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After falling behind early this morning in London, the Giants have come back in a big way, thanks to Landon Collins.
Collins, the Giants’ second-year strong safety, made one of the greatest interception returns you’ve ever seen, picking off a deflected pass and weaving back and forth, dodging several Rams tacklers and eventually bowling his way into the end zone. The 44-yard return stands as one of the best plays of this NFL season.
Early in the game it was all Rams, as they forced a fumble on the Giants’ first possession, scored a touchdown on their subsequent possession, and then added a field goal to lead 10-0. But the Giants made a field goal of their own to cut the deficit to 10-3, and the spectacular Collins return tied the score.
The London fans are getting a better game than they’re accustomed to, and there’s still plenty of time to go.
“Obviously, it’s frustrating not to have Ben out there, but you have to be positive and poised,” Brown said Friday, via Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We have to build Landry up. We can’t be getting in his ear every play and saying, ‘I’m open.’ Obviously, I know I’m going to draw a lot of double teams and a lot of different matchups. We have to keep him poised, create separation for him, make plays for him and keep him positive all game.”
It’s almost as if Brown was anticipating the moment in 2016 when Jones would get another chance to play.
“I’ve been working with Landry a lot,” Brown said. “Every pregame we throw routes together, communicate a lot in the film room. We’re just excited to have the opportunity to go out and play together this weekend.”
Jones has every incentive to play well, given that he’s in a contract year. With the NFL’s supply of quarterbacks not close to meeting its demand, Jones could be in position to demand a big contract from someone else if he can get it done for however long Roethlisberger will be out due to a torn meniscus in his knee.
As the Browns and Bengals prepare for the first of their two annual meetings on Sunday, the in-state rivalry has a new layer of intrigue.
Browns coach Hue Jackson had become a valued member of the coaching staff in Cincinnati — so valued that Marvin Lewis wanted to eventually hand the baton to Hue.
Lewis mentioned the possibility of Jackson succeeding Lewis earlier this week. Jackson later confirmed it.
“That is Marvin’s football team,” Jackson said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “He’s been there a long time. It’s hard to ever replace a best friend that way and be there waiting behind. I didn’t think it was the right thing for me to do. I didn’t think it would be right for their team.”
Jackson called the chance to lead the Browns the “right fit” and the “right opportunity.”
“I’m where I’m supposed to be right now,” Jackson said.
Though the Browns have yet to win on Hue’s watch, they’ve been competitive. With Jackson knowing the coaching staff and personnel in Cincinnati intimately, the Browns may have an edge on Sunday to end their annual run of futility, at least for one day.
In time, it won’t be that way, if the fans and ownership remain patient. Although it’s tempting to believe that a generation of frustration will continue indefinitely, Jackson and company could be the franchise’s best shot to turn things around since the franchise previously known as the Browns packed up and left for Baltimore.
Fans in Los Angeles who couldn’t get up early enough to watch the start of the Rams’ game in London missed an early touchdown.
Giants tight end Larry Donnell caught the first pass of the game but fumbled it, and the Rams recovered. (That fumble was confirmed on replay review and London fans — perhaps more accustomed to soccer, which doesn’t have long replay delays — booed the announcement that the play would be reviewed.)
With good field position, the Rams’ offense moved the ball easily, with Austin also rushing for 10 yards in addition to his 10-yard touchdown catch.
Now we’ll see if the Giants can wake up and make an early morning game of it.
The trade deadline is only nine days away. And while plenty of transactions could still happen between now and 4:00 p.m. ET on November 1, it’s hard to currently identify any real chatter regarding specific players.
It’s still a little early for teams to engage in full-blown fire sales. With two more games to be played for most teams between now and the trade deadline, that 1-5 record could be 3-5 by the Tuesday after Week Eight. Or 1-7.
Or, in the case of the Browns, 0-8.
The Browns will be at the center of the speculation, regarding a potential trade of veteran left tackle Joe Thomas. Last year, the Broncos reportedly were talking to the Browns about a trade for Thomas, and this year’s contending teams are only one injury to a starting tackle away from becoming quickly interested.
