Tag:Ryan Wilson
Posted on: January 20, 2012 11:00 pm
 

'91 Giants-49ers playoff game all about hard hits

New York and San Francisco met on January 20, 1991 and Montana and Hostetler both took beatings that day. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

On Sunday, the Giants face the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. Twenty-one years ago, these two teams faced off in the very same conference final, one the Giants would win, 15-13 (you can view the box score here). But as you'll see in the videos below, their brand of tackle football is virtually unrecognizable. There was no such thing at the Tom Brady rule or defenseless receivers or helmet-to-helmet hits, and defensive backs could mug would-be pass-catchers without penalty.

Still, there are plenty of familiar faces: Giants' defensive coordinator Bill Belichick, 49ers backup quarterback Steve Young, and of course Lawrence Taylor, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. And there's even a cameo by a smack-talking Jon Bon Jovi.


"We're like guys from Jersey -- we drink beer out of cans, you know, and Budweiser. And we don't have cheerleaders and we don't have fancy stuff. We just know how to go down and make guys like Joe Montana feel sick." - a prophetic Jon Bon Jovi

Just about every hit in these seven minutes of footage would be illegal today. By our rough estimate, several players would've faced six-figure fines for this one game. And forget about monetary sanctions for Leonard Marshall. If he made that hit in today's NFL, he would've been promptly frog-marched off the field in handcuffs and thrown in the nearest jail without a trial.

Here's Montana talking about said collision:


After watching this we've come to several conclusions, including the most obvious: James Harrison was born 20 years too late.

"My ribs and chest hurt so bad that I didn't know my hand was broken," Montana said of Marshall's hit. "Normally when you get knocked out you can breathe a little bit of air out, but I couldn't even get a breath out. I was thinking, 'Oh god, I'm gonna die here.' Something is seriously wrong."

Brandon Jacobs might be tough by 2012 standards but we're guessing he'd want no part of this 1991 get-together.

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 9:47 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 9:49 pm
 

NFL Analyst: Ravens look like 1960s offense

Is Cameron responsible for Flacco's lack of consistency? (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

Fair or not, quarterback Joe Flacco has been the Ravens' most scrutinized player this season. But that's part of the deal; as an NFL quarterback, he's the face of the franchise and in many respects, the most important cog in a machine built to win Super Bowls. Instead, 2011 has been marked by inconsistency. The results, predictably: fans have lost patience and the organization has yet to offer him a contract extension.

It doesn't help that he has thin skin and rabbit ears, even if he tries to joke that he doesn't pay attention to the criticism. But maybe this isn't all on Flacco.

That should be obvious but sometimes it's easier for fans and media to just wave their arms, lament the quarterback's ineffectiveness and not give it much thought beyond that. But NFL Films' Greg Cosell, who Yahoo.com's Doug Farrar describes as watching "more all-22 film than anyone not currently part of an NFL coaching staff," has a theory for why Flacco has struggled at points this season.

"The Ravens' receiving corps could be the absolute worst in the NFL when it comes to getting open versus man coverage," Cosell told Farrar. "They don't do an awful lot to get them open versus man — you don't see a lot of the stack release concepts, or all the "man-beater" concepts. No bunch, no stack release. No rub elements.


After a win over the Texans last week, Joe Flacco and the Ravens will take on Tom Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship. Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this game. Watch the game on CBS at 3 PM ET. 

"They don't do a lot to help their receivers win versus man," Cosell continued. "I'm not going to defend Flacco, but I think it's very difficult to … it seemed that last week [against the Houston Texans] the route tree was a go route and a screen. I said this to one of my guys [while I was watching the Baltimore] tape — 'I feel like I'm watching a 1960s offense.' Every play, there was one receiver to the right, and one receiver to the left, often two backs or two tight ends, and that was every play, it seemed."

The other culprit is one familiar to Ravens fans: offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. From Football Outsiders' AFC preview:

"In this era of multiple receivers and shotgun spreads, the Ravens actually run a fairly conventional, old-fashioned offense. Our charting lists the Ravens using two wide receivers on 56 percent of plays, the highest rate in the league."

That doesn't exactly scream innovation. And it's fair to assume that this lack of innovation may have something to do with Flacco's stunted development.

One receiver who appeared frustrated with the Texans' man coverage concepts: rookie deep threat Torrey Smith. Instead of waiting for Cameron to devise a scheme to help him get open, Smith took matters into his own hands. He's intimately familiar with the Patriots. Partly from watching film, but also from -- wait for it -- facing them so often in Madden.

