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Tag:Green Bay Packers
Posted on: January 19, 2012 11:00 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 11:01 pm
 

Is Matt Flynn a good fit for Redskins? It depends

Add Flynn's name to the list of possible future 'Skins quarterbacks. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

We've previously described the weeks and months between the last day of the Redskins season and the start of training camp as their offseason Super Bowl. It's become less a frenzied free-agent free-for-all under head coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen, but much in the same way an alcoholic is one drink away from an impending bender, Washington owner Dan Snyder seems one high-priced acquisition away from another make-believe offseason championship.

The Redskins head into the spring with dire needs at quarterback. This is the logical conclusion to turning the offense over to Rex Grossman and John Beck. The problem: while Washington was sufficiently awful, they weren't quite bad enough to position themselves for Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III -- not without giving up players or picks first.

Even before the 2011 season ended, we heard rumors that the Redskins could be in the Peyton Manning business should he become available. Two weeks later, there was speculation that, despite their newfound less impulsive approach to roster-building, Washington might trade up to the first-overall pick in April's NFL Draft. And two weeks after that, the "'Skins will try to get Robert Griffin III" rumors were born.

Given the evolution of Redskins-related speculation, it only makes sense that Packers free-agent quarterback Matt Flynn would enter the conversation.

Flynn, drafted as a seventh-round afterthought in 2008, has two career starts, including a Week 17 appearance against the Lions where he went off. By the time it was over, he had completed 70.5 percent of his passes (31 of 44) for 480 yards and six touchdowns. It was enough to make us wonder if Flynn would be this offseason's Kevin Kolb. (To be fair to Flynn, he had accomplished something before being handed $63 million. So he had that going for him.) 

Which brings us back to the Redskins. On Thursday, Chris Russell of ESPN 980 in Washington weighed in on Flynn:
Two things ... factor into the possible Redskins-Flynn equation. Unlike last year, the Redskins will have to make their decisions first on free agency and then the draft. I can't stress how uncomfortable it makes me to bank on the draft to find "THE GUY," and I am NOT a trade up kind of guy. There is no guarantee that RG III is around with the sixth pick, as a matter of fact it is highly unlikely. You may have to move all the way up to the 2nd pick -- which is an extremely high cost.

The last, and this might be most important -- the Green Bay Packers run a very similar style of the West Coast offense as the Redskins do. Every scheme has variances, but these two teams, according to one high end Redskins source -- are "almost the same." Flynn would not face a huge scheme transition like Kevin Kolb did. The source was quick to point this out, saying that Kolb going from Andy Reid and the Eagles to Ken Whisenhunt and the Cardinals (essentially the Steelers offense) was like learning Chinese fluently in a month, when your base language is English.
On Wednesday, CBS Sports NFL Insider Charley Casserly appeared on another Washington station, 106.7 The Fan, to talk about -- you guessed it -- Matt Flynn. Except he wasn't as high on Flynn-to-the-Skins as Russell.

“I think [Flynn] in this system he plays in is really good. So Cleveland, Seattle, if Joe Philbin ends up with a head job in Miami.” Casserly said. “I’m not sure if it’s exactly the same thing the Redskins want in their same system. I’m not sure if everything they’re doing right now is some of the things he’s good at,” he added.

More interesting: Casserly contradicts Russell's claim that the Packers and Redskins run similar schemes. Casserly said the Packers' offense is based on timing while the Redskins rely on deep passes. Given that scouts' generally viewed Flynn as having a weak arm coming out of college (which helps explain why he lasted until the seventh round), he probably wouldn't be a good fit for Washington's down-the-field passing philosophy.

Of course, perceptions change. Next month, quarterback-needy teams could wage a bidding war for Flynn's services, and it's reasonable to think that the 'Skins might be in the middle of it. It's also reasonable to think that they could move up the draft board for either Luck or Griffin. But that's the beauty of Dan Snyder: you never know.

