Tue, 23 Apr 2019

NFL notebook: Vikings fire offensive coordinator DeFilippo

Sports Xchange
12 Dec 2018, 10:03 GMT+10

The Minnesota Vikings fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, the team announced Tuesday.

Quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski was elevated to interim offensive coordinator and will take over play-calling duties for the Vikings (6-6-1), who have mustered just 17 points in the last two games.

"I always feel like if you hire a guy you should stick with him, try to help him, help him mature as a coach," head coach Mike Zimmer said, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "This one, unfortunately with the timing and situation with last three games, still having an opportunity - (I) don't want the season wasted. Maybe it will (be), maybe it won't. But these three games are very, very critical and we need to play good."

The offense struggled mightily on Monday as Minnesota fell for the fourth time in six outings with a 21-7 setback versus the Seattle Seahawks. The Vikings rank 17th in total yards per game (354.4), 20th in scoring (21.7) and 30th in rushing yards per contest (85.4) this season.

DeFilippo was signed as the team's offensive coordinator in February after Pat Shurmur accepted the head coaching position with the New York Giants.

The 40-year-old DeFilippo spent the previous two seasons as the quarterbacks coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

--The Los Angeles Chargers are unlikely to have their two top running backs available for their upcoming AFC West showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Coach Anthony Lynn told NFL Network's Steve Wyche that the Chargers (10-3) are "not optimistic" about the availability of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler for Thursday's game at Arrowhead Stadium.

Gordon has missed the last two games with a knee injury while Ekeler injured his neck in the waning moments of Sunday's 26-21 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Ekeler remained out of practice Tuesday, but Gordon was a limited participant in practice and said that a decision on his status remains undetermined.

--San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garcon will have arthroscopic knee surgery and will be placed on season-ending injured reserve, coach Kyle Shanahan said.

Garcon has been sidelined since San Francisco's 34-3 win against the Oakland Raiders on Nov. 1.

Garcon recorded 24 receptions for 286 yards and a touchdown in eight games this season for the 49ers (3-10), who host the Seattle Seahawks (8-5) on Sunday (4:05 p.m.).

--Chicago Bears nickel cornerback Bryce Callahan broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot during Sunday's win over the Los Angeles Rams, Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network reported.

No timetable for his return has been reported, but it is likely that he will miss at least a game or two.

Callahan, 27, has appeared in all 13 games and made 10 starts this season. He was off to the best start of his career, matching career highs with two interceptions and six passes defensed, as well as a career-best 43 tackles.

--Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger expects to be under center on Sunday when the Pittsburgh Steelers face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Roethlisberger sustained a rib injury late in the second half of Sunday's 24-21 setback against the Oakland Raiders. The 36-year-old sat out four drives as a result before replacing Josh Dobbs and tossing a touchdown pass for the Steelers (7-5-1).

Roethlisberger was pretty direct Tuesday on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh when asked if there was any reason he wouldn't play against the Patriots (9-4).

"No, no, I don't think so," Roethlisberger said.

While Roethlisberger's answer was short and to the point, the 6-foot-5, 240-pounder had a much more difficult time receiving clarity on the severity of his rib injury, per coach Mike Tomlin.

--Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said that the Steelers (7-5-1) are "willing to explore options" after kicker Chris Boswell misfired on two field-goal attempts in Sunday's 24-21 setback to the Oakland Raiders.

Boswell is 10 of 16 on field-goal tries this season and has missed five extra points for Pittsburgh, which will bid to snap a three-game skid on Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET) against the New England Patriots (9-4)

"We acknowledge that Chris has struggled. He has struggled to find consistent footing," Tomlin said. "We are willing to explore options that give us the best chances of the ball going through the uprights this week. That being said, those options include Chris."

--Former Steelers iconic running back Rocky Bleier isn't too enamored with the current direction of the team.

The Steelers (7-5-1) sustained their third straight loss on Sunday following a 24-21 setback to the Oakland Raiders, prompting the four-time Super Bowl champion to share his thoughts over a video on Facebook the following day.

Bleier, who was inducted into the Steelers Hall of Honor in September, called out kicker Chris Bowell, defensive coordinator Keith Butler and head coach Mike Tomlin during his rant.

"Here's my take on the Steelers. I'm done, I mean they've ripped my heart out," the 72-year-old Bleier said. "With the talent that they have, how can they lose three out of their last four games, and in the manner that they did?

"Boswell. Now the purpose of a kicker is just to put his team in a position to win. If you can't do that, then maybe you need to go.

"Simple premise, if an opponent cannot score, well then you cannot lose a game. If you have an offense that can come from behind, put you in a position to win, then as a defense, you cannot let your opponent march down the field and strip you of your dignity. This season that has happened too often. Something has to be done, and if you're pointing fingers, well maybe Keith Butler has to go."

"With three games remaining, the Steelers' destiny lies in their hands, but it is shaky with the Patriots, Saints and Bengals on the horizon. How they fare will dictate the team's future, and it may be without Tomlin."

--The Detroit Lions placed defensive end Ziggy Ansah on injured reserve, which means his season is over and his time with the Lions may be over as well.

He becomes a free agent in March, and after an injury-plagued year that limited his production, the Lions might not be willing to re-sign him.

Ansah, the fifth overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, made $17.143 million this season by playing on the franchise tender for defensive ends.

He played in just seven games, including two starts, this season because of multiple shoulder injuries, and he recorded only four sacks and 12 total tackles.

--The City of Oakland has filed a federal lawsuit against the NFL and all 32 teams, including the Raiders.

"The defendants brazenly violated federal antitrust law and the league's own policies when they boycotted Oakland as a host city," Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker said in a press release. "The Raiders' illegal move lines the pockets of NFL owners and sticks Oakland, its residents, taxpayers, and dedicated fans with the bill. The purpose of this lawsuit is to hold the defendants accountable and help to compensate Oakland for the damages the defendants' unlawful actions have caused and will cause to the people of Oakland."

The civil complaint is a 49-page document and includes seven claims against the NFL and its teams.

The immediate question is whether the lawsuit will require the Raiders to play somewhere other than Oakland in 2019.

Las Vegas is scheduled to become the Raiders' home in 2020, and a $1.8 billion stadium is scheduled to be built at the south end of the Las Vegas Strip.

--Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka said he's feeling stronger on the heels of suffering a heart attack approximately three weeks ago.

The legendary tight end and former head coach of the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints said doctors placed four stents and a pacemaker in his chest following the heart attack, which initially occurred on a golf course on Nov. 21. His playing partners rushed him to the clubhouse and into an ambulance, which took him to a hospital in Naples, Fla.

"I got my (expletive) kicked pretty good there, but I'm feeling a lot better," the 79-year-old Ditka told The Athletic. "Every day I get stronger. I'm not exerting myself. When I exert myself is when I can feel it. So things are good. If you had asked me two weeks ago, I couldn't have said that."

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