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Greg Schiano: Next Bucs coach is taking over a good situation

Greg Schiano AP

Hours after he was fired as head coach of the Buccaneers, Greg Schiano said he believes he’s leaving behind a good football team.

Schiano said he wasn’t expecting to get fired and believed when he arrived at the facility today that he was about to begin preparation for a good offseason and a good 2014 regular season. Instead, he found out he was fired.

“I woke up this morning planning to be the head coach of the Bucs,” Schiano said. “So that tells you that I believed this was going to take some more time. But I understand when I got into this thing, I’m a big boy and I understood what I was walking into. The National Football League, a quarter of the coaches turn over every year. Did I think we had an opportunity to move this forward? I still do. I think whoever takes over this job is taking over a good situation. A real good situation. Had I been coming back next year, I’d be excited about the potential of this team and where we’re heading. But I’m not.”

There’s been widespread speculation that Schiano will return to the college ranks and that he might be the next head coach at Penn State if an NFL team hires Bill O’Brien away. But Schiano said he hasn’t thought that far ahead.

“I woke up this morning thinking I was going to be the head coach of the Bucs. So I haven’t had a lot of time to think about what I want to do,” Schiano said.

Whatever he does, Schiano is done in Tampa, and probably done forever as an NFL head coach.

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NFL: No ejection for Jarvis Landry because we can’t tell intent

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 23:  Jarvis Landry #14 of the Miami Dolphins is tackled by  Ronald Darby #28 of the Buffalo Bills at the Hard Rock Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry put Bills safety Aaron Williams in the hospital with a brutal hit to the head on Sunday. That hit drew a 15-yard penalty, but Bills coach Rex Ryan suggested afterward that ejecting Landry would have been appropriate as well.

NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino said on NFL Network that Landry wasn’t ejected because the officials can’t say for sure that Landry was specifically aiming for Williams’ head, as opposed to just making a block and going too high.

“It’s certainly a foul,” Blandino said. “It’s certainly something that we’ll review for potential discipline, but it’s still a football play, and it’s tough to read intent there. That’s why the officials kept him in the game. It’s not an automatic ejection. It’s up to the discretion of the crew and they didn’t feel like it was flagrant enough to throw the player out of the game.”

In college football, a hit like that would be an automatic targeting ejection. In the NFL, there are fewer plays that result in automatic ejections.

“We have very few automatic ejections in the game today,” Blandino said. “If you get two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls in the same game, if you put your hands on a game official in an aggressive way, those are automatic ejections. Punching an opponent.”

That’s an area where college football’s rules make more sense than the NFL’s. If there are going to be automatic ejections at all, an illegal hit to the head that sends a player to the hospital should be something that draws an automatic ejection. College football’s targeting rule has its problems, but it’s a rule that makes more sense than the NFL’s rule of ejecting a player for two taunting fouls, but letting a player stay in the game after a vicious and illegal hit to the head.

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Why did NFL reduce Josh Brown’s suspension from six games to one?

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 30: Josh Brown #3 of the New York Giants reactsa after missing a field-goal during the second half of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on November 30, 2014 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) Getty Images

One of the biggest lingering questions regarding the Josh Brown case relates to the decision to suspend him for the May 2015 incident that resulted in his arrest. With the NFL now using a six-game suspension as the baseline for first-offense domestic violence, why was he suspended for only one game?

The Personal Conduct Policy, as revised after the Ray Rice debacle, establishes the six-game suspension for a first offense, with the possibility of the suspension increasing or decreasing, based on aggravating or mitigating factors.

“Possible aggravating factors include, but are not limited to, a prior violation of the Personal Conduct Policy, similar misconduct before joining the NFL, violence involving a weapon, choking, repeated striking, or when an act is committed against a particularly vulnerable person, such as a child, a pregnant woman, or an elderly person, or where the act is committed in the presence of a child,” the policy states. As to mitigating factors, there is no similar explanation.

So what are the mitigating factors? Absent an effort to identify them, mitigating factors can be whatever the NFL wants them to be.

As to Brown, there were two mitigating factors, from the league’s perspective. First, the NFL didn’t regard the incident as a serious instance of domestic violence, since Brown simply grabbed his now-ex-wife’s wrist. (Many would say that any incident of domestic violence is serious.) Second, the NFL considered its difficulty in getting cooperation from Brown’s now-ex-wife or from law enforcement to be a mitigating factor.

The better approach would be to stick with the default penalty of six games for any incident of domestic violence, unless and until the player can articulate and prove true mitigating factors on appeal. The structure of the policy, however, suggests that the NFL doesn’t want to impose a standard of this nature, possibly since it would strip the league of the ability to point to any factor it wants as a mitigating factor — regardless of whether it actually is.

