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#pounditTuesday, December 1, 2020

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Matthew Stafford refuses to commit to future with Lions

Matthew Stafford

There have been some on-and-off rumors in the last several years about Matthew Stafford potentially seeking an exit from the Detroit Lions. On Monday, Stafford kickstarted that speculation once again.

Two days after the Lions fired their head coach and general manager, starting themselves on another organizational rebuild, Stafford spoke about his future with the organization. Stafford notably declined to commit long-term.

“I’ll figure that out and talk about that later on,” Stafford said, via Andrew Siciliano of NFL Network.

Stafford turns 33 in February. Were he to remain with the Lions, he would be playing under his fourth head coach since being drafted first overall in 2009. The team is not close to contention, and the reality is he’s moving into the back end of his career. If he wants to contend for a championship, he may have no choice but to move on.

There were a lot of stories like this last offseason. It’s safe to say there may be another round of them coming up once the Lions play out the rest of their regular season.

Urban Meyer shares bold take on what Michigan must do to turn things around

Urban Meyer

The Michigan Wolverines’ disappointing season has left many trying to diagnose the problems plaguing the program. Urban Meyer has a particularly strong stance on what the program must do to turn things around.

Meyer said on Saturday’s edition of “Big Noon Kickoff” that the culture of the Michigan program needs a total rethink. In addition, he pointed out Michigan’s failures when it comes to recruiting and player development.

“I think it’s time to blow it up,” Meyer said. “I think it’s time to really evaluate the culture, dig deep. 2-5, there’s something going on. And once again, I said this a couple weeks ago, don’t start saying they’re bad players. That’s not fair. … You have got to really lift that hood and say okay, tell me about our culture. Is it the right culture? Do we need to change? Second, talent acquisition. Are we recruiting the right players?”

Meyer clarified that “blow it up” did not mean firing coach Jim Harbaugh, but rather taking a hard look at the culture of the program and making the necessary changes.

“Any time you say that, where do you go?” Meyer said. “He is a great football coach. He won 70 percent of his games in the NFL. You can’t all of a sudden say he’s a bad football coach. That’s not fair. But football programs are complicated. I always tell people they’re living organisms. Are you solid in culture? Are you solid in talent acquisition and your plan? If not, fix it.”

Meyer has identified these issues before. Michigan fans may not be keen on taking advice from the former head coach of their rival, but it’s hard to argue with him. Sometimes has gotten stale in Ann Arbor. Harbaugh is six years in now, and things aren’t clicking. Michigan probably won’t hire a better coach, but the messaging could certainly change.

This is why Broncos were forced to play but Ravens game got postponed

Broncos logo

Many fans have been wondering why the Denver Broncos were forced to play without a quarterback in their Week 12 game against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, while the Baltimore Ravens continued to get their game postponed. It’s a very good question, and it has a reasonable explanation.

The short answer is that the NFL believed the Broncos’ COVID situation was contained, while the Ravens’ was not.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter offered an explanation during “Monday Night Countdown.”

“It’s all about identification, isolation, and then containment of the virus. As long as the NFL feels like it has identified, isolated and contained the virus, it believes it can play the games,” Schefter said. “If it can’t identify, if it can’t isolate, and it can’t contain — as was the case in Baltimore — they’re going to continue to postpone the game. That’s why the Broncos-Saints game on Sunday was played. Because the league believed the virus was identified, isolated and contained in Denver, whereas it wasn’t in Baltimore. And that’s why that game keeps shifting.”

The decision to postpone or cancel a game is not based on competitive reasons, but just about the virus.

The Broncos had one positive COVID-19 test, and that was for quarterback Jeff Driskel on Thursday. The league on Saturday ruled the team’s other three quarterbacks ineligible to play due to being deemed high-risk contacts. There were no other players deemed at high risk, nor other positive tests. Contrarily, the Ravens continued to have new positive COVID-19 tests trickle out each day, suggesting the virus had not been contained.

