Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner 1 hr ago
Last week, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was ruled out for the rest of the season, changing the entire AFC playoff picture.
This week, Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas’ season-ending injury will shake up the NFC.
Thomas will miss the rest of the season, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said on Monday. Thomas broke a bone in his leg during Sunday night’s game.
Gronkowski is great and probably more famous than Thomas, but Thomas has probably the same value to his team. Thomas is a three-time All-Pro safety and has made the Pro Bowl five seasons in a row. Thomas’ ability to diagnose and cover so much of the middle of the field allows the Seahawks a ton of defensive flexibility. And Thomas can turn a game around with his big-play ability. He is irreplaceable for the Seahawks. On Sunday, right after Thomas was carted off, the Panthers went deep right down the middle of the field and Cam Newton hit Ted Ginn for a long touchdown. That probably doesn’t happen with Thomas at free safety.
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Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner 2 hrs ago
By most measures, the NFL’s “My Cause My Cleats” campaign in Week 13 was a rousing, unquestioned success for the league. And after it appeared that the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans might miss out, it turns out that they’ll get to participate as well.
Thirty of the 32 teams were in action this past week, and they were able to express themselves and wear custom cleats to help display causes that were important to them. Several charities got worthy attention they might not otherwise have received, and we only can assume that a lot of attention and money was raised this past weekend. Good for the league and the players who were involved.
Early on Monday, it appeared that the two teams on bye in Week 13 — the Browns and Titans — were not able to. Neither team had been granted permission to wear the custom cleats until Monday night. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Yahoo Sports that the issue has been resolved.
This was the right move — and the only move — for the NFL. Good on them for resolving it.
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Shalise Manza Young at Shutdown Corner 4 hrs ago
When he was cut from the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad last month, tight end Mitchell Henry was told to stick close to the city, because the Ravens intended to re-sign him a week later.
But Henry, an undrafted free agent out of Western Kentucky in 2015, wanted to go home to Kentucky for some time with his wife and a hunting trip with his father.
While he was there, however, Henry felt pain in his shoulder and went to the hospital. What doctors found was far more than a rotator cuff or a fracture in his scapula, or shoulder blade bone.
Doctors found a mass in Henry’s chest and diagnosed him with acute myeloid leukemia.
ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, citing a source, reports that Henry has begun chemotherapy and that a search is underway to find a match for a bone marrow transplant.
“He’s in tough shape, but he’s in good spirits,” the source told Demovsky. “He’s a man of faith, and he’s already started treatments.”
Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner 4 hrs ago
After Sunday’s 38-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders in which the Buffalo Bills lost a 15-point, second-half lead, Bills head coach Rex Ryan was asked about whether quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s recent slump would have any bearing on his future with the team.
“Look, let’s just let this play out,” Ryan said, per ESPN.com. “We feel pretty comfortable with Tyrod. There’s a lot of factors that go into everything.”
Uh, and what factors would those be, coach?
“I’m not going to go into a list of them,” he said. “You guys can figure it out.”
Yes, we can — and they start with money.
Taylor’s contract extension he signed in August was for six years and $92 million, but there is an increasingly likely chance he could be cut in the offseason. It’s not that Taylor hasn’t done good things, but his play has leveled off, which makes handing him a ton of money this offseason less likely.
Could he be back at that price? Absolutely. But the decision has become tougher with the Bills and Taylor’s recent slide.
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Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner 8 hrs ago
Brock Osweiler has been bad for the Houston Texans. He signed a controversial $72 million contract last offseason and has become a punch line since.
Among quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts, only Ryan Fitzpatrick of the New York Jets has a worse passer rating than Osweiler, who sits at 74.2. Osweiler was 22 of 35 for 202 yards and two touchdowns in a 21-13 loss against the Green Bay Packers … and that was his best game of the season in terms of passer rating. He had a passer rating of 97.6.
Texans owner Bob McNair would be justified if he was angry about Osweiler’s struggles, considering he gave Osweiler a small fortune, but he’s not mad at all. Instead, he defended his quarterback and told everyone to back off him.
“I thought he played great,” McNair said, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “He played as well as his competitor did. If not for the passes that were dropped, his grade would have been higher than [Packers quarterback Aaron] Rodgers. Don’t be critical of him. He played well.”
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Shalise Manza Young at Shutdown Corner 8 hrs ago
Former Rams, Colts, Raiders and Falcons running back Eric Dickerson is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Current Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher is two losses away from being the losingest head coach in NFL history.
Last week, Dickerson, who is one of the more visible and beloved Rams alumni from their first stint in Los Angeles, revealed that Fisher told him he couldn’t be critical of the team during his numerous media appearances and still expect favors from the team like sideline passes for himself and friends.
Dickerson responded that hewon’t attend another Rams game as long as Fisher is head coach, and is sticking with it even after meeting with franchise COO Kevin Demoff for three hours.
And if the gloves weren’t off before for Dickerson, they are now.
Kevin Kaduk at Shutdown Corner 9 hrs ago
College football announced its four playoff teams on Sunday and the field was met with a predictable round of griping over the teams that got snubbed. (Hello Penn State and Michigan fans!)
Over here in NFL fandom, we’re blessed with a playoff system that allows 12 teams into the postseason dance. Now that might be a little big, but the positives outweigh the negative. Not only do we benefit from four great weekends of football (as opposed to only two days of college playoffs), but NFL playoff controversies are normally limited to wondering why a division winner with a lousy record gets to host a wild-card game against a better team.
All that said, it’s a fun exercise to wonder what four NFL teams would be in a college-style playoff after the 12 games they’ve played. And which would be the teams left feeling jilted?
But then who do you put No. 2?
Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner 9 hrs ago
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was forced to miss the team’s Week 13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, but it appears he’ll be back this week following eye surgery.
The Vikings announced that Zimmer is expected to be back this week. In a statement from Vikings GM Rick Spielman, Zimmer “has returned to his coaching duties and is expected to travel with the team to Jacksonville for this weekend’s game.”
The Vikings are tied in second place with the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North, with both teams two games behind the 8-4 Detroit Lions (who swept the Vikings in the season series).
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Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner 19 hrs ago
He answered multiple questions about why he didn’t have a necktie on a flight.
Newton was benched for the first series of Sunday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks for a dress-code violation. Panthers coach Ron Rivera wouldn’t get into details, but Newton said it was because he didn’t wear a tie on the team’s flight to Seattle.
“I didn’t follow the dress code and coach told me that I wasn’t going to start,” Newton said in his press conference, which was broadcast live on ESPN. “I stand by his decision. The position that he’s in, I follow it, hand to hand.”
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Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner 20 hrs ago
Linebacker Luke Kuechly was on the Carolina Panthers sideline, in street clothes as he recovers from a concussion, ranting and raving at the officials and everyone else nearby after a long Seattle Seahawks touchdown.
Earlier, Derek Anderson started at quarterback because Cam Newton apparently didn’t wear a necktie. He didn’t start because he was disciplined for a dress-code violation. Anderson played one play. He threw an interception.
It was all a mess for the Panthers on Sunday night. The whole season has been. Against the Seahawks, everyone had a chance to watch their meltdown.
The roster was just as talented as last season’s team. Cornerback Josh Norman was let go – that move still makes no sense, as it looked like a petty reaction by general manager Dave Gettleman, who doesn’t make many mistakes – but the Panthers got back receiver Kelvin Benjamin from an ACL injury. The coaching staff was practically the same. The roster had a ton of blue-chip talent. And they’ve been terrible.
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