Sparano expects to see Brady on Sunday


Sparano expects to see Brady on Sunday

By Danny Picard

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick said Wednesday that he doesn't worry about "the standings and the records and all that" when entering a game.

He doesn't have to this week. Not only has New England clinched the division and the top seed in the AFC playoffs, but Miami -- the team that Pats are playing -- is eliminated from the playoff race. The game is the textbook definition of "meaningless," at least as far as the standings are concerned.

There are some things that matter. Retaining health, staying in-sync, and achieving personal milestones all come to mind. (Among the personal milestones: BenJarvus Green-Ellis is 72 yards shy of his first career 1,000-yard rushing season.)

Still, Belichick says -- publicly at least -- that none of it matters, that they just get ready to "go out and compete" every Sunday.

And so, Dolphins coach Tony Sparano thinks he'll see a lot of Tom Brady on Sunday.

"I would expect to see a great deal of him," said Sparano in Wednesday's conference call. "I mean, from my end, I think that, I'm sure the Patriots, they want to win their 14th football game. So, I would expect that they're going to go out there and do everything in their power to be able to do that. Most teams going into the playoffs, the way they're going into the playoffs, want to go in as hot as they can be."

At 7-8, Miami isn't postseason bound. But if the Dolphins were going to the playoffs, and they had achieved everything the Patriots have, what would they do?

"I would do whatever's in the best interest of my football team," said Sparano, doing his best Belichick impression. "I don't think there's an obligation one way or the other. I just think you've got to do what you feel is best for your football team. I'm sure that's part of the philosophy in New England."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on

Randy Moss: Roger Goodell is 'biggest reason' for NFL's problems

Randy Moss: Roger Goodell is 'biggest reason' for NFL's problems

With the NFL facing more PR issues by the day, Randy Moss has identified what he feels is wrong with a league that can’t seem to stay out of trouble.

In wake of the Josh Brown situation, which saw the NFL blame the King County (Wash.) Sheriff’s Office for the lack of initial punishment given to the Giants kicker for domestic violence, Moss said on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown that commissioner Roger Goodell is the league’s biggest problem. 

“[This is] a bad time to show up now, breast cancer awareness month where we’re supporting the women, and then you come up with this Josh Brown, where it doesn’t seem like we are supporting women,” Moss said. “I think the NFL needs to take a deep look. I think the owners are mad, and Roger Goodell, he is the biggest reason to all of this stuff that’s fallen downhill with the NFL. I have to agree with that.”

Brown was initially given a one-game suspension for violating the league’s conduct policy stemming from his 2015 fourth-degree domestic violence charge. On Friday, the 37-year-old was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list. 

Steelers know they'll have their hands full with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett


Steelers know they'll have their hands full with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett

PITTSBURGH – So far this season, Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski have combined for 39 catches, 644 yards and five touchdowns. Making the numbers that much more impressive is the fact the numbers were rolled up with Gronk inactive for two games and fairly useless in another thanks to his hamstring injury.

Will the Steelers slow the roll of Robellus Grennetski?

Hard to imagine. As Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points out, Gronk alone has tuned up the Steelers with 26 receptions for 403 yards and seven touchdowns in six meetings.

Fittipaldo explored the strategies the Steelers defense may unveil Sunday afternoon when the Patriots and Steelers get going. He also pointed out that the return of linebacker Ryan Shazier after a three week layoff and injuries for safeties Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden may put Pittsburgh at a disadvantage.

Said Shazier: “They have the tandem they want at tight end. Now they can use tight ends the way they want. You have to respect everyone on the field. Both of them are good blockers, good pass threats and great at running after the catch.”

Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler said Pittsburgh will alter its approaches.

“We have to be able to play more than one defense,” Butler said. “They’re very good and they’ll pick you apart if they can figure out what you’re doing. We just have to execute the defense more than anything else. If we can do that … that’s been our problem for the most part. Some of the things that went on last week, we missed some things we should have made mentally.”

What “went on last week” was a 30-15 loss to the Dolphins.

Pittsburgh hasn’t been a big-play group so far -- eight sacks and three picks -- nor have they seen a gauntlet of great quarterbacks in the first six games. 

Interestingly, their losses have been to Ryan Tannehill and rookie Carson Wentz, probably the two quarterbacks one would figure Pittsburgh would do best against.
Between a smoking hot Brady and a can’t-be-stopped tight end tandem, there’s probably not a lot Pittsburgh can do aside from hoping for an off day.

Said linebacker Arthur Moats hopefully: “You have to continue to mix it up against (Gronkowski). You can’t give him the same look over and over. He has success on guys like that. If we disrupt him, and rush Brady and speed up his clock, I definitely think that will help out.”

In theory, perhaps. In practice? We’ll see.