PFT Live: The Eagles have lost four-straight games and it is now clear that Michael Vick and Andy Reid are both on their way out of Philadelphia. Mike Florio discusses the change ahead. Plus, could the Saints or Bucs make a playoff run?This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Change awaits Eagles in offseason
The question of whether a current head coach will be fired comes with a far more important question.
Who will replace him?
Earlier this week, former Raiders quarterback and NFL MVP Rich Gannon made a suggestion that will capture the imagination of plenty of Raiders fans: Former Raiders coach Jon Gruden.
“I’ve had conversations with Jon in the past,” Gannon told 95.7 The Game in San Francisco on Tuesday. “I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibilities.”
Gannon was reluctant to go too far with the Gruden-to-Oakland talk, in large part because Gannon said he thinks current coach Dennis Allen should get a chance to finish what he started. Still, Gannon acknowledged that Gruden will indeed return to the NFL — eventually.
“I know that he still has the desire to get back and do it at some point,” Gannon said. “I don’t know when. I don’t know where. But I know this, that he had two bad experiences as a head coach with some owners that he just had a tough time with. And you know I think it’s pretty clear that he didn’t necessarily see eye to eye with Mr. Davis . . . . and I think he wants to go somewhere where he’s got an owner that’s not gonna, you know, try and pick the roster and try and call the plays, and just a guy that he can just come in and work for and hire a staff and get the thing turned around.”
That would seem to eliminate a team like the Cowboys, unless owner Jerry Jones has decided to get out of the way. (Yes, I was laughing while I typed that.) But it wouldn’t necessarily eliminate the Raiders, given that owner Mark Davis wouldn’t try to run the team because he admittedly knows nothing about running a team.
Gannon thinks that Gruden “certainly” would want final say over the personnel, which could makes things at a minimum awkward for G.M. Reggie McKenzie.
Still, at a time when the Raiders feel like a team that is languishing and non-competitive, the return of Jon Gruden — who remains beloved in the Bay Area — could invigorate the franchise.
The Patriots and Ravens don’t reside in the same division. But it feels that way.
They’ve met six times since 2009, three times in the postseason. On Sunday, the Patriots can take a major chunk out of Baltimore’s chances of making it to the postseason. And Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty looks forward to that.
“[T]here would be no better feeling than us beating them Sunday and . . . we eliminate their season right there,” McCourty tells Tom Curran of CSN New England. “For me and for a lot of my teammates there’d be no better feeling. So it’s gonna be key to come out and play well on Sunday.”
The only problem with that logic is that a Baltimore loss won’t eliminate the Ravens from playoff contention.
McCourty admitted that he hates the Ravens “[a] little bit,” and that his feelings are “close” to those he has for the Jets.”
The Patriots and Ravens have met in each of the last two AFC title games. The two teams feel destined to meet in the postseason again. Unless, of course, the Pats can deliver a near-fatal blow to the Ravens’ chances of getting there.
Much has been made of the Cowboys blowing a 26-3 lead against the Packers. But the Packers haven’t gotten much credit for erasing the 23-point deficit.
Receiver James Jones told Erik Kuselias of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN that the Packers were determined at intermission to come back and win the game.
“When we walked into the locker room at halftime, every single person that walked into that locker room was yelling and screaming, ‘Get it in your head, get it in your mind right now, we are going to win this game. We are going to come back and win this game.’ Nobody was in there moping, nobody came in there sad. ‘What are we going to do? We’re losing.’ Everybody was upbeat like, ‘Let’s just get our stuff together and come out and win the game.’ It rubbed off on everybody and we came out of halftime with a lot of energy and played Packer football. An unbelievable win for us.”
Fueling the win was a couple of catches from guys who typically don’t catch the football.
“Oh man, them two dudes,” Jones said. “I think they had my gloves on. Those are two great plays. . . . They’re DBs for a reason; they can’t really catch with their hands but those two dudes reached out there and caught the ball with their hands. Tramon Williams and Sam Shields both made great catches. Tough catches for receivers so it was unbelievable, and we needed it at that time to go down there and win the game.”
Only two more wins stand in the way of a fifth straight playoff appearance for the Packers. And quarterback Aaron Rodgers may be back on Sunday against the Steelers.
“He’s looked great at practice,” Jones said. He’s looked like Aaron . . . throwing the ball, slinging it, real confident. He’s looked good.”
