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Friday, October 18, 2019

Stories by Grey Papke:

Jarvis Landry hints team chemistry is an issue for Browns

Jarvis Landry

The Cleveland Browns have been one of the big disappointments of the NFL season so far, and they fell to 2-4 with Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Wide receiver Jarvis Landry is trying to motivate the team to do better, but by his comments, he indicated that the team may be having some internal issues that are causing the talent to fail to come together as it should.

Despite a lot of offseason moves that generated significant buzz, the Browns have not done anywhere near as well as expected. Some of those acquisitions haven’t fit in and are already frustrated with their role. Returning players like Baker Mayfield who were expected to progress have not done so as expected.

Bringing in that much talent is exciting on paper, but it’s sometimes harder to get it to fit together in practice while bedding in all the new personalities. The Browns seem to be finding that out, and having a rookie head coach in Freddie Kitchens might not be very helpful, either.

Benjamin Watson reportedly likely to return to Patriots

Ben Watson

A week after declining to add tight end Benjamin Watson to their roster, the New England Patriots have changed their minds.

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Patriots are expected to re-sign Watson for tight end depth after ending his time with the team a week ago.

In his prime, Watson was an excellent pass-catching tight end. As recently as 2018 he had 400 yard receiving and two touchdowns on the season. He had tested positive for a banned substance, leading to a four-game suspension, before the Patriots opted against keeping him around, at least temporarily.

Since Rob Gronkowski’s retirement, New England has needed some help at the position. Though it took an about-face to make it happen, the Patriots are apparently still holding out some hope that the 38-year-old could offer a boost.

Keenan Allen does not seem pleased with state of Chargers

Keenan Allen

The Los Angeles Chargers have been one of the NFL’s most disappointing teams in the early going of 2019, and some frustration is starting to show.

The Chargers fell behind 24-0 Sunday night before a fourth quarter rally ultimately fell short and the team lost 24-17. That dropped the team to a disappointing 2-4 season.

One rather innocent tweet made light of how the Chargers seem to play the same game fairly often, which seemed to be a reference to their perceived habit of losing games to inferior teams while favored.

Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen simply retweeted the tweet and added a two-word response: “S–t sad.”

The Steelers held Allen to just two catches for 33 yards, and he’s cooled down after a hot start to the season. That, combined with the team’s record, is an easy explanation for the mounting frustration. Maybe he’s annoyed with being credited for waking up a star Denver cornerback, too.

Saquon Barkley participates in individual drills, could return Sunday

Saquon Barkley Giants

It’s too early to say for sure, but this could be the week for New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley.

Barkley participated in individual drills on Monday, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, and has a decent chance of playing Sunday when the Giants host the Arizona Cardinals.

It’s not a huge surprise considering Pat Shurmur floated the possibility of a Week 6 return before it ultimately didn’t happen. Barkley also recently posted a hype video suggesting he was on the verge of a return.

Barkley had two 100-yard games to start the season before going down with his injury in Week 3. It may take him a little time to get back up to speed, especially if the Giants don’t play him on every snap initially, but there’s no reason to think he’ll have lost a step.

Sam Darnold seemed to find the Cowboys’ defensive scheme quite predictable

Sam Darnold

The previously winless New York Jets jumped out to a big lead against the Dallas Cowboys in Sunday’s game and never looked back in grabbing their first victory of the season, and it sounds like quarterback Sam Darnold wasn’t exactly shocked.

Speaking after the game, Darnold fairly accurately described the Cowboys’ defensive scheme, adding that “they do it every single week.”

“They just kind of did what they do,” Darnold said, via Jon Machota of The Athletic. “They do it every single week. They just play one-high (safety), occasionally two-high, and they like to stop the run. I knew that I had to throw the ball today to have success, and we did that.”

Obviously, the Cowboys aren’t going to throw wild looks at opponents just for the sake of it, but it’s not exactly a great sign that Darnold seemed to know exactly what he’d face and got it. Detractors will suggest that this is evidence that coach Jason Garrett’s systems on both sides of the ball are too easy to plan and prepare for. One former player certainly thinks that, though it’s admittedly a player with an ax to grind.

10 biggest disappointments of NFL Week 6

Philip Rivers upset

Week 6 saw two winless teams finally get into the win column — though one came at the expense of another hopeless franchise. It also saw some surprising and electrifying performances, while highly-touted contenders gave fans and observers some reasons to be concerned going forward.

Who disappointed in Week 6? Here are ten letdowns.

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers

Rivers’ stats may look good on the surface — 320 passing yards and two touchdowns — but things were much worse than that on Sunday night. Rivers buried the Chargers from the start, beginning the game with a punt and consecutive turnovers deep in their territory to give the Steelers great field position. Before they knew it, the Chargers were down 14-0. The Chargers had two punts, two turnovers (one for a touchdown on a botched swing pass/lateral) and a missed field goal in the first half. After rallying the team to within a score, Rivers ended his night with an interception on an overthrow. He really did not give his team a chance to win against a vulnerable opponent.

Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers

Another week, another setback for the former No. 1 pick. Winston turned the ball over six times against Carolina on five interceptions and one lost fumble. Not every pick was entirely his fault, but it’s symptomatic of Winston’s long-term turnover problem. He absolutely has to get these things cleaned up going forward — it’s basically impossible to win a football game when you’re responsible for six turnovers, no matter what the details of them are.

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Marcus Mariota benched by Titans for Ryan Tannehill

The Tennessee Titans have seen enough of Marcus Mariota for Week 6.

Mariota was benched by the Titans in the third quarter of Sunday’s game, with Tennessee trailing the Denver Broncos 13-0. He was replaced by backup Ryan Tannehill.

There was no indication that the move was injury-related, and it appears to be simply a coaching decision by Mike Vrabel.

You can hardly blame the Titans. Deep into the third quarter, Mariota was just 7-of-18 for 63 yards. He’d thrown two interceptions as well. No matter the circumstances, those numbers are simply not good enough for an NFL starting quarterback.

This has been in the offing for quite a while. Reports indicated that Mariota’s starting job was in danger as early as the preseason. We’ll have to wait to see if he’s going to be able to get it back anytime soon.

Giancarlo Stanton out of ALCS Game 2 lineup with quad issue

Giancarlo Stanton

After an injury-riddled season, Giancarlo Stanton’s issues are extending into the postseason.

Stanton is out of the starting lineup for Game 2 of the ALCS on Sunday against the Houston Astros. Manager Aaron Boone cited a quad issue, but could not offer many details.

Obviously, this throws the rest of the ALCS into doubt for Stanton. It comes after a series of injuries that limited the outfielder to just 18 regular season games. This is simply going to be dependent on how the injured quad responds. He’ll have two days off before Game 3 in New York, and the Yankees should know more by then.