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Week 12 Thanksgiving 10-pack

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We’ve moved the Friday 10-pack to Thursday, since posting it on Thursday puts the Thanksgiving games in play for our 10 takes regarding the coming weekend of games.

I also needed to get it done early because I’ll be spending Thursday night preparing to host The Dan Patrick Show on Friday, a process which may look a lot like achieving and maintaining a turkey-induced stupor.  Primarily because that’s precisely what it will be.

1.  At least the NFL tried to give us good games on Thanksgiving.

Every year, complaints arise regarding the quality of the games played on the fourth Thursday in November.  This year, the NFL did something about it.

Though the Lions continue to have a hammerlock on the early game, the NFL picked the Patriots to be the visiting team.  (Because CBS will televise the game, the road team had to be from the AFC; this year, the choices were the Jets and the Patriots.  Either way, a quality opponent would have been pegged for the game.)

For the afternoon contest, the NFL earmarked a game that, as of April, looked to be one of the 10 best of the year — Saints at Cowboys.  Though the Cowboys’ struggles have made the game less intriguing, the NFL opted not to take advantage of its captive audience by offering up the weakest home game on the Dallas schedule.  (Then again, the Lions already were booked.)

The night game — Bengals at Jets — also looked as of April to be a potentially great game, given that the Bengals and Jets both made the playoffs in 2009.  Who knew that the Bengals would be after 10 games The 2-Ocho Show?

Short of moving Thanksgiving to September, the risk that games that looked great in April will be relevant in November applies to every NFL season.  All we can ask is that the NFL attempt to provide quality games.

Even if the Lions and Cowboys would lose their automatic home games, there’s no way of knowing that the games picked prior to the season will involve quality teams by the time the games are played.  What if the Vikings had “earned” a home game on Thanksgiving as a result of their 2009 performance?  Or the 49ers, based on the widespread belief that they’d be much improved in 2010?

In April, every season is a crapshoot.  At least the NFL has finally decided to shoot for something other than crap on Thanksgiving.

2.  Favre could thrive under Frazier.

The decision of Vikings interim coach Leslie Frazier to keep brett Favre at quarterback makes sense.  Frazier will earn the job for 2011 only by winning games, and Farve at quarterback gives Frazier the best chance to do that.

The Vikings don’t need to know what Tarvaris Jackson can do; he had relevance only when a change of quarterbacks may have belped salvage a playoff berth.  And Frazier has no interest in developing Joe Webb to become the possible starter for the next regime.

So what of the notion that Favre will continue to produce more turnovers than a baker on an IV full of Red Bull?  Without former coach Brad Childress peering over Favre’s shoulder and constantly telling him what to do and what not to do, it’s entirely possible that Favre will perform better.

Even though reeling off six in a row likely won’t be enough to edge out one of the three-loss teams currently in position to take both of the wild-card spots, a strong finish to the season would partially rehab Favre’s fading legacy — and it would give Frazier a fighter’s chance at keeping the job.  Having Childress out of the picture will make if easier for Favre to just relax and play.

3.  Delhomme’s revenge.

Earlier this year, the Carolina Panthers discarded quarterback Jake Delhomme like an empty bottle of screw-top wine.  And for good reason.  Ever since the completion of the 2008 regular season, Delhomme had been playing like a guy whose Gatorade had been spiked with a full bottle of screw-top wine.

On Sunday, Delhomme will get his first start since Week One, due to Colt McCoy’s ankle sprain.  Coincidentally, that start will come against the Carolina Panthers.

So the game will provide Delhomme with a shot at redemption, a chance to prove the Panthers wrong.

Then again, given that Delhomme received a contract worth $20 million guaranteed before the 2009 season, it’s the Panthers that should be thinking about revenge.

Either way, the link gives a sliver of meaning to an otherwise meaningless game.

4.  It’s getting no easier for Mike Vick.

If the Eagles and quarterback Mike Vick struggle at Soldier Field on Sunday, it’ll be easy to blame the Sports Illustrated jinx, given that he graces the magazine’s cover this week.  But we’re not much for jinxes, unless the person to be jinxed allows himself to think that the jinx exists.

For Vick, the bigger concern should be opposing defenses studying ever bit of tape from his performances to date, building on game plans that slowed him down and trying to devise the one tactic that will shut him down and/or knock him out.

Though the Bears present the latest challenge, a pair of games against the Cowboys, a rematch with the Giants, and a date with the Vikings remain.  With each passing week, defenses will be trying even harder to be the team that solves the Vick riddle, preferably by putting him back on the injury report.

