Bulaga’s injury broke a streak of eight games without a Packers lineman missing a snap, now they’ll have to shuffle, perhaps moving left guard T.J. Lang to right tackle.
Packers place Bryan Bulaga on injured reserve
The Saints recently interviewed Jason Tarver for their vacant linebackers coach position, ESPN’s Adam Caplan reported Tuesday.
Tarver’s title last season was senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach with the 49ers. He was the Raiders’ defensive coordinator from 2012-14.
He coached on both sides of the ball for the 49ers from 2001-10 before taking a job at Stanford University.
Tarver interviewed last week for the defensive coordinator job in Washington. That job eventually went to Greg Manusky.
More than three weeks after explaining his goals for the franchise that needs both a new coach and a new General Manager, 49ers CEO Jed York has address the situation again, at a time when the team still doesn’t have a coach or a G.M.
Via Cam Inman of BayAreaNewsGroup.com, York spoke at a San Jose event on Tuesday. He said all that he could, given that it’s widely believed that a wink-nod agreement exists with a new coach, who will soon be directly involved in picking his G.M. under the guise of a second interview for the job he already has.
“The message is we’re going to re-establish a championship culture,” York said, via Inman. “We’re not going to do that by filling a job quickly. We need to be patient. We need to be willing to wait.
“And when we get the right people, we’ll start putting everything into place.”
After the Super Bowl, they’ll have the right person to coach the team or, more accurately, the one leading candidate who hadn’t backed out of the job and then leveraged his role as the stand-alone cheese into plenty of cash and other considerations from the club.
While not legally binding and technically prohibited by league rules, the job belongs to Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. In Atlanta on Saturday, Shanahan will meet with Vikings executive George Paton and Cardinals executive Terry McDonough to determine, as a practical matter, which guy will serve as the optimal table-setter for Shanahan. It remains possible that others will get involved (former Bucs G.M. Mark Dominik has been mentioned), now that it’s clear that Shanahan has the job — and that Shanahan will be running show.
Full control over the roster is believed to have been promised to Shanahan. The manner in which the documents are drawn up could deviate from that, however, if Paton, McDonough, or whoever gets the G.M. job needs to have final say in writing in order to leave their current teams. (Dominik wouldn’t need it, because he’s not currently working for a team.)
A similar situation unfolded eight years ago in Cleveland, where coach Eric Mangini unofficially had control and G.M. George Kokinis had contractual control, in order to justify his exit from Baltimore. The friends (former) repeatedly butted heads over personnel decisions, culminating in Kokinis being escorted from the building during their first season together.
The 49ers need to have this one figured out before either Shanahan or the new G.M. enter the building in Santa Clara. Otherwise, it could be Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke all over again.
The NFL’s investigation into domestic violence charges against Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott remains open, but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters at the Senior Bowl Tuesday that he has believed since last summer that Elliott will be exonerated.
“I’m just aware of all the circumstances here,” Jones said, per the Dallas Morning News. “I would want our fans to know that I’m very aware of all the facts and the details and been aware of it since training camp and not one thing has come up or surfaced that in any way gives me any concern, that I actually [in] my mind put to bed at training camp.”
Jones initially went the no-comment route when he was asked about the investigation, but as we know with Jones there are various levels of “no comment,” most of which involve some comments.
Jones said Tuesday that he is “well aware of all of the circumstances involved there” and has “felt good about it since training camp. I’ve seen nothing that in any way would make me think any differently than we felt shortly after it became a point. I don’t want to get into how this comes out one way or the other.”
After the Cowboys’ season ended last week, Elliott told reporters he wanted “closure” and said there was nothing investigators would find if they continued to pursue the investigation. Elliott’s attorney made similar comments last October.
Amid a somewhat bizarre, wholly impractical, and largely incredible report from ESPN.com that “a ton of owners” (literally, 2,000 pounds worth of them) are upset about the relocation of the Chargers, owner Dean Spanos put the chatter to rest on Tuesday.
Asked about the possibility that the team would return to San Diego, Spanos was unequivocal.
“That’s not even a consideration,” Spanos told Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News. “There’s no looking back. We’re moving forward.”
Spanos accurately pointed out that the NFL crossed this bridge more than a year ago. “The vote was 30-2, by the way,” he said.
That vote allowed the Rams to move from St. Louis to L.A., and it gave the Chargers a one-year window to do the same, joining the Rams in a state-of-the-art stadium that blew away the room in comparison to the project jointly proposed for Carson by the Raiders and Chargers.
