The Daily Briefing Thursday, July 12, 2018
AROUND THE NFL
Earlier this week, we had the list of five teams that Will Brinson of CBSSports.com thinks will fall out of the playoffs in 2018 after making it in ’17 (the Eagles were the most surprising, also Bills, Titans, Chiefs and Panthers).
Now he replaces them:
Every year the NFL is slammed full of parity — a couple of surprising teams jump up and make the playoffs, while several teams we never thought in our wildest dreams could regress manage to fall back and miss the postseason.
Oddly enough, four out of the last 10 Super Bowl winners have managed to miss the playoffs the following year, with the Eagles TBD. Philadelphia was one of the teams I mentioned as a fallback candidate earlier this week. Judging by my mentions, Eagles fans have abandoned the City of Brotherly Love moniker.
Nevertheless, we soldier bravely on to a group of teams who WILL make the playoffs in 2018. Last year this was my poorly performing segment — after going 4-1 on my teams to miss, I went only 2-3 on teams to make. I firmly believe this year will be better, because there are a pair of very obvious candidates who should make the postseason.
Love the list, hate the list or just want to cuss at someone? Let me know on Twitter @WillBrinson.
And for a more detailed breakdown of possible playoff teams, check out the Pick Six Podcast, which features former Steelers cornerback and CBS Sports HQ star Bryant McFadden and I breaking down our choice of five teams who will make the leap. If you subscribe and listen to our daily NFL podcast, we will be best friends. Not even kidding. Your options to eternal friendship: via iTunes | via Stitcher | via TuneIn | via Google Play
Los Angeles Chargers
2017 Record: 9-7
2017 Expected Wins: 10.4
2018 Vegas Win Total: 9.5
Overview: Everyone knew this was coming, right? The Chargers aren’t just favored to make the playoffs this year, they’re also the favorite in their division for the first time in a while, and it makes some sense. The Chargers lost Hunter Henry already during OTAs, but largely had a very nice offseason. They added Maurkice Pouncey to what might be the best offensive line in front of Philip Rivers since LaDainian Tomlinson was there and stole Derwin James with their first-round pick of the draft. They’re a year removed from moving and Anthony Lynn has some experience as a head coach now. Everyone should be more comfortable.
Why They Will Make The Playoffs: They shouldn’t be on this list, because they should have made the playoffs last year. Los Angeles finished 9-7 after starting 0-4 and easily should have been 2-2 at worst. Their other three losses were an eight-point loss in New England to the Patriots, a three-point overtime loss in Jacksonville to the Jaguars and an ugly meltdown against the Chiefs late in December, with Rivers making an MVP push and the Chargers threatening to steal the division away. They are talented at every position — Rivers is still a top-10 quarterback, Melvin Gordon’s established himself as a consistent runner out of the backfield, Keenan Allen showed signs of a major breakthrough last year and they’ll be getting Forrest Lamp back on the offensive line, which already features Dan Feeney, Russell Okung and Pouncey. Defensively, Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa are the best edge-rushing duo in the league, and James on the back end will make this defense studly. If there were ever a year to take this division it’s now, with the Chiefs in transition at quarterback, the Raiders in transition with their coach and the Broncos trying to figure things out. This should be the Chargers’ year, especially with a soft schedule.
Why They Could Miss The Playoffs: Chargers-related things. This team has found a way to flub good situations before over the past 10-15 years. The Henry injury is certainly ominous — Vegas dropped the Chargers from roughly 14-1 to win the Super Bowl to 22-1 after that injury, and it mainly felt like “because they’re the Chargers” reasons. The defense is very good, but the linebackers can be issues, Corey Liuget will be missing for four games to start the year and Jason Verrett has to stay healthy for a full season. Rivers has shown he can mature physically as a quarterback but it’s possible he just completely falls off a cliff and he’s certainly at the age where it might happen. Patrick Mahomes could be great for Kansas City, the Broncos defense might be elite and Jon Gruden could fire up the Raiders into another 12-win season. It’s all on the table but the Chargers have a nice path.
Green Bay Packers
2017 Record: 7-9
2017 Expected Wins: 6.3
2018 Vegas Win Total: 10
Overview: Another obvious option for a very obvious reason: Aaron Rodgers. The Most Physically Gifted Quarterback Ever lost another large chunk of a season in 2017 when he suffered a broken collarbone on his throwing shoulder. The disastrous season resulted in major turnover on all levels. Ted Thompson out as GM, Dom Capers out as defensive coordinator, Alex Van Pelt out as QB coach, Jordy Nelson out as Rodgers No. 1 weapon. Brian Guntekunst did a fine job this offseason, bringing in Mike Pettine as DC and picking up some weapons like Jimmy Graham. He also added Muhammad Wilkerson on the defense and picked up Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson to beef up the defensive backfield. All in all, it’s pretty clear the expectations are there for Green Bay to contend or win the division — if Rodgers is healthy, missing the playoffs would be a massive disappointment.
Why They Will Make The Playoffs: Again, Rodgers. He’s the most dangerous quarterback in football when he’s healthy. No one has a higher ceiling. He’ll be protected by a strong offensive line and has Davante Adams (a blossoming star wideout), Graham, Randall Cobb and some young talent to throw to. The running game needs to get sorted out, but there’s plenty of bodies back there. Defensively, this is the best team the Packers have rolled out in the past few years. I’m obnoxiously high on how much of a difference Pettine can make for this team — his defenses were outstanding when he coached under Rex Ryan, and his tenure with the Browns was much better than people thought, in hindsight.
Why They Could Miss The Playoffs: Just look at last year if you need evidence about the Packers not making it to the postseason. Rodgers has missed significant time in recent years, so while him losing a large chunk of the season would still be random and still be disappointing, it might actually conjure up “Is Aaron Rodgers Past His Prime and Injury Prone?” takes. Don’t sell the media short on that one. The defense doesn’t have to be good. I’m in on Pettine this offseason, but that could all turn quickly if the young secondary doesn’t take a leap and the front seven can’t pressure anyone. The running game is just kind of an assume thing at this point, but Aaron Jones is suspended, we don’t know how the Packers want to use Ty Montgomery, so Jamaal Williams is sort of the guy by default but without great stats from last year. If Adams doesn’t live up to the billing, Rodgers’ receivers will have taken a major step back from peak Jordy Nelson.
