All indications are that Peyton Manning has chosen the Denver Broncos. This likely will force Tim Tebow elsewhere. Manning told his agent to begin contract negotiations with Broncos. (photo: Yahoo Sports/Getty Images)
Roughly 3 weeks after Peyton Manning’s magical mystery tour began, it has ended where it began. All indications point to Manning signing with the Denver Broncos. The two men who know more about football than I will ever know in my entire life–Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter of ESPN are reporting that Manning has told his agent to begin contract negotiations with John Elway and the rest of the Denver Broncos brass.
Per Schefter, Manning phoned Broncos V.P. of Football Operations John Elway on Monday morning to inform Elway he is “looking forward” to playing in Denver.
Of course, this begs the question: What’s next for Tim Tebow? One would assume the Broncos will try and trade Tebow for whatever they can get. Former NFL general manager Charley Casserly told USA Today, “I’d be surprised if he went for much better than a fifth rounder.”
I mean, what do they care? They’ve got Peyton Manning!
You may recall, I wrote back on March 10 when Manning first visited with the Broncos that I believed that Denver was the best and most ideal fit for Manning. I wrote and I firmly believe that the Denver Broncos are not far all from being a legitimate Super Bowl contender. I’d say those chances just went up a few notches now that Peyton Manning will be under center and not Tim Tebow.
John Elway said all the right things when he backed Tebow and said that he believed he had a shot to be the franchise quarterback that they have been missing since Elway. Deservedly so, Elway said time and time again that Tebow had “earned the right” to compete for the starting quarterback job in next year’s training camp. However, as I said before, I don’t think Elway ever really and truly believed that Tebow could be the guy for years to come.
Now that the Broncos have all but secured Manning’s services, what’s next on Elway’s agenda?
Well, it may not be that difficult to figure out. Jeff Saturday was Manning’s center in Indianapolis and has been with the Colts since 1999. However, it’s entirely possible and very likely that Saturday will join Peyton in Denver. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter Manning and John Elway have already talked about the Broncos signing Saturday, who is currently a free agent. I would anticipate that move to get done and get done fairly quickly because it’s a move that makes entirely too much sense and is a no-brainer.
Back on March 10 I wrote that once Manning was visiting the Broncos he shouldn’t look any further when selecting where to play next. He did his due diligence as I thought he would but in the end he knew that joining forces with the Denver Broncos and John Elway especially, was the right way to go. In doing so, he will take the Broncos and the city of Denver to new heights.
A very good friend of mine lives in Denver and told me that once the announcement was made that Manning has chosen Denver “the city is now up for grabs”.
My favorite part about all of this is that in an instant the plug was pulled on Tim Tebow and “Tebowmania”. Yes, Tebow will end up somewhere else and I wouldn’t be shocked if a desperate team such as the Miami Dolphins trade for Tebow and give him a bunch of money. After all, they were snubbed by Manning too.
Perhaps Tebow and the Dolphins are a perfect match. Tebow Is anointed in Florida and he and the Dolphins both played second fiddle to Peyton Manning. You know what they say, misery loves company.
Peyton Manning arrives with John Elway and John Fox at the Broncos' Dove Valley training facility. (John Leyba, The Denver Post)
Peyton Manning’s whirlwind free-agency tour kicked off in grand fashion Friday, complete with a chartered plane coming to pick him up and a helicopter hovering overhead as he met with the Denver Broncos.
This was only Day 1 of the adventure and it may not need to last much longer than that. Why? Because I believe Manning’s best fit may be in Denver.
Manning spent the day in Tim Tebow’s stomping grounds, chatting with the Broncos for nearly six hours. Obviously, Manning is the NFL’s marquee free agent after being released by the Indianapolis Colts two days ago.
The Broncos spared no expense for Manning’s visit, too.
According to the Denver Post, Manning was brought to Denver on a plane, which the Broncos sent for him to bring him to Denver. He spent the day with the Broncos brain trust consisting of Hall of Fame signal caller John Elway who serves as Denver’s vice president of football operations. Coach John Fox and general manager Brian Xanders along joined him as well.
Spending the first day in Denver certainly made for some interesting conversation. After all, this is a city still engulfed in Tebowmania, especially after the unorthodox quarterback led the Broncos to the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
But, having Manning in for a visit raised the same question that has hovered over the team: Is Tebow a long-term solution or just a feel-good story for a season?