The only plausible explanation for the ESPN.com report is that someone in the league office wants to be able to say “I told you so,” if/when the Chargers fail in L.A. Regardless, the owners had a chance to keep it from happening, and roughly only 400 pounds wanted to.
The 49ers have an answer to those “traffic problems” that suppressed attendance at home games in 2016.
Via Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com, the 49ers have announced the season-ticket prices will remain constant for two straight seasons, 2017 and 2018.
“49ers season ticket pricing will be frozen through the 2018 season,” the team said in a letter to their season-ticket holders. “Invoices for your 2017 season tickets will be made available to view and pay online in the coming weeks.”
The 49ers have yet to increase season tickets since opening the venue in 2014.
Of course, the cost of season tickets doesn’t matter in many cases; the obligation to pay the price attaches automatically to those who purchased Personal Seat Licenses, which ranged from $2,000 to $80,000 each.
During a Thursday night game in October against the Cardinals, Jim Nantz of CBS notoriously attributed images of a sparse crowd at Levi’s Stadium to “traffic problems” in Santa Clara. Those “traffic problems” persisted throughout a lost season; somehow, however, fans of visiting teams like the Patriots were able to properly and successfully navigate the streets and highways to ensure timely arrival to the games.
Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence was limited to nine games this season due to a suspension at the start of the year and a back injury in the final weeks of the regular season, which helps explain why he went from eight sacks in 2015 to one sack in 2016.
Lawrence will address the back problem by having surgery this offseason. It’s the second straight year that Lawrence will have offseason back surgery.
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones relayed that information from the Senior Bowl and added that defensive tackle Cedric Thornton is recovering from shoulder surgery.
“I’m not comfortable talking about people’s medical conditions until we release it,” Jones said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “So just don’t get into [the details of] all of that. … We’re not worried about any of them, let’s put it that way.”
Even with a healthy return from Lawrence and Thornton, defense figures to be the major focus for the Cowboys this offseason as they try to find players who can give them the same boost that running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott gave to the offense.
With Sean McVay heading to the Rams as their new head coach, the Redskins have promoted Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator for the 2017 season.
It doesn’t look like Cavanaugh will be taking over the play calling duties, however. Speaking from the Senior Bowl on Tuesday, head coach Jay Gruden said that he was “excited” to take on that responsibility this season. He also shared his feelings about who will be relaying those plays to the rest of the offense.
Kirk Cousins played out the 2016 season on the franchise tag, leaving the Redskins with a decision to make about franchising him again, working out a long-term deal in the next few weeks or letting him the open market. Gruden didn’t say which of the first two options was likelier, but did say he expects Cousins to be running the plays.
“I totally anticipate him coming back to the Washington Redskins,” Gruden said, via CSNMidAtlantic.com.
Some have wondered if Kyle Shanahan might take a run at bringing Cousins to the 49ers, which could happen via trade or by signing him away at the cost of two first-round picks if Washington franchises Cousins again this offseason. Of course, Shanahan hasn’t been hired by the 49ers at this point and that’s just one of many things still to play out before we’ll know for certain what uniform Cousins is wearing next season.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told reporters Tuesday that the groin injury that knocked star running back Le’Veon Bell out of the AFC Championship went from something minor to something that left one of the NFL’s best players unable to continue.
“[Bell] was doing a great job of managing it,” Tomlin said. “It didn’t cause him to miss any practice time, let alone game time. It was something to manage. When you look at the journey that is the season, I think just about every guy down there is dealing with and managing something in an effort to stay on the grass.”
Bell said when he had a flare-up Sunday he had “no burst” and though he wanted to stay in the game, he felt he would be holding the team back if he did. He finished with 20 yards on five carries after setting franchise playoff rushing records in the team’s first two postseason games.
The NFL might have some questions for the Steelers because Bell said he’d been playing through an issue but was not showing up on the team’s official injury reports. Tomlin insisted that it had not been something the Steelers worried about until Sunday.
“I was aware of it,” Tomlin said. “It wasn’t significant to the point where it affected planning or the anticipation of planning in any way. It’s unfortunate that it became an issue in game.”
Nine days in to the offseason, the biggest question for the Dallas Cowboys continues to be the future of quarterback Tony Romo. On Tuesday, the team’s ordinarily loquacious owner made it clear that he and the rest of the franchise are done talking about the issue in public.
“I’m not going to get into that at all — whether we’ve talked or not,” Jerry Jones said at the Senior Bowl, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “We’re at a juncture now that, we need to just cool it in our public conversations about what we’re going to be doing or not doing there with Tony.”
Jones is wise to not talk about it, because the more he does the more sensible it will become to simply release Romo’s rights without trying to trade him. That’s what Romo surely will want, and that could be what Jones ultimately does — reluctantly.
Cowboys executive Stephen Jones made it clear last week that Jerry and Tony will work out the situation between them, and it remains distinctly possible that Jones and Romo will agree: (1) that the player will be released; and (2) that Romo will give his word to avoid certain teams, like Washington or other Dallas rivals. It would be unenforceable and, technically, impermissible.
Still, it would be something that Romo could either honor and preserve a relationship that will likely generate plenty of revenue for him after he retires or disregard and lose his standing with Jones.
The Patriots surely have gone to work on a defensive game plan aimed at neutralizing the Atlanta passing attack and, specifically, receiver Julio Jones. There’s a chance that, no matter how New England configures the X’s, the O named Julio will still find a way to catch passes, gain yards, and potentially score touchdowns.
On Tuesday, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia didn’t say that specifically when praising Jones, but the point came through Patricia’s remarks, loud and clear.
“[W]e saw him a couple of years ago and studied him,” Patricia told reporters. “He’s probably just one of the most dynamic players in the league. I usually don’t wind up comparing him to other people; I wind up comparing other people to him just because of his skill set and his ability.”
Specifically, the Patriots saw the Falcons in September 2013, for a game in Atlanta. Jones caught six passes for 108 yards; the Patriots, however, won the game, 30-23. Of course, that was before the Falcons underwent an offensive explosion with Kyle Shanahan drawing up the attack.
“The things that he does for them and what he can do is he does a great job of moving around into different positions,” Patricia said. “Coach Shanahan puts him in different spots. He’ll try to get him working different positions to get a matchup that he likes, or a particular formation that gives the defense problems, and then they’ll really use him in a variety of ways. He can run underneath routes, he has great speed, he has great hands, he has great body control, and he’s very, very strong. A bigger corner, smaller corner, whatever it is, he can push on the [defensive backs], lean and be able to play physical at the line of scrimmage, plus physical downfield with them, and still come up with the ball. He does a great job of tracking the ball in the air, can go up and high point it and get it.”
In other words, Julio Jones can be “covered,” and he can still make the catch.
“He’s got great hands and like I said, does a great job after the catch,” Patricia said. “Just his ability to get the ball, get vertical into the defense towards the end zone, stiff-arm a defender, break a tackle, run away from guys, it’s just he’s such a dynamic player in that aspect that he can give you a lot of problems. He’ll go vertical, he’ll run the intermediate routes, he’s very good at the top of the route, he does an unbelievable job of stemming and using his skill set to get separation at the top of the route in both man-to-man, and he does a great job of seeing zone coverage and sitting down. He and Matt Ryan have great chemistry where the route might be changed [because of] something that was called but because of the coverage, they’ve adjusted it and he’s been able to work himself into open space and then Ryan will get him the ball. He’s a great player.”
Yes he is, and it’s going to be a challenge unlike any the Patriots have encountered in a Super Bowl since they somehow outscored the Greatest Show on Turf in early 2002.
The Eagles made a big move ahead of the draft last year when they swung a deal with the Browns for the second overall pick in order to select quarterback Carson Wentz.
That move didn’t sit well with then-quarterback Sam Bradford, whose agent Tom Condon said after the deal that “it would have been nice” if the Eagles let Bradford know what was going on. Bradford demanded a trade and rescinded it before ultimately being dealt to the Vikings.
The circumstances are quite different this offseason, but the Eagles plan to consult with their current quarterback about this offseason’s moves. Vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said on WIP that he wants to hear Wentz’s voice as they move toward his second season, particularly when it comes to players who might be catching his passes.
“The way the league rules are, you’d love to be able to bring him down and throw to these guys,” Roseman said. “That would be unbelievable. It just doesn’t work that way. But from our perspective, we want to make sure that he’s on board with some of these things, and he’s looking at some … probably more in free agency than in the draft, because it’s hard for him to get caught up on the draft prospects.”
Roseman has already made it clear that the Eagles are building around Wentz, so it makes some sense to make sure the players being acquired are a good fit on his end. Given how little help he got from his receivers in 2016, Wentz may even upgrade the evaluation process.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney says there’s no doubt that his star quarterback should be the first overall pick in the draft.
In fact, Swinney says that if the Browns don’t use the No. 1 pick on Deshaun Watson, they’re making a historic mistake that will haunt the franchise for years.
