Dolphins star plans to get ejected on MNF

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Dolphins star plans to get ejected on MNF

From Comcast SportsNet
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) -- Preparing for Monday Night Football, Brandon Marshall dropped a pass during drills Thursday, picked up the ball and gave it an angry boot. Not that emotional outbursts take practice, but Marshall said he's planning a prime-time doozy. The mercurial Miami Dolphins receiver complained Thursday that he has been playing with his emotions in check and will show more passion Monday against the New York Jets. "My goal is to get thrown out midway through the second quarter," Marshall said. He mentioned that objective four times during a 12-minute interview session. When asked if he was joking, Marshall said no. "I'm serious. They want to fine me, it'll probably be like a 50,000 fine. But I'm going to play. That quarter and half I'm out there, I'm going to play like a monster." In July, Marshall disclosed he was diagnosed earlier this year with borderline personality disorder, which stems from such things as a negative self-image and a fear of failure. On Thursday, he said efforts to keep his emotions on an even keel have hurt his play. The two-time Pro Bowl receiver has 22 catches this year but only one touchdown, and he's tied for third in the NFL with five drops, including three in the end zone. Any deficiencies have been magnified because the Dolphins are 0-4. "The past four games, it's been tough for me trying to control some things," he said. "I'm just going to let it out. I don't care if they have two, three cameras on me, I don't care if I have penalties. It doesn't matter. I'm going to let it all out. "I'm best when I play emotional, I'm best when I play with passion, and you guys are going to see that on Monday Night Football. I don't know if it's throwing a football 15 yards into the bleachers and getting a 15-yarder, or punting the ball and getting thrown out of the game, but something is going to happen." Marshall's pledge comes with the offense in transition because of quarterback Chad Henne's season-ending shoulder injury. Matt Moore, who will make his first start with the Dolphins, arched his eyebrows when told that Marshall said he hoped to get kicked out in the second quarter. Would a more emotional Marshall be a good thing? "Um, I don't know. Now it's like I'm a doctor," Moore said. "Brandon's got to be himself. Everybody's got to be themselves. He's going to be at the emotional level he needs to be at to be at his best. How about that answer?" Coach Tony Sparano said Marshall at his most fiery would help the Dolphins, and he wasn't concerned about penalties or an ejection. "Obviously Brandon is 50 percent kidding," Sparano said. "I know one thing about that guy -- he's not going to do anything to hurt this team. The people in that locker room are important to him. "But sometimes on the field he's bigger than life when he gets the ball and starts rolling. He can be that way. I think that's the part Brandon is talking about." Marshall had 86 catches for 1,014 yards last season, his first with the Dolphins. But his streak of three successive 100-catch seasons ended, he scored only three touchdowns, and he twice drew penalties for tossing the ball to the sideline after a play. Toward the end of last season, Marshall said he had been too boring, and he's again intent on stirring things up. A Dolphins official tried several times to end Thursday's interview session, but Marshall kept talking, saying he discussed criticism he receives with members of his support group. "When you go through the things we went through, it's like you feel like you've got to be perfect," Marshall said. "That puts you in this bubble, and it's kind of uncomfortable. You're not human if you don't have bad days. "I've been living in a bubble a little bit, trying to control myself instead of being me. You've got to be able to turn that switch on and off. On Monday Night Football, I'm going to turn that switch on and be a monster. When I catch a ball, I might bang my head with a football. I might get into a shoving match with somebody. I might get a penalty. But I'm going to play like I usually play."

Patriots make Floyd a healthy scratch for AFC title game

Patriots make Floyd a healthy scratch for AFC title game

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will go with four receivers against the Steelers as Michael Floyd has been listed as a healthy scratch for the AFC title game. 

PATRIOTS-STEELERS PREGAME

The Patriots had all five of their wideouts -- Floyd, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola -- available to them for Sunday's matchup, but they're opted to use the four who are most experienced in the team's offense. 

Hogan (thigh), Mitchell (knee) and Amendola (ankle) were all listed as questionable going into the weekend, but all have been deemed physically ready to play as their team vies for a Super Bowl berth. 

Floyd had his worst game as a member of the Patriots last week in the Divisional Round against the Texans. On two routes, both slants, Floyd ran the pattern in such a way that there appeared to be some miscommunication between him and quarterback Tom Brady. One was picked off and the other was almost picked. 

Floyd admitted as much last week, saying that there are still intricacies to the Patriots offense that he needs to pick up -- including exactly how Brady wants certain routes run.

Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans last week but felt optimistic soon thereafter that he'd be good to go for the conference championship. Mitchell hasn't played since suffering a knee injury against the Jets in Week 16. 

Other Patriots inactives for Sunday include quarterback Jacoby Brissett, running back DJ Foster, offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle, safety Jordan Richards and corners Justin Coleman and Cyrus Jones.

Haggerty: For better or worse, Bruins need to make a call on Julien

Haggerty: For better or worse, Bruins need to make a call on Julien

The Bruins coach and leaders in their dressing room spoke out this weekend, and their words all basically spread the same supportive message.

Claude Julien and his longtime players aren’t ready for a change at the head coaching position for the Black and Gold and they hope the longtime bench boss is in Boston for as long as possible after 10 mostly successful years on the job.

