Monthly Archives: January 2017

Aaron Rodgers said he spent the first nine games of the season feeling out of rhythm

Rodgers doesn’t sleep much after games, and that night was no exception. His mind kept running through the plays he’d missed. He went home and talked to his girlfriend, actress Olivia Munn. She asked him what he thought about 4-6. “I really think we’re going to turn this thing around,” he told her. “I think we could win our next six and make the playoffs.”

“Really?” she asked.

He went over his plan, and a couple of days later, Rodgers told the local news media the same thing. “I feel like we can run the table,” he said.

In Eastern Wisconsin, winters are filled with inevitabilities: The earth will freeze, the beer will flow, and when Aaron Rodgers makes a bold statement, the tables will turn.

Aaron Rodgers said he spent the first nine games of the season feeling out of rhythm.

It might sound silly, that eight little words could alter a team’s season and a quarterback’s legacy. These are grown men, this is the NFL, and speeches are kind of like fairy tales. But the Packers won that next game at Philadelphia, then beat Houston and throttled the Seattle Seahawks. By the time they looked up, they’d won six straight and were in the playoffs, then it was seven, then eight straight games.

Now they’re in the NFC Championship Game after a breathtaking win at Dallas in which Rodgers threw a laser across his body, perfectly into the hands of a toe-dragging Jared Cook on the sideline with three seconds to go to set up the game-winning field goal.

His linemen can handle the defensive line, then the real game begins with the remaining two levels, using peripheral vision to scan intruders off the edge. When running inside zone, he wants the linebacker to think he’s going outside or cutting into a different hole.

Greg Hardy suspension reduced to 4 games

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Greg Hardy’s 10-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy has been reduced to four games, according to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. Shortly after the NFL handed down the punishment, the Dallas Cowboys defensive end formally filed an appeal through the NFLPA. Hardy’s appeal hearing lasted more than seven hours on May 28 and was presided over by arbitrator Harold Henderson, who decided the initial suspension was too long.

Adam Joseph Duhe Jersey In a statement, Henderson said that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was correct when he determined that Hardy had violated the league’s personal conduct policy. “However,” the statement added, “ten games is simply too much, in my view, of an increase over prior cases without notice such as was done last year, when the ‘baseline’ for discipline in domestic violence or sexual assault cases was announced as a six-game suspension.

Still, there’s something to be said for the talent he’s shown on the field to this point, and it makes sense for an NFL team to take a flier on him. Battle would have become an undrafted free agent had St. Louis not selected him, making him free to sign with anyone. With his ceiling, he’s worth the investment, especially at this point in the offseason where teams have generally finished signing players and are set to head into training camp.

The Rams also spent four draft picks in 2015 on offensive linemen, to support a new power running game behind rookie first-round pick Todd Gurley.

No other player was selected in this year’s supplemental draft. The other eligible players included West Georgia defensive linemen Darrius Caldwell and Dalvon Stuckey, Houston defensive end Eric Eiland, UConn tight end Sean McQuillan, Kansas defensive back Kevin Short and North Carolina Central wide receiver Adrian Wilkins. All of those players will become undrafted free agents and are free to sign with any team.

Four biggest questions headed into NFL conference title games

Limited Brandon Myers Jersey Only three games remain in the NFL season, and two of them will be played Sunday. The biggest question those two will answer is the one we’ve been asking since the summertime: Who will play in Super Bowl LI?

But Sunday’s conference championship games come with plenty of their own questions that need to be answered along the way. Here’s a look at four of the biggest.

There’s a lot of reasons for Boston to feel good about itself and that would include the fact that the Brooklyn Nets, whose draft spot the Celtics can swap into in June, have lost 11 straight games. Brooklyn owns the worst record in basketball by 3.5 games and ESPN’s Basketball Power Index currently projects the Nets with roughly a 25 percent chance to emerge with the No. 1 pick.

But if there’s one lingering concern in Boston, one thing that really keeps Brad Stevens up at night, it’s the team’s underperforming defense.

Boston tied for the fourth-best defensive rating in the league last season and, with the offseason addition of Al Horford, many wondered if they’d scale higher this season. But as the Celtics head to the back nine of the regular season, they find themselves trying to prevent sliding into the bottom third of the league in defensive rating.
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick has a long-standing reputation for taking away the opponent’s No. 1 weapon, and there’s no doubt that Bell is the Steelers’ main man at this point. New England’s run defense is one of its strengths, and Bell is unlikely to find life easy between the tackles. But Belichick obviously knows the Steelers can find creative ways to use Bell in the passing game as well.

The Raiders could become the third NFL franchise to move from an established market in the past year

In the ever-changing landscape of West Coast NFL franchises, the Oakland Raiders are “close” to filing for relocation to Las Vegas and are expected to do so well before the Feb. 15 deadline, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

The news was first reported by the NFL Network.

The Raiders could become the third NFL franchise to move from an established market in the past year. This past week, the Chargers announced they would leave San Diego and move to Los Angeles. This past offseason, the Rams left St. Louis for Los Angeles.

