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#pounditTuesday, January 31, 2023

Stories by Steve DelVecchio:

Jets make their QB plans for 2023 clear

Robert Saleh talks with the media

Jul 27, 2021; Florham Park, NJ, United States; New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh talks with the media on training camp report day at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets have insisted they remain committed to Zach Wilson heading into 2023, but it sounds like the quarterback will face an uphill battle if he wants to win the starting job.

Jets head coach Robert Saleh on Thursday told reporters that the team is “committed to finding a veteran.” He said that was a big focus when interviewing offensive coordinator candidates and ultimately deciding to hire Nathaniel Hackett.

“The quarterback position, obviously, with all the different interviews was the No. 1 concern, and rightfully so,” Saleh said. “It was simple — we’re committed to finding a veteran. We didn’t get into names. I doubt that (Hackett) has even studied those guys yet, which he’s gonna start next week. We didn’t get into specifics with names, but it was talked about that we do plan on bringing in a veteran quarterback if we can. We do want to continue working with Zach and continuing to develop him.”

That meshes with what Jets owner Woody Johnson said right after the season ended.

Wilson is playing under a rookie contract, and he has very little trade value. The Jets have a strong roster and were in the playoff hunt for a good portion of the season. They have publicly acknowledged that they need to upgrade at the QB position, so their plan is likely to have Wilson spend a season on the bench next year barring an injury or unexpected change.

The big question, of course, is who the Jets will target. One reporter thinks they could be a sleeper to land a franchise-changing player.

Rams hire notable new offensive coordinator

Sean McVay smiles

Aug 19, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay on the Amazon Prime Thursday Night Football set before the game against the Houston Texans at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mike LaFleur parted ways with the New York Jets recently following two rough seasons as the team’s offensive coordinator, but he has already landed another job.

The Los Angeles Rams have hired LaFleur as their new offensive coordinator, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports.

There were rumblings almost immediately after LaFleur was fired by the Jets that he could join Sean McVay’s staff in L.A., as there are strong connections between the two.

Mike LaFleur is the younger brother of Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur. Though Mike and McVay have not been on a coaching staff together, McVay and Matt LaFleur have coached together twice. McVay and Matt LaFleur were on the Washington Redskins’ coaching staff from 2010-2013. Matt LaFleur also served as McVay’s offensive coordinator for the Rams in 2017.

The Rams needed a new offensive coordinator after Liam Coen returned to the same role at Kentucky. McVay’s team is coming off an uncharacteristically bad year in which they ranked 27th in the NFL with just 18.1 points per game. Injuries had a lot to do with that, but the Rams are hoping LaFleur can help fix their scheme as well.

Clemson guard Brevin Galloway reveals he suffered horrifying injury

Brevin Galloway in a hospital bed

Clemson guard Brevin Galloway is expected to miss multiple games after he suffered a freak injury this week, and his description of the emergency situation is enough to induce nightmares.

Galloway posted a video on Instagram Thursday that showed him in a hospital bed recalling the horrific event that led him there. The senior said he went through his usual workout on Thursday morning and returned home to take a nap. When he woke up, his testicles were severely swollen. Galloway went to the doctor and had to have emergency surgery to address the issue.

“This morning I went to lift, I came back, I took a nap, I woke up from my nap, and my balls and nut sack were exploded,” Galloway said. “Now, I go to the doctor, I have surgery three hours later, my balls are reduced to a normal size. I don’t know what happened to my balls. I guess they were trying to be like basketballs, but we made it.”

You can see the video below, but beware that it obviously contains a graphic description:

Galloway added that he is unsure of exactly what happened but described it as “the worst pain I’ve ever experienced.” He said he expects to return to Clemson in seven days, which means he will miss at least Saturday’s game against Florida State and Tuesday’s game against Boston College.

Galloway has started 20 of 21 games for Clemson this season. He is the team’s fourth-leading scorer with 10.6 points per game.

Clemson is 17-4 and ranked No. 24 in the nation. Guards Chase Hunter and Alex Hemenway have been out with foot injuries, so the Tigers’ depth will be tested even more now that Galloway is sidelined.

Bill Belichick leaning toward surprising decision with coaching staff?

Bill Belichick during a game

Nov 18, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick walks on the field before a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots made one significant change to their coaching staff when they hired Bill O’Brien, but the offensive coordinator’s arrival is not necessarily going to lead to any noteworthy firings.