As far as the league is concerned, as long as they believe the virus is contained, then it is a team’s problem regarding who is or is not available. In that sense, the availability of players would not be too dissimilar to injuries, which can often put teams in unfavorable positions. Remember, even though Baltimore’s game against Pittsburgh has been postponed from Thursday to Wednesday, they will still be playing without Lamar Jackson, though they get some other key weapons back.

Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn fired by Lions

Matt Patricia

Once again, the Detroit Lions are cleaning house.

The organization confirmed Saturday that head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn have both been fired. The decision comes two days after a blowout 41-25 loss on Thanksgiving to the Houston Texans, which dropped the team to 4-7.

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will serve as the team’s interim head coach.

Neither move comes as a huge surprise at this point. Patricia simply has not succeeded as the Lions’ coach. He departs with a record of 13-29-1 over parts of three seasons. He did not post a winning season or make the playoffs during his tenure.

Quinn took over as the Lions’ GM in January 2016. The team went 9-7 and made the playoffs in his first season, but have not done so since, with the record getting progressively worse during his tenure. In addition, Patricia was his hand-picked coaching hire after the firing of Jim Caldwell on the heels of a 9-7 season in 2017. The Lions have not put together a winning season since.

Ownership made clear that Quinn and Patricia were expected to deliver a contending team in 2020. They did not come close to doing so. Judging by comments made by the team’s most prominent player, the writing was very much on the wall.

DK Metcalf felt motivated by Jim Schwartz’s pregame comment

DK Metcalf

DK Metcalf says he was motivated by a comment from Jim Schwartz prior to Monday night’s game between the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles.

Metcalf had a monster game with 10 catches for 177 yards in Seattle’s 23-17 win over Philly. He said after the game that the Eagles defensive coordinator said something in pregame that put a chip on his shoulder.

“I was in Detroit with Megatron, you’re not there yet,” Schwartz told Metcalf, the receiver said.

“Megatron” is Calvin Johnson, who played for the Lions from 2007-2015. He was a Pro Bowler in his final six seasons and led the league in touchdowns once, receiving yards twice, and receptions once. Johnson’s 1,964 receiving yards in 2012 set the NFL record for a single season. That came in Schwartz’s fourth year on the job, though the Lions finished 4-12 that season.

Metcalf isn’t at Megatron’s level yet, but he’s been awfully productive for Seattle, and he’s doing it on a winning team. He also ate up Darius Slay man-to-man and feasted on Schwartz’s coverages.

Schwartz only coached one winning team in his five seasons as Lions head coach. He’s also known for not watching his words. The advantage goes to Metcalf in that situation, even if DK still has lots of room to grow.

Photo: RealDeeRoss/Wikimedia via CC-BY-SA 4.0

Royce Freeman, Kendall Hinton could be quarterback options for Broncos

Royce Freeman

The Denver Broncos will not have an actual quarterback available for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints after all were deemed out due to COVID-19 protocol.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. The team’s other three quarterbacks — Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles — were removed from practice on Saturday due to contact tracing rules. Later on Saturday, all their quarterbacks were ruled ineligible for the game. The Broncos’ game against the New Orleans Saints is still set to go on as scheduled.

So what will the Broncos do at quarterback for the game? That is the big question.

The Broncos appear to have two options at quarterback. One would be running back Royce Freeman, who played running back in high school, college and plays it in the NFL. He is an emergency quarterback for the team. Freeman did throw one touchdown pass in college at Oregon.

Another option could be Kendall Hinton, who is on the team as a practice squad wide receiver. Hinton began his college career playing quarterback for three seasons at Wake Forest before switching to wide receiver as a senior. Hinton went 133/251 (53.0 percent) for 1,504 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions at Wake Forest.

The interesting part about the game is there will be running-focused quarterbacks on either side, as the Saints are using Taysom Hill due to Drew Brees’ injury. This is not an ideal situation for the Broncos or the NFL, to say the least.

Photo: Jeffrey Beall/Wikimedia via cc-by 4.0

Steelers’ Cam Heyward trolls NFL over early kickoff time

Cam Heyward

The NFL is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure this week’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens is played — even if the players are unhappy about it. Veteran defensive lineman Cam Heyward is among those who are clearly not thrilled.