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Anti-Baalke banner to fly over next 49ers home game

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 28: San Francisco 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke watches warmups against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium on December 28, 2014 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Don Feria/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the 1-6 49ers return from their bye, an effort will be made to force the team to bid farewell to G.M. Trent Baalke.

Via, an anti-Baalke banner will fly over Levi’s Stadium in connection with the team’s next home game, on November 6 against the Saints. The public funding goal of $1,076 was quickly reached, allowing for the “#FireTrent” message to be displayed to anyone at the game.

Maybe the good news is that ongoing “traffic problems” will ensure that fewer people will see the banner.

The reality is that, as the 49ers continue a stunning fall from perennial contender to perennial doormat, the paying customers need to be engaged. Surely, plenty of them currently are tempted to disengage, indefinitely.

Which will result in plenty of them pressuring the team to disengage from Baalke, permanently.

Regardless of whether the 49ers fire Baalke or make other changes during or after the year, much must be done to turn around a team that seemed to be setting the gold standard for the NFC, if not the NFL.

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Huff’s TD return leads to NFC weekly honor

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 23: Josh Huff #13 of the Philadelphia Eagles gets by Eric Kendricks #54 of the Minnesota Vikings after making a catch for a first down during the fourth quarter of a game at Lincoln Financial Field on October 23, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The eagles defeated the Vikings 21-10. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

Eagles wide receiver Josh Huff returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown last Sunday vs. the Vikings, and on Wednesday Huff was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

Huff’s touchdown was the Eagles’ first score of the game. They went on to hand the Vikings their first loss of the season, 21-10.

The touchdown gave a nice boost to Huff’s kick return average, which is now up to 38 yards per return on the season. He also had a kickoff return for a touchdown in 2014.

Huff’s return marked the first time in Eagles history that the Eagles returned kickoffs for touchdowns in back-to-back weeks. Wendell Smallwood ran a kickoff back 86 yards for a touchdown the previous week at Washington.

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Landon Collins named NFC defensive player of the week

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23:  Landon Collins #21 New York Giants celebrates his touchdown during the NFL International Series match between New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams at Twickenham Stadium on October 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images) Getty Images

Whether it was jet lag or just the continuation of a season-long lack of consistence, the Giants offense didn’t get much done against the Rams in London last Sunday.

The Giants were still able to return home with a victory, however, and safety Landon Collins was a big reason why they won. Collins had two of the team’s four interceptions of Rams quarterback Case Keenum and scored the team’s first touchdown of the game.

The score came on a play that’s sure to be a staple of highlight films for a good long while. With the Giants trailing 10-3 in the second quarter, Collins picked off a pass that went off Tavon Austin’s hands and began a trip to the end zone that took him from one side of the field to the other while breaking several attempted tackles.

Collins’ second interception came on another attempt to get the ball to Austin in the fourth quarter and set up the touchdown drive that put the Giants up 17-10. Keenum would throw two more interceptions and the score stood up for a victory that had Collins’ fingerprints all over it.

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Davante Adams named NFC offensive player of the week

GREENBAY, WI - OCTOBER 20: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers talks with teammate wide receiver Davante Adams #17 in the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on October 20, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) Getty Images

In the absence of a reliable running game, the Packers needed someone to take on a larger role.

Wide receiver Davante Adams did just that.

Adams was named NFC offensive player of the week after catching 13 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in last Thursday’s win over the Bears.

Adams hadn’t caught more than five passes in a game all season, but made the most of the opportunity, and helped spark a Packers offense which has been off sync all season.

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King wins AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after strange, productive day

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 23:   Marquette King #7 of the Oakland Raiders punts against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the game at EverBank Field on October 23, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Getty Images

Raiders punter Marquette King was good with his right foot and did a little work with both feet in last Sunday’s win at Jacksonville.

Wednesday, King was named AFC Special Teams Player of the week. King averaged 50.6 yards on five punts in the game. He landed four of those five inside the Jaguars’ 20-yard line.

King also picked up a botched snap in the fourth quarter and ran 27 yards for a first down.

He also won an AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award last December.

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Denzel Perryman named AFC defensive player of the week

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 23: Denzel Perryman #52 of the San Diego Chargers celebrates after the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on October 23, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s one thing to play hurt. To play hurt and play well gets you recognized.

Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman was named AFC defensive player of the week, after his work in helping the Chargers beat the Falcons in overtime last week, while playing through a shoulder injury.

Perryman’s interception of a Matt Ryan pass helped set up a game-tying field goal for the Chargers. He followed that up with an even bigger play, stopping Devonta Freeman for a loss on fourth down in overtime, which allowed the Chargers to kick their game-winning field goal.

The second-year linebacker from Miami also had seven tackles and a pass defensed.

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Jay Ajayi takes second straight AFC offensive player of the week

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 23: Jay Ajayi #23 of the Miami Dolphins rushes during a game against the Buffalo Bills on October 23, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi joined a small group last Sunday against the Bills.

Ajayi ran for 214 yards in the 28-25 victory, which made him the fourth player in NFL history to run for more than 200 yards in two straight games. Ajayi joins O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams on that list and his running has helped the Dolphins to two straight wins.

It’s also made Ajayi the choice as the AFC offensive player of the week for two weeks in a row. It’s a major turnaround for Ajayi, who was left home at the behest of head coach Adam Gase for the team’s opening game of the season and never ran the ball more than 13 times in a game before breaking out for 204 yards against the Steelers in Week Six.

Ajayi won’t get a chance to make it three straight this week because the Dolphins are on a bye. Should he pick up where he left off come Week Nine, the Dolphins’ outlook for the season will look a lot better than it did when they lost four of their first five games.

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Patriots expected to get Dion Lewis back to practice this week

Dion Lewis, Tre Jackson AP

The Patriots were able to survive four games without their most important offensive piece, and now they could be getting another back midway through the season.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Patriots running back Dion Lewis is expected back on the practice field this week, which would open the 21-day window for him to practice and possibly be activated from the physically unable to perform list.

Lewis had to have a follow-up surgery after last November’s torn ACL, which set back his progress.

With LeGarrette Blount leading the way, the Patriots have been doing well in the running game, with James White filling in as the third-down back.

But getting Lewis back at some point this season would be a boost, considering the job he did for them last year prior to his injury (622 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns in seven games).

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Jeremy Langford back at practice

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Brandon Carr #39 of the Dallas Cowboys tackles Jeremy Langford #33 of the Chicago Bears in the third quarter during a game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bears are working quarterback Jay Cutler back into the lineup after he was cleared to return from his right thumb injury and he has some company on the back to practice list.

Runinng back Jeremy Langford practiced Tuesday for the first time since he suffered a high ankle sprain in Week Three with designs of getting in the lineup for Monday night’s game against the Vikings. Langford was the starter when he got hurt, but coach John Fox wouldn’t say if he’ll be returning to that role.

“Earlier in the season I mentioned that, way back in the day, there used to be a rule that if you were the starter, when you were hurt, it was yours when you came back,” Fox said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “Well, that’s not really necessarily the case as much anymore. It can be. You’re going to play the best guy, and there’s competition to be involved in that.”

As Cutler acknowledged, the Bears don’t have much choice other than putting him back into his old job. The Bears have Jordan Howard and Ka’Deem Carey on hand and both have gotten looks as the lead back with Langford out of the picture, which should make for a competitive backfield situation in Chicago over the coming weeks.

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NFL says Bobby Wagner’s leap was legal

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Head coach Bruce Arians of the Arizona Cardinals reacts to referee Terry McAulay #77 during the NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals and Seahawks tied 6-6.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was furious that Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner wasn’t penalized for jumping over the line to block a field goal on Sunday, saying after the game that he was expecting a “bulls–t” explanation of it from the league.

Now Arians has his explanation.

NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino said on NFL Network that Wagner did not commit a penalty because he did not land on a player. If Wagner had landed on someone after jumping up to block a kick, that would have been a 15-yard penalty and an automatic first down. Wagner didn’t do that.

“There’s contact and then there’s incidental contact,” he said. “He can run up and jump, but he can’t land on players. Now if he brushes a player or brushes a teammate with incidental contact, that would be legal. So he’s gonna run, jump and clear the line, block the kick. You look at the TV copy replay and you can see that there is some contact. His foot is going to brush the back of the snapper, but that is not significant contact. It’s incidental. He didn’t land on players. So that’s what made it legal.”

We’ll leave it to others to determine whether that explanation is “bulls–t.”

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Ravens want Breshad Perriman to speed up learning curve

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23:  Buster Skrine #41 of the New York Jets intercepts a pass from quarterback Joe Flacco #5 (not pictured) of the Baltimore Ravens to Breshad Perriman #18 at MetLife Stadium on October 23, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Ravens had to wait a long while to get wide receiver Breshad Perriman on the field after drafting him in the first round of the 2015 draft thanks to a knee injury that made his rookie year a total washout.

Perriman then dealt with another knee injury this summer, limiting his practice time ahead of the regular season. Perriman has been able to get on the field for all seven Ravens games thus far, but his 14 catches for 183 yards have only made coach John Harbaugh want to see Perriman start taking greater strides in his development as a professional player.

“I told him, ‘I just am impatient. You have all this talent, and there is a lot to learn, but I just want to speed the curve up,'” Harbaugh said, via the Baltimore Sun. “Obviously, he said that he could not agree more. We just have to keep chasing it. It is going to happen, and let’s try to make it happen sooner rather than later.”

Perriman’s snaps went up when Steve Smith hurt his ankle, but his production hasn’t seen a similar spike. Wanting more out of a first-round pick is understandable, but asking for more than a player is ready to give is an easy way to be disappointed by the results and Perriman has looked like a player still finding his way in the NFL.