Raiders owner Mark Davis went before the NFL’s stadium and finance committees in New York last week during a 3 1/2-hour meeting, updating the league on his plans to relocate to Las Vegas. Owners are warming to the idea of the move so much so that it no longer seems to be a question of if the Raiders will move, but when, sources said.

Authentic Womens Kurt Coleman Jersey The judge also questioned the NFL’s decision on a four-game suspension for Brady. He asked league attorney Daniel Nash how many games a player would get for tampering with balls, but cooperating with the investigation. Nash said that would be up to the commissioner, which didn’t please the judge.

“I have a little trouble with that,” he replied.

He also had trouble with Goodell comparing ball deflation to steroid use in his decision to suspend Brady:

Berman: “I don’t see how four games (for deflation, non cooperation) is comparable to using steroids and a masking agent.”
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After Wednesday’s events, the NFL can’t be confident that Berman will keep Brady’s four-game suspension intact, while Brady and the Patriots are still worried that a ruling won’t come down in time for the season-opener.

Murray missed his entire rookie season in 2013 because of a preseason ankle injury

So I, a training-camp-fight-watching enthusiast, decided to rank the top scraps of 2015:

Dez Bryant vs. Tyler Patmon
This is about as good as it gets. Helmets off with big shots and both players brushing it off after practice as a fight between “brothers.” I’m not sure if it’s the best way to build team chemistry, but it didn’t seem to hurt it much and the Cowboys were pretty fired up about it, so hey … all’s well that ends well.

Washington vs. Houston
A joint practice devolved into chaos with fights all over the place when Vince Wilfork delivered a late hit, and cameras were everywhere to catch it all, including the crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks. A fight between two teams doesn’t always have the benefit of guys jumping in to break things up and nobody wants to be the guy who stood around and did nothing while his teammates went to battle. So, things can often escalate and that phenomenon was on display, eventually resulting in the two sides just giving up and working separately:

That’s pretty much the exact same reaction I had last year while watching Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray run wild against the Kansas City Chiefs, not exactly slouches on defense, in Week 12.

Murray missed his entire rookie season in 2013 because of a preseason ankle injury. In 2014, the Raiders had only given him 10 carries up to that point of the season, four of those carries coming the week before his big game against the Chiefs. I guess Murray determined that if he was only going to get four carries again he had better make the most of them.

Joey Bosa, DE (junior): There is not much to say about Bosa other than when it is all said and done, he could be the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Bosa would have likely been a top-five selection if he could have declared at the end of last season. Former Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage noted that one NFL team evaluated linemen based on their performance against Bosa.

Marrone’s hiring and his expected decision to retain offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett

The 2017 season will be make-or-break for Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, and he got an assist from management’s decision to remove the interim tag from Doug Marrone and make him the new head coach.

Deone Bucannon Elite Jersey Marrone’s hiring and his expected decision to retain offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett — which CBSSports.com’s Jason LaCanfora reported will be the case — means Bortles will avoid having his fourth offensive coordinator in four seasons. He will have to learn a new offense because Hackett will install his own system — he stuck with Greg Olson’s offense after Olson was fired in late October — but the familiarity Bortles has with Hackett over the past two seasons will make the transition much easier.

During her interviews, Espinal told the police that Hill had a “volatile temper” and had been physical with her before, but had never hit her — “just a lot of manhandling,” she said. Afterward, an officer went to Hill’s apartment, where he found Espinal’s ripped shirt. He also found a photo of a sonogram attached to the mirror.

That weekend, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy — who had visited the police department and asked to look at photos of the victim, according to the arrest report — kicked Hill off the team. “We try to stress as much as we can to these guys, there’s just certain things right now that society frowns upon,” he told reporters.

Danielle Hunter Elite Jersey Months went by. In January, Hill pleaded not guilty; in March, Espinal — who was still pregnant, according to reports from the courtroom — testified against him. A local news site, ocolly.com, reported that Hill had actually called 911 in November, claiming his girlfriend refused to leave his home (he did not mention any physical violence).

Roddy White plans to ‘be a Falcon for life,’ despite trade rumors

Roddy White previously stirred up talks that he could be traded when he complained about his role with the Atlanta Falcons, but the veteran wide receiver told reporters on Sunday that he is dedicated to remain a member of the team that drafted him in 2005.
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“I’m a Falcon. I’ll be a Falcon for life,” White told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’ve dedicated everything I’ve got to this team and this organization. I’m going to continue to do that. I’m going to continue each and every week to get better, be a better football player and try to win.”

The Cardinals responded with a 63-yard touchdown run by Andre Ellington. The Lions were done. They gained 11 yards before throwing a pick on their next possession. They went three-and-out and punted on the possession after that.

The Lions had an 85-yard touchdown drive on their last possession, but the Cardinals had long started thinking about next week. Arizona put Drew Stanton in at quarterback, another quarterback who played during the Lions’ 0-16 season (along with Jon Kitna, Dante Culpepper and Drew Henson). Finally, the harbinger had arrived.

But even if San Diego’s line does struggle in pass coverage against a Steelers front that had five sacks and 10 quarterback hurries a week ago, Rivers should be just fine. He’s completed a league-high 69 percent of his passes while under pressure, and if you factor out throwaways and drops, that number jumps to an insane 86.5 percent.

Game Benoit Pouliot Jersey After struggling in his first game back from suspension, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell shook off the rust last week, piling up 129 yards and a touchdown while adding seven receptions. With Big Ben watching from the sideline, this offense is more reliant on Bell now more than ever. He’s going to get a ton of touches against the Chargers, who are allowing a league-worst 4.9 yards per carry.

Cowboys running back Darren McFadden will play in his first NFL playoff game

When Dallas hosts its divisional-round matchup a week from Sunday, Cowboys running back Darren McFadden will play in his first NFL playoff game. During his seven seasons in Oakland and a previous one in Dallas, neither team McFadden played on ever made it to the postseason.

Further testimony about the frustration of facing a Bill Belichick-coached team came from this week’s “Inside the NFL” on Showtime, in which NFL Films caught veteran Dolphins defensive line coach Jim Washburn telling his unit: “They’re in the right protection every [expletive] time!” Yes, credit goes to Tom Brady, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.

“What we saw was an athlete, a great athlete,” says Trent Kirchner, co-director of player personnel.

One day last spring, Kirchner heard Carroll talk about a shortage of tackles in the upcoming draft.

“I said to Pete, ‘There’s this guy out there, and you need to watch the tape,'” Kirchner said. “So we sat down, and we watched what we had, something like 28 plays, his entire college career. And Pete and [general manager] John Schneider were like, ‘Whoa! Holy smokes!’ But he’d worked out as an offensive lineman, a defensive lineman, a tight end. So the big question we all had was this: ‘What is he?'”
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The Seahawks pushed to sign Fant as a free agent. They would try to fit him in where they had the largest need: the offensive line, among the worst in the league during the previous season.

Fant, right, is part of an OL with an average age of 24. Half are castoffs or young veterans still trying to make names for themselves, and half are rookies. As a result, QB Russell Wilson, center, is constantly on the run.

Elite Youth Mario Edwards Jr Jersey When Fant arrived at rookie minicamp, he had no idea what position he’d play.

Early Hall of Fame Voting Hints at the 2017 Class

The 2017 Hall of Fame inductees will be announced on January 18th, and as in prior years, Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs) is tracking ballots as they are made public.

As of this writing 151 ballots have been announced (including 6 anonymous ones). That¡¯s roughly 35% of the 435 or so ballots that are expected to be cast.

At least 5% is needed in order to get another chance on next year¡¯s ballot, and players can stay on the ballot for up to 10 years (with the exception of Lee Smith who was grandfathered when the limit was reduced from 15 to 10, and is now in his 15th and final year).
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Ward is a beneficiary of the team’s stellar performance on special teams. His .918 even strength save percentage is only good for about 35th best out of the top 50 (though not far behind Lundqvist and Marc-Andre Fleury at .919), but he’s third best among that same group when on the penalty kill, which brings up his overall averages.

That said, two statistics that aren¡¯t all that noticeable might be the most concerning. Ward currently ranks sixth in the league in time on ice, and has started in 30 of 36 games played this season (a whopping 83%). By comparison, between January and April 2016, Ward was awarded 57% of the starts, splitting time rather evenly with Eddie Lack.
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At 32, Ward is now the tenth-oldest netminder among NHL starters. But as a famous archaeologist once said, ¡°It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.¡± and Ward is logging a lot of mileage at the moment.

Everybody on the Titans forgot to guard Brandon Marshall except for a 305-pound defensive tackle

NFL teams forget to cover receivers from time to time. The Steelers forgot to guard Rob Gronkowski earlier this year, the Rams forgot to guard A.J. Green a few weeks back. They’re miscommunications, and miscommunications happen. But what made this play from Jets-Titans so special is that one Titan noticed Marshall was wide open — and that one Titan was 305-pound defensive tackle Jurrell Casey:

Casey sprinted away from his defensive tackle position and tried to cut off Marshall. It was a valiant effort, Marshall had a head start and also is fast and not a 305-pounder. Marshall coasted 69 yards for the score, and I think Casey should stay at defensive tackle instead of switching to cornerback.

It would of thrown off this great statistic and given him more total receving yards then YAC. Getting all those YBCs is just taking the easy way out- if your running without someone trying to tackle you, you might as well be playing soccer and those yards shouldnt even count.

If Im coaching a offense thats about to take on JJ Watt, I tell my RB to sing the star spangle banner on every carry, and make JJ choose between patriotism or indivudual stats- theres just no way JJ could bring himself to tackle someone singing the national anthem, hed stand and salute and take himself out of the play. By the way, Anyone else find it intresting that Jadeveon Clowney had his only good game during a primetime TV spot?

Lot of thumb talk this weekend as Andy Dalton pulls a reverse-Andy Dalton and wont be able to help his team until the playoffs start. Initial diagnosis after looking at the X-ray is that he has a broken thumb but Im not so sure.Wonder if the doctors took into account the fact that its impossble to take a good picture of a thumb. Go ahead try it. You might very well have a perfectley normal thumb but then send it to a friend and 100% of the time theyll be like “whats up with your thumb?” So in other words, his thumb might be totaly fine but the Doctors are just being overly critical.