How Aaron Rodgers saved the Packers’ season

The news conference, if you want to call it that, was attended by three writers and a handful of camera operators on a brutal Sunday night deadline in late November. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers emerged from the FedEx Field visitors locker room sometime near midnight, eyes fixed on the floor. In a blue cardigan and a white T-shirt, he looked sort of like a disappointed preppy dad; he looked uncharacteristically human.

The Packers had just lost their fourth straight game, 42-24 at Washington, and had officially sunk to irrelevance at 4-6 and third place in the NFC North. Rodgers had tried just about everything to turn this thing around. He’d even picked up a book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable.” But the night of Nov. 20 had this feeling of finality, that their run of seven consecutive playoff appearances was about to end, and Rodgers had to sense it. Their postseason chances had winnowed to 8.8 percent.

His news conference was 2 minutes and 38 seconds of awkwardness. It included five questions, the last of which was of the obligatory “Can the Packers salvage this season?” variety. “I’m very optimistic,” Rodgers said. Before anyone could ask whether he’d lost his mind, he was gone.

It’s another to say after the game that he wanted to hit a particular number of carries from his running game in the second half, which is a logical fallacy. McCarthy surely has his merits as an offensive mind and has done a great job of developing Rodgers, but his in-game decision-making already has cost the Packers dearly in the playoffs in the past and nearly came back to haunt them last weekend.

The sheriff’s office said that more charges could be filed after its investigation concludes

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“It was dark out. He couldn’t see the people,” the source said. “The kids were belligerent and threatened him. Bottom line, they stole his property and he couldn’t identify them because it was dark out and they threatened him.”

The sheriff’s office said that more charges could be filed after its investigation concludes. The Bills announced Tuesday that they have decided to place Kromer on paid administrative leave “in accordance with the league’s Personal Conduct Policy while we continue to work our way through the investigative process with the league.”

As part of the NFL’s latest personal conduct policy, violations involving assault or battery of any kind will result in a baseline six-game suspension for first offenses. More games can be added to the suspension for “aggravating factors.” In addition, anyone charged with a violent crime can be placed on paid leave until an NFL investigation is completed.

At an average of $14 million per season, Thomas and Bryant are the second-highest paid receivers after Calvin Johnson, who earns $16 million per year in Detroit.

Broncos GM John Elway was excited to get the team’s star receiver locked down for the foreseeable future:

Thrilled to reach a long-term deal with Demaryius. He is one of the NFL¡¯s top WRs & will continue to be a big part of the Broncos’ success!!
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It’s not surprising that the Broncos were able to get a long-term deal done for Thomas given his production in recent seasons. Although Peyton Manning and the Broncos are going to produce a highly-rated passing offense regardless of who is playing receiver, they’d be hard-pressed to plug in another guy for Thomas and still get 111 receptions for 1,619 yards and the 11 touchdowns he totaled last year.

Stevens hasn’t been bashful about pointing out that his team’s defense must improve

Stevens hasn’t been bashful about pointing out that his team’s defense must improve. He’s made sure to note that Boston’s first-shot defense has typically been very good but the team has often gotten burned by second-chance opportunities created by the Celtics’ lack of size and rebounding. And Stevens knows that the Celtics absolutely must be playing better defense when the playoffs arrive.

“I think by April you want to be playing your best in both [sides of the ball],” Stevens said. “Last year, I thought we played our best defense early. We made a conscious decision to go smaller later and we became a better team, as far as wins and losses and offensively, but we dipped defensively in a big way. This [defensive erosion] started at the [end] of last year. But our numbers were so good that they held up. We’ve gotta become a better defensive team whether we¡¯re playing big or small.”

Game Kids William Hayes Jersey That’s why Horford couldn’t help but mention the defense when reflecting on Boston’s success over the past month after Monday’s win over the Charlotte Hornets.

“[The Celtics are] still not necessarily pleased with our defense, but we¡¯re getting better,” Horford said. “Defensively, we have to make sure that we keep making strides.”

