New year, new Marcus Smart.
Well, kind of.
Boston Celtics Media Day is set to take place Monday in Canton, Mass., and right away Smart showed off some new styles. In a video shared by the Celtics, Smart sported not only a new hairstyle, but also a Celtics bathrobe over his uniform.
Get a load of this.
[email protected]_MS3 is ready for his close up #CelticsMediaDay pic.twitter.com/gV5tCRTiq7
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) September 30, 2019
Smart was part of the Team USA FIBA World Cup team this summer, but was limited throughout due to a left quad strain.
Celtics training camp officially begins Tuesday in Brighton, with the first game taking place Sunday at TD Garden against the Charlotte Hornets.
Bill Belichick doesn’t believe cornerback Jonathan Jones did anything wrong on the play that landed Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen in concussion protocol.
Jones was flagged for unnecessary roughness after drilling a scrambling Allen during the fourth quarter of the New England Patriots’ 16-10 win Sunday at New Era Field.
“When there really isn’t anything you can tell him to do differently, then I think you don’t tell him anything,” Belichick said in a conference call Monday morning. “I mean, Allen’s a big runner. He’s a strong guy. He’s hard to tackle. He certainly broke several tackles against us. Jon turned when he hit him. He didn’t lead with his head. He didn’t have that posture.”
Bills coach Sean McDermott said Jones should have been ejected for his hit on Allen, which stopped the 6-foot-5, 238-pound signal-caller 1 yard shy of a first down on third-and-8. Al Riveron, the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating, disagreed, telling a pool reporter the league office “didn’t feel that that contact rose to the level of an ejection.”
“The player actually turns,” Riveron said, referring to Jones, who did not lead with the crown of his helmet. “Obviously, there is helmet contact, but we have standards for an ejection, and this did not rise to that standard.”
Belichick pointed to Riveron’s assessment when asked about the play Monday morning.
“I think Al Riveron talked about the play (Sunday), and that’s what we have to go by,” the Patriots coach said. “So we’ll coach it based on what Al’s guidelines or commentary was on the play.”
Many people reacted to Jonathan Jones’ hit on Josh Allen by taking a lazy, incorrect stance: Jones delivered a dirty hit that, at the very least, warranted ejection from the game. Yes, the optics were bad — Jones did make contact with Allen’s head — but the Buffalo Bills quarterback, who left the game with a concussion, lowered his helmet and initiated the contact.
But forget what the replays and various camera angles show you. Ultimately, this play featured a player fighting for a first down, and another player refusing to let him reach it — it was a football play. Not all helmet-to-helmet contact spawns from nefarious intentions.
Alas, that didn’t stop the Buffalo News from taking a predictably biased stance on the matter.
Check out the cover of Monday’s paper:
Buffalo News going frame by frame of Jonathan Jones’ hit on Josh Allen on the front page. Sorry, Buffalo — it was a penalty, but not dirty or ejection-worthy pic.twitter.com/7QbBK6irxt
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) September 30, 2019
Unsurprisingly, the locker rooms were divided on the play after the New England Patriots’ 16-10 win at New Era Field on Sunday.
Jones and his Patriots teammates felt the play didn’t even warrant a penalty, while Bills players deployed the tired “what if that happened to Tom Brady” argument. Believe it or not, the NFL and the officials might have had the most reasoned take on the matter.
It remains to be seen whether Jones will receive further discipline for the hit. Will the NFL stick to its guns, or will it allow itself to be influenced by phony internet outrage?
If the league makes the correct call, you can bet the Buffalo News will have something to say about it.
Update (11:04 a.m. ET): The NFL reportedly will not suspend Jonathan Jones.
From @gmfb: #Bills QB Josh Allen is in the concussion protocol and #Patriots CB Jonathan Jones won’t be suspended… but #Raiders LB Vontaze Burfict is expected to be suspended for his hit. pic.twitter.com/pqkqa5lv2Y
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 30, 2019
The most challenging offseason in recent Boston Red Sox history technically began Monday, but given the team’s struggles in 2019, the defending World Series champions got a head-start on things.
The Red Sox fell out of contention in August and September, allowing them to turn their focus to an offseason that could be littered with change. Red Sox ownership stated last week the goal is to get the payroll under Major League Baseball’s competitive balance tax, an initiative that coincides with difficult decisions about two of the club’s biggest offensive threats.
J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts undoubtedly will be the focal points of the offseason for the Red Sox. The club will officially learn in the five days following the World Series whether Martinez will opt out of his contract. With Betts, meanwhile, his lingering contract status (he can hit the market next winter) means some difficult decisions are on the horizon.
Can the Red Sox somehow retain both Martinez and Betts for the long term while also getting under the CBT? It’s possible, Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy said Monday, but it won’t be easy.
“There is a way, but obviously it will be difficult given the nature of the agreements and the contracts we have in place,” Kennedy said Monday at Fenway Park. “We have a very targeted and strategic plan that we’re building now. Some of the dates related to contract decisions come right after the World Series. So we’ve had some time in September to focus on the offseason given where we were in the standings. It is going to be a challenging offseason, but we’re ready to attack it head-on and do everything we can to put a competitive team out there not just for next year but 2021, 2022.”
