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NFL morning after: Don’t overlook the Packers

Tennessee Titans v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

With 11 NFL games played simultaneously early Sunday afternoon, there were half a dozen big ones with playoff implications. The Vikings pounded the Texans. The Bengals snatched the final AFC playoff spot away from the Steelers. The Redskins held on to beat the Eagles. The Cowboys lost a thriller to the Saints. The Colts clinched a return to the playoffs in Kansas City. The Patriots struggled to put away the pesky Jaguars.

Those were all good games, so you can be forgiven if you overlooked the Packers’ 55-7 blowout of the Titans, a snoozer that was over a few minutes after it began. But for my money, the Packers made a stronger statement about their status as a Super Bowl contender than any of the teams in those other games I mentioned.

Yes, the Titans are a bad team, but even against the bad teams, you can be impressed with the way a good team plays. And I have to be impressed when I see Aaron Rodgers go 27-for-38 for 342 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. I have to be impressed when I see three wide receivers — James Jones, Randall Cobb and Greg Jennings — all catch touchdown passes, while tight end Jermichael Finley had his best game of the season, with 70 receiving yards. I have to be impressed when running back Ryan Grant, last year’s starter who just re-signed in Green Bay three weeks ago, gained 80 yards and scored two touchdowns.

But we already knew the Packers would be fine on offense, as long as Rodgers is around. Even more importantly, I was impressed with a Green Bay defense that saw six different players — A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Clay Matthews, Mike Neal, Dezman Moses and Sam Shields — sack Titans quarterback Jake Locker. And I was even impressed by the special teams — which had been the biggest weakness of the Packers this season — stepping up on Sunday. Jeremy Ross had a 58-yard punt return, while Mason Crosby finally settled down and made both of his field goal attempts, although his 48-yarder bounced off the upright before falling through.

Does all that add up to the Packers being the best team in the NFL right now? I don’t know. If I had to pick a best team right now I’d probably go with Seattle, which pounded San Francisco on Sunday night for its third straight blowout win. But I’m not sure how relevant the title of “best team” is at this time of year. We often see that the universally recognized best team in the league in late December isn’t still standing in early February — as the Packers found out the hard way last year.

What I do think that is that if I were a fan of a playoff team, the Packers — who have now won four straight and nine of their last 10 — are the team I’d least want to be playing when the postseason starts. This Green Bay team is really, really good, and remember: If we have a rematch of that Seahawks-Packers “Fail Mary” replacement ref debacle in the postseason, the rematch will most likely be at Lambeau Field. A Seahawks-Packers playoff rematch would be a matchup of the two NFC teams that are playing their best football right now, and in Green Bay, I’d pick the Packers.

That 55-7 Packers score was what really made me sit up and take notice on Sunday. Here are the other items that caught my eye:

The NFL’s schedule makers dropped the ball with Sunday afternoon’s slate. Putting 11 games in the 1 o’clock kickoff slot and only three games in the 4 o’clock kickoff slot is a dumb way to divide up the afternoon games. With a bunch of good games in the early window, it was hard to follow all the action. And with three lousy games in the late window, the end of the day felt like a letdown.

Jamaal Charles tops Jim Brown. Charles didn’t just rush for 226 yards in the Chiefs’ loss to the Colts. He also broke Jim Brown’s half-century old record for the highest career yards per carry average for a running back. In the official NFL Record and Fact Book, a player needs 750 career carries to qualify for the all-time record, and among running backs, Jim Brown’s career average of 5.22 yards per carry has always been the gold standard. But on Sunday, Charles got his 750th career carry and jumped ahead of Brown in the record book. Charles now has 770 career carries for 4,483 yards, an incredible career average of 5.82 yards a carry. Any time a running back tops Jim Brown, he has done something special. To top Jim Brown’s longstanding record average by more than half a yard per carry is stunning.

Janoris Jenkins has had a remarkable rookie season. Jenkins entered this year’s NFL draft widely regarded as one of the most talented players available, but also as an off-field problem child who could turn out to be more trouble than he’s worth. Well, the Rams drafted Jenkins in the second round, and he has had some off-field trouble — Rams coach Jeff Fisher benched him for one game for missing curfew — but no one could possibly argue that Jenkins is more trouble than he’s worth anymore. Jenkins has been a fantastic cornerback on an improving St. Louis defense, and on Sunday he scored his fourth defensive touchdown of the season. Do you know how hard that is to do? Deion Sanders is the best defensive player I ever saw at making plays after turnovers, and even Deion never scored four defensive touchdowns in a season. Jenkins is one of only three players in NFL history to have three interception returns for a touchdown in his rookie season, and the other two — Lem Barney and Ronnie Lott — are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. If Jenkins can steer clear of off-field trouble, then Fisher is going to look back on drafting Jenkins as the single most important decision he made in his first year as the Rams’ coach.

