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Tag:Jason Garrett
Posted on: March 6, 2012 11:45 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: NFC East preview

Can Jerry get Tony enough help in 2012? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas 2011 season reeked of redemption for a lost 2010 season much of the way through. Despite close (and awkward) losses to the Patriots, Jets and Lions, the Cowboys rolled into December on a four-game winning streak, with a shot at closing out the NFC East. Then things absolutely fell apart: Jason Garrett iced his own kicker in an overtime loss to Arizona, Tony Romo overthrew Miles Austin in a tight Week 14 loss to the Giants, Romo was injured the next week in a meaningless game against the Eagles and Dallas got pounded by the eventual Super Bowl champs on New Years Day. Then Jerry Jones team had to watch the 9-7 Giants march to a Super Bowl victory. Not a fun couple of months for them. And though most of the blame usually finds its way onto Romo or Garrett, significant upgrades on the offensive line and secondary could go a long way towards fixing the Cowboys problems and making them a legit contender.

Free Agents of Note
Linebacker Anthony Spencer was tagged on Monday by Dallas, so he'll be back at least one more year and could get a longer deal ... Tight end Martellus Bennett is a good blocker but hasn't panned out the way Dallas wanted ... Linebacker Keith Brooking is 36 but has drawn interest from Dallas to return in 2012 ... FB Tony Fiammetta is an RFA and needs to be retained, especially given the work he did for DeMarco Murray last year ... Linebacker Bradie James is 31 and could be gone ... Wide receiver Laurent Robinson really clicked with Tony Romo in 2012 and would be a big re-addition ... Punter Mat McBriar could be done in Dallas if the 'Boys want to move forward with Chris Jones.

Needs
Secondary
: Terence Newman, 33, could be a cap/age casualty and Abram Elam, Frank Walker and Alan Ball are free agents. If Dallas plans on remaining as aggressive as defensive coordinator Rob Ryan wants them to be, they'll need to drastically improve the secondary.
Guard
: Tyron Smith and Doug Free flipped sides and are locked in at tackle, but the interior of the line needs improvement.

Targets
Brandon Carr or Cortland Finnegan would be an ideal target for Dallas as longer-term options. Neither is expected to remain with their respective teams. But if the Cowboys can't get Carr, they'll need to pursue some shorter-term options like Carlos Rogers. Guard is deep in free agency too, and it would behoove the Cowboys to invest in a stud like Carl Nicks. Getting Spencer signed to a long-term deal, rather than give him $9 million in 2012, would do a lot for their cap space.

New York Giants

It's crazy to think that the Super Bowl champion Giants looked DOA by the start of the regular season; an almost unbelievable (were it not true) string of injuries hit the team before the season began. The Giants looked even worse off in the middle of a late-season swoon that featured some of the toughest

Free Agents of Note:
Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham is going to get overpaid somewhere else based on his postseason performance ... Secret Super Bowl hero Steve Weatherford got the franchise tag Monday, so he'll be back in 2012 ... Wideout Domenik Hixon's already been re-signed ... Cornerback Aaron Ross says he wants to return but won't commit to a "hometown" discount ... Terrell Thomas was lost in the preseason but is closing in on a deal with the Giants ... Deon Grant is scheduled for free agency as well ... Both Jake Ballard and Bear Pascoe tore their ACLs in the Super Bowl, so the Giants have to sign someone to play tight end ... Kareem McKenzie is 32-years-old and the Giants could be ready to move on after he struggled last season.

Needs
Tight End: This seems like a classic "address it at the end of the first round" issue, since the Giants could have their pick of Cody Fleener, Orson Charles and Dwayne Allen at No. 32. If not, they'll need to get someone from a not-so-attractive free agent pile.
Offensive Line: This is a unit that's getting older quickly. David Deihl can work anywhere on the line, but he's 31.
Secondary: If the Giants get Thomas, they could be fine here, as they've already got Corey Webster and Antrel Rolle. But last year proved how important depth really is, so it wouldn't be surprising to see them beef up the position.

Targets
The Giants are tight up against the salary cap this offseason, but are also coming off a year where they won the Super Bowl. The pressure isn't too intense on them to make a big splash with outside guys in free agency (nor should it be). If they can find value in a some cheaper offensive line options with a little upside (Geoff Schwartz anyone?) that would make the most sense in terms of an outside pick up.

