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Tag:Jacksonville Jaguars
Posted on: November 30, 2011 9:46 am
 

Randy Edsall denies interest in Jaguars job

Posted by Will Brinson

Expect to hear a lot of denials about interest in the Jacksonville gig in the coming days and weeks, like the one we saw on Tuesday from Brian Billick. This is what happens when a down-and-out franchise like the Jaguars decides to fire its coach: rumors start flying about possible replacements.

But this one is just weird: Randy Edsall denied interest in the job on Tuesday. Even though, you know, he won two games at Maryland last year and just had John Feinstein ink a scathing cry for Edsall's head in The Washington Post.

"The only job that I am worried about, and the job that I have got all my heart and soul and attention on, is Maryland," Edsall told Jason Reid of The Post on Tuesday. "We are going to do the things necessary to make sure that this program goes where we want it to go. And I have never been more encouraged and excited and invigorated than I am right now."

The idea of Edsall being interested in the Jaguars gig stems from the time he spent in Jacksonville working under Tom Coughlin -- Edsall was the defensive backs coach for the Jaguars from 1994 to 1997. Dave Razzano, and NFL scout, tweeted on Tuesday that Edsall will get "strong consideration from Jacksonville."

But that seems beyond unlikely. Edsall's stock drop over the past calendar year is so precipitous that it makes Enron look like a solid investment. He's got former players lobbing him under the bus and coming off an inexplicable meltdown against NC State in the Terrapins final game, you'd think Edsall would take a look at any sanctuary he could find.

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Posted on: November 30, 2011 9:02 am
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Jaguars coaching search, Suh

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Tuesday was a weird day if you're an NFL fan. And even weirder if you're a Jaguars fan.

Not only did the team fire Jack Del Rio, but they extended general manager Gene Smith, sold the team, and maybe/sort of/kind of promised not to move out of Jacksonville. We break down what the heck happened, if the Jaguars will stick around, and who's a good candidate to be the next head coach.

Also, we take a look at Ndamukong Suh's suspension (is it fair?), Jake Delhomme's signing (can he save the Texans?), the changes made by the Colts (what happens if you shift a deck chair on the Titantic?) and Kurt Warner's comments to Tim Tebow (he tells him, through words, that actions are better than words).
 
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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: November 30, 2011 12:15 am
 

Brian Billick not interested in Jaguars job

Posted by Will Brinson

On Tuesday, the Jaguars went and fired long-time coach Jack Del Rio. Around that time, we put together a list of potential candidates for the job in Jacksonville, with varying degrees of experience and success.

Well, we can already cross one guy off the list, as former Ravens coach Brian Billick, now an analyst with the NFL Network, isn't interested in the gig.

"They’re looking for young and cheap, and I'm neither," Billick said on the NFL Network Tuesday, via NFL.com.

It's a bit insulting, I guess, to assume to that the Jaguars will be "cheap," even if Billicks' correct. (And a bit, um, something to presume that Billick will command "not cheap" money, even if he does have a Super Bowl on his résumé.)

As we noted on the latest podcast, Billick is a sensible candidate for many teams, but he might not work for the Jaguars, who are more likely to go with a coordinator than a big-name head coach.

Shahid Khan is the new owner and presumably will have a hand in hiring the newest coach. (Would you buy a new Honda Civic and let your cousin drive it first? I didn't think so.) So there's a chance he starts slinging around cash.

The more likely scenario, though, is that the Jaguars look towards an up-and-coming coordinator. Given where that job stands in terms of stature and security, it's much more likely that Jacksonville can land someone looking for their first gig than an experienced name.

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Posted on: November 29, 2011 11:07 am
Edited on: December 29, 2011 5:30 pm
 

Potential Jack Del Rio replacements + expert chat



Posted by Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson

The early list of candidates to replace Jack Del Rio is long and varied. (US PRESSWIRE)

Jack Del Rio's out in Jacksonville and that means it's time for everyone's favorite rollercoaster ride: the coaching carousel! JDR's been replaced by defensive coordinator Mel Tucker for the rest of 2011, and Jacksonville represents an interesting situation because most folks believe they're not capable of landing a "big-name coach."

