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    We have a new No. 1. And there shouldn’t be any debate over that. The NFC remains a conference that’s up for grabs, but good on the Philadelphia Eagles, 3-0, for their great start. After them, the NFC provides a whole lot of meh. Amongst that group, the San Francisco 49ers, now with Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm. Here’s how the conference stacks up: 1. Philadelphia Eagles » The unquestioned No. 1. Jalen Hurts is an MVP frontrunner, and the Eagles are the most complete team in the NFC. 2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers » The Bucs are close. The defense is strong, and the offense has potential, when healthy. You’ll know when that day arrives — the Bucs will rocket to the top of the Super Bowl contenders’ list 3. Los Angeles Rams » The Rams don’t pay any mind to the preseason, so they always start a bit slow. But the defense has serious juice, and the offense is rounding into form. They were anything but dominant last year, so there’s no reason to pretend as if they’ve fallen...
    Have the Seattle Seahawks won the Russell Wilson trade just three weeks into the 2022 season? One of the biggest trades of the NFL offseason involved Russell Wilson going from the Seattle Seahawks to the Denver Broncos. While it was viewed as a universal win for the Broncos, they have not had the best of starts to the season, despite their 2-1 record. Their lone loss came against the Seahawks and Geno Smith, Wilson’s former backup who won the starting job in training camp. After three weeks into the 2022 season, have the Seahawks won the Wilson trade? Well, after three games, Geno Smith has the 10th-best quarterback rating in the NFL with a 62.3 score. As for Wilson, he is ranked 21st with a 45.2 QBR. Geno Smith is 10th in QBR this season. Russell Wilson is 21st. — Seth Walder (@SethWalder) September 26, 2022 Seahawks: Geno Smith has a greater QBR than Russell Wilson It is too early to declare who is the winner of the trade just yet. But through just three games into the season, it...
    The 49ers can still be a contender in the NFC this season. Yes, their 11-10 loss to the Denver Broncos Sunday night was as brutal as the scoreline suggests. And yes, they have a 1-2 record amid the softest part of their schedule this season. But this campaign is anything but over. It’s just getting started. Any notions of raising a sixth Lombardi Trophy might seem far-fetched now, but the Niners can still make the playoffs this season because the team’s defense is exceptional, and its competition in the NFC is mediocre. Man, is that defense awesome. The Niners’ defense is the NFL’s top-ranked unit by Pro Football Focus because it does everything well while being the best in the league in pass coverage. This defense is the team’s backbone — one that’s strong enough to warrant January football. But the defense will need some help from the Niners’ offense. Kyle Shanahan has been handed the “genius” moniker by countless people around the league. His scheme and play-call sequencing are the envied coast-to-coast — as evidenced by how many former Shanahan...
    The Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s offense had been a huge problem through the first three games of the season. As it turns out, the solution they needed was to play the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have been one of the more disappointing teams three weeks into the 2022 season. They picked up just one win, against the California Golden Bears, but lost to the Ohio State Buckeyes and Marshall Thundering Herd. One area of concern that has stuck out with the Fighting had been their lackluster offense, who put up minimal yardage and points on the board. After weeks of figuring out what exactly it would take for Notre Dame to break out of their offensive slump, a solution has been found. That solution, is to play the North Carolina Tar Heels. In Week 4, Notre Dame led North Carolina 24-14 entering halftime. That’s right, they scored 24 points in two quarters. It’s a miracle.Notre Dame’s solution to fixing offense: play North CarolinaIf there was any opponent to put up yardage and points against, it...
    It has been a rough week for Justin Fields, so much so the Chicago Bears quarterback went out of his way to clarify comments that required no explanation. Fields said after Sunday’s 27-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field that the loss hurt in the locker room more than it did for Bears fans. “At the end of the day,” he said of fans, “they aren’t putting in any work.” Sure, maybe Fields could have omitted the final part, but no clarification was needed — and any grief he received since should be performance-based, not the result of a perceived slight. This is miles away from when former Bears first-round pick Cade McNown in 2000 suggested disgruntled fans at Soldier Field “save their boos for TV” following a three-interception game. Imagine if that occurred during the age of social media. Fields didn’t commit a turnover in the Week 2 loss to the Packers, but he attempted only 11 passes, threw for just 70 yards and was sacked three times. The Packers did a good job of pinning...
    Archbishop Spalding football’s players knew no one expected much of them after the Cavaliers graduated most of their starting roster, let alone that they’d surpass the glory of last year’s team. But five games and four wins into the season, no one could call what Spalding is doing a fluke. Call it magic. Even when Calvert Hall had momentum and a chance to take away Spalding’s lead Friday night, the Cavaliers didn’t buckle. Instead, they turned up the effort on both defense and offense and routed the defending Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference champions on their own turf, 42-7, in the Ravens RISE High School Football Showdown. Sophomore quarterback Malik Washington wonders what it’ll take for folks to stop doubting Spalding. “I love it,” he said. “We were supposed to lose to Gonzaga. We were supposed to have a close game with Broadneck. We were supposed to lose to Imhotep. We were supposed to lose this game. … I think everybody takes that personally. They think we can’t do enough, and then we go show them what we can...
