Proposed NFL rule changes have surfaced, and Mike Florio considers the abolishing of the tuck rule a top priority. Florio also touches on the bleak future of a Los Angeles NFL franchise.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: The end of the tuck rule?
Though the football thing seems to be working out for him at the moment, Russell Wilson still has options.
The Texas Rangers chose the Seahawks quarterback in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft this morning, spending $12,000 to get his rights away from the Rockies organization for a little attention and a good example.
“From a baseball standpoint, we feel like if he ever decided he wanted to come back to play again that he’d be a guy we’d want in our system,” Rangers assistant general manager A.J. Preller said, via Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “The biggest thing that intrigued us on Russell from afar is the makeup, the way he goes about his business, the professionalism, the competitor, the message we try to preach throughout our organization, for us to at least have that as part of our organization.
“At the end of the day, he obviously has a lot bigger things that he’s working on right now, and we don’t want to interrupt that aspect of it. But if at some point down the road he decides he wants to do baseball again, we decided it would be a positive to have him with us.”
Preller said they don’t expect him to give up his football career, and haven’t had any contact with him.
Wilson was a fourth-round pick in the baseball draft in 2010, and hit .238 in parts of two minor league seasons.
He’s been slightly more successful in football.
Last week was a good week. But not as good as it could have been.
With a 14-1 mark through Sunday’s games and a 3-0 record in the disagreements with MDS, a Cowboys win would mean a 15-1 week, a four-game sweep of MDS, and a six-game deficit with three weeks to go.
But the team that once went 15-1 for a full season thumped the Cowboys, and the gap was only narrowed by two games.
Through 14 weeks, MDS now has an eight-game lead.
For the week, I was 14-2 and he was 12-4. For the year, he’s 138-70. I’m 130-78.
This week, we differ once again on four games. All of our prognostications appear below.
Chargers at Broncos
MDS’s take: The Chargers can put a lot of points on the board, but Peyton Manning will carve up a weak San Diego defense, and the Chargers won’t be able to keep up. Denver takes another step toward home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 38, Chargers 28.
Florio’s take: The sun won’t be shining on a night when critics will have another chance to stick the narrative that Peyton Manning struggles in the cold where the sun doesn’t shine. A week after thrashing Eli Manning’s team, Philip Rivers and company will be reminded that Peyton’s squad currently is a lot better.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 42, Chargers 24.
Redskins at Falcons
MDS’s take: This terrible game is interesting to draft watchers and to friends and family of Kirk Cousins, but not to anyone else. Atlanta is bad, but they haven’t totally quit on their season like Washington has, so I’ll go with the Falcons.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 27, Redskins 17.
Florio’s take: A pair of 2012 playoff teams currently are jockeying for the first pick in the draft. The Rams, who hold Washington’s first-round selection, are rooting for their old NFC West rivals to wake up and take down Kirk Cousins and company. If anyone actually shows up at the Georgia Dome, they may be pleased with the results.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 28, Redskins 13.
Bears at Browns
MDS’s take: Jason Campbell and Josh Gordon can put up some points against this Bears defense, but I expect Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery, and Brandon Marshall to put up more points against Cleveland’s defense.
MDS’s pick: Bears 24, Browns 21.
Florio’s take: Two of the best young wideouts in the NFL meet in Cleveland. Josh Gordon will once again have a big game in a loss. Alshon Jeffery will once again have a big game in a win.
Florio’s pick: Bears 24, Browns 20.
Texans at Colts
MDS’s take: Injuries are killing the Colts, and I think they’re going to be one-and-done in the playoffs. But they’re still better than the Texans, who are marching toward the first overall pick in the draft.
MDS’s pick: Colts 27, Texans 20.
Florio’s take: If it wasn’t for teams that currently are in Houston or that used to be in Houston, the Colts would be winless since beating the quarterback who used to be in Indy.
Florio’s pick: Colts 28, Texans 17.
