Skip to content

Owners should override Competition Committee on Calvin Johnson rule

calvin-johnson-detroit-lions-04dd2d63b84a684e_large AP

As expected, Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay explained to the media on Wednesday that the league’s rule-making body won’t recommend to ownership any substantive changes to the rule regarding pass completions while the receiver is going to the ground.

That’s why the owners need to take the bull by the ball (the football, not the other kind) and come up with a rule that will allow consistent and easy application by the officials, and that will mesh with reasonable fan expectations.

Here’s what McKay said regarding the Competition Committee’s decision to stand pat:

“We spent an awful lot of time on catch-no catch. It’s not the first time that we’ve spent a lot of time on it. We seem to do it a lot. Let me give you a couple of things that we started at. We started in Indianapolis going through it with the committee itself and just watching the plays and asking is that a catch or not a catch – let’s go back through the rules. We came out with the fact that we all see an inherent conflict between what goes on with respect to the scrutiny provided by replay or slow motion and what goes on in live action. I think all of us came out at a point that we have to make sure that we write the rules for what is officiated on the field at full speed in live action, and not what gets looked at in super slow motion. I think what will come out and what will be written in our report is that we’ll confirm the rule that’s really been there for more than 70 years, which basically says there are three elements to a catch: number one, you’ve got to secure control of the ball in your hands; number two, you’ve got to maintain that control when you have two feet down or any body part other than your hands; and number three, which will be the clarification that we’ll add to the book, we’ll say you must control the ball long enough after A and B, meaning you’ve caught it cleanly and you’ve got two feet down or a body part, and after those two elements then you’ve got to maintain control long enough, and we’re going to use the language we’ve had in the book for a long time, in which you would have the ability to perform any act common to the game. It doesn’t mean you have to perform the act, but it’s an element of time and you’ve got to write it in such a way where people understand that it’s not just bang-bang and that’s a catch.

“So in our mind, and I think in the coaches subcommittee’s mind when we went back and watched the tape with them, if you asked me the simple question of would Calvin Johnson be a catch in 2011, the answer in our minds would be no. You still wouldn’t have those three elements having been maintained, especially because in his act he is going to the ground in the act of catching a pass, and the way the language will be written this year to make sure that people understand it, it will say if the player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass with or without contact by an opponent, he must maintain control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. So that’s a lot of verbiage, but that’s kind of how we look at it. There are three elements to the catch and there’s the element of if you’re going to the ground you’re going to have to maintain it throughout the process of contacting the ground. So we looked at I can’t tell you how many plays that probably go back over the span of three or four years just to make sure we’re consistent, and the one thing we’ve come away with is you have to put some responsibility on the receiver and that responsibility is maintaining possession throughout contacting the ground, because otherwise you’re going to have a real issue with respect to how replay conflicts with live action officiating. We’ve got a long part of our report that will be written up that deals with those two issues, so maybe I didn’t explain it as clearly as I could but I think it’ll be written in the report.”

Based on the first paragraph, it sounds like the Competition Committee will potentially be making the process more complicated by codifying the vague “second act” exception that was used, despite not appearing in the rule book, during Super Bowl XLIV, when Saints receiver Lance Moore caught the ball while falling down near the goal line, reached the ball across the plane while falling, lost possession of the ball upon hitting the ground, and ultimately was awarded two points via a ruling that the catch was valid.  Those two points put the Saints up by seven instead of five late in the game.  Knowing that a Colts touchdown could have merely tied the game instead of taking the lead may have made Saints cornerback Tracy Porter more inclined to jump the route that produced a backbreaking touchdown in New Orleans’ eventual victory.

Though the owners have in the past refused to adopt rule changes recommended by the Competition Committee, it’s unusual if not unprecedented (as Eagles president Joe Banner said during today’s PFT Live) for the owners to interject their own rule change that the Competition Committee specifically decided not to suggest.

Well, there’s a first time for everything.

