Wakeup Call: NFL gets ready in case a Super storm hits

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Wakeup Call: NFL gets ready in case a Super storm hits

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Tuesday, February 12:

BASEBALL
You may sit unsigned until the beginning of spring training, as Michael Bourn did, but Scott Boras usually always comes through for his clients . . . as long as you don't mind playing in Cleveland. (AP)

Bourn is certainly in the Braves' rear-view mirror, judging by how enthusiastic they are at the start of camp. (AP)

Chris Carpenter is hoping against hope that, somehow, he'll pitch again. (AP)

That elbow flareup that's prevented Ryan Madson from throwing since Feb. 1? Nothing to worry about, insists Mike Scioscia. (AP)

The A's players are letting bygones by bygones with Bartolo Colon, whose 50-game suspension for PED use last August left them in the lurch a bit during their hunt for a playoff spot. (CSN Bay Area)

Carlos Marmol defends himself -- passionately -- against sexual-assault allegations leveled against him in the Dominican Republic. (CSN Chicago)

Cavan Biggio? Kacy Clemens? Josh Pettitte? Yep, they're all the sons of who you think they're the sons of, and they're all playing high school baseball in the Houston area. (CSN Houston)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Whaddya know? Indiana remains No. 1 despite its loss to Illinois last week. (AP)

Colorado State cracks the national rankings for the first time since the days of President Eisenhower and I Love Lucy. (AP)

Things return to normal in what's been a mixed-up Jayhawks Nation, as Kansas routs arch-rival Kansas State. (AP)

It's not how you start, it's how you finish. Georgetown -- suddenly holding the inside track for the regular-season Big East championship after its 63-55 win over No. 18 Marquette -- is proving that. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

If Myck Kabongo knew then what he knows now, he'd have cooperated with the NCAA way back when. But he didn't, he got suspended, and now, finally, he's back on the court at Texas. (CSN Houston)

Off the court, and perhaps for a long time, is UConn's Enosch Wolf. (AP)

It should just be two games for Butler's Andrew Smith, though. (AP)

Albany? Eighth-best in women's basketball? So says the UPS Team Performance Index -- though not the voters in the AP poll, who don't even have the Great Danes in the top 25 -- but coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson says she isn't surprised her team ranks so high. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
And here we thought no one would believe the Paterno family's report. (AP)

It looks like Penn State's getting its checkbook out. (AP)

The NCAA's loosening of recruiting rules has the Big Ten coaches all nervous. (AP)

Tyler Gaffney's decided baseball's not for him, after all, and he's returning to the Stanford backfield. (CSN Bay Area)

Dennis Erickson's decided retirement's not for him. after all, and he's returning to college football as co-offensive coordinator at Utah. (AP)

Charlie Weis gives Dave Campo a promotion. (AP)

HOCKEY
Mikhail Grabovski's little nip at Max Pacioretty -- sorry, alleged nip -- apparently wasn't caught on camera, so he's going to get away with it. Oh, to be listening to the Montreal talk stations today . . . (AP)

Remember when the Sharks were sailing along as one of the NHL's elite? Yeah, me neither. (CSN Bay Area)

San Jose was "outworked, out-executed, out-detailed, out-goaltended, out- a lot of things" in last night's embarrassing 6-2 loss to the Blue Jackets, according to coach Todd McLellan. Um, Todd? Take a page from the Belichick book and throw "out-coached" in there, too. Just to keep it egalitarian. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

The "home stand from hell"? That's not good, is it, Blues? (Pro Hockey Talk)

If misery loves company, St. Louis will be hanging with the Islanders these days. (AP)

In the injury department, the Maple Leafs may be without starting goalie James Reimer for a while after he got hurt in Toronto's 5-2 win over the Flyers . . . (AP)

. . . and the Avalanche may have lost defenseman Erik Johnson for a spell in their overtime loss to the Coyotes. (Pro Hockey Talk)

And here you thought baseball had the market cornered on obscure records. (Pro Hockey Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
Tim Duncan? Tony Parker? Manu Ginobili? Who needs 'em? Certainly not the Spurs. (AP)

And this is why Tom Thibodeau thinks San Antonio is the gold standard of the NBA. (CSN Chicago)

Once the Clippers got their stars back, they got back to having fun . . . like last night in Philadelphia. (AP)

No, Andrew Bynum's not playing. No, he's not practicing. But, honest, any day now. (CSN Philly)

James Harden is day-to-day with a sore knee. Uh oh, isn't that what they said about Bynum in, like, October? (CSN Houston)

In more mundane injury news, Danny Granger is about to return. Jealous, Sixers Nation? (AP)

I thought basketball uniforms with sleeves went out with the peach baskets, but the Warriors are bringing 'em back. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

PRO FOOTBALL
The Richard Seymour Era is over in Oakland. (CSN Bay Area)

Did you wonder over the weekend what would happen if a storm like Nemo hit the New York area during next year's Super Bowl? Well, so did the NFL . . . and it started drawing up contingency plans. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Bill Polian thinks he has the answer to make the game safer: Widen the field. (Pro Football Talk)

In one of the first surprises of the Chip Kelly regime, the Eagles bring back Michael Vick. (CSN Philly)

The NFLPA still wants the Chargers' team doctor to go, even though an independent panel "totally exonerated" him. (AP)

The Giants give the oft-injured Terrell Thomas another shot. (AP)

The Bills, however, are through with Nick Barnett and George Wilson. (AP)

He's baaaccck . . . or so he hopes. (CSN Bay Area)

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

For all the flack that Matt Ryan got heading into this season, he’s been a damn good quarterback. Is his career on the same level as Tom Brady’s? Of course not, but this regular season saw him stand as Brady’s peer, making him an MVP favorite.

