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Tag:New York Jets
Posted on: December 30, 2011 9:31 am
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Herzlich + Week 17 film room

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

The holiday season's had us off our game when it comes to podcasting (you try talking into a microphone when you've got 14 family members screaming in the background), but we've got a long one to get you through your Friday right now.

Andy Benoit joins Will to break down the NFC East "championship game" on Sunday night and compare/contrast Eli Manning and Tony Romo.

Ryan then chats up Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich about his first year in the NFL, being in the thick of a playoff hunt and how his work with Gatorade prepared him for the NFL.

Then Will and Andy break down all the remaining big games and discuss whether the Bengals can upset the Ravens, if the Jets are actually worthy of the playoffs, if the Broncos deserve to get beat by Kyle Orton, if Cam Newton's first year is the best rookie season ever, and much more.

Finally, Wilson talks to Michael David Smith of PFT about the Lions finally making it back to the playoffs and the week that was in the NFL. It's a jam-packed, holiday bonus show.

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.



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Posted on: December 29, 2011 11:42 pm
 

Sunday might mark LT's last NFL game

Tomlinson

By Josh Katzowitz

While Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor and Rams cornerback Al Harris say they are retiring for sure, Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson isn’t certain about his next move. He’d like to stay in New York (as would Brian Schottenheimer!) and play for at least another season, but if he doesn’t get an offer from a team he likes, he says he’ll retire.

“I’m going to wait and see what happens,” Tomlinson said, via the NY Daily News. “I would love to keep playing, but if the situation is not right, then I won’t. This possibly could be my last game.”

That doesn’t mean he HAS to play with Rex Ryan’s squad next season. But to suit up for a team like the Rams or Jaguars, um, no thanks.

“I played this game a long time,” he said. “I don’t want to go to someone that’s going to lose every week. That’s not going to be fun.

“If it is my last game, I’ve enjoyed 11 years of playing football. Playing a kids’ game. Two great organizations. Obviously being here the last couple of years, I’ve really enjoyed my time here… The fans have been great. My teammates have been great. The coaching staff. There’s nothing I can complain about.”

The Jets running game, the vaunted “Ground and Pound,” has been relatively weak this season, ranking 22nd in the league in rushing yards. Tomlinson, following a surprisingly good season last year after the Chargers determined he was out of gas, hasn’t been as effective this season. He’s suffered from knee problems, and he’s only carried the ball 64 times for 224 yards and a score (he’s also caught 38 passes for 426 yards and two more touchdowns).

At this point, it doesn’t seem likely the Jets would bring him back for another season, which means Tomlinson, just like Taylor and Harris, very well might be seeing his last action this Sunday.



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Posted on: December 29, 2011 8:41 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 9:49 pm
 

Is it time for Brian Schottenheimer to go?

SchottenheimerBy Josh Katzowitz

While the Jets supposedly are questioning whether Mark Sanchez is actually their quarterback of the future (a query that likely doesn’t bode well for Sanchez), observers and fans also have been pointing at the team’s offensive coordinator as somebody who needs to go.

That would be Brian Schottenheimer, whose offense ranks 27th in yards gained and, strangely, ninth in points scored. It’s strange because, in Schottenheimer’s five-year tenure as the team’s offensive coordinator, the points scored is tied for the Jets best performance under him but the yards gained ranks as the worst.

Either way, Schottenheimer has heard the whisperings, and he tries to ignore the rumblings that Rex Ryan should ax him.

Writes Rapid Reporter Lisa Zimmerman, “When asked how he can take all of the criticism in stride so well, OC Brian Schottenheimer cited growing up in the NFL and being the son of a coach as being a big advantage in being able to avoid worrying too much about what might happen down the road. He recalled his father, Marty, being fired after a 14-2 season.”

While Schottenheimer took the blame for the team’s offensive woes, he also said he doesn’t think Sunday’s game vs. the Dolphins will make or break his tenure. After all, we were talking about this topic 11 months ago and Schottenheimer seemingly didn’t have a problem returning this year.

"I think however we play this weekend, we’ll go back and we’ll look at it, and we’ll give a full evaluation of how we play," Schottenheimer said, via the Newark Star Ledger. "I am not worried about that at all. I want to play well, we need to play well, because there is certainly a chance for us to still make the playoffs. ... But again, I don’t worry about that."

One positive working in Schottenheimer’s favor, perhaps? The fact the team extended his contract two months ago until the end of 2013. But hey, if the team lets him go, there’s not much Schottenheimer can do about it at this point.

"I've been fired before," he said. "If you get in this profession, you're going to get fired. And the guys that sit there and worry about it are the guys that generally end up getting fired, because they are sitting there worried about it."




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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.

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Posted on: December 26, 2011 6:46 pm
 

Ryan: Sanchez is 'my guy,' no interest in Manning

Schottenheimer and Sanchez are under fire but Manning wouldn't be an offseason consideration for New York. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

First there was the ProFootballTalk report that the Jets, realizing what the rest of us already knew for some time, had finally come to the conclusion that Mark Sanchez might not be a franchise quarterback. There were also reports, courtesy of CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman, that while Sanchez may not have lived up to expectations, it's more likely that Brian Schottenheimer, the man responsible for calling 59 passing plays against the Giants Saturday, might be in more immediate danger of losing his job.

Well, good news, Mark. Jets head coach Rex Ryan said Monday that you're his guy.

“There’s no way that we’re looking to replace Mark Sanchez,” Ryan said on ESPN radio, according to the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta. “There’s no doubt… If they were both out there and you were starting a draft, I would take…. Would you take Peyton Manning? Yeah, I’d take Peyton Manning over anybody. I’m not saying that….. I’m not telling that lie. Of course, I would take him. But right now, when you’re looking at our football team and our franchise, obviously we feel great about our quarterback situation. Is he going to get better, he absolutely is. Is he perfect? Not by any stretch of the imagination right now. …. But we think he has the ability to be special."

