AROUND THE NFL

Well, it looks like only one trade went down on Deadline Day – the Rams paid a 5th round pick to the Dolphins to get rid of CB AQIB TALIB.  Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The Dolphins are buyers at the trade deadline. Sort of.

 

The Rams sent Aqib Talib and a fifth-round pick to the Dolphins for a future pick, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

 

Without knowing what the future pick the Dolphins are sending back is, we can’t really assess that trade, but it seems likely that the future pick is actually worse than that fifth-rounder, and this is actually the Rams unloading the remainder of Talib’s salary this season. Talib is a vested veteran, which means his full salary is guaranteed for the rest of the season, and the Rams would have been on the hook for the rest of his salary if they had released him.

 

Talib becomes a free agent after the season.

 

Whether Talib actually plays for the Dolphins remains to be seen. He’s currently on injured reserve, and the Dolphins may just leave him there for the rest of the year and pocket that pick from the Rams.

 

All the other trade targets – CB CHRIS HARRIS of the Broncos, T TRENT WILLIAMS of the Redskins, TE O.J. HOWARD of the Buccaneers, everyone not named QB SAM DARNOLD of the Jets –  stayed put.

– – –

The Patriots and 49ers have played the two easiest schedules in the NFL – and it’s not even close.

 

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

 

Patriots                      .259

49ers                         .327

Ravens                      .368

Titans                        .400

 

– – –

The Colts can take on salary and the Vikings cannot.  Albert Breer has the whole list:

 

1) Colts $43.56M

2) Browns $32.72M

3) Dolphins $29.02M

4) Bills $24.66M

5) Titans $24.44M

6) Raiders $22.89M

7) Chiefs $22.63M

8) Eagles $21.95M

9) Cowboys $21.73M

10) Texans $21.34M

11) Lions $19.88M

12) Bears $16.77M

13) Broncos $15.68M

14) Panthers $14.55M

15) Bengals $13.81M

16) Redskins $13.36M

17) Jaguars $9.61M

18) Packers $9.57M

19) 49ers $9.15M

20) Buccaneers $6.44M

21) Seahawks $6.26M

22) Jets $5.98M

23) Falcons $5.78M

24) Rams $4.38M

25) Chargers $4.35M

26) Cardinals $3.87M

27) Steelers $3.00M

28) Patriots $2.49M

29) Giants $2.09M

30) Saints $2.04M

31) Ravens $1.52M

32) Vikings $754K

 

– – –

 

The DB’s Tuesday morning chatter in texts and at water cooler is all about two things from Monday night.

 

This, from Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com is one of them:

 

No one expected Monday night’s Dolphins-Steelers game to be a good one, but one part of the game in particular, at the end of the third quarter, was so bad that it should cause the league office to take notice of what a mess officiating has become.

 

That was the moment when the Steelers challenged the spot on a run by Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the ensuing delay lasted 10 minutes.

 

That’s right: Ten minutes between Fitzpatrick’s run, which was reviewed and overturned on replay, and the start of the next play. Halftime in the NFL lasts 13 minutes, and the delay at the end of the third quarter was basically another halftime.

 

On fourth-and-1, Fitzpatrick ran the ball and was initially ruled to get a first down. The clock ran down to the end of the fourth quarter.

 

But then Steelers coach Mike Tomlin challenged the spot, and it was ruled that Fitzpatrick was down short of the line to gain. So it was Steelers ball, first-and-10. This should have taken maybe a minute to review, but for some reason it took much longer.

 

The referee re-spotted the ball, then brought the chains out to measure, and signaled that the Dolphins were short.

 

As the on-field officials talked and the referee communicated with the officiating office, the review kept going, and going, and going. It shouldn’t have taken more than another minute to see how much time was on the clock when Fitzpatrick went down and to give the Steelers the ball there, but it did.

 

The operative word in “instant replay” should be “instant.” The league office needs to use the available technology to fix bad calls quickly and get the game going again. A replay review should never take 10 minutes. Referees should have a sense of urgency to keep the game moving. Officiating in the NFL is a mess, and the league doesn’t seem to feel a sense of urgency to fix it.

