Tag:David Garrard
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: January 23, 2012 11:00 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 11:18 pm
 

Report: David Garrard will be 100% by April

There are plenty of quarterback-needy teams in the NFL and Garrard could help one of them. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Much has changed in Jacksonville since David Garrard was released days before the start of the 2011 regular season. First-round pick Blaine Gabbert eventually assumed the starting jobs (and struggled mightily in the process), head coach Jack Del Rio was fired midway through the season, owner Wayne Weaver sold the team to Shahid Khan, and Mike Mularkey was hired as in earlier this month to replace Del Rio.

But the Jaguars are no longer Garrard's problem. There was speculation that he might join the Dolphins after Chad Henne suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in October. It didn't happen, but not because Garrard "didn't feel like playing," but due to the fact that he needed surgery for a herniated disk in his back.

According to ESPNChicago's Michael Wright, Garrard should be healed up and ready to go in a few months.

mikecwright
David Garrard will be 100 percent healthy by end of March I'm told. Could be pretty good backup somewhere.
1/23/12 9:04 PM


It appears we have one more name to add to the list of available free-agent quarterbacks. The front-runners (in random order): Matt Flynn, Alex Smith, Jason Campbell, Kyle Orton, Drew Brees, Vince Young, Chad Henne, Byron Leftwich and Garrard.

We first brought up these names shortly after the Broncos' season ended in New England. Given how inconsistent Tim Tebow had been in 2011, we wondered if John Elway and John Fox would honor their word on Tebow's prospects as Denver's starter in 2012 (Turns out, they will -- we're still skeptical).

So where might Garrard end up next season? This is a quarterback-driven league and because there's a shortage of really good ones, they come at a premium. Which means that Garrard probably won't have trouble finding work although it may have have to be as a backup.

The Dolphins, under new head coach Joe Philbin, might prefer Flynn (Philbin was previously the Packers' offensive coordinator). And presumably, the Redskins and the Browns want to get younger at the position. Same with the Cardinals (obvious exception). Which brings us back to our previous point: there may not be a starting job waiting for Garrard when he returns but as Caleb Hanie, Tyler Palko and T.J. Yates quickly discovered, you're never far from taking the field.

For now, though, Garrard has to get healthy. Best-case scenario: he'll work out for teams after the draft and help somebody fill out their roster heading into training camp. After that, it'll be up to him.

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Posted on: January 15, 2012 11:11 am
Edited on: January 15, 2012 3:43 pm
 

Falcons hire Dirk Koetter as new OC

Dirk Koetter has been hired as Atlanta's offensive coordinator (US Presswire).By Josh Katzowitz

Falcons coach Mike Smith and former Jaguars offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter will be reunited as the Falcons announced the hiring of Koetter as their offensive coordinator on Sunday.

Koetter replaces Mike Mularkey, who was hired as Jacksonville’s head coach.

"I am very pleased to add Coach Koetter as our offensive coordinator," Smith said in a statement released by the team.  "Dirk is a veteran offensive coach who will bring years of NFL experience as an offensive coordinator as well as a fresh set of ideas to our offense. He is bright, he understands the intricacies of the vertical passing game, but he also wants to be able to run the football which is very important in the NFL.

"I look forward to working with Dirk and have tremendous confidence that he will be a great addition to our team and our coaching staff."

Koetter beat out an apparent interview list that included Brian Billick, Brian Schottenheimer and Packers quarterback coach Tom Clements in order to win the job from his old Jacksonville mate.

Koetter was hired as Jacksonville's offensive coordinator in 2007. He worked with Smith for one year. Smith was the Jaguars' defensive coordinator before he became Atlanta's head coach in 2008.

While Koetter’s offense didn’t impress this season -- even with the league’s leading rusher, Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville finished last in the league in yards gained and 28th in points scored -- the Jaguars have been better under Koetter in years past. Not great, mind you. But closer to league average as opposed to league worst.

At the very least, Koetter will get to work with a franchise quarterback for the first time as an offensive coordinator, after spending his previous years dealing with David Garrard from 2007-10 and the disappointing rookie Blaine Gabbert last year. Matt Ryan will be quite an upgrade from those two.

Koetter inherits an offense blessed with established starters such as quarterback Matt Ryan, running back Michael Turner, tight end Tony Gonzalez and receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones. With the exception of Jones, who was a breakout rookie in 2011, all those playmakers, plus fullback Ovie Mughelli, have been Pro Bowl selections.

