Tag:Charlie Whitehurst
Posted on: February 21, 2012 1:10 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 5:01 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Quarterback rankings

The 2012 free-agent quarterback class is an, um, diverse group. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Leading up to the start of free agency on March 13, we're compiling lists of the best 2012 NFL free agents by position. These are the quarterbacks.

Though the list of free-agent quarterbacks for 2012 isn't necessarily the greatest crop of players in NFL history, it does have the potential to be one of the most intriguing in years, because of one man: Peyton Manning. Manning's saga is well-documented at this point; the back-and-forth between Manning's camp and Jim Irsay dominated the freaking Super Bowl.

Releasing him into the wild seems like a mere matter of timing. So we're going to take that assumption and add Manning to our lists of free agents. We're also including the Saints Drew Brees and 49ers Alex Smith on this list, since both are technically unrestricted free agents, until they receive the franchise tag from their respective teams. There's a better likelihood of Jimmy Clausen unseating Cam Newton than there is Brees not returning to New Orleans, but maybe someone in the Saints office will forget to fax in the franchise-tag paperwork.


Brees offseason could be interesting.  (Getty Images)

1. Drew Brees

Breakdown: The biggest problem for the Saints isn't that Brees might leave. He's not going to unless something really ridiculous happens. The biggest problem for the Saints is that if they're forced to use the franchise tag on Brees, they could end up losing Carl Nicks and Marques Colston. That won't make Brees any happier when it gets down to brass-tack negotiating.
Potential Landing Spots: Saints

2. Peyton Manning

Breakdown: Perhaps you've heard of Manning before. He's third all-time in passing yards (54,828). He's third all-time in passing touchdowns (399). He's won more MVPs than anyone in NFL history (four). And he's second in his own family with Super Bowl rings (one). That last item isn't a shot at Manning, though. It's the reason we believe he's not done when it comes to football, and that he'll come back to the game supremely motivated. No one knows whether or not he'll be fully healthy by the time the 2012 season begins. We do know he won't be fully healthy by the time March 13 rolls around, though. Which means that anyone who signs him will be engaging in a serious high-risk, high-reward game of chicken with Manning's neck.
Potential Landing Spots: Cardinals, Dolphins, Seahawks, Jets, Redskins

3. Matt Flynn

Breakdown: Flynn's attempted just 132 passes at the professional level, but 81 of them are pretty impressive. Those came in the only two starts of his career, when Flynn managed to go 55 of 81 for 731 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions. There are concerns that Flynn can't make every throw (right now) and that he might be a product of Green Bay's system. But that system's in Miami now, as former Packers quarterbacks coach Joe Philbin is the Dolphins head coach. If Miami doesn't make a run at Flynn when free agency opens up, that should be a big red flag for anyone else interested in Aaron Rodgers backup.
Potential Landing Spots: Dolphins, Seahawks, Redskins

4. Alex Smith

Breakdown: Smith resurrected his career under new 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and, in the span of about two playoff minutes against the Saints, nearly flipped the entire narrative of his career. As it is, Smith's improvement in 2011 is impressive; according to Pro Football Focus, he had the third-highest accuracy percentage in the NFL (factoring in drops, throwaways and spikes) last year, behind only Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Smith's said he isn't interested in leaving San Francisco, and Harbaugh's gotten his back publicly, even though there's zero chance they'll use the franchise tag on him.
Potential Landing Spots: 49ers
Henne could surprise in the right spot. (Getty Images)

5. Chad Henne

Breakdown: Miami drafting a quarterback in the second round: an April tradition unlike any other! But no, seriously, Henne's in a long line of signal-callers that the Dolphins took in the second round who didn't pan out. He's had serious problems with interceptions; Henne's got a 3.5 percent INT rate over his career and only nine of his 36 NFL games have not featured him throwing a pick. And Henne tends to look particularly robotic at times in the pocket (these things go hand in hand). But he's only 26 and it's not fair to blame him for all of Miami's woes the past three years. Henne can make all the throws and flashed some serious potential at times during his tenure in South Beach. He's the highest-upside backup quarterback out there and he's got several former coaches -- Brian Daboll, Tony Sparano -- coaching in spots that could use a backup quarterback.
Potential Landing Spots: Chiefs, Jets, Broncos

6. Jason Campbell

Breakdown: It's hard not to feel sympathetic for Campbell. The former Auburn star and first-round pick has had roughly 25 offensive coordinators since he started taking snaps in college and he's about to start out on his third NFL roster once the free-agency shuffling begins anew this year. He's 30 and hasn't played a full season in the past two years, either because of injury or being benched. The latter was for Bruce Gradkowski, so it's hard to tell what's worse for his reputation. He makes a lot of sense for a team that wants someone to push their starter without making a stink in the locker room.
Potential Landing Spots: Chiefs, Eagles, Jets