One of Ryan’s biggest challengers for that hardware is the same man who stands in the way of him winning his first Super Bowl. Though he missed the first four games of the season due to suspension, Brady finished second in the league in passing yards per game and threw just two picks in 12 games while tossing 28 touchdowns.  

So Super Bowl LI will pin the quarterback with the best numbers overall (Ryan finished two touchdowns behind Aaron Rodgers for the league lead but threw for 516 more yards and had a higher completion percentage) against the quarterback with the best touchdown/interception ratio ever for a single season. 

In other words, this is a Super Bowl that puts what one could argue are the season’s two best quarterbacks each other. That’s pretty rare. 

Going back the last 25 years, there are four candidates for such meetings: Manning vs. Brees in Super Bowl XLIV, Favre and Elway in Super Bowl XXXII (this one is a stretch), Favre and Bledsoe in Super Bowl XXXI and Kelly and Rypien in Super Bowl XXVI.. 

Why haven’t the two best quarterbacks squared off in the Super Bowl more often? Because Brady and Peyton Manning played their entire careers in the same conference, silly. It’s taken other players entering their echelon to even set up such a scenario, and that’s why Brees’ Saints beating Manning’s Colts serves as the only example during Manning or Brady’s career. 

The strong performances of those who dominated the regular season have often carried over into their Super Bowl meetings, but not always. Drew Bledsoe and Jim Kelly (both throwing two touchdowns and four picks in Super Bowl losses) are examples of the wheels falling off in the final game. 

Here’s a breakdown of past occurrences. Note that all four of them saw the winning team score at least 30 points, something the Pats have done just once in Brady's four Super Bowl wins: 

Super Bowl XLIV: Brees vs. Manning

Brees led NFL with 34 touchdowns in regular season; Manning finished tied for second with 33

Final score: Saints 31, Colts 17

Brees: 32/39, 288 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Manning: 31/45, 333 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Brees completed a postseason in which he had no turnovers and did so in a nearly exactly average game for him that season, as e averaged 292.5 yards, 2.26 touchdowns and less than one interception per game in the regular season. The two quarterbacks also combined for just one sack. 
 
Super Bowl XXXII: Favre vs. Elway

Favre led NFL with 35 TDs in regular season, Elway finished second in TD/interception ratio

Final score: Broncos 31, Packers 24

Favre: 25/42, 256 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, fumble lost 
Elway: 12/22, 123 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT

Again, this is the forced one because Jeff George (3,917 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, nine interceptions) had the better regular season than Elway (3,635 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, 11 picks). Elway may have been the winning quarterback, but he didn’t have anything to do with the win. Terrell Davis carried the Broncos, playing through a migraine and rushing for 157 yards with three touchdowns en route to Super Bowl MVP honors. 

Super Bowl XXXI: Favre vs. Bledsoe

Favre led NFL with 39 TDs, Bledsoe third with 27

Final Score: Packers 35, Patriots 21

Favre: 14/27, 246 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Bledsoe: 25/48, 253 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT

Both quarterbacks took five sacks in this game. For Bledsoe, it was the most he took all season. The game was the third four-pick performance of his NFL career. 

Super Bowl XXVI: Kelly vs. Rypien

Kelly led NFL with 33 TDs, Rypien second with 28

Final score: Redskins 37, Bills 24

Rypien: 18/33, 292 yards, 2 TD, INT
Kelly: 28/58, 275 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT, fumble lost

Turns out five turnovers (and being sacked four times) is not a recipe for winning the Super Bowl. Kelly’s 58 passes thrown set a Super Bowl record.
 

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Working for the Patriots makes you attractive to other teams. Many have left, but Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli are finally showing that major success can be attained in the process. 

Dimitroff and Pioli have built a team in Atlanta that will play for the franchise’s first Super Bowl title on Feb. 5. While many have been hired away from Bill Belichick's Patriots to lead other organizations, Dimitroff is the first of the defectors to get to the Super Bowl on his own. Adding an old friend in Pioli has played a part in that. 

Dimitroff served as New England’s director of college scouting from 2003 through 2007 before becoming Atlanta’s general manager in 2008. He hired Pioli in 2014 as an assistant GM after the longtime Patriots director and vice president of player personnel had a messy stint as the Chiefs’ GM. 

Executives and coaches (even Field Yates; yes, the fair-haired boy from the television) leaving the Patriots for better positions with other organizations has been common, but with the new positions have often come diminished success compared to New England. 

Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Bill O’Brien, Charlie Weis (in his brief return to the NFL in 2010) and Josh McDaniels make up the list of coordinators who have left winning with the Patriots to experience a dropoff without Brady and Belichick. John Robinson (Titans), Jason Licht (Buccaneers) and Bob Quinn (Lions) currently serve as GMs elsewhere, while former Pats secondary coach Joe Collier works with Dimitroff and Pioli as the Falcons’ director of pro personnel. 

It’s only fitting that Dimitroff and Pioli will have to go through Belichick in order to secure a title on their own. Winning without Belichick has proven hard enough for his former colleagues; winning against him will be even harder.