Harbaugh brothers are both excitable boys


Harbaugh brothers are both excitable boys

NEW ORLEANS Harbowl? How about Harbawl?
Every coach at every level gets a little exercised. But the Brothers Harbaugh squaring off Sunday in Super Bowl XLVII both get more than a little inflamed on the sidelines.

Jims animation bubbled over during the NFC Championship Game with a tremendous nutty after a replay challenge went against the Niners.
John is a well-known sideline jockey, to the point where he once drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty in a game at New England back in 2009. That doesnt happen often.
Are they talented coaches? As good as any in the league. Guts? Both men made stone-cold personnel calls this year Jim going to Colin Kaepernick and John letting go of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron that were catalysts for their teams.
But it doesnt escape notice that their sideline edge-seeking is very much a part of who they are. And woe to the official who crosses them.
Were pretty competitive guys, John Harbaugh admits. Its football. Its a game. If you cant express yourself on the sideline of a football game and be yourself and let your competitiveness out, where can you? Jim has a lot of fun, hes a competitor and he will always be himself.
To me, theyre different, says Mike Pereira, former NFL VP of Officiating and currently a rules analyst for FOXSports. Jim really is not constant. When he goes, he goes. (Like) the reaction that he had in the (NFC) Championship Game when they didnt reverse the pass that was ruled incomplete on that last drive. He goes quickly off the deep end while John seems to be more constantly off the deep end.
They just get so wrapped up in the game that its really incredible when you see that, marvels Pereira. Its always on TV, people see the way that they act. But, I dont know
NFL history is rife with examples of coaches who lose their marbles with regularity. From Madden to Gruden, from Cowher to Coughlin. When a head coach thinks hes getting jobbed, hes going to make his feelings known. Audibly. Demonstrably.
I guess its just the intensity of the profession, says Pereira. Some internalize it and some dont. And its the ones that dont that you see and hear about. You sit there and try to understand it. Why would they go off and act like that when certainly no official would go off and act like that to them? Its a one-sided thing.
Then Ive always felt that football coaches have control over everything, he theorized. They control every decision thats made whether its what offense theyll run or what player theyre gonna cut. Theyre in charge of everything except officiating. They have no control. I think thats what bothers them the most. They cant control it. So when something happens that goes against them, they may not even know if its right or wrong, they just know it went against them.
Niners special teams coach Brad Seely a guy who can boil over himself was asked about Jim Harbaughs wild side.
He wants to win, said Seely. And hes one of those guys who will do whatever he can to win the game. And if that means getting on the official, that means yelling at somebody, hes gonna do that because hes in the moment. But as soon as the games over, its all forgotten. Hey, hes moving on. I know why he does it. Hes so into the games that hes just trying to compete.
Jims default setting is intense. John, on the other hand, is one of the most personable coaches in the league. Approachable. Open. Candid.
John is really a fun guy, Pereira points out. Off the field with John, hes great to be around. I was on the sidelines with him at the Pro Bowl (in February of 2009) as an officiating representative to go over the Pro Bowl rules and go over violations if need be and we had the best time on the sidelines for about three-and-a-half quarters.
Then he got mad at the line judge and the line judge got mad at him and I thought the flags were gonna be thrown, Pereira recalls. I went to my good friend John Harbaugh and said, John, you gotta settle down and I put my hands on him and he knocked my hands off him and he said, Dont you touch me! I said, Wait a minute, you were just telling me how great it was to have me on the sidelines.
Every coach goes off. Bill Belichicks stoic veneer crumbles when he perceives official malfeasance unfolding and any viewer with the ability to lip read the letter F knows Belichicks protestations are not G-rated.
Given the hypersensitivity of NBA referees and Major League Baseball umpires, its amazing the patience NFL officials show relative to their peers.
Pereira says its an accepted part of the job and NFL coaches are usually just blowing off steam.
I remember the one time when Bill Parcells (coaching the Jets in a game at Miami) went off on me and he didnt only go off on me but he went off on the official on the other side of the field, says Pereira. The next day, he called and left me a message in Sacramento saying that he was ashamed of the way he acted. He asked me to forgive him, although saying, You have no right to even think about forgiving me but I apologize. But thats a rarity.
Given the historic nature of the coaching matchup and whats at stake, there will be no shortage of sideline closeups and reaction shots. And lids will undoubtedly flip.
Weve never really faced something that were facing with the Harbaughs now, says Pereira. Not only do you have the brothers whove been competing against each other. Theyve competed against each other going back to games in their front yards. I think theyve added a little bit of their fathers personality which is somewhat the same.
John Harbaugh was asked if hes ever been asked by a family member to tone it down a bit.
No. Thats never happened, he says. Not one time.
Their parents, Jack and Jackie Harbaugh, confirmed that.
The one thing that we watch and take great pride in is that both of them are themselves. We were around (University of Michigan head coach) Bo Schembechler for a long time and there were a lot of coaches that tried to emulate him. The first time you werent yourself, you were exposed and somewhat of a fraud. So, always be who you are and not follow anyone else.
Thats what Pereira sees as well.
I dont think theyre babies. I dont think theyre bullies. I think theyre real, he says. I think they reflect how theyve been competing their whole lives and I dont think theyre phony about it a bit. But they are excitable.

