In hopes of complementing Alfred Morris with their first true big running back since Stephen Davis left after the 2002 season, the Redskins drafted Florida's 6-2, 226-pound Matt Jones in the third round this month.
"Alfred's a darn good halfback," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Saturday on the second day of Washington's three-day rookie minicamp. "In order to take carries off of him, you gotta show a lot. "So far, Matt's taken the right steps to take a little bit of the load off of Alfred (who had 85 percent of the carries by Washington's running backs the past three seasons). If you want to commit to running the football, you gotta have a couple guys that can tote it."
By hiring offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who helped make Dallas the NFL's top rushing offense in 2014, and using three of their first five draft choices on Jones, tackle Brandon Scherff, and guard Arie Kouandjio, new Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan has shown how committed the Redskins are to a power running game. McCloughan called Jones "a physical player and as tough as crud." And yet, Gruden raved about the rest of the rookie's game.
"You think of him as a big, power-type back, but Matt's done some things out in space that have been very, very impressive, making moves on the second level, in the passing game, running some option routes on linebackers," Gruden said. "He's got natural hands."
Jones only had 19 catches in three years at Florida, but it sounds as if he may compete for third down duties now that Roy Helu is no longer locking down that role. Morris has caught 68.5 percent of his targets, which is a higher rate than what Shane Vereen and Jamaal Charles posted last season, but he has yet to make much of an impression in the passing game.
Sunday, May 10, 2015, 8:01pm
Following a three day rookie mini-camp that included the team's newest draft picks, 11 undrafted free agent signings and 19 unsigned tryout participants, the Cincinnati Bengals decided to add three new members to the team – including former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
“Really just talking with Coach Kelly and knowing I’m coming with the opportunity to compete for the starting job,” Sanchez said, via CSN Philly. “That was important to me. There were some other opportunities out there, but I didn’t want to switch systems again. On a one-year deal, it’s different for maybe a defensive player then for an offensive player, especially a quarterback. You’ve got to learn a whole new language again. I started to feel real comfortable and I felt like to be honest, personally, there’s some unfinished business we left out there. I know I can play a little bit better than that. I know we can get this team in the playoffs. I think we have the talent to do that.”
We believe that it's Bradford's job to lose. Over the last two seasons, Philadelphia quarterbacks have averaged 16.7 passing game-only fantasy points. Bradford isn’t much of a runner, but he adds about 0.7 FP per game as a rusher. That adds up to 17.4 FP, or about what Eli Manning averaged as the #13 QB in 2014. The Eagles’ offense has lost their top receiver – DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin – in each of the last two seasons, but Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz are emerging and the team added Nelson Agholor in the draft. If Bradford ends up starting for the Eagles, we wouldn’t expect anything more than high-end QB2 numbers, but this is a definite system upgrade due to the overall effectiveness of Chip Kelly’s offense.
The Bengals drafted a pair of tight ends over the weekend, but it doesn’t look like concerns about Tyler Eifert’s recovery from shoulder and elbow surgeries was the impetus to double down on the position.
Eifert said Monday that he’s waiting to get full clearance to return from his shoulder injury, a torn labrum that he had repaired after dislocating his elbow in the first game of last season. He expects to get that clearance before the start of training camp and is working to rebuild his strength until then.
With Jermaine Gresham out of the way, Eifert should be a nice late-round pick provided he can stay healthy. He has good size and speed, and showed pretty good hands as a rookie. He only played about 60 percent of the snaps in 2013, and averaged 0.14 FP (PPR) per snap. Extrapolate the same production to 90 percent of the snaps (which is typical for a starting tight end), and Eifert shouldn't have any problem posting top 15 numbers. With solid improvement, he could very well be this year's Jordan Cameron (2013) or Travis Kelce (2014).
Eagles TE Zach Ertz did his homework and was told that retired offensive line coach Hudson Houck still trained players. So he called Houck, who mentored Hall of Famers Anthony Munoz and Bruce Matthews at Southern Cal and coached the great Cowboys lines of the 1990s, out of the blue. Soon after, they spent two weeks together in San Diego working on blocking.
Ertz' time with Houck was just one part of his offseason plan. He spent a month focusing on strength training, another on circuit training and additional time on mixed martial arts training. He also sought out former tight end great Tony Gonzalez, who instructed Ertz on the importance of preparation and tenacity.
The 24-year-old Ertz's goals are high. He said he wants to be mentioned someday alongside Gonzalez and others in the NFL pantheon of tight ends. But he knows he can't get there if he's playing only 50 percent of offensive snaps, as he did last season.
There's ample reason, though, to believe that Ertz will finally become a focal point of Chip Kelly's offense. He caught a franchise-record 15 passes against the Redskins in the penultimate game of last season. And when asked to explain last month how he'll compensate for the loss of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, Kelly prominently mentioned Ertz.
"I think he's still growing, and I think Zach will be the first one to tell you that," Kelly said at the NFL meeting. "I think he's working extremely hard in the offseason at continuing to get better."
Ertz was the #13 TE in both standard and PPR formats despite only playing half of the Eagles’ snaps in his second year. Ertz played mostly (73%) on passing downs, so if his playing time is going to increase, a majority of the additional snaps are likely to come in run formations. Still, there’s upside with Ertz if he begins to see starter’s snaps. The Eagles lost their leading receiver -- DeSean Jackson and then Jeremy Maclin -- in back-to-back seasons, so there will be opportunity from a targets standpoint. If Chip Kelly moves Jordan Matthews outside, then Ertz is a candidate to fill Matthews role in the slot, assuming Kelly is willing to play more two-TE sets to get Ertz on the field. Ertz is currently going in the 8th round of early PPR drafts.
Monday, April 6, 2015, 8:03pm
The Jets quarterback has spent time in California this offseason working out with former major-league pitcher-turned-quarterback tutor Tom House, who also has worked with Drew Brees, Alex Smith, Matt Cassel and former Jet Tim Tebow.
"It wasn't a thing where I needed to change things," said Smith, who is 11-18 in two seasons. "It was basically just going out there to work out and get better, and that's what we accomplished."
"As of right now, I'm just focusing on getting better every single day and relishing every single opportunity that I have," Smith said on a conference call Monday after the team's first day of voluntary workouts. "Today's only Day 1, Phase 1."
Smith said he is "very pleased" with the progress he's made, but it remains to be seen what his new coaching staff thinks of him compared with the other quarterbacks on the roster, the story added. The Jets traded for veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and the team has hinted they may want to add another quarterback.
HC Andy Reid called Kelce elite this week at the NFL meetings in Phoenix.
“Absolutely,’’ Reid told reporters. “Tremendously talented. Loves to play the game. He’s like a little kid out there.
“You’d think the natural progression would be more and better and he was pretty good last year.’’
Kelce missed almost all of the 2013 season, which would have been his rookie year, because of an ailing knee. He was better last year, but the Chiefs weren’t quite comfortable giving Kelce a lot of playing time early in the season.
Kelce played 54% of the snaps from Week 1 to Week 10, averaging 3.8 catches for 49 yards and 0.44 TD in that span. He played 86% from Week 11 on, posting 4.7 receptions for 61 yards and 0.14 TD over the final seven games of the season. The rise in fantasy points wasn’t as dramatic since his touchdowns didn’t increase with his playing time, but that should rectify itself in 2015. He was the #4 TE in both standard and PPR formats in the final seven weeks of the season and is likely to go in the top 5 at his position in 2015 fantasy drafts.
"I think it will be a competitive situation," Del Rio said.
Del Rio likes Richardson's potential.
"What I saw when we brought him in and talked to him was a young man that was hungry to kind of leave that portion of his career behind him and start fresh," Del Rio said. "My challenge to him was, 'Look, I don't want you to worry about anything other than coming in here and competing your butt off every day. Come in here and be a great teammate. Come in here and find a role on special teams. Come in here and just grind every day with the hunger you had as a freshman at Alabama.'"
We fully expect Murray to win the job, though it is concerning that the Raiders aggressively pursued DeMarco Murray. It indicates that they aren't fully ready to move forward with Latavius Murray, even though he rushed 82 times for 424 yards (a 5.2 YPC) and two touchdowns, including an incredible four-carry, 112-yard, two-TD performance against the Chiefs in Week 12. He still averaged a solid (if unspectacular) 4.0 YPC when that game is excluded. With good size (6'2", 223 lbs) and great speed (4.38 40-yard dash), Murray has all the physical tools to succeed at the position. He even showed solid hands with 17 receptions on 23 targets. We don't see Richardson as much of a threat, but teams have force-fed him before. Roy Helu is also in the mix, so if the Raiders don't commit to Murray, this could devolve into an ugly committee.
