In implementing a construction method described as “a modern version of masonry,” Kengo Kuma Associates have designed a unique members-only tea house located across from Beijing’s forbidden palace. Hollow, molded polyethylene, which is a common plastic used in various packaging, was utilized to build the tea house, then taking advantage of premium insulation aspects and natural lighting. The shop is meant to showcase a blend of Chinese traditionalism and new school design elements, as it also awards with numerous hidden views of the historic forbidden palace that is positioned opposite of the tea house.
Last season, Matthew Stafford was given a wise, fatherly, offensive-minded head coach with Super Bowls under his belt and a stamp of approval from Peyton Manning. Stafford was given a bright young offensive coordinator plucked from one of the most aggressive passing offenses in the game. He was given a high-profile free-agent wideout and a high-flying rookie tight end.
He didn’t do much with them.
Yes, the Lions won 11 games. Yes, Stafford finally snuck into the Pro Bowl. But the 2009 No. 1 overall pick didn’t just fall far short of his once-obvious potential, he was arguably worse than Jay Cutler—whose disastrous season got just about everyone at Halas Hall fired.
If the Lions hadn’t had the NFL‘s No. 3 scoring defense in 2014, they wouldn’t have come anywhere near the playoffs. Without All-Pro Ndamukong Suh anchoring that unit, the pressure’s on Stafford to produce. With reinforcements at running back and offensive line, and a full offseason in Joe Lombardi’s offense, Stafford’s officially out of excuses.
With most of his contract’s dead money coming off the books next season, the Lions will have to decide after this season whether Stafford is still the quarterback of their future.
Coming into training camp, Stafford’s coming off a 2014 performance that feels tough to quantify. There were fewer indelible moments, positive or negative, and the Lions offense frequently ground out just enough to win—save a couple of games blown by abominable kicking.
In fact, it’s easy to quantify. That’s what statistics are for! Here’s how Stafford ranked across the major rate stats and analytics:
The popular narrative of Stafford’s 2014 performance was more cautious play leading to more wins. But while Stafford’s interception rate was the lowest of his career, he hardly played mistake-free football.
If anything, Stafford’s long-standing issues with accuracy and attention to detail on routine passes were worse than ever. Per Pro Football Focus, Stafford’s Accuracy Percentage (completion rate, adjusted for drops, spikes, throwaways and the like) was ranked 22nd in the NFL, sandwiched between unimpressive youngsters Geno Smith and Blake Bortles.
It would be easy to blame the transition to a new offense, but if anything Stafford got less sharp as the season wore on. His 21 incompletions in the division-deciding regular-season finale were a lowlight reel of blown reads, miscommunications and just plain bad throws.
Compared to the rest of his career, Stafford wasn’t far off recent norm when it came to down-to-down effectiveness. His completion rate, average yards-per-attempt and adjusted net yards-per-attempt have been steady over the past three seasons.
The real difference came in the high-leverage numbers: Stafford posted his best interception rate, but a very poor touchdown rate—and, by far, his career-worst sack rate.
Jim Caldwell and Lombardi, brought in to fix the perennially underachieving offense (read: Stafford) got essentially identical results as the previous regime, except they cut down on interceptions by also cutting down on big plays, doubling his sack rate in the process.
Going into 2015, Stafford simply has to execute the down-in, down-out offense at a much higher level—and find a way to get the long ball back, even if it means the occasional turnover.
As is the case around the NFL each spring, sunny stories about the team are blooming everywhere.
“I think we’re definitely ahead of where we were,” wideout Golden Tate told Paula Pasche of The Oakland Press after OTAs, claiming a night-and-day difference in the offense—and Stafford’s—comfort level with the system. Pasche agreed, noting that Stafford’s familiarity with the offense caused minicamp to run noticeably faster this year than last.
“When he’s more comfortable with the system, which he is, you can see without question that he’s operating at a faster pace,’’ Caldwell told Pasche. “There’s not a whole lot of time when he’s standing in the huddle before he makes the call and he’s got to think it a little bit, which they’d often do because we have an offense that has some verbiage to it. So, it takes a little getting used to. I’ve seen him develop in that area.”
Tate, like many hopeful Lions fans, thinks the offense is very close, and it won’t take much better from Stafford to make a huge difference in the W column.
“If we just convert one or two more third downs a game, score seven more points a game or one less penalty we will see improvement,” Tate said. “So we’re not trying to totally make over our team. We have what it takes to be a good team and be a good team for a long time. We just want to keep building on what we did last year.”
That all would be true if the Lions defense is again the third-best scoring defense in football—a huge ask, as the Lions’ top three defensive tackles from 2014 are all under contract elsewhere. If the defense backslides to a middle-of-the-pack unit, the Lions could backslide into sub-.500 form.
Stafford can’t just avoid being the reason the Lions fail. He’s got to—as he was in 2011—be the reason the Lions succeed. The good news: He’s got an incredible cast of pass-catchers, a revamped stable of running backs including second-round pick Ameer Abdullah, and a further-enhanced offensive line featuring first-round pick Laken Tomlinson.
If he succeeds, Stafford will have two years left on his deal going into 2016, when the cap may jump to $160 million, and Russell Wilson will have set the market for quarterbacks incredibly high. The Lions, free of obligations to pay Suh, could lock Stafford up for life with a massive six- or seven-year deal.
If Stafford doesn’t put it all together now, though, he likely never will.
Facing that cold reality would be relatively easy, from the Lions’ standpoint: Stafford’s dead-money number falls from a horrifying $27 million, per Spotrac.com, to a manageable $11 million in 2016. 2017 is his lame-duck year, so Stafford’s contract won’t make him untouchable. In fact, as Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole reported, Calvin Johnson may be in for an early exit, too.
