End Around: Cheers to Doug's guile; nonagenarian fire


Welcome to the Around The NFL End Around, a weekly look back at the world of the National Football League. Dan Hanzus serves as your guide.

It was a good week for ...

1. Doug Marrone: Marrone bailed on the Bills, lake-effect blizzards and EJ Manuel in one fell swoop. The silver lining for the Bills is he had to pay Buffalo $4 million for his freedom. Wait ... it was the other way around???

2. J.J. Watt: The Texans behemoth was voted first-team All-Pro as a defensive end and second-team All-Pro as a defensive tackle. That's more impressive than his fast-approaching MVP upset.

3. Jim Harbaugh: Plenty of people daydream about the chance to go back to college life. Harbaugh gets to do that and somebody paid him $35 million to do so. He's definitely paying for the ice luge.

It was a bad week for ...

1. Johnny Manziel: Why does it feel like Manziel's rookie season is just the first act of a really depressing 30 for 30 episode?

2. Marc Trestman/Mike Smith/Rex Ryan: Getting fired sucks. If I'm Smith and I'm looking for another gig, I'm destroying any evidence that I wore Teva sandals on Hard Knocks.

3. Buffalo Bills: Marrone bolts, then Bill Polian says "No thanks" over two days. Even Kyle Orton decided he'd rather do whatever it is that Kyle Orton does instead of play quarterback in Orchard Park. (That's probably playing video games.)

The Bears have done messed up

There was plenty of entertainment to be found during this week's end-of-season press conferences, from the legit heat toward front-office figures in San Francisco and Washington to Woody Johnson's unexpected love letter to Darrelle Revis (more on that later).

But the best moment came in Chicago, where Bears chairman George McCaskey went into brutal-honesty mode to describe the mindset of his mother, 91-year-old franchise matriarch Virginia McCaskey.

"She's been very supportive. She agrees with the decisions that we've made. (Four-second pause) She's pissed off. I can't think of a 91-year-old woman that that description would apply, but in this case, I can't think of a more accurate description."

I love how after McCaskey drops the "She's pissed off" hammer, Bears president Ted Phillips looks up while clearly thinking to himself, "Wow, I guess this is the road we're going down."

To quote the great Marc Sessler: "The Chicago Bears have agitated the wrong nonagenarian."

What The What?

You probably missed it while you were watching games with actual playoff implications, but here's what Jets quarterback Geno Smith did on Sunday against the Dolphins: 20-for-25 passing, 358 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions. That equates to a perfect 158.3 passer rating, making Smith the only quarterback in the NFL this season to achieve that feat.

This is the same Geno Smith who did this in one quarter of destruction against the Bills two months earlier ...

So who is the real Geno Smith? He's certainly not as good as the rich-man's Aaron Rodgers on display in Miami and he's not nearly as bad as the poor-man's Tyler Palko who flamed out against Buffalo. He's somewhere in the very large middle area, and the new Jets regime needs to decide if that's good enough to invest another year in his development.

History tells us the Jets will get it wrong. But maybe this is the front office that gets it right.

"Hey Terry, can you step into my office a second?"

I don't know who's responsible for the front-page photo layout over at the Detroit Free-Press, but that person had a very bad Monday morning. At least the Freep had a sense of humor about it.

Hey hey hey hey, what is going on here?

Dustin Diamond, who peaked as Samuel "Screech" Powers on Saved By The Bell, was arrested last weekend for allegedly stabbing a guy with a switchblade during a confrontation at a Wisconsin bar. Diamond's lawyer, Thomas Alberti, said Diamond was "not happy he missed the Packers game" while in jail after his arrest.

Screech was the worst. There was no reason for Zack, Slater, Kelly, Jessie and Lisa (especially Lisa) to spend any time with him. He was book-smart but life-stupid, he constantly said inappropriate things and he had a poor sense of humor. The only reason he even won that one dance contest was because Lisa suffered ligament damage in her ankle and all the robots at The Max took pity on her (probably because she was stuck with Screech).

His inclusion in the most popular clique at Bayside could have been seen as a positive message to teens against conformism, but it really just served as a weekly plot hole big enough for Tony Sparano to drop all the footballs into.

I have no idea how Dustin Diamond came to reside in Wisconsin or for how long he's been an (apparently massive) Cheesehead, but let's just agree this is a strike against the Packers franchise.

While we're here ...

So long, sweet Kyle

"Sometimes it makes me sad, though... Kyle being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend."

Quote of the Week, Part I

"It's about actions, it's about being accountable and doing what I'm going to say instead of looking like a jackass."

-- Johnny Manziel

It's weird, but when I see and read about all these Manziel misadventures during a dumpster fire rookie year, I can't help but think about him. I wonder if he still believes in Manziel. Has he given up? Maybe he's back in the tavern, his butt crack hanging out just a touch, and he's talking up Connor Shaw and telling anybody that will listen that this is the year the Cleveland Browns make something of their two first-round picks.

Yeah, I think about him.

Quote of the Week, Part II

"I would think that the league would look into those comments ... I'm sure that's something that they would look into."

-- Bill Belichick, subtly twisting the knife after Jets owner Woody Johnson mistakenly told reporters he'd like Darrelle Revis to return to the Jets. That's tamper-y, you know.

Mike Wallace is a great teammate

Just a reminder that the above circus show -- featuring a non-speaking role by the team's highest-paid player -- came exactly seven days after Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said Joe Philbin would return for a third season.

Does this look like a team that has any respect for the head coach? Vegas has taken "Joe Philbin gets fired before Halloween" off the board.

Hero of the Week: Mike Pereira

With every passing week, I gain more respect and appreciation for Pereira, the former NFL vice president of officiating and current FOX rules czar. When FOX cuts to Pereira at the "command center" on gamedays, you can always expect a strong take with cogent reasoning.

The other networks have rolled out their own versions of Pereira -- Mike Carey on CBS and Gerry Austin with ESPN -- but it's clear not everyone can adequately perform a task that requires quick thinking and concise wording. While we're here, I would absolutely watch (and potentially finance) a documentary on every CBS Mike Carey cutaway this season.

Until next time ...

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