Louisiana Governor calls for NFL to expand replay

Getty Images

First, a lawsuit over the Saints-Rams game. Now, a politician is getting in the act.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards sent NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a letter Tuesday, expressing his “deep disappointment” and calling for the league to expand replay.

The Democratic governor was, of course, upset that officials didn’t call pass interference on Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman for whacking Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis before the ball arrived late in Sunday’s NFC title game.

“The very least that any fan of the Saints, or any other team, should be able to expect from any game is that the result will be decided by the players on the field,” Edwards wrote, via the Associated Press. “By missing the obvious, blatant and intentional penalty at the end of the game, the referees in Sunday’s game undermined that expectation and unfortunately were allowed to determine the winner.”

Edwards wants the NFL to expand replay reviews, allowing for pass interference to be included in coaches’ challenges. Without a change, Edwards contends that “the very integrity of the game will be called into question.”

Mike Mallory interviews for Packers’ special teams job

Getty Images

The Packers interviewed Mike Mallory for their special teams coordinator opening, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.

Mallory served as the Jaguars’ special teams coach from 2013-16 before being demoted. Jacksonville hired Joe DeCamillis to replace Mallory, but he kept Mallory as assistant special teams coach.

Mallory assisted with the Saints’ special teams from 2008-12.

He coached defense at several colleges before going to the NFL, including Louisville, Kansas, Illinois and Maryland.

The Packers have interviewed at least two other special teams coaches, according to Silverstein.

Rule 17 does not prevent Commissioner from taking action over judgment errors

Getty Images

Some have suggested (actually, insisted) that the exclusive authority given to the Commissioner in Rule 17 to rectify extraordinarily unfair results does not encompass judgment errors made by game officials. Those taking that position have relied on Rule 17, Section 2, Article 2.

But while a quick and simple reading of Rule 17, Section 2, Article 2 can lead to that conclusion, a more careful parsing of the provision reveals what it does, and doesn’t, say.

Title “NO CLUB PROTESTS” (an important clue), Article 2 states as follows: “The authority and measures provided for in this entire Section 2 do not constitute a protest machinery for NFL clubs to avail themselves of in the event a dispute arises over the result of a game. The investigation called for in this Section 2 will be conducted solely on the Commissioner’s initiative to review an act or occurrence that the Commissioner deems so extraordinary or unfair that the result of the game in question would be inequitable to one of the participating teams. The Commissioner will not apply authority in cases of complaints by clubs concerning judgmental errors or routine errors of omission by game officials. Games involving such complaints will continue to stand as completed.”

Article 2 doesn’t prevent the Commissioner from deciding on his own to take action in response to “judgmental errors or routine errors of omission by game officials.” Instead, Article 2 expressly (and only) prevents teams from making official protests or complaints based on Rule 17, Section 2.

The purpose of this specific rule seems obvious. If Rule 17, Section 2 were a path for making protests, the Commissioner would be constantly investigating and deciding whether a protest made by a team is valid. Article 2 makes it clear that teams should not, and cannot, rely on Rule 17, Section 2 as a device for initiating challenges to the outcome of games, especially when a team disagrees with the manner in which judgment is exercised.

If the NFL wanted to slam the door on the ability of the Commissioner to remedy an extraordinarily unfair result based on “judgmental errors or routine errors of omission by game officials,” the NFL should have (could have) written the rule to expressly state that the Commissioner’s authority cannot be exercised in the event of “judgmental errors or routine errors of omission by game officials.” Article 2 isn’t that broad; instead, it refers specifically to club complaints based on such matters.

While it’s possible that the sentence in question was poorly written, sloppiness isn’t relevant if/when the time ever comes to discern the precise meaning of the language used. As constructed, the language speaks only in terms of complaints made by teams, preserving at all times the power of the Commissioner to decide on his own to take action when he believes that an outcome creates an extraordinarily unfair result, independent and irrespective of any complaints that the team affected by the extraordinary unfair outcome would potentially try to make.

That’s the interpretation that ultimately gives the Commissioner the power to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Why would anyone think that he would interpret and apply that rule in any other way.

Bruce Arians acknowledges that “a-holes usually run in the receiver room”

AP

Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians recently riled up Steelers receiver Antonio Brown by suggesting that Brown is “too much diva.” On Tuesday, Arians used a different term to refer to those who run routes and catch passes.

During an interview with FOX Sports 910 in Phoenix, one of the hosts pointed out that money and fame haven’t made Arians and his spouse “a-holes.”

Quipped Arians in response: “Not all are. It’s just a few. They usually run in the wide receiver room.”

That was a general swipe at guys like Brown. Speaking more specifically about Brown, Arians said this: “[H]e’s one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever had. He just needs to go back to where the beginning was.”

The Steelers and Browns have moved dramatically toward a divorce in recent weeks, sparked by Brown going AWOL before Week 17. Both coach Mike Tomlin and owner Art Rooney II have made it clear that Browns currently is on thin ice, and that a trade may indeed happen.

If it happens, it’s safe to say Brown won’t be traded to the Buccaneers.

Broncos add Chris Kuper to coaching staff

Getty Images

A former Broncos player has joined the team’s coaching staff for the 2019 season.

The Broncos announced on Tuesday that Chris Kuper will be the team’s assistant line coach. He will work with offensive line coach Mike Munchak on Vic Fangio’s first staff as the head coach in Denver.

Kuper joined the Broncos as a fifth-round pick out of North Dakota in 2006. He played 90 games and made 76 starts while playing guard for the Broncos through the 2013 season.

His coaching career began with the Dolphins in 2016. He was an offensive quality control coach in his first season and the assistant offensive line coach the last two years.

Stephen Jones expects Competition Committee to consider OT change

Getty Images

The NFL’s Competition Committee will discuss two things from Sunday’s championship games: Whether to make pass interference reviewable after the missed call in the Saints-Rams game; and whether to change the overtime rule, guaranteeing both teams a possession after the Chiefs never saw the ball in the extra period.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones, a member of the Competition Committee, said the overtime rule has a better chance of getting tweaked than does making judgment calls subject to replay.

The overtime format last was changed for the 2011 postseason — and then for the 2012 regular season — allowing a game to end on the first possession only with a touchdown. But an opening-possession touchdown has decided five of the eight postseason overtime games since then, including the Patriots’ victory over the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.

“They’ll be looked at again this year after what we saw here,” Jones said from the Senior Bowl on Tuesday, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “We’ll give this, like we do everything, a very extensive going over. I know you all know this, but the competition probably meets more than any committee in the NFL in terms of work that goes into looking at the rules.”

Jones, like another Competition Committee member, John Elway, is skeptical of allowing review of penalties.

“Certainly you don’t want to officiate from replay,” Jones said. “I don’t think, at the end of the day, it’s good for the game. We [the competition committee] have got a lot of work to do here in offseason.”

Cole Beasley: Cowboys front office directs where the ball goes

Getty Images

Cowboys receiver Cole Beasley could be tweeting his way out of Dallas.

Beasley, who is due to become a free agent in March, has taken to social media to share suspicions regarding the role of the Joneses in determining who gets the football.

“Honestly, the front office pushes who they want to get the ball to,” Beasley said. “I haven’t been a huge priority in that regard. Maybe that will change but I’m not sure. More balls come my way in two-minute drill where nothing is planned.”

Beasley, who has completed seven seasons with Dallas, caught 65 passes for 672 yards and three touchdowns in 2018. Beasley insists that he may still return, notwithstanding his concerns.

Doesn’t mean I’m gone,” Beasley said. “I’ll play anywhere where I can make more of an impact. I would love for that to be Dallas or anywhere else that will give me more [opportunities] to make an impact. I just wanna ball. It’s hard with 3 to 4 opps a game.”

Even if Beasley wants to come back, publicly suggesting that the front office tells the coaching staff where the ball should go isn’t the way to get a new deal in Dallas.

Broncos sign Don Barclay to a future contract

Getty Images

The Broncos announced they signed offensive lineman Don Barclay to a future contract Tuesday.

Barclay is a seventh-year player who has appeared in 65 games with 22 starts at right tackle, two at right guard and one at left tackle. He also has started three postseason games at right tackle, while playing five other playoff games.

Barclay, who entered the NFL as a college free agent with Green Bay in 2012, played at least 14 games during four of his six seasons with the Packers. He saw action in three games with Detroit in 2017 after beginning the season in Green Bay.

Future contract signees officially join the roster at the start of the league year March 13.

Cardinals make Tom Clements hiring official

Getty Images

The Cardinals made the hiring of Tom Clements official Tuesday. Clements will serve as the team’s pass game coordinator/quarterbacks coach.

The Cardinals will not have a coach with the title of offensive coordinator as head coach Kliff Kingsbury will call the plays.

Clements’ main responsibility will be grooming quarterback Josh Rosen, who went 3-10 in his rookie season with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions

Clements, 65, returns to the NFL after two seasons out of a job. He has not coached since the Packers fired him after the 2016 season.

Clements, a 24-year coaching veteran, spent 11 seasons in Green Bay. He coached both Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.

Clements was the Bills offensive coordinator in 2004-05 and also has spent time in New Orleans, Kansas City and Pittsburgh.

Bill Belichick on laser pointer in K.C.: We’re focused on the Rams

Getty Images

A report this week indicated that the NFL is looking into a video that appeared to show someone flashing a laser pointer at Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during last Sunday’s AFC Championship Game in Kansas City.

