We all thought DE Jason Babin would land with a contender after the Eagles cut him, so why did the Jaguars take a chance on him? Erik Kuselias and Mike Florio explain.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Why did the Jags claim Babin?
The NFL owners are meeting in New York this week and the topic of a team or teams moving to Los Angeles is once again a big part of the proceedings.
On Wednesday’s PFT Live, Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times will join Mike Florio to discuss the latest developments on the L.A. front. Colts owner Jim Irsay said Tuesday there’s a “high likelihood” that at least one team will be in the city next season and we’ll find out how the Rams, Raiders and Chargers bids to be in that group stack up.
We’ll also be talking to Ravens running back Justin Forsett, who had his best outing of the season in last Thursday’s win over the Steelers. At 1-3, the Ravens aren’t where they want to be after the first quarter of the season and we’ll see what Forsett thinks needs to happen to change that.
Redskins safety Dashon Goldson rounds out the guest list on Wednesday’s show for a chat about this week’s game against the Falcons.
As always, we also want to hear what PFT Planet thinks. Email questions at any time or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.
It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app. You can also watch a simulcast of the first hour through the links at PFT.
Wednesday marked the first day on the practice field for Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell, and those watching have reported that Campbell started practice by dividing the offense and defense and holding Oklahoma drills.
So, Campbell probably has his team’s attention. And maybe the NFL Players Association’s attention, too.
The Oklahoma drill — named for longtime Oklahoma University coach Bud Wilkinson — is a full-contact, full-speed drill that includes players either blocking or tackling (or both) in a confined area.
With the emphasis on concussion prevention and player safety, most NFL teams no longer do the Oklahoma drill in training camp — and it’s hard to imagine any team doing it during an in-season practice, even during a bye week like the Dolphins have this week. The Bengals used to open training camp with it, but Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has canceled it the last two seasons.
Campbell, who played 10 NFL seasons as a tight end, obviously thinks his 1-3 team needed a wakeup call and a firm sign that things will be different going forward. It will be interesting to hear what his players think about his methods.
Even though it was against the Browns, it was still a good comeback.
Philip Rivers bringing the Chargers back to beat Cleveland earned him the AFC offensive player of the week honors this week.
Rivers completed 23-of-38 passes for 358 yards and three touchdowns in the win.
While other quarterbacks are left to dink and dunk, Rivers averaged 9.4 yards per pass attempt, showing his willingness and ability to move the ball downfield.
When the Colts released quarterback Josh Johnson earlier this week, it looked like a sign that Andrew Luck would be able to return to the lineup for Thursday night’s game against the Texans.
Luck was a limited participant in practice on Monday and Tuesday and told reporters on Tuesday that he’s preparing to start this week. He also added that he wasn’t where he’d want to be in an ideal world, however, and the situation at quarterback got even cloudier when Matt Hasselbeck missed Tuesday’s practice with an illness.
As a result, the Colts have turned back to Johnson to give them some insurance for this week. The team announced on Wednesday that Johnson has been re-signed. Johnson backed up Hasselbeck in the Week Four victory over the Jaguars and last saw regular season action with the Bengals during the 2013 season.
The Colts will issue their final injury report for the Texans game later on Wednesday and it should provide a bit more clarity about where things stand with Luck and Hasselbeck.
Cornerback Jalil Brown was placed on injured reserve after hurting his groin against Jacksonville.
As NFL owners continue to slog through a fight to get the game back in the United States’ second-biggest market, they’ve extended their deal to take it beyond our borders.
The league announced they had approved a resolution to extend their international series of regular season games through 2025, with the ability to take games beyond the United Kingdom.
There has been talk of Germany, Mexico and perhaps Brazil hosting games in the future, and this opens the door for that.
“This marks an important step in our long-term international growth,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Fans in the UK have responded incredibly well to the regular-season games we have played in London since 2007. They have demanded more NFL games, and we have worked to accommodate them. We think it’s time to expand our International Series to other countries and respond to the growing interest in our game not only in the UK, but elsewhere around the world.”
