Mike Florio answers fan tweets and calls from PFT Planet, including evaluating the New York Jets offseason, the sustainability of a potential NFL franchise in London and which teams will look to pursue signing recently-cut running back Chris Johnson.
PFT Planet: Where will CJ2K land?
The Ravens have made their choice for a player to return from injured reserve this season.
The team announced on Tuesday that it will be safety Matt Elam, who was placed on injured reserve after injuring his knee and having surgery in the preseason. He is practicing with the team on Tuesday and Baltimore will have three weeks before they’ll have to add him to the 53-man roster or lose him for the rest of the year.
Elam, the team’s 2013 first-round pick, has not played in a regular season game since the 2014 season. He missed all of last season with a biceps injury and will have the extra time provided by the bye week to get back up to speed.
The Ravens have suffered several injuries in the secondary over the course of the season and placed safety Kendrick Lewis on injured reserve last week. Lardarius Webb also left last Sunday’s loss to the Jets with a hamstring injury.
Pete Carroll is optimistic, primarily because Pete Carroll is optimistic.
But the Seahawks coach is convinced that his team’s moribund run game is going to improve soon, and maybe the reason is that it just can’t get much worse.
Via Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com, Carroll said he hopes the return of running back Thomas Rawls from his fibula injury the week after next will spark an offense that is a shell of its former self.
“This is what we’re counting on right now,” Carroll said. “We’re counting on him running this week, and then next week [against the Bills] preparing to play. That’s what we’re counting on unless something changes.”
That won’t help them this week against the Saints, but they’re playing the Saints, whose defense is historically bad. But the Seahawks are averaging a meager 3.12 yards per carry, which is next to last in the league.
The absence of Rawls and the limitations of quarterback Russell Wilson because of his knee and ankle injuries have kept them from running effectively, but Carroll said Wilson was improving.
“He is getting better,” Carroll said. “He got out of this game maybe for the first time, he felt nothing of carryover on his ankle or his knee, which is really good. There’s always a little bit of aftermath. He didn’t feel that from what I understand.”
Of course, they’re going to have to try to fix things with another patchwork offensive line, as left tackle Bradley Sowell is going to miss some time with an MCL sprain. Whether that negates the return of Rawls and Wilson’s getting healthier will be seen, but the best answer this week might just be their opponent.
The Colts are 3-4 after the first seven weeks of the season, but still sit firmly in the mix for the AFC South title with the Texans currently leading the division with a 4-3 record.
Their chances of moving up in the pecking order would likely increase with a healthier roster and there are some good signs on that front heading into Week Eight. Colts coach Chuck Pagano said that the team expects to have wide receiver Donte Moncrief on the field at practice this week.
“Moncrief has a good chance to get back into the swing of things,” Pagano said, via the team’s website. “I think he will get on the field on Wednesday in a limited capacity.”
Moncrief has not played since Week Two due to a fractured scapula and he only took nine snaps in that game before getting hurt, so he hasn’t had much of a presence on the field for Indianapolis this season. Moncrief was second on the team in both catches and receiving yards last season.
There may be others rejoining the team this week. Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury and Pagano said he is “trending in the right direction.” Defensive linemen Henry Anderson and Zach Kerr are also expected to work this week as the Colts prepare to face the Chiefs.
The Jaguars have lost a starter on their defensive line for the rest of the season.
The team announced Tuesday that nose tackle Roy Miller tore his right Achilles in last Sunday’s loss to the Raiders. Miller will have surgery and be placed on injured reserve.
Miller started all six games for the Jaguars this season and 50 games overall for the Jaguars since joining the team in 2013. He had 10 tackles this season and had 94 tackles and five sacks during his three previous seasons with the team.
While Miller was the starter, the Jaguars have used a variety of defensive linemen this season and he played on just over 36 percent of the snaps through the first six games. Sen’Derrick Marks, Abry Jones and rookie Sheldon Day are still on hand to play with Malik Jackson on the interior of the Jacksonville line.
The NFL is ready to play a regular-season game in China. The challenge arises primarily from what happens after the game played in China.
