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Andrews calls RG3 “superhuman” in his ACL recovery

Andrews Getty Images

Dr. James Andrews arguably is the best orthopedic surgeon in the country, if not the world.  (Or, perhaps more accurately, he has convinced everyone in the sports world that he is.)  But his expertise doesn’t extend from his hands to his mouth.

Andrews’ most recent gaffe comes from describing Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III as “superhuman” in his ability and motivation to recover from a torn ACL suffered in a playoff loss to the Seahawks.

In this specific situation, it’s critical that fan and media expectations be managed properly.  Calling Griffin “superhuman” will serve only to make everyone believe he’ll be ready for Week One — even if he isn’t.  Then, Griffin will either end up risking injury or appearing less than “superhuman” if he fails to be ready to go.

It’s not the first time Andrews has said something he shouldn’t when it comes to Griffin.  Last month, Andrews boasted that Griffin is “way ahead of schedule.”  And only days before Griffin’s already-injured knee imploded on the green dirt of FedEx Field, Andrews said that Griffin re-entered the December contest in which his knee was originally injured without being cleared.

So while Andrews is a great doctor, he’s not a P.R. specialist, he doesn’t play one on TV, and he didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.  Or ever.

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Woody Johnson should consider firing himself

Woody AP

One of the best things about owning a business is that the owner can’t be fired.  Sometimes, however, he should be.

When it comes to the Jets, owner Woody Johnson deserves much of the blame for the mess that culminated in Monday’s house cleaning.  By firing G.M. Mike Tannenbaum two years ago but insisting on keeping coach Rex Ryan two weeks ago, Johnson created a mess that was destined to lead to what should have happened two years ago.

The statement from Johnson announcing the termination of G.M. John Idzik and coach Rex Ryan confirms that Johnson will obtain “guidance and support” from Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf.

“We will consider all options to improve the Jets,” Johnson said.   “Getting the Jets back on track is my top priority, and today’s decisions are important steps towards achieving our goals.”

The way for the Jets to achieve their goals includes the owner getting out of the way.  While he’ll never fire himself, he needs to resist the urge to tinker or to make changes.  Find people who know what they are doing and let them do it.

Go to the games.  Have fun.  Sign the checks.  And keep away from the team.

It’s a smart approach for most NFL owners.  For Johnson, it’ll be one of the key ingredients to getting the Jets to where Johnson wants them to be.

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Ravens confident Haloti Ngata will be ready to help them this week

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

When the Ravens were trailing the Browns in the second half on Sunday, it looked like their season might end before defensive tackle Haloti Ngata could return from a four-game suspension for violating the performance-enhancing drug policy.

The Ravens rallied, though, and beat the Browns 20-10 to secure the final playoff spot in the AFC. That means they’ll be in Pittsburgh on Saturday and that Ngata will be in the fold to help them try to defeat their AFC North rivals.

The question now becomes how much Ngata will be able to help them after four weeks away from the team. His physical condition will be of particular interest, but coach John Harbaugh didn’t show much concern about Ngata being ready for action.

“I’m confident Haloti will be ready to go. That’s his job, to be ready to go,” Harbaugh said, via ESPN.com. “I’m confident he’ll do it. He has done it before. He has been there, he knows what’s at stake.”

The Ravens run defense held up well while Ngata was out of the lineup, but a return at full speed would still be a major boost to their defensive efforts against Pittsburgh. Ngata had two sacks and two interceptions in 12 games this season and that work may be in high demand if the Steelers are forced to the air more often as a result of Le’Veon Bell’s knee injury.

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Falcons call press conference for 11 a.m. to fire people

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We know when Falcons owner Arthur Blank is talking, we just have to wait to see how many firings he’s talking about.

According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Falcons have called a press conference at 11 a.m., at the Blank Family Foundation offices, as opposed to Falcons HQ.

It’s expected that coach Mike Smith will officially get the ax at that moment, but the interesting part in Atlanta will be whether General Manager Thomas Dimitroff is able to — or should — hang on.