 

The other was the strange defense called by the Dolphins before the half.  Safid Deen of the Orlando Sun-Sentinel:

 

The Miami Dolphins were clicking on all cylinders.

       – –

The Dolphins jumped out to a two-score lead, had Pittsburgh Steelers fans in Heinz Field booing their beloved home team, and were making an impression on a national stage during Monday Night Football.

 

Coach Brian Flores and the Dolphins seemed primed to finally get their first win of the season.

 

That’s before one questionable play-call, shortly before halftime, derailed their momentum.

 

Pittsburgh scored 27 unanswered points to beat Miami, 27-14, handing the Dolphins their seventh straight loss to start the season.

 

And it brought the issue the now 0-7 Dolphins franchise has been dealing with all season: Are they truly tanking to land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft?

 

“I don’t have any regrets on the call,” Flores said after the game. “They made a play just like we made some plays prior to that defensively. We just move on.”

 

The Dolphins had quarterback Mason Rudolph and the Steelers offense facing a third-and-20 from the Miami 45-yard line with 17 seconds left until halftime.

 

Then, Flores and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham called for an all-out blitz leaving just three defenders to man the secondary in prevent defense in excess of 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

 

Rudolph threw a short pass to receiver Diontae Johnson in the middle of the field, Howard fell out of position on the left side of the field, and the Steelers scored a 45-yard touchdown to trim Miami’s lead to, 14-10, in the final seconds of the first half.

 

It was an aggressive defensive play-call when the Dolphins had down, distance, field position and momentum all in their favor.

 

And the Dolphins paid for it.

 

“We have to make a play. We have to get to the quarterback. Cornerbacks have to do their job,” Howard said.

 

“It was major. At the end of the day, you look back on it, it definitely hurt us,” starting linebacker Jerome Baker added.

 

Added defensive tackle Davon Godchaux: “Once they got that touchdown, that was all the momentum they needed.”

 

The hole in the Miami defense, said some, was big enough to drive a tank through.  Tank, get it?

 

NFC NORTH

 

CHICAGO

The media produces more evidence that Coach Matt Nagy mishandled things at the end of Sunday’s game.  Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

And now we have another reason to criticize Bears coach Matt Nagy’s late-game decision-making on Sunday: He failed to put the ball in the preferred spot for his kicker.

 

Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro, who missed a last-second field goal in Sunday’s loss to the Chargers, said today that he would have preferred that the ball be spotted in the middle of the field instead of on the left hashmark, according to Chris Emma of 670 The Score.

 

If the ball had been in the middle of the field and Pineiro had kicked it the same way, his kick would have been good: The kick missed wide left by maybe a foot. But the Bears had the ball on the left hashmark when Nagy had Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky kneel down to run the remaining time off the clock.

 

It’s bad enough that Nagy made that call — he should have run another offensive play or two to try to get closer and make the field goal easier — but if he was going to kneel down, he should have told Trubisky to take a couple steps to his right before kneeling, to put the ball in the middle of the field. That’s what Pineiro wanted, but Nagy apparently didn’t ask Pineiro where he likes the ball.

 

Pineiro wasn’t using the spot as an excuse. He told reporters, “I’m a professional kicker. I got to adjust to it.” But the reality is, if a coach is going to kneel down to set up a last-second field goal, he at least ought to know where to kneel down. And Nagy didn’t.

 

NFC EAST

 

PHILADELPHIA

The Eagles trade for an edge rusher.  Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer on EDGE GENARD AVERY:

 

The Browns have shipped forgotten edge-rusher Genard Avery to the Eagles for a 2021 fourth-round draft pick.

 

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen first reported the round of the draft pick, and it’s not a bad haul for a player selected in the fifth round of the 2018 draft out of Memphis.

 

Inactive for five of six games this season before he got on the field again Sunday in New England, Avery was unhappy to be a healthy scratch every week and asked general manager John Dorsey to trade him, a league source told cleveland.com.