Philadelphia Eagles

You know what happened here: a dream-team season quickly turned into a nightmare out of the gates, and the Eagles were the laughingstock of the NFL as they fell to 1-4. They finally turned things around with a four-game winning streak to close out at 8-8, giving Philly fans plenty of hope for 2012. (Not to mention helping Andy Reid's job security.) But there are still concerns here, because the Eagles have to get some linebackers and safeties in order to stop the run, manage their high-priced cornerbacks in a more efficient manner and keep Michael Vick from getting tattooed by opposing defenders. It's unlikely that Philly will make the same splash in free agency as they did in 2011, but that could actually be a good thing.

Free Agents: Running back Ronnie Brown might've thrown away (literally) any chance he had of returning to Philly ... DeSean Jackson got the franchise tag, and the team could still sign him long term or seek to trade him ... King Dunlap and Evan Mathis are both free agents on the offensive line; Mathis wants to return and should be priority No. 1 ... Trevor Laws, Juqua Parker and Derek Landri would depart the defensive line's depth if they all left ... Vince Young and Steve Smith, two big-name additions that didn't contribute much in 2011, seem likely to bolt.
Needs
Linebacker: Luke Koechly is the hot name for the Eagles in the draft, but his stock is rising and might not be available. Getting a middle linebacker who can stuff the run is absolutely essential for the Eagles defense in 2012. Adding some help at outside linebacker would be a bonus; acquiring linebackers isn't really Andy Reid's forte though.
Defensive Line Depth: The Eagles still have Mike Patterson, Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin and Trent Cole starting, but as noted above, they're going to need depth to keep those guys fresh throughout the year.

Targets
Linebacker, as noted, is the biggest need. Fortunately for the Eagles, there are some nice names out there. Stephen Tulloch and Curtis Lofton represent pricier, albeit talented, options at middle linebacker. Dan Connor's a name that's been rumored with Philly and he could make sense as a run-stopping specialist who doesn't cost that much.

Washington Redskins

As Clark Judge recently wrote, the Redskins are running out of options for 2012. Either get Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III or prepare to move on from Mike Shanahan. They'll have their chance at each, as Manning will be a free agent soon and the Rams are willing to deal the No. 2 pick in April's draft. And the Redskins success really could come down to the quarterback position: if they can get Manning or RG3 and put suitable weapons around one of those guys (I personally prefer RG3 for them), Washington could net a few more wins and at least challenge for the division title that Rex Grossman guaranteed before 2011 started.

Free Agents
Fred Davis was franchised and remains the team's most explosive offensive weapon but he needs to stay out of trouble ... Tim Hightower fits what Mike Shanahan wants to do but wasn't as effect ... London Fletcher is old but remains effective and the Redskins need him back ... Rex Grossman seems destined to remain with Shanny forever, even if it's just on one-year deals ... Graham Gano was tendered and should be back ... Washington's already re-signed center Will Montgomery ... LaRon Landry can't stay healthy but Washington might gamble on him at a cheap price ... Roy Helu makes Tim Hightower expendable, though Hightower was decent in his five starts before being injured.
Needs
Quarterback: Quite obviously.
Wide Receiver: Jabar Gaffney shouldn't be anyone's No. 1 wideout. If the Skins go with the Manning route, it's entirely possible they can lure other free-agent wideouts into town. Either way, reports indicate they want to get a "high-profile wide receiver" and that's a good thing. Pairing Manning or RG3 with a viable wideout could make this offense explosive in 2012.
Offensive Line: Washington's set at several slots on the front, but could use an upgrade on the right side, where Jamaal Brown in particular has not been as good as they'd hoped.
Targets
Manning's the main target here. If they can't get Peyton, then the Skins have to get RG3. Both are attainable, it's just whether or not the cost is prohibitive. Vincent Jackson, Reggie Wayne and Marques Colston would all qualify as "marquee" wideouts. Ben Grubbs and Carl Nicks would be obviously be tremendous adds and allow the Redskins to shift some personnel and improve their line. Evan Mathis would take away from a division opponent as well.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 11:12 am
 

Tyron Smith, Doug Free to switch sides for Dallas

Dallas coach Jason Garrett said Thursday he would move Smith to left tackle next year. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

When the Cowboys selected Tyron Smith with the No. 9 pick in the 2011 draft, they certainly didn’t make that move to keep him at right tackle. So, after only a season in that position while Doug Free manned the left side, Dallas coach Jason Garrett said the team has decided to make a change, moving Smith to the left side and returning Free back to the right.

"The versatility that Tyron has coming out is something that we were really attracted to,” Garrard said Thursday at the scouting combine (via the Fort Worth Star Telegram). “He was a right tackle in college. We felt like he had the physical traits to play left tackle and the same thing with Doug Free. We felt like he could play either side."

While Smith was playing well enough to be considered one of the top right tackles in the game last year, according to Pro Football Focus, Free struggled on the left side, allowing 10 sacks and 34 quarterback pressures. The Cowboys also gave Smith a few snaps at left tackle last year, and obviously, he impressed Dallas enough to make the move a permanent one. 

