Bill Belichick

Giants Request Permission To Interview Dolphins DC

New Giants head coach Joe Judge continues working to fill out his staff. New York has requested permission to interview Dolphins defensive coordinator Patrick Graham for the same position, according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network. Garafolo adds that the request is expected to be granted.

Generally, teams are hesitant to allow their coaches to interview with other teams unless it is for a clear promotion. However, Judge worked with Graham and current Dolphins head coach Brian Flores with the Patriots, which may make Miami more willing to make an exception. Graham not only shares a history with Judge, but also worked with the Giants from 2016-17, serving as the team’s defensive line coach from 2016-17.

On the surface, it would seem like a surprise for a coach on a 5-11 team to be receiving outside interest, but entering the season many wondered if the Dolphins would manage to win any games. Miami clearly entered the season with a tank in mind, making minimal free agent additions last offseason and trading the team’s best offensive lineman (Laremy Tunsil), defensive back (Minkah Fitzpatrick), and wide receiver (Kenny Stills) early in the season. While the Dolphins are by no means a legitimate contender, they finished the season winning three of their final five games, including wins against the Eagles and Patriots.

Since Judge was relatively unknown before the Giants announced his hiring this week, little is known about the people he might target to fill out his staff. At least to start, it appears he will continue to look to the Bill Belichick coaching tree.

Coaching Notes: Rhule, Giants, Cowboys

Even after Joe Judge‘s standout interview Monday led to him becoming the Giants‘ head coach, the franchise still had Matt Rhule as their preferred candidate. The Panthers‘ seven-year, $62MM offer to the Baylor head coach essentially prompted the Giants to fold their hand on this front, with Ralph Vacchiano of SNY noting Big Blue balked at the contract length and salary. Rhule’s $8.9MM salary makes him the sixth-highest-paid coach in the league — behind Bill Belichick ($12MM per year), Pete Carroll ($11MM AAV), Jon Gruden ($10MM), Sean Payton ($9.8MM) and John Harbaugh ($9MM). The Panthers also paid Baylor a $6MM buyout, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Just months ago, Rhule agreed to an extension with the Big 12 program.

Here is the latest from the coaching front:

  • In addition to missing out on the Ron Rivera boat, the Giants wanted to speak with Mike McCarthy again, Vacchiano adds. The Cowboys swooping in prevented such an opportunity.
  • Big Blue received a ringing Judge endorsement from Belichick, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). The former Giants defensive coordinator and six-time Super Bowl-winning head coach called the Giants to sell them on Judge’s credentials, despite his non-traditional candidacy as a special teams coordinator.
  • Shifting to McCarthy’s Cowboys staff, the team is expected to hire Rams special teams coordinator John Fassel to the same position, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Fassel’s contract was up. The second-generation NFL coach will relocate to Dallas after spending eight seasons with the Rams. Fassel came over from the Raiders in 2012, when Jeff Fisher took over in St. Louis, and stayed on with Sean McVay‘s team for three seasons. Fassel served as Rams interim HC in 2016, after the franchise fired Fisher. The Rams are losing their DC and ST coordinators, with Wade Phillips also out of the picture.
  • Other candidates have surfaced to relocate to Texas. Cowboys assistants expect Saints linebackers coach Mike Nolan to be named Dallas’ new defensive coordinator, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Nolan was the 49ers’ head coach in 2005, when McCarthy served as San Francisco’s OC. Additionally, Redskins defensive line coach Jim Tomsula is on McCarthy’s radar, per Pelissero (on Twitter). Tomsula was the 49ers’ HC in 2015 and has been the Redskins’ D-line coach since 2017.
  • The Bengals and special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons have agreed to an extension, Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (on Twitter). A longtime Dolphins ST boss, Simmons interviewed for the Bengals’ HC job last year and joined Cincinnati’s staff as a key assistant after the top job went to Zac Taylor. Despite Cincinnati’s 2-14 record, the team ranked first in special teams DVOA under its first-year leader.

Patriots Likely To Face Discipline For Video Incident

DEC. 15: Jay Glazer of FOX Sports obtained the much-ballyhooed video, and as Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic tweets, it does indeed contain extended (read: not accidental) footage of the Bengals’ sideline. The video also includes interaction between the Bengals and Patriots staffs, and as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes, when the Bengals confronted the Patriots, the Patriots rep said, “I can delete this right here for you.” The Bengals rep then said, “the damage is done.” Florio believes that dialogue supports New England’s position that the taping of Cincinnati’s sidelines was inadvertent, while skeptics will argue that the Pats were caught red-handed and were just trying to save face.

