ProFootballTalk: One-on-one with Ahmad Brooks
When the New York Jets were making back-to-back appearances in the AFC Championship game in 2009 and 2010, their defense was one of the most blitz-happy teams in the NFL. Over the last two years with Mike Pettine serving as the defensive play-caller, the percentage of blitzes by the Jets have decreased substantially.
According to Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com, the Jets were first and third in the NFL in 2009 and 2010, respectively, in blitz percentage. They were 12th and 11th the past two seasons with Pettine at the helm. As noted in one-liners this morning, with Pettine now in Buffalo the Jets plan to go back to their blitzing ways this fall.
“We’re going to do a lot of blitzing and getting after people,” Jets linebacker David Harris said to Cimini. “There should be a different brand of football than you were used to seeing the last couple of years.” Asked about last season’s philosophy, Harris said, “We played more coverage. It wasn’t like ’09, that’s obvious. That’s all I’ll say about that.”
The Jets blitzed on more than 50-percent of their defensive snaps in 2009. The last two seasons, the Jets blitzed on just 32.8 percent of snaps in 2011 and 34-percent of snaps in 2012.
A change in defensive aggression the last two years isn’t the only reason the Jets have fallen off in terms of win-loss record (Mark Sanchez doesn’t play on that side of the ball). However, it seems safe to say that if head coach Rex Ryan isn’t going to survive this season as the Jets coach, he’s at least planning to go out doing things his way once again.
After nine seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, Antoine Winfield is settling in to his new role as the nickel cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks.
Winfield signed with Seattle this offseason after being released by the Vikings in March. Winfield had been working to rehab his knee after surgery at the Vikings’ facility when he was called into general manager Rick Spielman’s office and told he was being let go. However, once the Vikings had his previous contract off the books, Minnesota looked to bring Winfield back on a reduced deal.
But Winfield had already put the Vikings in his rear-view mirror.
“Once I took my nameplate off that locker, it was a wrap,” Winfield said. “It was time to go.”
Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier pushed hard to get Winfield to return to the Vikings but ultimately couldn’t sway him from joining the Seahawks.
The deal he accepted from Seattle was ultimately for less guaranteed money than the Vikings were offering as well. Per a source with knowledge of the deals, the Vikings were offering a fully guaranteed one-year, $3 million contract. The deal from Seattle is only for $2 million for just $1 million fully guaranteed. It can ultimately reach a total value of $3 million if Winfield meets thresholds for playing time and interceptions.
Winfield said the chance to chase a Super Bowl with the Seahawks was the biggest factor in why he wanted to accept less money and a non-starting role with Seattle. Despite making the playoffs last season, Winfield didn’t see the Vikings as having as strong a chance to win a ring this season.
“[The Seahawks] have an opportunity to do something that I dream about every night and that’s win a championship,” Winfield said. “…I don’t have too much time left. This is Year 15 for me so I’m trying to get it this year.”
Last week, the Ravens cut fullback Vonta Leach. By the end of the month, he plans to have a new team.
“I know I can play in this league and I’ve got some teams that are courting me,” Leach recently said, via the Greenville (N.C.) Daily Reflector. “In the next two weeks, I know where I’ll be playing.”
The veteran spent two years in Baltimore after five in Houston, one in New Orleans and Green Bay, and two with the Packers.
“There are a lot of teams out there that want me, about seven teams,” Leach said. “Me and my agent are going to take our time and see what’s the best fit for me. I’m probably going to play three more years before I hang it up.”
He has visited the Dolphins, and the Texans reportedly are interested.
With the release of Willis McGahee last week, the Denver Broncos are firmly pinning their rushing game hopes on a young triumvirate of Ronnie Hillman, Knowshon Moreno and second-round pick Montee Ball.
If Hillman has a say in the matter, he’ll be the one responsible for picking up the lion’s share of the additional workload.
Hillman was a third-round selection of the Broncos last year and saw mainly spot duty in relief of McGahee. At only 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, Hillman knows there are doubts he can take the pounding of a starting running back on a weekly basis. But Hillman says he’s up for the challenge.
“You get that when you’re a smaller guy,” Hillman said, via Dan Hanzus of NFL.com. “You can’t take the pounding, but I just brush it off. Of course you hear things, I’m not going to sit hear and say I don’t hear what they say, but you just got to let it go.”
Hillman points to the 22 carries he received in the Broncos loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs last season as proof he can stand up to the beating.
“Obviously, getting 22 carries in negative 13-degree-weather against the Ravens (in the divisional playoffs), they shouldn’t have much else to say about that if they’re paying attention,” Hillman said.
The skeptics would say that Hillman only ran for 83 yards in the game despite the 22 carries (a 3.8 yards per carry average). Regardless of whether it’s Hillman, Ball or a resurgent Moreno, the Broncos will need to find someone to add a second dimension to their offense.
Hillman finished the 2012 season with 85 carries for 330 yards and one touchdown.
With the Vikings opening a new stadium in 2016 and playing at the University of Minnesota’s home stadium in 2014 and 2015, the decision to host a game in London this coming season may be the first of several games the Vikings play in England.