But Atlanta fans shouldn’t expect a huge change in offensive philosophy. As NFL analyst Adam Caplan notes, Murlakey and Koetter run a similar style of offense.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 5, 2011 3:56 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 1:01 pm
 

Prorating Tim Tebow's statistics + Experts Chat

Is Tim Tebow really an MVP candidate? But, no, seriously, is he? Join us Wednesday at 1:00 pm ET to discuss it with our experts, and check out Tebow's prorated stats below.



Posted by Will Brinson

On our most recent podcast, my colleague Ryan Wilson attempted to convince me that the Tim Tebow haters had disappeared. And while even the most rabit anti-Tebites* have agreed he's doing something special, there are still plenty of people who won't believe.

Whatever, I addressed that in Sorting the Sunday Pile. Instead, I thought it might be kind of interesting to take Tebow's 2011 season, now approximately eight games long, prorate it across a full NFL season, and see where he stands.

A couple caveats apply first. One, when I started doing this, I had in mind that Tebow's season might line up with David Garrard's 2007 season, but Tebow's already out-rushed Garrard. And two, prorating stats is obviously not precise, because performances vary and no single player is going to produce the exact same statline over the course a second set of eight games that they produced over the first.

But still, Tebow's work -- 75 of 158 passing for 1,054 yards, 10 touchdowns, one interception and 468 rushing yards -- since taking over basically encompasses a half season. Double it and we get some theoretical production if he started. That would give Tebow more than 2,000 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and 900 rushing yards.

Those are decent -- and more importantly, odd -- numbers for a quarterback, so I figured I'd plug those landmarks into Pro-Football-Reference.com and see all the different quarterbacks that accomplished the feat. I was pretty surprised when this came back:

Player Year Cmp
Att Yds Cmp % TD INT RSH YDS
Randall Cunningham 1990 271
465 3,466 58.3 %
30 13 942
Michael Vick
2006 204
388 2,474 52.6 %
20 13 1,039
Tim Tebow
2011+ 150
316 2,108 47.5 %
20 2 932

Worth noting: Vick went 7-9 with the Falcons that year, while Cunningham went 10-6 with the Eagles. Both guys started all 16 games -- Tebow only has seven starts across his current statistical season. (Oh, and as Wilson points out, Cunningham is now an ordained minister. Coincidence? I think not.)

Tebow's theoretical season, it turns out, puts him in some pretty stout company when it comes to mobile quarterbacks. Obviously he's not on pace to throw up some sort of "Tom Brady 2007" season, and his completion percentage clearly needs work. And maybe if he's improving it, his rushing yards will decline.

The lesson isn't that he's as good as Randall Cunningham or even Michael Vick circa 2006. The lesson is just that Tebow's compiling stats and playing quarterback in a manner that's effective enough to put him in the same category as some talented quarterbacks if he was so do it over the course of a full season.

+ Prorated
*H/T: Kramer, natch

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Posted on: November 21, 2011 2:33 pm
 

Del Rio 'can't speak' to O-coordinator's thinking

Del RioPosted by Josh Katzowitz

While Tony Sparano seems to have cooled down his hot seat just a bit -- a three-game Dolphins winning streak certainly has helped his cause -- Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio isn’t doing himself any favors.

After cutting David Garrard in the preseason and giving the starting quarterback spot to rookie Blaine Gabbert -- who, statistically speaking, is one of the worst quarterbacks in the league -- the Jaguars are 3-7 after their 14-10 loss to the Browns on Sunday.

When asked why Maurice Jones-Drew didn’t get the ball on the final play of the game from the Browns 2-yard line, Del Rio deflected the blame to offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.

“Our offensive coordinator calls the plays,” Del Rio said, via the Florida Times-Union. “I can’t speak to his thinking. You’ll have to get with him.”

“We certainly talked about those things through the course of the drive. We got down and took our crack. You can make a case for doing that. You can guess any number of plays when you don’t connect. [It’s] a missed opportunity.”

The final minute of the game was a disaster for the Jaguars. After reaching the 5-yard line on a third and one with 45 seconds to play in the game, Jones-Drew gained three yards for the first down. The Jaguars didn’t call timeout there and let 28 seconds run off the clock (that also must have been Koetter’s fault), and after Jones-Drew failed to reach end zone on first and goal, they stopped the clock with 8 seconds left.