Bills at Jaguars
MDS’s take: Credit the Jaguars for the way they’re continuing to play hard after a lot of teams would have quit, but I think it comes to an end on Sunday, when EJ Manuel will thrive on the scaled-back offense that the Bills’ coaches are giving him.
MDS’s pick: Bills 27, Jaguars 24.
Florio’s take: For the second straight week, the Bills visit a team that started the season 0-8. For the second straight week, the Bills will fall victim to that team’s stunning turnaround.
Florio’s pick: Jaguars 24, Bills 10.
Patriots at Dolphins
MDS’s take: In one of this week’s few games matching up two teams with realistic playoff hopes, the Patriots will remind the Dolphins who owns the AFC East.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, Dolphins 20.
Florio’s take: A couple of teams in the AFC East get together in a game that profoundly impacts a couple of teams in the AFC North. The Dolphins will continue an unlikely run to January, which is bad news for the Ravens — but good news for the Bengals, who are trying to catch New England for the No. 2 seed in the conference.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 28, Patriots 27.
Eagles at Vikings
MDS’s take: The Eagles are rolling right now, and although the Vikings have been playing competitive football, they don’t have the personnel on defense to stop Philadelphia’s offense. This should be an easy win for the Eagles.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 27, Vikings 14.
Florio’s take: The three-win Vikings have three opportunities to play spoiler. Spoiling the next-to-last game at the Metrodome will be an Eagles team that has won five in a row and is 5-1 on the road.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 27, Vikings 20.
Seahawks at Giants
MDS’s take: The Giants’ defense couldn’t stop the Chargers last week and they won’t be able to stop the Seahawks this week. Throw in a couple of Eli Manning interceptions against a great Seahawks defense, and this game won’t be close.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 35, Giants 14.
Florio’s take: The Seahawks make their first of two visits to MetLife Stadium. Next time, they’ll be playing an AFC team there. And it won’t be the Jets.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 40, Giants 21.
Saints at Rams
MDS’s take: The Saints bounced back nicely from their blowout loss to the Seahawks by blowing out the Panthers. New Orleans will win another blowout on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Saints 34, Rams 16.
Florio’s take: Taking the Saints out of the Superdome increases the chances of beating them. Putting them in a different dome against a so-so team decreases the chances of beating them.
Florio’s pick: Saints 30, Rams 20.
49ers at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: Give Greg Schiano a lot of credit for the way he got his team to turn things around late in the season, but Mike Glennon is going to struggle against a tough 49ers defense, and San Francisco will win.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Buccaneers 10.
Florio’s take: What once appeared to be a cakewalk for the Niners becomes a tougher task. Tough enough for the Niners to stumble. If Jim Harbaugh thought last week’s win over the Seahawks was a three-and-a-half-hour root canal, he’ll think this week’s game is a three-and-a-half-hour encounter at the bottom of the pile with Steelers center Cody Wallace.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 17, 49ers 16.
Cardinals at Titans
MDS’s take: Arizona’s defense will miss injured cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, but the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Titans offense still won’t be able to do much of anything. The Cardinals will win and keep their playoff hopes alive, although they look like they’re going to be the best team to miss the playoffs.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 20, Titans 10.
Florio’s take: The Cardinals make only their second trip ever to Tennessee, where they lost in 2009. This time, they get the job done.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 24, Titans 21.
Jets at Panthers
MDS’s take: The Jets’ offense had a surprisingly effective game last week against the Raiders, but the Panthers are not the Raiders. This will be a blowout.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 34, Jets 10.
Florio’s take: The advice given by Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to his twin brother Rex regarding beating the Panthers consisted of this: Get a time machine, go back to 2006, and sign Drew Brees.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 27, Jets 17.
Chiefs at Raiders
MDS’s take: Give Kansas City credit for consistency. The Chiefs have been destroying bad teams all season long. They’ll do it again on on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 36, Raiders 17.