Blair Walsh has had a remarkable rookie season, too. Never before in NFL history had anyone kicked more than eight 50-yard field goals in a season. Walsh, Minnesota’s rookie kicker, booted his ninth field goal of 50 yards or longer when he connected from 56 yards against the Texans on Sunday. Everyone knows the Vikings are playoff contenders because they have the NFL’s best running back in Adrian Peterson. But don’t overlook the importance of having the NFL’s best kicker in Walsh.

The Broncos are doing it at the right time. We that the six AFC playoff teams will be the Texans, Broncos, Patriots, Ravens, Colts and Bengals. But the only one of those six teams that really looks like it’s playing its best football late in the season is Denver. The Texans got pushed around by the Vikings on Sunday, the Patriots followed a loss to the 49ers last week with an ugly win over the Jaguars this week, the Ravens played well on Sunday but have struggled through most of the last month, and the Bengals and Colts barely squeaked by in their wild-card clinching wins on Sunday. I see big question marks about those five AFC playoff teams, but no major questions about the Broncos, who played great offense and great defense in pounding the Browns on Sunday. How does Peyton Manning leading the Broncos to the Super Bowl against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers sound?

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California Supreme Court decision causing problems for Chargers stadium push

Qualcomm Stadium AP

The Chargers push to secure a new stadium in San Diego may have a run into a sizeable problem due to the California Supreme Court.

According to David Garrick of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the court blocked an earlier appellate court ruling that the initiative to increase taxes to fund the stadium project needed a simple majority vote to pass instead of a two-thirds majority.

The state Supreme Court has elected to review the ruling of the lower court to determine the legality in regards to the vote threshold needed to pass a tax increase brought through public initiative.

The problem the ruling creates for the Chargers is two-fold. One, the two-thirds majority would obviously cause a much higher threshold of voter support to be required to pass the proposed funding package for the stadium project. Second, the review – even if upheld by the Supreme Court – could take significantly longer than necessary to impact the vote.

As the article states, even a hastened review process for the Supreme Court would still make it unlikely the matter would be decided in time for the scheduled November vote on the Chargers’ initiative.

For now, the two-thirds majority requirement is needed for the initiative to pass. The difference between 50 and 67 percent could ultimately determine whether the Chargers remain in San Diego or join the Rams in Los Angeles.

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Luck just the latest from QB class of 2012 to cash in

Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, AP

Andrew Luck became the NFL’s highest-paid player on Wednesday, but the No. 1 overall pick in 2012 wasn’t the first quarterback from his draft class to really cash in.

Luck’s mega-extension seemed a good occasion to revisit the 2012 draft’s quarterbacks, their contract situations and current places of employment. Though the on-field results have been mixed and at least a couple members of that class are basically starting over, many of them have done very well from a financial standpoint.

The full list…

Pick No. 2, Robert Griffin III: Griffin got off to a good start with the Redskins before he got hurt and things went south. Griffin is now on a short-term, prove-it deal with the Browns. He hasn’t played in a game since 2014.

Pick No. 8, Ryan Tannehill: The Dolphins gave Tannehill a big-money extension last year, but he’s yet to post a winning season. Tannehill got an $11.5 million signing bonus and his 2016 base salary is more than $9 million.

Pick No. 22, Brandon Weeden: Weeden started immediately for the Browns but was cut after two seasons. After a stint as a backup with the Cowboys, he’s now a backup with the Texans.

Pick No. 57, Brock Osweiler: Got his first real action subbing for Peyton Manning last year. Though Osweiler was eventually benched in the regular-season finale as the Broncos went on to win the Super Bowl, he cashed in with the Texans in March and has high expectations surrounding his first chance to be a true starter.

Pick No. 75, Russell Wilson: Immediately won the starting job in Seattle and hasn’t been bad for a third-round pick. He won a Super Bowl and got rewarded for it last year with a contract that’s in the neighborhood of Luck’s with a $31 million signing bonus. Wilson has thrown 106 career touchdown passes vs. 34 interceptions.

