Skip to content

PFT’s Week Three Picks

Ben Getty Images

Last week, I had my chance to pull even with MDS.  Thanks to a Panthers defense that was playing not to lose and a blown coverage at the goal line that guaranteed it, I had prevailed in the only disagreement of the day.

But then came the night game.  And I was one of the “ignorant idiots” who thought the 49ers could beat the Seahawks in Seattle.

The result was a push for the week, with both of us getting 12 right and four wrong.  For the year, I’m 23-9, and MDS is 24-8.

This week, all hell will break loose, Breaking Bad style.  We disagree on SIX of the games.  For all the picks from Week Three, scroll baby, scroll.

Chiefs at Eagles

MDS’s take: Can Andy Reid return to Philadelphia and get his team to 3-0? It would be a great story, but I don’t see it happening: Chip Kelly’s offense will put too many points on the board for Reid’s more conservative offense to keep up.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 31, Chiefs 27.

Florio’s take:  Week Two helped everyone make better sense of Week One.  And it appears through both games that the Chiefs doing what coach Andy Reid wants them to do, and that the Eagles are still a work in progress under Chip Kelly.  This may be Big Red’s only chance to win another game in Philly.  It’s unlikely he’ll squander it.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 27, Eagles 20.

Texans at Ravens

MDS’s take: The defending Super Bowl champions just haven’t looked particularly good on either side of the ball this season, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. J.J. Watt is going to make life miserable for Joe Flacco as Houston wins a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Texans 17, Ravens 9.

Florio’s take:  Both teams are banged up a bit, and each has struggled.  Give the home team the edge — even though Ed Reed could end up making the difference for Houston.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 24, Texans 21.

Packers at Bengals

MDS’s take: I like the way the Bengals’ defense is playing, but I like the way Aaron Rodgers is playing more. Expect Rodgers to have a big game as the Packers improve to 2-1.

MDS’s pick: Packers 30, Bengals 20.

Florio’s take:  Green Bay’s defense is better, and its offense at times is unstoppable.  The Packers offensive line has been holding up well enough to let 2011 NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers play like a serious contender for 2013 NFL MVP.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 31, Bengals 27.

Giants at Panthers

MDS’s take: I viewed both of these teams as playoff contenders heading into the season, but the loser will be 0-3, and it’s awfully tough for any team to dig itself out of a hole that deep. Both teams have offensive problems that need to be corrected, and I have more confidence in Tom Coughlin and his staff to figure out a way to cut down on the turnovers than I have in Ron Rivera and his staff to find a way to get Cam Newton making big plays again. So I’m leaning toward the Giants in a close one.

MDS’s pick: Giants 21, Panthers 20.

Florio’s take:  Last year in Week Three, the Giants blew out the Panthers in their own building.  And the Giants still didn’t make the playoffs.  This year, it won’t be as ugly against a Panthers team that has been playing not to lose — and that has no one to cover Victor Cruz.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 27, Panthers 17.

Rams at Cowboys

MDS’s take: I’m not really sold on either of these teams as NFC playoff contenders, although the NFC East looks so weak that the Cowboys just need to hang around .500 all season to stay in the race. I see the Cowboys getting above .500 with a close home win over the Rams.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 21, Rams 17.

Florio’s take:  The all-time series is tied at 11-11 in the regular season, and 4-4 in the postseason.  The easy pick is the Cowboys, who held serve (finally) against the Giants in Week One to start the season.  But the right pick could be the Rams, who held off a Cardinals team that beat the Lions — and who rebounded from a deep deficit against the Falcons to make a game of it on Sunday.

Florio’s pick:  Rams 24, Cowboys 23.

Browns at Vikings

MDS’s take: I was tempted to pick the upset before the Browns traded Trent Richardson because I thought Richardson could move the ball effectively against the suspect Vikings run defense. But I just can’t pick a team to win on the road with Brian Hoyer as its starting quarterback and no running backs who have carried the ball a single time all season.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 20, Browns 13.

Florio’s take:  Brian Hoyer, Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, Bernie Kosar.  It doesn’t matter.  The Trent Richardson trade puts extra pressure on the passing game against a Vikings team playing the first game of its final season in the Metrodome.  Adrian Peterson will show the Browns what they hoped they were getting when they traded up with Minnesota to take Richardson.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 27, Browns 14.

