AROUND THE NFL

If the Season Ended Today in the NFC – we have nine teams vying for six spots.  It was a good week for the Panthers as the Vikings and Packers (this week’s foe of Carolina) lost:

 

                                                Overall        Div           Conf

 

1          San Francisco   West     8-0               1          5-0

2          New Orleans     South    7-1              1           5-1

3          Green Bay        North     7-2               1           4-1

4          Dallas                East      5-3                1          4-2

5          Seattle               WC       7-2                2          4-1     

6          Minnesota         WC        6-3                2          5-2

7          LA Rams                         5-3                3          3-3

8          Carolina                          5-3                2          2-3     

9          Philadelphia                    5-4                2          3-4

 

Counting down from the top – San Francisco still has games with at New Orleans, Green Bay, Seattle, at Seattle, LA Rams (plus at Baltimore).

 

 

NFC EAST

 

PHILADELPHIA

WR DeSEAN JACKSON will not be helping the 5-4 Eagles anymore this season.  Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:

 

@RapSheet

#Eagles WR DeSean Jackson is having surgery to repair a core muscle injury tomorrow, sources say. Based on the timing, it appears unlikely he’ll play again this season.

 

Some of Rapoport’s comments provide context:

 

@Kadrien756Kyle

@RapSheet Should have had the surgery right after being hurt. Ridiculous

 

@hawkins235

He needs to retire

 

@TAE_HAWKS

@RapSheet

Daily reminder that the eagles chose whiteside over DK metcalf 😏✌🏾

 

 

WASHINGTON

Normally, NFL players crave the support of the NFLPA as they battle ownership.  But Mark Maske of the Washington Post says T TRENT WILLIAMS wants the NFLPA out of any joint review of his medical records.

 

The NFL Players Association, at the request of Trent Williams, decided not to move forward for now on a joint review with the league of the medical treatment given by the Washington Redskins to their seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle.

 

It is the latest procedural maneuver in the increasingly bitter confrontation between the Redskins and their most accomplished player, who has alleged that team doctors failed for years to take seriously a cancerous growth on his head, leading to his recent five-month holdout.

 

While this latest back and forth could contribute to the animosity between Williams and the franchise, it is not expected to have a significant impact on the question of whether Williams will play for the team again.

 

According to a person familiar with the situation, the NFLPA never agreed to participate in the joint review, which would be conducted under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, despite Friday’s announcement by the league that the review would take place.

 

NFLPA officials had not spoken to Williams at that point, the person said, and when they did so later Friday, he was adamant that he did not want the NFLPA to participate.

 

So the union is not proceeding with the review under the CBA at this time, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a sensitive situation. The union could choose to do so later, even over Williams’s objection, if new information surfaces and the NFLPA believes that the rights of other players must be protected.

 

It also is conceivable that the league could push for the review to proceed without the consent of Williams and the NFLPA, according to that person. But Williams has the right, if he chooses, to withhold access to his medical records from the medical experts who would be chosen to conduct the review.

 

DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFLPA, confirmed Williams’s objection to the review in a written statement released after Smith first disclosed Williams’s wishes Monday in a radio appearance on 106.7 the Fan.

 

“Our union will continue to support Trent,” Smith said in the statement. “Although he has asked us to not pursue a formal review of his treatment, we will consider all legal action if the affirmative disinformation campaign and the leaking of his private medical records does not stop. Doctors have an ethical obligation to treat our men as patients first regardless of where their check comes from. It is our job to ensure that they honor that duty and if we find that they have not, we must then hold the physician accountable to the CBA and their medical licensing authority.”

 

The Redskins asked for the review this past Thursday, hours after Williams alleged that team doctors failed — for more than five years — to take seriously a growth on his head. This past winter, the growth was diagnosed as a rare form of cancer that Williams said had nearly gone through his skull and into his brain. The cancer, Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans, or DFSP, has a 10-year survival rate of 99 percent. But the experience rattled Williams, who said he was told by a doctor to get his affairs in order because of the fact he might die, and underwent three surgical procedures to remove the tumor and repair his skin.

 

Williams did not return to the Redskins after his surgery, asking to be traded and then holding out for five months.

 

On Sunday, the NFLPA put out a statement supporting Williams and slamming an NFL Network report by former Redskins general manager Charley Casserly, who is now a contributor for the league-owned network, that said Williams was told by a Redskins doctor to see a specialist about the growth three years ago but never did.

