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Tag:Vincent Jackson
Posted on: March 5, 2012 9:34 pm
 

Bears, Bills interested in Vincent Jackson?

Despite their history, Vincent Jackson apparently would like to return to the Chargers. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

The Chargers may have stated repeatedly that they want wide receiver Vincent Jackson back in San Diego next season, but he's set to hit the open market. And when he does, there will almost certainly be a team (or three) willing to pay him more than what Chargers GM A.J. Smith deems fair.  Unsurprisingly, Smith understands this: "We would like to have him continue on with us, but other teams now will enter the picture."

The Chicago Tribune's Vaughn McClure writes that the Bears could be one of the teams interested in Jackson's services.

vxmcclure23
At least Bears can pursue Vincent Jackson, who didn't get tagged. Jackson and Cliff Avril appeared to be the top two free agent targets.
3/5/12 4:11 PM

Obviously, McClure sent the tweet before the Lions tagged Cliff Avril. Either way, Jackson's still available and ESPN's John Clayton echoes McClure, tweeting that he thinks "the Bears will make a big run at Vincent Jackson."

It's a perfectly reasonable assumption; running back Matt Forte was the team's leading receiver last season (52 catches, 490 yards, 1 TD), followed by Johnny Knox (37, 727, 2) and Roy Williams (37, 507, 2). But the NFL is a passing league and that means that the supply of franchise quarterbacks and big-play wideouts will always outstrip demand. So Chicago should expect competition for Jackson.

According to the Union-Tribune, the Bills could be one such team even though, you know, they just signed Stevie Johnson to a long-term deal. Details via Kevin Acee:

"It is believed the Buffalo Bills remain interested in Jackson despite signing Stevie Johnson to a five-year, $36.25 million deal on Monday. And, at least theoretically, Jackson was helped when Dwayne Bowe received the franchise tag from the Kansas City Chiefs.

Acee adds that despite Jackson's turbulent relationship with the Chargers' front office, Jackson's heart is in San Diego. "According to those familiar with his thinking, he has compartmentalized his feelings about the team and wants to remain a part of the offense led by Philip Rivers and devised by Norv Turner. He would, according to sources, take less from the Chargers than another team, though not a whole lot less."

Acee suspects that San Diego has a number in mind for Jackson, something less than $11 million a year. But if the two sides can't come to an agreement before March 13 at 4 p.m. ET, there's a good chance Jackson will have played his last game for the Chargers.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 5:33 pm
 

2012 NFL Franchise Tags: Winners and losers

Jackson's a big winner Monday, as he escaped the franchise tag like it was a defensive back. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

A record 21 players received a franchise tag in advance of Monday's 4 p.m. ET deadline, including six kicker-types. You can see everyone that got tagged at our 2012 NFL Franchise Tag Tracker. Let's break down the winners and losers below.

Winners

Vincent Jackson: Jackson held out most of 2010 because he wanted to get paid. He then signed his franchise-tag tender in 2011 because he wanted to get guaranteed money. Now that the Bolts declined to tag him, he's going to get filthy rich as one of the top two wide receivers to hit the free-agent market on March 13. Jackson and Marques Colston are the two top talents on a market that features several teams -- the Redskins, Rams, Jaguars, Vikings, and Seahawks, to name a few -- in need of a wideout.

Carl Nicks: Nicks reportedly hasn't heard anything on a new deal from the Saints and with New Orleans not reaching a deal with quarterback Drew Brees before the 4 p.m. ET deadline, Nicks is going to hit the open market on March 13. He's 26, a two-time Pro Bowler and made the All-Pro team in

Matt Flynn: Flynn wasn't expected to receive a tag from the Packers, but it's official now, and that means he'll hit the free-agent market. This is critical for Flynn given the number of quarterback-needy teams out there. It's also critical because the Packers won't control his next destination; if they tagged Flynn for the price of $14.4 million guaranteed (which he would sprint to sign), then they'd almost certainly end up trading him. Now Flynn gets to land a bigger contract on the open market.

Brandon Carr: The Chiefs decided to use their franchise tag on wideout Dwayne Bowe. That's a smart move, considering they signed cornerback Stanford Routt recently. But it also means that Carr, a 25-year-old defensive back coming off his best season in 2011, will have the chance to hit the open market. Young free-agent cornerbacks are a coveted commodity, and Carr should expect to get paid handsomely.

