Tag:Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Posted on: December 29, 2011 11:35 am
  •  
 

Mike Pereira thinks Jon Gruden is a 'blowhard'

'Loudmouth' Gruden got ripped by Fox's Pereira for his rules analysis. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

As the former VP of Officiating for the NFL, Fox Sports analyst Mike Pereira's been able to provide some nice insight into the world of officiating from the angle of a broadcaster. But in his latest column, he decided to go meta and play the role of media critic, harshly ripping ESPN analyst and former Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden.

In Pereira's column, which is actually focused on Gruden, the Fox analyst calls Gruden a "blowhard" who was a "loudmouth" as a coach. Pereira then writes that he has "very little respect for [Gruden] when it comes to officiating and his knowledge of the rules."

So, um, yeah, it's a bit awkward. And it could get worse -- what happens if, as our own Mike Freeman reported, Gruden comes back to coaching and returns, hypothetically, to a team like the Rams?

They play in the NFC and their games are more likely to be aired on Fox, where Pereira could have the responsibility of objectively analyzing Gruden's challenges and the interpretation of NFL rules as they apply to Gruden's hypothetical future team.

Even though Pereira says he respects Gruden's "knowledge about X's and O's when it comes to coaching and playing the game of football," but it's difficult to believe that Pereira, who appears to hold a grudge dating from Gruden's coaching days, could do so.

Pereira's beef with Gruden's interpretation of the rules relates to helmet-to-helmet hits. It's pretty obvious that Gruden simply doesn't care for the new rules; by stating that he doesn't "understand how the games are officiated" Gruden's not actually speaking to his lack of knowledge of the rules. He's speaking to his distaste for the actual rules.

With Pereira, there's no question though. His distaste is with Gruden.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 27, 2011 11:45 am
 

Coach Killers, Week 16: Is Sanchez the answer?

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

Mark Sanchez - Jets

Is Sanchez in NY's future? Rex says yes. (AP Photo)
With each passing game, Sanchez confirms what everybody already suspected (even if Rex Ryan won't admit it publicly): he's an average NFL quarterback. There are worse fates (he could be Tyler Palko or Caleb Hanie), but Sanchez's success is contingent on the formula the Jets had working during the 2009 and 2010 seasons: ground, pound and a stifling defense.

In 2011, the rushing attack and the vaunted defense has been inconsistent, New York has fallen behind, and Sanchez hasn't been able to get the Jets in the end zone late in games. The result: eight wins against seven losses -- the latest coming Saturday against the Giants -- and the very real possibility of missing the playoffs for the first time in Rex Ryan's tenure as head coach.

“They were definitely the better team this year,” Ryan said after the 29-14 loss to the Giants. “Clearly, I was wrong. I will take the responsibility. It is on my shoulders and it should be. That’s just the way it is.”

That's what Ryan has to say -- the buck stops with him, after all -- but he's not calling offensive plays. That falls to Brian Schottenheimer, who dialed up 59 (fifty-nine!) pass plays. Sanchez completed just 30 attempts (51 percent), threw one touchdown vs. two interceptions and was sacked five times. By the end of the day, he looked out of sorts and out of confidence.

It's so bad that we're again hearing murmurs that Sanchez may not be the longterm answer at quarterback for the Jets, sentiments that come up a half-dozen times each season. CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman writes Monday that Schottenheimer's job is probably less secure than Sanchez's at this point.

"The inevitable Sanchez microscopic exam started immediately after that Giants loss. The site Profootballtalk.com reported the Jets were having doubts about Sanchez. The New York Post loosely reported that offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer might be coaching for his job this week. The latter, I’m told by someone I trust, is more likely the truth."

Wherever reality lies -- and Rex has both Mark and Brian's back-- the point remains: Sanchez has yet to prove that he's a capable NFL quarterback. He thrives as a complimentary piece within a system but he's not the guy you want trying to bring the team back from a late-game deficit. Maybe he'll evolve into that player someday, but through nearly three NFL seasons, he's more game manager than game winner.

Tim Tebow - Broncos

After seven wins in his first eight games as Denver's starting quarterback, Tebow has now dropped two in a row and the Broncos are 8-7. A Week 17 win gives them the division crown and a home playoff game, but that will likely be against the Steelers or Ravens.

For now, though, 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.

The Bills, with nothing to play for after having lost seven in a row, intercepted Tebow four times (returning two for touchdowns). And while Tebow's numbers are troubling (13 of 30 for 185 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs and 3 sacks) he wasn't the same guy who was manhandled by the Lions back in Week 8. That Tebow looked confused all afternoon; this Tebow struggled with the Bills' scheme but wasn't overwhelmed to the point of paralysis. That scheme, by the way, wasn't some complicated Dick LeBeau zone blitz concoction. It was a stout four-man rush with seven men in coverage (including a quarterback spy). Tebow wasn't allowed to run for large chunks but was forced to stay in the pocket and win the game with his arm. Obviously, he couldn't do it.

Now the Broncos have a week to work out the kinks and hope everything's clicking should they make it into the postseason. Because if they don't … well, God help us because we're going to spend the spring and summer wondering who will be Denver's starting quarterback in 2012. And, really, nobody wants that.

Phillip Taylor - Browns

Taylor's gaffe was costly. (Getty Images)
Saturday's loss isn't entirely Phil Taylor's fault. The 2011 first-round pick wasn't solely responsible for the Ravens jumping out to a 17-0 lead. But it was his offsides penalty late in the fourth quarter with Cleveland trailing 20-14 that guaranteed the Browns would lose their fifth straight and remain winless in the AFC North this season.

After stuffing running back Ray Rice on third down, Baltimore faced a fourth-and-2 at the Browns' 37-yard line with just under two minutes to go in the game. The Ravens' options: attempting a 55-yard field goal, going for it on fourth down or punting. After a timeout, Baltimore's offense took the field, presumably to draw the Browns offside and keep the drive alive. Cleveland's defensive coaches warned players of as much … moments before Joe Flacco hard-counted and  coaxed Taylor into jumping early. First down Ravens, game over.

"It was the first hard count and we stayed onside. The second time, I just jumped," Taylor told The Associated Press. "Of course you feel bad but you just got to move on."

For the Browns, that means moving on to Week 17 where they will face the Steelers in a game Pittsburgh would like to win, even if it means doing so without starter Ben Roethlisberger, who was injured the first time these teams met in Week 14. (If the Ravens lose to the Bengals and Pittsburgh prevails in Cleveland, the Steelers would win the AFC North and get a first-round bye.)

Flacco, who has taken his share of criticism this season, was shocked Taylor fell for the hard count (it's the NFL equivalent of falling for the "pitcher fakes to third before throwing to first" routine in baseball).

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been in position for that to happen," Flacco said. "It’s never worked.”

There's a first time for everything, especially when you're facing the Browns.

Early Doucet - Cardinals

Poor Early Doucet. He was attacked by the seldom seen Paul Brown Stadium turf monster at the worst possible moment, and instead of hauling in possibly the easiest touchdown pass of his career, he was instead picking himself off the field as the ball skipped out of the end zone incomplete.

The specifics: facing 4th and 5 from the Bengals 17-yard line with 1:16 to go and trailing 23-16, Cardinals quarterback John Skelton threw to what appeared to be a wide open Doucet. Except he tripped and fell, as did Arizona's dwindling playoff hopes.


Turf monster avoids the pass interference call despite tripping Early Doucet.

It gets worse: the father of teammate Larry Fitzgerald called Doucet out, first on Twitter ("Doucet bombed this year he drops to many passes not a dependable No.2. Needs to work harder at his job. He dropped 5 TDs this year.") then to ESPN.com's Mike Sando.

“I just know that Larry invited him to come and work out with him this summer and some guys take initiative and do it, some guys don’t,” Larry Fitzgerald Sr. said. “But with the lockout, I thought he would have worked on it a little harder. That is me. People criticize me because they think I talk too much. That is just how I see it.”

On Monday, the Arizona Republic's Kent Somers wrote that "from previous conversations with Doucet and coaches, the Cardinals were happy with Doucet's off-season work. He was rehabbing from sports hernia surgery, and the Cardinals approved of his program. Receivers coach John McNulty complimented Doucet on reporting to training camp in shape."

Not to worry. Fitzgerald Sr. says he "wasn't picking on" Doucet. “I track when he drops the ball in critical situations. They use Larry the way they are going to use him, so they know others are going to be singled [in coverage]. The Ravens game, he dropped one on the goal line. I remember other games. Now that they’re out of the playoffs, I’m putting it out there.”

Can't wait to hear what Senior thinks about Kevin Kolb and/or John Skelton.

LeGarrette Blount - Buccaneers

Like Phil Taylor, it's unfair to point to Blount and say, "Yep, it's all his fault." But head coach Raheem Morris thought enough of Blount's performance to call him out after Tampa Bay's latest no-show performance, this time against the Panthers. On the Bucs' very first offensive play, Blount muffed the handoff from quarterback Josh Freeman. When an NFL team struggles with something as basic as a handoff it's probably time to hit the reset button. Which is exactly what will happen to Morris shortly after the season ends, and possibly to plenty of names currently on the roster, Blount included.

"To not get that play executed on the first play of the football game is unacceptable,'' Morris said according to the Tampa Tribune. "You're obviously not ready to play. I'm not ready to give up on him (Blount), but you can't let your team down that way.''

Blount was just as frank when asked about the play and the subsequent benching.

"It happens. Whenever you feel like something is not going your way, you've got to look somewhere else. If a back's been giving up the ball the whole season, you've got to find someone else to do the job. It was a miscommunication. We fumbled the ball.''

Meanwhile, veteran cornerback Ronde Barber, wholly unimpressed with the Bucs' defense, says that the same team that won 10 games last season is now full of players looking out for themselves. Such is the destiny for four-win clubs.

"That was an embarrassing performance, really, in the run game," Barber said after Tampa Bay allowed 270 yards rushing. "It's frustrating to watch because you know what the problems are. It looks like guys want to do their own thing. You've got to believe the guy next to you is going to do his job. … They didn't even need [Steve Smith] today. That just shows how far they've come and how far we've gotten away from what we used to be.''

(To be fair, the Panthers did have Cam, who has come so far, so fast, he's already ascended to one-word-name status). Which is why when we see the Bucs in 2012 they'll look nothing like the team that limped to the finish in 2011.

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 26, 2011 8:14 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 8:15 pm
 

Raheem Morris isn't long for Tampa Bay

Morris might not make it to 2012 with the Bucs. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

It doesn't take much imagination to envision a scenario in which Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris gets fired. After a 10-win season in 2010, his second as an NFL head coach, Morris appeared to have turned around an organization that had lost its way under Jon Gruden. He had his young franchise quarterback in Josh Freeman and a team full of overachievers. Now, nearly 12 months later, the Bucs will have to beat the Faclons to get to five wins. And whatever happens in Week 17, come Monday morning, Morris could be looking for work.

When asked about that possibility, Morris, 35, offered this (via CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Scott Purks): "I will never fire myself. You don’t go from being a Coach of the Year candidate to being the worst coach in the league to getting fired within a year. It’s about us. It’s about everything."

Morris is right: it's not just about coaching. It's a confluence of events that have led the Bucs to this point. Just like last season, when the culmination sound football and a lot of luck led to a 10-6 record. Maybe Tampa isn't a 4-11 team 16 weeks into the 2011 season. But perhaps they weren't a 10-win outfit a year ago, either. More likely: they're somewhere in between. An average football team that had a run on good luck in '10 and a run on bad luck in '11. It happens.

But the NFL is, as they say, a bottom-line business. Which means blaming ill-fated bounces for your plight won't help you keep your job. And that brings us back to our original point: Morris, in all likelihood has a week left in his current gig.

Rick Stroud of the St. Petersburg Times suggested as much Monday on NFL Network's "Around the League."

“I think [Morris' future in Tampa is] probably more than a little bit in doubt,” Stroud said. “Regardless of what happens on Sunday, it’s most likely that Raheem Morris won’t be asked to return next season.”

There were rumors several weeks back that the Glazers considered dumping Morris before the end of the season but that they didn't feel comfortable giving the interim job to any of the assistants currently on staff. That doesn't bode well for their futures with the Bucs, either.

Morris, of course, wants to finish what he's started.

“I believe in my guys. I believe in the system. I believe in the program. I believe in what we do and everybody in this building, so it’s a buying-in factor," he said. "Either you buy in or you don’t. And we want to building this thing young and we want to develop a team that goes out and wins — and wins consistently.”

Incidentally, it's the lack of winning consistently that has Morris in his current predicament.

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 25, 2011 11:08 am
Edited on: December 25, 2011 11:10 am
 

Buccaneers have run amok (not in a good way)

Morris

By Josh Katzowitz

Although I said in this week’s For the Gambler in You that I thought Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris would survive into next year, I also didn’t foresee the absolute pummeling the Panthers put on Tampa Bay, 48-16, on Saturday.

During their current nine-game losing streak, the Buccaneers have allowed an average of 33.8 points per contest, and that’s simply not a recipe a coach needs to follow in order to save his job.

If I could take back that pick on my latest Gambler post, I think I would.

We mentioned a few weeks ago, it wasn’t a great sign when Morris sent defensive tackle Brian Price home in the third quarter for a personal foul penalty and then said afterward, “You know, they're not listening. They've got to listen and we've got to do a better job of coaching. That's all."

After Saturday’s game, cornerback Ronde Barber confirmed the team’s acrimony and the suggestion that Morris -- who benched LaGarrette Blount for most of the first half after he fumbled early in the first quarter -- doesn’t have control of his squad (another key ingredient for a coach about to be axed).

Week 16 recap
"It looks like guys want to do their own thing,” Barber said, via the Tampa Tribune. “You've got to believe the guy next to you is going to do his job.”

Not even the fact the Buccaneers held top-notch receiver Steve Smith to one catch for nine yards could salvage the wounds torn open by the Panthers offense. That’s probably because Tampa Bay’s run defense was atrocious, giving up 270 yards, and allowing Brandon LaFell to catch three passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.

"They didn't even need him (Smith) today,” Barber said. “That just shows how far they've come and how far we've gotten away from what we used to be.”

But Tampa Bay guard Davin Joseph took exception to the thought that the team isn’t playing hard for its coach.

"It can't be that simple,” Joseph said. "You can't say this looks like a team that doesn't want Coach Morris to come back. The way we're going, I'd say this is a team where I'm wondering whether our players are going to come back.”

At this point, the team should be wondering if anybody is going to be coming back from what has turned out to be a disaster of a season.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 24, 2011 7:37 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 1:43 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 16: Cam's the GOAT

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action, figures out the winners and losers and asks the big questions. Slightly condensed version this week as it's the holidays. No podcast, no picture of the week and only eight questions. Blame Mrs. Brinson if you're so inclined. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter.

The Greatest Rookie Season Ever?

That's right. The greatest rookie season ever is precisely what Cam Newton's going to wrap up in Week 17 against the Saints a game of no real consequence when it comes to his legacy as the best rookie in NFL history.

There should be no argument that Cam's season, even without the final week, goes down as the greatest season by a rookie quarterback in history. He has the record for most passing yards in a season (again, with a week to go) by a rookie. He has the record for most passing yards in a game by a rookie. He has the record for most rushing touchdowns in a season by any quarterback.

Of the seven rookie quarterbacks with 3,000 passing yards, Newton doesn't have the most passing touchdowns, but he doesn't have the most interceptions either. There shouldn't be any question that his rookie year is the greatest by any quarterback.

As far as other rookies go, you could argue for Eric Dickerson (more than 2,000 total yards and 20 touchdowns in 1983), Dick Lane (14 interceptions, two pick sixes for Night Train in 1952), Randy Moss (17 touchdowns and 1,313 receiving yards in 1998) or Lawrence Taylor (9.5 sacks -- before they were even counted -- in 1981) if you want.

But none of those guys dealt with the complexities of running an offense. None of those guys dealt with a lockout-shortened offseason. None of those guys performed the way they did under the intense scrutiny of 2011 Twitteratiland. None of those guys carried the expectations of the No. 1 overall pick who was supposed to save a franchise ... or cost a GM his job simply because no one was sure how good they'd be. None of those guys inspired the fierce debate that Newton did leading up to being drafted.

Cam's rejuvenated a franchise that was dead in the water and he might be a top-10 quarterback in the NFL right now. It's been a marvel to watch him perform and it's insane to think that there was a debate as to whether or not the Panthers should take him.

Winners

Matthew Stafford: The Lions are in the playoffs. That's worthy of "winner inclusion" all by itself. But the Lions were secretly facing a pretty bad situation, with the white-hot Chargers and the very good Packers over the next two weeks. 9-7 and getting snuck out of the playoffs wasn't out of the question at all. Until Stafford got his surgical precision on and shredded the San Diego secondary, going 29 of 36 with 373 yards and three touchdowns. Stafford's next up for the "is he or isn't he elite" debate.

Pete Prisco
: Yes, my CBSSports.com colleague and former life coach (Pete doesn't know it, but I fired him when he suggested I not wear socks with my loafers). Prisco's the only guy that I know of who refused to budge off his negative stance of Tebow during the Broncos winning streak. There might be an argument that Pete's stubborn and you might be inclined to call him a "hater" but with the way that Tebow egged on Saturday, there are going to be a LOT of people ripping him over the next week. And Prisco's the only one of those people who's stood his ground the whole time.

Kevin Kolb:
The Cardinals were eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday and that means Kolb avoided his worst possible nightmare. That would be "John Skelton marching Arizona to an improbable postseason run and the team deciding to bail on Kolb's albatross of a contract." Instead, Arizona now plays out the string and regroups for 2012, likely with Kolb as the starting quarterback for at least another year.

Matt Forte
: What's that, you say? Forte didn't play on Saturday. Oh, I know that. I also know that if the Vikings hadn't handed Adrian Peterson a monster contract before the 2011 season, things would be awkward right about now. Over the past month, the Bears have collapsed without Forte and Jay Cutler, meaning he's beefed up his leverage as an important player for the franchise and, with the Peterson injury, justified his rationale for wanting a new contract.

Jerome Simpson: Did you see his touchdown catch?

Turner's time might be up in San Diego. (US Presswire)

Losers

Norv Turner: A lot of credit goes to the Lions for the way they played on Saturday. Detroit is a very good team and a formidable opponent. But how can the Chargers not show up, especially knowing that the Broncos lost and that they were either a Bengals/Jets pair of losses or a Broncos loss in Week 17 away from making the playoffs? That's still not "controlling your own destiny" but out of everyone who was gifted an early Christmas present during the early games on Sunday, Turner and the Chargers were probably the luckiest. A 24-0 halftime deficit in the most critical game of the season isn't going to inspire any Spanos family members to keep their pink slips tucked away.

Jason Garrett
: No one's going to blame him for losing to Philly. That's what happens with Stephen McGee under center. But holy cow does Garrett have the hardest decision -- and the most scrutiny -- of his short career coming up over the next week. The Giants and Cowboys will play in Week 17, with a trip to the postseason and a division championship on the line. Tony Romo will almost certainly play, but will he be effective? Can Garrett gameplan in order to play to Romo's injury? Will he cough up a shot at the postseason? These are the ways we will judge him after next week's game. And by "we" I obviously mean "Jerry Jones and his potentially angry family."

Adrian Peterson
: AP's leg injury on Sunday was so brutal that I even feel like a jerk putting him in the "losers" section. But if you saw the horrific nature of Peterson's injury, you know precisely why he's not feeling like a winner right now. The Vikings announced after the game that it was a sprained knee but -- all due respect to Minnesota -- that's just not believable at all. The multiple reports that it's a torn ACL (and potentially worse) make a lot more sense. It's just sad that Peterson could miss significant time because he was playing in a meaningless game for a three-win team.

Rex Ryan: Ryan spent all week running his mouth about the New York-New York rivalry and when push came to shove, his guy Mark Sanchez fumbled on the Giants goal line and threw a "pass" to an offensive lineman that resulted in a safety in a devastating loss on Saturday. The Darrelle Revis/Antonio Cromartie combo got torched by Victor Cruz (that's his name, right?) and Brandon Jacobs got to say "It's time to shut up, fat boy." That's just embarrassing. Oh, right, and the Jets lost control of their own destiny with respect to the playoffs. It wouldn't be nearly as mortifying if Ryan hadn't run his mouth all week.

