ProFootballTalk: The mess in Miami continues
Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor said this week that he hasn’t enjoyed taking a look at his film from earlier in the season because of the way he played while trying to battle through ankle, groin and hip injuries.
Chancellor missed a couple of games, but has been in the lineup for Seattle the last two weeks and he’s putting better work on film. His work last Sunday in Seattle’s 19-3 win over the Cardinals was good enough that the NFL named him the NFC defensive player of the week.
Chancellor didn’t put up any gaudy numbers in the game, but he had eight tackles while the Seahawks were holding the Cardinals to just 204 yards over the course of an afternoon that left the Seahawks feeling like they had their swagger back.
Whatever Chancellor’s issues are with his work earlier this season, it’s not like he’s always been off his game. He was also the NFC defensive player of the week for the third week of the season.
Hopefully by Thursday, Eddie Lacy’s stomach has settled down.
He deserves to be able to enjoy a piece of pie after the way he carried the Packers last week.
The second-year running back was named NFC offensive player of the week, for his gutsy performance against the Vikings last week.
Lacy had 25 carries for 125 yards and two touchdowns, as the Packers used him to pound out a win over the Vikings. He carried the ball 10 times over their final two drives in the fourth quarter, as they used him as a battering ram. Of his 138 yards from scrimmage, 65 came in the fourth quarter.
And he did it all with what coach Mike McCarthy called a “GI illness,” which kept him from talking to reporters afterward.
The heartwarming story of Devon and Leah Still comes with an icy footnote. Potentially. Allegedly.
Via the New York Daily News, the mother of Leah Still has accused Devon Still of failing to pay child support for Leah since August 2014. Leah Still has been battling cancer, and the efforts of the Bengals to keep Devon Still on the team (he had a job on the practice squad before injuries landed him on the roster) and to raise money for cancer research by selling Still’s jersey have generated headlines all season.
“I don’t consider him a deadbeat dad,” Channing Smythe told the Daily News. “I know he loves and cares for his daughter and he is there for her. I just need him to help me financially.”
But the actions speak a lot more aggressively than Smythe’s words. Her lawyer, Gloria Allred, has sent a letter to the NFL requesting an investigation regarding whether Still’s actions constitute a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy.
“I don’t think it is fair that Devon Still, who is Leah’s father, has refused to pay any child support for her for the months of August, September, October and November of this year,” Smythe said in a document that was sent with the letter to the league office.
Of course, triggering discipline of Still and/or making a public spectacle of the situation won’t be the best way to ensure that Still will continue to earn an NFL player’s salary. But if he’s not paying and if the efforts to handle the situation privately haven’t worked, there’s only one way to enforce the support obligation.
Neither the Bengals nor Still have commented. If it’s a misunderstanding, a legitimate dispute over the amount of support owed, or an unwarranted money grab, it should be easy to clear things up. And if it’s a matter of Still simply failing or refusing to pay, he should be accountable.
If Still is failing to abide by the clear terms of court-ordered child support, a court eventually will enforce that order by sending Still to a cell.
When Buccaneers running back Doug Martin was a rookie in 2012, he ran 319 times for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns while also catching 49 passes and playing in all 16 games.
It’s been all downhill from there. Martin has played in just 12 games since that year and he’s seen his average gain on running plays drop to 3.3 yards. That’s led the Bucs to go with a committee-oriented approach to the running game while some outside the organization question whether Martin can be a successful feature back again.
Martin doesn’t share those doubts and says he doesn’t listen to the criticism because he believes he’s still the same player that he was in 2012.
“I don’t say anything,” Martin said, via ESPN.com. “That’s something you’ve got to ignore. That’s just outside noise. You’ve just got to ignore that and keep playing the game and having confidence in my game. It’s just something that you’ve got to brush off.”
