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#pounditThursday, January 21, 2021

Football

Brian Urlacher’s brother Casey receives pardon from Donald Trump

Brian Urlacher

Brian Urlacher’s brother Casey received a pardon from Donald Trump during the president’s final hours in the White House.

Casey Urlacher was charged in February 2020 with conspiracy and running an illegal gambling business. He is accused of acting as an agent for an offshore gambling ring. Casey Urlacher is accused of recruiting bettors around the Chicago area in exchange for a cut of their eventual losses. He was one of 10 people charged for the ring.

The 41-year-old pleaded not guilty to the charges in March 2020. He and other defendants were close to pleading guilty as part of a deal that could have come through at the next hearing on Feb. 11.

Casey, a former football player in the Arena League, served as mayor of Mettawa, Illinois from 2013 until resigning after being charged last year. His pardon seemed to be facilitated by his famous brother, a Pro Football Hall of Famer. Brian Urlacher met with Trump in March 2020, and boasted on social media about how well things went.

Casey was one of more than 140 individuals granted clemency by Trump in his final hours as president. He was the only defendant in the case to receive that notation.

In August, Brian drew attention online for a post about the NBA players who refused to play following the Jacob Blake shooting.

DOD photo by D. Myles Cullen/Released

Darrell Bevell to serve as Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator with Jaguars

Jaguars logo

Urban Meyer has gone for NFL experience in his offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, Meyer is bringing in former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to fill the role in Jacksonville. Bevell was also interim coach of the Lions after Matt Patricia’s firing this past season, and was also the Seattle Seahawks’ offensive coordinator prior to his stint with Detroit.

Bevell has been an NFL offensive coordinator since 2006, so he has a ton of experience. He was also a Super Bowl winner with the Seahawks, even if he’s remembered for the infamous Russell Wilson pass at the one-yard line that cost the Seahawks a chance at consecutive titles.

Meyer also settled on his defensive coordinator on Thursday. His staff is coming along nicely.

Matthew Stafford wants out of Detroit?

Matthew Stafford

The Detroit Lions have their new braintrust in place, and the first thing they might have to deal with is Matthew Stafford’s future with the organization.

Trade rumors followed the quarterback last offseason, and it appears likely that the same will happen this offseason. Boomer Esiason added fuel to the fire on Wednesday, saying on CBS Sports Radio that he is hearing that Stafford “wants out” of Detroit.

This wouldn’t necessarily be a huge shock, especially if the Lions think they will need a couple years to be competitive. Stafford turns 33 in February, and he won’t want to wait around through another rebuild. That makes a trade more likely.

Stafford started all 16 games for the Lions in 2020, throwing for 4,084 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. Perhaps he may yet be won over by his new coach’s press conferences.

Photo: A Healthier Michigan/Flickr via cc-by-sa 2.0

Deshaun Watson sends interesting tweets as trade talk continues

Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson is seeking a trade coming off his best NFL season. His value probably couldn’t get any higher at this point, but the Houston Texans star wants to make sure everyone knows what he accomplished in 2020.

Watson hasn’t been very active on social media since word surfaced that he wants out of Houston, but he sent a few tweets on Thursday. Two of them highlighted some impressive Pro Football Focus stats from his latest Pro Bowl season.

If the Texans do decide to grant Watson his wish and trade him, they will be seeking a massive package in return. Why? Because the 25-year-old had a passer rating of 112.4 this season and threw for 4,823 yards, 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. The fact that the Texans won just four games despite Watson’s outstanding numbers shows just how deep their issues run.

Watson also sent a cryptic tweet about people having his back.

Those tweets likely won’t make Texans fans as nervous as the one Watson sent last week, but it’s clear he is unhappy in Houston. If he felt good about the state of things, he probably would shoot down some of the rumors and reports we have heard.

Report: Eric Bieniemy has real chance of landing Texans head coach job

Eric Bieniemy

It appears that Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has one last real chance of landing a head coaching job this offseason.

According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Bieniemy is among those under “heavy consideration” by the Texans, along with Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.

It’s a pretty significant turnaround for Bieniemy, who wasn’t even on the team’s initial list of interviews. It sounds like he impressed in his interview once he got it, and is seriously in the running for the job.

There have been rumors that Bieniemy is the preferred candidate of disgruntled quarterback Deshaun Watson. However, it’s becoming clear that even this hire may not be enough to placate the quarterback.

Ex-Packers GM Ted Thompson dies — dead at 68

Ted Thompson

Former Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson has died.

The Packers announced in a statement on Thursday that Thompson died the day before at his home in Texas.

“Our condolences go out to his family,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said, via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. “Certainly he’s a guy that’s held in the highest regard in this building and I think just around the league. … His impact is still felt to this day when you look at our roster, but I think he’s had a tremendous impact amongst many people across the league when you look at the other GMs that have learned under him.”

Thompson was 68.

The biggest impact Thompson had on Green Bay’s roster was drafting Aaron Rodgers and then trading Brett Favre. While the decision was a difficult one and was not popular among everyone, it set the stage for the Packers to win Super Bowl XLV. Rodgers went on to become one of the great quarterbacks of all time, and he has the Packers one win away from another Super Bowl appearance this year.

Thompson was moved from his GM role to a consulting role in 2018 in part because of his declining health. He announced in 2019 that he was suffering from an autonomic disorder which caused weakness and cognitive issues.

In addition to serving as GM of the Packers from 2005 to 2017, Thompson also played 10 seasons in the NFL. He was a linebacker for the Houston Oilers from 1975 to 1984.

Dwayne Haskins signs one-year deal with Steelers

Dwayne Haskins

Dwayne Haskins lasted less than two seasons in Washington after the team selected him with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2019 draft, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are giving him a second chance.

Haskins visited with the Steelers on Thursday and is signing a one-year deal with them, according to multiple reports.

Ben Roethlisberger is expected to return in 2021, so the Steelers are bringing Haskins on as a backup who obviously has great upside. The Carolina Panthers also expressed interest before Haskins signed with Pittsburgh.

Haskins was waived by Washington after being benched for poor play multiple times. The former Ohio State star was also fined by the team twice for violating COVID-19 protocols and stripped of his captainship for one of his off-field blunders.

Though he is 23 and has undeniable talent, it sounds like Haskins had some serious work ethic issues during his brief time in Washington. He would have to prove to any interested teams that he has learned from his mistakes. If Haskins can do that, there’s certainly plenty of time to revive his career.

Nick Sirianni hired as head coach of Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles logo

The Philadelphia Eagles have found a new head coach.

Former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni has reached an agreement to become the next head coach of the Eagles, ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported.

Sirianni, 39, was the OC for the Colts for three seasons from 2018-2020. He worked as an offensive assistant for the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs before that. He joined the Colts as part of Frank Reich’s staff after working with Reich in San Diego.

The news comes as somewhat of a surprise, as Sirianni was not really mentioned as a head coaching candidate this offseason. Of course, the Eagles’ offseason has already been filled with surprises, as most did not expect them to move on from former head coach Doug Pederson.

The Colts ranked 10th in the NFL this season with 378.1 total yards per game. They were ninth with 28.2 points per game, so you can understand why Sirianni had appeal for Philly.

Sirianni’s hire continues a trend of young offensive coaches landing head coaching jobs. The Eagles are hoping he’ll have the same type of success that Matt LaFleur has enjoyed in Green Bay and Sean McVay has had in Los Angeles.

Urban Meyer chooses his defense coordinator for Jaguars

Jaguars logo

Urban Meyer is in the process of filling out his coaching staff with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he has officially decided on a defensive coordinator.

Baltimore Ravens defensive line coach Joe Cullen has reached an agreement to become the defensive coordinator in Jacksonville, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano and Jamison Hensley.

Cullen has been the D-line coach for the Ravens since 2016. He served in the same role for several other NFL and college teams before that, including the Jaguars from 2010-2012.

Meyer spoke several times at his introductory press conference last week about the importance of assembling the right staff around him. He said that will allow him to better manage his health and not coach with as much intensity as he did at the college level.

With their D-coordinator in place, the Jaguars will now focus on finding an offensive coordinator. Meyer may already have his top candidate picked out for that position.

New Lions coach Dan Campbell has epic intro press conference

Dan Campbell

Dan Campbell has yet to coach a game or hold a practice with the Detroit Lions, but we can already say with confidence that he will be the most intense head coach in football next season.

Campbell was officially introduced as the new head coach of the Lions on Thursday. The highlight of the press conference was when he spoke about the losing that has gone on in Detroit for years now. The former NFL tight end said he can’t guarantee wins, but he can promise his players are going to “bite a kneecap off” after they get knocked down.

You can see some of the fiery speech below, but beware that it contains a curse word:

Now we know why the Lions were impressed with Campbell.

Campbell was an assistant head coach and tight ends coach for the New Orleans Saints prior to taking the Detroit job. He was with the Miami Dolphins from 2010-2015 before that and served as their interim coach in 2015 after Joe Philbin was fired.

Those who have heard this absolutely legendary story about Campbell probably were not surprised by his press conference on Thursday. If nothing else, the guy is going to be a quote machine.