Other non-contending teams should be looking at players who could be swapped for 2017 draft picks. The 1-6 Bears could be tempted to move receiver Alshon Jeffery; however, his contract status could make it hard to get much value, given that his new team wouldn’t be able to sign him to a new contract until after the regular season ends. The 1-5 Jets could be thinking about a fire sale aimed at stockpiling picks; if there’s any lingering issue between receiver Brandon Marshall and defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, why not consider moving one or both of them?
The 49ers also could be/should be looking at ways to unload some veterans in exchange for draft picks, if they keep sliding into irrelevance.
Then there are the Patriots, who seem to find ways to bring in contract-year players who either will be re-signed after the season or allowed to leave via free agency, giving the Patriots a better haul of compensatory picks in 2017.
Regardless, it’s still a little early for the trade talk to heat up. Based on what happens with some of the league’s bad teams over the next nine days, plenty could still happen.
As the Sunday morning talking heads begin the process of talking about the potential reaction by teammates to the knowledge that Giants kicker Josh Brown engaged in abuse of his ex-wife more widespread than grabbing her wrist in May 2015, it’s important to remember one key fact: Brown’s ex-wife contends they already knew.
“Several of Josh’s teammates were aware of the abuse in their relationship,” wrote King County Detective Robin Ostrum, “but it is clear none of them did anything to call it to the attention of the team management or take action to help Molly out. Molly feared that people from the NFL/Giants would pressure her into making all of this go away, so that Josh and the team would not face any negative press. Molly was very upfront that in her experience, the NFL publically [sic] says that they have a no tolerance policy on Domestic Violence, but the reality is that they do more crisis management and look to cover things up.”
Ultimately, the criminal charges did not materialize because Molly Brown decided not to force the issue, possibly due to concerns that she expressed regarding the financial implications arising from the Giants severing ties with Josh. The police report makes it clear that she was torn over worries that, on one hand, the team would abruptly cut him and that, on the other hand, the team would try to brush it all under the rug and to create the impression that she was making things up.
Now that the police report has emerged, the Giants and the NFL have been forced by fan and media reaction to do what they should have done in the first place, based on the apparent extent of the abuse. Regardless, none of this should be news to some of Brown’s teammates, based on the things Molly Brown told the authorities in Seattle.
Can the Dolphins reverse recent history and beat the Bills?
After years of playing for him, the Bengals offense will be trying to beat Hue Jackson this weekend.
The Browns remain an outlier in the Cleveland sports renaissance.
The Steelers defense will be under pressure on Sunday.
Monday is another tough road game for the Texans.
The Titans running game looks like a bad matchup for the Colts.
Remembering Jack Del Rio’s time as Jaguars coach ahead of a matchup with the Raiders.
The Chiefs aren’t listening to critics of their offensive style.
Said Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano, “I’m heading to church right after this. To be able to stop Julio [Jones], we’re going to have to do some serious praying.”
The Cowboys coaching staff has looked good during the team’s 5-1 start.
Trying to evaluate Bears coach John Fox’s work is more difficult thanks to injuries all over the roster.
The Lions defense will be tested this weekend.
Vikings tight ends coach Pat Shurmur is one of the team’s connections to the Eagles.
LSU sent alums with the Falcons a package this week.
The Panthers need to get their pass rush going after the bye.
Will the Buccaneers be able to take advantage of the 49ers’ run defense?
WR DeAndre Smelter is trying for a second chance with the 49ers.
The Giants didn’t give wide receiver Odell Beckham an injury designation on their final injury report of the week, which means they had no doubt that he would be in the lineup on Sunday.
It seems there are still some concerns about how his hip is feeling, however. Beckham hurt his hip against the Ravens last weekend and missed the opening practice of the week before returning to work on Thursday and Friday. Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com reports that Beckham spent an extended period of time with trainers while the rest of the team’s wide receivers were going through warmups ahead of the Giants’ matchup with the Rams in London.
