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Tag:Mike Nolan
Posted on: January 25, 2012 6:26 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 6:34 pm
 

Baltimore defense is a head-coaching pipeline

Almost everyone on Billick's sideline got a head-coaching job at one point. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Have you always dreamed of becoming a head coach in the NFL? Well, then you should find work with the Ravens defense, because doing so will all but guarantee you land a head-coaching job in the NFL.

Alright, it's a bit more difficult than that, but on Wednesday, Chuck Pagano became just the latest in a long line of former Ravens assistants to land gigs running NFL teams elsewhere.

The very first year the Ravens existed, 1996, the defense featured Marvin Lewis as defensive coordinator. Lewis, of course, is on his way to becoming one of the longer-tenured head coaches in the NFL and just took the Bengals to the playoffs. Lewis would leave Baltimore in 2001, coach the Redskins defense for a year and then take over the Bengals.

Working under Lewis up until 2001? Defensive assistant Jim Schwartz, who left to take the same position with the Titans, before being promoted to defensive coordinator and then taking over as head coach of the Detroit Lions in 2009.

(Notably, Eric Mangini -- 1996 as an offensive assistant -- and Ken Whisenhunt -- 1997-98 as a tight ends coach -- went on to land coaching gigs after working with the Ravens.)

In 1999, Brian Billick took over as head coach, and things really took off. He retained Lewis as defensive coordinator, but the team also hired Jack Del Rio (linebackers), Mike Smith and Rex Ryan as defensive assistants.

The Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000. But it didn't pay off for the assistants until a year later, when Del Rio took the Jaguars job, where he stayed until being fired in 2011. Smith followed him there as defensive coordinator and would leave for the Falcons head coaching job in 2008, where he remains today.

In 2002, Mike Nolan, who'd been hired as the wide receivers coach previously, took over for the departed Lewis. Nolan, of course, went on to become the 49ers head coach in 2005. The man who replaced him? Mike Singletary, who took over as linebackers coach for the Ravens the same year Nolan became defensive coordinator.

Ryan replaced Nolan and eventually took the gig with the Jets. Greg Mattison took over for Ryan and after leaving for the University of Michigan (he took the same position under Brady Hoke), he was replaced by, you guessed it, Pagano.

Besides the Ravens, there's two other common threads with these guys: Ray Lewis, who's captained the defense since being drafted in the first round in 1996, and Ozzie Newsome, who took over as general manager that same year.

Read into it however you want; Newsome clearly has an eye for players and personnel, and Lewis clearly makes any defense better, regardless of how old he is.

But whoever takes over for the defense next should be thankful for the would-be springboard they're getting set up on.

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Posted on: January 17, 2012 7:42 pm
 

Falcons hire Mike Nolan to head up defense

Mike Nolan has been hired as Atlanta's defensive coordinator (US Presswire).By Josh Katzowitz

Now that the Falcons have hired former 49ers head coach Mike Nolan as their defensive coordinator, as written by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, it seems that former Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo could be headed to New Orleans to replace Gregg Williams as the Saints defensive coordinator.

That’s the word from Rapid Reporter Larry Holder, who writes that Spagnuolo “has reportedly been high on the Saints wish list for the job with (Williams) leaving for St. Louis.”

Both moves make sense: Spagnuolo because* the 2008 Giants squad, the last time he was a defensive coordinator, was a top-five defense and stopped the Patriots high-powered offense in the Super Bowl, and Nolan because he’s put together strong defenses in Denver and Miami after he was fired in San Francisco.

*But as CBSSports.com’s Ryan Wilson and Will Brinson point out, Spagnuolo also could be a candidate to replace Jim Caldwell as the Colts next head coach. Which he obviously would accept over a New Orleans offer.

Nolan will replace former defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder, who unexpectedly bolted for the Auburn defensive coordinator job, and he’ll join newly-hired offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter on Atlanta’s staff.

