Browse Month: February 2018

There are two big issues the supposed fix doesn’t address. One, the Patriots easily could be 0-4 in Super Bowls since Spygate.

“A perfect storm of issues” led to Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler being benched for Super Bowl 52, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday evening.

Butler, who because of illness arrived in Minneapolis a day after the rest of the Patriots, apparently didn’t practice well and, in a final complicating factor, violated a team rule “believed to be related to curfew,” according to the report.

Teams and coaches have always embraced the underdog role. The Eagles and Pederson brought it to a new level, as the team was motivated by the disrespect shown by oddsmakers who had the sixth-seeded Falcons and then the Vikings favored over the top-seeded Eagles.

The dog masks were a cute prop, but they sent a message of how the team and the proud city of Philadelphia felt when they were written off as injuries mounted. Besides Wentz, the Eagles lost All-Pro tackle Jason Peters, middle linebacker (and defensive signal caller) Jordan Hicks, elusive running back Darren Sproles, special teams captain Nick Maragos and kicker Caleb Sturgis.

They lost twice to the Giants, and unless you believe Seattle’s Russell Wilson intentionally tossed an interception at the goal line and Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan threw the game with play-calling, there is no cheat code for those New England victories. Had the Patriots lost those two games, the narrative around Belichick and Brady would be a hell of a lot different.

Two, there is never a good explanation for the entanglements within Goodell’s web. Does Goodell instruct officials not to call penalties on the Patriots? Do Belichick and Brady have knowledge of the situation? Is a ref patting Brady on the shoulder indicative of a league-wide conspiracy that if uncovered would destroy the NFL? If such conspiracy existed, millions would never watch again.bills_028

The Lions are expected to retain offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter

The move is noteworthy considering Detroit will officially hire Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia after New England competes in Super Bowl 52 against the Eagles.

Patricia will replace former head coach Jim Caldwell, who was dismissed on New Year’s Day after four seasons in Detroit.

“I’ve got a good routine that has really worked for me, especially the last 10-12 years. As long as I feel like I’m willing to make the commitment to do those things then I feel like my body will allow me to do that.”

The inevitability that he someday no longer will “feel good week after week, year after year” is not lost in Brady. The perceived robot eventually will reveal himself as a human vulnerable to an aging process. But why should Brady wait for that drift to mediocrity?

49. Robert Nkemdiche, defensive tackle, Cardinals (NR): He smoked synthetic marijuana, fell four stories out of an Atlanta hotel, got kicked off the team at Ole Miss, then threw teammate Laremy Tunsil under the bus at the scouting combine with one of the most (unintentionally) entertaining media sessions you will ever see.

50. Moritz Boehringer, wide receiver, Vikings (NR): A surprise sixth-round pick from Germany, Boehringer, currently on the practice squad, is trying to become the first player ever to make the direct leap to the NFL from European football.

It’s curious, because in Week 3, Watkins had six catches for 106 yards.

“As a player, of course you’re going to be frustrated,” Watkins told reporters in L.A. this week. “I don’t know a player, a wide receiver, that’s not frustrated throughout the game if you’re not getting the ball. Each week, it could change.’’

Burfict haters came into focus when Steelers players accused him of celebrating Le’Veon Bell’s season-ending injury in 2015. From there, Burfict’s beef with Pittsburgh continued, and a personal foul for a hit on Antonio Brown led to a three-game suspension for Burfict heading into 2016. He has developed a reputation because of too many personal fouls, which takes away from his tremendous talent on the field.bills_001

Remember that Dorsey’s first big move for the Chiefs was trading for Alex Smith.

“Whether it was or wasn’t, I can’t be the one to get a tech there in the fourth quarter,” Griffin said. “That put us in a hole and kind of started the whole onslaught, for lack of a better word, of technicals we got throughout the last four or five minutes, whatever it was. So I got to be better. But there’s a reason why there’s so much disparity and so much back and forth and so much tension right now [between players and officials].”

Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell got another technical foul a few minutes later, before Rivers and Woodson were kicked out of the game right before its conclusion.

Cleveland will have the West Coast intact as Hue Jackson adds an offensive coordinator, with former Giants coach Ben McAdoo as the leading candidate. Cousins also has said he would “seriously consider” playing for the Browns, despite their winless 2017 season. At a whopping $110 million under the cap, the Browns have plenty of space. Using some of that to lock up Cousins would still give new GM John Dorsey a ton to spend elsewhere in free agency. The Browns could then also draft the best players available at picks No. 1 and No. 4 in the first round.

He backed that up by putting the right support around Smith to make him most effective. The Browns already have several good skill-position players in place with Duke Johnson Jr., Corey Coleman, Josh Gordon and David Njoku. All signs point to it being Cleveland vs. the field for Cousins’ services.

Curry and Thompson combined to shoot 9-of-31 from the field. They finished with 19 and eight points, respectively.

“Shot selection definitely could have been better; KD was open for the dunk, but Klay hits that shot very often,” Green said of the play that would have pulled the Warriors to within one with 2:04 left. “So, I’m not going to look back and say, ‘Ah man we lost.’ … It is what it is. Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve.”

The Warriors coughed up the ball 19 times, translating to 23 points for the Rockets. Durant registered a team-high 26 points to go with seven boards and five assists. Chris Paul had a game-high 33 points along with 11 rebounds and seven assists in 35 minutes of play.

“Overwhelmed” would be a kind word to describe Peterman’s two starts as a fifth-round rookie. But keep in mind he went into the season as more of a developmental project and not with the mindset that he was going to be the No. 1 over Taylor. A full offseason with that mentality, in addition to more help around him, is bound to make Peterman improve.cowboys_095

We want to have a high bar set for screening.

