All Sports Rumors & News >

Curtis Martin, The Factory of Sadness, replacement refs and more NFL Quick-Hits

Every Sunday our NFL columnist Anthony Stalter provides his quick-hits from the week that was in the NFL.

+ Curtis Martin’s induction speech at the Hall of Fame this weekend was fascinating. He admitted to not wanting to play football after former Patriots head coach Bill Parcells called him on draft day back in 1995 and also lamented on how he didn’t have a strong passion for football, specifically running the ball. How naturally gifted do you have to be to rank fourth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list despite not being passionate about the game? That’s incredible. I’ve always felt that Martin never really got his due. He wasn’t the biggest or the fastest back but when only Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders are listed ahead of you on the all-time rushing list, you could play the game. And Curtis Martin could play the game, regardless of how passionate he was about the sport.

+ Roger Goodell made a great point recently about the situation with the replacement referees. Said Goodell, “You know, we had this experience in 2002, and the big impact we had in 2002 when we had the replacement officials was, you didn’t get a lot of the holding calls and some of the other calls.” First of all, who remembers that the NFL used replacement officials in 2002? It completely slipped my mind, which goes to show you that this situation isn’t as big a deal as some have made it. Yes, whether or not these replacement refs will be able to keep the peace is a major concern. Whether or not they’ll be abreast of all the rules is a key factor as well. But blown calls are going to happen whether there’s replacement refs or not. They’re part of the game. But as Goodell pointed out, the game might actually be more fast-paced because there will be fewer holding and pass interference calls, which are the two penalties that affect the game the most. Nobody wants to see a bunch of missed calls and rule-breaking but how many times have fans said, ‘Let the guys play!’ following a costly penalty? Well, those fans may get their wish thanks to these replacement officials.

+ The Cleveland Browns remain a fascinating story, although mostly for wrong reasons. Randy Lerner sold the team to Tennessee businessman Jimmy Haslam for more than $1 billion this week and as someone put it so perfectly on Twitter, who knew that the entire city of Cleveland was worth $1 billion, let alone the Browns? Now Haslman has to decide whether to make tweaks to the front office or completely gut the thing and start over. Granted, Mike Holmgren has had a rocky two-plus seasons as team president but it’s not as if he took over a playoff contender or even a franchise that was trending upwards. It’s as if the Browns have been stuck in purgatory for the better part of a decade and while some men enter, no man gets out alive. The thought of the Browns starting over yet again must frustrate fans. It would be nice to see Holmgren have at least another year or two to finish what he started but it would appear as though he won’t receive that opportunity. Then again, when you spend $1 billion on a football team you can do whatever you want with it. Browns fans can only hope that Haslam has a clear vision for what he wants the team to accomplish in the next three to five years because if not, this franchise will continue to flirt with the very definition of insanity.

+ Speaking of The Factory of Sadness, the loss of Chris Gocong is huge. The weakside linebacker has been diagnosed with a ruptured right Achilles’ tendon and is done for the season. He was a 16-game starter each of the past two years for the Browns, whose front seven continues to take hit after hit this offseason. Hopefully Ahtyba Rubin won’t suffer any setbacks after having surgery to repair a slight pelvic tear in June, because if not Cleveland’s run defense will be even worse this year than it was a season ago.

+ Robert Gallery announced his retirement on Saturday. His eight-year NFL career ended with zero All-Pro nominations and zero Pro Bowls. He played for two different organizations including six seasons with the Oakland Raiders, who drafted him with the second overall pick in 2004. Some would say Gallery shouldn’t be considered among the top 20 or 25busts of all time but how could he not? When the Raiders eventually kicked him inside to guard he had a serviceable career. But he was drafted to be a left tackle, one of the most vital positions in football. It wasn’t like Oakland took him in the middle rounds, moved him to guard after he struggled on the outside and were happy they at least got six serviceable years out of him. No, they thought he was going to anchor their O-line for years to come. There have been many draft busts throughout the years and you wouldn’t have to strain very hard to find 25 players that were bigger flubs than Gallery. But he at least deserves mention considering that back in 2004 he was viewed as a future Pro Bowler and a can’t-miss prospect (not that those exist).

+ I had an opportunity to attend the Rams’ “scrimmage” on Saturday. I put quotation marks around the word “scrimmage” because it was more of a practice. While walking out of the Edward Jones Dome the first thing that struck me was how under whelmed I was while watching the workout. Thanks to Jeff Fisher, there’s a lot of optimism building in St. Louis right now and there’s no doubt this is a much improved Rams team. That said, the first-team offensive line looked inconsistent, as did Sam Bradford, rookie running back Isaiah Pead and most of the receivers. Danny Amendola dropped at least three passes during the workout, and he’s normally as sure-handed as they come. But after thinking about it some more, what did I really expect? The Rams have only been practicing for about a week and Saturday was just the third padded practice that the team partook in. Half the roster is new, the head coach is new, the offensive coordinator is new, and the position coaches are all new. That was not going to be a well-oiled machine at the Dome, and it wasn’t. It’s going to take some time but Fisher will put his stamp on things because he’s a good coach and he’s surrounded himself with a great staff. The key is that the Rams are building some excitement around the team and eventually, the roster will be good enough to compete.

