The Daily Briefing Monday, November 27, 2017

AROUND THE NFL

 

If The Season Ended Today – everyone won but the Saints, throwing the NFC South into a 3-way dogfight whose only reward could be a 3 seed and homefield advantage against another South rival.

 

If The Season Ended Today in the NFC:

 

                                             Overall     Division       Conference

Philadelphia Eagles    NCE    10-1              4-0                8-0

Minnesota Vikings      NCN      9-2              3-1                7-1

Los Angeles Rams     NCW     8-3              2-1                5-3

New Orleans Saints    NCS     8-3              2-0                 6-2

Carolina Panthers        WC     8-3              2-1                 4-3

Atlanta Falcons            WC     7-4              1-1                 6-1   

Seattle Seahawks                   7-4              4-0                5-3

Detroit Lions                            6-5             3-1                 5-4

Green Bay Packers                 5-6             2-2                 4-4

Dallas Cowboys                      5-6              2-1                4-4

Washington Redskins             5-6              1-3                4-5

Arizona Cardinals                   5-6              2-2                 3-5

 

The Saints still play the Falcons twice – and the teams below the playoff line are desperately hoping for a New Orleans sweep to being them back into contention.  The Week 14 meeting is a dreaded Thursday night game in the ATL.

 

In fact, here’s how the Falcons finish – Minnesota, New Orleans, at Tampa Bay, at New Orleans, Carolina.

 

They could go 1-4 and if they do, that would bring the Lions and the 5-6 teams back into the fray.

 

– – –

This:

 

@ChrisLaw

Chip Kelly has signed 20 yrs & $100,500,000 dollars worth of contracts…IN THE PAST 7 years!!

 

2010 Oregon Ducks 6 Years 20.5 Million

2013 Philadelphia Eagles 5 Year 32.5 Million

2016 San Francisco 49ers 4 years 24 Million

2017 UCLA Bruins 5 Years 23.5 Million#ChipKelly #UCLA

 

– – –

Peter King with a quote from ESPN’s Seth Wickersham on the strange sense that an extension for Roger Goodell is inevitable even as it is dawning on many owners that it shouldn’t be:

 

Wickersham “Everyone is always wondering, how many owners does Jerry have? I think that the idea of slowing it down and having a more detailed process is gaining traction. Even if owners don’t like the messenger, they are kind of coming around to his message, which is, Look, this is a fascinating moment in the NFL, and there are significant headwinds coming to light. Has Roger performed great at his job? Is he solving problems? Is he the right person to navigate the league through an uncertain time going forward? Has Roger hired the right people? I would contend that Jerry thinks no in a lot of cases, and the people [Goodell] has hired don’t solve problems and create more of them. Jerry has four or five owners with him hard, and I think there are 10 to 12 of them who are disengaged, the types that fall asleep at league meetings, just want this thing done and want it out of the headlines … There are owners who are embarrassed by the situation in L.A. and are really upset that a great market like Oakland won’t have an NFL team in the next couple of years. Those owners don’t know what to do, because they wouldn’t mind replacing Roger, but there is no successor, which is both a failure on Roger’s part and one of his greatest sources of leverage.”

 

Also of note on this subject: CBS’ Jason LaCanfora reported Sunday that the contract with Goodell could be finalized by midweek; a group of NFL owners has committee meetings in New York on Tuesday and Wednesday. I asked one ownership source about the report, and this source said, “I would be shocked if the contract gets done this week, without all the owners there.” We’ll see; LaCanfora could have it nailed. Regardless, without significant organized opposition—by that I mean more than Jerry Jones and four or five owners sympathetic with Jones—the contract is likely to get done at some point soon. Likely, but not certainly. I reported last week that it would likely be done by Christmas, and it may be done by the NFL meetings in Dallas in two weeks.

 

This comes with some sobering Thanksgiving news about NFL television ratings.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

So much for having a captive audience.

 

Though the quality of the games may not always be great, the NFL has enjoyed years of solid ratings on the fourth Thursday in November, because football and Thanksgiving have become inextricably intertwined. And because there’s not really anything else on TV. (Also, having a game on the television gives family members who rarely get together an excuse for avoiding any and all awkward topics that otherwise may come up if they actually, you know, interact in a meaningful way.)

 

Last year, two of the Thanksgiving games gave the NFL an apples-to-apples win over the 2015 Thanksgiving games, creating the impression that the ratings woes from the election season had subsided. This year, the numbers went the other way, further fueling concerns that something is wrong — and that the NFL currently is incapable of fixing it on the fly.

 

Peter King of TheMMQB.com reviews the numbers generated by the Thanksgiving games from 2017, in comparison to the 2016 and 2015 contests.

 

For the early game in Detroit, Vikings-Lions generated a rating of 11.4. That’s down 12.3 percent from last year’s Vikings-Lions game, but only 7.3 percent down from Eagles-Lions in 2015.

 

The Cowboys game in the late-afternoon slot drew a 12.4 this year, with the Chargers serving as the opponent. That’s 20.5-percent lower than last year’s Washington-Dallas game and a 19.0-percent drop from Panthers-Cowboys two years ago.

 

The nightcap on NBC, featuring the two-win Giants and an uninspiring Washington team, churned out a 9.7 rating, down 10.2 percent from last year’s sluggish Steelers-Colts game. In comparison to the Bears-Packers game from 2015, however, the drop was a dramatic 33.6 percent.

 

The NFL can continue to spin the numbers by pointing to reduced TV consumption or whatever else the league chooses to blame for the reality that people aren’t watching football like they did only two years ago. Or the NFL can finally accept the fact that significant adjustments are needed in order to attract more viewers — and to hold more viewers.

 

NFC NORTH

 

GREEN BAY

At least BRETT HUNDLEY and the Packers rewarded NBC for its decision to stick with Packers-Steelers on Sunday night with a good game, the result of which could have happened in an AARON RODGERS-BEN ROETHLISBERGER duel.  Jacob Feldman of TheMMQB.com:

 

The Packers were two-touchdown underdogs in the Sunday nighter, but the Aaron Rodgers understudy kept Green Bay in it with three touchdowns, no interceptions and one huge fourth-and-6 pickup on the game-tying drive. Hundley also took a late sack and was unable to get a first down that would have guaranteed overtime. With the loss, Green Bay fell to 5-6. A playoff spot is now almost certainly out of reach, even if Rodgers, who was seen throwing before the game, is able to come back this year.

