Steve Tisch

NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Garrett, Redskins

The Cowboys aren’t planning to fire head coach Jason Garrett during the season, but some reports have indicated needs to lead Dallas to a Super Bowl victory in order to keep his job. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has offered his fair share of criticism of Garrett this year, and earlier this week, he made a peculiar comment sure to draw the eye of observers. “In my opinion, Jason Garrett will be coaching in the NFL next year,” Jones said this week on 105.3 The Fan (Twitter link via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News). Notably, Jones didn’t say exactly where he thinks Garrett will coaching in 2020.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • Don’t expect Trent Williams to mend fences with the Redskins any time soon. Williams, who didn’t play this season while holding out, holds a great deal of animus against the Washington organization for how it handled a cancerous tumor that appeared on his head. “I don’t see how it can be reconciled,” Williams told Les Carpenter of the Washington Post. “At the end of the day I’m a human being, I ain’t like a dog and you can slap s— out of me and I’m going to come back the next morning with my tail wagging. This was a conscious decision, they didn’t burn the bridge by accident. This was something they felt comfortable doing, so I got to feel comfortable with moving on, too.”
  • Most of Williams’ ire is directed towards Redskins president Bruce Allen, per Carpenter. Williams claims Allen ignored calls and texts from Williams and his agent while the club was searching for a helmet that would accommodate Williams’ pain. Williams believes Allen did so that the Redskins can argue Williams still has two years left on his contract, which could raise his trade value this offseason. Allen, for his part, calls the allegations “comical.”
  • Group Giants owner Steve Tisch with those who think Colin Kaepernick‘s workout session in Atlanta last month was botched by the NFL. “I just felt, you know, what happened in Atlanta was unfortunate,” Tisch told Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic. “It didn’t seem to be very well organized. And I just, I don’t know how it all sort of fell apart.” Tisch also said he hopes the issue is brought up during next week’s league meetings.

Giants’ Owner On Pat Shurmur, Dave Gettleman

The Giants are 2-10 and nobody is safe. As the losses pile up, Giants owner Steve Tisch seems open to a total turnover, one that could include the dismissal of head coach Pat Shurmur and/or GM Dave Gettleman

Here’s a look at what Tisch told NBC’s Bruce Beck earlier this week (via Greg Joyce of the New York Post).

On the possibility of offseason changes: 

“It’s been a very frustrating season. At the end of the season John Mara and I are gonna get together and discuss the future. As partners we have to be very honest with each other about where we see this team going into the 2020 season.”

On whether he believes in Shurmur and Gettleman:

“Those decisions and conversation are not going to be made this morning. It’s really at the end of the season that John and I are going to sit down and talk about these issues.”

On his message for frustrated Giants fans:

“I’m asking for patience. I’m being patient which you know at times is challenging. Please be understanding and patient. I want Giants fan to feel that their voice is being heard.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Anthem Issue

Months after the NFL passed an anthem policy without players’ input — one that appeared to reignite the issue and please few in the process — the NFLPA’s grievance caused the league to pump the brakes on it. Now, the old policy is in place after the NFL and the union agreed to resume talks on the issue.

Some new developments surfaced Friday. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross attempted to navigate the PR damage his team’s anthem policy — potentially a four-game suspension for players who kneel during the song’s playing, news of which broke before the NFL-NFLPA’s joint statement emerged Thursday night — by saying this course of action was merely a placeholder.

We were asked to submit a form to the NFL on our overall discipline policy prior to the start of the rookie report date. The one-line sentence related to the national anthem was a placeholder as we haven’t made a decision on what we would do, if anything, at that point,” Ross said in a statement (Twitter link).

Giants co-owner Steve Tisch also discussed this issue, coming out on the players’ side of the discussion. Tisch said, via Marc Malkin of the Hollywood Reporter, Giants players will not be disciplined for protesting during the anthem. However, it’s not known if the Giants’ better-known co-owner, the influential John Mara, is fully on board.

We support our players,” Tisch said. “They are not going to be punished. There is not going to be any punitive action taking place against them.”

President Donald Trump (Twitter link) resurfaced with thoughts on this issue, which has become one of his frequent talking points. Perhaps rhetorically, Trump asked if it was “in contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart?” No such language exists in any player’s contract. Trump also suggested the NFL first suspend players who kneel during the anthem before calling for Roger Goodell to suspend protesters without pay for the season were they to do so a second time.

