Buccaneers sticking with Ryan Fitzpatrick

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After Sunday’s 16-3 loss to Washington, Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter said the team would discuss “all personnel issues” when asked about who would start at quarterback against the Giants in Week 11.

On Monday, Koetter announced there would be no change. Ryan Fitzpatrick will start for the third week in a row and the seventh time this season.

Fitzpatrick was 29-of-41 for 406 yards against Washington, but he threw two interceptions and lost a fumble to help bury the team’s chances of winning for the fourth time this year. Fitzpatrick also threw two interceptions in Tampa’s Week Nine loss to the Panthers.

Jameis Winston returned to the team after a three-game suspension to open the season and moved into the starting lineup in Week Six. He was benched in favor of Fitzpatrick in Week Eight and has not played since that point.

Todd Bowles not planning staff changes “at this time”

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Reports on Monday indicated that the Jets won’t be firing head coach Todd Bowles before the end of the season and it doesn’t look like Bowles will follow the lead of Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis by firing an assistant in the wake of a blowout loss.

Bowles said on a Monday conference call that he does not plan to make any changes to the coaching staff “at this time.” Bowles did add that the team could “reevaluate” that plan over their bye week.

The Jets made a change at offensive coordinator in the offseason with Jeremy Bates moving up from quarterbacks coach to replace John Morton. Chan Gailey was the offensive coordinator in Bowles’ first two seasons with the Jets. Defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers has been on the staff throughout Bowles’ tenure.

Bowles received an extension through 2020 late last year, but the team has to do some reevaluating of those plans after watching the way this season has unfolded.

“Pretty good chance” Sammy Watkins plays against Rams

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Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins didn’t play in Sunday’s 26-14 win over the Cardinals because of a foot injury, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be out of the lineup much longer.

Head coach Andy Reid said on Monday that there’s a “pretty good chance” that Watkins will be able to play against the Rams in Mexico City next Monday night. The Chiefs will have a bye after that game, so Watkins will have plenty of time to heal up if he doesn’t get the green light to play.

If Watkins does play, he’ll get a chance to go up against the team he played for during the 2017 season. Watkins went to L.A. just before the start of the season in a trade with the Bills and then left for Kansas City as a free agent this offseason.

Reid gave linebacker Anthony Hitchens the same odds of playing next week. Hitchens was active on Sunday, but didn’t play with injured ribs.

Mark Davis: Don’t blame Jon Gruden for the Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper trades

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With Raiders fans taking aim at old/new coach Jon Gruden, still fairly new owner Mark Davis decided to grant an interview aimed at shifting accountability from someone who (in theory) can be fired to someone who can’t be.

Davis, in a conversation with Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com, addressed the controversial decisions to trade pass rusher Khalil Mack and receiver Amari Cooper. The message from Davis: Don’t blame Gruden, blame me.

Davis said that the team initially tried to sign Mack to an extension in 2017, after making quarterback Derek Carr the highest paid (for a brief time) player in the league. The Raiders offered, according to Davis, a package that would have made Mack the highest paid (also possibly for a brief time) player in the league. Mack and his agent, Joel Segal, passed.

“[T]hey decided they didn’t want to do it that early,” Davis told Gutierrez. “They would wait.”

So wait they did. Then came the unofficial hiring of Jon Gruden, the firing of Jack Del Rio, the official hiring of Gruden, and a single conversation in January between Gruden and Mack.

“That’s the last time Jon and Khalil talked,” Davis said.

As previously explained here and elsewhere, the Raiders tried in February to extend Mack. The two sides weren’t able to reach an accord. At that point, as PFT has heard it, the Raiders decided to spend their money on other players, leaving them with a budget that provided only for the $13.846 million that Mack was due to make under the fifth year of his rookie deal.

“From that point on, [Mack] would not talk to anyone in our organization,” Davis said. “Not [G.M.] Reggie [McKenzie], not Jon, not anybody.”

Davis insists that Gruden wanted to keep Mack around.

“Jon wanted him,” Davis said. “Everybody thinks that Jon’s the one who wanted to get rid of him. Jon wanted him badly. Why wouldn’t you want this guy? Reggie wanted him badly. And I wanted him badly, too. But, if in fact we were going to give the type of money that we were going to give to him, and we had Derek on that type of a [contract], how were we going to go ahead and build this football team, with all the holes that we had?”