    Getty Eagles greats Ron Jaworski and Donovan McNabb share a laugh prior to the Eagles-Buccaneers game in 2021. Donovan McNabb has been critical of Carson Wentz over the years, challenging the one-time franchise quarterback to stay healthy and get out of the second round of the playoffs in 2019. The Philadelphia Eagles all-time passing leader turned out to be pretty spot on despite the backlash he received at the time. McNabb, who was recently nominated for the Hall of Fame, jumped back into the Wentz debate during an appearance on the Zach Gelb Show. He wasn’t in the mood to rip Wentz but made it clear that Jalen Hurts was the superior talent. And more qualified to run Nick Sirianni’s offense. “We’re seeing him being able to put the pressure on his shoulders and being able to move forward with his head high,” McNabb told Gelb. “The change of the offense is better suited for Jalen Hurts.” Donovan McNabb picked Jalen Hurts over Carson Wentz as the better QB and future of the franchise in Philly:"Right now, I...
    Here’s how the Cleveland Browns took a 29-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football. Hmm… But we thought the Cleveland Browns were going to sputter and fall through their first 11 games of the season while they waited for Deshaun Watson to return? Guess we better think again. The Browns shocked with a 29-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football this week, giving them a 2-1 record and temporary sole possession of the AFC North lead. The game was historic for Kevin Stefanski, and though there was a bright spot of an incredible catch for the Steelers, it showed just how they might need to push things in the direction of Kenny Pickett, even if Mike Tomlin really doesn’t want to. Here’s what the experts around the web are saying about how the Steelers pulled this off.Things started off great for the Steelers offense…The rest of the story doesn’t shed much positive light on the Steelers, so let’s start with some positivity there. The opening half gave some reason to be optimistic for Steelers...
    Getty Jimmy Garoppolo with the San Francisco 49ers' offensive line. Through the first two weeks of the 2022 NFL season, the San Francisco 49ers‘ quarterbacks, Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, have been the beneficiaries of the best pass blocking in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. Surprising? Maybe a tad, depending on who you ask, but the numbers don’t lie. Despite having a serious red flag in the center of their offensive line by the name of Jake Brendel, who ranks out as the sixth-worst center in the NFL, every other member of the Niners’ offensive line has a pass-blocking grade of at least 71.2, with Spencer Burford ranking fourth among guards with a pass-blocking grade of 83.7 and Aaron Banks following close behind with an 82.2. While the Niners’ run defense hasn’t been quite as effective, ranking 17th with a 61.4 team grade, maintaining a clean pocket has become even more of a priority from Week 3 on, as Garoppolo isn’t going to evade sacks with his legs and keep the play alive behind the line...
    The pass was delivered with recognizable purpose and precision. Shotgun snap, quick play fake, then a short shuffle left and a decisive release. With his top receiver making a crisp break on a slant route, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw a fastball into Lambeau Field’s north end zone Sunday night. Allen Lazard, with inside leverage on Chicago Bears rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon, snatched it with relative ease. Five-yard touchdown. Celebratory fireworks exploded in the fall sky. Then a small end-zone soiree broke out. Surrounded by teammates, Lazard used the football as a kettle and began pouring a few cups of a mystery drink. Offensive linemen Yosh Nijman and Jon Runyan Jr. took fake swigs from their imaginary cups, became woozy, then pretended to pass out in the end zone. Same for receivers Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins. “Just drinking some tea,” Cobb told reporters after the game. It was a tongue-in-cheek nod to Rodgers’ summer revelation that he experienced an awakening during an ayahuasca tea high in 2020 in Peru, with the psychoactive drink taking him on a...
    The Chicago Bears are facing the usual challenge at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers, who have won six straight and 11 of the last 12 meetings. Here’s what you need to know about the Week 2 game. Halftime: Rodgers leads Packers back from early deficit Aaron Rodgers threw for 162 yards and two touchdowns, and Aaron Jones rushed for 54 yards and a score and also had a touchdown catch to push the Green Bay Packers to a 24-7 halftime lead against the Chicago Bears on Sunday night at Lambeau Field. Quarterback Justin Fields led a touchdown drive on the Bears’ first series, but the offense went three-and-out on their next three drives. Fields completed 5 of 6 passes for 45 yards in the half. Rodgers threw his 450th career touchdown pass in the second quarter on a short pass to Jones, who turned it into an 8-yard touchdown to put the Packers up 17-7. The Bears had the Packers pushed back to second-and-28 at the 42-yard line after a holding penalty and Trevis Gipson’s second sack. But...
    When the Chicago Bears left the field at halftime of Sunday’s season opener against the San Francisco 49ers down 7-0, the offensive coaches and players didn’t have a lot of positive stats to discuss on the rainy day. The Bears didn’t reach 49ers territory until there were 2 minutes, 17 seconds left in the second quarter and even on that drive failed to get points because of an odd towel penalty on a field-goal attempt. Bears quarterback Justin Fields had completed 3 of 9 passes for 19 yards with an interception and a 2.8 passer rating. The Bears had 68 net offensive yards, and no wide receiver or tight end had a catch. Yet as the Bears regrouped in the locker room for what would become a 19-point second half in a comeback win, Fields saw body language from offensive coordinator Luke Getsy that “brought everybody (to) their feet.” Getsy was smiling. “It’s confident,” Fields said Wednesday. “That’s one thing that I take from him, he’s a very confident guy. He gives the rest of the guys confidence. I didn’t...
