131997T. Dilfer25382263322/122733 112006A. Smith22448293517/18776 TRANSLATED PASSINGAPPROX. VALUE —2015T. Bridgewater23405275711/1222— 51971D. Shaw24417276816/22119 202006J. Losman25434309820/15146 32008J. Flacco23430292615/151177 11978D. Whitehurst23403274113/131011 41973A. Manning24407277015/122568 The names on Bridgewater’s comp sheet illustrate the myriad directions in which a young quarterback’s career can drift, even after two solid NFL seasons. Troy Aikman and John Elway became Hall of Famers, and Tom Brady will join them in Canton someday. Joe Flacco, Archie Manning and Neil Lomax all flashed greatness at various times in their careers but didn’t maintain that level of play throughout. Trent Dilfer and Alex Smith salvaged the lost promise of their youth to become semi-successful journeymen, and Tim Couch and J.P. Losman were outright busts. The book on Cam Newton’s career is far from written.For a quarterback-rich franchise such as the Colts or Packers, the above list probably wouldn’t inspire a lot of enthusiasm about Bridgewater. For the Vikings, though, it represents a huge change from their recent fortunes. One way we can measure that is by looking at the Approximate Value (AV) that Bridgewater’s comps produced over the remainders of their careers. After weighting by their similarity to Bridgewater and making a slight adjustment for the fact that Bridgewater had more career AV through the season of comparison than his comps did,2How much a player outperforms his comps’ rest-of-career AV depends on the amount by which he outperformed them through the season of comparison. If a player has the same career AV as his comps did at the same age, he’ll be expected to have roughly the same AV going forward, as well. But if he had 50 percent more AV at the same age, we’d expect him to outproduce his comps by about 20 percent going forward; 50 percent less, and we’d expect him to produce about 13 percent less AV in the future., Bridgewater’s comps were good for about 46 AV in their remaining careers. Ever since the last premerger starting QB retired in 1981, the average NFL starter has consistently hovered around 40 points of future expected AV, so Bridgewater’s potential was better than the norm going into this season. And that was a big deal for the Vikings, who hadn’t featured a QB with such potential since Daunte Culpepper posted a brilliant season in 2004 (before falling apart the next season). Sources: Football Outsiders, Pro-Football-Reference.com 82000S. King23422278519/14162 162001T. Brady24410287419/1212211 21990T. Aikman24429275511/199113 92001T. Couch24451307318/212012 RANKYEARQUARTERBACKAGEATTYDSTD/INTTHRU YEARAFTER YEAR 102013R. Griffin23417282914/14285 172004B. Leftwich24447290514/111818 182013C. Newton24433298420/155132 71982N. Lomax2337525359/91567 Whatever momentum the Minnesota Vikings were riding after last year’s surprise division title has vanished with Tuesday’s devastating injury to starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s knee. Although he was fortunate the damage wasn’t even worse, the ACL injury will cause Bridgewater to miss the entire 2016 season.It’s not that Bridgewater was great last season; he was below average in passing-efficiency metrics such as adjusted net yards per attempt and Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average. But he was decent, and more important, still young. Bridgewater turned 23 last November, and that combination of youth and competence typically sets a quarterback up for at least a solid career, with room to develop into something greater. Long-term potential is something the Vikings have sorely lacked from their passers in recent years.One way of measuring a young quarterback’s promise is to find historical passers who produced similar statistics at the same age, and track how those players’ careers ended up panning out. To that end, I gathered seasonal data on every player to throw a pass in the NFL or AFL during the Super Bowl era (since 1966), and translated it to a common standard: a 16-game season with the NFL’s typical passing environment since offensive rules were liberalized in 1978.1Without this step, the NFL’s increased focus on passing would make cross-era comparisons impossible. I then plugged those numbers into Football Outsiders’ similarity score formula for quarterbacks, returning a list of the 20 most similar QBs for any given passer’s season.For Bridgewater, that list looked like this last season: 121995T. Dilfer2338726144/19753 192014T. Bridgewater22373256512/15913 61972D. Shaw25386260519/17182 Most similar passing seasons to Teddy Bridgewater’s 2015 season 152008T. Edwards25376265812/12135 141984J. Elway24385262517/1314189 Aside from the brief blip of Christian Ponder in 2012 — who gleaned 43 expected future AV out of an eclectic comp list that included Kordell Stewart (maybe the algorithm matched them because neither knew how to throw a football?) and Troy Aikman, plus Dilfer and Dave Brown — Culpepper was the last Viking passer with above-average potential before Bridgewater came along. And those three joined Randall Cunningham (right after his amazing 1998 resurgence) and Brad Johnson (from his first year at the team’s helm, in 1996) to create the only moments a Minnesota QB flashed superior potential in the last 28 years. The division-rival Packers have had a starter crack 40 AV of potential in a league-best 19 of the 23 seasons since the NFL’s free-agency era began in 1993; Minnesota’s topped average less than half as often.And with Shaun Hill now leading the Vikings’ depth chart, that trend is unlikely to improve. (Hill’s rest-of-career projection after last season: 1.9 AV.) Bridgewater hadn’t yet joined the elite ranks of NFL signal-callers, but he offered Minnesota the next-best thing: real potential. It was a rarity for the franchise, and a promise that will now have to remain on hold for another season.
