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ProFootballTalk: Suggs: ‘If you can breathe, you can play’
The initial Twitter-fueled headline emerging from Monday’s Chuck Pagano press conference focused on the adjectives he used to describe the question of whether 40-year-old Matthew Hasselbeck is supplanting Andrew Luck as the team’s starting quarterback. The far more significant comment from Pagano arose from the specific number he uttered.
“Andrew is our starting quarterback and when he is healthy and he is 100 percent healthy and the doctors and our trainers say he is ready to roll then he is going to be under center,” Pagano said, via comments distributed by the team.
And there it is. The “100 percent” rule. The standard that Pagano that PFT argued Pagano should use on Luck back in Week Six, after Hasselbeck’s Jimmy Connors/Michael Jordan/Willis Reed performance against the Texans and when Luck still was nursing a shoulder and/or rib injury. (Heck, we even prefaced that explanation by saying it would be “ludicrous” to even suggest benching Luck for Hasselbeck; “ludicrous” is one of the terms Pagano used when addressing the possibility on Monday.)
So when is a guy with a lacerated kidney and a separate abdominal strain truly “100 percent”? February? April? May?
For all the clarity implied in the three digits, it’s a loose, vague, fuzzy standard, allowing Pagano to go with Hasselbeck’s hot hand as long as it stays hot, keeping Luck on the bench without ever benching him.
From the perspective of Pagano’s long-term employment prospects in a job he has said repeatedly will be his last, there’s nothing ridiculous or ludicrous about that.
Is firing offensive coordinator Bill Lazor now too little and too late for the Dolphins?
A look at the Patriots’ clock management on Sunday night.
The Bengals defensive backs tackled well against the Rams.
There was no “Victory Monday” day off for the Texans.
How does the Titans’ home losing streak measure up to other extended bouts of futility?
A breakdown of playing time for the Broncos in their win over the Patriots.
The Raiders running game never caught fire against the Titans.
Youth is being served on the Chargers defense.
Giants players say the playoffs, not beating the Jets, is the biggest motivation this week.
The Eagles added C Barrett Jones to the roster.
Redskins DL Ricky Jean Francois thinks his team can make a Super Bowl run.
Everybody around the Bears was in a dancing mood on Thanksgiving.
Coach Mike Zimmer praised the Vikings for playing like a “smart football team.”
Said newly signed Panthers CB Cortland Finnegan, “Any guy who ever plays the game, they just want one more snap, let’s just be honest. I got giddy just putting on the helmet today.”
What approach should the Saints employ for their final five games?
Losing to the Colts hasn’t dampened good spirits around the Buccaneers.
It looks like rookie David Johnson will be the No. 1 running back for the Cardinals this week.
After failing as the Lions’ team president, Matt Millen settled back into a career as a broadcaster and rarely discussed the mistakes he made in Detroit. But on Sunday, he apologized.
Millen, working the Buccaneers-Colts game on FOX, chuckled as he acknowledged that he never should have been trusted with running a franchise.
“A little bit of a tactical error on my part, I had this fleeting dream that I thought maybe I could run a team,” Millen said. “Sorry, Detroit, it didn’t quite work out.”
Millen is obviously right that it didn’t work out: In 2001 he took over a team that had gone 9-7 the year before, promptly turned them into a 2-14 team his first hear, and never even reached .500, with his tenure culminating in the NFL’s only 0-16 season ever in Millen’s final year, in 2008.
The Lions are currently looking for a new General Manager, having just fired Martin Mayhew, who was promoted to the job after Millen was finally fired. The good news for the Lions is that whoever they hire, it can’t possibly be worse than Millen.
1. Panthers (11-0; last week No. 2): It’s been a year since they’ve lost a regular-season game. The real question for the rest of the current year is whether they’ll win three games in the postseason.
2. Broncos (9-2; No. 6): The Broncos could be paying a quarterback $19 million next year, after all. Just not the one they thought.
3. Patriots (10-1; No. 1): Will Tom Brady eventually be throwing passes to Tony Gonzalez, Randy Moss, and/or Terrell Owens?
4. Bengals (9-2; No. 4): The Bengals are back. As long as they don’t have to play at night.
5. Cardinals (9-2; No. 3): Good teams find a way to win even when they’re playing the opposite of good.
6. Vikings (8-3; No. 8): The Steve Hutchinson/Nate Burleson Tit-for-Tat Bowl finally has both teams playing for something other than spite.
7. Packers (7-4; No. 5): If Peyton Manning or Tom Brady had young teammates who weren’t spending enough time preparing to play, the last thing either of them would need to do is complain about it publicly.
9. Chiefs (6-5; No. 10): Yes, the 49ers kept the wrong guy.
10. Steelers (6-5; No. 7): That fake field goal was so bad that the Colts were laughing at it.
11. Colts (6-5; No. 14): 4-0 is the new 40.
12. Texans (6-5; No. 15): Few teams have improved more than this one during the season, and few can figure out how they did it.
13. Raiders (5-6; No. 13): Every time the Raiders give us a reason to give up on them, they give us a reason not to.
15. Jets (6-5; No. 16): Stephen Ross no longer owns the Dolphins; the Jets do.
16. Bears (5-6; No. 20): Thirty years after a team to never forget, the Bears are gradually piecing together a season to remember.
17. Washington (5-6; No. 25): I like that at home; I hate that on the road.
18. Giants (5-6; No. 11): How bad would they have played in Washington if they hadn’t had two weeks to get ready?
19. Falcons (6-5; No. 17): Matty Ice has a modified nickname.
20. Buccaneers (5-6; No. 18): Is it a drop if it never actually touches your hands?
21. Lions (4-7; No. 24): The Lions have mastered Cooterball.
22. Ravens (4-7; No. 28): Thanks, Ravens, for the annual reminder that the Texans actually paid many millions of dollars to Matt Schaub.
23. Rams (4-7; No. 21): Apparently, “kiss my ass” comes from the Competition Committee’s special parliamentary procedures known as Robert’s Rules of Odor.
24. Dolphins (4-7; No. 22): If the Dolphins fire someone every time they lose to the Jets, the Dolphins may eventually have no one left to fire.
25. Jaguars (4-7; No. 23): At least folks in Jacksonville can enjoy the holidays without being distracted by playoff seedings.
26. Eagles (4-7; No. 26): At this rate, the Eagles may give the Titans a first-round pick to take Chip Kelly.
27. Saints (4-7; No. 27): Drew Brees will make it to 45 only if he becomes a kicker.
28. Chargers (3-8; No. 31): The Chargers are so bad that beating the Jaguars is actually an upset.
29. 49ers (3-8; No. 29): The 49ers are so bad that Rob Schneider is calling them out.
30. Cowboys (3-8; No. 19): At least the expectations won’t be quite as high next year.
31. Titans (2-9; No. 30): If the NFL played 45 minutes game, the Titans would be a lock for the Super Bowl.
32. Browns (2-9; No. 32): A Pick Six and a Kick Six and anyone who watched that one got sick at least six times.
Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey remains in a Florida hospital after being shot in the head twice last week, but word on Monday was positive about the process he’s making after having surgery.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher offered an update on Bailey’s condition during his meeting with the media and said that the wideout was still in intensive care as he recovers, but that there was an encouraging development that he was able to share with the team over the weekend.
“He’s improving,” Fisher said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “One thing that was really, really cool [and] really, really emotional was that he obviously had intensive surgery — he was in surgery for over six hours — to remove one bullet. There were two wounds to the head, two shots. He was in a medically induced coma for obvious reason to keep the swelling down in the brain. … His girlfriend texted a picture to some of his teammates yesterday in the locker room [before the game] of him signing his name on a piece of paper, so [we] got to share that with the team yesterday and it was good news.”
Fisher said he didn’t have any more information on the investigation into the shooting, which saw Bailey and another man injured while sitting in a car with three others, including two minors, who were not injured.
On Sunday, Bills coach Rex Ryan responded to questions about not challenging a Jeremy Maclin catch that looked like an incompletion on replays with an answer that included complaints about the lack of replays on the video board at Arrowhead Stadium.
Those replays would have helped Ryan on the sideline, but there’s little reason why coaches up in the booth wouldn’t have been able to notice that it didn’t appear to be a catch. It was a rough day all around on the challenge front.
The Bills were 0-2 on their challenges and they failed to challenge two other plays that could have gone their way, leaving Ryan with little choice but to promise changes to the team’s system in the weeks to come.
“There is a process in place,” Ryan said, via the Buffalo News. “Did that process let us down? Absolutely did. It failed on a couple of occasions, obviously. There’s something we clearly have to improve in. I thought it was going well this year, but obviously we need to find a way to get it where it’s better, where something like where people at home can see something and we don’t see it. To me, that can’t happen. It won’t happen in the future.”
Ryan didn’t outline what changes would be made or who was responsible for advising him, although he did say that team chaplain James Trapp, who was seen on TV talking to Ryan during a possible challenge, wasn’t involved. Sticking with the men in the booth over the man further upstairs would seem to be the best approach to replays, although Buffalo’s experience last Sunday probably could have been improved just by flipping a coin.
As thinly veiled shots at opponents go, the latest to come back and bite Aaron Rodgers was fairly innocuous.
This is the same guy who in discussing a 24-game winning home streak over the Lions said: “It’s just kind of fell our way the last 20 times or whatever but it’s always been very competitive.”
So when he followed with “It’s always fun to beat the Bears,” after a Week One victory, it didn’t seem like that big a diss.
But Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee certainly took it that way.
“C’mon, the quarterback said he loved beating up on us. Who he think we are?” McPhee said, via Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com. “We ain’t the team from last year, or two years ago, or three years ago. You know what I’m saying? This is the 2015 Chicago Bears. A lot of guys took it personal, especially when some guy says he love beating up on your brother. I ain’t going to let nobody come and beat my little brother up.
“You know, we went in there and slapped him on his ass. They need to go ask him how that feels.”
Considering it was their fourth loss in five games, it likely stings a little. But Rodgers also continued a run of ineffectiveness on his own, completing just 22-of-43 passes for 202 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The 62.4 rating was the lowest of his career at Lambeau Field.
And limiting to that was gratifying to McPhee, who clearly took offense at Rodgers’ Soldier Field gloating.
“This game, it can get real personal,” McPhee said. “When you are winning, it is all fun. When you are losing, it is very personal. I think the last two games we lost, Denver and Minnesota, a lot of guys took it upon themselves that this, going in, that this Green Bay game was going to be personal.”
We’ll have to wait a year to see how Rodgers responds to the Bears in particular, though we’ll see Thursday against the Lions if the recent backside-smacking got his attention.
Tony Romo’s turning 36 next offseason, and will be coming off a twice-broken collarbone that turned this into a nightmare season for him and the Cowboys.
But coach Jason Garrett can easily think of the future, because he thinks Romo will be back, and better than ever.
“We think Tony has a lot of football left in him,” Garrett said, via Todd Archer of ESPN.com.
The list of recent surgeries for Romo is long, including the two on his back in 2013. And though this is his third time breaking his left collarbone since 2010, this one won’t require another surgery, and they expect him to be fully healed by camp next season. But Garrett said the mental hurdle will be as hard to clear as the physical one.
“Tony’s a great competitor, Tony wants to play as much as anybody, wants to play at a high level and help our team, and when that gets taken away from you early on in the season, you have to watch, that’s challenging. And then you get a chance to come back and then it happens again, those are not easy,” Garrett said. “There’s a tremendous investment that everybody makes in this, and the commitment that he’s made to our team over the course of his career, the investment he has made has been significant — when you can’t go out there and play because of injury — that can be frustrating for everybody.
“But somehow, some way, you’ve got to get your mind right, and you’ve got to start again. It’s a clean slate, think about the right things to get yourself back with your rehab and your treatment and get focused on the future. And he’s certainly doing that even though it’s not an easy thing to do.”
And for now, he’s their quarterback of the future, though the clock is ticking on that particular designation as well.