 

The Packers’ fate is similar to that of the other preseason Vegas favorite to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 52: the Dallas Cowboys. Beset by injuries and the Ezekiel Elliott suspension, Dallas was non-competitive against the Chargers on Thanksgiving afternoon, falling to 5-6. The NFC playoff picture is now dominated by four fresh teams: the Eagles, Vikings, Rams, and Saints (with the last two years’ respective surprises, Carolina and Atlanta, in the thick of things as well).

 

NFC EAST

 

PHILADELPHIA

Peter King notes:

 

Strange season for the Eagles. Nine of their wins have come over teams with current losing records, a five-point win over Carolina the lone exception. But the Eagles’ precocious quarterback is reminiscent of a young Tom Brady. Nothing fazes Carson Wentz, the North Dakotan fond of saying, “It’s just football,” as the games get bigger and the stakes higher. What gives the Eagles the best chance, I think, is their formidable defensive front, surrendering just 3.5 yards per rush and holding quarterbacks to a league-low 73.9 passer rating. Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham, per Pro Football Focus, average 7.7 quarterback disruptions (sacks, hits and hurries) between them, and watching Philly play, that seems a conservative estimate. I wonder how New England would block them in a potential Super Bowl matchup.

 

The Eagles next play at Seattle and at the Rams – then finish the year with three teams that have losing records –at the Giants, Oakland and Dallas.

 

So it seems that at most, at most, they will play five games with winning records this year – and the number might be as low as two at season’s end.

 

More from King:

 

I think the Eagles have a very interesting road trip coming up: at Seattle on Sunday night, against the beat-up but still dangerous Seahawks; then working out on Eagle season-ticket-holder Mike Trout’s baseball field in Anaheim for the following week; then playing the dangerous Rams (in a preview of my prospective NFC title game) the following Sunday.

 

NFC SOUTH

 

ATLANTA

According to the NFL’s passer rating system, the Falcons have the greatest passer of all-time (minimum 5 career passes) and it’s not MATT RYAN.  Actually, it’s a three-way tie at the 158.3 perfect rating:

 

                                             Rating        C- A           Yds     TDs

1t         Mohamed Sanu          158.3      6- 6              228      3         

1t         Kerwin Bell                 158.3         5- 5             75        1                                 

1t         Frank Wycheck          158.3         5- 6           148       2

 

More on Sanu from Peter King                                                                                                          

This is going to be a great football quiz for Mohamed Sanu to tell his buddies one day, when he’s long gone from the NFL.

 

“Who,” Sanu will ask, “is the only man in NFL history to throw touchdown passes to A.J. Green, Andy Dalton and Julio Jones?”

 

“Trick question!” his buddies will shout in unison.

 

“Nope,” Sanu will say. “It happened. The answer is me.”

 

A couple of amazing things about the latest installment in the Sanu passing phenomenon. He did it Sunday, in the 34-20 victory over Tampa Bay, in a game the Falcons needed to win in order to have a solid chance to top the tightly contested NFC South for the second straight year. And he did it with one of the prettiest throws of the NFL season. In a tie game early in the second quarter, Sanu lined up to take a shotgun snap with the ball at the Atlanta 49-yard line. He bobbled the ball off a fake handoff, collected it, set up confidently at the Falcons 43, and spied Jones running stride for stride with rookie Bucs safety Justin Evans down the left seam. Sanu threw a high, arcing spiral—no wobble—that somehow was timed perfectly for Jones.

 

The throw was incredible, the kind a strong-armed passer like Elway or Favre or Vick would have made. And the accuracy … it could not have been placed better had it been affixed there by a Pixar artist. It traveled 57 yards exactly, landing in Jones’ arms at the goal line. Touchdown. The Falcons never trailed the rest of the day.

 

“It was called,” Sanu said, “and I was glad it was called. I just wanted to make a play for my team. I knew I could do it. It’s really not new to me. When I threw it, I knew he was going to come down with it. That’s Julio.”

 

But … a perfect 57-yard spiral, lofted to a perfect spot to the best receiver in football?

 

Sanu sounded like he was explaining how he goes for coffee every morning. To say he was unimpressed with that throw would be a pretty big understatement.

 

“I mean, we play catch here every day,” Sanu said from the Falcons locker room. “I do this every day.”

 

Sanu is a Jersey kid, recruited to Rutgers in 2009 by then-coach Greg Schiano as an athlete after being an option quarterback at South Brunswick High. He started at safety and switched to wideout in spring practice before his first season. In three college years, he was only eight of 18 as a quarterback. But when the Bengals drafted him as a receiver in 2012, they saw his history and immediately put in some option routes and pure pass plays. The 73-yard TD pass to Green came at Washington in the second game of his career. The 18-yard touchdown to Dalton came in his third season, against Tennessee. Strange thing: He went 50 straight games (including playoffs) before Sunday without attempting a throw—even though he’d never thrown an NFL incompletion.

 

Amazing to me that in Sanu’s last 22 games in Cincinnati, and in 19 games (including playoffs) for imaginative Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and then in the first nine games this year, Sanu never got his name called to throw a pass. Fifty games, no passes. With that arm? Surprising.

 

“We’ve had some plays for me in [the game plan],” Sanu said. “They just never got called. Since Coach Sark [offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian] got here, I’m pretty sure everybody around here told him I could do this.”

 

“Did you know you’ve got a perfect quarterback rating in NFL?” I told him. “Higher than Tom Brady.”

 

“That’s pretty cool,” Sanu said. “He’s the GOAT.”

 

“No surprise to me,” Sanu said. “I’ve been doing it all my life.”

 

Looks like it.

 

 

CAROLINA

TE GREG OLSEN returned to action Sunday in New Jersey, but didn’t finish the game amidst continued concerns about his foot.  ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter:

 

arolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen will have his surgically repaired right foot checked out by noted orthopedic foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Monday, sources told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter.

 

Panthers tight end Greg Olsen — who was just reactivated on Friday after missing eight straight games with a broken right foot — exited Sunday’s game against the Jets with another foot injury.

Anderson performed the surgery in September to repair Olsen’s broken foot, an injury that sent the Pro Bowl tight end to injured reserve.

 

Olsen returned to the field after missing eight games in Sunday’s 35-27 victory over the New York Jets but was unable to finish the game.

 

Initial X-rays on the foot were negative, sources told ESPN, confirming a report by ProFootballTalk.com.

 

Olsen had 1 catch for 10 yards on 4 targets against the Jets before the injury.

