12

The Sean McVay era is here, but good luck replicating what the Rams’ coach has done

He understands it so much so that the Los Angeles Rams’ defensive coordinator seized the opportunity in front of a large media contingent to offer the credentials of his son, Wes Phillips, who is a tight ends coach for the Washington Redskins.

“Wes is a young offensive coach that knows Sean McVay,” Phillips said, serious as ever, “if anybody is looking for a head coach.”

The room laughed. And it seems far-fetched, yet somehow it wouldn’t be shocking if Wes Phillips’ phone began to ring.

Call it the Sean McVay Effect.

The Rams hired McVay in January 2017, when he was 30 years old, making him the youngest head coach in modern NFL history. He took a 4-12 team that had suffered a 12-year playoff drought and clinched a division title in his first season. In his second season, the Rams again won the NFC West. It was the first time since 1979 that the team had won consecutive division crowns.cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Last week, McVay, 32, became the youngest head coach in NFL history to produce a playoff win, with a 30-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC divisional round. And on Sunday, with a win over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game at the Superdome, he could become the youngest head coach ever to advance to the Super Bowl.12

“It’s something that, when you get a chance to play for one game away, that’s exactly why you do all this hard work,” McVay said. “We’re going to go there and give it our best shot and compete to the best of our ability and see what happens.”

But regardless of Sunday’s outcome, McVay’s tenure in L.A. is already considered a resounding success and is leaving an impression around the NFL. Teams across the league are in a hurry to find the next McVay — a coach who can offer an explosive brand of offense and be a quarterback guru. The Rams average 32.9 points per game, and under McVay, Jared Goff went from bust to boom.

The Cincinnati Bengals appear set to hire Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, another 30-something offensive coach, who has spent two seasons with McVay (including one as receivers coach) and has prior NFL experience with the Bengals and the Miami Dolphins.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

And the Arizona Cardinals opted for an unconventional hire in Kliff Kingsbury, a 39-year-old who was fired after producing a losing record in six seasons at Texas Tech but — as a (since-modified) Cardinals news release pointed out — “is friends with Rams coach Sean McVay — the 32-year-old offensive genius who has become the blueprint of many of the new coaching hires around the NFL.” Before Kingsbury accepted the position, McVay extended to him an invitation to join the Rams’ staff as an offensive analyst for the playoff run.

When one league executive was asked via text message whether the McVay-like hires were a trend or a coincidence, the executive responded only with a link to the famous “McDowell’s” scene from “Coming to America.”

11

Kliff Kingsbury ready to find out what makes Josh Rosen ‘tick’

It was a challenge Kingsbury, who takes “a lot of pride” in the quarterback position, readily accepted.

“I want to get to know Josh, get to understand what makes him tick,” Kingsbury said. “I do think he wants to be a great player in this league. I think he’s very competitive. You watch him play this year and some of the shots he took and continued to get up and continued to fight.

“That says a lot about the young man. So, excited to develop that relationship.”cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

To figure out where Rosen needs to get to, Kingsbury first needed to see what he was working with. But it has been hard for Kingsbury to get a firm grasp on the type of quarterback Rosen was last season.

Kingsbury had watched every one of Rosen’s 13 starts (and the few minutes he played in Week 3) by his second day on the job. He watched all 393 of Rosen’s pass attempts, all 11 touchdowns and all 14 interceptions. He watched the 45 times Rosen was sacked and all the times Rosen got off the turf, albeit sometimes slowly.11

Kingsbury turned off the tape thinking the quarterback he’s inheriting was “incredibly talented.”

But even though he was impressed with Rosen, the film didn’t tell Kingsbury the whole story.

“It’s hard to tell when you’re really trying to break down a quarterback,” Kingsbury said. “You don’t know what he was told, what his reads were, where his eye should be. All you can see is whether it’s accurate or not, and sometimes [if] protections [are] not good, that’s going to be spotty, as well.“cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Kingsbury’s Texas Tech teams were offensive powerhouses. They didn’t necessarily win, going 35-40 in his six seasons, but they produced on offense. From 2013 to 2018, Kingsbury’s quarterbacks had the second-most completions, attempts, yards, touchdowns, completions over 20 yards and passing first downs nationally, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The Red Raiders’ offense also was ranked third nationally in yards per game, second in passing yards per game, fourth in total first downs, third in third-down conversion percentage and eighth in points per game.