NFL Free Agency

7. Kyle Orton

Breakdown: Orton's was a "winner" with the Bears, he was a stat-hog for a season with the Broncos, he flirted with the Dolphins and finally he was a streak-killer with the Chiefs. He's not going to be anyone's starter in 2011, unless Washington seriously misplays everything in free agency and the draft (not out of the question). But he's an above-average backup in the NFL and could certainly compete with the starters that various teams -- KC, Washington, Jacksonville, for example -- will trot out in 2011. Orton doesn't want to deal with being a "stop-gap option" but it's unlikely he'll have a choice next year.
Potential Landing Spots:
Redskins, Chiefs, Jaguars, Bears, Broncos

8. David Garrard

Breakdown: Pete Prisco's second-favorite quarterback missed the entire 2011 season after the Jaguars cut him and he underwent surgery for a herniated disk in his back. There was interest in the 34-year-old last year after teams lost quarterbacks to injury, but he decided to recover from the surgery instead. While that's the smart move, Garrard won't find the market as friendly for his services this time, especially since his agent said on February 15 Garrard would be ready in "four to six weeks." Expect someone with a steady starter and tenuous backup to look to Garrard.
Potential Landing Spots: Bears, Broncos, Buccaneers, Rams, Raiders

9. Shaun Hill

Breakdown: Hill's 32 and not exactly a spring chicken. But he performed admirably in place of Matthew Stafford in 2010 and the fit between he and the Lions is a nice one. The Lions are tight with cap space, but Hill appears to like where he's at, and it's not like he'd break the bank in another location anyway.
Potential Landing Spots: Lions
VY's likely to remain a backup. (Getty Images)

10. Vince Young

Breakdown: Now seems like a good time to remind you that the guy who coined "Dream Team" in Philly was indeed the backup quarterback and someone on a one-year contract. His personality and turnovers will cause a problem for teams looking to sign him. Unless that team happens to run the read-option offense and could really use a mobile quarterback with success in the NFL to step in and freelance if/when Tim Tebow gets hurt/melts down.
Potential Landing Spots: Broncos

11. Rex Grossman

Breakdown: Did you know that Rex Grossman is actually "Rex Grossman III"? Poor Mike Shanahan had RG3 on his roster the whole time and didn't even know it. Sigh. Anyway, Grossman's not going to attract a lot of attention on the market, and nor should he. As the old saying goes, though, "love the one you're with." And Grossman and the Shanahans are with each other, even if Rex isn't starting next year. It would be surprising to see him playing anywhere else in 2012.
Potential Landing Spots: Redskins

HONORABLE MENTION

Unrestricted Free Agents: Dennis Dixon, Josh Johnson, Brady Quinn, Charlie Whitehurst, Donovan McNabb, Dan Orlovsky, Drew Stanton, Caleb Hanie, Charlie Batch, Kellen Clemens

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Posted on: October 19, 2011 9:39 pm
 

Tarvaris Jackson could actually play Sunday

JacksonPosted by Josh Katzowitz

With Tarvaris Jackson getting a bye week to recover from his pectoral injury, it’s not so certain that backup Charlie Whitehurst will start in his place this Sunday when the Seahawks face Cleveland.

That’s because, as Rapid Reporter John Boyle writes, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he might not know who’s starting at quarterback until close to game time.

"We may go all the way to game time to understand whether he'll be available to us,” said Carroll, referring to Jackson, who also said his starting quarterback would “do some stuff” at Wednesday’s practice (though Whitehurst was taking snaps with the first team).

Jackson or Whitehurst?
Even if Jackson can’t go Sunday, Carroll had some good news. The fact Seattle is even considering playing him means his injury shouldn’t be a long-term problem.

“The trainers and the doctors are really surprised that he's able to do what he's doing,” Carroll said. “He's really tough-minded.” 

If Jackson can’t play, that obviously means the Seahawks will go with Whitehurst, who took over for Jackson against the Giants and played well enough (11 of 19 for 149 yards and a touchdown) to allow the Seahawks score the win against New York.

“He's going to take all the reps...” Carroll said. “I'm anxious to see how he does with this preparation behind him. I think he's going to handle it very well."

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Posted on: October 12, 2011 12:02 am
 

Carroll: Whitehurst has improved since 2010

C. Whitehurst could start in place of T. Jackson while Jackson is injured (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

We know Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has a strained pectoral muscle, but we don’t know for sure what the ultimate solution is for his injury. It’s certainly possible that Jackson could be out of action for some time as he recovers, especially if he has to undergo surgery.

We also know that backup Charlie Whitehurst has been unimpressive during his pro career. But ask coach Pete Carroll what he knows about Whitehurst, and he’ll tell you that he believes Whitehurst is a better quarterback this season than last year.

