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ATLANTA – You are Mike Smith, head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, and you have exactly five seconds to make the most crucial decision of your season.
But you’ll get to that in a moment. First, take a look back at what got you here.
You arrived in Atlanta as a newly-minted head coach in 2008, and immediately hoisted the team from four wins the year before to 11 and a playoff berth. You killed that red-and-black Atlanta-never-had-consecutive-winning-seasons albatross dead the next year. In just six years, you’ve become the winningest coach in Falcons history, which, granted, is a low bar to clear.
You helmed the best NFC team in the regular season last year, and came within 10 yards of a trip to the Super Bowl. You rolled into this season a playoff lock, with an offense so overloaded with talent it seemed like a fantasy team in a six-team league. And now, thanks to injury and downward trajectory, you’ve spent the better part of three months watching your once-worldbeating team become one of the NFL’s punch lines.
You’ve lost five straight and nine of your last 10. You’ve lost to teams both sublime (the Seahawks) and pathetic (the Buccaneers). You’re on national TV again – Thursday night on the NFL Network, but hey, national is national – and you’re facing your hated rival New Orleans. You’ve got a chance for a little redemption – not a playoff season, no; those hopes vanished in October, but at least a bit of face-saving.
And the game unfolds, and you watch as your team stays close. Your Falcons are playing with all the grace and daring of a minivan, but like a minivan, they’re doing the job well enough. The game is still within reach with eight minutes left, Falcons down four, 17-13, with possession of the ball.
Your quarterback, Matt Ryan, has been the most successful in the game since 2008 – the year you arrived, remember – at engineering fourth-quarter comebacks. He’s done it 22 times. But this year? Zero. Now would be a good time for the first, don’t you think?
And for just a few minutes, he looks like he’s going to do it. You watch as Ryan leads the team from his own 3-yard line all the way down to the New Orleans 29. You watch as he takes another sack, one of five on the night, to push him back 5 yards.
Now it’s fourth down. Two minutes, 28 seconds remaining, ball on the New Orleans 34, clock running. You’re down four. And you’re facing that choice.
Go for it on fourth-and-15? Punt the ball and pin New Orleans against the end zone? Or go for the field goal and hope for the best, knowing you’ve got three timeouts and the two-minute warning in your pocket?
You go for the safe play. You go for the field goal. And the crowd boos.
You watch your kicker, Matt Bryant, the guy they call “Grumpy” in the locker room, line up for the 52-yard kick. You saw him line up to kick toward this same end zone ten months and eight days ago in the NFC playoffs. He was kicking from almost the exact same spot and the exact same distance, and on that day he drilled it true and bounced Seattle from the playoffs.
Right now, that day seems a lot more distant than ten months and eight days.
Still, you know Bryant’s got both the leg and the spine to kick it from this distance. You know he’s not the type to get rattled easily, even when New Orleans calls a timeout the instant before the snap, a timeout that wipes out a good kick.
And so when Bryant misses on the re-kick, you know there’s nothing to do but breathe deep and hope your defense can make the stop.
Your boss, general manager Thomas Dimitroff, is on the sideline near you in an ash-gray suit. Your boss’s boss, owner Arthur Blank, stands close by as well, in a red-and-black checked sport jacket. You know they’re there. They’re always there at the end of games. You know they can see the failure and hear the boos every bit as well as you can.
You have plenty of time to get the ball back and engineer another drive if only your team can come up with a stop. Naturally, this being 2013, your defense is about as stout as whipped cream. They don’t even stop the Saints; the Saints stop themselves, with two kneeldowns and a runaround that leaves just five seconds on the clock.
One ridiculous prayer of a play later, a play that ends in a hail of flags and an illegal forward pass, and this game – the last, best shot at respectability this season – is over. You’re 2-9 now. You leave the field after all of your players, after all the cameras, even after the band.
You try to justify your decisionmaking after the game: “There’s not a whole lot of great fourth-and-15, or fourth-and-14, plays,” you say. You explain your reasoning: hit the field goal, get four opportunities to stop the clock, win the game with another field goal.
