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Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff vows to do better after loss, criticism

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Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff appears to be taking in stride the rare public criticism coach Sean McVay delivered following a Week 12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

“If he was lying I’d feel differently about it, he’s absolutely right,” Goff said Wednesday after practice. “I’m a big boy, I can handle it.”

In the immediate aftermath of a disappointing 23-20 loss to Rams’ division rival, McVay bluntly stated, “Our quarterback has got to take better care of the football.”

A day later, McVay acknowledged that his decision to call out Goff publicly — a departure from his typical move of assuming any blame — “was a little bit different,” but the coach added that his QB had “broad shoulders to be able to handle it.”

“We have a great relationship and I’m accountable for myself,” said Goff, who is in his fourth season with McVay.

Goff was 19 of 31 for 198 yards against the 49ers, who beat the Rams for a fourth straight time. He also had three turnovers, including two interceptions — one of which was returned 27 yards for a touchdown, and a lost fumble.

“I need to be better than that, I need to take care of the football and he’s absolutely right, and I will,” said Goff, who has four seasons remaining on a contract extension that guarantees $110 million. “I have done that for the majority of my football career and will continue to take care of the football better.”

Goff added that disappointment from the loss, the Rams’ first at SoFi Stadium, lingered long after the game.

“For the 24 hours after it, I was not in a happy place, for sure, really was disappointed in myself,” Goff said. “But you move on.”

The Rams are 7-4 and remain in the hunt to win the NFC West as they prepare to play the 6-5 Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at State Farm Stadium. The Rams are 6-0 against the Cardinals since McVay took over as coach in 2017.

This season, Goff has completed 67.2% of his passes (15th in the NFL) and has passed for 16 touchdowns (17th). Goff also has lost 14 turnovers (10 interceptions, four fumbles), which ties him with Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins for the second-most in the NFL. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has lost 18 turnovers, the most in the league.

Goff vowed Wednesday to eliminate his turnovers moving forward.

“I’ve always been confident, been able to overcome mistakes, but at the same time, I don’t want to keep sitting here and saying that I need to take care of the ball better,” Goff said. “I’ll just be smarter with it, make better decisions.”

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TE Greg Olsen retires from NFL, will join Fox Sports as broadcaster

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Three-time Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen announced before Sunday’s NFC Championship Game that he plans to retire and join Fox Sports’ NFL coverage.

Olsen spent the 2021 season with the Seattle Seahawks after nine years with the Carolina Panthers, where he became the first tight end in NFL history to have three straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons from 2014 to ’16.

The Panthers released Olsen, 35, during the 2020 offseason under new coach Matt Rhule. He signed a one-year, $6.6 million deal with Seattle in February.

In July, Olsen signed a deal to be Fox Sports’ No. 2 NFL television analyst, paired with Kevin Burkhardt, after he retires.

“Proud of what I was able to accomplish in this league, proud of the relationships and everything that the game has given me,” Olsen said during Fox Sports’ pregame show. “But sometimes, when it’s time, it’s time, and my time in the NFL now has come to an end. I’m excited for the next chapter. … I’ve got it all out of my system.”

He was saluted on Twitter by both the Panthers and Seahawks after he made his announcement.

Olsen played this past season with Seattle in hopes of achieving the one thing he felt was missing in his 14-year career: a Super Bowl title.

That didn’t go as planned. He caught 24 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown in 11 regular-season games and was held without a catch on eight snaps in Seattle’s wild-card loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Olsen spent four weeks on injured reserve with a torn plantar fascia — a foot injury he had suffered at Carolina — then missed the Seahawks’ regular-season finale after returning in Week 16.

After injuring his foot in Week 11, Olsen posted a picture of himself limping off the field and vowed that would not be the way his NFL career ended.

Olsen posted the following message on social media after announcing his retirement:

“To the countless teammates, coaches, and staff members in Chicago, Seattle, and especially Carolina, I thank you. You molded and shaped me into the player and person I am today. …

“I try to not look back and have regrets. I have so much I am proud of over my career. But as I look back on my career, I have two. I regret never reaching the top of the mountain. I regret walking off the field under the weight of confetti, but realizing our dream came up short. …

“Life doesn’t always go as planned, but it was a great ride.”