Hightower on Collins: 'He makes it a lot easier for me'


Hightower on Collins: 'He makes it a lot easier for me'

FOXBORO -- Dont'a Hightower is coming off of one of the best games of his career, and he did it while running the Patriots defensive huddle without the help of his on-the-field partner at the linebacker level.

"It’s a lot more fluent having Jamie [Collins] out there," Hightower said on Wednesday. "A lot of the times we coordinate things a lot together. I usually take care of the front, he takes care of the secondary. We have our own way of doing things. Sometimes Jamie is just like, ‘No, you go ahead and you just make the calls and I’ll play off of you.’

"It helps having him out there. I mean, he does everything so he makes it a lot easier for me. Anytime I can have him out there with me, I’m 100 percent having him out there."

Hightower has plenty of experience playing without Collins, however, and Collins is accustomed to having to go without Hightower. Both had issues staying on the field in 2015, and although it's early, that trend has continued this season.

Hightower missed Weeks 2 and 3 due to a knee injury, and Collins missed Week 6 with a hip issue, meaning the duo has been available to coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia only three times this year. 

Last season the pair was active for 10 of 18 games, including both playoff games, and during a Week 5 win over the Cowboys, Hightower played just nine snaps. Collins dealt with an illness that kept him out for four games last season, and Hightower, as has been the case for much of his career, was limited by (and often played through) myriad ailments.

Both are vital to the long-term success of the Patriots defense in 2016, but it's been hit-or-miss as to when they'll be out there to play off of one another as Hightower described.

"Our linebackers, Jamie, Dont'a, they're two of the best in the league," said safety Duron Harmon following Hightower's dominating performance against the Bengals in Week 6. "Any time we can have those guys out there, they just continue to create havoc.

"They make plays, they make it easier for us, especially me. The quarterback can't look off as long when Dont'a's all in his face -- him and Jamie. Having him on the field is a plus. And when you get both of them on the field it's a double-plus."

And therein lies the issue: Having both Hightower and Collins out there together has felt like a luxury rather than the norm. 

At some point, the Patriots will have to make decisions as to what they'll do at the linebacker level for the foreseeable future. Both Hightower and Collins are slated to hit free-agency, and their durability will certainly factor into the equation when the Patriots make them offers to stick in New England.

Until then, though, both will work to be available as often as possible -- both for their team's sake and their own as they eye new deals -- where they can stress opposing offenses at a degree to which most linebacker combinations around the league can only aspire. 

"With us out there we’re able to do a lot of different things, [we have] a lot of versatility," Hightower said. "So hopefully we can both stay out there."

Hightower was removed from the Patriots injury report last week, meaning he's able to take on a full workload in practice. Collins, meanwhile, continues to be limited in practice, and his availability for Sunday's game with the Steelers is not yet known. In place of Collins, sixth-round rookie Elandon Roberts earned the bulk of the playing time against the Bengals last week. Linebacker Barkevious Mingo saw a season-high eight defensive snaps in the win. 

Thursday's Patriots-Steelers practice report: Garoppolo off the list


Thursday's Patriots-Steelers practice report: Garoppolo off the list

FOXBORO -- The Patriots injury report shrunk again on Thursday. 

One day after Rob Gronkowski was removed from the injury report, the Patriots were able to take backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo off. 

Garoppolo injured his shoulder in a Week 2 win over the Dolphins and then missed the following two games, giving way to rookie third-rounder Jacoby Brissett. He has been limited in practice ever since being driven into the ground by Miami linebacker Kiko Alonso.

Here is Thursday's full practice participation/injury report for the Patriots and Steelers:


TE Martellus Bennett (ankle)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Jamie Collins (hip)
WR Julian Edelman (foot)
DL Woodrow Hamilton (shoulder)
LB Shea McClellin (concussion)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (hamstring)
LB Elandon Roberts (ankle)
DL Vincent Valentine (back)


T Marcus Gilbert (ankle)
DE Cameron Heyward (hamstring)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (left knee)
S Shamarko Thomas (groin)
C Cody Wallace (knee)
WR Markus Wheaton (shoulder)
RB DeAngelo Williams (knee)

S Robert Golden (foot)
S Michael Mitchell (knee)
LB Ryan Shazier (knee)