But they could have done it, if they’d wanted to do it. The salary cap keeps going up, and increases in the quarterback market already has relegated Carr’s deal to second-tier status. The Raiders could have found a way to pay Mack, sooner or later.

The Raiders opted for later, squatting on Mack during the final year of his rookie deal and assuming that he’d show up and play. Davis confirmed that this was indeed the approach.

“My thought was, ‘Listen, he signed a five-year contract, if he’s the type of guy that I think he is, he’s going to honor that contract,'” Davis said. “And he’s going to come in and play for the $13 million for this year and then we’ll work for him during the year and get it. Word came back through certain players that know him and talk to him and know me as well, that he wasn’t going to come in. He was going to do the Le'Veon Bell [holdout]. At that point, I said, ‘Eff it. The guy hasn’t talked to anybody. We’ve got to do something.'”

Davis mentioned a second time the concept of Mack “honoring” the fifth year of his contract. But the reality continues to be that there are two types of contracts that apply to NFL players: Their individual contract with the team, and the broader contract that governs the relationship between all players and the league. Under the latter contract, Mack and all players have rights. Mack exercised those rights. And the Raiders blinked, once they knew that the Rams had given defensive tackle Aaron Donald $22.5 million per year, and that the Raiders would never do the same for Mack.

So, basically, Mack leveraged his rights under the labor contract, even if it technically meant not “honoring” his obligations under his specific employment contract with the Raiders.

After taking on Mack and losing badly, Davis decided he didn’t want to go 0-2 by taking on Cooper, who also is represented by Segal, and experiencing the same outcome.

“It might not have been the right decision, but the other point to this whole thing is that Segal is also the agent for Amari Cooper,” Davis said. “And we knew the same situation was coming up the next year. It wasn’t just one layer of chess; it was two layers of chess.”

Call it chess or checkers or chicken, the Raiders lost. And now Davis admits it. Which sends a dangerous message to all other players and agents who will be negotiating with the Raiders in the coming year.

Bottom line? You can play hardball with the Raiders, and you can win. Big.

Saints sign Brandon Marshall

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For the second week in a row, the Saints are adding a veteran wide receiver to the roster.

It’s Brandon Marshall this time and he will take the spot that Dez Bryant was expected to fill when he signed with the team last week. Bryant tore his Achilles in practice on Friday, however, and Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that New Orleans got a deal done with Marshall on Monday.

Unlike Bryant, Marshall has played in the NFL this season. He played in seven games with the Seahawks before being released last month. Marshall had 11 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown during his time in Seattle.

The Saints are the seventh team to employ Marshall and none of the other six made it to the playoffs while Marshall was on the team. It would take a pretty major change of fortune for the 8-1 Saints for that streak to continue.

Cryptic tweet from Jalen Ramsey hints at, well, something

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The Jaguars started 2-0. They’ve now lost six of their last seven, punctuated by Sunday’s loss to a Colts team that started the year 1-5.

The Jaguars now occupy last place in the AFC South, all by themselves. And it may not be a place where cornerback Jalen Ramsey wants to be.

“When I’m gone from here, y’all gone miss me,” Ramsey tweeted on Monday morning. “I ain’t even trippin lol.”

It’s not clear what Ramsey means, but many will regard the message as a sign that the third-year cornerback won’t be finishing his career with the Jaguars.

The Jaguars hold Ramsey’s rights through 2020. After that, the Jaguars can apply the franchise tag to Ramsey in 2021 and 2022 before facing the quarterback-tender conundrum that the Steelers will face with Le'Veon Bell. Which, given what we’ve all recently learned regarding the franchise tender as applied to Le’Veon Bell, Ramsey could skip both 2021 and 2022 and force his way to free agency in 2023.

During a recent visit to PFT Live, Ramsey seemed to be fine with the Jaguars. Of course, that was before the Jaguars lost to the once 1-5 Colts.

Report: Bengals fire defensive coordinator Teryl Austin

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Giving up 51 points to the Saints has cost Bengals defensive coordinator Teryl Austin his job.

Austin has been fired this morning, Josina Anderson of ESPN reports.

This was Austin’s first season as the Bengals’ defensive coordinator after spending the last four years as the Lions’ defensive coordinator. He has been mentioned in the past as a head-coaching candidate, but this year the Bengals’ defense has been a mess, and head coach Marvin Lewis has decided that it’s time to make a change.

