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Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has heard the NFL’s warning that Marshawn Lynch will get a 15-yard penalty if he grabs his crotch during the Super Bowl. And Carroll says Lynch will hear from him about it.
“I haven’t talked to him about the thing that just came up from the league and the things about the game and all that yet, but that will be addressed and I expect him to have a great Super Bowl week,’’ Carroll said. “I think he’s going to have a great time doing this and playing in this game come game day.’’
While Carroll doesn’t want Lynch doing anything that will give the team a penalty, Carroll doesn’t sound too concerned about the other question facing Lynch this week: Will he answer questions from the thousands of credentialed media in attendance?
“First off, let’s not miss that he is a very unique individual and he has a way that we have embraced, that we understand Marshawn and we support him every way that we can,’’ Carroll said. “But he is a very unique guy, and he’s got his own way of looking at things, and he’s also a very private person, too. That’s why the media thing is as it is. It’s not something that he is going to express a whole lot to you. I’ve said this before, that there’s a great deal spoken in his silence as well.”
So Carroll doesn’t want Lynch drawing a 15-yard penalty for grabbing his crotch on the field. But if Lynch does nothing more than grab his crotch on Super Bowl Media Day, Carroll won’t have a problem with that.
As the regular season wound down, there was word out of Cincinnati that linebacker Vontaze Burfict might need to have a second surgery on his knee after landing on injured reserve following an initial operation in October.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis confirmed last week that Burfict had another operation, but stopped short of revealing all the details of the surgery. It turns out that Burfict needed to have microfracture surgery, an operation that’s designed to regrow cartilage in the knee and comes with added fears about how Burfict will respond for the 2015 season.
His surgeon Neal ElAttrache was cleared to talk about the surgery and told Ian Rapoport of NFL Media that he’s not worried about that aspect. He said the goal is for Burfict to be ready to go full speed at training camp, but he wouldn’t rule out a return in time for mandatory minicamp.
“I don’t see any reason, if this thing heals like we want and we think it will, why he won’t be back like he was,” ElAttrache said. “Microfracture has a bad connotation, but there are plenty of guys who have come back and been able to play like before. But it’s not really news when it works out.”
There’s a long way to go before anyone will know if it works out. Burfict will be on crutches for several weeks and it will be three months before he can start running, so the Bengals have to have a plan for how to go forward on defense if things don’t work out with Burfict.
One of the things that offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi learned during his first season with the Lions is that getting the ball to Calvin Johnson isn’t as easy as just telling him to run down the field and throwing the ball in his direction.
Lombardi learned that the way he could use Johnson was impacted heavily by the way that other teams defended him, pointing to a game against the Vikings when the Lions installed a new play during halftime in order to beat the coverage that Minnesota was sending Johnson’s way. That taught Lombardi to always have a few calls in reserve for use against unexpected defensive looks.
“I don’t want to say [Johnson] makes it more difficult because he really makes it easier,” Lombardi said, via the team’s website. “But there are added layers of complexity when you have a player that can be that dominant. If they play like this than maybe we go to this. There is definitely a comfort level in watching film during the week and saying this is who they are, this is what they are going to do and I’m not sure you can ever do that with him.”
Tackling that learning curve in 2014 should make things easier in 2015, especially if Johnson is able to avoid the injuries that cost him three games and limited him in several others. While the Lions Offense had its issues over the course of the year, Lombardi was able to feed Johnson and Golden Tate often enough for both men to finish with more than 1,000 receiving yards and that offers reason for optimism about a more productive second season in Detroit.
We’ve found someone more skeptical of Bill Belichick’s #DeflateGate claims than Bill Nye the Science Guy.
“That’s the Patriots,” Richardson said, via Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post. “I’m not surprised at all. If they ain’t winning with controversy, they ain’t winning. . . .
“It’s funny when they say, ‘We keep it professional and clean cut.’ Because they don’t. They don’t at all.”
Mangold was also skeptical of the fact 11 of the 12 balls the Patriots put into play were all under-inflated, while none of the Colts’ were.
“All 12 of [the Patriots’] balls having something wrong with them does tell you something is amiss,” Mangold said. “It does seem like it’s always something with the Patriots. It does seem that way.”
And it does seem like the Jets would be all too happy to enjoy their rivals’ misfortune.
The Giants didn’t have a season to remember, but things got worse for team matriarch Ann Mara recently.
Via Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News, the matriarch of the team is recovering after slipping on ice and hitting her head.
The 85-year-old Ann is the wife of late Giants owner Wellington Mara, and the mother of team co-owner John Mara. She’s still hospitalized
While she’s not very public, her son John did mention her at the end of the season, when discussing a disappointing season.
“She is not very happy with me right now, believe me,” John Mara said. “She suffers through this probably even more so than I do.”
We wish her a speedy recovery.
In his first of two press conferences about the NFL’s investigation into the use of under-inflated footballs during the AFC Championship game, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said that he had no knowledge of the way footballs were prepared for games.
He was the only coach facing questions about whether his team was breaking the rules about the way they were doing that, but he wasn’t the only coach in the dark about the procedures. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was asked about the story of the day in his arrival press conference on Sunday and said that he was just as clueless as Belichick when the week opened. And, like Belichick, he’s spent some time brushing up on football handling procedures.
“Things come up and we have to face things sometimes for the first time, a first-time realization, that maybe everybody would think you should have seen it before. But I never checked on the whole process of how our footballs were handled until this week,” Carroll said. “I can empathize with Coach Belichick in that same way. I never have, so I can understand that he never has either. It’s something that just is part of the equipment standards that are carried out by our people in the organization. That’s one that has not been looked at maybe as intently as it is now, but I know every step of it now. So my awareness is up and I’m sure theirs is and everybody else that’s around our game in particular will never be the same because of what just happened.”
Carroll was asked other questions about the integrity of the game after a year that saw the league face crises on several fronts. He said he thought the deflated ball controversy provided the league with “another opportunity for us to grow and to see that we don’t have everything nailed yet,” but avoided the kind of direct comment on the Patriots’ situation that cornerback Richard Sherman made upon arriving in Arizona.
Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham made as big a splash as we’ve ever seen from a rookie wide receiver in 2014 and he did it despite playing in just 12 games as a result of an early-season hamstring injury.
Those 12 games produced 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns, but Beckham suggested that even that impact could have been bigger after the Pro Bowl on Sunday night. Beckham said that he played the entire year with two tears in his right hamstring that left him at less than 100 percent while he was blowing up defenses.
“They healed up enough to where I could play with them, but they were never truly good and I’m still just working on them and trying to get ready,” Beckham said, via the New York Post. “I should be good by training camp. The plan is to play at full strength next season, and I definitely hope to do it. I’m just looking forward to getting healthy.”
The prospect of having an even more potent Beckham in the lineup is something that should be pretty exciting to the Giants, especially if they get Victor Cruz back at full speed to go alongside him in their offense. If Steve Spagnuolo can get the defense back on track, the pieces would be there to get the Giants back to the playoffs for the first time in three years.
The team chosen by Michael Irvin has defeated the team chosen by Cris Carter.
The Pro Bowl, in its second year of the new format with team captains picking the teams, went down to the final minute, with Team Irvin beating Team Carter 32-28. Team Carter’s last, best chance ended when an Andy Dalton pass fell incomplete; on a day when offenses dominated, Dalton was an exception, completing just nine of his 20 passes for 69 yards.
Does it matter who wins the Pro Bowl? Not really. There’s $27,000 on the line (players and coaches on the winning team get $55,000 while those on the losing team get $28,000), but that’s not enough to make the players play particularly hard.
But what does matter is whether the Pro Bowl is a compelling enough product for the fans to keep watching. The fans at University of Phoenix Stadium seemed to be enjoying themselves, although thousands left early, and there were many empty seats late in the fourth quarter, even though the game was close. The Pro Bowl needs to be well played enough that the fans don’t turn away.
So far, the fans aren’t turning away. And that alone makes it a success, from the NFL’s perspective.
Plenty of people think the Pro Bowl is such a lousy exhibition game that the NFL ought to scrap it. Here’s why the NFL will do no such thing: Plenty of fans still enjoy it.
Here at University of Phoenix Stadium, there are very few empty seats and tens of thousands of fans who seem to be having a good time. Cardinals fans dominate (the three most common jerseys I’ve seen are Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson and Pat Tillman), but a quick look at the crowd reveals jerseys representing just about every team in the NFL. And they seem to be enjoying themselves. A great Odell Beckham catch drew a loud ovation, and even during the commercial breaks fans are laughing and cheering as mascots from a dozen or so teams engage in their usual mascot buffoonery. (There were loud cheers while mascots played musical chairs during a commercial break, then even louder cheers when some mascot-on-mascot violence broke out and the Patriots’ mascot took the brunt of it.)
The fans also enjoyed the opportunity to do some booing: When the Seahawks’ Pro Bowlers (who aren’t playing in the game because they’re preparing for the Super Bowl) were shown on the big screen, the crowd booed loudly. Putting Richard Sherman’s face on the screen seemed to draw particular ire from the fans.
And, of course, the TV ratings will be strong, as they always are. In fact, the Pro Bowl frequently draws bigger television audiences than the baseball, basketball and hockey All-Star games.
So while the NFL may continue to tinker with the format, make no mistake: The Pro Bowl is here to stay.
The Seahawks had done a good job last week of dancing around #DeflateGate, with perhaps the strongest comment from cornerback Richard Sherman when he compared the potential handling of underinflated footballs to the league’s reported threat to prevent Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch from playing with gold cleats.
Sherman went all in on Sunday after arriving in Arizona, suggesting that the friendship between Commissioner Roger Goodell and Patriots owner Robert Kraft ultimately will lead to the exoneration of the Patriots.
“Will they be punished? Probably not,” Sherman told reporters, via Don Banks of SI.com. “Not as long as Robert Kraft and Goodell are still taking pictures [together] at their respective homes. I think he was just at Kraft’s house last week for the AFC Championship. Talk about conflict of interest. You know, as long as that happens, it won’t affect them at all. Nothing will.”
Sherman’s point is undermined by the fact that Goodell hammered the Patriots for Spygate in 2007, despite the fact that the team will still owned at the time by Kraft. Still, if the Patriots aren’t punished for the latest controversy, some will point to the strong support Kraft provided Goodell during the Ray Rice situation as proof of preferential treatment, even if the truth is that the league tried to catch the Pats in the act of underinflating footballs and ultimately failed to do so.
From the sideline of the Pro Bowl, Sherman had a chance to elaborate during an interview with ESPN’s Lisa Salters, who asked about his belief that the Pats won’t face consequences.
“I don’t because how that’s gonna be,” Sherman said. “It’s the world we live in. It’s the league we play in.”
Sherman also addressed the substance of the NFL’s suspicion of deliberate underinflation, stopping short of poking a bear that already will be poised to prove to the world that the Patriots deserve to be in the Super Bowl.
“I think the perception is the reality,” Sherman said. “It is what it is. Their resume speaks for itself. You talk about getting close to the line. . . . I don’t really have a comment about that, but their past is what their past is, their present is what their present is.”
Still, we don’t know what their past or present is regarding ball inflation, because the NFL has never dealt with this type of situation before — and because the NFL apparently was woefully unprepared to link proof of underinflated balls to proof of foul play. Absent a clear plan to make that connection, the NFL never should have pulled the pin on this specific grenade.
While complimenting the Patriots on their rout of his club in last week’s AFC title game, Colts owner Jim Irsay expressed support Sunday night for the league’s investigation of the Pats’ alleged under-inflation of footballs.
Via his verified Twitter account, Irsay said his franchise is “confident the NFL and Commissioner [Roger Goodell] will address the concerns that arouse from our [championship game].”
Wrote Irsay: “The integrity of the game is critical.”
The footballs used by New England in the first half of its 45-7 victory vs. Indianapolis were tested by the NFL, which said Friday that “the evidence thus far supports” the Pats used under-inflated game balls in the first 30 minutes of regulation. The NFL’s investigation remains ongoing.
Before directly addressing the inflation controversy, Irsay published three Patriots-related tweets, at one point calling New England “a team with championship lineage.”
Here were Irsay’s remarks:
“We congratulate The Patriots as AFC Champions. We knew the difficulties of going to New England and did not overcome the obstacles we faced.
“Our rivalry with The Pats is something we treasure in the depths of our competitive soul,where the fire burns hot. We look forward to 2015.
“Seahawks/Pats will be a great Super Bowl. It’s a great matchup between defending Champions and a team with championship lineage.”
With Browns receiver Josh Gordon facing a one-year suspension that he’s not expected to be able to defeat via the appeal process, his time with the team probably is over. After not having him for 10 games to start 2014 due to a marijuana violation and suspending him for the regular-season finale after missing a walk-through practice, the Browns now won’t have Gordon for all of 2015.