The Oscar Pistorius murder investigation in South Africa, which has the attention of much of the world, has quickly degenerated into amateur hour. And you thought the Los Angeles prosecutors and police were incompetent during the O.J. Simpson trial of 1995?As bizarre as some of the twists in the Simpson murder trial of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman, already the Pistorius case has been jumbled. Most recently comes word that Hilton Botha — the lead investigator in the case of the Valentine’s Day shooting of Reeva Steenkamp — has a May court trial on seven counts of attempted murder. Yes, the detective is not only still on the job despite serious charges against him, but he is the lead investigator in the most publicized case in South Africa in recent memory.Police Brig. Neville Malila said Thursday that Botha and two other police officers fired shots while trying to stop a minivan in October 2011. The charges were initially dropped, but police said they learned Wednesday that the charges had been reinstated.“The (Pistorius) prosecutors were not aware of those charges (against Botha),” Medupe Simasiku, of the National Prosecution Agency, said. “We are calling up the information so we can get the details of the case. From there we can take action and see if we remove him from the investigation or if he stays.”That was Wednesday. Thursday Botha was, indeed, dismissed from the case and replaced by Lt. Gen. Vinesh Moonoo, who will “gather a team of highly skilled and experience detectives,” according to officials. Moonoo is called South Africa’s “top detective.” But he will have to overcome some damage Botha and others left behind.A checklist of police blunders helped the case against Pistorius unravel. Botha testified that authorities had no evidence to challenge the double-amputee Olympian’s claim he killed his girlfriend accidentally by shooting through the bathroom door because he thought a burglar was in his home in Pretoria, the South African capital.Prosecutors were seen rubbing their temples while looking down at their notes in dismay as Botha said he misjudged distances of a witness who said he heard shouting coming from the Pistorius house. Botha acknowledged that a forensics team left in the toilet bowl one of the bullet slugs fired at Steenkamp. Police also allowed a Pistorius friend to take evidence out of the home: bullets that the accused had for the murder weapon.It likely will be difficult to convict Pistorius, a national hero as it is. The police’s ineptitude so far has made it more difficult.To wit: Botha said the witness who heard “nonstop talking, like shouting” in the early-morning hours was in a house more than 650 yards away from the murder scene, a distance equal to four city blocks, making it nearly impossible for someone to hear from that distance.But when prosecutor Gerrie Nel questioned Botha, the veteran detective said the distance was much closer. Botha also said police found syringes and steroids in Pistorius’ bedroom. Nel cut off the officer and said the drugs actually were testosterone. Yes, much of the police investigation and testimony have been bungled, which may create doubt in the minds of the potential jurors.