Still, it may not go down that way this season with real pressure on B’s management, coaches and the players to end a two-year playoff drought. Things are currently going pretty badly with the Bruins in the middle of a three-game losing streak before facing the reigning Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday afternoon.

The heat has been dialed up as high as it’s ever been on Julien in his 10 years of employment with Boston and everybody seems to know it.

“Right now we’re all confident in Claude, and we all want to be here and play for him. If [saving Julien’s job] is the extra motivation you need for the games then so be it,” said Patrice Bergeron. “But we’re all professionals and we’re here to win hockey games. I’ve said this before that I’ve been with Claude for 10 years, and he’s the guy that I believe in and that I want to play for.”

Similarly, the Bruins captain has been with Julien for the long haul in Boston and has worked closely with the coach keeping lines of communication open in good, Cup-winning times and bad, non-playoff times. Chara bestowed Julien with every bit the endorsement that Bergeron did, and it’s clear much of the core group wants to keep the longtime coach in place.

“We don’t pay attention [to the chatter]. Claude is our coach and Claude will be our coach. We have confidence in him,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “He’s proven to be a coach that does a lot of good things for this organization. We just have to come up with some wins, battle it and we’re all in this together.”

One thing that’s a legitimate question: Is the devotion of players like Chara and Bergeron toward Julien a defining reason to keep the longtime coach?

There isn’t a sense the Bruins have tuned out their coach, as can happen in dysfunctional NHL situations, but there is a feeling that longtime B’s players with status are pretty comfortable with iron-clad no-movement clauses in their contracts and a relationship with the coach where there’s a level they may not be getting pushed toward very often.

Comfort isn’t always a good thing in an NHL dressing room and it’s felt altogether too comfortable at times in some of those no-show performances from the Black and Gold over the past couple of failed seasons. 

For his part, Julien doesn't think that was the case and intends on continuing to work his way through the struggles with a mix of youth and veteran players who clearly have enough to be a playoff team.

“If we’re going with what we said we were going with and there’s going to be some growing pains along the way, so be it,” said Julien. “I think we put ourselves in a position earlier in the year where we could all of a sudden believe that we’re a playoff team...absolutely. I still think we’re a playoff team. Whether we can do it or not we’ll find out at the end of the year, but my job is to do everything I can to get us into the playoffs and that’s what I’m going to do.

“As far as the [firing] rumors are concerned, they’re out there and I know that. But I don’t worry about it because worrying is wasting a lot of my time. And my time is spent trying to fix things here.”

It would be ridiculous and pointless to compare this season’s Bruins roster to the groups that won Cups, made it to the Finals twice and even won a President’s Trophy in 2013-14. Clearly, this particular roster isn’t as deep, or as difficult to play against, as those talent-stuffed hockey clubs, but this team also has enough high-end talent that they should edge teams like Toronto, Ottawa and Philadelphia out of a playoff spot.

This is where the theoretical move to fire Julien comes into play.

The Bruins are at a critical stage of their season where things are slipping away from them and the team is showing some of the maddening characteristics of the past two seasons.

They are unprepared to play on too many nights. They take opponents lightly on too many nights particularly in the past couple of months. A tiring Tuukka Rask isn’t able to bail the team out as much as he was in the first couple of months. Because the Bruins are being strangled by a roster of immovable players with no-trade clauses and can’t even entertain trading their blue-chip prospects Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy, the trade options just aren’t there for Don Sweeney and Cam Neely right now.

It would take a brilliant, creative GM to swing a hockey deal that could pump life back into the reeling Bruins. The B’s front office hasn’t shown those qualities in the past few years running the team. Instead, they have GMs from other teams lining up and making one-sided offers to the desperate Bruins in hopes that Sweeney/Neely will buckle under the pressure to push into the playoffs this spring.

So, the only impactful card the Bruins can play is firing a coach in Julien who probably isn’t the coach of the future when the next generation of B’s prospects is ready to go. The hope is that move can light a fire under their meandering hockey club if it doesn't start reeling off some wins in a row. An argument can be made that a coach such as current assistant Bruce Cassidy could get more out of some of Boston’s younger players they’re relying heavily on this season. The former Providence Bruins coach might fit a little better into the overall philosophy that management is looking to instill.

It might just be that making a coaching change is the best midseason card that Bruins management has to play given all of the circumstances.

Still, the one thing that B’s management can’t do is keep Julien twisting in the wind and answering all the questions about his future with no clear vote of confidence from his bosses. Julien is the winningest coach in Bruins history and led them to their glorious Stanley Cup run in 2011. He’s earned a wealth of respect around the league for the professional, classy way he’s always conducted himself on and off the ice and he won’t be out of work long if/when he is relieved of his duties on Causeway Street.

So, if the Bruins intend to make the move with their coach then they need to do it sooner rather than later.

People around the NHL are watching the Bruins intently to see how they handle this situation with a world-class coach in Julien, and Neely and Sweeney continue to be radio/TV silent, despite the Bruins media requesting to speak with them on Friday morning in the throes of their losing streak.

It’s high time for Bruins management to step up and make a decision on Julien for better or for worse, and treat him the way they’d undoubtedly like to be treated if it were them suddenly in the danger zone should they miss the playoffs again this spring.