Mike Florio gives the Cleveland Browns some offseason advice. The Browns once again finished last in the AFC North. Florio thinks the Browns need to decide on a quarterback and whether they really believe in Brandon Weeden?This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Do the Browns believe in Weeden?
So much for making the most of a second chance.
But Mincey was effectively on double-secret probation after missing a meeting and being left home from a trip to Houston, so it’s easy to wonder whether he had another distraction crop up.
Mincey said the previous punishment was a wake-up call, and after missing two games, he was back in the lineup last week against the Texans.
Mincey was one of the last big contracts signed by the previous administration, getting a four-year, $20 million deal in 2012, with $9 million guaranteed.
Dexter McCluster popped up on the injury report with an ankle injury on Thursday after practicing in full on Wednesday, raising the possibility that the Chiefs would have to play without their punt returner and frequent Alex Smith target against the Raiders this weekend.
Kansas City made a move Monday to give themselves an option at receiver in the event McCluster can’t play. The team announced that they have re-signed wide receiver Chad Hall.
Hall was claimed off waivers from the 49ers in September and played in eight games with the Chiefs before getting released to make room for wide receiver Kyle Williams. Williams has subsequently landed on injured reserve with a torn ACL, opening the door for Hall’s return. Hall caught one pass in those eight games, so he’s not likely to step right into McCluster’s role. He’s also returned punts in the past, although there’s no word on whether he’d do so this weekend.
The Chiefs released defensive tackle Jerrell Powe.
For a time this summer, it looked like wide receiver Riley Cooper might not be a member of the Eagles for the 2013 season.
In the immediate aftermath of the release of a video of Cooper using a racial slur at a concert, there were team meetings with angry teammates and Cooper spent a few days away from the team before returning to work. There were flareups after that, but things have been publicly calm during the season and Cooper has proven to be an important member of the offense.
He’s caught 37 passes for 714 yards and seven touchdowns and has played particularly well with Nick Foles, two things that have been vital to the Eagles with Jeremy Maclin out of the lineup. Cooper is set to become a free agent after the season, but said Thursday that he’d like to stay in Philly.
“I want to be back here,” Cooper said, via Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Everyone around here knows that I love the scheme. I think I fit in it well with the bubble screens and the stuff that we do with blocking and being a bigger guy and a bigger target.”
McLane quoted an executive from another team saying that he thought Cooper’s use of the racial slur could impact the market for him in free agency, although he added that his feelings didn’t mean his team wouldn’t pursue Cooper on the open market. The Eagles have a decision to make about Maclin as well this offseason, but Cooper’s play this year has certainly made a strong case for keeping him in town far longer than it appeared he’d stay in early August.
Last night’s NFL Network pregame show included a lively discussion regarding the still-unfolding situation in Washington.
Former Cowboys teammates Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders argued about the treatment Robert Griffin III has received in Washington.
Deion, who once received a lot of money from the Redskins organization and who quit after Marty Schottenheimer was hired to be the head coach, believes that Griffin “needed a little humble pie,” and that his benching for the balance of the season will give it to him.
Irvin disagreed. Strongly.
“I’ve always spoke highly and thought highly of Mike Shanahan,” Irvin said. “Check the tapes, go back as far as you want. But I’m so disappointed with what I’m seeing. . . . This is personal, and I don’t care what you say. And there’s no way you sit your quarterback, RGIII, in his second season. We already know that Cam Newton went through a second season that wasn’t quite what it is, and look at what Cam is doing now. It is amazing to me.
“And here’s something nobody’s talking about. This is the third person that Mike Shanahan has had an issue with that was a star player for the Washington Redskins. I understand, coaches come in and they want to grab control. And they usually go after a star player to get control. Donovan [McNabb], Albert Haynesworth. Say what you will, say what you will. And now RGIII.
“RGIII’s handling it the best he can. Donovan said something like this was going to go down. So I’m not giving Mike Shanahan a pass when someone predicted what’s happening right now to this young man. You are tearing him down!”
I added the exclamation point for a reason. By the time he got to that sentence, Irvin was worked up and animated and yelling.
“I doubt that any man can come back from this, walking around three weeks around these guys that you have to lead,” Irvin said. “And I don’t want to hear about teammates either, [Deion]. I understand that. We understand as teammates and players, quarterbacks do get special treatment. You don’t see people arguing when Peyton Manning gets it or Tom Brady gets it. I don’t want you arguing when this kid gets it. He’s the quarterback, and the rest of us brothers have to understand that and treat him as such. I got an issue with all of it.”
