The Jaguars will need their entire offense to step up if they hope to pull off an upset on the road.

There’s still a chance Roethlisberger calls it a career following the team’s postseason run, but he gave Steelers fans some hope that he’ll be around a little while longer.

Jacksonville can’t rely solely on its defense against the Steelers, but the Jags have a lot of issues to address on offense:

In fact, the last two weeks have been the Jaguars lowest offensive outputs the entire season. That’s not really how you want to be rolling into the second round of the playoffs, but here we are. It’s a hard issue to pin down, because it’s not entirely on one specific thing causing the issues.

Jay Cutler, quarterback, Miami. Not that this game in Buffalo was a gimme for the Dolphins, but the way Cutler cavalierly threw it away (no pun intended) was notable. After Miami recovered an onside kick with 39 seconds left, down 24-16, Cutler, at his 37-yard line, saw some pressure on first down in the shotgun and it looked like he just threw it up for grabs down the right sideline. It went right into the hands of rookie corner Tre’Davious White. This is what you got for your $10 million relief quarterback on Sunday, Dolfans: no touchdowns, three picks, a 24-16 loss.

He was in attendance on Monday night for the game, and he was on the field for the national anthem before kickoff. He left at halftime though, when Georgia was up, 13-0.

Monday’s championship gave Alabama its fifth national championship since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2007, and he tied Bear Bryant’s AP titles record with the victory.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” was the plaintive wail out of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s mouth, captured by a CBS camera when the Patriots drove their annual stake through this franchise’s heart on Sunday night.

I can just imagine the same kind of emotion, at just about the same time, 450 miles south, in Charlotte. Twenty-eight minutes after the end of Patriots 27, Steelers 24, in a statement that reverberated from the Carolinas to the NFL’s Park Avenue offices, the founder and owner of the Carolina Panthers announced in a blithe statement that he would be selling the team. Probably the best move. blues_1067

The first half was pretty much a worst-case scenario for Washington.

The Dallas Cowboys ended their three-game losing streak in decisive fashion with a 38-14 win over Washington, moving back to .500 and keeping their faint playoff hopes alive. The Philadelphia Eagles will also have to wait to pop the champagne — a Washington victory would’ve clinched the NFC East title for Philly. Washington has now lost five of its last seven games.

Veteran Tramaine is the only cornerback who has started every game for the 49ers this .I’m a big fan of rest as a weapon, explained Boucher.It wouldn’t be hard to find a space for the smaller, slighter to play off Landon Collins’s bruising style the back- has settled quickly on Oakland defense that has demanded plenty of its safeties far.He also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree History and Relations from Brown University.Bon Homme Scotland had a pair of champions route to their eighth place finish with 89 points.his rookie , he played ten games, recording 15 tackles as a backup to then-starting safety .Powell should have a third-down role but is unlikely to enough snaps to be useful.

Oooowwweee… Garrett about Dak “He made some decisions tonight that hurt us.” Wow. I didn’t see it as that as much as the LT sucked again, passes were dropped, and no one else on offense helped very much.

But coach Jason Garrett has to better address the offensive line’s struggles by adjusting his scheme, more chip blocks, etc. The receivers have to play better too.

Dak Prescott: “I think big picture. Coach Garrett couldn’t have put it in better words, giving us our options from 11-5 all the way down to 5-11. It’s up to us to figure out what we want to do. It’s about coming in and getting back to work. We’re going to do that tomorrow.”
titans_034

Bengals got away with tripping J.J. Watt at the end of the first half

The Cincinnati Bengals are facing one of the better defenses in the NFL in the Houston Texans — that includes studs like J.J. Watt.

Late in the first half, Bengals offensive lineman Jake Fisher tripped Watt after getting beat by him to block him from Andy Dalton.

That’s not legal, but no penalty was called on the play. Fisher and the Bengals should have been penalized 10 yards for the infraction. Instead, the Bengals got a field goal to cut their deficit to 10-6 going into halftime.

