Skip to content

Justin Forsett: The plan is to return to the Ravens

Divisional Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots Getty Images

Running back Justin Forsett is preparing to play in the Pro Bowl on Sunday night and would rank high on the list of participants that no one would have thought would be in the game if they’d voted at the start of the season.

After leading the league in rushing yards per attempt, though, Forsett was a good choice for the game and the last act of his breakout season will come before he turns his full attention to figuring out where he’ll play next year. Forsett is set to be a free agent and said recently that he’d like to exit the “friend zone” of short stays and have a long-term relationship with a team.

At the Pro Bowl this week, he said his plan is to have the Ravens be that team.

“That is the plan, they gave me my shot, they trusted me and believed in me enough to give me that shot so I’d like to stay,” Forsett said, via NFL.com. “They expressed that they want me back. I want to be back, so we’ll see what happens.”

The Ravens switched offensive coordinators with Gary Kubiak leaving for the Broncos head coaching job, but new coordinator Marc Trestman said he plans to keep the zone blocking scheme that helped spring Forsett in place for 2015. That would seem to help Forsett’s chances of sticking around, although, as always, the money will wind up determining where Forsett hangs his hat.

Permalink 15 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Transcript of Bill Belichick’s January 24 press conference

Belichick AP

[Editor’s note: On Saturday, January 24, Patriots coach Bill Belichick conducted a press conference to provide further information about the ball-inflation investigation the NFL currently is conducting. The full transcript as provided by the team appears below.]

BB: I want to take this opportunity to share some information. I spent a significant amount of time this past week learning as much as I could learn, more than I could ever imagine to tell you the truth, about bladders, air gauges, stitching, pressure, game day football preparation, rubdowns and so forth. [I’m] trying to be as helpful as I can here and share with you what I’ve learned. Having coached for 40 years in the National Football League, played for several years, growing up in a football family, being around this game my entire life, it’s clear that I don’t know very much about this area. Over the last few days I’ve learned a lot more than I ever knew — like, exponentially more.

I feel like this is important because there have been questions raised and I believe now 100 percent that I have personally, and we as an organization, have absolutely followed every rule to the letter. I just feel that on behalf of everyone in the organization, everyone that’s involved in this organization, that we need to say something.

I’ve talked to and gathered a lot of information from members of our staff, I have talked to other people familiar with this subject in other organizations and we have performed an internal study of the process and I think there are certainly other things that I can do and there’s maybe other research that can be done, but I say at this time, I definitely have enough information to share with you. So, based on the events of today, I feel like now’s the time to do it, rather than wait. I know this is kind of an impromptu thing, but that’s just the way it worked out.

First of all, let me start with the process. As Tom [Brady] explained on Thursday, the most important part of the football for the quarterback is the feel of the football. I don’t think there’s any question about that. The exterior feel of the football is not only critical, but it’s also very easily identifiable. When I feel a football, I can feel a difference between slippery and tacky. I can feel the difference between the texture of the football to what degree it is broken in. If you put five footballs out there, which football is broken in the most, which football is broken in the least, that’s easy to identify. That’s the essence of the preparation. We prepare our footballs over time and we use them in practice. That preparation process continues right up until the footballs are given to the officials prior to the game. That’s when they are finalized, if I could use that word. I would say that in that process I’ve handled dozens of footballs over the past week. The texture of the footballs is very easy to identify. The pressure of the footballs is a whole different story. It’s much more difficult to feel or identify. So, the focus of our pregame preparation for the footballs is based on texture and feel. I think Tom went into that extensively on Thursday and he obviously could go through it a lot better than I can because he’s the one that touched them. But that’s the heart of the process.

We simulated a game day situation in terms of the preparation of the football and where the footballs were at various points in time during the day, or night, as the case was Sunday. I would say that our preparation process for the footballs is what we do. I can’t speak for anybody else. It’s what we do. That process, we have found raises the PSI [pounds per square inch] approximately one pound. That process of creating a tackiness, a texture — the right feel, whatever that feel is, it’s just a sensation for the quarterback, what’s the right feel. That process elevates the PSI approximately one pound based on what our study showed, which was multiple footballs, multiple examples in the process, as we would do for a game. It’s not one football.