Deion remained amazingly calm in the face of Irvin passionate remarks.
“Peyton Manning and Tom Brady won Super Bowls, that’s the difference,” Deion said.
“And you got to give this kid, he’s only in his second year, time to get there and win a Super Bowl,” Irvin said. “And he’ll never do it with this. You think they could do this to Andrew Luck? Let me ask you this question, you think they could to do this to Luck? Give me a yes or no. No. No.”
Sanders answered the question while Marshall Faulk was otherwise trying to speak.
“I don’t think any of Luck’s teammates would ever come out against him, either,” Sanders said.
Both men have a point. Griffin deserves blame, Shanahan deserves blame, and Daniel Snyder deserves blame.
Ultimately, the guy who finagled a five-year $35 million contract and full control despite winning only one playoff game after a pair of Elway-and-cap-violations fueled Super Bowls deserves the most blame because he had the power to not draft Griffin. Mike Shanahan also had the authority — and the duty — to ensure that, once Griffin was drafted via a trade for three first-round picks and a second-round pick, Snyder and the rest of the organization would ensure from the get-go that Griffin wouldn’t be permitted to take advantage of the celebrity and power that necessarily come from being the first franchise quarterback that the franchise has enjoyed in decades.
The Redskins now have a franchise quarterback without a franchise. Whether he’s ever the franchise quarterback again in Washington will depend on many things, starting with who the coach will be in 2014.
But that seems to be precisely what doctors are telling him to do. That’s the word from Adam Schefter of ESPN, who said it has been recommended that he not play again this year because of his shoulder injury.
The Giants have nothing to play for but pride, and that seems to be what’s driving Pierre-Paul’s motivation to play as well.
But in a year slowed by his recovery from back surgery, then knee problems and now the shoulder, it’s almost like somebody’s trying to send him a sign.
Maybe he needs to see a few broken mirrors and black cats before he gets the message.
Despite multiple reports on Thursday saying the NFL and DirecTV have reached a new agreement to keep the exclusive Sunday Ticket package on satellite television, the league says no deal has been reached.
“We do not have an agreement. Any speculation or reports to the contrary are not accurate,” NFL Media Group VP/Communications Alex Riethmiller told Sports Business Daily.
An agreement may not be done, but DirecTV’s CEO declared himself “very optimistic” that a deal will get done to keep Sunday Ticket exclusively on DirecTV. So it sounds like DirecTV is prepared to spend whatever it will take to keep the NFL’s owners happy. If DirecTV can’t come to terms with the NFL on a new deal, the NFL could open it up to cable companies, or to Internet distributors like YouTube or Netflix.
Under the current deal, which extends through the end of the 2014 season, DirecTV pays the NFL about $1 billion a year.
There’s been debate around Chicago about the wisdom of Bears coach Marc Trestman’s decision to return Jay Cutler to the starting lineup this week after Josh McCown played well while Cutler was recovering from a sprained ankle.
If Trestman is looking for someone to tell him he made the right call at quarterback, he should seek out Browns safety Tashaun Gipson during pregame warmups on Sunday. Gipson said Thursday that Cutler is a “different monster” than McCown and that he thinks facing Cutler is going to make things more difficult for the Browns defense.
“No disrespect to Josh McCown, but Jay Cutler is a different monster, and we’re definitely going to be prepared for him,” Gipson said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Anytime you’re dealing with who I perceive is one of the more elite quarterbacks in this game — Cutler, he’s arguably a top-10 quarterback in this game — I think that amplifies the situation.”
That doesn’t mean Gipson’s unhappy to see Cutler on the other side of the ball, however. Gipson said he’s “definitely excited” for Cutler to be in the lineup because the quarterback likes to put the ball in the air and he thinks that’s going to give the Browns chances to take the ball away from the Bears offense. Should they do that often enough to win the game, Gipson isn’t likely to have much company in Chicago when it comes to backing Trestman’s call.
Dick LeBeau has run the defense for the Steelers for a long time and he’s never had a unit as leaky as the one that he’s running this season.
The Steelers rank 13th in yards allowed and 15th in points allowed, both of which would be the lowest rankings in those areas of the LeBeau era. It’s been a popular opinion that the primary reason for the change in fortunes has been the advancing age of many key Steelers defenders, but LeBeau is not putting himself in that camp. He doesn’t think they’re too old and he doesn’t think the team needs to make major alterations to the unit.