If you’re going to get away with that type of stuff, you might as well try it against this particular defensive line. It wreaks havoc on NFL quarterbacks.

“However, in the Commissioner’s judgment, there has been no persuasive evidence presented on your behalf with respect to how (the accuser’s) obvious injuries were incurred other than conjecture based on the presence of some of her bruising, which pre-dates your arrival in Columbus on July 16, 2016,” the letter read.

In another incident reviewed by the NFL, Elliott was caught on video lifting up a woman’s top in public at a St. Patrick’s Day parade. Elliott was not charged or arrested, and the league said it wasn’t a factor in Elliott’s suspension. The NFL did, however, say in its letter to Elliott that the behavior was “inappropriate and disturbing, and reflected a lack of respect for women.”

Elliott’s accuser also filed an incident report against Elliott for simple battery with the Aventura (Fla.) Police Department in Feb. 2016. That case was suspended, and Elliott was not charged. The league did not consider that case in its investigation because it happened before he was in the NFL.

Why did Elliott get a six-game suspension when other players didn’t?
Six games is the baseline punishment for first-time offenders who commit domestic violence. This standard was established after the league botched its handling of the Rice situation.
nike_redskins_1847

I think he’s the best man, the best qualified person.

During a Thursday radio appearance on WABC’s (New York) “The Bernie and Sid Show,” Ditka was asked by hosts Bernard McGirk and Sid Rosenberg about the “crusade” by some sports journalists at Super Bowl 51 to make the Patriots quarterback “denounce” his longtime-friend Trump.

“These people are — can I say this — a—holes,” Ditka said.

People having different opinions is what makes America great, according to Da Coach. The Super Bowl-winning leader of the 1985 Bears again professed his support for The Donald.

“I like Donald Trump. I think he’s the best man, the best qualified person. I think he’ll do a great job for Americans. There’s a lot of people out there who don’t think that. But we’ll have to wait and see. Let him do his job first,” Ditka said. “If he can possibly screw it up nearly half as much as Obama, I’ll be surprised.”

Sure, it’s tough to call plays when the whole world is watching, and the team is trying desperately to run out the clock and win its first Super Bowl, but that is no excuse for some of the decisions made by the Falcons’ coaching staff while the Patriots were bearing down on them late in the game.

Atlanta’s first bad play was on a third and one on their own 36-yard line with 8:31 left on the clock. Instead of running, Ryan dropped back and was sacked, which led to a Patriots touchdown and two-point conversion.

The very next drive, the Falcons were faced with a third and 23 after another Ryan sack, this time in New England territory and field goal range. Instead of running, again, Atlanta dropped back for a pass and committed a penalty — though they did miss a New England facemask — thus knocking itself out of field goal range. Atlanta punted that possession, which allowed the Patriots an opportunity to drive down the field and force overtime.texans_084

That did not stop the Bengals from choosing him in the second round.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported only four teams in the entire league even entertained the possibility of selecting Mixon given his plea deal following an incident in which video shows him striking a female Oklahoma student in the face. The video of that circumstance became public in February. The NFL subsequently chose not to invite Mixon to the Combine.

That did not stop the Bengals from choosing him in the second round.

“In making our decision, we took a risk,” Brown wrote in an op-ed piece published Friday in the Cincinnati Enquirer. “In this case, the risk has an upside as well as a downside.”

What Brown fails to acknowledge is his gambles on the upside so commonly lead to the downside.

There were moments before that Bengals-Steelers playoff game when Brown’s misunderstanding of team dynamics took their toll on his organization.

The Ole Miss tackle didn’t have the steepest fall, just the most dramatic, downright cinematic — and that’s not a metaphor. It was a Twitter video of him inhaling marijuana, surfacing minutes before the draft, that scared teams off of him until the Dolphins grabbed him. Before the flurry of quarterback-focused trades, he was the consensus No. 1 pick.

