Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery hopes to have a new head coach in place by Jan. 19's East-West Shrine game and has a lengthy list of candidates to sort through. Emery fired Lovie Smith, in part, because of a failure over the years to develop the offense. Therefore, it's no surprise that most of the candidates on the Bears' interview list have offensive backgrounds, with over 25 percent of the NFL's current offensive coordinators on the Bears' list of candidates. The Bears have interviewed Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan and Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. Other offensive coordinators on the Bears' list include Pete Carmichael (New Orleans Saints), Tom Clements (Green Bay Packers), Rick Dennison (Houston Texans), Bruce Arians (Indianapolis Colts), Darrell Bevell (Seattle Seahawks) and Montreal Alouettes head coach and quarterback guru Marc Trestman. Special teams coordinators are also on the Bears' list, as Keith Armstrong (Atlanta Falcons), Joe DeCamillis (Dallas Cowboys), Mike Priefer (Minnesota Vikings) and current Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub are candidates for the job. One defensive coach is in the mix, as Bears Hall of Fame linebacker and former 49ers head coach and current Vikings special assistant to the head coach/linebackers coach Mike Singletary is a candidate , reports Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Below is a look at the latest in coaching and general manager searches: Arizona Cardinals : The Cardinals have interviewed current defensive coordinator Ray Horton and met with Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Saturday. Though no interview has taken place, the Cardinals requested permission to interview Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who was the Cardinals' offensive coordinator from 2007-08. The Cardinals received permission to interview Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, which will take place on Thursday. Steve Keim, the team's vice president of player personnel, remains the top candidate for the team's general manager position, but is drawing interest from other clubs, including the Jacksonville Jaguars and San Diego Chargers. The Cardinals have also interviewed Washington Redskins director of pro personnel Morocco Brown for the GM post. Buffalo Bills : The Bills concluded their head coaching search by hiring Syracuse University head coach Doug Marrone, who was introduced by the team on Monday. Marrone is looking for NFL-level coordinators and received permission to interview New York Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who declined an extension with the Jets during the 2012 season. In addition to Pettine, the Bills are looking to interview Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker for their coordinator vacancy. Carolina Panthers : Owner Jerry Richardson decided that the team made enough progress in the second half of the season to keep head coach Ron Rivera for a third season. Now comes the task of finding a full-time replacement for general manager Marty Hurney. Some candidates have emerged , reports Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Including interim GM Brandon Beane, the Panthers are also looking at New York Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross, Giants senior pro personnel executive Dave Gettleman, Minnesota Vikings assistant general manager George Paton, Montreal Alouettes general manager Jim Popp, andTennessee Titans vice president of player personnel Lake Dawson.
It's safe to say that the first season for current New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo did not go well. The former New York Giants defensive coordinator and St. Louis Rams head coach, who replaced Gregg Williams as the man in charge of New Orleans' defense in January of 2012, oversaw a unit that set an NFL record for the most yards allowed in a single season with 6,799, breaking the old mark of 6,793 set by the 1981 Baltimore Colts. Not all of it was Spagnuolo's fault -- the Saints had age and injury issues, and the specter of the suspensions that never actually happened in the bounty case weighed heavily on linebacker Jonathan Vilma, defensive end Will Smith, and their teammates. But the decline in defensive efficiency was precipitous enough to leave people wondering about Spagnuolo's fate when Sean Payton gets back in the building after the Super Bowl. Once Payton is back on board, he'll have to go through a unique process when vetting his coaches and deciding who he wants to keep. One condition of his yearlong suspension is that he cannot have contact with the team, and that's been the case but for a couple of exceptions -- he was allowed to watch Drew Brees break Johnny Unitas' record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass, and he was allowed to negotiate and agree upon a new five-year extension. But when Payton reviews and deduces how things went while he was away, he'll apparently will have some interesting discussions with his defenders when the subject of Spagnuolo comes up. Larry Holder of recently spoke with one current Saints defensive player who chose to remain anonymous, and who put Spagnuolo on full blast. "Trust me, all the guys were being politically correct this season when answering questions [about] Spagnuolo," the player told Holder. "To give up what we gave up can't be all talent. Look at where his units [have] been ranked before. I think one top 10?" Spagnuolo's star started to rise when the Giants defense he coached in 2007 manhandled Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. He got the Rams' head coaching job in 2009, and put together a 10-38 record in three seasons with a team that was rebuilding from nothing. His defenses finished 31st, 19th and 21st in Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted efficiency metrics in those three seasons, though the drafts put together by Spagnuolo and former general manager Billy Devaney did set things up for current head coach Jeff Fisher, whose Rams defense ranked seventh in those same stats in 2012. According to the Saints player Holder spoke to, the problems with Spagnuolo go beyond scheme to communication and attitude.
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- This miserable season without their suspended coach won't end in a playoff appearance for Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
Week 16 continues for the NFL and features the Atlanta Falcons facing the Detroit Lions on Dec. 22. The Dallas Cowboys, first in the NFC East, will face the New Orleans Saints on Dec. 23. The following schedule has a complete list of the games for Dec. 22 and Dec. 23.
Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions The Falcons can clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win over the Lions on Saturday night. After making the playoffs in 2011, the Lions have regressed in 2012, carrying a six-game losing streak with them into Week 16. During their current losing streak, the Lions have allowed 32 points per game, a figure the Falcons could exceed if Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez are on their games. Pick : Falcons 34, Lions 23 Oakland Raiders at Carolina Panthers Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been red-hot lately, passing for 1,308 yards with 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions in his last five games. This week, Newton faces a Raiders defense that has picked off just 10 passes all season long and has gone without an interception in eight of their 14 games this season. Pick : Panthers 27, Raiders 20 New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys The Saints have won six of their last seven against the Cowboys, including a 30-27 win in Cowboys Stadium on Nov. 25, 2010. Another win by the Saints would deal a setback to the Cowboys' playoff hopes and could eventually lead to Jerry Jones firing head coach Jason Garrett and being in the market to hire Sean Payton, who has yet to reach a contract extension with the Saints. What had been a roller coaster season for the Cowboys has stabilized, with the team winning five of their last six, including three straight. Pick : Cowboys 31, Saints 27 Tennessee Titans at Green Bay Packers A foot of snow awaits the Titans, who are again having to shuffle their offensive line after losing center Kevin Matthews on Monday night to an ankle injury. The Titans' reshuffled line meets a revitalized Packers' pass rush that got to Bears quarterbacks four times last Sunday. Titans quarterback Jake Locker has been sacked 11 times over the last three weeks and could spend considerable time on the Lambeau Field turf this Sunday. [ The top five NFL stories of 2012 ] Pick : Packers 38, Titans 16 Minnesota Vikings at Houston Texans The Texans can clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win, and the Vikings can keep their playoff hopes alive with an upset of the Texans, but a lot of eyes will be on the intriguing subplot of Adrian Peterson's pursuit of a 2,000-yard rushing season and Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record of 2,105. Peterson has rushed for 1,313 yards over the last eight games – the same total Arian Foster has this season – and will catch a Texans defense that has allowed 108.3 yards per game on the ground over the last six weeks after allowing just 81.9 yards per game in the first half of the season. Pick : Texans 28, Vikings 24 (Peterson goes for 140, putting him 154 rushing yards away from history)
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Jabari Greer made a leaping, twisting interception of Josh Freeman's short pass to the right flat, stalling a first-quarter drive deep into New Orleans Saints territory.
Alshon Jeffery, wide receiver, Chicago Bears : The second-round pick out of South Carolina has had a quiet rookie season, catching 19 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns while missing six of 14 games this season. In Sunday's 21-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers, which has placed the Bears on the outside looking in at the NFC playoffs with two games remaining on the schedule, Jeffery had zero receptions on four targets and was flagged for not one, not two, but three offensive pass interference penalties in the second half, including one that nullified what would have been a 1-yard touchdown reception late in the third quarter. Jeffery's inability to gain separation from cornerback Sam Shields in drawing those flags hurt even more on the Bears' final offensive play, when Jeffery was clearly held by Shields as the pass from Jay Cutler fell incomplete. With three pass interference penalties on the day, though, the officials could not give the rookie the benefit of the doubt. [ Related: Packers atop Sunday's list of NFL winners ] Josh Freeman, quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers : After a red-hot October, Freeman has cooled considerably, completing less than 45 percent of his pass attempts in Weeks 13 and 14 and may have hit rock bottom in Sunday's 41-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Freeman was intercepted four times, increasing his season total by 50 percent. The Saints converted those four interceptions in 20 points and added another seven points after Freeman fumbled while being sacked in the fourth quarter. Shawn Slocum, special teams coordinator, Green Bay Packers : The Packers had an 11-point lead on the Bears and were eight minutes away from clinching the NFC North when Slocum inexplicably called for a "toss back" play where Randall Cobb threw the ball across the field to Jeremy Ross, who muffed the lateral, which was recovered by Bears defensive back Anthony Walters. The Bears would only get a field goal out of what was an unnecessary gift from Green Bay, but why pick that moment to run a play that could have let your biggest rival back into the game?
Dec 16 (Reuters) - The National Football League playoff picture with two weeks of the regular season to go: Already qualified: (7) Atlanta Falcons (NFC South Division*) New England Patriots (AFC East Division*) Denver Broncos (AFC West Division*) Houston Texans (AFC South Division*) Green Bay Packers (NFC North Division*) Baltimore Ravens (AFC North Division) San Francisco 49ers (NFC West Division) * Division champion In contention (14): New York Giants (NFC East) Washington Redskins (NFC East) Dallas Cowboys (NFC East) Chicago Bears (NFC North) Minnesota Vikings (NFC North) New Orleans Saints ...
NEW ORLEANS - Finally, the New Orleans Saints were handed a bounty they could enjoy.
The New Orleans Saints placed right tackle Charles Brown and free safety Malcolm Jenkins on season-ending injured reserve.

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