Pete Carroll to Tempt Fate, Punt to Devin Hester in Playoff Game

Maybe Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is just talking here, because I can’t believe he would be this dumb. The Seattle coach, whose 7-9 team advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs after upsetting the Saints last weekend, has a rematch with the Bears in Chicago Sunday. The Seahawks actually beat the Bears at Soldier Field in week six despite allowing a punt return for a TD by Devin Hester late in the game. Apparently that wasn’t enough to keep Carroll from kicking to the game’s finest returner:

“We’ve got to kick the ball to him,” Carroll said on “The Afternoon Saloon” on ESPN 1000. “There’s nothing we can do about it. “We want to try to minimize his factor. … We’ll do the best we can,” Carroll said. “You have to be very disciplined about the way you play him. He’s just too good. And he’s so explosive.”

Actually, there is something you can do about it — not kick to the man! On punts, you can boot the ball out of bounds without being penalized. On kickoffs, try to put it through the back of the end zone (easier said than done). I just can’t believe that after being burned by Hester once already that Carroll would give him the chance to repeat his success. I won’t believe sneaky Petey until I see it on Sunday.

Terrell Suggs T-Shirt Sends an Unoriginal Message to Pittsburgh Steelers

Is this the WWE or the NFL?  The line is starting to get a little blurred.  Between Antonio Cromartie’s explicit message to Tom Brady and now Terrell Suggs’ explicit t-shirt flipping off Steelers fans, I’m starting to wonder if this is the Wednesday before the Divisional Round of the playoffs or the Wednesday before Wrestlemania.  These two loud mouths will probably be embraced by Vince McMahon when they decide to give up football.  Check out this picture from Suggs’ Twitter that Pro Football Talk pointed out to us:

Not only is the message unoriginal, but we’ve seen this type of delivery from Suggs before when it comes to the Steelers.  Remember this t-shirt?  Whether it involves a microphone in his face or an article of clothing, Suggs has to stir up controversy and capture the spotlight any way he can.  It will be interesting to see who backs up their trash talk come this weekend — if anyone.

Jim Caldwell Timeout Against Jets Was Not a Bad Decision

There hasn’t been much Jim Caldwell has done that has impressed me since he became head coach of the Colts before last season. In some senses he’s a victim of the same tool that has led to his success — having Peyton Manning on your team helps you win as a coach, but Manning’s prowess as an on-field coach detracts from the praise the head coach receives. Caldwell’s quiet demeanor and shy mannerisms certainly don’t help his case with the media either. Though Caldwell seems to be unremarkable as a coach, he’s been taking an unfair beating this week.

The Colts coach has been criticized for calling timeout in the final minute of Indianapolis’ loss to the Jets Saturday. The Colts had taken the lead on an Adam Vinatieri field goal but they left a minute on the clock for the Jets who got an excellent return from Antonio Cromartie on the kickoff. All it took was two straight passes to get the Jets into field goal range at the 34. They then ran LaDainian Tomlinson for two yards to the 32, converting a first down. That’s when Jim Caldwell called a timeout to stop the clock — a call that has resulted in a bevy of criticism.

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Ed Reed Returns to Ravens After Visiting Family, Search Called Off for Brother

Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed returned to the Ravens’ practice facility after spending some time back home in Louisiana visiting with his family, which is dealing with the disappearance of Reed’s brother Brian. Brian Reed went missing on January 7th when he reportedly jumped into the Mississippi River while fleeing police. Investigators founds Brian Reed’s shoes and jacket, but have called off the search for Reed himself.

Ed Reed stayed with his team and played in the Ravens’ 30-7 drubbing of the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s Wild Card game. Reed had a solid, if not spectacular game, recording four tackles including a devastating hit on Chiefs running back Dexter McCluster. After the game, the Ravens presented Reed with a game ball for him and his family. An emotional Reed accepted the ball saying, “I know my brother, he loved football, but he wanted to beat Pittsburgh and now I want a Bowl.”

Reed is an unbelievable talent, leading the NFL with eight interceptions during the regular season, despite missing the first sex games of the year. He returned to the team after just one day home with his family, indicating he’s a teammate any player would love to have. He’s obviously committed to his teammates and the Ravens organization and wants to play well and win for his missing brother, but I don’t think anyone would have held it against him if he spent a little more time with his grieving family.

Everyone handles grief differently. Many people look for things to distract them, and preparing for a playoff game against a bitter division rival would definitely fit that bill. I’m sure Reed’s family was very supportive of his decision to return to Baltimore. I just hope Reed’s preparation for a football game doesn’t come at the expense of his family.

January Is the Season for NFL and College Football Coaches to be Fired and Hired

Ah, January. ‘Tis the firing season in football, the holiday cheer just an enigma. Once the Hanukkah latkes and Christmas ham-induced haze wears off, reality sets in. Two sets of 8 crazy days and nights was about all that Mike Haywood had on the job at the University of Pittsburgh. Oy! There were certainly more French Hens than victories given by the Carolina Panthers to their disposed head-coach John Fox. Hail the new, ye lads and lasses, because there have been already been five coaching changes in the professional ranks (with possibly more on the way) since the start of the 2010 NFL season, not to mention 19 college programs and counting, which are working on new figureheads/placeholders/marked men.

Folks in Seattle are Carrolling over a 7-9 season that somehow ended with the Seahawks winning in the postseason despite their own best efforts. Meanwhile, on the opposite coast, Tony Sparano was on the verge of getting the Tony Soprano treatment after the Dolphins finished with an equivalent mark but ended up nowhere near the playoffs and only missed the bottom of the division because the Buffalo Bills wear cement shoes. After Miami’s brass (not knuckles) gives him the vote of confidence, he should be finished quicker than a plate of rigatoni at Patsy’s.

In the case of Haywood, he went from Miami of Ohio to replacing Dave Wannstedt to da unemployment line in a matter of just over two weeks after his New Year’s Eve buffoonery. Perhaps attending that Mike Price coaching seminar wasn’t a good idea after all. Even George O’Leary probably thinks Coach Haywood should take a couple of courses on sociology at NYU-Stony Brook… Oh, that’s right, it doesn’t exist. If only he were a basketball coach, maybe Billy Donovan could have given him a job with the Orlando Magic or Rick Majerus with USC.

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Antonio Cromartie: Tom Brady is An A-Hole, F*** Him

It’s official: the New York Jets do not believe in the concept of bulletin board material.  If they did, they might take a tiny step back from all the trash talk they have been doing in the days leading up to their Divisional Round date with New England.  It started with Rex Ryan saying Peyton Manning is a better quarterback than Tom Brady because Manning studies more and Brady gets more help from his coaches.  Later, Rex claimed Brady acts like a jerk on the field and points at the Jets sideline after touchdowns.  If it wasn’t already personal, it just reached that level.

The NY Daily News asked Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie about Brady’s alleged finger pointing on Tuesday, and here’s what he had to say.

“We see that a lot. He does it a lot. That’s the kind of guy he is. We really don’t give a damn, to tell you the truth. (He’s) an a**hole. F*** him.

If Brady was a trash talker, he could respond by saying something along the lines of, “This is coming from a guy who can’t remember the names of his own kids.”  However, we all know he’s not.  Brady and the Patriots will tuck this away — with all the other shots the Jets are taking — and discuss it behind closed doors come Saturday night and Sunday morning before the big game.

The Jets obviously have a chance to win the game.  They’re in the second round of the playoffs again for a reason.  I just don’t understand what they think they have to gain from doing all this talking.  Maybe Cromartie should give Anthony Smith a call and ask what happened to him the time he thought it was a good idea to rag on the Patriots.  Contrary to what they may believe, the Jets are not making life easier on themselves on the week goes on.

John Harbaugh ‘Glad’ Ravens Broke Ben Roethlisberger’s Nose

For those of who who think NFL players and coaches take fines for illegal hits seriously, John Harbaugh provided a perfect example for the contrary on Monday.  You might remember the pictures of Ben Roethlisberger’s nasty broken nose we featured about a month ago.  Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata ended up paying a $15,000 fine for the shot to Big Ben’s head that rearranged his face, but that doesn’t mean John Harbaugh is asking his players to be more cautious this time around.

“He’s a tough guy,” Harbaugh said according to Pro Football Talk. “He had the broken nose. I was glad we broke his nose and then I was very impressed that he played through it. Obviously, you can throw very effectively with a broken nose – he proved that.”

Harbaugh then went on to say his team is going to “try to get after him like we always do.”  He knows the hit was illegal, and he’s going about it the way a coach should.  Everyone knows teams are willing to pay the fine for a player if it means setting the tone in a game, as long as it’s nothing too dirty or over-the-top.  I’m sure Roethlisberger understands that and is in no way offended.

As a side note, what a special treat we’re getting with the Ravens playing the Steelers and the Jets playing the Patriots in the divisional round this weekend.  The teams in both match-ups hate each other and are meeting for the third time this season after splitting their regular season series.  We should be in for one of the hardest-hitting weekends of playoff football you can ask for.