Tag:Ryan Wilson
Posted on: January 17, 2012 11:49 am
Edited on: January 17, 2012 1:02 pm
 

Report: Fisher to sign 5-year, $35M deal with STL

Fisher reportedly will make $7 million a year in St. Louis. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

The Rams will officially introduce Jeff Fisher as their new head coach in a 2 p.m. ET Tuesday press conference. After days of vacillating between the Miami and St. Louis jobs, Fisher settled on the Rams last Friday.

And now, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jim Thomas, he's going to be well compensated, too.

"Before taking the podium for the first time at Rams Park, Fisher will sign a five-year contract believed to pay him around $7 million annually, easily making him the highest-paid coach in franchise history."

Thomas notes that it wasn't the $35 million over the life of the deal that enticed Fisher to take over a 2-14 team. It was his desire to have have the resources available to "put together a strong coaching staff, be active in free agency and have a strong personnel department."

Fisher's title isn't expected to include "vice president" -- just "head coach" -- which is probably for the best. Joe Gibbs, Mike Holmgren and Mike Shanahan are recent examples of coaches who struggled to also make personnel decisions. One decision Fisher will have to make: naming an offensive coordinator.

Reports earlier this week had former Jets OC Brian Schottenheimer as the front-runner, but ESPN's Chris Mortensen tweeted Tuesday that recently fired Raiders head coach Hue Jackson would also be interviewed for the job.

One thing that is for certain: Gregg Williams, Fisher's defensive coordinator in Tennessee, will be joining him in St. Louis.

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Posted on: January 17, 2012 10:30 am
Edited on: January 17, 2012 10:31 am
 

Tracking Tebow: And so it ends…until next season

We're Tracking Tebow … because it's impossible not to watch. 

By Ryan Wilson

The Broncos' run ended ingloriously Saturday night, 97 days after Tim Tebow replaced Kyle Orton at quarterback. Denver went 8-5 in those 13 weeks, a stretch that included six straight wins followed by three straight losses, which preceded a "didn't see that coming, did you?" offensive explosion against the Steelers in the wild-card round of the playoffs.

But the Tebow aerial assault was fleeting; New England wasn't going to let Tebow do to them what he did to an aggressive Pittsburgh defense. Instead, they mixed their coverages, generated pressure with four and five rushers, kept Tebow contained in the pocket and generally made his Saturday night a miserable experience.

But the setback is temporary; after the Broncos started the season 1-4 with Orton, no one expected them to make the playoffs much less win the AFC West. And yet they did, with an unconventional quarterback running a college offense. And guess what? Denver's ready to do it all again next season, too.

As soon as the Broncos' season was over the speculation began on Tebow's future as an NFL starter. On Monday, team vice president John Elway announced that Tebow had "earned the right" to be the team's quarterback heading into training camp and the hall of famer plans to play an active role in Tebow's development.

"There are things that I can add," Elway said. "Where I can help him ... I'm looking forward to it."


Elway's right -- Tebow has earned the job -- but if the organization is truly committed to him (and we're not convinced they are long term) then that means building the entire offense around one person, right down to a backup quarterback proficient at running Tebow's brand of option football.

If it seems extreme, think of it this way: what happens if Tebow goes down? Denver's offense suddenly reverts to its pre-Tebow playbook? And the remaining starters -- all of whom have spent months practicing the option offense, will suddenly be expected to run a conventional offense? In the middle of a game? That ain't happening.

The downside: if Tebow falters next season and the Broncos decide they'd prefer to run a more conventional system run by a more conventional quarterback, then for the second time in as many offseasons they'll be rebuilding the roster based on a new offensive philosophy.

So, yeah, it's a risk. But this is the same team that went with Orton out of training camp and won once in the first five weeks of the season. Tebow, even with all his flaws, fared much better.

And now with an offseason to work on, well, everything, it's reasonable to think that he'll be a lot better in August than he was in January.


                                                   Play by Play



(Note: Below are the plays -- both running and passing -- involving Tebow. You can view the entire play-by-play breakdown here)




                                                        Quotes



"Kind of like our football team, I was really proud where he started and where he brought this team. We are a work in progress. We have got a lot of work to do and that hasn't changed, you know, for some time. And as I mentioned earlier, you know, the two matchups we had against the New England Patriots, I think it is evident that we have work to do."  - Head coach John Fox on Tebow's overall performance this season

"A lot of ups and downs. Overall it's been a very special opportunity for me, something I've very thankful for, very thankful I had the opportunity to build some of the great relationships with teammates and coaches. We've overcome a lot of different forms of adversity, to win some special games, to have great memories of last week and to be able to get into the playoffs. There's a lot of things we are proud of, even though it's hard to see that now.  " - Tebow, after the game Saturday night

"Tim has earned the right to be the starting quarterback going into training camp next year. He made some good strides." - John Elway, executive vice president of football operations


                                                   Audio-Visual




Instead of playing press coverage, the Patriots often disguised their looks. Whatever happened presnap, the outcome was usually the same: contain Tebow, make him hold the ball, and win your one-on-one matchups. Here Tebow is sacked for an 11-yard loss.

(Note: click to englarge photos.) One thing Tebow will have to get better at: reading defenses and going through his progressions. In this play that ultimately led to a sack, Tebow stares down his receiver to the right. By the time he finally looks for other options, it's too late, the pocket has collapsed, and he's taken down. The receiver to the left is open, Tebow just never looks his way.


                                                   Eye on Tebow



Jan 14, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) on the field after the game against the New England Patriots in the 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Broncos 45- 10. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE

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Posted on: January 17, 2012 9:49 am
 

Antrel Rolle on Giants: 'We can't be beat'

Rolle isn't afraid to speak his mind. It's just that sometimes it backfires. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

It's one thing for Jason Pierre-Paul to declare that the Giants would beat the Packers because, well, he apparently knows what he's talking about. ("We’re going to win," Pierre-Paul said after New York beat Atlanta. "One hundred percent we’re going to win ... because we’re the best.")

It's something else when Antrel Rolle makes similar proclamations; his track record in such endeavors is far from spotless. In fact, it's pretty embarrassing.

The Redskins somehow managed to sweep the Giants this season and following their Week 1 win, Rolle went on the radio and said, "As a team and organization we know that the Washington Redskins are not a better team than us. We know that. Hands down. If we played them 100 times they might win five."

Washington would win again when the two teams met 14 weeks later.

Now, five days from the NFC Championship Game, Rolle is again making with the guarantees.

"I might be a little biased, but in our minds, we can’t be beat,” Rolle said via the New York Daily News' Peter Botte. “We’re extremely confident and we’ve given ourselves the reasons to feel that way. We have to continue to give ourselves those reasons, and we will. We have no doubts. It’s right there at the tip of our tongues.”

Rolle's comments aren't unreasonable (well, except that part about winning being on the "tip of our tongues" -- but we knew what he meant); the Giants did just beat the defending Super Bowl champs who went 15-1 during the 2011 regular season. And unlike his observations about the Redskins' inadequacies, Rolle didn't call out the 49ers. He just spoke to how well New York has been playing.

“You can put an All-Star team in front of us, and we’re going to go out there and compete,” he continued. “We don’t fold. No matter what happens, if there’s a bad call, or things aren’t going our way, we’re not going to break. We’re not going to lose focus on what’s at stake and our ultimate goal.”

Rolle's right about that last part: the Giants were hosed twice against the Packers and it didn't matter; they still blew Green Bay out at home. There's something to be said for that, especially since New York has to travel to San Francisco next weekend.

And while we don't have any issues with Rolle's latest remarks, we'd still feel a lot better if they came from JPP. Because, really, there's nothing more shameful than getting called out by Rex Grossman for being bad at your job.

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Posted on: January 17, 2012 9:00 am
 

Eye on Photos, Week 19: Down go the Packers



By Ryan Wilson


Eye on photos looks back at the wild-card weekend that was… (click photos to enlarge)

Baltimore Ravens free safety Ed Reed hits the turf after intercepting a pass intended for Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012. The Ravens won the game 20-13. (AP Photo/Nick Wass) Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco reacts after begin hit by Houston Texans outside linebacker Brooks Reed during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Baltimore Ravens cornerback Cary Williams stops Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) Jan 15, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates (13) passes in the third quarter of the 2011 AFC divisional playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore won 20-13. (US PRESSWIRE)
Green Bay Packers fans Kirk Erdman, left, and Eric Wanless react as they watch a television broadcast of the NFL divisional playoff football game between the Packers and New York Giants, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012, at a sports bar in Weston, Wis. The Giants won 37-20. (AP Photo/The Wausau Daily Herald, Dan Young) New York Giants' Kenny Phillips reacts with fans after New York defeated Green Bay Packers, 37-20, in an NFL divisional playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 15: Hakeem Nicks #88 of the New York Giants makes a 37 yard touchdown catch with time running out in the second quarter against Charles Woodson #21 of the Green Bay Packers during their NFC Divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 15, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 15: Fans cheer as the the Green Bay Packers play against the New York Giants during their NFC Divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 15, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) walks on the field after an NFL divisional playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, in San Francisco. The 49ers won 36-32. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) crosses the goal line for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the fourth quarter of an NFL divisional playoff football game Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 14: Vernon Davis #85 of the San Francisco 49ers catches a 49 yard pass from Alex Smith #11 (not pictured) to score a touchdown in the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park on January 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) makes a catch against San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker Patrick Willis (52) for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of an NFL divisional playoff football game Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady celebrates his 19-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Denver Broncos Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee (23) is tackled by New England Patriots middle linebacker Jerod Mayo (51) as he scores on a five yard run during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, in Foxborough, Mass.(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos fumbles the ball in the first quarter as he is hit by Rob Ninkovich #50 of the New England Patriots during their AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) catches a 10-yard touchdown pass while being defended by Denver Broncos cornerback Andre' Goodman (21) during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

