NFL is suspending Browns’ RB Kareem Hunt for eight games for violating its personal conduct policy, league source tells ESPN.
Nick Chubb should post RB1 numbers for the first half of the season and probably longer, as the team begins to incorporate Hunt into the offense over the second half of the season. Duke Johnson remains in limbo, but he should serve as Chubb's primary backup while Hunt serves his suspension.
Shocker. Beckham will now be paired with an up-and-coming young quarterback in Baker Mayfield and the duo are now poised to, as one former Brown put it, wreck the league. Normally we shy away from wide receivers who change teams, but Beckham should see a ton of work and he'll enjoy an upgrade at quarterback to boot. It's a downgrade for Jarvis Landry, who was already a question mark as his usage declined once Freddie Kitchens took over the play-calling. This is obviously a huge boost to Mayfield's 2019 outlook.
The Kansas City Chiefs released Hunt in December after a video surfaced that showed him shoving and kicking a woman last February at his residence in Cleveland.
Hunt joins an already talented backfield featuring Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson. Chubb was shaping up to be a top 10 pick at his position, though Hunt's arrival throws some cold water on Chubb's upside. Johnson was already being underutilized and speculation has already begun that the team may look to move him. At this point, we're assuming that Hunt will compete with Johnson for backup duties behind Chubb. Keep in mind that the NFL has yet to announce Hunt's suspension, so that will play a factor as well.
Awards season has begun for Saquon Barkley, and he's picked up his first honor.
The Giants' sensational running back has been named Offensive Rookie of the Year by the Pro Football Writers Association. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was voted Rookie of the Year by the PFWA, likely signaling more split votes coming for the players who were selected 1-2 in the NFL Draft back in April.
It could be just the beginning of the awards for Barkley, who led the NFL with 2,028 scrimmage yards and joined Eric Dickerson and Edgerin James as the only rookies with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards. Barkley and Mayfield are also finalists for the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year – voted on by the fans – and remain the favorites to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award given out by the league on the eve of Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta next month during its NFL Honors program.
They are close on a deal and it should be done Monday. It's a big hire for new coach Freddie Kitchens, Rapoport said. Wilks struggled with the Cards as the HC, but his defense in Carolina was solid before taking the Arizona job last year.
Browns are hiring former Buccaneers’ OC Todd Monken as their OC, per league source.
Monken called the plays for the Bucs for all but one game (Week 10's 16-3 loss to the Washington Redskins), and the Bucs averaged 315 passing yards, 95 rushing yards and 26.2 points per game while he was calling plays. However, new head coach Freddie Kitchens will probably retain play-calling duties in Cleveland after a successful run as the team's play-caller in the second half of the season. Monken should be a good sounding board for Kitchens and QB Baker Mayfield.
Coach Matt Nagy announced Friday night he hired former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano to step into the team’s top defensive role. Pagano has 16 years of NFL coaching experience, most recently as the Colts coach from 2012-17.
Pagano, 58, was the Ravens defensive coordinator in 2011, when they went 12-4 and ranked third in total defense, third in points allowed, second against the run, fourth against the pass and third in sacks. Before that he served as defensive backs coach for the Ravens, Raiders and Browns.
As the story mentions, Pagano guided the Ravens to the No. 3 overall finish in 2011 before jetting to Indianapolis to take over the Colts. There, his defenses finished higher than No. 20 just once (in 2014) in six seasons. Otherwise, the defense was a perennial problem. Given all the talent on that side of the ball, the Bears should be fine defensively.
After missing out on the Cleveland Browns' head coaching job, Kevin Stefanski will return to Minnesota.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Stefanski is expected to return as the Vikings' full-time offensive coordinator, per a source informed of the situation.
Stefanski took over in Minnesota with three games left in the 2018 season after the Vikings jettisoned OC John DeFilippo. The Vikes offense got back to the ground game in the first two outings of the 36-year-old's play-calling career, compiling 320 rushing yards in back-to-back victories.
Returning as full-time offensive coordinator, Stefanski will be tasked with unleashing an offense that vastly underperformed expectations in 2018. Despite a star running back in Dalvin Cook, two 1,000-plus-yard receivers in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, and an $84 million quarterback in Kirk Cousins, the Vikings were an inconsistent mess this season. If the Vikings can't finally figure out their offensive line issues in 2019, it likely won't matter who is calling plays.
After firing DeFilippo, HC Mike Zimmer demanded that Stefanski establish the run game. Under DeFilippo, the Vikings averaged 40.3 pass attempts and just 21.1 rush attempts, a 65.7% pass rate. In three games under Stefanski, Minnesota averaged 27.3 pass attempts and 27.7 rush attempts for a 49.7% pass rate. The team's offensive pace slowed from 61.4 plays per game under DeFilippo to 55.0 plays per game under Stefanski. Kirk Cousins and the passing game suffered in the final three games, as his fantasy PPG dropped from 17.6 PPG to 15.8 PPG. Meanwhile, Dalvin Cook's usage spiked--he averaged 14.9 touches per game under DeFilippo and 18.0 touches per game with Stefanski calling the plays. His PPG (PPR) was 17.7 over the final three games after averaging 12.9 PPG in eight games under DeFilippo. Adam Thielen's averages (21.8 vs. 8.0) took a major hit while Stefon Diggs' production (18.4 vs. 14.5) also dipped. Keep in mind that one of the three games was at home against the Bears, who own the top defense in the league. Still, the Stefanski full-time hire looks to be good for Cook and bad for Cousins, Thielen and Diggs.
The Cleveland Browns will hire Freddie Kitchens on Wednesday to be the 18th head coach in team history, sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
Kitchens served as the Browns' interim offensive coordinator for the final eight games of the 2018 season. That work and his relationship with and development of quarterback Baker Mayfield were keys to his promotion.
The Browns did not want to lose Kitchens and denied him permission to talk to other teams about offensive coordinator openings during the interview process.
Interim coach and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was relieved of his duties and is no longer with the team.
Kitchens called plays for the Browns starting in Week 9 and it certainly appears that he had a positive impact on QB Baker Mayfield. In Mayfield's first five-plus games, he completed 58.3% of his passes for a 6.60 YPA and a 3.6% touchdown rate. In nine games with Kitchens calling plays, Mayfield completed 68.4% of his passes for an 8.57 YPA and a 7.2% touchdown rate. Mayfield was the No. 10 fantasy quarterback (19.0 PPG) in that span, so retaining Kitchens as the Browns' play-caller should result in continued growth for Mayfield in 2019.
Sunday, December 30, 2018, 3:37pm
Friday, December 28, 2018, 6:29pm
Friday, December 21, 2018, 6:10pm
Friday, December 21, 2018, 6:10pm
Bengals RB Joe Mixon (wrist, thigh) took full practice reps on Friday after being limited earlier in the week. Mixon will be fine to face the Browns, who have given up an average of 126 yards and 1.3 rush touchdowns per game.
Friday, December 21, 2018, 6:10pm
Eagles QB Carson Wentz (back, out) missed practice all week and is out for Week 16. Nick Foles will start again this week. He put up a measly 9.3 fantasy points last week against the Rams, but he returns home to face a Texans defense that is tough to run on but vulnerable against the pass, yielding 253/2 to Sam Darnold, 399/2 to Andrew Luck, 397/1 to Baker Mayfield and 303/2 to Marcus Mariota in recent weeks.
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