Posted on: December 28, 2011 9:10 am
Edited on: December 28, 2011 9:41 am
OPENING HIT: This week will likely be Jason Taylor's last game. The Miami Herald reported he will be retiring after a 15-year career. Is he a Hall of Famer?
This is what I do know. Taylor had the kind of career every player dreams to have. He played 15 seasons, a remarkable stint for a defensive lineman. He had a major impact on the sport as a top pass rusher. He had 139 1/2 career sacks. That is a staggering amount and he will finish his career trailing, as the Herald reported, only Bruce Smith, Reggie White, Kevin Greene, Chris Doleman and Michael Strahan. White might be the best defensive lineman of all time, Smith is probably top five, and Strahan deserves to be in the Hall. Again, Taylor is in good company.
Taylor was also a great representative of the sport. Now, that doesn't matter for the Hall of Fame. Lawrence Taylor is in the Hall of Fame and he was, ahem, not exactly a good dude. The Hall is all about numbers and impact but the fact Taylor wasn't snorting coke between snaps will help.
Back to the original question. Is Taylor a Hall of Famer? I'd probably vote for him. Longevity means a great deal to me and what Taylor did, play at a high level for a long time, means even more.
Posted on: December 27, 2011 8:02 am
OPENING HIT: On Monday night just minutes before Drew Brees would begin his successful assault on Dan Marino’s career passing record, a felon convicted of mail fraud and conspiracy shook hands with several Saints executives. Mike Ornstein was back. He apparently couldn’t resist the big night.
Ornstein was spotted by CBSSports.com’s Larry Holder speaking with Saints officials. In November of 2010, Ornstein was sentenced by a district court in Cleveland to eight months in prison after he scalped Super Bowl tickets and football jerseys that were fraudulently claimed to have been worn during NFL games.
This was no tiny enterprise or small crime. Ornstein made a lot of money ripping people off. Not to mention he already had a 1995 conviction for mail fraud on his record.
Ornstein served his time in prison and he has a right to a post-incarceration life. Hell, there have been star players who went to jail and returned to football. See: Vick, Mike. Vick ran an operation that fought and killed dogs and yet he’s playing in the NFL again.
That’s actually understandable. Vick gives a team a chance to win a Super Bowl and if there is one thing we’ve learned about the NFL some teams would sign Gaddafi if he could help them win (and if he were, you know, not dead). That I get.
But why would the Saints allow Ornstein around? Why risk the embarrassment? Why tick off the NFL office which I know for a fact despises the idea of him hanging around the Saints (and hated – yes, hated – that he was in New Orleans on Monday night). What’s the payoff?
It’s truly confounding. I think part of it is Payton sticking his thumb in the league’s eye. Payton is arrogant that way.
I have a feeling we’re going to see more of Ornstein hanging around the Saints post-lockup. In fact, he was in the locker room after the game on Monday wearing a Saints NFC South champion hats. Can’t make this stuff up.
That is not good for the Saints or the NFL.
But the Saints don’t seem to care.
Posted on: December 26, 2011 11:50 pm
Jon Gruden is leaning towards returning to coaching, two sources close to the situation confirmed to me.
The San Diego Union-Tribune first reported that Gruden had decided to return to coaching next season.
However, two sources said late Monday night that while Gruden is indeed leaning towards returning, it's not certain. But some of this might be semantics. I'm told Gruden wants to see what positions he could possibly get before making a 100 percent final decision and that he hasn't officially made one yet because of the uncertainty.
(I was also told Gruden didn't expect this news to get out so soon.)
But again, semantics. He wants to come back. That's the important part of this story. And while I fully expect Gruden to issue a statement with some sort of non-denial/denial saying he's happy at ESPN, he's eyeing a return.
Gruden wants to coach again as soon as possible. That part is fact.
"He's ready to leave television," said one source, "but only if the right job is out there."
And that job, as the Union-Tribune reported, could be the St. Louis Rams.
Posted on: December 26, 2011 10:17 am
Edited on: December 26, 2011 10:22 am
OPENING HIT: This weekend Mark Sanchez threw 59 passes. He was sacked five times and you could almost see him losing confidence as the game went on against the Giants. It was understandable. This isn't what the Jets were constructed to do and Sanchez isn’t the type of quarterback who can shoulder that kind of load.
I think that’s where the Jets are headed. If the Jets fail to make the postseason someone has to lose their job. It’s the NFL way and it likely won’t be Sanchez.
