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Tag:New England Patriots
Posted on: January 22, 2012 1:41 pm
 

Report: Cam Cameron, Ravens could part ways

Flacco has been scrutinized this season but some of the blame is on Cameron. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

On Friday, we wrote that the Ravens' offensive struggles, and Joe Flacco's in particular, might have less to do with the quarterback and more to do with the guy responsible for setting the formations and calling the plays. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has been a favorite target of unhappy fans and media critics pretty much since Baltimore drafted Flacco in 2008, and now, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, the Ravens might choose to let Cameron walk after the season.

Cameron's contract is set to expire and, as Mortensen tweeted Sunday, "Tension with Flacco [is] no secret in [the] building." 

Some of that tension almost certainly has to do with Cameron's vision of what the Ravens' offense should be. NFL Films' Greg Cosell told Yahoo.com recently that "The Ravens' receiving corps could be the absolute worst in the NFL when it comes to getting open versus man coverage. They don't do an awful lot to get them open versus man — you don't see a lot of the stack release concepts, or all the 'man-beater' concepts. No bunch, no stack release. No rub elements.

"They don't do a lot to help their receivers win versus man," Cosell continued. "I'm not going to defend Flacco, but I think it's very difficult to … it seemed that last week [against the Houston Texans] the route tree was a go route and a screen. I said this to one of my guys [while I was watching the Baltimore] tape — 'I feel like I'm watching a 1960s offense.' Every play, there was one receiver to the right, and one receiver to the left, often two backs or two tight ends, and that was every play, it seemed."

ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski echoed Cosell's sentiments during Sunday's NFL Matchup show.

"Cameron must be creative in this matchup [against the Patriots]," he said. "He can not line up in static formations and expect his talent to win. That's not going to happen. What I want to see -- I think we should look for in this game -- clusters, bunch formations, formation variation, motions, picks, rubs -- all those plays designed by Cam to manufacture big plays."

Sounds reasonable until you see this mind-numbing statistic from Football Outsiders: "In this era of multiple receivers and shotgun spreads, the Ravens actually run a fairly conventional, old-fashioned offense. Our charting lists the Ravens using two wide receivers on 56 percent of plays, the highest rate in the league."

PFT.com calls Brad Childress an "obvious candidate" to replace Cameron should he not return. Childress spent several years on the Eagles' staff with current Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.


After a win over the Texans last week, Joe Flacco and the Ravens will take on Tom Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship. Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this game. Watch the game on CBS at 3 PM ET. 

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: January 21, 2012 12:29 pm
 

Report: Ochocinco attending dad's funeral today

By Josh Katzowitz

Chad Ochocinco is not in New England today and missed practice Friday, and according to the Boston Herald, it’s because the Patriots wide receiver has flown home to Fort Lauderdale for his father’s funeral today.

He left at 6 p.m. ET Friday night to fly to Florida.

The paper writes that Ochocinco plans to return to New England by Sunday’s game, but that’s no sure bet considering the amount of weather problems on the Eastern Seaboard.

As Ian Rapoport writes, “The two had a complicated relationship, but Ochocinco decided the right thing to do was to attend the funeral. The two did talk regularly before his passing.”

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 9:47 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 9:49 pm
 

NFL Analyst: Ravens look like 1960s offense

Is Cameron responsible for Flacco's lack of consistency? (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

Fair or not, quarterback Joe Flacco has been the Ravens' most scrutinized player this season. But that's part of the deal; as an NFL quarterback, he's the face of the franchise and in many respects, the most important cog in a machine built to win Super Bowls. Instead, 2011 has been marked by inconsistency. The results, predictably: fans have lost patience and the organization has yet to offer him a contract extension.

It doesn't help that he has thin skin and rabbit ears, even if he tries to joke that he doesn't pay attention to the criticism. But maybe this isn't all on Flacco.

