Todd Bowles

NFL Draft Notes: Dolphins, Browns, Jets, Raiders, Bucs

The Dolphins are serious about moving back in the draft if the board operates as the team expects, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald writes.

Beasley says if the quarterbacks the team are targeting all go early, the team would be more than happy to trade back, pick up additional assets and target a linebacker like Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch.

Though the team did not have Vander Esch in for a pre-draft visit, Miami did meet with him at the Combine in February and not having a pre-draft visit did not stop it from selecting Charles Harris in 2017.

Trading back with the hopes of landing the Boise State standout could be a risky proposition. The quick linebacker has been one of the fastest rising names in the days leading up to Thursday’s NFL Draft.

Here’s more concerning the upcoming draft:

  • The MMQB’s Peter King released his first-round mock draft on Monday and has Sam Darnold pegged as the No. 1 pick to the Browns. King cites his pick on the team’s need to be safe and a source who is “someone I trust, who is very often right and is very well-connected, told me Sunday it’s not [Josh] Allen.” 
  • In the same mock draft, King tabbed Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea to the Dolphins at No. 11. Miami was believed to be one of the teams looking to move up for a quarterback like Baker Mayfield. “I’ve started to think, through what I’ve heard in the pre-draft process, that Miami is more likely to stick with Ryan Tannehill (who has missed the last 19 games with injury) and continue the progress he was making with Adam Gase in the 2016 season.”
  • Unlike the Browns, who plan to have their drafted quarterback watch from the sidelines in 2018, the Jets are not opposed to having their top pick — should they draft a quarterback — starting from Day One, Jets head coach Todd Bowles tells Newsday’s Calvin Watkins“It depends on the progress,” Bowles said. “I’m not afraid to play young players at any position. You go in and compete and as you gain confidence in the system, understand what you’re doing and go through training camp.” New York is highly expected to take a signal-caller at No. 3.
  • The Buccaneers could trade back with a team looking to land a quarterback and pick up a running back or pass rusher with the move, Florida Football Insiders speculates. Though the Broncos and Colts have been heavily linked to trade back, the Bucs also make sense. Should they land in the middle to late in the first round, they could target LSU running back Derrius Guice or UT San Antonio defensive end Marcus Davenport.
  • The Raiders are looking to upgrade their receiver depth and could target the position in the upcoming draft, Scott Bair of NBC Sports writes. Though it won’t likely look for a receiver at No. 10, several options like Christian Kirk and James Washington could be on the board in the second round.

Jets Open To Bringing Back Josh McCown

Jets head coach Todd Bowles said the team would be interested in bringing back starting quarterback Josh McCown in 2018 if the two sides can agree to a deal, ESPN’s Rich Cimini writes. Josh McCown (vertical)

Bowles said the arrangement would be “contingent on a lot of things,” first and foremost being if McCown is even playing next season. The 38-year-old journeyman quarterback found a home with the Jets in 2017 and impressed, throwing for 2,926 yards and 18 touchdowns with nine interceptions in 13 games.

Though he posted a career year, McCown could opt for retirement to begin a coaching career. He said he would talk with his family at the end of the season before coming to a decision.

The signing of McCown was one of the top free-agent moves of the 2017 season for the Jets, who secured the veteran with a one-year $6MM deal. When he broke his non-throwing hand in Week 14, McCown ranked 11th in passer rating.

“Josh had a great year,” Bowles said. “It would be great to have him back. It’s business in this league. He has decisions to make, we have decisions to make. Hopefully, they can meet and we’ll go from there.”

Though not the future at the position, McCown would present a more than adequate stopgap until the new signal-caller is found. The Jets have the No. 6 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and could target a quarterback in the first round. The team also has young prospects like Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty on the roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Jets, Pouncey

James Harrison fired back at the Steelers regarding his 2017 tactics, saying he repeatedly asked for a release this season. The Patriots linebacker said he asked for a release at the beginning of the season when it was clear his role was not what he thought it was going to be, but the team didn’t grant the request, he said on Instagram (via NESN’s Doug Kyed, on Twitter). The 39-year-old edge defender, who did have an extensive role in 2016, said the Steelers continued to tell him he would play only to deactivate him on Sundays or dress him and not deploy him. Harrison has played just 40 snaps across five games this season.

The new Patriots defender — who said he may not have “handled his frustration” well, seeming to confirm some of the accounts of ex-Steelers teammates — said he asked to be released (well, waived, since the trade deadline has passed) early last week before finally seeing the team do so. Harrison said Pittsburgh did not assure him he would be brought back, but the team also didn’t close the door on that possibility prior to his Patriots signing. He described the signing with New England as a “business decision.”

Here’s more from the AFC East.

  • Harrison said no other teams made offers to sign him, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald notes. Unsurprisingly, Harrison’s Patriots deal is for the prorated veteran minimum. He will earn $58K for his work this week plus playoff shares depending on how far New England advances, Tom Pelissero of tweets. The Steelers signed Harrison to a two-year contract in March and paid him $2.13MM this season.
  • The JetsTodd Bowles extension talks may have begun as recently as late December, with Rich Cimini of reporting Jets CEO Christopher Johnson opting to be proactive instead of letting Bowles enter a walk year and opening the door to other teams’ overtures. Specifically, Cimini writes that speculation about a Bowles/Cardinals reunion swirled for months. Bruce Arians will make a decision about his future in the offseason, but Bowles excelled as Arizona’s DC before coming to New York. Cimini also notes the Buccaneers, who are keeping Dirk Koetter for 2018, were a team the Jets knew would’ve been interested.
  • One of the reasons the Jets kept Bowles was the team’s surprisingly competitive season with several little-known players thrust to the forefront because of the offseason veteran purge. Ian Rapoport of notes (video link) Bowles doing more with less was not lost on ownership.
  • The Patriots‘ decision to unload Jimmy Garoppolo at the trade deadline hasn’t been fully embraced within the organization, with Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston reporting some felt the team should have pushed the situation as far as it could go — possibly into 2018. While trading Tom Brady was not a broached subject, Curran notes, his age and Garoppolo’s talent made some in Foxborough want to keep Garoppolo as an insurance policy. While that would have been a tricky process, given the $23MM franchise tag’s involvement, Garoppolo is likely going to be tagged after a breakout showing with the 49ers.
  • Mike Pouncey‘s severe hip injury — one that he’s said will induce a hip replacement at some point in the not-too-distant future — prompted one doctor say his career was over, the seventh-year center said (via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald). However, the Dolphins center made it through 15 games this season. Despite Pro Football Focus grading Pouncey as the league’s No. 25 center this season, Beasley notes the snapper is one of Adam Gase‘s favorites and can expect to be back in 2018.
  • PFF graded Jets guard Brian Winters as one of its worst offensive linemen this season, and the fifth-year player revealed why that might have been the case on Saturday. Winters said (via Twitter) he tore two midsection muscles in Week 2 and tried to play through the maladies the rest of the way. The recently extended lineman will undergo surgery. The Jets placed him on IR earlier this week.

Jets Extend Todd Bowles, Mike Maccagnan

The Jets are going forward with their current management structure. The team announced extensions for both Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan, and Brian Costello of the New York Post reports (on Twitter) these are two-year agreements.

Both of these re-ups run through 2020, per Ian Rapoport of (on Twitter). Both were headed into the final years of their initial Jets contracts.

We are very happy to have extended both Mike and Todd,” Jets CEO Christopher Johnson said. “During their time here, they have worked together to help the organization build a foundation on which to grow. I believe we are headed in the right direction. This provides us continuity and stability as we continue to move this team towards sustained success. We still have a lot of work to do and I am excited to work closely with both of them as we move forward.”

