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Volume 22, #287 -- Friday Night, January 29th, 2021
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Howdy Folks,

Get some rest this weekend as I hear there's a big game next week...

We've got some News and Notes for you so let's go.

J

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1. PHI - New coach in QB evaluation mode

Source: MMQB - Albert Breer

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said Friday, Jan. 29 in his introductory news conference that he's in quarterback evaluation mode with QBs Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts. 'Naming a starter, that hasn't even crossed my mind,' Sirianni said.

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Maybe the Eagles brass that supported Wentz really will give Sirianni the final say on the starter, but we'd still bet on Wentz starting Week 1.

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2. HOU - GM committed to QB Deshaun Watson

Source: Around The NFL

Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio said Friday, Jan. 29, that he is committed to retaining QB Deshaun Watson, who has expressed his desire to be traded. 'Organizationally, we want to reiterate our commitment to Deshaun Watson,' Caserio said. 'We have zero interest in trading the player.'

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"The player" is verbiage from the Patriots way, which is supposed to indicate a lack of emotional attachment in personnel decisions. In this particular case, a personal touch might have been in order. This is still very much an open-ended situation.

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3. PHI - Philadelphia could move on from TE Zach Ertz

Source: PhillyVoice.com - Jimmy Kempski

Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz is unlikely to be back with the team in 2021, in the opinion of PhillyVoice.com's Jimmy Kempski, who notes that the Eagles would gain a little over $4.7 million in cap space by releasing Ertz. He also writes that the team will likely attempt to trade Ertz initially, but they have no leverage and he expects other clubs to simply wait for the Eagles to release Ertz.

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Dallas Goedert should have a big opportunity to jump into the top five fantasy tight ends. We'll see if Ertz lands in a primary role somewhere else, his dynasty value is dwindling.

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4. HOU - Houston hopes to convince QB Deshaun Watson to stay

Source: Houston Chronicle - John McClain

Houston Texans head coach David Culley is expected to appeal to QB Deshaun Watson to remain with the team once his staff is filled out, according to the Houston Chronicle's John McClain, who writes that the team has 'no interest' in trading Watson.

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This may come down to whether Watson is willing to sit out to make his way out of Houston. The Texans may also be playing this one way publicly to pacify fans while they talk their way through a tough position privately.

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5. KC - Willie Gay's season over

Source: NFL Network - Ian Rapoport

Kansas City Chiefs LB Willie Gay (knee) underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee Friday, Jan. 29, and he'll be out four months.

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The 2020 second round pick projects as a playmaker in a defense that plays from ahead, but he won't have a role in the Super Bowl.

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6. TEN - Shane Bowen promoted to DC

Source: NFL Network - Ian Rapoport

Tennessee Titans outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen on Friday, Jan. 29, was promoted to defensive coordinator.

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The team didn't have a defensive coordinator in 2020. Bowen handled some of the duties of the position and should make a seamless transition. The Titans promoted from within to fill both open coordinator positions, although the offense greatly outperformed the defense this season.

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7. GB - Mike Pettine will not return

Source: NFL Network - Tom Pelissero

Updating a previous report, Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's contract will not be renewed for the 2021 season, according to a source.

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Pettine's defense was exposed in the playoffs against the pass, most notably on a terrible man coverage call on Scotty Miller's touchdown right before the half. The Packers will go back to the drawing board on defense yet again.

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8. DET - QB Mark Brunell hired by DET

Source: DetroitLions.com

Former QB Mark Brunell was hired by the Detroit Lions as quarterbacks coach Friday, Jan. 29.

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Now the question will be who is he going to work with? The Lions have Matthew Stafford on the market and will likely look for a bridge quarterback to a rookie that they take this year at #7 (or higher) or possibly in 2022.

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9. TEN - Todd Downing likely to be OC

Source: NFL Network - Ian Rapoport

Tennessee Titans tight ends coach Todd Downing is expected to be promoted to offensive coordinator, according to a source.

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Downing was the Raiders offensive coordinator in 2017 and has experience as a quarterback coach too. Don't expect a lot of change in the Titans offense in 2021.

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10. ATL - Kyle Smith joins front office

Source: NFL Network - Ian Rapoport

Kyle Smith (Football Team) on Friday, Jan. 29, was hired as the Atlanta Falcons' vice president of player personnel.

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Smith was considered a possible GM candidate for Washington and he was in a collaborative position with Ron Rivera last year, but they chose to hire Martin Mayhew to fill the open GM spot instead. Smith will work under new GM Terry Fontenot in Atlanta.

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11. BAL - TE Nick Boyle lands extension

Source: BaltimoreRavens.com

Baltimore Ravens TE Nick Boyle on Friday, Jan. 29, agreed to a two-year contract extension with the team that will run through the 2023 season.

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Boyle is a key piece of the Ravens running game and his return will make a difference after his 2020 ended in Week 10 with a knee injury.

