Insider: NFL Notebook

In this edition of the notebook, we look at the future of Jim Caldwell, the ever-changing story of Colt McCoy’s concussion, the Titans sticking with their injured veteran, another huge loss for the Texans and a Duck flying to the NFL.

Three Coaches Down, Is Caldwell Next

It’s difficult to imagine an NFL team going winless in a 16-game season. It’s only happened just once before (2008 Detroit Lions) and you’d think that with 53 professionals giving solid effort every week that you’d catch a team on a bad day and find a victory.

As difficult as it is to imagine another 0-16 team, it’s more difficult to imagine an 0-16 team retaining its head coach. NFL Network’s Jason LaCanfora is reporting that Colts head coach Jim Caldwell will “unequivocally” will be fired if the Colts don’t win at least one of their final three games.

Our take: After going to the Super Bowl just two years ago, Caldwell has taken the Colts on a downward spiral. Indianapolis was the superior team in Super Bowl XLIII and Caldwell was pencil-whipped by Sean Payton and the Saints. The team struggled to win 10 games a season ago despite playing in a terrible division and although there is somewhat of a pass for Peyton Manning being injured in 2011, there’s no excuse to go 0-16. The team has clearly lost faith in its coach and Indianapolis needs to start fresh with Andrew Luck and a new head coach.

Browns Changing Their Story on McCoy

Browns quarterback Colt McCoy was crushed by Steelers linebacker James Harrison last Thursday which caused him to see stars and Harrison to miss this Monday’s game against San Francisco.

Unfortunately for both the Browns and McCoy, the team sent the dizzy young man back into the game after missing just one play. McCoy proceeded to take a red zone sack and then was picked off in the end zone which sealed the Cleveland loss.

Yahoo Sports Doug Farrar has followed the story with the different explanations that Cleveland has given for putting their young signal caller back in the game.

Our take: It just seems like it would be easier for the Browns to admit that they were deficient in their diagnosis of Colt McCoy’s concussion instead of these ridiculous excuses. In the one play McCoy missed, backup Seneca Wallace came in and threw for a first down. They should’ve rode the backup who’s also a threat to run against the Steelers defense and they wouldn’t have this story hanging over their heads and they might have had a victory to go with it.

Munchak Rolling With His Veteran

The Tennessee Titans have been a solid surprise this season as very little was expected of them with rookie head coach Mike Munchak. After losing their season opener to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, the Titans have been more than competitive and currently sit at 7-6, trailing New York by one game for the Wild Card.

With veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck injuring his calf last week, there were thoughts that rookie signal caller Jake Locker would make his first start in this Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts. This Associated Press report claims that Munchak is likely to play his veteran on Sunday.

Our take: The Titans are in a logjam of teams with a 7-6 record and it’s highly doubtful that they reel of three straight games and get to 10 wins. That might not even be enough to earn a Wild Card spot. Why not play the rookie and get him some more work and experience? In the unlikely event the Titans do win out and somehow get the necessary help to earn a playoff trip, what good will a beat-down in their only playoff game do for the long-term health of the franchise? Play the rookie, you’re going to eventually.

Texans Suffer Another Major Loss

It almost seems as if there’s some greater force working against the Houston Texans. Houston has seen stars such as Matt Schaub, Mario Williams, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson go down at points this year and they just keep winning with a great defense and solid running game.

Houston may have just suffered their biggest loss as defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is taking a sabbatical from the team due to an undisclosed medical issue, according to this Associated Press report.

Our take: Wade Phillips may have been the best offseason move by any team as he has transformed the Texans defense. With some talented pieces a season ago, the Texans defense finished the season ranked 30th overall. Adding a few more pieces this year, Houston leads the NFL in defense and have already clinched their first AFC South title. If Phillips misses any more that the next three weeks, the Texans are in serious trouble and will likely be a one-and-done playoff team.

One Duck Flying Pro For the Fall

According to this ESPN report, Oregon junior running back LaMichael James will forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft. In 2011, James rushed for 1,646 yards and 17 touchdowns despite missing two games with a dislocated elbow.

Our take: James has put up wonderful numbers in the Oregon spread over the past two seasons but his slight build will keep him from being an early pick. Listed at 185 pounds, James can’t handle the battering and bruising it takes to be an every-downs back and the former Duck will have to be used in a third-down role, similar to Kansas City’s Dexter McCluster. It would be a surprise if James was off the board before round three.

In Other News

– Marion Barber had a bad day on Sunday. After inexplicably running out of bounds while the Bears were trying to run out the clock, then fumbling in overtime with Chicago in field goal range in Sunday’s 13-10 loss to the Denver Broncos, Chicago running back Marion Barber hasn’t commented. Barber, quite possibly the “goat of the year” escaped without speaking to the media after Sunday’s game, and hasn’t spoken with the media up to this point.

Just a message- “Marion, be a man, talk to the press. It’s part of your job. Running away from what happened won’t make people forget about it.”

– Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith suffered chest pains after his team’s 31-23 victory over the Carolina Panthers and was held for tests in a Charlotte hospital. According to The Sports Xchange, Smith is still feeling discomfort and will get further evaluated after Thursday night’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Best wishes go out to Coach Smith as he’s one of the very best guys in professional sports.

– The Jacksonville Jaguars will face their toughest test of the season Thursday night. Playing on a short week is always difficult and it becomes tougher yet when playing on a short week on the road. On top of that the Jags have been ravaged by injuries.

Jacksonville will try to improve upon their 32nd ranked passing attack but will do so without leading receiver Mike Thomas and fourth-round pick Cecil Shorts. On top of that, the Jags will be without starting defensive ends Matt Roth and John Chick, linebacker Clint Session, cornerbacks Rashean Mathis, Derek Cox and William Middleton and possibly safety Dwight Lowery.

The Falcons have been hot, winning three of their last four en route to moving into a potential Wild Card spot with an 8-5 record. With all the Jaguars injuries in the secondary and defensive line, expect Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Julio Jones to have a huge night.

Meaningless score prediction: Falcons 31, Jaguars 10

Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie