Mike Florio takes tweets and calls from PFT Planet and discusses if Adrian Peterson is in the conversation for best running back the NFL has ever seen, who will take a chance on Michael Vick in 2013, if Tim Tebow will ever get a starting gig, and more.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Peterson the best of all time?
As if Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel hadn’t already given the team more than enough reasons to never trust him again, here’s another. According to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, Manziel lied to the Browns about the circumstances surrounding the photos that surfaced following his bye-week excursion to Texas.
Per Glazer, Manziel not only told the team that the photos weren’t taken over the weekend but also recruited others to vouch for the falsehood.
The news underscores the fact that Manziel simply isn’t ready to be a full-time NFL starter, and perhaps never will be. Apart from the medical condition that resulted in a 10-week stay in rehab, Manziel has shown a troubling lack of maturity and self-awareness.
After getting the starting job for the rest of the season, with a chance to parlay that six-game audition into the full-time gig for 2016 and perhaps beyond, Manziel didn’t dedicate himself to doing everything he could to becoming the best quarterback he could be. (Manziel should read Peter King’s article on Carson Palmer’s approach to absorbing a game plan for an example of the level of commitment required.) Instead, Manziel opted to take a break, going to a place where he knew alcohol would be unavoidable, putting himself in position to be photographed partying, and then concocting a flimsy fabrication to cover it all up.
So, basically, Manziel squandered in one weekend whatever trust he had rebuilt with the team following his disastrous rookie season. Coach Mike Pettine would be foolish to trust Manziel a third time, and at this point the only reason to keep Manziel around is to eventually try to unload him onto Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for a draft pick or two.
It’s official, sort of.
The Buccaneers have received notice that linebacker Kwon Alexander has been suspended for four game for violating the league’s PED policy, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. The suspension is subject to appeal, and Alexander has five days to file the paperwork challenging the outcome.
Stroud reports that Alexander will play Sunday in Indianapolis. The rookie likewise will be permitted to keep playing until his appeal is resolved.
Although key players on both teams were listed as questionable on the Thanksgiving injury report, the Eagles’ and Lions’ inactives were exactly as expected.
Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford is inactive today in Detroit, meaning Mark Sanchez will start for the second straight week. The Eagles will have left tackle Jason Peters and tight end Jason Kelce, both of whom were listed as questionable as well.
The Lions’ inactive are defensive tackle Gabe Wright, receiver T.J. Jones, offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle, offensive tackle Corey Robinson, defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo, safety Isaiah Johnson and tight end Tim Wright.
The Eagles’ inactives are Bradford, running back Ryan Mathews, receiver Jonathan Krause, cornerback Denzel Rice, offensive lineman Tanner Hawkinson, tight end Zach Ertz and defensive end Brandon Bair.
There’s a perception that Patriots coach Bill Belichick never has anything to say at his press conferences, primarily because the regular examples of Belichick not having anything to say at his press conferences become the sound bites from those press conferences. (Except when he’s making My Cousin Vinny references.)
But Belichick often provides lengthy, instructive answers to good questions about football, showing that he’s not generally disinclined to talk, but that he merely is reluctant to talk in response to questions that he deems to be bad or uninteresting.
On Thursday, Belichick added a finally comment at the end of his press conference, not in response to any specific question.
“I’ll jump in there and just wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving,” Belichick said. “I appreciate the professional way that this group covers us and being the conduit of information from the team to the fans. We have great fan support.
“Today is also a day to be recognized with the high school football level with so many traditional and rivalry games taking place. Having been at high school and played in those games myself, we always had a traditional Thanksgiving Day game between Annapolis and Severna Park, and I know how important that was to the teams, the families and really the whole school body that supported us. It’s such a good traditional way to capture and bring a lot of things together — family, community, friendship — and do it in a competitive way but also in a way that bonds friendship and community support. And just recognizing the high schools, the great job the coaches and those programs do to develop players that eventually become our players and how impactful they are to our players.
