Mike Florio catches up with Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, Titans head coach Mike Munchak, and Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland at the NFL Combine.
Mike Florio catches up with Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, Titans head coach Mike Munchak, and Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland at the NFL Combine.
The Eagles’ leading rusher is back on the field.
Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson said today that Ryan Mathews, who missed the last two games with a knee injury, is good to go and will practice today.
Mathews leads the Eagles with 102 carries for 427 yards and seven touchdowns this season, and with Mathews out the last two games Philadelphia’s offense has struggled in losses to the Packers and Bengals. The Eagles will hope that the return of Mathews gets the offense back on track on Sunday against Washington.
From time to time (or, basically, every year), Browns tackle Joe Thomas finds his name mentioned in trade talks. Ten years in to his NFL career, he seems to have no interest in leaving Cleveland.
“I’m a Clevelander,” the Wisconsin native told Elizabeth Merrill of ESPN The Magazine in a new profile. “I’ve spent the majority of my adult life here. Every day when I come to work, it’s ‘Let’s turn this team into a consistent winner.’ Because it would be such a special story. It would be like when the Cubs won the World Series. Everybody in the country has probably been cheering for them for so long because they’ve been suffering for so long. And you want to cheer for teams like the Browns.”
Well, Steelers, Bengals, and Ravens fans don’t want to cheer for the Browns — but it’s not unusual to believe that fans of other teams whose favorite teams are out of the running will latch onto a feel-good story, if/when good feelings ever happen for the Browns. And if/when they ever happen for the Browns, Thomas wants to be there.
“It’s so important for me to be here for the turnaround,” Thomas said. “I don’t want to just get a Super Bowl ring [by] being traded to a dream team. It would feel unsatisfying. Unfulfilling.”
As Merrill notes, Thomas was almost traded to the Broncos in 2015; agent Peter Schaffer told Merrill that, he and the Broncos simply “ran out of time.” In 2016, there was no serious run made at Thomas, and the Browns insisted that he wasn’t available.
Signed through 2018, it’s unclear how long the 32-year-old Thomas will continue to play. It’s even less clear whether the Browns turnaround will happen before he calls it quits and/or the team decides to go in a different direction.
Last month, it seemed as if Thomas was inclined to go in a different direction after saying that, when it come to a lack of talented players, the Browns have to “lie in the bed that you’ve made.” Thomas dismissed the reaction to his words.
“I think [the media] made a big deal out of it because they could, not because it actually was a big deal,” Thomas said. “If you say in life that you have consequences for your actions, that’s the most no-duh statement of all time.”
Thomas has endured the consequences of the actions of others for 10 years, because he has done everything he can to help the Browns win. If they can turn some of those many draft picks into more players like Thomas, the turnaround will happen. Finally.
The 2016 season has not seen the best of Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
Gostkowski went into last Sunday’s game against the Rams with four missed field goals in 20 tries and three missed extra points after making every regular season conversion attempt he’d tried since missing one during his rookie season. Gostkowski missed an extra point in last year’s AFC title game loss to the Broncos as well, which had some wondering if he’d lost some of his touch.
All was well last Sunday, however. Gostkowski bailed out a Patriots offense that struggled on third downs by making all four of his field goal attempts and hit both his extra point tries in a 26-10 victory. That made him the choice as the AFC special teams player of the week.
“Every week is a different challenge,” Gostkowski said, via CSNNE.com. “You just gotta battle. Keep your head down, stay humble, show up and control your attitude and your effort, make sure both of those are good, and have faith in the process that what you’ve been doing is going to continue to work.”
It’s the fifth time Gostkowski has earned the weekly honor, leaving him three back of his immediate predecessor Adam Vinatieri for the most in franchise history.
Ho, hum, another NFL award for Lions kicker Matt Prater.
Prater was named NFC special teams player of the week for his 5-for-5 effort on field goals in Sunday’s win over the Saints. Prater has now been special teams player of the week after three of the Lions’ last four games.
Prater and Barry Sanders are the only Lions ever to win a player of the week award three times in one season.
Add in Prater’s special teams player of the month award for November, and he’s picked up as many NFL awards as he has played in games over the last month. He’s a big part of the reason the Lions are in first place in the NFC North.
Not too many things have gone right for the Bears this season, but the emergence of defensive end Akiem Hicks is one of them.
Hicks was named NFC defensive player of the week after his two-sack performance against the 49ers last week.
It was his second multi-sack game of the season, after getting a pair against the Vikings earlier this year.
The free-agent pickup has played solidly, and if he were surrounded by more or healthy players, might be making a bigger difference.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck missed the team’s Week 12 loss to the Steelers because of a concussion and he made the Jets wish he remained out of commission when the two teams met on Monday night of Week 13.
Luck threw three touchdown passes to tight end Dwayne Allen in the first half of the game and added another to Donte Moncrief in the third quarter as the Colts rolled over the Jets 41-10 at MetLife Stadium. Luck was 22-of-28 for 278 yards overall and the Colts increased the logjam at the top of the AFC South by joining the Texans and Titans with a 6-6 record through 12 games.
On Tuesday, the NFL announced that Luck has been named the AFC offensive player of the week in recognition of those efforts. It’s the fourth time Luck has been so honored, leaving him behind Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James for the most weekly offensive awards in franchise history.
The game continued a bounce-back season for Luck, who threw 12 interceptions in seven games during an injury-ravaged 2015 season. This year’s results have been more in line with his previous efforts, all of which ended with a trip to the postseason. That outcome remains in play for the Colts and it will look likelier if they can topple the Texans in Week 14.
The Cardinals are barely on the fringes of the playoff chase, but they have a guy who ought to be on the fringes of the MVP race.
Running back David Johnson was named NFC offensive player of the week after totaling 175 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns as the Cardinals beat Washington last week.
Johnson leads the league in yards from scrimmage (1,709), with 228 rushes for 1,005 yards and another 704 receiving yards on 64 catches.
He’s already emerged as one of the top backs in the league, and one of the reasons the 5-6-1 Cardinals are clinging to any hope at all. And with a pair of player of the week awards already, he’s the first Cardinals player to repeat in a season since Kurt Warner in 2009.
Don Draper will soon be drinking even more.
Manager Terry Collins said during the baseball winter meetings that he wants converted quarterback Tim Tebow to play some spring training games with the Mets.
“I certainly hope we’ll see Tim Tebow in some of our games,” Collins said Tuesday, via USA Today. “If he’s not in our camp, I’ll get him over.”
While Collins didn’t go full Thom Brennaman about Tebow, Collins is a believer.
“He’s not into himself,” Collins said. “He’s into being a teammate. A tremendous teammate. He’s won wherever he’s been.”
So winning as a football player is apparently transferable to baseball, a sport in which Tebow batted .194 in 19 games with the Arizona Fall League. Well, it’s transferable if by “winning” Collins means “selling more tickets and jerseys and other things to people who want to see Tebow play baseball.”
If by “winning” Collins means winning baseball games, he’ll surely have better options than Tim Tebow.
Chiefs safety Eric Berry had a pretty nice trip back to his home state last Sunday.
Berry grew up outside of Atlanta and was in the city to face the Falcons in a game that the Chiefs needed to win to stay close to the Raiders in the AFC West. Berry did everything he could to help them do that.
Berry intercepted a Matt Ryan pass in the first half and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown that gave the Chiefs a 20-13 lead on their hosts. That lead would grow to 11 points in the second half before a pair of touchdowns put Atlanta up 28-27 with 4:32 left to play in the game. They went for two after the second touchdown in hopes of extending their lead to three points, but Berry struck again.
He intercepted Ryan and returned the ball the length of the field for two points that gave the Chiefs a 29-28 victory. It was the first time that a player has returned an interception for two points since the NFL began allowing such plays last year and the finishing touch on an afternoon that made Berry the choice as the AFC’s defensive player of the week.
It’s the second time that Berry has won weekly honors this season and the Chiefs will be looking for more of the same against the Raiders on Thursday night.
When Jets coach Todd Bowles decided that Ryan Fitzpatrick was finished as the team’s starting quarterback, he didn’t tell Fitzpatrick first.
Instead, Bowles made the announcement to the media after Monday night’s loss to the Colts. Only after that did Bowles talk to Fitzpatrick about it.
“I’d been meaning to talk to him and I got tied up with a few things,” Bowles said of the failure to inform Fitzpatrick.
Some players might have responded to that by blasting their coach, but Fitzpatrick was measured in his comments to the media, which Bowles seemed to appreciate.
“I probably could’ve and he tried to cover for me,” Bowles said on Tuesday. “Like I said, I had a lot on my mind and got some things off my chest, and it kind of went over the wrong way. I’ll talk to him tomorrow.”
On the long list of things that have gone wrong for the Jets this year, a miscommunication on a quarterback change is not near the top. But it’s still not a good look: Bowles should have let Fitzpatrick know he was benched.
Confirmation about contract extensions for Rams coach Jeff Fisher and General Manager Les Snead came last weekend after months of speculation about whether they had been signed or not, which means two men who started in the organization together in 2012 continue to be tied together.
Fisher has discussed his extension with the media several times since news broke, but Snead hasn’t held a press conference in the last few days. He did make an appearance on KSPN in Los Angeles on Tuesday and shared his view about the message the team sent by extending the architects of teams that have gone 31-44-1 since they arrived.
