Boston Red Sox

Jets owner says Tebow trade was all football

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Jets owner says Tebow trade was all football

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The bump the Jets will get from Tebowmania? An ancillary benefit, according to owner Woody Johnson.

Speaking at the NFL Owners Meeting Sunday at The Breakers, Johnson fielded questions about the most discussed trade for a soon-to-be-backup quarterback in NFL history.

"Lemme be really clear about this: We work for the fans and the fans want us to win games, so all of the decisions we make regarding the team are just for football," said Johnson.

Seemingly segueing to Tebow's popularity (Johnson has a meandering speaking style), the owner added, "It's hard to predict other things. If you get confused as to what your mission is, you're not gonna accomplish your mission. Our mission is to win games, pure and simple. We think Tim Tebow has been a winner all his life. If you look back to his high school career, maybe when he was a little kid, I don't know."

The Jets -- ever concerned about making sure Mark Sanchez is propped up -- have been careful about making it known Tebow is a backup.

"I think Tim Tebow will be a good addition to the team," said Johnson. "From a football standpoint he adds flexibility, versatility, he's a great athlete -- he's a big athlete. He can do a lot of things besides being quarterback -- besides being the backup quarterback.

Asked if he's concerned about how the sometimes jittery Sanchez responds to having a full-fledged cultural phenomenon ready to take over for him, Johnson pooh-poohed.

"I'm really not (concerned)," he said. "Being an NFL quarterback is among the toughest jobs you can have from a pressure standpoint. From an athletic standpoint, etc. Pressure is something Mark doesn't have a problem with. Either does Tim Tebow from what I gather, I don't know him very well. But Mark is very, very good. We've all seen in the fourth quarter. Wish he'd get better in the first quarter perhaps, but in the fourth quarter. . .

"He realizes he's got to make some improvements," Johnson added, referring to Sanchez. "And the reason we signed him to the extension that we did is that we have so much confidence in Mark and the body of work that he's given to us and the fans I think made it seem meritorious to us to extend him. So we did."

There's been a fair amount of eye-rolling already about Tebow holding a press conference Monday. Johnson pinned it on media interest and said the Jets were only trying to be accommodating to the media.

"It really was driven by you guys, not by us," he said, somewhat dubiously. "The press conference will be tomorrow and will be large but it's basically in response to the news media that wants to follow it. It's an interesting story I guess and they want to do that.
If you asked us to have a news conference for every one of our players, we'd probably do it."

And that, perhaps, is just another of the Jets' problems.

Eduardo Rodriguez's delivery wasn't the same after knee injury, until recently

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Eduardo Rodriguez's delivery wasn't the same after knee injury, until recently

BALTIMORE — If you suspected Eduardo Rodriguez’s knee created a residual effect with his mechanics as he struggled in the second half, you were correct. 

It was here in Baltimore on June 1 that Eduardo Rodriguez hurt his right knee, suffering another subluxation, which he’s prone to. Once he came back — a month and a half later, after the All-Star Break — his performances didn’t match the competency he’d shown pre-injury.

Through the first nine starts back, Rodriguez had a 5.47 ERA. He appeared clearly outside of the playoff rotation picture.

The last three outings have left a different impression, and are a product of improved mechanics. The Red Sox feel Rodriguez is lifting  right leg, his lead leg, higher now.

“I think Eddy’s regained more confidence physically over his last three starts,” pitching coach Carl Willis said. “We’ve seen a better delivery. Really since he had come back the injury here, a little bit of abbreviated leg lift. He finally got a little more confidence in picking that knee up and getting a little more drive from his lower half. I think that’s made a huge difference. He’s using his changeup more which is also a huge difference, but I think that lower half has allowed him to do that.”

Rodriguez has a 2.55 September ERA. He has strikeout ability that could be appealing in a postseason setting, but he’s young and inexperienced compared to Rick Porcello and Doug Fister. The fact he’s had confidence issues with his delivery could factor into how the Sox decide their playoff rotation, but his upside and strikeout potential are undeniable.

Rodriguez had a knee subluxation in 2016 that affected his mechanics for a time as well.

Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

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Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

FOXBORO - If Alan Branch is worried about his spot with the Patriots, he isn’t acting that way. A notorious slow starter, Branch played just six snaps in Sunday’s win at New Orleans. And to hear him talk, it’s business as usual.

“It’s not like you can practice 3 technique on a store clerk,” said Branch late Wednesday afternoon. When informed that he probably could if he wanted, Branch smiled and noted “you’d probably get arrested for that.”

All kidding aside, it was stark to see Branch’s ample behind stapled to the bench. He earned a two-year contract this offseason, and his presence on the interior has been critical to the defense’s success. But after getting pushed around a bit too often in that opening night loss to the Chiefs, Branch spent a lot more time watching then playing. Did he know that he wasn’t a big part of the plan?

“That’s another question you gotta ask Bill, man” said Branch. “That’s not something I can talk about.”

Branch has - at times - come off as nonchalant about the game. Wins, losses, big plays, no plays, none of it seems to change his demeanor. Knowing that, I asked him if he was frustrated by his lack of playing time.

“I mean every player wants to be on the field so it is what it is,” he responded. 

Does he think that he’ll be more involved Sunday against the Texans?

“I don’t know what they plan to do with me,” he said. “i just need to go in there and keep my head to the grindstone and work.”

That may be Bill Belichick’s plan: sitting the player to motivate him. It would also seem to be potentially the last resort, and with someone who clearly marches to the beat of his own drum, it’s unclear how he’ll respond.