"The biggest thing about New England is my brother always picks them in Madden," Smith said according to The Carroll County Times' Aaron Wilson. "They pretty much always have the best offense for some years in that game. I play with the Ravens all the time now."

Smith also talked about last spring's draft process, one that saw the Patriots very interested in the former Maryland product.

"I pretty much did everything you could do with New England as far as the draft process goes," he said. "I met with them at the combine, did a private workout, and I saw them around a lot. They have a great coaching staff, and you can see with the way their track record has been they know how to win."

Of course, Smith already knew that. You know, from Madden.

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 8:13 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 10:46 pm
 

Would Colts interview Tressel for coaching job?

Former Indy president Bill Polian sits with team consultant Jim Tressel before a game in November. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

The Colts are in the market for a head coach. After cleaning house in recent weeks, team owner Jim Irsay and new general manager Ryan Grigson continue their search for the man who will help return Indianapolis to prominence.

Jim Caldwell was sent packing Tuesday and the names of possible candidates to replace him span the gamut from old-hands to up-and-comers. Our very early list included both: Brad Childress, Marty Mornhinwheg, Wade Phillips and Rod Chudzinski.

The Colts are reportedly interested in talking to Childress, the former Vikings head coach. And Irsay's plane, according to the Indianapolis Star, was in Sarasota, Florida Friday morning before returning to Indianapolis later in the day.

Former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, who resigned amid an NCAA investigation in May and joined the Colts as a consultant in September, has a home in the area. Multiple sources expect Tressel to interview for Caldwell's job, though the Star couldn't confirm this.

On Thursday, a Colts source told CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman that there was "no way in hell" that the organization was considering Tressel as Caldwell's replacement.

Freeman adds: "The source explained that owner Irsay likes Tressel and does want him to have some sort of role in the organization (a new head coach will have some say in that of course). Which is, well, incredible. If you remember Tressel resigned as Ohio State coach after it was determined the Buckeyes had numerous rules violations under his watch. Ohio State later self-vacated its entire 2010 season."

The three known candidates to be targeted for interviews with the Colts are Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, New Orleans offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

Whoever ends up as Indy's new coach, the first order of business will be to decide what to do with the team's franchise quarterbacks (the one currently on the roster and the one they will inevitably draft in three months). Peyton Manning has been with the organization since 1998, although he missed the 2011 season with a neck injury. The Colts, fresh off a 2-14 effort without Manning, had won at least 10 games every year from 2002-2010 (including two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl title).

But Manning is due a $28 million roster bonus on March 8 and there's a possibility that the organization could decide to move forward without him. Indianapolis holds the first-overall pick in April's NFL Draft and Irsay has already said that they will select a quarterback regardless of Manning's health.

"With Griffin and with Luck and the way it's shaping up in the top part of the draft, which very likely could go one and two like with Peyton and Ryan Leaf -- it's most likely one of those quarterbacks that you really feel is the best player in the draft, and where we're at moving forward, that you can't pass that up," Irsay told ESPN, per the Star.

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 6:36 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 5:23 pm
 

Dolphins hire Joe Philbin as new head coach

Former Green Bay OC Joe Philbin is Miami's new head coach. (US PRESSWIRE/Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

The Dolphins have hired former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin as their head coach, CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman has confirmed through a team source. Philbin, Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Todd Bowles, the Dolphins secondary coach who served as the interim head coach after Tony Sparano was fired in Week 14, were thought to be the favorites.

“We are thrilled to have Joe Philbin join the Miami Dolphins as our head coach,” owner Stephen Ross said in a statment released by the team. “Joe has all the attributes that we were looking for when we started this process. (General) Jeff Ireland and I felt Joe was the right choice to bring the Dolphins back to the success we enjoyed in the past. I know I join our fans in welcoming him as the newest member of the Dolphin family.”

Miami settled on Philbin after Jeff Fisher accepted St. Louis' offer last week (and the $7 million-a-year salary that came with it). The organization is expected to hold a press conference after Philbin signs his contract in the coming days. Details of the deal aren't known but the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero writes that it's for no less than four years.

Philbin becomes the 10th coach in Dolphins history and the seventh in eight years. He takes over a team that started the 2011 season with seven straight losses before winning six of their last nine games. Miami missed the playoffs for the ninth time in the past decade. It has been 19 years since they reached the AFC championship game, 27 years since they reached the Super Bowl and 38 years since they won an NFL title.

