Losses to the Cardinals and 49ers are unforgivable for a team that should be making a late-season playoff push.

“One of the things that is important to point out about this that may not be evident and does not necessarily show up on our protocol sheet, is once a player gets a sideline evaluation, that is not the end of their contact with the medical staff,” Sills said. “Let’s say that a player comes off, gets the sideline evaluation and clears that, they pass that evaluation and are cleared to go back in and play.

Instead of there being hope for a deep playoff run, the lopsided defeat to the Rams produced speculation that a teardown of the roster could be in store. Would Coach Pete Carroll stay around for a rebuilding project around QB Russell Wilson and LB Bobby Wagner? The narrative certainly can change quickly in the NFL, can’t it?

The Titans no longer are deserving of a spot in the postseason. They have played their way out.

The future is bright with Jimmy Garoppolo at QB. The three straight wins with Garoppolo as the starter have raised expectations for next season. It always seemed like a near certainty that the Niners would franchise-tag Garoppolo this offseason if they couldn’t re-sign him first. But if anyone had any doubts about that, they should be erased. Garoppolo cannot be allowed to leave.

It promises to be quarterback-rich draft class, but the Browns’ possession of the No. 1 pick gives some players a decision to make: Would spending another year in college be more attractive than possibly landing in Cleveland? UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen already has said he would rather be drafted lower and end up with the right team than be drafted higher by the wrong team. Rosen must decide whether to enter the draft or spend another season at UCLA playing for the Bruins’ new coach, Chip Kelly.

Award watch … Here’s how one set of picks for this season’s major awards would look:

MVP: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots … With Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz’s season cut short by his knee injury, it comes down to Brady or Rams running back Todd Gurley II. Gurley has been terrific. But no player in the league has been more indispensable than Brady, whose game shows no signs of deterioration in the year in which he turned 40.jaguars_044

The ugly ironies in the recent cases are overwhelming.

Al Davis, the late father of current Raiders owner Mark Davis, never needed a league rule to hire Tom Flores, Art Shell or Amy Trask. Also, Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders’ general manager, who got his job the old-fashioned way — paid his dues for years, then got a chance from his old organization — spoke out against token interviews “just to satisfy the rule.”

He said that in 2013, when the NFL managed to hire zero minority candidates for eight head-coaching and seven general manager openings that offseason. The lowlights: The Chiefs essentially pulled a Raiders in hiring ex-Eagles coach Andy Reid after just four days, while meeting the minimum Rooney Rule requirements; and the offensive coordinator of the Super Bowl champion Ravens, Jim Caldwell, did not get a single interview.

Officials at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Mass., discovered Hernandez’s body with a bedsheet tied around his neck shortly after 3 a.m. on April 19, but it took more than a day for state officials to rule the death a suicide. This caused a brief controversy surrounding Hernandez’s remains, including his brain, which the family had requested be sent to Boston University’s CTE Center for further study.

President Trump has said his fight with NFL players is about respecting the flag and honoring veterans — not race. But the president and some conservative commentators have made wealth a part of the debate, inflaming racial resentment among Trump’s white working-class supporters who express no tolerance for black athletes raising concerns about institutional racism while making millions of dollars a year.

Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders: An ankle injury that Cooper aggravated in Week 14 likely will keep him out in Week 15. Cooper has been a big disappointment in fantasy this season, and if his owners have managed to get this far without him, they obviously have other options.

Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles: Ertz cleared concussion protocol and practiced Wednesday. He should return to TE1 status despite the loss of quarterback Carson Wentz. Philadelphia visits the New York Giants in Week 15, and Ertz will be looking to settle back into the offense while Nick Foles takes over behind center. Foles could look Ertz’s way quite a bit simply as a check-down option. Either way, Ertz owners should have him in the lineup.jaguars_004

The Eagles are the first No. 1 seed to open the postseason as an underdog

The Atlanta Falcons’ Wild Card win in Los Angeles against the Rams this past weekend secured them a trip to Philadelphia to face the top-seeded Eagles this Saturday — and they’re favorites.

Despite Philadelphia being the NFL’s best team for much of the season, oddsmakers have them as an underdog against the sixth-seeded Falcons. It’s the first time a No. 1 seed has started the playoffs as an underdog in NFL history.

In the weeks that followed, Shazier’s defensive teammates wrestled with his injury and what he meant to them. Heyward, a first-round pick in 2011, had watched the defense’s makeup start to change in ’14, when he welcomed Shazier, a fellow Ohio State product. A team defined by its best defensive players had won Super Bowls after the ’05 and ’08 seasons (and then lost one after the ’10 campaign), but by Shazier’s second season almost all of those players had retired. The subsequent Steelers teams came to be known for their offensive firepower, but “when we [drafted] Ryan,” Heyward says, “it felt like a turn back the other way, the start of a new nucleus.”

Along with Shazier, Pittsburgh added Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt in the second round in 2014, then Kentucky outside linebacker Bud Dupree in the first round of ’15. Heyward, meanwhile, inked a six-year extension worth almost $60 million, and while the juggernaut offense hogged headlines, the two Buckeyes worked in devastating tandem: Heyward cleared space in the interior for Shazier to make tackles, and Shazier blanketed short routes, allowing Heyward time to chase QBs.

Ulriksen added, “This is 49er country, and my mom and I have been going back and forth — she’s upset that players have brought politics into sports, but I say, ‘How would you feel if you had to show up at work every day and salute a country that treats black people like second-class citizens?’

“I’m glad that Colin Kaepernick and Michael Bennett are making it political,” he said. “I’m sure that if King were around today, he’d be disappointed at the slow pace of progress: two steps forward, 20 steps back. Or 10 yards back, as the metaphor may be.”

Kaepernick started his movement last season with the goal of raising awareness of the oppression people of color in the United States face. He started sitting for the national anthem, before ultimately deciding taking a knee would be the better stance, after talking with former NFL player and Army Ranger Nate Boyer.

Since then, NFL players joined Kaepernick in his protest, including Bennett. The Seahawks defensive end has long been outspoken on the topic, but started sitting for the national anthem in the 2017 season.giants_094