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Rex Ryan says Jets will stick with Sanchez

Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez AP

You can set your clock to the beats of the 2012 Jets season.

The Jets go out and lose a game, usually with an offensive performance fit for a snuff film, and then Rex Ryan gets up in front of the media and tells them that Mark Sanchez remains the team’s starting quarterback. The Jets took care of the first half with a 28-7 loss in Seattle and Ryan took care of the second a few minutes later.

During his postgame press conference, Ryan said that he felt Sanchez gives the team their best chance to win. As such, Sanchez will remain the team’s starting quarterback after a 9-of-22, 124-yard performance that included a pair of turnovers. You wouldn’t expect Ryan to say something much different in the postgame scrum, certainly not after hearing him say it after most of the first eight games this season, but it’s harder to understand why Ryan feels that way.

At some point someone has to be accountable for how awful the Jets offense looks pretty much every week of the season. Sanchez isn’t the only problem, but he is the only player on the team who can be replaced by a player who started for a playoff team last season. Going to Tim Tebow probably wouldn’t save this Jets season, but how many times can you really watch the same results without at least trying something different?

If Ryan sticks to his word, the answer is at least 10 times for the Jets.

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LeGarrette Blount admits Seahawks defense is “pretty good”

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The Patriots have moved the ball well enough that they can be confident.

And they’re certainly not intimidated by the Seahawks.

Via Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal, Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount said about the closest thing to trash talk about the Seahawks yet.
“I don’t care about them being the top defense, that doesn’t bother me,” Blount said. “They were good enough to get here, just like we were good enough to get here. They’re not immortal. They can be beaten. . . .

“Obviously they’re a pretty good defense. They were good enough to get here, they were good enough to get here last year, so we are going to put a plan together to hopefully make sure we come out victorious.”

The Seahawks led the league in total defense this year, and were third against the run. For the Patriots to make a dent in that, Blount’s going to have to be at his best.

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Aubrayo Franklin returning to 49ers as assistant coach

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When defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin played for the 49ers, his position coach was Jim Tomsula.

Tomsula has moved up the ladder to become the team’s head coach this offseason and it looks like that’s opened the door for Franklin to return to the team. He won’t be playing on the defensive front this time, however.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports that Franklin will be taking a job as an entry level defensive assistant coach on Tomsula’s staff for the 2015 season. Per Barrows, the 49ers want Franklin to serve as an “apprentice” to a more experienced and as yet unnamed defensive line coach.

Franklin played for the 49ers from 2007-2010, starting in 60 of the 62 games he played for the team. Franklin went on to play for the Saints and Chargers before playing his final NFL snaps as a starter with the Colts during the 2013 season.

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Jaguars hire Kelly Skipper to coach running backs

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The influx of coaches from the league’s worst offense to its next-to-worst offense continues.

Via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, the Jaguars have hired Kelly Skipper as their running backs coach.

While Skipper and new Jaguars coordinator Greg Olson presided over the league’s worst offense last year, their presence could still help the Jaguars, who were 31st.

Skipper’s actually a good coach, despite spending the last eight years with the Raiders. He’s also worked as an offensive coordinator at UCLA.

He’s also coming closer to family, as his brother Tim’s working at the University of Florida and his father Jim is coaching the Panthers’ running backs.

Photo credit: Jaguars.com

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Greg Roman giving EJ Manuel a clean slate

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The Doug Marrone regime didn’t give Bills quarterback EJ Manuel much rope in 2014, yanking him from the lineup after four games and turning the offense over to Kyle Orton for the rest of the year.

Orton retired after taking Buffalo to a 9-7 record and Marrone opted to take a $4 million payout and an assistant job on Jacksonville’s staff, which provides Manuel with some new life in Buffalo. New offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Tuesday that he’s been watching film on Manuel and that Manuel has the skills to play the position, but said that what happens in their work together will determine his role on the team in 2015.

