The Daily Briefing Tuesday, October 16, 2018

AROUND THE NFL 

If The Season Ended Today – in the NFC, the Rams and Saints have drawn ahead in the conference standings with the NFC North and NFC East both up for grabs unless you are the Giants.

 

NFC                                                          Div             Conf

Los Angeles Rams      West      6-0          2-0              3-0                                                   

New Orleans               South     4-1           1-1            3-1                                                    

Washington                 East      3-2           0-0             3-1     

Chicago                       North     3-2           0-1             3-1       

Carolina                       WC       3-2           0-1             2-2                                                   

Green Bay                    WC      3-2-1       1-1-1          2-2-1  

Minnesota                                3-2-1        0-0-1         3-1-1        

Seattle                                     3-3            1-1            2-2                                                     

Dallas                                      3-3           1-0             2-2 

Philadelphia                             3-3            1-0            2-2                                                   

 

NFC NORTH

 

CHICAGO

They are holding their breath in Chicago.  Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune:

 

Bears coach Matt Nagy didn’t provide an update on Khalil Mack’s injured right ankle beyond saying the outside linebacker would undergo tests this week and the team would know more in a couple of days.

 

Mack injured his ankle in the first half against the Dolphins on Sunday but re-entered and wound up playing 79 percent of the Bears snaps on defense. He finished with two tackles, but it was his first game in a Bears uniform without a sack or a forced fumble.

 

The Bears, who had 18 sacks in their first four games, didn’t sack quarterback Brock Osweiler once Sunday.

 

“As most teams do there’s emphasis on being able to do some different things with those edge guys, both Leonard (Floyd) and Khalil, and so they did some stuff there,” Nagy said. “I’ll give credit to Miami. They did a good job in regards to hitting guys that were open when they were open and then running after the catch. … When you’re not getting to the quarterback, then you want to do your best to try and get your hands up and have some tipped balls. We didn’t have many of those, so hopefully we can improve for next week.”

 

Nagy said he hopes the missed tackles that marred the defense’s second half, most notably on Albert Wilson’s tying 75-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown, were “an aberration.”

 

 

MINNESOTA

Mike Tanier of Bleacher Report says that WR ADAM THIELEN is a QB’s best friend, or at least a QB’s bank account’s best friend.

 

It was another 100-yard receiving game for Thielen, his sixth in six games, and another averted crisis for the Vikings, who climbed to 3-2-1 after a rough start to the season.

 

Given that Thielen is a former undrafted rookie and nobody-gave-him-a-chance guy from Minnesota State who rose slowly from the Vikings special teams to a featured role, he may be permanently stored in your gritty, old-school, blue-collar, sneaky-fast white guy mental bin, perhaps in Jordy Nelson’s former slot. (Or maybe it’s because that’s the way broadcast teams like to describe him, which they often do when it comes to white wide receivers.)

 

But he’s not.

 

Thielen leads the NFL in receptions (58), yards (712) and yards per game (118.7). He’s on pace to catch 155 passes this season, shattering Marvin Harrison’s 2002 single-season record of 143 catches.

 

Unlike Harrison, Thielen doesn’t have Peyton Manning to work with. Instead, Thielen has been making the reputations of—and making lots of money for—his quarterbacks the last three seasons. And he’s doing so for the low, low price of just $19.2 million over four years.

 

It all started in 2016, when Thielen burst on the scene after two years on the bench to lead the Vikings with 967 receiving yards. Thielen caught 75.0 percent of the passes thrown to him that year, a remarkable figure for a receiver averaging 14.0 yards per catch, as opposed to someone who catches mostly screens and dump-offs.

 

It was a performance that helped then-Vikings QB Sam Bradford set a single-season completion percentage record that year. Bradford, of course, is a master of converting marginal success into huge sums of money. The Cardinals signed him to a two-year, $40 million contract this offseason expecting an efficient veteran. Separated from Thielen (and Stefon Diggs, a fine multidimensional receiver in his own right), Bradford went back to completing four-yard passes on 3rd-and-16 until he was benched.

 

Case Keenum replaced Bradford in Minnesota and became the surprise star of 2017, throwing for 3,547 yards and 22 touchdowns. Thielen caught 91 passes for 1,276 yards, but his impact on Keenum and the Vikings went far beyond the usual go-to receiver role.

