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NFL officiating chief: Moving Dont’a Hightower before snap ‘not unusual’

10.17.14 at 1:16 pm ET
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NFL’s VP of Officiating Dean Blandino joined NFL Network’€™s “NFL AM” Friday morning to discuss the much-discussed Jets field goal attempt at the end of last night’€™s game. Here’s a brief excerpt of what he said:

On the referee tapping Patriots linebacker Dont’€™a Hightower on the Jets field goal attempt:

“€œThis is a standard officiating mechanic. We call it preventative officiating. Because it’€™s a player safety rule, we’€™re trying to avoid a situation before it happens so the umpires will get in there and move that player out of there. More often you see it when a player is in a three-point stance and he is down on the line of scrimmage and you’€™ll see the umpire tap the player to move him out of that because we have to be outside the framework of the center. So this is really no different than the line of scrimmage officials pointing out the line to the wideouts and it’€™s a standard mechanic. Not something that would be unusual by any means.”

On if it is on the player to know where he can and cannot be:

“€œIf you watch the play, what [Dont'€™a] Hightower is actually going to do, he’€™s going up to the line to make a line call because then you’€™ll see the defensive line shift. Then he’€™s going to back out. So it is on the player to understand that but we will in certain situations warn players to prevent things from happening, especially when it’€™s a player safety issue and trying to prevent a potential injury situation. Ultimately it’€™s on the player but this is something that has been a mechanic ever since this rule has been in place and like I said, not unusual.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

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Adam Schefter on MFB: ‘There’s a lot of people whose jobs are in jeopardy in New York right now’

10.17.14 at 1:09 pm ET
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Adam Schefter

Adam Schefter

ESPN’s Adam Schefter made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Friday to analyze Thursday’s Patriots-Jets game and discuss other NFL news. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The heat is on Rex Ryan in New York, as the Jets are 1-6 after Thursday’s 27-25 loss. Although Schefter noted the Jets “played hard” Thursday and clearly have not quit on the season, he acknowledged, “Rex certainly is on the warmest of warm seats right now.”

“I think there’s a lot of people whose jobs are in jeopardy in New York right now. Whether it’s just Rex, whether it’s Rex and the GM, that’s something that they’re going to have to make a decision on here,” Schefter said, adding: “It’s rare that you see too many in-season changes, or changes before Thanksgiving. Once we get to Thanksgiving, to me, all bets are off. Because if you want to go hire a coach like Mike Holmgren or Mike Shanahan or somebody that’s on the street or on the sideline or in the college ranks, it gives you a chance to get a running head start in an above-board, legal, ethical kind of way.”

During his appearance on Middays with MFB on Thursday, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith claimed general manager John Idzik “sabotaged” Rex Ryan by giving him a weak roster. Schefter disagrees with that assessment.

“I don’t believe that John Idzik sabotaged Rex Ryan,” Schefter said. “I do believe that John Idzik’s approach is not the way that Rex Ryan would approach it. John Idzik had Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the cornerback, in the building [in the offseason as a free agent]. Darrelle Revis was interested in playing for the New York Jets. John Idzik didn’t get the deal done on Rodgers-Cromartie — the Giants eventually signed him for a price that [Idzik] was unwilling to pay. He didn’t call Darrelle Revis, reach out, for whatever reason. John Idzik’s approach on this is very methodical and patient and conservative. And that’s just not the kind of guy that Rex is. Rex is, ‘Get me a corner. Let’s go get that cornerback right now. And if we have to pay more money, so be it.’ That’s what he wants to do.

“I don’t think that Idzik intentionally sabotaged the roster. His job is in jeopardy, too. So by sabotaging Rex he would be sabotaging himself, maybe. But it’s just the way that he does his business. He’s a very smart Ivy League guy with a financial background, where he ran the cap in Seattle and obviously looked over financial issues and is very careful with the way he spends his team’s money — which in many cases is good. Except when you’re 1-6 like the Jets are, people are screaming for blood and demanding answers, they want to know what’s going on, and right now he’s in the crosshairs of that.”

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Read More: adam schefter, John Idzik, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady

Former NFL official Jim Daopoulos on MFB: Referee’s decision to move Dont’a Hightower on FGA ‘was the right call’

10.17.14 at 11:33 am ET
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Former NFL referee Jim Daopoulos joined Middays with MFB on Friday morning to discuss the controversy surrounding the field goal attempt at the end of the Patriots-Jets game from Thursday night. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Jets attempted to kick a game-winning field goal on the final play of the game. However, Chris Jones blocked the try to seal the Patriots’ win. Before the kick, Dont’€™a Hightower was lined up in front of Jets long snapper Tanner Purdum, which would have been a five-yard penalty.

Before the snap, though, a referee alerted Hightower to move out of the area. That raised the ire of some in New York, but an NFL spokesman said Friday morning that it was “standard operating procedure.”

