The Saints are likely to hire Rob Ryan as their next defensive coordinator, but is the deal close to being done? If Ryan does head to New Orleans, can he tame down his on-field antics?
ProFootballTalk: Ryan to New Orleans a done deal?
Plenty of players test positive for performance enhancing drugs. But the Seahawks definitely are in the midst of a troubling trend.
Sherman’s suspension was overturned on appeal, based on irregularities with the sample-collection process. Officially, then, he tested positive but the league determined that he did not violate the PED policy.
Irvin’s suspension also proves that, no matter how good a team looks on paper in May, plenty of things can happen to derail what appears to be a certain Super Bowl run.
Which prompted a candid reaction from MDS.
And so Tulloch has found a way to find extra motivation, based on the response to his placement ahead of Revis.
“Trust me, I’ve been [a] fourth-round pick, undersized, this and that. I’ve heard it all,” Tulloch said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “I’ve came to the league, I’ve played a long time, I’ve made good money, I’ve done it all. At this point, you can keep throwing stones at me but I’m going to keep breaking them up and keep doing what I do. That’s just another one. It’s all good.”
Still, Tulloch believes the players who vote on the top 100 players (actually, the players who vote merely pick their top 20) got it right.
“People don’t realize that when you play the game of football you endure a lot and you go through a lot and the players, they understand that,” Tulloch said. “So for the players to vote [me in the top 100] and leave the writers out of it, it speaks volumes because we know what it is to go week in and week out and play against one another.”
Tulloch was more direct in response to MDS’s assessment of the wisdom of Tulloch’s placement ahead of Revis. “Lol I love it when people hate @ProFootballTalk Michael D Smith!” Tulloch said on Twitter. “He can sit behind a computer & write about something he wish [he] could play!”
Tulloch has a right to his opinions. And so do we. On the question of whether Tulloch is actually a better player than Revis, we’ve got a feeling that most people would agree with our opinion.
The Panthers launch their Organized Team Activities this week, the first official practice with Mike Shula in charge of the offense.
But coach Ron Rivera says it won’t be Shula’s offense, per se.
“It’s not necessarily his offense as much as the Panthers’ offense, what we’re going to do,” Rivera recently said, via Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer.
Shula was bumped up from quarterbacks coach after former offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski became head coach of the Browns. Rivera picked Shula in part because of the continuity he brings. Shula also is expected to rely extensively on input from the rest of the offensive staff.
Though Shula has a reputation for being conservative when it comes to calling plays, Rivera sees it differently. “I think what I like about him is his aggressive nature. I like that,” Rivera said. “I think the thing that he and I have talked about is doing things that will maximize each individual’s abilities.”
That’s the key to good coaching. Too many coaches try to force players into a predetermined system. The best coaches take the talent they have and draw up plays that highlight their strengths and hide their weaknesses.
The Vikings’ new stadium has a large glass roof. Which raises a fair question.
Who will clean the bird droppings and stuff that could land on the roof?
“The [ethylene tetrafluoroethylene] product is self-cleaning,” Vikings V.P. of public affairs/stadium development Lester Bagley recently told Bob Sansavere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “It’s the largest clear roof in the world and the first on a stadium in the U.S. There are some in Europe.”
Bagley explained that the self-cleaning will be accomplished by “rain and moisture.” Which makes the roof “self-cleaning” in the same way parking a car in the rain makes the vehicle “self-washing.”
The sloped roof also should cause snow to slide off; then again, the roof of my house is sloped, but the snow doesn’t slide off. Then again, given what happened at Cowboys Stadium during Super Bowl week in early 2011, maybe the Vikings don’t want the snow or ice to slide off.
“There’s a basin that catches the snow and prevents it from going down to the street,” Bagley said. “It slides off the roof into a gutter, essentially, and it breaks up from there. It will be very safe.”
Regardless of the details, designers surely engineered the building to withstand and manage the elements. After what happened in Minnesota late in the 2010 season, no one reasonably can claim that they didn’t know the roof of the football stadium could be self-opening.
At a time when the Jaguars aren’t interested in bringing Tim Tebow home to Jacksonville, he went there anyway.
Via the Florida Times-Union, Tebow was in town Friday night to speak at New Life Christian Fellowship. As he did earlier this month in Michigan, he said nothing about his NFL future.
Tebow did offer one funny, self-deprecating jab at his NFL past.
“One of my favorite stories, ironically, was against the New York Jets,” Tebow said, referring to the game-winning touchdown run for the Broncos, in a 2011 Thursday night game. “And probably my greatest Jets highlight, I guess.”