Injuries have kept Martin off the field far too often and he’s also been running behind a subpar offensive line, a combination that certainly hasn’t helped him remain at a high level. Proving the critics wrong is going to take finding the right formula to succeed in spite of those obstacles, though, and Martin’s going to need to do that soon if he wants to be more than just another guy in Tampa or elsewhere.
Franchise quarterback teases with potential, then makes so many mistakes he’s part of the problem, so coach decides to call him out.
No, we’re not in Washington anymore.
In Jacksonville, the potential of rookie quarterback Blake Bortles has been overshadowed by his turnover prowess, and coach Gus Bradley was willing this week to point that out.
“He can play better,” Bradley said, via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. “At times, he holds the ball a little too long. . . . His decision-making isn’t as quick as we need it to be. . . .
Pointing out such flaws was a sign that Washington coach Jay Gruden was done with Robert Griffin III, but Bradley and Bortles are in a much different stage of their relationship.
The Jaguars didn’t want to play their first-round pick much at all this year, until Chad Henne forced their hand. Since then, injuries have robbed Bortles of his top receiving targets, and the rookie struggles they hoped to avoid have become manifest.
That’s why Bradley was willing to point out the flaws, and use it as an opportunity to say what he’s doing well.
“He appears to be strong and very confident,” Bradley said. “I think he wants to give more and wants to produce more. . . . We’ve seen progress in his decision-making; he’s throwing fewer interceptions.
“We don’t want to take away his freedom to make plays.”
Bortles has cut down on the interceptions (10 in his first five starts, just five in his last four), but the offense hasn’t been what you’d call dynamic lately.
Unlike in other precincts, however, Bortles is going to get time, and chances to fix things.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m quite thankful for my three-game lead through 12 weeks of action.
The three-game lead survived Week 12, because we split the four games on which we disagreed last weekend (I was right on Bengals and Browns, MDS nailed it with the Bears and Seahawks).
This week, with all 32 teams playing for the first time since Week Three, we disagree on only one game. For all picks for Week 13, scroll down.
For the week, we were both 11-4. For the year, I’m at 116-60 (65.9 percent). MDS stands at (64.2 percent).
Bears at Lions
MDS’s take: The Lions have gone from first place to on the verge of collapse, just as they did around this time last year. But the difference is that the Lions’ two-game losing streak has gone against two of the best teams in the league. Against the Bears at home, the Lions should be able to get back to their winning ways.
MDS’s pick: Lions 14, Bears 10.
Florio’s take: The Lions can’t afford to stumble again, at a time when they can’t find the end zone. Fortunately, they’ll be facing an opponent far less potent than the Cardinals and Patriots.
Florio’s pick: Lions 31, Bears 20.
Eagles at Cowboys
MDS’s take: First place in the NFC East is up for grabs, and I’m leaning toward the Cowboys mostly because I don’t trust Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez. Although Sanchez is putting up plenty of yardage in Chip Kelly’s offense — three straight 300-yard games — I expect him to throw a couple of interceptions and the Cowboys to capitalize on his mistakes.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 24, Eagles 21.
Florio’s take: The Eagles won’t be capable of keeping pace with a Cowboys Offense that will present a pick-your-poison dilemma for Philly’s defense. The Dallas offense continues to fire on all cylinders, and it’ll be enough to secure the first of two games between these teams in only 17 days.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 34, Eagles 27.
Seahawks at 49ers
MDS’s take: The way the NFC playoff race is shaping up, it’s very unlikely that both of these teams can make the playoffs. The loser of this game will be on the outside looking in, without much time left to make up ground. The Seahawks made a statement last week against the Cardinals, and I think they’ll make another one on Thanksgiving.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 20, 49ers 13.
Florio’s take: The Seahawks held serve at home against the Cardinals to keep Seattle’s playoff hopes alive. The Seahawks now have a chance to break serve in Santa Clara — and in turn to deliver a potential death blow to the 49ers’ playoff chances.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 20, 49ers 17.
Washington at Colts
MDS’s take: Remember when there was actually a debate about who was better, Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck? That feels so long ago. Luck’s team will whip Griffin’s team on Sunday, while Griffin stands on the sideline watching.