“He’s more in control and ready to take over. … That’s an awesome factor for us to have,” Carroll told ESPN 790 in Seattle (via sportsradiointerviews.com). “I think he’s just growing into it with us. I think he came in last year with an incumbent guy and it was a different situation and I challenged the heck out of him. I couldn’t have thrown a better challenge at him. I said, ‘This guy’s coming in to take the job and in a few weeks from now you get to compete again when you can catch up.’ He didn’t want to hear that and just battled. He’s done all of that to position himself to play like a starter when he got his chance.”

Oh, OK. So, when Jackson returns, the two will battle for the starting job, yes? Ahem, no.

“I think the competition is on. We’ve got two good football players. But T-Jack’s done everything we’d asked him to do and he’s our quarterback, he’s our guy in every way,” Carroll said. “I love what he’s doing. I just wish he would’ve got down on that darn little keeper. … But no, he’s our quarterback.”

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Posted on: October 10, 2011 8:27 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 8:28 pm
 

Jackson has pectoral injury but no QB controversy

                                                                                             (AP)
Posted by Ryan Wilson

The Seahawks signed Tarvaris Jackson shortly after the lockout and head coach Pete Carroll has been one of his staunchest defenders in the weeks and months since. And after a slow start, the team and its QB have played better in recent games.

Jackson was 25 of 38 for 319 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs in a loss to the Falcons in Week 4, and Sunday against the Giants, Jackson completed 15 for 22 passes for 166 yards, including a touchdown and a pick, before he suffered a third-quarter chest injury. He didn't return and backup Charlie Whitehurst assumed the role of game manager perfectly as the Seahawks upset the Giants in the Meadowlands.

On Monday, Jackson was diagnosed with a strained pectoral muscle, though Carroll was uncertain how long the injury would keep his starter sidelined.

"He did rehab today," Carroll said, according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter John Boyle. "He felt better today than he did yesterday, but we're not going to know for a while (how long he will be out). We won't have him throw the ball for a little bit."

Whenever Jackson returns, it appears he'll keep his place atop the depth chart. Seattle Times' Danny O'Neil characterized Whitehurst's performance against the Giants nicely Sunday night.

"[He] was more than adequate, but something less than sensational. For anyone already convinced he would be an improvement over Jackson, the performance was validation that Seattle is starting the wrong quarterback. Whitehurst completed 11 of 19 passes for 149 yards and had no turnovers. But on a closer look, it appears Whitehurst wasn't quite as comfortable pushing the tempo as Jackson, and his touchdown throw didn't have a very high degree of difficulty. Baldwin was, after all, entirely uncovered on a play when defensive end Osi Umenyiora was offside."

Carroll, it seems, if of a similar mindset. “There's some talk about, 'Does that make a controversy?'" he said. "Well is it controversial if you have two quarterbacks who can play. I think it's great that we do.” As for his thoughts on Whitehurst's performance, Carroll added "I don't think Charlie did anything phenomenal [against the Giants]. I thought he did what he does."

And in the NFC West, Jackson and/or Whitehurst "doing what they do" could be enough.

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Posted on: October 10, 2011 1:25 am
Edited on: October 15, 2011 12:36 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 5

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 4 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.


1. The Billboards Worked!
When John Fox decided to bench incumbent starter Kyle Orton at half for would-be Denver football messiah Tim Tebow, it seemed like a pretty good excuse for Fox to let the fan-favorite quarterback struggle his way to a miserable second half, giving Fox has a totally justifiable excuse for refusing to answer any Tebow-related questions and instead just glaring at whoever asks them with a stern, judgmental look.

Then Tebow scored on a rushing touchdown that was a designed quarterback draw.

Then Tebow threw a screen pass to Knowshon Moreno, a ball so blessed by Tebow's hand that Moreno used its powers to break several tackles, cross the goalline and bring the Broncos inexplicably within two points.

So, um, we have a quarterback controversy, right? Rich Gannon and Marv Albert certainly think so.


Fox agrees, I think. Maybe. Possibly.

"I think Tim Tebow sparked the team today," Fox said. "We haven't had a chance to watch the tape. We haven't had time to watch the film. I think at this point we've got a bye week. We do need to improve offensively. And it will all be up for discussion."

Right. We definitely do. Although it's pretty arguable that Tebow, despite his shortcomings, should be starting for the Broncos. Kyle Orton will be a free agent after this year, and would still have trade value to a few teams (ahem, Miami).

Tebow, as Fox noted, managed to make the Broncos play harder, even if his own personal play was lacking. Yes, he ran for a touchdown. Yes, he threw for another. And, yes, he gave the Broncos a shot at winning a game in which they had no business having a shot to win. But he still finished 6 of 13 4 for 10 for 34 79 passing yards (28 came on the Moreno touchdown) and played so poorly up until four minutes left in the game that at least one dork fired up Photoshop and created fake, apologetic billboards.

(Ed. Note: Had Orton's stats in there. My bad. Note strikes. Still doesn't make Tebow's stats "good.")



Doh. And, yeah, I literally put this on Twitter 10 seconds before Tebow scampered in for his first touchdown.