Bowles had been a fringe hot-seat occupant, but as the season went along, his overachieving team showed promise unexpected of a roster that was purged of many veterans this past offseason.

Although the Jets may finish 5-11 for the second straight season, they were expected to vie for the 2018 No. 1 overall pick. Bowles looks to have shown ownership he deserves more time to attempt to thrust Gang Green back to contention. This season had Jets sources “raving” about Bowles’ performance as recently as a month ago, but no extension appeared imminent at that point.

Since being hired together in 2015, Maccagnan and Bowles have steered the Jets to a 20-27 record. Maccagnan cut numerous vets this offseason, severing ties with many of the franchise’s higher-profile talents brought in prior to his arrival, but observed Bowles lead the team to wins over the playoff-bound Jaguars and Chiefs while having a team that was perhaps favored to land the ’18 No. 1 selection to an over-.500 mark in October.

The Jets narrowly missed the 2015 playoffs and won 10 games before regressing to 5-11 last season. Barring an upset as a two-touchdown-plus underdog Sunday in New England, the Jets are going to repeat that five-win showing. But some recent investments — like Josh McCown, Jamal Adams, Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse and Leonard Williams — have paid dividends for this year’s iteration. And Gang Green will have more cap space than it’s held in years this coming offseason. The Jets are projected to possess more than $80MM in space. That figure expected to approach $100MM only by jettisoning Muhammad Wilkerson, about whom Maccagnan clearly has buyer’s remorse, and will be able to augment their roster in a number of ways.

And Christopher Johnson, making a big decision after Woody Johnson ceded day-to-day control of the team after becoming U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, is confident in the current power structure’s ability to manage this cap space and further place the Jets in position to contend in the near future.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Breer’s Latest: Black Monday Preview

With the final week of the NFL’s regular season approaching, that only means two things; 12 teams will soon be focusing on reaching the Super Bowl, while the rest will start to look ahead to next season. One major part of looking forward is addressing who on the coaching staff will be returning in 2018. Many of these coaching questions are answered on the day following Week’s 17 conclusion, conveniently called “Black Monday”.

Veteran reporter Albert of Breer of Sports Illustrated, gave a preview of the coaches he expects to stay and the ones that will likely be shown the door in his most recent column. Breer ranked the potential firings as “Likely/Done”, “We’ll See”, and “It’s Complicated”. In total, there were 15 head coaches mentioned who could see their situations change starting next week.

Here’s a quick look at Breer’s takes on some of the league’s hottest coaching questions:

