- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner31 mins ago
This weekend marked the beginning of a funny ritual in the NFL.
When the calendar gets to December, players will go out in short sleeves in below-zero temperatures and tell everyone who will listen they're not cold and they're not intimidated by the weather, like everyone will be fooled into thinking that minus-12 wind chill isn't cold.
It's cold. We all know. And it makes playing football very difficult.
At kickoff of Monday night's game in Chicago, the temperature was 9 degrees with a wind chill of minus-8. It got so cold that ESPN found equipment managers holding water bottles up to the sideline heaters because the water inside was freezing up. During one timeout, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo didn't stop to talk to the coaches, he went right to the heater, pushing teammates out of the way like George Costanza fleeing a fire.
- Anwar S Richardson at Shutdown Corner1 hr ago
Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is the guy who files his taxes early and reports his own mistakes to the IRS, isn’t he?
Amid a sea of hatred for the Shanahans and everything Redskins, Cousins is a beacon of light — he says, golly gee willikers, he absolutely loves Mike and his son, Kyle.
“I think that a fan has the right to have their opinion,” Cousins told The Washington Post following Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. “They pay hard-earned money to watch us play and to support our team and they have a right to their opinion. My own personal perspective [is] I absolutely love the Shanahans and believe they’re doing a great job coaching us. I would like to see them still be here. But that’s not my decision to make.”
Cousins also likes kittens, long walks on the beach, watching The Notebook while cuddled up under a blanket, and spending time with a good book.
Sure, Cousins probably does not want any part of the mess between Robert Griffin III and the Shanahans, but he is definitely a company man.
All jokes aside, Cousins is actually a good young man. If you never saw his speech at the 2011 Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon, check it out. Cousins is truly a good person.
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner1 hr ago
Have you been checking the casting rumors about the new "Entourage" movie? Supposedly Kate Upton could play Vincent Chase's love interest.
We'll we've got another casting idea for you, producers: Give Denver Broncos head coach John Fox a role. Vinny's Dad maybe? Something. Anything.
Fox, who recently underwent aortic valve replacement heart surgery last month, checked into a North Carolina hospital under the name “Johnny Drama” — the nickname on the show for Vinny Chase's brother, Johnny Chase — according to the Denver Post. Fox is reportedly a big fan of the show, and the nickname would seem to prove it.
Even with the report, Entourage cast member Jerry Ferrara (who played Turtle on the show) wasn't sure to believe it or not. In a since deleted tweet to the writer, the Post's Ryan Parker, Ferrara asked of his Fox report: "can u confirm this?"
Yes, we can.
- Anwar S Richardson at Shutdown Corner2 hrs ago
Minnesota Viking’s running back Adrian Peterson was seemingly blowing off steam when he criticized NFL officials on Twitter after a 29-26 loss against Baltimore on Sunday.
Upon further review, even the NFL thought Peterson had a point.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said the NFL contacted him on Monday to discuss the officiating that occurred against Baltimore. It is common for coaches to contact the league each week about questionable calls, but rare when they receive an unsolicited call.
"It was a good conversation," Frazier said, via 1500ESPN.com. "The fact that they called should give you an indication of how they felt about things on that day. That was encouraging that they wanted to talk about that game from yesterday."
"It's happened twice this season."
What is all the fuss about?
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner10 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 Corner11 hrs ago
CHICAGO — Should the Chicago Bears ditch Jay Cutler this offseason and just start Josh McCown?
It’s not an entirely stunning concept at this point if you look purely at how the Bears have played on offense with McCown starting and Cutler in the lineup.
But, oh, lo, it’s not that easy.
Still, having now 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 completed 27-of-36 passes for 348 yards (his third straight over 300) with four passing touchdowns and one rushing, the first Bear to achieve that since Jack Concannon in 1970. For the season, McCown now has completed 66.8 percent of his passes for 1,809 yards, with 13 touchdowns and only one interception. Compare that to Cutler's 63 percent completions, 1,908 yards, 13 touchdowns and eight INTs — on 40 more pass attempts.
That said, McCown was not perfect Monday. He misfired on few passes (a few badly) and seemed to be less effective the closer the Bears got to the end zone.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner11 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 Corner12 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 Corner13 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 Corner19 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."