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#pounditMonday, October 18, 2021

Football

Look: Jaguars may have gotten away with huge late-game blunder

Jamal Agnew finger

The Jacksonville Jaguars came within millimeters of committing an unforgivable mistake late in their game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday — or did they?

Trailing 20-17 in the fourth quarter, Jacksonville’s defense came up with a big stop around midfield to force a punt. Jaguars return man Jamal Agnew initially decided to let the ball bounce, but he appeared to change his mind and try to field it. Fortunately for the Jags, the ball bounced over Agnew’s hand and into the end zone.

Dolphins head coach Brian Flores challenged the play, and for good reason. Replays showed that the ball may have grazed Agnew’s finger, but the play stood as called. Here’s a look at it:

That could have gone either way. It certainly didn’t look like there was any space between Agnew’s finger and the ball, but you can understand why the call on the field was not overturned.

The Jaguars retained possession and put together a field goal drive to tie the game at 20-20.

If you remember, Agnew is the same player who made an incredible play for the Jaguars on special teams earlier this year (video here). He got just plain lucky with his ill-advised decision on Sunday.

Will Jon Gruden’s friend Mike Mayock remain Raiders GM?

Mike Mayock wearing a hat

The Las Vegas Raiders will search for a new head coach this offseason after Jon Gruden was forced to abruptly resign. As a result, general manager Mike Mayock is now facing an uncertain future with the franchise.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported on Sunday that Raiders owner Mark Davis will work with a small group of advisors to find a replacement for Gruden. The group will also decide if Mayock should stay on as the team’s GM.

Mayock was essentially hired by Gruden. The Raiders lured Gruden out of the broadcasting booth in 2019 and allowed him to pick his own GM. Mayock had no prior experience with the job, and he made it clear from the start that Gruden would have final say over personnel moves. The two have a close relationship, so it’s unclear if the Raiders think Mayock will be able to work with a different coach.

The Raiders are 3-2 this season. What happens going forward could help determine whether Mayock stays or goes. If the team continues to win, Mayock will likely get credit for helping to build a playoff contender. Should the Raiders implode, a total overhaul may be needed.

Photo: Sep 13, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders general manager Mike Mayock in attendance at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs OL Joe Thuney playing through serious injury

Kansas City Chiefs logo

The Kansas City Chiefs are trying to reestablish themselves as an AFC powerhouse, and Joe Thuney is not about to let a broken bone stop him from working toward that goal.

Thuney played through a broken hand in last week’s loss to the Buffalo Bills. James Palmer of NFL Network reports that the offensive lineman dealt with the injury for the entire game. He’s expected to do the same in Sunday’s game against Washington.

Thuney spent the first five years of his career with the New England Patriots before signing a five-year, $80 million deal with the Chiefs in March. The former NC State star has not missed a start since he was drafted back in 2016.

The Chiefs are 2-3 heading into Sunday’s game. They’re hoping a game against an inferior opponent will be just what the doctor ordered, but Thuney’s injury is certainly something to watch.

Watch: Tua Tagovailoa makes baffling decision on 3rd down

Tua Tagovailoa third down

Tua Tagovailoa returned from his rib injury for the Miami Dolphins’ game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London on Sunday. He made some big throws against a defense that flat-out refused to cover tight ends, but one decision Tua made in the first half left viewers scratching their heads.

The Dolphins had 3rd-and-2 deep in Jaguars’ territory when Tagovailoa got outside the pocket and could have run for an easy first down. Instead, he decided at the last second to go for a bigger play by throwing the ball. He sailed it way over the head of his intended target.

Miami went for it on fourth down and converted, but they still settled for a field goal. Tua’s poor decision may not have impacted the drive, but that was a rookie mistake from a player who is not a rookie. Given the situation, Tagovailoa should have known to get the easy first down.

Fortunately, the play didn’t make Tua look quite as bad as Trevor Lawrence made himself look with what he said on the sideline earlier in the game.

Watch: Trevor Lawrence made bold claim about Dolphins on sideline

Trevor Lawrence celebrates

The Jacksonville Jaguars entered Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins with zero wins in five games, but it would appear that Trevor Lawrence’s confidence remains intact.

The Jaguars moved the ball with relative ease on their first offensive drive in London. They probably would have scored a touchdown had it not been for a brutal dropped pass on 3rd down at the Miami 22-yard line. After they settled for a field goal, Lawrence was shown on the sideline telling teammates and coaches “they can’t stop us.”

Here’s the video:

Not surprisingly, Lawrence was proven wrong almost immediately. The Jaguars went three-and-out on their next two offensive possessions.

It’s good to see the optimism from Lawrence, but Jags fans aren’t going to care until their team gets into the win column. If defenses truly couldn’t stop Jacksonville, perhaps the insane goal Urban Meyer set for the offense wouldn’t be quite as laughable.

Photo: Oct 10, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) gestures after scoring a touchdown during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Urban Meyer’s practice schedule to blame for Jaguars’ struggles?

Urban Meyer Jags

The Jacksonville Jaguars have not looked good through the early part of the season, but they’ve been at their worst in games during the second half. Is that Urban Meyer’s fault, too?

