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NFL Quick Hits (Jan. 8): Jim Mora Fired After One Season

Published: January 8, 2010

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Jim Mora Done in Seattle

Mora lasted just one season in Seattle, as he guided the disappointing Seahawks to a 5-11 record and third place finish in the weak NFC West.

For more on Mora’s firing, click here .


Cleveland Sticking With Eric Mangini

After sitting down with Mike Holmgren in two separate meetings, both sides agree that the franchise was headed in the right direction, and the man to keep it going that way would be Mangini.

For more on Mangini and more NFL news, go here .


Anquan Boldin Doubtful For Sunday

Boldin has been doubtful all week and hasn’t practiced since being knocked out of Week 17’s match against the Green Bay Packers.

Widely known for his toughness and ability to play through injuries, it still doesn’t look very good for Boldin to make the Cardinals Wild Card game against Green Bay, as he deals with ankle and knee issues.

Monitor his status up until game-time tomorrow if you’re considering using him in playoff fantasy leagues. Despite the pessimistic diagnosis, we still wouldn’t count him out.


Randy Moss Misses Friday’s Practice

Moss has been spotted “limping around”, and after missing Friday’s practice, he’s at least questionable heading into New England’s Wild Card game against the Baltimore Ravens.

He’s still likely to play, especially with the loss of Wes Welker, but it’s clear he currently is not at 100 percent.

However, if the Patriots are to stand a chance against an under-rated Baltimore squad, Moss needs to be at the top of his game.


Jack Del Rio Still in Limbo

Not many details are know, but is reporting that Del Rio’s future will likely be determined in a meeting next week between him and Jacksonville’s owner, Wayne Weaver.

There isn’t much reason to keep Del Rio around, especially after his team dropped their final four games to miss the post-season. Except for, you know, that $15 million the Jaguars owe him over the next three years.


Marc Bulger Not Retiring?

In “who cares?” news, reports yesterday that has Rams quarterback Marc Bulger considering retirement have retracted, and now the report is that he fully intends on continuing his playing career.

He can do whatever he likes, but his monster salary coming in next season likely won’t be paid by St. Louis, and he’ll almost certainly be released.

Bulger has been fading for three straight years, and while he’s not completely to blame for his lack of production, his play shouldn’t inspire any other NFL teams to give him a shot as their starter.


Indy Running With Matt Stover, Not Vinatieri

The Colts have decided to run with the hot hand (or leg) in Matt Stover, choosing the 41-year old over Adam Vinatieri as their postseason kicker.

Vinatieri will remain on the active roster, but it’s clear Indy simply doesn’t trust his injured knee enough to throw Stover to the side.

Stover has been performing well, but could be rusty heading into the playoffs, as he will have gone five consecutive weeks without kicking a field goal in a game by the time the Colts play.

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2010 NFL Playoff Predictions: Minnesota Vikings Are Super Bowl Bound

Published: January 8, 2010

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If you missed our Wild Card preview (which has yet to be determined), go here . The outcome of those four games leads into this article, which dissects the eventual matchups and leads to a Super Bowl winner .

We didn’t really take the time to make a pick for the Super Bowl back in the preseason, so what better time than the present?

Here’s a look at the matchups that should follow the Wild Card round:



Divisional Round

Baltimore Ravens @ Indianapolis Colts

This game came down to the wire the last time these two teams met, and, like several other games the Ravens had and let slip away, Baltimore failed to win.

Still, it’s worth noting that based on competitiveness alone, the Ravens would have had a realistic chance at going 15-1 in 2009, had a few plays (or kicks) gone their way.

It’s hard to go against a Peyton Manning-led offense, especially when Baltimore’s secondary is so vulnerable, but this is where the upsets start. Indy has been the top dog all season, but three straight weeks with their starters not playing a full game will hurt them more than it will help them.

Ray Lewis and the Ravens claimed that they were the team that “no one wanted to see in the playoffs.” They might be right.

Ravens 26, Colts 23


Cincinnati Bengals @ San Diego Chargers

We know how these two teams match up, and it’s not likely to be pretty the second time around. Cincy couldn’t even knock off the Chargers with the death of Chris Henry fresh in their minds as motivation.

