Howard Katz calls in to take a look at the 2013 schedule. When does the schedule making process begin each year? Is there any lingering frustration towards the Orioles for not allowing the Ravens to open the season at home? How is the schedule made?This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Breaking down the 2013 schedule
The silence has become deafening in Buffalo regarding the intentions of new owners Terry and Kim Pegula regarding the future of the franchise. There’s growing speculation and rumor in league circles that the team’s immediate future could include a blast from the past.
Some in league circles firmly believe that, as soon as Monday, former Bills G.M. Bill Polian could be returning to the team. It’s unclear what his role and duties would be; Polian and the Bills could try to engineer the job title and description in a way that doesn’t re-set the clock on his looming election to the Hall of Fame. Nominated for the first time in the new contributor category, Polian’s candidacy will be debated and determined on January 31.
It’s also unclear what would happen after Polian’s return, if that indeed occurs. Some think that G.M. Doug Whaley and CEO Russ Brandon would be in jeopardy, based on factors such as the ill-advised decision to use a first-round pick on quarterback EJ Manuel in 2013 and the surrender of a first-round pick and fourth-round pick in 2015 to move up five spots in the 2014 draft for receiver Sammy Watkins. Some saw the trade as a way to get to the postseason right away, increasing the chances of sticking with the franchise under new ownership.
Brandon, who was hired by the team in 1997 and who rose to a key level of influence in 2006, doesn’t have much to show for his time in Buffalo. More importantly, he has no pre-existing connection to or allegiance with the Pegulas, who may want their own people to run the team.
The wild card moving forward is coach Doug Marrone. Polian recently praised the second-year coach, which could be a sign that, if Polian gets the reins in Buffalo, Marrone won’t get the boot.
“Doug Marrone, the Bills’ head coach, should be very much in the running for coach of the year,” Polian said on ESPN earlier this month. “The Packers are a much better team, but they weren’t yesterday in Ralph Wilson Stadium, and that’s to Doug Marrone’s credit, that’s to [defensive coordinator] Jim Schwartz’s credit and that team’s credit.”
Some think Polian would find a role in Buffalo for his son, Chris, who currently serves as the director of pro personnel in Jacksonville. At one point, it was believed that Bill Polian was trying to set the table for Chris to become the G.M. of the Colts. Then came the disastrous 2011 season, which resulted in owner Jim Irsay cleaning the decks.
While 2014 was hardly a disaster for the Bills, it’s been 15 years since the franchise last qualified for the postseason. Which means that whatever they’ve been doing hasn’t been working. Which means that a guy whose work helped the team to four straight Super Bowl appearances could soon be back in the fold.
Josh Gordon is suspended again.
Gordon, the wide receiver who began this season on a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, has now been suspended by the Browns for violating team rules.
The Browns have not revealed what Gordon did, but PFT has confirmed the multiple reports that he missed today’s walk-through practice. Whatever the reasons, this suspension provides Gordon’s detractors with one more reason to think that he simply doesn’t get it. Gordon has phenomenal talent — as much talent as almost any wide receiver in football — but his history of off-field problems stretches back to college and may end up derailing his career.
If Gordon ever gets himself straightened out and dedicates himself to being a professional, he’ll be among the league’s elite players. If not, he’ll be remembered as a player who let his great talent go to waste.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady both said this week that they take Sunday’s regular-season finale seriously, even though they’ve already clinched home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. But the reality is that the Patriots likely won’t approach this game like any other regular-season game.
That’s the word from the Patriots’ website, which notes that Belichick’s usual approach is to play the starters just long enough so they don’t get rusty, but then pull them fairly early in the game.
Belichick did famously keep playing his starters into Week 17 in 2007, when the Patriots were en route to the only 16-0 regular season in NFL history. But without a historical accomplishment like that on the line, it seems unlikely that Belichick would want to leave Brady and Co. on the field for long. The Patriots know first hand that a Week 17 injury can be costly, as Wes Welker suffered a torn ACL in Week 17 of the 2009 season.
So expect to see Brady throwing to Gronkowski early in the game on Sunday. But not after halftime.
On the surface, the report from NJ.com that former NFL G.M. Charley Casserly has begun contacting potential coaching and G.M. candidates for the Jets seems reasonable and expected. At a deeper level, the report (if true) creates potential problems.
If Casserly is indeed contacting candidates currently under contract with other teams, he’s engaging in tampering. The potential violation becomes more glaring in light of the fact that he currently works for the NFL, through its in-house media conglomerate.
