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Tag:jimmy Smith
Posted on: December 20, 2011 10:58 am
 

Coach Killers, Week 15: Max meets Aldon

Coach Killers is your weekly look around the league at those performances, decisions and "Wait, what did he just do?!" moments that put the guy in charge squarely on the ol' hot seat.

By Ryan Wilson

Max Starks - Steelers

To be fair to Max, the Steelers cut him during the summer, something about him being out of shape. And then, a month into the season, after it was abundantly clear that Jonathan Scott wasn't a capable NFL starting left tackle, Pittsburgh re-signed Starks, promptly inserted him into the lineup, and the offensive line immediately improved.

And given how well the Steelers had been playing in the two and a half months since Starks returned to the team, it's hard to quibble with one performance. But hey, that's what we do here.

Rookie Aldon Smith, a situational pass rusher at this stage of his career, treated Starks like a 350-pound rag doll Monday night. Any shortcomings along the offensive line are usually mitigated by Ben Roethlisberger's mobility in the pocket, but the Steelers quarterback was playing on bum ankle that so hobble him that we're pretty sure Tommy Maddox could've beat him in a foot race.


Aldon Smith puts on a clinic as he takes down Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger on 2.5 sacks Monday night, setting the 49ers' rookie record at 13 with two games left in the season.

Starks held his own in the first half, primarily because the close score meant that Pittsburgh's rushing attack was still part of the game plan. But after the 49ers went up 13-3 in the second half it was, as they say, on like Donkey Kong. To paraphrase Jon Gruden on Monday Night Football, if the game had gone on much longer, Smith would've earned a trip to Canton on that singular performance. (The only thing missing: the wind spring sack dance.)

A healthy Big Ben and a soft schedule over the final two weeks (Rams, at Browns) should mean more consistent play throughout the offense. Also not hurting: getting Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey back. He missed the 49ers game with a high-ankle sprain of his own.

Cary Williams, Jimmy Smith - Ravens

Heading into the season, the Ravens secondary -- particularly cornerback -- was thought to be a liability. Former practice-squad player Cary Williams has started 14 games this season and for the most part he's been solid. Against the Chargers, he spent the evening chasing after whichever target Philip Rivers just found wide open streaking across the field.

And you could argue Jimmy Smith's night was worse. Chargers head coach Norv Turner identified the rookie first-round pick as a target and Norv was true to his word. Rivers ended the night completing 74 percent of his throws for 270 yards and a touchdown. More than that: he wasn't touched all game. That's right, the team with more offensive line issues than the Steelers, and who were working on their third left tackle of the season, kept Rivers clean against one of the NFL's most ferocious pass rushes.

Put differently: Baltimore's shortcomings don't all fall to Williams and Smith. The front seven didn't do their job and if we really want to point fingers, Joe Flacco played like, well, crap. The lesson: don't take Tim Tebow's name in vain. Nothing good will come of it.

Stanford Routt, Rolando McClain, Raiders

Obviously, this honor should go to head coach Hue Jackson for his inexplicable decision to not triple and quadruple-team Calvin Johnson during the last drive of Sunday's game, one that proved to be the difference. (But this is 'Coach Killers.' Presumably, Jackson's into self-preservation even if his coaching decisions scream otherwise.) Instead, Jackson blamed execution not play-calling for Johnson getting open, even though one play call had linebacker Rolando McClain responsible for covering Johnson 40 yards down the field.

“Yeah, that’s called the Tampa-2," Jackson said. "That’s what the middle linebacker does — he runs right down the middle of the field. They made the play and we didn’t.”

We don't know much about football strategizing, but that seems like a recipe for losing.

Oakland likes to play a lot of man-to-man and cornerback Stanford Routt was burdened with covering Johnson for most of the game. He had a costly pass interference penalty that gave Detroit the ball at the Raiders six-yard line with 48 seconds to go. Wondering how that ended? Yep, a Matthew Stafford-to-Calvin Johnson touchdown pass in the back of the end zone. The goal post was the closet object in coverage on the play.


See how Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson led the Lions on a seven-play, 98-yard drive to defeat the Raiders in Oakland.

“It isn’t a scheme issue. The ball’s laying up in the air. You gotta go make that play. Their guy made it and we didn’t. So they won the game." Jackson said, according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Eric Gilmore.

Well, it is a scheme issue when the scheme doesn't have anyone in Johnson's vicinity.

