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John Ross of Cincinnati Bengals eager to play, wants out if he can’t

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CINCINNATI — Bengals wide receiver John Ross opened up about his role and uncertain future in Cincinnati on Friday.

Ross, who has not played in three of the team’s past four games as his role has diminished, rebuffed a report that suggested a team source wasn’t sure if the speedy receiver still liked football.

“Trade me if this (is) how y’all feel,” the Bengals’ 2017 first-round pick wrote on Twitter on Friday. “I’m healthy and eager to play. I know I can be productive. It’s hard to love something when your (sic) not actually participating in it.

“Believe me, its (sic) not football that I don’t like.”

The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday.

Ross’ lone offensive numbers this year are the two catches for 17 yards he had in the season-opening loss against the Los Angeles Chargers. He is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans (5-1) with an undisclosed illness.

Ross was a full participant at Wednesday’s practice before he missed the next two days and was not present. The receiver has been listed with an illness on three separate occasions this season. They have all occurred after he was healthy scratch for Weeks 3 and 4. Ross has not met with media since the start of the regular season.

When asked Friday about the Ross’ injury designation for this weekend, coach Zac Taylor said Ross was dealing with stomach issues.

“He’s sick,” Taylor said. “His stomach bothers him. It is what it is. He’s listed with [an] illness, and he’s trying to work through it.”

Ross, a former standout at the University of Washington, has struggled to find his footing in four seasons with the Bengals. Between injuries and an inability to crack the rotation, Ross has appeared in just 27 games with Cincinnati.

Last year, Ross had his best start to a season before he injured his sternoclavicular joint and was placed on injured reserve for eight games. He still finished 2019 with 28 catches for 506 yards, both of which were career highs. Cincinnati declined to pick up the fifth-year option on Ross’ rookie contract.

When reports surfaced of Ross’ trade request, Taylor declined to get into the details of the situation but said he had spoken to the receiver.

“I think anytime players aren’t playing they get frustrated,” Taylor said Oct. 21. “He’s handled his business the right way around here.”



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Sam Darnold regresses in return as winless Jets continue to spiral – New York Jets Blog

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — With quarterback Sam Darnold back in the lineup, the New York Jets played their worst game in a month — and that’s saying something. Only one conclusion can be drawn after the latest horror show, a 20-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at MetLife Stadium: The Darnold-Adam Gase marriage, a total failure, soon will be annulled.

Darnold could be traded after the season and Gase almost certainly will be fired. It’s only a matter of when. Where’s the hope? Whether Gase is calling the plays or letting his sidekick Dowell Loggains do the honors (Sunday was a combo platter) — the Jets play offense as if the field is 150 yards long and slightly uphill.

Back from a two-game shoulder injury, Darnold got his first chance to play with the starting three wide receivers, but he threw two interceptions and failed to capitalize on great field position in the second half. In short, he didn’t look any better with his so-called weapons on the field than he did without them, which is alarming to the organization.

It’s fair to wonder if the front office will look to replace Darnold regardless of 2021 NFL draft position. Whether they have the first, second or third pick, the organization must take a hard look at the alternatives because Darnold has regressed in his third season.

Gase had hoped the combination of Darnold and the three receivers would ignite the offense, showing everyone — including team ownership — what it could have been like if everyone had been healthy for the first two months.

If Gase is hoping for a reprieve, he’s failing. In 27 games, the offense — his offense — has shown no improvement. The Jets have been held under 20 points in 18 of those 27 games. That would have been acceptable in the 1940s but not the modern NFL.

“It’s frustrating because I feel like we’re right there,” said Gase, stretching reality. “We’ve got to make one or two plays, especially this last game. It’s right there for us. There’s been multiple games like that.”

In two games against Miami, Gase’s previous team, the Jets were outscored 44-3. Just awful.

Describing the game in two words: Trevor Lawrence. At 0-11, the Jets remain in the pole position for the No. 1 pick in the draft, which projects to be the Clemson quarterback. The Jets became the 18th team in NFL history to start 0-11.