Buccaneers at Patriots

MDS’s take: The Bucs have played better than their 0-2 record suggests. The Patriots have played worse than their 2-0 record suggests. This is a close game, but in the end the Patriots will pull it out at home.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 24, Buccaneers 17.

Florio’s take:  The Pats are 2-0 and could be 0-2.  The Bucs are 0-2 and could be 2-0.  But New England is the team with the franchise quarterback and the coach with enough pelts on the wall to justify antisocial behavior.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 20, Buccaneers 10.

Cardinals at Saints

MDS’s take: The Saints have started 2-0 without their offense really breaking out yet. Week Three will be when we see Sean Payton’s offense shine.

MDS’s pick: Saints 31, Cardinals 10.

Florio’s take:  The Cardinals are better than anyone thought they’d be.  And that will serve them very well.  But not in New Orleans against the Saints, who also are better than anyone thought they’d be.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 31, Cardinals 24.

Chargers at Titans

MDS’s take: The Titans’ defense is a lot better than it was last year, and I think Gregg Williams deserves a lot of the credit. Before he was known for Bountygate, Williams was known for devising aggressive schemes that gave opposing quarterbacks fits, and that’s what he’s doing in Tennessee this season. His defense will give Philip Rivers fits on Sunday as the Titans improve to 2-1.

MDS’s pick: Titans 20, Chargers 10.

Florio’s take:  The franchises that squared off in the first two AFL title games get together, with both so far looking like potential playoff teams.  Flip a coin, throw a dart, light a match.  What the Chargers did in Philly was more impressive than what the Titans did in Pittsburgh.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 28, Titans 25.

Lions at Redskins

MDS’s take: I’ve gone back and forth on this one: When Washington has the ball, I could see Robert Griffin III having his best game of the season against a suspect Lions secondary, but I could also see a talented Lions line making life miserable for Griffin. When Detroit has the ball, I could see Matthew Stafford putting up huge numbers against a defense that has looked terrible this year, but I could also see the Lions struggling if Reggie Bush is at less than 100 percent. Ultimately, I think the story of the game will be that Washington still doesn’t have its defensive problems fixed.

MDS’s pick: Lions 31, Redskins 30.

Florio’s take:  The Lions have never ever ever never ever never won in D.C.  The Redskins have never ever ever never ever never won in 2013, dating back to January.  Though we don’t know whether No. 21 will be available, it’s time for Detroit to end an 0-21 road streak that dates back well before the commencement of the Curse of Bobby Layne.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 27, Redskins 20.

Falcons at Dolphins

MDS’s take: The Dolphins’ defense is good against the pass and bad against the run. Unfortunately for the Falcons, with Steven Jackson out they can’t take advantage of Miami’s biggest weakness. The Dolphins will improve to 3-0 with a low-scoring win.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 17, Falcons 13.

Florio’s take:  Could the 13-3 Falcons plunge to 1-2?  Yes they could, thanks to an improving Dolphins team that has started the season with a pair of road wins.  Injuries aren’t helping matters for the defending NFC South champions, who’ll need to help their offensive lineman in order to ensure Matt Ryan doesn’t join the list of the limping.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 24, Falcons 20.

Bills at Jets

MDS’s take: It’s billed as the battle of AFC East rookie quarterbacks, but neither Buffalo’s EJ Manuel nor New York’s Geno Smith will be able to do much in a game that will be dominated by defense. I’m picking the Jets to win by a field goal.

MDS’s pick: Jets 9, Bills 6.

Florio’s take:  This battle of rookie quarterbacks will overshadow a far more intriguing subtext relating to the return of former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to face his former boss, Rex Ryan.  The road team simply has the better overall talent.  Which means that, at least for now, the servant becomes the master — and the Bills become the third-best team in the division.

Florio’s pick:  Bills 20, Jets 17.

Colts at 49ers

MDS’s take: Last year the Colts got a lot of good breaks on the way to a surprising playoff run. This year the Colts are getting all kinds of bad breaks, and they’re crashing back to earth. The 49ers will rebound from Sunday’s loss in Seattle and beat the Colts easily.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Colts 10.

Florio’s take:  It’s a Stanford reunion, with Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh and Coby Fleener and Pep Hamiltion reminiscing about their mutual dislike of Pete Carroll and Cal.  After, of course, the 49ers take care of business against a team that saw five of its six total losses in 2012 come when playing away from home.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 35, Colts 20.

