|Vince Wilfork proves he always has the back of his teammates||12.23.12 at 6:10 pm ET|
On a day that Tom Brady blasted his own performance and that of his offensive teammates, another Patriots captain – Vince Wilfork -also had a defining moment of leadership.
Late in the fourth quarter, and the Jaguars threatening to tie the game, Chandler Jones hit Chad Henne on fourth-and-goal from the Patriots 10. Patrick Chung picked off the pass at the goal line and returned it to the Patriots 28.
But, during the return, Jacksonville offensive lineman Steve Vallos hit Trevor Scott from behind toward the end of the play. Vallos knocked Scott from behind and face first into the ground. Wilfork saw it and took big time exception with it and retaliated against Vallos. Wilfork was flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty for sticking up for his teammate.
“That was protecting my teammate, plain and simple,” Wilfork said. “You’re not going to sit right in front of me and take a cheap shot at my guy with me standing behind you, that won’t fly. Plain and simple. I’ll probably get penalized for it, I did, but at the same time, you’ll never see me letting my teammates just get cheap-shotted like that with me standing right there.
“It is what it is, it’s part of football. Some people might not like it, some people might like it, but I’m going to do everything I can to protect my teammates,” he continued. “And I was protecting my teammate. But it is what it is, and I don’t think twice about it. If it happened again, I’d protect my teammate the best way I could.”
|Fantasy Football: Week 14 starts, sits||12.07.12 at 9:24 am ET|
Welcome to the Week 14 starts and sits. It’s a high-stakes week and I have found some matchups worth highlighting, but a lot can change between now and Sunday, so stop by our Sunday morning chat if you need any last-minute help or a second opinion on a lineup decision. We’ll kick off the chat at 11 a.m. I hope to see you there. We also have full lineup rankings at Rotobahn.com and I will update them over the weekend, so check that out, too.
Josh Freeman, Buccaneers vs. Eagles
Freeman will get back on track after a few rough weeks of tough matchups. The Eagles at home looks like a get-well game to me. Start the Bucs QB if you normally would.
Matthew Stafford, Lions at Packers
Don’t overthink. Stafford has a few red flags, like injuries to his receivers and a road matchup against Green Bay, but he also has a piping-hot Calvin Johnson to work with, and Stafford himself has played a bit better recently. The Lions also have solid depth players like Tony Scheffler, who can replace guys like Titus Young and Ryan Broyles in the slot. Unless you have a really strong second option, just roll with Stafford in Week 14.
Eli Manning, Giants vs. Saints
He was OK last week despite the medium statistical output. Look for Manning and the Giants to post better numbers at home against a weak Saints defense. I have him ranked 12th overall this week in our preliminary rankings.
Chad Henne, Jaguars vs. Jets
Henne is likely to be playing without Cecil Shorts and already has lost Laurent Robinson for the year. The Jets play solid defense, so this is a situation to avoid for Week 14.
Philip Rivers, Chargers at Steelers
He’s going bad and his team is in turmoil. Throw in a bad road matchup against a very motivated team and you have a reason to look elsewhere. Rivers is viable but very risky and he lacks the upside he’s had in recent years. Avoid him if you can.
|Fantasy Football: Week 13 starts, sits||11.30.12 at 12:06 pm ET|
Welcome to the Week 13 starts and sits. I know it’s a high-stakes weekend for a lot of you GMs. I’ve tried to look at the options that are not totally obvious as I usually do, but there’s no way I can get to every possible scenario. With that in mind, please feel free to join us for our Sunday morning chat, when I can address your specific lineup questions. There are full lineup rankings at Rotobahn.com, so that is another good resource and I’ll be updating the rankings this weekend. Best of luck to all you folks fighting for a playoff berth and props to those who are sitting pretty or playing for a first-round bye.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers at Rams
He’s been very good so far and he gets you points with his feet, which raises his fantasy floor. If you need help at quarterback in Week 13, Kaepernick could be the answer in any league size. He’s actually available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues, which is a joke. This guy should be owned everywhere.
Tony Romo, Cowboys vs. Eagles
Not only is Romo a good play this week, but it would not shock me if he is the best play at the position in Week 13. The Cowboys have a chance to light up the Eagles. Romo is a great option in any league.
Chad Henne, Jaguars at Bills
Need help? Henne can be the answer to your QB problem and he is available in 88 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Start him in Week 13 if you are in need. He has QB1 potential. The one thing to check is the status of his starting receivers, but we expect Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon to play at this point.
Sam Bradford, Rams vs. 49ers
With injuries to his receivers and a rough matchup, Bradford should be avoided despite his modest success in recent weeks. Without a healthy Danny Amendola, Bradford might not have enough options in the middle of the field, and the 49ers will do a good job of taking away Chris Givens on the outside. Look elsewhere if possible.
|Fantasy Football: Week 12 starts, sits||11.25.12 at 8:13 am ET|
Welcome to the Week 12 starts and sits. With so many games having already been played, I’m offering fewer players here than usual. If I fail to cover the player or players that you want feedback on, please feel free to stop by our chat Sunday morning at 11 a.m. We also offer full Week 12 positional rankings at Rotobahn.com.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers at Saints
If you need a quarterback and Kaepernick’s available, I love the move. You might need to be ready to make a switch, and there are limited options due to the late start. That being said, I think he’ll start over Alex Smith. Harbaugh wants to win, and San Francisco has more Super Bowl potential with Kaepernick at the helm. If he starts, I expect good fantasy numbers.
Chad Henne, Jaguars vs. Titans
He’s locked in with no competition, and this is a very good matchup. Henne’s also shown a solid rapport with all of his receivers. If you need a quarterback for Week 12, Henne will work in any format.
Joe Flacco, Ravens at Chargers
He’s just not trustworthy on the road and I’d much rather go with Henne, just to give you a baseline for comparison. Flacco has upside, and he can always have a good day, but you are pressing your luck when you play him on the road against decent competition.
Ronnie Hillman, Broncos at Chiefs
With Willis McGahee out for the year, Hillman should end up being the most valuable back in Denver for fantasy purposes. He is viable in any league and is a legit RB2 option in 12-team leagues.
Fred Jackson, Bills at Colts
With C.J. Spiller now starting, the first instinct might be to sit Jackson, but we’d play him this week in 12-team leagues. The matchup is good and they will still get Jackson the ball enough to be viable, and he is likely to get goal-line touches as he always has. He’s viable this week.
|Dolphins sign David Garrard after missing out on Peyton Manning||03.20.12 at 9:16 am ET|
After missing out on signing Peyton Manning, the Dolphins inked former Jaguars quarterback David Garrard to a one-year deal on Monday. Miami is trying to rebuild at the quarterback position after moving on from former starter Chad Henne, who became a free agent after missing the final 12 games of the 2011 season due to a shoulder injury.
Garrard seems to be Plan C for the Dolphins, who attempted to lure Manning and former Green Bay backup Matt Flynn to Miami before signing Garrard Monday. The 34-year-old, however, is expected to have some competition for the starting role. In a phone interview with The Associated Press, Garrard said the Dolphins still plan to look into signing other quarterbacks.
“They didn’t say for sure they were bringing another guy in, but they said it’s a possibility, whether in the draft or whatever,” Garrard told the AP. “It’s going to be a great competition, and I’m all about that. I’m going to do my best to make sure it’s me on opening day.”
Garrard played his entire nine-year career with the Jaguars and started in Jacksonville from 2005-10, running an overall record of 39-37. In 86 career games, Garrard earned a 90.8 quarterback rating and has thrown for 16,003 yards and 89 touchdowns with 54 interceptions.
Jacksonville released Garrard five days before the season opener last year and replaced him with Blaine Gabbert, who was drafted 10th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. Gabbert threw for 12 touchdowns with 11 interceptions in his rookie season and totaled a 50.8 completion percentage. Garrard’s signing completes a quasi-quarterback swap between the Dolphins and Jaguars, as the Jaguars signed former Dolphin Henne to a two-year, nearly $6.75 million deal on March 14, giving Gabbert some competition for the starting job.
|Artistic Bill Belichick: ‘That was no Rembrandt performance’||09.13.11 at 12:39 am ET|
Maybe spending time on Nantucket has brought a cultural depth to Bill Belichick not previously seen.
Following his team’s 38-24 win over the Dolphins, a game in which his team got 517 passing yards from their quarterback but gave up 390 of their own, the Patriots head coach compared his team to a portrait that is still in the early stages.
But he admitted he’ll gladly take the win on the road but his team has a long ways to go to get where they need or even plan to be come the end of the season.
“Football opening night, a lot of energy, the place was lit up tonight and I thought our guys did a real good job of coming down, being focused, doing their job and trying to block out of a lot of distractions,” Belichick said. “Miami played well, They’ve got a good football team. I just thought our guys made a few more plays. I’m proud of the way they played.
“We’ve got a quick turnaround now. Getting ready for San Diego. We’ll enjoy this for a few minutes but we have to get back to work on those Chargers. Obviously, a lot of big plays in the game.”
Fortunate indeed that the Patriots and Tom Brady were able to connect on plays of 46 yards to Matthew Slater, 30 yards to Aaron Hernandez, 24 to Deion Branch, 23 to Rob Gronkowski and, of course, the first 99-yard play in team history to Wes Welker.
That was good enough to counter the Chad Henne passes of 31 yards to Brandon Marshall, 26 yards to Davone Bess and 25 to Anthony Fasano as the Dolphins threatened to get within one touchdown before a 4th-and-1 stop by the Patriots defense set up the Brady-to-Welker seam of dreams.
“I thought we got good contributions out of all three phases of the game, offense, defense and special teams,” Belichick said. “Hopefully, we can build on that, improve on it. We certainly have a long way to go. That was no Rembrandt performance but fortunately, it was good enough.”
Funny how the Patriots came up with four big plays on the same week that “A Football Life: Bill Belichick” premieres on the NFL Network. In Part I this Thursday at 9 p.m. ET, Belichick chided his team in 2009 before their 59-0 win over Tennessee for not having a single passing play of over 40 yards or a running play over 20 yards. They still have to work on the second half of that equation but safe to say, the passing game seems A-OK.
No doubt Belichick will be reminding his team this week that if they don’t shore up the defensive side of things and cut down on the big plays, the Patriots might not be quite so lucky against Philip Rivers and the Chargers this Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
|Has former Patriots assistant Brian Daboll already gotten the Dolphins into trouble?||03.01.11 at 4:20 pm ET|
Interesting goings on down in Miami — Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne talked to the media about new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, and sounded excited about the new direction that they plan on taking down in Miami. Daboll, a former Patriots assistant, is installing a new system with the Dolphins, one that Henne describes as “similar to what I was used to at Michigan. It’s a New England offense — New England with a little Jets in it. It’s a good offense for a quarterback.”
No shock there, as Daboll made his bones as an assistant under Bill Belichick in New England. Daboll served as the Patriots’ defensive coaching assistant from 2000 to 2001, and then was the wide receivers’ coach from 2002 until 2006. (He was one of the assistants who left with Eric Mangini, becoming the Jets’ quarterbacks coach in 2007 and 2008, and later, serving as Mangini’s offensive coordinator with the Browns in 2009 and 2010.)
However, the voluntary meetings between Henne and Daboll — get-togethers that are apparently designed to have Henne help install the offense with the other Dolphins in case of a lockout — appear to be in violation of the collective bargaining agreement, as interpreted by a recent NFL memo to each team that said players are not to meet with coaches and receive playbooks during this time in the offseason. Henne’s declaration could put Miami coach Tony Sparano in jeopardy of an NFL fine. (UPDATE: It appears that the Dolphins will not be punished, according to Jeff Darlington of the Miami Herald.)
Of course, many former New England players and executives probably aren’t surprised that something like this has happened to Daboll. When Daboll was initially hired by Miami, former Patriots fullback Heath Evans took a shot at the hiring, saying, “The Dolphins probably just got worse. … When he was in New England, he was never a guy that I would have considered the brains of the operation.” And at the NFL scouting combine over the weekend, former Patriots’ GM Scott Pioli was asked by Miami reporters what his memories of Daboll were when they were together in New England.
“I remember that [Daboll] was a part of a great deal of success there,” Pioli said, simply. Whoa.
For their part, the Dolphins are backing Daboll. This past weekend at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, GM Jeff Ireland said Daboll’s track record was what sold him on Miami.
“His history with quarterbacks, his history being a defensive coach and offensive coach. Coach Sparano and myself were really impressed with the way he put a plan together for our offensive players on the football team,” Ireland said. “I wasn’t necessarily looking at what his production was with Cleveland. I know there were some things there that were different, but we’ve got different personnel and the way he presented his play with us with our personnel was very impressive.”
In addition, quarterback Chad Pennington — who played for Daboll in New York and was in Miami the last three seasons in Miami — said Daboll was a tremendous teacher.
“A lot of the coverage knowledge that I have and understanding defenses comes from Brian,” Pennington recently told the Palm Beach Post. “The year I spent with him, I just learned so much about how defenses attack offenses and all of the nuances of coverage that I didn’t understand before.”
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