QB breakdown: Give Darnold credit for rushing back to play in a hopeless season, but this is a performance-based business — and the performance wasn’t good. His numbers weren’t terrible (16-for-27, 197 yards), but he failed to throw a touchdown pass in his fourth straight game — the team’s longest drought since Geno Smith (five games) in 2013. The Dolphins must be inside Darnold’s head. He dropped to 1-5 against them, with four touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Let’s be honest: The Jets looked better with Joe Flacco than Darnold, whose 2020 totals are damning: three touchdown passes, eight interceptions.

Troubling trend: Gase’s reliance on running back Frank Gore reached new heights — or lows, depending on your perspective. Without injured backup La’Mical Perine, the 37-year-old Gore became the workhorse and the focal point of the Jets’ offense, especially in the first half. What’s wrong with that picture? Gore finished with 21 touches, including 18 carries for 74 yards. It’s amazing he didn’t need oxygen in the second half.

Pivotal play: Early in the fourth quarter, on a fourth-and-1 from the Miami 17, Gore was stuffed on an utterly unimaginative run into the teeth of the Miami defense. Bad playcall, bad execution.

Silver lining: Things look bleak for the Jets, but they do have a couple of young players who can help the rebuild. Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (one sack, one forced fumble) continued his strong season, and rookie wide receiver Denzel Mims (four catches for 67 yards) turned in another encouraging performance. Hey, it’s something.

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Falcons 4-2 under interim coach Raheem Morris after drubbing Raiders – Atlanta Falcons Blog

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ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons continued to look improved in coach Raheem Morris’ interim regime with a 43-6 win over the Las Vegas Raiders at home.

The Falcons’ defense played with a different spark in their best effort of the year. Foyesade Oluokun forced the first turnover with a strip sack of Derek Carr and the defense never looked back, collecting five turnovers and five sacks on the day.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden eventually pulled Carr for Nathan Peterman with the Raiders down 40-6 with 10:48 left in the fourth quarter. The Falcons have to be happy with the effort going against a Raiders team that went down to the wire with the Chiefs just a week before.

Offensively, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan completed 22 of 39 pass attempts for 185 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

The Falcons started the season 0-5 but are 4-2 since Dan Quinn was fired. At this point, Raheem Morris’ candidacy to permanently replace Quinn has to be seriously considered if the defense is able to keep playing at or near this level. If the offense plays well when healthy, the decision becomes even easier.

Buy Jacob Tuioti-Mariner’s breakout performance: Tuioti-Mariner was initially part of the Falcons’ plans for depth on the defensive line coming into 2020 but showed he could contribute against the Raiders. It certainly helps when the defense is playing with more energy, but Tuioti-Mariner seemed to be in the right place at the right time more often than not Sunday.

Tuioti-Mariner recovered Oluokun’s forced fumble in the first quarter, and ended up forcing his own and recovering it with 1:02 left in the second quarter. Tuioti-Mariner was an undrafted free agent and played in a reserve role in 2019, but the Falcons have gotten solid production with UDFAs in recent years. He proved he can be another success story in that same way.

“Jacob was all over the place … it felt like he was everywhere,” Morris said after the game. “He plays special teams, he makes tackles for us, I can’t say enough good things about what Jacob was able to do for us just because of where he’s come from.”

The offense was stagnant: Julio Jones and Todd Gurley were both inactive for the Falcons, so that’s something to take into account when evaluating the offense Sunday.

The Falcons’ defensive performance may have made the offense’s inconsistency a little less noticeable, but they never quite got into a flow until after the game was well out of hand. Missing one of the best wide receivers in football and your starting running back doesn’t help, but the problem isn’t particularly new.

The improvements in Morris’ interim tenure have been good, but there’s room to further evaluate the situation on offense.

