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Monday, November 30, 2015


USC names Clay Helton permanent head coach, so no Chip Kelly


USC announced on Monday that Clay Helton has shed the interim label and been named the school’s permanent head football coach.

In a press release, USC athletic director Pat Haden said the Trojans had spent “weeks” interviewing candidates and speaking with NFL executives.

“After weeks of searching the collegiate and pro ranks, interviewing candidates and speaking with head coaches, athletic directors, NFL executives and very knowledgeable football people, and after observing Clay in action the past seven weeks, it became abundantly clear that what we were searching for in a coach was right here in front of us,” Haden said.

As Ian Rapoport of NFL Network notes, one of the NFL people USC checked in with was Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly.

Haden stressed that Helton was named permanent head coach because of the support he has received from current and former members of the program — not because of the Trojans’ big win over USC on Saturday. We’re sure it didn’t hurt, however.

For a while, the belief was that USC would be targeting a big name such as one of these two NFL head coaches. There’s no telling whether Kelly was Haden’s first choice, but this puts an end to what had become rampant speculation.

Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Brock Osweiler: Peyton Manning helped Broncos win with halftime advice

Peyton Manning

Brock Osweiler says Peyton Manning played a big role in helping the Denver Broncos defeat the New England Patriots Sunday night.

After leading his team to its biggest win of the season, Osweiler told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio that Manning was responsible for several key adjustments the Broncos made at halftime.

“Peyton was fantastic at halftime. He came up to me and — you know Peyton — of course, he had a list of things ready to talk about that he saw out there,” Osweiler said, per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk. “I’m not going to go into specifics, but he certainly did help me, and he helped this football team get a win today.”

Osweiler was more than likely responding to rumors that Manning has not been involved in helping the 25-year-old quarterback prepare. We should note that the Broncos really didn’t get things going until well into the second half when New England muffed a punt, but it sounds like Manning played at least some role in the comeback.

Of course, Osweiler was asked if he believes he has played well enough to remain the team’s starter for the rest of the season.

“I’m not sure about that,” he said. “The one thing I do know, though, this football team got a tremendous win tonight against a great opponent, in front of the best fans in the world, and I’m just going to enjoy this win tonight.”

Some of the reports we have heard about Manning over the past several days say it all. Even if the future Hall of Famer gets healthy, there’s no guarantee he is getting his job back. In the meantime, the best thing he can do from a PR standpoint is to not come across like Brett Favre came across when the Aaron Rodgers era began.

Tom Brady defends Darian Stewart over hit on Rob Gronkowski


Denver Broncos safety Darian Stewart took Rob Gronkowski out of Sunday night’s game with a hit to the right knee. Gronkowski appeared to be in tremendous pain and had to be carted off the field. Was it a dirty play?

Tom Brady doesn’t think so.

“I hate to see it, but it really is the only way defenders can hit now,” Brady said after the New England Patriots suffered their first loss of the season, via Nick Groke of The Denver Post. “I bet if you asked the players, they would really rather go high than low. I don’t think it’s dirty. I just think that’s how football is played now.”

Stewart said he was going for the ball, not Gronkowski’s knee.

“I was just trying to dislodge the ball,” he said. “You never want to see anyone get hurt.”

We’ve seen dirty plays, and the hit from Stewart on Gronk wasn’t one of them. If you haven’t seen the play, you can watch it here. It’s easy to nitpick when you watch something 40 times in slow motion, but defenders are trained to go low now to avoid being flagged for hitting a defenseless receiver in the head or neck area. There’s no way you can say Stewart intended to injury Gronkowski.

Fortunately for the Patriots, early indications are that Gronk has avoided the worst case scenario.

Brock Osweiler chose game-winning play for Broncos in OT


If Brock Osweiler stole Peyton Manning’s job Sunday night, a call the 25-year-old made in overtime will help validate Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak’s decision.

After Osweiler showed veteran poise by leading a five-play, 83-yard touchdown drive to take the lead with 1:22 remaining in regulation, Tom Brady came back and forced overtime by getting the Patriots in field goal range. But with the help of running back C.J. Anderson, Osweiler did it again in OT.

Anderson, who scored the game-winning touchdown on a 48-yard run, said after the game that Osweiler is the one who called the play. Peter King confirmed that in his column for the MMQB, noting that Osweiler called two plays in the huddle and changed the play at the line of scrimmage.

More from King:

In the huddle, Osweiler called two plays; coach and play-caller Gary Kubiak told Osweiler before the play, “You get us the best one.” Osweiler would give a signal once he saw how the Patriots aligned on defense. As the huddle broke, the quarterback told running back C.J. Anderson, “Hey man, just go. Make a play.”

Osweiler got to the line, under center, and surveyed the New England front. He was going to run C.J. Anderson to the weak side (that was his first call in the huddle) but saw something he didn’t like there—maybe an unblocked Rob Ninkovich hovering on the quarterback’s right. Whatever, he switched to a strong-side sweep to the left. “KILL! KILL! KILL!” he called, arms stretched out parallel to the ground. To the left, tight end Vernon Davis and a strong blocking wide receiver, Bennie Fowler, got ready to seal the left side for Anderson.

Osweiler even yelled “Omaha!” while making the adjustment.

Osweiler hasn’t exactly broken records in his first two NFL starts, but he led Denver to a win over a red-hot Bears team on the road last week and followed that up by ending New England’s undefeated season. He has thrown three touchdowns and just one interception. Manning threw a pick in every game he started this season.

