The Tennessee Titans now have a coaching vacancy after firing Mike Vrabel.

Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement she spoke with Vrabel on Tuesday to inform him they would be parting ways.

The decision came two days after the Titans pulled off a surprising 28-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars that eliminated the Jags from play-off contention, but it wasn't enough to save Vrabel's job as the team finished 6-11 and in last place in the AFC South for the first time since 2015.

"Last year, we began a shift in our approach to football leadership and made several changes to our personnel to advance that plan," Strunk said. "As I continued to assess the state of our team, I arrived at the conclusion that the team would also benefit from the fresh approach and perspective of a new coaching staff.

Vrabel was hired by Tennessee in January 2018, and led the Titans to a pair of AFC South titles and an appearance in the 2019 AFC conference title game. He was named the 2021 AP Coach of the Year after Tennessee went 12-5 and captured the AFC's top seed.

The following season, the Titans again looked like they would be one of the conference's top contenders after starting the year 7-3, but they ended up losing their final seven games to miss the play-offs for the first time since 2018.

In six seasons as Tennessee's coach, Vrabel went 56-48, including the play-offs.

"I believe the Tennessee Titans can and will be a premier National Football League franchise. It's what our fans deserve, and there will be hard decisions along the way," Strunk said. "My decision today is not only a reflection of my disappointment in our past two seasons, but also my recognition that further changes are necessary to fully achieve our vision."

Vrabel's firing is expected to be one of several off-season changes for the Titans, with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry hitting free agency.

 

In what had been an expected move, the Washington Commanders fired coach Ron Rivera on Monday.

The decision came one day after the Commanders finished a 4-13 season with a 38-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Washington lost its final eight games of the season, and was outscored by more than 27 points in three of those defeats.

Rivera's firing wasn't a huge surprise as he failed to post a winning record in any of his four seasons as the Commanders coach, and Josh Harris will work on finding a new coach heading into his second season as the team's controlling owner.

"As we look ahead, we recognize the results this season were not good enough and a strategic shift in leadership and approach is necessary," Harris said in a statement.

Washington hasn't won a play-off game since 2005, though the team did make the post-season in Rivera's first season with the franchise, going 7-9 to win the subpar NFC East in 2020. The Commanders went 26-40-1 in Rivera's four seasons as coach.

"To deliver upon our ultimate goal of becoming an elite franchise and consistently competing for the Super Bowl, there is a lot to do, and first we must establish a strong organizational infrastructure led by the industry's best and most talented individuals," Harris said.

Hired by the franchise on New Year's Day 2020, Rivera arrived in Washington after winning two NFL Coach of the Year Awards during his nine seasons in charge of the Carolina Panthers. He led the Panthers to four play-off appearances and a berth in the Super Bowl in the 2015 season.

"Ron helped navigate this organization through some challenging times," Harris said. "He is a good man and a thoughtful leader who has positively contributed to this organization and the NFL."

Harris will be working with co-owners Mitch Rales, Magic Johnson and David Blitzer as well as former NBA executive Bob Myers and ex-Minnesota GM Rick Spielman in the coaching search.

 

The Atlanta Falcons announced they have fired head coach Arthur Smith after three seasons of missing the playoffs and delivering middling results.

Owner Arthur Blank disclosed the decision in a statement released hours after the Falcons ended their 2023 campaign with Sunday's 48-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Smith went 7-10 in each of his three seasons after being hired in 2021. The 41-year-old previously served 10 seasons as an assistant with the Tennessee Titans, including the last two as that team's offensive coordinator.

The Falcons said they will conduct a search for a new head coach immediately, with Blank and team CEO Rich McKay to lead the operation.

“Decisions like this are never easy and they never feel good,” said Blank in a statement. “We have profound respect for Coach Smith and appreciate all the hard work and dedication he has put into the Falcons over the last three years. He has been part of building a good culture in our football team, but the results on the field have not met our expectations. After significant thought and reflection, we have determined the best way forward for our team is new leadership in the head coaching position.”

Smith came to Atlanta with a reputation as a successful play-caller during his time with the Titans, but the Falcons never finished in the top half of the NFL in total offence in any of his three seasons despite investing high draft choices on expected playmakers in tight end Kyle Pitts (2021), wide receiver Drake London (2022) and running back Bijan Robinson (2023).

Additionally, young quarterback Desmond Ridder struggled in his first season as a full-time starter in 2023 after displaying potential in a four-game stint as a rookie the previous year.

