free agent, and it would be surprising to see him return to Cincinnati as anything other than a backup. The Bengals won't be silent in free agency this year, but expect more of the same as last year: Priority regarding re-signing their own players, a mid-tier free agent or two, and maybe one minor splash. They might have a new coaching staff, but the team isn't suddenly going to change how it has operated for several years because of that.

Why Young Stars, Renewed Discipline & Refreshed Philosophy Can Lead Real Madrid Forward Next Season 

Denis DoyleImages Real Madrid v Ajax - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg ​Real Madrid are in the midst of a campaign which has fared just about as badly as it gets by their famously lofty standards. Sometimes, though, things have to get worse before they get better. Los Blancos had reached the stars at the end of last season as they claimed their 13th European crown, but perhaps the most difficult task in football is to improve a side that is already at the top of the game. Cracks began to show last season as Zinedine Zidane’s side slipped to a third-place finish in La Liga, 17 points adrift of champions ​Barcelona and three behind local rivals ​Atletico Madrid. In that sense, the Champions League success was heroic compensation for an ageing side for which the wheels were already coming off. The exits of both Zinedine Zidane and ​Cristiano Ronaldo suggested that the two club greats were aware that times were set to change. This season has not been dissimilar for Los Blancos under the fractured management setup with Santiago Solari now at the helm. ​Madrid are once again third in La Liga, well adrift of leaders Barcelona and comfortably short of Atletico Madrid’s consistency once more. Following their recent 4-1 humbling at home to Ajax, though, there will be no Champions League triumph to paper over the cracks this term. Madrid’s capitulation in the competition which has been their saving grace in recent years suggested that not only had a greatly successful team’s cycle come to an end, but also that perhaps their three-year reign as European champions somewhat flattered them. The likes of ​Toni Kroos, ​Luka Modric, ​Karim Benzema and even ​Gareth Bale are highly decorated champions with legendary status’ now cemented at the club, but the defeat to Ajax proved that they were some way short of the physical and competitive levels required. GABRIEL BOUYSImages FBL-EUR-C1-REAL MADRID-AJAX-PRESS At best, those such players seemed to be going through the motions and were exploited by a bright and vibrant Ajax side, as the modern game demands a level of intensity and team unity which Madrid simply do not have. Even in previous years under Zidane, there was often a sense that the European champions were more a collection of superstar individuals than a genuine collective, and that has largely been behind Madrid’s shortcomings over the long-haul of recent La Liga campaigns. Individual quality was often over-depended on during numerous years of what may be referred to as the ‘Ronaldo era’ at the Bernabeu. With those star names afforded the comforts of previous successes and Ronaldo now departed, Madrid’s weaknesses as a team have been exploited, most emblematically by a highly-charged team of Ajax’s rising stars. However, there are positives to be taken from Madrid’s current situation and there is much to suggest that the club are in a fine position to rebuild, regenerate and go again as a premium force of European once again next season. One of the main positives of this season under the guidance of Santi Solari has been the promotion of young talent in the first team. Alex CaparrosImages Vinicius JR Solari’s reign at the Bernabeu will certainly not go down as a success, but perhaps his greatest legacy will be having blooded the likes of Vinicius Junior and Sergio Reguilon as regulars in the Madrid setup, putting them on course for stardom at the Bernabeu. It has often been a bold measure from the former Madrid winger, uprooting Marcelo from his previously unchallenged role as first choice left back in favour of the previously untried Reguilon, whilst Vinicius has been favoured over the likes of ​Isco, ​Marco Asensio and Bale. Unsurprisingly, at a time in which Madrid’s more established stars are failing to deliver, such young players have often been the brightest points in Los Blancos’ performances under Solari. Meanwhile, the likes of Asensio and January signing Brahim Diaz provide further stardust in what is a bright crop of promising young talent, the likes of which has not been seen for many years at the Bernabeu in yet another era of galacticos. The rising stars of Madrid’s ranks may not yet be of the same pedigree as the superstar names that the club have become accustomed to signing in recent years, but they do possess the kind of youthful energy and desire which Madrid have sorely lacked recently. Continuing the turnover of the squad and giving chances to the next generation is a crucial part of Madrid’s next step, whilst the club are always guaranteed to have vast sums at their disposal to plug the gaps and sprinkle extra stardust from the transfer market. Gonzalo Arroyo MorenoImages Sergio Reguilon,Karim Benzema,Gareth Bale,Vinicius Junior Another necessity for the club is finding a coach capable of leading the club into a new era with a refreshed identity and vision with which to move forward. Any top club needs a clear identity and tactical vision in order to succeed over the full course of a season, particularly to live up to the standards set by a club of Madrid’s stature. Rumours have gathered pace recently that the club are looking to bring back Jose Mourinho to take the reins at the Bernabeu once more, and the Portuguese’s strict management style could be exactly what is needed to reboot an underperforming side. Things may have gone wrong in Mourinho’s final campaign at ​Manchester United, but the two-time Champions League winner would be capable of instilling the kind of regimented tactical approach and clear philosophy which has been sorely missing from the club recently. The arrival of Mourinho is the kind of appointment which can galvanise a club, and that kind of boost is exactly what Los Blancos require after the disappointments of this season. Overall, the appointment of a new star manager and the continued development of a promising crop of young stars are the vital next steps which Real Madrid must take in order to revitalise the club and return the team among the top sides in Europe. DANI POZOImages FBL-ESP-LIGA-REALMADRID-OSASUNA A successful transition through those next steps could see Los Blancos put the negatives behind them emphatically and go again as one of Europe’s greatest forces next season.

BX: Cincinnati Bengals free agency stance about philosophy, not money 

Bengals talk about quarterback philosophy and future of Andy Dalton at NFL Combine Albert Cesare, acesareenquirerm Every year, Bengals fans enter March with an itchy case of FOMO. The fear of missing out kicks into overdrive this week. While pockets of the league go nuts and drop astronomical contracts on available free agents to send their fan bases declaring Super Bowl victory nine months in advance, Cincinnati lives among those teams on the flip side of the philosophical coin. This is not a secret. In fact, if you Google long enough you can probably find me writing this same story five years ago.Yet, the narrative persists, so we go in again. It drives some fans crazy and spins familiar screams about how the Bengals are too cheap to land the best players and shows a lack of commitment to winning. I’m here to tell you everyone should be debating and critiquing the Bengals. Go 29 years without a playoff win plus three consecutive seasons without a winning record and the franchise is wide open to attack. Hop on social media and get in line.   One important and defining hole exists in the criticism. This isn’t a debate about spending enough on players. This is a debate about who they pay. Claiming the Bengals are too cheap to pay the best players is unequivocally false by every metric. Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin speaks to the media during the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Ind., on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019.   Albert Cesare The Enquirer Last year, they finished the eighth highest spending team in the NFL. They have lived in the top 10 since the new CBA came into effect in 2011. The official NFL measuring period from 2013-16 set a mandate teams spend 89 percent of the cap in cash averaged over the four-year period. The average team spent $544 million on players. The Bengals spent $567 million, 10th overall, most in the AFC North. This year, like every year, some fans will point to all the cap room the Bengals have and bemoan the team’s view of $50 million in cap space not actually being $50 million in real cap space. In the Bengals view, it's about half that – give or take -- once considering all the other factors involved when deconstructing the final amount paid. Yet, at the end of every season, the Bengals are at, beyond or near the total cap number for their roster. This year, they carried over less money than the average team, using much of their overage on $110 million in extensions for Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap last August. If not for incentives left on the table by Vontaze Burfict and Tyler Eifert, they would have carried over next to nothing.  HOW THE BENGALS ADDRESS LB: Free agency* MOCK DRAFT 1.0: Combine change game for Bengals? SIGNINGS: Bengals add Duffner to largest staff in history Get the latest Bengals news. Download our app on both the Apple App Store and Google Play for Android users. You can debate their strategy of stringently minimizing dead money as much as possible, but as much as any team in football, they also don’t pay for players who aren’t currently on the roster they technically finished second in that department last year. They don’t like to restructure contracts and kick the financial can down the road. They don’t like to feel forced to cut quality players due to cap space issues. Thank you! You're almost signed up for Bengals Beat Keep an eye out for an email to confirm your newsletter registration. When hiring Zac Taylor and enacting the most change seen at Paul Brown Stadium since Marvin Lewis was hired in 2003, the question was if Taylor would bring with him a more aggressive approach to free agency. Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown talks about the team's move away from former head coach Marvin Lewis. Sam Greene, sgreeneenquirerm We’ll see, of course, but the conversations about free agency in the interview process between the club and Taylor found an agreement in the necessary approach: Proceed with caution. Add that to the list of reasons director of player personnel Duke Tobin has stated he is in harmony with Taylor’s view of the roster and how to move forward. They point to the most successful teams – even in the recent era of aggressive roster structuring – and those typically staying out of the first-wave free agent business are mostly staying out of the losing business. The best players never see free agency. Teams don’t pay up for a reason. With all the significant variables within the structure of a team, game and play, predicting how someone will perform in a completely different environment is tough. Certainly much tougher than predicting how a player you already know will perform.  