Where will the players drafted by the NFL over the past few days do the bulk of their professional work? If trends in the past two decades continue, the answer is with the team that drafted them.For the piece I wrote last week on comparing consecutive years of the NFL draft, I downloaded year-by-year draft data from Pro-Football-Reference. The site includes, for each player in each year, his weighted career Approximate Value, a modified form of the site’s Approximate Value metric. It also includes the amount of the player’s weighted career value accrued for the team that drafted him.For each draft from 1970 to 2013, I summed the career value accrued for drafting teams by the first 222 players selected — 222, because that’s the lowest number of draft picks during the period, in 1994. Then I divided that by the overall career value of the year’s drafted players.From the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to 1981, drafting teams’ share of value kept climbing, to a high of 88 percent in 1981. Then the share started to fall, precipitously as the effects of free agency in 1993 started to kick in in players’ later years. Teams’ share of their drafted players’ career value was just 56 percent for those picked in the first offseason of free agency.At the dawn of free agency, some analysts feared this trend would continue unabated. “Say goodbye to dynasties and continuity,” Alan Greenberg wrote in the Hartford Courant 20 years ago this month. “Now everyone’s a raider. If the salary cap won’t let you pay ’em, you’ll lose ’em. If they’re no good, dump ’em and steal somebody else’s guys. What uniforms should players wear on their trading cards? How about blank?”And some have perceived that the trend has continued unabated. “Fans are increasingly rooting for the decals on their team’s helmets and against the decals on the other teams’ helmets,” Elliot Harrison wrote on NFL.com last year. “The truest loyalty in the player-fan relationship is of the fantasy football variety. You can thank free agency for that.”But the reality has been different. Right after that nadir in 1993, teams’ share of their drafted players’ career value rose sharply, to 64 percent the next year and 69 percent in 1995. It remained in the high 60s nearly every year afterward. The results are similar when looking at all of a draft’s picks, not just its first 222.The downside to this approach is it can’t be updated all the way to the present. Drafted players are more likely to play for their drafting team in their first seasons in the league, before becoming eligible for free agency. So while teams’ share climbed to 86 percent in 2009 and 98 percent last year, those percentages are sure to fall.To approximate the trend in recent years, I isolated the analysis only to players who were no longer active last season. And among that group, teams kept getting a higher share of their drafted players’ value — above 70 percent every year until 2005, when retired players’ share of drafts’ value starts getting so low that the results aren’t meaningful. Here’s one piece of anecdotal evidence: Many of the most valuable players drafted since then remain with their drafting team, such as Aaron Rodgers, Frank Gore, Jahri Evans, Haloti Ngata, Patrick Willis and Adrian Peterson.What this all means is up for further analysis and debate. Maybe teams have gotten better at identifying their drafted talent before rookie contracts are up. Maybe they’ve come to value continuity in their rosters, for on-field benefits and for fan support. Perhaps players value continuity for the same reasons. Maybe the 2011 collective-bargaining agreement has changed things for some of the more-recent draft classes.Whatever the explanation, it’s clear that free agency has had a far bigger impact on players’ freedom to change teams than it has on the uniforms shown on trading cards.
Love them or hate them, the Los Angeles Lakers long represented the closest thing the NBA had to a proverbial land of milk and honey. For the better part of three decades, the club often had a surplus of star players, a robust record, and the occasional championship trophy.Then they were hit with what equates to a biblical drought for their fans: a five-season stretch without a playoff berth.But on Sunday night, the sky opened up and watered the thirsting Laker franchise, as LeBron James, the world’s best basketball player, chose to join the Los Angeles club as a free agent, agreeing to a four-year, $154 million deal, according to Klutch Sports, the sports management agency that represents James.James’s choice will change the NBA landscape for obvious reasons. LeBron reached eight straight NBA Finals in the Eastern Conference, and his departure from his hometown Cleveland club almost certainly figures to put the Cavaliers back in the cellar, while also giving other teams in the badly diminished East — like Boston, Philadelphia and Toronto — a clearer path to the Finals.But the more pressing issue for the 33-year-old James is how quickly he and the young Lakers can become title contenders while Golden State essentially has a stranglehold on the league.The answer obviously hinges on the route Los Angeles takes next: either a more patient approach