Tag:Ryan Wilson
Posted on: January 14, 2012 4:08 pm

Report: Rams interested in Brian Schottenheimer

Brian Schottenheimer isn't in line for head-coaching jobs, but he's in demand as an offensive coordinator. (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

Rex Ryan announced at the Jets end-of-season press conference on January 2 that he'd welcome Brian Schottenheimer back as offensive coordinator should he not land a head-coaching gig. Well, Schottenheimer hasn't been mentioned as a candidate for any of the various vacancies around the league but he's not coming back to New York.

"After much thought and consideration, I have decided not to return to the New York Jets in 2012," Schottenheimer said in a statement issued by the team on Tuesday. "I am very proud of what we have accomplished in the six years I have been here. I am grateful for the relationships that I have with our players and coaches and appreciate the hard work and dedication that went into our success."

The Jets have since hired Tony Sparano, the former Dolphins head coach, who wants to get back to "square one" with embattled quarterback Mark Sanchez and promises to "be more explosive" in the process.

Schottenheimer, meanwhile, has been mentioned as a possibility with the Falcons. On Saturday, he interviewed with Nick Saban about the University of Alabama offensive coordinator's gig, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jim Thomas reports that he's also on the Rams' radar to fill the position vacated when Josh McDaniels returned to the mothership in New England.

"Multiple league sources told the Post-Dispatch on Saturday that Jeff Fisher is interested in hiring Schottenheimer as his offensive coordinator with the Rams," Thomas wrote Saturday.

"…Fisher has been given the green light by the Rams to 'officially' talk to potential members of his coaching staff. Fisher has been informally working on his staff over the past week or so as he contemplated whether to coach for St. Louis or Miami."

The appeal for Schottenheimer in St. Louis is that the Rams have a legitimate franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford. The downside: Bradford struggled with injuries and consistency in 2011 (we could say that about just about everybody on the team) and the team won two games. 

On the other side of the ball, Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is expected to give serious consideration to joining Fisher in St. Louis in the same role. The two worked together in Tennessess, and Williams' contract expires after the 2011 season.

NFL Network's Jason La Canfora reports that "Williams has grown close to Sean Payton" but will "be torn when Fisher comes calling."

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Posted on: January 14, 2012 1:36 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2012 1:58 pm

Report: McDaniels to sit in Pats coaching booth

Josh McDaniels is back where it all started: New England. (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

After nearly three years, Josh McDaniels has returned to the Patriots. The former New England offensive coordinator's meteoric rise coincided with the team's record-setting performance during the 2007 season, and in 2009 he was named the Broncos head coach. That lasted less than two seasons and McDaniels served as the offensive coordinator of a punchless Rams team in 2011. But now he's returned to Foxboro where it all started.

Will McDaniels make a difference? (Getty Images)
And on Saturday night, when the Patriots host the Broncos, McDaniels, who has been with the team for a week, will watch the game from the Pats' coaching booth, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

That doesn't seem like a particularly controversial proposition … and yet it is.

When New England hired McDaniels last weekend, the immediate reaction from critics went something like this: "Wait, doesn't this give the Pats an unfair advantage? McDaniels has already faced the Steelers, Bengals and Ravens and he drafted Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas?!"

Of course, the Rams were winless against the AFC North teams mentioned above (and were blown out by Baltimore and Pittsburgh), and the reason McDaniels isn't in Denver is because he wasn't very good at his job. Not only that, but the Patriots stomped the Broncos in Week 15, 41-23, without McDaniels.

One more thing: NFL rules don't prohibit teams from hiring assistants at any point during the season. And if the Rams wanted to keep McDaniels in St. Louis, or at the very, least weren't interested in New England grabbing him in time for the playoffs, they could've denied the Pats the opportunity to talk to him. They didn't.

And now McDaniels is free to share all the "inside information" he's collected with New England as they try to stop Air Tebow.

This is a joke. Belichick doesn't need advice from the guy responsible for wrecking the Broncos from the inside. Not only that, the Pats' current offensive coordinator, Bill O'Brien, is still with the team, and he will be on the sidelines calling plays just as he has been on 16 previous occasions this season.

After an impressive overtime win over the Steelers last week, Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos will face off against the New England Patriots on Saturday. Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan have the preview. Watch the game on CBS at 8 PM ET. 