Gabbert missed on a fade pass for Jason Hill, and with three seconds to play, Gabbert never looked at Jones-Drew, who was open in the flat, and threw behind Mike Thomas for the incompletion. Game over.

Koetter, you may defend yourself.

“Three of the four plays were our two-point plays -- two passes and one run, so in those last four plays, we gave it to Maurice twice and we had one play action and we had a little option play to Mike Thomas,” he said. “I like all four of those plays.”

That’s fine, but for Del Rio to claim he had nothing to do with the play-call is absurd. Sure, Koetter probably was the one to call the play, but unless Del Rio wasn’t wearing his headset, he knew what had been called. He could have intervened -- he is, after all, still the head coach -- and vetoed the decision. But he didn’t. Instead he let Koetter take the fall.

“We are on the 2-yard line and I have to find a way for us to score,’’ Gabbert said. “That’s on me. I have to learn from that and get better.’’

Now, if only Del Rio could learn from Gabbert in how to share in the blame.

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Posted on: October 19, 2011 6:26 pm
 

Garrard's agent says Jags knew about back issues

D. Garrard says he's had back problems since college (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

While we were all waiting for David Garrard to make his triumphant return to the NFL and take over some poor team’s offense and make it somewhat mediocre, it turns out that there wasn’t really a chance he was ever going to play this season.

That became clear Monday when Garrard said he would undergo surgery on the herniated disk in his back.

And while that news seemed to come out of nowhere, Garrard’s agent said the Jaguars knew all along about his back problems, and that’s why the team surprisingly released him in training camp in the first place.

That’s what Al Irby told the Florida Times Union, e-mailing the following: "At $500,000 per game, they knew he would be down 4-6 weeks. They didn't want to pay that bill. Now you know the difference between a first-class organization like Indy, and a sorry organization like the Jags. Indy gave their QB a contract even though he couldn't play all season. ... David was told his back was fine. So he took them for their word.

"Now he has to go to surgery, and Jacksonville is saying, 'Not my problem.' What a first class organization!"

Obviously, Irby is talking about Peyton Manning, and though it’s a topic for another post, the Colts obviously should wait for Manning, one of the best quarterbacks in history, as opposed to Garrard -- who, well, is not quite as good.

Garrard told the paper he’s had back problems since college, but he also dealt with hamstring issues, which he didn’t think was related to his back. Then, during training camp, he suffered a bulging disk in practice and he had to sit out the first preseason game.

"I rehabbed myself until my back was well enough that I could start playing again," Garrard said. "When I was telling everybody my back was fine, my back did feel fine. But my leg never felt fine. I never really considered that my leg was connected to the disk in my back. I just thought I had tight hips and I needed to stretch and keep that under control. Well, it was definitely all because of my disk in my back."

The pain got so bad a couple weeks ago that he went to the emergency room. While Garrard, in his interview, didn’t rip his old team, he also said he still plans to return to football. He’ll be out four to six weeks while recovering from surgery.

"I am definitely not retiring,” he told the paper. “I definitely want to be on a squad.”

But the way his agent torched the Jaguars, there’s a pretty good chance it won’t be in Jacksonville.

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Posted on: October 17, 2011 5:13 pm
 

With Garrard out, Orton could be option in OAK

GarrardPosted by Josh Katzowitz

The options for the Raiders to solidify their quarterback position in the wake of losing Jason Campbell for the season with a broken collarbone is dwindling, but the Denver Post is reporting that another might have appeared quite quickly if the Broncos decide to trade Kyle Orton to Oakland.

It seems quite clear that Bengals owner Mike Brown is refusing to trade his former star Carson Palmer, and now, Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer has the report that David Garrard -- who’s just been kind of hanging around after the Jaguars surprisingly cut him in the preseason -- needs immediate surgery on a herniated disk in his back.

But the Denver Post, via the Contra Costa Times, is reporting that an unnamed source has said the Broncos would be willing to trade Orton to the Raiders for a draft pick. Which makes sense if Denver is willing to go all-in with Tim Tebow (and at this point, why not?).

The news on Garrard is somewhat surprising, since we all kind of figured Garrard was just sitting back and waiting for the exact right offer to come to him.