Next year’s international games will be announced later this fall. The league had previously agreed to a 10-year partnership with English Premier League soccer club Tottenham Hotspur for two games per year at their new stadium, which will open in 2018.
While London may never be logistically feasible to host a franchise, it’s clear the NFL wants to add inventory there, as they’ve gradually built to three games this season.
The Broncos defense continued to be the thorniest in the league in Week Four and one of its standouts was honored for his play in the 23-20 victory over the Vikings.
Safety T.J. Ward had six tackles and two sacks in the win. His second sack came late in the fourth quarter and also resulted in a fumble that the Broncos recovered to seal their victory over Minnesota. He joins John Lynch as the only Broncos safeties with two sacks and a forced fumble in the same game.
For those efforts, Ward has been named the AFC’s defensive player of the week. It’s the second time in the first four weeks that a Bronco has been so honored with cornerback Aqib Talib taking the honors in the opening week of the season.
Ward missed that game while serving a suspension and has recorded 19 tackles to go with his two sacks in the last three weeks.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 4 of the season.
Brees, who missed the Saints’ previous game with a shoulder injury, completed 33-of-41 passes for 359 yards and two touchdowns against the Cowboys, including the game winner in overtime that marked his 400th career touchdown pass.
Brees recorded a 119.4 passer rating for the game and posted his 46th career game of at least 350 passing yards, the most in NFL history. Brees also became the third player in NFL history to complete 5,000 passes for his career.
Since joining Saints in 2006, Brees has won 19 player of the week awards, the most in the NFL during that span. With 21 such awards in his career, he joins Peyton Manning (27) and Tom Brady (24) as the only players with 20 or more.
September was a very good month for Panthers cornerback Josh Norman and October started off the same way.
Norman intercepted two passes and returned one for a touchdown in last Sunday’s 37-23 victory over the Buccaneers. That was enough to make him the NFC’s defensive player of the week.
Norman also intercepted two passes and returned one for a score in the first three games of the season, plays that helped him get honored as the NFC’s defensive player of the month for September.
About the only thing that’s gone wrong for Norman so far this season is the flag he drew for celebrating his latest touchdown by pretending to ride the football like a horse. Norman said he was told that was legal, but it’s a pretty small demerit given all he’s done for the 4-0 Panthers so far this season.
If Norman’s play remains at this level, the impending free agent should have a pretty good offseason as well.
Robbie Gould’s busy and productive day last Sunday has brought the Bears kicker NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
Gould made a 49-yard field goal with two seconds left as the Bears defeated the Raiders, 22-20. The 12th game-winning kick of Gould’s career gave the Bears their first win in 314 days.
This is the third special teams player of the week award of Gould’s career.
Gould hit three field goals on the day, including a 54-yarder earlier in the fourth quarter of a back-and-forth game.
The Ravens aren’t one of the teams having kicking problems. In fact, their kicker may have just saved their season.
Justin Tucker was just named AFC special teams player of the week, after hitting the game-winning field goal in overtime against the Steelers last week.
It helped the Ravens avoid an 0-4 start which might have been an insurmountable hole to dig out of, but he’s been digging them out for years.
It’s his fifth such award in four seasons, and comes at a time when teams are getting rid of kickers left and right.
He also hit two field goals in the fourth quarter to put them in position, before the game-winning 52-yarder. That was the longest field goal ever in Heinz Field by a Steelers opponent, as it’s a difficult place to kick because of the swirling winds and generally poor surface.
With NFL owners currently in New York and trying to figure out which team(s) will move to Los Angeles, a push-and-pull has emerged between the Rams and St. Louis.
St. Louis struck the first blow, with the well-timed announcement that National Car Rental has committed to buying the naming rights for the stadium that would allow Missouri to keep ownership of the Rams. The Rams have responded (or at least benefited from coincidence), with St. Louis Magazine (via Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal) reporting that the proposed stadium would cost taxpayers $215 million more than previously believed.
