The Daily Briefing Monday, December 11, 2017

AROUND THE NFL 

The Eagles were the only one of the four division leaders to win in Week 14, but with the loss of CARSON WENTZ they may have suffered the biggest loss.  Still, they sit atop the NFC with 3 to play.

NFC STANDINGS

                                      Overall          Division       Conference

Philadelphia NCE             11-2            4-0                9-1

Minnesota NCN               10-3            3-1                8-2

LA Rams NCW                  9-4            3-1                6-4

New Orleans NCS             9-4            3-1                7-3

Carolina WC                      9-4            2-2                5-4

Atlanta                                8-5            2-1                7-2   

Seattle WC                         8-5            4-0                6-3

Detroit                                7-6            3-1                6-4

Green Bay                         7-6            2-2                5-4

Dallas                                 7-6            4-1                6-4

Can the Packers sneak into the playoffs?  Well, they have a tough three-game gauntlet – at Carolina, Minnesota and at Detroit.  But if they get to 10-6, there are some very real ways for them to get in – with the key being New Orleans beating the Falcons in Week 16 and Seattle losing just one game.

What if the Cowboys win out and Green Bay doesn’t?  Many of the same factors relate (and that would mean Seattle has lost another game since Dallas beat them).  It looks like Dallas would actually want Green Bay to beat Carolina, then lose to the Vikings.

– – –

Peter King wants more games between the AFC and NFC – and fewer between conference foes that are not in the same division:

Green Bay played at Cleveland on Sunday. Aaron Rodgers, the superstar Packers quarterback, was hurt and did not play. So, if you live in Cleveland and want to see Aaron Rodgers, you could have done that in his 13th NFL start, in 2009, when Rogers was 25. The next time you’ll be able to do that, if Rodgers is still playing football, and if he is still playing for the Packers, will be in 2025, when Rodgers will be either 41 or 42. I’ve said it forever: The arcane scheduling model of the NFL needs to cut down the time between interconference games. As it is now, it’s eight years between an AFC team’s visit to a given NFC team. The way to cut it down? Make all 28 non-division foes interchangeable. It’s nonsensical for instance that, between 2008 and 2017, Cleveland plays Jacksonville seven times and Green Bay twice. It’s simple to fix. You play twice a year against your division foes, and the other 10 games are a rotation, home and away, of the other 28 teams in the league. Instead of the Packers coming to Cleveland once per eight years, they’d come once every five or six. Still a big gap, but not as egregious as it is now.

Now the fact that Cleveland and Jacksonville have often been 4th place teams in their respective divisions has led to King’s seven times in 10 years example.

On the average though, teams in the same conference but different divisions play 5 times in 10 years, not 7. 

If King had his druthers, yes, Pittsburgh would play Seattle and Dallas more often, but they would play the Raiders and Patriots much less. 

NFC NORTH

CHICAGO

TE ZACH MILLER is finally back at Bears HQ.  Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:

Bears tight end Zach Miller has returned to the team facility for the first time since the October 29 game in New Orleans when he suffered a knee injury so severe he had to be hospitalized for three weeks. 

Miller detailed his eight surgeries and his recovery, and he said the Bears’ ownership, coaches, players and fans have been incredible in their support.

“Everybody’s been there and it’s much appreciated. That’s all I’m going to say because I’m trying not to cry here,” Miller said. “I learned there are still really good people in this world. There’s so much negative stuff 24/7 but I’ve been impacted by love across the globe.”

Miller said he isn’t sure whether he’ll be able to play again.

“I haven’t thought much about football,” Miller said. “I haven’t gotten to that point. It’s just getting right, getting healed up, and when that decision comes, making a decision. Do I want to play football? What do you think? I’ve been playing football my whole life. I would love to play football.”

Despite the brutal toll the injury took on him, Miller said that to return to the Bears facility today makes him feel lucky.

 

GREEN BAY

So if Sunday in Charlotte goes into overtime, should BRETT HUNDLEY come in for AARON RODGERS?  This nugget from ESPN Stats & Information: 

@ESPNStatsInfo

Overtime Record Including Playoffs

– Brett Hundley: 2-0

– Aaron Rodgers: 1-7

In the comments:

@dpconway17

@ESPNStatsInfo

How many of the loses did Rodgers not touch the field?

The answer is that in four of the seven, the opposing team scored on its first possession without Rodgers getting to play.  In one, a 2010 postseason loss at Arizona, the opposing QB never touched the field, as Rodgers had his fumble returned for the Cardinals winning TD.

– – –

The Packers are not confirming, as of yet, that Rodgers will return on Sunday in Charlotte.  Michael David Smith at ProFootballTalk.com

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is eligible to return from injured reserve and play against the Panthers on Sunday, but no decision has yet been made on whether he will.

Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers underwent tests today and is now being evaluated by team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie and other medical professionals before a decision is made about his availability.

“There’s a number of scans, testing that went in this morning,” McCarthy said. “It’s now in the evaluation stage. Dr. McKenzie is reviewing it. There’s a number of medical opinions involved in the decision. So at this time, I do not have a clean decision for you or an update.”

McCarthy joked that he’ll be pressuring the medical staff to let him know as soon as possible.

“If I don’t know tomorrow, they’re going to be putting Pat McKenzie on IR,” McCarthy said.

 Rodgers last played in Week Six, when he suffered a broken collarbone against the Vikings.

MINNESOTA

For those who thought QB CASE KEENUM would lose his starting spot after his next loss, not so.  Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com:

It was a question a month ago when Teddy Bridgewater was returning, and the Vikings might not have realized exactly what they had going with Case Keenum. But after a loss to the Panthers on Sunday, coach Mike Zimmer was asked who would start at quarterback this week.

Zimmer would have made news had he said Bridgewater, but, of course, he didn’t.

Keenum remains the Vikings’ starter, Zimmer said Monday, via Chris Tomasson of the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.

While the team’s quarterback future remains unsettled, with Keenum and Bridgewater both scheduled to become free agents, the Vikings are Keenum’s team for the rest of this season.

Keenum has directed the Vikings to an 8-3 record, passing for 2,938 yards with 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He’s done more than anyone outside the building thought he could do or expected him to do.

If the Vikings can take care of business and wrap up what they need to wrap up by Week 17, which may or may not happen, then Bridgewater could return to action in the regular-season finale.