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“Mike Nolan is an established coordinator in this league,” said Falcons head coach Mike Smith in a statement. “He brings more than 25 years of NFL experience to our team and has been a coordinator at this level for 14 years. Mike has a history of developing physically intimidating defensive units, and we are fortunate to have him join our staff.”

Although Nolan has been known as a 3-4 defense schemer and though the Falcons personnel is suited toward a 4-3, the AJC writes that coach Mike Smith has so much respect for Nolan that the team will become something of a hybrid of the two schemes.

“Moving forward, this defense needs to continue its growth and evolution as a passionate and fiery defense, one that is going to fly to the football, disrupt, be opportunistic and capitalized on opportunities to turn the game around; flip the game in critical situations,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said before the Nolan hiring. “We’ll look for a coordinator who will [aid] Coach Smith and his approach to putting that type of aggressive defense on the field.”

The Falcons feel they’ve got the man in Nolan who will help do so.

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Posted on: January 17, 2012 6:00 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 1:13 pm
 

Latest coaching rumors, news (Week 3)

Black Monday, part III

By Josh Katzowitz

Coaching news and rumors don't slow down just because there's football. If you missed all of last week's action, hit it here to catch up on Black Monday, week one and Black Monday, week two and then scroll down. Make sure to bookmark this page as we'll be updating it throughout the week with the latest news and rumors.

FRIDAY
12:30 p.m. ET
  • Looks like the speculation concering Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was true. He told Mike Tomlin he will retire.
THURSDAY
11:50 p.m. ET
  • Ah, the old switcharoo. Now that Steve Spagnuolo has taken the Saints offensive coordinator job, the circle is complete. He replaces former New Orleans offensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who left to take the Rams offensive coordinator job to work for Jeff Fisher, who replaced Spagnuolo as head coach. What does it all mean? Nothing, except the NFL is a crazy business.
10:55 a.m. ET
  • Although it appears that former Chiefs coach Todd Haley wants to coach in Arizona and that the Cardinals want Haley to coach for them, the Arizona Republic reports the two sides are having a difficult time making that happen. There's an open spot for a quarterback coach, but it sounds like Haley wants more responsibility than that.

WEDNESDAY
9:40 p.m. ET
  • After firing Jim Caldwell, the Colts have begun to prowl for their next head coach. First on the agenda: Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray and Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael.
  • There is now a question whether Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians will return to Pittsburgh next season. His contract is up, and it sounds like he might decide to retire from the game.
7:30 p.m. ET
  • Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, one of about 300 candidates for the Raiders head coaching position, has decided to decline his chance to interview with Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie, according to the Denver Post. McKenzie seemingly will still interview Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen.
  • As the Tennessean reports, Mike Reinfeldt has been promoted to senior executive vice president/chief operating officer and moved Ruston Webster to general manager.
TUESDAY
10:40 p.m. ET
  • Though it's been thought that Packers assistant head coach Winston Moss has a good shot to land the Raiders job, Oakland will interview at least four more candidates. That includes Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice, Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Bears defensive coordinator Dennis Allen.
  • As Rapid Reporter Dan McLellan writes, Chargers offensive line coach Hal Hunter has been named San Diego's new offensive coordinator. “Hal has been an important part of our offense since I’ve been here,” coach Norv Turner said. “He has a complete understanding of what we want to do in the run and the pass.”
7:45 p.m. ET
  • One defensive coordinator domino has been knocked down as the Falcons have hired Mike Nolan to replace the departed Brian Van Gorder. Which could open up Steve Spagnuolo heading to New Orleans to replace Gregg Williams as Saints defensive coordinator.
  • According to the Florida Times-Union, former University of Florida and University of Illinois head coach Ron Zook will interview Wednesday for the Jaguars special teams coach.

5:30 p.m. ET

  • The Dolphins are down to three head coaching candidates -- Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, Miami interim coach Todd Bowles and Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. You can now eliminate Mike Zimmer and Dave Toub from consideration.