The two had a remarkable five-year run of winning seasons, after the Falcons had gone nearly 40 years without back-to-back winning seasons. They even pushed through their glass ceiling of a playoff win before falling through the floor the last two years.

The Falcons have impressive skill-position talent and a top quarterback under control. But their lack of playmakers on both lines doomed them, and the guy who built a top-heavy roster might be held accountable as well.

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Jets clean house, fire John Idzik along with Ryan

John Idzik AP

The Jets are tearing everything down after a 4-12 season.

Shortly after word broke that the team fired coach Rex Ryan, the Jets made an official announcement that Ryan would not return to the team for a seventh season. That announcement also included the news that General Manager John Idzik has been relieved of his duties after two years with the team.

Neither move is a surprise. It’s the fourth straight year that Ryan has missed the playoffs and he had little chance to do anything other than disappoint this season thanks to the undermanned roster he was provided by Idzik. Idzik did a fine job cleaning up the salary cap mess he inherited from former G.M. Mike Tannenbaum, but he failed to address major needs at cornerback and wide receiver while sitting on ample cap space. Coming up empty on immediate contributors despite adding 12 players to the roster in the 2014 draft didn’t help Idzik nor did fan protests that led to billboard and banners in the sky urging owner Woody Johnson to pull the plug.

And, of course, the Jets never found the quarterback that any NFL team needs to contend in this era. How much Geno Smith’s struggles were exacerbated by playing early with a weak supporting cast is a question worth debating, but neither Smith’s play nor the potentially mitigating circumstances reflects well on the job that Idzik’s done over the last two years.

The Jets have retained the services of former NFL exec Charley Casserly and former Packers G.M. Ron Wolf to advise Johnson as they try to find a coach/G.M. combination that can return them to the right side of .500 in 2015 and beyond.

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Jets tell Rex Ryan to hit the road

Rex AP

As expected, the Jets have made a coaching change.

After six seasons and a pair of AFC title-game appearances, Rex Ryan officially has become the former coach of the Jets.  The team announced the move on Monday morning.

Four straight failures to qualify for the playoffs doomed Ryan, the son of former Eagles and Cardinals coach Buddy and twin brother of Saints defensive coordinator Rob.

Rex reportedly has no inclination to become an assistant coach again.  He’ll either take a job in TV or land elsewhere as a head coach.

It’s unclear whether Rex will be a viable candidate for other jobs.  However, he could get consideration for Raiders, Bears, and/or Falcons job.

Anyone who hires Rex will have to consider the negatives and the positives.  He knows how to make a defense aggressive and effective.  But he needs a viable quarterback and a competent offensive coaching staff.

Rex also has a habit of creating distractions, due in part to his habit of drawing fines for firing off a middle finger and dropping “F” bombs.  Just last month, Ryan was fined $100,000 for his latest on-field use of profanity.

Still, players love playing for him, and he has shown that he’s capable of winning big games.  Teams like Oakland, Chicago, and Atlanta could do a lot worse than Ryan, who’ll have even greater motivation in his second job to prove that he can compete at the highest levels of the NFL.

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Mike Tomlin: We’re thankful Le’Veon Bell injury isn’t major

Le'Veon Bell AP

The Steelers won the AFC North on Sunday night by beating the Bengals, but the victory didn’t come without a dark cloud.

Running back Le’Veon Bell was forced out of the game in the second half with a knee injury. The team said that Bell hyperextended his right knee when he took a shot from Bengals safety Reggie Nelson and Bell didn’t need crutches to get around after the game, which fits with coach Mike Tomlin’s description of the severity of the injury.

“We’ll gather more significant information as we proceed through the week,” Tomlin said, via ESPN.com. “We’re thankful that it’s not anything major.”

The definition of major can vary from person to person and the fact that the team is waiting for “significant information” makes it far too early to know if Bell will be available when the Steelers open the playoffs with a renewal of their rivalry with the Ravens.

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Welcome to the offseason

NFL Getty Images

It’s Black Monday, which means a handful of NFL teams will be making big moves.  For 20 total franchises, it’s over.  No playoffs means football season has come to an end.  Which means planning for 2015 starts now.

