Tag:Ryan Wilson
Posted on: January 26, 2012 2:25 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 4:31 pm
 

Is Schiano a beneficiary of the Harbaugh Effect?

There aren't many college coaches who have successfully transitioned to the NFL. (AP/Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

The NFL coaching scrap heap is littered with accomplished college coaches who couldn't make the transition to the professional game. But it only takes one success story to shift the perception from "those guys can't cut it" to "where can we find another one?"

Bucs hire Schiano

Jim Harbaugh arrived in San Francisco last offseason after leading Stanford to 12 wins, including an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech. Twelve months later, the 49ers were a few plays away from going to the Super Bowl after a 13-3 regular season and an NFC West title.

And unlike Stanford, Harbaugh didn't have an Andrew Luck-type franchise quarterback under center in San Francisco. Yes, Alex Smith was a former first-overall pick, but his career up till Harbaugh's arrival could kindly be described as pedestrian. Now the 49ers want him back in 2012 and there may be some competition for his services should he make it to free agency.

“I feel so much different than in years past, just the sideline -- the sideline atmosphere is so much different," Smith said before Sunday's NFC Championship game. "When bad things happen, when plays get made against us, things like that, the guys are just so confident.”

It's that type of confidence that may have led the Glazer family, owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to bypass the typical NFL coaching search, one that has recently included interviewing former NFL big names, up-and-coming coordinators and a few dark horse assistants. And instead, refocus their efforts at the college level, in the hopes of unearthing the next Jim Harbaugh.

This explains Oregon coach Chip Kelly's brief dalliance with the Bucs. And it may explain why they ultimately settled on Rutgers' Greg Schiano after Kelly got cold feet. (The elephant in the room, of course, is that Schiano, unlike Harbaugh and Kelly, hasn't had quite their level of success in recent seasons.)

                                           (Getty Images)
Schiano leaves Rutgers with a 67-67 record, but it took him five years to build the program from one of the worst in the country to annually competitive in the Big East. He was 49-28 in his last six seasons, and if it's one thing the Bucs need, it's someone who knows how to build a winner. The big question: will the front office and fans will have the patience to wait around.

If Schiano's looking for inspiration from his college brethren who made it work in the NFL … well, the pickings are slim. In addition to Harbaugh, three coaches stand out:

Jimmy Johnson

Johnson was the first coach Jerry Jones hired after he bought the Cowboys and promptly ushered Tom Landry out the door. Tough circumstances to walk into after leading the Miami Hurricanes in the '80s, but he went on to win back-to-back Super Bowls before leaving Dallas for the Dolphins, and ultimately a gig as an NFL analyst for Fox Sports.

Barry Switzer

He was Oklahoma's head coach from 1973-1988 and amassed a 157-29-4 record, including three national championships. He resigned before the 1989 season and after the NCAA had placed the Sooners on probation. Five years later, Jones pegged Switzer to replace Jimmy Johnson in Dallas. He went 12-4 in his first two seasons, with the Cowboys winning the Super Bowl following the 1995 season. He resigned three years later and left the NFL with a 45-26 career mark.

Tom Coughlin

Coughlin got his start at Rochester Institute of Technology, where he served as the head coach from 1970-73, and after seven seasons as an assistant with Syracuse, and two more with Boston College, Coughlin served as an assistant coach for three NFL teams from 1984-1990. He then returned to college, accepting the head-coaching gig at BC. In three years, he led the Eagles to a 41-39 record, including a 1993 win over top-ranked Notre Dame.

Coughlin was hired by the expansion Jaguars in 1995 and he's been an NFL head coach ever since. In February 2008, he led the Giants to a Super Bowl XLII victory over the then-undefeated Patriots. He'll go for Lombardi Trophy No. 2 when New York again faces New England on February 5.

So what does this mean for Schiano? History hasn't been kind to college coaches making the jump to the NFL, but there are exceptions. It's not much, but it's all the Glazer have right now.

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 11:00 pm
 

Pick-6 Podcast: Predicting Peyton's next team

Is Peyton done in Indy? And if so, where where he land in 2012? (Getty Images)

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

On the latest Pick-6 Podcast...

It's the second biggest storyline of the week: where will Peyton Manning play in 2012? That would've been a silly question six months ago but much less so now. The Colts have the first-overall pick in the April draft, owner Jim Irsay has cleaned house, and Manning admitted recently that he had no idea about his future. 

