On The Clock NFL Mock Draft from Fanspeak.com

NFL Rewind: Wild Card Weekend Edition

January 5, 2015 in NFL Observations

1. To me there were two matchups I looked forward to watching this weekend and two I really didn't.  First was the last game between the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys.     tonyromo2

Much controversy in this one as the refs decided to play a factor.  I could talk about the play on the field but what the refs did is a joke.  Would Detroit have won if they didn't pick up the flag?  No one knows.  It was just a ridiculous decision the refs made to pick up that flag.  How?  It was a clear penalty and if they didn't throw a flag at least I would just say it was a badly blown call.  But to pick it up?  I can't believe what I heard Mike Perreira say that the officiating crew was working together for the first time all season.  Again, why?  I am over it.  Dez taking off his helmet too?  Ok, over it now.

Tony Romo played well enough to win but so did Matt Stafford.  I am still waiting for this Dallas defense to implode and next week in Lambeau could be the time.  But then again these are the games the Packers seem to blow recently come playoff time.  But I like the Packers still.  I think it could be bad also like their beatdown of the Eagles during the season.

2. The other matchup I had interest in was the great rivalry between the Ravens and Steelers.

Going into I was very unsure who I thought would win.  Well, the Ravens did and were convincing in the end.  They outplayed the Steelers who could have really used Le'Veon Bell on Saturday night.  Not an excuse but he was surely missed in all facets of the Pittsburgh offense which was one of the league's best.

Enough about the losing team though let’s go back to Baltimore which once again has their fans believing they could make another road run.  I don't expect this Ravens team with the secondary issues to go into New England and win but in the back of my head I have something telling me it could happen.  The Ravens always seem to have the Pats and Brady's number.  And when it turns into January, Joe Flacco becomes a new player and cements himself as a big time postseason quarterback.  Gonna go with the Pats, but wouldn't put any cash on it!

3. As for the other games.  Carolina and Indy won those.

A few notes I have include first of all that Ryan Lindley shouldn't ever be starting a playoff game.  You can't blame the Cards who lost two QB's but I would think I would have taken a chance early with Logan Thomas.  What was a great season it looked to be for the Cards eight weeks ago is now quickly over.  As for the Panthers I as many thought a Lindley-led Cards would be a victory for Cam.  I don't expect them to go into Seattle and win but Cam is not scared.  Flip his car and he barely misses any time.  Cam and Benjamin won't be afraid to challenge Richard Sherman also.

And to no one’s shock the Bengals lost another playoff game.  Tony Romo is now off the hook and Andy Dalton and Marvin Lewis have that spot locked up.  Now can Andrew Luck finally go back to back wins in the playoffs?  I act like he is in his 8th year or so.  I have a feeling he wins this game next week in Denver and then maybe the following week as well.  Luck is going to make the Super Bowl at some point soon.  Then again 2 years ago I would have said the same thing for Robert Griffin!

4. Final hits

a. Next to how much money the Redskins give Suh, the Cowboys offseason to me could be interesting.  I think they find a way to pay Dez but Spray Tan not completely sure.  Running backs again get screwed.  Maybe the Cowboys let Murray walk and end up waiting on Jerry's boy AP?  I wouldn't be shocked.
b. Doug Marrone just walked away for a team that seemed to be on a rise.  I don't know all the inside stuff but if it’s mainly over the Sammy Watkins trade I would be shocked.  I think really overpaid but not bad enough to walk.
c. Philly fired a personnel guy in Tom Gamble after two seasons with winning records.  So he was in with Chip Kelly but got fired and now Kelly is the main decision maker?  Wouldn't you just keep him?  More to this than I know.  Sal Pal needs to help me out.
d. I don't think I would take Mariota at the top of the draft even I needed a QB.  But I may take a chance on Jameis.  Even after the Seminoles got smashed at the Rose Bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2014 NFL Season Rewind

January 3, 2015 in 2014 NFL STATS AND FACTS, NFL Observations, NFL Playoffs, Super Bowl

As the NFL playoffs begin, I’m not quite ready to put to bed the fabulous 2014 regular season. One of the reasons the NFL has taken over as the most popular sport in this country is that the game appeals to nearly every sports fans biggest needs when watching pro sports.

Thanks in part to revenue sharing and a hard salary cap, the NFL offers parity which in turn offers nearly every fan the hope each summer that their team can be the Cinderella in the upcoming season. Fans love scoring, which is why, ‘the other futbol” has failed to catch on in this country–there simply isn't enough of it on the "pitch" and certainly the action on the gridiron, while it can be slow at times, moves at faster pace than it does on a soccer field. There is another reason futbol hasn’t quite caught on and football reigns supreme—the physical nature (or lack thereof) of the game. Fans love the big hits that go hand in hand with the NFL.manningnew

The 2014 NFL season offered it all—close games, dramatic endings, high scoring and of course big hits. Speaking of parity and competition, heading into the final week of the regular season, 16 teams were in contention for a trip to Super Bowl XLIX. Entering Week 17, 10 of the 16 games had playoff implications.

This is a two part series on the 2014 season as I, with the help of NFL Communications, take a look back at some of the better performances of the season. In part one we will look at 10 of the best overall stats and facts from the 2014 season and recap what some of the teams accomplished and in part two, we will look at some of the better individual efforts of the 2014 season.

With Wild Card Saturday here, here is one final look back at a great regular season.

The Beat Goes On:

Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs that were not in the postseason the year before. Five teams – Dallas (12-4), Arizona (11-5), Detroit (11-5), Pittsburgh (11-5) and Baltimore (10-6) – accomplished the feat this year. The normal amount of teams accomplishing this amazing feat is usually, five, six or seven teams. Since 1990, four teams has happened only three times while five teams making the playoffs after failing to the previous season has happened 10 times. On 11 occasions six or seven teams has accomplished this feat and in 2003, eight teams made the playoffs that did not make them in 2002.

It’s Not Over Until it’s Over:

Games continued to have a flare for the dramatic, as comebacks were a frequent theme. In 2014, there were five comeback victories of 21+ points, the most in a single season in NFL history. There were also 43 comeback wins of 10+ points, tied for the most in a season in NFL history (43 in 2013).

The most comeback wins of 21+ points in a single season in NFL history:

SEASON 21+ POINT COMEBACK WINS

2014–5

2013–4

2011–4

1999—4

Plenty of Scoring in 2014:

Nine teams scored at least 400 points this season – Green Bay (486), Denver (482), Philadelphia (474), New England (468), Dallas (467), Indianapolis (458), Pittsburgh (436), Baltimore (409) and New Orleans (401) –tying the 2009 and 2012 seasons for the second-most all-time. Those nine teams combined for a .674 winning percentage, and seven qualified for the playoffs.

Year of the Quarterback:

NFL QBs put together a historically proficient and prolific year in 2014. The league-wide completion percentage (62.6), league-wide passer rating (88.9) and league-wide touchdown pass totals (807) were at historic levels, topping the previous records set in 2013 (61.2 completion percentage; 86.0 passer rating; 804 TD passes). The league-wide interception percentage of 2.52 percent was the lowest of any season in NFL history, surpassing the previous mark of 2.63 in 2012.

Mistake Free Performances:

There were 58 individual performances with three touchdown passes without an interception in 2014, the most of any season in NFL history (55 in 2013). There were nine individual games with five or more TD passes this season, the second-most in a single season in NFL history (11 in 2004). An NFL-record nine quarterbacks had 30+ touchdown passes – Luck (40), Peyton Manning (39), Aaron Rodgers (38), Tony Romo (34), Tom Brady (33), Drew Brees (33), Ben Roethlisberger (32), Philip Rivers (31) & Eli Manning (30) – surpassing the previous high of five (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013).

The More the Merrier:

Games averaged 696.2 total net yards per game, the second-best mark in NFL annals (697.0 in 2013). Explosive passing offenses fueled that trend, with an average of 473.6 net passing yards per game, an all-time high (471.2 in 2013).

Time is of the Essence:

The 2014 season featured an average game time of 3:05:53, the shortest average game time since 2010 (3:03:30). It is also the first time the average game time has declined from the previous season since 2008.

Return to Sender:

The league-wide kickoff return average of 23.8 yards was tied for the best in NFL history (23.8 in 2011).

Defense-Defense-Defense:

With all that offense, defenses were heard from as well. The top three NFL teams in total defense all qualified for the playoffs and won at least 11 games each – Seattle (267.1), Detroit (300.9) and Denver (305.2). Those three clubs had a combined win percentage of .729.

Team Effort:

Many NFL teams accomplished amazing feats in 2014, here are some of the more noteworthy stats and facts from some of the leagues better performances throughout the season.

larryfitzgeraldARIZONA CARDINALS:

The Cards had 11 wins, tied for the most in a season in franchise history (1975, 1948, 1925). Arizona’s seven home wins are the most for the franchise in a single season since 1925, when the team won 11 of its 13 home games and became the first team since 1982 (Green Bay) to start 2-0 after trailing entering the fourth quarter in both games and not allowing a single fourth-quarter point.

Head coach Bruce Arians, who should win coach of the year honors, has 21 wins in his first two seasons, the most by a head coach in his first two seasons in franchise history.

Baltimore Ravens:

Set a single-season franchise record with 409 points scored and reached the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons under John Harbaugh.

Buffalo Bills:

One of the more surprising moves in the NFL this week was Bills head coach Doug Marrone opting out of his contract—however, his Bills defense led the NFL this season with 54 sacks.

Carolina Panthers:

The Panthers reached the playoffs despite posting a regular season record of 7-8-1. However they were one of only four teams to post a 4-0 mark in December and became the first team in NFC South history to win back-to-back division championships.

Dallas Cowboys:

The Dallas Cowboys finished the regular season 8-0 on the road and became the sixth team with a perfect 8-0 road record since the 16-game schedule was adopted in 1978. Four of the previous five teams to accomplish the feat advanced to the Super Bowl.

Denver Broncos:

The Broncos defeated Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego on the road this season, and have won 12 consecutive divisional road games (2011-14), tying San Francisco (12 from 1987-90) for the longest such streak in NFL history. The Broncos have not lost to an AFC West opponent on the road since December 19, 2010 (39-23 loss at Oakland).

Denver scored at least 20 points in 30 consecutive games, the longest streak in NFL history. The St. Louis Rams (1999-2000) previously held the record with 28 consecutive game with at least 20 points scored.

The Broncos spent $100 million to fix a leaky defense that many in Denver felt cost them an opportunity to win the Super Bowl—through 17 weeks of the NFL’s regular season it appears to have worked. Denver led the AFC in total defense, allowing 305.2 yards per game. The team’s offense ranked third in the AFC (402.9 yards per game).

Detroit Lions:

The Lions became the first team since the 1994 New York Giants to score the game-winning points inside of the two-minute mark of the fourth quarter in three consecutive weeks (Weeks 7, 8, 10, with a bye in Week 9).  In Weeks 7 and 8, became the fifth team in NFL history 8 to win back to-back games when trailing by at least 14 points one week and by 21+ points the following week.

Green Bay Packers:

The Pack became the second team in NFL history with 700 regular-season victories (710-541-37). The Packers joined the Chicago Bears (735-545-42) as the only teams ever to accomplish the feat. Became only the second team in NFL history to score 53+ points in back-to-back games (Los Angeles Rams, 1950)

Houston Texans:

Under new head coach Bill O’Brien, Houston became only the fifth team in NFL history to start 2-0 in at least five consecutive seasons: Dallas Cowboys (1965-73), Los Angeles Rams (1966-70), Dallas Cowboys (1975-79), Chicago Bears (1984-91) and Miami Dolphins (1994-99).

Indianapolis Colts:

With Andrew Luck under center the Colts scored six touchdowns of at least 30 yards in Week 13, becoming the first team to accomplish the feat since Washington (seven) did it on November 27, 1966 against the New York Giants.

Minnesota Vikings:

Rookie Head Coach Mike Zimmer had an impressive first year posting a 7-9 record with a rookie QB. However, the Vikings became the first team since the 1975 Detroit Lions (September 21, 1975 en route to a 30-16 win at Green Bay) to return two blocked punts for touchdowns in a half.

New England Patriots:

After starting 2-2 and getting blown on Monday Night Football by the KC Chiefs, the Patriots went onto to accomplish a lot in 2014—especially for a team that was washed up and finished on that cold October night in Kansas City.

New England won their sixth consecutive AFC East division title (2009-present), which is tied for the second-longest streak in NFL history. Only the Los Angeles Rams (seven, 1973-79) have posted a longer streak. The Patriots, who also won five consecutive division titles from 2003-07, are the first team in NFL history to win 11 division championships in a 12-year span.0ap2000000310994_video_cp

BUT WAIT—THERE IS MORE—MUCH MORE!

They finished the year 12-4 and earned a first-round bye for the fifth consecutive season, the longest streak of any NFL team since the current playoff format began in 1990, surpassing Dallas (1992-95) and San Francisco (1992-95).

Once the Pats recorded their ninth win over the Lions on November 23, they became the sixth team in NFL history to post at least 14 consecutive winning seasons and the first to do so since the San Francisco 49ers (1983-98, 16 seasons). Those 12 victories allowed New England to join the 49ers (1983-1998; 16) as the only teams in NFL history to record 12 consecutive 10-win seasons.

And if all of that isn’t enough to make you hate the Pats or love them even more—there is this. New England became the first team in NFL history (Weeks 9, 11 and 12, with a bye in Week 10) to win three consecutive games by 20 or more points, each against an opponent with a record of at least three games above .500.

New Orleans Saints:

The Saints missed the playoffs but it wasn’t because of their offense. With Drew Brees at QB, the Saints led the NFL in total offense, averaging 411.4 yards per game.

Philadelphia Eagles:

2014 was a tough luck year for Philly, as they became this year’s version of the Arizona Cardinals. The Eagles finished with a 10-6 record but did not make the playoffs. However, Philadelphia did accomplish some “special” things in 2014.

The Eagles scored 11 return touchdowns (three blocked punts, two kick returns, two punt returns, two interception returns and two fumble returns) this season, the third-highest total in NFL history. Ten different Eagles scored a return touchdown, the most in a single season all-time.

They also set single-season franchise records in points scored (474) and total touchdowns (54).

Coming from behind was a major theme for Philly in 2014. In a 34-17 Week 1 win against Jacksonville, became the first team in NFL history to win a game by at least 17 points after being shut out and trailing by 17+ points at halftime. They became the first team in NFL history to start 3-0 and overcome a 10 plus point deficit in all three games.

Seattle Seahawks:

The defending Super Bowl Champs became the first team to lead the league in scoring defense (15.9 points per game) in three consecutive seasons since the Purple People Eaters of the Minnesota Vikings defense did so from 1969-71.

When the Seahawks defeated Washington 27-17 in Week 5, it was their ninth-consecutive win on Monday Night Football. Their nine-game winning streak on MNF is tied for the second-longest such streak since 1970 (Oakland, 14).

In part 2 we will examine the the better individual performances from the year.

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

January 2, 2015 in 2014-free-agency, NFL Personnel

Tomorrow is the start of the NFL playoffs (finally!). Teams that are not in the playoffs have had their rosters frozen––contract extensions are still allowed––so only the teams still in the playoffs are allowed to make normal transactions. The total number of moves will be more reflective of this next week, where the rosters will have been frozen for the entire period of the Transaction Tracker. This week was quiet––as expected––with the major news being the retirement of a quarterback who was a starter on and off throughout his career. As always, the rest of the moves are down below with some of the more significant ones highlighted in red.

QB Kyle Orton retires

After 10 seasons and five NFL teams, the 32-year old Orton decided to call it quits on his NFL career soon after the Buffalo Bills week 17 victory over the New England Patriots.

The morning after the game, he was in the locker room and told a reporter he had a meeting to go to and would talk later. However, he never returned and it was soon announced that he was retiring from the NFL. Of all the retirement stories of NFL players, this has to be one of the best.

This offseason, he signed a two-year contract with Buffalo worth $11 million with a $3 million signing bonus. He was set to earn $5.4 million next season.

This isn't the first time Orton has dealt with retirement. During the offseason, the threatened the Dallas Cowboys with retirement. Long story short, the Cowboys ended up cutting him, making him a free agent. As a free agent, he signed with Buffalo right before the start of the season.

Kyle Orton

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

For the season, he completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 3,018 yards, 18 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 87.8 in 12 games, all starts.

Prior to playing for the Bills, Orton spent time with the Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs and the Cowboys. Chicago drafted him in the fourth round of the 2005 draft out of Purdue.

As a rookie, he started 15 games, going 10-5, due to and injury to the original starter, Rex Grossman. Orton then didn't play in the 2006 season and started three games in 2007 after spending most of the season as the backup. 2008 saw him win the starting quarterback job in training camp, leading to him starting 15 games.

After the 2008 season, he was traded to the Denver Broncos as part of Jay Cutler trade. In two and a half seasons as a Bronco, Orton started 33 games before being benched for Tim Tebow and subsequently released.

Kansas City claimed Orton off waivers and he finished the season there, making three starts due to an injury to starter Matt Cassel. As free agent at the end of the season, Orton signed with Dallas, spending the 2012 and 2013 seasons there, playing very little as a backup.

Orton had his moments as a starter, but in the end, he was a low-tier starter who could be improved upon. He had a high standing within the league, hence his playing time with five different teams. He was a very good backup, who was trusted to come in as a backup due to injuries.

Other Moves:

The Chicago Bears sign C Roberto Garza to a one-year contract extension.
The Cincinnati Bengals sign WR Cobi Hamilton.
The Cleveland Browns sign QB Connor Shaw.
The Cleveland Browns waive TE Ryan Taylor.
The Cleveland Browns waive LB Eric Martin.
The Cleveland Browns sign DT Jamie Meder.
The Cleveland Browns sign WR Phil Bates.
The Dallas Cowboys sign LB James Anderson.
The Detroit Lions sign C Darren Keyton.
The Detroit Lions waive C Darren Keyton.
The Indianapolis Colts sign G David Arkin.
The Minnesota Vikings sign LB Josh Kaddu.
The New England Patriots sign WR Josh Boyce.
The New Orleans Saints sign WR Brandon Coleman.
The New Orleans Saints sign LB Jerry Franklin.
The New Orleans Saints sign QB Ryan Griffin to a one-year contract extension.
The New York Jets sign WR Quincy Enunwa.
The New York Jets sign QB Matt Simms to a one-year contract extension.
The Pittsburgh Steelers sign RB Ben Tate.
The Pittsburgh Steelers release WR Justin Brown.
The San Diego Chargers sign C Jeff Baca.
The San Francisco 49ers sign WR/KR Trindon Holliday.
The San Francisco 49ers sign CB Cameron Fuller.
The Seattle Seahawks waive DT Travian Robertson.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign TE Brandon Myers to a one-year contract extension.
The Washington Redskins claim DT Travian Robertson off waivers.

Week 17 NFL Rewind

December 29, 2014 in NFL Observations

1. For most of the 1pm games it looked like no one wanted the final playoff spot in the AFC.     flacco

San Diego pulled off an unfortunate 180 from last week’s win in San Fran by losing to the Chiefs in a win and in game.  Baltimore struggled most of the afternoon versus the depleted Browns but used a big fourth quarter to win and advance.  San Diego really blew a huge opportunity similar to 2013.  But this time they lost to Chase Daniel and are going home for good.  Not a good day for the Chargers.

As for the KC Chiefs is it time to let Chase Daniel challenge Alex Smith in training camp?  I doubt Andy Reid will but it should be up for debate.  Baltimore backs in and will travel next weekend and try to pull of what they did two seasons ago.  They have fooled me before but I don't think this season they will able to run the table on the road.

2.  The embarrassment in Washington is finally done.  Joking, they will probably have no trouble all off season doing laughable moves.

A laughable loss at home versus Dallas finished the season and now its decision time once again for Dan Snyder.  Everyone on the planet knows this time needs major changes.  I still can't believe they plan to bring both Gruden and Griffin back.  Why?  The coach doesn't want him here and pressing it another season is a huge mistake that will set them back more.

Training camp day one Gruden will want to go another direction at QB other than Griffin and it’s another media blitz.  This team is a mess and we will see what they do the next few weeks to try and get some credibility back.  But I have no confidence in any plans they have.

3. Division title games went off and one had a slight shocker.

Carolina went to Atlanta and smacked around the Falcons big time.  Probably a good thing for the league and its fans because Atlanta was a joke.  At least Carolina is playing decent now and c

ould easily win against the Cardinals this upcoming weekend.  Carolina has had a complete defensive result change this past month.  And Cam has bounced back from the car wreck quick.  I do like the Panthers next weekend to advance.

Not a shock but the Packers won at Lambeau against the Lions.  Why not a surprise?  Because Matt Stafford just doesn't beat winning teams the road.  And they may lose Suh for next weekend’s matchup in Dallas.  Could be a quick one and down the way Dallas is playing.

4. My Regular Season Award Picks:

MVP- Tom Brady
Going with Brady because of the insane turnaround the Pats had behind his play.  What Spray Tan did in Dallas and Rodgers sick numbers could win, but I’m going with Brady.  I lobbied for JJ Watt but can't do it.

Offensive Player of the Year- Aaron Rodgers      

J.J. Watt

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

Numbers are too sick.  Romo got some late love but Spray Tan was why the Cowboys did what they did all season so I have him second.

Defensive Player of the Year- JJ Watt
Nothing needed to say.

Offensive Rookie- Odell Beckham Jr.
Just from the past month or so he wins it on that alone.

Defensive Rookie- Jadeveon Clowney Joking.  CJ Mosley.

Made the Pro Bowl and deserved it.

Coach of the Year- Bruce Arians
Edges out Jason Garrett, actually make them co-winners.

NFL's Worst- Roger Goodell/ Dan Snyder
Tie.

 

Final Hits

a. Remember this clip 2 years ago?
I do and I hated it then.  What a difference two years makes.

b. Tampa has the first pick and will they keep Jameis in FLA?  I think they need to consider it because it doesn't look like there is a dominant first pick this year.  I will let Steve work on that.

c. Rex Ryan and Jim Harbaugh rolled off to gatorade showers in victory.  Both are done with their teams and both will have jobs quickly.  Harbaugh most likely to Michigan and Rex to TV unless someone goes crazy on a D coordinator deal for him.

d. By time you read Mike Smith will be out in Atlanta.  Wouldn't be shocked if Arthur Blank goes hard for Gruden, not Jay.  Even though he is signed with ESPN forever.

 

 

 

 

 

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

December 26, 2014 in 2014-free-agency, NFL Personnel

With the NFL entering the last week of the regular season, it was another relatively quiet week for transactions. One re-signing is discussed below and, as always, the rest of the moves are down below with some of the more significant ones highlighted in red.

Seattle Seahawks re-sign DE Cliff Avril

Just one day after re-signing outside linebacker K.J. Wright to a long-term contract extension, the Seahawks locked up another key defensive player.

Avril's deal is very similar to Wright's. Avril receives $28.5 million over four years, which is $1.5 million more than Wright received over the same time frame. Avril also receives $6 million in guaranteed money and a signing bonus of $4.5 million. The average of $7.125 million per season makes him tied for the 14th highest paid defensive end in the NFL. Coincidentally, he is tied with teammate Michael Bennett.

This season, the 28-year old Avril has 21 tackles, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble for Seattle. If these sack numbers don't change in the last week of the season, it would be a career low for him. (His previous low is 5, which came as a rookie.)

