Tag:New York Jets
Posted on: December 11, 2011 6:41 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2011 6:46 pm

Report: Leonhard tore PCL, done for the season

J. Leonhard might have suffered a PCL tear in his right knee (US Presswire).

By Josh Katzowitz

For the second season in a row, it appears that Jets safety Jim Leonhard has suffered a season-ending injury.

That’s what Rapid Reporter Lisa Zimmerman has confirmed, writing that Leonhard is feared to have suffered a PCL tear in his right knee. He’ll undergo an MRI on Monday to make the final determination.

Leonhard was injured in the second quarter of the Jets win against the Chiefs after he intercepted a Tyler Palko pass. As soon as the play was complete, Leonhard needed to be helped off the field -- without putting any weight on his right leg -- and carted away to the locker room.

After the game, cornerback Darrelle Revis told reporters that the rumor on the sideline during the game was that Leonhard had suffered a season-ending injury during his interception.

It’s the same leg Leonhard broke late last year during a Jets practice that kept him out the rest of the season.

"I'm hopeful it's not too bad," coach Rex Ryan told reporters after the game. "But it's never good when you need help coming off (the field)."

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Posted on: December 11, 2011 5:10 pm

VIDEO: Chiefs perform worst onsides kick ever

By Will Brinson

A good rule of thumb is that if an NFL announcer starts a description of a play with "I hate to laugh but ..." then the result of the play was something really terrible and embarrassing. This rule applies to an onsides kick that the Chiefs Ryan Succop attempted with 12:58 remaining and Kansas City down 25 points to the Jets.

Succop's kick went (maybe) three yards and it caused Dan Fouts and Ian Eagle to get quit a chuckle. For your amusement:

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Posted on: December 10, 2011 12:21 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 12:23 pm

Rex Ryan on the Jets: 'If we get in, look out'

Ryan on Sanchez: 'I want everybody to know that (he) is a pretty good quarterback'. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Two years ago, Rex Ryan's first as the Jets head coach, New York was 6-6 heading into Week 14. They went 3-1 and back-doored their way into the final wild-card spot, making it to the AFC Championship game where they lost to the Colts.

Last season, the Jets started 9-2 before losing three of four. A Week 17 victory against the Bills again landed them in the postseason, and again they made it to the AFC Championship game, this time losing to the Steelers.

New York faces Kansas City Sunday and they're in the familiar position of needing a late-season surge to earn a wild-card berth. As it stands, they're ninth in the conference, behind three teams (Bengals, Titans, Raiders) for the final playoff spot. But the Jets are a persistent bunch, particularly late in the year. Which is why it's reasonable to believe that by the time the Week 17 games conclude, New York will be one of the 12 teams still playing.

That journey starts with the Chiefs. Then the Jets are at the Eagles, host the Giants, and finish at the Dolphins. They'll probably need to go 3-1, maybe 4-0.

“Don’t worry, we’ll take our swing,” head coach Rex Ryan told the New York Daily News' Mike Lupica earlier this week.

Despite Ryan's success in nearly three seasons with the Jets (27-19, two playoff appearances), when the conversation turns to the AFC's elite teams, New York isn't one of them. In recent years, that distinction falls to the Patriots, Steelers and Ravens.

“I understand where people are coming from with that,” Ryan said. “Hey, we’re not in the playoffs yet. But if we get in the playoffs, they’re gonna be talking about four teams. I mean, if we get in, how can you not talk about us? … We can beat all those teams. If we get in, look out.”

(In the Ryan era, the Jets beat the Steelers during Week 15 of the 2010 season, are 3-4 against the Patriots, and are winless in two tries against the Ravens.)

Any success New York has will be because of quarterback Mark Sanchez, who still struggles with consistency, particularly when the Jets are trailing. According to Football Outsiders' passer metrics, Sanchez ranks 19th in total value and 23rd in value per play, just behind Matt Hasselbeck and Cam Newton, and ahead of Josh Freeman and Matt Moore. (In 2010, Sanchez ranked 18th and 28th; in 2009, he was 38th and 35th.)

“I’m not putting him up there with Brady and Manning," Ryan said of Sanchez. "The elite guys. He’s not there yet. But he’s definitely in the next rung.”

