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Tag:Carson Palmer
Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:01 am
Edited on: December 13, 2011 12:47 pm
 

Coach Killers, Week 14: DeAngelo Hall is a statue

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

DeAngelo Hall, Redskins

Back in Week 11, DeAngelo Hall suggested that the Redskins should cut him for his performance against the Cowboys. They didn't, but it sure seemed like he wasn't on the field for long stretches Sunday when Washington faced New England. And the few times he did make his presence known, it just made things worse.

The lowlight (in a day filled with them) came in the first quarter when Hall stood by (literally, he was standing two feet away and didn't move; it was as if he was trying to will himself invisible) as two teammates tried unsuccessfully to bring down Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (it was scene straight out of Gulliver's Travels). So instead of a 12-yard gain, Gronkowski rumbled for an extra 35 yards before Hall thought it wise to try to keep Gronkowski out of the end zone.

You can see the frame-by-frame hijinks here (or watch the moving-pictures proof below).


Want to see DeAngelo Hall pretend to be a statue? Then watch the video. It looks a lot like the freeze-frame above except that everybody else is moving. 

"DeAngelo Hall was guilty of poor effort, poor judgment and poor leadership," the Washington Post's Mike Jones wrote Monday. "[On the Gronkowski play] Hall said he thought the tight end was headed out of bounds, and maybe he didn’t want to get a penalty, but even a shove — not a head of steam blast -- could’ve helped. Instead, Hall turned and walked away."

It gets better. In the third quarter, Hall was flagged for holding, he disagreed, and thought it made sense to chuck the penalty flag up the field. He was flagged an additional 15 yards for being a d-bag. In one play, Hall had cost his team 20 yards of field position (and 35 more yards on the Gronkowski mishap). DeAngelo Hall: Your Washington Redskins team captain, everybody!

Ryan Succop, Chiefs

Kansas City isn't 5-8 because of kicker Ryan Succop. And Todd Haley wasn't kindly asked to leave Monday because of Ryan Succop. But what we're about to show you from Sunday's Chiefs-Jets game serves as a metaphor for Kansas City's season, which makes you want to laugh, cry and punch yourself in the face all at once.


Chiefs' kicker Ryan Succop failed in his onside kick attempt in the fourth quarter against the Jets. Was this the worst onside kick attempt ever? (Editor's note: unequivocally, YES.)

So that happened. To Succop's credit, he's the team's most consistent scoring threat this season, converting 18 of 21 field goal attempts, including 3 for 3 from beyond 49 yards. It's just that he struggles with distance control, particularly from 0-10 yards.

Silver lining: it's no longer your problem, Todd Haley!

Olindo Mare, Panthers

When Mare honked a 31-yard game-winning field goal in October, we gave him a pass because Cam Newton told us to.

“Whoever thinks this game came down the last possession is a fool,” Newton said at the time. “Offensively and defensively we had opportunities and we just didn’t finish it off.”

Week 14 Recap
Fair enough, and certainly wise words from the franchise's rookie quarterback. First-year head coach Ron Rivera also tried to be positive after Mare yipped the chip shot.

“The only thing I did for Olindo was I went and told him to keep his head up,” Rivera said. “He’s a heck of a football player and he’s going to get a chance to win football games for us and I believe that. We brought him in for a reason because we believe he can be our guy for the next few years.”

Yeah, about that…

The Panthers trailed the Falcons 24-23 with five minutes to go and the only thing between them and the lead was a 36-yard field goal. Again, a chip shot. Except that again, Mare somehow missed it.

"I haven't seen it. I don't need to see it. It didn't go in," Mare said, standing in front of his locker 45 minutes after the game. "Regardless of how good I think I hit it or how windy it was or whatever ... I've made kicks in windier conditions. I have no excuses. The only excuse is I just didn't do my job."

Rivera, presumably uninterested in pep talks, instead said "we will have to sit down and visit with him on [the miss]."

Worth pointing out: the Panthers led 23-7 before letting the Falcons back in the game. If Newton's “Whoever thinks this game came down the last possession is a fool" speech was ever relevant it was Sunday. It doesn't change Mare's failures, but it could be worse: he could be Ryan Succop (though Succop will probably have a job next week).