  • There were five head coaches included in the “likely/done” category including: BearsJohn Fox, BengalsMarvin Lewis, LionsJim Caldwell, ColtsChuck Pagano and and the Giants‘ interim coach Steve Spagnuolo. The four full-time head coaches on this list have all had their fair share of success in the league. In fact, three of them led their current teams to multiple playoff appearances during their tenure. However, Caldwell and Lewis have been unable to win a postseason game with Pagano and Fox having failed at continuing the past success they have shown during their careers in football. Breer notes that while the “expectation is that Fox will be gone”, the decision on the fate of general manager Ryan Pace is true question facing the franchise this offseason. There’s been rapid speculation about Lewis, Caldwell and Pagano throughout the year, so their inclusion on this list is no surprise. Finally, the Giants are currently interviewing general manager candidates who will almost certainly be looking to lead their own head coaching search once hired.
  • Breer puts six current head coaches in the ‘we’ll see” part of the list. This portion mentions the CardinalsBruce Arians, BroncosVance Joseph, RaidersJack Del Rio, BuccaneersDirk Koetter, TitansMike Mularkey and the RedskinsJay Gruden. There’s a variety of situations going on here with Breer noting that Arizona could see Arians retire, which could lead them to other current NFL head coaches: Todd Bowles and Bill O’Brien. Del Rio and Gruden have had their fair share of success because of quality quarterback play, but both have managed to decrease confidence because of an inconsistent 2017 season. However, Breer points out that both are signed long-term so their owners would have to eat the remaining years of their current deals. Mularkey and Koetter were rewarded for the relationships they formed with their QB’s, but there’s been disappointment with how this season has unfolded for their teams. Breer notes that should Mularkey lose this Sunday, he could be on the chopping block come Monday morning with the team looking to hire an offensive-minded coach like Josh McDaniels. Finally, Joseph has forced himself to the hot seat even in his first year of coaching the Broncos, though Breer says himself that this situation is “unpredictable” given that team president John Elway is just “not pleased with how the season’s gone”.
  • Browns head coach Hue Jackson, and the two previously mentioned O’Brien and Bowles of the Texans and Jets, find themselves on the “it’s complicated” section of Breer’s roundup largely because of just the many factors are at play in regards to their situations. Jackson got a vote of confidence from owner Jimmy Haslam himself, but new general manager John Dorsey could have his sights on implementing his own guy after a winless season. O’Brien has made the playoffs before, but has struggled committing to a QB even after the team selected Deshaun Watson in the first round. Bowles has done a lot with a little in New York this season, but ownership could go in a different direction with a new starting signal caller likely walking into the building next year. Also, there is the potential that all three coaches could move onto new head coaching gigs with the number of openings that could be available this offseason. The final and definitely most surprising inclusion on this list was Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, who Breer mentions could retire at age 66 with a roster about to see major turnover in the next few years. Although, I would venture that nothing he’s said this season would indicate that being the case.

Jets Notes: Wilkerson, Bowles, QB’s

Jets embattled defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson was inactive for the second game in a row in the team’s loss to the Chargers in Week 16. While Wilkerson did sign a lucrative $86MM contract extension about a year and a half ago, it’s unlikely that the former first round pick will be back in New York next season, opines Rich Cimini of

Heach coach Todd Bowles was unsure whether the healthy scratch trend would continue for Wilkerson in the final week of the regular season, noting to reporters simply that “We’ll see.” Cimini also points out that the decision to keep Wilkerson off the field appeared to come directly from Bowles himself and not the front office.

“I made him inactive,” Bowles said. “Coach’s decision.”

Wilkerson did practice during the week, but notably arrived late for a team meeting, which may have ultimately titled Bowles’ decision to sit his highest-paid player. Cimini further reports that the Jets plan on cutting the 28-year-old before his $16.8MM salary becomes guaranteed in March.

The Jets decided to extend Wilkerson after a 12.5 sack performance in 2015. But he’s disappointed since then, collecting just eight sacks in 28 games, including only 3.5 sacks this season.

Here’s more stories surrounding Gang Green:

  • In another story from Cimini, he passes along that while the Jets will finish under-.500 for the second season in a row, Bowles should still be the team’s head coach come Week 1 next year based on what Jets ownership has said throughout this season. Acting owner Christopher Johnson emphasized early on the word “progress” over “playoffs” and it seems like the team has made a lot of strides in Bowles’ third go around with the franchise. The Jets have been in nearly every game this year without the talent you expect from a at least a mildly competitive team. “You just keep your head down and just keep working,” Bowles said. “We’re in every game. We’re not closing them out. We’re not finishing them. For whatever reason, we’re not making plays in the fourth quarter to finish these games. You keep working and you keep trying to find a solution.” Cimini only sees the Jets ownership firing Bowles if there is a dramatic shift in philosophy, even though there’s be nothing to signal that there is a change in the way Johnson is thinking about the future of the organization.
  • Former fourth round pick Bryce Petty continues to struggle in a starting role for the Jets. Cimini notes that since he made his first start in 2016, the former Baylor quarterback has thrown at least one interception and no more than one touchdown in every start he’s made. Without veteran QB Josh McCown, the team has taken a major step back with Petty under center, which has caused a lot of frustration around the team, according to Brian Costello of the Brian Costello of the New York Post“Bryce needs to work his way through things,” Bowles explained. “It’s only his second game starting this year. He needs to go through that.” However, it’s clear that after two separate tryouts in the past two seasons, Petty doesn’t look like he’s going to be a major factor on the Jets QB depth chart moving forward.
  • Costello also reports that backup quarterback Christian Hackenberg was close to relieving Petty at some point in the second half, but Bowles ultimately decided to keep him on the sideline. “Bryce is the backup quarterback,” Bowles explained. “He won it in the summer. You put the backup in. You don’t put a three over a two. Christian is not that bad. Bryce did not have a good ballgame. It’s only his second start. I’m not going to sit here and condemn the guy because he didn’t play well in week two of starting this year after not playing all year.” Hackenberg has been notably absent from the quarterback conversation since he was drafted by New York in the second of the 2016 NFL Draft. Many pundits understood that he was raw coming out of Penn State, but it’s been surprising that he has gotten zero snaps in what’s been two lost seasons for the franchise. The lack of playing time certainly points to the Jets looking for another long-term option either in the draft or the free agent market for next year’s team.

