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Colts expect Philip Rivers to stay in Indianapolis

Head coach of the Indianapolis Colts talks with quarterback Philip Rivers

INDIANAPOLIS — Colts coach Frank Reich doesn’t believe quarterback Philip Rivers’ stay in Indianapolis will be for just one year.

Reich sees a 38-year-old quarterback who still has the ability to play multiple years in the NFL.

“The spirit of [negotiations] was, we’re in this together and as long as Philip wants to play, wants to be here,” Reich said Monday. “It’s the NFL, we know he has to prove it. We have to prove it as a team to keep him wanting to play. I can just tell you from the previous relationship [with the Chargers], I really believe it’s Philip’s intent to play multiple years. I personally believe he’s more than capable of multiple years.”

Philip Rivers signs in Indianapolis

Rivers signed a one-year, $25-million deal with the Colts in March after spending the first 16 years of his career with the Chargers. Reich was a member of the Chargers’ coaching staff from 2013 to 2015.

Philip Rivers is coming off a 2019 season when he turned the ball over 23 times, including 20 interceptions, the third most in the NFL. Rivers, who has started 224 straight games, has thrown for 59,271 yards and 397 touchdowns to go with eight Pro Bowl invitations in his career.

Philip Rivers signed with the Indianapolis Colts in the 2020 offseason

Rivers said earlier this spring that he thought about retiring before talking to his family and deciding to keep playing.

“I take it one year at a time,” Rivers said March 21. “If I feel good, I’ll keep going. I don’t want to get carried away. You won’t see me in the Tom Brady [age] range. I still feel like I can help a football team go win a championship.”

Rivers already has a job waiting for him once his playing career is complete. It was announced on May 8 that he will become the head football coach at St. Michael Catholic High School in Fairhope, Alabama, once he retires.

“When the announcement was made, I knew this five years ago,” Reich said. “This literally has been in the works for a long time. It’s really exciting for me to see that in him. He’s football through and through. That’s one of the things you love about him. We’re certainly excited to have him for however long we get him before he takes that head job.”

This article was first published by ESPN.

NFL Cornerbacks Wanted on Armed Roberry Charges

DeAndre Baker of the New York Giants and Quinton Dunbar of the Seattle Seahawks are to be arrested for armed robbery

Arrest warrants have been issued in South Florida for New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar in connection to an armed robbery investigation.

According to Miramar Police, Baker’s arrest warrant is for four counts of armed robbery with a firearm and four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. Dunbar is wanted on four counts of armed robbery with a firearm. Both NFL cornerbacks are expected to be arrested soon.

The alleged incident took place late Wednesday night at a party that began Wednesday evening. According to the arrest warrant, Baker and Dunbar are accused of stealing money and watches. All of this through force while armed with semi-automatic firearms. It states that Baker intentionally threatened victims with a firearm.

According to the arrest warrant, multiple witnesses said at one point during the incident Baker ordered another suspect wearing a red mask to shoot an individual who was just entering the party.

The NFL said Thursday night it is aware of the matter and would have no further comment at this time. The league will review the incident under its personal conduct policy and hand out discipline if warranted.

Warrant out for Quinton Dunbar and DeAndre Baker

DeAndre Baker, cornerback for the New York Giants celebratin

Baker, 22, was a first-round pick of the Giants in 2019. The Seahawks acquired the 27-year-old Dunbar in a March trade with the Washington Redskins and introduced him to reporters on a video call earlier Thursday. Both players are from Miami.

“We are aware of the situation and have been in contact with DeAndre. We have no further comment at this time,” the Giants said in a statement regarding the fact that the NFL cornerbacks will be arrested.

Related: DK Metcalf has Advice for NFL Rookies

The Giants traded up to select Baker with the 30th pick in the first round of last year’s NFL draft. This is despite at least two teams flagging him as a risky pick because of his attitude, sources told ESPN.

Baker finished his rookie season with 55 tackles and no interceptions. He also allowed seven touchdowns as the nearest defender, fourth most in the NFL, according to Next Gen Stats data. He was among the candidates to start opposite free-agent acquisition James Bradberry this season.

Dunbar made 11 starts last season and 25 over five years with Washington. They signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Florida in 2015. He has nine career interceptions and six over the past two seasons.

