Fisher benches Foles for a No. 3 QB, Case Keenum
When the St. Louis Rams traded for Nick Foles and promptly signed him to a 2-year, $24 million contract extension, the assumption was he would be their starting quarterback for, well, at least two years. So it was quite surprising when coach Jeff Fisher this week replaced Foles with Case Keenum, who was signed as a free agent late last season by the Houston Texans when their top three QBs (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, Tom Savage) all were injured. After being released, for the second time, by the Texans, Keenum began this season as No. 3 on the Rams’ depth chart but moved up with the trade of No. 2 Austin Davis to the Cleveland Browns. Keenum, 27, is undersized at 6-1 and has an underpowered arm. Yet Fisher insisted this move does not mean he’s giving up on Foles, who is simply in need of rest. “By no means do we regret the trade; by no means do we regret the extension,” Fisher insisted, against all logic.
Stubborn blitz strategy costs Rob Ryan his job
During Sunday’s 47-14 loss at Washington, New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was caught by TV cameras arguing with head coach Sean Payton. It was hardly surprising that the next day Ryan was fired. The Saints’ defense is the worst in the NFL, allowing 31.5 points per game. The Saints gave up 518 yards to Washington in Ryan’s final game. Steve Beuerlein, former NFL quarterback, said on CBS Sports’ Monday QB that Ryan “is so stubborn, like his dad (Buddy Ryan), calling the same blitzes again and again.” Rob Ryan apparently has not learned, as his brother Rex Ryan has, to mix in some full-coverage schemes to keep the offense off balance. Ryan is succeeded by Dennis Allen, who was the Oakland Raiders’ head coach before being fired midway through the 2014 season.
Browns name Manziel starter for remainder of season
The Johnny Football Era has officially begun in Cleveland. Head coach Mike Pettine announced Tuesday that Johnny Manziel will quarterback the Browns “for the rest of the season.” Pettine decided to replace the veteran Josh McCown with second-year pro Manziel, who threw for 372 yards in Sunday’s 30-9 loss in Pittsburgh. Even though most of Manziel’s production came after the outcome was no longer in doubt, Pettine said “he showed significant progress. He was loose; he was into it.” Meanwhile, the NFL decided not to punish Manziel for an October 12 incident in which he was suspected of physically abusing his girlfriend Colleen Crowley. The league said there was “insufficient reason to take disciplinary action.” In an effort to spin a better public image of herself and her often misbehaving boyfriend, Crowley has posted an Instagram photo of Manziel in the passenger’s seat holding a puppy.
Aggies sue Seahawks and Colts over 12th Man copyright
The term “12th man” is universally used to describe fan support at football games. But the Texas A&M Aggies claim to be the inventors of the concept, and they’re very protective of it. To the point of suing the Seattle Seahawks and, more recently, the Indianapolis Colts, for appropriating the term. In a lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Houston, the university moved to protect the phrase “Home of the 12th Man” and variations on it. The suit claims the Colts use the plea “Join the 12th Man” in solicitations and in promoting merchandise. The university sued the Seahawks in 2006 on similar grounds and eventually reached a settlement to allow the NFL team limited use of the trademarked phrase.
Baylor’s 410-pound tight end scores his third TD
The Chicago Bears won the 1985 NFL championship featuring a huge defensive tackle known as Refrigerator Perry. The 2015 Baylor Bears have a tight end who makes the 340-pound Fridge look like a styrofoam ice chest. LaQuon McGowan weighs 410 pounds. But he’s more than a freak show. He has soft hands, and he proved how effective he can be with a one-handed catch of a 5-yard pass for a touchdown Saturday night against Oklahoma. On a team with a spread offense that rarely includes a tight end, McGowan has three career receptions, all touchdowns.
Bilas: Ben Simmons is best basketballer since LeBron
LSU freshman Ben Simmons is, according to ESPN basketball guru Jay Bilas, “the best overall talent I’ve seen since LeBron James.” Bilas pointed out that Simmons at 6-9, 225 pounds “can play every position. “ But he said the Australian “is not as good as LeBron, not as good a shooter.”