 

“We are also aware of misinformation being repeated on the NFL’s own network that is not sourced and is only designed to tarnish Trent’s reputation,” the NFLPA’s Sunday statement said, in part. “Our union supports Trent, is protecting his rights and continues to consider potential action if a campaign against him continues.”

 

One can assume he was told three years ago to see a specialist.  That said, does the team have more of an obligation to find the specialist, set up the appointment, legitimately act concerned and keep bugging him until he acts?

 

NFC SOUTH

 

CAROLINA

QB CAM NEWTON is done for the year with his foot injury.  Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The Panthers have ended the weekly questions about Cam Newton‘s status, by shutting him down for the season.

 

The team announced the former MVP was being placed on IR because of the foot problem that has kept him on the sidelines since Week Two.

 

“For the past seven weeks, Cam has diligently followed a program of rest and rehab and still is experiencing pain in his foot,” General Manager Marty Hurney said in a statement. “He saw two foot specialists last week who agreed that he should continue that path prescribed by the team’s medical staff, and that it likely will take significant time for the injury to fully heal.

 

“We have said all along that it is impossible to put a timetable on this injury. Nobody is more frustrated with that fact than Cam. He’s one of the fiercest competitors I’ve been around during my 20-plus years in the league. At this time, we have decided that the best decision to reach the goal of bringing the foot back to 100 percent is to place Cam on injured reserve.”

 

While the timeline would potentially allow a playoff return, the Panthers are effectively in the hands of Kyle Allen for the rest of the year.

 

He’s 5-1 as the starter this year, playing efficiently except for the seal-beating he took in San Francisco.

 

The bigger question for the Panthers and Newton will be about his future, as he’ll be entering the final year of his contract in 2020, after two straight seasons which ended because of injury. That makes him just one of many questions about the future there, with little certainly about the future of Hurney or coach Ron Rivera either.

 

AFC WEST

 

THE RAIDERS

Jon Gruden is no fan of playing on Thursday. Myles Simmons of the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

 

It’s common knowledge that most players and coaches are not fans of Thursday Night Football — even if they don’t say it.

 

But Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said the hush-hush thing out loud during his Monday press conference.

 

“I hate this. I don’t believe in this Thursday football,” Gruden said. “We take a lot of pride in getting our guys ready to play — we need a little time to do that. But a lot of people disagree with me, obviously.”

 

Gruden has coached three Thursday games in his career — and lost all three of them. The first came on an ESPN “Thursday Night Special” in December 1999, when the Raiders fell to the Titans 21-14.

 

Then he coached the Buccaneers to a 38-10 loss to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving in 2006 — a game memorable for being now-CBS broadcaster Tony Romo’s coming out party. He threw five touchdown passes.

 

Finally last year, Gruden was at the helm for the Raiders’ 34-3 loss to the 49ers in Week 9.

 

 “It hurts us — it hurts both teams,” Gruden said of playing on Thursday.

 

This week will especially be a challenge considering the Chargers are coming off their best game — a 26-11 victory over the Packers. Pass rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram kept Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers under pressure all afternoon, combining for 3.0 sacks and six quarterback hits.

 

“They’re two of the best. They’re dynamic players. The effort level that they have is special,” Gruden said. “We’ll have our hands full with them.”

 

Given how the Raiders struggled against the Packers’ passing game — Rodgers finished with a perfect passer rating for the first time in his career in Week 7 — and how the Chargers dominated it, how did Gruden react to seeing Los Angeles’ 26-11 win on Sunday?

 

“Makes for a tough, sad day,” Gruden said, eliciting some laughs. “It’s hard — like I said to the team after the game, it’s fun to win but it’s one of these wins we can’t enjoy for very long. It’s a short, short turnaround and before you know it, we’ll be back in the Coliseum playing again.”

 

As much as Gruden has coached, it’s hard to believe he’s only coached on Thursday four times.

– – –

Rising Raiders DE ARDEN KEY will take a seat for the rest of the year.  Grant Gordon of NFL.com:

 

The beleaguered Raiders pass rush took a hit on Sunday that’s likely to hobble the unit for the remainder of the season.

 

Oakland defensive end Arden Key broke his foot on Sunday against the Lions and is expected to miss the remainder of the season, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Tuesday morning.

 

Rapoport added that Key is getting a second opinion from Dr. Robert Anderson to confirm the initial view.

 

With a sack in each of the last two games, Key has two on the season, which is good enough for second on the Raiders, who have just 15 sacks on the year.