When the story of the 2015 NFL season is written, last night may not even be a footnote, one bad team beating another bad team in a mildly interesting fashion.
But for the guys involved in the game-deciding play, it was a novel, full of redemption and reward for years pf perserverance.
The Ravens won on a last second field goal block by defensive end Brent Urban, returned for a touchdown by safety Will Hill. And their reactions should tell you why it was a big deal, at least to them.
Urban called the moment “surreal” and said he was nearly speechless. The 2014 fourth-round pick lost his rookie season to a knee injury, then tore his biceps in training camp and was just activated last week, making it his first NFL game. He was so caught up in the moment he thought he had blocked the kick with his surgically repaired right arm instead of his left.
“It’s great for it to go our way at the end of the game with a big play,” Urban said, via Jeff Zrebeic of the Baltimore Sun. “It’s a great feeling. Things just happened our way, finally, and we’re ecstatic.”
For Hill, the relief was more temporary, since he had just given up a game-tying touchdown to Travis Benjamin with a blown coverage, so picking up the block and returning it 64 yards capped a two minutes that took him from being the cause for a loss to the cause for a win.
The swing left him a little queasy, and he admitted he nearly threw up after scoring his touchdown.
“It was almost a game of redemption,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Will Hill didn’t do a very good job on that coverage. He got fooled a little bit, gave up a touchdown pass, and then comes back and picks it up and runs it in. All the guys on the field-goal block team that set the wall down the sidelines, it was just a thing of beauty.”
It might have fallen short of that standard for most. But for Urban and Hill, it created lifelong memories.
The team released a statement last Tuesday that said Manziel had been demoted from starter to No. 3 quarterback for Monday night’s game against the Ravens. A follow-up report said Manziel had lied to Pettine and others about the video and photos that showed up on social media from his weekend off.
Now, the Browns probably have a few hours to decide if they want to make Manziel their starter again.
Nobody inside the team will get much sleep after the way the Browns lost to the Ravens, but Tuesday morning the Browns have to start getting ready for next Sunday’s game vs. the Bengals under the assumption that Josh McCown will not be available.
At 2-9, the Browns are clearly playing for next year. We don’t know who in the front office or coaching staff will be around then, but we’ll soon know if Pettine thinks Manziel deserves another shot to start.
McCown got hurt in the fourth quarter of Monday’s loss — that’s three times in McCown’s last three starts — and Pettine went to Austin Davis instead of Manziel. Davis had not previously played in a game with the Browns since being signed in September.
Manziel threw for a career-best 373 yards in a 30-9 loss at Pittsburgh on Nov. 15. It was his fifth career start and third this season, and the team announced two days later that he’d been named the starter for the rest of the season.
Despite the demotion, the Browns made Manziel active for the game vs. the Ravens. In only one of their previous 10 games had the Browns made three quarterbacks active. Last Wednesday, Pettine said Manziel was not at “a dead end” with the Browns and wouldn’t rule out the team going back to him.
But after talking about “a violation of trust,” Pettine’s next decision will reveal whether he was handing out a punishment or trying to get Manziel to learn a lesson.
Browns Coach Mike Pettine told reporters after Monday night’s loss to the Ravens that quarterback Josh McCown was forced out in the fourth quarter due to a collarbone injury.
About 75 minutes after the Browns lost on a blocked field goal return, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com tweeted that McCown has a “possible” broken collarbone.
McCown had his right arm in a sling as he left First Energy Stadium. He left the game after the second time he appeared to be in pain after taking a hit.
McCown has left his last three starts in the fourth quarter due to injury. He missed the previous two games due to a rib injury suffered Nov. 1.
Austin Davis replaced McCown Monday. Johnny Manziel had started the two previous games and was named the starter for the rest of the season during the Browns’ bye week, but he was demoted after he reportedly lied to Pettine about his latest appearance social media.
Davis played for the first time since joining the Browns in September. He threw a touchdown pass with 1:47 left to tie the game and scrambled to get the Browns into field goal range on the final drive, but Pettine said a headset issue caused the confusion that led to the Browns allowing the clock to run despite having two timeouts.
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Cary Williams had started 81 straight games, regular and postseason combined, dating back to his time in Philadelphia and Baltimore before he was benched for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Shead held his own against an explosive Steelers passing attack. His 10 tackles were second on the team he recorded four passes defended during the game. In comparison, Williams has just four passes defended all season.
“He played a really good, tough game,” head coach Pete Carroll said of Shead. “He had a lot of challenges and he came through at the point of the ball coming in a number of times. They got him once, but all in all, he played really good. Did a very good job. We were all really proud of him.”
Williams was initially benched last week in the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers after blowing an assignment on a 36-yard completion to tight end Vance McDonald. That led to Shead getting a chance to start against Pittsburgh.
So where does that leave Williams, who signed a three-year, $18 million deal with Seattle this offseason?
“Right now he’s trying to fight for playing time, trying to get back in,” Carroll said. “Shead did a good job and we feel pretty good about DeShawn coming back again this week.”
Shead helped hold Martavis Bryant to just five catches for 69 yards on Sunday. The majority of Pittsburgh’s 480 passing yards came over the middle of the field against Seattle’s linebackers and safeties and slot cornerbacks.
If Shead continues as the starter, it would seem unlikely that Williams would be back in 2016 for the Seahawks. The team could save close to $4 million against the salary cap by releasing him this offseason.
The Browns had lost a game in just about every way possible.
Then Monday night happened.
With their game against the Ravens tied at 27 and three seconds left, the Browns lined up for a 51-yard field goal try from kicker Travis Coons, who hadn’t missed a field goal all season.
The kick was blocked by Ravens defensive end Brent Urban, and picked up by Ravens safety Will Hill. After securing the ball Hill basically had one man to beat on the sideline, and he returned it 64 yards for a touchdown.
The Ravens took a knee instead of kicking the extra point and won, 33-27. They also got the game’s first points via special teams, an 82-yard punt return by rookie Kaelin Clay.
It was a wild final two minutes. Ravens quarterback Matt Schaub was picked off by Tramon Williams with 50 seconds left, setting the Browns up at the Ravens’ 46-yard line. After wasting precious seconds despite having two timeouts, Browns quarterback Austin Davis scrambled to the Ravens’ 33 with eight seconds left. Duke Johnson then ran for no gain, and each team used a timeout before the final kick.
The Browns trailed 10-0 early and 27-20 at the two-minute warning before Davis hit Travis Benjamin on a 42-yard touchdown pass. Davis was playing because starter Josh McCown was hurt and because, in the words of ESPN play-by-play man Mike Tirico, the Browns put Johnny Manziel “in timeout.”
Per former Browns and NFL writer Joe Reedy, it’s the 22nd time since returning to the NFL in 1999 that the Browns lost on the final play of the game. But it’s the first they’ve lost on a blocked field goal return.
The Browns fall to 2-9. The Ravens improve to 4-7.
University of Maryland pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue has elected to forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL Draft.
The junior finished his career with 21.5 sacks and set a Maryland single season record with 13.5 sacks this season for the Terrapins.
“While the last three years have been unforgettable and I would love nothing more than to come back for another season, I have decided to forgo my final year of eligibility to pursue my lifelong dream of playing in the NFL to compete at the next level,” Ngakoue said in a statement.
Ngakoue is thought to be a second or third round pick in the upcoming draft.
Inside First Energy Stadium, there were chants of “Johnny, Johnny” as trainers tended to McCown. Those were for Johnny Manziel, and those fans did not get their wish.
The Browns named Manziel the starter for the rest of the season two weeks ago, then Browns coach Mike Pettine demoted Manziel to No. 3 quarterback last week after Manziel reportedly lied about his latest appearance in a nightclub on social media.
During the broadcast, ESPN play by play man Mike Tirico said the Browns “put [Manziel] in timeout, if you will.”
Manziel had started the last two games, and in the two previous games he’d replaced McCown in the fourth quarter after McCown was injured. Monday night, it appeared McCown was clutching his right shoulder as he talked with trainers.
Davis threw an incompletion on a third and 9 play on his first snap. The Browns trail, 27-20.