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.
The Houston Texans and team owner Bob McNair are donating $1 million to the United Way of Greater Houston’s flood relief fund in the wake of the devastating flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey this week.
In addition, the NFL Foundation is matching the Texans’ $1 million relief donation, Cowboys executive vice president Charlotte Jones Anderson announced. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is matching up to $1 million in donations to American Red Cross relief efforts in the region. The Jets announced Tuesday they also will donate $1 million to the American Red Cross on behalf of the team and the Johnson family.
CBS broadcasts across the nation turned their eye to Houston for the playing of the national anthem, which included the flight of a bald eagle and a moment of silence to honor those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and cheap jerseys and Irma. Then came introductions.
Houston chose to introduce its defense on Sunday as those in attendance buzzed with anticipation, saving the most visible member of the region’s recovery efforts for last.
Mariota will undergo an MRI on his hamstring, coach Mike Mularkey told reporters following the game. The quarterback suffered the injury on his second touchdown run.
The severity of Mariota’s injury is unknown, but it would be a devastating blow for the Titans if he misses any time. Despite his uncharacteristically sloppy first half (two interceptions, 96 total passing yards) Mariota ran for both of the team’s two first-half touchdowns. Without his mobility, Mike Mularkey’s exotic smash mouth offense takes on a very different look.
As I wrote last week, Bouye was a late-bloomer who is done working his way up through the depth chart. The league has recognized his ability as a top-flight cornerback and, given the expected competition on the open market, should dictate a very lucrative contract for the 25-year-old former undrafted free agent.
Bouye picked off a pair of passes in the playoffs, giving him three interceptions on the season along with 16 passes defensed and a sack. Along with veteran Johnathan Joseph, Bouye helps allow the Texans’ dominant pass rushing tandem of Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt to function properly. Houston will just need to pay dearly for that privilege again in 2017.
Godsey began the 2016 season as Houston’s primary play-caller, only to have to those duties stripped by O’Brien back in Week 4.
The Texans went on to finish the regular season with the fewest touchdowns (25) by a playoff team in a non-strike season since the NFL season expanded to 16 games in 1978.
Savage’s two regular-season NFL starts late last season featured a disturbing penchant for holding the ball too long in the pocket and failing to sense pressure. Slow to process, Savage showed the same weaknesses on the opening possession versus Carolina. His second series ended when he failed to set his feet, overthrowing checkdown receiver Lamar Miller in the flat on third down. Shifting gears to an uptempo offense with defined reads (bubble screens, boot action, quick passes), Savage salvaged his evening with a touchdown drive once the Panthers removed their defensive starters on the third possession.
A poised Watson stood in contrast to Savage with his ability to buy time and extend plays with his legs. Whereas Savage is a slow-motion mover in the pocket, Watson’s athleticism enables him to create passing opportunities through improvisation. He also showed a willingness to throw the ball away rather than forcing throws that weren’t there. With the exception of a few otherthrows to open receivers, Watson enjoyed a promising pro debut versus Carolina’s backups and third-stringers. Will he need more seasoning before he can duplicate that performance against NFL starters?
LeGarrette Blount, Martellus Bennett, Devin McCourty and Chris Long did not attend the ceremony, citing political reasons for their decisions. Alan Branch and Dont’a Hightower previously cited personal reasons for their decisions not to go. Amendola also did not attend.
A total of 34 Patriots players attended the White House ceremony, the team told NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones. That compares to 36 Patriots players who went to the White House in 2004 and the 27 who attended in 2005. Roughly 50 Patriots players attended the 2015 celebration with then-president Barack Obama.
The move marks the end of a month-long attempt by the Saints to deal Cooks, who was unhappy with his role last season in New Orleans. The resulting trade ends up looking like a win-win for both clubs, as the Saints rid themselves of a messy relationship and receive a first-round selection in return, one that will be used to beef up their defense, Rapoport reports.
In Foxborough, Cooks has the opportunity for a fresh start with yet another future Hall of Fame quarterback. Going from Drew Brees to five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, the speedy wideout will add a new dimension to an already dynamic, shape-shifting Patriots offense. Cooks’ ability to take the top off defenses with blazing pace is an attribute not utilized in Foxborough since the days of Randy Moss and cheap nfl jerseys and should scare NFL defenses for at least next season.
If the quarterback position wasn’t the most uniquely important in all of professional sports, White would have been the runaway choice as MVP. The shifty scatback authored the most brilliant performance of his career on the game’s brightest stage, hauling in a Super Bowl-record 14 receptions for 110 yards while adding three touchdowns and a clutch two-point conversion. From Kevin Faulk to Danny Woodhead to Shane Vereen and, now, to White, no quarterback utilizes pass-catching “satellite” backs to greater effect than Brady.
Nine years later, the Patriots extracted a decent payback for David Tyree’s miraculous “Helmet Catch,” instrumental in the Giants’ Super Bowl XLII upset. Facing an eight-point deficit with 3:30 remaining in the fourth quarter, Brady unfurled an ill-advised pass over the middle into double coverage. Although the ball was tipped by Robert Alford as two other defenders arrived, the cornerback’s leg prevented it from falling incomplete. Julian Edelman plucked the ball off of Alford’s ankle, bobbled it for a second and somehow hung on without allowing it to hit the turf. Edelman’s “Ankle Catch” is New England’s answer to the circus-catch antics of Tyree and Seahawks wideout Jermaine Kearse.
The Move The Sticks podcast is identifying “Perfect Pairs” — the ideal top two picks — for each NFL team leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, which will be held April 27-29. NFL.com analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks will unveil a new set of picks for each division over the next several weeks, continuing with the AFC East. The analysts will reveal their picks for AFC South and West teams next week.
I love Sutton’s versatility. We saw him play corner, nickel and safety at the Senior Bowl. Bill Belichick asks his players to play a lot of different roles, and their roles might change on a weekly basis. Sutton has the ability to fulfill those duties.
“La mayor cantidad de espectadores ante la que ha jugado Patriots fue en la Ciudad de México en 1998”, dijo el presidente y CEO de Patriots, Robert Kraft. “Fue una gran experiencia y estoy deseando nuestro regreso. Sé que tenemos muchos aficionados apasionados a los Patriots en México. Hemos tenido mucho éxito en los juegos internacionales y lo atribuyo al gran apoyo de los aficionados en esos lugares. Espero conocer a algunos de nuestros fantásticos aficionados y disfrutar de la comida y su cultura.”
Los aficionados interesados en recibir mayor información sobre los boletos para el juego, que saldrán a la venta este verano, deben registrarse en la página www.nfl.com/mexico/registration. Los aficionados con boletos de temporada (Season ticket members) de Oaklandy New England recibirán información directamente de los clubes una vez que los boletos estén a la venta.
Ryan methodically scrolls through his reads and picks apart opposing defenses. He’s accurate, he’s tough, he’s clutch. Everything is clicking in Year 2 under play-calling mastermind Kyle Shanahan. If you don’t appreciate this, then you don’t appreciate football. Not liking Matt Ryan right now is akin to not liking pizza.
Of course, the Falcons aren’t the NFL’s most potent offense without Ryan getting a little help from his friends. And that starts with the freak in the No. 11 jersey. Julio Jones is a force of nature. How many “wow” plays can one man make in a Championship Sunday? Like another legend of Atlanta sports lore, he’s a human highlight reel. After posting his third consecutive regular season with at least 1,400 receiving yards, Jones went bonkers on Sunday, catching nine balls for 180 yards and two touchdowns. The only thing that can stop Julio Jones is his own body.
Geno Smith slipped out of the Jets’ locker room late Thursday night without talking to reporters. The clock was winding down on the one-year anniversary of the event that changed the trajectory of his career — the locker room punch from a former teammate that fractured Smith’s jaw and shattered his chance to be the Jets’ starter — and now, Smith was gone again, just as his personal reclamation project hit its stride.
This preseason, after all, amounts to an audition for Smith, who is performing not so much for Jets decision makers but for whoever might consider employing him next. Smith seems almost certain to be Gang Green’s backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick this season, because it is hard to imagine the team going without an experienced No. 2. But Smith will be gone next season, because he is in the final year of his rookie deal and his time in New York has been, to put it gently, star-crossed. The Jets, who held open the starting job until Fitzpatrick signed a deal for this season on the eve of training camp, clearly hope they never have to watch Smith in the regular season.
Per NFL Research, Marshall ranks first in the league in receptions (921) and receiving yards (11,752) over the last 10 seasons. He is tied for first in 100-yard receiving games (46) and tied for second in receiving touchdowns (80). In addition, the six-time Pro Bowl selection has the most 100-reception seasons (6) in NFL history.
Marshall will undoubtedly receive plenty of attention on the free-agent market. The question is whether he’s still capable of producing the level of numbers that made him one of the league’s most dominant wide receivers since he entered the NFL in 2006.
The Jets brass have clearly recognized their failing formula in the offseason and cheap nfl jerseys and have chosen to, instead of delay the inevitable, embrace a total reconstruction of the roster, purge the training facility of all expensive Rex Ryan holdovers and build through the draft.
As Maccagnan implied, everything the Jets currently hold dear, including their first pick in the draft, is available at a price. New York holds seven draft picks this year, including four in the first three rounds.
Cruz helped power a few years of high-wire offenses designed by former coordinator and longtime Eli Manning coach Kevin Gilbride. Alongside Hakeem Nicks, the Giants posted the fifth-best passing offense in football back in 2011 and were fourth in yards per attempt. Cruz’s play in the slot buoyed Manning and helped give him a much-needed second wind in New York.
An undrafted free agent out of UMass, Cruz was one of the few players to be re-signed by the team in the Jerry Reese era. His five-year, $45 million extension signed back in 2013 was a significant move for the notoriously thrifty Giants at the time. Cruz is currently 10th on the franchise’s all-time receiving yards list with 4,549 yards and is 17th in touchdowns, with 25.
With a 2-20 record over his past three seasons, McCown has bounced from one awful team to the next after shining as Jay Cutler’s backup with the Bears in 2013. He boasts a strong arm and plus athleticism — and he’s an excellent teammate — but McCown has been a walking M.A.S.H. unit over the past three seasons in Cleveland and Tampa Bay.
While McCown gives the team an experienced starter, the Jets easily could decide to get a long look at Petty — or even the tucked-away Hackenberg — before swinging for the fences on a rookie quarterback next offseason. Try to contain your excitement.
New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson was arrested and charged with a felony count of resisting arrest with violence in Miami on Sunday night, police confirmed to NFL.com.
Anderson got into a fight with security at an event after being told to leave, according to a Miami-Dade Police Dept. report. He then pushed a police officer after being told to sit down. Anderson continued to fight with police while on the ground and was then arrested.
While it’s too early in the season to talk about saving jobs or keeping a coaching staff together, Marrone’s offensive line could use a spirited performance against a 5-5 Bills team that will be doing its best to remain in the playoff hunt. Ryan called Jacksonville the best 2-8 team he’s ever seen this week.
Marrone’s name keeps coming up in head coaching discussions, though the recent level of performance in Jacksonville has possibly cooled his name by association. Could it change down the stretch? He has the chance to show his old fans this weekend. In the meantime, it could serve as a sign to Bills fans that they should appreciate what they have. Despite Ryan’s middling record, he would coach the Bills for the next 30 seasons if he was able to.
Paced by Jackson, popular breakout candidate Dante Fowler and cheap jerseys and difference-making rookie talents such as Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack, the defensive personnel is perhaps the NFL’s most improved from 2015 to 2016.
Whether or not the Jaguars fulfill Jackson’s vision of surprising football fans across America, they are already building high expectations. The Green Bay-Jacksonville showdown is among the marquee matchups of Week 1.
The Titans couldn’t get anything going on the ground against Jacksonville, posting just 58 total rushing yards. The Jags’ defense swarmed the line of scrimmage. Young players showed the promise on the Jags roster that will make Jacksonville a desirable destination for the next coach. Dante Fowler Jr. was in Mariota’s face early, notching a sack, three QB hits, two passes defended, and hit the quarterback’s arm on a pivotal third down play early in the second half. Rookie corner Jalen Ramsey continued his dynamic season, breaking up four passes and piled on the Titans with a pick-6 of Cassel.
Credit Marrone for getting his team to play hard in a lost season. The interim coach coaxed the best performance out of the Jags all year. After firing Gus Bradley, GM Dave Caldwell said Marrone would be a candidate to keep the gig. The Christmas Eve performance certainly didn’t hurt his chances.
With a roster filled with talent on both sides of the ball, an exciting draft class, and an ascendant young quarterback in Blake Bortles, a saucy narrative took hold positioning the Jaguars as one of the AFC’s breakout teams in 2016. Even Jags Lady believed.
Then the season started. The Jaguars are still bad at football and no play better sums up the disappointment in Jacksonville better than this fourth-down play late in Sunday’s loss to the Raiders.
In a role reversal early in the contest, it was the Jags getting to the quarterback more often than the Broncos. Jacksonville pressured Lynch plenty, which undoubtedly played a part in his skittishness for much of the game. Denver turned the tables later in the action, forcing Bortles to let it fly or run for his life. That added pressure was encouraging after the Broncos’ front seven didn’t look like itself early, and accounted for multiple Jaguars drives that stalled before they could become game-tying possessions.
A game that was low-scoring, largely unentertaining and filled with punts (19 combined) had its star, which was again Denver’s secondary. The defensive backs combined for two interceptions, locked down against Allen Robinson (even catching a Robinson juggle for an interception) and were mere inches from at least two more takeaways. Bortles’ stat line — 19 of 42, 181 yards, 2 interceptions — stunningly could have been much worse. It very well could be time to explore a future without Bortles for Jacksonville, while Denver rolls onward and keeps pace in the AFC West after Kansas City eked out a win over Atlanta.
For everyone calling the Jaguars (2-4) a massive disappointment this season, I say look around. Should the Jaguars win on Thursday night against the Titans (a game airing exclusively on NFL Network) and should the Colts falter in a game this Sunday against the favored Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville is tied for second place behind a Texans team that spent more wayward cash this offseason than anyone.
Jacksonville was a trendy pick this year to make the playoffs thanks to the injection of promising young talent over the past few offseasons and a big summer in free agency. While the team is still below .500, it is safe to say that the foundation of talent on the roster is better than anything the Jaguars have had in roughly eight years. But it is also important to note that this was not going to be the type of turnaround where the team goes from 5-11 to 11-5 overnight.
The Eagles also announced that Ed Marynowitz, Kelly’s hand-picked vice president of player personnel, was also released. It’s a telling part of this change in direction. This firing comes nearly a year to the day that Kelly got control of the personnel department last offseason, leading to former general manager Howie Roseman having a reduced role on the football side of the team. Roseman, now an executive vice president, will be part of the group that hires the next Eagles coach.
Kelly made a number of aggressive moves over the offseason, trading LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso, trading Nick Foles for Sam Bradford, signing DeMarco Murray, letting Jeremy Maclin leave, releasing guard Evan Mathis and cheap jerseys and signing cornerback Byron Maxwell. Those moves, perhaps more than his coaching strategy, led to his demise. Tom Donahoe, former GM of the Bills and senior football advisor for the Eagles since 2012, will assume the role of senior director of player personnel.
The rookie will battle history along the way. Of the 69 first-round passers taken between 1984 and 2015, only two — Delaware’s Joe Flacco and Alcorn State’s Steve McNair — emerged from non-FBS schools. There’s also the question of Wentz’s breadth of experience: He started just seven games as a senior, completing 62.5 percent of his passes for 1,651 yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions. A mobile runner, Wentz also plowed his way for six scores on the ground.
“Wentz really blew us away at the combine when we met with him,” one AFC executive told NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein. “Talent is a big component, but these guys have to have intangibles if they are going to lead franchises and he’s got them. I don’t care where he played, he understands the game and it isn’t too big for him.”
Other candidates for the position included interim coach Pat Shurmur, former Giants coach Tom Coughlin, Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. Coughlin withdrew his name from consideration earlier on Thursday.
A long-time backup to Brett Favre in Green Bay, Pederson started nine games as Donovan McNabb’s stand-in for Andy Reid’s 1999 Eagles squad that finished 5-11. His playing history is similar to those of Broncos coach Gary Kubiak and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, who backed up John Elway and Troy Aikman, respectively.
Drafted by the Eagles in the 5th round of the 2010 draft, Cooper, 28, has seen his production nosedive the past two seasons after garnering a career high 835 yards and eight touchdowns on 47 receptions in 2013. After getting the new contract, Cooper earned 577 and 327 yards in the past two seasons, respectively, with just five combined scores. He averaged just 28.25 receiving yards per game — zero 100-yard receiving efforts — in his final two seasons with the Eagles. Cooper did not catch a pass in his final two contests in Philadelphia.
With Cooper gone, the Eagles will enter free agency with Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor and Josh Huff as their top wideouts.
In a four-day span this week, the club is conducting private workouts with Cal’s Jared Goff, Stanford’s Kevin Hogan, North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz and Memphis’ Paxton Lynch a source told NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. Draft experts consider Goff and Wentz as the draft’s top two quarterbacks, and Goff worked out for the club on Monday. Wentz’s workout with the Eagles will be Wednesday, and Lynch’s is on Thursday. Rapoport reports that team owner Jeffrey Lurie is making the trip for each workout, indicating the seriousness of the club’s interest.
Sam Bradford threw for a career-high 3,725 yards last year for the Eagles, but his 19-14 touchdown-to-interception ratio was a concern. The club’s commitment to Bradford is less certain now that the man who traded for him, Chip Kelly, is no longer the coach. New Eagles coach Doug Pederson is auditioning a lot of quarterback talent this week, and pro-day workouts aren’t as appealing to him in making evaluations.
In his one season as offensive coordinator in Cleveland, DeFilippo helped make lemonade out of the Browns’ quarterback lemons. He had some sniffs at OC jobs this offseason — including with the Rams — but will move back to quarterbacks coach, a position he’s held in both the NFL and college level from 2007-2014. DeFilippo was heavily credited with helping Derek Carr improve down the stretch of his rookie season in Oakland.
Now, the experienced quarterbacks coach will try to help boost a wayward signal-caller situation in Philadelphia, where a Sam Bradford return is the top option currently on the table.
“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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