Extra Points: Bucs, Koetter, Bears, Parkey, Bengals, Kirkpatrick

After a promising start, the Buccaneers have spiraled downward. The team is now 3-6, they’ve shuffled between Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick multiple times, and the offense is completely in the tank. The defense has been historically bad, and coach Dirk Koetter is firmly on the hot seat.

In a move seemingly made out of desperation, Koetter took back play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Todd Monken for the team’s loss to the Redskins, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Monken had been calling plays all season, and had been widely praised for the Bucs’ initial offensive success. Whatever Koetter was trying to accomplish clearly didn’t work, as the Buccaneers scored just three points today. A move might not be made until the end of the season, but it seems pretty clear Koetter’s time with the organization is coming to an end.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Bears kicker Cody Parkey missed two field goals and two extra points today against Detroit, but Chicago coach Matt Nagy ruled out replacing him after the game, according to ESPN.com. Parkey has now missed five field goals this season, but Nagy flat-out rejected the notion the team would look for a new kicker. Parkey missed a potential game-winner in overtime against the Dolphins a few weeks back.
  • The Bengals were demolished by the Saints at home today, and their already injury depleted defense got even more bad news. Starting cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was ruled out for the game with a concussion and is currently in the concussion protocol, according to Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Bengals are already down multiple starters on defense, so they can’t afford to be without Kirkpatrick.
  • In case you missed it, the Steelers are expected to place the transition tag on Le’Veon Bell this offseason.

Brandon Marshall To Visit Saints Monday

Right after Dez Bryant tore his achilles, it was reported that the Saints were interested in going after Brandon Marshall. Things appear to be progressing toward a signing, as Marshall will visit the team in New Orleans tomorrow and the Saints hope to sign him, a source told Nick Underhill of the Advocate.

After an injury-ruined 2017 season with the Giants, Marshall latched on with the Seahawks this offseason. He showed flashes, but ultimately lasted only seven games in Seattle, where he caught 11 passes for 136 yards and one touchdown. He’s been plagued by injuries the last few seasons, but as recently as 2015 he was one of the best receivers in football. In 2015 he caught 109 passes for 1502 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Marhsall also auditioned for the Lions after the Seahawks cut him loose, and apparently the Saints — who now have five receivers on IR — were considering bringing Marshall aboard even if Bryant had not gotten hurt. Given the state of New Orleans’ wide receiver depth chart, Marshall would likely see a fair amount of playing time if he ends up signing with the Saints.

It sounds like Marshall could be signed within the next day, and although it remains to be seen how much he has left in the tank at age 34, should provide an instant boost to the New Orleans passing game. Seemingly every receiver the Saints have other than Michael Thomas has been seriously injured at some point, and it can’t hurt to bring Marshall in.

Rams Fear Torn ACL For Cooper Kupp

Cooper Kupp left the Rams’ win over the Seahawks with a knee injury, and it appears it’ll be season ending. The Rams fear Kupp tore his ACL, sources told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

It’s devastating news for the Rams, who improved to 9-1 on the season with their victory today. Kupp will almost certainly miss the remainder of the season, which is a big blow to the NFC’s top team. Kupp had suffered a different knee injury earlier this season, and had only recently returned after missing two games.

Kupp left the game with a non-contact knee injury and was immediately ruled out, so it looked grim from the start. Kupp was having a great year before going down, catching 35 passes for 527 yards and six touchdowns in less than seven full games.

Even with Kupp out, the Rams still one of the best arrays of offensive weapons in the league. The team will lean heavily on Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, and Todd Gurley in the passing game moving forward. Tight ends Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett will also both be counted on to step up.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Bowles, Patriots

Jets coach Todd Bowles was already on the hot seat entering today. Then the Jets were demolished at home by the Bills, and Bowles’ seat got even hotter. Seemingly everyone is assuming Bowles will get fired, and it appears to be just a matter of time before there’s an opening in New York. With that in mind, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY took a look at possible candidates to be his replacement.

The list includes some of the most frequently mentioned candidates like Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, but also includes some under-the-radar names. Washington University coach Chris Peterson is listed, as is Stanford coach David Shaw. One intriguing name he brings up is Michigan and ex-49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, although Vacchiano notes “he’d only be a candidate in New York if GM Mike Maccagnan goes too”, due to Harbaugh’s desire for decision-making power.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Speaking of Bowles, the embattled coach will meet with Jets CEO Christopher Johnson Monday morning, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. Cimini noted that a “lack of energy on the Jets’ bench” was noted by the team’s higher-ups, which doesn’t “bode well” for Bowles. Nothing is certain, but it’s definitely possible Bowles is relieved of his duties this week as the team enters its bye.
  • Patriots receiver Josh Gordon is set to be a restricted free agent after the season, and New England will have several options about what to do. “Giving Gordon a first-round tender makes the most sense for the Patriots”, according to Doug Kyed of NESN.com. If the Patriots place a first round tender on him, any team that signed him to an offer sheet would have to give the Patriots their first round pick if New England let him walk. The Patriots could save some money by attaching a lower tender to him, but then they’d risk having him poached.
  • Speaking of the Patriots, they’ll have a different decision to make in the coming weeks. The team has until Wednesday to activate second round pick Duke Dawson from injured reserve, notes Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Reiss notes that Dawson, a rookie cornerback, has been practicing with the team for a couple of weeks but it’s unclear whether or not New England plans on activating him.

Martavis Bryant Suffers Possible Torn PCL

Raiders receiver Martavis Bryant appears to have suffered a torn PCL, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). 

It’s been a weird 2018 season for Bryant, who was traded by the Steelers to the Raiders this offseason for a third round pick, then cut by Oakland, then re-signed. Bryant was originally cut because the team believed he was facing a potential season-ending suspension for another violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.

It was confirmed a couple of months ago that Bryant had indeed been suspended, but that the league was allowing him to play while he appealed, and there’s been no update since. Oakland’s coaching staff had been talking up the potential for Bryant to play a bigger role in the offense after the team traded Amari Cooper, so this is a big loss. Jordy Nelson was in and out of the game with a quad injury, so the Raiders’ receiving corp could be dangerously thin moving forward.

While Rapoport noted that while “the hope is he doesn’t end up needing surgery”, “Bryant is going to miss time.” At this point it looks like the Raiders are hoping to get him back at some point this season, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s done for the year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

5 Key NFL Stories: 11/4/18 – 11/11/18

Le’Veon won’t play in 2018. A 2019 franchise tag for Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell would cost more than $25MM, so that tender isn’t an option for Pittsburgh. Bell doesn’t need to accrue another season to reach free agency next spring, so he’s not expected to report by Tuesday’s deadline, meaning he won’t play during the 2018 campaign. The transition tag is still in play for Bell next year, but that option wouldn’t give the Steelers any compensation if Bell leaves via free agency.

The short saga of Dez in New Orleans. Dez Bryant waited until November to find the right fit after being released by the Cowboys earlier this year, and inked a one-year contract with the Saints last week. But his stay on the club’s active roster didn’t last long, as the veteran wideout devastatingly tore his Achilles during his first practice with New Orleans. The Saints, who could pursue Bryant again in 2019, could now turn their more immediate attention to Brandon Marshall, who also worked out last week.

Falcons add Bruce Irvin. The Raiders released Irvin just after the NFL’s trade deadline, perhaps with the hope that another team would claim him and his contract. No other club had interest in doing that, but Irvin quickly landed a one-year pact with his hometown Falcons. While other teams, including the Patriots and Steelers, reportedly offered Irvin more money, he chose to head to his native Atlanta. Because his deal with Oakland didn’t contain offset language, Irvin will get to double-dip, meaning he’ll collect nearly $10MM this season.

Redskins lose…everybody. Injuries are hitting Washington’s offensive line hard for the second consecutive year. Already without starting left tackle Trent Williams as he recovers from a thumb injury, the Redskins placed guards Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao on injured reserve last week (wide receiver Paul Richardson was lost for the season, too). To help account for those absences, Washington signed a trio of journeyman offensive linemen in Austin Howard, Jonathan Cooper, and Luke Bowanko.

John Harbaugh’s seat gets hotter. Reports last week indicated Harbaugh could be on the outs given Baltimore’s disappointing season, and today Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com indicated Harbaugh and the Ravens are likely to mutually part ways after the 2018 season. The Ravens will be minting a new general manager (Eric DeCosta) next season, so a change at head coach could also make sense. Harbaugh could have the option to start rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson down the stretch, but Joe Flacco‘s recent injury may be less serious than originally thought.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills QB Josh Allen Expected To Return In Week 12

Bills quarterback Josh Allen missed four games while dealing with an elbow injury, but he’s expected to be available when Buffalo returns from its bye in Week 12, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.

Allen felt as though he could have played against the Jets this week, per Schefter, but Buffalo decided to hold out its first-round signal-caller, figuring that allowing Allen to regain full health over the club’s bye is the correct decision. Instead, the Bills turned to journeyman Matt Barkley, who didn’t have any trouble against New York, posting 232 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-10 rout of the Jets.

Allen, the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft, hasn’t had much talent to work with this season, as Buffalo’s skill players and offensive line leave much to be desired. In six games (five starts), Allen has completed 54% of his passes for 832 yards, two touchdowns, and five interceptions. Among quarterbacks with at least 130 attempts this season, Allen ranks dead last in both passer rating and adjusted net yards per attempt. Allen has contributed on the ground, though, averaging 4.4 yards per carry and scoring three times via rush.

When the Bills return from bye, four of their final six games will come within the AFC East. Buffalo will face the Jaguars, Dolphins, Jets, Lions, Patriots, and Dolphins again to close out the 2018 campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

PFR Originals: 11/4/18 – 11/11/18

The original content and analysis produced by the PFR staff during the past week:

NFL Workout Updates: 11/11/18

Today’s workout updates, all courtesy of veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (on Twitter):

Arizona Cardinals

Detroit Lions

Oakland Raiders

NFC Notes: Dez, Seahawks, McCarthy

Saints WR Dez Bryant suffered a brutal blow when he tore his Achilles just two days after signing with the club, thereby shelving him for about eight months. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) noted that Bryant’s recovery timeline could make his 2019 foray into free agency just as complicated as his 2018 one, though RapSheet does report in a separate piece that the Saints are open to bringing Bryant back next season (which Jay Glazer of FOX Sports [video link] also hears). Rapoport also says that Saints head coach Sean Payton fully expects Bryant to continue his playing career, and that Saints players quickly got to know Bryant and were stung by the injury (Twitter link). Given that, and given that Bryant made a concerted effort to improve his route running this offseason, perhaps he will still end up playing for New Orleans.

Let’s round up a few more items from the NFC:

  • Adam Schefter of ESPN.com details (via Twitter) the $500K in incentives (all tied to receptions) that were built in to Bryant’s contract with the Saints, which is obviously a moot point now. Earlier today, Schefter reported that the Saints are expected to pursue Brandon Marshall now that Bryant is on IR.
  • Rapoport writes that, when the Seahawks are sold to a new owner, the beneficiary of the transaction will be the Paul G. Allen Foundation, which consolidated the causes of recently-deceased owner Paul Allen. That means that the proceeds of the sale — which could exceed $2.5 billion — will be going to charity. As of now, Allen’s sister, Jody Allen, has taken more of a visible role in team operations, but the club is still expected to be sold (though it will remain in Seattle). Potential buyers are already preparing for the Seahawks to hit the market.
  • Pete Dougherty of PackersNews.com confirms what we have been hearing for some time: that something is off in the relationship between Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy, which could lead to McCarthy’s ouster at the end of the season. McCarthy is widely perceived to be on the hot seat, though Dougherty points out that team president/CEO Mark Murphy thinks highly of McCarthy and has final say over all football matters. However, Murphy will give a great deal of credence to the opinion of new GM Brian Gutekunst when it comes to the head coach’s future with the club.
  • We learned that top decision-makers for the Giants were in attendance at the Oregon-Utah game yesterday to scout Oregon QB Justin Herbert, even though Herbert is unlikely to enter the 2019 draft. Greg Joyce of the New York Post confirms that GM Dave Gettleman was one of the attendees, along with assistant GM Kevin Abrams and West Coast scout Jeremy Breit. If Herbert changes his mind and declares for the draft, New York will certainly be in play for him.
  • We learned earlier today that the Cowboys nearly fired OC Scott Linehan during last month’s bye.

NFL News & NFL Rumors