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NFL morning after: Greg Schiano is what his record says he is

Greg Schiano AP

I want to judge Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano solely based on the way his team has played on the field.

Let’s put aside the fact that Schiano had a dysfunctional relationship with his starting quarterback, Josh Freeman. And let’s not blame the head coach for the MRSA infections that have caused major concerns on the team. And let’s just say that stuff like trying to blow up the other team’s kneel-down formation is a gray area where reasonable people can disagree about whether it’s a legitimate tactic.

Instead, let’s assess Schiano, who is closing in on the midway point of his second season as an NFL head coach, by saying this: His team stinks.

The Buccaneers are 0-5 even though Schiano has been handed a roster that has plenty of talent. Vincent Jackson is one of the best receivers in the NFL. Doug Martin is one of the most explosive young running backs to enter the league in the last few years. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is a beast in the middle of the line. A secondary with veterans Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson, plus last year’s first-round pick Mark Barron and this year’s second-round pick Johnthan Banks, is the envy of almost every coach in the NFL. You can’t say Schiano is losing because his team doesn’t have the personnel to win.

What you can say is that Schiano doesn’t look like he has any coherent plan in place for molding all that talent into a good football team. Yes, yes, I know, Schiano wants to be “tough” and “physical” and “disciplined,” but does Schiano have a competent defensive scheme? It sure didn’t look that way on Sunday, when that talented secondary got lit up by a backup quarterback, Nick Foles, who went 22-for-31 for 296 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

And does Schiano have any plan for his offense? It sure doesn’t seem like it when he spends the entire offseason insisting that this is Josh Freeman’s team, then benches Freeman after three weeks and cuts him after four.

I could be persuaded that Schiano is a good coach who just needs time to turn things around if he had a good track record elsewhere. But the truth is, his track record at his only previous head-coaching job — at Rutgers — isn’t particularly impressive. In Schiano’s 11 seasons at Rutgers, his team never won the Big East and only finished in the Top 25 once.

The coach on the opposite sideline from Schiano on Sunday, Philadelphia’s Chip Kelly, also went from college to the NFL, but Kelly had coached a big-time winner at Oregon. In Kelly’s four seasons as head coach at Oregon, he won the conference championship three times and was never ranked worse than No. 11 in the country. Whether you think Kelly is going to succeed or fail at the next level, there’s no question that Kelly has shown he can win big at the college level. The same can’t be said for Schiano.

The old Bill Parcells saying, “You are what your record says you are,” is how Schiano deserves to be judged. And Schiano’s record says the Buccaneers have a winless and hapless coach.

Here are my other thoughts on Sunday in the NFL:

Joseph Fauria: NFL’s best undrafted rookie and best dancer? Fauria, the 6-foot-7 Detroit tight end, may be having the best season of any undrafted rookie in the league through six weeks. He’s been an outstanding red zone target for the Lions, and he reeled in three touchdown catches on Sunday in Cleveland. And Fauria’s touchdown celebration dancing is also amusing, having already drawn attention on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The dances he did on Sunday in Cleveland had his teammates cracking up in the end zone, and with his height and leaping ability, you can bet he’s going to go up and get a lot more touchdown passes in the future. Asked why Fauria has been successful in the red zone, Lions coach Jim Schwartz answered, “He’s tall as hell.” Sometimes that’s enough.

Vontaze Burfict needs to cool it with the personal fouls. Burfict, the Cincinnati linebacker, had 15-yard penalties for facemasking, for a hit on a sliding quarterback and for a hit on a defenseless receiver on Sunday. Burfict has been a terrific player for the Bengals since they signed him as an undrafted free agent last year, but the reason Burfict wasn’t drafted was that NFL teams didn’t think he could keep himself in check after developing a reputation as a hothead during his college career. Three personal fouls in a game is not acceptable.