Cliff Avril

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

Despite these lackluster sack numbers, he is still having a successful season. Pro Football Focus (PFF) has him graded as the 13th best 4-3 defensive end and his pass rushing grade is the seventh best. Both of these numbers would be the third best of his seven year career. In addition, he has 41 quarterback hurries this year, which is the fourth best and he has the sixth best pass rushing productivity for 4-3 defensive ends. Sacks are the most overrated statistic in the league. Avril may not have many this season, but he is still an impactful pass rusher.

Drafted by the Detroit Lions in the third round of the 2008 season, he spent five seasons there, recording 39.5 sacks and 16 forced fumbles.

A free agent before the 2013 season, he found a depressed market and only received a two-year contract worth $13 million. Seattle received a steal with this signing and Avril quickly showed this.

With the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl, he recorded eight sacks in the regular season and added another 1.5 in the postseason. In the Super Bowl, he recorded a safety on the first play of the game by tackling running back Knowshon Moreno in the end zone after a fumbled snap. Avril was constantly in the Denver backfield, recording three quarterback hits and six hurries. He didn't take down Peyton Manning, but he made his life very tough.

This was a smart move by the Seahawks to re-sign Avril. He was set to become a free agent at the end of the season and it is obvious his skills are being maximized in the Seattle defense. He is able to focus on just rushing the passer, which is what he excels at. He doesn't have to worry about stopping the run.

The terms of the deal are good for both sides. Seattle keeps an impactful pass rusher without giving him top-10 money and Avril finally gets the long-term contract he has wanted for years. Both sides win here.

With Avril's contract extension out of the way, Seattle can now focus on signing quarterback Russell Wilson and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner to their long-term contracts, once they are eligible at the end of the season.

Other Moves:

The Atlanta Falcons sign DB Sean Baker.
The Atlanta Falcons sign RB Jerome Smith.
The Atlanta Falcons waive LB James Anderson.
The Baltimore Ravens sign DE Steve Means.
The Buffalo Bills release WR Mike Williams from injured reserve.
The Chicago Bears sign DE Austen Lane.
The Cleveland Browns sign LB Scott Solomon.
The Cleveland Browns sign QB Tyler Thigpen.
The Cleveland Browns waive FB Ray Agnew.
The Cleveland Browns sign LS Charley Hughlett.
The Miami Dolphins sign WR Matt Hazel.
The Miami Dolphins waive LB Jake Knott.
The Miami Dolphins sign C Sam Brenner.
The Miami Dolphins sign DT Deandre Coleman.
The Minnesota Vikings waive RB Ben Tate.
The Minnesota Vikings sign RB Henry Josey.
The San Francisco 49ers sign DT Mike Purcell.
The San Francisco 49ers sign LB Chase Thomas.
The San Diego Chargers sign OL Kenny Wiggins.
The Seattle Seahawks cut WR RaShaun Allen.
The Seattle Seahawks sign TE Keavon Milton.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign CB C.J. Wilson.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign WR Louis Murphy to a three-year contract extension.
The Washington Redskins sign LB Steve Beauharnais.
The Washington Redskins sign OL Rishaw Johnson.

Week 16 NFL Rewind & MNF Prediction

December 22, 2014 in NFL Observations

1. Let’s talk first about the matchup of the week. Thursdaynight brought us a game no one could miss between the Jaguars and Titans.  I am joking.  Let's talk about an even more depressing performance by the Eagles as they had their playoff lives in balance.

To go to Washington and lay an egg against a team that hasn't won since who can remember?  Mark Sanchez again proved when he is needed to make plays to win he can't and why he is a backup.

A horrible loss for the Eagles as they played just a laughable game.  Way too many penalties and mistakes such as missed field goals by the usually reliable Cody Parkey.  With the Eagles to miss the playoffs, now can we step back on the Chip Kelly is the next Belichick?  I would still take Kelly as my coach any day but missing the playoffs after last season will be a disappointment.  Eagles’ fans have to wait another season to hope to get that first Lombardi.

2. Also on Saturday we got to see a team in desperate need of a win come through in the Chargers.     philliprivers_needsresized

They fell behind early at San Fran but Philip Rivers brought his team back with old friend Antonio Gates.  I was amazed of some of the throws that Rivers was able to make in tight coverage.  He did throw 3 picks but never gave up John Cena style.  The Chargers once again have life after Nick Novak's OT kick and the Ravens failing in Houston.

Even with plenty of injuries amassed this season I don't think anyone wants the Chargers in January.  They showed that last season winning in Cincy and almost in Denver.  Rivers is amazing and should be in the Hall of Fame talk now with still plenty of career left.  And he did it with a nagging injury.   I got nothing new to add on the Niners that I haven't already said.  Harbaugh is gone, Kaep is still a project and they are the most disappointing team this season for sure.

3.  Most impressive performance of the weekend and what I should have had as number 1 goes to the Dallas Cowboys for the second straight week.

A huge win and a division title destroying the Colts at home.  Jerry Jones can celebrate in his box or on the field and think where he would be if he didn't listen to his son and took Manziel over Zac Martin.  Dallas deserves the title of NFC East champions because they played the best over the course of the whole season.  And if it wasn't for Bruce Arians, Jason Garrett probably should be coach of the year.  Many had them done after only week one.

Dallas took it to the Colts from the first drive and took advantage of every Indy error.  It looks like Dallas will have to play the first weekend unless they get some help but they still should be thrilled.  The Eagles were the overwhelming favorites to repeat as NFC East champs and Dallas went there late in the season and worked them.  Then followed that with a bigger win against Indy.  If I was in Dallas last night I would find my way to old White Room and hope the Playmaker shows up and is buying!

4.  Quick Hits

a. I thought the Pats and Belichick would want to lay it on Rex Ryan in their last meeting but Ryan once again played them tough and almost pulled off the upset.  Surprising but not really.
b. Didn't take long for Johnny Football to go down hurt.  6 quarters in.  More and more doubt on him and could be the quickest 1st round bust ever.
c. I thought the Lions would crush Jimmy Clausen and we would all laugh it off.  They didn't and he gave the Bears a chance to win.
d. I guess I don't follow the playoff picture because I was shocked when the Steelers clinched a spot with their win over the Chiefs.  I think Todd Haley may stick around with the number one offense.
e. I said the 49ers were most disappointing; I apologize because I was wrong.  The Saints are.  They sucked at home the past two months and now will miss the playoffs in a pathetic division.

5.  Monday Night Prediction    espnMNF

Denver at Cincinnati
Time for the Bengals to step up and win a big one.  Not this week.  Denver 31-21.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

December 19, 2014 in 2014-free-agency, NFL Personnel

The playoffs are just two weeks away, but teams are looking forward to the offseason with three contract extensions signed this week. Two of these are discussed below, along with a different player being released. As always, the rest of the moves are down below with some of the more significant ones highlighted in red.

Denver Broncos re-sign CB Chris Harris Jr.

Part of an impending free agent class for the Broncos which features three players at the top of their positions, Harris Jr., will be staying in Denver.

With him locked up, Denver's focus now shifts to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas, both poential All-Pro's this season.

A five-year deal, Harris Jr. is now signed through the 2019 season. This five-year deal is worth a total of $42.5 million an includes $24 million guaranteed, with a $10 million signing bonus. The average of $8.5 million per season makes him the 12th highest paid cornerback in the NFL.

This season, the 25-year old has played in all 14 games despite tearing his ACL in the divisional round of the playoffs last January. His snaps were limited to 39 in week one––though he did receive the start––but after that, he has missed just 40 snaps over the course of 13 games. This is very impressive for a player who is less than a year removed from a significant knee injury.

In these 14 games, he has recorded 48 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, 15 passes defensed and three interceptions. Pro Football Focus has him graded as the number one cornerback in the NFL so far this season. His consistent performance––never grading negative for a game––has him well above the competition, especially in pass coverage. In coverage, opposing quarterbacks have a quarterback rating of 47.8 when throwing at Harris Jr. This is the fourth best of all cornerbacks in the league. When the snap count is raised to over 400, he raises to the second best and is the best for cornerbacks over 750 snaps.

