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Tag:Bill Belichick
Posted on: August 17, 2011 4:24 pm
 

Roundtable: Which rookie QB will help the most?

C. Newton could be one of the breakout rookie QBs this year (Getty).

Posted by Eye on Football staff

Well, we're a week into the preseason and that means we know everything about everyone. Or nothing at all. Whatever, we got our first glimpses of the NFL's newest rookie quarterbacks and that leads us to the question: What rookie quarterback will help his team the most?

Will Brinson: Go ahead and cue up about 15 "Panthers homer" comments in the next few paragraphs, but I don't care: Cam Newton. The guy's a freak-a-deak athlete with a firehose attached to his right shoulder and he's going to get a chance to produce. Unfortunately, that firehose thing can also be bad if Newton can't control his accuracy. And it's possible that Jimmy Clausen -- who looked better than terrible after he threw a pick six on his second passing attempt -- could be the safer option for Carolina. But Newton gets the fanbase amped and he's already shown exponential growth since we last saw him throwing passes. Putting him in the proverbial fire's the way to go and he'll be a difference maker for Carolina in both the stands and the field.

Josh Katzowitz: Will, I couldn't agree with you more. I don't know if Newton will help his team that much more on the field than Clausen would have -- I'm willing to bet heavily on the odds that there are going to be games when Newton is ABSOLUTELY terrible and people are going to be saying, "Yeah, buddy, the NFL is a little different than the limited offense you ran at Auburn, eh?" (these people, of course, will be Canadians who care way too much about SEC football) -- but as far as starpower is concerned, Newton is the one. I don't care if he privately looks at himself as an entertainer and an icon. He's got that huge smile and he's got that charisma, and eventually, the stink of whatever NCAA rules his dad might have violated will wash away.

That said, I don't think he's going to contend for any rookie of the year honors, because as the season goes along, defenses are going to begin to figure out Newton. Actually, I think the real answer to your question about which rookie will help his team the most will end up being Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco, assuming he stays healthy behind that poor offensive line. Alex Smith will continue to be Alex Smith, and midway through the season, Jim Harbaugh will call upon Kaepernick to replace Smith and win a few games for the 49ers. And I think he'll do it, especially in the NFC West, hastening Smith's departure (which, when you think about it, might be the single biggest reason how Kaepernick impacts the team). Newton will help his franchise the most, but Kaepernick will help his team the most.

Ryan Wilson
: We talked about it (at length, I might add) and Newton was impressive. I know, it's just one preseason game, but the guy's come a long way since February, the Auburn scandal, and the silly comments about being an entertainer and an icon.

And let's be honest, he's energized fans that had every reason to lose all hope and commit their energies to supporting NASCAR full time. That can't be understated. Winning is obviously the goal, but Panthers fans will find reasons for optimism if the Panthers can win five or six games. So in terms of therapeutic value for a downtrodden fan base, Newton is this season's most valuable QB.

A. Dalton could be the starting QB in Cincinnati (Getty). But if we're talking about a QB who has a chance to play and help his team win enough games to battle for a playoff spot, I'm going with Christian Ponder. Partly because Myron Rolle thinks he's a genius, but also because Donovan McNabb has become a punchline in recent years. How long until he's yanked in favor of Ponder? Four weeks? Remember: this is the guy who not only lost his job to Rex Grossman last season, he was eventually demoted to third string behind John Beck, he of four career starts, all losses, all coming in 2007.

Brinson: Well, we're one full turn around the table and the only person we haven't talked about is the only guy who's virtually guaranteed to start Week 1: Andy Dalton.

So, um, yeaaaaaaah.

What does that say about the Bengals? (And why do I have the feeling Josh will try to defend them?) I guess it says either that "We don't respect Andy Dalton," "We forgot about Andy Dalton," or "Even if Andy Dalton was Peyton Manning, he wouldn't be saving the Bengals from certain doom in 2011."

Perhaps it's all three?