“First of all, what it means is, we’re not satisfied with where we’re at. We’ve got unfinished business,” Snead said, via the Los Angeles Daily News. “We think we can get this thing tipped, and that’s our goal. That’s where all the energy is spent. You’re not going to sleep until it gets done. We have great fans and we’ve been supported. It’s unbelievable. Any time you’re having a disappointing season, you feel for the fans first, because they come and they spend their energy and passion, and we’ve got to do a better job.”
It’s clear that the Rams have unfinished business when it comes to building a winning team. With almost five years under their belts, it’s much less clear that Fisher and Snead are the right people to finish it.
The Falcons needed to fill in on both lines, and brought back a familiar face to do that this week.
Via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Falcons brought back former fourth-round defensive end Malliciah Goodman and signed offensive lineman Kevin Graf.
Goodman, a defensive end from Clemson, was cut by the Falcons in September and played in one game for the Seahawks before being relased there.
The Falcons were short on the defensive line because of Adrian Clayborn’s knee injury. And with left tackle Jake Matthews not expected to practice today with his knee injury, they needed depth on that side as well.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz’s rookie season got off to a fast start as he played very well in three wins to open the year and raise expectations for what the Eagles might be able to do during the 2016 season.
The last nine games haven’t gone nearly as well. The Eagles have lost seven of those games, knocking them out of the playoff picture, and Wentz’s play has tailed off along with it. He’s thrown eight interceptions in the last five games after throwing three in the first seven contests, his completion percentage has dropped and the Eagles haven’t scored more than 15 points in any of their last three games.
On Tuesday, offensive coordinator Frank Reich said he believes the downturn has gotten to Wentz. Reich said that the “most confident quarterbacks in the world lose their confidence and get battered” at times, something he suggested has happened to Wentz while adding that he thinks Wentz will rebound.
“Well, for a while I thought he seemed totally unflappable,” Reich said at his press conference. “Now, in some of the more recent losses, do you sense that this is, ‘Okay, he’s feeling this one, he’s feeling this one?’ Yeah, we’re all feeling it. I think he was that young, naïve — in a good sense — but still very mature guy who came in and it was like, ‘Nothing is going to get this guy down.’ But it wears on you. It wears on you. Losing wears on you in this league. That’s why you’ve got to have the mental toughness. You’ve got to have the mental toughness because it’s a grind, and it’s especially a grind when you’re not winning the games that you want to win and you lose close games. You have to have the tenacity to fight out of it and not get too down. He has that.”
The experience of a full year as a starter, win or lose, should benefit Wentz as he heads into 2017 and it would certainly help his chances of future success if the team can surround him with more talent on offense. Even if they do, there will be adversity for Wentz to overcome and the Eagles can only hope that this year helps provide him with those tools.
Any optimism the Giants had about Jason Pierre-Paul’s condition is gone now.
According to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com, the Giants defensive end had surgery this morning to repair a sports hernia, which should end his season.
The recovery time is pegged at six weeks, and with four weeks of regular season left, it’s effectively a year-ender unless the Giants make a deep playoff run.
Pierre-Paul left Sunday’s loss to the Steelers with a groin injury, and spent yesterday visiting noted surgeon Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia. The Giants were hoping surgery could be avoided and that he might just miss a few games, but that apparently wasn’t the case.
It also puts a dent in Pierre-Paul’s pending free agency, as he was having a strong recent run (5.5 sacks in the two games before the Steelers game), and once again will enter the market coming off surgical repairs, after losing fingers in a fireworks accident last year.
Wide receiver Victor Cruz wanted answers from coach Ben McAdoo about why he didn’t have any balls thrown his way during last Sunday’s loss to the Steelers and he got them during a conversation on Tuesday.
It sounds like things unfolded in a friendlier manner for Cruz and McAdoo than they did when Lt. Daniel Kaffee demanded answers from Col. Nathan Jessup. Cruz said he left the chat feeling that the team would make “some concerted efforts” to get everyone involved on offense and that he thinks he’ll “be getting at least one target” against the Cowboys.
“We had an honest conversation between both of us,” Cruz said, via the New York Post. “He laid it to me straight, and I gave him my thoughts as well, and I think it was productive and it ended well. It was a conversation that I guess needed to be had, and we had it and we can turn the page and move on. It was just two guys trying to problem-solve. There was no anger, there was nothing back and forth. It was just two guys trying to figure it out and try and continue how to make this team and this receiving corps as productive as possible.”
Cruz caught the winning touchdown on a three-yard pass from Eli Manning the first time the Giants and Cowboys faced off this season. He also played on 89 percent of the team’s snaps in that game, which is a stark difference from last week when he played 43 percent of the time. That was less time than undrafted rookie Roger Lewis got, which hasn’t been the case every week but would seem to be as telling about where Cruz stands on the offense right now as the fact that Eli Manning never found him against the Steelers.