That’s the kind of thing that can get the attention of politicians, especially at a time when the national mood has changed dramatically regarding the concept of subsidizing stadiums for sports teams owned by billionaires. If (as the thinking goes) Rams owner Stan Kroenke, one of the richest men in the world, is going to pay for his own stadium in Los Angeles, why shouldn’t he pay for his own stadium in St. Louis?
The mentality actually helps Kroenke, because he doesn’t want taxpayer money to shackle him to St. Louis. He wants to pay for his own stadium — and he also wants to pick the location for it.
While the information came to St. Louis Magazine via an open records request, the timing suggests that someone specifically selected the two-day window of October 6-7 to drop the news, in the hopes of throwing a wrench into the plan by some owners to let the Chargers move to San Diego and to keep the Rams in St. Louis, with a new stadium partially funded by taxpayers.
If that extra $215 million keeps the St. Louis stadium from being built, it becomes a lot harder to keep the Rams in St. Louis. Which makes it easier for Kroenke to keep his L.A. plan on track.
Injured UCLA star Myles Jack had talked it over with head coach Jim Mora, heard his concerns, but thought he had his former coach’s blessing to withdraw from school to prepare for his NFL career.
Little did he know Mora was going to take shots at his decision, saying it was “very risky to do this” with just three games of film from his junior season for NFL scouts to evaluate.
(Never mind that Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie was drafted 19th overall with no games of film from his junior season because of a torn ACL, Mora has a UCLA program to run here.)
“It was kind of a brief conversation, straight and to the point, and we just came to the agreement that it was the best decision,” Jack told Michael Silver of the NFL Network. “It went pretty smoothly. He wanted to make sure I was 100-percent sure, and that it was really what I wanted to do, and not just what others wanted.
“In the end, he said that if that’s what I want to do, he would back me up 1,000 percent, and that whatever I needed to do to try to get to the next level, he would help me any way he could.”
So Jack was taken aback to hear Mora’s remarks, but was comfortable with his own call.
“It definitely surprised me, but I don’t know — maybe that’s what he felt,” Jack said. “I mean, it’s a little crazy down there right now. They just suffered their first defeat [to Arizona State], and these are crazy times around here. But I’m still riding with the Bruins.
“Coming from him, I can’t discredit what he’s done in the NFL, so I have to value his opinion. I have no choice but to respect his opinion and take what he says into consideration. The only scout I know is my head coach, so what he says, I have to take it seriously. But I’m definitely glad I made the decision.”
Jack shouldn’t be surprised, as colleges take very seriously their custody of the practically unpaid interns who provide the labor for their multi-million dollar corporations.
“I remember when I was a freshman I saw them selling my jersey [at the student store],” Jack said. “I looked at the price tag: $65.99. I said, ‘Ah, man, that’s messed up.'”
So instead of protecting their financial interest, he chose his own. He said he plans to return to UCLA to finish his degree at some point, which is smart, since the average NFL career is around four seasons, and he’s already recovering from a major knee injury. But by that time, he won’t be able to help Mora, so it’s little surprise the support he thought he had didn’t last long.
The kicking carousel may be spinning in Buffalo.
The Bills have announced that kicker Billy Cundiff, most recently with the Browns, has been added to the roster. The Bills already have kicker Dan Carpenter. At least for now.
Through four games, Carpenter has missed two of seven field goal attempts and one of 12 PATs. It’s possible Cundiff was signed because Carpenter is injured; he was probable last week with a left knee injury.
To create a roster spot for Cundiff, the Bills released kickoff specialist Jordan Gay.
The Bills also have signed receiver Denarius Moore. Cut by the Bengals before the regular-season opener after starting his career in Oakland, Moore was solid as a rookie but then gradually faded. He replaces receiver Marcus Thigpen on the roster.
When Calvin Johnson was the best receiver in the league, Calvin Johnson was Megatraon. Even with two defenders obsessed with his every move, Megatron would run past them, accelerate to the ball, and make contested catches.
