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ProFootballTalk: Youtube sensation turned Jets kicker?
On Thursday, the question was whether or not the Broncos would be coached by John Fox from the press box on Sunday against the Titans.
We got our answer on Friday. Fox will not coach them from a box, house or with a mouse. The coach announced, via Mike Klis of the Denver Post, at his Friday press conference that he will be on the sideline in his first game back with the Broncos since undergoing heart surgery in early November.
Fox said he didn’t think there was much difference in his location on Sunday since defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, offensive coordinator Adam Gase and special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers would be able to do their jobs either way. That group handled things well while Fox was recovering from his operation and there’s no reason to think that things should change now that the head man is back on the scene.
Fox also announced that defensive end Derek Wolfe remains out of the lineup after experiencing seizure-like symptoms last week. Kick returner Trindon Holliday is questionable with a shoulder injury, but the rest of the team is probable for Fox’s return to the sideline.
On Thursday, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson mused about playing for the Cowboys or Texans.
On Friday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones resisted the temptation to muse about employing Peterson.
“We don’t want to get into hypotheticals in any way,” Jones said on his Friday appearance with 105.3 The Fan Dallas/Fort Worth. “As a matter of fact that’s called ‘get busted’ in the NFL to be talking about somebody’s else player.”
It’s actually called tampering. But we strongly prefer “get busted.”
While Jones can’t talk publicly about it, nothing stops him from privately contacting the Vikings in the offseason to see if a reverse-Herschel could be accomplished.
The Panthers are going to be very close to full strength for Sunday’s showdown for first place in the NFC South against the Saints.
Defensive end Charles Johnson, running back DeAngelo Williams and linebacker Chase Blackburn will all return after missing last week’s game because of injuries. Coach Ron Rivera said that all three players will return to their starting roles and that he’s excited to see how things unfold now that the team’s gotten healthier.
“I’m excited about the fact that we’ll have some of our top line guys back,” Rivera said, via the team’s website. “It’s good to have the young guys get opportunities, but I’m thrilled. It’s a great situation to be in. As we get into this stretch run we can get everybody back healthy and, hopefully, we can continue on that way.”
The Panthers got good performances from linebacker A.J. Klein and defensive end Mario Addison, among others, while those top line guys were out of the lineup. That gives them enviable depth as they put the finishing touches on the regular season that has them positioned for their first playoff appearance since 2008.
According to Frazier, Ponder still must pass NFL-mandated concussion testing before returning, and the third-year passer from Florida State is not expected to play on Sunday.
After Sunday’s game at Baltimore, the Vikings finish out their season with home games vs. Philadelphia (Dec. 15) and Detroit (Dec. 29) and a road contest at Cincinnati (Dec. 22).
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said early this week that tight end Dennis Pitta will play against the Vikings in Week 14 if he’s able to play after going through the week of practice.
The week of practice has come to an end and the Ravens haven’t made any move to put Pitta on the 53-man roster. It hasn’t been ruled out, though, and Harbaugh said Friday that there’s a “reasonable chance” that Pitta is in the lineup. For his part, Pitta said that nothing’s definite while sounding like he’s ready to give it a go.
“Ultimately it’s up to me and how I feel. We’ll see, we’ll make some decisions in next couple days,” Pitta said, via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. “You always want to see how you respond. It will be nice to take that first hit”
Per Wilson, the expectation around the team is that Pitta will play in a limited role this Sunday. His return should be a boost to the team’s offense and, by extension, their chances of earning a playoff spot as long as he’s healthy enough to give the team something close to the kind of production that resulted in 61 catches last season.
Green Bay will be without quarterback Aaron Rodgers for at least one more game.
The Packers have announced that Rodgers is out again on Sunday against the Falcons, the fifth full game he has missed since suffering a broken collarbone against the Bears.