    Aaron Rodgers’ gave a blunt answer when answering a question about wide receiver Amari Rodgers’ role in the offense. This past Sunday, the Green Bay Packers lost 23-7 to the Minnesota Vikings, due in part to the offense being unable to get anything going. Specifically, the receiving game, where they were single-handedly out-gained as a unit by Vikings star wide receiver Justin Jefferson. In the game, one receiver who did not log a single snap on offense was Amari Rodgers, the team’s 2021 third-round pick out of Clemson. When asked by Kyle Malzahn of WFRV Local 5 about the wide receiver’s fit in the offense, quarterback Aaron Rodgers said that he’s “returning for us now.” You can listen to Rodgers’ comments in The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman’s tweet below: Here’s the video of his response from https://t.co/jY7zCj3xgq (question from @KyleMalzhan) if you want to see exactly how he answered: https://t.co/xLB6DLTjY9 pic.twitter.com/ARWrzjiAe9 — Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) September 14, 2022 Aaron Rodgers on Amari Rodgers: ‘He’s returning for us now’ Well, there you have it. As mentioned earlier, Rodgers did not log a...
    Notre Dame fans are taking to the message boards to throw out their ideas on how to fix the team’s ineffective offense. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s 2022 season has not gotten off to the start that any had expected, let alone how they envisioned, as they are 0-2. One of the biggest things that sticks out is the team’s inability to put up adequate points on the board. They scored just 10 points against Ohio State in Week 1, and 21 points this past week in their upset loss to Marshall. Notre Dame fans, much like any other college fanbase, is looking for solutions on how to fix the offense. Some took to the message boards to endorse their choice to replace the team’s current offensive coordinator Tommy Rees. One user suggested former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. Another said it should be Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Ok. Forget about Jon Gruden. #NotreDame will hire Kliff Kingsbury as their offensive coordinator! #GoIrish https://t.co/DYsfXwfPcC pic.twitter.com/inN8VxEV8v — Message Board Geniuses (@BoardGeniuses) September 13, 2022 Notre Dame fans...
    Lonzo Ball missed much of last season after knee surgery and he won’t be ready for training camp. How much does his absence limit the Bulls? In less than a month, the Chicago Bulls will open their training camp for the start of the 2022-23 season. Unfortunately, they’ll have to do so without their starting point guard, Lonzo Ball. After missing over 50 games last season, Ball is doubtful to be ready for the start of the season, and is expected to miss all of training camp due to continued issues with his knee from the meniscus surgery he had last season, according to ESPN’s Jamal Collier and Ramona Shelburne. The Bulls enter this season with championship aspirations and hopes of rekindling last season’s early success. Losing Ball to start the season is a drastic setback for an offense that was reliant upon his playmaking to balance the floor. With two of the game’s best wing scorers in DeMar DeRozan and Zach Lavine, Ball’s facilitating became an integral part of an offense that reinvigorated the Bulls last season. In only...
    Even as the Ravens’ offense emerged as an outlier over the past three seasons, running more often and more efficiently than any NFL team in that span, it never strayed too far from the pack before the snap. Under coordinator Greg Roman, the Ravens’ most common personnel grouping had always been the NFL’s most common personnel grouping: “11,” featuring one running back, one tight end and three wide receivers. In 2019 and 2020, quarterback Lamar Jackson’s first two seasons as a full-time starter, the Ravens lined up with three wideouts and one tight end on nearly half of their plays, according to Sharp Football Stats. Last year, they did so less often, and far below the league average, but it was still Roman’s go-to setup. In Sunday’s season-opening win against the New York Jets, however, Roman and the Ravens signaled a potential philosophical change: They lived mostly in a two-wide-receiver world. According to TruMedia, their usage rate of 11 personnel (6.3%) was by far the lowest of any Week 1 offense entering Monday night. The Atlanta Falcons were next closest,...
    Getty D'Andre Swift rushes against the Eagles in 2022. The Detroit Lions were defeated by the Philadelphia Eagles once again in the first game of the 2022 season, but this year, the team’s offense showed a bit more ability. Detroit was able to move the ball to the tune of 396 yards, and much of that came as a result of the play of running back D’Andre Swift. Swift, who’s been chasing a healthy, complete season for a while, showed up in a big way for the team, offering a tantalizing look into what he can be this season. From the first play of the year throughout in Week 1, Swift was dynamic touching the ball. As a whole, the offense was fairly good as well. So how good can the Lions be in the runner’s opinion? As he explained to the media after the game, the ceiling is high. How good can this #Lions offense be? pic.twitter.com/0DFupzQjyO — Detroit Lions (@Lions) September 11, 2022 “As good as we want to be. It’s the little stuff. Can’t spot...
    After struggling to put up points on Texas, Nick Saban threw the rest of Alabama’s offense under the bus while praising Bryce Young. Texas shocked the college football world by almost shocking Nick Saban’s Alabama in Austin on Saturday. Somehow, the Longhorns managed to limit the Crimson Tide to just 20 points, who won the game on a field goal in the final seconds. Alabama couldn’t pull away because of a slew of penalties and head-scratching moments, like drops and the inability to get half a yard on fourth down. After the game, Saban credited the resiliency of his team while highlighting the performance of Bryce Young. He also made it clear the rest of Alabama’s offense was not good enough.Nick Saban on Alabama’s offense vs. Texas“Players around [Young] have got to play well too,” Saban said. “Quarterback is a hard position to play when players around you don’t play well.” It sure sounds like throwing the players around the quarterback under the bus. The performance wasn’t good enough for Saban not to be critical of many aspects of the team’s...
    Getty One teammate called Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts the "best in the league" at extending plays. The Philadelphia Eagles upgraded their offense in significant ways during the offseason, and now just days away from finally playing a game that matters, there’s a palpable excitement around a unit that feels like it can be special. Last year the Eagles ranked 12th in points per game (26.1) and 14th in total yards per game, with just under 360 yards of offense, according to the NFL’s Game Stats and Information System. They were 25th in passing yards per game, with 200 yards through the air. They’ll expect all those numbers to improve as quarterback Jalen Hurts enters his second season as starter, and enjoys the benefit of having added wide receiver A.J. Brown. “I think it’s going to be tough for defenses,” tight end Dallas Goedert told the media on September 7, speaking of the addition of Brown alongside DeVonta Smith. “Smitty and AJ are two tremendous football players, both in their own ways, they both bring a lot of different...
    If the most polarizing question in Baltimore sports is about quarterback Lamar Jackson’s value to the Ravens, the most consequential one could be about the 2022 offense he’ll lead. As the Ravens prepare to face the New York Jets in Sunday’s season opener, the narratives are as inextricable as they are divisive. From week to week, Jackson’s apparent worthiness of a record-breaking deal will rise and fall within the structure of coordinator Greg Roman’s attack. There’s no consensus on how much money Jackson deserves in his next contract extension, just as there’s no consensus on how much the Ravens’ scheme will help or hurt his bid for more. Not even former NFL quarterbacks can agree. Last month, ESPN analyst Steve Young said Jackson “keeps getting held back by the Ravens year after year because they keep doubling down on this [rushing] thing.” Two weeks later, NBC analyst Chris Simms said Roman is a “phenomenal” coordinator and called criticism of Jackson and the Ravens “over the top.” The debates will evolve in step with the Ravens’ offense, which could be arriving...
    As the Chicago Bears prepare to open the season Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field, readers want to know why the Bears don’t get respect in NFL circles and which rookies are poised to make immediate breakouts. Brad Biggs answers those questions and more in his weekly Bears questions weekly mailbag. The Bears are ranked 32nd by NFL Network. Are we missing something in preseason that other people are seeing? — @bwohlgemuth More than a couple people were caught off guard by the league’s media arm ranking the Bears last in a preseason power ranking with @jon4835 asking why the Bears “get lousy national preseason reviews?” There are a handful of factors that contribute to the Bears being at or near the bottom in a handful of power rankings (Pro Football Talk had the Bears No. 30). The Bears cleaned house after being bad last season and the prevailing thought of many outsiders is that new general manager Ryan Poles is pretty much completely tearing down before building back up. The highest-paid player on the roster, Khalil...
    If everything had gone exactly as designed, Justin Fields would have taken the shotgun snap on third-and-8, eased through his five-step drop, then waited without anxiety for Equanimeous St. Brown to pop open on a dig route. Fifteen yards downfield, breaking across the middle, right to left. See it. Sling it. Complete it. Boom! That’s the way it’s drawn up. And that’s the way a quarterback is supposed to envision the sequence when he previews it mentally. This, however, is the NFL. And every coach’s desire for a playbook concept to unfold with perfect precision is often Pollyannaish. It’s convenient to believe 11 men will function in unison without error, allowing whiteboard strategy to come alive like a choreographed Cirque du Soleil act. But the most successful teams typically need starting quarterbacks with an expertise in making chicken salad. Thus on Aug. 27 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Fields had to improvise on the third-down play his offensive coordinator, Luke Getsy, sent in. As Fields hit the top of his drop, he spotted a flash of white in the pocket,...
    The South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Chris Perkins, Dave Hyde and David Furones take a look at the Miami Dolphins offense and discuss how quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will fare this season. ()
    There are a lot of little, nagging questions ahead of the 49ers’ season opener on Sunday in Chicago. How will the 49ers do without starting strong safety Jimmie Ward? Who will be starting at running back? Who will be the starting left guard on the offensive line? But there’s one question that trumps them all. The 49ers might have brought Jimmy Garoppolo back for another season, but the Niners will not be running the Garoppolo offense in 2022. No, with first-year starter Trey Lance at the helm of the attack, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense will to have to change to fit the new QB1. So the big question is quite simple: How different will the Niners look when they have the ball this season? Shanahan doesn’t want you to know this, but this team will run the ball a lot this season. Ok, that’s no secret. Shanahan’s teams are always run-first. But the way that they’ll be running the ball is something the team wants to keep under wraps ahead of Week 1. Related Articles San Francisco 49ers...
