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Tag:Buffalo Bills
Posted on: February 3, 2012 3:42 pm
 

Stevie Johnson: 'I'm done' with TD celebrations

Johnson plans on taking a more serious approach in 2012. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Stevie Johnson drew a lot of attention over the past two years with his touchdown celebrations, much of it unwanted. And as he heads towards an offseason that could see him become a free agent, those antics have to be concerning for teams interested in Johnson's service.

Except Johnson says that he's 'done' with touchdown celebrations moving forward, regardless of where he ends up playing.

"It could be a good thing or a bad thing," Johnson said when asked if teams would be worried. "But no matter what: I'm done with it. When I was doing my first couple seasons, I was just trying to be a relevant guy, you know? I think people are beginning to know who [No.] 13 is."

Really? Johnson's just going to quit coming up with random, quirky ways to draw attention to himself? Apparently so.

"Yeah, for real man," Johnson said. "Just thumbs ups. I'm going to still play with the confidence and swagger I have but thinking about what I'm doing next, I'm done with it."

The real question is whether or not Johnson will be in Buffalo. The wide receiver said he'd prefer to remain a Bill but understands the limited number of chances he'll have to cash in on a shot at the open market.

"I'm definitely hoping the Bills step up and we can connect on an agreement and I can play out my career in Buffalo," Johnson said. "But with free agency, you get this maybe once in your career so I'm gonna keep my options to all the teams and we'll go from there."

There's also a good chance Buffalo decides to utilize the franchise tag on Johnson; keeping him for an additional year and seeing if he can replicate his success from the previous two years wouldn't be all that cost prohibitive.

And while Johnson wouldn't prefer the franchise tag, he would be open to it.

"I'd definitely be open to that because I'd have another season in Buffalo," Johnson said. "But it's good and bad because it's only one season that I'd have. But if it has anything to do with signing in Buffalo I'm definitely interested in it."

Presuming that Johnson ends up sticking, he's making it sound like someone else will be asking why he's so serious.

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Posted on: February 2, 2012 2:26 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 2:33 am
 

Brady-Eli third QB rematch in Super Bowl history

Quarterback rematch? That doesn't bode well for Brady. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Fact: only twice before this year has a Super Bowl featured a rematch of quarterbacks. Eli Manning and Tom Brady will be the third such rematch, and it seems relevant to examine what kind of success the other guys had when they squared off the second time, in advance of Sunday's tilt.

Of course, we need to know who went head-to-head first. Terry Bradshaw of the Steelers and Roger Staubach of the Cowboys battled the first time, way back when the Super Bowl only got one Roman numeral (X). They met again in Super Bowl XIII. And Troy Aikman of the Cowboys met Jim Kelly of the Bills twice during the Fire Marshall Bill Halftime Era.

Full Super Bowl Coverage

If you know much about the NFL, you can make an educated guess as to how these sort of rematches play out for the guy who lost the first game. (A: Not well.) Bradshaw's one of only two quarterbacks with four Super Bowl wins; Joe Montana is the other. (Although a Brady win on Sunday would net him a fourth.)

And those Jim Kelly squads were great up until the "Big Game" -- four straight AFC Championships netted exactly zero Super Bowl wins. That, by the by, is a reminder of how fleeting these moments are, and why winning them matters more than anyone who doesn't play the game will every know.

Anyway, Super Bowl X took place on January 18, 1976 in Miami. Bradshaw's Steelers toppled the Cowboys 21-17. Bradshaw was nine of 19 (!) for 209 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Staubach was 15 of 24 for 204 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. The NFL presents a slightly different game these days, huh?

When they two matched up again three years later, Bradshaw was substantially more effective in his second win, going 17 of 30 for 318 yards, four touchdowns and one pick in a 35-31 win. Staubach was no slouch either, completing 17 of 30 passes too. He only threw for 228 yards but did have three teeters and a pick.

Aikman and Kelly squared off for the first time in Super Bowl XXVII, a 52-17 blowout for the Cowboys. (Michael Jackson performed both "Billie Jean" and "Black and White" at this game, which is equal parts awesome and ... aging.)

Kelly suffered an injury in this game, so Frank Reich led the Bills with 194 passing yards, one touchdown and a pick. Kelly threw two picks despite leaving early; the Bills coughed up an awkward nine turnovers in the loss. As you would imagine, that could have eliminated the need for the Cowboys to produce eye-popping stats, but Aikman threw for four touchdowns anyway.