Danny Amendola’s injury was frightening. Amendola, the Patriots’ No. 1 receiver, took a hard (but legal) hit to the head and fell face-first into the turf. When he got up, he couldn’t even walk straight. The Patriots immediately announced that he wouldn’t return to the game, and that looked like the kind of head injury that will sideline a player for more than just one game. Amendola is a talented receiver, but he simply hasn’t been able to stay healthy.

Baltimore needs Eugene Monroe to get better. Monroe, the left tackle the Ravens acquired in a trade with the Jaguars, whiffed on a block just before halftime, leading Joe Flacco to get blindsided and fumble, setting up a Packers field goal on the last play of the first half. That was one of the ugliest plays of the day, and a bad sign that trading for Monroe wasn’t close enough to fix the problems on the Ravens’ offensive line.

Can anyone explain what happened to the Texans? I don’t know if I can ever recall a team imploding quite the way Houston has. After Week 13 of last season, the Texans were 11-1, and a lot of people considered them the best team in the NFL. Since then they’ve gone 4-8, and seven of their eight losses were blowouts, including Sunday’s horrendous performance against the Rams. There have been no major coaching or personnel changes, and yet this team looks absolutely nothing like the good football team we saw in Houston a year ago. Gary Kubiak probably won’t last much longer in Houston. Like Schiano, Kubiak is going to be judged by his record, and his record isn’t good.

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Prop Challenge, Day IX — Will we finally have overtime in a Super Bowl?

NFC Championship - Green Bay Packers v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

Welcome to PFT’s Prop Challenge, our daily look at a Super Bowl proposition bet.

Here’s the idea: we present a prop, do some light analysis, then let you decide which side to take — hypothetically, of course. (Previous examples are at the bottom of this post.)

When the Super Bowl wraps up, we’ll tally the votes and see how well PFT Planet did.

Now, let’s get to today’s prop, which is courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook:

Will there be overtime in the Super Bowl?

Yes: +550. No: -800.

The next Super Bowl to go to overtime will be the first. And undoubtedly, there will be bettors happily taking 11-2 odds with the idea that we’re due for a fifth quarter in pro football’s biggest game.

Also, there’s no denying the “Yes” side of props like this are more fun. What a nice story to have, cashing a ticket on the first-ever Super Bowl overtime. Win a bet like that and you dance to the seafood buffet.

However, history suggests “No” has a lot going for it — and not just because the first 48 Super Bowls have ended in regulation.

According to Pro Football Reference data, only 28-of-413 non-Super Bowl postseason games have gone to overtime since 1967. That’s about one in in every 16 games.

Viewed that way, 5.5-to-1 on the Super Bowl going to OT might seem a touch . . . short.

That said, Super Bowl XLIX is widely regarded as a closely matched competition. The point spread is pick ‘em at the majority of Nevada sports books.

Again, we turn to you. What’s the better bet — no overtime or the first-ever Super Bowl OT?

Aside: could you imagine Super Bowl overtime? The pressure would leave a nation pacing and push every Super Bowl party deeper into the night.

And it would be glorious.

Anyways, cast thy votes and leave thy comments.

Previous props studied:

Day I: Over-Under on Brandon LaFell’s receiving yards.

Day II: Over-Under on Doug Baldwin’s catches.

Day III: Will Rob Gronkowski score a touchdown?

Day IV: Will there be a one-yard TD in the Super Bowl?

Day V: Over-Under on Tim Wright’s receiving yards.

Day VI: Over-Under on LeGarrette Blount’s carries.

Day VII: Will there be a safety in the Super Bowl?

Day VIII: Over-Under on Russell Wilson’s rushing yards.

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Aaron Rodgers wins NFL Most Valuable Player

Aaron Rodgers AP

For the second time, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the Most Valuable Player of the National Football League.

Rodgers was announced as 2014 league MVP as the culmination of tonight’s NFL Honors event in Phoenix. Rodgers had previously won the award for the 2011 season.