The Jaguars remain uninterested in allowing Tebow to create similar highlights for them, even though in 2012 the Jags tried to trade for Tebow. Jaguars legend Tony Boselli recently suggested that Tebow possibly could be a “franchise quarterback,” but Boselli agreed with the Jaguars’ decision to steer clear of Tebowmania.
“What team wants to bring a guy who’s a developing player onto their roster when he’s going to be a complete distraction — through no fault of his own — and become a disruption in the locker room?” Boselli said. “It becomes all about that — whether he is going to play, whether it’s going to work — and the rest of the team is saying, ‘We’re trying to win ballgames.’ I feel bad for Tim because I don’t think it’s all his fault. It’s outside circumstances and people who are making it tough on him.”
Still, Tebow’s image feels partially scripted and contrived. Though he seems to be a good person, there’s a too-good-to-be-completely-true element that Tebow and/or those close to him possibly have helped perpetuate. Many casual fans have bought it completely, prompting them to skew their view of his football abilities.
Unless a team is willing to embrace Tebow and Tebowmania, making him the starting quarterback no matter how bad he is in practice or the first 3.75 quarters of a close game, it won’t work. With no team willing to do that for 2013, the question becomes whether a team that stinks this season will decide that, for 2014, it can stink again without Tebow — or it can stink with him.
As Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski prepares for a fourth surgery on his forearm and a probable back surgery, we’ve been reminded of the concerns that caused Gronkowski, a potential first-round pick in the 2010 draft, to slide to round two.
While a stellar performance in 2011 blew the red flags away, Gronkowski has had multiple injuries during his time in the NFL. His career fairly can be characterized as being at a crossroads.
Plenty of league insiders and observers aren’t surprised. In 2010, several teams had him off the draft board due to his health. He had missed three games in 2008, and all of the 2009 season after injuring his back while lifting weights. As late as February 2010, he wasn’t able to run.
Even after the 2009 surgery, Gronkowski had a significant bulging disc in two different areas of his back. As a result, many believed he would have chronic back issues, and that his NFL career would be short.
After three seasons, it’s unclear when Gronkowski will be ready for his fourth. And given the injuries he has sustained during those three years, it’s hard not to wonder how many more he has left.
While it makes him look even smarter for signing a long-term contract when he did, the Pats may never have to decide whether to fork over a $10 million option bonus in 2016, because he has to make it through three more seasons before that question even becomes pertinent.
In the last paragraph of a very thorough look at the potential impact of the scandal involving Pilot Flying J on the ability of Jimmy Haslam to continue to own the Browns, Don Banks of SI.com writes that, according to league and team sources, “the idea of Haslam having to change his long-term status in team ownership in reaction to the fraud case seems unlikely.”
The key words in that sentence are “for now.”
Much remains unknown as it relates to the federal probe that launched months ago, with an employee secretly recording conversations at the behest of the FBI. Last month, the investigation culminated in the issuance of a search warrant that allowed the FBI and IRS to descend on the Pilot Flying J headquarters, seizing documents and computers and all sorts of other potential evidence that possibly will prove beyond a reasonable doubt fraud against multiple customers.
For starters, no one knows the contents of the documents and computers and all sorts of other potential evidence. There could be one or more smoking guns, for example, in emails sent or received by Haslam.
There also could be much more evidence that was harvested before the execution of the search warrant. The 120-page affidavit that resulted in the issuance of the search warrant mentions only one conversation indicating that Haslam was aware of the alleged scheme, with words coming not from Haslam but from another employee. There could be other, similar proof that the feds opted to withhold, for now.
Thus, the 120-page could be the tip of the iceberg. We just don’t know — and we won’t know unless and until the feds decide to pursue indictments.
Then there’s the possibility that one or more of the employees who currently are being pitched under the bus by Haslam’s apparent I-didn’t-know-what-the-scoundrels-who-work-for-me-were-doing strategy will trade immunity for testimony that Haslam at best was aware and at worst ordered the proverbial customer code red.
So while there likely won’t be an abundance of awkward moments this week when owners gather in Boston for their first meeting since the scandal broke, it’s impossible to know how this will unfold until we know more about the evidence that the FBI and IRS were, or weren’t, able to develop.
From the moment we commenced the process of accepting nominations for each team’s Mt. Rushmore, we’ve received scattered communications from Patriots fans lamenting the task of identifying the four greatest figures in franchise history.
The time has come, at least when it comes to coming up with the list of finalists.