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Vikings linemen know they have to “play better” with what they have

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 30:  Carls Jr Restaurant, part of the of the Restaurant Brands Group on December 30, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand. The NZX 50 Index is the main stock market index in New Zealand and is comprised of the biggest stocks trading on the New Zealand Stock Exchange.  (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s been a rough year so far for the Vikings offensive line. Injuries, a revolving cast of replacements, and your boss calling you “soft.”

But they also realize there’s only so much they can do at the moment.

“I think it’s just playing better with what you have,” veteran left guard Alex Boone said, via Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I mean, what are you going to do? There’s not much you can do. It’s not like you’re not going to go down to Carl’s Jr. and find somebody.”

They’ve done everything but so far, including dragging Jake Long out of what appeared to be retirement to start at left tackle. And the lack of continuity is as important for an offensive line as any group in the game, and with both starting tackles on IR, that’s hard to find.

But the ultimate indignity was being labeled “soft” by head coach Mike Zimmer, who added for good measure: “We didn’t block anybody.”

“We’ve got to play better. That’s the bottom line,” Boone said.

When the “soft” remark was run by him again, Boone kept it low-key.

“I feel like we’ve got to play better. I think when you get your quarterback hit that many times it’s a problem,” Boone said. “So we’ve got to play better.”

Of course, there’s a meat-grinder aspect to the Vikings season as a whole, but after Sam Bradford was sacked six times and hit 13, they may need more than a sack of burgers (or the guy who sells them) to fix things.

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Wednesday morning one-liners

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 16: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium on October 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots QB Tom Brady’s 132.6 passer rating is by far the highest in the NFL.

Jets WR Brandon Marshall has dropped six passes, most in the NFL. Marshall also leads the league in passes not caught, with 38 passes thrown his way that he didn’t catch.

Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi is averaging 6.37 yards a carry, a full yard better than any other qualifying running back in the NFL.

Bills QB Tyrod Taylor’s 8.6 yards per carry on artificial surfaces is the best in the NFL.

Bengals QB Andy Dalton has already been sacked 22 times this year, more than he was sacked in either of the last two full seasons.

Browns RB Isaiah Crowell has the longest run in the NFL this season at 85 yards.

Ravens QB Joe Flacco has thrown an NFL-high 308 passes this season.

Steelers WR Sammie Coates has an NFL-high six catches of 40+ yards.

One good thing you can say about Texans QB Brock Osweiler: He has five third-down runs, and he has picked up the first down on all five of them.

Colts QB Andrew Luck has been sacked an NFL-high 25 times.

The Jaguars have picked up an NFL-low 21 third-down conversions this season.

Tennessee’s Brian Orakpo’s seven sacks have been for a combined total of 52 yards lost, best in the NFL.

Raiders CB David Amerson has broken up 11 passes, tied for the best mark in the league.

Broncos RB Devontae Booker hasn’t been stuffed at or behind the line of scrimmage a single time in 51 carries this year.

Chiefs RB Spencer Ware’s 492 rushing yards this year are already more than he had last year, as he’s taken over for Jamaal Charles as Kansas City’s featured back.

After not rushing for any touchdowns last year, Chargers RB Melvin Gordon is tied for the league lead this year.

Even after the Cowboys’ bye week, RB Ezekiel Elliott leads the league with 703 rushing yards and 37 rushing first downs.

Washington RB Matt Jones is a perfect 7-for-7 picking up the first down on third-and-1 this season.

The Eagles are the best team in the NFL, according to the stats at Football Outsiders.

Giants WR Odell Beckham is averaging a career-high 15.8 yards a carry.

Detroit’s Golden Tate has 289 yards after catch, best of any wide receiver in the NFL.

Packers WR Jordy Nelson has an NFL-high five catches inside the 10-yard line.

No one avoided interceptions like Bears QB Brian Hoyer, who threw 200 passes without a single pick before breaking his arm.

Vikings QB Sam Bradford has picked up the first down on an NFL-high 65.4 percent of his passes on third down with 3-7 yards to go.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan leads the NFL with 2,348 passing yards.

Saints QB Drew Brees has an NFL-high 17 touchdown passes.

Panthers QB Cam Newton has first downs on 38.7 percent of his rushing attempts, best in the NFL.

Buccaneers WR Mike Evans has 34 receiving first downs, best in the NFL.

San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick is doing one thing well: He’s averaging a career-high 8.8 yards a carry.

Cardinals WR Michael Floyd has a first down on 89.5 percent of his catches.

After averaging 5.3 yards a carry last year, Seahawks RB Thomas Rawls is averaging 1.3 yards a carry this year.

Rams RB Todd Gurley still doesn’t have a 100-yard game this season.

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