PHOENIX — NFL owners meetings news and rumors came fast and furious here Monday. Sean Payton proved he’s as feisty as ever in his second act as an NFL coach. Mike Vrabel hinted at how the Tennessee Titans will handle the end of the Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill era. And Shane Steichen corrected the record on the Indianapolis Colts’ vision at quarterback.
But we begin with Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel, who is “over” just making the playoffs.
NFL Owners Meetings News and Rumors
Mike McDaniel ‘Over’ Being One-and-Done
The Dolphins nearly pulled off the biggest Wild Card round upset in NFL history back in January, taking the host Buffalo Bills to the wire with third-string quarterback Skylar Thompson.
Reaching the postseason for the first time since 2016 made it a successful year for a Dolphins team crushed by injuries. But a replay of 2022 in 2023 would be a massive disappointment, McDaniel made clear Monday.
“We lived it once, and one time was enough,” McDaniel said.”‘Getting to the playoffs is cool.’ Over that. You want to win.
“And so playing good teams in the regular season, however, in front-end might seem, ‘Oh, that’s tough.’ What else would you want if you’re trying to actually win playoff games, if you’re trying to actually get to the AFC Championship, if you’re trying to win the AFC Championship, if you’re trying to win the Super Bowl? All those things, you better be a very good team and battle-tested. And our division should help us do that. But it’s going to be stressful.”
McDaniel’s answer was in response to a question about the supercharged AFC East, which, on paper, is the deepest and most talented of the NFL’s eight divisions. (Assuming Aaron Rodgers ultimately ends up in New York, as everyone expects.)
And he made it clear that — even though the Bills are the three-time defending AFC East champs — the Dolphins’ major offseason roster changes were not made with any one team in mind.
“You always have your division in the back of your mind, but I think it’s important to create a team that is at its very best against all opponents because they are two very important games, division games, whichever team it is, but two games doesn’t get you to the playoffs,” McDaniel said.
“Two games doesn’t win your division. You keep it in mind, but you don’t directly — I put it this way: If you have a good quarterback in your division, we have Josh Allen. We have multiple good quarterbacks, but just your example, the Bills, you better have good corners.
“So you think that way, but it’s not like — you know their excessive strengths, and you have to be ready and prepared to deal with those, but you’re also motivated by just creating your best team against all opponents, all structures of the offense and defense to be your best version of yourself.”
Sean Payton Hasn’t Lost His Fastball
Personalities and egos are great for professional football. And Sean Payton has plenty of both. At his first owners meetings as head coach of the Denver Broncos, Payton has been a one-man headline machine.
On Sunday, he shot down rumors that Jerry Jeudy and/or Courtland Sutton might get moved. “We’re not trading those two players,” Payton told NFL Media. He also told the league-owned outlet that the roughing the passer penalty is “something that we got to be better at.”
Then, Monday, during his 30-minute media day breakfast, he kept up the pace. He insisted that new Broncos backup Jarrett Stidham can someday become an NFL starter.
And he apparently set the tone for how he will handle questions about Russell Wilson’s health. NFL Media reported last week that Wilson underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
Asked about that report Monday, Payton replied: “That’s something we’re probably not going to talk about, probably ever.”
Welcome back, Sean.
Is Shane Steichen Looking for Jalen Hurts 2.0?
Ever since he took the Indianapolis Colts’ head coaching job following the Super Bowl, a lot of people have made assumptions about Shane Steichen’s plans at quarterback.
The Philadelphia Eagles made a massive breakthrough in 2022 because their quarterback, Jalen Hurts, made a huge leap. The dual-threat QB thrived in Steichen’s system, and that success was a big reason why Steichen was such a hot name this coaching cycle.
Now, it’s his job to fix the Colts’ broken quarterback room, and most believe that will involve taking a quarterback high in the NFL draft. The Colts pick fourth in a four-quarterback class (with all apologies to Hendon Hooker), and a trade-up cannot be ruled out to ensure they get their pick of whoever is left after the Panthers choose between C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Will Levis, and Anthony Richardson.
Stroud and Young are the better pure passers, but Levis and Richardson are the better all-around athletes — possessing mobility that many believe Steichen covets.
But is that a true depiction of the situation?
“Not necessarily,” Steichen said Monday. “Quarterbacks come in all shapes and sizes and have different athletic abilities, whether it’s running or throwing. Does it add to it when you can run? Yeah. But there are also guys that are pure, drop-back pocket passers that are some of the best to ever do it with Peyton [Manning] and Tom Brady. Is it an added bonus when they can run? Yeah. But it’s not an end-all, be-all to where it’s, ‘Oh, I need a guy who can run.'”
Steichen later added: “I think you fit the system around the guy that’s playing.”
End Near for Tennessee Titans Nucleus?
The general manager who built the Tennessee Titans’ offense around Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry — Jon Robinson — is gone. Robinson’s replacement, Ran Carthon, doesn’t have the same emotional investment in those players, which made chatter this offseason that the Titans might move on from one or both plausible.
Mike Vrabel, the Titans’ head coach, discussed in generalities the challenges that come with moving on from franchise cornerstones.
“We’ve decided that we want to make a personal connection with every player on our team with every coach,” Vrabel. “Some of those connections are stronger than others. I’ve always said that we want to get to know them, get to help them. On the field, that’s our first job, but off the field as well, with anything they have with what we have. We’re together a lot. That personal connection, that means something.
“But there is a business side,” Vrabel continued. “There is a professional side that we all have to work through. All of these players that have been here for five years since we’ve been here really meant a lot to me, to our program, to our team, to our organization, to our fans. to our coaching staff. We’ll continue to work through all of those professional conversations the best that we can as we continue to build a football team that we feel can win a championship.”
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