Should coaches pull their star players when they have big leads? Mike Florio answers questions from the SNF Facebook page specifically regarding Bill Belichick’s recent coaching decisions.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Should coaches pull stars in blowouts?
The Saints played without left tackle Terron Armstead in their blowout loss to the Eagles last Sunday, but they may get him back in the mix for Thursday’s game against the Falcons.
Armstead returned to practice as a limited participant on Tuesday after missing the Eagles game with a knee injury. First-round pick Andrus Peat made his first NFL start in Armstead’s place and was part of a line that gave up five sacks to the Eagles as the Saints dropped to 1-4 on the season.
Right guard Jahri Evans also missed that game while recovering from a knee scope. It was the third straight game that New Orleans played without Evans, but he was a full participant on Tuesday and said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune, that he plans to be in the lineup against Atlanta.
Not all the news on the offensive line is positive for the Saints. Left guard Tim Lelito has been out of both practices this week because of a shoulder injury.
For the NFL, putting pink on players’ uniforms is part of outreach to women during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams, it’s more personal than that.
Williams lost his mother to breast cancer, and he says he contacted NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent to seek permission to keep wearing pink on his uniform after October ends. But Vincent said pink is only to be worn in October, and there are no exceptions.
“He told me no. I’m assuming they are telling everybody else no as well,” Williams told ESPN.
Williams, who wears his hair long enough that it hangs out from his helmet, says he has researched the NFL’s rules and can find no rules about hair color. So he plans to keep the pink he’s been wearing in his hair.
“The hair, it’s part of the uniform from the standpoint of being tackled, but it’s not specific on what color it has to be or if it has to match the uniform,” he said.
Williams isn’t only supporting breast cancer awareness with his hair. He’s also supporting breast cancer awareness with his money: Williams made a donation to fund mammograms for 53 women, in memory of his mother, who died at the age of 53.
The Chiefs had some veteran running backs in for workouts to start the week, but the new member of the backfield comes from within the organization.
The Chiefs announced Tuesday that they have elevated Spencer Ware from the practice squad to take Jamaal Charles’s roster spot. Charles has been placed on season-ending injured reserve after tearing his ACL during last Sunday’s loss to the Bears.
Ware was a sixth-round pick by the Seahawks in 2013 and played two games with Seattle during his rookie season. He had three carries for 10 yards in those appearances and ran 18 times for 66 yards and a touchdown with the Chiefs in the preseason. He’ll join Charcandrick West, Knile Davis and De’Anthony Thomas as backfield options with Charles out of the picture in Kansas City.
After losing to the Patriots last Sunday, the Cowboys said that they’d consider making a change at starting quarterback.
Ed Werder of ESPN reports that the Cowboys will indeed be making a change. Werder reports that Brandon Weeden has been informed that the team plans to start Matt Cassel against the Giants when they return from their bye week on October 25.
With Tony Romo on injured reserve with the designation to return because of a broken collarbone, Weeden has started the last three games for the Cowboys. They’ve lost all three of those games, running the record of teams starting Weeden to 0-11 in his last 11 starts.
Weeden has gone 64-of-91 for 666 yards in his three starts, but has just one touchdown to go with a pair of interceptions. The numbers speak to the pared-down offense that Dallas has been running since Romo’s injury, although Cassel’s work in recent seasons suggests that won’t change along with the name of the guy playing quarterback.
While the possible return of Dez Bryant to the lineup against the Giants should help, the running game and defense are both going to need to perform at a higher level if the Cowboys are going to remain in contention when Romo is ready to return to action.
Clock errors surely happen all the time in any sport that relies on a human being periodically turning the thing on and eventually turning it off. At the lower levels of many sports, it presents an ideal opportunity for the phenomenon known as “home cooking.” At the highest level of football, it’s a potential integrity-of-the-game donut hole that needs to be taken seriously.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, regular-season NFL clock operators are indeed hired by the league, and not by individual teams. They typically have college football officiating experience, and they live in the same geographic area as the home team stadium. The fact that the NFL uses postseason clock operators from outside the geographic area of the home team’s stadium highlights the possibility that local residents during regular-season games may have a bias that would cause them to hit the off or on button too slowly or to quickly, depending upon the circumstances of the game.
In most cases, the subtle shaving (or addition) of a few seconds here and there would likely go unnoticed, especially for a clock operator who is skilled at deliberately hitting the button a little late or a little early on a consistent basis. This dynamic makes it critical that the clock operators are truly unbiased, that they have a high degree of personal integrity, and that they are conscientious about turning the clock on and off at precisely the right moment.