DEC. 14: It seems like the Patriots aren’t going to be exonerated of wrongdoing by the league for the videotaping incident that dominated headlines this past week. For a full primer on the scandal, click here.

The NFL is “likely to penalize” New England, sources tell Mark Maske of the Washington Post. Maske writes that the league office is “contemplating disciplinary measures in line with those imposed on teams in recent seasons for infractions of game-day rules.” As for the type of punishment, he writes that it could “mean a fine in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and potentially the loss or reduction in value of a draft choice, typically a lower-level pick.” Likewise, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports hears that the team is facing “significant punishment,” which is likely to include the loss of at least one draft pick, heavy fines, and the possibility of a suspension for a member of upper management and/or ownership.

Maske highlights a number of incidents that sources indicated could serve as precedents. The Giants were fined $150K back in 2016 for using walkie-talkies on the sideline, and the Falcons were fined $350K for artificially adding crowd noise in 2015. One source told him that the NFL has been “consistent on game-day violations,” and that will likely continue here. Fortunately for the Pats, Maske writes that Bill Belichick and individual members of the organization aren’t being targeted for potential punishments.

While Roger Goodell had previously said that the Patriots’ history with illegal videotaping would be taken into account, Maske writes that neither Belichick nor anybody else are being “viewed as repeat offenders.” He adds that the penalties aren’t set in stone yet, and deliberations in the league office will resume on Sunday.

The league is apparently hoping for a resolution as soon as possible, so we should know more shortly. All things considered, it doesn’t seem like they’re going to be cracking down too hard or hitting the Patriots with anything too severe. The organization likely wouldn’t lose much sleep over a fine, although obviously a potential draft pick sanction would be much more significant. Notably, Atlanta was docked a fifth-round pick in 2016 for the incident that Maske says is being used as a comparison.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Patriots’ Video Investigation

6:24pm: Roger Goodell confirmed the Patriots’ history with illegal videotaping will be factored into this process, adding that the league will take its time during the investigation into this matter (Twitter links via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com).

10:01am: For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, the Patriots are involved in another scandal involving prohibited filming of another team. Jeff Howe of The Athletic offers a useful summary of the details, which are fairly straightforward.

Essentially, the Patriots’ media production team was filming an episode of “Do Your Job” during the Bengals-Browns game on Sunday. “Do Your Job” is a series of features highlighting less visible members of the organization, and this episode focused on a day in the life of a New England pro scout.

The film crew obtained the necessary credentials to follow that scout to the Cleveland press box for the game (scouts routinely do advance scouting of an upcoming opponent from the press box, and the Patriots play the Bengals this week). Unfortunately for the crew, part of the B-roll that they shot included footage of the Cincinnati sideline, and NFL teams are prohibited from shooting video of coaches on the sideline.

The Patriots acknowledge that they should have done a better job advising the crew of league protocol, and they also concede that they should have informed the Bengals and the league of their intentions prior to the game. In a statement, they accepted full responsibility for the crew’s actions, and Howe suggests that some members of the team’s production wing could lose their jobs.

Howe also says that a Bengals staffer recognized what was happening and shot an eight-minute video of the Patriots crew’s monitor before reporting it to NFL security. The league is now in possession of that video, along with all footage the Patriots shot for this episode of “Do Your Job,” which New England promptly turned over.

All of that makes it sound like an innocent oversight. However, sources tell Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic that the eight-minute video focuses exclusively on the Bengals sideline and includes “a direct view of the sideline as players run on and off the field and coaches make signals for plays.” Those sources suggest that the footage does not include inadvertent glimpses of the sideline during an interview with the scout, but rather an extended shooting of the sideline.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick immediately distanced himself from the incident and was reportedly furious when he learned about it. Per Howe, Belichick said, “I have no involvement in this and no knowledge of it, and so I really don’t have any idea what exactly is going on. I can tell you that we’ve never, as a coaching staff and me personally, have never viewed any video footage at all of anything that those production people have done, other than what’s shown on public television or something like that. But we don’t have anything to do with what they do, so I really don’t have much knowledge of the situation at all.”

The league has not announced a timeline for its investigation, though as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets, it may be difficult for the Patriots to avoid some sort of sanction given their dubious past. For what it’s worth, Belichick was fined $500K and the Patriots were stripped of a 2008 first-round draft pick when they videotaped the Jets’ sideline from an unauthorized location during a 2007 game.