Kingsbury was open about whether his version of the Air Raid will work in the NFL. He didn’t promise an exact replica showing up at State Farm Stadium, but he pointed out that more and more college offensive concepts have made their way into the NFL — and some have even been successful.

“I think that’s something we’ll find out,” he said. “Watching other people’s film and watching guys that are doing some of those concepts, they’re having success. There’ll be defensive adjustments. Everybody’s alwa

12

Rams’ Marcus Peters, Saints’ Sean Payton say barbs are in the past

McVay’s quip aside, Peters and New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton both downplayed their rematch and potential “bowl of gumbo” heading into Sunday’s highly anticipated contest at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Peters chided the media for “trying to make it something that it’s not” and praised Payton’s competitiveness. Payton noted that the Saints wanted to draft Peters with one of their first-round picks less than four years ago, adding that he has “great respect for him.”

That did not appear to be the case in early November. The Saints handed the Rams their first loss in that Week 9 game, and the decisive score occurred when Michael Thomas zipped past Peters for a 72-yard touchdown in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, part of a 211-yard game for the Saints’ All-Pro wide receiver. Afterward, Payton said the following: “They were going to travel Marcus to [Thomas], and that was fine by us. We thought we liked that matchup — a lot.”

“Tell Sean Payton to keep talking that s—,” he said. “We’re going to see him soon, you feel me? Because I like what he was saying on the sidelines, too. So tell him to keep talking that s—, and I hope you see me soon. We’re going to have a nice little bowl of gumbo together.“cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

“It gives you some flexibility,” McVay added, citing Talib’s “command” and “ability to communicate.”12

Peters experienced what appeared to be a down season in his first year in L.A., coming up with only three interceptions while being graded 100th among 119 qualified corners by Pro Football Focus. His response, when asked about how 2018 played out: “We ain’t done yet.”

Peters has a chance to ensure that by redeeming himself.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

“You look forward to those rematches and stuff like that,” Peters said, “but s—, I didn’t know it was going to turn out like this. Y’all didn’t know it was going to turn out like this. It just happened. Y’all have fun spinning the gumbo thing all week.”

“I see y’all trying to make it something that it’s not, man,” Peters said. “Just all respect to Sean Payton and what he does. During the game, things was happening. But I just love the fact that he’s a competitor. When I was coming out of the draft, it was the same way — fiery, energy — when I was meeting with him and things like that. It wasn’t nothing to be disrespectful. Shoot, I was pissed off. I didn’t have the game that I wanted to have.”

11

Who believes in the Patriots? Almost everyone, actually

Tom Brady stood at the lectern after winning his eighth straight divisional-round playoff game, wearing a black ski cap on his head, smiling patiently as he listened to a question attempting to summarize the sentiments of his haters, who are apparently numerous.

Hey, Tom, the questioner began, as one does when greeting a friend, or loved one. Once again this week, there was a lot of talk about how this was the end of the dynasty, and how you’re were going to fall off a cliff. I’m sure winning is sweet, but is it even sweeter when you continue to prove people wrong?nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Brady, who still had traces of eye black faintly visible on his 41-year-old face, mulled the question for several seconds, trying to stifle a wry grin that would potentially reveal far more than his answer.
Which he has almost no shot of winning: Brady is going up against the juggernaut that is the Kansas City Chiefs, a team it’s almost impossible to imagine him defeating, as long as you ignore that he did it once already this season; or that only four teams (Broncos, Ravens, Jets, Colts) have ever kept him from playing in the Super Bowl.11

The reality is Tom Brady simply wanted it more, and we, his critics, have been afraid to write the truth, even those three times we voted him the league’s Most Valuable Player, or the four times we voted him the MVP of the Super Bowl.

“Everyone thinks we suck and we can’t win any games,” Brady said on the field after earning a berth in his eighth consecutive AFC championship, twice as many as Jim Kelly led the Buffalo Bills to consecutively in the 1990s. “We’ll see. It’ll be fun.”

Brady was letting us know, in that moment, that he has heard our whispers, he has absorbed our doubts, while also continuing to ignore the noise because he never hears what is said or written about him, especially not the thousands and thousands of words written each week discussing his greatness.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

With 28 career playoff wins, how could anyone argue otherwise? Obviously, a quarterback who didn’t like winning so much would have, eventually, lost some of those games on purpose, or even grown tired of winning, as Brady’s old golf buddy, President Trump, likes to say. Perhaps that is the real difference between Brady and Philip Rivers, a man who fell to 0-8 in his career against the Patriots in this divisional-round loss. It has little to do with the fact that Brady has played his entire career for an organization with tremendous wealth and stability, in front of a rabid and loyal fan base, and for an exceptional coach with an uncanny knack for talent acquisition.