When the two met a year later at the Georgia Dome, the result was different, but still the same. Aikman threw for 207 yards and no touchdowns, while Kelly produced 260 yards and zero touchdowns as well. A series of field goals and/or rushing touchdowns provided the scoring and neither quarterback was particularly effective, from a statistical sense.

So which direction does 2012 take? Logic (and a 55-point over/under in Vegas) says the former. Brady and Manning should see more success than Kelly and Aikman saw in their rematch.

Even though the Giants pass rush is ferocious, neither defense is absolutely elite, while both offenses are the definition of potent. Regardless, the short history of quarterback rematches in the Super Bowl doesn't exactly favor Brady. Then again, shattering NFL playoff trends isn't exactly something new for the Patriots signal caller.

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 10:58 am
Edited on: January 9, 2012 12:22 pm
 

Coach Killers, Week 17: Say no to team captains

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

With the regular season in the books, the coaching axe has fallen on several unfortunate souls around the league. Raheem Morris and Steve Spagnuolo joined Todd Haley, Tony Sparano and Jack Del Rio among the ranks of former head coaches now looking for jobs. We won't address them here. Instead, we'll look at those performances from the final week of the regular season that could cost still-employed coaches their gigs at some point in the future.

Santonio Holmes - Jets

Your New York Jets team captain, everybody!
A brief history: the Steelers traded Holmes to the Jets just before the 2010 NFL Draft for a fifth-round pick. At the time, Pittsburgh fans were apoplectic because Holmes had been a first-rounder in 2006, and oh, right, he was the Super Bowl MVP in February 2009.

To send him packing for what amounted to a draft-day afterthought was, well, insane. Turns out, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert is a lot smarter than any of us, just in case we needed reminding. Not only did he unload his problem on the Jets, that fifth-round pick he got in return? Colbert sent that to the Cardinals for cornerback Bryant McFadden and a sixth-round pick, which Pittsburgh used to take -- wait for it -- Antonio Brown. So, yes, things worked out just fine for the Steelers.

The Jets, meanwhile, are an unmitigated disaster. Head coach Rex Ryan named Holmes team captain in August, which might have been his most egregious coaching decision all year. (We don't say that lightly, though Ryan admitted at Monday's press conference that naming team captains was a mistake.) Everything came to a head Sunday in Miami, when Holmes was benched.

"Let's just say there were guys in the huddle that were unhappy with Tone's demeanor," veteran running back LaDainian Tomlinson said of Holmes after the game. "When you have a group that's fighting their butts off, and one guy, for whatever reason, their demeanor's not with them, you're going to get some guys to say something to him and tell them how they feel. That's what you got today."

Again: that's the Jets team captain. There's more (of course there is). On Monday, after Holmes refused to talk to the media, there were reports that he and Mark Sanchez "feuded" in a team meeting in the days leading up to the Dolphins game.

"He went back and forth with Mark at the meeting," the source told Gary Myers of the New York Daily News. "He was saying stuff like, "What am I even here for?" Then he blew off Mark by not even showing up the next day."

Another player called Holmes "a cancer" adding that "it's like dealing with a 10-year-old." And then, on Sunday, Holmes got into a shouting match with Sanchez in the huddle on two consecutive plays which prompted one player to tell him to "Go home, go to the sidelines."

As CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco pointed out Sunday, this is all Mike Tannebaum and Rex Ryan's doing. It's all fun and games until a grown man cries in an end-of-year team meeting. Then reality sets in. The Jets are a mess.

There is a bright spot to all this, however: Holmes' antics have temporarily taken the white-hot interrogation lamp off Sanchez.

Terence Newman - Cowboys

Head-coaching material? Jason Garrett thinks so.
The Ryan family had quite a day Sunday. Rex's Jets team self-destructed and Rob, the defensive coordinator in Dallas, did his part to make sure the Cowboys missed the playoffs. Cornerback Terence Newman wasn't the only issue against a Giants offense that moved the ball at will all night, but his performance was indicative of a larger problem facing this defense: it's not much of a defense at all.

Newman has probably played his last game in Dallas, something that almost happened during training camp. ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon recounts the weirdness:
It was quite a surreal scene: a giddy Jerry Jones handing defensive coordinator Rob Ryan his cellphone on the Alamodome sideline during practice, hoping Ryan could close the Cowboys' recruiting campaign on All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, a conversation that happened about 10 yards away from where Newman and the other defensive backs ran drills.
That worked out.

