The news out of south Florida this week that Dolphins General Manager Rick Spielman apparently won't be joining Dave Wannstedt in the unemployment line after the season could be very fortuitous for Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress.
Spielman is the guy who traded away the Dolphins' second-round pick in the 2005 draft last March for Eagles backup quarterback A.J. Feeley. Wannstedt wasn't a big fan of Feeley's and benched him after just two early-season starts, in favor of journeyman Jay Fiedler.
While most of the south Florida media seems to share Wannstedt's low opinion of Feeley, Spielman still thinks the kid can be a solid starting quarterback in the NFL, particularly in a system suited to his talents like say, oh, the West Coast offense. And who better to bring out the best in Feeley than Childress?
With Wannstedt out of the picture, Feeley is expected to replace Fiedler as the starting quarterback against Seattle, after the bye week. So far, neither player has been able to kick-start a talent-poor offense that is last in the league in points scored, 29th in first downs and in rushing, and 31st in sacks allowed.
Feeley has completed 54.4 percent of his attempts and has two touchdown passes and six interceptions. Fiedler, who has started seven of the Dolphins' nine games, has a .529 completion percentage and has seven touchdown passes and eight interceptions.
"There's something in the air right now where people have something to prove," Feeley said. "If anything is going to come out of this situation, it's that things will be up-tempo."
Spielman knows that his job beyond next season probably is riding on Feeley's development. He knows he needs to hire a head coach who can bring out the best in the kid, who can bring out the same kind of confidence he showed in those five December 2002 starts for the Eagles.
Other candidates who have been mentioned for the job have been Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, LSU Coach Nick Saban and two-handicap golfer Steve Spurrier. Saban already has said thanks, but no thanks. Same with Spurrier, whom the Dolphins insist they have no interest in. That leaves Childress and Weis and the 50 other coaches who will be mentioned for this job between now and January. But Childress's familiarity with Feeley could give him the upper hand.
Around the League
Vikings owner Red McCombs has given up trying to get Minnesota state legislators to build him a stadium and has decided to sell the team, league sources told the Philadelphia Daily News. McCombs already has started gutting the franchise to make it easier to sell. He has cut budgets and has eliminated jobs in each department. His biggest obstacle as far as finding a buyer is the club's ironclad Metrodome lease that runs through 2011. Glen Taylor, owner of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves, has expressed an interest in buying the Vikings. . . .
Add the Buffalo Bills to the short list of teams being mentioned as relocation candidates for Los Angeles. They join the Vikings and the Saints. Scratch the Colts, who, league sources say, are close to getting a deal done with the city of Indianapolis for a retractable-roof stadium near its current downtown home, the RCA Dome. . . .
It's not a given that ABC will retain the rights to "Monday Night Football." FOX, which recently agreed to a new deal for the rights to the NFC Sunday package, is expected to also make a bid for "MNF." . . .
You would think Peyton Manning would be the last guy preaching about the importance of running the football. But the Colts quarterback said his team's ability to run the ball is a big reason it has turned a league-best 23 of 30 red-zone opportunities into touchdowns. "The fact that we can run the ball, even though we haven't had that many touchdown runs [just six], the threat of the run has given us some good coverages to throw the ball against," he said. . . .
Think Jeff Garcia didn't get enormous pleasure out of the struggles of Donovan McNabb and his buddy Terrell Owens against the Steelers? Garcia's Browns face the Steelers this week, and the quarterback seemed to go out of his way to take a shot at McNabb in talking about the Steelers' defense. "They're a very talented defense," he said. "They have tremendous athletes and a great scheme. They really create some confusion. You could see it against the Eagles. How [the Eagles] were unable to protect the quarterback. Donovan went from being used to having four or five seconds to throw the football to all of a sudden having people in his face and realizing that the game's not as easy as he had it in his first seven [games]." . . .
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger twice drew the Eagles offside with hard snap counts, including the costly one on four and three in the third quarter on strong safety Mike Lewis. "We have a Wednesday [practice] period and he's been getting our defense [to jump] for the last couple of weeks," coach Bill Cowher said. "I figured it was time he tried it on Sunday. He's pretty good at it. He did a nice job with it."