NFL national anthem protest: Doug Baldwin praises Dolphins’ reversal

Baldwin admires what Thomas has been doing in South Florida. (Andres Leiva/The Post)

ORLANDO—The national anthem protests have been a polarizing issue in the NFL over the last two seasons, and the Dolphins have been right in the middle of it.

Miami has been among the most vocal teams, led primarily by safety Michael Thomas and wide receiver Kenny Stills, when it comes to taking a stance against social and racial injustice. Stills, Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas all kneeled during the national anthem this season, and a few other players joined them in the Week 3 game against the Jets after inflammatory remarks by Donald Trump.

Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin, who has also been active in the players’ movement, praised Thomas for making an impact.

“It’s fantastic when you have a guy who takes the time to be empathetic about other people’s plights and put himself in other people’s shoes and try to listen and learn as much as he can and try to effect change,” said Baldwin, who played with Thomas at Stanford.

The Dolphins’ story took a surprising turn, however, when the order came down for players to remain in the locker room if they intended to protest. Owner Stephen Ross said publicly it was time for them to stand in unity, and coach Adam Gase instituted it as a new team policy.

Shortly after that, though, the players met with Gase to express their displeasure with the rule. He reconsidered and allowed them to resume kneeling.

“It’s a step of empathy,” Baldwin said. “You have a lot of guys who are owners or coaches who are willing to hear the conversation and willing to listen, but the next step is toward them being empathetic. When they do that, it’s very easy for them to relate to guys and connect with guys in a passionate way like you’ve seen. It’s a hard step to take because it’s an unknown step at times.”

[Jarvis Landry stars in 2018 Pro Bowl, which could be his final game with Miami Dolphins]

[Jason Taylor weighs in on Jarvis Landry’s free agency saga]

[Dolphins legend Don Shula asks for patience for coach Adam Gase]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Doug Baldwin: Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry’s free agency comes down to one thing

Doug Baldwin got paid and now he’s happy to see the same happening for Jarvis Landry. (Getty Images)

LAKE BUENA VISTA—Free agency is always about money, but there are many other aspects to the process. When Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin sees his peer Jarvis Landry about to hit the market, he sees more than the massive payday.

Baldwin sees a player who clawed his way to the top through high school and LSU and made people regret passing him in the 2014 Draft when he went 63rd overall to the Dolphins. After catching more passes (400) in his first four year than any player in league history and averaging 1,000 yards per season, Landry’s about to reap a well-deserved reward.

“He’s an incredible talent and obviously done a lot for the Dolphins’ organization, but I don’t look at him as an asset,” Baldwin said after the NFC’s Pro Bowl walkthrough today. “More so, I look at him as a human being who has fought tooth and nail to get to where he’s at now. He has earned everything that’s coming to him.

“He’s worked tremendously hard to get to this point. I couldn’t be more happy for him and I want to see him do well, not only as a football player but as a man.”

Baldwin knows that struggle quite well. He broke into the league as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and quickly established himself as a vital part of Seattle’s offense. He was 9 yards shy of making this season his third straight of 1,000-plus.

The Seahawks headed off Baldwin’s free agency by working out an extension with him a year early in 2016. He signed for four years, $46 million, and that was as much about standing his ground about the quality of player he is as it was getting paid.

His advice to Landry would be to look at it the same way.

“The decision is easy: What do you want as a man?” Baldwin said. “To me, it was really simple. I had a number in mind and I wasn’t gonna go below it. I’m sure he’s in the same situation. I’m sure he has a good agent who’s leading him in that way.”

Landry, playing in his third Pro Bowl on Sunday, will become a free agent for the first time in March after playing out a rookie contract that paid him $3.5 million over his first four seasons. He’s the only Dolphin ever to post a 100-catch season and his four seasons all rank in the franchise’s top seven in receptions.

[Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry bubbling with happiness as he heads toward free agency]

[Jarvis Landry believes Dolphins coach Adam Gase wants him back]

[Dolphins legend Don Shula asks for patience for coach Adam Gase]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Sideline confrontations business as usual in NFL’s high-intensity workplace

No sideline episode drew more attention this season than Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels getting into it. (Getty Images)

DAVIE—Few offices have the extreme competition and moment-by-moment high stakes of the NFL, and it shouldn’t be surprising if conversations on the sideline don’t look quite like those that take place in an accounting firm.

With video of each confrontation readily available to go viral—another big difference from most workplaces—and coach-player relationships always under the media microscope, these arguments often become something bigger to the public than what the participants think it is.