The New York Jets will look to stay alive in the AFC playoff hunt when they host the Kansas City Chiefs at Metlife Stadium this Sunday at 1:00 PM ET on CBS. Join Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan for a preview of this game.

Even that's debatable. But the Jets can't rely on 41-year-old Mark Brunell; they're only going as far as Sanchez takes them.

“He's got the same mentality I have,” Ryan said of his quarterback. “You don’t think I can? I’ll show you. This is a guy who outplayed Peyton Manning in a playoff game, outplayed Philip Rivers, outplayed Tom Brady on the biggest possible stage. And then it’s funny, he’s like eighth in Pro Bowl votes or whatever. And I go, really? Give me a quarterback who wins.”

Sanchez does win, although attributing QB success with team victories is both myopic and naive. We suspect Ryan knows this (you don't see the veteran backup getting first-team reps over the franchise quarterback late in the season in Indy, San Diego or New England), but it does no one any good to admit it publicly.

For now, the focus is on the next month of the season. Ryan and the Jets are going to need Sanchez, which is why the head coach wants fans to support the young quarterback.

“I think our fans definitely understand where we are," the head coach said according to NYJets.com. "We’re fighting for our playoff lives, so they understand that. Have we made it easy to be a Jets fan all these weeks? Probably not like we’ve wanted to, but again, the one thing they know from our team is you’re going to get everything we have. Is it going to be good enough? We think it is. Sometimes, it’s not, but we’re going to lay it out there for us and for them. I think that our fans appreciate that. The fact that we’re going to have a double-take on introducing the offense, I want everybody to know that Mark Sanchez is a pretty good quarterback. I think it’ll be good. I think it’ll be a shot in the arm when he comes out to a bunch of applause, because I think that’s what will happen.”

So, please, Jets fans: cheer for Sanchez when he's announced. He'll appreciated it and and at 7-5, New York can use all the help they can get.

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Posted on: December 9, 2011 4:41 pm

Five questions (or more) with Aaron Maybin

A. Maybin has six sacks on the season (Getty).By Josh Katzowitz

From the time he was drafted with the No. 11 overall pick by the Bills in 2009 until the beginning of this season – really, until Week 4 of this season – defensive end Aaron Maybin was one of the biggest draft busts of the past half-decade (even a Google search said so!). 

He had been a standout at Penn State, but by the end of 2010, he had been labeled a disappointment. That, of course, is what happens when you start just one game in your first two seasons and don’t record a single sack and make just 16 tackles in 27 games -- all the while having signed a five-year contract with $17 million guaranteed after a lengthy holdout. In training camp this year, Buffalo had seen enough of him and let him go, a surprising admission that the Bills had made a mistake.

But the mistake might not have been drafting Maybin in the first place. It might have been not giving him an opportunity to play, because this season, after signing with the Jets twice, he’s recorded six sacks and four forced fumbles. All while making $525,000. On Friday, we caught up with Maybin to talk about his time in Buffalo, his comeback season and why wearing sunglasses indoors doesn’t mean you’re a bad football player.

Previous Five Questions (or more):

Sept. 16:
Actor/former Patriots DB Brian White

Sept. 30: Bills RB Fred Jackson

Oct. 7: Sweetness author Jeff Pearlman

Oct. 21: 49ers LB Aldon Smith

Nov. 4:
Chris Crocker

Nov. 18: Bum Phillips

1. CBSSports.com: You’ve had an interesting career to say the least. Well, definitely an interesting year. You go from being a guy whose name was always next to the word “bust,” and now you’re a major contender for comeback player of the year. What’s that been like?

Aaron Maybin: Honestly, the only thing I can say about is I’ve been extremely blessed. You know what I mean? It’s been a great year so far. It started off with a whole lot of diversity. At the end of the day, I’m with a team that I have an opportunity to go out and help win football games. That’s the position I wanted to be in.

CBS: Your years in Buffalo, they must have been bad for you and for the team. But always being referred to as a bust, how did you get through that emotionally?

Maybin: Really, this is the first time anybody asked me about that. I haven’t given it much thought. Really, it’s simple because in order for you think about it, you have to think “How am I going to get through this” or “Woe is me” or if you’re having a pity party. That doesn’t get anything accomplished. As bad as things were and as unhappy as I was, dealing with some of those things, the only response is I had to keep working hard. To continue trying new things. That was the only thing I could do.