Quinton Dunbar. cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks celebrates

The Seahawks said in a statement that the team was “aware of the situation involving Quinton Dunbar and still gathering information. We will defer all further comment to league investigators and local authorities.”

I think we’ll have to wait on more details regarding the situation. More to come.

This article was first published by ESPN.

James Harrison claims Mike Tomlin ‘Gave him an envelope’

James Harrison walks with Mike Tomlin while part of the Pittsburgh Steelers

Former Pittsburgh Steelers star James Harrison said coach Mike Tomlin gave him an envelope after the linebacker’s devastating hit on Cleveland Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi in 2010.

“The G-est thing Mike Tomlin ever did, he handed me an envelope after that,” Harrison said on Barstool’s “Going Deep” podcast. “I’m not going to say what, but he handed me an envelope after that.”

James Harrison hit on Massaquoi

Harrison initially was fined $75,000 for the hit. That’s the most, he said, that he was ever fined (the NFL later reduced it to $50,000). Massaquoi suffered a concussion as a result of the head-to-head hit, which was not flagged in the game.

James Harrison hits Mohamed Massaquoi

“Listen, on everything I love, on my daddy’s grave, I hit that man with about 50 percent of what I had, and I just hit him because I wanted him to let loose of the ball,” Harrison said on the podcast. “If I had knew they was gonna fine me $75,000, I would have tried to kill him.”

Harrison’s fine also was high because he was considered a repeat offender, and he had been fined $5,000 earlier in the season for unnecessary roughness.

Did Mike Tomlin give James Harrison anything?

Steelers president Art Rooney II issued a statement later Thursday denying Harrison’s claims.

“I am very certain nothing like this ever happened,” Rooney said. “I have no idea why James would make a comment like this but there is simply no basis for believing anything like this.”

Bill Parise, who is Harrison’s advisor and former agent, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Thursday that it “never happened.”

“Absolutely not,” said Parise, who was unaware of Harrison’s comments until contacted by the paper. “Never happened. I would have known that. It didn’t happen. James and I are still together. We were really close during our 18 years. He would have said something along the way.”

The NFL, which declined to comment when contacted by ESPN, previously dealt with coaches paying players for hits in the New Orleans Saints‘ “Bountygate” scandal, where coaches offered cash rewards to players for knocking opponents out of games.

Sean Payton on James Harrison – Mike Tomlin Incident

Saints coach Sean Payton was asked about Harrison’s comments Thursday during a radio interview on Baltimore’s 105.7 The Fan and said people “shouldn’t hold their breath” for the league to investigate.

Sean Payton, head coach for the New Orleans Saints, yells on the field

“That’ll be something that’s tucked away or under the rug at Park Avenue,” Payton said in reiterating his long-standing complaints about the way the NFL handled the Saints’ bounty scandal. “They’ll look into it briefly. … Listen, don’t get me started on that. I lost $6 million in salary. And honestly it was something that I’ll never truly get over. I know how it was handled and how it was run and the reasons behind it. And that’s just the truth.”

Harrison’s new comments echo the sentiments he expressed after the hit a decade ago.

“It was a legal hit,” Harrison told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2010. According to the newspaper, Tomlin agreed.

This article was first published by ESPN.

2020 NFL Season Predictions

NFL Players for the 2020 NFL season predictions

The 2020 NFL season seems like a go for players. Now, will fans be included due to the coronavirus? That is another question. But we can still look at all the upcoming games with the 2020 NFL schedule being released.

There are lots of marquee matchups set for the year which we cannot wait to see. We went through the entire schedule and made predictions for each team’s record for the 2020 NFL season.

2020 NFL Record Predictions

AFC East

Buffalo Bills12-4
New England Patriots9-7
New York Jets7-9
Miami Dolphins7-9

The spotlight is finally on Buffalo. With four primetime games, their most since 1996, the Buffalo Bills will have the opportunity to steal the division away from the Patriots for the first time since 2008. Don’t think that it’s a gimme for the Bills though as they have the fifth toughest schedule on paper and their four primetime games are against Kansas City, Pittsburgh, New England, and San Francisco.

Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills celebrates after catching a touchdown in a playoff game against the Houston Texans in the 2019 NFL Playoffs

The Dolphins and Jets both rebuilding and might steal a few games here and there but neither will be able to keep up with the Bills overall roster.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens12-4
Pittsburgh Steelers9-7
Cleveland Browns9-7
Cincinnati Bengals5-11

A return for Big Ben in Pittsburgh is big news but I expect regression in their very opportunistic defense. Lamar Jackson and company took the league by storm last year, in the regular season at least, and it will continue into 2020. Their first-round exit in 2019 will be looked back upon as a stepping stone as the Ravens are destined for big things in the next few years.

Cleveland should have massive improvement on offense. The Bengals drafted a future stud quarterback. Neither will be enough to match up with Baltimore.

Lamar Jackson, quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens, jumping over a defender en route to a touchdown

AFC South

Tennessee Titans10-6
Indianapolis Colts10-6
Houston Texans10-6
Jacksonville Jaguars4-12

Maybe the biggest tossup out of all the divisions. The Colts signed Phillip Rivers in the offseason to replace Andrew Luck which could catapult this team from last year’s mediocre record to a division-winning mark.

The Titans are fresh off an AFC Championship appearance and looked lethal down the stretch. I don’t see much slowing down Derek Henry and much getting past their sneaky stingy defense.

Unfortunately for the Texans, their current reign over the division (4 out of the last 5 AFC South titles) could come to an end. Deshaun Watson seems to be the only hope on their team and both the Titans and Colts got better.

Derek Henry, running back for the Tennessee Titans, stiff arming a defender while running for a touchdown

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs12-4
Los Angeles Chargers10-6
Denver Broncos9-7
Las Vegas Raiders7-9

Unlike the AFC South, the AFC West might be the easiest to predict. The road goes through Kansas City and that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. They have added weapons to their already elite offense, still have one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks with Patrick Mahomes, and are poised to make another run at a Superbowl in 2020.

The Chargers and Broncos aren’t sturdy at quarterback and the Raiders are unproven, even with underrated signal caller Derek Carr. This really is a one-horse race out west as part of our 2020 NFL predictions.

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles10-6
Dallas Cowboys10-6
New York Giants6-10
Washington Redskins6-10

Maybe not a one-horse race in the NFC East but it’s a clear two-horse race. The Giants have a workhorse at running back in Saquon Barkley, but they don’t scare anyone with their issues on the defensive side of the ball.

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys and Carson Wentz of the Eagles will be battling it out till the very end of the season. Well, probably until week 16 where they face off in, all likelihood for the division crown. The big questions are can the Dallas offense live up to expectations unlike last year, and can Philadelphia stay somewhat healthy? That will decide the division.

NFC North

Green Bay Packers11-5
Minnesota Vikings10-6
Detroit Lions8-8
Chicago Bears7-9

Another two-team race in my book. The Packers and the Vikings clashed in week 16 for the division crown, which was handily won by Green Bay. This should be another division title that isn’t decided until late in the 2020 NFL season.

As for the Bears and the Lions, I don’t see much hope in either situation. Mitch Trubisky took a giant leap backwards in his sophomore season and the Lions looks generally lost.

NFC South

New Orleans Saints12-4
Tampa Bay Buccaneers11-5
Atlanta Falcons9-7
Carolina Panthers6-10

This might be the most fun division in football to watch during the 2020 NFL season. Two of the best quarterbacks of all time in Drew Brees and Tom Brady facing off not once, but twice a season for presumably the next two years. Could this be the new Brady-Manning rivalry we all loved for the last decade plus? Stay tuned.

Other than the Saints and Bucs ruling the division, a sneaky team here is the Falcons. They had a forgettable 2019 season, but they still have the pieces to get things done. A former MVP at quarterback in Matt Ryan makes them a sneaky pick to be over 500 and possible a playoff contender. Sorry, Carolina fans, Christian McCaffery might be the only bright spot in Charlotte this year.

Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints pointing after throwing a touchdown

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks11-5
San Francisco 49ers11-5
Arizona Cardinals9-7
Los Angeles Rams8-8

Just like last year, the Seahawks and 49ers are playing the final week of the season and just like last year it will probably be for the division. However, this time I think Russell Wilson’s growing chemistry with beast wide receiver DK Metcalf will be too much for the 49ers defense to handle.

