Impending free agent linebacker Larry Foote led the Lions in tackles last season.
Larry Foote thinks he's a goner
Coach Pete Carroll said that it was “unfortunate” that the officials didn’t apply the rule correctly after the game and on Tuesday admitted that he would have been taken aback if they had thrown a flag and returned the ball to the Lions. Carroll said that his staff tells players to knock loose balls out of bounds, but wasn’t aware that it’s against the rules to do that in the end zone.
“I would have done the exact same thing. I would have done the exact same thing,” Carroll said on 710 ESPN. “I didn’t know that rule either. I’ve never even seen it come up and I’ve been coaching for — I don’t even know how many years it is and how many games it could possibly be — I don’t know how anybody would have know that one. If they did, they did.”
Carroll probably should have known about the rule since the Seahawks were guilty of breaking another section of it in a 2013 game against the 49ers. In addition to barring players from batting the ball out of the end zone, the rule also makes it a penalty to bat a loose ball toward the opposing end zone as Seahawks safety Chris Maragos did with a blocked punt in that game.
Monday night’s play came in a bigger spot so there shouldn’t be too many people around the league unaware of the rule thanks to the attention generated by the non-call.
The officials weren’t the only ones who screwed up when the Seahawks weren’t flagged for an illegal bat in Monday night’s win over the Lions. ESPN also dropped the ball by waiting until after the game to point out that Seattle should have been penalized, and the ball should have been given back to the Lions, after Calvin Johnson’s fumble into the end zone.
After the fumble, neither Mike Tirico nor Jon Gruden said anything at all about the illegal bat, which the NFL has since admitted should have been a penalty on the Seahawks that would have given the Lions first-and-goal inside the 1-yard line. That’s surprising because Tirico is a consummate professional who’s always well-prepared for any game he calls, and Gruden is a former coach well known for his obsessive attention to detail. You’d think both of them, or at least one of them, would know that rule.
But it’s even more surprising because ESPN has former NFL referee Gerry Austin in the booth on Monday nights specifically to weigh in when there’s an officiating mistake. Tirico even pointed that out on Monday night, saying, “Retired Super Bowl referee Gerry Austin up here in the booth with us” at the start of the fourth quarter. At the start of the Lions’ drive that ended with Johnson’s fumble, Austin was on the air discussing the relevant rule when Lions’ punt returner picked up his own muffed punt and ran it out of the end zone.
So where was Austin a few minutes later? Why didn’t he immediately pipe up and explain that the officials had missed a huge call? We’ve reached out to ESPN to ask that question, but we didn’t immediately hear back.
Eventually, ESPN did identify the blown call, but only after the game, several minutes later. The blown call is the biggest story of Monday night’s game, but many viewers turned off the TV and went to bed without even realizing it had happened.
The NFL’s rules are so complex that identifying bad calls immediately and explaining them clearly is a hard job. Former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira does the job well on FOX, but former referee Mike Carey has struggled in a similar role on CBS. Austin is used less prominently on ESPN, but Monday night was a perfect opportunity for him to shine. Instead, we never heard a word from him until the game was over.
To its credit, ESPN has done a good job of covering the story today. Mike & Mike began their broadcast this morning with a long discussion of the blown call, and it has been prominently featured on other ESPN programming all day long. But the time to identify the blown call was when it happened, and ESPN missed it.
With NFL owners gathering in New York for their fall meeting this week, the situation in Los Angeles is at the top of their stack.
And even though there’s still plenty of politicking going on, the consensus remains that professional football will be back there soon.
According to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, Colts owner Jim Irsay said there was still a “high likelihood” that one or two teams would be in L.A. in the 2016 season.
As we’ve reported, the current lean is not toward Stan Kroenke’s bid to take the Rams to a stadium he wants to build in Inglewood, rather the site in Carson which would be shared by the Chargers and/or Raiders.
With a group of influential owners including Jerry Richardson steering the process, it’s clear the league wants to resolve this issue. And if Irsay’s comments are any indication, that could be sooner rather than later.
The Bills have signed running back Daniel “Boom” Herron to bolster their banged-up running back room.
The Bills worked out some running backs, including Trent Richardson, on Tuesday because rookie starter-for-now Karlos Williams is dealing with a concussion. LeSean McCoy is out indefinitely with a hamstring injury.