12

James Bettcher’s first season came with giant limitations

Bettcher is a coach accustomed to leading top-10 defenses, which he did in each of his three seasons as a coordinator in Arizona. He is used to playing uber-aggressively and attacking opposing quarterbacks with blitzes from every direction. His Cardinals defenses were 10th, second and first, respectively, in blitz percentage each of the previous three seasons.

Things were certainly “different” in his first year with the Giants, beginning with Bettcher failing to command a top-10 defense for the first time in his career. It wasn’t what the Giants or Bettcher were expecting when he was hired last offseason. The Giants finished 24th in total defense (371.4 yards per game) and 22nd in weighted DVOA (42 percent).china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Hamstrung by a lack of lack of talent and inexperience, this was an unfamiliar Bettcher defense. The Giants blitzed only 26.3 percent of the defensive snaps, which was 22nd in the NFL. That was significantly less than when Bettcher blitzed 33-45 percent of the time in his three years with the Cardinals.12

“Different place. Different players. Every situation is different,” Shurmur said. “No different than working on offense if you have a different style of quarterback. You have to maximize the strengths of the players you’re working with. Same here. Our roster looks a little bit different than it did in Arizona, so he’s trying to do what he can to try to get the most out of our players.”

Three of the four top-paid players on the roster are on offense. Gettleman used the No. 2 overall pick on running back Saquon Barkley. His top free-agent acquisition was left tackle Nate Solder, who signed the largest contract in NFL history at the time for an offensive lineman, and his biggest move since taking the job was signing star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to a long-term deal that made him the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history. Four of the Giants’ past five first-round picks were also offense, offense, offense. This team is invested in its offense.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Yet the defense that itself scored three touchdowns in the second half of the season was the primary culprit for 5-11? It’s a tough narrative to accept for what another NFL executive described as a group of “mismatched parts and not many playmakers.”

It seems a strange approach to deflect blame from an offense that took time to get accustomed to Shurmur’s new scheme and get its offensive line in order. The second half of the season was better, but it was already too late.

11

Michael Thomas primed for playoffs, fueled by doubters

Thomas was named a first-team All-Pro in his third NFL season after setting franchise records with 125 catches and 1,405 yards to go with nine touchdown grabs. And now he’s got another chance to flex on the biggest of stages, as the No. 1-seeded Saints begin their playoff run Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles (4:40 p.m. ET, Fox) in an NFC divisional-round game.

“The playoff stage is just all about winning,” Thomas said this week, rejecting the question about what it means for him personally. “Whatever it takes to win, be the last team standing, play for a championship and ultimately win a championship is what the playoffs mean to me.

“[This opportunity] is a blessing. It’s what we work for. That’s what training camp, OTAs, all the meetings, all the extra work after [practice], the offseason reps — it’s a testament to the position we’re in now. And we just want to keep it going.”

Thomas, however, has never made any secret about his lofty aspirations to be considered “right there with the best of them” when all is said and done in his career. And we already have seen glimpses of how he thrives on the biggest stages.

You might remember Thomas catching the game-clinching, 72-yard touchdown in the Saints’ most high-profile showdown of this season against the Los Angeles Rams — then pulling a cellphone out from under the goal post because he had prepared ahead of time for having such a big moment in the spotlight.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Last season’s playoffs were no different.11

Thomas caught eight passes for 131 yards in the Saints’ wild-card victory against Carolina. Then he caught seven passes for 85 yards and two scores in the divisional-round loss at Minnesota. Both of Thomas’ touchdowns came in the second half as New Orleans rallied from a 17-0 deficit — even though he was being guarded by All-Pro cornerback Xavier Rhodes.

Brees has had some great pass-catchers in his 13 years with the Saints — including Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham. But Thomas has emerged more than any of them as someone Brees will target in those gotta-have-it moments, even when he’s being swarmed by No. 1 cornerbacks and double-teams — in part because of the lack of proven depth the Saints have in the rest of their receiving corps.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“Listen, you make good, wise decisions, smart decisions. [But] if he’s one-on-one, I like our odds. Even when he’s 2-on-1, it better be a really good 2-on-1 or else there’s usually still a place you can throw the ball where he can get it and they can’t,” said Brees, who called Thomas’ astounding total of 125 catches “pretty awesome.”