The offseason has arrived for all teams not in the postseason, which means that plenty of things will be happening.  And we’ll be following all of it right here, every hour of every day until the season begins again in September.

The goal for the 20 teams who didn’t make it to the Super Bowl tournament will be to begin building hope for 2015.  For the 12 teams still left, the goal will be to try to translate the hope built last year into a championship.

In the end, only one team will be satisfied.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to satisfy your thirst for information and analysis throughout the coming offseason, and beyond.

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Top 20 picks in 2015 NFL Draft now in order

Harold Lloyd clock (sepia)

With the 12 playoff teams settled and ready to embark on the tournament, the other 20 can get down to personnel business.

Specifically, the top 20 picks in the 2015 NFL Draft are now settled.

The Buccaneers earned the top spot with a stirring come-from-ahead loss yesterday, and the top of the draft will have a southern accent, with the Titans picking second and the Jaguars third.

The Browns have a pair of first-rounders after last year’s trade with the Bills, and they’ll pick 12th and 19th.

The rest of the draft order will be filled in as the playoffs go along, with the wild card weekend losers taking spots 21-24, and divisional round losers 25-28.

Here’s a look at the full order as we know it.

1. Tampa Bay (2-14)

2. Tennessee (2-14)

3. Jacksonville (3-13)

4. Oakland (3-13)

5. Washington (4-12)

6. N.Y. Jets (4-12)

7. Chicago (5-11)

8. Atlanta (6-10)

9. N.Y. Giants (6-10)

10. St. Louis (6-10)

11. Minnesota (7-9)

12. Cleveland (7-9)

13. New Orleans (7-9)

14. Miami (8-8)

15. San Francisco (8-8)

16. Houston (9-7)

17 Kansas City (9-7)

18. San Diego (9-7)

19. Cleveland (from Buffalo 9-7)

20. Philadelphia (10-6).

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LeSean McCoy on future with Eagles: I’m sure we can work something out

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants Getty Images

The Eagles season came to an end without a playoff spot, but running back LeSean McCoy finished with a 99-yard effort to help beat the Giants in Week 17.

That left McCoy with 1,319 rushing yards for the season, the second-best total of both his career and his two years playing for head coach Chip Kelly. Given the team’s frequently toasted secondary and turnover issues at quarterback, it would seem that McCoy’s future with the organization would be low on the list of things to worry about heading into the offseason even with some questions early in the season about a drop in production.

After the game, though, McCoy sounded like a man who wasn’t totally convinced that he’d be back in Philadelphia for the 2015 season. McCoy is set to make $9.75 million next year with a cap charge north of $11 million, but said that he’s open to discussions about restructuring the deal because he wants to remain with the team.

“The season just ended, and . . . I’m an Eagle. I love it here,” McCoy said, via the Philadelphia Inquirer. “My six years here have been excellent. I’ve been very, very, very productive here. I have a great relationship with my coaches, the owner. We’ll see what happens. It’s a business. Anything can happen; I know that. But I’m sure we can work something out. And hopefully, everything does work out. They know how I feel about them. I know how they feel about me. So we’ll see what happens. At the end of the day, it’s a business.”

The Eagles spent all season plugging holes along their offensive line, something that certainly impacted McCoy individually and the offense as a whole over the course of the season. That doesn’t mean that McCoy won’t be reworking his deal in the coming months, but Kelly said on WIP Monday that he wants McCoy back and a parting of the ways would be a much bigger surprise that last offseason’s jettisoning of DeSean Jackson.

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League office to review Suh step on Monday

Suh Getty Images

Last Monday, the NFL suspended Lions center Dominic Raiola for one game after he blatantly stomped on the leg of Bears defensive lineman Ego Ferguson.  This week, the NFL will be taking a closer look at another Lions-related incident involving a player with a more notorious history of on-field misconduct and discipline.

The incident involving Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be reviewed on Monday.  Per a league source, the NFL will strive for consistency and will adhere to its desire to remove certain types of play from the game.