that lets the talented yet unseasoned Lakers develop around James, or a more aggressive one that involves trading some of that talent for a proven star like Kawhi Leonard.Regardless of which path the Lakers take, they will be considerably improved if LeBron can stay healthy the way he always has.According to CARMELO, FiveThirtyEight’s NBA player projection system, the current club with James would be projected to win 52 games, with an 11 percent probability of winning it all next season.1This assumes the Lakers would be keeping Julius Randle, who is currently a restricted free agent — one Los Angeles can exceed the salary cap to keep if it wishes. The projected win total would jump considerably, to nearly 60 victories with a 22 percent probability of a title, if the Lakers were to land Leonard in exchange for Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Luol Deng and a first-round pick or two. Such a deal would sting — Ingram has incredible potential, and Kuzma’s an impressive young scorer — and you can bet on the Lakers doing all they can to resist surrendering this sort of haul. Yet Leonard’s stature as a top-five talent when healthy is impossible to deny, and he would quicken any timeline for contention. (The late-Sunday-night addition of Lance Stephenson didn’t figure to help the team much, per our projections, which essentially label the ex-Pacer as a replacement-level player at this point.)The first scenario, in which LeBron plays with the homegrown Lakers, would be a pretty far cry from 2014, when he started his second stint with Cleveland by playing alongside two other established scorers in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and thrived in a wide-open offense that catered to James’s unique ability to drive and kick. The Lakers ranked near the bottom of the NBA in 3-point shooting and may need to scour the free-agent market for perimeter marksmen.And while Los Angeles boasts a much better defense than the Cavs had last year, the Lakers were similar to Cleveland in that they lacked a true rim-protecting presence on last season’s club. More than 30 percent of Lakers’ opponents shots came from within 3 feet of the basket, tied for the third-highest rate in the NBA last season, according to Basketball-Reference. (The Lakers also agreed to terms Sunday with JaVale McGee, who isn’t the most reliable on D. But he had his moments against James in the Finals and his wingspan helps him around the rim.)There would be at least one clear upside: After a year where James had to dominate the ball in Irving’s absence, he can now share that responsibility with second-year point guard Lonzo Ball. The two could connect quite frequently in transition, given that Ball is known for his uptempo style and long outlet passes, and James — looking to get a breather after some offensive possessions — will occasionally hang back and cherry-pick layups and dunks.Ball figures to be a part of the core going forward, even if the Lakers do push for Leonard. The Spurs — long seen as the league’s most straitlaced team — are rumored to lack interest in Ball, likely due to some of the off-court distractions that surround him. But having Leonard would carry obvious benefits. James — who hasn’t played on a roster without a prime-age All-Star-caliber teammate since the 2009-10 season2The 2015-16 season was the only one in that stretch where none of his teammates made the All-Star team, but Kyrie Irving only failed to make the roster because he was injured that year; his performance on his return was up to his usual standard. — wouldn’t have to shoulder nearly as much of the clutch-scoring burden. Perhaps more important: In a potential matchup with the Warriors, James wouldn’t necessarily have to defend Kevin Durant, as Leonard would be more than capable of handling that task.By no stretch of the imagination are the Lakers a force to be reckoned with yet. But after these last five years, the roughest dry spell in franchise history, this is a welcome shift. Depending on how aggressively Magic Johnson and the team’s front office handles the trade market, they could creep into Golden State’s rear-view mirror more quickly than many suspected. Nabbing LeBron James, even at damn-near 34 years old, will speed up just about any team’s process.— Neil Paine contributed to this story.CORRECTION (July 2, 2018, 12:25 p.m.): An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that LeBron James had not been on a team without at least one other prime-age All-Star since the 2009-10 season. In 2015-16, he was the only All-Star for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The nation’s top-ranked Akron Zips men’s soccer team looks to extend its 11-game shutout streak Wednesday when it visits No. 23 Ohio State for a match in which the Buckeyes are the underdogs. “We got nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting a good result in this game,” OSU coach John Bluem said. “The pressure is all on their team.” The Buckeyes (5-2-1) are hoping to parlay last Wednesday’s scoreless tie with No. 8 Louisville and Saturday’s 1-0 win at Michigan into momentum heading into tonight’s game and the upcoming Big Ten schedule. “It’s a chance to play the No. 1 team in the