Another coaching carousel, another round of speculation as to whether Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will finally leave the Patriots, again.
He’s a candidate for the three current vacancies (the vacancy in Dallas still isn’t vacant, yet), and one of them seems like such a bad fit that it’s fair to wonder whether McDaniels will even make it to the interview.
Ralph Vacchiano of SNY reports that multiple league sources wonder whether McDaniels is truly interested in the Giants’ head-coaching job. The most obvious reason relates to the fact that the Giants have a General Manager, and that McDaniels may want to run the show — like he did in Denver and like Bill Belichick does in New England.
McDaniels makes much more sense in Cleveland, if chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta is told to take a backseat to the head coach. Even Carolina could make more sense than New York, if owner David Tepper decides to give the reins to McDaniels.
The Giants won’t be doing that, and that alone may be enough to get McDaniels to pass on the job.
Still, he presumably wouldn’t have agreed to sit for the job if he wasn’t interested in the job, and given what happened two years ago in Indianapolis the last thing he should be doing at this point is going back on his agreement to interview. Either way, given the history involving McDaniels it’s fair to not assume he’ll be leaving New England until he puts his name on a contract and shows up for the first day of work in a new city.
Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was removed from the team’s final injury report in advance of Sunday’s wild-card game against the Eagles. But it’s clear that he’s still dealing with a core muscle injury (sports hernia) that will need to be addressed at some point.
“We’re just getting him to game time is all we can get done right now,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Friday. “He worked today. He got his reps in today and was able to demonstrate the game plan and that he knew what was going on. If this is what we got, this is what we got. We got to work with it.”
That sounds like a far cry from Clowney being 100 percent. But the injury report only requires a designation as to the chance a guy will play. Clowney, who practiced on a limited basis on Friday after not practicing on Wednesday and Thursday, will play. How long he plays and how well he plays is clearly in question, as it’s been ever since he had one of the best games of his career against the 49ers in November.
To his credit, Clowney hasn’t shut it down and gotten surgery. He’s doing what he can do to play, even if it means not being nearly as effective during his game for the ages in Santa Clara. As he approaches free agency, his willingness to tough it out should get the attention of anyone who is thinking about pursuing him.
Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor has had a full college career, which ended in the Rose Bowl.
Taylor declared for the NFL Draft on Friday, forgoing his final season of eligibility. He made the announcement in a video on Twitter.
Taylor projects as a first-round choice before the pre-draft process begins.
In 2017, he was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and set the all-time freshman season rushing record with 1,977 yards. He also scored 13 touchdowns on 299 carries.
He rushed for 2,194 yards and 16 touchdowns on 307 carries as a sophomore.
This season, Taylor rushed for 2,003 yards and 21 touchdowns on 320 carries. He added 42 catches for 407 yards and five touchdowns.
He earned consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection in all three seasons and a unanimous first-team All-American the past two seasons. Taylor won the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate running back, the past two seasons.
His 6,174 career yards are second in school history behind Ron Dayne (7,125). His 55 total touchdowns rank third behind Dayne (71) and Montee Ball (83).
After his first game in 14 months, Marshawn Lynch is even more prepared for his first playoff game in four years.
The Seahawks running back, who unretired last week after the team had a rash of injuries at the position, could see even more action this week.
“He can do everything,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said, via Gregg Bell of The News Tribune. “He’s got the whole game plan.”
Lynch, 33, played 23 of 75 offensive snaps against the 49ers and had 12 carries. He had only four practices leading up to that game.
He now has another week in offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s system.
“I thought it would maybe take more of a toll in the first game, but it didn’t,” Carroll said. “So we’re in good shape going in.
“It really does feel different than it was a week ago at this time. We didn’t know what was going to happen, you know? We feel very confident that we’ve got a good mix in our style of runs with our guys. So, it’s a different feeling. More confidence in our guys. We know what we’ve got this time around.”
Carroll said Lynch “took all the reps that he needed to take” this week.
Rookie Travis Homer is expected to start with Lynch spelling him.
