In what would be considered his breakout year in 2016, Gillislee rushed for 577 yards (5.7 yards per carry) and eight total touchdowns. He was only targeted 11 times in the passing game but caught nine of those balls for 50 yards and another score. A former member of the Miami Dolphins, Gillislee was picked 164th overall by the Dolphins in 2013.
Gillislee, who is a strong north-and-south runner, defies some expectations. Though he is not on the heavier side for running backs, he packs a strong punch and is relentless in the red zone. He would not be a one-for-one replacement for someone like LeGarrette Blount if Blount’s contractual stalemate with the Patriots continues.
Speaking Tuesday at the Annual League Meeting in Phoenix, Goodell confirmed that he plans to attend the Patriots’ 2017 NFL Kickoff game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
Breaking with tradition, Goodell was not on hand for New England’s 2015 home opener after the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX. He also missed January’s AFC Championship Game between the Pats and the Steelers, choosing instead to travel to Atlanta for the NFC Championship Game.
The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will visit the White House on April 19, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced Thursday.
This will mark the fifth time Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots organization have met with the President of the United States in Washington, D.C.
The offense, as multi-dimensional as the roster suggests it might come to be, stagnated without Julian Edelman, who limped onto the field pregame holding the most recent Lombardi Trophy. Edelman’s knee injury proved to be a significant impediment to sustaining drives (six Patriots drives ended with punts, two more when New England couldn’t convert fourth downs) and perhaps another run at a Super Bowl. The defense struggled to find a pass rush (hello, Rob Ninkovich, are you sure you want to retire?) and gave up big plays (touchdown passes of 75 and 78 yards) and long drives (a 12-play, 90-yarder in the first quarter was the first warning sign), silencing, at least for a week, the myth that quarterback Alex Smith (28 of 35 for 368 yards and four touchdowns) is nothing more than a game manager.
The destruction was so complete and so out of character that a local television station ran a postgame poll for fans: Are you more concerned with the offense, the defense or the injuries to linebacker Dont’a Hightower (knee) and receiver Danny Amendola (head)? That about covered it.
Britt earned 18 catches for 233 yards and two touchdowns in nine games for the victory-barren Browns. The ninth-year pro churned out 1,002 yards on 68 receptions and five TDs with Jeff Fisher’s L.A. Rams squad last season. The 6-foot-3 Britt brings size to a mostly smallish Patriots receiving corps.
We’ve seen receivers struggle to grasp the Patriots complex system in the past, especially on short notice. After getting beat up on the outside in last week’s loss, New England hopes the physicality Britt could potentially bring to the field will pay dividends in a massive showdown Sunday afternoon.
By increments, they are, despite the television cutaway shot of Brady screaming curses in frustration. New England’s running game was more productive (118 yards and a Dion Lewis touchdown) and its pass protection held up better (no sacks allowed), two points of concern stemming from earlier games. The secondary is still experiencing too many breakdowns and allowing too many big plays (the Jets had four pass plays of at least 30 yards) and that is what staked the Jets to a 14-0 lead and kept them close until the end. Coach Bill Belichick said he felt the Patriots were their own biggest enemy in the first third of the game. Had Jets quarterback Josh McCown not thrown two interceptions, and had a confounding replay review not decided that Austin Seferian-Jenkins fumbled a touchdown pass that never left his hands, which took the touchdown off the board and gave possession to the Patriots, the Jets probably would have at least forced overtime.
It was a missed chance in an unexpectedly competitive game for the Jets, and another in a season-starting series of not-quite-right games for the Patriots. The result is all the same, though. The Patriots are back in first place in the division alone.
There’s a lot of hype about the 2017 Titans, whose physicality and well-rounded efficiency caught opponents off guard a year ago, en route to a 9-7 season that gave observers a glimpse of the team’s potential. Alas, Tennessee’s playoff hopes collapsed in the third quarter of a Week 16 defeat to the Jacksonville Jaguars, when Mariota was carted off with a broken right fibula after being sacked by Sheldon Day.
Now, with the dynamic Mariota back under center and Murray fueling a punishing running attack, there’s a growing sense that it may well be the Titans’ time to shine. And as much as head coach Mike Mularkey has taken great pains to keep his players from buying into their ever-expanding hype, he’s not obsessing over it, and he wisely made sure to schedule Monday’s practice with the gravity of the moment in mind. After all, this was the first total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous 48 states since 1979 (another was visible in Hawaii in 1991, more than two years before Mariota, a Honolulu native, was born), and Nashville was the largest U.S. city in the path of The Totality.
Weeden was let go by the Texans a little more than a month ago, having spent the previous two years as a backup or fill-in starter for Bill O’Brien. Weeden did not see the field at all in 2016 while the Texans cycled between Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage.
Mularkey said Mariota was “day to day” and that the Titans planned to be smart with their franchise quarterback. Given Mariota’s ability to make plays in the running game, a hamstring injury might be more significant than normal. Should that be the case, the Titans have two quarterbacks ready to fill in.
Despite not looking healthy, Mariota finished 23-of-32 passing (71.9 completion percentage) for 306 yards, including a gorgeous 53-yard touchdown bomb to Taywan Taylor, and an interception, while taking just one sack. The Titans called for Mariota to get the ball out of his hands quickly, and the quarterback made smart reads as Tennessee rallied from a second-half deficit.
To succeed in the NFL, teams must win games in less-than-optimal conditions during a grueling regular season. Having your elusive quarterback hamstrung certainly qualifies as suboptimal. Yet Mariota and the Titans made enough plays to scrap their way to 3-3 and a tie atop the AFC South. If the quarterback’s hamstring continues to progress, the division title is theirs for the taking.
Potentially adding Decker would be an intriguing move for an overhauled Titans pass-catching corps. The Titans drafted wideouts Corey Davis in the first round and Taywan Taylor in the third round of the draft. If Tennessee adds Decker, it would give quarterback Marcus Mariota even more firepower for a much-improved passing attack in his third season.
Coach Mike Mularkey said Decker’s trip to Nashville was a “get to know you visit,” according to the team’s official site.
Green-Beckham was the Titans’ 40th overall pick (second round) in 2015, selected a day after they took Mariota at No. 2 overall. This year, Tennessee holds the Nos. 5 and 18 picks in the first round, the second of which is in the range of draft projections on Ross. NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly, in fact, projects the Titans to make the Mariota-Ross connection a reality. As a high school recruit, Ross took an official visit to Oregon in October of 2012. His host? None other than Mariota.
“That was the only time I’ve ever talked to him, but I got a great first impression from him,” Ross said. “He was a really good dude. He was humble and quiet, so he reminded me of myself. It would be great to talk to him again.”
The best thing about the Titans is that they have no reservations about what they are. They are a blue-collar bunch, one that is low on star power and high on toughness. The team did add some more dynamic elements in the first round of April’s draft — with the selections of wide receiver Corey Davis and cornerback/punt returner Adoree’ Jackson — but the first thing Mularkey boasts about isn’t their electric skills. It’s their maturity and professionalism, and how their no-nonsense nature fits so well within the team’s overall framework.
Of course, it’s not uncommon for coaches to gush about the importance of chemistry. There’s also a lot of truth in the fact that the best teams in this league win consistently because of such buy-in. The Titans haven’t been to the postseason since 2008 — and have been over .500 just twice in the intervening years — because they lacked both talent and chemistry. As tight end Delanie Walker said, the “inmates were running the asylum” around Tennessee when he arrived four years ago.
Of course, combing a 24-year-old’s Twitter feed for clues seems like a fruitless endeavor, especially if Beckham does show up to mandatory minicamp on June 13. They might have just been a snapshot of how he felt in the moment — an undoubtedly complex mix of emotions, pressures, thoughts and fears. If he doesn’t show up, though, Mara’s comments about a long-term deal and how Beckham feels about his current situation all of a sudden become quite interesting.
Keeping Beckham in New York for a long time will be expensive in the kind of way that alters a salary cap structure. Currently, the club has about $8 million in space, according to salary cap site Over The Cap. Beckham this year accounts for just $3,311,063 — a number that will rise to $8,459,000 next season on the fifth-year option. His prospective new deal will be worth more than Falcons wideout Julio Jones, whose five-year $71.25 million deal sits atop the receiver market in both guarantee percentage and total guarantees at signing ($35.5 million). Before that is doled out, I wonder if the Giants are waiting for Beckham to become a player they don’t have to wonder about at all from the perspective of a team that wants everyone present and accounted for.
While the ire against officials was more directed at a roughing the passer call on Olivier Vernon, this is not the first time we’ve heard one of the Giants receivers complaining about the physical nature of the bracket-style coverage employed to stop Odell Beckham and Co. Beckham had 11 catches for 150 yards on Thursday, with Cruz posting 84 yards on eight catches. Cruz’s 13 targets were by far a season high.