Replays show Suh stepping twice on Rodgers’ leg.  The first, with the right foot, appears to be clearly accidental.  The second, when studied in slow motion, appears to be intentional, with Suh moving his left foot backward, pressing it into Rodgers’ lower leg, pushing down, and then lifting the right leg off the ground to increase the force applied.

Rodgers’ real-time reaction suggests a strong belief by the quarterback that it was no accident, even if Suh managed to convey nonchalance while doing it.  In some respects, the move resembled Suh’s application of a foot to the crotch of former Texans quarterback Matt Schaub during a 2012 Thanksgiving game.  Suh’s leg swung naturally in Schaub’s direction as Suh fell to the ground after being blocked.  But once Suh’s foot was in the vicinity of Schaub’s groin, Suh subtly pushed the shoe into Schaub.

Suh was fined $30,000 for the Schaub maneuver.

Suh’s history includes a two-game suspension for stomping on the arm of former Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith on Thanksgiving 2011 and a $100,000 fine for an illegal low block on Vikings center John Sullivan in September 2013.  Suh escaped punishment for a blow to the head of former Cardinals tackle Eric Winston that same month, possibly because the league failed to notice the move.

That history surely will be used against him, both in determining whether it was an accident and in assessing punishment.  Suspension for Sunday’s playoff game against the Cowboys would be surprising, but few players in the league would justify serious consideration of such an outcome.

Either way, more will be known, most likely by the end of the day.

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Monday morning one-liners

Frank Gore AP

The Bills’ first win at Gillette Stadium turned out to be a hollow victory.

A call for the Dolphins to weigh parting with defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle.

Patriots DT Vince Wilfork hit his playing time incentives.

Said Jets WR Eric Decker, “You can’t play the what-if game. I thought today was a testament to finishing strong.”

Ravens CB Lardarius Webb came up with his first interception of the year.

Said Bengals QB Andy Dalton of his two interceptions, “The first one I shouldn’t have thrown. The next one I left high. It was my fault. You have to be better. You can’t turn the ball over.”

Rookie QB Connor Shaw earned good reviews from his Browns teammates after his first NFL start.

The Steelers Defense came up with three key turnovers on Sunday night.

Texans WR Andre Johnson closed an uneven season with a big game.

The Colts topped 300 yards of offense for the first time in three games.

The final game of the Jaguars season went much like the first 15 as the defense outpaced the offense.

Which players played their final game with the Titans on Sunday?

Broncos CB Chris Harris said it’s “the real deal” now that it is playoff time.

The Chiefs aren’t going to the playoffs, but LB Justin Houston closed the season on a high note.

An argument in favor of the Raiders making Tony Sparano the permanent head coach.

Special teams woes hurt the Chargers on Sunday.

Injured LB Sean Lee traveled with the` Cowboys for their regular season finale.

Ten things to know about Giants WR Odell Beckham’s rookie season.

QB Mark Sanchez called starting for the Eagles an “awesome experience.”

Redskins WR Santana Moss is pondering his future as an NFL player.

CB Charles Tillman said thanks as his time with the Bears may have come to an end on Sunday.

Lions RB Joique Bell started fast, but fell out of the game plan as Sunday night progressed.

RB Eddie Lacy helped power the Packers to a win over the Lions.

A disappointing season continued for Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan joined Blake Bortles and Geno Smith as the only quarterbacks to have multiple interceptions returned for touchdowns in the same 2014 game.

Said Panthers DE Charles Johnson, “I’ve been here too long. This is not the end. I don’t want this to be the end. We are on a roll, and we need to keep it going.”

The Saints’ resolve appeared too late to get them into the playoffs.

RB Doug Martin had another effective game for the Buccaneers.

Cardinals LS Mike Leach played in his 200th straight game.

The Rams Offense couldn’t do enough to end the season with a win.

RB Frank Gore made his case for another year with the 49ers.

Rookie wide receivers Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood stepped up for the Seahawks.

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Gruden to wait before deciding on Haslett and staff

NFL Washington Redskins vs Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

In some precincts, the bad news is going to hit Monday.

In Washington, it may take a few days to slide in.