Matt Patricia and Joe Judge saw their reputations take a beating this past season. Patricia, who was a defensive assistant for almost all of his first stint with the Patriots from 2004-2017, rejoined Belichick’s staff last year in an offensive role. He was given control of playcalling, and the results were disastruos.

Judge, a former Patriots special teams coordinator, returned to New England as quarterbacks coach. Like Patricia, he reportedly had serious issues while working with Mac Jones.

Despite all that, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported on Thursday that both Patricia and Judge could remain with the Patriots in 2023. Patricia may stick around in a different role, though he is said to be assessing his future. Judge is expected to return next season in a role other than quarterbacks coach.

That means Belichick is not planning to fire Patricia or Judge. That will come as a surprise to many given the very public issues New England’s coaching staff had this past season. However, Belichick has a history with both assistants and did not exactly put them in positions to succeed.

There was never really a chance that Patricia, a former defensive coordinator, was going to excel as an offensive playcaller. Belichick said back in training camp that what happens with the team is ultimately his responsibility, and firing Patricia and Judge would run counter to that line of thinking.

Stetson Bennett makes decision on Senior Bowl

Stetson Bennett ready to throw

Oct 10, 2020; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) passes the ball against the Tennessee Volunteers during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Stetson Bennett is hoping to parlay his amazing run at Georgia into a successful NFL career, but the quarterback is passing up at least one opportunity to showcase his talents for scouts.

Bennett will not take part in the Senior Bowl on Feb. 4, according to Outkick’s Trey Wallace. Senior Bowl executive Jim Nagy said there were discussions with Bennett’s people over the past week about the two-time national champion playing, but Bennett has decided he wants to focus on the Scouting Combine and NFL Draft.

That means Bennett has likely worn his Bulldogs helmet for the final time. His college career certainly ended on a high note. Bennett accounted for six touchdowns in Georgia’s 65-7 blowout victory over TCU in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Bennett led Georgia to back-to-back national titles. He drew some criticism for his behavior while celebrating the most recent championship, though he did not seem to care.

While he will go down as one of the most accomplished college quarterbacks of all time, Bennett is hardly considered a slam-dunk NFL prospect. Most analysts predict he will not be drafted earlier than the fifth round. Bennett obviously does not feel the Senior Bowl would help him improve his stock.

Legendary college basketball announcer Billy Packer dies at 82

Billy Packer interviews OJ Mayo

Jan 19, 2008; Los Angeles, CA; USA; Southern California Trojans guard O.J. Mayo (32) is interviewed by Billy Packer of CBS Sports after 72-63 victory over the UCLA Bruins at Pauley Pavillion. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

College basketball legend Billy Packer has died.

Packer’s sons, Mark and Brandt Packer, shared the news on social media Thursday night that the longtime announcer and former Wake Forest star has died at the age of 82.

Mark Packer told The Associated Press that Billy had been hospitalized in Charlotte for several weeks due to medical issues. His cause of death was kidney failure.

Packer is best known for being the color voice of the Final Four from 1975-2008. He covered a total of 34 Final Fours for CBS and NBC. He was on the call for some of the most memorable games in NCAA Tournament history, including when Magic Johnson’s Michigan team beat Larry Bird and Indiana in the 1979 national championship.

Packer was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

Dick Vitale was among those who shared tributes to Packer after learning of his death.

Packers attended Wake Forest from 1958-1962. He was named All-ACC in 1961 and 1962 and led the Demon Deacons to three ACC titles. Packer also helped Wake Forest reach their first ever Final Four in 1962.

Tom Brady entered 2022 knowing it was a lost season?

Tom Brady after a game

Sep 9, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts after defeating the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did not look like a legitimate Super Bowl contender for the overwhelming majority of the 2022 season, which came as a surprise many people. Apparently Tom Brady saw it coming.

ESPN’s Jeff Darlington on Thursday published a report that included some intriguing information about Brady’s past, present and future. One of the interesting revelations the NFL insider made is that Brady was well aware that the issues he had in his personal life could negatively impact the Bucs.

As Darlington described it, Brady’s mental focus was “gone for a bulk of the season.” The 45-year old quarterback also lost a significant amount of weight, and he had a feeling the challenges he dealt with off the field could doom the 2022 Bucs.

“Brady also knows his own mental focus was gone for a bulk of the season — his physical stature, faced with 15 pounds of weight loss, also in peril,” Darlington said. “He felt at times like his preseason anguish ended his chances at success before the regular season even started.”