By the numbers, it was a fantastic performance for the receivers but all that talent comes with a caveat: teams are going to find any way they can to beat you. At this time of year it may serve as an advantage for the Giants to get the word out before the playoffs start. Sometimes addressing referee issues publicly can at least put your gripes on the table for an official to consider upon re-watching the game. The Giants may hope that can be the case here.
“You can work on some of the things that obviously have plagued us thus far this season,” Justin Pugh said. “Obviously we have done some really good things, we have 10 wins. There is a reason why we are in the playoffs. But to go out there and do some things, personally and as a unit, as an offensive line, we obviously have things that we want to work on from last week and you go out there and do that. And like I said before, you want to be ascending going into the playoffs, and we have a chance to do that going up against a tough divisional opponent in their place.”
Like their division-mates, the Dallas Cowboys, New York views Week 17 as a prep week to keep the competitive juices and continuity flowing into the playoffs rather putting players in bubble wrap for a week of rest.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday that the Giants have signed with their star pass-rusher to a four-year contract, per a source informed of the negotiations. The deal is for $62 million with a whopping $40 million guaranteed.
The contract also includes a $20 million signing bonus, and he’ll earn $34 million within 11 months and $49.5 million over the first three years, Rapoport added. The contract ranks No. 2 among NFL defensive ends in highest average annual value, per NFL Research. Only teammate Olivier Vernon’s $17 million per season salary bests Pierre-Paul’s $15.5 million.
All-Pro strong safety Landon Collins showed Defensive Player of the Year form in a three-play sequence during the third quarter. After a forearm shiver stopped Aaron Ripkowski cold in front of the first-down marker, Collins stonewalled the powerful fullback on back-to-back short-yardage carries. Giants general manager Jerry Reese deserves NFL Executive of the Year consideration after refashioning an outstanding defense with Collins as the centerpiece.
That said, Reese has his work cut out for him on the other side of the ball. The Giants were held under 20 points for the sixth consecutive game, the longest such stretch of Eli Manning’s career. Manning came out firing in the first quarter, but was done in by shaky receiver play and the offensive line’s inability to open holes in the running game. As promising as rookie tailback Paul Perkins was in December, he was purely a shotgun specialist versus nickel defenses. The ground attack lacked a sustaining element all season long, which left a slumping Manning in poor passing situations. If Eli is going to recapture 2015 form, Reese must fix the blocking and add a power back.
At this point, there is no way Hankins wins the standoff. He has been on the market for too long and teams have already allocated a large percentage of their salary-cap money in free agency. With a defensive line-rich NFL draft coming up in roughly a month, his opportunities will be further diminished as teams pour resources into developing the younger players they select.
Hankins had an excellent 2016 and is a unique piece that fits the Giants’ brutal run-stuffing line perfectly. Alongside Damon Harrison, there might not be a more formidable set of pile pushers in football. But what is his value outside of New York?
The Giants are one or two pieces away on offense — an athletic tight end would help — from Super Bowl Sunday in 2018. But Jennings doesn’t want them to reload at his position; his goal is their goal.
“Winning championships is what the Giants organization talks about,” Jennings stated. “That’s the focal point. That’s the expectations that’s put for us every single year and the distractions, you try to eliminate as many as you possibly can, especially in New York.
The division rival Philadelphia Eagles welcomed the playoff hopeful Giants and despite their losing record, looked to play spoiler. The Eagles grabbed a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter on the back of a Darren Sproles run and an Eli Manning pick-six. Philadelphia never ceded the lead to the Giants in a 24-19 win.
The Giants now sit at 10-5 on the season and can still earn a playoff berth before the conclusion of Week 16 if other NFC teams fall. However, tonight’s loss served to remind the football audience just what kind of a fragile operation New York is, as currently constructed.
Third-year defensive end Owa Odighizuwa was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s performance enhancing drugs policy.
“It is unfortunate that things have gone in this direction,” said general manager Jerry Reese, “but we wish nothing but the best for Owa as we all move forward.”
Dallas’ ground game, paced by Ezekiel Elliott and a veteran offensive line, was otherworldly in 2016, while the Giants were one of the worst rushing teams in the league. New York’s pass rush and secondary were dominant forces in ’16 with newest additions Damon Harrison and Janoris Jenkins paying major dividends out of the gate; without Greg Hardy and a slew of suspended starters, the Cowboys struggled once again to develop any heat on opposing quarterbacks and then dismantled their already shaky secondary in the offseason.
Put these two NFC East foes together in a proverbial blender and you come up with a bona fide Super Bowl contender. But for now, with holes at many positions, both clubs will have to settle scores against one another with preseason predictions, just like the rest of us.
