Skip to content

Jim Caldwell: Lions have no comfort zone on offense

Detroit Lions v New England Patriots Getty Images

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.

Permalink 18 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Math, trustworthy, shows Washington better with Luck not RG3

Griffin and Luck shake hands at midfield after their NFL preseason football game in Landover, Maryland Reuters

In the 2012, the Colts had a choice — Stanford’s Andrew Luck or Baylor’s Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.

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.

Permalink 30 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Aaron Rodgers: It’s not me against Tom Brady

Aaron Rodgers AP

Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have both been around the NFL long enough that they are running low on new things to experience in the professional ranks.

One of the few things left on each man’s list will get checked off on Sunday when Brady and the Patriots hit Lambeau Field to face the Packers. Brady and Rodgers have never started the same game, adding some intrigue to a game that already had plenty by pitting the two hottest teams in football against each other.

Rodgers, who missed a 2010 matchup with the Patriots because of injury, is focusing on the team part of things this week instead of on his matchup with a player who won’t be on the field at the same time or the lack of a foil like Peyton Manning has been to Brady over the years.

“I have a ton of respect for them in their careers, but again I don’t ever look at it like it’s one quarterback against another. It takes 11 every single play to be effective. We play against some great teams in the NFC all the time. They’ve spent their careers in the AFC and that’s kind of the way it’s gone,” Rodgers said on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show. “I’d like to think that at some point by the end of my career, I’ll have a number of matchups against a quarterback in the NFC who they like, much in the way that they like Brady and Manning, and they can make some comparison there, but I won’t have any void from not playing those guys. I’d rather not; they’re great players.”

Rodgers is right about it being 11-on-11 obviously, but it’s a quarterback-driven league and the fact that we’ve never seen Brady and Rodgers in the same game means that it’s an angle that will get played heavily between now and Sunday’s kickoff. And the accompanying noise will only grow should the teams remain hot and force a second meeting that comes much quicker than the first.

Permalink 38 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jason Avant compares himself to NBA great Tim Duncan

Carolina Panthers v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

It’s hard to remember a player who has sounded so relieved at getting fired.

But Jason Avant, cut by the 3-7-1 Panthers after he made some comments critical of the offense, is now back in an offense he knows and loves and trusts. He said he wanted to sign with coach Andy Reid and the Chiefs this offseason, yet he ended up in Carolina, where he was little more than a stable pony.

“He’s had big receivers like [Dwayne] Bowe, smaller receivers like DeSean [Jackson], . . . and he’s able to use guys in the right way,” Avant said, via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star. “He looks at everybody as having an ability. Everyone has a strength and he tries to find that strength and use it to their ability and also to the team’s best interest.

“I’m pretty sure coach Reid is going to move me around as he sees fit. I believe in what he’s preaching. I believe in everything he’s about, so I trust him in whatever that decision is.”

Gosh, when he says it like that, it sounds like he wasn’t a fan of the offensive stylings of Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula.
But Avant was in the mood to take shots during his reunion, he was more interested in explaining how he can play a role for a team that hasn’t gotten the most out of their wide receivers (they’re still waiting for their first touchdown from a wideout this year).

“You see Tim Duncan still play at a high level because he was a fundamental person,” Avant said of the NBA’s best post player for the last two decades. “So when his talent or speed kind of diminished, he was still able to play at a high level because he learned the game the right way. That’s what I want to be as a pro — learn the game the right way and as I get older, I’m still able to perform at a high level.”

The Panthers thought he was far less than Tim Duncan, that’s for sure. So it will be interesting to see if he returns to the productive player he was for Reid in Philadelphia.

Permalink 13 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Rex Ryan sounds like a man who knows what’s coming

Rex Ryan AP

Boastful Rex Ryan is so much more fun, with all his jokes and playoff promises.

Beat-down-by-life Rex Ryan’s kind of depressing, watching him acknowledge that’s almost certainly fired.

Ryan’s tone was downcast when he met with Jets reporters yesterday, following their latest catastrophe, a 38-3 loss to the Bills.

We’re running out of tomorrows,” Ryan said, via Seth Walder of the New York Daily News.

Ryan has to know what’s coming, because he called this a month ago. When the Jets were 1-4, he said in a radio interview that “if… we don’t get this thing on the right track, I don’t think for a minute I’ll be here.”
They’ve gone 1-5 since then.

“My thoughts haven’t changed,” Ryan said Tuesday. “I know we have to clearly get better.”

With the Jets mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, and Ryan admitting it’s time to play some younger guys, it’s hard to see how that’s going to happen.

Permalink 20 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

J’Marcus Webb tweets he’s signing with Vikings

San Diego Chargers v Chicago Bears Getty Images

After hosting free agent tackles J’Marcus Webb and Eric Winston for workouts on Tuesday, the Minnesota Vikings have apparently made a decision on their replacement option for injured right tackle Phil Loadholt.

Webb tweeted Tuesday night that he is re-signing with the Vikings.

Webb appeared in eight games for Minnesota in 2013 while making one start. Webb had played his first three seasons for the Chicago Bears before joining the Vikings last season.

The Vikings will likely turn to Mike Harris to take over as the starter in place of Loadholt with Webb replacing Harris as the backup tackle.

Permalink 17 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Kam Chancellor hated watching player he was earlier this season

Green Bay Packers v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor couldn’t stand watching the player he was at times earlier this season.

Bone spurs in his ankle, coupled with a nagging hip issue left him unable to recognize the player he saw on film each week. The enforcer of Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” just wasn’t able to be the player he came to expect week in and week out.

“Yeah, definitely. It was tough,” Chancellor said. “I hated watching film. I hated watching myself. Just hated it.”

Chancellor was ultimately sidelined for two weeks due to a groin issue to go along with the ankle and hip injuries he played through the first half of the year. They were only the second and third games Chancellor had missed due to injury since assuming the starting safety job alongside Earl Thomas in 2011.

“It comes with the territory. It comes with football and you’ve just got to find way to get through it and push forward,” Chancellor said.

The silver lining was that the downtime helped alleviate the ankle and hip issues as well for Chancellor. His performance the last two weeks against Kansas City and Arizona appeared to be the best two games Chancellor had played since Seattle’s season opener against Green Bay.

“It definitely helped me out a lot. I feel a lot better (now),” Chancellor said.

Chancellor has 60 tackles in nine games this season with an interception and a forced fumble.

Permalink 5 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Bruce Arians says Cardinals needed a bigger back in backfield

Chicago Bears v Cleveland Browns Getty Images

With a rushing attack that ranks 31st in total yards and dead last in yards per attempt, Arizona head coach Bruce Arians knew the Cardinals needed a different piece in their backfield for the stretch run.

A bigger back is a piece the Cardinals have been lacking since Jonathan Dwyer was placed on the non-football injury list after a domestic violence arrest in September. After a failed waiver claim on Ben Tate, the Cardinals elected to turn to Michael Bush instead, working him out and signing him to a deal on Tuesday.

We really miss (Dwyer),” Arians said in an interview with Alex Marvez and Takeo Spikes on Sirius XM NFL Radio. “I like our backs but we need a guy who’s going to pound it in there and close out some games in short yardage and goal line situations. Michael is in great shape.”

Bush has not played for anyone since the Bears released him in March after two years with the team. He ran for 608 yards and eight touchdowns on 177 carries during his time in Chicago.

The Cardinals have been held to less than 65 rushing yards as a team in their last three games against Seattle, Detroit and St. Louis.

Permalink 12 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Rams promote TE Justice Cunningham from practice squad

St. Louis Rams v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

The Rams added yet another tight end to their roster Tuesday, signing Justice Cunningham from the practice squad. The transaction was disclosed in the NFL’s personnel notice.

Perhaps best known for being the final pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the 23-year-old Cunningham spent the 2014 offseason and preseason with St. Louis before being placed on injured reserve on September 1. The Rams re-signed him to the practice squad in late October.

Cunningham (6-3, 258) appeared in one 2013 regular season game for the Colts, his original team.

Cunningham’s addition gives the Rams five tight ends on the roster. Two tight ends — Jared Cook (back) and Cory Harkey (quadriceps) — were on the Week 12 injury report, but both played in the loss at San Diego. The Rams had all four tight ends active vs. the Chargers.

With Cunningham arriving, the Rams waived wide receiver Damian Williams, who appeared in two games as a reserve with St. Louis this season. He was inactive vs. the Chargers.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Kyle Fuller, Lance Briggs could be game-time calls

Miami Dolphins v Chicago Bears Getty Images

Two of the Bears’ key defensive starters were listed as non-participants in Tuesday’s  practice.

Outside linebacker Lance Briggs (groin) and cornerback Kyle Fuller (knee) didn’t take part in today’s workout, according to the injury report. However, the Bears held just a walk-through, according to Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune.

Briggs and Fuller both departed Chicago’s 21-13 win vs. Tampa Bay on Sunday with injuries, leaving them less than four days to heal before Thursday’s matchup with the Lions in Detroit.

Bears coach Mark Trestman indicated the availability of Briggs and Fuller might not be determined until Thursday morning, according to the Tribune.

Five other Bears didn’t practice on Tuesday: offensive lineman Brian De La Puente (ankle), defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (knee), defensive end Trevor Scott (knee), linebacker Darryl Sharpton (hamstring) and wide receiver Chris Williams (hamstring).

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall (ankle) was limited, with right tackle Jordan Mills (ribs) a full participant for Chicago (5-6).

Permalink 5 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Hernandez double-murder trial delayed

Hernandez AP

The second of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez’s two murder trials has been postponed.