Olsen finished as Carolina’s all-time leader in receiving yards (6,463), receptions (524) and 100-yard receiving games (10) by a tight end. His 60 touchdown catches rank eighth among all NFL tight ends.

Drafted by the Chicago Bears with the 31st overall draft pick in 2007 out of the University of Miami, Olsen was traded to the Panthers in 2011.

ESPN’s Brady Henderson contributed to this report.



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Packers’ gaffe allows 39-yard TD for Bucs’ Scotty Miller with :01 before half

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have taken a four-point game and turned it into an 11-point game at halftime against the Green Bay Packers with quarterback Tom Brady airing it out to Scotty Miller for a stunning 39-yard touchdown to make it 21-10 Bucs.

Miller reached 20.6 miles per hour on the play as he outran Kevin King with 8 seconds left on the clock. Just one play before, the Bucs converted on fourth-and-4, on a short pass to Leonard Fournette.

In the first half, Brady completed 13-of-22 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns, with Fournette spinning his way to a third on the ground. Brady was particularly effective on the deep ball, going 2-of-2 on throws 30-plus yards downfield in the first half, tying him for most such completions in a game all season. He was 0-of-2 on those throws in the Buccaneers’ first two playoff games combined, according to ESPN Statistics & Information.

There was plenty of swift reaction from social media on the Packers’ defensive lapse.

Meanwhile, on the Bucs’ first drive of the game, Brady connected with Mike Evans twice on the opening drive to give the Bucs an early 7-0 lead. Brady hit Evans for a 27-yard catch on a corner route working against Chandon Sullivan on third-and-4.

Evans then leaped up in the end zone working against Kevin King for a 15-yard touchdown grab.

A win today would send Brady to his 10th Super Bowl and the Bucs to their second.



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Return of Jets owner adds more intrigue to Texans’ Deshaun Watson drama – New York Jets Blog

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:

1. Impatient boss? A lot of folks might be wondering how Woody Johnson’s return to the team will impact the product on the field. Fair question. During his first 17 years as acting owner (2000-16), a period in which the Jets made the playoffs in six of the first 10 years, Johnson developed an affinity for making splashy moves.

Brett Favre. Tim Tebow. Darrelle Revis 2.0.

(P.S.: None of them worked out, but they sure generated plenty of buzz.)

People who have worked for Johnson say he loves big names, especially at the quarterback position. There’s a pretty big name who could become available via trade this offseason, if he’s not already — Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans. I could see Johnson, 73, who missed the past four seasons while serving as former president Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, wanting to deliver a “statement” move to raise the franchise’s visibility.

The Jets should absolutely make a run at the disgruntled star, but this isn’t a simple case of see-quarterback, get-quarterback. The competition will be fierce, although the Jets have the most draft capital to offer. Watson would have to waive his no-trade clause to play for the Jets, but he reportedly is a Robert Saleh fan. So maybe there’s hope. Watson’s preferred destination is the Jets, according to a Miami Herald report that says the Jets are his top choice because of Saleh.

Presumably, Johnson will let his football people make the decision, but his return to the role of principal owner with final say on all matters certainly adds more intrigue to what should be a fascinating storyline this offseason.

2. Darnold in limbo: Saleh’s effusive praise of Sam Darnold might lead some to believe Darnold is a lock to be back as the starting quarterback. While I know Saleh’s feelings are genuine — he thinks he can win with him — it’s premature to draw that conclusion.

Frankly, it would be foolish for the Jets to tip their hand at this point, considering the number of factors that will be considered — Darnold’s contract (one year left), the 2021 NFL draft (No. 2 pick) and perhaps the Watson situation. ‘Tis the season for posturing. We might not know the truth until April 29, the first night of the draft.

3. Bells and whistles: Whether it’s Darnold or another quarterback, fans won’t recognize the offense in 2021. New offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur will employ the Kyle Shanahan version of the West Coast offense, which means a lot of pre-snap motion and play-action — a radical departure from the Adam Gase system.

In 2020, the San Francisco 49ers used some form of motion on a league-high 739 plays, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Jets used motion on 369 plays (26th). The 49ers called play-action passes on 154 plays (ninth), while the Jets did it 99 times (30th).

It will be a welcome-to-the-21st-century season.

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Stephen A. Smith likes the Urban Meyer hire by the Jaguars because of the former Ohio State coach’s elite résumé.

4. Armed and ready: The Jets have three quarterbacks under contract — Darnold, James Morgan and Mike White. There’s another talented passer in the QB room.

New position coach Rob Calabrese, who played sparingly at Central Florida from 2008 to 2012, is only 30 years old. His previous team, the Denver Broncos, where he was offensive quality control coach, tried to activate him for a game against the New Orleans Saints when their quarterback depth chart was wiped out by COVID-19. In the end, the Broncos’ request was denied by the league.

This is a homecoming for Calabrese, who played at Long Island’s East Islip High School, Boomer Esiason’s alma mater.

5. Long-overdue move: The Jets made the right move by reorganizing their power structure. Instead of having the coach and general manager report directly to ownership, the setup since 2015, they reverted to the traditional chain of command. Saleh will report to general manager Joe Douglas, who reports to ownership.

The other way can work if all parties are well-established in their positions, but it got clumsy because the Jets tried it with neophytes — a first-time coach (Todd Bowles), first-time GMs (Mike Maccagnan and Douglas) and a first-time owner (Christopher Johnson, who subbed for big brother Woody).

Christopher Johnson downplayed the change, claiming the old system worked fine. Huh? Did he forget how Gase exerted his power to get Maccagnan ousted in 2019?

The new structure is a win for Douglas, who gets more power after nearly two years on the job. Clearly, he has captured the trust of the Johnson family. It’s a pivotal year for Douglas. He picked the coach, and now he has to pick the quarterback. What happens this offseason will ultimately determine his legacy.

6. Coach Brick: New defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich comes to the Jets with playcalling experience. In 2019, he was a de facto coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons when coach Dan Quinn ceded the playcalling duties to him at midseason. Actually, Ulbrich called first and second down, Raheem Morris handled third down. The defense played well over the second half of the ’19 season.

In 2020, Ulbrich became the full-time playcaller in Week 6, when Morris was elevated to replace Quinn. The Falcons didn’t have much talent on defense, but they played well for Ulbrich, whose unit allowed more than 27 points in two of 11 games — both to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Wisely, Saleh will let Ulbrich call the plays, which will allow him to focus on the big picture.

7. Free-agent target: Remember this name — Keanu Neal. I’d be surprised if the Jets don’t show interest in the Falcons’ safety, a 2016 first-round pick who knows Ulbrich and knows the system. He’d be the ideal complement to Marcus Maye (also a free agent). In fact, Neal and Maye were a college safety tandem at Florida.

Asked about Maye, Saleh said he hasn’t had a chance to study him closely, but he has heard nothing but good things about him from Douglas.

8. Q factor: Saleh is very high on defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who should thrive in his 4-3 front.

“I absolutely love Quinnen,” Saleh said. “[I’m] really excited to get the seat belt off his harness and let him go. … His mindset, his athleticism, his power, his love for football, I’m really, really excited to see him in our system, especially up front and the way we design with that attack style.”

In Saleh’s system, the defensive linemen are asked to play vertically, meaning their job is to get upfield as quickly as possible — ideal for Williams’ skill set. He could become the Jets’ version of DeForest Buckner or, going back to Saleh’s Seattle Seahawks days, Michael Bennett.

9. Did you know? Saleh and his wife, Sanaa, have six children. Their ages are 10, 8, 7, 5, 3 and 1. A seventh child is due in April.

9a. Did you know, part II? Since 2000, four quarterbacks drafted in the first seven picks made a conference championship game within his first three seasons — Mark Sanchez (Jets), Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts), Jared Goff (Los Angeles Rams) and Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills), who plays Sunday.

Only one did it twice — Sanchez.

10. The last word: “It could flip tomorrow. It could flip whenever. One thing I know is, we’re going to win championships.” — Saleh on how long it will take for the Jets to contend (via The Michael Kay Show on ESPN New York 98.7 FM).



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