AROUND THE NFL

David Perdum of ESPN.com on the two big spreads in Week 3.

 

According to the betting market, there hasn’t been this large of a gap between the best and worst teams in the NFL since 1987, a strike season featuring games with starters against replacement players.

 

The New England Patriots are 22.5-point favorites over the New York Jets, and the Dallas Cowboys are 21.5-point favorites over the Miami Dolphins at the majority of sportsbooks.

 

According to ESPN Stats & Information, it’s the first time there has been a week with multiple 20-point spreads in 32 years. In Week 5 of the 1987 season, the Dallas Cowboys were favored by 21 over the Philadelphia Eagles, and the San Francisco 49ers were 23-point favorites at the Atlanta Falcons.

 

San Francisco quarterback Joe Montana and 11 teammates crossed the picket line the previous week and played against the Falcons. The 49ers had 14 veterans, while the Falcons only had three, according to The New York Times.

 

Neither the 49ers nor the Cowboys covered the spread that week.

 

In the NFL, three-touchdown favorites are rare. Only 35 times has a team been favored by 21 points or more since 1966. There are two this week. The last time that happened in a non-strike year was 1977.

 

Teams favored by 21 or more are 35-0 straight-up but only 11-22-2 against the spread.

 

Oddsmakers have been struggling to gauge just how bad the perception of the Dolphins and Jets really is, and, on the flip, just how good the Patriots are. Last week, New England opened as a 14.5-point favorite over Miami. The line grew to as high Patriots -20 at some books. New England won 43-0.

 

“I have a feeling that people are going to keep betting against [the Dolphins],” Ed Salmons, a 30-year oddsmaker and vice president of risk for the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, told ESPN. “It’s not going to stop. I mean, what can you do? There’s nothing you can do. You just make high numbers.”

 

NFC EAST

 

DALLAS

A tweet from Ed Werder:

 

@WerderEdESPN

The #Rams went from the worst offense in the #NFL to the best in their first year with Sean McVay as HC. I don’t see any reason #Cowboys can’t achieve something similar in first year under OC Kellen Moore. They have abundant talent and most issues were red-zone performance.

 

More on Moore from Marc Sessler of NFL.com:

 

“Kevin’s got great communication skills. It doesn’t surprise me at all that we’re seeing a lot of play action, that we’re mixing it up for the defense out there.”

 

So said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones after newly minted play-caller — 30-year-old KELLEN Moore — helped Dallas to its second straight victory, a 31-21 smashing of the Redskins highlighted by Dak Prescott’s pristine 26-of-30 outing for 269 yards and three scores, most all of it coming after the super-charged Cowboys quarterback overcame an early pick to hit on 18 straight second-half throws.

 

Dak’s consecutive strikes failed to set a franchise record — those kind of accolades are saved for mythical figures like Brandon Weeden, who pinpointed 21 lobs in a row a few years back — but Prescott has been nothing short of sensational inside a Moore-infused playbook heavy with pre-snap shifts and motions richly inspired by the scheme he played in at Boise State under then-coach Chris Petersen. These add-ons were painfully absent during Scott Linehan’s overly long run calling plays, but Moore — the quarterbacks coach in 2018 — was promoted just in time to light the fuse of his extension-seeking signal-caller. As chronicled by friend and colleague Chris Wesseling:

 

Chris Wesseling

@ChrisWesseling

Through 2 games, @dak has:

 

82.3 comp rate

10.9 YPA

7:1 TD-to-INT ratio

142.9 passer rating

 

69 yards rushing Sunday for good measure, 2nd-highest total of his career

 

Were it 1971, Moore would be viewed as a wunderkind aberration in the same light as Rimbaud, Bobby Fischer, and Chas, Margot and Richie Tenenbaum. The fresh-faced assistant would sit and spin on the payroll for years before anyone would consider him leading-man material.

 

In 2019, I’d give it a month tops before Moore’s name bubbles up as a head-coaching candidate drawing interest around the league as doomed teams melt into liquid waste. Today’s gaggle of forward-thinking owners aren’t cowed by the idea of hiring a barely 30-something to run the show post-Sean McVay. The trend is bound to result in a few titanic swing-and-misses, but teams have been hiring the wrong 58-year-olds for a thousand generations, so what’s the difference?

 

It’s fair to ask why Jones can’t remember Moore’s name. Does he casually misplace it as some type of half-baked alpha-male lever pull? After all, Jerry previously botched Moore’s name as “Keelan,” which, in theory, rests closer to the mark.

 

All that matters is Jones nailing Kellen Moore’s Christian name on his game-day checks, which are bound to double and triple if the Cowboys plan to keep him around.

 

And another factor in the It Takes A Village crowd that has made DAK:

 

@WerderEdESPN

#Cowboys QB coach Jon Kitna inherited in Dak Prescott a QB with instincts, toughness, competitiveness, other intangibles. The emphasis is to bring consistency to his mechanics. “It’s not OK to just complete the ball. This is the NFL. We want guys to have yards after the catch.”

 

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

The DANIEL JONES Era starts Sunday in Tampa.  Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The Daniel Jones era will begin on Sunday.

 

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur opened the door to making a change at quarterback on Monday when he declined to say Eli Manning would start against the Buccaneers. It would have been surprising to make such a public show of doubt in Manning’s ability to do the job before going back to him again this week and the Giants won’t do that.

 

The team announced on Tuesday morning that Jones will make his first NFL start this weekend. The first-round pick looked good during his preseason work and the quick move to put him in the starting lineup makes one wonder if he would have been the starter in Week One if not for the Giants’ sentimental attachment to Manning.

 

“Ultimately, this is a move that I felt was best for this team at this time,” Shurmur said in a statement. “I have said it since I got here, I am very fond of Eli. His work ethic, his preparation, his football intelligence. All those attributes are as good as I have ever seen in a player. And Eli worked as hard as you could ask of anybody to get ready for this season. This move is more about Daniel moving forward than about Eli.”

 

The veteran was not helped by a skeletal receiving corps or an underwhelming defense in the first two weeks of this season, but his results weren’t markedly better when the team had more robust supporting casts in recent seasons. Jones’s arrival in April meant Manning’s time in the starting lineup was limited, although suggestions from the team were that it would be a while longer before pulling the plug.

 

Given the quarterback injuries around the league, the Giants could conceivably look to trade Manning if he has interest in continuing his career elsewhere and other teams believe he’d be better than options already on hand. The Giants have decided they have one and Jones will start trying to prove them right this weekend.

 

If this is the end, ELI MANNING is 116-116 in 232 career starts?  Which raises the question, what is the lowest won-loss record for a Hall of Fame QB?  Surprisingly, we found four in Eli Country (and we may have missed someone along the way):

 

Dan Fouts                     86-84-1

Warren Moon              102-101

Joe Namath                   62-63-4

Sonny Jurgensen          69-71-7

 

And Eli has more Super Bowl titles than all four put together.

 

With the NFL expanding the Hall of Fame this year – we would note that Roman Gabriel with an 86-64-7 record might merit consideration. 

 

Gabriel passed for 29,444 yards – that’s more than Len Dawson, Terry Bradshaw, Namath, Bobby Layne and Barf Starr to name a few certified HOFers.

– – –

Bucs coach Bruce Arians on RB SAQUON BARKLEY as recounted in a tweet by Trevor Sikkema:

 

Trevor Sikkema

#Bucs HC Bruce Arians was asked to compare Saquon Barkley to how they handled Christian McCaffrey last week. Said Barkley and McCaffrey “are not the same. They’re on different planets.” Said Barkley is bigger, faster, stronger.

 

NFC SOUTH

 

CAROLINA

QB CAM NEWTON is not at practice today and there are reports he has aggravated his foot injury.  If he can’t go Sunday, someone named KYLE ALLEN is the Panthers listed backup ahead of rookie draft choice WILL GRIER.

 

In the small world category, the Panthers are at Arizona on Sunday and that would match up Allen against QB KYLER MURRAY.  Strangely enough, Allen and Murray were teammates and rivals at Texas A&M in 2015 and Coach Kevin Summerlin somehow managed things such that both quarterbacks transferred out of College Station by the end of the season.  Murray went to Oklahoma as you know, Allen went to the U. of Houston, sat out 2016 and managed to get benched after 4 games in ’17. 

 

Somehow Allen, despite not being able to start for the Houston Cougars in 2017, made the Panthers in ’18 and he did start and play reasonably well in the final game of the season against New Orleans. 

 

 

NEW ORLEANS

QB DREW BREES opted for a second opinion – and did not have surgery on Tuesday.  But he will on Wednesday.  Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

After reports that Drew Brees was headed for surgery on Monday, Saints head coach Sean Payton said that the quarterback was going for a second opinion before moving forward with an operation.

 

It appears that the second opinion was the same as the first one. Ed Werder of ESPN reports that Brees is set have surgery in Los Angeles on Wednesday after going through both consultations.

 

“I’m confident in the surgery that will take place and will dedicate myself to the rehab process to get back as quickly as I can,” Brees told Werder in a text message.

 

The surgery will be performed by Dr. Steven Shin and Brees also saw Dr. Tom Hunt in Houston before coming to a final decision about his next step.

 

Werder adds that a recovery timeline for Brees is expected to come once the surgery is complete. Reports on Monday pegged the timetable at six weeks, which would leave the Saints without their longtime offensive leader for a good chunk of the regular season.

 

 

TAMPA BAY

Greg Auman of The Athletic says Bruce Arians/Todd Bowles eat up rookie QBs like DANIEL JONES of the Giants:

 

@gregauman

Posted this yesterday — Arians and Bowles have never lost as head coaches to a rookie starting QB. Limited history, but they’re a combined 9-0 against rookies starting at QB. Mayfield came off bench last year and beat Bowles’ Jets.

 

NFC WEST

 

SAN FRANCISCO

Could the 49ers be in play for recalcitrant Redskin, T TRENT WILLIAMS?  Mike Florio on ProFootballTalk.com in the wake of T JOE STALEY’s injury:

 

The 49ers would love to upgrade at left tackle, after Joe Staley‘s injury.

 

But coach Kyle Shanahan knows those guys don’t grow on trees, especially not in September.

 

Via Jennifer Lee Chan of NBCSportsBayArea.com, Shanahan said he’s prepared to go with rookie Justin Skule for now, after Staley suffered a broken fibula. They were already down veteran swing tackle Shon Coleman, who suffered an ankle injury and is out for the year.

 

Shanahan said they’d look, but he didn’t seem hopeful of finding anything.

 

“Always,” Shanahan said. “We would love to if there were options. You look at anything that’s possible. I don’t think that there are a ton of options out there that are possible. . . .

 

“We kept Skule because we thought he was the best available. So that doesn’t change now. I think that Skule is going to get a lot better throughout his career but we kept him on this team because he can help us win now.”

 

Shanahan said he didn’t want to move right tackle Mike McGlinchey, so for now, they’re hoping Skule can hold down the position for six-to-eight weeks until Staley might return.

 

Of course, Washington’s Trent Williams wants out, but there’s no indication that mess is coming to a head anytime soon.

 

AFC NORTH

 

CLEVELAND

Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com on WR ODELL BECKHAM, Jr’s triumphant return to the Meadowlands:

 

With one big play, Odell Beckham Jr. was able to get his revenge.

 

On the defensive coordinator who mocked him last week, and the team he clearly believes held him back.

 

Beckham’s 89-yard touchdown was the highlight of the Browns 23-3 win over the Jets Monday, and allowed the new Cleveland wide receiver to get his shots in after the game.

 

Asked about Jets coordinator Gregg Williams — who fired his shots last week by saying: “Odell who?” — Beckham answered in kind.

 

“Who?” Beckham replied, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

 

While an obvious yet subtle dig, Beckham also had a message for his former team. He celebrated his touchdown at MetLife Stadium by pretending to open a door and walk through it, as if to say he was home.

 

“I’ve lost enough games here, so to leave here with a win is a good feeling,” Beckham said.

 

Being able to drop those kinds of one-liners — because he made a play — is definitely going to garner more attention than showing up in an expensive watch.

 

 

PITTSBURGH

Curious trade by the 0-2 Steelers in the aftermath of the injury to QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER.  If the first round pick they were giving up for CB MINKAH FITZPATRICK was in the mid-20s like it usually is for Pittsburgh, it’s a good deal.  But is he worth what could be a top 10 pick?  Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com:

 

The Pittsburgh Steelers acquired defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 2020 first-round pick.

 

The Dolphins also received the Steelers’ 2020 fifth-round pick and a sixth-rounder in 2021. In turn, the Steelers received Miami’s 2020 fourth-round pick and a seventh-round pick in 2021.

 

“We are very excited to add Minkah to our defense,” Steelers general manager and vice president Kevin Colbert said in a statement. “We had him rated very high during the 2018 NFL draft process and we thought that he could be an impact player in this league.”

 

Fitzpatrick, the No. 11 overall draft pick in 2018, received permission to seek a trade from the woeful Dolphins (0-2) earlier in the week because he was unhappy with playing multiple positions, sources told ESPN.

 

He declined to talk about a potential trade when asked about it prior to Miami’s 43-0 Week 2 loss to the New England Patriots.

 

“I can’t focus on this trade, and this and that,” Fitzpatrick told reporters Friday. “I’m focused on Sunday. I’ve got to focus on the New England Patriots.”

 

Fitzpatrick, 22, immediately bolsters the Steelers’ defensive back group that includes Joe Haden, Steven Nelson and Terrell Edmunds.

 

Steelers’ move for Minkah Fitzpatrick bold, calculated — and a bit desperate

Fitzpatrick allowed a completion percentage of 49 percent when he was the nearest defender in coverage during his rookie season, according to NextGen Stats. He was ranked sixth among defensive backs with 400 coverage snaps.

 

The Alabama product brings a valuable contract with him, entering the second year of his rookie deal. He carries a salary of $1.8 million this year, followed by salaries of $1.9 million and $2.7 million, plus a fifth-year option in 2022.

 

Fitzpatrick will face his former team when the Dolphins travel to Pittsburgh in Week 8 for Monday Night Football.

 

The Steelers’ 2020 pick has a 29 percent chance to be among the top five and a 62% chance to be in the top 10, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index.

– – –

Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com on how the injury to BEN ROETHLISBERGER impacts Coach Mike Tomlin:

 

First things first: No one should write an obituary for the 2019 Steelers just yet. The team second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph takes over isn’t nearly as talented as the group Roethlisberger inherited as a rookie in Week 2 of 2004, but this isn’t a hopeless roster. The Steelers have won games without Big Ben before, thanks to their organizational stability, talent and coaching. The NFL is far too unpredictable to assume the Steelers’ veterans won’t improve their play around Rudolph.

 

The challenge facing Tomlin, offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner and defensive coordinator Keith Butler is to fix the numerous problems that existed for the Steelers independent of Roethlisberger, while Rudolph is integrated into the offense. The 2018 third-round pick made plays in his five drives at the helm on Sunday. Three of those drives ended in scores, and the first ended in an interception on a textbook third-and-long out throw on which the ball went through receiver Donte Moncrief’s slippery hands, bounced off his helmet and was snared by Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald.

 

Moncrief didn’t play after that, his benching highlighting just how diminished the skill-position group looks, outside of receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Tight end Vance McDonald (nine catches for 78 yards and two touchdowns) and receivers James Washington (four catches for 74 yards) and Diontae Johnson (four catches for 42 yards) have yet to step up as reliable targets. Though pass protection held up, Roethlisberger didn’t manage to complete a pass to a receiver until 5:49 left in the second quarter. The running game has gained a total of 113 yards in two weeks, and the Steelers were out-coached for a second straight week following Week 1’s drubbing by the Pats.

 

Pittsburgh’s talented defensive line swallowed the Seahawks whole for most of the first half, but the Seahawks adjusted with quick passing that exposed holes in the Steelers’ secondary. Tomlin’s young group made mental errors, and their linebackers (Mark Barron and rookie Devin Bush) were slow in coverage. When your secondary is undisciplined enough to force Seattle coaches Pete Carroll and Brian Schottenheimer to go pass-heavy in a close game, something is seriously wrong.

 

The continued mediocrity of the Steelers’ defense is Tomlin’s bailiwick for the next 14 games. His coaching background came in the secondary, and the Steelers’ secondary is so often the team’s biggest problem. With Roethlisberger out, Tomlin needs a carefully constructed defense at all three levels to carry the team. Through two weeks, Pittsburgh’s defense has taken a step back from its usual M.O. of providing a slightly better than average, slightly disappointing performance.

 

Without Roethlisberger around to carry the team, perhaps the Rooney family will more seriously examine what Tomlin brings to the table. He is a terrific communicator and leader of the franchise with a long history of success (a 125-68-1 record and a Super Bowl ring), factors that can’t be easily replaced. He hasn’t coached a single losing season in Pittsburgh and has proven remarkably capable of climbing out of ditches. Finishing with an 8-6 record with Rudolph as the starter would seemingly be enough to quell any job-security questions, even if the Steelers missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season. That will take vast improvement by Tomlin’s defense, not to mention the rise of a new Steelers quarterback …

 

AFC SOUTH

 

HOUSTON

A tweet from Albert Breer:

 

@AlbertBreer

Dolphins GM Chris Grier on the Laremy Tunsil trade: “They kept pursuing us.” Said Tunsil came in his office, saw terms on the board, and joked, “I would trade me for that.”

 

 

JACKSONVILLE

CB JALEN RAMSEY wanted Coach Doug Marrone to challenge a Houston catch on Sunday and Marrone declined.  Not one to let that sit, Ramsey got into it with Marrone on the sidelines and now wants out of JAX.  Will Brinson of CBSSports.com looks at the possible market:

 

Jalen Ramsey, last seen engaging in a sideline blowup with Doug Marrone during the Jaguars’ loss to the Texans on Sunday, let it be known he wants a trade out of Jacksonville. This league!

 

If you ask me, this feels more like a quasi-public “either him or me” request from Ramsey when it comes to Marrone, with Ramsey believing he can potentially force the Jaguars’ hand when it comes to a coach who already entered the year on the hot seat. Capitulating to a star player, even one as good as Ramsey, isn’t the best look, though.

 

And if Ramsey is dug-in against a team that refused to give him a contract before the season, how easy could this contract negotiation actually be? Ramsey seems like a guy who might be willing to make things problematic for the team over the remainder of his contract and the franchise tags the Jaguars can use. Additionally, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports Ramsey could actually be dealt *this week* because of the confrontation that took place between he and Marrone.

 

So what could the Jaguars get for Ramsey? According to Schefter, the Jags want “at least one” first-round pick in return for Ramsey, and there’s a good reason to believe they can ask for that and won’t take less than that in return.

 

For starters, consider how good Ramsey is. He was an All-Pro in his second year and has already made two Pro Bowls. Ramsey can absolutely make a claim for the best cornerback in all of football. Whoever ends up retaining his services is getting an excellent player.

 

You can argue having to pay Ramsey big-time money is a downside to trading for the cornerback, but this isn’t some outrageous deal. Ramsey probably wants $16 million a year to top the current cornerback market — it’s not that hard a deal to figure out as long as you plug in some certain, ahem, clauses in the deal. Make sure Ramsey won’t go full Darrelle Revis on you and hold out during the course of the deal and it’s not insane to pay a 24-year-old stud corner at the top of the market. Make it a five-year deal and lock down Ramsey through his prime.

 

One thing complicating matters, however, is the recent deal by the Texans to acquire Laremy Tunsil. Outside of quarterbacks and pass rushers, it’s pretty fair to say cornerbacks and left tackles are the primary building blocks for teams. I would valuate Ramsey above Tunsil and I would guess the Jaguars do as well. Which means they may not be willing to take less than two first-round picks (and more?), which is what the Dolphins got for Tunsil when Houston acquired him. That’s a similar situation too, with both guys due for top-of-the-market extensions pretty soon as a result of their play and contract statuses.

 

Additionally, Minkah Fitzpatrick just netted the Dolphins a first-round pick in the next few days, per CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. Fitzpatrick is on a rookie deal, so it’s a different scenario, but the Jags aren’t taking less for Ramsey than the Dolphins get for Minkah.

 

Long story short, I think Jacksonville could probably get two first-round picks for Ramsey this coming offseason from a team fancying itself a contender. Right now? That might be a little bit tougher, because there aren’t many scenarios involving teams with multiple first-round picks and/or a desperation for a cornerback.

 

Ramsey is still an elite player. He will fetch a pretty penny. So who will chase him? Let’s look at some options, ruling out the Steelers because their first-round pick is now in Miami. You can also hear our full breakdown of all the options in audio form by listening to the Pick Six Podcast in the player below. Make sure and subscribe for a daily dose of NFL!

 

Los Angeles Chargers

I don’t think this necessarily fits with the approach that Tom Telesco has taken in recent years when it comes to building a roster. He clearly cares about his draft picks and he believes he can nail those draft picks. But Ramsey is also a game-changing player — the Chargers would be adding Ramsey (fifth overall in the 2016 NFL Draft) to a defense that already features Joey Bosa (third overall in 2017) and Melvin Ingram, not to mention Ramsey’s good buddy Derwin James. Earlier this offseason, Ramsey commented on social media that he and Derwin would “1,000 percent” end up playing for the same team again at some point.

 

Don’t sleep on the presence of Gus Bradley, Ramsey’s old coach in Jacksonville. The Chargers would have Ramsey, Casey Hayward and Derwin in their defensive backfield. That’s a loaded, young group.

 

Part of the concern for L.A. could be the hesitancy to give up a pick that could result in a strong, young player. Since 2012, the Chargers have selected eight first-round picks and only three of them — D.J. Fluker, Mike Williams and Jerry Tillery — have failed to make at least one Pro Bowl. Williams profiles as a possible breakout this year and has flashed at times and Tillery was drafted this season. That’s good work in the first round. I don’t know if Telesco would be willing to give up on those chances to acquire a cheap young player, especially with Bosa and other young stars needing extensions at some point. If he wants to push in on a championship window with Rivers (sneakily in the final year of his deal), this would be an opportunity.

 

Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders

One team who DOES have a pair of first-round picks? The Raiders, who are still squatting on that second pick they got back from the Chicago Bears in the Khalil Mack trade. With both Oakland and Chicago beating Denver so far this year, those teams are 1-1 on the year and look, at least two weeks into the season, like reasonable playoff contenders. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for Jon Gruden to look at a guy like Ramsey and decide giving up a pair of first-round picks for him right now would a) help improve this team’s defense as a whole and b) hurt the pick they are giving to the Jaguars. Plus, that Bears pick doesn’t look like it will be exceptionally high.

 

If you were picking a place where the Raiders are lacking in talent, cornerback would qualify. Oakland is currently starting Gareon Conley and Daryl Worley. Ramsey would be fantastic in Paul Guenther’s scheme. The Raiders defense looked pretty good for a quarter against the Chiefs and completely locked down Denver in Week 1. It might be a better group than we originally thought.

 

Ramsey told the “Bussin’ With the Boys” pod (Taylor Lewan and Will Compton’s podcast, held on a bus, a name and theme I am extremely jealous of) that he would prefer to play in Nashville or Las Vegas when he joined them back in September.

 

Ramsey is from Tennessee, but it’s a little unreasonable to expect the Titans to trade multiple first-round picks to the Jaguars or for the Jaguars to trade a superstar player to a division rival. (Aside: teams should do this more often! If you can take two first-round picks away from a division rival and force them to sign a guy to a huge contract, why not do it? Conversely, if the Titans got Ramsey and he got to play the Jags twice a year, he would 100 percent record 12 picks a year against them.)

 

Kansas City Chiefs

A team with a championship window that badly needs help on defense, the Chiefs are very much in on the Minkah sweepstakes, but it’s not unreasonable to think they might be willing to pursue Ramsey if they came up short in the pursuit of Fitzpatrick.

 

Plugging Ramsey into this defense with Breshaud Breeland (nice pick against Oakland!), Tyrann Mathieu and young Juan Thornhill would give the Chiefs a really impressive presence on the back end. With Frank Clark up front, maybe the Chiefs could be more balanced on the other side of the ball from Patrick Mahomes. Surely Andy Reid knows he needs to have a better defense when he inevitably runs into Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in the playoffs.

 

With the news that Ben Roethlisberger is out, Reid should feel even more comfortable with the notion that he can get the No. 1 seed and make a run to his first Super Bowl. The Patriots and Ravens are a problem and there’s 14 more weeks to go, but the Chiefs offense looks even better than it did last year. Why not try and improve the defense?

 

New England Patriots

Because the rich clearly need to get richer. The Patriots defense is good enough to take care of business without Jalen Ramsey, as they’ve shown over the first two weeks of the season. But Bill Belichick isn’t afraid to gamble on top-end talent. You saw what he did when Stephon Gilmore hit free agency. He went after the talented cornerback aggressively and locked him down. Ramsey wants a new contract, but he might be willing to keep playing on his current deal with the Patriots knowing he could get a monster deal if he balls out and the team wins the Super Bowl. Adding Ramsey to this defense would be ridiculous, but why not shove in on 2019 if you’re New England? The Pats obviously value their draft picks but Belichick could rest easy knowing he isn’t giving away a high first-round pick. I could see them waiting and hoping no market materializes and then jumping in with a lower offer than multiple firsts. For anyone who gets mad the Patriots are on a list like this, just consider how Belichick treats elite cornerbacks when they become available. Darrelle Revis, Gilmore, etc.

 

Seattle Seahawks

Not sure if the Seahawks want to bring in a new, ahem, high energy cornerback who could compete for the alpha role with Russell Wilson. But I think John Schneider and Pete Carroll have to at least be worried that their defense has been carved up by Andy Dalton and Mason Rudolph (oddly they locked Ben Roethlisberger down) over the last two weeks. Getting Ramsey and adding him to the secondary would boost Seattle’s chances in what looks like a very tough division — three teams are 2-0 — and no one is more willing to get aggressive with sending out first-round picks than the Seahawks. If they believe they can get a superstar talent for the cost of some early round picks, John Schneider will pull the trade, knowing that Ramsey’s addition to this defense could seriously boost their title hopes. This would also be a benefit as the Seahawks are in the NFC, not that the Jaguars are planning to compete in the AFC if they deal Ramsey.

 

Philadelphia Eagles

We’ve seen the Philadelphia secondary get torched for two weeks in a row now — even if Matt Ryan threw a bunch of picks, it’s clear that Philly’s defensive backs didn’t develop the way Howie Roseman might have hoped earlier this offseason. The Eagles are certainly a Super Bowl contender, though, and have shown a willingness to be aggressive in pursuit of star players who can greatly improve the roster. Ramsey would absolutely qualify. And the Eagles have to consider their first-round pick likely to end up in the bottom half of the draft, so I think they’d be willing to make this move and drastically improve their defense. 

 

Dallas Cowboys

I am contractually obligated to include the Cowboys when discussing a big name player because Jerry Jones is willing to go up top and make his team better. This would be a little tough if he was trying to pay Dak Prescott, pay Amari Cooper AND pay Jalen. But maybe the Cowboys are looking around and thinking they can win the Super Bowl now. They traded a first last year for Cooper and it paid off. Why not shove in again this season? The only downside here is Ramsey once told Mina Kimes of ESPN he wouldn’t play for the Cowboys as long as the Jones family was in charge because they passed on him for Ezekiel Elliott. Drama!

 

San Francisco 49ers

John Breech floated San Francisco on the podcast and I like it as a sneaky option after the 49ers started 2-0. Jimmy Garoppolo looked much better in Week 2 and the offense appears to be picking up some steam. The defense looks much better as well and adding Ramsey would give them a premium defensive weapon with a familiarity: the 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was in Jacksonville with Ramsey and Bradley during his rookie season. The 49ers are under pressure to win now and adding Ramsey, who is also a piece that can help them down the road, would benefit them greatly. This would also be an attractive trade partner for the Jaguars: the 49ers have had high picks almost every single season the last few years and the Jaguars might be willing to take a single first-round pick from the and move on from Ramsey, with the possibility it becomes a top-five or top-10 pick even with the 49ers hot start.

 

The early buzz out of KC is that the Chiefs are not interest, but the buzz is not the final word.

 

Here are the odds at Bovada as to Ramsey’s team after the trade deadline:

 

Jacksonville Jaguars +170

Kansas City Chiefs +400

Oakland Raiders +500

New England Patriots +500

Seattle Seahawks +1100

Philadelphia Eagles +1100

Green Bay Packers +1100

Cleveland Browns +1100

Dallas Cowboys +1100

San Francisco 49ers +1100

 

This from Albert Breer:

 

Albert Breer

Per rival clubs, the asking price for Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey is two first-round picks.

 

That’s a starting point. And added to what it’d cost to extend Ramsey, it’s a lot. But it’s not totally crazy, given what Seattle got for Frank Clark and Miami got for Laremy Tunsil.

 

AFC EAST

 

BUFFALO

Beating the Jets and Giants may not be all that big of an accomplishment, but Marc Sessler of NFL.com is all in with the Bills.

 

Dust and nothingness.

 

That’s what the Buffalo Bills would amount to if the National Football League was birthed today.

 

Hand-picking 32 teams from bustling meccas boasting money-in-the-bank television markets, new-day gridiron architects would brush off the tractor beam of Western New York in favor of the Orlando SunSpots, San Antonio Droid-Mares or London Underground.

 

Thank the Maker we have the Bills, pro football’s beloved rough-and-tumble band of heavies completely unwilling to play along with the script. These delightful, red-white-and-blue clad footballers have attacked the NFL as would any plugged-in military general worth his salt: house-by-house and town-by-town until the region — and beyond — is won.

 

The Bills have opened the campaign by setting their in-state rivals on fire, marching 369 miles by night from Buffalo to East Rutherford, New Jersey, where the sleeping Jets were camped a week ago. Tired by their on-foot journey, Buffalo fell into a 16-0 hole against Sam Darnold, Le’Veon Bell and a Gang Green squad that generated a dash of playoff buzz in August. The Bills would not be held down, though, squelching the Jets in a blaze of holy fire, leaving their AFC East rivals banged, tattered and nursing strange viruses.

 

Buffalo’s defensive unit returned one week later to thump the New York Football Giants, pulling the plug on Big Blue’s paint-by-numbers offense led by a since-benched Eli Manning. Josh Allen’s bruising Bills attack did the rest, with the second-year quarterback overcoming spats of pocket pressure to author touchdown drives of 75, 70, 98 and 75 yards.

 

The Bills walked into MetLife Stadium and torched the place to terra firma, opening 2-0 on the road for the first time in franchise history. You can bash these merits by dismissing the Giants and Jets as suspect operations, but I’d point to Buffalo’s makeup: One of the game’s top defenses armed with an early Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate in first-rounder Ed Oliver, who coaxed a trance-state Eli into a batted pass late in the second quarter that wound up being picked off, killing a scoring chance for New York in Buffalo territory.

 

Allen is far from crystal clean. He spat out four turnovers against the Jets, but showed resiliency as Buffalo put up 17 unanswered points for the win. On Sunday, the quarterback displayed the brand of progress you hope for in a second-year passer, eschewing the desire to scramble in favor of finding targets John Brown and Cole Beasley in space. Coach Sean McDermott has worked seamlessly with defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and offensive play-caller Brian Daboll to milk the most out of a roster light on stars but heavy on crush-you-into-salt cohesiveness.

 

It’s easy to forget McDermott tugged a much-lesser Bills club into the postseason two years ago, falling 10-3 to the Blake Bortles-led Jaguars in a low-wattage slugfest that left viewers questioning human existence. I have no memory of covering the tussle, but it happened, as I noted in a lonely January report: “This white-knuckle affair resembled a brand of football your grandfather’s grandfather watched on a 12-inch black-and-white boob tube in fire-lit parlors during ancient days of old.”

 

We’re farther along in history now, Super-Woke in a new world where Buffalo rolls into autumn Sundays as one of the game’s more intriguing, rugged-but-lovable offerings. Unbeaten and untied after a fortnight on the road, the Bills return home to face a work-in-progress Bengals team before hosting the Patriots in Week 4.

 

The NFL’s acid test approaches — and it’s fair to wonder if this year’s club will simply blend into previous editions of Bills Team X vs. Little Miss Perfect Patriots: A few punches to New England’s chiseled midsection before Tom Brady — or fill-in-the-blank recently acquired superstar — lands a right hook that reduces Buffalo’s wannabe lineup into a blubbering King Hippo.

 

That’s how it’s been for two decades of despair in those old Western New York towns of Tonawanda, West Seneca, Getzville and Depew. Rochester, Lackawanna, Blasdell and Sloan have known little but sadness from Orchard Park as Buffalo’s football team appeared destined to spend every January shoveling the driveway.

 

This year’s plot feels punched up in all the right ways: Dismissed bumpkins from a distant corner of the Empire State ride into the big city and lay TOTAL WASTE to their tabloid-generating in-state foes, turning the G-Men into g-men and the Jets into a child’s paper plane fluttering toward a puddle of godless fire.

 

Today’s Bills roam from town to town, barrels blazing, eyes open for the next overstuffed heavy to flatten into a memory. This time around, Week 17 won’t do for an endpoint.

 

The anti-hero we need is among us.

 

 

MIAMI

Miami will dominate the next two drafts.  Ed Werder:

 

@WerderEdESPN

The #Dolphins have gone full Jimmy Johnson/Jerry Jones blow-it-up mode, and they now have a combined five first-round picks and four second-round picks in the next two drafts.

 

 

NEW ENGLAND

A crack team of investigators from NFL Justice has met with Britney Taylor, the accuser of WR ANTONIO BROWN.  A tweet from Albert Breer:

 

@AlbertBreer

Source confirms that the NFL spent 10 hours interviewing the accuser of Antonio Brown, Britney Taylor, on Monday.

 

And this from Mark Maske of the Washington Post:

 

The NFL’s decision about whether to place New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown on paid administrative leave via the commissioner’s exempt list remained pending Tuesday after league representatives met for 10 hours Monday with a woman accusing Brown of rape and sexual assault.

 

Monday’s lengthy meeting between the NFL and Britney Taylor was confirmed by a person familiar with the case, who said there was “nothing imminent” as of Tuesday afternoon on the league’s decision about whether to place Brown on paid leave.

 

It’s unclear whether that decision will be made this week. The person with knowledge of the deliberations said there is “no timeline” for the decision to be made because it depends on what the league’s investigation finds.

– – –

Brown has not been charged with a crime. The league’s personal conduct policy nevertheless authorizes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to place Brown on paid leave if he believes following an investigation that Brown may have violated the conduct policy.

 

If Brown is placed on the exempt list, he would be paid by the Patriots but would be ineligible to practice with the team or attend games. He could appeal his placement on the list through the NFL Players Association. The list is designed to be used by the league until it makes a decision about whether to discipline a player under the personal conduct policy. Any suspension under the policy would be without pay.

 

We remind our readers that of the three elements of Taylor’s complaint, the one about Brown sexually gratifying himself on Taylor seems relatively uncontested – and that JAMEIS WINSTON was suspended for three games for his gross behavior.  That said, if the NFL finds Taylor’s rape contention credible, the punishment should be far more serious.

– – –

Meanwhile, Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com points out that the injury to DREW BREES is advantageous to TOM BRADY if he cares about records.

 

Tom Brady and Drew Brees each have 522 career touchdown passes, putting them both 17 behind Peyton Manning’s NFL record of 539. Seeing which one of them would break Manning’s record first should have been one of the best storylines of this NFL season.

 

But with Brees now injured and out about six weeks, it appears that Brady will break the record well before Brees.

 

So far this season Brady has five touchdown passes, and if he keeps averaging two or three a game he’ll break Manning’s record around the midway point of the season, just when Brees should return from his hand injury.

 

Assuming he stays healthy, Brady is a near lock to break Manning’s record this season. Brees still has a chance to pass Manning late in the year, but he’s likely to fall far enough behind Brady that he’ll have to keep playing after Brady retires in order to have the career touchdown record.

 

 

 

 

NEW YORK JETS

Another day, another sulking NFL player.  This time it is Jets S JAMAL ADAMS.  Grant Gordon of NFL.com:

 

A precedent has been set for the Jets that no matter how large your paycheck or how impressive your resume, if you’re not up to the task you could find yourself riding the pine.

 

Though it was only for five snaps, Jets Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams was benched during his team’s 23-3 loss to the Browns on Monday.

 

A day later, he clarified that it was some anticipatory play that resulted in his unexpected breather.

 

“Yeah, I was benched. They benched me. I tried to anticipate a play … and I anticipated wrong,” Adams told WFAN Sports Radio on Tuesday via Manish Mehta. “It happens.”

 

The standout safety had five tackles in the loss, just as he did in a Week 1 defeat against the Bills.

 

Also on Tuesday, conjecture arose after Adams changed his Twitter bio that previously read “Former LSU All-American – Defensive Back for the New York Jets.” to “Let the lord fight your battles. He hasn’t lost one yet!”

 

Speculation has followed regarding his happiness with the Jets, though no inquiries have reportedly been made about his status as an LSU alum. When pressed regarding his wellness with the Jets, he called it “outside noise” and insisted he was “just focused on this team.”

 

In Monday’s game, Jets high-priced cornerback Trumaine Johnson was also benched, though that was for the entirety of the game. The Jets have now lost backup quarterback Trevor Siemian for the season as starter Sam Darnold works back from mononucleosis. Defensive stalwart C.J. Mosley and rookie Quinnen Williams also missed Monday’s game with injuries.

 

Thus, the Jets are finding it an arduous proposition to keep their talent on the field and simultaneously forcing some off of it.

 

Only two games into the season and the 0-2 Jets are spiraling it would seem in every which way, from injuries to illness, high-priced talent not getting it done to stellar safeties making the wrong assumptions. And next up are the New England Patriots.

 

“We just have to get it together,” Adams said via NBCSports. “We just have to keep fighting.”

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

BROADCAST NEWS

Good ratings for Week 2.  Jay Busbee of YahooSports.com:

 

Your big winner on Sunday’s Week 2 action, aside from the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots: Fox. Your big loser, apart from New Orleans Saints fans: NBC.

 

Fox’s ratings for Sunday averaged 13.6, the network’s highest average for any week since Week 10 of 2016, according to Sports Media Watch. That was due to two marquee games: Cowboys-Redskins in the early going, and Saints-Rams in the afternoon. Overall, ratings were up 21 percent for CBS over last year, and up 34 percent for Fox since 2017.

 

Sunday afternoon’s game featured the NFC championship rematch — Saints at Rams — that turned out to be less-than-spectacular football. But it was still football, and won a strong 15.8 rating for its time period.

 

Patrick Mahomes is turning into a major ratings play. Even though there was little doubt of the outcome of Sunday afternoon’s game against Oakland, Mahomes and the Chiefs earned a 9.9/22, up from last year’s 8.3/18 in the same slot last year.

 

Sunday night’s Falcons-Eagles matchup featured two teams apparently hellbent on giving the game to the other. And while the Falcons ended up winning, ratings were down — relatively speaking — from prior installments. The 12.2 rating/22 share was down about 12 percent from last year’s Week 2 Sunday night game, although that one featured the Cowboys and the Giants, always a ratings winner. This marked a low-water mark for “SNF”; the rating was the lowest for a Week 2 performance since 2008, when the Steelers met the Browns.

 

“Sunday Night Football” nonetheless continued its ratings dominance, doubling up the ratings of the No. 2 show (“60 Minutes,” believe it or not.) Top markets for “SNF” were Philly (32.6/51), Atlanta (22.3/40), and New Orleans (19.6/28), which was apparently keeping tabs on its NFC South rival.

 

We would note that FOX was supported by two other games besides those mentioned by Busbee as Minnesota at Green Bay (early) and Chicago at Denver (late) blanketed the Midwest.  Both were competitive and the latter had an especially compelling finish people are still talking about on Tuesday.