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Tag:Matt Forte
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 8, 2012 1:44 pm
 

Report: Texans, Foster no progress on new deal

Houston could wait until next offseason to address Foster's desire for a long-term contract. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Even if you've been half paying attention to our various soapbox sermons this season (and we fully understand if you've instead chosen to ignore us -- get in line), you're probably familiar with this one: teams shouldn't pay running backs big money because they're easy to replace. We've said ir in the past and brushed off the argument in August when Chris Johnson held out for a new deal.

The Titans eventually caved, Johnson woefully underperformed and those four months of mostly dreadful football no doubt has Tennessee questioning the decision, but it also ruined any chance that young backs now looking for new contracts would be able to cash in.

Matt Forte, Ray Rice and Arian Foster are all among the league's best runners. And by the time 2012 rolls around, they'll make substantially less than they might have just a few years ago for the reasons we described above.


Foster on Houston playoff victory. Rookie J.J. Watt returned an interception for a touchdown, and Andre Johnson and Arian Foster put the game away with second-half scores to power the Texans over the Cincinnati Bengals 31-10 on Saturday in the NFL playoffs.

Foster, who came into the league in 2009 as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee, began his career on the Texans' practice squad. He started one game as a rookie before going off last season, leading the league with 1,616 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. A hamstring injury limited Foster early in 2011, but by the time it was over he ran for 1,224 yards and 10 scores. In Houston's wild-card matchup against Cincinnati Saturday, Foster continued to make a case for just how important he is to this offense, rushing for 153 yards on 31 carries, including two touchdowns.

And yet, the Texans and Foster have "made zero progress" towards a long-term deal, a source tells ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio.

Foster will be a restricted free agent this offseason, which means that the Texans don't have to concern themselves with a multi-year contract just yet. Instead, they can sign him to a tender that what Florio suspects will be in the neighborhood of $3 million for 2012 and revisit things 12 months from now.

That'll be Foster's fourth professional season, which is something more than that when measured in running back years. By that point, Houston could chose to move in a different direction, one that involves Ben Tate, or perhaps address the position in free agency or the draft.

Still, Foster does have some leverage. Florio writes:

"If [he] receives a one-year tender offer, he’ll be entitled to hold out as long as he chooses, since he won’t be under contract. In theory, he could show up in Week 10, sign the tender, and get credit for his fourth season, becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2013."

Ultimately, however, the organization has more leverage. First, as we've mentioned a few million times, running backs are fungible. Second, Foster apparently wants to play football. He's not interested in sitting on the couch, Chris Johnson-style, while his agent bangs out a deal. Florio points out that Foster didn’t hesitate to sign his one-year tender offer in 2011, perhaps concerned that Tate might move up the depth chart in his absence.

Houston general manager Rick Smith has done a fantastic job of assembling the roster (particularly the 2011 defense, including coordinator Wade Phillips), but he'll have some decisions to make regarding Foster. If not this offseason, then certainly next offseason.

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Posted on: January 6, 2012 12:13 pm
 

Bears promote Mike Tice to offensive coordinator

By Will Brinson

The Bears recently decided to not invite offensive Mike Martz back for another season as offensive coordinator and announced on Friday the promotion offensive line coach (and former Vikings head coach) Mike Tice to the position.

Tice, entering his 16th season as an NFL coach, was hired as the offensive line coach before the 2010 season in Chicago. The Bears offensive line isn't exactly renown for their high-level of talent and for the early part of both 2010 and 2011, Jay Cutler spent the better part of the season on his back, ducking defenders who waltzed through the protection schemes in Chicago.

But Tice deserves credit for his adjustments, as the offensive line dramatically improved over the course of the season.

In telling news, the Bears pointed out in their press release that Tice "interviewed for the position with coach Lovie Smith on Thursday," indicating that Lovie's gig for the upcoming season is, in fact, safe.

Latest Coaching Rumors, News

Tice's five years as Minnesota's coach indicate precisely what kind of difference we should expect to see from the Bears offense going forward: only once did the Vikings, even with Daunte Culpepper under center, rank in the top-10 in passing attempts. Twice they ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in rushing attempts, and in all but one of those years, the Bears ranked in the top 10 in yards per rushing attempt. (Certainly worth noting: Daunte Culppeper piled up some rushing yards as well.)

In other words, while Martz was pass-pass-pass and then pass again, Tice is likely to be run-run-run and run again. It should be a stark contrast, and if the Bears can improve the offensive line and keep Matt Forte in town, it could be a more productive offense as well, even as the NFL shifts to more pass-happy offenses.

Certainly Cutler, who reportedly didn't want Martz back in the first place, should be happier. Or at least healthier.

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Posted on: January 5, 2012 11:41 am
Edited on: January 5, 2012 3:49 pm
 

Report: Cutler didn't want Martz back in Chicago

Martz, Cutler

By Josh Katzowitz

This might not surprise you, especially considering Jay Cutler dropped an F-bomb on former Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz, but, according to the Chicago Tribune, Cutler met with coach Lovie Smith and said he was in favor of moving on without Martz.

Cutler apparently met with Smith to give his opinion before Smith and Martz met to officially part ways. Martz’s contract was up anyway, but considering Cutler (among others in the organization) didn’t want Martz around, it seemed unlikely Martz would return for another season.

"Obviously I would sure like to be back,” Martz said last month. “I think all of that stuff works out. This is going to be a great football team and I would like to be a part of it. We’ll just see how it works out."

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Though Cutler had a standout season in Martz’s system, Martz, earlier in the year, didn’t seem all that concerned about keeping Cutler protected by the offensive line. In fact, Cutler was asked in September if he could survive the year, and he hoarsely said, “I don’t know. I don’t know."

Martz also didn’t make friends with Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte by using him in such an inconsistent matter that it led Forte to say he thought the Bears didn’t believe he's an elite player. And Martz didn’t come off great when he blamed backup Caleb Hanie for an interception on a play that probably shouldn’t have been called for such an inexperienced player in the first place.

Now, Smith will have to hire his third offensive coordinator in four years, and hopefully, Cutler will give his seal of approval.

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Posted on: December 28, 2011 9:00 pm
 

Lovie Smith refuses to answer query about Martz

Martz, Cutler

By Josh Katzowitz

With the Bears season nearing its end and with offensive coordinator Mike Martz in the final year of his contract, this question, put to coach Lovie Smith, seems awfully legit and somewhat obvious: So, are you bringing back Martz next season?

Thing is, Smith didn’t see it that way.

“What kind of question is that anyway, at this time?" Smith demanded, writes Rapid Reporter Gene Chamberlain. "What kind of question is that? Why would you ask a question like that anyway?"

Will Martz return?
Well, the reason why it was asked is fairly understandable, but sadly, Smith didn’t answer the question. When reporters asked Martz about the same subject, he was slightly more pleasant about answering the query.

"Obviously I would sure like to be back. I think all of that stuff works out," he said. "This is going to be a great football team and I would like to be a part of it. We’ll just see how it works out."

Martz hasn’t had the most pleasing of years. He and quarterback Jay Cutler made big news when Cutler fired a “F--- him” at Martz after he and his coach disagreed on a playcall. Martz also was criticized plenty when he seemed to forget about Matt Forte (who, ahem, made the Pro Bowl) by calling for passes on 52 of 63 total plays in a bad loss to the Saints early this season and by not designing plays to keep Cutler out of the arms of defenders (Cutler was asked in September if he could survive the year, and he hoarsely said, “I don’t know. I don’t know.”)

Martz also didn’t get much out of backup Caleb Hanie and then later blamed Hanie’s execution for a tough play-call that Martz probably had no business asking for in the first place.

While Martz is easy to criticize, the Bears offense hasn’t been THAT bad with him in charge. Chicago ranks 16th in the league in points and 20th in yards gained, which is certainly an improvement on last year when they were 21st and 30th, respectively, under Martz.

So, will he be back? Hopefully, Smith feels like answering that question next week when the season is over.

Also on Wednesday, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said he was impressed enough by Josh McCown’s appearance in his first start with the team last Sunday that he wouldn’t mind considering McCown as Cutler’s backup for next year.

“In Josh’s case, he came in here late,” Angelo told the team website, via the Chicago Tribune. “He did a real nice job. He did have a familiarity with the offense, so it wasn’t like he was brand new. He was new to us, but not new to the offense, and he showed that. We’ll have time to make that decision, and hopefully we’re going to see another good performance Sunday.”

The only other question, I guess, is whether Martz will be around next season to help make that decision.  Or as Smith would say, "Why would you even make that comment, anyway?!?"

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Posted on: December 27, 2011 5:46 pm
 

Bears officially end seasons for Cutler, Forte

J. Cutler and M. Forte both went on the IR list (US Presswire).

By Josh Katzowitz

It’s official. The seasons for Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte are finished, as the team announced today that both have been placed on the Injured Reserve list.

Now that the Bears have been knocked out of the playoff picture for good, this move was to be expected.

Though Cutler -- who broke his thumb in Week 11, which inevitably allowed Chicago to go from a 7-3 playoff contender to a 7-8 hopeless cause that has nothing to play for in Week 17 -- had said earlier this month there was an “outside chance” he could play vs. the Packers, that was an unrealistic goal.

That game occurred last week, and the only reason backup Caleb Hanie wasn’t on the field playing that day was because he had been so bad in his previous starts that Chicago, instead, started a man who, not long ago, was coaching high school football.

And the crazy thing about it was that Josh McCown, while certainly not on the same level as Cutler, was galaxies ahead of Hanie and performed relatively well on the road in Green Bay.

Meanwhile, Forte, who had made his desires for a contract extension widely known (and for good reason), wasn’t planning to return to the game unless he was 100 percent (also for good reason) after injuring his knee Dec. 3.

"These injuries, they usually take four to six weeks [to heal] they say," Forte said on Dec. 18. "And this will only be week three. I'm not going to rush to get back on the field and play while I'm hurt, because (if) you're not at 100 percent you may injure it even more if you do that."

Left unsaid was this: “Yeah, I’m not going to play, because there’s no way I’m going to put my knee on the line after I've already hurt it for a team that doesn’t pay a deserving player.”

Either way, both can begin looking forward to next season and trying to build another playoff run that won’t get spiked because of significant injuries.

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Posted on: December 25, 2011 11:47 pm
 

Packers win again, but have some issues

K. Bell gained 121 yards in Chicago's loss to Green Bay (AP).By Josh Katzowitz

Not many people gave the Bears much of a chance to upset the Packers on Sunday night. Not with Chicago missing its first-string quarterback, starting a guy who was coaching high school football not so long ago, and playing a third- and fourth-string running back in place of Matt Forte.

But Chicago’s Josh McCown was more than solid, running back Kahlil Bell looked fantastic and Chicago played evenly with the Packers in the first half (and ultimately outgained Green Bay 441-364). But the Packers did what the Packers do and dominated the second half to finish off Chicago 35-21 and secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Before we anoint the Packers an automatic Super Bowl team, though, they still have issues they need to correct. Here are three that the Bears helped expose tonight.

Run defense: It’s easy to talk about how (statistically) poor the Packers pass defense is (though Green Bay has faced the second-most pass attempts in the league this season, so the statistics look a little worse than they should), but the run defense isn’t all that wonderful either.

Without Ryan Pickett, who was out with a head injury, in the lineup, the Packers showcased a major weakness through the entire first half. Bell -- the Bears third-string running back -- looked like an All-Pro, gaining 89 yards on 14 carries in the first half (he finished with 121 yards). Last year on their run to the Super Bowl, the Packers allowed 114.9 rushing yards per game, ranking 18th in the NFL. This year, after Sunday’s game, they give up 114.4 yards per contest, ranking 16th.

Listen, that’s not terrible. But against a Bears team that was one-dimensional, starting a third-string quarterback, the Packers knew Chicago would have to rely on its running game. Green Bay just couldn’t stop it. Against most teams, the Packers offense doesn’t allow that to matter, but in the playoffs, when Green Bay could be facing a top-notch defense like the 49ers, this could become a major hole.

Week 16 recap
Makeshift offensive line: The line actually played well vs. a Bears defense that boasts Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Julius Peppers. Marshall Newhouse handled Peppers well, and despite missing left tackle Chad Clifton and right tackle Bryan Bulaga, the Bears garnered just one sack. But this is potentially a problem in the future, because you can’t expect Newhouse and T.J. Lang, normally a guard, to keep up that pace in replacing Clifton and Bulaga.

Besides, without the starting tackles in there, Rodgers looks to make quick passes or get out in space on play-action. If Clifton, who’s been out since Week 5 with a bad hamstring, and Bulaga (a sprained knee last week who might not return until the postseason) can be back for the playoffs, that probably would make Rodgers -- who was sacked four times in last week’s loss to the Chiefs -- feel better.

Running game: Twice, in the span of one series, the Packers running back busted up a play and forced Aaron Rodgers to scramble a few yards and then fall down to avoid danger. Once, it was Ryan Grant, once it was James Starks and both times Rodgers couldn’t have been happy.

Starks and Grant were basically invisible anyway. They combined to record 57 yards on 14 carries, and overall, the Packers run game ranks 27th in the NFL. Even if the Packers become the most one-dimensional team in the league, it probably won’t matter with Rodgers running the team. But if he struggles in the playoffs or gets injured, Green Bay could be in trouble.

But Clay Matthews made a good point after the game in regards to how these issues could affect the team in the future.

“When you have a quarterback like that,” Matthews said on NBC, “you’re allowed to make a couple mistakes.”

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Posted on: December 24, 2011 7:37 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 1:43 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 16: Cam's the GOAT

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action, figures out the winners and losers and asks the big questions. Slightly condensed version this week as it's the holidays. No podcast, no picture of the week and only eight questions. Blame Mrs. Brinson if you're so inclined. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter.

The Greatest Rookie Season Ever?

That's right. The greatest rookie season ever is precisely what Cam Newton's going to wrap up in Week 17 against the Saints a game of no real consequence when it comes to his legacy as the best rookie in NFL history.

There should be no argument that Cam's season, even without the final week, goes down as the greatest season by a rookie quarterback in history. He has the record for most passing yards in a season (again, with a week to go) by a rookie. He has the record for most passing yards in a game by a rookie. He has the record for most rushing touchdowns in a season by any quarterback.

Of the seven rookie quarterbacks with 3,000 passing yards, Newton doesn't have the most passing touchdowns, but he doesn't have the most interceptions either. There shouldn't be any question that his rookie year is the greatest by any quarterback.

As far as other rookies go, you could argue for Eric Dickerson (more than 2,000 total yards and 20 touchdowns in 1983), Dick Lane (14 interceptions, two pick sixes for Night Train in 1952), Randy Moss (17 touchdowns and 1,313 receiving yards in 1998) or Lawrence Taylor (9.5 sacks -- before they were even counted -- in 1981) if you want.

But none of those guys dealt with the complexities of running an offense. None of those guys dealt with a lockout-shortened offseason. None of those guys performed the way they did under the intense scrutiny of 2011 Twitteratiland. None of those guys carried the expectations of the No. 1 overall pick who was supposed to save a franchise ... or cost a GM his job simply because no one was sure how good they'd be. None of those guys inspired the fierce debate that Newton did leading up to being drafted.

Cam's rejuvenated a franchise that was dead in the water and he might be a top-10 quarterback in the NFL right now. It's been a marvel to watch him perform and it's insane to think that there was a debate as to whether or not the Panthers should take him.

