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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Football

Jason Garrett had method to try breaking Cowboys’ slump

Jason Garrett

The Dallas Cowboys have been in a tailspin lately but still have a shot to make the playoffs thanks to the poor quality of the NFC East this season.

Dallas has lost three in a row and four of their last five. But they’re still tied for the division lead at 6-7.

Jason Garrett is trying to break the team’s slump and came up with a new way to do it: motivate his players with a highlight reel to show them how good they can be.

Garrett is in a difficult spot due to a lack of support from Jerry Jones. He will have a difficult time reaching players who recognize the coach has little authority since he is unlikely to be back next year. But the one thing he might be able to do is help motivate them, and this is one way to do it.

Jerry Jones better hope it works, since the owner’s comments really threw off the team.

Sam Darnold: ‘Seeing ghosts’ mic’d up comment got ‘blown out of proportion’

Sam Darnold

Sam Darnold thinks his “seeing ghosts” comment that went viral during a “Monday Night Football” game earlier this season against the New England Patriots was blown out of proportion.

Back in October, Darnold was playing his second game since returning from mono. He went 11/32 for 86 yards and four interceptions as his New York Jets lost 33-0. Darnold was wearing a microphone for the game, and ESPN shared a clip of the quarterback admitting on the sidelines he was “seeing ghosts.”

Darnold addressed the comment during an interview with FOX’s Kristina Pink prior to the Thursday night game between his Jets and the Baltimore Ravens.

“At the moment, I wasn’t even thinking ‘I’m mic’d up, if I say this, these are going to be the repercussions for it.’ After the game, one of my buddies sent it to me on Instagram to be funny. I was like, ‘bro, we just got whooped, that’s not funny.’

“It got blown out of proportion, but it was definitely something that I learned from.”

Darnold’s remark became both a catchphrase and controversy. Jets head coach Adam Gase was upset with ESPN for airing the comments, while some with the Patriots were pleased about it, feeling it was an endorsement of their defense. And just like Darnold said he has learned from it, Gase says the young quarterback has grown since then too.

Report: Bill Belichick furious over Patriots’ videotaping incident

Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick emphatically denied having anything to do with a New England Patriots videographer illegally filming the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline during Sunday’s game in Cleveland, but that does not mean the coach is blowing the incident off. Apparently, Belichick is livid.

Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston wrote on Thursday that Belichick is “beside himself” about what took place in Cleveland. The future Hall of Famer hates distractions, and there’s no question this has become one. Not only that, but it stems from something that was done by Kraft Sports Entertainment, which has to do with the Patriots brand and not the football side of things.

As Curran puts it, Belichick “tolerates the intrusion of Kraft Sports Entertainment” and understands the importance of an NFL team promoting its brand. He also appreciates football history and recently took part in NFL Network’s multi-part special for its NFL 100 All-Time Team, so he has been known to partake in documentaries like “Do Your Job,” which was the reason the Patriots had a production crew in Cleveland. However, the mistake — which the Patriots insist was an honest one — has now led to other scandals making their way back into the news and is already being viewed by some as another stain on Belichick’s legacy.

Assuming he truly did have nothing to do with the alleged footage a videographer captured of Cincinnati’s sideline, it’s easy to see why Belichick is angry. There’s essentially nothing he can say to convince a portion of the population that he’s telling the truth, even though early indications are the Patriots would have gained virtually nothing from what was recorded.

Like Spygate and Deflategate before it, the incident in Cleveland will surely blow over. Belichick knows that, but he also knows his team is coming off a tough loss and seems to be getting weaker as the season goes along. The last thing the Patriots needed was another controversy, let alone one that was created by someone Belichick may not even know.

Jarvis Landry insists Odell Beckham ‘doesn’t want to leave’ Browns

Odell Beckham Jr Browns

Odell Beckham Jr has had a disappointing first season with the Cleveland Browns, and there has been a lot of talk that it could also be his last. The star wide receiver has not really addressed that directly, but one of his teammates and close friends has no problem speaking on OBJ’s behalf.

Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry told reporters on Thursday that he is confident Beckham does not want to leave Cleveland.

“I think he wants to be here. I know he wants to be here,” Landry said. “It’s not even about trying to go somewhere else. I think for him he’s been the leader. He’s a guy that comes to work every day and that’s playing through injuries and all the things you want out of a player. And inside this organization, he has a voice. He has responsibility to himself, to all of us to go out there and compete each and every Sunday. And he does that.”

While Landry could just be trying to take some heat off of his teammate, his opinion is noteworthy. He and Beckham played together at LSU before turning pro and have maintained a close relationship.

Baker Mayfield had a similar take on Beckham’s status with the Browns earlier this week, but Beckham has largely avoided the subject. His future in Cleveland first became a big story when he said he is unsure if he will be with — or want to be with — the team next season, and one report claims he has been telling opponents he wants out. The Browns would likely prefer to keep OBJ after they gave up a first-round pick and then some for him, but it remains to be seen if he will try to force the team’s hand.

Jameis Winston struggling to grip football with hand injury

Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston is on the verge of becoming the first player in NFL history to throw 30 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions in the same season, but he may fall short of that mark if his hand injury forces him to sit out in Week 15.

Winston suffered an injury to his throwing hand in last week’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said an X-ray revealed a tiny fracture. Winston played through the injury for much of the game, but he has not been able to throw footballs in practice this week. He was spotted throwing tennis balls on Thursday.

That certainly isn’t a good sign for Winston’s availability. The Bucs are no longer in playoff contention, so there isn’t any real incentive to have Winston play. He may push to play since he is scheduled to become a free agent this winter, but he has enough trouble protecting the ball when his hand is healthy.

The Bucs already lost Mike Evans in last week’s game when he injured himself on one of his patented long touchdown catches, and they could be even more shorthanded than expected against the Detroit Lions.

Look: Boston newspaper from 2000 hilariously rips ‘Loserville’ sports teams

Bill Belichick

The four major Boston-area sports teams have enjoyed tremendous success over the past two decades, but it was not always championship trophies and MVP awards for the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins. If you dig up an old newspaper from the turn of the century, you might find what many would consider a surreal reminder of that.

Darren Rovell tweeted a photo on Thursday that showed the cover of the sports section in The Patriot Ledger — a publication in Quincy, Mass. — from Dec. 12, 2000. It featured cartoon sketches of Patriots coach Bill Belichick, former Celtics coach Rick Pitino, former Bruins coach Mike Keenan and ex-Red Sox manager Jimy Williams. The headline read “Welcome to LOSERVILLE.”

As Rovell notes, things have changed quite dramatically since then. The teams have combined for 12 championships, with the Patriots winning six of those. The cartoon featured a bubble coming from Belichick that said, “I should have stayed with the Jets,” but something tells us the future Hall of Famer is happy with his decision (even if he is dealing with another annoying controvery).

At the time the paper was published, the Red Sox — still in a historic World Series drought — had missed the playoffs. The Bruins and Celtics were also on their way to missing the postseason, with the Celtics not having been to the playoffs in five years. The Patriots went 5-11 that season before winning their first title the following year.

Talk about your all-time turnarounds.

H/T Wardo

Dan Mullen sounds like he would be open to Cowboys head coaching job

Dan Mullen

Dan Mullen seems like a long shot to be considered for the Dallas Cowboys head coaching job if the team parts ways with Jason Garrett, but you won’t be surprised to hear that he sounds open to it.

Mullen was asked on Wednesday about the rumors linking him to Dallas, and he didn’t exactly dismiss them. He said he hasn’t considered a move to the NFL since he has no experience coaching at that level, but he admitted he “would probably consider it” if somebody called him.

You can interpret that a number of ways, but Mullen could have just as easily said he has no interest in leaving Florida. If nothing else, his response lets NFL teams know he is willing to listen.

College football reporter Bruce Fledman said on “The Rich Eisen Show” recently that NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah predicted Mullen will be the next head coach of the Cowboys. The idea sounds farfetched, but Mullen did coach Dak Prescott at Mississippi State. He also has deep ties to Urban Meyer, as he served as an assistant on Meyer’s staff at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. Meyer, of course, has been the hottest name linked to the Dallas job.

The Cowboys are expected to explore a number of options if they ultimately decide not to bring Garrett back, and that includes pursuing a current NFL head coach who is under contract with an NFC rival. It seems unlikely that Mullen is near the top of the list, but perhaps he will get an interview.