AROUND THE NFL

Funny tweet from Steve Palazzolo of ProFootballFocus:

 

@PFF_Steve

 Brady vs. Mahomes will be the next great rivalry for the next 10 years

– – –

The DB agrees with Joel Klatt, a college guy who likes NFL OT better:

 

@joelklatt

Don’t understand all the criticism of the NFL OT rules…it is much more like REAL football than the CFB rules which arbitrarily reward quality red-zone teams…Fact is NE had to drive the length of the field to win and did…If you don’t like it then make a play on 3rd down

 

Equal time to Scott Kacsmar:

 

@FO_ScottKacsmar

Aaron Rodgers doesn’t see the ball in 2014-15.

Matt Ryan doesn’t see the ball in 2016.

Patrick Mahomes doesn’t see the ball in 2018.

 

We really going to stick with this OT system for the playoffs? Who wins a coin toss?

 

@FO_ScottKacsmar

I’ve never seen so much self-ownage on a football topic.

 

“It’s a team sport. Play defense.”

 

Yet you’re cool if more than half a team doesn’t even get on the field to decide this game, or if only one team has to play defense.

 

– – –

Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal didn’t want to see New England-Rams as the Super Bowl match-up.

 

Following a missed penalty in one conference championship game and a slew of questionable ones in the other, the Patriots and Rams will meet in the Super Bowl for the first time since 2002.

 

And, while it’s a tantalizing match-up both because of the teams themselves and the historical context of the game, it’s a confrontation no one outside of LA and New England wants to see.

 

The Patriots have gone to three in a row and played in four of the last five. And, while they’ve only gone 2-1, no one outside of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and parts of Connecticut wants to see the Pats play on February 3 in Atlanta.

 

New England was able to advance against Kansas City partially thanks to an offsides call that, while correct, negated a huge interception that would have won the game for the Chiefs.

 

And the way Los Angeles advanced to the Super Bowl is even worse.

 

With the scored tied at 20, Rams corner Nickell Robey-Coleman leveled Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis on a third-and-10 play on the LA 13 with 1:49 left in the fourth quarter. But, there was no call and the course of the game was changed and New Orleans went on to lose in overtime.

 

Sure, it is isn’t actually the Rams fault that they got the call and the Saints still could have won the game, but the non-call did taint the win.

 

And, it will cast a shadow on the Super Bowl … but no one in LA or New England will care. Too bad for everyone else.

 

Some may feel this way now, but we bet by the time we get to next Sunday the bad taste will be gone and the Rams (as the Patriots foe) will have a lot of new fans.

 

NFC EAST

 

WASHINGTON

It looks like DC Greg Manusky will be back with the Redskins in 2019, but there have been other changes.  Defensive backs coach Torrian Gray was announced as the new cornerbacks coach at Florida on Monday.

 

Gray spent a year at the school in 2016 before joining Washington and played for Gators defensive coordinator Todd Grantham at Virginia Tech. “His track record of preparing players for the NFL and his success coaching at that level speaks for itself,” said Gators coach Dan Mullen.  “Meanwhile, with his strong recruiting ties to the state of Florida and the fact that he played for Coach Grantham in college will make this transition seamless.”

 

Special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica and inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti have also left Jay Gruden’s staff this offseason. Nick Kaczor has been hired to replace Kotwica.

 

NFC SOUTH

 

ATLANTA

Kudos to the Falcons and the NFL who will not be gouging their guests for concessions.  Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com:

 

Fans coming to see the Los Angeles Rams face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII will pay thousands for game tickets, but at least they can fill up on $2 hot dogs and some $5 beers once inside Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

 

Atlanta Falcons president and CEO Rich McKay reiterated the stadium would have its “Fan First Menu Pricing” for the 75,000 spectators expected to attend the Super Bowl on Feb. 3. Just like at a Falcons game at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, concessions will feature 12 popular food and beverage items — including $5 cheeseburgers, $3 nachos with cheese, and $2 refillable soft drinks — at lower prices than any other major professional American sports venue, plus without tax for easier concession-stand transactions.

 

A glance at last year’s Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis shows a hot dog is $4 less expensive at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and beer is $1.10 less per 20 ounces.

 

Increasing the prices based on the magnitude of the Super Bowl was never an option, McKay said.