Wilson: I didn't mention Andy Dalton for the same reason I don't think about paying my mortgage every day: if I ignore it, it don't exist. It's a coping mechanism. In Dalton's case, it means I'm not constantly reminded of what the 2011 season inevitably holds for him: pain, misery, disappointment -- all words that have become synonymous with the Bengals in recent years.

(Just look what the madness did to even-keeled Carson Palmer -- it drove him right into retirement in what should be the prime of his career. Think about that for a minute. Things were so god-awful in Cincinnati that Palmer would rather sit around the house doing crosswords than get caught up in tiger-striped maelstrom for another season.)

While we shouldn't put too much stock in first-ever preseason performances, Dalton's got his introduction to big-boy football from, fittingly, Ndamukong Suh. And I feel that was just a preview of things to come in 2011 (for both Dalton and Suh). So, yeah, it's pretty easy to be down on Dalton, more because he's a victim of circumstance. Which is why I don't want to think about it.

Brinson: Thanks for the reminder on the mortgage payment, jerk. Speaking of which, if there's one thing that the Panthers, 49ers, Titans, Vikings, Jaguars and Bengals have in common it's that they mortgaged their future on the talents of the 2011 NFL Draft class. With that in mind, let's wrap up this puppy up by making a list -- how do you gents rank the rookies in terms of impact on the 2011 season? Here's mine. Don't copy it.

1. Cam Newton
2. Blaine Gabbert
3. Andy Dalton
4. Christian Ponder
5. Jake Locker
6. Colin Kaepernick
7. Ryan Mallet
8. Terrelle Pryor

PonderWilson: No matter the list -- or the topic -- one thing is assured: Brinson will put Cam Newton at the top of it. Panthers fan solidarity and whatnot.

Back on Earth...

1. Christian Ponder (He'll be starting before the end of Sept.)
2. Colin Kaepernick (See above)
3. Blaine Gabbert (He'll be starting before Halloween)
4. Cam Newton (The next Jimmy Clausen? JOKE. Clearly, he's the next Chris Weinke.)
5. Andy Dalton (Must've been a serial killer in a previous life to get stuck with this fate.)
6. Jake Locker (Should only play if Hasselbeck gets injured.)
7. Ryan Mallett (Bill Belichick is a genius. That is all.)
8. Terrelle Pryor (But he's a first-round pick!)

Katzowitz: Just in case, Will needs a reminder: Here's my takedown of Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis in that ridiculous news conference they called to announce that Lewis would return for another season, and here's what I wrote about the Bengals' lack of a practice bubble. I lived in Cincinnati for six years, but believe me when I say that I think the Bengals are an incompetent mess (though, personally, I think Mike Brown is a nice man).

My list (the correct one):

1. Colin Kaepernick (If Mike Singletary thought about replacing Alex Smith with David Carr (!) last season, Jim Harbaugh shouldn't have a problem replacing Smith with Kaepernick)
2. Christian Ponder (Because he's better than Rex Grossman, and since Grossman is better than Donovan McNabb ...)
3. Cam Newton (How disturbing would it be if Clausen actually won the starting job?)
4. Andy Dalton (He still has Cedric Benson to lean on)
5. Blaine Gabbert (I'm not sure he can beat out David Garrard, and I'm not sure Garrard will be bad enough this year to warrant starting Gabbert)
6. Jake Locker (Locker will get tons of help from Hasselbeck)
7. Ryan Mallett (He won't even beat out Brian Hoyer to be Brady's backup)
8. Terrelle Pryor (I don't know, maybe, he could be an effective NFL TE?)

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Posted on: August 17, 2011 8:48 am
 

Belichick: NFL wants to squash kickoffs

BelichickPosted by Josh Katzowitz

With the new NFL rules stating that kickoffs are to be taken from the 35-yard line instead of the 30 -- though the Bears didn’t feel they needed to follow that rule, since apparently they wanted to work on their kickoff coverage -- it seems pretty clear the NFL wants to reduce the number of returns that can be taken.