The league has no comment on the situation. One league source with knowledge of Casserly’s efforts tells PFT that he’s making calls about candidates, but that Casserly is not directly contacting candidates.
What makes the situation a bit more complicated is the report from the New York Daily News that Casserly has been doing background work on candidates in connection with his role as a member of the NFL’s Career Development Advisory Panel. That connection makes Casserly more attractive to the Jets as a potential consultant, because he’s in position to provide much more meaningful input given his role on the panel that identifies the best candidates for the looming wave of vacancies.
Whether individual teams should be in position to purchase the information and access obtained by members of the advisory panel by hiring them as consultants is a philosophical question the league needs to address, if it so chooses. For now, Jets owner Woody Johnson’s decision to retain a consultant who is in a unique position to provide consultation is one of the smartest moves Johnson has made in a long time.
Then again, when it comes to smart moves made by Johnson, the bar is pretty low.
Texans defensive end J.J. Watt probably won’t win the Most Valuable Player award. But if he even gets a vote, he’ll be doing something rare for a defensive player.
The league MVP award is voted upon by 50 members of the media, chosen by the Associated Press. And those 50 members of the media almost never vote for a defensive player.
In fact, no defensive player has received even one MVP vote since 2008, when James Harrison of the Steelers got three votes. Here’s how the MVP votes have broken down this century, with the AP sometimes having fewer than 50 voters and some voters occasionally splitting their votes between two candidates:
2013: Peyton Manning 49, Tom Brady 1
2012: Adrian Peterson 30.5, Peyton Manning 19.5
2011: Aaron Rodgers 48, Drew Brees 2
2010: Tom Brady 50
2009: Peyton Manning 39.5, Drew Brees 7.5, Philip Rivers 2, Brett Favre 1
2008: Peyton Manning, 32, Chad Pennington 4, Michael Turner 4, Adrian Peterson 3, James Harrison 3, Philip Rivers 2, Chris Johnson 1, Kurt Warner 1
2007: Tom Brady 49, Brett Favre 1
2006: LaDainain Tomlinson 44, Drew Brees 4, Peyton Manning 2
2005: Shaun Alexander 19, Peyton Manning 13, Tom Brady 10, Tiki Barber 6, Carson Palmer 2
2004: Peyton Manning 47, Michael Vick 1
2003: Peyton Manning 16, Steve McNair 16, Tom Brady 8, Jamal Lewis 5, Priest Holmes 3, Ray Lewis 2
2002: Rich Gannon 19, Brett Favre 15, Steve McNair 11, Priest Holmes 1, Derrick Brooks 1, Michael Vick 1
2001: Kurt Warner 21.5, Marshall Faulk 17.5 votes, Brett Favre 5, Kordell Stewart 4, Brian Urlacher 2
2000: Marshall Faulk 24, Donovan McNabb 11, Eddie George 8, Rich Gannon 5, Peyton Manning 1, Ray Lewis 1
As you can see, it’s virtually impossible for a defensive player to win the MVP award, or even to come close: Only Harrison, Ray Lewis, Derrick Brooks and Brian Urlacher have received any votes at all, and they were distant also-rans.
If Watt gets four MVP votes this year, he’ll have the most of any defensive player in the 21st century. That’s a major accomplishment. Just not an accomplishment that comes with a trophy he can put on his mantle.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s predictions regarding the team’s future could end up being a lot more accurate than many of his passes this year.
Cutler recently acknowledged that “everyone could get axed.” There’s chatter in league circles that that could indeed be the case.
By “everyone,” the scuttlebutt includes everyone. From coach Marc Trestman to G.M. Phil Emery to team president Ted Phillips, who has held the position for nearly 16 years.
Cutler could still stay, depending on who gets the coaching job going forward. With Mike Shanahan, who traded up to draft Cutler nearly nine years ago, making it clear that he wants to get back into the NFL, Shanahan becomes the obvious pick to try to turn Cutler around — if ownership decides not to bite the bullet on the millions still owed to Cutler under the contract negotiated by Emery or to give Cutler away to another team to avoid paying the money.
Regardless, big changes could be coming in Chicago after one of the worst seasons the franchise has endured.
Soon after the season ends, the 49ers and coach Jim Harbaugh are destined to be no longer engaged in an employer-employee relationship. To his credit, Harbaugh isn’t telling any untruths or half-truths about the future. To their blame, the 49ers continue to allow the clear and unmistakable impression to exist that Harbaugh’s days can be counted.
Presently, they can be counted on the hand of a guy who has lost two or three fingers to a table saw and/or cherry bomb.