Pick No. 88, Nick Foles: Currently awaiting a trade or his release from the Rams, Foles went to the Pro Bowl with the Eagles in 2013 but got hurt the next year, then traded to the Rams. He struggled last season and will be a backup wherever he lands next.

Pick No. 102, Kirk Cousins: Started as Griffin’s backup and played in nine games over his first three seasons. Won the starting job last season and threw 29 touchdown passes, helping the Redskins to the playoffs. For now, he’s set to play 2016 under the franchise tag — and make almost $20 million doing it — and could play his way into a long-term deal from someone next March.

Pick No. 185, Ryan Lindley: After almost three seasons and some emergency duty with the Cardinals, Lindley was signed by the Colts late last season and played in one game. He’s made 10 career appearances and six starts with limited success.

Neither B.J. Coleman (pick No. 243) nor Chandler Harnish (pick No. 253) ever played in a game.

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Packers president: 17-game season could facilitate more international play

LKK AP

Although it was a much-discussed proposal a couple years ago, NFL executives have recently stayed relatively quiet about the possibility of lengthening the regular season. But Packers President Mark Murphy had something to say about the topic recently.

Asked about playing more games overseas, Murphy said one way to facilitate that could be expanding the regular season to 17 games, with each team playing eight games at home, eight on the road and one outside the United States.

“As you look ahead, if we’re going to have more and more international games, something’s got to give at some point,” Murphy said, via ESPN. “One thought that’s been discussed is to go to 17 [regular-season games] and three [preseason] and then everybody would have an international game. So nobody would have to give up a home game then.”

As we’ve noted when this proposal has come up before, NFL players have largely opposed the possibility of making the regular season longer, and the owners can’t expand the regular season without the approval of the NFL Players Association. With the NFL’s insistence that player safety is its top priority, it might be hard to justify exposing players to more hits and potentially more injuries.

However, if the NFL can convince the players that those international games are going to make a lot of money — an influx of money that will result in a higher salary cap and more money in the players’ pockets — it’s possible that the players could buy into Murphy’s proposal.

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Jim Irsay: No “out of whack” cap numbers in Luck deal

Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton AP

The Colts locked up their rights to quarterback Andrew Luck through the 2021 season on Wednesday, which means he’ll be 32 when he’s next scheduled to become a free agent.

Owner Jim Irsay said Wednesday that was something the team considered when putting together the six-year, $140 million pact. Irsay said, via Kevin Bowen of the team’s website, that the team factored in the rising salary cap and that they feel there are no “out of whack” cap numbers over the life of Luck’s deal.

That includes 2021, when Luck will be due an $11 million base salary and a $10 million roster bonus should the current deal remain in place. Irsay said that was designed to make using the franchise tag a possibility should the team need to go that route.

“It works with the cap,” Irsay said. “It works with tagging in the last year. I think both sides accomplished everything we wanted to do.”

The current CBA runs through 2020, so there may be changes to the franchise tag system by the time Luck’s status becomes an issue. Of more urgency will be the question of what the Colts do with the space provided by a deal they consider cap-friendly and whether it is enough to get Luck to the Super Bowl while he’s being paid at the top of the ladder for quarterbacks.

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Doug Baldwin gets $12 million fully guaranteed at signing

Super Bowl XLIX - New England Patriots v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

Former Stanford players have been cashing in this week.

One day before former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck signed his six-year, $139.125 million contract, former Stanford receiver Doug Baldwin inked a five-year, $47.5 million deal in Seattle. PFT has obtained Baldwin’s contract, and the full details appear below.

He receives a signing bonus of $7 million, but the cash isn’t due until April 1, 2017.

Baldwin also earns a $4 million roster bonus on Monday, July 4, 2016, half of which will be paid by July 11, 2016 and the other half of which will be paid by August 15, 2016.

Baldwin has a fully-guaranteed $1 million salary for 2016, and a $7.75 million base salary in 2017. The 2017 salary is guaranteed for injury at signing, and it becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2017 waiver period.

Baldwin will earn a salary of $8.25 million for 2018, $4.5 million of which is guaranteed for injury at signing. The $4.5 million becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2018 waiver period.

Baldwin has a non-guaranteed base salary of $9.25 million in 2018, and a non-guaranteed base salary of $10.25 million in 2019.