 

Coach Ron Rivera said Olsen wanted to return for the second half but that his foot was sore. Rivera also said he doesn’t believe it is a serious aggravation.

 

“Knowing how these things are coming off [an injury] are sometimes a little tricky, and when you’re dealing with your foot there’s only so much you can do,” Olsen said. “We just thought it would be best not to go crazy out there on that turf.”

 

In 2016, Olsen became the only tight end in NFL history to have three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

 

 

TAMPA BAY

The Buccaneers are bracing for the return of QB JAMEIS WINSTON at Lambeau Field on Sunday.  Josh Alper at ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The Buccaneers expect to have quarterback Jameis Winston back in the lineup this week.

 

Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter said that Winston had an MRI and did rehab work on his right shoulder Monday and that doctors will clear him to return to football activities on Wednesday as long as he doesn’t experience soreness related to his rehab activities. Koetter said Winston would get full reps if he is indeed cleared, which suggests that he’ll be starting in Green Bay next Sunday.

 

Winston has missed the last three games and parts of two others while dealing with the injury. A report on Sunday indicated that he’d seen improvement in recent days after having platelet rich plasma treatments done in hopes of speeding up his recovery time.

 

Winston has seen a rise in completion percentage, yards per attempt and quarterback rating from last season, but he’s had a couple of clunkers among his eight starts and the Buccaneers were 2-6 when he was lifted from the lineup to let his shoulder heal. He’s also been dealing with an NFL investigation into groping allegations that seem likely to stretch into the offseason, so there’s been more down that up overall for Winston so far this season.

 

It should also be noted that Bucs OC Todd Moncton, once the head coach of Southern Mississippi, is on the head coach shopping list of Mississippi State as the Bulldogs seek to replace Dan Mullen.

 

NFC WEST

 

ARIZONA

This from Mike Tanier of Bleacher Report:

 

Blaine Gabbert versus Blake Bortles in the Cardinals victory over the Jaguars not only had playoff implications, but it was also one of the best games of the week. What does that say about the fate of mankind, you ask? It says that former first-round picks can play watchable football when coached well and surrounded by decent talent. You don’t get edgy takes like that anywhere else, folks.

 

 

SAN FRANCISCO

When QB C.J. BEATHARD was hurt late in a discouraging loss to beaten-down Seattle, QB JIMMY GAROPPOLO mopped up.  But Coach Kyle Shanahan goes easy on the talk that this is the dawning of the Garoppolo Era.

 

Yes, Jimmy Garoppolo made his 49ers debut yesterday, and yes he got them to the end zone for the only time against the Seahawks.

 

But no, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ready to start.

 

Via Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said he wants to wait to see if Garoppolo is ready to give himself a chance to succeed before making the permanent switch. He went in for the final minute of yesterday’s loss to the Seahawks after C.J. Beathard was injured, and that will also factor into the decision.

 

“It’s a tough position to be in and you don’t want anyone to get hurt, but Jimmy will have another week,” Shanahan said. “We’ll watch this tape tomorrow, work with him Monday and Tuesday and see what happens at practice Wednesday.”

 

Beathard left with a left leg injury, but he also hit the back of his head as he fell. Shanahan said they thought it was a bruise to his leg, but he’s having an MRI today.

 

That left the final 1:07 to Garoppolo, his first action since they traded for the former Patriots backup on Oct. 31. In his three snaps, Garoppolo scrambled for a 4-yard gain, completed a 9-yard pass and then a 10-yard touchdown to Louis Murphy as time expired. It wasn’t enough to make an immediate declaration.

 

“Those plays have nothing to do with anything,” Shanahan said. “That’s just running around and he made a great play, but no, those have no bearing on it at all.”

 

If Beathard can’t play, it would offer Garoppolo an easier entrance this week against the Bears. But the way Beathard was hit throughout the day, they may not want to subject their future quarterback to that just yet.

 

 

LOS ANGELES RAMS

Danny Kelly of The Ringer on Bum Phillips coaching up the Rams defense:

 

If you jumped off the Rams bandwagon after their ugly 24-7 loss to the Vikings last week, now might be a good time to hop back onto it. L.A. snapped the Saints’ eight-game win streak Sunday with a 26-20 victory, a more-dominant-than-the-score-implies win that pushed the now-8-3 Rams back into the conversation as one of the NFC’s best teams.

 

Sophomore quarterback Jared Goff’s impressive 354-yard, two-touchdown performance against a good Saints defense should keep plenty of the focus and praise centered on the team’s resurgent offense—and that unit’s place in the limelight remains warranted. First-year head coach and wunderkind playcaller Sean McVay has transformed the worst offense in the league into one of the best and turned Goff from an apparent bust into a legit pro passer. But the Rams are not f–king going 7-9 again this year because of more than just their offense. L.A.’s quietly fielded one of the most balanced squads in the NFL, and under the direction of veteran defensive coordinator Wade Phillips—a hire that might be McVay’s most impressive coup altogether—the Rams’ talent-packed, playmaking defense has overcome a slow start to make a big jump forward of its own.

 

Phillips’s defense came into this week’s matchup with the streaking Saints ranked fifth in defensive DVOA, surrendering just 18.6 points per game (seventh) on the year. That group had made up for its middling run defense by being outstanding against the pass, allowing a 76.4 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks (fourth) while racking up 28 sacks (tied for 10th) and 12 interceptions (tied for fifth-most) against just 12 touchdown passes surrendered (tied for sixth-fewest). But until Sunday, it was easy enough to write off much of that success as the result of a fortuitous schedule: L.A. had posted dominant yet caveat-heavy performances against subpar quarterbacks like Scott Tolzien, Tom Savage, Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, and Blake Bortles before faltering last week against Case Keenum and the Vikings. The Rams needed an impressive performance against a top-tier passer to prove that those numbers were no fluke, and they got it Sunday, when they sacked Brees three times (a Saints’ season high) while holding the New Orleans offense to just three of 13 on third down.

 

Running back Alvin Kamara was just about the only bright spot for the Saints offense, as the rookie sensation forced nine missed tackles and racked up 188 combined rushing and receiving yards and two touchdowns on just 11 touches. He got so few looks because, after falling behind early, New Orleans leaned on its passing attack—and the Rams clamped down. Brees’s final stat line (22 of 32 for 246 yards, with one touchdown and a 101.8 passer rating) might look respectable on paper, but Los Angeles stymied the future Hall of Famer for most of the game. Heading into the fourth quarter, Brees had passed for just 96 yards, and prior to New Orleans’ final offensive series—a six-play, 75-yard touchdown drive late in the game that cut L.A.’s 26-13 lead to single digits and made the ending a little more interesting—he went a pedestrian 16-of-26 for 171 yards. The Rams’ relentless pass-rush unit consistently forced Brees off his spot and pressured him into ill-advised throws, while the team’s secondary blanketed receivers and broke up passes downfield. The box score could’ve been a whole lot uglier for the veteran signal-caller, too, had the Rams not dropped three catchable interceptions, including two in the fourth quarter alone.