Nominate your favorite Patriots below. Eventually, we’ll come up with 10 or 12 on which you’ll all be able to vote.
And, no, Matt Walsh and Walt Coleman will not be among the finalists. No matter how many times you try to nominate them.
With all the criticism Mike Vick has absorbed during his NFL career, you’d think he’d be used to it by now.
He apparently isn’t.
Earlier this week, Vick got a little testy during an interview with Mike Missanelli of 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia on the topic of those who say he doesn’t read defenses quickly enough, and that he holds onto the ball for too long.
“I’m really tempted right now to just say no comment to that because like I said a second ago, you don’t last 12 years in the NFL not being able to read the defense,” Vick said, via Sheil Kapadia of PhillyMag.com. “Those people who are talking and saying that are just ignorant, and they know nothing about football. Unless they turn on the film and watch my game and see what goes on, then they’ll replace those comments with the right comments.”
Missanelli pointed out that critics who know football have made those claims. “But it’s incorrect,” Vick said. “Without getting sensitive about it, it’s incorrect. So I’d rather not talk about it.”
We’d hate to hear what Vick would say if he were sensitive about it. (Actually, we’d probably love to hear it.)
Vick attributes the perception of holding the ball too long to the West Coast offense the Eagles ran under Andy Reid. “We had a lot of deeper throws last year, which required more time,” Vick said. “It’s just a big difference.”
New coach Chip Kelly’s system will result in quicker throws; if Vick can make them, he’ll likely be the starter. Kelly also has taught Vick something unrelated to throwing the ball — how to run with it, without fumbling.
“The other day, I broke out in the pocket, and the first thing Chip told me was to tuck the football,” Vick said. “So I showed him how I was running with it, and he looked at it and he knocked the ball right out of my hands. And he was like, ‘Hold it like this.’ And what he told me felt comfortable. I had a tighter grip on the football. That should secure that problem as long as I work on it.”
It remains to be seen whether Vick will undergo a Tiki-style transformation when it comes to ball security. But if he can get rid of the ball when he needs to and keep possession of it when he has to, Vick could have a big year in 2013.
The medical condition that made defensive lineman Kyle Love unfit for further employment with the Patriots has not kept him from working for the Jaguars.
According to Jarrett Bell of USA Today, Love passed a Friday physical in Jacksonville, with one caveat — the he receive treatment for Type-2 diabetes.
Clearance came after the Jaguars subjected Love to a “battery of tests” at the team’s facility. On Thursday, the Jaguars claimed Love’s contract on waivers, following his release by the Patriots.
And so the Jags are giving Love that which the Pats weren’t willing to provide — a chance to show that he can play football with diabetes, like others have done. While that doesn’t mean Love will win a spot on the 53-man roster in Jacksonville, the Jaguars were willing to not apply labels or presumptions to Love’s condition, and instead to give him an opportunity to contribute, regardless of a health condition with which many people lead entirely normal lives.
Now, the Jets face a more delicate dilemma.
With running back Mike Goodson facing guns and weapons charges, it’s easy at first blush to assume the Jets won’t mess around. That’s precisely what Jets offensive lineman Willie Colon believes will happen.
“It’s one of the things where it’s zero-tolerance with stuff like that,” Colon said Saturday, per Seth Walder of the New York Daily News. “It’s sad. Mike could have been huge for us.”
He still could be. As Colon learned during his time with the Steelers, certain players get the benefit of the doubt, and certain others become the example. With Goodson, who received a $1 million signing bonus as part of a three-year, $6.9 million contract in March, the Jets could be inclined to give him a second chance.
Much of that depends on Goodson’s legal situation. Some players get to continue playing while charges are pending; others (like Mike Vick) don’t. If the NFL doesn’t suspend Goodson pending the resolution of these charges, the Jets can either keep Goodson on the team and possibly recoup some of the signing bonus if he’s suspended/incarcerated at a later date, or they can cut him and let him walk away with a far better deal than DeAngelo Hall’s $8 million for eight games.
Goodson would get $1 million for no games.
That gives the Jets one million reasons to keep him around.
To some, it always will be the Factory of Sadness. To the rest of the world, it no longer will be Cleveland Browns Stadium.
According to FOX 8 in Cleveland, the signs at the stadium where the Browns play are being removed, to be replaced with the new, corporate-purchased title: FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Browns have had the ability to sell the naming rights to the venue since it opened in 1999. Under owner Al Lerner and then his son, Randy, the Browns had not done so.
Earlier this year, new owner Jimmy Haslam sold the naming rights to FirstEnergy.