Jaguars at Seahawks

MDS’s take: In one of the most lopsided games in recent NFL history, the question isn’t so much who will win as by how much. I think it’s the Seahawks by a lot.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 38, Jaguars 10.

Florio’s take:  The CBS affiliate in Orlando will be apologizing again.  If the Seahawks can beat one of the best teams in the league by 26 in Seattle, this one could be historic.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 45, Jaguars 6.

Bears at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Steelers’ offense has been dismal this season, and the Bears’ defense isn’t going to make things any easier. The Bears improve to 3-0 and the Steelers drop to 0-3.

MDS’s pick: Bears 24, Steelers 10.

Florio’s take:  The Steelers rarely are on the mat.  When it happens, they find a way to get up.  Eight years ago, they were left for dead after a loss to the Bengals, and the Steelers sparked a run that resulted in a Super Bowl win by beating the Bears at Heinz Field.  Though it’s way too early to even think about playoffs in Pittsburgh (except for the baseball team), it’s not too early to envision a proud franchise mustering enough punch to bring the 2-0 Bears back down to earth a bit.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 20, Bears  16.

Raiders at Broncos

MDS’s take: This is going to be a more competitive game than most people think. The Raiders aren’t quite the doormats that people were expecting them to be. Still, with Tyvon Branch injured, I don’t see any way the Raiders keep Peyton Manning in check, and it’s going to be tough for Terrelle Pryor and the Raiders’ offense to keep up.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 31, Raiders 23.

Florio’s takeRyan Clady or not, the better-than-expected Raiders still aren’t good enough to hang with the Broncos in their own building.  Look for another big night from Peyton Manning, who knows his supply of prime-time opportunities is dwindling.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 45, Raiders 20.

Permalink 41 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Features, Rumor Mill, Top Stories
yo

Russell Okung not ruled out, Max Unger has chance to play against Cardinals

Dallas Cowboys v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said left tackle Russell Okung has yet to be ruled out for this week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.

“He’s still in the mix,” Carroll said. “He’s going to have some stuff done tomorrow that will let us know where he sits and all that. He’s not out of the plan yet.”

Carroll said Monday that Okung would likely miss 1-2 weeks due to a bruised lung suffered against the San Francisco 49ers. Okung was replaced by Alvin Bailey for the remainder of the game after Okung was injured on the final play of the first half.

Center Max Unger did not practice on Wednesday as Carroll said Unger was struggling to recover from the workload he went through in practice last Friday.

“He had a tough recovery from last Friday’s practice so he’s gonna be not going today, so we’ll see how he is tomorrow,” Carroll said. “We’re taking it one day at a time now. It’s close enough where we have a chance [to get him back].”

Unger has missed the last four games for Seattle after suffered a sprained ankle and knee injuries against the Kansas City Chiefs. Lemuel Jeanpierre and Patrick Lewis have started in Unger’s absence the last several weeks.

With Seattle giving up seven sacks to the Cardinals the last time they placed four weeks ago, the Seahawks could use Okung and Unger healthy and in the lineup. The game will either give the Cardinals the NFC West and home field advantage throughout the playoffs or put the Seahawks in the driver’s seat to accomplish both feats heading into the final week of the regular season.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Lions claim Josh Thomas off waivers from the Jets

New York Jets v Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

Cornerback Josh Thomas was released by the New York Jets on Tuesday after having his playbook and passport stolen.

However, Thomas wasn’t out of work long as he was claimed off waivers by the Detroit Lions on Wednesday.

Thomas played in one game for the Jets and appeared in three games for the Seattle Seahawks earlier this season. He spent the previous three years with the Carolina Panthers. He recorded two tackles and two passes defended.

To make room on the roster, the Lions placed tackle LaAdrian Waddle on injured reserve. Waddle started 10 games for the Lions this season before suffering a knee injury last week against the Minnesota Vikings.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Russell Wilson moves on from Bus Cook

Russell AP

As quarterback Russell Wilson closes in on the payday for which he becomes eligible the day after Week 17 ends, he’ll have a new agent to help him.

Per Adam Schefter of ESPN, Wilson has parted ways with Bus Cook, who has represented Wilson since he was drafted in 2012.  And as further proof of the carefully-manicured Russell Wilson image, the leak to Schefter came with an obvious request that the move be characterized as something other than what it really is.

“A source close to Wilson said Cook was not fired, but simply the quarterback was making a change,” Schefter wrote on Facebook.