According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, some Jaguars players believe the team’s practice schedule has been an issue dating back to training camp. Players have reportedly complained that there is not enough recovery time and that the practice schedule is not appropriate for getting through a lengthy season.

“Just ask anyone down there about how the players feel on game day,” a source told La Canfora. “They have dead legs. It’s become a real problem. It’s not just one or two guys. It may sound like an excuse, but to the players it’s real.”

Heading into Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins in London, the Jaguars had been outscored by 45 points in the second half of games. Some on Meyer’s staff reportedly feel that the team is worked too hard at times and that the practice schedule would be better suited for a college season, which is much shorter than the NFL’s 17-game season.

Even before Meyer made headlines for the video of him getting cozy with a young woman, there was plenty of talk about him not being an effective NFL coach. He recently set a ridiculous goal for Jacksonville’s offense, and some felt that showed how out of touch he is with the professional game.

David Baker resignation leads to unfair email speculation

David Baker knocks on a door

David Baker resigned on Saturday from his role as the president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The announcement was shared via a press release that included comments from both Baker and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

In the release, Baker said he and his family wanted to move back home after spending time in Canton, Ohio. He also said he wanted to spend time with his family.

Though the move is effective immediately, Baker says he will still continue to be available for ceremonial duties “over the coming weeks ahead.”

Baker, 68, spent eight years as the President and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was best known for the videos where he surprised Hall of Fame inductees with the news they had been elected to Canton. Baker’s 6-foot-9 and 400-pound figure stood out in these videos.

Unfortunately for Baker, the suddenness of his announcement and the timing has led to unfair speculation. Some are wondering whether Baker is getting the Jon Gruden treatment and had some emails uncovered by the NFL.

Any speculation of that nature is unfair and a problem created by the NFL. The league stretched its power by leaking private emails sent by Gruden that were uncovered in an unrelated investigation. They have since said there are no other damaging emails. But then a day later this announcement came out, leading some to wonder about it.

The NFL has violated its trust with the public and is paying the price. Their actions have had multiple consequences, and there is now a demand from the public to see what else was uncovered in the original Washington investigation. Baker had absolutely nothing to do with that, unless the league leaks something to suggest otherwise. The NFL’s actions have cast suspicion upon everything now. That is a matter they need to fix.

Christian McCaffrey placed on IR due to lingering hamstring injury

Christian McCaffrey

The Carolina Panthers will be without running back Christian McCaffrey for at least three more weeks due to his lingering hamstring injury.

The Panthers announced Saturday that they have placed McCaffrey on injured reserve, meaning he will be sidelined for at least three weeks. The team’s medical staff felt this was the best way to ensure that McCaffrey would be fully healthy going forward.

This will definitely be frustrating for the Panthers, especially after the optimism they had been projecting the last two weeks. McCaffrey himself was optimistic about playing last week, but that didn’t happen. The signs only got worse this week, as McCaffrey had already been ruled out for Sunday’s game against Minnesota. It appears McCaffrey simply has not healed as quickly as anticipated.

By placing McCaffrey on injured reserve Saturday, it ensures this will count as one of his three weeks out. That means he will be eligible to return in Week 9.

Lamar Jackson has awesome reaction to Louisville jersey retirement

Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson was treated to an awesome surprise when he learned that Louisville will retire his No. 8.

Louisville coach Scott Satterfield and athletic director Vince Tyra surprised Jackson with the announcement. Jackson himself was told he was meeting with the media, making it a surprise. The quarterback did get a little emotional upon discovering what was really going on.

The honor definitely means a great deal to Jackson. He also seems genuinely surprised by it, which makes it even better.

Few could argue Jackson isn’t worthy of the honor. He won the Heisman Trophy with the Cardinals, and it only helps that he’s carried his excellence to the NFL with him. He just has to make sure he’s careful about those flip celebrations, but Louisville might not be the only place his number is retired at this rate.

Jon Gruden’s email comment about Colin Kaepernick draws attention

Jon Gruden in a Raiders hat

Jon Gruden was forced to resign as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders this week after numerous offensive remarks he made in private emails were leaked to the media. A strong opinion Gruden expressed about Colin Kaepernick has also drawn attention.

The topic of Kaepernick’s national anthem protest came up in the emails Gruden exchanged with former Washington team executive Bruce Allen. Both expressed anger over Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem to call attention to police brutality. In an email that was sent on Aug. 28, 2016, Gruden said Kaepernick should be cut.

“They suspend people for taking amino acids they should cut this f—,” Gruden wrote to Allen, via Henry Bushnell and Jason Owens of Yahoo Sports.

Allen responded that he had already “expressed my OUTRAGE” over the Kaepernick protests. Gruden then sent back, “Good for you.”

Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers following the 2016 season and has not played since. Most people believe that the protests played a role in him not finding another job in the NFL, though his overall on-field performance was mediocre at best.

Kaepernick reached a confidential settlement with the NFL in 2019 after accusing the league of collusion in a lawsuit.

You can read more about the Gruden email leaks here.

Photo: Sep 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden takes the field before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports