How F1 can replace the Chinese Grand Prix

Back in September, Formula One announced their schedule for the 2023 season, set to be their most ambitious in history. 24 races were placed on the calendar including three in the United States, the most ever in a single F1 season.
But if F1 wants to keep that number of races, they will need to make an adjustment.
It was announced on Friday that because of ongoing COVID restrictions in China, that the 2023 Chinese Grand Prix, scheduled for April, will not go forward. In a brief statement on their website, F1 confirmed that “…following dialogue with the promoter and relevant authorities, that the 2023 Chinese Grand Prix will not take place due to the ongoing difficulties presented by the COVID-19 situation.”
The event has not been held since 2019.
If F1 wants to maintain a 24-race schedule, here are some options:
A double-dip at Australia or Azerbaijan
Back in 2020, when COVID first emerged as a global threat to the world, F1 was one of the first sporting leagues to feel the impact. The 2020 Australian Grand Prix, set to kick off the season, was canceled just days before the race. Following a team member of McLaren testing positive, and the team pulling out of the event, F1 decided canceled the Grand Prix.
The season did not begin until July, months after it was originally scheduled to begin, as the world shut down shut down due to the pandemic. In an effort to incorporate as many races as possible on the calendar, and working around some countries where events could not take place, F1 added a few double-dips to the schedule. For example, the season began with the Austrian Grand Prix at Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria. The following week F1 unveiled the Styrian Grand Prix, run again at Red Bull Ring.
At the end of July, following the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in England, the circuit returned to the track seven days later, for the first 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
Then at the end of the schedule F1 held two events in Bahrain. First was the Bahrain Grand Prix, followed by the Sakhir Grand Prix the following weekend. These events were slightly different, as the first race was run on the Grand Prix track, while the second was run on the shorter, outer circuit of the track.
F1 could choose to do something similar this upcoming year. The schedule kicks off with the Bahrain Grand Prix, set for the weekend of March 5, and is followed by the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix the weekend of March 19th. Then there is the Australian Grand Prix, scheduled for April 2.
The Chinese Grand Prix was to take place on April 16, followed by the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on April 30th. With that gap, the circuit could double-dip at either Melbourne or Baku, as they have done in the past.
Adding a new stop
F1 could decide to add in a circuit that is not currently on the schedule for the 2023 season, getting them back to 24 events.
Back in 2020, F1 added stops to the schedule in an effort to get close to a traditional season. For example, they added additional events in Italy to the schedule. First was the Tuscan Ferrari 1000 Grand Prix held at Mugello in Tuscany. While that course had never held an F1 Grand Prix, teams had tested at the track before, including Ferrari. Then later in the season F1 held the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, in Imola. That Grand Prix was held again in 2021, to replace the Chinese Grand Prix when it was canceled that year. Imola is currently on the calendar for this season, while Mugello is not.
2020 also saw the addition of the Turkish Grand Prix, an event that had not been held since 2011, as well as the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nürburgring in Nürburg, Germany. Nürburgring had not seen an F1 race since 2013.
There was also the Portuguese Grand Prix, held after the event in Nürburg.
This year, there are similar options, and given the amount of time between the Australian Grand Prix and the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, travel should not be a problem. Both the Portuguese Grand Prix, as well as the Turkish Grand Prix, have been mentioned as options. Weather could be a factor, as the Turkish Grand Prix has never been held before May, and the area and track could be cooler than teams would like.
In addition, there is not currently an event scheduled for France. For the past few seasons the French Grand Prix took place at Paul Ricard, but it was not named as one of the host circuits for the 2023 season.
Given that the majority of teams are based in Europe, one of the European options (Italy, Portugal or France) seems to be a wise bet. In 2022 F1 held an April race at Imola, so perhaps another event in Italy would be the play.
A spring break
There is also another option for F1.
An early spring break.
Given the fact that this season was set to be the longest in history, with 24 events, teams might be just fine with seeing that number dropped by one. The F1 season would still see its traditional summer break, in the latter half of June, as well.
However, with the growth of the sport, and the excitement that is already starting to build in advance of next season, F1 might try and forge ahead with a 24-race schedule. […]