Luckily for Pats fans, though, the league apparently does not believe that this incident rises to the level of the original Spygate, as Mark Maske of the Washington Post tweets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Will Not Re-Sign Antonio Brown

The Patriots could really use another playmaker on offense. Quarterback Tom Brady lashed out at his teammates on the sidelines during last week’s loss to the Texans, and his frustration is understandable. As Mike Reiss of ESPN.com observes, Brady is averaging the fewest yards per attempt (6.72) since the 2002 season, and part of the reason is that his receivers just aren’t getting open. Per NFL Next Gen Stats, Brady has thrown the most tight-window passes over the past three weeks, completing just 30% of them.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) says that Brady has been spending a great deal of time with his wide receivers in the team facility and that he has tried to be more of a leader than he has been in recent seasons, and if the Pats are going to turn things around on offense, the improvement will have to come in-house. Rob Gronkowski is now ineligible to return this year, and as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com writes, the Patriots will not bring back Antonio Brown.

Schefter’s report hardly comes as a surprise, as New England beat writers had the same news in over the past several weeks, and Brown’s recent social media post questioning Patriots owner Robert Kraft‘s desire to win didn’t exactly endear himself to Kraft (who hadn’t shown an inclination to re-sign Brown anyway).

Still, recent reports indicating that Patriots players and coaches would welcome Brown back invited public speculation that a reunion could be in the works, even though the NFL’s investigation into the sexual assault/rape allegations against Brown is still ongoing. Brown could be suspended when the investigation finally does conclude, and given how close we are to the end of the season, it wouldn’t make much sense for any team to sign Brown at this point.

Schefter does says Brown will find work once the league has issued its decision, and he notes that Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has maintained regular contact with a handful of teams. But that work won’t come with the Patriots, who, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, are heading for a major organizational change in 2020. Many expect 2019 to be Brady’s last year in New England, and La Canfora suggests that head coach Bill Belichick and/or high-profile members of his staff could also be on the move.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: Belichick, Packers, Garrett

Ben Volin of The Boston Globe dives into the tape of the Patriots 13-9 victory over the Cowboys on Sunday to explore the ways New England shutdown one of the most prolific offenses in football. Pats head coach Bill Belichick has long been one of the best defensive minds in football and Dallas tight end Jason Witten explained how Sunday’s scheme caused problems,“Even though it’s cover 0, it’s really not. When you think cover 0, you think all-out pressure and man-to-man [coverage]. But they’re dropping out to play whole help, so they have help coming inside. As receivers and quarterbacks, it puts a lot of pressure on you.”

The Pats defense may be one of the most aggressive units in the NFL, but that aggressiveness does not come with the greater risk we have come to expect. Volin notes that while New England has the tenth highest blitz rate in the league, their creative defensive scheme, which includes intricate decoys, limits an opponents ability to take advantage.

  • The Packers have one of the younger assistant coaching staffs in football under rookie head coach Matt LaFleur, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Tom Silverstein and LeRoy Butler of the Milwaukee Sentinel debate whether that could explain the inability for such a talented unit to really dominate opponents and get shutdown by the 49ers this past week. Silverstein opines that a more experienced staff might be better equipped to scheme their team advantages.
  • Cowboys owner Jerry Jones once again offered strong public comments surrounding Dallas head coach Jason Garrett. This morning on Good Morning Football, Jones was asked about Garrett and responded, “I don’t have to win the Super Bowl in business every year. I can come in 6th and have a hell of a year. But in this business, you gotta come in first. I want Jason to get it done.” While the statement does not say anything definitively, it does suggest a certain level of ultimatum for his head coach: win the Super Bowl or else.

Latest On Antonio Brown, Patriots

The Patriots’ decision to end Antonio Brown‘s stay after 11 days may not have been as unanimous as originally reported. Robert Kraft led the charge for the Patriots to jettison the embattled wide receiver, and while Bill Belichick went along with it, Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston notes the 20th-year Pats HC probably would have retained Brown had Kraft not insisted he be released.

Kraft has not been known to intervene in personnel matters, with Curran adding this is believed to be the first time (though, Kraft was reported to have played a role in the Jimmy Garoppolo trade process — something the owner denied). Tom Brady was not on board with Kraft’s decision to cut Brown, Curran adds, noting the future Hall of Fame quarterback’s practice work with the four-time All-Pro was nearly flawless and that Brown’s talent was “beyond anything Brady ever worked with.”

Kraft was reportedly “enraged” upon learning of Brown’s text messages to his second accuser, and it led to the team cutting ties with the perennial Pro Bowler. This led to a mostly deleted Brown Sunday-morning tweetstorm, with the disgruntled receiver referencing Kraft’s involvement in the reported prostitution sting. The Brown saga will still include the Patriots going forward, considering an NFLPA-backed grievance centered around his $9MM signing bonus is likely forthcoming.

