Will Eli Manning Be Benched by Pat Shurmur?

eli-manning-benched-2018Last season, former New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo caused a big stir when he benched franchise quarterback Eli Manning in favor of Geno Smith. While this move was only for one game, it raised eyebrows and contributed to McAdoo’s firing.

This is one reason why current Giants coach Pat Shurmur is having trouble pulling the trigger on such a deal this year. Manning is struggling greatly and looking well past his prime. However, Shurmur seems far from benching his starting QB.

Obviously this isn’t easy decision for him when considering the type of heat that McAdoo received for starting Smith last season. But it also looks like a good point in the season to experiment with another quarterback.

The Giants are currently 1-7 going into the bye week and have virtually no chance of making the playoffs. Meanwhile, Manning is 37 years old and the offense has looked terrible.

Rookie Kyle Lauletta – a fourth-round pick – may not ultimately be the franchise’s answer at quarterback. But it also seems ridiculous to not give him a few snaps when considering that Manning isn’t playing well and doesn’t have many years left in the league.

Shurmur Claims He Will “Look at Everything” – But Not Quarterback

The Giants lost 20-13 to the Washington Redskins in a game where they had major difficulties moving the ball. Manning threw two interceptions and only had one meaningless touchdown within the final minute of play.

“I’m going to look at everything as we move forward,” Shurmur said when asked about his struggling offense.

He was pressed on whether he’s evaluated the quarterback position.

“No, I don’t want to go there, I’m not going to tease that,” he said. “I just want to look at everything and see what we have to do moving forward.”

Shurmur obviously isn’t looking to shake things up at the moment. But it seems that he should keep his options open when considering that the team is losing and Manning is playing some of the worst football of his career.

Manning’s No Trade Clause Makes Things Difficult

eli-manning-future-1Making things harder on Shurmur is the fact that Manning has a no-trade clause in his contract. The long-time Giant also says that he won’t consider waiving this clause.

He claims to not be worried about the Giants potentially trying another quarterback. “I have to worry about just doing my job, trying to play and prepare,” he said. “That is not my decision.”

McAdoo totally botched the decision to bench Manning last season. He ended up starting Smith – a known entity – over then-rookie Davis Webb. The latter has since been cut from the team. But it would’ve made more sense to play Webb when considering that little was known on his NFL potential.

Shurmur obviously doesn’t want to repeat the same mistake as McAdoo. Therefore, he’s playing his cards close to his vest and waiting to see what happens the rest of the season.

Nevertheless, this is obviously a lost season for the Giants. They would have to rip off eight straight wins to close the regular season and possibly still need help to get into the playoffs.

That said, it would be nice if New York gave somebody a chance under center coming out of the bye. But don’t expect Shurmur to be hasty in being the one who ends Eli Manning’s career.

Browns Fire Huge Jackson – Posted 3-36-1 Record

hue-jackson-firedHue Jackson didn’t exactly have much success as the Cleveland Browns coach. He’s gone 3-36-1 in nearly two and a half seasons with the team.

Owner Jimmy Haslam, who’s been more patient with Jackson than other coaches under his regime, has finally decided to give the coach a pink slip.

Cleveland stuck with Jackson through a 1-15 first season, and a 0-16 campaign last year. The hope was that they would take a huge step forward in 2018 after adding more talent through the draft and free agency.

The Browns were more competitive to start the year than they had been in previous seasons. However, they blew a couple of winnable games and have now fallen out of playoff contention after a recent blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

At 2-5-1,Cleveland is looking at another losing season. That said, it felt like the right time for the organization to cut ties with him.

The front office reportedly told Jackson “that the team had quit on him and that he wasn’t doing a good job of leading.” He exits Cleveland with a .205 winning percentage in his head coaching career, which ranks second worst in NFL history (40 games minimum) only to Bert Bell, who had a .179 winning percentage from 1936-41.

Hue Jackson Once Seemed Like a Good Hire

hue-jackson-fired-1It’s obvious at this point that Hugh Jackson wasn’t the right man for the Cleveland job. But after a very successful stint as the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator, he seemed like a solid hire three years ago.

Multiple teams were interested in Jackson as a head coach at the time. The Browns, who’ve gone through a number of rocky times with coaches in the past, seemed lucky to land Jackson.

His first season was bad, with the team producing a 1-15 record. Things only got worse the following year as the Browns became just the second team to go winless in 16 contests.

Some thought that he could be fired in the offseason. This is especially the case when considering that they canned general manager Sashi Brown last offseason and brought in new GM John Dorsey.

Nevertheless, Cleveland gave Jackson one more shot to show that he could guide the team to improvement. The Browns started well enough, going 1-1-1 over the first three games and looking far more competitive. But they’ve since devolved to a 1-4 record in their last five contests.