Despite the ugly defense, the Bengals are 5-4 and still in the thick of the playoff race. Lewis himself will likely take a more direct role in coaching the defense for the rest of the season, as the Bengals try to find their way to the postseason.

Dak Prescott: We have to use this as momentum

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Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was in a mood to look to the future rather than the past after Sunday night’s win in Philadelphia.

Prescott was sharp passing the ball and running back Ezekiel Elliott went for 151 yards, which led to a question for Prescott if it felt like a return to the way things were in 2016. Prescott said he doesn’t “go back and look and try to compare now to then” in response to that query and later said that the key for the team is to use the win as a building block for the rest of the year.

“We just have to use this as momentum and continue to grow,” Prescott said in his postgame press conference. “This is a winning team and it’s great when you go on the road and win. It’s the first time doing that this year so it’s important to us just to feel that and feel that energy in the locker room and to make sure we don’t forget that. That’s what we’re trying to do every time that we go on the road or every game.”

As Prescott mentioned, Sunday night was the first road win of the year for the Cowboys. They’ll get a chance for a second in Atlanta next weekend and that game will also offer Dallas a chance for its first winning streak of the 2018 season.

Accomplishing that would move them to 5-5 with a chance to gain ground on Washington at home on Thanksgiving and that would make for a very different picture for the Cowboys than the one they painted in the first eight games of the season.

FMIA Week 10: Rams Manage Win After Fire-Filled Week of ‘Horror’

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The Rams won Sunday, a footnote in an extraordinary week for the franchise and the community it calls home. Peter King kicks off his Football Morning in America Week 10 column with how the Rams navigated a fire-filled week of horror, plus so much more, including:

• Reporting from the field at Arrowhead, how the Chiefs overcame a relatively lackluster performance to beat the hapless Cardinals.

• Why Bill Belichick can’t seem to beat his proteges, as evidenced by Mike Vrabel’s Titans laying it on the Patriots in Nashville.

• What exactly Le’Veon Bell has missed out on financially by sitting out the 2018 season.

• More thoughts, notes and opinions on the Saints’ eighth straight win; the stunning Buffalo-Barkley performance; Pittsburgh’s loud statement win; MVP Watch; Week 10 awards.

• Plus 10 things, factoids, coffeenerdness, a Monday night prediction and a thorough list of the top 20 offensive and defensive rookies in football. [more]

Sunday Night wrap-up: Cowboys keep hope alive with 27-20 win

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Leave it to the Cowboys to lose to Tennessee at home on Monday night and beat the Eagles on the road on Sunday night.

With everyone ready to bury them, the Cowboys pulled off an upset that saved their season for at least another week. They beat the defending Super Bowl champions 27-20.

The winner was Washington, which is sitting pretty at the top of the NFC East with a 6-3 record. The Cowboys and Eagles both are 4-5.

It was the Cowboys’ first road victory after four road losses and their most unlikely win this season.

Dallas never trailed Philadelphia, and the two times the Eagles tied the score in the second half, the Cowboys responded with Ezekiel Elliott go-ahead touchdowns.

Elliott called it a “must-win” last week, and he made sure the Cowboys won Sunday. He had his second-best game of the season, rushing for 151 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries while catching six passes for 36 yards and a touchdown.

Elliott’s 1-yard touchdown run with 3:19 remaining proved the game-winner as the Eagles came up short on their final two drives.

The game ended with the Eagles inside the Cowboys 10-yard line, but out of timeouts, they didn’t get off another play.

Dak Prescott also had one of his best games of the season against a secondary ravaged by injuries. He completed 26 of 36 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 9 yards and a touchdown on six carries.

It was a disappointing and frustrating night for the home team, which was coming off its open date while the Cowboys were on a short week. Eagles fans booed their own team more than once.

Carson Wentz went 32-of-44 for 360 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, but he fell 9 yards short of a chance of extending the game with a PAT or winning it with a 2-point conversion.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. Jason Garrett may have saved his job.

At least for another week. The Cowboys coach likely still needs to earn a playoff berth, and to do that, his team likely will have to win the NFC East.

The Cowboys are expected to need at least nine wins to accomplish that, and at 4-5, they have no room for error.

But the hot seat will cool a little this week for Garrett, who has retained Jerry Jones’ support despite the team’s early season struggles.

Garrett is 71-58 since replacing Wade Phillips during the middle of the 2010 season, and he has only two postseason berths.

2. Golden Tate will help but not immediately.

Coach Doug Pederson said last week the Eagles had “a nice, tight plan” for Tate.

It was tight all right, and quiet.

The Eagles acquired Tate in a trade deadline deal with the Lions on Oct. 30. He caught eight passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in Week Four against the Cowboys. Tate caught only two passes for 19 yards Sunday.

His assimilation into the offense will take some time.

Tate led the Lions with 44 catches for 517 yards and three touchdowns. That put him on pace for his first 100-catch season and his fourth 1,000-yard season in five seasons with the Lions, but he is unlikely to reach 100 catches and could fall short of 1,000 yards.

Still, Tate arrived with only one goal in mind, and the Eagles traded for him with the same goal in mind. Tate will help before the season is done.

3. Zach Ertz is one of the best tight ends in football.

He entered the game with 61 receptions for 644 yards and three touchdowns. He had 14 catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns Sunday.

The Cowboys couldn’t stop him until his final catch, tackling him at the 9 as time expired. In 11 career games against Dallas, he has 52 catches for 504 yards and four touchdowns.

Ertz easily could set single-season career highs, with 78 catches, 853 yards and eight touchdowns as his current single-season bests.

4. The Cowboys aren’t likely to keep Sean Lee next season unless he agrees to a pay cut.

The weakside linebacker missed his 46th of a possible 137 games in his career. Hamstring injuries cost him 14 of those games, including Sunday’s.

Lee’s contract runs through 2019, with a $7 million base salary and a $10.1 million salary cap hit for next season. The Cowboys can save $7 million by cutting him before next season, and Lee would count only $3.075 million in dead money.

Rookie Leighton Vander Esch, the team’s first-round pick, showed them the future with Lee on the sideline. He intercepted Wentz in the first quarter to set up the Cowboys’ first field goal.

He had the play of the game in the fourth quarter, too, tackling Corey Clement for a 5-yard loss on third-and-two from the Dallas 30 with less than two minutes remaining. It appeared Clement had a big gain with blockers out in front before Vander Esch blew it up. Jeff Heath tackled Ertz short of the first down on the next play, forcing the Eagles to turn it over on downs.

Vander Esch finished with 13 tackles, a tackle for loss, a pass breakup and an interception.

5. The Eagles miss Jay Ajayi.

They are having a tough time running the ball, with three running backs combining for 14 carries for 64 yards. Wentz had two carries for 7 yards.

Ajayi had 499 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns on 80 touches in seven games last season. The Eagles don’t have any reinforcements coming, so they’ll have to make do with what they have.

At halftime, NBC studio analyst Tony Dungy reminded Pederson not to forget about the run, so maybe running it better is as simple as running it more.

Andrew Luck plays his fourth consecutive game without getting sacked

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Early this season, there were major concerns about Andrew Luck‘s shoulder injury, and the Colts’ ability to keep him from getting hurt again. Those concerns are fast disappearing.

Luck has been playing very well lately, and he hasn’t been taking many hits. In fact, today’s win over the Jaguars was Luck’s fourth consecutive game without taking a single sack.

The credit for that should go to a combination of Colts head coach Frank Reich (who has put together a very good offense to help Luck get the ball out quickly), the Colts’ offensive line (which is much improved from last season) and Luck himself.

Luck has been playing some of his best football in recent weeks. Over the last four games, Luck has completed 83 of 126 passes for 981 yards, with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. And, of course, zero sacks.

At 4-5, the Colts still have an uphill path to the playoffs. But they’ve won three straight games and are starting to look like the team they hoped they’d be, with Luck leading the way.

Nick Chubb: Now that I’m getting carries, I’m trying to make the most of them

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Before he was fired as the Browns head coach, Hue Jackson talked a lot about getting rookie running back Nick Chubb more work.

It took Carlos Hyde getting traded to the Jaguars for Chubb to actually see a spike in his usage and the results make you wonder if Jackson might still have the job if he’d given Chubb the ball instead of just talking about it. Chubb has 78 carries for 406 yards and three touchdowns over the last four games and the last of those scores came in Sunday’s 28-16 win over the Falcons.

Chubb set a Browns record with a 92-yard touchdown run and Chubb said after the game that it is “very special just being in this place with so much history.” Chubb’s also happy that he’s getting a chance to make some of that history after sitting in the early weeks of the year.

