Tag:Dennis Dixon
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


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: November 15, 2011 1:55 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 5:47 am

Roethlisberger has broken thumb, will still play

A broken bone won't keep Big Ben out of the lineup. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It's part of the deal: the Steelers let Ben Roethlisberger play his game -- which consists of holding the ball for an eternity, breaking tackles in the backfield, buying time with his feet and finding receivers open downfield -- with the understanding that he'll take a beating and suffer the occasional injury. It's unconventional, but it also works. (As Warren Sapp pointed out last week, when you're facing Ben, it's not the first three seconds of the play that hurt you, it's the last three.) In Roethlisberger's first seven years in the league, Pittsburgh made three Super Bowl appearances, winning twice.

On Tuesday, Big Ben told the media that he broke the thumb on his throwing hand during Sunday's game against the Bengals. He also said that he'll play against the Chiefs in two weeks, when the Steelers return from their bye.

"It will be painful but it takes a lot to keep me out," said Roethlisberger (via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review), who is wearing a velcro wrap to protect the thumb. "We'll concoct a splint. I'll have a glove on for the rest of the year."

Roethlisberger was sacked five times in Cincinnati, but played well, completing 21 of 33 passes for 245 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

At various points last season, Big Ben battled a foot injury and a broken nose. Since coming into the league in 2004, he's also dealt with concussions, knee surgeries, previous thumb and foot injuries, not to mention nearly dying during a 2006 motorcycle accident. (You can view the exhaustive list of nicks, bumps, bruises and breaks here.)

Coincidentally, when the Steelers face the Chiefs in Week 11, Kansas City will be without their starter, Matt Cassel, who suffered a hand injury during Sunday's loss to the Broncos.

If it turns out that Roethlisberger can't play, Charlie Batch will get the nod with Dennis Dixon backing him up. The duo led the Steelers to a 3-1 record to begin the 2010 season, while Big Ben served a four-game suspension following a sexual-assault accusation.

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Posted on: August 28, 2011 11:19 am
Edited on: August 28, 2011 11:28 am

Leftwich out for year, Pouncey good for Week 1?

Posted by Will Brinson

The Pittsburgh Steelers, despite rolling past Atlanta 34-16 on Saturday, suffered some pretty big injuries in their third preseason game. Byron Leftwich, Pittsburgh's backup quarterback, suffered a broken arm against the Falcons and more importantly, Maurkice Pouncey, the team's starting center, injured his left ankle against Atlanta.

Pouncey's injury is obviously more of an immediate concern because he's, you know, starting. But the good news is that it's just a sprained ankle, even if it's the same injury he dealt with at the Super Bowl last year.

"Yes," Tomlin said about it being the same, much-talked-about injury from 2010. "Sometimes you break up scar tissue on an existing injury. It’s very painful with a lot of discomfort, but nothing long term."

Pouncey's reportedly good to go for Week 1 and given that he's got nearly two weeks until the September 11 opener, that doesn't really seem like a stretch. But for anyone who forgot all the attention that Pouncey's ankle got for two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, you may get a quick reminder if this injury keeps cropping up throughout the season.

Not so much for Leftwich -- he's likely only to be the focal point for a few days, given that he's likely going to miss the entire season with the broken arm suffered Saturday night.

"We've gone through this several times over the last few years," said Mike Tomlin about Leftwich's injury. “It’s going to be a factor here moving forward."

Moving forward will heavily involve Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon should the nightmare scenario of Ben Roethlisberger suffering an injury occur. You'll recall that Dixon previously requested a trade and then rescinded such a request.

The two backups were scheduled to fight it out for the third-string quarterback gig, but now both should be locked onto the roster.

Of course, last season with Roethlsberger suspended and Leftwich hurt, Batch stepped right in and helped keep the Steelers afloat til Ben returned.

But that doesn't mean the Steelers want that to happen. And the biggest fear of these two injuries combined is that with Pouncey's ankle busted up, Pittsburgh's that much closer to seeing Roethlisberger take a hit that'll bring Batch into the game.