Jack, the UCLA linebacker with the otherworldly skills and the incredibly suspect knee, was bypassed in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, even though he was one of the highest-rated players available. His freefall ended in Jacksonville at No. 36.nike_cardinals_314

NFL’s new head of officiating hire is good news for Cam Newton

Alberto Riveron will be the NFL’s new head of officiating, the league announced Wednesday. Riveron was promoted to replace Dean Blandino as senior vice president of officiating.

Assuming Riveron carries over the traits that made him one of the NFL’s better on-field referees over the past decade, his hiring is good news for one NFL player in particular: Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

Minnesota sent Adrian Peterson packing, and then it saw its free-agent addition, Latavius Murray, deal with ankle surgery. The team was smart to go after Cook, once a mid first-rounder, at No. 41 overall.

The Vikings also didn’t forget to get Cook some much-needed run blocking help in arguably the draft’s top center, Ohio State’s Pat Elflein, in Round 3. Cook should be thrilled that his wait got him a chance to be the next AD.

The best cornerback not taken in Round 1 found a terrific home in Green Bay’s secondary, where it would be an upset, given his size and natural zone coverage skills, if he does not start as a rookie.

Sure, it was nice to get powerful home-run hitter Leonard Fournette at No. 4 overall, but it meant nothing without a physical hoss to improve the Jags’ chances of paving their way for him. Enter Alabama’s Cam Robinson to fill that void in a second-round steal at No. 34.

Like all officials, Riveron had his share of poorly called games and inconsistency — just much less of it. His propensity to call more roughing the passer penalties in relation to other refs at least erred on the side of protecting QBs.

One of Riveron’s assignments during his time as head referee, from 2008 to ’12, was Newton’s first home game as a Carolina rookie in 2011.

nike_steelers_1602

70 years later, Jackie Robinson continues to inspire

Jackie Robinson Day is also the final day of the inaugural Trailblazer Series. The Trailblazer Series is the first ever program hosted by Major League Baseball to celebrate and promote girls baseball. In a time when girls are often shunted into softball once baseball becomes competitive, it’s significant that MLB is promoting baseball as an option for young girls. Some 100 girls from 20 states and Canada were invited for three days of lectures, interaction with coaches and players in women’s baseball, and of course, actual baseball. And to play with only girls, when many of the participants have no choice but to play with boys at home, is a huge thing. The girls will also participate in Jackie Robinson Day festivities at Dodger Stadium to close out their weekend.

Anthony holds a no-trade clause, but many believe he will explore trade options this summer and could have played his last game as a Knick on Wednesday.

It hasn’t been pretty so far, but Dolan has committed to seeing the final years of the Zen Master’s deal through. Now, Jackson has two more summers to bring a winning team back to Madison Square Garden.

Jackson signed a five-year deal as team president in 2014. He and the Knicks each reserved the right to go a different direction after three seasons, as to avoid working through a potential lockout.

But amid the circus show that was the Knicks’ 2016-17 season, team owner James Dolan appeared on The Michael Kay Show on Feb. 10 for a radio interview, where he said he would honor Jackson’s contract “all the way to the end.”

The Knicks are 80-166 in Jackson’s full three seasons at the helm, including a 17-65 record in 2014-15 that was the worst mark in team history.
nike_jets_1401

The Raiders get an upgrade at tight end after the first round now that Jared Cook is on the roster.

Philadelphia wanted to make a big move at wideout to help Carson Wentz in Year 2, and it got a short-term deal to try out Jeffery as its clear-cut new No. 1. Chicago now needs to find some real help for its new starting QB, Mike Glennon.

First, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network confirmed the Raiders were considering reaching out to Lynch, though they hadn’t done so just yet. A source also told Mike Garafolo that although Lynch hadn’t made a decision either way, he continued to think about coming out of retirement.

