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Ed Reed says Flacco needs to get rid of the ball, line needs to block better

Divisional Playoffs - Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

Joe Flacco joked last week that he’d get no credit from the media if the Ravens beat the Texans.

He definitely is getting no credit from one of the team’s leaders on defense.

Safety Ed Reed visited with Adam Schein and Rich Gannon of SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday, and Reed pointed a finger at Flacco for the struggles of the offense.

“I think Joe was kind of rattled a little bit by that defense,” Reed said.  “They had a lot of guys in the box on him.  And, I mean, they were getting to him.  I think a couple times he needed to get rid of the ball.  I don’t know how much of the play calling, he could have made audibles or anything like that, checks or whatnot, man, but it just didn’t look like he had a hold on the offense, you know, of times past.  You know, it was just kind of like they was telling him to do, throw the ball or get it here, you know, get it to certain guys.  And he can’t play like that.

“You know, one particular play that sticks out to me is when Ray Rice came out of the backfield, he got pushed down and [Flacco] still threw him the ball and you got one-on-one with Torrey Smith on the outside.  But it’s hearsay for me.  I can say that sitting on the sidelines, you know, or sitting in the stands.  You just never know what somebody else is seeing.”

Reed also called out the line, a little.

“[T]he offensive line gotta block better,” Reed said.  “You know, they gotta communicate better, gotta pick up blocks, Joe’s gotta get the ball out of his hand.  We gotta do a good job of using our weapons.  I think Ricky Williams should have had the ball a little bit more yesterday.  You know, I mean, Ray Rice was running it, too, but you gotta be able to mix those guys in back and forth.  It’s a lot of things that we all need to correct going into New England because they do such a great job of making adjustments, you know, in-game adjustments.  It’s not just coming up with a scheme and playing the game.  You gotta be able to make adjustments while the game is in the flow.”

That’s not what the Ravens need as they get ready to face the Patriots.  Unless, of course, a little tough love coaxes the offense to perform up to the standard that the defense has set.

Either way, coach John Harbaugh may need to spend a little extra time this week getting his guys on the same page.

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Bears sign Dave Toub to two-year contract

Dave Toub AP

Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub isn’t leaving Chicago.

Toub has signed a two-year contract extension, the team announced today.

Well-respected around the league as one of the NFL’s top special-teams coaches, Toub was a candidate for the head-coaching vacancy in Miami. There was also talk that Toub, whose contract ran out at the end of the 2011 season, might take a job as an assistant elsewhere. But now he’s staying put.

The 49-year-old Toub has been the special teams coordinator in Chicago since 2004. Prior to that he spent three years on the Eagles’ staff.

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Colts continue housecleaning, fire Jim Caldwell

Jim Calswell AP

The Colts are making a clean break with the men that directed their 2-14 season.

The team announced Tuesday that Jim Caldwell has been “released” as head coach. Less than a week after officially replacing the Polian clan, new Colts G.M. Ryan Grigson ultimately chose a fresh start over continuity.

It was believed that Caldwell’s relationship with Peyton Manning could have saved him. The thinking was that the Colts wouldn’t want to entirely scrap the offense if Manning was going to return.

The problem with that theory:  No one knows if Manning is ever going to play football again. Even if Manning does play, we don’t know yet whether he’d accept being on the same team with presumptive No. 1 pick Andrew Luck.

It didn’t make sense to keep Caldwell without knowing Manning’s status. Perhaps the Colts already know what they will do with Manning, but it’s also possible they honestly don’t know if Manning will play again.  If the Colts really want to keep Manning, dropping Caldwell shouldn’t be a deal breaker.

In many ways, Manning is the Colts offensive system. If Manning does get healthy and remains on the roster, we’re sure the Colts can find a coach that can build around his talents.

Then again, perhaps Grigson will usher in an entirely new era of Colts football.  There definitely will be a new General Manager and a new head coach.

We’ll have to wait to find out whether there is a new quarterback.

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Payton: Gregg Williams made decision to leave

Saints AP

Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams chose to leave to join his friend Jeff Fisher in St. Louis before the Saints ever tried to keep him, coach Sean Payton confirmed Tuesday.

Then again, it doesn’t sound like the Saints were aggressive in wanting to keep Williams.

Asked if the Saints ever offered Williams a contract, Payton responded: “We’re really putting the cart ahead of the horse. We never really got to that spot.”

The Saints let Williams’ contract run out in part because they weren’t sure if they wanted to keep him. Williams probably knew Fisher would coach again this season and wanted to keep his options open.

The way this Saints season ended made it an easier decision for everyone. But we believe Payton indicated, albeit vaguely, that he spoke with Williams about the decision last week before the Saints even played.

Payton was quick to thank Williams and point out he was a “big reason” for the team’s success over the last three years.

Payton wouldn’t comment on the search for the next coordinator. They could hire internally or look to the outside, like with Steve Spagnuolo or Mike Nolan.

“The real, real talented coaches come in all age groups and they come from all over.”

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Jeff Fisher’s goal: Make the Rams significant again

Jeff Fisher AP

New Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said at his introductory press conference today that he has a plan to bring winning football back to St. Louis.

“It’s restoring this franchise to a place of significance,” Fisher said. “Significance — by that I mean it’s an opportunity to take another trip, as champions, to the White House.”

Fisher started his remarks by saying he chose the Rams because he believes in the direction owner Stan Kroenke and executive V.P. of football operations/COO Kevin Demoff are steering the franchise in. (He didn’t mention it, but a $7 million a year salary doesn’t hurt either.)

“My decision was very, very simple,” Fisher said. “It was based on the vision, the collective vision that is shared by Stan and Kevin, as far as the future of this franchise.”

Fisher briefly discussed his decision last year to leave the Titans and take a year away from coaching, and he said he believes that was the right decision. But now he said he’s ready to get back to it, and he singled out both Kroenke and quarterback Sam Bradford as the reasons he wants to coach the Rams.

“I had two factors,” Fisher said. “One was a good owner, the other was a quarterback. And I’m very excited about the opportunity.”

Asked why Bradford struggled so much in his second season after being the offensive rookie of the year in 2010, Fisher said he thought the problems in St. Louis in 2011 were largely outside Bradford’s control.

“This year was difficult — I think you have to look back at his success and his production in his first year — difficult for a lot of reasons, the lockout, and the lack of time in the offense,” Fisher said. “But I think he has a chance to be a top quarterback in the National Football League very, very soon.”

Fisher said he expects big things in St. Louis.

“It’s going to be a great ride,” Fisher said.

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PFT Live 01/17: Navorro Bowman, Trenni Kusnierek

Mike Florio talks to Packers reporter Trenni Kusnierek about the Packers’ one-and-done postseason,  their defensive struggles against the Giants, and the still lingering Brett Farve supporters. Mike also talks to 49ers middle linebacker Navorro Bowman about their divisional round win over the Saints, what contributed to the team’s turn around from last season, and their upcoming conference championship matchup against the Giants.


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Roughrider says he’s Indy bound

Argonauts' Lemon runs the ball past Roughriders' Freeman during their CFL football game in Toronto Reuters

The Colts ultimately didn’t dip into the CFL to hire a General Manager.  But their new G.M., Ryan Grigson, apparently gone north of the border for his first acquisition.

Via multiple reports, Saskatchewan Roughriders linebacker Jerrell Freeman has joined the Colts.

It’s not yet official.  Freeman has announced the move on his Twitter page, but neither the Colts nor the RoughRidgers have made it official.

Freeman was the team’s only all-star in 2011.

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The first Robert Griffin to Browns trade rumor emerges

Tom Heckert, Pat Shurmur, Mike Holmgren AP

The Browns need a quarterback badly. They own the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 draft.

Browns coach Pat Shurmur already made some positive comments about Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, so it was only a matter of time before a report emerged connecting the Browns to Griffin with something more tangible than speculation.

As part of’s ridiculously early mock draft party on Tuesday, Steve Wyche projects the Browns will trade up with the Rams for the No. 2 overall pick to take Griffin.

“Cleveland needs Griffin — and wants him, according to league sources,” Wyche writes.

He points out that the Browns have the most ammo of any team looking to move up, and the Rams would probably like to move down but stay in the top five.