That should be obvious but sometimes it's easier for fans and media to just wave their arms, lament the quarterback's ineffectiveness and not give it much thought beyond that. But NFL Films' Greg Cosell, who Yahoo.com's Doug Farrar describes as watching "more all-22 film than anyone not currently part of an NFL coaching staff," has a theory for why Flacco has struggled at points this season.

"The Ravens' receiving corps could be the absolute worst in the NFL when it comes to getting open versus man coverage," Cosell told Farrar. "They don't do an awful lot to get them open versus man — you don't see a lot of the stack release concepts, or all the "man-beater" concepts. No bunch, no stack release. No rub elements.


After a win over the Texans last week, Joe Flacco and the Ravens will take on Tom Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship. Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this game. Watch the game on CBS at 3 PM ET. 

"They don't do a lot to help their receivers win versus man," Cosell continued. "I'm not going to defend Flacco, but I think it's very difficult to … it seemed that last week [against the Houston Texans] the route tree was a go route and a screen. I said this to one of my guys [while I was watching the Baltimore] tape — 'I feel like I'm watching a 1960s offense.' Every play, there was one receiver to the right, and one receiver to the left, often two backs or two tight ends, and that was every play, it seemed."

The other culprit is one familiar to Ravens fans: offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. From Football Outsiders' AFC preview:

"In this era of multiple receivers and shotgun spreads, the Ravens actually run a fairly conventional, old-fashioned offense. Our charting lists the Ravens using two wide receivers on 56 percent of plays, the highest rate in the league."

That doesn't exactly scream innovation. And it's fair to assume that this lack of innovation may have something to do with Flacco's stunted development.

One receiver who appeared frustrated with the Texans' man coverage concepts: rookie deep threat Torrey Smith. Instead of waiting for Cameron to devise a scheme to help him get open, Smith took matters into his own hands. He's intimately familiar with the Patriots. Partly from watching film, but also from -- wait for it -- facing them so often in Madden.

"The biggest thing about New England is my brother always picks them in Madden," Smith said according to The Carroll County Times' Aaron Wilson. "They pretty much always have the best offense for some years in that game. I play with the Ravens all the time now."

Smith also talked about last spring's draft process, one that saw the Patriots very interested in the former Maryland product.

"I pretty much did everything you could do with New England as far as the draft process goes," he said. "I met with them at the combine, did a private workout, and I saw them around a lot. They have a great coaching staff, and you can see with the way their track record has been they know how to win."

Of course, Smith already knew that. You know, from Madden.

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 6:04 pm
 

Rex Ryan: 'Ravens are going to win this game'

Ryan likes Baltimore and Suggs. Welker's response: 'That's Rex for you.' (US PRESSWIRE/Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Las Vegas and CBSSports.com's NFL experts may not give the Ravens much of a chance against the Patriots in the AFC Championship game but not everyone is sold on New England. Take unbiased observer, former Ravens defensive coordinator, and current Jets head coach Rex Ryan, who appeared on WFAN Friday to make his bold prediction.


“First off, the Ravens are going to win this game,” he told Mike Francesa. "But the truth is this. The only way you’re going to beat New England is if you have a great defense. And when you look at the teams that won – obviously Buffalo was the one exception – the Giants had a great game defensively, they were able to get pressure on the quarterback, make plays in the back end. The Ravens had beaten New England before with a dominant defense."

Seems reasonable enough, especially Ryan's implication that the Jets, who finished the season 8-8 and missed the playoffs, didn't have a great defense (they went 0-2 against the Patriots in 2011). And he alluded to that during his conversation with Francesa.

"We beat New England three times but we did it creatively … a different type of defense, (Tom Brady) wasn’t comfortable," Ryan said. "There are only a few teams…Pittsburgh, was more physical than New England. That’s why they won. So the Ravens, in my opinion, are going to take a similar approach to how the Giants played them. Meaning, they’re going to rush four guys on them, I truly think they’re going to rush four. I think Terrell Suggs might be the difference in this game. I don’t know how many guys can block Terrell Suggs. I’ve got the answer: none of them. So I think Suggs is going to be huge but they’ve got to be physical. And the Ravens’ offense does have to show up. They have to protect the football."

It's no surprise that Ryan likes Baltimore this weekend; he has ties to the organization and he's bound by rivalry to loathe New England. But he also lays out a game plan (if not wholly convincing then certainly credible) for stopping Tom Brady's high-powered offense. Ryan, after all, was the Ravens' defensive coordinator in 2007 when a not-very-good Baltimore team almost upended the undefeated Patriots. (Of course, Ryan's decision to call a timeout late in that game, when it appeared that Baltimore had stopped Brady on 4th and 1, played a non-trivial part in the outcome.)

Wide receiver Wes Welker, one of Brady's favorite targets, was asked Friday about Ryan's prognostication. "That’s Rex for you," he said according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Greg Bedard. "Hopefully we can prove him wrong."

As for slowing that tenacious Ravens' defense, guard Logan Mankins suggested more no-huddle.

"I think it helps," Mankins said via Bedard. "(The Ravens) do a lot of different things, so maybe (the no-huddle) will make them not do so many different things."


After a win over the Texans last week, Joe Flacco and the Ravens will take on Tom Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship. Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this game. Watch the game on CBS at 3 PM ET. 

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: January 20, 2012 12:53 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 10:30 pm
 

Is playing in London really worth it?

Wembley Stadium

By Josh Katzowitz

Rams owner Stan Kroenke is excited about his team committing to play a regular-season game in London for the next three years. As he should be, considering he’s also the owner of the English Premier League’s Arsenal soccer team and because he and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell want to continue expanding the league brand into Europe.

While some St. Louis fans, already worried that the Rams could be the team to relocate back to Los Angeles in the near future, probably wonder if this news will pave the way for the organization eventually to leave the city, there has to be another concern for the franchise. Basically, how will the long trip across the Atlantic Ocean affect the team for the rest of that season?

In 2010, I talked to then-49ers linebacker Takeo Spikes for a Five Questions (or more)* interview, and he recalled how long it took for his teammates to recover from the long jaunt.

“We got there Monday morning, and we didn’t recover until that Thursday,” Spikes said. “That’s when everybody’s bodies were back on schedule. I can’t even imagine doing what Denver wanted to do and expect them to feel well-rested and alert. I know for us, even on Wednesday, I still couldn’t go to sleep on time."

*As a casual aside, to let you know how quickly fortunes are made and lost in the NFL, this conversation occurred 14 months ago, and I talked with Spikes about whether Troy Smith was the quarterback of the future in San Francisco. Not Alex Smith. Troy Smith.

[RELATED: Take our Facebook poll: Do you want your favorite NFL team playing in London?]

It’s a change for coaches and players obsessed with a normal weekly routine, and you have to wonder if it’s a disruption that makes the rest of the season a difficult task. In other words, does the trip to London help the NFL’s brand but ultimately harm that team for the rest of the year?

Let’s take a look.

Here are the results of the trip to England from 2007-11.

2007 – Giants 13, Dolphins 10

2008 – Saints 37, Chargers 32

2009 – Patriots 35, Buccaneers 7

2010 – 49ers 24, Broncos 16

2011 – Bears 24, Buccaneers 18

Here’s how those teams finished the regular season:

2007 – Giants 4-4**, Dolphins 1-7***

2008 – Saints 4-4, Chargers 5-3

2009 – Patriots 5-4, Buccaneers 3-6

2010 – 49ers 4-4, Broncos 2-6

2011 – Bears 4-5, Buccaneers 0-9

And here is the cumulative record from those teams after participating in the London trip: 32-52

**Of course, the Giants won the Super Bowl that year, beating the 18-0 Patriots in the process.

***To be fair, the Dolphins didn’t win any games before the London trip.

Three of those squads (the 2007 Giants, 2008 Chargers and the 2009 Patriots) made the playoffs. Sure, you could make the case that most of those squads were fairly mediocre in those particular seasons, but the fact that only one two out of 10 emerged out of the trip with a winning record (and barely, at that) is a sign that perhaps Kroenke shouldn’t be too excited about making the trip the next three seasons.