While CBSSports.com’s Andy Benoit pointed out in December that Smith was exploited at times early in the season by “wily defenders,” Benoit also wrote that Smith improved faster than some could have expected.

"We feel like he is ready to make that move now,” Garrett said. “We're just trying to come up with the best combination."

As PFF writes, it’s the move that makes the most sense, writing in December, “Regardless of how Dallas’ season ends they will feel reassured in the knowledge that  they’ve found a stud of a tackle for the future in the shape of the youngest player in the league, Tyron Smith … The rookie right tackle has been exceptional all year …  It’s rare to see a tackle come out and play so well, but Smith has been just that good. A move to the left side next year will surely provide him with some new challenges. If he handles the transition in the same manner that he’s handled his move to the NFL coming from Southern California I’ll be betting on him to succeed.”

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Posted on: February 5, 2012 3:29 pm
 

DeMarco Murray talks Cowboys, Romo, Jason Garrett

Murray expects even more from the 'Boys in 2012. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- DeMarco Murray burst onto the scene as a potential franchise running back for the Dallas Cowboys when he shattered long-standing records with a 253-yard rushing performance against the Rams in the 2011 season. With Felix Jones injured, Murray stepped in and paced the Cowboys rushing attack until he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 13.

But Murray, who was working with Verizon to promote the first-ever mobile airing of the Super Bowl, told us on Radio Row that the Cowboys can accomplish the goals they missed with a full season in 2012.

"Definitely the playoffs and getting [to the Super Bowl] next year," Murray said. "We had a lot of young guys and  missed OTAs and minicamps. I thought a lot of guys played well. If we get a full season under our belt we look forward to winning some games."

Dallas collapse down the stretch was a full-blown disaster, with Jason Garrett notably icing his own kicker against the Cardinals before losing in overtime. But Murray said that the scapegoating of Garrett is blown out proportion by "us guys."

"Man, you guys are going to write us off no matter what," Murray said. "One week he's the greatest coach on the planet, the next week he's the worst coach on the planet. So we don't listen to that stuff you know? He's a great coach and I'm glad he's my coach."

Murray had similar feelings for quarterback Tony Romo, who's been judged once or twice in his career.

"Same thing, man!" Murray said. "One week he's a hero, the next week he's not. That's just the way it is with the Dallas Cowboys. We're used to it, we love it and we wouldn't want any one else leading our team."

Murray's correct on that count. Romo gets unfairly ripped/loved on a week-to-week basis depending on the outcome of the game.

It's presumed that Murray will be the guy taking most of the carries from Romo in 2012. However, Murray said he didn't know if he was the starter yet, and that he and Felix Jones had a "great" relationship. Additionally, Murray championed his fellow rookies, calling the 2011 NFL Draft class the greatest class of all time.

"I think it is," Murray said. "Look at all the guys in our class who made the Pro Bowl and did it without OTAs and minicamps."

If Murray can have the same impact he had in 2011 next year, it'll go even further to proving that point.

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Posted on: January 9, 2012 12:13 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2012 11:14 am
 

Latest coaching rumors, news

Coaching news and rumors abound through the playoffs. (EoF Illustration)
By Eye on Football staff

Coaching news and rumors don't slow down just because there's football. If you missed all of last week's action, hit it here to catch up and then scroll down. Make sure to bookmark this page as we'll be updating it throughout the week with the latest news and rumors.

SUNDAY
11:15 a.m. ET

FRIDAY
2:05 p.m. ET

12:45 p.m. ET
11:33 a.m. ET
  • Bill Callahan is officially on board with the Cowboys, and he's actually going to be named the offensive coordinator, which is pretty interesting. However, Jason Garrett will continue to call plays. And, presumably, timeouts. Ahem.
THURSDAY
8:35 p.m. ET

3:15 p.m. ET
  • With the loss of Mike Mularkey to Jacksonville, the Falcons reportedly are looking at Brian Billick, former Jaguars offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and former Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to fill the Atlanta OC job.
  • Saints coach Sean Payton confirmed that Aaron Kromer, New Orlean's OL coach, will interview for the Rams head coaching job.

11:50 a.m. ET
  • If the Colts fire coach Jim Caldwell, could new Indianapolis GM Ryan Grigson, formerly the personnel director of the Eagles, consider Philadelphia offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg? The Philadelphia Inquirer thinks there might be some merit to that idea.
8:50 a.m. ET
  • According to a radio station in Orlando, the Bengals have signed a three-year extension with offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. So, it appears that Gruden will be staying in Cincinnati.