NFC EAST

NEW YORK GIANTS

Peter King was one of the few who thought deposed coach Ben McAdoo was onto something when he put in place a plan to move past ELI MANNING.  He offers there numbers in support of the thesis that Eli’s time is past:

Should Manning be the Giants’ quarterback of the future, with New York likely to have a top-five pick in a draft that has multiple first-round-projected quarterbacks? Since Manning quarterbacked the Giants to their last Super Bowl win in his age-30 season, 2011, here’s how he ranks against all other   quarterbacks in the league (minimum 50 games played) in some major statistical metrics.

In all, 23 quarterbacks have played at least 50 games at quarterback since 2012. (Statistics entering Sunday’s games.)

Category                           Stat  Rank among 23 Qualifiers

Passer Rating                    85.7         20th

Completion Percentage    .615          19th

Passing Yards                  23,046        7th

Touchdown Passes           149            8th

Interceptions                       93           1st

Yards per attempt              6.99        19th

Manning, then, is in the bottom five of passer rating, completion percentage, interceptions and yards per attempt among quarterbacks over the past six years. The Giants, whoever the GM and the coach will be in a month, are going to have a decision to make on their 37-year-old quarterback.

Plus this from King: 

Davis Webb inactive. Bizarre. Good line from our Conor Orr at the Meadowlands, about the Giants’ approach to quarterback play in this meaningless last month: “This felt like a logjam of competing interests.”

Ask yourselves this question, all ye who love the Giants: What purpose does it serve to play Eli Manning in the last three games instead of playing the third-round rookie, Davis Webb, to be able to add info to your 2018 first-round draft decision? 

PHILADELPHIA

Peter King on whether the Eagles can win going forward with QB NICK FOLES:

With so many quarterbacks going down, and so many teams relying on backups, the smart GMs are the ones whose backups are producing well.

Case Keenum’s 8-1 record over the past 10 weeks has made Vikes GM Rick Spielman look like a genius. Ted Thompson doesn’t look so dumb now for sticking with Brett Hundley (3-2 in his past five starts) instead of a veteran in relief of Rodgers. The rest of the relief pitchers are a mixed bag. But the Eagles have legit hopes of winning a Super Bowl, hopes that won’t be ruined if coach Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich can find enough good things Foles can do in the complex offense if he has to play the rest of the way.

But the bummer is this is the time the league truly needs new young stars, with the ratings down 7 percent and no-shows up and folks worried about the health of the players and the health of the game. The biggest star to come into the league in 2016 was Wentz. The biggest star to come into the league in 2017 was Deshaun Watson. It’s a very bad coincidence that both will be lost for the year, if Wentz’s injury is as bad as it appeared late Sunday.

Philadelphia GM Howie Roseman has done a very good job building up the roster around the quarterback. Alshon Jeffery, LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi have been front-line offensive additions, and the offensive line has survived the loss for the season of left tackle Jason Peters. To win, Philadelphia will have to be a top-five defense (it’s number three now) and play more ball-control; the Eagles average 4.59 yards a carry, and Ajayi will be crucial to keeping that up.

The season’s not over for Philadelphia if Wentz is lost. The Eagles should easily win two of the last three, at least, and cop home field through the NFC playoffs. But they’d likely have to beat two of the following four—Carolina, New Orleans, the Rams, Minnesota—to advance to the Super Bowl. And while the energetic and strong-armed Wentz would have been a fascinating matchup against Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger in the Super Bowl, Foles would have to play a near-perfect game in the biggest game of his life to win on that stage.

According to the DB’s Man in Bridgewater-Raritan, there haven’t been many QBs to win 11 games and yet not play a down in that year’s postseason.  In fact, just two, one last year:

Prior to this season, there’s been only two quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era to win at least 11 games for a playoff team and not start any postseason games that year. The others:

 Phil Simms for Giants in 1990 (Jeff Hostetler took over & won Super Bowl XXV)

 Derek Carr for Raiders in 2016 (Connor Cook took over and they lost in Wild Card)

NFC SOUTH

NEW ORLEANS

Saints RB ALVIN KAMARA, knocked out of Thursday’s game with the Falcons, says he will be ready for the Jets on Sunday in the Big Easy.  Marc Sessler of NFL.com:

The most fascinating player on the Saints is angling to get back in the lineup sooner than later.

Running back Alvin Kamara told reporters Monday he expects to be good to go for Sunday’s home game against the New York Jets, per Josh Katzenstein of The Times-Picayune.

Kamara suffered a concussion on the opening drive in Thursday night’s loss to the Falcons. He never returned, but the late-week tilt gave the rookie sensation an extra three days to heal.

We should know more about Kamara’s status on Wednesday, when the Saints issue an official injury report. The 5-foot-10, 215-pound runner has yet to be officially cleared, but his words are encouraging for a team that desperately needs his gifts.

While Drew Brees and his flock of targets — Michael Thomas, Brandon Coleman, Tommylee Lewis and Ted Ginn — moved the ball against the Falcons, the attack wasn’t the same without Kamara slicing up the defense by land and through the air.

The Saints still have Mark Ingram on the ground, but his pairing with Kamara is on pace to break records and a primary reason the Saints loom as a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Getting them back on the field together can’t come soon enough. 

TAMPA BAY

Someone told NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, in time for the Sunday shows, that the relationship between Coach Dirk Koetter and QB JAMEIS WINSTON was shaky.  We’re wondering which prospective coaching hire and/or his agent was responsible.

In an perhaps not unrelated matter, Charles Robinson of YahooSports.com decides to see if Jon Gruden can be wooed back to the Buccaeneers.

 Any faint hope of the playoffs has slipped away for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The penchant for self-destruction has become the team’s consistent defining trait. The growth of franchise centerpiece Jameis Winston appears pressed against a familiar ceiling, in spite of – or because of – head coach Dirk Koetter, who was promoted largely to develop the quarterback. And now there’s a disputed NFL Network report that Winston and Koetter aren’t getting along.

With Gruden heading into the Buccaneers ring of honor on Dec. 18, the talk about his potential NFL return will hit new heights this week. Partly fueled by the fact that Gruden has made a lot of statements this year about getting back into football. But also because sources close to Gruden believe a sweet-spot opportunity is developing in Tampa, where Gruden still owns a home and has a   track record with ownership.

Not to mention one significant reality: if he’s ever going to angle for an NFL encore, the Buccaneers essentially have everything he has been looking for.

Does that make Gruden a lock to be in the Tampa conversation if Koetter gets fired? No. But some of the NFL executives who still commiserate with Gruden believe the Buccaneers check off almost every box he desires to seriously consider leaving television.

 “You can only do so many Corona commercials into your late 50s,” one league executive said of Gruden. “… For most guys who don’t stay in the coaching pipeline, that [NFL] door really starts to close later in your 50s. He knows there’s a shelf life there and he’s starting to push it.