 

“We said this in our negotiations with the SEC, the college football championship, the Super Bowl, and the Final Four … what we basically said is every customer that comes through that door is our customer,” McKay said in a phone interview. “So we want to treat all those customers the same and give them the same experience in food and beverage.

 

“What was interesting with the SEC negotiations, [late] commissioner Michael Slive kept telling me, ‘Hey, I want a provision in this contract that talks about the pricing and prohibits you from being able to raise the prices for our game.’ And I said, ‘Commissioner, we want the same provision.’ It was interesting that we had a common goal yet two different mindsets. So we put that in the bids for all the major events, including the World Cup.’ ”

 

Not even a $3 hot dog and $7 beer, which no one would sneeze at.

 

 

NEW ORLEANS

While Drew Brees knows the end is near, he thinks he has at least one more go-round left.  Luke Johnson of Nola.com:

 

He says he feels young, and based on the way he played this season it is easy to believe him when he says that. But there is an understanding of reality here too for New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, whose latest quest to deliver a second Super Bowl title to New Orleans fluttered away Sunday (Jan. 20) in New Orleans.

 

The reality is these chances are rare. This was Brees’ 18th season as an NFL quarterback, and Sunday was his third conference title game. On a night when he made it clear he would return for a 19th season, the reality is still that he does not have many more cracks left at this.

 

“Each one of these is unique,” Brees said. “Each one is special. I’m not getting any younger, though some days I feel like it.”

 

These dwindling shots at the pinnacle of his profession made Sunday’s 26-23 overtime loss to the Rams a bitter pill to swallow in so many ways.

 

There was, of course, the now infamous no-call on his third-down pass to Tommylee Lewis late in the fourth quarter, when Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman arrived well before the ball and knocked Lewis to the ground with no repercussion from the officials. The Saints were forced to kick a go-ahead field goal when they should have been given a fresh set of downs with less than two minutes remaining and the Rams having no timeouts remaining.

 

There in that moment is that precious opportunity to play for a title being ripped from your fingers, and you can’t even do anything about it.

 

“You feel like that was something out of your control,” Brees said. “And I like to focus on the things that I can control.”

 

Which brings about the other part of this that made Sunday’s loss so tough. Brees, who commanded more game-winning drives than any NFL quarterback this season (7), was given control of the game after it was briefly wrenched away and he could not capitalize.

 

Brees was not feeling any lingering effects from the blown call when the Saints started the overtime period with the ball. The focus turned immediately toward scoring and ending the game.

 

Again, the ball was forcefully taken out of Brees’ hands.

 

With the Saints at their own 34-yard line, Rams pass rusher Dante Fowler used an inside move to get past Saints right tackle Ryan Ramczyk. He accelerated and timed his hit with Brees brilliantly, causing what was supposed to be a pass for Michael Thomas to flutter high into the air.

 

The last pass of what was a spectacular season for Brees wound up in the arms of an opposing player, with Rams safety John Johnson making a tumbling interception. Five plays later, the Saints season ended on Greg Zuerlein’s 57-yard field goal.

 

NFC WEST

 

SAN FRANCISCO

The 49ers are providing the coaches for the South team at this week’s Senior Bowl.  Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com sees a benefit:

 

Upon taking over as head coach and general manager of the San Francisco 49ers, Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch made it clear that they intended to hold the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft only in that first year after succeeding Chip Kelly and Trent Baalke.

 

The hope, of course, was that the Niners would never again lose enough to find themselves in such lofty draft position. But here we are, just two years later, and the Niners again find themselves with the No. 2 overall pick. The bad news is that means the 49ers are coming off another dismal season, this time in the form of a 4-12 record.

 

The good news? San Francisco will get another crack at landing an elite player via the draft. What’s more, since Shanahan and Lynch are incumbents, they will have a bit of a head start on identifying that player. The Niners coach the South team in this week’s Senior Bowl.

 

For Shanahan, who has been on staffs that coached a Senior Bowl twice previously, that means an opportunity to dive deeper than the tape and get to know some of this year’s top prospects.

 

“It’s not about the athletes and stuff because you can see that on tape pretty well,” Shanahan said. “You can see that when we work them out. It’s about being around people. It’s hard in the interview process to fully get to know someone. It’s hard to get tricked when you’re with someone for seven straight days.”