Smith did have the Falcons in position to end the franchise's five-year playoff drought, as the team owned a one-game lead atop the NFC South in early December. Atlanta lost four of its final five games, however, to finish two games back of the Saints and the eventual division champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Falcons last made the postseason in 2018 and their six consecutive seasons of missing the playoffs is tied with the Carolina Panthers for the longest active stretch in the NFC.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers showed they can still challenge in the post-Tom Brady era by clinching their third consecutive NFC South title with a 9-0 win over Carolina Panthers.

It is the fourth time in a row that they have qualified for the play-offs but the first without Brady, their superstar quarterback replaced by Baker Mayfield.

Mayfield was struggling with a rib injury but still contributed to the drives that enabled Chase McLaughlin to kick three field goals.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@buccaneers)

The Buccaneers finished the season with a 9-8 record – the same as New Orleans Saints but progress ahead of their rivals due to their higher win percentage in common games.

The Saints defeated the Atlanta Falcons 48-17 but the result in North Carolina meant their win was not enough to advance.

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ 28-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans saw the Houston Texans take the AFC South title and sent the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers into the play-offs.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Houston Texans (@houstontexans)


Devin Singletary produced the key touchdown for the Texans in the final quarter of their 23-19 victory over the Indianapolis Colts with quarterback CJ Stroud passing for 264 yards and scoring two touchdowns.

The Texans will face the Cleveland Browns in the super wild card round with the Browns losing 31-14 to the Cincinnati Bengals after fielding a large number of reserve players.

The Pittsburgh Steelers held onto their slim play-off chances, courtesy of a 17-10 win over the Baltimore Ravens.

After ending the regular season with three straight wins, the Steelers will qualify for the post season on Sunday if the Buffalo Bills lose to the Miami Dolphins or the Jacksonville Jaguars go down to the Tennessee Titans.

Pittsburgh opened the scoring at a rainy Baltimore through a six-yard run from Najee Harris near the end of the first quarter.

The AFC North champion Ravens, who rested several key players including quarterback Lamar Jackson, evened the score at 7-7 just before half-time when Tyler Huntley found Isaiah Likely in the endzone on a 27-yard reception.

Following a scoreless third quarter, Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph broke the game open with a 71-yard touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson on the first play of the fourth.

Each side kicked a field goal from there as the Steelers now play the waiting game.

The status of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence remains up in the air for the team's important regular-season finale against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

Lawrence is recovering from a sprained right shoulder he sustained in Jacksonville's 30-12 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Dec. 24. The injury caused the former No. 1 overall draft pick to miss last Sunday's win over the Carolina Panthers and has limited him in practice this week.

Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson told reporters prior to Friday's practice that Lawrence could be a game-day decision for Sunday's contest, which if Jacksonville wins would give the Jags a second straight AFC South title and a No 4 seed for the conference playoffs. 

A loss to the Titans, however, could knock Jacksonville out of the postseason depending on the outcome of other games.

"It's day by day," Pederson said of Lawrence's status. "[Friday] will be a big day for him, tomorrow [as well]. He's progressing well.

"He's been plugged in and engaged all week mentally. Now is just the physical part."

C.J. Beathard would start at quarterback if Lawrence is not medically cleared. Beathard completed 17 of 24 passes for 178 yards without a turnover in last week's 26-0 victory over Carolina.

"If he's good to go, he's good to go," Pederson said of Lawrence. "He'll try to do everything he can to protect himself, but at the same time, if he's out there, he's rolling and we'll go play."

Pederson added that the team has yet to decide whether to activate wide receiver Christian Kirk from injured reserve for Sunday's game.

Kirk, who set career and team highs with 84 receptions, 1,108 receiving yards and eight touchdown catches in 2022, has missed the last four games with a groin injury he sustained against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 4. Like Lawrence, he was a limited practice participant throughout the week.

Jacksonville enters the regular season's final weekend in a three-way tie with the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans for first place in the AFC South. The Jaguars would win any tie-breaking scenarios if the division's top two teams finish with identical records.

The Texans and Colts will meet in Indianapolis on Saturday, with the winner guaranteed at least a wild-card playoff berth.

The NFL announced the rosters for the 2024 Pro Bowl Games on Wednesday with the San Francisco 49ers' Brock Purdy and Miami Dolphins' Tua Tagovailoa named starting quarterbacks.

This is the first Pro Bowl selection for both QBs.

Purdy led all players in balloting for the NFL Pro Bowl with 451,864 votes to be named the NFC's starting quarterback.