According to Neil Reynolds of NFLUK.com, Vikings V.P. of public affairs and stadium development Lester Bagley didn’t rule out the possibility. Bagley, per Reynolds, said that the Vikings want to see how the 2013 game against the Steelers goes at Wembley Stadium.
While some folks in Minnesota could be upset by the loss of three home games in three years, it’s better for the franchise to bite the bullet and sacrifice home games now. Then, once they move into the new stadium, they’ll be less likely to be asked to give up further home games in the name of helping grow the sport internationally.
Usually, the official Pro Football Talk Mt. Rushmore differs from the PFT Planet version in one of the four heads. On Monday, the two outcomes agreed completely on the blended Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts version.
Two players from Baltimore, and two from Indy made it. From each city, it was a quarterback and his favorite wideout.
John Unitas, Peyton Manning, Raymond Berry, Marvin Harrison.
New NBC analyst Scott Pioli offered up a strong case for Gino Marchetti. You can hear what Pioli had to say if you click the link below.
You’ll also see how the voting broke down among the 12 finalists.
Maybe they should call it the Brown Hole.
The O.co Coliseum, the last of the shared MLB-NFL venues, has a plumbing problem. As explained by Carl Steward of the Bay Area News Group, the baseball clubhouses were flooded on Sunday. With sewage.
The good news? it gives news meaning to “let’s play two.” The bad news? The outdated structure (which opened in 1966) now officially stinks, in more ways that one.
“It smelled some,” A’s first baseman Brandon Moss said. “No big deal. It’s the kind of thing that could happen anywhere.”
It could, but it seems to happen only to the A’s.
Both the A’s and the Raiders want a new facility. The Raiders could play their games at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, but neither the Raiders nor the 49ers seem to be interested in sharing a venue.
Coincidentally (or not), the building is managed by AEG, the same company that wants to build an NFL stadium in L.A. and lure an NFL team there.
It should go without saying that everyone in the NFL finds it appalling that an Atlanta radio station made bad jokes at the expense of former Saints safety Steve Gleason’s struggle with ALS. But the Falcons decided to say it anyway.
The Falcons released a statement on Monday evening saying the team is disgusted that three hosts at Atlanta sports radio station 790 The Zone, which is the Falcons’ flagship station, chose Gleason as the target of their poor attempt at humor.
“The Falcons are disappointed in the comments made about former Saints player Steve Gleason on a local Atlanta radio station Monday morning,” the team’s statement said. “The content concerning Mr. Gleason was completely inappropriate and is not representative of the views of the Falcons organization, nor does it represent the way we conduct our business on and off the field. To single out Steve the way he was this morning is totally lacking in taste and discretion.”
On the field, Gleason is best remembered for blocking a punt against the Falcons that led to the Saints’ first touchdown of what turned out to be a 23-3 victory in their first game back at the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina had displaced the team and ravaged New Orleans a year earlier. In retirement, Gleason has gained widespread respect for the way he has raised awareness about ALS while publicly discussing his own struggle with the disease.
Hours after the segment making fun of Gleason aired on 790 The Zone, the station fired the three people responsible.
The Bills may not want a Mt. Rushmore. After all, anything with four in it serves as a reminder of something the franchise would love to forget.
But getting to four straight Super Bowls is a major accomplishment, even if the team didn’t win any of them. And the men responsible for the performances should be remembered — even if folks would love to forget those four championship games.
The 12 finalists have been determined. Pick up to four (sorry), and the outcome will be revealed on Wednesday’s episode of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN.
The Packers apparently lit a fire under Desmond Bishop with his release.
And they may have to put it out twice a year.
Bishop told ESPNWisconsin.com’s Jason Wilde that being released today will serve as motivation, something a former sixth-rounder who worked his way into a starting job never needed.
“This is definitely a motivating factor. For several reasons, moreso I think than anything in my entire career,” Bishop said. “Just from the standpoint of actually being cut. You figure it’s going to happen to everybody eventually at some point in their career, but I felt like I was the type of player who can go out on their own time.
“There’s something about being released that’s definitely going to add another chip to my shoulders. It’s motivation. It’s nothing negative about this whole situation. I think it’s all part of the plan, and I have to keep playing it out. I think it’s going to be good. I think all that is going to help me reach my goal.”
That goal might be sticking it to the Packers, as Bishop confirmed he’s headed to Minnesota tomorrow. Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com in Minneapolis reported that Bishop will work out for Vikings officials Wednesday.
Bishop said the Packers told him they would try to trade him, but never offered him the option of a pay cut. He signed a four-year, $19 million contract extension in 2011, and was due to make $3.464 million this year.
Coming off a torn hamstring tendon in the preseason opener last year, Bishop didn’t participate in OTAs or minicamp, though he said he was healthy now.
The Packers also cut D.J. Smith (who replaced Bishop) after he suffered a torn ACL.
Not getting a chance to come back has clearly made an impression on Bishop, and apparently his choice of visits.
