Week 17 was full of excitement, as all 32 teams went to battle with 16 games played on Sunday. Not only were dramatic playoff berths captured on the last day of the season, but the NFL kept intrigue rolling off the field with multiple coaches fired before the Vikings and Packers wrapped up their Sunday night matchup. Now that the regular season is complete, the NFL playoff field is set and the world will turn its eyes toward 12 teams in pursuit of victory in Super Bowl 50. Before we dig into playoff matchups and have visions of Super Bowl matchups, let’s recap a few highlights from a busy Sunday around the NFL in Monday’s Daily Dose.
NFL teams wasted no time cleaning house on Sunday, as Cleveland coach Mike Pettine and San Francisco coach Jim Tomsula were fired. Tomsula went 5-11 in his first season as an NFL head coach, and was thrown in the middle of the dysfunctional fire in San Francisco that included a messy quarterback controversy. Tomsula has spent most of his coaching career in charge of defensive lines, so perhaps he will surface somewhere soon in that capacity. This firing was followed up by a classic Jim Harbaugh tweet of, “Do not be deceived. You will reap what you sow,” as the 49ers meltdown continues.
Cleveland moved on from both GM Ray Farmer and coach Mike Pettine on Sunday, after the Browns wrapped up a 3-13 season. Cleveland’s three wins came against Tennessee, Baltimore, and San Francisco, who combined for a 13-35 record. Cleveland hasn’t had a coach last longer than two seasons since Romeo Crennel from 2005-2008, and the organization does not look remotely appetizing to potential candidates at this point. The interview process for this position should be interesting.
Pettine and Tomsula’s firings come on the heels of Chip Kelly being let go in Philadelphia, with current vacancies already present in Tennessee and Miami. More coaching positions could open up in coming days as well, as the league waits for news on New Orleans’ Sean Payton, Indianapolis’ Chuck Pagano, and the New York Giants’ Tom Coughlin. NFL front offices will be awfully busy in coming weeks as they attempt to fill these vacancies as soon as possible.
Johnny Hits The Strip
SI’s Peter King reported that Johnny Manziel failed to report to the Browns on Sunday morning to be checked out by the team doctor due to his concussion issues. Of course, this comes directly after Manziel was seen in Las Vegas on Saturday night, which does not paint a rosy picture of Johnny Football’s standing with the Cleveland organization. King also reported that the Browns are “done” with Manziel, so the new Cleveland GM and head coach will inherit a disastrous quarterback situation upon being hired. Manziel will likely move on to another team this offseason, with Dallas being a popular speculative destination. With promising athleticism and suspect pocket skills, the book on Manziel is the same now as it was when he was drafted, as coaching and off-the-field decisions have limited Manziel’s ability to get steady playing time during his first two seasons. Hopefully the young quarterback will get a better chance in a new location.
Peyton Manning was active for the first time since Week 10 on Sunday and he did not disappoint, as three Brock Osweiler turnovers led to Manning coming into the game and leading the Broncos to victory. Osweiler hit Demaryius Thomas with a 72-yard touchdown strike in the opening moments of the game, but his performance steadily went downhill after that point, prompting coach Gary Kubiak to call for the services of old number 18. Manning completed five of nine pass attempts for 69 yards and facilitated the Denver running game that torched San Diego for 210 yards on Sunday. Denver snagged the top seed in the AFC due to the win and a New England loss, so Manning will have a week off before presumably starting for the Broncos at home in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Giants running back Rashad Jennings led the NFL in rushing in week 17, with a huge effort of 170 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. Jennings ended the season on a four-game heater as the Giants coaching staff finally pulled the plug on their absurd four-man running back rotation and gave the ball to Jennings consistently. In Weeks 14-17, Jennings handled 72.5 percent of the running back rushing attempts for the Giants, and averaged 108 rushing yards per game while scoring twice. This is the type of production the Giants envisioned when signing Jennings to a four-year contract prior to the 2014 season, and hopefully we see this type of consistent workload for Jennings in 2016.
A pair of rookie wide receivers went off on Sunday, as Miami’s DeVante Parker and Carolina’s Devin Funchess turned in big games. Parker caught five passes for a 106 yards and a touchdown in the best game of his young career and has showed the skills to be a monster among NFL wide receivers in the very near future if the offensive woes of the Miami Dolphins get straightened out with a new coaching staff. Devin Funchess caught seven passes for 120 yards, both career-highs, and added a touchdown in easily the top performance of his rookie season. Funchess benefitted from the absence of Ted Ginn (knee) on Sunday, and has been most productive this year when given extra reps with either Ginn or Corey Brown dealing with injuries. The receiving group in Carolina is looking promising after years of turmoil, with the return of Kelvin Benjamin expected next season as well.
Injury Quick Slants
DeAngelo Williams (ankle) tallied 21 total yards on seven touches on Sunday before going down with an ankle injury and leaving the game. Williams was seen in a walking boot after the game, so this will be a key situation to watch before the weekend. Fitzgerald Toussaint was ineffective with 24 yards on 12 carries after Williams’ departure. … Adrian Peterson (back) missed parts of Minnesota’s Sunday night win with a back injury, but did return to the game. Peterson finished with 68 total yards on the night and is expected to be ready for a Wild Card Round game against Seattle on Sunday. … Karlos Williams (knee) suffered a knee injury in the first half of Buffalo’s Week 17 win after totaling 27 yards and a score on nine touches. No severity news was released, and Mike Gillislee had a tough time after Williams departed, running for 28 yards on 24 carries. … Mike Evans was ejected on Sunday after arguing with officials. Evans had a turbulent season full of drops and penalties, but did top 1,200 receiving yards and will be a quality fantasy option in 2016. … Todd Gurley (toe) apparently had a “mild” case of turf toe, which was the reason for his inactive status on Sunday. Tre Mason started in place of Gurley but did little outside of a touchdown run, notching 44 yards on 18 attempts. … DeSean Jackson (knee) was active on Sunday but did not play, as Washington elected to rest their receiver with a playoff spot locked-up. Most of Washington’s skill players were relieved during this game after Kirk Cousins built a large lead over Dallas. … Donte Moncrief (toe) had trouble with his toe injury on Sunday and caught just one pass for -2 yards before leaving the game. Moncrief will have the offseason to heal up and will be undervalued in 2016 fantasy drafts. … Zach Mettenberger (forearm) had a “forearm injury,” but was likely benched on Sunday after a terrible performance at Indianapolis. Mettenberger was relieved by none other than Alex Tanney. … Nate Washington (hip) caught one of three targets before leaving Sunday’s game with a hip injury, missing an opportunity to produce with Cecil Shorts (hamstring) out.