2017 Record: 9-7
2017 Expected Wins: 10.4
2018 Vegas Win Total: 6.5
Overview: There’s some commotion around this team because of incumbent quarterback/Super Bowl hero Joe Flacco sitting on an extremely hot seat. The selection of Lamar Jackson in the first round signified the Ravens’ long-term plans and perhaps even their short-term plans: if Flacco is bad this year, Jackson can get on the field. He’s electrified the city of Baltimore, he’s electrified the Ravens fanbase and, frankly, thinking about Jackson running a fast-paced offense is electrifying. Even without Jackson under center, the Ravens have enough on hand to do some damage in the AFC North. Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown might be the best trio of wideouts Flacco’s had in a few years, which says something (bad about their previous receivers). All of those guys were added this offseason, which is the final offseason of Ozzie Newsome’s tenure as Ravens GM. There could certainly be a “Win One For Ozzie” sentiment here, which sounds foolish, but the Ravens managed to make it work the last time they won a Super Bowl.
Why They Will Make The Playoffs: We spend so much time in 2018 focusing on skill-position guys, we often lose sight of the fact where football is played, and the Ravens are deep in the trenches. They have a mauling offensive line, and it shouldn’t be surprising if Orlando Brown — a good football player with terrible combine testing — ends up producing right away. Alex Collins is an under-appreciated smashmouth running back. Dude plays with his hair on fire. Even if you don’t believe Flacco steps up, there are enough dangerous guys on offense to stretch the field and give him a deep weapon. Personally I don’t want to bet against Joe Flacco with his back up against the wall. I’ve seen it and he turns into Joe Montana. Defensively this is a top-three DVOA team that didn’t do a lot to get better in the offseason, but they don’t need to get better. Baltimore shut out three teams last year! It doesn’t sound as great as it should, but shutting out three different NFL teams in a single season in this era of passing is pretty impressive. Four of their seven losses were by one score, and they were 0-4 in those games. John Harbaugh is a very good coach. They have a three-game stretch of road games early but win one of those and they’re getting to nine wins.
Why They Could Miss The Playoffs: The whole Flacco-Lamar thing could completely unravel. Flacco’s got pretty much carte blanche in Baltimore to do what he wants, but he knows the situation. He won’t be on the Ravens in 2019, barring an injury to Jackson. His contract is unwieldy and Baltimore just invested in a big-name quarterback who got irrationally pushed down draft boards. The running game could struggle if Collins can’t repeat last year’s success and the offensive line isn’t up to snuff. It’s hard to see the defense being bad, per se, but the Ravens managed to the miss the playoffs with an elite defense last year. The difference now is they have a parachute for the offense if Flacco struggles.
2017 Record: 7-9
2017 Expected Wins: 6.8
2018 Vegas Win Total: 6.5
Overview: Last year’s Redskins team is treated as a bad squad with a stats-padding quarterback and a questionable defense. But the narrative could have been much different: no one in the NFL lost more games to injuries than Washington last year, per Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Games Lost metric, and no one will remember this was a top-five team against the run before Jonathan Allen went down after five weeks. Cue a double down on the defensive line, with Da’Ron Payne joining his old Crimson Tide mate in the middle of this defensive line. Washington also dipped into the draft for LSU running back Derrius Guice, who might end up being the steal of the draft if he plays to his potential as a bell cow. Oh yeah: they decided to bail on Kirk Cousins, trading for Alex Smith before letting Cousins know about his free agency freedom. The offense has a makeover, but it’s not that different.
Why They Will Make The Playoffs: This is not a perfect division for a playoff run, but it’s better than the NFC South or the AFC East. The Eagles are the reigning champs and could destroy everyone. Or they could struggle to get healthy! Anything is possible in the NFL. The Cowboys don’t have to be good this year, and the Giants are banking on Eli Manning returning to form. Washington is a sleeper to steal the NFC East. The offense is better suited for what Jay Gruden wants now — Smith gives them a higher floor than Cousins, and if the offensive line is healthy, I’d bet on Guice easily topping 1,200 yards rushing. Jamison Crowder was tailor-made to work with a QB like Smith. I’ve been a Josh Doctson fan for a few years; now is the time for a breakout. Jordan Reed healthy would be icing on the cake. It’s just a very bizarre situation, because the roster is consistent despite a ton of turnover. Smith isn’t the type of guy to shake stuff up; he has a limited window left and gives them a really good shot to be entertaining and a thief in this division.
Why They Could Miss The Playoffs: I could totally miss on Smith, who bears some similarity to Donovan McNabb (older veteran drafted with a top-five pick, traded by Andy Reid to Washington late in this career). Maybe Cousins going away reminds everyone how good he was. The pass-catchers don’t have to stay healthy or be productive — no one’s done either on that front in the past few years. The offensive line injuries could be considered not a fluke, and it might just be a problem. If the defensive line doesn’t stay healthy or generate pressure, the back end of the defense could struggle mightily to hold up. The Cowboys and Giants could be better and the Eagles could steamroll people. Gruden is — unfairly, I think — on the list of coaches who could be fired early per Vegas. If the wheels come off early, D.C. is always ripe for a football soap opera.
San Francisco 49ers
2017 Record: 6-10
2017 Expected Wins: 6.6
2018 Vegas Win Total: 9
Overview: This is so preposterous, having the 49ers at nine wins to start the season. They were a single-win team (1-10) before adding Jimmy Garoppolo and inserting him into the starting lineup. They were TERRIBLE. I’ve been sort of anti-49ers this offseason and now I find myself sort of buying into them as a sneaky NFC team to make the postseason. Credit to John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan for not sitting on their laurels this offseason. They went out and got aggressive in free agency and the draft, snaring Jerick McKinnon for a high price. If anyone else does that we might question it, but McKinnon certainly fits what Shanahan wants to do with his running backs. Mike McGlinchey in the draft gives them a potential long-term replacement for Joe Staley at left tackle. Richard Sherman is the headliner addition for a defense that feels a year away but might be terrifying if everything clicks.