According to Mike Jones of the Washington Post, team officials and coach Jay Gruden are going to wait a few days before deciding on any pending staff changes.

“Everybody, top to bottom, in this organization is going to get evaluated, and it’s going to be a thorough evaluation,” coach Jay Gruden said, after his team has hammered by the Cowboys to finish 4-12.

Central to the speculation is defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, who somehow has hung on there for five years. He has a long-standing personal relationship with Gruden (Haslett hired him in the UFL), but that might not be enough to buy him a sixth year.

He might not be the only shoe to fall, however, if shoes start falling in Washington.

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If Rob Ryan’s going out, he’s going out his way

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

Much like his brother, if Rob Ryan was going out yesterday, he was going out guns blazing.

The Saints defensive coordinator fired up his guys and led the Saints to a comeback win over a sort-of trying Buccaneers team yesterday.

Ryan’s impassioned halftime speech was cited by some as the reason for his comeback, as he lit into players, telling them: “Act like you want to be here,” Ryan yelled.

Rob came in and chewed us out,” Galette said, via Katherine Terrell of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “It’s like ‘Hey, this guy really cares.’ You know he cares. You know how passionate it is. And we started playing as a team and just played with our technique, we were gap-sound and they couldn’t do anything.”

While it might not make much of a difference as to his job security, he at least has players on his side, which is a trick his brother has mastered as well.

“I’d be shocked,” Galette said, when asked about the possibility of Ryan being fired.

Perhaps, but enough happened over the previous 15 games to mean few others would be.

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Panthers believe anything is possible now

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons Getty Images

People doubted the Panthers this year for many reasons, not the least of which is no one had ever repeated as NFC South champions.

But they had their own problems, from losing franchise cornerstones Steve Smith and Jordan Gross, to getting Cam Newton back from an offseason surgery to losing 10 percent of their salary cap when defensive end Greg Hardy went on the commissioner’s exempt list for a domestic violence arrest.

So they’re not apologizing for being 7-8-1.

“I’m very proud of this football team first and foremost in spite of all the things we have dealt with this year,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “The adversity we have faced as a football team, the resilience of this football team with the men in that locker room was on display today. They did things that we needed to do to give ourselves the opportunity to win and to put ourselves in this position by winning in December was a part of going forward as we step into the playoffs now.”

Longtime Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis (who knows about coming back from things, with his three torn ACLs) said now that they’ve achieved their goal, they’re not worried about records.

“We start this season off and hear all the talk about, it can’t be done; it won’t be done, and we’re here. We’ve done it.,” Davis said. “It’s not the end of it, but we had to make it to the playoffs, first and foremost. Now we’re going to get a chance to host a game next week. . . .

“I feel like we’re a team that is playing as well as any team in the league now. Anything can happen.”

Anything can, especially against an Arizona team with uncertainty at quarterback. How much farther they might go is debatable, but they’ve already gotten farther than most thought.

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Marcus Cannon channels Marshawn Lynch, sort of

Cannon Getty Images

The NFL doesn’t quite know how to handle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch and his desire to not cooperate with the media.  For now, the league has opted not to fine Lynch for his meaningless yeah/nope/thanks-for-asking routine, in part because the NFL believes most other players won’t be inclined to follow Lynch’s lead.

Last week, Broncos running back C.J. Anderson tried — but he apologized the next day.  On Sunday, Patriots offensive lineman Macus Cannon tried to do the same thing.

Via Jimmy Toscano of CSN New England, Cannon provided general answers to a pair of questions before shutting it down.

We played football today,” Cannon said initially. “We had a football game today.”

Asked about the offensive line, Cannon said, “We snapped the ball.”

Then, Cannon was done:  “I answered two questions, right?  I can’t get fined now.”

The league office likely will continue to tread lightly in cases like this.  By fining players, the league invites attention, criticism, and further copycat behavior.

Besides, Cannon isn’t exactly the kind of player from whom the media is clamoring to hear.  Nothing he could have said Sunday would have generated anything close to the kind of attention he’s getting for saying nothing.

Which, in a weird sort of way, could prompt more second-tier players to say nothing in order to get noticed.

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