Super Bowl XLVII Gameday Walkthrough: Lots of everything


Super Bowl XLVII Gameday Walkthrough: Lots of everything

NEW ORLEANS -- Will Ed Reed end up in New England? Slim chance. But -- until he re-signs with Baltimore -- there is a chance.So the words of Dean Pees, the Ravens defensive coordinator who held the same job in New England from 2006-09, are insightful when it comes to the player Tom Brady once called "Ed Belichick."
"(Reed) knows and studies film enough that he can tell maybe bythe quarterbacks mechanics or body language or the formation that he can setsome guys up," said Pees. "And very few quarterbacks can do it. (Peyton) Manning can do it. Brady cando it. They can put the safety where they want and hit what they want. (Reed)is kind of the opposite. Hes one of the few safeties Ive been around who cando that. "Tom Brady can be looking this way and know hes going thatway and make the safety flip so that he can get the seam," explained Pees. "Ed can go this way,make you think hes going that way when he knows youre going back to the seam.Theres not a lot of guys that have the innate ability to do that." As for handicapping the likelihood of Reed being a Patriot, Pees said of Belichick, "He loves Ed. But the thing about Bill is, Bills always abouttwo years ahead of where he wants the team to be. Thats what to me is whyhesalways done well in the draft and free agency. He doesnt think about next yearas much as he thinks, Heres how the teams gonna go, heres whos gonna beleaving in a couple years. He is really unbelievable that way."
Patriots owner Robert Kraft met with Boston media and a few national interlopers on Friday. He was, as one would expect, a little nostalgic about being in New Orleans for a Super Bowl and not having his Patriots take part in it as they did in the last three Big Easy SBs ('85, 96 and '01).
"Sunday is 11 years to the day that we were in the Championship game," said Kraft. "All the karma of everything going the right way (in 2012) but it didn't happen."

The grieving process for the Patriots 2012 season continues for Kraft.
"It's hanging right here in the pit of the stomach," he said when asked if he was over the loss yet. "I know our fans feel it because I've gotten so much mail. I haven't gotten this kind of mail from sideline coaches . . . comments with suggestions. It's hard for people who aren't passionate to understand. You have this expectation and you're doing so well and BOOM. It's over. It's sudden death."
The result against the Ravens didn't shake Kraft's faith in his quarterback and head coach.
"They're so special," Kraft said. "Bill and Tom (Brady) together have proven what they can do and I personally believe that they're still both the best at what they do so that gives us a great chance every year as long as Tommy's healthy."
Kraft is optimistic (and with good cause) about his team's future.
"Our team is more youthful this year than it's been in a long time," he said. "I like this team a lot. We played 72 quarters and in only seven of them did we not score any points. And never did we have two of them together. It's unfortunate the last half of the last game we lost . . . but that's why people love the NFL. You never know what's gonna happen."
New Orleans is a terrific place to visit because of its "Let the good times roll" feel and God bless the people here who've endured a ton. But it's only right for a visit if you arrive here in a certain frame of mind. It ain't the place to go if you're looking to relax in luxurious surroundings. Or even tidy surroundings.

A two-for-one celeb sighting: Friday night at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Root, Neil Patrick Harris walked in with three friends and sat in the main dining room. About 20 minutes later, Alec Baldwin came in with the missus and sat down near a window on the other side of the room. The only person who bugged Baldwin was Harris, who walked across the room to spend a few minutes at the combustible actor's table.

I asked Colin Kaepernick about his tattoos during media day. He's got 11. He got the first when he was 19. He plans on getting a few more. The first one he got was the one he said he considers most appropriate this week. It's Psalm 18:39 on his arm which reads: "You armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet."

The NFL awards, voted on by a 50-member panel the Associated Press has chosen, were announced Saturday night. I've had a vote since 2006 and the two toughest calls for me this year were Coach of the Year and Offensive Rookie of the Year. Those were the only categories where I ended up outside the majority as I voted for Russell Wilson for OROY and Pete Carroll for COY. Robert Griffin III and Bruce Arians were the winners. Why Wilson and Carroll? Start with Poodle Pete.
The Seahawks signed free agent quarterback Matt Flynn to a 19 million deal with 10 million guaranteed in the offseason. But once Carroll saw the level at which Russell Wilson could play, Carroll made the ballsy move of going with Wilson over Flynn from Day 1. The Seahawks went 11-5 and allowed the fewest points in the league. Their list of impressive wins over Green Bay, New England, Minnesota, at Chicago and San Francisco was testimony to the level Carroll got them to. And being a head coach begins in the spring so Carroll did it all through the offseason and training camp.I understand the votes for Bruce Arians. To be told, "OK, you're the head coach, good luck," on October 1 and to get that team -- which won two games the previous season -- into the playoffs was remarkable. The Colts also finished 11-5. They beat the Vikings and Packers and won at Detroit and Tennessee and knocked off the Texans in the regular-season finale. And the Colts had a rookie quarterback too.
It's nothing that Arians didn't do to earn the award. It's what Carroll did in the NFL's toughest division with a rookie quarterback that wasn't supposed to be the starter (or the second coming of Peyton Manning).
As for Wilson as OROY, I eliminated Luck quickly. He threw 18 picks, fumbled it 10 times, had a completion percentage of 54 and a QB rating of 76.5. That he got more votes (11) than Wilson (10) is befuddling. This contest was between Wilson and RG3.
RG3 went 9-6 as a starter, had 20 touchdowns and a mere five picks. He completed 65.5 percent of his passes and ran for 815 yards in addition to the 3,200 he threw for.
But the Redskins beat just two playoff teams -- the Vikings and Ravens -- and it was a decidedly down year for the NFC East.
Wilson not only had to win the job as the Seahawks starter he had to win more games against better competition than Griffin was able to. And he did it while throwing with virtually the same effectiveness -- 26 touchdowns and 10 picks, a 64.1 completion percentage.Again, I understand the RG3 sentiment. But the quality of wins and the odds overcome by Wilson made him my guy.

