Here are the top stories from Wednesday:
The Buccaneers made a surprise move late Wednesday night in firing second-year head coach Lovie Smith. He was 8-24 in two seasons at the helm.
The Eagles were one of six teams to get a failing grade from our NFL Nation reporters. Phil Sheridan explains: "As it became obvious on Dec. 29, this Eagles season was a pass/fail exam in the eyes of owner Jeff Lurie. After spending the offseason frantically remaking the nucleus of the team, coach Chip Kelly was fired with a game left to play. Normally, a 7-9 season gets you a C-minus or a D. Not this time." Grades for all 32 teams.
Calvin Johnson is contemplating retirement. A source told ESPN's Ed Werder that in addition to this season's injury issues, Johnson is frustrated in feeling the Lions have failed to maximize his ability in their offense. More from Michael Rothstein on the news and how this conjures memories of Barry Sanders' abrupt retirement.
Who could the 49ers and Eagles be targeting with their coaching searches? Hue Jackson, Mike Shanahan and Chip Kelly have all been associated with San Francisco's search, according to Paul Gutierrez, while Jeff Lurie is expected to hire an offensive mind, according to Phil Sheridan.
Why is Seattle spark plug Tyler Lockett one of the breakout players to watch this postseason? Football Outsiders metrics rate Lockett as the No. 3 kick returner in the league this season, worth an estimated 6.9 points worth of field position over average, and the No. 4 punt returner at 7.3 points over average. More from Aaron Schatz on Lockett and other lesser-known players primed to shine on the big stage.
What is Vikings RB Adrian Peterson most proud of this season? "Just being able to accomplish our goals as a team. I remember sitting in our meeting room in training camp, talking about winning the NFC North, positioning ourselves to have a chance for a championship run. That's a thing that I'm proud of. Earlier today, I was kind of thinking back on that." More from Ben Goessling's one-on-one with Peterson.
AJ McCarron will never forget the day he met Ben Roethlisberger. An impressionable 13-year-old at the time, McCarron said Tuesday that "I remember him giving me a wristband and just how cool it was." More from Coley Harvey.
Raiders QB Derek Carr tops Matt Bowen's ranking of the Year 2 QBs. "The ball whistles when it comes out of Carr's hands. Man, he throws with some heat. ... But in his second season, he has improved his ability to make a variety of throws. I'm talking about the touch passes down the seam, the outside breaks, the ball placement on the fade or the bucket tosses in the vertical passing game." More from Bowen.
From ESPN Stats & Information research: The Texans are the first team in the Super Bowl era to reach the postseason with four different starting QBs winning a game in regular season. In the past 30 years, five teams have started four QBs in a season and made the postseason, but none of those previous five teams won a playoff game.
Buccaneers LB Lavonte David reacted to the news of Lovie Smith's firing. The tweets have since been deleted, but you can see the contents of them below:
This is stupid, we can't even have a consistent coach, 3 coaches in 5 yrs— Lavonte David (@LavonteDavid54) January 7, 2016
Outside looking in, y'all wouldn't understand how great of a coach/person he is— Lavonte David (@LavonteDavid54) January 7, 2016
I guess yall got what you been asking for smh #bs— Lavonte David (@LavonteDavid54) January 7, 2016