Browse Month: February 2018

Todd Haley’s departure from the Steelers came as no surprise, but the writing was on the wall for some time.

During a radio appearance with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith at Super Bowl 52 in Minneapolis, running back Le’Veon Bell revealed that the former offensive coordinator didn’t always see eye to eye with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
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I feel like it was a lot of third downs Todd would maybe call something that Ben didn’t like, Bell said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. There’s certain plays that Ben didn’t like. As a player, you’ve always got plays that you like, plays you dislike. It would be a big situation, and Todd would call a play that Ben don’t necessarily like, and he tried to go out there and just execute it because the play is called.

Randy’s only kind of going to give Ben what he wants, you know, make him comfortable, Bell said. Because third downs, that’s the biggest thing, that was our Achilles heel was third downs and red zone.

The Steelers finished the regular season 13-3 before their hopes of winning a seventh Super Bowl were halted one game into the playoffs, though they opened at 8-1 odds Monday behind the Patriots and Eagles to win the championship next season.

As if an extra obstacle had to be put in their path, Philly had to beat the defending champions and the defining dynasty of this generation, the Patriots, on Sunday night in Minneapolis to do it. And one more wall to scale: They did Ben Bishop Jersey it with their backup quarterback, Nick Foles, instead of the second-year sensation they lost to a knee injury with a month remaining in the regular season, Carson Wentz.

Wentz was a serious NFL MVP candidate when he went down. Tom Brady won the award instead. Foles, though, has a trophy Brady couldn’t get, couldn’t add to the five he already possessed.

Limited Womens DeShawn Shead Jersey In years to come, that may be remembered as strongly as the fact the Eagles took their name off a short list they despised being on, the list of teams that have never won a Super Bowl. It was no small feat proving that Brady was not invincible, that beating him in the ultimate game was not the sole province of Eli Manning, and that even an MVP season at age 40 and an eighth trip to the Super Bowl in an unprecedented career wasn’t guaranteed to have a happy ending.

Limited Womens Brendan Langley Jersey On the other hand, it won’t be forgotten that Foles won a Lombardi Trophy as a backup quarterback for the first time since 锟斤拷 Brady did it in Super Bowl 36, the dawn of the dynasty. (Nor will it be forgotten that Foles helped himself by catching a touchdown pass , to go with the one he threw earlier.)

Vikings bring back defensive coordinator George Edwards for 2018

A source close to the Vikings tells Sporting News that the team has renewed defensive coordinator George Edwards’ contract for 2018.

Edwards’ previous deal expired after the 2017 season, but the Vikings made an easy decision to retain him after he guided the NFL’s No. 1 defense during a run to the NFC Championship game. Terms of the new contract were not immediately available.

This is not like some of these other “oops” moments from coaches who’ve taken jobs and then decided they’d made a mistake, for whatever reason.

Billy Donovan took the Orlando Magic job in June 2007 after he’d won consecutive NCAA championships at Florida and the Magic decided to dump a truckload of money on him: five years, $27.5 million. They’d fired Brian Hill on May 24. They announced Donovan as his replacement on June 3. He made an impulsive decision, motivated by money and proximity and the fact he’d be starting over with the Gators after losing the five starters who’d delivered him two titles. So he made a considered decision to renege.

The Cardinals also have officially hired Kirby Wilson as their new running backs coach, a source told Sporting News. News of Arizona’s interest in Wilson was first reported by Sporting News.

But here’s the final lesson for the rest of the NFL: Youovercome key injuries if you stay positive … and if you have quality depth for the next-man-up mantra to succeed.

Such depth often comes in the form of late-round draft picks, under-the-radar free-agent signings and undrafted free agents who fit in well. A good example is 2016 fifth-rounder Halapoulivaati Vaitai.

Big V had a few rough starts after replacing Peters at the critical left tackle spot, but he got better as the season progressed — credit to him and the coaches who worked with him. He did not allow a sack against Vikings Pro Bowler Everson Griffen or the Patriots pass-rushers who had been so effective in wins over Tennessee and Jacksonville.
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EJ Manuel was the first quarterback taken in the 2013 Draft and the only one in the first round.

That’s right: To be fair, Manuel went 25-6 at Florida State and won a bowl game in each of his four years there.

19. Paul DePodesta, chief strategy officer, Browns (NR): The former Mets personnel executive and baseball GM (a fictionalized version of whom was played by Jonah Hill in the “Moneyball” movie) tries to bring analytics to football with the league’s worst franchise — and the rest of the NFL will be watching. It also sounds like a good plot for “Moneyball 2,” actually.