When the footballs are delivered to the officials locker room, the officials were asked to inflate them to 12.5 PSI. What exactly they did, I don’t know. But for the purposes of our study, that’s what we did. We set them at 12.5. That’s at the discretion of the official, though. Regardless of what we ask for, it’s the official’s discretion to put them where he wants. Again, that’s done in a controlled climate. The footballs are prepared in our locker room, they’re delivered to the officials locker room, which is a controlled environment. Whatever we have here is what we have there. When the footballs go out on to the field into game conditions, whatever those conditions are, whether it’s hot and humid, whether it’s cold and damp, whether it’s cold and dry, whether it’s whatever it is, that’s where the footballs are played with, and that’s where the measurements would be different than what they are, possibly different, than what they are in a controlled environment. That’s what we found.

We found that once the footballs were on the field over an extended period of time, in other words, they were adjusted to the climatic conditions and also the fact that the footballs reached an equilibrium without the rubbing process, that after that had run its course and the footballs had reached an equilibrium, that they were down approximately one-and-a-half pounds per square inch. When we brought the footballs back in after that process and re-tested them in a controlled environment as we have here, then those measurements rose approximately one half pound per square inch. So the net of one and a half, back to a half, is approximately one pound per square inch, to one and a half.

Now, we all know that air pressure is a function of the atmospheric conditions. It’s a function of that. If there’s activity in the football relative to the rubbing process, I think that explains why when we gave them to the officials and the officials put it at, let’s say 12.5, if that’s in fact what they did, that once the football reached its equilibrium state, it probably was closer to 11.5. But again, that’s just our measurements. We can’t speak specifically to what happened because we have no way of touching the footballs other than once the officials have them we don’t touch them except for when we play with them in the game. But it’s similar to the concept of when you get into your car and the light comes on and it says, ‘Low tire pressure,’ because the car has been sitting in the driveway outside overnight and you start it up and you start driving it and the light goes off. It’s a similar concept to that.

The atmospheric conditions, as well as the true equilibrium of the football is critical to the measurement. At no time were any of our footballs prepared anywhere other than in the locker room or in an area very close to that — never in a heated room or heated condition. That has absolutely never taken place to anyone’s knowledge or anyone’s recollection. That just didn’t happen.

When you measure a football, there are a number of different issues that come up. Number one, gauges. There are multiple types of gauges. The accuracy of one gauge relative to another, there’s variance there. We’re talking about air pressure. There’s some variance there. Clearly all footballs are different. So, footballs that come out of a similar pack, a similar box, a similar preparation, each football has its own unique, individual characteristics because it’s not a man-made piece of equipment. It’s an animal skin, it’s a bladder, it’s stitching, it’s laces. Each one has its own unique characteristics. Whatever you do with that football, if you do the same thing with another one, it might be close, but there’s a variance between each individual football.

Footballs do not get measured during the game. We have no way of knowing until we went through this exercise, that this is really taking place. When we hand the footballs to the officials, the officials put them at whatever they put them at, but let’s just say it’s 12.5, that’s where they put them, then the air pressure at that point from then on until the end of the game, we have no knowledge of. Honestly, it’s never been a concern. What is a concern is the texture of the footballs and again, that’s the point that Tom hit on hard on Thursday.

We had our quarterbacks look at a number of footballs. They were unable to differentiate a one-pound per square inch difference in those footballs. They were unable to do it. On a two-pound differential, there was some degree of differentiation, but certainly not a consistent one. A couple ones they could pick out, but they were also wrong on some of the other ones that they had. You’re welcome to do that yourself. I can tell you from all the footballs that I’ve handled over the last week, I can’t tell a difference if there’s a one-pound difference or half a pound difference in any of the footballs.

Again, anyone who has seen us practice knows that we make it harder, not easier, to handle the football. Our players train in conditions that a lot of people would recommend that we not drive in. That’s what they do. They’re a physically and mentally tough team that works hard, that trains hard, that prepares hard and have met every challenge that I put in front of them. And I know that because I work them every day.

This team was the best team in the AFC in the regular season. We won two games in the playoffs against two good football teams. The best team in the postseason, that’s what this team is. I know that because I’ve been with them every day and I’m proud of this team.

I just want to share with you what I’ve learned over the past week. I’m embarrassed to talk about the amount of time that I put into this relative to the other important challenge in front of us. I’m not a scientist. I’m not an expert in footballs; I’m not an expert in football measurements. I’m just telling you what I know. I would not say that I’m Mona Lisa Vito of the football world, as she was in the car expertise area, alright?

At no time was there any intent whatsoever to try to compromise the integrity of the game or to gain an advantage. Quite the opposite, we feel like we followed the rules of the game to the letter in our preparations, in our procedures, alright, and in the way that we handled every game that we competitively played in as it relates to this matter. We try to do everything right. We err on the side of caution. It’s been that way now for many years. Anything that’s close, we stay as far away from the line as we can. In this case, I can say that we are, as far as I know and everything that I can do, we did everything as right as we could do it. We welcome the league’s investigation into this matter. I think there are a number of things that need to be looked into on a number of levels, but that’s not for this conversation. I’m sure it will be taken up at another point in time.

This is the end of this subject for me for a long time, OK? We have a huge game, a huge challenge for our football team and that’s where that focus is going to go. I’ve spent more than enough time on this and I’m happy to share this information with you to try to tell you some of the things that I have learned over the last week, which I’ve learned way more than I ever thought I would learn. The process, the whole thing is much more complex – there are a lot of variables that I was unaware of. It sounds simple, and I’m not trying to say that we’re trying to land a guy on the moon, but there are a lot of things here that are a little hard to get a handle on. Again, there’s a variance in so many of these things, alright? So, I’ll take a couple questions and then I’m moving on.

Q: Did the NFL share with you the pregame documented PSI?

BB: You would have to talk to the NFL about anything they did or didn’t do.

Q: You don’t know if they documented it?

BB: Look, we could sit here and talk about some of this stuff for two hours, alright? If you want to ask the league any questions about what they do or don’t do you should ask the league. I’m just telling you what I’ve learned and the study that we’ve done and the experience that I’ve had over the last few days in looking into this matter. That’s all I can tell you. I’m not a scientist and I’m not a league official.

Q: Do you feel like after the amount of work and research you’ve put into this this week you’ll be exonerated from all this?

BB: I just told you what I think. That’s what I think right there.

Q: Has your game preparation been compromised at all? I know you usually spend this week in game planning.

BB: Well, I’ve spent a lot of the week in game planning — a lot of this week, yeah.

Q: Do you feel like any of it has been compromised?

BB: Look, I told you: I thought this was an important issue and we addressed it, so we did.

Q: It sounds like according to your simulation, it’s a combination of atmospheric or weather conditions and then trusting that the officials did inflate the footballs to 12.5 PSI. Is that correct?

BB: Well, look, you can take the atmospheric conditions out of it because if the footballs are measured in the same atmospheric conditions then it’s a non-factor. But if you measure a football in a controlled condition like this and you measure a football on, let’s say, the night we played Baltimore, there’s no way they’re the same. You take that football and you set it outside and the football becomes accustomed to those climatic conditions and those temperatures, there’s no way it’s the same. Now if you take it out and bring it back in and let it sit for X amount of time, then it probably is the same. So no, that’s not the issue. But depending on where footballs were measured and how they were measured, that’s a whole other discussion. No, the situation is the preparation of the football caused the football to, I would say, be artificially high in PSI when it was set to the regulation, regulated level. And then it reached its equilibrium at some point later on, an hour, two hours into the game into the pregame, whatever it was — and that level was below what was set in this climatic condition. I think that’s exactly what happened. And I think that anybody who wants to do those experiments should go ahead and do them themselves. Don’t take my word for it. But I’m telling you, we’re trying to get an answer to this and that’s what we have.

Q: You said you always try to err on the side of caution and stay on the right side of the rules, but with the videotaping it was clear that you were pushing the envelope on that. Is that something that changed that?

BB: I mean, look, that’s a whole other discussion. The guy’s giving signals out in front of 80,000 people, OK? So we filmed him taking signals out in front of 80,000 people, like there were a lot of other teams doing at that time, too. Forget about that. If we were wrong then we’ve been disciplined for that.

Q: That’s clearly not doing everything you can to stay on the side —

BB: The guy’s in front of 80,000 people. 80,000 people saw it. Everybody [on the] sideline saw it. Everybody sees our guy in front of the 80,000 people. I mean, there he is. So, it was wrong, we were disciplined for it. That’s it. We never did it again. We’re never going to do it again and anything else that’s close, we’re not going to do either.

Q: So is that a change? I’m talking about what you said a few minutes ago about always trying to stay on the right side.

BB: We always do. We always have. I mean, anything that’s even remotely close, we’re on the side of caution.

Q: You talked a lot about science today. Did you have any science people help with your investigation?

BB: We talked to a lot of people.

Q: How much time did you spend on it?

BB: I don’t know; I didn’t log it.

