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#pounditFriday, December 3, 2021

Stories by Grey Papke:

Bears players want Matt Nagy fired?

Matt Nagy

The Chicago Bears are on their way to a lost season, and the locker room is apparently fed up with how things are going.

Bears coach Matt Nagy has lost the locker room and an “overwhelming” number of players want him fired, according to ESPN’s Jordan Schultz. Nagy already had locker room issues in 2020, but the poor 2021 season has only exacerbated issues.

However, the Bears appear reluctant to let Nagy go during the season, as the Bears franchise has never done so in its history.

Nagy’s offense has been a consistent issue, and his handling of rookie quarterback Justin Fields has also been subject to criticism at times this season. There is definitely some evidence that he hasn’t been good for Fields’ development. That case grows every week as the offense continues to look inept no matter who’s under center.

The Bears posted a 12-4 record under Nagy during his first season, but he has not been able to replicate that success. It was followed up with consecutive 8-8 seasons and the bottom is falling out this year. It would be a surprise if he keeps his job, though it seems the Bears would prefer to wait until the end of the season to make the move.

Photo: Jun 13, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy is interviewed during Veteran Minicamp at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Taysom Hill agrees to very unusual contract extension with Saints

Taysom Hill

The New Orleans Saints are keeping Taysom Hill in the fold with a very unique contract extension.

Hill has agreed to a four-year contract extension with the Saints with $22.5 million guaranteed, as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The total value is where the unique part comes in, as the total money Hill is owed will depend on what position he plays.

Hill would earn $40 million based on his current role, which sees him play as a receiving skill player. If Hill were to become the Saints starting quarterback, his potential earnings would increase significantly.

There isn’t really another contract like this, but that makes sense with Hill. Right now, he’s primarily a receiver who is used in gadget run plays. He could theoretically take over as quarterback, as he had the chance to win that role prior to the season. Hill will no doubt want to make that happen, though he may have to win over the team on that possibility.

Hill signed a four-year extension in March, but that was deceptive and still left 2021 as his final guaranteed year with New Orleans. He’ll be staying long-term now in some form.

TCU reportedly closing in on new head coach

Sonny Dykes during pregame

The TCU Horned Frogs appear to have made a decision on whom they want to replace Gary Patterson as head coach.

SMU coach Sonny Dykes is the frontrunner to take over the TCU job, according to Blake Brockermeyer, Jeremy Clark, Billy Embody, and Chris Hummer of 247 Sports. Dykes has an offer on the table from TCU for over $4 million per year, while SMU has put forward a similar offer to try to keep him.

The 52-year-old Dykes has a TCU tie, as he spent the 2017 season as an offensive analyst on Patterson’s staff. He moved on to SMU after that, where he has posted a 30-17 record.

Despite rumors linking one high-profile coach to the job, Dykes looks to have been the clear frontrunner at TCU all along. In fact, the Horned Frogs tipped their hand when they moved on from Patterson when they did, as they did not want Dykes going to another school before they had a crack at hiring him. When Texas Tech went in another direction with its hire, it was a pretty solid indicator that TCU has won the race for Dykes.

Photo: Dec 20, 2017; Frisco, TX, United States; Southern Methodist Mustangs head coach Sonny Dykes on the field before the game against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the 2017 Frisco Bowl at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Carr has blunt message for Raiders after latest loss

Derek Carr with a helmet on

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr sounds a bit frustrated with some of his teammates after the team’s third consecutive loss on Sunday.

The Raiders were on the wrong side of a 32-13 blowout at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. The team’s struggling offense failed to score 20 points or more for the third consecutive week, and the team is now 5-5 after a 3-0 start.

Speaking to the media after the game, Carr had a pointed message that seemed to be directed at some of his teammates. The Raiders have a short week as they play in Dallas on Thanksgiving, and the quarterback suggested it could be a good thing because it wouldn’t leave time for too much relaxation.

“In a way, it hopefully will be good for our guys,” Carr said of the short week. “Either we go home and we go to work or we can be out on the strip and we go to late dinners and these kinds of things, or we can get back to work and try to get a win.”

It’s an interesting comment, and it could certainly imply that Carr thinks some teammates have been doing a bit too much of that in Las Vegas. It seems a bit specific and targeted to be a routine and meaningless remark.