A. Maybin has turned around his career with New York this season (Getty).2. CBS: Then, the Jets cut you earlier this year. At what point did you start to wonder, “Man, maybe the NFL just isn’t going to work out for me?”

Maybin: Even though they cut me after the preseason, I had a productive preseason. I knew I would catch on somewhere.

CBS: I read that when the Jets wanted to re-sign after Week 3, it was tough to get in touch with you. Your aunt had just died, and you were at her funeral, and nobody could make contact. How did that all down?

Maybin: It wasn’t a funeral. It was she had died that day, and I didn’t feel like talking to anybody. I didn’t have my phone on or around me.

3. CBS: What’s different about the time in Buffalo as compared to now?

Maybin: I’m getting the opportunity. You look at the number of plays I’ve gotten and the amount of pass rushes I’ve got. At the end of the day, I didn’t have the opportunity to do that before. If you watched me during the preseason or anytime I was getting significant snaps, you’ve seen this. There are a lot of things I need to work on, but the player you’re looking at is the same dude that’s been there the past few years. I’ve just blessed to be with a team that’s given me the chance.

That was really why I was frustrated before. For whatever reason, I didn’t feel as though I was going to get that there. I couldn’t understand why. As hard as I worked, I wanted to show them I could be the playmaker, and I couldn’t ever convince them. At the end of this day, like I said before, you can’t throw yourself a pity party. You can really just put your head down and keep on working as hard as you can. No matter what, that’s the only thing I know. That’s the only way I know how to get better.

4. CBS: How much better is life now?

Maybin: It doesn’t even compare. I haven’t been as happy as I am now or having as much as fun as I’ve had probably since I was in high school or college. For me to have been struggling for so long and to be as miserable as I was, I can’t even explain it in words. I realize how important this team has been to me and how important the game is. I’ve had it taken away.

CBS: It’s interesting that you said you were miserable. Most people would think that this guy is making a ton of money and he gets to play pro football, why is he miserable? But that’s a real thing.

Maybin: It’s not about the money. That’s just like them saying, “If you’re making money, regardless of whether the team is winning or losing, you should be happy.” No, you shouldn’t. l’m not a paycheck player. If I’m not having the opportunity to play that game, I’m not doing anything but collecting a check. I knew I couldn’t be happy until I was at least contributing to a win or a loss.

5. CBS: How much have you grown up since Buffalo, just in the last year? There were reports that you were referred to as Mr. Cool and wore sunglasses at meetings in Buffalo. How much have you changed?

Maybin: I’ve grown up a whole lot. But if that's what measures being grown or not, I don’t really know how to explain that. I’ve always put 110 percent of what I have into my job and what I do. There’s never been a day I haven’t taken my job seriously. I can’t really say I approach my work or my job with any more serious of a demeanor as I did before. I’ve always taken it seriously. If me wearing glasses is what kept me from being a good football player, that’s unfortunate. I doubt that anybody here cares about that.

CBS: That’s a fair point but …

Maybin: If somebody says something about why I’m not successful, like you just did, I  want to hear how I can’t play football or that I don’t work hard or that I don’t  sacrifice for his team. And I never heard anybody say anything about that. Whether I wore glasses, that to me doesn’t define me as a player. I’m a team player, and all I’ve cared about is winning.

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Posted on: December 4, 2011 2:47 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2011 2:52 pm

Video: Cowher talks to Burress, Holmes about NYJ

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Before joining the The NFL Today crew, Bill Cowher was an NFL head coach. He did it for 15 years with the Steelers, from 1992-2006, and he won a Super Bowl after the 2005 season. Cowher was also responsible for using first-round picks on wide receivers Plaxico Burress (2000) and Santonio Holmes (2006).

Both players are now with the Jets, trying to help New York make it to their third straight AFC Championship game. First things first, though: getting to the playoffs. At 6-5 they have some work to do.

Cowher sat down with Burress and Holmes on Sunday.

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Posted on: November 30, 2011 4:08 pm

Keep an Eye on: Week 13's finer points

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

Saints vs. Lions
A good over/under on total passing yards for this game is 700. Both teams have gun-slinging quarterbacks and depth at receiver. What’s interesting is the way that receiving talent is used.