Florio’s take: The Chiefs are locked in to the No. 5 seed. The Raiders are locked in to irrelevance. Advantage playoff team.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Raiders 20.
Packers at Cowboys
MDS’s take: The Packers are pessimistic about Aaron Rodgers‘ chances, and that makes me pessimistic about the Packers’ chances. Although the Cowboys’ defense is bad enough that a Matt Flynn-led Packers offense can score some points on them, the Packers’ defense is every bit as bad, and a Tony Romo-led Cowboys offense will score more.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 31, Packers 28.
Florio’s take: Jerry Jones said there’s no one he’d rather have running his defense than Monte Kiffin. Maybe Jones meant to say he’d rather have no one running his defense than Kiffin. Anyone could coordinate the Cowboys defense to hold down the Packers, if they again don’t have Aaron Rodgers.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 27, Packers 14.
Bengals at Steelers
MDS’s take: If Antonio Brown had kept his foot inbounds on the Steelers’ wild last play on Sunday, Pittsburgh would be right in the thick of the playoff race and this would be a very big game. Instead, the Steelers are all but eliminated, and the Bengals should cruise toward the AFC North title.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Steelers 17.
Florio’s take: The Bengals roll back into Pittsburgh with the better team and better prospects for the balance of the season and beyond. The bigger question is whether Cincy can finally win in the postseason.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 17, Steelers 14.
Ravens at Lions
MDS’s take: The NFC North is wide open for the Lions, and yet the Lions aren’t playing like a team that wants to take it, with losses in three of their last four games even though they had fourth-quarter leads in all three. And yet I believe the Lions are going to show up on Monday night and make a statement against a Ravens team that is also fighting for a playoff spot.
MDS’s pick: Lions 24, Ravens 21.
Florio’s take: The Ravens know how to get the playoffs. The Lions know how to not get to the playoffs.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 30, Lions 27.
Enough time has passed that Chargers linebacker Manti Te’o is no longer necessarily a punch line.
He’s also turned enough pages on the calendar that he doesn’t always look like a rookie.
The second-rounder from Notre Dame is beginning to show signs that he’s developing into an NFL linebacker, after a slow start to his career.
“I’ve made that big jump,” Te’o said, via Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego. “I still have to think about what I have to do; I still have to think a little bit. But I’m not thinking half as much as I was. There’s where it becomes fun, and that’s where you’re able to make plays. A lot of guys, it takes a while. It takes a while as a rookie. . . .
“Now, it’s about refining things and remembering the small details. As far as the big picture, I think I have the understanding of what it looks like now. That’s kind of why I’ve been able to have a little more success now on the field, just that comfort level and trust in my teammates that they have for me and the trust that my coaches have for me.”
The biggest obstacle he had to overcome was the first one, a foot injury nine snaps into his first preseason game. That cost him the next six weeks of practice, and set him behind.
“He missed so much time in training camp — he missed all those reps; he didn’t have that,” Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. “So when he first got back, playing at the early part of the season, that was his training camp. He’s made some mistakes, and he’ll tell you that. It’s that learning curve. With young players, there’s a lot to learn. He’s done a nice job. He’s getting better every week, and that’s the key.”
Te’o has shown that he’s willing to work through specific problems, and has become a solid player for the Chargers.
As he grows into his role, they hope he becomes more than that.
Every pass-rusher who stars in the CFL doesn’t turn into Cameron Wake.
But it doesn’t hurt to look, just in case.
According to Tom Curran of CSNNE.com, the Patriots worked out defensive end/outside linebacker Cordarro Law.
Law had 14.0 sacks for the Calgary Stampeders this season, third-most in the league. Originally an undrafted rookie from Southern Mississippi, he was in camp with the Seahawks in 2012.
The Patriots have been willing to look to the CFL for help before. They signed defensive tackle Armond Armstead this offseason, but he’s still on the non-football injury list after a surgery to remove an infection.
Earlier this week, Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson met a homeless man who told him that the Lions were a “sorry” team.