WEDNESDAY


8:05 p.m. ET
  • Former Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris has landed a new job as the defensive backs coach for the Redskins. It's nice to see that Washington DOES provide jobs to the unemployed.
7:30 p.m.
  • Todd Bowles, formerly the interim coach in Miami, is the first Raiders coaching candidate to emerge in the wake of Hue Jackson's firing, according to ESPN.
  • Mike Mularkey wants to keep former Jaguars interim coach Mel Tucker in Jacksonville as the defensive coordinator. That's via the Florida Times-Union, which quotes Mularkey as saying, "I want to really just have a chance to sit down and talk to him. I’ve spoken to him already, prior to this going down. We really have a pretty good relationship, so hopefully it works out.” Tucker has already interviewed for the Vikings defensive coordinator job.
6:05 p.m. ET
  • According to the Newark Star Ledger, former Chiefs coach Todd Haley will arrive in New Jersey on Wednesday night to interview for the Jets offensive coordinator job. It's not yet Tony Sparano's gig.

5:35 p.m. ET
  • Here are a couple of reasons why we shouldn't be holding our breath about a Schottenheimer family reunion.

10:25 a.m. ET

  • Ryan Grigson is the new general manager for the Indianapolis Colts. Grigson served as director of player personnel with the Eagles for the past year and was the director of college scouting before that.
  • The Jaguars hiring Mike Mularkey eliminated Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski from leaving for Jacksonville, but the Associated Press reports he's now interviewing for the Rams job.
  • One report has the Falcons, who "let" Brian VanGorder leave for Auburn, checking out Steve Spagnuolo for the defensive coordinator position. That'd be a nice fit.
TUESDAY
11:45 p.m. ET

  • It's your standard quiet Tuesday night on the NFL coaching rumor front: Brian Schottenheimer is out as Jets offensive coordinator and the latest reports have Tony Sparano stepping into that role in 2012. (Schotty didn't get "fired" by the way, but yeah, it sounds awkward.)
10:35 p.m. ET
6:40 p.m ET
  • The Dolphins announced that they interviewed Mike Zimmer, defensive coordinator of the Bengals. Meanwhile, Cincy offensive coordinator Jay Gruden declined to interview with the Rams and Jaguars and will stay with Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton.

3:30 p.m ET

  • Winston Moss, the assistant head coach/linebackers coach for the Packers, is considered the front-runner for the open Raiders job.
2:20 p.m. ET
MONDAY
8:40 p.m. ET
  • Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has drawn interest from the Rams and will interview for their head coaching position Thursday, according to the Denver Post.
6 p.m. ET
  • One time-Rams scout Ryan Grigson, now the Eagles director of player personnel, interviewed Monday for the St. Louis general manager job, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
  • As Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was scheduled to interview for the Dolphins head coaching job Monday. Strangely enough, Cincinnati offensive coordinator has NOT been approached by the Jaguars to interview. “I have not heard anything," Gruden said. "I don’t know what’s happening to be honest with you. I don’t know if I’m ready. I’m just dealing with the season that came to an end and whatever happens, happens. I got a couple texts from people that heard I was a candidate for the job but I haven’t heard anything otherwise. I don’t know exactly how it works. I’ll probably find shortly if it is true.”
2:57 p.m. ET
  • Cowboys secondary coach Dave Campo, formerly Dallas' head coach, will not return for 2012, writes the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Apparently, the rest of Jason Garrett's staff should be safe.
  • Via ESPN's Adam Schefter, Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey will interview for the Jaguars job on Tuesday.
11:10 p.m. ET

10:30 a.m. ET

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Posted on: January 2, 2012 7:34 pm
 

Garrett: Rob Ryan is 'worthy' of being head coach

Rob Ryan's stock took a hit with Dallas' recent performance. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

After the way the Cowboys (and the Cowboys defense, in particular) played Sunday night against the Giants, it would be fair to say that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan didn't do much to boost his stock as head-coaching material in 2012.

When the Jaguars fired Jack Del Rio in November, Ryan made our early list of possible replacements. But in the five weeks since, the Cowboys have gone 1-4, including three NFC East losses as well as the debacle in the valley of the sun. The losses weren't entirely his fault, but it's not like the defense played lights-out, either.

According to Football Outsiders' metrics, Dallas' defense ranked 16th overall (19th against the pass, 8th against the run). It's the definition of mediocrity, but given Ryan's pedigree -- not to mention his loquaciousness -- it's wholly underwhelming. And it's why we'd expect teams in need of a head coach to look elsewhere. In fact, we wouldn't be surprised if Ryan was relieved of his duties in Dallas, although that doesn't look like it'll happen (he signed a multi-year deal last season).