Look for the Bears, mired in a seven-quality-teams-but-only-five-spots chase for the postseason, to pull out all the stops.

5.   Monday night loser could still be alive.

Thanksgiving weekend wraps up with a Monday night game between the 49ers and Cardinals.  It presents a rare stinker on ESPN’s 2010 slate.  But it’s not as bad as it appears, if we ignore the fact that each team has a record of 3-7.

If the 5-5 Seahawks lose on Sunday against the Chiefs, the loser of Monday night’s game will remain only two games out of first place with five games to play.

Sure, the loser will be a woeful 3-8.  But if we can get past that won-loss record, the reality is that the loser can still get hot in December and steal the division and reset its record to 0-0 in the single-elimination tournament that will commence with the NFC West champion hosting a playoff game.

6.  In Atlanta, home-field advantage possibly hangs in the balance.

The game of the week undoubtedly occurs in the Georgia Dome, where the red-hot Packers take on the red-hot Falcons.

Under quarterback Matt Ryan, the Falcons have won 18 games and lost only one at home.  Under quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Packers have scored a total of 76 points in consecutive games against the Cowboys and Vikings.

The Packers are more than a good offense; their defense has allowed only 10 points in three games, including the pitching of a shutout of the Jets at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

With these two teams destined to play beyond January 2, this game will go a long way toward determining where the second game may occur.  And regardless of what happens this time around, the location of a January rematch will have a lot to do with its potential outcome.

7.  Keep an eye on Tom Brady’s foot.

Vikings quarterback Brett Favre has no qualms when it comes to talking about his injuries.  Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is more apt to talk about his hair.

And so it’s impossible to know the exact diagnosis of and prognosis for Brady’s current foot injury, which caused him to miss practice on Tuesday and Wednesday and to be listed as questionable for Thursday’s game, a rare departure from his usual designation as probable.

Sporting a defensive line that could give the Patriots flashbacks to Super Bowl XLII and a Detroit team that is otherwise irrelevant in NFL circles, it’ll be interesting to see whether these Lions use their rare national spotlight as an occasion to roar, by pouncing on Brady’s bum foot.

8.  Colts are suddenly in trouble.

If the season ended today, the Colts’ season would be over.  And while they’ll play four of their final six games at home, the Colts face the prospect of missing the playoffs — and of winning fewer than 10 games — for the first time since Jim Mora refused to use the “P” word.

The slide very well could continue on Sunday night, when the surging Chargers come to town.  The Chargers have played the Colts well in recent years, providing Indy with a consistent thorn in their side.

And while both of the quarterbacks have had to overcome injuries to their supporting cast on offense, the Chargers are getting healthy a lot faster than the Colts.  And the Chargers will have receiver Vincent Jackson back, for the first time all year.

It could spell trouble once again for the Colts.  At 6-5, the Colts would have to make like the Chargers and finish strong in order to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade.

9.  Bucs get their chance to impress.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have handled every team they’ve faced, with the exception of the three elite franchises they’ve played — the Steelers, Saints, and Falcons.

This weekend, the Bucs draw the Ravens.  On the road.

On paper, this is another game that Tampa should lose.  If the Bucs find a way to win, it’ll be time to take this team seriously.

Actually, it’s already time to take this team seriously.  With upcoming games against the Redskins, Lions, and Seahawks, 10 wins could be in the offing.  With the Ravens, Falcons, and Saints also on the docket, victory in any one of those games will help the Bucs do the unthinkable — nailing down coach of the year honors for Raheem Morris, and possibly executive of the year recognition for Mark Dominik.  With a roster devoid of pricey veterans, the Bucs are one of the few teams that is playing like a true team.

10.  Chargers are following form, and will likely continue to do so.

After the Chargers lost five of their first seven games, we said (one or twice, or more often) that the team eventually would try to follow a slow start with a fast finish — and fail.

But the Chargers have shown that they can do it again, reeling off three wins and moving to within a game of first place in the AFC West.  And they’ll likely continue their climb to the playoffs.

Where they’ll likely lose in one of the first two rounds.

While, as mentioned above, they match up well with the Colts, the Chargers eventually would face the Patriots, Jets, Ravens, or Steelers.  And with five losses already in the standings, the Chargers will have to take their pass-first offense to an open-air stadium in the Northeast.  In the middle of January.