Monday night’s Steelers-Chargers game involved a very different phenomenon. In the fourth quarter, it wasn’t a case of someone forgetting to turn a running clock off or a stopped clock on. Instead, the clock was off, it was supposed to remain off, and it inexplicably was turned on. For nearly one third of a minute.
It’s the kind of bizarre outcome that cries out for an investigation. Not a Ted Wells “independent” (or not) investigation, but a thorough and appropriate in-house probe into what happened and why no one in a position to fix the situation noticed.
With the Patriots and their footballs at the AFC title game, the league presumed guilt and worked backward. In this case, it would be dangerous to presume inadvertence and move forward. It’s entirely possible that someone tried to influence the outcome of the game through what by all appearances was a mistake.
If the NFL is going to scorch the earth (and bastardize science) to prove that the Patriots broke the rules, the NFL should at least apply some basic curiosity to a situation that never should have happened, that possibly happened on purpose, and that now cries out for an overhaul to the way the NFL ensures that each game consists of exactly 3,600 seconds — no more, no fewer.
The Steelers officially activated wide receiver Martavis Bryant Tuesday following his four-game suspension and an extra week during which the team kept Bryant exempt from the active 53.
He injured his knee in his first practice back with the team last week, and though the Steelers didn’t have to list Bryant on their injury report last week because he wasn’t activated, the knee is the most likely reason he didn’t play Monday night in San Diego.
Safety and special teams player Ross Ventrone was released to clear a roster spot for Bryant.
Bryant spent part of his month-long suspension in Houston working with substance abuse counselor John Lucas.
The Steelers held Bryant back until the seventh game of his rookie season last year, and their patience was rewarded. He averaged 21.2 yards per reception and caught eight touchdown passes.
The Steelers host the Cardinals Sunday.
The Patriots will travel to Indianapolis on Sunday night to face the Colts under the AFC Finalist banner they helped put in the rafters of Lucas Oil Stadium, but the AFC Championship game rematch isn’t the major selling point for the game.
It’s the aftermath of that game that’s providing the big angle this time around, particularly the Colts’ role in touching off the eight-month saga known as Deflategate. The Patriots’ scalding start to the season has led to talk of a revenge tour after Tom Brady’s suspension was overturned in federal court and the prominent place the Colts played in the accusations have some saying that this will be more than just another game for the Patriots.
The people saying that haven’t come from inside the Patriots, of course. Both history and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’s comments on Tuesday suggest that’s unlikely to change.
“I really don’t see it any different than each of the other games we’ve played,” McDaniels said in a conference call. “I think it’s a very good team. It’s a road game in a hostile environment, in a place that’s tough to play on a Sunday night. They’ve got new people, new personnel. But they want to beat us and we want to beat them. It’s not very complicated. But that’s the same thing it is every single week that you play in this league.”
McDaniels went on from there, but didn’t say anything that veered from the message of this week being business as usual. Given how well that approach has worked for the Patriots in recent matchups with the Colts, there’s not much reason to try something different.
The Eagles have had offensive line problems all season, and they did something Tuesday to address the issue.
Hawkinson entered the league as a fifth-round pick of the Bengals in 2013, but he was released in final cuts this year. The 49ers then signed him to the practice squad.
The Dan Campbell era will kick off for the Dolphins this week and the team hopes it will get off to a better start than the Ndamukong Suh era.
Suh’s arrival in Miami didn’t have the kind of impact that many expected as the Dolphins defense played a major role in the 1-3 start that claimed the jobs of head coach Joe Philbin and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle last week. Suh has had nine tackles while spearheading a defense that has generated one sack while giving up the most rushing yards per game in the NFL.
Spinning that to look like the Dolphins got what they thought they were getting would be impossible, so executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum didn’t try during an appearance on 640 AM with Sid Rosenberg. Instead he focused on the big picture for a player who is signed through 2020.
“Let’s be fair,” Tannenbaum said. “We signed him to a six-year contract, so we’re four games into a six-year contract. He hasn’t played as well as we hoped, we haven’t played as well as we hoped. I think we have to give it a grade of incomplete.”
Suh was one of several players reportedly upset by Coyle’s scheme, so the hope in Miami will now be that changes to the system will unleash the player they remember from Detroit. Sunday’s visit to the Titans will bring the first answers on that front.
There are quarterbacks in the NFC South who can put a shoulder into a tackler and drive them backward, or at least one.
Matt Ryan is not that guy.