In fact, as we wrote last March, the reason the rules competition committee wanted to make the change in the first place was because of safety concerns. But according to Patriots coach Bill Belichick, the league has an ulterior motive for making the change to kickoff placement.

The NFL wants to eliminate kickoffs entirely.

During a session with the media Tuesday, one questioner, according to CSN’s Tom E. Curran, began a query this way: “If the intention of the NFL is eliminate kickoffs …” Belichick quickly interrupted.

"That's what they told us," Belichick said. "I'm not speaking for anyone else. That's what they told us, that they want to eliminate the play."

Which would fundamentally change the game in a way that is not completely impossible to fathom but which critics could claim also turns the NFL into more of a flag football league. Even if that supposed philosophy never comes to pass, Belichick talked about the current system, in which teams might build rosters differently if kickoff returners won’t make as much of an impact.

"If, instead of covering 60 kickoffs in a year you think you're only going to be covering 30, then is that coverage player as important, or -- on the flip side of it -- is the return game?" Belichick asked (presumably in the rhetorical sort of way). "If you're going to be returning 30 instead of 60, are the guys who block on the kickoff return (as important)?  If you think you're going to be returning more punts than kickoffs (there's a decision to weigh). Usually you're going to be returning more kickoffs than punts but if you think you'll be returning more punts than kickoffs, then maybe you put more of a priority on your punt returner than your kickoff returner."

To be fair, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello had this to say to CSN regarding Belichick’s claim that the league wants to squash kickoffs: "(Chairman of the Competition Committee) Rich McKay and (NFL Vice President) Ray Anderson say that’s not accurate. They said the Competition Committee’s position was that they wanted to 'shorten the field' and that the movement of the kickoff line would potentially reduce the number of kickoffs to be returned. They said they are unaware of anyone saying that it was intended to 'eliminate' the kickoff return."

But if that was the case and the NFL really does want to eliminate kickofs, you can bet teams like the Bears (because of KR Devin Hester), Browns (because of Josh Cribbs) and the Seahawks (because of Leon Washington) who are already not pleased with the new rules will be really, really unhappy.

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Posted on: August 14, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 1:02 pm
 

'One or both' of Ocho, Haynesworth to get cut?

Posted by Will Brinson

Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco are now Patriots. This is because, we're all told and we all believe, Bill Belichick is a genius, capable of controlling anyone that enters his locker room and turning a malcontent into a productive player.

But Dan Pompei, writing at the National Football Post, says the Patriots may have other ideas, and that he was told last week that "one or both" of the dynamic duo could be cut before the season begins.

"One NFL executive familiar with the Patriots ways told me he believes one or both of the big name acquisitions will be cut before the season starts," Pompei writes. "The front office man thinks coach Bill Belichick will use the controversial players to help control and send a message to his locker room."

That either could be cut isn't that shocking -- as we've previously noted, both Haynesworth and Ochocinco restructured their deals. Haynesworth is owed almost zero (!) dollars for 2011 if he's cut, and Ocho will make just $2.5 million.

Both players have their deals set up so that the money would spike in 2012 and 2013 ... if they stay around.

So will they? Well, maybe not. After all, the reason both Ocho and Big Al were such "smart additions" is that they're cheap, talented options who can still produce if they manage to fall in line.

Patriots Preseason

For my money, Haynesworth seems the more likely fella to get cut. Belichick has always been enamored of Ochocinco, who actually fits what the Patriots need offensively.

That being said, this could all be another grand scheme orchestrated by Belichick to motivate his newly acquired, low-paid, big-name veterans. (Though that's not likely; but it would be amusing.) Or it could, as Pompei was told, be designed to motivate the rest of the team.

But what it really boils down to is whether or not Belichick believes that Haynesworth and Ocho can contribute to helping this team win a Super Bowl in 2011 -- as our own Pete Prisco writes, the "real message" sent by cutting either/or of the new additions is that they can't help achieve that goal.