Sure, Wilson was making a change.  He was making a change by firing Cook.

You can’t change an agent without firing the agent.  Unless Cook resigned or retired (and he didn’t), Wilson initiated the process of changing agents; Wilson fired Cook.

(Why would Schefter push something so obviously not true, you may ask?  Bookmark this page for when Schefter breaks the news that Wilson has signed a new mega-contract with a Seahawks.)

Wilson eventually will hire Mark Rodgers, a baseball-certified agent who currently has no active NFL clients, according to the NFLPA website.  Eventually, Rodgers will have a fairly big one — and his first order of business will be to negotiate a contract that cuts against the recent trend of paying young quarterbacks on a year-to-year basis.

But, hey, at least Rodgers won’t have to worry about getting fired if Wilson’s next contract is lacking.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Bears may be protecting Cutler against injury

Cutler Getty Images

Question:  What team benches a quarterback who signed a contract that pays him $22.5 million in 2014 and another fully-guaranteed $15.5 million in 2015?

Answer:  A team that doesn’t want an injury to derail a plan to trade or cut the quarterback.

Yes, Cutler will get $2.8125 million to not play in the final two weeks of the season.  It’s an obvious effort to keep Cutler healthy, so that he can be dangled in the offseason to a team that would be willing to assume Cutler’s contract.

The cap hit for trading Cutler would be fairly small, given that his 2014 pay started as a fully-guaranteed base salary.  In March, $5 million was converted to a signing bonus, clearing $4 million in cap space that assisted with the signing of defensive end Jared Allen.  That $4 million would hit the 2015 cap if Cutler is traded, but it would clear $11.5 million in total cap space for the next season.  And it would get the Bears off the hook for $15.5 million that they owe Cutler whether he’s on the team or not.

So while the decision to bench Cutler is a message to the player and the fans that poor performances won’t be tolerated, it’s actually a message to every other team in the league.  Cutler is available.

Who would possibly trade for Cutler?  That’ll be the subject of another post.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Michigan reportedly makes run at Jim Harbaugh

Harbaugh Getty Images

When it first became obvious Brady Hoke wouldn’t be back next year as head coach of the Michigan Wolverines, a report suggested that the folks at Ann Arbor were more interested in John Harbaugh (who didn’t go to Michigan) than Jim (who did).

Now, Michigan apparently has a keen interest in the soon-to-be-former 49ers coach.

Per multiple reports, Michigan has offered Harbaugh the job.  The package leaked to the media would pay Harbaugh $8 million per year over six years.

That’s far more than Harbaugh currently makes in San Francisco, and far more than the 49ers had offered in failed negotiations on a new deal.  The impasse arose, as one source with knowledge of the talks previously told PFT, because Harbaugh wanted to be paid like a Super Bowl-winning coach without, you know, winning a Super Bowl.

If the offer from Michigan, where it’s easy to finance a large coaching salary since the players get jack squat and free snacks, is real, he’d be paid like a Super Bowl-winning coach without winning a Super Bowl and without ever competing for one for as long as he’s at Michigan.

The leak and its origin suggest that Harbaugh’s agent hopes to use the offer as leverage in talks with interested NFL teams.  If Michigan will pay $8 million per year, how much will the Raiders, Dolphins, or other interested team fork over?  With the talent gap among teams as narrow as ever, a great coach can be the difference between mediocrity and a championship; great coaches at the NFL are worth far more than they currently get.

The possibility that Harbaugh will leave for Michigan also pressures Jed York and company to be very reasonable in any trade talks regarding Harbaugh.  If he chooses to go back to college, the 49ers get nothing.

Then again, the 49ers may prefer that outcome, since they wouldn’t have to worry about Harbaugh finishing with another franchise that which he started in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, some have suggested that Harbaugh wouldn’t use his alma mater as leverage for a better NFL job.  Why shouldn’t he?  Harbaugh played football there at a high level.  In return he got jack squat, without the free snacks.

Permalink 79 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Bears bench Jay Cutler, start Jimmy Clausen

Jimmy Clausen, Micheal Spurlock AP

The Bears’ collapse has reached epic proportions, as Jay Cutler has lost his job as Chicago’s starting quarterback.

Cutler has been benched and Jimmy Clausen will start on Sunday against the Lions, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

For Cutler to get benched after playing just 14 games into the enormous contract he signed this offseason demonstrates just how big the mess in Chicago is. That contract may cost both Bears G.M. Phil Emery and Bears coach Marc Trestman their jobs.

And Cutler’s play has already cost him his job. Whether Cutler has any future in Chicago or anywhere else in the NFL remains to be seen, and the Bears owe Cutler a guaranteed salary of $15.5 million next season whether he’s on their team or not.

But at the present, Cutler is out, and Clausen is the Bears’ starting quarterback.

Permalink 152 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Hot stove alert: Free agency begins March 10

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptgyzmixnzlhnza0mtzkngvjotm2nzaxnzq5n2m4yzbj AP

Dislike your favorite team’s roster? Take heart: By St. Patrick’s Day, it could be much, much different.

The 2015 NFL league year will begin Tuesday, March 10, the NFL disclosed Wednesday as it released the opening portion of its annual calendar.

With the new league year comes the start of unrestricted free agency, one of the primary ways for clubs to procure talent. Even then, at the outset, the market will be somewhat thinned; teams must declare their transition and franchise free agents by Monday, March 2. The fight for the remaining free agents will begin in earnest on Saturday, March 7, with teams allowed to begin negotiating with agents.

Then, at 4 p.m. Eastern on the 10th, the market will open, and deals will quickly be announced.

By March 17 — three months from today — things will have cooled down. Some deals will remain undone, but the big ones will be in the books. A nation of football fans will wear more green than usual and ponder which of the pre-draft chatter is legit and which is junk.

About the 2015 NFL Draft: it kicks off Thursday, April 30 in Chicago. By the time it wraps up on Saturday, May 2, we will have a very good idea of where these teams stand.

At least we’ll think we know. The good news? Rookie minicamps begin the next week. Already you will be tired of the offseason, and the sight of 7-on-7 drills will take your mind off the fact you’re wearing more pastels than usual this spring.

Permalink 8 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Manziel says Browns were “a little off” on Sunday

Manziel AP

It’s getting fairly late in the calender for the “Understatements of the Year,” but Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel has offered up an impressive entry for belated consideration.

“I think we were just a little off on Sunday,” Manziel told reporters on Wednesday regarding the zero-point, 107-yard output at home against the Bengals on Sunday.

Manziel then offered up a little Lion King-style philosophizing.

“Last week is last week, and last week is in the past,” Manziel said.  “It’s not about anything having to do with last week.  That’s in the past.  Now, it’s just how do we come out and have a good game this week and how do we come out and be efficient. It all starts with today and starts with getting our game plan in and going out and running it well on our first day of practice.  I felt like we had a good day today. It’s a start for us this week, and now we continue to build on that and work off that throughout the week.”

Manziel also said he thought they had a good week last week, so his assessment of whether it’s going well has proven to be a bad barometer of whether the Browns can avoid being a bad team with the rookie under center on Sunday against the Panthers.  And Manziel knows he needs to do something the next two week to show he’s the answer for 2015 and beyond.

“Play better,” Manziel said.  “Plain and simple.  This position here is about results, and it’s about getting the job done.  You’ve got to do that to be on the field in this league.  For me, that was a first start, and that’s something I’ll remember forever.  Unfortunately, it leaves a sour taste in my mouth, but at the same time, I’ve had bad games in college.  I’ve had bad games in the past, and it’s part of football.  You can’t go out and play perfect every week.  That’s a proven fact.”

It’s a proven fact that Manziel was the opposite of perfect against the Bengals.  He’ll need to be better than that soon or that homeless dude who advocated Manziel being picked to the owner will be giving Jimmy Haslam far different advice in 2015.

Permalink 36 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Mike Pettine on Bernie Kosar’s comments: They were a little dramatic

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns Getty Images

Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar ripped the organization this week for having a culture that is “a complete recipe for disaster” when it comes to developing the team’s first long-term answer at quarterback since Kosar was turfed by Bill Belichick more than 20 years ago.

Tim Couch, one of the fallen would-be saviors, agreed with Kosar, which all but guaranteed that questions about their comments would pop up during coach Mike Pettine’s meetings with the media this week. Pettine faced some on Wednesday and defended the organization’s commitment to building a winner the right way.

