ProFootballTalk: Biggest Super Bowl concerns
Lucky Whitehead took one final shot at the Cowboys on Wednesday.
The former Cowboys receiver, claimed off waivers by the Jets, tweeted a simple message: 17″. It was something of an inside joke.
The Cowboys’ wore the 17-inches motto on T-shirts last season. It is in reference to a story made famous by late college baseball coach John Scolinos, who won three Division II national championships at Cal Poly Pomona.
Home plate is 17 inches wide in Little League, high school, college and Major League Baseball. The moral of the story: The size of the plate never changes, so expectations shouldn’t either.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett frequently retells Scolinos’ story, most recently last week at a coaching clinic at the team training facility, and then explains what accountability means.
“If you follow our football team, you see guys walking around our building, going out to practice, they’ve got T-shirts that have 17 inches on them,” Garrett told the youth coaches. “It’s a reminder to me as the coach of the football team; it’s a reminder to our coaching staff; it’s a reminder to each and every one of those guys what the standards are. The standards ain’t changing; they ain’t changing. They are what they are. Home plate is 17 inches wide, and it’s our job to hold everybody accountable to them — the best player you’ve got, the best kid you’ve got. We have to hold ourselves and each other accountable to them.
“But here’s the issue: Accountability isn’t infallibility. . . .There was one guy who went through this life making no mistakes. That was a long, long time ago. The rest of us will make mistakes. . . . Accountability means OK, this is what the standard is. We fell short of it. Own it. No excuses. No explanations. This is where I am. This is what I need to do to live up to what those standards are. That’s what accountability is, and that’s our job. That’s my job. That’s my most important job.”
The injury bug already is biting the Baltimore Ravens right in the butt.
With running back Kenneth Dixon already gone for the year due to a knee injury, NFL Media reports that quarterback Joe Flacco is preparing to missed 3-6 weeks due to a disc issue in his back. At a minimum, he’ll miss a week or two.
Even the best-case scenario makes this an ominous situation for the Ravens and the 32-year-old Flacco, given that back injuries once they develop tend to not suddenly disappear for good.
The other quarterbacks on the roster are Ryan Mallett and Dustin Vaughn. So the Ravens may need to add someone.
If only there were an available free-agent quarterback who has been coached by Senior Offensive Assistant Greg Roman and/or the brother of head coach John Harbaugh.
UPDATE 9:14 p.m. ET: A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the team expects Flacco to miss “a week or so,” and that they will let him rest while it heals.
Congress has essentially sent a collection letter to the NFL.
Via Deadspin.com, an item of correspondence dated July 26, 2017 from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce to Commissioner Roger Goodell primarily has one purpose: To ask the league to cough up $18 million in money previously committed to the National Institutes of Health for the Sports Health and Research Program.
The letter from four members of the committee also asks the NFL whether it plans to renew the agreement that established the Sports Health and Research Program, and whether the NFL plans to provide additional funding beyond its original $30 million commitment, $12 million of which has been paid. The committee seeks a response no later than August 11.
Last year, a Congressional report accused the NFL of rescinding $16 million of that same $30 million NIH gift, allegedly due to the league’s disagreement with the NIH’s selection of a researcher to oversee testing aimed at detecting Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in living patients. Days later, Goodell wrote a letter to all owners and team presidents explaining that the $30 million gift would be honored.
It may still be honored, but with only one month left in the original five-year agreement establishing the Sports Health and Research Program, the NFL still hasn’t kicked in the $18 million. Unless the agreement is going to be extended, there may be no way to use the money, if it’s ever paid.
The NFL has told the Washington Post that the league is “currently engaged in constructive discussions” with the NIH regarding the issue. Which sort of sounds something like “the check is in the mail.”
“Cardale is a good young talent, and he’s going to add competition behind Philip Rivers,” Lynn said, via the team website. “He’s the type of quarterback you want waiting on the runway. He’s going to have the opportunity to come on the field and compete. Cardale is someone we think can be developed.”
Jones had a limited college career, completing only 166 of 269 passes for 2,322 yards with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions. But he improbably led Ohio State to a national championship in 2014, passing for 742 yards with six total touchdowns in the Big Ten championship, Allstate Sugar Bowl and College Football Playoff National Championship.
The Bills made him a fourth-round pick last year based on that potential.
“When he started, the team didn’t lose,” Lynn said. “You’re talking about 11 starts, and he went undefeated in all of them. He never lost a game. Now, he did get benched but that’s because he didn’t fit the style of system their coach wanted. But I think that benefited him because he learned from it. He was able to learn from the system they wanted, and he’s able to do certain things that mobile quarterbacks can do because he did them throughout college. So he’s coming in here, and he’ll have a chance to compete for a spot.”