The Patriots still lack an identity in the passing game

Early in the second quarter Thursday night against the Buffalo Bills, Mac Jones and the New England Patriots offense faced a 2nd and 11 on their own 8-yard line. Trailing just 10-7, this was the kind of moment where the young quarterback and his offensive cohorts needed to show that they too could put together important drives. That the New England offense could score points when it needed to, and not just keep the Patriots in games, but win them outright.
What happened on that second down is perhaps emblematic of their night, and perhaps their entire season. Now Patriots fans are left hoping it is not what the future looks like as well.
A night marred by boring route concepts, protection breakdowns, penalties, lackluster quarterback play, and overall ineffectiveness was on full display on this second-down play. Offensive play-caller Matt Patricia dialed up another route concept that the Patriots likely installed on the first day of training camp, with a stick concept to the left side and a slant/swing combination on the right:

Other than some presnap motion from Nelson Agholor, moving from the right slot to the boundary on the left, there is nothing imaginative about this design, which again the Patriots likely opened training camp by installing. And as the play itself unfolds, New England is lucky to avoid not one, but two penalties resulting in a safety:
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The Patriots give up pressure on the left side, starting with rookie guard Cole Strange. Ed Oliver bursts upfield and is quickly into the backfield, forcing Strange to react by dragging him to the turf, drawing a flag for holding. As that happens left tackle Trent Brown, playing through an illness, tries to cut block Shaq Lawson, an indication this is indeed a quick game concept. But Lawson avoids the cut, charging towards Jones.
Jones, who has yet to throw the ball — more on that in a second — simply dumps the ball at his feet, inches from the goal line.
Both the holding penalty, and the intentional grounding, were judged to have occurred in the field of play. Had either happened in the end zone? It would have been a pair of points for Buffalo.
Now, as for why the ball had yet to come out, here roughly the concept the Patriots use on the play, courtesy of an old Sean McVay playbook:

The only difference is that the back runs a swing route as opposed to a flat route in McVay’s design, but the general concept is the same.
As you can see, at least in McVay’s coaching of the concept, this is a half-field read for the quarterback. If both safeties are deep, you open to the left and read out the stick. If only one safety is deep — as Buffalo is here — you open to the right.
So, Jones opens to the right, reading out the swing route from Rhamondre Stevenson out of the backfield and the slant route from DaVante Parker. The swing is covered, and while there is a quick window for Jones to throw the slant to Parker, he hesitates. That hesitation brings linebacker Matt Milano, who is just reading his eyes, into play. Jones, afraid of leading Parker right into Milano’s path, tries to get his eyes to the stick routes, but by then it is too late.
In the words of Captain John Patrick Mason: “You must never hesitate.”
This use of quick-game concepts continued throughout the night, much to the frustration of the Foxborough faithful. Right before halftime the Patriots were gifted a golden opportunity to get right back in the game, as Josh Uche got to Josh Allen to force a fumble, which was recovered by Matthew Judon.
With 1:11 left in the half, New England took over on their own 42-yard line, trailing by ten.
But a combination of miscues, poor clock management, and more led to a field goal try, which clanked off the crossbar, denying New England points.
On that possession, you saw more quick-game concepts and designs, like this play to tight end Hunter Henry which paired dual slant routes on the right — “tosser” in New England’s terminology — with a slant/flat combination on the left:
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Again, no urgency, no sense of aggression, and a conservative play call with a conservative result.
Did Patricia and the Patriots make any halftime adjustments? Well, here is how they opened the third quarter:
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Slant/flat to the left, stick to the right. A conservative play call, and another conservative result.
As the Bills began to pull away in the third quarter, frustration boiled over for Jones, who was caught on camera losing his cool over the play-calling, and the quick game concepts:

After the game, Jones admitted to his frustration with the quick-game concepts, and talked about how the offense needed more explosive plays downfield:

But, in fairness to Patricia, you need time in the pocket to attack vertically. That time has not always been there for New England this year, as the Patriots have struggled to not just protect Jones, but find their best combination up front. Brown, as already noted, was playing through an illness. The Patriots started backup right tackle Conor McDermott, as Isaiah Wynn has been in and out of the lineup and is dealing with a foot injury, and his usual replacement, Yodny Cajuste, was out with a calf injury.
The struggles up front were noted by wide receiver Kendrick Bourne after the loss:

Kendrick Bourne just talked about the need to get the ball down the field but notes — “No disrespect to the line” — Mac Jones didn’t seem to have time to do that. Said the offense has “every tool” it needs to be great, but it’s not coming together.— Khari Thompson (@kdthompson5) December 2, 2022