Florida State has been trending for Moore of late, but I don’t believe he is all that close to making a decision. If LSU is offense looks competent, the Tigers could become a contender. He already has good relationships at Ohio State and Alabama, as well, despite not visiting. And while he and his twin brother Jordan have both said they are open to doing their own thing separately, playing with Jordan at A&M certainly has some appeal. Then, there is the matter of his future position — if he suddenly decides he is committed just to receiver or corner, that could shake things up.

Still, I like the chances of at least three or four of Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State, Georgia, and Tennessee being in his final five.

The Raiders get an upgrade at tight end after the first round now that Jared Cook is on the roster. That puts Clive Walford, who disappointed last season, on the outside looking in.

But the real question: Is the Newton-Olsen-Benjamin triumvirate enough to overcome Oakland is Carr-Cooper-Crabtree connection? Both teams feature similarly competent lead runners, putting the onus of this matchup directly onto the receiving corps. While Newton is ability to run the ball makes him the biggest scoring threat of this showdown, the talent and big play ability of Crabtree and Cooper push the Raiders on to the quarterfinals.18

Michael Floyd dismisses criticism after DUI arrest propelled his path to winning a Super Bowl

Lost in the amazing comeback that the Patriots had in Super Bowl LI against the Falcons was the story of their wide receiver Michael Floyd.

Floyd played the first four years of his career, and 13 games in 2016 with the Arizona Cardinals. On December 14, the Cardinals cut Floyd because of his arrest on suspicion of DUI. Floyd was charged with one count of obstructing a roadway and failure to obey a police officer, along with two counts of DUI.

Two days after being arrested, and one day after being released, the Patriots picked him up off of waivers.

He didn’t play in the AFC Championship or the Super Bowl, and earned more than $1.2 million for his time with the team. Floyd tweeted the following after winning the Super Bowl with the Patriots:

In the replies to the tweet, many people criticized Floyd and felt that he shouldn’t have received a ring. He was on the Patriots because of a DUI arrest, and hadn’t done much in their championship run. In the two regular season games that he did play in for New England, Floyd started one, had six targets, and four catches for 42 yard and one score.

When Floyd came to the realization that people weren’t happy for him because of how he arrived in New England, he brushed it off.

Damn I just realized ppl are really mad that I got a ring. I thought everyone would be happy for me. Oh well. I’m a champion!!

Along with last week’s release of fellow inside linebacker Brad Jones, the team has added over $7 million in cap space. Those resources will come in handy when the team negotiates with soon-to-be free agents Randall Cobb and Bryan Bulaga.

“I think he realized that he had more to accomplish,” MSU teammate Larry Caper says

uring those heat-soaked days of rehab in the late spring and early summer, Bell and Bommarito rehearsed their secret weapon — they were ditching traditional running back drills for full-speed acceleration/deceleration work on a track, training the body to start and stop efficiently without overloading knee joints.

Now, at his locker, which is among the most circulated in the Steelers facility, Bell outstretches his right leg and points to various parts of his thigh and hamstring on his Steelers mesh shorts. When it comes to his command of each run with fluidity, “[the training] made all the difference,” he said.

To unwind after those workouts, Bell would often scan his social-media accounts, retweeting compliments and taking mental notes of doubters. More fuel. Looking for a blueprint for post-knee-injury success, Bell found himself watching YouTube videos of Adrian Peterson’s wildly successful comeback from a torn anterior cruciate ligament on his way to 2,097 yards in 2012.

“He won an MVP,” Bell says. “I said, ‘Why can’t I have a season like that?'”

He got close this year. But play a full season, and Bell might answer his own question. He has a plan for that, too. What’s the goal? Another 2,000? 2,500?

Another smirk, a look down at the floor and a goal quietly spoken into existence.

“I’m trying to get 3,000,” he says.

“He’s definitely about his business and handling things like a grown-up more than ever,” Caper says. “You can tell that difference. Not that he wasn’t before, but life can hit you fast, and I think he realized that he had more to accomplish.”