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Posted on: June 16, 2011 1:44 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2011 2:35 pm

Possible NFL landing spots for Terrelle Pryor

Posted by Ryan Wilson

If you're of the opinion that Ray Lewis and Ed Reed would be good locker room influences on any player with off-field issues, then you may have no problem with John Clayton's suggestion that the Ravens might be one of five teams willing to take a flyer on Terrelle Pryor. If you don't buy the initial premise (and some folks are understandably skeptical), then the whole argument falls apart.

Writing for ESPN, Clayton admits that "This might be a bit of a reach, but as a lower-round selection Pryor could interest the Ravens as a receiver. Having him learn under Anquan Boldin would be the key. Boldin was a quarterback in college and uses the knowledge gained there to put himself in position to help his quarterback."

We agree. It's a reach. Not because the Ravens aren't willing to gamble with talented but troubled players (they are), but because if we're to take agent Drew Rosenhaus at his word (we'll wait while you quit laughing), he thinks Pryor is not only an NFL quarterback but a "first-round pick."

Perhaps that stance will soften as teams explain to Rosenhaus that his client probably isn't worth more than a fourth-rounder. Although, as Mike Mayock pointed out Wednesday night, "Nobody is better than Rosenhaus in driving perceived value. … Sometimes perceived value is almost as good as real value if he can get enough people talking about [Pryor] as a first-round pick."

Other possible destinations, according to Clayton: Oakland, Miami, Pittsburgh and Washington.
Terrelle Pryor's NFL future

The Raiders makes sense because, well, it's the Raiders. Once Al Davis sees Pryor's 40 time, he very well could be a first-rounder. Still, that doesn't mean it's a good idea.

Clayton says the Dolphins "want to add someone to compete against Chad Henne," and we agree. It's just not going to be Pryor. Remember: Miami wasted a second-rounder on Pat White two years ago. Pat White is now out of the NFL.

As for Pittsburgh, Clayton notes that, "Many scouts believe Pryor potentially has Dennis Dixon-like ability as quarterback." Dennis Dixon also never had off-field issues (just the opposite, in fact). He's also been an adequate NFL backup and nothing more. Probably not worth the potential headaches that will accompany Pryor, even if Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is impartial to Ohio State players.

Finally, there are the Redskins. Like the Raiders -- and given their blindfold-and-a-dartboard personnel philosophy -- it makes too much sense not to happen. To Clayton's credit, he calls Pryor-to-Washington a long shot, even given the fact that Mike Shanahan doesn't have an starting-caliber QB currently on the roster.

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Posted on: February 6, 2011 5:33 pm

Why Charlie Batch was so important this year

C. Batch played well for Pittsburgh early in the season (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

DALLAS – When the Steelers Media Day officially opened last Tuesday, backup QB Charlie Batch switched on his video camera and began shooting the enormous Jerry-Tron that hangs like an oversized airplane over the Cowboys Stadium turf.

Nobody bothered him for a few minutes. He was by himself, making memories with his camera. He was, at least until I approached, the forgotten man.

Before the rebirth of Ben Roethlisberger and before the Steelers won seven of eight games heading into today’s Super Bowl, there was Batch and Dennis Dixon helping keep the team together while Roethlisberger served his four-game suspension.

Remember how we said the Steelers would be lucky to break even and go 2-2 in the season’s first four games vs. the Falcons, Titans, Buccaneers and Ravens? Probably, we said, they’d go 1-3 before Roethlisberger returned.

Instead, Dixon passed for 236 yards, and the Pittsburgh held Atlanta to nine points in the season-opener, and after Dixon hurt his knee, Batch took over the starting spot. Against Tampa Bay, he threw for 186 yards and three touchdowns (with two interceptions) to lead the Steelers to a 38-13 win against what turned out to be a pretty good Buccaneers squad.

The Steelers lost to the Ravens in Week 4, but the fact Pittsburgh went 3-1 during that stretch and how much that ultimately helped the Steelers on their eventual Super Bowl run is a forgotten storyline this week. And Batch is the forgotten man.

“There wasn’t anybody outside our building who thought we could do that,” Batch said. “People expected us to go 1-3 or 0-4 or whatever. But we were 39 seconds away from being 4-0.”

And it gave the Steelers a nice boost heading into the final ¾ of the season. To underestimate the impact that first stretch of games had on the team would be unfair to the guys who helped make it happen.

“Everybody on this team put their hand in the pot and helped us win,” RB Rashard Mendenhall said. “Everybody knows their roles and works at them to compete. Those guys did a great job with the time they had.”

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Posted on: October 2, 2010 2:15 pm

Steelers end Dixon's season

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Dixon The Steelers announced today they’ve placed QB Dennis Dixon on the IR list, ending his season. Dixon injured his knee in Week 2 vs. Tennessee, and in his two appearances this season, he completed 68.8 percent of his passes for 254 yards and an interception.

If this news had occurred a few weeks ago, there’d be considerable more hand-wringing in Pittsburgh. But with Ben Roethlisberger set to end his four-game suspension after this week’s game vs. the Ravens and with Charlie Batch starring in Week 3, the loss of Dixon doesn’t hurt quite as much.

To replace his spot on the 53-man roster, Pittsburgh signed DT Steve McLendon from the practice squad.

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Posted on: September 28, 2010 2:05 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2010 2:07 pm

Tomlin says Batch will start against Ravens

Posted by Will Brinson

Charlie Batch's improbable dream gig of starting for the Pittsburgh Steelers at the age of 35 will continue for at least one more game, as Mike Tomlin announced that "Chuck" will get the nod against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4.

There was some speculation that Tomlin could give Byron Leftwich the starting nod, but Batch's "breakout" performance against Tampa Bay probably made up his mind for him.

"Guys got a great deal of confidence in him," Tomlin said. "He’s simply a man that’s taken advantage of an opportunity. You’ve got to be happy for him. It’s an awesome lesson learned for our young players, one that I hope they take heed to. It’s about perseverance. This profession’s about perseverance. It’s about taking advantage of opportunities when they’re given and he’s given them a shiny, clear-cut example of that."

Batch does define perseverance -- and luck, too. Were it not for Ben Roethlisberger's suspension followed by Byron Leftwich's injury, followed by Dennis Dixon's injury, well, he probably wouldn't be on the roster.

But a lot of times life is about being in the right place at the right time and then, most importantly, doing the right thing when you're there. As a starting NFL quarterback, "tossing touchdowns" and "keeping your team undefeated" absolutely qualify as just that.

Batch's time starting is likely done when Roethlisberger returns following the Steelers' bye, but with his performance thus far, he'll almost assuredly stick on the roster as the backup quarterback, provided the Steelers decide to put Dixon on IR.

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Posted on: September 28, 2010 9:59 am
Edited on: September 28, 2010 5:07 pm

Top Ten with a Twist: Biggest problems

Mike Singletary has led his San Francisco squad to an 0-3 start to the season (AP).
Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The first game, if your favorite team has a bad day at the office, you can forgive it. “Ah, it’s just one game,” you might say. “My men have plenty of time, and it was the first game of the season. Obviously, they haven’t worked out all the kinks.” You can still sleep at night.

The second game, if your team stinks up the joint again, you can forgive it. With reservations. “OK, it’s only two games. The season is still long. You can still make the playoffs if you start it out 0-2. They’re still figuring things out.” You still sleep at night, though probably not as soundly.

By the third game, though, if your team is still playing really, really poorly, you might have a tough time catching those Z's. By game three, problem teams – and problem players – are becoming more “the trend” and less “just a phase.” Your team might really suck, after all. Your favorite player might officially be over the hill.

You might officially have a problem.

10. Carson Palmer:
I’ve watched Palmer closely the past five or six years, and after the Jets beat Cincinnati in the playoffs last year, I wrote Palmer was no longer an elite quarterback (you can’t be elite, after all, if your stats fall somewhere between Jason Campbell and David Garrard). He’s continued his struggles this year, and though, the Bengals don’t need him quite as much if they have a healthy Cedric Benson, you can close the book on him as one of the best in the game.

9. Shawne Merriman’s Achilles/Andre Johnson’s ankle: Let’s combine two annoying injuries for players who would do well to stay on the field. Merriman, who missed much of the preseason because of a holdout/Achilles injury, played the last two weeks, but he had to leave Sunday’s contest because of a calf injury. Though he’s not the player he once was, he’s a better option for San Diego than Antwan Applewhite and Brandon Lang. And Johnson’s ankle is self-explanatory. If he’s not on the field – and he’s had to miss part of the past two games – the Texans offense isn’t nearly as potent.