Burleson said he understood where the man was coming from and seemed to channel those feelings when he was asked about the Lions’ chances of making the playoffs on Wednesday. Burleson didn’t go full Mora in his response to the question, but made it clear that the Lions can’t be thinking about the postseason right now.
What should they be thinking about? Burleson took a page from Allen Iverson’s book on that one.
“We’re not even thinking about the postseason,” Burleson said, via MLive.com. “With coming off a loss, making the mistakes we just talked about, we shouldn’t even be thinking about the playoffs. We should be thinking about practice.”
The Lions should be able to pinpoint the biggest reason for losing three of their last four games fairly easily. They’ve turned the ball over 16 times in those games, handing opponents chance after chance to put points on the board. Whatever else they practice, holding onto the ball should be priority one on Monday night against the Ravens.
But Richardson now believes that he’s done enough through 14 weeks to justify being the first guy taken in a hypothetical do-over draft.
“Probably No. 1, most likely,” Richardson said of his prospects, via Matt Ehalt of ESPN.com. “Kansas City? Yeah. I went into the draft thinking I’d be the No. 1 pick. I had a shot.”
Another candidate for the top pick in a Mulligan draft would be Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, who went one spot after Richardson. Coincidentally, their teams square off this weekend.
“Thirteen, 14 and now we’re both going for defensive rookies of the year,” Richardson said. “Can’t ask for much better than that.”
While it’s too early to label the underachieving top-10 picks as bust, Richardson and Lotulelei likely would both go higher if the teams knew then what they know now.
The twelve taken before Richardson and Lotulelei were: (1) Chiefs tackle Eric Fisher; (2) Jaguars tackle Luke Joeckel; (3) Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan; (4) Eagles tackle Lane Johnson; (5) Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah; (6) Browns linebacker Barkevious Mingo; (7) Cardinals guard Jonathan Cooper; (8) Rams receiver Tavon Austin; (9) Milliner; (10) Titans guard Chance Warmack; (11) Chargers tackle D.J. Fluker; and (12) Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden.
More than three months ago, the NFL struck a comprehensive settlement with the thousands of former players who had sued the league for concealing the effects of head injuries. The settlement, if approved, will apply to all retired players.
But every retired player has the right to opt out of the settlement. Former Cowboys, Giants, and Broncos quarterback Craig Morton apparently will.
On Tuesday, Morton sued the NFL and NFL Properties in California federal court. The 11-count, 373-paragraph complaint, a copy of which PFT has obtained, alleges that the NFL knew or should have known the risks of repeated blows to the head. The complaint specifically alleges that quarterbacks like Morton historically have been more exposed to head injuries, given that defensive players try to “sack” them.
At paragraph six, the complaint mentions that the term “sack” possibly traces to Morton himself, citing our article from June 2013 in which Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy explained that the late George Allen told his Redskins players, “[W]e’re going to take that Morton salt and pour him into a sack.’”
Some will say that Morton is now looking for a sack of money. Others will say he’s pursuing justice. Regardless, the proposed concussion settlement gives all former players the ability to pursue their own legal actions.
If enough of them opt out of the settlement and press forward against the league, someone eventually could force the NFL to do that which it surely hopes to avoid ever doing — disclosing what it knew and when it knew it about head injuries.
Jets quarterback Geno Smith turned in his best performance since October in last Sunday’s 37-27 victory over the Raiders and he’s crediting it to acting more like a human being.
During the week leading up to the game against the Raiders, a game that came a week after Smith was benched against the Dolphins, Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg made loosening up a priority for the rookie quarterback. Mornhinweg felt Smith had become too focused on doing everything fundamentally correct and thinking too much instead of letting his instincts come through on the field. Smith agreed with that assessment.
“I was playing like a robot. Everything is not ideal on the field. Sometimes you’ve got to improvise,” Smith said, via the New York Times. “I think I kind of got into this zone where I just tried to be way too perfect. And that’s almost impossible to do at any level, especially as a rookie. There were times where I was so caught up in running the play and executing it to perfection that I didn’t allow my natural ability to take over.”