[Former Pittsburgh Steelers coach] “Bill Cowher, you know – Bill kind of rode it out. He was still interested in the NFL for a while. But TV and some of his other interests took over. The thing is, I don’t know if Jon has any other interests outside of being Jon Gruden and then football. At some point – I think some point soon – he has to choose between being in the Jon Gruden business or being in the football business. If he’s going to be in the football business, he has things he wants to come back. If they aren’t there, he won’t.”

The Buccaneers apparently have quite a few of those things. Strong defensive pieces. A mid-20s franchise quarterback whose arrow is still pointed up. Ample salary-cap space going forward. Solid young offensive pieces in place around the quarterback. Gruden covets all of these. Along with one other thing that might be the sticking point: a big, fat paycheck.

It’s anyone’s guess whether the Glazer family, owners of the Bucs, would lay out a huge deal for Gruden, but that point appears to be unequivocal – he’s going to need a top-shelf NFL salary to leave ESPN for the grind. And of course, he’s going to need an opening at head coach.

The Buccaneers don’t have that now, but it’s not looking good for Koetter. Not with Winston’s development seeming to be at a standstill despite the offensive pieces that were added around him this offseason. And not with the Buccaneers sitting at 4-9, with the team’s four wins coming against an exceedingly bad quartet: the Chicago Bears, New York Giants, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins.

That’s the kind of thing that puts a damper on attendance and sours a fan base. Before long, the so-called media buzzards begin to circle, waiting for the inevitable. Perhaps that’s a little of what took place Sunday, when the NFL Network reported that Winston and Koetter have had some issues in their relationship stemming from the offensive scheme.

 “Me and Coach Koetter, we have a great relationship, first and foremost,” Winston said Sunday, denying any rift. “We’ve got the same goal when we go out there on that football field, and that’s to win a football game. So it doesn’t matter what anybody else can possibly say.”

That statement can be viewed two ways. Either Winston is being truthful and he and Koetter have no problems. Or he and Koetter have had issues and he’s trying to keep it in-house for the sake of the team.

Neither of those two scenarios changes the truth, and that’s this: Winston has only marginally progressed under Koetter. And the offense as a whole doesn’t speak well of a coach whose forte is that side of the football. Winston is still making some of the same mind-numbing mistakes. The running game is failing. And elements of the skill positions – while young – don’t reflect the consistency that the talent teases.

And once again, the NFL is a bottom-line business, and the Buccaneers are 4-9 in a season they were expected to take a big step forward and start pressing for NFC supremacy. Instead, we’re watching a left-for-dead New Orleans Saints team and a quarterback-garbled Minnesota Vikings club rise up into the void left by Tampa Bay. That irks this ownership, which has displayed a remarkable penchant for moving quickly on middling head coaches.

Going backward in the mediocrity timeline, the axe came down quickly on Lovie Smith, Greg Schiano, Raheem Morris … and even Jon Gruden.

The difference in that group for ownership? Gruden delivered a Super Bowl. And he did it by being a finisher. He took a roster that was loaded up during the Tony Dungy era and became the over-the-top element that brought it all together. Maybe that would have happened with Dungy anyway, but the point was the Glazer family gambled on Gruden being the missing element and he repaid them with a Super Bowl win.

This roster isn’t anywhere near what Guden took over the first time around. I’m not even sure you could point to anyone on the roster and have confidence there is Hall of Fame talent represented, whereas Gruden’s peak roster was loaded with the likes of Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and an outstanding cast of role players on both sides of the ball.

Tampa Bay doesn’t have that kind of stocked depth chart now. But it has two things Gruden never really possessed: a supremely talented quarterback who could eventually be one of the best three or four in the NFL, and an absurd amount of cap space to add pieces starting in 2018. Not to mention a general manager in Jason Licht, who should at the very least be extremely flexible and open to suggestion at this stage of his less-than-perfect tenure.

This is the type of situation that should whet Gruden’s appetite. And lest anyone question it, the same people whose ear he bends on football matters also say things aren’t picture-perfect in Gruden’s ESPN world, either. The booth on “Monday Night Football” has not been the same since Mike Tirico departed, leaving Gruden to be paired with Sean McDonough. Those close to Gruden say the relationship is workmanlike but not always a perfect fit – something that may also be driving Gruden to think outside the TV world.

Expect that to be a significant point of interest when Gruden is entering Tampa Bay’s ring of honor next week. For his part, Gruden has ambiguously downplayed his future, recently stating that he “can’t control all the reports.” But that’s not exactly a true statement. If Gruden is done with the NFL and the NFL is done with him, he can control the narrative. Instead of throwing water on it, he has fueled it.

Seemingly waiting for his sweet spot. Which might be closer now than ever – measured in months and the miles from his front-door step in Florida. 

NFC WEST

SAN FRANCISCO

QB JIMMY GAROPPOLO gets the Peter King seal of approval:

I know it’s only two Niners starts, but Jimmy Garoppolo (2-0, 8.9 yards per attempt) is the goods.

SEATTLE

The NFL has reviewed the acts of DT MICHAEL BENNETT and others at the end of Sunday’s game, but has apparently decided he will be good to go against the Rams this week.  Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com:

The Seahawks, who play the Rams for the NFC West lead this week, can rest a little easier. They will have all their healthy players, with none facing suspension for actions at the end of the loss to the Jaguars, via Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

The league still is reviewing the late-game actions of both teams with several players certain to be fined.

The scuffle between the teams happened on the final two plays with the Jaguars in victory formation. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday on his radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle that Michael Bennett was trying to swipe the snap.

“Time it up and swipe the snap,” Carroll said.

But Bennett dove at the knees of Jaguars center Brandon Linder, and running back Leonard Fournette came to Linder’s defense. Bennett and Fournette received offsetting penalties. Seahawks defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was ejected for throwing a punch.

On the next play, Seahawks defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson was ejected and Carroll was penalized. Jefferson tried to climb into the stands as he was leaving the field after a Jaguars fan threw a drink at him.

But the NFL deemed nothing egregious enough to warrant a suspension.

Clay Travis of OutkickTheCoverage.com was no fan of Bennett, even before Sunday.  He sees political reasons for what he perceives as a lack of outrage:

Yesterday evening Michael Bennett, the racebaiting, lying fraud who falsely accused three minority police officers in Las Vegas of racially profiling him and refuses to stand for the national anthem yet was nominated as the Seattle Seahawks man of the year anyway, dove at the back of Jacksonville Jaguar center Brandon Linder’s knees.