This is all way too early, but it makes a lot of sense. It makes so much sense that we expect to hear some variation of this rumor on a regular basis until late April.

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Chargers cornerback makes waves with L.A. tweets

Malcom Floyd, Shareece Wright AP

Folks in San Diego remain fairly nervous, what with the Chargers unable to secure a new stadium and still struggling to sell all the tickets to the one they currently inhabit.

And so the locals understandably were upset with cornerback Shareece Wright when he took to Twitter to talk openly about a move to Los Angeles.

Matthew T. Hall of U-T San Diego chronicles the tweets and countertweets, which started with Wright making the following observation while watching the Lakers play on TV:  “Downtown LA looking nice. Wait till that football stadium gets built. #LosAngelesChargers.”

Wright, a third-round draft pick in 2011 who appeared in seven games as a rookie, attended USC, making his affinity for L.A. understandable.  But certain things are better left unsaid, especially on a high-profile platform like Twitter.

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PFT Live: NaVorro Bowman and Packers talk with Trenni Kusnierek

Tuesday’s PFT Live has an NFC slant.

We’ll talk about the 49ers defense with San Francisco’s great linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

Trenni Kusnierek of 620-AM in Green Bay also joins the show to dissect the end of the Packers season.

Watch the show live right here at noon ET.

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Bears won’t let Jon Hoke interview with Vikings


The Vikings wanted to interview Bears defensive backs coach Jon Hoke for their defensive coordinator vacancy, but the Bears said no.

The Bears declined the Vikings’ request on Monday, the Chicago Tribune reports.

It’s no surprise that the Bears wouldn’t let Hoke interview with a division rival while he still has a year left on his contract. Although Bears coach Lovie Smith has said he likes seeing coaches on his staff get the opportunity to advance in their professions, the Bears also refused to allow offensive line coach Mike Tice to interview to become the Titans’ offensive coordinator last year. The Bears later gave Tice a new contract, and now he’s been promoted to offensive coordinator in Chicago.

Last year Hoke interviewed for the Eagles’ defensive coordinator position, which ultimately (and controversially) went to Juan Castillo. But from the Bears’ perspective, that was a different situation because Hoke’s contract expired after the 2010 season. After being considered by the Eagles, Hoke eventually ended up signing a new two-year deal with the Bears at the same time that Tice got his new contract.

Before joining the Bears’ staff in 2009, Hoke was an assistant with the Texans from 2002 to 2008. Before that he spent 20 years as a college assistant. Hoke is the brother of Michigan head coach Brady Hoke.

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Giants-Packers sets ratings record

Divisional Playoffs - New York Giants v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

It’s almost a surprise at this point when NFL playoff games don’t set ratings records.

The NFL notes that an averaged of 45.1 million viewers watched Packers-Giants, which set the all-time record for viewers for a divisional round game. It beat last year’s Jets-Patriots game by 4%.

The 49ers-Saints (35.6 million viewers) and Broncos-Patriots on CBS (34.2 million) also broke records for divisional round games played on Saturday.

The 49ers-Saints rating shows how valuable a close game can be. It beat Tebow-Brady despite an inferior timeslot. To put the NFL’s dominance in perspective, Texans-Ravens topped the BCS title game by almost 30%.

The Super Bowl, of course, will crush all the numbers above. Patriots-49ers or Patriots-Giants could do an especially huge number.

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Report: Michael Floyd will not attend Senior Bowl

Navy v Notre Dame Getty Images draft guru Tony Pauline reported late Monday that Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd will not participate in next week’s Senior Bowl.

Along with Baylor’s Kendall Wright, Floyd is one of the top rated senior receivers for the 2012 NFL draft. The reasons for Floyd’s absence are unclear, but it appears Senior Bowl management was aware he wouldn’t attend all along.

The all-star game’s website lists nine wideouts on its 2012 roster, and none of them are Floyd.

Pauline indicates that Gerell Robinson of Arizona State will be Floyd’s Senior Bowl replacement. Robinson is coming off a career-best game, having racked up 13 receptions for 241 yards and a touchdown in the Sun Devils’ Las Vegas Bowl loss to Boise State.