MDS’s pick: Colts 31, Washington 10.
Florio’s take: In April 2012, this would have been one of the most anticipated games for the entire 2014 regular season, pitting the first and second overall picks n the draft against each other. The game now has far less cachet, with Andrew Luck clearly the better quarterback and Robert Griffin III taking a seat on the bench. Again.
Florio’s pick: Colts 34, Washington 20.
Titans at Texans
MDS’s take: The loss of Ryan Mallett is bad news for the Texans in the long term because it prevents them from knowing whether he’s the type of quarterback who could be the face of their franchise. But for this week, Ryan Fitzpatrick is just as capable of helping Houston beat a bad Tennessee team.
MDS’s pick: Texans 31, Titans 17.
Florio’s take: Ryan Fitzpatrick gets another crack at a team that gave up on him, playing quarterback for another team that gave up on him. The latest team that gave up on him is better than the prior team that gave up on him.
Florio’s pick: Texans 27, Titans 13.
Browns at Bills
MDS’s take: The Bills have gone through a long, rough week, and they emerged looking great in a big win over the Jets. I think they’ll keep it going against the Browns.
MDS’s pick: Bills 23, Browns 20.
Florio’s take: The Bills return home after a detour to Detroit, and the Browns roll in with a chance to move to 8-4. Perhaps the toughest game to call given what Buffalo did to the Jets on Monday night and in light of the fact that the Browns are the better team, the Bills have an extra level of motivation in this one, given the snowstorm that turned the region on its head last week.
Florio’s pick: Bills 24, Browns 20.
Chargers at Ravens
MDS’s take: I think we can officially write off the loser of this one. The AFC playoff pool is just too deep for the loser to remain in contention. I like the Ravens’ chances in a must-win game at home.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 28, Chargers 17.
Florio’s take: Baltimore has started to make a push to the postseason with a win at New Orleans; the Chargers have won a pair of home games that they easily could have lost. Baltimore seems to have the better talent on both sides of the ball to get to eight wins before San Diego.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 27, Chargers 20.
Giants at Jaguars
MDS’s take: The Giants’ season is a mess, but they’re still better than the Jaguars. This looks like it’s going to be a lousy, low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Giants 15, Jaguars 7.
Florio’s take: Tom Coughlin heads back to Jacksonville. Some may want him to stay, if the Giants decide they want him to go. On the field, always take a Manning against a Bortles.
Florio’s pick: Giants 24, Jaguars 17.
Bengals at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: The Bucs have played competitive football at times, but on balance they’re a pretty terrible team. The Bengals remain the leaders in the AFC North, and they won’t lose their lead in Tampa Bay.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 27, Buccaneers 7.
Florio’s take: Another game not on national TV, another appearance from the Dr. Jekyll version of Andy Dalton. The good news for the Bucs is that they’ll likely still be only two games out of first place after this one ends.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 27, Buccaneers 17.
Raiders at Rams
MDS’s take: I’m impressed with the way the Rams are playing, even though they have no chance of getting to the playoffs in the tough NFC West. Put the Rams in the NFC South, and they’re in the playoffs. Those are the breaks. At least they’ll whip the Raiders in the battle of former Los Angeles teams.
MDS’s pick: Rams 28, Raiders 14.
Florio’s take: The Raiders have their one win for the season. The Rams have fewer than they should. To make this one more interesting, the winner should get dibs on L.A.
Florio’s pick: Rams 27, Raiders 14.
Saints at Steelers
MDS’s take: I have a simple philosophy: I’m not picking the Saints outside, in a cold-weather city, against anybody. The Steelers will take this one and remain in the AFC North race, while the Saints will lose and remain in the NFC South race because the NFC South is terrible.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 27, Saints 17.
Florio’s take: The Saints have lost three games in a row at home. So it would be fitting for them to win one in Pittsburgh. But the Steelers are rested and ready and aware of the importance of getting an eighth win in a division of seven-win teams.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 24, Saints 20.