+ Mike Wallace’s holdout situation has been the focal point in Pittsburgh this offseason but one of the more captivating storylines is Todd Haley. The former Chiefs head coach takes over for Bruce Arians at offensive coordinator and the early reports have all been positive. Haley is going to allow the Pittsburgh receivers to improvise and react to what the defense is doing, which plays extremely well into Ben Roethlisberger’s freelancing ways. But Haley isn’t exactly a mild-mannered coach. He’s intense and it’s going to be interesting to see how the dynamics play out between him and Big Ben, who has never been afraid to speak his mind when it comes to the way his offense is being ran. The marriage could work as long as the Steelers’ offense doesn’t suffer any hiccups and hey, for the first time in a long time the offensive line is trending up. But the situation could also be a train wreck if the combustible Haley doesn’t mesh with Roethlisberger.

+ There are many signs that point to Chris Johnson having a bounce back year in Tennessee, none bigger than him reporting to camp on time and in shape after he skipped offseason workouts last year due to a contract holdout. But there’s another reason that Johnson should rebound and his name is Steve Hutchinson. Tennessee’s offensive line struggled with run-blocking last year, particularly from the interior. Hutchinson is getting long in the tooth but he’s an upgrade over what the Titans had last year and he reportedly has already made a positive impact on his teammates. Johnson should enjoy running behind the future Hall of Famer this season.

+ Yesterday was a great day for former Saints and Chiefs offensive tackle Willie Roaf, so I hate to focus on the negative. But how in the name of Zeus did it take Roaf two tries to be elected into the Hall of Fame? He was an 11-time Pro Bowler, six-time All-Pro Selection and one of the most dominant tackles to ever don a NFL uniform. He swallowed defensive linemen whole with his massive frame and perfect technique. It’s a sin that he wasn’t a first-ballot selection but it’s great to see Roaf get his due.

+ Chris Doleman was Michael Strahan before there was Michael Strahan. Not a ton of flash to his game ; he just got the quarterback and he did so on a consistent basis. And you know what, defensive ends will always be graded and measured by sacks but Doleman was truly an all-around player. Whether lined up as an outside linebacker or with his hand in the dirt, the guy played the run as well as he did the pass.

+ As the Saints get ready to take on the Cardinals in Sunday night’s Hall of Fame game, the focus will once again be back on the bounty scandal. But keeping it on the field, it’s going to be extremely interesting to see what kind of impact Steve Spagnuolo can make in his first year as defensive coordinator for the Saints. Spags wasn’t a very good head coach but the one thing the Rams did well during his time in St. Louis was rush the passer. Giants fans are also well aware that Spags brought the heat but does he have enough weapons in New Orleans? Will Smith is suspended for four games and unless Sedrick Ellis or Cam Jordan play over their heads New Orleans could have issues generating pressure. And considering the Falcons are installing more of a vertical offense, the Bucs’ offense will be more physical under new head coach Greg Schiano, and the Panthers bring an explosive dynamic to the field thanks to Cam Newton, the Saints’ defense could really struggle this season despite Spagnuolo’s previous success.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

From our partners
Picture of the Day

Picture of the Day

Enjoy a daily photo from Bullz-Eye.com of one of their beautiful models.

Online Dating Guide

Improve your game today!

You've got to brush up on your game to get the girl! Find your hookups with this online dating guide.

Sexy Girls and Cars

Check out this slideshow of hot babes and cool cars.

Report: Haley stripped Weis of play-calling duties during second half

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley watches during the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver on November 14, 2010. Denver beat the AFC West division leader Kansas City 49-29. UPI/Gary C. Caskey

Apparently the Chiefs’ inability to move the ball offensively against Baltimore on Sunday was not coordinator Charlie Weis’ fault, but head coach Todd Haley’s.

According to Bob Fescoe of 610 Sports in Kansas City, Haley stripped Weis of his play-calling duties during the second half of the Chiefs’ 30-7 loss to the Ravens on Sunday.

From the Sporting News:

Jason Whitlock, of Fox Sports, tweeted during the game that the Chiefs’ offensive miscues were a direct reflection of Haley’s play-calling.

For much of the latter half of the season, rumors persisted that Haley and Weis were having issues working together, and then the announcement came that Weis was leaving Kansas City following the end of the NFL regular season to become new Florida coach Will Muschamp’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

If the report is true, then Haley has some explaining to do. Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs’ most explosive offensive playmaker, received just three touches in the second half. As John Paulsen put it to me over Skype, “that’s inexcusable.”

For the game, Baltimore held Kansas City to just eight first downs and 53 yards passing. The Ravens are good, but they’re not that good. If there were an abrupt change in playcallers, then it would make sense that the Chiefs struggled mightily to move the ball during the second half.