Cierre Wood was promoted from the practice squad last week. Boobie Dixon is probably ahead of Herron and Wood in line as Williams, who’s scored a touchdown in every game this season, awaits clearance.
The Colts waived-injured Herron last month and then released him from injured reserve with a settlement. Herron is a veteran of 25 career games and three starts and played well down the stretch and in the playoffs for the Colts last season. The Colts signed him off the Bengals’ practice squad in 2013.
The Bills created a roster spot for Herron by placing tight end MarQueis Gray on injured reserve. The team also signed wide receiver Walter Powell to the practice squad.
The 4-0 Bengals host the Seahawks Sunday, and the locals are apparently excited.
The game is sold out, a rarity in Cincinnati. The Bengals had about 58,000 fans for each of their two previous home games this season.
In addition to announcing a sellout this week, the Bengals announced that “limited” tickets are left for a Nov. 5 Thursday night game vs. the Browns. The listed capacity for Paul Brown Stadium is 65,515.
The Bengals didn’t get more than 60,000 for a game last year until their fifth home game. They sold out 57 straight games from Nov. 2003-Nov. 2010, but the team struggled in 2010 and longtime fan favorites Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco were gone the next season. The Bengals didn’t crack 45,000 for either of their first two home games in 2011, but the team has been in the playoffs every year since and averaged over 63,000 fans in 2013 before seeing a slight dip last season.
The Bengals were the only team to vote against the NFL nixing local TV blackouts last spring, but team owner Mike Brown insisted that was related to a revenue-sharing issue, not actually forcing fans to come to the stadium to see the team play. Even when the NFL relaxed its blackout rules, the Bengals initially didn’t want to declare sellouts unless they’d actually sold out.
The Bengals hadn’t had a home game blacked out since 2012, and now they’re seeing reward at the box office for what’s been one of the league’s most impressive teams on the field over the season’s first month.
The Bears made a pair of trades last week after losing their first three games of the season, which led to a lot of talk about more moves to come as the Bears try to put together a better team under new coach John Fox and General Manager Ryan Pace.
One of the players whose names came up in that talk was running back Matt Forte. Forte’s contract is up after this season and there hasn’t been much sign that the Bears are clamoring to bring him back in 2016, which made it easy to speculate that a backfield-needy team might make a run at bringing him to their offense.
During an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show Tuesday, Forte said he doesn’t think that’s going to happen.
“I don’t worry about those things,” Forte said. “A lot of it is media speculation, just like in the offseason they were like ‘the Bears could trade Matt.’ Everybody was talking about me getting traded then and it didn’t happen. Now after one guy gets traded, it all comes back again. I can’t control that either. They can trade me if they want to. I don’t think I’m going anywhere, but I can only control how I play on the football field and that’s what I do.”
Forte said that he wants to be on a winning team, but that he’d like the Bears to be that team. That looks like a tall order to pull off in 2015, so things would have to change on the contract front for Forte to reach that goal.
The Falcons are off to a 4-0 start without one of the best return men the NFL has known, so what’s another eight weeks?
The Falcons announced that returner Devin Hester will be placed on injured reserve/designated for return, after a lingering turf toe injury failed to get better.
The move will keep Hester off the practice field for at least six weeks, and he’ll be eligible to return for their Week 13 trip to Tampa Bay.
“We have decided to place Devin on short-term IR,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “We have been trying to treat his toe injury the best we could, and he has been doing everything in his power to get back on the field, but at this point we think this is the best plan of action. We are confident this time will let Devin get healthy and be a big contributor to this team once he is back on the field.”
The Falcons also signed safety Charles Godfrey and tight end Tony Moeaki, and released tight end Mickey Shuler.
Hester contributed on offense for the Falcons last year, with 38 catches for 504 yards and two touchdowns. But most importantly, he led the league in punt return average (13.3 yards per return), as well as combined kick/punt return yardage (1,368).
Several players on the Bills told the Buffalo News that Beckham threw multiple punches during the Giants’ win on Sunday. According to the Bills, Beckham is good at throwing quick punches while the officials aren’t looking, then backing away from the fray.