Everyone seems to be picking the Rams to have a regression in 2020 and I tend to agree with that. The defense looked extremely vulnerable and they’ve lost weapons on offense. Kyler Murray and the Cardinals might give them a run for third place in the division.

2020 NFL Playoff Predictions

Wild Card Playoffs

(2) Buffalo Bills over (7) Los Angeles Chargers

(3) Baltimore Ravens over (6) Houston Texans

(4) Tennessee Titans over (5) Indianapolis Colts

(2) Seattle Seahawks over (7) Minnesota Vikings

(6) Tampa Bay Buccaneers over (3) Green Bay Packers

(5) San Francisco 49ers over (4) Philadelphia Eagles

In our wild card prediction, we have both AFC home teams surviving the weekend while both NFC road teams pulled through. Is home field advantage important for the wild card round? We don’t think so.

Kansas City Chiefs offense celebrating after scoring a touchdown

Divisional Playoffs

(1) Kansas City Chiefs over (4) Tennessee Titans

(2) Buffalo Bills over (3) Baltimore Ravens

(1) New Orleans Saints over (6) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(2) Seattle Seahawks over (5) San Francisco 49ers

All four home teams advance in this round in our 2020 NFL prediction due to the huge advantage the bye week provides. The top two seeds from each conference will be fighting in out in the championship games.


(1) Kansas City Chiefs over (2) Buffalo Bills

(1) New Orleans Saints over (2) Seattle Seahawks

Once again, we send the lower seeds home and have the top seeds from each conference face off in Superbowl 55.

Superbowl LV

(1) New Orleans Saints over (1) Kansas City Chiefs

Related: Top Superbowl Contenders for 2020

It’s about time that Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints broke through for another championship. They’ve been right there for the last few years and this could be the year. The Saints are the champion in our 2020 NFL prediction.

Top 5 NFL Primetime Games 2020

Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints will face off twice in the 2020 NFL Season.

The schedule is out, and our popcorn is ready!

The NFL is better, more competitive and more unpredictable than ever before. In a related note: This year’s prime-time schedule is off the charts. Whittling that pool of games down to the select list of five gems that you’ll find below was no easy task. So many compelling matchups, so many enticing teams and players.

Related: Top Superbowl Contenders for 2020

Here’s my ranking of the best NFL primetime games in the 2020 season, presented in countdown style:

Best Primetime Games in the 2020 NFL season

5) San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

I love NFL history, and this game oozes it. In the regular season and playoffs, these two teams have faced off 36 times, with Dallas holding a slight 18-17-1 edge. Furthermore, this particular Week 15 matchup could — check that: should — feature major playoff implications, as I expect these two teams to win their respective divisions.

Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys and Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers are set to face off in one of the primetime games during the 2020 NFL season

These were two of the most prolific offenses in the NFL last season — Dallas ranked first in total yards, while San Francisco scored the second-most points — and each added an enticing playmaker in last month’s first round. CeeDee Lamb, as mentioned above, was highway robbery for the Cowboys at No. 17. Eight picks later, the 49ers scooped up Brandon Aiyuk, who brings even more catch-and-run ability to Kyle Shanahan’s already-explosive offense.

The storied franchises, the classic uniforms, the loaded rosters — it’s all here in this Sunday night beaut.

4) New Orleans Saints at Las Vegas Raiders

Week 2: Monday, Sept. 21 at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN

Vegas, baby! Vegas!!! Yes, on the second Monday of the regular season, the NFL officially kicks off in Las Vegas. I can’t wait for the sights and sounds, the glitz and glamour. And you know Drew Brees and Sean Payton will want to spoil Jon Gruden’s housewarming party.

And then there’s the Derek Carr angle. Is he really Gruden’s guy long term? After opening up the season on the road (at Carolina), Carr will be squarely in the spotlight in this prime-time bout. Will the 29-year-old be able to keep up with his 41-year-old signal-calling counterpart? After this game, the Raiders visit New England, host Buffalo and travel to Kansas City. What will Carr’s status be when Las Vegas hits the bye in Week 6. If Carr struggles, how quickly will Gruden start imagining Marcus Mariota as this year’s Ryan Tannehill?

3) Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills fans celebrating in the stands as a part of Bills Mafia

Week 6: Thursday, Oct. 15 at 8:20 p.m. ET on Fox/NFL Network/Amazon

Patty Mahomes against Sean McDermott’s defense in front of the amazing and passionate fans in lovely Western New York? Buckle up, buttercup! The scene in Buffalo is going to be wild, with the defending champs coming to town with the sun down and the juices flowing for Bills Mafia. I’m so excited I might jump through a table! This could be a playoff preview, too. I anticipate the Chiefs will win their fifth straight AFC West title. And yes, I expect the Bills to take the AFC East for the first time since 1995.

Related: NFL Playoff Seeds – Behind the Numbers

Any time Mahomes is on in prime time — with the electric Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce by his side — the viewing offers sizzle. Can’t wait to see him go against a Bills defense that ranked second in points allowed and third in total D last season. But don’t discount the undercard of Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs and Buffalo’s revamped passing attack against Tyrann Mathieu, Frank Clark, Chris Jones and the rest of K.C.’s underrated championship defense.

2) New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

Immediately after Tom Brady signed with the Buccaneers, I had to know when he would be facing off against Drew Brees’ Saints. Two 40-something future first-ballot Hall of Famers leading two power-loaded divisional rivals with legit title aspirations. This is why you love sports. Could this replace the Brady vs Manning rivalry?

And while these two teams are set to duke it out on the opening Sunday afternoon of the season, this Week 9 date in Tampa is the one that gets prime-time treatment. Hoo-boy, I can’t wait for Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth to get on this call. Currently ranked first and second in all-time touchdown passes, Brady (547 TDs) and Brees (541) have actually only locked horns five times, with Brees holding a 3-2 edge. (Two of those wins came when Brees was a Charger.) The last time they did battle, back in Week 2 of the 2017 season, Brady got a 36-20 win while the two field generals combined for 803 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions through the air.

1) Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens

Week 3: Monday, Sept. 28 at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN

This is the one! The best of the primetime games for the 2020 NFL season. Seriously, did you expect anything different? The 2018 MVP vs. the 2019 MVP. Two majestic young quarterbacks and brilliant faces of the NFL (and American sports) in Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson. Brilliant throws? Mesmerizing runs? Insane fantasy numbers? Making the impossible possible? I’m here for it — all of it.

Related: Best Quarterbacks in the NFL 2020

Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs face off in a highly anticipated game of the 2020 NFL primetime slots.

With this matchup occurring early in the season, we have a better chance of seeing both of these juggernauts operating at full strength. I know quarterbacks typically like to say they don’t actually compete against each other — but rather, the opposing defense. Still, you can’t help but think Pat and Lamar will be looking to one-up each other in this sparkling QB showcase. And don’t discount the complete nature of these two teams under two incredible head coaches in Andy Reid and John Harbaugh.

AFC Championship Game preview? I hope so. And I think so. It’s the AFC title game I wanted last season.

This article was first published by NFL.com.

DK Metcalf has Advice for NFL Rookies

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf standing around in practice in 2019

DK Metcalf says the best advice he received as an NFL rookie was to sit down last at team meetings.

Metcalf shared his experience as a first-year wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks with 547 players in the NFL’s first rookie webinar after the draft last month.

Related: DK Metcalf Workout

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair also were panelists on the discussion moderated by Mo Kelly, a former Seahawks defensive back and the team’s current director of player engagement.

Tracy Perlman, the NFL senior vice president of football communications and marketing, said two questions rookies asked most were focused on social media use and the best way to assimilate themselves into a locker room.

Rookie advice from DK Metcalf

“I think Mo told us in our rookie meeting: ‘Don’t sit nowhere. Let everybody come in first and sit down. Then you find your seat last,'” Metcalf said. “So that really set the tone for the year and how to approach everything. Just wait my turn and soak up as much knowledge from the vets as I could.”

Kelly explained why he gives that advice.

Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf flexing his biceps at the 2019 NFL Combine

“It’s a humbling experience,” he said. “These guys are the best of the best in college football and so they come into the league and everybody has a story. (But) really, nobody cares that you won a national championship before. You’re entering into a business world and into a world of professional athletes. So these guys were collegiate athletes and they come into this room and they’re used to be the best of the best, and now they have to sit back, observe, and find a way to fit in.”

Metcalf warned rookies about their use of social media.

“I told them you can’t make everybody happy,” he said. “You’re building a brand and you have to protect that brand. So, if somebody calls you out on Twitter or Instagram, you can’t respond. Use social media for a positive impact on your life and other people’s lives and not a negative one.”