Panthers at Vikings
MDS’s take: I liked the way the Vikings’ defense played against the Packers last week, and if Teddy Bridgewater can just avoid making too many mistakes, Minnesota can win this one. Against a better defense I wouldn’t have a lot of faith in Bridgewater, but against the Panthers’ defense, the Vikings can win a low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Vikings 16, Panthers 10.
Florio’s take: The Vikings win the games they should and lose the games they should. They should beat the Panthers, swarming Cam Newton with a potent pass rush and methodically gaining yards with a running game and passing game that are good enough to move the ball against a struggling franchise. Yes, the Panthers are still pushing for a playoff berth. The Vikings, however, are trying to lay the foundation for long-term success. Winning winnable games is part of the culture change over which Mike Zimmer is presiding.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 20, Panthers 16.
Cardinals at Falcons
MDS’s take: The Cardinals aren’t as good a team with Drew Stanton as they were with Carson Palmer, but they’re still a whole lot better than the Falcons. Bruce Arians will have his guys ready to bounce back from last week’s loss in Seattle.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 24, Falcons 10.
Florio’s take: Have two division leaders in late November ever had a gap this big in overall quality? The gap will be obvious, with or without poor clock management.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 23, Falcons 13.
Patriots at Packers
MDS’s take: It’s the best game of the day and one of the best games of the season. The Packers have played excellent football at home, but the Patriots are the best team in the NFL and will show it in Green Bay.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, Packers 28.
Florio’s take: I’ve gone back and forth on this one, and I finally need to pick a horse. Given the ability of Patriots coach Bill Belichick to construct a game plan perfectly suited to each and every game, look for the Pats to grind the clock, keep Aaron Rodgers on the sidelines, actually cover Jordy Nelson, and ultimately prevail on the only stat that matters — points scored vs. points allowed.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 27, Packers 24.
Broncos at Chiefs
MDS’s take: If Denver takes this one, the AFC West race is all but over. Although the Broncos have been inconsistent of late, they haven’t had a loss as bad as the Chiefs losing in Oakland last week. I like the Broncos to complete the season sweep of the Chiefs and take control of the division.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 34, Chiefs 20.
Florio’s take: The Broncos have looked vulnerable in recent weeks, and Chiefs continue to be one of the toughest teams to beat at home. Eric Berry’s absence hurts them from a football standpoint, but it will further galvanize a franchise that has overcome plenty of adversity in recent years.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Broncos 24.
Dolphins at Jets
MDS’s take: Losing to the Broncos on Sunday may have knocked the Dolphins out of realistic playoff contention, but they’re still a much better team than the Jets. Miami takes this one easily.
MDS’s pick: Dolphins 34, Jets 17.
Florio’s take: The Jets were a “zillion ways” better after the bye, and it wasn’t nearly enough to hand with the Bills. The Dolphins are better than the Bills. Not even Jumbo Elliott could make a difference in this one.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 27, Jets 13.
The Patriots switch up offensive and defensive game plans as much or more than any team in the league, which leads to a fair amount of turnover at some positions as the Pats look for the right mix for each and every situation.
Special teams work doesn’t fluctuate as much, which means the job profile for players on those units doesn’t change much from game-to-game or season-to-season. Wide receiver Matthew Slater has filled one of those roles quite well for the last seven years and the Patriots have reportedly moved to make sure he’s filling them for a few more.
Field Yates of ESPN reports that Slater, a 2008 fifth-round pick and the son of NFL Hall of Famer Jackie Slater, and the Patriots have agreed on a contract extension that runs through the 2016 season. Slater, who could have become a free agent after this season, will reportedly stand to earn $4 million over the course of the extension.
Slater has made 99 tackles over his seven years with the team and has been named a team captain for the last four seasons.
Leave it to the Jets to be dysfunctional even in the process of disintegrating under the weight of dysfunction.