In some respects, I don’t blame Haley for doing what he did. Hey, Weis isn’t going to be around next year and the offense had been a sinking ship ever since he announced that he was heading to Florida, so why wouldn’t Haley try to correct the problem before it was too late? After all, it is his team and he would ultimately be the one who had to answer to why the Chiefs once again lost another playoff game.

That said, it’s not fair to Matt Cassel and the rest of the players for Haley to make a move like that. The offense had worked under Weis all season and seeing as how the score was only 10-7 at halftime, it’s not like the Chiefs were out of the game. It makes you wonder if that was Haley’s plan from the start and as soon as the offense started sputtering, he was going to remove Weis as the playcaller.

We’ll see what Haley says in his final press conference later this week.

NFL Week 17 COY power rankings

It’s best to do this now, because surely our opinions will be skewed watching the playoffs.

1. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots—The Pats just kept getting better as the season wore on, save for that hiccup against Cleveland. This is actually one of Bill’s best coaching jobs.

2. Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay Bucs—From 3-13 to 10-6. But what might be most impressive is that Morris told everyone this team would win 10 games when he may have been the only one who believed it.

3. Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs—The AFC West winner has a home game Sunday. Did anyone pick KC to finish above third?

4. Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears—Kudos to Lovie for sending his A-team out there last Sunday, and either way it’s surely been quite a year for his Bears, especially with that defense.

5. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles—He hasn’t hung around the city of Philadelphia for 11 years for no reason. The man just knows how to win with the talent he’s given.

6. Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams—So close to grabbing that last playoff spot, but regardless, this is a team that will be reckoned with, maybe as soon as next year.

7. Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons—The 13-3 Falcons are sharp heading into the big dance.

8. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers/John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens—Without Big Ben for four games, and still grabbed the 2-seed in the tough AFC. The Ravens, meanwhile, snuck up on everyone by winning 12 games too.

9. Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers—His team was in every single game and could just as easily be 16-0 than 10-6. Keep an eye on these guys, they could win it all as a 6-seed.

10. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints—You just can’t forget about the defending champs and that win in Atlanta a few weeks ago proved it.

NFL Week 16 COY power rankings

The way things are looking, you’re on this list if you still have your job or expect to at the end of the season, because lots of heads are rolling already.

1. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots—The model of efficiency, and despite mediocre team stats (11th offense, 27th defense), the number that matters is 13 wins.

2. Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs—Who didn’t think the Chargers would trip the Chiefs up from behind?

3. Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears—Nobody picked the Bears to finish higher than third in the NFC North, did they? And yet they have a shot at the #1 seed in the conference.

4. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles—So his team had a bad game against Minnesota. Big Andy stays on this list for his handling of the QB situation alone, but also for winning big games despite injuries.

5. Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay Bucs—When Raheem said he wanted to win 10 games, everyone laughed, and now he is laughing at them. Well, almost.

6. Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams—Even though they lead the crappy NFC West at 7-8, this is just a remarkable story. You think the Giants had wished they didn’t let this guy go?

7. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints—Started slowly, but you know nobody wants to face these guys in January.

8. Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons—Still sitting pretty for the #1 seed in the NFC.

9. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers/John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens—No reason to take either guy off the list.

10. Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers—All those injuries and a late-season resurgence have the Pack in prime position.

NFL Week 15 COY power rankings

December is when coaches lose jobs or gain big contract extensions for winning big games. And it’s crunch time for coach of the year hype…..

1. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots—Sure, the Pats were exposed against Green Bay. But like usual, the Hoodie’s teams find a way to win.

2. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles—He almost dropped five spots for not throwing that challenge flag on an obvious reversal, but he’s still here for two reasons—his teams know how to win, and he had the balls to name Mike Vick as his starting QB.

3. Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons—No reason to move Mikey from the 3-spot after disposing of the Seahawks in hostile Seattle.

4. Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs—Now the Chargers are breathing down his neck; but hey, he probably feels good that Josh McDaniels is watching games from his couch now.

5. Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears—Did anyone think the Bears could score 40 points against the Vikings on a frigid December night? Lovie’s defense and Mike Martz’ offense continue to gel and look scary.

6. Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams—Yes, they are 6-8 and might win a division. But the fact remains the Rams have equaled their win total from the past three seasons combined, and Spags told his team they can win the Super Bowl if they reach the playoffs. Ridiculous, but true.

7. Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay Bucs—Still hanging on to a possible playoff berth, but either way, a huge turnaround in 2010.

8. Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars—Gambled and lost in Indy, but still tied for first in the AFC South.

9. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers/John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens—Two hard-hitting teams are two of the best teams in the NFL

10. Rex Ryan, New York Jets—Backs up against the wall? No problem for this brash leader, whose team did what few teams do—win in Pittsburgh in December.

Related Posts