Posted on: December 4, 2011 4:02 pm

Raiders don't show up in Miami

MIAMI -- They are in first place, but are the Oakland Raiders any good?

Who the heck knows? 

The Raiders sure didn't look like it Sunday in getting blown out by the Miami Dolphins at SunLife Stadium.

The Raiders couldn't stop the Dolphins. The Raiders couldn't move the football. The Raiders looked lifeless.

One week after beating the Chicago Bears, Oakland had a severe letdown and seemed to leave something out of their luggage on their long trip East: Their hearts.

Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer, who had seemed to get into a groove the past couple of weeks, looked terrible against the Dolphins, opening up the debate again as to whether trading for Palmer was worth it. He was picked for a touchdown in the third quarter by linebacker Kevin Burnett, adding the last stink bomb for a Raiders team that was putrid.

The first-place Oakland Raiders. Sure didn't seem like it Sunday.

Category: NFL
Posted on: December 1, 2011 6:17 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2011 6:18 pm

Week 13 Matchups to watch: Tebow vs. Ponder

Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow vs. Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder -- Even though they won't be on the field at the same time, this is a battle to watch. These two young quarterbacks went against each other a lot in college, Tebow at Florida, Ponder at FSU. Tebow has received a ton of hype, so you know Ponder wants to show him who the better quarterback is in this game.

Texans outside linebacker Connor Barwin vs. Falcons right tackle Tyson Clabo -- Barwin is coming off a four-sack game against the Jaguars, and he spent the day in the backfield. He is a relentless player who will battle all day. In Clabo, he will find a guy just as intense. Clabo is considered one of the tougher tackles in the league. He did a nice job on Brian Robison last week. This will be intense.

Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks vs. Packers cornerback Tramon Willams  -- Williams limited Calvin Johnson to four catches last week, proving he is back from a shoulder injury that bothered him early this season. Nicks is the Giants' big-play threat, so look for Williams to spend the day on him in man coverage.

Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller vs. Vikings tackle Phil Loadholdt and Charley Johnson  -- Miller has emerged as an explosive edge rusher in his rookie season. He's also good against the run. He moves around in terms of where he lines up, so the two Vikings tackles have to play well to keep him off Ponder.

Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins vs. Steelers inside players -- Atkins has been playing at a Pro Bowl level and has dominated some good inside players. The Steelers need to get good games from right guard Ramon Foster to handle Atkins.

Falcons defensive end John Abraham vs. Texans left tackle Duane Brown -- Brown has struggled at times with good pass rushers, although he has been better this season. Abraham can be a tough assignment with his speed off the edge. With T.J. Yates starting, Brown has to win to keep the rookie clean.

Lions defensive end Cliff Avril vs. Saints right tackle Zach Strief -- Avril had a good game against Bryan Bulaga last week. Bulaga came in not having giving up a sack, and Avril got one. Strief isn't as good as Bulaga, but he played well against the Giants pass rushers last week. It's tough to get to Drew Brees since he get the ball out, but Avril has to influence him some to slow him down.

Bengals receiver A.J. Green vs. Steelers corner Ike Taylor  -- Taylor has done a good job on some receivers in man coverage this season. Green hurt his leg in the first meeting after catching a touchdown pass and wasn't as effective as he could have been. This will be a tougher challenge for Taylor.

Browns left tackle Joe Thomas vs. Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs --Thomas is considered one of the better tackles in the league. He is good in pass protection. Suggs is one of the better pass rushers, but sometimes can disappear in lesser games. It will be interesting to see how motivated he is here after showing up big against the 49ers.

Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe vs. Bears cornerback Charles Tillman -- Bowe got ripped for short-arming a late throw in the Chiefs loss to the Steelers, and rightfully so. But he is still the Chiefs top target. Tillman is the Bears best cover player and has had some really good games. I expect to see him on Bowe some in man coverage, even if the Bears do play a lot of Cover-2 zone.

Category: NFL
Tags: Week 13
Posted on: November 29, 2011 9:04 am
Edited on: November 29, 2011 12:45 pm

Del Rio done in by offensive style

Jack Del Rio is proof of what happens when you are married to an outdated offense.

You can't win.

When Del Rio was hired as coach, owner Wayne Weaver said, "No more three yards and a cloud of dust."

Only problem is that now they have a two-yards-and-punt offense.

Del Rio was fired Tuesday, and it's been a long time coming. His teams became an offenisve eyesore over the years. The offense this season is last in the league -- and it's not close.

Even though it was thought Del Rio had lost his edge, in the end it was the way Del Rio played offense that led to his downfall. He was run-centric in a league where you can't be.

Defensive coordiantor Mel Tucker becomes the team's interim coach, and he's a good coach. But this team has to get better on offense. It has to be built around the pass, like the other good teams.

Tucker will get consdieration for the top job, but I imagine the next coach will be an offensive guy.

The last nine years will tell you the reason why.