It’s worth noting that this was during a kneel down situation, when the outcome of the game had already been decided. The dirty play by Bennett led to a ugly ending to the game, one that nearly finished with a melee involving a Seattle Seahawks player climbing into the stands to fight angry fans.

Yet the sports media, by and large, isn’t demanding a suspension for Bennett or really covering the story as they did Rob Gronkowski’s dirty play last week. Why? Because the sports media has consistently protected Michael Bennett, even as evidence continues to pile up that he’s a lying, fraudulent ass.

Why does the sports media protect Bennett?

Because Bennett is a left wing social justice warrior and so are most members of the sports media, particularly those living in Seattle.

You’ll recall that Outkick first wrote about Bennett extensively when the Las Vegas police department proved he was a liar. I’d encourage you to go read that article as well as watch all the videos surrounding that police incident in Las Vegas if you haven’t already. There is 100%, irrefutable proof that Bennett lied about this racial incident to police — further widening the divide between police and minorities in this country — yet virtually no media covered Bennett’s lies being exposed. That’s despite the fact that ESPN, Fox, CBS and NBC all led their NFL game coverage with Bennett’s allegations of racism.

It’s amazing how when a liberal lie is exposed it just disappears.

Poof, be gone.

So much so that not one article writing about Bennett’s nomination for NFL man of the year even so much as mentioned the false allegation in their stories.

What’s more, virtually no media even ASKED Bennett about the fake racial incident for nearly a month. Indeed, in an unbelievable moment, NBC actually had an exclusive interview with Michael Bennett the very week his lies were exposed and didn’t even discuss the incident with him.

Instead NBC focused on why Michael Bennett’s shoulder pads were so small.

Really.

The media has perpetuated the charade that Bennett isn’t a fraud despite continuing evidence of his lies and lack of commitment to the causes he claims to endorse. Alleging false racism via disproven lies merely serves to create further division in our nation and delegitimize actual racism.

Yet no one else in the media has pointed this out. Instead, the media has continued to perpetuate a myth, that Bennett is a thoughtful and honest spokesperson for complex issues facing our country.

Don’t believe me? This past October when Bennett was asked what he thought about Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wanting players to stand for the national anthem he compared himself to former slave Dred Scott.

Seriously.

A football player with a salary cap number of $15.4 million in 2017 — one who recently bought a second home in Hawaii for over $4 million — compared himself to a slave because an NFL owner had the absolute gall to want him to stand for the national anthem.

I must have missed the part of history books where slaves had multi-million dollar vacation homes.

 Sign me up for that kind of slavery.

 Once again, the media protected him, this story received barely a mention anywhere outside of Outkick.

 As a result this week, in a story that seems like satire, the Seattle Seahawks NOMINATED MICHAEL BENNETT FOR MAN OF THE YEAR!

 @Seahawks

Few athletes have used their platforms more effectively than @mosesbread72, which is why he’s our nominee for the #WPMOY Award.

Seriously, the guy who made up a fake racism incident, refused to stand for the national anthem, and compared himself to an 19th century slave, was nominated for man of the year.

Are you really telling me that there wasn’t a single better representative for this nomination on the Seahawks this year? And are you also telling me that no one employed by the Seahawks realized how full of shit anyone with a functional brain was going to think they were the moment this nomination went public?

Fans across the league threw up their hands in exasperation. (If you’d like to be entertained go read the comments to this Seahawks Tweet above.) Really, this dude is the best the Seahawks have to offer? The guy who called three heroic minority Las Vegas police officers racist and refused to apologize even when the videos clearly showed he was a liar, was one of the 32 NFL players most worthy of emulation this season? The guy who dove at the back of another player’s knees seeking to intentionally injure him, setting off a near fight between fans and players, is the football player the league wants to honor? The guy who compared himself to a slave because an owner wanted his players to stand for the national anthem?

It’s laughably absurd.

Yet all too predictable.

Because as much as Bennett has deserved the condemnation of the media, the left wing sports media has protected him because they agree with Bennett’s world view. And if the media agrees with you, they’ll protect you, even when you’re incontrovertibly proven to be a lying, racebaiting fraud.

It’s the same reason almost no one is demanding Bennett be suspended today either.

It should be shameful, but, sadly, it’s all too predictable, because the left wing sports media is as dishonest and untrustworthy as the man they love and protect, Michael Bennett.

It’s a match made in NFL heaven, the perfect ending to an absolutely absurd season, a racebaiting liar as the man most worthy of emulation in the entire league.

So let me be the first to congratulate NFL Man of the Year, Michael Bennett!

Bennett was surly in the postgame locker room, and unapologetic.  This from USA TODAY:

Seahawks defensive end Quinton Jefferson was ejected in the final seconds of Seattle’s loss to the Jaguars on Sunday. As Jefferson made his way towards the tunnel, a Jaguars fan threw beer at him, causing Jefferson to make an attempt to enter the stands.

Jefferson was pulled down before the situation got out of hand, and the ugly scene carried over into a confrontational postgame media exchange. While Jefferson was getting asked about the incident, Bennett jumped in to tell reporters to stop asking Jefferson questions.

Bennett said:

“He doesn’t want to talk to you anymore. Move away from him. He doesn’t want to talk to you anymore. He’s emotional right now. You win. You guys win. This what you guys want to see? You want to see him act in a certain way? Move out the way. He’s done. The man was disrespected. People threw food on him. He’s not an animal, he’s a human being. So get out of here. He’s a human being. How would you like it if one of your kids was playing sports and someone threw beer on him? Exactly. So don’t come here with that (expletive) then. He’s here. What else do you want to ask him? He had beer thrown on him.”

Bennett was penalized moments before Jefferson’s ejection for going low on Jaguars center Brandon Linder with Jacksonville in the victory formation. He didn’t offer an explanation for the hit after the game.

Bob Condotta

@bcondotta

Michael Bennett, asked what happened at end, said “I don’t have to explain myself.”

Carroll says the play was actually a football idea not an attempt to injury Linder after a very chippy affair.

“We still had a chance to get the ball back; so we’re going to keep trying and that’s what we’re doing,” Carroll said Monday morning on 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” show. “I heard about in the broadcast that they thought he rolled up on the guys legs. Mike was trying to swipe the snap. He was trying to time it up and swipe the snap and that was what he was down on the ground for. We came off hard and they took some kind of concern about that. I get it. Unfortunately, it went out of whack.”

The Seahawks still down only a score with a timeout in their hands weren’t quite ready to go home, despite having a nearly zero percent chance of winning at that point. Their actions including Bennett’s led to a near melee. The Jaguars also thought Bennett was trying to injure Linder, which led to running back Leonard Fournette coming to his center’s aid. Seahawks defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, then, took a swipe at Fournette leading to Richardson’s ejection. It’s also well-documented now what happened with Seahawks defensive end Quinton Jefferson and the EverBank Field faithful after that, when he was ejected on the next play.