After playing his college football at Kansas, he went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft. He made the Broncos roster out of training camp as a special teams player and has worked his way into the defense from there, earning four starts as a rookie.

A versatile cornerback, the 5-foot-10 Harris Jr. is at his best when he works in the slot. However, he has the ability to play at both left and right cornerback as well. This gives defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio many options when creating his defensive calls.

Over the last few seasons, Harris Jr. has developed into one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL––and the most underrated. He didn't finish in the top 10 for fan votes at cornerback for this year's Pro Bowl. Absolutely deserving of a Pro Bowl spot, expect players and coaches to vote him in.

This is a great signing for the Broncos. Harris Jr. is one of the elite cornerbacks in the NFL. In addition, he can work all over the field, which increases his value to a defense. To sign him for just $8.5 million per season is a steal compared to what some other cornerbacks have received.

Chris Harris Jr

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

Seattle Seahawks re-sign LB K.J. Wright

Not to be outdone by the team they beat in the Super Bowl last year (Denver), the Seahawks locked up one of their key, young defensive players in Wright.

The 25-year old signed a four-year contract extension that is worth $27 million. Averaging $6.75 million per season, he is now the highest paid 4-3 outside linebacker in the league.

Since being drafted by the Seahawks in the fourth round of the 2011 draft out of Mississippi State, Wright has started 54 of a possible 58 games.

During this time, he has played all three linebacker positions in a 4-3 defense. In 2011 and 2012, he started at strongside linebacker and in 2013 he moved to weakside linebacker. Mixed in have been six appearances at middle linebacker, as the linebacker corps was reshuffled due to injury.

Three of these appearances at middle linebacker came this season, when starter Bobby Wagner missed time due to a toe injury.

For the season, Wright has recorded 96 tackles, two sacks and three forced fumbles. Statistically, he is having a career season, as he is two tackles away from tying his career high, already has tied a career high in sacks and set a career high in forced fumbles. Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the 12th best 4-3 outside linebacker this season.

Wright is a key component of the Seattle defense, which is one of the best in the league. His importance has only been amplified this season as his versatility has helped the team through injuries. However, he probably shouldn't be the highest paid 4-3 outside linebackers in the league. He is a very good linebacker, but he isn't the best.

San Francisco 49ers release DL Ray McDonald

Amid an accusation of sexual assault, the 49ers decided to part ways with one of their starting defensive linemen.

Local law enforcement announced on Wednesday that they were investigating McDonald on the grounds of sexual assault. With this news in hand, San Francisco decided it was best to release him.

At the start of the season, he was accused of domestic violence. These charges were eventually dropped last month after investigation and a lack of cooperation from the victim, who was McDonald's fiancée.

When this investigation was launched, there was public outcry for the 49ers to either release or suspend him until the investigation was over. At the time, the Ray Rice and Greg Hardy domestic violence cases were in full swing, bringing domestic violence and the NFL to the forefront of the news. San Francisco decided to allow McDonald to keep playing.

This season, he recorded 39 tackles, three sacks and one forced fumble while starting all 14 games for the 49ers at his left end spot in their 3-4 defense. Pro Football Focus had him graded as the 11th best 3-4 defensive end in the league, on the heels of a dominant game against the New York Giants in week 11.

Signed to a five-year contract worth $20 million in 2011, the 49ers will take a cap hit of approximately $4 million, due to a restructure that occurred before the season started.

Now that there has been a second incident in the span of a few months, the team has decided to move on. Credit to the 49ers for taking a stand and parting way with McDonald now.

Other Moves:

The Arizona Cardinals sign WR Brittan Golden.
The Atlanta Falcons sign CB Ricardo Allen.
The Baltimore Ravens sign RB Fitz Toussaint.
The Baltimore Ravens sign G Ryan Jensen.
The Baltimore Ravens sign DL Casey Walker.
The Baltimore Ravens sign CB Chris Greenwood.
The Baltimore Ravens sign LS Patrick Scales.
The Buffalo Bills cut FB Frank Summers.
The Carolina Panthers cut LB Horace Miller.
The Carolina Panthers sign LB Kevin Reddick.
The Carolina Panthers sign DT Kyle Love.
The Carolina Panthers waive DT Micanor Regis.
The Chicago Bears sign QB David Fales.
The Cleveland Browns sign K Garrett Hartley.
The Cleveland Browns cut K Billy Cundiff.
The Cleveland Browns claim OT Andrew McDonald off waivers.
The Cleveland Browns cut LB Zac Diles.
The Dallas Cowboys sign DE Kenneth Boatright.
The Denver Broncos sign TE Dominique Jones.
The Denver Broncos cut TE Dominique Jones.
The Denver Broncos sign S Josh Bush.
The Denver Broncos sign TE Dominique Jones.
The Detroit Lions claim CB Josh Thomas off waivers.
The Green Bay Packers sign S Chris Banjo.
The Houston Texans sign DE Keith Browner.
The Houston Texans sign QB Case Keenum.
The Indianapolis Colts sign CB Sheldon Price.
The Indianapolis Colts waive OT Andrew McDonald.
The Jacksonville Jaguars sign DT Roy Miller to a four-year contract extension worth $16.25 million.
The Jacksonville Jaguars sign QB Stephen Morris.
The Miami Dolphins sign CB T.J. Heath.
The Miami Dolphins sign TE Gerell Robinson.
The Miami Dolphins waive TE Gator Hoskins.
The Minnesota Vikings cut OT J'Marcus Webb.
The Minnesota Vikings sign S Ahmad Dixon.
The New England Patriots sign TE Steve Maneri.
The New York Giants sign DT Dominique Hamilton.
The New York Giants sign G Adam Gettis.
The New York Giants sign TE Jerome Cunningham.
The New York Jets cut CB Josh Thomas.
The New York Jets sign S Rontez Miles.
The Oakland Raiders sign S Ras-I Dowling.
The Oakland Raiders sign LB Bojay Filimoeatu.
The Oakland Raiders sign CB Chance Casey.
The San Diego Chargers CB Greg Ducre.
The San Francisco 49ers sign CB Marcus Cromartie.
The San Francisco 49ers sign G Andrew Tiller.
The San Francisco 49ers sign LB Desmond Bishop.
The San Francisco 49ers sign RB Phillip Tanner.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut CB Crezdon Butler.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign FB Evan Rodriquez.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign WR Tavarres King.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign DT George Uko.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign DE Lawrence Sidbury.
The Tennessee Titans sign CB Khalid Wooten.
The Tennessee Titans sign QB Jordan Palmer.
The Tennessee Titans sign TE Matthew Mulligan.
The Tennessee Titans sign WR Rico Richardson.
The Washington Redskins cut CB Chase Minnifield from injured reserve.
The Washington Redskins sign LB Jackson Jeffcoat.

NFL Playoff Races Red Hot as Week 16 Approaches

December 18, 2014 in NFL, NFL Observations, NFL Playoffs, NFL Preview

With just two weeks to play in the NFL season, division and Wild Card races are red hot. In the NFC, nine teams are still in contention for five remaining spots while over in the AFC, 12 teams are still in the hunt for three spots.

downloadWhat has been decided in the AFC through 15 weeks is no surprise. Three teams, Denver (AFC West), Indianapolis (AFC South) and New England (AFC East) each won its division last weekend. Over in the NFC, only the surprising Arizona Cardinals have secured a playoff berth.

However, the Pats, Colts and Broncos still have a lot left to play for in the next two weeks. Both New England and Denver can secure first-round byes this week, and the Patriots can also clinch home field advantage. Arizona can clinch the NFC West, a first-round bye and home-field advantage this week. The Cards will have it earned if they can get past the red hot Seahawks at home in Arizona.

While 21 teams still have a shot to make the playoffs, some of these teams have a better chance than others. Fans and prognosticators will be keeping a close eye on what happens in the AFC North this weekend.

All three teams can clinch a playoff berth this weekend with a win and some help. Cincinnati (9-4-1 vs Denver), Baltimore (9-5 @Houston) and Pittsburgh (9-5 vs Kansas City) remain in contention for the AFC North division title. The Bengals and Steelers, who meet in Week 17, are in control of their fate in the division race.