However, all the usuals are on our list, as well as some names you might want to keep an eye on. If you think we missed someone who's a viable candidate, leave them in the comments or tell us on our new Facebook page.

Jack Del Rio Fired

Mel Tucker, DC, Jaguars

Tucker's the interim coach for the Jaguars after serving as defensive coordinator for Jacksonville for the past three years, and that gives him a leg up on everyone else in Jacksonville's coaching search. Tucker's teams haven't been top flight the entire time he's been in J-Vegas, but the Jaguars 2011 defense is one of the best in the NFL, ranking fifth in points allowed and fourth in yards allowed in the league. That's even more impressive considering how terrible the Jaguars offense has been. A strong close to the season could vault Tucker to the top of Gene Smith's list.


Dirk Koetter, OC, Jaguars

Koetter didn't get the interim coach label (it went to Tucker instead) for Jacksonville, which doesn't bode well for his future with the club. But he's got head coaching experience at the college level, running Boise State from 1998-2000 and Arizona State 2001-2006. Of course, the downside of Koetter is that he's been running the Jaguars offense since 2007 and, with the exception of 2008, it's been a below-average unit since he's gotten there. If Koetter can get Blaine Gabbert and the offense to show some life over the final five games, he'll be a strong candidate, if Tucker doesn't beat him out.

Jay Gruden, OC, Bengals

Even though Gruden's in just his first year as an NFL coach, he's already become a hot name as a possibility for future head-coaching jobs. His work with a Bengals offense that features two rookies -- Andy Dalton and A.J. Green -- as the centerpieces can't be ignored, and Cincy's success 11 games into the year vastly outweighs the fact that Gruden spent the previous decade or so years coaching in the UFL.

Rob Ryan, DC, Cowboys

Though Ryan has drawn a lot of attention for his mouth in Dallas, he's also drawn a lot of attention for the success of his defense. His brother is succeeding as a head coach in New York, obviously, and it's believed to be only a matter of time until Rob gets a chance. Don't sleep on him being the only coach who might actually increase ticket sales, too. The biggest question might be whether the Jaguars prefer an offensive guy heading up the team.

Rob Chudzinksi, OC, Panthers

"Chud" took his first coordinator gig this season when he followed Ron Rivera from San Diego to Carolina to serve as offensive coordinator of the Panthers. And he's drawn plenty of attention with the work he and his staff have done with Cam Newton, one of the most prolific rookie quarterbacks in NFL history. If the Jaguars believed Chudzinski could have the same effect on Gabbert as he did Cam in 2011, they'll certainly be interested in at least adding him to the short (?) list of potential candidates.

Jeff Fisher, former Titans head coach

Until he was fired last season by the Titans, Fisher was the NFL's longest tenured coach having been on the sidelines in Tennessee (and before they moved, Houston) for 17 years. He's well respected by his players and clearly capable of building a winner over the long haul. His background is as a defensive coach, but the Titans' offense had little trouble matriculating the ball down the field with the right personnel (see Eddie George and Steve McNair, for example). Xs and Os are important, but more important is motivating a team in dire need of direction.

Bill Cowher, CBS Sports NFL analyst, former Steelers head coach

The former Steelers coach said earlier this season that he had no plans on coaching in 2012, but like most things, plans can change depending on the circumstances. In this case, we're guessing Cowher would need 10 million or so circumstances to nudge him back onto the sidelines. Jacksonville isn't as glamorous as, say, Miami or New York, cities with other possible job openings at the end of the year, but presumably Cowher will be motivated by more than the local Zagat's guide. The Jags have played like an uninspired bunch in 2011 and while Cowher may not possess the tactical acumen of, say, Bill Belichick, he is, above all else, inspirational. Plus, there's a good chance Cowher will bring some of the Steelers front office with him wherever he ends up, which means built-in roster depth and salary-cap savvy.

Brian Billick, FOX Sports NFL analyst, former Ravens head coach

Billick got his job with the Ravens because he was hailed as something of an offensive mastermind during his OC-ing days with the Vikings (not hurting that perception: Cris Carter, Randy Moss and Randall Cunningham). He's not much into developing quarterbacks he was also responsible for drafting, but Gabbert's already there. Maybe he'd have better success if he wasn't actually burdened with selecting the player, too. Either way, Billick was a winner in Baltimore even if it wasn't always pretty. He's been out of coaching since 2008 but it's only a matter of time before he gets another chance.

Brian Schottenheimer, Jets OC

The list of hot young coordinators isn't as long as it once was. Crash-and-burns from the likes of Eric Mangini and Josh McDaniels tempered some of the "let's go young!" enthusiasm temporarily favored by owners and front-office types. But Schottenheimer, despite the annual criticism, is considered an up-and-comer with the Jets. That offense, with Mark Sanchez under center, is far from high-powered, instead built around the run. They've had success with that philosophy, twice making it to the AFC Championship game, but the "ground and pound" approach relies on a stout defense. The Jags have the makings of that, although it's not clear Schottenheimer would be able to get the most out of Gabbert or Jacksonville's offense.

Russ Grimm, Cardinals associated head coach

Just over four years ago, Grimm was in line to replace Cowher in Pittsburgh and widely considered head-coaching material. He lost out to Mike Tomlin for the Steelers gig and has been the associate head coach in Arizona ever since. He was an offensive lineman during his playing career and he would bring a certain toughness the Jags have lost this season. He's not a top candidate but there's no guarantee the Jags will be able to land their No. 1 choice.

Wild Card: Tom Coughlin, Giants head coach

Apparently, Coughlin's on the hot seat in New York, although that seems silly given that the Giants have been besieged with injuries and bad luck. It's not like he's lost the team, but should he get canned, Coughlin could be worth a long look to return to the place where it all started for Jacksonville. He was the franchise's first coach, from 1995-2002, and he led them to two AFC Championship appearances, and in 1999, a 14-2 record.

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Posted on: November 29, 2011 11:06 am
Edited on: November 29, 2011 11:58 pm
 

Jaguars sold to Shahid Khan, staying in Jax

Posted by Will Brinson

It's just another run-of-the-mill NFL news day in Jacksonville, Florida on Tuesday. First, Jack Del Rio was fired this morning, and now CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman is reporting that the Jaguars franchise are being recently sold (employees were informed on Tuesday morning) to auto-parts mogul Shahid Kahn ... but the team will reportedly remain in Jacksonville.

Oh, and Jags general manager Gene Smith received a three-year extension. So, yeah, nothing much going on in north Florida today.

Obviously the JDR news broke this morning, but before we could even put together a list of coaches who might replace Del Rio, word started swirling that the Jags were being sold.

Kahn, a Pakistani businessman and owner of Flex-N-Gate, will buy the Jaguars after an unsuccessful attempt to purchase the Rams in 2010 when minority shareholder Stan Kroenke exercised his right to match Kahn's bid for the team.

Previously, the Jags have been considered one of the top candidates for relocation to Los Angeles if/when an NFL stadium is ready to be filled, but Freeman reports that Weaver received written assurances from Kahn that he would keep the team in Jacksonville. Weaver wouldn't confirm those assurances in his press conference however and Kahn did not address them in his statement.

Jack Del Rio Fired

"I am honored to have recently signed an agreement with Wayne Weaver and his partners to purchase the Jacksonville Jaguars,” Khan said. “I have known Wayne for some time and have long admired his spirit, which nearly 20 years ago – against all odds – helped make the Jaguars and the National Football League a reality for Jacksonville and North Florida. Wayne’s legacy will be lasting, and I will always be grateful for Wayne’s trust and confidence in my commitment to the Jaguars, the NFL and the people of the Jacksonville community."

Shortly after chatter about the sale exploded, word broke that Smith received his extension this morning, and if you think about it, the timing of the whole shebang kind of makes sense.

Del Rio was canned by the regime (Weaver) that hired him, ensuring that the new owner's first act won't be to fire a head coach. Then the news leaks that the team's been sold and the employees have been informed. Whether or not the team will move is irrelevant for the moment, because it's important that the Jaguars maintain a semblance of stability to employees and fans.

The report that states the team will remain in Jacksonville does just that. And, finally, speaking of stability, Smith's presence over the next three years provides stability to an organization that will be looking for a head coach and determining whether or not Blaine Gabbert is the future of the franchise at quarterback.

And yes, since Smith drafted Gabbert in the 2011 NFL Draft, it's a safe bet he stays on as the franchise quarterback. Whether fans like him or not, that news probably comes as a little bit of relief, if only because it means there's some stability in Jacksonville on this hectic day.

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Posted on: November 29, 2011 9:35 am
Edited on: November 29, 2011 11:11 am
 

Jaguars fire Jack Del Rio

Jacksonville hired Jack Del Rio in 2003. Tuesday he was given his walking papers. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Jack Del Rio was 40 years old when the Jaguars hired him in 2003. Successful stints as the Ravens linebackers coach and the Panthers defensive coordinator paved the way for his first head-coaching gig in Jacksonville. Eight year later, the Jags are 3-8, a team without an identity, and Tuesday Del Rio was fired, CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman confirmed.

Jack Del Rio Fired
Assistant Mel Tucker will take over for the rest of the season.

Del Rio went all in when he cut David Garrard days before the regular-season opener (and weeks after he had already named Garrard his starter) and installed Luke McCown at quarterback. The results were predictably disastrous. Even though Jacksonville beat the Titans in Week 1, they have the worst offense in the league, according to Football Outsiders' efficiency metrics.

Clearly, much of that has to do with the decision to start McCown, and then replace him with rookie first-rounder Blaine Gabbert. But it's not like Jacksonville is the only team playing a young, inexperienced quarterback this season. The Panthers, Bengals, Vikings and to a lesser extent, the Broncos all have had success using that strategy.

CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco writes that Del Rio "is proof of what happens when you are married to an outdated offense. You can't win. When Del Rio was hired as coach, owner Wayne Weaver said, 'no more three yards and a cloud of dust.' Now they have a 'two-yards-and-punt offense' instead."

Del Rio and his Reebok suit are out. (AP)
Also not helping: Del Rio appearing to mail it in long before he was fired. During Week 11's eminently winnable game against the almost-as-hapless Browns, last-drive play-calling sealed the Jags' fate. Afterward, Del Rio explained the decision to throw near the goal line instead of giving the ball to their best player, running back Maurice Jones-Drew:

“Our offensive coordinator [Dirk Koetter] calls the plays. I can’t speak to his thinking. You’ll have to get with him.”

As we wrote in last week's Coach Killers, Del Rio's remarks roughly translate to: "I checked out of this job in September and I'm just going through the motions until I'm officially canned. I almost forgot we had a game Sunday."

We were kidding, obviously, but sources told Prisco that Del "Rio was coming into the office this year at around 9 a.m. most days and leaving early." That's straight out of the Steve Spurrier NFL coaching guide and we all know how that ended.

In his eight-plus seasons, the Jags were 68-71, making the playoffs twice, and winning once. His best season came in 2005 when Jacksonville was 12-4. Prior to the 3-8 start in 2011, the Del Rio's worst seasons came in 2003 (his first) and 2008, both 5-11 finishes.

Well, it seems that Del Rio got what he wanted. Keep choppin' wood, Jack.

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Posted on: November 28, 2011 1:21 am
Edited on: November 28, 2011 1:38 am
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 12

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 10 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.

 
(Ed. Note: Monday's podcast will be up around lunch due to some travel/family stuff.)

1. Run Like Hell -- Er, Heck

Every week, Tim Tebow takes the field as the Broncos quarterback, and every week everyone sits around and snarks at the Broncos running the ball an obscene number of times. Sunday's 16-13 overtime victory in San Diego featured Tebow toting the rock a ridiculous 22 times.

Just for some historical perspective, Tebow's now the only player in post-merger NFL history to attempt 20 rushes and 10 passes in a single game.

People rip the guy for ruining the quarterback position, or not playing it in a "real" way, but everyone very conveniently ignores three factors. One, he can make throws -- a pair of touchdown strikes to Eric Decker in the past two weeks were the difference between 2-0 and 0-2. Two, Tebow simply doesn't turn the ball over. Only 22 quarterbacks since 1970 have finished the year with 250-plus passing attempts, less than five picks and less than five fumbles. Tebow could be No. 23. (Aaron Rodgers could be No. 24.)

And most importantly, the Broncos have a strong running game with Willis McGahee, and an even stronger defense that no one wants to give credit to. If someone else, like a Brad Johnson-type, is quarterbacking this team, the defense gets all the credit. Because it's Tebow, that's the focus.

That's just how it is, and that's fine. After all, Tebow's now beaten every single AFC West rival this season on the road. He is a story. He is the story.

But maybe -- with all due acknowledgement of the silliness involved in "clutchability" -- it shouldn't be all that surprising that Tebow and the Broncos bested Norv Turner and the Chargers in the fourth quarter and overtime. Eking out victories from teams willing to hand over a win thanks to silly mistakes is the modus operandi of the 2011 Broncos, and giving away wins with silly mistakes is what Turner's Bolts teams do best.

San Diego's now last (!) in the AFC West and the only bright spot to this season, outside of Ryan Mathews emerging as a viable feature back if he can stay healthy, is the likelihood of Turner being shipped out of town following this season. You can like or dislike Turner all you want, and he's turned Philip Rivers into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but this Chargers team needs some fresh blood.

Denver's one game back of the playoffs thanks to holding a tiebreaker over the Jets, and they've got the tiebreaker over the Bengals too. A game-managing quarterback plus a running game plus a stout defense has had success in the NFL before.

So if you're still hating on Tebow, just quit and enjoy the ride.

2. Bear Down, Again

Ignore for a second the fact that Bears starting quarterback Caleb Hanie doesn't even know how to properly spike the ball at the end of the game. And ignore that he finished 18 of 36 with three interceptions on the day in Chicago's 25-20 loss to Oakland Sunday.

Because the Bears are still going to make the playoffs. Or, at least, they can.

As noted last week, Chicago's still got a very Chicago formula for making it to the postseason, with Devin Hester on special teams (kudos to Hue Jackson and Shane Lechler for avoiding him Sunday) and a defense that sacked Carson Palmer four times Sunday and limited the Raiders to just a single touchdown.

That type of play will go a long way against opponents like the Seahawks, Vikings, Chiefs and Broncos, all of whom are on Chicago's schedule the rest of the way in. And a quick look at our 2011 NFL Playoff Race Tracker reveals that only two worthy teams in the NFC will actually be shut out of the postseason (the Lions and the Giants are currently odd men out).

I'm not a huge fan of moral victories, especially when an actual loss reveals just how poorly your backup quarterback can play. And don't get me wrong -- Hanie has plenty of flaws and won't make things easy for Chicago the rest of the way. But if you're the Bears, you have to believe Sunday's showing means a playoff berth is still possible.

3. T.J. Yates: An All-Time Great

The case of T.J. Yates is a weird one. Thanks to a (likely) season-ending injury to Matt Leinart, Yates appears to be the de facto starter in Houston and, as Pete Prisco pointed out in his grades column, next in line to suffer a nasty injury as a result of the football gods really not wanting the Texans to smell success.

But you know what makes Yates' case even weirder? He's probably the most successful NFL quarterback in North Carolina Tar Heel history, despite being a rookie, having never started a game and despite having accumulated his career passing numbers -- 8/15 for 70 yards and no touchdowns -- on Sunday in backup duty.

That's because the only other option for "top NFL quarterback in UNC football history" is Scott Stankavage, who played in four games over two NFL seasons with the Broncos (three in 1984) and the Dolphins (one in 1987) and managed to complete 32 percent of his 25 attempted passes for 66 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. (In fairness, Yates is also one of only two UNC quarterbacks drafted since the merger, which is insane.)

His entire career wasn't as successful as Yates' Sunday afternoon in Week 12.

4. "Fire Who?"

The fans want it, as evidenced by the Eagles crowd raining "Fire Andy" chants on the field amid New England's 38-20 shellacking of Philly.

"The way we played, I can understand," Reid said afterward.

It's never easy to sympathize with any supporter of Philly sports, mainly because they're too vitriolic in their reaction. (There's a reason the battery-throwing, Santa Claus-booing stereotype exists.) And it's real easy to laugh at the Eagles plight, especially after they "won the offseason" with a ton of free-agent moves and name-brand signings.

But suggesting that the Eagles should dump Reid is silly, especially when there's a smarter path to success.

1) Fire Juan Castillo. This is coming anyway, you gotta think, and it's not that unreasonable. 2) Re-work the defensive scheme. Hire someone who can take the incredibly talented defensive group Philly has and actually utilize them properly. 3) Dump DeSean Jackson. He's ridiculously talented, but Jackson's got the look of a guy who's wrecking this locker room with contract and attitude problems. (Or maybe, as Clark Judge wrote Sunday, he's a symptom of a larger problem. Either way, he's not helping and he's not happy.) 4) Draft/trade/sign linebackers, safeties and offensive linemen in the offseason and actually address weaknesses.

This isn't an "easy" solution, of course. But this Eagles team has too much talent and Andy Reid's got too much success in Philly to simply blow everything up because the Dream Team experiment went awry in the first season.

He's also inherently tied to Philly's franchise quarterback, Michael Vick. One more bad year from both guys and it might be worth discussing a change, but just because Philly fans are naturally angry doesn't mean Eagles management should have a naturally knee-jerk reaction to 2011.

5. Why So Serious?

There's no reason to sit here and get in an uproar over Stevie Johnson's touchdown celebration against the Jets, in which he mocked Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes by pretending to shoot himself in the leg and then crash a plane. (Besides, Bob Costas' "get off my lawn" Sunday night halftime rant took care of that.)

I like the move, because it's a big-time slap in the face to the Jets, the Bills need some swagger, and as long as you back up your trash-talk, do what you want.

The problem with Johnson's TD is that as soon as he pulled off a celebration mocking a pair of wideouts on the other team, his game went in the toilet. (Stop me if this sounds familiar.)

Look, I think Johnson's an awesome talent and a great dude and if I'm in charge of meting out discipline, someone who landed a helmet-to-helmet hit on Sunday is washing Johnson's white t-shirt collection, just because his celebrations are hysterical.

But if you're going to publicly mock a colleague for literally shooting himself in the foot, you can't turn around and spend the rest of the game figuratively doing the same thing to yourself and your team, which is precisely what Johnson did when he egged on a would-be game-winning touchdown catch in the fourth quarter:



That's exactly why I refuse to get all amped up about whether what he did was right or wrong. Johnson will almost certainly be fined by the NFL. Johnson will -- as Mike Freeman's already noted -- be subject to league-wide and public scorn. And, most importantly, his team lost because after his premature celebration, the Jets wideouts were substantially better than Johnson was.

6. Shananigans

There's no chance that any other football journalist or fan or couch-bound pundit knows as much about managing a football team as Mike Shanahan. The man has two Super Bowl wins. Enough said.

But why on Earth did it take so long to get Roy Helu touches?

The Redskins rookie running back rumbled for 108 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries and caught seven passes for 54 yards in Washington's surprise 23-17 comeback victory in Seattle Sunday.

This would be shocking, but Helu already set the franchise record for receptions in a game three weeks ago, and averaged five yards per carry more than Ryan Torain two weeks ago, so giving him the rock seemed obvious to everyone ... except Shanahan.

Seattle's rush defense is one of the best in the NFL (3.5 yards per carry allowed going in and coming out of the loss), so it's not like Helu was carving up the Panthers or Colts here.

The obvious reward for his impressive game on the ground and remaining Rex Grossman's most reliable target is a much-deserved, one-carry afternoon next week against the Jets. Don't say I didn't warn you, fantasy owners.

7. 0-Fer

The Colts became the first NFL team to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday, just minutes before the Rams were booted as well, thanks to their 27-19 loss to Carolina in Indy Sunday.

Everyone knew they were already eliminated, of course, and everyone knows they'll land the top-overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, but the big question is, can the 2008 Detroit Lions keep their bottles of Andre on ice for the time being?

Probably not -- Indy looks like a pretty good lock to finish the season at 0-16, based on their remaining schedule.

First up in Week 13 is New England (in Foxboro) and there's no reason to spend time wondering if Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will get trapped against a one-time arch-rival in a free "kick 'em while they're down" game. They won't. At Baltimore in Week 14 should be a lock for a double-digit blowout too. The Ravens have stumbled against bad teams, but not at home, and no one's had a defense as bad as Indy.

Tennessee (Week 15) and Houston (Week 16) at home shouldn't present challenges for Indy when it comes to losing either, considering that both teams appear to have capable rushing attacks. Even if Chris Johnson still looks like he's wading through a giant jar of jelly when he hits the hole, he's been effective against bad rushing defenses this year.

That leaves at Jacksonville in Week 17, and which isn't even their best chance at being favored (read: getting more than a 50 percent chance of winning from Vegas). That will be Tennessee, but the Titans will still be favored by at least three points in Indy, like the Panthers were.

And none of the remaining teams on the schedule have a defense nearly as bad as the Panthers, which means there's a 60-plus percent chance Indy goes winless this year. At least.

8. Rookie of the Year Race

Fortunately, we get to honor a Defensive and Offensive Rookie of the Year in the NFL. Because otherwise, we might have a big old heated argument about who the most deserving rookie in 2011 is. Last week, I threw my [substantial only in the literal sense] weight behind Andy Dalton leaping past Cam Newton for the top rookie, but now I'm not so sure.

That's not because Cam went bananas in a win on Sunday so much as it was Dalton only beating the Browns because he's got another rookie -- wideout A.J. Green -- on his team, who might secretly be the best option for the award on the Bengals roster.

Cincy remained in playoff contention -- they're currently the No. 6 seed -- thanks to Green making big catches to set up scores all day.

On the defensive end of things, Von Miller continued to state his case for ROY honors with 10 total tackles and another sack. And what about Patrick Peterson, who returned a fourth punt return for a TD on the year? Dude's defensive improvement is underrated so far this year, especially in a tough situation, and it'll be interesting to see how his game-changing impact on special teams will rate for voters -- three of his teeters have, literally, been game-winning scores.

9. A Quarterback League

Watching the Chiefs stifle the Steelers for much of the Sunday night game -- eventually won by Pittsburgh 13-9 -- was picture proof of how important having a good quarterback really is. Matt Cassel might have struggled against the Steelers defense, but Tyler Palko was absolutely miserable, going 18/28 for 167 yards and three picks.

The same can be said for Jacksonville, who knocked Matt Leinart out against Houston, but couldn't muster any sort of offense because no one would respect Blaine Gabbert, much less McCown.

Teams that don't have a good quarterback can still win by playing smart and running the hell out of the ball, but the Jaguars and Chiefs are great proof as to just how quickly a team can fade out relevancy as a result of lacking substantial skill under center.

The Jacksonville and Kansas City defenses have put their respective offenses in decent position to win games over the past couple of weeks, but an inability to move the ball resulted in a pair of losses for each squad. (Romeo Crennel's defensive scheming against Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger was particularly impressive, and even more depressing when you think about how badly it was wasted.)

Which is precisely why it's impossible to be too bullish about the playoff chances for teams like the Texans and the 49ers.

10. And the Oscar Goes To ...

Jerome Simpson for the flop of the NFL season. And maybe NFL history? It's hard to even call this a "storyline," because it's not. There's no epidemic of flopping hitting the NFL and Christian Ronaldo isn't going to be defecting any time soon.

But Simpson's flop, which you can watch here, is just too amazing to ignore.

Oh yes, and the Bengals snuck one out against the Browns, holding onto their sixth seed in the playoffs. They've got the look of a team that isn't quite ready to quit trying out this possible pipe dream of a postseason run, but if they play like they did against the Browns when they get the Steelers, Texans and Ravens over the next three weeks, it's hard to imagine them sneaking in with three 6-5 teams (Titans, Jets, Broncos) hanging out on the fringe.