Stevie Johnson: The leverage of the guaranteed money involved with using the franchise tag on a wide receiver ($9.4 million) coupled with the deadline on Monday really escalated the talks with the Bills and Johnson, and he ended up netting a deal worth $7.25 million per year. That's not exactly on par with the highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL, but

Losers

Wes Welker: The Pats could very well end up getting Wes Welker signed to a long-term deal, but he can't be happy about being put in a situation that could have him not reaching full free agency until he turns 32 (he'll turn 31 in May of this offseason) if the Patriots simply want him to play another year on the franchise-tag value. Welker would've hit a market that paid him handsomely and it might be difficult for the Patriots to pay him the money he wants over longer period of time. We could see a holdout here.

New Orleans Saints: As if things weren't bad enough for the Saints -- see here, here, here, here, here and, whew, here -- they're likely going to lose their top wide receiver (Marques Colston) and one of their top offensive linemen (Nicks) to free agency. Their quarterback (Drew Brees) is not happy with his contract situation, and losing two weapons like that won't do much to improve his mood. So once they get done with BountyGate, there should be plenty of more fun to deal with.

Cliff Avril
: Detroit should be thrilled that they bring Avril back, but that doesn't mean the defensive end has to be happy. He's not, because he knows he'd kill on the open market this season. He'll get more than $10 million guaranteed next year and that's why it seemed possible that the Lions could let him walk -- they've got more than half their salary cap tied up in Avril, Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh and Calvin Johnson next year. So there's some good news: the Lions very much would like to lock up Avril to a long deal.

Houston Texans
: The Texans locked up Arian Foster to a five-year deal that takes him through his 30-year-old season, which is perfect timing for a running back. But it's also giving a lot of money to a running back. (Foster is a tremendously talented guy, a perfect fit for what the Texans do, a great pass-blocker, a great pass-catcher and many other things. But he is still a running back.) On that same day, they were unable to secure Mario Williams, who was their No. 1 pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. Super Mario will become a free agent, and unless he's willing to take a serious discount to stay with the Texans, it's hard to fathom how they keep him.

Pittsburgh Steelers: It seemed like the Steelers decision to go on a cutting spree and get below the salary-cap line would result in them using the franchise tag on Mike Wallace, who's a restricted free agent. They didn't and because of a confluence of events, they could be in trouble. One, Stevie got $7.2 million a year just now. Two, Jackson and Colston will get big money in free agency. And three, various tags on other high-profile wide receivers will draw more interest for teams that could consider giving Wallace an offer sheet. He may very well end up staying with the Steelers, but there's at least reason to be concerned.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 4:18 pm
 

No franchise tag for Chargers WR Vincent Jackson

Jackson's time with Rivers might be at an end. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Monday's 4 p.m. ET deadline for franchise came and went and Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson did not receive the franchise-tag designation, the team announced.

Jackson's arguably the top wideout on the market (though Marques Colston obviously has a case) but because the Chargers tagged him in 2011, another year would've been prohibitive, as the Chargers note it would have cost $13.7 million to franchise Jackson.

Now he'll hit the free-agent market, and he should get straight paid.

"We discussed it again this morning, and nothing changed," Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said Monday. "We did not like the franchise number, never did. Vincent will enter the market, and we will see what happens. We would like to have him continue on with us, but other teams now will enter the picture. We will now evaluate our contract proposal, and proceed accordingly."

The Chargers have stated repeatedly that they'd like Jackson back in 2012, and it's hard to blame them. Jackson recorded 1,000-plus yards in three of the past four years. The one year he didn't surpass 1,000 yards was in 2010, when a holdout and suspension resulted in him missing the first 11 games of the season.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 2:16 pm
 

Report: Redskins want 'high-profile' FA wideout

Wayne and Garcon could reportedly be targeted by Washington. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The Redskins, under Dan Snyder, are often referred to as the "offseason champs." This is not a good thing. But what might be a good thing, if the Redskins are truly intent on moving up to grab Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, is adding a talented wide receiver to a roster that features Jabar Gaffney the No. 1 target.

According to a report from Mark Maske of the Washington Post, the 'Skins have plans to do just that, and plan to add a "high-profile wide receiver" in free agency, rather than try and improve their wideouts via the draft.

The free-agent market for wide receivers is a good one, with guys like Marques Colston, Vincent Jackson, Reggie Wayne and Stevie Johnson all likely to hit the open market. DeSean Jackson, Wes Welker and Dwayne Bowe could also be available, although all three are expected to be franchised. (Maske specifically lists Vincent Jackson, Colston, Pierre Garcon as targets.)