Said Daopoulos: “It’€™s what we call preventive officiating. It happens many times during a game. It can happen when situations are going on down field, you may talk to a defensive back and tell him to keep his hands off of the receiver. On the line of scrimmage, you may tell a player, ‘Hey, watch yourself, your hands are getting out too wide.’ We see too many flags nowadays, and this is just one of the ways that officials are working to keep the flags down. It was exactly right last night.

“Unfortunately, all of the officials don’€™t work like that, but it was the right call.”

While telling a player to move is one thing, some feel that the grabbing and nudging of Hightower went a little too far. Daopoulos said it’s within the referee’€™s right to do this.

“It’€™s exactly what you need to do,” Daopoulos said. “You give him a little slap on the backside and tell him to move himself over, get off the center’€™s nose, get into the gap. It’€™s not a big deal. You’€™re not going actually grab him and physically move him, just give him a little slap and say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to move.’

“Just kind of let him know that he’€™s out of position. And it’€™s not anything that’€™s illegal, it’€™s something that most officials do. The better officials do it all the time.”

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Bill Belichick on Jonas Gray: ‘This is an opportunity for him’

10.17.14 at 10:46 am ET
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Jonas Gray

Jonas Gray

In wake of running back Stevan Ridley being lost for the season, the Patriots needed to add depth at the running back position.

Prior to Thursday’s game, the Patriots signed Jonas Gray off the practice squad and he was active for the game over rookie running back James White — who had been on the 53-man roster since training camp broke but only has appeared in one game.

“I think Jonas has been solid for us all the way through preseason,” Bill Belichick said on a conference call Friday. “He’€™s done a good job in practice. He got an opportunity last night — not a lot of opportunities, but he had some blitz pickup opportunities, had a few carries. He works hard, he’€™s a tough kid. [He'€™s a] bigger back obviously, more in the [Stevan] Ridley size range. He played for us in the kicking game as well. [We'€™ll] keep going with that. This is an opportunity for him. Unfortunate the way it came out, but he’€™s worked hard. He deserves it. We’€™ll see what he can do with it.”

Thursday was Gray’s first ever NFL game and he finished with 12 yards on three carries.

By our count Gray played only 11 snaps, but that was second among running backs as Shane Vereen played 47 and Brandon Bolden had just one. Moving forward it seems likely Belichick will ride the hot hand each week — based on performance, as well as game planning against their opponent.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Jonas Gray, Stevan Ridley,

Rodney Harrison on D&C: Rex Ryan’s Jets team ‘just seems unprepared each and every week’

10.17.14 at 10:34 am ET
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NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday to discuss the Patriots’€™ win over the Jets on Thursday night. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

New England narrowly defeated the Jets, thanks to a blocked field goal by Chris Jones on the final play of the game. The Patriots used a bend-but-don’t-break approach on defense, which Harrison said they shouldn’t have done against the Jets and quarterback Geno Smith.

Said Harrison: “I think it directly applies to what type of team you play. I like that against, say, a Peyton Manning or a Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, a high-scoring offense with potentially a quarterback that can beat you in so many different ways. But when it comes to Geno Smith, one of the worst quarterbacks in the league, I don’€™t agree with that. I still think [Bill Belichick] could become a lot more aggressive, play a lot more man-to-man coverage. And you force him to make those tight throws.”

The Jets ran a solid game plan against the Patriots, running for over 200 yards while not committing a single turnover. They also limited Tom Brady‘€™s time on the field. In the end, though, the Patriots still won.

“[The game plan] didn’t work to perfection because if anybody knows playing against the Patriots, when Tom Brady is halfway on, when you get to the red zone, you have to score touchdowns,” Harrison said. “You can’€™t continue to settle for field goals. I think that’€™s a big mistake. When I look at the Jets, with all that being said, you look at what happens week in and week out, and obviously that wasn’t the case last night in terms of turnovers. But you look at the blown coverages, you look at the mistakes on the defensive side of the ball, you look at the mistakes, period, across the board. And you start to wonder, is it the players’€™ fault or is just the lack of coaching? And this team just seems unprepared each and every week. … I think you have to look at the coaches in this situation, not just the players.”

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Week 7 NFL picks: Whose line is it anyway?

10.17.14 at 10:01 am ET
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During the first couple of weeks of the season, I waxed poetic about how the NFL is a fickle lover and how trying to predict games was a total crapshoot. I implored you to ignore anyone claiming to know anything about the NFL before delivering my own thoughts. At the time, it was a convenient goof, a way to protect myself in case my picks were terribly inaccurate. But now, after six weeks, my record stands for itself. While others may know nothing about the NFL, I truly have my ear to the grindstone. So, no, don’t listen to other bloggers, analysts or talking heads, instead you should listen to me. S. Barnaby Covers clearly is the smartest man in the room and he drops hot knowledge on a weekly basis. On to the picks!

Falcons +7 at Ravens

I consider myself an expert on the city of Baltimore, and not just because I have seen “The Wire” six times. Rather, one time I took a class dedicated entirely to analyzing the sociological implications and narrative structure of the show. As if that past sentence didn’t already let you know, I graduated from a liberal arts college, so after the class I really felt like if not physically, I, at least intellectually, or even metaphysically, KNEW the city, you know?

