Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL owners pass change to playoff Overtime rules

Why is a playoff game subject to a different set of rules than a regular season game. From ESPN-

The NFL owners voted to change an element in the overtime rule, giving the team that loses the coin toss at the start of overtime to get a possession if the coin-toss winning team scores a field goal with the first possession.

The proposal passed 28-4. As it is written, the rules change applies just for the postseason, but the owners also decided to discuss adopting the changes for the regular season at their next meeting, in May in Dallas.

The Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals voted against the proposal.

The competition committee recommended the change in a vote of 6-2, and commissioner Roger Goodell supported the plan. He was able to secure enough votes to get the proposal passed on Tuesday, a day before the expected Wednesday vote.

The reason for the change was the increased accuracy of kickers since 1993. In 1994, the NFL moved kickoffs from the 35 to the 30, which created better field position for the teams that won the coin toss and received the kickoffs.

Statistics examined by the committee showed that since 1994, teams winning the coin toss win the game 59.8 percent of the time. The team that loses the toss wins the game 38.5 percent in that 15-year span.

“We’ve had this discussion for a number of years,” competition committee co-chairman Rich McKay said. “We feel this year’s proposal gave us the opportunity to [install] a pretty good rule. Statistically we felt it needed to be changed. It wasn’t creating the fairest result as far as field goal accuracy, field goal distance and drive starts.”

Under the new rules, both teams will get one possession whoever leads at the end of it is the winner. If both are tied, then whoever scores first wins. Then doesn’t that defeat the new rule, I mean the team that won the toss gets the first 2nd crack at scoring!

The NFL has used the same rule for over 50 years to decide playoff games. No matter how you finesse matters, the stats are never going to come out 50-50. If teams don’t like it being decided by a coin toss, go for two points instead of playing it safe late in the game when the team kicks the tying extra point.


Cleveland Browns trade QB Brady Quinn to Denver

How the mighty have fallen. From ESPN-

Brady Quinn will get a chance to start over in Denver. Whether he’ll get to start is up in the air.Brady_Quinn

The Broncos acquired the former first-round draft pick from the Cleveland Browns for fullback Peyton Hillis, a 2011 sixth-round draft pick and a conditional pick in 2012.

The teams announced the trade Sunday and said the deal is pending physicals.

Ostensibly, Quinn will compete with Kyle Orton for the Broncos’ starting job, although coach Josh McDaniels was unavailable Sunday to comment on the trade, according to a team spokesman.

Quinn’s departure comes one day after the Browns agreed to terms with free agent Jake Delhomme on a two-year contract. Quinn went 3-9 in 12 starts for Cleveland, which drafted him with the 22nd pick in the first round in 2007 out of Notre Dame.

Quinn was supposed to be one of the next great quarterbacks but has instead been one big disappointment. All right, Cleveland stinks but Quinn has shown little to say he may be better than the team he played for. He doesn’t appear to have the arm to be a deep passing threat and IMHO he won’t improve much if at all in Denver.


Cleveland Browns sign QB Jake Delhomme

The Browns have two new quarterbacks but will the team do better than 5-11 in 2010? From the Cleveland Plain Dealer-

The Browns signed quarterback Jake Delhomme to a two-year deal, his agent Rick Smith confirmed for The Plain Dealer.Jake Delhomme

The offer was attractive enough for Delhomme, 35, that he canceled his scheduled trip to New Orleans, where he would’ve backed up Drew Brees. Terms were undisclosed.

Delhomme visited the Browns on Thursday, but left town without signing a contract.

Browns President Mike Holmgren told The Plain Dealer on Friday that he didn’t promise Delhomme the starting job but that “he certainly has the potential to be the starter here.”

Delhomme, who’s struggled since a bad playoff game in 2008, went 58-40 for the Panthers, including a Super Bowl berth and two NFC Championship games. He also made the Pro Bowl in 2005.

In light of this signing and the acquisition of Seneca Wallace, I expect Cleveland to now release QB Brady Quinn. Holmgren said earlier this week that Quinn’s future “depends on what else we can do.’ The Browns have two new quarterbacks, I see no more room for Quinn who IMHO is looking like the biggest bust of the 2007 NFL draft. All the experts were screaming then how good he was and that Miami blew it when they didn’t draft him at #10. Three years later Quinn has a lifetime QB rating of 66.8. I don’t think he will ever be a quality starter in the NFL.


