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NFL morning after: Andy Reid’s amazing turnaround

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Peyton Manning is on pace for a zillion touchdowns, and Jimmy Graham is playing tight end as well as anyone has ever played the position, and Robert Mathis is on pace to break the single-season sack record. But if I had to pick one person who has done his job the best so far this season, it wouldn’t be any of those players — or any player. It would be Chiefs coach Andy Reid.

The job Reid has done, taking over a 2-14 team and getting off to a 5-0 start, is nothing short of remarkable. Last year’s Chiefs were a mess on offense, defense and special teams. This year’s Chiefs are playing outstanding football in all three phases of the game. If it wasn’t already clear before Sunday’s 26-17 win over a good Titans team in Tennessee, it’s clear now: The Chiefs are for real.

That’s a huge surprise, but maybe it shouldn’t be. After all, Reid — despite the way it ended for him in Philadelphia — has already shown with the Eagles that he’s one of the best coaches in the NFL.

There were fair criticisms of Reid during his Eagles tenure, and given the way things went south in Philadelphia last season, letting him go might have been the right move for the Eagles. But let’s not pretend Reid isn’t an outstanding coach. In 1999, the Eagles team Reid took over was terrible. A year later he had them in the playoffs, and Reid led the Eagles to the playoffs nine times from 2000 to 2010.

Yes, there are areas of coaching where Reid struggles, like managing the clock late in game. But the areas of coaching where Reid excels, like developing players, implementing an offensive system and devising weekly game plans, are the bulk of the work a coach does. That work might not be as visible as a clock-management miscue in crunch time, but it’s more important to building a good football team.

And building a good football team is exactly what Reid is doing in Kansas City. Reid’s offense is a good system for Alex Smith to do his usual unspectacular-but-efficient thing at quarterback, and for Jamaal Charles to show that he’s one of the best running backs in the NFL. But what I really like is what Reid did on defense, hiring Bob Sutton — a longtime college and pro coach who had never worked with Reid before — as his defensive coordinator. Reid took some criticism in Philadelphia for hiring and promoting his buddies (most notably former Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo) as assistant coaches. He wisely looked beyond his inner circle for his defensive staff, and it has worked. The Chiefs’ defense has been great against the pass all season, and on Sunday they also held Titans running back Chris Johnson to just 17 yards on 10 carries.

I don’t think the Chiefs are going to beat out the Broncos in the AFC West. But I do think they’re going to be a wild card team, and a tough team to beat in January. Andy Reid will have another Coach of the Year award to put on his mantel at the end of this season.

Reid’s coaching impressed me the most about Sunday’s games. Here are my other thoughts:

Seattle’s Jon Ryan may be the NFL’s fastest punter and worst tackler. Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka had a field goal blocked on Sunday in Indianapolis, and Colts defensive back Delano Howell picked up the ball and raced toward the end zone. Amazingly, Ryan, the Seahawks’ punter and holder, gave chase and actually caught Howell — yes, a punter ran down a defensive back. Unfortunately, Ryan totally whiffed on the tackle, and Howell went the rest of the way to the end zone, completing a 61-yard return for a touchdown. Ryan will probably take some ribbing from teammates this week for his pathetic excuse for a tackle, but no one expects kickers to be able to tackle. Howell will take more ribbing for letting a punter catch him from behind.

Lance Briggs, what are you thinking? On fourth-and-1 late in the game, the Saints lined up to go for it in one of those situations where everyone watching is saying the same thing: “The Saints are just trying to draw the Bears offside.” So what happens? Saints quarterback Drew Brees uses a hard count, Briggs jumps offside, and the Saints are gifted a first down. Briggs is supposed to be the veteran leader of the Bears’ defense, but he committed one of the bonehead plays of the day. You just can’t jump offside on fourth-and-short.

The Broncos are ridiculous. No team in NFL history has ever scored even 600 points in a season. The all-time record is 589, by the 16-0 Patriots of 2007. The Broncos scored 51 points in Sunday’s win over the Cowboys to improve their total on the season to 230, putting them on pace to score 736 this season. The Broncos’ 230 points are the most for any team through five games in NFL history. If the Broncos average 33 points a game the rest of the way, they’ll break the Patriots’ record.

Maybe Trent Richardson just isn’t very good. When the Browns traded Richardson to the Colts for a first-round draft pick, most people thought it was a bold move by the Colts and a wave of the white flag by the Browns. Instead, Cleveland has gone 3-0 since allegedly giving up on the season by shipping Richardson to Indianapolis, and Richardson hasn’t done much of anything for the Colts. Yes, the Colts are 3-0 with Richardson, but his impact on their offense has been negligible. On Sunday, Richardson carried 18 times for 56 yards, and 11 of his 16 carries gained two yards or less. As a rookie in Cleveland Richardson averaged 3.6 yards a carry, and in five games this season, Richardson has averaged 3.6, 3.2, 2.7, 3.0 and 3.1 yards a carry. Despite the talent he showed at Alabama, maybe Richardson just isn’t a good enough runner to consistently make plays at the professional level.

Johnny Unitas was amazing. Why was I thinking about Johnny Unitas on Sunday? Because Tom Brady’s streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass ended at 52, and that got me to thinking about the all-time record for consecutive touchdown games with a touchdown pass, which Johnny Unitas owned from 1960 (when he set the old record of 47) until both Brady and Drew Brees passed Unitas last year. Just think how different the NFL passing environment was when Johnny Unitas was playing in the 1950s and 1960s. The officials weren’t protecting quarterbacks and receivers from hits on defenseless players, and defenders had far more leeway to rough up receivers downfield. In those days, you could lead the league with only 20 touchdown passes. And yet Unitas set a passing record that didn’t get broken until 2012. Amazing.

If the Jaguars didn’t have bad luck, they’d have no luck at all. When Jacksonville traded offensive tackle Eugene Monroe last week, I thought it made sense: The Jaguars aren’t going anywhere this season, and they might as well pick up a fourth-round pick and a fifth-round pick for Monroe now, rather than let Monroe leave in free agency for nothing after the season. But then came Sunday, when rookie left tackle Luke Joeckel was carted off the field with a leg injury. Losing Joeckel and not having Monroe anymore means the offensive line that will protect quarterback Blaine Gabbert the rest of this season will be brutally bad. I don’t know if the Jaguars will match the 0-16 Lions of 2008, but it’s hard for me to figure out when the Jaguars are going to win a game.

We may be witnessing the end of Tom Coughlin. I have a lot of respect for what Coughlin has done in his NFL coaching career, both his two Super Bowls with the Giants and the way he built the expansion Jaguars into contenders in the 1990s. But sometimes a coach just reaches a point where he can’t take his team any further, and Coughlin looks like he has reached that point with the Giants. Coughlin made some weird game management decisions in Sunday’s loss to the Eagles, including a bizarre decision not to decline a penalty after the Giants made a stop on third down (the Eagles converted on the ensuing play) and burning two timeouts in a row, first by calling one and then by getting a challenge wrong during that timeout. I’m not going to say the Giants should fire Coughlin and I’m not going to say he needs to retire. But I do think he looks like he could use a fresh start. Kind of like Andy Reid.

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Seahawks waive five players

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The Seahawks waived five veteran backups on Tuesday, including fullback/linebacker Mike Zimmer, defensive end Julius Warmsley and offensive tackle Justin Renfrow, each of whom had stints on the Seattle practice squad last season.

The transactions were announced in the NFL personnel notice.

Zimmer (6-2, 239) has played offense and defense in his NFL career, with Seattle employing him as a practice squad fullback in the latter stages of the 2014 season. Zimmer is not related to Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer.

Warmsley (6-2, 269) was on the Seahawks’ practice squad from September through November 11, when he was placed on practice squad injured reserve.

Renfrow (6-6, 310) was a defensive lineman at Miami (Fla.).

The Seahawks also waived linebacker Mike Taylor (failed physical) and center Jared Wheeler.

The Seahawks’ online roster currently lists 91 players, which could mean more transactions may have to occur.

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Bears sign RB Jeremy Langford

Langford Getty Images

And now they’re up to three.

Not long after announcing deals with fifth-round safety Adrian Amos and sixth-round tackle Tayo Fabuluje, the Bears announced a four-year contract with fourth-round running back Jeremy Langford.

It could be that the Bears already have struck deals with most of their draft picks, and that they’ll be bleeding out the announcements every 30 to 60 minutes, throughout the evening.

Langford was the 106th overall choice in the draft.  He scored 22 rushing touchdowns in 2014, and added 1,522 rushing yards.

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Second Hernandez murder case returns to court on May 21

Hernandez AP

Last month, a jury in Bristol County, Massachusetts convicted former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez of murdering Odin Lloyd.  Later this month, a court in Suffolk County, Massachusetts will move closer toward setting a trial date in connection with the allegation that Hernandez killed two men in Boston, 11 months earlier.

Per multiple reports, a status hearing will be held on May 21 for the murder case arising from the shooting deaths of Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu.  Hernandez will not be present for the hearing.

Presumably, a trial date will be set at that time.  The trial at one point was scheduled to begin in late May.  An indefinite postponement occurred, in deference to the trial arising from the Lloyd murder.

Hernandez currently is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, subject to appeal of the verdict.  In multiple respects, the second case against him is even stronger.

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Bears start signing draft picks

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Even with a new coach and a new General Manger, the Chicago Bears continue to do one of the things that has become their signature in recent years:  Sign draft picks earlier than anyone.

The Bears have announced four-year contracts with a pair of rookies selected on Saturday.  Fifth-round safety Adrian Amos and sixth-round tackle Tayo Fabuluje are under contract.

The Buccaneers signed quarterback Jameis Winston, the first overall pick in the draft, on Friday.  The Bears presumably will continue to sign pick after pick until signing all of their class.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Rams typically wait until the end of the offseason program, signing all rookies in one fell swoop.

Regardless, the 2011 labor deal makes it easier than ever to get these deals negotiated quickly.

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Raiders waive TE Nick Kasa

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The Raiders have let go of a recent draft pick, waiving tight end Nick Kasa with a failed physical designation on Tuesday, per the NFL’s personnel notice.

A sixth-round pick in 2013, Kasa played all 16 games as a rookie, catching a nine-yard TD pass in the season finale. However, he missed the 2014 season with an ACL tear suffered in August.

In addition to parting ways with Kasa, the Raiders waived linebacker Bojay Filimoeatu, linebacker Justin Jackson, defensive tackle Kona Schwenke and defensive back Jansen Watson on Tuesday.

Also disclosed by the NFL were the previously reported departures of wide receiver James Jones, offensive guard Kevin Boothe and linebacker Miles Burris.

The transactions leave the Raiders with 76 players on the roster, including the team’s 2015 draft picks.

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Bears claim Paul Cornick off waivers

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Paul Cornick will continue playing for John Fox and Adam Gase.

Cornick, an offensive lineman who was waived by the Broncos yesterday, was claimed by the Bears today.

Last year Cornick played in 12 games for the Broncos, starting six. Fox coached the Broncos and Gase was their offensive coordinator last year, and now Fox and Gase have those roles in Chicago.

With the Bears, Cornick likely won’t start but provides depth at offensive tackle.

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Manziel moves from Downtown Cleveland to the suburbs

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As Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel tries to put a disastrous rookie season behind him, he’s putting Cleveland in his rear-view mirror. Sort of.

Via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, Manziel has moved from an apartment in Downtown Cleveland to a suburban community surrounding a golf course.

The lobby of Manziel’s building was the scene of one of the various Manziel-related incidents in 2014 — a scuffle involving a zealous fan and one of Manziel’s associates.

Per Fowler, Manziel has embraced golf as part of his recovery from issues that landed him in rehab for 10 weeks earlier this year. He continues to have a long way to go to become the starter in Cleveland, but it’s clear that he’s making the changes that could lay the foundation for success.

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Unlike Mariota, Dorsett didn’t get an apology

Dorsett Getty Images

On Thursday night, the Commissioner wasn’t 31 for 32.  He was 30 for 32.  Which is a great average when it comes to getting on base safely or putting a basketball through the hoop from a line painted 15 feet away.

It’s not a great average when it comes to properly pronouncing the names of the newest NFL employees.

In addition to pronouncing Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota’s name incorrectly (Marioto), Commissioner Roger Goodell said the name of Colts receiver Phillip Dorsett with the emphasis on the first syllable, a la Tony Dorsett before he made the move from Pitt to the Cowboys.

Mariota said Monday that he received a phone call from the Commissioner with an apology.  On Tuesday, Dorsett told PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio that he didn’t.  Dorsett also said he didn’t mind the incorrect announcement of his name.  (Mariota didn’t know his name had been butchered until the apology came.)

Dorsett also said he hadn’t heard from the Colts since the Scouting Combine, making their decision to select him even more of a surprise.  To hear everything Dorsett had to say, click here and select the “Big Name Guests” tab.

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Chiefs cut Terrelle Pryor

Terrelle Pryor AP

Terrelle Pryor’s tenure with the Chiefs didn’t last long.

Pryor, the former Raiders starter, was cut by the Chiefs today. He’s been with the Chiefs since January.

The Raiders spent a third-round pick in the 2011 supplemental draft on Pryor after his controversial career at Ohio State was cut short. He showed flashes of talent as the Raiders’ top quarterback for most of the 2013 season, but the team ultimately decided he simply wasn’t a good enough passer to make it as an NFL quarterback. He was traded to the Seahawks last year and then cut by Seattle at the end of the preseason.

Now that Pryor has been cut again by the Chiefs, he may be nearing the end of the run. Although he’s a gifted athlete who can make things happen with the ball in his hands, his chance with the Chiefs could have been his last chance.

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Oddsmaker gives 49ers longest odds to win NFC West

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In the last three seasons, the 49ers have gone from first to second to third place in the four-team NFC West.

Perhaps, then, it is not a surprise to see San Francisco as the longest shot to win the West in 2015 at one notable Nevada sports book.

As of Tuesday, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists the 49ers as 9-to-1 to capture their division. The Cardinals and Rams are given 13-2 chances to win the NFC West behind Seattle, which is an overwhelming favorite at 2-to-7.

The 49ers’ odds seem to reflect the team’s sharp fade at the end of 2014. The club also took a perception hit after the departure of head coach Jim Harbaugh, who was 49-22-1 in four seasons in San Francisco.

While the 49ers are the biggest price to win the NFC West, they are the shortest-priced longest shots in any division, with the Browns (10-to-1), Bears (12-to-1), Jets (12-to-1), Buccaneers (12-to-1), Washington (15-to-1), Jaguars (20-to-1), Titans (25-to-1) and Raiders (25-to-1) all having higher odds.

Here are the SuperBook’s division-winning odds for all 32 teams:

AFC East: Patriots 4-to-9; Dolphins 4-to-1; Bills 5-to-1; Jets 12-to-1.

AFC North: Ravens 8-to-5; Steelers 2-to-1; Bengals 2-to-1; Browns 10-to-1.

AFC South: Colts 1-to-5; Texans 7-to-2; Jaguars 20-to-1; Titans 25-to-1.

AFC West: Broncos 5-to-12; Chiefs 7-to-2; Chargers 9-to-2; Raiders 25-to-1.

NFC East: Cowboys 13-to-10; Eagles 3-to-2; Giants 3-to-1; Washington 15-to-1.

NFC North: Packers 2-to-7; Lions 9-to-2; Vikings 8-to-1; Bears 12-to-1.

NFC South: Panthers 9-to-5; Saints 9-to-5; Falcons 9-to-5; Buccaneers 12-to-1.

NFC West: Seahawks 2-to-7; Cardinals 13-to-2; Rams 13-to-2; 49ers 9-to-1.

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Who will be the 2015 NFL offensive rookie of the year?

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Now that the draft has ended, we can start focusing on which of the players will be any good.  Especially those players who will end up generating a lot of yards and scoring a lot of points.

The poll question for Tuesday’s Pro Football Talk on NBCSN focuses on which rookie will become the 2015 NFL offensive rookie of the year.

Cast a vote now, and then tune in at 5:30 p.m. ET to see the results.  Along with everything else we’ll be talking about, with the involvement of Paul Burmeister, Ross Tucker, and Jason Taylor.

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Cardinals sign 14 undrafted free agents

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The unexpected retirement of tight end John Carlson might have caught the Cardinals unaware on Tuesday, but they didn’t have to wait long to fill his roster spot.

The team announced the signing of 14 undrafted rookies to round out their roster for the rest of offseason and training camp. They also announced that cornerback Roc Carmichael and running back Zach Bauman have been released.

Among the new additions is wide receiver Jaxon Shipley, who followed in his brother Jordan’s footsteps as a productive wideout at the University of Texas. Like his brother, he’s also best suited for the slot on offense and has experience as a returner.

The rest of the new Cardinals are Adams State cornerback Cariel Brooks, N.C. State tackle Rob Crisp, BYU linebacker Alani Fua, Shippensburg wide receiver Trevor Harman, Georgia Southern linebacker Edwin Jackson, Florida Atlantic linebacker Andrae Kirk, BYU running back Paul Lasike, Bowling Green linebacker Gabe Martin, Iowa wide receiver Damond Powell, Colorado State-Pueblo cornerback C.J. Roberts, Missouri State tight end Gannon Sinclair, Montana linebacker Zack Wagenmann and Northern Iowa nose tackle Xavier Williams.

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Mike Wallace: Nobody in the NFL can run with me

Mike Wallace, Harrison Smith AP

Speed has long been Vikings wide receiver Mike Wallace’s calling card, although it was hard to tell at times in Miami.

Whether because of scheme, chemistry with Ryan Tannehill or something else, Wallace wasn’t the deep threat for the Dolphins that he was earlier in his career with the Steelers. On Tuesday, Wallace made it clear that he doesn’t think it was because the league has caught up to his fleet feet.

“Without a doubt, I’m the fastest player in the NFL,’’ Wallace said, via the Pioneer Press. “If somebody feels foggy about that, we can (race). I’m never going to back down from competition. “I’ve run a lot of routes and I’ve got a lot of miles on my legs, but I still feel that there’s nobody (in the NFL) who can run with me. I might have slowed down a little but I could still run 4.25.”

Wallace didn’t point the finger at Tannehill, saying that there were things that both he and his Dolphins teammates could have done better over the last two years. He also said that “when you separate, you still have to connect” and that he’s “positive” he’ll be able to “showcase” his ability to get free of defenders in Minnesota.

The Vikings likely have the same optimism after trading for Wallace and planting him at the top of their receiver depth chart this offseason. If they’re right, the offense in Minnesota should be more explosive this time around.

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Panthers hire Russ Purnell to fill in for Bruce DeHaven during leave

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The Panthers suffered a football and a personal blow Tuesday, with the news that special teams coach Bruce DeHaven was taking a medical leave of absence.

But they’ve also lined up someone to fill his role until he’s ready to return.

The team confirmed the news of DeHaven’s undisclosed illness, but offered no other details.

“Our thoughts are with Bruce and his family, and we wish him a quick recovery,” coach Ron Rivera said in a statement. “Out of respect for Bruce and his family’s privacy, no additional information will be disclosed.”

They also announced that Russ Purnell would coach their special teams while DeHaven was out.

Purnell has 26 years of NFL experience, with the Seahawks, Oilers, Ravens, Colts and Jaguars, with a pair of Super Bowl rings with Indianapolis in 2006 and Baltimore in 2000.

He’s been out of coaching since working in the UFL in 2012.

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Quarterback, five WRs among 49ers’ undrafted free agents

Dylan Thompson AP

Though the 49ers did not draft a quarterback, they have added a rookie free agent at the position.

San Francisco has signed South Carolina’s Dylan Thompson, the team said Tuesday. Thompson is the lone quarterback among the 49ers’ nine undrafted free agent signees.

Thompson (6-3, 218) connected on about 60 percent of his pass attempts in 2014, throwing for 3,564 yards with 26 TDs and 11 interceptions. Thompson and Blaine Gabbert are the lone backups to Colin Kaepernick on the San Francisco roster.

Of the 49ers’ other eight undrafted free agents, five are wide receivers: Dres Anderson (Utah), Isaac Blakeney (Duke), DiAndre Campbell (Washington), Darius Davis (Henderson State) and DeAndrew White (Alabama).

Other undrafted free agents signed were Auburn offensive lineman Patrick Miller and Michigan State defensive lineman Marcus Rush.

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