I genuinely hate everything about the Ravens organization, but because of my “Wire”-based education, I could never hate the people of Charm City. Especially not when their accent is so damn funny. That incoherent rambling just tickles my fancy. Whenever I hear it, I completely forget about how Ray Lewis probably did his sack dance murdering that guy. So people of Baltimore, THIS PICK IS FOR YOU. Joe Flacco, the elitest quarterback in the league, is going to tear through a a mediocre Falcons team. Old Bey and Mayonnaise sandwiches for every one! Especially to the members of the Natural POH-Lice

Pick: Ravens -7

Bengals +3 at Colts

If this game was decided based on the crude and dimwitted nicknames I gave the starting quarterbacks, I would pick Andy “Red Rocket” Dalton over Andrew “Ugly Quarterback” Luck. “Red Rocket” simultaneously serves as an allusion to a great South Park moment and a subpar hamburger chain. “Ugly Quarterback” merely describes Andrew Luck‘€™s face and the position he plays. Good thing for the Colts, my attempts at humor have no bearing on the football match. The Colts have won four in a row and Ugly Quarterback is putting up insane numbers. T.Y. Hilton is a tiny man who can run like the wind blows. Also, ever since Tom Brady remembered how to play football, the Bungels have forgotten how to defend the pass. The Red Rocket will shrivel up once he sees Ugly Quarterback taking off his helmet to celebrating his fourth touchdown pass.

Pick: Colts -3

Chiefs +4 at Chargers

I feel like the rest of the media has entirely jumped on the San Diego Super Chargers bandwagon, but why hasn’t Vegas? All of the power rankings have the Chargers as a top-five team, yet they only are a four-point favorite at home? Phillip Rivers has eight kids, and you think the Chiefs are going to slow him down? HA! HA, I SAY. Rivers is two times the man Alex Smith is, and four times the lover. Chargers win big, sneaky Eddie Royal fantasy game, book it.

Pick: Chargers -4

49ers +6.5 at Broncos

I actually am making this pick based primarily for football reasons rather than traditional Peyton hate. The Broncos have not dominated teams on the scoreboard this year. Their first two wins were by one touchdown, and last week before the Aqib Talib pick-six, they were only up seven on the Geno Smith-led Jets. (Sidenote, Talib still is my dude.) The 49ers have won three in a row and it looks like their defense has adjusted to early injuries to the roster. The Broncos can’t really run the ball either, so I expect the Niners to deliver a heavy pass rush. I really wish I was getting a half-point, because I think there is a good chance the stupid Peyton Manning still wins the game. God, he is such a touchdown-throwing ninny muggins.

Pick: 49ERS +6.5

Texans +3.5 at Steelers

I can’t decide whether to stick with the Steelers for another week. Two weeks ago, I called for Antonio Brown to be nicknamed “Nino Brown,” and he hasn’t scored a touchdown since. Then last week I picked them to win, and the Browns dropped chocolate all over them. I really should pick against them this week, especially when they are going up against defensive cyborg J.J. Watt, but I really don’t want to get burned if Ben and Nino have a breakout game. Also, I have real problems with Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s beard. He looks like an embittered veteran of the Confederate Army who just hangs around in the 1870s complaining about how “we used to BUILD things in this country.”  JUST DEAL WITH RECONSTRUCTION RYAN FITZPATRICK AND SHAVE YOUR BEARD.

Pick: Steelers -3.5

Last week: 3-1-1

Season: 18-9-3

NFL spokesman: Official moving Dont’a Hightower on late FG attempt ‘standard officiating procedure’

10.17.14 at 9:43 am ET
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Dont'a Hightower

Dont’a Hightower

The Patriots and Jets can’t have a last-second field goal attempt without some controversy.

At the end of Thursday night’s game, the Jets lined up for a 58-yard field goal attempt. Nick Folk’s kick was blocked by defensive lineman Chris Jones, who gained a measure of redemption for last year when he was whistled for a penalty in a similar situation in a Patriots-Jets game. (That opened the door for a second-chance field goal from Folk to give the Jets an overtime win.)

A video review of the play from Thursday night reveals that linebacker Dont’a Hightower approached the line of scrimmage shortly before the snap and stood in front of Jets long snapper Tanner Purdum. According to the rules — specifically, Rule 9-1-3(a) — this is a five-yard penalty. However, an official grabbed Hightower’s arm and appeared to encourage him to move to the outside of Purdum’s shoulder pads.

This has raised the ire of some Jets fans, who believe the Patriots should have been penalized and Folk been given another chance at what would have been a 53-yard field goal attempt. However, a league official told Pro Football Talk on Friday morning that the maneuvering by the official in that situation is fairly common.

“It is a standard officiating procedure that occurs regularly,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said by email.  “€œIn fact, it is on [NFL vice president of officiating] Dean Blandino’€™s video that went to the teams [Thursday] and will be on the version of it that goes to the media [Friday].”

That was echoed by many of Twitter Friday morning.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Chris Jones, Dont'a Hightower, Nick Folk,
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