Pursuing a wide receiver in this market, then, is a smart thing. There's talent to be had, and it's talent that's proven, rather than a risk in the draft. Additionally, the Redskins biggest need is at quarterback. And pursuing a "high-profile" wide receiver in free agency will help them no matter who they add under center.

If Washington's trying to pursue a big-name quarterback like Peyton Manning (provided he does, as expected, become available), adding a talented wideout will only make the team a more attractive destination, particularly if Manning wants to continue playing with Wayne in a new destination.

Should the Redskins make a hard push for both Wayne and Garcon, it's a clear indication of where they're going in their quarterback search. But it's a smart plan regardless, because if the Redskins end up missing out on Manning but landing RG3 in the draft, he'd be aided tremendously by the presence of veteran, talented wide receivers on the roster.

And the same thing applies to any quarterback that ends up with Washington. Even if the worst-case scenario plays out and Washington is forced to settle on someone like Kyle Orton to step in and play, it's pretty obvious that Orton will be better with players like Wayne and Garcon than he would be with someone like Gaffney.

Of course, that's all predicated on the Redskins taking a smart approach to their wideout plan and not out-pricing themselves. And that's never a guarantee when we're talking about Snyder's squad.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 5:11 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 1:29 am
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Wide receiver rankings

The 2012 free-agent wide receivers is a stacked group of players. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Leading up to the start of free agency on March 13, we're compiling the best 2012 NFL free agents by position. These are the wide receivers.

Everyone knows the NFL is a passing league these days and that you need an elite quarterback to succeed. But take a look at the teams who made the playoffs in 2011 and you might just realize that having talented wide receivers is a must too. (Just ask Eli Manning.)

Only the Ravens, 49ers and Broncos bucked the trend, and there are mitigating circumstances. Each of those teams is run-heavy, and each of those teams has burned an early-round pick on a wideout -- Torrey Smith, Michael Crabtree and Demaryius Thomas, respectively -- in the last three years. So it’s not like they’re not trying here.

The need for wideouts was especially glaring amongst the NFL’s dregs: the Jaguars, Rams, Browns, Vikings, Redskins and Buccaneers all have something on common besides their terrible records.

Good news, then, for those teams -- this free-agent class is absolutely stacked with talented wideouts. A good portion of them could be franchise-tagged, but the guys who make it to the market are going to get straight paid.

1. Wes Welker

Breakdown: Welker’s considered the perfect fit for the Patriots, and it’s hard to argue: his numbers working in New England’s system since 2007 are absolutely bananas. 111 catches, 1,221 yards and six touchdowns ... on average. “The Patriot Way” might mean one thing on the field and at press conferences, but in the front office it means not over-paying for veterans who want too much money. That’s what Welker is right now, as he’s reportedly seeking $14-15 million per year, more than the Pats have probably invested in all their wideouts in a long time. Franchise-tagging Welker has “hold-out” written all over it, and there’s a common belief that Bill Belichick will call Welker’s bluff and let him test the market.
Potential Landing Spots: Patriots, Jets, Rams, Bears

2. Mike Wallace

Breakdown: Wallace is a restricted free agent and what happens to him this offseason is one of the more fascinating storylines to emerge from the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. If the Steelers simply tender Wallace at their non-franchise-tag max, a team in need of a deep threat could negotiate a deal with Wallace. Pittsburgh would have the right to match, but they’re in a major cap quagmire right now; if the team offering Wallace the contract simply front-loaded the deal, it would be nearly impossible for the Steelers to retain him.

They’d get a first-round pick in return, and you can bet Kevin Colbert will turn it into something nice. But there’s no better way to hurt your competition than by taking one its best players. Good news emerged for the Steelers on Thursday, as they restructured Ben Roethlisberger's contract and may have gotten under the cap. Now they just need to whack another $10 million off their total and Wallace, who is just 25 and has averaged 66 catches, 1,225 yards and nine touchdowns the past two seasons, can "finish his career" in Pittsburgh.
Potential Landing Spots: Steelers, Ravens, Patriots, Bears

3. Marques Colston

Breakdown: Colston’s the rare player who re-negotiated his rookie contract after just two years. But that’s what happens when you crank out back-to-back seasons with more than 1,000 yards and establish yourself as Drew Brees’ top target. Colston’s no longer the true No. 1 option in New Orleans -- Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles were more involved in the passing game in 2011 -- but he’s got the tools of an elite wide receiver. And at age 28 and as the only guy not sweating a franchise tag, he’s going to get paid like one too.
Potential Landing Spots: Bears, Rams, 49ers

4. Dwayne Bowe

Breakdown: Bowe was a 50/50 shot to make it to the market, because the Chiefs also needed to retain cornerback Brandon Carr. But then KC landed Stanford Routt after the defensive back was discarded by the Raiders. That gives the Chiefs some flexibility with Bowe; they can franchise tag him and try to re-sign Carr later. Bowe’s a hulking presence on the field and a physical receiver capable of acrobatic and explosive plays.

