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#pounditSaturday, October 24, 2020

Football

Baker Mayfield’s wife defends quarterback with Instagram post

Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield’s wife defended her husband via an Instagram Story post.

Someone posted a photo on Instagram of the Cleveland Browns quarterback with his head down. The caption for the photo said “4 head coaches in 3 years, took over a 1-31 football team, and has the most wins at First Energy Stadium of any QB since 1999 in only 3 years. That’s my quarterback.”

Mayfield’s wife Emily posted that picture and added her own commentary.

“He’s not in an easy position,” she wrote. “And he’s grinding for this city. It takes time. Don’t send me some stupid s—.”

That’s maybe not something she needs to be posting, but she’s not wrong. Mayfield is in his third season as the Browns’ quarterback. The team got off to a 4-1 start this year but lost badly last weekend to Pittsburgh. Mayfield was playing hurt and even got benched to heal up during the blowout.

Mayfield regressed last year and needs to play better, but he is better than what the team has had recently. And yes, they need to be patient with him and the team.

Emily expressing her feelings publicly is nothing new.

Ezekiel Elliott addresses Cowboys players anonymously bashing coaches

Ezekiel Elliott

The Dallas Cowboys are trying to hold their locker room together in the wake of a report about anonymous players blasting the coaching staff, and Ezekiel Elliott is among those who are unhappy the quotes leaked out.

The Cowboys were dominated 38-10 at home on Monday night to fall to 2-4. A day after the game, NFL Network reporter Jane Slater shared some anonymous criticism of the Cowboys’ coaches that she received from players (read the report here).

Elliott told reporters on Wednesday that Cowboys players need to “look in the mirror” if they want to fix their problems. He also said he would prefer if grievances remain in house.

Cowboys veteran linebacker Sean Lee shared similar thoughts.

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy has only been with the team for six games. It’s unclear if the anonymous players were specifically referring to him, but he also addressed the report.

Despite their 2-4 record, the Cowboys remain in first place in the shockingly bad NFC East. They could conceivably reach the playoffs with six or seven wins, so they need to work hard to avoid in-fighting. Anonymously pointing fingers will not solve any of their issues.

Le’Veon Bell shares thoughts on possibly taking lesser role with Chiefs

LeVeon Bell

Le’Veon Bell chose to join arguably the most loaded offense in the NFL when he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs last week. That could mean fewer opportunities for the star running back than he is accustomed to, but Bell has no problem with that.

Bell told reporters on Wednesday that he knows there are plenty of playmakers in Kansas City and “only one football.” He understands that he won’t always be the focal point of the offense like he was when he last played for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“When I decided to come here, I already knew the weapons, and there’s only one football to kind of go around,” Bell said, per ESPN’s Adam Teicher. “I think there’s going to be a lot of opportunity to kind of show what I can do in space, running routes. I think this offense is a good fit for my skill set. I think Coach Reid does a good job of getting backs the ball in space. I’m glad I’ve got this opportunity.”

Bell reportedly chose between the Dolphins and Chiefs. He would have had far less competition for touches in Miami, but it seems like he prioritized winning over that. Bell also knows playing in Andy Reid’s offense — even if it is on a somewhat limited basis — will provide him with plenty of opportunities.

“I wanted to get here, get my feet back under me, get in a good offense, get the ball when I can [and] not have too much pressure on me, just play football,” Bell said. “I think coming here will give me the opportunity to do that. There are a lot of [good] players. I don’t necessarily have to worry about how many times I’m touching it.”

Keep in mind Bell came from the New York Jets, who are currently one of the worst offensive teams in the history of the NFL. The situation in Kansas City is obviously lightyears better, even if Bell will be sharing snaps with rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

Patrick Mahomes already showed us how excited he is to have Bell on board. The reigning Super Bowl MVP will do everything he can to make signing with the Chiefs worthwhile for his new teammate.

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Report: Seahawks among teams interested in signing Antonio Brown

Antonio brown

Josh Gordon is still waiting on the NFL’s decision regarding his reinstatement after he re-signed with the Seahawks last month, and Seattle may turn its attention toward another suspended wide receiver in the meantime.

The Seahawks are expected to make a push to sign Antonio Brown, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Brown is eligible to return from his suspension after Week 8, and Seattle and other teams are said to have interest in the seven-time Pro Bowler.

As Schefter notes, Brown worked out with Russell Wilson during the offseason and has kept in touch with him and Seahawks backup quarterback Geno Smith. Seattle is “intrigued” by the possibility of adding Brown to an already-potent offense, but they are not the only team.

A report a few weeks back claimed the Houston Texans could also be in the mix for Brown. Assuming he has remained in shape, Brown could help fill the void there left by DeAndre Hopkins being traded to the Arizona Cardinals.

Brown was suspended over numerous off-field issues, including allegations of sexual misconduct from two different women. Since those allegations came to light, Brown was charged with burglary with battery after he and his trainer, Glenn Holt, allegedly attacked a moving truck driver. Brown pleaded no contest to a charge in that incident and avoided jail time.

If all of that weren’t enough to give NFL teams pause, Brown also streamed a live video on Instagram back in January that showed him berating police officers in front of his children.

Brown has not been very active on social media in recent weeks, which could indicate he is trying to show NFL teams he is serious about reviving his career.

Brown spent very brief periods with the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots last season. The 32-year-old should still be capable of playing at an elite level, as he caught 104 passes for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018.

Odell Beckham banned from LSU for two years over cash handout stunt

Odell Beckham Jr

Odell Beckham Jr. will not be spending any time around the LSU football program for quite a while. Beckham has been banned from the school’s facility for two years due to the stunt he pulled after the national championship game earlier this year.

Ross Dellenger and Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated reported on Wednesday that LSU has self-imposed several penalties after a lengthy investigation revealed booster payments to the father of a football player. The school is docking itself eight football scholarships over a two-year period and reducing recruiting visits, evaluations and communication. LSU has also banned Beckham from its facilities for two years after the Tigers alum was spotted handing out money to players following their win over Clemson in January’s title game.

LSU said the payments from Beckham totaled $2,000, which constitutes a Level III violation. The payments from a booster to former offensive lineman Vadal Alexander totaled $180,000, which is a Level I — the most serious — violation.

Beckham was on the field at the New Orleans Superdome celebrating with LSU when cameras saw him handing out cash to players. LSU initially claimed the money was fake but later retracted that after Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow made it clear he took real money.

Beckham was also involved in an embarrassing incident in the locker room after the game, so that may have factored into LSU’s decision.

Ryan Fitzpatrick was ‘shocked,’ heartbroken by benching

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Ryan Fitzpatrick has played well for the Miami Dolphins this season and led them to a 3-3 record, which is why many were surprised to learn this week that he will be benched for rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The move caught Fitzpatrick off guard, too.

Fitzpatrick spoke with reporters on Wednesday about head coach Brian Flores making a QB switch during the bye week. The 37-year-old says he was “shocked” and extremely disappointed.

“I was shocked by it. It definitely caught me off guard,” Fitzpatrick said, via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. “It was a hard thing for me to hear (on Tuesday), just digesting the news. My heart just hurt all day.”

Fitzpatrick knew he was a placeholder for Tagovailoa in Miami, but he clearly felt he had done enough to keep the starting job for at least the remainder of 2020. Now that he has been benched again, he admits he is uncertain about what the future holds for him.

“I’ve been a starter, I’ve been benched all kinds of different ways … but this was kind of the first place other than Buffalo that I’ve been fully committed and invested,” Fitzpatrick said. “I felt it was my team.

“I basically got fired yesterday and my day today consisted of zoom meetings with the guy who fired me and sitting in a room with the guy who replaced me for four hours.”

While Fitzpatrick has said all of the right things and gone out of his way to help Tagovailoa since the offseason, he clearly did not take the news well.

Fitzpatrick was benched coming off two dominant victories. The Dolphins beat the New York Jets 24-0 on Sunday and the San Francisco 49ers 43-17 the week before that. While he has thrown seven interceptions on the season, he’s played well enough to keep Miami squarely in the hunt in the AFC East. He also helped the team put an end to the tanking talk last year with his steady play.

Flores expressed frustration over the way the Tagovailoa news got out, but it doesn’t sound like that was an issue for Fitzpatrick. He’s simply upset he lost his job, which is totally understandable given the circumstances.

Eli Manning has great response to classy Kurt Warner tweet

Eli Manning

Many were surprised to hear that the Miami Dolphins are benching Ryan Fitzpatrick in favor of Tua Tagovailoa after their bye week, but one Hall of Fame player knows from experience that it could be a franchise-saving move.

After news surfaced on Tuesday that Tagovailoa will start for the Dolphins in Week 8, Warner tweeted that he knows exactly how Fitzpatrick feels. He noted that he was benched during the 2004 season in favor of Eli Manning when the New York Giants were in playoff contention.

As Warner said, the move ended up being the right one for the Giants. Manning went on to lead the team to two championships, including an improbable win over the previously undefeated New England Patriots a few years later.

On Wednesday, Manning sent a tweet of his own thanking Warner for being a “class act and great mentor.”

Fitzpatrick knew he was just a placeholder for Tagovailoa, and he has handled the situation as well as any team could hope. Even with Dolphins coach Brian Flores unhappy over how the Tagovailoa news got out, Fitzpatrick has still said all the right things. Miami didn’t draft Tagovailoa to have him ride the bench, and they obviously feel there is no better time than the present.

Former Raiders OL Mario Henderson dies — dead at 35

Raiders logo

Former NFL offensive lineman Mario Henderson has died at the age of 35.

Henderson’s former high school and college teammate James Chaney announced in a tweet on Wednesday that Henderson has died. The cause of death is not yet known.

Henderson played college ball at Florida State from 2003-2006. He was taken by the Oakland Raiders in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He played for the Raiders for four seasons and the San Diego Chargers for one year in 2012. He then bounced around to other pro football leagues like the Arena Football League for a few years.

Henderson played in 44 NFL games and made 28 starts.

Ex-Pro Bowler says Trevor Lawrence should return to Clemson if Jets get top pick

Trevor Lawrence

The New York Jets appear to be well on their way to earning the top overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. If the season ended today, Trevor Lawrence would almost certainly be a Jet. One former Pro Bowler thinks the Clemson star should avoid that situation by any means necessary.

Former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White told Brian Giuffra of The Big Lead this week that Lawrence should return for his senior season at Clemson if the Jets get the No. 1 pick in the draft.

“If I’m Trevor Lawrence and the Jets finish with no wins, I just go back to Clemson,” White said. “I don’t want any part of that organization. … If the Jets get the first pick, don’t go. Just stay in college and just enjoy your time, man, because it would be awful for you to get drafted by the Jets.”

White said his advice is not based solely on what has gone on in New York this season. He feels the Jets are simply horrible at drafting offensive players and would set Lawrence up to fail.

“They do not know how to put anything together over there as far as quarterbacking, as far as weapons around the quarterback, as far as anything that has to do with offensive things,” White added. “They can draft defensively and they do a hell of a job on that side of the ball. As far as offense, that team is just bad at picking players.”

Lawrence would obviously be taking a risk if he returned to Clemson next year. His stock can’t get any higher, so he would really stand nothing to gain from a business perspective.

The one thing the Jets can potentially sell Lawrence on is a new head coach. The team has been awful offensively under Adam Gase (as you can see from these stats), and it seems extremely likely that he will be fired before the 2021 season. That may give Lawrence some hope even if the Jets continue down their troubling path.

Dolphins coach unhappy with way Tua Tagovailoa news leaked

Tua Tagovailoa

Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores confirmed on Wednesday that Tua Tagovailoa is taking over as the team’s starting quarterback, but Flores is not pleased about the way that information got out.

With the Dolphins having a bye this week, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday that they will hand over the starting QB job to Tagovailoa in Week 8. Apparently that report came out before Flores had a chance to inform his players of the decision. The coach said he plans to apologize to the team that it somehow leaked.

If Flores hadn’t even told his players about switching from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Tagovailoa, it would stand to reason that not many people knew. Someone within the organization must have leaked the information to Schefter, which would obviously be enough to irritate the head coach.

In any event, Flores praised Tagovailoa for the strides he has made in practice that led to the switch. Flores also couldn’t say enough positive things about Fitzpatrick.

The Dolphins may have been planning all along to make Tagovailoa the starter following their bye week. While he only played for a brief time in Sunday’s blowout win over the New York Jets, the former Alabama star showed how much the moment meant to him with his actions after the game.

Fitzpatrick has been a steadying presence for Miami dating back to last season. He has the team 3-3 this year and squarely in the playoff hunt, which is why the switch to Tagovailoa is surprising to some. The Dolphins likely feel Tagovailoa offers a higher ceiling.

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