Garrard supposedly could have gone to Miami after Chad Henne suffered a season-ending injury, but instead he declined, because as a Miami Herald source pointed out, “he simply didn't feel like playing right now. Garrard apparently talked to the team and showed no great desire to play. He is, according to this version of the story, quite content sitting out this season, spending time with his family, and hitting free agency next March.”

So, what now? Well, if Oakland could get Orton for a relatively cheap price, it probably should go for it. Even if it means the Raiders basically would be sitting out the 2012 draft.

But in order not to play Kyle Boller or Terrelle Pryor – or, for that matter, punter Shane Lechler – that might be worth it.

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Posted on: October 17, 2011 3:07 am
Edited on: October 17, 2011 1:34 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 6

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

1. What's Your Deal?
By now, you've undoubtedly seen the little melee that erupted between Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz following San Francisco's 25-19 victory in Detroit.

NFL VP of Communications Greg Aiello confirmed to CBS Sports following the game that the NFL will look into the near-fight that went down, and I'd be pretty shocked if both coaches didn't get hit with some kind of fine. Though Harbaugh didn't do much that was noticeable on the video, he did admit following the game that he probably incited Schwartz' anger.

Schwartz, of course, chased Harbaugh down the field and had to be repeatedly pushed back from the crowd. No matter what Harbaugh did, it's hard to fathom that Schwartz behavior is remotely acceptable in the eyes of the league. And though Schwartz might have looked like the aggressor, the blame has to lie with Harbaugh on this one.

Looking ahead, this might not be a rivalry that dies quickly. Niners offensive lineman Anthony Davis, on his newly verified Twitter account, had a little trash talk of his own after the game.

"They talked s*** to us all week," Davis tweeted following the game. "We said nothin ... Came and kicked that a** ... its f***** football f*** classy.. Save classy for Mortons lol"

Steakhouse humor aside, it's worth mentioning Cliff Avril of the Lions saw Davis' tweet and pointed out that it was "real professional" -- Davis responded by pointing out that he "pancacked [Avril] on a passing play ... sooo uh just be quiet go home play with your kids."

So this shouldn't evolve into anything unpleasant in the near future at all!

What's fascinating about this whole thing is how people are defending both sides. Some folks think that Schwartz is an unhinged lunatic. Some think Harbaugh is an arrogant jerk. (Our own Mike Freeman noted on Twitter that Harbaugh's not making himself any friends around the league with his attitude.)

For me, it's hard to blame Schwartz for his reaction, given the way that Harbaugh behaved following San Francisco's victory:



Whatever, here's hoping they meet again in the playoffs. In the meantime, my top-five list for coaches I would pick for a steel-cage death match:

1. Jack Del Rio
2. Ron Rivera
3. Mike Tomlin
4. Jim Schwartz
5. Raheem Morris

Leave your picks in the comments.

2. Speaking of Coaches ...
You'll notice Sean Payton didn't make my top five. And he might not have even if he was healthy, but he certainly wouldn't be up there after the incident that took place on Sunday, when tight end Jimmy Graham came crashing into the sideline and blew up Payton's knee.

The Saints coach suffered a broken tibia and tore his the MCL in his left knee, which means he'll be knocked out of shape for quite a while.

"It's just one of those things, the play kind of got up on me quicker," Payton said Sunday. "I think the second part of the tackle seemed maybe all of a sudden. I mean, every once in a while you feel like you get pinned with the play and that's what happened."

Of course, Payton wasn't the only coach who was injured on Sunday in this game (think about that; seriously) -- Jimmy Lake, the Bucs defensive backs coach, tore his patellar tendon celebrating an interception celebrating, as Ryan says in the podcast above, Martin Gramatica style.

What I'm wondering is if Payton's injury might derail the Saints offense a little bit. Maybe that's a stretch, and he'll certainly have his hands all over the team's playcalling and management, but it doesn't sound like he'll be down on the field for a few weeks.

"I might have to be up in the press box for a few games," Payton said. "Because it’s a fracture, its different. If it’s the MCL you can have the brace, but the fracture on the outside means the weight-bearing part of it really changes."

Maybe it won't have any bearing -- with the Saints playing the Colts and Rams in the next two weeks, Drew Brees can probably manage the offense all by himself.