“It is always great to win no matter what it takes,” Chubb said. “I am willing to do anything they ask me to do and I was. Not getting many carries, I still took advantage of the ones I got just to help this team anyway I could. That is still [the same]. Now, I am getting more carries, and I am going to make the most out of all of them.”

Quarterback Baker Mayfield also threw a touchdown to Chubb on Sunday and the partnership between the two rookies is a big reason for Browns fans to feel good about how things are shaping up for the team.

Rams outlast Seahawks for 36-31 win

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There will be two 9-1 teams taking the field in Mexico City a week from Monday.

The Chiefs did their part by beating the Cardinals early on Sunday, which left the Rams to take care of business against the Seahawks later in the day. It wasn’t the easiest of games and the Seahawks briefly took the lead in the second half, but the Rams took a 36-31 win when all was said and done.

One thing they’ll need to clean up before taking on the Chiefs will be the run defense. The Seahawks ran 34 times for 273 yards on Sunday with first-roun pick Rashaad Penny clearing 100 yards for the first time in his career. Russell Wilson added 92 yards and the Seahawks were able to move the ball on the ground all day.

Wilson also threw three touchdowns, including one to Mike Davis just after the two minute warning in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks defense forced a three and out and Seattle moved the ball to the 35-yard-line, but three straight incompletions meant the Rams held on for the win.

All of the Rams’ biggest offensive stars had a hand in the win. Todd Gurley had 160 total yards and his 17th touchdown of the season, Brandin Cooks had 100 receiving yards and a touchdown run and Jared Goff was 28-of-39 for 318 yards and two touchdowns. On defense, Aaron Donald had 2.5 sacks and Dante Fowler shook off a pair of costly penalties with a strip sack of Wilson in the fourth quarter that helped balance the trouble stopping the run.

The Seahawks are now 4-5 and they have the Packers and Panthers on deck the next two weeks. Wins in those games may be essential to any playoff hopes in Seattle.

The Rams don’t have the same kind of concerns heading into the marquee matchup of Week 11, but bragging rights will definitely be up for grabs south of the border.

Chargers earn an easy win over hapless Raiders

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The Chargers didn’t put together their best performance of the season today, but fortunately they were playing the Raiders.

Philip Rivers had a workmanlike effort, and Melvin Gordon had a couple big plays, and the Chargers went to Oakland and won 20-6.

The Raiders’ offense marched down the field and kicked a field goal on the first drive of the game, but after that Oakland didn’t do much of anything. The Raiders’ biggest gain came from, of all people, punter Johnny Townsend, who ran 42 yards on a fake punt. That was one of the few exciting moments from the Raiders, who haven’t had many exciting moments this season.

The best news today from the Chargers may be that they’ve finally found a kicker. Mike Badgley went 2-for-2 on field goals and 2-for-2 on extra points. The Chargers’ offense and defense have both played well this year, but their special teams have been a disaster, and having a competent kicker would go a long way toward making the Chargers contenders.

The Chargers are now 7-2 this season, and although they remain a game behind the Chiefs in the AFC West, as long as they keep winning, they can keep the division race interesting. The Raiders fall to 1-8, and the only interesting question for them this season is whether they’ll get the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft.

Morris Claiborne says Jets “laid down” on Sunday

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In his postgame press conference, Jets head coach Todd Bowles said that he thought the team’s effort level was fine in their 41-10 loss to the Bills but one of the team’s defensive starters disagrees with him.

Cornerback Morris Claiborne said he doesn’t feel like anybody quit during the blowout loss, but that may just be because he doesn’t think they showed up in the first place.

“We didn’t come to play today, in no way,” Claiborne said, via NJ.com. “It’s one of the first times I can honestly say that someone came in and just whooped us. We kind of laid down to it. It’s very stressful. I’m at a loss myself.”

Claiborne went on to say that the issue with effort is on the players and not something to blame on the coaching staff.

“I feel like you shouldn’t have to talk about effort. Being an NFL player, that’s the least you can do, is give effort. I feel like every guy in the locker room should be able to put effort into whatever you’re doing, no matter what that is.”

Other Jets joined Claiborne in saying that neither Bowles nor the other coaches were to blame, but there’s no good way for Bowles or anyone else from the Jets to spin what happened on Sunday. They got humiliated by a 2-7 team starting its fourth quarterback of the season to extend their losing streak to four games and push Bowles’ record to 13-29 since the start of the 2016 season.