The NFL Career Development Advisory Panel, made up of eight former coaches and GMs, has made final its "inclusive list of coaching and GM candidates, with special emphasis on minorities," according to Peter King of THE MMQB. A source said that the "top minority coaches preferred by the committee" are former Bears coach Lovie Smith, Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton and Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles (MMQB.SI.com, 12/18). In Houston, John McClain reports the Texans earlier this week made Smith the "first candidate to be interviewed" to fill the team's vacant head coaching position after Gary Kubiak was fired earlier this month. Smith "should be a leading candidate for several jobs once owners start firing coaches after the season ends" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/20). But Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio noted team owners are "going to do whatever they want" regardless of the committee's recommendations. As long as teams "comply with the Rooney Rule, they can hire anyone they want, whether it's on the NFL's list or ot not on the list." Florio: "So the list is largely meaningless" ("PFT," NBCSN, 12/18).
INJURY EXAMINATION: This week's edition of Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” featured a panel discussion on the increase of injuries in the NFL despite new rules focusing more on player safety. Showtime’s Cris Collinsworth said, “I’ve probably polled 10-15 receivers in the league, not one ever has said, ‘I would prefer the knee shot to the head shot.’ They would rather have their knees protected and take their chances with a concussion.” Showtime’s James Brown said, “It would seem to be a foregone conclusion that the Competition Committee is going to have to tweak that rule somehow." Showtime’s Phil Simms said that if you polled 32 head coaches in the NFL, the vast majority would say the new CBA is "terrible for the coaches, because the time you can spend on the field with the players now limits the contact, everything you do preparing them for the season (and) everything that’s coming up." Pro Football HOFer Franco Harris noted players in his era were pushed to get back on the field after an injury and said, "Sometimes I look at that, though, that sometimes that led to a culture of pain pills, led to a culture of other things that starts to be a negative sort of thing because there was that pressure to get on.” Harris added, “That is what the NFL is going to have to figure out. Where is that balance because right now, I don’t think it's working" ("Inside the NFL," Showtime, 12/18).