2. A Boy Named John
With Washington getting two weeks to prepare for the Eagles, and Philly looking very much like a punch-drunk boxer practically begging for a knockout shot, it stood to reason that the Redskins could take advantage of the Eagles porous defense and pick up a critical division win.

They didn't, and that's mainly because Rex Grossman turned into, well, Rex Grossman.

The 'Skins quarterback threw four interceptions -- three to Kurt Coleman -- and registered a couple of terrible interceptions that should have been picks. This led to him getting benched for backup John Beck.

“Well number one—we needed a spark," Mike Shanahan said afterwards. "John has been practicing very well the past couple of weeks and with four turnovers there we thought it was time to make a change and give John an opportunity to show us what he could do."

(Ed. Note: Week 6 review will be up early Monday.)

Beck, who's so fancy/awesome he dressed like a gas-station attendant for his post-game presser, isn't locked into the starting role yet, though, as Shanny refused to name next week's starter immediately following the game.

"I would never announce that right after a game," Shanahan said of his decision on who he'll start. "I would announce that later on in the week. We'll make a decision after looking at the film."

That's all fine and well, but who didn't see this coming? Because if the Redskins leading the NFC East after five weeks was the least likely thing in the entire world, then Grossman eventually imploding was on the opposite scale of predictability. And now this is quickly shaping up to be the second rendition of the Donovan McNabb-Grossman fiasco from last year.

On the bright side, it's less expensive?

"I want to play," Beck said, via Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post. "I want to be the quarterback. But I’m not the one that makes that decision, it’s coach, and they’ll make the best decision for the team ... What’s gonna happen next, I don’t know. But I’ll just do everything I can to be prepared if my number is called."

If it's me, I roll the dice with Beck, who seemed to at least provide a little spark to the team when he came on the field. It's not like he's been good this year, the Redskins defense has just kept Washington in games. And Grossman's now thrown three or more interceptions in seven of his 45 career starts. Which means 15 percent of the time that you put Grossman under center, there's a 15-percent chance he's going to hand the ball to the opposing defense multiple times.

3. Maybe Romo's Not the Only Choker?
For what feels like the fourth or fifth week this season, it's time to question Jason Garrett's playcalling for Dallas. With the game tied at 13 all and the Cowboys in the red zone, Garrett called a third-down shovel pass despite Dez Bryant sitting in single coverage.

The result was predictably predictable: the shovel pass didn't work and the Cowboys kicked a field goal to go up 16-13. Then, after forcing the Patriots to punt, Dallas ran three straight times (for negative-five yards) and the result was even more predictable: Dallas punted back to Tom Brady, giving him the ball down three points with 2:31 left on the clock.

If you've followed football at all for the last few years, you've probably already figured out what happened. Tom Brady did what Tom Brady does, which is carve up a defense en route to just another routine comeback/last-minute win.

By the time he hit Aaron Hernandez in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown, Dallas had just 22 seconds remaining on the clock to move the ball far enough down the field to get a shot at a Hail Mary, which Tony Romo threw out of bounds.

On that last drive, by the way, Romo completed two passes for 31 yards. Throw those passes on the previous series and we're talking about a signature win for the Cowboys, against the best team in the other conference at their place.

Instead, we're left to wonder why Garrett continually plays, as my colleague Pete Prisco wrote, not to lose, instead of utilizing the weapons he has on offense in the proper way. And by "we" I mean "me and Jerry Jones."

"You'll always second-guess whether or not we should have tried to run a little offense down there instead of running it three times," Jones said after the game, per our Pats Rapid Reporter Greg Bedard. "We went conservative rather than try to get some points and it bit us."

Jones said that doing so in a regular-season game was acceptable, but it's not the type of thing that he'd like to see in the playoffs. Of course, it's hard to imagine the Cowboys making the playoffs if they can't figure out how to turn trips to the red zone into more than three points a pop.

4. Bollers and Pryors OH MY
Many a pundit's willing to point out that the Oakland Raiders, while a half-game back of the Chargers, are the best AFC West team through the first six weeks of the season.

This isn't that far off. The Raiders are pretty good. But despite winning 24-17 over Cleveland on Sunday, Oakland suffered a seriously detrimental injury on Sunday, as quarterback Jason Campbell broke his collarbone and will likely miss the remainder of the season.

“I’m not going to let this football team blink," coach Hue Jackson said Sunday. "We’ll miss Jason for a little while. I have no idea how long it will take [for him to recover]. We’ll see as we go. I know obviously he won’t be here next week. We’ll continue to press forward and get better."

That's the optimistic point of view. The pessimistic? Kyle Boller, Terrelle Pryor and Shane Lechler are now the top-three quarterbacks on Oakland's depth chart. Yikes.

So Oakland has a couple of options going forward. One, roll with Boller. (Again, yikes.) Two, let Darren McFadden carry the ball 50 times a game. (Not terrible, but it could cause some long-term issues in terms of his health.) Three, go out and get another quarterback.

A couple of names spring to mind immediately: Kyle Orton, Donovan McNabb, David Garrard and Carson Palmer. Garrard makes sense because he's openly said he wants to play for a contender and the Raiders, at 4-2, certainly fit the bill.

Orton, McNabb and Palmer seem like longer shots as trade possibilities, but the Raiders have about 36 hours to make a deal, and it's reasonable that the Broncos, Vikings and Bengals would be interested in getting something back for guys that are either going to ride pine the rest of the year or won't bother showing up.

5. Don't Forget the Defense



In this, the year of ridiculously silly offensive outputs in the NFL, it's easy to just gawk at high-powered offensive teams and assume they will end up winning the most games and doing the most damage in the postseason.

But we need to recognize the Ravens for the dirty work they're doing on the defensive side of the ball, suppressed their league-leading points-allowed total to 71 Sunday after casually shut down Houston in a 29-14 victory. Baltimore held 2010 rushing champ Arian Foster to just 49 yards on 15 carries, and limited Matt Schaub to 220 yards and a touchdown in a dominant defensive performance that should make some people take notice.

Ryan and I debated this audio-style, but I think there's a legitimate argument that the Ravens are the best team in the AFC and can contend for the best team in the NFL. Clearly -- quite clearly -- the Packers are the cream of the crop at the moment.

But anyone in the NFL can score these days. Few teams can stop the opposition from scoring. With Haloti Ngata serving as the lynchpin for the defensive line and wrecking havoc on opponents' offensive lines, and with a secondary that's surprising this year, and with Ray Lewis playing rejuvenated ball, the Ravens can do that.

They're lacking in offensive consistency more so than a lot of other teams around the league -- Joe Flacco alternating between awesome and terrible this season is pretty terrifying if you're a Baltimore fan -- but Ray Rice is so good right now that he can carry the Ravens when Flacco's struggling.

And if Rice isn't up for the task, the defense isn't afraid to take over either. Which separates the Ravens from most everyone else in the league.

6. Madden Up to His Old Curses Again
What the hell is going on in Cleveland? Because, one, the Browns aren't winning, so that's a problem. And two, Peyton Hillis has some serious drama surrounding him these days.

We've detailed the drama before (numerous times, actually), but Sunday took things to a whole new level. For starters, Hillis rushed just six times for 14 yards and then left with a hamstring injury, pulling up lame after taking a second-quarter screen pass from Colt McCoy only to have it negated by an illegal shift penalty.

After halftime, Hillis returned and appeared to be out for the game. This is fine, if it's because of injury. Except Hillis returned to the game ... and didn't get any carries. He blocked for McCoy and was on the field, but didn't rush the ball at all.

The Browns weren't exactly ground heavy during the game -- Montario Hardesty only had 11 carries for a meager 35 yards -- and McCoy ended up throwing 45 times (his lowest passing-attempt total on the year is now 32, which is also a bit disconcerting), but to see Hillis hurt but maybe not hurt enough to sit out the rest of the game especially after a controversial injury earlier in the year, well, let's just say that something ain't stirring the Kool-Aid in Cleveland.

7. Ponder This
Sunday night, Christian Ponder got his first real action for the Vikings in their 39-10 blowout loss Sunday night. I mentioned this when writing about the substitution, but you can't pin everything that's going wrong on Donovan McNabb.

He's not the guy refusing to block defenders, and he's not the guy allowing other teams to score 20-plus points in the second halves of games. But it's understandable that some of the players on the team might be a little interested in seeing what Ponder, who at least looked more, um, energetic than McNabb, can do.

"I'm not a coach, but this team definitely could use a spark wherever that may come from," wide receiver Percy Harvin said.

Again, McNabb hasn't been that bad. But the Vikes are 1-5, going nowhere in (arguably) the toughest division in football and need to find out if Ponder's their guy for the long term.