Look, I'm prepared to take a ton of flak from Broncos fans in the comments for even begin to suggest that going to Tebow isn't the smart move. But from a perspective of "putting the best player under center" it isn't. Orton's still better. But the Broncos are bad and won't sniff the playoffs this season, so perhaps rolling the dice with Tebow now and at least seeing what he can is the play.

He apparently inspires the team, and that's great. But the reality is that he's a below-average quarterback with a limited skill set who just about helped his pretty awful team pull off a come-from-behind victory against a much better team at home.

And failed.

Yet, we're still talking about Tebow. And that's OK. But there's a whole lot of chatter about Tebow being "the guy" in Denver. And even though the statistics and the tape show that he wasn't all too productive -- though the statistics can't measure heart, not yet anyway! -- that chatter won't stop until Fox caves and names him the starter.

Which should make the next two weeks (the Broncos are on the bye) of speculation super-duper fun.

2. The Snooze Button Is Broken

Leading up to the Eagles's Week 5 matchup with the Bills, Michael Vick made sure the media knew that Philly no longer saw themselves as "the Dream Team." Unfortunately for him, we already knew that. It comes with the territory on a 1-3 start.

After a 31-24 loss in Buffalo, the Eagles are 1-4, and with all due respect to the very-much-for-real Bills, it's not even that hard to fathom. Sure, Andy Reid's team "won the offseason," but as their NFC East compatriots the Redskins know, that means nothing in the regular season.

"No. 1, there's nobody to blame but me," Reid said after the game. "That's how I look at it. I take full responsibility for it. It's my team."

And that's fine, because the Eagles are an incredibly sloppy team right now. If you need more proof than Vick's four interceptions -- he had six all of last year -- just look at the way each half ended. With the Eagles in the Bills territory, Vick took to long to throw the ball away and chunked the rock through the end zone as time expired. In Philly he might have gotten a second, but on the road, that clock's ticking, and the Eagles didn't got a shot at three points.

The worse crime came on a fourth and one with 1:23 to go and the Eagles down seven -- the Bills somehow managed to draw Juqua Parker offsides, grabbed a free first down and took knees to move their record to 4-1.

Buffalo is the real story, because it's absolutely improbable that they're a legit playoff contender. But the Eagles, clear-cut preseason favorites to win their division, are quite the nice juxtaposition to a Buffalo team that's well-coached, scraps for everything and plays sound football en route to winning games.

On the bright(ish) side, there have been seven teams since 1978 to make the playoffs after starting the season 1-4. So Philly's got that going for them.

3. Just Win, Baby

Since Al Davis died on Saturday morning, there were any number of very impressive, very emotional and very deserving tributes for one of the all-time great figures in NFL history.

But the best tribute of the weekend? Oakland figuring out how to just win in Houston, in what was clearly an emotional game for everyone on the Raiders payroll.

"I know he's looking down on this team," Raiders coach Hue Jackson said Sunday. "And he's with us every step of the way."

As Clark Judge noted Sunday, Oakland is indeed finding ways to "just win" and most of the season, they've looked better than their AFC-West counterparts the Chargers, despite sitting a game back in the standings of their division foes. They're still just 2-2 outside the division, but those two wins equal the number they had outside the AFC West in 2010.

If they can replicate their in-division success, 2011 could be a special year. And it probably won't hurt that Oakland has three-straight games at home starting in Week 6 -- you can bet that the Black Hole will be especially dark, which is exactly how Al Davis would have wanted it.

Real quickly, if anyone that's as "young" as I am (30; I'm using the term loosely) is confused by the heartfelt tributes to Al Davis over the weekend, take some time to read about his history in the AFL and NFL and watch some of the offerings the NFL Network is putting out there right now.

The stereotype that my generation takes from Davis is that he ran the Raiders into the ground with his obsession for speed and athleticism. This is because the Raiders last Super Bowl win was in 1983 and since they moved back to Oakland from Los Angeles in 1995, they've made the playoffs just three times.

Reality is that while some of those stereotypes do apply, Davis helped spark the rise of the NFL that we know today, he broke down serious barriers when it came to minority hiring in the NFL, and while he owned the team, the Raiders became the only franchise in NFL history to make a trip to the Super Bowl in four consecutive decades.

That's sustained success by any measure, and throughout it all, there really was only one constant: Al Davis.

4. Meanwhile, Across the Bay ...
The San Francisco 49ers are 4-1 after taking Tampa Bay to the woodshed 48-3 on Sunday afternoon in San Francisco.

Improbably, Alex Smith threw three touchdowns as San Fran's offense, with the help of a second-straight 125-yard rushing game from Frank Gore, carved up the Buccaneers defense. Vernon Davis found the end zone twice, and the 49ers used the all-around dominant performance to vault themselves to 4-1, as they maintained firm control over the NFC West.