 

Analytics revealed that Keenum’s breakout year was full of hot air. Football Outsiders determined that Keenum benefited from a league-high 15 deep completions on inaccurate throws—in other words, plays where the receiver saved his bacon. Fifteen big plays by receivers can work wonders for a quarterback’s statistics and reputation. Keenum was largely a product of Thielen and his other surroundings.

 

The Broncos ignored the warning signs that they were getting fool’s gold and signed Keenum for two years and $36 million. Keenum ranks 28th in passer rating and is in danger of getting benched.

 

The Vikings upgraded from Keenum to Cousins for the super-premium price of $84 million over three years. Cousins is a better quarterback than either Keenum or Bradford. But if not for Thielen, the Cousins signing might already look like an expensive mistake.

 

Cousins has targeted Thielen on 31.2 percent of his throws; Thielen has caught 71.6 percent of the passes thrown to him. He’s the guy Cousins looks for when the pocket collapses, which is often. He’s the Vikings’ top third-down weapon, responsible for 14 of Cousins’ 32 successful conversions. He’s also the Vikings’ top deep threat—Diggs averages 10.9 yards per catch this season; Thielen, 12.3—as well as the go-to guy on receiver screens when the Vikings need to keep the defense honest.

 

Cousins is playing well. But like Keenum and Bradford, he’s getting a catch or two per game from Thielen other quarterbacks could only hope for: that 3rd-and-13 dive against the Cardinals, a game-tying last-minute touchdown (save the needed two-point conversion) against the Packers, big plays to sustain drives and flip field position against the Eagles.

 

The Vikings might be 3-3 or 2-4 with a lesser receiver than Thielen. That would place Cousins under the microscope instead of in the end zone performing borrowed dance routines.

 

NFC EAST

 

DALLAS

It seems hard to believe but there is a report that the Cowboys are going to extend Coach Jason Garrett:  Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

From professional bookmakers’ odds to common sense, it would appear that Jason Garrett’s seat is as hot as any in the NFL. But then came a tweet from dallascowboys.com columnist Jeff Sullivan on Monday, alluding to an extension in the works for the Cowboys head coach.

 

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones repeatedly has given Garrett a vote of confidence, but he denied Sullivan’s tweet, which read, “Sounds like another extension could be signed soon he’s not going anywhere.”

 

“I don’t know where Jeff is getting his information,” Jones said on his weekly radio show on 105.3 The Fan, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “He’s pulling one out of the air there as far as any knowledge. My response should not in any way indicate that I’m thinking about it or whether it’s going to be there, it’s just not something that I would have visited with anybody about, least of all Jeff.

 

“I happen to know that I’ve never spoken to another soul about that as far as that is concerned.”

 

Garrett signed a five-year, $30 million extension in January 2015, keeping him under contract through the 2019 season. He has a 70-56 record since taking over for Wade Phillips in the middle of the 2010 season.

 

The Cowboys have three winning seasons, two playoff appearances and one playoff win under Garrett.

 

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

Giants owner John Mara hates to see the abuse hurled at QB ELI MANNING:

 

Giants co-owner John Mara spoke to reporters at Tuesday’s owners meeting and he held court on two topics having to do with the 1-5 teams that have been discussed often in recent weeks.

 

One was wide receiver Odell Beckham‘s ESPN interview and Mara took the stance that he’d prefer Beckham “do a little more playing and a little less talking.” The other was quarterback Eli Manning‘s play so far in the 2018 season.

 

Many have seen Manning’s play as a continuation of the struggles of recent seasons and confirmation that the team should have done more to find an alternative option for the 2018 season. Mara was steadfast about Manning being the right choice to run the offense all offseason and hasn’t changed his tune despite the generally horrid results thus far.

 

“We still believe in him, but everybody needs to do their jobs in order for us to be successful, and right now that’s not happening … I know he’s the punching bag right now, but a lot of guys need to play better when you’re 1-5,” Mara said, via Dan Graziano of ESPN.com.

 

Mara gave former head coach Ben McAdoo the green light to bench Manning last season before reversing course and firing McAdoo after Geno Smith started and lost a game to the Raiders. He said Tuesday, via Judy Battista of NFL Media, that it is head coach Pat Shurmur’s call if they are going to make a change this season, but last year’s history suggests that Shurmur may be treading lightly when it comes to addressing the quarterback spot.

 

NFC SOUTH

 

ATLANTA

The Falcons have given up on the idea that RB DEVONTA FREEMAN will be full go anytime soon.  John Breech of CBSSports.com:

 

A Falcons roster that has been devastated by injuries this year has just taken another hit.