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Posted on: January 17, 2012 12:05 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 12:08 pm
 

Coach Killers, Week 19: Drops, picks and sacks

Coach Killers is your postseason look around the league at those performances, decisions and "Wait, what did he just do?!" moments that ends Super Bowl aspirations and begins "So, where should we vacation?" discussions.

By Ryan Wilson

Jacoby Jones, T.J. Yates - Houston

Jacoby Jones is the easy choice here because in the time it took him to try to field a punt with his face, he swung the momentum in the Ravens' favor. The Texans' opening drive led to three points, and the defense had forced Baltimore to punt on their first possession. Then Jones happened. (To his credit, he fell on an Arian Foster fumble later in the game. It doesn't make up for his first-quarter punt but it's something.) But he's not the only reason the Texans lost.

Jones had a long day in Baltimore. (US PRESSWIRE)
It's probably unfair to call out Yates here; he's a rookie who played collegiately at a basketball school that had never produced a starting NFL quarterback. His 2011 destiny was to spend the season running the scout team during the week and sitting comfortably on the bench on Sundays.

Then Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart were lost for the season, the Texans' playoff hopes didn't seem far behind, and the offense was suddenly Yates'. And he played beyond everyone's expectations. Which is why we don't feel quite so bad for name-checking him now.

Against Baltimore, he was 17 of 35 for 184 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. And if Yates had found a way to complete just one of those picks to someone not wearing purple and black, the outcome of this game could've been different. In fact, midway through the final quarter we actually had this thought: What if Yates leads Houston to a win (easily the biggest in franchise history)? No matter what happens in the conference championship, he's now entered Matt Flynn airspace.

Which is to say: assuming that Schaub and Leinart are both healthy by training camp, the Texans could try to trade Yates to a QB-needy team and make a nice little profit on the transaction. (We figured they might be able to get a third-rounder out of it; not bad given that Yates was a fifth-round afterthought last April.)

But that daydream was short-lived. Ed Reed's ball-hawking abilities quickly brought us back to reality and guaranteed that come August, Yates will return to a backup role. For the time being, anyway.

Green Bay 'pass catchers'

Easily the worst-performing bunch of the weekend and it's not close. It's easy to blame rust as the culprit but it could be something much simpler than that: the Packers were off (Hey, Occam's razor). They also have terrible timing.

Bad hands and worse timing for Packers. (Getty Images)
Whatever the explanation, unless Mike McCarthy has a time machine, the fact remains that Green Bay's season is over and it's primarily because their usually sure-handed receivers dropped eight Aaron Rodgers' passes.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Lori Nickel pithily recaps what happened at Lambeau Sunday.

"James Starks, Tom Crabtree, Greg Jennings, (Jordy) Nelson and (Jermichael) Finley all had drops. Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Grant and John Kuhn all lost fumbles."

Nelson was dumbfounded after the game.

"For everyone to do it in the same game," he said. "I don't know . . . I don't want to say it's contagious. But it sure looked like it today."

Finely was more practical. "Trying to do too much," he offered. "We were trying to look upfield, trying to get the YAC, but first you've got to catch the ball."

However you choose to explain it, it was a horrible showing for a team that won 15 games in 2011. Silver lining: Somebody's getting something really nice with the Best Buy gift cards coming their way.

Denver offensive line

Any conversation about the Broncos invariably begins with Tim Tebow. But that's no different than at any other point in his career going back to high school. Tebow is many things to many people, and for Denver, for now, he's theirs starting quarterback. Even following a forgettable performance against the Patriots, seven days after his most impressive showing in two years in the NFL.

But Tebow's final line -- 9 of 26 for 136 yards, 5 rushes for 13 yards, a lost fumble and 10 measly points -- isn't just the latest example that he's a fullback who is occasionally asked to throw the ball.

We've documented in great detail his progress this season. Has Tebow evolved into a franchise quarterback in 13 weeks? No, of course not. But the Broncos learned quickly that the best way to make this relationship work is by accentuating what Tebow does well (the college offense Tebow ran at Florida) and throwing the rest of the playbook in the incinerator (the pro-style offense the team ran with Kyle Orton).

But it's not just Tebow who has to grow into this system, it's his teammates. Specifically, the offensive line, at least based on their performance Saturday. In general, the unit performed well this season, particularly when Denver ran the ball. According to Football Outsiders' metrics, the Broncos' o-line ranked 11th in run-blocking in 2011 but 29th in pass protection.

Clearly, some of that falls on Tebow, who struggles to make correct presnap reads, or work through his progressions after the snap. But against New England, the Broncos had 15 plays that lost yards -- both running and passing (including sacks).

This doesn't mean that Denver needs to overhaul the entire unit. But if the plan is to build an offense around Tebow and the option game, they need to find players that best fit that scheme.

New Orleans secondary

Jenkins' day was much longer than Jacoby Jones'. (AP)
There's plenty of blame to go around, on both sides of the ball, but underwhelming performances by Roman Harper and especially Malcolm Jenkins gives the secondary the edge. Harper was the closest player to Vernon Davis on his game-winning touchdown grab, and afterwards, the 49ers said that they noticed on film that Harper's tendency was to drop several yards into the end zone but never step up to the goal line. Davis ran to the goal line, Alex Smith hit him with a laser, game over.

But a lot had to happen before Harper even got the opportunity to let Davis make the play. Linebacker Scott Shanle never redirected Davis as he came off the line of scrimmage, and linebacker Martez Wilson just missed tipping Smith's pass.

Jenkins, meanwhile, served as Davis' metaphorical punching bag. The poor guys at Canal Street Chronicles relive the horror to provide the play-by-play breakdowns in those fateful final three minutes. The final breakdown was Harper's; the other two are courtesy of Jenkins' inability to stop Davis.

As Brinson wrote in Sorting the Sunday Pile, "You might want to pick on Roman Harper for getting worked over by Vernon Davis in the end zone on the final touchdown, but Jenkins is the reason the Niners even had a shot. First there's the teardrop Alex Smith dropped over Jenkins into Davis' outstretched arms before his now famous touchdown run. Then there's Jenkins coverage on Davis across the middle when he picked up 47 yards on the 49ers final drive. Burnt toast anyone?"

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Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:43 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 11:19 pm
 

Coughlin upset by 2 calls vs. GB, NFL explains

Tom Coughlin is oh-fer on his last eight challenges. (NFL.com)

By Ryan Wilson

NFL fans are familiar with Bill Leavy. He was the official in Super Bowl XL, often referred to as "that game where the Steelers were gifted the Lombardi Trophy over the Seahawks." After two controversial calls in Sunday's Giants-Packers game, Leavy is back, again for the wrong reasons.

First, there was what appeared to be a Greg Jennings fumble in which he was initially ruled down by contact. The Giants challenged, replays showed that Jennings had in fact fumbled, and all that was left was for Leavy to emerge from under the hood and announce that it was New York's ball. Except that didn't happen. Instead, inexplicably, he declared that "the ruling on the field stands."

(We went into this in great detail in Monday's Pick-6 Podcast, as well if the NFL should go to full-time officials. Spoiler alert: No. Either way, you can listen below.)


On Monday, the league explained Leavy's decision (via PFT).

“Rule 7, Section 2, Article 1 of the NFL Rule Book (page 35) states: ‘An official shall declare the ball dead and the down ended: (a) when a runner is contacted by a defensive player and touches the ground with any part of his body other than his hands or feet,’” the league said in a statement emailed to PFT by NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. “So by rule, if Jennings’ calf was on the ground prior to the ball coming loose, he is down by contact. Contrary to what was suggested during the game, there is no need for the runner’s knee to be on the ground.”

Uh-huh. We suppose you could look at this replay and say that maybe Jennings' shin (really, the shin?) was down before the ball came out. But you could also argue that Jennings lost possession before his shin contacted the turf.


Jennings sure looked like he fumbled.

In general, we don't like to whinge about the officiating because by the end of the season, it usually evens out for everybody. And credit to New York. Despite two atrocious calls (the other was when Osi Umenyiora was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Aaron Rodgers even though no part of his helmet came close to Rodgers' head), they won by 37-20.

A day later, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin remained confused by the two calls. He was asked Monday if there was anything on film that made the Jennings' non-fumble clearer. “There is but I won’t get into it,’’ he said.

And Umenyiora's roughing-the-passer penalty?

“Aggressive football play,’’ Coughlin said via the New York Post. “The quarterback is following through as he releases the ball. The hit is from the side. There’s not helmet involved. It’s from the shoulders to waist. We’ll coach that one forever.’’

Now all that's left if for Leavy to apologize to the Giants and their fans. That generally takes about four years.

Here's what he told the media in August 2010, unprompted:

"It was a tough thing for me. I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter [of Super Bowl XL between the Steelers and Seahawsk] and I impacted the game and as an official you never want to do that. It left me with a lot of sleepless nights and I think about it constantly. I'll go to my grave wishing that I'd been better. I know that I did my best at that time, but it wasn't good enough. When we make mistakes, you got to step up and own them. It's something that all officials have to deal with, but unfortunately when you have to deal with it in the Super Bowl it's difficult."

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Posted on: January 16, 2012 9:39 am
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Best Super Bowl matchups

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Three games left in the season. It's terrifying, but we've got to analyze the four games from this weekend anyway.

Are the Giants the new Super Bowl favorite? What happened to the Packers? Is the Patriots defense stepping up? Are the Broncos going to stick with Tim Tebow in 2012?

And what's the best possible Super Bowl matchup? A Giants-Patriots rematch? Or is it Harbaugh Bowl 2.0?

We answer all these questions, plus much, much more, below.

(Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes? And 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.)


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Posted on: January 15, 2012 10:36 pm
 

Joe Philbin's presence 'meant a lot' to Packers

Philbin's presence "meant a lot" to Green Bay Sunday. (AP)
By Will Brinson

Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin made an extremely difficult decision this past week and coached during Green Bay's game against the Giants on Sunday despite his son dying less than a week ago.

It took an immense amount of courage to do so, and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers expressed after the 37-20 loss just how much it meant.

“It meant a lot just having him here," Rodgers said, via our Packers Rapid Reporter James Carlton. "I think deep down a lot of us wanted to get this one for him, give some happiness to him and his family."

Prior to the game, Rodgers huddled the team up and they chanted "family!" before running out on the field. It was an obvious tribute to Philbin.

It's unfortunate that the team couldn't come through for their offensive coordinator in this tough time, but it's also telling of his relationship with his players and the team that he found it comforting (one would assume) to join them at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

And it's also telling of his character and dedication to the Packers that he came to work despite the worst-possible circumstances. Clearly, it meant a lot.

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Posted on: January 15, 2012 6:24 pm
 

Eli's Hail Mary gives Giants 20-10 lead at half

Nicks had a monster first half, including a Hail Mary reception to end the half. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

With six seconds on the clock before halftime, the Giants declined to try a 55-yard field goal at Lambeau Field and let Eli Manning chunk a Hail Mary ... which ended up in the hands of Hakeem Nicks for an incredible touchdown that stunned Packers fans and gave the Giants a 20-10 lead going into half.

The sad part is, the Giants are up by 10, and it could be much more: a would-be Greg Jennings fumble wasn't overturned by Bill Leavy's crew, and the Packers went on to score their only touchdown of the game.

Manning's been great for the most part, but he's made some mistakes, including a terrible pass that was picked by Morgan Burnett. The Packers haven't been sharp at all, but it's not Aaron Rodgers fault: his receivers spent the first half acting like the pigskin was soaked in Vaseline.

It looks like, on its face, a classic case of a team that's "too well-rested" after having a three-week layoff. The Giants, on the other hand, are outgaining the Packers 311 to 170, and were it not for a few bad breaks and New York failing to find the end zone in both trips to the red zone, would probably be up several touchdowns.

