Rob Gronkowski’s house broken into, ‘multiple safes and possible guns’ reported missing

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski returned home from a crushing Super Bowl loss only to be knocked down again — this time finding his home had been broken into. Foxborough police responded Monday night to investigate a call at Gronkowski’s home that could have led to the theft of “multiple safes and possible guns,” according to police dispatch messages obtained by the Boston Globe.

“It’s a tough combination to have suffered this unfortunate loss, and then to get home and be a victim of this kind of crime which really has a profound effect on everybody who is a victim of this crime when your personal space is breached like that,” Baker told reporters.

Hopefully the investigation will turn up leads quickly and Gronk can return to life as normal. Having your place broken into sucks, whether you make minimum wage or are an NFL superstar.

With 1:05 left for all the marbles, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots’ offense sat on the sidelines ready to go. The Pats would fail on their final drive, and a final pass attempt would fall incomplete, ending New England’s back-to-back Super Bowl dreams.

Kickoff coverage is about two things: where the ball is kicked, and the lanes the coverage team takes down the field. The kicker has to put the ball in the right place if he’s not going to boot it into the end zone, and the coverage team has to stay disciplined and set the edges outside to keep things funneled to the inside.

After the game, the Patriots talked about what happened from their end.

“They had great placement on that kick and made it real tough on our guys,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said. “They made it tough for us to get leverage and we didn’t handle it well. Tip your hat to them – they kept it in play and they hadn’t been doing that.”
jays_061_e6f45f5245326bf3-180x180

Mark Cuban fined $600,000 by league for tanking talk

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been fined $600,000 by the NBA for saying his team should tank this season.

Cuban called tanking “brutal” but acknowledged that he told his team that it would be best to lose for the rest of the 2017-18 season.

“I earned it,” Cuban told The Associated Press when asked about the latest fine. “I got excited talking to Dr. J and said something I shouldn’t have.”

Responding to Cuban’s tanking comments, Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki said Wednesday that he’ll “never stand for losing on purpose. That’s not who I am.”

“I’ve been around too long,” Nowitzki said. “We’re all competitors. I think the young guys, when you’re out there, you’ve got to compete. If you don’t, you lose market value. You might get hurt. There’s all these things that can happen if you don’t play your minutes hard. That’s my advice to all the young guys — play your minutes hard, get better and whatever happens, happens.

In the 2008 season, a nine-win Eagles team rallied all the way to the NFC Championship, but a loss against the Arizona Cardinals proved to be the last gasp for head coach Andy Reid and his Pro Bowl quarterback — even if they didn’t know it. Their return to the postseason in 2009 led to a decisive defeat at the hands of the Cowboys. That offseason, McNabb was traded to Washington for second and fourth-round draft picks.

Still, a record-breaking contract is a significant investment in a player with just seven career starts and 12 touchdowns over four years.

The contract details were released Friday via ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Garoppolo’s total income over the first two years of the contract will be $61.2 million, which is $10 million more than he would make if the 49ers applied the franchise tag to him for two consecutive seasons.
bears_137-223x223

NBA All-Star Weekend has seen its highs and lows through the dunk contest, which has historically made or broken the midseason festivities.

There were the good years of Michael Jordan jumping from the free throw line, Vince Carter putting his elbow through the rim and Nate Robinson and Dwight Howard playing the roles of Superman and kryptonite, but as we’ve seen more recently, the event hasn’t been all that fun for its lifespan.

2Ball was a shooting event, where teams consisted of one NBA and one WNBA player who played in the same city. Each team was given one ball and sixty seconds on the clock, as each teammate alternated shooting and rebounding with each other at one of seven different locations. Each spot was a different distance from the hoop, and worth a different point total (layups were two points, and three-pointers were eight points.)

A 10-point bonus was given to any team that made a shot from each of the seven distances, and a 10-point deduction was given for any team that didn’t at least attempt a shot from each distance.

Such shifting demands constant re-evaluation of what constitutes the best measure of player skill. And when it comes to pitching, it means that what was once considered a good measure of a pitcher’s strikeouts is now a well-below-average number.

A 16 percent strikeout rate once met this column’s demands. Last season, 58 pitchers met the qualification for the ERA title, and only six of them — Ty Blach, Andrew Cashner, Jeremy Hellickson, Martin Perez, Zach Davies and Jose Urena — fell short of that strikeout-rate threshold.

Chinese skater Yan Han was a potential darkhorse contender, but ended up placing 19th.

After a brief intermission, we came back with Ukraine’s Yaroslav Paniot, who suffered multiple ugly falls and came in dead last with 46.58 points.

The Philippines are competing in the Winter Olympics for just the second time, and Michael Christian Martinez won the crowd over with a spirited program, even if he finished near the bottom of the standings.bears_276

Flowers has been harangued for his mistakes in New York, leading to speculation regarding whether or not he’ll be with the Giants again in 2018.