It was barely noticed because so much else was going on in the NFL on Sunday, but Raiders cornerback Nevin Lawson was ejected just before the Broncos’ final kneeldown in Sunday’s game in Denver. Now Lawson has been suspended as well.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Lawson has been suspended without pay for taking off his helmet and swinging it at someone. NFL VP of Football Operations Jon Runyan issued the suspension.
Lawson getting only one game may sound like he got off light compared to Myles Garrett, who got six games for swinging Mason Rudolph‘s helmet at him. The big difference is Garrett connected with Rudolph’s helmet-less head, which made his infraction quite a bit worse.
Although Lawson is technically still a Raider, he becomes a free agent in March. If Lawson doesn’t win his appeal, his 2020 team will have to do without him in Week One.
Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene announced he is headed to the NFL, bypassing his senior season.
Igbinoghene made his announcement on social media Friday.
“I am ready for the next step of my journey,” Igbinoghene said.
Igbinoghene returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown on New Year’s Day in the Outback Bowl. He averaged 35.2 yards on nine kickoff returns this season.
He also made 42 tackles, including 28 solo tackles, and seven pass breakups this season.
Igbinoghene played 26 games the past two seasons for the Tigers.
Igbinoghene also ran track for Auburn, competing in the triple jump and the long jump.
Running back D’Andre Swift didn’t do much in Georgia’s win over Baylor in Wednesday night’s Sugar Bowl, but he did enough throughout the rest of his college days that he hopes to be picked early in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Swift announced on Friday that he is giving up his remaining eligibility in order to toss his name into this year’s draft pool.
A shoulder injury limited Swift to tossing the ball back to quarterback Jake Fromm on a flea flicker on his first snap of the game and then carrying the ball once for two yards during the bowl victory. Swift ran for 1,218 yards on 196 carries after running for 1,049 yards while splitting time with Elijah Holyfield during the 2018 season. He also caught 56 passes and scored 21 touchdowns over the two seasons.
Georgia running backs like Todd Gurley, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb have gone early in recent drafts and Swift is likely to continue that tradition come April.
Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy possibly wouldn’t get a glowing endorsement from Aaron Rodgers. McCarthy definitely got one from the other Hall of Fame quarterback McCarthy coached in Green Bay.
“I think he’ll do a great job,” Favre said regarding McCarthy on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “I had him in 1999, and that was basically the middle of my career, and after that year he was gone but then he came back obviously as the head coach. And really a bright mind. Good for a quarterback.
“I think any young quarterback would like him. And he’s very understandable, much like Brian Daboll at Buffalo and Darrell Bevell, guys who are coaching right now, relate to the guys very well. And I think that’s important, on top of his Xs and Os mentality. Obviously he’s had Aaron Rodgers and that certainly helps but I do think he brings a level of toughness, but also a confidence that as a player, as a quarterback for him, you feel confident in the plays that he calls that he’s going to call plays that cater more to your ability rather than maybe a previous guy he had. So I think he’s a simple but yet confidence-building and technique-driven coach. He’ll be a good fit for any of those teams.”
Those teams who currently are considering McCarthy include the Browns, Panthers, and Giants. And although questions emerged regarding McCarthy late in his tenure with the Packers, his achievements were significant, and a fraction of that success would potentially result in half of Cleveland being named after him.
Michigan center Cesar Ruiz will forgo his final season of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft.
Ruiz announced his decision on social media Friday.
“Since the day I touched a football I knew I wanted to play in the National Football League,” Ruiz wrote. “It’s always been my dream, and now I am ready to make my dream a reality.”
Ruiz made five starts at right guard his freshman season before becoming a two-year starter at center.
He appeared in 35 games in his three seasons, making 30 career starts. He earned second-team All-Big Ten from the coaches this season after they moved him third team in 2018.
The team whose G.M. once declared he has “no intent” to trade Percy Harvin has no intent to move on from said G.M., or from the team’s head coach.
In a statement issued Friday, Vikings co-owner Mark Wilf addressed speculation regarding the status of coach Mike Zimmer and G.M. Rick Spielman.
“We value Mike and Rick’s leadership and we have every intent of Mike continuing as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings and Rick leading our football operations, next year and beyond,” Wilf said.