"You don't replace people like Joe," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Silverstein.  I'm going to miss him personally a whole lot, forget as a professional. ... He brings a lot to the table..His resume speaks for itself. But the No. 1 thing is ... he's an excellent communicator."

Packers tight end Jermichael Finley added via Twitter: "A huge congratulations to Joe Philbin. No one deserves it more than this guy. The Pack will miss him!"

Former Packers executive Andrew Brandt tweeted: "Worked five years with Joe Philbin. Calm, cerebral, humble and a skilled offensive mind. His style will resonate with players."

When Ross began the job search he said that he would like to give the franchise much-needed stability by hiring "a young Don Shula." Instead he chose the 50-year-old Philbin, who has 28 years of coaching experience, including 19 years in college.

“I want to thank Steve Ross and Jeff Ireland for giving me the opportunity to become the head coach of one of the premier franchises in professional sports,” he said. “I also want to thank the Green Bay Packers for all the support the organization has given me during my time there.

"The Dolphins have a strong nucleus to build around, and working with everyone in the organization, I know that together we will return the team to its winning tradition," he continued. "I have seen how much the fans in South Florida care about the Dolphins, and that passion is one reason why I’m really excited to be here. I’m looking forward to their support, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Miami's offense ranked 20th last season, according to Football Outsiders (20th pass, 27th rush). Owner Stephen Ross wanted to bring in an offensive-minded head coach and Philbin is certainly that. He served as the Packers' coordinator from the 2007-2011 seasons, which includes the entire Aaron Rodgers era.

Assistants becoming first-time NFL head coaches have had mixed results in recent years. The group includes the Ravens' John Harbaugh, the Saints' Sean Payton and the Steelers' Mike Tomlin, but also three coaches recently fired: Jim Caldwell by the Colts, Todd Haley by the Chiefs and Steve Spagnuolo by the Rams.

Before joining the Packers, Philbin was Iowa's offensive line coach for four years. The former small-college tight end has been an offensive coordinator at Harvard, Northeastern and Allegheny College.

Philbin will now begin assembling a staff. Bowles might remain as a replacement for defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, who took the same job this week with the Atlanta Falcons.

Freeman writes that Rodgers' backup and soon-to-be free agent Matt Flynn could be an option in South Beach. (Chad Henne, the Dolphins' former second-round pick, suffered a shoulder injury during the '11 season and was placed on injured reserve. He'll be a free agent this spring and isn't expected back.)

"A source close to Flynn told me that Flynn would 'love to the challenge of being a starter' but emphasized he's loyal to the Packers," said Freeman Friday evening. "But if you had to wager don't put a lot of cash on Flynn staying in Green Bay."

Flynn, who completed 70.5 percent of his passes for 480 yards and six touchdowns against the Lions in Week 17, could be one of the most sought-after quarterbacks in free agency in the coming months if the Packers don't chose to re-sign him. We've already drawn the Kevin Kolb comparisions, and the Redskins have been mentioned as possible suitors. Now we can add the Dolphins to that list.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 6:04 pm
 

Rex Ryan: 'Ravens are going to win this game'

Ryan likes Baltimore and Suggs. Welker's response: 'That's Rex for you.' (US PRESSWIRE/Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Las Vegas and CBSSports.com's NFL experts may not give the Ravens much of a chance against the Patriots in the AFC Championship game but not everyone is sold on New England. Take unbiased observer, former Ravens defensive coordinator, and current Jets head coach Rex Ryan, who appeared on WFAN Friday to make his bold prediction.


“First off, the Ravens are going to win this game,” he told Mike Francesa. "But the truth is this. The only way you’re going to beat New England is if you have a great defense. And when you look at the teams that won – obviously Buffalo was the one exception – the Giants had a great game defensively, they were able to get pressure on the quarterback, make plays in the back end. The Ravens had beaten New England before with a dominant defense."

Seems reasonable enough, especially Ryan's implication that the Jets, who finished the season 8-8 and missed the playoffs, didn't have a great defense (they went 0-2 against the Patriots in 2011). And he alluded to that during his conversation with Francesa.