Instead of a Saban-style denial, Harbaugh reiterated a Dr. Seuss-style saying on Friday when asked again about the immediate future.
“What will happen, will happen,” Harbaugh told reporters. “What will not happen, won’t happen.”
No one quite knows exactly what will happen. While many in the media have reported/predicted that Harbaugh will be traded, we’ve mentioned once or twice (or more often) that the logistics require a level of patience and planning in which the two sides may not be willing to engage. The details make a trade highly unlikely, which in turn makes that pair of third-round picks that the 49ers would have gotten from Cleveland in February as a practical matter unavailable.
Whatever the reason(s) for the coming split, it’s unprecedented to see a coach who had so much success right out of the gates leave a team so quickly. Maybe a book eventually be written on what actually happened; maybe volumes can be penned from each of the many perspectives. Maybe the disappointment of getting so close to a sixth Super Bowl win in three straight years created a level of angst that eroded the relationship.
Or maybe the 49ers didn’t want to accept the fact that most coaches can be hard to work with at times, and that organizations capable of realizing they have an excellent head coach will find a way to work around the edges of a unique personality that drives a man to make coaching football at the highest level a 365-day passion.
Or maybe it’s the money. Harbaugh has wanted to push a sluggish market toward $10 million per year. The 49ers privately have dismissed his demands by saying he wants to be paid like a Super Bowl-winning coach without winning a Super Bowl. Perhaps it’s time for Super Bowl-winning coaches — and close-to-Super-Bowl-winning coaches — to be paid a lot more.
For everyone else connected to the NFL, their compensation has continued to move upward and upward, every year. For head coaches, it hasn’t moved much at all in the last decade. Harbaugh tried to buck that, and now he’ll be looking elsewhere for the payday he wasn’t able to obtain from the 49ers.
If the unwillingness to increase head-coaching compensation in a way that reflects the overall growth of revenues, profits, and franchise values applies universally across the league, maybe the only way to get the kind of money Harbaugh deserves will be to accept the reported $8 million per year from Michigan.
Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is set to become a free agent in March, and he’s planning to cash in.
“I think I am worth a lot of money,” Pierre-Paul told ESPN.
Pierre-Paul has started all 15 games and recorded 10.5 sacks this season, and he believes that either the Giants or some other team will be willing to pay handsomely for that kind of production.
“I don’t know what my future holds,” Pierre-Paul said. “Who knows if I am going to be in a Giant uniform, who knows where I am going to be in the offseason. Like I said, now, the numbers are there, I had a great season, and everybody sees it. There really is nothing else to say, just negotiations and it is coming.”
Pierre-Paul says he’d like to stay with the Giants, but it’s a business decision. He’ll pick the team that’s best for his bottom line.
Charley Casserly, the former Redskins and Texans general manager who’s now working as a consultant for Jets owner Woody Johnson, is already contacting candidates to be the Jets’ next head coach and next General Manager.
That’s the word from Dom Cosentino of NJ.com, who reports that the Jets are moving quickly on the idea that head coach Rex Ryan and General Manager John Idzik both figure to be fired after Sunday’s season finale.
Ryan hasn’t been told he’s fired, but that move is so clearly coming that Ryan has already reportedly cleared out his office. Idzik’s firing hasn’t been seen as quite the sure thing that Ryan’s is, but given the lack of talent on the roster, and particularly Idzik’s inability to find a franchise quarterback, it’s easy to see why Idzik would get the boot as well.
Big changes are needed with the Jets. It appears that Johnson will begin making those changes within the next 48 hours.
UPDATE 11:40 a.m. ET: The league has no comment on the possibility that, if the report is correct, Casserly and the Jets are violating the league’s tampering rules.
The Chargers reportedly took a late-season look at a notable free agent wide receiver.
According to ESPN’s Adam Caplan, the Chargers put former Rams receiver Austin Pettis through a workout on Wednesday. He remains unsigned.
The Chargers could be down a key receiver for the regular-season finale at Kansas City, with second-year pro Keenan Allen doubtful with ankle and shoulder injuries.
The 26-year-old Pettis caught 107 passes for 1,034 yards with nine touchdowns in four seasons with the Rams, who released him in October. In November, he worked out for the Seahawks, Caplan reported. He also got an audition with the Panthers.
NFL teams can start signing free agents to 2015 offseason rosters beginning on Monday.