The Falcons quarterback said he may have made a mistake, when trying to run for a first down, he lowered his shoulder and tried to drive Washington safety Kyshoen Jarrett back instead of sliding or running out of bounds. It wasn’t much of an effort, as Jarrett didn’t really move and Ryan fell to the side.
“I thought I was closer to the first down than I actually was,” Ryan said, via Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I thought I was going to get it and it turns out I was a couple yards short.”
Ryan called the decision “an error in judgement,” and added “It happens.”
He had reason to want to make a play. The Falcons were trailing 16-12 inside the two-minute warning as he scrambled, so there was urgency.
But he’s far more valuable to the 5-0 Falcons in the pocket than he is on the run, so it’s probably best he realized he’s no Cam Newton.
Earlier Tuesday, Bills coach Rex Ryan told reporters that Taylor “is pretty beat up.” LaCanfora reported that Taylor injured his knee on a horse-collar tackle on what became the go-ahead drive in the Bills’ 14-13 win over the Titans last Sunday.
The Bills host the Bengals Sunday, then play the Jaguars in London on Oct. 25 before a bye week, making Manuel the likely starter for the next two games.
Taylor, a first-time starter, is completing 70 percent of his passes and has thrown nine touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s also rushed 31 times for 187 yards.
Manuel has not accumulated any stats this season. He’s 6-8 as the Bills’ starter over the last two seasons, during which time he’s completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He started four games last season.
Earlier Tuesday, the Buffalo News reported that the Bills had checked the passport status of available quarterbacks, a sign they were looking to sign someone for multiple weeks.
Wide receiver Julio Jones was listed as out of practice on Monday with hamstring and toe injuries as the Falcons started a short week leading into Thursday night’s game against the Saints.
That development was followed by reports of some doubts inside the team about the wideout’s availability for the game. They aren’t expressing those doubts publicly, however.
Coach Dan Quinn said Tuesday that he anticipates Jones will be on the field to face New Orleans and Jones said it was his plan to play, although he left open the possibility that things could go the other way.
“If I can go, I am going to go,” Jones said, via the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “I am going to have to be really down bad not to go out there and play. If I feel like I am putting myself in danger as far as going out there and not being able to make a defender miss, then I won’t go. If I feel like I can do that and help my team by drawing coverage and doing my job, I’m going to go.”
Jones’s torrid production slipped a bit the last two weeks, but a matchup with the Saints defense offers the possibility of more huge numbers if he’s feeling well enough to play.
The Panthers got their most important player back on the field Tuesday.
Now they have to wait to see when they’ll get their newest one back.
Veteran defensive end Jared Allen didn’t practice Tuesday, and told reporters he was still feeling (or not feeling) the effects of a pinched nerve in his back.
“I’m just trying to get feeling back in my foot,” Allen said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review.
He maintained that he was still “ready to rock,” and that he planned to play Sunday against the Seahawks, saying “If I can walk, I can play.”
The 33-year-old defensive end didn’t get a sack in his Panthers debut before the bye week, though they’ll need production from him with Charles Johnson on the injured reserve/designated return list for another six weeks.
Going against a Seahawks offensive line that hasn’t protected well, the Panthers could use all the pressure they can get. Ryan Delaire had a pair of sacks in his Panthers debut, as the former Washington practice-squader provided the burst Allen hasn’t yet.
Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin expressed an uncomfortable truth about the NFL when discussing Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy: If you’re a good enough player, no one cares what kind of person you are.
Irvin said on 105.3 The Fan that Hardy, who returned to the field on Sunday after missing 19 games over two seasons after a domestic violence accusation, is so good that the Cowboys ought to sign him to a long-term contract, despite the off-field issues.
“I know a lot of people are mad at this dude, but I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is the first game.’ To come back in the first game and do what that dude did, that was crazy,” Irvin said.
Irvin said that while Hardy is facing criticism over his rap video, it’s the perfect time for the Cowboys to sign him to a good deal.
“I’m sorry everybody and I don’t want to be insensitive, but while everybody’s mad about the video, we should sign him to a long-term deal now,” Irvin said. “It was so impressive to see that, it was mind-boggling impressive.”
Irvin said he thinks if Hardy had been on the Cowboys last year, they would have won the Super Bowl. And that’s why Hardy is a player Irvin wants the Cowboys to sign, no matter how bad a guy he is.
The Bills host the Bengals Sunday, then go to London to play the Jaguars on Oct. 25.
The trip to London was a factor in the team’s search for help at quarterback over the last 48 hours, Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News reported Tuesday.
Citing an NFL source, Carucci tweeted that the Bills checked the passport status of available quarterbacks.
“Apparently, Tyrod Taylor is hurt pretty bad,” the source told Carucci.
E.J. Manuel would be the starting quarterback if Taylor can’t play this week.
Carucci also reported that the Bills tried to sign Matt Simms, who was with the Bills in training camp, but Simms chose to stay with the Falcons’ practice squad because he feels he has a better future with the Falcons. The Bills had operated with Taylor and Manuel as the only quarterbacks on the roster since trading Matt Cassel to the Cowboys.
So, Johnson seems to be in line for a trip across the pond and at least a couple more weekly paychecks.
The Ravens needed immediate help for their injury depleted secondary, so they got rid of a guy brought in to help their injury depleted pass rush.
As part of a flurry of moves Tuesday, the Ravens announced they cut veteran outside linebacker Jason Babin.
To fill those three roster spots, they signed former 49ers cornerback Shareece Wright and promoted cornerbacks Asa Jackson and Charles James from the practice squad.
Babin was brought in after Terrell Suggs was lost for the season to a torn Achilles, but didn’t make any impact there, with no stats in the two games he was active for.
The NFL has acknowledged that the side judge working Monday night’s game in San Diego should have caught a mistake made by the clock operator.
“Because of an error by the clock operator, the game clock was incorrectly started before the Steelers’ first play from scrimmage following the touchback. That first down snap came with 2:38 left to play instead of 2:56, a difference of 18 seconds,” the league’s statement said. “The official game time is kept on the stadium scoreboard, but it is the responsibility of the side judge to supervise the timing of the game. Had the side judge or any of the other six on-field officials noticed the timing error, they could have corrected it.”
Although the NFL’s statement didn’t name him, Rob Vernatchi was the side judge for the game. That’s a huge mistake that will surely result in him being downgraded by the league office.
And it was the second consecutive Monday night game that saw a significant mistake by the officials, coming on the heels of last week’s illegal bat by the Seahawks, which probably cost the Lions the game. Even though this mistake probably didn’t change the outcome of the game (although it’s impossible to say for sure what would have happened had there been 18 more seconds on the clock in a game the Steelers won on the final play), it’s something the NFL needs to address. Officiating needs to get better.
Dwight Freeney’s return to the NFL was reported on Monday and the Cardinals made it official on Tuesday with the announcement that they’ve signed the 13-year veteran.
The move reunites Freeney with coach Bruce Arians, who was the interim head coach for much of the 2012 season with the Colts, and the Cardinals hope it will give a boost to a pass rush that has recorded eight sacks in five games. The need for that boost is particularly acute in the short term.
Linebacker Alex Okafor is the team leader with two of those sacks, but is currently battling a calf injury and, per multiple reports, he’s expected to miss several weeks while recovering. Whether Freeney, who will meet the team in West Virginia as they prepare to face the Steelers, can ramp up quickly enough to help fill the hole remains to be seen.
The Cardinals placed linebacker Kenny Demens on injured reserve to make room for Freeney on the roster. Demens tore his ACL in last Sunday’s victory in Detroit.
The Colts are going to have to find another quarterback to ride around in the revolving door, because Josh Johnson has another job.
The Bills announced they had signed the journeyman backup, who has yo-yoed on and off the Colts roster the last two weeks while Andrew Luck was hurt.
If Taylor isn’t able to start, they might have to turn back to EJ Manuel this week against the Bengals, which isn’t an ideal situation. The Bills had a solid backup plan, but they traded him to the Cowboys, leaving themselves thin again, and forced to look outside for reinforcements.
Giants tight end Larry Donnell capped a busy NFL Sunday with a touchdown catch to beat the 49ers on Sunday night and we’ll be talking to him about his big play on Tuesday’s edition of PFT Live.
Donnell will join Mike Florio to discuss the game-winning catch, which capped off a comeback in the final minutes that moved the Giants to 3-2 and erased some memories of the way they blew games in the first two weeks of the season. They’ll also talk about Donnell’s fellow tight end Daniel Fells’s battle with a MRSA infection and the upcoming Monday night clash with the Eagles.
We’ll be talking about that game with Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins as well when Jenkins drops in as a guest on the program. Guests will also include a pair of representatives from the NFC West — Seahawks running back Fred Jackson and Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson — as we bring you everything you need to know from around the league.
As always, we also want to hear what PFT Planet thinks. Email questions at any time or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.
It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app. You can also watch a simulcast of the first hour through the links at PFT.