Now it's fair to ask if Ryan will be back, too. Like his brother, Rob is never at a loss for words. The difference: Rex has been to two AFC Championship games in the last three seasons. It's easier to tolerate the gum-flapping when the team is winning. Rob's claim to fame, as best we can tell, is that his dad is Buddy and that he once was a position coach under Bill Belichick.

Rob's career as a defensive coordinator includes stints with the Raiders (2004-2008), Browns (2009-2010) and Cowboys (2011). The results, according to Football Outsiders' metrics:

2004: 26th-ranked defense
2005: 20th
2006: 8th
2007: 22nd
2008: 19th
2009: 30th
2010: 17th
2011: 17th

Not the type of numbers that should lead to a lot of bluster. Yet Rob still talks. And he very well may have talked himself out of not only head-coaching opportunities in 2012, but maybe even another defensive coordinator's gig should the Cowboys decide to move on.

Steve Johnson - Bills

Oh, Stevie Johnson. You seem like such a well-meaning dude. It's just that you can't stay out of your own way. Johnson wasn't the reason the Bills blew a 21-point lead against the Patriots Sunday, but his inability to avoid silly end zone-celebration penalties defy common sense.

Johnson found his name on this list back in Week 12, when his Plaxico Burress "I just shot myself" interpretive touchdown dance was predictably flagged. It got worse: later in that game against the Jets, Johnson dropped what could've been the go-ahead touchdown. Here's what we wrote at the time: "Johnson's TD dance: hilarious. Getting a 15-yard penalty: not hilarious. Dropping a perfect pass from Fitzpatrick on the Bills' last drive, one that would've given the Bills the lead: unacceptable, especially if you're going to mock the opposition."

Gailey says he still wants Johnson back.
And here's what Johnson said at the time: "I was just having fun, and part of having fun ended up being a penalty and a touchdown for the Jets," he said. "It was a stupid decision by myself." Lesson learned, right? Uh, no. Johnson scored in the first quarter Sunday and pulled up his jersey to reveal the words "Happy New Year 2012!!!" scribbled on his t-shirt. About as benign a "celebration" we can think of but it's still a penalty.

On Sunday, Bills coach Chan Gailey benched Johnson for the rest of the game and Buffalo went on to lose, 49-21.

Here's Johnson afterwards:

"I didn’t know it was going to draw a penalty. At the end of the day, what I did was what I did, and I am going to try and bring in the New Year. Ultimately, it hurt my teammates and that is the thing that is hurting me the most. The fact is that it hurt my team.

"The coach told me I was out of the game. He said for the rest of the game and I have to respect his decision. He made it and that is what it is. I can’t complain about it or whine or pout. He made his decision and I am going with it. It really doesn’t matter why or how it happened at the end of the day, what I did hurt my teammates and I have to take that and I will."

Gailey pointed out that Johnson had relayed a message via t-shirt last year without incident, which makes the NFL rules on the matter unclear (shocking, we know).

"I am disappointed," Gaily said. "What happens is, it happened last year, he put a message on his shirt, showed his shirt and didn’t get a flag. And he does it this year, and he gets a flag. Which one is it, you know? It puts me in a bind because I make the statement and if I say it, I’m going to [punish players who hurt our team]. So, I could not argue the gray area of that. So, yeah, I’m disappointed and if it hurts the team, then I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do."

Defense - Raiders

Raiders head coach Hue Jackson is responsible for giving up a first- and second-round pick to land Carson Palmer and it blew up in his face. Yes, you can argue that the Raiders have Palmer going forward, but that wasn't a "looking to the future" transaction. The plan was for Oakland to make their playoff run now.

It didn't happen for any number of reasons, Palmer's play and an inconsistent defense among them. After Sunday's loss to the Chargers that eliminated the Raiders from the playoffs, Jackson told the media that he was "pissed at my team." (He should also be pissed at himself; now Oakland doesn't have a first-round pick in April.)

“I’m going to take a stronger hand in this whole team, in this whole organization,” Jackson said. “There ain’t no way that I’m going to feel like I feel today a year from now. I promise you that."

Duly noted, Hue. He wasn't done.

“There’s no question. Defensively, offensively and special teams. I ain’t feeling like this no more. This is a joke. To have a chance at home to beat a football team that is reeling after being beaten by Detroit, is one of your rivals, and come in and beat us like that . . . yeah, I’m going to take a hand in everything that goes on here.”

But it's the defense that appears to be the true focus of his ire.

"I think (defensive coordinator) Chuck (Bresnahan) knows how I feel,'' Jackson said while not commenting directly on Bresnahan's status for next season. "I'm disappointed over there. I have been. It's not like we haven't had conversations. Chuck knows what I feel, and it's not good enough.''

The Oakland Tribune's Jerry McDonald writes that the Raiders "ended the season allowing 433 points, the second most in franchise history, an average of 27.1 points per game. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers' three touchdown passes brought the total to 31 against the Raiders this season, the most in club history."

Too bad the Raiders can't address their defensive needs in the first round of the 2012 draft.

Tim Tebow - Broncos

Tebow makes back-to-back appearances in Coach Killers after taking an 11-week break while the Broncos went from 1-4 to 8-5. Last week we wrote "the big issue is if defenses have figured out how to stop Denver's option attack and whether the offense has an answer to it."

Yes, it appears so. Tebow was just 6 of 22 for 60 yards (0 TDs, 1 INT) but head coach John Fox says the passing woes don't fall solely on the quarterback. (No idea if Fox actually believes this.)

Has Tebow performed his last miracle?
"There's a lot of moving parts to the pass game," Fox told reporters Monday. "You've got protection, route, timing. You have to throw the ball sometimes to tight windows. We've had had our moments this season. We'll just continue to try to improve. It's not just the quarterback."

Fox continued: "He's trying to do the best he can to help us win. He had a little bit of a struggle yesterday throwing the ball. That happens sometimes. You have to give credit to the Kansas City Chiefs. They've got a pretty good defense. They made a pretty good Green Bay Packer offense have some struggles. We're onto next week and trying to get better."

And the Broncos will need to get better because they're facing one of the league's best defenses when the Steelers come to town.

Last week, Broncos executive vice president John Elway said that Tebow would be the team's quarterback in 2012.

"Tim Tebow's not going anywhere," Elway told the Associated Press. "I mean, he's going to be a Bronco and we're going to do everything we can and hopefully he's that guy."

That proclamation may have been written in pencil, however. On Monday, CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman had this: "While I'm sure Elway wasn't lying I'm told by several league and team officials that Elway continues to have significant concerns about whether or not Tebow can be a franchise quarterback despite Elway's public protestations to the contrary."

If the Broncos lose to the Steelers to drop their fourth game in a row we should expect those rumors to intensify.

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Posted on: January 1, 2012 4:52 pm
 

Video: Bills vs. Patriots recap


Tom Brady led the Patriots back from a three-touchdown deficit as they scored 49 straight points and clinched home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a 49-21 win over the Buffalo Bills. Don Criqui and Randy Cross have the recap. 

Posted by Ryan Wilson


Follow all the Week 17 action live: Inactives | Scoreboard

1 p.m. ET games:
DET-GB | TEN-HOU | IND-JAC | NYJ-MIA | CHI-MIN | BUF-NE | CAR-NO | WAS-PHI | SF-STL

4 p.m. ET games:
TB-ATL | BAL-CIN | PIT-CLE | SEA-ARI | KC-DEN | SD-OAK



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: January 1, 2012 1:39 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2012 1:54 pm
 

Stevie Johnson scores TD, gets penalty...again

Jeebus. Johnson was penalized for wishing others well. (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

Stop us if you've heard this before: Stevie Johnson, the Bills' explosive wide receiver and one of the best young players in the AFC, struggles to avoid silly penalties at critical points in important games. Earlier this season, he did the "Plaxico" touchdown dance against the Jets, which involved going to the ground after pretending to shoot himself in the leg. And he was promptly flagged for excessive celebration.

Against the Patriots Sunday, Johnson caught a first-quarter touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to give the Bills a 14-0 lead (Buffalo has scored again, and now lead 21-0 late in the first quarter). But that wasn't enough. Johnson pulled up his jersey to reveal a "Happy New Year!!!!" message on his shirt. Somehow, that's an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. 

Look, we get that commissioner Roger Goodell and the folks at league HQ want a sterile, staid NFL. But isn't this a tad much? (That's rhetorical. Of course it is.)

Anyway, it's not the first time Johnson has written personal messages on undershirts. He had a note for the Bengals and the self-proclaimed Dynamic Duo a year ago.)

Silver lining: if this whole NFL thing doesn't work out, Johnson has a future wearing sandwich boards.


Follow all the Week 17 action live: Inactives | Scoreboard

1 p.m. ET games:
DET-GB | TEN-HOU | IND-JAC | NYJ-MIA | CHI-MIN | BUF-NE | CAR-NO | WAS-PHI | SF-STL

4 p.m. ET games:
TB-ATL | BAL-CIN | PIT-CLE | SEA-ARI | KC-DEN | SD-OAK



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 30, 2011 4:57 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2011 4:58 pm
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Draft needs

A. Luck should be a No. 1 selection in next year's draft. Who will select him, though (US Presswire).

By Josh Katzowitz

As we enter the final weekend of the season, a number of squads are just playing out the string, hoping to put a solid performance on film, ready to clean out their lockers and look ahead to next year. While only four games on this week’s schedule mean absolutely nothing in terms of the postseason, quite a few of those teams are just looking to play spoiler.

And looking to the 2012 draft, where they can begin to rebuild their team or shore up that one position that could put them over the hump for next season. That’s why we’re taking the 10-worst teams in the league this year and finding one major flaw that needs to be fixed from April 26-28 in New York City’s Radio Music Hall.

For these teams -- and their fans -- the time has come to salivate at the prospects of landing the exact right guy that could change their fortunes for years to come.

10. Bills: Defensive line -- I didn’t like the Ryan Fitzpatrick $59 million extension earlier this year, and I hate it now. But I think Buffalo has other concerns for the moment, and they come on defense. For one, Buffalo has a tough time stopping the run. First-round pick Marcell Dareus has been a bit inconsistent at the nose tackle, but he also has the ability to play like a monster. The 3-4  ends, though, need to be better. Injured tackle Kyle Williams obviously will help when he returns next season, but the ability to rush the passer once in a while also would help (Buffalo’s 25 sacks ranks 30th in the league).

9. Dolphins: Quarterback -- Look, the Dolphins have some talent. They proved that when Tony Sparano’s job was on the line, and they started winning games. They proved it by nearly beating Tom Brady, and they proved it by nearly beating Tim Tebow (that last point was a joke). While Matt Moore has been much better than expected after taking over for Chad Henne, he’s a Band-Aid. I think most of us would agree that Henne isn’t the answer as the starter, and perhaps, he and Moore could have a battle to see who could back-up a legit starting quarterback. Reggie Bush established himself as a 1,000-yard rusher, and with a talented quarterback like Robert Griffin III (if he lasts that long in the draft), the Dolphins could begin pushing for AFC East crowns.

8. Browns: Pass rushers -- Cleveland got two defensive linemen early last year (tackle Phil Taylor in the first round and end Jabaal Sheard in the second), and they’ve done a nice job on the left side of the defensive line. But the defense ranks 25th in the league in sacks, and defensive end Jayme Mitchell hasn’t had a great season. Marcus Benard, coming off a solid rookie season last year, is on IR, and if the Browns could get one more high-end rusher in the draft, they’d have talent and depth.

7. Redskins: Quarterback -- It’s probably time for Mike Shanahan to come to the realization that his quarterback picks the past two years have been disastrous (Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman, John Beck). He said the other day that the rebuild of this franchise has taken more time than he thought, but a standout quarterback obviously would help that process along. Shanahan also said that there was no question in his mind that he’d be back next season, but unless he finds a way to invigorate his offense, that might be a different story this time next year.

6. Chiefs: Right tackle -- Looking across Kansas City’s depth chart, there’s not one position group that so obviously needs to be overhauled. The Chiefs have talent, even if some of those positions don’t have much depth. But right tackle Barry Richardson has badly struggled this season. According Pro Football Focus, Richardson is the worst-rated offensive tackle in the league (the decision to cut Jared Gaither near the end of the season was a bad one). Left tackle Branden Albert is solid, but the right side of the line needs to be reworked.

Minnesota's secondary has been a big concern this year (US Presswire).5. Buccaneers: Run defenders -- The Buccaneers tried to shore up their defensive end spots last draft, taking Adrian Clayborn in the first round and Da’Quan Bowers in the second round. Considering Tampa Bay ranks dead last in sacks, the experiment hasn’t paid off immediate dividends. But the Buccaneers are also terrible against the run, and even though tackle Albert Haynesworth has played better than most of us had a right to expect, there are still huge holes to fill in the lineup.

4. Vikings: Secondary -- The Vikings rank as the 31st-worst defense in the NFL, but in reality, their front seven has talent (for instance, Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Chad Greenway). Minnesota lost Antoine Winfield (its best corner) early in the year, Chris Cook has legal troubles, safety Jamarca  Sanford has struggled badly and the rest of the safeties have been ravaged by injuries. It’s no  wonder opposing quarterbacks dominate the Vikings defensive backs. On the season, Minnesota has recorded seven interceptions, worst in the NFL. The Vikings need to find somebody who can force turnovers in order to improve this unit.

3. Jaguars: Receivers – Oh, how they need receivers. Yes, Blaine Gabbert has been, by far, the worst rookie quarterback to play this year, but Jacksonville, even with new ownership and a new coach, probably needs to give him more than a season to see if he’s a quarterback of the future. He also needs somebody who can catch his passes. Here are Jacksonville’s top-three receivers: Mike Thomas, Jarret Dillard, and yeah, nobody else. In fact, there’s a good chance running back Maurice Jones-Drew will end up as the team’s leading pass-catcher this season. Hard to blame Gabbert completely when his receiving corps is so bad.

2. Colts: Running backs -- Assuming Peyton Manning returns healthy next season -- admittedly, a huge assumption -- his receivers should continue to be fine (this, of course, depends on what happens with free agents Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon). But we’ve seen this year that without a running game, a Manning-less Colts squad has very little chance of doing anything (mostly because Manning makes up for SO many team deficiencies). Joseph Addai, who’s averaging 3.8 yards per carry and probably won’t get to 500 rushing yards on the season for the second year in a row, might be released into free agency, and Donald Brown, while improved, isn’t a legit No. 1 running back. The Colts obviously have a big decision to make regarding Manning and Andrew Luck, but taking a running back probably wouldn’t be a bad idea.

1.Rams: Offensive linemen -- There’s been talk that maybe the Rams should grab Luck if they end up with the No. 1 pick. Which, with Sam Bradford on the team, would be ludicrous. Instead, St. Louis should be focused on how to put together an offensive line that doesn’t lead the league in sacks allowed. The biggest problem, not including injuries to Jason Smith and Jacob Bell that have hurt the unit, has been the line’s interior. Linemen aren’t the sexiest position, but damn, St. Louis needs to find some that can stay healthy and keep Bradford and Steven Jackson out of danger.

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Posted on: December 29, 2011 10:38 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 10:41 pm
 

Stevie Johnson, Bills far apart on new contract

Johnson

By Josh Katzowitz

Did you know that Stevie Johnson has been in the league for four years and is just now coming to the end of his rookie contract? You’d be forgiven if you thought that Johnson, through his sometimes-outlandish play and much-of-the-time-outlandish touchdown celebrations, had only been in the league for the past two seasons.

True, in his first two seasons, he combined to catch 12 passes for 112 yards, but he’s turned himself into one of the Bills most important players the past two years. He needs 36 yards in the season finale against the Patriots to go over 1,000 yards receiving for the second-straight year, and though his catches and touchdowns are down from a season ago, Johnson has put together the best two receiving seasons in Buffalo since Eric Moulds in 2004-05.

That’s why it’s not surprising that WGR 550 in Buffalo (H/T to PFT) is reporting that Johnson asked for an annual salary of $7.5 million for between 4-5 years during his contract negotiations with the Bills. Which could be one reason why, according to the radio station, that Buffalo hasn’t made him an offer for the past month. When the two sides met in September, they were apparently about $2 million apart in annual compensation.

What Stevie wants
"We were approached to do a deal prior to the season starting," C.J. Laboy, Johnson’s agent told the station. "When it became clear that the two sides were too far apart, we agreed that it would be best to shelve negotiations and allow Stevie to focus on the season. Stevie never wanted his contract status to be a distraction to him or his teammates. At that time, the Bills turned their focus on getting Ryan [Fitzpatrick]’s contract done, which they ultimately did. A week or so after Ryan’s deal was done, the Bills wanted to re-open negotiations, but when it quickly became apparent that we wouldn’t be able to get a deal done, Stevie decided that it was best to wait until the end of the year before talking about his contract again."

There has been talk that the Bills, instead of inking Johnson to a long-term deal, will franchise-tag him instead. After all, running back Fred Jackson also is in want of a new deal.

As the Buffalo News wrote early this month, “The time to get him at under market value was August or September, or maybe even immediately after quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick signed his contract extension on Oct. 29. Early in the season, a player in his contract year still has some motivation to strike an under-market deal, because he's getting security in the event of a serious injury during the season. …

“Does that mean Johnson is gone? Not necessarily. The Bills still have the franchise tag in their pocket. They could use it on Johnson if no extension can be worked out between now and February. The franchise tag would guarantee Johnson about $9.5 million in 2012 on a one-year deal.

Otherwise, Johnson would walk onto the open free agent market, where he probably could get that $7.5 million a year. While he’s not the best receiver in the game and most likely not in the top-10 -- and probably not worth as much money as he wants -- he’s a proven playmaker with an exciting personality. If the Bills can’t make the deal, somebody surely would be more than happy to do it for them.

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Posted on: December 28, 2011 12:08 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2011 1:34 pm
 

Eye on Football NFL Awards: Week 16



Posted by Will Brinson

Every week, our NFL experts will hand out the Eye on Football hardware to the best of the best from the NFL week that was.

Week 16 NFL Awards
Expert Offense Defense STeams Coach
Freeman  Brees  Byrd Janikowski Schwartz
Judge  Brees  Grant  Akers Coughlin
Prisco Rodgers  JPP Seymour Coughlin
Brinson  Brees  Bills  Akers Coughlin
Katzowitz  Cruz  Mayo Seymour Coughlin
Wilson  Brees  Bills Janikowski Coughlin
One. More. Week. It's terrifying, isn't it? Anyway, before we get to that, let's hit up the (slightly delayed) Week 16 Eye on Football Awards.

On offense, only one voter steered away from record-breaker Drew Brees and there's definitely an argument for Aaron Rodgers. But Brees breaking Dan Marino's record for passing yards in a season gave him the nod for the Eye on Offense Award.

On defense, the Bills defense as a whole picked up the Eye on Defense Award thanks to their evisceration of Tim Tebow and the Broncos.

Another record-breaker, David Akers, gets the nod for the Eye on Special Teams Award based on a tiebreaker in a three-way race with a pair of Raiders.

And Tom Coughlin nearly got the clean sweep for the Eye on Coaching Award with the way he handled his business against the Jets.

Leave your votes in the comments below or scream angrily at us on Twitter @EyeOnNFL.

Eye on Offense Award
Mike Freeman Clark Judge
Drew Brees Drew Brees, QB, Saints
Don't like how the Saints did it but Brees still deserves credit for reaching it. The record is more about perserverance than anything else. Brees was told he'd never make it this far. He wasn't good enough. He's too short. His arm is weak and he proved so many people wrong. That's the best part of this story.
Drew BreesDrew Brees, QB, Saints
It's not the four touchdowns or the lopsided defeat of Atlanta that puts him here. It's breaking Dan Marino's record for single-season yardage. It took someone 27 years to make it. The least we can do is acknowledge him with this award.
Pete Prisco Will Brinson
Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
Rodgers throws five touchdown passes against the Bears to lock up home-field advantage in the playoffs and get the No. 1 NFC seed for the Packers. Can we give him this award every week?
Drew BreesDrew Brees, QB, Saints
Didn't particularly like the way the Saints gunned for or celebrated the record, but that's on Sean Payton and Brees, and if the Falcons wanted to stop them, they should have. So give Brees his due credit for walking down one of the hardest-to-break records in sports.
Josh Katzowitz Ryan Wilson
Victor CruzVictor Cruz, WR, Giants
Cruz talked trash before Saturday’s Jets game and then backed it up with a 99-yard touchdown reception that was a marvel? It’s hard to believe that last season, Cruz was not even supposed to make the team. Now, he's one of the most exciting receivers in the game.
Drew Brees Drew Brees, QB, Saints
Brees broke Dan Marino's 27-year-old passing record and was even accused of running up the score in the process. The accomplishment along with the whining from the Falcons makes him worthy of the honor.
Eye on Defense Award
Freeman Judge
Jairus ByrdJairus Byrd, S, Bills
The Buffalo defender returned a Tim Tebow pick 37 yards for a score in a Bills blowout. I'll go ahead and resist the temptation to do a Tebow joke here. It's just really too easy at this point.
Larry Grant Larry Grant, LB, 49ers
He starts for the injured Patrick Willis and finishes with 11 tackles, second best on the team. None, however, was more important than the last -- with Grant forcing a Tarvaris Jackson fumble that sealed a San Francisco victory and, in all likelihood, a first-round playoff bye.
Prisco Brinson
Jason Pierre-PaulJason Pierre-Paul, DE, Giants
Pierre-Paul had two sacks, three quarterback hits and four tackles. He was all over the field in the Giants victory over the Jets, which was critical to Coughlin's team staying alive for the playoffs.
Jairus ByrdBills DST
The Bills handed Tim Tebow his first-ever four-interception game and returned two of the picks to the house in a surprise beatdown of the Broncos. That they did it a week after giving up 200 rushing yards to Reggie Bush is all the more impressive/shocking.
Katzowitz Wilson
Jerod Mayo Jerod Mayo, LB, Patriots
As bad as the Pats defense has been this year, you have to give credit to Mayo for making a difference in New England’s comeback win against the Dolphins. Mayo recorded 13 tackles and his first two sacks of the season to keep the Patriots alive for a No. 1 AFC seed.
Chris Kelsay Chris Kelsey, LB, Bills
This goes to the Bills defense, which intercepted Tebow four times (including two pick-sixes), but Kelsay had two sacks and was in the Broncos backfield all day.

Eye on Special Teams Award
Freeman Judge
Sebastian JanikowskiSebastian Janikowski, K, Raiders
Kicked the game-winner against the Kansas City Chiefs to keep their postseason hopes alive. I remember when Janikowski was nothing but the source of fat jokes. Now he might be the best kicker in football.
David Akers David Akers, K, 49ers
Here's another guy who sets a single-season record, kicking 42 field goals ... with one game still to play. Akers had four in the 49ers' defeat of Seattle, with his last the game winner. I can't imagine where the 49ers would be without him. I know where Philadelphia is.
Prisco Brinson
Richard SeymourRichard Seymour, DL, Raiders
He blocked two field goals, including the potential game-winner on the final play of regulation against the Chiefs. Oakland won the game in overtime to keep their playoff chances alive.
Dan BaileyDavid Akers, K, 49ers
Andy Reid was off on Akers career -- the Eagles didn't want to pay the man and all he did was kick the most field goals in a single season in NFL history (42). The 49ers don't have the season they're having without Akers being so steady on the special teams end of things.
Katzowitz Wilson
Richard Seymour Richard Seymour, DL, Raiders
He was the Chiefs worst nightmare, blocking two field goals -- including the potential game-winner -- to keep Oakland in the hunt for a playoff berth and to eliminate KC. Even if his on-field temper gets him into trouble occassionally, the 11-year vet still has the ability to make big-time plays.
Sebastian Janikowski Sebastian Janikowski, K, Raiders
Janikowski's game-winner in overtime against the Chiefs kept the Raiders' playoff hopes alive and the kicker finally got his first Pro Bowl trip this week.

Eye on Coaching Award
Freeman Judge
Jim SchwartzJim Schwartz, HC, Lions
He exercized the ghosts of the pathetic Matt Millen by getting the Lions in the playoffs. It's quite the achievement by Schwartz in a surprisingly short amount of time.
Tom Coughlin Tom Coughlin, HC, Giants
After listening to Rex Ryan and the Jets talk all week, he and his club respond with a 29-14 defeat that puts them one win from the playoffs. Not only did Coughlin outlast the Jets, he survived a sideline collision that had him limping. The Giants take a cue from their coach: "No toughness, no championship."
Prisco Brinson
Tom CoughlinTom Coughlin, HC, Giants
With his team's season on the line, Coughlin led his team to a victory over the New York Jets. Coughlin has been good at getting his team ready for big games. He has another this week against the Cowboys.

Tom CoughlinTom Coughlin, HC, Giants
The only guy involved with New York football who refused to talk any trash this week? Coughlin. He let his team do the talking for him on the field, knocking around the Jets enough to create questions for Little Brother, and giving the Giants a shot at a division title and a playoff berth.
Katzowitz Wilson
Tom Coughlin Tom Coughlin, HC, Giants
Whether he’s on the hot seat or not, Coughlin still managed to keep his team level-headed in the face of a torrent of trash-talk from the Jets in a city rivalry game. The Giants just have to beat the Cowboys in order to take the NFC East title. It seems like people forget how good a coach Coughlin is, but on Saturday, he taught Rex Ryan a lesson.
Tom Coughlin Tom Coughlin, HC, Giants
He began the week by proclaiming that "talk is cheap" only to listen as various members of the Giants called out the Jets. The difference between them and Rex Ryan's squad? The Giants backed it up Saturday. And if they beat the Cowboys in Week 17 they'll win the division.
 
 
 
 
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