"We beat New England three times but we did it creatively … a different type of defense, (Tom Brady) wasn’t comfortable," Ryan said. "There are only a few teams…Pittsburgh, was more physical than New England. That’s why they won. So the Ravens, in my opinion, are going to take a similar approach to how the Giants played them. Meaning, they’re going to rush four guys on them, I truly think they’re going to rush four. I think Terrell Suggs might be the difference in this game. I don’t know how many guys can block Terrell Suggs. I’ve got the answer: none of them. So I think Suggs is going to be huge but they’ve got to be physical. And the Ravens’ offense does have to show up. They have to protect the football."

It's no surprise that Ryan likes Baltimore this weekend; he has ties to the organization and he's bound by rivalry to loathe New England. But he also lays out a game plan (if not wholly convincing then certainly credible) for stopping Tom Brady's high-powered offense. Ryan, after all, was the Ravens' defensive coordinator in 2007 when a not-very-good Baltimore team almost upended the undefeated Patriots. (Of course, Ryan's decision to call a timeout late in that game, when it appeared that Baltimore had stopped Brady on 4th and 1, played a non-trivial part in the outcome.)

Wide receiver Wes Welker, one of Brady's favorite targets, was asked Friday about Ryan's prognostication. "That’s Rex for you," he said according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Greg Bedard. "Hopefully we can prove him wrong."

As for slowing that tenacious Ravens' defense, guard Logan Mankins suggested more no-huddle.

"I think it helps," Mankins said via Bedard. "(The Ravens) do a lot of different things, so maybe (the no-huddle) will make them not do so many different things."


After a win over the Texans last week, Joe Flacco and the Ravens will take on Tom Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship. Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this game. Watch the game on CBS at 3 PM ET. 

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 9:41 am
 

Pick-6 Podcast: Do Ravens, 49ers Have a Chance?

So, who ya got? (Getty Images/US PRESSWIRE)

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

It's the conference championships and everybody seems to be firmly on two bandwagons: the Patriots and Giants. The former isn't completely surprising -- New England has Tom Brady and Baltimore's Joe Flacco has yet to prove himself -- the latter is unexpected for two reasons.

No. 1: New York was 9-7 in the regular season. Yes, they've had convincing wins against the Falcons and the Packers in back-to-back weeks ... but this leads us to No. 2: San Francisco just stopped the thought-to-be-unstoppable force: Drew Brees and the Saints' offense.

So what gives? Do Baltimore and San Francisco have a shot to get to Indy for the Super Bowl? We talk about that, Steve Spagnuolo joining the Saints, Rob Lowe breaking NFL news and perhaps most importantly: why Joe Flacco is riding a skateboard days before the AFC Championship game.

Talking starts promptly.

(Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes? And if you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.)


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Posted on: January 19, 2012 11:00 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 11:01 pm
 

Is Matt Flynn a good fit for Redskins? It depends

Add Flynn's name to the list of possible future 'Skins quarterbacks. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

We've previously described the weeks and months between the last day of the Redskins season and the start of training camp as their offseason Super Bowl. It's become less a frenzied free-agent free-for-all under head coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen, but much in the same way an alcoholic is one drink away from an impending bender, Washington owner Dan Snyder seems one high-priced acquisition away from another make-believe offseason championship.

The Redskins head into the spring with dire needs at quarterback. This is the logical conclusion to turning the offense over to Rex Grossman and John Beck. The problem: while Washington was sufficiently awful, they weren't quite bad enough to position themselves for Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III -- not without giving up players or picks first.

Even before the 2011 season ended, we heard rumors that the Redskins could be in the Peyton Manning business should he become available. Two weeks later, there was speculation that, despite their newfound less impulsive approach to roster-building, Washington might trade up to the first-overall pick in April's NFL Draft. And two weeks after that, the "'Skins will try to get Robert Griffin III" rumors were born.

Given the evolution of Redskins-related speculation, it only makes sense that Packers free-agent quarterback Matt Flynn would enter the conversation.

Flynn, drafted as a seventh-round afterthought in 2008, has two career starts, including a Week 17 appearance against the Lions where he went off. By the time it was over, he had completed 70.5 percent of his passes (31 of 44) for 480 yards and six touchdowns. It was enough to make us wonder if Flynn would be this offseason's Kevin Kolb. (To be fair to Flynn, he had accomplished something before being handed $63 million. So he had that going for him.) 

Which brings us back to the Redskins. On Thursday, Chris Russell of ESPN 980 in Washington weighed in on Flynn:
Two things ... factor into the possible Redskins-Flynn equation. Unlike last year, the Redskins will have to make their decisions first on free agency and then the draft. I can't stress how uncomfortable it makes me to bank on the draft to find "THE GUY," and I am NOT a trade up kind of guy. There is no guarantee that RG III is around with the sixth pick, as a matter of fact it is highly unlikely. You may have to move all the way up to the 2nd pick -- which is an extremely high cost.

