|Gary Kubiak on Wes Welker: ‘I know he wants to play some more football’||02.18.15 at 1:16 pm ET|
After a report a few weeks back saying Wes Welker was contemplating retirement, it doesn’t seem like the 33-year-old is ready to call it quits just yet, according to new Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak.
Although Welker is a free agent, Kubiak spoke to Welker over the phone — as he did with every every Denver player — and Welker was working out in Arizona.
“I’ve spoken to every player on the team,” Kubiak told reporters at the combine. “It’s the first thing I did when I got there was pick up the phone and call and say hello and let them know how excited I was to be a part of it. But I had a good conversation with Wes. I’ve known him, know people who have known him for many, many years.
“I know he wants to play some more football and, like I said, like any of these free agents we’re talking about right now, we’d love to have them back. We’ll see how this thing works out. But I know he’s feeling good, he told me he’s feeling good and actually was working down in Arizona, I think, at the time I talked to him.”
Kubiak said he will stay out of Welker’s way and ultimately let him make the decision of first of all whether he wants to come back to the NFL, and secondly if that will be in Denver or somewhere else.
“No, I think that’s Wes,” said Kubiak. “No, I do not think that’s my place. I’m just developing a relationship with Wes from his standpoint. I hope I get an opportunity to coach him and be a bigger part of his career. I have great respect for what he’s done and the job he’s done, and he did a very good job in Denver. Only he can work through that and know how he’s feeling, but he was very positive with me.”
Dealing with injuries in Denver, Welker has totaled 124 catches for 1,242 yards and 12 touchdowns in his two seasons as a Bronco, but finished with just two touchdowns this past year. Welker has played 11 seasons in the NFL.
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|Patriots defensive line looks to avoid being cut down by Ravens zone-blocking scheme||01.07.15 at 4:07 pm ET|
FOXBORO — This week, the Patriots will be going against a Ravens’ offensive line that utilizes a zone-blocking scheme. The zone-blocking front operates differently than many traditional lines in that the focus is on clearing lanes and specific spaces as opposed to blocking individual defensive linemen. The goal is to create lanes for a running back or quarterback. In this system, quickness, coordination and technique often trump size and strength.
It’s a philosophy backed by Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, who implemented the system when he was an offensive coordinator in Denver and a head coach in Houston. It’s a system that Bill Belichick has schemed against several times over the years.
It’s also an approach that not all defensive linemen are crazy about, because it also calls for cut blocking — a move that calls for offensive linemen to occasionally dive at a defenders knees in hopes of taking him out of the play. It’s a completely legal maneuver, but one that could ultimately be addressed sooner-rather-than-later in the name of player safety.
When asked Tuesday if Baltimore utilizes cut blocks, Belichick flashed a small smile.
“Is the Pope Catholic?” he replied.
“The same offense they ran in Denver, the same offense they ran in Houston is the same offense Kubiak runs in Baltimore,” he added. “So, all the characteristics from those other teams are the same characteristics in Baltimore.”
When asked about the challenge of facing a zone-blocking scheme this week in the Ravens, veteran defensive lineman Vince Wilfork said the first thing you look for are the cut blocks, utilized primarily in hopes of springing running back Justin Forsett.
“Facing a team like this, they cut block,” he said. “And then, also, they make the play-action pass look the same exact way. That’s probably one of the hardest things to figure out during the course of the play is if it’s a [bootleg] or if it’s a run. And they make it look exactly the same, so that’s a credit to them.
“It’s always challenging to face a team that runs this type of an offense, just because there are so many things that they can do off of it with the cut blocks, with the play-action pass, trying to get the ball vertical, not knowing where the running back is going to cut,” he added. “So, it gives their offense a lot of different areas that they can actually create lanes up front. So, we’re going to have to do a real good job up front of just playing good technique.”
In his first season as a starter with the Ravens, Forsett has done very well. Serving as a multidimensional threat, the Cal product ended the season with 235 carries for 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns, and became the only running back in the NFL to finish with at least 1,200 rushing yards and average at least five yards per carry (5.4). The 5-foot-8, 197-pounder also has 44 catches on 59 targets for 263 yards.
|Do Ravens cut block? Bill Belichick: ‘Is the Pope Catholic?’||01.06.15 at 10:10 am ET|
FOXBORO – Bill Belichick is pretty familiar with the Ravens’ offensive game plan, as he’s faced Baltimore offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak on a number of occasions at Kubiak’s previous stops, which have included Denver and Houston.