No blow-up in the league drew as much attention as Tom Brady unloading on offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Seattle’s Doug Baldwin got heated enough to shove offensive line coach Tom Cable during an argument two months ago, and Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry got into it with Adam Gase late in Sunday’s loss at Kansas City.

Gase has no aversion to confrontation, which is part of what makes him suited for this profession. After 15 years coaching in the NFL, he sees those sideline exchanges as a normal—healthy, even—part of this environment.

“That (stuff) happens all the time and it’s overblown big-time,” he said before practice today. “(Stuff) like that happens, and unless the TV cameras catch it, nobody notices. Competitive guys, there’s a fire there.

“Whether it’s players or coaches, both sides are trying not to cross a line to attack somebody, but yeah, there’s going to be some discussion and argument. Guys get fired up. It’s the real pros that can move past it and get to the next thing.”

Brady and Baldwin publicly apologized for their incidents, but it seemed like more than anything their intention was to calm down a publicity storm. Both gave the impression that those involved were already carrying on with business as usual.

For Gase and Landry, their shouting match in the Chiefs game didn’t even rise to the level that either thought that was necessary. Gase described himself, Landry and former running back Jay Ajayi as “hotheads” earlier this year and said that was only the second time they’ve had that kind of interaction since Gase took the job almost two years ago.

For his part, Landry said after the game it’s “normal for anyone to show frustration” and he wasn’t trying to embarrass his coach.

As for moving forward in their relationship, which has been positive for both sides throughout their time together, Gase said they gave “each other a little hard time” about the disagreement and that was it.

“To me, it’s never a big deal,” said Gase, who recalled many similar interactions when he coached Peyton Manning and remains close friends with him. “It’s no different than when two coaches get in an argument. That’s football. That’s what happens. When you’re playing a sport that’s as aggressive and violent as this and you talk about energy levels being high and you’re competing and it’s a do-or-die situation, man, every little thing is magnified.

“Everybody wants to win. Everybody’s trying so hard to win that when things go wrong, sometimes it just gets a little vocal.”

[Dolphins RB Damien Williams has a clear goal in free agency]

[Dolphins QB Jay Cutler say he won’t be a backup]

[Dolphins waste another very expensive year of Ndamukong Suh’s prime]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Jarvis Landry and the 10 best slot receivers in the NFL

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry (14) catches a long pass near the goal line in the second quarter at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on October 16, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry (14) catches a long pass near the goal line in the second quarter at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on October 16, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

The position of slot receiver requires not only a considerable amount of pass-catching ability and production, but also a ton of durability.

And with Miami Dolphins wideout Jarvis Landry among the league leaders in receptions, we decided to take a look at him and nine other superstars (listed alphabetically) at that position.

Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks

Baldwin thrived last year as a featured member of the Seahawks offensive attack, making 78 grabs and scoring 14 touchdowns while gaining 1,069 yards through the air. Baldwin set career highs in receptions, targets, yards and touchdowns, but the statistical category in which he did not set a career high may be the most telling about his success. Baldwin averaged 13.7 yards per reception, the third lowest total of his five-year career. Only 16 of Baldwin’s 78 catches went for over 20 yards. So far this season: 28 receptions, 361 yards, 2 TDs

Detroit Lions wide receiver Anquan Boldin makes a catch during pre-game of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Detroit Lions wide receiver Anquan Boldin makes a catch during pregame of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Anquan Boldin, Detroit Lions

Now 36 and in his 14th season, the Pahokee native and Florida State alum may have lost a step, but he’s still getting the job done in the NFL. A long-time star with the Cardinals, Ravens and 49ers, Boldin has amassed over 1,000 catches and 13,000 receiving yards (including averages of 78 catches and 1,015 yards per season), and has not let up this year, becoming a go-to target for Matthew Stafford with the Lions. So far this season: 29 receptions, 244 yards, 3 TDs

Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers

With Jordy Nelson having returned, Cobb has moved back into what is primarily a slot-receiver role. Lining up outside more often last year, Cobb’s efficiency took a hit and his overall numbers dropped slightly as well. After catching 71.7 percent of balls thrown his way for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014, Cobb had a catch percentage of 61.2 with 829 yards and six touchdowns in 2015. So far this season: 28 receptions, 293 yards, 1 TD

Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints

Just 23 and in his third pro season, Cooks is one of the youngest members of this list, and for good reason. After a solid rookie season in New Orleans with 53 catches for 550 yards and three scores, Cooks broke out in a big way last year, upping his totals to 84 grabs for 1,138 yards and nine touchdowns. He has continued his production in 2016, having huge days in Week 1 against the Raiders (6 catches, 143 yards, 2 TDs) and this past Sunday against the Panthers (7 catches, 173 yards, 1 TD). So far this season: 25 receptions, 428 yards, 3 TDs

Eric Decker, New York Jets

Though he was placed on injured reserve last week, Decker warrants a mention on this list, having averaged around 13 yards per reception and a shade under 1,000 yards a year during his two seasons with the Jets. His red-zone production went way up last year, upping his touchdown total to 12 from his five in 2014. He only caught 60.6 percent of his 132 targets last season, a number that didn’t seem to hamper his production too much as he registered the third 1,000 yard season of his career. So far this season: 9 receptions, 194 yards, 2 TDs

Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

Taking over the reins from Wes Welker, Edelman has made his living in the slot with the Patriots. In his seven-plus seasons in New England, Edelman has dealt with loads of injuries, yet he’s still posted two seasons of over 900 receiving yards. His catch percentage has been consistent the past three seasons, hovering between 68 and 69 percent each year. Edelman’s 61 catches for 692 yards in nine games last season indicates that, if healthy, Edelman will continue to be consistently targeted. And now that Tom Brady is back from suspension, those totals should continue to rise. So far this season: 28 receptions, 261 yards, 0 TDs

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) runs prior to an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) runs prior to an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

One of the elder statesmen of the group, Fitzgerald has made the most of what is supposed to be the post-prime of his career by utilizing his talents in the slot. Fitzgerald’s size, speed and hands make him the perfect target, and in 2015, Fitzgerald experienced a rebirth of sorts, rebounding from three straight seasons of under 1,000 yards by catching 109 passes for 1,215 yards and nine touchdowns. He also caught roughly 75 percent of the passes thrown his way, indicating that he has been and will continue to be a viable safety valve for Cardinals quarterbacks. So far this season: 37 receptions, 410 yards, 5 TDs

Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins

Jarvis Landry has only played two-plus seasons in the league, but the LSU alum has quickly established himself as one of the best slot receivers in football. Landry, who posted his first 1,000-yard season last year, caught 110 passes for 1,157 yards, up from the 84 receptions and 758 yards he amassed in his rookie year. Last season, Landry was targeted 166 times, well up from his 112 in 2014. With continued consistency and a steady diet of targets for the Dolphins’ top receiving option, Landry should remain among the best slot receivers in the NFL for some time. So far this season: 41 receptions, 494 yards, 1 TD

Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles

Matthews shined in his first two seasons in Philadelphia, seeing a significant increase of targets from year one to year two, and has continued that progression into this sason. He has been reliable when targeted, amassing a catch percentage of 67.5 last season. Add in eight touchdowns each of his first two seasons — with an average of 935 yards a year — and it’s fair to say Matthews has flourished in the Eagles offense and will continue to do so. So far this season: 22 receptions, 344 yards, 2 TDs

Golden Tate, Detroit Lions

A veteran who has embodied the slot-receiver role for most of his pro career, Tate’s numbers have rarely jumped off the page. Still, he has averaged 75 catches for 933 yards a season over the last four years, including a big jump up since joining the Lions in 2014. So far this season: 25 receptions, 299 yards, 1 TD

The big play: Where the Dolphins really lost their season opener

Doug Baldwin made the Dolphins pay twice on Seattle's final drive. (Getty Images)
Doug Baldwin made the Dolphins pay twice on Seattle’s final drive. (Getty Images)

The Dolphins’ defense had them in prime position to win their season opener Sunday in Seattle until it all unraveled in the last four minutes.

Russell Wilson took the Seahawks 75 yards in a 14-play drive that ended with him hitting Doug Baldwin for the game-winning touchdown. Before that, though, the Dolphins had a chance to end it with Seattle facing fourth-and-four at its own 47-yard line. Here’s what happened:
Continue reading “The big play: Where the Dolphins really lost their season opener”

Seahawks reveal their national anthem demonstration for Sunday vs. Dolphins

Doug Baldwin and the Seahawks have chosen their national anthem demonstration. (Getty Images)
Doug Baldwin and the Seahawks have chosen their national anthem demonstration. (Getty Images)

SEATTLE–The Seattle Seahawks will stand with interlocked arms during the national anthem before Sunday’s game against the Dolphins in a stance they believe will honor America while still calling for social justice.
Continue reading “Seahawks reveal their national anthem demonstration for Sunday vs. Dolphins”