With the 49ers’ season ending in less than 48 hours, potential suitors for head coach Jim Harbaugh are reportedly getting close to officially turning over their cards.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the University of Michigan plans to soon talk with Harbaugh. Rapoport and Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports both report Michigan officials are in the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend. The 49ers (7-8) host the Cardinals at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
According to Rapoport, Harbaugh will attend to his 49ers business before any discussion with interested parties. And the Raiders, Rapoport indicated, are also interested in Harbaugh. However, the Raiders would need permission to speak to Harbaugh, who has one year left on his contract with San Francisco.
Mike Scifres‘ season could be at an end.
The Chargers are expected to put Scifres, their long-time punter, on injured reserve, Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com reported Friday evening.
Regarded as one of the game’s top punters, Scifres suffered a broken clavicle in the Chargers’ December 7 loss to New England. Mat McBriar has filled in for Scifres for San Diego (9-6), which can clinch a wild-card spot with a victory Sunday at Kansas City.
According to Marvez, the Chargers are in need of center depth, and the club doesn’t intend to place tailback Ryan Mathews (ankle) or wideout Keenan Allen (ankle/shoulder) on injured reserve. Mathews has been ruled out for Sunday’s game, while Allen is doubtful. The Chargers’ current starting center, Chris Watt, is questionable with an ankle injury.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Friday that left tackle Russell Okung has been cleared to play after suffering a bruised lung two weeks ago against the San Francisco 49ers.
Center Max Unger will be a game-time decision for Sunday’s regular season finale against the St. Louis Rams.
Okung had to be taken to the hospital for evaluation following a block from former 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald on an interception return at the end of the first half of Seattle’s 17-7 win. Okung missed last week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals but practiced all week and appears ready to return to the lineup.
“Russell had a full week and he’s been cleared to play so Russell is in good shape,” Carroll said.
Unger has missed the last five games after suffering a high-ankle sprain against the Kansas City Chiefs. Unger returned to practice on Dec. 12, but had a setback and did not practice at all last week. He worked in consecutive practices this week for the first time since being injured.
“Max made it through (practice),” Carroll said. “We’ll see how it goes. We’ll take it one day at a time.”
Unger has appeared in just six games this season as he was previously sidelined for four games with a sprained foot in October. However, Carroll said it’s not a priority for them to get Unger any game snaps before the start of the playoffs.
“That’s not a consideration,” Carroll said. “We’re trying to win a game.”
Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (hamstring) and defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (ankle) have both been officially ruled out. Receiver Chris Matthews returned to practice after missing last week with a hamstring injury of his own. Carroll said he’ll be a game-time decision and is listed as questionable.
Cornerback Tharold Simon is also questionable after suffering a shoulder injury last week against Arizona.
The Saints placed tailback Pierre Thomas and defensive end Akiem Hicks on injured reserve on Friday. To fill the open roster spots, club promoted rookie wide receiver Brandon Coleman and second-year linebacker Jerry Franklin from the practice squad.
The moves were disclosed in the league’s daily personnel report.
Neither Thomas nor Hicks were on the Week 17 injury report, but both have dealt ailments in recent weeks, with Thomas enduring rib/shoulder injuries and Hicks having an ankle injury.
The 30-year-old Thomas caught 45 passes for 378 yards and one TD in 11 games for New Orleans. He also rushed 46 times for 222 yards and a pair of scores.
Hicks, 25, started 14-of-15 games this season, notching 42 tackles and two sacks.
The 22-year-old Coleman played collegiately at Rutgers. At 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, Coleman has excellent size for the position.
Franklin, 26, played in seven games for Kansas City earlier this season. The Arkansas product has made 20 regular season appearances, with the other 13 coming with Chicago in 2012 and 2013.
Browns rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert has taken criticism from coaches and teammates who question whether he has worked hard enough this year. And Gilbert, the eighth overall pick in the draft, promises he’s going to prove anyone who doubts him wrong.
“I will be great,” Gilbert said, via ESPN.
Gilbert hasn’t been great so far this season, and veteran teammates including safety Donte Whitner and linebacker Karlos Dansby have complained that Gilbert doesn’t prepare like a pro. Gilbert didn’t seem to appreciate that, saying that Whitner is “the guy who’s always just talking” and that the public criticisms are things his teammates “could have been kept to themselves.”
Still, Gilbert acknowledges that his teammates may have had a point.
“I’m not mad at anyone about it,” Gilbert said. “I brought it upon myself. I can take that and roll with it. I messed up. But I can promise my teammates I’m going to make it right.”
It’s too late for Gilbert to make it right this year. But the Browns need Gilbert to play a lot better next year.