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Sources — New Orleans Saints face significant discipline over videos of locker room celebration

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The New Orleans Saints are facing significant discipline for not wearing masks during their postgame celebrations last Sunday night — as seen in videos they posted to social media, including the team’s own Twitter account — after their victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, league sources tell ESPN.

Video of Saints players and head coach Sean Payton dancing and celebrating their 38-3 vctory over Tampa Bay went viral last Sunday nght. Multiple players were clearly not wearing masks during the celebration in the locker room, which is a violation of the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols — and the league noticed, according to sources.

The Saints are facing stiff fines and the loss of a draft pick, similar to the action the NFL took against the Raiders earlier this month, when Las Vegas was fined $500,000, head coach Jon Gruden was fined $150,000 and the franchise was stripped of a sixth-round pick for COVID-19 protocol violations.

Discipline is expected to be handed down to the Saints this upcoming week, according to a source, though the NFL and the Saints’ legal team spent previous days discussing the issue.

One issue the league is focused on, according to sources, is that like Gruden and the Raiders, Payton and the Saints are repeat offenders. Payton was fined $100,000 and the Saints $250,000 because Payton was not wearing a mask during New Orleans’ Week 2 loss in Las Vegas. NFL discipline almost always is more severe for repeat offenders.

Conversations between the Saints and the NFL will continue, according to sources, but the locker-room celebration video was there for everyone to see. Payton, linebacker Demario Davis and quarterback Jameis Winston, who made his season debut in the victory over his former team, were among those seen dancing and celebrating in the video posted to Instagram by receiver Tre’Quan Smith.

Davis and CJ Gardner-Johnson also posted videos of the postgame dancing and celebrating on social media. The Saints no longer have any videos of the locker toom celebration on their official Twitter account.

The Saints, who have won five games in a row, handed Tom Brady the worst loss of his career while delivering one of the most convincing wins in the Payton-Drew Brees era. The victory was so thorough that Winston made his Saints debut as Brees’ backup, completing his only pass for 12 yards while running out the clock over the final six minutes.

Winston flashed his trademark “Eating a W” sign multiple times after the game, both during Brees’ postgame interview and during the locker-room celebration.



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FAQ: How will the Detroit Lions’ GM and coaching search go? Whither Matthew Stafford? – Detroit Lions Blog

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The Detroit Lions are headed toward another regime change after the club fired general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia on Saturday, once again moving toward a rebuild for a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game since the 1991 season, a divisional title since the 1993 season and has yet to go to a Super Bowl.

It’s being led by an owner in her role for less than half a year, Sheila Ford Hamp, and team president Rod Wood, who had no significant football experience when he took over the job in 2015. So what will they do to try to ensure this attempt at finally getting things right for the Lions will go differently than the many other attempts to fix things?

Here’s an attempt to explain what happened in the past few hours, what it means and where Detroit might turn next.

So how did the Lions get here?

Well, mistakes have been made. Many mistakes. Hamp even acknowledged that — going further back than just the Bob Quinn-Matt Patricia era. She acknowledged her parents were not perfect owners and she is trying to make different decisions.

“Hindsight is 20-20. Yes, mistakes have been made. I’ll be the first one to admit when I’m making mistakes, too,” Hamp said. “I’ll look at that, but I really would rather look forward and try to really dig into what’s in front of me and make this hopefully a home run for us. But it’s going to be a lot of work. Rod [Wood] and I are rolling up our sleeves already and we’re going to get to work immediately.”

Before looking forward, though, an acknowledgment of how Detroit failed to this point. The Lions fired head coach Jim Caldwell after the 2017 season and Quinn said at the time it was because Caldwell hadn’t beaten the good teams on the schedule and he was looking at finding a coach to take Detroit to the next level.

To do that, he hired Matt Patricia. Patricia promptly took this team and made it worse than it was when he took over, alienating team leaders, trading away good players and stubbornly sticking to a system that just wasn’t working. Which, Hamp admitted, ended up not working for Detroit.