country and measure yourself against them,” Bluem said. “At the end of the year, if you want to be a Big Ten Champion or an NCAA Tournament participant, this is what you’re going to face,” Bluem said. Despite their shutout streak, the Zips’ defense doesn’t match up with their offense, defender Matt Gold said. “Someone always told me that the best defense is offense and that sums it up pretty well,” he said. “They are all very technical, talented and smart players.” Bluem said that in order to end Akron’s shutout streak, OSU must concede space defensively while using more defenders with the hope of being able to capitalize on counter attacks. Gold said Akron normally controls the ball for 70 percent of the game, which means opposing teams rarely get opportunities to score. “We just have to exploit their weaknesses,” midfielder Sam Scales said. “If they make a mistake we really have to take advantage of it, especially in the back, we got to counter and finish our chances.” The recent play of goalkeeper Matt Lampson might afford OSU’s defense to play more aggressively. Monday, Lampson received the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week accolades for his shutout efforts against Louisville and Michigan. He had 11 saves in Ann Arbor, Mich. “He was at his very best against Michigan,” Bluem said. “He had a great performance and he’s going to need to have a similar performance for us to be successful against Akron.” Kickoff against Akron is Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
OSU coach Urban Meyer is interviewed during media day on Dec. 29. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorOhio State coach Urban Meyer announced that freshman linebacker Baron Browning underwent shoulder surgery and will miss a couple months, which included the rest of spring practice. He said Browning should be back to 100 percent by June, which would make him ready for fall camp.Tuesday was Meyer’s first time speaking to the media in three weeks. Here are three takeaways from the press conference.InjuriesIncluding Browning’s shoulder, the Buckeyes are currently dealing with three other injuries and an academic issue.Meyer said redshirt sophomore defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton broke his foot a couple practices ago and will be “full speed soon.” Sophomore running back Antonio Williams and sophomore defensive end Jonathon Cooper are both sidelined with hamstring injuries. Cooper was seen jogging on the sideline with redshirt senior tight end Marcus Baugh who underwent offseason shoulder surgery. Williams was not seen at practice.Redshirt freshman tight end Kierre Hawkins is “taking care of some academic stuff,” Meyer said.Cooper and Hamilton were in the second-string rotation on the defensive line in spring practice. Hamilton played in all 13 games and had 2.5 tackles for loss, while Cooper played in six.Running back depth chartIt appears freshman running back J.K. Dobbins has taken advantage of Williams’ injury and has made the most of his decision to enrol early at OSU. Meyer said Dobbins is the No. 2 running back right now, behind starter redshirt sophomore Mike Weber. Meyer added that Dobbins and sophomore Demario McCall are battling for the second spot on the depth chart at running back.Dobbins — listed at 5-foot-10, 208 pound — joined a youthful running back group, with every player having three years of eligibility left. But it seems that it hasn’t taken long for the Texas native to impress his position coach Tony Alford, Meyer and the rest of the offensive staff.Meyer even said that Weber is being pushed quite a bit by Dobbins.“The best thing that can happen is competition and we didn’t have much last year at that position.”Wide receivers making stridesLast season, the wide receiver position was perhaps the most underwhelming position on the field for the Buckeyes. Already this spring, Meyer has seen great improvements, saying he’s somewhat impressed with the development of the group.“I put Parris (Campbell) No. 1,” he said. “I put K.J. (Hill) and Terry McLaurin either (No.) 2 slash (No.) 3. I put Ben Victor — he’s as talented as any I have ever coached — and then Austin Mack. Johnnie Dixon is having a good spring. Brendon White is actually making good plays for us. And Eric Glover-Williams, we just got to get everything in order. He’s real skinny. We just got to develop him because he’s got talent.”Campbell and Hill were primarily working out of the slot, playing as the inside receiver, in the hour time frame the media was allowed to watch at Tuesday’s practice. Meyer said that the plan for now is to play Campbell as the H-back, filling in for the departed Curtis Samuel.Other notes:Meyer called the 10 early enrollees “maybe the best group that we’ve had come in.”Junior college transfer cornerback Kendall Sheffield had his black stripe removed. He was practicing against the first-string receivers in 7-on-7 drills on Tuesday.Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Matt Burrell has been practicing with the first team. Redshirt junior Demetrius Knox is also practicing with first team.Justin Hilliard went back to practicing with the linebackers after undergoing shoulder surgery in late September.