“I’m not going to get into specifics,” Roman said, via the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. “I think he’s done some good things and displayed some good traits. We just have to get his level of consistency a little greater. Once we get through this evaluation process, he and every player is going to have a clean slate. What they might have been asked to do in the past is really not relevant to what we may or may not ask them to do. For me to pontificate about this, that, and the other, it’s a little premature.”

When Orton retired, the Bills talked about adding one or two more quarterbacks to the mix, although that came before Marrone decided to opt out of his deal. With Jeff Tuel currently the only other quarterback in town, it’s a good bet that they will still be looking for other options at the position in the event that the new boss feels the same way about Manuel as the old boss.

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Bevell says Seahawks didn’t think about height when drafting Wilson

bevell AP

Russell Wilson was such a great college quarterback that it now seems obvious that he’d be a great pro quarterback as well. But, of course, it wasn’t obvious: He lasted until the middle of the third round of the 2012 NFL draft before the Seahawks got him.

Wilson would have been a first-round pick if he were 6-foot-3, but he’s not, and so he wasn’t. Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell says the Seahawks had a simple approach to drafting Wilson: They’d ignore height.

“I think the first thing you have to do is be able to overlook the fact that he was 5’10 ½” to be able to take him,” Bevell said. “[General Manager] John Schneider did a phenomenal job in preparation for that and was able to look past that. We just tried to build our offense with what is best suited for our guys.”

Bevell played quarterback at Wisconsin in the 1990s and still knew plenty of the Badgers’ coaches when Wilson was at Wisconsin, and he said that helped him research Wilson. Bevell also said that the Seahawks liked Wilson being a two-sport athlete — even though it was Wilson’s commitment to minor league baseball that led him to lose the starting quarterback job at North Carolina State and transfer to Wisconsin.

“Russell has great savvy and awareness,” Bevell said. “I think all the sports that he played as he was growing up have given him that. His baseball days with being able to slide – timing or whatever to get down. He’s played enough football that just his spatial awareness and his vision of being able to see where all the defenders are coming from and the understanding of how important that he is in our offense and he knows that he has to be able to get up and play the next play not just that one play. Again, he has great awareness; it’s kind of innate in him.”

Wilson has all the qualities an NFL team looks for in a quarterback, except height. The Seahawks were smart to overlook that one.

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Justin Houston thinks Chiefs can win Super Bowl with Alex Smith

Justin Houston AP

The Chiefs have some contract decisions to make regarding impending free agent linebacker Justin Houston this offseason and it doesn’t sound like Houston’s feelings about committing to Kansas City for the long term are negatively impacted by the team’s offensive state of affairs.

During an interview on ESPN Tuesday, Houston said that he thought it was a “team effort” and that his view is that the team would have won more games if the defense had done a better job of stopping the opposition. He also feels that the team can win a Super Bowl with quarterback Alex Smith running the offense.

“I’m very convinced. The past two years we’ve had winning seasons. But we need some more pieces,” Houston said. “This year I feel our offensive line struggled a little bit. We had some injuries on our offensive line that caused him to get sacked more than usual. But I think we can do it with Alex.”

Among the pieces Houston thinks the team needs are wide receivers after the Chiefs became the first team since the Truman administration to go an entire season without a touchdown catch from a player at the position. Houston’s contract situation will impact their ability to do that. If the Chiefs can’t sign Houston to a long-term deal that spreads out a big cap hit, they’ll likely use the franchise tag on him and that hit would limit other things they can do to prepare for the 2015 season.

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Darrelle Revis on Jets alleged tampering: I couldn’t say much on the subject

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The Patriots have filed tampering charges against the Jets because owner Woody Johnson said he’d “love for Darrelle to come back” to the Jets while talking about Revis winding up in New England after being released by the Buccaneers last year.

Johnson’s comment could theoretically make it harder for the Patriots to renegotiate their deal with Revis, something that would make keeping him for the 2015 season plausible. On Tuesday, Revis gave no indication that Johnson’s comment is influencing his thinking about who will be signing his checks.

“I heard the Woody Johnson quote,” Revis said, via NJ.com. “If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels. I couldn’t really say much on the subject.”

Revis faced another question about the Jets during Super Bowl Media Day when he was asked about Jets fans watching him play in the Super Bowl for the team that has ruled the AFC East for more than a decade.

“It’s not really my fault. I didn’t make the call,” Revis said. “Management made the call at that time and they felt it was best to get rid of me. So that’s the situation. That’s how I look at it.”

Revis also said he needed to find the “right team” to make it to the Super Bowl for the first time, something that stands as further suggestion that his career will continue to play out away from the team that first employed him in the NFL.

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Dan Quinn says he’s focused on his current job, not his next one

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Although NFL rules prevent it from being officially announced until Monday, everyone knows that Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will be the next head coach of the Falcons. But even though Quinn will take a big step in his career next week when he becomes a head coach for the first time, Quinn says all of his focus is on Super Bowl Sunday.

Quinn said at Super Bowl Media Day that he appreciates the NFL rule that allowed him to interview with the Falcons during the Seahawks’ bye week, and that he’s having no trouble keeping his focus on the Super Bowl.

“The interview process allows us to go through it during the bye. I am appreciative of how the NFL does that. It is pretty easy to get right back into focus to play in this situation,” Quinn said.

Quinn said it would be crazy to be at the Super Bowl and allow his focus to be on anything else.

“This is such a cool experience,” Quinn said. “Where else would you rather be?”

Quinn has decided he would rather be in Atlanta than Seattle. But not until after the Super Bowl.

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Josh McDaniels: We’ll be smart with Richard Sherman because he’s smart

New England Patriots v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis and Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman opted to pass on reviving their argument about who is the best cornerback in the NFL at Tuesday’s Super Bowl Media Day, but the cornerbacks were still a topic of conversation.

Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin called Revis “one of the most patient cornerbacks” he’s ever seen while teammate Jermaine Kearse praised the Patriots corner’s physical play at the line of scrimmage. The words from the New England side were similarly complimentary about Sherman, including Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’s discussion of the need to throw the ball all over the field while also being cognizant of what Sherman can do to stymie an offense.

“It’s not easy to avoid someone the whole game … just say you’re not going to throw over there,” McDaniels said, via ESPN.com. “But you have to be smart because he will take the ball away from you. There’s a reason he’s taken the ball away from people, because of his skill level. But there’s no way around it. If the coverage takes the play there, that’s where you go. But you can’t just start going right at him if the play doesn’t take you there. We want to be smart, make the smart plays. Because he’s smart, he’ll make the smart plays. … We’re not going to avoid someone throughout, but we’re not going to go out of our way to get in trouble.”

Four Patriots caught at least 50 passes this season, including tight end Rob Gronkowski and running back Shane Vereen, so the Patriots are comfortable going all over the field to make plays through the air. That depth should make it easier for them to go after a variety of Seattle defenders throughout the game without having to force things in any direction other than the one that might be open on a particular play.

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NFLPA: NFL can’t mandate counseling for Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson AP

When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Vikings running back Adrian Peterson last season, he set April 15 as a date to consider Peterson’s reinstatement and mandated that Peterson meet with a league-approved psychiatrist for counseling after pleading no contest to a charge of misdemeanor reckless assault on his four-year-old son.

On Monday, the NFLPA filed a brief in federal court arguing that Goodell has no power to impose such a condition on Peterson. The union, which is suing to have Peterson reinstated as soon as possible in a case set to begin next month, argues that Goodell’s powers under the collective bargaining agreement are limited to fining players, suspending them or terminating their contracts.

“The collectively-bargained NFL Player Contract could not be clearer in expressly limiting the Commissioner’s disciplinary authority ‘to fine Player[s] in a reasonable amount, to suspend Player[s] for a certain period or indefinitely; and/or to terminate th[eir] contract[s],'” the NFLPA writes in the brief, via ESPN.com. “The NFL does not deny that the Commissioner’s imposed counseling requirement is neither a fine, suspension, or contract termination, nor would there be any other ‘plausible’ interpretation of this CBA provision permitting such a requirement. Instead, the NFL — like the [suspension] itself — entirely ignores the Player Contract’s CBA disciplinary limitation. As the NFL highlights, Arbitrator [Harold] Henderson sustained the counseling requirement of Mr. Peterson’s discipline not on the basis of any provision in the CBA, but by relying upon Commissioner Goodell’s unilaterally promulgated Personal Conduct Policies.”

Peterson met with a psychology professor from Harvard following his indictment in September and provided details to the league, which directed Peterson to meet with a different doctor from NYU. After his suspension was upheld by Henderson, Peterson told ESPN that he felt “like any type of process with the NFL is not the way to go.”

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Report: Bob Bicknell possible candidate for offensive coordinator role with 49ers

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An Eagles assistant coach is reportedly on San Francisco’s radar as it tries to fill its offensive coordinator vacancy.

Eagles wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell has been “discussed” as a potential candidate for the 49ers’ coordinator role, Albert Breer of NFL Media reports.

The 45-year-old Bicknell has been the Eagles’ receivers coach the last two seasons. Previously, he was an assistant with Buffalo (2010-2012) and Kansas City (2007-2009).

Bicknell has five seasons of experience as an offensive coordinator, with all of it coming in NFL Europe from 2001 through 2005.

Colts assistant Rob Chudzinski, expected to be a candidate for San Francisco’s offensive coordinator position, has elected to stay with Indianapolis, which named him associate head coach.

The 49ers and Rams are the only clubs with offensive coordinator vacancies.

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Report: Mosi Tatupu’s brain said to show evidence of CTE

Mosi Tatupu Getty Images

According to a published report, medical testing suggests Patriots running back Mosi Tatupu had chronic traumatic encephalopathy before he died of a heart attack in 2010 at age 54.

The Boston Globe reported Tuesday that a sample of Tatupu’s brain sent to Boston University’s CTE Center showed the “tau” protein accumulation associated with the degenerative brain disease, which has been linked to hits to the head, according to the university.

Mosi Tatupu played 14 seasons (1978-1991), the first 13 of which were with New England. He made the Pro Bowl in 1986.

Tatupu’s son, Lofa, was a seven-season starter at linebacker with Seattle (2005-2010).

Linnea Garcia-Tatupu, the former wife of Mosi Tatupu, arranged for the testing of her former husband’s brain, according to the Globe.

“If I knew then what I know now, would I have encouraged Mosi’s dream? Would I have encouraged Lofa’s dream? I wouldn’t have. The risk is not worth the reward,” Garcia-Tatupu told the Globe.

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Josh McDaniels: Brian Daboll “a great resource”

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Tuesday was the 15th anniversary of Bill Belichick becoming the Patriots’ head coach, a tenure long enough to have had assistant coaches develop, leave, then come back for second tours in Foxborough.

Josh McDaniels is the obvious example of a Belichick assistant returning to the nest. After a 28-game stint as the Broncos’ head coach in 2009 and 2010 and one season as the Rams’ offensive coordinator (2011), the 38-year-old McDaniels came back to New England to take over as offensive coordinator, a position he’s held for the last three seasons.

Tight ends coach Brian Daboll is another returnee. After leaving the Patriots’ staff in 2007, Daboll held five jobs in six seasons, coaching quarterbacks for the Jets and serving as offensive coordinator for the Browns, Dolphins and Chiefs. Daboll made his way back to Foxborough in 2013, serving as an offensive coaching assistant last season.