Moving forward, and as our friend Scott Caplan of XX 1090 in San Diego pointed out during our weekly Wednesday morning radio visit, the Chargers should redouble their efforts to figure out why they can’t win more games in September and October.  If they could emerge into November and December with a better record, they’d be able to force some of the other elite teams to San Diego in January.

Hey, at least the Chargers wouldn’t have to face a long flight home after losing.

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Raiders hire Rob Moore, Bernie Parmalee to coaching staff

Buffalo Bills v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

A pair of former NFL players are among four new coaching staff hires announced by the Raiders on Tuesday.

Ex-Dolphins and Jets tailback Bernie Parmalee will coach Oakland’s running backs, while former Jets and Cardinals wideout Rob Moore will coach the club’s wide receivers.

The 47-year-old Parmalee previously coached tight ends for Kansas City (2010-2012) and Miami (2004). He also was a special teams assistant with Miami in 2002 and 2003.

Moore, 46, was the Bills’ wide receivers coach in 2014.

In addition to Parmalee and Moore, the Raiders have hired Bobby Johnson to coach tight ends and Tracy Smith as assistant special teams coach. Johnson was the Lions’ assistant offensive line coach in 2014, though he coached the Lions’ special teams the previous season. Smith was the 49ers’ assistant special teams coach the last three seasons.

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Wilfork calls Belichick the greatest coach ever

wilfork AP

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been peppered with questions about whether he did anything improper in Deflategate, but Belichick is also getting strong support from his players.

Several Patriots spoke out about their respect for Belichick at Super Bowl Media Day, most notably defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, who said he feels privileged to have played his entire career for Belichick.

“He’s the best coach in the game — the best coach ever in the game,” Wilfork said. “When it’s all over I can say I was coached by the greatest.”

If the Patriots beat the Seahawks on Sunday, Belichick will join Chuck Noll as the only head coaches to win four Super Bowls, and Belichick is already the coach with the most postseason wins in NFL history. Wilfork may be biased by his own relationship with Belichick, but you can make a good case that he’s right, and that Belichick really is the best coach in the history of the game of football.

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Thomas Davis: Knee injuries may have extended my career

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Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis is thought to be the first player to return from three torn ACLs and reconstructive surgeries on the same knee, but the 31-year-old doesn’t feel like all the injuries robbed him of part of his career.

It’s the opposite, actually. Davis explained this week that he feels like he’s going to get back the time he missed because of his knee issues in the years to come.

“That’s the way I’m looking at it,” Davis said, via “I lost two and a half years to injuries, but I also feel I gained two and a half years. … This was my 10th year and I’m going on year 11, and I still feel I have a lot of football left in me.”

Davis is entering the final year of his contract with the Panthers and is set to count a little more than $10 million against the salary cap. He said that he is “pretty sure [the Panthers will] address” his contract in the near future and an extension would lower that cap hit while also keeping around a player who has rebounded from his injuries with over 100 tackles in each of the last three seasons.

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Stuffed animal question brings out Bill Belichick’s softer side

Bill Belichick AP

We have a soft spot for kids asking questions at Media Day, for they usually have more interesting questions than the assembled adults.

Which brings us to Bill Belichick’s Tuesday media session, when a young questioner asked the 62-year-old Patriots coach about the stuffed animals he liked.

The cub reporter asking about this particular topic? Jerod Mayo’s daughter, Chya, according to Monique Walker Jones of USA Today.

“What stuffed animals do I like?” Belichick asked, smiling. “Um, I like, like, a little puppet. You can kind of put your fingers in. It’s a little monkey, and then he can talk and move his fingers and nod his head, so he can kind of talk back to you.”

Belichick then asked Mayo’s daughter: “What’s your favorite stuffed animal?”

The Patriots’ head coach had another question for Chya.

“Can I ask you one question? Did your daddy fix your hair?” Belichick said.

Her response elicited a laugh from Belichick, who then asked if she any more questions.

And when it was over, Belichick, who has three children of his own, said: “Thank you.”

He was still smiling when he turned to his left to field the next question.

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PFT Live from the Super Bowl keeps rolling on Tuesday

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It’s Super Bowl Media Day on Tuesday and we’ll be bringing you everything you need to know from Arizona on PFT Live.

Once again, Mike Florio is coming to you live from the Super Bowl and we’ve got a packed show that’s sure to make for three entertaining and informative hours. Former NFL great Jason Taylor, Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis and Browns cornerback Joe Haden will all stop by to share their thoughts on the Super Bowl participants and we’ll also have PFT’s own Michael David Smith and Darin Gantt on hand for the show.