 

Defensive tackle Aaron Donald has yet to receive the desired and well-deserved contract extension that precipitated his preseason holdout, but the three-time Pro Bowler remains the foundation upon which L.A.’s defense rests. Donald notched one sack, a pair of tackles for a loss, and a quarterback hit in the win; and while the fact he plays in the trenches hides it, he’s one of the best defensive players in the NFL. Donald is currently Pro Football Focus’s top-graded interior player, with 6.0 sacks and three forced fumbles on the year, and while that sack total doesn’t jump out, he’s racked up an incredible 62 total pressures so far, which outpaces all other defensive players—a feat virtually unheard of for an interior defensive lineman not named J.J. Watt. He’s simply unblockable.

 

But Donald can’t do it all alone, and the Rams have gotten plenty of production from his linemates, too. Phillips has utilized a heavy rotation of linemen up front: Robert Quinn (who grabbed one sack Sunday to push his season total to 3.5), Matt Longacre (4.0 sacks), Michael Brockers (3.0 sacks), and free agent pickup Connor Barwin (4.0 sacks) make opposing quarterbacks’ lives a living hell. Coming into this week, the Rams had gotten pressure on 33.1 percent of all opponent dropbacks, per Football Outsiders, eighth-best in the league and a rate that’s bound to go up after the win over the Saints.

 

L.A.’s gotten quality play at every level. Top cornerback Trumaine Johnson has yet to give up a touchdown and has notched two picks on 66 coverage targets, per Pro Football Focus, surrendering a passer rating of just 74.2 to opposing quarterbacks (22nd). Veteran linebacker Mark Barron is a difference-maker over the middle of the field, where he’s racked up 77 tackles, a sack, three interceptions, and four pass breakups, and Alec Ogletree’s knack for big plays recently earned him a four-year, $42 million extension with the team, a vote of confidence in his ability as the defensive signal-caller in Phillips’s new scheme.

 

You don’t hear all that much about the Rams’ overhaul this year from a 4-3 to Phillips’s nominal 3-4 because Phillips and his staff have done an outstanding job of integrating a cadre of new players into the scheme while finding new spots for existing players to thrive. The team’s gotten solid play out of its new-look safety tandem of Lamarcus Joyner (who previously played slot corner) and John Johnson (a rookie third-round pick). At corner, free-agent pickup Kayvon Webster (previously of the Broncos) has played well, with 33 tackles and six pass breakups on the year, and though he missed Sunday’s game, slot defender Nickell Robey-Coleman (formerly with the Bills, and a player I pegged as one of the top bargains in free agency over the summer) has been reliable, with two picks and zero touchdowns allowed on 35 targets in coverage, where he’s held opposing quarterbacks to a 57.7 passer rating (ninth-best). Phillips came to L.A. with a reputation for crafting his scheme around his players’ strengths, and because of his keen eye for talent and adaptability as a play-caller, the Rams (who fielded a solid defensive unit last season) have not only picked up his defense with little trouble, they’ve actually gotten better.

 

McVay’s offense (featuring Goff, Todd Gurley, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Sammy Watkins) is likely to continue to headline the Rams’ surprising metamorphosis into an NFC power, but L.A. wouldn’t be sitting atop the NFC West right now if it weren’t for the team’s underappreciated improvement on defense, too. Over the last seven games, the Rams have given up just 14.4 points on average—and L.A.’s going to need plenty more of that type of stingy defensive play down the stretch, a brutal late-season slate that features the Cardinals, Eagles, Seahawks, and Titans. In an era of flawed, unbalanced, and one-dimensional contenders, the Rams stand out: With an explosive offense that can score from anywhere on the field, a top-tier special teams group featuring one of the league’s best punters and a kicker that somehow lives up to the nickname “Legatron,” plus a stout, deep defensive unit, they’re one of a select few teams right now that have ways to beat you in all three phases.

 

Meanwhile, a secret on the growth of QB JARED GOFF has leaked.  Coach Sean McVay is literally in his head calling audibles.  Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

New Rams coach Sean McVay is having a great year, and he’s doing it in part by calling audibles after his offense has already lined up.

 

As noted by Steven Ruiz of For The Win, Rams quarterback Jared Goff calls a lot of plays at the line of scrimmage, but it’s actually McVay who’s calling the plays, through the NFL’s coach-to-quarterback communication system. That becomes clear when you watch this NFL-produced video about Goff, in which viewers can hear that Goff is being told which audibles to call before he calls them.

 

The coach-to-quarterback communication system is turned off by a league official with 15 seconds remaining on the play clock, so the Rams line up quickly so that Goff, McVay and the coaches in the booth can scan the defense and still have time for McVay to relay instructions to Goff before the communications system is turned off.

 

It’s a smart way for McVay to guide his young quarterback. And it’s something we’re likely to see a lot more of — unless the NFL decides to change the coach-to-quarterback communication rules to prevent it.

 

AFC WEST

 

DENVER

Have the Broncos rotated all the way back around to QB TREVOR SIEMIAN?  Mike Tanier of Bleacher Report:

 

Lynch’s first completion of the game and season was a dump-off to Jamaal Charles on 3rd-and-long that lost four yards. Things deteriorated from there.

 

Lynch completed just nine of 14 passes for 41 yards and an end-zone interception—not to mention he took four sacks—before leaving the game with an ankle injury. Trevor Siemian came on to throw for 149 yards and two touchdowns to nearly bring the Broncos back in the fourth quarter, lest you think for a moment that the Raiders defense suddenly stopped stinking.

 

What it means

 

Time is a flat circle, and the Broncos quarterback situation is a multiple choice quiz with only one right answer: d) None of the above. (Chad “Fortunate Nephew” Kelly is choice e.)

 

An arch-conservative game plan and bad offensive line play did Lynch no favors, but Lynch shouldn’t need an arch-conservative game plan in the same week that fellow 2016 first-rounders Carson Wentz and Jared Goff were winning huge games and sparking MVP chatter. Lynch got sacked on 3rd-and-long like that was the play the coaches drew up. He threw a one-yard pass on 3rd-and-2. He was a former top prospect running the playbook teams give Thad Lewis when he signs on Wednesday for an emergency start on Sunday.