Shortly after the NFL announced that the Steelers and Ravens will play at 3:40 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Heyward sent a tweet mocking the kickoff time.

The Pittsburgh-Baltimore game has now been postponed three times, and the most recent is to give the Ravens time to prepare after their rash of positive COVID-19 tests. You may find the reason the kickoff is so early in the day to be quite entertaining.

With the Steelers already having a game postponed this year, the NFL is doing everything it can to avoid having to add an extra week to the regular season. Heyward and others may not like it, but they’re being paid millions of dollars to show up and do their job in a challenging year. They should be able to handle it.

Steph Curry had savage Twitter reaction to Nate Robinson being knocked out

Steph Curry

Steph Curry had a savage reaction to his former teammate Nate Robinson getting knocked out on Saturday night.

Curry sent a tweet of encouragement to Robinson prior to the ex-NBA player’s pro boxing debut against Jake Paul at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif. later that evening.

Robinson wrote back to Curry by saying he would “shock the world bro.”

Well, Robinson got knocked out cold by Paul in the second round of their fight (video here).

Following the knockout loss, Curry acknowledged that Robinson did shock the world, just not in the way the former NBA player was hoping to.

That’s harsh.

Robinson and Curry were teammates on the Golden State Warriors in 2011-2012. Let’s say that things are going better for Curry than for Robinson these days.

Photo: Cyrus Saatsaz/Wikimedia via CC-BY-SA 4.0

Jerry Jones has laughable take on Broncos’ QB mess

Jerry Jones

The Denver Broncos were forced to start a practice squad wide receiver at quarterback on Sunday after several players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. It may have been an unprecedented situation, but Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones feels his team has faced just as much adversity this season.

Jones was asked about the Broncos starting Kendall Hinton at QB during his appearance on 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday. He said he doesn’t think the situation was any more challenging for Denver than it was for the Cowboys when they had to start Ben DiNucci earlier in the year.

“I don’t know that Denver had any more of a challenge than we’ve had with DiNucci, or with the young QBs we’ve had,” Jones said, per Jon Machota of The Athletic.

Of course, there’s one big difference — the Cowboys drafted DiNucci to play quarterback. He was thrust into a starting role after both Dak Prescott and Andy Dalton went down with injuries but, again, he’s a quarterback. Hinton last played quarterback in college and had been on Denver’s practice squad as a wide receiver.

Jones may not have been very confident in DiNucci’s ability to start as a rookie, as evidenced by some remarks he made last month. That doesn’t mean the Cowboys’ QB situation was anywhere near as complicated as Denver’s.

Report: NFL execs feel Bruce Arians not playing to Tom Brady’s strengths

Tom Brady Bucs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has criticized Tom Brady publicly on multiple occasions this season, but many feel the quarterback is not the one to blame. Some NFL executives and scouts reportedly believe Arians has not done enough to cater to Brady’s strengths.

Many who have scouted the Bucs feel the offensive system has been the primary reason for Brady’s struggles as of late, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Those scouts and executives have noticed a reliance on the vertical passing game, which has not been Brady’s strong suit for years. That is the style of offense for which Arians has become known, but it’s not hard to believe that a 43-year-old quarterback who has thrived in the short-to-intermediate passing game would not excel in it.

“They want to get their best players on the field as much as they can and try to throw it deep and beat you that way,” one executive told La Canfora. “There’s kind of one way of doing things and if it works, it works. And if it doesn’t, then you’re (screwed). They aren’t willing to try to reinvent themselves to win that particular game.”

Arians has placed blame on Brady multiple time following losses this season, most recently when he said Brady misread coverages in his two-interception performance against the Los Angeles Rams. Brady has chosen not to respond when asked about the remarks, though sources close to him told La Canfora the criticisms have “clearly not gone unnoticed.”

Brady has nine interceptions this season and five in Tampa Bay’s last three games. If you want to know how he has fared in the deep passing game, look no further than these stats.

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have teamed up yet again! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Tampa Fiesta shirt. You can buy it here.