“I don’t believe the problems we’re experiencing there are age-related. I really don’t,” LeBeau said, via Scott Brown of ESPN.com. “I definitely don’t think the defense needs rebuilding. Maybe their coach is getting a little old. I think the players can still get it done. I do.”
LeBeau’s loyalty to players who have brought him so much success is laudable and understandable, but the facts support the need for change. They have three starters in the secondary who are 32 or older, which has contributed to 11 plays of 50 yards or more by opposing offenses, and there needs to be new blood pumped into that unit no matter how much Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark and Ike Taylor have meant to the team.
Whether or not that represents rebuilding likely comes down to semantics because the Steelers can’t stand pat and expect anything but more of the same in 2014.
In a year that inevitably will feature Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning bogarting the single-season touchdown pass record from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Brady could return the favor when it’s time to tally the MVP votes.
And here’s where we begin the annual process of pointing out the deep and profound flaws with the “official” awards process to which the Associated Press stubbornly clings. It’s an all-or-nothing system based on a narrow pool of only 50 voters, most of whom cover only one team and some of whom shouldn’t have a vote for other reasons.
Last year, those 50 voters got it right, giving the MVP to Adrian Peterson after he willed the Vikings to the playoffs and nearly broke the single-season rushing record. For weeks, most assumed that Manning would win it in a landslide.
This year, that same assumption has applied. But with the Chargers once again finding a way to bedevil Manning and the Patriots now in position to swipe the No. 1 seed from the Broncos, Brady deserves serious consideration for the honor.
Brady’s stats don’t compare to Manning’s. But in the only stat that ever really matters — points scored vs. points allowed — Brady’s team could end up surpassing Manning’s.
Taking away the quarterbacks, which team is objectively better? On offense, it’s undoubtedly Denver. Brady has been dealing with injuries, inexperience, and at times incompetence.
While Brady’s passing skills arguably have begun to diminish, he now has a chance to do what has been throughout the season unthinkable. Brady can help the Patriots secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, forcing Manning and company to return to Foxboro for yet another cold-weather elimination game after which Peyton possibly won’t be telling people to shove things where the sun don’t shine.
Last year, Manning had to settle for offensive player of the year. This year, Manning may end up winning “only” the offensive player of the year award.
Mike Shanahan’s evil genius plan to prop up Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins got a boost, as the Falcons are going to try to defend him with a bunch of rookies.
The Falcons recently replaced veteran corner Asante Samuel with Robert Alford, meaning Cousins will get to begin his stint as the Redskins starter against three rookies in a secondary that hasn’t distinguished itself in any way this year.
If it works, Shanahan can take credit for another mastermind move.
When Charles Woodson signed with the Raiders before this season, he was coming off an injury-marred season with the Packers and it seemed like the veteran safety might have been setting himself up to play a final season with the team that originally drafted him into the NFL.
Woodson has turned in solid work for the Raiders this year, though, and that’s led to questions about whether or not he’ll be returning for another go in 2014. Woodson said he thinks the organization is moving in the right direction and that he’s been “happy and proud” to be part of it this season. He’d also be down for one more year if the Raiders feel the same way.
“I want to play again,” Woodson said in an interview with 95.7 The Game, via CSNBayArea.com. “I think this is the only place that I would play. I do plan on coming back and playing for the Raiders. If that didn’t happen, then I think I would have to decide if I want to go somewhere else for another year. If I’m wanted here, I’m coming back.”
With the long-awaited return of cap space and a full complement of draft picks, the Raiders are expected to be one of the league’s busiest teams this offseason. Woodson would provide the team with leadership and continuity through that process, assuming, of course, that Oakland feels he’s still talented enough to merit a roster spot.
For the time since Boomer Esiason quarterbacked the Bengals, the Steelers are poised to be home underdogs against visiting Cincinnati on Sunday night.
Various Nevada sports books have AFC North-leading Cincinnati (9-4) as a 2.5-point favorite at Pittsburgh, which is on the fringes of playoff contention at 5-8.
We have go all the way back to Oct. 8, 1989 to find Cincinnati in the role as favorites in Pittsburgh. On that day, the Bengals (-3.5) defeated the host Steelers 26-13 on the AstroTurf at Three Rivers Stadium.
Since then, it’s been the same story: the visiting Bengals are underdogs, and usually big underdogs at that. In the last 23 matchups between the clubs in Pittsburgh, the Steelers have been favored by an average of about 7.3 points, according to data from the Jim Feist and Marc Lawrence point spread archives.
