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Adam Schefter on D&C: Patriots ‘not nearly as formidable’ without Rob Gronkowski 12.09.13 at 10:03 am ET
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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.

Adam Schefter

Adam Schefter

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.”

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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
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Peter King

Peter King

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.”

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Antonio Smith: Patriots ‘spying’ comments were a joke 12.02.13 at 11:08 pm ET
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Antonio Smith backtracked from his comments Monday. (AP)

Antonio Smith backtracked from his comments Monday. (AP)

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.”

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

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Texans coach Gary Kubiak: Patriots ‘priming to make a run for a championship’ 11.27.13 at 12:26 pm ET
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Texans coach Gary Kubiak knows his team has an uphill battle this weekend. (AP)

Texans coach Gary Kubiak knows his team has an uphill battle this weekend. (AP)

FOXBORO — Gary Kubiak is impressed, but not all that surprised.

The Texans coach has been around the league for 30 years — as a backup quarterback with the Broncos, an assistant coach and coordinator in Denver, and now as a head coach with Houston. And he’s seen this from the Patriots before.

“I just see them playing better and better each week,” Kubiak said of New England, who will travel to Houston for a date with the Texans on Sunday. “They’ve obviously got some guys back and [are] getting back to full strength. What they did in the second half last week is, you know, just phenomenal. Their leadership with Bill [Belichick] and Tom [Brady] has been consistent for so many years.

“I see a team priming itself to make a run for a championship. They have a lot of great players and their coaches on that staff are absolutely tremendous and I see them getting in position to go make that run that they usually make. So, I am very impressed.”

To Kubiak’s point, the Patriots offense is only now starting to come together, as tight end Rob Gronkowski, running back Shane Vereen and wide receiver Danny Amendola have been on the field at the same time for two games (Carolina and Denver). As a result, New England has averaged 34 points per game in its last four contests, three of them wins. Add their presence to the already impressive group of offensive options in Stevan Ridley and Julian Edelman — all led by Brady — and you have a lot to deal with if you’re the Texans.

“There are just so many things that they are good at,” Kubiak said. “I mean, they throw the ball as well as anybody in the game. They can line up and run it extremely well too. As they work through some guys being out, it was impressive to watch them work through that.
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Bill Belichick doesn’t plan on ‘doing anything differently’ in light of John Fox, Gary Kubiak health issues 11.05.13 at 9:41 pm ET
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Bill Belichick is ready to take a few days to himself during the bye. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Bill Belichick is ready to take a few days to himself during the bye. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Coaching in the NFL can be all-consuming. It can also be hazardous to one’s short and long-term health.

One needs to look no farther than this past weekend’s developments with John Fox and Gary Kubiak to see proof of that.

Texans coach Kubiak was released from a hospital Tuesday after suffering a transient ischemic attack during Sunday night’s game against the Colts. According to the Broncos, Fox remains “on track” to a full and complete recovery after undergoing surgery Monday to replace an aortic heart valve.

Bill Belichick, who normally gets away to a home on Nantucket, was asked Tuesday if the Fox and Kubiak cases make him think more about taking care of himself and taking extra time to rest during the bye.

“No, I don’t feel that way,” Belichick answered.

His daily routine would suggest the 61-year-old Belichick still takes superior care of himself, preparing for the rigors of the day-to-day demands of the job. He arrives early, runs and exercises regularly before beginning his day of planning, preparation and coaching.

“I’m comfortable with the schedule that I’m on and what I’m doing. I feel about what I feel normally at this time of the season which is good but it’s not like you feel on July 28 when you start the year or whenever it is. I feel good. I’m planning on making it through the rest of the year. I don’t really see, I don’t really plan on doing anything differently.”

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Adam Schefter on D&C: Dolphins OL Jonathan Martin ‘felt threatened, he felt harassed’ by teammate Richie Incognito 11.04.13 at 9:50 am ET
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ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined Dennis & Callahan to discuss the ongoing Jonathan Martin bullying saga with the Dolphins, and the health issues of a pair of NFL coaches.