Calvin Johnson is the most physically gifted wideout (if not player) in the NFL. He’s the fulcrum of the Lions’ attack. That’s actually part of the reason why Detroit’s offense is at the 300 level while New Orleans’ is at the 500. Johnson is not fundamentally refined. He runs only mediocre routes and does not always read complex coverages well. Hence, he hasn’t always been great against committed double-teams.

Fortunately for Johnson, his weaknesses are drastically mitigated by the magnitude of his strengths. In short, his lack of refinement hasn’t mattered a whole lot because he can outrun and out-jump everyone anyway. This may in fact be part of the reason he’s unrefined – it hasn’t been necessary for coaches to waste time and energy teaching him fundamentals.

It might be a different story if Johnson were a Saint, though. Sean Payton’s offense is very layered and malleable. Receivers must be able to precisely run a litany of routes from a litany of different spots on the field. If they can’t, they won’t play, no matter how high they’re drafted (just ask Robert Meachem or Devery Henderson, two high-round picks who often rode the pine early in their careers). Johnson would certainly have been a No. 1 receiver for the Saints from day one, but he would have been asked to learn more, too.

Certainly, there are other factors that go into the making of the Lions’ and Saints’ offense. Drew Brees is a wiser quarterback than Matthew Stafford at this point, plus the Saints have a better interior offensive line and more complete run game. But in terms of week-to-week sustainability, the fundamental soundness of the Saints receivers trumps the insane athleticism of Calvin Johnson. A defense can drastically alter the Lions passing game by taking away just one player. Against the Saints, a defense must take away three or four players.

Cardinals vs. Cowboys
It’s been a good year for inside linebackers in the NFC. A lot of attention has been paid to the duo in San Francisco (Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman), and rightfully so. Brian Urlacher has been tremendous (as usual) in Chicago.

He’s not talked about often, but Minnesota’s E.J. Henderson has been nearly as good as Urlacher (at least against the run). And from this matchup, Dallas’ Sean Lee has received plaudits for his work in coverage (Lee’s attack speed against the run is also superb).

There’s another NFC linebacker in this elite class that few know about: Arizona’s Daryl Washington. The 230-pounder from TCU was in and out of the lineup as a second-round rookie last season. This season, he’s been in and out of opposing backfields. Washington leads the Cardinals with 59 solo tackles (Paris Lenon leads the team with 68 total tackles). He also has eight tackles for loss and three sacks.

Each week Washington jumps out resoundingly on film, showing sideline-to-sideline speed and a downhill burst that can make the other 21 players look sluggish in comparison. Speed is only relevant if it’s taking you in the right direction, though. What has set Washington apart is his improved recognition.

He identifies run concepts and angles to the ball with preternatural instincts (they have to be preternatural because such sharp instincts can’t be cultivated in just one-and-a-half seasons). Those instincts apply in coverage, as well, evidenced by Washington’s two interceptions and six passes defensed this season.

Redskins vs. Jets
Does it seem harsh to start comparing Mark Sanchez to Rex Grossman? The third-year quarterback has not quite fallen to that level in terms of turnovers and bonehead mistakes, but the clock management and decision-making gaffes, not to mention the 11 interceptions and five turnovers returned for touchdowns, are hard to overlook.

Rich Gannon – who is quickly becoming one of the premiere color commentators in the business and, it’s worth noting, briefly tutored Sanchez a few years ago – recently made a few very astute observations about the ex-Trojan. One was that when Sanchez misses, he tends to miss behind his receiver. Gannon suspects this is because Sanchez is routinely late with his eyes; he’s not a quick field-scanner or anticipator.

More concerning is Sanchez’s jitteriness in the pocket. He perceives pass-rush pressure before it arrives (a crippling weakness that usually lands a player out of the league or in a career backup role). He’s overly concerned about getting hit, which causes him to tuck the ball, flee the pocket or make ill-advised throws.

These were things scouts worried about with Sanchez coming out of USC, where he had the uncommon luxury of always throwing from a clean pocket. Sanchez showed these weaknesses as a rookie, which was fine. But it’s not fine that he’s still showing them after nearly 50 professional starts.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 12 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: November 28, 2011 5:35 pm

Gailey won't discipline Johnson, who texted Plax

Posted by Will Brinson

During Sunday's game against the Jets -- a 28-24 loss by Buffalo -- Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson made what he called "a bad decision" when he decided to mock Plaxico Burress for shooting himself in the leg during a touchdown celebration. (See: above.)