“If you had to go in a dark alley, I’d be one of the guys you’d take with you because you knew what you were going to get,” Bishop said. “At the same time, I feel like I haven’t done enough – as a Packer or as a football player. I feel like I have a lot more potential to fulfill. That’s my next goal, wherever it is. I still feel I can do a lot of great things.”
And while he might draw interest from others, this is where we point out that the Vikings play the Packers on Oct. 27, on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
The now-former hosts of Mayhem in the A.M. probably suspected that, at some point, the name of their show would have literal meaning.
790 The Zone in Atlanta has announced that the “three individuals” involved in a bizarre and unfunny bit involving former Saints defensive back Steve Gleason have been fired.
The station has announced the move without naming the (former) hosts of the show: Stephen “Steak” Shapiro, Nick Cellino, and Chris Dimino.
Here’s the full statement, posted the station’s website: “We deeply regret the offensive programming that aired this morning on ‘Mayhem In The AM’ on 790 The Zone, related to former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason and his battle with ALS. We suspended the three individuals involved immediately following their comments and have since terminated their employment. 790 The Zone, our owners, sponsors and partners in no way endorse or support this kind of content. We sincerely apologize to Mr. Gleason, his family and all those touched by ALS.”
The audio of the gag, which featured a caller with a computerized voice pretending to be Gleason, has surfaced. It’s not humorous, under any reasonably stretch of the subjective concept of what is and isn’t funny.
One of the hosts seems to realize while it’s all unfolding that it wasn’t a great idea, saying “I just don’t know if I want to play.”
He should have listened to his instincts, and they all should have realized that this was a huge mistake that would bring their careers at 790 The Zone to a swift and decisive conclusion.
Former West Virginia quarterback Pat White was a major disappointment as a second-round draft pick of the Dolphins in 2009, and when he was cut at the end of training camp in 2010, it appeared that his NFL career had come to a quick end.
But White is now with the Redskins, and even after all this time out of the league, he he says he’s optimistic that he has a future in the NFL.
“I know that there’s still a lot to be learned, a lot for me to accomplish, but I’m willing to put in the time and the work to make it happen,” White told the Free Lance-Star. “I’m just very thankful and blessed to have this opportunity.”
White admits that until the Redskins called, he didn’t know whether he’d get another NFL chance.
“I was enthused when I first started to train to get this opportunity, not knowing whether it was going to happen or not,” White said. “I’m happy to get back at it.”
Realistically, it’s unlikely that the Redskins are going to keep White when the regular season starts, as Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Rex Grossman will almost certainly be the three quarterbacks they keep on their 53-man roster. But if White shows enough during training camp and the preseason, he might convince the Redskins or some other team that he’s worthy of a spot on an NFL roster. After it looked like he had washed out of the NFL completely three years ago, just having a chance is progress.
You hear references to people pissing money away all the time, but it’s rarely meant literally.
The case of Seahawks guard John Moffitt is an exception. Moffitt landed in hot water last year thanks to a series of incidents at a shopping mall in the Seattle area, starting with the mall’s security staff catching him urinating in public in January of 2012. Moffitt was subsequently barred from the mall and other properties owned by the same company, but was caught urinating at the Lincoln Square mall in June and then was arrested on charges of criminal trespass in August at a restaurant at the same mall.
Danny O’Neil of 710 ESPN in Seattle reports that Moffitt pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct (a plea bargain resulted in a lesser charge for Moffitt, who also faced a charge of obstructing a law enforcement officer) last Friday in Bellevue District Court to settle legal difficulties stemming from a series of incidents at a shopping mall in the Seattle area. He will pay a fine of $1,407 and received a suspended sentence of 24 months in jail that will not be served if he avoids further trouble.
It’s a bigger punishment than we’ve seen in other cases of public urination at a shopping mall, with or without the possibility of “uromysitisis poisoning” to explain away the breach of the rules.
Sights thus lowered, they added undrafted rookie running back George Winn Monday, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald.
Winn had been in camp with the Texans, but was released after a rookie minicamp.
A one-year starter at Cincinnati, he was recruited by now-Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly — one of Bill Belichick’s friends in the business who was on hand for the Patriots minicamp last week.
Linebacker Desmond Bishop is officially a free agent.
The Packers have announced that Bishop has been released, confirming the report from Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier on Monday and completing a slow march toward a breakup with Bishop that began when the team shopped him in trade talks before the draft. Bishop spoke to Dunne after getting the news from the Packers and said it was “understandable” that they cut him coming off a ruptured hamstring tendon with a $3.464 million base salary in 2013 and that he’s not opposed to a return to the team if he can’t find a better situation somewhere else.
“It’s not necessarily over,” Bishop said. “There’s an outside chance that I could still be a Packer. So we still have a good relationship. … If I don’t get the right compensation, I’d rather be in a familiar place.”
It’s probably wiser to bet on Bishop playing somewhere else in 2013. We’ve already heard about interest from the Vikings and teams like the Chiefs, Bills and Raiders could also be interested in shoring up uncertain situations at inside linebacker. If Bishop’s healthy, and he tells Dunne he is despite a hamstring strain that helped keep him on the sideline this spring, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll land the kind of deal he’s looking for with someone other than the Packers.