The team announced on Tuesday that running back Devonta Freeman will be placed on injured reserve. The move comes as somewhat of a surprise and that’s because Falcons coach Dan Quinn gave no indication that Freeman might miss an extended amount of time. Quinn met with the media on Monday and said that Freeman would “likely” miss the team’s Week 7 game against the Giants.

 

“Freeman’s still dealing with a groin from the Pittsburgh game,” Quinn said, via ESPN.com. “That will likely knock him out this week.”

 

Quinn clarified on Tuesday that the injury was worse than originally thought and that Freeman would have to undergo surgery.

 

“Following the game against Pittsburgh, where Devonta injured his foot, we thought he was just having general soreness in his groin area,” Quinn said. “As the week went on it continued so we decided to have him get some tests. It has been determined that he will need a procedure that will result in us placing him on injured reserve. We are hopeful he will be able to return this season, but we will have a better feel for that in the coming weeks.”

 

The decision to put Freeman on injured reserve will almost certainly end his season, although there’s a chance that he could return to the team in late December, a move that the Falcons would likely only make if they’re still in contention.

 

NFC WEST

 

ARIZONA

Should OC Mike McCoy be worried about his job after just 6 games?

 

Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is under fire. His unit ranks 32nd in total offense and has scored only 82 points in six games.

 

His head coach, Steve Wilks, hardly gave him a vote of confidence Monday, saying, “I would say all of our jobs are in jeopardy, including mine, if we don’t win.”

 

But if McCoy is sweating his job status, he isn’t showing it.

 

“No offense, but I don’t watch a lot of TV,” McCoy said, via Kyle Odegard of the team website. “I don’t read papers. I don’t get on the internet. I’m too busy doing other things, putting plans together. And when my family is in town, I spend every minute I can with them, or talking to them at night when they’re in San Diego, things like that. I’ve been in this long enough [to not get wrapped up in the fervor].”

 

McCoy presumably didn’t intend a pun with his “no offense” line, but that’s what the Cardinals have delivered thus far. Some are blaming McCoy’s schemes.

 

“It’s a team game,” veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “Everybody’s got to be held accountable. None of us has done a good enough job to this point to be successful. To try to blame one person is not fair or right. Unfortunately in this profession, there always needs to be a finger pointed at somebody. Somebody has to be blamed. It’s always been that way, and it’s unfortunate.”

 

 

SEATTLE

As we said yesterday, no one knows for sure where the Seahawks are headed in terms of ownership with the passing of Paul Allen.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The passing of Microsoft co-founder and Seahawks owner Paul Allen raises real questions about the future of the team. On Tuesday, SportsBusiness Daily collected various links to stories about the ownership of the team in the wake of Allen’s death at age 65, more than 20 years after he purchased the team.

 

Allen never married and had no children. His sister, Jody Allen, could emerge as the owner of the Seahawks and/or the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. However, it’s unclear (as reported by the Seattle Times) whether she wants to own or to run either team.

 

She’s more likely to keep, and to run, the Seahawks — assuming that Paul Allen did indeed bequeath the team to her. (She’ll also need to have enough other assets to operate the team from a cash-flow standpoint.)

 

It’s possible that she chooses to simply cash out. It’s also possible that the will simply requires for the team to be sold.

 

However it shakes out, Allen did indeed save the Seahawks in Seattle, after the prior owner tried to move the team to L.A. Peter King suggested on Tuesday’s PFT Live that the stadium in Seattle should be named for Allen, given his role in keeping the team in town and ensuring the construction of a stadium that guarantees the franchise will remain there.

 

AFC WEST

 

DENVER

GM John Elway is not happy with his team’s defense, among other things.

 

With a four-game losing streak in hand, a pile of mistakes to go around, a meltdown of the team’s run defense with a smattering of bad breaks, Denver Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway said Monday it is time to see a team “fighting for our lives” Thursday night against the Arizona Cardinals.

 

The Broncos lost Sunday, 23-20 to the Los Angeles Rams, Denver’s fourth consecutive loss since a 2-0 start. The Broncos continue to create plenty of their own troubles with penalties and turnovers that have cost them games, including penalties that cost the Broncos seven points Sunday as well as a Case Keenum interception deep in Rams territory that cost the Broncos at least another three points.

 

Elway, who labeled the team “soft” last November during what eventually became an eight-game losing streak, was asked on the team’s radio partner, Orange and Blue 760, Monday afternoon about the team’s current state of affairs.

 

“At some point in time we have to play better football … we’re still making the mistakes we shouldn’t make to beat good football teams like the Rams,” Elway said. ” …[It’s] disappointing, that’s for sure.”

 

Elway then later closed out the roughly eight-minute interview with “hopefully we can … take a mentality into that Thursday night game where we’re fighting for our lives.”

 

Moments later that prompted a question to coach Vance Joseph in his usual day-after-game media gathering if he took Elway’s comment as Joseph having to fight for his job.

 

“Absolutely, absolutely,” Joseph said. “That’s every coach in this league every week. If you don’t feel that way, you’re missing something. So, if we were … 5-1, I would feel that way. That doesn’t motivate me, I’m already motivated to win games and fix our football team.”

 

Joseph also said Monday that “our margin for error is very small. We can’t make the normal football mistakes. For example, Sunday our offense would have had 10 more points without the penalties … right now, where we are, we cannot make mistakes.”

 

Elway said the Broncos are going to dig themselves out of the current situation given “there isn’t a magic switch, a magic answer” and that “even though we’ve got a lot of players playing well, we’re not playing well as a team.”

 

Keenum is tied for the league lead in interceptions, with eight, and the Broncos defense is last in the league in run defense, allowing 161.3 yards rushing per game with 593 rushing yards allowed in the past two games combined (323 rushing yards by the Jets in Week 5 to go with 270 rushing yards by the Rams on Sunday).

 

“We’ve gotten very soft in there … we’re not playing very well inside,” Elway said.

 

AFC NORTH

 

CINCINNATI

The Bengals visit to Pittsburgh in Week 17 is going to be lit.

 

The beef between Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict and the Pittsburgh Steelers isn’t going away anytime soon.

 

During Sunday’s tilt, Burfict tossed an elbow at Steelers star receiver Antonio Brown, knocking the wideout out of the game briefly and dinging up Bengals impressive rookie safety Jessie Bates.

 

On his weekly radio hit with 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger called Burfict’s actions “typical antics” and said the linebacker then threatened Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.

 

“When he hits (Antonio Brown) and knocks AB and his (own) guy out, that very next play… he’s standing there, points to JuJu and says ‘You’re next,'” Roethlisberger said, via the station’s website. “To me that’s completely uncalled for and that’s where I think I had the biggest issue.”

 

Roethlisberger is the latest Steelers player to come out against Burfict’s dirty play. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert called it “pathetic,” “sad,” and said “hopefully one of these days (Burfict) grows up.”

 

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Monday that the league isn’t expected to suspend Burfict, but the linebacker could face another fine. The seven-year pro has been suspended for 10 games in his career (six for on-field actions) and fined more than $295,000.

 

Perhaps if the NFL decides to look deeper into Roethlisberger’s claim it might change its mind on the type of punishment Burfict deserves.

 

It could be the early favorite for the Week 17 Flex.

 

Other good possibilities would seem to be Eagles at Redskins, Bears at Vikings, Panthers at Saints.

 

AFC SOUTH

 

INDIANAPOLIS

One bright spot for the Colts has been TE ERIC EBRON who never got it going while with the Lions.  Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

In Detroit, Eric Ebron was a draft bust. Chosen with the 10th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, Ebron never became the kind of tight end the Lions thought he would be, and this year they let him go rather than paying him his fifth-year option salary.

 

It didn’t help that there were a whole lot of good players still on the board when the Lions chose Ebron: Six of the next seven players selected (Taylor Lewan, Odell Beckham, Aaron Donald, Ryan Shazier, Zack Martin and C.J. Mosley) have been to multiple Pro Bowls. Ebron never played at anything resembling a Pro Bowl level in Detroit.

 

But while Ebron is never going to be a difference-maker like Beckham or Donald, he signed with the Colts this year and is changing perceptions in Indianapolis.

 

Six games into the season, Ebron has six touchdown catches, tying him for the most in the NFL. And that’s twice as many touchdowns as any other tight end this season: Three other tight ends are tied for second, with three touchdown catches apiece.

 

In four full seasons in Detroit, Ebron totaled only 11 touchdown catches, and his six this year are already a career high. He also never had more than 61 catches or 711 yards, and this year he’s on pace to top both of those totals, easily.

 

The narrative around Ebron now seems to be changing, from, “What were the Lions thinking when they drafted him?” to “Why couldn’t the Lions get out of him what the Colts can?”

 

Ebron is still only 25 years old, and tight ends sometimes take a while to develop in the NFL. He may now just be entering his prime, and he may end up proving that he did deserve to be a first-round pick. Even if he proves it playing for a team other than the one that drafted him.

 

AFC EAST

 

BUFFALO

The Bills will have to muddle along without QB JOSH ALLEN for at least a couple of weeks. Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Dr. James Andrews confirmed that Josh Allen does not need Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports. The damage to Allen’s ulnar collateral ligament is not a full tear.

 

With rest and rehab, the Bills rookie quarterback should return in about a month, per Pelissero. Allen will miss at least the next two or three games.

 

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota missed two starts with his elbow injury, which was UCL-related.

 

Bills coach Sean McDermott called Allen week to week Monday before Andrews reviewed Allen’s MRI.

 

The Bills will start either Nathan Peterman or Derek Anderson in Allen’s absence. They signed Anderson only last week, but McDermott said all options are on the table for Week Seven.

 

 

NEW YORK JETS

Nothing could make Jets ownership happier than to own the back of the tabloids over the rival G-Men.  And with a franchise QB like SAM DARNOLD, they could be on their way to taking over the Big Apple.  Jordan Raanan (Giants) and Rich Cimini (Jets) of ESPN.com look at the state of play:

 

While the clouds continue to hover over East Rutherford, the sun appears to have peeked through in Florham Park. The New York Giants sit at 1-5 and in last place in the NFC East while their aging quarterback struggles. The New York Jets are 3-3 and realistically thinking of the postseason with their promising rookie leading the way. These are two franchises seemingly headed in opposite directions, and their fates can be traced back to the offseason.

 

The decisions that will be debated for decades occurred atop this year’s NFL draft. The Giants passed on a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick and selected running back Saquon Barkley out of Penn State, in part because they had Eli Manning on the roster. Barkley is proving to be a breathtaking playmaker, no doubt, but his star has been shining in defeat. The Jets happily grabbed quarterback Sam Darnold out of USC with the very next pick. He is proving to be the franchise pillar that they’ve desperately desired for decades. They’re happy with what they’ve received from him this season and even more excited about what the future might hold.

 

Now six weeks into the season, we’re able to see a bit more clearly where these teams stand and the long-term effect these picks will have on each franchise.

 

Does the development of Darnold and decline of Manning keep hammering home the mistake the Giants made in not drafting a quarterback?

 

Hell, yeah. The Giants made a shortsighted decision, thinking they could squeeze another productive year or two out of Manning to fulfill their win-now game plan. Now, the organization and its fan base have an up-close view of what might have been, as Darnold continues to make progress in the same city. Look, the Giants wouldn’t have been a contender this season even if they had drafted Darnold. He would be backing up Manning or experiencing on-the-job growing pains, which has been the case with the Jets. But at least they’d have a succession plan. Now, in a case of role reversal, the Giants will go into the offseason in quarterback limbo, desperate to find an answer in free agency or the draft. Desperation makes teams do dumb things. Look at the Jets; they drafted Christian Hackenberg in 2016, for crying out loud — and they were desperate last offseason too, but they aggressively traded up and benefited from a little draft-day luck to escape potential disaster. The Giants will have to do the same thing in the offseason, which means they might not be a viable contender until 2020 — if everything goes right. It’s compelling to note that Darnold passed Manning this week in ESPN’s QBR rankings, which take into account all aspects of quarterback play, not just passing. They’re ranked 25th and 27th, respectively, with Darnold at 44.7 and Manning at 41.4. Using this objective measure, Darnold already is as good as Manning, which is stunning. — Cimini

 

Until the Giants find a suitable replacement to build their franchise around, yes. It’s the most important position in football by a wide margin. The opportunities were there for them to find their franchise quarterback at No. 2 overall. Instead, they chose a running back. It’s not that Barkley isn’t a sensational player. He is. It’s just that he plays a position that they’re realizing isn’t nearly as vital to winning as quarterback.