On Monday, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett (his job's safe too, says owner Jerry Jones) was asked about the possibility of Ryan landing a head-coaching gig.

"Well, if Rob has an opportunity to go be a head coach somewhere, I think that’s a great thing for Rob, and we certainly would encourage that," Garrett said via ESPNDallas.com.

You almost get the impression that Garrett would welcome the opportunity to fill Ryan's job.

"I think he’s worthy of being a head coach in this league," he continued. "I think he does an outstanding job as a coordinator, he’s an excellent leader, he’s an excellent coach, and we would encourage that for him. I think it’s a great opportunity for him. I think that’s part of the process. You allow for that to happen if that opportunity does exist, and then we would have to obviously replace him and make some decisions of our own. But, we certainly love having him as our coordinator, and we’re excited about our opportunity to grow in that area for next year."

ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins adds that if Ryan somehow manages to land a job as an NFL head coach, "linebackers coach Matt Eberflus, whom Ryan called his right-hand man, could get elevated to coordinator. Eberflus could also leave to become Ryan's defensive coordinator/assistant head coach should he get a head coaching position."

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Posted on: January 1, 2012 11:39 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 8:53 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 17: Brees for MVP?

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action, figures out the winners and losers and asks the big questions. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Listen to the Pick-Six Podcast Week 17 recap below and don't forget to
subscribe via iTunes
.

Drew Brees for MVP?

Over the next month, until the MVP is announced before the Super Bowl, there's going to be an intense debate about whether or not Drew Brees' incredible hot streak to close out the season vaulted him past Aaron Rodgers for the MVP award.

Four weeks ago, this wasn't a debate. Even with Brees having a monster year, the Packers were undefeated and Rodgers was eviscerating defenses on a weekly basis.

Their numbers were close enough to tell anyone suggesting a debate to kindly close their piehole.

Now? Well it's a lot closer than it was. The numbers (below) make that much obvious even though the actual premises behind the argument are just frustrating from the sense of measuring a season by its full extent.

Player
Comp % Pass Yards
Pass TDs INT
W-L
Aaron Rodgers
68.3 4,643 45 6 14-1
Drew Brees
71.2 5,476 46 14 13-3

The bigger problem for Rodgers may be a confluence of events around 4:00pm ET Sunday afternoon: as Brees was throwing his fifth touchdown pass (hey, just one more than Rodgers!), Packers backup Matt Flynn was going absolutely bananas against the Lions, slicing up Detroit's secondary for six touchdowns and 480 yards, a Packers franchise record.

Take a look at the list of the guys who've thrown for six teeters in a game since the merger. Spoiler alert: it's short, and full of awesome quarterbacks.

Flynn's on the list now and as a result, he's blatantly going to cost Rodgers a ton of "Well if the backup can do that" votes, while Brees staying in much longer than needed against the Panthers netted him a significant boost in the eyes of "What have you done for me lately?" voters.

But let's get one thing out of the way first: Aaron Rodgers is not a "system quarterback." Yeah, there's actually a debate raging as to whether he is or not. And if you believe that Rodgers is only successful because of the Packers "system" then you're as foolish as anyone who thought Tom Brady was a system quarterback when Matt Cassel had a big year filling in for the Patriots.

Every team has a "system" on offense and some -- the Packers and Patriots stand out -- are better than others. But Flynn's a good quarterback who's succeeded before (he nearly beat the Patriots in prime time last year), has a great pedigree (BCS title anyone?) and has spent multiple years working behind Rodgers. That's not going to make him worse. There's a reason the Packers, winners of 21 of 22 games since LAST Christmas, have him on the roster. And it's not because he makes a mean gumbo.

Look, less than two weeks ago, Rodgers carved up a very (very) good Bears defense on Christmas night. All season long he commanded the Packers offense like a conductor, made ridiculous throws that no one else in the NFL can make and generally let the world pencil his name in for MVP. 

His season's been so magnificent that it's somehow getting railroaded by the Packers losing to the Chiefs late (but don't forget, the Saints lost to the Rams and, uh, the Packers), sitting out Week 17 (a smart move with homefield clinched) and Sean Payton and Brees running up the score in order to break records (which is fine, but let's call it what it is).

There's no question that Drew Brees is a viable MVP candidate. He's had an all-time season in 2011. But judging the MVP race based on a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately attitude is shortsighted, and it diminishes the incredible season Rodgers had in Green Bay.