“When I talk to players at the [scouting] combine in the spring and so forth usually the two most influential people for kids are their parents or in some cases one parent and then the high school football coach or maybe a junior high school football coach — somebody who mentored them along the way or kind of helped them develop as young men. All of us who have had that opportunity have certainly gained from it and taken from it. So just reaching out to them with our level of appreciation for what they do for kids that we eventually see at this level and for all the support that the parents and the families and the high schools gives those teams and those players and how it brings everybody together. And again, thanks to all of you for taking time on your Thanksgiving morning to accommodate us, and we look forward to seeing you out in Denver. Happy Thanksgiving.”
It’s a rare public glimpse of the human side of Belichick, which often is kept within the hard shell of a lifelong football coach who has been involved in the game since a very early age, helping his father, Steve, break down film at the Naval Academy. Belichick usually stays true to the job, but every once in a while we get a reminder of the fact that there’s more to him than the gruff, stern, abrupt, and aloof persona he adopts when in full-blown coaching mode.
When listing assistant coaches who could be NFL head coaches in 2016, names like Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels sit near the top of the stack. One name has yet to crack the assistant coach “A” list.
Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula.
In early 2014, PFT made the case for Shula to be considered for the vacancy in Washington, given his work with Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Carolina had just finished a 12-4 campaign, with the 11-1 finish after a 1-3 start sparked in large part by Shula’s decision to scour Newton’s film from Auburn in search of plays and concepts that would work.
Shula didn’t get any sniffs then, he wasn’t mentioned last year after a late-season surge carried the Panthers to a second straight NFC South title, and his name has come up recently only in connection with the University of Miami vacancy.
It’s unclear why Shula, who has helped transform a spread-offense, one-read, simplistic-playbook college quarterback into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, hasn’t gotten more attention. His father, Don, was one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. Mike Shula’s brother, David, was one of the worst of the last 25 years. And Mike had a shot with Alabama, but he was fired — and he was followed by Nick Saban, who took the program back to its houndstooth heights.
Still, there’s a fundamental difference between coaching in college and coaching in the NFL. The pro game places a major premium on quarterback play, and with so many college quarterbacks not ready for the NFL, a guy who has accomplished what so few coaches can should at least be getting talked about as an NFL head coach.
Shula’s next chance to make a name for himself while carrying one of the most recognizable names in football comes later today, when the Panthers square off against the Cowboys. In past years, players like Randy Moss and Robert Griffin III have used that spot for coming-out parties.
This year, if/when (when) Newton is throwing touchdown passes and dancing in the end zone, maybe someone who will be looking for a head coach will at least make a note of Shula’s role in that process.
When Panthers fans gather around their televisions this afternoon to watch their 10-0 team, there are many people for whom they should be thankful.
But one of the unheralded architects of their current success is a guy they fired over three years ago.
Fourteen of the 53 players on the Panthers roster were acquired by former General Manager Marty Hurney, before he was fired on Oct. 22, 2012. And while that’s just over a quarter of the team, he’s responsible for most of their biggest stars.
Their offense has been built from the inside out with his draft picks, with quarterback Cam Newton, center Ryan Kalil and running back Jonathan Stewart. Throw in trade acquisition Greg Olsen and free agent fullback Mike Tolbert, and the guts of their offense have been in place for years.
The rest of his guys on the roster include backup quarterback Derek Anderson, punter Brad Nortman, safety Colin Jones, long snapper J.J. Jansen and defensive tackle Dwan Edwards. Three other players he acquired (Amini Silatolu, Nate Chandler and Frank Alexander) are on injured reserve.
