Coach Mike Smith was fired by the Atlanta Falcons, the team announced Monday morning.
"Smitty's contributions to our club, team and city over the last seven years are numerous," owner Arthur Blank said in a release. "His accomplishments on the field made him the most successful coach in the 49-year history of the Falcons, and we are grateful for the foundation he has laid for us for the future."
Smith's firing did not come as a surprise, as multiple media outlets have reported on Blank's frustration with the Falcons' shortcomings over the last two seasons. Smith finished with a 1-4 postseason record despite going 66-46 in the regular season. The Falcons reached the playoffs four times in Smith's seven seasons with the team.
The writing has been on the wall for a long time, and now it's reality: the Jets have fired Rex Ryan. Second-year general manager John Idzik was also let go.
The pair was informed of their fate early Monday morning, the team announced.
The popular head coach brought the Jets out of relative obscurity in the world's biggest market back in 2009. He led New York to the AFC title game twice in his first two seasons and even scored a book deal and contract extension. But he never reached the playoffs again.
The defensive-minded coach's time was marred by inconsistent quarterback play, a knock on his resume that he was never able to overcome despite going through several different coordinators. The team drafted two quarterbacks in the first or second round -- Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith -- neither of whom could buoy an offense strong enough to complement Ryan's dominant defenses. Ryan leaves the Jets with a 46-50 record.
Jets owner Woody Johnson issued a statement following the news.
"Both Rex and John made significant contributions to the team, and they have my appreciation and gratitude for their efforts and commitment. Over the years, Rex brought the Jets a bold confidence and a couple of great post-season runs, which all of us will remember. I am beginning our search for new football leadership, effective immediately, with guidance and support from respected football experts, including Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf, two Super Bowl winners with decades of valuable experience."
As NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport noted on Sunday, Johnson is searching for a candidate with more of a personnel background. As Rapoport also noted, Ryan will search for another head coaching opportunity. Potential openings in Chicago, Oakland and Atlanta would certainly be appealing. If not, Ryan will go into television -- he retained a media agent in the event that he would move in front of the camera.
The Steelers received a major scare on the way to winning their first AFC North title since 2010.
Coach Mike Tomlin said after the Steelers finished 11-5 and secured the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs that Bell hyperextended his knee and did not appear to suffer a serious injury. Bell was one of the last people out of the Steelers locker room, and he had his right knee wrapped in ice and walked slowly to a cart that took him to the players' parking lot at Heinz Field.
"We'll gather more significant information as we proceed through the week," Tomlin said. "We're thankful that it's not anything major."
It's still way too early, but Bell is no sure thing to play in the Wild Card game at home against Baltimore. Bell did not have a brace on his injured knee or walk with the aid of crutches and overall the injury isn't considered serious. Backup Josh Harris carried five times for just seven yards.
Bengals A.J. Green has entered the league's concussion protocol, per ESPN's Coley Harvey and Paul Dehner of The Cincinnati Enquirer, after sustaining a blow to the head from Steelers safety Mike Mitchell late in the fourth quarter of the Bengals' 27-17 loss.
The hit came less than a second after Green hauled in a 17-yard pass and was wrestled down toward the ground by Antwon Blake, forcing a fumble. The result was a pivotal recovery by the Steelers, ending the Bengals' drive.
The blow to the head prematurely ended Green's night, in which the receiver caught six passes for 67 yards over his final two drives after a sluggish start. His status for Sunday's Wild Card game against the Indianapolis Colts is in jeopardy, depending upon his progression during the week. Mohamed Sanu would move back to the WR1 role but he had just one catch for 16 yards in Week 17. Giovani Bernard had a 7-56-1 receiving line in Week 17 and will likely continue to be a major factor in the passing game while Jeremy Hill gets the carries.
Wallace was seen on the sidelines by himself in the second half. This turn of events put a question mark on whether he'll be with the Dolphins in 2015. Wallace finished 2014 with 67 catches for 862 yards and 10 TDs.
After months of speculation, the Jim Harbaugh era in San Francisco is over.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday night that Harbaugh and the 49ers are parting ways, according to a source involved in the situation.
The 49ers quickly released a statement confirming the news:
"Jim and I have come to the conclusion that it is in our mutual best interest to move in different directions," team CEO Jed York said. "We thank Jim for bringing a tremendous competitive nature and a great passion for the game to the 49ers. He and his staff restored a winning culture that has been the standard for our franchise throughout its history. Their commitment and hard work resulted in a period of success that should be looked back on proudly by our organization and our fans. We wish Jim and his family all the best."
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Sanders is good to go for an important game.
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