Why They Will Make The Playoffs: Jimmy G is the truth and what we saw last year — a calm, cool, collected signal caller dealing under pressure and playing Baby Brady — carries over into 2018. If that’s the case, you better buy fantasy stock in guys like Marquise Goodwin and George Kittle, because they will be catching passes from Jimmy G and those are two potential studs. Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas could all potentially hit their stride next year and make this defensive line one of the best in the league. Reuben Foster is suspended but for only two games. Sherman, if healthy, will have something to prove. Put the over/under on his interceptions of Russell Wilson next year at 1.5 and take the over. Adrian Colbert is on Pete Prisco’s breakout stars team, and watching him, you can see why. Too many people know about this team, and they might be a year away, but if everything clicks, they will arrive this year and challenge the Rams for division supremacy.
Why They Could Miss The Playoffs: Everything doesn’t have to click. The league’s now got an entire offseason of watching Jimmy G under its belt, and that could result in a worse performance next year. His sample size is impossible to replicate on a full-season scale. (Right?) There might be serious growing pains for this offense, even with Shanahan and all those weapons. It’s not a full-blown elite unit like he had in Atlanta, by any means. All those wonderful defensive pieces we mentioned could take another year to click — Thomas wasn’t a major impact guy last year, Foster didn’t stay healthy, Sherman is coming off a torn Achilles and going to a new scheme. The Seahawks and Cardinals could very well be much better than anyone expects. A top-half finish for the 49ers is not a free gift by any stretch.
Brinson’s in and out doesn’t quite make sense since he has three AFC teams out, but only two back in (and vice versa with NFC)
NFC EAST Philadelphia Washington
NFC NORTH Minnesota Minnesota
NFC SOUTH New Orleans New Orleans
NFC WEST L.A. Rams L.A. Rams
NFC WILD CARD 1 Carolina Green Bay
NFC WILD CARD 2 Atlanta Atlanta
AFC EAST New England New England
AFC NORTH Pittsburgh Pittsburgh
AFC SOUTH Jacksonville Jacksonville
AFC WEST Kansas City L.A. Chargers
AFC WILD CARD 1 Tennessee Baltimore
AFC WILD CARD 2 Buffalo San Francisco (oops)
Now out of his home state of Wisconsin, Tony Romo doubles down on the Packers as NFC champs while also naming his pick for AFC kingpin. Nick Shook of NFL.com:
We’re about 15 months into Tony Romo’s retirement, and after a stellar first season in the broadcast booth, he’s cruising at an enviable altitude.
But does that give him the right to see into the future?
It’s a joke, of course — everyone has a right to predictions, no matter how outlandish. Romo has displayed fortune-telling abilities during games, predicting plays right before they’re executed (“Jim, I’ve got $5 this is a run to the left”) on various occasions during the 2017 season. He combined the two on Wednesday during an appearance on NFL Total Access.
“If I had to pick right now? It’s pretty early,” Romo said when asked by NFL Network’s Lindsay Rhodes who he saw meeting in Super Bowl LIII. “Thing about the NFL is things change pretty fast. Injuries happen, a lot of stuff happens, but, um… if I was picking right now, I’d probably go with Green Bay versus Jacksonville. That would be a tentative, rough guess here in the summer months.”
Packers. Jags. Rodgers. Bortles?!
Super Bowl predictions in July carry about as much weight as a discarded plastic bag dancing in the wind. But here’s an analyst who has plenty of on-field experience and happened to get an up-close look at the Jaguars when they peaked during their surprising playoff run last season. He’s no Rob the Sports Wiz seated at the end of the bar.
Jacksonville is somewhat of a darling pick (though their success will again depend on the guy under center) after that run. Green Bay, though, is the one that has lasted in such a conversation. Even after a disappointing season that was undercut by Rodgers’ broken collarbone, the Packers still bring a contending roster to 2018. Based on Romo’s prediction, it is one that might surprise some folks.
“The Jimmy Graham addition is gonna be very big,” Romo elaborated. “A lot of the field goals are going to turn into touchdowns because of that, having him as a weapon. And then I think their secondary, which I think has been a weakness for a few years and cost them some games, I think that’s gonna improve this year.”
For the first time in a while, Green Bay is a bit of an under-the-radar team. If we get even one half of this matchup, we can give Romo the largest ribbon you can find at your county fair. He’s already an established voice on the game, but his credentials will only strengthen if he nails this.
Plus, who doesn’t want to see SuperBort?
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Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com on QB AARON RODGERS and his astonishing TD to INT ratio:
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has avoided interceptions like no other quarterback in NFL history.
Rodgers has just 78 interceptions in his NFL career, and his rate of throwing an interception on 1.6 percent of his passes is the lowest for any quarterback in NFL history.
To put it into perspective: Rodgers’ career-high in interceptions is 13, which he threw in his first season as the Packers’ starter. If Rodgers plays until he’s 50 and throws 14 interceptions every single year, he’ll still have fewer career interceptions than Brett Favre.
Rodgers is 10th in NFL history in passing touchdowns, but he’s tied for 159th in NFL history in interceptions. The quarterback directly in front of Rodgers on the career touchdown list, Ben Roethlisberger, has 96 more interceptions than Rodgers. The quarterback directly behind Rodgers on the career touchdown list, John Elway, has 148 more interceptions than Rodgers.
With Rodgers looking for a new contract this offseason, it is easy to see why he thinks he deserves to be the highest-paid quarterback in NFL history.
It’s no surprise that TOM BRADY is also very good at avoiding INTs and he is 3rd on the list, but the name that is 2nd is a surprise that would send a segment of the media into histrionics should they realize who it is.
LOWEST CAREER INTERCEPTION PERCENTAGE
1 Aaron Rodgers 1.59%
2 Colin Kaepernick 1.77%
3 Tom Brady 1.82%
4 Derek Carr 1.96%
5 Sam Bradford 1.97%
6 Russell Wilson 1.98%
NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants give up their 3rd round pick in 2019 to draft CB SAM BEAL. Ed Valentine of BigBlueReview.com collects the mostly positive reviews:
The New York Giants selection of cornerback Sam Beal in the NFL Supplemental Draft appears to be playing to solid reviews. Chris liked it. GM Dave Gettleman didn’t hesitate to give up his 2019 third-round pick to make the move.
