NFL’s VP of Officiating Dean Blandino joined NFL Network’€™s “NFL AM” Friday morning to discuss the much-discussed Jets field goal attempt at the end of last night’€™s game. Here’s a brief excerpt of what he said:

On the referee tapping Patriots linebacker Dont’€™a Hightower on the Jets field goal attempt:

“€œThis is a standard officiating mechanic. We call it preventative officiating. Because it’€™s a player safety rule, we’€™re trying to avoid a situation before it happens so the umpires will get in there and move that player out of there. More often you see it when a player is in a three-point stance and he is down on the line of scrimmage and you’€™ll see the umpire tap the player to move him out of that because we have to be outside the framework of the center. So this is really no different than the line of scrimmage officials pointing out the line to the wideouts and it’€™s a standard mechanic. Not something that would be unusual by any means.”

On if it is on the player to know where he can and cannot be:

“€œIf you watch the play, what [Dont'€™a] Hightower is actually going to do, he’€™s going up to the line to make a line call because then you’€™ll see the defensive line shift. Then he’€™s going to back out. So it is on the player to understand that but we will in certain situations warn players to prevent things from happening, especially when it’€™s a player safety issue and trying to prevent a potential injury situation. Ultimately it’€™s on the player but this is something that has been a mechanic ever since this rule has been in place and like I said, not unusual.”

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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

ESPN’s Adam Schefter made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Friday to analyze Thursday’s Patriots-Jets game and discuss other NFL news. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Adam Schefter

Adam Schefter

ESPN’s Adam Schefter made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Friday to analyze Thursday’s Patriots-Jets game and discuss other NFL news. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The heat is on Rex Ryan in New York, as the Jets are 1-6 after Thursday’s 27-25 loss. Although Schefter noted the Jets “played hard” Thursday and clearly have not quit on the season, he acknowledged, “Rex certainly is on the warmest of warm seats right now.”

“I think there’s a lot of people whose jobs are in jeopardy in New York right now. Whether it’s just Rex, whether it’s Rex and the GM, that’s something that they’re going to have to make a decision on here,” Schefter said, adding: “It’s rare that you see too many in-season changes, or changes before Thanksgiving. Once we get to Thanksgiving, to me, all bets are off. Because if you want to go hire a coach like Mike Holmgren or Mike Shanahan or somebody that’s on the street or on the sideline or in the college ranks, it gives you a chance to get a running head start in an above-board, legal, ethical kind of way.”

During his appearance on Middays with MFB on Thursday, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith claimed general manager John Idzik “sabotaged” Rex Ryan by giving him a weak roster. Schefter disagrees with that assessment.

“I don’t believe that John Idzik sabotaged Rex Ryan,” Schefter said. “I do believe that John Idzik’s approach is not the way that Rex Ryan would approach it. John Idzik had Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the cornerback, in the building [in the offseason as a free agent]. Darrelle Revis was interested in playing for the New York Jets. John Idzik didn’t get the deal done on Rodgers-Cromartie — the Giants eventually signed him for a price that [Idzik] was unwilling to pay. He didn’t call Darrelle Revis, reach out, for whatever reason. John Idzik’s approach on this is very methodical and patient and conservative. And that’s just not the kind of guy that Rex is. Rex is, ‘Get me a corner. Let’s go get that cornerback right now. And if we have to pay more money, so be it.’ That’s what he wants to do.

“I don’t think that Idzik intentionally sabotaged the roster. His job is in jeopardy, too. So by sabotaging Rex he would be sabotaging himself, maybe. But it’s just the way that he does his business. He’s a very smart Ivy League guy with a financial background, where he ran the cap in Seattle and obviously looked over financial issues and is very careful with the way he spends his team’s money — which in many cases is good. Except when you’re 1-6 like the Jets are, people are screaming for blood and demanding answers, they want to know what’s going on, and right now he’s in the crosshairs of that.”

Things are much calmer in New England, where the Patriots have won three straight and Tom Brady appears to have bounced back after some early season struggles.

“The fact of the matter is he’s still an elite quarterback in this league, he’s still one of the greatest players — players, not just quarterbacks — who’s ever played the game,” Schefter said. “Yeah, he’s a little older, and maybe his skills are semi-diminished. But even semi-diminished he’s still one of the best quarterbacks in the game. There will be times when it doesn’t come easy. But right now they’re in a good spot, they get 10 days off, this was a tired team last night. I think the toll that they had played so many games in so few days was evident in the way they played last night. Now they’ll get 10 days to gear up here for the second half of the season.”

There was some controversy surrounding the final play Thursday, as an official moved Dont’a Hightower so that he would not get a penalty before the Jets attempted a field goal that could have won the game.

Schefter said he understands the NFL’s response that the official was completely in line to handle the situation as he did, however: “I don’t recall seeing an official be that aggressive typically moving players. ‘€¦ It just didn’t pass the eye test.”