Pivotal play: The Falcons have been a social media punching bag this season because of blown leads, and it felt the Raiders might add to that narrative. The Falcons led 16-3, and were punting from their own 16-yard line early in the third quarter. Sterling Hofrichter’s punt was tipped and went just 20 yards, giving the Raiders the ball at the Falcons’ 36-yard line.

Two plays later, Deion Jones collected the Falcons’ third takeaway, picking off a Carr pass and taking it back 67 yards for a touchdown to make it a 23-3 Falcons lead. It was Jones’ fifth pick-six of his career, breaking a tie with Ravens CB Marcus Peters for the most of any player since 2016.

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Why the Jaguars have the most attractive GM opening in the NFL – Jacksonville Jaguars Blog

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars have been one of the NFL’s worst franchises over the past decade.

They’ve lost 10 or more games nine times.

They’ve had six top-five draft picks and picked in the top 10 every year but one.

They have had one winning season since 2007.

Yet despite all of that — and many more issues — it is an extremely attractive opening for general manager candidates after the Jaguars fired Dave Caldwell on Sunday. It’s likely the most attractive in the league this year.

The Jaguars have two first-round picks, two second-round picks and two fourth-round picks in 2021. If they pick in the top five — and the ESPN Football Power Index had them at a 97.5% chance of doing so heading into Sunday’s loss to Cleveland — they’ll own four of the top 37 picks next spring.

The Jaguars (1-10) are battling the 0-11 New York Jets for the first overall pick, with the prize being Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Even if they miss out on No. 1, the consolation prize could be Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, who would be the surefire No. 1 QB in the draft if Lawrence weren’t available.

There are some young, foundational players already on the roster in running back James Robinson, receivers DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault, defensive end Josh Allen, defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton, linebacker Myles Jack, and cornerback C.J. Henderson. There are definite holes to fill — the Jaguars need another pass-rusher, a pass-catching tight end, additional bulk on the defensive line and another corner and safety — but they can address a lot of that with their 12 picks in 2021.

Though there has been no official cap number released for next year ($175 million and $190 million have been mentioned as possibilities), the Jaguars currently have the third-most space available in 2020, per OverTheCap.com at $59.1 million. The only two teams that have more are Indianapolis and New England.

Plus, the new GM will be working for an owner with an incredible amount of patience. Shad Khan let former head coach Gus Bradley go 14-48 before firing him and gave the recently fired GM Dave Caldwell three chances at the QB apple: He drafted Blake Bortles No. 3 overall in 2014, signed Bortles to an extension, and signed Nick Foles to the most guaranteed money in franchise history ($50.125 million). The Jaguars lost 10 or more games in all but one of Caldwell’s eight seasons and his record at the time of his firing was 37-86 (39-87 if you include the playoffs).

And there’s the always ubiquitous “Florida has no state income tax and great weather” factor.

Compare it to the other current openings:

Atlanta: There is an established quarterback (Matt Ryan) and big-time talent at receiver (Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley). But Ryan and Jones are near the end of their careers and have big contract numbers (Ryan’s deal essentially makes him untradeable in 2021) and they’re not long-term foundational pieces. Per OTC, the Falcons are either $44 million or $98 million over the 2021 cap, depending on whether it’s a $175 million or $190 million cap.

Houston: The Texans have a young franchise QB in Deshaun Watson, but former coach/GM Bill O’Brien traded away draft picks to acquire OT Laremy Tunsil and WR Kenny Stills (who was released over the weekend) and don’t have a first- or second-round pick in 2021. It’s hard to win quickly without being able to add elite talent. Per OTC, the Texans are $8 million over, or have $6 million, in cap space.

Detroit: The Lions also have an established quarterback with Matthew Stafford, but the defense needs a complete rebuild and there’s not exactly a list of big-time playmakers there. Plus, Stafford turns 33 in February and has two years remaining on his contract, though it’s not as bad financially to get out of it as the Falcons with Ryan. Per OTC, the Lions have $13/$28 million in cap space in 2021.

No GM job is a bad one. There are only 32 of them. This is one of the rare times that the Jaguars should have an advantage over other teams.

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