We see two potential approaches.  First, the owners should adopt a rule that recognizes a catch as a valid completion if the receiver lands with both feet on the ground, or a knee, leg, butt, torso, elbow, shoulder, or head touching the turf, regardless of what happens as the rest of his body hits the deck.  Alternatively, and preferably, the owners should go back to the rule that applied before Bert Emanuel had possession in both hands but the ball touched the ground and the league thereafter decided that under certain circumstances the ball would be allowed to touch the ground as long as it didn’t move.

So what’s wrong with requiring the player to catch the ball and to not allow it to touch the ground at any point in the process of making the catch?  If the player is going to the ground while catching the ball, the ball should not touch the ground.  If it does, the catch is not a catch.  Though some may think that it’s not “fair” to take away a good catch simply because the pigskin grazes the grass, at least there would be no room for ambiguity or inconsistency.

At a time when the owners are surely feeling like they don’t have control over much of anything, this would be a great opportunity for them to take charge of their game — and to give the fans a clear rule that widely will be regarded not only as fair but sufficiently clear to allow folks who in varying degrees of intoxication to understand when a catch is a catch, and when it isn’t.

Permalink 33 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Rumor Mill, Sprint Football Live - Rumors, Top Stories

Broncos present Kubiak with game ball after easy win

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 2:  Head coach Gary Kubiak of the Denver Broncos looks on from the sidelines in the final moments of the fourth quarter of an NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 2, 2016 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib came out of the postgame locker room Monday night to talk with ESPN’s army of commentators.

Talib said the Broncos presented head coach Gary Kubiak with a game ball after their 27-9 win over the Texans because “we missed him last week. Our whole vibe last week was off. He’s just deserving. He made us had a great week of practice.”

Kubiak missed the Broncos’ Oct. 13 loss to the Chargers after being hospitalized and ordered by his doctors to take a week off.

The win over the Texans was special for the Broncos because Kubiak is the ex-Texans head coach and because quarterback Brock Osweiler left the Broncos for the Texans in free agency. Talib said the Broncos were ready, “mainly for Brock,” and played the way they believed they would.

“We wanted to get some good hits on him,” Talib said. “Unfortunately we didn’t get that many. We only got one sack.

“We liked our matchups…against their receiving corps. We just played our technique, man, we went out there and put hands on them. With a pass rush like [we have]…we know something is going to happen.”

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Osweiler struggles, Broncos roll to Monday night win

Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) escapes the reach of Denver Broncos defensive end Jared Crick during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

Quarterback Brock Osweiler left Denver last March to sign with the Texans. In his return Monday night, Osweiler never had much of a chance.

The Broncos’ defense dominated, Osweiler never hit enough passes to truly threaten and the Broncos powered their way to a 27-9 win. The Texans held an early 6-0 lead but only got inside the Broncos’ 25-yard line once all night, and that was in the third quarter.

The Broncos didn’t turn the ball over or give up a sack. They had touchdown drives of 72, 75 and 68 yards, respectively. C.J. Anderson ran for 107 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

The Broncos won the coin toss and chose to defer, putting Osweiler on the field first. Of course they chose to defer.

It was the right move, too, as Osweiler struggled all night. Through three quarters, Osweiler averaged 2.8 yards per pass. He finished 22-of-41 for 131 yards.

Anderson ran for a score and Demaryius Thomas caught a touchdown pass in the first half. The Broncos went up 21-9 late in the third quarter on the first touchdown run of rookie Devontae Booker’s NFL career.

The Broncos move to 5-2 and host the Chargers next week. The Texans are 4-3 and host the Lions next week.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Broncos take full control

Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson (22) scores a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) AP

A short touchdown run by rookie Devontae Booker late in the third quarter extended the Broncos’ lead over the Texans to 21-9.

It’s become the kind of defensively dominated game most expected it would be. Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler has struggled in his return to Denver and the Broncos defense has gained confidence as the game has gone on. Through three quarters, Osweiler has averaged 2.8 yards per pass.

The Broncos have had touchdown drives of 72, 75 and 68 yards, respectively. It’s hard to imagine the Texans having enough left in the tank or enough offense to mount a fourth-quarter rally.

C.J. Anderson ran for a score and Demaryius Thomas caught a touchdown pass in the first half.

The touchdown was the first of Booker’s NFL career and the first third-quarter touchdown of the season for the Broncos.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Report: Texans tackle Derek Newton tore patella tendons in both knees

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 24:  Tackle Derek Newton #72 of the Houston Texans is carted off the field in the first quarter of the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

Houston Texans right tackle Derek Newton has suffered torn patella tendons in both knees, according to Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL Media.

Newton went down without any contact as he was setting to block Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller early in Houston’s Monday night game in Denver. Trainers placed both of Newton’s legs in air casts before he was lifted onto a cart and taken from the stadium.

Chris Clark replaced Newton at right tackle.

A torn patella tendon is a devastating injury on its own. New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz and Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham are a couple of players to experience the injury in recent seasons. However, very few players have had to deal with tearing both tendons at the same time.

Former Chicago Bears receiver Wendell Davis had both knees give out while tracking a pass from Jim Harbaugh at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia in 1993. The injury effectively ended Davis’ career, though he did attempt a comeback with the Indianapolis Colts in 1995. More recently, Cleveland Browns cornerback Gary Baxter suffered the dual injury in a game against the Broncos in 2006. He also tried to return to football but never appeared in another game.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Anderson touchdown caps long drive, gives Broncos first lead

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptnjnwewzjy2zjyymwmxzwvmyzliytrmzdrlzdnkmgfi AP

The Broncos have taken a 7-6 lead on the Texans early in the second quarter on a 7-yard touchdown run by C.J. Anderson.

The touchdown drive covered 85 yards in 10 plays and was the first productive Broncos’ drive of the night.

After a quick stop, a Trevor Siemian touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas made it 14-6. The Texans appear to be in trouble.

Both teams took their starting running backs out of the game after injury scares, but both are apparently OK. Lamar Miller was back in the game on the drive following the touchdown. Anderson was injured on the last play of the first quarter. He took a few plays off, then returned.

The Texans got two first quarter field goals to take a 6-0 lead.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Texans tackle Newton carted off

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 01: Derek Newton #75 of the Houston Texans looks on during the game against the Minnesota Vikings on September 1, 2011 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

Texans starting right tackle Derek Newton was carted off the field in the first quarter of Monday night’s Texans-Broncos game.

According to the ESPN broadcast, air casts were placed on both of Newton’s legs and Texans tackle Duane Brown had to assist the team’s training staff in getting Newton on the cart.

The Texans announced that Newton has a knee injury.

Newton missed last week’s game, ending a streak of 56 straight starts. Chris Clark is his likely replacement at right tackle, where he’ll be the primary matchup for All-Pro pass rusher Von Miller of the Broncos.

Trainers spent several minutes with Newton after his legs got tangled with Miller’s on a third-down play. The Texans kicked a field goal on the next play and have a 3-0 lead.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Arian Foster calls it quits

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Arian Foster #29 of the Miami Dolphins carries the ball during the first half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dolphins running back Arian Foster announced his retirement Monday evening.

Foster released a statement via the Twitter account of Uninterrupted, an athlete website owned by NBA star LeBron James.

“There comes a time in every athlete’s career when their ambition and their body are no longer on the same page,” Foster wrote. “I’ve reached that point. It’s hard to write those words because this game has been everything to me.”

Foster, 30, went from undrafted free agent to the Texans’ practice squad to the franchise’s all-time leading rusher and four-time Pro Bowler. He led the NFL with 1,616 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns in 2010, his second season.

He was limited to four games last season by injuries, then signed with the Dolphins after being released by the Texans last March. He’s retiring after battling more injuries this season.

In his statement, Foster thanked the Dolphins and said he was proud to have been a part of the NFL for eight seasons.

“Life has other plans,” he wrote. “I could not be prouder of the things my teammates and I accomplished in this game.”

Permalink 61 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Hunter Henry in concussion protocol

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 13:  Hunter Henry #86 of the San Diego Chargers runs with the ball after his catch during the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium on October 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chargers rookie tight end Hunter Henry is in the NFL’s concussion protocol and will be monitored this week as the Chargers prepare to play at the Broncos.

Chargers Coach Mike McCoy said Monday that Henry reported concussion-like symptoms after the Chargers won in Atlanta Sunday.

Henry, who’s just 21, has 20 catches on the season, three for touchdowns. He’s become a key player in a dangerous Chargers’ offense, and if he can’t play Sunday it would be a significant loss.

Henry had eight catches for 83 yards and a touchdown when the Chargers beat the Broncos on Oct. 13.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Denials from coaches don’t mean Joe Thomas, Joe Staley won’t be traded

SANTA CLARA, CA - AUGUST 24:  Joe Staley #74 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on during the preseason game against the San Diego Chargers at Levi's Stadium on August 24, 2014 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

We have no intent to trade Percy Harvin.”

Remember that one? It came from Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman, not long before the team unloaded the mercurial wideout on a Seattle team that got limited use out of him before dumping him on the Jets for a bowl of soup.

Granted, Spielman never said Harvin wouldn’t be traded. But the message is that, no matter what a team says, trades can and do happen.

As to Browns tackle Joe Thomas and 49ers tackle Joe Staley, Browns coach Hue Jackson and 49ers coach Chip Kelly, respectively, have thrown water on the notion that either are available. Jackson said Thomas, who nearly was traded a year ago (before the Browns were in full-blown rebuilding mode), won’t be traded. Kelly said talk of a Staley trade is “news to him.”

That’s fine. But keep this in mind: Neither guy is the G.M., and neither guy owns the team. If either team gets what they want (the Browns, we’re told, want a second-round pick and the 49ers, we’re told want a late first-round selection) or perhaps something close to it, whatever Jackson or Kelly are saying now will quickly be forgotten.

Just like Minnesota’s lack of intent to trade Percy Harvin. Or like Jets coach Todd Bowles claim from one week ago tonight that he wouldn’t be benching Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Often in NFL circles, truth takes a back seat to strategic objectives. Which makes it foolish to take anything any coach, G.M., or owner says at face value.

Permalink 12 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Okung is OK, in Monday night’s starting lineup

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 08:  Running back C.J. Anderson #22 of the Denver Broncos celebrates with offensive tackle Russell Okung #73 after Anderson scores on a 25-yard reception in the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 8, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos left tackle Russell Okung is active and in the starting lineup for Monday night’s game vs. the Texans.

Okung had been listed as questionable due to a concussion. He was a limited participant in practice on Friday and Saturday.

Broncos wide receiver Cody Latimer is out due to a concussion. He also had been listed as questionable. The Broncos had previously listed outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware as out as he continues to recover from a forearm injury.

As expected, the Texans have defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (wrist) and linebacker John Simon (shoulder) active and available. They had been listed as questionable.

The Texans had listed four players — cornerback Kevin Johnson, linebacker Brian Peters, safety Quintin Demps and running back Jonathan Grimes — as out. The team announced that Corey Moore will start in place of Demps.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Patriots waive Anthony Johnson

Kansas City Chiefs v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

The Patriots waived defensive lineman Anthony Johnson on Monday.

Johnson had played in four games this season for the Patriots, starting one. He also served a previous short stint on the practice squad, and he could end up back on the team’s practice squad.

Johnson previously spent time with the Dolphins and Redskins. He first signed with the Patriots last May.

The Patriots also released safety Vinnie Sunseri from their practice squad.

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Cardinals have talked to Chandler Jones about a new contract

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Outside linebackers Chandler Jones #55 and Markus Golden #44 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrate after a tackle on the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cardinals defensive end Chandler Jones has played well this season, but when Arizona traded a second-round pick to acquire Jones this year, it hoped to get more than one good year from Jones. And that can only happen with a new contract.

Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim said after Sunday night’s game that he has talked to Jones’s agent about a new contract for Jones, who is in the final year of his rookie deal. Keim described the pass rush Jones provides as “something we have not had here in years,” and he hopes to keep that pass rushing presence in Arizona for years to come.

Keim didn’t say a deal is close, but the fact that the team and the player are talking is a sign that something may get worked out before March, when the Cardinals would need to either put the franchise tag on Jones or risk seeing him leave in free agency.