Now the question is whether the Packers can stay close enough to the NFC North lead to make it worth considering the possibility that Rodgers could return for the final three games and help them win the division. If the Packers can beat the Falcons without Rodgers — and if the Lions lose to the Eagles — then Green Bay would still be in the hunt for a division title, and a return of Rodgers would make them a legitimate threat to win the NFC North.
But if the Packers lose this week (and especially if the Lions also win at Philadelphia), they’re just about out of any hope of winning the division. At that point, it might be time to shut Rodgers down.
As the Cowboys plan to face defensive lineman Jay (now Jeremiah) Ratliff on Monday night, owner Jerry Jones continues to lament that Ratliff will be wearing blue instead of silver.
“Ratliff ought to be right out here with the Cowboys right now,” Jones said during his Friday appearance on 105.3 The Fan Dallas/Fort Worth. “That has a lot of reasons why but that’s where he should be. I am surprised he’s playing football up there relative to his doctors and relative to his opinion of where his health was when he left here.”
On Tuesday, Jones shared similar sentiments on the same station.
The Cowboys previously have hinted strongly that litigation will be pursued against Ratliff, but no action has been taken yet.
Ratliff made his first and only appearance with the Bears on Sunday at Minnesota.
Pierre-Paul has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Chargers, the second week in a row that has seen the team decide during the week that he isn’t healthy enough to play. While the Giants’ insistence on keeping Pierre-Paul in play makes sense as long as there’s even a slim hope of making the playoffs, it is hard to see the upside in risking further injury if that possibility goes away.
A loss this weekend will do just that so we’ll see how things play out next week. The same goes for cornerback Corey Webster, who has taken up a roster spot despite barely playing this season and will miss his ninth game of the season this week.
Running back Brandon Jacobs is doubtful to play this week and cornerback Trumaine McBride is questionable. If McBride doesn’t play, the Giants will be pretty vulnerable to a strong passing attack and the Chargers have shown they have one on many occasions this season.
On Friday, Texans owner Robert C. McNair was asked what the “last straw” was when it came to firing coach Gary Kubiak one day after a 27-20 loss at Jacksonville.
McNair’s answer was illuminating.
“Well, I think the last straw was losing,” McNair replied. “We’ve got a lot better talent than Jacksonville. To have them beat us twice, that’s to their credit.
“They played harder, they played smarter, and that’s not acceptable to us to have some team beat us on that basis. If they’re better than we are, if they’ve got better ability than we do, then fine, but we expect to go out and play hard and play smart. We didn’t play smart.”
In defeat, the favored Texans committed 14 penalties for 177 yards. While McNair has deep wells of patience, he had clearly tired of the Texans looking little like they were expected to be.
After Gary Kubiak and Rick Smith led the Texans to their first playoff berth in franchise history, it was contract extension time.
Smith, the General Manager, signed through 2016. Kubiak, the head coach, opted to accept a deal through 2014 only.
Owner Bob McNair wanted to sign Kubiak through 2015, but Kubiak’s agent (i.e., Kubiak) opted for only three total years of security.
“[I]t’s three years and that was his choice,” McNair said of Kubiak in June 2012. ”It could have been four years but Gary has assured me that with the level of success he’s going to have that he’s going to be worth a lot more money if at three years instead of four and so I had to agree with him.”
That’s not how it worked out, with Kubiak gone and owed only one year of a buyout. It doesn’t mean he’d still be the coach if he opted for the longer deal, but the size of the buyout could have been a bigger impediment to making a change.
For Smith, three years of a buyout could keep him around, at least for another year or two. His presence could affect the potential interest of candidates who would want either to run the show from a personnel standpoint or to hire their own guy to set the table.
The Browns’ game of quarterback musical chairs continues, with Jason Campbell getting the start on Sunday against the Patriots.
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski confirmed today that Campbell will start after he practiced on Friday and showed no symptoms from the concussion he suffered on November 24 against the Steelers. Under NFL rules, the Browns would be required to sit Campbell if he has any recurrence of symptoms, so it’s still possible that he could be pulled. But at the moment, all indications are that Campbell will start.