McDaniels and Daboll are linked in either ways, too. Both were graduate assistants under Nick Saban at Michigan State in 1999 before coming to Foxborough and building NFL careers that made them in demand elsewhere.

At Media Day, McDaniels praised Daboll’s contributions for New England, calling him “a great resource” for the team.

“He can coach whatever position we want him to coach,” McDaniels said, according to an interview transcript from the NFL. “He was helping [former Patriots assistant] Dante [Scarnecchia] with the offensive line last year and moved over to coach the tight ends this year and did a phenomenal job with those guys. He has been a coordinator. He has been a quarterback coach. He has coached receivers. This is a guy that brings experience and value to our offense.

“… Every day he has his hands in the game planning process, the preparation, the scouting report. He is a guy that I lean on significantly in my role. He has been one of my best friends ever since I met him at Michigan State. We are lucky to have him back here.”

It could also be argued Daboll and McDaniels are lucky to have had the experiences they had outside of New England, too. Both have broadened their résumés and their experiences, and they would figure to be better coaches for it.

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Reports: Colts, WR Duron Carter close to contract

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The Colts are reportedly poised to sign one of the CFL’s bright young stars.

Per multiple reports, the Colts have agreed to a deal with Montreal Alouettes wide receiver Duron Carter, the son of Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter.

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported the Colts and Carter “have [an] agreement,” while Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star reported the club anticipates signing the 23-year-old receiver, who hauled in 75 passes for 1,030 yards and seven touchdowns for Montreal in 2014.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported earlier Tuesday that Carter was “closing in on” a deal with the Colts.

Carter (6-5, 205) could vie to be one of the Colts’ top three receivers in 2015. Veterans Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks are slated to be free agents, and rookie Donte Montcrief looks poised to have a bigger role next season, perhaps opposite third-year pro T.Y. Hilton, who has become the Colts’ go-to target.

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Kurt Warner says he now wonders if Pats gained unfair edge in Super Bowl XXXVI

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The Patriots 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI was the first of three titles for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in New England.

Adam Vinatieri’s 48-yard game-winning field goal denied Kurt Warner and the Rams a second Super Bowl title in three seasons.

On the heels of Deflategate and Spygate, Warner said Tuesday that he now has at least a little shred of doubt as to whether the Patriots win to cap the 2001-02 season was all on the up-and up.

In an interview with Dave Mahler of Sports Radio 950 KJR at Super Bowl XLIX Media Day on Tuesday, Warner said he now has to wonder whether the Patriots may have used an unfair edge to their advantage to earn that first Super Bowl.

“I don’t want to believe that there was anything outside of his team beat our team,” Warner said in regards to his reaction to Deflategate. “That’s what I want to believe. Yeah, there’s a sliver of a doubt because I think, as a human, you can’t help it. To know that if you were a part of that process at that time, was there any advantage they gained in any game, not just our Super Bowl game, but maybe a game before that to get to the Super Bowl? I mean, all those things enter your mind.

“It’s not because I’m bitter. It’s not because I say they cheated, because I have no idea, but it adds a sliver of doubt that I think is unfair to everybody. It’s unfair to them and their legacy. It’s unfair to me and my legacy because I don’t want to have to wonder, well did they beat me fair and square or was there something extra? And that’s the unfortunate part that I don’t think you’ll ever get over because you know something was done outside the rules. I don’t know how it helped them. I don’t know if it gave them an advantage on one play – that turned into an interception or a touchdown – or it gave them no advantage. I don’t know.

“I don’t want to talk about it. I want to know that I got beat fair and square. That’s the spirit of fair competition. That’s what I believe every time I step between the lines is that I’ve got to beat that guy across from me. And if I’m better, I will do that. If I’m not, I won’t. But now when you add other things to the mix, now all it does is give you a little bit of a doubt. That’s what I’m saying. It’s unfair I don’t look at it that way because I try to fight against it because we’re never going to know, but it’s unfortunate that I even have to consider it.”

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