And even when Patricia dialed up vertical concepts — and Jones had time — there were not many options. A play that drew a rousing chorus of boos from the Foxborough fans came in the fourth quarter, with the Patriots trailing 24-7. Facing 3rd and 15 at their own 38-yard line, this was the design Patricia radioed in to Jones:

Before diving into the routes, we should highlight the split — and assignment — for Parker, the single receiver on the right. He uses a condensed split, and after the snap is tasked with trying to chip the edge defender to help McDermott, before releasing into his route.
That speaks for itself.
Even with time in the pocket, there is nowhere for Jones to go with the football. The deep route from Bourne is covered, Henry’s deep out route is covered, and Jakobi Meyers, in the flat, is the best option:
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That is where Jones goes with the ball, but when Meyers is predictably stopped well short of the first down, the boos rain down from the stands. Understandably so, but where else was Jones supposed to go with the ball?
The bigger issue with this play is that the 2022 Patriots offense is not built for 3rd and 15.
It is built for 3rd and 5.
But the running game was not incredibly efficient on Thursday night. The Patriots gained 60 yards on 14 attempts, for an average of 4.3 yards per attempt, but in terms of Expected Points Added per Attempt, it looked much worse:

Data provided by RBSDM.com.
And while the Patriots did have success on early downs running the football, eventually the game got away from them, and they became one-dimensional. With their protection woes up front, their unimaginative route concepts, and lack of a game-changing receiving option, the passing game could not make up the difference.
Now, if there is a silver lining, New England might have found a pair of game-changing threats to build around in the future. First is wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, their second-round draft pick. The Patriots have struggled to identify outside receiving options in the draft, but Thornton could perhaps break that trend. Here in the fourth quarter, he runs a bang-8 post route, and after working way from the defender Thornton makes a good adjustment, and a tough catch:
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On this snap a few plays later, Thornton gets open downfield, erasing a huge presnap cushion from the cornerback:
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Jones just misses him.
Then there was New England’s lone offensive touchdown, which came courtesy of a screen to rookie cornerback Marcus Jones, who delivered a win for the Patriots a few weeks ago with a late punt return touchdown:
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This is a very good read from Mac Jones, a great effort from Parker, and a fantastic play from Marcus Jones. This is an RPO design, with the run element an outside zone design to Stevenson. But the QB identifies just before the snap that slot cornerback Taron Johnson has slid into the box, so he pulls and throws the screen to Marcus Jones. For his part Parker identifies the deep safety coming downhill, and he gets just enough of Damar Hamlin to spring the ball-carrier.
From there, the rookie does the rest.
It was Marcus Jones’ first offensive snap in the NFL, and it worked.
But while these rookies offer potential for the future of the Patriots offense, the present looks bleak. Patricia, perhaps concerned over protecting his quarterback in the pocket, is seems reluctant to push the ball downfield in the passing game. But when the game gets away from them on the scoreboard, or the running game cannot deliver like it did last year, problems arise.
Consider this. Last season, on their run to the playoffs, the Patriots had one of the best running game in the NFL. They ranked seventh in the league in EPA/Rush, and were seventh in Rush DVOA at Football Outsiders.
This year? New England is just 21st in EPA/Rush, and 24th in Rush DVOA.
They cannot run the football as effectively as they did a year ago, and this could be spilling over into their lack of an identity in the passing game. The Patriots lead the NFL with an Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt of 10.2 on play-action passes this year, according to charting data from Sports Info Solutions. Their quarterbacks have thrown for four touchdowns, against just one interception, on such designs.
Jones himself is sixth in the NFL in Pro Football Focus’s Adjusted Completion Percentage on play-action designs, ahead of MVP candidates Patrick Mahomes and Tua Tagovailoa. His Yards Per Attempt of 8.8 on play-action designs is tenth-best in the NFL, according to PFF.
The Patriots as a team have attempted just 54 play-action plays according to SIS, 31st in the league. Jones has attempted just 51 such plays, also ranking him 31st among PFF’s qualified passers.
Bill Belichick wants his teams to be playing their best football down the stretch. But right now, the Patriots passing game is still trying to figure out what they want to be. Are they a quick game offense? A play-action offense? A vertical offense?
What can they hang their hat on on 3rd and 7?
Because they have to figure out the answer to that question, and the clock is ticking.
And sure, “run more play-action” is such an easy, overwrought answer from people like me.
But the numbers are what they are.
Whatever the answer is, the Patriots need to find it. And fast. […]


Will Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens get the call from Cooperstown this weekend?