“He looks sharp and hasn’t missed a beat,” Chudzinski said.
Brandon Weeden is recovering from a concussion of his own and will be inactive on Sunday. Caleb Hanie and Alex Tanney are the Browns’ other two backup quarterbacks.
While firing head coach Gary Kubiak today, Texans owner Bob McNair made it clear he was looking for experience.
And one guy with successful head coaching experience is sitting nearby.
McNair indicated that former Bears coach Lovie Smith was a possibility for the vacancy, and the timing gives him an advantage.
Smith has been sitting idle since being fired by the Bears, after compiling an 81-63 record in nine years as the Bears’ head coach. That should make him a hot commodity this offseason, in places beyond his native Texas.
That would trigger immediate speculation about the future of quarterback Jay Cutler, who could become a free agent this offseason.
But Smith’s candidacy would stand on its own merits, after a consistently successful run with the Bears.
The Texans are sticking with Case Keenum as their starting quarterback, owner Robert C. McNair said Friday.
McNair made the announcement at the press conference in which the club confirmed it had fired coach Gary Kubiak.
Keenum was pulled in favor of Matt Schaub in the Texans’ 27-20 loss at Jacksonville on Thursday night. However, the club needs to further evaluate Keenum, McNair said.
“Case is going to be the quarterback, and we’re going to give him a chance to see how he can perform,” McNair said. “I think the jury is still out, and he’s got a lot of ability, and he’s shown some flashes of brilliance, and he’s shown some rookie mistakes.
“We’ve got to see if we can improve or eliminate those mistakes, minimize those mistakes, and continue some of the outstanding play that we’ve seen, and see whether we think he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL. At this point, we really don’t know.”
If the 2014 NFL Draft were held today, the 2-11 Texans would hold the No. 1 pick, making closer study of Keenum a sensible move.
When it comes to firing a head coach and replacing him with an interim head coach, the move comes with one major risk.
If the interim coach does well, it’s hard not to make the interim coach the permanent coach.
In recent years, interim head coaches typically do well, because the players obtain a sufficient kick in the butt to play well enough in order to keep the interim head coach around. That’s not a favor to the interim coach; it’s a favor to themselves. Coaches hired from the outside tend to want their own players, which means that guys who have contracts that ostensibly carry into future seasons may not.
And so the increase in performance is artificial and temporary, enough to get the interim coach the job but ultimately not enough to effect the change that the organization craves.
Consider some of the recent interim hires who have gotten the permanent job. Romeo Crennel in Kansas City replaced Todd Haley during the 2011 season. The Chiefs went 2-14 in 2012. Leslie Frazier replaced Brad Childress in 2010. The Vikings were 3-13 in 2011.
And to bring it all full circle, Jason Garrett replaced Wade Phillips in Dallas three years ago. The Cowboy have been a .500 team with no playoff berths since then.
A thrice-fired NFL head coach, Wade Phillips has a strong connection to Houston, especially in light of his father’s time as coach of the Oilers. If the Texans go 3-0 or 2-1 in the final three weeks of the season, owner Bob McNair may have no choice but to keep Phillips for 2014 and beyond.
For the second time this year, Wade Phillips is the interim head coach of the Houston Texans.
With today’s announcement that Gary Kubiak has been fired, Phillips has been promoted from defensive coordinator to interim head coach. Phillips also served as interim head coach while Kubiak took a leave for health reasons following his collapse on the field at halftime of a Sunday night loss to the Colts.
Texans owner Bob McNair said he hopes Phillips can turn the team around, and he made clear that his focus is not on the first pick in the draft.
“Wade Phillips will serve as the interim coach,” McNair said. “We’ve got three more games. Our goal is to win three more games. Some people say that’s not going to be in our interest. Well, believe me, that is in our interest. We want a winning culture and it doesn’t matter whether it’s the first game or the last game.”
And so Phillips will try to win the last three games of the season, after the Texans have lost 11 straight.