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Category: NFL
Posted on: January 16, 2012 11:15 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 7:40 am
 

Jets RB suggests WRs called out Sanchez to media

Tomlinson, like new OC Sparano, supports Sanchez. (AP/US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Given LaDainian Tomlinson's remarks following the Jets' embarrassing Week 17 loss to the Dolphins, it's not altogether surprising that he would again suggest that the wide receivers were one of the reasons for the team's lack of cohesion this season.

First, a refresher: LdT's comments in Miami after Santonio Holmes was benched for insolence -- and worse -- quitting on his team.

"Let me just say that there were guys in the huddle that were unhappy with Tone’s demeanor," Tomlinson told reporters on January 1. “And when you have a group of guys who are fighting their butts off, and one guy who -- for whatever reason, his demeanor isn’t with ‘em -- you’ll have guys try to say something to him, just pretty much tell him how they feel. That’s what you got today.

"I’ll tell you what, it’s tough for guys to follow a captain that kind of behaves in that manner. When you’re a captain, guys are looking at you, you’ve got to lead by example. You’ve got to play your tail off until the last play. And when that don’t happen, you have guys looking at you in a way that captains shouldn’t be looked at. You should always put yourself out there as a leader. "

Head coach Rex Ryan's solution: do away with team captains. He might also want to give some thought to doing away with Holmes (although at the Jets' end-of-season presser, both Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum sounded like Holmes would be back).

Tomlinson shed more light on the Jets' season of discontent during a Sunday appearance on ESPN's NFL Countdown. LdT didn't name names but as ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini points out, he didn't have to. It doesn't take Norman Einstein to piece together that Tomlinson seemed to indicate that Holmes and Plaxico Burress might be responsible for recent not-so-nice -- and anonymous comments about quarterback Mark Sanchez.

"I think some things that happened in the locker room between [Sanchez] and the receivers, I think that's where this is coming from -- some of the disconnects that happened throughout the year, maybe some of the arguments you guys heard about throughout the year," Tomlinson said. "So I think this is where it may be coming from."

Last week, unnamed sources in the Jets organization described Sanchez as "lazy" and "coddled". That came days after former Jets defensive lineman Kris Jenkins suggested that “[Calling out Holmes publicly like backup Greg McElroy did] would have been all part of the process of [Sanchez] growing a pair and standing up and being a man. But the thing is, he lost his because he got caught up in the wash that is New York, the spotlight, taking pictures in the magazines and doing all that stuff. That’s just what everybody has seen with Mark Sanchez, they got tired of it.”

Center Nick Mangold and owner Woody Johnson both came out in support of Sanchez, as did Tomlinson Sunday.

"Listen, there are a lot of things you can say about Mark Sanchez, but to call him lazy is a bit much," he said. "This is a guy that has worked very hard off the field ... in the film room, I've seen it ... the weight room, putting in extra time with the coaches early in the morning ... after practice, when everybody is gone, putting in time. So he's not lazy."

Whatever Sanchez does away from the field, the reality is this: he's underperformed in 2011. His third NFL season was a disappointment punctuated by the Jets missing the playoffs. The team has since parted ways with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer (he could end up as part of Jeff Fisher's new staff in St. Louis) and hired Tony Sparano.

During his introductory press conference Sparano proclaimed that "We’’ll be explosive. We’ll be able to get it down the field."

And during an appearance on The Michael Kay Show this week, Sparano was even more effusive.

“I’m really excited about being a part of the entire Jets organization here and getting a chance to work with Rex here and work for Rex," he said via SportsRadioInterview.com. … "As far as Mark goes I am very excited about getting a chance to work with Mark Sanchez. When you are in the other locker room he causes you so many problems in your preparation because of the way he can move and escape and extend plays and make all the throws. This guy has won a lot of games in the 4th quarter of games, so those type of things are the things that excite me.”

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Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:43 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 11:19 pm
 

Coughlin upset by 2 calls vs. GB, NFL explains

Tom Coughlin is oh-fer on his last eight challenges. (NFL.com)

By Ryan Wilson

NFL fans are familiar with Bill Leavy. He was the official in Super Bowl XL, often referred to as "that game where the Steelers were gifted the Lombardi Trophy over the Seahawks." After two controversial calls in Sunday's Giants-Packers game, Leavy is back, again for the wrong reasons.

