|Dan Marino on M&M: ‘It’s tough for anyone to make judgment’ on Dolphins situation||11.12.13 at 3:07 pm ET|
Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito drama surrounding the Dolphins, as well as the performance of Tom Brady this season.
The accusations of hazing and bullying of Martin by Incognito is one of the biggest stories of this NFL season and has put a cloud over the entire Miami organization.
“I think it’s just frustrating for a lot of fans and everything, the way everything came about,” said Marino, who was named by the team to an advisory panel to help deal with the matter. “When I look at it, in some ways, I know as much as you guys do about it, because … there’s been a lot of speculation. Hopefully the one thing that I think is important is I saw [Dolphins owner Stephen] Ross on TV, and he’s committed to getting to the bottom of it and committed to fixing it and making things right. That’s the most important thing.
“If you’re not a player in that locker room, it’s tough for anyone to make judgment on it. Until they really get to the bottom of it — the NFL is investigating — it’s hard to make a legitimate comment on it, it really is.”
Not only has the story been a horrible PR scenario for the Dolphins, but it has also negatively impacted the team on the field, as the absence of Martin and Incognito, who was suspended on Nov. 4, have weakened an already faulty offensive line. In their first game since the issue was made public, the Dolphins lost to the previously winless Buccaneers on Monday night.
“When you look at it, you want to be balanced offensively as much as you can, and they’ve been struggling running the football, which makes it hard, especially on a young quarterback,” Marino said. “The fact that they have lost two of their linemen and now are replacing them with two other linemen that weren’t starters — but they were in the game, they did have a chance to win it, but at the same time, you got to make plays when you have to make them, no matter what the circumstances are.”
|Bill Belichick on S&H: ‘I don’t think I’ve really ever had that [hazing] problem with a team’||at 12:40 pm ET|
Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined Salk & Holley on Monday afternoon to discuss New England’s upcoming game against the Panthers, as well as the topic of hazing in the NFL.
The situation involving Dolphins offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito is still a hot topic across the league, as more details are revealed with each passing day.
“I really have a hard time with any kind of judgment on [the Miami situation] because I’m not there,” Belichick said. “When you’re not in the locker room you don’t know how things are done in that environment — what’s a joke, what’s serious, what the interactions are. I really think it’s hard for any of us who aren’t a member of that team to really pass a judgment on what was said, how it was taken, what was accepted, what wasn’t and all that.
“I know there are a lot of opinions on the whole Miami thing, but I’m not one that has one, just because I don’t feel like I have enough knowledge or information about the situation to have an intelligent one.”
Belichick said he does recall any serious problem with hazing with any of the teams that he has coached.
“I don’t think I’ve really ever had that problem with a team,” Belichick said. “I think a lot of it is with the veteran players and how they handle their teammates in the locker room, but every once in a while, if you kind of see something going in a direction you don’t like, then as a coach you have to step in and do something. There have been a couple of little minor things like that, a couple of times during the course of my career, but really not too much.
“When you’re part of a team there is always something that you sort of need to do as a rite of passage to be a part of that team. … There are just things you need to do to become part of a group, and for the group to accept you. I just consider that part of being a team, part of joining a team. We’ve all done it. I think there’s that element, and then obviously there’s another part of it that’s going too far. I’m not talking about that. … So I think there is some of that, but crossing the line where it becomes personal and offensive, that’s a whole different story. I haven’t witnessed or been around a lot of that.”
Added Belichick: “I’m fortunate. I’ve had a lot of great captains through my time here with the Patriots. Those guys are not only great players and great leaders and workers, but they also have a very good sense of what’s right and what’s wrong for the group, for the team in the locker room. A lot of times they can see things that are potentially coming over the horizon that are better to address before they become a problem than after something happens and then there’s hard feelings or maybe a misinterpretation of something.”
The Patriots will have a tough test coming out of the bye week, as they will head down to Charlotte to face the surprising 6-3 Panthers on Monday night. Carolina has won five games in a row, including Sunday’s 10-9 victory over the 49ers, thanks in large part to a stifling defensive unit that has held opponents to just 12.8 points per game this year.
“They’ve really done a good job in the last month or so everywhere,” Belichick said. “They’ve been scoring. I know they only got 10 against San Francisco, but they’ve been in the 30s quite a bit. Defensively, they have a good front, they take the ball away, they have a lot of turnovers and they do a good job in the red area, so they’re just a good team in all phases. … They’re a solid team, they’re well coached, they’re fundamentally sound, they don’t give you a lot of easy plays, they don’t beat themselves.”
|Bill Belichick on his game plan: ‘You never leave fish to find fish’||10.28.13 at 12:25 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Things were hardly going swimmingly Sunday in the first half for Bill Belichick and his offense. Tom Brady didn’t look sharp. The running game was not effective. And the Dolphins managed a 17-3 halftime lead.