Jones has five sacks so far this season and had a sack and forced fumble in last night’s tie against the Seahawks. The Cardinals are going to need more big plays like that from Jones to get back into playoff contention, both this year and in future years.

Permalink 11 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Redskins ST coach Ben Kotwica gave Lions fans more than they bargained for Sunday

BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 24:  Urinals hang on a wall in a newly-inaugurated gender-free toilet at the office building of the city's Senate Administration for Work, Integration and Women (Senatsverwaltung fuer Arbeit, Integration und Frauen) on November 24, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. The administration has converted four of its previously separate men's and women's toilets to gender-free toilets in a sign of respect towards Berlin's trans-gender community, who otherwise often face potentially uncomfortable decisions or confrontations in the use of public toilets.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) Getty Images

When you gotta go, you gotta go and that presented a problem for Redskins special teams coach Ben Kotwica during Sunday’s game against the Lions.

Kotwica couldn’t really leave the field to answer nature’s call and no one wants a case of uromysitisis poisoning, so he followed the lead of many others over the years and found a spot on the sideline to take care of business. Unlike some of those others, Kotwica neglected to bring along another coach, player or team employee to act as a shield.

As a result, some Lions fans sitting close to the field got an eyeful as Kotwica relieved himself into a Gatorade cup — Is it in you? never seemed to be so fine a slogan –while standing next to a trash can on the sideline. A photo made its way to TMZ Sports along with a report that Kotwica was the second member of the staff to use that spot over the course of the game.

TMZ reached out to the team, which had no comment about something that happens frequently if not always in such plain sight of the paying customers.

Permalink 10 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Kaepernick doesn’t think anthem protests affect ratings

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 23:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on from the sidelines during their NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi's Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Commissioner Roger Goodell and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick likely don’t agree on much. But here’s one thing on which they occupy the same page: They believe the 2016 drop in TV ratings has nothing to do with the ongoing national anthem protests.

“I don’t know much about ratings and how they are affected and all of those things,” Kaepernick said after Sunday’s loss to the Buccaneers, via Andy Furillo of the Sacramento Bee. “But I don’t understand why ratings would go down, fighting for justice for people, to try to stop oppression, especially in a league that is predominantly black.”

Goodell was blunt and concise last week when asked about the potential connection by reporters: “That it’s not a factor. It’s not having any significant impact on our ratings.”

On one hand, it’s strange to think that anyone would deprive themselves of something they enjoy because of the actions of a small handful of all players. On the other hand, how does the league know for sure that it’s not a factor? Many have said it is; they all can’t simply be exaggerating and embellishing the connection in order to push an anti-protest agenda that isn’t affecting ratings.

Absent meaningful and effective research by the league aimed at identifying all reasons for the reduction in TV ratings, there’s no way to rule out the anthem protests. But the league surely has no interest in legitimizing the connection between the ongoing anthem protests and the declining ratings, because the league has no power to stop the protests.

Moreover, acknowledging that an exercise of player rights could impact TV ratings would be an admission that the players have much more power than they ever dreamed they’d possess.

Permalink 132 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Falcons making plans to deal with Tevin Coleman’s hamstring injury

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 23: Tevin Coleman #26 of the Atlanta Falcons runs for a second quarter touchdown against the San Diego Chargers at the Georgia Dome on October 23, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Falcons are discussing their options in the event running back Tevin Coleman has to miss time after injuring his hamstring in Sunday’s loss to the Chargers.

Coleman played 14 snaps before being forced out of the game and coach Dan Quinn said Monday that the team is still waiting to “find out how long he’ll be out.” Devonta Freeman is the only other running back currently on the roster, but the team has Terron Ward on the practice squad if they need to add a body.

“We’re discussing that big this afternoon,” Quinn said, via “Fortunately for us, Ward is here, and he’s somebody that’s got game experience in the system and somebody that we can totally rely on.”

Ward played in 13 games for the Falcons last season and ran 29 times for 95 yards. The Falcons would need to open up a spot to bring him onto the 53-man roster.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top