The other quarterbacks for the NFC are the Dallas Cowboys' Dak Prescott, who was named a Pro Bowler for a third time, and the Los Angeles Rams' Matthew Stafford, who was selected as a Pro Bowler for a second time.

The AFC's other quarterbacks are the Baltimore Ravens' Lamar Jackson, who was named to his third Pro Bowl, and the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes, who made it for the sixth time.

 

Purdy's teammate in the 49ers backfield, running back Christian McCaffrey had the second-most votes with 429,993, while Tagovailoa ranked third with 414,502. Another 49er, tight end George Kittle, had the fourth-most votes (373,750) and another tight end, the Kansas City Chiefs' Travis Kelce ranked fifth among all vote-getters (327,263).

The NFC-best 49ers led all teams with nine Pro Bowlers - including eight starters. The Ravens and Cowboys each had seven selections, while the Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles had six apiece.

The Pro Bowl Games are a multi-day competition between players from the AFC and NFC culminating with a flag football game on February 4.

Mason Rudolph has helped the Pittsburgh Steelers stay in the play-off picture.

He'll get another chance to help them secure a post-season berth in Week 18.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said during his Monday press conference that Rudolph will start Saturday's season finale against the Baltimore Ravens.

Rudolph has led Pittsburgh to a 2-0 record since taking over for an ineffective Mitch Trubisky following Kenny Pickett's ankle injury.

Tomlin told reporters that Pickett's health is not a question, but Rudolph will remain the starter.

"I think Kenny's availability is less in question this week. I anticipate him being available to practice. That being said, we're going to leave the ball in Mason Rudolph's hands," Tomlin said. "He's done a good job and we've done a good job in the most recent two weeks. We've taken care of the ball, he's taken care of the ball. We've scored points at a rate in which we hadn't done to this point this year. And with the urgency of the moment and because of those reasons, we're going to leave the ball in his hands."

In his two starts, Rudolph has completed 35-of-51 passes for 564 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 118.4 passer rating. The Steelers scored 30 and 34 points in those two victories after not scoring more than 26 points in any of their first 14 games.

Pickett had just six TD passes in 12 games this season, and the team could be deciding to move on from him this offseason.

With Sunday's 30-23 road win over the Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh improved to 9-7, but it's still on the outside looking in on the play-offs.

To clinch a berth, the Steelers must win in Baltimore and have the Miami Dolphins beat the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night. They could also make the post-season by beating the Ravens, coupled with a Tennessee Titans win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

One advantage the Steelers have going for them is the Ravens have already secured the AFC's top seed, so MVP frontrunner Lamar Jackson and other Baltimore starters could be rested as they prepare for the play-offs.

 

The Green Bay Packers took control of their own playoff destiny as they beat the Minnesota Vikings 33-10.

Jordan Love threw for three touchdowns and ran for another while Aaron Jones rushed for 120 yards as the Packers moved to 8-8 and ahead of the Seattle Seahawks in the race for the final NFC wildcard spot.

Victory over the Chicago Bears in their final game of the regular season will seal a playoff berth.

The Seahawks lost 30-23 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who kept their playoff hopes alive courtesy of two touchdowns and 122 yards rushing from Najee Harris,

The Baltimore Ravens underlined their Super Bowl credentials with a crushing 56-19 victory over closest AFC conference rivals the Miami Dolphins.

The Ravens, Super Bowl winners in 2000 and 2012, secured top seeding from the AFC and will have a bye when the opening playoff matches take place.

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was in imperious form as his team scored eight touchdowns, including two for tight end Isaiah Likely.

Top seeding in the NFC was confirmed for the San Francisco 49ers – for the first time since 2019 – following a 27-10 success against the Washington Commanders, but there were also a number of close encounters during the regular season’s penultimate round.

Six field goals from Harrison Butker kicked the Kansas City Chiefs to a 25-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals as they clinched an eighth consecutive AFC West title.

But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have to wait for a third straight NFC South crown as they went down 23-13 to the New Orleans Saints.

The two teams are tied at the top of the division heading into the final week of the regular season on 8-8. The Buccaneers will take the title with a win over the Carolina Panthers..

James Conner’s touchdown with just 32 seconds remaining saw the Arizona Cardinals shock the stuttering Philadelphia Eagles 35-31 after it looked as though Jake Elliott’s 43-yard field goal would be enough for the hosts, who had led 21-6 at the start of the second half.

The Indianapolis Colts, meanwhile, pipped the Las Vegas Raiders 23-20, and Josh Allen claimed two touchdowns as the Buffalo Bills edged out the New England Patriots 27-21.