There was more improvisation from Smith against the Raiders as he ran five times for 50 yards and a touchdown, but the proof of a real change will come over the final three weeks because we’ve seen flashes of good from Smith followed by flashes of bad more than once this season. Playing the Panthers on the road this week will give us a better idea about the permanence of the non-robotic Smith.
Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb is eligible to be activated from injured reserve for this week’s game against the Cowboys, but it doesn’t look like that will happen.
Cobb hasn’t practiced and hasn’t been cleared to play in a game, so Week 15 is probably going to be too fast for him to get back on the field. He has taken a step toward getting back before the year is over, however.
Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com reports that Cobb said he’s been cleared by doctors to start running after spending the last two months rehabbing his fractured right tibia. Cobb expressed some frustration last week that he had not been given the green light to start running, but he obviously made some progress in the last few days for doctors to sign off on an increased workload.
The Patriots are still scrambling to piece together a defense.
The Bengals are steaming about a rash of missed tackles.
Texans interim coach Wade Phillips brought in a crew of Big 12 refs for practice to try to cut down on the penalties in games.
It’s Week 15, and the Colts may have finally found their complementary receiver(s).
Titans coach Mike Munchak wants more time to make more changes.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is concerned by the number of hamstring injuries.
After time ran out on their playoff hopes, the Giants finally took down their Super Bowl countdown clock.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier is getting credit for “holding things together.”
The Saints were missing five players in practice Wednesday.
The Seahawks had a longer list of injuries after last week’s loss to the 49ers.
With Redskins coach Mike Shanahan telling quarterback Robert Griffin III to take a seat for the rest of the season, a pair of former Shanahan quarterbacks have stood up and called out their one-time boss.
“It’s not a fun situation and I feel for RG3 — a great kid, a really, really great football player – he’ll bounce back, get healthy and persevere through this,” Jake Plummer told Jim Corbett of USA Today. “I see great things in his future. But I think it’s going to be with a new coach. . . .
“I don’t think there will be a Shanahan future there. I think there will be a different head coach for this franchise quarterback who had a great year last year, and the knee injury played into this because I have not seen another quarterback this exciting, maybe other than Randall Cunningham.”
Plummer acknowledges he didn’t have that same talent level, and he apparently believes that guys who can’t play at the level Shanahan demands are destined for trouble.
“I just know from my experience sometimes Shanahan would ask too much of me,” Plummer said. “I was pretty good. But I was no Peyton Manning. I had to fight every day.
“A similar situation happened with me, and it happened with Donovan McNabb because we had our own styles, and it didn’t mesh with what Mike wanted. What I see happening there isn’t the same, but it is similar.”
Speaking of McNabb, he did some more speaking on the Shanahan situation, too. McNabb thinks Shanahan simply wants Cousins over Griffin at this point.
“This is about Mike Shanahan,” McNabb said on his NBC Sports Radio show, via the Washington Post. “Mike and Kyle Shanahan trying to show why they feel like Kirk Cousins gives them the best chance of winning. So many things have leaked out, and I’ve always kept my ear on things that are happening with the Washington Redskins, teams that I’ve played with. And when you hear reporters that I know are linked to Mike Shanahan talk about [RGIII’s] preparation, you talk about he’s missing some reads, you know, he’s not reading some things. And I knew that he was big on having Kirk Cousins to get out there and run the offense.”
McNabb can relate, because he ended up being treated the same way in his only season as the team’s starter.
“I’m used to this whole deal because, listen, I was benched for Rex Grossman,” McNabb said. “And [Shanahan] came out and said [Grossman] gave the team the best chance of winning. Well, Rex Grossman finished the season 1-2 or 1-3. I mean, that didn’t help nothing. And so, the whole thing about it is, sometimes you have to look in the mirror and look at yourself. Stop looking at everybody else. I don’t think that he and Kyle Shanahan can do that.”