Both Zimmer and Spielman are under contract through 2020. Absent new contracts, both will be lame ducks next year.
The development comes at a time when some wonder whether Jerry Jones would like to hire Zimmer, a former defensive coordinator in Dallas, to coach the Cowboys. And it’s possible that the message from the Vikings to Jones is this: If you want him, you’re going to have to give back some of the stuff you took from us 30 years ago in the Herschel Walker trade.
Regardless, unless and until new contracts are signed by Zimmer and Spielman, intentions can change. The first factor that could potentially alter intent happens on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET, when the Vikings face the Saints in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
The Giants announced Friday they have completed an interview with Mike McCarthy. He was the second of seven potential interviews for the team.
Cowboys defensive passing game coordinator Kris Richard interviewed Thursday.
McCarthy, 56, met with team president John Mara, General Manager Dave Gettleman, vice president of football operations Kevin Abrams and other staff, according to the team.
The Giants fired Pat Shurmur on Monday.
McCarthy coached the Packers from 2006-18, winning Super Bowl XLV to cap the 2010 season.
He went 125-77-2 (.618) in the regular season and 10-8 (.556) in the postseason for a combined record of 135-85-2 (.613). The 135 victories are the 28th-highest total in NFL history and place McCarthy one victory behind Hall of Fame coach Hank Stram and two behind Sean Payton.
The Saints have a brief injury report for Sunday’s game.
Only two New Orleans players have injury designations for the game. Cornerback Eli Apple and fullback Zach Line have been ruled out for the matchup with the Vikings.
Apple was out of practice all week due to an ankle injury and he didn’t play against the Panthers in Week 17. Marshon Lattimore, P.J. Williams, Janoris Jenkins and Patrick Robinson will man the cornerback spots this weekend.
Line also sat out last week’s game and missed practice all this week with a knee injury. Ricky Ortiz picked up some snaps in Line’s place last Sunday.
Wide receiver Michael Thomas, safety Vonn Bell, running back Dwayne Washington and safety Marcus Williams appeared on the report earlier in the week, but all are set to play in New Orleans on Sunday afternoon.
Drew Brees and Michael Thomas are daunting for any team, much less one with a banged up secondary. The Vikings won’t have cornerbacks Mike Hughes or Mackensie Alexander on Sunday, making the challenge even greater.
The Vikings have Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Holton Hill and rookie Kris Boyd at corner.
But the Vikings have a will and . . .
“We will find a way,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Friday.
Hughes played in Week 17 and was a full participant Wednesday before the Vikings placed him on injured reserve Friday. Zimmer said Hughes got hurt “playing football.”
Somehow, someway the Vikings have to figure out how to slow the Saints to have a chance to pull off the upset. Zimmer remains confident despite the injuries in his secondary.
“I just said we’ll find a way,” Zimmer said.
The 49ers welcomed one of their own back to the team after a difficult holiday season.
Via Jennifer Lee Chan of NBCSportsBayArea.com, 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard returned after spending time with his family following the fatal stabbing of his brother last week.
Clayton Beathard was stabbed and killed days before Christmas in Nashville. A man has been arrested in the case.
The 49ers have the bye week to prepare for the divisional round, and were mostly well and accounted for.
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was out for personal reasons. Pass-rusher Dee Ford was on the side of the practice field, working out with the team’s training staff.
The Seahawks are set to have defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and safety Quandre Diggs in the lineup against the Eagles on Sunday.
Clowney did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday because of the core muscle injury that kept him out for some games down the stretch, but he played last Sunday night and was not given an injury designation for this Sunday’s Wild Card game. Barring a downgrade on Saturday, that leaves Clowney on track to play.
Diggs didn’t play in the final two regular season games because of an ankle injury. He was able to practice this week and he joined Clowney in making an exit from the final injury report of the week.
The Seahawks ruled left tackle Duane Brown (knee, biceps), wide receiver Malik Turner (concussion) and linebacker Mychal Kendricks (knee) out for Sunday. Wide receiver Jaron Brown (knee, personal) and left guard Mike Iupati (neck) were given questionable tags.