The Raiders have faced a number of distractions throughout the season, some particularly shocking and troubling. Carr’s message seems to be that nobody should be contributing to any more avoidable issues.

Photo: Sep 13, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) before playing against the Baltimore Ravens at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Fields may not start for Bears even if healthy?

Justin Fields

Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy appears to be bringing back the quarterback carousel as the season moves into its closing stages.

Starting quarterback Justin Fields suffered a rib injury in Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Fields had been struggling even before the injury, however, and backup Andy Dalton made the game interesting by throwing for 201 yards and two touchdowns.

After the game, Nagy seemingly hinted that Fields was at risk of being benched even if he is healthy enough to start Thursday against the Detroit Lions.

“I’m not getting into any of that,” Nagy said when asked that question, via Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times.

It’s hard to see any point to Nagy’s equivocating. He already did this earlier in the season after making Andy Dalton the starter, which he obviously didn’t stick to. Putting Fields in limbo is hardly going to help the rookie’s development either.

The real issue seems to be Nagy’s offense, which hasn’t been any good all season no matter who has been at quarterback. Even Nagy has been forced to admit that, and it’s why he’s on the hot seat.

Video: Pete Carroll cuts press conference short after loss

Pete Carroll smiles at a press conference

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll let his frustration boil over after his team’s latest loss.

The Seahawks fell to 3-7 with Sunday’s 23-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The offense struggled, and the Seahawks were unable to take advantage of an Arizona team missing both Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins.

Carroll was unable to hide his frustration during his postgame press conference. Roughly seven minutes into it, he pronounced himself done and walked away from the podium while a reporter was in the middle of a question.

To his credit, Carroll returned a few minutes later and apologized for walking off. He admitted that it was the most frustrated he’s ever been since taking over the Seattle job.

Carroll isn’t alone in his frustration, with one of his star players attributing his recent on-field outburst to the team’s struggles. It’s understandable to a degree, as the Seahawks haven’t had a losing season since they went 7-9 in 2011. That was Carroll’s second season at the helm. The organization is used to success, but it’s not happening this season.

Did Isaiah Stewart run into tunnel hunting for LeBron James?

Isaiah Stewart runs in the tunnel

Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart was so irate after his confrontation with LeBron James that he appeared ready to go after the Lakers star in the tunnel.

James was ejected during Sunday night’s game in Detroit after he took an apparent shot at Stewart’s face while the two were competing for a rebound (video here). The confrontation left Stewart bloody and irate, and the Pistons center basically wanted to take on the entire Lakers team in response.

Stewart was assessed two technical fouls for his reaction to the incident and was subsequently ejected. He seemed to have calmed down as he began moving toward the tunnel, but TV cameras caught him breaking away from his teammates and charging into the tunnel as if he were pursuing someone.

Stewart’s reason for running through the tunnel wasn’t clear. There was speculation that Stewart may have wanted to use the tunnel to go around and access the Laker bench. The teammates who were following Stewart looked like they were trying to prevent that from happening.

It’s not unprecedented for on-court conflicts to spread into the tunnel. The tunnel charge was a pretty solid indication of just how angry Stewart was, and how unwilling he was to calm down and let it go.

Jets player not impressed with Tua Tagovailoa despite big game

Tua Tagovailoa at a press conference

Tua Tagovailoa had one of his best NFL performances on Sunday. That didn’t impress at least one opponent, though.

New York Jets defensive end John Franklin-Myers characterized Tagovailoa’s performance in Miami’s 24-17 win as throwing up “prayers” that sometimes went answered.

This doesn’t really check out. Tagovailoa went an efficient 27-of-33 for 273 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. That’s a lot of answered prayers.

Tagovailoa has received plenty of criticism during his career, and some of it has come from opponents. His decision-making and his reading of defenses has come under scrutiny. It’s often been quite valid. Here, though, it sounds like sour grapes from a team that made Tagovailoa look very good.

It probably doesn’t help that Franklin-Myers, who has four sacks on the year, only collected one QB hit on Sunday.

Photo: Oct 15, 2021; Ware, United Kingdom; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) at a press conference at the Hanbury Marriott Manor and Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports