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#pounditTuesday, December 1, 2020

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Report: NFL execs feel Bruce Arians not playing to Tom Brady’s strengths

Tom Brady Bucs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has criticized Tom Brady publicly on multiple occasions this season, but many feel the quarterback is not the one to blame. Some NFL executives and scouts reportedly believe Arians has not done enough to cater to Brady’s strengths.

Many who have scouted the Bucs feel the offensive system has been the primary reason for Brady’s struggles as of late, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Those scouts and executives have noticed a reliance on the vertical passing game, which has not been Brady’s strong suit for years. That is the style of offense for which Arians has become known, but it’s not hard to believe that a 43-year-old quarterback who has thrived in the short-to-intermediate passing game would not excel in it.

“They want to get their best players on the field as much as they can and try to throw it deep and beat you that way,” one executive told La Canfora. “There’s kind of one way of doing things and if it works, it works. And if it doesn’t, then you’re (screwed). They aren’t willing to try to reinvent themselves to win that particular game.”

Arians has placed blame on Brady multiple time following losses this season, most recently when he said Brady misread coverages in his two-interception performance against the Los Angeles Rams. Brady has chosen not to respond when asked about the remarks, though sources close to him told La Canfora the criticisms have “clearly not gone unnoticed.”

Brady has nine interceptions this season and five in Tampa Bay’s last three games. If you want to know how he has fared in the deep passing game, look no further than these stats.

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have teamed up yet again! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Tampa Fiesta shirt. You can buy it here.

Steph Curry had savage Twitter reaction to Nate Robinson being knocked out

Steph Curry

Steph Curry had a savage reaction to his former teammate Nate Robinson getting knocked out on Saturday night.

Curry sent a tweet of encouragement to Robinson prior to the ex-NBA player’s pro boxing debut against Jake Paul at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif. later that evening.

Robinson wrote back to Curry by saying he would “shock the world bro.”

Well, Robinson got knocked out cold by Paul in the second round of their fight (video here).

Following the knockout loss, Curry acknowledged that Robinson did shock the world, just not in the way the former NBA player was hoping to.

That’s harsh.

Robinson and Curry were teammates on the Golden State Warriors in 2011-2012. Let’s say that things are going better for Curry than for Robinson these days.

Photo: Cyrus Saatsaz/Wikimedia via CC-BY-SA 4.0

Royce Freeman, Kendall Hinton could be quarterback options for Broncos

Royce Freeman

The Denver Broncos will not have an actual quarterback available for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints after all were deemed out due to COVID-19 protocol.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. The team’s other three quarterbacks — Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles — were removed from practice on Saturday due to contact tracing rules. Later on Saturday, all their quarterbacks were ruled ineligible for the game. The Broncos’ game against the New Orleans Saints is still set to go on as scheduled.

So what will the Broncos do at quarterback for the game? That is the big question.

The Broncos appear to have two options at quarterback. One would be running back Royce Freeman, who played running back in high school, college and plays it in the NFL. He is an emergency quarterback for the team. Freeman did throw one touchdown pass in college at Oregon.

Another option could be Kendall Hinton, who is on the team as a practice squad wide receiver. Hinton began his college career playing quarterback for three seasons at Wake Forest before switching to wide receiver as a senior. Hinton went 133/251 (53.0 percent) for 1,504 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions at Wake Forest.

The interesting part about the game is there will be running-focused quarterbacks on either side, as the Saints are using Taysom Hill due to Drew Brees’ injury. This is not an ideal situation for the Broncos or the NFL, to say the least.

Photo: Jeffrey Beall/Wikimedia via cc-by 4.0

Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn fired by Lions

Matt Patricia

Once again, the Detroit Lions are cleaning house.

The organization confirmed Saturday that head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn have both been fired. The decision comes two days after a blowout 41-25 loss on Thanksgiving to the Houston Texans, which dropped the team to 4-7.

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will serve as the team’s interim head coach.

Neither move comes as a huge surprise at this point. Patricia simply has not succeeded as the Lions’ coach. He departs with a record of 13-29-1 over parts of three seasons. He did not post a winning season or make the playoffs during his tenure.