First, there was what appeared to be a Greg Jennings fumble in which he was initially ruled down by contact. The Giants challenged, replays showed that Jennings had in fact fumbled, and all that was left was for Leavy to emerge from under the hood and announce that it was New York's ball. Except that didn't happen. Instead, inexplicably, he declared that "the ruling on the field stands."

(We went into this in great detail in Monday's Pick-6 Podcast, as well if the NFL should go to full-time officials. Spoiler alert: No. Either way, you can listen below.)


On Monday, the league explained Leavy's decision (via PFT).

“Rule 7, Section 2, Article 1 of the NFL Rule Book (page 35) states: ‘An official shall declare the ball dead and the down ended: (a) when a runner is contacted by a defensive player and touches the ground with any part of his body other than his hands or feet,’” the league said in a statement emailed to PFT by NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. “So by rule, if Jennings’ calf was on the ground prior to the ball coming loose, he is down by contact. Contrary to what was suggested during the game, there is no need for the runner’s knee to be on the ground.”

Uh-huh. We suppose you could look at this replay and say that maybe Jennings' shin (really, the shin?) was down before the ball came out. But you could also argue that Jennings lost possession before his shin contacted the turf.


Jennings sure looked like he fumbled.

In general, we don't like to whinge about the officiating because by the end of the season, it usually evens out for everybody. And credit to New York. Despite two atrocious calls (the other was when Osi Umenyiora was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Aaron Rodgers even though no part of his helmet came close to Rodgers' head), they won by 37-20.

A day later, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin remained confused by the two calls. He was asked Monday if there was anything on film that made the Jennings' non-fumble clearer. “There is but I won’t get into it,’’ he said.

And Umenyiora's roughing-the-passer penalty?

“Aggressive football play,’’ Coughlin said via the New York Post. “The quarterback is following through as he releases the ball. The hit is from the side. There’s not helmet involved. It’s from the shoulders to waist. We’ll coach that one forever.’’

Now all that's left if for Leavy to apologize to the Giants and their fans. That generally takes about four years.

Here's what he told the media in August 2010, unprompted:

"It was a tough thing for me. I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter [of Super Bowl XL between the Steelers and Seahawsk] and I impacted the game and as an official you never want to do that. It left me with a lot of sleepless nights and I think about it constantly. I'll go to my grave wishing that I'd been better. I know that I did my best at that time, but it wasn't good enough. When we make mistakes, you got to step up and own them. It's something that all officials have to deal with, but unfortunately when you have to deal with it in the Super Bowl it's difficult."

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Posted on: January 16, 2012 5:21 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 5:25 pm
 

Report: Mike Martz retires from coaching

Cutler reportedly didn't want Martz back in Chicago. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Mike Martz, the architect of the Greatest Show on Turf with the Rams in the early 2000s, has retired, NFL Network Jason La Canfora reported Monday. Martz served as Dick Vermeil's offensive coordinator when St. Louis won the Super Bowl in 2000, was elevated to head coach from 2000-2005, and spent five of the next six seasons as an offensive coordinator with the Lions (2006-07), 49ers (2008) and Bears (2010-11).

Martz's two-year stint in Chicago was a bumpy one; his offensive philosophy wasn't always shared by franchise quarterback Jay Cutler. And head coach Lovie Smith, who Martz had hired as the Rams defensive coordinator in 2001, was often viewed as Martz's enabler. Smith regularly rebuffed questions about Martz's future.

In late December, with the Bears' playoffs hopes dashed, Smith was asked if Martz, whose contract expires at the end of the 2011 season, would be back in 2012.

“What kind of question is that anyway, at this time?" Smith demanded at the time. "What kind of question is that? Why would you ask a question like that anyway?"

Six days later -- and a day after Smith was noncommittal on Martz's future -- Martz resigned for "philosophical differences." And today he retired from coaching.

The Bears promoted Mike Tice into Martz's old job. Tice had previously served as Chicago's offensive line coach and was the Vikings head coach from 2001-2005. Tice isn't considered the offensive mastermind that Martz was but might be by design. His biggest task should be to a) keep Cutler from taking hits and b) get Matt Forte the ball. You don't have to be a genius to know that. In fact, it probably helps if you aren't.

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Posted on: January 16, 2012 9:39 am
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Best Super Bowl matchups

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Three games left in the season. It's terrifying, but we've got to analyze the four games from this weekend anyway.

Are the Giants the new Super Bowl favorite? What happened to the Packers? Is the Patriots defense stepping up? Are the Broncos going to stick with Tim Tebow in 2012?

And what's the best possible Super Bowl matchup? A Giants-Patriots rematch? Or is it Harbaugh Bowl 2.0?

We answer all these questions, plus much, much more, below.

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