Boston most certainly dug itself a hole at the start of the season. Its defensive rating through seven games was a ghastly 112.3, which was more than three points worse than the nearest competitor. The Celtics seemed to settle in a bit from there and, over the next month, displayed a more familiar defensive tenacity, even if it didn’t always translate to victories while going 10-9 despite a 102.9 rating in that span.

Game Kids Xavier Rhodes Jersey Since Thomas returned from a groin injury on Dec. 16, the Celtics are 13-3. An offensive rating of 112.3 ranks them in the top 5 in the NBA over the past month. But Boston’s defensive rating in that same span is 107.6, which ranks 17th.

Patriots will need better performance in AFC title game

This won’t be good enough next week for the New England Patriots, who played arguably their worst game of the season in Saturday night’s 34-16 victory over the Houston Texans in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.

The Texans aren’t good enough on offense to capitalize. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs are good enough.
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David Savard Womens Jersey That’s the biggest takeaway from what unfolded at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots’ three turnovers, uncharacteristic penalties and shaky pass protection from the interior of the offensive line created some anxious moments in a game many predicted would be a blowout but was instead close entering the fourth quarter. The Texans’ defense deserves some credit for that, too.

“It doesn¡¯t feel great because we worked pretty hard to play a lot better than we played,” said quarterback Tom Brady, whose 47.4 completion percentage was the lowest of his playoff career. “I give them a lot of credit, but we¡¯re going to have to play better on offense.”

Turnovers can be the great equalizer in the NFL, and the Patriots are usually among the best in the league in that area. Their 11 giveaways during the regular season tied with the Atlanta Falcons for fewest in the NFL, and the total was the lowest for any team since the San Francisco 49ers had just 10 in the 2011 season.

Outcome: The Seahawks got the ball, all right, but on the sixth play of their second possession, Hasselbeck threw an interception to Green Bay Packers cornerback Al Harris. Fifty-two yards later, Harris scored the game-winning touchdown. Whoops.

Tennessee Titans running back David Cobb will get work with the first team in the preseason

Tennessee Titans running back David Cobb will get work with the first team in the preseason, head coach Ken Whisenhunt said on Saturday, via Paul Kuharsky of ESPN. Whisenhunt said that Cobb deserves it, and that he just needed to get in shape before getting the opportunity. It’s hard to argue with the fact that he deserves it after an impressive showing in the preseason opener on Friday.

Starter Bishop Sankey carried the ball eight times, but only managed 15 yards, a per-carry average of 1.9 yards. Cobb had 11 carries, and managed 53 yards, an average of 4.8 yards per carry. Of course, Cobb was going against a defense that was primarily made up of second- and third-string players, while Sankey played against the bulk of Atlanta’s starters. Still, Cobb is one of the more exciting running backs to come out of this year’s draft.

The Dallas Cowboys are set to work out Ben Malena, Michael Hill and Zach Bauman, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer. All three players are running backs, the position Dallas needs help at the most. The Cowboys had DeMarco Murray last season, but when he left in free agency the team signed Darren McFadden, who promptly got injured.

While the Cowboys still need to figure out who will be the starter, one of Malena, Hill or Bauman would provide some much-needed depth for the preseason.

DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles
As the saying goes, the Dallas Cowboys got the yards out of Murray last year, and this year the Eagles will pay for the carries. Murray touched the ball a hair under 500 times last year, a daunting number for any running back, let alone a running back who never saw 16 games in a season before 2014. On top of that, the Eagles don’t have Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles around as window dressing; they’ll be involved. Murray’s touches are sure to go down this year, and don’t be surprised if his effectiveness drops as well.

Browns head coach Mike Pettine addressed the media on Monday shortly after the suspension was announced

It¡¯s a decision San Diego Chargers chairman Dean Spanos wrestled with for the past year after NFL owners chose Rams owner Stan Kroenke¡¯s vision for a new stadium in Los Angeles over Spanos’ partnership with Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis on a new facility in Carson, California.