What Jim Harbaugh is doing with San Francisco (and this is the second week in a row I've written this) is absolutely phenomenal, even if allowing a wide receiver to suffer a potentially serious ankle injury with four minutes left and up 41-3 deserves some flak.

Everyone felt confident believing that the Niners needed better coaching to really utilize their talent. That might be true.

But they're a miraculous comeback -- and just three points -- away from being undefeated, and it doesn't really matter who they've played against. Because, frankly, their schedule doesn't get that much tougher. Not counting NFC West games, San Francisco has games in Detroit, versus Cleveland, at Washington, versus the Giants, at Baltimore (Thanksgiving), and versus Pittsburgh.

No one's going to confuse them for the most dominant team in the NFL, even if their win Sunday looked that way, but even if they win the rest of their division matchups and lose the rest of their games (the latter's harder to fathom than the former, by the way) , they'd still end up with nine wins.

They're squarely in the driver's seat for a playoff game at home come January, Alex Smith's got the keys and everyone seems alright with this.

5. Paint it Blonde
I asked this like 12 times on Twitter Sunday, but no one could give me a good answer, so I'll ask again: How is that Reggie Wayne was the only person in the entire Colts organization that knew Curtis Painter was better than Kerry Collins?

Because Wayne knew -- he knew so much that he told us twice that Painter could compete. Unfortunately for Wayne, the newest Manning brother (Curtis!) actually prefers Pierre Garcon when it comes to touchdown passes ...


Don't get me wrong -- even Jeff George would have found Garcon on that play, so terrible was Brandon Flowers coverage. But it's pretty obvious at this point, even with Indy sitting at 0-5, that Painter gives them a better shot at winning than Collins, even if they're now 0-5 after a 28-24 loss to Kansas City.

So why did it take three games and a Collins concussion to figure that out? It's a great question and it probably involves someone(s) on the coaching staff or the front office not being as in-tune to the roster as Wayne is.

For Chiefs fans (read: my good friend and colleague who runs Eye on Basketball, Matt Moore): let's not get too frisky just yet. Your two wins are squeakers against teams that are a combined 1-9. But Todd Haley's seat is cooling at least.

6. Come on, It's All Ball Bearings These Days!
Actually, if you're the Vikings, it's simpler than anything Irwin M. Fletcher ever suggested: just give Adrian Peterson the ball.

Through four games -- all losses -- Peterson was "only" averaging 20.3 carries per game. This isn't to suggest Leslie Frazier should have run him into the ground as soon as he got the head coaching gig in Minny, but if you're leading by double digits at halftime, there's nothing wrong with a healthy dose of AP.

Frazier finally figured that out, and let Peterson loose against a suddenly hapless Cardinals team. Peterson ended the day with 29 carries for 122 rushing yards and three touchdowns; all the scores came in the first quarter, making AP just the fourth running back in the last 20 years to find the end zone three times in one quarter.

The obvious gameplan led to an obvious result: Frazier's first win as a (non-interim) head coach.

Now he's got a bigger problem to solve -- what to do with his quarterback situation. Donovan McNabb struggled again, completing just 10 of 21 passes for 169 yards against a Cardinals secondary that doesn't begin to qualify as "competent." The oft-maligned QB was pelted with "We want Ponder!" chants from the crowd at the Metrodome, and it's probably time for Frazier to perk his ears up and listen.

Could Ponder have produced the same stat line as McNabb? Absolutely. And he certainly could have handed the ball off 29 times, with the potential upside of actually letting Frazier find out if he's a legit franchise quarterback.

7. When the Circus Comes to Town
Victor Cruz of the Giants now holds the (unofficial) NFL record for ridiculous, luck-based catches. Unfortunately for the Giants, he canceled out his big-top performance against Seattle with two absolutely back-breaking turnovers that eventually cost New York the game.

His final statline? Eight catches, 161 receiving yards, a touchdown, a rush for three yards, a terrible fumble and a tipped pass with just over a minute left that the Seahawks Brandon Browner returned 94 yards for a game-clinching pick six.

The catches are nice and the acrobatic entertainment is fun to watch (see: below). But you absolutely can't miss a catch near the goalline that results in the ball being tipped up to a crowd of defenders and gets intercepted.

Eli Manning and Co. could have won even if they probably shouldn't have, given that they were pretty much outplayed from the get-go. Instead, the Redskins are all alone atop the NFC East, which is exactly what Rex Grossman predicted, the Seahawks finally won a game on the East Coast and it's perfectly acceptable to go running for your bomb shelter right now.

8. Clock Mismanagement
Speaking of circuses, whoever spiked the collective Kool-Aid of NFL coaches with Andy Reid's Jamba Juice probably won a lot of money in their pick-em league this week -- the final two minutes of the early games featured a series of incredible gaffes, many of them game-changing.

The Panthers, for instance, lost by three. You think calling a timeout with two seconds left as the Saints scrambled to set up for a field goal, which they eventually made after the pause in action, helped New Orleans? Yes it did. The Saints won by three.

