As the Jets’ defeat of the Patriots shakes up the AFC playoff picture, let’s look at some of the news coming out of the Eastern divisions as Week 16 shifts to its night games.
- Jets players were stunned the Patriots opted to kick to start overtime, Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com reports. “My face lit up, like ‘You really want to kick the ball?’ I don’t know, but I am glad they did choose to kick,” Calvin Pryor told media, including Hannable. Bill Belichick made the same decision two years ago against the Broncos, a game that featured several overtime punts before a Patriots victory. However, receiving teams don’t have an overwhelming percentage edge since the new OT rules were implemented for the regular season. Just 50.7% of receiving teams have won in extra periods since 2012.
- The player who verbalized New England’s decision to kick, Matt Slater, could not retract his call regarding which direction the Patriots wanted to defend, per the NFL rulebook. But a post-regulation conversation between Belichick and referee Clete Blakeman may have set this mistake in motion, Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com writes. Belichick told Blakeman before the coin toss he intended to have his team kick, and Blakeman worded that into his question to Slater, asking “You want to kick?” Once Slater responded, “We want to kick, that way,” Blakeman could only, by rule, follow his first command as teams that win the toss are not permitted to choose both the action that starts overtime or a half and the direction.
- Bill Polian‘s recent critique of the current offensive front’s status was a point of contention among the Bills‘ line, Tyler Dunne of the Buffalo News reports. The Hall of Fame ex-Bills GM referred to the Bills’ line as “aging and unathletic,” and the line mates, most notably 29-year-old Eric Wood and 32-year-old Richie Incognito, made it known that upset them. “We were chirping about it a little bit,” Incognito told media, including Dunne. “A lot of text messages back and forth. You know, we noticed it. We’re professionals. And for a guy like Bill Polian — who’s had a lot of success in Buffalo and is a Hall of Fame (executive) — to talk bad about our group like that, it puts a little (expletive) in our grit.” Despite not having LeSean McCoy‘s services, the Bills rushed for 236 yards on 40 carries in their defeat of the Cowboys.
- Should Jerry Jones decide to fire Jason Garrett after this disastrous season, he’d have to pay up to do so, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. The Cowboys‘ coach is finishing out the first season of a five-year, $30MM contract he signed. An about-face on Garrett’s future in Dallas would cost the Cowboys up to $24MM. Garrett’s passive style in terms of deferring credit works well with the attention-hungry Jones, Florio offers.
- Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis demurred when asked about his job security, responding, “That’s for other men to decide,” according to Paul Domowitch of Philly.com. Davis’ unit has ceded 216 points the past six games. Domowitch notes Chip Kelly’s vote of confidence about Davis’ future doesn’t mean too much considering Andy Reid gave Sean McDermott the same sentiment before firing him five seasons ago. The Philadelphia writer adds Davis is the likely scapegoat for Kelly’s first-year struggles assembling a quality roster.