Your quarterback answers the fourth-and-15 question a bit more definitively than you: “We’re prepared for that every week,” he says, an answer that doesn’t make the official transcript, but then walks it back: “We trust in Smitty. We thought it was the right call.”
The right call. When a season is already flushed, you go for the safest play. You’ll be hearing about this one for awhile.
You are Mike Smith, and you have no defense, on or off the field.
What do you do?
It’s been several months since Google introduced info cards to the Play Movies Android app, with the handy feature being limited to folks living Stateside ever since. That’s about to change, however, as Google today updated Play Movies & TV in the UK and brought info cards to the application. For those in the United Kingdom, what this means is that you’ll now be able to pause any video being watched and easily learn the filmography of the humans behind your favorite characters. Of course, this also means you’ll have some extra time to spare during the day, since the Google Now-inspired feature is definitely going to save you a few trips to IMDB.
Via: The Next Web
Source: Google Play
After all the arrest warrants, all the injury reports, all the fantasy prognostications, all the TebowRG3TebowRG3TEBOWRG3, it’s almost here: the NFL season. We couldn’t be happier, and we know you’re stoked too.
To kick off the season, we’re firing up a Shutdown Corner Mailbag column, even though most of you millennial whippersnappers wouldn’t know a mailbag from Mike Mamula. That doesn’t matter, though. This is your time to get your voice heard on Shutdown Corner … above the lawless anarchy that is the comment section, that is.
Write us with whatever’s on your mind: predictions for the season, rants about your coach’s latest idiot move, questions for our award-winning* Shutdown Corner team, recipes for your tailgate party, and so on. You can ask for fantasy football coverage, but this ain’t Roto Arcade; we guarantee you a fifth-place finish at best.
*-Participation trophies count as awards. Shut up.
(Credit: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)
So here are 20 photos of our hike this weekend.
Here am I, standing halfway up a hill. And here am I standing halfway down a hill.
I am sure that your Facebook news feed — should you still bother having one — is filled with people who believe that every visual evidence of their everyday lives is fascinating visual evidence.
Whereas, in fact, it’s more turgid than a slime martini.
Here is some good news, however. A study suggests that people who do this may be alienating themselves from those who might be called normal human beings.
As CBS Washington reports, researchers from three British universities — the University of Birmingham, University West of England, and the University of Edinburgh — have concluded that frequent Facebook photo-posters “risk damaging real-life relationships.”
Of course, this assumes that they actually have any. Surely one of the beauties of Facebook is that it removes the burden of having to interact with people in physical space.
The report — delightfully called Tagger’s Delight (PDF) — offers a highly academic picture of the shared picture: “Increased frequency of sharing photographs of the self, regardless of t… [Read more]
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(Credit: Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)
Whenever you get on a plane, you always want to know what your phone seatmate’s got, don’t you?
You slide one eye across just to check whether they’re as tastefully forward as you are.
If it’s a phone you’re interested in — and your seatmate doesn’t smell so bad — you might ask about it. If it’s a BlackBerry, you go back to texting your lover that you miss her more than ten-color rainbows.
This is the encounter upon which Samsung has based its latest attempt to make iPhone users feel a touch inadequate.
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The Korea Times is quoting anonymous SK Telecom executives saying that Apple is in the middle of negotiations about using an LTE-Advanced technology called carrier aggregation in the next version of the iPhone. Doing so would enable potential download speeds of 150 mbps on SK’s network, which is twice as fast as the what the iPhone 5 supports on its LTE network today.
Whether or not this deal actually comes to fruition, keep in mind that there’s a reason this report is originating in Korea: there’s very little chance this capability would be available to most Apple customers in the U.S. when the supposed device becomes available.
Qualcomm, which is Apple’s supplier, already makes an next-generation LTE chip for Apple’s rival Samsung, and it’s in a version of the Galaxy S 4 optimized for Korea. With Apple on track for its yearly iPhone release some time this fall, it is very likely Apple will get similarly updated chip, which includes the potential for much faster speeds.
But while such a device could work in South Korea with SK Telecom, for example, it wouldn’t work anywhere else — at least not yet.
