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Tyrod Taylor front-runner to be Chargers’ starting QB, Anthony Lynn says

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COSTA MESA, Calif. — Tyrod Taylor is the front-runner to succeed Philip Rivers as the Los Angeles Chargers starting quarterback, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said Wednesday.

At least for now.

“I brought him in last year and I knew that if we needed him to start, if something happened to Phil, then he could go in and start,” Lynn said about Taylor, who is entering the second season of a two-year, $11 million contract. “I’m very familiar with Tyrod. I would say right now it looks like he’s in the driver’s seat, but no position is final until we get to training camp right now.”

Taylor has mostly served as an NFL backup, except for a three-year run as starter for the Buffalo Bills, where he completed 63% of his passes and threw 51 touchdowns, with 16 interceptions. He also rushed for 1,575 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Entering free agency, the Chargers cleared salary cap space with the hope of landing Tom Brady, but the six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback signed instead with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton remains available on the free-agent market.

Lynn praised Newton’s ability on Wednesday, after initially avoiding a question about the Chargers’ interest in the three-time Pro Bowl selection.

“Cam’s a good quarterback, he’s done a lot of good things with the Panthers, led them to a Super Bowl,” Lynn said. “He’s had some injuries. If he’s healthy, he’s going to be a good quarterback for somebody.”

When asked directly if the Chargers had interest in Newton, Lynn said, “We’re looking at everybody. I want to turn over every single rock, so yeah, we’re looking at everybody.”

A nine-year NFL veteran, Newton led the Panthers to the Super Bowl in the 2015 season and was named the NFL MVP. However, Newton has recently dealt with shoulder and foot injuries.

The Chargers also could look to the NFL draft later this month to find their future franchise quarterback.

The Chargers own the sixth overall pick, and while they are unlikely to have the opportunity to select top QB prospects Joe Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa, there are several other prospects who are projected to have promising futures, including Justin Herbert, Jake Fromm, Jacob Eason, Jordan Love and Jalen Hurts.

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NFL vice president Troy Vincent pans launch of pass-interference replay

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NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent, in an interview with NBC Sports, acknowledged that the league “failed miserably” in its implementation of pass-interference replay reviews last season and that such failure would serve as a cautionary tale for the NFL not to rush out rule changes in the future.

Vincent’s comments came during a broader discussion of the “sky judge” proposal — the addition of a booth umpire to each officiating crew — a modified version of which is set to be voted on during Thursday’s NFL owners videoconference meeting.

“We cannot fail this year,” Vincent told NBC Sports. “We saw, a year ago, when (the pass-interference rule) played out, starting with myself, what we put in place last year … Those outcomes were not good for professional football. Because we didn’t do the proper due diligence, it played out publicly. The last thing people should be talking about is the way the game is officiated. They (officials) should be faceless objects, managing and facilitating game flow.

“We failed. I’m first in line. I shared that (with league officials). I failed, as the leader of that department. I failed. We cannot allow that to happen again. What did we learn from that? We’ve got to do our due diligence. You can’t rush and just shove something in there without knowing all the consequences. And we found that out last year, live and in action, publicly.

“We didn’t do (our due diligence) last year, and we failed, and we failed miserably.”

The NFL last year made the groundbreaking decision to allow coaches to challenge pass interference flags and non-calls in response to the controversial missed PI call that cost the New Orleans Saints against the Los Angeles Rams in the 2018 NFC Championship Game. The execution of the rule proved inconsistent, however, with the NFL overturning only 13 of the 81 pass interference-related plays that coaches challenged during the 2019 regular season. (Booth reviews resulted in reversals on 11 of 20 instances.)

The rule was passed on a one-year experimental basis, and last month the NFL competition committee declined to endorse its renewal.

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Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin likes incentivized Rooney Rule changes

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Mike Tomlin likes the discussion around an incentivized minority hiring process in the NFL.

On “Coffee with Cal,” hosted by Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari, on Monday morning, the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach said he likes the idea of a change to the Rooney Rule that rewards teams for hiring minority candidates.

“We’ve always taken it from the approach of, punitive if you don’t interview minority candidates or things of that nature,” said Tomlin, who is one of four minority head coaches in the NFL. “I just like the different approach in terms of spinning it 180 and talking about maybe incentivizing those that develop the talent and those that hire the talent.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean Tomlin is in favor of all the incentives recently discussed. NFL.com and ESPN reported earlier this month that owners were considering a proposal that would have improved teams’ third-round draft picks by 6 or 10 spots if they hired a minority candidate for vacant GM or head-coaching openings, along with other compensation for hiring minority candidates for roles like quarterbacks coach.