However, there’s a chance they simply had heavy hearts and that the Bengals’ dedicated rush offense will take it strong to the Chargers’ mediocre rush defense (20th in the league), while San Diego’s 31st ranked rush offense may be put to the test if Cincinnati’s strong pass defense can slow down Phillip Rivers and the pass attack.

While the formula exists for the Bengals to pull an upset, the Chargers are just too hot and Phillip Rivers is just too good.

Chargers 27, Bengals 21


AFC Championship

Baltimore Ravens @ San Diego Chargers

Baltimore was one of three teams that sent San Diego to the loss column this season, and while a huge win over the Colts will vault them into a realm of confidence they haven’t been in since their Super Bowl days, the Chargers are too hot, and will likely be out for a little revenge.

The Ravens have the rushing attack to run all over San Diego, but their passing game is a bit too inconsistent to trust against Eric Weddle and a stout Chargers pass defense.

The Chargers’ ground game will likely never get going against the Ravens’ stingy run defense, but Phillip Rivers has a good chance to stay hot against a sketchy Baltimore secondary.

It just wouldn’t be the NFL Playoffs if a Wild Card team didn’t make it this far. Regardless, San Diego survives, and gets to its first Super Bowl in over 15 years.

Chargers 31, Ravens 24



Divisional Round

Arizona Cardinals @ New Orleans Saints

Everyone in Wisconsin believes “without a doubt” that Arizona is done in the first round, but the new-age NFL Playoffs is about advantageous defense and offenses that can stretch the field.

The Cardinals aren’t absent of flaws, but their passing game is way too potent to bet against, especially with their hot playoff run and Super Bowl appearance last season in their favor.

The Saints have dropped three straight, have zero momentum, recently lost Charles Grant, and haven’t experienced a win in four weeks. Unfortunately for all the “Who Dat?” supporters, that drought goes to five.

Cardinals 34, Saints 31


Dallas Cowboys @ Minnesota Vikings

Tony Romo and the Cowboys have won three straight, pitched two consecutive shutouts to end the regular season, and after sweeping the Eagles (3-0) by beating them in the first round, they’ll be on top of the world.

However, Brett Favre and the Vikings just got their offensive mojo back, while the Minnesota defense showed signs of life in Week 17, as well.

If Antoine Winfield and Pat Williams are a “full go” after a week of rest, the Vikings’ defense could give Romo fits all day, while stifling the Cowboys seventh ranked rushing attack.

Brett Favre didn’t come all the way back to be one and done in the playoffs.

Vikings 30, Cowboys 17


NFC Championship

Arizona Cardinals @ Minnesota Vikings

This game puts the Cardinals into back-to-back NFC Championship games, giving them elite standing as a consistent team and a true Super Bowl threat.

In the first meeting between these two teams, the Cardinals blew the Vikings out of the water after halftime, and Favre and the Vikings looked completely lost.

However, there’s no arguing that Minnesota is a completely different machine at home (8-0), whereas they’ve had all their trouble on the road (4-4).

Arizona will have no trouble slugging it out and staying in the game with their array of weapons in the passing game, but the Vikings simply don’t give up much on their home field.

That, and Brett Favre has had a passer rating under 100 inside the dome just twice all season.

Vikings 37, Cardinals 24


Super Bowl

Minnesota Vikings @ San Diego Chargers

The hottest team in the league will go up against one of the most experienced and most balanced teams in the league.

Brett Favre and Co. could have early troubles against a stingy pass defense, but as long as the passing offense moves the ball, this could actually end up being all about Adrian Peterson.

The Chargers can’t really run the ball on anybody (31st in rush offense), while the Vikings generally stop just about everybody against the run when healthy (2nd in NFL ).

Brett Favre helped Minnesota get here, and he’ll likely still be a big part of the game, but Minnesota’s plan of attack is to set up Adrian Peterson by moving the ball through the air. If that strategy even remotely works, Peterson could have a field day against a very average San Diego run defense.

You can’t count out Phillip Rivers until the very end, however, and considering his team will have pulled off a winning streak of 13 straight games to get to this point, it’ll be hard to bet against the Chargers.

Still, it looks like a real possibility that Minnesota gets its first Super Bowl in five tries.

Vikings 27, Chargers 24

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Is Mike Shanahan the Answer for the Washington Redskins?

Published: January 7, 2010

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Norv Turner couldn’t do it. The guy that originally brought Washington two titles, Joe Gibbs, couldn’t get it done in his second try, either.

Few truly believed Jim Zorn, who had zero previous head coaching experience, was ready, so after all the Washington Redskins franchise has been through in the past 15-plus years, what makes anyone think Mike Shanahan will be any different?

The former Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos head coach brings in a proven offensive philosophy, one that helped him achieve a career record of 146-95 (8-5 in the postseason), as well as two Lombardi Trophies.

But the question is, in a city where money has attempted to buy everything (and everyone), what is there to make this time any different?

Before you rush to judgment that this is just another attempt at “buying” Washington success, take a look at the pieces to the puzzle.

The Redskins acquired Albert Haynesworth via free agency last offseason, and then watched their defense finish 16th against the run. Not spectacular, but considering Haynesworth and other players missed several games with injuries, it’s respectable.

The defense picked up the offense’s slack for most of the season, finishing 18th in points allowed, ninth in passing yards allowed, and 10th in total yards allowed.

Clearly the personnel is there on the field for the Redskins to continue, and possibly even improve, on their defensive rankings.

However, the Achilles heel for Washington all season (and all through Zorn’s tenure) was the inconsistency and predictability of a stale offense.

Zorn’s lack of creativity (or too much of it) on offense hindered the growth of Jason Campbell, and in turn affected a once promising rushing attack.

The Redskins finished 16th in passing yards (their only positive), as Campbell took off after Zorn was stripped of play-calling duties. Their rush attack was fairly dormant the entire season as well, finishing just 27th in the league, while ranking 22nd overall on offense as a team.

And in points scored? A dismal 26th.

Needless to say, Washington was a team with a solid defense that was victim of poor play-calling and decision-making.

In comes Shanahan, the proposed offensive guru who made Jay Cutler into a 4,500-plus yard passing quarterback, made Jake Plummer look like an elite passer, and helped an aging John Elway win two Super Bowls before his retirement.

But can he help Washington?

The answer is yes, and possibly a lot quicker than people think.

Shanahan is a quarterback guru. That doesn’t mean Jason Campbell can look forward to a bright future. He simply isn’t Shanahan’s guy.

But Campbell will immediately find more success than he ever had under Zorn or Gibbs, while Shanahan brings in his own guy through the 2010 NFL Draft and grooms him behind Campbell.

And as for that powerful and extremely effective zone-blocking scheme that Shanahan made so popular while in Denver, you can safely assume it will be back.

Whether or not former Denver back Clinton Portis is around to reap the benefits is another discussion on its own.

But if history is honest, then Shanahan coming on is the missing link that is keeping this team from being competitive.


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Josh Cribbs Formally Requests Trade

Published: January 7, 2010

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The agent for Browns WR/KR, Josh Cribbs, has confirmed his client’s desire to be traded.

Under new direction (Mike Holmgren), the Brown’s front office has reportedly offered Josh Cribbs a feeble raise to just $1.4 million per year, which Cribbs and his agent apparently scoffed at.

“If they had offered even something like $2.5 million per season we could have worked with them,” Cribbs’ agent, J.R. Rickert said.

Cribbs amassed more than 2,000 total yards for Cleveland in 2009, while returning three kicks for touchdowns, and bringing a punt back the distance as well.

Cribbs became more involved in the offense than in the past, also, as he racked up 381 yards on the ground out of Cleveland’s version of the Wildcat, while adding 135 yards through the air, along with two more total touchdowns.

No longer a one-dimensional threat, Cribbs appears to be well worth the money he and his agent are asking for, and they are intent on getting it. suggest the Miami Dolphins as an initial trading partner, as the two teams were reportedly discussing a potential trade before the trade deadline earlier this season.

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2010 NFL Power Rankings: Playoff Edition

Published: January 7, 2010

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You can never learn anything if you don’t retrace your steps.

That’s why, instead of merely assessing each team’s standing in the rankings for the final Power Rankings of the season, this writer is looking back to Week One, both to judge the teams that failed us, as well as the writer’s original thoughts on the team.

The original 2009 Week One NFL Power Rankings can be found here.

Take a look at where each team was and then take a look at where it finished on the season.


1. Indianapolis Colts (14-2)

They only lost because they sat their starters. They don’t drop from the top spot. Not a chance.

2. San Diego Chargers (13-3)

Make it 11 straight wins. Is it just me, or is this the 2008 Colts all over again?

3. Minnesota Vikings (12-4)

The Vikings finished on a terrific note and showed that they impose their will on others on both sides of the ball when they’re clicking. The week off should do them some good.

4. Dallas Cowboys (11-5)

They get Philly for the second straight week. Ouch. Good thing it’s at home.

5. New Orleans Saints (13-3)

Three straight losses to end the season? Yikes. They’ll need every bit of that first round bye to remember what it was like to win a game.

6. Green Bay Packers (11-5)

They’re a hot team with seven wins in their last eight games. But do you think their inexperience will show against a Cardinals team that was in the Super Bowl last year? I do.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (11-5)

There’s no denying their solid defense and explosive offense, but something isn’t right about this team. They can’t be too confident about going back to Dallas, the same place they just got shut out of in Week 17.

8. New England Patriots (10-6)

Losing Wes Welker sums up this entire season. This team has either disappointed or simply been underwhelming all season long. Still, with Tom Brady and Randy Moss, you just can’t count them out.

9. Arizona Cardinals (10-6)

Why do I get the feeling that Ken Whisenhunt didn’t try too hard against the Packers in Week 17?

10. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)

Is there even an inkling of a chance that the Jets blow them out of the water this week? Nah.

11. Baltimore Ravens (9-7)

If you take a close look at every game they’ve played, this team could easily be 15-1 if things went a little bit differently. The Patriots should be at least a little afraid.

12. New York Jets (9-7)

Mark Sanchez endured a trying rookie season. Now it’s over. His second season starts in the playoffs, and we’re about to find out if he learned anything in those previous 17 weeks.

13. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7)

It was a nice run, but as the old adage says: Too little, too late.

14. Houston Texans (9-7)

Congratulations to Gary Kubiak for getting Houston its first winning season, and for keeping his job. For now.

15. Atlanta Falcons (9-7)

They closed out the season in strong fashion, reminding next year’s competition that if it weren’t for some injuries and the fact that they faced the Saints twice, they could be in the playoffs.

16. Carolina Panthers (8-8)

John Fox and his staff are back for at least one more year after a strong finish. Just cross your fingers that he’s sticking with the impressive Matt Moore and not Jake Delhomme.

17. Tennessee Titans (8-8)

After starting 0-6, reaching 8-8 is like getting to the Super Bowl. Vince Young has fought his way back to the top. Now let’s just see if he can hold on in 2010.

18. San Francisco 49ers (8-8)

They finished the season strong and know now that Alex Smith is their guy. Whether he can get them to the playoffs, however, is a whole different debate.

19. Miami Dolphins (7-9)

It’s never easy when you play in the AFC. Injuries and inconsistency killed Miami down the stretch, but they still showed they can play with just about anybody. They’ll be back in the hunt for their division next season.

20. Chicago Bears (7-9)

It was nice to see Jay Cutler and the offense play like they did in the past two weeks. Now, if he could only get some real weapons.

21. Denver Broncos (8-8)

Two four-game losing streaks show how inconsistent this team really is. But don’t lay it all on Josh McDaniels. The rookie head coach turned a lot of heads with his strong philosophy.

22. New York Giants (8-8)

Tom Coughlin has to be on the hot seat once again after a collapse like that.

23. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-9)

The Jags lose four straight to drop out of the playoff race, and Jack Del Rio gets his job? I’ve never seen a coach do so little to earn so much.

24. Buffalo Bills (6-10)

Perry Fewell and the rest of the coaching staff are gone. It’s time for a complete overhaul on the offensive side of the ball.

25. Cleveland Browns (5-11)

Was a four-game winning streak enough to save Eric Mangini’s job? It probably shouldn’t be. The addition of Mike Holmgren shows this team is finally serious about winning.

26. Oakland Raiders (5-11)

The big question mark continues to be at quarterback. Does Al Davis dare draft another passer in the first round?

27. Kansas City Chiefs (4-12)

They ended the season on a high note with an impressive offensive performance. That Jamaal Charles is something special.

28. Seattle Seahawks (5-11)

Matt Hasselbeck can’t get it done anymore. If this team wants to win in the next two to three years, they need to move in another direction at quarterback.

29. Washington Redskins (4-12)

Firing Jim Zorn was the right move. So was bringing in Mike Shanahan. Two good moves in a row for the Redskins? This is unheard of.

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-13)

Raheem Morris was retained for good reason. He developed a young team into a competitive bunch and turned a young quarterback into a solid performer. They’ll be better next season.

31. Detroit Lions (2-14)

They won two more game than they did last season. Getting that winning feeling was step one. Now it’s all about the development of Matthew Stafford.

32. St. Louis Rams (1-15)

They need a quarterback badly. Steven Jackson can’t keep doing it on his own.


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Is Vince Young Still the Future of the Tennessee Titans?

Published: January 6, 2010

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After two straight weak showings to end the 2009 NFL season, Vince Young has some explaining to do. Or, more importantly, some more doubters to prove wrong.

Young took the league by storm with a sensational rookie season in 2006, when he scored 19 total touchdowns (seven rushing) and guided the Titans to an 8-8 record following a six-game winning streak near the end of the season.

He followed it up with an inconsistent sophomore season from a statistical standpoint, but was still effective in leading the Titans to the playoffs.

Then came the saga that Tennessee and Vince Young followers know all too well, where Young was playing poorly in last season’s opener, asked to sit the remainder of the game, and then sustained a knee injury that eventually knocked him out of the game.

Suicide talk followed, along with an apparent loss of passion and confidence, and Young was shown to the bench of the remainder of the 2008 season, and forced to watch as veteran Kerry Collins led the surprising Titans to a remarkable 10-0 start, and an eventual 13-3 record, as well as a division championship.

However, the football Gods were gracious to Young, giving him one last chance after Collins couldn’t get anything going this season, and an 0-6 start for the Titans had Young right back where he started; with a shot at proving his doubters wrong.

Young responded with some of the best football of his career, as he guided (with a lot of help from Chris Johnson) lead the Titans on an impressive five-game winning streak, until they lost their seventh game of the season by the hands of the then undefeated Indianapolis Colts.

Tennessee’s playoff hopes still remained intact after that game and were only truly destroyed when Young (and the rest of the Titans) had a forgettable game against the much superior San Diego Chargers.

But this isn’t news. We knew Young had a winner’s attitude all along, and judging by his history prior to last season’s benching, he was already having some success at the pro level.

He did more than just win games this time around, however, as he relied more on his pocket passing abilities (which are improving), and his ability to read defenses better.

His improved passing abilities were best exhibited in an impressive performance (huge understatement) against the Arizona Cardinals, in which he led his offense 99 yards down the field in the final minutes and threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Kenny Britt as time expired.

He also ended the game with a career-high 387 yards through the air.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, Young converted three fourth downs on that drive, none of which were done by the use of his legs.

This showed true growth in Young’s ability to take over a game with his arm, making him a more feared quarterback.

Young furthered this notion three games later in a big game with playoff implications against the Miami Dolphins, where he threw for three touchdowns and 236 yards.

The scary thing is, if Tennessee had even won one more game, this could be a completely different article. Young could be in the playoffs, and his story could still be evolving.

But as it stands, Young (who was declared the 2010 starter by Jeff Fisher) will once again have to start from scratch, and prove he belongs in the NFL.

The question remains; does he have what it takes?

From a professional perspective, there really isn’t any question about his ability to lead a football team. He’s led comebacks, both with his feet and his arm, and as the starter, he’s never finished worse than 8-8.

With new weapons such as rookie receiver Kenny Britt and tight end Jared Cook (who should be used more next season), the future looks bright for Young, regardless of his nay-sayers’ nit-picking.

We can’t bypass the progress he and the offense made in the 10 games following the horrid 0-6 start, and any sensible fan of the NFL also can’t ignore his two weak performances to end the 2009 season.

But that’s the story of a young quarterback. Vince Young was a project when he was drafted, and while he’s far from a finished product, he’s made the strides necessary for the team to instill a strong vote of confidence in him.

Has he earned the right to be called Tennessee’s starting quarterback for the 2010 NFL season? There’s no doubt about it.

But has he earned the right to be called their franchise quarterback? Quite literally, only time will tell.

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Hey Denver, Where’s the Love for Josh McDaniels?

Published: January 5, 2010

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His tenure started with a bang. Down goes Cutler , in a way, is what should have rang in the ears of NFL fans everywhere.

Of course, you had your Jay Cutler haters, who shrugged off the bold move by new head coach Josh McDaniels to challenge the rising superstar quarterback.

Bold? Yes, you’d say.

Stupid? Hell no.

And in the end, that may have been the correct assumption.

But then, after the trade that for all intents and purposes landed them Knowshon Moreno and Robert Ayers came the Brandon Marshall saga.

It poured into our media outlets for the rest of the summer, quietly drowning out the pain (or happiness?) of the so-called prima dona Cutler exiting Denver.

And then the Broncos started the season with an extremely unlucky (and dare we say lucky?) win on a tipped pass that was scooped-up by Brandon Stokley and raced in for a 12-7 Denver win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Victory bred emotion. Emotion bred momentum. Momentum bred more victories, and then the hugging began.

Oh, the jumping, the hand-holding, the swearing on camera, and all that jazz.

The Broncos were 6-0, McDaniels and his odd team of no-names and over-achievers were winning the hearts everywhere, er, in Denver.

It wasn’t stylish. The offense wasn’t always pretty. But they were getting it done McDaniels’ way.

Naturally, as we’ve already learned, it’s his way or the highway.

Then came the bye week and a loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Then a loss to the defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

Oh, but these were two “good losses”. Losing to the defending champs can’t hurt one’s stock, right?

Maybe so, but it only got worse from there.

Not only did the Broncos go on to lose to the Washington Redskins the following week, but they even dropped a fourth straight game in a huge divisional match with the San Diego Chargers, and it wasn’t even close.

In fact, all four of their losses after starting 6-0 were by 10 or more points, and three of them were by 18 or more.

Josh McDaniels had apparently lost control of his team and was staring at a full collapse as the Broncos entered a pivotal Thanksgiving showdown with the New York Giants, who had already endured their own four-game losing streak.

Denver escaped that game victoriously and lived to fight another day—several other days, in fact—and were alive in the AFC wild card race until the very final week.

But it’s that final week that has developed into the most concerning aspect of Denver’s season.

Forget about the second four-game losing streak that ended their season, as they blew a close contest with the Kansas City Chiefs and then watched as a lesser team kicked them to the curb and out of the playoff race.

That happened, and it’s over and done with.

The question now is who is responsible? Do we blame Kyle Orton for not doing what Jay Cutler maybe could have done?

Do we blame Brandon Marshall for causing another rift between himself and the coaching staff? Do we question his motives (or lack thereof) for sitting out the final week?

Or do we start pointing the finger at the very man who we promised not to question?

Josh McDaniels sent Jay Cutler away, and the Denver fans asked no questions. They gladly accepted the two extra draft picks (and another in 2010) and had high hopes for a Kyle Orton-led offense.

And when Brandon Marshall stood in the way of what McDaniels was trying to accomplish, many agreed that he, too, should be sent elsewhere. Let the coach be the coach, the players be the players, and so on.

As hard as it is to admit that the seemingly egotistical McDaniels is to blame for Denver’s fallout, Denver fans need to suck it up and give some much-deserved applause.

McDaniels is a rookie at this, but he didn’t coach like a rookie. He beat his former boss, started 6-0 with his first NFL team, showed a cocky quarterback the door, and lived to tell about it.

Then when his prima dona receiver started making a fuss about a sore hamstring, he calmly informed him that he’d be sitting out and didn’t guarantee him a spot in the starting lineup if the Broncos were to make the playoffs, either.

McDaniels didn’t do much to stop his team from sliding from 6-0 to 8-8, but there’s a strong argument that there wasn’t much he could do, either.

The fact is, this wasn’t (and probably still isn’t) a very good football team. McDaniels over-achieved in his first season, and he took a bunch of over-achievers along with him.

Kyle Orton isn’t the long-term solution. The defense is progressing but is inconsistent.

And as for Brandon Marshall, well, they call him “Baby T.O.” for a reason. It’s because he’s a joke when it comes to character, but he’s a phenomenal player that can change games.

Josh McDaniels knows everything we know and then some. He knows Marshall (and Eddie Royal) could have helped his team get into the playoffs.

But he also knows that guys like Marshall are what keep his team from winning it all.

It’s about the big picture for McDaniels, and it always has been.

It’s time we all start looking in the same direction he is.

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Mike Shanahan To Be Named Washington Redskins Head Coach

Published: January 5, 2010

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The Washington Redskins stuck another hand in the cookie jar and, for the moment, have come out on top as big winners, yet again.

Former Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan has agreed to a five-year deal worth roughly $7 million per year.

Shanahan reportedly was also given the VP of football operations title, which will give him the final say in almost every move dealing with his players and coaching staff.

Due to Shanahan’s excellent offensive history, the Redskins can now focus (and take their time) on bringing in a strong-minded defensive guru to keep their top 10 defense playing at a high level.

The Skins’ offense, which ranked 22nd overall in the league, was an inconsistent disaster all season, and the erratic performance of the passing game and poor play-calling led to the inevitable firing of former head coach Jim Zorn.

The hiring of Shanahan bodes well for former Denver running back, Clinton Portis, while likely meaning the end for young signal caller, Jason Campbell.

There are a number of directions the Redskins will move, starting immediately, but with an offensive mind like Shanahan’s, a turnaround could be coming more quickly than some would think.

With Brandon Marshall becoming a restricted free agent and non-verbally cutting ties with the Broncos, look for Shanahan to pursue the disgruntled star receiver in a trade, as the new coach and VP begins to make a number of moves that should change the face of the Redskins offense.

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Why the Green Bay Packers Won’t Beat the Arizona Cardinals

Published: January 4, 2010

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Before this article grabs Green Bay fans by the wrists and drags them into the depths of painful , realistic punishment, let’s adore the facts.

Green Bay just beat the Arizona Cardinals. They did so handily, 33-7, and after winning seven of their last eight games, there really isn’t much to suggest a first-round exit.

If you truly believe that, you’re either a naive Cheesehead from Wisconsin, or you simply don’t follow the NFL .

After seeing the Minnesota Vikings beat the New York Giants and end any chances of the Cardinals obtaining a first-round bye, Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt “wizened up” (pun intended) and sat all of his offensive starters after less than a quarter of play.

What transgressed was the Green Bay Packers (who left their starters in for nearly the entire game) demolishing the Cardinals.

Add the soul-pounding victory by Green Bay with its other six victories out of its last eight games, and you’ve got a confident group of players and coaches on your hands.

But, really, are they that confident?

They’re going back to the same place they just played in less than a week. Only, this time they get the real deal.

The Cardinals saw what the Packers are capable of. They saw their offense going to work, how their defense works in its 3-4, and what tendencies Mike McCarthy and co. have.

They saw it all firsthand, and with extremely good seats, because after all, they were resting on the sidelines.

We all know that history itself isn’t working with the Packers, as (don’t have exact numbers), it has been increasingly more difficult for teams to either a) beat a team three times in the same season or b) beat a team in Week 17, and then turn around and do the same in the playoffs.

Add the fact that the Packers will be facing a completely different team than they just faced, while also taking their show back on the road, and they have some sizable odds stacked against them.

And we haven’t even gotten to the strategy side of this matchup.

There’s no doubt Green Bay can move and score the ball with the best of them. But Arizona says “Ditto” to that.

And on defense, both units offer vulnerability to the air attack, as evidenced by Green Bay’s embarrassing performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers, where Ben Roethlisberger passed for more than 500 yards and three touchdowns.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, have been inconsistent on defense, allowing the Tennessee Titans to march 99 yards for a game-winning touchdown in the last November game, and then standing tall at home in a physically dominating effort against the high-powered Minnesota Vikings.

Throw in that this is Aaron Rodgers’ (MVP candidate? ) playoff debut, that Mike McCarthy hasn’t done anything in the playoffs without Brett Favre, and that the Cardinals were in the Super Bowl last year, and you’ve got yourself a scary game if you’re a Packers fan.

Regardless of either team’s inconsistencies or high-powered offenses, it all comes back to Green Bay having to return to Arizona for a second consecutive week and come out with a victory in a do-or-die setting, something that is never easy.

But last week wasn’t the first time these two teams have faced this season. Green Bay also traveled to Arizona for their third preseason game, a contest in which they prevailed, 44-37.

That game, like these other two, was also on the road, and also had very little to do with Arizona’s “real” roster.

After two games with the 10-6 NFC West champions, the Packers will finally get a crack at the real defending NFC champs.

The only problem is, they’ll wish they hadn’t.

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NFL Quick Hits (Jan. 4): The Coaching Cycle Has Begun

Published: January 4, 2010

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Wes Welker Reportedly Out For Playoffs

Welker sustained a knee injury in the first quarter of Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans, and according to several sources, he has torn both his ACL and MCL ligaments.

Welker’s absence will hurt the Patriots fluidity on offense, although rookie receiver Julian Edelman displayed the ability to step up with 10 catches for 103 yards in Week 17.

Look for Welker to have a difficult time making it back in time for the start of the 2010 season, which should force Edelman into the slot until he returns.


Jim Zorn Fired, Redskins Pursuing Mike Shanahan

Zorn being fired wasn’t a surprise, and neither is Washington chasing after Shanahan. Reports have Shanahan on a plane with owner Daniel Synder and GM Bruce Allen, although they cannot be confirmed.

Regardless, Shanahan is said to not be overly interested in the Buffalo Bills head coaching position, and has his sights on taking over the post in Washington.


Bill Cowher May Not Coach in 2010

With several teams retaining their head coaches and other openings not appearing attractive to Cowher, the CBS analyst is not expected to rush back into coaching.

It’s quite clear that Cowher is willing to take his time and be careful as to where he continues his coaching career, so don’t bank on him returning before 2011.


Chad Ochocinco Having Issues With Knee

Ochocinco is reportedly unable to fully extend his knee, which he injured against the New York Jets in Week 17.

Ochocinco claimed that the injury was caused by the horrible field conditions, and was scheduled for an MRI on Monday. Regardless of numerous reports on the injury, few in Cincinnati regard this as a serious injury, and No. 85 is fully expected to start at home against the Jets next week.


Jaguars Expected to Retain Jack Del Rio

Early reports suggest that Jacksonville “quietly” retained Del Rio and his coaching staff, despite the Jaguars dropping their final four games and finishing at an average 7-9 on the season.

This doesn’t guarantee that Del Rio stays on for 2010, but the extensions have apparently been signed, keeping Del Rio and his staff in Jacksonville until we’re told otherwise.


Buffalo Bills Unload Entire Coaching Staff

After firing Dick Jauron earlier in the season, Bills management finished the job by ridding the team of Jauron’s entire coaching staff, including recent interim coach, Perry Fewell.

Fewell wasn’t terrible in a little less than half a season as the head coach, and is expected to even still interview for the top position.

However, the firing of the entire staff gives the Bills flexibility, and allows them to pursue whoever they want, while also giving Fewell some more consideration.


Tom Cable Likely to be Fired

The 2009 season was full of upsets for the Oakland Raiders, as Tom Cable did a good coaching job against supposedly superior opponents, but watched as his team struggled against talent on their level.

Regardless of the minimal success, Al Davis is expected to let Cable go, which will undoubtedly ignite “Gruden to Oakland” rumors, raising speculation that former coach Jon Gruden could make a return.

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