He also can earn per-game roster bonuses totaling $500,000 in 2016, $500,000 in 2017, $750,000 in 2018, and $750,000 in 2019. In all, $2.5 million is tied to his ability to suit up and play.

It adds up to a base five-year value of $47.5 million ($9.5 million average). Up to $50 million is available when considering per-game roster bonuses. With Baldwin already due to make $4.8 million in 2016 under his prior deal, he has a new-money average of $10.675 million per year on the base amount.

Also, $12 million is fully guaranteed, as a practical matter, at signing. Another $12.25 million is guaranteed for injury only at signing.

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The full Andrew Luck contract

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 02:   Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts yells to his team during their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 2, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck would have made $16.155 million in 2016, the last year of his rookie deal. He traded it in for a six-year, $140 million contract.

But those broad numbers never tell the whole story, unless and until a contract like that is fully guaranteed.  PFT has obtained a copy of the Luck’s entire contract, and here’s the breakdown:

1. Signing bonus of $32 million, with $18 million paid in the next 10 days and the remaining $14 million paid on March 31, 2017;

2. Base salary of $12 million in 2016, fully guaranteed at signing;

3. $3 million roster bonus earned on the fifth day of the 2017 league year and paid on March 20, 2017, which is guaranteed for skill and injury, and conditionally guaranteed for salary cap;

4. $3 million roster bonus earned on the fifth day of the 2017 league year and paid on September 18, 2017, which is guaranteed for injury only at signing;

5. $7 million base salary for 2017, guaranteed for injury only at signing and fully guaranteed as of the fifth day of the 2017 league year;

6. $3 million roster bonus earned on the fifth day of the 2018 league year and paid on March 20, 2018, which is guaranteed for injury at signing and fully guaranteed as of the fifth day of the 2017 league year;

7. $3 million roster bonus earned on the fifth day of the 2018 league year and paid on September 18, 2018, which is guaranteed for injury only at signing;

8. $12 million base salary for 2018, which is guaranteed for injury only at signing but which becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2018 league year;

9. $6 million roster bonus earned on the fifth day of the 2019 league year and paid on March 18, 2019, which is guaranteed for injury at signing and fully guaranteed as of the fifth day of the 2018 league year;

10. $6 million roster bonus earned on the fifth day of the 2019 league year and paid on September 17, 2019, which is guaranteed for injury at signing;

11. $9.125 million base salary for 2019, non-guaranteed;

12. $11 million roster bonus due on the third day of the 2020 league year, with half paid on September 15, 2020 and the other half paid on December 15, 2020;

13. $11 million base salary for 2020, non-guaranteed;

14. $10 million roster bonus due on the fifth day of the 2021 league year, with half paid on September 14, 2021 and the other half paid on December 14, 2020; and

15. $11 million base salary for 2021, non-guaranteed.

That’s a total of six years, $139.125 million, with $44 million fully guaranteed at signing. Another $16 million becomes fully guaranteed, as a practical matter, as of the fifth day of the 2017 league year.

At signing, $87 million is guaranteed for injury.

The cash flow breaks down like this: $44 million in 2017; $57 million through 2018; $75 million through 2018; $96.125 million through 2019; $118.125 million through 2020; $139.125 million through 2021.

It’s an average value of $23.1875 million per year, with $24.594 million per year in so-called “new money.”

The cap numbers are: (1) $18.4 million in 2016; (2) $19.4 million in 2017; (3) $24.4 million in 2018; (4) $27.525 million in 2019; (5) $28.4 million in 2020; and (6) $21 million in 2021.

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Luck gets $44 million fully guaranteed at signing

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 27:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts throws a pass during the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on September 27, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

It was a matter of when, not if, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck would get a really big contract.

That day was Wednesday.

Per a source, Luck got a $32 million signing bonus on the extension that keeps him with the Colts through 2021. With his 2016 base salary set to be $12 million, Luck gets $44 million fully guaranteed at signing.

Colts Owner Jim Irsay announced the deal at $140 million over six years. That means Luck will be the league’s highest-paid player and will make an average of about $23.3 million per year over the duration of the contract.

Luck said in a team statement he was “thrilled and excited” to get the deal done.

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With Andrew Luck deal, Colts have their offensive core for long haul

Indianapolis Colts v New York Giants Getty Images

The Colts had already pledged their future to Andrew Luck, by virtue of moves they made well before today’s mega-deal for their quarterback.

But now that he’s taken care of, the bulk of their key offensive personnel is under contract for years to come.