“Things were not going well; it was not what we wanted,” Hamp said. “We were hoping to be playoff bound — I guess we still have a slight mathematical chance. But things were just not seeming to go in the right way.”

So what happens immediately?

Darrell Bevell is the team’s interim head coach the rest of the season. It’s unclear, as of yet, if he’ll still call offensive plays or if that responsibility will get handed over to another assistant. A combination of Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle O’Brien, Director of Player Personnel Lance Newmark, Director of Pro Scouting Rob Lohman and Vice President of Football Administration Mike Disner will handle general manager duties and report to team president Wood.

Hamp said there are no designs on changing Wood’s role with the Lions, but they could be shifting some things in the “organizational chart” as part of their complete deep dive into what needs to happen to make Detroit a winner.

Hamp said she expects the team to compete in the last five games under Bevell — something she told the players when she met with them virtually Saturday. Players were not made available Saturday, but this is going to be a major conversation point the entire week — and Wood deemed the meeting “very positive” when players spoke up.

The shakeup also likely means no major deals are getting done — read: Kenny Golladay — until a new staff is in place considering there’s currently a patchwork group of front-office people who might or might not be around next season, depending on what the new general manager wants to do.

It also frees up Hamp and Wood, who will be leading Detroit’s search for a new regime, to conduct things a bit more openly than any behind-the-scenes work they might have had to do in the past.

Unless Detroit has its eyes on people not involved in the NFL at the moment, it also means interviews and hires aren’t going to be made until after the regular season ends.

How will Hamp and Wood approach the search?

Hamp said the Lions will have “an extremely thorough and comprehensive search.” What will that look like?

Hamp would not limit the type of candidate Detroit is looking at for either general manager or head coach, admitting there were probably more media questions than she had answers for at the moment. Wood said they have yet to engage a search firm, but Hamp said they are open to it.

She said they would be open to college or professional coaches in their search. Hamp indicated “we have some ideas on what we’re looking for,” but said those weren’t clearly defined at this point.

The Lions will be required to interview diverse candidates due to requirements from the NFL, but don’t be surprised if they do more than the bare minimum.

“We will follow the Rooney Rule not only in its spirit,” Wood said, “but beyond that as we search for our candidates.”

Back in June, Hamp said she would support her team signing Colin Kaepernick if it was what the general manager and head coach wanted to do. She also arranged for Henry Louis Gates Jr., a college classmate of hers and the director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard, to speak to the team in August. She also provided all of the Lions with Gates’ latest book, “Stony The Road,” to read.

In other words, she takes diversity very seriously.

The Lions also will be open to different organizational structures — meaning the traditional general manager-head coach structure or something more creative or singular — again offering them flexibility with various candidates.

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Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp explains what led to the decision to fire head coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn.

Before they made the change, Hamp said the franchise did “a thorough financial study of things and think we’re prepared to handle whatever we need to handle” considering the nation is in the middle of a pandemic. You can read this as, yes, the Lions will pay what they need to pay for a general manager and head coach even though Patricia and Quinn had contracts until 2022.

Stafford’s contract is up after 2022, which means the Lions are entering long-term-extension-or-what’s-next territory here. Stafford will be 33 next season, so it could be time for a split between the team and the best quarterback it has had in the Super Bowl era.

Hamp praised Stafford, calling him “tough as nails” and admitting “it’s been tough for him.”

Hamp was asked about Stafford and his future Saturday and punted on the question — smart because the decision on his future should be in the hands of the next general manager and head coach.

“Since I’m not the coach, I’m probably not the right person to ask that question to,” Hamp said. “So, we’ll see what the new coach has to say.”

If the new regime wants to start with a younger signal-caller, fans should savor the last five games with Stafford, who has done everything right off the field and been a really good player on the field for Detroit for over the past decade-plus.

“I want to do the right thing by this organization and that’s the bottom line,” Hamp said. “Hoped that this season would have been played out differently, but it hasn’t. It just felt like now is the time to make the change and to really begin to look forward.”

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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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