The last, and this might be most important -- the Green Bay Packers run a very similar style of the West Coast offense as the Redskins do. Every scheme has variances, but these two teams, according to one high end Redskins source -- are "almost the same." Flynn would not face a huge scheme transition like Kevin Kolb did. The source was quick to point this out, saying that Kolb going from Andy Reid and the Eagles to Ken Whisenhunt and the Cardinals (essentially the Steelers offense) was like learning Chinese fluently in a month, when your base language is English.
On Wednesday, CBS Sports NFL Insider Charley Casserly appeared on another Washington station, 106.7 The Fan, to talk about -- you guessed it -- Matt Flynn. Except he wasn't as high on Flynn-to-the-Skins as Russell.

“I think [Flynn] in this system he plays in is really good. So Cleveland, Seattle, if Joe Philbin ends up with a head job in Miami.” Casserly said. “I’m not sure if it’s exactly the same thing the Redskins want in their same system. I’m not sure if everything they’re doing right now is some of the things he’s good at,” he added.

More interesting: Casserly contradicts Russell's claim that the Packers and Redskins run similar schemes. Casserly said the Packers' offense is based on timing while the Redskins rely on deep passes. Given that scouts' generally viewed Flynn as having a weak arm coming out of college (which helps explain why he lasted until the seventh round), he probably wouldn't be a good fit for Washington's down-the-field passing philosophy.

Of course, perceptions change. Next month, quarterback-needy teams could wage a bidding war for Flynn's services, and it's reasonable to think that the 'Skins might be in the middle of it. It's also reasonable to think that they could move up the draft board for either Luck or Griffin. But that's the beauty of Dan Snyder: you never know.

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Posted on: January 19, 2012 8:37 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 8:39 pm
 

Giants RB hopes 49ers' D 'hits me in the head'

Jacobs welcomes a physical game against San Francisco Sunday. (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

Earlier this week, after dispensing with the defending Super Bowl champion Packers, Giants safety Antrel Rolle announced that "we can't be beat." He did qualify it with "I might be a little biased," but the point remains: New York is playing its best football of the season.

But the same can be said of the team they'll face Sunday: the San Francisco 49ers, who manhandled the Saints and took Drew Brees and that explosive offense out of their game in the process. By the time it was over, the 49ers had forced five turnovers including two interceptions.

But the Giants, unlike the Saints, aren't a finesse offense. Just the opposite, in fact. They have a wide receiver who looks like a tight end (Hakeem Nicks), a tight end who looks like an offensive lineman (Jake Ballard), and a bruising running back who -- shocker -- likes to steamroll any defender unlucky enough to get in his way.

So it's hardly surprising that Brandon Jacobs welcomes San Francisco's physical style.

"I wish like hell they'd hit me in the head. ...," Jacobs said Thursday according to NFL.com. "A helmet-to-helmet hit. I want one of those. Because that means they're staying high, you know. They're not going to the ground and trying to make tackles at the shoe strings."

Our initial reaction: be careful what you ask for. But Jacobs, all 6-4, 265 pounds of him, is right. If San Francisco defenders are hitting him high, they'll bounce off him like rain on an umbrella. Being physical got the 49ers to this point and that won't change Sunday. Jacobs remains unimpressed.


After dominating the Green Bay Packers last week, the New York Giants will travel to Candlestick Park to square off against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship. Join NFL.com's Pat Kirwan and Jason Horowitz as they break down this matchup.

"I really don't care how physical they are," he said. "It's going to be a football game. They're a physical bunch; we're a physical bunch. We're going to be out there playing ball. I'm not afraid of them, I'm not afraid of anybody on their team, I'm not afraid of anybody in their organization. I'm ready to play football."

This is a much easier claim to make now that Mike Singletary is in Minnesota. Interestingly, all five of CBSSports.com's NFL experts are picking the Giants to win.

And lest you think Jacobs is all talk, he did take the high road when asked about Jerry Rice's recent comments calling Jacobs "a little soft."

“I grew up a San Francisco 49ers fan,” Jacobs said according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Alex Raskin. “I loved Jerry Rice. I still love Jerry Rice. If he feels that way, he feels that way; but I bet you he won’t tackle me.”

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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