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#pounditFriday, September 25, 2020

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Jets fans hold laughable ‘protest’ to get Adam Gase fired

Adam Gase

New York Jets fans staged a protest on Thursday in an attempt to pressure the team to fire head coach Adam Gase. Let’s just say it was not very convincing.

The person who runs a Twitter account called @OptimisticJets organized a protest for 1 p.m. Thursday outside the Jets’ facility in New Jersey. The announcement about the event encouraged all die hard Jets fans to gather and “voice our suffering.”

And that’s exactly what a handful of Jets fans did. Shortly after 1 p.m., some reporters took a trip over to One Jets Drive to see what the turnout was like. We’ll let the photos do the talking:

Woof. But don’t worry, the organizer of the event is not giving up.

We certainly can’t blame Jets fans for being fed up with Gase. While he’s only in his second season with the team, the results have not been good. He was supposed to turn things around for the Jets offensively, and you need look no further than these stats to see how Gase is doing in that department. Things haven’t been much better defensively, as we saw when New York somehow gave up a first down on this play last weekend.

If Gase doesn’t turn things around quickly, he’s going to lose his job. We just don’t think the four fans who showed up at Thursday’s “protest” are going to tip the scale.

Jon Gruden says coronavirus story was real, not fake

Jon Gruden

Jon Gruden says he actually did contract the coronavirus over the summer, contrary to what some reports may have claimed at the time.

Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported last month that the Las Vegas Raiders held a Zoom call with players that was supposed to be led by Gruden, but the coach did not show up. The players were told Gruden had been hospitalized with COVID-19. The goal, according to Garafolo, was for the Raiders to send a message to players that anyone can contract the coronavirus.

After the Raiders’ win over the New Orleans Saints on Monday night, Gruden tried to set the record straight. He said he actually did have COVID-19 and told the San Jose Mercury news that he is tired of people saying it was a prank.

“I did,” Gruden said. “I’m tired of (people) saying I faked it.”

Gruden is one of several NFL coaches who have been criticized for not wearing their masks properly during games. He told reporters on Monday that he takes the coronavirus seriously because he had it.

“I’ve had the virus, OK? I’m doing my best,” Gruden said. “I’m very sensitive about it, but I’m calling plays. I just want to communicate these situations. I apologize, and if I get fined, I will have to pay the fine. I’m very sensitive about all of that and I apologize.”

Three head coaches and their teams received hefty fines this week for not wearing their masks on Sunday. Based on what we saw during Monday night’s game, Gruden and Saints coach Sean Payton could be next.

Sixers pursuing Mike D’Antoni with goal of luring James Harden?

James Harden

The Philadelphia 76ers pursuit of Mike D’Antoni as their next head coach may be part of a much grander plan.

John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia reported on Thursday that some in the Sixers organization feel that hiring D’Antoni could ultimately help lure James Harden to Philly. Harden, who played for D’Antoni on the Houston Rockets for the last four seasons, can become a free agent in 2022. Clark also mentions the possibility of the Sixers trading for the former MVP.

Philadelphia’s interest in D’Antoni appears to be legitimate. Recent rumors suggested that the team may make major roster changes if D’Antoni is hired.

Harden, who recently turned 31, is obviously a very ambitious goal for the Sixers. It could come to pass though if Houston decides to blow it up in the next couple of years. We know that Philly has also had interest in landing another top member of the Rockets organization.

Urban Meyer shares his thoughts on running up score on Michigan

It has been well over a year since Urban Meyer coached his last game at Ohio State, but his hatred for the Buckeyes’ biggest rival clearly has not waned.

Meyer absolutely dominated Michigan during the seven years he coached at Ohio State. The Buckeyes never lost to the Wolverines in those seven years, and their average margin of victory was more than 12 points. In his last game at Ohio State in 2018, Meyer led his team to a 62-39 thrashing over Michigan.

During an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show” Tuesday, Meyer was asked if he ever felt bad about running up the score on Michigan and Jim Harbaugh. You can probably guess what he said.

“This is gonna create a lot of headlines, but no,” Meyer said. “I think your job is — how can I answer this politically correct. Our players worked for that game every year, and if you get a chance to go in and play I’m not gonna tell them to slow down.”

Keep in mind that Meyer was born in Toledo, Ohio. He got his bachelor’s degree at the University of Cincinnati and his master’s degree at Ohio State. The hatred toward Michigan dates back to way before he took the head coaching job at Ohio State in 2012.

Meyer has never passed up an opportunity to troll Michigan, which we saw when he was doing pregame work for FOX last season. That will probably never change.

Donovan Mitchell responds to Utah company dumping Jazz suite over kneeling, BLM support

Donovan Mitchell

Donovan Mitchell responded on Thursday to a Utah company’s decision to cancel its suite at Jazz games.

Salt Lake County-based SME Steel Contractors sent a letter to Jazz owner Gail Miller on Sept. 9 announcing its decision to cancel its suite at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The company began licensing a suite annually since 1992 and estimates it has spent $6 million on suites over the years.