Winners

Tom Coughlin: Coughlin won the NFC East, despite sitting on the hot seat most of the season, and the Giants suddenly have a look of a team that could absolutely be a playoff sleeper. They can rush the passer mercilessly when they get hot, Victor Cruz is turning into a salsa-dancing monster and Eli Manning's smoking hot right now. Given the success wild-card teams have had in recent years -- hello, 2007 Giants! -- it would be foolish to count them out.

Maurice Jones-Drew:
"Mojo" ripped off a season-high 169 rushing yards on Sunday against Indy. That not only gave him the NFL rushing title for 2011, but also gave him the Jaguars single-season record for rushing yards, as he broke Fred Taylor's previous high of 1,572 in 2003. In a very dismal season for Jacksonville's offense, MJD's been an absolute workhorse. He's up there with Tony Boselli, Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith in terms of all-time greats for the Jaguars.

Jason Taylor
: The only way Taylor's exit -- as a Dolphin, on the shoulders of his teammates after taking down the Jets -- could have been better is if the fumble he returned for a touchdown wasn't overturned. Taylor's a classy dude, a gamer, a hell of a dancer and at sixth all-time on the sack-leader list (not to mention a media favorite!), he'll find his way into Canton. Awesome career.

Matt Flynn: As noted above, Flynn had a decent day on Sunday. That's going to translate well when he becomes an unrestricted free agent and potentially becomes the most desirable quarterback on the market. There are lots of teams that need a quarterback and Flynn will be on everyone's radar just as much as Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. If someone falls in love with him, he might get Kevin Kolb money.

Cincinnati Bengals: Nothing like losing and still ending up in the winner's column, huh? The Bengals played the Ravens well on Sunday but Ray Rice was too much for them. Fortunately, KC beat Denver (or, if you prefer, San Diego beat Oakland) and the Bengals backed their way into a playoff matchup against a Texans team that will either start T.J. Yates or Jake Delhomme.

Sanchez is no lock for the Big Apple in 2012. (AP)

Losers

Mark Sanchez: The Jets never even got a shot at backdooring their way into the playoffs, as Sanchez picked apart his own offense and gave the Dolphins nine points off of three interceptions, two of which were to defensive lineman Randy Starks. It wouldn't ultimately matter, because the Titans won and eliminated Rex Ryan's crew, but anyone who justified Sanchez' performance with the old "He just wins!" argument has packed up their shanty and moved to Denver to make that argument. He didn't play like a $14 million quarterback this year -- even though he got paid like one -- and it would almost be surprising if the Jets didn't make a swap at the position.

Detroit Lions: They haven't won at Lambeau since 1991 now, dropping a mind-blowing 20 consecutive games at the Packers homefield. Of course, that's not why they're on this list, although it doesn't help. They're on this list because they just gave up 480 passing yards to the Packers backup and losing in Green Bay (coupled with Atlanta rumbling over the Bucs) means Detroit's next game will be in New Orleans. Against Drew Brees. You should go ahead and put your mortgage on the over.

Raheem Morris: I'm hesitant to include Morris because I'm pretty sure he'll have already been fired by time I hit publish. I mean, if there was ever a time not to let your opponent get out to a 42-0 lead it's definitely the final game of the season when you're riding a nine-game losing streak and barely clinging to your job.

Rob Ryan: Dallas looked absolutely flat early on Sunday night and somehow managed to storm back on the Giants, only to have the secondary shredded by Eli Manning when they cut the lead to seven points. Ryan's defense hasn't backed up his mouth all season long and even though you want your coach to make better late-game decisions and you don't want your quarterback turning the ball over late, there

John Elway: Kyle Orton didn't do anything crazy like throw for 500 yards to beat the Broncos on Sunday, but they win that game against Tyler Palko. Not that it mattered, because the Broncos made the playoffs anyway when the Chargers topped the Raiders. But Elway put himself in the position to miss the postseason by releasing Orton and even if it helped the team's chemistry they're barely hanging on right now and look like a lock for a first-round exit.

The Big Questions

 
The Broncos didn't exactly storm into the playoffs. (AP)

1. Is the Tim Tebow magic finally gone?
It just might be. The Broncos still made the playoffs, of course, and anything can happen once you get to the postseason. But Denver limped their way there, backing into a title at 8-8 on a three-game skid. Teams seem to have figured out that playing press-man coverage against Tebow severely limits what he can do on offense (he's much better at picking apart zones and makes fewer mistakes) and Denver proved that if they can't generate turnovers, they're in trouble. It's hard to imagine them beating the Steelers, even at home.

2. Who's the AFC favorite going forward?
The Ravens are my pick. They get homefield up to the AFC Championship and only lose it then if they have to play the Patriots. They've beaten the Bengals twice and they've beaten the Steelers twice. They've beaten New England in New England in the playoffs before, and the Pats have no defense. And the Ravens are nightmare matchups in Baltimore for Houston and Denver, neither of whom can keep pace if the Ravens start scoring.