Pipedreams: Just like San Diego, the Eagles were very much a longshot to make the playoffs. But I'm telling you, there was a chance. Then the Giants killed that chance (adding to their winner-y-ness) with a win over the Jets. That means Week 17 is no longer a dream scenario for fans of long shots, because both early-season favorites are now removed from any chance of a postseason berth. You don't have to root for the Eagles or Chargers. In fact, you can root against them. But if you don't like ridiculous storylines and clowning around with playoff predictors then we're not friends.

The Big Questions

 
The new Tebow narrative could be awkward. (AP)

1. What's the new Tim Tebow narrative?
No, but it's on life support (and Prisco wants to pull the plug!). Look, Tebow can still win against Kansas City in Week 17, or even lose as long as the Chargers beat the Raiders. But think about how quickly this narrative could be absolutely flipped on its head: if Kyle Orton, the man Tebow replaced, beats Tebow in Week 17 because Tebow can't win late, and the Raiders beat the Chargers and make the playoffs, the Broncos new narrative will be as chokers. No, really, it will. And that is nuts when you consider where we were just two weeks ago.

2. Why does Leslie Frazier keep playing guys who are hurt?
NO CLUE. But this is a story that's flown under the radar for the past few weeks and it culminated with AP's injury against Washington, as well as the concussion that Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder suffered on Saturday. The Vikings are 3-12 after winning on Christmas Eve, but they didn't even need Peterson or Ponder to put up points -- it was all Joe Webb against the Redskins. Of course, winning, at this point, should be secondary. Frazier's top priority should be the health of his franchise quarterback and running back. Instead, these guys keep getting trotted out with injuries late in a lost season. That's not the sort of thing that keeps a job safe for long.

3. Did Raheem Morris get fired on Saturday?

Almost certainly. The Panthers went out and walloped Tampa Bay 48-16 in Charlotte, meaning that the Bucs lost their eighth game in a row.  Worse than the losses is the way they've happened: over the last four games, the Buccaneers have been outscored 158-64. They've given up 40 points to the Panthers and Jaguars and have topped 20 points just once since their trip to London in late October when things really started to unravel. It's an embarrassing collapse down the stretch and it's hard to blame the Glazer family and GM Mark Dominik when (not if) they fire Morris.

4. Anyone else getting fired?
Gotta think that Turner's done in San Diego now and that Romeo Crennel's the only interim hanging around. I can't buy that Jim Caldwell's saving his job so I'd add him to the list too. But I think any questions about Chan Gailey can now be reserved for a while, given the way he dismantled the Broncos on Sunday.

5.  Why should Tom Brady be worried?
Because his offensive lineman are dropping like flies. And while the Patriots are going to continue being good because that's what the Patriots do, there's absolutely cause for concern in New England if Logan Mankins and Matt Light are hurt for any length of time. As you may be aware, this isn't a team predicated on playing any sort of defense, and if they can't protect Tom Brady, there's little chance of them advancing in the postseason.

5. How mad are the 49ers?
Furious. And it doesn't matter that they won, because they gave up a rushing touchdown to Marshawn Lynch. They might hold the record for most games without one, but you know they wanted to make it the entire season. They did not.

6. Am I going to have to watch Matt Flynn on Christmas night?
Not as much as you might have feared. The 49ers won against the Seahawks on Saturday, and that means Green Bay hasn't clinched the top seed yet. Which means that Aaron Rodgers will stay in the game against the Bears for the entire game, barring an absolute Packers blowout.

7. Was Simpson's catch the play of the year?
Yup, it sure was. Maybe not the "play of the century" or anything insane like people are saying, but it was an absolutely bananas catch and it deserves incredible props. Watch -- it's going to be the type of thing you talk with your relatives about on Christmas. That's the way you can truly judge the greatness of a play.

8. Should Ben Roethlisberger play next week?
No. There's just no need. Joe Flacco and Ray Rice handled the Browns just fine in Week 16, and Charlie Batch/Rashard Mendenhall can do the same in Week 17. Rest the guy, run the ball, cross your fingers that Cincy can summon the strength to beat the Ravens on the road and let Roethlisberger rest.

GIF O' THE WEEK

I mean duh. Did you notice I liked it?



For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 24, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: December 24, 2011 1:25 pm
 

Cam Newton sets NFL rookie passing yards record

Newton has more passing yards in a season than any NFL rookie in history. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The phrase "Cam Newton set a rookie record" isn't something that's brand new, because he's been doing it all year long. But on Carolina's first drive against Tampa Bay, Newton set his biggest record yet, breaking Peyton Manning's mark for passing yards in a single season by a rookie.

Manning threw for 3,739 yards in 1998 and with 20 passing yards on the Panthers first drive, Newton jumped him to put himself at 3,742 yards on the year.

Of course, Cam's still got three full quarters of action against the Buccaneers as well as a Week 17 matchup against the Saints, so it's likely the new record will be north of 4,000 yards.

The Panthers are sitting at just five wins (though they lead the Buccaneers early in the first quarter), but Newton's the reason why there's optimism all over Charlotte when it comes to the state of professional football.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this record, though, is how hotly debated the decision to draft Newton first in the 2011 NFL Draft was. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, it's clear that there wasn't ever really a decision at all.

In fact, Newton's near the end of perhaps the greatest rookie season by a quarterback we've ever seen.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 8:11 pm
 

For the gambler in you, Week 16

Babin

By Josh Katzowitz

Each week, we’ll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by Bovada for the upcoming week and give our take. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important post you’ll read all week. Because if you can’t lose money while watching a game in which you have absolutely no effect, what’s the point of watching sports at all?

Will Jason Babin tie or break the record of 22.5 sacks in a single regular season? 

Yes 5/1

Well, considering Babin doesn’t get to play against Brett Favre at all (“Thanks again, Brett,” says Michael Strahan), it’ll be tough to match Strahan’s record. Babin has 18 sacks and two more games to tie Strahan, and he’s be on fire recently, recording eight sacks in the past three games. That’s the good news. The not so good news is that the Eagles finish the season with the Cowboys and Redskins -- which rank 20th and 10th, respectively, in sacks allowed this season. So, while it might be tempting to take the odds, I think I’d probably go ‘no.’

Will Bear GM Jerry Angelo be fired before Game 1 of the 2012 regular season?     

Yes -140

No EVEN

Retired? Maybe.
Fired? No. While Caleb Hanie has been terrible since taking over for Jay Cutler, the Bears were on their way to the playoffs if their most important player didn’t get hurt. Now, if you’re asking Matt Forte, what he’d like to see happen, he might point toward a firing. But I don’t see it for now. That, however, doesn’t mean Angelo will be back next year.

Will Raheem Morris be the head coach of the Bucs for Game 1 of the 2012 regular season?     
   
Yes +110

No -150

I want to say yes, simply because the slide for the Buccaneers this season has been so steep. But I can’t stop thinking about last year’s surprising 10-6 finish that Morris helped orchestrate. I’d go no, but when Morris says things like this about his team, “You know, they’re not listening,” that’s certainly not a good sign.

Will either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Buffalo Bills win another game this season?

Yes -210

No +170

The Buccaneers play at Carolina and Atlanta; Buffalo plays host to Denver and then is at New England to end the season. Straight-up, I’d pick the Buccaneers and Bills to lose all of those games, but I think one team will end up winning one game. I’d bet ‘yes’ on this one, and cross my fingers.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 16, 2011 9:19 am
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Week 15 preview + Thurs review

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Thursday night's scorcher of a game between the Jaguars and Falcons kicked off Week 15's action, and the guys wonder whether Atlanta is getting hot at the right time, if Jacksonville has any hope and just how awesome Shahid Khan's mustache is.

Then they turn their attention to the rest of the week's slate, debating who's in more trouble if they lost Saturday between Raheem Morris and Jason Garrett, why Rick Perry is talking about Tim Tebow, how much trouble Sam Hurd is in and why he did the things he allegedly did, whether the Broncos can actually upset the Patriots, if the Eagles can make a run, why Joe Flacco is whining about Tim Tebow's media coverage and much, much more.

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

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



For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com