Tennessee Titans beat writer Jim Wyatt discusses his opinion on the hiring of Gregg Williams, the potential of Kenny Britt and Randy Moss‘ recent allegation of prejudice while he played for the Titans in 2010.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Was Gregg Williams a good hire?
Seven years ago, the concept of the “defenseless player” became a major focal point for the NFL, after a Sunday in October when three big hits to the heads of pass-catchers happened in three different games within a relatively short time frame. Next week, the protection could be expanded in an unprecedented way.
The Competition Committee will recommend the inclusion of receivers running pass routes into the definition of defenseless players. This would prevent those receivers from being struck in the head or neck area, even if they are within the five-yard zone where they legally can be chucked at least one time.
Nothing was said about protections for the defenders who are now prohibited from striking receivers in the head while running routes. Last year, a controversial interference non-call from a Falcons-Seahawks regular-season game based on a hit from cornerback Richard Sherman was preceded by a strong blow to the head at the line of scrimmage on Sherman by receiver Julio Jones.
A major change could be coming to instant replay in the NFL.
A proposal allowing challenges to every officiating decision will be brought forward jointly by the Bills and Seahawks at next week’s league meeting. If the owners vote in favor of the new rule, all penalties — from holding to pass interference, facemasking to false start — could be challenged.
“That is a significant change to our current replay rule and it is something that will be on the floor and will be debated and voted on next week,” NFL Competition Committee Chair Rich McKay said.
That would be perhaps the most radical change made to instant replay since the NFL began replay reviews. It would allow for all sorts of calls (and non-calls) to be challenged that in the past were never reviewed.
However, it seems like a long shot that the proposal will pass. The NFL is generally very cautious about changes to instant replay. And that change would be significant.
Of the Chargers’ four running backs to hit the open market this month, the franchise had interest in re-signing two of them.
Branden Oliver has returned to the club on a one-year deal, the team announced Thursday. He joins recent signing Kenjon Barner, Kenneth Farrow and Andre Williams as rotational depth behind Melvin Gordon.
Oliver missed all of the 2016 season to a torn Achilles, which he suffered during an August exhibiton game in Minnesota. Los Angeles chose not to tender the 25-year-old as a restricted free agent.
Still, he was valued. A physical runner despite his 5-foot-8 listed height, he logged 191 carries for 690 yards and three touchdowns in his first two seasons.
Yes, NFL senior V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino will have final say over the replay review process, if/when at least 24 owners approve of the proposed changes to the process. So what will happen if/when Blandino is reviewing a call from one game when replay review happens in another game?
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, three people will be available for the process. If Blandino is unavailable, one of three will be in place to assist the process.
It will be very rare that Blandino will not at least see what’s happening even if he’s not the one speaking to the referee at the site of the game.
In the past, Blandino and Alberto Riveron were the two persons available to assist the referees. Moving forward, the three on any given Sunday will consist of Blandino and two other officiating supervisors.
Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones was on his feet this week, and said everything seems positive after he had foot surgery two weeks ago.
Via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jones said during an appearance at the state capitol that he was recovering nicely from bunion surgery.
“I’m good,” Jones said. “The foot’s good. I’m two weeks out now, I think, but it’s good. . . .
“My thing right now is recovery.”
Jones was in a walking boot, but wasn’t using crutches. He had surgery in Charlotte on March 6, after dealing with foot and toe problems for much of his career. He missed two games last year.
The pre-draft workout process may have claimed another player’s rookie season.
According to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com, UCLA cornerback Fabian Moreau’s chest injury was apparently quite serious, as he suffered a torn pectoral muscle and has already undergone surgery.
Those are usually four-to-six-month injuries, so it’s conceivable that he could return to the field at some point this season. But it should still be enough to harm the draft stock of a player who might have been a first-round pick.
As injuries go, it’s certainly better than the torn Achilles Washington cornerback Sidney Jones suffered during his pro day. He’s vowed to return to the field at some point this year, but that’s not a decision he’s able to make for himself at this point.
A source with knowledge of the situation has confirmed to PFT that the proposed alterations to the process require the approval of at least 24 of the owners. Which means either that Goodell knows he has the votes, or that he’s using an eleventh-hour media blitz to help deliver votes from those who also employ and pay him.