MONDAY

5:15 p.m. ET

3:50 p.m. ET

  • Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has made the lateral move to become the defensive coordinator for Jeff Fisher in St. Louis. Yep, it'll be a good old fashioned Titans reunion party in St. Louis

11:30 a.m. ET

  • Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy did such a good job with a Tim Tebow-led offense that he'll be interviewed by the Dolphins for their head coaching job.

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Posted on: January 15, 2012 11:07 am
Edited on: January 15, 2012 11:48 am
 

Nolan drafts deserve more credit than McDaniels'

McDaniels is now getting credit for taking Tebow and Thomas but Niners drafted better under Nolan. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

During the last month or so of the regular season, before John Elway and John Fox had committed to Tim Tebow for 2012 but long after Tebow believers were convinced that he was the second (football) coming, another young rising star was the unexpected beneficiary of Tebow's NFL success.

Josh McDaniels, the Broncos head coach for 2009 and part of 2010, was run out of town after winning six straight to begin his career only to lose 12 of his next 17. He left Denver amid another videotaping scandal (McDaniels was on the Patriots staff during the whole Spygate saga) and with a shoddy record as a personnel evaluator.

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McDaniels had been responsible for trading Jay Cutler to the Bears in April 2009, and a year later, he traded three picks to move up and draft Tebow in the first round. Both moves were heavily criticized.

But as the Broncos and Tebow surged this season, so too did McDaniels' reputation. While his coaching abilities have never been questioned, maybe he knew how to put together a roster, too.  In addition to Tebow, the Broncos also drafted Demaryius Thomas (1st round, 2010), Zane Beadles (2nd round ,'10) and Eric Decker (3rd round, '10) on McDaniels' watch.

But after what the 49ers did to the Saints Saturday, CBSSports.com assistant managing editor Eric Kay tweeted this: "If McDaniels is getting credit for drafting Tebow, best we all tip our hats to Mike Nolan and his 2005 draft savvy."

It's a solid point, particularly since Nolan's tenure in San Francisco is better remembered for Reebok suits than anything the 49ers accomplished on the field. (The 49ers were 18-37 under Nolan from 2005-08, his best year coming in '06 when the San Francisco went 7-9.)

We live in a world where the latest is often confused for the best; maybe time has helped repair McDaniels' reputation in Denver but we could be focusing on the wrong former head coach. Yes, Tebow and Thomas are good young players, but some of the names San Francisco drafted under Nolan now serve as the foundation for not only the NFC West champs but legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

(Note: below we've included players taken in the top four rounds as well as notable late-round selections)

Josh McDaniels, Broncos head coach 2009-2010 (GM: Brian Xanders, 2009-present)

2009
RB Knowshown Moreno (Round 1, pick 12)
DE Robert Ayers (1.18)
DB Alphonso Smith (2.37)
DB Darcel McBath (2.48)
TE Richard Quinn (2.64)
DB David Bruton (4.114)
G Seth Olsen (4.132)

2010
RB Demaryius Thomas (Round 1, pick 22)
QB Tim Tebow (1.25)
G Zane Beadles (2.45)
C J.D. Walton (3.80)
WR Eric Decker (3.87)
DB Perrish Cox (5.137)

Thomas, Tebow and Ayers have played well, but critics thought Moreno was drafted too high and those sentiments haven't changed after two seasons. He struggled with effectiveness and injuries before the Broncos eventually gave most of the carries to 30-year-old Willis McGahee. The Broncos traded a 2010 first-round pick to select Alphonso Smith who was such an unmitigated bust that he was shipped to the Lions for the other Gronkowski, Rob's brother Dan.