“I think that’s a little dramatic. I know I talked about this before when sometimes guys will make comments that are a little bit over the top,” Pettine said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I have a lot of respect for Bernie. He was one of my favorite guys growing up, heck of a quarterback. He’s entitled to his opinion, but being here on the inside of it and seeing what we’re building … We’re in the society of instant gratification. Everybody wants it to happen now, and as much as we want that to happen, it is a process. When you build a house you’ve got to build it from the foundation. You’ve got to build the right way and make sure it’s rock solid. We’re in the middle of that. I get people are going to have their opinions and say what they say, but a lot more of that happens when you’ve lost three in a row. I didn’t hear a lot of that when we had just gotten our seventh win.”

Clearly there’s been something wrong on the organizational level in Cleveland for the team to fail as regularly as they’ve failed since re-entering the league in 1999 and anything that goes badly at this point gets chalked up as being the same old story told in a slightly different way. That’s not fair to Pettine, Johnny Manziel or anyone else who just got to town, relatively speaking, but it’s going to be a reality of life in Cleveland until the Browns are consistent winners.

Permalink 16 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Marc Trestman: It’s evident I haven’t gotten best from Jay Cutler

New Orleans Saints v Chicago Bears Getty Images

For the second straight week, Bears coach Marc Trestman is getting questions about benching quarterback Jay Cutler in favor of Jimmy Clausen.

Trestman resisted any temptation to make a change last week and he’s doing the same this week, although he stuck with Cutler while admitting something that’s been apparent to everyone who has watched the Bears on offense this season. Trestman said that he thinks “it’s been evident” that he’s failed to get the best out of Cutler during the 2014 season.

“I haven’t been able [to get the best from Cutler] and we haven’t been able to do the things that we want to get done,” Trestman said, via ESPNChicago.com. “We’re working towards that. But the answer to that is obvious. I’m trying to give you the most truthful answer and that is, we’ve seen moments of it, but it’s not where we need to go. It’s not where we need to be. But it’s not all about Jay. It’s about our entire offense, working together to get it done.”

The question lingering over the Bears right now is whether Trestman will get more time to work with Cutler and the entire offense or if they’ll fire him after a second season as coach that has gone wrong in a wide variety of ways. The failure to get more out of the offense is as damning as anything for Trestman because his offensive acumen is what got him the job in the first place, although it remains hard to believe that Trestman or anyone else is going to find a way to turn Cutler into a radically different quarterback than the one he’s been over the first nine years of his career.

Permalink 55 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Painkiller lawsuit dismissed

image2 Getty Images

When a group of former players sued the NFL for the improper distribution of painkillers by team doctors, the effort got a lot more traction in the media than the concussion lawsuits received in their early stages.  Viewed as the next wave of liability for a league plagued with safety concerns, it was presumed by many that the NFL was on the ropes, from a legal perspective.

While the concussion lawsuit ended up generating significant liability for the NFL, the painkiller lawsuit apparently will create none.

U.S. Judge William Alsup has dismissed the lawsuit, explaining that it is preempted by the Collective Bargaining Agreements governing the relationship between the NFL and its players.

“In ruling against the novel claims asserted herein, this order does not minimize the underlying societal issue,” Judge Alsup wrote in a 22-page order, a copy of which PFT has obtained. “In such a rough-and-tumble sport as professional football, player injuries loom as a serious and inevitable evil. Proper care of these injuries is likewise a paramount need. The main point of this order is that the league has addressed these serious concerns in a serious way — by imposing duties on the clubs via collective bargaining and placing a long line of health-and-safety duties on the team owners themselves. These benefits may not have been perfect but they have been uniform across all clubs and not left to the vagaries of state common law. They are backed up by the enforcement power of the union itself and the players’ right to enforce these benefits. Given the regime in place after decades of collective bargaining over the scope of these duties, it would be impossible to fashion and to apply new and supplemental state common law duties on the league without taking into accountvthe adequacy and scope of the CBA duties already set in place.”

In other words, if individual teams and/or individual team doctors have been prescribing medication improperly, the players should pursue claims directly against the teams, through the arbitration procedures available under the labor deal.

The ruling doesn’t account for the period when there was no CBA, following the 1987 strike and until 1993.  Still, even without the Collective Bargaining Agreement, it seems that it would have been difficult if not impossible for former players to prove that the NFL has responsibility for the actions of its teams.

“The essence of plaintiffs’ claim for relief is that the individual clubs mistreated their players and the league was negligent in failing to intervene and stop their alleged mistreatment,” Judge Alsup wrote.  “Plaintiffs anchor this claim for relief in supposed common law duties of each of the various states whose law would apply and vaguely suggest that all such states would impose the same uniform duty on the league to oversee the clubs.