It’s no surprise that the award went to Rodgers, who had a phenomenal statistical season: Rodgers completed 341 of 520 passes for 4,381 yards, with an incredible touchdown-interception ratio: He finished the year with 38 touchdown passes and just five interceptions.

Rodgers got 31 MVP votes. J.J. Watt was second with 13 MVP votes. DeMarco Murray and Tony Romo each had two votes, while Tom Brady and (in a major surprise) Bobby Wagner each had one.

The postseason ended in disappointment for Rodgers, who saw his Packers blow a big lead in the NFC Championship Game and lose to the Seahawks. But in the regular season, Rodgers was the best player in football. He was recognized for that tonight.

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Gronk wins comeback player of the year award

Gronk Getty Images

After shaking off a major knee injury to establish himself as the best tight end in the NFL, New England’s Rob Gronkowski has been named the comeback player of the year.

Gronk, who was a unanimous All-Pro, was given the award at tonight’s NFL Honors event in Phoenix. Members of the Gronkowski family picked up the award for Rob, the most successful of the many athletes in the family, as Rob is at the Patriots’ team hotel getting ready for the Super Bowl.

Of the 50 voters for the NFL awards, 27 picked Gronkowski. In second place were Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin and Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain with seven votes each, followed by Broncos cornerback Chris Harris with three votes, Ravens running back Justin Forsett and Texans running back Arian Foster with two votes, and Cardinals linebacker Larry Foote and Bills quarterback Kyle Orton with one vote each.

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Thomas Davis named NFL Man of the Year

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons Getty Images

Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, whose foundation helps underprivileged children, has been named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year — the only award that recognizes players for their community service as well as their playing ability.

Davis received the award at tonight’s NFL Honors event in Phoenix.

“I am honored to be selected as the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year,” Davis said. “This award means a great deal to me, as it symbolizes the valued work that the NFL, its players, and its 32 teams do in the community. I am blessed to have such a strong support system in my family, the Carolina Panthers and the NFL, which allows me to make an impact in the communities we serve.”

Davis, who had 129 tackles for the Panthers last season, will get a $50,000 donation made to the charity of his choice.

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Larry Fitzgerald wins NFL’s inaugural sportsmanship award

Larry Fitzgerald AP

Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has garnered the NFL’s inaugural Art Rooney Award for sportsmanship, the club announced Saturday night.

The award was voted upon by Fitzgerald’s fellow players. It is named for the founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

One example of Fitzgerald’s respect for those he competes against came last season, when he delivered a textbook block on unsuspecting Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. While Fitzgerald knocked down Sherman, he did not hit him as hard as he could have. As the players ran back to their huddles, Sherman patted Fitzgerald on the helmet.

Afterwards, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll publicly praised Fitzgerald for the physical-but-clean way he plays the game.

The 31-year-old Fitzgerald is entering his 12th NFL season.

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Aaron Donald wins defensive rookie of the year

New Orleans Saints v St. Louis Rams Getty Images

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year.

Donald got the award at tonight’s NFL Honors, capping a season in which he recorded nine sacks, including one sack in eight of the Rams’ last 11 games.

Of the 50 media members who vote on the NFL’s awards, 25 chose Donald as the defensive rookie of the year. Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley was next with 18 votes, followed by Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack with six votes and 49ers linebacker Chris Borland with one vote.

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J.J. Watt named defensive player of the year

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Getty Images

In the least surprising news to come out of tonight’s NFL Honors event, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has been named the defensive player of the year.

It was obvious that Watt would win the award because it’s obvious that Watt is the NFL’s best defensive player. There’s plenty of debate about who the second-best defensive player in the NFL is, but there’s no debate about who’s first.

Watt was selected unanimously by the 50 media members who vote on the NFL’s awards.

The biggest question about Watt now is whether he can continue to play at the dominant level he has shown off for the last three seasons. If he does, he’ll be not just the best defensive player in the NFL at the moment, but perhaps the greatest defensive player ever to play the game.