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49ers could get big offensive addition Sunday

New York Giants v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

Tight end Delanie Walker was San Francisco’s leading receiver the first time the team faced the Giants.  Out since Week 16 with a broken jaw, it sounds like Walker may return for the NFC championship game.

Walker said on Twitter that he will return to the lineup. Coach Jim Harbaugh says the doctors haven’t determined Walker’s status quite yet.

While he’s not a household name, he’s a huge part of the 49ers offense. Walker is a physical marvel and lines up anywhere on the field. He’s a great blocker and his versatility makes their tight end offense tough to defend.

The Giants’ safeties and linebackers have struggled to cover tight ends this year, so Walker and Vernon Davis present plenty of issues. and makes their two tight end attack work. Davis scored a long touchdown on the Giants last time around.

The 49ers can use as many receiving weapons as possible. Braylon Edwards was a starter the last time these teams played, and he has since been cut. Ted Ginn isn’t at 100%.

Walker’s return would provide a nice boost for the 49ers offense.

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No serious damage to Ed Reed’s ankle

Divisional Playoffs - Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

Ed Reed entered the playoffs with a shoulder injury.

He appeared to hurt his back in the second quarter of Sunday’s game against the Texans, then had to be carried off the field by his teammates after hurting his ankle on Houston’s final Hail Mary play.

In between all that, Reed put together one of the signature performances of his amazing career. He will be able to attempt an encore Sunday in Foxborough.

“Ed looks like he’s all right with the ankle,” coach John Harbaugh said via the Baltimore Sun. “Everything’s come up OK as far as the X-rays.”

The Ravens should have everyone available for their matchup against the Patriots. New England is also as healthy as its been all season, especially on defense.

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Colts decision on Caldwell could be coming soon

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Getty Images

Last week, the Colts hired a new G.M. in Ryan Grigson.  But the team has not yet announced whether coach Jim Caldwell will be joining the Polians as a former employee of the team.

Much focus has been given to a Monday mailbag column from Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star, in which Chappell writes that he envisions that a decision will be coming soon.  It’s unclear, however, whether Chappell is actually reporting that as hard news.

“I expect something to be announced Tuesday, Wednesday at the latest,” Chappell writes.  “And I expect Caldwell to return.  I know that’s not what you or a lot of Colts fans want to hear.  Just a feeling I have.”

If Chappell’s “feeling” is that an announcement will be made Tuesday or Wednesday, it’s just that:  a feeling.  If his “feeling” is that Colts fans don’t want to hear that Caldwell will be back, then the expectation takes on greater weight.

Either way, if this were the Star moving an item that the coach isn’t getting fired, it would likely appear in something other than a space-filling Q& routine.

If Caldwell stays, the fans could revolt.  Phillip B. Wilson of the Star writes that rumors are pointing to Caldwell staying, and that paying customers are vowing to vote with their wallets if that happens.

Still, it won’t be a surprise if Caldwell sticks around.  Tony Dungy of Football Night In America explained prior to the Bengals-Texans wild-card game that owner Jim Irsay likely plans to keep Caldwell, to retain Peyton Manning if healthy, and to select Andrew Luck with the first pick in the draft.  Of the eight candidates for G.M. that Irsay screened and hired in little more than one week’s time, it would have been a major upset if the winner didn’t say to Irsay that which Irsay wanted to hear on those fairly important matters.

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Report: Luck makes agent choice

0405_casey-wasserman_485x340 Getty Images

After weeks of rumors and rumblings regarding Andrew Luck’s choice of representation at the NFL level, the player who likely will be the first overall pick in the 2012 draft has made a decision.

According to Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal, Luck will be represented by Wasserman Media Group, both in on-field and off-field matters.

As part of the deal, Luck’s uncle, Will Wilson, will join WMG.  Mullen previously had explained the possible link between Wilson and Luck.

Given the involvement of Casey Wasserman (pictured) in efforts to bring a team back to Los Angeles, the question now becomes whether WMG will try to steer Luck toward a team that may be moving to Los Angeles.  Though it will be easy (relatively speaking) for Luck to try to scare off the Colts from picking him, it will be much harder to ensure that Luck goes to a team on the short list to move.