What are NFL scouts and analysts saying? Let’s take a look at some of the reaction.
NFL Draft Scout says Beal is talented, but “relatively raw.”
In a reflection of Beal’s rare talent (at least among recent supplemental draft prospects), representatives from all 32 teams attended Beal’s personal Pro Day workout on June 28. There, the 6-foot, 178-pounder showed off NFL-caliber athleticism, registering a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash, a vertical jump of 37 inches along with a broad jump of 10-6. He clocked a 4.09 in the short shuttle and 7.11 in the 3-cone drill.
Beal’s greatest asset is his natural cover skills due to an exciting combination of length and fluid athleticism. He uses his long arms to corral receivers off the line of scrimmage, limiting their ability to get a clean release and choking passing lanes as routes progress. He has light feet and loose hips, allowing him to change directions smoothly to effectively stick to the hip of receivers.
While intriguing, Beal remains a relatively raw prospect who needs to get stronger and more physical as a tackler. He is willing to lower a shoulder into ball-carriers to create a pop, but needs to do a better job of extending his arms and wrapping up.
While Beal plays with good timing and competitiveness on 50-50 balls, one area he (and many other defensive backs) can improve is his hands. Beal turned just two of the 10 passes broken up a year ago into interceptions.
Walter Football gives the pick an A+ grade.
The Giants were rewarded the second pick in each round of the supplemental draft, so they had the ability to select Sam Beal in the third frame before everyone else, save for the Raiders. Oakland was the only team that could have chosen Beal ahead of New York, so one has to wonder if Jon Gruden was tanning on some beach and not really paying attention because the Raiders really could have used Beal.
New York was able to greatly benefit from Oakland’s incompetence. Beal is a terrific talent, and it could be argued that he would have been a late first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Being able to nab him in the third round is an absolute steal, and the Giants deserve an A+ grade as a result. With Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Ross Cockrell gone, New York had a big need at corner, which Beal should be able to fill. He’ll be off to a slow start after missing OTAs, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he found his way into the starting lineup by the middle of the season.
Beal is a tall, lengthy corner with great ball skills. He might have problems with speedy receivers, but he’ll almost certainly boost a Giants secondary that needed an upgrade.
SB Nation says “Beal has the makings of a starting cornerback with potential to grow into an upper-echelon defender.”
Beal will be well served by the amount of man coverage that Western Michigan played last season. As NFL defenses become more man coverage-centric, Beal is a perfect fit for any defense looking for someone who can compete for a starting spot immediately. It’s rare to have a player in the supplemental draft that’s as talented as Beal.
NFL.com believes Beal “possibly become a natural cover corner on an island.”
Projected by some to be a top-5 player at his position next year, Beal was viewed as a near-lock to be selected today. NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks noted that Beal owns the footwork and body control to possibly become a natural cover corner on an island, but needs to work on his run defense. Beal joins a Big Blue D that has undergone an overhaul under new defensive coordinator James Bettcher. The Giants need depth at outside corner behind current starters Janoris Jenkins and erratic Eli Apple. Bettcher’s system calls for his corners to play a lot of man-coverage on the outside. It’s a role Beal is suited to grow into, even if it’s not in Year 1.
Chris Wesseling of NFL.com picks the NFL’s deepest position groups and he says the Eagles defensive line, even after jettisoning VINNY CURRY, ranks over all:
1) Philadelphia Eagles defensive line: Should we throw in the offensive line, as well? The Eagles dominated in the trenches en route to the Super Bowl LII title, pushing teams around on offense and sending waves of pass rushers on defense. While reigning Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald of the Rams is the cream of the crop, Philadelphia’s earth-moving Fletcher Cox isn’t far behind among interior linemen.
Cox has plenty of help in the form of Super Bowl hero Brandon Graham, run-stuffer Tim Jernigan, veteran Chris Long and second-year edge rusher Derek Barnett. To that impressive quartet, Philadelphia has added three-time Pro Bowler Michael Bennett and former All-Pro Haloti Ngata to go with athletic fourth-round pick Josh Sweat. Considering the success of coordinator Jim Schwartz’s defense, it’s no surprise that other teams have begun copying Philadelphia’s blueprint up front. That brings us to the next-deepest group …
He picks a total of seven groups (2) Minnesota Vikings front seven; 3) Dallas Cowboys offensive line: 4) New Orleans Saints secondary: 5) Denver Broncos pass rushers: 6) Atlanta Falcons wide receivers; 7) Cleveland Browns linebackers: Surprised to see the Browns on this list? Me too.) and you can read his reasoning here.
The Redskins draft CB ADONIS ALEXANDER, the consolation prize behind CB SAM BEAL, in the supplemental draft. Brad Tanincgo at ClutchPoints.com:
The Washington Redskins selected cornerback Adonis Alexander out of Virginia Tech in the sixth round of the NFL’s supplemental draft Wednesday, per John Keim of ESPN.
Alexander played three years for the Hokies, but he was ruled academically ineligible to play for his redshirt senior year. He totaled seven interceptions, 17 passes defended, and 125 tackles in his 32 games over three years in Blacksburg.
At 6-foot-3, Alexander boasts above-average size for a cornerback. Although, he still needs to work on his lack of top-line speed－he ran an underwhelming 4.6 seconds on his 40-yard dash at the Pro Day－and upper-body strength, which could potentially cause him some problems in the NFL.
Alexander also had some off-field concerns during his college days. He was arrested for marijuana possession in April 2016 and was also suspended for the first two games of the 2017 season for violation of team rules.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
LB CONNOR BARWIN is waiting for an offer from a team he considers to be a Super Bowl contender which Barwin seems to think could be the Rams:
After starting 109 of a possible 112 games with the Texans, Eagles and Rams over the past seven years, veteran pass rusher Connor Barwin has been left to languish on the free-agent market this offseason.
The 31-year-old is in no rush to find a new team, however, biding his time until the perfect opportunity arises.
In a Tuesday interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio, Barwin revealed that he’s had multiple offers on the table and will likely sign in time to join a training camp “in a couple weeks.” While he’s seeking a defensive scheme that matches his skill set, the top priority is chasing a Super Bowl ring before he hangs up his cleats.
“I think it’s how much you believe they can compete,” Barwin told Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on Movin’ the Chains. “I’m not going to go play anywhere that I don’t think they’ve got a chance to win a Super Bowl. That’s always the way I’ve felt, but obviously the older you get, the more and more urgency you have.
“And then money. Money is always part of it, too. Your whole career, you’ve got to take that as part of the equation.”
Relatively injury-free for the bulk of his career, Barwin envisions playing a “couple of more years.”
While he neglected to disclose which teams have shown the most interest, Barwin sounds amenable to rejoining a Rams outfit that has the unproven tandem of Samson Ebukam and Matt Longacre penciled in as the outside linebackers in Wade Phillips’ defense.
“That was fun to be a part of last year,” Barwin explained. “I think Sean [McVay] is going to be a great coach in this league for a long time. He partnered up with Wade, who has been a great coach in this league for a very long time, and they’re going to do great this year.
“Sean is just a great leader, and he’s gotten everybody to buy in and he’s going to do great again this year. I’m excited to see what they do.”
Will McVay and Phillips come calling for a familiar veteran to bolster the edge-rushing rotation? Stay tuned for the opening of camps later this month.
Another summer day, another NFL player in trouble. This time it is NT MARCEL DAREUS. Chris Parentou at News4Jax.com:
A Texas woman, who identifies herself only as Jane Doe, is suing Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus over allegations that he sexually assaulted her and exposed her to a sexually transmitted disease.
According to a copy of a civil complaint filed July 6 in Duval County, the unidentified woman accuses Dareus, 28, of having sex with her while she was unconscious and without disclosing what she believes was herpes.
The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and damages in excess of $15,000.
News4Jax spoke with Dareus’ attorney, Steve Weizenecker, who said he needed to speak with his client before issuing a statement on the allegations. Requests for comment from Dareus’ agent were forwarded to a Jaguars spokesperson, who confirmed the team is aware of the lawsuit, but declined comment.
The complaint states Dareus and his accuser went on a date in Houston April 7 that ended with them spending the night together at a hotel. It states that when the woman woke the next day, she could not recall what happened the night before, but Dareus told her they had sex.
The complaint goes on to say that Dareus saw the woman the following two days and the pair had sex on multiple occasions. Later the same week, the complaint argues, the woman came down with symptoms and went to see a doctor, who diagnosed her with herpes.
In the complaint, the woman’s attorneys accuse Dareus of having unprotected sex with their client “while she was unconscious and therefore without her consent.” They allege he later had consensual sex with her “without informing her that he was carrying a sexually transmitted disease.”
It’s unclear whether the accuser filed a criminal complaint against Dareus. News4Jax has reached out to the Houston Police Department to see if an incident report was ever filed, or if any criminal investigation into the incident took place. We are waiting on the agency’s response.
The accuser’s attorneys issued a statement in response to questions from News4Jax, saying they did not know if there was any criminal investigation linked to their client’s allegations:
“There are civil and criminal laws in both Florida and Texas that address circumstances where someone knowingly exposes another to sexually transmitted diseases. As of now, we are not aware that any criminal charges have been filed in this matter. Our focus is on protecting our client’s right to recover damages for the severe physical and emotional harm that’s been caused to her.”
Professional athletes are frequently the targets of unfounded allegations. Anyone can file a civil lawsuit and allege anything they want, but the plaintiff will have to show evidence in court. It’s important to note the details of the complaint are merely unsupported allegations.
Attorney Gene Nichols, who has no ties to the case, said the timing of the lawsuit and the plaintiff’s admission that the pair had consensual sex multiple times are among the factors likely to inspire skepticism about the merits of the case.
“To file a lawsuit in what is four months after the incident would leave just about anybody to question potentially the credibility and the viability of a criminal case if she’s already filing a lawsuit,” said Nichols.
Hillsborough County court records show Dareus is set to appear in court on Aug. 9 for a motion to dismiss a separate complaint filed by a Las Vegas woman, who alleges she was assaulted in January 2017 at a home Dareus rented in Tampa.
Presumably she is claiming that the sex in the two days after the mystery night occurred with protection being used and that the only way she could have gotten the herpes was unprotected sex that must have occurred while she was unconscious. If we follow her claim which seems undermined by two subsequent days of admitted sex.
RB LeSEAN McCOY is lawyering up in the wake of unsavory events in Georgia. Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. His attorney was part of the team that defended Hall of Fame LB Ray Lewis in 2000 on murder charges.
Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy has hired a prominent Atlanta defense attorney amid a police investigation into a home invasion that sent his former girlfriend to the hospital after she was allegedly beaten and robbed of jewelry.
The office of defense attorney Don Samuel confirmed to ESPN and ABC News on Wednesday morning that it was representing McCoy but had not yet released a statement about the case as of Wednesday afternoon.
Samuel has represented several high-profile clients, including serving as part of the defense team for former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis when he was charged with murder in 2000; the charges were later dropped.
McCoy owns a house in the Atlanta suburb of Milton, where his former girlfriend, Delicia Cordon, was living. Milton police on Wednesday released a redacted version of their report of Tuesday’s incident at the home that listed crimes of armed robbery, aggravated assault with a firearm, residential burglary without force, and aggravated battery.
Police have not named any suspects. A spokesperson for the Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney’s office declined to comment on the case Wednesday.
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The NFL’s personal conduct policy could allow the league to place McCoy on the commissioner’s exempt list while he is being investigated by the league and police. That designation would prevent McCoy from practicing or playing in any games.
The exempt list requires either a player to have been formally charged with a crime of violence, including “having engaged in other conduct that poses a genuine danger to the safety or well-being of another person,” or for a league to suspect a violation but still be investigating.
Attorneys for Cordon released a statement to multiple media outlets Tuesday evening saying Cordon was sleeping in the home when a male assailant entered the house early Tuesday and demanded “specific items of jewelry” that she had received from McCoy. There were no signs of forced entry, the attorneys said.
The attorneys’ statement alleges the assailant bruised Cordon’s wrists in an attempt to remove a bracelet and struck her in the head with a firearm. The statement also alleges that McCoy previously made comments about wanting the jewelry back from Cordon and said she could be robbed because the jewelry was expensive.
Photos released by her attorneys show Cordon with multiple cuts and bruises on her face and bruises on her wrist.
Court records in Fulton County show McCoy had been attempting since last July to evict Cordon from the home. A hearing was scheduled for Tuesday in the case, but it was rescheduled to Aug. 14 because of an emergency in Cordon’s attorney’s family.
The attorneys’ statement also alleged that on June 1, when McCoy was participating in practice for the Bills and Cordon was out of town, McCoy directed “his family, friends and laborers” to remove Cordon’s furniture from the home in an attempt to evict her. The statement also alleges that McCoy changed the house’s alarm system and removed security cameras previously accessed by Cordon.
Milton police said in a statement that a woman was sent to the hospital as a result of Tuesday’s home invasion with unknown injuries and that a second woman, whom Cordon’s attorneys identified as her cousin, also suffered minor injuries.
“The preliminary investigation indicates that this residence was specifically targeted by the suspect or suspects, and not a random incident,” police said in the statement provided to ESPN and ABC News. “When officers arrived they found one victim who had been physically assaulted by a lone intruder. During the altercation, the suspect demanded specific items from the victim.”
McCoy was first accused of being responsible for Cordon’s injuries when an unidentified Instagram user posted a graphic image Tuesday morning of a woman, identified as the user’s friend, with cuts and bruises on her face. The post included a message that implicated McCoy. The post, which has been deleted, also included allegations that McCoy beat his son and his dog and used “illegal steroids.”
The unidentified Instagram user posted again Tuesday evening, writing that the victim’s lawyer urged her to delete the original post. The user then added, “I stand by what I said. I’ve personally addressed [McCoy] on everything that was stated many many times over the years. Lie to these people if you want Shady, but you know I know everything.”
Earlier Tuesday, a woman who called herself a friend of the victim posted to Facebook alleging there were “dudes” sent to the victim’s house and she was pistol-whipped and robbed. McCoy released a statement Tuesday following the unidentified woman’s Instagram post that denied the accusations.
Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com thinks things sound ominous for McCoy:
It’s still too early in the investigation regarding the injuries inflicted on Delicia Cordon to know whether the proof will ever point to Bills running back LeSean McCoy as being in any way responsible for them. And before the situation ever would get to the point where there would be enough proof to convict McCoy of a crime, there could be enough proof to result in the placement of McCoy on the Commissioner Exempt List.
The league has broad power to suspend a player with pay. It can happen when the player is formally charged with a crime of violence. It also can happen when an NFL investigation “leads the Commissioner to believe” that a crime of violence may have been committed. If the Commissioner simply believe McCoy “may” have been responsible for the injuries, the Commissioner “may act where the circumstances and evidence warrant doing so.” And here’s the key point: “This decision will not reflect a finding of guilt or innocence and will not be guided by the same legal standards and considerations that would apply in a criminal trial.”
In other words, the NFL will do whatever it thinks it needs to do. Recent history tells us that the decision will be influenced largely by P.R. considerations. Given the vicious nature of the attack on Cordon and the graphic photos that have been made public, the NFL may feel compelled to keep McCoy off the field unless and until he is fully exonerated by the justice system, or until the NFL decides whether he did or didn’t do it under the league’s much lower standard of proof.
At this point, no one knows where this will go. Which means that the Bills will need to be ready to replace McCoy as the team’s top tailback. Which could result in a trade, or in the signing of a free agent, like Adrian Peterson or DeMarco Murray.
Wherever this goes, the Bills need a plan — and they need to be ready to implement the plan on fairly short notice. McCoy arguably is the best player on the team; if the Bills hope to be competitive in 2018, they’ll need a strong alternative, and they’ll need to be ready to find that alternative before they actually need him.
There’s another outcome that can’t be ruled out. If the Bills come to the conclusion that there’s a chance McCoy is responsible for the injuries inflicted on Cordon, they could decide to part ways with McCoy. Under that scenario, they would definitely need a plan for moving forward without him.
NEW YORK JETS
S BRANDON BRYANT didn’t go in the supplemental draft, but he is going to sign a free agent deal with the J-E-T-S. Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com:
Brandon Bryant didn’t have to wait long to be acquired after being passed over in Wednesday’s supplemental draft.
The New York Jets are expected to sign the former Mississippi State safety, a source told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Bryant was one of three eligible prospects to not be selected in the supplemental draft. Two players — Western Michigan CB Sam Beal and Virginia Tech CB Adonis Alexander — were chosen.
NFL Network draft analyst Bucky Brooks called Bryant “one of the most explosive college football players in 2016 and ’17” in his supplemental draft preview.
“Despite failing to perform up to lofty expectations during his pro day,” Brooks wrote, “Bryant posted respectable numbers for his position (checking in at 5-foot-11 and 207 pounds with 4.45/4.52 40 times, a 34-inch vertical and a 10-3 broad jump) in front of representatives from 14 teams.
“On tape, Bryant flashes decent movement skills, range and toughness, but he isn’t a playmaker in the back end. Although he tallied five career interceptions as a Bulldog, he snagged three of those picks in 2015 and didn’t make much of an impact after his initial success. With questions surrounding his work ethic, discipline and attention to detail after his on-field (blown coverages) and academic struggles, Bryant is likely to be a seventh round/priority free agent prospect on most boards around the league.”
The Jets already have two starting safeties — Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye — both of whom they selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. Bryant offers depth at the position.
THIS AND THAT
The three great quarterbacks from the 2014 Draft – ELI MANNING, PHILIP RIVERS and BEN ROETHLISBERGER – are winding down their careers. Adam Rank of NFL.com looks at who has enjoyed the best cast of characters:
Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger will be forever linked by the 2004 NFL Draft. And I’m sure at some sushi joint in a strip mall in Sandy Springs, Georgia, Matt Schaub sits belly to the bar saying to nobody in particular, “Hey, I was part of that draft class, too.” And you know what? I have your back, Matt. You certainly were. But for this exercise, we’re just going to focus on the first-rounders. Well, besides J.P. Losman.
Your first question is probably going to be: Why? Well, let me tell you, it’s kind of slow right now. Most of my days are spent wandering around the office throwing my opinions at people. My favorite subject to debate — well, besides the immense awesomeness of “The Last Jedi” and “Solo” — is the 2004 quarterback class. I’m of the mind Rivers is the best of the bunch. If he played for the Steelers, he’d probably have at least four rings. And in that vein, let’s take a closer look at how each of these guys have been supported at the skill positions over the past 14 seasons. Who has enjoyed the best weaponry? Let’s take a look, in alphabetical order:
Eli Manning, Giants
Some of my friends, who just so happen to be Giants fans, act like Eli has never played with credible threats during his career. I’m here to tell you that it’s not the case. However, I’m not sure Eli has worked with a Hall of Famer. I mean, we could project Odell Beckham Jr. as a Cantonite (Cantonian?), but it’s probably a little too early at this point. Tiki Barber was a really good running back, but I have a very hard time arguing for his gold jacket — even if you put him up against the Bettis Bar. (The lowest HOF running back. When considering a borderline candidate, you should always ask yourself, Was this running back better than Jerome Bettis?).
Skill-position Hall of Famers: None.
Guys who should get in: Do you want to say Tiki? Again, Beckham has more work to do.
BEST OFFENSIVE GROUPS
2005 Giants: Tiki Barber was really at his best in 2004 and ’05, having cut down on his fumbles and put up some great numbers: 2,000-plus scrimmage yards and double-digit TDs in each season. He rushed for 1,662 yards in 2006, but had just five touchdowns. (Fantasy dorks are feeling me here and remember this. Distinctly! Brandon Jacobs cleaned up with nine touchdowns in that ’06 campaign.) There is always this notion Eli didn’t have great receivers before OBJ. But this era had Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer and Jeremy Shockey.
2007 Giants: Just like the previous version. But without Tiki. And somehow they win the Super Bowl. Was Derrick Ward really the key? I see David Tyree’s name on this roster. Why does it ring a bell? Oh, that’s right. Did you know he had just four receptions in the regular season that year?
2011 Giants: Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs didn’t enjoy their best seasons in 2011 — both were much better in 2010 — but they were still good. And this team had the receiving duo of Victor Cruz (82 receptions for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns) and Hakeem Nicks (79 for 1,192 and seven TDs).
Future Giants: I mean, OBJ, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley. This team could be so amazing.
Philip Rivers, Chargers
The only guy on this list to not win a Super Bowl. And it seems wrong. Should have won in 2006 — blame Marlon McCree. If he just falls down after the interception of Tom Brady in the Divisional Round — as opposed to fumbling the ball back to New England — Chargers win. And then blow out the Colts in the AFC Championship Game. Trust me: They owned the Colts. I’ve told this to Reggie Wayne and he agrees … Agrees with you that I’m an idiot. But I’m convinced I’m right.
Skill-position Hall of Famers: RB LaDainian Tomlinson (2017).
Guys who should get in: TE Antonio Gates.
BEST OFFENSIVE GROUPS
2006-07 Chargers: Peak LT was the best RB I’ve seen since Walter Payton. Don’t @ me. I mean, 31 touchdowns in 2006. Plus, this team had peak Antonio Gates. And a fresh-legged Michael Turner. Darren Sproles in 2007. Vincent Jackson hadn’t fully established himself yet, but this group was loaded.
2010 Chargers: They led the NFL in total offense. Might not have had the best weapons, though — Rivers threw for 4,710 yards, but didn’t have a single receiver even reach 800. Sproles had a team-high 59 receptions. Gates had 782 receiving yards. The top running backs were Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews. Man, this was all Rivers.
Current Chargers: Not a bad team. I’m not a huge Melvin Gordon guy, but he produces numbers. Keenan Allen will be in the “league’s best” conversation if he can stay healthy.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
People think I’m kidding when I credit Ben with 1.5 Super Bowl wins, as he was merely a spectator for the team’s win in Super Bowl XL. Any other approach would be like me crowing about Jim McMahon’s “two” Super Bowl wins, even though his second came as Brett Favre’s backup in Green Bay. Roethlisberger’s also had the benefit of having the top-ranked defense five times during his career. More crucially to this particular piece, there has been at least a Hall of Fame receiver or running back on his team every year — and most of the time, he’s had one of each.
Skill-position Hall of Famers: RB Jerome Bettis (2015 class).
Guys who should get in: WR Hines Ward, WR Antonio Brown, RB Le’Veon Bell.
BEST OFFENSIVE GROUPS
The current Steelers: Brown and Bell are in their prime. Brown is currently the best receiver in the game and has logged at least 100 receptions in five consecutive seasons. Since entering the league in 2013, Bell has averaged a whopping 129 scrimmage yards per game. These guys are money. It’s one thing to boast two Hall of Famers, but one is typically ascending while the other’s past his prime. It’s not often you get both at the height of their powers. It’s like the current Golden State Warriors. Except those folks win titles.
2009 Steelers: Roethlisberger didn’t have a Hall of Fame running back, but Rashard Mendenhall ran for 1,108 yards at 4.6 per carry, and Willie Parker was there. And then there was the receiving corps … Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward, Mike Wallace and tight end Heath Miller, who received nearly 100 targets. This team was loaded.
2010 Steelers: Almost the same as the previous year — sans Holmes. But then you added Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown. Obviously, AB wasn’t AB here, but still. And Antwaan Randle-El was back!
I mean, it’s clear Roethlisberger has had the most skill-position talent to work with. He’s had no shortage of big-name players come through. Rivers had the best individual player (LT). And the Chargers always find those rangy, 6-foot-5 receivers — kinda like how producers on “The Bachelorette” always find vapid, vein, self-indulgent bros. But the Steelers have had a lot of over-the-top talent. I mean, I won’t let Eli say he’s played with nobody. But it’s clear: Ben Roethlisberger has not only benefitted from having the better defenses, but he’s been blessed with the most talented skill-position players, as well.
Jeff Fisher could be coming to a FOX telecast near you. Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:
After a long career as a coach, Jeff Fisher may soon begin a new career as a broadcaster.
Michael McCarthy of Sporting News reports that FOX is talking to Fisher about having him work as an analyst either in the booth or in the pregame studio this season.
FOX is in its first year as the home of Thursday Night Football and maintains its Sunday afternoon coverage of NFC games. FOX’s top team, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, will handle Thursday nights but may take some Sunday afternoons off.
In his career coaching the Houston/Tennessee Oilers/Titans and St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams, Fisher went 173-165-1 in the regular season and 5-6 in the postseason. His 165 regular season losses are tied for the most in NFL history
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Rick Maese of the Washington Post has some details on Peter King’s new column, which is “The Monday Morning Quarterback” no more:
After covering football at Sports Illustrated for 29 years, Peter King announced in May that he was leaving the venerated magazine to work full-time for NBC.
His final “Monday Morning Quarterback” column appeared on May 21, and because Sports Illustrated still uses the MMQB label for much of its NFL content, when King’s NBC column debuts on Monday it will carry the name “Football Morning in America.”
The column will feature some small additions and minor tweaks but will largely feel familiar to longtime readers, with King delving deep into the topics and characters that populate the nation’s most-watched sport. Still, King’s move does provide a mile-marker of sorts, further evidence of a rapidly-shifting landscape — certainly for his own distinguished career, but also for the sport of football and for sports media.
King, 61, discussed these topics and others with The Washington Post in advance of his NBC debut. This interview has been lightly edited for length.
Q: You’ve always taken a break from the column in the summer. Did this year’s feel different? Were you itching to start writing again?
King: Every Sunday, particularly, I’d think, “Would I be writing today?” or “What would I want to write today?” I am not a big fan of most of what is written in this six- or seven-week period, post-draft, where you go into minicamps, and a lot of times you’re just literally inventing stuff. It’s one of the reasons why I felt like this was a good time for me to go.
I just sort of dreaded how to fill the hole every year. Dreaded is probably too strong a word, but I just I really didn’t look forward to it, because I am not a big fan of this 52-week-a-year, 24-7 news cycle in the NFL. It simply doesn’t exist.
I’ve been on vacation in California and Seattle with my two daughters in the last week. And I didn’t think for five minutes, “Boy, I wish I could write something in the dead week of the Fourth of July.”
Q: You started the Monday Morning QB column 21 years ago. What should readers expect now that it’s moving to NBCSports.com?
King: I think a lot of the column will be similar to what I’ve done, particularly in the last three to five years. But I am going to add some new elements. There’s one thing that I’ve always really wanted to do. In my first column, it’s going to be with Ben McAdoo, the former coach of the Giants. Basically, it’s going to be called “What I’ve Learned.” In essence, this is going to be a section of the column that is going to be basically somebody in or near to football and a lesson that they’ve learned.
There’s two or three people on every team who have got some real wisdom to share, some stories to tell about the things they’ve learned.
Q: You’ve done TV work for NBC going back to 2006. NBC, obviously, is an NFL rights-holder and has a financial relationship with the league, unlike Sports Illustrated. Are you concerned your column will be impacted at all by this relationship or perhaps viewed differently by readers?
King: No, I’m not. Never one time in my discussions with NBC — not once — did they ever say, “Hey, listen, we may want to see your column on Sunday just to make sure we’re going to be okay with whatever you might write.”
Secondarily, I would say that in my contract I have editorial control over this column. So you’re going to read the same column that you read, for better or for worse, in terms of editorializing football and non-football opinions that I’ve always written.
But you know, it’s a good point. I am really sensitive about that. At Sports Illustrated, we never had any contractual ties to the NFL, and NBC obviously pays a rights fee to the NFL to show the game. So I get the question. But I could not have signed with NBC if they had said, “Hey, listen, we’re going to want you to lay off the NFL in times of controversy.”
Q: After your departure from SI was announced, you wrote: “The 24/7-ness of the job, though, has worn on me, as has some of the silly and invented stuff that populates the football media (e.g., 2019 mock drafts 360 days before the 2019 draft). The monster must be fed daily.” I know you’re still going to write and do TV and do radio — and you’re getting ready to do your annual tour of training camps. But do you anticipate slowing down a little?
King: It’s more the day-to-day stuff during the season. I’ll probably be more of an observer than I will be a chronicler during the season, and obviously the offseason. But you know my column on Monday, I think it’s going to be better than it’s been. That’s my goal.
Q: I know you’re still rooting for Sports Illustrated, obviously, but do you worry for them, too?
King: Of course. I think everybody who loves SI worries for them. I don’t know who’s going to buy them. Whoever buys the — I don’t know what that means for the future of the magazine, of the website, of all the electronic stuff that they’re getting into now. So until I see what exactly is going to happen, of course I’m worried for them.
There’s such a huge need for Sports Illustrated. I don’t worry that it’s going away. I just don’t. I just worry — it’s the unknown. I just hope that they continue to do the great work that results in things like Jerry Richardson having to step down because of a scandal in Carolina.
RIP DARYL ROGERS
The former Lions coach has passed away at age 83. The AP:
Darryl Rogers, who coached Michigan State to a share of the Big Ten title in 1978 and later took the helm for the Detroit Lions, has died. He was 83.
The Lions said Rogers’ family confirmed his death Wednesday.
Rogers coached Michigan State from 1976 to 1979, going 24-18-2. The 1978 team, which included star flanker Kirk Gibson, won its final seven games to finish tied for first in the conference.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Darryl Rogers and his family at this most difficult time,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said in a statement. “Coach Rogers won the 1978 Big Ten championship at Michigan State and was, in many ways, an offensive pioneer in college football. I was honored to have had the opportunity to talk to him a number of times throughout my time here and he was always very supportive. He loved Michigan State and will forever be a Spartan.”
Rogers also coached at Arizona State from 1980 to ’84 before heading to the NFL. He was with the Lions from 1985 to ’88.