Originally set for May 28, the case regarding the July 2012 shooting deaths of Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado had been scheduled for May 28.  It has been delayed indefinitely.

Hernandez faces trial in January 2015 for the June 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd.  Hernandez has been jailed without bond on all charges since his late June 2013 arrest for killing Lloyd.

Jury selection in the Lloyd murder case is due to begin on January 9.

Permalink 17 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Reggie Bush limited in practice with ankle, back injuries

Bush Getty Images

Lions running back Reggie Bush intends to play on Thursday against the Bears.  To do so, he’ll need to overcome another injury.

Already dealing with an ankle problem, Bush was limited in Tuesday’s practice with a back injury, too.

He also would have been a limited participant on Monday with both injuries, if the Lions had actually practiced.

Several other Lions were limited in practice on Tuesday as well, including receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle), defensive end Ziggy Ansah (elbow), safety James Ihedigbo (knee), and safety Glover Quin (back).

Tackle Riley Reiff (knee), guard Larry Warford (knee), and defensive tackle Nick Fairley (knee) did not practice.

Permalink 14 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Vikings look at Webb, Winston

Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos Getty Images

With right tackle Phil Loadholt done for the season due to a torn pec, the Vikings need help at tackle.

They explored getting that help by bringing in veterans J’Marcus Webb and Eric Winston for tryouts on Tuesday, per a league source.

Webb appeared in eight games for the Vikings last year, with one start.  He’s perhaps best known for getting bumped by Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on national television when Webb was Cutler’s left tackle.

Winston, the current NFLPA president, started 16 regular-season games from 2007 through 2013 with the Texans, Chiefs, and Cardinals.  He spent some of training camp with the Seahawks, and he has gotten periodic look-sees throughout the season.

Neither Webb nor Winston have been signed by the Vikings, yet.

Loadholt will be replaced in the starting lineup by Mike Harris, who arrived to the NFL undrafted in 2012 and spent two years with the Chargers.  Harris has 27 regular-season appearances and 12 starts.  Sunday will be his first as a Viking.

Permalink 31 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Titans release Shaun Phillips, place Brian Schwenke on injured reserve

Brian Schwenke AP

Reports on Tuesday morning indicated that the Titans were going to part ways with veteran linebacker Shaun Phillips and they came to fruition in the afternoon.

Phillips has been waived, which makes him available to any of the league’s 31 other teams if they choose to make a claim. Phillips wasn’t overly productive in Tennessee this year, but he had 10 sacks for the Broncos in 2013 and there’s not a lot of available players with Phillips’s history as a pass rusher at this point in the season.

The Titans also announced that they have placed center Brian Schwenke on injured reserve. Schwenke hurt his knee during last Sunday’s loss to the Eagles, which also saw him catch a deflected pass and then fumble it as his career as a center didn’t set him up well for the role of ballcarrier.

Tennessee signed offensive lineman Eric Olsen to help fill the void left by Schwenke. Left tackle Taylor Lewan also suffered a sprained ankle against Philly, so there might be multiple starters missing when the Titans face the Texans this week.

Linebacker Dontay Moch was promoted from the practice squad to round out the set of moves for the day.

Permalink 9 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Matt Ryan on Mike Smith: We’ve got to make him right

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

Falcons coach Mike Smith said Monday that he felt he didn’t give his team the best chance to win based on the way he handled the clock during the team’s final offensive drive in a 26-24 loss to the Browns, echoing criticism from many corners that didn’t do anything to help Smith’s job security.

Quarterback Matt Ryan said Tuesday that he thought Falcons players were angry at themselves in the wake of the loss, but that their anger didn’t extend to Smith. He also said that the players’ job is to make Smith’s decisions the right ones on the field.

“There’s nobody that takes more responsibility than Mike,” Ryan said on 680 The Fan, via ESPN.com. “And that’s one of the reasons, as a player, you love him. He is the first to say, ‘Listen, I wish we would have done that one differently.’ So from a player’s perspective, we’ve got to make him right. We can’t worry about anything else other than we’ve got to convert that third down, we’ve got to get a first, we’ve got to be able to make them burn their timeouts and then kick it in the uprights and win that game. I feel for [Smith] because he’s ‘the man’ when it comes to that. He will stick his neck out there for us and take the brunt of the responsibility. But, from a player’s standpoint, we’ve got to make him right.”

Ryan’s loyalty to his coach is clear, but it’s less clear how much loyalty owner Arthur Blank will show Smith once the season comes to a close. Finding a way to finish atop the NFC South would help and Ryan correctly points out that the Falcons control their own destiny in that regard. So would Ryan finding a way to cut down on interceptions against the Cardinals, who visit Atlanta this week, after throwing nine of them in two games against Arizona the last two years.

Permalink 14 Comments Feed for comments Back to top