Tag:Jay Cutler
Posted on: September 12, 2011 10:14 am
Edited on: September 12, 2011 6:30 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 1

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 1 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.



It's rather unfair to the rest of the NFL to expect a legitimate follow-up to the Thursday night spectacular that was New Orleans and Green Bay. To the extent that folks wanted drama, the most spine-tingling moments came before the action on Sunday, as the NFL and the nation honored the 10-year anniversary of 9/11.

Fantastic job all around by the NFL and the various broadcast partners and the players and Reebok and everyone involved for really making Sunday a touching tribute to one of America's greatest tragedies. Can you really imagine what would have happened if there hadn't been football on the anniversary because of the lockout?

Obviously the nation would have moved on -- it's just sports. But the public relations hit would have been 100-percent inverse of the boost the league received on Sunday.

Not that it matters. There was football. And it was good and there were lots of stories. Many of whom we'll break down below. In the words of Jay-Z, "let's rock."

1. Yes We Cam
What did you expect from Cam Newton in his first start as an NFL player?

Because, no offense, but it doesn't really matter -- Newton set the world on fire en route to throwing for 422 yards and two touchdowns, plus rushing for another score.

Carolina still lost to Arizona in a close game, but that's not really important, as they're not a Super Bowl contender right now. What's important is that they appear to have finally gotten their franchise quarterback. And that makes one guy -- Steve Smith -- pretty happy.

"He was everything everybody didn't expect him to be," Smith said after the game. "He was on point, he made some great runs, he made some great reads, made some fantastic throws. He made some throws out there that honestly as a receiver it made it easy to catch them."

In case you missed it, Smith wanted out of Carolina all of last year while catching (or, if you prefer not catching) passes from Jimmy Clausen but after the Panthers drafted Newton, Smith eventually got back on board with staying in Carolina over the long(ish) haul.

It worked out pretty well for him on Sunday, because he caught eight passes for a 178 yards, numbers which should have the same effect on Smith as Newton's totals have on fans: obscuring the win-loss column.

As we noted on Sunday, Newton's 422 yards was the highest passing yardage total by a rookie, in their season opener, in NFL history. It's tied for the highest total for a rookie in any game, with Matthew Stafford's 422 in 2009 against the Browns.

And perhaps most crazy of all, it's the fifth-highest season opener total in NFL history. Not rookie history -- NFL history. Damn impressive stuff is what it was -- maybe Bo Jackson was right after all.

Newton, by the way, is already 11th on the Panthers all-time passing yards list.

2. Most Valuable Peyton

In a brutal twist of irony, while Kerry Collins was starting his first game as a Colt, stinking up the joint and causing Colts fans to start researching Stanford's schedule in 2011, he somehow managed to pass Joe Montana for the 10th-most passing yards in NFL history. That Collins did so was the lone bright spot for a Colts team that got absolutely drubbed by the Texans in the first game without Peyton Manning at the helm since 1998.

Sunday was just the second time since Indy drafted Manning that they trailed 17-0 after the first quarter, and the 34-0 halftime deficit for Indy was the largest in franchise history.

Look, everyone knows that Peyton is really good. And everyone knows that Peyton meant more to this team over the past few years than anyone could possibly imagine, and that the Colts wouldn't have won as many games as they have without him.

But is it possible to give someone an MVP award when they don't even play for an entire season simply based on how poorly their team plays without him? Of course not. If it was, though, Manning would warrant consideration in 2011 just based off what we saw in Week 1.

As for the long-term issue of Manning's health, it's really hard to imagine that the Colts would even consider trying to bring him back in 2011. There's a very good chance that by the time we get halfway through his aggressive rehab schedule the Colts are 0-4.

At that point, the season's over for all reasonable intents and purposes. By Week 8, when Peyton might be ready? Yeah, there's a good chance Indy's done then. And if they are, there's little-to-no sense in bringing him back at the risk of busting up his career to try and ruin a good shot at landing Andrew Luck.