The company is upset with the way the NBA, its teams, and its players have politicized the sport. They took issue with players and coaches kneeling during the national anthem, as well as messages around courts supporting the Black Lives Matter political organization.

“The recent actions of the NBA — including the owners, coaches and players of the Utah Jazz — have converted a beloved entertainment venue into a forum for dissemination of political propaganda which is divisive and completely out of step with our company and its values,” they said in their letter.

The company acknowledges that teams and players are free to express their views, but says there may be consequences, such as the company’s response.

“They cannot, however, force paying customers, to be subjected to their ostentatious acts of disrespect for our country and its values, without any consequences.”

The company said it would not keep its suite until Black Lives Matter logos are removed from the arena and kneeling during the national anthem is stopped.

Mitchell, who is the team’s young, star player, responded on Twitter Thursday. He said the company had the right to cancel its suite, while he and his fellow players have the right to kneel for the anthem.

Mitchell is incorrect about having a constitutionally-protected right to kneel in the workplace. The U.S. Constitution’s free speech rights do not apply to workers in the workplace, though the NBA is allowing (and arguably encouraging) him and other players to do so.

Mitchell was one of the stars of the bubble even though the Jazz lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Denver Nuggets. The 24-year-old averaged a career-high 24 points per game this season and made his first All-Star team.

Deion Sanders denies that Terrell Owens, Warren Sapp are joining staff

terrell owens

Deion Sanders was officially introduced as the head coach at Jackson State this week. As if that wasn’t enough of a splash for the program, a report on Tuesday claimed Sanders is assembling a coaching staff that would be fit for a reality TV show. Sanders says that report is inaccurate, however.

Joe Cook of 16 WAPT News in Mississippi cited sources who informed him that Terrell Owens will be Sanders’ wide receivers coach and Warren Sapp will coach the defensive line. Sanders quickly shot down the report and said it is “absolutely wrong.”

Owens and Sapp also took to Twitter to rip the report. Sapp responded to a tweet from FOX College Football, which seemingly confirmed the report before attributing it to Cook and then deleting their original tweet.

Sanders has made no formal announcements yet about his staff, but he told reporters on Tuesday that all of the positions have been filled. He said the staff has over 80 years of combined NFL playing and coaching experience.

It’s unclear where the misinformation came from. If you saw the flashy entrance Sanders made when he was introduced at Jackson State on Monday, you may have believed he would hire Owens and Sapp as part of his staff. That would have been fun.

Steve Smith rips Gardner Minshew after poor game

Steve Smith

Analyst Steve Smith was critical of Gardner Minshew after the Jacksonville Jaguars lost 31-13 to the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night.

Minshew had a dud of a game, going 30/42 for 275 yards with an interception and lost fumble in the defeat. Smith ripped Minshew during NFL Network’s postgame show, putting the quarterback on his “struggle bus.”

“He is the franchise quarterback … for the struggle bus. In the second half, he didn’t have a completion over 10 yards until the end of the fourth quarter. He didn’t look very comfortable back there,” said Smith.

Smith then singled out Minshew’s struggles against the zone defense.

“I think we got him figured out a little bit. He couldn’t read zone coverage if zone coverage popped him upside his moustache and went in his nose. He still wouldn’t get it. He struggled, because he couldn’t get past himself,” Smith said.

Smith has long been known for talking big, so it’s no surprise to hear him bring this kind of criticism. Minshew will probably accept the criticism and acknowledge he needs to play better.

The 24-year-old threw for six touchdowns and two interceptions in Jacksonville’s first two games and was nowhere near his best on Thursday.

Report: Doc Rivers’ decisions had Clippers players scratching their heads

Doc Rivers

The Los Angeles Clippers were a major disappointment during the NBA playoffs, and head coach Doc Rivers is becoming a target for some of the blame.

The Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead and lost in seven games to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals. They held leads in all three closeout games but failed to win the series. Rivers has now presided over three series in which his teams blew a 3-1 lead.

As the team’s disappointing season gets dissected, we’re hearing about some dissatisfaction players had with Rivers.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania wrote an article about the Clippers and said some players were confused by some of Rivers’ decisions.

From the story:

“Head coach Doc Rivers had several strategic decisions that left players scratching their heads, such as the decision not to ride a bigger lineup against Nikola Jokic, choosing rotations that did not prioritize more minutes for JaMychal Green and various defensive adjustments.”

Not only that, but there is some blame being ascribed to Rivers for the team’s chemistry issues.

Of course, it is easy to point out these issues when you lose. But when the Clippers were up 3-1 in the series, players probably weren’t questioning things in the same way.

One issue the Clippers will likely have to address is the situation with Paul George. He reportedly was called out by a teammate in Game 2 against Denver. It also seems like some players did not view George as a team leader.

Despite the issues involving Rivers, the Clippers reportedly plan to bring back the veteran head coach.

Did Vanessa Bryant respond to her mother via Instagram?

Vanessa Bryant

Vanessa Bryant and her mother had a falling out recently, and Bryant is pulling no punches now that her mother has decided to go public with the drama.

Bryant’s mother, Sofia Lane, said in an interview recently that Vanessa kicked her out of the Bryant household and forced her to give back a car. Laine claimed she had been living with Vanessa to help her cope after the tragic death of her husband Kobe and daughter Gianna earlier this year.

In a scathing response on Thursday, Bryant said she and Kobe have supported Laine financially for years. She claims her mother is now going out of her way to hide her possessions so she can give off the appearance that she has no support. Bryant also had a cryptic quote on Instagram that appeared to be directed toward her mother. Us Weekly shared the full quote:

“We are often let down by the most trusted people and loved by the most unexpected ones,” a quote shared by Bryant on Tuesday, September 22, via Instagram began. “Some make us cry for things that we haven’t done, while others ignore our faults and just see our smile. Some leave us when we need them the most, while some stay with us even when ask them to leave.”

“The world is a mixture of people. We just need to know which hand to shake and which hand to hold! After all that’s life, learning to hold on and learning to let go.”

Bryant, 38, had four children with Kobe. She is now raising her three daughters, Natalia, Bianka and Capri. She reportedly told Laine that the grandmother could see her grandchildren via FaceTime. Sadly, Kobe also had many issues with his parents as well.

5 NFL players who have been a letdown through two weeks

Tom Brady

The 2020 NFL regular season is now officially through two weeks and there has been a lot to absorb. The lack of fans has certainly presented its challenges for some teams, while injuries seem to be adding up across the board.

But those aren’t the only letdowns so far. Quite a few players who were expected to stand out above the rest have done anything but that and instead find themselves disappointing.

Here’s a look at five players who need to pick it up.

5. Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants

Entering the 2020 regular season, Giants tight end Evan Engram was riding one of the most robust hype trains in recent memory. Everyone from coaches to players and from pundits to fans expected this to finally be the year Engram breaks out and establishes himself as one of the best. Instead, Week 1 saw him drop several passes, stop a route short costing the team a touchdown, and commit a back-breaking offensive interference penalty while playing equally poor in pass protection. Engram did catch six balls for 65 yards in Week 2, but was kept out of the end zone in another loss. Eight receptions on 15 targets for 75 yards and two drops is not what the hype would have suggested.

4. Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

Like Evan Engram, this was supposed to be the year Carson Wentz stayed healthy and put it all together. Instead, he’s looked horrendous through two weeks, completing just 58.8 percent of his passes and tossing four interceptions, which is more than half of his total from each of the previous three seasons. Add in two fumbles, and the scope of Wentz’s issues becomes apparent. In a Week 2 loss to the Los Angeles Rams — a game that wasn’t even close — Wentz managed to get booed. That’s significant because there aren’t even any fans in the stands. That’s how bad it is for Wentz and Philadelphia right now.

3. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

A.J. Green missed seven games in 2018 as the result of a toe injury and then missed the entire 2019 season after tearing ligaments in his ankle. Despite that, the Bengals slapped him with the franchise tag this offseason and expected a bounce-back season with rookie quarterback Joe Burrow taking snaps. So far, Cincinnati has not gotten a return on their investment. Although Burrow has played well, he and Green have not developed a strong chemistry, and it shows. Through two weeks, Green has just 8 receptions on 22 targets for 80 yards and no touchdowns.

2. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns

Odell Beckham Jr. has been effective over his first two seasons with the Browns, but has not come close to scratching the surface of his early success in New York. But entering the new league year, OBJ proclaimed he was in a better mental state and ready to take back over his throne atop the NFL. Of course, we’ve all heard that before — it’s like a broken record on repeat at the start of every season. In Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens, Beckham was held to 3 receptions on 10 targets for 22 yards. In Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Beckham did manage to find the end zone, but his offensive snaps were limited to just 39. 7 receptions on 16 targets for 96 yards and one touchdown is not the kind of production OBJ had in mind to start the season. And his 43.8% catch rate? Yeah, it’s by far the lowest of his career (and yes, we recognize that some of this is the fault of quarterback Baker Mayfield).

1. Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Brady going to the Buccaneers was the league’s biggest offseason story. Finally, the world would see who was responsible for all of the success in New England: was it Brady or Bill Belichick? Well, early on, things are not looking too wonderful for Brady. In a Week 1 loss to the New Orleans Saints, Brady tossed two interceptions and fumbled the ball, and later found himself being chewed out by head coach Bruce Arians. In Week 2, the Bucs managed to pick up a win over the Carolina Panthers, but it wasn’t exactly because Brady lit things up. He tossed another pick and a lost a fumble while posting a QBR of just 54.1. In two games, Brady has thrown for just 456 yards and three touchdowns to go along with three interceptions and two fumbles (one lost). His QBR of 43.7 is 30th in the NFL. His 79.93 QB rating isn’t much better.