Dolphins star plans to get ejected on MNF


Dolphins star plans to get ejected on MNF

From Comcast SportsNet
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) -- Preparing for Monday Night Football, Brandon Marshall dropped a pass during drills Thursday, picked up the ball and gave it an angry boot. Not that emotional outbursts take practice, but Marshall said he's planning a prime-time doozy. The mercurial Miami Dolphins receiver complained Thursday that he has been playing with his emotions in check and will show more passion Monday against the New York Jets. "My goal is to get thrown out midway through the second quarter," Marshall said. He mentioned that objective four times during a 12-minute interview session. When asked if he was joking, Marshall said no. "I'm serious. They want to fine me, it'll probably be like a 50,000 fine. But I'm going to play. That quarter and half I'm out there, I'm going to play like a monster." In July, Marshall disclosed he was diagnosed earlier this year with borderline personality disorder, which stems from such things as a negative self-image and a fear of failure. On Thursday, he said efforts to keep his emotions on an even keel have hurt his play. The two-time Pro Bowl receiver has 22 catches this year but only one touchdown, and he's tied for third in the NFL with five drops, including three in the end zone. Any deficiencies have been magnified because the Dolphins are 0-4. "The past four games, it's been tough for me trying to control some things," he said. "I'm just going to let it out. I don't care if they have two, three cameras on me, I don't care if I have penalties. It doesn't matter. I'm going to let it all out. "I'm best when I play emotional, I'm best when I play with passion, and you guys are going to see that on Monday Night Football. I don't know if it's throwing a football 15 yards into the bleachers and getting a 15-yarder, or punting the ball and getting thrown out of the game, but something is going to happen." Marshall's pledge comes with the offense in transition because of quarterback Chad Henne's season-ending shoulder injury. Matt Moore, who will make his first start with the Dolphins, arched his eyebrows when told that Marshall said he hoped to get kicked out in the second quarter. Would a more emotional Marshall be a good thing? "Um, I don't know. Now it's like I'm a doctor," Moore said. "Brandon's got to be himself. Everybody's got to be themselves. He's going to be at the emotional level he needs to be at to be at his best. How about that answer?" Coach Tony Sparano said Marshall at his most fiery would help the Dolphins, and he wasn't concerned about penalties or an ejection. "Obviously Brandon is 50 percent kidding," Sparano said. "I know one thing about that guy -- he's not going to do anything to hurt this team. The people in that locker room are important to him. "But sometimes on the field he's bigger than life when he gets the ball and starts rolling. He can be that way. I think that's the part Brandon is talking about." Marshall had 86 catches for 1,014 yards last season, his first with the Dolphins. But his streak of three successive 100-catch seasons ended, he scored only three touchdowns, and he twice drew penalties for tossing the ball to the sideline after a play. Toward the end of last season, Marshall said he had been too boring, and he's again intent on stirring things up. A Dolphins official tried several times to end Thursday's interview session, but Marshall kept talking, saying he discussed criticism he receives with members of his support group. "When you go through the things we went through, it's like you feel like you've got to be perfect," Marshall said. "That puts you in this bubble, and it's kind of uncomfortable. You're not human if you don't have bad days. "I've been living in a bubble a little bit, trying to control myself instead of being me. You've got to be able to turn that switch on and off. On Monday Night Football, I'm going to turn that switch on and be a monster. When I catch a ball, I might bang my head with a football. I might get into a shoving match with somebody. I might get a penalty. But I'm going to play like I usually play."

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

As Cubs players and generations of fans celebrated Christmas in October, Jon Lester had to be The Grinch for a moment. Sure, the Cubs would party from Saturday night into Sunday morning, probably get “a little bit” drunk and enjoy the franchise’s first National League pennant in 71 years. But the reality of the Cleveland Indians would set in once the Cubs got rid of this hangover.

“We ain’t done anything yet,” Lester said during the Wrigley Field celebration after the Cubs eliminated the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Nobody likes second place.”

There are enough Boston Red Sox connections in this World Series that Lester already knows what to expect, starting with Indians manager Terry Francona, who became a father figure as he dealt with a cancer scare as a rookie.

There are ex-teammates from those championship teams in 2007 (Coco Crisp) and 2013 (Mike Napoli, Andrew Miller) at Fenway Park. There is the accumulated experience from throwing 119 postseason innings (2.50 ERA) and becoming one of the best big-game pitchers of his generation.

“I don’t want to sound like a smart-ass, but we got a long ways to go,” Lester said. “I know that manager on their side’s going to be prepared. I know their coaching staff’s going to be ready. I know their players are going to be ready, just based on one player alone, and that’s Mike Napoli. I know what he brings to the table. He helped transform our 2013 team.

“Come Tuesday, we got to put the gloves back on. We got to get ready to fight and grind and do what we’ve done well all year. We got four more games to win.”