8. David Garrard: I know, I hate putting two QBs on here in the first three picks, but, unlike Palmer, I’m not sure why Garrard is still playing with the first string. I mean, aside from Todd Bouman (hasn’t thrown a pass in five seasons) being his only backup. Coach Jack Del Rio was asked how much longer he could play Garrard, and Del Rio said as long as he was the team’s best option. Meaning he’s the team’s only option. Which is bad news.

7. Ben Roethlisberger’s return:
This isn’t about Roethlisberger necessarily and I assume coach Mike Tomlin will give him back his job when he returns from his four-game suspension, but the Steelers could be 4-0 playing a combination of Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch. Roethlisberger obviously is a better QB than either of those two, but he’ll probably be rusty. What if he struggles against the Browns in his first game? What if Miami’s defense lights him up the week after that? Will Steelers fans be chanting Charlie Batch’s name (probably not, but you never know …)?

6. Brandyn Dombrowski:
So, how soon can Marcus McNeill return for San Diego? Dombrowski, playing LT and trying to protect Philip Rivers’ blindside, had a tough time against Seattle on Sunday, Chris Clemons toasted him a few times to sack Rivers, and on the Chargers’ first attempt to get within two late in the game – the first time Rivers hit TE Antonio Gates – Dombrowski was called for holding. San Diego coach Norv Turner has defended him, but Dombrowski had a rough one in the Chargers loss.

G. Hartley had a rough week for New Orleans last week and is in danger of losing his job (AP). 5. Garrett Hartley: It’s hard to believe how badly Hartley missed his game-winning 29-yard field goal in overtime of the Falcons victory against the Saints. Coach Sean Payton has shown plenty of loyalty to Hartley, but Hartley directly cost New Orleans the game Sunday. How many more games will he negatively impact the Saints before he’s off the team? Maybe, none. John Carney and Matt Stover apparently have tried out for the Saints this week, and at this point, if Hartley lasts the year in New Orleans, it’d be kind of a surprise. 

4. The entire AFC/NFC West: We’ll get into San Francisco’s Mike Singletary in a minute, but man, how inconsistent have these conferences been? Oakland has been terrible (against Tennessee), less terrible (a win against St. Louis), and almost not terrible enough to win again (a 24-23 loss to Arizona). Derek Anderson has worked his anti-magic for the Cardinals. And you still don’t know what you’re going to get when Seattle runs onto the field for the game. I'm still shocked St. Louis beat Washington. These divisions are wide open for the taking, especially when Kansas City starts 3-0 and leads the AFC West.

3. Chargers kick return coverage:
OK, so you saw what Leon Washington did against San Diego on Sunday, returning a kick for 101 yards for the TD and then returning another kick for 99 yards. That was unreal. But don’t forget about Kansas City’s Dexter McCluster, who had a 94-yard punt return in the season opener vs. San Diego. On Monday, several Chargers veterans volunteered for special teams duties in order to help improve that unit. Hey, it certainly couldn’t hurt.

2. Giants discipline:
Remember how Antrel Rolle complained about how much control the coaching staff held over the players? Well, that’s not exactly true, especially when we’re talking about New York’s 11 penalties, including five personal fouls that occurred after the play was over, in its bad loss to Tennessee. Two 15-yarders came courtesy of RT Kareem McKenzie (behavior McKenzie called “despicable” the next day), and Rolle incurred one when he tried to punch Tennessee TE Craig Stevens. With performances like that, you have to wonder what kind of control coach Tom Coughlin actually asserts over his players. And how much longer he’ll be in control of the Giants at all.

1. Mike Singletary:
After the 49ers 31-10 beatdown by the Chiefs, word filtered out that Kansas City’s defenders apparently were calling out San Francisco’s play calls before the plays were actually run. Now, the 49ers are 0-3, and maybe, aside from pulling down his pants to motivate his team, Singletary doesn’t exactly seem like an X’s and O’s guy. He actually was asked after the game if he had been outcoached, and he said, “I would not say ‘outcoached.’ When you have a loss like this, a lot of things look wrong.” Like the offense. And a day after backing his offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye and saying he’d be around the rest of the season, Singletary fired him. That means new offensive coordinator Mike Johnson continues the streak of Alex Smith never playing for the same coordinator in back-to-back seasons. I’m sure that will help.

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