TEAM         OVERALL           DIV.    CONF.       STRENGTH OF VICTORY STRENGTH OF SCHED.

Cincinnati    9-4-1          3-2     6-4                      389                             467

Pittsburgh    9-5             3-2    7-3                      452                             429

Baltimore     9-5             2-3     5-5                      361                             467

The division has clearly benefited from playing the NFC and AFC South this season. They are a combined 12-2-1 vs. the NFC South and 10-5 vs the AFC’s version.  Playing each other this season, the division is 10-10 and are 1-4 vs the AFC East and 1-1 vs the AFC West.

Needing only a win, the Bengals have the easiest path to a playoff berth, with Pittsburgh next followed by Baltimore. Cincy locks up their fourth straight playoff appearance with a win at home Monday Night vs. the Broncos, which is easier said than done. The Steelers can also clinch a playoff berth with a win while the Ravens need a win and some help.

Baltimore clinches a playoff spot with:

1) BAL win + PIT loss + CIN loss OR

2) BAL win + KC loss or tie + SD loss or tie OR

3) BAL tie + KC loss + SD loss + BUF loss or tie

In the NFC, the Lions, Packers, Seahawks and Saints all have an opportunity to earn playoff berths. Detroit (@ Chicago) needs a win and a Packers loss. Green Bay (@ Tampa Bay) needs a win and a lot of help this weekend. The Seahawks @ Arizona) can earn a shot to defend their Super Bowl title with a win and six combinations of other teams winning or tying in their games. The Saints, who host the Falcons on Sunday, enter the weekend with a 6-8 record but can win the dismal NFC South win a win and Carolina Panthers loss.

KEEPING THE STREAK ALIVE:

There were five new playoff teams in 2013: Carolina, Kansas City, New Orleans, Philadelphia and San Diego. Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before. For a 24th consecutive season, it appears that streak will stay alive. None of the three teams that clinched in the AFC to this point are new but in the NFC, Arizona finished 10-6 last season but missed the playoffs. According to Football Outsiders.com, the Ravens & Steelers have an 87.6 and 81.5 percent respectively of making the post season. The two AFC North teams would likely replace the Chiefs and Chargers who have a 34 and 10 percent chance according their odds.

In the NFC, the Panthers and 49ers were both playoff participants in 2013, it appears the Lions (88.9) and Cowboys (86.1) will replace them. Ironically, if the season had ended following Monday night’s game, all four division winner in the AFC would be repeat winners. In the NFC, all four would be new winners, as the Eagles, Packers, Panthers and Seahawks won their respective divisions in 2013. They would be replaced by Dallas, Detroit, New Orleans and Arizona in 2014.

COACH OF THE YEAR:

While many votes for the NFL Coach of the year award will be flying towards Bruce Arians of the Arizona Cardinal and rightfully so, Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone should garner serious consideration. With an 8-6 record, the Bills are currently very much in the thick of the playoff hunt. Their defense may not be the best in the league statistically but it’s hard to argue they simply aren’t the best. Keep in mind their QB is Kyle Orton.

Ranked fifth overall (9th vs rush 5th vs pass) the Bills have shut down some of the league’s top signal callers this season and done so with a resounding thud. On Sunday, Buffalo defeated Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. The league’s premier passer completed only 17 of 42 passes in the Packers' 21-13 loss. That was Rodgers' career-high for incomplete and intercepted passes in one game (25). It was also the first game in Rodgers' NFL career in which he threw more than one interception and no TD passes. (He was picked off twice.). It is also worth pointing out that the Packers entered the game with 19 total drops by their pass catchers this season. They had seven on Sunday in Buffalo.

Doug Marrone of the Bills deserves COTY consideration

Doug Marrone of the Bills deserves COTY consideration

Ralph Wilson Stadium has been a late-season House of Horrors for visiting quarterbacks. Since 2000, the Bills have hosted 31 games there in December and January, in which only one opposing QB passed for at least 300 yards: Tom Brady (329 yards, 2 TD, 2 Int in 2005). Bills opponents have collectively thrown more interceptions (33) than touchdown passes (24) in those games.

In Week 14 on the road Buffalo held Peyton Manning without a touchdown ending his streak at 51 games with at least one touchdown pass. Manning threw for just 173 yards and completed just 14 passes, his fewest completions in a game in almost seven seasons. He had just 13 completions against Baltimore (12/7/07). He also was picked off twice in the game against the Bills. His passer rating against the Buffalo (56.9) was the lowest in six seasons with a rating of 46.8 against Cleveland (11/30/08) the only figure worse than the one against the Bills in Week 14.

Buffalo is still in the AFC playoff hunt at 8-6 and has two significant AFC conference games left on their regular season schedule at Oakland and at New England. Though the Bills are focused on the Raiders first and foremost, the conclusion of their run through a gauntlet of perennial Pro Bowl quarterbacks in December will come in Week 17 when they face Tom Brady for the second time this season.

The Patriots won the first matchup 37-22 in Buffalo.

The last time the Bills faced three different quarterbacks with three or more Pro Bowl appearances in a four-week span was from Nov. 24, 1994 – Dec. 4, 1994, when Buffalo played Dave Krieg (DET), Dan Marino (MIA) and Warren Moon (MIN).

SPEAKING OF RODGERS:

Three of the four Packers losses have come to teams ranked in the Top 5 in total defense in the NFL. Green Bay lost to Seattle (no.1), Detroit (no.2) and Buffalo (no.5) scoring just 36 combined points in all three contests. The Packers have scored 36 or more points in a single game six times this season. Rodgers has just two TD’s while tossing three interceptions vs the tough defensive foes and while his completion percentage is 68.2 percent, he has failed to pass for at least 200 yards in any of those games.

Should Packers fans be concerned? The answer is yes—-The Lions and Seahawks will likely be in the playoffs and even if GB avoids playing them, tough defensive football is a playoff trademark. The Cardinals and Cowboys aren’t ranked high defensively but both teams have shown a propensity to shut down some potent offenses in 2014. If the Packers are going to be successful, they will need to rely on Eddie Lacey a bit more once the second season arrives. Running the ball successfully and playing tough defense is a formula that has proven to be highly effective once January arrives.

PATRIOT GAMES:

The more things change the more they stay the same in the NFL. The New England Patriots continue to roll. Remember when the Chiefs blew them out on Monday Night Football, 41-14 in Week 4? The loss dropped the Pats to 2-2 and the national media proclaimed the Brady-Belichick era finished. Since that night, New England is 9-1 (only loss to Packers in Green Bay) and have outscored their opponents 362-190, averaging 36.2 points per game.

On Sunday NE avenged an opening-day loss at Miami with a 41-13 victory over the Dolphins. With that win, New England not only clinched their sixth straight AFC East title but also set an NFL record by going 14 straight seasons without suffering a multiple-game regular-season sweep by any team. The previous record was set by Tom Landry's Cowboys from 1971 to 1983, playing in what was then a five-team NFC East.

THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE:

trianglemapThe Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle, is a loosely defined region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean, where a number of aircraft and ships are said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The triangle's three vertices are in Miami, Florida—San Juan, Puerto Rico and in the mid-Atlantic island of Bermuda.  What does any of this have to do with football you ask—nothing but it appears the triangle has moved 300 miles west and its three vertices now encompass Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay. Instead of ships and aircraft, the triangle now consumes the NFL teams of Florida and their playoff hopes.

The last Florida team to make the playoffs was the Miami Dolphins in 2008, who lost to the Ravens. The last Florida team to win a playoff game was the Jacksonville Jaguars, who beat the Steelers in 2007. For good measure, the Buccaneers have not won a playoff game since winning the Super Bowl in 2002 and if you think that’s a long time, the Dolphins last won a playoff game on December 30, 2000 when they beat the Indianapolis Colts in overtime on the legs of Lamar Smith, who rushed 40 times for 209 yards. None of the three teams will make the playoffs this season and the three of them have a combined record of 11-31 in 2014. It is also highly likely that Miami and Tampa Bay will once again be looking for new head coaches. The Miami Herald reported that Joe Philbin has an 80 percent chance of being fired. What!!!