Based on what we heard about Manning over the weekend, it sounds like the Broncos are almost certainly heading for an awkward situation.

Shannon Sharpe goes off on Tom Brady, Patriots fans after Broncos win

Shannon Sharpe CBSShannon Sharpe was thrilled after the Broncos put an end to the Patriots’ undefeated season Sunday night, and the Hall of Famer was anything but shy about it.

Before the game, Tom Brady had some fun with his opponent by posting a photoshop on Facebook that depicted him riding a bronco. After C.J. Anderson scored a game-winning touchdown in OT, Sharpe took aim at Brady.

The former Broncos tight end was just getting started. Sharpe then spent at least an hour sparring with Patriots fans on Twitter. He even continued the tolling on Monday morning.


Rob Gronkowski knee injury not thought to be serious

Rob Gronkowski cart

When Rob Gronkowski was down on the field in Denver Sunday night, pounding the snow-filled turf in pain, many thought the worst about his knee injury. Fortunately it looks like the New England Patriots stud avoided a serious injury.

Reports are saying the extent of Gronk’s knee injury may not be as bad as it looked.

On a night when the team lost its perfect record with a road loss to the Broncos, this is about the best news Patriots fans could hear. As long as Gronk can return in time for the playoffs, the Patriots should be fine. If he’s back earlier to help them challenge for the top seed and homefield advantage throughout the postseason, all the better.

Rob Gronkowski suffers knee injury against Broncos (Video)

Rob Gronkowski knee

Rob Gronkowski was carted off the field with what appeared to be a serious right knee injury towards the end of Sunday’s Patriots-Broncos game.

The Patriots were leading 21-17 against Denver with under three minutes left when Gronk was hurt. He had just caught a pass to give the Pats a first down, and Tom Brady went to him again. The pass was an incompletion and Gronk’s right knee was blown up by Darian Stewart:

Gronk seemed to be in a lot of pain as he was pounding the ground around him. He was carted off the field and taken into the X-ray room.

Luckily Gronk was able to walk on his own after exiting the X-ray room:

Patriots fans are hoping it was just a hyperextension and not too serious.

Ndamukong Suh calls out Ian Rapoport for negative report

Ndamukong Suh

If you’re going to report negative information about people, you better be prepared to be on the receiving end of some vitriol. Hopefully that was the case with NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.

Rapoport reported on NFL Network Sunday morning that Ndamukong Suh gave a fiery speech to his teammates to get them ready for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, which they ended up losing 38-20. The main nugget to emerge from the report was that at one point Suh told his teammates they weren’t good enough to play with him.

After Sunday’s game, Suh disputed the report. His teammates did too, according to one reporter.

Suh also decided to address the report via social media. He posted the following on Instagram regarding Rapoport:

This is the latest of many negative headlines involving Suh this season. Besides the supposedly insulting speech he delivered to teammates, there have been reports that Suh ignored his coaches’ calls earlier this season. There was another report saying he was purposely disrespectful towards a coach.

Things have not exactly been going swimmingly for Suh’s Dolphins as they are 4-7 this season. Suh has another five years left on the nine-figure contract he signed with them over the offseason.

Lakers give letter from Kobe Bryant to fans attending game


On Sunday, Kobe Bryant announced this season would be final one via a poem written for The Players Tribune. That same day, the Lakers played a home game against the Pacers. Those who attended the game were given a special souvenir.

Upon entering Staples Center, fans received the above pictured letter. It reads:

When we first met I was just a kid. Some of you took me in. Some of you didn’t. But all of you helped me become the player and man in front of you today. You gave me confidence to put my anger to good use. Your doubt gave me determination to prove you wrong. You witnessed my fears morph into strength. Your rejection taught me courage.

Whether you view me as a hero or a villain, please know I poured every emotion, every bit of passion and my entire self into being a Laker. What you’ve done for me is far greater than anything I’ve done for you. I knew that each minute of each game that I wore purple and gold. I honor it as I play today and for the rest of this season.

My love for this city, this team, and for each of you will never fade. Thank you for this incredible journey.

His final NBA season will be Kobe’s 20th with the Lakers. For everyone who remembers Bryant at his peak, watching him this season has been difficult. Father Time is undefeated and it’s obvious he has laid a hand on Bryant.

However, from now until the end of the season, the focus won’t be as much on Bryant’s production on the court. It will, instead, be a celebration of one the great careers the league has ever seen as Bryant makes his way around to NBA arenas for the final time.

Photo via: Twitter/ArashMarkazi

Jahlil Okafor tweets about recent off-court issues

Jahlil Okafor fight

The Sixers selected Jahlil Okafor with the third overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Since then, the 19-year-old has had a few issues away from the basketball court that have overshadowed his play on it.

Okafor was reportedly involved in an incident outside of a Philadelphia nightclub in October where words were exchanged with a heckler, who later pointed a gun at the Sixers center. There was also the recent fight in Boston that included Okafor punching a man. As if that wasn’t enough, Okafor was pulled over for doing 108 m.p.h. on the Ben Franklin Bridge between Philadelphia and New Jersey a few weeks ago.

Okafor told reporters on Friday he is embarrassed about what happened and called it “dumb” on his part. On Sunday, Okafor issued a statement via his Twitter account about his recent off-the-court issues.

The Sixers have supported Okafor thus far and many will point out that he’s just 19-years-old. That said, there is obviously a pattern of behavior that will need to be changed for Jahlil Okafor to have the career he and the Sixers envisioned. Okafor is averaging 18 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game through the first 17 games of his NBA career.

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