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Junior Seau leads a strong eight-man class into the Hall of Fame

Junior Seau AP

The Pro Football Hall of Fame cleared the decks of a number of finalists who had been debated for years, as they ushered in an eight-man class to Canton Saturday night.

First-year eligible linebacker Junior Seau was elected to the Hall of Fame, along with running back Jerome Bettis, defensive end Charles Haley, guard Will Shields and wide receiver Tim Brown.

They’ll be joined this summer by seniors nominee Mick Tingelhoff and contributor candidates Bill Polian and Ron Wolf, who were chosen in separate up-down votes which required at least 80 percent to be elected.

Brown, the longtime Raiders receiver/return man, was in his sixth year as a finalist, as he was stuck in previous years behind Hall of Famers Cris Carter and Andre Reed.

Likewise, Haley was in his sixth trip as a finalist, as he was finally recognized his contributions to five Super Bowl Champions in San Francisco and Dallas.

Bettis was in his fifth year in the final 15, and Shields was making his fourth trip that far.

Seau, however, didn’t need that much time, as the late Chargers, Dolphins and Patriots linebacker needed the shortest discussion of any of the 18 candidates discussed.

Those five modern era finalists emerged from a strong group of finalists, which were debated in a nearly nine-hour meeting Saturday.

The players who filled slots six through 10, and stand a solid shot at the Hall next year include linebacker Kevin Greene, quarterback Kurt Warner, tackle Orlando Pace, wide receiver Marvin Harrison and coach Tony Dungy.

The first five players eliminated from the original list of 15 modern era finalists were coaches Don Coryell and Jimmy Johnson, kicker Morten Andersen, running back Terrell Davis and safety John Lynch.

Those remaining players will be eligible again next year, along with a crop of first-year eligible players which includes quarterback Brett Favre, wide receiver Terrell Owens, guard Alan Faneca and safety Darren Sharper.

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Bruce Arians is the NFL’s coach of the year

Bruce Arians AP

After leading the injury-plagued Cardinals to the playoffs, Bruce Arians has been named the NFL’s coach of the year.

Arians, who kept the Cardinals together after they lost both starting quarterback Carson Palmer and backup quarterback Drew Stanton, was named the recipient of the coach of the year award at NFL Honors. A panel of 50 members of the media voted on the award.

This is the second time Arians has been named the NFL’s coach of the year; he also won the award after the 2012 season, when he took over the Colts after Chuck Pagano was stricken with leukemia and led the Colts to the playoffs.

To earn two coach of the year awards in his first three seasons as a head coach is an extraordinary accomplishment, for an extraordinary coach.

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DeMarco Murray named offensive player of the year

DeMarco Murray AP

Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray was named the NFL’s offensive player of the year for the 2014 season.

Murray finished the regular season with 392 carries for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns, plus another 57 catches for 416 yards. His production was a big part of the Cowboys snapping their string of 8-8 seasons and making the playoffs.

Going forward, it remains to be seen whether Murray will keep helping the Cowboys win. Murray becomes a free agent in March, and the Cowboys may not have the cap space to afford to keep him.

But for now, Murray’s award is a tribute not just to his own season but to that of a great Cowboys offensive line, and to a year when Dallas finally turned the corner and returned to the postseason.

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Report: Ron Wolf a member of Hall’s Class of 2015

Green Bay Packers Getty Images

The man who built one of the NFL’s top teams of the 1990s is reportedly headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Former Packers G.M. Ron Wolf is a member of the Hall’s Class of 2015, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Saturday evening. Wolf gained induction as a contributor.

The 76-year-old Wolf is perhaps best known for trading a first-round pick to the Falcons for quarterback Brett Favre in 1992. The move was a masterstroke, as Favre became one of the top passers of his generation, leading Green Bay to two Super Bowls, including victory in Super Bowl XXXI.

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Odell Beckham Jr. named offensive rookie of the year

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants Getty Images

The choice for offensive rookie of the year in the NFL in 2014 was an easy one.

Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who shook off an injury-plagued start of the season to become one of the league’s most exciting playmakers, has been named the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year. The award was announced on Saturday night at the NFL Honors event in Phoenix.

The NFL’s awards are voted on by a panel of 50 members of the media, and in the case of this award, there was widespread agreement: Beckham got 42 votes, with Cowboys guard Zack Martin getting seven and Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans getting one.

Beckham missed the first four games of the season and spent three more as only a small player in the Giants’ offense. But over the second half of the season, Beckham was the best wide receiver in the NFL. After the Giants’ Week Eight bye, Beckham never had fewer than 90 yards in any game, and despite that slow start he finished the year with 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns.

The NFL had a talented class of rookie wide receivers this season, but there was no question who was the best: Beckham, by far.

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Jerome Bettis indicates he’s made the Hall of Fame

Bettis AP

Via his verified Twitter account, former Rams and Steelers tailback Jerome Bettis indicated Saturday evening that he has been selected to the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015.

Wrote Bettis: “So happy to be amongst the games greatest players!! My Family and I are truly honored and blessed!”

Ed Bouchette, the Steelers’ beat writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a member of the Hall’s selection committee, confirmed in a story for the newspaper that Bettis had made the Hall.

On Twitter, the Steelers congratulated Bettis for his induction writing: “The Bus is headed to the ! Congratulations to on a well-deserved honor!”

Bettis rushed for 13,662 yards in 12 NFL seasons, sixth-most in league history.

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Best week yet for PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio

pftlive

Super Bowl week was only the fourth week for PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, and it was by far the best yet. In fact, it could be the best we’ll ever have, until next year at this time.  At the earliest.

Producers Rob “Stats” Guerrera and Kristen Coleman put together — and held together — a guest list that was second to none in sports radio this week.

From Friday working backward to Monday, with links to the video of the interviews, were segments with Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks, Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas, Bears defensive end Jared Allen, Hall of Fame tackle Jackie Slater, Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr., Ravens running back Justin Forsett, Dolphins executive V.P. of football operations (as of Monday) Mike Tannenbaum, Vikings receiver Greg Jennings, Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, Cardinals owner Michael Bidwell, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, Bengals receiver A.J. Green, Bills coach Rex Ryan, Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant, Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman, former Eagles, Rams, and Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, former Raiders receiver Tim Brown, Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon, former Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, Super Bowl XL MVP Hines Ward, Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, Bills running back Fred Jackson, Packers legend Jerry Kramer, Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor, former Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson, former NFL defensive player of the year Jason Taylor, Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis, Browns cornerback Joe Haden, and Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel.

Media guests included Peter King of TheMMQB.com, Tom Curran of CSN New England (twice), Paul Burmeister of NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk, Darin Gantt of PFT, MDS of PFT (twice), Greg Cosell of NFL Films, Ross Tucker of NBCSN and others, and Bob Glauber of Newsday.

That’s 42 total guests. In five days.

You can listen to the audio from all five shows by clicking the show logo in the upper right corner of the page.

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Patriots center Bryan Stork probable for Super Bowl XLIX

Super Bowl XLIX Media Day Fueled by Gatorade Getty Images

The Patriots’ starting center looks on track to play in Super Bowl XLIX.

Rookie Bryan Stork (knee) is now officially probable for Sunday’s game vs. Seattle, the Patriots announced Saturday.

Stork had been listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report.

According to the NFL, a “probable” designation means a player has a 75 percent chance of playing, whereas “questionable” infers a player is 50-50 to take part in the game.

Stork (6-4, 311) did not play in the AFC Championship vs. Indianapolis because of his injury. A fourth-round pick from Florida State, Stork has started 12-of-14 games in which he’s played this season, including the Patriots’ divisional-round win vs. Baltimore.

Stork was the lone player on either club designated as questionable on Friday’s injury report. Both teams now list seven players apiece as probable, with none designated as doubtful or out.

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