According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets blocked coach Rex Ryan from talking to Mehta about a bye-week visit to his ailing father, legendary NFL defensive guru Buddy Ryan. Buddy, who rose to prominence as defensive coordinator of the ’85 Bears and then coached the Eagles and Cardinals, is battling cancer.
“Ryan was happy to discuss the visit, but a media relations official intervened presumably because of the News’ critical stories about Idzik,” Mehta wrote. “Asked who made the decision to prevent a willing Ryan from sharing stories about his father, the media relations official said, ‘I don’t have to tell you.'”
Mehta interprets the muzzling of Rex Ryan as proof positive that, once the season ends, Ryan will no longer be the team’s head coach. Apparently, the team fears that Rex would become more sympathetic in the eyes of the fan base if he’s dumped by the team at a time when his father is fighting a serious illness.
That sounds more than a little goofy, but why else would the Jets not let Ryan talk about his father, especially when his father is a famous former NFL coach?
The disclosure comes as part of a broader column in which Mehta goes all in against G.M. John Idzik, arguing that Idzik should be fired, too. Although an unlikely upset of the Steelers seemed to go a long way toward saving Idzik, a 35-point Monday night blowout loss to the Bills may have pushed the needle the other way.
With Ryan surely done, the question becomes whether he’ll win enough games down the stretch to save Idzik. If it was Idzik who gave the order to keep Rex from talking about Buddy, Rex should mail in the last five.
Former Falcons running back Jamal Anderson has landed in some legal hot water in Atlanta.
Anderson was arrested and charged with DUI last Friday evening after an off-duty police officer found him passed out behind the wheel of his car in the travel lanes of I-85. The officer called Georgia State Police and a state trooper said he found Anderson “unsteady on his feet” with bloodshot eyes.
“I asked Anderson why he was stopped in the middle of the interstate, noting that it was extremely dangerous and asked him if he was trying to hurt himself,” the trooper said in the police report, via the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “He stated that he wasn’t trying to hurt himself and didn’t really have a good explanation as to why he had parked in the middle of the interstate.”
Anderson told officers he had been drinking the night before, but refused to take a field sobriety test. He was arrested, charged with DUI and improper stopping in the roadway and booked into Gwinnett County jail.
Anderson faced a DUI charge in 2012 as well and wound up pleading guilty to a charge of reckless driving. His sentence included a fine, probation and court-mandated attendance at a drunk driving impact panel.
And his time in Chicago might be even shorter than he imagined, thanks to a groin injury picked up last week.
Briggs said during his weekly show on CSN Chicago that his groin issue would likely keep him out “a few weeks.”
While originally mentioned as a game-time decision for Thursday’s game with the Lions, that likely knocks him out for the game.
With only four games left, it’s unclear how many times Briggs will suit up for the Bears again, since he’s accepted the fact he’s probably not going to do it in Chicago next season.
The Dolphins have had some bad luck.
The latest “Fire John Idzik” billboard tells Woody Johnson to sell the Jets if he’s not going to make a wholesale change.
The Ravens’ Monday night win gives their playoff hopes a shot in the arm.
The Browns have a meaningful game with the Bills in late November. Who saw that coming?
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin says the team just needs to take care of business: “If we do what we need to do on a week-in and week-out basis in terms of our business in our stadium, then it’s not going to be required that we look around. We play some significant people moving forward.”
Will running woes plague the Colts in the playoffs?
Jaguars coach Gus Bradley bristled at questions about whether his assistant coaches are getting the job done.
Members of the Titans are volunteering to feed the homeless this Thanksgiving.
Said Broncos coach John Fox of getting LB Danny Trevathan back from a knee injury, “We won’t give him a lot of work because we’re not getting him game ready yet. He hasn’t played football for a while. He will participate in individual drills and probably some scout-team work just to get him back into playing shape.”
The Chargers helped get 1,000 people to donate blood in San Diego.