Speaking of head coaches, since 2000, the three teams have combined to employee 17 different sideline walkers. The Dolphins lead the way with seven. There is hope in Jacksonville as the drafted a franchise QB in last year’s draft but questions have been raised about Ryan Tannehill in Miami, whom the Dolphins selected in round one, eighth overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Buccaneers are the likely leading candidate to draft this year’s hot college quarterback, Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.

SPEAKING OF TURMOIL:

The San Francisco 49ers continue to reel in turmoil. The Niners have released defensive end Ray McDonald, following the San Jose Police Department announcement that McDonald is being investigated for a possible sexual assault. General Manager Trent Baalke announced today the team has decided to cut McDonald. Baalke made the announcement during a Wednesday news conference at the 49ers' facility. Baalke cited a "pattern of behavior" in the team's decision to cut ties with the former third-round pick.

"I can say that we have had multiple discussions with Ray over time and there's been things that have been discussed with him," Baalke said. "And there was a plan that was put in place and this is a situation that has gone against that plan."

According to police, the woman connected with the investigation told police she was "possibly" sexually assaulted by McDonald, who has had several run-ins with the law since entering the NFL in 2007. No arrests have been made in the current investigation and no charges have been filed.

On the field, San Fran will miss the playoffs for the first time during the Jim Harbaugh era. Harbaugh is himself involved in a bit of controversy at the moment. Multiple NFL and Michigan sources had said for weeks that Harbaugh was not expected to wind up at Michigan, as the head coach of the Wolverines but in recent days at least one person familiar with his thinking said he was at least "considering it."  According to multiple reports, Michigan has made a six-year, $49 million offer to Harbaugh. The offer was earlier reported by CBS5 in Arizona.

The annual average pay of $8.17 million would make Harbaugh the highest-paid college football coach, surpassing Alabama's Nick Saban by more than $1.21 million.

The Niners offense has been less than stellar at times and fourth year QB Colin Kaepernick seems to have regressed in 2014. San Francisco ranks 27th overall in the NFL in total yards on offense with the passing attack ranking one spot lower at 28th. The former Nevada star will pass for a career high in yards this season but needs five TD passes to surpass last season’s total of 21. He’s thrown 10 INT’s, which is two more than he tossed last season and he’s been sacked 39 times in 14 games compared to just 16 in all of 2013.

ROOKIE RECEIVERS:

Four rookie wide receivers – the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr… (972), Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin (952), Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans (948) and Buffalo’s Sammy Watkins (850) – are approaching the 1,000-yard receiving mark.

Rookie WR Mike Evans

Rookie WR Mike Evans

If at least three rookie wide receivers reach 1,000 yards this season, 2014 will have the most rookie wide receivers with 1,000+ receiving yards of any season in NFL history. The 1986 season is the only season in NFL history to have two rookie receivers reach the mark – Indianapolis’ Bill Brooks (1,131) and Houston Oilers’ Ernest Givens (1,062).

PLAYERS of the WEEK:

In the AFC, Cincinnati Bengals RB Jeremy Hill was offensive player of the week. Hill rushed for 148 yards on 25 carries (5.9 average) and two touchdowns in the Bengals’ 30-0 win at Cleveland. His 148 rushing yards were the most of any NFL player in Week 15, and his two rushing scores tied for the most in the league.

On defense, Broncos CB Aqib Talib won the honor, as he had eight tackles, an interception and three passes defensed in the Broncos’ division-clinching 22-10 win at San Diego. With 4:27 remaining in the fourth quarter, Talib intercepted a short pass over the middle to help set up a 44-yard field goal by Connor Barth that gave the Broncos a 22-10 lead and capped the scoring.

Your Week 15 AFC special team’s player of the week resides in Kansas City. Former Oregon Duck RB/PR DeAnthony Thomas returned eight punts for 156 yards (19.5 average), including an 81-yard punt-return touchdown, in the Chiefs’ 31-13 win against Oakland. His 81-yard punt-return touchdown, which opened the scoring against the Raiders, was Thomas’ first NFL return touchdown.

Over in the NFC, Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant continues to show why he will cost more than owner Jerry Jones may be willing to pay. With six catches for 114 yards and three touchdowns in the Cowboys’ 38-27 primetime victory at Philadelphia with first place in the NFC East on the line, Bryant won the OFPOTW award. The win moved Dallas into sole possession of first place in the division with two games to play. Bryant had touchdown catches of four, 26 and 25 yards. His third touchdown gave Dallas a 35-24 lead with 12:48 remaining in the fourth quarter. He leads the league with 13 touchdown receptions, tying his career-high set last year. Since 2012, Bryant leads the NFL with 38 receiving touchdowns. He is the only player in the league with at least 12 receiving touchdowns in each of the past three seasons.

On defense, safety Glover Quinn of the Lions had an interception, a 56-yard return and three tackles, including one for a loss, in the Lions’ 16-14 win over Minnesota. The Lions improved to 10-4 and moved into a tie for first place in the NFC North with two weeks remaining in the regular season. With the Lions trailing 14-0 in the second quarter and the Vikings driving in Detroit territory, Quinn intercepted a pass and returned it 56 yards to the Minnesota 11-yard line. Two plays later, the Lions scored a touchdown to cut the deficit in half.

And on special teams, Arizona Cardinals kicker, Chandler Catanzaro converted all four field-goal attempts, scoring all of Arizona’s points in the Cardinals’ 12-6 win at St. Louis. Arizona tied a franchise record with its 11th win and is the first NFC team to clinch a playoff berth. He made field goals of 23, 44, 51 and 46 yards. It marked the second time this season he kicked four field goals in a game without a miss (Week 2). Catanzaro is the first rookie in team history to score 100 points (103).

WILL JOHNNY BE GOOD?

On Sunday Manziel was Johnny Backfoot

On Sunday Manziel was Johnny Backfoot

The Bengals spoiled Johnny Manziel's first NFL start, routing the Browns, 30-0. That was the worst shutout loss in a quarterback's first NFL start since 2000, when Spergon Wynn was the QB in Cleveland's 48-0 loss at Jacksonville. Browns fans might take some consolation from the fact that two quarterbacks who went on to successful careers with Cleveland suffered bad shutout losses in their first NFL start: Frank Ryan for the L.A. Rams in 1959 (34-0 at San Francisco), and Bill Nelsen for the Steelers in 1964 (30-0 against the Redskins). Manziel passed for only 80 yards and threw two interceptions in Cleveland's loss on Sunday. He was the first quarterback with at least two Int’s and fewer than 100 yards in his first NFL start since 2005. Again, room for optimism: The last QB to do so was Alex Smith.

*******BREAKING NEWS*******

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Chicago Bears plan to start Jimmy Clausen at quarterback this week over Jay Cutler. Cutler has struggled this season in leading the Bears to a 5-9 record. In Monday's 31-15 loss to the New Orleans Saints, he threw two touchdowns but had three interceptions to bring his NFL-leading turnover total to 24. He produced a season-low passer rating of 55.8 and generated a total ESPN QBR of 6.8, which registered as his second-worst performance of the season in that category (he had a 6.0 QBR in Week 10 against the Green Bay Packers). He also was sacked seven times against the Saints.

Cutler is the highest-paid offensive player in the NFL this season at $22.5 million. Coach Marc Trestman informed him Wednesday morning that Clausen would get the start, sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 15 NFL Rewind & Monday Night Prediction

December 15, 2014 in NFL Observations

1. The Seahawks once again handled the 49ers and made their offense look miserable again.  The league’s best rivalry has become one sided and may no longer be that.     db30ff67935b92f3f6354916551afc947a6610ef76a3b154746498b2f8568f8b_large

Seattle's defense is clearly back like we have said the past couple weeks.  Only issue for them is that the Cards keep winning with a bunch of nobodies at QB.  So they still could be going on the road for the playoffs and not at their dominant home Quest Field.  I think it would be a better playoffs to see the Hawks have to win road games to repeat a Super Bowl visit.