It was even closer between the New York Giants and the Los Angeles Rams, with the Rams claiming a 26-25 verdict thanks to Kyren Williams’ trio of touchdowns.

Elsewhere, the Houston Texans defeated the Tennessee Titans 26-3, the Jacksonville Jaguars were 26-0 victors over the Carolina Panthers and the Chicago Bears brushed aside the Atlanta Falcons 37-17 while the Denver Broncos edged out the Los Angeles Chargers 16-9

Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Houston now all have 9-7 records in the AFC South, while Carolina’s loss means Chicago will own the first overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft for the second successive year.

The Baltimore Ravens underlined their Super Bowl credentials with a crushing 56-19 victory over closest AFC conference rivals the Miami Dolphins.

The Ravens, Super Bowl winners in 2000 and 2012, secured top seeding from the AFC and will have a bye when the opening play-off matches take place.

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was in imperious form as his team scored eight touchdowns, including two for tight end Isaiah Likely.

Top seeding in the NFC was confirmed for the San Francisco 49ers – the first time since 2019 – following a 27-10 success against the Washington Commanders, but there were also a number of close encounters during the regular season’s penultimate round.

James Conner’s touchdown with just 32 seconds remaining saw the Arizona Cardinals shock the stuttering Philadelphia Eagles 35-31 after it looked as though Jake Elliott’s 43-yard field goal would be enough for the hosts, who had led 21-6 at the start of the second half.

The Indianapolis Colts, meanwhile, pipped the Las Vegas Raiders 23-20, and Josh Allen claimed two touchdowns as the Buffalo Bills edged out the New England Patriots 27-21.

It was even closer between the New York Giants and the Los Angeles Rams, with the Rams claiming a 26-25 verdict thanks to Kyren Williams’ trio of touchdowns.

Elsewhere, the New Orleans Saints saw off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-13 to join the NFC South leaders with 8-8 records, the Houston Texans defeated the Tennessee Titans 26-3, the Jacksonville Jaguars were 26-0 victors over the Carolina Panthers and the Chicago Bears brushed aside the Atlanta Falcons 37-17.

Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Houston now all have 9-7 records in the AFC South, while Carolina’s loss means Chicago will own the first overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft for the second successive year.

The Dallas Cowboys survived three attempts at a late two-point conversion as they held on to beat the Detroit Lions 20-19.

The NFC North champion Lions had moved within a point of the Cowboys when Jared Goff found Amon-Ra St Brown for a touchdown pass with 23 seconds remaining.

Opting for a two-point conversion, the Lions had a successful attempt ruled out for illegal touching before a Cowboys interception was wiped out for offside.

Goff’s final pass attempt was incomplete, lifting the Cowboys to 11-5 as they kept up the pressure on the Philadelphia Eagles in the fight for the NFC east title.

A Goff interception had given Brandon Aubrey the chance to kick the Cowboys seven points ahead in the final two minutes, the rookie stretching his record to 35 successful field goals to start his career.

Dak Prescott threw for 345 yards and two touchdowns for the Cowboys, including a 92-yard effort to CeeDee Lamb in the first quarter.

The Cleveland Browns clinched a place in the play-offs as they beat the New York Jets 37-20.

Joe Flacco, the injury-hit Browns fourth starting quarterback of the season, passed for 309 yards and three touchdowns as they secured at least a wildcard spot.

They could yet pip the Baltimore Ravens to the AFC North crown and even secure the top seed in the conference. It is only their second playoff berth in 21 years.

Veteran Flacco, who was released by the Jets earlier this year, found Jerome Ford for a pair of touchdowns as the Browns opened a 34-17 half-time lead.

He also found Ronnie Hickman from 30 yards but had an interception returned for a touchdown from 37 yards by Jermaine Johnson.

The second half turned into a defensive battle, with both sides only managing to register a field goal apiece.

The Minnesota Vikings are making another late-season quarterback change, as head coach Kevin O'Connell announced Thursday that rookie Jaren Hall will start Sunday's key game against the Green Bay Packers.

Hall, a fifth-round pick out of BYU in the 2023 draft, replaces Nick Mullens after the veteran threw four interceptions in Minnesota's 30-24 home loss to the Detroit Lions last week. The defeat was the Vikings' fourth in five games and dropped them a game behind the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks, the teams that presently occupy the NFC's final two playoff spots entering the season's final two weeks. 