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar
ESPN Insider, Adam Schefter, discusses Rex Ryan's job security, Marvin Lewis concussion comments, as well as the Patriots-Jets

[0:00:32] ... brought to you by Shaw's supermarket -- dropped him. Cam and Maloney Christian Fauria -- invented days with an FB please be joined by Adam kept there. Right now from ESPN. Adam first of all is ...
[0:04:48] ... all bets are off because if you wanna go our coach like. Mike Holmgren Mike Shanahan or somebody that's on the street on the sidelines were college ranks he give you a chance to go to your running ...
[0:08:35] ... to get to hear your thoughts on the deserve a -- from Marvin Lewis or start looking caution saying that a call because of the media and things they seem to linger longer unquote. It up ...

After Jerod Mayo's injury, Patriots Pro Bowl safety Devin McCourty is the next man up on Patriots Friday. He breaks down the Patriots win over the Jets.

[0:00:22] ... that. Our conversation with the next seven -- -- As crusty by Samuel Adams Boston laser and dropped him I heard the music in the background and I got confused and thought maybe -- would still ...
[0:01:27] ... -- the way things went against the jets last year -- -- blocked field goal. You -- personally I think even -- hoopla it. And they're not yet I think more today you unrealized. You know Chris ...
[0:02:02] ... only a couple other guys have played as many as you did Judy Collins got the high power just to name a few. -- one wondered what he was running and beating successful running the football ...
[0:04:56] ... talk a lot what I'm international. Being not so let me just missed tackles on the little. Of course partial solution where he wanted to open group play and you know hole number and you noticed ...

Former NFL official and head of referee's Jim Daopoulos discusses the controversial ending to Jets-Patriots game. He described the actions of the referee as "preventative officiating"

[0:00:39] ... two point if. So we get the block on the fifty yard field goal attempts. From nick pulled the kicker for the year jets who does have a 56 yarder to his Chris good kicker so who ...
[0:05:09] ... moving a little bit wanted it can't control them all he's got exceptional leader and is water. There is something -- the debate with a little bit and here it is because of all the movie goes to solely be yet our control. Jim how do you think when you look at at the -- that the holding. Defense of pass an appearance. Do you think the refs are on the right track as far as what they're calling holding what they're calling it appeared that seems. And other social lighten up on it at the point of emphasis during the during the during the pre season. But is -- -- other light up at any point because there are some calls last night where I'm just shake my ...

Former NFL referee Jim Daopoulos joined Middays with MFB on Friday morning to discuss the controversy surrounding the field goal attempt at the end of the Patriots-Jets game from Thursday night. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Jets attempted to kick a game-winning field goal on the final play of the game. However, Chris Jones blocked the try to seal the Patriots’ win. Before the kick, Dont’€™a Hightower was lined up in front of Jets long snapper Tanner Purdum, which would have been a five-yard penalty.

Before the snap, though, a referee alerted Hightower to move out of the area. That raised the ire of some in New York, but an NFL spokesman said Friday morning that it was “standard operating procedure.”

Said Daopoulos: “It’€™s what we call preventive officiating. It happens many times during a game. It can happen when situations are going on down field, you may talk to a defensive back and tell him to keep his hands off of the receiver. On the line of scrimmage, you may tell a player, ‘Hey, watch yourself, your hands are getting out too wide.’ We see too many flags nowadays, and this is just one of the ways that officials are working to keep the flags down. It was exactly right last night.

“Unfortunately, all of the officials don’€™t work like that, but it was the right call.”

While telling a player to move is one thing, some feel that the grabbing and nudging of Hightower went a little too far. Daopoulos said it’s within the referee’€™s right to do this.

“It’€™s exactly what you need to do,” Daopoulos said. “You give him a little slap on the backside and tell him to move himself over, get off the center’€™s nose, get into the gap. It’€™s not a big deal. You’€™re not going actually grab him and physically move him, just give him a little slap and say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to move.’

“Just kind of let him know that he’€™s out of position. And it’€™s not anything that’€™s illegal, it’€™s something that most officials do. The better officials do it all the time.”

Blog Author: 
Andrew Battifarano
Jonas Gray

Jonas Gray

In wake of running back Stevan Ridley being lost for the season, the Patriots needed to add depth at the running back position.

Prior to Thursday’s game, the Patriots signed Jonas Gray off the practice squad and he was active for the game over rookie running back James White — who had been on the 53-man roster since training camp broke — but has only appeared in one game.

“I think Jonas has been solid for us all the way through preseason — he’€™s done a good job in practice,” Bill Belichick said on a conference call Friday morning. “He got an opportunity last night — not a lot of opportunities — he had some blitz pick up opportunities, a few carries. He works hard, he’€™s a tough kid. More in the [Stevan] Ridley size range — works for us in the kicking game as well. Keep going with that and this is an opportunity for him — unfortunately the way it came out — but he works hard, he deserves it. We’€™ll see what he can do with it.”

Thursday was Gray’s first ever NFL game and he finished with 12 yards on three carries.

By our count — Gray played only 11 snaps — but that was second among running backs as Shane Vereen saw 47 and Brandon Bolden had just one. Moving forward it seems likely Belichick will ride the hot hand each week — based on performance, as well as game planning against their opponent.

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Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday to discuss the Patriots’€™ win over the Jets on Thursday night. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday to discuss the Patriots’€™ win over the Jets on Thursday night. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

New England narrowly defeated the Jets, thanks to a blocked field goal by Chris Jones on the final play of the game. The Patriots used a bend-but-don’t-break approach on defense, which Harrison said they shouldn’t have done against the Jets and quarterback Geno Smith.

Said Harrison: “I think it directly applies to what type of team you play. I like that against, say, a Peyton Manning or a Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, a high-scoring offense with potentially a quarterback that can beat you in so many different ways. But when it comes to Geno Smith, one of the worst quarterbacks in the league, I don’€™t agree with that. I still think [Bill Belichick] could become a lot more aggressive, play a lot more man-to-man coverage. And you force him to make those tight throws.”

The Jets ran a solid game plan against the Patriots, running for over 200 yards while not committing a single turnover. They also limited Tom Brady‘€™s time on the field. In the end, though, the Patriots still won.

“[The game plan] didn’t work to perfection because if anybody knows playing against the Patriots, when Tom Brady is halfway on, when you get to the red zone, you have to score touchdowns,” Harrison said. “You can’€™t continue to settle for field goals. I think that’€™s a big mistake. When I look at the Jets, with all that being said, you look at what happens week in and week out, and obviously that wasn’t the case last night in terms of turnovers. But you look at the blown coverages, you look at the mistakes on the defensive side of the ball, you look at the mistakes, period, across the board. And you start to wonder, is it the players’€™ fault or is just the lack of coaching? And this team just seems unprepared each and every week. … I think you have to look at the coaches in this situation, not just the players.”

Harrison said he has personal experience playing on a bad team, as he was part of a 2000 Chargers squad that won just once all season.

“I played on a team that was 1-15 in San Diego, we had the worst offense in the league and we had the No. 1 defense,” Harrison said. “It comes down to this: You play for pride, you play for your family, you play for the fans that still support you. And it’€™s your job. Go out there and just continue to prepare, continue to work hard. It’€™s tough, it’€™s a tough situation, especially when you’€™re the Jets. You look at the game that you played against the Patriots and you say, ‘We should’ve won this game. We had a great opportunity to win that game.’ People don’€™t talk about moral victories. I talk about moral victories because I do believe there’€™s a lot of positives that you can find in negative situations.”

The Patriots will have 10 days off, but when they return they will begin a tough portion of their schedule. The hosts wondered if the defensive issues New England had Thursday night can be corrected over time.

Said Harrison: “You can’€™t have a team able to run over 200 yards rushing on you and physically dominate you on the line of scrimmage. But also, along with that, I look at the defensive line and I don’€™t think Vince Wilfork‘€™s 100 percent. I mean, coming off such a devastating injury, it’€™s going to take time for him to really feel comfortable and get back to being close to 100 percent. I think as time goes on, they will get better.”

Continue Harrison: “I think [Wilfork] will get better. I think as much as Vince takes care of himself, and he’€™s a pro and he’€™s a veteran, the days of him being an All-Pro, he’€™ll probably never get back to the time when he was 28, 29 years old or 27 years old. He’€™s still going to be an effective player. It’€™s just one of those things he’€™s smart, he works extremely hard and he’€™s still tough as nails.”

For the first time this season, the Patriots were without linebacker Jerod Mayo. Although they were without him for most of last year because of a season-ending injury, Harrison said Mayo’€™s absence will not go unnoticed.

“Jerod, he’€™s a quiet, humble guy. But he prepares, works hard, just his work ethic, the consistency in which he plays, the communication. It’€™s almost like having your big brother there. You just have that sense of comfort knowing that you’ve got Vince up front, you’ve got Jerod. … You just need that. When you look around, and you have that brotherhood, you miss having Jerod.”

While many picked the Patriots to win the Super Bowl before the 2014 season began, that is now in question after an inconsistent start. Harrison, though, said it doesn’t matter how things are going during Week 7, but the process going into the postseason is more important.

“I don’€™t look at them as being a team right now ready to win a Super Bowl,” Harrison said. “But I can say that about a bunch of teams. The only team I can probably say that for is the Denver Broncos. But at the same time, you don’€™t have to be ready right now to win a Super Bowl. You’€™re continuing to build, you’€™re trying your best to stay healthy and continue to build cohesion within that team.”

Blog Author: 
Andrew Battifarano