But Jones clammed up when asked about the percentage of practice reps Rodgers took with the first-team offense.
“You’re going to have to ask [coach] Mike [McCarthy] that one,” Jones said. “I’m like [G.M.] Ted Thompson right now with my poker face on. I plead the Fifth on everything.”
On Friday, McCarthy will waive his right to remain silent when it comes to the identity of the starting quarterback. If it’s Rodgers, the Packers will have a better chance to make it back to the postseason.
Last Thursday, Chiefs receiver Dexter McCluster had a “minor procedure” to clean an infection out of his ankle. The infection wasn’t MRSA, but it was still potent enough to knock him out of Sunday’s game at Oakland.
As the Chiefs prepare to host the Colts, McCluster is moving toward a return. He practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday and Thursday.
“I had no idea what that was at first,” McCluster told reporters on Thursday regarding the infection. “My mom was calling me and asking me what it was, [and I said] we don’t know what it is. They went in there — and thank God that it wasn’t –- it was something that they could get in and get cleaned out and help me get back out there early.”
The infection arose from a routine wound.
“I just thought, ‘Wow, something that small,’ a cut that I get every day in this sport. It’s very serious, I took it very seriously,” McCluster said. “I wanted to make sure it didn’t move and it didn’t spread, that it didn’t infect my body as a whole. They did a great job going in and finding what it was and giving me the right things to take to move forward.”
He said the cut happened when he was scoring a touchdown on a punt return against the Redskins.
“[I]t was just a small cut, I took a shower, bandaged it up and kept it moving,” McCluster said. “Something must have crept in there underneath all of that.”
It sounds like the infection is fully healed, and that McCluster will be back on the field soon, getting more small, routine cuts that hopefully don’t get infected.
The Broncos will go at least another week without wide receiver Wes Welker.
Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reports that Welker will miss Sunday’s game at Houston. It will be the second consecutive game Welker has missed after suffering a concussion on December 8.
Denver’s offense missed Welker in last week’s loss to the Chargers, but the Broncos are wise to take it slowly with Welker’s recovery. The best course of action would seem to be to hold him out both this week and next, and hope to win both games without him. That would allow Welker to continue to recover through the wild card round of the playoffs, and he could then return for the divisional round on a month’s rest.
Welker, who has suffered two concussions this season, has 73 catches for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns.
If the Lions lose on Sunday afternoon and the Packers win on Sunday afternoon, the Bears’ Sunday night game against the Eagles would have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not Chicago goes to the playoffs. Instead, the Bears’ path to the playoffs would be all about Week 17: Beat the Packers, and they’re in. Lose to the Packers, and they’re out.
So would that lead Bears coach Marc Trestman to rest some of his top players on Sunday night in Philadelphia to have them fresh for Week 17 against Green Bay? Trestman said he hasn’t thought about that yet. But he might give it some thought at around 7 o’clock on Sunday night.
“Could that change? Certainly. But right now, we’re focused on winning a game and there’s nothing else to discuss at this time. And at 7 p.m. Eastern Time Sunday night, if the situation needs to be re-evaluated again, it’s open for discussion,” Trestman said, via CBS Chicago.
Trestman added, however, that all he’s thinking about right now is getting the Bears ready to face the Eagles. Trestman also noted that even if the game against the Eagles doesn’t mean anything for the NFC North title, it could still be important to the Bears’ playoff seeding. If the playoffs started today the Bears would be the No. 4 seed and the Eagles would be the No. 3 seed, but if the Bears win out they’ll move ahead of the Eagles and would be the No. 3 seed.
“We’re 8-6 and we need to continue to progress and win, I think that’s No. 1,” Trestman said. “No. 2 is, winning does take us a to a different place in terms of potential seeding, which is critically important, so just leaving it at that is enough to reason out how we would want to play the game.”
So while it’s at least worth considering whether the Bears could rest their starters against the Eagles, Trestman is right not to give it much thought. Just as Eagles coach Chip Kelly says he won’t rest his starters if a Cowboys win on Sunday afternoon makes the Eagles-Cowboys Week 17 game the de facto NFC East championship game, Trestman shouldn’t rest his starters either. Both the Bears and the Eagles should treat Sunday night like a big game.
The regular season is winding down for most players, but it never really got going for Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey.
