Monday Night Football
Browns players share opinion about Brian Hoyer decision
Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman and ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler each contacted Browns players after the decision was announced, and each reported the same thing: Most players thought sticking with Hoyer was the right decision, but not all of them did. One player told Fowler, referring to Manziel: "He came in, seven plays, scored a touchdown. I was all for it."
Manziel led a quick touchdown drive at Buffalo after coming in for the ineffective Hoyer in the fourth quarter.
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Tackle Joe Thomas, the team's offensive leader, echoed coach Mike Pettine's message that the decision to go with Hoyer gives the team the best chance to win. Thomas said had Pettine gone with Manziel, "the message is you're already playing for next year," according to NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala.
Why did Pettine go with Hoyer? He said it was "difficult" after the way Manziel played against the Bills. The Browns are 7-5, in the playoff race, and the Browns know what they're getting with Hoyer. He was the safe choice.
You almost look at it like a risk-reward situation, Pettine said, according to the Browns' Web site. Theres a lot of unknown [with Manziel]. And weve known weve been very effectively offensively, at times. We are hopeful we can get back to those times when we were efficient moving the ball and eating up the clock.
Were going to get Brian playing better. He knows theres some things he needs to work on. Hes shown the ability to bounce back from things that have happened negatively in the past. Just look internally at the Atlanta game he made the mistakes he made and was able to bounce back. Were confident hell be able to do that this week.
What going with Hoyer does is set up a charged atmosphere for Sunday's home game against the Indianapolis Colts. Will Browns fans be patient if Hoyer starts slow, following his poor November? Unless Hoyer does well early, the thought that Manziel is available off the bench will be on everyone's mind: fans, coaches and players. And Hoyer too.
Hoyer said he was shocked to get benched last week, which is surprising considering his struggles and the presence of a first-round pick on the bench. Maybe last week's move and a couple days of controversy wakes him up.
No matter what decision Pettine made, he will get second-guessed if it doesn't work. The Browns have just one playoff berth since re-entering the NFL in 1999. They have a chance to get back with a strong finish, and for now, Hoyer is the man for the job. It wasn't unanimous from the players or fans, but it'll be the right move if it works.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (6-3) at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (7-2)
After ending a five-game win streak last week, the 49ers will find it difficult to get back in the win column when they visit the Saints on Sunday.
While San Francisco managed a pitiful 151 yards in a 10-9 home loss to Carolina last week, New Orleans piled up 625 yards in a 49-17 home thrashing of the Cowboys. The Niners have 36.0 PPG and 198 rushing YPG in their past three non-home games, but the Saints are 5-0 (SU and ATS) at the Superdome with 35.2 PPG and 464 total YPG. Although San Francisco is 2-6 SU (4-4 ATS) in this series since 2002, both of those wins came in 2012 -- a 36-32 playoff victory, and a 31-21 win in New Orleans. The Niners have thrived against elite teams since the start of 2011, going 8-0 ATS versus opponents with at least a 75percent win percentage. They are also 31-14 ATS (69percent) off an upset loss as a favorite since 1992. However, the Saints are an impressive 17-3 ATS (85percent) as a home favorite over the past three seasons, including 12-1 ATS (92percent) when they are giving seven points or less. Both teams could be missing starting safeties with San Francisco's Eric Reid (concussion) and New Orleans' Malcolm Jenkins (knee) and Kenny Vaccaro (concussion) all listed as questionable.
49ers QB Colin Kaepernick was awful last week, completing just 11-of-22 passes for 91 yards (4.1 YPA), 0 TD and 1 INT, while taking six sacks. He was also hurt by his star TE Vernon Davis leaving in the second quarter with a concussion. Davis has been practicing on a limited basis this week, but appears to be on track to play Sunday. Kaepernick had a strong game in last year's trip to New Orleans, completing 16-of-25 passes for 231 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT, while rushing for 27 yards and another score. WR Mario Manningham was his top receiver that day with 69 yards on five catches. Manningham missed the first eight games of the season with a knee injury, and had 30 yards on three grabs in his season debut last week. But the 49ers know that to be successful on Sunday, they have to run the ball effectively, like they have all season with 148 rushing YPG (4th in NFL) on 4.5 YPC (7th in league). Top RB Frank Gore (700 rush yards, 7 TD) has run for at least 70 yards in seven straight games, and totaled 101 yards with a touchdown in last year's win over the Saints. Defensively, the Niners rank sixth in the NFL in total defense (317 YPG), placing among the top-10 teams in the league in yards per carry allowed (3.9 YPC) and yards per pass attempt allowed (6.4 YPA). They have been outstanding on third downs (34percent, 6th in NFL), but have been horrible in the red zone (64percent, 4th-worst in league). However, this unit has created 15 turnovers in the past six games and gave Saints QB Drew Brees some trouble in last year's meeting.
In that 31-21 loss to the Niners, Brees completed 26-of-41 passes for 267 yards, 3 TD and 2 INT. But since that game, Brees has been outstanding at the Superdome, going 6-1 with 2,539 passing yards (363 YPG), 9.2 YPA, 26 TD and 3 INT. This includes last week when he completed 83percent of his passes for 392 yards, 4 TD, and 0 INT, giving him 13 TD and 0 INT in his past three home contests. The Saints entered last week ranked 26th in rushing yards (79.8 YPG) and 29th in yards per carry (3.3 YPC), but steamrolled the Cowboys for 242 yards on 38 carries (6.4 YPC) and three touchdowns. RB Mark Ingram had been struggling all year (2.4 YPC), but he busted out with 145 yards on just 14 carries. However, it will be tough to gain yards on the ground versus a strong Niners run defense that limited New Orleans to just 96 yards on 35 carries (2.7 YPC) in the two meetings in the 2012 calendar year. The Saints defense has improved greatly from last year, especially through the air, where it ranks third in the NFL with 199.9 passing YPG allowed. New Orleans gives up just 18.1 PPG (5th in league) due in large part to a 26:21 time of possession (2nd-best in NFL) as a result of a stellar 31.8percent third-down conversion rate (3rd in league). The run defense has been shredded at times this year though, allowing a league-worst 5.0 YPC and a subpar 117.7 rushing YPG (23rd in NFL). The Saints also need to force more mistakes with 0-to-1 takeaways in four of their past five games.
NFL calls hit by Bears' Jon Bostic 'spectacular'; fines him $21K anyway
NFL.com confirmed Briggs' tweet saying that Bostic was specifically fined for lowering his head on a defenseless player's body.
Now here's the weird part of the story, the NFL has a clip of Bostic's hit on the league's official website and in the caption below the clip, the hit is referred to as a 'spectacular' one. The NFL also used the word spectacular in the headline.
Of course, as soon as the fine was announced, Twitter pointed out the hypocrisy of calling a hit spectacular, but then still fining the player for said hit. At that point the NFL changed the caption and the headline faster than the NCAA store scrubbed player names from its search engine.
You can't fool Google though. Proof that the NFL used the word 'spectacular' still exists if you search 'Jon Bostic spectacular hit.'
The fine may not seem like a big one, but it probably is to Bostic, who as a rookie, is only pulling in $405,000 in base salary this season. Bostic can appeal the fine and if he does, he'll probably ask the league why they fined him in the first place if they thought his hit was so 'spectacular.'
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