The Dolphins’ leaked placeholder policy did not prompt the sides to issue their joint statement Thursday night, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports, adding both sides hope this resolved before Week 1. Maske reports an arbitrator also was not required to produce Thursday’s statement scrapping May anthem policy, pointing out the league and the union have engaged in dialogue since the June grievance emerged.

The NFLPA, not the Players Coalition, is overseeing the talks with the NFL this time, Maske reports.

I know there have been conversations about the grievance. But in terms of sitting down to talk about a resolution with players being involved, there hasn’t been anything yet,” Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, part of the NFLPA’s ruling executive committee, told Maske. “That’s the whole purpose, to have some face-to-face conversations about this. That’s what’s in the works now.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Giants’ Coaching Search

Once thought to be the Giants’ No. 1 candidate, Jim Schwartz looks like he will be a bit behind in Big Blue’s search.

The Eagles’ DC received an interview request, but the sides have yet to schedule said summit, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). If nothing transpires by Sunday, the Giants will have to wait until the Eagles are eliminated to meet with Schwartz. Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter) the Giants don’t have a Sunday interview scheduled; he labels Schwartz as being on the back-burner.

While waiting hasn’t been a deal-breaker for some teams in the past, the Giants and Schwartz — attached in rumors for weeks — not conducting an interview before he prepares for Philadelphia’s divisional-round game could cause the team to pivot away from the former Lions boss. The Eagles are not a highly regarded No. 1 seed presently, but in a hotly contested coaching market that’s seen three Giants interviewees also take meetings elsewhere, the team could opt to move forward with other candidates to stave off competitors. Schwartz has met with the Cardinals about their HC vacancy.

Big Blue has already met with Steve Spagnuolo, Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia and Pat Shurmur, whom Raanan notes (on Twitter) interviewed Saturday. The Giants still plan to meet with both Eric Studesville and Steve Wilks early next week, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv tweets. The Carolina DC would be eligible to meet with New York’s representatives after the Panthers-Saints game, whether his team wins or loses.

Dave Gettleman, John Mara and assistant GM Kevin Abrams are meeting with the HC candidates, per Vacchiano (on Twitter), who adds co-owner Steve Tisch will meet with candidates as the team moves closer to a final decision.

NFC Notes: Hyde, Ngata, McAdoo, Bucs QBs

Despite the noise of a Carlos Hyde trade, Kyle Shanahan attempted to put an end to those rumors during a media session today. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee passes along that the first-year 49ers head coach said that the reports of a speculative trade involving the running back were “absolutely, absolutely 100 percent false.” The rumors started to pick up after San Francisco was making calls to teams about now-former 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman. Despite the pushback, rookie Matt Breida has slowly started to cut into Hyde’s touches in recent weeks. The former Georgia Southern running back had his first double-digit carry game two weeks ago against the Colts, even though the rookie touched the ball just six times this past Sunday. Nevertheless, the 49ers are still winless through six weeks, which means that the trade winds will continue to swirl around the team with the deadline just a few weeks away.

  • Building off the news that Ben McAdoo gave up play calling to offenisve coordinator Mike Sullivan for their Sunday night contest against the Broncos, it is now known that neither owner John Mara nor Giants executive chairman Steve Tisch asked the head coach to give up the offensive playbook, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. It would seem that McAdoo made this decision on his own with the results being positive thus far as the team shocked many by going into Denver and winning by double digits.
  • Now that Haloti Ngata is out for the season with a torn biceps, the question remains: Just how long will the 33-year-old continue to play in the NFL? The Lions defensive lineman told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press that he has not made any decision about the future yet. “We’ll have to see. To be determined,” Ngata told the pressThe veteran has not been the same player he was with the Ravens since he joined Detroit in 2015. Ngata did show signs of life this seasn, racking up two sacks in the team’s first five games, which matched the halfway mark of the number of QB takedowns he put up in the two seasons prior.
  • Although Jameis Winston left last Sunday’s game because of a shoulder injury, the Buccaneers still don’t expect to sign another QB for this week’s affair against the Bills, tweets Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. Auman reports that Tampa Bay seems to be comfortable with Winston suiting up as an emergency backup for Ryan Fitzpatrick, if he can’t start. The move sounds a bit risky considering that the team still does not have a third-string QB with Ryan Griffin currently working to get off the IR. However, the news may be encouraging to some as it seems Winston has most likely avoided a long-term injury.

Nick Saban Expressed Interest In Giants Head Coaching Gig?