Johnson's all but sure to hear from the NFL about his touchdown celebration in the form of a fine, and considering he cost his team 15 yards by falling to the ground, there was a chance that Bills coach Chan Gailey might discipline Johnson as well. But that's not the case as Gailey said on Monday he wouldn't punish the wideout.

"The league handles all of that. I don’t have to worry about all that. The league handles the discipline part of it," Gailey said Monday. "The question you always ask yourself, it’s always the question of if I have benched everybody for every dumb mistake that was made there wouldn’t be any coaches or players out there because we’ve all made dumb mistakes. I try to address it, make sure everybody understands exactly the impact it has on the team and then do you sit there and say are we going to punish the team or are we going to punish the person? Who are you going to punish?
Week 12 Recap

"That’s always the question. These are men. They’ve got to understand exactly what’s at stake and they’ve got to understand actions reap consequences and consequences affect the team."

Gailey also added that Johnson's decision to mock Plaxico's shooting incident "bothered" the coach because he doesn't think other players should "make fun of people."

Plus, making fun of people you work with and play twice a year comes with the bad side effect of creating an awkward personal situation. So it's good to hear that Johnson apologized to Plax.

"I didn’t talk to him on the phone. I just shouted a text message," Johnson said Monday. "He responded and everything’s cool. It’s an unfortunate situation with me being immature like that. I talked to him and he responded and it was cool."

Johnson's celebration, as noted in Monday's Sorting the Sunday Pile, isn't the bigger issue with his game. The fact that he proceeded to drop other balls and potentially cost his team a win is the bigger problem.

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Posted on: November 28, 2011 1:21 am
Edited on: November 28, 2011 1:38 am

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 12

Posted by Will Brinson

Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 10 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.

(Ed. Note: Monday's podcast will be up around lunch due to some travel/family stuff.)

1. Run Like Hell -- Er, Heck

Every week, Tim Tebow takes the field as the Broncos quarterback, and every week everyone sits around and snarks at the Broncos running the ball an obscene number of times. Sunday's 16-13 overtime victory in San Diego featured Tebow toting the rock a ridiculous 22 times.

Just for some historical perspective, Tebow's now the only player in post-merger NFL history to attempt 20 rushes and 10 passes in a single game.

People rip the guy for ruining the quarterback position, or not playing it in a "real" way, but everyone very conveniently ignores three factors. One, he can make throws -- a pair of touchdown strikes to Eric Decker in the past two weeks were the difference between 2-0 and 0-2. Two, Tebow simply doesn't turn the ball over. Only 22 quarterbacks since 1970 have finished the year with 250-plus passing attempts, less than five picks and less than five fumbles. Tebow could be No. 23. (Aaron Rodgers could be No. 24.)

And most importantly, the Broncos have a strong running game with Willis McGahee, and an even stronger defense that no one wants to give credit to. If someone else, like a Brad Johnson-type, is quarterbacking this team, the defense gets all the credit. Because it's Tebow, that's the focus.

That's just how it is, and that's fine. After all, Tebow's now beaten every single AFC West rival this season on the road. He is a story. He is the story.

But maybe -- with all due acknowledgement of the silliness involved in "clutchability" -- it shouldn't be all that surprising that Tebow and the Broncos bested Norv Turner and the Chargers in the fourth quarter and overtime. Eking out victories from teams willing to hand over a win thanks to silly mistakes is the modus operandi of the 2011 Broncos, and giving away wins with silly mistakes is what Turner's Bolts teams do best.

San Diego's now last (!) in the AFC West and the only bright spot to this season, outside of Ryan Mathews emerging as a viable feature back if he can stay healthy, is the likelihood of Turner being shipped out of town following this season. You can like or dislike Turner all you want, and he's turned Philip Rivers into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but this Chargers team needs some fresh blood.

Denver's one game back of the playoffs thanks to holding a tiebreaker over the Jets, and they've got the tiebreaker over the Bengals too. A game-managing quarterback plus a running game plus a stout defense has had success in the NFL before.

So if you're still hating on Tebow, just quit and enjoy the ride.

2. Bear Down, Again

Ignore for a second the fact that Bears starting quarterback Caleb Hanie doesn't even know how to properly spike the ball at the end of the game. And ignore that he finished 18 of 36 with three interceptions on the day in Chicago's 25-20 loss to Oakland Sunday.

Because the Bears are still going to make the playoffs. Or, at least, they can.

As noted last week, Chicago's still got a very Chicago formula for making it to the postseason, with Devin Hester on special teams (kudos to Hue Jackson and Shane Lechler for avoiding him Sunday) and a defense that sacked Carson Palmer four times Sunday and limited the Raiders to just a single touchdown.

That type of play will go a long way against opponents like the Seahawks, Vikings, Chiefs and Broncos, all of whom are on Chicago's schedule the rest of the way in. And a quick look at our 2011 NFL Playoff Race Tracker reveals that only two worthy teams in the NFC will actually be shut out of the postseason (the Lions and the Giants are currently odd men out).

I'm not a huge fan of moral victories, especially when an actual loss reveals just how poorly your backup quarterback can play. And don't get me wrong -- Hanie has plenty of flaws and won't make things easy for Chicago the rest of the way. But if you're the Bears, you have to believe Sunday's showing means a playoff berth is still possible.

3. T.J. Yates: An All-Time Great

The case of T.J. Yates is a weird one. Thanks to a (likely) season-ending injury to Matt Leinart, Yates appears to be the de facto starter in Houston and, as Pete Prisco pointed out in his grades column, next in line to suffer a nasty injury as a result of the football gods really not wanting the Texans to smell success.

But you know what makes Yates' case even weirder? He's probably the most successful NFL quarterback in North Carolina Tar Heel history, despite being a rookie, having never started a game and despite having accumulated his career passing numbers -- 8/15 for 70 yards and no touchdowns -- on Sunday in backup duty.

That's because the only other option for "top NFL quarterback in UNC football history" is Scott Stankavage, who played in four games over two NFL seasons with the Broncos (three in 1984) and the Dolphins (one in 1987) and managed to complete 32 percent of his 25 attempted passes for 66 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. (In fairness, Yates is also one of only two UNC quarterbacks drafted since the merger, which is insane.)

His entire career wasn't as successful as Yates' Sunday afternoon in Week 12.

4. "Fire Who?"

The fans want it, as evidenced by the Eagles crowd raining "Fire Andy" chants on the field amid New England's 38-20 shellacking of Philly.

"The way we played, I can understand," Reid said afterward.

It's never easy to sympathize with any supporter of Philly sports, mainly because they're too vitriolic in their reaction. (There's a reason the battery-throwing, Santa Claus-booing stereotype exists.) And it's real easy to laugh at the Eagles plight, especially after they "won the offseason" with a ton of free-agent moves and name-brand signings.

But suggesting that the Eagles should dump Reid is silly, especially when there's a smarter path to success.

1) Fire Juan Castillo. This is coming anyway, you gotta think, and it's not that unreasonable. 2) Re-work the defensive scheme. Hire someone who can take the incredibly talented defensive group Philly has and actually utilize them properly. 3) Dump DeSean Jackson. He's ridiculously talented, but Jackson's got the look of a guy who's wrecking this locker room with contract and attitude problems. (Or maybe, as Clark Judge wrote Sunday, he's a symptom of a larger problem. Either way, he's not helping and he's not happy.) 4) Draft/trade/sign linebackers, safeties and offensive linemen in the offseason and actually address weaknesses.

This isn't an "easy" solution, of course. But this Eagles team has too much talent and Andy Reid's got too much success in Philly to simply blow everything up because the Dream Team experiment went awry in the first season.

He's also inherently tied to Philly's franchise quarterback, Michael Vick. One more bad year from both guys and it might be worth discussing a change, but just because Philly fans are naturally angry doesn't mean Eagles management should have a naturally knee-jerk reaction to 2011.

5. Why So Serious?

There's no reason to sit here and get in an uproar over Stevie Johnson's touchdown celebration against the Jets, in which he mocked Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes by pretending to shoot himself in the leg and then crash a plane. (Besides, Bob Costas' "get off my lawn" Sunday night halftime rant took care of that.)

I like the move, because it's a big-time slap in the face to the Jets, the Bills need some swagger, and as long as you back up your trash-talk, do what you want.

