The PFT guys take a look at some of the biggest storylines coming from the Ravens at Broncos AFC divisional matchup. Will the cold weather affect Peyton Manning?This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Ravens at Broncos storylines
The 49ers have been blown out by the Seahawks in the last two games between the teams.
Both of those games were played in Seattle and their Week 14 tilt will be at Candlestick, where the 49ers beat the Seahawks last season. Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area will join Mike Florio on Wednesday’s PFT Live to discuss how much of a difference that will make in the final result. They’ll also talk about the 49ers offense and where quarterback Colin Kaepernick stands near the end of his first full year as a starter.
Whether he wins or loses on Sunday, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh will not see his job security altered. The same isn’t true of some other members of the coaching fraternity, however, and Florio will discuss which coaches fall into the latter category during the program.
It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it live by clicking right here.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin wants to pay his $100,000 fine and move on.
Tomlin, who was fined $100,000 by the NFL for standing on the field in the path of Ravens kickoff returner Jacoby Jones on Thanksgiving, issued a statement confirming that he accepts the punishment (not that he had much of a choice) and adding that he doesn’t want to talk about it any longer.
“As I stated yesterday, I take full responsibility for my actions, and I apologize for causing negative attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. I accept the penalty that I received. I will no longer address this issue as I am preparing for an important game this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins,” Tomlin said.
It’s easy to see why Tomlin doesn’t want to talk about the issue any longer, although he’s sure to be questioned about it for at least several more months, as the NFL has announced that it will also consider stripping draft choices from the Steelers as part of Tomlin’s punishment. Forfeiture of draft picks will make this a story in the NFL long after Tomlin wants to move on.
The Browns have two healthy quarterbacks right now, neither of whom have taken a snap for the team in a game as both have been added to the roster in the last two weeks.
Such a state of affairs makes it easy to understand why Browns coach Rob Chudzinski is keeping his options open at quarterback as long as he possibly can. Chudzinski said Wednesday that Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden are still waiting to get cleared for returns to practice by doctors after suffering concussions, leaving Caleb Hanie and Alex Tanney to take first team reps at practice on Wednesday.
Because Chudzinski hasn’t seen either player in action, he said at his press conference, via several Browns beat writers, that he will wait until Friday at the earliest before naming a starter for the game against the Patriots. Chudzinski said he could take it all the way to Sunday, especially if it looks like one or both of the experienced Browns quarterbacks will be able to play.
It’s usually gamesmanship when a coach won’t name a starting quarterback during the week before a game. Chudzinski’s being honest in this case, though, because there’s no advantage to gain with any of the four options on the roster.
Mike Tomlin stepping onto the field into the path of Ravens kickoff returner Jacoby Jones was a costly mistake — costly to Tomlin now, and possibly costly to the Steelers come draft time.
The NFL has fined Tomlin $100,000 for interfering with a play in progress. And the NFL is still weighing whether to dock draft picks from the Steelers.
The league’s announcement said that “because the conduct affected a play on the field, a modification or forfeiture of draft choices will be considered after the final order of the 2014 draft has been determined.”
NFL Executive V.P. of Football Operations Ray Anderson made the decision.
The NFL also said that the Steelers should have been given a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. The league has not said what actions will be taken against the officials who failed to call that penalty, even though replays show one official was just feet away from Tomlin, and at least one other official had a clear view of the penalty.
There’s no word from the league about the severity of the draft penalties. It’s also not clear whether the Steelers would merely be stripped of a pick, or whether the league would give a Pittsburgh pick to Baltimore as compensation for a rules violation that affected the Ravens.
For the fourth time this season, a member of the Broncos is the AFC’s offensive player of the week.
Wide receiver Eric Decker joins quarterback Peyton Manning and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas as winners of the conference’s weekly honors. Manning has won it twice this season, but he needed to spread out the five touchdown passes he threw in a 35-28 win over the Chiefs if he wanted to beat out Decker.
Decker caught four of those scores last Sunday as the Broncos went to him with great success all over the field. He caught deep balls of 41 and 42 yards and he caught a touchdown pass from the one-yard line on his way to eight catches for 174 yards on the day.