3. The Steelers are terrible
Just kidding. But I really wanted to make sure we make at least one absolutely incorrect knee-jerk decision in this column. The Ravens might have been favored by a field goal against the Steelers on Sunday, but the consensus amongst all the experts was that the Steelers are a significantly better team, though because of the rivalry factor things would come down to a field goal in a close, bloody game.

Whoops on all counts.

Well, except the blood -- Pittsburgh strolled into M&T Bank Stadium and got absolutely stuck in the face by their rival and then spent all afternoon trying to figure out how to make the gushing stop, only it never did.

Ben Roethlisberger threw three picks and fumbled twice and the Steelers committed a whopping eight turnovers as they generally looked like a boxer against the ropes getting continually pummeled.

"That playoff taste, now it's over," Rice said. "Now we’ve got that burden off our shoulders, boom! We’re one up on them right now.”

The two biggest concerns for the Ravens coming into this season were the offensive line and the secondary.

The Ravens were mocked for their desperation in signing Bryant McKinnie shortly before the season began, mostly because McKinnie was reportedly clocking in around 400 pounds. (As reported Sunday, he's now making more money for weighing less. So that's nice.)

But he was a tremendous difference for Baltimore on Sunday afternoon, as he provided stability at the left tackle position and made some key blocks. He wasn't perfect, of course, but that's OK.

Especially because the most important benefit he provides Ravens is the ability to slot their offensive lineman in correct positions. If he's motivated, he could be a difference maker.

4. Falcons get mauled
Mea culpa time I guess: the Bears probably won't finish in last place in the NFC North. Ha. Yeah, I predicted that. They still could, and as long as that offensive line is as porous as it was against the Falcons, I'll stick by that prediction.

After all, New Orleans and Green Bay -- Chicago's next two opponents -- are not only good but they're not shy about blitzing heavily. That could mean plenty of Cutler getting tattooed six-and-a-half steps into his drops. If that.

And if Caleb Hanie has to play, the Bears will struggle mightily. But they'll have their defense which, well, yeah, per usual it's the reason the Bears are dominating.

"We still have to play up to the defense's level," Cutler said. "They're still carrying us."

Brian Urlacher and Julius Peppers, in particular, were beasts on Sunday. Peppers picked up two sacks, recovered a fumble and forced another fumble that Urlacher scooped and took the house. And Urlacher himself looked particularly spry, picking up an impressively athletic interception.

I'd still argue that the Bears have the makings of the third-best team in their division, but they are the defending champs and for some reason they will just not go away. Which should mean one or two angry comments from Bears fans every week. Sigh.

5. Living the dream
Many a writer ruthlessly mocked the Eagles this offseason for hogging the headlines, particularly when backup quarterback Vince Young decided to refer to Philly's squad as "The Dream Team."

It's still a stretch and I remain adamant that the metaphor is largely irrelevant for the game of football. (Case: in point, Philly's linebacking corps wouldn't exactly be starting for most other NFL teams.)

But my goodness -- the Eagles are just as explosive as last season, aren't they? LeSean McCoy is so sneakily fast for an every-down back that you don't realize it until re-watching him take the ball around the corner, past a defender and into the end zone.

The defensive line will swarm opposing quarterbacks and obviously the combo of Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson gives the Eagles the ability to score from anywhere. Seeing how Andy Reid operates in a close game going forward will be interesting though -- I saw some chatter about the Eagles running the ball immediately after Vick would get touched.

That pretty clearly, um, is a tell. And even if it's not something the Eagles are going to do every single series, it's something they have think about doing, because exposing Vick to multiple shots in back-to-back instances during games simply won't work if the Eagles want to dominate the way Vince Young expects them to.



6. These are your brother's Cowboys
They are not your father's Cowboys. And they're not even your uncle's Cowboys. These Cowboys like to score frequently and play quite well for about three and a half quarters.

And then things get tight and they choke.

The most disturbing thing about the way that Tony Romo handed the game to the Jets -- a pass intended for a gimpy Dez Bryant that Jessica Simpson could have intercepted, much less Darrelle Revis -- in typical, um, Tony Romo fashion.

As my man Mike Freeman wrote, it's precisely the kind of late-game debacling that causes people to think that Romo can't win big games or even close little games for the Cowboys.

"We win that football game if I don't do what I did," Romo said afterwards.

You simply can't fumble on the one-yard line (when a score would all but guarantee you victory) and then proceed to gift wrap a turnover for the other team when there's less than a minute remaining on the clock and the score is tied.

Going into what eventually turned out to be the final drive, Jason Garrett and Romo need to be on the same page regarding a few things. One, nothing stupid. Two, if you're going to force a pass, then you need to force the pass deep so the Jets don't get a free field goal. And three, nothing stupid.

Look, I get that the Jets used a defense designed to confuse Romo into thinking Dez was in single coverage and therefore force a ball his way. But he has lots of weapons. In fact, I was in the middle of writing how good I felt about my pick of Dallas to the Super Bowl because of their creative defense (Rob Ryan did outstanding work last night with limited manpower) and a high-octane offense so stocked with weapons that Kim Jong-Il is jealous.

All they need is Romo to put it together and stop being the stereotype that people put on him. He was doing all that until the Cowboys got in a position to put a tough road game against another Super Bowl contender on ice and he absolutely melted down.

7. Detroit hope city
Matthew Stafford's been getting pumped up all offseason long -- that he exploded in the preseason didn't help matters much, and that he was overdrafted by most fantasy football players helps even less.

So there were some funny moments in his eventual breakout on Sunday. First there was the early interception -- a pick-six by Aqib Talib -- against Tampa that made everyone realize that there were a lot of eggs in a basket. And no one really knew what the basket was built out of, except that it was probably the most fragile type of straw a man can find.

Then Stafford started going off ... except after his first touchdown pass he began cramping up. (Lots of cramping Sunday in case you didn't notice.) The world collectively held its breath as Stafford was examined on the sideline because, my goodness, it's early to be injured even if you're Stafford.

Instead, the former Georgia standout and No. 1-overall draft pick returned to the game and kept slinging teeters to Calvin Johnson, eventually finishing with 305 yards and three touchdown passes in Detroits 27-20 win over Tampa Bay.

Let's not get out of hand and start giving the Lions a playoff berth quite yet -- they certainly have problems, most notably in the secondary -- but there's reason to be excited for football in Detroit.

As long as Stafford can stay healthy anyway.

8. Rex Grossman is ... not bad?

I know, it's weird, but it might be true. Grossman appeared to be pretty darn competent most of Sunday. He threw for 305 yards on two touchdowns and backed up Mike Shanahan's seemingly inexplicable to name him the starter during the preseason.

It's not that John Beck is such a logical choice, it's just that, well, he's Rex Grossman. It seems to make no sense.

"Any typical kickoff weekend, your emotions are high," Grossman said after the game. "Being it's Sept. 11, 10th anniversary, Colin Powell's in the locker room giving you the pregame speech, and then coming out and the fans are chanting 'U-S-A.' I was overwhelmed. It was a fun day. It's a day I'll never forget."

Let's not get too high on Grossman just quite yet, because the Giants were basically trotting out a practice squad of players on defense after their starting lineup was ravaged by a ridiculous run of injuries during the preseason.

Maybe he is the answer at quarterback and maybe the Redskins could win the NFC East and maybe the Shanahans really are able to turn contaminated water into a Colt 45.

But we've seen Grossman light teams up -- like he did while tossing four touchdowns and 322 yards against Dallas in Week 14 of last year -- and immediately follow it up by laying an absolutely egg. Let's reserve judgment until we see his body of work over the span of a few weeks.

9. Go West, Young Man
We already covered Newton and his impressive rookie performance, but he wasn't the only rookie to have a big impact in Week 1.

Ryan Kerrigan returned an interception for a touchdown to help push the Redskins over the Giants, J.J. Watt terrorized the Colts defensive line, Patrick Peterson returned a punt for a touchdown that proved to be the difference maker against Carolina, A.J. Green caught the go-ahead touchdown pass for the Bengals, Randall Cobb trended on Twitter Thursday night thanks to his holy return, Tyron Smith was big on the line for the Cowboys, and Andy Dalton started out white hot … until Phil Taylor knocked him out of the game.

So yeah, very impressive week -- thus far anyway -- from an impressive group of young NFL players, especially given the shortened time frame they're working on.

10. Injured Rams
Not a great day for Steve Spagnuolo, huh? The Rams were seen by many, including yours truly, as a team on the rise in 2011. They play in a terrible division, they have anchors on both sides of the line, they have a franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford and they easily could have been a playoff team in 2010.

But a number of injuries during Week 1 are a quick reminder of how fragile success is in the NFL.

Steven Jackson pulled his quad which has "lingering" stamped all over it, Danny Amendola dislocated his elbow and could likely be done for the year and most terrifyingly, Bradford hurt his finger.

We don't know precisely what will happen to Bradford, but there was discussion of "nerve damage," which is scary as hell. Bradford downplayed the injury after the game.

"I don't see any way I'm not going to be on the field, to be honest with you," Bradford said.

Well, here's one way: if you're at risk for a bigger injury, the franchise won't let you near the Big Apple, even it's for a matchup against the would-be hapless New York Giants.

Put an APB out for:
Charlie Weis. Because from what I saw of the Chiefs offense on Sunday, they might be missing the guy who turned Matt Cassel into a Pro Bowler, Jamaal Charles into the best running back in the NFL last year, and Dwayne Bowe into a touchdown monster. We've touched on the fact that the Chiefs had a REALLY easy schedule in 2010. That's fine. But the offense has too many weapons to be scoring seven points against the Bills and not consider "If we did X last year and we're doing Z this year and Y isn't there anymore, gee what could be the difference?"

Muffed Punts
Leftovers from Sunday ...
... Anyone ever notice that Rex and Rob Ryan really look like George and Oscar Bluth?
... 49ers punter Andy Lee posted the third-highest average for punts in one game, smoking his 59.6 yards per punt.
... How does Joe Torre -- the Yankees coach during 9/11 -- not let baseball players wear NYPD and NYFD hats?
********

Worth 1,000 Words




Hot Seat Tracker

I'm hoping to have my fancy mathematical formula to track who's most likely to get canned up and running by next week, but in the meantime, we can break down coaches in trouble pretty simply. (That's mainly because of all the first-year head coaches -- it's pretty unlikely we see a lot firings between now and next season.)
  • Tom Coughlin -- Coughlin's got a plethora of injuries to fall back on, so maybe he can buy some more time. But the way the Giants lost to the Redskins Sunday, it's hard to imagine New Yorkers won't continue the annual tradition of calling for Coughlin's head.
  • Todd Haley -- What's worse: showing up for work without wearing pants or getting beat by the Bills 41-7 at home? Gotta be the latter.
  • Jack Del Rio -- Yeah, he won, but we need people to add to this list. Plus, he beat the Titans.
  • Jim Caldwell -- The "Manning Factor" for his job will be fascinating to watch this season.
MVP Watch
Peyton! No, but seriously, in the way-too-early glance at the MVP race, I'll go ahead and throw Philip Rivers out there, since he's fourth in passing yardage right now and the Chargers are 1-0. Also: Michael Vick.

And Ryan Fitzpatrick.

What? It's Week 1.

Posted on: September 8, 2011 4:58 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 5:09 pm
 

Film Room: Bears vs. Falcons preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



On paper, the top two seeds from last season’s NFC playoffs are both improved heading into 2011. Consequently, the Atlanta Falcons have become somewhat of a trendy Super Bowl pick. But the Chicago Bears? They’re the team most are picking to finish right behind Detroit in the NFC North. In analyzing five key threads these teams share, we might understand why.

1. Receiver Infusion
Thomas Dimitroff realized that Atlanta’s offense was a playmaker short of being nearly unstoppable. So, the fourth-year general manager traded five premium draft picks to move up and select Alabama wideout Julio Jones sixth overall.

Jones is a great fit because he’s not only a dynamic downfield threat who also has the thickness to go inside, but thanks to his days in the Crimson Tide’s black-and-blue offense, he’s also a savvy downfield blocker. That’s important, as Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey has always had a predilection for power runs out of two tight-end/two back formations.

In Chicago, with a system built around downfield routes out of three-and four-receiver formations, offensive coordinator Mike Martz needed more firepower outside. Instead of reaching for an unproven wideout late in the first round, overpaying for free agents Santana Moss or Santonio Holmes or taking a risk on Braylon Edwards (attitude) or Plaxico Burress (rustiness), the Bears acquired  Roy Williams after his star fully plummeted in Dallas.

Williams, a straight-line runner with big hands and feet, was never a good fit for the Cowboys’ shifty catch-and-run oriented system. But in the 28 games he played for Martz in Detroit, Williams produced 2,148 yards receiving. However, whatever optimism the Detroit success instilled was likely blown away by Williams’ dropped passes and admission to being out of shape this past August (candor has always been his Achilles heel).

Because the Bears refuse to admit that Devin Hester is merely a return specialist with modest slot receiving ability (i.e. NOT a starter), it was rising third-year pro Johnny Knox whom Williams supplanted in the lineup. Knox, who has superb speed and quickness and excellent chemistry with Jay Cutler, particularly in deciphering zone coverages, is eager to recapture his starting job (and thus, his leverage for a new contract in the near future). He will, if Williams continues to struggle. And the Bears’ passing game will essentially be right back in the same place it was a year ago.

The Falcons figure to clearly have an improved pass attack. The Bears are TBD.

2. Big meaty offensive lines
To put it politely, Atlanta’s and Chicago’s offensive lines both feature more size than athleticism. The lunch pail approach has worked great for the Falcons. They have a straightforward power-run offense that’s conducive to forming good chemistry up front. In the passing game (where a line’s athletic limitations get exposed), the Falcons rarely use more than three wide receivers, which makes an extra tight end or running back available to stay in and block. In short, the Falcons can bend their system for their offensive line.
 
The Bears, on the other hand, are more inclined to bend (or break) their offensive line for their system. Martz frequently has Cutler take seven-step drops, which only gives heavy-footed offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb, laterally stiff guard Chris Williams and the rest of the front more time to get beat in pass protection. Also, with the running back often being an important receiving option in Martz’s system, Bears linemen must shoulder more responsibility in blitz identification and pickup – an area in which they’ve struggled.

Hence, the 52 times Cutler was sacked last season.

3. The traditional  4-3 defense: evolve vs. resolve
Mike Smith was a classic zone-based 4-3 defensive coordinator in Jacksonville. But over his three seasons in Atlanta, he’s drifted away from vanilla Cover 2 tactics and towards more diverse blitzes and zone exchanges. Impressive considering he employs these tactics out of traditional base and nickel sets.
 
Lovie Smith was a classic zone-based 4-3 defensive coordinator in St. Louis. Over his seven years in Chicago, he’s ... remained a proponent of classic 4-3 zone-based defense.

The Bears are the only team that virtually still runs a fulltime strict Cover 2. They’ve made it work largely because they have two perfect linebackers for this scheme in Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. But as we’ll explore more in-depth another week, there are significant vulnerabilities to a Cover 2. Those vulnerabilities are why Smith and the Falcons have chosen to evolve.

4. The No. 2 defensive end
Arguably the best two defensive ends in the NFC are Julius Peppers and John Abraham. Both have devastating explosiveness off the edge and both can play the run (Peppers is by far the NFL’s best all-around run-stopping 4-3 end; Abraham is more finesse-oriented but is still underrated as a backside chaser).

What the Falcons learned last season is a pass-rush is incomplete without a second outside presence. Kroy Biermann is a very active run-defender, but he registered just three sacks in his debut season as a starter. So, Thomas Dimitroff spent $11 million (guaranteed) on free agent Ray Edwards, who each of the past two years in Minnesota posted at least eight sacks against frequent one-on-one blocking opposite Jared Allen. Edwards is also an adept all-around run-defender.

The Bears have a stalwart No. 2 pass-rusher of their own in Israel Idonije. Versatile enough to line up inside or outside, the ninth-year veteran tied Peppers for the team lead in sacks last season (eight). Idonije does not quite have Edwards’ quickness around the corner, but he’s one of the best in the league at executing stunts.

5. Safeties
Over the years, watching the Bears try out different young safeties in the starting lineup has been like watching Gilbert Brown try on outfits that don’t make him look fat. The Bears drafted Danieal Manning in ’06; Kevin Payne in ’07; Craig Steltz in ’08; Al Afalava in ’09; Major Wright in ’10 and Chris Conte in ’11.

All, with the exception of Conte, were given a shot at starting. And, assuming that newly signed Brandon Meriweather soon supplants Wright as the current first-string free safety, all were ultimately deemed unqualified.

The Falcons have taken a flier with young safeties, as well. The difference is theirs have succeeded. Thomas DeCoud, a third-round pick in ’08, started all 16 games each of the past two seasons. His instincts in coverage have improved and he’s a fast, firm open-field tackler.

His running mate, William Moore, a second-round pick in ’09, stayed healthy for the first time last season and showed genuine game-changing potential over 15 starts. Moore’s a fierce hitter who is developing in pass defense quicker than expected.

So who will win? Check out the video below. And see who our experts pick for all the Week 1 games


Read Andy's Film Room breakdown of Jets-Cowboys.

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter and contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: August 29, 2011 2:55 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 7:31 pm
 

Ndamukong Suh: I'm dirty 'when my mom tells me'

Posted by Will Brinson

Following the recent Detroit whipping of New England, CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote a column about Ndamukong Suh and how he's offically become a dirty player at this (early) point in his career.

The piece generated a groundswell of opinion from fans and media alike and on Monday, Suh was asked what he thought about being dirty. And he continued to defend his play, as well as use his mother as a reference for clean play in the NFL.

"I’m going to continue to play hard and play within the rules as I have been," Suh told CBSSports.com's Lions Rapid Reporter John Kreger. "When I'll consider myself a dirty player is when my mom tells me [I am]."

Suh also discussed the "punch" he threw at Logan Mankins, which he claims was necessary for the defense of a teammate.

"Everything happens in the trenches," Suh said. "You’re not just going to sit there [as a] teammate and walk away from ... your (teammate) being grabbed by his facemask."

Additionally, Suh said he didn't regret the incident and that he felt it fell within the "legal" boundaries of what's acceptable on a football field.

"Do I regret (the incident)? No," Suh told Kreger. "The funny thing about the whole situation is that I wasn’t the one who got the 15-yard penalty for grabbing the facemask ... I didn’t know you can’t help protect one of your teammates."

You can protect your teammates, but throwing punches at another player is a pretty quick way to pick up a large fine from the league. Suh said he didn't receive any penalty, however, because he discussed the incident with the officials at Saturday's game.

"I had a great conversation with the ref who saw the (incident)," Suh told Kreger. "He said, 'Next time, make sure you let me handle the situation, but I understand what you were doing, helping your teammate out.'"

The question is whether or not the league will understand what Suh was doing. And even if the guys who hand out fines at the NFL do get that he was protecting his teammate, it might not matter much, as Suh could certainly be facing a fine from the 280 Park Avenue.

In the meantime, expect plenty of continued debate about whether or not Suh is a dirty player (and feel free to weigh in below!). I'm personally of the opinion that he's so freaking strong it's nearly impossible for him not to look dirty and that certain incidents -- namely, the Jake Delhomme rag-doll toss in the 2010 preseason -- have led to the development of a reputation that Suh will find very hard to shake.

That's precisely why everyone was in an uproar (the league to the tune of $20,000) when he accidentally popped off Andy Dalton's helmet, and it's precisely why when he throws a punch there's more concern than if another NFL player did so.

But that's also part of being a defensive superstar with freakishly terrifying strength -- people are going to be keeping a closer eye on you.



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Posted on: August 18, 2011 9:02 am
Edited on: August 18, 2011 9:08 am
 

Suh will appeal $20,000 fine for hit on Dalton

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh tweeted Wednesday that he had been fined $20,000 for manhandling Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in the Week 1 preseason game between the two teams.

(One of the setbacks to communicating through social media, texting or email is that it's difficult for the reader to divine the true emotions being conveyed by the sender. Emoticons, ironically, only confused things. That said, Suh's tweet left little room for misinterpretation. The all-caps, rhetorical question marks, 108 exclamations points (!), and the "BIGFAIL" hashtag sorts gave him away.)

It should come as no surprise then that Suh will appeal the fine.

“Am I going to appeal it? Who wouldn’t?” Suh said Wednesday, according to the Detroit Free Press's Dave Birkett. “I mean, that’s my motto. Who wouldn’t? If you would, why wouldn’t I?”


Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) tosses an interception against Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, right, on his first play of the game in the first quarter of a NFL football game on Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman was at Bengals training camp this week and he asked Dalton if Suh was a dirty player.

"I can't answer that. I don't know," said Dalton. "I thought what he did with me was a little over the top. I can tell you some of my teammates weren't happy about it. ...It was good to see those guys get my back. Suh is a big guy."

This makes the third time Suh, the Lions' 2010 first-round pick, has been fined for hits (or, as you'll soon see, pushes) to the quarterback. During the 2010 preseason, Suh appeared intent on removing Jake Delhomme's head from his body during a game against the Browns. That cost him $7,500. During the regular season Suh was docked another $15,000 for shoving Jay Cutler. (Yep, you read that right -- it was a hard shove. We know what you're thinking: the savagery tackle football has become.)

Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said there's "no malicious intent" in Suh's game.

“I think what’s happened to him is I've never seen this player in my life, meaning there’s no one that’s ever played like this at defensive tackle," Cunningham said. "And if you watch the tape and you have any sense for athletes, that’s what you’re going to see. What happens to him, there were two guys blocking him in the game, he beat them both, clean as a whistle, and he felt like he had the tackle. The quarterback had the ball in his hand, and that was it, he took him down. And that’s what he's supposed to do."

To Suh's credit, he understands that his freakish combination of strength, speed and athleticism can sometimes make the mundane spectacular. And occasionally, spectacularly expensive.


“Honestly, I really feel that I put the refs in a tough situation because of my strength," he said. "A lot of us players growing up and coming in, we’re getting faster, stronger, and some guys just have incredible strength on that football field. So I feel like we put them in tough situations … I’m not going to fault them for making a call that they’re erring on the safer side, because safety is important. It’s important for myself, it’s important for a quarterback, it’s important for every last 22 players on the football field."

Despite concerns from some teams (most notably the Steelers), NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell retained the ability to punish players for both on and off-field behavior as part of the new collective bargaining agreement. Using history as a guide, Suh can go ahead and make that check out to his favorite NFL charity.

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Posted on: August 15, 2011 9:17 am
 

Ndamukong Suh: 'I haven't crossed any line'

Posted by Will Brinson

There are a number of folks that believe Lions defensive lineman and general manchild Ndamukong Suh is a "dirty" player. He got this reputation partially from two preseason games -- in 2010 he treated Jake Delhomme like a rag doll against Cleveland (he was eventually fined $7,500 after the NFL reviewed the hit) and then this past weekend he squeezed Andy Dalton so hard the rookie's helmet popped off.

Oh right, and for the hit on Jay Cutler that ended up costing him $15,000 last year. But Suh said Sunday that he doesn't believe he's "dirty."

"There's always a fine line of dirtiness and a fine line of aggressiveness," Suh said Sunday, per Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free-Press. "I know to this point that in my own heart that I haven't crossed that line by any means."

I've spoken to Suh a couple times and on occasion (one happened to be right after the Cutler hit), I've asked him about whether he plays dirty or not. And he always says the same thing -- he's not dirty. He's aggressive.

And I think there's an argument to be made for both sides. Suh's actions against Delhomme were clearly dirty, especially considering he extended the play beyond the actual contact with the quarterback (read: the sack). But I didn't feel like his "hit" on Dalton necessarily was "dirty" insomuch as it was "aggressive."

But Suh is -- quite obviously -- developing a reputation for being a dirty player. Whether or not he actually is won't matter when there's a call that's close.

Because in those situations the referees will continue to flag him and the league will continue to fine him. Although those hits may not matter much if Suh keeps playing as well as he does the rest of the time.