No, he isn’t. He isn’t now nor will he ever be. I know that, you know that, John Fox knows that, John Elway knows that, and the entire Denver Broncos organization knows that. That is exactly why the Broncos are pulling out all the stops to woo Peyton Manning and bring him to the city of Denver.
Sure, Tim Tebow was a nice story and he was fortunate enough to win games but trust me a Hall of Fame quarterback of John Elway’s caliber knows that he can’t rely on Tebow to bring the Broncos a Super Bowl.
Peyton Manning can and he will if he decides to call Denver is NFL home.
The Denver Broncos are not far all from being a legitimate Super Bowl contender. They have a top-notch defense and a fierce pass rush that can get to the quarterback consistently. Also, the Broncos are armed with explosive running game led by Willis McGahee, Lance Ball, and Knowshon Moreno who are working his way back from injury. Sure, the Broncos can use some help at wide receiver but they already have Eric Decker and Eddie Royal in the fold who will only get better by catching passes from Manning. Let’s not forget, another long time Indianapolis Colt and former teammate of Manning, Reggie Wayne who was cut by the team yesterday is rumored to land wherever Peyton does. That would be one hell of a package deal.
As for the group that will be responsible for keeping Manning upright, the Broncos offensive line is one of the more young and talented groups in the league. Peyton Manning’s center in Indianapolis, Jeff Saturday is less of a sure thing to join Manning at his next destination. Many around the league expect Saturday to retire rather than rejoin the Colts or follow Manning wherever he decides to play next.
Of course, the Broncos aren’t alone in the Manning sweepstakes. They are expected to face stiff competition from the Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, and Seattle Seahawks just to name a few. Two teams that definitely are not pursuing Manning any longer are the New York Jets and Washington Redskins.
Those two teams were originally thought to be in the max for Manning’s services but just last night the Jets announced a three year contract extension with Mark Sanchez. The Redskins agreed to a blockbuster trade with the St. Louis Rams for the second pick in April’s draft. It didn’t come cheap for the Redskins, but since when has that stopped them? Washington surrendered its first-round pick this year as well as first rounders in 2013 and 2014. The Redskins are most likely going to target quarterback Robert Griffin III with the second pick.
I’m sure Peyton Manning will do his due diligence in selecting his new team but in my opinion, joining forces with John Elway is the right way to go. By doing so, he will propel himself and the Denver Broncos to new heights in the Mile High city.
I’m fully aware that Manning’s health is far from a sure thing and it will be a huge risk to commit to him financially but it’s undoubtedly a risk worth taking.
Especially when the team’s only alternative is Tim Tebow.
Eli Manning is now a two time Super Bowl MVP (AP)
Super Bowl XLVI is in the books. We’ve seen this movie before from the Giants. The New England Patriots wee once again on the receiving end of a crushing defeat.
The New York Giants reign victorious over the New England Patriots once again. Four years ago in Glendale, Arizona the Giants shocked the world by defeating the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII and ruined the Patriots attempt at perfection. Fast forward to November 6, 2011 – week 9 of the season – the Giants defeated the Patriots one again. This time, it was in the Patriots back yard, Foxborough, Mass. Eli Manning engineered yet another fourth quarter comeback and led the Giants to a 24-20 victory. The loss to the Giants in week 9 was the last time the Patriots tasted defeat in the 2011-12 season prior to Super Bowl XLVI.
Last night in Indianapolis, Indiana in Lucas Oil Stadium – the “House that Peyton built”, Eli Manning and the Giants got the better of the Patriots for the third straight time and the second time in four years on the worlds biggest stage. The New York Giants finished the job and defeated the New England Patriots 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI and earned the right to be called champions.
From the moment the Giants traded up for Manning in the 2004 draft, rather than take Philip Rivers or Ben Roethlisberger, there has been a constant argument among fans and pundits over whether that move was a smart one.
Manning has constantly had to deal with comparisons to his talented older brother Peyton, while many said he was not in the same class as Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers, and even after winning his first Super Bowl four years ago, a typical NFL talking point has been whether Eli can be considered an ‘elite’ quarterback.