Those resolutions, though, were tabled during the a conference call last week that replaced the league’s annual May owners meetings.

“We’re making some adjustments because we’re acknowledging right now that the system is broken, that minorities are not getting enough opportunity,” Tomlin said. “And we’re trying to just figure out how to stimulate that. … I agree it’s debatable about the value placed on the incentivized plan, but I just generally like the discussion.”

The league did approve some new measures in that call with the goal of improving diversity in coaching and front-office hiring. Teams are now required to interview at least two candidates from outside their organization for any vacant head-coaching job and at least one minority candidate from outside their organization for any vacant offensive, defensive or special-teams coordinator job.

In the past, the Rooney Rule stipulated only one minority candidate be interviewed for head coach and none for a coordinator position.

The Rooney Rule was also expanded to some executive positions, requiring teams and the league office to interview “minorities and/or female applicants” for positions like team president and “senior executives in communications, finance, Human Resources, legal, football operations, sales, marketing, sponsorship, information technology and security.” And, to help strengthen the pool of candidates for minority head-coaching positions, every team is also required to establish a minority coaching fellowship program to “provide NFL Legends, minority and female participants with hands-on training in NFL coaching.”

Tomlin told Calipari that he will be talking with NBA coaches Tuesday about minority hiring.

“We have a problem with minority hiring, specifically in football,” Tomlin said. “But I guess that it’s an issue of minority hiring across a lot of industries and lines. I’m on with the NBA coaches tomorrow, actually, talking about things that are going on in our game with the Rooney Rule.”

Information from ESPN’s Dan Graziano was used in this report.

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How to watch Monday Night Football classics: Le’Veon Bell’s walk-off TD beats Chargers – Pittsburgh Steelers Blog

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Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin didn’t want to go for the tie.

So he went for the win, and with running back Le’Veon Bell lined up in the Wildcat, he got it.

With Bell’s outstretched arms, the Steelers beat the San Diego Chargers 24-20 on the final play of the 2015 Monday Night Football game.

The memorable game will be shown as part of the ongoing series of Monday Night Football classics. It kicks off at 8 p.m. ET Monday on ESPN.

“It was time to go to the mattresses, if you will,” Tomlin said after the game. “We had to do what was required to win. Le’Veon gave us an opportunity to win, and we were trying to do everything we could to move the football.

“We have to run the football. We have Le’Veon Bell. We had an opportunity to win the game. We’re on the road in a hostile environment. We’ve got to play to win, and that’s what we did.”

With five seconds left, the Steelers lined up at the 1-inch line, thanks to a big play by quarterback Michael Vick and tight end Heath Miller and an unnecessary roughness penalty against the Chargers.

The Steelers had one timeout to set up for a tying field goal, but they went with a gutsy, winning playcall instead: Bell lined up 7 yards deep to take the direct snap.

He gathered the ball and sprinted to the goal line, muscling his way forward to fight for the final inch needed to score the touchdown. Diving, he broke the plane as his knee landed on a defender’s arm and time expired.

“I got to get it in,” Bell said in 2015. “We still had a timeout left. I was thinking we still have a timeout left, so I’m thinking, ‘OK, maybe if I get stopped, maybe run like 4 seconds off and get a timeout, and we could kick a field goal.’ I wanted to end the game right there.”

The touchdown gave the Steelers a win over the Chargers — and they did it with Ben Roethlisberger on the sideline.

While Roethlisberger worked through a left knee injury sustained in the third quarter of a Week 3 win against the Rams, Vick took over quarterback duties. His first three quarters were dismal, but a 24-yard scramble — his first rush of the night — on the final drive of the game helped set up Bell’s winning touchdown. Vick also had a 72-yard touchdown pass to Markus Wheaton with 7:42 left in the quarter to tie it at 17.

“It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish,” Vick said then. He completed just 13 of 26 attempts for 203 yards with one touchdown and one interception and was sacked three times.

The game also featured the return of Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, playing in his first game of the season following a four-week suspension for PEDs. He scored his 100th and 101st career touchdowns that night, with the second coming in the high-octane fourth quarter.

The Monday night game marked the Steelers’ first trip to San Diego since 2006 and their final game in Qualcomm Stadium before the Chargers’ relocation to Los Angeles.

With the win, the Steelers moved to 3-2 on the season, and the Chargers dropped to 2-3.

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