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Posted on: August 10, 2011 10:41 am
 

Jones-Drew has no plans to apologize to Cutler

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It all started in January, barely halfway through the NFC Championship Game between the Packers and Bears. Chicago quarterback Jay Culter left early in the third quarter with a knee injuy and didn't return. The problem: he didn't appeared injured enough for some fans, media and players. (Turns out, Cutler had Grade II MCL sprain so, yeah, it was plenty serious.) As a result, Twitter promptly blew up with thoughts from, well, everybody.

One of the most memorable tweets came courtesy of Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew: “Hey I think the urban meyer rule is effect right now... When the going gets tough........QUIT.. … All I'm saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee... I played the whole season on one...”

Surprisingly, that didn't go over well in Chicago. A few days later, Jones-Drew clarified his remarks to the Associated Press: “I never attacked him, called him soft or a sore loser. I never questioned his toughness. I think people took my joke out of context. I was taking at shot at Florida fans."

Fast-forward seven months and Jones-Drew was still being asked about the incident. In an interview with NFL Network, the Jags running back says he hasn't seen Cutler and he has no plans on apologizing if he does.

“I don’t regret anything I do,” Jones-Drew said, according to PFT.com. “You think about everything you put out there. I’m not going to be one of those guys to say, ‘I shouldn’t have done it.’ Because I did it. I knew what I was doing when I tweeted it. I just didn’t know that many people were following me at the time.”

We believe this is commonly referred to as the "Anthony Weiner defense" (made popular by Kenny Britt earlier this offseason).

“I haven’t gotten a chance to (talk to Cutler), but I wouldn’t apologize because I didn’t do anything wrong, I don’t think,” Jones-Drew said. “I didn’t commit a crime. I didn’t kill anyone or rape anyone or anything like that. I mean, I stated my opinion, and it seems like you get more backlash for that than committing a real crime in some sense. I feel like I didn’t do anything wrong, I just said what everybody else was thinking.”

Jones-Drew is right about that last part. Everybody was thinking that as they watched Cutler on the bench, appearing, well, uninjured.

But hey, it wasn't like MJD was the only guy making jokes about Cutler in recent months.

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Posted on: July 22, 2011 2:08 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 2:32 pm
 

Game-day rosters expand to 46, no third QBs

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The owners and players haven't yet agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement, but they have reached a consensus on this: the NFL Management Council has informed clubs that game-day rosters will increase from 45 to 46 players, and the emergency third quarterback designation no longer exists.

In practice, this means that teams will now dress their No. 3 quarterback as an active player or, take their chances with two QBs and use the roster spot for depth at another position. Which, save the rare occasion, isn't much of a rule change at all.

But as PFT's Michael David Smith points out, the emergency quarterback rule did come into play during last season's NFC Championship Game between Chicago and Green Bay. After Bears QB Jay Cutler left early in the third quarter with a knee injury, and with backup Todd Collins struggling, head coach Lovie Smith benched Collins for No. 3 QB Caleb Hanie.

At the time, the rules prohibited the Nos. 1 or 2 QBs from returning to the field since Hanie had played prior to the fourth quarter. To his credit, Hanie played well (and Cutler's knee injury was severe enough that he couldn't have played even if he wanted to), but the Bears still lost. Now with the new rule in place, the third quarterback can enter the game at any point without restriction.

In related roster news: according to a Thursday report from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Bob McGinn, an NFC personnel executive said that his team has been told that training camp rosters will be expanded from 80 to 90 players. 

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Posted on: July 5, 2011 3:49 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 5:03 pm
 

Hot Routes 7.05.11: Somebody wants Haynesworth



Posted by Ryan Wilson
  • Michael Clayton, the Bucs first-round pick in 2004, says his football career isn't over. In the last two seasons he caught 18 passes for 249 yards. After spending the first six years of his career in Tampa Bay, Clayton played with the Giants in 2010.
  • When Plaxico Burress was released from prison last month, the Eagles were considered one of the teams most likely to sign him. Now that the new-freedom smell has worn off, it sounds as if Burress is near the bottom of Philly's offseason to-do list.
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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