The Panthers signed Mare to a four-year $12-million deal before the season. Just a hunch: Mare isn't around for the life of the contract.

Carson Palmer, Raiders

Maybe Palmer wishes he stayed on the couch.
After Sunday's 1 o'clock games, we had Colts quarterback Dan Orlovsky penciled in here. His rough outing against the Ravens wasn't unexpected (in fact, he thought he'd play worse), but the loss dropped Indy to 0-13, and Orlovsky, who started seven games for the Lions in 2008, ran his career record to 0-9. (Detroit, you may recall, went 0-16.)

But Carson Palmer's performance against the Packers guaranteed him a spot in this week's Killers. Green Bay's defense forced Palmer into four interceptions, including one on the opening drive and another in the Packers' end zone. This is the same Green Bay defense, by the way, that ranks 24th in the league, according to Football Outsiders, and headed into Week 14 having allowed more total yards than that hapless bunch in New England.

Palmer, who the Raiders acquired after sending a couple high-round picks to the Bengals earlier this season, has been a disappointment. In seven games (six starts), he has nine touchdowns, 13 interceptions and Oakland is 3-4.

Sunday's loss not only put them a game behind the Broncos in the AFC West, it dropped them to ninth in the wild-card hunt (behind the Titans and Bengals).

"I just need to be more patient, take what they give me and try not to score 14 points on one drive," Palmer said after the game, according to the Oakland Tribune. "Take it one play at a time, take the shot if it's there, and if not, live for the next down, and I didn't do that."

No, no you didn't. Raiders head coach Hue Jackson, the man who orchestrated the Palmer trade, obviously has a lot riding on this.

"I'm disappointed in the four picks, and I told him so," Jackson said. "I think you have somebody who's pressing, trying to make plays for a football team. There were times we made some ill-advised throws and we've got to do a better job of taking care of the ball, and he knows that."

The Raiders are long shots to make the playoffs. They face Detroit, Kansas City and San Diego and there's no telling which team shows up. They're just as likely to go 3-0 as 0-3.

Marion Barber, Bears

The Power of Tebow compelled Barber to fumble.
Poor Marion Barber. He seems like a hard worker and a solid dude but he was in the wrong place at the wrong time -- twice -- Sunday against the Broncos.

We watched in horror as Barber ran out of bounds with 1:55 left in the fourth quarter and the Bears leading 10-7. Denver was out of timeouts; if Barber goes down in the field of play, the clock continues to run, Chicago runs the ball again on third down, and by the time the Broncos get the ball back, they'd have about 25 seconds to get into field-goal range.

Didn't happen.

(Aside: In the 1986 World Cup, Argentina's Diego Maradona scored a goal against England on an obvious hand ball -- well, it was obvious to everyone but the officials. It became known as "The Hand of God" goal. Different circumstances Sunday, but we're pretty sure The Hand of God played a part in the outcome.)

Barber is a seven-year veteran who knows that you have to stay inbounds. And yet he didn't. Our theory: The Hand of God pushed him out of bounds. And it was the Hand of God that knocked the ball out of Barber's arms in overtime, just as it looked like he was about to break off a big run -- maybe even a touchdown -- and end the Broncos' six-game winning streak.

It sounds ridiculous, we know. But there is no rational explanation for what happened Sunday. Or for the five Sundays before that. But that's the Power of Tebow.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 7, 2011 2:28 pm
 

Keep an Eye on: Week 14's finer points

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



Broncos vs. Bears
Perhaps after this Sunday’s game, Tim Tebow can help Bears right tackle Lance Louis pray for quicker feet. After seemingly stabilizing Chicago’s nightmarish right tackle situation over the past month, Louis, a converted guard, completely fell apart in the loss to Kansas City. He was culpable for most of Kansas City’s seven sacks and also had a holding penalty just outside his own goal-line. It was a performance that would have made even Winston Justice circa 2007 cringe.


It’s not like the Chiefs did anything complex against Louis, either. They didn’t stunt defenders near him or feign blitzes in his gaps. They simply lined players up mano-a-mano and won (Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and even lowly Tyson Jackson all got through; by the fourth quarter, Romeo Crennel was putting players on waiting list for reps at left defensive end/outside linebacker).