Now for the Niners.  They started strong especially on defense but then the Seahawks wore them down and got the help of a horrible penalty.  Harbaugh has to be a goner now you would think.  It’s a mistake since this is really his only bad season but something isn't right there.  I agree with Joe Buck that I wouldn't trade for him since they have to fire him.  Then if I am a team interested, I would take my chances.  Trading for him and watching him roll to Michigan then would not be good.

 

2.  We have to discuss once again the most talked about non-productive quarterbacks in the NFL.  Ex Heisman Bros Johnny Manziel and Robert Griffin both saw action on Sunday.

Manziel was named the Cleveland starter and Griffin came off the bench early after Colt McCoy exited with another neck issue.  Manziel was bad, real bad as the Browns got shut out and now are done in the playoff race.  Which makes it an easy call to keep him as the starter the rest of the way.  I haven't given up hope on Johnny but it could be an uphill ride as the Browns need to decide their future at QB.  Which is a bad spot to be in.

The Redskins are once again in the same boat with the QB position.  Griffin looked all but done by many in DC especially with his own coach.  But I liked some what I saw from Robert Sunday.  He made some plays and the Skins should have been up at the half on the call at the end zone as Griffin made a 2012 like effort.  Too many sacks taken though against the Giants and that has been the post-knee Griffin.

Side note, right or wrong, Jeff Triplette needs to go.  Too many bad calls over the year and I can't believe he is still employed.

 

3. Great effort by the defense of the Bills as they rocked Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers numbers looked like those of Manziel's or Geno Smith's Sunday.  I don't bet but I knew Buffalo plus four was a great call.  Their rush got to Rodgers and he couldn't make it happen against the Bills.  The Bills won't make the playoffs but it has to be considered a positive season for them and Doug Marrone.  They still have QB questions for the future but Kyle Orton has done a good job making them a non-doormat.

They traded their 2015 1st rounder so tanking wasn't an option to get a new QB.  Can EJ Manuel bounce back?  I doubt it but they have put together a solid defense and now have a big time playmaker in Sammy Watkins to build on.  Marrone looked like a goner in September and now you have to think he is good to go for next season.  The Pats own the division but it would be good to see someone knock them off soon.

 

4. Quick Hitters

a. Who is in first place in the NFC South?  Carolina as of now.  Crazy as Derek Anderson owns the Bucs in 2014.  Could they win this division?  Probably because anyone can now other than those Bucs.
b. Cincy, Pitt and Bmore all won Sunday so the AFC North is a battle with two weeks left.  Who I am taking to win it?  No clue because I gave up on the Bengals last week so I am going to say Baltimore.
c. Indy didn't roll the Texans at home but they won and that’s still important.  JJ Watt has been so dominant, so for Colts to beat Texans is still important no matter who the QB is.
d. Marcus Mariota won the Heisman and now he has the playoff and then draft time.  Where will he go?  I think it will be tough for the Eagles and Chip Kelly to get up to get him.  And I am not so sure Kelly would do it anyway.
e. New England and Denver won again.  It gets old saying that.

 

5. Monday Night Prediction            espnMNF

Should see some points between the Saints and Bears.  But we could also see some turnovers also.  The Saints need the game to stay in awful NFC South race.  But I think they pull a no show again and Payton and Ryan go to blows on the sidelines.

Bears 27 Saints 23

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFL Weekly Transaction Tracker

December 12, 2014 in 2014-free-agency, NFL Personnel

The push for the playoffs is on, with three games left for all teams. With that, teams were not very active, with just one move discussed below and, as always, the rest of the moves are down below with some of the more significant ones highlighted in red.

St. Louis Rams re-sign P Johnny Hekker

A valuable member of the Rams' special teams unit that has played very well this season, St. Louis has locked up their punter for many years to come.

Set to be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, Hekker signed a six-year contract extension worth $18 million with $9 million guaranteed. The average of $3 million per season makes him the eighth highest paid punter in the NFL. The guarantee of $9 million is the most for any specialist (kicker of punter) in history, by a solid $1 million.

Johnny Hekker

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

After going undrafted in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Oregon State, the 24-year old made the Rams roster out of training camp and has held the punting job since then.

This season, he is averaging 45.5 yards per punt (16th in the league), 41.5 yards for net average (fifth), has 26 punts downed inside the 20 (second) and has the fifth-lowest return average at six yards.

In 2013, he led the NFL in net average by a wide margin. His net average of 44.2 yards was 1.8 yards more than the next best punter.

Pro Football Focus (PFF) has Hekker graded as the best punter in the league so far this season. In 2013, he graded as the second best punter and 2012 saw him ranked as the 15th best.

Perhaps the best passing punter in the NFL––he played quarterback in high school––he has completed many passes on fakes over the last few seasons. Head coach Jeff Fisher and special teams coach John Fassel love to run trick plays on special teams and Hekker allows them to execute these plays.

For his career, Hekker is 5-of-6 for 79 yards as a passer with one touchdown and a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3.

With Hekker set to be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, a contract extension was not necessarily needed. He would have easily returned, as restricted free agents almost never leave their teams. Also, the guarantee of $9 million is a lot for a punter––even if Hekker is one of the best in the league. In the end, the Rams are keeping a top tier punter who is a key component of their strong special teams unit.

As Rich Eisen says: Punters are people too!

Other Moves:

The Arizona Cardinals cut RB Michael Bush.
The Arizona Cardinals cut TE Matt Mulligan.
The Arizona Cardinals sign RB Kerwynn Williams.
The Arizona Cardinals sign S Chris Clemons.
The Baltimore Ravens sign TE Phillip Supernaw.
The Baltimore Ravens sign CB Antoine Cason.
The Buffalo Bills sign WR Deonte Thompson.
The Buffalo Bills waive-injured WR Mike Williams.
The Carolina Panthers cut QB Matt Blanchard from injured reserve.
The Chicago Bears waive WR Chris Williams from injured reserve.
The Chicago Bears sign WR Josh Bellamy.
The Chicago Bears sign RB Montell Owens.
The Denver Broncos sign K Brandon McManus.
The Denver Broncos waive WR Isaiah Burse.
The Detroit Lions sign TE Kellen Davis.
The Detroit Lions release RB Montell Owens from injured reserve.
The Green Bay Packers sign DT Bruce Gaston.
The Houston Texans sign LB Jason Ankrah.
The Miami Dolphins sign LB Jake Knott.
The Minnesota Vikings sign S Ahmad Dixon.
The Minnesota Vikings sign OT Carter Bykowski.
The New England Patriots sign OL Marcus Cannon to a two-year contract extension.
The New Orleans Saints waive WR Joe Morgan.
The New Orleans Saints sign WR Seantavius Jones.
The New York Giants sign LB Paul Hazel.
The New York Giants waive DT Dominique Hamilton.
The Oakland Raiders sign TE Scott Simonson.
The Philadelphia Eagles cut CB Roc Carmichael.
The Philadelphia Eagles sign S Jerome Couplin.
The San Diego Chargers cut OL Jeff Baca.
The San Diego Chargers sign P Mat McBriar.
The Seattle Seahawks sign WR Chris Matthews.
The Seattle Seahawks sign DE David King.
The Seattle Seahawks cut LB Allen Bradford.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign LB Jason Williams.
The Tennessee Titans sign OT Jamon Meredith.
The Washington Redskins sign LB Gabe Miller.
The Washington Redskins waive WR Aldrick Robinson.
The Washington Redskins sign CB Kenny Okoro.
The Washington Redskins sign LB Ja’Gared Davis.
The Washington Redskins sign LB Trevardo Williams.
The Washington Redskins cut CB Greg Ducre.
The Washington Redskins cut LB Everette Brown.
The Washington Redskins cut LB Steve Beauharnais.
The Washington Redskins sign CB Justin Rogers.
The Washington Redskins sign RB Chris Thompson.