If the Packers want a shot at repeating, they're going to need some serious adjustments at halftime.

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Posted on: January 15, 2012 5:58 pm
 

Packers get lucky on Greg Jennings fumble review

Maybe Jenning's, uh, foot was on the ground? (Mocksession.com)
By Will Brinson

The Packers caught a tremendous break in the first half of Sunday's NFC Divisional Round matchup against the Giants, as Greg Jennings clearly fumbled a ball and neither an on-field ruling nor replay could "confirm" that he did so. The Packers kept the ball and scored a touchdown five plays later to tie the game at 10-10.

On first and 10 from the Giants 38-yard line, Aaron Rodgers hit Jennings on a six-yard pass. Jennings fumbled the ball while being tackled and the Giants recovered.

The play was initially ruled a fumble but the officiating crew overturned that call on the field and said that Jennings was down. Tom Coughlin was, for all intents and purposes, forced to challenge the play. He did so and the visual evidence indicated rather clearly (see: above) that the ball was loose before Jennings hit the ground.

However, Bill Leavy announced to the crowd that the ruling on the field would stand. The Packers kept the ball and scored a touchdown.

It was a terrible break for the Giants, an unbelievable stroke of luck for the Packers, and a pretty good reason for wondering if there needs to be another safeguard in the review process.

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Posted on: January 15, 2012 1:52 am
Edited on: January 15, 2012 12:37 pm
 

49ers, Patriots pulling hard for upsets on Sunday

The 49ers and Patriots know who they'll be rooting for Sunday. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The Patriots and the 49ers advanced to their respective conference championship games on Saturday. San Francisco did it with defense and a heroic effort by Alex Smith, while Tom Brady simply eviscerated the Broncos. And on Sunday, both teams will be rooting for upsets in a big way.

For the Patriots, it's hard to imagine that anyone can beat them if they play like they did on Saturday; Brady threw five touchdowns in the first half and that game was never really close.

Divisional Round Recap

And they're already locked for home-field advantage. Regardless of whether it's the Ravens or Texans they play in eight days, the game will take place at Gillette Stadium.

But given a choice between the Ravens and the Texans, it's hard to imagine the Pats wouldn't prefer facing rookie passer T.J. Yates.

Yes, the Texans defense is stout and, yes, the Texans running game is explosive and dangerous and two-headed.

But the Ravens are a brutally physical team that provides a tougher matchup and potentially nightmarish memories of the 33-14 loss to Baltimore in New England during Wild Card Weekend in 2009. Joe Flacco, Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith would at least, presumably, keep the Pats defense honest enough to let Ray Rice run wild.

The Patriots would have a much easier time bottling up Arian Foster and Ben Tate with Yates providing minimal damage.

As for the 49ers, neither option for the NFC Championship Game is great. Both the Packers and Giants present problems. But if the Giants were to upset the Pack in Lambeau on Sunday, that would put the path to the Super Bowl squarely through Candlestick Park.

For the 49ers, getting a second home game would be absolute gravy. They've been nearly unstoppable in Candlestick this year, with their only loss a 27-24 overtime nailbiter to the Cowboys in Week 2. Once this season, San Francisco's beaten the Giants there. It's a clear-cut advantage.

And, of course, there's the quality of opponent. The Giants are terrifying if you're the 49ers because of their fierce pass rush and the problems that could pose for Alex Smith.

But the Giants actually allow more rushing yards per game than Green Bay (121.2 to 111.8) though the Packers are the preferred defense if you're the 49ers. They're not the preferred offense though: while Eli Manning's elite, the Giants simply can't cause the kind of matchup problems that the Packers present.

And the 49ers already stopped Drew Brees and the Saints. They can stop anyone, clearly, but if they're picking between a the pair of opponents they could end up against, they would absolutely rather see the Giants in San Francisco than the Packers in Green Bay.

Which is why they, like the Patriots, are pulling for an upset on Sunday.

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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