 

Originally, Dorsey told Avery he wanted to hang onto him because he knew what kind of player he was and liked his upside potential. In the end, he opted to deal him a little more than 24 hours before Tuesday’s trade deadline.

 

Avery is the second 2018 draft pick that Dorsey has traded in recent weeks. On Oct. 15, he traded No. 33 overall pick Austin Corbett, a backup guard and center, to the Rams for a fifth-round pick in 2021. Dorsey could be collecting picks to package in a trade for Redskins seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams.

 

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Monday that the Redskins are open to trading the disgruntled tackle and the Browns are definitely in the market. They benched left tackle Greg Robinson this week and replaced him with Justin McCray.

 

Avery played three defensive snaps in Sunday’s 27-13 loss to the Patriots. But he made one of his first ones count when he pressured Tom Brady into a third-down throwaway to thwart New England’s opening drive.

 

Last season, he started five games and played 684 snaps, or about 58% of the defensive snaps, and was third on the team with 4.5 sacks. This season, he played a total of five snaps and could never get on the field in Steve Wilks’ defense.

 

He was active for only two games this season: Week 3 against the Rams, and Sunday against the Patriots.

 

On Friday, Wilks was asked about his inability to find a role in his defense.

 

“It’s not so much that,” Wilks said. “I know there’s a lot of speculation out there, but I think when you look at the big picture and when you talk about 53 guys, if you guys really want to try and help us out, I think you can petition to the league – I do not know if it will work – to where you may get all 53 guys up on game day.”

 

NFC SOUTH

 

CAROLINA

QB KYLE ALLEN stubbed his toe (figuratively) Sunday in Santa Clara – but QB CAM NEWTON still is hobbled by his Dreaded Lisfranc Ailment.  Brendan Marks of The Charlotte Observer:

 

Before Sunday’s game, Newton went through a pre-game period of dynamic stretching and throwing drills.

 

That said — and despite fill-in quarterback Kyle Allen throwing three interceptions against the 49ers — Rivera confirmed that Allen will start Sunday vs. the Tennessee Titans.

 

“Still rehabbing, still going through the things that he needs to do. He did what he was supposed to Sunday,” Rivera said. “(Kyle) will start again. Cam’s in the middle of his rehab program.”

 

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton stood along the team’s sideline during their game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, October 27, 2019 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. Newton has been sidelined with a foot injury. BY JEFF SINER

This will be Allen’s fifth consecutive start this season. Sunday’s rout by the 49ers was both his first loss as a starter and the first time he’s thrown an interception in his NFL career.

 

Allen finished Sunday’s game 19-of-37 for just 158 yards. He also was sacked seven times, including six in the first half.

 

Rivera also said although the game was out of hand in the fourth quarter, he never considered putting Grier into the game to get the rookie some NFL snaps. Why?

 

“… Because we’re playing with a young quarterback to begin with, and he needs the reps,” Rivera said. “He needs the practice, and to learn and grow and understand, and we’ve got some young guys that are playing a lot of football right now, and those guys have got to get as many reps as they can.”

 

After facing the Titans at home on Sunday, the Panthers will travel to Green Bay for a prime-time game against the red-hot Packers.

 

But Rivera again indicated, as he navigates Carolina’s swirling quarterback situation, that the team will not rush Newton back before the Lisfranc injury in his left foot is completely healed.

 

“We’ve got to make sure he’s ready. The last update I got, more so than anything else, is he’s going through his rehab,” Rivera said. “And as he continues through that, they’ll give me updates as to where he is. We’ll see. He’s probably had a workout today or some sort of treatment; he’ll have one tomorrow, he’ll have one on Wednesday, and we’ll probably get an update by then.”

 

NFC WEST

 

SEATTLE

C JUSTIN BRITT is done.  Adam Jude of the Seattle Times:

 

The Seahawks are in the market for a new center — for the second half of this season and, perhaps, into 2020 and beyond.