“That says a lot about him, because obviously he gets a lot of attention. It’s not like they just put him on an island every game. He’s getting a lot of double coverage. He’s getting a lot of safeties leaning his way and different things. So, he’s gotta work hard to get open and he does. He does a great job of that.

“He’s highly competitive. He expects to be the guy to get the ball and make the big play, so that’s great. It also opens up opportunities for other guys.”

Payton quickly rejected the notion the Saints would ever target Thomas no matter how heavily he’s being covered: “No, no, no, no, no, no. No. … We don’t just drop back and throw the ball indiscriminately to a player.”

12

Patriots’ game plan vs. Chargers must start with slowing Melvin Ingram

When the New England Patriots were preparing to face the Los Angeles Chargers in October 2017, Bill Belichick noted the presence of pass-rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa by saying they put the Chargers’ defense into a “special category.”

“There’s not many teams in the league that have one player like this. They have two,” he said.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Belichick talking up the opposition is standard operating procedure, but anyone watching the Chargers’ 23-17 wild-card victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday would be hard-pressed to disagree — particularly with Ingram’s ability to control a game.

His speed, first-step quickness and dynamic pass-rush moves contributed to making him a first-round NFL draft choice out of South Carolina in 2012. Offensive tackles across the NFL can attest to how challenging it has been to face him, particularly over the past four seasons, as he has totaled 36 of his 42 career sacks over that span.12

But the Chargers also move Ingram inside, where his speed is a tough matchup for guards and centers at times.

So it’s not just Patriots offensive tackles Trent Brown and Marcus Cannon who have to study up on Ingram and Bosa this week, but left guard Joe Thuney, center David Andrews and right guard Shaq Mason, as well.

That group on the interior has been a strength for the Patriots, with Thuney playing every snap this season and Andrews (99 percent) and Mason (84 percent) not far behind. This is their third year playing together, which has also helped from a cohesion standpoint.

“That group’s been pretty solid, pretty dependable, pretty reliable for us. We’ve been pretty fortunate in that part of the offensive line,” Belichick said in late November.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Quarterback Tom Brady has also helped his own cause at times with his knack for getting rid of the football quickly, which has negated pressure; the Patriots finished the regular season ranked third in the NFL in fewest sacks allowed per pass play. Brady will need a quick trigger Sunday against a Chargers defense that totaled seven sacks against Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, tying a franchise postseason record. All seven of those sacks came with the Chargers rushing four or fewer defenders, which is consistent with their approach in the regular season.

11

With third pick, Jets select … a player in CFP title game?

The New York Jets’ higher-ups won’t make the trek to Santa Clara, California, for the College Football Playoff championship game — the team is kind of tied up with a coaching search — but the Jets’ top talent-evaluators will probably catch the game on TV. They most certainly will study the tape at some point before the draft.

The Jets are picking third, and there’s a decent chance that the player they ultimately select will be playing Monday night, along with a bunch of other potential first-rounders. The most likely candidates for the Jets are Alabama’s Quinnen Williams and Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell, two of the top defensive linemen in what is considered a vintage year for the position.

“You know how excited we were last year by the quarterback class? Well, multiply that by 10 with the defensive linemen that could go in the first round,” said New York-based draft analyst Tony Pauline, publisher of draftanalyst.com. “This will be a historic class.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The Jets know all about first-round defensive linemen. They picked Leonard Williams in 2015, Sheldon Richardson in 2013, Quinton Coples in 2012 and Muhammad Wilkerson in 2011. Remarkably, the only one left is Williams, who is entering the final year of his contract. In fact, the only regular contributors on the defensive line under contract for 2019 are Williams, Nathan Shepherd and Mike Pennel. Henry Anderson and Steve McLendon will be unrestricted free agents. Folorunso Fatukasi, inactive for 15 games as a rookie, is a total wild card.11

The New York Jets’ higher-ups won’t make the trek to Santa Clara, California, for the College Football Playoff championship game — the team is kind of tied up with a coaching search — but the Jets’ top talent-evaluators will probably catch the game on TV. They most certainly will study the tape at some point before the draft.

The Jets are picking third, and there’s a decent chance that the player they ultimately select will be playing Monday night, along with a bunch of other potential first-rounders. The most likely candidates for the Jets are Alabama’s Quinnen Williams and Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell, two of the top defensive linemen in what is considered a vintage year for the position.