3. How about the NFC?
Say what you want about how hot the Saints are -- and they are white hot -- but the Packers are still the favorites. They've got homefield throughout, they have two weeks to rest their starters and they can score on anyone. One bad week against the Chiefs does not a 15-1 team unseat. Their defense isn't great, but few teams do have a good defense and if they matchup against New Orleans in the NFC Championship Game, it's going down at Lambeau Field.

4. Who're the most dangerous non-playoff teams in 2012?
Eagles, Panthers and Chargers for me. The Snooze Buttons finished 8-8 and if they'd had a full offseason, they might have won the NFC East. Their dominant defense down the stretch is reason for optimism if you're an Eagles fan. Carolina needs defense, but they suffered an insane amount of injury-related attrition in 2011 and if they draft all defense and get healthy, they can contend in the NFC South. Plus: Cam Newton. And the Bolts showed this year they could be as good as playoff teams but just made stupid mistakes. A new coach could clear those problems up.

5. Any chance Jerry Jones changes his mind on Jason Garrett?
Jones has been incredibly supportive of Garrett so probably not. But someone's taking the fall for the Cowboys not making the playoffs and the best guess here is that it's Rob Ryan. He runs his mouth constantly and his defense doesn't back up all the talk -- their secondary got absolutely shredded by Eli Manning right after they got back into the game Sunday night.

6. What is Stevie Johnson thinking with his celebrations?

He's not thinking, actually. Johnson's scheduled to be a free agent in what's a really, really deep wide receiver class in 2012 and reportedly wants $7.5 million. The only problem is he's now developed a stigma for dropping really important catches and oftentimes costing his teams 15 yards with penalties like he did on Sunday. Wishing everyone "Happy New Years!" is a cool thing to do ... when it's not bad for your job and you're looking for a raise. Johnson's one of the most fun and interesting guys in the NFL but he has to be smarter than that.

7. How smart do the Steelers look for that Santonio Holmes trade now?
You don't even know the half of it. Not only did the dump a guy who's clearly a locker room distraction (Holmes) and not LaDainian Tomlinson-approved as a captain, but Pittsburgh allowed Mike Wallace to emerge as one of the best wideouts in the game and let someone else (the Jets) pick up the tab for Holmes' long-term deal. Oh, and in case you didn't know, they used the pick they got from the Jets to draft 2011 breakout wide receiver Antonio Brown

8. Should my team draft a running back early this year?
Negative, ghostrider, the pattern is full. Full of guys who weren't drafted in the first round leading the league in rushing anyway.

Player
2011 Rush Yards
2011 Rush YPG
2011 Rush TDs
2011 YPC
Year/Round/Pick
Maurice Jones-Drew
1,606 100.4 8 4.7 2006/2/60th
LeSean McCoy
1,309 87.3 17 4.8 2009/2/53rd
Arian Foster
1,224 94.2 10 4.4 2009/None/UFA
Frank Gore
1,211 75.7 8 4.3 2008/2/55
Ray Rice
1,173 78.2 10 4.4 2005/3/65

This doesn't mean teams should avoid drafting someone who's a special talent in college (see: Adrian Peterson) but there's a real sweet spot developing in the draft for undersized, pass-catching running backs (go ahead and add in Jamaal Charles too) who turn out to be a lot better than where they were drafted.

9. How's that Carson Palmer trade working out now?
Not so good. The Raiders could have arguably won the trade if they made the playoffs. All they had to do was beat a downtrodden Chargers team at home and they couldn't, so they miss the postseason and give up a first-round pick and a second-round pick to the Bengals (who made the playoffs, naturally). With Palmer, the Raiders were 6-4 and he threw 13 touchdowns and 16 picks. Whoops. Add in the fact that Hue Jackson just coached the most-penalized team in NFL history and he has some explaining to do.

10. Is Romeo Crennel the Chiefs next head coach?
Hard to imagine he's not. KC finished 6-9 on the season and two of those wins were with Crennel in charge; they also nearly beat Oakland in Week 16 too. Surely Scott Pioli thinks that with Crennel in charge this season and better injury luck the Chiefs would've won the division. He might be right, actually, and that's why Crennel will get the gig.

11. How many records did the Saints break on Sunday?
Eleventy billion or thereabouts. Brees and Sean Payton were basically rubber-stamping their signatures all over the NFL's offensive record books. They set the record for points scored in a season, most points scored at home in a season, most passing yards in a season (Brees' own record), best completion percentage in a season (again, Brees'), most completions in a season, most all-purpose yards in a single season (Darren Sproles owns it) and most receiving yards by a tight end in a season (only Rob Gronkowski broke that one a little while later). I can't confirm it, but I'm pretty sure the Saints broke the record for most broken records as well.