Seattle trades QB Seneca Wallace to Cleveland

The Browns are in for more Quarterback controversy in 2010. From Sports Network-

The Cleveland Browns acquired the rights to quarterback Seneca Wallace on Monday, sending an undisclosed 2011 draft pick to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange.Seneca Wallace

The trade is contingent on Wallace passing a physical later this week.

Wallace was never the No. 1 quarterback for the Seahawks but made 14 starts during his seven-year career with the club, which made him a fourth-round selection in the 2003 draft.

In all, he has appeared in 48 games and thrown for 3,547 passing yards with 25 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, compiling a QB rating of 83.1 along the way.

Wallace has thrown for 3,530 yards and 25 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. His passer rating is 83.2. Those are all better numbers than Cleveland’s current Quarterbacks Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson. Quinn is looking more like a draft bust with passing NFL. Granted Cleveland is a terrible team, but there has no almost no positives in Quinn’s performance up there. I won’t be surprised if Wallace is Cleveland’s starting Quarterback on opening day of the 2010 NFL season.

Update- Cleveland released Quarterback Derek Anderson.

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NFL may change overtime rules for playoffs

No sudden death for sudden death? From AP-

An NFL spokesman said Saturday the league could change its overtime format for playoff games at a meeting next month.

Under the new format, both teams would get the ball at least once unless the first team to get the ball scores a touchdown, Greg Aiello said. If the first team to get the ball makes a field goal and the other team ties the game, action would continue until a team scores again.

Under the current rules, the first team to score wins.

“There have been various concepts that have been discussed in recent years, but this one has never been proposed,” Aiello said.

The competition committee will discuss the new concept with teams and players at league meetings March 21-24 in Orlando, Fla., when it could come to a vote. At least two thirds of the teams would need to agree to the changes for new rules to be adopted.

It is my prediction that the NFL does make some kind of change. Personally, I’m ambivalent on the issue. I believe the statistics show that the teams who lose the toss win slightly more often in regular season games. What the playoff record, I don’t know. Honestly, who says life or sports has to be fair?


Baltimore Ravens acquire WR Donte Stallworth

He didn’t play a down in the NFL during 2009 because of his being suspended by the NFL. From AP-

The Baltimore Ravens say they have signed wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth to a one-year contract.

Stallworth was recently released by the Cleveland Browns after being reinstated by the NFL following a one-year suspension. He was suspended for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy for a DUI vehicular manslaughter charge.

Stallworth served 30 days in a Miami jail for striking and killing a Miami construction worker with his car while driving under the influence of alcohol.

I thought the sentence was a travesty of justice at the time it happened and still believe so. Stallworth got special treatment because he is a pro athlete. If I had killed someone while DUI, my sentence would involve years in jail.

From strictly a football point of view, the Stallworth signing is a good move by Baltimore.


NFL considering mandatory echocardiograms

The NBA has required this test for its players since 2006. From ESPN-

Between the time of Bears defensive end Gaines Adams’ death last Sunday to his funeral Friday, the NFL’s Cardiovascular Committee began discussing the possibility of subjecting all players to a heart scan called an echocardiogram, starting with potential draft picks invited to the NFL scouting combine next month.

NFLPA medical director Thomas Mayer told ESPN that the medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Adams stated the enlarged heart that led to his death could have been detected by an echocardiogram.

But, as Mayer pointed out, the process is complicated.

Is the fear of legal liability going to influence a doctor? Are cardiologists going to agree on whether a player has an enlarged heart or an athlete’s heart? Does that mean he’s systematically finished as a football player?

More likely, a questionable echocardiogram could lead to more sensitive tests, such as a cardio catheter procedure.

As a person who had major cardiac surgery less than 18 months ago, I see mandatory electrocardiograms as a good idea. Putting the policy into place will be complicated, but it shouldn’t be used as a reason not to do this. My heart condition, a bicuspid heart valve and ascending aortic aneurysm was very serious, and till as little as two weeks prior to my operation, nobody knew I had those conditions. Some heart problems in addition to a enlarged hearts, show few or little warning signs.

I would also add that a large amount if not majority of NFL players, are grossly overweight. Heart testing is for their own good.


A nice getaway- Cleveland defeats Jacksonville 23-17

The Browns won despite getting just 86 yards of passing offense. From AP-

Eric Mangini’s first season — warts and all — with Cleveland is in the books. He can only hope it was good enough to get him a second.Cle-Jac

Jerome Harrison rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown and Josh Cribbs ran for a TD as the Browns beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-17 on Sunday, giving Cleveland its first four-game winning streak since 1994 to push Mangini into an uncertain offseason with momentum to fight for his job.