We also want to hear from PFT Planet. You can call the show by dialing 855-323-4NBC, email questions at any time via the O’Reilly Auto Parts Ask the Pros inbox or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app. And, again, you can also watch a simulcast of all three hours of the show by clicking right here.

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Kevin Patullo joining Jets as quarterbacks coach

Geno Smith AP

Quarterback remains a trouble spot for the Jets and they appear to have settled on a position coach to help them develop an answer to their ongoing issues at the position.

Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean and Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times report that Kevin Patullo will be leaving his job as the Titans’ assistant wide receivers coach to join the Jets’ staff as quarterbacks coach.

Patullo spent one season with the Titans and was out of the NFL in 2013 after spending three years on the offensive staff of the Bills. Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey was the head coach in Buffalo for those seasons, so the choice represents a reunion with a familiar face for the man running the offense.

The Jets have Geno Smith under contract for next season, but Michael Vick is a free agent and the team is expected to add other competition at the position this offseason. Gailey and Patullo will be charged with finding the best of the available options and molding the offense into one with higher capabilities than we’ve seen in the last few seasons.

Patullo will join wide receivers coach Karl Dorrell as an offensive position coach with the Jets, who have yet to hire an offensive line or tight ends coach for Todd Bowles’s first year on their sideline.

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Bill Belichick calls Marshawn Lynch “best back we’ve faced”

Marshawn Lynch AP

Patriots coach Bill Belichick says his defense hasn’t faced a challenge quite like Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch before.

Although Belichick is refusing to answer questions this week about Deflategate, he gave lengthy answers to reporters’ questions about his thoughts about the Seahawks on the field. And there was no one Belichick sounded more impressed with — and perhaps concerned about — than Lynch.

“Lynch is a tremendous back, best back we’ve faced. He does everything well, he’s got great balance, great power, vision, instincts, he’s great in the open field, he gets tough yards around the goal line, third down,” Belichick said.

Lynch ran for 1,306 yards in the regular season, and his 157-yard game against the Packers went a long way toward the Seahawks winning the NFC Championship. He may just be the best running back in football right now. Belichick seems to think so.

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Ernie Accorsi: John Fox’s experience made him right choice for Bears

John Fox AP

The Bears brought former Giants General Manager Ernie Accorsi on board as a consultant to assist with their searches for a new head coach and General Manager this year, so it’s not a big surprise that a former Giants assistant coach wound up replacing Marc Trestman.

It’s been a long time since John Fox has been an assistant, of course, and Accorsi explained that was one of his biggest selling points when he spoke to the Bears about the job opening. Accorsi explained that having a good idea of what to expect from hiring Fox set him apart from other candidates.

“Look, I think the single toughest thing to do in football is to project an assistant coach to the head coaching job,” Accorsi said on ESPN 100 in Chicago. “They’re two different jobs. The things you have to deal with as a head coach. You can immerse yourself in strategy and X’s and O’s as an assistant, and player relations because you’re dealing with these guys. But the head coach, he has to control that. Now you’re a head coach, you’re the commander of the army. It’s a whole different thing. And you never, never know. You just don’t know. With Fox, you knew: 30 games over .500, seven playoffs, two Super Bowls. The fact that he lost two Super Bowls to me was even more important, because the hunger and drive you have to never let that happen again, to right that wrong, is as powerful a force as you can have in this business.”

It’s not a path the Bears have gone down anytime recently as it had been more than five decades since the team opted to hire a head coach who had previously held the job. If Fox is able to generate the same kind of defensive turnaround that he did in Carolina and Denver, deviating from the past course will look like a step in the right direction for Chicago.

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Kraft’s statement increases the pressure on Goodell

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Richard Sherman’s premise is possibly being tested.  The Seattle cornerback on Sunday expressed skepticism about potential punishment of the Patriots for #DeflateGate, based on the friendship between Commissioner Roger Goodell and Patriots owner Robert Kraft.  At this moment, one of the most influential owners in the NFL isn’t feeling very friendly about the office over which Goodell presides.

“If the [Ted] Wells investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs, I would expect and hope that the League would apologize to our entire team and in particular, Coach Belichick and Tom Brady for what they have had to endure this past week,” Kraft said in a defiant statement written on the plane from Boston and delivered in Arizona.  “I am disappointed in the way this entire matter has been handled and reported upon.  We expect hard facts as opposed to circumstantial leaked evidence to drive the conclusion of this investigation.”