You can hear the full report below:

Brady has never been the most physically gifted player in the NFL. His meticulous preparation and unmatched passion for winning are the attributes that have always set him apart from his peers. Both of those likely took a hit when he and his wife Gisele Bundchen were going through a divorce.

If you remember, there were reports during training camp that Brady had poor body language and did not look like himself. That was before he made the unprecedented move of leaving his teammates for 11 days during the most important part of the offseason. There was always a chance that would put the Bucs in a hole, and it seems like even Brady knows that it did.

Reporter says Jeff Saturday trying to use media connections to land Colts job

Jeff Saturday with a headset on

Indianapolis Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday walks the sideline Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Photo Credit: Jenna Watson/IndyStar/USA TODAY NETWORK

Jeff Saturday remains in the running for the Indianapolis Colts’ head coach job, and he is reportedly trying to work all of his connections to land the position.

Saturday was an analyst at ESPN for several years before the Colts stunned the football world and named him interim head coach. The former center won his first game after taking over for former head coach Frank Reich, but Indy then lost seven straight to close out the season. Despite that, Saturday is expected to have a second interview with the Colts in the near future.

According to Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star, it may be by design that there have been so many reports about Saturday being a top candidate for the Colts job. Saturday has reportedly been trying to use his media connections to boost his chances of being hired by the Colts.

“Since the season ended, Saturday has put on a full-court press with his friends in the media,” Doyel wrote on Thursday. “He’s been especially active with his former colleagues at ESPN, spinning them every which way.”

It is unclear whether Saturday has had success with that approach. Most Colts fans want the team to go in a different direction. If Saturday is hired, it probably will not be because any of his buddies in the media propped him up. He has a close relationship with Colts owner Jim Irsay, who seems to view Saturday as his top candidate.

Saturday played for the Colts from 1999-2011 and won a Super Bowl with the team. He made the Pro Bowl six times and was a fan favorite. That is probably part of the reason Irsay likes him so much, but most people seem to agree that an experienced candidate would be better suited for the job.

Panthers hire big-name head coach

David Tepper at a Panthers game

Jul 26, 2018; Spartanburg, SC, USA; Carolina Panthers new owner David Tepper walks to the field during training camp held at Wofford College. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers have hired a new head coach, and they went with an experienced candidate.

Frank Reich has agreed to a deal to become the new head coach of the Panthers, the team announced on Thursday.

Reich, 61, was the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts for four-plus seasons from 2018-2022. He was fired halfway through the season this year after the team got off to a 3-5-1 start.

Reich had two winning seasons with the Colts. He led them to the playoffs his first year on the job in 2018 after a 10-6 year. Indy beat the Houston Texans in the Wild Card round before losing to the Kansas City Chiefs. Andrew Luck then shockingly decided to retire, but the Colts still got back to the playoffs two years later.

The Panthers fired Matt Rhule this season and named Steve Wilks interim head coach. Wilks was a finalist for the full-time job before Carolina hired Reich.

Reich has strong ties to the Panthers organization. He was a quarterback for the team in their inaugural season in 1995. His daughter also recently started working in Carolina’s marketing department. It is not all that surprising that the Panthers chose him given those connections and his strong resume.

Report: Favorite emerges for Broncos head coach job

George Paton before a game

Nov 28, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos general manager George Paton before the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos appear to be zeroing in on a new head coach.

San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans has emerged as the “top candidate” for the Broncos job, Mike Klis of 9 News reports.

The Broncos have only had one interview with Ryans. They will have to wait until after the Niners face the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday if they want to meet with him again.

Broncos owner and CEO Greg Penner has been very involved with the team’s search for a new head coach. He, general manager George Paton, and part-owner Condoleezza Rice were impressed with Ryans after interviewing him last Thursday in San Francisco, according to Klis.

Ryans, 38, is a former Pro Bowl linebacker who has been a coach on the 49ers’ staff since 2017. He has served as their defensive coordinator the last two seasons. The Niners have had one of the best defenses in the NFL this season. If the Broncos want to hire Ryans, they cannot officially do so until San Francisco’s season ends.

It looked for a while like Sean Payton was the favorite to land the Broncos job, but he appears to have other plans.

The Broncos may have narrowed their search down to Ryans and one other candidate, but Ryans may have the upper hand.