After limiting the Dodgers to two runs in 13 innings, and being named the NL Championship Series’ co-MVP along with Javier Baez, Lester should be a worthy Game 1 starter opposite Corey Kluber, the 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner.

This is why Lester took a leap of faith with Cubs bosses/ex-Red Sox executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer and chairman Tom Ricketts’ family and what had been a last-place team in 2014.

Two seasons into the $155 million contract that signaled the Cubs would be serious about contending – and not just in the Baseball America/Baseball Prospectus prospect rankings – the franchise has won 200 games and four playoff rounds and remained in position to dominate for years to come.

“Theo and Jed and the front office and Tom and all these guys had a belief,” Lester said. “I believed in that belief. The talent here speaks for itself. I didn’t do anything – I came here because I wanted to win in Chicago. I’m just happy to be here and be a part of this and get to this point.

“(But) we’re four hard wins away from doing what we set out to do in spring training.”

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As bright as the future looks on the North Side, Lester will be 33 next season and his left arm has already accounted for more than 2,000 innings during his decorated career. John Lackey turned 38 on Sunday. Jake Arrieta only has one more season before becoming a free agent.

The Cubs built their franchise around young hitters, with the idea that they can figure out the pitching later with free agents, change-of-scenery trades and bounce-back guys. Easier said than done. They have a true No. 1 starter now in Lester, who as a free agent watched a recruiting video that imagined what it would be like when the Cubs win the World Series.

“This isn’t it,” Lester said. “It’s been a tough playoffs for us to this point and it’s only going to get tougher. We’re going to enjoy it. We’re going to show up Tuesday in Cleveland ready to play. We’ll see what happens.”

Three quick fixes for some Bears woes while searching for a turnaround

Three quick fixes for some Bears woes while searching for a turnaround

Positives were difficult to find in last Thursday’s 26-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers. So maybe the place to look for improvement lies in just getting rid of a few negatives.

As far as positives, Leonard Floyd would be the obvious one, with two sacks, one a strip and fumble recovery for a TD. Ka’Deem Carey would be another, with 10 carries for 48 yards, his second straight game with high-impact running; Jordan Howard has been shackled for two weeks, so the Bears have needed another backfield-committee member contributing. Jeremy Langford may have trouble finding work when he comes back from his ankle injury.

But negatives have far outweighed positives, which is how you get to 1-6. Fixing three of those will go a long way toward improving their chances against a Minnesota Vikings team that appeared eminently beatable in losing at Philadelphia on Sunday:

Stop the penalty hemorrhaging

For the third straight game the Bears had 10 penalties walked off against them. This "streak" started after eight infractions in the win over Detroit. The 10 in Green Bay cost the Bears 108 yards in a game where their offense netted just 189. Seven of the penalties were charged to the defense, six of which gave the Packers first downs.

The three offensive penalties were mental. A wide receiver (Alshon Jeffery) lined up offsides. The quarterback (Matt Barkley) drew a delay flag. An offensive lineman (Ted Larsen) was illegally downfield.

All of which point to a discipline problem getting worse, not better. Whether the fault lies with players losing focus or coaches not instilling a mindset is a debate, but meaningless if the problem is not addressed. “There were a lot of penalties out there,” said cornerback De’Vante Bausby, who committed three of those penalties. “We had a good scheme and plan but we just didn’t finish in the second half as a group.”

Stop the dinking

While Brian Hoyer replacing Jay Cutler scaled back the downfield element of the offense, the loss of an emerging Kevin White should not be understated. The de facto rookie may not have gotten in the end zone but he was leading the team in receptions before he suffered a broken leg in the win over Detroit.

Since the loss of White, however, the offense has shrunk. The Bears averaged 7.5 yards per pass attempt through four games with White. Without White the average is 7.0, and that is including the blip in Indianapolis, which stands as a complete anomaly. The average was 5.9 in the Jacksonville loss and 5.0 in Green Bay.

Hoyer’s ball-security orientation has been a positive, but also a limiting factor. Cutler last year had one of the best ball-security seasons of his career, yet the offense was able to average 7.5 yards per attempt.

The Bears scored two of their three rushing touchdowns in games with White, who may not yet be the field-stretcher his 4.35 speed but the prospect of White arguably made for a more threatening offense than even with the contributions of Cam Meredith.

Stop the Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings have suffered injuries at a rate like the Bears’ but have overcome them. Until Sunday in Philadelphia, when the Eagles sacked Sam Bradford six times and hit him more than a dozen other times. The Vikings never sacked Carson Wentz, who wasn’t special but was good enough while Minnesota was self-destructing.

The Vikings have beaten the Bears the last three times they’ve met, the first time that’s happened since 1999 and 2000, which is also the last time the Bears started 1-6. And the Bears have lost three straight.

The Bears were able to end the first three-game skid by focusing on one game: the Lions. The result was shutting down a very good offense, the lowest yardage-allowed (263) of the season and the firmest commitment to the run game (29) attempts.

Morale inside the locker room can only be revived by a win. One game. This game.