The money they could and should get in 2012 and 2013 is irrelevant right now, as it's certainly not guaranteed to be there at the end of the year.

And, for all we know, it might be off the table by the end of the preseason.

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Posted on: August 11, 2011 12:04 am
 

Haynesworth, Ochocinco restructure their deals

A. Haynesworth and C. Ochocinco restructured their contracts with New England (AP).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Aside from the big news that Patriots G Logan Mankins signed a six-year deal with his team, there was other important contract reports emanating out of New England on Wednesday.

Namely, that potentially high-impact (but certainly high-ego) players restructured their contracts in order to help the team save some cap money.

That’s the word from ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss, who writes that DL Albert Haynesworth and WR Chad Ochocinco signed news contract that will pay them less this year and more in 2012 and 2013.

For Haynesworth, he’ll make $1.5 million this season with no guaranteed money, and as Reiss explains, that means the Patriots could cut Haynesworth tomorrow and owe him virtually nothing (this almost assuredly leaves Redskins coach Mike Shanahan gnashing his teeth in frustration). New England will pay him a base salary of $6.7 million (with another $500,000 in bonuses) for 2012.

In Ochocinco’s case, the team will pay him $2.5 million this season (that’s a base salary, plus a roster bonus), and if he sticks around, the Patriots would pay him a combined $9 million for 2012-13. But the $2.5 million is a cheap price to pay for a man who potentially still has elite skill in his legs and hands but also might be getting old.

And as Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole points out, considering Haynesworth was originally supposed to make a base salary of $7 million and that he still can make significant money with incentives, the Patriots have the best of both worlds.

In order for him to get paid, Haynesworth has to play and play well. As we all know, that simply wasn’t the case in Washington, where he was going to get paid tons of money no matter how much -- or how well -- he played. Not surprisingly, you can say this: advantage Bill Belichick.

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Posted on: August 10, 2011 5:39 pm
 

Report: Mankins signs long-term deal with Pats

MankinsPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Last season, Patriots G Logan Mankins was one of the unhappiest men in the Patriots organization (probably even more unhappy than Bill Belichick whenever he has to meet with the media). Mankins believed he deserved a long-term contract extension, and he believed that New England owner Robert Kraft had intimated that he’d get one.

Just not last year, which angered Mankins so much that he refused to sign his tender of $3.26 million and then blasted the organization. He returned to the team midway through the season and played well in the second half of the year.

All of that acrimony, though, is over, as ESPN reports that Mankins and the Patriots have agreed to a six-year contract extension.

The first good sign that this year would not be a repeat of last season occurred when Mankins signed his $10.73 million tender and dropped his request for a $10 million settlement after serving as a plaintiff in the Brady v NFL case.

The new six-year deal, then, serves three purposes. It keeps one of the best guards in the NFL in New England through 2016. It keeps him happy. And it reduces his hit against the Patriots cap number for 2011, which would have been about $10 million.

Of course, today’s news shouldn’t be a surprise.

After all, Kraft had this to say Wednesday when meeting with the media: “If I have a vote, it will get done. But the other side has to want it, too. But it’s our desire and has always been our desire. But like I tried to explain to you, you can’t sign everyone you want, so you need to plan and I think we did our planning knowing the kind of environment we were coming into. We tried to position ourselves so we had our core veterans and we could continue to sign the people we want to sign. We very much think that Logan is among the best there is at his position. We drafted him and we want him here.”

And now he’s got him.

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Posted on: August 4, 2011 11:32 pm
 

Jets coach Rex Ryan gets a tattoo



Posted by Ryan Wilson

Okay, we admit it: of all the news coming out of training camp -- particularly given that the new collective bargaining agreement has finally been ratified -- this ranks somewhere behind the never-ending speculation that Brett Favre will un-retire yet again.

With that out of the way, here goes: have you seen Rex Ryan's new tattoo?

We're not talking about some strategically placed ink hidden behind a shirt sleeve or a sock or -- god forbid -- a thong. Nope, this masterpiece takes up his right leg from knee to ankle.

Sordid details via the Newark Star-Ledger:
Rex Ryan debuted his leg tattoo Monday at Jets training camp. He trudged the practice fields at the Jets training facility in Florham Park as photographers snapped shots of the black ink flowing up his fibula from his ankle bone.

The Jets advertised a contest asking fans to decipher the tattoo's meaning, a brain-burner of a request considering it is difficult to ascertain what the design is exactly.
We'll be honest, our mind went directly to Tina Fey's prayer for her young daughter when we read that the Jets wanted someone to make sense of Ryan's new leg art.

To quote Liz Lemon: "First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie the Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches."

Well, at least Rex didn't go for Winnie the Pooh.

And while Ryan's leg isn't permanently marked up with Chinese characters, the loose translation is pretty close to "truth." According to the New York Post, "believe in yourself" is the meaning of the tribal-style tat.

"You know what's funny? I hear the mid-life crisis and all that type of stuff. It's mid-life, all right," Ryan, 48, said during his Tuesday press conference. Ryan then confirmed with Jets media relations director Bruce Speight that "it's mid-life hieroglyphics" before going into greater detail.

"You see," Ryan said, pointing down to his leg, "you've got the mountains, you've got the waves and the shark tooth down there. You've got it all working."

Bill Belichick must lose sleep knowing that this is the guy who's beaten him three times in five tries since 2009.

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Posted on: August 2, 2011 8:11 pm
 

Rex Ryan challenges rest of league to beat Pats



Posted by Ryan Wilson

It's officially football season but it doesn't quite feel like it until Jets head coach Rex Ryan says something for the sole purpose of getting a rise out of people. (Also acceptable: proclaiming that it's snack time. Requisite naughty language alert on the video evidence.)

Well, now it feels like football season because -- you guessed it -- Ryan had some thoughts on AFC East rival New England. Relatively speaking, the comments were innocuous enough (not even Rodney Harrison would be able to twist Ryan's words into motivational fodder … we think), but media and fans have a knack for blowing things out of proportion. We suspect this will be no different.

When asked by reporters Monday if the Jets are the favorite to win the division, Ryan spoke frankly.

"In my mind. I don’t know about everybody else’s. The first year I got in we were supposed to win six games or five games or four games. I don’t know what the experts say, I just know what I believe in my heart and that’s that this is going to be our year. Again, I think we have to find somebody out there to beat New England besides us, and I think that would help. Anybody out there that wants to sign up for it? Are you good enough as a team to beat the New England Patriots. Forget about us, are you good enough to go out and beat the New England Patriots? I’m challenging the league."

Like we said, hardly inflammatory stuff. But Boston's WEEI labeled it an "ultimatum," and the Boston Herald called it a "new approach to tweaking the Patriots."

But fret not. Ryan did have some (sorta) laudatory words for new Pats' receiver Chad Ochocinco.

"I’ve always said this, when it was Chad Johnson, we could never stop him, but when it was Chad Ochocinco, I’ve been more successful. So I hope he doesn’t change his name back. I have a great deal of respect for him. He’s a tremendous player. I mean an absolute tremendous player, going along with [Tom] Brady and the guys, [Wes] Welker and all those guys. I’m glad we have the corners we have."

See? It could've been much worse, right?

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Posted on: July 31, 2011 10:35 am
 

Huzzah! Haynesworth passes conditioning test

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

A day after he failed his conditioning test -- or didn’t take it, depending on who you believe -- new Patriots DL Albert Haynesworth has, in fact, accomplished something that took him many, many tries last season in Washington.

He was in good enough shape to pass the conditioning test that will allow him to practice.

That’s the word from the Boston Herald, which writes that Haynesworth actually might not have taken the test Saturday (even though coach Bill Belichick certainly gave the impression that Haynesworth didn’t pass it).

Either way, Haynesworth is scheduled to be on the practice field Sunday for the Patriots.

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