 

Although most of the top prospects in this year’s draft are underclassmen, there figures to be plenty of talent at this year’s Senior Bowl. With that in mind, here’s a look at what the 49ers have to gain and what they’ll be watching closely this week in Mobile, Alabama:

 

Sorting through a strong class of edge rushers

 

The news that Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen dropped out was a disappointment for the Niners, especially since he would have been on the South roster and was the only player slated to be in Mobile who would be in consideration for the No. 2 overall pick. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be edge-rushing talent for the Niners to get to know this week.

 

Early projections for this class indicate that edge rusher is one of the strongest and deepest positions.

 

“I think it’s strong there,” Lynch said. “That’s clear. There’s good pass-rushers in this draft. I think that’s a strength of this draft. … Everyone is looking for those guys, so I think we’re excited.”

 

The question then becomes how the 49ers will sort through them. They’ll get an up-close look at two of the draft’s more intriguing outside rushers this week with Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat and Louisiana Tech’s Jaylon Ferguson on the South roster. ESPN’s Todd McShay ranks Sweat as the No. 21 player in the 2019 draft class, with Ferguson checking in at No. 30. Sweat and Ferguson are just two of the eight players McShay ranks in his top 32.

 

Boston College’s Zach Allen, who appears on McShay’s list at No. 22, is on the North roster.

 

Between now and the draft, much will be made of this class of edge rushers. Opinions will vary. For the Niners, the chance to begin that process with a close look should only help in the evaluation.

 

 

LOS ANGELES RAMS

Rams CB MARCUS PETERS was his usually classy self after the Rams emerged with a victory Sunday.  Kevin Kenney in the New York Post:

 

Marcus Peters was a sore winner.

 

The heat between the Rams and Saints did not end when Greg Zuerlein kicked a 57-yard field goal in overtime to lift Los Angeles to a 26-23 comeback win in Sunday’s NFC Championship in New Orleans.

 

Peters, the Rams cornerback who had tangled verbally with Saints coach Sean Payton in the week leading up to the game and earlier this season, ran across the field to confront Payton after the game, apparently talking trash, leading to a scrum of players from both teams.

 

It was a boil-over moment from the first time these teams tangled, when Saints receiver Michael Thomas beat Peters for a 72-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

 

AFC WEST

 

KANSAS CITY

Even as failures on the field may lead the NFL to make changes in its officiating leadership, failures on the field seem to be leading Andy Reid to make changes to his defensive staff.

 

Kansas City’s inability to get an overtime stop has prompted Andy Reid to consider making some coaching changes.

 

NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported the Chiefs are mulling changes to the defensive staff, up to and potentially including defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. Reid was mum on the topic when asked about it Monday.

 

“I never talk about that,” Reid said when asked if Sutton would return. “It’s something I go back and look at everything.”

 

The Chiefs finished near the bottom of the league in passing yards allowed (273.4 yards per game, 31st in the NFL), but were better in terms of opposing passer rating (92.7, 12th in the NFL). That supports the idea that opponents threw against the Chiefs more because they were chasing them on the scoreboard.

 

But Sunday’s AFC Championship Game might be the damning evidence necessary for the Chiefs to make some changes.

 

A week after shutting down Andrew Luck and the Colts, Kansas City gave up a total of 524 yards to New England, including all 75 yards of the Patriots’ game-winning touchdown drive in overtime. The Chiefs’ defense also struggled to get off the field, allowing the Patriots to convert 13 of 19 third downs and dominate the time of possession battle (43:59 to 20:53).

 

For as good as Kansas City’s offense was for the majority of the season, that’s simply not championship-level defense, even with the Chiefs’ effective edge rush considered. This Chiefs team is clearly looking through its open title window. Immediate improvements are necessary.

 

It appears as though Reid will explore all possible options to ensure this type of crunch-time sieve doesn’t appear again in 2019.

 

It was just a week ago that Sutton was a genius for shutting down ANDREW LUCK. 

 

And it was two years ago that Brady did the same thing in overtime to Atlanta’s defense.  And quite a few before and since.