Lynch’s ankle injury is another chicken-versus-egg problem: He can’t develop because he is always banged up, but he will keep getting banged up unless he develops enough to not be a pocket punching bag.

 

The Broncos are right back where they started in late August, with Siemian as the quarterback by default. All they’ve done over the last three months is expose all the cracks in their defense. They entered the season looking like they were a quarterback away from the Super Bowl. They are starting to look more like the Browns or Jets wearing some old jewelry. 

 

 

KANSAS CITY

The Chiefs have a coveted first round pick on their roster in PATRICK MAHOMES.

 

The Chiefs are in free fall.

 

But the QB will remain ALEX SMITH.  Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com on Andy Reid refusing to follow the path of Sean McDermott (whose rookie QB insertion NATHAN PETERMAN wasn’t all that coveted):

 

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after Sunday’s 16-10 loss to the Bills that he didn’t think about pulling quarterback Alex Smith from the game and wasn’t thinking about making a quarterback change heading into Week 13.

 

A night’s sleep and a chance to review the latest tape didn’t do anything to change his mind. Reid said at a Monday press conference that Smith “is my guy” and said that the problems with the offense can’t be solved by making a change at one position.

 

“Without getting philosophical, and I’m not sitting here with a crystal ball or projecting things like that, that’s not how I roll,” Reid said, via Pete Sweeney of Arrowhead Pride. “We’ve all got a responsibility to do our job at all positions, starting with me, and that’s not getting done the right way. Right? It’s not one guy, and that has to be understood. It’s not one person. We’ve all got to pull together as a football team, in this case, an offensive football team, right now, and get that taken care of as a team. Not one guy. And that’s about as clear as I can be.”

 

Reid said the Bills “brought five, played zone behind them and pressed on the outside” during Sunday’s game and that the team has to do a better job of beating that kind of defense. The best way to do that is going to come via the air, something the Chiefs were able to do in the early weeks of the season far more often than they have while losing five of their last six games.

 

Plenty of people doubt Smith will be able to do that, but Reid is either not one of them or unconvinced that rookie Patrick Mahomes will fare any better.

 

 

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Mike Tanier of Bleacher Report on the path ahead for the 5-6 Chargers:

 

Teams like the Jets and Cardinals are still mathematically alive, so listing all playoff possibilities would cause madness. But here’s one team to keep on your radar: the Chargers face the Browns, the banged-up Redskins in L.A. in Week 14 and the Jets in Week 16, with Raiders and Chiefs games rounding out their schedule. A 9-7 finish could win the division or lock up a wild-card spot.

 

The Chargers will probably cough up this opportunity with missed field goals and fourth-quarter fumbles. But that’s just AFC football for you.

 

We’re not sure where the loss is from that group of 5.  10-6 is very much a possibility.  LAC does have an unfortunate head-to-head loss to Jacksonville though.

 

AFC NORTH

 

PITTSBURGH

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin candidly admits his team is looking ahead to the Patriots on CBS in Week 15.  Kevin Patra of NFL.com:

 

Mike Tomlin didn’t shy away from looking down the road to a Week 15 tilt versus the New England Patriots that could be for home-field advantage in a possible AFC title rematch if all goes according to script.

 

In an interview with NBC’s Tony Dungy before Sunday night’s 31-28 primetime win over the Green Bay Packers, Tomlin said he has the team that can “win it all” and noted the Patriots game would be key.

 

“I’m going to embrace the elephant in the room. (The game is) going to be fireworks,” Tomlin said before Sunday’s win, via ESPN. “And it’s probably going to be Part 1. That’s going to be a big game.

 

“But probably, if we’re both doing what we’re supposed to, the second one is really going to be a big game. Then what happens in the first is going to set up the second one, which is going to determine the location of the second one.”

 

After the last-minute win over Brett Hundley’s Packers, Tomlin didn’t back down from the declaration.

 

“He asked for non-coach speak,” Tomlin said. “So I was having a conversation with an old friend. You know I’ve got respect for this process. We’ve got a good football team. I’ve got a great deal of confidence in them. Everybody in America knows that’s a big game, OK? We couldn’t deny that if we wanted to. You guys are going to ask us about it between now and then. So I stand by the statement.”

 

It’s refreshing to hear a coach dash the “one game at a time” mantra and display some honesty. Had Tomlin simply gone the coach-speak route every viewer would have scoffed anyhow.

 

Both at 9-2, the Steelers and Patriots are the class of a plodding AFC. With Week 15 setting up as a game that could decide who hosts the AFC title tilt, it’s not too early to start looking ahead.

 

AFC EAST

 

BUFFALO

Having done what was necessary to beat the Chiefs in Kansas City, QB TYROD TAYLOR has earned another start.  From the Buffalo News:

 

In the aftermath of the Bills’ 16-10 victory against the Kansas City Chiefs, the elephant in the room was the quarterback situation.

 

After getting enough from Tyrod Taylor for the Bills to get a victory, coach Sean McDermott was asked whether the win proved that he erred in having Nathan Peterman start last week against the Los Angeles Chargers. Peterman threw five interceptions and the Bills were blown out.

 

McDermott again said he felt the move was the right thing for his football team at the time, but he did commit to Taylor for next Sunday’s home game against the New England Patriots.

 

Asked specifically whether Taylor is the quarterback until the team would be eliminated from the playoffs, McDermott said, “Tyrod is our quarterback next week.”

 

McDermott also was quick to continue to turn the page. “What’s important now is what just happened this week and where we’re going next week and that’s what we’re focused on. …

 

“(The Patriots) are a good football team. They’re the reigning champs. … We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

 

Told of what McDermott said about next week, Taylor responded, “One week at a time.”

 

The win snapped a three-game losing streak that included a series of ugly losses.

 

“We just focused on our process,” McDermott said. “That is what we do. You have heard me say this before, this league is going to try to move you in a lot of different directions in one season alone and who can stay focused and stay together the longest, that is what happens through injuries, through adversity. We just try to stay focused on that process and hanging together and that is what we have to do moving forward.”

 

And this on WR KELVIN BENJAMIN from Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The team announced, via multiple reporters, that Benjamin suffered a torn meniscus when he was injured against the Chargers in Week 11. Benjamin did not play in Sunday’s victory over the Chiefs and didn’t practice last week, although the team still listed him as questionable for the contest.