Did Hard Knocks Lay the Seed for Jackson Being Fired?

Aside from Jackson’s terrible record as the Browns coach, he also indicated friction between he and offensive coordinator Tom Haley in a recent press conference.

This is strange when considering that Jackson actually pursued Haley to be his handpicked offensive coordinator. Furthermore, he promised to be hands-off and let Haley call all of the plays on offense.

The HBO show Hard Knocks created a narrative that Haley was more of an alpha coach, while Jackson was more passive. This may have played a role in Hugh’s recent press conference comments, where he discussed getting more involved in the offense after the Pittsburgh game.

“There’s nothing wrong with my relationship with Haley,” Jackson said.

“I said what I said last week [about wanting to be more involved in the offense] and obviously it had legs. But I’ve never said I wanted to take over play-calling. I said I wanted to help. That’s it.”

Here’s more on the Hard Knocks friction from Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio:

“Jackson apparently was irritated with some of the perceptions created by the editing of the “Hard Knocks” series. Chief among them was how his coaching style was portrayed against the demonstrative barking storylines of Haley and Williams, who were often framed as the salty counterparts to Jackson’s somewhat less-profane (on TV, anyway) brand of leadership.

“One moment in particular was recalled by multiple sources: a disagreement Jackson had in a meeting with Haley and running backs coach Freddie Kitchens (who has a close relationship with Haley), over the resting of players.

“During that incident, Jackson shut down Haley and Kitchens, who disagreed with resting players to avoid injuries in practice. Jackson then punctuated his authority in the decision, closing the debate by stating “[At] the end of the day, I get to drive this bus, and I’m going to get it the way I want it. That’s it. Period. That’s just how it works.”

For Haslam’s part, he was looking to avoid any knee-jerk reactions. After all, he’s gone through a number of head coaches while owning the Browns.

The owner spoke with Dorsey about the Haley situation and Jackson’s overall resume with Cleveland. It appears that the conversation steered towards getting rid of the head coach, rather than the OC.

Who Could Be the Browns Head Coach?

Cleveland has a few options for how they can go about replacing Jackson. Haley and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams both have head coaching experience.

They could also pull a former head coach off the street who’s interested in guiding a team. Another option includes hiring an up-and-coming coordinator who’d be willing to implement their system mid-season.

Whatever the case may be, things can’t turn out any worse with the next coach than they did with Jackson.

Can Bears Win without Khalil Mack?

khalil-mack-injuryKhalil Mack has played a huge role in the Chicago Bears being competitive in the early going. However, he may have to sit this weekend against the New York Jets.

Mack, who’s already recorded five sacks and four forced fumbles, has been dealing with an ankle injury over the past two weeks. He hurt his ankle in Week 6 against the Miami Dolphins and hasn’t had the same impact in the past two games.

With Mack hampered, the team has given up an average of 461 yards to the Dolphins and New England Patriots.

The defense has really struggled with their best player no longer able to push off and explode like he did in the first four games of the season. That said, it’s worth wondering if Chicago can win against New York without their star linebacker.

Bears Need to Decide if It’s Worth Risking Mack’s Health

The Chicago Bears gave up two first-round draft picks along with two more picks in order to acquire Mack. The latter has already proven that he’s worth far more than what Chicago gave up when he’s healthy.

Khalil made game-changing plays in each of the first four games, including an interception that he returned for a touchdown. The problem now, though, is that Mack isn’t healthy anymore.

khalil-mack-bears-mvp-1It’s obvious that he can’t run like he did earlier in the season. While Mack is still a good linebacker even when hurt, he’s not the same game-changer right now.

He’s started 70 straight games. But Chicago really needs to decide if they should keep trotting Mack out when he’s obviously not 100%.

“It’s not easy,” said Bears head coach Matt Nagy. “That’s where the trust level from both ends has to be there.

“The player has to understand where we’re coming from as a team as to (asking) where you’re at percentage-wise. We all know he’s not 100 percent, but where are you at? That’s where we trust him, he trusts us and then we go ahead with the action plan.”

Chicago Needs the MVP Version of Khalil Mack

Earlier this season, I discussed how Khalil Mack looked like a serious candidate to win MVP as a defensive player. Odds are that this is no longer happening due to his slowdown and gimpy angle. But that doesn’t mean he can’t still help Chicago make the playoffs.

They’ve now lost two games with the limited version of Mack on the field. Their 3-3 record doesn’t inspire much trust in a postseason run right now. So why not just sit Mack for one or two weeks and let him return to his dominant self?

As it is right now, Khalil isn’t helping the team win any contests by himself. Chicago really has nothing to lose by sitting him until he’s 100% healthy again. In fact, they’d be better off letting him rest and losing the next two games, then having Mack back at full strength.