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12. ATL - Atlanta hiring Desmond Kitchings

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Atlanta Falcons are hiring Desmond Kitchings as their running backs coach, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter. Kitchings served as running backs coach/co-offensive coordinator for North Carolina State last season.

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The Falcons will likely be rebuilding their backfield after the signing of Todd Gurley fizzled out and 2019 fifth-round pick Qadree Ollison has amounted to nothing. Kitchings should have input into their decisions at the position in free agency and the draft.

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13. TB - Tampa Bay's Friday practice report

Source: Buccaneers.com

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown (knee) and S Jordan Whitehead (shoulder, knee) did not practice all week and are listed as doubtful for Super Bowl LV versus the Kansas City Chiefs. LB Lavonte David (hamstring) and S Antoine Winfield Jr. (ankle) also did not practice all week but are listed as questionable. LB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) did not practice all week, while DL Steve McLendon (non-injury) did not practice Friday, Jan. 29; both players no longer appear on the injury report. WR Mike Evans (knee) and DL Vita Vea (ankle) were limited in practice all week and have also been removed from the injury report. WR Chris Godwin (elbow) practiced in full all week and was taken off the injury report as well.

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The Bucs won't miss Brown as Scotty Miller adds more of a vertical element as the #3 receiver anyway. Whitehead will be missed as he forced two fumbles in the NFC title game and David and Winfield are obviously crucial to the defense. Neither team is close to 100% heading into the big game.

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14. IND - Press Taylor finds new home with Indy

Source: MMQB - Albert Breer

Former Philadelphia Eagles passing game coordinator Press Taylor is expected to join the Indianapolis Colts' coaching staff in an undisclosed capacity in the coming days, according to multiple sources.

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The Eagles and Colts coaching staffs have connections going in multiple directions now. Taylor worked under Colts head coach Frank Reich previously when they were both in Philadelphia, so he should acclimate well under new offensive coordinator Marcus Brady.

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15. KC - Friday's practice report for Kansas City

Source: Chiefs.com

Kansas City Chiefs OT Eric Fisher (Achilles) did not practice during the bye week and has been ruled out for the Super Bowl LV against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. LB Willie Gay (ankle) did not practice Friday, Jan. 29, and has also been ruled out. RB Le'Veon Bell (knee) and WR Sammy Watkins (calf) also did not practice Friday and are listed as questionable. CB L'Jarius Sneed (concussion) was limited in practice all week and is listed as questionable. CB Rashad Fenton (foot) was upgraded to a full practice Friday and is also listed as questionable. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle, hip), OL Mike Remmers (groin), OL Andrew Wylie (ankle) and QB Patrick Mahomes (toe) practiced in full Friday and no longer appear on the injury report.

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The Chiefs offensive line in shambles, but Patrick Mahomes should be able to handle it and the team is getting healthier at running back. Todd Bowles will be hatching ways to expose the lack of experience and ability on the ragtag Chiefs line next Sunday.

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16. SF - Cory Undlin joins San Fran coaching staff

Source: ESPN.com - Field Yates

Former Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Cory Undlin was hired as the passing game specialist/secondary coach for the San Francisco 49ers on Friday, Jan. 29.

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Undlin had come off of a stint with the Eagles before the Lions hired him last year. He'll be working under first time defensive coordinator and former Texans great DeMeco Ryans in San Francisco.

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17. HOU - Houston turns to Lovie Smith to run defense

Source: NFL Network - Ian Rapoport

Former Chicago Bears and University of Illinois head coach Lovie Smith was named as the new defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans on Friday, Jan. 29.

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Smith rose up the ranks as a Tampa two specialist, so the Texans might be looking at their current personnel through the lens of that scheme. Smith will need to add wrinkles or the current crop of NFL offenses will likely have a lot of success against his defense - although that was basically the state of the Texans defense in 2020 anyway.

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18. LVR - Vegas makes it official with four assistants

Source: Raiders.com

Defensive backs coach Ron Milus, linebackers coach Richard Smith, assistant defensive backs coach Addison Lynch and defensive quality control coach Ryan Milus - all assistants with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2020 - were officially hired to fill the same roles with the Las Vegas Raiders on Friday, Jan. 29.

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Gus Bradley is bringing some familiar faces with him to upgrade the Raiders defense.

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19. LAR - QB Matthew Stafford, LA Rams have mutual interest

Source: ESPN.com - Jeremy Fowler

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford reportedly considers the Los Angeles Rams 'a viable contender in his trade market,' according to multiple sources. The Rams have also reportedly 'explored the possibilities' with Stafford despite not knowing what they can do with Jared Goff's long-term contract on the books.

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The Lions are in a position as a rebuilding team to take on Goff's onerous contract, possibly in exchange for additional draft capital. The Rams desire to make a change at quarterback the offseason seems to almost be as strong as Deshaun Watson's desire to change teams.

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That'll do it for today, Folks. Thanks for reading and thanks for being part of the Footballguys Family. We'll see you tomorrow with the Update.

Peace,

J