Santonio Holmes - Jets

You have to wonder what goes through a player's mind when he makes the conscious decision to do something stupid. The Bills' Stevie Johnson had to know that as soon as he went to the ground during his "I shot myself in the leg" homage to Plaxico Burress touchdown dance in Week 12 that he was going to get a 15-yard excessive celebration penalty.

On Sunday, with the Jets trailing 28-9, Holmes finally held onto the ball long enough to get into the end zone (he already had a fumble and caused an interception by misplaying a Mark Sanchez pass).

Hand the ball to the official, head to the sidelines and try to figure out how get back in this game.

That should've been the thought that ran through Holmes' mind. Nope. Instead, he put the ball on the ground, stepped on it, and pretended to fly. Like an eagle. Um, yeah, using the ball as a prop? That's a 15-yard penalty.


Good news: Holmes scores. Bad news: he gets a stupid celebration penalty.

In the scheme of things it didn't matter; the Eagles blew the doors off the Jets and 15 yards here or there wasn't going to be the difference. But the penalty is symptomatic of something larger: Rex Ryan's inability to control his locker room. Holmes is a six-year veteran and a team captain. He's also one of New York's best players. But there's a chance he will be one of New York's best players sitting on the couch in January.

Ryan, for his part, nailed the role of the enabling parent.

“He apologized for that to me but I’ll say this about Santonio and every other player on this team: They have my 100 percent support and we’re in this thing together. … Are we perfect? No. None of us are perfect, but I'm just saying that you wish that thing never happened," Ryan said. "I don't think it will happen again, but again, I have his back, he has mine and this whole team is that way. We just have to come out and fight for each other, we know it was a mistake and we'll learn from it."

In two weeks, the Jets might have plenty of time to replay all the mistakes from the past season.

Marc Mariani - Titans

We were all set to blame Chris Johnson for the Titans' loss to the Colts, but pointing the finger at one of the league's worst running backs has become unoriginal 15 weeks into the season. And while Mariani had very little to do with Tennessee getting steamrolled by an 0-13 team, this play perfectly embodies the Titans' Sunday afternoon experience at Lucas Oil Stadium.

With the Colts leading 17-6, Mariani, Tennessee's return man, misplayed a kickoff in the end zone. No big deal -- it happens all the time … except that Mariani accidentally drop-kicked the ball out of bounds at about the six-inch line.

“I botched my responsibility,” Mariani said. “Their kicker (Pat McAfee) line-drived that one and I was trying to make a play, but it was all over the place and took an unbelievable bounce.”

The miscue proved to be harmless; the Titans gained a few first downs before eventually punting.

As for the real culprits Sunday, take your pick: Johnson (15 rushes, 55 yards); Matt Hasselbeck (a pick-six -- including the first interception by a Colts cornerback all season -- and another pick in the Colts end zone); Jared Cook (huge fumble in Indy territory); and the entire Titans defense for getting Donald Brown'd in the fourth quarter with Indy leading just 20-13. And perhaps more embarrassingly, giving Dan Orlovsky his first career victory. (Orolovsky had been 0-7 with the 2008 Lions and 0-2 with the Colts in 2011.)


Tennessee goes tackling-optional on Brown's 80-yard TD run.

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Posted on: July 24, 2011 12:11 am
Edited on: July 24, 2011 10:57 pm
 

Report: Eagles have interest in Brett Favre (!)



Posted by Ryan Wilson

You know, maybe Brett Favre's not the problem. Yes, he's made a mockery of the notion of a retirement press conference, and yes, he's brought a lot of this on himself by subsequent un-retirement press conferences. But when if finally seems as if he and his Wrangler jeans have moseyed off into the sunset, the media refuse to let him go.

The latest silliness: Howard Eskin of Philadelphia WIP, reported Saturday night that the "Eagles have some interest in Favre once they trade [Kevin] Kolb. Sources told me it's possible. Not sure what Favre thinks."

We don't know what Favre thinks either, but here's what he said last month about the prospects of returning to the NFL: “I don’t want to put my body through that anymore. I’ve been beat up enough.”

Favre has been known to say one thing and do another, but Favre's brother, Scott, has also weighed in on the matter, telling the Biloxi Sun Herald's Al Jones, "I would say there's less than a 1% chance (he would return). He is retired."

A few weeks ago, NFL.com's Gil Brandt, without speaking to Favre or anyone in Favre's camp, suggested that Favre still wants to play, in part because Favre offered to work with Cam Newton. (Yes, we're confused, too.)

