issa-sbf-white-logo.png
ssflogo2.png

J.J. Watt is set to return for the Houston Texans against the Buffalo Bills on Saturday after being activated off the reserve/injured list.

Watt, 30, has been sidelined since October due to a torn pectoral, an injury which was expected to see the Texans star miss the rest of the season.

However, the team announced on Tuesday that defensive end Watt had been activated ahead of the wildcard clash against the Bills.

"The #Texans have activated DE J.J. Watt off the Reserve/Injured list," they wrote on Twitter.

"The team also placed S Tashaun Gipson Sr. on the Reserve/Injured list."

The Texans host the Bills at NRG Stadium looking to advance to the AFC divisional round.

The Cleveland Browns have mutually agreed to part ways with general manager John Dorsey.

Dorsey, 59, leaves the Browns after just over two years as GM in Cleveland.

His exit also comes just two days after Freddie Kitchens was fired as head coach following the Browns' 6-10 season.

"We have a great appreciation for John and all he has done with the Cleveland Browns," team owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in a statement.

"He has helped create a foundation that we need to continue to develop and build upon. While John helped greatly improve our team's talent and we are excited about the core players on our roster, we fully recognised that our team did not meet its potential on or off the field and additional changes in leadership give us the best opportunity for success in the future.

"As the role of the general manager continues to evolve in this league we felt there were areas that needed to be reassessed. Over the last 48 hours, we've had discussion with John about his role but could not come to an agreement on a position that would enable him to remain with the organisation.

"As we conveyed on Sunday and our players reiterated yesterday, bringing in a strong leader with our head coach is our priority.

"Our process to improve upon the leadership will allow the flexibility to ensure we create the best partnership between our future head coach and general manager.

"We know the road of our tenure as stewards of this franchise has been a test of patience as we all want the success that our fans so deserve and we are relentlessly committed to and working towards.

"We fully appreciate, understand and empathise with our fans as we work towards our ultimate goal of building a championship-level football team."

The Philadelphia Eagles are heading into the NFL playoffs with a new running back on their active roster after signing Elijah Holyfield.

Undrafted Georgia product Holyfield, the son of former two-weight boxing world champion Evander Holyfield, spent the regular season on the Carolina Panthers practice team and became available after they opted against offering him a reserve future contract on Monday.

The rookie tailback will provide additional depth as Miles Sanders (ankle) and Jordan Howard (shoulder) head into the postseason with niggling injuries.

Philadelphia also announced on Tuesday defensive end Daeshon Hall has been placed on injured reserve after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in Sunday's 34-17 win over the New York Giants.

The Eagles will take on the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card Round at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.

Ben Roethlisberger is set for a "significant" check-up in February on the elbow injury that curtailed his season, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed.

Veteran quarterback Roethlisberger underwent surgery on his right throwing elbow in September and was expected to make a full recovery and return for the 2020 NFL season.

Tomlin was unable to provide a detailed update on the two-time Super Bowl winner's rehabilitation but announced the next steps will be decided in around a month.

"Obviously some guys that have gone through some health things like Ben, who are in the process of rehabilitation, will have some significant updates along the way, check-ups that allow them to move into different areas of rehabilitation," said Tomlin.

"We'll get some clarity about those things in the upcoming days and weeks.

"I do not [have a timeline for Roethlisberger's return]. I lean on the expertise of the medical professionals. What I want is secondary to that.

"I know that he is due for an update somewhere around the first of February, a check-up that will be probably significant in terms of mapping out what's next. But that date is a moving target.

"We've been taking it one step at a time."

The Steelers, who missed the playoffs after a 28-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday saw them finish the regular season with an 8-8 record, ended the campaign with undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges under center.

Hodges replaced Mason Rudolph during the Week 12 win over the Cincinnati Bengals and started Pittsburgh's remaining games.

However, Tomlin confirmed Rudolph remains the back-up option for the Steelers heading into the offseason.

"I'm comfortable with Mason Rudolph," said Tomlin. "I'm disappointed he missed the amount of time he did. He had an opportunity to grow in a lot of ways and get a lot of experience.

"He missed some time due to injuries and performance and so forth, but I'm comfortable with Mason Rudolph. Mason's the back-up."

Mitchell Trubisky avoided paying the price for an underwhelming NFL season after it was confirmed he will remain the Chicago Bears' starting quarterback in 2020.

But general manager Ryan Pace acknowledged, when announcing the decision, that Trubisky must show greater consistency going forward.

The 25-year-old was the second overall pick in the 2017 draft but has so far played only one postseason game, failing to make the playoffs this term.

Trubisky threw for 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for the 8-8 Bears, who finished third in the NFC North despite their impressive defense.

The former North Carolina WB will get another opportunity in his fourth year, though, Pace told reporters on Tuesday.

"Yes, we do [feel confident with Trubisky]," Pace said. "With Mitch, we need more time in the coming months to evaluate things, but the first thing that comes to mind for me is just consistency.

"You see moments, you see games, but for him, it's [about] stringing together better consistency.

"You know with a young quarterback it's never going to be a straight line, be linear. There are going to be ups and downs."

However, Pace confirmed Chicago would look at the quarterback position in the offseason, with back-ups Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray soon to become free agents.

Trubisky is not the only man retaining the franchise's faith, as coach Matt Nagy will also continue to lead the Bears.

"We have extreme confidence in our head coach and the leader of our team in Matt Nagy," Pace said.

The GM appeared to suggest not all decisions would be so straightforward, however.

Pace began the news conference by saying: "We sit here today disappointed in our season. Obviously we expect more from ourselves, from our team. We didn't hit the goals we set out to achieve.

"The next four or five months are about hard decisions, decisions that require real honest assessment of our roster and our entire football operations."

Head coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell will keep their jobs at the Jacksonville Jaguars, owner Shad Khan announced on Tuesday.

The Jaguars fired executive vice-president of football operations Tom Coughlin two weeks ago and Marrone admitted he was concerned about his position after they beat the Indianapolis Colts 38-20 on Sunday to finish the NFL season with a 6-10 record.

Khan met with Caldwell, the head coach and their assistants over recent days and spoke to the players on Monday, and those meetings led to him deciding to retain the duo's services.

"I have met on several occasions over the past few days with Dave Caldwell, Doug Marrone and their staffs to fully understand their plans to reverse our course and compete for a postseason berth in 2020," said Khan in a statement.

"In addition, I held numerous one-on-one meetings with players on Monday and thoroughly appreciated their candour and thoughtful views – some expected, some not – on the season behind us and where we go from here.

"While our discussions will remain confidential, the decision I am making to keep our staff intact for 2020 has nothing to do with our victory on Sunday and everything to do with my positive meetings with Dave, Doug, the coordinators and our players, as well as my belief that this is not the time to consider an overhaul of our organisation.

"The 2019 season was unacceptable and I've made my dissatisfaction clear. While many unusual circumstances influenced our season, none can fully explain or defend our second-half collapse with first place in the division within reach on Week 9. At the same time, there were positive developments and contributions that should not be overlooked."

Khan confirmed Coughlin will not be replaced, and he wants to see how the team fares with the leadership tweak in 2020. He added: "Goals have been established. Accountability will be paramount."

Marrone has amassed a 22-28 regular-season record at the helm for Jacksonville, while going 2-1 in the playoffs.

If the 2010s were the decade of the veteran quarterbacks, the 2020s promise to be the next generation's era.

Ten years ago Peyton Manning met Drew Brees in the Super Bowl, Matt Schaub led the league in passing yards and Brees, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers and Eli Manning were all in the top 10.

Seven of that top 10 remain on teams in 2019 but only two - Rivers and Brady - featured among the leaders in that category this season.

Brees, Brady et al are used to completing passes, only this time it's the baton that is changing hands.

We take a look at why the future is now when it comes to the NFL's most important position.

 

Quarterbacks aged 27 or younger combined for a record 288 starts in 2019

Forty-somethings Brady and Brees may remain somewhere near the peak of their powers, but behind them there is a youth movement taking over.

The 2019 season saw QBs aged 27 or younger combine for 288 starts - by far the most since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. Those young slingers combined for 145 wins too - again, another record broken by a large margin.

In Week 3, a record 20 of the 32 starting quarterbacks were 27 or younger. Draft classes after Brady, Brees and Rivers may not have produced players able to emulate their peers' achievements but playoff-bound QBs Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson have provided plenty of early encouragement.

 

Nine rookie QBs started a game in 2019, four did so in 2009

Remember the days when coaches wanted rookies to sit, learn the system and be thrown in when they were ready? 

Whether it was injuries (Gardner Minshew, Devlin Hodges, David Blough) or just pure curiosity (Will Grier, Ryan Finley) - teams turned to first-year players in 2019 in a way they never did a decade ago.

Only four rookies started games in the 2009 season - and three of those were first-rounders (Matt Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman). 

 

The QB with the most rushing yards in 2009 had... 323

A decade ago CJ2K became a thing as Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson went over 2,000 yards on the ground.

The leading QB in that category also came from the AFC South, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard amassing 323 rushing yards.

He was one of only four QBs - along with Rodgers, Vince Young and Jason Campbell - to pile up more than 200 on the season. Two hundred rushing yards? That's practically an eight-day span for current Baltimore QB Jackson, who broke an NFL record with a whopping 1,206 on the ground.

MVP-in-waiting Jackson was one of 13 quarterbacks to rush for over 200 yards in 2019. Six of those beat Garrard's 2009 total and all bar Russell Wilson are 24 or younger.

For years dual-threat quarterbacks were seen as a quick fad that would burn out as you had to win from the pocket. Yet mobility at the QB position has proven to be a vital weapon in today's NFL.

 

This season, 75 per cent of head coaching hires came from offensive backgrounds

Eleven new head coach vacancies were filled prior to the 2009 season. Seven of those came from defensive backgrounds.

Eight new head coach vacancies were filled prior to the 2019 season. Six of those came from offensive backgrounds.

Call it the Sean McVay effect: NFL franchises want bright young minds to teach their promising-but-green QBs how to thrive at the next level. 

 

Goodbye, golden generation?

In the list for most touchdown passes of all time - a category Brees recently put himself at the top of - six of the leading 10 players are still active.

Aside from Rodgers, who should have a few years left in Green Bay, it is conceivable that the rest of that group - Brees, Brady, Rivers, Eli Manning and Roethlisberger - may head off into the sunset over the next couple of seasons.

Throw in Peyton Manning, who retired in 2016, and it is obvious we are seeing the last days of the golden generation that spearheaded the pass-happy revolution.

Luckily, there's a host of players ready to take over and take on the mantle in the 2020s.

Bruce Arians insisted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can win with a quarterback other than Jameis Winston amid growing doubts over the QB's future.

Winston became the first NFL player to throw for at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in a season as the Buccaneers ended their campaign with a 28-22 overtime loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Tampa Bay's Winston joined the dubious 30-30 club after he was pick-sixed by Falcons linebacker Deion Jones on the first play of overtime.

With his rookie contract expiring, Winston's position at the Buccaneers is far from certain and head coach Arians did little to put an end to speculation.

"[If] we can win with this one, we can definitely win with another one too," Arians told reporters on Monday. "We're going to have this defense."

The Buccaneers used the number one pick in the 2015 draft to select Winston but the 25-year-old, who became the eighth quarterback in league history to throw for 5,000 yards in a season, struggled in 2019.

As the Buccaneers prepare to evaluate their season, Arians said he will take his time reviewing Winston's situation.

"It will be a while," Arians said. "I would think in a few weeks we will have a decision on which way we want to head. Will we let it out? Probably not. Because you lose your leverage on that one too. So it's 'stay tuned.'"

"Well, free agency, who's available," Arians added. "What's behind Door No. 2. That's the first question. Then as you evaluate for the draft, that's another question. Are they better than what you have? Then you evaluate and that's when you make your decisions."

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Mychal Kendricks is set to undergo surgery after suffering a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Kendricks tore his ACL against the San Francisco 49ers, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Monday.