He would give the Giants something they haven’t had since Jeremy Shockey — a big-play tight end in the middle of the field. He has Pro Bowl potential. He’s a long, athletic, versatile tight end who can play outside or inside. In this offense, where you’re surrounded by talent on the outside (at receiver), he can be a difference-maker and a game-changer between the hashes.
If they don’t address the offensive line at No. 23, this is an option for them. He plays with a little nastiness, a little edge, he finishes plays. There are snaps on tape where he latches on and takes his man off the screen.
The Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII (the first of their meetings) in what most New York Giants fans would call “the greatest game ever played.” (Although there was another one we’ll get to in a moment.) The Patriots had been the first team in NFL history to go 16-0 in the regular season and figured winning the Super Bowl was a foregone conclusion. Especially with one of their 16 wins having come against the Giants in the regular-season finale.
The Giants were trailing 14-10 with 2:39 left when Eli drove 83 yards for the winning score. The most memorable play was David Tyree’s one-handed catch, when he pinned the ball to his helmet on a 32-yard reception. It was one of those things that looked fake. And when you watch the replay, you wonder how Rodney Harrison wasn’t able to knock it away. Like he was so surprised by the catch, he couldn’t think of anything dirty to do.
“Obviously it’s one of the best (teams) in the league — especially last year. They won the Super Bowl. They’re the reigning Super Bowl champs,” Lynch said in an interview on NFL Network. “They have a great defense. As a young quarterback, if (you get) a chance to play, that obviously benefits (me) a lot having the best defense in the league.”
The Lynch selection should also eliminate further speculation connecting the Broncos to 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who increasingly appears to be headed toward a August competition with Blaine Gabbert.
“There is no ceiling,” Ward told The Denver Post. “We can be as good as we want to be. We can become the best defense of all time. That’s what we’re working toward.”
The return of Miller ensures the edge rush will remain a dominant force. We expect second-year linebacker Shane Ray to improve his production and spell DeMarcus Ware more this season.
The Broncos hope the second-year quarterback can return to the lineup after missing just one game. Rookie Paxton Lynch threw for just 104 yards in his second career start last week and appears at least a year away from being the answer for John Elway’s team.
Siemian displayed vast improvement in his past three games prior to suffering the injury behind a porous offensive line. Once coach Gary Kubiak unshackled the seventh-round quarterback, Siemian showed a willingness to stretch the field, solid accuracy and good arm strength. He threw two-plus touchdowns in his past three starts.
The Broncos (4-1) were on their heels having to respect the play-action because Devonta Freeman jersey and cheap jerseys and Tevin Coleman jerseys were so effective running the ball, combining for 119 yards and a 4.4-yard average.
A week after setting a franchise record with 503 yards passing in a runaway win over Super Bowl 50’s other participant, the Carolina Panthers, Ryan threw for 267 yards Sunday and only two of those (covering 29 yards) went to Jones.
DENVER — Their bid for another epic victory over Tom Brady jersey and the New England Patriots, and possibly their chance to defend a Super Bowl championship, ended with a whimper Sunday afternoon in front of 76,893 chilled and dejected fans at Sports Authority Field. Then, immediately following a 16-3 defeat to their formidable AFC rivals, the Broncos’ frustrations boiled over, as a seemingly ho-hum attempt at postgame unity began and ended with a bang.
When the beaten Broncos spilled into the locker room, before the door was opened to reporters and other outsiders, coach Gary Kubiak gathered his players and asked if anyone wanted to address the team. Veteran left tackle Russell Okung, who signed with the Broncos last March, stepped forward to speak, and cornerback Aqib Talib strongly objected. According to several witnesses, that set off a spirited shouting match between the team’s defensive backs and offensive linemen — one which Kubiak had to diffuse before it turned ugly.
That mental toughness was on display once again when the Broncos faced the Buccaneers in Tampa on Sunday afternoon. This didn’t seem like much of a game until Denver lost starting quarterback Trevor Siemian to a shoulder injury on his left (non-throwing) shoulder late in the second quarter. Suddenly the Broncos, leading 14-7 at the time of the injury, were forced to rely on untested rookie Paxton Lynch for the entire second half. All that dilemma did was give their defense more motivation to take over and the remainder of the Broncos ample reason to elevate their own performances.
The final score — 27-7 in favor of Denver — won’t tell the full story of what happened inside Raymond James Stadium that day. This was one more substantial piece of evidence that the Broncos, now 4-0, should be considered early front-runners to hoist another Lombardi Trophy.
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