While it’s unknown how other owners feel about shifting final say over the process from the referee to the league office, multiple league sources consistently have expressed concern about involving anyone not at the game site.
“Who’s in the replay room?” one source asked PFT this morning. “Still nebulous answer. Bad idea.”
Whoever wrote Goodell’s “Dear Fans” letter may be sensitive to the potential criticism of the change in who makes the decision. Consider this key sentence: “Instead of a fixed sideline monitor, we will bring a tablet to the Referee who can review the play in consultation with our officiating headquarters in New York, which has the final decision.”
The most important aspect of the adjustment is tacked onto the end of the sentence, with the subtle use of “has” instead of “will have” or “would now have” or anything else that would highlight that the change is far more significant that the removal of the peep-show booth and the enhancement to Microsoft’s product placement investment.
By early next week, it will be more clear as to whether nine teams or a number close to that oppose the change. Before the end of the week, the change that for now is only a proposal will be an official rule. Unless it isn’t.
The Bengals have seen plenty of players leave this offseason, but they’re hanging onto to one of their own.
They considered him valuable enough to use their designated for return spot on him last year, so they obviously value him around there.
Earlier this morning, I argued that the NFL should handle improper celebrations not with penalties imposed against the team but with fines imposed against the player. And, of course, the opposite is actually what may happen.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL actually may dump the fines but still throw penalty flags.
That approach would eliminate a large amount of the criticism that the NFL experiences, with the No-Fun-League no longer picking player pockets. Still, moving the kickoff point from the 35 to the 20 could have a major impact on a game. What if there’s a borderline celebration after a go-ahead touchdown late in a Super Bowl, resulting in the team that’s losing getting an enhanced chance at tying the game or winning it? (Under current rules, that should have happened at the end of Super Bowl XLIII.)
Also, a penalty for illegal celebrations essentially guarantees that there will be an extra kickoff return. With the NFL trying to legislate that play out of the game, that’s definitely a reason for penalty flags not to be thrown for celebration violations.
As a practical matter, this approach shifts the focus to the teams, and it gives the teams an even greater incentive to insist on compliance and accountability. With the league no longer punishing the player who celebrates in a manner that draws a flag, maybe the coach will be more willing to do so himself.
When NFL owners convene Sunday in Phoenix, Panthers founder Jerry Richardson won’t be with them. Again.
According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, the 80-year-old Richardson will not be in attendance, but the team will send a six-member team of personnel to vote for the team.
Richardson skipped last year’s meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., having scheduled shoulder surgery the same week. Team spokesman Steven Drummond said Richardson’s health was good, but he didn’t feel up to the demands of two cross-country flights. Richardson’s been dealing with knee issues as well. He had a heart transplant in 2009.
Of course, when he was absent last year, they had a team president. But since then, Danny Morrison has resigned, and they haven’t named a replacement.
If Johnny Manziel returns to the NFL, it could be as the backup to Drew Brees.
That’s the word from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, who reports that Saints coach Sean Payton has taken an interest in Manziel and talked to him about a return to football.
In New Orleans, Manziel would have no chance of earning a starting job, but he could earn a spot as a backup to Brees, where he’d learn from a veteran quarterback and perhaps get himself ready to be a starter some day.
Still, talking to Manziel and actually signing him are two very different things. If the Saints were convinced that Manziel was ready to put his personal problems behind him and contribute to a team, they could have signed him already, and they haven’t done so.
After he flamed out in Cleveland, it remains to be seen whether the Saints — or anyone else — will give Manziel a second chance.
Commissioner Roger Goodell’s well-publicized, and curiously-timed, letter to fans focused on a variety of intriguing topics. On some, he was clear. On one he was vague.
“We . . . know that you feel there are too many elements in the broadcast that aren’t relevant to the play on the field,” Goodell wrote. “With our partners, we will be looking to instead focus on content that is most complementary and compelling to you — whether that is analysis, highlights or stories about our players. All of these changes are meant to give you more of what you want: a competitive game with fewer interruptions and distractions from the action.”
Appearing on Thursday’s Mike & Mike, Goodell elaborated on his point.
“It could be commercial related, it could be an advertisement for selling a jersey, it could be a promo for something that the network’s running that week,” Goodell said. “And frankly, to be blunt about it, it’s like an intrusion on the game. And I sense that. I’ve felt the increased commercialization.”
While I personally can’t recall any in-game “advertisement[s] for selling a jersey” (other than the Nike ad necessarily contained on every jersey) promotions “for something that the network’s running that week” have been part of the game broadcasts for decades. It’s one of the reasons why the networks pay billions-with-a-b for the rights to broadcast the games. Indeed, it’s one of the reasons networks have justified taking a net loss on their NFL deals; they make it back by pumping up the rest of the network’s offerings.
When the game is happening, there are few diversions from the explanation of the play and the reaction to it. Promos happen during the lulls in the action, or when the game returns from a commercial break.
In recent years, the most notable intrusion on the game has been the ongoing effort to wedge the Microsoft tablet into the broadcast. And with the looming changes to the replay system, there will be more — not fewer — shots of the tablet, which the league gets hundreds of millions to promote.
So if “increased commercialization” is a problem, it needs to be scrutinized in all forms. And it presumably rules out for good conclusively potential innovations/intrusions like the inevitable (in the minds of some) expansion of uniform advertisement from the logo of the company that made the jersey.
The ongoing debate regarding the issue of player celebrations in the NFL overlooks a key threshold question: If a player goes too far, why should his team be penalized?
In theory, taking away 15 yards of field position creates a strong incentive for coaches to tell players what is and isn’t allowed, and to enforce it. But why should the team be punished for a player crossing in the heat of the moment a line that has nothing to do with the play of the game, and that creates no harm to the opponent?
The NFL consistently has explained that the rule arises from a desire to not invite retaliation from players who feel disrespected by a celebration. If someone crosses the line in that regard, however, the league has tools for dealing with it. Also, when since T.O. stood on the Dallas star did a player ever take matters into his own hands because of a celebration?
Players should be expected to not react to anything that happens on the football field, and chances are that the temptation to retaliate comes more strongly from direct contact that happens between the snap and the whistle. So vague fear of player retaliation shouldn’t be a reason for restricting celebrations — and it definitely doesn’t justify imposing a 15-yard penalty on the player’s team.
Removing the penalty element also makes the celebration violation less of a talking point on the day of the game. By the time the fine is imposed, the fans will be paying attention to something else.
So instead of obsessing over every little nuance about what is and isn’t allowed regarding conduct that may or may not cause 15 percent of the field to shift, why not simply make it a topic no different than the player wearing non-conforming shoes or otherwise doing things that may get them in trouble personally, but that won’t impact the team?
The Chargers know that Philip Rivers will be their starting quarterback in 2017 and he’s under contract for a couple more seasons, but they have started thinking about what comes next at the position.
General Manager Tom Telesco didn’t rule out drafting a quarterback early in the draft when asked about the future at quarterback earlier this month and the team got an up-close look at one that’s expected to be off the board fairly in April’s proceedings. Eric Williams of ESPN.com reports that the Chargers held a private workout with Patrick Mahomes in Lubbock, Texas recently.
Head coach Anthony Lynn, who also went to Texas Tech, attended the workout along with offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and quarterbacks coach Shane Steichen.
Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that the Chargers also had a private workout with Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who is projected to be a third day pick next month. Getting picked at that point wouldn’t make him the heir apparent for Rivers, but would give the Chargers a prospect to develop as they begin life in Los Angeles.
The Saints have a bit more cap space to play with this year.
Field Yates of ESPN.com reports that left tackle Terron Armstead has agreed to restructure his deal with the team. Armstead’s $5 million roster bonus has been converted into a signing bonus to spread the cap hit out over a deal that runs through the 2021 season.
The immediate impact of the move is that the Saints will have $4 million in cap space available this offseason that wasn’t previously at their disposal.
Any new money added to the Saints’ coffers leads to thoughts that they could apply that to their pursuit of Patriots cornerback and restricted free agent Malcolm Butler. The offer sheet for Butler is only part of the equation, of course, as the Patriots have the right to match and the Saints would have to be OK with giving up the 11th overall pick in the draft if New England doesn’t match.
There’s also a chance the two sides could work out a deal for different compensation, although that can’t happen unless Butler signs his restricted free agent tender or another deal with the Patriots.