Of course, the Bears are actually big favorites against the Jets at home. This makes it seem like an even better idea to let Khalil rest.

Bears vs. Jets Odds

With Mack’s availability up in the air, it’s difficult to handicap the upcoming Chicago vs. New York matchup. But you should currently treat this situation as if Mack isn’t going to play, or at least not be himself.

Regardless of Mack’s situation, Chicago is a big favorite going into tomorrow’s contest (odds here at GTBets):

  • New York Jets +9.5 (-108); +345 moneyline; O 42.5 (-109)
  • Chicago Bears -9.5 (-111); -444 moneyline; U 42.5 (-109)

Marshawn Lynch Put on IR – Career Over?

marshawn-lynch-raiders-injured-reserveMarshawn Lynch has been one of the NFL’s most talented running backs for over a decade. However, his career might be over after he was placed on injured reserve this week.

NFL.com’s Tom Telissero reports that the Oakland Raiders placed Lynch on IR due to a groin injury. The 32-year-old was originally slated to miss 4-6 weeks with the injury. However, the team later found that the groin injury stems from a core muscle.

Considering how Lynch has already retired once in his career, it’s very possible that he won’t come back after suffering what could be a season-ending injury.

There’s a Possibility that Lynch Returns in Late December

Again, odds are that Marshawn Lynch has played his last game. However, this isn’t completely decided at this point.

Being put on IR means that he must sit a minimum of eight weeks. Therefore, Lynch could technically return on December 24 for the Raiders’ last home game of the season.

Obviously there’s no reason for him to come back from a competitive standpoint. Oakland is currently 1-5 and looking to trade key pieces of their team for draft picks and/or young players. But he may have incentive to return from a personal standpoint.

Lynch is an Oakland native who was excited to come out of retirement in order to play for his hometown team. Furthermore, it’s possible that this may be the Raiders’ last game in Oakland.

Their lease with the Coliseum is up after the season. The Raiders haven’t announced where they’re going to play in 2019 before moving to Las Vegas in 2020. Assuming Lynch heals up quickly, he can play in this final home game and also be available for a Week 17 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Could Lynch Continue Playing Beyond 2018?

marshawn-lynch-raiders-injured-reserve-1No matter if Lynch does or doesn’t return in late December, this will assuredly be his final season in Oakland. He sat out the 2016 campaign after retiring as a Seattle Seahawk. And he only signed with the Raiders in order to play in Oakland. With the hometown aspect no longer in play, it’s highly likely that Lynch will move on.

But this isn’t saying that he’s guaranteed to retire at the end of the season. If Lynch still feels like playing football, he could sign as a free agent somewhere else.

He’s shown that he still has something left in the tank, rushing for 376 yards on 90 carries – good for a 4.2 yards per carry average. He’s also the best running back on Oakland’s roster.

Assuming Lynch wants to continue playing, then it’s likely he can find a backup role on another team. This is especially the case regarding a contender who wants an experienced running back for depth.

Assuming he does retire, though, then he’ll go out with five Pro Bowl appearances, a Super Bowl victory, and more than 10,000 rushing yards.

Who Will Fill Oakland’s No. 1 Running Back Slot?

Doug Martin is poised to take over duties as the starting running back. Martin, who had several good seasons in Tampa Bay, will take over early downs with Lynch injured.

Jalen Richard will also play a big role out of the backfield. Richard has done a fine job as a receiving back, tallying 31 catches for 253 yards. DeAndre Washington may also see some snaps as the season progresses.

By and large, this Oakland team is simply looking to get through the season and acquire young talent through the draft and otherwise. But they still need somebody to fill all of their positions until then, including running back. Look for this role to be filled by a committee, headed by Martin.

Eagles Exploring Trade for DaVante Parker

devante-parker-eagles-tradeThe Philadelphia Eagles benefited greatly last year from a midseason trade with the Miami Dolphins that brought in running back Jay Ajayi. The defending Super Bowl champions are now looking at Miami again for a potential season-changing deal.

As reported by the Miami Herald, Philadelphia has contacted Miami about a trade for receiver DeVante Parker. The Dolphins have been willing to trade Parker for quite some time to according to rumors. Now, it seems like a very distinct possibility when considering the Eagles’ interest.

Bringing in Parker won’t immediately help Philadelphia’s need for a running back. But it would give them another strong offensive weapon and provide depth at wide receiver.

Why Is Parker on the Trading Block?

Miami took Parker with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. He was expected to be a game-altering wide receiver for the team. And he showed signs of improvement in 2016, when he tallied career highs of 744 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

However, Parker has never quite materialized into the elite receiver Miami was hoping for. He’s especially played poorly as of late, catching just two passes for 40 yards in two games this season.

