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College coach not ready to declare Blake Bortles a franchise QB

Blake Bortles AP

Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles name comes up in discussions of the top passers in this year’s draft, but his college coach isn’t ready to declare him a franchise quarterback just yet.

George O’Leary told Sports Radio 610 in Houston that description should be more rare.

I think a franchise quarterback comes out once every 10 years, and he came out last year in [Andrew] Luck,” O’Leary said, despite being off just one year. “The ones I see succeed are understudies.”

O’Leary thinks Bortles has the chance to succeed, and has “all the tools to get it done,” but might need more time.

“Blake has all the things you’re looking for in a quarterback as far as size and mental capacity to handle a lot of things,” O’Leary said. “But that first year is tough because those guys are moving a lot faster than the college guys.

“Blake is going to be fine-tuned to what he needs to get done in the pro ranks.”

While O’Leary didn’t necessarily go in for the Pete Carroll-Mark Sanchez level of bar-lowering, it’s reasonable to have reservations.

But O’Leary is also a mentor of new Houston coach Bill O’Brien, so you can be sure he’s giving his old pupil a more detailed report, before it’s time for the first pick in the draft.

And with the pressure on the first pick to perform for the Texans, there might not be time for the development that Bortles needs.

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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

New England Patriots v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

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”

Cleveland Browns 2010 Headshots Getty Images

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

Montreal Alouettes v Hamilton Tiger-Cats Getty Images

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

New England Patriots safety Lawyer Milloy (L) dive Getty Images

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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Bill Belichick: There’s no coach I respect more than Pete Carroll

belichickcarroll AP

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has nothing but good things to say about his predecessor as coach of the Patriots, who also happens to be the man he’ll be coaching against on Sunday.

Belichick said he’s been an admirer of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll for decades, going back to the days when both of them were entry-level assistant coaches.

“Not a coach in the NFL I respect more than Pete Carroll,” Belichick said. “He’s a tremendous coach. He and I have kind of come up together in roughly the same era. We’ve both been defensive coordinators, we’ve both been head coaches. I have a ton of respect for what Pete does as a coach, how good of a fundamental teacher he is, the way his teams play. I’ve studied him from afar. We’ve never worked together, studied Pete from afar over a long period of time. I’ve learned a lot from what he does, and indirectly, I think he’s made me a better coach. I have all the respect in the world for Pete and his staff.”

Carroll was a graduate assistant for Arkansas in 1977, when Lou Holtz was the Razorbacks’ head coach and Monte Kiffin was their defensive coordinator, and Belichick said Carroll has run more or less that same defense he learned from Kiffin ever since.

“I think coach Carroll will tell you that their defense is pretty much the defense that he learned and coached in 1977 at Arkansas,” Belichick said. “He’s been doing it a long time. I’d say they’ve gone up against everything they can go up against: great quarterbacks, great receivers, great running games, great offensive lines. They’ve always been good. I think that they have a great system.”

When Carroll and Belichick square off on Sunday, we’ll be seeing a meeting between the two best coaches in the NFL.

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Prop Challenge, Day V — Over-Under on Tim Wright’s receiving yards: 0.5

Detroit Lions v New England Patriots Getty Images

Leading up to Super Bowl XLIX, we’ll take a closer look at one proposition bet per day, something we’ve dubbed PFT’s Prop Challenge. Here’s the idea: we present a prop, do some light analysis, then turn it over to you to vote upon which side you would take — hypothetically, of course. (Previous examples are at the bottom of this post.)

When the Super Bowl wraps up, we’ll tally the votes and see how well PFT Planet did.

Now, let’s get to today’s prop, which is courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook:

Over-Under on Patriots tight end Tim Wright’s Super Bowl receiving yards: 0.5.

Yes, you read this correctly.

The Over-Under on Tim Wright’s receiving yardage is one-half of one yard.

And the OVER is priced to entice bettors.

If the OVER hits, bettors will win $17.50 for every $10 wagered (+175).

The UNDER, meanwhile, is priced at -200.

In this case, bettors win just $5 for every successful $10 bet.

The Over-Under has everything to do with Wright’s lack of playing time in the postseason. The ex-Buccaneer logged just eight offensive snaps in the lead-up to the Super Bowl and was not targeted once in the passing game.

However, Wright’s regular-season form could appeal to OVER players. He was targeted 33 times in regular-season play, catching 26 passes for 259 yards and six scores.

This is a fascinating prop. The regular-season numbers point OVER. The postseason form says UNDER. And given Wright’s lack of recent playing time, the prospect of him being a Super Bowl scratch isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility, though he has been active in every game this season.

So again, we turn to you, PFT Planet members and veterans of the Tangiers sports book alike.

What side are you taking — OVER or UNDER?

Do let us know.

Previous props studied:

Day I: Over-Under on Brandon LaFell’s receiving yards.

Day II: Over-Under on Doug Baldwin’s catches.

Day III: Will Rob Gronkowski score a touchdown?

Day IV: Will there be a one-yard TD in the Super Bowl?

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Low standard of proof applies to #DeflateGate

Scales Getty Images

It’s still not known what the NFL specifically has found, or will find, in the #DeflateGate investigation.  It is known that, when the time comes to assess the evidence, a low threshold will determine the outcome.

Per a league source, the “preponderance of the evidence” standard applies in cases involving allegations of conduct that undermines the integrity of the game.  That comes from the league policy manual given to every team.

It’s the standard that applies in civil litigation, a “more-likely-than-not” assessment of the proof that equates to, essentially, a 51-49 test far less stringent than proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which applies in criminal cases.