But, of all the participants involved, only one has a microscope under him due to his off-the-field work, racial inequality protest and being named Seahawks Man of the Year on Thursday. Critics are looking to take down Bennett and even supporters were left searching for answers over what looked to be a dirty play. Carroll was aware of that as well.

“I think that’s how it’s taken. And it’s unfortunate,” Carroll said, when asked if the situation and perception afterwards was mad tougher because of Bennett’s off-the-field work. “He is walking the fine line. He’s on the edge with making his stands and stuff. It’s unfortunate. I go back to — I don’t know exactly how that all twisted up down there on the ground and all that — but I know what Mike was trying to do. He was trying to time the snap up and they take concern about that.”

However, Carroll was pushed further on the matter. Former Seahawks quarterback Brock Huard contested the initial swipe wasn’t what people took exception to most but the scuffle afterwards. Carroll acknowledged that was a factor too.

“It was after they got tangled up and that’s what happened. Unfortunately, it’s a bad situation,” he said.

AFC WEST

THE RAIDERS

There are a lot of nominees for the NFL’s most disappointing QB of 2017, but Raiders QB DEREK CARR has beaten out Tampa Bay’s JAMEIS WINSTON and Tennessee’s MARCUS MARIOTA for the award.  Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com:

It is obvious, isn’t it?

Derek Carr does not look like the same quarterback he was last season when, despite breaking his right ankle in Week 16, he finished tied for third in NFL MVP voting.

There were the acrobatics — remember his Superman-like dive over a defender in New Orleans in the season opener? There was the laser-like accuracy and deep shots with aplomb, and the white-knuckle finishes — he won seven games in 2016 on fourth-quarter or overtime drives.

That’s a major reason the Oakland Raiders gave him that five-year, $125 million contract this offseason, making him, at the time, the highest-paid player in the history of the game.

The Carr of 2017, though, does not look as confident, nor as precise, under first-year offensive coordinator and close friend Todd Downing. Carr no longer scrambles to extend plays and looks extremely uncomfortable whenever the pocket starts to show any sign of collapse, as was the case when he got sacked three times in the Raiders’ 26-15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

First place in the division was on the line. Against a team that had lost six of seven. And with weapons in Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper coming back into service after a week off due to suspension and injury.

And yet …

Carr and the Raiders’ offense did not simply sputter and stall. It never truly started and, despite finishing with a mini-flourish courtesy of two fourth-quarter touchdown drives after trailing 26-0, Carr had a Total QBR of 9.7, the third-lowest single-game Total QBR of his career.

“I wish I had the answer, because it would have been something we could have nipped after the first couple of drives,” Carr said when asked how such a slow start could happen, with so much on the line,

“But, I’ll look at myself like I always do and see what I can do better and see if I can help my teammates along the way.”

Against the Chiefs on Sunday, QB Derek Carr had a Total QBR of 9.7, the third-lowest single-game Total QBR of his career. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Of course, Carr suffered a broken pinkie finger on his passing hand last year, and then his season ended with a broken right fibula in Week 16. Then he suffered a broken bone in his back in Week 6 this season at Denver, an injury that cost him one game.

You think that’s not on his mind still, not even a little bit? He did, after all, mention all three injuries in passing at a podium session earlier this season.

Fine, then, are you sure he is healthy, and he feels good?

“Yeah,” Carr said. “Yes. Thank you.”

Still, no one operates at 100 percent in the NFL, especially not after 13 games. But if Carr is so limited that the Raiders’ purported high-powered offense cannot operate at at least minimal efficiency, he should not be out there, no? Some might call it selfish. Others, selfless.

Then again, if he can suit up, he should play. Unless …

“Any time you can hit the quarterback the way he was hit early,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said, “that affects him.”

The late Al Davis would agree, whole-heartedly. Something about the opposing quarterback, in the first five to 10 plays of a game, must go down, and he must go down hard.

Is Carr shook?

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie acknowledged the entire team was “shook” in a Week 3 loss at Washington. It has been trying to bounce back ever since. And here the Raiders are, 6-7 and a game behind the Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC West.

“It sucked,” Carr said, when asked about the offense’s lack of execution. “Wasn’t good enough and you put it all on me. Don’t you blame one coach, one player, it’s all my fault.

“There’s no easy way to go through this one. This one sucked.”

Through three quarters, Carr had just 69 yards passing and an interception, while completing 11 of 23 attempts.

And he was not really trying to stretch the field.

Consider: Carr completed only one of 10 passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield on Sunday, a 29-yard touchdown to tight end Jared Cook, and had a 2.9 yards per attempt rate.

In the 31-30 defeat of the Chiefs in Week 7, Carr was 5-of-14 on deep passes for a season-high 167 yards and two TDs with an 11.9 yards per attempt rate.

Plus, Carr has now thrown seven touchdowns and seven interceptions on passes of 15 yards or more this season, after throwing just three picks on 101 such passes last year.

“Well, he is the trigger man of our offense,” Del Rio said. “The offense didn’t get done what we need to get down today.”

Really, it has not been consistent all season. 

AFC NORTH

CINCINNATI

If Peter King has his way, the new coach of the Bengals, assuming Marvin Lewis is marching off into the sunset, should start his tenure under threat of suspension if one of his players gets out of hand:

 Most times these teams play, there are two or three or four over-the-top hits that we all watch and say: Shameful. This is going to make parents shudder and prevent their kids from playing tackle football. Or something like that. The fact that JuJu Smith-Schuster waylaid the despised (by the Steelers) Vontaze Burfict and then, with Burfict possibly knocked out, taunted him is despicable. The fact that Smith-Schuster did it with beloved teammate Ryan Shazier laying in the hospital, with no idea if Shazier would walk again, exacerbates the problem. The Steelers and Ravens have a bitter rivalry. The Steelers and Bengals have an out-of-control rivalry. Goodell should call both coaches together at the league meetings in March and say, calmly but firmly, that the league has tried stiff fines and player suspensions; now, if those don’t work and the bush-league behavior continues in either of the 2018 meetings between the teams, a suspension of a head coach or head coaches is next. I can’t figure any other way to stop what has been become a stain on the game. Let me also say that both of these coaches are very good men. I have been with Mike Tomlin and his family, and I have the highest regard for him. But this has to stop, and stop now. 

PITTSBURGH

QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER, with a big assist from WR ANTONIO BROWN, went off during a huge comeback win.