Besides, Luck’s main priority will be (presumably) to play right away, in a situation where he’ll be more likely to succeed both in the short- and long-term.  If he ends up with a franchise that has to mortgage the future in order to move up to get a franchise quarterback, that may not be an ideal situation for Luck.

The broader question continues to be whether Luck and Peyton Manning will want to be teammates in Indianapolis.  Last year, Archie Manning expressed doubt (before backpedaling like a Pro Bowl cornerback) that the two quarterback have no desire to share a locker room.

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Fisher expected to get $35 million for five years, no extra title

J. Fisheryay AP

Jeff Fisher will officially be introduced as Rams coach Tuesday after finalizing the terms of a five-year contract.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports its “believed” Fisher will earn roughly $7 million-per-year to coach the Rams. So if he’s taking less money than he would have in Miami, it’s not much less.

Fisher is not expected to have any additional titles like “executive vice president.” He may wind up with final say on personnel matters, but Thomas says it won’t be a “my way or else” proposition.

Thomas writes that Fisher will at least be on equal footing with any personnel chief, but it’s safe to say the coach will have more power. He’ll likely have final say on the roster and be involved with the general manager search.

While Hue Jackson is talking with Fisher about the offensive coordinator gig, Thomas believes that former Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottheimer remains the favorite for that job. Dave McGinnis, Chuck Cecil, Tim Hauck, and Fisher’s son Brandon are mentioned as other staff possibilities.

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Antrel Rolle declares that Giants “can’t be beat”

New York Giants Antrel Rolle celebrates after they defeated the Green Bay Packers in their NFL NFC Divisional playoff football game in Green Bay Reuters

Like the other team that plays in New York, the Giants have a habit of talking big.  Unlike the other team that plays in New York, the Giants have a habit of backing it up.

But safety Antrel Rolle, who has done some talking this year that the team hasn’t backed up (Redskins fans know what we’re referring to), has taken it to a high level, essentially calling his shot for the NFC title game and the Super Bowl after it.

“We wouldn’t say we’re unstoppable, but our mindset is extreme at this point.  We’re not going to be denied. . . .  I might be a little biased, but in our minds, we can’t be beat,” Rolle said Monday, per Peter Botte of the New York Daily News.

“It don’t matter who we play,” Rolle said.  “You can put an All-Star team in front of us, and we’re going to go out there and compete.  We don’t fold.  No matter what happens, if there’s a bad call, or things aren’t going our way, we’re not going to break.”

Though the boastfulness can invite trouble for the Giants, there’s no replacement for confidence, regardless of its source.  And the Giants seem to have just as much confidence as they had in 2007, when some of them said they’d beat the unbeaten Patriots — and they did.

Really, the Giants seem like the best overall team remaining in the postseason field.  They have the defense to hold the opponent’s score in a range that their offense can overcome, whether the opponent is the 49ers, Ravens, or Patriots again.

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49ers coach thankful Saints showed their blitzes in preseason

Saints Camp Football AP

Back in August, there was a mini-controversy after the 49ers faced the Saints because New Orleans blitzed San Francisco in their first preseason game like it was the second round of the playoffs.

After Saturday’s divisional round win against New Orleans, the 49ers were thankful for the experience. They had seen it all before.

“Thankfully, they blitzed us in the preseason game and really gave us some good film to study,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman told Matt Maiocco of “We pretty much had the whole montage of blitzes.

“They’re really good at what they do and they came up with one or two that gave us problems during the game. Thankfully, most of them we saw in the preseason.”

That’s about as close as an NFL coach comes to trash talking. Those words will spice up the Rams-49ers rivalry next year with Gregg Williams now joining the NFC West in St. Louis.

Maiocco writes that the Saints blitzed 32 times in 46 pass plays against the 49ers Saturday. San Francisco settled down their protections by the end of the game.

As Saints safety Malcom Jenkins said, New Orleans lives by the blitz and dies by the blitz.

We think Roman was just tweaking Williams, but it seems the Saints died in small part because Williams and the Saints staff tried to prove a point back in August.

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