 

A third-round pick by the Raiders out of LSU in 2018, Key was a starter in 10 games as a rookie, but was yet to start in 2019. Still, over the last two games he began to find his stride, but is now likely done for 2019.

 

 

LONDON CHARGERS

Humble brag – back in 2015, the DB said the Chargers move to LA would fail and that the team would be the perfect candidate to become the mythical London franchise.  We have always envisioned it under different ownership, but they literally have no fan base, perfectly cleansed and ready to go.

 

Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic now says there are those who have figured this out as well.

 

The NFL concluded its annual four-game London series on Sunday in front of a robust, energetic crowd of 83,000 at Wembley Stadium. In all, more than 286,000 fans packed Wembley and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as the league showcased its brand to European fans.

 

It marked the 13th straight year the NFL has played games in London. More than two million fans have bought tickets, while merchandise sales and television ratings continue to surge. There is a robust fanbase, a ready-made venue, the necessary political support and more than enough local corporate sponsorship entities to support a permanent team in capital city of England.

 

The only thing lacking is an NFL owner with the vision and boldness to see past and work around any logistical issues of playing overseas and make the leap of moving his or her franchise across the Atlantic.

 

That might be changing.

 

The Athletic has learned through NFL sources that the possibility of the Chargers moving to London has been broached among league personnel. The Athletic also has learned that, while the team is fully committed to Los Angeles where it will move into the new $4.5 billion stadium with the Rams next year, the Chargers would at least listen if the NFL approached them about London as a possible option.

 

Finally, The Athletic has learned that NFL owners are concerned enough about the Chargers’ situation in L.A., where a crowded sports market and the presence of the more established Rams has resulted in a tepid embracement of the Chargers, that they would provide the necessary support for a relocation to London if the Chargers pursue it.

 

In other words, London offers the Chargers and the NFL an immediate and rare opportunity to fix a glaring problem in a way that checks off multiple boxes, both for the franchise and the league.

 

The Chargers would move into a viable venue — likely the NFL-ready Tottenham Hotspur Stadium — that would offer all the perks and monetary benefits necessary to remain financially competitive with the other 31 NFL teams. And they would have the region and market all to themselves to cultivate a fanbase.

 

The NFL seems to be taking note. And the necessary support for a Chargers move there could be available among fellow owners.

 

“Some would be happy …” a high-ranking NFL official told The Athletic. “But all of them (are concerned) about them in L.A. So I think they would get (support).”

 

“We are fully committed and focused on Los Angeles and look forward to continuing to build our fanbase as we transition to our new stadium,” Chargers owner Dean Spanos told The Athletic this week. “We’re seeing progress every day, and we look forward to building on that.”

 

Should the Chargers pursue the move, the NFL could help build the team’s bridge to London by transferring the $650 million relocation fee it still must pay for the L.A. move to a London relocation. The Chargers also could switch divisions with the Houston Texans — the Chargers to the AFC South and the Texans to the AFC West — or perhaps the league could move the Chargers to the AFC East, Miami Dolphins to the AFC South and Texans to the AFC West.

 

In doing so, the NFL would eliminate the continuing problem of the Chargers’ awkward fit in Los Angeles, where they are trying to succeed in a challenging market that went two decades without a team. The Rams relocated from St. Louis in 2016, followed by the Chargers from San Diego in 2017.

 

The Rams had a stronger foothold in L.A. because they called the region home from 1946 to 1994. A large portion of the fanbase stuck with them during their 21 years in St. Louis, helping expedite the process of easing back into the Los Angeles market. The Chargers had a fraction of that foundation after spending the previous 56 years in San Diego.

 

Yes, some fans in San Diego have remained loyal and committed. But it remains unknown how many of them will buy season tickets at the new Inglewood stadium, which is set to open next year and will be shared by the Rams and Chargers. Meanwhile, a large percentage of fans cut ties completely when the Chargers made the move to L.A.

 

It has made for a challenging situation. And in retrospect, the NFL and its consultants may have overestimated the vitality of Los Angeles as an immediate two-team market.

 

The Chargers have an extremely favorable stadium deal that provides a guaranteed percentage of major revenue streams and a long runway for building a fanbase. And while they currently play in the smallest stadium in the NFL at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, the interest in tickets at a cost reflective of the limited seating leaves them in the top 10 in NFL ticket revenue. As a result, by no means are the Chargers in a tenuous situation.

 

But how long will the NFL give the Chargers to plant a firm and permanent foot in Los Angeles? And with no guarantees that will happen, will the league look for solutions?