Quinn took over as the Lions’ GM in January 2016. The team went 9-7 and made the playoffs in his first season, but have not done so since, with the record getting progressively worse during his tenure. In addition, Patricia was his hand-picked coaching hire after the firing of Jim Caldwell on the heels of a 9-7 season in 2017. The Lions have not put together a winning season since.

Ownership made clear that Quinn and Patricia were expected to deliver a contending team in 2020. They did not come close to doing so. Judging by comments made by the team’s most prominent player, the writing was very much on the wall.

Urban Meyer shares bold take on what Michigan must do to turn things around

Urban Meyer

The Michigan Wolverines’ disappointing season has left many trying to diagnose the problems plaguing the program. Urban Meyer has a particularly strong stance on what the program must do to turn things around.

Meyer said on Saturday’s edition of “Big Noon Kickoff” that the culture of the Michigan program needs a total rethink. In addition, he pointed out Michigan’s failures when it comes to recruiting and player development.

“I think it’s time to blow it up,” Meyer said. “I think it’s time to really evaluate the culture, dig deep. 2-5, there’s something going on. And once again, I said this a couple weeks ago, don’t start saying they’re bad players. That’s not fair. … You have got to really lift that hood and say okay, tell me about our culture. Is it the right culture? Do we need to change? Second, talent acquisition. Are we recruiting the right players?”

Meyer clarified that “blow it up” did not mean firing coach Jim Harbaugh, but rather taking a hard look at the culture of the program and making the necessary changes.

“Any time you say that, where do you go?” Meyer said. “He is a great football coach. He won 70 percent of his games in the NFL. You can’t all of a sudden say he’s a bad football coach. That’s not fair. But football programs are complicated. I always tell people they’re living organisms. Are you solid in culture? Are you solid in talent acquisition and your plan? If not, fix it.”

Meyer has identified these issues before. Michigan fans may not be keen on taking advice from the former head coach of their rival, but it’s hard to argue with him. Sometimes has gotten stale in Ann Arbor. Harbaugh is six years in now, and things aren’t clicking. Michigan probably won’t hire a better coach, but the messaging could certainly change.

Kirk Ferentz goes off on Nebraska over complaints about clapping

Kirk Ferentz

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz delivered an all-time great postgame rant Friday over Nebraska’s complaints about his sideline’s clapping.

The Cornhuskers had serious issues in the first half of Friday’s game, with center Cam Jurgens uncorking a series of bad snaps. The problem seemed fixed in the second half. After the game, Nebraska coach Scott Frost attributed Jurgens’ issues to clapping on the Iowa sideline. Video did show that at least one Iowa coach was clapping while Nebraska was lining up to snap the ball. Frost added that he had addressed the issue with referees at halftime, and there were no further issues.

Ferentz was asked about this postgame and launched into an epic rant at Nebraska’s expense.

“So maybe they need to change their cadence if it was interference of cadence. I don’t know,” Ferentz said. “I’ve never heard of that. Never heard of that. If a player was on the field doing it, I get that. But what are we talking about? The next thing you know we’re going to be treating this like golf. I was going to say tennis, but they do that at tennis. At golf, nobody is able to say anything, right?

“What are we talking about? It’s football, right? It’s football. Are they okay with how I dressed today? Should I be changing my pants, different shirt? What are we talking about?”

Ferentz has had quite the month on the postgame media front. The guy breaks out some of his best lines when he’s ornery.

Tom Brady trolls Charles Barkley after ‘turrible’ shot in ‘The Match’

Tom Brady Bucs

Tom Brady has his opportunity on Friday to get some revenge on Charles Barkley and took it.

Barkley sliced a shot into the rocks and cactus during “The Match” on Friday. Brady razzed Barkley about the poor shot by saying it was “turrible,” which is Barkley’s way of saying “terrible.”

Yes, that shot was “turrible,” so Brady’s tweet was more than called for.

You may recall that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback participated in “The Match” in May and was roasted over his struggles.

For Friday’s event, Barkley was partnered with Phil Mickelson in the modified alternate shot format. The duo faced Steph Curry and Peyton Manning at Stone Canyon Golf Club in Oro Valley, Arizona.

Since Barkley was partnered with Mickelson, he could afford to take some chances on drives, knowing that Mickelson’s shot would count most often. Still, you don’t want to embarrass yourself that badly on the course.

At least Chuck’s golf swing looked much better than how it normally does.

Tom Herman’s decision to not kick FG costs Texas in loss to Iowa State

Tom Herman

Texas head coach Tom Herman made a questionable decision to not take an easy field goal late in his team’s game against Iowa State on Friday, and it proved to be costly.

The Longhorns were leading 20-16 midway through the fourth quarter when their drive stalled at the Iowa State 13-yard line. Rather than kicking a field goal to give his team a 23-16 lead, Herman opted to go for it on 4th-and-2. Texas was stuffed and turned the ball over on downs.

Herman’s call initially didn’t appear to hurt Texas, as their defense forced a punt on the ensuing drive. However, Texas then went three-and-out and punted it back to Iowa State. The Cyclones scored a touchdown on that drive to take a 23-20 lead with just 1:44 remaining in the game.

That 1:44 wasn’t enough time for Texas to secure a game-winning field goal. They moved the ball down the field, but quarterback Sam Ehlinger took a bad sack near midfield and turned a reasonable field goal attempt into a 57-yarder, which sailed wide left.

Had Herman taken the three points earlier in the fourth quarter, the worst-case scenario for Texas likely would have been overtime. Going for it on 4th-and-2 doesn’t sound crazy, but the Longhorns would have been in better shape if they took a 23-16 lead at that stage in the game.

Texas had a chance to stay alive for the Big 12 Championship Game with a win, so the loss to No. 13 Iowa State was particularly painful.

All eyes will be on Herman now down the stretch. Texas is 5-3 on the season and 30-18 under Herman overall. The coach has drawn criticism from Texas alumni and fans this year. It would not be a shock if he is fired before the end of the season.

Ex-Patriot says Tom Brady needs new head coach with Bucs

Bruce Arians

Tom Brady has struggled over the past three games, and many believe the 43-year-old is simply showing his age. Rob Ninkovich, who was teammates with Brady in New England, views Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians as the root of the problems.

Ninkovich said on ESPN’s “Get Up!” Thursday morning that Brady needs a new head coach. The former linebacker strongly disagrees with the approach Arians has taken with the media this season, which has been to criticize Brady and blame the quarterback for missing open receivers and misreading coverages.

“I’m giving Tom Brady a new head coach because Bruce Arians, at this point, is not cutting it. All his interviews, he has thrown players under the bus,” Ninkovich said. “Asking him about (Antonio Brown and he says), ‘Well, A.B. was open on that play.’ Asking him about Tom Brady being confused by coverages — I don’t think Tom Brady gets confused by coverages. Honestly, to throw him under the bus like that and to come out and the media and say the things he says…”

Brady has thrown five interceptions over the past three games, two of which were losses for the Bucs. Arians was critical of Brady after the loss, and that was not the first time the coach has called out Brady publicly this season.

There were questions from the start about what type of fit Brady would be in Tampa. Arians has a much different coaching style from Bill Belichick, which is probably something that appealed to Brady after two decades with the Patriots. What Brady may not have envisioned was his head coach throwing him under the bus on numerous occasions. If the Bucs miss the playoffs or continue losing, that could become an even bigger issue.

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have teamed up yet again! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Tampa Fiesta shirt. You can buy it here.

Ravens reportedly ‘rattled’ by COVID outbreak, have closed facility

John Harbaugh

The Baltimore Ravens are struggling with a COVID-19 outbreak this week and said to be “rattled” by it.

Four more players and one staff member reportedly tested positive, the team learned Thursday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Quarterback Lamar Jackson reportedly was among those who tested positive.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported Thursday that the organization is “rattled.”

Schefter says the organization has shut down its practice facility until Monday at the earliest.

The Ravens’ game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was originally scheduled for Thursday night but got postponed until Sunday. Now that game is in danger of taking place this weekend due to the increased amount of people to test positive.

Photo: Maryland National Guard