Ohio State junior forward Mason Jobst prepares for a face-off against Robert Morris on Oct. 27. The Buckeyes won 5-3. Credit: Nick Hudak | For the LanternThe No. 15 Ohio State men’s hockey team (8-4-4, 3-4-1-0 in Big Ten) will continue its streak of conference play with a weekend series against No. 7 Minnesota (10-7-1, 4-5-1-1 in Big Ten) on Friday and Saturday. The Golden Gophers enter the series losing three of the past four games, but the losses were against high-ranked opponents in No. 14 Wisconsin and No. 4 Notre Dame. Ohio State is coming off a disappointing series against No. 18 Penn State, in which they lost in shootout after a 5-5 tie, then lost 4-0 the following game.“No one likes to lose, and certainly you don’t like to lose the way we lost on Saturday,” head coach Steve Rohlik said. “We’re playing one of the better hockey teams in the country, and we know we have to be ready, so obviously it’s important for us to get back and have a good effort.”Minnesota gets its scoring from a variety of players. Three Golden Gophers rank top-50 in the NCAA in points. Sophomore forward Rem Pitlick leads the team with eight goals and 19 points, followed closely by junior forward Tommy Novak and freshman forward Casey Mittelstadt with 17 and 15 points, respectively.With the Buckeyes taking a few weeks off after this series, junior defenseman Sasha Larocque understands the importance of playing well against Minnesota.“It’s huge, they’re a top team, both in the Big Ten and nationally, so it’s a good marker for us going into break here,” Larocque said.Minnesota is ranked 30th in goals for and tied for 12th in goals against in the nation. Its impressive lack of allowed goals can be largely credited to junior goalie Eric Schierhorn, who has played in goal every game for the Golden Gophers this season.Last season Ohio State and Minnesota split both series. The four games totaled a combined 39 shots finding the back of the net between both teams.“It’s an easy team to get up for,” Larocque said. “We’ve had … some real tough series against Minnesota, and we know they’re a great program, so we’re excited to play against them.”The Buckeyes look to fix their struggles at home and Rohlik said it’s all about fixing the mentality going forward.“That’s a good question. Certainly if I had (that answer) we’d already have that fixed, but I think it’s just a mindset,” Rohlik said. “On the road we feel a little more loose for whatever reason, and we just have to come out here at home and we have to win hockey games no matter where we’re at.”Puck drop for the series against Minnesota is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday and 8:00 p.m. Saturday at the Schottenstein Center.
Britain is set for another blast of Indian Summer with an unusually hot start to October forecast on the back of one of the warmest Septembers in recent years.The Met Office said people across most of England can expect temperatures to rise to more than 20 Celsius (68F) during the first week of next month.Tuesday, September 13 was the hottest September day in Britain for more than a century when the mercury soared to 34.4C (93.9F) in Gravesend, Kent. The average UK temperature for September over the last 30 years is 6.5C (61.7F), which September this year is expected to beat comfortably by several degrees. And forecasters say that October will also begin with a warm spell.Met Office forecaster Emma Sharples said: “There will be warmer than normal weather for the beginning of autumn.”The 30-year average for September is 17.8C (64F) for England and 16.5C (61.7F) for the UK.”The average temperature for September 2016 can’t be confirmed yet, but the indicative trend is that it will be a few degrees above average.”Even though this weekend and the beginning of October next week will see nothing like the 34C (93.2F) heat of a few weeks ago, next week will be fairly pleasant for the time of year. We expect to see temperatures breaking above 20C (68F).”UK weather forecast for Thursday, September 29 Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. But Ms Sharples warned that the weekend is also likely to see showers, which might cool down temperatures.She added: “Even though the weekend will see temperatures across the UK in the high teens, temperature is not the whole picture.”There will be quite a few showers, so it will not feel particularly warm.”