Mike Nolan, 49ers head coach 2005-2008 (GM: Scot McCloughan, 2005-2010)

2005
QB Alex Smith (1.1)
G David Baas (2.33)
RB Frank Gore (3.65)
T Adam Snyder (3.94)

2006
TE Vernon Davis (1.6)
LB Manny Lawson (1.22)
WR Brandon Williams (3.84)
RB Michael Robinson (4.100)
LB Parys Haralson (5.140)
TE/FB Delanie Walker (6.175)

2007
LB Patrick Willis (1.11)
T Joe Staley (1.28)
WR Jason Hill (3.76)
DE Ray McDonald (3.97)
DE Jay Moore (4.104)
S Dashon Goldson (4.126)
CB Tarell Brown (5.147)

2008
DT Kentwan Balmer (1.29)
DB Reggie Smith (3.75)
C Cody Wallace (4.107)
WR Josh Morgan (6.174)

Nolan, McCloughan, and the personnel department hit on a ton of talent -- from first-rounders to late-round picks. Of the players drafted from 2005-08, 14 are still on the roster and 10 started against the Saints Saturday. Amazingly, Nolan never managed to do anything on the field with a roster he helped build (and neither could Mike Singletary) but Jim Harbaugh certainly has. And now the 49ers are one game away from returning to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1994 season.

As luck would have it, McDaniels, back where it all started in New England, is on his way to a conference championship game, too. The Broncos, meanwhile, are headed home with plenty of questions.


Harbaugh on wild win: Alex Smith completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis with nine seconds left after Drew Brees had put the high-powered Saints ahead, and the 49ers capitalized on five New Orleans turnovers for a thrilling 36-32 playoff victory Saturday.

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Posted on: January 13, 2012 11:19 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2012 11:20 pm
 

Report: Falcons interested in Spagnuolo, Nolan

Atlanta head coach Mike Smith is looking for more consistency from his team. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

The Falcons lost their offensive and defensive coordinators are consecutive days last week. Mike Mularkey was announced as the Jaguars' new head coach on Tuesday and the day before, Brian VanGorder bolted Atlanta to take the same job with the Auburn Tigers.

Given how the Falcons' season ended -- managing just two points and watching their third-ranked run defense get treaded by Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw in a punchless wild-card loss to the Giants -- it's probably best that Mularkey and VanGorder got other gigs because there's a chance they may have been relieved of their duties.

Latest Coaching Rumors, News
Whatever the speculation, the reality is this: the Falcons are looking to fill two very important positions for a team that owner Arthur Blank admits has some work to do to be considered elite.

“We’re on the door, we’re knocking, but we’re on the other side of the door,” he said Thursday according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Knox Bardeen.

As for potential candidates, we've already mentioned the organization is reportedly looking at Brian Schottenheimer and Brian Billick to replace Mularkey. The former doesn't exactly evoke images of a high-powered aerial assault.  And neither does the latter, frankly, although Billick had great success as a coordinator in the late '90s with the Vikings when he wasn't responsible for drafting and developing the quarterback. That's the case in Atlanta too, so maybe that's a good sign … except, as CBSSports.com's Josh Katzowitz points out, Billick may be too rich for the Falcons' taste.

On the other side of the ball, more encouraging news: the team is reportedly interested in Steve Spagnuolo, the recently fired Rams coach, and Mike Nolan, the former 49ers head coach who also served as a defensive coordinator with the Ravens, Broncos and most recently the Dolphins.

“Moving forward, this defense needs to continue its growth and evolution as a passionate and fiery defense, one that is going to fly to the football, disrupt, be opportunistic and capitalized on opportunities to turn the game around; flip the game in critical situations,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter. “We’ll look for a coordinator who will [aid] Coach Smith and his approach to putting that type of aggressive defense on the field.”

Spagnuolo may have been mostly unimpressive during his three years in St. Louis, but he was the architect behind the Giants' defensive game plan to stop the Patriots' explosive offense in Super Bowl XLII. Ledbetter adds that "Nolan is considered a 3-4 coach. But [Falcons head coach Mike] Smith’s respect him from their days together in Baltimore runs deep. They could likely mold the principles of Nolan’s 3-4 with Smith’s 4-3 if necessary."