While the Browns (5-11) ended their season on a high, they ended Jacksonville’s razor-thin AFC playoff hopes. The Jaguars (7-9), who had to win and needed four other teams to lose just to qualify, will have the months ahead to ponder what went wrong. They dropped their last four games.

Playing on a slippery, snow-covered field, the Florida visitors were mostly out of their element and lost for the first time in six visits to Cleveland.

The Jaguars close to the 2009 season was similar to the Miami Dolphins. A month ago each team looked like wild card teams. Today they both lost their final game to finish 7-9.

I think Eric Mangini will be fired during the off season. The head coach always makes a easy scapegoat and Mangini’s tenure in Cleveland has been a controversial one. New Team President, Mike Holmgren, is also likely to want his own man calling the on the field shots.

If Mangini is fired, he will join Ray Rhodes as the only NFL head coaches to be fired two consecutive full seasons in a row. Rhodes was with Philadelphia and Green Bay. Mangini was fired by the NY Jets at the end of the 2008 season.


Get out your slide rules- AFC Wild Card picture time

Yesterday I expressed disbelief that some how the Miami Dolphins could some how still be in the playoff picture after their loss to Houston made them 7-8. Before I write anything more, I’ll break down how the AFC stands at this moment.sliderule

Division Champions that receive first round byes- Indianapolis 14-1, San Diego 12-3
Division Champions- New England 10-5, Cincinnati 10-5. As of this moment the Patriots are the #3 seed.
Out of the playoff picture entirely- Kansas City, Cleveland, Oakland, Buffalo, Tennessee

While those five teams can not make the post season, more than one of them can play the part of spoiler this weekend.

Wild card contenders- Denver, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, and Pittsburgh Steelers all at 8-7. Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars at 7-8.

Next week’s games involving wild card contenders

Bengals at Jets
Chiefs at Broncos
Ravens at Raiders
Texans at Patriots
Steelers at Dolphins
Jaguars at Browns

Remarkably not one AFC playoff contender is playing an out of conference team to finish the 2009 schedule. San Diego who has clinched a playoff spot and Tennessee who is out of the picture are both playing NFC teams next weekend.

Last night before going to bed I scoured ESPN and South Florida media websites looking for an article with an AFC playoff picture explanation. None were available.

This morning the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, and ESPN all had articles up on the playoff picute. Not surprisingly the Post and Herald focused on Miami. ESPN just summarized how the standings are at this moment and projected the first round of the playoffs as if play ended today.(The Jets and Broncos would qualify) What a lot of good that is.Cray X1E

Maybe ESPN didn’t have enough bandwith free to post all the possible playoff scenarios. Perhaps they needed a Cray super computer to do the calculations, or even if they had one available the power drain of using it threatened to blackout the entire Northeast.(ESPN is based out of Conecticut.)

Bottom line so far as I am concerned The Miami Dolphins are alive but their chances are slim and the New York Jets are in control of their own destiny.

For Miami to make the post season all of the following needs to take place-

Bengals beat the Jets
Raiders beat Ravens
Patriots beat Texans
Browns beat Jaguars
Dolphins beat Steelers

Neither the Herald or Post made mention of Denver. Therefore I assume whether Denver wins or loses next Sunday, it has no impact on Miami’s playoff chances.

All of which could plausibly happen. The Raiders or Browns winning would be considered upsets. Right now I have as much confidence in those teams winning as I do in Miami beating Pittsburgh.

Like ESPN, I won’t list all the playoff scenarios. I don’t think OTB’s owner James Joyner would appreciate me crashing his website and I’ve been kicked off one blog already this year.


Cleveland Brown Josh Cribbs sets new NFL Kickoff Return record

It happened in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs. From AP-

Josh Cribbs of the Cleveland Browns has returned a kickoff 100 yards, breaking the NFL record with his seventh touchdown return.Cribbs

At least six players got a hand on the 6-foot-1, 215-pound veteran before he broke into the clear and sped up the middle for his second touchdown return of the year. He had been tied with five other players with six kickoff returns for TDs. He came into the season with five and had a 98-yard return Dante Hall, Gale Sayers, Mel Gray,against Pittsburgh on Oct. 18.

Before today, Cribbs was one of six players to have six career kickoff returns for a touchdown. Some of the other players were Dante Hall, Gale Sayers, and Mel Gray. I’m more than a little surprised to learn that the career mark was so low.

Update- Cribbs has struck again. He returned a kickoff 103 yards for another touchdown. The record is now eight.


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