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 29, 2011 9:00 am
Edited on: November 29, 2011 11:33 am

Did Del Rio lose his drive?

Jack Del Rio is gone in Jacksonville, and it's been a long time coming.

Del Rio's wasn't liked inside the building the past couple of years, and there were many inside who felt once he got paid his big contract he lost the zest for being a head coach.

According to sources, Del Rio was coming into the office this year at around 9 a.m. most days and leaving early.

That rubbed his staff the wrong way. It rubbed the front office the wrong way.

It even became a bit of a joke inside the building as the time he entered the building was noted some days by the staff.

I never expected Del Rio to be fired during the season because that's not the way owner Wayne Weaver works. But his actions the past couple of months made it happen -- not the record.

Interim coach Mel Tucker has done a great job with his defense. Tucker is highly regarded inside the building. Does he have a chance to keep the job permanently? 

Probably not, but anyone who would get the job would be wise to take a look at keeping him as the defensive coordinator.

A team looking for one should also consider him.

Del Rio was 69-73 in Jacksonville with one playoff victory. Those are the numbers that get you fired a long time ago. He lasted too long, much to the chagrin of the fans and many inside the building.

It didn't help that he stopped being as passionate about his job as he was early in his tenure.

I liked Del Rio. But there were times he was too stubborn, married to an outdated offense that never seemed to get with the times. He was considered arrogant and inflexible. That doesn't win over friends in the building, and it didn't help he threw coaches under the bus.

Don't feel sad for him. He's made a lot of money as Jaguars coach and is owed $5 million next year. Del Rio will be fine.

Will the franchise? 

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 28, 2011 11:35 pm

Saints look Super against Giants

NEW ORLEANS  -- Pay attention, Green Bay. There's another offensive powerhouse down here in the Bayou, one that chucks it all over the place with a star passer just like you have.

As a reminder to the undefeated Packers that it won't be an easy waltz to the Super Bowl, the 8-3 New Orleans Saints put on an offensive clinic Monday night in blowing out the New York Giants at the Superdome.

Drew Brees did what he wanted to in the air and the Saints won easily as Brees threw four touchdown passes and made the Giants secondary look sadly horrible.

The Saints lost to the Packers on opening day, which seems a long time ago, but I get the feeling that won't be the last meeting this season.

Saints and Packers? First one to 450 passing yards wins.

It would be Brees vs. Aaron Rodgers, each with a Super Bowl ring and each on pace to break some of the league's benchmark records.

To steal a phrase from a certain linebacker: Can't wait.

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 28, 2011 1:48 pm

Monday Musings: Hot seats get hotter for coaches

The coaching seats are getting steaming hot under the butts of Jack Del Rio, Andy Reid and Norv Turner.

My guess is this: Turner and Del Rio get fired, but Reid stays.

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver basically said the decision on Del Rio is for another time, but that time will come after the season. Del Rio had to get to the playoffs to save his job, and he doesn't exactly have a great reputation with people inside the building.

The Jaguars need to hire an offensive coach to help Blaine Gabbert develop. One name that is possible: Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. 

In San Diego, it's hard to imagine Turner coming back after his team has lost six straight games. Former Titans coach Jeff Fisher would make sense as a replacement and I could see the Jaguars also talking to Fisher.

Reid is hurt by the Dream Team talk before the season. But hasn't he built up enough cache' to warrant coming back. I know Eagles fans want him gone, but I think he comes back for another year.

Other firings that might happen: Jim Caldwell (Colts), Tony Sparano (Dolphins), Todd Haley (Chiefs) and Steve Spagnuolo (Rams).

The problem is there aren't many candidates as replacements out there -- especially on offense. Some defensive guys who could get shots are Rob Ryan (Cowboys defensive coordinator) and Chuck Pagano (Ravens defensive coordinator).

----DeSean Jackson needs to grow up. His season-long pouting about not getting a new contract has cost him millions. It's also affected his play. He dropped two touchdown passes against the Patriots Sunday and was actually benched. I love the kid's speed, but when he hits the free-agent market this spring teams will shy away from him because of his attitude. Even when the Eagles didn't give him a new deal, why didn't he just go in and work to get one? That was really stupid, if you ask me.

---So Drew Rosenhaus says some team wants to sign Terrell Owens. As somebody sent me on Twitter: Does he mean a legal team? Owens is in hot water for allegedly not paying his child-support payments. Owens looked like he was a broken-down racehorse at his workout in California. Who wants that as their receiver? Move on, go the Hall, and that's that.

---So let me see: If Devin Hester is already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, should we start getting a bust ready for Patrick Peterson? The Arizona Cardinals rookie corner now has four punt returns for touchdowns this season, tying a league record. All of them have been over 80 yards, the first time that's happened. That's why we have to slow down on the Hester-to-the-Hall talk.