Her arrived in 2012 via the second-round of the supplemental draft. Despite plenty of warning signs regarding marijuana use in college, the Browns under former CEO Mike Holmgren, G.M. Tom Heckert, and coach Pat Shurmur rolled the dice, likely knowing that with Jimmy Haslam poised to purchase the team from Randy Lerner, a strong season would be a key to remaining employed. So why not use the 2013 second-round pick in July 2012, if there’s a chance they won’t be there to use the pick in April 2013?
A negotiated two-game suspension to start the 2013 season showed that concerns about Gordon were well founded. But the Browns could have traded Gordon before the October deadline, and ultimately Haslam prevented president Joe Banner, G.M. Mike Lombardi, and coach Rob Chudzinski from doing so. After the season, Gordon had outlasted a pair of team presidents, a pair of General Managers, and a pair of head coaches.
Then came the news at draft time that Gordon was facing a one-year suspension. The Browns didn’t draft a single receiver to replace him, even though they could have had Sammy Watkins with the fourth pick or Odell Beckham after trading down with Buffalo to No. 9.
Now, Gordon has once again let the Browns down, and it becomes very hard for the Browns to trust him again. If he’s reinstated in a year, the Browns would be wise to trade him. This time around, they surely won’t get anything close to what they could have gotten in 2013.
With the Pro Bowl about to kick off, PFT is coming to you live from University of Phoenix Stadium, and our first reaction to surveying the scene is this: The narrower goal posts look a little goofy.
One of the NFL’s many experiments with different rules at this year’s Pro Bowl is the narrowing of the goal posts from 18 feet across to 14 feet across, which the league hopes will make field goals and extra points more difficult, and therefore more interesting for the fans. On first glance, those posts look strange.
”Other people might enjoy that,” Vinatieri said. ”For me, I’m a traditionalist. Don’t change it unless it needs to be changed. The league has never been more successful. The fan base has never been greater. But the deciding powers are way above me.”
Added Parkey, “I don’t prefer it but it is what it is,. It’s going to be way harder. It’s the kind of situation where there are so many good kickers in the league that I guess made it look easy. They’ve got to find other ways to make it harder. No matter what it is, we’ll accept the challenge.”
There has been talk in the NFL of moving extra points farther back to make them more difficult, and there was an experiment with that last preseason. This year, perhaps the Pro Bowl experiment will be the first step toward making field goals and extra points harder by making the goal posts narrower. Even if the sight of those narrower posts takes some getting used to.
We’ve entered the third day of PFT’s Prop Challenge, our daily look at a Super Bowl proposition bet.
The first two props studied were Over-Unders — bets that require choosing whether a given statistic will finish above or below a given number.
In both cases, PFT Planet preferred the OVER by a roughly 55-to-45 margin.
Now, on Day Three, we look at a “Yes” or “No” prop made by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.
Here’s the prop: Will Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski score a touchdown in Super Bowl 49?
“Yes” is favored at -130, meaning a bettor have to lay $13 to win $10.
“No” is +110, with a successful $10 resulting in $11 of profit.
Gronkowski has 14 touchdown catches in 17 games this season, with one TD catch in five consecutive games.
On the other hand, the Seahawks have surrendered 11 TDs to tight ends in 18 games, per ESPN statistics.
So here we go. Does Rob Gronkowski score a touchdown next Sunday, or does Seattle hold him out of the endzone? Let us know via the poll and in the comments. Remember: after the Super Bowl, we’ll tally the votes and see just how well PFT Planet handicaps in this hypothetical, just-for-fun exercise.
The Raiders have continued putting together head coach Jack Del Rio’s first Oakland staff by adding a pair of former NFL players.
Jerry McDonald of Bay Area News Group reports that the team has added Rob Moore as their new wide receivers coach and Bernie Parmalee as the new running backs coach.
Moore spent his first year as an NFL coach working with the wide receivers in Buffalo after spending several years on the staff at his alma mater Syracuse, where he worked for former Bills coach Doug Marrone as well. Moore played 10 seasons for the Jets and Cardinals, making the Pro Bowl twice and the All-Pro team once.
Parmalee played nine years for the Dolphins and Jets and moved into coaching after his playing career came to an end following the 2000 season. He worked for the Dolphins and then spent time working under Charlie Weis when he was a head coach at Notre Dame and Kansas as well as during his time with the Chiefs.
The Raiders have filled out the majority of their offensive staff and hired a few defensive assistants, but they’re still looking for a defensive coordinator.