The problem with Johnson's TD is that as soon as he pulled off a celebration mocking a pair of wideouts on the other team, his game went in the toilet. (Stop me if this sounds familiar.)

Look, I think Johnson's an awesome talent and a great dude and if I'm in charge of meting out discipline, someone who landed a helmet-to-helmet hit on Sunday is washing Johnson's white t-shirt collection, just because his celebrations are hysterical.

But if you're going to publicly mock a colleague for literally shooting himself in the foot, you can't turn around and spend the rest of the game figuratively doing the same thing to yourself and your team, which is precisely what Johnson did when he egged on a would-be game-winning touchdown catch in the fourth quarter:

That's exactly why I refuse to get all amped up about whether what he did was right or wrong. Johnson will almost certainly be fined by the NFL. Johnson will -- as Mike Freeman's already noted -- be subject to league-wide and public scorn. And, most importantly, his team lost because after his premature celebration, the Jets wideouts were substantially better than Johnson was.

6. Shananigans

There's no chance that any other football journalist or fan or couch-bound pundit knows as much about managing a football team as Mike Shanahan. The man has two Super Bowl wins. Enough said.

But why on Earth did it take so long to get Roy Helu touches?

The Redskins rookie running back rumbled for 108 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries and caught seven passes for 54 yards in Washington's surprise 23-17 comeback victory in Seattle Sunday.

This would be shocking, but Helu already set the franchise record for receptions in a game three weeks ago, and averaged five yards per carry more than Ryan Torain two weeks ago, so giving him the rock seemed obvious to everyone ... except Shanahan.

Seattle's rush defense is one of the best in the NFL (3.5 yards per carry allowed going in and coming out of the loss), so it's not like Helu was carving up the Panthers or Colts here.

The obvious reward for his impressive game on the ground and remaining Rex Grossman's most reliable target is a much-deserved, one-carry afternoon next week against the Jets. Don't say I didn't warn you, fantasy owners.

7. 0-Fer

The Colts became the first NFL team to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday, just minutes before the Rams were booted as well, thanks to their 27-19 loss to Carolina in Indy Sunday.

Everyone knew they were already eliminated, of course, and everyone knows they'll land the top-overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, but the big question is, can the 2008 Detroit Lions keep their bottles of Andre on ice for the time being?

Probably not -- Indy looks like a pretty good lock to finish the season at 0-16, based on their remaining schedule.

First up in Week 13 is New England (in Foxboro) and there's no reason to spend time wondering if Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will get trapped against a one-time arch-rival in a free "kick 'em while they're down" game. They won't. At Baltimore in Week 14 should be a lock for a double-digit blowout too. The Ravens have stumbled against bad teams, but not at home, and no one's had a defense as bad as Indy.

Tennessee (Week 15) and Houston (Week 16) at home shouldn't present challenges for Indy when it comes to losing either, considering that both teams appear to have capable rushing attacks. Even if Chris Johnson still looks like he's wading through a giant jar of jelly when he hits the hole, he's been effective against bad rushing defenses this year.

That leaves at Jacksonville in Week 17, and which isn't even their best chance at being favored (read: getting more than a 50 percent chance of winning from Vegas). That will be Tennessee, but the Titans will still be favored by at least three points in Indy, like the Panthers were.

And none of the remaining teams on the schedule have a defense nearly as bad as the Panthers, which means there's a 60-plus percent chance Indy goes winless this year. At least.

8. Rookie of the Year Race

Fortunately, we get to honor a Defensive and Offensive Rookie of the Year in the NFL. Because otherwise, we might have a big old heated argument about who the most deserving rookie in 2011 is. Last week, I threw my [substantial only in the literal sense] weight behind Andy Dalton leaping past Cam Newton for the top rookie, but now I'm not so sure.

That's not because Cam went bananas in a win on Sunday so much as it was Dalton only beating the Browns because he's got another rookie -- wideout A.J. Green -- on his team, who might secretly be the best option for the award on the Bengals roster.

Cincy remained in playoff contention -- they're currently the No. 6 seed -- thanks to Green making big catches to set up scores all day.