 

Coach Sean McDermott was asked specifically about a torn meniscus during his Monday press conference and said that Benjamin did not suffer the injury. The Bills said McDermott thought the question was about torn ligaments, something that McDermott had ruled out a week ago.

 

McDermott also called Benjamin day-to-day, which may be overly optimistic given an injury that usually keeps players out of action for at least a few weeks.

 

 

MIAMI

WR KENNY STILLS sees a moral victory from Miami’s butt-kicking in Foxboro.  Ryan Wilson of CBSSports.com:

 

Kenny Stills had just three catches for 47 yards against the Patriots on Sunday, but the Dolphins wide receiver’s biggest contribution were apparently the Jedi mind tricks he used to knock Tom Brady off his game.

 

“I just was hollering at him all game,” Stills said afterward, via NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran. “We feel like if we can get in his head, that’s the best way to try and win this game. I was trying to do my part.”

 

Worth noting: Brady finished 18 of 28 for 227 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. As you might imagine, Stills would like to think he had something to do with that interception.

 

“I can’t say I was definitely in his head, but who knows?” the wide receiver said. “Any team, if you can rattle the quarterback you have an opportunity to win the game. We know if the defense can get to Tom and put hands on him, hit him a couple of times you have a higher percentage at winning the game. It’s the same with any quarterback. I was just talking a little trash and having a good time. I’m just playing football. Some people think it’s talking trash. To me it’s just ball.”

 

 

NEW ENGLAND

The media thinks QB BRIAN HOYER should be mopping up the upcoming Patriots victories.  Bill Belichick is incredulous.  Hayden Bird of the Boston Globe makes his or her debut:

 

Bill Belichick is not a fan of anyone second-guessing his quarterback decisions.

 

When asked about whether he considered removing Tom Brady from Sunday’s win over the Dolphins, Belichick dismissed the question’s premise.

 

“It’s easy for you to sit there and say the game’s out of hand,” Belichick responded. He expanded on his answer as to why Brady wasn’t subbed out earlier in the fourth quarter:

 

“It’s easy for you to sit there and say the game is out of hand,” Belichick said, per ESPN.com. “But if you watch games in the National Football League, a lot can change in a hurry. The only time I think the game is in hand [is] when they’re not going to have enough possessions to get the points they need. Sorry, we just see that one totally differently.”

 

The Dolphins got a number of hits on Brady throughout the game, but were unable to stop the Patriots’ offense. New England led by multiple scores for the entire fourth quarter, though Belichick judged the lead to not enough to spare Brady.

 

Belichick has made no secret of his contempt for questions about which quarterback should be playing for the Patriots over the years. Some of his previous notable soundbites have stemmed from Brady-related questions.

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

COACHING CANDIDATES

Peter King has a list:

 

1. I think Stanford’s David Shaw had better be in the top two, or one, for any NFL team looking for a head coach in 2018. But remember what he told me two years ago about having a better job than any NFL coach, and whoever wants him is going to have to convince his wife that it’s a better place than Palo Alto. Good luck. My sense is that Shaw will one day coach in the NFL, just not in the next couple of years. My early list of calls I’d make if I had a coach to hire, after I called Shaw:

 

New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels

• Kansas City special teams coordinator Dave Toub

• Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz

• Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin

• New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.

 

2. I think I also would fact-find about Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, University of Washington coach Chris Petersen (who likely wants to stay on the West Coast), Minnesota offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and Houston defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel. I’d phone Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz; I don’t think he’d leave, but I’d make him tell me that. Finally, I don’t know Jacksonville defensive coordinator Todd Wash or Kansas City offensive coordinator Matt Nagy (just 39) but hear good things about them.

– – –

Last point to make: Jon Gruden might be interested in going back to the Raiders. I hear he loves Derek Carr and would like to see once in his career what he could do with a franchise quarterback. But I think it’s not likely Jack Del Rio gets fired.

 

 

SCHIANO

We never thought Greg Schiano had any friends among the media, but it turns out quite a few members of the college and pro sports media were upset when the University of Tennessee’s fan base put a kibosh on the plans of the school’s athletic director to hire Schiano as head football coach.

 

Peter King led off his Monday Morning QB column thusly:

 

An eventful Sunday on the field, but first a few words about the unfortunate story that unfolded off it…

 

At 2 p.m. Sunday in Columbus, Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano signed a memorandum of understanding to become the head football coach at the University of Tennessee. The Ohio State team would practice for Saturday’s Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin in the afternoon, and Schiano, 51, would board a Tennessee plane bound for a 7 p.m. news conference in Knoxville to introduce Schiano as the next coach of the Vols. Then the plane would ferry Schiano back to Columbus to continue prep for the Wisconsin game.

 

Meanwhile, word leaked of the deal. And because of allegations that Schiano, who coached on the Penn State staff from 1990 to ’95, knew of Jerry Sandusky’s child molestation, scores of Volunteer loyalists began demonstrating. Someone painted “Schiano covered up child rape at Penn State” on a huge rock on campus. The President’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, wrote on Facebook, “Guess who’s the new head football coach at the University of Tennesse [sic]. Yup. The guy who covered for Jerry Sandusky. #GregSchiano.” This, even though Schiano was never found culpable in the case. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Ohio State hired him since his Penn State days after doing significant background checks, finding nothing untoward.

 

By 4 p.m. Sunday, Tennessee officials apparently got very cold feet. The athletic director who was in Columbus to make the deal with Schiano, John Currie, left town. The deal was off. Because we live in a guilty-until-proven-innocent social-media world these days, whatever Schiano says now—and he’ll certainly have to address this firestorm soon—probably won’t matter much. In a 2015 deposition related to the Sandusky case, former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary said another coach, Tom Bradley, had told him Schiano saw Sandusky “doing something with a boy.” Schiano denied seeing anything. Bradley denied having any knowledge of those incidents. Schiano was never charged with anything, nor was he deposed in the Sandusky case. In short, this story died legally, in a climate in which the university president and athletic director ended up in prison.

 

Whether Schiano saw something or didn’t, whether he shielded Sandusky or didn’t, only Schiano knows. He denies it. The legal system in Pennsylvania found no reason to charge him with a crime. No matter. On Sunday, he was convicted in the court of public opinion, and the University of Tennessee dropped a man charged with nothing.

 

Innuendo won. The witch-hunters won. It’s a sad time in America.

