Watching film from the first two games of 2014, I thought we were finally going to see the Melvin Ingram that I had envisioned. He had learned how to be just as explosive out of his two-point stance as he had been coming out of his three-point stance. He had also added a few more power moves to his tool kit. Last but not least, he was back to being able to turn the corner at will, as well.
Then he hurt his hip in a Week 2 contest against the Seahawks.
He hurt it bad enough to get put on injured reserve with a designation to return. The newest category of IR — meant to allow players to not miss a whole season if the team thinks he can be back and healthy before the year’s over — was a godsend for Ingram. It allowed him to almost repeat the program he followed in 2013, where he missed most of the early part of the season, and then came back and finished the year trying to get better.
The Saints’ biggest issue hasn’t been with the quarterback or offense, it’s been on defense. Head coach Sean Payton made a preseason decision not to expose the starters to much playing time ahead of the regular season in an effort to reduce or even eliminate any season-ending injuries. While regular season wins are obviously more important, the fact that the projected defensive line starters haven’t all taken a snap together could be concerning.
Payton is steadfast in his plan leading up to the season, and is working on strong second- and third-team players. This holds true with the secondary, as the cornerbacks have proven to be a real issue during the first three preseason games. And with starting corner Keenan Lewis out 4-6 weeks after undergoing hip surgery, it’s especially important to solidify the depth chart.
Backup cornerbacks Damian Swann, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Kyle Wilson are all vying for the No. 4 spot on the roster. They’ve each had one or two rough snaps, but Swann has emerged a little better than his teammates. Going against Green Bay will be their last chance to earn a spot on the team.
Bell’s rushing yardage made up 77.8 percent of the Steelers’ ground game — a number only bettered by Murray and the Cowboys, who got 78.4 percent of their rushing total from Murray. In a league where running back by committee is a common strategy, the Steelers leaned heavily on Bell from start to finish.
Two other teams did this: The Cowboys rode Murray all year. The Bears did the same with Forte (72.3 percent of rushing yards) — but most of the rest of the NFL tried to spread the love around to different players.
For comparison, the Seahawks, who led the NFL with 2,762 yards rushing and whose offense features the fearsome Marshawn Lynch, spread that total around to Russell Wilson (849 yards), Robert Turbin (310 yards), Christine Michael (175 yards), Percy Harvin (92) and a few others. Lynch finished with 1,306 yards — fourth in the NFL — but accounted for just 47 percent of their ground yardage.
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Additionally, Bell found the end zone at a much greater rate (per total team touchdowns) than most backs around the league. EIght of the team’s 10 rushing touchdowns arrived on the feet of Bell, again coming in just behind Murray and the Cowboys, percentage wise.
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What the Broncos did on Jan. 11, 1987, was take over on their own 2-yard line on a frigid day in Cleveland, with 5 minutes, 32 seconds to play, trailing the Browns 20-13 in the AFC Championship Game. The teamâ€™s current vice president of security, Keith Bishop, was in the huddle, and his former teammates always say that Bishop simply said, â€œWeâ€™ve got them right where we want them,” with the 98 yards of expanse in front of the Broncos.
The first domino to fall was a 5-yard completion to running back Sammy Winder to open the possession, then a 3-yard run by Winder to put the Broncos in a third-and-2 at the Broncosâ€™ 10-yard line as Denver took its first timeout. Without a conversion, â€œThe Drive” would have been just a possession that faded into the mist of a frustrating loss.
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Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his right knee, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Charles went down with a non-contact injury against the Chicago Bears on Sunday and an MRI confirmed the Chiefs’ worst fears. For an offense lacking playmakers, losing its biggest weapon is a huge blow for Kansas City.
Charles has been the focal point of the offense ever since 2009, the year after longtime tight end Tony Gonzalez left the team. In five games this season, Charles totaled 71 carries for 364 yards and four touchdowns, with 21 catches for 177 yards and a touchdown.
This one was so strange that even long after Carroll had said in his postgame news conference that “it’s difficult to leave here without a win,” and “there were too many things that happened across the board that led to this loss,” and “we’ve had to be terrific in this mode for years to be able to do what we have done” and “I have to make sure I’m doing it right, it starts with me,” he still looked startled, shook over his team’s failures. They are looking late in games like a team he does not know. They are looking late in games like a team he does not coach.
Baffled, he said.
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He can’t wait to see the film. Important film, he said, to see what happened differently in the fourth quarter and overtime (Bengals 20-0) compared with the first three quarters (Seahawks 24-7).
I ask Carroll if we didn’t just see the game? Wasn’t it clear that the Bengals completely outplayed, outhit and were more desperate than your team late in the game? Since your teams in the last two Super Bowl seasons made a habit of imposing their will on others, don’t you recognize that when it is evident in others?
Josh Doctson Youth Jersey Nobody should be surprised that rookie NFL head coach Adam Gase has helped lead Miami to this season’s playoffs. Dolphins executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum knows capable coaches when he sees them.
Since 2001, Tannenbaum has helped hire four NFL head coaches, all of whom have led their team to the postseason in their first year. The first was Herm Edwards, whom Tannenbaum helped hire in 2001, when he was the Jets’ assistant general manager. New York promptly went to the playoffs that season and in three of the five years under Edwards.
Didi Gregorius Game Jersey In 2006, Tannenbaum next helped hire Eric Mangini, who led his team to 10 wins and a playoff spot in his first season as the Jets’ head coach. Three years later, Tannenbaum helped hire Rex Ryan, who led the Jets to the AFC Championship in each of his first two seasons as a head coach. And this year, Tannenbaum helped hire Adam Gase, who despite Miami’s 1-4 start, has the Dolphins in the AFC wild-card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Even after the Jets fired Tannenbaum, and he went into the agent business, the coaches he represented included Dirk Koetter, Dan Quinn, Anthony Lynn and Steve Kerr.
As NFL teams now scramble to hire head coaches, Tannenbaum has a track record of identifying qualified candidates that is difficult to match. On teams that were struggling enough to fire theirs, he helped zero in on coaches who were good enough to get those teams back to the postseason the very same year.
For New York Jets fans clamoring for Christian Hackenberg and wondering why the rookie quarterback never got his chance this season, the answer was evident to others within the organization. One Jets coach said Hackenberg “couldn’t hit the ocean.” Another team official said Hackenberg has regressed throughout this season; he has struggled with his play and his confidence. But if there’s an encouraging aspect, it’s this: The Jets think Hackenberg will benefit from some time away and an offseason honing his talents. They still believe he can be salvaged and will benefit from being redshirted during his rookie season. But there are concerns with what the Jets saw this season. It’s up to Hackenberg to improve.
It is a new year, and a new chance for the Royals to get back to the post-season. It has been a quiet off-season, and things could change quickly in a new year. It was after the first of the year that the Royals handed out the two biggest contracts in franchise history last winter, re-signing Alex Gordon and signing Ian Kennedy to $70 million deals.
Mens Connor McDavid Jersey It doesn¡¯t seem likely that we¡¯ll see a similar signing this year, but here are some questions we will see answered from the Royals in 2017.
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Motiejunas¡¯ signing with New Orleans ended a months-long holdout by the 26-year-old Lithuanian. The 7¡¯0 forward/center from Lithuania played his last four seasons with the Houston Rockets, but the two teams were unable to resolve a lingering contract dispute this summer. Because Motiejunas was a restricted free agent, he had little leverage in the situation.
Motiejunas was originally traded to the Pistons last February, but the team nixed the deal after his physical revealed concerns with a back injury. At the start of December, still unsigned, Motiejunas signed a deal with the Brooklyn Nets. When the Rockets chose to match, he refused to report to the team, and Houston eventually rescinded his restricted free agency status so he could sign unhindered.
This is a no-brainer for the Pelicans, who have nothing to lose by hanging out a one-year contract at the minimum to someone who has been a solid NBA player throughout his career so far. He¡¯ll be able to play with Anthony Davis or help bolster the team¡¯s offense when the superstar big man isn¡¯t on the floor.
Motiejunas only played 37 games last season because of injury, but he averaged 12 points and 5.9 rebounds in 71 games the year prior.
Ryan knows it’s no longer his business.
I’ve heard people in the Bills organization say that soon after Ryan signed his five-year, $27.5 million contract in January 2015 that he began to coast. Especially this year. That his fire wasn’t as bright, that he was content. That the money and the security softened him. That he added his twin brother, Rob, this year to his staff and let Rob and the defensive staff do the grittiest work. That he tried to jump back in this season when it was far too late.
That’s a bold sentiment and I’m not sure it’s one I buy. I think Rex Ryan has always cared deeply about wins and losses. He has never been known to shy away from hard work. But he has always been known to put his mouth and jester antics before actual achievement, to talk big before actually producing big. This wore thin in Buffalo quickly. It is always a footprint when he exits.
It was a surprising decision after McCarthy said days earlier that he needs to “shut up more” as the team supports offensive assistant Tom Clements as the play caller. But McCarthy, who gave up play-calling duties in the offseason to better focus on the bigger picture, changed his mind before the Week 14 matchup.
“Play calling is a lot about rhythm and flow,” McCarthy said. “I’m a big believer in that, and you have to have a quarterback that can manage it. It’s really the play caller’s responsibility to feed him. Keep feeding him, spit it to him as fast as you can get it to him and he does the rest. And there’s no one better at it (than Rodgers).”
Rodgers had one of this best games in recent weeks, completing 22 of 35 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Although Rodgers had less control over audibles at the line with McCarthy calling the shots on Sunday — including a season-high 44 running plays — his head coach said he handled it well.
“The balance we were able to have was key,” McCarthy said. “Aaron was impressive in the management of it.”
The snapshot of Brown stretching over the goal line with two Baltimore Ravens draped over him could inspire museum photos and “I was there that day” stories to kids 20 years from now. This was a 5-foot-10 man refusing to be outmuscled, and refusing to let Baltimore win a fifth straight game over the Pittsburgh Steelers, who will celebrate this play for years.
Authentic Mens Kyle Long Jersey The five seconds it took from Ben Roethlisberger snapping the ball at the 4-yard line to a contorted Brown securing the score deserves about 30 replays to truly appreciate.
The message was clear in the Steelers’ locker room the day after a 31-27 victory over the Ravens to secure the AFC North: Their smallest man might be their toughest.
Authentic Mens Ladarius Green Jersey Locked in as the No. 5 seed, the Giants are going to play the division winner with the worst record in the NFC on the road. That doesn¡¯t necessarily mean they will play the worst division winner or the opponent that gives them the best chance to win. Matchups are everything this time of year. Some stadiums are more hostile environments than others. Seattle falls into that category.
Here is how I rank the potential opponents, in terms of which team the Giants should most want to face in their first playoff game in five years:
Detroit Lions: They¡¯re the least impressive of the potential opponents by a wide margin. They aren¡¯t great offensively. They aren¡¯t great defensively. They don¡¯t put a ton of points on the board, nor are they especially stingy on defense. The Lions are in contention for the NFC North because quarterback Matthew Stafford pulled off a few fourth-quarter miracles along the way.
The NFC playoff field is all but set heading into Week 16, though the No. 2 seed remains up for grabs. The Arizona Cardinals can secure that spot, as well as a first-round bye, by defeating the Green Bay Packers at home on Sunday.
While the Carolina Panthers have run away with the conference, the Cardinals have arguably outplayed them over the course of the year. Quarterback Carson Palmer has delivered one of the best seasons of his career and has Arizona leading the entire league in scoring at 32.1 points per game.
Anthony DeSclafani Youth Jersey Veteran wideout Larry Fitzgerald has also enjoyed a bounce-back campaign, eclipsing 1,000 receiving yards for the first time since 2011. Fitzgerald also appears likely to set a new career-high in receptions. He has 99 entering Sunday’s game and needs just five more catches to top his career-best of 103 in 2005.
Seattle can improve their chances and potentially play spoiler in Arizona’s bid for a first-round bye with a game against the Cardinals in Week 17. But first, they need to concentrate on the team that handed them their first loss of the season: the rival St. Louis Rams.
St. Louis traded away Sam Bradford, acquired Nick Foles and gave him the starting job. He hasn’t played great football over the course of the season, but he’s shown flashes of strong play.
Jonas Valanciunas Youth Jersey In the first game between the two, Foles completed 18 of 27 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown. The Rams rushed for just 76 yards on the ground, but were able to punch in a pair of rushing touchdowns. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson completed 32 of 41 passes for 251 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and the Seahawks rushed for 124 yards as a team.
If there is any position where Cleveland could ill afford to lose a rotation player, it’s at guard. With no true backup point guard — Iman Shumpert has certainly done an admirable job in the meantime — the temptation for Lue to play Irving extended minutes, as he did by having him out there for 45 minutes on the front end of a back-to-back just days after giving Irving a week off to rest his weary legs, is palpable.
Mens Luis Gonzalez Jersey It’s been a tough week in particular for general manager David Griffin. He was already tasked with finding a backup point guard on the open market who can help the Cavs get to mid-April without burning out their stars; his shopping list has lengthened after Chris Andersen’s season-ending ACL tear makes the team thin at backup big man.
Yes, this was Boston’s first signature win of the season. After a bumpy start in part due to a road-heavy schedule early in the season, you can see the Celtics starting to look more like the team that has made second-half surges in each of the past two seasons. The Celtics rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating over the past 20 games.
Even in an East loaded with talented guards, Thomas has positioned himself again for All-Star consideration. Al Horford has been excellent but his quiet nature allows Thomas to remain the face of the franchise.
Mens Braydon Coburn Jersey And as this killa’s fourth-quarter performances show, Thomas loves that spotlight.
The players who were drafted over the past few years will get their salaries automatically boosted next year, too. That way they don’t get penalized when the rookies in 2017 get the new salaries. Other mechanisms were built in to help middle-class players get more money. The mid-level exceptions were bumped by 45 percent starting next season, too.
Had the Thunder known this, they might not have signed him to an extension last summer when Durant left. Like I said, it’s a major bummer.
Lions wide receiver Golden Tate is doing something special Sunday for a late member of the media.
Tate posted on Instagram that he will be wearing cleats honoring broadcaster Craig Sager on Sunday when the Detroit Lions face the New York Giants.
Sager died Thursday at age 65 after a long battle with leukemia. He was one of the most well-known sideline reporters in the business for his sartorial style, his dogged questioning, and his interviews with San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
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Tate earlier honored American troops and his Golden Futures Foundation on his cleats this season.
The good news is that the hip strain and knee sprain the Chargers say Gordon suffered are far less serious than what might have been. Although the Chargers will be cautious with him, Gordon is eager to return to action before the season ends. It won’t be this week though, as Kenneth Farrow — who stepped in and rushed 16 times for 55 yards with a handful of receptions to boot — will get the start at running back for the Chargers.
Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles, concussion: Sproles took a big hit in Week 14 and to no one’s surprise, suffered a concussion in the process. He did not practice all week and will miss his first game of the season.
C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Houston Texans, concussion: Fiedorowicz has been a pleasant surprise for many fantasy owners, but this week they will need a replacement. He suffered a concussion in Week 14 and has not practiced. Ryan Griffin is expected to see a workload increase in Week 15 as a result.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins, knee: The Dolphins believed Tannehill had suffered an ACL tear after his knee was forcibly hyperextended when he took a hit from Cardinals defensive tackle Calais Campbell. It turned out to be an ACL/MCL sprain that will not require surgery, according to the Dolphins.
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Although the door is open for Tannehill to return this season, it is not clear whether or not that will happen. In the meantime, Matt Moore will start on Saturday night against the New York Jets.