On the defensive end of things, Von Miller continued to state his case for ROY honors with 10 total tackles and another sack. And what about Patrick Peterson, who returned a fourth punt return for a TD on the year? Dude's defensive improvement is underrated so far this year, especially in a tough situation, and it'll be interesting to see how his game-changing impact on special teams will rate for voters -- three of his teeters have, literally, been game-winning scores.

9. A Quarterback League

Watching the Chiefs stifle the Steelers for much of the Sunday night game -- eventually won by Pittsburgh 13-9 -- was picture proof of how important having a good quarterback really is. Matt Cassel might have struggled against the Steelers defense, but Tyler Palko was absolutely miserable, going 18/28 for 167 yards and three picks.

The same can be said for Jacksonville, who knocked Matt Leinart out against Houston, but couldn't muster any sort of offense because no one would respect Blaine Gabbert, much less McCown.

Teams that don't have a good quarterback can still win by playing smart and running the hell out of the ball, but the Jaguars and Chiefs are great proof as to just how quickly a team can fade out relevancy as a result of lacking substantial skill under center.

The Jacksonville and Kansas City defenses have put their respective offenses in decent position to win games over the past couple of weeks, but an inability to move the ball resulted in a pair of losses for each squad. (Romeo Crennel's defensive scheming against Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger was particularly impressive, and even more depressing when you think about how badly it was wasted.)

Which is precisely why it's impossible to be too bullish about the playoff chances for teams like the Texans and the 49ers.

10. And the Oscar Goes To ...

Jerome Simpson for the flop of the NFL season. And maybe NFL history? It's hard to even call this a "storyline," because it's not. There's no epidemic of flopping hitting the NFL and Christian Ronaldo isn't going to be defecting any time soon.

But Simpson's flop, which you can watch here, is just too amazing to ignore.

Oh yes, and the Bengals snuck one out against the Browns, holding onto their sixth seed in the playoffs. They've got the look of a team that isn't quite ready to quit trying out this possible pipe dream of a postseason run, but if they play like they did against the Browns when they get the Steelers, Texans and Ravens over the next three weeks, it's hard to imagine them sneaking in with three 6-5 teams (Titans, Jets, Broncos) hanging out on the fringe.

And that flop wouldn't be nearly as pretty as Simpson's.

Muffed Punts

Leftovers from Sunday's Action ...
... Percy Harvin's 104-yard kick return that didn't produce a touchdown on Sunday was the longest non-scoring play in NFL history.
... Peterson is also the only player in NFL history with four punt return touchdowns of 80-plus yards or more in a season.
... And the Rams-Cardinals game was the first in NFL history to feature an 80-plus yard punt-return TD from each team.
... Cam Newton is just the fourth post-merger quarterback to rush for 10 touchdowns in a season, joining Steve Grogan, Kordell Stewart and Daunte Culpepper on that list.
... Chris Long recorded his 10th sack of the season, meaning he and dad Howie are just the second father-son combo to record double-digit sacks in a season in their career, along with Clay Matthews and his dad, Clay Matthews.
... The Bengals overcame a 10-point halftime deficit for the third time this season, tied for the most in NFL history, along with the 2011 Lions.

Worth 1,000 Words


There might be a better option, but watching Tim Tebow hit his X button two seconds too early and then get laid out is pretty entrancing.

Hot Seat Tracker

  • Norv Turner: Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune believes "no playoffs = no more Norv." So, probably no more Norv.
  • Jim Caldwell: If they go 0-16 and draft a new franchise quarterback, how can they carry over the same staff? They can't right?
  • Steve Spagnuolo: He just lost back-to-back games to Seattle and Arizona. Talk about a free-fall.
  • Jack Del Rio: It's a good rule of thumb that if you're flopping your first-round rookie for a McCown brother that your job is in trouble.
  • Tony Sparano: Even if he keeps winning, you gotta think Stephen Ross goes window shopping this offseason.

Chasing Andrew Luck

The Colts have all but locked up the Luck sweepstakes, and with the remaining schedules, we might as well take the numbers off the board. Congratulations for ruining a mini-feature in this column by Week 12, Curtis Painter. You jerk.

MVP Watch

Speaking of jerks, "tanks for nuthin'" Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has one more holiday game left -- a Christmas showdown with the Bears. And the Packers could still lose a game and maybe come back towards the Patriots (if Tom Brady stays hot?), but he's all but sewn up this award pretty early in the season.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com