– – –

Just as the Saints are fuming at the men of Bill Vinovich, Andy Reid and Chiefs fans have a thing or two to say about the men of Clete Blakeman.  Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The Saints obviously have a bigger officiating complaint than the Chiefs do today. But Andy Reid took issue with a couple of calls in the Chiefs’ loss to the Patriots on Sunday.

 

The first was obvious: Officials botched a roughing-the-passer call on Chris Jones.

 

Jones was called for hitting Tom Brady in the head on a fourth quarter incompletion. Jones never hit Brady in the head, and CBS rules analyst Gene Steratore said during the broadcast it was a bad call.

 

Instead of facing a third-and-seven at their own 28, the Patriots got 15 yards and a first down. They scored a touchdown on the possession to go up 24-21.

 

“I saw our quarterback from play 27 on get hits that were way worse than that that weren’t called,” Reid said, via Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star.

 

Play 27 was a Trey Flowers shot to Patrick Mahomes‘ head, which wasn’t penalized. Officials did penalize Kyle Van Noy for roughing Mahomes in the fourth quarter.

Reid also took issue with the offsides call on Dee Ford that negated an interception that likely would have won the game for the Chiefs. The Chiefs coach acknowledged Ford was offsides but said it’s a penalty rarely called in that situation.

 

“It wasn’t but by a few inches, but I thought it was legitimate,’’ Reid said, via Adam Teicher of ESPN. “. . .Normally, you’re warned, and the coach is warned if somebody is doing that before they throw it in a game of that magnitude. But they did. He didn’t waste any time doing it. He didn’t wait until the interception to throw it. He had his hand on the flag right from the get-go.’’

 

AFC SOUTH

 

TENNESSEE

The Titans have replaced Matt LaFleur internally.  Tight ends coach Arthur Smith has been with the team since the days of Mike Munchak. 

 

The Titans have found their offensive coordinator, and he’s a familiar face – successful assistant coach Arthur Smith.

 

Smith has been promoted after wrapping up his eighth season on the Titans coaching staff, and his third full season in charge of tight ends after taking over the group for the final nine games of the 2015 season.

 

Smith’s position group has been productive, led by veteran tight end Delanie Walker. He’s also helped develop young players, including tight end Jonnu Smith.

 

“I am excited for Arthur and for our team to be able to elevate a deserving coach,” said Titans head coach Mike Vrabel. “I was impressed throughout the season in gameplan meetings with his ideas, in-game with his understanding of situations and the ability to get the most out of his position group. We spent a good bit of time last week talking about this opportunity. He has a great deal of familiarity with our players and the continuity of the offense will allow our players to continue to develop and improve.”

 

The change at offensive coordinator will give quarterback Marcus Mariota his fifth play-caller heading into his fifth NFL season.

 

“Art has been steady support since I’ve gotten into the league,” Mariota said. “It’s been a true blessing to have gotten to know him and I’m excited to work with him. His ability to consistently get our guys prepared week in and week out has been impressive. I’m looking forward to working with him in his new role.”

 

During his time in Tennessee, Smith has worked under four different head coaches – a testament to his reputation and success. Smith began under head coach Mike Munchak, and he was also hired by Ken Whisenhunt before Mike Mularkey promoted him when he took over.

– – –

Prior to joining the Titans, Smith served as an administrative assistant/defensive intern at the University of Mississippi in 2010, and he was a defensive assistant/quality control coach with the Washington Redskins in 2007-08. Smith was a graduate assistant at the University of North Carolina in 2006.

– – –

Smith, born and raised in Memphis, graduated from North Carolina and played offensive line before joining the coaching staff for one season as a graduate assistant, where he worked with the offensive line. He went to high school at Georgetown Prep in North Bethesda, Maryland.

 

Other alumni of Georgetown Prep are Supreme Court justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch and Cardninals owner Michael Bidwill.

 

AFC EAST

 

NEW ENGLAND

Whatever the truth might be from previous years, it certainly does seem that the relationship between TOM BRADY and Bill Belichick is harmonious in 2019.  ESPN.com:

 

Tom Brady’s relationship with Bill Belichick is just fine and always has been, the New England Patriots quarterback said a day after they advanced to yet another Super Bowl together.

 

Brady and his head coach shared an emotional embrace on the field following the Patriots’ 37-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game Sunday night. Cameras on the field picked up Belichick saying, “Love ya,” to Brady, and Brady made a similar remark back to Belichick.