Tom Coughlin, Eli’s head coach of his entire career thus far, says it’s time for the talk to stop.
New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin holds the the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Giants' 21-17 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. (Chris O'Meara / AP)
“I thought again about this business of elite quarterbacks. I think that question has come and gone. I don’t think we will hear much about that again.” - Tom Coughlin
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, normally keen to steer clear of such talk, chose the presentation of the MVP award to comment on Manning’s place in the rankings of top quarterbacks in the league.
“He’s only the fifth player to be named on a multiple basis as MVP of the Super Bowl, and he joins a pretty elite group of quarterbacks that achieved that.” - NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
Manning though, preferred to talk about the contributions of his team-mates and their prospects for the future.
“I’m excited about a number of young guys who stepped up this season. There were some questions going into the beginning of the season on a few spots, but that quickly got answered. Victor Cruz has been a great story, Jake Ballard. Some of these guys have played great football, made great plays for us this year. We felt we had talent across the board on the team, that there were a few spots where we needed young guys to step up, as any team always does every year. You’re going to need young players to come in and play a role, and give you a chance to win a championship.” - Eli Manning
While the talk over Manning’s elite status may subside, the comparisons with his brother are unlikely to.
Peyton’s future, as he tries to return from a neck injury, is uncertain but it could well involve a move away from the Indianapolis Colts.
The two brothers spent some time in conversation after Sunday’s game but Eli said there was no issue of him now having ‘bragging rights’ over his brother who has a single Super Bowl ring.
“This isn’t about bragging rights. This is a lot bigger. This is about a team, an organization being named world champions, and that was the ultimate goal.That’s the only thing that’s important, is the team finding a way to get a victory. That’s the only thing I care about and Peyton and I both know that’s what the goal is every year. It’s not about anything else.” - Eli Manning
Eli is right, but he’s certainly got the right to brag and a heck of a lot to brag about. Eli Manning is no longer in anyone else’s shadow. He’s earned the right to stand alone. Today, he’s standing alone with the rest of his teammates on top of the NFL’s mountaintop as Super Bowl champions. The New England Patriots are standing with the other 31 teams in the NFL wondering what could have, should have, or might have been.
You can’t spell elite without the ELI.
The four-time MVP missed the 2011 season because of a neck injury, sparking near-daily speculation about his future in Indianapolis, especially as the Colts struggled to the point of being in the driver's seat to get the No. 1 pick and draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. Manning, due a $28 million bonus in March, resumed throwing in December. Will the 35-year-old be able to return next season? If so, will it be for the Colts (owner Jim Irsay has indicated "yes,"), or will the possible addition of a franchise QB through the draft lead to Manning's departure after 14 years in Indianapolis?
Peyton Manning’s recovery process hasn’t been going as well as hoped and could result in the star quarterback missing the entire 2012-13 season.
Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports reported on Monday that the nerves in Manning’s arm “are not healing as quickly as hoped” and “don’t appear to be progressing at enough of a rate to indicate he will play again.”
Manning underwent a spinal fusion surgery in August, which has healed as expected, but he hasn’t been able to gain back the velocity that made him one of the most dominant quarterbacks in the entire NFL.
The four-time MVP is working his hardest to return to the field, but sources around the league continue to doubt whether he will be ready to play this season – or ever again. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King wrote in his “Monday Morning QB” column that Gil Brandt, a long-time friend of the Manning family, told him that “we’ve probably seen the last of Peyton.”
The latest reports about the possible end of Manning’s NFL career add some credence to actor Rob Lowe’s tweets two weeks ago.
“Hearing my fave, #18 Peyton Manning will not return to #NFL. Wow. #Colts.”
The tweet was quickly denied by Manning’s agent, Tom Condon, and his father, Archie Manning, but perhaps Lowe did have some inside information about Manning’s situation. Lowe is reportedly very close with Irsay and might have known that Manning’s rehab wasn’t going as well as hoped.
Manning laughed off the report but it’s clear that his future in the NFL isn’t a certainty. At the very least, according to Yahoo, most won’t know for sure about Manning’s status until the summer.
The latest news likely makes it an even easier decision for the Colts to release their franchise quarterback. The Colts have until March 1st to release Manning before they have to pay him a $28 million roster bonus — leading many to believe Colts owner Jim Irsay has already made up his mind to release the quarterback.
Irsay has denied that he has already made up his mind about what to do with Manning, but the NFL Network reported last week that sources around the league expected the Colts to release him before the NFL Combine begins on Feb. 22nd.
The Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, and New York Jets have all been mentioned as possible landing spots for Manning, but it will all depend on his health. The combination of Manning’s desire to stay in Indianapolis with rehabilitation delays could cause the future Hall of Famer to retire from the NFL.
The decision would likely be an extremely tough one for the ultra-competitive Manning, but he should take solace in knowing he has a bright future in another career. If Manning ultimately decides to retire, you’d have to think he would be the most sought after ex-player to entire the media world, possibly ever.
Reports indicate the Indianapolis Colts have interviewed Jim Tressel for their head coaching vacancy.
Multiple reports have surfaced that former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel has emerged as a strong candidate for the Indianapolis Colts head-coaching vacancy. Frankly, I think he would be a good fit.
Reports state Colts owner Jim Irsay flew to Florida on Friday and discussed the team’s head-coaching job with Tressel. This isn’t the first meeting the two men have had. The report indicates they have met on ‘multiple occasions’.
Tressel resigned from his position with Ohio State in May amid an NCAA scandal that enveloped the Ohio State football program, was hired by former Colts coach Jim Caldwell in September to be a game-day consultant in a role that allowed him to work from the team’s coaches booth and advise the coaching staff about replay reviews.
After a 2-14 season – without the services of injured quarterback Peyton Manning – Jim Irsay has wasted little time gutting the Colts front office and coaching staff. Jim Caldwell was fired on Tuesday, two days before eight assistant coaches were let go.
I believe Tressel can be successful in the NFL and I think he’s an ideal fit for the re-building Indianapolis Colts. Tressel would know he’d have to hire a staff with NFL experience and guys who could work with the offensive pieces already in the Colts locker room, and he’s been around the game’s highest levels long enough to presumably know who some of those coaches might be.
The Colts just finished a nightmarish year and are going to have some tough questions to answer in the coming months. A cut-or-keep Peyton Manning decision is coming very soon, and it seems the Colts may have to cut ties with the guy who led them to new heights.
What if their other big-name free agents move on, too, by their choice or the organization’s? What if presumed No. 1 pick Andrew Luck doesn’t light the league on fire in the first month of the season?
Tressel can take the heat. He’s been there. Lots of NFL coaches have melted amidst tough times, and the thought that Tressel can handle the spotlight is likely atop the reasons he’s supposedly being considered.
The Colts provide a situation almost any coach would at least explore. They have the No. 1 pick in April’s NFL Draft, play in a shiny new building and can compete in the AFC South. There’s also the thought that Luck has a chance to be really good sooner rather than later, and having a great quarterback has rarely been bad for an NFL head coach.
He’ll ne 60 this year and could easily coach four or five years which is a very long time in today’s NFL. The Colts are clearly going through a transition period, and Tressel could provide a stable bridge. He seems like the type of guy who’d be fine with Luck being the face of the franchise.
He’s experienced in telling less than the whole truth, which makes him a fit for the job as well. To coaches and GMs, the whole notion that there are still secrets in the NFL isn’t going away anytime soon. Tressel knows how to command respect in a locker room, and though there certainly a number of college coaches who have failed miserably in the NFL for a number of reasons, ego is chief among them. Tressel has one, sure. You’d have to think the events of the last 15 months or so have tempered that.
Step back and think about it for a second, both Tressel and the Colts have been to the top of Football Mountain. Both have been knocked — swiftly back to the bottom.
Hey folks, I’m very sorry for all of the issues with the blog as of late. Apparently, these hackers don’t have anything better to do so they decide to screw with the blog. Granted, they have made my life difficult over the last week or so but I will not let them win. This is a battle they will not win, I can promise that!
Ok, now on to the business at hand. Here in Baltimore, this time of year means its all Ravens all the time. As the Ravens prepare to make a playoff run starting next week, changes could be changes looming in their front office.
photo courtesy of Baltimore Sun
The St. Louis Rams have requested permission to interview DeCosta for their vacant director of player personnel position, which is the same position DeCosta holds with the Ravens. The Rams aren’t alone in pursuit of DeCosta. Reports link the Indianapolis Colts to DeCosta also. The Colts would like to interview DeCosta for their general manager opening, according to league sources. He has long been considered the eventual successor to G.M. Ozzie Newsome and t’s unknown whether he would leave Baltimore. Jeff Zrbiec of the Baltimore Sun reports the Chicago Bears have requested permission to speak with DeCosta also. It’s also believed that the Oakland Raiders have interest as well.
The Ravens have become an organization with sustained success on the field and behind the scenes, particularly in the draft. With DeCosta appointed as the director of player personnel, the Ravens drafted Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Jarret Johnson, Ray Rice, Ben Grubbs and Joe Flacco among others. With that track record and run of success, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that DeCosta has become such a hot commodity.
Zrebiec continues by saying that it would take an ideal situation for DeCosta to leave the Ravens and pass up the chance to eventually succeed current GM Ozzie Newsome.
As the Ravens prepare for next week and await the Texans, Broncos, or Steelers its worth noting that a front office hit losing a franchise mainstay like DeCosta – who has been with the Ravens since the beginning in 1996 – would certainly impact the Ravens short term and long term. The Baltimore Ravens front office has always been a well oiled machine and the blueprint for other teams in the league, however, when/if they lose DeCosta a huge void will have to be filled.
The first Monday after the conclusion of the regular season is never a good day for underachieving coaches and general managers in the NFL. This usually is the day where coaches and/or front office personnel are shown the door and sent packing. Thats why today is commonly known as “Black Monday” through out the NFL.
To no ones surprise, Black Monday is off and running.
Spags,Devaney out in St. Louis: Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reports that the Rams have fired coach Steve Spagnuolo. An interesting nugget from SI’s Peter King who points out Spagnuolo has lost lost more regular season games in three years than Bill Belichick has in more than a decade in New England. Yikes! Joining Spagnuolo on the unemployment block is G.M. Billy Devaney who was also fired. It’s safe to say the Rams are cleaning house.
I firmly believe the Rams coaching vacancy is arguably the most attractive job on the market. A franchise quarterback is already in place and the team has the second overall pick in April’s draft. There are pieces in place and with the right guy at the helm, I think the Rams can get things turned around quickly. If I’m Jeff Fisher, thats the job I want.
What a difference a year makes: One year after winning ten games and Coach of the Year honors, Raheem Morris has been fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This year, his team started out 4-2 but lost ten straight games to finish out the season.
Along with Morris,the rest of the coaching staff will be fired, too.
Unlike Rams G.M. Billy Devaney, who was fired along with coach Steve Spagnuolo, G.M. Mark Dominik is expected to stay. Dominik received a new contract after the season.
Indianapolis Colts vice chairman Bill Polian
Shake up in Indy: The Indianapolis Colts have cleaned house in their front office. Colts vice chairman Bill Polian and general manager Chris Polian have been relieved of their duties, a source told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen.
The Colts (2-14) finished with fewer than three wins for only the second time since moving to Indianapolis in 1984. The currently have the number one overall pick in April’s NFL Draft. One would think head coach Jim Caldwell will be fired as well but nothing official has been announced.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ season hasn’t been pretty. Yet, Sunday’s upset of the Green Bay Packers was an early Christmas for Chiefs fans. With a new coach and a new quarterback, the Chiefs put the first blemish on the Packers’ 2011 season and ended a 19-game winning streak.
Photo courtesy of Yahoo Sports/Getty Images
Countless sports writers and reporters probably dropped the “on any given Sunday” line when talking about the Chiefs’ 19-14 win. Really, for anyone who thinks the NFL is predictable, ponder this: Green Bay loses and Indianapolis wins.
On the same Sunday.
At about the same time the Colts’ plummet toward ignominy — and 0-16 — ended with a victory over Tennessee, the Packers’ pursuit of perfection also was stopped. Yep, the winless won and the undefeated fell.
The Packers’ 19-game winning streak, second longest in NFL history, was snapped with a 19-14 loss at Kansas City, a team that was routed by 27 points last weekend, then fired its coach. Defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay (13-1) won’t have to put up with questions about an undefeated season any more.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy maintained perspective after his team was handed it’s first loss in nearly a calendar year.