We chronicled the Eagles mistakes -- in each half, no less! -- above. This is nothing new to an Andy Reid-coached football team. But it's still inexcusable.

The Raiders probably appreciate the Texans going incomplete-incomplete-sack with three timeouts to close out the first half, instead of utilizing their clock-killers to get good field position and a shot at some points. The Raiders didn't score, and Jacoby Jones probably deserves some fault, but you can't give the ball back to the other team that quickly.

The Vikings and Giants also behaved in a manner unbefitting of quality teams near the end of the first half, and both Mike McCarthy and Hue Jackson made poor decisions to go for a two-point conversion at an inexplicably early time.

Just sloppy decisions all around. On the bright side, maybe this Les-Miles-to-the-NFL thing could work out after all!



9. Best Team's Best Win?
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Packers march to the Super Bowl in 2010 was their resiliency amid tons of injury. Well, that and their ability to adapt when things weren't going their way. It's what great teams do, and it's what the Packers did once again on Sunday night, despite getting down early to a sharp-looking Falcons team and, most devastatingly their stalwart of a left tackle in Chad Clifton.

Bryan Bulaga was already out on the right side, but it didn't matter -- Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers adjusted their gameplan and spent the second half doing their best General Sherman impersonation, piling up a whopping 25 unanswered points on Atlanta's defense en route to a convincing 25-14 win that puts the Packers at 5-0 for the first time since 1965.

"We just stayed patient," Rodgers said afterwards. "It was a tough game -- I took a lot of shots. I had to move around a lot. [The offensive line] did a great job. The rhythm wasn't there all the time, but we just stayed with it, stayed patient and knew the big plays were going to come."

Rodgers threw for 296 of his 396 passing yards after the half and completed passes to a franchise-record 12 receivers. That's even more impressive considering that the Packers seriously stalled after Clifton went out, as the Falcons were actually able to get some pressure on Rodgers.

It was a brief period in neutral, though, as Rodgers -- who's established himself as the best quarterback in the NFL at this point, and I hope you're alright with that -- and the Packers got rolling and ended up winning in near-blowout fashion.

If they continue to adjust when adversity hits as they have this season (and last), Mike Freeman's note earlier this week about the Packers going undefeated doesn't seem remotely far-fetched.

And as long as No. 12 is under center, neither does another Super Bowl.

10. The Old Don't Bury 'Em Yet Game
High-quality teams that are struggling, like the Steelers, always bust out this old chestnut, randomly ripping into an opponent and reminding us that they're not dead yet.

So we come not to bury the Steelers, but to praise them, on the heels of a 38-17 beatdown of the Titans on Sunday that happened despite a weakened Steelers offensive line, an aging Steelers defense, a surging Titans offense and a busted-up Ben Roethlisberger.

"I told ya, I was just faking it," Roethlisberger said. "I'm a wimp."

Ben, obviously, is the complete opposite of a "wimp," mainly because pain either a) doesn't effect him or b) makes him better. Or something -- the dude was limping like crazy in pre-game warm-ups, and I felt pretty good about my Steelers pick.

Then all 350 pounds of Max Starks managed to rejuvenate the Pittsburgh offensive line who bullied an underrated Tennessee front four, giving Jonathan Dwyer his first career 100-yard rushing game, only allowed Roethlisberger to get sacked once, and protected like a unit capable of helping a team get to the Super Bowl.

Oh yeah, the defense was OK too -- LaMarr Woodley made it quite clear early on that Pittsburgh was going to have a statement game, recording an interception and 1.5 sacks, one of which was one of the most beasty sacks I've seen in a while -- Woodley fought off a blocker after briefly getting his hands on Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, and just forcing his way to the takedown.

Pittsburgh's still tied with the Bengals (right?), but they're both just a half-game back of the Ravens now, and in case you thought the Steelers would just limp off into the sunset, you were clearly wrong.

Worth 1,000 Words



Muffed Punts
Leftovers from Sunday's action ...
... What the hell was Matt Schaub thinking on the final play of Raiders-Texans??? Just a horrible pass.
... When Antonio Cromartie picked off Tom Brady to end the half in the Jets-Patriots tilt, it was the first red-zone interception that Tom Brady has thrown at home. Ever. In his career. Say what you want about cherry-picking stats, but that's absolutely insane.
... Comebacks continue: the Chiefs stormed back from 17 points down, making it the seventh time an NFL team has done so this season, the most in NFL history.
... Cam Newton became the first player in NFL history with more than five passing and five rushing touchdowns in the first five games of his career Sunday. Yes, they lost. Whatever.
... Speaking of that Panthers game, what it's gonna take for the NFL to let an official eject someone? Because what Roman Harper did -- needlessly cheap-shotting Steve Smith after Smith made it to the end zone Sunday -- was about as close as it came, and nearly sparked a brawl. Not to wussify the sport further but how about we make a statement before we get Auburn Palace 2.0.