In at least one case, video appears to back the Bills up: After a Bills interception, Bills safety Duke Williams blocked Beckham to the ground. As both of them got back up, Beckham appeared to throw a quick punch with his right hand toward Williams’s chin before running way. Williams wasn’t happy about it, saying he lost respect for Beckham.
“A guy like that,” Williams said, “you expect him to be a stand-up guy but I guess it is a part of his game. He likes to throw cheap shots here and there and gets away with it. I guess it’s his thing. . . . Right in front of the referee and he threw a jab at me and ran behind his teammates. He ran away. I’m just like, ‘Wow. That’s crazy.’”
In addition to being disappointed with the way Beckham handled himself, the Bills came away unimpressed with the kind of player he is. Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore said teammate Sammy Watkins is a better young receiver than Beckham, and that Beckham’s famous highlight-reel catch last year against the Cowboys has caused people to overrate him.
“I don’t really watch TV and listen to the hype. I study guys on the film and then I judge him,” Gilmore said. “He’s not Sammy Watkins. He has good hands, he can catch. He’s good but he’s not what people think after that one catch.”
Gilmore is off-base there. Beckham is a great player. But the Bills may be right that he’s a player who takes some cheap shots. Don’t be surprised if the league office has something to say about Beckham’s actions.
The Giants placed tight end Daniel Fells on injured reserve Monday after doctors discovered he had a staph infection while treating him for an ankle problem.
Fells needed surgery and remains hospitalized with what several reports say is a MRSA infection. MRSA can be particularly difficult to treat because it is resistant to many types of antibiotics.
The Buccaneers dealt with an outbreak of MRSA in their team facilities a couple of years ago and face a lawsuit from former kicker Lawrence Tynes related to the infection that ended his career. Guard Carl Nicks also saw his career come to an early end after contracting MRSA around the same time.
To avoid anything similar happening in their facility, the Giants announced Tuesday that they have scrubbed their locker room, meeting areas and training rooms under the supervision of infectious disease specialists.
“We are working with infectious disease specialists, and we have defined protocols that we are following in consultation with the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network and local infectious disease specialists,” Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon said. “Those protocols are being followed carefully.”
Dan Graziano of ESPN reports that Fells is expected to recover and there have been no other reported cases of MRSA among Giants players.
Not only did the Lions lose a game they should have at least had a chance to tie last night, but they also lost a key player.
He’ll go on injured reserve, and while he won’t be able to help the Lions this year, he is expected to make a full recovery.
Signed from New Orleans this offseason, Walker was a key contributor to their defensive line rotation, and his absence is just injury to insult for a team sitting 0-4 and having just gotten jobbed by the league.
The Lions went into Monday night’s game against the Seahawks with one injured tight end and they added another one before the first half was over.
Eric Ebron got rolled up from behind in the first half and the team ruled him out for the remainder of the game with a knee injury. Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that an MRI taken of the injury on Tuesday showed “no structural damage.”
Whether that means he’ll be able to play against the Cardinals in Week Five or not has yet to be determined. Ebron had two catches for 22 yards before getting hurt and has 15 catches for 179 yards on the season. Brandon Pettigrew missed a third straight game with a hamstring injury, which left Tim Wright as the only healthy tight end for most of Monday’s game.
The Lions also saw starting defensive tackles Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker leave with injuries during the loss. Ngata has a calf injury that he said felt OK after the game, but Walker suffered a nasty leg injury that coach Jim Caldwell indicated would sideline him for a long period of time.
“I’ve been around Joe for four years, and I think it’s crap that people are giving him crap for not playing through something that he felt like wouldn’t have put the team in the best situation,” Robertson told Northeast Ohio Media Group. “If Joe decided not to go, it’s because he did it for the team and it was nothing personal for him, but I think it’s crap that fans or anybody is saying anything about any of that because that’s a guy who goes through everything 100 percent and puts the team before anybody.
“The fact that fans — or anybody’s saying that — that’s ridiculous.”
Browns Coach Mike Pettine said Monday that the team “left it up to Joe and he made the decision not to go” due to rib and finger injuries. That left Haden open to much public scrutiny, especially as the Browns gave up 358 yards passing in a 30-27 loss.