We'll repeat what we said at the time: "We actually believe Favre when he said he's been beaten up enough. And if he gets a hankerin' for a comeback, we'd encourage him to watch these." 


It's also worth pointing out that one of Eskin's sources told him in June that Ravens coach John Harbaugh didn't want the team to draft cornerback Jimmy Smith. To quote Peter King: "That story about John Harbaugh not wanting Jimmy Smith? Wrong. Totally wrong."

Just something to keep in mind here as well.

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Posted on: June 16, 2011 10:00 am
Edited on: June 16, 2011 10:46 am
 

Report: John Harbaugh didn't want Jimmy Smith?

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It wasn't a surprise when the Ravens eventually selected troubled cornerback Jimmy Smith in the April draft. Baltimore needed secondary help, and conventional wisdom suggested that the Ravens locker room, led by Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, would keep Smith in line.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has an impressive track record of drafting winners, dating back to 1996, when he took Jonathan Ogden and Lewis. So you're willing to give Newsome the benefit of the doubt on Smith, even if you couldn't see the former Colorado cornerback through all the raised red flags.

Turns out, according to a report from Baltimore Sports Report, Ravens coach John Harbaugh didn't want Smith.

In a recent radio appearance with Ken Weinman and Vinny Cerrato (yep, same guy) on 105.7 The Fan, Philly radio personality Howard Eskin says he believes that all the confusion surrounding the Ravens' 26th pick (which ultimately turned into the 27th pick) was because Harbaugh was uncomfortable taking Smith.

“You know those background checks they do,” Eskin asked. ”Man, it didn’t come up pretty (on Smith). …

“Smith had problems — he was struggling with the character issues, he really was,” Eskin said. “And once the Eagles got past their place in the draft, I think there was communication between John (Harbaugh) and the Eagles people to try to find out a little about this guy because they know that the Eagles did look at him and I think he had some real reservations with that.”

This is all speculation at this point. Eskin admits that he hasn't talked to Harbaugh, although he presumably heard something somewhere. Plus, it's not unreasonable to think that Harbaugh -- or anyone in the Ravens organization -- had reservations about Smith. Leading up to the draft, many experts said that Smith had top-10 talent but the dreaded "character concerns" dropped him off many teams' draft board. Twenty-six teams passed on him, after all.

As PFT's Mike Florio points out, it's only a matter of time before the Ravens issue a statement denying Eskin's report because they're already invested in Smith. Unless Harbaugh can get his hands on a time machine, Smith is now his problem. Might as well make the best of it.

UPDATE: Peter King, via Twitter, refutes Eskin's comments: "That story about John Harbaugh not wanting Jimmy Smith? Wrong. Totally wrong."

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Posted on: May 4, 2011 2:04 pm
Edited on: May 4, 2011 2:05 pm
 

Hot Routes 5.4.11 Post-draft bragging

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit

Sydney Moss, star high school basketball player in Kentucky and daughter of Randy Moss, has made an oral commitment to the Florida Gators.

Less than a week after leaving Monday Night Football, sideline reporter Michelle Tafoya is joining Sunday Night Football.

Tashard Choice had a bin Laden tweet issue, as well. Unlike Rashard Mendenhall’s Choice’s was unintentional.

Tony Romo is once again trying to qualify for the US Open.

Redskins third-round pick Leonard Hankerson calls himself the best wide receiver in the draft.

And on a similar tiring note, Ravens first-round pick Jimmy Smith thinks he was the best cornerback in the draft. (And, of course, he also has naysayers he wants to prove wrong. Ironically, by boasting like this, the controversial Smith is so far proving his naysayers right.)

Free agent linebacker Kirk Morrison is open to a return to Jacksonville. (It’s a matter of whether the Jags want him.)

Andy Reid says Todd Herremans is unlikely to leave the left guard position. That means first-round rookie Danny Watkins will play on the right side. It’s very, very uncommon to see a first-round pick used on a right guard. Eagles had that need, though.

The Vikings still need a stadium site in order to push a bill for a new venue.


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Posted on: April 20, 2011 3:05 pm
 

Hot Routes 4.20.11 a time for hypotheticals

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit

Brandon Marshall thinks Ryan Mallett will be an All-Pro.

Norv Turner believes that being at home in three of the first four games will give the Chargers an opportunity to get off to a fast start (for a change).

Click here to see some sloppy touch screen analysis from Michael Irvin.

Ozzie Newsome says the Sergio Kindle story “is not written yet”. (True, but the first few chapters were sure bad.)

Based on 2010 records, the Carolina Panthers have the toughest 2011 schedule in the NFL. (Reason why: they don’t get to play the Carolina Panthers.)

Bengals season ticket holder Dr. Kim Brady will have the honor of announcing the team’s fourth round draft pick this year. (Expect it to be a player with some sort of criminal record.)


Film studying savant Greg Cosell says Jimmy Smith, not Patrick Peterson, is the best cornerback in this year’s draft.


Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News is incensed that NFL Films had Thursday Night Football’s Bob Papa audition for the play-by-play job he already has.


Cheerleaders aren’t locked out right now, which is why the Titans are holding a tryout next month.


Matt Hasselbeck talks about his status with the Seahawks (predictably, it hasn’t changed since before the lockout).


Michael Vick is visiting the Virginia Tech campus for the first time since his incarceration. (We’re gradually running out of “first time since prison” stories with this guy.)


Da’Quan Bowers says speculation about his knee is wrong.


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Posted on: April 12, 2011 2:03 pm
 

Hot Routes 4.12.11: Brady weeps ... over 'Idol'

Posted by Will Brinson



Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
  • Tom Brady, as you will see about 5,000* times over the next few hours, is going to cry on television soon. A certain four-letter sports network got him to weep on camera about his sixth-round selection back in 2000 and, well, it's a heart-wrenching story about how tough his life's been. Or maybe he just likes to cry a lot? After all, the gents over at Tauntr.com did happen to catch a montage of him sobbing over the recent booting of Pia from "American Idol."
  • According to Tim Leiweke, the CEO of AEG and therefore a primary investor in the downtown L.A. stadium effort, the NFL will "double" its rights fees in the next television contract negotiations. Yowza.
Posted on: March 31, 2011 1:48 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2011 6:55 pm
 

Offseason checkup: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Posted by Will Brinson

J. Freeman is the face of the Tampa Bay franchise (Getty).  

Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups. Also, check out our team-by-team podcast:





If you know anyone predicted that the Buccaneers would challenge for a divisional title and/or the playoffs, you should stop reading this immediately, buy that person a plane ticket to Las Vegas and go get your Biff Tannen on.

And even though Raheem Morris' Tampa Bay squad shocked the world, people still aren't ready to believe. That's okay, and probably a little fair until the success becomes consistent, and perhaps more, um, explicable. But sometimes wins aren't borne out by stats and Josh Freeman, an absolute star of a quarterback in the making, is a good sample of that. Freeman led the Bucs on several incredibly impressive fourth-quarter comebacks in 2010, and there's little question that he's the face of the franchise going forward.

All optimism aside, though, there's still plenty the Bucs need to address before going head-to-head against the Falcons and Saints seems like a fair fight.



Defensive line, secondary

Tampa Bay burned its first two 2010 picks on defensive tackles -- Gerald McCoy and Brian Price -- and it wouldn't be all that surprising to see the Bucs use some early selections on the defensive line again this year. Defensive end is a big need, and there's plenty of depth at the position heading into April's draft.

The secondary could be an issue for the Bucs, but it's really up in the air at the moment. That's because would-be-star cornerback Aqib Talib is dealing with "violence issues" that have manifested in the form of a "felony arrest warrant," and Tanard Jackson, suspended for substance abuse issues in 2010, is a total wild card. Ronde Barber's fine when it comes to behavior, but there's little chance he'll play after 2011.



1. Defensive end
After spending two early picks on the interior defensive line in 2010, it actually makes a ton of sense to also address the ends in 2011. And this is the perfect draft to do so with a pile of DE talent that should fall to the back end of the first round. Perhaps guys like Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan and Iowa's Adrian Clayborn would entice the Bucs.

2. Cornerback
It wouldn't seem all that prudent to suggest that the Bucs look for a "problem child" type of corner to beef up their secondary, but if someone like Jimmy Smith falls to them, they'd have to at least consider the move. (And, really, it's not fair to make any comparison with Smith's reported attitude problems and the legal issues for the current Bucs' secondary.) Alternately, don't be shocked to see them beef up the position's depth via later rounds.

3. Running Back

LeGarrette Blount had an absolutely fantastic season for Tampa (and he's blatantly going to be the guy who gets drafted too early in 2011 fantasy drafts) but there are still questions as to whether it was Tampa's scheme or Blount's skills that propelled his year. Even if it was the latter, the Bucs should look to build backfield depth in a year that's prime for doing so in the draft.



Its relatively easy to be bullish on the Bucs heading into 2011, but it's also important to remember that there is room for improvement and growth in Tampa, and with such room can come some growing pains. Of course, it's not terrible news that the draft sets up nicely in terms of depth versus need for this roster.

A repeat of 10 wins in 2011 might be a bit of a stretch, especially if Atlanta and New Orleans improve in the offseason. But discounting Morris' ability to motivate this team would be a foolish move, and there's good reason to expect continued improvement.

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Posted on: March 25, 2011 12:07 pm
Edited on: March 27, 2011 12:49 am
 

Offseason Checkup: Seattle Seahawks

Posted by Josh Katzowitz



Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups . Also, check out our checkup podcast:





The Seahawks were subjected to much ridicule when they became the first team in playoff history to enter with a losing record (for that, we can thank the incredibly weak NFC West – not to mention the Rams, who fell to the Seahawks in Week 17 in a game that would have allowed St. Louis to win the division with an 8-8 mark).

But then, Seattle immediately thumbed its nose – and indirectly taunted the Giants and Buccaneers, both of whom missed the playoffs with 10-6 records – at the NFL by beating New Orleans (we can talk all day about how Seattle had an unfair advantage by getting to host an 11-5 team, but Seattle outclassed the Saints big time).

Seattle was a weird team to observe last season. The Seahawks were either pretty good (wins against the Chargers and the Bears attest to that), or they were absolutely horrid (remember the 33-3 loss to the Raiders and the 41-7 defeat to the Giants in consecutive weeks?). I never really got a handle on which Seattle team was going to show up each week, and I still couldn’t tell you whether the Seahawks were a good team last year. I kind of lean toward no, though.




Future franchise QB, Too much change

Matt Hasselbeck could return for another season, and honestly, that wouldn’t be a terrible decision, because he was decent enough last year for a 35-year-old quarterback. But his backup Charlie Whitehurst – who the Seahawks traded for last season – simply has not proved he’s a quality starter, and while third-stringer J.P. Losman started in Buffalo, there’s a pretty good reason he’s not doing it there anymore.

It seemed like coach Pete Carroll has turned over the roster about 15 times since he took over as head coach, and he’s lost a few assistants. At some point, there needs to be some roster and staff consistency, doesn’t there?



1. Franchise QB
Could Philadelphia’s Kevin Kolb be that quarterback? The Seahawks would have to give up, at the very least, a first-round draft pick (and probably a mid-round pick as well) in order to trade the Eagles, but Kolb could very well be the guy to replace Hasselbeck. Emphasis on the word “could” because Kolb, as far as I’m concerned, still has much to prove as a starting QB. And if Seattle doesn’t get Kolb (and can’t re-sign the unrestricted free agent Hasselbeck), what the heck happen

2. Offensive consistency
wks fired offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates after just one season, probably because they averaged less than 300 yards of total offense per game and perhaps because they thought they could get Josh McDaniels to take that job. Instead, they hired former Vikings offensive coordinator Darren Bevell to replace Bates and former 49ers head coach Tom Cable as the OL coach. Maybe that will work. And if not, Carroll won’t have a problem looking for a replacement.

3. Cornerback help
Seattle allowed 11 passes of 40-plus yards last year, and though that wasn’t necessarily always the fault of the 30-year-old Marcus Trufant and the underwhelming Kelly Jennings, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Seattle takes a defensive back in the first round of the draft. The top-two CBs in the draft (Prince Amukamara and Patrick Patterson) surely won’t be around by the time the Seahawks pick at No. 25, but Colorado’s Jimmy Smith is a definite possibility.




For a playoff team, the Seahawks have soooooo much room to improve. RB Marshawn Lynch (who, you’ll recall, did this against the Saints) was serviceable after landing in the Pacific Northwest, and Seattle signed WR Mike Williams to a three-year extension near the end of the season. But the offensive line needs help (the team has used 15 (!) players on the left side of the line in the past three years), and the Seahawks could forgo a cornerback and draft a lineman in the first round.

That said, remember the Seahawks play in the weakest division in football. So, you could mark them down as favorites to win the NFC West, and you actually have a pretty good chance of being correct. But this team, like last year’s squad, could be very flawed. And it might not be very good.

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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