Carrier aggregation bonds two mobile transmissions together, allowing an operator to create a kind of super-connection. SK Telecom, however, is the only global operator that currently supports the LTE upgrade, though it’s on the roadmap of most of the U.S. operators. To make full use of carrier aggregation, U.S. operators first need to build their second LTE networks, which they’ve only just begun to do. As my colleague Kevin Fitchard has written before, it’s misleading to call carrier aggregation LTE-Advanced, since it’s only the first of many steps necessary to achieve a full LTE-A network.
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The adjustment process when one moves from high-caliber college player to NFL prospect trying to fit in is generally a tough one. With a few notable exceptions, even the best collegiate players need a settling-in period, and that has as much to do with the off-field stuff as it does with what Mr. Hot Shot will bring to his NFL team on game day.
Former West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin, perhaps the NCAA’s most dynamic offensive player in 2012, is learning that the NFL brings a few interesting realities to light. Specifically, the fact that money brings problems in the form of people wanting money … and we’re not talking about agents and the IRS.
“Everybody expects a lot of things from you as far as money.” Austin recently told the Rams’ official website. “Everybody wants to be around you. My phone doesn’t stop ringing now. It feels like they’re counting my bank account now. So that’s probably the hardest thing for me right now, just people.
“I’ve got a lot of cousins now. The whole [city of] Baltimore is my cousin now. We’re going to just try to keep focused and let my mother and all of them handle it.”
Si.com’s Peter King spent draft weekend in the Rams’ war room, and he reported in his latest Monday Morning Quarterback that while Austin was admired for bypassing the temptations he encountered on the mean streets of Baltimore, there was some concern in NFL circles that Austin’s past, in the form of “hangers-on,” might follow him to the pros, and even increase their presence once the money started to roll in. That’s not a knock on Austin, who is a great kid by all accounts — it’s a simple truth for young NFL players. Once the cash piles up, you’re going to receive “heartfelt” communiqués from people you hardly know.
Draft pick salaries are slotted for the most part per the current Collective Bargaining Agreement and the numbers change a bit from year to year, but Austin will be moving up quite a few tax brackets when the numbers come out.
The Rams traded with the Buffalo Bills to move up to the eighth overall slot to select Austin. Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, last year’s No. 8 pick, signed a four-year, $ 12.668 million contract with $ 7.653 million guaranteed in the form of a signing bonus. Tannehill made $ 480,000 plus a $ 484,841 roster bonus in his rookie year, and he’ll rake in about $ 1.5 million this year between base salary and bonuses. Austin should expect to see similar numbers, and for him, it’s all about getting his family out of his childhood home and into a better life.
“The goal was to get my mother and my grandmother out of the city,” Austin told the Charleston Daily Mail on Apr. 28. “I don’t know if they want to leave, but I’ll definitely get them a better house so they don’t have to worry about living in the hood. That was my No. 1 goal and that’s happening now.
“I’m definitely going to move them to a nice place outside in the county, Harford County, or something like that, where it’s a gated community and I pretty much know they’re comfortable while I’m here working and they’re back there just waiting for my game days on Sunday.”
Sounds like Austin has his priorities in order, even if some around him don’t seem to. As the noted philosopher Notorious B.I.G. once opined, “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.”
My poor iPad has survived flour, oil, lemon juice, and countless other kitchen mishaps. Maybe it’s time I look a little more seriously at a dedicated kitchen computer. My options have just expanded with the arrival of the Archos ChefPad, an Android tablet built to handle the rigors of the cooking life.
The ChefPad is a full-blown 10-inch Android tablet running Jelly Bean with a 1.6GHz processor and 1GB of RAM behind it. There are the usual front and back cameras, in case you want to launch your own online cooking show. What makes it kitchen-specific are the preloaded cooking apps and easy-to-clean case.
The silicone case adds a layer of protection from flying butter and splashes of scrambled eggs. What’s a little more unique is a selection of vetted cooking apps called Chef App. It filters through all the top options available from Google Play and delivers them in one spot. Think of it as a launchpad for all your recipes, tools, drink concoctions, how-to videos, and shopping apps.
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