As Sal Paolantonio of ESPN reported in the aftermath of Kraft’s remarks, “As one source close to the Patriots told me, this was Robert Kraft reminding Roger Goodell who he works for.”

Goodell already has shown a willingness to impose discipline on the team Robert Kraft owns, more than seven years ago in Spygate.  In the aftermath of that incident, Goodell pushed for the owners to permit rules violations that undermine the integrity of the game to be proven with reduced evidentiary requirements.

“Too often, competitive violations have gone unpunished because conclusive proof of the violation was lacking,” Goodell wrote to the NFL’s Competition Committee in advance of the 2008 league meetings.  “I believe we should reconsider the standard of proof to be applied in such cases, and make it easier for a competitive violation to be established.”

Therein lies the dilemma for Goodell.  He ultimately obtained the power to determine violations with something other than direct evidence, such as a Patriots employee caught with a camera containing video showing he was videotaping defensive coaching signals.  But Kraft wants something other than “circumstantial” evidence, even though plenty of men over the years have ended up imprisoned for life or executed based on circumstantial proof.  (Eventually added to that list could be former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who faces murder charges based largely on circumstantial evidence.)

“[Y]ou’re trying to balance the due process with making sure you’re protecting the integrity of the game,” Goodell said in October regarding the challenge of determining the best way to deal with players facing serious criminal charges.  “My No. 1 job is protecting the integrity of the game, and I will not relent on that.”

If, as the NFL already has concluded, the proper inflation of footballs represents a game-integrity issue and if, as the NFL already has concluded, the footballs used in the first half of the AFC title game were underinflated, the question becomes whether Goodell will authorize significant sanctions against the Patriots without a smoking gun — even if it means that his friendship with Robert Kraft will go up in smoke.

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Colts hang onto Rob Chudzinski with a new title

Rob Chudzinski AP

The Colts blocked assistant coach Rob Chudzinski as long as they could.

And then they gave him a promotion.

The Colts announced that they had agreed to a new contract with the former Browns head coach to make him the associate head coach.

“We’re excited to keep Chud in our family,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “He’s been a critical part of our operation and we’re looking forward to sharing even more success in the future.”

The Colts brought him in this year as a special assistant to the head coach, and there were teams that wanted to interview him for coordinator jobs. They refused requests, but his contract expired this week.

They obviously want to keep him around, and he gives them depth on the offensive side of the ball, with coordinator Pep Hamilton a possibility for head coaching jobs in the future.

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Can a bag of footballs be deflated in 90 seconds?

460776304.0 Getty Images

As the #DeflateGate controversy continues to overtake Super Bowl XLIX, the first tangible evidence other than footballs being underinflated (which the NFL has acknowledged) emerged Monday, when Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported that a Patriots employee took a bag of football that had been inspected and approved by officials into a separate area. That individual has become, per Glazer’s report, a “serious person of interest” as to the question of how the footballs came to be underinflated.

As PFT reported last night, adding to Glazer’s bombshell, the separate area was a bathroom in which the employee spent approximately 90 seconds. The red state/blue state nature of the debate has caused those predisposed to assuming the Patriots are guilty to say it’s enough time to deflate the footballs. Those predisposed to assuming that this is a league- and/or media-driven witch hunt say the only leaking came from the guys urinary tract (or perhaps elsewhere).

Obviously, the report from Glazer shows an opportunity for foul play existed. And Glazer’s report became the first clear indication since this issue first arose of a chance by someone to do something to the “perfect” footballs as hand-selected by quarterback Tom Brady to make them even more perfect.

A separate question has emerged regarding whether a team employee should have even been taking the footballs on his own to the field without supervision. One source said it’s normal; another source believes it’s entirely abnormal. Regardless, Glazer’s report puts a Patriots employee in a room with a locking door alone with the footballs for, based on PFT’s addition to that report, approximately 90 seconds.

So can 12 (or in this case 11) footballs be deflated in that amount of time?  One league source with extensive knowledge and experience in the NFL believes that 90 seconds provides enough time to do it — especially if the type of bag allowed the valves to be accessed without individually removing them.  (The bag in the photo, for example, has a large zipper that when open permits quick access to the balls.)

The source called it as “easy” thing to do. “Needle in each ball for a couple of seconds,” the source said.

Indeed, if this is something that had been going on for some period of time, the employee would have developed a certain expertise in this regard, allowing him to do it quickly — which in turn would allow for the plausible argument to be made that there was no deflation but merely urination.