Take this one for what it’s worth. Actor Tom Arnold (yup, that’s not a typo) recently told ESPN’s Paul Finebaum that Alabama coach Nick Saban expressed interest in the Giants head coach opening this past offseason. According to Arnold, the team had already finalized a deal with eventual head coach Ben McAdoo when Saban threw his name into the ring.

Nick Saban (Vertical)“They got his deal done with [Ben McAdoo] and they are ready to sign him, and they get a call from Bob Ehrman [an intermediary] who says Nick Saban wants the job,” Arnold said (via Hannah Withiam of the New York Post). “So they had to stop. This is a Saturday night. They said, ‘You have until Sunday morning at 8 a.m. to say a definite yes. Tell us what he needs for money.’ ‘Well, he needs $10 million to start with and this is the deal. He has to get it approved by his wife right.’ Well, he has to get it approved by his wife right this second because we have a coach on the string here. But if he wants to do it, it has to be right this second. So he had until Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and it didn’t work out. But it was close.”

We wouldn’t consider Arnold a legitimate source for NFL rumors, although the comedian is good friends with Giants owner Steve Tisch. When asked if there was any legitimacy to the reports, a team spokesman responded “no.” Of course, at this point, you wouldn’t necessarily expect the organization to acknowledge that they nearly backed out of their deal with McAdoo in order to sign the Alabama coach. James Kratch of NJ Advance Media questions Arnold’s timeline (via Twitter), although he acknowledges that “the details seem rather legit.”

Saban, 64, didn’t have much success during his first stint in the NFL, leading the Dolphins to a 15-17 record in two seasons with the team. Since that time, Saban has led Alabama to four National Championships, and he also earned the AP National Coach of the Year award in 2008. As Withiam writes, Saban’s “extraordinary success at the college level has earned him respect from professional organizations.” Therefore, it’s not farfetched that the team would have at least considered hiring the coach.

McAdoo has done an admirable job during his first season as head coach of the Giants, leading the team to a 4-3 record. The former Giants offensive coordinator replaced long-time Giants coach Tom Coughlin this past offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Coughlin, Eagles, Fins, Jets, Hardy

Beleaguered Giants head coach Tom Coughlin isn’t a lock to go quietly, according to Pro Football Talk. The site tweets that Coughlin’s resignation isn’t definite, which would obviously require the team to fire the longtime coach if it wants to get rid of him. It isn’t out of the question that Coughlin will end up back with Big Blue for a 13th season, as co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch could be at odds over his fate, per PFT.

Mara and Tisch will meet Monday to discuss Coughlin’s future, according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). Vacchiano adds (on Twitter) that neither Coughlin’s assistant coaches nor some members of his family know his fate.

More from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase will interview with the Eagles and Dolphins regarding their head coaching vacancies in the coming days, ESPN’s Dianna Marie Russini reports (Twitter link).
  • Speaking of the Dolphins, while they’re unlikely to promote interim head coach Dan Campbell to the full-time role, his players hope he gets the job. “I know, 100 percent, he has the support of the locker room,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said Sunday, ESPN’s James Walker writes. Owner Stephen Ross had kind words for Campbell after Miami’s 20-10 victory over New England, but he doesn’t exactly sound ready to promote the 39-year-old. “I guess in 2016, we are undefeated. It’s 2015 that I am disappointed in and the way this team,” Ross said. “But I really have to thank Dan Campbell for the great job I think he’s done in really elevating this team. I’m very pleased with that.”
  • Though Pro Bowl Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson suffered a broken leg Sunday in the team’s season-ending loss to Buffalo, he’ll make a full, normal recovery, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (on Twitter). As La Canfora notes, despite the injury, the free agent-to-be is in position to earn a big payday this offseason.
  • Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy, a pending free agent, wants to return to Dallas next season. “If the Cowboys offer me an opportunity to stay, I would love to stay here,” he said, per ESPN’s Jean-Jacques Taylor. Owner Jerry Jones seems open to re-signing Hardy. “He was an outstanding player and we may not have gotten his individual sack total up, but he made an impact across the board. He was a good player for us, and we’ll evaluate real close any good player.”

NFC Notes: JPP, Eagles, Saints

Giants coach Tom Coughlin revealed Saturday that he got in touch with injured defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and the two had a “good conversation.” Co-owner Steve Tisch hasn’t been able to get in contact with Pierre-Paul, however, and is irked that the 26-year-old hasn’t responded to his overtures.

“It’s been very frustrating,” Tisch told the team’s website, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “I’ve reached out to Jason. I’ve not heard back from Jason. I’m not going to hold that against him. I understand his situation is difficult, complicated, and I’m sure very confusing to him personally.’’