Ben Roethlisberger became the first quarterback in NFL history to record three games with at least 500 yards passing when he led the Pittsburgh Steelers to a come-from-behind victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night.

Roethlisberger, who had been one of only two quarterbacks — along with New Orleans’ Drew Brees — with two 500-yard games, finished with 506 yards and two touchdowns in the 39-38 victory.

“Hall of Famer, it’s as simple as that, and we are lucky he is on our team,” Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey said.

Roethlisberger previously hit the 500-yard mark with 522 yards and six touchdowns in a 51-24 victory over Indianapolis in 2014 and 503 yards and three TDs in a 37-36 win over Green Bay in 2004.

Roethlisberger’s career-high 44 completions (on 66 attempts) Sunday were the most in a game since New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe had 45 (on 70 attempts) in a 1994 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

In leading Pittsburgh to Chris Boswell’s game-winning field goal with 42 seconds left, Roethlisberger recorded his 39th game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime, the most in the NFL since he began his career in 2004.

“He’s a winner. He’s going to find a way to win games,” Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell said. “We were down 11 … he put us in a position to win games. That’s what you want in your quarterback. That’s why I’m glad I play with him.”

Roethlisberger recorded 228 yards in the fourth quarter alone, the second most of his career in the fourth quarter. Of those yards, 136 went to receiver Antonio Brown, who recorded his fourth straight 100-yard game.

When asked by a reporter about continuing to throw to Brown against Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr, who is having a “pretty good year,” Roethlisberger responded that he and Brown “[have] had a pretty good year, too.”

“Our chemistry together is something pretty special,” Roethlisberger said.

Roethlisberger also praised a bevy of supporting playmakers, including tight ends Jesse James (10 catches, 97 yards) and Vance McDonald (four catches, 52 yards) and slot receiver Eli Rogers (three catches, 33 yards).

Roethlisberger said his stats are secondary to finding a way to win.

“Whatever it takes to win a football game — whether it’s by 30 or 3,” he said.

– – –

The from Peter King with an assist from Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“We got a W today!” Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, lying down, said just after midnight this morning from his hospital bed in Pittsburgh, the sheet on the bed pulled up to mid-chest. There are woo-woos in the background from family in his room as Shazier speaks.

“Y’all scary!” he says with a wide smile. “We know how to pull it off, baby. Here we go Steelers!”

The Steelers did more than win for their fallen teammate. They were planning a late-night hospital trip to see Shazier.

 Alert hospital security,” defensive end Cam Heyward told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Coming back from two scores down in the final five minutes, the Steelers made Shazier smile with the 39-38 victory over Baltimore, then the team FaceTimed with him as soon as the players got into the locker room. Shazier suffered a spinal cord injury a week ago in Cincinnati, and his long-term prognosis is uncertain. For much of this game, the Steelers showed how much they missed him. Ravens back Alex Collins sprinted around the edge on runs Shazier might well have stopped; many of Collins’ 166 rushing/receiving yards were daggers to a defense that badly missed Shazier.

I was sure when firebrands like Hines Ward (2011) and Ray Lewis (2012) left the game that the Ravens-Steelers rivalry would lose its greatness. If anything, it’s better. Harbaugh-Tomlin, Flacco-Roethlisberger, Suggs and the new Steelers’ defensive stars—who hopefully will have Shazier back one day for the fun. But there won’t be many games in this rivarly as good as Steelers 39, Ravens 38.

A quick stat for you: in the past 12 games of the Steelers-Ravens series, it’s six wins apiece. Total points: 275 for Baltimore and, you guessed it, 275 for Pittsburgh.

Three quick questions with Ed Bouchette, the longtime Steelers beat man for the Post-Gazette, who   called at 1:35 this morning, driving home from this weird game:   

MMQB: Was it a positive that the Steelers were playing for Ryan Shazier tonight?

Bouchette: A positive they were playing for him. A negative he wasn’t playing for them. He’s the Troy Polamalu of linebackers. Troy was a bolt of lightning. Ryan’s the same thing at linebacker … Calls the signals, leads ’em in tackles, makes so many plays, becoming more durable. It was tough, and is going to be tougher without him.

MMQB: What do you know about Shazier’s prognosis?

Bouchette: I don’t know anything. I truly don’t. I’ve heard so many things, on both sides of the story. There was some optimism [last] Monday night in Cincinnati, calling it a concussion and comparing it to the Tommy Maddox spinal cord concussion back in 2002. But Maddox bounced back that night. That was nothing compared to this. Nobody has said how he’s doing. I know there’s been reports … but I haven’t talked to anyone who really knows.

MMQB: How will they do against the Patriots next Sunday?

Bouchette: I think they’re gonna get killed. I picked the Bengals to beat ’em. I picked the Ravens to win by one. They’re down 17-0 to the Bengals, and I think I’m looking pretty good. The Ravens are up 31-20 in the fourth quarter, and it looks like I made the right pick. But they’re an amazing team. They’re a confounding team. But against New England, without Shazier in the middle, I just don’t see it. To win, they gotta get in Tom Brady’s face, and they gotta score a ton of points.

– – –

Peter King:

In their past six games, the Steelers have played on Sunday night, Sunday afternoon, Thursday night, Sunday night, Monday night and Sunday night. Five night games out of six. Has that ever happened before?

Their biggest game of the year though will be this week in the Steel City at 4:25 Sunday as the Patriots come the ‘Burgh for CBS.  The previous Sunday afternoon game was at 1 p.m. at the Colts.  So in seven weeks, five different windows. 

AFC SOUTH

HOUSTON

The NFL and NFLPA are jointly trying to figure out how QB TOM SAVAGE returned to Sunday’s game with the 49ers.  Marc Sessler of NFL.com:

Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien believes his team did right by quarterback Tom Savage. 

One day after the starting passer was lost to a scary concussion in a loss to the 49ers, O’Brien told reporters that Houston’s medical staff initially cleared Savage to return before the coach asked them to examine him a second time.

Savage left Sunday’s 26-16 loss to San Francisco in the second quarter following a crushing blow by 49ers edge rusher Elvis Dumervil. The hit left Savage shaking on the ground — a disturbing sight caught on video — but the quarterback briefly returned to the field before leaving for good.

“I figured he got hit, didn’t know he got hit, very difficult from where I’m standing to even see he got it. There’s no video on the sideline,” O’Brien said Monday, per the Houston Chronicle. “With benefit of the video, I never would have allowed the player back in the game and I don’t think [trainer] Geoff Kaplan would have let Tom back in the game.”

NFL spokesperson Joe Lockhart told reporters during a Monday conference call that the league has   initiated a joint investigation with the NFL Players Association into the handling of Savage’s concussion.

“That work started yesterday afternoon and continued into this morning but I think we’ll withhold further comments until we’ve had a chance to conduct the review and again expediential with the NFL,” said Lockhart. “I say that we believe very strongly that the protocol is an important part of our overall effort on protecting our players health and safety. But we do understand that it is our obligation to look at where the protocol may not have been followed, and just as importantly to see where the protocol can be improved. That’s an ongoing effort.”

O’Brien went out his way to defend his handling of the injury, along with the team’s, saying: “At no point in my coaching career, have I ever passed the buck. In this case, I’m not passing the buck.”

Said O’Brien: “At no point in time in my coaching career, in my 25 years of coaching, I’ve been at Brown University, I’ve been at Georgia Tech, I’ve been at Duke, I’ve been at the University of Maryland, I’ve been the head coach at Penn State and I’ve been the head coach here, at no point in time is there anything more important to me than the safety of our players. I love our players and I care about them and I cannot stand when players get injured. Again with benefit of seeing the video that people are seeing, I would have never put him back in the game.”

Savage took to Twitter Monday to defend his coach:

“I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers, I’m doing fine. Even though I cannot speak to media due to the protocol I will say this, nobody cares more about his players than OB.”

O’Brien said that he expects backup T.J. Yates to start Sunday against the Jaguars in place of Savage, which comes as no surprise after the punishment Houston’s starter took Sunday.

INDIANAPOLIS

PK ADAM VINATIERI may have taken a $500,000 hit by kicking in Buffalo on Sunday.  John Breech of CBSSports.com:

Adam Vinatieri is one of the best kickers in NFL history, but even he was no match for the blizzard that blew through Buffalo on Sunday.

In the Colts’ 13-7 loss to the Bills, Vinatieri missed multiple field goals (0 for 2) in a game for the first time since November 2012. In the first quarter, the Colts trotted him out for a 33-yard attempt that never really came close to making it.

Vinatieri then got another chance at a field goal on the final play of regulation. With the score tied at seven, the Colts kicker missed a 43-yard field goal that would have won the game. The Colts actually felt good about that kick because Vinatieri had hit a 43-yard extra point just one minute earlier on a conversion that will likely go down as the greatest extra point in NFL history.

So what does all of this have to do with money?

As noted by former NFL agent and CBSSports.com contributor Joel Corry, Vinatieri actually has a clause in his contract that calls for a $500,000 bonus if he makes 90 percent or more of his field goals this season.

Going into Sunday’s game, Vinatieri was a hitting a rock solid 95.7 percent of his kicks (22 of 23) on the year. However, thanks to the blizzard and his 0-for-2 performance, Vinatieri is now 22 of 25 on the season, which drops him to just 88 percent.

To hit the 90 percent mark, Vinatieri is going to have to go 3-for-3 or better over the Colts’ final three games, which definitely seems plausible. However, if he misses just one more field goal this year, then things get a little murkier.

– – –

The 44-year-old, who turns 45 on Dec. 28, is in the final season of a two-year deal that he signed with the Colts before the 2016 season.

 

JACKSONVILLE

Casting about for his Goat of the Week, Peter King looks right past Seahawks Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee Michael Bennett and spots the real culprits:

The Jacksonville fans. There is much blame to go around in the Seattle-Jacksonville game—Michael Bennett rolling into the legs of Jacksonville center Brandon Linder was terrible in that end-of-game fiasco—but the Jaguar fans were particularly shameful in the midst of one of their biggest wins in a decade. A fan threw something (it appeared to be a can) that hit Seattle wideout Tyler Lockett in the back, and several fans threw things—ice, and something green—at ejected Seahawk defensive end Quinton Jefferson, causing Jefferson to try to climb into the stands after the fans.

If you didn’t know that was BLAKE BORTLES out there, you might think the Jaguars had a pretty good quarterback on Sunday.  Certainly, DE CALAIS CAMPBELL sees greatness in the much-maligned 4th year pro.  Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com:

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles wanted to talk about the receivers, the offensive line and running back Leonard Fournette.

Everyone else, however, wanted to talk about Bortles and what he’s done the past two weeks, especially throwing for 268 yards and two touchdowns in the Jaguars’ 30-24 victory over Seattle at EverBank Field.

“These last couple of games he’s playing amazing,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “He looks like Tom Brady these last couple games. I know Tom Brady does it all the time, but these last couple games, Blake was out there leading the team, playing confident and having fun.”

Campbell was more than a little over the top there, but Bortles has been really good the past two weeks: 577 yards, 71 percent completions, four touchdowns, no interceptions and zero sacks. He ripped through Indianapolis and its beat-up secondary on Dec. 3 but was even more impressive against Seattle. 

AFC EAST

MIAMI

Peter King is over the moon that the Dolphins have added 75 or so names to Florida’s voter roles.

The Dolphins announced late in the week that all 75 players under contract to the team—active, injured reserve and practice squad—are now registered to vote, either in Florida or in the place they consider their permanent home. I spoke to one of the first-time registered voters, 23-year-old running back Kenyan Drake, on Saturday for this column, and then praised the Dolphins on Twitter for their efforts to make their players more enlightened citizens. Drake first, then our populace.

Drake is from Atlanta, used to go with his mom as a child to vote, but said he never got around to registering while a player and student at Alabama, or in his rookie year in Miami. But the Dolphins brought in Martin Luther King III, the eldest son of the slain civil-rights leader, to address the team on the importance of voting, and Drake was convinced.

“It was very impactful to hear him speak, especially coming from Atlanta like I do,” Drake said. “I’m not the most political person. But I do appreciate the fact that not everyone through the course of our history has had the right to vote, and I think it’s important we take advantage of it. To have a positive impact as a football player is important, but you can have a positive impact by being a citizen also.”

I asked Drake about the importance of one more voter—and he says he’ll definitely be one now, in the state of Florida. “It’s not just about the national elections,” he said. “It’s about the local elections too. The people we elect locally are important in our lives too.”

Now for the reaction from more than 31,000 people on my Twitter feed. Take a scroll through the replies to this tweet and you’ll see the mixed bag. Some called it a P.R. stunt by the Dolphins. We’ll find out, in time, if it was. But to criticize an organization for trying to make its players more responsible citizens takes a special kind of oaf.

NEW ENGLAND

Credit to QB TOM BRADY:

“I want to apologize to Josh for last week in Buffalo. Our coaches work really hard. They’re responsible for putting us in a great position to succeed, so I want to get that off my chest. A lot of people see that, and they think the nature of our relationship would be something like that, but it’s really the exact opposite of that. I’ve been feeling bad all week and haven’t had a chance to say it, and he knows how much I love him. 

 NEW YORK JETS

The Eagles weren’t the only team in green to lose their QB for the rest of the year.  Brian Costello of the New York Post:

The Jets’ fears were confirmed Monday, when quarterback Josh McCown was ruled out for the season with a broken left hand.

Jets coach Todd Bowles said McCown will need surgery to fix the hand he injured in Sunday’s 23-0 loss to the Broncos. Bryce Petty will start against the Saints on Sunday.

“He’s been leading us all year offensively. For him to go down this late in the season, it’s a next-man-up mentality. The next guy has to step up. But you feel sorry for Josh. He’s having a very good year.”

The 38-year-old McCown had a career year in his first season with the Jets, performing better than anyone expected. He threw for 18 touchdowns and ran for another five and became a locker-room leader for the Jets.

“He meant a lot,” Bowles said. “His leadership meant a lot from the time he walked in the door, just always doing the right thing and saying the right things and helping everyone on the team, not just offensively, but defensively as well. Not to mention the fact that he made some plays out there on the field that’s helped us out.”

Bowles said he is comfortable with Christian Hackenberg as the backup quarterback. The Jets are exploring signing a third quarterback to have an emergency arm if they suffer another injury, Bowles said. 

 THIS AND THAT

THE COMMISSIONER’S CONTRACT

Seth Wickersham of ESPN.com says the NFL owners ignored a resolution proposed by Jerry Jones to put off the huge contract extension for Roger Goodell, instead moving to get his signature on the deal:

Roger Goodell signed an extension last week that could be worth up to $200 million, but Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones put forth a resolution to table the contract talks for six months prior to the agreement, according to a confidential memo obtained by ESPN.

Although there is nothing that can undo Goodell’s contract, the resolution will allow Jones to raise his concerns about the commissioner’s authority pertaining to league discipline and other issues at the NFL’s Special League Meeting on Wednesday in Irving, Texas.

Asked if that was the expectation, an NFL spokesperson said, “There is time on the agenda for all the owners to hear from the compensation committee.” Jones is not a member of the league’s compensation committee.

The Cowboys did not respond to a request for comment.

Goodell was asked Monday morning if he has spoken with Jones and if they are “okay.” Goodell’s response, via CNBC: “Yes. Oh sure.”

Jones’ proposal, on page 10 of the 32-page agenda for this week’s league meeting, was submitted on Dec. 1, titled Proposed Resolution 2017 G-7, by the Dallas Cowboys. In it, Jones argued for a six-month “moratorium on any and all actions taken pursuant” to Goodell’s new contract, “specifically, that the Commissioner’s extension is not finalized during such moratorium.”

Jones asked for a vote on the resolution to be taken under secret ballot, which is normally reserved for only the most critical league matters. Pro Football Talk reported in November that Jones planned to introduce a secret-ballot measure.

Jones spent the past few weeks trying to build support to delay or derail Goodell’s contract. But in the end, one of the most powerful men in American sports was able to amass only a group of approximately five owners to be on his side.

“The owners who supported [Jones] are not exactly influencers and arm-twisters,” one owner said. “They’re just happy that Jerry wanted to talk to them.”

Owners last Wednesday overwhelmingly supported Goodell’s extension, a heavily incentive-based deal worth approximately $40 million annually and running through 2023. Sources say that Arthur Blank, the owner of the Atlanta Falcons and chairman of the compensation committee, which was authorized in May to extend Goodell’s contract, had told owners in private conversations in the lead-up to the deal that Jones had assured him that if he didn’t have the votes, he would back down. Many owners believe that pledge was not made in good faith and see his failure to withdraw his resolution for Wednesday as proof.

Jones “went back on his word,” an owner said.

Jones has been a vocal advocate of delaying Goodell’s extension, complaining about the high price tag of the deal and his view that there has been a lack of transparency by Blank in negotiating it. This season, Jones has been angry over Goodell’s handling of the player protests during the national anthem and the domestic violence case of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. Outside the Lines reported last month that on Aug. 9, when Goodell told Jones that Elliott would be suspended for violating the player conduct policy, Jones replied by saying, “I’m going to come at you with everything I have.” Elliott is currently serving a six-game suspension.

In early November, Jones hired famed attorney David Boies as a threat to sue the league if the compensation committee approved Goodell’s extension, an extension that all owners, including Jones, authorized in May. No suit was ever brought. However, Jones successfully delayed Goodell’s extension; many owners expected that it would be approved months ago.

But now it is done, easing the tension that was expected at this week’s meeting in Irving. Many ownership and league sources say they now suspect that Jones and other owners will push for significant staffing changes among the league’s executive vice presidents and for changes to how Goodell handles player disciplinary matters.

But with the contract done, the only question, as an owner told ESPN, is when Jones speaks during the one-per-club meeting on Wednesday, “Will he be entertaining, or will he fall flat?”

 Peter King says that Roger Goodell will not be as incredibly paid as some reports have said:

You may still think Roger Goodell would be overpaid at $4 million per, and I get that, but I’m told it’s highly unlikely he’ll make $40 million a year in this deal. I hear the same thing about Goodell’s contract that Albert Breer does, and it’s basically that there’s no way the extension will net Goodell $200 million over five years. The deal, essentially, guarantees Goodell about $3.9 million per year in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 before expiring in March 2024, with an estimated 88 percent of the deal incentive-based. The fact is that if Goodell hits a few grand slams every year and reaches the max incentives in league success metrics such as attendance, TV ratings, income, etc., he’ll hit or approach $40 million. That’s unlikely to happen. At least not regularly. As Breer was told by one smart league person, Goodell’s likely to earn somewhere in the high 20s in a typical year, with a very good year in the low-to-mid-30s.

Goodell’s compensation, massive as it is, does not provide him with free private jet service for personal use.  Just at a better rate than if he were some Joe off the street.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has his new contract. However, he doesn’t have the free use of a private plane for life.

Contrary to the much-ballyhooed claim from ESPN that Goodell wanted free private jet service until he goes wheels up (or down) for the last time, Goodell wanted only the ability to use the NFL’s private jet service, with reimbursement to the league. And that’s apparently what he got.

Appearing Monday on CNBC, Goodell was asked about the “plane for life.”

“Anything I’ll have as far as access to an airplane I pay for,” Goodell said.

So there’s the answer. No free plane for life.

Which is good, since compensation of up to $200 million (to go along with the $200 million he’s already gotten) would allow him to buy his own fleet of them.