With Martinez, Kennedy acknowledged the club is in wait-and-see mode, admitting the club hasn’t engaged in any “specific discussions” with Martinez. The situation regarding Betts is a little less defined. The 2020 season is the final of Betts’ first contract, and obviously the two sides haven’t been able to find common ground on a long-term contract extension. Betts and his representation seem hellbent on reaching free agency, seemingly meaning the Red Sox would have to blow away with the Betts camp with a huge offer to keep in him Boston for the long term. Of course, that would appear to run counter to getting the club under the CBT — even if Martinez leaves.
“It’s not frustrating because I think it speaks to Mookie’s confidence and how special of a player he is,” Kennedy said. “He really does love it here. He told me he loves it here. He told (senior vice president of baseball operations) Raquel Ferreira he loves it here. He told (manager Alex Cora) he loves it here. You can see with the joy and energy and enthusiasm in which he approaches he playing baseball at Fenway Park — the fans love him.”
Kennedy, however, did say the goal was to reduce payroll but that it wasn’t a hard and fast mandate.
“John (Henry) said there is a goal to try to get under the CBT in 2020. But he also said, and Tom (Werner) followed up and clarified, that that’s a goal and not a mandate,” Kennedy said. “We spent some time over the weekend as a group with the baseball ops transition team about different scenarios where you can see the possibility if there are strategic decisions that would cause us to go over that could be a possibility.”
Finding a way to keep both Betts and Martinez long term seems like it would fall under those “strategic decisions,” but that’s easier said than done at this point.
One can imagine what Sundays must be like for David Andrews.
Andrews, a stalwart on the Patriots’ offensive line since 2015, was forced to forfeit his 2019 season due to a blood clot in his lung. While resigning to being a spectator can be awfully tough for athletes, the veteran center can take solace in the fact that New England is off to a 4-0 start to the campaign.
The Patriots’ latest victory came Sunday afternoon in a nail-biter against the Buffalo Bills. The reigning Super Bowl champions turned in another stout defensive effort, which included Devin McCourty’s fourth interception in as many games. Andrews was happy to see his teammate rack up another pick, but it’s safe to say he wishes he could have been out there on the field with him.
Me dancing at home by myself watching @McCourtyTwins interception each week pic.twitter.com/iQBjUxCvid
— David Andrews (@dandrews61) September 30, 2019
New England certainly could have used Andrews in its Week 4 divisional showdown. The Bills were able to generate consistent pressure on Tom Brady, who was limited to 150 passing yards in a forgettable performance.
It might be a long time before we see Vontaze Burfict on a football field again.
The Oakland Raiders linebacker was ejected from Sunday’s game against Colts after delivering a vicious head-to-head hit on Jack Doyle. The Indianapolis tight did not appear to be injured and remained in the game.
As for the oft-suspended Burfict, he is facing a season-long ban for the hit, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.
Check out this tweet:
Vontaze Burfict is facing a season-long suspension for his late conduct on field, per source.
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) September 30, 2019
That would represent the strictest discipline yet for Burfict, who received multiple fines and three suspensions during his seven-year career with the Cincinnati Bengals.
In fact, the reported season-long suspension would be a first in NFL history, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
If Vontaze Burfict is suspended for rest of season, as @mortreport reports, it would be the longest suspension for an on-field act in NFL history.
Albert Haynesworth was suspended five games for kicking, then stomping on Cowboys’ C Andre Gurode’s face. Gurode needed 30 stitches.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 30, 2019
Is a season-long suspension a bit harsh? Absolutely.
However, Burfict has nobody to blame but himself for the position he’s in.
It has arrived earlier than anyone on Jersey Street wanted, but the Boston Red Sox offseason begins Monday.
The defending World Series champions won’t get a chance to defend their crown this October after missing the playoffs in 2019. What now awaits the club is an offseason likely to feature a ton of change, as Boston’s No. 1 objective is to find someone new to head up the baseball operations.
Before Boston continues the search for Dave Dombrowski’s replacement, the Red Sox brain trust will meet with the media Monday morning at Fenway Park. Team president Sam Kennedy, manager Alex Cora and assistant general managers Brian O’Halloran and Eddie Romero will provide an update on the team as it gets ready for a long offseason.
NESN and NESN.com will carry the press conferences live, and you can watch them in the video above.
It’s awfully rare to see Tom Brady take off and run upfield.
For starters, the New England Patriots quarterback isn’t exactly fleet of foot. Rushing the out of the pocket also can be a safety hazard for quarterbacks, as defenders won’t be inclined to take it easy on a signal-caller once he exposes himself as a runner.
Josh Allen learned this the hard way Sunday afternoon at New Era Field. The Buffalo QB sustained a brutal high hit from Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones in the fourth quarter of New England’s 16-10 win. Jones, who many members of the Bills believe should have been ejected for the hit, only was nabbed for an unnecessary roughness penalty, while Allen was forced to exit the contest and never returned. The second-year signal-caller currently is in the league’s concussion protocol.