The four touchdowns were a franchise record and the 174 yards are a new career best for Decker, who had never been named offensive player of the week before this week.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson shredded the Saints’ defense all night on Monday, so it’s no surprise that he’s been named the NFC offensive player of the week.
Wilson completed 22 of 30 passes for 310 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions, and also ran for 47 yards, as the Seahawks breezed past the Saints. It was an impressive performance by the entire team, and Wilson was the man leading the way
Now the question is whether Wilson, in just his second season after the Seahawks chose him in the third round of the 2013 NFL draft, is ready to lead the Seahawks to a championship. Right now, Seattle is the favorite to win it all.
One of the amazing things to consider, as we look at all Wilson has done in his first two seasons, is that the Seahawks easily could have missed him. If some other team had looked past his short stature and seen his big talent, maybe he’d be leading some other team toward the playoffs. Or maybe he wouldn’t be as good in another system. Or maybe he’d be languishing on the bench. (That’s definitely where he’d be if the Broncos had chosen Wilson instead of Brock Osweiler in the second round last year.)
Fortunately for the Seahawks, they got their man. And their man is one of the best players in the NFL.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones may not be a master of NFL personnel, but he has become a master of the obvious.
His team stinks in December, and he knows it needs to improve.
But the comments from his most recent twice-weekly appearance on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas unfairly have been characterized by some as Jones calling out quarterback Tony Romo. Consideration of the full remarks shows that Jones actually was calling out his defense.
“We’ve always known that what they remember is what you do in December,” Jones said initially on the topic of his teams struggles down the stretch. “And I say that with a smile on my face. But this is usually — hopefully — when you’ve got a team far enough along in the standings that what you do here is your season. And this is really no exception at all.”
The mischaracterization of Jones’ remarks likely traces to his response to a question about Romo’s 11-15 record in December.
“I think it’s real and I don’t mean to be trite, but you can probably tie that to why we have had disappointments in December,” Jones said. “It’s hard to build up enough edge to play at that level in December, so you’d better have your arrow going up rather than going down.”
But that’s the closest Jones came to questioning Romo’s performance. Actually, Jones thereafter was careful to point out that Romo has played very well in December. Jones said that the defense has let the team down in the season’s final month.
On that point, Jones specifically mentioned his most recent former defensive coordinator. You know, the one whose new team kicked the Cowboys’ collective butts not that long ago.
“I think when I look at last year there’s no question, I’m gonna talk about Rob Ryan a minute, there’s no question we were rendered almost really helpless as the last part of the season came along to really be what we wanted to be defensively,” Jones said. “We’re not that way this year.”
So while it makes for a more compelling story (and attracts more click-click-clicks) to say that Jones called out Romo, that simply didn’t happen.
The NFL announced Tuck as the honoree on Wednesday and the choice doesn’t come as much of a shock. The Giants and Redskins may have been playing out the string on Sunday night, but four sacks still wind up catching the eye when it comes to things like determining the best defensive performer of the week.
What will they mean for Tuck’s contract in 2014? Tuck and the team have not started talking about a contract ahead of what is shaping up as a transformative offseason for the Giants, leaving Tuck with nothing more than a plan to keep playing.
“Oh, I’m definitely not retiring. I definitely will continue to play,” Tuck said, via the Newark Star-Ledger. “My body feels great. I definitely have a huge passion for the game, and we’ll see where everything stacks up at the end of the year.”
Four more weeks of strong production won’t hurt Tuck’s contract chances with the Giants or anywhere else, but a slow finish will only serve to remind potential suitors of how little Tuck was able to accomplish before facing a bad Redskins team in Week 13.
Bills running back C.J, Spiller said last week that he thought he was getting back to his old self and then backed that up by running for 149 yards in a loss to the Falcons.
That seems to have made the Bills feel okay with having fewer veteran options behind him on the roster. The team announced Wednesday that running back Tashard Choice has been released.
Choice had 35 carries for 126 yards in 12 games this season and has played in 30 games for the Bills over the past three seasons as a reserve in the backfield. The 2008 Cowboys fourth-round pick has also played for the Redskins during his NFL career.
The team hasn’t announced an addition to the roster, but it probably won’t be a running back. The team already has Ronnie Wingo on the active roster behind Spiller and Fred Jackson, which is likely enough depth at that spot if everyone is healthy enough to play the rest of the way.
On Tuesday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that it was frustrating to watch former Cowboys defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff play for the Bears because he would have never left Dallas if the team hadn’t been led to believe he was too injured to play this season.
Jones may be upset, but Ratliff’s absence has had its positive upside for the Cowboys. Jason Hatcher was plugged into the three-technique tackle spot Ratliff would have occupied and he’s responded with nine sacks and 23 quarterback pressures on a line that has seen several players go down (including Hatcher, who missed a game with a stinger) with injuries over the course of the season.
Had Ratliff been healthy heading into the season, Hatcher would have been playing nose tackle in the 4-3 front defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin is installing. The player at that spot does a lot of dirty work to help set the other tackle up to make plays and Hatcher said he wasn’t going to be down with that program.
“Horrible,” Hatcher said, via ESPNDallas.com. “Horrible. Horrible. I’m not a nose tackle. I probably would’ve been asking to be traded or something because I don’t like to play the nose. I’m not going to say I’m glad Rat is gone because I wish we had him because he’s a helluva football player, but God works in mysterious ways and I’m at the position. I’m making plays and having a helluva year, so I’ve got to keep it up.”
It’s a good time to have a helluva year. Not only has he given the leaky Cowboys defense someone to rely on, he’s also heading into free agency with a nice head of steam. His age, 32 at the start of next season, will impact the contract he winds up getting, but Hatcher still figures to cash in on a stronger 2013 season than many people might have expected.
Some folks in Buffalo would point gleefully to the inability of Toronto to sell tickets to Bills games. Some folks in Toronto would point gleefully to the inability of Buffalo to sell tickets to Bills game.
Some folks in L.A. would point gleefully to both.
In the wake of the worst Toronto turnout for a regular-season Bills game, CEO Russ Brandon said during his weekly appearance on WGR radio that more than 20,000 tickets remain for the team’s next and final home game of the season.
Brandon added that, of seven home games played this season in Buffalo, only two have been true sell outs, via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com.
The remarks come a week after Brandon bristled at reports/rumors that Jon Bon Jovi wants to buy the team. Brandon insisted that the team isn’t for sale. But it will be for sale after 95-year-old owner Ralph Wilson’s tenure ends.
The question that looms over the future of the franchise is whether the Wilson family would sell the team to local interests who value the club based on its revenue potential in Western New York — or whether the Wilson family would accept a presumably higher offer from those who would move the team to a place where it could make more money, by consistently selling more tickets.
By playing one game per year in Toronto, Wilson hoped to create a regional footprint, which would make the team more valuable and viable in Buffalo. If the Canadian experiment ultimately fails (and Brandon said the arrangement will be reviewed in the offseason), the next question becomes whether less cash would be accepted in order to keep the team in a place where, over the long haul, less cash will be generated.
And while the team’s new lease contains a $400 million buyout during each of the first seven years, the lease can be canceled after the 2019 season for payment of only $28 million.Which means that the next owner could escape for Los Angeles or London or anywhere else in only six years.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who often monotonously mutters his way through media availability in order to say as little as possible, shared a candid and intriguing opinion on Tuesday that coaches should be able to use their two (three, if they get the first two right) per game replay challenges on anything they want.
It makes sense, even though Belichick’s proposed system won’t be adopted any time soon. The league permits replay review only as to the specific situations listed in Rule 15, Section 9, Article 4 of the rule book.
As it relates to the play that has gotten the most discussion and attention over the past week, replay review wasn’t available to throw the flag that should have been thrown in real time. While, for example, the question of whether 11 men were on the field at the time of the snap is reviewable, the rules do not make the question of whether a coach was in the white stripe (or, as the case may be, on the field) reviewable.
In the past, the NFL has expanded replay review after experiencing a situation in which replay wasn’t available. For example, when a Browns-Ravens game in 2007 involved a disputed field goal call, the NFL made field goal attempts subject to replay review for 2008.
That’s unlikely to happen in this specific case. As one league source explained it to PFT, it would be nearly impossible to keep coaches behind the play out of the white stripe. Opening that up to replay review would, in the source’s opinion, create more issues than it would solve.