If Stafford doesn’t improve significantly in 2015, he could—like Jay Cutler—trigger a full-scale rebuild that goes all the way to the top.
The last time Serena Williams played Victoria Azarenka, they exchanged angry gestures, testy words – and a pair of shorts. If the rematch of that tense three-setter at the French Open is half as good, fans at Wimbledon should be in for a treat. Williams takes on Azarenka again in the quarterfinals at the All England Club on Tuesday, hoping to keep up her dominance against a player she considers a friend off the court.
Britain to observe minute’s silence at 11.30am to mark the 10th anniversary of atrocity in which 52 people were murdered and hundreds more injured when four suicide bombers attacked London’s transport network
I personally believe that we have to get on and I think it will stay with us for a very long time. As a nation, as a country we have to stand up. But it affects us all indirectly. I feel for the families involved and we’re actually traveling out on the 11:08 – the passengers and all the crew on board will be asked to join us in a one minute silence at 11:30.
Michelle, Virgin crew manager, says memories will never leave her colleagues who had pulled into platform 1 that day pic.twitter.com/7VHtftkBTe
Beveridge said some of her colleagues had been working on a train on the day 10 years ago, and had just pulled into platform one when it happened. The memories of the panic and not realising what had happened has never left them.
At 9.47am, the time the bomb was detonated on the number 30 bus, dozens of people, including families and friends of those who died fell silent.
Some gathered by a memorial plaque on a railing beside the road where flowers and tributes had been left in memory if the victims.
He who takes the life of a single person, it is as if he took the life of the whole of humanity.
Juventus President Andrea Agnelli has suggested Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal could be sold at any time, despite Giuseppe Marotta, the club’s CEO, dismissing rumours the player could join Arsenal or another European side.
“About Vidal those are only rumours,” said Marotta, per Sky Italia (h/t Marc Williams of the Daily Star). However, Agnelli appeared to leave the door ajar for any potential suitors.
“Nothing is 100 percent in football, players are not for sale starting from September 1,” he said, per Williams. “Some years ago we said (Christian) Vieri was not for sale and he went to Atletico Madrid [a] few days after.”
Arsenal continue to be linked with the destructive midfielder, per Williams. He recently played a major role in Chile securing the Copa America on their own turf and was a key factor in Juve reaching the 2015 Champions League final.
He provides the kind of grit which can stop the opposition moving forward, not to mention passing quality and the ability to score quality goals, as highlighted below:
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has already landed one piece of excellent business in goalkeeper Petr Cech this summer. However, the north London side possess a plethora of lightweight, creative midfielders, so the boss needs to follow Cech’s arrival with the addition of an experienced defensive specialist for the centre.
According to the Daily Star (h/t Telegraph Sport), Wenger could be set to do battle with Manchester United for the signing of Bayern Munich star Mario Gotze. This would be an exceptional capture for either club, but it would overlook Arsenal’s need to find a midfield behemoth.
ESPN FC writer Andrew Mangan recently discussed the potential signing of Southampton stalwart Morgan Schneiderlin and how his arrival would be weighed up against the emergence of Francis Coquelin:
With Southampton looking for a fee of around £24m for Schneiderlin, it creates something of an issue. It’s not that Arsenal can’t afford him; it’s what that kind of price-tag means. Do you pay £24m for someone to play second fiddle to Coquelin? Does a £24m player sign for a club unless he’s confident he’s going to be a first-team regular? With the price comes an expectation.
Although unlikely, Vidal’s arrival would bypass this difficult situation and see him slot straight into the side.
Pedro to Remain at Barcelona?
Despite being majorly overlooked during 2014-15, Barcelona forward Pedro Rodriguez has told boss Luis Enrique he wishes to remain at the Camp Nou, according to the Mirror‘s John Cross, who noted Arsenal’s interest.
Pedro is a dynamic, goalscoring winger who would be a top signing for most European clubs. The Gunners are well-stacked in this area, though, particularly after signing Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez last summer.
The Spaniard remained on the bench for the majority of last season due to the brilliance of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez for the Blaugrana. He still scored six and assisted six in La Liga, per WhoScored.com, and he was able to make an impact when needed. Cross suggested he is valued at £15 million, a sum which would rank among the bargains of the year.
B/R UK’s Andy Brassell recently discussed more pressing transfer business surrounding the Gunners:
Wenger needs to add one or two world-class players to have an excellent squad on his hands. He must build on the signing of Cech—an experienced star who knows how to win—by only adding those who offer an upgrade to Arsenal’s current options.
Doing so will allow the side to compete for more than the FA Cup next season.
This morning when you wake up the heat will already be on. Expect mid-70s throughout the morning but with dew points in the 60s, it will feel warmer than that.
Throughout the day, expect partly cloudy skies with the chance for some isolated showers and a high of 85°.
Tonight, there is a chance for some pop up thunderstorms as a trough of low pressure passes and a cold front approaches. It looks like we’ll hit our high for the week Wednesday with a hazy high of 88° and an increased risk for precipitation.
Temperatures cool down a tad for Thursday with temps in the low to mid 80s and although there is still a shower chance, it looks like this weekend is shaping up to be one of the nicer ones thus far.
That’s all I have for now. Be sure to check back soon for more weather updates.
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Chinese shares took anothertumble Tuesday, defying government efforts to arrest a precipitous fall that has wiped an estimated $3.2 trillion off markets and threatens the world's number-two economy. The government over the weekend announced a halt to initial public offerings (IPOs) and moves to pour funds into the market to end three weeks of plunging prices. Analysts say the heavy-handed intervention throws into question the pace of China's economic reforms and the ability of the government to deflate what many describe as a stock market bubble.
Letting The Freedom Of Truth Uncover The Value Of Life