Rivers has never missed a start since he became the starter in 2006, but the Chargers still sought help at the position behind him. Kellen Clemens has served as the Chargers’ backup at quarterback the past two seasons, and Los Angeles has two developmental prospects on the roster in Mike Bercovici and Eli Jenkins.
Jones saw action in only one game last season, completing 6 of 11 passes for 96 yards with an interception in the Bills’ season finale.
“He only played a quarter,” Lynn said. “He didn’t play a whole lot, and that was a tough situation for everybody. The team had just fired the head coach three days before, so it was hard on everybody. He wasn’t even supposed to play in the game, but I thought we might as well put him in for a quarter.”
The Broncos remain without a naming-rights deal for their stadium.
They prepare for another season at Sports Authority Field at Mile High despite taking over control of the naming rights last August after the sports equipment company filed for bankruptcy. The Broncos had expressed optimism at getting a new deal for 2017, but absent one, they will keep the Sports Authority signage at the stadium until they find a new partner.
“I’m a little disappointed in that,” Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis told Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post. “On the other hand, there’s a lot that goes into these deals, and some of them take longer periods of time than others. Some are quicker than the timetable we’ve been on. I’m looking forward to getting a deal done, but it has to be the right deal, and we’ve had discussions and we have a few more coming up. I’m not going to reveal who they’re with. It has to be the right partner, and there’s a lot of different components to it.”
Ellis knows the Broncos will have to modernize the 16-year-old stadium in attempts to keep up with new buildings in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Las Vegas as well as the game-day experience offered by the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame has released the order in which new inductees will be enshrined and, in turn, their speeches will be delivered. Somewhat surprisingly, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones isn’t going last.
Instead, the final man to take the podium will be quarterback Kurt Warner. Jones will be the next-to-last man standing. And speaking.
The full order will be Kenny Easley, Jason Taylor, Morten Andersen, Terrell Davis, LaDainian Tomlinson, Jones, and Warner.
It will be interesting to see whether the new Hall of Famers comply with guidelines aimed at keeping the speeches manageable in length. Sometimes, however, a long speech isn’t necessarily a bad speech. Last year, Brett Favre filibustered at the microphone (shocker), but he was really, really good.
The enshrinement ceremony will happen on Saturday, August 5, two days after the Hall of Fame Game between the Cowboys and Cardinals. The game has been moved to Thursday night in order to avoid a repeat of last year’s cancellation of the game, which happened during failed efforts to prepare the field for a Sunday game following the Saturday ceremony.
The Bills traded quarterback Cardale Jones to the Chargers for a conditional draft choice. The conditional pick is a seventh-rounder, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Jones was unlikely to make the Bills roster after falling to fourth on the depth chart behind Tyrod Taylor, T.J. Yates and fifth-round pick Nathan Peterman. Taylor and Yates both previously played under new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison.
The Bills selected Jones in the fourth round of the 2016 draft under a different front office and different coaching staff.
The former Ohio State star played only one game last season, going 6-for-11 for 96 yards and an interception in the season finale.
The trade reunites him with Anthony Lynn, now the Chargers head coach after being the running backs coach, then the offensive coordinator and then the interim head coach in Buffalo last season.
The Chargers worked out Robert Griffin III this week as they sought a backup to Philip Rivers. They have veteran Kellen Clemens and undrafted free agents Mike Bercovici and Eli Jenkins on the roster behind Rivers before Wednesday’s trade.
The Vikings placed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater on the physically unable to perform list after his physical, the team announced Wednesday. The move allows for the possibility of moving Bridgewater to the reserve PUP list for the start of the regular season.
Bridgewater has not practiced in 11 months since a left knee injury during training camp. The severe knee injury included a dislocation and several torn ligaments.
Bridgewater threw without a knee brace in July after posting an Instagram video in March of him working in a brace.
He will speak to reporters for the first time since the injury on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. CT.
The Saints made several moves Wednesday, a day before training camp begins.
Coach Sean Payton announced they placed receiver Dan Arnold on injured reserve along with Dannell Ellerbe. Arnold, whom the Saints signed June 5, was injured during OTAs.
The Saints waived running back/kick returner Marcus Murphy.
Murphy joined the Saints as a seventh-round pick in 2015. He contributed mostly on special teams the past two seasons but ball security issues prompted the Saints to make Murphy inactive on game day for the final 13 games. The offseason additions of running backs Adrian Peterson and Alvin Kamara and receiver/returner Ted Ginn Jr. made Murphy expendable.
The Saints also placed center Chris Watt on the reserve/retired list. Watt joined the Saints shortly after the team’s three-day mandatory minicamp in June.
Ezekiel Elliott’s moves so far have impressed. He’s looked good on the field in three days of practices and has dodged reporters afterward.