Brady was subject to a similarly punishing hit early in his career, which prompted Patriots coach Bill Belichick to deliver some sage advice to his quarterback.
“I had a play like that up in Buffalo … I remember the next day Coach Belichick said to me – I’ll never forget this – ‘Hey Brady, if you want to have a career in this league, when you’re running like that, you throw the ball away or slide,” Brady said Monday on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show,” as transcribed by ESPN’s Mike Reiss.
Brady and Allen, obviously, are different kinds of quarterbacks. Allen has begun to establish himself as one of the NFL’s top dual-threat QBs, while running never has been a part of Brady’s game. Still, Belichick’s advice is worth heeding. Trying to barrel through defenders very rarely will end positively for quarterbacks.
For those keeping score at home, Brady registered -3 rushing yards in Week 4. He didn’t have much success through the air either, as he only managed to log 150 passing yards in what was a frustrating afternoon for the Patriots offense.
Sunday was a rough day at the office for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots’ offense, which mustered nine points against a formidable Buffalo Bills defense.
New England won 16-10 at New Era Field thanks to a blocked-punt touchdown by Matthew Slater and another dominant defensive performance, but Brady found it difficult to fully enjoy the victory after posting an ugly 45.9 passer rating — his worst ever in a win — and throwing an interception in the end zone.
The Patriots went three-and-out on seven of their 11 meaningful possessions, and their running backs averaged just 3.2 yards per carry.
“I’m frustrated when we don’t play well,” Brady said Monday morning on WEEI’s “Greg Hill Show.” “I’m frustrated when we don’t score points. I’m happy when we win. It’s a lot of mixed emotions. I think when you win a game, it’s never like, ‘Man, I’m 100 percent in great spirits.’ And certainly when you lose sometimes, it’s not like I’m 100 percent negative. I’m trying to be realistic about how I felt out there, how I felt the game was going and our rhythm, so I’m just dealing with a lot of different emotions — the ups and downs, the mental grind of the game, the physical grind of the game.
“So it’s just a lot of mixed emotions. Ultimately, the goal is to win, and the defense is playing spectacular. I think the thing that hurts the most is the interception, because we don’t score points. I believe that our defense is going to play really well all year, so scoring points are at a premium, even if it’s a field goal, so that one bothered me the most. But I’ve got to learn from it and not try to squeeze the ball where there’s defenders — especially against really good, playmaking secondaries — and try to score more touchdowns in the red area and kick less field goals and certainly not turn the ball over.”
Brady said the Patriots have identified particular areas that need improvement. They’ll look to address those ahead of this Sunday’s matchup with the winless Washington Redskins.
While he didn’t divulge any game-plan secrets, Brady did acknowledge some plays and concepts could be jettisoned from the playbook if the team believes they’re simply not working.
“There’s a lot of things we talk about that are things that we think we do well or things that we don’t do well,” Brady said. “I’m certainly not going to tell people that, because it helps the opponent. I kind of know. I think our offense knows or Josh (McDaniels) knows and we talk about it a lot. No team is perfect this time of year. This is not the team we’re going to be in December. But to go on the road and get a win against a 3-0 team is a great feeling.
“Again, I wish we would’ve played better offensively. That would have helped us a lot. But we just didn’t execute very well in really any phase — the pass game, the run game. None of it was up to our expectation. So we’ll go in there, we’ll get coached on what we have to do better and try to go out and practice it and see if we can play better next week.”
The Patriots had not won a game while scoring 10 or fewer offensive points since Week 14 of the 2003 season.
The Minnesota Vikings’ offense was nowhere to be found Sunday afternoon in Chicago.
Yes, the Bears feature arguably the NFL’s best defense and present an unfavorable matchup for pretty much every team across the league. But the Vikings, who only mustered up 222 yards of total offense against their division rival, looked beyond anemic, and Adam Thielen seems to believe a below-average passing attack might be to blame.
The star wide receiver understandably is irked by how things have been going for Minnesota through the air thus far, and he appeared to throw a little shade at Kirk Cousins while airing out his frustrations following the Vikings’ Week 4 loss.
Adam Thielen: "At some point, you're not going to be able to run the ball for 180 yards, even with the best running back in the NFL. That's when you have to be able to throw the ball. … You have to be able to hit the deep balls."
— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) September 30, 2019
Cousins, who signed a fully guaranteed three-year, $84 million deal prior to last season, played more like a game manager than a true franchise quarterback in Minnesota’s first four contests. The veteran signal-caller is averaging roughly 183 passing yards per game and only has logged three touchdown passes. The Vikings aren’t in a horrendous spot at 2-2, but given how impressive the rest of the NFC North has looked through one quarter of the campaign, they’ll need Cousins to kick his game up more than a few notches if they hope to claim a division crown.
Minnesota faces a favorable matchup in Week 5 when it visits the New York Giants, who own one of the NFL’s weaker pass defenses. If Cousins is unable to excel Sunday afternoon in the Meadowlands, it might be time to grow concerned in the Twin Cities.