Ryan concedes that Manning, when healthy, is the NFL's best quarterback ("I even put him over Tom Brady"), but that doesn't mean the Jets would be interested in him should he and the Colts part ways this offseason.

"Do I think it’s even a consideration for us?" Ryan asked rhetorically. "No, I don’t.” He also called the PFT report "not true," and reiterated that Sanchez "is my guy."

Ryan, perhaps still caught up in the holiday season, was in a giving mood Monday; he also threw his support behind his much-maligned offensive coordinator.

"I have a huge amount of confidence in both guys," he said. "There’s no doubt. I’ve stated it over and over my feelings about Mark Sanchez. I’ve said it before. No quarterback’s going to look great when that’s all you do… you fall behind. It wasn’t Mark’s best day by any stretch of the imagination, but we know he’s done it. And he’s been doing it. We have great confidence in him and I have great confidence in him. As far as Brian Schottenheimer is concerned,  shoot, we’ll just keep working side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder and we’re trying to find a way to beat Miami. I have confidence in him. I have confidence in all our coaches. We have to find a way to get it done.”

Schottenheimer has drawn plenty criticism for his pass-heavy game plans this season, and he's frustrated Jets fans pretty much since joining the staff in 2006. Still, he's rumored to be a head coaching candidate for any number of opportunities this offseason.

For now, though, Ryan likes his chances with Sanchez and Schottenheimer. And if the Jets want to make the playoffs for the third consecutive season, they'll need a lot of help. First things first: New York has to beat the Dolphins in Week 17, and then hope for a Bengals loss to the Ravens, Titans loss or tie to the Texans, and an Oakland loss or tie to the Chargers. Or: a Jets win, Bengals loss, Titans loss or tie, and a Broncos loss or tie.

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Posted on: December 25, 2011 8:00 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 10:15 am
 

Report: Jets are questioning Sanchez's future

Sanchez, RyanBy Josh Katzowitz

For the first time in his career, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez likely won’t be playing in an AFC title game after the Giants severely damaged their city rivals' postseason chances Saturday. Now, there’s a report that the Jets are questioning whether Sanchez is actually the team’s quarterback of the future.

That’s the word from Pro Football Talk, which reports that the Jets are internally asking themselves whether Sanchez is the right answer for them.

Almost from the moment Sanchez entered the league as a No. 5 overall pick in the 2009 draft, he’s been the subject of criticism from media and fans, and though he’s been impressive during the past two postseasons -- especially in road games -- his regular-season performances have been spotty.

This year, he’s completing 56.2 percent of his passes for 3,267 yards, 24 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, and each season, most of his numbers have improved slightly. But unlike, say, Matthew Stafford -- who, to be fair, was the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft -- it’s hard to imagine any observer placing the third-year player in the top-10 among league quarterbacks.

Now, to be clear, Sanchez hasn’t had much of a running game this year -- it ranks 22nd in the league -- and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has been the source of criticism for a sluggish offense that hasn’t done much of anything this season.

But as CBSSports.com’s Andy Benoit wrote last week, Sanchez is “as jittery in the pocket and as unreliable in his progressions as he was his rookie year, (and) the Jets’ passing attack is full of simplified one-read plays.”

Coach Rex Ryan has been resolute saying Sanchez is his guy, and it’d be a bit of a surprise for the Jets not to give Sanchez another year to see if he can figure out how to crack the top-10. But the fact there are rumors out there that he’s not the guy is not a good sign.

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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?



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Posted on: December 24, 2011 7:11 pm
Edited on: December 24, 2011 8:10 pm
 

Brandon Jacobs, Rex Ryan exchange insults

Rex Ryan and B. Jacobs had a confrontation after the game today (US Presswire).

By Josh Katzowitz

As we all know, Rex Ryan loves to talk trash. Sometimes, it works for the Jets. Sometimes, it doesn’t. Today, during his squad’s 29-14 loss to the Giants, it didn’t work at all. And Giants running back Brandon Jacobs was happy to tell Ryan exactly what he thought about him afterward.

B. Jacobs and Rex Ryan yelling at each other (US Presswire).After the game was complete, Ryan and Jacobs had a verbal altercation in which cursing from both sides was exchanged and an insulting “fat boy” was thrown around by Jacobs.

According to Jacobs, via Newsday, he did nothing to provoke Ryan, but Jacobs certainly felt the need to defend himself once the two met during postgame handshakes.

"I didn't say too much to him," Jacobs said. "He told me to shut the f--- up and wait until we win the Super Bowl, and I said I would punch him in his face . . . I told him, 'Out of all of these Giants football players on the team, you're talking to the wrong one.'"

Then, apparently, Ryan told Jacobs to go “f--- himself.” Later Jacobs said that Ryan had a “big, fat mouth.”

Aside from the acrimony about the Jets’ trash-talking (though Giants receiver Victor Cruz did some of his own this week), was the report that the Jets, who were the home team, placed black curtains over the Super Bowl championship logos that were painted on the walls of the New Meadowlands. Those curtains are there for all Jets home games, but the Giants thought that the move was disrespectful. Ryan was asked afterward about his confrontation with Jacobs.

"We had a private conversation," he said. "That's all I'll leave it as. Whatever. He doesn't like me. I respect him, but I could care less about him."

Mr. Jacobs, we’ll give you the last word.

"You need to shut up," Jacobs said. "That's that. He's a great coach, comes from a great coaching family, but he needs to shut up."


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