Is it conclusive evidence of tampering?  Not without a camera in the bathroom or an admission from the employee.  But it also becomes difficult to declare innocence, given that the contents of the surveillance video as first reported by Glazer reveal an employee of the Patriots taking the footballs into a place where, in theory, something could have been done to them.

That’s the most important thing to remember from Monday’s report.  Whether it was 90 seconds or longer, whether it was the Patriots who surrendered the video or the NFL who found it, Glazer’s report shows an opportunity for tampering that had not previously been disclosed.

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Kam Chancellor on Gronkowski: Just play big-on-big

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Last week, Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane dismissed Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski as just an “OK” player, but it doesn’t seem to be the prevailing opinion on the team.

Questions about facing Gronkowski were waiting for the Seahawks in Arizona on Monday and linebacker Bobby Wagner was willing to call Gronkowski a “great player.” Head coach Pete Carroll said Gronkowski has “all of the elements that you’re looking for from a big-time tight end” and that the team would utilize various approaches to slow him down on Sunday.

Strong safety Kam Chancellor will be a big part of those approaches and he said Monday that he thought his physical play would serve him well in the matchup.

“He definitely is a big, physical guy, but it’s just big-on-big. Just play big-on-big,” Chancellor said.

It won’t come down to just Chancellor, but the Seahawks Defense is going to have a hard time if he isn’t able to keep Gronkowski from breaking loose when the Patriots do look his way.

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Pete Carroll still likes Robert Kraft, who fired him

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It feels like Bill Belichick has been coaching the Patriots forever, but he hasn’t. There was a coach of the Patriots before Belichick was hired in 2000, and that coach was Pete Carroll.

Carroll, who is preparing to coach the Seahawks against the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, was fired by Patriots owner Robert Kraft after going 8-8 in 1999. And although things didn’t end well for Carroll in New England, Carroll still has warm feelings for Kraft, and Carroll actually called Kraft after the Seahawks and Patriots won the conference championship games.

“I think we’ve remained in a good relationship and it’s been very consistent,” Carroll said. “Whenever we bump into each other, whenever there is a time for us to cross paths, we always check in and that’s just been the way that it has been. So, in calling him, it was just a matter of just checkin in with him and saying, ‘Hey, didn’t know if we would bump into each other here but I wanted to make sure to say hello.'”

Carroll thinks he’s a much better coach now than he was when he coached in New England.

“I’ve been through so many experiences since then, so many challenges and it’s really just about evolving as a coach and as a man,” Carroll said. “But, you know, there were a lot of days back in those years when, man, I was just winging it and trying to do the best I could in figuring it out.”

Whatever Carroll hadn’t figured out when he was in New England, Carroll has it figured out now.

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Jaguars keep talking to coaches from worse offenses than own

Jaguars Minicamp Football AP

The Jaguars continue to shuffle their coaching staff, though it’s unclear if they’re making upgrades.

Via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, the Jaguars have fired running backs coach Terry Richardson, and are interviewing Raiders position coach Kelly Skipper for the vacancy.

That makes sense, in that he’d have experience with new Jaguars coordinator Greg Olson.

But the influx of Oakland influence is curious, given that the Raiders had the only offense in the league worse than Jacksonville’s, edging the Jaguars by 7.4 yards per game for the 32nd spot on the list.

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Drew Brees: We’ve identified the problems that hurt us in 2014

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The Saints slumped to a 7-9 record in 2014, well below the expectations that most people had for them coming into the season.

Quarterback Drew Brees thinks he knows why the team fell short. After the Pro Bowl, Brees told Greg Bedard of that he’s met with coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis and that the three men “identified the problems or the things that got us beat or the things that didn’t allow us to be as good as we know we can be.”

Brees didn’t go into great detail about what those problems or solutions are, but suggested that a lack of leadership and grit played a role. He said he hates when people talk about talent, because every team has it and things like work ethic and adaptability determine who ultimately succeeds.

“The thing you can’t lose track of is those guys in the locker room,” Brees said. “Those guys as leaders, their presence. Especially when you have young players. Listen, every team is going to have youth. It’s just the nature of the league. A majority of your team is going to be made up of first- to fourth-year players. So that leadership and guidance and institutional knowledge are very critical.”

The Saints have said goodbye to many veteran leaders of successful teams from the past and the replacements weren’t able to reach the same heights in 2014. They’ll need to do a better job of finding the right players in 2015 or the demands for explanations for a poor record will be even greater this time next year.

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