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Who’s to blame for the Packers’ collapse?

Mike Florio talks with Packers’ reporter Trenni Kusnierek about why the Packers what went wrong against the New York Giants, including a defense that finally made more mistakes than the offense could cover up.

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Talking 49ers with linebacker NaVorro Bowman

Mike Florio talks to 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman about whether he and Patrick Willis are the best linebacker tandem in the NFL, what contributed to the turn around from last season, and how much the 49ers were motivated by their underdog status against the Saints at home.

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Dre Kirkpatrick arrested for marijuana possession

drekirkpatrick

Former Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who is widely viewed as a first-round prospect in this year’s NFL draft, has been arrested for possession of marijuana.

The web site for the Sheriff’s Office in Manatee County, Florida, lists Kirkpatrick as having been arrested at 12:48 a.m. today for possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis. He was released after posting $120 bond.

Kirkpatrick, who announced last week that he is leaving Alabama for the NFL, is considered one of the top defensive players in the class of 2012. The eight mock drafts posted at NFL.com all have Kirkpatrick going in the Top 10.

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Before firing Caldwell, Colts interviewed Spagnuolo

Steve Spagnuolo AP

Here’s a weird twist on the news today that the Colts have fired head coach Jim Caldwell: Before the firing, the Colts were beginning the process of assembling a coaching staff for 2012 — and Caldwell was involved in that process.

Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reports that former Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo interviewed for the Colts defensive coordinator position, and Caldwell was one of the people Spagnuolo interviewed with, along with other team officials.

It’s surprising that the Colts would have Caldwell involved in interviewing assistant coaching candidates one day and then fire him the next. Typically teams get the head coach in place first before they start interviewing assistants.

But the Colts have done a lot of surprising things this offseason. It’s probably safe to say there will be some more surprises coming out of Indianapolis in the coming months.

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Falcons hire Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator

Mike Nolan AP

The Atlanta Falcons have their new defensive coordinator.

Mike Nolan was hired by the Falcons today, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reports.

Nolan spent the last two years as the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator, and one year before that as the Broncos’ defensive coordinator. Prior to that he spent four years as the head coach of the 49ers.

Falcons head coach Mike Smith was on the same coaching staff as Nolan with the Ravens in 2001 and 2002.

Brian VanGorder, who was the Falcons’ defensive coordinator last year, left to become the defensive coordinator at Auburn.

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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 NFL.com’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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