Winners

Matthew Stafford: The Lions are in the playoffs. That's worthy of "winner inclusion" all by itself. But the Lions were secretly facing a pretty bad situation, with the white-hot Chargers and the very good Packers over the next two weeks. 9-7 and getting snuck out of the playoffs wasn't out of the question at all. Until Stafford got his surgical precision on and shredded the San Diego secondary, going 29 of 36 with 373 yards and three touchdowns. Stafford's next up for the "is he or isn't he elite" debate.

Pete Prisco
: Yes, my CBSSports.com colleague and former life coach (Pete doesn't know it, but I fired him when he suggested I not wear socks with my loafers). Prisco's the only guy that I know of who refused to budge off his negative stance of Tebow during the Broncos winning streak. There might be an argument that Pete's stubborn and you might be inclined to call him a "hater" but with the way that Tebow egged on Saturday, there are going to be a LOT of people ripping him over the next week. And Prisco's the only one of those people who's stood his ground the whole time.

Kevin Kolb:
The Cardinals were eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday and that means Kolb avoided his worst possible nightmare. That would be "John Skelton marching Arizona to an improbable postseason run and the team deciding to bail on Kolb's albatross of a contract." Instead, Arizona now plays out the string and regroups for 2012, likely with Kolb as the starting quarterback for at least another year.

Matt Forte
: What's that, you say? Forte didn't play on Saturday. Oh, I know that. I also know that if the Vikings hadn't handed Adrian Peterson a monster contract before the 2011 season, things would be awkward right about now. Over the past month, the Bears have collapsed without Forte and Jay Cutler, meaning he's beefed up his leverage as an important player for the franchise and, with the Peterson injury, justified his rationale for wanting a new contract.

Jerome Simpson: Did you see his touchdown catch?

Turner's time might be up in San Diego. (US Presswire)

Losers

Norv Turner: A lot of credit goes to the Lions for the way they played on Saturday. Detroit is a very good team and a formidable opponent. But how can the Chargers not show up, especially knowing that the Broncos lost and that they were either a Bengals/Jets pair of losses or a Broncos loss in Week 17 away from making the playoffs? That's still not "controlling your own destiny" but out of everyone who was gifted an early Christmas present during the early games on Sunday, Turner and the Chargers were probably the luckiest. A 24-0 halftime deficit in the most critical game of the season isn't going to inspire any Spanos family members to keep their pink slips tucked away.

Jason Garrett
: No one's going to blame him for losing to Philly. That's what happens with Stephen McGee under center. But holy cow does Garrett have the hardest decision -- and the most scrutiny -- of his short career coming up over the next week. The Giants and Cowboys will play in Week 17, with a trip to the postseason and a division championship on the line. Tony Romo will almost certainly play, but will he be effective? Can Garrett gameplan in order to play to Romo's injury? Will he cough up a shot at the postseason? These are the ways we will judge him after next week's game. And by "we" I obviously mean "Jerry Jones and his potentially angry family."

Adrian Peterson
: AP's leg injury on Sunday was so brutal that I even feel like a jerk putting him in the "losers" section. But if you saw the horrific nature of Peterson's injury, you know precisely why he's not feeling like a winner right now. The Vikings announced after the game that it was a sprained knee but -- all due respect to Minnesota -- that's just not believable at all. The multiple reports that it's a torn ACL (and potentially worse) make a lot more sense. It's just sad that Peterson could miss significant time because he was playing in a meaningless game for a three-win team.

Rex Ryan: Ryan spent all week running his mouth about the New York-New York rivalry and when push came to shove, his guy Mark Sanchez fumbled on the Giants goal line and threw a "pass" to an offensive lineman that resulted in a safety in a devastating loss on Saturday. The Darrelle Revis/Antonio Cromartie combo got torched by Victor Cruz (that's his name, right?) and Brandon Jacobs got to say "It's time to shut up, fat boy." That's just embarrassing. Oh, right, and the Jets lost control of their own destiny with respect to the playoffs. It wouldn't be nearly as mortifying if Ryan hadn't run his mouth all week.