As noted by Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star, with Luck signed through 2021, the Colts have five key starters on offense locked up through at least the 2019 season.

With wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (five years, $65 million) and left tackle Antony Castonzo (four years, $42 million) taken care of last fall, tight end Dwayne Allen (four years, $29.4 million) getting his in March and drafting center Ryan Kelly in the first round this year (giving them the option for 2020 on his deal), the Colts have what could be the guts of a very good offense for years to come.

They also have the 2019 option for 2015 first-round wide receiver Phillip Dorsett in their pockets, though it’s unclear if they’ll want to use that, since Dorsett hasn’t proven himself quite yet. But he has time, because everything else is in place.

It’s not unlike the plan former Colts General Manager Bill Polian used with Peyton Manning there, going all-in on one side of the ball to protect the rare commodity at quarterback.

Of course, there are still plenty of issues for the Colts, specifically on defense, and finding three other offensive linemen to keep Luck upright and throwing.

But they now have a certainty on offense, and that should keep them competitive in what is becoming an improved division for the foreseeable future.

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Browns ink Nassib, finish draft class signings

STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 31:  Carl Nassib #95 of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrates with Garrett Sickels #90 after a sack in the second half during the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini on October 31, 2015 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns announced Wednesday that third-round defensive end Carl Nassib has signed his rookie contract.

The Browns have now signed all 14 of their 2016 draft picks.

Nassib started his Penn State career as a walk-on and was just a one-year starter, but he was good enough in that one season last fall to win the Lombardi Award, Hendricks Award, Lott IMPACT Trophy and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Nassib led the NCAA last season with 15.5 sacks and six forced fumbles.

The Browns selected Nassib with pick No. 65 in April. His brother, Ryan, is a backup quarterback for the Giants.

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Irsay: Luck’s deal worth $140 million over six years

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwezztvkmtjjyzq0nja0zta2odvlmdljztuwnjlmzjji AP

The Colts and quarterback Andrew Luck managed to conceal from the media Luck’s new deal until it was announced by owner Jim Irsay. They won’t be able to conceal every dollar and cent paid to Luck.

Inevitably, the contract will be filed with the NFL and the NFL Players Association, and the details will be leaked not by the Colts or Luck’s camp but by someone with routine access to all player contract.

The key factors to assess will be the signing bonus, the full guarantee at signing, and the cash flow over the first three years.

For now, the total value has been announced, also by Irsay: Six years, $140 million. That’s an average in total value of $23.3 million and a “new money” average of $24.7 million.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that $87 million is guaranteed, but it’s highly, highly, highly (did I say highly?) unlikely that $87 million is fully guaranteed at signing. At best, Luck has $87 million guaranteed for injury.

The deal is solid, but hardly the “shocking” transaction Irsay once promised. The only real surprise is that Luck didn’t get to $25 million per year in total value, which given cap growth over the past few years is where the top value for quarterback deals should be.

Luck also wasn’t able to tie his salary in the out years to cap growth (it’s unclear if his agents even tried), meaning that at some point over the next six years, if the cap keeps spiking, the deal won’t look nearly as good as it does now.

Bottom line? Luck didn’t push for every penny he could have gotten, trading six years and $140 million for the $114 million or so he could have made by going year to year under the franchise tag through 2019.

For now, the biggest question is when, as a practical matter, he’ll be a year-to-year deal with the Colts — and how much he’ll pocket before he gets to that point.

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Andrew Luck “thankful” for trust Colts have shown him

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptzlowq1nwiynwi3ntezzgu0ztyxzmjiyjfmnmi1zdy1 AP

The full financial details of the extension that quarterback Andrew Luck signed with the Colts on Wednesday haven’t come to light yet, but it appears to be as big a deal as expected.

According to multiple reports, Luck is now the highest-paid player in the entire league with Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reporting that he stands to make $75 million over the first three years of a deal that will run through the 2021 season. That’s a pretty good payday and one that left Luck feeling grateful to owner Jim Irsay and the rest of the organization for the commitment they made to him.

“I am thrilled and excited to continue with this great organization,” Luck said, via the team. “I am thankful to the Irsay family and Mr. Irsay for providing me with this great opportunity and the trust that they’ve shown in me. I can’t wait for this season to start.”

Luck and the Colts hope that this season will play out in a better way than 2015, when Luck missed nine games because of injury and the Colts missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

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Colts get Luck signed through 2021

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 08:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts throws the ball during the game against the Denver Broncos at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

The first news of an Andrew Luck contract extension comes from someone who would figure to know.