But after a public vote for a new downtown stadium in San Diego failed in November, Spanos will likely announce the decision Thursday to move his family¡¯s NFL franchise to the place it began in 1960: two hours north in Los Angeles.
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And while Chargers fans face the reality that the team they love will no longer call San Diego home after more than five decades in this city, the Spanos family will begin moving vans and preparing to operate in Los Angeles.
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Here are some questions the Chargers will have to answer as they prepare to move to L.A.:

Moeller received a two-game suspension and $47,000 fine in 2011 when he was the offensive line coach of the Baltimore Ravens after he was arrested for driving while intoxicated. At the time it was Moeller’s third alcohol-related arrest in four years and he was “given probation and other requirements related to abstaining from alcohol,” according to ESPN.

Browns head coach Mike Pettine addressed the media on Monday shortly after the suspension was announced and while he didn’t provide any further details of the incident, he said that assistant offensive line coach George DeLeone will serve as the replacement and former Florida Gators offensive line coach Kurt Roper will assist after joining the team in the offseason as a senior offensive assistant.

Moeller is the son of former Illinois, Michigan and Detroit Lions head coach Gary Moeller, who resigned from his position at Michigan in 1995 after a drunken outburst resulted in an arrest on charges of assault and battery and disorderly conduct.

Steelers vs. Chargers 2015 odds: ‘Monday Night Football’ betting lines favor San Diego

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 8-2 straight up and 7-3 against the spread in their last 10 games against the San Diego Chargers. The Steelers hope that success continues against the Chargers this Monday night in San Diego.

Pittsburgh is a 3.5-point road underdog on Monday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Steelers are 7-5 SU and 8-2-2 ATS in their last 12 games as the betting underdog.

With Ben Roethlisberger sidelined, the Pittsburgh Steelers lack their usual explosiveness on offense. Mike Vick was serviceable as a game manager last Thursday against Baltimore, going 19 of 26 with no interceptions, but he passed for only 126 yards in the 23-20 overtime loss.
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Coming off a long week of preparation, it will be interesting to see if coach Mike Tomlin dials up some more aggressive play calling for Vick this week against San Diego. Pittsburgh is 6-1-2 ATS in its last nine games overall.

His foot remains intact, according to the report, but “enough damage has been done” to put Fells’ NFL future in doubt. There has been some good news coming out of the situation. Head coach Tom Coughlin said on Monday that Fells will make a full recovery, though he cautioned that the situation was still not settled.

Earl Campbell Mens Jersey “I don’t think he’s out of the woods,” Coughlin said. “I didn’t say that. I think these three straight days are really a wonderful sign, but there are more tests to be done.”

Coughlin said Fells’ response to the antibiotic treatment is critical. He will undergo more tests on Tuesday and is expected to remain in the hospital for at least a few more days, according to the report.

The Giants beat the San Francisco 49ers, 30-27, on Sunday, and dedicated the game ball to Fells.

The Buffalo Bills have an option to pick up the rest of Tyrod Taylor’s contract by March 11

There is such thing as too soon

When Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya announced he would forego his senior season to enter the 2017 NFL draft, there were a few personnel men who were shaking their heads. One cautioned that Kaaya would be wise not to enter into an oral or written agreement with an agent because it would remove the one back-door escape he has from his decision to turn pro: Underclassmen have 72 hours following the Jan. 16 deadline to submit for the draft to withdraw their name and maintain NCAA eligibility.
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“Golden Tate is just one of those players, you know, he can do so much,” said his former teammate Michael Bennett. “Golden Tate is just a great player. He can catch the ball, run the ball, his YAC (yards after catch) is outstanding.

“He has the weirdest-looking body but he can always make plays. I always think he looks like a bird. I can never understand how that body does what it does.”

Golden Tate has a knack for making defenders miss, and has collected 2,835 yards after the catch since he entered the league in 2010.

A lot of it, Tate said, has to do with the tightness. It has led him to continually work on his releases — after seven years in the NFL, he says that area of his game still needs improvement. Because of that lack of flexibility, he sometimes struggles to get off the line of scrimmage on longer routes.

But that doesn’t seem to stop him. Tate has caught 90 or more passes in three consecutive seasons with the Lions, and he totaled 1,077 receiving yards in 2016 — just two years after finishing with 1,331 yards in 2014.
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More than half of his 1,077 yards this season came after the catch — he was second to Jarvis Landry among receivers in YAC with 611 yards — and that has made him valuable in a Lions offense that features short passes in space.

Why the NBA needs referee reviews

The NBA¡¯s fairly new postgame referee reviews ¡ª called Last Two Minutes reports, or L2Ms — are under fire. They¡¯ve only been around since March 2015, and were intended to provide some transparency around potentially controversial calls in close games.

If a game is within five points at the two-minute mark or regulation or overtime, the final 120 seconds of the game will be subject to a thorough after-the-fact review by the league office. Every call and non-call will be dissected and reported in the L2M, which is typically released the next day.

Boston missed the playoffs last year because they ran out of room in a tight conference, and losses like Monday¡¯s could spell the same doom come April.

The lead up to the NHL¡¯s ninth Winter Classic had a lot of mishaps, but the game itself went off without much of a hitch considering the game could have been delayed until Tuesday due to bad weather. Vladimir Tarasenko¡¯s pair of goals helped the Blues win their first Winter Classic outing, while the Blackhawks slid to 1-4-0 in outdoor games.
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Elite Mens Mika Zibanejad Jersey It¡¯s a trend that absolutely won¡¯t last, but Schneider¡¯s only two wins in his last nine games started have been shutouts. The last was before Christmas against the Flyers, with his latest the 22-save shutout that blanked the Bruins. The normally stalwart goaltender hasn¡¯t had much go his way this year behind the Devils¡¯ defense, with the shutout improving his save percentage to .906 in 28 games.

Don¡¯t look now, but Vancouver is on a four-game win streak. Points in those last four have moved the Canucks into a tie with the Stars and just one point out of the wild card. Yes, the wild card. Just when it looked like the Canucks were cooked, too. Isn¡¯t hockey a wonderful thing?

Washington’s Matt Jones forgets how to football, drops live ball to Bears who are nice enough to give it back

This is one of the weirdest plays you’ll see Sunday. Matt Jones made a great heads-up play to come down with the football in a tipped ball situation. Unfortunately he forgot how the NFL works and dropped the ball on the ground despite nobody touching him.

Jones can be forgiven a little bit. He’s a rookie and to be fair he’d be down in college. This had the chance to be a turnover — but the Bears found a way to give it back. It was nice of Chicago to give him a mulligan.

So, this lack of a chip illustrates the fine line between the chip helping or hurting a tackle. Try to follow along.

If you’re in an offense and you know the back is trying to chip most of the time, you’re able to set for that. Your pass set will be more inside out, knowing you don’t need to worry about a speed rush. The issues on a chip is the defensive end seeing it and reacting with a bull rush or inside move. However, by your set, you should know it’s coming and be ready for it.

Where it gets dicey is twofold. First, when the back’s assignment is inside and therefore the back won’t or can’t help you. If you’re expecting a chip, you better look around and see where the heck the back’s assignment is located.

This is why it’s extremely important to know everyone else’s assignment. Defenses have gotten smarter and will align the running back’s pass protection assignment, typically a linebacker, in the A gap to grab the back’s eyes for a split second, then drop into coverage. Now the back can’t help the tackle. I’ve seen tackles give up cheap sacks in this situation.

Second, is when the back chips on his own, without you having knowledge of this. He gets a poor release or just wants to help on the way out. This is a prime recipe for disaster. Nine out of 10 times the tackle will get beat to the inside because they will have zero idea the back is there to help them.

It’s super frustrating and I understand the back wants to help his guys up front, but it ends up doing more harm. So as a general rule when I played tackle, I just never assumed a chip was coming and if it did, then it was a bonus.

One last clip on running back help. A free release by the back, while the defensive end might interpret that as a chip coming, it isn’t help at all.