“He’s humble, the same guy every day, and always ready,” Swinney said of Watson. “He comes to every meeting prepared. That’s how you change things, you change the culture, through — for me it’s through discipline and recruiting, staffing and all that stuff. For them, it’s decision-making, it’s who you pick. And I’m just telling you: They pass on Deshaun Watson, they’re passing on Michael Jordan. I mean, I don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, I’m just an old funky college coach, but Deshaun Watson is the best, by a long shot.”
Two teams did pass on Michael Jordan in the 1984 NBA draft: The Houston Rockets took Akeem Olajuwon first overall, and he became a Hall of Famer who led the Rockets to NBA titles in the two years when Jordan left the Chicago Bulls. But the Portland Trail Blazers selected Sam Bowie second overall before the Bulls took Jordan third, and the Bowie selection is often remembered as one of the worst picks in draft history.
If the Browns choose Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett, the odds-on favorite to be the first overall pick, they’ll be hoping he’s more an Olajuwon than a Bowie. But Swinney says they should just take Watson, and get football’s Michael Jordan.
Eric DeCosta has been the right-hand man to Ravens G.M. Ozzie Newsome for two decades, and for most of that time other teams have viewed DeCosta as a strong candidate to become a G.M. himself. Unfortunately for those other teams, DeCosta has consistently declined opportunities to leave Baltimore.
The Colts hope to change that: Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com reports that the Colts have requested permission to interview DeCosta for their G.M. opening.
Would DeCosta have any interest in working for the Colts when he has shown little interest in leaving Baltimore for other teams? He might, for a couple reasons.
For one, he has a good relationship with Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, who was a Ravens assistant for four years before he went to Indianapolis. For another, the Colts have Andrew Luck, which would mean the hardest part of a G.M.’s job — finding a franchise quarterback — is already done in Indianapolis.
Still, getting DeCosta to Indianapolis seems like a long shot. DeCosta has indicated many times that he’s happy where he is, and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti has indicated that DeCosta will get the top job in the Baltimore front office when Ozzie Newsome retires. Getting DeCosta to change course and move on to the Colts would be a big coup for Jim Irsay.
Shortly before the Rams fired Jeff Fisher as their head coach, running back Todd Gurley shared his feeling that the team was running a middle school offense and that some players on the team were just going through the motions as a losing season ran its course.
While Gurley’s comments about the offense would seem to be directed at the people in charge of installing it and calling the plays, he said on The Rich Eisen Show Tuesday that his frustration was with the players. There were “too many mental errors from everybody, including myself.”
It’s not anything that Gurley wants to experience again.
“Like a nightmare. I still can’t believe the season,” Gurley said. “It was definitely a tough year, a learning experience for me. To be 4-12 this year? I don’t want to feel that feeling again.”
The Rams have a new coach in Sean McVay and one of the first things he can do to help chart a winning course is find a way to get Gurley back to the kind of effectiveness he had as a rookie. Gurley ran for 1,106 yards while averaging 4.8 yards per carry in 2015, but dropped to 3.2 yards per attempt in 2016 while never hitting 100 yards in a game, leaving plenty of room for improvement for a player expected to be a building block of better Rams offenses.
After a week filled with plenty of discussion about his decision to post video from the team’s locker room on social media, wide receiver Antonio Brown had a quiet game in the Steelers’ season-ending loss to the Patriots.
The aftermath of that game hasn’t been without some drama where Brown is concerned, however. Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Media reported that the Steelers are concerned that Brown puts too much focus on his personal statistics and not enough on what’s best for the team. The report went on to say Brown was pouting after a DeAngelo Williams touchdown against the Patriots and that coach Mike Tomlin spoke to Brown about the issue in 2015.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Tomlin said that he didn’t see Brown pouting during the game and was asked more generally about where things stood with Brown heading into the offseason.
“We all need to get better in all areas,” Tomlin said. “I am going to continue to challenge him in the way I have challenged him over the course of his career to continue to find new ways to be an impact player for us. To continue to grow within the role that is his role on this team. He is a dynamic player. There are responsibilities that come with being a dynamic player, I am going to ask him to continue to grow in those areas.”
Tomlin said those things were important for all players, but they seem particularly big for Brown as he enters the final year of his current contract. When discussing the locker room video, Tomlin said incidents like that are “often why you see great players move from team to team.”
With Ben Roethlisberger talking about the possibility of not playing next season and issues involving Brown front and center, there will be plenty of attention on how things play out in Pittsburgh over the coming months.