 

A return to San Diego is a nonstarter as the path to a new stadium is nonexistent. The long-talked-about Mission Valley site has been turned over to San Diego State for a mixed use development and construction of a small, college-sized stadium. Meanwhile, London has an NFL caliber stadium in place and a growing fanbase.

 

On the same day the Jacksonville Jaguars and Texans put a bow on the NFL’s London slate of games, the Chargers hosted the Green Bay Packers nearly 6,000 miles away in Carson. As expected, the game was sold-out. Also as expected, Packers fans took over the 29,000-seat venue much like the faithful of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs and others have over the last three seasons.

 

And while that is a fabulous sign to the NFL that its overall appeal is soaring in the nation’s second-biggest market, it’s troublesome that it comes at the expense of the Chargers. In fact, some Chargers players openly complained on Sunday about essentially having to play 16 road games a year.

 

There is hope and conviction that, over time, the Chargers will build a sufficient fanbase in Los Angeles. Nevertheless, with the league’s growing concerns about the team’s long-term viability in L.A. and the existence of an eager fanbase and established infrastructure in London, there is at least curiosity about a Chargers move to England.

 

“The current path they are on will not yield results in the foreseeable future,” an NFL source told The Athletic. “They need to consider something to shake up their franchise. This would give them a major international market and the chance to shine.”

 

Given the NFL’s growing success as visitors in London, there seems to be optimism that a team — the Chargers or another franchise — could become a permanent resident.

 

“It’s definitely within the realm of possibility,” said Chris Halpin the NFL’s chief strategy and growth officer.

 

That strength has been cultivated over the years by the NFL’s growing overall presence. That now includes the NFL UK Academy, which offers athletes ages 16-18 the opportunity to combine education with life skills and intensive football training under full-time professional coaches. The objective is to create pathways into employment, further education and, potentially, the opportunity to play college football in the United States.

 

And as the 28 London games since 2007 have shown — 25 of them have drawn at least 83,000 fans — there are plenty of fans across England and Europe to support a full-time team.

 

“I think we’ve proven the fanbase is there,” said Alistair Kirkwood, the managing director of NFL UK. “The fact (is) we can sell out games for pretty much any type of matchup, and that the fanbase will come out and support it, so I think that test has been met. I think from an operational and logistics perspective, we have a lot of experience in transportation and managing timezones. There’s hotels and practice facilities. I think there’s an awful lot of opportunities there.”

 

According to NFL research, there is compelling evidence that support for its brand is skyrocketing.

 

Consider:

 

• There are more than five million NFL fans in the UK, including four million avid fans.

 

• Overnight TV viewership, including RedZone, is up 32 percent from the 2018 season.

 

• Sky Sports’ weekly ratings have doubled over the past decade.

 

• UK social-media followers (measured on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts) is up 16 percent over the last year.

 

• More than 24 million people watched NFL programming on UK television during the 2018 season.

 

• Streams of NFL programming on BBC iPlayer (on-demand) increased 150 percent in 2018 season over 2017.

 

• The NFLUK’s email database has risen from 35,000 prior to the start of the London series in 2007 to 490,000 today, with NFL UK having a total digital community of 1.9 million.

 

Certain issues would have to be addressed to make a full-time team possible. For instance, Kirkwood noted that there would have to be an agreement between the U.S. and England in terms of immigration and visas and taxation.

 

“You want any future team to have a similar setup to other teams. You’d want to have parity as much as possible,” Kirkwood said. “You wouldn’t want a free agent, in a theoretical world, to be thinking, ‘I’m not going to think about going to London because it’s just a headache.’”

 

No doubt, there would be resistance from some NFL players to playing on a team so far away from home, but for every individual who might express reluctance, one could view it as an opportunity to have an entire continent to himself for branding and marketing purposes.

 

“I’d love to play out here — it’s a different energy and atmosphere with fans in the UK,” Cleveland Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said recently upon touring the new facilities at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. “If they can find a way to bring the same passion that they have for soccer to NFL games, it will be huge.

 

“I remember the first game I came to in London — the stadium was full of fans wearing all different jerseys from different teams. It’s cool to see how someone from the UK would gravitate towards a team without growing up being rooted in it. NFL is definitely picking up over here.”

 

Rams quarterback Blake Bortles heard constant speculation about a possible move to London when he played for the Jaguars, given that Jacksonville owner Shahid Khan has major business ties in Great Britain.