Another guy Smith's close to? Jack Del Rio; the two worked together in Baltimore and Jacksonville, but apparently there are no plans for a reunion in Atlanta.

Here's to hoping that whoever the Falcons hire they instill in the players a sense of consistency. Because to hear Smith tell it, that was lacking this season.

“There was inconsistency in our focus, there was inconsistency in our will to play and inconsistency in our enthusiasm," he said.

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Posted on: November 5, 2011 4:50 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2011 4:51 pm
 

Miami issues statement refuting analyst's opinion

Dolphins should probably turn off the radio and concentrate on trying to win a game. (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The 0-7 Miami Dolphins should have more important things on the to-do list than issuing statements refuting comments made by a former NFL player on a local radio station. And yet on Friday, the team did just that.

Jim Miller, an NFL quarterback for six seasons who now works as an analyst for CSN Chicago covering the Bears, appeared on 640-AM's The Big O Show with Orlando Alzugaray last week.

Miller was asked about the "Suck for Luck" phenomenon and where the Dolphins fit into that conversation:

"Yes, it's frustrating because I live here in Motown and we got a turnaround with the Detroit Lions and the fans here have been devastated for a long time in terms of not winning," Miller told Alzugaray. "Now there's a lot of excitement yet the fans never went away even through the Matt Millen years and all the things that have gone on. And now they're winning the fans back over and I think that certainly can happen for the Miami Dolphins.

"I think (Miami) has a lot of talent," he continued. "I like that defense. I like the corners, Sean Smith and Vontae Davis, but the defense is on the field consistently.

"And I don't know what's been talked about down there, O[rlando], I mean, I'm upset with Chad Henne. I think he flat out packed it in for the Miami Dolphins. I've a had separated left shoulder -- you can play with that injury. All you're trading when you get surgery is a bump for a scar. He realized he wasn't going to get a new contract down there so I think he packed it in. And those aren't the type of players, in my opinion, the Miami Dolphins need in the future. They need guys that are going to give it up for their football team."

To recap: a guy with no ties to the Dolphins and presumably no sources in or close to the organization offers up his thoughts on Chad Henne to a South Florida radio host. Doesn't this happen every day, in every city, on every sports talk station around the country?

Miller said nothing about "I'm hearing," or "my sources tell me," or "someone close to the situation says…" Miller says "I think [Henne] flat out packed it in." The use of the verb "think" tells us that that's what Miller … thought.

No matter. the Dolphins were none too happy with Miller and his opinions. On Friday, they issued the following statement (via the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero):

"The report that Chad Henne should have played with his injury is totally false and the speculation of the nature of that injury is not correct. The medical staff made it clear to Chad that he could not play with his injury and that his only option was surgery."

How utterly embarrassing (yet nowhere near the humiliation of losing seven straight times to start the season or having the wrong defense on the field against Tim Tebow on the game's decisive play).

Also worth mentioning: when someone offers up a thought, it's not to be confused with a report. Figured that went without saying. Clearly, we were wrong. And in case it comes up again: Tebow likes to run the quarterback draw on short-yardage situations, especially out of the shotgun. You're welcome in advance.

Salguero notes that while Miller is wrong (Henne sought a second opinion before having surgery), the Dolphins have every intention of letting Henne walk after the season.

Either way: who cares what Miller, a Bears analyst, thinks about the Dolphins? (Other than the organization, which apparently hangs on Miller's every word.)


The Kansas City Chiefs hope to continue their hot streak as they prepare to host the Miami Dolphins, who are still searching for their first win. Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan break down this game. Watch the game at 1 PM ET on CBS.

