Tag:Mike Westhoff
Posted on: February 6, 2012 12:30 am
Edited on: February 6, 2012 5:35 am
 

Giants Steve Weatherford gets vindication

CB Aaron Ross and P Steve Weatherford celebrate after Weatherford's punt during the first half of Super Bowl XLVI.  (AP Photo/Pat Semansky)
By Ryan Wilson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Steve Weatherford is old school in that he prefers the directional punt to the end-over-end style that has come into vogue in recent years.

Much like the soccer-style kicker replaced the straight-ahead kicker two decades ago, those punters who could consistently place the ball out of bounds inside the 10-yard line have given way to the new-fangled era of backspin specialists; players who, in theory anyway, can have their punts land at the five and instead of tumbling into the end zone, the ball either bounces straight up or stays in the field of play.

Except that it doesn't always work.

Two years ago, Chris Hanson was the Patriots punter. In a regular-season game against the Ravens, his rugby-style kicks twice bounced into the end zone for touchbacks prompting Bill Belichick to make the following observation: “You hardly see anybody go for the sidelines any more,” he said according to the New York Times' Judy Battista. “Show me a punter who coffin corners. You don’t see it. They don’t do it.”

Be careful what you ask for.

Weatherford, joined the Giants before the 2011 season, a year after one of the all-time great directional punters Jeff Feagles retired. And against the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, he put forth a stellar effort.

* His first punt came on the Giants' first drive and it was downed at the Patriots' 6-yard line. On the next snap, Tom Brady was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone and New York led 2-0.

* His next punt, with 10:09 left in the second quarter, went out of the end zone for a touchback, but the Giants' defense held and the Pats go three and out.

Weatherford's third punt went out of bounds at the New England 4 with 4:11 to go in the first half. The Pats ended up scoring a touchdown but it required a 14-play, 96-yard drive.

* The final punt, which came at the 9:31 mark of the fourth quarter, is fair-caught by Wes Welker at the 8-yard line.

Giants 21, Patriots 17
The Patriots led 17-15 at the time and appeared ready to score again. But Tom Brady, perhaps affected by a third-quarter Justin Tuck sack, missed a wide open Welker on what proved to be the game's pivotal play.

Weatherford didn't convert a last-second kick, Vinatieri-style (or perhaps more fitting, Lawrence Tynes-in-the-playoffs-style), but he did do his job. In a game that included a Chase Blackburn interception (!) and a Brady misfire on a wide-open Welker, Weatherford's contributions were critical. Who knows how things play out if he doesn't pinned the Pats deep on his first punt of the game.

And to think, it wasn't long ago that a team had no use for Weatherford. In September, after the Jets chose not to re-sign him, Jets special-teams coach Mike Westhoff said that "there were times that (Weatherford) just didn't do the job."

During Media Day earlier this week, Weatherford fired back: "That wasn't good enough for Mike Westhoff," he said. "I'm playing for a guy now [Tom Quinn] that's got a Super Bowl ring, so that's not a guy I care to talk about. He does a lot of complaining, but recently he hasn't produced much."

Now Quinn has two Super Bowl rings, and Weatherford has his first.

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Posted on: October 13, 2011 11:17 am
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Living Legends

Bum Phillips is a living legend (Getty).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

With the death last Saturday of Raiders owner Al Davis, we got to see a side of him that most people under 35 never got to experience. When Davis was an innovator, a kick-ass coach and owner, a fighter against The Man and one of the most important figures in NFL history. It was nice to be reminded of that with tributes all over the Internet, newspapers and in NFL stadiums on Sunday.

Maybe we didn’t think about it in terms like this, but Davis, though largely reclusive to the public, was a living legend, and in the final years of his life, we probably didn’t appreciate him as much as we should have.

That said, here are 10 other living legends who hold (or who should hold)  a special place in the league’s heart. No matter what they’ve become today -- those who are outspoken for and against their old teams, those who spend their time behind the scenes, and those who have disappeared for now -- it’s not too late to show them our appreciation for all the good they’ve done and the lives they’ve led.

10. Ron Wolf: Another of Davis’ protégés, Davis gave Wolf a job as a scout for the Raiders in the early 1960s, and after helping the Raiders to a plethora of wins, he helped set up a 1979 division title in Tampa Bay before moving on to Green Bay as the general manager. He hired Mike Holmgren as the head coach, traded for a backup quarterback named Brett Favre, revitalized that franchise that led to Super Bowl riches and restored the name of a storied organization that had fallen into disrepair.