This Sunday, a 16-member committee composed of Hall of Fame players, executives, and media members will meet to debate and vote on the Hall of Fame merits of eight former MLB players.
In their hands these 16 individuals hold the Hall of Fame fates of players such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, and Albert Belle.
For the first time, the Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee will meet this Sunday to debate the candidacies of eight former players, all of whom made their primary contributions to major league baseball from 1980 to the present. Back in early November, the eight Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee finalists were announced, as selected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America-appointed Historical Overview Committee. The eight finalists are, in alphabetical order:

Albert Belle
Barry Bonds
Roger Clemens
Don Mattingly
Fred McGriff
Dale Murphy
Rafael Palmeiro
Curt Schilling

On Sunday, these 16 former players, executives, and media members will meet to discuss and debate the eight finalists: Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell; major league executives Paul Beeston, Theo Epstein, Arte Moreno, Kim Ng, Dave St. Peter and Ken Williams; and veteran media members/historians Steve Hirdt, LaVelle Neal and Susan Slusser.
The Historical Overview Committee, responsible for selecting the eight finalists, includes Bob Elliott (Canadian Baseball Network), Jim Henneman (formerly Baltimore Sun), Steve Hirdt (Stats Perform), Rick Hummel (formerly St. Louis Post-Dispatch), David O’Brien (The Athletic), Jack O’Connell (BBWAA), Jim Reeves (formerly Fort Worth Star Telegram), Tracy Ringolsby (InsidetheSeams.com); Glenn Schwarz (formerly San Francisco Chronicle), Susan Slusser (San Francisco Chronicle) and Mark Whicker (Los Angeles News Group).
Similar to the writers’ ballots, any candidate receiving 75% of votes on Sunday will earn induction into the Hall of Fame, as part of the Class of 2023. Ballots for the 2023 Baseball Writers’ Association of America election are being filled out at the moment. 14 players are on that ballot this year, including Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and Scott Rolen.
The results of the Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee voting will be announced on the MLB Network on Sunday night. The results of the BWAA vote will be announced in January.
How might Sunday’s debate, and vote, unfold? We have a tiny bit of insight into how some members of the committee have viewed these eight candidates in the past thanks to Ryan Thibodaux, who tracks Hall of Fame voting.
As you can see here, Slusser has voted for Clemens, Bonds, and Schilling on multiple occasions. She voted for all three as recently as 2021. Neal has also voted for all three in the past, and on multiple occasions. Neal voted for all three in 2021.
Are those prior votes a sign that Clemens, Bonds, and Schilling will get into the Hall of Fame? We will know more on Sunday night. […]


Patrick Mahomes is the QB of the Chiefs because of Matt Nagy

Perhaps Matt Nagy was just playing the long game.
Back during the 2017 draft cycle, the Kansas City Chiefs were one of many teams meeting with then-Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes. On the latest installment of the podcast New Heights with Jason & Travis Kelce, Mahomes pulled the curtain back on his meetings with the Chiefs and head coach Andy Reid, and just how far Nagy — who was on the Kansas City coaching staff at the time — went to make sure Mahomes made a good impression.
According to Mahomes, his meeting with Reid would include a discussion of plays in the Chiefs’ playbook. To make sure that the quarterback made a good impression, Nagy provided Mahomes with the plays that were to be discussed, allowing Mahomes to study them in detail the night before his meeting with Reid:

In the above exchange, Mahomes also outlines how he told the Chiefs just how far he could fall in the draft before teams would likely turn in a card with his name on it. According to Mahomes, once he fell to around 12th in the draft, other teams were going to draft him, and he passed on this bit of inside information to Kansas City.
We learned back in September that the New Orleans Saints, according to former head coach Sean Payton, were going to draft Mahomes with their pick at 11 overall.
Instead, the Chiefs traded with the Buffalo Bills and moved up to the tenth spot in the draft, selecting Mahomes just before the Saints.
Nagy, however, only enjoyed one season with Mahomes as the offensive coordinator in Kansas City. After Mahomes’ rookie year — where he watched Alex Smith operate the offense — Nagy was hired as the head coach of the Chicago Bears. That put Nagy in charge of the development of the quarterback who was drafted before Mahomes, Mitchell Trubisky.
We know how that ended.
Now, however, Nagy is back with Mahomes, as a senior offensive assistant and quarterbacks coach for Kansas City. That. gives Nagy the chance to work with Mahomes on a daily basis, with Mahomes now starting games in the NFL.
It took a little longer than expected, but Nagy is finally getting the chance to coach the quarterback he gave the answers to the test to a few years ago. […]


2022 World Cup: Knockout round schedule, and television information

The knockout stage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup is nearly set.
14 of the 16 spots in the round of 16 have been set, with 12 teams already locked into their matches for the knockout stage. Entering the final day of group play, both Brazil and Portugal have qualified, but whether they advance as winners of their respective groups, or as runners-up, is still to be determined.
Here are the scenarios for both Group G and Group H entering the final day of group play.

Both Portugal and Brazil will advance as winners of their respective groups with a victory, or a draw, in their final matches of group play. Each nation can also win their group with a loss, but that would require favorable results from the other final match in each group. Ghana, South Korea, Uruguay, Switzerland, Cameroon, and Serbia all have a chance at solidifying a place in the round of 16 on the final day of group play.
With the knockout round largely settled, we have a very good idea of the bracket for the rest of the World Cup.
Here is a look at the schedule for the round of 16 and beyond, along with television information for each match.

Round of 16
The knockout round begins on Saturday, with the United States — fresh off their thrilling win over Iran to advance — taking on the Netherlands. United States supporters are hoping that Christian Pulisic is available for that match after suffering a “pelvic contusion” while scoring the critical goal.
The other match on Saturday will see Lionel Messi try and keep his dreams of a World Cup alive as Argentia takes on Australia.
Saturday, December 3
Netherlands vs United States, 10:00 a.m. ET, FOX
Argentina vs Australia, 2:00 p.m. ET, FOX
Sunday sees two of the more impressive nations in action, as both England and France take the stage in the round of 16. France squares off with Poland, who advanced after holding on against Argentina in their final match of group play, while England tangles with Senegal, who rebounded from a loss in their opening match to the Netherlands by defeating both Qatar and Ecuador.
Sunday, December 4
France vs Poland, 10:00 a.m. ET, FOX
England vs Senegal, 2:00 p.m. ET, FOX
Japan, thanks to a thrilling victory over Spain in the final match of group play, advances as the winners of Group E. Their reward? A date with Croatia, who finished as runners-up in Group F, and conceded just once in three matches. The winner of that match will face the winner of the match between Morocco and Spain. Spain advanced despite their loss to Japan on Thursday, thanks to their 7-0 thumping of Costa Rica to open group play, which saw them through over Germany on goal differential. They’ll take on a Moroccan side which won their group, shocking Belgium 2-0 along the way.
Monday, December 5
Japan vs Croatia, 10:00 a.m. ET, FOX
Morocco vs Spain, 2:00 p.m. ET, FOX
Tuesday, December 6
1H vs 2G, 10:00 a.m. ET, FOX
1G vs 2H, 2:00 p.m. ET, FOX
Friday, December 9
Japan/Croatia Winner vs 1G/2H Winner, 10:00 a.m. ET, FOX (Match 57)
Netherlands/United States Winner vs Argentina/Australia Winner, 2:00 p.m. ET, FOX (Match 58)
Saturday, December 10
Morocco/Spain Winner vs 1H/2G Winner 10:00 a.m. ET, FOX (Match 59)
England/Senegal Winner vs France/Poland Winner, 2:00 p.m. ET, FOX (Match 60)
Tuesday, December 13
Match 57 Winner vs Match 58 Winner, 2:00 p.m. ET, FOX (Match 61)
Wednesday, December 14
Match 59 Winner vs Match 60 Winner, 2:00 p.m. ET, FOX (Match 62)
Third Place Match
Saturday, December 17
Match 61 Loser vs Match 62 Loser, 10:00 a.m. ET, FOX
World Cup Final
Sunday, December 18
Match 61 Winner vs Match 62 Winner, 10:00 a.m. ET, FOX
This post will be updated as teams advance. […]