An NFL Super Bowl champion with the Philadelphia Eagles, Kendricks hurt his knee in the third quarter of Seattle's 26-21 loss to San Francisco on Sunday.

"Looks like he'll need surgery," Carroll said in his news conference. "He has an ACL injury that he will have to deal with."

After four appearances in his first season with the Seahawks, Kendricks played 14 games in 2019.

The Seahawks are scheduled to face the Eagles in the NFC wildcard game on Sunday.

New York Jets head coach Adam Gase refused to say he wants star recruit Le'Veon Bell back in 2020, sparking doubts over the running back's future.

Bell signed a four-year, $52.2million deal to join the Jets following a contract dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers, however, he struggled to make an impact in New York.

The three-time NFL Pro Bowler rushed for just 789 yards and three touchdowns as the Jets finished 7-9 for the season.

Amid speculation Bell could be traded, Gase added fuel to the fire during Monday's news conference.

"He's under contract for three more years," Gase told reporters when asked if he wants to work with Bell again next season.

"You can ask [general manager] Joe [Douglas] tomorrow. I'm not in charge of personnel."

Bell did not seem enthused by Gase's comments, using a gif from popular TV show 'The Office' to respond via Twitter.

Gase, however, did reveal he has already talked with Bell about how he can improve in 2020 after an underwhelming first season with the Jets.

"We talked about look at some of the stuff they did in Pittsburgh and talking through some of the things he's comfortable with in the run game -- especially early in the offseason and trying to focus on those types of runs and pass game," Gase said.

 

Eli Manning said "everything's an option" but the New York Giants quarterback is not interested in spending another NFL season as backup to Daniel Jones, with retirement a possibility.

Manning started the first two games of the season, however, the 38-year-old star took a backseat to rookie QB Jones in New York.

A two-time Super Bowl champion and MVP, Manning made four appearances in total this term, while he was given a standing ovation in likely his last start at MetLife Stadium against the Miami Dolphins on December 15.

With Manning's contract expiring and the Giants searching for a new head coach after Pat Shurmur's sacking, the future is uncertain for the four-time Pro Bowler.

"Everything's an option," Manning told reporters on Monday when asked if he was planning to retire.

"I haven't [made a decision]. I'm gonna think about it and I'm gonna just dwell on it, talk to my family. Figure out what's best for me and us and what I want to do going forward ...

"I don't have no plans. Just sit on it and hopefully have that answer on what I want to do and what my next steps are. I don't want to linger around, I'm going try to make it as soon as possible, so I'll think upon it a bunch over these next days and weeks and try to figure out what I want to do."

Asked if he would consider being a backup again in New York, Manning replied: "I doubt it. I doubt it. Backing up is not real fun… I think I can still play."

On the possibly of turning to coaching, Manning added: "I felt like I was kind of a coach this year.

"I didn't enjoy it that much. I guess, you know, I kinda take it back. I am coaching my third-grade basketball team, my daughter [is on it]. I'm the assistant, but I take it pretty serious and I'm enjoying that, so I will consider some coaching jobs."

Andy Reid hinted the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants are interested in his Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.

The Panthers and Giants are without head coaches after sacking Ron Rivera and Pat Shurmur respectively.

Highly rated offensive coordinator Bieniemy has been touted as a candidate for both teams, and Reid – whose Chiefs side on Sunday clinched a first-round bye for the playoffs – suggested the reports are true.

"I can tell you that you're probably heading in the right direction," Reid told a media conference on Monday when asked if the Panthers and Giants had been in touch over Bieniemy's availability. 

"As we sit here today, it's that time of the year, but you know how I feel about Eric. I think he'd be tremendous.

"There's a team out there, I don't know the team, but there's a team out there that could use him, being the leader of men that he is.

"You're not going to find people better than that and he's got a sharp offensive mind on top of that. I'm a big fan, I don't want to lose him, but realistically, that's what it is."

Reid confirmed safety Juan Thornhill will miss the postseason after sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the Chiefs' 31-21 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.

The Philadelphia Eagles will be without Brandon Brooks for their playoff campaign after the guard suffered a dislocated shoulder against the New York Giants.