Adam Schefter

Adam Schefter

Miami announced on Sunday the indefinite suspension of offensive lineman Richie Incognito for his role in the alleged bullying of Martin, the Dolphins’ second-year lineman.

Martin left the team for emotional reasons last week, before Miami’s 22-20 overtime win against the Bengals on Thursday. A voicemail left by Incognito on Martin’s phone was the smoking gun, according to Schefter.

“They went over the transcripts of one voicemail last night, and made the determination to suspend Richie Incognito immediately,” Schefter said, adding: “Richie Incognito is on the Dolphins’ leadership council. … It’s unbelievable to think that he wielded his powers the way that he did.”

The reported trigger for Martin’s absence was a lunch room incident. According to ESPN, Incognito also approached Martin last summer to help fund a trip to Las Vegas with a group of Dolphins players. Martin donated $15,000 out of fear of retribution if he didn’t, but he never joined his teammates.

“We’ve seen in the NFL, veterans take rookies out and rookies picking up big dinner tabs and things of this sort,” Schefter said. “This went above and beyond that. This was an example where Jonathan Martin felt threatened, he felt intimidated, he felt harassed.”

It’s unknown when Martin will return to Miami, and how long Incognito’s suspension will last.

“The union is in a very difficult spot, because it is the union’s job to defend Richie Incognito,” Schefter said. “However, once the union gets a copy of this one particular voicemail, and the instances and text messages, the defense is going to be difficult to do.”

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Gary Kubiak isn’t using a newspaper column as motivation 01.09.13 at 5:12 pm ET
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Texans coach Gary Kubiak isn't publicly using a newspaper column to fire up his team. (AP)

Texans coach Gary Kubiak isn’t publicly using a newspaper column to fire up his team. (AP)

FOXBORO — Texans head coach Gary Kubiak isn’t about to fall into the trap of using a newspaper column as bulletin board material to fire up his team – at least not publicly anyway.

The Texans head coach was asked Wednesday during a conference call with the New England media what he thought of Arian Foster using Dan Shaughnessy’s column in the Boston Globe as motivation for his team this Sunday in the AFC divisional showdown at Gillette Stadium.

“I guess I really don’t know what you’re talking about so it’s hard for me to comment,” Kubiak responded. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Reminded that Foster changed his avatar on Twitter to a few paragraphs from a column that says that this will be a rollover game for the Patriots.

“I don’t get into that kind of stuff,” he added. “We’re just getting ready to go play football.”

Kubiak admitted Wednesday that getting ready to play football this time means not assuming things will get better just because his team was horrible on Dec. 10.

“You’re making a huge mistake if you start saying, ‘If we would have done this, if we would have done that, we would have been fine.’ We weren’t fine, we got our tails kicked. They were very, very explosive,” Kubiak said. “When you look at what they’ve done to some teams in their building this year, they’re sitting there, they got us down 28-7 in the third, they had Denver down 31-7 late in the third, they had Indy down, golly I think it was 49-17, you know what I mean. They’ve really gotten after some teams. Games can get away from you there if you miss opportunities or make mistakes. We’re going to have to come in there and play a 60-minute football game. We’re going to have to step to the plate and make some plays.

“My approach, when you play Bill [Belichick], his football team is such a great organization and well coached team, I don’t think you ever know exactly what you’re going to get. They’re a veteran football team that is able to get a lot done from week to week and game plan wise. You could get a lot of things obviously that you’re not going to practice or haven’t seen on film so I think it’s about what we do and being good at what we do and staying focused on that and getting your players prepared from that standpoint. I don’t think you look at one film and say, ‘OK, this is what we’re going to do.’ I think you have to do what you think you do best and go out there and perform.”

Here is the remainder of the conference call with Kubiak from Wednesday: Read the rest of this entry »

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