One reason why he’s played badly is due to a quadriceps injury. But there have also been plenty of times where he’s been a healthy scratch.

Overall, injuries have plagued Parker throughout his NFL career. He has 141 catches for 1,948 yards and eight touchdowns through three and half seasons.

Why Are the Eagles So Interested in Parker?

As mentioned before, Philly could really use another running back after losing Ajayi for the season. But they could also use another quality receiver to bolster their depth at this position.

Alshon Jeffrey and Nelson Agholor are fine weapons for quarterback Carson Wentz. But the team has struggled mightily to find another consistent receiving weapon. Jordan Mathews was signed this season as a fill-in. However, he’s only managed to catch six balls through four games.

Kamar Aiken had the same amount of catches until he was released Friday. Mike Wallace and Mack Hollins are on injured reserve, with their returns being uncertain. DeAndre Carter and Shelton Gibson are deep on the depth chart and won’t provide any immediate help.

Parker could easily be the third best wide receiver on this roster. He’s an upgrade over Matthews, who’s seen better days. And he’s definitely more talented than Gibson and Carter at this point.

Parker actually has the size and athleticism to become Philadelphia’s top wide receiver. He’s 6’3″, 216 pounds, and runs a 4.45 forty.

Of course, Parker has yet to put these tools to full use. And Philly would no doubt look to renegotiate his $9.38 million salary for 2019 if he chooses to remain with the team. Nevertheless, he could provide immediate help for a team that’s currently struggling just to make the playoffs.

What Would Philadelphia Have to Give Up?

The Miami Herald report doesn’t discuss the exact details of what Philly is offering. Chances are, though, that they’re only willing to part with mid or late-round draft picks in order to land Parker.

Philadelphia still sees themselves as contenders after their dominant run to the postseason last year. Therefore, they won’t give up any key pieces that would hamper their chances of repeating.

It’s worth mentioning that Miami has received calls from other teams on Parker’s availability. But Philadelphia has raised the most eyebrows when considering that they’re in dire straits and need receivers who can make plays.

Raiders Looking to Trade First Rounders Amari Cooper, Karl Joseph

amari-cooper-raidersJon Gruden didn’t waste much time making a splash after becoming the Oakland Raiders head coach this offseason. He quickly shipped Pro Bowl linebacker Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears in exchange for first-round picks in 2019 and 2020, a third-round pick in 2020, and a sixth-rounder in 2019.

It doesn’t look like Gruden is anywhere near finished, because he’s also considering trades for former first-round picks wide receiver Amari Cooper and safety Karl Joseph.

Here’s what’s FOX’s Jay Glazer has to say on the issue:

“They already traded Khalil Mack. Very controversial. Now they are looking to shop Karl Joseph, their first round pick from two years ago.

“[They] called all around the league on him. And another name they are calling around on, but not as much, but still, they are shopping him, is Amari Cooper, their first round wide receiver. So, fire sale in Oakland.”

The Raiders Appear Willing to Trade Anybody

Oakland is only two years removed from a 12-4 season, where they might have made some noise in the playoffs had starting quarterback Derek Carr not gotten hurt. But following a 6-10 campaign last year and the notable hiring of Gruden, the team is obviously headed in a new direction.

That said, Oakland isn’t above trading anybody on their roster this point. They’ve already shipped off the best player on the team and are now in talks to move two more former first rounders.

This would leave cornerback Gareon Conley and offensive lineman Kolten Miller as the only remaining Raiders’ first-round picks on the team. Oakland selected Conley and Miller as their top choices in 2016 and ’17.

Of course, this was under different management. So don’t be surprised to see the Raiders continue making trades throughout the season.

Is Oakland Tanking?

jon-gruden-raiders-give-back-moneyIt took a 10-year, $100-million contract to pull Gruden out of the announcer’s booth and onto the sidelines. Given the longevity of his deal, Jon 3:16 is in no hurry to win now.

This is especially the case when considering that Oakland has already secured at least one win, meaning they can tank and avoid joining Cleveland and Detroit as the only teams to go 0-16.

Gruden has time on his side and doesn’t seem to be trying overly hard to win right now. This has brought on allegations that he’s tanking in order to secure more high draft picks in the coming spring.

Reggie McKenzie may be the general manager, but NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reports that Gruden is actually the brains behind roster moves. This would make sense when considering that Mack was suddenly traded for less than his market value.

Gruden denies that his team is tanking, even going so far as to tell his players this in a team meeting. However, Rapoport suggests that the players aren’t buying this and they expect “major roster upheaval in the next couple years.”

Rapoport also reports that Gruden thinks it will take up to two years to get the players he wants on his team. Considering that Oakland will be moving to Las Vegas within a couple of years, the entire organization may be onboard with building a winner for the future, rather than now.