Assuming the Manning era is over in Indianapolis, where his NFL career began in 1998, where might he end up? You'll have to listen to find out.

Other quarterback-related topics on the show: 
  • What should the Ravens do with Joe Flacco -- extend him this offseason or let him play out the final year of his rookie deal?
  • And what about Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron -- should he stay or go?
  • With Alex Smith fresh off a 13-3 season in San Francisco, should the 49ers bring him back, and if so, for how long (they drafted Colin Kaepernick in the second round of the 2011 draft)? 
  • Which names top the list of soon-to-be free-agent wide receivers?
  • And finally, a look ahead to the storylines and matchups for Super Bowl XLVI.
All right, let's get to this...

(Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes? And if you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.)


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Posted on: January 25, 2012 10:05 pm
 

Video: Ray Lewis' inspirational post-game speech

Lewis put Baltimore's playoff loss to New England in perspective. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Sometimes it's easy to forget that football really is nothing more than a bunch of guys in costumes playing a game. It's not life or death or the end-all be-all, even if a subset fans prefer to live that reality. Last Sunday, for the second time in four years, the Ravens lost in the AFC Championship game, and it happened in heartbreaking fashion. With seconds remaining, Lee Evans dropped a perfect throw from Joe Flacco for what would've been the go-ahead touchdown.

And then a harried Billy Cundiff pull-hooked a gimme 32-yard field goal after inexplicably losing track of the game situation. It was an improbable chain of events that had to be particularly hard to swallow for veterans like Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, players who very well may have retired had the Ravens won the Super Bowl.

Afterwards, Lewis, who has been this team's leader since he was drafted in 1996, didn't bemoan his fate or call out his underperforming teammates. Instead, he came to their defense during his postgame interview. And before that, but shortly after the season's outcome had been decided, he gave an impassioned speech that helped put things in perspective.


Cundiff later told the media that “You know that Ray Lewis has poured his heart out, and you don’t know how many years he has left. To let him down is pretty tough.”

Lewis might've been let down but he sounds like he's at peace with whatever life may bring. There's a lesson in there somewhere for these folks.

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 7:48 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 11:05 am
 

Lawrence Taylor: Football was easy, life is hard

For as great as Lawrence Taylor was on the field he has been just as troubled off it. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

In January 2011, Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor pled guilty to two charges of sexual misconduct. Two months later, Taylor received six years probation.

On Wednesday, the former Giants great joined James Brown and Cris Collinsworth on Showtime's Inside the NFL for his first extensive sit-down interview since his sentencing last March.

Taylor spoke about his 2010 arrest: "As a football player, I know everything about football, I mean as far as defense and stuff. I know what every player is supposed to do. I know where every player is supposed to be. I can see the play before it happens. I know where I’m supposed to be. I know how to manage a football game. The problem with me is, sometimes, managing my life. Because I make a lot of bad decisions and that’s the process that I’m going through now."

Taylor's life away from football has been a tumultuous existence. He was once asked what he could do that no other linebacker could, and he replied, "drink." But alcohol wasn't his biggest vice. He used drugs during his playing days and it got worse after he retired in 1993, writing in his autobiography that "I saw coke as the only bright spot in my future (after football)."


James Brown and Cris Collinsworth recently sat down with Lawrence Taylor to discuss his sentence for solicitation of a minor, his battles with substance abuse as well as modern day defense in the NFL. 

Taylor told Brown and Collinsworth that "I cannot stress enough that this has not been a great ordeal for me. And I’m quite sure this is not a great ordeal for the girl.  And it’s not a good ordeal for my family – my wife, especially. I hear it every day, every day, every day. ...

"What was I thinking?" Taylor asked. "According to my wife, I wasn’t thinking and she reminds me of that every day for the last year-and-a-half. We, as boys, think that we can do certain things and we’re still going to have that same life we did when we were younger, and sometimes my decision process is not very good. I make mistakes and I make bad decisions. Do I wish this had gone another way and that that day had never happened? Of course I do. The embarrassment I gave my family, the embarrassment of myself.

"Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that, ‘Hey, I’m a chronic bad person. I’m just going out and doing.’  I just get caught up and sometimes you think, you know life is not the same way it was 10 years ago, or 15 years ago. As an athlete, they may overlook a couple things.