While the Patriots will face an obstacle in keeping that $9MM off their books because they deployed Brown in Week 2 after learning of the civil suit filed against him (per Albert Breer of SI.com, on Twitter), the organization will be in line to lean on the contract’s morals clause as well as language indicating Brown’s failure to disclose “any situations that may prevent continued availability” in this upcoming battle. The NFLPA will likely argue that CBA language requires a higher standard to void signing bonus money and would supersede these team-implemented clauses, CBS Sports’ Joel Corry writes.

The Pats are set to carry $5.75MM on their 2019 cap because of this process, with Corry adding a grievance likely will not be settled until 2020. A $4.5MM cap credit would come the Pats’ way, in addition to Brown’s $4.75MM 2020 charge being removed from New England’s books, should the team prevail in the grievance.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Antonio Brown Rumors: Kraft, Suitors, Cap

Antonio Brown‘s latest stay in free agency is, as expected, lasting longer than his brief unattached period between his Raiders and Patriots stints. He remains unemployed as Week 3 Sunday nears. Here is the latest from the Brown rumor mill, beginning with more on the Patriots’ decision to cut him:

  • Robert Kraft became “enraged” while learning the details of Brown sending texts to a woman who accused him of sexual misconduct, and Jeff Howe of The Athletic reports (subscription required) he and Bill Belichick then spoke of the receiver’s status in New England. The two Pats power brokers agreed Brown had to go, after only 11 days with the team. The report from SI.com’s Robert Klemko about the messages broke late Thursday night, and barely 12 hours later, Brown had seen a third team part ways with him in less than seven months.
  • While the Patriots are expected to have an avenue to avoid paying Brown anything beyond his Week 2 and Week 3 base salaries, Field Yates of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter) the receiver is still counting $4.5MM on New England’s cap. As it stands currently, Brown represents a $4.5MM cap hold on the Pats’ 2019 and ’20 cap sheets.
  • If and when a Brown grievance comes regarding his $9MM signing bonus — which was set to be paid in two installments, Monday and then in early 2020 — Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap writes a Patriots victory in that setting would give them more than $5MM in 2020 cap credits.
  • The Seahawks have already come out and said they are not interested in Brown this time around. Another suitor who was interested earlier this month is bowing out this time, too, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (video link). This may be a common refrain, as Brown is dealing with far more troublesome issues than he was when the Raiders cut the cord.
  • It would be hard to imagine the Redskins pursuing Brown, considering what Jay Gruden saw his brother go through over the summer in trying to manage the mercurial talent, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes the NFC East franchise should not be ruled out. This is the team that placed a waiver claim on Reuben Foster when no one else did, and Florio adds this could be more of a Dan SnyderBruce Allen decision. Foster had been arrested on multiple occasions when Washington claimed him, and it does not appear an arrest is in the cards for Brown. The Redskins are also 0-2 and thin on skill-position talent. For now, the 31-year-old superstar is in the clear to seek NFL employment, though a commissioner’s exempt list stay may be on the horizon if he signs anywhere. That will hurt his chances of playing for another team in 2019.

East Notes: Belichick, Patriots, Jets, Giants

Patriots coach Bill Belichick is known for finding diamonds in the rough. He’s turned MAC quarterback Julian Edelman into a star receiver, and made numerous other brilliant discoveries. The draft apparently isn’t the only place he looks for these unheralded gems, as Zach Cox of NESN.com pointed out in a recent interesting piece. The Patriots are holding joint practices with the Lions right now, and Cox points out that Belichick always uses these joint practices to scout the opposing team’s players for guys he might want to pick up when they’re later cut.

“From 2012 to 2017, New England participated in 11 rounds of joint practices with seven different opponents. In all 11 cases, at least one member of the opposing team went on to sign with the Patriots,” Cox writes. That’s a pretty incredible streak, and it shows that the Patriots are paying extremely close attention during these joint sessions. It’ll be interesting to see which current member of the Lions ends up signing with New England later this year.