Metcalf also cautioned them about finances.

“The easiest way to manage that is just to know where your money is going and who has control of it,” he said. “Be proactive and know where your money is going, how you’re spending it, get a budget.”

Metcalf’s rookie year in Seattle

Metcalf slipped to the final pick in the second round of the 2019 draft for various reasons, then quickly made all the teams that passed on him regret their decisions. He had 58 catches for 900 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season. Then he helped Seattle beat Philadelphia on the road in an NFC wild-card playoff game with seven receptions for 160 yards and one TD. The Eagles drafted wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside seven spots ahead of Metcalf. Arcega-Whiteside had 10 catches in 17 games.

This year’s rookie class has unique challenges because of the coronavirus pandemic. Most pro days were canceled and team visits were held virtually.

DK Metcalf making a catch over a defender in the Seahawks win over the Eagles in the Wild Card Playoff Game

“I told some guys it’s a good thing and a bad thing, because what I learned last year about the whole draft process is people are looking for something bad to point out about you no matter what it is,” Metcalf said. “So the less opportunity teams had to nitpick anything you did wrong was a better position for you. But for the guys who didn’t get invited to the combine, who only had a chance to show what they could do at pro day, that’s the other bad part about it, so there’s two ways you can look at it.”

Professional Advice from DK Metcalf

The rookie webinar was one of five professional development and educational webinars for current and former players the NFL held virtually in March and April. The rookies also heard from Perlman; Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president of football operations; Carla Lide-Buglione, the league’s player engagement coordinator; and Don Davis, the NFL Players Association senior director of player affairs.

“Due to the current situation with social distancing, these webinars are critical to the transition from being a student-athlete to becoming a professional athlete,” Vincent said. “This platform meets the athletes on the device of their choice. It also delivers onboarding curriculum and resources essential to their entire playing experience.”

Overall, more than 1,600 past and present players registered for the five interactive sessions that covered finances, real estate, mental health, community engagement and the rookie webinar. Spouses, girlfriends and partners also were invited to participate.

“It was really valuable to have the significant others on the phone because you get a lot of questions from them,” Perlman said. “The idea for us is to make sure that we continue to build this community of care around players where they understand that we have the resources and we want to give them the information,.We want to have subject matter experts talk them through it. So I think that they were really successful.”

This article was first published by ESPN.

Buffalo Bills Focused on Continuity this Offseason

Buffalo Bills defense celebrating after an interception

Bills quarterback Josh Allen and new wide receiver Stefon Diggs, acquired in a mid-March trade with the Vikings, have yet to get on the field together. They have found a way to develop chemistry, though.

“Josh told me that they have been (video) gaming,” Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane said Tuesday. “Maybe they are playing a game that’s not football, but they are bantering back and forth and getting to know each other.”

Bills players staying connected this offseason

It can’t be ruled out that they could be playing as teammates on Madden.

“I’d love it, as long as Stefon is wearing the Bills colors,” Beane joked — kind of.

This bond-building, the only option since COVID-19 restrictions have kept players from on-field work with teammates at club facilities, is paramount to the Bills this offseason if they are to supplant the Tom Brady-less Patriots in the AFC East.

“Our goal was, ‘How do we score points?’ ” Beane said. “That caught up with us at the end of the season in Houston.”

Buffalo Bills GM Brandon Beane speaking to the media

Buffalo averaged just 19.6 points — tied for 23rd with the Raiders. Yet managed to grind out 10 wins before losing to the Texans on Wild Card Weekend. That is known as borrowed-time offense. Part of the struggle, according to Beane, was not having a deep-ball/catch-and-run big-play receiving threat to complement Cole Beasley and John Brown. Enter Diggs.

Beane said Buffalo tried to pry Diggs from the Vikings at last season’s trade deadline, but Minnesota wasn’t down.

With draft pick No. 22, Beane didn’t think any of the top-shelf wide receivers would be available. He didn’t want to forsake his first-rounder or a stash of other picks to get up high enough to select a receiver who might not be able to make enough of an immediate impact like Diggs could. So the Bills dealt No. 22 (along with three other draft picks) to the Vikings for a player who had 63 catches for 1,130 yards and six touchdowns last season. Beane said Diggs should be worth the haul Buffalo parted with.