That’s not to say current G.M. Dave Gettleman hasn’t done a good job building a championship-level roster, he has with good drafting and strategic forays into free agency. Gettleman’s also had to do it while digging out from salary cap problems, and those get pinned on the guy he replaced. But with time to look back on the glut of deals Hurney signed in 2011, it’s worth wondering how much of that cap consequence might have been avoided if owner Jerry Richardson would have let him extend some of those players before the lockout. Instead, Richardson effectively handcuffed his own roster to prove a larger labor point, at a time he was helping Roger Goodell negotiate a new CBA.
But Hurney’s best move might have been hiring first-time head coach Ron Rivera, and allowing him to develop. Rivera looked like a guy in over his head at the time Hurney was fired (he was 7-15 at that point), but has grown into a legitimate coach of the year candidate, having won 14 straight regular season games with a style built on being steady.
The greater point might be that the Panthers have allowed such a strong core of players and coaches to grow together, and the three years of stability have as much to do with their success as the individual identities of the players or coaches.
But the guy who put them there deserves at least a little credit too.
On Thanksgiving night, the Chicago Bears will play the role (the Packers hope) of the Washington Generals for the Brett Favre Jersey Retirement Celebration. Ninety years ago on Thanksgiving, the Bears were the main event for a Thanksgiving Day slate of games that helped give pro football early legitimacy.
As noted by the 2015 Official NFL Record & Fact Book, Harold “Red” Grange made his debut with the Bears on Thanksgiving in 1925, sparking what then was the largest crowd in pro football history — 36,000 — to show up for what turned out to be a scoreless tie between the Bears and the Chicago Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
At a time when college football had much greater credibility and popularity than the pro game, the arrival of Grange only days after the end of his college career gave the professional football a major boost.
Not long after that Thanksgiving, the Bears played eight games in 12 days, in St. Louis, Philadelphia, New York, Washington, Boston, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Chicago. And that Thanksgiving attendance record didn’t last long; after drawing 36,000 for the game against the Cardinals, the Bears and Halas attracted 73,000 to the Polo Grounds for a game against the Giants.
The game has changed dramatically since then, but Thanksgiving is the ideal time to reflect on the rich history of the NFL, which started playing Thanksgiving Day games in 1920 with a slate of six contests: the Akron Pros against the Canton Bulldogs, the Decatur Staleys (which became the Chicago Bears) against the Chicago Tigers, the Elyria Athletics against the Columbus Panhandles, the Dayton Triangles against the Detroit Heralds, the Chicago Boosters against the Hammond Pros, and the All-Tonawanda versus the Rochester Jeffersons.
Nearly a century later, it’ll be the Philadelphia Eagles at the Detroit Lions, the Carolina Panthers at the Dallas Cowboys, and Red Grange’s Bears at Brett Favre’s Packers on Thanksgiving 2015. Enjoy the day, appreciate the gifts you have, and get ready for three helpings of the greatest game in the world.
In Week 11’s game against the Jaguars, the Titans took a third quarter lead when quarterback Marcus Mariota kept the ball on a read-option and sprinted 23 yards for a touchdown.
The Jags would rally to win the game in the fourth quarter, but the sight of Mariota keeping the ball and hurting a defense with his feet is one that interim coach Mike Mularkey would like to see more of in the future. Mariota ran the ball 11 times in his first six starts of the year, but has 10 rushes in the last two weeks as Mularkey has put more emphasis on that aspect of Mariota’s game.
“We’re tinkering a little more with his running ability,” Mularkey said, via the Tennessean. “As he’s gotten healthier, we’ve put more things in there that has given him the [ability to] run. It doesn’t mean he’s going to, but it gives him the opportunity to run. … I like those plays because it keeps defenses honest. It helps the run game. One thing he is trying to do — and I’m adamant about — is what he does after he hands the ball off. If he can hold somebody for any type of time, even for a split second, it’s a guy that’s not going to be in on the play — whether that’s a guy in the secondary or a safety [wondering] ‘Does he have it or doesn’t he?'”
Mariota’s running ability was put to good use in college, but the Titans emphasized pocket passing as Mariota made the transition to the NFL during the offseason and preseason. He’s done well on that front and adding something else for defenses to think about when facing the Titans should be to his benefit well beyond the final weeks of this season.
Nearly four years ago, the Rams announced that they would play one game per year over three years in London. The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission quickly informed the Rams that, under the terms of their lease to play games in the Edward Jones Dome, the Rams couldn’t play games anywhere but there. The two sides eventually worked out a deal to allow the Rams to play a single game in London.
Now, the Rams are scheduled to play another game in London. And the CVC promptly informed the Rams that, if they don’t move away from St. Louis, they can’t move one of the games away from St. Louis.
“We recently became aware that the NFL has selected the Rams to play in London during the 2016 football season, and have designated them the ‘home’ team,” the CVC said in a statement issued Wednesday, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “The Rams are on a year-to year lease and have until Jan. 28, 2016 to inform us if they will play the 2016 season at the Edward Jones Dome. We have had no formal discussions with the Rams about their 2016 intentions or a London game in 2016, but if they do play in the Dome in 2016, the terms of the lease remain in effect and provides that all Rams NFL home games (other than preseason) will be played at the Facilities.”
It seems like a gratuitous agitation of the Rams by the CVC, given that the Rams have the right to leave St. Louis after this year — if of course the NFL lets them. The CVC could be banking on indications that either the Rams will lose their current tug-of-whereabouts with the Chargers or that the NFL will kick the relocation can down the road for a year.
Regardless, it’s a strange situation in St. Louis, with a city that could soon lose all Rams games after this season making a big stink out of the possibility of losing only one next season.
It looked like the Giants were going to get tight end Larry Donnell back in the lineup this week when he practiced with the team upon returning from the bye week on Monday.
That feeling has changed after an MRI on his injured neck, however. Donnell sat out of practice on Wednesday after getting the results of the test and said that he and doctors are still working to figure out exactly what’s wrong with his neck.
“We thought it was just spasms and a strain,” Donnell said, via the New York Daily News. “I feel fine now, but I mean, obviously something is wrong. So we’ve just got to figure it out and see what the process is. I thought I’d be OK by now. The plan was to go into the bye and it would be 100%. But it’s not.”
Christian Ponder got a phone call on Tuesday. By Wednesday, he was a member of the Denver Broncos.
“I’ve been in Phoenix — we live there for the offseason — just working out, waiting for the call to come and fortunately it did yesterday when I was shopping for groceries for Thanksgiving,” Ponder told reporters on Wednesday. “I had to drop everything and get on a flight.”
Ponder gladly left home abruptly for the opportunity to return to the NFL. The team that called him made it a bonus.
“I grew up a Broncos fan, a John Elway fan,” Ponder said. “I was No. 7 [in] little league baseball through college and four years in Minnesota because of that. I’m excited to be here.”
Ponder spent four years with the Vikings as a first-round pick in 2011. He joined the Raiders in the offseason, but he was cut before the regular season began. Those experiences could help him pick up the offense in Denver.
“I have a little bit of background with this kind of offense and what I ran with [Raiders Offensive Coordinator Bill] Musgrave in Minnesota and Oakland,” Ponder said. “There is a little different verbiage, but hopefully in a week or so, I’ll start getting stuff down, maybe shorter than that. I’m going to put in the time and the effort to do it as quick as possible.”
“[W]e’re sitting here with a guy who has one start in this league and a kid who doesn’t have a play,” coach Gary Kubiak told reporters on Wednesday. “Me and [G.M.] John [Elway] started thinking about the concern if something happened. Good that Christian was out there. . . . He came in, worked out well. Hopefully we can catch him up a little bit.”
For now, Siemian will be the backup to Osweiler. Eventually, Ponder could take the spot.
Of course, eventually, Ponder also could be back in Phoenix buying Christmas presents, too. If/when Manning is healthy, there’s no way the Broncos will carry four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.
The pregame pep-talk Ray Lewis gave the Bills last week didn’t work.
The Patriots are going to have to rely on their defense, and that might be OK.
The Steelers are nearly winless in Seattle.
The Colts are taking a look at new options with 12 guys on the injury report.
For the Titans, even home games feel like road games.
The Chiefs are still running well, despite losing their best runner.
Chargers coach Mike McCoy walked out of his press conference yesterday.
Stopping the run will be a priority for the Eagles today.
Washington is dealing with communication issues because of change in the middle of the line.
The Bears have shown more progress than perhaps their record would indicate.
The Lions are hoping they can turn recent wins into a longer streak.
The weather might be the only thing to dampen the Packers’ festive night.
The Vikings are playing solid defense, and they won’t sacrifice that for more turnovers.
The Panthers appear covered at long snapper today.
Saints coach Sean Payton said he couldn’t continue the “status quo” with former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
The Cardinals are depending on young players, and they’re coming through.
The Rams game in London next year would violate their stadium lease in St. Louis, if they’re there.
The failure of anyone to notice and react to Rams quarterback Case Keenum suffering a concussion during last Sunday’s game against the Ravens has led to a review of the league’s procedures for dealing with head injuries and a reminder to the league’s trainers that they’re supposed to react to such injuries in a timelier fashion than the Rams did.
While that work is going on, Keenum is working to return to the field for the team’s Week 12 game against the Bengals. He took a step toward doing that on Wednesday when he was a limited participant in practice. Coach Jeff Fisher said earlier this week that Keenum will start over Nick Foles if he’s cleared medically.
“He’s doing well,” Fisher said, via ESPN.com. “He’s still in the protocol, so we couldn’t completely release him to full practice. But, he got under center. He split the reps with Nick and he felt pretty good. We’ll know better on Friday. Hopefully, he’ll be released and he’ll be able to play.”
Defensive end Robert Quinn remained out of practice with the hip and back injuries that kept him from playing against the Ravens. Cornerback Trumaine Johnson also sat out practice with a thigh injury.
The Jets are mired in a rut after losing four of their last five games, leading their quarterback to try shaving to see if it can get the team pointed back in the right direction.
It’s unlikely that Ryan Fitzpatrick’s follicle management will have much impact on the field, however, and it is also looking unlikely that cornerback Darrelle Revis will be around this Sunday to help the team against the Dolphins. Revis suffered a concussion in last Sunday’s loss to the Texans and coach Todd Bowles didn’t express much confidence that he’d recover in time for this weekend.
Revis hasn’t progressed to the point that he’s allowed to attend meetings with the team, which meant he stayed home on Wednesday and has several steps of the concussion protocol to pass before there’s any chance he’ll be in the lineup.
“We’re ready to play without him, but if he comes back it will be a bonus,” Bowles said, via the New York Post. “We’ll see later in the week. We’re preparing to play without him.”
Center Nick Mangold also missed practice after getting stitches in his right hand on Sunday. The injury interferes with Mangold’s ability to snap the ball, which is the kind of stumbling block that centers struggle to overcome.
We have a chance at creating a new Thanksgiving tradition today, as long as we can get Mark Sanchez to butt-fumble again.
Via Ian Rapoport and teammate Albert Breer of the NFL Network (see, today’s about sharing with family), the Eagles will in fact start Sanchez at quarterback today against the Lions.
That was expected, as Sam Bradford was questionable with a concussion and shoulder problems, and Sanchez has taken the bulk of the work this week.
But it still brings back memories of what wasn’t Sanchez’s finest moment with the Jets, but perhaps the most illustrative, his Thanksgiving 2012 play against the Patriots when he ran smack-dab into the backside of guard Brandon Moore and coughed up the ball which was returned for a touchdown by Patriots safety Steve Gregory.
Whether that kind of magic can ever be duplicated is something we’ll have to tune in to see, but it’s Thanksgiving so anything is possible.