What is going on with Tim Tebow and the Jets?

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What is going on with Tim Tebow and the Jets?

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Tim Tebow would have done whatever Rex Ryan asked -- if the New York Jets coach had asked him.Ryan acknowledged Monday that Tebow wasn't happy when the coach chose Greg McElroy to start for the benched Mark Sanchez, but insisted Tebow was willing to play in any role Sunday against San Diego -- including the wildcat."He was disappointed, there's no question," Ryan said Monday. "He was disappointed that he was not named the starter, but with that being said, I'm not going to get into private conversations that I have with players, but it was my decision to use Jeremy Kerley in the wildcat, without question."But I'll say this: I believe if Tim's number was called, he would've went in and played. I don't think there's any doubt about that."A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that Tebow asked out of his wildcat offense duties last week after hearing that McElroy, the third-stringer, would get his first NFL start over Tebow, listed as the No. 2 quarterback.Another person, also familiar with the situation, said that wildcat plays involving Kerley instead of Tebow were added before practice last Wednesday.Both people spoke on condition of anonymity because the Jets do not disclose personnel discussions.ESPN New York first reported that Tebow opted out of running wildcat plays. ESPN also reported that Tebow said his relationship with Ryan was "strained" for a few days, but they smoothed things over. Ryan had all three quarterbacks active for Sunday's 27-17 loss, but Tebow never got onto the field in any capacity.Ryan did not deny that Tebow asked out of running wildcat plays, but also refused to go into any details of what happened."I've been transparent and all that stuff without question, but I'm not going to give you a private conversation that I would have with a player," Ryan reiterated. "That's between him and I. If he wants to share whatever the conversation is, Tim or anybody else, then that's up to him."Ryan was also asked if it could be considered "insubordination" if a player refuses to play in a role designed for him."You guys are assuming something's a fact or whatever, and that's fine," Ryan said. "If I would have asked Tim to play in anything, Tim would have gone into the game and done that."After the game, Tebow would say only that "it just happened" that he didn't play in the wildcat package. He has done his best to hide his frustration throughout what he could consider a lost year on the playing field."Well, it's been disappointing," Tebow said of the season. "Obviously, it didn't go as we thought, as I had hoped, but sometimes in life you have that. Sometimes you have setbacks and you just have to look at them as another opportunity for you to step back up and keep working and figure out what to do."New York will either trade or release Tebow after the season, a disappointing and frustrating one-year stint with the Jets that just seems to get worse. Tebow was asked after the game if he could remember the last time he had played so little."Three or 4 years old, probably," Tebow said. "Since I started."Tebow has not played a single snap in four of the last five games, although some of that inactivity was due to him breaking two ribs at Seattle on Nov. 11. He has been cleared to play, and got a full offensive series at quarterback last Monday night at Tennessee, but Ryan confirmed that Tebow "still has two cracked ribs."The Jets (6-9) were eliminated last week with their loss to the Titans, and Ryan announced after the game against San Diego that McElroy -- despite being sacked 11 times -- would start in the season finale at Buffalo. Whether Tebow actually plays in that game or has taken his last snap with the Jets remains to be seen.Tebow was acquired from Denver in a stunning trade last March and expected to be a major contributor to the offense. He has been only a role player -- whenever he actually plays."I thought we'd do some better things out of that wildcat," Ryan said. "It hasn't happened. I'm not blaming it on Tim Tebow. I'm sure there's multiple reasons, but for whatever reason, it has not had the results that I envisioned for it."Some reports have Jacksonville interested in bringing Tebow in to compete for its quarterback job next season. The Jaguars were the only team other than the Jets that tried to trade for Tebow last year, plus it would be a homecoming for Tebow if he played in Jacksonville."I'm not pulling the tampering thing," Ryan said. "Tim's under contract with us and that's all I know."Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey told Jacksonville reporters that he wasn't aware of reports that his team looked into pursuing Tebow before the trade deadline earlier this season."I am not going to talk about that," he added. "I don't talk about other players on other teams right now."NOTES:Ryan was still disgusted by how many times McElroy was sacked by the Chargers on Sunday. "The 11 sacks and all that, that's as poor as I can ever remember as far as the pass protection was concerned," he said. It was the most a Jets QB was sacked since David Norrie in 1987 against Dallas -- a game played by replacements. ... The Jets waived WR Mardy Gilyard, who had two catches for 15 yards in three games for New York.

Belichick: ‘I don’t think you can be afraid of free agency’

Belichick: ‘I don’t think you can be afraid of free agency’

FOXBORO – We’ve mentioned – a few thousand times – that the Patriots have a fleet of key free agents up at the end of the 2016 season.

There’s Jamie Collins, Donta Hightower, Jabaal Sheard, Duron Harmon, Martellus Bennett and Logan Ryan. Malcolm Butler, meanwhile, will be a restricted free agent. How does the team maintain its laser-focus on the games of 2016 while knowing that – if these business decisions aren’t addressed – the games of 2017 could look starkly different.

I asked Bill Belichick Friday morning about stealing a glance at the business side of things and planning for the future while the season’s ongoing.

“In general there’s some team planning you can do,” Belichick said after noting the team’s immediate focus is currently on Sunday’s game with the Bills. “Sometimes, if you can work out a contract with a player during the season – we’ve done that with various players – if you can work it out, you work it out. If you can’t, then there’ve been a number of players that we’ve signed – our players – that we signed once free agency has started. Devin [McCourty] to pick a name.