---I really like Bills receiver Stevie Johnson. He's one of those self-made players who has developed into a big-time player. But he crossed the line when he mocked Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the leg. There's no way he could justify that. Johnson apologized, and I'm sure he will do the same to Burress, but he cost his team 15 yards that led to a Jets touchdown. You have to be smarter than that.

---Why does it always seem like it's "Good Rex, Bad Rex" for Rex Grossman. He throws for 314 yards and two touchdowns against Seattle, but he's picked off twice on bad throws that make you wonder what he's doing. Give him credit because he made the play to win the game. Good Rex, Bad Rex.

---After being tight end-oriented the past few weeks, the Patriots got their receivers involved against the Eagles. Wes Welker had eight catches for 115 yards and two scores, while Deion Branch had six catches for 125. That's big for the Patriots moving forward. If only they had some deep speed.

---Down 10 late in the game against Atlanta, the Vikings faced a fourth-and-goal from the 1. So coach Leslie Frazier opted to go for it. Why? You need to get a field goal somewhere. The Falcons stuffed the play, and the Vikings were done. By not getting the field goal there, the Vikings ended their chances. I see coaches do that all the time. Take the field goal.

---It had to infuriate the Bills seeing former first-round pick Aaron Maybin getting two sacks for the Jets against them Sunday. The Bills cut Maybin this year and that's by a team that has pass-rush issues.

---Von Miller, get that shelf ready for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. It is yours. His play to stuff a third-down run behind the line helped the Broncos force the Chargers into attempting a 53-yard field goal in overtime instead of one under 50. Nick Novak missed the kick and the Broncos went from there and won it.

---I know Matt Hasselbeck threw the game-winning score for the Titans against the Bucs, and they are 6-5, but I see too many issues. Aqib Talib picked him off and went for a touchdown on a throw young quarterbacks make, not veterans like him.

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 24, 2011 3:28 pm
Edited on: November 24, 2011 3:28 pm

Packers have perfect look

DETROIT -- The Green Bay Packers are going undefeated in the regular season.

I wasn't sure about that, but looking at their schedule and watching them abuse the Detroit Lions Thursday, I am convinced of it.

Those old-time Miami Dolphins might want to sweat some now. Even they have to know. It's going to happen.

The Packers weren't their usual high-flying offensive show for much of the game, but they turned it on in the third quarter, got three interceptions, including one that set up a touchdown at point-blank range, and they left Ford Field with an impressive victory.

The Lions were supposed to be one of those teams that could ruin a chance at perfection.

That's laughable now.

Green Bay could still lose a playoff game or the Super Bowl, but as far as the regular season get ready for them to win them all.

Sixteen and oh is coming.

Get ready for it.

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 23, 2011 7:38 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2011 12:51 pm

Week 12 Matchups to watch: Peppers vs. Veldheer

Bears defensive end Julius Peppers vs. Raiders left tackle Jared Veldheer -- Veldheer is coming off an impressive game against Jared Allen, holding him without a sack and to just two tackles.  Now he gets Peppers. What a two-game workload. This should be a real treat. Peppers also can play the run. If Oakland is to get the running game going, Veldheer has to handle him.

Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney vs. Panthers tackle Jordan Gross --Freeney is considered one of the game's best speed rushers, but he hasn't put up the sack numbers this season with the Colts rarely playing with the lead. Gross is a top-level pass protector who helps make the Panthers offense go. Gross can't let Freeney get it going. Then again, that would mean the Colts would likely have the lead, which they haven't had much this season.

Giants defensive ends vs. Saints tackles -- We've seen the Saints tackles struggle -- see St. Louis -- and it really impacted the offense. The Giants defensive line didn't do much last week against the Eagles, but with Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, they're capable of really getting after it. That will put a lot of pressure on Jermon Bushrod and Zach Strief to protect Drew Brees.

Bengals receiver A.J. Green vs. Browns cornerback Joe Haden -- These two faced off in college when Green was at Georgia and Haden at Florida. Green is coming back after missing last week with a leg injury. Haden played a lot of man last week against the Jaguars and was hit with two pass-interference penalties. But he has had a good season and he should spend the day on Green.

Steelers receiver Mike Wallace vs. Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers -- Flowers has battled back after a slow start to have a good season. That doesn't mean he won't be beat, but he plays a lot of man coverage. That's risky against Wallace, who can fly. He might be the fastest receiver in the NFL. One mistake and it will be a 70-yard touchdown.

Eagles defensive end Jason Babin vs. Patriots tackle Sebastian Vollmer -- Vollmer had big problems early last week with Tamba Hali of the Chiefs. Babin might not be as explosive as Hali, but he is a relentless player who doesn't quit. He will be there all day long.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski vs. Eagles safeties Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen -- Gronkowski is one of the best tight ends in the game. He has 10 touchdown catches and present big problems for smaller safeties, but is too fast for linebackers. Coleman isn't great in coverage, but Allen is pretty good. If Coleman gets matched up on Gronkowski, it could be trouble for the Eagles.

Category: NFL
Tags: NFL Week 12
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or