Jets Haven’t Discussed Extension With Todd Bowles

The Jets have yet to approach head coach Todd Bowles regarding a contract extension, a source tells Darryl Slater of Bowles (Vertical)

Bowles inked a four-year contract when he became New York’s head coach prior to the 2015 campaign, so he won’t be without a deal until 2018. Still, the majority of NFL head coaches don’t serve as “lame ducks” — in other words, most coaches aren’t forced to head into the final season of their contract without a new pact in place. As such, an extension — if in the cards — could come together before next year gets underway.

Signing Bowles to an extension would have seemed far-fetched just three months ago, as the Jets were widely thought to be in the midst of a deep rebuild. But despite Gang Green jettisoning many of its experienced players, the club has surprised with a 5-7 record. While they’re not competing for a playoff berth, the Jets have shown enough this season that Bowles will almost certainly be asked to return in 2018. Sources inside the New York building are reportedly “raving” about Bowles’ performance with a young Jets roster in 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Rumors: Bowles, Manning, Williams

The Jets have slunk to 4-7 after a promising start, but Todd Bowles‘ job appears to be safe going into Gang Green’s December slate. Sources throughout the organization are “raving” about the third-year coach’s ability to coax what he has from this young team, Ralph Vacchiano of reports. Bowles’ Jets are one win away from last season’s total, and five of New York’s seven defeats have come by one score. Vacchiano notes a short-term offseason extension is possible, and while he expects Bowles to receive a fourth season with the Jets, that won’t be decided until the offseason.

Here’s the latest from the Eastern divisions in advance of Thursday night’s NFC East clash.

  • Despite the Giants‘ panned decision to bench Eli Manning, the franchise quarterback places a value on playing an entire career for one team, Albert Breer of notes. So, a Tony Romo-esque exit shouldn’t be ruled out. However, Manning reportedly wants to continue playing and sees “several” destinations that would suit him. Breer adds Manning won’t simply go to a quarterback-needy team just for the sake of continuing his career, though. Despite Manning having a sub-par age-36 season as the Giants slog through an injury-riddled campaign, multiple defensive coaches told Breer the 14th-year passer still has quality football left. “I think he has a lot left,” one of the coaches told Breer. “No offensive line, zero run game and he lost his four top receivers in the same game. So it’s hard to truly assess him.” Although it’s early to make these proclamations, Breer sets the Tom Coughlin-led Jaguars as the frontrunner to land Manning.
  • On the topic of Big Apple quarterbacks, the Jets could well look to bring back Josh McCown for more stopgap work, Vacchiano notes. The team is obviously going to be ready to enter the quarterback market, but McCown staying on as a backup may be a workable scenario for Gang Green. This would push Christian Hackenberg further toward the back burner. Bowles already announced McCown would remain the starter, barring injury.
  • One of the most notable long-running dramas in the league’s near-25-year history of free agency looks be set for a third go-round, with Kirk Cousins still not attached to a long-term deal. The Redskins will not be using the transition tag on their quarterback, but JP Finlay of writes the team should still use the non-exclusive franchise tag. This would cost Washington a staggering $34MM, but unlike the transition tag, it would force other teams to fork over two first-round picks for the right to sign Cousins, who will enter his age-30 season in 2018.
  • Trent Williams will be protecting Cousins against the Cowboys tonight, Ian Rapoport of tweets. Jay Gruden told’s Jane Slater this is a pain-tolerance issue regarding Williams’ knee, one he’s admitted he will need surgery on. With the Redskins on the outer fringe of the NFC wild-card race, an in-season Williams surgery would make sense rather than extend the rehab time — one that could be around six months, per the eighth-year tackle — farther into 2018.

AFC East Rumors: Dolphins, Jets, Glenn

The Dolphins have invested heavily at wide receiver in recent years, selecting Jarvis Landry in the 2014 second round and DeVante Parker in the 2015 first before authorizing a higher-end contract to re-sign Kenny Stills. But at least some within the organization are missing a former lower-level investment, with Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reporting (on Twitter) a common lament among the Dolphins is they wish they’d retained Rishard Matthews — a UFA in 2016. Now an integral component on the Titans, Matthews did not require much to sign. As players like Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Travis Benjamin required at least $6MM per year to sign in 2016, with Jones costing the Lions $8MM annually, Matthews signed a three-year, $15MM deal in Tennessee. (Stills signed for $8MM AAV in 2017.)

A 2012 seventh-round pick, Matthews easily established a new career high with 945 receiving yards last season and is on pace to top that this year, exiting Week 11 with 626. He averaged more than 15 yards per reception in his final year with the Dolphins and is sitting on 15.3 through 10 2017 Titans games. No Dolphin has 500 air yards this season. Stills has 408 through nine games, while Parker’s at 378.

Here’s the latest out of the AFC East.

  • Cordy Glenn will miss Sunday’s Bills-Chargers game with what the team is calling a foot/ankle malady. Glenn has run into rampant injury trouble since signing an extension in 2016. Sunday will mark his fourth missed game of this season. He missed five in 2016 after being absent for none the previous three seasons. Dion Dawkins filled in for Glenn the last time he couldn’t go because of an ankle problem, one that’s dogged him for the past two seasons. Glenn has three seasons remaining on his five-year, $60MM contract authorized by the Doug Whaley regime.
  • Speaking of the Bills, their handling of Tyrod Taylor could make the 2018 draft more complicated. The Bills, who are starting fifth-round rookie Nathan Peterman in his place, figure to be in the hunt for a franchise passer in Round 1, and Andy Vasquez of writes that will make the Jets‘ search for one more complex. The new Buffalo regime took over after the draft, so Peterman did not arrive on their watch. That would point to the Bills, who almost certainly will be moving on from Taylor after this season, thoroughly examining the 2018 quarterback prospects. Vasquez adds Taylor could be a Jets option as well. There was interest from Gang Green in the now-28-year-old passer had the Bills not reworked his contract this offseason.
  • The Jets could also be in the market for a new head coach despite Todd Bowles‘ unexpected success with this bare-bones roster thus far, with Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News writing the third-year Jets coach is not secure for 2018. Bowles was viewed as a hot-seat candidate entering this season, one that came after an offseason purge of veterans from the roster, but the Jets sitting at 4-6 when many viewed four wins as a ceiling for the season may put Mike Maccagnan to a decision. Mehta argues it’s hard to judge Bowles based on the talent available presently. He’s 19-23 as Jets coach in just more than 2 1/2 seasons.