Posted on: December 26, 2011 9:14 am
OPENING HIT: Former player Cris Carter said this on ESPN: "We're in love with Peyton Manning too much." Sounds nonsensical at first (and not that there's anything wrong with that) but there is a great deal of truth to his statement. A great deal. And I believe the Colts think the same thing as Carter.
What did Carter mean? Manning has gone through two surgeries. He missed an entire season with a dangerous neck injury. He's older. And while Manning missing the season demonstrates his value to the franchise it also demonstrates that the Colts are far from just one player away. That entire roster needs a dramatic overhaul.
Manning is the logical place to begin. That's what Carter meant. We're so in love with Manning that sometimes logic is tossed out the window. No matter how great Manning has been there's no question the Colts should think hard about letting him go particularly if they do get a shot at Andrew Luck.
Players age. Their skills deteriorate. Even players with great skills like Manning's. It has happened to every great player: Montana, Unitas, Marino...on and on it goes. (Interestingly the one older player who I've seen decline very little physically is Tom Brady. But his time will come as well.)
We're in love with Peyton Manning too much. Awkward statement but an accurate one. We are and in his case it's OK to fall out of it.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 8:31 am
OPENING HIT: Never believed in the Texans. Thought they were a soft team and when they lost half of their roster to hamstring injuries and busted legs and various other ailments but kept winning with a seventh third string quarterback, thought maybe I was wrong. Then came the Colts game on Thursday night.
Any team that considers itself a serious playoff threat doesn't lose to Dan Orlovsky. They don't let Dan Freaking Orlovsky drive the field on them in the final minutes of the game.
It's hard to kill the Texan offense. It's been critically wounded by injuries. But the defense is another story. That was just terrible. It was borderline inexcusable.
The critics of the Texans now have new rounds of ammo. No way you can take this team seriously when it loses against a team that previously had one victory.
Good luck, Houston.
CONCUSSIONS: I think we're going to see a lot more of these in the future.
Posted on: December 22, 2011 4:06 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 5:36 pm
NFL scouts are cold, bottom line men. You need to be to do that job. And the assessment of two longtime scouts reflects just that -- both called USC quarterback Matt Barkley's decision to stay, well, not very smart.
"A foolish business decision," said one scout.
"This is Matt Leinart dumb," said another.
Well, okay then.
It should be noted that past quarterbacks who were injured after returning for their senior season still went high in the draft. One of the more notable names was Sam Bradford who missed time his senior season at college because of an injured knee and then later missed most of the season because of shoulder surgery. Yet he still went first overall in the draft to the Rams.
Yet despite proof that a player can stay for his senior season and still go high in the NFL draft it is Leinart who remains one of the great cationary tales among scouts in professional football about the dangers of forgoing the draft when eligible. Leinart also returned for his senior season and after his career went 10th overall instead of first overall (which he would have done had he entered his junior year). That decision cost him millions of dollars.
Thus the phrase "Matt Leinart dumb."
Two scouts say Barkley is a top ten pick right now. Easy.
"There's a chance he could come back his senior season and be the first or second pick in the draft," said a scout, "but it's a total crapshoot. You never know."
Is Barkley "Matt Leinart dumb?"
Posted on: December 22, 2011 11:25 am
OPENING HIT: This is an interesting one and it is one I don't quite get. But here goes: Brian Billick, I'm told by multiple NFL sources, is drawing interest from teams with coaching openings or potential ones. I even had one general manager tell me he was a "hot candidate."
Now, I like Billick. Very intelligent man. Not as smart as he sometimes thinks he is but very intelligent and while I thought his tenure as Baltimore coach was a good one -- he won a Super Bowl there -- I do wonder: Billick? A hot candidate?
It makes sense in some ways. See: Bowl. Super. Won it. Billick is a solid name an owner can sell to fans.
But as it was pointed out to me the fact Billick is a trending name might mostly be due to lack of other great candidates.
This is the bottom line. There aren't a large number of solid candidates out there. Indeed, this is one of the more down years for high profile candidates.
Many of the big names are in television studios and don't seem -- for the moment -- interested in returning. The worst secret in football is that Bill Cowher wants the Giants job and he'll likely stay in television if that doesn't open up (and it just might the way the Giants are playing). Jon Gruden seems content kissing player butt. Tony Dungy told the show "Pardon the Interruption" he's gotten offers but he's not coming back. Jimmy Johnson looks comfortable on Fox.
There aren't a lot of great college coaching candidates either.
So that leaves candidates like Billick and explains why he's getting interest. He's a proven winner. Has name recognition. Is a good public communicator. I could easily see Billick in Miami.
In a down year for big coaching prospects it is indeed possible Billick could be one of the big names.