But Calvin Johnson isn’t Megatron anymore. He no longer runs away from coverage, no longer sprints to the ball and makes the big catch. Calvin Johnson has become a possession receiver, generating stats via underneath routes or breaking off attempts to run deep and coming back for a shorter throw.
On multiple occasions on Monday night against the Seahawks, quarterback Matthew Stafford tried to find Calvin Johnson down the field, but couldn’t connect. ESPN’s Mike Tirico blamed one of the incompletions on Stafford. In past years, however, Johnson would have gotten to the ball.
Now, barely a week past his 30th birthday, Johnson is showing his age and the wear and tear that has resulted in Johnson constantly battling knee and ankle problems. This is allowing defenses to use one guy to cover Johnson instead of two, making it harder for the rest of the Lions offense to operate.
That said, he’s still on pace for more than 100 catches and more than 1,000 yards this year (assuming he plays in every game). But that’s a long way from a league record of 1,964 yards in 2012, and it’s not nearly enough to justify a $24 million cap number in 2016. Which means that it’ll likely be a new contract or a new team for Johnson in 2016 — unless Megatron unexpectedly returns.
When Roddy White says things such as “I’m not out here just f—ing around just to sit around to just block f—ing people all day,” it’s easy to surmise that he might be something less than gruntled.
But White said that’s not true, that he’s perfectly fine with his role with the Falcons.
Upset with the perception created by yesterday’s ESPN.com report that he wasn’t happy with how he was being used, White called D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to clear the air.
“I’m here for one thing and that’s to win,” White said. “This is nothing to get mad over. I can’t control no plays that are being called in the huddle. All I can do is run the routes I’m supposed to run on the play and do my job. That’s all I can do.”
White’s role has diminished gradually, and he had a streak of 130 straight games with a reception stopped against the Giants. Leonard Hankerson has emerged as their new No. 2 option behind Julio Jones, limiting the chances he’s getting. But he’s convinced they’ll come.
“I know that I’m going to get my chances because of how people are going to play us,” White said. “[Doubling Julio is] the only chance that people have in playing us. I’m going to get the ball. I’m not really concerned.”
But it sounded like he was yesterday, he’s the quick effort to jam the toothpaste back in the tube, rather than disrupt a 4-0 start for the Falcons.
The Giants were hoping to have wide receiver Victor Cruz back in the lineup by now, but he suffered a setback in his return from a calf injury last week and there’s no sense that his return to the field is imminent.
That would help explain why the team has added another wideout to their 53-man roster on Tuesday. The team announced that they have promoted Myles White from the practice squad to take the roster spot opened by placing tight end Daniel Fells on injured reserve with a staph infection.
White joined the Giants in early September after he was released by the Packers when they brought veteran James Jones. Jones had been with the Giants during training camp and the preseason, but the team decided there wasn’t a place for him on their roster.
That decision has come in for some criticism the last few weeks. Jones has 17 catches and four touchdowns for the Packers while the Giants cut wideout Preston Parker after five drops in the first two weeks while playing a role normally filled by Cruz. The Giants might want to do that one over, but they’ll have to settle for another former Packers receiver.
The Bills’ defense has had communication problems.
New Dolphins coach Dan Campbell has shared some tough talk, but will his team be tough on the field?
The Patriots’ defense is focused on stopping the run.
Aside from one lateral, the Jets like what they see from WR Brandon Marshall.
The Texans aren’t making changes to their offensive line.
Penalties are a concern in Jacksonville.
Chargers coach Mike McCoy couldn’t watch as his team lined up for a game-winning field goal.
The Giants are adding four names to their Ring of Honor.
The Bears are making a bunch of roster moves beyond just the trades that drew attention last week.
Is there a culture of defeat in Detroit?
The Vikings feel like they’ve built a solid foundation for a winning season.
The Falcons are favored to improve to 5-0.
The Panthers have flip-flopped a couple players at the bottom of their roster.
Bucs coach Lovie Smith states the obvious: You can’t miss five of seven field goals and two extra points and keep your job as an NFL kicker.