 

Just look at Thursday night, when Barkley was the best player on the field. He had 130 yards rushing and 99 yards receiving. What kind of outcome did it have on the game? The Giants lost by 21. If a quarterback is the best player on the field, you don’t lose by 21. Darnold has shown signs of being everything the Giants need and the Jets wanted. He has the arm, the mobility, the smarts and temperament that would suggest he’s on pace to have a successful career in New York. That might leave serious envy on the other side. The Giants are stumbling badly with Manning. He’s 37 years old and eroding behind a leaky offensive line despite having perhaps the best weaponry in the NFL. It has become hard to watch. The Giants have scored fewer than 20 points in four of six games, but they are standing behind their quarterback through the struggles. “We believe in Eli,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said on Friday. The Giants wanted to desperately make one more run with Manning. It didn’t matter that the timing was perfect to take a quarterback with a new coach, a new general manager and an aging quarterback, coming off a 3-13 season and with the No. 2 overall pick in a strong QB draft. They didn’t. And now they’re paying for the mistake while simultaneously watching Darnold shine across town with the Jets. — Raanan

 

Which team appears to have a stronger foundation on which to build and why?

 

I’d give a slight edge to the Jets, but this is tricky because there’s some projection involved. Let me explain. Right now, I’d say the Giants have better talent on paper than the Jets, but Darnold’s presence tilts the scale in the Jets’ favor because we all know the NFL is a quarterback-driven league. This, of course, is based on the belief he will develop into a playoff-caliber quarterback. No one can say for sure after only six games, but he certainly seems to have the traits –- tangible and intangible –- to be that kind of player. And that gives the Jets an edge in the rebuilding process. In terms of non-quarterback talent, the Giants have more blue-chip players than the Jets — Odell Beckham Jr., Landon Collins and Barkley to name three. Jamal Adams is approaching Collins’ stature, but the Jets don’t have anyone close to Beckham and Barkley. Those are terrific building blocks for the Giants. To complete the puzzle, they need the quarterback, and that could cost them significant assets if they have to trade up in the draft.

 

Another reason to favor the Jets: In cap space, they have approximately $150 million more than the Giants in 2019 and 2020, according to overthecap.com. — Cimini

 

The Jets. The Giants have the skill position players (Barkley, Beckham, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram). The Jets have the quarterback who appears will be their centerpiece for years to come. The latter is significantly more important and harder to find. Just ask the Jets. They had trouble locating the next Joe Namath; they’ve been searching for a true franchise quarterback for almost 50 years. Maybe they finally did. The Giants passed on their first opportunity to find the next Manning. Who knows how long it will take for them to find his successor. Maybe he’s in next year’s draft or already on the roster. Or maybe he has not even been born yet. Anything is possible in the search for a QB. The Giants are in a spot that nobody in the NFL envies with uncertainty at the quarterback position. Aside from that, the Giants’ roster has the better building blocks. Beckham and Barkley are among the league’s top playmakers. Collins has proved to be a Pro Bowl player on defense. The Jets can build around safety Adams, defensive lineman Leonard Williams and linebacker Darron Lee. They need to add a difference-making playmaker (or two) to support Darnold and a dominant pass-rusher. Still, overall, they’re in better shape because they appear set at the most important position in football. –Raanan

 

What should/can the Giants do with Manning in the short term? It’s kind of funny when Shurmur gives a strong vote of confidence to Manning. I mean, really, what are his options? Alex Tanney? Kyle Lauletta? It’s not like he has a Josh McCown on the bench, a capable veteran who can win games.

 

The Giants should ride Manning until they’re mathematically eliminated. Remember, this is a new coach, trying to change the culture. Winning matters, and Manning gives them the best chance to win. When they’re eliminated, give Lauletta a shot, assuming he’s more prepared than Davis Webb was a year ago. It won’t be pleasant for Manning, a franchise icon, but the Giants must think of the future, not the past. — Cimini

 

It’s becoming clear that the Manning era in New York is nearing a close. If the Giants can trade him (a big if … but maybe to the Jacksonville Jaguars?), they should. If not and they continue to sputter along offensively, they need to put Manning on the bench. They have no choice. The Giants won’t be able to justify starting Manning much longer if they remain impotent offensively over the next two weeks against the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins. At least some players in the locker room already have lost confidence in their quarterback. The Giants will need to look at rookie Lauletta after the bye week for a Monday night matchup on Nov. 12 at the San Francisco 49ers. Lauletta might be able to make some plays with his legs; that could reinvigorate the offense, to some degree, for the final eight games of the season. The Giants can then give Manning one final goodbye later in the season in their final home game. The two-time Super Bowl winner deserves a better farewell than where it appears to be heading right now. One last hurrah at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 30 against the Dallas Cowboys would be a good way to say goodbye to a Giants legend. –Raanan

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

AIKMAN RATINGS thru Week 6

 

The Ravens have taken over the top spot in the 2018 Aikman Combined Ratings through Week 6.

 

By shutting out Tennessee, Baltimore took over the top spot from the Bears in the Aikman Defense ratings as well.  The Chiefs continue atop the Aikman Offense Ratings, as the Saints take over 2nd spot from the Rams.

 

We note that the first firing of the NFL season, Mike Smith as defensive coordinator of the Buccaneers, came with the unit that ranks last in Aikman Defense.

 

 

2018 Aikman Combined Ratings Through Week 6

————–

Aikman

————–

————–

NFL

————–

Rank

Record

Team

Combined

Off

Def

Off

Def

Combined

1

4-2-0

Baltimore Ravens

170.5

88.2

82.3

9

1

10

2

3-2-0

Chicago Bears

167.2

85.6

81.6

19

10

29

3

6-0-0

Los Angeles Rams

164.8

98.1

66.7

1

11

12

4

3-3-0

Philadelphia Eagles

162.1

84.5

77.5

18

12

30

5

4-2-0

Los Angeles Chargers

161.8

92.3

69.5

7

13

20

6

3-3-0

Seattle Seahawks

159.8

87.3

72.5

28

6

34

7

4-2-0

New England Patriots

158.8

91.2

67.6

14

20

34

8

4-1-0

New Orleans Saints

157.1

98.6

58.5

3

18

21

9

3-3-0

Dallas Cowboys

156.9

81.9

75.0

29

4

33

10

5-1-0

Kansas City Chiefs

155.6

99.6

56.0

5

32

37

11

3-2-1

Minnesota Vikings

154.7

81.0

73.7

10

16

26

12

3-2-1

Pittsburgh Steelers

154.0

89.7

64.3

6

21

27

13

3-2-0

Washington Redskins

153.5

84.3

69.3

25

5

30

14

2-3-1

Cleveland Browns

153.0

79.7

73.3

20

28

48

15

3-2-1

Green Bay Packers

152.7

85.2

67.4

4

7

11

16

2-3-0

Detroit Lions

149.0

84.0

65.0

21

17

38

17

1-5-0

Indianapolis Colts

148.7

83.7

65.0

17

23

40

18

3-3-0

New York Jets

148.2

73.1

75.1

26

22

48

19

4-2-0

Miami Dolphins

147.6

72.1

75.5

27

25

52

20

4-2-0

Cincinnati Bengals

147.4

90.4

56.9

23

29

52

21

3-2-0

Carolina Panthers

145.7

83.6

62.2

22

14

36

22

3-3-0

Tennessee Titans

145.1

70.8

74.3

30

8

38

23

1-5-0

New York Giants

143.3

78.3

65.0

24

14

38

24

2-4-0

Atlanta Falcons

142.7

94.9

47.8

8

30

38

25

1-5-0

San Francisco 49ers

142.6

82.4

60.2

13

19

32

26

3-3-0

Houston Texans

141.5

75.5

66.0

11

9

20

27

2-4-0

Denver Broncos

141.5

80.9

60.6

12

27

39

28

3-3-0

Jacksonville Jaguars

141.2

70.8

70.4

16

2

18

29

1-5-0

Oakland Raiders

133.9

74.4

59.5

15

26

41

30

2-4-0

Buffalo Bills

133.0

64.2

68.8

31

3

34

31

2-3-0

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

132.3

85.8

46.5

2

31

33

32

1-5-0

Arizona Cardinals

126.7

63.4

63.3

32

24

56

NFL Average:

149.8

83.0

66.8

 

Aikman Offense Ratings Through Week 6, 2018

Aikman

NFL

Team

AER

1

5

Kansas City Chiefs

99.6

2

3

New Orleans Saints

98.6

3

1

Los Angeles Rams

98.1

4

8

Atlanta Falcons

94.9

5

7

Los Angeles Chargers

92.3

6

14

New England Patriots

91.2

7

23

Cincinnati Bengals

90.4

8

6

Pittsburgh Steelers

89.7

9

9

Baltimore Ravens

88.2

10

28

Seattle Seahawks

87.3

11

2

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

85.8

12

19

Chicago Bears

85.6

13

4

Green Bay Packers

85.2

14

18

Philadelphia Eagles

84.5

15

25

Washington Redskins

84.3

16

21

Detroit Lions

84.0

17

17

Indianapolis Colts

83.7

18

22

Carolina Panthers

83.6

19

13

San Francisco 49ers

82.4

20

29

Dallas Cowboys

81.9

21

10

Minnesota Vikings

81.0

22

12

Denver Broncos

80.9

23

20

Cleveland Browns

79.7

24

24

New York Giants

78.3

25

11

Houston Texans

75.5

26

15

Oakland Raiders

74.4

27

26

New York Jets

73.1

28

27

Miami Dolphins

72.1

29

16

Jacksonville Jaguars

70.8

30

30

Tennessee Titans

70.8

31

31

Buffalo Bills

64.2

32

32

Arizona Cardinals

63.4

NFL Average:

83.0

 

Aikman Defense Ratings Through Week 6, 2018

Aikman

NFL

Team

AER

1

1

Baltimore Ravens

82.3

2

10

Chicago Bears

81.6

3

12

Philadelphia Eagles

77.5

4

25

Miami Dolphins

75.5

5

22

New York Jets

75.1

6

4

Dallas Cowboys

75.0

7

8

Tennessee Titans

74.3

8

16

Minnesota Vikings

73.7

9

28

Cleveland Browns

73.3

10

6

Seattle Seahawks

72.5

11

2

Jacksonville Jaguars

70.4

12

13

Los Angeles Chargers

69.5

13

5

Washington Redskins

69.3

14

3

Buffalo Bills

68.8

15

20

New England Patriots

67.6

16

7

Green Bay Packers

67.4

17

11

Los Angeles Rams

66.7

18

9

Houston Texans

66.0

19

14

New York Giants

65.0

20

17

Detroit Lions

65.0

21

23

Indianapolis Colts

65.0

22

21

Pittsburgh Steelers

64.3

23

24

Arizona Cardinals

63.3

24

14

Carolina Panthers

62.2

25

27

Denver Broncos

60.6

26

19

San Francisco 49ers

60.2

27

26

Oakland Raiders

59.5

28

18

New Orleans Saints

58.5

29

29

Cincinnati Bengals

56.9

30

32

Kansas City Chiefs

56.0

31

30

Atlanta Falcons

47.8

32

31

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

46.5

NFL Average:

66.8

 

BROADCAST NEWS

Monday Night Football with a big rating for the Packers.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Monday night’s game between the 49ers and Packers delivered. In multiple ways.

 

It was fun to watch and, in turn, it was watched. According to ESPN, the game averaged 12 million viewers across ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN Deportes. That represented a 40-percent increase over the 8.5 million average viewers who watched last year’s Week Six Monday night game between the Colts and Titans.

 

So why the increase? First, Monday night’s game was unexpectedly exciting. Second, last year’s Week Six Monday night game featured the Colts (led by Jacoby Brissett) and the Titans, a 36-22 Tennessee win.

 

It’s the latest example of the upward trend in 2018 NFL ratings. And that’s good news for the NFL, and for the networks that broadcast NFL games.

 

 

2019 DRAFT

DE NICK BOSA is not putting any effort into returning to The Ohio State University’s football team (or apparently the school’s classrooms). Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa has taken the “skip-the-bowl-game” thing to the next level.

 

According to Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch, Bosa has decided to not return to the Buckeyes this season, and will instead focus on preparing for the NFL Draft.

 

Bosa suffered a core muscle injury on Sept. 15 and had surgery, and has apparently chosen to not push himself to return to his college team for any more games. He was a preseason All-American, and will likely be a top-tier pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, assuming there are no medical questions lingering.

 

He has already met with coach Urban Meyer and informed him of the decision. He’s scheduled to meet with Dr. William Meyers for a follow-up visit in November, but could have ostensibly returned to play in postseason games.

 

While some will use it as an excuse to rip Bosa for his lack of commitment to the program, he is making a greater commitment to his own future, rather than risk it for the glorification and enrichment of a system which treats him like an unpaid intern.

 

UPDATE 12:01 p.m. ET: Ohio State confirmed Bosa will not play for them again.

 

“I was hopeful that Nick would be able to return to play again for us,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said in a statement. “I know this was an extremely difficult and emotional decision for Nick and his family, and I wish him well as he moves on to get himself 100 percent healthy and ready for his next chapter. I want to thank Nick for the remarkable efforts he gave for this program. He is a first-class young man who we have been honored to coach.”