Pipedreams: Just like San Diego, the Eagles were very much a longshot to make the playoffs. But I'm telling you, there was a chance. Then the Giants killed that chance (adding to their winner-y-ness) with a win over the Jets. That means Week 17 is no longer a dream scenario for fans of long shots, because both early-season favorites are now removed from any chance of a postseason berth. You don't have to root for the Eagles or Chargers. In fact, you can root against them. But if you don't like ridiculous storylines and clowning around with playoff predictors then we're not friends.

The Big Questions

 
The new Tebow narrative could be awkward. (AP)

1. What's the new Tim Tebow narrative?
No, but it's on life support (and Prisco wants to pull the plug!). Look, Tebow can still win against Kansas City in Week 17, or even lose as long as the Chargers beat the Raiders. But think about how quickly this narrative could be absolutely flipped on its head: if Kyle Orton, the man Tebow replaced, beats Tebow in Week 17 because Tebow can't win late, and the Raiders beat the Chargers and make the playoffs, the Broncos new narrative will be as chokers. No, really, it will. And that is nuts when you consider where we were just two weeks ago.

2. Why does Leslie Frazier keep playing guys who are hurt?
NO CLUE. But this is a story that's flown under the radar for the past few weeks and it culminated with AP's injury against Washington, as well as the concussion that Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder suffered on Saturday. The Vikings are 3-12 after winning on Christmas Eve, but they didn't even need Peterson or Ponder to put up points -- it was all Joe Webb against the Redskins. Of course, winning, at this point, should be secondary. Frazier's top priority should be the health of his franchise quarterback and running back. Instead, these guys keep getting trotted out with injuries late in a lost season. That's not the sort of thing that keeps a job safe for long.

3. Did Raheem Morris get fired on Saturday?

Almost certainly. The Panthers went out and walloped Tampa Bay 48-16 in Charlotte, meaning that the Bucs lost their eighth game in a row.  Worse than the losses is the way they've happened: over the last four games, the Buccaneers have been outscored 158-64. They've given up 40 points to the Panthers and Jaguars and have topped 20 points just once since their trip to London in late October when things really started to unravel. It's an embarrassing collapse down the stretch and it's hard to blame the Glazer family and GM Mark Dominik when (not if) they fire Morris.

4. Anyone else getting fired?
Gotta think that Turner's done in San Diego now and that Romeo Crennel's the only interim hanging around. I can't buy that Jim Caldwell's saving his job so I'd add him to the list too. But I think any questions about Chan Gailey can now be reserved for a while, given the way he dismantled the Broncos on Sunday.

5.  Why should Tom Brady be worried?
Because his offensive lineman are dropping like flies. And while the Patriots are going to continue being good because that's what the Patriots do, there's absolutely cause for concern in New England if Logan Mankins and Matt Light are hurt for any length of time. As you may be aware, this isn't a team predicated on playing any sort of defense, and if they can't protect Tom Brady, there's little chance of them advancing in the postseason.

5. How mad are the 49ers?
Furious. And it doesn't matter that they won, because they gave up a rushing touchdown to Marshawn Lynch. They might hold the record for most games without one, but you know they wanted to make it the entire season. They did not.

6. Am I going to have to watch Matt Flynn on Christmas night?
Not as much as you might have feared. The 49ers won against the Seahawks on Saturday, and that means Green Bay hasn't clinched the top seed yet. Which means that Aaron Rodgers will stay in the game against the Bears for the entire game, barring an absolute Packers blowout.

7. Was Simpson's catch the play of the year?
Yup, it sure was. Maybe not the "play of the century" or anything insane like people are saying, but it was an absolutely bananas catch and it deserves incredible props. Watch -- it's going to be the type of thing you talk with your relatives about on Christmas. That's the way you can truly judge the greatness of a play.

8. Should Ben Roethlisberger play next week?
No. There's just no need. Joe Flacco and Ray Rice handled the Browns just fine in Week 16, and Charlie Batch/Rashard Mendenhall can do the same in Week 17. Rest the guy, run the ball, cross your fingers that Cincy can summon the strength to beat the Ravens on the road and let Roethlisberger rest.

GIF O' THE WEEK

I mean duh. Did you notice I liked it?



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