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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.

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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: January 13, 2012 9:01 pm

James Harrison not fined for hit on Tim Tebow

Moral victory: His team loses but Harrison avoids fine in final game of the year. (AP/Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

It took a week, but the Steelers finally have some good news to report. First, safety Troy Polamalu won his appeal for the $10,000 fine he faced for using a cell phone during a game back in October. And now it looks like linebacker James Harrison won't be any lighter in the wallet for his roughing-the-passer penalty on Tim Tebow during Sunday's playoff game.

For folks even half-paying attention to the NFL, Harrison's name is synonymous with words like "dirty" and "suspension." He was fined $100,000 in 2010 for various illegal hits on unsuspecting opponents, and he the league finally suspended him in 2011 after he knocked Browns quarterback Colt McCoy silly.

But we'd like to think that even Harrison's harshest critics can agree that the flag he received for shoving a 250-pound Tebow in the back was taking things a bit far, even for NFL's Public Enemy No. 1.

Of course, no game involving Harrison would be complete if he didn't do something controversial. In the first quarter, the Steelers linebacker went low on Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker. A perfectly legal hit and probably an attempt by Harrison to live within the rules laid down by the league: stay away from the heads and shoulders of defenseless receivers. The only problem: Decker suffered a knee injury, had to be helped from the field, and he won't play this weekend, either.

Still, even Broncos vice president of football operations John Elway didn't have an issue with Harrison's play.

"Because of the fact that he's been fined so often, [Harrison] really had no other option. ... I don't think he intended to hurt Eric. But obviously because of the situations he's been in, he had to go low and stay away from the head. And it ended up costing an MCL sprain for Eric."

So while the officials may have wrongly penalized Harrison for his hit on Tebow, they also missed at least two facemask penalties committed against the Dever quarterback. Ultimately, it didn't matter. The Broncos' from-outta-nowhere high-powered aerial assault wasn't fazed by a couple no-calls or, for that matter, fancy new overtime rules. Next up: the New England Patriots who, if we're being honest, would've much rather faced the Steelers this weekend.
In other "hey, we aren't getting fined?!" news, the NFL confirmed to ProFootballTalk.com that Cincinnati’s Reggie Nelson, Houston’s Antonio Smith, Detroit’s Amari Spievey and the New York GiantsJacquian Williams, all flagged for personal-foul penalties last weekend, won't be required to write the league a check for their actions.

After an impressive overtime win over the Steelers last week, Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos will face off against the New England Patriots on Saturday. Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan have the preview. Watch the game on CBS at 8 PM ET. 

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Posted on: January 13, 2012 7:02 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2012 7:03 pm

Dolphins owner 'not discouraged' about Fisher

Miami owner Stephen Ross says next coach 'with something to prove is going to be better' than Fisher. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

It took a while, but Jeff Fisher finally made a decision Friday, choosing the Rams over the Dolphins as his next head-coaching destination.

Miami owner Stephen Ross has now lost out on his top candidate two years running. Last offseason, Jim Harbaugh opted to say in the Bay Area instead of moving to South Beach, and the 49ers, 13-3 and division champs during the regular season, are still in the playoffs. But Ross says he's "not discouraged at all" by the latest snub.

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“I have mixed feelings [about Fisher choosing St. Louis over Miami],” Ross told the Sun Sentinel's Dave Hyde. “But I feel very confident we’ll find the best man for this organization. I feel very good about it. I’m not discouraged at all.”

Also worth pointing out: the Dolphins don't have a 1a) after Fisher. It's not quite back-to-the-drawing board time, but there aren't any big names on the list, either. That's not necessarily a bad thing, just the reality in Miami right now.

The club released a statement Friday afternoon admitting what everyone already knew ("We did have conversations with Jeff Fisher about becoming the head coach of the Dolphins.") before trying to assuage fans' concerns about the team's immediate future ("We are excited about those people under consideration, and we are confident that the individual we eventually select will be the right person to lead this football team.”)

CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Chris Perkins provides details:

"Miami’s next head coach could come from a group of interviewees that includes Todd Bowles, the interim coach; Dave Toub, Chicago’s special teams coach; and Joe Philbin, Green Bay’s offensive coordinator. It’s conceivable Miami could extend its coaching search beyond its interviewees. Mike Mularkey accepted the Jacksonville job."