Here’s more from the league’s eastern divisions:

  • We’ve got the full details on Ryan Kalil‘s contract with the Jets, courtesy of Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The one-year, $8.4MM pact includes a $3MM signing bonus, 2.4MM in base non-guaranteed salary, and a $3.4MM roster bonus. The total guarantee is just the $3MM signing bonus. Kalil recently came out of retirement, and the veteran center’s presence should be a huge boost to the rest of the offensive line and Sam Darnold‘s protection. Even though the majority of his money is non-guaranteed, it would take something truly shocking for him not to end up collecting it all.
  • The Giants have had a brutal stretch of luck with their receivers. Just in the past few weeks, Corey Coleman tore his ACL, Sterling Shepard suffered a broken thumb, and Golden Tate was suspended for the first four games of the season. Shepard will likely be back for Week 1, but the options after him aren’t too appealing. As of right now it looks like Cody Latimer will be the second receiver to open the season, while Bennie Fowler will be the third, according to Matt Lombardo of NJ.com. Latimer is a former second-round pick of the Broncos who is looking to reinvent himself with the Giants. He spent last year in New York, catching 11 passes for 190 yards in only six games. Fowler is also a former Bronco who caught 16 balls for 199 yards in his first season with the Giants last year. Eli Manning (or Daniel Jones) won’t be in an easy situation when the season opens.
  • In case you missed it, the Dolphins signed former Cardinals first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche

AFC East Notes: Brady, Dolphins, Bills

A potentially important situation that has been flying a bit under the radar is Tom Brady‘s contract. The Patriots quarterback is quietly entering the final season of his deal, and there hasn’t been any word on if there’s even been any extension talks. Right now both sides appear set to let things play out, which is interesting to say the least. If they don’t get something done then, as Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com points out, New England “will have a big decision to make in early 2020.” Florio writes that the Pats will have four options, “to re-sign Brady before he becomes a free agent, whether to let him become a free agent and then try to re-sign him, whether to not even try to re-sign him at all, or whether to apply the franchise tag.”

Florio writes that in the franchise tag scenario, Brady would have “a ton of leverage,” since the tag would pay him $32.4MM, the most ever on a tag. Florio speculates that the Patriots could be hesitant to pay him that much, and he wonders whether Brady will be willing to again take a discount like he has in the past. He writes that “other teams may start poking around agent Don Yee to see if Brady wants to make a late-career change of venue, and they may start throwing around numbers that Brady would not be able to refuse.” It’s all speculative at this point, but it’s fascinating to think about. Bill Belichick can be stubborn, but the thought of him letting Brady walk is still pretty hard to believe.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Speaking of Belichick and Brady’s contract, signing Brady to a new deal “that will pay him upwards of $30M for his 43- and 44-year-old seasons gives Bill Belichick the vapors,” writes Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston. Curran writes that Brady wants an extension that ensures he retires with the Patriots but that “he’s been put off, mildly placated or — in the case of last year — downright disrespected with incentive-laden ‘sing for your supper’ incentive bonuses.” Curran seems to think that there’s real tension between the two sides, that Belichick isn’t too eager to commit anything major, and that Robert Kraft ultimately might end up intervening. Curran writes that his “feeling is that he’s going to let Kraft do this deal so that Belichick has plausible deniability in case Brady faceplants.” This will be an important situation to monitor moving forward.
  • The Dolphins fired offensive line coach Pat Flaherty earlier this week and replaced him with Dave DeGuglielmo, and DeGuglielmo has wasted no time retooling the unit. The “Dolphins made wholesale lineup changes in practice Tuesday,” to their offensive line, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. In DeGuglielmo’s first day as the offensive line coach, “rookie Michael Deiter and Will Holden took over the first team left and right guard spots, replacing Chris Reed and Jesse Davis,” Jackson writes. Davis kicked over to right tackle, sending Jordan Mills to the second team. DeGuglielmo received a lot of praise for his work as the Colts’ offensive line coach last year, and it was a surprise when he was ousted in January. He’s clearly taking charge in Miami, and it sounds like the only two locked in players on the Dolphins’ line are Laremy Tunsil at left tackle and Daniel Kilgore at center.
  • Potentially troubling news for the Bills, as center Mitch Morse is still in the concussion protocol, according to Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic (Twitter link). Morse is one of the league’s best centers when healthy, but he’s dealt with concussion issues and other injuries in his last two seasons with the Chiefs. In 2018 he played in only 11 games, and in 2017 only seven. Buscaglia notes that Bills coach Sean McDermott wouldn’t comment “about the amount of concern they might have with Morse suffering a fourth documented concussion,” since the protocol won’t allow him to. The Bills had one of the worst offensive lines in football last year, and signing Morse to his huge four-year deal was supposed to help revamp the unit. Normally a concussion this time of year wouldn’t be big news, but given Morse’s lengthy history of concussion issues this could be something that lingers. It’ll be important to monitor how he progresses.