A Lions season ticket holder was fined and sentenced to community service in 2014 after being found doing the same thing to Bills players and the Lions revoked his season tickets as well.

Patriots coach was asked about the situation during a Tuesday conference call and gave a fairly predictable answer.

“Yeah, right now we’re really focused on getting ready for the Rams, so that’s what I’m working on,” Belichick said.

Another questioner asked if the laser affected any of the team’s plans and Belichick repeated that the team is working on getting ready for the Super Bowl.

Bruce Allen: Greg Manusky was involved with interviewing defensive coaches

Getty Images

In the weeks since the end of the regular season, Washington has been linked with a variety of defensive-minded coaches like Todd Bowles who went on to land defensive coordinator jobs with other teams.

They conducted conversations with some of those coaches, which seemed a bit odd since Greg Manusky remained under contract as the team’s defensive coordinator. Team president Bruce Allen was asked about why the team took that approach and said that the intent was not to replace Manusky, but to complement him with other coaches.

“Coach Manusky was in several of those interviews that you were talking about. Again, we’re trying to find the winning combination for 2019,” Allen said during a press conference from the Senior Bowl.

With all of the other coaches opting for jobs with other teams, there won’t be a chance to find out exactly what was in the works on the defensive side of the ball in Washington.

John Elway: Reviewing pass interference “won’t work”

Getty Images

Because the Saints just got jobbed out of a trip to the Super Bowl because of a missed pass interference call, and because we have 12 more days to fill until then, there will be plenty of talk about the feasibility of using replay review to fix an obvious problem for the NFL.

While other leagues are able to find a solution without lengthening their games, there remains a resistance to opening that particular box for fear that Pandora and all her meddling friends will wreck the game.

According to Lindsay Jones of The Athletic, Broncos executive John Elway (a member of the league’s competition committee) is among the skeptics.

“You can’t replay every pass interference,” Elway said. “It won’t work.”

Replaying and reviewing every pass interference call probably wouldn’t. Giving coaches the opportunity to challenge selected calls to make sure a game isn’t decided incorrectly could probably be worked out without tearing at the very fabric of the game.

But the inertia of the way things are will make it hard to find a solution to this problem, as some may not be inclined to fiddle with the rulebook, if only for the fear of making things worse.

Jon Gruden “would love” to have Marshawn Lynch back

Getty Images

Marshawn Lynch is interested in playing in 2019. Raiders coach Jon Gruden is interested in re-signing Lynch.

Thus, Lynch could return for another season with the Raiders.

Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Gruden said Tuesday he was uncertain whether Lynch planned to continue playing, but if the running back wants to play “we’d love to have him back.”

Lynch recently said on Real Time with Bill Maher that he’s open to continuing his career under the right circumstances.

“If it works out that way, then I will,” Lynch, 32, said.

Lynch, an Oakland native, has played the past two seasons with the Raiders after coming out of retirement.

He gained 460 yards from scrimmage and scored three touchdowns on 105 touches in six games this season.

Bill Belichick on Aaron Donald: Pretty much unblockable

Getty Images

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has made it a point to find positive things to say about just about every opposing player he’s asked about during a press conference or conference call even if the rest of the football world is hard-pressed to do the same.

Sometimes, though, Belichick finds himself on the same page as everybody else. That’s the case with Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Donald was the league’s defensive player of the year last season and he’s the lead contender for it again this year. His candidacy won’t be hurt by Belichick’s answer to what stands out about Donald.

“Everything. He’s pretty much unblockable,” Belichick said during a Tuesday conference call.

Part of the trouble, as Belichick pointed out, is that the Rams “have a variety of players and they’re all a problem” for offenses to deal with during games. That should make for plenty of work for the Patriots coaching staff as they try to find a way to keep them all at bay come February 3.

Bruce Allen: If anyone can come back, it’s Alex Smith

Getty Images

Washington quarterback Alex Smith was at Monday’s Wizards game in his most prominent public appearance since November’s severe leg injury and could be seen with a large external fixator on his heavily bandaged leg while moving on a pair of crutches.

Smith didn’t update his condition while taking in the game and team president Bruce Allen didn’t offer any kind of timeline for the team to know more when he spoke to the media from the Senior Bowl on Tuesday. Allen said the team still has time to make a decision about whether Smith will be able to contribute on the field in 2019 and that he feels that “if anyone can come back” from the injury, it is Smith.

Allen was also asked about the team’s offseason plan to address the position in the event Smith isn’t able to play next season. He said the team likes Colt McCoy a lot, noting “that’s why we signed him to the extension last year” while also mentioning McCoy’s trouble staying healthy when given a chance to play.

Allen didn’t go into any other possibilities, but it would seem like a good idea to go into the offseason program with at least one other option in the mix.