One Nato naval source said the Russian vessels were due to leave Severomorsk near Murmansk imminently and could pass Britain as early as next week.The source said: “It’s not catching us by surprise, we are working up what to do and we are all over it. The most likely thing is that they will go through the North Sea, down the Dover Strait and through the Channel.“They might even stop off the North East coast to fly for a bit.”But the source said it was also possible the Russian warships would split, with some going through the Irish Sea or down the West coast of Ireland, “to cause more trouble”.The source said: “Even if it splits five ways and we can’t man mark them, it doesn’t matter, we have got this covered.” The Royal Naval preparations come after Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, this week triggered a diplomatic row by saying he would “like to see demonstrations outside the Russian embassy” in London over Moscow’s role in the ongoing Syrian conflict.A former First Sea Lord on Friday said Russian posturing risked inflaming tensions further.Nato navies have been preparing a major operation to track the 55,000 tonne Admiral Kuznetsov and its escorts in a game of “naval cat and mouse” down through the North Atlantic to the Bay of Biscay and then into the Mediterranean. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Russia is expected to sail its only aircraft carrier through the English Channel later this month amid strained relations between London and Moscow over the Syria crisis.Royal Navy chiefs and their Nato allies are drawing up plans to escort up to eight Russian warships which are due to leave port imminently to join the country’s air strike campaign against Syrian rebels.Admirals believe the Kremlin will use the voyage as an opportunity for a show of strength as it passes Britain, and expect the carrier’s aircraft to launch flying drills off the British and French coasts. One Royal Navy Type 23 frigate and one Type 45 destroyer are being prepared to monitor the Russians, while an RAF Rivet Joint spy plane, C130 Hercules and Typhoon jets will also be on standby.But sources said, with the Royal Navy short of ships and sailors, the warships would have to be diverted from other missions to meet the Russian vessels.Sergei Shoigu, Russian defence minister, has said the carrier will be escorted by six warships and three or four support vessels. The Russian vessels are expected to include the battlecruiser Peter the Great and a Udaloy class destroyer.Once in the Mediterranean, the Kuznetsov is set to take up position off the coast of Syria for four to five months, where it could uses its complement of MiG-29K/KUB jets and helicopters to carry out airstrikes.Lord West of Spithead, a former First Sea Lord, said the Russians were entitled to sail down the Channel, and the ageing carrier was not fully operational, but he said the country’s posturing over Syria would risk inflaming tensions.He said: “When people start posturing, things become dangerous. It all raises tensions and makes things more difficult and that’s not a clever thing to do.“It makes sense to have them monitored by a couple of Nato ships. The fact that the Navy is scrabbling around for a frigate is symptomatic of the fact that it’s a national disgrace we only have 19 surface escorts.He said: “I find Russia very worrying at the moment. Their economy is on a war footing.”Dr Igor Sutyagin, a Russia expert at the Royal United Services Institute, said that as the country’s economy foundered it was left only with its military might to project influence.
You have to subscribe to the groupthink to get on, and that is not healthyEd Vaizey “Let’s not beat about the bush: the arts are relentlessly left wing,” he said. “Anyone rightwing probably works at Christie’s.“As Munira Murza [the former London]mayor’s head of culture] once said: there is no pro-fox hunting play. Indeed, there are no plays about over-powerful trade unions letting down their members. Benedict Cumberbatch famously used the Hamlet stage to deliver an impassioned political speech in aide of refugees Delivering the Chairman’s Lecture at the Royal Society of Arts, Mr Vaizey called on leaders to stop greeting new culture secretaries with “unremitting hostility” and treating them like philistines.He said he was now in a position to deliver some truths he would have been “murdered” for uttering while in government, as he insisted it was time for museums, galleries and libraries to work more closely with innovative digital companies instead of relying on old models.“There is massive groupthink in the arts, both in terms of cultural policy and in terms of cultural offers,” he said. Ken Loach has been praised by Jeremy Corbyn for his films The British arts establishment is suffering from relentlessly left-wing “groupthink”, the former Culture Minister has said, as he argues it should stop simply begging for more public money and start pursuing more radical ideas.Ed Vaizey, who was removed from his position earlier this year by Theresa May, said there are few plays representing a right-wing point of view, with a tendency for the arts community to “sit in a bubble” and cold-shoulder anything different.He argued it was now essential for the arts lobby to challenge the overriding view that “all must stay the same”, and stop insisting that no library or museum should ever be shut down no matter how poor or under-used its service. “As a Remainer, there is no pro-Brexit play attacking unaccountable Brussel’s bureaucrats building a European superstate. There’s no play exposing the corruption and abuse in a country like Venezuela – why not?“The arts sit in a silo in Whitehall, but perhaps they sit in a bubble outside of Whitehall, where everyone in the arts community reinforces each other’s thinking and cold-shoulder people with different points of view. Mr Vaizey attends the BFI London Film Festival earlier this month “You have to subscribe to the groupthink to get on, and that is not healthy.”He told an audience: “There were very few radical ideas put to me when I was a minister. I was only ever asked for more money.“The view seemed to be a simple one: no museum or library must ever close, no performing arts organisations must ever be shut down – if it was funded once, it must be funded forever. All must stay the same.”Praising the arts as a whole, Mr Vaizey went on to call for a halt to financial cuts, adding he hopes Mrs May will acknowledge that the “arts do a huge amount for our country”. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.