Sports Outside the Beltway

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.


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?


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.


Miami Dolphins name Mike Nolan Defensive Coordinator

He replaces the recently fired Paul Pasqualoni. From ESPN-

Fewer than 24 hours after splitting from the Denver Broncos, Mike Nolan was hired by the Miami Dolphins to be their new defensive coordinator.Mike Nolan

Nolan replaces Paul Pasqualoni, who was fired after the Dolphins’ 7-9 season. They allowed 390 points, the third-highest total in the AFC.

The Broncos started the season 6-0 and were the talk of the league. Nolan received much of the credit as he turned around a defense that ranked near the bottom of the league in every major category in 2008.

Nolan’s scheme shaved 7.8 points a game off a defense that surrendered 28 points a game the previous season.

Then the team went into a free fall, losing eight of its next 10 games to miss the postseason for a fourth straight year.

Nolan was the 49ers’ head coach in 2005-08.

Nolan, whose father was also an NFL head coach, was defensive coiordinator for the NY Jets, Washington Redskins, Baltimore Colts, and New York Giants before his gig in San Francisco.

Nolan inherits a defense that has some talent, but its either- young and error prone, erratic, or getting up in years. The Dolphins are in need of help at Defensive Tackle, Linebacker, and Safety. How well Miami does in the 2010 will be the deciding factor as to whether the Dolphins defense improves or declines next season. I think it slides or maintains the status quo myself.


Mike Shanahan to be next Washington Redskins coach

He will replace the recently fired Jim Zorn. From ESPN-

After an afternoon of negotiations produced an agreement, Mike Shanahan signed a five-year contract to become head coach and executive vice president of football operations for the Washington Redskins.

Under the terms of the new deal, Shanahan will team with Redskins executive vice president and general manager Bruce Allen, but Shanahan will have the ultimate authority on football decisions. Shanahan will be introduced as the Redskins head coach at a 2 p.m. ET news conference Wednesday.

As the contract was being signed at the Redskins’ training complex, Shanahan and owner Dan Snyder posed together for a picture. Then, with the deal signed, Shanahan, his agent Sandy Montag, Allen and Snyder headed out for a celebration dinner in Washington, D.C.

The contract is worth approximately $7 million a year, the Denver Post reported on its Web site. Now that Shanahan has been hired elsewhere, the Denver Broncos, who fired Shanahan one year ago, will recoup $7 million in offset money over the next two seasons under the terms of the agreement they had with the coach.

Shanahan has 14 years head coaching experience in the NFL and his teams made the playoffs in half of those years. Can he turn around Washington? Yes. Will he? I predict Shanahan’s tenure in DC will be less than 5 years, and no the Redskins will not be much improved at the time of Shanahan’s departure. The team needs a new owner and an overhaul on the field.


AFC and NFC playoff picture rundown

Someone got their abacos out and did all the playoff calculations. Here they are-

Baltimore, the Jets, Denver, Pittsburgh and Houston can also make the playoffs if they tie this week with various other things happening. Jacksonville and Miami cannot make the playoffs with a tie.


Baltimore clinches a playoff spot:
1) BAL win

NY Jets clinch a playoff spot:
1) NYJ win

Denver clinches a playoff spot:
1) DEN win + NYJ loss or tie + BAL loss or tie
2) DEN win + NYJ loss or tie + PIT loss or tie
3) DEN win + NYJ loss or tie + HOU win
4) DEN win + BAL loss or tie + PIT loss or tie
5) DEN win + BAL loss or tie + HOU win
6) PIT loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + JAC loss
7) PIT loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + NYJ loss
8.) PIT loss + BAL loss + JAC loss + NYJ loss
9) PIT loss + HOU loss + JAC loss + NYJ loss
10) MIA loss or tie + NYJ loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + JAC loss or tie


Pittsburgh clinches a playoff spot:
1) PIT win + HOU loss or tie + NYJ loss or tie
2) PIT win + HOU loss or tie + BAL loss or tie
3) PIT win + NYJ loss or tie + BAL loss or tie + DEN loss or tie

Houston clinches a playoff spot:
1) HOU win + NYJ loss or tie + BAL loss or tie
2) HOU win + NYJ loss or tie + DEN loss or tie
3) HOU win + BAL loss or tie + DEN loss or tie

Jacksonville clinches a playoff spot:
1) JAC win + PIT loss + BAL loss + DEN loss + HOU loss
2) JAC win + PIT loss + BAL loss + DEN loss + NYJ loss
3) JAC win + PIT loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + NYJ loss
4) JAC win + PIT loss + DEN loss + HOU loss + NYJ loss
5) JAC win + NYJ loss + DEN loss + HOU loss + BAL loss

Miami clinches a playoff spot:
1) MIA win + NYJ loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + JAC loss or tie

Unlike the AFC, the NFC playoff picture is pretty clear. All that needs to be determined is seeding and who will win the Eastern Division.