One of the fundamental elements of a Kubiak offense is a zone-blocking run scheme, which calls for occasional cut blocks on the part of the offensive line. Cut blocking isn’t wildly popular among defensive linemen, as it calls for offensive linemen to go low to take out the legs of a defender.
Belichick was talking about the Ravens zone-blocking scheme when he was asked if “they cut.”
“Is the Pope Catholic? Yeah, they cut,” Belichick said. “The same offense they ran in Denver, the same offense they ran in Houston, it’s the same offense Kubiak runs in Baltimore. All the characteristics from those other teams are the same characteristics in Baltimore.”
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|Bill Belichick on ‘physically and mentally tough’ Ravens: ‘They keep coming at you’||01.05.15 at 12:06 pm ET|
Saturday’s divisional round game at Gillette Stadium will be the fourth time in the last six postseasons the two teams will matchup, with the Ravens winning two of the last three. Belichick knows exactly what the Patriots will get when the two teams step onto the field Saturday afternoon — a very tough team.
“As usual the Ravens are a solid football team in all three phases of the game,” Belichick said on a conference call Monday. “They are well coached. They are physical on the line of scrimmage, on both sides of the ball. They have explosive skill players on offense, in the return game and on defense. So, I think Coach Harbaugh has always put those types of teams out there with [general manager] Ozzie [Newsome] and their respective staffs. I think that is what we have again. That is what they are.
“They are tough. They are physically and mentally tough. They can play in tough situations and they are talented. They keep coming at you.”
The Ravens defeated the Steelers, 30-17, in Saturday’s wild card matchup and although as a team the Ravens rushed for 49 yards on 25 carries, Belichick noted Baltimore is still a good rushing team — Justin Forsett rushed for 1,266 yards in the regular season.
They are also a threat in the passing game with plays down the field, as per Pro Football Focus on passes traveling 20 yards or more down the field in the regular-season, quarterback Joe Flacco was 21-for-56 with 663 yards and 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
“At the core, they are still a very good running team,” Belichick said. “They are a very good play-action team. They hit a lot of big plays. They are a very good vertical passing team. They make a lot of big plays down the field. They make a lot of big plays in the running game, too. So, it’s not just all passes. A lot of their passes that are big plays come off of play-action — it draws the defense’s attention in the running game and that opens up other areas. They are well-balanced offense that attacks the edge of the defense, it attacks vertically on the defense and it attacks all the intermediate areas as well. They do a good job.”
|Adam Schefter on D&C: Patriots ‘not nearly as formidable’ without Rob Gronkowski||12.09.13 at 10:03 am ET|
ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss the potential season-ending injury suffered by Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, and the team’s third straight come-from-behind victory on Sunday.
New England scored 13 points in the final 2:39 and overcame a late 12-point deficit to defeat the Browns 27-26 at Gillette Stadium. But the win came with a gigantic loss in the big picture. Schefter reported that the team fears Gronkowski tore his ACL, an injury that will sideline him for the rest of the season.
‘There have been some reports that it’s an ACL and an MCL,’ Schefter said, adding: ‘When he’s out there, they average 32 points, without him there they average 20. They’re just a more dynamic offense, a more dangerous offense.’
The Patriots played the first six games of the season without Gronkowski, who was recovering from multiple offseason surgeries.
‘They are not nearly as formidable without Gronk,’ Schefter said. ‘This team has been resilient, it has been crafty, it has been incredibly lucky, remarkable, talented, clutch to come back the way that it has. To think that it could go beat a Denver or a Seattle without Gronk, I’m not going to say it can’t happen because it certainly can, but it just becomes that much more challenging to be able do without a guy like that.’
Gronkowski’s injury history in his young career is becoming extensive. He’s broken his arm multiple times, he’s had back issues in both college and the pros, and he just suffered perhaps the most serious injury of his football career.
‘One of the knocks on Gronk, and the reason that he slipped to the second round to begin with, was a question of his health,’ Schefter said, adding: ‘That was why someone as freakish as him was there in the second round.’
|Peter King on M&M: Matt Schaub to blame for collapse of Texans that cost Gary Kubiak his job||12.06.13 at 1:01 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly Friday appearance on Mut & Merloni, minutes after the story broke that the Texans had fired coach Gary Kubiak.
“I think the Texans were seriously considering firing Kubiak after the first Jacksonville loss, but the problem was the schedule that was coming up — they’ve got the Patriots and then the Jaguars in a short week,” King said, adding: “I’ve felt strongly he was going to get fired for the last two weeks. Obviously he had an opportunity to save himself, but clearly he couldn’t save himself. And that’s what today is all about. You can’t lose to the Jaguars twice in 11 days and lose 11 games in a row and keep your job. It’s ridiculous. I don’t care what injuries they had. The fact is, this is a team that vastly underachieved this year.”
Added King: “The ownership felt like it’s time, we’ve given this guy more than enough time. And they have.”
King placed the majority of the blame for Houston’s collapse on quarterback Matt Schaub.
“You saw in Houston this year how much one single player can influence your franchise. And that one single player — throwing pick-sixes three weeks in a row — was Matt Schaub,” King said. “Matt Schaub imploded. And as nice a guy he is and as much as he’s done for that franchise, he is the guy that got this team on their death spiral.”
The Texans are loaded with talent, making this an appealing job, especially with them in line for a very high draft pick.
“If you have J.J. Watt coming back, you’ve got Brian Cushing coming back from injury ‘¦ you’ve got the basis of a very good defense,” King said. “And you’ve got Andre Johnson. It looks like they’ll probably lose Ben Tate, whose a good running back, but they’ve got plenty — plenty — of talent on that team to contend in 2014. If you add [Louisville quarterback Teddy] Bridgewater to that team, they’re going to be very, very good.”
|Antonio Smith: Patriots ‘spying’ comments were a joke||12.02.13 at 11:08 pm ET|
After saying there was something “fishy” and “highly suspicious” about the way the Patriots were able to make adjustments in the second half of New England’s 34-31 win over Houston on Sunday, Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith quickly backtracked from his comments on Monday, saying it was all a joke.
‘It tickles me how much the country loves the Patriots so much they take everything so seriously,’ Smith told reporters Monday evening. ‘I wasn’t angry or serious and I didn’t say that’s why they beat us.’
After the Patriots rallied from a 10-point deficit with a 27-point second half to pin the 10th straight loss of the year on the Texans, Smith intimated something was up with the way things happened in the second half.
‘You can tell they changed their scheme in the second half,’ Smith told reporters after the game. ‘It’s miraculous they changed some things on offense that keyed on what we put on this week to stop what they were doing. They did things they never did all year before. It was a specific thing that was important to what we were going to do today, as to how we were going to call the defense. We’d not ever did it before, and they never changed like that before. It just let me know that something wasn’t right.
‘Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are among the best at their craft because they work so hard at their craft. But you have to be a descendent of ‘Tones-tradamus’ to know what we put in this week to be able to change that fast. I’ve got the only crystal ball in existence. I don’t know what it is. Either teams are spying on us or something’s going on.’
On Monday, Smith was singing a difference tune, saying he wasn’t aware his comments created such a controversy.
‘I was definitely surprised,’ he said. ‘I didn’t think anything else about it after we talked until I woke up this morning and everybody wanted to kill me on Instagram.
‘My teammates were telling me about ESPN. I don’t really watch ESPN that much, but [my teammates] pretty much got a good laugh out of it, me being the butt of everybody’s jokes today. I had no idea it would have that (kind of) effect.”
Smith said it was taken the wrong way.
‘I said it, but you have to check the manner in which I said it,’ he added. ‘I didn’t accuse them of beating us with cheating. Come on, don’t you have a sense of humor? Though it may be something I was curious about it, I wasn’t thinking they spied on us or they were cheating.
‘Half the stuff I say is spontaneous and witty, and I don’t think anything else about it. I’m sorry I said the word spying. I was joking and having fun with it.’
Asked about it on Monday, Belichick said it was a league matter, while Brady dismissed it, saying he didn’t think much of the allegations. And Texans coach Gary Kubiak didn’t sound like he was too pleased with Smith’s comments.
‘I have the utmost respect for their organization, their players, their coaches, their head coach,’ Kubiak said. ‘I mean, the standard that they’ve been setting for a long, long time in this league. They did a great job (Sunday). They’ve been doing it for a long time.’
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