That Mitch Ross says we have two brains shows the gullibility and practical intelligence of his consumers.

It doesn't matter how big a moron or buffoon he is. What matters is does the deer antler crap have a banned substance in it, and did he take it.

The NFL's decision to extend the Rooney Rule to open coordinator positions is, to me, a tremendous step forward. The numbers this offseason looked awful -- 15 head coach and GM jobs opened up and no minority candidates hired despite the league's efforts to poke, prod and direct NFL owners to choose minority candidates.
That Andy Reid was the sexy offseason candidate after two awful seasons to close out his Philly tenure was appalling. But that kind of narrow-minded hire of a "name" coach seems more incestual to me than racist.
Listen, if Tony Dungy wanted to coach, he'd have a job in 1.7 seconds. And if Mike Tomlin lost his job in Pittsburgh and wasn't running a team the next season, I'd be disturbed.
They are names. And damn good ones. And owners want "names" because it makes them feel better that the team is in the hands of an experienced coach.
Owners aren't going to respond to fiats from the commissioner -- the guy who works for them -- to hire a black coach if they feel there is a better candidate in front of them who happens to be white. They don't do well making decisions at the point of a bayonet (to borrow a phrase from former Augusta National Chairman Hootie Johnson when he was challenged on female membership at his golf club).
And when Goodell said on Friday, "We want to make sure we have the best people in the best possible positions. We didn't have the outcomes we wanted," it seemed to me he was mixing a message.
Does he mean, the best people should be hired but he doesn't think the owners hired the best people in 2012? Or does he mean the best people should be hired, and he'll be disappointed if there are no minorities judged to be among the best people? What I do know is this: NFL owners need to get to know promising minority coaching candidates before they are brought in for a head coaching or GM interview. And ensuring owners are present for those interviews at the coordinator level will help do that. That way, when a Perry Fewell or Ray Horton walks into meet the owner for a head coaching position, the owner knows and has met him previously. Or has an ownership peer who has.
Make owners know minority candidates BEFORE minority candidates are brought in to interview for head coaching positions and more open-minded results should follow.

Meanwhile, the fact the Washington Redskins still play under a nickname so blatantly offensive to a minority group is so incongruous with everything the league is about.
Asked about that on Friday, Goodell tap-danced
Growing up in Washington, I do understand the affinity for that name with the fans, Goodell said. I also understand the other side of that. I dont think anybody wants to offend anybody. This has been discussed several times over a long period of time. I think Redskins owner Dan Snyder and the organization have made it very clear that theyre proud of that heritage and that name and I believe fans are, too.Honestly? Who gives a crap how proud Snyder is of a nickname which invokes the color of a minority people's skin tone?
It's so counter to everything the NFL says it's about. Except that it helps commerce. And, well, that's really what the NFL at the highest levels is about, so . . .

The luck runs out for the Ravens on Sunday. They're playing a legit defense (unlike New England brought), quarterback who can throw the ball more than 15 yards (unlike Denver brought), and a running game with a dual-threat quarterback (unlike Indy brought). We're looking at a rock fight.
Prediction: 49ers 24, Ravens 13

Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots


Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots

Marcus Cannon has had his run as a piñata. The Patriots offensive lineman is a frequent target when things go wrong up front and, usually, he’s deserved it.

A bit of anecdotal evidence? 

Sunday, I tweeted that every time I watched Cannon, he was making another good play.

On cue, about 10 tweets came back at me with variations of “Keep watching him!”

I asked Bill Belichick if he agreed with the layman’s assessment that Cannon’s playing well.

“I think Marcus [Cannon] has done a good job for us for quite a while,” Belichick began. “I mean he’s stepped in for Sebastian [Vollmer] and then last year when Nate [Solder] was out [and he substituted] for Nate. He has played a lot of good football for us.

“We extended our agreement with him off of his rookie contract which I think speaks to the fact that we want him on the team and we like what he’s doing and so forth and he’s continued to I’d say show with his performance [that he has] validated the confidence that we have in him.”

Cannon’s ending to 2015 – a poor performance (along with the rest of the line) against the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game was followed by a performance against the Cardinals that was marred by late-game holding calls.

But with Sebastian Vollmer injured (and still injured) it was sink or swim with Cannon which had plenty of people rolling their eyes.

But – as I said – every time I see Cannon, he’s either holding off a defensive end in pass protection, steamrolling downfield in the running game or making really athletic second-level or cut blocks in the screen game.

“Like every player, as they gain more experience they do get better,” said Belichick. “I think our offensive line’s certainly improved over the course of the year and playing with more consistency than we did last year. But there’s always room for improvement and the continuity that we’ve had there since (right guard) Shaq [Mason] has gotten in the last few weeks – we had Shaq over on the right side a little bit at the end of the season last year and then this year most all of the year except when Shaq was out for a few weeks there at the end of training camp and the start of the season – but our overall consistency and communication on the offensive line has been better because we’ve had more continuity there so that helps everybody.”

It can’t hurt that the lineman whisperer, Dante Scranecchia, has returned to coach the group. Cannon’s conditioning and physique looks better. He just appears more athletic and explosive. And he’s seemed more relaxed in the limited time the media’s in the locker room.

All off that added up equals nobody really talking about Marcus Cannon.
“Like any lineman, the less you call his name probably the better he’s doing,” said Belichick. “It’s probably a good thing when you guys don’t talk about him. Then that probably means they’re not doing something too noticeably wrong, right?”