If McNabb is right, it means that Shanahan hopes to stay, with Cousins possibly playing his way into the starting job for 2014.
As ridiculous as that sounds given the current atmosphere in D.C., stranger things have happened. This week.
The Patriots are headed to Miami for a date with the Dolphins this weekend, but one member of the Dolphins reportedly spent Wednesday in Boston instead of preparing for the game.
Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reports that center Mike Pouncey was in Boston yesterday, presumably for matters related to the subpoena he received to offer testimony to a grand jury investigating weapons charges against former Patriots tight end (and Pouncey’s University of Florida teammate) Aaron Hernandez.
The team would not offer any details about Pouncey’s whereabouts, listing him as a non-participant in Wednesday’s practice for non-football reasons. The Dolphins do not practice Thursday and Friday will be their final day of on-field preparation for the game against the Patriots.
Per Beasley, Pouncey is expected to play in that game despite the missed practice time on Wednesday.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said that he’s happy that the schedule is sending the Seahawks to MetLife Stadium this week because he’s never played there before and he thinks it will be good to get the lay of the land in the event the Seahawks are playing there again in early February.
As the quarterback of the team with the best record in the NFC, Wilson’s got every reason to think that a Super Bowl trip could be in his future. Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said that he couldn’t blame Wilson for feeling that way, although he doesn’t plan to be a welcoming host just because the Giants will have been on vacation for a month by the time the Super Bowl rolls around.
Tuck wants to put up a good fight against the Seahawks so that the Giants can avoid being the sixth team to lose to the Seahawks by at least 20 points this season.
“The last thing you want to be is embarrassed,” Tuck said, via the New York Daily News. “This is a team if you’re not ready to play, they will embarrass you — and laugh about it. That’s point blank. I ain’t in the business of being embarrassed. I’m in the business of going out there and putting on a great show for our fans and helping us win football games.”
The Giants are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Chargers last week in a game that saw them show very little spark while getting run off the field. Tuck will need to hope that protecting their home field sparks a bit more pride from his mates because a repeat of the same effort this time around would leave the Seahawks in stitches as they make their way back across the country.
Rodgers isn’t the only injured starter on offense, however. Running back Eddie Lacy hurt his ankle when the Packers chose to run the ball instead of taking a knee on the final play of the first half last weekend and wasn’t able to practice on Wednesday despite being able to finish the game against the Falcons.
Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday that Lacy would try to practice on Friday and Dunne deemed McCarthy “cautiously optimistic” that Lacy will be able to play against the Cowboys this weekend.
Lacy has been a workhorse for the Packers as a rookie, carrying the ball 20 or more times in eight of the last 10 games, so his absence would force them to improvise even more on offense than they’ve been doing since Rodgers got hurt. James Starks, Kahlil Bell and John Kuhn are the other backs available for the Packers.
At a time when New England needs a pass-catcher or two (or more) to step up in the absence of tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is out for the year with a knee injury, a former #Tommy favorite has surfaced with one of the Patriots’ former arch rivals.
Deion Branch had a Tryout Tuesday tire-kicking in Indianapolis, per a league source with knowledge of the league’s official transaction report.
Branch played for New England as recently as 2012, catching 16 passes for 145 yards in 10 regular-season games. He also played in both postseason games last year.
In September, quarterback Tom Brady denied a report that he had been texting Branch and receiver Brandon Lloyd regarding their availability. At the time, Brady seemed to be frustrated with young wideouts who were doing more dropping than catching.
The Colts’ interest in Branch, who has not been signed, possibly arises from the leadership vacuum created by the season-ending knee injury suffered by Reggie Wayne in the team’s signature win over the Broncos. Since then, Indy’s wins have come only against teams that currently play or used to play in Houston.
The Colts also worked out receiver Ty West and running back Shaun Draughn. The Patriots have reported no tryouts or visits since Gronkowski was lost for the balance of the season.