Haden told reporters two days before the game that he’d be fine and planned to play. He suffered a rib contusion on the first play of the previous week’s game vs. the Raiders and a finger injury last week during practice.
“I don’t think anybody in here questions Joe Haden’s heart or intentions,” McCown said. “When he’s healthy and ready to be out there, we expect him to be the same Joe that we’re used to seeing. I don’t think it’s an issue, not inside this locker room.”
The Browns have until Wednesday to submit an explanation to the league about why Haden didn’t play despite being listed as probable.
Myles Jack might be taking a chance, but he’s not going to let his next chance be for free.
According to Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated, the injured UCLA hybrid linebacker/running back has withdrawn from school, and plans to enter the 2016 NFL Draft.
Jack suffered a season-ending knee injury in September, derailing a season which could have cemented his status as a first-round pick next year anyway.
But UCLA coach Jim Mora expressed concern over Jack’s decision.
“I think it’s very risky to do this. There’s a lot of speculation to . . . where he fits,” Mora said. “I’ve been in 25 draft rooms. I’ve never seen a guy taken off [two games of junior tape]. . . .
“Myles’ talent is without question. I hope he’s put enough out there where they can get a true evaluation.”
Mora’s concern is touching, assuming he’s not just worried about Jack making a financial decision which could only benefit Jack and not Mora.
The college football-industrial complex is full of territorial squatters, as evidenced by LSU’s tsk-tsking at the suggestion that Leonard Fournette should use his earning potential for Leonard Fournette and not LSU. So it’s not a surprise that Mora would join in, warning at the inherent danger of trying to capitalize on your own talents for yourself.
The 2015 NFL season claimed its first head coach on Monday when the Dolphins fired Joe Philbin a day after dropping to 1-3 with an uninspired performance against the Jets in London.
We’ll be talking about that decision on Tuesday’s edition of PFT Live. Jeff Darlington of NFL Media was in London for that game and will join Mike Florio to talk about the move, what interim coach Dan Campbell brings to the team and what the impact will be on quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Tony Dungy of Football Night in America will also be a guest on the show. He and Florio will discuss Philbin’s dismissal along with other big stories from around the league in Week Four.
Monday night brought another of those big stories when officials in Seattle botched what should have been a penalty for illegally batting the ball out of the end zone on Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright. Former NFL official Jim Daopoulos will break down what went wrong.
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle rounds out Tuesday’s guest list for a chat about the Texans’ decision to stick with quarterback Ryan Mallett.
As always, we also want to hear what PFT Planet thinks. Email questions at any time or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.
It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app. You can also watch a simulcast of the first hour by clicking right here.
NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino says penalties like illegal batting of a loose ball in the end zone are inherently subjective. But in Blandino’s subjective opinion, the Seahawks should have been flagged and the Lions should have been given the ball back late in Monday night’s game.
“The rule itself, a bat is an intentional act, so there is subjectivity to it,” Blandino said on NFL Network. “The official has to see it and then he has to rule whether it was intentional. It could be a muff, it could just hit the player and bounce out of bounds, so he has to make all of those decisions in that split second that he has on the field and he felt it wasn’t an intentional, overt act, and that’s why he didn’t throw the flag, so it certainly is subjective.”
Blandino said the Competition Committee might consider making illegally batting a loose ball a reviewable penalty in the future, but the league generally prefers not to make subjective calls reviewable.
“Again, we try to stay away from subjective fouls, and this being one of them, similar to pass interference or offensive holding, so that’s why it hasn’t been reviewable, so I think it’s fair to say that the committee will look at this just like we look at other situations that occur throughout the year and decide if we need to add it to the list of reviewable plays,” Blandino said.
The bottom line, however, is that Blandino was able to use the TV replays to determine that the flag should have been thrown, and so the referee should have been able to use replay to review the play to put the ball back in the Lions’ hands. The NFL should change the rules to make such plays reviewable.
It appeared that the NFL had gotten through a calendar month without an arrest in September.
Not so fast, or in the case of Titans wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, just a little too fast.
According to Jason Wolf of the Tennesseean, the rookie wideout was arrested last Wednesday (Sept. 30), meaning the league didn’t get to celebrate a month without an arrest (such that they should anyway).
Green-Beckham was stopped for speeding in Van Buren, Mo., and officers cited him for doing 65 in a 55 mph zone. While he was stopped, they found another outstanding warrant for speeding in Osage Beach, Mo. He paid $92.48 to settle the ticket.
Of course, it’s not nearly the trouble Green-Beckham has been involved with in the past, which the Titans are thankful for. He’s caught a pair of touchdowns in his first three games, though they’ve come on just three total receptions as they ease him into things after he didn’t play at all last year.
Murray had a rough day against the Bears up to that point. He gained 49 yards on 16 carries, lost a fumble and couldn’t reel in a pass that wound up being intercepted, but coach Jack Del Rio said Monday that Murray wasn’t benched. Del Rio chalked it up to “different plays that we run with different players at different times of the game” and said the team’s confidence in Murray remained high.
“I remain confident,” Del Rio said. “We have some good young players. None of us our perfect. We all are capable of making mistakes. I think the sooner you own up to mistakes, the quicker you can put them behind you and move forward.”
Murray didn’t waste much time owning up to his errors on Sunday.
“Me having those two turnovers hurt us a lot,” Murray said, via the San Jose Mercury News. “We’ve just got to find a way to win the tight games. I’ll play better.”
Murray should get his chance to do that against Denver this week as the Raiders try for their first AFC West win of the season.
According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, the Bills are sufficiently thin at the position to bring in Trent Richardson for a tryout. But they’re apparently not sufficiently thin (yet) to bring in Ray Rice.
Rice is far more accomplished than Richardson, who was traded by the Browns two years ago, cut by the Colts earlier this year, and dumped by the Raiders before the start of the regular season. In August, Bills coach Rex Ryan addressed the possibility of a reunion with Rice.
“For us, we kind of have a loaded backfield, so there won’t even be a consideration there, because [of] the type of depth we have,” coach Rex Ryan told PFT Live. “And I think that’s probably what a lot of it is. I was with Ray in Baltimore [and] I really liked him when I was there. . . . We don’t have any interest and we never went into great detail about it because of the type of depth that we have at running back.”
Depth was the reason given then. The depth is now gone. So it’s now clear that the Bills are shying away from Rice for the same reason that all other teams in need of tailbacks have shied away from him.
Falcons wide receiver Roddy White currently ranks fifth on the team in receptions with six catches through the first four weeks of the season. White, who went without a catch in Weeks Two and Three, averaged more than 76 catches a year coming into this season, so it’s been an adjustment to see his role change in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s scheme.
“For me, at the end of the day, I want to catch passes,” White said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “I’m not out here just f—ing around just to sit around to just block f—ing people all day. It’s not what I want to do. I’ve contributed to offenses for this franchise for the last nine, 10 years. It always bothers me when I go out and don’t catch any balls in a game because it hasn’t happened in so long.”
White said he’s been open, but that quarterback Matt Ryan follows progressions that don’t lead him to White. He was quick to add that he’s not trying to make waves, calling good that Ryan doesn’t go off script and adding that he’ll “bear with it” in hopes that more balls come his way in the coming weeks.
Falcons wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie said White has to set his “pride aside” and realize his job is to be part of an offense built around Julio Jones because that’s going to help him get the Super Bowl ring that’s missing from his resume. White says that’s his mindset, even if he wouldn’t mind having the ball a bit more on the road to that goal.
We haven’t heard much about Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul since he visited with the team in early September for the first time since suffering severe injuries to his right hand in a July 4 fireworks accident.
The Giants didn’t feel Pierre-Paul was ready to play and reports pegged the time before they’d revisit a Pierre-Paul return at five or six weeks, although pictures of that right hand that surfaced a little bit later cast further doubt on his ability to make it back to the field this season. It’s not something the Giants are ruling out, however.
Bob Glauber of Newsday reports that the team is “cautiously optimistic” that Pierre-Paul can return for at least the final four games of the regular season and what the Giants hope will be a playoff run. Pierre-Paul has until November 17 to sign the franchise tender extended by the team if he is going to play at all this season.
The Giants will have played 10 games before that date on the calendar and wins the last two weeks have raised hopes that those final weeks of the season will find the team contending for a postseason spot that Pierre-Paul may be helping them earn if all goes well with his rehab.