"No. Nowadays, you guys are on 24-hours-a-day so everything that happens is actually exploited a little bit more or is blown up a little bit more and more people know about it. So now you have to really discipline yourself. For years, I had no discipline. I could do what I wanted to do as far as playing in New York.  I could do what I wanted to do as long as it was still within the law….Life…sometimes it just throws you some curves and just have to realize that this is a different time and different age and you have to tell yourself to be a man, boy."

Taylor said that "There is always a heart desire to do the right thing" but conceded that "as easy as football is to me…is as hard as life is to me."

He also talked about today's NFL compared to the one he left nearly two decades ago, as well as his thoughts on the Giants' return to the Super Bowl.

This week’s episode of Inside the NFL premieres tonight, January 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 5:58 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 6:14 pm
 

Report: Dolphins would pursue Peyton Manning

The queue for Manning's services starts ... now. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

There's still one game left in the 2011 season, but for the 30 NFL teams who have now moved into the 2012 offseason, the wheels of change are already in motion. Earlier this week, Peyton Manning told the Indianapolis Star that while he has no intentions of retiring he also doesn't know if the Colts will bring him back. It was a shocking admission from the man responsible for two Super Bowl appearances, one Super Bowl title and a 141-67 record (.678 winning percentage) in 13 seasons, including a 3-13 effort as a rookie in 1998.

The queue for Manning's services is already forming. Two weeks ago, CBS Sports' Charley Casserly said the Cardinals could be interested (although it would require some logistical gymnastics). On Wednesday, the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero wrote that the Dolphins will be all-in on Manning, too.

"A team source e-mailed me this afternoon that the priority is Manning. This coincides with news out of Mobile, Ala., where the Senior Bowl is going to be played Saturday. A league source there tells The Herald's Barry Jackson that the Dolphins have shown no interest in Flynn as of yet -- not even informal interest.

"Now, teams are not allowed to show formal interest in soon-to-be free agents at this time. But at those Senior Bowl practices, where agents and team personnel departments mingle on the sideline, it's common for preliminary signs of future interest to be displayed. In fact, it's almost expected."

After the Dolphins hired former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin last week, conventional wisdom was that Miami would immediately be in the Matt Flynn sweepstakes. Unless the Dolphins front office shares a fantastic poker face, that doesn't appear to be the case.

As Salguero notes, "The club believes a healthy Peyton Manning is simply a better gamble than an unproven Matt Flynn. Flynn is younger and will be cheaper (although not by a lot) but clearly the Dolphins are more drawn to the idea of a proven NFL performer -- despite his advancing age and greater risk of his neck injury resurfacing."

In general, betting that a quarterback in his mid-30s, still recovering from serious injury, and likely on the downside of a Hall of Fame career can resurrect a rudderless franchise is a fool's errand. But the Cardinals caught lightning in a bottle with Kurt Warner and he led them to a Super Bowl. It's not unreasonable to think that Manning could have similar success in the right system. Of course, the tough part is finding where that might be.

But one thing seems more likely with each passing day: the Manning era in Indy could be over. A ridiculous notion six months ago, much less so just six weeks out from when the organization is set to give Manning a $28 million roster bonus.

Whatever happens this spring, one thing is certain: should Manning become available, there will be plenty of quarterback-needy teams lining up for his services.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 4:57 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 10:08 pm
 

You decide: Best Super Bowl game-winning finishes

All right, who ya got? (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

We have approximately 290 hours to fill between now and the kickoff for Super Bowl XLVI. Which means that we'll cover every conceivable storyline, probably multiple times, just to make sure you don't miss anything. But before we look ahead, let's take a look back and some of the best finishes in Super Bowl history.

Super Bowl XXIII, Bengals-49ers

Super Bowl XXXVI, Patriots-Rams

Super Bowl XXXVIII, Panthers-Patriots

Super Bowl XLIII, Steelers-Cardinals


And, of course (don't call it a rematch!)…

Super Bowl XLII, Giants-Patriots


Feel free to vote for your favorite finish in the poll below or let us know what you think in the comments.