    Daniel Jones showed the Giants’ coaches impressive resilience and persistence this summer while installing Brian Daboll’s complicated new offense. “We talk about it all the time in our meeting room: ‘poise in the noise,’” quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney said recently. “And Daniel’s done a great job of that. Couldn’t be happier with where he’s progressing. He comes back after a bad play, talks about it, goes back in, doesn’t make the same mistake. That’s what we’re looking for.” Poise in the noise. That might as well be Jones’ mantra for how to face this season’s pressure and expectations, as well. The Giants’ stated goal for 2022 under new GM Joe Schoen is to give Jones a fair shot to prove he is a franchise quarterback in his fourth NFL season. But it’s no secret that Schoen declined to pick up Jones’ fifth-year option for 2023, which spoke volumes on where the organization stands. Next year’s draft class is full of QB talent after a down year in 2022, too. Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Alabama’s Bryce Young, Kentucky’s Will Levis, Florida’s...
    Getty Denver Broncos RB Javonte Williams against the Los Angeles Chargers On NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football,” Peter Schrager listed his top-10 breakout players for the upcoming season. Every August Schrager puts out his list and this year, he had some high praise for Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams. Schrager named Williams as his number one breakout player for the 2022 NFL season. “You want to talk about a guy who gave us just a taste last season, there is so much more meat on the bone.” Schrager added, “When I tell you, the offense that Nathaniel Hackett is going to bring with Russell Wilson at quarterback and this guy [Williams] as the lead dog, I am talking about a sensation.” Williams had an exciting rookie season that became a fan favorite for Broncos Country. As a rookie, Williams scored seven total touchdowns that ranked third among rookie running backs. Last season Williams was one of the toughest running backs to take down will the ball in his hand. According to Pro Football Focus, the former North...
    BERKELEY — Cal fifth-year center Matthew Cindric figures it’s high time the Bears’ offense starts pulling its share of the load. As Cal prepares to open its season Saturday against UC Davis at Memorial Stadium, the Bears will unveil an offense with a lot of new parts, including quarterback Jack Plummer, a senior transfer from Purdue. Cindric — and Cal fans — know what this team has been the past four seasons. Coach Justin Wilcox’s squads ranked among the top five in the Pac-12 in fewest points allowed each of those seasons. And for three of those four years, they’ve also fielded one of the two lowest-scoring offenses in the conference. Cindric insists that’s about to change. “We’re ready to take the lead,” he said. “We talk about goals for the year — we want to score four or more touchdowns every game.” How ambitious is that? In 42 games over the past four seasons, Cal has scored four TDs or more just 10 times. “There’ll be a lot of new faces but we are very optimistic and excited about...
    Cincinnati Last year’s record: 13-1, 8-0 AAC With QB Desmond Ridder off to the NFL, sophomore Evan Prater will compete for the starting job. Ohio’s “Mr. Football” in 2019, Prater will battle transfer Ben Bryant, who’s back after a season at Eastern Michigan. Notable departures also include AAC DPOY CB Ahmad Gardner and RB Jerome Ford, DL Curtis Brooks, DE Myjai Sanders, LB Darrian Beavers, LB Joel Dublanko, CB Coby Bryant and S Bryan Cook. New offensive coordinator Gino Guidugli replaces Mike Denbrock, who left for LSU. East Carolina Last year’s record: 7-5, 5-3 AAC Key departures on offense include two of the team’s top WRs in Tyler Snead and Audie Omotosho, both of whom turned pro. To replace Snead and Omotosho, the Pirates added Toledo grad transfer Isaiah Winstead and Georgia transfer Jaylen Johnson. A loss on defense is CB Ja’Quan McMillian, who started 29 of 33 games played in three years. He was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which honors the nation’s top defensive back. Houston Last year’s record: 12-2, 8-0...
    The Miami Dolphins are reaping the rewards of adding Tyreek Hill to their roster, as he’s taking his teammates, including Tua Tagovailoa, to a new level. There’s just something players seem to get from winning at the highest level that simply can’t be replicated in their football DNA any other way. When the Miami Dolphins traded for Tyreek Hill this offseason, they expected his experience in a winning locker room would rub off on the team around him. In that regard, so far, so good. It’s not often you can put Tua Tagovailoa and Patrick Mahomes’ names in the same sentence. After all, one has been to multiple Super Bowls, won an MVP, and the other has yet to appear in a Pro Bowl. Plenty of questions remain around Tua Tagovailoa after his first two years in the league, and year three is sure to confirm or deny the skeptics’ position on the young QB. Hill is already raising the bar on what the expectations are in Miami, and his intensity from preseason game days to training camp practices seems...
    Two days after the Chicago Bears first-team offense put together three first-half touchdown drives against the Cleveland Browns, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy cautioned against knee-jerk reactions — good or bad — to preseason play. It’s not that Getsy wasn’t pleased with the play of quarterback Justin Fields, who completed 14 of 16 passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns with no sacks or interceptions in the 21-20 Bears victory. And it’s unlikely he wanted to tamp down the current of joy running through the Bears fan base at seeing a competent offensive performance — preseason or not. Getsy simply viewed the outing as less of a “turning point,” as Fields suggested Saturday, and more of a steppingstone to the real thing — when the Bears will face defenses playing their best pass rushers and defensive backs and throwing all they have on the field. The Browns played without defensive ends Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney and cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome II on Saturday. “We’re in this phase of getting better and developing who we want to become,” Getsy...