 

In his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI’s “Mut and Callahan Show” on Monday, Brady was asked about the exchange and if it is reflective of how well the two are getting along.

 

“We’ve always gotten along great,” Brady said. “We’ve worked together for 19 years. So we’ve had the same goals in mind for 19 years. He’s been just a great, great mentor in my life, a great coach. He’s taught me more than anyone ever could about the game of football. I’ve always just loved playing here, and playing for him. He’s the greatest coach of all time and we’ve just had some incredible moments together.”

 

The two have met regularly on Tuesdays over the years, which is when Belichick has traditionally gotten together with quarterbacks on the roster to go over various things. Belichick and Brady advance to the Super Bowl as a coach-quarterback tandem for the ninth time. The Patriots face the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3 in Atlanta.

 

After the Chiefs kicked a field goal to tie it up with eight seconds left in regulation, Brady engineered a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in overtime to clinch a wildly entertaining title game. That’s part of what made Brady’s emotions overflow on Sunday.

 

“That was as emotional of a game as I think I’ve been through, certainly in a long time,” he said in the radio interview. “All the things that kind of transpired over the course of the game. To get a chance to win it there, like we did, and then to pull it off was just a great feeling.

 

“You play sports for a lot of reasons, but something like that that happened last night was a game we’ll all remember for the rest of our lives. Emotions just take over at that point. You’re not thinking much. You’re just feeling it. I was just so happy for our teammates and coaches and our whole organization … our families, everyone that supports us, our fans. It was really a great, great win. Beating a great football team on the road in January, it’s just an incredible feeling.”

 

Our man from the Rock sent us this on Monday:

 

Tom Brady is the 3rd player in NFL history to reach 9 finals, the 1st in the Super Bowl era. 

Lou Groza and Don Chandler are the other 2.

 

One could almost argue that Brady is the first true “player” since Groza and Chandler (as those above a certain age remember) were among the early ranks of kicking specialists.

 

Lou “The Toe” Groza, a Hall of Famer, was a Browns tackle who was exclusively a kicker for the final six seasons of his 21-year career.  It was during those final six seasons that he played in three of his nine NFL Championship Games.

 

And this:

 

Bill Belichick is the 10th coach in the 4 major sports to reach 9 or more finals.

 

He is the first in NFL history.

 

Hockey’s Dick Irvin holds the all sports record with 16, but when there are only six teams in your league you have a 33% raw chance of making the “finals.”

 

Scottie Bowman has 13, Toe Blake 9 in the NHL.

 

Phil Jackson has 13 in the NBA, Red Auerbach 11 and Pat Riley 9 in the NBA.

 

Casey Stengel 10 in baseball, with Joe McCarthy and John McGraw also 9.

 

Belichick joins Jackson and Riley as the only 3 to operate for part of their careers in the 21st century.

 

This from Brock Huard:

 

@BrockESPN

The Tom Brady hate & bitterness befuddles me.  He is the greatest athlete of our generation.  In a league set up for parity he has decimated it.  No one can sniff his level of accomplishment, yet the resentment & vitriol is off the charts.  Give the man his due, he’s earned it

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

FORMER PLAYERS

A tough visit to Whattaburger for former NFL running back Darren McFadden.

 

Former Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys running back Darren McFadden was arrested on a DWI charge after falling asleep in a fast food drive-thru.

 

McFadden, 31, was taken into custody early Monday morning after employees at a McKinney, Texas, Whataburger reported a sleeping man inside a vehicle in the drive-thru lane.

 

McFadden is facing charges of driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest, search or transport.

 

 

THE NO CALL IN NOLA

A tweet from Katherine Terrell:

 

@Kat_Terrell

Lack of accountability is what frustrates NFL fans about officiating. The NFL has its system for grading officials, but nobody gets to see that. Officiating has been inconsistent all season. So a lack of a statement after a no-call in one of their biggest games is a very bad look

 

Saints owner Gayle Benson praises Saints fans while calling for repercussions and changes amongst those who administer the rules.