“Too many of our drives were having to be nine, 10, 11 plays,” Beane said. “You want to control the ball, but you also want an easy score once in a while.”

The inability for Allen and Diggs to even play catch has slowed the development of improvement needed in the passing game. Beane said that his quarterback and wide receiver learning to trust one another as people — not football players — can be just as beneficial. That’s what is happening now.

One thing the Bills have working in their favor is minimal turnover on the coaching staff and in the front office. Such continuity in the organizational hierarchy should help, with so much uncertainty at every turn, Beane said.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen and new wide receiver Stefon Diggs

Changing of the guard in the AFC East?

“If this COVID-19 happened a year ago, I doubt we would win 10 games,” Beane said. “Eric Washington (defensive line) is the only new coaching addition. All three coordinators, (head coach) Sean (McDermott), myself, that will help us. These are uncertain times for us all. Some teams have a whole new staff, whole new regime. I think they are more behind the eight ball than we are behind (at) this point.”

With Brady out of New England, the Bills’ opportunity to finally surpass the Patriots in the division seems ripe. That’s not the thinking in Orchard Park. The playoff berth, the growth of Allen and other players, the additions of Diggs and defensive end Mario Addison and a strong draft mean nothing right now.

“Internally, we are starting over,” Beane said. “We had a 10-win season last year, which is great, but the message from Sean to our players is it’s a new season — a really new season with the COVID-19. More (of the talk) comes from Tom Brady leaving. For people to bet against Bill Belichick is what I’d call not-smart gambling. He’s going to find a way. I’m sure he knows what he is doing.”

“Until one of us three knocks them off, they’re the team to beat.”

Beane also said the Dolphins and Jets look stronger, so the AFC East is not a two-team race between the Bills and Patriots.

Buffalo Bills Offseason Plans

All teams right now are staging virtual meetings and conditioning sessions. Beane said Bills players have been attending, attentive and eager. It’s hard to know exactly how players are handling things. But the GM said that McDermott and the coaches aren’t just talking football with players.

There have been real-life discussions, guest speakers and follow-up calls just to make sure guys are doing OK and/or if their wives and kids are good. That leadership is hitting home, literally. This gives Beane optimism that whenever guys get back together, they’ll be united and ready to roll.

“Sean’s message has been to find a way,” Beane said.

This article was first published by NFL.com.

Brady and Manning to Face Off in Charity golf match

Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, Phil Mickelson, and Peyton Manning are playing together in a charity golf event

Andy Dalton Signs with the Cowboys

Andy Dalton shakes hands with Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys

Andy Dalton is returning home.

Dalton was released by the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday. He agreed to a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys, the team announced Saturday. The quarterback’s deal has a base value of $3 million and could be worth up to $7 million, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Andy Dalton signs with the Dallas Cowboys

Before being selected by the Bengals in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft, Dalton played at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas. He lives in Dallas and will not have to move his family during an offseason. This was critical with the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Andy Dalton quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals looks off after a game

Many assumed Dalton, 32, would be in position to find a spot with a less secure starter than Dak Prescott, such as the Jacksonville Jaguars or New England Patriots, but he opted to remain close to home.

Cincinnati drafted LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick last week, making Dalton expendable. Dalton was set to earn $17.7 million in the final season of a six-year, $96 million contract.

Andy Dalton’s career in Cincinnati

In nine seasons with the Bengals, Dalton had a 70-61-2 record and helped them reach the postseason in each of his first five seasons, but he was unable to win a playoff game. He holds the franchise record for touchdown passes with 204 and is second in passing yards (31,594), but he was benched after an 0-8 start to the 2019 season.

He returned to the starting spot for the final five games and recorded both of Cincinnati’s victories. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Dalton’s 40.1 Total QBR in 2019 ranked 27th out of 30 qualifying quarterbacks.

Dalton thanked Cincinnati in an Instagram post on Sunday, writing: “Thank you Cincinnati for the past 9 years. There are countless memories that will be with me forever. I am thankful for the friendships, my teammates, coaches, and the organization. Y’all pushed me to be a better everyday. Thank you to the Cincinnati community for supporting the @[AJD Foundation]. We could not have made the impact we did without y’all. Thank you [JJ Dalton, his wife] for always supporting me and being by my side every step of the way. I am blessed that we are on this journey together. We will always cherish our time in Cincinnati. Who Dey!”

Andy Dalton throwing for the Cincinnati Bengals

Cowboys signed Andy Dalton for depth

The addition of Dalton should not affect the Cowboys’ feelings toward Prescott, who was given the exclusive franchise tag in March at a cost of $31.4 million. The Cowboys have wanted to sign Prescott to a multiyear contract since last offseason but have not been able to come to terms on a deal that would make him one of the highest-paid — if not the highest-paid — quarterbacks in the NFL.

Prescott, 26, has not missed a game in his career, but the Cowboys viewed the opportunity to add Dalton as too good to pass up. Cooper Rush has served as Prescott’s backup the past three seasons, but he has thrown just three passes.

The Cowboys also have quarterbacks Clayton Thorson, who spent last season on the practice squad, and Ben DiNucci as well. The Cowboys took DiNucci in the seventh round of last week’s NFL draft.

Dalton is a three-time Pro Bowler, and Prescott has made it twice in his four seasons. The only other NFL team with multiple quarterbacks who have each made multiple Pro Bowls is the Falcons; starter Matt Ryan has made four Pro Bowls, and Matt Schaub has made two. The Saints, Ravens and Bears also each have multiple quarterbacks who have made it at least once.

This article was first published by ESPN.

Legendary coach Don Shula dies at 90

Don Shula talking to a referee while coaching for the Miami Dolphins

Don Shula coached 33 seasons in the NFL. He had two losing teams.

That’s just one remarkable feat from Shula, whose 347 wins are a record for an NFL coach. The coach of the only perfect team in NFL history, Don Shula dies Monday at age 90.

Picking one Shula accomplishment over another is hard, but it’s probably safe to start with his 1972 Miami Dolphins.

Don Shula guides perfect 1972 Dolphins

Don Shula stand with President Obama along with the 1972 undefeated Miami Dolphins team

The Dolphins finished that season with a perfect record, the only undefeated and untied NFL champion in the league’s history. It took 35 more years before the second undefeated regular season in the Super Bowl era, when the 2007 New England Patriots did it.

The Dolphins had the first perfect season in NFL history despite needing backup quarterback Earl Morrall to start nine regular-season and two playoff games after Hall of Fame starter Bob Griese broke his ankle. That the Dolphins kept winning with its Hall of Fame quarterback sidelined is a testament to Shula’s steady leadership.

The next season, the Dolphins weren’t perfect but they were champions again. Miami went 12-2 and beat the Minnesota Vikings 24-7 in Super Bowl VIII.

Shula was a consistent winner

If there’s one criticism of Shula, it’s that he fell short more often than not in the Super Bowl.

Shula’s Baltimore Colts lost to the New York Jets in a monumental Super Bowl III upset. Shula’s Dolphins made it back to the Super Bowl at the end of the 1982 and 1984 seasons, but lost both times. Super Bowl VII and VIII were Shula’s only Super Bowl championships.

Don Shula Coaching Stats

But Shula’s consistent winning defined him. He won 16 division titles and finished 172 games over .500 in regular-season play. He holds another NFL record with 19 playoff appearances as a head coach. His only losing seasons were a 6-8 mark in 1976 and a 6-10 mark in 1988. That’s an unbelievable stretch of consistency.

Dolphins legendary coach Don Shula dies at age 90

Shula also changed with the times. Shula’s great 1972 team passed just 259 times in 14 regular-season games and had just 264 net passing yards in three playoff games as it relied on a great running game and a standout defense. When Shula went back to the Super Bowl at the end of the 1984 season, it was with second-year quarterback Dan Marino, who set records with 5,084 passing yards and 48 touchdowns that season.

Don Shula dies

Shula retired after the 1995 season. After a blowout playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills, Shula was told to make sweeping changes to his coaching staff. He refused. That ended a legendary coaching career.

Shula’s old-school leadership was one reason he was so highly regarded long after he retired from coaching. He was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year in 1993, the only pro coach to ever get that honor. His name was attached to a successful chain of steakhouses long after he coached his last NFL game.

Shula, who also played seven NFL seasons as a defensive back for the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Colts and Washington Redskins, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.

This article was first published by Yahoo.