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Posted on: January 24, 2012 3:17 pm
 

Arians retired after not getting new contract

Yes, Bruce Arians retired but only after Pittsburgh didn't offer him a new contract. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

First, there was speculation that Bruce Arians might not return as the Steelers' offensive coordinator. Then the word on the street was that he would retire. A day later, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that he would've been fired if he didn't leave.

Today, we finally hear from Arians, who spoke to the York Daily Record (Pa.) about his final days with the organization. He said he retired when he "wasn't offered a contract." After that, "it was an easy decision for me."

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Arians added that team president Art Rooney II didn't give him a reason. "I can't answer that question," he said. "Only the people there can. That's the business. I know the job we did as a staff. I don't have any regrets."

Arians was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2007, head coach Mike Tomlin's first year with the Steelers. In four of five seasons, Pittsburgh was a top-10 offense, according to Football Outsiders (and the only year they weren't, 2008, they won the Super Bowl). Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger flourished under Arians, but the Steelers got away from what they had previously been known for: running the ball.

Last week, Rooney was asked if he wanted Arians back in 2012.

“Well, that’s really Mike (Tomlin's) decision," he told KDKA's Bob Pompeani. "I mean, and that’s the process Mike’s involved in right now is talking to all of the coaches about where they are and where they are with their contracts, so I think that’s something – I’ll leave it to those guys to kind of work out where we’re going on that front.”

Rooney was also asked about the perception that Roethlisberger and Arians' had more a "father-son relationship instead of a boss-employer relationship." (No idea why this matters but apparently it does.)

“Well, I think first you have to look at the success that they’ve had," he said. "With Bruce and Ben, we’ve had a pretty good run here, so I’m not sure that I would complain too much about what the relationship has been and it’s been a productive one and that’s the key part of the puzzle.”

It was Roethlisberger who helped save Arians' job several years ago when there were first discussions of letting him ago. Big Ben reportedly tried again this time with no success.

"He's not happy," Arians said, "but that's part of the business."

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac wrote over the weekend that the decision to part ways with Arians seemed to come from Rooney, and Tomlin told Arians several times that he wanted him back in 2012.

Arians told the Daily Record that he has already been contacted by five or six teams but didn't go into specifics.

The most obvious choice? Steelers West: the Arizona Cardinals. CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Craig Morton writes that "Arians does have Steelers ties to multiple Cards coaches (including Ken Whisenhunt, Russ Grimm, Ray Horton and former Steelers player-turned-assistant Deshea Townsend). Arizona has a vacant QBs coach position."

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 1:59 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 2:00 pm
 

Harbaugh: Bradshaw non-fumble like tuck rule

Harbaugh: 'In my opinion, that was a fumble." (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Head coach Jim Harbaugh has exceeded everyone's expectations in his first year with the 49ers. He led them to a 13-3 record, the NFC West title, and San Francisco was possibly one play away from the Super Bowl. No, not that play, the Ahmad Bradshaw fumble that wasn't.

With 2:29 to go in the fourth quarter and the scored tied 17-17, the Giants running back lost the ball -- except that the officials ruled that Bradshaw's forward progress had already been stopped. The play was blown dead and anything subsequent to that -- including a fumble -- didn't matter.

The Giants would go on to win in overtime.

On Monday, Harbaugh compared the Bradshaw ruling to a four-letter word that the NFL would probably prefer never be uttered again: tuck. As in "tuck rule."

"In my opinion, that was a fumble. I'm sure the league will defend it and the officials will defend it. But to me, that play was still going on," Harbaugh said during his news conference Monday, according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Michael Erler. "There was still struggling by Bradshaw. ... I felt like it was analogous with the tuck rule."

Judge for yourself:


Was Bradshaw's forward progress stopped before he fumbled?

The "tuck rule" game turned 10 years old last week and it's still hard for many of the Raiders players and coaches involved to talk about it.

Just like the Raiders-Pats game from January 2001, the NFL confirmed afterwards that the officials made the right call, citing Rule 7, Section 2 (b) of the NFL Rule Book which covers "dead balls": "An official shall declare the ball dead and the down ended: (b) when a runner is held or otherwise restrained so that his forward progress ends." That was the immediate ruling yesterday, which is not subject to a replay review."

This isn't tuck-rule magnitude type stuff although we're certain that doesn't make Harbaugh feel any better. The problem with forward progress is that, like most rules, it's not consistently enforced. And that, no doubt, is the source of Harbaugh's frustration.

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