Q: Are you relieved by what you’ve found in your investigation?

BB: I didn’t — look, I came in here Thursday and I told you that I didn’t have any answers. I just — and I’m very confident in the things that we’ve talked about, the study that we did, going through with a fine-tooth comb, everything. I’m 100 percent confident in everything I’ve told you. That’s what I believe. That’s what I know. That’s what it is. I’m as transparent as I can be on this one, period.

Q: Is that a yes that you feel relieved?

BB: Look, I did what I did. No, I’m not using those adjectives. I told you what I did. That’s what it is.

Q: Is there one thing that you did that caused it to raise 1.5 PSI? Did you put it in front of the heater? Did you put it in dryers? Do you know what it was?

BB: No, it was never put in front of a heater. I just said that.

Q: No, I’m talking about whatever you do to get the texture right that causes it to rise.

BB: You rub it. You try to get the texture the way the quarterback wants it.

Q: I’m just trying to establish what it was that made it rise.

BB: I just said that and I said that at no time was the football ever put in any type of heated environment.

Q: So you rub it vigorously?

BB: We rub it to get the football to the proper texture. Yes, it’s — I mean, I don’t know what’s vigorous or what isn’t not vigorous. We’re not polishing fine china here; we’re trying to get a football to the proper texture the quarterback wants it to grip it. Does that stimulate something inside the football to raise the PSI? I would say yes, it does.

Q: Based on all this research, then what do you do differently in the future to err on the side of caution?

BB: Well that’s another — you’re getting into another whole area here. You’re getting into another whole area as it relates to the next game. Yes, that’s exactly right. I couldn’t. That’s exactly why this whole process was done: for that very reason. I don’t know the answer to that question, but that’s a very important question.

Permalink 5 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jets making a couple of hires in personnel department

New York Jets Introduce General Manager Mike Maccagnan and Head Coach Todd Bowles Getty Images

The Jets said goodbye to Rex Ryan at the end of the regular season, but they’ll have another Rex in the organization for the 2015 season.

Albert Breer of NFL Media reports that the team will hire Rex Hogan to be their director of college scouting. Hogan was a national scout for the Bears in recent years and had worked for the organization since 2004 before being let out of his contract to make the move to the Jets.

Breer also reports that the team will be bringing Brian Heimerdinger on board in a “prominent role” in the front office. Heimerdinger has worked for the Rams for the last few years and is the son of the late Mike Heimerdinger, who spent a year as the Jets’ offensive coordinator when Herman Edwards was the team’s head coach.

Heimerdinger broke into the NFL as an intern with the Texans when new Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan worked in Houston. The two hires come after the Jets parted ways with personnel execs Terry Bradway and Jeff Bauer in moves that started the remodeling of the front office under the new boss.

Permalink 9 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Bill Nye says Bill Belichick made no sense

Nye Getty Images

We’ll be posting the entire transcript of Bill Belichick’s Saturday press conference so that anyone interested in reading the whole thing can review it, process it, understand it.  One fairly famous scientist who presumably listened to the entire press conference and/or read the transcript already has issued a verdict.

Bill Nye, a mechanical engineer who worked at Boeing before becoming TV’s “Bill Nye The Science Guy,” appeared on Sunday’s Good Morning America to say Belichick’s explanation “doesn’t make any sense.”

Another group based in Pittsburgh that includes brainiacs from Carnegie Mellon (somehow, I was admitted there and graduated with a degree a metallurgical engineering and materials sciences and a degree in engineering and public policy) claims that the conditions of the AFC title game would have caused a significant drop in air pressure.

“We took 12 brand new authentic NFL footballs and exposed them to the different elements they would have experienced throughout the game.” said Thomas Healy, founder of HeadSmart Labs and a masters student in mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon.  “Out of the twelve footballs we tested, we found that on average, footballs dropped 1.8 PSI when being exposed to dropping temperatures and wet conditions.”

As explained by the group that conducted the simulation:  “During testing, twelve brand new footballs were inflated to 12.5 PSI in a 75 degree Fahrenheit room.  This was to imitate the indoor conditions where the referees would have tested the footballs 2 hours and 15 minutes before kickoff.  The footballs were then moved to a 50 degree Fahrenheit environment to simulate the temperatures that were experienced throughout the game.  In addition, the footballs were dampened to replicate the rainy conditions.”