The results of the first quarter of the season bode well for the Cardinals.
Rams LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar is back and has his old jersey number.
Raiders safety Charles Woodson turns 39 on Wednesday and he knows exactly what he wants for his birthday.
During a Tuesday appearance on NFL Network, Woodson said that he would like to add Peyton Manning to the list of quarterbacks he’s intercepted during Sunday’s game against the Broncos. None of Woodson’s 62 career interceptions have come against Manning, who Woodson edged in voting for the 1997 Heisman Trophy.
“It would be great, man. He’s eluded me for 18 years,” Woodson said. “It would be great. It would be even better if we could come out with the victory. But it would be great to get my hands on one of Peyton’s balls.”
Given how well the Broncos defense is playing right now, the Raiders are going to need their defense to make plays if they’re going to hand Denver its first loss of the season. Given the way the Broncos offense has played, that seems like a realistic possibility even if it isn’t Woodson who winds up making them.
Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski doesn’t think we’re in the midst of a kicking crisis. If anything, he thinks we may be a little spoiled.
Gostkowski said that despite this weekend’s rash of misses, which led to a number of changes at the position, he doesn’t think the craft of kicking is suffering.
“I honestly don’t think of it that way,” he said, via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. “That’s just me personally. Obviously kicking is very mental and if you do struggle it is a little harder to go out there with confidence, but the good ones, if they miss they can bounce right back and make the next one. There are a lot of reasons why guys can miss — it isn’t always just black and white — but you just have to learn to move on from it. That’s just the approach I take. I’ve missed plenty of kicks before.
“I think the kickers have been so good the past couple years that it just looks different. There are still plenty of guys doing well, it’s just easier to point out the guys that miss.”
He specifically mentioned kickers such as Justin Tucker and Adam Vinatieri making crucial kicks late in games, and as he’s one of the better ones in the game, it’s reasonable to accept that he’s found a valid mental approach to his job.
He’s made 80-of-85 field goals since the start of 2013 season, and set the league record for consecutive points after with 425 earlier this season.
“I don’t over-think it any more,” he said. “I’ve been doing it too long to worry about what other people are doing. . . . I don’t concern myself with other guys, and try to compare or contrast or anything like that. I don’t root for guys to miss or anything like that. If I watch football, I just watch as a fan.”
And from his view, it’s not bad enough to panic about.
So why is Kevin Coyle still serving as the defensive coordinator of the Dolphins? Possibly because Jim Schwartz opted not to take the job.
During Tuesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, Jeff Darlington of NFL Media talked about the possibility of the former Lions coach and, more recently, Bills defensive coordinator joining the Dolphins in that capacity. Schwartz would have been an ideal choice, given that he coached defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh from 2010 through 2013.
After Suh signed with the Dolphins in March, Schwartz said there was no risk of a drop in play. “He certainly had the talent and the commitment to back up that contract,” Schwartz said at the time. “I don’t think there is a lot of risk for him having a decline in play.
But Schwartz declined to coach Suh again. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the Dolphins “touched base” with Schwartz, and he “decided to stay where he is.” Schwartz currently is serving as a consultant for the league’s officiating department.
It’s unclear whether the current role diminishes his buyout from the Bills, who let him go after only one season of running the team’s defense. Taking the job in Miami definitely would have chewed directly into the money he’s getting through the end of his Buffalo contract, which means he would have been working for free in South Florida.
Schwartz and Dolphins executive V.P. of football operations Mike Tannenbaum worked together nearly for free in Cleveland in the ’90s, and they actually were roommates for a short time. That connection wasn’t strong enough to lure Schwartz to Miami, where he may have had an opportunity to demonstrate through on-the-job performance that he should be considered for the full-time position come 2016.
Schwartz saying “no thanks,” then, may have been good news for interim coach Dan Campbell, who surely hopes to do enough to shed the “interim” label. It definitely was good news for Coyle, who likely would have been shed from the organization if Schwartz had agreed to join the team.