Because at this rate, they'll have another pretty critical decision about some talented young quarterbacks at the top of the 2012 draft as well.

For the Bears part, lets give credit to Mike Martz and Lovie Smith for learning that if you actually give Jay Cutler help to block pass rushers, you can produce offensively.

Except they learned this last year, too. Remember how the Bears stunk and Cutler looked like a candidate for serious brain damage through the first few weeks in 2010? And then the Bears started running the ball more and protecting Cutler? Yeah, maybe next year they'll remember before they're a quarter of the season in.



8. Down South in ... Tampa Bay?
The Saints were supposed to blow out the LeGarrette Blount-less Buccaneers this weekend and the Panthers were supposed to upset the Falcons in the Georgia Dome. And then I was going to spend a large chunk of this column talking about the Panthers secretly being the second-best team in the NFC South.

Well, apparently no one else in the entire world got the same memo I did (thanks a lot for not forwarding the revised copy, you big jerks), because the Panthers got handily dismantled 31-17 in Atlanta and the Bucs straight up took care of business in route to grabbing the division lead with a 26-20 win over New Orleans.

If you missed it, lemme fill you on why the Panthers lost: their defense is terrible. It's not bad coaching and it's not to mean to the guys in the lineup, but the best way for Tiki Barber to revive his career would be to just try and get a tryout with whoever's playing the Panthers in the coming week, because there's a decent chance he could scamper for a buck fifty against that fishnet of a rushing defense.

They'll get better in the future and there's no reason to question Ron Rivera's capability as a defensive coach, but if you can run the ball, you can kill the Panthers. After Cam Newton threw a terrible pick to defensive lineman Corey Peters, the Falcons got the ball up a touchdown with six minutes left to play. Eight plays later -- seven of them running -- they were up 14 points.

Everyone knew they were going to run and there still wasn't any way for Carolina to stop it. New Orleans is a different deal, though, because Blount's absence meant the Bucs would struggle (in their wins thus far, he'd done well, and in their losses he hadn't; it's science!). Instead, Earnest Graham piled up 109 rushing yards on 17 carries, Josh Freeman got loose with Arrelious Benn and the Saints found themselves in a 20-10 halftime hole that they couldn't ever climb out of.

In short, a motivated Tampa Bay team showed up, created turnovers and completely flipped our perspective on the NFC South.

9. Bungle in the Jungle
The Ravens, as noted above, are the class of the AFC North. And the Steelers are coming off a second-straight win in which their defense prevailed and Rashard Mendenhall and the running game looked good.

But it would be silly to discount what the Bengals have done this year, moving to 4-2 after a 27-17 win over Indy, especially considering most of the offensive production is coming from a pair of rookies in Andy Dalton and A.J. Green.

Dalton's not lighting up the statistical sheet, per se, as he's averaging just 218.5 passing yards per game, and he's only found the end zone seven times. But four of those have been to fellow rook Green, and -- I'm as surprised to be writing this as you are reading it -- Marvin Lewis was write about his offense getting an upgrade during the offseason.

And the Bengals are benefiting from a soft schedule; they could realistically be undefeated, considering that their two losses were by a combined seven points. Of course, it doesn't hurt that they have the second-best defense in the league, allowing just 278.5 yards per game. That defense has

The schedule gets harder down the road -- multiple matchups with both Baltimore and Pittsburgh loom -- but there are four more games left where the Bengals will either be favored or basically a pick 'em. The idea that this team could win eight games as recently as September was, well, not there. The four they have now is probably what they'd have topped out in most preseason projections.

And now they're a reasonable contender for a Wild-Card berth if a few things go their way in the rest of their division matchups.

10. Things to Do In Denver on Your Bye
It's fascinating to me that a team like the Broncos could, somehow, manage to create a ton of noise about their team. On their bye week. Without really talking about Tim Tebow.

I mean, there was some Tebow talk this week, of course, but it wasn't out of control. Charley Casserly reported that the Broncos won't change their offense much for Tebow, and that's probably a good thing and/or not that surprising, since this is a John Fox offense.

Most of the noise centered around Denver's decision to start trying to ship every single talented veteran on the roster out of town. Brandon Lloyd wants gone, and it seems like he could be moved before Monday's practice (the team apparently doesn't think he can be on the same field as the coaching staff). Eddie Royal's on the block too and he's generating some interest; this makes sense since both player are rentals for the rest of the year.