It’s unclear whether the footballs were placed in a wet, 50-degree environment immediately after testing for a full 135 minutes before kickoff or whether they waited until just before kickoff to move the footballs to the simulated game conditions.  It’s also unclear whether the various balls were exposed to the same external forces to which a dozen footballs used by an NFL offense would be exposed when rotated through the first half of a game.  It’s also unclear whether re-testing of the footballs was done following the precise duration of the first half of the Colts-Patriots game.

Precision is critical for any scientific experiment.  For example, the official kickoff temperature in Foxboro on Sunday was 51 degrees, not 50.  To fully simulate the conditions, the test should have occurred at 51 degrees.  Also, room temperature typically is 72 degrees, not 75.  That results in a four-degree variance, which surely had an impact on the ultimate findings, since pressure and temperature are directly related.

Overlooked by the CMU folks (and Belichick, and others) was the reported ability of the Colts’ footballs to remain within the accepted range of 12.5 to 13.5 PSI after the same duration of exposure to the same elements and conditions.  If, on average, the footballs tested at a starting PSI lost 1.8 pounds on average (i.e., 14.4 percent of their air pressure), footballs pumped even to the maximum of 13.5 PSI would have lost 1.94 PSI on average, taking them to 11.56, nearly a full bound below the minimum limit.

Look for more scientists in the coming days to emerge from their labs with more experiments and more explanations.  Ultimately, the NFL will need to offer a convincing explanation for whatever it was that caused the NFL to hire the guy who performed the Dolphins bullying investigation to get to the bottom of why the Patriots footballs were not within the required specifications.

Permalink 325 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Hue Jackson thought he was “right fit” for Bills head coach

Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has a year of head coaching experience with the Raiders and got a chance to interview for another shot at a top job in Buffalo this year.

The Bills opted to hire Rex Ryan instead of Jackson, but Jackson left his interview feeling like he was a good fit for what the Bills were looking for in a successor to Doug Marrone.

“I thought it was the right fit, the right situation. I had a good working knowledge of what they are trying to do, but, hey, it didn’t work out,” Jackson said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Everybody has aspirations, but it’s still got to be the right fit. It’s got to be the right situation. Every head coaching job in the National Football League might not be for me and I might not be for everybody. I think when it’s time it will happen. Until then, I have a really good offensive football team here that, if we can get some luck and stay healthy, we can be one of the better offenses.”

Making that happen will take a decrease in turnovers and a better passing attack, both of which have a lot to do with quarterback Andy Dalton showing improvement over his 2014 efforts. Should Jackson pull that off, his chances of returning to a head coaching role should get a big boost.

Permalink 29 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Arizona braces for onslaught of Seahawks fans

Lynch Getty Images

No team has ever played in a Super Bowl hosted in its own stadium.  This season, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians repeatedly cajoled his players to ensure that no other team would be using their facility or dressing in their locker room for the championship game.

Not only did they fail to make it, but a division rival did.  Which means that the locally-despised Seahawks and their fans will be descending on the Phoenix area, hoping to become the first team in a decade to win back-to-back Lombardi Trophies.

Jack Broom of the Seattle Times recently explored the dynamic that has Arizonans torn between being good hosts and welcoming the enemy.  Four years ago in Dallas, there was a local sense of apathy because the Cowboys weren’t playing in the game.  In the Phoenix area, any apathy will be replaced by a passionate desire to see the Seahawks lose.

Three years ago, the thrilled-to-be-hosting-the-game citizens of Indianapolis endured a visit from one of the Colts’ interdivisional rivals, and ultimately got to witness the kid brother of their beloved quarterback take down the Patriots.  As rivalries go, however, this one is closer to the Rams playing in New Orleans in Super Bowl XXXVI, when the Patriots upset The Greatest Show on Turf to cap the final season in which the Saints and Rams played twice per year as members of the NFC West.  Or the Buccaneers and Raiders the following year, when San Diegoans got to see their enemies from Oakland obliterated by the Bucs.

The Cardinals-Seahawks rivalry is fairly new.  It’s the first time since Seattle and Arizona both joined the reconfigured NFC West in 2002 that the teams have been competitive at the same time.  But the intensity quickly has migrated toward Bears-Packers, Ravens-Steelers, and Cowboys-Rest-of-NFC-East proportions.

In seven days, it’s safe to say that many Cardinals fans will be pulling for the Patriots and hoping to witness the highest level of schadenfreude football can offer.  No one remembers the teams that don’t get to the Super Bowl; everyone remembers the team who loses it.