Henry dismissed any suggestions of collusion between the teams as ridiculous. He believes this winter’s inactivity was driven by several market forces and warned against expecting an annual feeding frenzy for free agents. Henry and Werner also suggested the Red Sox could wind up with the highest payroll in baseball this year, especially if they eventually land Martinez, as most insiders still expect they will.

I really don’t want to talk about free agents — J.D. Martinez or anyone else, Henry said. We are very happy with our roster. I think we do have the highest payroll in baseball, and again, we’re defending American League East champions. I think we’ve done what we needed to do to improve this team.

If anything, Werner said Ortiz’s absence likely contributed to the diminished TV ratings or other anecdotal signs that the Red Sox’s popularity might be waning. But Werner doesn’t expect the Ortiz hangover to drag into this year, too, especially if the Red Sox win the division again.

The University of Miami product has failed to live up to his billing as the No. 9 pick of the 2015 NFL draft, often playing turnstile at right tackle for a dysfunctional team. Despite that, he’s still a young prospect who is solid enough as a run blocker to merit a second chance. Playing for the Giants wasn’t kind to young players in 2017 — just look at Eli Apple — and Flowers could still pay off as a low-risk pickup should he be released or traded this spring.

In addition, Martinez tends to miss games, meaning either Moreland or Ramirez could step in and handle the DH spot. There is nothing wrong with depth, but do not presume either will surpass 500 at-bats, as each did in 2017. Meanwhile, Boston’s projected hitters leading the lineup figure to score more runs, which is good for outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi and perhaps shortstop Xander Bogaerts, depending on his lineup spot.

As for the Diamondbacks, they acted quickly to replace Martinez, in theory, by signing speedy Jarrod Dyson. Remember, once the organization announced it would store baseballs in a humidor for this season and perhaps beyond, it made a Martinez return there not as palatable, perhaps for the player and fantasy managers. Dyson does not hit for power, though he runs and is excellent defensively. Stolen base production is not going to be curtailed by a humidor. This also opens up opportunity for the somewhat forgotten Yasmany Tomas, the inverse of Dyson in many ways, but I will not be going out of my way to select him.bears_001

NFL teams have been accused of blacklisting Kaepernick, who is now a free agent

Trump has been animated by this issue for more than a year, telling his supporters at a campaign rally in October 2016 that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was the first player to kneel in protest, was partly responsible for the drop in ratings.

“The NFL is way down in their ratings, two reasons, number one is this politics they’re finding is a much rougher game than football and more exciting,” Trump said. “And the other reason is Kaepernick.”

Safety Kam Chancellor will miss the Seahawks’ Monday night game against Atlanta with a neck injury and the team is determining whether he will miss the rest of the season, the NFL Network reports.

Cutler out: Jay Cutler’s day ended early, when he headed to the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion. The Miami Dolphins quarterback, who missed a game earlier this season with a rib injury, was ruled out for the rest of the game. He’d had a Cutler-esque effort to that point, completing 6-of-12 passes for 83 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions against the Buccaneers in Tampa. Matt Moore replaced Cutler.

“I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday,” Kraft said. “I am proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities.

Benching Tyrod Taylor for rookie Nathan Peterman was a bad idea from the start: Peterman did not simply struggle in his debut Sunday, his first start after Coach Sean McDermott gave up on Taylor in the middle of a playoff race. Peterman became a future reference point for horrendous football and comical backfiring, writes The Post’s Adam Kilgore.

Eli Apple misses Giants’ game for a very good reason: New York Giants cornerback was a healthy scratch for the team because his irrepressible mother, Annie, underwent brain surgery Thursday and he spent a couple of days with her.

It’s Jerry vs. the NFL: The biggest story in the NFL this season, aside from national anthem demonstrations and injured stars, is the ugly battle between Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the NFL, ostensibly over the contract extension for Commissioner Roger Goodell and quite possibly over something more sinister, like control of the league.jaguars_093

Who needs Colin Kaepernick? The Texans have Tom Savage to replace injured rookie standout Deshaun Watson.

That was good enough Sunday for them to come within six points of the Colts. Not bad, huh?

They made things interesting in the final moments Sunday night against the Raiders but could not complete the comeback. QB Jay Cutler threw the ball well in his return but had too little help.

WR A.J. Green should have been suspended for his on-field attack of the Jaguars’ Jalen Ramsey. Almost all of the fighting done in that altercation was done by Green. And his actions were probably more egregious than those of the Buccaneers’ Mike Evans, who was suspended by the league for a game in a separate incident.

Rhodes detailed the thought process himself in a postgame interview, but that didn’t change the fact that Nelson had seven of his nine catches, 145 of his 154 yards and both of his touchdowns in that first half. Strange days indeed for the Vikings.

The Falcons clinched the NFC South after downing the Carolina Panthers 33-16 and the Bucs lost 31-24 to the Saints in New Orleans. Atlanta is now the NFC’s No. 2 seed while the loss by Tampa also gives the NFC’s top wild-card spot to the New York Giants and will allow the Detroit Lions to clinch a playoff berth with a win in Dallas over the Cowboys on Monday night.

The Patriots still have a bit of Week 17 work to do to secure the top seed in the AFC playoffs. That means no chance to rest QB Tom Brady and other key starters. Coach Bill Belichick seems to prefer it that way, anyway.

The defense pitched the shutout Saturday night in Green Bay to compensate for a mediocre outing by QB Case Keenum and the offense. The Vikings probably will enter the playoffs as the favorite in the NFC given the diminished state of the Eagles. But only slightly so amid the conference’s balanced field of very good but not quite great teams.
jaguars_074

The Jaguars chose him with the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NFL draft with the idea that he would be a franchise quarterback.

That season, Curry shot an outrageous 21-of-45 on attempts from 30 feet and beyond, shots that the rest of the league combined to make only 13 percent of the time if you take away desperation heaves from outside of 35 feet. Nobody else made more than three of them. Meanwhile, he managed to sink over 50 percent of his pull-up 3s in transition, the type of backbreaking shot that seemingly accompanied every other big Warriors run and led to helpless coaches signaling for timeout.

After coming back down to earth last season, shooting just 13-of-54 on 30-footers, he has eschewed them almost entirely. More than 20 players have taken a greater number of shots from 30 feet and out, as Curry’s on pace to finish with roughly a third as many attempts. He has as many makes from that distance the entire season as he had in three separate games in 2015-16.

Curry breezes past defenders for and-1Steph Curry takes the ball from beyond 3-point distance, drives to his left and sinks the lay-up while getting fouled for the and-1.
… and fewer of these:

And when it comes to Bortles, he is supposed to be a prized player. And while there have been glimpses of that during his four-year NFL career, like when he had seven touchdown passes and no interceptions in a three-game stretch in December, he has not been consistently reliable.

As a result, this week’s power rankings may look more volatile than expected. The power rankings on Fancy Stats take into account a team’s actual record (once the season begins), what their record should be based on points scored and allowed, also known as their Pythagorean win percentage, and how much better or worse their opponents are in relation to an 8-8 team. A good team playing against good opponents will be near the top while those who struggle against mediocre or poor teams will trend toward the bottom. A more detailed description of the method can be found in the Week 1 rankings.

Strength: The offense is compromised by the loss of quarterback Carson Wentz, but the Eagles held their own on defense over the past two weeks after giving up 434 yards passing to Eli Manning in Week 15. No team this season generated a higher disruption rate (the combination of pressures and run stuffs divided by defensive snaps), and no defense was stingier against the run. Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry and Chris Long anchor a front line with the power to wreck game plans and rattle quarterbacks. The Eagles will need this side of the ball to play pristine football week after week for any shot at the Super Bowl.jaguars_030

Watch his film and you’ll see him met in the backfield over and over.

One thing is certain as the NFL schedule approaches Super Bowl 52, set to be played Sunday, Feb. 4, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis: The teams that end up in the big game will have earned it. At least one of the teams in the 2018 Super Bowl matchup will be viewed as a Cinderella story given preseason outlooks.

The Jaguars, who went 3-13 last season, certainly would qualify. Their upset win over the Steelers in the divisional round of the playoffs has them where nobody expected them to be — playing in the AFC championship game against a team that, well, virtually everybody expected to see this far into January. New England is playing in its seventh consecutive conference title game, a testament to the organization’s dominance.

Duane Brown, an All-Pro left tackle from five years ago, went from Houston to Seattle. And three in-their-prime skill players — Jay Ajayi, Kelvin Benjamin and Jimmy Garoppolo — have the potential to tilt scales league-wide. That NFL wiseguys foresaw none of these moves doesn’t change their scale or their fun. (Even the Browns and Bengals had scoff-worthy escapades while not making a deal.)

Ajayi’s 2017 production has been terrible: no touchdowns and 66 yards rushing per game. But Miami’s offense has been a big Jay Cutler shrug, with bad quarterback play failing to keep defenses honest and the offensive line unable to keep tacklers off Ajayi. Among 48 qualified RBs, Ajayi currently ranks 46th in average yards before contact.

Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz (28.5 percent): This Australian wing has been quietly savvy this season despite modest scoring results; he’s one of just eight players in the NBA averaging at least 2.0 3-pointers, 1.0 steals, 4.0 assists and 4.0 boards per game this season.

Bobby Portis, Chicago Bulls (19 percent): The Bulls are quite likely to be active at the deadline, namely with Nikola Mirotic on the block. Moving Mirotic could mean Portis assumes more minutes and touches, as he thrived when he had the frontcourt usage to himself earlier this season.

While the Senior Bowl features more than 100 of the top seniors of college football, it’s no secret the quarterbacks will dominate the storylines and discussions ahead of the big game.

With two potential first-round quarterbacks in Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Wyoming’s Josh Allen, coupled with small-school sleeper Kyle Lauletta of Richmond and underappreciated Mike White of Western Kentucky, the 2018 Senior Bowl might offer the most intriguing quarterback class in years.jaguars_015