While Elliott isn’t talking, teammates are. They say the Cowboys running back hasn’t let an NFL investigation distract him.
“That’s something we always talk about when we always come out here — all your personal problems, you have to leave them at the door,” veteran running back Darren McFadden said, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I feel like he does a great job with that. Once you come out here playing football, you’re playing football and everything else going on off the field, you have to worry about that later.”
The NFL’s investigation into a domestic abuse allegation against Elliott has lasted more than a year. ESPN’s Adam Schefter recently reported the league could give Elliott a short suspension to start the season despite the fact that the incident lacked enough evidence for the Columbus (Ohio) city prosecutor’s office to pursue charges.
“We don’t even talk about it,” veteran running back Alfred Morris said. “It’s not that it’s not happening or not pending or whatever, it’s just that we have a job to do. You have to leave the off the field off the field.”
It’s a new era in the NFL for travel, and changes to plane availability have resulted in multiple teams switching from one plane to two for road trips.
PFT has learned that at least three teams will be using two planes this year: The Steelers, Bills, and Dolphins. (We became aware of the issue via a report from Andy Slater of WINZ regarding the Dolphins using two planes.)
The Bills will be using two planes for most trips, but not of all of them.
Earlier this year, several teams had to scramble to find air service when American restricted access. As one league source recently explained it to PFT, the airlines simply have realized that they can make more money by using planes in more traditional ways.
It’s odd to see the NFL at the mercy of the airline industry, because usually it’s pretty much everyone else who’s at the mercy of the NFL. This has sparked some speculation that perhaps the best play for the league would be to maintain its own fleet of planes that would transport teams each and every weekend, when up to 16 teams travel. The planes then would be leased for use in the offseason to corporate groups and muckety-mucks who want to travel in a bird bedazzled with NFL logos.
If/when a non-mainstream outfit like Miami Air (all due respect) fails to get the Dolphins or Steelers to a game on time, that could be the trigger for change. Until then, the new normal will include lesser availability, greater expense, and in some cities multiple aircraft.
There are plenty of questions about the Bears as they enter training camp. The identity of their starting quarterback is not among them, as General Manager Ryan Pace has already declared.
“Glennon’s here for a reason,” Pace said, via J.J. Stankevitz of CSNChicago.com. “We evaluated him over the years. We’re very confident in him. Glennon’s our starter and we’re confident with that.
“This thing is going to have to play out. But Mike Glennon is our starting quarterback and I don’t think now is the time to deal in hypotheticals going forward.”
With that settled, the Bears can go on to figuring out who the starters around him will be, as Trubisky interns. Of course, with coach John Fox in a prove-it year anyway (and with a long-held preference for veteran quarterbacks instead of rookies), that might have been a moot point.
Whether Trubisky eventually wins the backup job from Mark Sanchez remains to be seen, but at the moment, No. 2 is as high on the depth chart as he’ll go.
Texans left tackle Duane Brown is holding out of training camp. The man who coaches him and the guy he primarily protects both tiptoed around the situation when talking to reporters on Wednesday.
“I’m just coaching the guys that are here,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien told reporters. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Duane. He’s been a captain for us my first three years here and he means a lot to me, but I’m going to really concentrate on the guys that are here and I’ll let [G.M.] Rick [Smith] handle that side of things.”
Quarterback Tom Savage took a similar approach to O’Brien’s.
“I guess all that stuff’s between him and the coach and the G.M. and all that,” Savage said. “I can’t really say much on that. He’s a good guy, though.”
It’s a smart play by Savage. Of course the quarterback wants Brown there. But he won’t be helping his own cause if he pressures Brown to show up or otherwise abandon his desire to improve his financial situation.
The Cowboys drafted Street in the fifth round in 2014. He spent two seasons in Dallas, playing in 30 games, mostly on special teams. He made nine catches for 132 yards and a touchdown with the Cowboys.
Dallas waived Street last year coming out of the preseason, and the Patriots signed him to their practice squad. He didn’t last long in New England, and the Colts added him to their active roster. Indianapolis released him before this year’s draft.
The Patriots claimed Street and then released him, and he signed with the Jets early last month.
Street, 26, played in five games with the Colts last season, making one catch for 20 yards.
John Ross broke the NFL Scouting Combine 40-yard dash record this spring, laying down a blazing 4.22-second time.
But he hasn’t done anything since, and won’t when the Bengals open training camp.
According to Geoff Hobson of the team’s official website, Ross “isn’t expected to make his Bengals practice debut for a couple of weeks.”
The first-rounder is coming off shoulder surgery, and hasn’t taken part in any of their offseason workouts or OTAs.
The Bengals were hoping he’d add a deep speed element to complement A.J. Green, but for the moment they’ll rely on veteran Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd in practice, until Ross gets back on the field.