Bowe should start opposite Brian Hartline with Andrew Hawkins manning the slot. He hasn't finished in the top 40 since 2011, and while his QB play in Kansas City wasn't great, it's not like Josh McCown is an upgrade over Alex Smith. We're expecting more disappointing numbers from Bowe in 2015.
Friday, March 13, 2015, 1:54pm
Rapoport reported that the deal was worth $11 million per season. Maclin was the #9 wide receiver in both standard and PPR formats last season. However, he did most of his damage in the first eight games (46-801-8, #2 WR) and faded from Week 10 on (40-528-2, #23 WR). His targets dropped from 10.5 per game in the first half of the season to just 7.5 T/G down the stretch, but this decrease basically coincided with Mark Sanchez taking over for Nick Foles at quarterback. Now he’ll have Alex Smith as his quarterback and should see plenty targets alongside up-and-coming TE Travis Kelce. HC Andy Reid is very familiar with Maclin, so we would expect his transition to be a smooth one, though this appears to be a system downgrade. Maclin averaged 4.6 catches for 61 yards and 0.50 TD (solid WR2-type numbers) from 2010-2012, while playing for Reid.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that the Chiefs are expected to release Bowe on Wednesday, according to a source. Bowe became expendable when the team locked into an agreement with Jeremy Maclin on Sunday.
Bowe's production has been on the decline since 2011, though the last two years (with QB Alex Smith) have been particularly ugly.
The wild ride of subtraction and addition will apparently continue with the Philadelphia Eagles because receiver Jeremy Maclin plans to reunite with former coach Andy Reid on the Kansas City Chiefs once free agency officially begins on Tuesday, according to league sources.
The Chiefs will need to clear salary-cap space to sign Maclin, whose new contract would project in the range of what Randall Cobb received to stay with the Green Bay Packers at $10 million per year. It's possible Maclin could slightly exceed Cobb's salary when negotiations are finished. Unlike Cobb, who chose to remain with his team, the Green Bay Packers, Maclin is prepared to depart Philadelphia, coming off his best season, in which he had 85 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns. Maclin played on a one-year, $5.25 million contract in 2014 after missing 2013 with an ACL injury.
Update: The deal is reportedly worth around $11 million per season.
Maclin was the #9 wide receiver in both standard and PPR formats last season. However, he did most of his damage in the first eight games (46-801-8, #2 WR) and faded from Week 10 on (40-528-2, #23 WR). His targets dropped from 10.5 per game in the first half of the season to just 7.5 T/G down the stretch, but this decrease basically coincided with Mark Sanchez taking over for Nick Foles at quarterback. If the report turns out to be true, he'll have Alex Smith as his quarterback and could hog targets alongside up-and-coming TE Travis Kelce. Reid is familiar with Maclin, so we would expect his transition to be a smooth one, though this appears to be a system downgrade.
Jones-Drew was a minor threat to Latavius Murray's upside in 2015, but now the path is clear. Murray rushed 82 times for 424 yards (a 5.2 YPC) and two touchdowns, including an incredible four-carry, 112-yard, two-TD performance against the Chiefs in Week 12. He still averaged a solid (if unspectacular) 4.0 YPC when that game is excluded. With good size (6'2", 223 lbs) and great speed (4.38 40-yard dash), Murray has all the physical tools to succeed at the position. He even showed solid hands with 17 receptions on 23 targets. Per beat writer Jerry McDonald, Murray will be “given every chance” to win the starting job, though the glut of running backs on the free agent market may lead to a veteran or two being brought in to shore up the Oakland RB corps.
Here are the five players who got the non-exclusive franchise tag, and the amount of the tender offer for each:
This may not make either Bryant or Thomas happy, but it ensures that they aren't going anywhere for at least one more season. Both players figure to be ranked in the top 5 at their position in 2015 fantasy drafts.
- Page 1