 

Justin Britt, a regular starter on the Seahawks’ offensive line since 2014, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the opening drive of the Seahawks’ victory at Atlanta on Sunday, coach Pete Carroll confirmed Monday.

 

Britt will have season-ending surgery. Recovery from ACL surgery typically takes 8-12 months, which puts into question Britt’s availability for the start of the 2020 season.

 

Britt, 28, signed a three-year, $27-million contract extension with the Seahawks in August 2017. He is scheduled to earn a base salary of $8.25 million in 2020, the final year of that deal, with a $11.67 million cap hit, according to spotrac.com.

 

That figure would make Britt the third-highest paid center in the NFL.

 

And as callous as this might sound so soon after a major injury, the Seahawks could save a significant sum — about $8.75 million — by releasing Britt before next season. (Players can’t technically be cut while they’re injured, but teams can always try to renegotiate deals, too.)

 

For now, Joey Hunt is the only healthy player on the Seahawks’ roster with experience playing center.

 

On Monday, Carroll reiterated his confidence in Hunt as the starter for the remainder of this season. Hunt replaced Britt in the first quarter Sunday and played the rest of the game.

 

AFC WEST

 

DENVER

Kevin Patra with some more info/spin on the neck injury that showed up for QB JOE FLACCO at about the same time he criticized his team’s braintrust for a lack of aggressiveness.

 

The Denver Broncos could be without quarterback Joe Flacco for more than a month.

 

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that Flacco is getting a second opinion on his neck injury, but based on the initial read, he could be out as long as five to six weeks, according to a source informed of the situation.

 

Rapoport added that surgery is unlikely and Flacco’s career is not in jeopardy.

 

Coach Vic Fangio announced Monday that Flacco was ruled out of the team’s Week 9 tilt against the Cleveland Browns due to the neck injury. Immediately ruling out the starter early in the week portended a longer recovery.

 

Brandon Allen, who has played zero regular-season snaps, will get the start for Denver.

 

Sitting at 2-6, the Broncos have several roster decisions to make. Denver must decide whether it’s worth keeping Flacco on the roster through his rehab. Placing the QB on injured reserve could effectively end his season. The Broncos are slated to use an IR-return designation on wide receiver Tim Patrick, leaving just one return spot left. Rookie Drew Lock is eligible to return from IR soon and could use the other designation.

 

The Broncos seemed poised to promote Brett Rypien from the practice squad to back up Allen, at least until Lock is ready to come off injured reserve.

 

With Flacco out for the foreseeable future, the Broncos will roll with an inexperienced signal-caller no matter who is under center. Neither Allen, Rypien nor Lock has taken a regular-season snap in the NFL.

 

 

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

The Chargers have given the mid-year heave-ho to OC Ken Whisenhunt.  Jelani Scott of NFL.com:

 

The team announced Monday night that offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt has been relieved from his duties.

 

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn issued the following statement regarding the decision:

 

“This is not an easy decision and definitely not one that I take lightly. You win as a team, and you lose as a team. It’s never about just one person. At the end of the day, however, I simply felt a change was needed at this time. I want to thank Ken for his years of service to the Chargers organization and wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”

 

While L.A. has not announced a new offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach Shane Steichen will call plays and Lynn will be heavily involved and give input, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.

 

This was Whisenhunt’s second tenure with the franchise, his first being a one-year run as OC in 2013. He returned to the role prior to the start of the 2016 season after a two-year head coaching gig with the Titans.

 

The Chargers (3-5) currently rank 17th in total offense and 23rd in points per game (157 total).

 

Who, you ask, is Shane Steichen?  For you edification, we print his Wikipedia entry in full:

 

Shane Steichen (born May 11, 1985) is an American football coach who is the quarterbacks coach of the Los Angeles Chargers of the National Football League (NFL). He has previously served as an assistant coach for the Cleveland Browns.[1][2]

 

Upon further digging, we can tell you he hails from Sacramento and went to UNLV.

 

Here are his coaching stops, in a career that is now a decade long:

 

Louisville (2010)                                                       – Offensive assistant

San Diego Chargers (2011–2012)                           – Defensive assistant

Cleveland Browns (2013)                                        – Offensive quality control coach

San Diego Chargers (2014–2015)                          – Offensive quality control coach

San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers (2016–present) – Quarterbacks coach

 

He was a QB at UNLV – and seems never to have been the full-time starter as he threw 465 passes in his career – fairly well distributed over four years.

 

Apparently, Chris Ballard and Frank Reich nearly hired him to be the Colts’ offensive coordinator in 2018.

 

We can think of a lot of ways to pronounce it – but he says it – “sty-kin.”

 

AFC NORTH

 

CINCINNATI

As they skid towards a top five pick, the Bengals need to find out what they have in QB RYAN FINLEY.  Grant Gordon of NFL.com:

 

Searching for wins and answers, the Bengals are turning over the starting quarterback reins for the first time in nine seasons.

 

Andy Dalton is being benched and rookie fourth-round pick Ryan Finley is taking over for the 0-8 Bengals, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports.

 

Following the bye week, Finley will get the start in Week 10 against the first-place Ravens with Dalton taking a back seat in the midst of his ninth season with the Bengals. The Bengals later confirmed the move to Finley.

 

“Let’s go ahead and make the switch and get behind Ryan and try to go win these next couple of games,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor of the reasoning behind the move and its timing. “This is not an easy decision to make. We’re not 0-8 because of Andy. Andy has worked harder than anyone else in this building to help us win football games. Just a decision I made.”

 

Selected in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Dalton has started all 128 games he’s played in for the Bengals, having missed only three games in 2015 and five last season due to injury.

 

“Andy’s been a great representative,” Taylor said. “He’s been awesome in the locker room. He’s still gonna be a great leader for us.”

 

Over the last three games, Dalton has just two touchdowns and four interceptions as the Bengals are mired in a winless start over eight games. It’s the franchise’s worst beginning to a season in 11 years and it comes in the first year under Taylor.

 

AFC EAST

 

BUFFALO

Do the Bills see RB MELVIN GORDON as an upgrade from FRANK GORE?  Ryan Talbot of NY Upstate:

 

The Buffalo Bills have been linked to the wide receiver market ahead of the 2019 NFL trade deadline, but could they settle for a play-making running back instead?

 

It’s possible based on a report from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. According to Fowler, Buffalo is one of two teams being linked to Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon.

 

@JFowlerESPN

Some around league have linked Lions and Bills to Melvin Gordon. Both teams could be in the market for RB help, and Gordon would make sense if Chargers loosen asking price.

 

On paper, the Bills don’t seem to need a running back with Frank Gore, Devin Singletary and T.J. Yeldon all on the 53-man roster.

 

Despite not being utilized much in the team’s Week 8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Gore remains in the top-20 among all backs with 422 yards and two touchdowns on 95 carries (4.4 YPC). Singletary has made a few big plays as a rookie including a 28-yard touchdown reception in Week 8. Yeldon, under contract through 2020, is a decent third option as a rusher and receiver.

 

Gordon, at the very least, would give the Bills another versatile weapon on offense as they look to make a playoff push in 2019. The back is off to a slow start since returning from a holdout, but showed some signs of returning to form on Sunday when he averaged 3.9 yards per carry against the Chicago Bears defense and scored a touchdown on the ground. He had a receiving touchdown the week befoore, but his overall stats have been below average to date in 2019. In four games, Gordon has rushed for 112 yards and one score on 44 carries (2.5 YPC) while catching 11 passes for 37 yards and one touchdown.

 

Of course, the price would have to be right to add Gordon. The running back is set to become a free agent in 2020 so the Bills would likely be hesitant to give up anything of great value for the back.

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

AIKMAN RATINGS

The undefeated Patriots and 49ers continue to rank an easy 1-2 in the Aikman Combined Ratings after Week 7 thanks to defenses that ranks 20 to 30 points better than anyone else.

 

The 4-3 Cowboys, with the NFL’s best Aikman offense, and the 6-2 Vikings are next ahead of a cluster of six teams with six points of each other.  The 7-1 Packers and Saints have not established an Aikman Combined position better than three two-loss teams and the 5-3 Rams.

 

At the bottom of the Aikman Combined, we note that the Dolphins, while still #32, have moved within shouting distance of the Jets, Bengals and Redskins.

 

2019 Season Aikman Efficiency Ratings Through Week 8                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                           

                                                 —–      Aikman —-                    ——-     NFL      ——–

Rank     Record Team                Comb   Off        Def                 Off       Def       Comb

  1        8-0       Patriots             191.3    82.7     108.6                16           2        18

  2        7-0       49ers                182.8    84.7       98.1                  6          1           7

  3        4-3       Cowboys          171.4    96.2       75.3                  1          8          9

  4        6-2       Vikings             166.1    91.7       74.4                  3          5           8

  5        6-2       Seahawks         162.3    91.0       71.3                 9        23         32

  6        5-2       Ravens             162.2    95.9       66.3                 2        16         18

  7        7-1       Packers            160.3    89.4       70.9                13         22         35

  8        7-1       Saints               158.6    87.4       71.3                12           6        18

  9        5-3       Rams                156.7    86.3       70.5                8         11         19

10         5-2       Bills                  156.1    81.2       74.8                19           3        22

11         5-3       Texans              154.2    92.7       61.6                 4        20         24

12         5-3       Chiefs               153.9    88.6       65.3                 5        24         29

13         4-4       Eagles              153.8    85.2       68.6                22         14         36

14         4-4       Titans               152.7    78.1       74.7                27         9         36

15         5-2       Colts                152.5    89.0       63.5                18         15         33

16         3-4       Steelers            152.4    76.4       76.0                28         10         38

17         4-4       Jaguars             150.2    80.2       70.0                10         13         23

18         3-4       Bears                150.2    73.7       76.5                29          7        36

19         2-6       Broncos            149.5    73.5       76.0                26          4        30

20         3-3       Lions                147.2    85.3       61.9                11         31         42

21         2-5       Buccaneers       146.9    78.9       68.0                15         18         33

22         4-3       Panthers           145.8    80.7       65.1                23         17         40

23         3-5       Chargers           144.5    76.6       67.9                17         12         29

24         3-4       Raiders             141.4    85.1       56.3                14         25         39

25         2-6       Giants               140.7    74.1       66.6                24         28         52

26         2-5       Browns             139.8    73.7       66.1                20         21         41

27         3-4       Cardinals          139.8    81.4       58.4                21         29         50

28         1-7       Falcons                        134.9    82.7      52.2                 7        27         34

29         1-7       Redskins          129.3    64.2       65.1                30         26         56

30         0-8       Bengals            125.8    65.8       60.0                25         32         57

31         1-6       Jets                  118.6    53.6       65.0                32         19         51

32         0-7       Dolphins           112.0    63.0       49.0                31         30         61

                                                                                                                       

                                                                       

 

2020 DRAFT

Scott Kacsmar notes:

 

@ScottKacsmar

I’m mad at Dallas and the Tampa Bay kicker.

 

We could have had 5 teams (MIA, NYJ, CIN, WAS, NYG) go winless unless they are playing each other this year.

 

He is referring to the lone wins for the Jets and Giants against non-Bottom 5 competition.

 

And that relates to the current draft order for 2020 as figured by Tankathon:

 

1   Cincinnati

2   Miami

3   Washington

4   Atlanta

5   NY Jets

6   NY Giants

7   Denver

8   Cleveland

9   Tampa Bay

10  LA Chargers

11  Oakland

12  Miami from PIT

13  Oakland from CHI

14  Arizona

15  Philadelphia

16  Jacksonville

17  Tennessee

18  Detroit

19  Carolina

20  Jacksonville from LAR

21  Dallas

22  Miami  from HOU

23  Kansas City

24  Minnesota

25  Buffalo

26  Indianapolis

27  Seattle

28  Green Bay

29  Baltimore

30  New Orleans

31  San Francisco

32  New England