Bailey has played just three games this season because of a foot injury, returning twice only to aggravate the injury and return to the bench. Bailey said Thursday that he feels “physically, mentally, emotionally” ready to see if the third time’s the charm.
“I feel good about what I can do,” Bailey said, via the team’s website. “I think now it’s just being smart about how I go about doing it and making sure I don’t have any setbacks and I don’t wear myself down or anything like that. The good thing is I’m fresh, I’m ready to go. I’ve had some time off and I’m ready to go.”
Bailey said the lack of action this season has left most of his body feeling much fresher than it would normally feel at this point in the season, although that comes with the rather large caveat that none of that matters if he can’t get around on his foot. It sounds like Bailey will get some time in the next two weeks to see if the foot is sound and if he can help Denver’s frequently leaky defense tighten things up in the postseason.
Jim Harbaugh isn’t the only one firing back at the forked-tongue set.
Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan talked to reporters Thursday, effectively denying everything that’s been written about him lately, from the fact he didn’t want to work with his dad, to having too many of his buddies around to not having a relationship with Robert Griffin III.
(You’d think having a forked tongue would make you talk more slowly, but apparently not.)
“I was definitely bothered by it,” Shanahan said, via John Keim of ESPN.com. “I never had somebody attack me personally so it definitely bothered me.”
He said the two coaches he brought with him from Houston (quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur and receivers coach Mike McDaniel) were there on their merits.
He also ripped people who ripped his play-calling, falling back on the old “never-played-the-game” standby that coaches love because no one possibly knows as much as they do about something as complicated as football.
“Not many people are educated enough to know what we’re doing, [but] I get that it’s part of the territory,” Shanahan said. “It’s bad play calling. It’s OK, I can look at it that way, too. When people attack stuff personally and say stuff about people who are good people who have earned their jobs and worked their tail off and people who are, . . . bitter, . . . I have zero respect for those people.”
He also said the notion he didn’t want to work with his father was 100 percent untrue, and while he was at it, he loved coaching Griffin.
“It sounds like there’s a report about everything now,” he said. “It’s pretty boring to talk about our three wins. So there’s a lot of stuff out there. Some things, there are partial truths to, but when it comes to working with Robert, no one works with Robert but myself and the QB coach and we love working with Robert. He’s great to coach.”
And if you don’t believe it, we’ll ask Judge Judy.
The Packers won’t tell us who their quarterback for this week is until Friday, so we’ll spend some of that time talking to one of their wide receivers.
James Jones will be a guest on Pro Football Talk on NBCSN on Thursday and he’ll tell us about the mood around Packers camp this week as they try to win their final two games and take home a division title. He’ll also share his thoughts on last week’s comeback win in Dallas and his impressions of what he’s seen from Aaron Rodgers in practice during his visit.
The Packers face the Steelers this weekend, one of the matchups that will be up for discussion when attention turns to the biggest storylines for Week 16. When we’re done, you’ll know everything you need to know heading into another busy Sunday.
It all gets started at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Late last month, a visit by the playoff-contending Bengals to San Diego wasn’t enough to allow a local TV broadcast of the game. With 5,300 tickets unsold, it became the first and only blackout of the season.
With the Chargers even closer to elimination and the Raiders already there, a mere 1,300 non-premium tickets are unsold for Sunday’s game.
The Chargers have secured a 24-hour extension of the deadline for selling the remaining tickets. Which likely means that the Chargers have secured a commitment to purchase any leftovers at 34 cents on the dollar.
Which makes the sense of urgency created by the extension even less realistic than, well, you know.
Black Monday approaches. It’s the inevitable day on which multiple owners fire multiple coaches, all in the hopes of turning a bad team into a good team.
The ability of Andy Reid to transform the Chiefs from a bad team into a good team in only one season won’t make owners any more patient this year.
And so with Week 17 approaching and the flames of a firing flashing at the fannies of more than a few coaches, it’s odd that only one owner has provided the dreaded vote of confidence. Beyond Cowboys owner/G.M. Jerry Jones, no other owner has said his head coach will return in 2014.
Of course, the dreaded vote of confidence is called the dreaded vote of confidence for a reason. But for several coaches the lingering silence is becoming deafening.
For coaches with one year left on their contracts after the current season, there’s an easy way to make a convincing dreaded vote of confidence. Give the current coach an extension.
Instead, all other owners of all other coaches who are believed to be on the hot seat have fallen silent. For teams whose playoff fates already have been decided (e.g., the Jets, Giants, Vikings, and Raiders), that could be a very bad sign.
We’ll know a lot more on Monday, December 30. If not earlier. Until then, we can merely speculate about who’s on the hot seat. For this week’s organized speculation from PFT Live, click the little box thing below.
The Bengals may be without a key member of their offensive line when they host the Vikings this weekend.
Andrew Whitworth, who recently made the move from left tackle to left guard, suffered a concussion in practice on Wednesday and did not practice on Thursday. There’s not much time for him to progress through the concussion protocol before Sunday’s game, which would force the Bengals to shuffle the line again.
Whitworth slid over one spot after Clint Boling was injured for the season with Anthony Collins taking over at left tackle. If Whitworth is out, Kevin Zeitler will likely return to the starting lineup with Mike Pollak at the other guard spot.
Whitworth is just the latest addition to a lengthy injury report for the AFC North leaders. Linebacker James Harrison and defensive end Carlos Dunlap also missed practice on Thursday because of concussions while cornerback Terence Newman remains out with the knee injury that kept him out of last week’s win.
The Bengals can clinch both a playoff spot and the division title if they win and both Miami and Baltimore lose this weekend, but it looks like they’re going to have to do it without all hands on deck.
Jim Harbaugh leaned back on a pair of his classic references, when asked Thursday about reports linking his name with the University of Texas.
After saying he “absolutely” wanted to remain with the 49ers long-term, he decided to chide reporters who traffic in something other-than-named sources.
“In Judge Judy’s court, hearsay is not admissible evidence,” Harbaugh said, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “I think we can all agree that an unnamed source is hearsay.
“I see unnamed sources related to many of these topics. And it’s my point that an unnamed source is hearsay. And in the court of public opinion, why would you give any of that credibility? . . .
“Beware of unnamed sources. They speak with forked tongue.”
(Just ask Mike Shanahan, who never speaks off the record with reporters.)
Harbaugh’s apparently too busy coaching up the 49ers to come up with new material, as it was derivative of the “diabolical,” diatribe about the Peyton Manning reports, and his combine paean to Judge Judy.
The draft has been abolished for quite a while now, but the Buccaneers may still lose a member of their organization to the military.
Kevin Gleason of the Hudson Valley Times Herald-Record reports that offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan will interview for the head coaching vacancy at Army, which fired coach Rich Ellerson after losing to Navy last weekend. Sullivan will reportedly interview for the job on Friday, although there’s no indication of where the interview will take place with the Bucs heading to St. Louis this weekend.
Sullivan is a graduate of West Point, where he played defensive back. Sullivan later spent two stints as an assistant coach at the school, so he’s certainly well versed in the program. Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com reported Wednesday that Sullivan declined to comment on interest in the job.
The Bucs rank last in the league in yards per game and 28th in points per game as they have struggled to find any offensive consistency with either Josh Freeman or Mike Glennon at quarterback. It hasn’t helped that wide receiver Mike Williams, guard Carl Nicks and running back Doug Martin have missed most of the season with injuries, but the list of Sullivan’s selling points at the school probably shouldn’t start with the 2013 results if he wants to land the job at his alma mater.
Panthers wide receiver was held out of practice Thursday, with an all-too-appropriate dislocated middle finger.
Asked about his status, Smith looked back and reporters and said: “I think I’m out. I’m out for Sunday.”
He was kidding, per Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, as there’s not much that would keep him out of Sunday’s game with the Saints for the NFC South lead.
His absence came the day after a Cam Newton pass hit the tip of his left middle finger and dislocated it.
“I don’t know exactly what the situation is. I’m just trying to make it through, . . . 24 hours after,” Smith said. “Take one out of Bill Belichick’s [book], I’m day-to-day.”
Smith was out of practice Thursday, a day after a tipped Cam Newton pass hit the tip of the middle finger on Smith’s left hand and dislocated the finger. The injury occurred near the end of Wednesday’s practice.
“They just popped it back in and had it bandaged up today, so he should be fine. They wanted to let it calm down. They didn’t want to irritate it any more than it needed to be,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “I expect him to come out (Friday) run around, catch the ball and be ready to roll.”
Smith’s no longer the downfield threat he used to be, but he’s still the guy Newton looks for at crucial times, and he’s still more than capable of making plays even if he was nine-fingered.