Clearing out the NFL notebook entering Week 13:
• Why Adderall is banned. In the last six weeks, six players have either been suspended for the use of Adderall or are subject to suspension for its use (as in the case of Seattle cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman, who are appealing their four-week bans).
Adderall, a drug used traditionally to treat attention-deficit disorder, doesn't carry the negative connotations of some other PEDs. In fact, it is permissible in the NFL with a prescription -- and some players with ADD have taken the proper steps to get the green light from the league. Those who haven't followed protocol are prohibited from using Adderall, which acts almost like a supper-caffeine that can rev a player up to work out harder or to be more aggressive and more focused during a game.
Adderall and other amphetamines were moved to the banned substance list with the approval of then-NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw in 2006.
• Coaches on the edge. Carolina coach Ron Rivera did himself a big favor Monday night in the comeback win over Philadelphia, but will it be enough to save his job?
Impatient owners in Buffalo (Ralph Wilson) and Carolina (Jerry Richardson, who has already fired his GM this season) could make strong finishes mandatory for their coaches, Chan Gailey and Rivera, respectively. I wouldn't be surprised to see either fired. Nor would I be surprised if Ken Whisenhunt were endangered in Arizona, and not just because of the seven-game losing streak the Cards are experiencing -- but because a year that started 4-0 now has disintegrated and includes two 14-point losses to the St. Louis Rams. Not good.
After a seven-coach changeover last offseason, I wouldn't be surprised to see eight or more this year -- and that's not even including Dallas, Jacksonville or the Jets, all of which could be in play with disastrous finishes.
• Marathon men. Before we get too far from Week 12, I wanted to recognize two Houston Texans. In the span of five days last week, tackle Duane Brown and linebacker Connor Barwin played every snap on offense and defense, respectively, for Houston in two overtime victories, over Jacksonville on Sunday and Detroit Thursday. Ten quarters of football. Brown played 189 snaps, including 16 on special teams, while Barwin, as I noted Friday, played 184 overall. "Having the mini-bye afterward is nice,'' Barwin said, "but I don't think I'm in favor of the Thursday games. It's too much."
• Suh's lucky. Don't go telling me the league's targeting Ndamukong Suh, not after the NFL said he wouldn't be suspended for his kick to the groin of Matt Schaub Thursday. It might have been accidental. But after watching the tail-end of the replay about 15 times, I thought his little extra push at the end sure made it seem like he meant to kick Schaub. Where, I don't know. But he deserves a fine for this, and he's lucky that's all it is.
• Todd Bowles has assassinated his chances to be a head coach in 2013. His players haven't helped, and that's putting it mildly. But the Eagles have allowed 32 points a game in Bowles' four games orchestrating the D.
• On Chip Kelly. Ever since the Oregon coach began getting some notice on the lists of prospective 2013 NFL head coaches, I've heard one consistent criticism from NFL front office people: His offense is going to get his quarterback killed. That's a good point, because his quarterback gets hit a lot. But I believe one thing Kelly will do is develop more than one quarterback to play, the way Jim Harbaugh has done in San Francisco. Depending on where he might go to coach, he could draft one and use the incumbent. Either way, his offensive imagination will be tough for defenses to prepare for -- assuming he can get a quick group of offensive linemen to play his scheme.
Now onto your email:
ON THE CHALLENGE FLAG CONTROVERSY. "I don't understand the uproar over the elimination of the replay review when a coach throws the challenge flag on a scoring play or turnover. What's the problem here? Everybody knows the rule (especially now!), so it seems to me the solution is not changing the rule, but rather for coaches to calm down and await the automatic replay that follows.
I wasn't in the Competition Committee meeting where this rule was discussed, of course, but I imagine they debated the harshness of eliminating the replay review, but decided that it would provide an effective deterrent to coaches slowing down the game by unnecessarily throwing the challenge flag. So if that's the case, then what's the point of backtracking the first time the rule gets put into play? The NFL had to know something like what happened in Detroit was a possibility when they instituted the rule. I just don't understand why the NFL (and lots of other people, apparently) think that this rule is so horrible now that the rule came into play. Seems to me that the problem here was a hotheaded coach who couldn't stay calm enough to let the process play out -- not the rule itself.''-- Pat Kramer, Cincinnati
It's simple: The NFL is penalizing a team doubly for a relatively minor infraction of throwing the challenge flag when it's not needed. The officials hand out a 15-yard penalty and say a play won't be reviewed. Way, way over the top. The intent of instant replay is to get an obviously wrong call corrected. America saw Justin Forsett's knee and elbow on the ground. He was clearly down. Plays like that, for the integrity of the game, must be reversed.
CUTLER'S CASE. "If you define valuable as you suggest in the case of Jay Cutler, aren't you perversely awarding the MVP to Bears' management for ineptitude in failing to provide adequate back-up to Cutler?''-- Mark, Providence
Oh, I don't know. Lots of teams have weak position groups. I just look at how Cutler's playing, and the adversity he rises above to play that well.
IT'S NOT MY LIST. "How is Aldon Smith not included on your list for defensive player of the year with JJ Watt and Von Miller? He is the most disruptive player on the best defense in the NFL, he is about to set the NFL record for most sacks in his first two seasons in league history (Currently at 30 through 26 games), and he is on pace to break the NFL record for most sacks in a single season. He is the X factor that took the Niners D to a new level last year (and this year).''-- Mike McCandless, San Francisco.
Read the item in the column. Each week, I have a chunk of my column on NFL player analysis from Neil Hornsby of ProFootballFocus.com, and that was his opinion. Your opinion is shared by many, however, and I will pass it along to Neil.
BELICHICK DOES IT ALL THE TIME. COUGHLIN, NOT SO MUCH. "How about a team that is up by four touchdowns (38-10) with five minutes left and keeping the starting quarterback in and is STILL throwing the ball? Man, that Belichick is one evil.... oh wait... that was Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning against Green Bay Sunday night. When it's not Belichick, the moral outrage goes away, right?''-- Tom, Portsmouth, N.H.
It's a little different. Belichick's done this often over the years. You need more than one hand to count the times Tom Brady's been in a total blowout in the middle of the fourth quarter. But Coughlin had a reason, I believe. His offense had been struggling for four weeks, and he has every right to use the game to do what he can to make sure his team is back on track for the stretch run. People wouldn't be killing Belichick if it were a one-time occurrence. Obviously, it's not.