Monthly Archives: October 2017

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CLEVELAND — Our latest stock watch looks at the risers and fallers from the New York Jets’ 17-14 win over the Cleveland Browns:


S Marcus Maye — He picked a nice time for his first career interception. Maye made a great read on a third down from the Jets’ 4, picking up tight end Seth DeValve in motion and undercutting his route. It was a savvy play by the rookie, who knew exactly where rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer was going with the ball. It was an awful day for Kizer, who committed two turnovers inside the 5 and was benched. The Browns became only the third team in the last 10 seasons to have multiple turnovers on such plays. Overall, the Jets stopped them three times in the red zone without allowing a score; the last time they had that many stops was 2008.

LB Demario Davis — Even though he downplayed his return to Cleveland, where he played last season, Davis had to be extra motivated for this game. He certainly played like it, recording six tackles, two sacks and four quarterback hits. He made one of the biggest hits of the day, blasting quarterback Kevin Hogan on a pass that was intercepted by cornerback Morris Claiborne. The Jets stole Davis from the Browns, sending them draft bust Calvin Pryor in a June trade. Pryor wound up getting cut.

PK Chandler Catanzaro — One week after making an overtime kick, Catanzaro put his name in the Jets’ record book, recording the longest field goal in team history — 57 yards. And you know what? It probably had enough distance to go 65 yards. Catanzaro credited his protection, saying, “That record is all of ours, not just one person.” He’s off to a hot start, having made 10 of 12 field-goal tries.

P Lachlan Edwards — Both punters played exceptionally well. Edwards registered a career-high 51.5 average, including a 62-yarder in the first quarter — his third straight game in which he has recorded a punt of at least 60 yards. This was an ugly, field-position game — a game only a punter could love.
QB Josh McCown — He was far from perfect, but let’s give him a shout-out for winning three straight starts for the first time in 15 seasons.


Leonard Williams/Muhammad Wilkerson — They did it again — another sackless game. Neither player has recorded a sack this season, which is rather stunning. They’re too talented to be in this predicament. In fact, neither one was credited with a quarterback hit in this game. That’s a concern, considering Kizer began the day as the most-contacted quarterback in the league. Wilkerson (two) and Williams (one) also were flagged for costly penalties. Overall, it was another subpar day for the run defense, which allowed 140 yards. The Jets didn’t look prepared for Cleveland’s read-option plays.

Offensive line — The starting five was intact for the first time in three games, but that didn’t help much. The running game was non-existent, as the Jets rushed for 34 yards — one week after running wild for 256. The Jets struggled with Cleveland’s run blitzes. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams showed a new wrinkle, using safety Jabrill Peppers in the box more than in previous games. It turned into a hot mess for the Jets, who allowed three sacks and six quarterback hits. It’s no wonder quarterback McCown spent a lot of time in the trainer’s room after the game.

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Why don’t the Seattle Seahawks put more resources into their offensive line?

“Great question,” general manager John Schneider said in August. “I get it all the time, from a lot of different areas.”

Understandably so. In terms of salary-cap percentage, the Seahawks fielded the NFL’s least expensive offensive line last season and are 31st in spending at that position in 2017, according to

Since back-to-back Super Bowl appearances following the 2013 and 2014 seasons, the Seahawks have replaced several veteran offensive line starters with younger, cheaper options. Predictably, they’ve been challenged up front. This season, poor pass protection has left Russell Wilson under pressure on nearly 32 percent of his dropbacks — the fifth-highest rate among qualified quarterbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information — which has kept Seattle’s passing game from finding any consistent rhythm. Wilson was the most pressured QB last season at 36.5 percent.

So, why haven’t the Seahawks spent more there?

“What I would tell you is that we’re a team that has more of that chameleon type of philosophy when it comes to just keeping your best players,” Schneider said in an interview with 710 ESPN Seattle in August. “We’re not a team that says that we’re going to spend this percentage of our cap on this area and this percentage on the offense and this percentage on defense and this percentage on the defensive backs.