The Bengals have played the Steelers tough in Pittsburgh in recent years, winning five of the last 10 matchups, including last season’s meeting. They have been underdogs of 5.8 points on average in those 10 games, according to Lawrence data. By contrast, the Bengals were underdogs of an average of 8.6 points in Pittsburgh from 1990-2002, per Feist archives.
A season ago, the Bengals were 3.5-point underdogs at Pittsburgh. Now, it’s the Steelers who will try to be upsetters on their home field for the first time since a truly golden age of music was captured via the magic of cassette tape.
It had all the makings of becoming a full-bore controversy.
It’s not that Josh McCown hasn’t played well, he has. But the veteran human being has said from the start that he understood his place with the Bears, and that has kept some of the flap to a minimum.
“You want guys on your team that want to be on the field,” McCown said, via Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times. “But also, you want guys on your team that know their roles and understand that. And so for me, I understand my role on this team. It’s the backup quarterback. So, that being said, if Jay is healthy, he’s ready to go. I’ll support him and help him as much as I can.”
That help extended to spending Wednesday night at Cutler’s house, helping him go over the game plan for Sunday’s game against the Browns, getting him ready to take the job back which McCown had performed so admirably in.
“He’s been probably Jay’s biggest support in this process,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “No doubt.”
“I don’t look at it as trying to take a leadership role,” McCown said. “I just look at it as trying to serve my team. If all 53 guys approach this as trying to serve your team, good things will come out of it. For me, that’s it.”
Good things have come out of McCown already. The Bears have flopped magnificently without Cutler in the past, but McCown was able to help them win three of the five games the starter missed (with a 109.8 passer rating and 13 touchdowns). But the humility and team-first attitude he’s showing while losing his job might be the thing that helps the Bears the most.
When we mentioned during Sunday’s Football Night in America the possibility that the NFL will centralize replay review, also mentioned was that the NHL currently uses a similar system from its headquarters in Toronto.
As it turns out, the NFL has been studying the NHL’s system.
According to John Kryk of the Toronto Sun, an NFL representative spent the evening of November 30 in the NHL’s “Situation Room,” studying the manner in which hockey handled from one location the review of disputed goal calls and non-calls in 10 games that were played that night.
Making the trek to Rob Ford’s town was Jay Reid, who works in the NFL’s officiating department.
“He came in and watched us — and we’ve been communicating back and forth via email probably for about a month, about different things we do,” NHL senior V.P. of hockey operations Mike Murphy told Kryk.
“Jay came in and actually sat with us for probably three hours and watched how the whole room functions — how we operated at individual stations, how we operated in real time. And he saw how we do it. He asked people questions.”
Advances in technology have made the process more efficient, with “cyber-optic” video feeds allowing the images from the various arenas to be studied instantaneously.
As a backup to the NHL’s Situation Room, the league has one person at each game who can review the images and make decisions consistent with the habits of the central replay location. For both the NHL and the NFL, consistency is the key.
“We do 1,230 games,” Murphy told Kryk. “The same group of people work here every night. They make the same decisions night in and night out. We like to think we’ve brought more accuracy to it, which I think we have, because our technology has improved so much.”
The NHL’s situation room has become a popular place of late. Per Kryk, the NBA and an Australian rugby league have visited in recent weeks.
But what about Canada’s equivalent to the NFL? There’s no need for the CFL to stop by. That football league adopted centralized replay review in 2006.
Coach Joe Philbin said the Dolphins have to play better at home.
The Bengals haven’t run the ball 30 times in a game against the Steelers since 2000.
RB Edwin Baker is eager for a chance to show the Browns what he can do on the field.
Said Titans RB Chris Johnson of facing the Cardinals, “It’s going to be tough. But just like any other team we play, if we do what we’re supposed to do, and we get on our guys and handle the small things, we’ll be OK.”
Said Broncos QB Peyton Manning of WR Wes Welker’s absence, “Hey, Wes is a great player. We certainly knew it was going to be a challenge without him. But I thought guys were ready for that challenge, so I don’t think it was a reason we didn’t play as well on offense. We just weren’t as sharp as we needed to be.”
Eagles coach Chip Kelly doesn’t want his team to overlook the Vikings.
Everyone’s focused on the quarterback, but the Redskins defense and special teams have been dreadful this season.
New coordinators could be in the Falcons’ future.
The Panthers will wear black jerseys and black pants for the third time in history this weekend.
The 49ers are healthy heading into their date with the Buccaneers.
TE Zach Miller missed practice for the Seahawks on Thursday.