“You know how excited we were last year by the quarterback class? Well, multiply that by 10 with the defensive linemen that could go in the first round,” said New York-based draft analyst Tony Pauline, publisher of draftanalyst.com. “This will be a historic class.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

The Jets know all about first-round defensive linemen. They picked Leonard Williams in 2015, Sheldon Richardson in 2013, Quinton Coples in 2012 and Muhammad Wilkerson in 2011. Remarkably, the only one left is Williams, who is entering the final year of his contract. In fact, the only regular contributors on the defensive line under contract for 2019 are Williams, Nathan Shepherd and Mike Pennel. Henry Anderson and Steve McLendon will be unrestricted free agents. Folorunso Fatukasi, inactive for 15 games as a rookie, is a total wild card.

12

Aaron Rodgers scenario highlights sportsbooks’ strategy in light of uncertainty

The uncertainty surrounding Aaron Rodgers’ playing status caused some confusion at sportsbooks, and the way each book has reacted to the Green Bay Packers’ next game reveals the differing philosophies they have about how to handle such situations.

As of Monday night, most U.S. and offshore books are not offering a point spread for Sunday’s game between the Packers and New York Jets. On Sunday night, Green Bay opened as a consensus 3-point road favorite, but bets began to trickle in on the home underdog. By Monday morning, the Jets were favored by 2.5 points.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

“The thing about Rodgers is that he’s probably the single most impactful player to the number, even though he’s not 100 percent [healthy],” Gaughan Gaming sportsbook director Vinny Magliulo told ESPN. Yet Gaughan Gaming-affiliated South Point is still offering a line on the game, which currently sits at pick’em — and they’re one of the only books in the world offering a line.

Caesars (which also has the line at a pick’em) also kept the game on the board. William Hill, which had a line at Jets -1 as of Monday morning, took the game down from the board around noon.12
“It’s a player we respect, so when he bets something, we look at his bet and then just try to see where he’s coming from,” Salmons said. “Then a light bulb goes on, and then we say, ‘Maybe he won’t play.'”

Salmons shared that this particular bettor beat nearly every line movement in the NFL preseason, which relies heavily on information and motivation. The race for an edge is a common practice throughout the sports calendar, but it’s particularly notable when a bettor is able to beat the lines in an age when information spreads so quickly and freely.

“Years ago, we didn’t have all these tools, and you had no idea. Now you have all these tools, so it’s great,” Salmons said.

“Social media’s become a way to keep track of things,” Magliulo said. “You have really credible sources out there. We have people monitoring it all the time. It’s a battle for information. We get it.”cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

11

It’s time for Panthers to shut down Cam Newton for the season

It’s not just time to sit Cam Newton for the rest of the season. It’s time for the Carolina Panthers to consider a potential long-term replacement for their franchise quarterback in free agency or the NFL draft.

The uncertainty surrounding lingering problems with Newton’s right shoulder raises many questions that extend beyond Carolina’s six-game losing streak and 1 percent chance of making the playoffs. If the 2015 NFL MVP needs to have a second shoulder surgery in less than two years, what are the long-term implications? Would he miss an entire season, as Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck did in 2017 after having a similar surgery?cheap nfl jerseys china nike

And if surgery isn’t the answer, would resting Newton for the next two games and the entire offseason assure this issue won’t reappear in 2019?11

Newton played well the next two weeks to help Carolina improve to 6-2. Even after the team fell to 6-5, the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner boasted he was playing the best football of his career. Then he threw four interceptions the next game in Tampa Bay.

Newton has now thrown at least one interception in six straight games after throwing one in only three of the first eight.

Newton’s arm strength has been such an issue that backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke has come in for a Hail Mary pass three times.

“You can’t rub magic dust on it, go to this or that person, have the placebo things done where you think certain things are what they are — and you come out and you’re still the same,” Newton said. “Over the past couple of weeks, nothing has really changed.”nfl nike jerseys for cheap

One thing has. The Panthers (6-8) are for all practical purposes out of the playoff picture, and they’re focused on next season with two games remaining against Atlanta and New Orleans.

That puts the onus on coach Ron Rivera and the medical staff. As of Tuesday, Rivera wasn’t willing to commit to sitting Newton the final two games because the Panthers have a “slim glimmer” of hope of making the playoffs.