GIF O' THE WEEK

Bryan Braman is going to get fined for a helmet-to-helmet hit that he made ... without a helmet.

Worth 1,000 Words


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Posted on: January 1, 2012 12:26 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2012 1:01 pm
 

Casserly: Coughlin will return as Giants coach

Coughlin

By Josh Katzowitz

No matter which head coach loses tonight’s Giants-Cowboys game, neither Tom Coughlin nor Jason Garrett will have to worry about looking for a new job.

According to CBS Sports' Charley Casserly, Coughlin WILL be back next year as head coach entering the last year of his contract, though a decision has not been made on an extension.

It's a good bet that the Giants 29-14 win last week was one reason Giants ownership was convinced that Coughlin needs to be retained. And considering soon-to-be-former Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver said his biggest regret was firing Coughlin about a decade ago, that’s probably a good move by the Mara family.

Already this week, Dallas owner Jerry Jones said Garrett’s job is secure no matter what the score of today’s game is.

"We're just getting started with Jason," Jones said. "It's just not the case at all. Nobody is worried about the coach's job here. We'll answer this thing as many ways as you want to answer it with as many circumstances, his job has no bearing and is not a part of this ballgame.”


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Posted on: December 30, 2011 4:32 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2011 8:18 pm
 

Jones: Romo 'full strength,' Garrett's job secure

Jerry Jones says Jason Garrett's not going anywhere. (Getty Images)
By Eye on Football staff

Much has been made about the possibility that Jerry Jones could bail on first-year Cowboys coach Jason Garrett if Dallas misses the playoffs, primarily because of the notable and numerous fourth-quarter collapses the Cowboys suffered this year.

However, our own Mike Freeman wrote Friday that there's a "zero percent" chance Garrett's fired, and he's not alone: Jones called the notion that he'd fire Garrett "ridiculous" regardless of the outcome of Sunday's NFC East championship game.

And since Jones is looking into his crystal ball, he's also ready to tell Cowboys fans this: not only will Tony Romo play Sunday, but he'll be 100 percent when he takes the field.

"He's going to be playing at full strength," Jones said on KRLD-FM Friday morning (via ESPN Dallas). "It's just a very big-time feel-good to know that we're going to be going in with this kind of quarterbacking. He's had an outstanding year. He's a top, top quarterback and he's got a good team around him. In my belief, a very good team around him, so the stage is set for us to play well in a big game."

Though Romo, who's listed as probable on this week's injury report, wore a wrap on his injured hand during practice Friday, ESPN Dallas reports that he likel won't wear any protection on his throwing hand Sunday, because the swelling has decreased.

"Romo is where we had dreamed that he would be and hoped he would be relative to after his injury last week," Jones said. "So I feel good there. It should be even better by Sunday night and he's getting good work in."

He feels the same way about his head coach. As in, Garrett is getting in good work and that he's not going anywhere.

"That's just ridiculous. We're just getting started with Jason," Jerry Jones said on 105.3 FM, per Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. "It's just not the case at all. Nobody is worried about the coach's job here. We'll answer this thing as many ways as you want to answer it with as many circumstances, his job has no bearing and is not a part of this ballgame.

"Yes, he's going to be our coach next year period no matter what the score is."


This isn't the first time Jones has gotten Garrett's back; two weeks ago, Jones said Garrett wasn't on the hot seat.

But Jerry's also said that not making the playoffs would be a "real serious career disappointment" given the way Romo's played in 2011. And Jerry also pulled a much-criticized move when he rolled down to the sidelines against Philly on Christmas Eve to inform Garrett that the game underway had been rendered meaningless.

(For my money, if you own an NFL team and preside as GM and the guy you're paying a lot of money to play quarterback gets hurt and the outcome of the game is rendered irrelevant, you can communicate with your coach in any manner you want. Call, write, send a carrier pigeon, record a message on the Cowboys Stadium Jumbotron. Whatever. It's your cash.)

Some folks believe Jones would consider taking a different route if Jeff Fisher is readily available and willing to come to Dallas, but does that really accomplish what Jerry wants (read: stability and success) in 2012? Because it might not.

Garrett's made some serious gaffes this year, as I've noted, but he's also coached great games at times, and he's arguably just a few fourth-quarter miscues from having the Cowboys well over 10 wins.

If Jones believes he's the long-term answer as a head coach -- and he clearly does -- then he can't bail on Garrett after just one year. Which is precisely why he won't.


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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