“The main focus of the work now is as much about how does a team come back from China and then play and be competitive after a trip like that?” NFL executive vice president of international Mark Waller told Alex Marvez of Sporting News. “It’s less of the focus on the game in China itself.”
Some would say the focus shouldn’t be China at all, and that the NFL should focus on the “National” aspect of its title. At a time when TV ratings are sharply down domestically, the league could keep mining for gold in other countries, or it could devote assets to renew the zeal and passion of existing fans.
It’s far cheaper and simpler to keep existing customers than to harvest new ones. Maybe China, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, England, and elsewhere should take a back seat to the United States, with the overriding goal being to make American football great again.
The Steelers haven’t gotten anything from tight end Ladarius Green since signing him as a free agent this offseason due to an ankle injury that led him to the physically unable to perform list at the start of training camp.
That may change once the team returns from their bye week, though. The team announced that Green is expected to practice with the team on Tuesday.
Green said he’s been able to keep up on the mental end of things while he’s been rehabbing his ankle, but that on-field work will represent a significant change.
“It’s a big difference,” Green said, via the team’s website. “You can learn as much as you want to but until you go on the field and actually go through it, it’s a big difference. I had a good while to learn the playbook. I learned it pretty much and am pretty good at it. Until you go on the field and run it, it’s a totally different animal.”
Returning to practice opens up a 21-day window for the Steelers to decide whether to activate Green or shut him down for the rest of the season. Jesse James and Xavier Grimble have been the tight ends for the Steelers in Green’s absence and they’ve combine to catch 30 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns.
Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib praised General Manager John Elway on Monday night for making the right decision at quarterback.
Talib said after the broncos beat the Texans that it’s clear that Trevor Siemian is a better quarterback than Brock Osweiler, who left Denver for Houston this offseason. And Talib noted that the Texans gave Osweiler a four-year, $72 million contract, while Siemian is playing on a four-year, $2.3 million contract.
“If you look at it overall, [Elway] saved a bunch of money. And Trev is a great quarterback, man. He’s better than Brock in my eyes. So it’s a win-win situation,” Talib told USA Today.
Of course, Elway wasn’t exactly perfect on the quarterback front: He did offer Osweiler a contract this offseason, reportedly for four years and $64 million. And Elway also traded for Mark Sanchez with the expectation that Sanchez would beat out Siemian for the starting job. That didn’t work out, and Sanchez was released before the start of the regular season.
Still, it’s clear that the Broncos ultimately got it right at quarterback: Anyone would rather have Siemian for $600,000 a year than Osweiler for $18 million a year. Talib is probably right that Siemian is better than Osweiler, and he’s certainly right that Osweiler shouldn’t be making 30 times as much money as Siemian. The Texans are probably asking themselves right now why they were willing to pay Osweiler more than Elway, the G.M. who knew him best, was willing to pay.
It appears they’re trying to get him ready to play.
According to Rams coach Jeff Fisher, the first overall pick in last year’s draft will get more work with the starters during the bye week.
“Jared’s going to get some reps, which is a by product of the bye week,” Fisher said. “I don’t feel like Case needs the reps Wednesday and early next week, so Jared will get those reps, which is good.
“Jared’s going to be our starter, but we’re just going to continue with Case.”
The eventual part of that statement is the key. Whether that means he unseats Case Keenum sooner or later remains to be seen, but there’s clearly an effort being made to accelerate Goff’s progression.
Keenum threw four interceptions in Sunday’s loss to the Giants, and has more picks than touchdowns on the season (eight of the good, 10 of the bad). And with extra time to prepare and a shaky secondary (Carolina) coming up, the time to play Goff might be getting closer.
Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry apologized for launching himself into Bills safety Aaron Williams‘ head for a hit that sent Williams to the hospital during last Sunday’s game and led many with the Bills to call Landry’s play dirty.
Landry was penalized for the hit and also picked up a taunting penalty during the game, both of which are likely to draw fines from the league this week as well. Landry also drew a big fine for verbal abuse of an official last season and has drawn other personal fouls for on-field conduct this year.
Dolphins coach Adam Gase lamented the taunting call on Monday and said Landry needs to lower “his target zone” on plays like the one that injured Williams. He also defended Landry against accusations that he’s a dirty player and said he doesn’t want Landry to alter his approach to the game.
“I’m not going to change the way he plays,” Gase said, via the Miami Herald. “The taunting penalty, that’s not what I want. … We need to be smarter because we’re losing yards, but I want him to keep bringing his intensity every week. … I know the way Jarvis plays, it’s going to be aggressive, it’s going to be intense. For anybody to kind of start thinking, ‘dirty play,’ and things like that, I’ve been around the guys for less than a year. I haven’t seen that from him. I’ve see a guy who when we coach him up on things, tries to do things the right way.”
The penalty for the hit on Williams cost the Dolphins 15 yards when they were closing in on the end zone and the team had to settle for a field goal. Those missing points helped put Miami in a position where they had to come back in the second half to get a win and the reaction to Landry’s penalty might have been different had the Dolphins failed to pull it off.
In response to multiple reports of a potential trade of receiver Torrey Smith to the Eagles, the 49ers apparently are pushing back. For a variety of potential reasons. (More on that in a minute.)
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com cites an unnamed league source for the proposition that the “49ers are neither shopping Smith nor is a trade anticipated.”
That may be literally true. The 49ers may not be “shopping” Smith, and a trade may not be anticipated. Indeed, when PFT first reported the existence of talks between the 49ers and the Eagles on Monday night, we explained that a deal was not imminent. There’s a chance a deal may not happen at all.
Which is precisely why the 49ers needed to throw water on the chatter. If a trade doesn’t happen, they need to coexist with a player who has been possibly nestled all snug in his bed with visions of passes not being thrown five feet over his head.
Likewise, if talks are indeed occurring between the 49ers and Eagles (and other outlets, including NFL Media, have confirmed that they are), the 49ers need to get the best possible deal. Taking the position that they’ll just keep Smith could be the best/only leverage, especially if no other team is trying to trade for Smith.
Then there’s the possibility that the 49ers have applied a Patriots-like approach to the trade discussions, making it clear that it anyone blabs about the trade talks, the 49ers will slam the door shut on the possibility. It’s far easier for a perennial contender to take that position; it’s much harder for a team that has nowhere to go but up, and that has a current asset under contract that, through a trade, could help them begin the slow climb back to relevance.
The Bills missed a lot of tackles against the Dolphins.
The Bengals defense is trying to do a better job on the little things.
DE Cam Heyward didn’t like what the rest of the Steelers defense did in Week Seven.
The Colts are piling up the penalties this season.
Five plays that help explain the latest Jaguars loss.
Would a 4-4 record at midseason qualify as a successful first half for the Titans?
The Broncos running game showed up in a big way on Monday night.
Said Chiefs coach Andy Reid on getting a game ball after his 300th NFL game as a head coach, “Well, I appreciate him doing that. I’m not all that big on all that. I’m still waiting for my win total to exceed my weight. That’s going to be a couple more wins.”
The Raiders are 5-2 and coach Jack Del Rio said there’s plenty of room for improvement.
The Giants will be looking for ways to get their offense going during the bye week.
There are some signs of hope for the Bears defense.
Monday brought a bunch of injury updates for the Packers.
The Falcons watched video of boxer Marvin Hagler as coach Dan Quinn implored them to do more to finish games in the future.
Being patient with the run game has paid off for the Buccaneers.
The Cardinals need to clean up their special teams work.
Resting and recovering are priorities for the Rams during their bye week.
49ers General Manager Trent Baalke’s Wikipedia page got some unflattering edits recently.
Those who thought the Jaguars were primed to take a step forward this season usually included quarterback Blake Bortles among the reasons for their optimism about things to come in Jacksonville.
Bortles took some strides during his second NFL season and formed a strong partnership with the Allen Robinson/Allen Hurns receiving duo, but he hasn’t built on those strides so far this season. Bortles ranks near the bottom of the league in completion percentage, interception rate, yards per attempt and passer rating after turning in a dismal performance against the Raiders last Sunday.
Those struggles haven’t shaken coach Gus Bradley’s faith in Bortles, though.
“I firmly, firmly believe in Blake Bortles,” Bradley said, via ESPN.com. “Without a doubt. I think it was a challenging day yesterday about some of the situations we were in, but as far as the competitor … and what he brings to this team, there is no doubt [about Bortles].”
Disappointing as Bortles’ performances may be, the Jaguars don’t have anything to gain from going in a different direction. Chad Henne isn’t the future on offense and the Jaguars have tied too much of their future to Bortles’ development to totally shake things up with rookie Brandon Allen.
Should things fail to improve in the coming months, perhaps a different decision will be made by a different coach. For now, though, the Jaguars will have to hope that Bortles reverses course.
Bye weeks are great times to hit reset, to have the kind of organizational breather that can get a team back on track.
So for two hours and 20 minutes Monday, coach John Harbaugh sat with his 3-4 Ravens and talked, dissecting film pointing out mistakes, and trying to get their feet back underneath then for the rest of the season.
“We have great relationships, and I do like and love our guys. I told one of the guys in the meeting today, ‘I love you, but I despise you right now on that play.’ And guys get it,” Harbaugh said, via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. “They’re OK. It’s all about just pushing them and coaching them and trying to just teach better football — really is where we’re at. . . . I’ve been impatient for quite a long time, and they know it.”
Going over an ugly loss to the Jets is one thing, and fixing the mistakes from that one could take plenty of time. But the fact it was a fourth straight loss is the bigger concern, and Monday’s meeting featured players talking about the direction of the season as well.
“Just an opportunity to be very honest with one another, which we always are, and work on the things that need to do to get better,” Harbaugh said. “That’s what we have here, a bunch of accountable guys. We just need to find a way to become the type of football team we’re capable of becoming. That’s always a process and always a journey. I’m excited about that.”
That journey needs to start pretty quickly after the bye if they want to get to their destination, but Harbaugh also said he expected most of their injured players to be back when they return in a week. Since they have had more injured players that will fit on a gameday inactive list the last two weeks, that’s as good a news as anything said in a meeting.
The Chargers stopped their trend of finding painful ways to lose close games in the fourth quarter in Atlanta last Sunday, but their trend of losing players to torn ACLs continued.
Defensive lineman Caraun Reid’s season is over after he was injured during the 33-30 victory over the Falcons. Reid was claimed off of waivers in September after failing to make the Lions and had five tackles and a sack while playing in every game this season. He also returned a fumble 61 yards for a touchdown against the Colts in Week Three.
“Caraun came in from the very first day and did an outstanding job,” McCoy said, via the San Diego Union-Tribune. “A very smart player who picked up our system in a hurry. Made some big plays for us; an example is the Indy touchdown. It’s tough to see this happen to these guys. Look at the effort on the play he’s giving, and then that happens. It’s unfortunate. We’re going to miss him.”
Reid is the fifth Charger player to suffer a torn ACL since the start of the regular season. Wide receiver Keenan Allen, running back Danny Woodhead, cornerback Jason Verrett and linebacker Nick Dzubnar are the others.
Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro still has a job, which means the team has shown him some degree of support.
But it’s also clear he’s on their radar, and they expect him to not do things like miss chip-shot field goals in overtime which would have won a game against the Seahawks instead of leaving them tied. Coupled with a miss in the opener against the Patriots, and Catanzaro has had a pair of high-profile kicks go wrong among his 8-of-11 season.
Via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was asked directly if he still backed Catanzaro, and he replied: “Yes.”
The Cardinals also had a field goal and a punt blocked, but Arians said he didn’t expect massive changes on special teams.
“No, the kicker just needs to kick it through the two poles, and we’d be 5-2,” Arians said. “The field goal issue — you just can’t miss that kick.”
But instead of leading the NFC West, they’re 3-3-1 and scuffling a bit at the moment, heading to play a Carolina team that has also had a few such misses from Graham Gano.
Catanzaro has been a generally reliable kicker, who was 29-of-33 (87.9 percent) in 2014 and 28-of-31 last year (90.3), so perhaps the sample size of the season will bring his numbers more in line with his average.
Assuming he resumes kicking them between the two poles and they don’t do the same to him.