NFL AM: Broncos Rally To Hold Onto First Place


Broncos Rally To Top Bengals

In a game which featured a pair of backup quarterbacks, the Denver Broncos outlasted the Cincinnati Bengals, 20-17 in overtime.

Denver’s Brock Osweiler proved to be the better signal caller, as he completed 27 of 39 throws, for 299 yards with a touchdown and no turnovers.

Meanwhile, Cincy’s A.J. McCarron was completely ineffective in the second half, as he was only able to direct his team to three points after halftime.  The former Alabama Heisman Trophy finalist made the game’s final mistake as he was unable to handle a shotgun snap in overtime, which ended the game.

“It was my fault. I told the team that,” McCarron said. “I looked up to see the coverage, and the snap caught me by surprise.”

Making matters worse for Cincinnati, McCarron injured his thumb on the play and will have an MRI today.

Both the Bengals and Broncos defenses are among the best in the NFL, and moving the football on either is a tall task for even the most experienced of quarterbacks.  Unfortunately, with the playoffs approaching, these are the types of defenses that both Osweiler and McCarron will have to face, and neither looks to be up to the task.

To put it simply, both the Broncos and Bengals are wasting legitimately great rosters on subpar quarterback play.

Weddle Fined, Placed On IR

San Diego Chargers All-Pro safety Eric Weddle has had his run-ins with the team that currently employs him, but it appears that this latest episode may have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Weddle was fined $10,000 by the organization for an “incident” in which he stayed out during halftime to watch his daughter dance as part of the halftime show.

Apparently Weddle never asked for permission to watch his daughter perform.

“We have a policy here,” Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said. “And a situation took place two weeks ago in our stadium. So yes, we did fine him.”

To make matters worse, the team informed his agent, David Canter, that he wouldn’t be traveling to Denver for the season finale, instead being placed on IR with a groin injury.

“If you do bad things to good people, you deserve to have your dirty laundry aired in the limelight,” Canter told The Associated Press. “Eric’s done nothing but give nine years to the Chargers organization — his heart, his soul, his body.”

Weddle finishes his season as the team’s leading tackler in the secondary with 75 stops to go along with nine passes defensed.

The All-Pro safety will hit free agency this March, and the way that the season has ended with San Diego all but guarantees that he won’t be back with the Chargers, wherever they end up playing.  In a league more dependent on safety play than ever, Weddle will be a hot commodity.

A team that will be interested in his services is Jacksonville, who had exploratory talks with Canter prior to Weddle’s last free agent deal.  The Jaguars have the worst set of safeties in the NFL and plenty of cap space to sure up the back end of a leaky defense.

Regretful Ryan

This isn’t the first time, and it likely won’t be the last time that Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan’s mouth has written a check that his team had insufficient funds to cover.

Prior to the beginning of the season, Ryan promised Bills fans that his team would be in the playoffs.  The team has not only not qualified for the postseason, but they will take a step back from last season’s 9-7 record under Doug Marrone.

“I think we got a great thing going here. We just didn’t produce the wins I thought we would,” Ryan told WGR 550 radio in Buffalo. “The thing that kind of gives this team a black eye when we’re looking at it is that I let my mouth get ahead of everything. And I think if I would have come in there and just said, ‘Hey, we’re gonna compete,’ and do all that stuff, maybe we wouldn’t have such a bad feeling about this team.

“This team doesn’t deserve that. This team has fought, and they’ve played extremely hard. We’ve had a lot of things happen this year where we’ve felt, where we’ve came up short. There’s no question about it. But I think I could have handled it differently.”

Buffalo currently has the longest playoff drought in pro sports, currently at 16 years and counting, but it’s difficult to blame all of that on Ryan.  Rex was smart enough to lure quarterback Tyrod Taylor to the Bills and then start him over veteran Matt Cassel and former first-round pick E.J. Manuel.

Taylor was clearly the best man for the job and he had a solid first year of starting.  In parts of 13 games, the former Virginia Tech signal caller completed 63.6 percent of his throws, for 2,853 yards with 20 passing touchdowns and just six interceptions.  His 100.7 quarterback rating is stellar and he also added 517 yards rushing with three more touchdowns.

“I will say this: I’m proud of the guys. I think our guys have played hard. We haven’t — we made enough mistakes to be where we’re at,” Ryan said. “We didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs because you got to earn that. We didn’t earn that this year. But we’re gonna work extremely hard — I’m gonna promise you that — and give it everything we have.”

Ryan’s defensive schemes don’t seem to fit the current Buffalo personnel, but changes will be made for a more seamless transition.

To put it simply: Rex talked the talk, his team didn’t walk the walk, but they will be okay moving forward.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.