Colts Owner Jim Irsay tweeted Wednesday afternoon that “Andrew has signed through 2021.”

Irsay spoke earlier this year about ideally getting an extension for the team’s franchise quarterback finished before July 4, and both sides can now celebrate accordingly.

There are no numbers attached to early reports regarding the deal, but the deal was likely to make Luck the league’s highest-paid quarterback.

Luck was limited to seven games last season by injury but in each of his first three seasons led the Colts to records of and the playoffs.

The No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, Luck has thrown 101 career touchdown passes and has twice posted seasons of more than 4,300 passing yards.

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Buddy Ryan’s philosophy: Quarterbacks must be punished

25 AUG 1994:  ARIZONA CARDINALS HEAD COACH BUDDY RYAN GIVES ORDERS FROM THE SIDELINES DURING THE CARDINALS 30-21 LOSS TO THE DENVER BRONCOS AT MILE HIGH STADIUM IN DENVER, COLORADO. Mandatory Credit: Tim Defrisco/ALLSPORT Getty Images

Buddy Ryan coached in the NFL at a different time, a time when coaches who put bounties on opposing players were labeled tough guys, not banished from the NFL. A quote from Ryan’s defensive playbook encapsulates that well.

Ryan, who died on Tuesday at the age of 85, wrote in his playbook that hitting the other team’s quarterback and hitting him hard was a fundamental part of playing defense.

“A quarterback has never completed a pass when he was flat on his back,” Ryan wrote, via Chris B. Brown. “We must hit the QB hard and often. QBs are overpaid, overrated, pompous bastards and must be punished. Great pass coverage is a direct result of a great pass rush, and a great pass rush is simply a relentless desire to get to the QB. Never miss an opportunity to punish the opponent. We must dominate and intimidate the enemy. If the opponent is worried about you, he is not thinking about carrying out his offensive assignment. If you play aggressive, physical, and smart–you cannot be beaten.”

That’s not the kind of football the NFL likes to promote in 2016. But it’s the kind of football that Buddy Ryan coached in the NFL for three decades.

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Cardell Hayes’ lawyer argues Will Smith’s killing shouldn’t be tried during NFL season

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 28:   Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints dances after a big play against the New York Giants at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 28, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Saints defeated the Giants 49 to 24.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

A trial date of September 20 has been set in New Orleans to determine the fate of Cardell Hayes, who is charged with second-degree murder for shooting and killing former Saints defensive end Will Smith earlier this year.

John Fuller, one of Hayes’ lawyers, would like to see the start date for that trial changed. Fuller argued in an Orleans Parish court on Wednesday that “it’s only fair” to avoid trying his client during football season because the timing could bias a jury against Hayes.

District Judge Camille Buras denied the request, although she said she would consider a continuance for other reasons.

“I do not mind continuances when it’s based on reasons, either for complexity reasons or forensic issues that are outstanding,” Buras said, via the New Orleans Advocate. “I cannot in good conscience say I’m going to continue the case because it’s football season.”

Hayes shot Smith and Smith’s wife — he faces an attempted murder charge as well — after an argument resulted from Hayes’ car bumping theirs from behind on April 9. Hayes has argued self-defense and his attorneys have tried unsuccessfully to get video footage from bars and restaurants the Smiths visited before the shooting after toxicology reports found Smith’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit.

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Report: Johnny Manziel plans to go “completely sober” — Friday

johnny_manziel.vadapt.664.high.52 Getty Images

Maybe Johnny Manziel is taking seriously all the good advice people keep giving him to clean up his act.

At least he says he plans to, after this one sweet kegger he’s throwing in Mexico.

Manziel told TMZ that he’s “going completely sober starting July 1st.”

Of course, that gives him between now and Friday to get it all out of his system, and it seems like plenty of people with him aren’t taking the same pledge. TMZ has photos of a woman holding what appears to be an illicit substance, but Manziel said the drugs weren’t his and he didn’t know who the woman was.

That’s a perfect recipe for sobriety, of course. Just like giving yourself time for one last big blowout before becoming an adult.

And while he can promise to eat right, give up drinking and start “training like crazy,” Manziel’s actions have gotten us to the point where no one should put much stock in his words. The fact he was willing to taunt his father in one of his latest social media posts should tell us all we need to know.

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