In the short term, the source may be right. Over the long haul, however, enforcing the rule via replay review would ensure that coaches and players would treat the white stripe as the equivalent of the field of play, allowing the white stripe to act as the buffer zone that the league presumably wants it to be.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin explained again on Tuesday that he didn’t intentionally try to obstruct Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones on Thanksgiving night while he, the Steelers and the rest of the NFL waited to see what kind of discipline the league might hand down for his visit to the field while the game was in play.
One punishment that Tomlin should certainly have gotten was a penalty from referee Clete Blakeman’s officiating crew. NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino confirmed that the officials erred in not enforcing the rule that prohibits coaches from being on either the playing field or the white area on the sideline.
“Anytime a player or a coach from the sideline is in this white area, that’s a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct,” Blandino said on NFL Network. “If they interfere with the play, it could be what’s called a ‘palpably unfair act.’ In that instance, the referee could basically penalize the team whatever he deems equitable, which could include giving the Ravens a touchdown. That’s not the case here, but certainly coach Tomlin was in the white. He should have been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.”
That much was obvious on Thursday night. What remains unclear and what Blandino’s comment should include is some kind of explanation for why Blakeman and his crew didn’t make the call. The field judge has to run around Tomlin, eliminating any argument that he didn’t see the coach and making it seem that he simply doesn’t know the rules of the game he’s paid to officiate.
There’s been a lot of focus on Tomlin’s action and intent and rightfully so. The failure of the officials to do their jobs should be at least as significant an issue, especially for a crew that has dropped the ball continually this season.
So it only makes sense that the Titans are hoping for the worst in Denver Sunday, with the forecast calling for a high of 20 and a chance of snow.
“The worse the weather, probably the better for us,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said, via Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. “Hopefully it’s a big snowstorm and it will give us a great chance to win.”
Of course, the Titans’ own history might not suggest that. They’re 5-5 in franchise history in games played at freezing or below, but the last two haven’t been pretty.
They’ve been outscored 89-21 in losses to the Packers and Chiefs.
Of course, the fact one side has Manning and the other side has Ryan Fitzpatrick might have more to do with the likelihood of a win than the temperature, but Munchak might be better off praying for a blizzard.
Recently, every press conference conducted by Washington coach Mike Shanahan or quarterback Robert Griffin III has occurred amid a report or a statement or something that requires explanation or denial.
Wednesday will be no different.
Mike Wise of the Washington Post recently reported that the tensions between Shanahan and Griffin date back to January, when Shanahan failed to remove Griffin from a playoff game in which the then-rookie was clearly hobbled by a knee that eventually imploded.
Per Wise, Griffin’s family “originally rebuffed” efforts by Shanahan to reach out to Griffin and to explain the decision to let Griffin keep playing. In support of the report, Wise cites “people on both sides with knowledge of last January’s events who spoke on condition of anonymity in interviews over the past three weeks.”
Griffin’s father, Robert Griffin, Jr., reportedly thought that Shanahan should focus more on coaching the team than “building a stronger bond with [Griffin's] son.”
Speaking of sons, Wise reports that RGII was frustrated not because RGIII was permitted to keep playing, but because offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan continued to call plays that put Griffin at further risk of injury after he suffered the initial knee injury against the Ravens on December 9.
Those concerns become more understandable if, as some believe, the ACL tear actually happened when Griffin’s knee violently snapped upon colliding with Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, and that Griffin tried to pull a Dennis Dixon, playing with the unstable knee until the unstable knee lost all stability.
That’s may not be as far fetched as it sounds, especially in light of recent suggestions that Griffin rushed back in part to prevent Kirk Cousins from potentially taking over the quarterback job. If Cousins had continued to play well down the stretch last season (he led the Redskins to a late win over Baltimore and a 38-21 victory at Cleveland) and into the playoffs, who knows what would have happened in 2013 — especially if Cousins had been allowed to play in September while Griffin continued to mend?
So maybe the seeds for the tension were planted not on a green dirt field where nothing would have grown in January but at Radio City Music Hall the preceding April, when Shanahan decided to take a flier on a fourth-round quarterback to back up Griffin.