They’re attempting to fill it with a veteran.
The 30-year-old was a shell of himself with the Jets last year because of a foot injury, but if he’s well, he could contribute to a dangerous passing game.
But it remains to be seen what he has left.
They’re attempting to fill it with a veteran.
The 30-year-old was a shell of himself with the Jets last year because of a foot injury, but if he’s well, he could contribute to a dangerous passing game.
But it remains to be seen what he has left.
Two weeks ago, we sparked a flurry of reports and quotes and boasts and ultimately concerns regarding the return of the NFL to Los Angeles, reporting that the league believes one or two teams will move there within the next 12-24 months.
Of the three teams viewed as the most likely to move — the Rams, Raiders, and Chargers — the team viewed by the NFL as most likely to make the move is the Rams.
If it’s the Rams, the most likely location for a new stadium becomes the land owner Stan Kroenke purchased last year at Hollywood Park. AEG’s proposed downtown stadium is believed to hinge on owner Philip Anschutz purchasing a significant piece of the anchor tenant.
The Rams currently have a year-to-year arrangement at the Edward Jones Dome. They can leave without financial consequence after the coming season, and every season thereafter.
The powers-that-be in St. Louis reportedly are working on a proposal of a new open-air stadium in St. Louis. It could be a legitimate effort to keep the team. Or it could be an effort to diffuse criticism that the local politicians didn’t try hard enough to keep him.
But what about San Diego’s threat to oppose the relocation of any team to the L.A. market? Per a league source, those concerns likely would be resolved, possibly with the Chargers getting a larger slice of the relocation fee than other teams receive.
For most of the Saints’ visit to the Lions, it looked like the team would buck their recent history of struggling away from the Superdome.
They led by 13 points in the fourth quarter, their defense was keeping the Lions in check and it looked like it would just be a matter of running out the clock for their third win of the season. That’s when things fell apart.
A Golden Tate 73-yard touchdown brought the Lions within a score and Drew Brees threw an interception on the next possession to set the Lions up for their game-winning score. Some wondered if the team should have been running the ball instead of throwing it at that point in the game and several members of the team said that there was plenty of blame to go around, but Brees wanted most of it for himself.
“The worst feeling in professional sports is when you feel like you let your team down. And that’s the way I feel right now,” Brees said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “You’ve gotta know when to take a chance, when to try to fit a ball in there, or when to throw it away, take a sack, scramble, whatever it might be, and make sure the ball stays in your hands. And unfortunately that’s a critical time of the game where a turnover cannot happen, and I’m responsible for that. That one’s on me.”
One thing or another has gone wrong just about every time the Saints have played on the road in the last few years, which has left them with 10 losses in their last 12 road trips. That has to change if the 2-4 Saints are going to turn their season around and the improvement is going to have to come from everyone, not just Brees.
On a weekend dominated by record-breaking quarterbacks, the Titans are still wondering when they’ll get their broken one back.
After watching backup Charlie Whitehurst lead the Titans to another come-from-ahead loss, they’re hoping to get starter Jake Locker back from his thumb sprain in time to play next week against the Texans.
Locker practiced early last week, but was then limited, and he didn’t play yesterday.
“I would expect him being able to go next week,” Whisenhunt said, via Jim Wyatt of the Tennesseean. “But until we get out there and practice, I don’t know that for sure.”
“Obviously you worry about him turning the ball over and putting one on the ground if you miss a snap or do something with ball handling,” Whisenhunt said of the decision to park him. “That’s ultimately what made the decision.”
Clipboard Jesus actually hasn’t been terrible in relief. He threw an interception (which was his first since 2011), and had a 91.8 passer rating. But just like the disastrous collapse against the Browns, the Titans offense flat-lined late, allowing a comeback for the opponents.
Looking at the list of career leaders for passing touchdowns, there’s really only one person on the list who has a shot of passing Manning in the next decade, and that’s Drew Brees. Manning is currently 136 touchdown passes ahead of Brees (510 to 374), and Manning is three years older than Brees. Brees has a shot.
But it’s not a good shot. To equal Manning’s total, Brees would have to keep pace with Manning until Manning retires, and then play four more years after Manning retires while averaging 34 touchdown passes a season. That’s a very tall order.
And if Brees doesn’t break the passing touchdown record, it’s going to be a very long time before anyone gets close. After Brees on the list of all-time touchdown passers is Tom Brady, who is closer in age to Manning than he is to Brees. It’s unlikely that Brady will finish ahead of either Brees or Manning, let alone both of them.
Next on the list of active leaders is Eli Manning, who isn’t even halfway to his big brother’s total: Eli has 243 touchdown passes at age 33, meaning at his current pace he’d need to keep playing into his mid-40s just to reach Peyton’s current touchdown record, and of course by the time Peyton retires he’ll have put the record far beyond his current total.
Aaron Rodgers, with 206 career touchdown passes, probably got too late a start to catch Manning. The 30-year-old Rodgers spent his first three seasons as Brett Favre’s backup, meaning he was already in his mid-20s before he started throwing touchdown passes. He’ll probably have to play into his mid-40s to have any chance at the record.
If there’s a young active quarterback who would have a chance at catching Manning it would probably be Matthew Stafford, who became the Lions’ starter at age 21 and now has 118 touchdown passes at age 26. Could Stafford play something like 14 more years and average 35 touchdowns a year? It’s unlikely, but he’s by far the youngest of the active quarterbacks who have reached 100 career touchdowns, so if any one of the young crop of quarterbacks is going to break the record, it’s probably Stafford. Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson are only a year younger than Stafford, and they’re both more than 50 touchdowns behind Stafford.
It’s impossible to guess how the rules of the NFL or football strategies might change to make the passing touchdown record easier or harder to break in the future, but assuming 60-touchdown seasons don’t become commonplace, Manning is likely to own this record for a very long time. If any quarterback is ever going to break it, he probably isn’t in the NFL yet.
The Bengals opened October with a 3-0 record and people wondering whether they might wind up as the top team in the AFC.
Three weeks into the month, people are wondering very different things about the team. After Sunday’s 27-0 thrashing at the hands of the Colts, the Bengals are now 0-2-1 this month and cornerback Terence Newman didn’t pull any punches when assessing his team’s performance.
“It’s not how we play football. You guys know that. It’s embarrassing,” Newman said, via the team’s website. “We flat-out got embarrassed today. There’s nothing else I can say about it.”
Injuries to players like A.J. Green and Vontaze Burfict have clearly paid a role in the change of fortunes for the Bengals, but neither Newman nor his teammates used that as an excuse for the team’s struggles. Instead, they talked about getting back to basics and believing in one another as they try to stop the bleeding.
They’ll get that chance against the Ravens at home next Sunday and a win there would make things look a little better once November gets underway. Based on what we’ve seen the last three weeks, though, there’s a lot of work that has to get done before anyone will be expecting that result from Cincinnati.
At some point on Monday, Jets receiver Percy Harvin will get his first taste of the New York media. He already has gotten his new number.
Via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets have announced that Harvin will wear No. 16.
Inevitably, jerseys with that name and number will be available to buy at the team’s official online store. But with Harvin on his third chance and some in the league believing that Harvin’s temperament and attitude and fighting with teammates make him unfit for the privilege of playing in the NFL, there’s a sense that the Jets will cut and run if Harvin’s behavior doesn’t change. So why would anyone invest in a jersey that Harvin may not be wearing for very long?
The better approach may be to dust off the old Brad Smith or Vinny Testaverde jerseys and change the name plate. Or just rip the name plate off. Because it’s likely at this point — with Harvin due to make $10 million in 2015 and the Jets able to avoid a two-round upgrade in the draft pick the Seahawks will get by dumping him — that this is a nine-games-at-most experiment.
The Chargers took a five-game winning streak into Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, but they weren’t able to extend their run any further.
Kansas City took a 23-20 decision, leaving the Chargers to make a quick turnaround to start preparing for Thursday night’s game against the Broncos. They’ll be doing it with a defense that’s been thinned out by injuries.
Linebackers Manti Te’o and Jerry Attaochu and cornerback Jason Verrett were all inactive, defensive tackle Kwame Geathers is on season-ending injured reserve and linebacker Melvin Ingram is on injured reserve with the designation to return, leaving the team shorthanded from the start. Cornerback Brandon Flowers left with a concussion during the game and the team saw several other players shuffle in and out with less severe aches and pains over the course of the afternoon.
Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego reports Verrett is expected to be out again on Thursday and Flowers is going to have a hard time getting cleared so quickly, which would leave the Chargers quite vulnerable to the Denver passing attack.
“Next man up” is a popular and sensible response to the injuries that impact every team, but at some point you run out of next guys. The Chargers are closer to that point than they’d like to be at the moment.
When Washington, fresh from its second win of the season, heads to Dallas with the goal of hanging a second loss on the Cowboys, there’s a chance coach Jay Gruden won’t be confined to two possible quarterback options.
Griffin dislocated his ankle five weeks ago. Per Tandler, Griffin worked out on the field prior to Sunday, with drop-backs and full-speed bootlegs. (You know, the stuff Griffin did on the field during pregame workouts in the 2013 preseason, before he returned too soon from his torn ACL.) Griffin has not yet received medical clearance to play.
“You would like to have your decision made as soon as possible,” Gruden said of preparations for next Monday night. “Now, you throw Robert into the mix. Robert has a chance to practice on Wednesday and we have to see where he is. See where he is health-wise, and from there I will make a decision from watching the tape of what I’m going to do.”
Given Griffin’s struggles last year when he clearly wasn’t fully recovered following reconstructive knee surgery, some close to Griffin will be nudging him to wait until he’s clearly 100 percent. But Griffin surely will be hoping to play in his return to Texas — especially after last year’s homecoming didn’t go as well as his first one.
As a rookie, Griffin had a memorable Thanksgiving Day performance in Dallas, with four touchdown passes and 303 yards passing in a 38-31 victory over the Cowboys. Last year, he had two turnovers, no touchdowns, and a completion percentage under 50 percent in a 31-16 loss there.
If Griffin doesn’t get clearance, Gruden could decide to go with McCoy over Cousins. Which would make sense; McCoy led the team to a win on Sunday. Cousins, after some early success, has looked like anything but a viable starting quarterback for which Washington could get a first-round pick in trade.
The Patriots’ shaky offensive line has gotten some assistance from veterans in recent weeks.
How worried should the Bengals be after Sunday’s loss to the Colts?
The Browns running game never got going against Jacksonville.
Steelers opponents haven’t thrown many blitzes at the team’s offense.
Some Texans players believe that there are benefits from talking trash on the field.
The Colts defense starred in Sunday’s win.
Penalties were problematic for the Titans offensive line.
The Broncos defense showed killer instinct on Sunday night.
Third downs have been problematic for the Raiders this season.
Explaining offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s role with the Eagles.
If their offense is scuffling, the Falcons don’t have much chance of winning.
The Buccaneers need better play from their linebackers.
Said Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, “We know we’re not special. The one thing we talked about all week is you never underestimate an opponent, [and] you damn sure don’t overestimate yourself. We haven’t done anything yet except get to 5-1. There’s a lot of football left.”
For all the time spent last week wondering if Jimmy Graham would play or not, it turned out to not matter.
Graham was able to return from a shoulder injury ahead of schedule, but didn’t do much. He was targeted twice, but didn’t catch a single pass in the Saints’ loss to the Lions.
According to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com, Graham didn’t talk to reporters after the game while getting treatment. Coach Sean Payton would said that “there was a handful of plays tagged for” his Pro Bowl tight end.
But Payton also noted that he didn’t get many snaps in the red zone, which figured to be the easiest way to blend him back in.
“He was in the nickel, some of the third down, some of the red zone,” Payton said. “We kind of did the same thing a year ago [when Graham returned from a plantar fasciitis injury] against Buffalo. We kind of had a set plan in place for him, and the challenge is just making sure you’re ready if you’re not playing on a more frequent basis.”
Getting Graham back on the stat sheet will be crucial for the 2-4 Saints, as their division is still wide open, being led by the 3-3-1 Panthers.
Somebody has to win it and go to the playoffs, and getting Graham back on track seems as likely as the Panthers fixing their entire defense.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Panthers were a team defined by their defense.
But that side of the ball is dragging them down now.
Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review points out the sordid facts about a terrible defense, which has allowed at least 37 points in four of their last five games.
They’ve given up 195 points through seven games, after giving up just 241 all of last season.
“We can’t keep sitting around and waiting on things to happen,” linebacker Thomas Davis said. “As a defense, we’ve got to go out and make things happen. Until we do that, this outcome is going to continue to be like this.”
Quarterbacks in particular are having a field day against their soft secondary,
The last five quarterbacks they’ve played (Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler, Andy Dalton and Aaron Rodgers) have completed 76.5 percent of their passes (124-of-162 for 1,390 yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions), for a passer rating of 116.0.
That’s ridiculous, but somewhat predictable.
The Panthers had an odd cast of defensive backs last year, but they also had Greg Hardy getting 15.0 sacks to make the job of coverage easier. Without that pressure, players are being exposed (notably but not limited to safety Roman Harper and safety-turned-nickel corner Charles Godfrey).
Now, with Hardy awaiting trial on domestic violence charges and on the commissioner’s exempt list — and the money he’s soaking up unavailable to buy reinforcements — the Panthers aren’t stopping anybody.
A few weeks ago, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers showed off his spelling ability in order to tell panicky fans that they should relax when it comes to the team’s offense.
That advice has proven sound over the last few weeks and Sunday’s game against the Panthers was no exception. The Packers rolled to a 38-17 win that saw five different players score touchdowns and Rodgers throw just three incompletions while hooking up with nine different receivers over the course of the afternoon. After the game, Rodgers was asked how play like this compares to his 2011 MVP season and showed that his advice about a relaxed response to the offense’s performance isn’t just a reaction to the negative.
“I think we’re getting closer,” Rodgers said, via ESPN Wisconsin. “I’ve been through a lot of games, tough games, wins, losses, solid performances, poor performances. You’ve got to learn from everything. There were stretches in that  season where I was playing really, really well. And we’re kind of in a stretch right now where we’re playing pretty well.”
The Packers have scored 145 points over the last four weeks while winning each game, something that makes “pretty well” a rather understated description of their performance of late. Rodgers may not want to crow about it, but the offense is on a roll in Green Bay and there’s not much reason to think it will stop in New Orleans next weekend.
Colt McCoy is a winner. And so is Blake Bortles. Kyle Orton and Ryan Tannehill, too. And don’t forget Austin Davis, who made a loser of Russell Wilson. Drew Brees? Like Wilson, a loser. Philip Rivers is a loser, and so is Eli Manning. Cam Newton is a big loser.
That’s one way to look at yesterday’s NFL action. It’s an all too common way to look at the NFL. It’s a ridiculous way to look at the NFL.
There’s a tendency to say that a quarterback “won” a game or “lost” a game, and to diminish a great performance by a quarterback in a losing effort, or prop up a bad performance by a quarterback whose team won, by saying that all that matters is the scoreboard. That tendency should stop. Teams win and lose. Quarterbacks do not.
Colt McCoy played well yesterday in relief of Kirk Cousins as Washington beat Tennessee, but that doesn’t make McCoy a “winner.” It makes him a backup quarterback who did his job well. Blake Bortles played badly, with just 159 passing yards and three interceptions, but the rest of his team played well enough that Jacksonville beat Cleveland. We shouldn’t call Bortles a “winner” based on that performance.
There was a stat making the rounds earlier this season about how Russell Wilson was undefeated against Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. And it’s true. It’s also largely irrelevant to a question of who’s the best quarterback among that group. The quarterback who wins the most is usually the quarterback with the best teammates. Wilson is a good quarterback, but he has a Super Bowl ring more because he played for a team with a great defense last year than because of his own abilities.
And if you think Wilson’s record against Manning, Brady, Brees and Rodgers makes him better than those four quarterbacks, I’d love to know what you thought about Wilson “losing” to Austin Davis yesterday.
Andrew Luck, one of the winning quarterbacks yesterday, said it well after his Colts beat the Bengals: “It’s the greatest team game in the world because you rely on different phases of the game,” Luck said. “I’m just like a fan — I might as well be a fan when our defense is out there. I don’t know what the calls are or anything, but they do a heck of a job and they certainly gave us a great lift today, and I’m glad they got that shutout.”
Luck played well, and the Colts’ defense played well, and Indianapolis won 27-0. But if Luck had played well, the Colts’ defense played badly, and Indianapolis lost 35-27, would that change how good a player Luck is? Of course not.
Tony Romo has taken plenty of heat when his team loses, and now he’s getting lots of credit because the Cowboys are winning, but the reality is Romo is the same quarterback he always was. The Cowboys’ offensive line is better than ever, DeMarco Murray is playing lights out and the Cowboys’ defense is much improved, and so the perennially .500 Cowboys are 6-1. Romo, who got too much blame when the Cowboys were 8-8, will get too much credit if the Cowboys keep winning.
For 55 minutes yesterday, Drew Brees played better against a good Lions defense than Matthew Stafford did against a bad Saints defense. Does the fact that the Saints’ lousy defense finally got exposed in the last five minutes, and Stafford’s Lions beat Brees’s Saints 24-23, make Brees a “loser” and Stafford a “winner”? Of course not.
The quarterback is the most important player on the field, but he is not the singular reason a team wins or loses. The quarterback is on the field for less than half of the game and is one of 11 players on his team when he is playing. Pretending he’s even half of the reason his team wins or loses is silly. A good quarterback might cost 10 percent of his team’s salary cap, so maybe a highly paid quarterback should get 10 percent of the credit when his team wins or 10 percent of the blame when his team loses. The bulk of the reason a team wins or loses is reflected in the 90 percent or more of the salary cap that the team spends on the other players on the roster.
A free safety isn’t judged by winning and losing, and neither is a guard or a linebacker or a tight end. A quarterback shouldn’t be judged by winning and losing, either. He should be judged by the quality of his own play. If that contributes to his team winning, great. If he plays great and his team loses anyway, he’s not a loser.
Here are my other thoughts on Sunday’s action:
Hurry it up, refs. Few things are more aggravating while watching a game than waiting forever to hear the ref announce the result of a replay review. There was an absurdly long review in Dallas on Sunday to check the spot on a play that was initially ruled a first down but later overturned on replay. There’s just no good reason for the refs to delay the game any longer than the standard time it takes for a commercial break. Make the call and move the game along.
What ever happened to Michael Sam? Remember when Sam was supposed to be the dreaded “distraction” in Dallas? Now he’s totally disappeared. He’s just another anonymous guy on the practice squad, no different than any other practice squad player. I didn’t hear anyone mention him during the Giants-Cowboys game. I haven’t heard anyone mention him in weeks. It’s amazing how quickly something that’s supposed to be a big deal becomes ordinary.
DeMarco Murray could make history. The season Murray is having for the Cowboys is unbelievable. In Sunday’s win over the Giants he topped 100 yards, just as he’s done in every game this year, making him the first player in NFL history to rush for 100 yards in each of the first seven games of a season. Murray is on pace to finish this season with 2,087 yards, putting him within shouting distance of Eric Dickerson’s all-time record of 2,105 yards in a season.
Ahmad Bradshaw could make history, too. No running back in NFL history has ever had 10 receiving touchdowns in a season. Even great pass-catching running backs like Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig never did it. But Bradshaw, who caught his sixth touchdown pass of the season in Sunday’s win over the Bengals, has a real shot at it. The Colts’ passing game is excellent, and Bradshaw gets a lot of red zone targets, and I like his chances of scoring four more touchdowns in the next nine games, giving him the all-time receiving touchdown record for a running back.
Seattle’s far from done, but not in great shape either. At 3-3 after yesterday’s loss to the Rams, the Seahawks still have plenty of time to turn their season around. But this is two straight weeks in which Seattle has lost and looked bad doing it. It also hurts that the Seahawks are in a tough division (third place in the NFC West, behind both the Cardinals and the 49ers), and a conference in which the wild card race will be competitive (two good teams in the NFC North and two good teams in the NFC East). Seattle is certainly good enough to make the playoffs and to repeat as champions. But things need to get turned around soon.
One thing that can be said for the Seahawks is that Russell Wilson is playing outstanding football: On Sunday he became the first player in NFL history to rush for 100 yards and pass for 300 yards in the same game. Wilson is playing better football this year than he did last year. That’s clear to anyone who can see that assessing a quarterback is about more than just wins and losses.
The Bears have plenty of problems at the moment, as evidenced by their third straight home loss yesterday, this one to the Dolphins.
That loss made for a heated locker room, with wide receiver Brandon Marshall calling out the entire roster.
But Bears guard Kyle Long decided to take out his frustrations on a group of people who had nothing to do with the result, after getting booed as they came off the field at halftime trailing 14-0.
“I don’t know if upset is the word I would use,” Long said, via Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com. “As somebody that is blood, sweat and tears in this locker room like the other guys, the coaches, the trainers, the staff and the equipment guys, to be getting booed at home when you’re walking off the field down two possessions is unacceptable — especially when there is not a lot of noise being made on third down [when Miami had the ball], period.”
The Seahawks had several special teams breakdowns against the Rams on Sunday, their offense was a non-factor until they were already down 18 points and their defense let the Rams go 80 yards in four minutes in the fourth quarter to slow down Seattle’s comeback attempt.
Despite all of that, safety Earl Thomas thinks something else is to blame for the team’s second straight loss. Thomas looked in the direction of the officials, who ruled that the Rams should retain possession after a late fumble by Rams running back Tre Mason on a play that the Seahawks felt was judged incorrectly. The ruling on the field was that the Rams recovered and NFL officiating head Dean Blandino explained that all angles were reviewed and there was no clear visual evidence of who came up with the ball.
“Player coming out of pile w/loose ball is not a clear recovery. Need video evidence of him gaining possession. Play was reviewed in NY,” Blandino wrote on Twitter.
Thomas saw something more nefarious at play, however, and said that the team is “battling the officials” in addition to the opposing team right now.
“Yeah. At least give us a shot. But you know what? I’m not surprised with the referees this season. If you really look at some plays, we’re playing more than our opponents. We’re playing the referees too. I don’t care what anybody is saying. Something is wrong. That needs to be brought up,” Thomas said, via the Seattle Times. “It’s kind of crazy how football is turning out now. You give a guy, just because he wears a white and black shirt, he has authority of the game. Man, they need to stay out of it — that’s my key — and let us dominate.”
If the Seahawks were truly dominating the Rams on Sunday, there wouldn’t have been a place for the officials to impact the outcome of the game. For the second straight week, though, the Seahawks struggled for stretches in all areas of the game and that explains the 28-26 loss a lot more easily than the ruling on a disputed fumble recovery or anything else.