Perkins adds: "Interestingly, all the former full-time Miami coaches that aren’t retired have relatively high-profile jobs. Tony Sparano was recently named the New York Jets’ offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron. is Baltimore’s offensive coordinator, Nick Saban just won a national title with Alabama, and Dave Wannstedt is Buffalo’s defensive coordinator. Don Shula and Jimmy Johnson are retired and aren't coming back to coaching."

Not to worry, though. The owner of a team that has made one playoff appearance since 2002, and last won a playoff game in 2000 feels good about the franchise's future.

"It's funny, in the back of my mind, I've really believed you go with people who have something to prove and are younger. That's how I've always worked in my business. I was always fighting that idea in my mind while I was talking to (Fisher). Something told me if I get someone like him with that experience it'd be good. At the same time, I don't feel lost. I believe someone really good who has something to prove is going to be better."

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Posted on: January 13, 2012 5:06 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2012 5:22 pm

Rex Ryan takes his turn defending Mark Sanchez

Sparano wants to get Sanchez back to 'square one.' (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

Rex Ryan spoke to the media Friday, ostensibly to introduce new Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. The head coach also spent a non-trivial part of the conference call speaking to the quotes from anonymous teammates about quarterback Mark Sanchez, who was described as "lazy" and a "baby."

Nightmare in New York
On Wednesday, center Nick Mangold came out in support of Sanchez, and owner Woody Johnson did the same a day later. And on Friday, it was Ryan's turn.

“I don’t know how many that don’t feel confident in Mark Sanchez,” he said according to the Newark Star-Ledger. “I’ll tell you this, if it’s not all of them, it’s the majority of our football team has a great deal confidence in Mark Sanchez. And when he walks through that door, his head is going to be held high, there’s no question about it. That’s what I know.”

Well, we know it's not "all of them" because of Santonio Holmes' Week 17 temper tantrum. But we take your point, Rex.

The embattled head coach also addressed the unsourced nature of the comments.

"An anonymous source, or whatever it is, doesn’t speak on behalf of the entire football team; doesn’t put his name to a quote and things like that. Believe me, there's a lot of people that I know specifically -- a ton of our players, and everybody in this organization, in my opinion, that has a great deal of belief and admiration for Mark Sanchez."

Whether Ryan actually believes what he's saying shouldn't obscure the bigger message: if you're willing to publicly blast your teammate but aren't willing to take responsibility for it, you're a coward.

During the team's end-of-year press conference last week, general manager Mike Tannenbaum admitted that Sanchez needs to play better. He echoed those sentiments Friday, though expressed them more diplomatically.

"He needs to be more consistent, and he'd be the first one to tell you that," Tannenbaum said. "With that being said, he's done a lot of good things over three years, and we're going to learn from where he can be better, and we’ll move forward. Having Coach Sparano here, we’re excited about those two guys working together."

And lest you fear that Sparano may be in over his head since he's never previously been a coordinator ... well, fear not. 

"I called plays in Dallas during that period of time, working with Coach Parcells," he said according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Lisa Zimmerman.

There's more:"We’’ll be explosive. We’ll be able to get it down the field," Sparano said, presumably not having watched the Jets-Dolphins regular-season finale.  

Sparano's optimism aside, here's the reality: Sanchez is entering his fourth NFL season. If he doesn't show marked improvement in 2012, he and Ryan both could be looking for new gigs 12 months from now.

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Posted on: January 13, 2012 10:46 am
Edited on: January 13, 2012 10:50 am

Podcast: Laurent Robinson, Film Room Previews

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

We get things started by welcoming Cowboys wide receiver Laurent Robinson to the podcast. It's fair to say that Robinson came out of nowhere this season to catch 54 passes for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns. By the time it was over, he was third on the team in receptions (behind Jason Witten and Dez Bryant) and the team leader in TD grabs.

We talked to him about his nomination for Vizio's Top Value Performer award, if the Cowboys are finally prepared to make the playoffs next year, where Tony Romo ranks among NFL quarterbacks, and if we should all give Jason Garrett a break.

Eye on Football analyst Andy Benoit joins us for the second half of the show to break down the Xs and Os for each divisional matchup, which will hopefully prove more compelling than last week's wild-card games.

(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.)

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: January 12, 2012 11:46 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 11:55 pm
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