But Belichick, who has been on the open seas more than a few times in his life with his boat “Five Rings”, brought up a fishing analogy Monday in his conference call in describing what it’s like to stick with a game plan when the fish aren’t being caught on the hook.
“That’s part of the play calling and decision making in the game. If you have something that’s working, do you keep doing that knowing that eventually a good team on the other side of the field and good players are going to recognize it and put a stop to it? Or do you try to move away from it and anticipate that they’re going to adjust what you’re hurting them with? Then you move onto something else and you second guess yourself, ‘Am I moving away from success too quickly?’ As any good fisherman knows, you never leave fish to find fish. But at some point in the football game against, like I said, good teams, good players, good coaches, they’re just not going to let you keep doing the same thing forever. They’re going to have an answer to it. When do you think they’re going to have that answer and when do you move to something else? When do you stay with what’s successful?
“Occasionally, you get a few situations where it’s easy and you can make that decision right away. You know you either need move on or maybe they just can’t match up every once in awhile you get into one of those situations but for the most part, it’s a little bit of a chess game. The shifting of matchups and shifting the strengths and weaknesses throughout the course of the game, you see it every week and I don’t want to say every game, but most games you see it. There’s an ebb and flow and that’s part of it. Part of it is execution and motivation and just flat out playing. Sometimes though it’s the matchups of plays and players that shift during the game and that affects it too. I don’t know if that answers your question but that’s always the dilemma is when do you move on from something that’s going fairly well before you get it shut down?”
What did Belichick do? Down 14, he decided to stick with the run game until Stevan Ridley broke one for 23 yards up the middle. That singular play seemed to jiggle the fishing rod just the right way and the Dolphins were on the hook. The Patriots scored 24 unanswered points after that run and they won, 27-17.
“I think that’s the National Football League,” Belichick said. “That’s the way it is in most every week in every game. Look, the Dolphins have a lot of great players, a lot of great coaches. They’re very good at what they do, too. They have tough guys to match up on and it’s very competitive, very challenge every single week, no matter who you play. Those guys are working just as hard as we are, have just as much talent, have the same opportunity and they do things that cause us problems, just like we’ve tried to do things that cause other people problems. There’s certainly a punching, counter-punching type of thing.”
The same could be said of the defensive scheme, which included a few more blitzes than normal from a Belichick team. Again, jiggling the fishing rod at just the right time at just the right angle produced results, like when Logan Ryan strip-sacked Ryan Tannehill, allowing Rob Ninkovich to recover and setting up the game-tying touchdown from Brandon Bolden.
|Bill Belichick recalls how Bill Parcells taught him how to manage the winds of change||at 12:11 pm ET|
FOXBORO — As the Patriots were facing a third-and-10 at Miami’s 30 yard line with 18 seconds left in the third quarter Sunday, Bill Belichick recalled the 1986 NFC championship game, and a valuable lesson he learned from Bill Parcells.
“I’d say one of the biggest decisions and most critical decisions that I’ve ever been a part of on that was in the 1986 NFC Championship Game against the Redskins,” Belichick recalled Monday in a conference call. “It was a windy day in Giants Stadium. We’ve had many of those and we won the toss and Coach [Bill] Parcells elected to take the wind which wasn’t very common. It wasn’t a very common decision because, let’s face it, you take it in the first quarter you’re not going to have it in the second quarter.
“That was what he decided to do and we were able to really take advantage of that situation against the Redskins. We got three stops and 17 points and we had a 17-0 lead at the end of the first quarter in part due to the wind, good defense and good offense helped of course. But the field position was huge and that ended up being the final score of the game. That decision, the initial points and the way that the game started really was a huge part of what was reflected in a huge degree to that decision that Bill made. That was a good lesson for me to learn in my career. It was a great decision by Coach Parcells.”
Sunday was another windy day for Belichick, this time with a 20 MPH breeze out of the north and behind the Patriots for 18 more seconds in a tie game. Belichick decided to call the first of his three second half timeouts after second down so he could be assured of holding the wind for the last two plays of the quarter and a potential go-ahead field goal.
Sure enough, third down was an incomplete pass and Stephen Gostkowski was brought on for the 48-yard field goal that would give the Patriots the lead for good. As it turned out, the incompletion probably saved Belichick another timeout. Gostkowski made it easily and Belichick talked about the decision to use the timeout in great detail Monday.
“We were at that point where we were in field goal range but it was a long field goal and it felt like if we changed ends of the field then that field goal range might not be there as evidenced by when we went for it on fourth down in the fourth quarter going into the wind in a similar field position situation,” Belichick said. “When the clock was running there, we wanted to try to give ourselves a chance. Of course in a close game like that, the game was tied at the time, you hate to waste timeouts because they can be valuable at the end, as we’ve seen many times this year, but I felt like it was worth it to be able to have a better opportunity on the kick. Not saying that Steve couldn’t have made it going the other way, I just think it would have been a harder kick based on the conditions that were out there yesterday. Then we threw the incomplete pass and that might have helped us there, because had we completed the pass and not gotten the first down, then that would have been another situation and decision whether to use another timeout to preserve that but fortunately we didn’t have to do that.
“If we had converted, then obviously we would have then gone into the fourth quarter but it would have been closer to the goal line, at least at the start, if we had picked up the first down and then been able to, even if we got stopped, it would have been a kick that I would have felt better about going that direction. It wasn’t just the direction of the wind, there was also significant crosswind that all the specialists had to deal with. Yeah, of course, back to the first days I remember watching football, playing, watching, being a part of it, the wind conditions are always a factor in the kicking game first and then in the passing game.”
|Quick Hits: Mike Petraglia, Chris Price break down Patriots’ win over Dolphins||10.27.13 at 6:25 pm ET|
|Tom Brady on badly swollen right hand: ‘It’s perfect’||at 6:08 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Tom Brady is having none of the talk and speculation that his right hand is in bad shape.
Despite a first half that saw him pass for just 25 yards, throw an interception on the first throw and register a 16.7 quarterback rating, Brady said he is doing just fine.
“It’s perfect,” Brady said.
It’s not bothering him at all?
“Absolutely not,” Brady retorted.
Told that it looks pretty swollen from TV shots (see inset photo), Brady dismissed the analysis.
“I didn’t know [how] anyone knows what the back of my right hand looks like, but it looks fine to me and it feels good. I’ll be out there next week; you don’t have to worry about that,” Brady said.
Brad had a better second half, including a 14-yard TD pass to Aaron Dobson. He finished 13-of-22 for 116 yards and a quarterback rating of 69.5.
|Setting the scene: Patriots host Dolphins at Gillette||at 10:54 am ET|
FOXBORO — It will be seasonably cool and brisk when the Patriots take on the Dolphins in a key AFC East matchup at Gillette Stadium. Partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 50s are expected, with a westerly breeze out of the west at 15 MPH.
Like the Jets last week, the Patriots enter the game with Miami with a significant winning streak, having beaten the Dolphins six straight times dating to Miami’s last win, 22-21, on Dec. 6, 2009. A win would give the Patriots their longest-ever winning streak over Miami. They also won six straight between 1986 and 1988.
The Patriots have swept the Dolphins in each of the last three seasons.
The Patriots also have another significant winning streak, having won their last 13 home games against AFC East foes. The last home loss to an AFC East rival came in Jan. 2011 when the Jets beat the Patriots, 28-21, in the AFC divisional playoffs. The Dolphins haven’t won in Foxboro since the infamous “Wildcat” game of 2008 when Miami ran roughshod over the Patriots, 38-13.
The Patriots are an NFL-best 36-9 in October since 2003 and are nearly unbeatable at home in the month, going 21-1 in that span. The only loss was a 41-17 San Diego win on Oct. 2, 2005.
One week after getting Rob Gronkowski back, the Patriots could get another passing weapon back today as Danny Amendola said he was “healthy and ready to play” on Friday. Amendola got drilled in the second half of Saints game and suffered a concussion. He missed last Sunday’s loss at MetLife Stadium. Amendola came out for warmups in game pants two hours before the game, chatted up a member of the Dolphins in the south end zone and appeared ready to play.
Aqib Talib is expected to miss his second straight game after injuring his hip against the Saints.
Much has been made of the inconsistencies of Tom Brady this season but he has a chance to get back on track against a team he’s had a good amount of success against in his career, especially in Foxboro. Brady has never lost to Miami at home in a game in which he played all four quarters. He is 10-1 overall against Miami in Foxboro, with the only loss coming on Jan. 1, 2006 when he played just the first quarter and Miami prevailed, 28-26. Brady did not play the Dolphins at home in 2008 due to his ACL injury.
The Dolphins still lead the all-time series 50-45 but New England has won six straight, 9-of-10 and are 16-6 against Miami under Brady.
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