Forgive my amateur sense of good Super Bowl TV pregame storytelling, but what a tale this would have made for NBC.

So many significant pieces were in place, right there in Minneapolis. Cris Collinsworth, who will call the game on NBC, was on that Bengals team. Esiason is there to be the analyst on on the radio version. Theirs is a shared bizarre experience worth a half hour show.

Additonally, Solomon Wilcots, a CBS analyst, was a Cincy starting defensive back. They were all easily accessible.

Taylor was heavily involved with the starters during the Titans’ dress rehearsal against the Bears. He received two carries totaling 7 yards and was the intended recipient of a reverse from Derrick Henry, but Henry got bills_005tackled before he could make the pitch to Taylor sweeping around in the other direction.

Taylor also helped the Titans convert a third-and-31 (!!!) by catching a seam route, breaking three tackles at once, then dragging a couple more defenders for more yards at the end of the play.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Christian Hackenberg looked not good for the Jets, serving up two pick-sixes to the Giants before giving way to Bryce Petty, who tossed two TDs. It was also a rough night for the Broncos, who saw Paxton Lynch (shoulder), Demaryius Thomas (groin), Zach Kerr (knee) and safety Will Parks (hip) leave the game against the Packers with injuries.

Dolphins (4-5): Miami gets mentioned solely because of its record in what’s shaping up to be a soft AFC wild-card bubble.

The Dolphins have lost three straight, two of them on the road by a combined score of 85-21. Miami also has the following teams remaining on its schedule: Patriots (twice), Bills (twice) and Chiefs. The outlook is bleak.

Raiders (4-5): Oakland also has a difficult slate remaining, starting with Sunday’s game against the Patriots in Mexico City and continuing with the Chiefs, Cowboys and Eagles down the line.

Ravens (4-5): Baltimore has lost 3 of 4, but the Ravens’ late bye week will have them rested up for a schedule that isn’t exactly taxing: Packers sans Aaron Rodgers, Texans, Lions, Steelers, Browns, Colts, Bengals.

Remember how Roethlisberger was carted off in the wild 2016 first-round game against Cincinnati with a shoulder injury and returned to lead the team to a victory, helped mightily by the Bengals’ discombobulation? Roethlisberger couldn’t even throw the ball down the field but managed to Willis Reed the Steelers to a win. This year, he’s healthy and has dangerous weapons.

His replacement, Tom Savage, has completed 82 of 149 passes (55 percent) for 869 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a 71.7 passer rating during his career. Any playoff hopes the Texans had went out the window as soon as Watson was ruled out for the remainder of the season.

Miami was the second-worst rushing team in the league before trading away Jay Ajayi to the Eagles. More indicative of its lackluster playoff chances: Miami’s gamble on Jay Cutler hasn’t worked out. His passer rating in a clean pocket is average (98.2) and becomes worse than average under pressure (63.6). He is ranked 26th out of 33 passers per ESPN’s QBR rating, which does not build confidence the Dolphins can outperform their projected win total of 7.2.

I can’t take it anymore. I don’t really know. I can’t pinpoint why right now. Part of it is the handling of the [Kirk] Cousins situation. I mean, I think he’s good enough to keep around, when you look around the league and see what you could have otherwise. I think he’s way, way, way better than many other options. And it just seems like if we’re not going to [keep him], then what’s this all about?

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Perhaps Kelly will resurface in the NFL at some point.

He is friendly with Bill Belichick and there was speculation he might have been a candidate to replace Josh McDaniels as the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator if McDaniels had moved on to a head coaching role.

But, then again, the Jacksonville Jaguars reportedly interviewed Kelly before promoting Doug Marrone to be their full-time head coach, removing his interim tag, and they didn’t hire Kelly as their head coach or even as Marrone’s offensive coordinator. There was speculation about the Atlanta Falcons possibly hiring Kelly as their offensive coordinator upon Kyle Shanahan’s post-Super-Bowl departure to be Kelly’s successor with the 49ers. But the Falcons went with Steve Sarkisian.

He added later: “We know how important this is to our sponsors, our partners, our licensees. It’s important to us, also. We all share that.”

The league’s game operations manual, sent by the league to teams, requires that players be on the sideline for the anthem and says they should stand for it. It leaves open the possibility of league-imposed discipline for a failure to be on the sideline for the anthem. There is no violation and no potential discipline mentioned for a failure to stand for the anthem.

Minnesota’s second killer gaffe came with the Vikings down 14-7 late in the second quarter and driving. Eleven plays into a six-plus-minute march, Keenum turned the ball over on a vicious strip-sack by rookie pass-rusher Derek Barnett to set up Philly’s second touchdown. Fourteen Eagles points off two turnovers amounted to total disaster for a Vikings team that never recovered.

Motoring a Philly ground game that piled up 110 yards at 3.7 yards per rush, LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi authored a handful of key gallops, highlighted by Blount ripping through Minnesota’s front-seven for an 11-yard touchdown that put Philly up 14-7. Blount’s 10 rushing touchdowns in the playoffs since 2013 are four more than any other player and more than Eric Dickerson (4), Walter Payton (2), Jim Brown (1), and Barry Sanders (1) put up in the postseason combined.cowboys_068

Two teams promoted their own offensive coordinators: the New York Giants with Ben McAdoo and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Dirk Koetter.

Three hired someone else’s offensive coordinator: the Cleveland Browns with Cincinnati’s Hue Jackson, the Dolphins with Chicago’s Adam Gase and the Philadelphia Eagles with Kansas City’s Doug Pederson. The 49ers hired Chip Kelly, the offensive-minded head coach fired by the Eagles. The Tennessee Titans made their former offensive assistant turned interim coach, Mike Mularkey, their full-time coach.

This time, facing a tough third-and-17, USC opts to run the ball in effort to not lose any extra yards before they punt. Foster spots something he must have recognized from film study, because he quickly swaps position with his fellow linebacker before charging down to the line of scrimmage. Foster bursts through the line of scrimmage, forcing the pulling right guard to try to pick him up. The guard does his best to run Foster past the back, but Foster works around the guard and grabs on to the back, making the tackle for a loss.

The Titans’ schedule isn’t all that much harder. After Thursday night’s game in Pittsburgh, Tennessee gets a four-game stretch featuring the Colts, Texans, Cardinals and 49ers. At this point it’s safe to say that the Jacksonville-Tennessee division loser will claim one of the AFC’s wild-card spots, leaving the Bills and just about everyone else in the AFC to battle for the last one.

Frankly, the only team that we can probably eliminate from the AFC playoff race is winless Cleveland. Everyone else is within 2 1/2 games of the Bills, currently holding down the final wild-card spot. But these three are closest.

The Washington Redskins have the 17th overall pick, and nine other picks — a second-round selection, (49th) a third (81st), two fourth-rounders (114, 123), one fifth (154), two sixth-rounders (201, 209) and two seventh-round picks (220, 235).

How should the Redskins use those picks? Do they have to go defense? Should they add another running back, or a quarterback for the future? We hash it all out here in our final draft debate. Master, if you’re sitting there at 17, what’s your call?cowboys_030

The Cavs fell 148-124 to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday, tying a franchise record for most points allowed in regulation.

I think the biggest thing that can happen is can’t no one be sensitive to whatever it needs to be, Wade said. There’s [for example] 13 things that’s wrong and coach decides to point out one thing and you’re the one that he points out, you can’t be sensitive to it. You’ve got to understand that you can be better and this can be done better. We have to take accountability. I think we want it because we want to win. We’re looking for it. So hopefully in these next few weeks before the All-Star break we can start getting a little more accountable to ourselves and to this team and just play a little better.

I’m sure everybody’s handling it their own way, Dwyane Wade said. Some might handle it with a couple bottles of wine, some may handle it other ways. But only speaking on my behalf as a competitor, these times suck. These times are the times that make everything else, you understand the importance of winning games, you understand how hard it is to win championships. It makes you appreciate things when you go through the tough times.

Mike Cernovich, a right wing firebrand and conspiracy theorist, dubbed Papa John’s America’s pizza in a tweet thanking the company. (It’s unclear for what, exactly.)

Schnatter, in the earnings call, blamed poor NFL leadership — not the players directly — for hurting Papa John’s shareholders because of the league’s failure to resolve the current debacle to the player’s and owner’s satisfaction.

Following one of the most inept defensive performances in Cavaliers history, LeBron James said his team looked primed for a short postseason appearance, barring any changes.

They are 3-9 since Christmas Day.

Playoffs? We can’t even start thinking about that, not the way we’re playing right now, James said. We could easily get bounced early in the playoffs if they started next weekend. Haven’t even began thinking about the postseason.
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