New Orleans — South division and a first-round bye.
Minnesota — North division.
Arizona — West division.
Philadelphia — playoff spot.
Green Bay — playoff spot.
Dallas — playoff spot.

Detroit, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Washington, Chicago, Seattle, Carolina, Atlanta, San Francisco, NY Giants.

New Orleans clinches home-field advantage:
1) NO win or tie
2) MIN loss or tie

New Orleans clinches home-field advantage.

Minnesota clinches home-field advantage:

1) MIN win + NO loss

Minnesota clinches a first-round bye:
1) MIN win or tie
2) PHI loss or tie

1) MIN win + PHI loss or tie
2) MIN tie + PHI loss


Arizona clinches a first-round bye:
1) ARI win + MIN loss + PHI loss

Philadelphia clinches East division:
1) PHI win or tie

Philadelphia clinches a first-round bye:
1) PHI win + MIN loss

1) PHI win
2) PHI tie + MIN loss or tie

Dallas clinches East division:
1) DAL win

Dallas clinches a first-round bye:
1) DAL win + MIN loss + ARI loss or tie

In the AFC I predict the Ravens and Broncos to make it.


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.


Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall sets NFL catch record

The Denver still ended up losing their game to the Indianapolis Colts. From AP-

Denver Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall broke Terrell Owens’ NFL record for receptions in a game with 21.

Marshall set the record Sunday on Denver’s final offensive play of a 28-16 loss to Indianapolis. He gained 7 yards on a fourth-down play before lateraling to lineman Chris Kuper for 7 more yards.

Marshall finished with 21 catches for 200 yards and two touchdowns.

Earlier, he tied the mark on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Orton in the fourth quarter.

Owens caught 20 passes for San Francisco on Dec. 17, 2000.

Of course Marshall reset the Broncos team record. One he set with 18 catches in a 2008 game against the San Diego Chargers.


NFL changes return to play concussion rules

Nearly 1/5th of NFL players surveyed said they hidden or downplayed the effects of a concussion. From AP-

NFL teams now have new, stricter instructions for when players should be allowed to return to games or practices after head injuries, guidelines that go into effect this week.

In the latest step by the league to address a hot-button issue, commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to the 32 clubs Wednesday saying a player who gets a concussion should not return to action on the same day if he shows certain signs or symptoms.

Those include an inability to remember assignments or plays, a gap in memory, persistent dizziness and persistent headaches.

The old standard, established in 2007, said a player should not be allowed to return to the same game if he lost consciousness.

Wednesday’s memo also says players “are to be encouraged to be candid with team medical staffs and fully disclose any signs or symptoms that may be associated with a concussion.”

The new guidelines sound good in practice(I think they were overdue. A player not able to think clearly has no business being on a football field.) but I doubt they will be adhered to. Coaches are under pressure to win and most NFL players aren’t inclined to challenge these people who have authority over them. A person is also more likely to press on and shrug off any ill feelings they have. I know I have for maladies large and small, including a slight concussion I suffered six years ago after an auto accident.


Atlanta Falcons release kicker Jason Elam

Is this the end of the road for the 17-year veteran? From ESPN-

The Atlanta Falcons released the 17-year veteran on Tuesday, having finally run out of patience with a kicker who had been one of the NFL’s most accurate but struggled through a mystifying slump this season.

Elam was just 8-of-15 on field-goal attempts from at least 30 yards, a success rate that was simply unacceptable — especially for a team contending in the NFC playoff race.

“To be honest with you, when I walked off the field after the last three games, I thought that was it,” Elam told The Associated Press when reached on his cell phone. “I’ve always been able to kick myself out of these things, but it just wasn’t happening for me. It was a bad November.”

It was also an unceremonious ending for a 39-year-old kicker who is tied for the longest field goal in NFL history (63 yards), made more than 81 percent of his career attempts and earned three Pro Bowl appearances during a 15-season tenure with the Denver Broncos, helping them win back-to-back Super Bowls in the 1990s.

Elam signed with the Falcons last year, returning to the area where he grew up, and played a big role in Atlanta’s surprising run to the playoffs. He made 29-of-31 field goals and all 42 of his extra-point attempts.

As bad as 2009 was for Elam, I expect another NFL team to give him a shot. If not this year, then in 2010. Elam has had a very good career, and one off year doesn’t necessarily mean he is washed up.


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