AFC South: Eric Mangini
If you have to crawl before you walk, then the Texans are perfectly positioned, says John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
Brooks Reed is "touch-and-go” with his groin injury according to Gary Kubiak, says John McClain,
To which I say: You sure hope he doesn’t suffer a setback Saturday against Cincinnati.
Young players have been making a difference for the Cincinnati Bengals, and nine other things to know about the Texans playoff opponent, from Ganguli.
Five problems the Texans have to fix, starting with penalties, from Dave Zangaro of CSN Houston.
Ignorance can be bliss for the Colts as they head to Baltimore, since 28 of their players have never participated in the postseason before, says Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star.
With all the head coaching openings around the league, Bruce Arians may be about to become a hot commodity, says Phil Richards of the Star. Bill Williamson of our AFC West blog thinks San Diego and Kansas City should seriously consider Arians.
How Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton broke the Texans’ back on third-and-23. A breakdown of the 70-yard touchdown from Zak Keefer of the Star.
While general manager Gene Smith was fired, coach Mike Mularkey is in limbo and his fate could be decided by Smith’s replacement, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.
To which I say: When Mike Holmgren got to Cleveland, he inherited Eric Mangini and stuck with him. It turned out to be a largely wasted year.
O’Halloran runs through some potential candidates. Two the team is definitely interested in: Tom Gamble of the 49ers front office per Adam Schefter and Dave Caldwell of the Falcons front office, per Jay Glazer.
Smith had a lot more misses than hits, says Vito Stellino of the Times-Union.
“Just because the maligned Smith is an ex-Jaguars employee, that doesn't mean this franchise will be printing playoff tickets anytime soon,” says Gene Frenette of the Times-Union.
“Over four years, Smith made a series of ill-fated draft and personnel decisions that ultimately resulted in a 2-14 record, tied for the worst in the NFL. Since Smith became the top dog in Jacksonville, the Jags went 22-41 and were outscored by 413 points.” Dunlevy’s thoughts on Smith’s departure.
Mike Munchak wants to prove Bud Adams right for keeping him in place, writes Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. Said Jake Locker: “He’s a great football coach and we’re a lot closer (to turning things around) than everyone might think we are.”
To which I say: Please, please, please don’t let Locker and the Titans actually think that they are close. They aren’t close. All those blowout losses? Not close.
We don’t yet know the fate of Titans assistants, says John Glennon of The Tennessean.
Free-agent-to-be tight end Jared Cook said the Titans should be well ahead of where they are, says Glennon.
Where did it go wrong for the Titans? Dunlevy shares his thoughts.
The AFC Championship Game coaches are successful and popular, says Jerome Solomon.
John McClain likes the Steelers and Packers.
Jay Cutler is Santa Claus’ gift to the NFL, writes Jeff Rabjohns.
Who to root for Sunday, from a Colts’ fan perspective.
When to select a quarterback in the draft is a big question for Gene Smith, says Gene Frenette.
Eric Mangini has emerged as a candidate for the Titans defensive coordinator job, says Jim Wyatt. Jim Mora, Clancy Pendergast and Dave McGinnis appear to be other possibilities.
The Texans just announced that three defensive coaches have been dismissed: Coordinator Richard Smith, defensive backs coach Jon Hoke and defensive line coach Jethro Franklin.
Smith was under fire for most of the season, though, his unit played better late in the season when the Texans played less conservatively.
Coach Gary Kubiak once wanted Frank Bush, a senior defensive assistant for the Texans, to be his coordinator. But there will be a great pool to choose from as several former head coaches are available or believed to be on their way to being available.
Rod Marinelli, Eric Mangini, Mike Nolan, Romeo Crennel are already out of work and Gregg Williams worked under a one-year deal as coordinator in Jacksonville. Jim Haslett and Herm Edwards could also become part of the available coordinator pool.
Kubiak is scheduled to talk to the Houston press at 2:30 p.m. and we'll check back once we see what he says.
The Titans did it gradually. The Jets had a big swoop.
But the two teams that square off Sunday in Nashville share a quality that has helped set them apart from a lot of teams in the NFL: They have hit on veteran free agents who have been productive and helped shape their team's culture.
The Jets are getting good production out of guard Alan Faneca as well as linebacker Calvin Pace. Right tackle Damien Woody has been OK. (Trades for Brett Favre and Kris Jenkins have obviously been big too, but we're sticking to free agents here.) The Titans are better on the offensive line with Jake Scott at right guard, and made solid additions in the last few years with cornerback Nick Harper and linebacker David Thornton.
Other hits so far from the 2008 free agent class include running back Michael Turner in Atlanta, defensive end Travis LaBoy in Arizona, defensive end Justin Smith in San Francisco, linebacker Kawika Mitchell in Buffalo and center Jeff Faine in Tampa Bay.
But plenty of other teams have swung and missed with significant deals for players they hoped would be cures -- Jacksonville with receiver Jerry Porter and cornerback Drayton Florence, Cleveland with Donte' Stallworth, Miami with defensive tackle Randy Starks and receiver Ernest Wilford and Oakland with receiver Javon Walker.
When a team brings in a guy with a big contract and high hopes and he fails to pan out early on, it hurts a team in multiple ways. A club misses the production, obviously, but can also be deflated by having failed in an attempt to get an immediate upgrade. It's a whiffed tackle or dropped pass that can haunt a team.
Both the Titans and the Jets have put a premium on personalities as they've brought guys in.
"When you bring in free agents it's also a function of how well they fit into the group that's already there," Jets coach Eric Mangini said. "How quickly they can stop being free agents and start being Jets? One of the things that has always been important to us is core characteristics with the people that we bring in and that's smart, tough, hard-working guys, guys that are competitive and selfless, and guys that football is important to."
"That's the draft, that's free agency and those are characteristics that we target before we even talk about their ability to play football."
That could have just as easily been Jeff Fisher talking about what the Titans have managed to do as they've shopped for veteran help.
Do it well as these two teams have and you might end up in one of the best games of Week 12, pitting a 10-0 team against a 7-3 division leader.