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Posted on: October 25, 2011 11:03 am
Edited on: November 1, 2011 2:39 pm
 

Dolphins were in wrong defense on Tebow score

How to be 0-6 without really trying: look shocked when Tebow runs a QB draw. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

This goes a long way in explaining a) why the Dolphins are 0-6, and b) why they seemed like the only people surprised when Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow ran the Tebow Sneak on the game-tying two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter (Hint: you don't have plays named after you unless you have previously done something to make them famous. In Tebow's case, he ran some variation of the quarterback draw approximately two billion times in college.): On the game's most important play, Miami was in the wrong defense.

In case you missed it, the video evidence:


Denver Quarterback Tim Tebow capped off a miraculous 4th quarter comeback by sending the game to overtime, with this 2 point conversion in the final seconds of regulation against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

After the loss -- one that saw the Broncos score 15 points in the final minutes -- Dolphins defensive end Kendall Langford admitted that "everyone in the stadium knew he was going to run it." Everyone, it seems, except head coach Tony Sparano and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. On that fateful, game-tying play, Miami had five defensive backs, three linemen and three linebackers on the field, apparently under the impression that Tebow, who had amassed a whopping 24 passing yards midway through the third quarter, was going to throw the ball.

The Palm Beach Post's Brian Biggane notes that "Run-stoppers Langford, nose tackle Paul Soliai and defensive end Randy Starks typically are on the field in Miami's goal-line defense. But all three were on the sideline in the scheme defensive coordinator Mike Nolan used against the Denver formation that employed four wide receivers."

Defensive lineman Tony McDaniel, who played nose tackle on the play, was more succinct: "We had the wrong personnel on the field, to be honest. They spread us out and ran it up the middle."

He then echoed teammate Langford. "I always knew (Tebow) was going to try to run the ball when they got in the red zone. He just found a way, made a play and they got a win."

And just in case it wasn't clear, Langford reiterated the point one last time.

"We weren't in a goal-line package," he said. "Everybody at home watching knew what the call was. That was obvious."

Obvious to everyone but Nolan. Which brings us to this: what happened? Nolan got the 49ers head coaching gig in 2005 after coordinating up the Ravens' defense. He lasted three years in San Francisco and spent a season with the Broncos before landing in Miami.

The Sun-Sentinel's David Hyde points to a string of "wait, what did he just do?" decisions by Nolan in 2011:

1. Karlos Dansby wasn't on the field for Cleveland's game-winning touchdown drive.
2. Cameron Wake was asked to cover Santonio Holmes, which resulted in a touchdown.
3. The aforementioned two-point Tebow conversion

If you're looking for a silver lining, this is the best we can do: there's only 600 minutes left in the Dolphins' season.


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Posted on: May 18, 2011 10:25 am
 

Sounds like Alex Smith will stay in San Francisco

SmithPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Though 49ers QB Alex Smith made his first meeting with the media this offseason an off-the-record session (meaning that he asked reporters, including Comcast Sports Net’s Mindi Bach not to quote him directly), he also made it pretty clear that he expects to return to San Francisco in 2011.

Though he looked pretty much good as gone at the end of last season – it was certainly a mutual feeling between him and his team – and despite the fact San Francisco proclaimed its next QB of the future by drafting Colin Kaepernick in the second round of last month’s NFL draft, Smith said he and new coach Jim Harbaugh are getting along well.

The fact Harbaugh is an offensive-minded head coach – as opposed to the 49ers last two hires, Mike Singletary and Mike Nolan – also plays well in Smith’s mind.

There are also other reasons why Smith’s mindset has changed. Smith’s wife, Elizabeth, gave birth to their first child last week, meaning he’d like to stay put for now, and with the lockout freezing free agency, he hasn’t had a chance to look elsewhere for a new organization anyway.

The 49ers also appear to want him back, which could be why Harbaugh already has presented him with the team’s 2011 playbook, featuring Harbaugh’s West Coast offense terminology.

And now considering the lockout could extend into training camp, which would profoundly effect incoming college players, it makes sense to have a more experienced QB who’s taken plenty of NFL snaps as the team’s starter, rather than a rookie who has shined the past few years in the WAC.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com