“One problem is this: no decision in any state (including California) has ever held that a professional sports league owed such a duty to intervene and stop mistreatment by the league’s independent clubs.”

Judge Alsup gave the players until December 30 to file a motion for permission to amend the complaint that states a viable legal cause of action. The players also have appeal rights. So while the case isn’t over, it’s the players who are now on the ropes, from a legal perspective.

Permalink 16 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Andre Johnson practices as Texans weigh quarterback options

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans Getty Images

The good news for the Texans passing game is that wide receiver Andre Johnson returned to practice on Wednesday after missing last week while recovering from a concussion.

With the Ravens shuffling another new cornerback into their injury-depleted corps this week, having Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins available would seem to give the Texans a sound route of attack come Sunday. That brings us to the bad news.

The Texans are without their top three quarterbacks, leaving them to decide between Thad Lewis and the recently reacquired Case Keenum for starting quarterback duties against Baltimore. On Wednesday, Texans coach Bill O’Brien said he’s closing in on a decision that he doesn’t plan to share with anyone outside the team.

“The team has a pretty good idea which way we are going,” O’Brien said, via the Houston Chronicle.

Whoever does get tabbed will be running an offense that’s pared down to what “the position can handle,” according to quarterbacks coach George Godsey. We’re guessing that’s not an onslaught of passes deep downfield, but we’ll have to wait until Sunday to find that out as well.

Permalink 13 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Philip Rivers held out of practice, expected to play

Philip Rivers AP

Philip Rivers‘ tough-guy credentials are well-established. Playing with a torn ACL earns you that much.

But even Philip Rivers needs a day off.

According to Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego, Rivers was held out of practice Wednesday with chest and back injuries.

Rivers has started 128 consecutive games since winning the starting job in 2006, and has played through plenty of aches and pains.

They still hope he’s going to be able to play Saturday night against the 49ers.

“I feel good,” Rivers said Tuesday. ‘I’ll be ready to roll on Saturday evening.”

Head coach Mike McCoy took it a step further today, telling reporters “I expect him to play.”

He wasn’t the only one missing, as the Chargers were without wide receiver Keenan Allen (collarbone), running back Ryan Mathews (ankle), tight end Ladarius Green (ankle) and defensive end Corey Liuget (ankle).

Permalink 17 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Dexter McCluster out Thursday, likely out Week 17 as well

New York Jets v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

The Titans signed Dexter McCluster as a free agent to add to their offense and special teams, but his first year in Tennessee looks like it will come to a premature end.

McCluster has been ruled out for Thursday night’s game against the Jaguars because of a knee injury and Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean reports that it sounds like he’ll be out for the season finale against the Colts as well. If that’s the case, McCluster will miss out on the chance to end a disappointing year on a high note.

McCluster ran 40 times for 131 yards and caught 26 passes for 197 yards while failing to make the same kind of impact on punt returns that he had while returning two kicks for touchdowns for the Chiefs in 2013. McCluster signed a three-year deal worth a total of $9 million with $4.5 million guaranteed and he’s set to count $3.35 million against the cap next year.

Left tackle Taylor Lewan (ankle) and quarterback Zach Mettenberger (shoulder) are both doubtful for Tennessee, which means we’re going to see Charlie Whitehurst start for the fourth time this season. Tight end Delanie Walker (knee) and wide receiver Kendall Wright (hand) are both questionable for the clash between 2-12 teams.

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

49ers cut Ray McDonald amid rape investigation

San Francisco 49ers v Houston Texans Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers have released defensive lineman Ray McDonald, hours after news broke that police searched his home in connection with an investigation into a sexual assault.

General Manager Trent Baalke said the 49ers made the decision to terminate McDonald’s contract because of a pattern of behavior that the team finds unacceptable.

That represents a sharp contrast from the 49ers’ approach to McDonald early this season. When McDonald was arrested and investigated in a domestic violence case, the 49ers steadfastly stood by him, even as they faced harsh criticism from those who said he had no business on the field at a time when Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson were all banished from the league. In that case, authorities ultimately decided not to charge McDonald.

There’s no word yet on whether McDonald will be charged in the new sexual assault case, but it’s clear that the 49ers have decided that McDonald is someone they no longer want representing their franchise.

Permalink 151 Comments Feed for comments Back to top