- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner5 hrs ago
CHICAGO — Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after his team's 45-28 loss to the Chicago Bears, in which the Cowboys allowed 490 yards and eight scores on their first eight possessions, that his defense needs to take more risks.
“We’ll have to make some adjustments with what we’re doing defensively,” Jones said in the Cowboys' locker room. “What that usually means is taking more risks on defense. If you’re going to have the type of nights we had like [Monday], and certainly down in New Orleans, then you got to take some risks.
"We’ve just got to double-up, and I’m sure that will be a part of the plan on defense is more risks. We’ve got to play the balls. We got to go after the ball more.”
Asked if that includes suggesting schematic changes to what defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin is calling, Jones said no, but then offered a rambling, confusing assessment of what it takes to be a more successful defense.
“We can do some things different out there," Jones said. "It’s not as safe, but it could be more effective; it could maybe get us a turnover when it might have made a difference and changed the tide out there.
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner6 hrs ago
CHICAGO — Should the Chicago Bears ditch Jay Cutler this offseason and just start Josh McCown?
It’s not a stunning concept at this point if you look purely at how the Bears have played with McCown as the starter.
But, oh, lo, it’s not that easy.
Still, having seen McCown for seven games this season — five strong starts and two good relief appearances — including Monday’s 45-28 thumping of the Dallas Cowboys, it’s tempting to think about the possibility.
McCown was not perfect Monday. He misfired on some passes (a few badly) and seemed to be less effective the closer the Bears got to the end zone.
But the confidence, rhythm and poise is there for a quarterback who, even at age 35, might be the Bears’ best option. Did you watch the downfield pitch and catch with Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall against the helpless Cowboys secondary? It was sinful.
Why pay Cutler, a free agent in 2014 who would make $16 million next year if he’s franchised and likely not too much less per season if the Bears want to do a long-term deal?
But again, it’s not that simple.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner6 hrs ago
The New England Patriots were, mostly, an elite team with a healthy Rob Gronkowski.
The offense was tremendous. The Patriots looked as good as they have the past few years. A collision with the Denver Broncos in the AFC playoffs seemed inevitable.
Gronkowski is done for the season with a torn ACL and MCL. Aside from Aaron Rodgers' collarbone, Gronkowski's knee might be the injury that impacts the NFL playoffs the most. He changes the game. He's impossible to guard, an enormous movable piece that occupies two defenders on most plays. In many ways he's unlike any other tight end we've seen. The Patriots weren't the same without him early in the season. They won't be the same without him the rest of this season.
There's reason to believe the Patriots can survive. New England was 5-1 when Gronkowski made his season debut. There's also reason for concern. Tom Brady was having one of his worst seasons, statistically, until Gronkowski hit his stride. The Patriots are a hard team to project for the rest of the year without Gronkowski.
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner7 hrs ago
CHICAGO — You can't blame Tony Romo this time.
Granted, the Dallas Cowboys' offense stalled several times after a hot start, but no, this one is on the defense. The Cowboys fell to 7-6 with a miserabl defensive performance, allowing the Chicago Bears to ring up 490 yards of offense and score on their first eight possessions in a 45-28 rout at Soldier Field on Monday night. The ninth possession ended with the Bears taking a knee to run out the final seconds.
Bears quarterback Josh McCown threw for four touchdown passes, and ran for another — his first rushing TD since 2004 — in a strong effort against a Cowboys secondary that is short on talent and discipline, and one that has been pulverized by injury, too.
The Cowboys had no answer for the Bears' Alshon Jeffery on deep passes, Brandon Marshall on the intermediate stuff and Matt Forte in the run game or the short passing game. It was a complete dismantling of all three levels of the Cowboys' defense.
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner8 hrs ago
CHICAGO — Before Mike Ditka was DITKA , he was one of the NFL's best tight ends. Although he played in an era when the position was a glorified grunt, blocking alongside the offensive linemen, Ditka helped revolutionize the position into more of how we know it today.
For his contributions as a player, the Chicago Bears — with whom Ditka played for six seasons, under famed head coach George Halas — retired Ditka's No. 89 at halftime of Monday's game between the Bears and Dallas Cowboys, the other team Ditka most prominently played for.
The team honored Ditka at halftime with a video montage that included well wishes and memories from his former teammates, many from the 1963 Bears NFL championship team, and the 1985 Bears, the Super Bowl champions. Ditka thanked the people of Chicago for being such a big part of his life and his dreams.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you, and go Bears!" Ditka told the crowd.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner14 hrs ago
Brett Favre seems to be enjoying his life out of the spotlight.
That seems odd, right? The last few years of his career were marked by his level of waffling about retirement and the attention that came along with that. It might be years before the jokes about Brett Favre and coming out of retirement die down.
But the former NFL great hasn't done much to put himself in the public light since retiring for good. He hasn't sought a regular national TV gig, or been around the NFL much at all. He's quite happy coaching high school ball.
Favre, who has volunteered as Oak Grove High School's offensive coordinator for three seasons, was thrilled when the Warriors won the Class 6A state championship in Mississippi last week. It was the first state title in school history. And Favre was excited for the kids he coaches.
"I can't say it's a Super Bowl, but it's pretty close," Favre told the Hattiesburg American. "It really is. It's a different kind of feeling, but I'm awfully proud of these kids."
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner15 hrs ago
If you're going to this season's Super Bowl in New Jersey, don't bring your grill. And you should feel lucky if you get in the parking lot at all.
During a Super Bowl committee press conference, news came out that tailgating will not be allowed at MetLife Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday, according to ESPN. Fans in Kansas City and Green Bay just got a lot less excited about the possibility of their teams going to the Super Bowl.
Like other Super Bowls, parking will be at a premium. Other Super Bowls haven't had tailgating because of that reason.
ESPN said there will be fewer than 13,000 parking spots available at MetLife Stadium. To get to the stadium fans can ride on a charter bus for $51, take N.J. Transit to the game, or be dropped off in cars with parking passes. Limos, black cars and taxis won't be allowed near the stadium without a parking pass.
And if you do have a coveted parking pass and want to barbecue some bratwurst, don't bother.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner15 hrs ago
If Mike Shanahan is around to coach the Washington Redskins over the last three weeks of the season, he's not sure Robert Griffin III will be his quarterback.
Shanahan, whose job security has been a constant discussion in Washington since the Redskins' 45-10 loss to Kansas City on Sunday, said he hasn't decided on a starting quarterback for this week's game against Atlanta. He cited the Falcons' pass rush and the fact that the Redskins have given up 24 sacks in five games as a factor in his decision process. He wants to make sure Griffin gets through his second season in one piece.
He said if he decides to sit Griffin this week, he would shut last year's offensive rookie of the year down for the rest of the season. He said if he goes with Kirk Cousins, it would strictly be related to keeping Griffin healthy and not because of Griffin's struggles this season.
- Anwar S Richardson at Shutdown Corner16 hrs ago
Detroit Lions receiver Nate Burleson knows what it is like to be the butt of jokes.
Burleson is the guy who attempted to save a falling pizza while driving in September. As a result of that irrational move, Burleson crashed his car and broke an arm. He even received a year supply of free pizza from DiGiorno to avoid another accident.
Nevertheless, this might be a new low for Burleson and his team.
Detroit’s inconsistent season continued yesterday with a 34-20 loss against the Philadelphia Eagles. Instead of pulling away in the NFC North race, Detroit (7-6) was defeated in another key game and is fighting to make the playoffs. The Lions seemingly cannot win big games, which left the majority of their fan base disappointed after Sunday's lackluster performance.
One person informed Burleson of Detroit’s woes on Monday, and the receiver shared his experience on Detroit Sports 105.1.
- Anwar S Richardson at Shutdown Corner18 hrs ago
Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland seemingly had one foot out the door earlier this season.
The Dolphins have advanced to the playoffs once in Ireland’s tenure (2008 season). Jonathan Martin’s harassment allegations against Richie Incognito occurred under Ireland’s watch. Miami hit another low during a loss against Tampa Bay, which was one of the league’s worst team, earlier this season.
Since that loss, Miami has won three of its last four, and Ireland’s biggest victory might be retaining his job.
According to Miami Herald reporter Armando Salguero, Ireland was recently informed by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross that his job was safe.
Here is a portion of Salguero’s story:
But I'm told Ross and Ireland have discussed the GM's status and the speculation is not accurate -- at least not right now. Obviously, there are three games remaining in the regular season and the Dolphins are neither in the playoffs nor out of the playoff hunt so no final declarations or assertions of fact can be made on the matter.
But for now, that which is being widely assumed -- that Ireland is a goner after the season -- is not correct.