Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith says he has been involved in two errant calls the last two weeks.
Smith says the NFL notified the team that he shouldn’t have been flagged for leading with his helmet while tackling New England receiver Chris Hogan in Week 2. Then, officials missed a holding call on Tennessee left tackle Taylor Lewan on a third-down play late last week that essentially allowed the Titans to run out the clock.
Smith believes he would have tackled quarterback Marcus Mariota for a loss on the third-and-1 play. Instead, Mariota gained 15 yards.
Smith also says officials need to be held more accountable.
“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “That could have been a game-changing call. … We can’t do nothing about that, you know what I mean? So I don’t care if it was a holding call or not. We lost that game. We’re onto this week.
“But that is where I think we must address this game. Put more pressure on them the same way pressure is being put on us to stay off that quarterback, don’t put your body weight on him. Got to have better eyes. You’ve got to be more detailed. You’re asking the players to do the same thing. You’re asking the coaches to coach us doing the same thing. Well, now let’s get on to the officiating crew about.”
REMEMBER, HE CAN THROW
The Bengals are prepared to see receiver Mohamed Sanu fling the ball on Sunday. After all, nobody knows better about his accuracy.
Sanu completed all five of his passes during four seasons in Cincinnati, including a 73-yard touchdown to A.J. Green and an 18-yard scoring toss to Andy Dalton. He threw a 51-yard TD to Julio Jones last season, leaving him a perfect 6 for 6 for 228 yards and three touchdowns for his career heading into the Bengals’ game at Atlanta on Sunday.
“If anyone knows about it, we do,” Dalton said.
Dalton’s TD catch during a 33-7 win over Tennessee in 2014 made him the only quarterback in Bengals history to score on a catch. He pitched the ball to Sanu and drifted off to the left for a cross-field pass. Cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson decided to try for the interception instead of hitting Dalton and missed the ball. Dalton made the catch, ran down the sideline and dived into the end zone.
“I should have gotten killed, that’s what I remember,” Dalton said. “We had it drawn up all week for it to be perfect: ‘Oh, I’m going to be wide open.’ But I wasn’t wide open. Luckily, I was able to make the play.
“Mo has the stats. It’s not like he’s been throwing to wide-open guys, either. His arm talent is crazy.”
HALFTIME ADJUSTMENTS MYTH
Whenever a team has much more success in the second half than the first half, it’s assumed the coaching staff made excellent “halftime adjustments.” Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz considers that notion a myth.
“It makes a nice story, but there is really no such thing as halftime adjustments in the NFL, as much as you guys would like to write about it,” Schwartz said. “You’re adjusting after every series. After every series, you’re updating your checks, you’re putting fires out, you’re trying to get ready for the next series.”
In Philadelphia’s case, the defense has been more stingy in the second half during Schwartz’s tenure.
“We have a resilient bunch of guys,” he said. “We have a smart bunch of players. When you put something in front of them, they very rarely make a mistake a second time. I think that probably plays more into it than any adjustment or anything else.”
TYRANN’S TECHNOLOGY ZONE
Houston safety Tyrann Mathieu returned to Arizona this week to open a technology zone at a Boys & Girls Club in Phoenix.
Mathieu was drafted by the Cardinals and spent his first five years in Arizona before signing with the Texans this offseason. Though he no longer plays in Arizona, he still feels a strong connection to the city and team. He wants to keep giving back there because the Cardinals took a chance by drafting him despite his dismissal from LSU for violating team rules as a junior.
“Coming from LSU, I had a lot of different things I was going through,” he said. “And I felt like Arizona, the community embraced me, my teammates embraced me and at the end of the day they gave me a second chance to do what I wanted to do. Always grateful for that and always try to keep that in the back of my mind.”
Mathieu thought the technology zone would be good for kids who are looking to get involved in things others than sports.
“Everybody can’t play sports and I don’t want kids to get their mind wrapped into that,” he said. “There are so many different opportunities for them … so I’m hoping that they can use it and it creates a passion for them, and they find out things about themselves that they didn’t necessarily know.”
The room includes areas where kids can sing, learn videography and photography, and features a green screen where they can produce short videos to show their friends.
Mathieu spent time with the kids in Arizona on Tuesday and loved the excitement they showed in exploring the room. He’ll continue to monitor feedback from the room and hopes to open more such spaces in Arizona, Houston and in his hometown of New Orleans.
NATIONAL TEAM COACH
USA Football selected Eric Kasperowicz of Pine-Richland High School in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, to head the 2019 U.S. Under-19 national team. Comprised of the country’s top high school seniors, it will play a to-be-determined foreign national team on Jan. 18 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Since becoming Pine-Richland’s head coach in 2013, Kasperowicz has led his Rams to a 57-14 (.803) record, including the school’s first Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class 6A state championship last season.
“It’s a great honor to represent the United States and to coach some of the top football-playing student-athletes in the country,” Kasperowicz said. “There’s a rich tradition of success with our Under-19 national team and those who have led it. I look forward to continuing that tradition.”
Established in 2010, the International Bowl is the longest-running annual series of high school-aged international football teams. The 2019 event will convene 16 teams from four continents across four age divisions.
U.S. Under-19 national team alumni include Rams running back Todd Gurley, the 2017 NFL Offensive Player of the Year; Patriots defensive lineman Malcom Brown; Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin; Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins; and Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor.
USA Football is a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and is the sport’s national governing body.
Joe Montana has a new league.
The Hall of Fame quarterback has joined the Fan Controlled Football League (FCFL), which bills itself as the first professional football league in which fans call all the shots. Montana will be the league’s chief strategic adviser and an investor.
The FCFL says all key decisions will be made by the fans, from picking a team name and logo to drafting players, hiring coaches and setting up a playbook. It will feature 7-on-7 play in a high-tech production studio arena with 50-yard fields and 8-yard end zones.
Sounds a lot like Arena Football.
Each of eight teams based in one location will have 18-man rosters, and talent will be chosen from open tryouts and some national combines. The top 100 rated players will participate in a two-day draft in which the fans select the teams.
The FCFL plans a 14-game regular season with two playoff games and a championship contest. Each game will last one hour, the league says.
“I’m tremendously excited to be partnering with the FCFL,” Montana said. “What this team has created is innovative, engaging, and will energize the digital age football fan. Fans will hire the coaches, draft the players and call all the plays in real time. It’s a real-life video game and the future of sports.”
AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner and Rob Maaddi and AP Sports Writers Kristie Rieken, Mark Long and Joe Kay contributed.
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