- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner2 hrs ago
Now that deflate-gate and Marshawn Lynch's media appearances and whatever other noise is starting to fade, we can get down to the game. Isn't that refreshing.
Let's get right to the picks of the Shutdown Corner crew for Super Bowl XLIX. And be sure to listen to our Super Bowl preview podcast for even more on the game:
KEVIN KADUKSun, Feb 13:30 PM PSTNew England at SeattlePreview Game
- Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner2 hrs ago
The New England Patriots generally are prepared for anything, and we can boil down their Super Bowl approach to the Seattle Seahawks in two ways: Their attack if Seattle goes to man-to-man coverage, and their attack for the Seahawks’ “Cover 3” zone.
When we look at how the Patriots might try to beat Seattle's fantastic “Cover 3," we’ll see ways the Patriots can get tight end Rob Gronkowski open. It’s obvious Gronkowski is a huge part of this game.
Seattle’s foundation is the “Cover 3,” in which three defensive backs are responsible for a deep third of the field. But they’ve used a lot of man this season as well. They used man a lot against Green Bay in the NFC championship game, but that might have been because they were behind and needed to get a little more aggressive. Either way, New England will have a plan.
Against man-to-man coverage
- Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner4 hrs ago
The No. 1 thing you have to defend against the Seattle Seahawks is the read option. There’s a very strong tendency within that play that we have seen in our film study, and I guarantee you New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick knows it as well.
On 42 percent of Seattle's plays they use a 3-by-1 set (three eligible receivers to one side, and one to the other) counting tight ends. If Marshawn Lynch is offset to the side of the tight end, the single-receiver side, he will cut back and not follow the zone blocking 80 percent of the time. He will cut it inside before he crosses the center. That's a strong tendency to do it on four of five carries, and we'll look at how New England will have to defend it – something you can watch for in the Super Bowl.
- Ben Rohrbach at Shutdown Corner6 hrs ago
Much like Sylvester Stallone in "Rocky IV," J.J. Watt is training in the "middle of nowhere" to defend his title.
While Balboa chopped wood and lifted a sack full of rocks with a pulley in an old barn somewhere in Siberia, Watt — who will almost surely earn his second NFL Defensive Player of the Year honor when the Associated Press announces the winner on Saturday afternoon — will retreat to a remote log cabin in Wisconsin.
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner22 hrs ago
PHOENIX — Doug Baldwin went on a tirade after the Seattle Seahawks won the NFC championship game in dramatic fashion, which came off as fairly amusing.
"I want y'all to write this down," Baldwin said at the time. "Write this down, OK? Remember when we were 3-3? Everybody counted us out! Y'all didn't believe in us! A whole bunch of people saying that we weren't going to make it, right? When we were 6-4 [you were like], 'Aw, it's OK, they got a winning record, but they not gonna go to the playoffs.
"Remember that? [Trailing] 16-0 at the first half! How many y'all counted us out?! How many y'all doubted us? It's indicative of our entire season. Y'all don't want to believe in us, it's OK. You ain't gotta believe in us because we can believe in ourselves."
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner23 hrs ago
PHOENIX — Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas has had time to let his balky ankle heal and let his ego soothe after losing to the Indianapolis Colts in the divisional round of the playoffs as he did some promotional work this week at the site of the Super Bowl.
But there are still a lot of fascinating unknowns in the life of Thomas, a free agent for the first time this offseason.
Will the Broncos place the franchise tag on him? Can they get a long-term extension done before (or after) that? Will Peyton Manning be back? What will new head coach Gary Kubiak be like for the Broncos? And will friend Julius Thomas, also a free agent, return to the team?
All that, and yet Demaryius Thomas can't help but wonder how the Broncos' season — so promising to start and Super Bowl expectations remaining strong — got off track. He wonders if the Broncos might have dismissed their playoff opponent a little easily before the game.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner23 hrs ago
Marcus Allen, Bart Starr, Phil Simms … I couldn’t get them on the list of 10 greatest Super Bowl players ever.
That’s a lot of Super Bowl MVPs and records left off. Kurt Warner, Franco Harris, Steve Young and John Riggins also want to have a word, I’m sure.
This was a very hard exercise. We put the list together to give a legacy reference point for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as he heads into his sixth Super Bowl. He’s in the top 10 already, a pretty exclusive club.
A few rules: Multiple Super Bowl appearances matter, but it’s not a requirement get on the list. I’d take a player with one great Super Bowl over two decent ones.
This is only about Super Bowls in a vacuum. Nobody would argue that Timmy Smith was a better NFL player than Dan Marino, but Smith and his 204-yard game in Super Bowl XXII would rank higher on this list than Marino. It’s just Super Bowl performances.
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner1 day ago
PHOENIX — The NFL has not made iron-clad determinations on whether a specific league team is closing in on relocating to Los Angeles in the near future, commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday.
“There have been no determinations of us going to Los Angeles, any particular team going to Los Angeles or going to any particular stadium," Goodell said in his annual state of the league address. "We have several alternatives that we are evaluating. There are teams that are interested but are trying to work their issues out. So as a league, we haven’t gotten to that stage yet. It will all be subject to our relocation policy."
Those interested teams potentially include a few — the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders — who are embroiled in local stadium issues that could force the team to seek a new city to call home. The Rams are the most often-mentioned possibilities to relocate because of team owner Stan Kroenke's purchase of a large tract of land near Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif. and plans to build a football stadium on those grounds.
- Jay Hart at Shutdown Corner1 day ago
Now we know why the trial of Aaron Hernandez is expected to take up to two months: prosecutor William McCauley is doing the questioning.
In Day 2 of the murder trial against the former New England Patriots star we learned that Comfort Suites is a hotel, that after getting pregnant a baby is born and how a 911 call is routed.
There were a few relevant points made during the four hours of testimony on Friday, namely the prosecution's attempt to put Hernandez's footprint at the scene of the crime, where Odin Lloyd's dead body was found, but mostly what the jury of 18 got was more useless facts that the defense promised in its opening statement would be forthcoming from the prosecution.
McCauley may be trying to lay an exceedingly firm foundation, but so far he's mostly just installed a bunch of windows looking out onto nothing.
The kicker came when Charles Sutherland, director of communications for the Massachusetts State Police, took the stand to explain the ins and outs of a 911 call. This took 17 minutes, after which there was no cross examination.
And why would there be?
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner1 day ago
PHOENIX – This is the kind of season it has been for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell: In his pre-Super Bowl news conference, he was asked if there were any scenario in which he could envision resigning or being fired.
"No I can’t," Goodell said, with some laughter rising from the media over his flat answer. "Does that surprise you?"
We know the issues. Ray Rice. Adrian Peterson, Deflate-gate. Fights with the NFLPA over a reworked conduct policy. And so forth. That's why Goodell's annual state of the league address, which lasted about 45 minutes, came in front of a packed room.
It's no surprise that it has been a stressful time.