And that flop wouldn't be nearly as pretty as Simpson's.

Muffed Punts

Leftovers from Sunday's Action ...
... Percy Harvin's 104-yard kick return that didn't produce a touchdown on Sunday was the longest non-scoring play in NFL history.
... Peterson is also the only player in NFL history with four punt return touchdowns of 80-plus yards or more in a season.
... And the Rams-Cardinals game was the first in NFL history to feature an 80-plus yard punt-return TD from each team.
... Cam Newton is just the fourth post-merger quarterback to rush for 10 touchdowns in a season, joining Steve Grogan, Kordell Stewart and Daunte Culpepper on that list.
... Chris Long recorded his 10th sack of the season, meaning he and dad Howie are just the second father-son combo to record double-digit sacks in a season in their career, along with Clay Matthews and his dad, Clay Matthews.
... The Bengals overcame a 10-point halftime deficit for the third time this season, tied for the most in NFL history, along with the 2011 Lions.
...

Worth 1,000 Words



GIF O' THE WEEK

There might be a better option, but watching Tim Tebow hit his X button two seconds too early and then get laid out is pretty entrancing.


Hot Seat Tracker

  • Norv Turner: Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune believes "no playoffs = no more Norv." So, probably no more Norv.
  • Jim Caldwell: If they go 0-16 and draft a new franchise quarterback, how can they carry over the same staff? They can't right?
  • Steve Spagnuolo: He just lost back-to-back games to Seattle and Arizona. Talk about a free-fall.
  • Jack Del Rio: It's a good rule of thumb that if you're flopping your first-round rookie for a McCown brother that your job is in trouble.
  • Tony Sparano: Even if he keeps winning, you gotta think Stephen Ross goes window shopping this offseason.

Chasing Andrew Luck

The Colts have all but locked up the Luck sweepstakes, and with the remaining schedules, we might as well take the numbers off the board. Congratulations for ruining a mini-feature in this column by Week 12, Curtis Painter. You jerk.

MVP Watch

Speaking of jerks, "tanks for nuthin'" Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has one more holiday game left -- a Christmas showdown with the Bears. And the Packers could still lose a game and maybe come back towards the Patriots (if Tom Brady stays hot?), but he's all but sewn up this award pretty early in the season.

Posted on: November 27, 2011 9:26 pm
 

Del Rio: Gabbert will stay Jags starting QB

B. Gabbert was benched by Jack Del Rio today (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

With Blaine Gabbert continuing to show he’s one of the worst quarterbacks in the league, Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio had seen enough today to yank Gabbert out of the game and insert Luke McCown to finish up Jacksonville’s 20-13 loss to the Texans.

But that change, Del Rio said, won’t be permanent. He said after the game that Gabbert is still his starting quarterback.

“Blaine is our starting quarterback until I tell you otherwise," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio told reporters after the game, via the AP.

“Offensively, we just are struggling to generate enough productivity to have any fun. It’s tough to win in this league when you’re not scoring. ... We are working hard at it, but we are just not making enough plays.”

Del Rio clearly is on his last legs in the Jacksonville organization, and at this point, it probably doesn’t matter who he throws out there to start at quarterback since the Jaguars are going nowhere. But for the long-term health of the franchise, the organization has to know if Gabbert can recover from his poor start. He’s completing 48.5 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and six interceptions and he’s averaging 137 yards per game with a 62.2 quarterback rating.

Simply put, Gabbert has to do a better job.

"I know my position on this football team," said Gabbert. "I know what I have to do to win games, plain and simple, and I'm not doing that right now."

No, he’s not, and if he doesn’t improve, he could find himself in a precarious position. Assuming Del Rio is fired, Gabbert will have to do enough to impress the new coaching staff. Because there’s little chance that a quarterback who’s not cut out for the NFL will ever play for a coaching staff which thinks he’s worthless.

Unless his name is Tim Tebow, of course. 



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