Hopefully no discounts or rebates were involved in the transaction.
Giants receiver Victor Cruz continues to look for a load of chips to go with his salsa.
A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the Giants and Cruz continue to talk, but that the process is “moving slowly.” Talks are expected to resume this week.
Cruz, who has not yet signed a one-year, $2.879 million restricted free agency tender, has been staying away from the team’s offseason workouts as he pursues a long-term deal. He reportedly wants more than $10 million per year; the Giants at last word were in the $7 million annual range.
The next pressure point comes on June 17, when the Giants can rescind his tender offer and replace it with a 10-percent raise over his 2012 salary of $540,000, which equates to $594,000. Doing so would likely inflame the situation, causing Cruz possibly to hold out through Week 10 of the regular season, sign the tender, finish the year, and become an unrestricted free agent in 2014.
While the Giants could then keep him in place with the franchise tag, the franchise tag would pay Cruz $10 million or more for one year. And it could force the Giants to choose between Cruz and receiver Hakeem Nicks, whose rookie contract expires after the coming season.
The Cruz-Nicks conundrum surely has cast a shadow over the ongoing talks. Nicks, who plays the more valuable position of outside receiver, will want to get significantly more than Cruz, a slot receiver. Thus, paying Cruz a lot now could mean paying Nicks a lot more later.
At some point, the Giants may decide to keep only one of them, and to trust that they can develop another player who’ll catch passes from Eli Manning into a significant performer.
With the Broncos ultimately dismissing Manning’s effort to get his former Colts teammate to Denver, Freeney will now spend one-eighth of the 2013 season chasing Peyton around.
Freeney officially is a Charger, where he’ll remain a 3-4 linebacker for the second straight year.
“It’s great to add a solid veteran who brings valuable experience to our defense,” said coach Mike McCoy said in a team-issued release. “His proven pass-rush ability is a perfect fit for our defense.”
The term “perfect fit” seems a bit strong, given that Freeney has 10 years in the 4-3 and told PFT Live in February that he wants to return to that alignment. “I’m not sure [Freeney] is well-suited for a 3-4 team,” former Colts coach Tony Dungy told Chris Mortensen of ESPN. “I think Dwight needs play at right end and as a third-down pass rusher.”
Chances are Freeney will essentially do just that, putting his hand in the dirt and taking on the left tackle in passing situations.
He’ll get to do it twice against Ryan Clady, the unsigned lineman who protects Peyton Manning’s blind side. And Freeney will do it against his former team in Indy, along with the other teams he faced every year in the AFC South, starting with the opening Monday night of the season, against the Texans.
In other words, a relatively mundane offseason for the Chargers suddenly has become far more interesting.
Weeden admits that the move to add Brian Hoyer, cut last week by the Cardinals, was unexpected.
“I was surprised, but that’s the nature of the beast,” Weeden said Friday, per Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “It’s part of this business and if you start worrying about it, that’s too much to worry about. That’s my mentality going forward.”
Weeden said he hasn’t been told what the Browns plan for Hoyer. “I have no idea,” Weeden said. “I’m worried about me.”
Per Cabot, Hoyer arrives as No. 3 on the depth chart, behind Weeden and Jason Campbell. Hoyer then will have the opportunity to climb the ladder.
Weeden thinks he’ll hold off all comers. “You can’t play this position timid or [not] confident,” Weeden said. “You’ve got to be confident all the time. Once I got my head in this playbook and realized how good this system is and how good it fits the guys we have in place, it kind of made me excited and lit a fire under everybody to really want to take that next step including myself.”
Campbell, the first quarterback acquired by the new regime in Cleveland, wasn’t surprised by the new arrival. “You usually go into training camp with four quarterbacks,” Campbell said. “You knew somewhere along that it would probably happen.”
The fact that it happened with Hoyer should give both Weeden and Campbell concern. During his tenure with NFL Network, Browns G.M. Mike Lombardi heaped praise on Hoyer. “I’ve said this many times: If I would have taken the GM job of the 49ers, I would have gone after Brian Hoyer, because I think he has all the traits and characteristics,” Lombardi said in December 2011, via Cabot. “If I were the Cleveland Browns, I’d rather have Brian Hoyer behind center than Colt McCoy.”
Hoyer now has a dramatically better chance of being under center for the Browns than McCoy. Whether Hoyer gets there ahead of Weeden and Campbell is to be determined.
If it happens, it would be an amazing development, given that Hoyer was out of the league for most of the 2012 season.