Said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett of Eagles coach Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense, “It certainly challenges you. It’s different than what the NFL has seen for a number of years, but it’s been in place here for a little bit. You have to be ready to play an up-tempo style of offense and you have to be able to get yourself lined up and play sound defense against it.”
Here’s a look at some of the Giants who should be part of the franchise’s future.
Is Jay Gruden doing what Dan Snyder hired him to do?
As the Packers prepare for the Patriots on Sunday, are they also preparing for their Super Bowl opponent?
The Falcons are leading a historically awful division.
If the Saints get to six wins, is that enough to get to the playoffs?
Said Cardinals coach Bruce Arians of his rookie defensive lineman, “Josh Mauro would have gotten a game ball if we would have won the game. He played his tail off, stout at the point of attack. Really, really nice surprise.”
The 49ers say they’re not seeking revenge against the Seahawks on Thanksgiving.
Proving it’s possible to be a star player, be in many commercials, and still be a human being, J.J. Watt continues to impress on and off the field.
Via the Houston Chronicle, Watt had pizzas delivered to police and a fire station in Houston, thanking them for their service.
“You show up day in and day out, never knowing what the day might hold and never getting enough thanks for what you do, yet you still continue to put others ahead of yourselves,” Watt said in a hand-written note.
While the gesture is impressive, Watt’s handwriting is also perfect, which is one more reason to wonder if he’s a real person, or was born on Krypton and sent to save the planet Earth.
Going two weeks without a touchdown is a sign that things aren’t working for your offense, but the signs were there for the Lions even before they lost their last two games while scoring a total of 15 points.
They are scoring their fewest points per game since the 2009 season, haven’t run for a touchdown since the seventh week of the season and they’ve had to patch together an offensive line around injuries that have sapped the unit’s effectiveness. According to quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is coming off a career-low in completion percentage in Week 12, it’s left the team “trying to figure out what we’re really, really good at.”
Coach Jim Caldwell believes there’s nothing the team is really, really good at right now, however.
“We have no comfort zone,” Caldwell said, via ESPN.com. “We have no area that we are comfortable with at this point in time with our offense.”
That’s clearly not where you’d like to find yourself heading into the final month of the regular season, especially since the offensive issues have been widespread enough that it’s hard to believe everything is just going to click into place all of a sudden.
Geno Smith is back as the Jets’ starting quarterback.
The Jets announced this morning that Smith, not Michael Vick, will start on Monday night against the Dolphins.
Jets coach Rex Ryan met with both Smith and Vick this morning and informed them that he has made the switch. Vick had a disastrous game against the Bills on Monday night, and Smith was slightly better after Vick was benched, so that may have been what made Ryan make the decision.
It’s also possible that the decision wasn’t up to Ryan. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reported that Ryan preferred Vick — but that the decision might be taken from Ryan by G.M. John Idzik and owner Woody Johnson.
Regardless, the Jets are going nowhere this season. And the quarterback to lead them in the future probably isn’t on the roster right now.
Washington was going to take the other one.
And with Griffin benched, it looks like this is shaping up like another Colts draft call — when they took Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf.
But the numbers show that if the roles were reversed, RG3 might not be as big a disaster as he is now.
The website PredictionMachine.com ran 50,000 computer simulations which put Luck in Washington and Griffin in Indianapolis. The verdict’s hardly surprising.
“If Luck were the starter all season in Washington, the Redskins would be projected to win the NFC East with a 10-6 record. Indianapolis, with RG3 would finish second in the AFC South behind Houston with a projected 7.5 wins.
Luck would be projected to throw for 4,529 yards, 34 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in Jay Gruden’s offense. RG3, assuming a full healthy season, would be projected to throw for 2,994 yards, 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions as a Colt.”
Washington would probably have taken that kind of line out of Griffin, and he might not have been benched if he were playing that well.
We already know the Rams are glad to have traded with Washington, so there are at least two teams grateful for how this one has turned out.