Because so far, we’ve seen that the trip just isn’t worth it for a team’s long-term results.

UPDATE (3:00 p.m. ET): One of our readers brings up a good question: what was the teams' cumulative record before the London trip. It was 22-30 for a winning percentage of 42.3. The winning percentage for post-London teams is 38.1.

So, not a huge disparity, but I maintain the answer to the original question is the same. Is traveling to London a good idea for your team? No. Does it harm your team in the long-run? For the majority of teams, yes.

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 9:41 am
 

Pick-6 Podcast: Do Ravens, 49ers Have a Chance?

So, who ya got? (Getty Images/US PRESSWIRE)

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

It's the conference championships and everybody seems to be firmly on two bandwagons: the Patriots and Giants. The former isn't completely surprising -- New England has Tom Brady and Baltimore's Joe Flacco has yet to prove himself -- the latter is unexpected for two reasons.

No. 1: New York was 9-7 in the regular season. Yes, they've had convincing wins against the Falcons and the Packers in back-to-back weeks ... but this leads us to No. 2: San Francisco just stopped the thought-to-be-unstoppable force: Drew Brees and the Saints' offense.

So what gives? Do Baltimore and San Francisco have a shot to get to Indy for the Super Bowl? We talk about that, Steve Spagnuolo joining the Saints, Rob Lowe breaking NFL news and perhaps most importantly: why Joe Flacco is riding a skateboard days before the AFC Championship game.

Talking starts promptly.

(Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes? And if you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.)


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Posted on: January 20, 2012 8:40 am
Edited on: January 20, 2012 1:23 pm
 

Rams to face Patriots in London in '12

Wembley StadiumBy Josh Katzowitz

With Rams owner Stan Kroenke also owning the English Premier Leagues’ Arsenal soccer team, a date in London to play the NFL’s annual international game certainly makes sense. And St. Louis players had better get used to it, because not only will they face the Patriots in 2012, but the Rams also have signed up to play in London in 2013 and 2014.

That’s the word from the team, which also reports that next year’s game will occur Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. ET (6 p.m. local time).

The Rams will be the home team in 2012, meaning they’ll lose a game at the Edward Jones Dome.

“This is a tremendous honor for our franchise, the city of St. Louis and our fans throughout the world,” Kroenke said in a statement. “We are excited about the opportunity to reach new audiences globally. This is a great platform to showcase the city of St. Louis to London and the UK.
 
“We’ve seen first-hand the increased popularity of the NFL not only in London but throughout Europe. To play a role in that growth over the next three years will be incredible and is a testament to the many good things happening not only in the NFL but also in the St. Louis Rams organization.”

[RELATED: Is playing in London a good idea for a team intent on winning the second half of the season?]

As the St. Louis Post Dispatch points out, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in October that he wanted to see a few teams becoming regulars in London (the Buccaneers, for example, have been twice already, and next year will mark New England's second trip across the Atlantic) so they could begin to build a following in Europe.

That would be “very powerful and lead us to what we ultimately would like to do -- have a franchise here in London,” Goodell said.

The NFL is contracted to play at least one regular-season contest in London through 2016.

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Posted on: January 19, 2012 4:45 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2012 10:55 am
 

10 years later: the 'tuck rule' anniversary

Before January 19, 2001 everybody thought this was a fumble. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

It's been exactly 10 years since two organizations, with vastly different histories up till that point, saw their fates changed forever. The Patriots were hosting the Raiders in an AFC Divisional matchup. With 2:24 left in a game played in blizzard-like conditions, and with Oakland leading 13-10, cornerback Charles Woodson stripped quarterback Tom Brady, the Raiders recovered, and they appeared headed to the conference championship.

Except that the tuck rule -- a term no one had heard of to that point -- saved Brady and the Patriots, and, you could argue, altered the future of both organizations. New England would go on to win this game, the Super Bowl, and two more before 2005. The Raiders, meanwhile, lost Jon Gruden to the Buccaneers a few weeks later and wouldn't win more than five games for the next seven seasons.

Time supposedly heals all wounds but whoever uttered those words couldn't have been a sports fan. Ask Raiders fans or former players about the immaculate reception and you can see the blood rush to their face. Bring up the tuck rule and they'll have their hands around your neck as you try not to lose consciousness.


Depending on your perspective, this was either "fun" or some "bulls---."

"We were robbed, and I still get sick thinking about it," Woodson, now a Packer, said when the Raiders played Green Bay last month.

He was slightly more emotional during his post-game comments at the time (and understandably so):  "It's some bulls---, it's some bulls---," Woodson said according to ESPN.com. "That's exactly how I feel, I feel like it was a bulls--- call. It never should have been overturned."

He makes a decent point. Up till that moment, nobody knew what a "tuck rule" was. Even Mike Periera, the former head of officials (a job he held on this fateful night, too) who now works for Fox Sports admits that the rule is a cop out for what everybody knows is a fumble.

"A pass should only be ruled incomplete if the ball comes loose in the actual act of passing the ball," he said. "If it comes loose in the tucking motion, then it should be a fumble."

Now we reflexively shout "tuck rule" anytime a quarterback fakes a throw, resets, and loses the ball after getting smacked by a defender. Even though common sense says it's clearly a fumble. It's the football version of the "I know it when I see it" explanation for what is and isn't obscene.

Last October, when the Patriots faced the Raiders, Brady, no doubt fighting back uncontrollable laughter at his good fortune, admitted that "We got a few breaks and situationally, we made some plays."

You don't say. Richard Seymour, who was with the Patriots at the time but now plays for the Raiders, couldn't contain a smile but wasn't interested in talking in specifics.

"I was on the opposite side of it, so I don't have a comment on it…" he said according to the San Francisco Chronicle, a grin now about to swallow his face. "What's funny is that me and (Steve) Wisniewski, Coach Wisniewski, we were lined up against each other that whole game."

In his book published in 2004, "Do You Love Football?!: Winning with Heart, Passion, and Not Much Sleep," Gruden addressed what happened in Foxboro on January 19, 2002. After referee Walt Coleman invoked the tuck rule Gruden wrote that:

"We had one timeout left, but I wasn't going to use it. As a result, the Patriots had to send out … Adam Vinatieri to try a 43-yard field goal. I didn't want to try and 'ice' (him) because I didn't want to give the Patriots' ground crew time for the same thing that had happened in that same stadium in 1982, when a work-release convict used a snowplow to clear a spot for John Smith to kick the winning field goal in New England's 3-0 victory over Miami."

Ah yes...


New England didn't need the help of the Massachusetts Dept. of Correction against Oakland.

Gruden continued: "Vinatieri was kicking the ball literally out of five inches of snow, into the wind. He made it, sending the game into overtime. In overtime, Vinatieri kicked another field goal out of all that snow." 

Vinatieri's recollection of those final few moments: "My holder and I are trying to kick as much snow out of the way as possible and the offensive linemen were sweeping and sweeping. Oakland calls a timeout to ice the kicker. I think it helped us out. We cleared a pretty decent spot. At least my footing was better for that one. Game winners in playoff games are never easy. They have a whole different feel. But after making the best kick of my life, I felt like I just couldn't miss that night. That one went right down the middle and it was over. That was fun."

That was the last time Gruden coached the Raiders. "… If my recalling of this game is matter-of-fact," he said in his book, "it's because it kills me to recall this sequence of plays."

Doesn't sound like that much fun.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com