Minnesota will be changing quarterbacks for the fourth time since starter Kirk Cousins ruptured his Achilles tendon on Oct. 29. Hall made his first career start the following week at Atlanta, but was forced out of the game in the first quarter with a concussion.

Joshua Dobbs replaced Hall against the Falcons and helped the Vikings to a 31-28 win, then started Minnesota's next four games. He and the offence struggled in an ugly 3-0 win over the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 14, however, which prompted O'Connell to turn to Mullens.

Though Mullens threw for a combined 711 yards in his two starts, he was intercepted six times and the Vikings lost both outings to fall to 7-8 on the season.

"We have to maintain possession of the football," O'Connell stated after announcing the decision. "The turnover margin has been well-talked about all season long, and I just felt like, at this time, giving Jaren a full week of preparation and a clear-cut mindset on the game plan [is the right move].

Hall has seen very limited action as a rookie, having completed 8 of 10 passes for 101 yards in two overall games. O'Connell said he's pleased by the young quarterback's progress, however, and is comfortable having Hall start in what's essentially a must-win game for the Vikings.

“He’s had a few great weeks of preparation and I’m looking forward to seeing what Jaren can do," O'Connell said.

The Vikings and Packers currently have identical 7-8 records, with the loser of Sunday's game eliminated from playoff consideration if both the Rams and Seahawks win this week.

Russell Wilson won't play again this season for the Denver Broncos.

The stunning news that Wilson will be benched was reported by NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport on Wednesday.

Jarrett Stidham will start at quarterback for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Broncos paid a hefty price to acquire Wilson last offseason, and the decision to bench the nine-time Pro Bowler is largely a financial one.

If Wilson were to suffer a significant long-term injury in the final two weeks of this season, he potentially could be owed $37million fully guaranteed if he doesn't pass a physical in early March.

 

In March of 2022, the Broncos sent multiple players and draft picks to the Seahawks in a trade for Wilson, who led Seattle to a Super Bowl championship following the 2013 season. The Broncos then signed him to a five-year extension worth more than $242million.

That deal is looking like one of the worst contracts in NFL history as Denver finished last in the AFC West last season with a 5-12 record and is on the verge of missing the play-offs for an eighth straight season.

The Broncos are coming off a devastating 26-23 loss to the lowly New England Patriots on Christmas Eve, and have now dropped three of four following a five-game winning streak. They are 7-8 and sit in 12th place in the AFC, and NFL.com gives them just a 7 per cent chance of making the play-offs.

Wilson, however, isn't responsible for all of the team's struggles this season, and has rebounded nicely after a disappointing first season in Denver.

After throwing 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and compiling a career-worst 84.4 QB rating in 2022, Wilson has 26 TDs and eight picks this year for a 98.0 rating - seventh best in the NFL.

His future with the Broncos is murky, however, as the offence has been largely mediocre, ranking 16th in scoring (21.8) and 25th in total yards (298.2).

Stidham has taken just four offensive snaps this season and has yet to attempt a pass. In 14 career games, he's thrown for 926 yards with six touchdowns and seven interceptions for a 73.5 rating.

With two games to go in the NFL season, the Washington Commanders are making a change at quarterback.

Jacoby Brissett moves into the starting role for Sunday's game against the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers.

Coach Ron Rivera announced Brissett will get the start over Sam Howell during his Wednesday press conference.

"It's a good opportunity for Sam to take a break," Rivera said. "This is about Sam's continued development, and things hadn't gone as well as we would have liked for him the last few weeks, so we just think this is a good opportunity for him to watch."

 

Howell had started the first 15 games of the season, but played poorly in each of the last two contests and was benched and replaced by Brissett in each.

Howell completed 17-of-48 passes for 158 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions in those games, while Brissett completed 18-of-23 passes for 224 yards with three TDs and no picks.

The 31-year-old Brissett is on his fifth NFL team and will be making his 49th career start. He will also become the 13th different starting QB for Washington since the start of the 2018 season.

"Jacoby's proven that he’s a very, very viable player in this league," Rivera said. "It's amazing to watch the professionalism with which Jacoby does things."

The decision to turn to Brissett could mean the Commanders aren't sold on Howell being the quarterback of the future.

Washington drafted Howell in the fifth round in 2022, and while he's 11th in the NFL in passing yards with 3,624, he also leads the league with 17 interceptions and has been sacked an NFL-high 60 times. His QB rating of 80.5 ranks 25th.

Washington has lost six straight games to drop to 4-11, and now hosts a San Francisco team that sit atop the NFC.

Page 7 of 148
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.