Permalink 70 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Texans hire Paul Pasqualoni as defensive line coach

Paul Pasqualoni AP

The Texans lost a veteran assistant coach last week when defensive line coach Bill Kollar took a job with the Broncos.

They’ll replace him with another seasoned coach. John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports that Paul Pasqualoni will join Bill O’Brien’s staff as Kollar’s replacement.

Pasqualoni coached the Bears defensive linemen in 2014 and was the head coach at the University of Connecticut from 2011 to his midseason firing in 2013. Pasqualoni has also coached with the Dolphins and Cowboys and is best-known for his 14-year run as the head coach at Syracuse. Pasqualoni was 107-59-1 in that job.

He’ll have the benefit of working with defensive end J.J. Watt in his new job, although Pasqualoni and the rest of the team’s defensive coaching staff should find plenty to do with the non-MVP candidates that make up the rest of the unit.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Brian Hoyer open to Browns return if he can compete for starting job

Connor Shaw, Austen Lane AP

When the Browns benched Brian Hoyer in favor of Johnny Manziel late in the regular season, it seemed as if they would be moving on from Hoyer when he became a free agent.

Manziel fizzled, though, and there’s nothing close to certainty that he’ll be the starter when the Browns take the field to start the 2015 season. As a result, Hoyer’s not closing the door on a return to the team. His agent Joe Linta said that he’s heard interest, but no numbers, from the Browns in a return and indicated his client has no hard feelings about how things played out in 2014. Linta also outlined the scenario that would keep Cleveland as an option for Hoyer.

“I think the only thing that would make him not [want to] come back is if they said Manziel or whoever we take in the draft or whoever we sign in free agency is going to be the starter and you will only be the backup,” Linta said, via the Akron Beacon Journal. “I think that would probably drive him away a little bit. If [coach Mike] Pettine said, ‘Hey, it’s going to be an open competition again between you and Johnny,’ great, let’s go. … [Hoyer] wants to play. The kid wants to have an opportunity to compete and play.”

Linta said Hoyer anticipates meeting with Pettine and others from the team soon to discuss their plans and that negotiations would pick up at next month’s scouting combine if everyone is on the same page.

Permalink 52 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Lane Kiffin staying at Alabama

SEC Championship - Alabama v Missouri Getty Images

If the 49ers were hoping to land Lane Kiffin as their offensive coordinator, they’ll need to look in a different direction.

Kiffin announced Saturday that he’ll return for a second season running the offense at the University of Alabama. There were reports earlier this month that Kiffin was a “front-runner” for the same job on Jim Tomsula’s staff, but he’s decided to keep on rolling with Nick Saban after leading the Crimson Tide to a school record for total offense.

“I made a comment at the Sugar Bowl that I would be back this fall at Alabama and that is definitely the plan. This time of year, there are lots of things out there regarding other coaching opportunities, but I want to reaffirm my commitment to the University of Alabama, Coach Saban, and our team,” Kiffin said in a statement. “I’m excited about what our offensive staff was able to accomplish last year, but I also think there are a lot of things we can do a better job of in terms of putting our players in the best situation to have success.”

Colts assistant Rob Chudzinski is also thought to be a candidate for the job. The Colts blocked him from interviewing, but Chudzinski’s contract is coming to an end so he’ll be free to talk to the 49ers as long as they don’t hire someone else.

Permalink 8 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Packers’ Sam Shields admits he thinks Dez Bryant made the catch

samshields AP

Packers cornerback Sam Shields was covering Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant on his infamous overruled catch when their teams met in the playoffs. At the time, Shields said the ref made a good call in reversing the catch. Now Shields admits that’s not how he saw it.

Shields told ESPN that he believes Bryant did catch the ball, and he is surprised the Packers won their challenge of the play.

It was a catch,” Shields said, “But the new rule and at the last minute what happened, that’s what the refs came up with. I never said he didn’t catch it. He made a helluva catch I was in great coverage. Like I said, it was good on good and he came up with the catch.”

Shields seems surprised that Bryant reaching for the goal line didn’t constitute a “football move” that would make it a catch.

“I did look back and I seen him reaching and I guess that’s when he didn’t control the ball as he was doing that,” Shields said.

What Shields doesn’t seem to realize is that the NFL rules say that when a player makes a catch as he’s going to the ground, he must maintain control, and Bryant didn’t. Under NFL rules, it wasn’t a catch. But the fact that even Shields thinks it was a catch shows just how convoluted the NFL’s rules are.