As of the middle of November, the NFL said it had conducted 379 concussion evaluations (including preseason games). The NFL and the NFL Players Association are reviewing the Savage case; the two have a policy in place to jointly investigate these cases and determine if there was a violation. If warranted, discipline can be handed down.

“Those are just the amount of times that people were screened,” Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s Chief Medical Office, said in a briefing Nov. 14. “And to be clear, we want that number to remain high. Our motto to all of our personnel on game day is if you see something, say something. We want anyone who has a concern to point it out, we want to be very aggressive in our screening.”

The Falcons witnessed it to excruciating effect a year ago — another comeback, that time in Super Bowl LI, executed without Gronkowski. It was the Jaguars’ turn this time, after holding an 11-point lead in the second quarter and a 10-point lead as the fourth quarter began. That the penalties were lopsided — just one for the Patriots and six for the Jaguars — or that the Jaguars seemed to lose confidence in Blake Bortles late are part of the conversation in the immediate aftermath of this game, but the common thread of all these years has been Brady covering up for a multitude of Patriots misfortunes.

But, in truth, what Kelly has done in the NFL has been more nuanced and complex. Clearly, you don’t want him in charge of your roster. You don’t want him as your head coach, at least not at this point.

Yet there has been some evidence, which is easy to overlook now, that his offense can work at this level, if he’s given the right players.

It will be interesting to see if Kelly ever is given another NFL chance as an offensive coordinator, if that is indeed what he wants, and what will happen if that ever comes about.

He tiptoed up the sideline then cut across the field, leaving Patriots defenders in his wake, forcing everyone to consider that the Steelers’ inability to contain Rob Gronkowski, who had galloped for consecutive 26-yard receptions on the go-ahead touchdown drive, would wind up being irrelevant. Then came James’ seeming touchdown and Roethlisberger said the team was “extremely ecstatic.” Then, the play was overturned, and the Steelers had to reel their emotions in one last time, to try to figure out what to do.cowboys_060

Bennett said he has remained in touch with Kaepernick on a weekly basis and wants to see Kaepernick signed by an NFL team.

“I’m hoping he has an opportunity to play,” Bennett said. “Obviously I believe that he’s had an impact in the country. You see what he started, taking a knee, and how he’s affected the communities from young children to even older Americans and finding a way to have an impact. I believe that if this conversation is happening with the commissioner and happening with our employers, his job situation should be brought up and it should have some kind of resolution.”

Bennett was among a group of eight Seahawks players in uniform who sat on the bench on the team’s sideline during the anthem Sunday. He said the status of Kaepernick is not the only issue of concern for the players.

Kenny Stills, WR, Dolphins: Stills is still widely available (owned in 44 percent of ESPN leagues) and while he won’t likely duplicate his 180-yard effort in Week 11 (with a touchdown), he has tallied more than 65 yards in four of the past five weeks and has been outperforming DeVante Parker. Stills has been better with Matt Moore at quarterback, and with Moore looking like he will be starting again in Week 12, that bodes well for Stills. Even if the ailing Cutler (see above) manages to start, Stills still warrants consideration if you’re in need of an WR2 or flex play.

Gruden has made no secret of his interest in Carr, and this is where the Raiders will be on the surest footing. Gruden’s acumen is in getting the most out of quarterbacks — he brought Rich Gannon to the greatest heights of his career and then won a Super Bowl in a season in which he used Brad Johnson, Rob Johnson and Shaun King as starters. And Gruden has surely paid the closest attention to the evolution of offensive play over the years he has been gone.

Hernandez’s professional career was not a long one. He played 44 NFL games, including the playoffs, in three seasons for the Patriots before he was arrested at age 23. He also played in 40 games in three seasons at the University of Florida, but research has found that football players suffer from CTE regardless of how long they play the game or what level they reach. Recent studies suggest that the accumulation of smaller hits can damage the brain as much — if not more — as the head-rattling collisions that might result in concussions.
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It does that a lot for the Patriots, in large part because they create so much chaos for opponents.

They’re equal in that sense. But a lack of this kind of tenacious leadership from the top is what eliminates 80 percent of teams from being able to compete consistently with Belichick’s Patriots. I know Coughlin coaches harder and demands more out of players than at least three-fourths of coaches in the league. That’s why Coughlin’s teams have enjoyed success vs. Belichick.

The Falcons forget about bleeding the clock and running the ball and the Patriots mount a Super Bowl comeback for the ages. The Steelers get their signals crossed and the Patriots steal a game that had seemed lost more than once.

It was crushing and elating, a frenetic jumble of brilliance and misfires and there is nobody who wouldn’t sign up for more, perhaps a month from now.

“Yes, because that means we made it pretty far,” Roethlisberger said.

Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs is the key to Baltimore upsetting Pittsburgh. The 35-year-old has 10.5 sacks this year and is the team’s highest-ranked pass rusher per the game charters at Pro Football Focus. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, meanwhile, sees his passer rating drop from 102.2 to 49.1 under pressure this season.

Two teams currently locked in a three-way tie for the AFC West, the Chiefs have been a mere shell of the juggernaut we saw during the first few weeks of the season.

During the first six games of the season, the Chiefs were scoring 2.6 points per drive while allowing 1.9. During the last six games that has declined to 1.8 and 2.2, respectively. Kansas City’s red-zone efficiency has also continually declined from the start of the season.

Added Harden, who hit a dagger stepback 3-pointer with 1:10 remaining: “We’re confident. We’re just a confident group, especially with everybody healthy. We get Trevor and Gerald back, and then we’ve got a strong rotation where we’re very versatile. Obviously, [the Warriors are] a championship-caliber team for the past four years or whatnot. That’s what we’re trying to build our way up to.”cowboys_001