 

Yesterday’s result is still difficult to accept for all of us. I am thoroughly disappointed by the events that led to the outcome of yesterday’s game. Getting to the Super Bowl is incredibly difficult to do and takes such an unbelievable commitment from a team and support from its fans. No team should ever be denied the opportunity to reach the title game (or simply win a game) based on the actions, or inactions, of those charged with creating a fair and equitable playing field. As is clear to all who watched the game, it is undeniable that our team and fans were unfairly deprived of that opportunity yesterday. I have been in touch with the NFL regarding yesterday’s events and will aggressively pursue changes in NFL policies to ensure no team and fan base is ever put in a similar position again. It is a disservice to our coaches, players, employees and, most importantly, the fans who make our game possible. The NFL must always commit to providing the most basic of expectations — fairness and integrity.

 

Our entire team is humbled and grateful for the support shown by our fans over the course of the season. It has become common for teams to proclaim that they have the “best fans in the NFL.” I do not believe there is any debate, however, that we truly have the most inspiring, committed and passionate fans in all of professional sports. This is true whether you are from New Orleans or part of our family of fans from the entire state, region and country.

 

The truth is we are more than team and fans — we are a family. As a family we celebrate together, support each other and sometimes suffer together. This past season has been especially meaningful to me as we honored my husband. I will never be able to fully express my appreciation for the way all of you have supported me and our team in honoring Tom Benson’s legacy. I know he is proud of this team and our fans.

 

While the way this season ended has left us all frustrated and disappointed, I am comforted knowing we will respond the way our community always responds — with resilience, fierce determination and love for each other and the Saints.

 

I have had many blessings in my life, perhaps the greatest is being born in New Orleans and having the opportunity to be a part of the Saints family with you. Next season starts now and I can’t wait to share it with you again.

 

Don’t get Miss Gayle angry.

 

If you just google “Riveron” you come up with a business advisory firm.

 

 

It sounds like “Prepare For Change” might be good advice for the embattled Al Riveron.

 

There are rumors, fueled by Peter King who presumably has heard whispers from Park Avenue, about the return of Dean Blandino.  This from Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Blandino has publicly mused about returning to the league office; in late 2017, Blandino half-jokingly acknowledged that he’d potentially be willing to return.

 

“Depends on what the numbers are, what the finances look like,” Blandino said during a visit to the #PFTPM podcast.

 

Blandino admitted in that same interview that his departure for FOX resulted from the numbers, or lack thereof, that applied to his position.

 

“I think that there was a sense of, around the league office and some of the people in leadership positions, they didn’t value that position the way it should have been valued, and how important it is,” Blandino said at the time. “During the season, other than the Commissioner, the head of officiating is probably the most public-facing person in the office. And those decisions that are made, I mean, these affect the outcome of games, and that’s your product on the field.”

 

Of course, Sunday’s humiliation for 345 Park Avenue didn’t fall within the range of plays that Riveron or Blandino could have fixed, technically. But the real-time pipeline is there, and from time to time there’s a distinct know-it-when-you-see-it delayed reaction decision at a game site that feels palpably like the execution of a mandate from on high.

 

Riveron could have (should have) used the ability to speak directly to referee Bill Vinovich to tell him to drop a flag. Yes, it would have come late. Yes, it would have sparked speculation that the rules of the high-speed fiber line had been violated. Yes, it would have indeed violated the rules. No, nobody would have really cared — including the Rams and their fans.

 

It was a foul, plain and simple. It should have been caught when it happened and, failing that, it should have been caught in the de facto safety net provided by the league office, contours of said net be damned.

 

While the league needs to do much heavy lifting to improve its officiating function, paying Blandino whatever it takes to put him back at the wheel of the bus will be the best way to ensure that, no matter what changes regarding the nuts and bolts of officiating, someone with a keen sense for what needs to happen and when it needs to happen will be there to provide the last line of defense against all hell breaking loose.

 

Justice would be served in a different manner if the NOPD had the case or if the LAPD had the case.

 

 @LAPDHQ

Sounds like our friends at @NOPDNews might be dealing with some robbery complaints after the #LARams defeated the @Saints. We would help investigate but A) it’s outside our jurisdiction, and B) we just don’t see enough evidence of a crime

 

@NOPDNews

No investigation needed.

 

A) There’s video evidence from multiple angles 🎥

 

And, B) You will never be able to silence the #WhoDatNation ⚜️

 

The best video of the interaction between officials Patrick Turner and Gary Cavaletto – as well as the reaction of Sean Payton is here

 

So @wdsu photographer @am7photography all over “no call” play. Look at this angle (and slow-mo shots that follow). NFL down judge Patrick Turner clearly reaches for penalty flag on his waistband before signaling incomplete pass & telling side judge Gary Cavaletto “bang bang.”

 

https://twitter.com/FletcherWDSU/status/1087441235281874945

 

Spurred by Andrew Joseph of ForTheWin at USA TODAY, we also reviewed the overtime interception that eventually did in the Saints.

 

The New Orleans Saints saw their Super Bowl hopes dashed after one of the worst non-calls we’ve seen in the NFL. And understandably, Saints fans are pointing at that blown pass interference as the moment that cost them a trip to Atlanta.

 

But the officials didn’t do the Saints any favors in overtime either.

 

With the Saints on the first drive of overtime, Drew Brees’ second-down pass was intercepted by John Johnson who made an incredible catch from his back. Yet, Johnson seemingly interfered with Saints receiver Michael Thomas on the play. At least it looked that way.

 

We can see Thomas look around for a flag as Johnson went into his celebration, and Thomas had a point. Johnson held the Saints receiver with the ball already in the air. It could have been a number of penalties — holding, pass interference or illegal contact. Instead, the officials decided to swallow the whistle (again), and it cost the Saints.

 

That contact would have been allowed had Brees’ pass been tipped at the line — there is no pass interference on tipped or deflected balls. But that didn’t look to be what happened. The Rams’ Dante Fowler pressured Brees into the errant pass, but the contact came at Brees’ elbow.

 

Fowler’s hands were nowhere near the ball. It couldn’t have been tipped.

 

Had the pass interference been accurately called, the Saints would have been rewarded a first down near midfield. We can understand why Saints fans feel robbed. Those critical no-calls changed the game.

 

Check it out here, courtesy of the team deemed to have won.

 

 

RINGLESS COACHES

Of course, Andy Reid appears on Kevin Kaduk’s list of the 10 best coaches who never won an NFL championship.  We would think Marv Levy and Bud Grant will be there too.  Let’s find out.

 

Andy Reid had a good chance to finally get a ring, but his 20th season as a NFL head coach ended the same as the previous 19. Without a Super Bowl title. His quest to raise the Lombardi will continue.

 

There’s no denying that Reid otherwise has one of the best resumes in league history. Reid’s 195 regular season wins are the eighth-most in league history and he has both Marty Schottenheimer (200) and Paul Brown (213) in his sights. To put it in further perspective, Reid has more regular season wins in similar timeframes than both Chuck Noll (193 wins over 23 season) and Bill Parcells (172 wins over 19 seasons). He took the Eagles to four straight NFC title games in the early 2000s, winning one before falling to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX.

 

What’s more, Reid’s coaching tree is full of thick and sturdy branches and it’s hard to find anyone in the league who will say a bad word about him, which is rare. There were a lot of people left disappointed on Sunday that Reid couldn’t get by Bill Belichick again.

 

The presence of Patrick Mahomes and the trust of the Hunt family should guarantee that Reid gets a few more good shots at winning a Super Bowl. But even if he doesn’t, he won’t be the first great coach to never win a title. Here’s how he currently ranks among the best coaches to never finish a season atop the league:

 

10. Marv Lewis, Bengals

Regular season record: 131-122 (.518) over 16 seasons

Playoff record: 0-7

What’s that? This isn’t a listicle of “best coaches to never win a playoff game?” Eh, that’s still OK. Getting the Bengals into the playoffs seven different times was a great feat for Lewis, who was finally fired after this season. He may not be the peers of the men at the top of this list, but leading one of the greatest defenses of all time (the 2000 Ravens) plus winning in Cincinnati is enough to land him on it.

 

9. John Fox, Panthers/Broncos/Bears

Regular season: 133-123 (.520) over 16 seasons

Playoff record: 8-7, two Super Bowl appearances

Fox is a tricky one. Take away three dismal seasons with the Bears and his career winning percentage is .569. But take away three seasons of Peyton Manning and it plunges to .456. (It’s not lost on anyone that taking Fox away from Manning in Denver resulted in Manning’s second Super Bowl ring.) Still, Fox is just one of six coaches to take two different teams to the Super Bowl.

 

8. Chuck Knox, Rams/Bills/Seahawks

Regular season: 186-147 (.558) over 22 seasons

Playoff record: 7-11, four NFC title game appearances

Fox, then Knox, then box in socks. Sounds like a Dr. Seuss stanza. Knox never made a Super Bowl, but the tough-nosed coach had a knack for turning teams around. He made four conference title games (including three in the mid-70s with the Rams) but could never quite reach the biggest stage. An unsuccessful second tour of duty with the Rams in the ‘90s marred his overall record a bit, but it’s hard to argue with 186 wins.

 

7. Dan Reeves, Broncos/Giants/Falcons

Regular season: 190-165 (.535) over 23 seasons

Playoff record: 11-9, four Super Bowl appearances

Another non-winning member of the two-team Super Bowl club, it’s also hard to judge Reeves career. Do you dock him for failing to win a Super Bowl during three trips with a young John Elway? Or do you credit him for reaching one in Atlanta with Chris Chandler? Coaching an AFC team in the NFC’s era of dominance didn’t do him any favors.

 

6. Don Coryell, Cardinals/Chargers

Regular season: 111-83 (.572) over 14 seasons

Playoff record: 3-6, two AFC title game appearances

Coryell’s innovations in the passing game earn him a revered spot amongst the coaching fraternity — as does the success of his coaching tree (John Madden, Joe Gibbs among others). Unfortunately, Coryell’s Chargers teams, which made two AFC title games, were the equivalent of the Steve Nash-era Suns. A great show that ultimately wasn’t built for postseason success.

 

5. Andy Reid, Eagles/Chiefs

Regular season: 195-124 (.611) over 20 seasons

Playoff record: 12-14 over 14 appearances, one Super Bowl appearance

He’s the only man on this list who has a job and thus a chance of removing himself from it. Only reaching the Super Bowl once keeps him from being ranked ahead of the coaches below.

 

4. Marv Levy, Chiefs/Bills

Regular season: 143-112 (.561) over 17 seasons

Playoff record:11-8, four Super Bowl appearances

Levy doesn’t have as many wins as other coaches on this list, but think about what he accomplished with those teams. A lot of coaches have won a Super Bowl, but only one has played in four straight — Levy. Considering those Bills teams could have easily been torn apart by a mixture of ego, success and disappointment, Levy’s coaching acumen is unquestionable.

 

3. Marty Schottenheimer, Browns/Chiefs/Chargers/Redskins

Regular season: 200-126 (.613) over 21 seasons

Playoff record: 5-13, three AFC title game appearances

Schottenheimer is seventh on the NFL’s all-time coaching wins list; the six men ahead of him are all in the Hall of Fame and have at least one Super Bowl or NFL title to their names. Schotty was a great regular-season coach, but he suffered from some of the most horrendous luck in the playoffs. Were it not for “The Drive,” “The Fumble,” Lin Elliott or Marlon McCree, Schottenheimer might already be occupying a deserved spot in Canton.

 

2. George Allen, Rams/Redskins

Regular season: 116-47-5 over 12 seasons

Playoff record: 2-7, one Super Bowl appearance

The father of the nickel defense, Allen was known as a football coach’s football coach. He never posted a losing season and helped turn around both the Rams and Redskins upon taking over. Allen could never win the playoffs, though, and his one Super Bowl appearance unfortunately came against the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins.

 

1. Bud Grant, Vikings

Regular season: 158-96-5 (.621) over 18 seasons

Playoff record: 10-12, four Super Bowl appearances

The Vikings are one of the most underrated tortured fanbases and not enough people talk about Grant as the guy who never got the big one. After winning the Grey Cup four times in the CFL, Grant came to Minnesota and dominated the ‘70s. The Vikings won 11 of 13 NFC Central titles behind the Purple People Eaters and made the Super Bowl four times. Grant won a 290 games between the NFL and CFL, a combined total that puts him just behind George Halas and Don Shula for career coaching wins. Grant and Levy are the only Super Bowl-era coaches in the Hall of Fame who never won a Super Bowl.

 

Those are some awfully good football coaches – and you would have to say they have better overall resumes than some Super Bowl winners.