Although Patriots owner Robert Kraft has insisted on “hard facts as opposed to circumstantial leaked evidence to drive the conclusion of this investigation,” circumstantial evidence could be sufficient to overcome any legal standard — especially a low one like “preponderance of the evidence.”
Depending on the full extent of the evidence obtained during the ongoing investigation, that could be bad news for the Patriots.

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Wilson’s running is a different challenge for the Patriots

Russell Wilson, Rashad Johnson AP

Seattle’s Russell Wilson was the most prolific running quarterback in the NFL this season, and it wasn’t close. And that means the Patriots are in for a challenge they haven’t yet seen on Super Bowl Sunday.

Wilson carried 118 times for 849 yards during the regular season, by far the most of any quarterback in the league. Only 15 running backs gained more rushing yards than Wilson.

New England didn’t face any quarterback who had even half as many rushing yards as Wilson: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who carried 56 times for 311 yards, was the most prolific rusher of any quarterback the Patriots have faced this season. For New England, containing a running threat like Wilson at the quarterback position is something they haven’t had to do.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said stopping Wilson will require the Patriots’ defense to treat him like another running back. The Patriots need to make the correct reads when Wilson runs and make sound tackles on him in the open field.

The Super Bowl record for rushing yards by a quarterback was set by Steve McNair 15 years ago, when he picked up 64 rushing yards against the Rams. Wilson is a threat to break that record on Sunday, and a threat to break open the game if the Patriots aren’t ready for the kind of running attack they haven’t previously faced.

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Scott Fitterer chooses to stay in Seattle rather than join Eagles front office

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants Getty Images

The Eagles have been searching for a personnel executive to assist coach Chip Kelly in the front office since reorganizing their hierarchy and moving Howie Roseman out of the General Manager job earlier this month.

It’s been a fitful process for the Eagles, who have seen overtures blocked by teams and the candidates themselves. Seahawks director of college scouting Scott Fitterer is the latest to join that list.

Seahawks General Manager John Schneider said at Tuesday’s Super Bowl Media Day, via multiple reports, that Fitterer interviewed for the job with the Eagles, but has opted to stay in his current position. He joins the Chiefs’ Chris Ballard, the Buccaneers’ Jon Robinson and the Texans’ Brian Gaine as candidates that have dropped out of consideration.

Chris Polian of the Jaguars and Chris Grier of the Dolphins are thought to remain in the mix for the job along with Eagles assistant director of pro personnel Ed Marynowitz. Whoever takes the job would not have control over roster decisions, as they would be working under Kelly and fulfilling other aspects of the job usually performed by the General Manager.

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Report: 49ers hiring Steve Logan for a job on offensive staff

logan_4x3-300x225

New 49ers coach Jim Tomsula is hiring one of his old NFL Europe co-workers, one who will easily be a better interview.

According to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea, the 49ers are expected to hire Steve Logan for a position on the offensive side of the ball. It’s not known whether it’s as coordinator or a position coach.

Logan was Tomsula’s offensive coordinator with the Rhein Fire in 2006.

Logan has been the head coach at East Carolina, and an offensive coordinator at Boston College. He was a running backs coach for the Buccaneers under Raheem Morris.

The 49ers kept running backs coach Tom Rathman and quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst, and they’re hiring Tony Sparano to coach tight ends, with Chris Foerster coming to coach the offensive line.

That doesn’t leave many chairs for Logan to fill.

He’s been out of coaching since leaving the Bucs after the 2011 season, and works for a radio station in Raleigh, N.C. in his spare time. (I’ve been a guest with him, occasionally talking football, and he’s quite entertaining). So at least Tomsula will have a guy with some media savvy on his staff.

Photo credit: WRAL.com

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Tom Benson: My family never rose to the task of succeeding me as Saints owner

Tom Benson AP

The daughter and grandchildren of Saints owner Tom Benson recently filed a lawsuit in an attempt to get Benson declared incompetent of making decisions regarding the future of the Saints and his other business holdings after Benson changed his succession plans to put his wife Gayle in position to succeed him rather than his other family members.

The lawsuit alleges that Benson doesn’t know the current president of the United States and that Gayle Benson is manipulating her husband into handing over his holdings while feeding him a diet consisting of mainly candy, ice cream, soda and red wine. Benson responded to that lawsuit last week by calling the claims meritless and has now filed a formal response explaining why he decided to make the change.

“For years, Mr Benson attempted to involve each of the Petitioners in various aspects of his business interests and to groom them into the type of business persons that he could have confidence in to own and/or run those business interests when he died,” Benson’s lawyers wrote, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “Unfortunately, the Petitioners never rose to the task. After years of concern and misgivings about Petitioners’ abilities … Mr. Benson made the deliberate, reasoned, and difficult decision to change course and name as his successor his loving wife, Gayle Benson.”

The lawsuit by Benson’s daughter and her children alleges that Benson attempted to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars out of trusts that held them as beneficiaries, a move that was blocked by a trustee but one that certainly won’t be the last bit of maneuvering in what’s shaping up to be an ugly public airing of family grievances.

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Rob Chudzinski’s new deal with the Colts for one year

Rob Chudzinski AP

The Colts were able to keep Rob Cudzinski off the job market with a new title, and likely a nice raise this morning.

But they may only be able to hang onto him for one more year.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Chudzinski’s new deal with the Colts is for one year only.

That gives the team and the former Browns head coach options a year from now.

If coordinator Pep Hamilton gets a head coaching job, the Colts would have an in-house replacement.

If a better coordinator job than the 49ers’ or Rams’ comes up, Chudzinski would likewise have the opportunity to pursue it. Those two were interested in talking to him before the Colts denied permission, which led to the contract extension which was announced today.

Either way, the Colts and Chudzinski will get to do this dance again, a year from now.

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