 

“I think the one tough thing, and maybe the one thing I’d struggle with it now, is when you have a family,” Bortles said. “You have kids, so do you take the family over there? Stuff like that. Where do they go to school? How does the tax thing differentiate between there and the U.S.? So things like that are all the little intricacies that go into it. But I think it would be one of those situations where some guys would love it and some guys would hate it.”

 

In addition, there are logistical issues when it comes to creating a fair schedule for a team situated in London — playing eight games at home and eight games in the U.S. and vice versa for the teams traveling abroad.

 

The team in London would have to do multiple-game swings in America to address the travel issue, which would necessitate setting up a home base somewhere in the U.S. to practice. NFL schedule makers would have to be cognizant of the teams visiting London. For example, West Coast teams like the Rams and Seahawks would have to play as far east as possible the week before their London trip, and they would either practice somewhere on the East Coast or in London in the week leading up to that game.

 

Due to the timezone challenges, Sunday games in London would have to start at 6 p.m. or 9 p.m locally to fit in the American television windows. Monday night or Sunday night games would not be possible in London. Also, the quick turnaround nature of the playoffs could cause some scheduling gymnastics when it came to trying to get a U.S.-based team to London on short notice.

 

But all of those issues seem more like manageable dynamics than deal-breaking hindrances.

 

“It’s a little bit like, going back to 2007 when we announced the very first game, there were a lot of people with concerns and legitimate concerns,” Kirkwood said. “And you have coaches that are creatures of habit. They like routine and they don’t want to be seen as pioneers. The only pioneers they want to be are of winning championship games. And somewhere along the line we made a decision and worked hard to alleviate those concerns.

 

“I think the market is close to being ready.”

 

And now there might be a team willing to take the plunge.

 

The decision to make the 110-mile move from San Diego to Los Angeles ultimately rested on Spanos’ shoulders. But extenuating circumstances, created by California’s reluctance to spend public money to build city- or state-owned venues for professional sports teams, plus the NFL’s miscalculation on how to deal with that reality, helped force his hand.

 

In fact, the NFL had one last chance to address the unique circumstances the Chargers faced in San Diego — obstacles that teams in Minnesota, Atlanta and Dallas and many others didn’t deal with while forging public/private stadium partnerships in their markets. But when the NFL owners’ finance and stadium committees opted against kicking in more league money to help bridge the financial gap, the Chargers’ fate in San Diego was essentially sealed.

 

Spanos decided to exercise the option given to him by the NFL to join the Rams in L.A. as tenants in the new privately funded stadium that Rams owner Stan Kroenke was building as part of the 298-acre stadium and entertainment district in Inglewood. Even at the time, it was viewed as the best of two less-than-ideal options for Spanos.

 

“But remember what their choices were,” a high-ranking league official told The Athletic. “They were never getting a deal done in San Diego. So they should have stayed and played in a decrepit building that was falling apart?”

 

Nearly three years into their new life in Los Angeles, the Chargers face an uphill climb to create their niche. Meanwhile in London, everything is in place to welcome them, including the brand-new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which was built with both the English Premier League and the NFL in mind. It opened in April 2019 and hosted two of this year’s four London games.

 

“We have created a new landmark in London, one that is truly global, and one that will stage the world’s two most popular sports, Premier League football and NFL, along with many other sports and world-class entertainment,” said Daniel Levy, the chairman of Tottenham Hotspur. “This partnership with the NFL has enabled us to push the boundaries of stadium design. It is something that has never been done before anywhere in the world.”

 

Could the Chargers take that one step further?

 

“If you do something transformational, you want it to be additive. You don’t want it to be taking away from anything. But if someone wants to do it, I think the fanbase has shown that they are there,” Kirkwood said. “I go back to how the international series was first positioned to owners back in 2006 when they first voted. Which was, ‘We’re the biggest sport domestically,’ but if you actually want to think a generation or two generations time, you have to keep thinking like our forefathers did in terms of how do you stretch yourself, how do you test yourself?”

 

The Chargers and the NFL could be poised to make that leap.

 

Will Brinson of CBSSports.com sees four-week travel blocks:

 

Chargers to the AFC South

In this situation, the Chargers and Texans would flip divisions, with the Texans moving to the AFC West and the Chargers moving to the AFC South. From an “integrity of the history of the game” standpoint (basically don’t burn down tradition for money), this would make the most sense. The Chargers already left San Diego and are moving to London in this hypothetical, so we’re not going to get too caught up in their sense of tradition. They’re nomads at this point. The AFC South was created in 2002. It has no real historical significance outside of the Colts (not from Indy!) and Texans (expansion team!) not liking each other. The Jaguars are another expansion team and the Titans moved from Houston. The tradition is not rich here. Shifting around the division wouldn’t be a big deal.

 

From a travel standpoint the AFC South would be vastly preferable. The NFL scheduling gurus already have plenty to deal with as it is, but mixing a London TEAM in there would be chaos. That team can’t fly back and forth each week. The Chargers would need their schedule broken up into quadrants, basically. Four weeks in London, four weeks in the US, four weeks in London, four weeks in the US. It would be a huge mess.

 

Looking at their 2020 opponents (which includes the AFC South), the Chargers away games would include the following: one of the Steelers/Browns/Ravens/Bengals, one each of the Jaguars/Colts/Titans and also the Bills, Buccaneers, Dolphins and Saints. So you would need to try and divvy those up into two manageable four-game swings.

 

Operating under that very lose approach to schedule making (and this presumes no 17- or 18-game situation with a double bye obviously), the Chargers could fly to New York from London and play the Bills in Buffalo. Then fly to Indianapolis the following week to play the Colts. Then fly to New Orleans the following week to play the Saints. Then fly to Miami to play the Dolphins after that before returning home for a “bye week.”

 

Then in their second US tour, the Chargers could fly into Tampa Bay to play the Buccaneers, head to the rust belt to play whatever AFC North team they’re matched up against, go to Nashville after that for a game against the Titans and then play the Jaguars before departing back to London.

 

OR — and perhaps the NFL would lean this way — the Chargers could wrap up their season in the United States. That way, in the event they make the postseason, they wouldn’t have to travel from London for the game or, at least, the wild card game they host in London would be “fair” because both teams would be traveling from the U.S.

 

As for home games, you would have to just send a wave of four teams to London, I suppose. The Chargers would play the Titans, Jaguars, Colts, Panthers, Falcons, Jets, Patriots and one of the Raiders/Texans/Chiefs/Broncos in 2020. So I guess the league just got eight international games and now has to schedule those teams byes around each of those matchups.

 

This is exhausting to think about, I can’t imagine operating like this as a football team. And it’s not even the convoluted option.

 

The DB thinks it could work in two-week increments.  Let’s give the Chargers a base near a big Eastern airport – say Dulles in Virginia or on Long Island near Kennedy.

 

They fly to England, say on Thursday, for a game on Sunday.  And of course, they need a training base.  Then fly back to Virginia/Long Island right after the second game.  Rinse and repeat three more times.  We count about 36 days total in England. 

 

Or they could do it with three segments – a three, a two and a three.

 

2020 TOTTENHAM CHARGERS SCHEDULE

 

Week 1 – at Tampa Bay

Week 2 –  at Atlanta

Week 3 – JACKSONVILLE

Week 4 –  KANSAS CITY

Week 5 –  ATLANTA

Week 6 –  at Tennessee

Week 7 –  at Indianapolis

Week 8 –  CAROLINA

Week 9 –  NEW ENGLAND

Week 10 – TENNESSEE

Week 11 – bye

Week 12 – at Buffalo

Week 13 –  at Miami

Week 14 – INDIANAPOLIS

Week 15-  NY JETS

Week 16 – at Pittsburgh

Week 17 – at Jacksonville

 

So they spend just over two weeks in England in late September-early October.  Just over two weeks in England in early November and nine days in early December.

 

If the CBA were to include say a $200,000 international bonus for every Chargers player, over and above their salary.

 

If the team arranged for apartment style living for those 40 days or so.

 

We think it’s doable and for some adventurous souls would be a more interesting way to spend your career than just playing in (fit in your least favorite smaller market city here).

 

It makes at least as much sense as the Rays plan to play in Tampa Bay/Montreal.

 

That said, as we go to press the NFL and Chargers owner Dean Spanos are quick to issue rather forceful denials.  Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

After Chargers owner Dean Spanos referred to a report that his team could move to London as “bulls–t,” the NFL released a statement saying the same thing, only in more family-friendly language.

 

The NFL statement made clear that the league sees the Chargers ditching Los Angeles for London as a non-starter.

 

“There is no substance whatsoever to this report,” the league said. “No consideration has been given to the Chargers playing anywhere other than Los Angeles at the new stadium in Hollywood Park next season and beyond. There have been no discussions of any kind between the NFL and the Chargers regarding moving to London. Both our office and the Chargers are entirely focused on the success of the team in Los Angeles.”

 

So where did the report come from? As we noted when it was first reported, it felt like a story that was planted by someone who wants to push an agenda. Perhaps that agenda is related to the NFL’s efforts in London, or perhaps that agenda is related to the relationship between the Chargers and the Rams in their shared stadium, but it doesn’t appear that there’s any reason to believe the Chargers are actually going to London.

 

That said, sure Spanos and the NFL will deny this, but we never got the sense that this story was talking about 2020 or 2021.  But what if we are five years into the dual occupation of Los Angeles and the Chargers are drawing 20,000 visiting fans?  We think the NFL would rather have the team float to London rather than scuttle to San Antonio or abandoned markets like St. Louis, San Diego or Oakland.

 

AFC NORTH

 

PITTSBURGH

A watchful week for the Fantasy owners of RB JAMES CONNER.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said running back James Conner is likely to be limited in practice this week, at least in the early going, and at the end of the week the team would make a decision “accordingly” as to whether he will play on Sunday against the Rams. Conner did not play against the Colts in Week 9.

 

It is a shoulder injury.

 

AFC SOUTH

 

INDIANAPOLIS

QB JACOBY BRISSETT has a positive (in that it was negative) MRI and could be back as soon as Sunday against the Dolphins.  Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The MRI on Jacoby Brissett‘s injured left knee revealed nothing unexpected, Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports.

 

Brissett officially has a sprain of his medial collateral ligament.

 

He has a chance to play against the Dolphins, but there is “nothing definite” on his status for this week yet, according to Mortensen. That follows a PFT report earlier in the day.

 

Brissett’s response to treatment this week will determine his availability for Sunday.

 

The Colts regard him as week to week.

 

Brissett injured his knee with 12:41 remaining in the second quarter when Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward shoved All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson into Brissett’s leg.

 

Brissett went 4-of-5 for 59 yards.

 

The Colts lost after Adam Vinatieri missed a 43-yard field goal with 1:11 remaining.

 

 

JACKSONVILLE

As the 4-5 Jaguars go to bye, Coach Doug Marrone says that QB NICK FOLES is ready to return – and will return in place of GARDNER MINSHEW.  The AP:

 

The Jacksonville Jaguars are going with quarterback Nick Foles over rookie sensation Gardner Minshew.

 

Coach Doug Marrone made the announcement Tuesday, saying Foles is ready to return from a broken left collarbone and will start next week at Indianapolis.

 

The Jaguars (4-5) have a bye week before then. Marrone said following Sunday’s 26-3 loss to Houston in London that he would take some time before deciding whether to go with Foles or Minshew. The coach needed less than 48 hours to make the call.

 

Foles was injured while throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass to DJ Chark on the second series of the team’s season opener. Minshew replaced him and went 4-4 as the starter, throwing for 2,285 yards, with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also ran for 235 yards but has lost seven of 11 fumbles.

 

Foles signed a four-year, $88 million contract with Jacksonville in March.

 

Jacksonville waived linebacker Malcolm Smith to make room on the 53-man roster for Foles, who returned to practice two weeks ago.

 

AFC EAST

 

NEW YORK JETS

RB Le’VEON BELL has had an MRI. Manish Mehta in the New York Daily News:

 

Le’Veon Bell’s miserable season hit another speed bump after the Pro Bowl running back had a MRI on his knee the morning after the Jets’ embarrassing loss to the previously winless Dolphins on Sunday. Adam Gase learned the news Monday morning when Bell didn’t show up for meetings and film review.

 

“I don’t want to get too alarmed with Le’Veon without any information,” Gase said Monday. “They say they’re still evaluating him. It could be nothing like something just didn’t feel right. It could be something else that I’m not even thinking about right now. So, it’s hard for me to go anywhere with it mentally just because it’s just so gray.”

 

Bell had his best statistical game of the season (25 touches for 111 total yards) in Gang Green’s 26-18 loss in Miami, but it didn’t matter. Gase’s offense was a dud for the better part of the game against the league’s undisputed worst defense.

 

It was the second time this season that the 27-year-old Bell, who was on the trade block before last week’s deadline, had a MRI. He had a precautionary MRI on his shoulder after the season opener that revealed no structural damage.

 

 “I’m kind of waiting on this information,” Gase said. “It was just something I heard about this morning. Because he basically had to miss everything this morning to get this MRI. I haven’t seen him yet. I haven’t talked to the trainers. When I talked to him, they said that they’re still going through everything and figure out where he’s at and what’s going on. I can’t say exactly where it happened, because he never said anything to me during the game or said to me after the game. So, I’m not really sure of the extent of this.”

 

Bell, who has rushed for just 415 yards and one touchdown on a career-low 3.3 yards per carry at the midpoint of the season, appeared to be shaken up on a five-yard loss early in the fourth quarter. But he stayed in for the rest of the game.

 

Meanwhile, Mehta goes off on Jets owner Christopher Johnson:

 

Christopher Johnson remains oblivious as Rome is burning, an indecisive, inexperienced placeholder insulated by too many yes men.

 

The 1-7 Jets are circling the drain with Johnson’s hand-picked head coach, lampooned across the NFL after losing to the hapless Dolphins Sunday.

 

While diehards voice his frustrations with colorful metaphors amid this Adam Gase-fueled train wreck, Johnson has the audacity to feel persecuted.

 

Sources told the Daily News that the Jets CEO has told people he’s been unfairly criticized for hiring Gase, who has been an unmitigated disaster from the moment he stepped on the Florham Park campus.

 

Gase has lost 10 of his last 11 games as an NFL head coach. Sam Darnold has regressed under his tutelage. Too many players privately don’t respect Gase. He has no leadership skills whatsoever.

 

But Johnson, who was temporarily handed the keys to the kingdom when his older brother, Woody, went across the pond to work for the Trump administration, has privately expressed to folks that sharp criticism directed at his decision-making and indecisiveness is unwarranted, according to sources.

 

Johnson, resplendent in a suit and Jets baseball cap Sunday, greeted players just inside the losing locker room. Then he vanished, ducking out to avoid reporters.

 

Johnson has shown no accountability as the Jets have morphed into a punchline.

 

The Jets declined comment when asked by the News whether Johnson would be available to the media to discuss the current state of affairs. As a point of reference, Johnson held sessions with reporters in the first two weeks of each of the past two seasons.

 

It’s unfortunate that Johnson has chosen to hide in the face of adversity. Great leaders use tough moments to shine. Johnson has taken cover, which tells you plenty about why things are run the way they are on One Jets Drive right now.

 

Poor organizations are poor for a reason. Poor leadership on One Jets Drive extends beyond Gase.

 

Leadership flows from the top-down in every company. The successful ones have strong CEOs. The poor ones typically have bad decision makers in critical spots. Sprinkle in an amateurish PR strategy that has needlessly created fires instead of snuffing them out — and presto! — a circus is born.

 

Meanwhile, Gase is Johnson’s No. 1 fan. After all, he swindled Johnson into landing another head coaching gig after imploding with the Jets’ division rival.

 

“Always when we lose a game, I feel like I let him down and haven’t gotten us to where I was hoping we’d be at to his point,” Gase said Monday. “He understands that he’s going to get everything I have day in and day out to work things out…. and keep fighting in trying to find a way to win a game.”

 

That’s a bunch of words signifying nothing.

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

BROADCAST NEWS

ESPN had the Cowboys on Monday night, but FOX still drew a bigger audience last Thursday.  This tweet from Michael Mulvihill:

 

@mulvihill79

·

33m

Week 9 Update:

 

Niners-Cardinals – TNF – 14.3m viewers

 

Cowboys-Giants – MNF – 14.0m viewers

 

FOX TNF now 6-0 on the season versus same week’s MNF

 

What is left for the two primetime packages?     Let’s compare games – our arbitrary ranking of game quality1 to 10 in parenthesis:

 

                                 Thursday                                Monday

Week 10                   LAC at OAK (6)                     SEA at SF (9)

Week 11                   PIT at CLV   (5)                     KC at LAC (7)

Week 12                   IND at HOU (8)                     BALT at LAR (8)

Week 13 Thanks      NO at ATL (4) NFL Net         MINN at SEA (8)

Week 14                   DAL at CHI (7)                       NYG at PHI (4)

Week 15                   NYJ at BALT (4)                    IND at NO (7)

Week 16                                                                 GB at MIN (9)

 

So an average of 5.7 on Thursday (counting NFL Network Thanksgiving game) – 6.0 just on FOX.  We get a 7.4 average for ESPN.  So ESPN with nothing to complain about

 

None of the packages have a game without at least one playoff contender, if you consider Pittsburgh to be in the mix.  And the Steelers at Cleveland where the Browns are perversely watchable is not a bad game. 

 

FOX has been getting better ratings on Thursday than ESPN on Monday – and ESPN would say that the poor quality of the games is a factor.  The rest of the way, ESPN has a pretty darn good schedule.