“I don’t think you can be afraid of free agency,” Belichick continued. “It’s not like if a guy gets to free agency you can’t re-sign him. You’re in a competitive market but, you know, you’re in a competitive market anyway.”

There are things that occur now, that could occur this weekend that can drastically impact every plan laid. It’s my impression that the Patriots are slow-playing this free agent class. Waving lucrative extensions in front of players before knowing how they’ll make it through this season and before knowing what their appeal will be on the open market is short-term satisfaction.

It will satisfy the players who want the security and it will squelch hand-wringing that EVERYBODY’S GOING TO LEAVE in the media.

Long-term, it’s risky.

Consider Donta Hightower. He’s got a knee issue that’s kept him down two games. He played three-quarters of the year in 2014 and 2015 and this year isn’t trending better. He brings absolutely everything the Patriots want in a player except the durability. The onus is on them to factor that into any contract offer they extend. Meanwhile, the onus is on Hightower to – if he isn’t getting what he and his agent feel he can command – to find out if another team will give him different terms if the Patriots’ aren’t suitable.

As Belichick pointed out, “These guys know that they have other options depending on who the player is and what the situation is. They have other options but we know there’s only so much money to go around. If you can work it out, then you have that security. If you can’t then you have your options. They have their options, we have our options. That’s professional sports. I don’t think that’s anything revolutionary. I don’t think it’s different than any other pro football team or any other pro team. You see the same in all the other sports.”

In general, the Patriots have shrewd free agent operators. Pulling the ripcord on Darrelle Revis and Wes Welker were two of the tougher calls made in recent years. Both decisions caused howling from the fanbase and predictions of doom from the media. Both were prescient decisions.

Teams splinter when the seasons end. And the second-guessing about the business decisions is inevitable.

“It’s been that way … since we had free agency,” he said. “That’s what it is. That’s the way it is in all sports. Basketball season’s over, you’re talking about a few guys going here, going there, staying with their team, whatever. You’re not gonna be able to get around that. Even if we were to sign a couple of those guys or whatever that is, there’s gonna be a couple of guys that aren’t so you can talk about those. Same thing we come in here Monday after every game. Somebody had production [but media asks], ‘But what about these guys this guy didn’t catch that many passes, this guy didn’t get that many carries.’ There’s always those guys to ask about. There’s no simple answer to it.”

This season, the questions seem even more challenging.  

 

Spooner working on his draws to help become a more complete center

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Spooner working on his draws to help become a more complete center

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Ryan Spooner quickly ticked off face-offs as one big area that needed improvement headed into his second full NHL season with the Bruins and the speedy young center has most definitely put in the work thus far in camp.

Still, it didn’t translate in Spooner’s first preseason game in Wednesday night’s lopsided loss to the Red Wings as he finished 4-for-16 on the draw, and to add insult to injury: he also served a two-minute minor penalty for a face-off violation that led to a power-play goal. 

The skilled center made up for it at the other end by setting up a score for fellow speed-demon center Austin Czarnik as Boston’s only goal, but he was again back out on the Warrior Ice Arena sheet working on his draws again Thursday.

“I wasn’t great on my face-offs [against Detroit] trying to cheat a little bit too much. I think I just need to maybe just bear down a little bit more,” said Spooner, who finished at a very lackluster 42.8 percent success rate on face-offs last season. “[I need to] not try to win them clean, maybe just tie them up a little bit more. I was just trying to cheat on those [face-offs], and it didn’t work.”

Clearly, the draws were a contributing part of the problem in the rough loss to the Red Wings and it’s something Spooner will need to iron out before he’s fully trusted by the coaching in the nitty-gritty situations late in games. That was obvious at times last season. It’s something Spooner wants to change this season when there’s so much competition at the center spot, with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, David Backes, Dominic Moore, Noel Acciari, Riley Nash and Czarnik all considered natural centers.

“When you start with the puck then the game is so much easier,” said B’s assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. “For Spooner [face offs] are important. I don’t want to speak for Claude [Julien], but he does have the luxury now of playing Spooner with guys that can take draws in his place if he wants to go down that road.

“At some point he’s going to have to improve [on the draw]. I think he wants to [improve on the draw] and he’s working at it, but the numbers aren’t where they need to be for him obviously. That’s the challenge Claude has going forward, but I think he can still get out on the ice and help you, even if he’s deficient in the face-off circle, and if he has some wingers that can help him.”

Spooner has employed veteran center Moore to give him some pointers while the two have worked out together in training camp and, in theory, it should be a big help for the young third-line center. Moore is one of those trusted veterans that is used in key face off situations with positive results, and is a left-shot player who can show the 24-year-old the exact techniques to help him.

Spooner said that getting face-off tips from Bergeron or Krejci had a limit to its helpfulness because those are right-handed centers doing the absolute reverse technique that a left-shot center would employ. Moore downplayed his role as a bit of a face off mentor, but the statistics, and his reputation on the draw would indicate he’s got plenty of knowledge to offer a second-year player.

“There are a lot of little things in the game, face-offs being one of them, that you learn through experience, and you want to try to pass it along to help make the team better,” said Moore. “[Spooner] is eager to try and improve a little bit every day. Part of face-offs is trying to get an edge any way that you can because they’re such a hotly contested thing.

“It’s definitely not easy, but if you have the right mentality then you try and build it up. You just have to approach it on a daily basis, commit to it and try to improve as best you can.”

Like so many things in life it would seem face-off ability is about putting in the work as much as it’s about natural-born skill and Spooner is putting in the hours to be a more complete center and trusted part of the team.