Kyle Orton's situation is a little more interesting. He'll also be a free agent after this year, and one would think that he'd LOVE to get out of town since a) the coaches yanked him in Week 5 for Tebow despite acting like Tebow's worse than Brady Quinn, b) he'll be a free agent in the offseason and c) he's more reviled by the fans around Mile High than Carmelo Anthony during his "trade me to New York or else" run last year.

But the Broncos issued a statement on Sunday night denying rumors that Orton wanted a trade, so apparently he's content hanging around and playing -- ahem -- nursemaid to Tebow. Or he thinks the experiment will fail miserably and he'll be starting in a couple weeks anyway.

Regardless, Denver, you're 1-4. Spend the bye week getting better, not drawing attention to yourselves when you're not playing please.

Muffed Punts
Leftovers from Sunday's action ...
... Shane Lechler's first career pass attempt also produced his first career touchdown pass, when the Raiders faked a field goal in the third quarter against the Browns. Oddly enough, Lechler was the emergency quarterback, set to replace Kyle Boller who replaced the injured Jason Campbell.
... No one will talk about it because they won and because of Handshake Gate, but Jim Harbaugh threw a challenge flag on a scoring play. Huge gaffe, since those are all automatically reviewed. It cost him an unsportsmanlike conduct delay of game penalty.
... Drew Brees became the first quarterback in NFL history to post four-straight games of 350 or more yards passing.
... Packers are now just the seventh defending Super Bowl champ to start the next season 6-0.

Worth 1,000 Words


 
Jim Irsay Pop-Culture Referencing Tweet That's Sure to Drive Colts Fans Insane of the Week
"Little red light on the highway...big green light on the speedway...hey,hey,hey"

This one might seem meaningless ... unless you happen to be a Grateful Dead fan and recognize the lyrics to "West L.A. Fadeaway." In which case you, like me, are clearly one of the first people to realize that Irsay's moving the Colts to Los Angeles. Who didn't see that coming?

GIF O' THE WEEK

Big ups to @Jose3030 for pulling this clip of LeSean McCoy pulling an aggressive version of the Pillsbury doughboy poke on Eagles coach Andy Reid. There's so much that's perfect about it, from Reid's stomach jiggling to Reid's head snapping back to Reid being totally unprepared for the punch, to McCoy later tweeting an apology for doing it.



Hot Seat Tracker
  • Jack Del Rio -- He wasn't supposed to beat the Steelers, in Pittsburgh. And he didn't. But the Jaguars showed some life. Still hard to imagine he survives this season though.
  • Jim Caldwell -- In the words of the Talking Heads, stiiiiiiiiiiiiillllll waiiiiiiting ...
  • Tony Sparano -- He only lasts through 2012 if Steve Ross is waiting out Jon Gruden.
  • Steve Spagnuolo -- Another guy who wasn't supposed to win Sunday, and he's been ravaged by injuries. But man, how did we all think they'd win the division?
  • Jason Garrett -- Perhaps a bit early, but Jerry Jones is questioning his playcalling. That's never good.
  • Leslie Frazier -- He needs to go to Ponder now to keep his seat cool.
  • Ken Wisenhunt -- He's got the Cards practicing on their off day during their bye week. Might be feeling some pressure.
Chasing Andrew Luck
You'll notice a shifting of the odds this week -- we're no longer accepting wagers that return any money to you. Mainly because there are just too many crappy teams in the NFL right now.

Colts (-500): The Jaguars and Panthers sandwich their Week 11 bye, and besides a Week 17 date at Jacksonville, well, those are the only games that even remotely look winnable right now.
Dolphins (-350): Their schedule is also quite bleak. At least their fans are happy?
Rams (-250): Al Harris is one of their starting cornerbacks. This is not 2001.
Broncos (-225): They're doing everything in their power to deal away anyone with any talent. And this is different than the Josh McDaniels era how?
Vikings (-125): Minny still has Adrian Peterson? Guh that Bears game was depressing.

MVP Watch
Pretty clearly, there's only one choice: Aaron Rodgers. Guy's doing everything he did down the stretch in 2010 but now it's being spread out over the course of a regular season. If he keeps this up, the Packers will have as many losses as there are people who don't pencil his name in for the top MVP vote.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com