“I’ve been with organizations that have done that, and that’s where you get yourself in trouble. It’s almost like drafting for need, if you will, where you’re like, ‘Hey we’ve gotta have this player’ or in free agency, ‘We’re going to overpay for a specific player.'”
The Seahawks rank 31st in offensive line spending this year, with the $7.25 million cap charge of left guard Luke Joeckel (78) more than the other four starters combined. Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports
Schneider told a story about a series of past personnel decisions that helped shape that approach. They came either before or during his second stint in the Green Bay Packers’ front office, where he worked before coming to Seattle in 2010 along with coach Pete Carroll.

“We went through it in Green Bay, and I learned a very, very valuable lesson because we went out in free agency and signed a defensive end that was in his early 30s and gave him a ton of money and had another guy develop behind him,” Schneider recalled. “They had drafted somebody in the top 10 the year before that didn’t work out, and then we got to that third guy, and we had a ton of dead cap money then and weren’t able to come up and sign the young player that was actually coming through for us.”

“So it was just really a lesson in trying to keep your best players,” Schneider said, “whether it’s on offense or defense.”

The Seahawks have abstained from spending big money on their offensive line not because they consider that position to be inherently less important, but because they believe their best players play elsewhere, and the money has gone to them instead.

Seahawks’ spending has shifted

It wasn’t always this way.

During the 2013 season, when the Seahawks won their first Super Bowl in franchise history, they had the NFL’s highest-paid offensive line. The starting five of left tackle Russell Okung ($9.54 million cap charge), left guard James Carpenter ($2.01 million), center Max Unger ($6 million), right guard J.R. Sweezy ($494,000) and right tackle Breno Giacomini ($4.75 million) helped Seattle’s offensive line account for 20.9 percent of the team’s salary-cap spending.

Lowest OL Spending, 2017
A look at the bottom five teams in the percentage of the salary cap spent on the offensive line in 2017, along with their ranking among the 32 NFL teams in yards per game and their record.
28. Texans 10.45% 12th 2-3
29. Titans 10.53% 24th 2-3
30. Bengals 10.48% 23rd 2-3
31. Seahawks 9.96% 15th 3-2
32. Ravens 7.81% 28th 3-2
Sources: Spotrac,
At the time, many of the team’s emerging star players were playing on cost-controlled rookie deals. As those bills came due, Seattle’s spending shifted. Wilson’s contract averages $21.9 million. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin ($11.5 million average) and tight end Jimmy Graham ($9 million), who was acquired in a 2015 trade, are also playing on lucrative deals.

But the majority of Seattle’s money is being spent on a defense that now includes eight players who have made at least one Pro Bowl and are compensated accordingly: defensive backs Richard Sherman ($14 million average), Kam Chancellor ($12 million) and Earl Thomas ($10 million), linebackers Bobby Wagner ($10.75 million) and K.J. Wright ($6.75 million), and defensive linemen Michael Bennett ($10.16 million), Sheldon Richardson ($8.07 million) and Cliff Avril ($7.12 million).

Highest OL Spending, 2017
A look at the top five teams in the percentage of the salary cap spent on the offensive line in 2017, along with their ranking among the 32 NFL teams in yards per game and their team record.
1. Raiders 26.12% 30th 2-3
2. Browns 25.94% 21st 0-5
3. Steelers 23.64% 17th 3-2
4. Bills 21.93% 31st 3-2
5. Eagles 20.34% 4th 5-1
Sources: Spotrac,
As a result, the Seahawks are spending 53.78 percent of their 2017 cap dollars on their defense, the highest percentage of any team, according to Spotrac. They were fifth in defensive spending percentage last season at 42.58 percent.

Meanwhile, Seattle is 31st (9.96 percent) in offensive line spending this year with a starting five of left tackle Rees Odhiambo ($714,000 cap charge), left guard Luke Joeckel ($7.25 million), center Justin Britt ($2.34 million), right guard Oday Aboushi ($975,000) and right tackle Germain Ifedi ($1.87 million).

The Seahawks were 32nd in offensive line spending last season (4.17 percent).

Continual turnover

The notion that the Seahawks have declined to spend resources on their offensive line is only partly true. Since Carroll and Schneider arrived seven years ago, Seattle has drafted 17 offensive linemen, more than any team in the NFL.

That includes several high draft picks. Okung was the regime’s first pick, chosen sixth overall in 2010. Carpenter (2011) and Ifedi (2016) were also first-rounders. Seattle spent second-round picks on Britt (2014) and Ethan Pocic (2017) and third-rounders on John Moffitt (2011) and Odhiambo (2016).

But Britt is the only offensive lineman drafted by Seattle since 2010 to get a second contract from the team.

The Seahawks haven’t kept some of those draft picks because they weren’t good enough to warrant keeping, which, in those cases, reflects an issue with either developing and/or identifying talent. Continually drafting late in the first round has not helped Seattle’s cause, given what’s widely believed to be a dearth of pro-ready offensive linemen being produced by the college game. But the Seahawks have also decided to let good starting offensive linemen such as Okung, Carpenter and Sweezy leave in free agency. They also parted with Unger in the Graham trade.

On their own, each of those moves was and still is understandable, given the market value of those players. But continually moving on from starters requires finding equally capable replacements either from within or via free agency, and the Seahawks have not been very successful with either. That helps explain why their offensive line has had three new starters in each of the past two seasons.

Where the current group goes from here

The Seahawks made a strong push in free agency this year for former Packers guard T.J. Lang, who instead signed with the Detroit Lions, his hometown team. Adding Lang along with Joeckel in the same free-agency period would have changed perceptions about Seattle’s commitment to its offensive line.

More importantly, it would have helped stabilize a group that is again young, particularly on the outside. Odhiambo, who took over at left tackle when George Fant tore his ACL in August, is in his second season. So is Ifedi, who is at right tackle after starting at right guard as a rookie.
The Seahawks worked out veteran tackle Branden Albert on Monday, so he’s a name to keep in mind. For now, though, the starting five is about to get even younger with Joeckel expected to miss Seattle’s next game, if not longer, following arthroscopic knee surgery. In an ideal scenario, Pocic would take over and show the potential that compelled the Seahawks to draft him in the second round. Mark Glowinski is another option, and he might be the more likely one, considering he started all of last season at left guard.

Whether it’s via Albert or their young players developing on the fly, the Seahawks need improved play from their offensive line to make another deep run in the postseason.

Looking further ahead, the Seahawks will have decisions to make after this season on Joeckel and Aboushi. They are among several free agents that Seattle added on one-year deals. Those contracts, as well as Graham’s, are scheduled to come off the books at season’s end, so the Seahawks could have holes to fill on their offensive line and money to spend.

But as history has shown, need hasn’t always dictated spending with the Seahawks and their offensive line.

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — One month shy of the five-year anniversary of the Butt Fumble, the New York Jets lost another big fumble against the New England Patriots. This time, it wasn’t a slapstick routine — unless you count the actions of the officiating crew and the replay-watching bigwigs in the NFL office. This was a phantom fumble, and it cost the Jets dearly in their 24-17 loss on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

But unlike the Mark Sanchez faux pas from Thanksgiving night 2012, the Jets had no reason to be embarrassed after this defeat, which snapped a three-game winning streak. They sent a loud message to the rest of the league:

They’re no joke.

“People see we’re a legitimate team, like we always felt we were,” said tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the center of the touchdown-turned-fumble-turned-touchback controversy.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins and the Jets would not like the final verdict following the tight end’s apparent touchdown that was overturned in the fourth quarter. Al Bello/Getty Images
If Seferian-Jenkins’ touchdown had been upheld by replay, the Jets would have trailed by three points with less than nine minutes to play. We’ll never know if that would’ve been enough to upset the Patriots (4-2) in their battle for sole possession of first place in the AFC East, but the Jets pushed the defending Super Bowl champions to the 60th minute — and that’s progress.

“We had so many expectations, coming in to shock the world today,” cornerback Morris Claiborne said. “I feel like a lot of people will understand that we’re not going to lay down. We’re going to come out and fight you.”

For 20 minutes, the Jets did just about everything right. QB Josh McCown was outplaying Tom Brady in their Grey(beard) Cup, Seferian-Jenkins was out-Gronking Rob Gronkowski, and Todd Bowles was outcoaching Bill Belichick. Tanking never looked so good.

In the end, the Jets experienced a painfully familiar lesson: It takes more than a positive stretch or two to take down the Patriots, who scored 24 straight points after trailing 14-0. Still, the Jets (3-3) showed they can hang with a heavyweight. They had the ball at the Patriots’ 43-yard line in the final minute, trying desperately to score the tying touchdown. There was no miracle finish, no sole possession of first place, but no one was laughing at them when it was over.

The oft-discussed gap between the Jets and Patriots isn’t as wide as everybody thought.

What you need to know in the NFL

• Statistics
• Scoreboard
• 2017 schedule, results
• Standings
“When you’re talking about the margin or gap, I don’t know what you’re scaling that off of, because I feel like we can go against any team in this league,” wide receiver Jermaine Kearse said.

They got robbed by the officials on the non-touchdown, but here’s the thing about these Jets: They didn’t quit. Unlike last year’s outfit, which laid down in a 41-3 debacle in New England, this group played with tenacity, if not efficiency. They came within a few plays of pulling off the upset, but isn’t that always the case against the Patriots?

McCown threw a killer interception late in the second quarter, cornerback Buster Skrine dropped a would-be interception, and the defense committed two costly penalties. The Jets’ 14-0 second-quarter lead should’ve been larger. Then Brady started being Brady, connecting with Gronkowski for two touchdowns. Both came against rookie safety Jamal Adams, who struggled for the second week in a row.

“They have a guy, No. 12, who figures out a lot,” Adams said of Brady. “He dissected us.”

It was too much Brady and too much Gronkowski, as the Jets’ pass rush failed to register a sack. Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson failed to generate an inside push, allowing Brady to overcome a slow start. The Jets have only seven sacks in six games, none by the defensive line.

Still, the Jets did a lot of good things in the game. McCown (31-of-47, 354 yards) threw two early touchdowns against New England’s decimated secondary, but the Patriots adjusted and the Jets went into a deep freeze until the fourth quarter. Despite the hiccups, they had a chance for a major upset. That’s more than anyone could have envisioned a few weeks ago, when the tanking talk was loudest.





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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The latest New York Jets stock watch, with risers and fallers from their overtime win over the Jacksonville Jaguars:


RB Bilal Powell: With Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin on hand for Kevin Mawae’s Ring of Honor induction, Powell delivered a rushing performance that conjured up memories of a young Martin. He ran for a career-high 163 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown run. A few notes about the touchdown: It was the longest run by a Jets running back since Adrian Murrell (78 yards, 1996) and the longest touchdown run by a Jet since Bruce Harper (78, 1983). And this: It was the longest run by a Jets running back on his first carry since the merger in 1970. We could go on, but you get the point. With Matt Forte (turf toe) sidelined, Powell set the tone and changed the game.

RB Elijah McGuire: He was overshadowed in high school by Leonard Fournette, a New Orleans-area legend. It was the same in college. Fournette starred at LSU, McGuire at Louisiana-Lafayette. At the draft, Fournette was picked fourth by the Jaguars, McGuire 188th. But on Sunday, McGuire upstaged the future star, bolting through the middle of the defense for a 69-yard touchdown. It was his first touchdown and the longest for a rookie in franchise history. Welcome to the spotlight, Eli.

The offensive line: Good blocking, coupled with a well-designed scheme, resulted in 256 yards on the ground. Powell and McGuire were untouched on their long scoring runs, the first time since 2009 that a team had two rushes of at least 65 yards before first contact or any contact. On McGuire’s touchdown, guards Brian Winters and James Carpenter did a nice job of getting to the second level. Winters took out linebacker Myles Jack, giving McGuire a massive lane. It wasn’t a clean game by the line (five sacks, three penalties), but you can’t argue with 256 yards. And some of those sacks were on quarterback Josh McCown.
DE Kony Ealy: He did his Dikembe Mutombo impersonation, with one rejection after another. Ealy deflected four passes, the most ever by a Jets defensive lineman, according to StatsPass. He turned one deflection into an interception, grabbing the ball out of the air and nearly scoring — a tremendously athletic move. In the final minute of the fourth quarter, he batted a pass on a third-and-goal, forcing Jacksonville to settle for a field goal. The Jets’ scouting report noted a low release point for Blake Bortles, so Ealy and his linemates made it a point to get their arms up when rushing. He has five batted passes for the season; no edge defender in the league has more than two, per Pro Football Focus.

P Lachlan Edwards & PK Chandler Catanzaro: This got lost in the madness of overtime, but Edwards’ 70-yard punt changed the field position and put the Jaguars in a big hole. He also made an impact with his arm. On a fake punt, he threw a 31-yard pass to Marcus Williams. It was a wobbler, but it got there. Catanzaro’s 41-yard field goal in overtime saved the Jets from their first tie since 1988.


This was far from a flawless performance, but we’d be reaching if we singled out an individual player or unit.

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Todd Bowles subscribes to the hot-hand philosophy. Or, in this case, hot legs.

When it comes to distributing the rock, the New York Jets coach prefers to stay in the moment and ride the most productive running back — or so he says. With that in mind, it should be easy to figure out the rotation Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.

Bowles should stick with Bilal Powell and rookie Elijah McGuire. If Matt Forte (turf toe) is healthy enough to play, he should be one of the guys, but not The Guy.

Don’t get me wrong, Forte still has value to the offense and he’s an excellent presence in the locker room, but he doesn’t have big-play ability. In 2,276 career carries, he’s never had a run longer than 68 yards.

Last Sunday, Powell went 75 yards for a touchdown on his first carry, McGuire went 69 yards for a score on his fourth.

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Let’s not over-think this: The Jets (2-2) need to keep feeding Powell and McGuire.

Bowles said the backfield plan remains a “work in progress,” but he said Powell and McGuire will continue to get the ball. How much he didn’t say.

“We left some plays out there on the field,” he said. “I know they got the two big runs, and we’re running the ball, we’re making progress every week. We just have to keep making progress and utilize the guys we have and try to take advantage of certain situations when we can.”

The three-headed monster looks good on paper, but it’s hard to execute because certain runners need the ball to develop a rhythm. Clearly, Powell doesn’t need much time to get his engine churning, although there was a fluky element to his touchdown run. The Jacksonville Jaguars, thinking he was down by contact, stopped their pursuit.

The Jets turned to Powell and McGuire, who combined for 256 yards, because Forte was out with the injury. When Forte is playing, the coaches have a tendency to forget about Powell. That’s directed mainly at the previous offensive staff, although new coordinator John Morton was guilty of that in the first 26 minutes of the opener.

Former center Nick Mangold offered his take on the running-back situation, saying Powell has been “overlooked over the years.” Mangold said he hasn’t watched too much this season, but he left no doubt about his opinion.

“B.P. is the guy,” Mangold said Tuesday on SNY TV’s “Jets Stream” podcast. “That’s the guy you want to roll with.”

When he found out that Forte was out last week, Mangold said he picked up Powell for his fantasy team. Smart move.