Pierre-Paul, who led the Giants with 12.5 sacks last year, injured his hand in a fireworks accident in July and still hasn’t signed his $14.8MM franchise tender for 2015.

“My message to him is get better, we cheer for you,” said Tisch. “[Senior vice president of medical services] Ronnie [Barnes] and our doctors have access to the best doctors, if not in New York City and the country, possibly in the world. He should take advantage of that.

“Let us see you sooner than later. You’re not going to be judged, you’re going to be helped.”

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Eagles cornerback JaCorey Shepherd hurt his right knee Sunday and there’s concern it could be an ACL injury, reports Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News. Shepherd, a sixth-round rookie who has been getting first-team nickel corner reps during training camp, will have an MRI on Monday.
  • Saints general manager Mickey Loomis told SiriusXM NFL Radio that the team focused on adding talent and, more importantly, leadership during the offseason. He noted that the defense was especially lacking in leadership. The defense lost talent but arguably improved in the leadership department last month when it released pass-rushing linebacker Junior Galette, whose on-field success (22 sacks from 2013-14) was overshadowed by poor behavior off the field.
  • In other Saints news, offensive lineman Andrus Peat, the 13th pick in this year’s draft, has impressed head coach Sean Payton with his ability to play both tackle and guard. “I do see him as a tackle and yet he’s athletic enough to play inside,” said Payton, Evan Woodbery of NOLA.com tweeted. “We’ll keep moving him around,” Payton added (Twitter link).

NFL Execs Weigh In On Michael Sam

As the world reacted to the news that the NFL might soon see its first openly gay current player last night, so did anonymous NFL club officials. The feedback from decision makers around the league was not nearly as positive as the general public’s.

Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans polled eight NFL executives and coaches, and the overwhelming consensus was that the announcement would hurt Michael Sam‘s draft stock. The redshirt senior from the University of Missouri is predicted as a mid- to late-round draft pick, but one NFL player personnel assistant told SI he doesn’t feel football is ready for an openly gay player.

“In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game,” the assistant said. “To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”

Three general managers and one scout spoke on the condition of anonymity to The MMQB’s Peter King, with one GM saying his team had discussed the issue at draft meetings in recent days.

“First of all, we don’t think he’s a very good player,” the GM told King. “The reality is he’s an overrated football player in our estimation. Second: He’s going to have expectations about where he should be drafted, and I think he’ll be disappointed. He’s not going to get drafted where he thinks he should. The question you will ask yourself, knowing your team, is, ‘How will drafting him affect your locker room?’ And I am sorry to say where we are at this point in time, I think it’s going to affect most locker rooms. A lot of guys will be uncomfortable. Ten years from now, fine. But today, I think being openly gay is a factor in the locker room.”

The results were more positive today, as a legion of owners and coaches – each of whom were willing to put their names with their words – voiced their support for a potential gay player as a member of their team. Giants co-owners Steve Tisch and John Mara backed Sam loudly, in statements to TMZ and Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger respectively. Meanwhile, one team personnel executive told NFL.com columnist Judy Battista that he could see owners pushing their coaches and personnel staff “it’s OK” to draft Sam.

Other notable league personnel to come out in support of Sam include Bears GM Phil Emery, Packers coach Mike McCarthy and Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Kraft’s coach, Bill Belichick, released a statement via the team’s website, expressing that he and the Pats pursue players “who can best contribute to our team and organization, regardless of the matters being discussed today.” The league also released its own statement in support of Sam and his efforts.

Stepping away from the issue of Sam’s personal life, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said he has a “pretty good feel” for the undersized Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year, projecting him as a third- to fifth-round pick.

“He’s an explosive kid who’s much better going forward than he is going backward,” Mayock told Philly.com’s Paul Domowitch. “His size would dictate he’s got to be a linebacker, but I don’t think his physical skill-set dictates that, and therein lies the rub.”

With the NFL scouting combine less than two weeks away, each team will have its opportunity to interview Sam with this historic news out in the public. Sam’s performance at the combine could go a long way in defining his draft value, which was murky even before his announcement — given his size and speed, there are questions about whether he’ll have a true NFL position. A strong showing at the combine, along with impressive interviews with NFL teams, should solidify his place as a mid-round pick, particularly given the outcry of public support from various owners and executives today.

We’ll have to wait until May to know definitively what sort of effect Sunday’s announcement will have on Sam’s draft stock. But if the Missouri alum has shown anything to us this far, it’s that he’s mature beyond his 24 years and ready for whatever life has to throw at him next.