You know how many free agents to switch teams last year ended up making the Pro Bowl? None. Complementary pieces contributed, to be sure. Ndamukong Suh helped the Rams Super Bowl run for one year at $14 million. Sammy Watkins made a few plays for the Chiefs after signing a three-year, $48 million mega-deal. Allen Robinson caught 10 passes for 143 yards for the Bears in their playoff loss.  Obviously, free agency can provide impactful moments. Yet, when looking at the league the last four years, teams which spent the most on other team’s players have more often failed. Of the top six teams in spending on other team’s players none have a winning record over that span. They totaled five playoff appearances and one team made it to a conference championship game. As for the bottom six in spending, of which the Bengals belonged, they totaled nine playoff trips, two conference championship appearances and another advanced to the Super Bowl. In recent years, nobody spends less on other team’s players than Pittsburgh, a model of consistency atop the AFC North. Baltimore adopts a similar philosophy, to a lesser degree. Does this mean one side is right and the other wrong? No. These are merely the results of the method both sides utilized. Living in the middle is probably the best place to find success, but every franchise is different depending on quarterback situation and draft-pick hit rate.   Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah 87 looks for running room after catching a pass as Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Cordy Glenn 77 blocks in the first quarter during the Week 5 NFL game between the Miami Dolphins and the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.   Kareem Elgazzar, The Cincinnati Enquirer In the world of long-term extensionscontracts for Atkins, Dunlap, A.J. Green, Andy Dalton, Giovani Bernard, Shawn Williams, Dre Kirkpatrick, Vontaze Burfict and others, the money ends up spent. Every year. In hind sight, realizing how Andrew Whitworth played in Los Angeles well into his 30s and the bust Cedric Ogbuehi turned out to be, you see the fault in Cincinnati not matching other offers on the table for their left tackle two years ago. You can see the frustration in not having enough to keep Marvin Jones or needing to be more willing to pay Mohamed Sanu. Taking bargain shots at fixing linebacker left the Bengals in a lurch in recent years.  Were they better off last year chasing a free agent safety, or waiting for April and selecting Jessie Bates III? These things work both ways. You can rightly debate if they should have pushed more often in the direction of moves like last year, when they took on the three years and $30 million left on Cordy Glenn’s contract. He’s the only player with a cap hit more than $1 million currently under contract for 2019 that isn’t homegrown. They need more effectiveness in finding gems in free agency when they do spend.   But if adding one bigtime free agent and a few other bargain pieces is the plea of fans, well, the Bengals did just that when the situation presented itself last year. It’s not like they refuse to pursue. Just last year, they pursued and landed what became the third-largest cap hit on the team. In a year of change, the time has never been more ripe to utilize free agency to find exactly what Taylor desires in his team on the free agent market. We’ll see if the Bengals push similarly to last year. Don't expect them to suddenly drop all available cash on the likes of Baltimore's C.J. Mosley or New England's Trent Brown.  Next week, losing Darqueze Dennard and not finding an adequate replacement at slot corner could doom this coming season.  All those decisions will be worthy of criticism or praise regardless what happens. The only thing we know for sure and more people need to realize is this argument is not about if they are willing to spend the money. It’s about philosophy. Whether you spend in March or August, the money all lands in the hands of the players.   As much as it doesn’t fit the popular narrative, the Bengals spend at the highest levels of the NFL even if the timing leaves their fans missing out on the often false hope built this time of year.

The Philosophy Behind Integrated Training 

ASP .In addition to manufacturing its well-known line of batons, restraints and tactical flashlights, Armament Systems and Procedures ASP provides comprehensive training to law enforcement officers and agencies in the integrated use of those three most commonly-used duty belt tools. Its flagship training platform, the ASP Instructor Certification AIC program, has graduated tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from thousands of agencies around the world. The three-day training—which ASP provides to law enforcement officers at no cost— teaches street-proven, easily recalled and repeated, legally-tested techniques for officer protection and subject control. ASP Vice Presidents Michael Hess and Daryell Harmon spoke about the company’s programs and the concept of Integrated Training. Hess says that integration is key to everything the company does, both on the product side and training side: “There is plenty of training available out there for a single weapon or tool on its own, but that skill isolation doesn’t reflect the way things usually go on the street. Encounters aren’t static, they are fluid and dynamic—it’s called a use of force continuum for a reason.” In addition to the integrated curriculum itself, there’s something else that is unique about ASP training—it’s free. Law enforcement agencies, officers and other qualified candidates don’t pay for the course, the books, or even the gear they get to use and keep at the end of the three days. ASP provides the trainers, pays their travel expenses, supplies all the equipment and handles all the logistics. ASP Vice President Michael Hess explains that “we feel that free training is part of the obligation we have to law enforcement, and helps to ensure that our training programs are never driven by any bottom line other than officer safety.” Each ASP Instructor Certification course AIC enrolls 35-50 students, taught by two ASP Trainers, all of whom are current or past law enforcement officers. Last year, ASP conducted its 500th AIC, bringing the total number of current certified ASP Instructors to nearly 50,000, in 104 countries. The company expects to conduct between 60 and 80 AIC trainings in 2019. More information and current class schedule can be found at ASP-USAmTraining-Programs. Harmon—a former police officer, a current Trainer—oversees the program. He explains that ASP’s integrated training begins with specific instruction on each of the three tools, but then moves into how they interact in the real world. “We spend a lot of time on transitions—moving between baton, light and restraint, in a variety of different combinations, and doing so safely and smoothly,” he says. A typical skill and drill progression might start with a baton strike or the use of the flashlight to gain tactical advantage, then move immediately to commanding a subject to the ground and safely handcuffing him. Techniques are taught and practiced with a variety of different types of baton, restraint and light, and include important ancillary skills like unholsteringuncasing and holsteringcasing equipment during a confrontation without losing visual contact or physical control. Each skill and progression is demonstrated, then practiced at slow speed, then executed repeatedly in a fast-paced, physically-demanding set of drills that comprise most of the training time. ASP . Repeatability and efficacy—especially under physical, mental and environmental stress—are critical. “Complexity is the enemy of effectiveness and safety,” says Harmon. “We teach simple, instinctive movements that use gross motor skills; not complex, detailed choreography that is unlikely to be remembered—much less effectively implemented­—on the street.” Hess points out that this is an area in which the company’s training informs its products, and vice-versa. “virtually everything we make is designed for one-hand use, typically with one mechanical interface, and without having to take your eyes off the subject.” He says that ASP Trainers have a lot to say about whether a new product makes it to market or not. “If it doesn’t fit with our simple, practical training philosophy, we don’t want to put it on an officer’s duty belt.” ASP .Simplicity of instruction also factors into another priority of ASP training: teachability. As Harmon explains, “We are training and certifying Instructors to go back to their agencies and effectively teach their department colleagues what they learned in their three days with us, and that has an inevitable and very real bearing on officer safety.” Every candidate in an AIC program is required to do teach-backs during the course, proving that they can correctly and effectively instruct classmates on a set of skills. Successful teach-backs, in addition to skill demonstration and a written exam, are required to pass the class. And yes, offers do fail the training. ASP believes that when officer safety is involved, training credentials must be worked for and earned. Graduation and certification are not a given at AIC courses. “That said,” says Hess, “it is always our goal to send everyone back to their agencies as Certified Instructors, and all of the ideas and practices of our training programs lend themselves to success as a student, teacher and officer.”

Listen: Astros manager A.J. Hinch on his philosophy 

WEST LM BEACH, Fla. – On this episode of Texas Sports Nation podcast, Jerome Solomon sat down in Astros manager A.J. Hinch's office to discuss his managing, working for Jim Crane, how he deals with losing and a host of other topics. Hinch goes into his philosophy, why he wasn't successful as a manager at the time he took the job and he compared his players to his two teenage daughters. "My teenage daughters are easy compared to some of these guys in the clubhouse," Hinch said. Hinch said he wants to manage the perfect game, not a 27-up, 27-down no-hitter, just a game where he makes all the right moves for nine innings. "I mean putting every single person in position to be successful," Hinch said.

Ricciardo: Renault has new upgrade philosophy for 2019 

While Renault had accomplished its goal of finishing top of F1's midfield last year, questions were raised over the rate of its in-season development compared to nearest rivals Haas and Racing Point. Nico Hulkenberg conceded towards the end of the season that Renault had “lost out” over the course of the campaign, having started it with what was convincingly the fourth-best car. “I am pretty sure we have not made progress,” he said in Japan, adding that Renault's upgrade plan couldn't match the major steps that propelled its direct rivals forward. Ricciardo, who has arrived from Red Bull to partner Hulkenberg in 2019, said he “expects good things” from the French outfit in this year's development race. “I think the philosophy this year will be quite different as far as the upgrades we get,” he claimed. “I think the plan and the structuring is going to change, and their philosophy on what to bring and when to bring it. I believe that is going to change. “I will be part of that and trust that process, and hope we are staying ahead of the curve.” With F1's midfield teams looking closely-matched once again on evidence of pre-season testing in Barcelona, in-season development will be key to how their battle pans out. Renault is known to have bolstered its factory in Enstone in preparation for 2019, so as to avoid further development struggles. Its technical director Nick Chester says the scope afforded by the new regulations also gives the team more confidence about making progress with the RS19. “It’s partly because of the regulations we’ve got this year, the 2019 regs, that open up quite a lot of avenues,” Chester explained. “So there is a lot to be developed this year, in terms front wings, brake drums, bargeboards, sidepods vanes – there’s a whole big area available for development. “We put a lot of effort into our tunnel programmes and aero programmes, so we’ll be trying to get things through as quick as we can and put those gains on the car.” Ricciardo believes Renault's in-season progress will also come from continuous work on its engine, although the French manufacturer has claimed it's already made a “substantial” step forward in the off-season. “I think, in a way, the exciting thing for Renault is that the last few years it is no secret that we have always been playing catch-up with the power unit, so the positive with that is we always feel there is more to gain than the others,” Ricciardo said. “So from that I will obviously always stay optimistic and feel that in that development we can find a bit more in the season and keep closing the gap.”

Every Chelsea Player Believes in Maurizio Sarri's Philosophy, Says David Luiz 

James Williamson - AMA Images Chelsea star David Luiz has said "every player" at the club believes in Maurizio Sarri's playing philosophy and is giving their utmost despite a dip in results at Stamford Bridge in recent months.  The Blues' results have suffered after adapting to a different style of play to what they're used to in west London, but Luiz told reporters on Wednesday the entire squad is behind Sarri and his methods: "To play you have to be intelligent. We lived a few weeks of difficult moments and the players adapted very well. The manager adapted very well, the club adapted very well. "It was the decision of the club to change the style of football. For many years people said Chelsea were winning but never controlled the game. Now we control the game and people say we don't win. "It's about what we really believe. Every player believes in his philosophy and everyone is giving 100%." Luiz appeared alongside Sarri in a press conference ahead of Thursday's UEFA Europa League meeting with Dynamo Kiev, with Chelsea set to host their last-16 first leg before travelling to Ukraine one week later. Sarri's side look to be heading back into form, however, after recently beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 to consolidate sixth in the Premier League. Chelsea are one point and two points behind Arsenal fifth and Manchester United fourth, respectively, but they have a game in hand. The former Napoli boss has come under scrutiny during his first seven months or so in charge, but he told the media Chelsea's success comes before any individual plaudits, via Sky Sports: Sarri was criticised by some for his handling of Kepa Arrizabalaga's refusal to come off in the Carabao Cup final defeat to Manchester City on penalties, but concerns over their playing philosophy dig deeper into potential flaws. The club recently won back-to-back games in 90 minutes for the first time in 2019, beating Tottenham and Fulham, leading to suggestions there has been a change in Sarri's methods.  However, Luiz said Chelsea "are still playing the same style" and added: "I don't think the style has changed. We just adapted some moments in the game, like the line to have high press or not." Tifo Football analysed Sarri's start to his maiden campaign in England and previously examined what his structure, "Sarri-ball," could spell for Chelsea: Reserve goalkeeper Willy Caballero stood in for Kepa during Chelsea's recent win over Tottenham, and the Argentinian said his side were "more together than ever" after their League Cup final loss to City, per Matt Law of the Telegraph. It's been a rocky transition for Chelsea this season. Sarri's predecessor, Antonio Conte, preferred to base his setup on the defence and promoted a philosophy more on a long ball game. The Blues are now buying into a pass-oriented style they'll hope will pay dividends down the line, and Chelsea hope to underline Sarri's strengths with a third consecutive win at home to Dynamo Kiev on Thursday.

Socrates in love: how the ideas of this woman are at the root of Western philosophy 

Where did Socrates, the foundational figure of Western philosophy, get the inspiration for his original ideas about truth, love, justice, courage and knowledge? New research I’ve conducted reveals that as a young man in 5th-century BC Athens, he came into contact with a fiercely intelligent woman, Aspasia of Miletus. I argue that her ideas about love and transcendence inspired him to formulate key aspects of his thought as transmitted by Plato. If the evidence for this thesis is accepted, the history of philosophy will have taken a momentous turn: a woman who has been all but erased from the story must be acknowledged as laying the foundations of our 2,500-year old philosophical tradition. A neoclassical painting by the 19th-century artist Nicolas Monsiau depicts Socrates sitting across a table from a lusciously dressed, gesticulating Aspasia. The handsome young soldier Alcibiades looks on. The image captures the standard view of Socrates: as poor and ugly. The son of a stonemason, he was known from middle age for going unshod and wearing ragged clothes. The Debate of Socrates and Aspasia, c. 1800. Wikimedia Commons But Socrates is also said by Plato to have been instructed in eloquence by Aspasia, who for more than a decade was the partner of Athens’s leading statesman Pericles. Supposedly a highly educated “courtesan”, Aspasia is shown in the painting enumerating the points of a speech on her fingers. Her gaze is directed at the aristocratic youth Alcibiades, who was Pericles’ ward and probably Aspasia’s great-nephew. Socrates claimed to be enthralled by Alcibiades’ good looks and charisma, and as recounted in Plato’s dialogue Symposium he saved his life at the Battle of Potidaea in 432 BC. Does the painting do Socrates justice? His main biographers, Plato and Xenophon, knew him only as an older man. But Socrates was once young, and was a direct contemporary of Aspasia’s. And, from surviving images of the philosopher, occasional information given by his biographers, and ancient written texts which have been generally overlooked or misinterpreted, a different picture of Socrates emerges: that of a well-educated youth who grew up to be no less brave a soldier than Alcibiades, and a passionate lover of both sexes no less than a intense thinker and debater. Socrates seeking Alcibiades in the house of Aspasia, Jean-L├ęon G├ęr├┤me, 1861. Wikimedia Commons DiotimaAspasia Socrates was famous for saying: “The only thing I know is that I don’t know.” But Plato, in Symposium 199b, reports him as saying that he learned “the truth about love” from a clever woman. That woman is given the name “Diotima” – and in Symposium Socrates expounds her doctrine. Scholars have almost universally dismissed Diotima as a fiction. She is described in the dialogue as a priestess or seer mantis, and she is thought at best to be an allegorical figure – one of inspired or visionary wisdom who might have initiated a thinker such as Socrates into the mysteries of Love. But Plato leaves some curiously precise clues about the identity of Diotima which have never hitherto been elucidated. In my book I present the evidence to show that “Diotima” is in fact a thinly-veiled disguise for Aspasia. Aspasia came from a high-born Athenian family, related to that of Pericles, which had settled in the Greek city of Miletus in Ionia Asia Minor some decades earlier. When she migrated to Athens around 450 BC she was around the age of 20. At that date Socrates too was around 20 years old. A few years later, Aspasia became attached to Pericles, who was then a leading politician in Athens – and already twice her age. But a pupil of Aristotle, Clearchus, records that “before Aspasia became Pericles’ companion, she was with Socrates”. This fits with other evidence that Socrates was part of Pericles’s circle as a young man. He would undoubtedly have become acquainted with Aspasia in that milieu. Socrates, Pericles, Alcibiades, Aspasia in Discussion, unknown artist, 1810–25. Wikimedia Commons Given that he was part of this privileged elite in his youth, what impelled Socrates to turn to the life of the mind, shun material success and reorient philosophical thinking for posterity? No one has ever sought to trace the trajectory of the younger Socrates, because the biographical sources are scattered and fragmentary, and appear to say little of interest regarding his thought. But since Socrates was well known in Athens as a philosopher by his thirties, the earlier period is where we should seek evidence of his change of direction to becoming the thinker he was to be. I argue that Socrates’ acquaintance with Aspasia provides the missing link. Aspasia was the cleverest and most influential woman of her day. The partner of Pericles for around 15 years, she was widely slandered and reviled by the comic playwrights - the tabloid journalists of their day - for her influence over him. Part of Pericles’s circle of thinkers, artists and politicians, she is depicted by Plato, Xenophon and others as an admired instructor of eloquence, as well as a matchmaker and marriage counsellor. In Plato’s dialogue Menexenus she is described as teaching Socrates how to give a funeral speech – just as she had allegedly once taught Pericles. She was, in other words, known for her skill in speaking and, like “Diotima”, in particular for speaking about love. Socrates in love? So. Could Socrates and Aspasia have fallen in love when they first met and conversed in their twenties? The fact that Plato accords Aspasia considerable intellectual authority over Socrates has alarmed generations of scholars, who have largely dismissed the scenario in Menexenus as a parody of oratorical techniques. Meanwhile, they have been happy to consider Aspasia a “brothel-keeper and prostitute” on the strength of citations from comic poets of the day. At best, scholars have elevated Aspasia to the status of hetaira – a courtesan. But this appellation is not once given to her in ancient sources. Socrates. Sting, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA If we accept the evidence that Aspasia was, like “Diotima”, an authoritative instructor of eloquence and an expert on matters of love – rather than a common prostitute or even an influential courtesan – a striking possibility arises. The notions attributed in Symposium to “Diotima” are central to the philosophy as well as to the way of life that Socrates was to espouse. The doctrine put in the mouth of “Diotima” teaches that the physical realm can and should be put aside in favour of higher ideals; that the education of the soul, not the gratification of the body, is love’s paramount duty; and that the particular should be subordinated to the general, the transient to the permanent, and the worldly to the ideal. These ideas may be acknowledged as lying at the very root of the Western philosophical tradition. If so, identifying the fictional “Diotima” as the real Aspasia makes for a historically sensational conclusion. In retrospect, the identification is so obvious that its failure to be seen clearly up to now must perhaps be attributed to conscious or unconscious prejudices about the status and intellectual capacities of women. The time is ripe to restore the beautiful, dynamic and clever Aspasia to her true status as one of the founders of European philosophy.

Oklahoma defensive coordinator Alex Grinch is trying to implement the same philosophy Lincoln Riley uses on offense 

By Chuck Carlton , Staff Writer Chuck Carlton on Bob Stoops' decision to hire Lincoln Riley as offensive coordinator before the 2015 season charted a new course for Oklahoma. Riley, now the Sooners' head coach, hopes to make the same impact with new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, following the firing of Mike Stoops last season and the interim move of Ruffin McNeill into the position. As spring practice opens Thursday, Alabama transfer quarterback Jalen Hurts will get plenty of the spotlight. But it's kind of a given that he will have a big year, because that's what quarterbacks do in Riley's offense. Hurts may not be Baker Mayfield or Kyler Murray, but he'll be very productive. The bigger question is what the 39-year-old Grinch, an analytics-embracing, next-generation guy, can achieve in overhauling the defense. : Oklahoma spring preview: Will Jalen Hurts be able to produce at the level of his last two predecessors? "He believes -- which I totally agree with -- is that you have to make teams play the games on your terms," Riley said. "It's to me the mirror image of what we have tried to do offensively is never try to allow yourself to be in the position where you're playing the game on someone else's terms." All too often in key games the last few seasons, the only terms that the OU defense were familiar with involved surrender. In the two College Football Playoff losses under Riley, Oklahoma allowed 99 points and 1,055 yards. The Sooners finished last in the Big 12 in total defense -- which takes some doing -- at 453.8 yards per games to rank 114th in the FBS. Grinch knows about playing defense under Air Raid coaches, having rebuilt Washington State's defense from 2015-17 under Mike Leach before a year at Ohio State. He wants to force turnovers and get speed on the field. It took a $1.4 million contract to hire Grinch, who then added two new assistants as well. Oklahoma returns 10 starters on defense, so Grinch isn't starting from scratch. "We know that there's going to be results," Riley said. "I think everybody feels that now. There's a lot of anticipation. You can feel it build." ChuckCarltonDMN This Topic is Missing Your Voice. View Comments

Casa Mbungo: My philosophy is starting to work at AFC Leopards 

AFC Leopards head coach Casa Mbongo has lauded his charges for a good game that resulted to a 2-1 win against Tusker FC. The latter came into the match as favorites following their good record against their visitors, but they ended up falling to Ingwe, registering their fourth defeat in a row. Mbongo hopes the good run for his team continues as he aims at helping the team get to the top. “My players did a good job, even when we were one man less, they fought hard and defended as a unit. Scoring two goals with a man down against a tough opponent is not a walk in the park. I am happy with the character shown by the players for the entire game. “I was impressed with the concentration by the players from the first to the final whistle, it played a big role in ensuring we win the game,” Mbungo told Goal. It was Ingwe's fourth win in the league this season.

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