 

Joel Klatt, Kirk Herbstreit, Mark Dominik, Stephen A. Smith, Doug Gottlieb, Bob Ley, Booger McFarland and many other establishment figures expressed support for Schiano and/or disgust with the Tennessee fans who fought the hire.

 

But this from someone named Charlie Burris:

 

@Charlie_Burris

You can disagree with Tennessee fans here and that’s fine but I’m honestly surprised how many major national media guys are willing to die on a hill for Schiano.

 

Google “Schiano” and “die on a hill” and see how many others have noted the strange new respect for the once-reviled Schiano among the elite media.

 

Dan Wetzel of YahooSports.com, something of an authority on all things Sandusky seems appalled by the Schiano linkage:

 

The real question is, did Schiano really cover up child rape at Penn State?

 

The answer: Only Schiano and maybe Sandusky know for sure, but that allegation has most certainly not been proven, no matter what the clickbait headlines of the Internet claim. To make such a definitive statement is flat-out false at this point and a terrifying, lynch-mob reach against a possibly innocent person’s reputation.

 

On Aug. 25, 2015, former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary was deposed as part of a civil suit between the university and its insurance company over liability for payouts to victims of Sandusky.

 

McQueary is famous in the case for being a then-graduate assistant who said he walked in on Sandusky and a boy in the shower in an otherwise empty coach’s locker room one Friday night in 2001. He walked out, but reported what he saw to head coach Joe Paterno the next morning. Nothing happened to Sandusky for years. McQueary was later fired but was the attorney general’s star witness in criminal trials against Sandusky, as well as Penn State’s president, vice president and athletic director. McQueary also won a multimillion-dollar whistleblower lawsuit against the school.

 

During the deposition, McQueary said he once discussed Sandusky with another Penn State assistant, Tom Bradley, who most recently was an assistant coach at UCLA. He said Bradley was not surprised by what McQueary told him because Bradley had heard similar.

 

From the deposition:

 

Q: “Did [Bradley] tell you that he had had information concerning Gerald Sandusky and children?”

 

A: “He said he knew of some things. … He said another assistant coach had come to him in the early ’90s about a very similar situation to mine, and he said that he had — someone had come to him as far back as early as the ’80s about seeing Jerry Sandusky doing something with a boy.”

 

Q: “Did he identify who the other coaches were that had given him this information?”

 

A: “The one in the early ’90s, yes.”

 

Q: “And who was that?”

 

A: “Greg Schiano …”

 

Q: “And did he give you any details about what Coach Schiano had reported to him?”

 

A: “No, only that he had – I can’t remember if it was one night or one morning, but that Greg had come into his office white as a ghost and said he just saw Jerry doing something to a boy in the shower. And that’s it. That’s all he ever told me.”

 

That is the extent of allegations involving Schiano, which first surfaced in 2016 during the unsealing of documents in the civil case.

 

Schiano immediately denied the accusation to ESPN: “I never saw any abuse, nor had reason to suspect any abuse, during my time at Penn State.”

 

Meanwhile, Bradley’s attorneys issued the following statement at the time:

 

“At no time did Tom Bradley ever witness any inappropriate behavior. Nor did he have any knowledge of alleged incidents in the 80’s and 90’s. He has consistently testified as such. Any assertions to the contrary are false. When he became aware of the 2001 incident it had already been reported to the University administration years earlier.”

 

A few things worth noting. One is that McQueary is merely repeating a story he says he heard from Bradley about what Bradley said Schiano said to him. This is multilayer hearsay and not immediately admissible in any court of law. McQueary never asked Schiano about it and the two never worked at Penn State at the same time.

 

Is it possible that Schiano did see something and did tell Bradley, who then accurately relayed it to McQueary? Yes. Of course. It’s possible.

 

However, unless you want to throw out any semblance of fairness or due process in these kinds of cases, then there is just no way to conclude that such a thing absolutely occurred. Bradley testified under oath that he had no knowledge of Sandusky’s actions, meaning it’s his sworn testimony against McQueary’s.

 

This is a non-specific allegation based on a second-hand account recalled at least a decade after the fact. It’s also possible McQueary never mentioned it to anyone else despite years of being a cooperating witness for prosecutors desperately seeking just this kind of information.

 

Yet it’s taken fire.

 

No charges were ever brought against Schiano. No victim sued him for not reporting it at the time, despite dozens of Sandusky victims having active legal representation and Schiano being a very rich and famous football coach. No victim ever came forward alleging Schiano witnessed he and Sandusky in a shower.

 

McQueary spent years meeting with and working with the attorney general and other prosecutors on the cases against not just Sandusky but other Penn State administrators. Prosecutors loved McQueary. “Mike McQueary was one of the best, if not the best, … non-law enforcement witnesses I ever had,” Jonelle Harter Eshbach, of the attorney general’s office, once testified.

 

McQueary testified at numerous preliminary hearings, multiple trials and at least one grand jury hearing. He sat for lengthy interviews with law enforcement. He also had his own multiyear whistleblower case against Penn State, which included another trial.

 

The Schiano story never came up in any of the hundreds and hundreds of pages of interviews that have been made public or during any public testimony in any of those cases.

 

The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office was extremely aggressive in pursuing leads and going after anyone it believed covered up for Sandusky. It spent years building and then prosecuting a case that was based on the allegation that people in power at Penn State participated in a “conspiracy of silence.”

 

It’s very difficult to imagine how that same attorney general’s office, if it heard about this and believed it was even remotely provable or accurate, would not go after Schiano and especially Bradley, who worked at Penn State from 1979-2012 and was arguably Paterno’s most trusted lieutenant. Yet even after this emerged in 2016, the AG’s office did not pursue it as far as anyone knows. Likewise, Penn State conducted its own lengthy and exhaustive investigation, run by former FBI director Louis Freeh, and the Schiano story never emerged.

 

Did it happen? Maybe. Maybe Greg Schiano is every bit as terrible as you can imagine. Anything is possible.

 

No Tennessee fan knows for sure, though. It’s just one loose accusation, based on what a guy said a guy said that no one with the authority or interest in pursuing criminally or civilly proved, or even pursued because no one really believed it.

 

That isn’t a lot of reason to go paint rocks – and use them to crush a man’s career and reputation.

 

Clay Travis of OutkickTheCoverage.com led the attack on the Schiano hiring – and to be sure the Penn State allegations is just one of his reasons for thinking the hire was a bad thing:

 

Look, I know Tennessee is a dumpster fire of a program run by mosquito dick administrators who consistently make the dumbest possible decision when given any choice at all, but even I am stunned at the incompetence of new athletic director John Currie and his decision to hire Greg Schiano.