That hasn’t caused a change in Beckham’s game status as he’s in the lineup for the game. Whether he’s limited by the injury at any point during the game will be something to keep an eye on, especially after Beckham’s big game helped the Giants snap their three-game losing streak last week.
Quarterback Josh Johnson, wide receiver Tavarres King, safety Darian Thompson, safety Nat Berhe, linebacker Deontae Skinner, offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse and defensive tackle Robert Thomas are inactive for the Giants.
Defensive tackle Michael Brockers and cornerback Trumaine Johnson were ruled out by the Rams during the week. They’re joined on the inactive list by guard Jamon Brown, wide receiver Nelson Spruce, wide receiver Pharoh Cooper, offensive lineman Pace Murphy and quarterback Sean Mannion.
Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert declared himself ready to make his 2016 debut this week, although the Bengals stopped short of ruling Eifert into the lineup when they released their final injury report of the week.
Eifert has missed the last couple of games with the back injury he suffered just as it appeared he was ready to get back on the field after offseason ankle surgery. He practiced each day this week, drawing a questionable tag, and Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that he is expected to play limited snaps against the Browns.
It wouldn’t be surprising if some of those snaps come in the red zone. Eifert was tough to stop in that area of the field last season and the Bengals have not been as effective on that front as they were with Eifert in the lineup last season.
Bills running back LeSean McCoy appears ready to contribute today, if not quite as much as usual.
McCoy is expected to play and get about 25-35 snaps against the Dolphins, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.
That would represent a reduction in the normal workload for McCoy, who has averaged 47.5 snaps a game so far this season. But it would still allow him to contribute to the Bills’ offense.
McCoy left practice Wednesday with hamstring tightness, and initial reports had him out for Sunday. But McCoy made the trip to Miami and now appears good to go, if not for quite his usual role in the offense.
McCoy leads the Bills with 104 carries for 587 yards and six touchdowns this season and is also third on the team with 20 catches. If he sees a reduction in playing time today, Mike Gillislee should be expected to get more carries, and that could be a good thing for the Bills: Gillislee is averaging 6.9 yards a carry in limited work so far this season.
As the NFL reopens its investigation of Josh Brown, its hands could be tied by the policies that were in place at the time any other incidents of alleged domestic violence occurred.
The NFL’s new six-game baseline suspension for first-offense domestic violence was adopted after the Ray Rice situation in 2014, as a response to the intense media and fan reaction to the decision to suspend Rice for only two games once video of his conduct finally surfaced. The new procedures don’t apply to anything that happened before the procedures were adopted.
As to Brown, the authorities in King County, Washington identified two potential incidents of domestic violence: One occurred in May 2015, and the other occurred in May 2014. Brown already has been suspended one game for the incident in 2015, which came with the new policies in place.
The other incident predated the changes to the rules, which would force the league to use the prior approach. For a first offense, Brown would be suspended two games.
The next question is whether other incidents of domestic violence could be proven by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., more likely that not) based only on information from Josh Brown, the police report that finally has been issued, and the record and journals created by Brown. Possibly, separate acts of domestic violence could be stacked against Brown, the way they were for Greg Hardy.
At some point, the question becomes whether the NFL would attempt to impose enhanced discipline for the May 2015 incident, based on supposedly aggravating factors of past misconduct or the argument that the May 2015 incident was a second (or third, or fourth, etc.) offense. That will be harder for the league to pull off, because Brown already has been disciplined for the May 2015 incident.
Ultimately, none of it may matter. Josh Brown quickly has become synonymous with Ray Rice, and there are plenty of men who can do what Brown does. Whatever the official punishment eventually imposed by the NFL, Brown likely will become a pariah, with his only remaining NFL paychecks coming for however long he remains on the Commissioner-Exempt list.
If there’s a silver lining in the ongoing free fall of the New York Jets, it comes from receiver Brandon Marshall learning how to handle tough times.