Things won’t get much easier for Louis this week. His Bears travel to Mile High, where they’ll meet rookie Von Miller, the AFC’s answer to Clay Matthews (assuming Miller returns from the thumb injury that sidelined him against Minnesota). Miller, in fact, has an even better burst than Matthews.

If Miller is unavailable, the matchup in the trenches will be more even but still tilted in Denver’s favor. The Broncos have gotten great play out of their defensive line in recent weeks, particularly inside with active tackles Broderick Bunkley, Marcus Thomas and, on passing downs, Ryan McBean. These three cause congestion that allows the speed of Miller, D.J. Williams, Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers to flourish.

Even with adequate pass-rushing resources, the Broncos are willing to manufacture pressure through design. They blitz Brian Dawkins a few times each game and, on some occasions, have surprised offenses by bringing Miller from the inside. At times, execution and assignment identification have been problematic for the Bears O-line. The Broncos will be eager to exploit that.

Packers vs. Raiders
The Raiders traded a bounty for Carson Palmer so that they could get away from the elementary, run-only offensive gameplans they used early in the year with Jason Campbell. Aside from a putrid outing at Miami last week, where Palmer played jittery in the pocket because of a justified lack of trust in his protection, the ex-Bengal has been much better than his numbers suggest.

That said, the Raiders need to return to a ground-only approach when they travel to Green Bay this Sunday. Their only chance to win the game is to shorten it. For the last two weeks, we’ve focused on how a quality four-man pass-rush in front of good, aggressive coverage could give a defense a chance to stop Aaron Rodgers.

Well, the last two weeks, Rodgers & Co. have had no trouble against the Lions and Giants, owners of arguably the two best four-man pass-rushes in football. It’s wishful to think that the Raiders’ front line, which is remarkably powerful but deprived of genuine edge speed, can dictate the action this Sunday.

It might be wishful to think the same thing about Oakland’s offensive line. That unit, even with frequently used sixth blocker Stephon Heyer, was unable to move Miami’s three-man front last Sunday. But ground-in-pound is Oakland’s best bet against the Pack. And last week was likely an aberration. The Raiders are athletic on the left side up front with tackle Jared Veldheer capable of exploding at the second level and guard Stefan Wisniewski possessing intriguing short-area mobility.

And they have a workhorse in Michael Bush. He was methodical and effective three weeks ago against the stingy Vikings, rushing for 109 yards on 30 carries. The week before, he toted the rock 30 times for 157 yards at San Diego.

The Packers front line is hard to move; B.J. Raji is a beast, and Ryan Pickett and backup Howard Green have nose tackle size at the end positions. But if you CAN move them, you’ll also move the clock. That, along with great special teams (which the Raiders have) might – MIGHT – be enough to sorta maybe kinda have some form of an outside shot at possibly coming close to beating the seemingly unbeatable Packers offense.

Ravens vs. Colts
For many fans, filling out the offensive line section of the Pro Bowl ballot can be challenging. Often it involves just clicking on whatever linemen hail from the best teams. If the running back is good, his offensive linemen must be good as well (so the thinking goes).

This is the kind of misguided logic that sends underachievers like Bryant McKinnie to Hawaii. (McKinnie made the Pro Bowl in 2009, even though he was benched at times down the stretch.)

McKinnie’s first season as a Raven has actually been much better than his last several seasons as a Viking. At 6’7”, 350-something pounds (give or take), the 10th-year veteran would not seem to be a great fit for Baltimore’s movement-oriented zone-blocking scheme. However, as it turns out, the zone-blocking scheme capitalizes on McKinnie’s natural size and also masks his timidity.

McKinnie’s built like a monster but plays like a milquetoast. He’s never exerted the explosive power or vicious hand-punch of an elite lineman. That’s been detrimental to his run-blocking. But in a system that has him move before making contact in the run game, McKinnie can get away with playing soft because his momentum, working with his sheer size, generates natural power. It’s physics.

Don’t vote McKinnie to this season’s Pro Bowl, though. DO, however, vote his teammate, Marshal Yanda. The 27-year-old right guard has drastically elevated his already-impressive game since signing a five-year, $32 million contract in July. In fact, lately, Yanda has been the best guard in all of football. He has great footwork and the rare ability to land multiple well-angled blocks on a single play.

As this week goes, he’s perfectly suited to dominate against a fast but undersized defense like Indy’s.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 14 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: November 23, 2011 9:11 pm
 

Palko, not Orton, will start for KC vs. Steelers

PalkoPosted by Josh Katzowitz

While the Chiefs made a big splash today claiming Kyle Orton off waivers, it’ll be an extra week before he’s officially Kansas City’s starting quarterback. As the Kansas City Star writes, Orton won’t be the one taking the snaps Sunday when the Chiefs meet Pittsburgh.

Instead, it'll be Tyler Palko once again.

Orton will try to get to Chiefs headquarters in time Thursday to take his physical, and assuming he passes, he most likely will practice with his new team. But since he’d be a day behind the NFL typical week of practice (Wednesday marks the first day) and trying to learn a new offense with new verbiage and signals, it’s unlikely he’d be prepared enough to take over the team’s reigns for Sunday.

It’s not unlike how the Raiders treated Carson Palmer after they traded for him, giving Kyle Boller the start in his place. In that case, Boller was terrible, and a desperate Hue Jackson inserted a clearly unprepared Palmer into the lineup in the second half and then rewarded his coach by throwing three horrendous-looking interceptions.

Considering the Raiders were actually playing the Chiefs that day, coach Todd Haley should remember how poorly that decision went for Jackson.

Haley didn’t talk to Palko about any upcoming changes for the Pittsburgh game.

“He didn’t tell me either way," Palko said. “He just said we’re going full speed ahead for Pittsburgh. I was in the huddle today calling plays and we have a really good plan. I’m fired up about it.”

Palko would like to atone for last Monday’s game when he threw three interceptions against the Patriots and took a 34-3 loss that dropped Kansas City to 4-6 and into a tie for last place in the AFC West. But with the addition of Orton, Kansas City obviously is still very serious about catching the 6-4 first-place Raiders to defend last year’s title.

And if Orton is the man who eventually takes over the starting job -- like, say, in Week 13 -- Palko will understand.

“This game is not for the faint of heart,’’ Palko said. “You can’t be sensitive. You can’t worry about things you can’t control. This is a bottom-line business. It’s about wins.’’

Orton has proven he can get them. Palko has not.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 7:30 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 7:34 pm
 

Keep an Eye on: Week 11's finer analysis

Why isn't Asomugha being used as a cover corner in Philly? (Getty Images)

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


Giants-Eagles
Notice to Eagles fans looking for things to gripe about (which has to be pretty much all Eagles fans at this point): forget about the wide-9 defense for now – your team has actually started to shy away from that in recent weeks. Instead, focus on the use of Nnamdi Asomugha. Your team paid an arm and a leg to acquire the league’s best cover corner not named Darrelle Revis. So far, that cover corner has spent roughly half the snaps defending the slot or playing dime linebacker.


Just because Asomugha came over from Oakland doesn’t mean he’s Charles Woodson. In Green Bay, Woodson has masterfully transformed from cover corner to rover. That’s because he has the fluidity and quickness to react and weave through traffic. Asomugha is not that brand of athlete. He’s an upright player whose physicality is expressed up high with jams and shoulder bumps, not down low with dives and snaking swipes. Furthermore, Asomugha’s brilliance in press coverage is in the way he uses the sideline. Obviously, you lose that element when operating in space.

It will be interesting to see how the Eagles use Asomugha Sunday night. He’ll have some trouble if forced to stay with Victor Cruz’s sharp change-of-directions in the slot. And Eli Manning will audible into plays that force Asomugha to be a tackler if he lines up as an underneath/flats defender in dime. The logical move would be to have Asomugha shadow Hakeem Nicks, thus taking away New York’s best receiver for the entire night. But ostensibly, logic does not apply to a team that buys a new Corvette only to use it for off-road towing.

Palmer actually got things going two weeks ago against the Broncos(Getty Images)

Raiders-Vikings
The Raiders have to be extremely encouraged by what they’ve seen from Carson Palmer. Most fans believe that the ex-Bengal’s breakout performance came last Thursday at San Diego (14/20, 299 yards, two touchdowns, one interception). But Palmer was actually quite impressive the previous week in his starting debut against the Broncos. Yes, he had three interceptions in that game. But one came in desperation garbage time and another was a good throw that Champ Bailey simply made a Champ Bailey-like play on. Palmer’s 32 non-intercepted passes that game yielded 332 yards and three touchdowns.

Stats, however, do not always tell the whole story. That’s why there’s film. Palmer has looked terrific on film. He’s moved well in the pocket, showing fundamentally sound footwork in sensing and sidestepping the rush. He has worked through his progressions elegantly, pushed the ball downfield with velocity and shown a willingness and ability to fire strikes through tight windows. It’s confident quarterbacking to a tee (or just about).

There’s a world of difference in the Raiders offense now. Their speed at wide receiver is actually paying dividends. A great way to capitalize on speed is to prolong the down and increase the number of receiving options on a play. The further downfield the wideouts can get and the more spread out everyone can align, the more space there is for the speedsters to attack. The Raiders could not attack that space with Jason Campbell – he was too cautious and too mechanical for them to even try. The opposite has been true with Palmer. And keep in mind, Palmer hasn’t even played with Darren McFadden yet.

Will the running game be a big part of these offenses going forward? (Getty Images)

Titans-Falcons
Both of these teams have had trouble finding their offensive identity this season. That’s surprising given that both were clearly run-oriented clubs the previous two years, and both entered this season with the same backfield personnel. Atlanta, however, got away from Michael Turner early in the season, going instead to more semi-spread concepts. Presumably, they were eager to play with their new toy, first-round pick Julio Jones. Offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey’s play-calling may have also been influenced by the fact that his team fell behind in some of those early games.

The Falcons, however, found themselves ill-prepared to play predominantly through the air. For one, they don’t have an offensive line that’s athletic enough to hold up for long stretches in pass protection. Secondly, the Falcons early on used simplistic route combinations with their wide receivers (perhaps to make life easier on the young Jones, though that’s an outsider’s speculation).

When Jones hurt his hamstring in Week 6, Atlanta returned to the heavy formations and ground-in-pound approach. They’ve averaged 149 yards per game on the ground since then, after averaging just 98.9 in Weeks 1-5.

The Titans were lost on the ground as well early on, though not because of a newfound predilection for passing. Instead, superstar running back Chris Johnson was, well, just plain bad. Johnson did not have his usual burst, quickness or acceleration. Had he gotten in the open field, we probably would have seen that his speed was gone, too. Tennessee’s blocking was not outstanding and the absence of suspended fullback Ahmard Hall hurt a little. But really, the problem was Johnson.

With backup Javon Ringer getting more snaps in recent weeks, Johnson has started to come back to life. He rushed for a season-high 130 yards against Carolina. But this year, everyone rushes for season highs against Carolina. The jury is still very much out on whether Johnson can regain the form that he lost during the league’s lockout and during his own personal lockout.

The Titans, fortunately, have managed to go 5-4 despite ranking dead last in rush offense. Shrewd pass route designs from new offensive coordinator Chris Palmer have manufactured some big plays through the air, though with no particularly dynamic receiving weapons, big aerial strikes can’t be heavily relied upon down the stretch. The Titans’ playoff hopes, just like the Falcons’, hinge on their once-great running game.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 11 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: November 11, 2011 1:40 pm
 

Podcast: Week 10 NFL preview, Oakland/San Diego

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Week 10's gotten started, thanks to Oakland's big win in San Diego, and we break down that game -- the return of Carson Palmer! -- before diving into Week 10's preview podcast.

Are the Bengals capable of upsetting the Steelers at home? Does anyone care about the Eagles-Cardinals game except for Kevin Kolb? Have the Bears improved enough on offense since losing to the Lions last time to move into a tie for second in the NFC North this week? Can we really bank on the Patriots losing three-straight games? Is Chad Ochocinco really the key to beating the Jets this week? Are the Giants overmatched heading out west against San Francisco?

All those questions answered, plus much, much more, below.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.

Posted on: November 11, 2011 12:03 am
Edited on: November 13, 2011 11:17 am
 

Old Carson shows up, looks great in Raiders win

Palmer was the best quarterback on the field Thursday night. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It's been 23 days since Carson Palmer hoisted himself off his couch to resume his football career. After nine months off, the first six quarters of Palmer's comeback were highlighted by indecisiveness, incompletions, sacks and interceptions (six of them to be exact). And then against the Chargers, it clicked.

Palmer missed on his first two throws then proceeded to connect on 13 consecutive passes, including two touchdowns to rookie Denarius Moore and completions of 41, 46, 33 and 55 yards. It was as if Palmer hopped in a time machine, set course for 2005, and that guy suited up for the Raiders Thursday night against the Chargers in a game Oakland would win 24-17.

Maybe Hue Jackson really does know what he's doing.

San Diego, meanwhile, continues to flounder, although their fourth straight loss had nothing to do with quarterback Philip Rivers. One of the league's best passers, Rivers admits that he hasn't played well this season. The 14 interceptions through eight weeks are a testament to that.

Against the Raiders, it was injuries along the offensive line that doomed San Diego's chances. Left tackle Marcus McNeill went down midway through the first quarter, which prompted NFL Network color analyst Mike Mayock to predict a long evening for McNeill's replacement, Brandyn Dombrowski --and by extension, Rivers.

"All day long Dombrowski is going to have trouble if he doesn't get some help. And at halftime they gotta get that kid some help," Mayock said.

Raiders linebacker Kamerion Wimbley had three first-half sacks, all coming against Dombrowski who did little to slow him up.

Despite all that, Rivers had the Chargers in position to tie the game late. Trailing 24-17 with just over three minutes to go and the ball on the Raiders' 42-yard line, Rivers threw a ball into the end zone looking for Vincent Jackson. Except Jackson appeared to lose the ball in the air. Safety Matt Giordano (who was replacing the injured Michael Huff) had no such trouble and came up with the interception.

Two plays later, the Chargers had a chance to get the ball back. Facing third and 11, Carson From the Past calmly stood tall in the pocket, before stepping up and finding tight end Kevin Boss over the middle … for a 24-yard gain.

San Diego got the ball back for one more series, with 1:04 on the clock. Rivers drove them to midfield and then, as if scripted, Wimbley sacked him on the penultimate play and Tommy Kelly sealed the Chargers' fate with another sack a snap later.

The six sacks are a season high for Oakland, who now sit atop the AFC West at 5-4. The Chargers, losers of four straight, fall to 4-5.

It's not an exaggeration to say that Palmer put on a clinic. And while his story of redemption makes for a swell After School Special about never giving up, the best offensive player for the Raiders Thursday was running back Michael Bush.

Oakland was without Darren McFadden for the second straight game and all Bush did was rush for 157 yards and haul in another 85 yards receiving. He softened up the Chargers' defense, made the Raiders' play-action passing game effective, and perhaps most important, kept Rivers off the field. (By the way, Bush's 242 yards from scrimmage is a new team record, surpassing Bo Jackson's mark of 235, set in 1987 against the Seahawks.)

After the game, Bush sounded thankful for the opportunity.

"You know, today, I think a lot of people doubted me. Darren's hurt -- he is a big part of our offense, and I miss him just like everybody else misses him -- but today the o-line did a great job, Carson did a great job, and coach called some great plays and we got a win," Bush said.

When NFL Network's Alex Flanagan asked Bush what he proved to his doubters, he said, "That's what they get. I laugh at them. I work hard just like every back in the league and I come out here and try to have fun."

We're only midway through the season but this game is a vindication of sorts for Jackson, who staked his reputation -- and the Raiders' future -- on Palmer. It took three games but Palmer looks legit and Jackson looks like a genius. How long it lasts remains to be seen, but for now Jackson has silenced his critics.

A month ago Palmer, in his words, was "hitting up Norv (Turner) for tickets to a game -- I was going to take my son." Now he's the quarteraback of the first-place Raiders.


Cris, Phil, and Warren go into overtime to complete their set of predictions for Week Ten. Watch a web-exclusive from SHOWTIME's Inside the NFL.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: November 10, 2011 6:20 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 11:39 pm
 

Jason Campbell will be ready if Raiders need him

Campell is targeting a December return, almost certainly in a backup role. (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

We've mentioned it before, but Jason Campbell must've been a despot in a previous life. Because no way a good and decent person would be subjected to the things Campbell has been subjected to since he was drafted by the Washington Redskins in 2005.

Whether it was sitting behind washed-up veterans Mark Brunell or Todd Collins, or the too-many-to-count offensive coordinators he's had in his seven seasons or, just when it appears everything is falling into place, the injuries that derailed any progress he might've made, Jason Campbell can't catch a break.

The latest injustice came in Week 6, after he suffered a broken collarbone. Raiders head coach Hue Jackson, eager to keep Oakland's momentum going, mortgaged future draft picks for a chance at landing a truly franchise quarterback.

The problem: Carson Palmer had been sitting comfortably on his couch for nine months, and the last time he resembled a franchise anything was 2006 with the Bengals, when he completed 62 percent of his passes (7.8 YPA), and threw 28 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. That was a year after he blew out his ACL (or more accurately: had it blown out for him), and two years before an elbow injury sapped his arm strength.

Campbell, Palmer and the Raiders

But Jackson sent a first- and second-round pick to Cincinnati for Palmer, and in six quarters he's thrown six interceptions, and the Raiders are 0-2. Not exactly how Jackson envisioned it.

That's where Campbell could come in. The team didn't place him on injured reserve, and he's targeting a December return, ostensibly as Palmer's backup.

"I don't rule out anything," Campbell said, according to NFL Network's Jason La Canfora. "I think the main thing is just focusing on getting my injury healthy, spending as much time and most of my effort into that. And I go to all the meetings, and all of that. I stay on it mentally. I can't do it physically at this point, and I know the free-agent market is coming in the offseason, and I feel very confident in that, too.

"I feel like I have proved myself as quarterback, and I feel like I've helped turn it around here in Oakland and got it going to the right direction, and we won and I helped us win here, and you never know what's going to happen, as far as playing this season. But I feel very confident in doing my part if things don't work out that way."

Campbell's a free agent after the season and there's virtually no chance the Raiders re-sign him. Owner Al Davis, who died in October, was Campbell's biggest fan but Jackson is without question a Palmer guy. The two know each from Palmer's days at USC, and Jackson was the Bengals' wide receiver coach while Palmer was there.

But here's the thing: before the collarbone injury Campbell was having his best season as an NFL quarterback. And Palmer has looked, well, like a guy who just got off his couch after taking nearly a year off.

According to Football Outsiders' quarterback efficiency metrics, this season Cambell ranked fourth in value-per-play behind Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Tony Romo. Palmer, meanwhile, ranks just ahead of Kyle Boller and behind the one and only Charlie Whitehurst.

It's still early in Palmer's return, and he's going to get better. Plus, Jackson has everything invested in the move; he won't reinstall Campbell as the starter when he's healthy no matter how much Palmer might be struggling. Which means, in all likelihood, that Campbell will be playing elsewhere in 2012.


Cris, Phil, and Warren go into overtime to complete their set of predictions for Week Ten. Watch a web-exclusive from SHOWTIME's Inside the NFL.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: November 10, 2011 11:36 am
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Second-half predictions

Green Bay is being predicted to win the Super Bowl (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

We’re halfway through the season, and since so few of my preseason predictions will come true (seriously?!? The Rams to win the NFC West? Chris Johnson as the comeback player?), I’ve decided to give it another go in hopes that I don’t have to bring my prediction machine into the shop for a tune-up.

Aside from our new, guaranteed to be true picks (you can also check out our CBS expert chat from Wednesday in that link), I’m going out on a limb with this Top Ten with a Twist and giving you 10 predictions that I know in my heart of hearts WILL happen the rest of the season.

Because the great thing about working for a national website, as opposed to a newspaper that gets filed into the recycling bin as soon as you’re done reading it, is that there’s no way anybody will ever know if your predictions turn out to be crap. Oh, wait …

10. The Bills will fall apart: One of the league’s most surprising teams -- though Fred Jackson says you shouldn’t have been THAT surprised by it -- played perhaps its worst game of the season against the wrong opponent last week, losing to the Jets at home and falling into a tie for first place in the AFC East with the Jets and Patriots. Buffalo has to play both teams once more, and though Buffalo should finish with a winning record, that won’t be enough to finish ahead of New England and New York and make the playoffs.

9. The Lions won’t: Detroit’s success hasn’t been nearly as surprising as Buffalo’s, but the fact Detroit is 6-2 through the first half of the season isn’t something we’re used to seeing. But the Lions are legitimately a playoff team. They’re third in the league in points scored -- that can happen when your former No. 1 pick stays healthy (so far) and your top-notch wide receiver scores touchdowns by the bushel. The Lions, even though Ndamukong Suh hasn’t been at his best, still maintain a top-10 defense. Though the second-half schedule is tough, Detroit has a good chance of knocking off Green Bay (the two teams play twice), and if the Lions can stay ahead of the Bears, one wild card spot will be waiting for them.

8. New England will right the ship: The Patriots, despite losing their past two games and looking bad in the process, should still make the playoffs. So, from that aspect, they’ll be good enough. Just not as good as they usually are. That’s because their defense is a major problem (Albert Haynesworth, you’ll recall, was on the roster for eight weeks), and it’s unclear how New England will fix it. But the offense is good enough to survive the second half of their schedule. They won’t get a first-round bye, and they probably won’t survive wild card weekend. So, the season basically will be an abject failure in New England’s eyes.

7. The Colts will win a game (or two): Indianapolis will not be the second team in NFL history to go 0-for-16 on the year. Already, they’ve lost four games by eight points or less, and yes, even though that 62-7 loss to the Saints was ridiculous, Indianapolis (and quarterback Curtis Painter) is good enough to win at least one. It could happen this week vs. the Jaguars at home or at Jacksonville in Week 17, and a win against the Panthers is not completely out of the question. The point is: a team that plays the Steelers to within three points isn’t the worst team in the history of the league. Even if the Colts are the last winless team in the NFL this season.

Sparano6. Jim Irsay will break Caldwell’s firing on Twitter: Irsay has to be my favorite NFL owner of all time, simply because he gets the power of social media. Sure, most of the time he’s tweeting obscure lyrics from Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut album or pretending to look for Brett Favre in Hattiesburg, Miss., but Caldwell also will be the first owner in history to break the news on his own Twitter account that he’s firing his coach. John Elway has been great on Twitter as well, but Elway also has a boss. That’s not a problem for Irsay.

5. Tony Sparano will last the season: I don’t know if Jim Caldwell will make it to the season’s end with the Colts, but I’m thinking Sparano will do exactly that. The team is still playing hard -- and how about the Dolphins beating the crap out of the Chiefs in Kansas City last week? -- and though the talent is lacking in that organization (how much can be blamed on the departed Bill Parcells?), they still believe in Sparano. If the Dolphins can pull of another couple wins, hopefully owner Stephen Ross will let him last through the season. After the emasculation Ross put him through in the offseason, Sparano deserves that much at least.

4. HGH testing won’t be around in 2011: We told you about a month ago that the NFL’s HGH testing was a go and that it very well could start within that week. That was quickly disputed by the NFLPA -- which claims that nobody has explained to the union exactly how the tests will be conducted -- and here we are, nearly a month later, and nothing has happened. As NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman, “We have an agreement to test for HGH. What we don't have an agreement on is the process and the protocol to implement the test.” Considering the glacial pace at which the two sides moved when the 2011 season was at stake, I don’t expect the league to start testing until next season. If then.

3. Carson Palmer will be better than average: That’s not exactly a high bar to jump over, but considering he wasn’t even that in his final seasons for the Bengals, this would be an improvement. Palmer had a rough outing in his first action, replacing Kyle Boller in the second half of the Chiefs game, but he showed some of the Palmer of old, throwing three touchdowns (and three more interceptions) in the loss to the Broncos. Will Palmer be worth the two high-round draft picks the Raiders gave to the Bengals for him? Probably not, but Palmer will keep the Raiders in the playoff hunt.

2. Wade Phillips will save Gary Kubiak’s job: The Texans defensive coordinator is well on his way to doing exactly that for Houston’s head coach. Because, at this very moment, the Texans defense is ranked No. 1 in the NFL. You remember what they were last year, right? No. 30. Hiring Phillips might be the best move Kubiak ever made, and Phillips is repaying him by recreating a defense that will lead Houston to the playoffs and keep Kubiak safely employed.

1. Packers will win Super Bowl: I mean, who else is there?

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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