Somehow he’s broken out twice in his short career (no, really, he has, even though he's just 27), and it’s scary to think what he could do in a high-octane offense with an elite quarterback. Don’t expect him to hit the market just yet though; the Chiefs can't afford to lose him in what should be a rebound year for KC's offense. He's well worth the $9.4 million.
Potential Landing Spots: Chiefs

5. Vincent Jackson

Breakdown: The Bolts reportedly want to pay V-Jax and keep him in San Diego long term. Which is a fantastic sentiment, but one that’s too tardy to get Jackson to take a deal that doesn’t max out his value. Because he was franchised in 2011, his franchise-tag salary for 2012 would be prohibitive. There’s some concern with his off-field history; Jackson's got a pair of DUI arrests on his record. But if A.J. Smith can’t lock him up between now and March 13, he’s going to make a boatload.
Potential Landing Spots: Bears, Chargers, Jaguars, 49ers, Rams

6. DeSean Jackson

Breakdown: The Eagles are expected to use the franchise tag on D-Jax, but there’s also a possibility that they’ll look to deal him elsewhere after locking him into that tag, which means another team would likely shell out an extension for the oftentimes troubling wideout. Howie Roseman said at the combine that the Eagles want to work something out long term with the receiver.

Jackson’s a home-run hitter and one of the most explosive receivers in the game, but he also feels like a powder keg at times. He’s held out from Eagles camp, he’s talked openly about wanting more money, he’s been vulnerable to injury and he’s been accused of not trying his hardest on the field at times. Will that change if he gets a big contract?
Potential Landing Spots: Eagles, Redskins, Bears

7. Brandon Lloyd

Breakdown: It’s considered a near lock that Lloyd will figure out a way to land with in New England; he’s hitched his wagon to new Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. There’s good reason for that: McD is the guy who turned him into a Pro Bowler in Denver and salvaged his career. Lloyd would fit what the Patriots need well, as a wide receiver not named Ochocinco who can actually still stretch the field. But don’t count out the Rams -- Lloyd told us at the Super Bowl that with a new coaching staff in town, he’s certainly interested in sticking around and helping Sam Bradford grow.

There are some concerns with Lloyd. He's older (he'll turn 31 in July), the majority of his success came while working directly with Josh McDaniels. And there's Lloyd's 45.5 percent catch rate (according to Pro Football Focus, that's the fourth-lowest among wideouts who played at least 50 percent of their team's snaps), which could be alarming. But you could also point to the quarterbacks -- Tim Tebow, Kyle Orton, a dinged-up Sam Bradford, Kellen Clemens and A.J. Feeley, as the problem there.
Potential Landing Spots: Patriots, Rams

8. Stevie Johnson

Breakdown: It’s hard not to be fascinated by Johnson. A seventh-round pick out of Kentucky, Johnson came on strong during the 2010 season, catching 82 passes for 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns. He repeated the feat in 2011, posting similar, albeit slightly depressed numbers. But it’s also hard not to be frustrated by Johnson. He cost his team a pair of wins -- against the Steelers in 2010 and the Jets in 2011 -- thanks to dropped passes that came after aggressive touchdown celebrations (the drop against Pittsburgh was the week after his "Why So Serious?" shot at Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens).

Johnson says he’s done with those now, but the only way he’s going to get elite money ($8 million per year range) is if someone actually believes him. The one thing no one's talking about with Johnson, though, is his ability to put up big numbers against all-world Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. In four games against the Jets over the past two years, Johnson's piled up 19 catches for 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His final performance against Revis in 2011 -- eight catches for 75 yards and a teeter -- should especially have, as Mike Freeman wrote in November, fellow AFC East coaches curious
Potential Landing Spots: Bills, Bengals, Rams, Jaguars, 49ers

9. Reggie Wayne

Breakdown: Lost in the whole Peyton Manning shuffle is the way that the Colts appear to be discarding Wayne, one of the organization’s all-time great receivers. Wayne grew up under Marvin Harrison, honed his craft with Manning and turned into one of the best receivers in the NFL. He’s clearly lost a step at this point, but if a team wants a veteran who can lead in the clubhouse and on the field, or simply someone who runs ridiculous precise crafts and works his tail off to prepare, Wayne’s going to be a fantastic addition. Belichick’s openly stated his admiration for Wayne, so New England’s not out of the question. He could also simply heading wherever Manning lands.
Potential Landing Spots: Patriots, Dolphins, Redskins, Cardinals, Jets

Honorable Mention: Laurent Robinson, Robert Meachem, Mario Manningham, Eddie Royal, Jerome Simpson, Pierre Garcon

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Posted on: December 24, 2011 11:32 am
 

Report: V-Jax would be out in less important game

The Bolts need Jackson bad enough that he'll likely play through injury. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

In the middle of the week, Vincent Jackson suddenly appeared on the Chargers injury report with a groin injury. It was concerning, but there never appeared to be an issue with the wide receiver actually playing.

Until Sunday anyway; Adam Caplan of the Sideline View reports that Jackson is actually a lot more hindered by his groin injury than people believe. According to Caplan, had this been "another game of lesser importance, he probably would be listed as doubtful or out." Caplan notes that Jackson still wants to "test his injury in warmups" before deciding whether or not he'll play.

What makes Jackson's status interesting is the timing of the games on Sunday as it relates to the playoff race. San Diego doesn't play until 4:15, while Denver and Oakland suit up at 1:00 p.m. ET Saturday.

Should the Broncos win and the Raiders lose, Denver would clinch the AFC West. If that happens San Diego could only make the playoffs via the wild card and would need the Jets and Bengals to both lose at least once over the next two weeks.

So a Denver win and an Oakland loss means that the Chargers aren't quite as alive as they were after last week and we could potentially see Jackson on the sidelines.

Even if V-Jax does play, there's a pretty good chance he serves as a decoy of sorts, and Norv Turner and Philip Rivers will run the offense through Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd.


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Posted on: December 22, 2011 10:01 am
 

Film Room: Lions vs. Chargers preview


Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

The Lions were that Feel Good team of 2011. Then they started shoving coaches after the game, hitting quarterbacks after the throw, fighting opponents after the play, stomping linemen after the whistle and meekly apologizing for it all after the fact. Thus, they’re now the team everybody wants to see get its comeuppance.

In some ways, they’re like the Chargers – a team that, over the years, has mastered the art of irritating casual onlookers. They haven’t done it with reckless hostility, but rather, perplexing underachievement. If the NFL were like college basketball, where Final Four appearances and division titles mattered, the Chargers would be a dynasty.


Instead, they’re the club that always falls on its face but somehow manages to sneak into the postseason…only to fall on its face again. At least during the regular season they get hot at the right time – this year looking like no exception.

Let’s breakdown these two irritating clubs.

1. Motion
The Chargers offense is perhaps the best in football at using presnap motion to dissect a defense and create favorable matchups. Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan recently took a page out of Norv Turner’s playbook.

After operating out of static formations virtually all season, the Lions created glaring mismatches by motioning Calvin Johnson into the slot against the Raiders last week. The results were extraordinary: Johnson, often working against Oakland’s backup safeties, had a career-high 214 yards receiving. Matthew Stafford threw for 391, with four touchdowns and no turnovers.

It might reason that the Lions will use more presnap motions this week, but that’s not a sure thing. If creating big-play opportunities were as simple as putting players in motion, Linehan would have had his players doing that long ago. But when you change your formation, the defense changes. When the defense is playing man, the changes are easy to read. But when the defense is playing zone, things become more complex.

With an inexperienced quarterback (Stafford will be making only his 28th start Sunday), fairly young tight end (Brandon Pettigrew), rookie wide receiver (Titus Young) and athletic but somewhat unrefined superstar (Johnson), Linehan may once again prefer to keep the Chargers defense – which usually plays to the situation, meaning zone on early downs and man on third down – as static as possible. The drawback with a static offense is it’s obviously easier for the defense to decipher, as there are fewer complexities in route combinations.

2. The running backs
Ryan Mathews has improved throughout his second season. He has the quickness, lateral agility and tempo-changing ability to create his own space or turn the corner. Physicality, down-to-down consistency, ball security and durability remain issues. In a pinch, the Chargers know they can fall back on the powerful, surprisingly versatile Mike Tolbert.

The Lions’ run game became an afterthought when rookie Mikel Leshoure’s Achilles tore in August. Statistically, things actually picked up on the ground for Detroit after receiving-oriented Jahvid Best went out with a concussion.

When healthy, Best’s replacement, Kevin Smith, has shown some suddenness and shiftiness, which makes him a good fit for this shotgun system. But overall, Detroit is unquestionably a pass-first team (28th in rushing yards, 31st in rushing attempts). That’s fine – as their 28 points per game (fourth best in NFL) attest.

3. Chargers O-line vs. Lions D-line
Figure San Diego must score 30 points to beat Detroit. That would have been dicey a few weeks ago when left tackle Marcus McNeill and left guard Kris Dielman first went down with injuries. But with left tackle Jared Gaither coming aboard and relieving helpless backup Brandyn Dombrowski, the front five has stabilized. Dielman’s replacement, Tyronne Green, has settled down in pass protection, and center Nick Hardwick has looked like his former Pro Bowl self.

Philip Rivers is arguably the best in the business at stepping into throws with defenders bearing down. He doesn’t need a clean pocket – just protection that can hold up for a seven-stop drop. The Chargers are up to the task, even if they’re facing the Lions’ high-octane front four. Last week, that front four was actually neutralized by a middle-tier Raiders bunch that had struggled mightily in prior weeks.

4. Rivers and his receivers
If Rivers is not under duress, he’ll throw for at least 325 yards Sunday. The Lions play some of the most basic Cover 2 and Cover 3 zones in football and simply don’t have the personnel to stay with Vincent Jackson or Malcom Floyd – especially with starting free safety Louis Delmas out.

Lions corners Chris Houston and Eric Wright are at their best playing off-coverage, where they can see a route develop in front of them and drive on the ball. The vertical nature of San Diego’s passing game, which is heavy on double moves, can be anathema to that brand of cornerbacking.

Inside, though Detroit’s linebackers can run, and though middle ‘backer Stephen Tulloch can play with depth in zone coverage, the Antonio Gates factor is still a major plus for the Boltz. Gates looks healthier than he has all season.



5. Screen game
Last week the Raiders became the latest team to successfully attack the Lions with screen passes. Because the Lions’ front seven defenders all play with their ears pinned back, offenses frequently use delay and misdirection tactics to coax them out of position. The faster a defender reacts in the wrong direction, the more daunting his recovery task.

San Diego regularly incorporates its running backs in the passing game (Tolbert and Mathews each have 47 receptions on the season). Expect several of the running back’s passes to be screens this week, especially early in the game when the Lions will, as always, will be amped up.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 8 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: December 9, 2011 9:46 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 9:48 pm
 

Even if fired, Turner, A.J. Smith should be OK

Turner, SmithBy Josh Katzowitz

As just about everybody here at CBSSports.com has predicted, Chargers coach Norv Turner likely will be fired after this season, and there’s also a pretty decent chance general manager A.J. Smith will get a pink slip in his final paycheck (probably because the season has "snowballed out of control," moreso than most would have thought).

That’s especially true if Chargers owner Dean Spanos wants to go after former Titans coach Jeff Fisher, because there’s a high probability Fisher wouldn’t take the job if Smith is still in the GM chair.

But according to the San Diego Union Tribune, neither Turner nor Smith should fret too much about their job security. That’s because sources tell the paper that both men would be in high demand if and when they’re banished from the Chargers franchise.
 
As reporters Kevin Acee and Andrew Burer write, “League sources have said over the past two weeks that if Turner is fired he will be in high demand as an offensive coordinator and his availability could even prompt teams to drop current coordinators. Smith is also predicted to have multiple opportunities should he be jettisoned. … It is believed Smith will be a candidate when the Oakland Raiders hire a general manager job and also be in line for possible job openings in St. Louis and Miami.”

Turner running out of time
That’s because, even with their failings in San Diego, the two are talented football men. Turner was an offensive coordinator in Dallas in the early 1990s when the Cowboys were one of the top offensive teams in the NFL. Unfortunately for Turner, he was not a good head coaching hire for the Redskins, and though the Chargers have had good seasons in the Turner era, he certainly hasn’t taken the organization to the elite level.

Smith took over the GM role in 2003, and since then, the Chargers have had four seasons of at least 11 wins. But his contract disputes with Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill last year have scarred his reputation, and Turner’s failings have become Smith’s failings as well.

Though Smith still has three years and $6 million left on his current contract, it’s seeming likelier that he won’t be around after this year. As one of Acee’s sources said earlier this month, “The needle [on Smith's possible firing] has moved from 50/50 to 75/25."

And for Turner, that needle is at about 100 percent.




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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