“I personally always viewed the undefeated season as, really, just gravy, the goal was to get home-field advantage and win the Super Bowl. That’s what we discussed. We were fortunate enough to be in the position to possibly achieve the undefeated season, but we still have the primary goal in front of us, and that’s to get home-field advantage.” Mike McCarthy
As for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, he had a tough day at the office. The Chiefs pressured Rodgers all game long and made him pay for his uncharacteristic mistakes.
The Chiefs defense, – which has been a bright spot in an otherwise miserable season- managed to hold Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense to season lows in total yardage (315) and points. All Pro linebacker Tamba Hali had three sacks, rookie end Allen Bailey another.
Rodgers, who was on pace to break Peyton Manning’s 7-year-old passer-rating record, had more misses than completions, finishing 17-for-35 for 235 yards. Those are decent numbers for mere mortals but are well below Rodgers usual eyebrow raising statistics.
The Chiefs improbable victory over the Packers wasn’t the only news worthy of headlines on Sunday. The winless Indianapolis Colts finally broke the streak and defeated the Tennessee Titans 27-13 following 13 straight defeats.
Dan Orlovsky (6) is congratulated by center Jeff Saturday as he carries off the game ball under his jersey following a 27-13 win over Tennessee Titans. AP Photo/AJ Mast
I didn’t think it could happen but yes, the Colts finally won one without Peyton Manning, who hasn’t played all season after neck surgery.
Quarterback Dan Orlovsky was relieved. He had previously played for the 2008 Lions, who were the only team to have went 0-16.
The league’s overall top spot still belongs to Green Bay; no one else has as few as two defeats. Green Bay finishes with home games against division rivals Chicago and Detroit, and might have a renewed focus after the flop in KC.
McCarthy certainly will be asking his players all week how their first loss since 31-27 at New England last Dec. 19 feels
We’re already one game into the Week 13 schedule in the NFL. On Thursday night, the Seattle Seahawks handed a 31-14 beat down to the reeling Philadelphia Eagles. For me, I’ve always looked at Week 13 as the point in the season where the hot seat really heats up. Of course, playoff clinching scenarios come in to play and for teams on the fringe it’s make or break time.
The hot seat heats up a little earlier for some coaches, but this is the time of year when speculation really heats up as to which coaches will be looking for work at seasons end. Coaching changes usually come in bunches and once the first one goes, it usually begins a domino effect. Well, the first domino has fallen in Jacksonville and Jack Del Rio is no longer employed.
This season, there are quite a few head coaches whose seat is getting warm and toasty right about now. Here are eight that should start polishing their resume.
1. Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings
Everyone expected the Vikings to struggle this year, but no one expected them to be this bad. Frazier is the one who lobbied to bring in Donovan McNabb and we all know how that experiment turned out. Minnesota is tied for the second worst record in football at 2-9 and could very well match the 1984 3-13 record. The defensive staff, which was retained from the Brad Childress era, will likely be tweaked. There are dead men walking in Winter Park, Minnesota, and Frazier could very well be one of them.
2. Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This year, the Bucs have been pretty good (see: upset of New Orleans in Tampa) or horrifyingly bad (see: blowouts against Houston and San Francisco). If you’re the Glazers and see a team cart-wheeling to the Earth in a fireball, crashing in front of an ocean of empty seats, in a market where the sports dollar is stretched thin, you may feel compelled to act. Morris is under contract through 2012 but given the way the Buccaneers have been blown out this season, that contract may very well be shortened.
3) Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
A funny thing happened in San Diego. In years past, the Chargers started slow and finished strong. This year, they started 4-1 and there were high hopes in Southern Cal. Turner’s five-year stint with the Chargers has been an example of the law of diminishing returns, given that San Diego won two playoff games and made the AFC title game in his first season of 2007, then won just one postseason game in 2008, none in 2009 and didn’t even make the 12-team playoff field in 2010. His career coaching record now stands at 103-112-1, including his previous stops in Washington and Oakland. Not good…
4. Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams
Spags may be liked and respected by his players and around the league, but it’s the bottom line that’s about to do him in. St. Louis is 10-33 in his 43-game tenure, and even if the Rams rally to a season-ending five-game winning streak, which doesn’t seem likely, Spagnuolo would still have won less than one-third of his games after taking over from the Scott Linehan-Jim Haslett regime in St. Louis. Expectations became sky high with last year’s 7-9 record and the hiring of Josh McDaniels, who was expected to take QB Sam Bradford’s game to the next level.
5. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
Reid must rue the day this past offseason when Vince Young referred to the Eagles as the “Dream Team”, because the dream has quickly turned into a nightmare. Reid may be the dean of head coaches in terms of continuous service and he may have won more than 60% of his games, but in this what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business, the Eagles have won just one of their past nine games at home, including last year’s first-round loss to Green Bay, and look almost assured of the franchise’s first losing record since 2005, the infamous Terrell Owens insubordination season.
6. Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins have played much better since their disastrous 0-7 start but the weight of expectations may be a little too heavy. Like the Wildcat offence that those 2008 Dolphins made famous, Miami flashed and then largely crashed and burned after that early success. The Dolphins (3-8) are headed for their third consecutive losing season. They still haven’t been able to get their quarterback issues fixed, and have lost home games at an alarming rate the past two seasons.
Sparano likely won’t have any problem getting his next assistant coaching job in the NFL. But his tenure as the boss in Miami has not gone well at all, and it would probably have been better for him if Dolphins owner Stephen Ross had been able to land his successor last offseason, when Ross embarrassed himself and the organization by going across the country in the failed pursuit of Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh.
7. Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts
Caldwell may be a nice guy, but he learned one lesson and he learned it fast. Without Peyton Manning, this team is bad. A lot of it has to do with the Colts brass, which was content to see the immediate results and failed/refused to address life after Peyton. As a result, the team that won the Super Bowl in 2009 may also be the next team to go 0 for the season.
Colts owner Jim Irsay is a patient man, and he might give Caldwell a free pass for this lost season. But he might also decide that Caldwell and his staff showed very little skill in making the best of a bad situation this year, and that a change must be made to at least assign some accountability for the Colts’ epic failure.
8. Tom Coughlin, New York Giants
If NFL seasons were only eight games long, Coughlin would be in the Hall of Fame by now. New York is 47-17 in the first half of the season from 2004. But Monday night’s brutal 49-24 loss at New Orleans was New York’s third straight defeat, which in a market like New York where losing is not an option, is enough to stir the masses.
Coughlin’s Giants are 24-35 in the season’s second half, and with games still remaining against Green Bay, Dallas (two) and the Jets, a 7-9 or 8-8 finish is very possible in New York. That should result in Coughlin, 65, not being asked back for 2012, the final season of his current contract. New York memorably went on that Super Bowl run in 2007 under Coughlin, but they haven’t won a playoff game since upsetting those 18-0 Patriots, and this would be the Giants’ third consecutive non-playoff season.
The 2011 NFL schedule enters Week 2 this Sunday, and as funny as it sounds, is this a “must win” week for some of the teams? In the NFL 16-game schedule, starting 0-2, or even worse 0-3, combined with playing in a tough division, you could be in trouble right away.
Indianapolis Colts – My, how the worm has turned! Staring 0-2 in the face, the Colts are an underdog this weekend at home to the Cleveland Browns. Yes, the Cleveland Browns! No Peyton Manning means a long season for the Colts, but if they can’t beat a team like the Browns at home and hold down the fort until Manning can return, then it could be Top 5 pick time for the Indianapolis Colts come April.
Dallas Cowboys – The Boys impressed a lot of doubters as they almost (and should have) beat the New York Jets last weekend in New York. This weekend they are in the “City by the Bay” to take on the San Francisco 49ers and the explosive Ted Ginn Jr. Playing in the same division with the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, and surprising Washington Redskins, Dallas cannot afford an 0-2 start if they are thinking post season. Things could unravel in Big D starting 0-2.
New Orleans Saints – The Saints were in a barn burner last week versus the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, and even though it was voted the game of the week by NFL critics, the Saints would like to forget about it! New Orleans surely doesn’t want to lose this weekend to the Chicago Bears at home, dropping them to 0-2 on the season. The NFC West is much stronger this season with the 49ers and Cardinals improving.
So what do you think NFL fans, is there a such thing as a must-win in Week 2?