    COLUMBUS, OHIO – NOVEMBER 20: Jaxon Smith-Njigba #11 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates a first half touchdown with Thayer Munford #75 while playing the Michigan State Spartans at Ohio Stadium on November 20, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Preseason Heisman power rankings for the 2022 season as we look at the best players in college football with the chance to take home the award.  At the end of July, we saw the college football awards watchlists start to roll out one by one, but the truth of the matter is that many fans largely care about one award, the most prestigious individual honor in the sport: the Heisman Trophy. The 2022 campaign will be another season in which we try to see if we can get our first back-to-back winner since the mid-1970s and Archie Griffin as Bryce Young returns to Alabama for another season and with the situation in front of him to take advantage of. With that said, the race for the Heisman looks as if it will be more crowded than ever...
    The Jets and the Giants took two different approaches to Sunday’s preseason finale. Gang Green used Sunday’s game as a dress rehearsal after many starters didn’t play in the first two preseason games. The Giants rested a lot of their veterans, including quarterback Daniel Jones. After winning the Snoopy Bowl last season, the Jets extended their winning streak against the Giants as they came away with the 31-27 victory at MetLife Stadium Sunday afternoon. The Jets were looking for some momentum with the start of the regular season two weeks away. It was a mixed bag offensively for Joe Flacco and the Jets’ first-team offense. Flacco completed 7 of 12 passes for 76 yards and an interception. After not playing in the first two preseason games, Flacco and the Jets offense were able to move the ball but couldn’t find the end zone. Mike White came in for Flacco in the second quarter and completed 13 of 17 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Things weren’t much better for Tyrod Taylor, who started for Jones. He completed 2 of...
    There was a noticeable glint in Justin Fields’ eyes late Saturday night, a sincere belief that the Chicago Bears’ 21-20 preseason defeat of the Cleveland Browns carried significance. After all, Fields and the first-unit offense found a groove in the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Then they stayed there. In a span of four possessions, Fields led scoring drives of 80, 52 and 62 yards, finishing each series with a touchdown pass to a different receiver. This was undeniable production to validate the past month of the training camp grind. “I just think we’re continually getting better,” Fields said postgame. “Each and every day, we’re building off the previous day.” The quarterback’s upbeat enthusiasm spoke volumes. This was progress. This was momentum for a still-jelling offense to carry into the regular season. This was something. “Definitely a turning point,” Fields added a couple minutes later. “We’ll just build on this.” Given a chance to use the preseason finale to gain experience and build confidence, Fields took full advantage of Saturday’s opportunity. He ran 29 plays in the first half and...
    Becky Hammon finally got her shot as a head coach and she did not disappoint, winning WNBA Coach of the Year in her first season with the Aces. Becky Hammon’s first season at the helm of the Las Vegas Aces has gone swimmingly. They finished with a 26-10 record, the second-highest win percentage in franchise history, boasted the league’s best offense by a wide margin and secured the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. They’ve already advanced past the Washington Mystics and are now set to match up the Seattle Storm for a chance to move to the WNBA Finals. As the league’s postseason awards have begun to roll in, it was no surprise to see Hammon honored as the best coach in the WNBA this season. After guiding the @LVAces to a 26-10 record and the No. 1 seed in her first season at the helm, @BeckyHammon is your 2022 #WNBA Coach of the Year ???? Hammon is the 1st former player to win COTY honors in her debut season and the 3rd former player to earn this award...
    Quarterback Justin Fields will get one more opportunity under the lights in the preseason to add polish to the Chicago Bears offense. Coach Matt Eberflus announced Tuesday that Bears starters will play the first half Saturday against the Browns in Cleveland. That means Fields and the healthy members of the first-unit offense should see their most extensive game action of the month at FirstEnergy Stadium. So how valuable will those reps be for Fields and the offense? What are the risks involved of allowing starters and key regulars to play more than two dozen snaps in an exhibition game? And just what should be made of Fields’ performance and productivity over the last four weeks of training camp? Tribune Bears writers Dan Wiederer and Colleen Kane break things down in this edition of “Real Talk.” Dan Wiederer: I may be in the minority here, but I am 100% behind Flus’ decision to play his starters for a full half Saturday. For one thing, the quirks of this year’s preseason schedule left the Bears with that unfortunate short week between their...
    Quarterback Justin Fields will get one more opportunity under the lights in the preseason to add polish to the Chicago Bears offense. Coach Matt Ebeflus announced Tuesday that Bears starters will play the first half Saturday against the Browns in Cleveland. That means Fields and the healthy members of the first-unit offense should see their most extensive game action of the month at FirstEnergy Stadium. So how valuable will those reps be for Fields and the offense? What are the risks involved of allowing starters and key regulars to play more than two dozen snaps in an exhibition game? And just what should be made of Fields’ performance and productivity over the last four weeks of training camp? Tribune Bears writers Dan Wiederer and Colleen Kane break things down in this edition of “Real Talk.” Dan Wiederer: I may be in the minority here, but I am 100% behind Flus’ decision to play his starters for a full half Saturday. For one thing, the quirks of this year’s preseason schedule left the Bears with that unfortunate short week between their...
    Chicago Bears fans will want to yell at Mike Martz the way Jay Cutler used to when they hear Martz’s assessment of the team’s current offense. There’s a dose of hope locally for what the Bears can become with the team in the early stages of rebuilding under new general manager Ryan Poles and first-year coach Matt Eberflus. That optimism isn’t shared on a national level. Now Martz — a guy with a proven record as a head coach and offensive mind — is saying the Bears don’t just look bad on offense, they’re as deficient on that side of the ball as the 2008 Detroit Lions, the first NFL team to go 0-16. In an article for The 33rd Team — an online publication with a collection of former league executives on its roster, including Hall of Famers Bill Polian and Bill Parcells — Martz didn’t hold back in his review of the Bears with the season less than three weeks away. Of course, Martz is familiar with the challenges offensive coordinators have faced at Halas Hall. He held...
    New supports suggest the Miami Dolphins are interested in trading tight end Mike Gesicki, but there may not be buyers with his franchise tag stipulations.  The departure of defensive mind Brian Flores made way for Mike McDaniel, but it appears the arrival of one Mike could mean another Mike will be displaced. PFF’s Doug Kyed shared details on how and why the Miami Dolphins are seeking a trade for tight end Mike Gesicki. NFL reporter Dov Kleiman pointed to two troubling signs in Gesicki’s game: the fact that he’s playing in the preseason and the fact that he’s not adept at blocking. Generally speaking, players seeing extended time in pre-season is a bad sign, especially if youre an established veteran. Gesicki isnt a good blocker but has the hands to be a weapon in the right offense/role. pic.twitter.com/8wjxYHIZeJ — Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 24, 2022 Usually, NFL veterans don’t see much time in the preseason for fear of injury, but the early games are an opportunity to those who are struggling for a place on the roster. Apparently, Gesicki...
    Getty Has Brock Purdy done enough to cement a roster spot on the 49ers? We’re nearing a pivotal finish line in the NFL, including for the San Francisco 49ers. Who will become the final 53 options for every team this fall once rosters everywhere are complete, including the one on Marie P. Debartolo Way in Santa Clara. ALL the latest 49ers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on 49ers newsletter here! Join Heavy on 49ers! Two preseason games in, and the 49ers will be left with the daunting task of figuring out who will comprise the 53-man lineup. We’ve gotten an idea of who the roster locks are. We’ve seen surprises. However, we also have identified who needs this upcoming preseason game versus the Houston Texans on Thursday, August 25, to convince the 49ers brass that they are worth keeping. Let’s start with who on offense needs this game to convince they deserve a spot on the final 53:Trey Sermon, Running Back Hard to imagine that Sermon, the highest running back taken by...
    Q: Ira, I grew up and went to college in Kentucky. I have always been big on Bam Adebayo. I do, however, feel as though he has continued to fall behind where he should be on his shooting. There is certainly nothing wrong with his form. Isn’t it just a matter of repetition and priority in the offseason? – Brent. A: It is, which is why even something as mundane as the Miami Pro League offered encouragement Wednesday night, when Bam Adebayo seized the opportunity to display his possibilities from the perimeter. Such work should not be discounted (but also should be put into proper perspective). But if more is sought from Bam on the offensive end, then it could impact the overall rotation. For example, if Tyler Herro is shifted into the starting lineup (which is Tyler’s stated desire), then how many shots actually would be there for Bam after accounting for the offense of Tyler, Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry. Plus, for Bam to operate as a scorer, it might be even more imperative to have a floor...
    Two thousand miles was a long way to travel for one series of football that lasted 10 plays and less than six minutes. But Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields at least had a few positives to review during the trip back from Seattle on Thursday night. Bears coach Matt Eberflus limited many of his offensive starters to just the first drive of the Bears’ 27-11 preseason victory over the Seahawks at Lumen Field. He didn’t want to put too much on them given they played their preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs just six days earlier. But that caution meant a limited sample size for Fields, whose every step is being scrutinized for signs of progress in his second season. So here’s what Fields can take away from his drive — a better start, points on the board, a connection with tight end Cole Kmet and more work under new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. Fields completed 5 of 7 passes for 39 yards, helping set up a 35-yard Cairo Santos field goal, the first preseason points by the first-team...
    Greg Roman’s playbook, always a subject of intense scrutiny in Baltimore, is always changing, always growing, a living document in a sport of constant upheaval. The Ravens offensive coordinator said early in training camp that there’s “20% new stuff” in his inventory of calls. Then there’s the collection of run-pass-option concepts that coach John Harbaugh later said just hasn’t been completely “tapped into.” Who knows what else is hiding in there? Ravens players describe the breadth of Roman’s playbook the way they would a Cheesecake Factory menu. “You would think it’s just run, run, run, until you get here and see how thick and big the playbook is,” running back Mike Davis, in his first year in Baltimore, said last week. “I was just surprised at how big the playbook is.” More interesting than what’s in the playbook, though, is what’s actually called. Roman wants to make use of what he has in Baltimore. And even with most Ravens starters sitting out Thursday’s preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans, the 23-10 win could prove to preview the next iteration of...
    Getty Ravens WR Shemar Bridges celebrates after scoring a touchdown in his NFL debut. The Baltimore Ravens have been searching for a wide receiver that is capable of consistently winning and making plays on the outside for nearly a decade ever since they traded away Anquan Boldin in the offseason following their 2012 Superbowl-winning season. Their quest to find a big-bodied playmaker to line up at the ‘X’ receiver spot has included recycling through seasoned veterans, draft picks as early as the first round and as late as the sixth, and undrafted free agents to no avail although Marlon Brown showed some promise as an undrafted rookie in 2013. While it’s still too early to tell and unfair to compare him to a future Hall of Famer like Boldin, the Ravens might have just stumbled upon their diamond in the rough in undrafted rookie Shemar Bridges. The former Fort Valley State College standout joined fourth-round rookie tight end Isaiah Likely as the two brightest stars in the team’s 23-10 victory over the Tennessee Titans in Week 1 of...
    On the Chicago Bears’ second offensive series of the preseason, on a third-down play from their 38-yard line, quarterback Justin Fields broke the huddle and set himself in the shotgun with positive vibes. Fields scanned the Kansas City Chiefs defense, recognized the man coverage he would be facing and identified a matchup he loved with his favorite receiver Darnell Mooney in the slot to the left against cornerback L’Jarius Sneed. “I pretty much knew what was going to happen,” Fields said. Roll the tape. With a look he loved and enough protection in front of him, Fields hit the top of his five-step drop and launched — on time and in rhythm. Mooney, with a crisp outside release on a fade route, got a bit of a pick from fellow receiver Equanimeous St. Brown and created separation. Fields’ ball was on Mooney’s back shoulder, requiring a slight adjustment but keeping safety Juan Thornhill at bay. Mooney twisted, jumped and hauled in the football for a gain of 26 yards. “I think Darnell knew where I was going to put that...
    BOSTON — It’s been a long time since the Yankees woke up chasing another team, but that is what happened Friday morning. Having lost seven of their last eight games, while the Bombers were off on Thursday,  the Astros passed them for the best record in the American League. So, the Yankees, who begin a three-game series here with the Red Sox Friday, do not have the best record in baseball for the first time since April 27. A team that was once on pace to challenge the MLB single-season wins record (116) is now limping into the final turn with 50 games left in the regular season. “They are a very good team,” one rival executive said. “They were never invincible. They are still a very good team. Everyone goes through rough stretches. This has been a little longer than expected and it’s exposed their weaknesses.” While all teams do have rough spots in their season, the Yankees have had some red flags in their slide. The Yankees after dominating the competition have recently shown their pitching is stretched...
    Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett finally provided fans with a highlight on Wednesday afternoon with an impressive two-minute drill. The pressure on Pickett, at this juncture, is not fair. But it comes with the territory. Pickett went to college in Pittsburgh, and though his high school is in Monmouth County, New Jersey, he’s looked at as a local product since Steelers fans are so familiar with him. When he was drafted in the first round, the reaction was a positive one, with draft parties across the Steel City erupting in approval. This, finally, was the chance to right the wrong of not selecting then-Pitt product Dan Marino — or at least that’s what Steelers fans though. The actual process of creating a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback is far tougher than just talk, however. Steelers: Kenny Pickett’s struggles are well documentedPickett’s training camp experience has been a whirlwind. Like most rookie quarterbacks, he’s struggled to adjust to a new offense at the professional level. Unlike most rookie quarterbacks, he hasn’t received the same sort of backing or praise one might expect...
    The Chicago Bears are two weeks into training camp for what surely will be a trying first season under general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus. As the Bears inch toward their preseason opener Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs, our team of writers weighs in on four timely topics. Note: This story published before linebacker Roquan Smith requested a trade Tuesday morning. 1. Roquan Smith’s hold-in is ___. Brad Biggs: An early challenge for Poles. There’s no doubt other players and agents will be watching closely to see how this plays out, but I don’t sense the Bears are at a point where the situation would adversely affect a season that will have plenty of issues created by outside forces. When I step back and look at this situation, it’s easy to understand both sides. Smith has put in four very good seasons and is seeking the kind of reward that brings long-term security. He surely would like to be one of the highest-paid interior linebackers in the NFL. On Poles’ side, it’s fair to assume the GM...
    The Chicago Bears are two weeks into training camp for what surely will be a trying first season under general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus. As the Bears inch toward their preseason opener Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs, our team of writers weighs in on four timely topics. 1. Roquan Smith’s hold-in is ___. Brad Biggs: An early challenge for Poles. There’s no doubt other players and agents will be watching closely to see how this plays out, but I don’t sense the Bears are at a point where the situation would adversely affect a season that will have plenty of issues created by outside forces. When I step back and look at this situation, it’s easy to understand both sides. Smith has put in four very good seasons and is seeking the kind of reward that brings long-term security. He surely would like to be one of the highest-paid interior linebackers in the NFL. On Poles’ side, it’s fair to assume the GM would like to see Smith perform in a new scheme before making the...
    You don’t have to listen to Matt Eberflus for long to sense that he sold Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles and Chairman George McCaskey on the idea of building a tough, rugged football team. Eberflus mentioned the wide receivers after practice Wednesday, and the first three things he cited were their energy, size and physical blocking on the perimeter. He talked about the need for his cornerbacks to be skilled tacklers, quipping, “There are no house guests here.” So it stands to reason that a coach who says, “We can’t live soft and play hard,” would want a fullback on his roster. The Bears haven’t carried one full time since the 2018 season. Competing for a roster spot is Khari Blasingame, who spent the previous three seasons clearing paths for Derrick Henry with the Tennessee Titans. Blasingame is the only fullback on the 90-man training camp roster, but that doesn’t mean he won’t need to prove his value to earn a spot. Basically he’s battling against a potential extra tight end. He has shown some versatility, making a twisting...