“I’m growing, man,” Marshall told NJ.com on Friday. “I’m growing as an individual. Obviously, it hasn’t been perfect. But through adversity, character is built. I’m not saying I’ve been perfect throughout it, because it’s really difficult to handle.
“But that’s one of the positives from this start is, I love how I’m maturing and handling things better than I have in the past, when you’re in a losing locker room or when adversity hits. That’s been one of the things I’ve really focused on. I’ve got to continue to grow.”
Marshall added that his relationship with defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson is “good” after a Week Three run in.
“We have had our moments, whether it’s in practice or in meetings, had a lot of conversations. Everyone comes from different walks of life, and don’t always see things the right way,” Marshall said.
Richardson apparently doesn’t see why Marshall chose to talk about the situation.
“That’s Brandon, bro,” Richardson told NJ.com. “I’ve got nothing to talk about on that note. It’s locker room business. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”
Teammates aren’t supposed to fight with each other, either. But it definitely happens on losing teams. For the 2016 Jets, the fighting began in before the losing even started, with Marshall and cornerback Darrelle Revis getting into it during practice.
Frankly, Marshall’s maturity may be relative. The Broncos, Dolphins, and Bears each traded him.
With nine days left in this year’s trading window, maybe a fourth trade would be the best move for the team and for the player, who has still not yet played in a single postseason game.
With NFL Europe/Europa/Whateva long gone and the Arena Football League close to joining it in extinction, football players not yet ready for the NFL have limited options for developing their game. And so the NFL continues to discuss the possibility of launching a developmental league.
“We’ve talked about it,” Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters earlier this week. “Some of you may have heard we spent a fair amount of time at the [quarterly] meeting on what we call the 2020 plan, which is talking about how we plan for the future and the things we want to accomplish. One of them is obviously the game, and how do we improve the game? A developmental league could be something that we want to do to try to help develop players.
“We pick up on the rosters from the start of the season to the end of the season, probably three to four hundred players on average. Having those players ready to play as quickly as possible and developed so that their skill set’s furthered are all positive things about the long-term future of the game. I particularly have an interest in that and would like to make sure we’re evaluating that as something that can help improve the game and improve our players.”
A developmental league particularly is needed for the quarterback position, where not nearly enough players are good enough to play at the NFL level. But a developmental league also would be useful for all other positions, along with officiating, coaching, and scouting.
The question is whether the NFL could make money from a developmental league and, if not, the amount of losses the league would be willing to tolerate. NFL Europe wasn’t profitable, and the league eventually decided to stop the sangre.
Some owners may see no reason to give players not yet ready to earn a roster spot a chance to do so — and plenty of players with one of those roster spots may agree. Still, there’s a need for game-ready talent when injuries inevitably occur.
Given the ongoing decline in TV ratings, the NFL also should be wary of potentially diluting the product by adding more football in presumably markets not currently served by the NFL. Would the fans in those markets support a minor league team? If so, would they be less likely to support a nearby NFL team?
As every other professional league has learned in the past 40 years, Americans love football — but only so much of it. Between high school, college, and the NFL, the saturation point possibly has been reached. Before the NFL adds even more football in the interests of developing better football, the NFL should be sure that the effort won’t fail miserably.
The Buccaneers made a wide receiver swap Saturday, promoting Freddie Martino from the practice squad and waiving Donteea Dye.
Martino has previously spent time this season on both the active roster and the practice squad. He’s played in two games.
Dye could land back on the practice squad next week.
Earlier this week the Bucs placed veteran wide receiver Vincent Jackson on injured reserve.
Bills running back LeSean McCoy still may not play in Sunday’s game at Miami with a hamstring injury, but he still hasn’t been ruled out.
McCoy has made the trip to South Florida, PFT confirms. The news was first reported by Jeff Darlington of ESPN.
While it’s possible a ruse aimed at making the Dolphins think they’ll be facing McCoy, if his hamstring injury is bad enough to keep him from playing, it wouldn’t be a good idea to take him to Miami.
This doesn’t mean McCoy will definitely play. But it means that he still could.