The Eagles clinched the NFC East and ensured their place in the playoffs with a 34-17 win over the Giants on Sunday.

However, it came at a cost, with Pro Bowler Brooks dislocating his shoulder in the second quarter, while running back Miles Sanders also succumbed to an ankle issue and Daeshon Hall suffered a serious injury late on.

On Monday, Pederson confirmed Brooks will not be available against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday or in any subsequent postseason matches.

"Brooks had the dislocated right shoulder during the game. He's suffered a little more damage in there and he's going to miss the remainder of the season," Pederson told a media conference.

"Brandon's a big loss. He's an anchor in the offensive line, he's big and physical and he's a professional. He comes to work every day ready to go.

"The other report I should put out there is Daeshon Hall, last play of the game, ACL. So he's done for the year. It's unfortunate."

Brooks was replaced at right guard by lineman Matt Pryor, and with Lane Johnson returning to fitness, Pederson is hoping to still have plenty of options heading into Sunday's game.

"There's some flexibility there. Lane will work himself back into practice this week but we have some options there. We'll see how the week plays out," Pederson added.

"To Matt Pryor's credit, he stepped in and did well in the game, and if he's the guy, we expect him to pick up where Brandon left off. But [Brooks is] definitely a big loss.

"We've got a great opportunity in front of us. Seattle aren't going to feel sorry for us. We've got to continue to work, practice, prepare and get ready for Sunday."

The Seahawks have their own injury concerns ahead of the playoffs, with the NFL Network reporting linebacker Mychal Kendricks is believed to have torn his anterior cruciate ligament in Week 17.

Jason Garrett looks set to find out his Dallas Cowboys future on Monday when he meets with the team's owner Jerry Jones.

Speculation over Garrett's position has been rife after the Cowboys – who beat the Washington Redskins on Sunday – missed out on the playoffs with an 8-8 record for 2019.

Garrett has been in charge since 2010, but NFL sources have claimed the Cowboys will dismiss their head coach following their failure to qualify for the postseason.

Speaking on 105.3 The FAN on Monday, Garrett confirmed he will be meeting with the Jones family on Monday, after he has held a team meeting.

"I don't know, I don't know," Garrett, whose contract expires on January 14, said when asked about his immediate future with the franchise.

"We're going to go in this morning, our guys have extra physical. So we're going to go in and talk to the players, we have a team meeting at 12 noon, and then I'm scheduled to visit after that. We'll have a good visit and see what's next."

"Absolutely," he added when asked if he wanted to continue as the Cowboys' coach.

The Cowboys finished second in the NFC East this season and risk losing as many as 26 players, including quarterback Dak Prescott, to unrestricted free agency.

Pat Shurmur has been sacked by the New York Giants after two seasons at the helm, though general manager Dave Gettleman will remain in his position.

The Giants' season came to an end on Sunday with a 34-17 defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles, with New York finishing third in the NFC East with a 4-12 record for the campaign.

It proved the final straw for the Giants, who on Monday confirmed Shurmur had been relieved of his duties.

Over his two seasons as head coach, Shurmur managed a 9-23 record. His winning percentage in four years as coach with the Giants and Cleveland Browns ranks as the seventh lowest in NFL history.

Team president John Mara and chairman Steve Tisch confirmed the decision to sack Shurmur and retain Gettleman in a statement released on the team's website.

"Steve and I have had many extensive discussions about the state of the Giants," Mara said.

"This morning, we made the very difficult decision that it would be in the best interest of the franchise that we relieve Pat of his duties. The last three seasons have been extremely disappointing for the organisation and our fans.

"Pat has been a successful and highly-respected NFL coach for 21 years and he is not solely responsible for our record. But we came to the conclusion it is best to have a fresh start with the coaching staff.

"We very much appreciate how much Pat has done for this franchise. He is a man of character and integrity and the team has conducted itself with pride and professionalism."

Tisch added: "The last two seasons have been a continuation of what has been a very difficult and disappointing period for our franchise."

With Shurmur's dismissal, the Giants are now searching for their fourth head coach in the space of six seasons.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.