Permalink 116 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Bill Belichick on sideline videotaping: “We never did it again”

Bill Belichick AP

After a more than 2,000-word opening statement in his Saturday press conference detailing how the club’s footballs might have become under-inflated in the AFC title game vs. Indianapolis, Patriots coach Bill Belichick opened the floor for a question-and-answer session.

Seven questions in, a sore subject for the Patriots was broached: the 2007 videotaping scandal that cost the club a first-round pick and $250,000 in fines, plus another $500,000 docked from Belichick.

According to the press conference transcript from the Patriots, here’s what Belichick was asked:

“You said you always try to err on the side of caution and stay on the right side of the rules, but with the videotaping it was clear that you were pushing the envelope on that. Is that something that changed that?”

Here was Belichick’s response, per the Patriots:

“I mean, look, that’s a whole other discussion,” Belichick said of the Patriots’ taping of the Jets’ signals from the sidelines. “The guy’s giving signals out in front of 80,000 people, OK?

“So we filmed him taking signals out in front of 80,000 people, like there were a lot of other teams doing at that time, too. Forget about that. If we were wrong then we’ve been disciplined for that.”

Before a follow-up question could be completed, Belichick continued:

“The guy’s in front of 80,000 people. 80,000 people saw it. Everybody [on the] sideline saw it. Everybody sees our guy in front of the 80,000 people. I mean, there he is.

“So, it was wrong, we were disciplined for it. That’s it. We never did it again. We’re never going to do it again and anything else that’s close, we’re not going to do either.”

It’s possible Belichick could again be asked about “Spygate” at the Super Bowl, especially after indicating Saturday that “there were a lot of other teams” filming signals around 2007, too. However, it doesn’t seem likely Belichick would be very expansive about this topic next week. To borrow a phrase from Jerry Reinsdorf, this might be our only bite of the apple on “Spygate.”

Then again, who saw Saturday’s press conference coming?

Permalink 60 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Belichick’s explanation on inflation raises new questions

Belichick AP

Saturday’s unexpected press conference from Patriots coach Bill Belchick seemed like an effort to put the issue behind the team as the trip to Phoenix and Super Bowl XLIX awaits.  But Belichick’s words, which deftly loaded up the media with information on the subject at a time when the NFL is providing very little, raise several key questions.

Most significantly, Belichick’s Thursday and Saturday press conferences starkly differ on one key question:  Who inflates the footballs?

“Obviously with our footballs being inflated to the 12.5-pound range, any deflation would then take us under that specification limit,” Belichick said Thursday.  “Knowing that now, in the future we will certainly inflate the footballs above that low level to account for any possible change during the game.”  (Emphasis added.)

On Saturday, Belichick said that the Patriots have no control over the actual inflation, indicating that the officials — not the team — inflate the footballs.

“When the footballs are delivered to the officials’ locker room, the officials were asked to inflate them to 12.5 PSI,” Belichick said. “What exactly they did, I don’t know.  But for the purposes of our study, that’s what we did.  We set them at 12.5.  That’s at the discretion of the official, though. Regardless of what we ask for, it’s the official’s discretion to put them where he wants.”  (Emphasis added.)

So who inflates the footballs?  Thursday’s “I have no explanation” Bill Belichick made clear it’s the team that was putting the minimum required amount of 12.5 PSI into the balls before the game, and that any naturally-occurring deflation was necessarily taking the footballs under the low end of the one-pound acceptable range from 12.5 to 13.5 PSI.  Saturday’s “I have an extensive explanation” Bill Belichick said the Patriots simply ask the officials to inflate the footballs to 12.5 PSI, but that it’s ultimately the “official’s discretion” as to how much air will be put in the footballs.  (And, in turn, the official’s fault if the balls weren’t properly inflated.)

It’s a stunning contrast, one that calls for further explanation from Belichick.  This should be the first question he’s asked at his first press conference in Arizona, and the assembled media should decline to accept a response along the lines of, “I’ve said all I’m going to say about that.”

Another topic on which Belichick may need to say more than he has said is the interaction between inflation of the balls to 12.5 PSI and any “rubbing” that results in the balls reaching an “equilibrium state” of 11.5 PSI.  The key question is whether anyone in the organization — specifically mysterious football savant Ernie Adams — knew that any type of rubbing would result in the ball reaching an “equilibrium state” that brought it one full PSI below the minimum.  Beyond that, atmospheric conditions would drop the ball even farther below the minimum.

Other curious statements were made by Belichick on Saturday.  For example:  “We can’t speak specifically to what happened because we have no way of touching the footballs other than once the officials have them we don’t touch them except for when we play with them in the game.”  That’s just not accurate; ball attendants employed by the Patriots have possession of the 12 game balls and the 12 backup balls until they’re used during the game.

“I believe now 100 percent that I have personally, and we as an organization, have absolutely followed every rule to the letter,” Belichick said early in the Saturday press conference.  But there’s a potential difference between following rules to the letter and respecting their spirit.  As Ravens defensive lineman Chris Canty said earlier in the week on NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk, the Patriots are “habitual line-steppers.”  In an effort to gave every possible advantage, they possibly look for ways to push the envelope, retreating to plausible deniability whenever complaints are made or investigations are launched.

It would be naive to assume that the procedures used by the Patriots when it comes to inflating and handling footballs was accidental or coincidental, even if Belichick truly had no knowledge or involvement in that aspect of game preparations.  The ultra-competitive nature of the sport coupled with the uncanny ability of Belichick and those he employs to seize upon every opportunity to gain an edge suggests that they discovered a way to produce footballs that passed the pregame inspection at the low end of the permitted PSI and that then dropped well below the minimum, furthering the stated preferences of the guy charged with the task of throwing the footballs.

Permalink 258 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

North rolls to 34-13 victory in Senior Bowl

Ameer Abdullah AP

Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah garnered Most Outstanding Player honors as the North pulled away to a 34-13 victory in Saturday’s Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.

One of the more well-regarded backs in the Class of 2015, Abdullah (5-8, 198) gained 73 yards rushing on just seven carries and added four receptions on 40 yards for the North, which was led by the Titans’ coaching staff.

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty (North) paced all passers with 123 yards on 9-of-13 attempts, though he was picked once. Oregon State’s Sean Mannion added 79 yards on 9-of-13 passes for the North, including a touchdown pass to Notre Dame tight end Ben Koyack.

Yale running back Tyler Varga scored a pair of fourth-quarter rushing touchdowns for the North, which outscored the South 24-6 after halftime. Minnesota running back David Cobb (11 carries, 69 yards) added the North’s other TD.

Northern Iowa running back David Johnson tallied the South’s lone touchdown, a 19-yard first-quarter score. Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson led the South with 118 yards passing on 8-of-15 attempts.

The Jaguars coached the South team. Jacksonville selects third in the upcoming draft, with Tennessee picking second.

Permalink 16 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Oddsmaker: Super Bowl line won’t reach a field goal

Las Vegas Strip Exteriors Getty Images

The defending-champion Seahawks remain one-point underdogs to New England at the majority of Nevada sports books.

And the price has even inched up a little at one notable book.

As Micah Roberts of “The Linemakers” of Sporting News notes, Wynn Las Vegas moved Seattle to a 1.5-point underdog on Saturday, becoming the first Nevada sports book to go that high.

However, Wynn oddsmaker John Avello told Roberts that “we’re not seeing anyone rush to the windows” to back Seattle, even at the higher price.

Avello, for his part, told “The Linemakers” he suspects “those looking to bet large” on the Seahawks are hoping the line hits a field goal, but the veteran Las Vegas oddsmaker doesn’t believe that will happen.

“I could see 2 or maybe even 2.5, but not 3,” Avello said, according to “The Linemakers.”

The Seahawks opened as slight favorites on Sunday night, but Patriots money drove the line toward New England, which is now favored at numerous hotels on the Las Vegas Strip, including the MGM and Caesars properties.

Permalink 48 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Saints reach deal with CFL CB Delvin Breaux

Division Finals - Montreal Alouettes v Hamilton Tiger-Cats Getty Images

The Saints are signing a CFL star with Louisiana ties.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, New Orleans has reached a deal with ex-Hamilton Tiger-Cats cornerback Delvin Breaux.

In his second season with Hamilton, the 25-year-old Breaux (6-1, 196) was voted to the CFL’s 2014 All-Star squad.

A serious neck injury prevented Breaux, a one-time LSU signee, from playing college football, but he caught on with the Arena Football League’s New Orleans VooDoo in 2012 before joining Hamilton.

Breaux had workouts with 13 NFL clubs, ESPN reported.

The Ticats released Breaux on Saturday, which presumably allows him to join New Orleans.

Permalink 14 Comments Feed for comments Back to top