AFC Notes: Kizer, Jackson, Bowles, Whitehead, Jags, Grissom

The Browns are in the midst of another season in the cellar of the league and while the 49ers are also winless, the teams’ quarterback situations have Cleveland looking like a much less hopeful franchise moving forward. The Browns struggles in finding a franchise quarterback have been been well documented over the years, but despite a botched midseason trade for A.J. McCarron, head coach Hue Jackson still believes that current rookie starter DeShone Kizer has the ability to end the team’s long QB issues, reports Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.

“I think this guy is going to be a really good player in time, but there’s work to be done,” Jackson said. “We all want the instant success, but it’s going to take a little bit of time because I think it’s not just him. I think the whole offensive team has to do their part, too. But does he have to play better? Yes, he does.

Ulrich relays that while Jackson did push for the McCarron trade, it was was a move that the head coach wanted to make in order to help better his team in the short-term, full knowing that Kizer still had a lot of development to do this season.

“My job as a head coach is to always push for better talent on this football team,” “You’re talking about a young player in the National Football League who has had [seven] starts, compared to other players who have either played for me or players that I have seen that have done it week in and week out. I don’t think that’s a knock on DeShone.”

  • Sticking with the Browns quarterback situation, Mark Kay Cabot of explained the team’s potential interest in some veteran signal callers this offseason in a video posted to the website. Cabot didn’t shoot down the notion that the Browns could conceivably after names such as Eli Manning, Kirk Cousins and Alex Smith, which would be a major upgrade over what the franchise has this season. The reporter even threw out Andrew Luck as being a potential target if the Colts were to make him available if they have interest in a QB prospect at the top of the draft. She does also note that the team could look at taking another signal caller high in the 2018 NFL Draft. There will be many quarterback options available, but it’s looking likely that the Browns may have a few new faces on the QB depth chart by the time their 2018 training camp begins.
  • While the Browns have performed close to their already low expectations, the Jets have been one of the bigger surprises in the NFL thus far. After seemingly starting the year trying to tank, the Jets are right in the thick of the AFC wild card race after beating the Bills last week for their fourth victory of the season, which has Ralph Vacchiano of theJetsBlog already saying that head coach Todd Bowles has proven that he’s the man to lead this team into the future. Vacchiano argues that although the Jets are just sniffing the playoff hunt, this season was never really about winning, but instead proving to the front office that he is the right head coach for the years to come. He notes that Bowles has the team playing loose and free after a tumultuous 2016 season. The third-year head coach has one more year left on his current deal, but Vacchiano states that he thinks the Jets should invest longer than even 2018 given the way the team has overachieved over the first nine weeks. There is still lots of games to be played and the Jets schedule does get tougher from here, but there is no doubt that the team is playing harder and better even with so many unproven players all over the roster.
  • The Jets will have to shake up special teams return unit for this Sunday’s game with wide receiver Jeremy Kerley suspended. To potentially remedy this, the team will bring in veteran return man Lucky Whitehead in for a visit on Saturday, according to Howard Balzer of Sports on Earth (Twitter link). Whitehead, 25, fielded 25 punt returns for Dallas last season and would make for an easy slot-in given his experience level with returning in his third year in the league.
  • The Jaguars have three starting lineman listed as questionable for Sunday’s affair vs. the Chargers, according to the team’s website. Guards Patrick Omameh and A.J. Cann, along with tackle Jermey Parnell are uncertain to play, which would make it much more difficult for the team to establish a ground game even with Leonard Fournette likely returning after missing the team’s last two games with an injury and suspension due to team rules. Jacksonville has five reserve offensive lineman on the roster, so depth is not a huge issue even if the offense is missing 3/5th’s of its normal group up front.
  • Recently released Patriots defensive end/special teamer Geneo Grissom has cleared waivers, tweets Mike Reiss of Grissom was removed from the active roster to make room for new signee Martellus Bennett, who made some interesting comments today with how he perceived the Packers medical staff misguiding him with his injury. Meanwhile, Reiss notes that New England can now bring Grissom back to the practice squad if they so choose.