9. Mike Westhoff: The only man on this list who’s still active in the game, you might remember Westhoff from his turn on Hard Knocks where he played the Jets awesome special teams coach. It wasn’t much of a stretch, because Westhoff has been an awesome special teams coach. Aside from that, he’s a bone cancer survivor (he had to have nearly a dozen surgeries to get rid of it), and he’s one of the most respected working coaches today. But he won’t be around much longer. After 30 years of coaching, he’s said this season will be his last.

Kramer8. Ray Guy: Last year, I made him my No. 1 former player who deserves be in the Hall of Fame, but since he probably won’t ever get to Canton, that list and this one will have to suffice. Once Shane Lechler’s career is over, he’ll be considered the No. 1 punter of all time (maybe he’ll have a chance at the HOF!), but Guy was the one who showed the NFL how important a punter could be to his team.

7. Jerry Kramer (seen at right): He was a better football player than Jim Bouton was a pitcher, but both opened up the world of sports that fans had never seen before. Bouton’s tome, “Ball Four,” is a masterpiece that shocked those who had watched baseball and thought of players like Mickey Mantle as pure of heart. Kramer’s 1968 book, "Instant Replay," was a diary he kept of the 1967 season in which he gave glimpses of what life was like inside the Packers locker room under coach Vince Lombardi while chronicling some of the most famous moments in Green Bay history.

6. James “Shack” Harris: He was the first black player in the NFL to start at quarterback for the entire season in 1969, and in 1975, he led the Los Angeles Rams to an 11-2 record and an NFC West division title. He wasn’t a dominant quarterback in his day, but he was a trailblazer. And after retirement from playing, he was the head of pro player personnel when the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2001. He’s currently a personnel executive with the Lions.

5. Chuck Noll: We don’t see much of Noll -- who’s rumored to be in declining health -- these days, but his impact is unmistakable. He won four Super Bowls as head coach of the Steelers in the 1970s, and Al Davis thought so much of him that he once tried to sue him (the two were on the same staff in San Diego in the early 1960s). And he was the first coach to allow his team to take baseline concussion tests -- which, as we know today, was a pretty important development.

4. Joe Namath: The legendary Jets quarterback has become a thorn in coach Rex Ryan’s side. Namath is constantly on Twitter, exhorting or back-handing his former team, and because he’s Joe Freakin’ Namath, the media has to pay attention. With that -- and his on-air exchange a few years back with Suzy Kolber -- it’s not difficult to forget just how good Namath was as a signal-caller. He was the first to throw for 4,000 yards (in a 14-game season no less), and he boldly guaranteed victory for the underdog Jets in Super Bowl III and then went out and delivered.

3. Joe Gibbs: One of my colleagues recently called him the greatest coach of the last 40 years, and considering Gibbs won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks (Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien), he’s one of the legends. His return to the Redskins from 2004-07 didn’t go so well (a combined 30-34 record), but before that, his complete career winning percentage was better than all coaches not named John Madden or Vince Lombardi.

2. John Madden: We don’t get to hear much from John Madden these days, and that’s too bad. I liked him on Monday Night Football -- his football knowledge and his enthusiasm -- and though he was before my time, you have to admire his coaching record. He took over the Raiders job in 1969 at the tender age of 33, and when he retired after the 1978 season, he had a coaching record of 103-32-7. That is a winning percentage of .763, and to go with it, he won a Super Bowl and seven division titles in 10 years.

1. Bum Phillips: The old Oilers coach -- and 3-4 defense innovator -- is still kicking around in Texas, attending Texans games, wearing his big cowboy hat and writing books about his life (OK, it’s one book, but you should check it out). He’s a fun guy to speak with, and he’s fully into philanthropy. But aside from his defensive prowess, the dude is a great storyteller. Quickly, one of my favorites: when he was an assistant coach to Sid Gillman, one of the earliest believers in breaking down film, Phillips barely could keep his eyes open one night as Gillman continued studying game tape. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Gillman excitedly claimed that watching film made him feel so awesome that it was better than having sex. Responded Phillips: "Either I don't know how to watch film, Sid, or you don't know how to make love."

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Posted on: January 16, 2011 12:27 pm
 

Pats outed for using 'sideline wall' against Jets

Posted by Will Brinson

The Jets were fined a large chunk of change ($100,000 to be exact) for "TripGate." The extent of the fine was based on Sal Alosi's physical actions on the sideline against the Dolphins and Mike Westhoff claiming the Patriots engaged in the same tactics.

Turns out, they (allegedly) do just that. Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported Sunday that the Jets found out about the Pats illegal sideline antics and actually showed a videotape of a Pats sideline wall with the final member attempting to trip the Jets gunner.



Apparently, a former member of the Patriots practice squad told the Jets that New England practiced the sideline wall manuever, and it appears that the Jets pulled the footage from a game against New England.

Glazer pointed out that if the Jets had sent this footage to the league office, then it probably would have been the Patriots getting fined and not New York. He's probably correct, too, because a large portion of the league's fine of the Jets stemmed from Westhoff's public comments. If, instead of making public allegations about the Pats behavior was similar to Alosi's, the Jets had sent the tape to 280 Park Avenue in New York, there's a pretty good chance Bob Kraft would have been cutting a check too.
Posted on: December 30, 2010 6:09 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2010 6:46 pm
 

Jets fairly fined $100K for 'TripGate'

Posted by Will Brinson



The NFL reached some resolution on the "TripGate" incident involving Sal Alosi and members of the team and staff who formed a wall against the Dolphins, announcing Thursday night that the Jets were fined $100,000 for the incident and calling it "a competitive violation as well as a dangerous tactic."

"The fine has been imposed on the Jets to emphasize that clubs are accountable for the actions of their employees," the NFL said in its statement.

The Jets, who suspended Alosi for the rest of the season sans pay and fined him $25,000, also released a statement in which they said they'll "comply with the league's decision."

The NFL also indicated that the the fine was shaped by Mike Westhoff's decision to imply that the Patriots might engage in similar tactics.

"The discipline imposed on the club also includes the response to the incident of coach Alosi and special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff, who made public comments accusing other teams of employing similar tactics," the NFL's statement said.

Those two aspects of the fine make the 100 grand a fair amount even it's certainly more than the NFL has fined anyone for a helmet-to-helmet hit, and it's twice the amount the Broncos were fined for taping the 49ers walkthrough.

That's because Alosi's actions need to halted immediately, and because when a member of one organization calls out another organization, it's not something the league takes lightly, particularly since what Westhoff did could construe libel in normal venue.

More important, though, is making sure that the Jets (and by virtue of the public fine, all other NFL teams) understand they can't risk the health of opponents through cheap tactics designed to find a competitive advantage vis-a-vis an often overlooked rule.

And although the steep nature of the fine might mean Alosi's working for free next year (if he's even working), you can guarantee that the NFL got everyone's attention when they hit the Jets with the amount.

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Posted on: December 21, 2010 5:10 pm
 

NFL targets Jets special teams coach

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

In the wake of the Sal-Alosi-tripping-Nolan-Carroll incident, Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff – who came off as a pretty cool guy on “Hard Knocks” – claimed (and rightfully so) that other teams pull similar stunts on their sidelines (though, perhaps not as blatantly as the Jets and not as caught on national TV).

But Westhoff might have gone a step too far when he accused the Patriots of skirting the line on unethical, if not illegal, play.

Said Westhoff during a recent radio interview: "Well, if you watch (the Patriots), their defense when the opponents’ punt team is out there, they’re up there pretty close to the line so it looks like they are trying to do it. Now are they doing anything illegal? Are they tripping anybody? Heck no. I’m not saying that. That’s not the point. But, yeah, they’re lined up there. Is it making a difference? I don’t know.”

Now, the NFL is investigating the comment, because, in the NFL, it’s frowned upon to accuse another team of rule-breaking without producing proof.

"It’s something that we’re looking into, our staff has been looking into and I expect to get a report within the next day or so," commissioner Roger Goodell said, via the Boston Globe.

All of this serves as a reminder. If you mess with the Belichick, you get the horns.

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Posted on: December 17, 2010 4:31 pm
 

Sal Alosi tripping ordeal is getting ridiculous

Posted by Andy Benoit

According to Jane McManus of ESPN New York, NFL representatives met with New York Jets officials to find out exactly who in the organization had knowledge of Sal Alosi’s “sideline antics”. The Jets announced earlier this week that Alosi was suspended indefinitely after the team discovered that he was the one who issued the order to form a wall along the sideline.

But if you pause for a moment, you might notice the funny smell this story emits. WhS. Alosi (US Presswire)y did it take the Jets until Wednesday to discover that Alosi gave the order to form a wall? That’s not the type of thing that requires an investigation. After Nolan Carroll was tripped, Rex Ryan or another Jets coach could have walked up to the members of the wall and said something along the lines of, “Say guys, who told you to stand there?” Or, they could have asked that question after the game. Or first thing Monday morning. Or anytime Tuesday.

Instead, the Jets discovered that Alosi issued the order after the entire country over-reacted to the story. (And yes, the country over-reacted. What Alosi did was cheap and out of line, but at the end of the day, this major controversy we’re talking about here is a case of one man tripping another. It’s easy to say Carroll could have been hurt on the play, but any player can get hurt in any circumstance. The reality is, Alosi didn’t commit a felony – he TRIPPED a guy.)

But let’s get back to the point: the Jets “discovered” Alosi gave the order to form a wall only after the story became a big deal. Then they suspended him indefinitely. Convenient timing, no?

Some might think that Alosi is taking the fall for an order that was issued from someone above him (like, say, Rex Ryan or Mike Westhoff). But do you really think something like people standing along a certain part of the sideline is an official order that comes down from the powers that be? Or, is it possible that it’s something that happens when one person sees a team lining up for a punt and suddenly says, “Hey guys, I have a clever idea…”?

It’s extremely doubtful that there even was an official order given. And if there was, no way Alosi was the guy. The NFL is a very hierarchical culture; no team would give its strength and conditioning coach the power to issue an order of any sorts during a game.
Nevertheless, the media has run with this opportunity to make a story. Can’t blame the media, really. Fans have eaten it up. Which is why here we are reporting the big news that the NFL is formally looking into a tripping case.

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Posted on: December 15, 2010 4:31 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2010 6:02 pm
 

Mike Westhoff suggests Patriots form wall, too

Posted by Andy Benoit
M. Westhoff (US Presswire)
Something good has come from the Sal Alosi tripping scandal: more fuel on the Patriots-Jets fire. Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff was asked on the Waddle & Silvy Show on ESPN 1000 in Chicago Wednesday about the Jets forming the wall of assistants along the sideline.

“A number of teams do it,” Westhoff said, per Pro Football Talk. “There is a pretty good team up north that lines their whole defense up when they do it, so it’s something that just kind of happened.”

Westhoff was asked to elaborate.

“Well, if you watch them, their defense when the opponents’ punt team is out there,” he said.  “They’re up there pretty close to the line so it looks like they are trying to do it.  Now are they doing anything illegal?  Are they tripping anybody, heck no.  I’m not saying that.  That’s not the point.  But, yeah, they’re lined up there.  Is it making a difference?  I don’t know.  I really don’t know, because to tell you the truth before this happened I never really looked at anybody’s sideline in all my years.”

It was discovered that Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi ordered for the wall to be formed. The team has suspended him indefinitely.

UPDATE 6:00 p.m. ET: For what it's worth, the NFL said Wednesday that the Jets' wall violated playing rules.

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Posted on: December 14, 2010 3:31 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2010 3:43 pm
 

Why Sal Alosi was even in position to trip

Posted by Andy Benoit

UPDATE 3:42 p.m. ET: Turns out Zach Thomas was right: the Jets assistant coaches were indeed instructed to form a wall along the sideline. And we’ve found out who gave that order: Sal Alosi. As in, the Sal Alosi who tripped Nolan Carroll. The Jets have now made Alosi’s season-long suspension an indefinite suspension. His future with the franchise is bleak at this point.



There are some whS. Alosi o believe that the Jets assistant coaches, including Sal Alosi, were under orders to crowd the sideline on the play in which Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll was tripped. Count former Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas among the believers.

"They had to be ordered to stand there because they're foot to foot," Thomas told Tim Graham of ESPN.com. "There's four of them, side to side -- five of them, I mean -- on the edge of the coach's zone. They're only out there to restrict the space of the gunner, who is Nolan Carroll.

"But there's more to it because I'm telling you, the only thing [Alosi] did wrong was intentionally put that knee out there. If he just stood there, there would never have been a problem, even if the guy got tripped. But there's more to this. He was ordered to stand there. No one is foot to foot on the sideline in the coach's box."

Thomas makes a very valid point. And if the coaches were indeed ordered to stand there, that could explain what prompted Alosi to do what he did. (Not saying Alosi was instructed to trip Carroll, but the very idea of crowding Carroll’s space could have subtly encouraged him to take things a step too far.)

If the assistants were instructed to stand shoe-to-shoe, then who gave them the order? Rex Ryan has already said it wasn’t him. Tuesday, special teams coach Mike Westhoff issued a statement saying, “Number one, I did not instruct anyone. Number two, I was not aware. With all of the people on the sidelines, it would be inconsequential and I would not be involved in any way, shape or form.”

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