 

Okay, so you miss on Chip Kelly because he’d rather go to Los Angeles, fine. And Jon Gruden does his I have low self esteem so I’m going to flirt with you because my present employer, ESPN is a basket full of dicks rapidly rolling towards bankruptcy.

 

And you miss on Dan Mullen because he’d rather go to Florida, fine. I don’t blame him, Florida is a better job than Tennessee.

 

Okay, so what, it happens, most schools don’t have a flawless search and get their top candidate.

 

What you do in these situations is you don’t panic, you survey the field and make a reasoned decision.

 

You have a great job to offer someone. There is a great hire out there. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed into a stupid hire. That’s how you end up with Butch Jones.

 

Which brings us to this — in what universe does it make sense to hire Greg Fucking Schiano right now? We’re talking about a guy with a losing record in college football at Rutgers who got fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and just vanished from coaching until Urban Meyer decided to hire him as defensive coordinator.  The most memorable thing he’s done with the Buckeyes so far is hit a bicyclist on campus.

 

Oh, and Greg Schiano was named in court testimony last year as a former coach at Penn State who knew about the Jerry Sandusky child molestation investigation. We’re talking about in court testimony, this isn’t just some cockamamie rumor. It’s something that was said in court under oath. Sure, Schiano denies it, but when’s the last time someone raised their hand and said, “You know what, upon recollection I did know about an assistant coach raping a kid and kept quiet about it. Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?

 

What is the f—— rush here? Who else is going to hire Greg Schiano? You don’t take home a five from the bar at seven at night.

 

Literally no one else with a top forty job is hiring Greg Schiano this offseason.

 

No one.

 

If John Currie’s exhaustive search process turned up Greg F—— Schiano as the best option, well, guess what, go back to the drawing board and reassess.

 

This is a massive hire that needs to reunite the entire Tennessee program. Right now there are a ton of coaches who could do that. Among them: Mike Leach, Lane Kiffin, Kevin Sumlin, Bobby Petrino, hell even Mike Norvell. At least all of them offer some offensive excitement and have proven they can win at a high level in the South.

 

All five of these guys would come to Tennessee right now too.

 

All five of them wouldn’t have members of the state legislature Tweeting out their disdain for the hire. All five of them wouldn’t have protesters arriving at Tennessee’s main football complex. All five of these guys wouldn’t have necessitated me Tweeting out John Currie’s cell phone number so you guys could register your disapproval.

 

All five of them wouldn’t have current members of the Tennessee athletic department Tweeting me, “What the f—?” followed by a series of sad face emoticons.

 

Chris Korman of USA Today comes from somewhere near what the DB is thinking:

 

Even if you can get past McQueary’s testimony, Schiano would have been an awful hire for a program left ravaged by a headstrong coach who seemed to think he had all the answers in Butch Jones. Because Schiano is that kind of coach, and his resume isn’t actually all that impressive.

 

It’s true: Schiano won at Rutgers, and it is very difficult to win at Rutgers. But he had one transcendent season, going 11-2 in 2006. After a 4-year runway during which his teams were truly awful (winning a total of 12 games), he went 56-33 but never won the Big East. His team was 4-8 two seasons before he left for Tampa Bay.

 

And yes, there’s some value to hiring a former NFL coach who can tell recruits: “I’ve been where you want to go, and I can get you there.”

 

Except in the case of Schiano, his failure in the NFL with the Buccaneers was directly related to how poorly he treated his players. Top recruits would have been smart enough to figure that out.

 

And Schiano would have needed those players. The job at Tennessee is not to take a downtrodden program and make it competitive in a pedestrian league. He would have been asked to elevate one of the most popular and historically successful teams in the country, which happens to play in the most competitive conference.

 

Coaching football is coaching football, sure, but it seems entirely possible that motivating some underdogs — while also raising the level of talent over time through better recruiting — is a completely different exercise than rebuilding a blue-blood program that must win recruiting and in-game battles against the best programs in the country.

 

The only evidence we have in recent years that Schiano could do that is his work as defensive coordinator for Ohio State. But it’s worth noting that pretty much everybody succeeds when they work under Urban Meyer, and that Schiano’s issues come into play when he’s given the power to control the culture of an organization.

 

He had the ability with the Tampa, and it was a mess. Michael Silver wrote the definitive piece on how it all fell apart, but the short version is: Schiano tried to act like an autocrat and his players revolted. He lasted only two seasons and went 11-21. Along the way, he infuriated many with his brash — and pointless — tactics, including Tennessee alum Peyton Manning.  Even before that, according to Silver, Schiano had frustrated NFL scouts by making their trips to Rutgers difficult — which is insane, because the coach at Rutgers should always be overly welcoming to people who might help his players move forward.

 

Schiano would have had a healthy budget and all the support he could need to succeed at Tennessee. A quick turnaround wouldn’t have been a surprise; Jones brought in plenty of talent, and Schiano would have had their full attention to start. But what we already know about him makes it seem unlikely that he’d ever be the sort of coach you’re truly proud of; if he treated millionaire pros so poorly, how is he going to be with college kids over whom he has total control? And how is he ever going to recruit elite players if his program is run anything like the Buccaneers? Maybe you can get away with that at a school that will do anything for even fleeting success or with players who probably didn’t have many better options but at Tennessee it would have been a hard sell.

 

Schiano has claimed that he’s a changed man when it comes to how he treats people. He would have had to prove it in one of the sport’s most high-pressure jobs — and also that he’s not just another Randy Edsall, capable only of making a bad team decent in second-tier conference.

 

Tennessee fans may be pointing at the Sandusky involvement as the main reason for concern, but there was more to it. They had some unrealistic hopes — Jon Gruden — and, as is the case with every fan for a team other than Alabama, an inflated opinion of their program. But they’re also savvy fans who’ve watched decision makers at the school fail time after time — on the field and off (when dealing with sexual assault) — so they understand how much is on the line and why Schiano was never the right choice.

 

How good has Schiano’s actual coaching been at Ohio State?  Here are the Big Ten points allowed leaders:

 

1          Wisconsin                       12.0

2          Penn State                      15.5

3          Michigan                         18.3

4          Purdue                            19.3

5t         Northwestern                  19.8

5t         Ohio State                       19.8

7          Iowa                                19.9

 

Is it unreasonable of the DB to think that Urban Meyer would have provided Schiano with better defensive athletes than Purdue, Northwestern and Iowa have at their disposal?