Bills' Stevie Johnson won't play blame game
Stevie Johnson, the Bills’ outspoken and clearly frustrated wideout, suggested on Tuesday that it was a coaching error that led to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s throw that was picked off in the waning moments of a 37-31 loss to the New England Patriots. (REUTERS)
It would be easy to throw rookie receiver T.J. Graham under the bus for running the wrong route that led to an interception in the end zone Sunday and the Buffalo Bills’ latest heart-wrenching loss.
Too easy for receiver Stevie Johnson.
Instead, the Bills’ outspoken and clearly frustrated wideout suggested on Tuesday that it was a coaching error that led to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s throw that was picked off in the waning moments of a 37-31 loss to the New England Patriots. While Graham clearly ran the wrong route — and owned up to it afterward — Johnson said the rookie should never have been put in that situation.
“We had people in positions where maybe they shouldn’t have been,” Johnson told reporters in Buffalo on Tuesday as the Bills began their short-week preparations for Thursday’s home date with the Miami Dolphins.
“So who knows what would have happened if it was (receiver Donald Jones), me or (tight end Scott Chandler) there. So it’s no blame on T.J. at all because he’s never run that route in a practice or a game.”
Johnson’s point was that veterans, including himself, were more familiar with the play that was called with just 28 seconds remaining and the Bills scrimmaging from the New England 15-yard line. Graham was Fitzpatrick’s intended receiver but the pass was picked off by New England’s Devin McCourty.
Don’t blame quarterback Mark Sanchez for the New York Jets’ struggles, blame ... part-time pass-rusher Aaron Maybin.
The Jets released the former first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday after recognizing what his former team did — that he wasn’t nearly as effective in putting pressure on the opposing quarterback as billed.
Maybin, who was selected 11th overall by the Bills in the 2009 draft, didn’t have a sack in the first eight games of the season and didn’t even dress in the Jets’ most recent loss this past Sunday in Seattle.
About the only thing of note that Maybin did this season was causing a stir earlier this month when he suggested the Jets defenders were going to hurt Dolphins’ running back Reggie Bush.
“We want to him out, but we will do it legally,” Maybin said prior to that game, yet another Jets loss.
PLAYOFF PICTURE IN EARLY FOCUS
There are still seven weeks to play, but the NFL’s playoff spots are filling up faster than you might think.
Because 18 of the league’s 32 teams are wallowing with losing records — 10 of them in the mostly putrid AFC – many of the teams above .500 are way above level.
Which means we probably don’t even need an eraser handy to pencil in most division champs.
Sure, it’s possible a Houston, or Atlanta, or New England might lose all its remaining games. Just as it’s possible Cleveland will finish 9-7.
Notwithstanding such crazy talk, here are your probable division winners — and wildcard contenders:
East — New England (now 6-3)
North — Baltimore (7-2) or Pittsburgh (6-3)
South — Houston (8-1)
West — Denver (6-3)
Wildcard 1 — Baltimore (7-2) or Pittsburgh (*5-3)
Wildcard 2 - Indianapolis (6-3)
Cincinnati (4-5), Miami (4-5), San Diego (4-5)
East - NY Giants (6-4)
North - Chicago (7-2) or Green Bay (6-3)
South - Atlanta (8-1)
West - San Francisco (6-2-1) or Seattle (6-4)
Wildcard 1 - Chicago (7-2) or Green Bay (6-3)
Wildcard 2 - San Francisco (6-2-1), Seattle (6-4), Minnesota (6-4), Tampa Bay (5-4)
Arizona (4-5), Dallas (4-5), Detroit (4-5), New Orleans (4-5)
See? All six playoff spots sure look set in the AFC — barring a collapse by one, or a team with a losing record getting hot through December.
And in the NFC, Dallas at 5-5 would be back in the thick of the East hunt with a win Sunday over Cleveland, but with the Cowboys this year we’re presuming nothing.
In both conferences, the extrapolations look pretty familiar, don’t they? In fact it’s still possible that all 12 playoff teams from 2011 might return to the big show.
Nine of the 12, at any rate, appear to be good bets to play again in January — all but Cincinnati in the AFC, and New Orleans and Detroit in the NFC.
But, as defiant Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid reiterated Monday, “You don’t count anybody out in the National Football League.”
Considering he coaches three teams, Dave Hocking certainly dedicates a good portion of his life to football.
But that’s only part of the reason the London, Ont. coach was honoured by the NFL this week as Canada’s 2012 coach of the year.
“Coach Hocking’s tireless dedication to three local football teams and to his community deserves recognition,” said Dan Quinn, Managing Director, NFL Canada. “The NFL Youth Coach of the Year award enables us to put the spotlight on football coaches whose efforts transcend the win-loss column.”
Hocking coaches two teams in the London Minor Football League — the Clarke Road Rampage tyke and atom) as well as the junior team at John Paul II Catholic Secondary School. He was selected from a short list of nine coaches from across Canada for the award.
“It is one thing to coach but it is another to be a wonderful role model and mentor for so many children and people,” wrote football parent Angela Philips Osmond in a nomination essay. “Dave spends so much time coaching yet he and his wife also started a charity to provide cleats for kids that can’t afford new ones. His selfless acts inspire others to do more. He is very deserving of this recognition.”