Jim Irsay Pop-Culture Referencing Tweet That's Sure to Drive Colts Fans Insane of the Week
"Take a bottle,drink it down...pass it around"

This is what you want the owner of your football team saying shortly before Curtis Painter gets second career start to try and get your team the first win of the season. Obviously.

GIF O' THE WEEK

Courtesy of the fine mustachioed fellas at SB Nation, Victor Cruz' insane circus catch.



Hot Seat Tracker
  • Jack Del Rio: He called his team's performance "crappy" and no amount of blame-shifting by Maurice Jones-Drew is going to save his gig at this point. Bye-week tracking engaged.
  • Tony Sparano: He's making it through the bye week and, hey, might make it the whole season, if only so Stephen Ross can chase Jon Gruden.
  • Jim Caldwell: The Colts are frisky right now, but they're sure not winning. If they land Andrew Luck, won't they want someone that can groom him?
  • Andy Reid: Welcome aboard, sir! Although he could just throw Juan Castillo over the side to cool his seat.
  • Tom Coughlin: Premature? Probably. But I'm just trying to get ahead of the inevitable surge from angry New Yorkers.
  • Ken Wisenhunt: What happens when you trade a bunch of stuff for a quarterback and then spend $63 million on said quarterback but still stink? I'm just asking questions.
Chasing Andrew Luck
Colts (-400) -- It occurred to me today ... if Andrew Luck is really patient and wants to enjoy life and learn things and go about things the smart way, wouldn't he want to end up sitting behind Peyton Manning for two or three years? He'd be like Aaron Rodgers on play-calling steroids after that time frame.
Dolphins (-250) -- Presumably, Luck is part of Ross' package to Gruden.
Rams (+150) -- One would think they'd trade the pick for a lot of wide receivers.
Jaguars (+250) -- Another team with a franchise passer, huh?
Vikings (+300) -- Boy, it's a good thing they didn't rent McNabb for just one year ...
Broncos (+400) -- But, but ... Tebow!
Cardinals (+500) -- Wouldn't this be awkward? "Hey, Andy ... Do you do refunds?"
Panthers (+750) -- Also a very serious "trade the pick" candidate.
Eagles (+1000) -- Are their odds of getting Luck better than their odds of making the Super Bowl? So. Awkward.

MVP Watch
Last week, I pointed out that Aaron Rodgers easily eclipsed anyone else with his performance against the Broncos. (Stafford and Tom Brady got honorable mention and still do.) With stiffer competition on the road, Rodgers again stepped up in a big way. We're only five weeks into the season, so it's a touch silly to speculate on votes, but he'd win unanimously right now.
Posted on: September 17, 2011 4:25 pm
 

For the gambler in you, Week 2

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Each Saturday, we’ll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by bodog.com for the upcoming week and give our take. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important post you’ll read all week. Because if you can’t lose money while watching a game in which you have absolutely no effect, what’s the point of watching sports at all?

Will a quarterback throw for 500 or more yards from Week 2 on in the 2011 regular season?
   
Yes +400    

No -700    

Let’s see, who is Tom Brady (517 yards last week) and the Patriots playing this week? The Chargers? Hmm, ok. Who are the Chargers cornerbacks? Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason? Hmm. Um, no. Nobody is going to throw for more than 500 yards this week. Not Brady. Not anybody. What about for the rest of the season? Probably, but I'd still go with the longshot and say no.

Will Peyton Manning play in a game in the 2011 regular or postseason? 
     
Yes +250    

No -400

I just don’t see it, because by the time Manning is ready to return (maybe in late December at best?), there’s no chance that Indianapolis will be in the running for a playoff spot. So, there will be no point to play him. Therefore, Colts owner Jim Irsay will forbid Manning from playing. And it will be the right call.

How many times will Michael Vick be shown in a Falcons uniform during the live broadcast of the Eagles/Falcons game Week 2?
    
Over 1½ (-150)

Under 1½ (+110)

When you count all the video highlights they’ll show and the still photos, it’s got to be at least five times, right? Go with the over.

Who will be the next team to sign David Garrard? 
      
Indianapolis Colts 3/2       

Cincinnati Bengals 5/2       

Seattle Seahawks 5/1
      
Miami Dolphins 5/1 
     
San Francisco 49ers 6/1

Oakland Raiders 7/1

Pittsburgh Steelers 15/2  
  
New York Jets 10/1  
  
There were reports this week that Garrard was approached by several teams and that he’s waiting to make a decision to whichever squad will be the best fit. Looking at the above teams, the only squad I see as a real possibility is the Seahawks. For one, they’ve got Tarvaris Jackson as the starter. For two, they’ve got Charlie Whitehurst as a backup. For three, coach Pete Carroll certainly isn’t afraid of turning over his roster. All those factors make Garrard an obvious choice to go to Seattle.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: August 21, 2011 1:40 pm
 

Carroll supports Jackson as Seahawks starting QB

Posted by Ryan Wilson

This Rapid Report from Saturday night's Minnesota-Seattle game by our Seahawks correspondent, John Boyle, also serves as a microcosm for Tarvaris Jackson's career: "Jackson played the entire first half, but it was hard to get a read on the Seahawks’ new quarterback. He was under near-constant pressure, and also had a well-thrown ball turn into an interception because WR Golden Tate couldn’t make the catch."

Jackson has shown glimpses of what it takes to be an NFL quarterback, but his efforts are often overshadowed by poor timing and bad luck. Also not helping his cause: Backup Charlie Whitehurst outplayed him in the Seahawks' 20-7 loss to the Vikings.

By the time Jackson made his way to the bench he was 11 of 21 for 75 yards and an interception. Whitehurst, after playing well last week, ended his night 14 of 19 for 97 yards and a touchdown.

After the game, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll stood by Jackson, who he has already named the regular-season starter. “He was fighting for his life a little bit," Carroll said. "I thought he did some very good things, showed he could get out of trouble and save a play. I’m not in any way disappointed with what he did.”

Carroll added that “We need to help [Jackson], we need to protect him better.” And he reiterated that there is no quarterback controversy. “I’m not in that mindset at all,” said Carroll, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “I love that Charlie played well, and I think we need to give Tarvaris a chance to play well, too, with the guys around him. I felt like he was out there fighting for it and did a good job of competing.”

Clearly, not everyone is of that opinion, including former Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy, who took to Twitter early Sunday morning to voice his thoughts on the matter.


When asked about Milloy's tweets, Carroll said any response would be made to Milloy personally.

Whitehurst said: “[Milloy's] a good friend. He’s a heck of a player. Like I said, I’m just trying to do whatever I can. Whatever happens, hopefully it’ll be a successful year for the Seahawks.”

We've previously mentioned Whitehurst and where he fit into the Seahawks' long-term QB plans. In July there were rumors the team might be willing to part with a first- and third-round pick for Kevin Kolb.

But Seattle had acquired Whitehurst last offseason when they swapped 2010 second-round picks with San Diego, and threw in a third-rounder for good measure. They then signed him to a two-year, $8 million deal. Last month we wrote: "No one really knows what Whitehurst can do. He was uneven in two starts last season, but that doesn't means much. Along those lines, do we have any idea what type of starter Kolb will be?"

More germane to this conversation now that Kolb's in Arizona and Jackson's in Seattle: do we have any idea what type of starter Tarvaris will be? More to the point: is Tarvaris clearly an upgrade over Whitehurst?

It doesn't look like it through two preseason games. But for now, Jackson is Carroll's guy.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: August 8, 2011 10:03 am
Edited on: August 8, 2011 6:57 pm
 

Carroll: Tarvaris got 'jerked around' in Minny

Posted by Will Brinson

Tarvaris Jackson is Pete Carroll's new "guy" in Seattle.

As such, it's not surprising to hear him defend Jackson and the quarterback's struggles in Minnesota. But it is surprising to hear him basically rip the Vikings front office and coaching staff for their way of handling Jackson.

“He has not been in a good situation," Carroll told Yahoo! Sports' Mike Silver. "He’s been jerked around. We wanted to put him in a stable situation."

Boom. Roasted. But wait -- Carroll's comment wasn't even the spiciest one in Silver's article. Seahawks GM John Schneider kept things straight real when discussing Jackson's situation.

"He's 28 years old, and quite frankly was [expletive] on for four years," Schneider said.

Look, I'll give Schneider and Carroll credit for having a point here, because Jackson's been pushed back on the depth chart by a different crusty veteran nearly every single year since the Vikings drafted him in the first round. Brad Johnson, Gus Frerotte, and Brett Favre all started ahead of Jackson at one point, and obviously a situation involving Favre is going to play out like a yo-yo.

But having said all that, if Jackson was truly good enough to flourish and/or a clear-cut, starter-level quarterback at the NFL level, would the Vikings have been going out and chasing veteran quarterbacks in the first place? Or would they have simply allowed Jackson to walk after 2010 even though they were desperate enough for a quarterback that they a) reached for Christian Ponder in the first round and b) traded for Donovan McNabb?

It sure seems unlikely.

So it'll be quite interesting to see whether or not Carroll is more patient in Seattle if Jackson struggles to produce in the same offense that he was running in Minnesota. Seattle sure does appear to be a good situation for him, because he's got the same offensive coordinator (Darrell Bevell) and top offensive weapon (Sidney Rice).

And the Seahawks not only put their confidence firmly behind him, having named him the starter already, but they went out and got him a nice little bonus weapon in tight end Zach Miller.

So Jackson can succeed. Or he can struggle, again.

If it's the latter, however, we'll probably have to add Charlie Whitehurst's name to an already unassuming list of veterans who have hopped Jackson on the depth chart.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com