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Coach Doug Marrone says Jacksonville Jaguars playing ‘a lot of bad football’


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone didn’t mince words about the state of his football team after a two-game losing streak in which they were outscored 70-21.

The Jaguars may have been a Super Bowl contender when the season began, but now they’re struggling with basic football fundamentals.

“We have to do a lot of things better,” Marrone said. “I’m more focused on what we have to get done in practice and do those things before we can even go the next step and get out there on the field Sunday.

“We have a lot of time between now and Sunday to correct a lot of bad football that we have been playing.”

The Jaguars (3-3) host streaking Houston (3-3) in a critical AFC South game at TIAA Bank Field. The Jaguars are coming off blowout losses to Kansas City and Dallas, with the supposed elite defense having given up 63 points, 49 first downs, and 802 yards in the two games.

The offense has been even worse. Quarterback Blake Bortles has committed six turnovers — five interceptions — and the offensive line has struggled because four starters are banged up and the fifth is the third-string left tackle. In addition, the team’s wide receivers are having a hard time getting open.

Also not helping is that the team’s best offensive player — running back Leonard Fournette — is out indefinitely with a right hamstring injury.

That’s why Marrone said the team is going back to stressing basic football fundamentals rather than worrying about injuries, scheme and playcalling. The Jaguars can’t just assume the defensive front will have success against a Texans offensive line that has given up the second-most sacks in the NFL (25).

“Well if you think of it like that, I think that’s a pretty good path to probably get your ass kicked,” Marrone said. “Fundamentally, we have gotten away from some things and that is on us as coaches. What I have challenged the coaches and I challenged myself with this week is, ‘Hey listen, we have to get back to fundamentals. We have to stick with something that we can sink our teeth in and this way we can go out there and just perform.’

“This may just be my philosophy that anytime you see football being played as poorly as we have been playing, then that is what it comes down to [fundamentals]. That is my philosophy. You guys may differ, but you have to do things well fundamentally. Usually when you do that, you have a chance to play better.”

Marrone is energized by the challenge of getting the team back on track. It means a lot of extra hours and work, but he’s been in this situation before and responded.

He believes it can turn a team’s season around.

“There is no magic pill or magic moment that you can just snap your fingers and go,” Marrone said. “The only way to start playing better is you have to work your ass off. You have to work hard. You have to go back there. You have to coach better. We have to play better. I have to do a better job. That is how simple it is.

“It is like that with anything in life, whether it is football, family or work or whatever it may be. You eat some s— and you go out there and you get your act in gear. You pull it up. I like it because it is challenging. What’s better than hitting adversity and coming back from it?

“It happens all the time. It happens to me my whole entire life. For me, I like it. I don’t want to be here, make no mistake about it, but the one thing you don’t have to worry about — the one question you are not going to get is are you comfortable? There is no way anyone in this building should be comfortable. We know that. We earned that right to be where we are. We are the ones that put us where we are.”



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New England Patriots’ head coach won’t put Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack in same class as former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been impressed with Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack this season, but his plaudits for Mack have limits.

When asked Wednesday if Mack is up there with Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor, Belichick seemed almost offended by the question.

“Wait a minute, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor now,” Belichick said. “I’m not putting anybody in Lawrence Taylor’s class. Put everybody down below that. With a lot of respect to a lot of good players, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor.”



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Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin fined $25K for criticizing officials


Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was fined $25,000 by the NFL on Wednesday for criticizing the officiating after his team’s 41-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Tomlin, a member of the NFL’s competition committee, had said on Tuesday he did not expect to be fined.

Asked about linebacker Bud Dupree‘s two face mask penalties in Sunday’s game, Tomlin said the calls looked legitimate, then hinted many more were not.

“But some of the other stuff, man, is a joke,” Tomlin said. “We gotta get better as a National Football League. Man, these penalties are costing people games and jobs. We gotta get ’em correct. And so I’m pissed about it, to be quite honest with you. But that’s all I’m gonna say on it.”

Sunday’s contest featured 14 penalties. Steelers linebackers T.J. Watt and Jon Bostic received flags for trying to make plays on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

The news of Tomlin’s fine was first reported by USA Today Sports.



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Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott doesn’t dismiss report on Philadelphia Eagles interest in LeSean McCoy


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott did not dismiss a report Wednesday that the Philadelphia Eagles have inquired about trading for Bills running back LeSean McCoy.

“LeSean is one of our better players,” McDermott said to begin his news conference. “I thought he had a good game [in Sunday’s 13-12 win over the Tennessee Titans]. Really, we’re just looking forward to playing the Houston Texans [this Sunday].

“We get calls all the time. Incoming calls happen all the time. [General manager] Brandon [Beane] and I talk a lot. I won’t go into any more detail than that. Really, again, this is a big week for us. Another opportunity to get better. Another opportunity for us to develop as a football team against a very good opponent, in particular down there in a tough place to play.”

WIVB reported Tuesday that the Eagles (2-3) had called the Bills (2-3) about McCoy’s availability after placing running back Jay Ajayi on injured reserve.

Asked specifically Wednesday if the Eagles had contacted Buffalo, McDermott said, “I’m not gonna go into any more detail than I said.”

Then, asked if McCoy was available in a trade, McDermott responded, “Men, this is why I came out and started where I started [in the news conference]. If you just want to hear the same reply, I’ll give you the same reply. I respect where you’re coming from and the jobs you have to do. Respect where I’m coming from. He’s a valuable member of our football team, and I’m gonna leave it at that.”

“I heard about it [trade rumors], ” McCoy told reporters Wednesday. “I kind of just stay focused on the job, the task at hand. I’ll let that stuff work itself out. We’ll see what happens.”

The NFL’s trade deadline is Oct. 30, the day after the Bills host the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football in Week 8.

McCoy, who missed the Bills’ Week 3 win over Minnesota because of a rib injury, ran a season-high 24 times for 85 yards in Sunday’s win over the Tennessee Titans. In four games, McCoy has 170 rushing yards on 45 carries, as well as 10 catches for 64 yards. He has not yet scored a touchdown.

“I should have never gotten traded [from Philadelphia] anyway,” McCoy said. “I was killing stuff, you know? But I don’t ever really pay too much attention to it. This week we got the Texans. I’ll worry about that. Good defense, lot of big-name guys on that defensive line. I got my hands full this week. Last week was my first week of really getting out there running, try to get some rust off and actually get going play after play. Really felt good.”

The Eagles drafted McCoy in the second round of the 2009 draft and traded him to the Bills following the 2014 season.

McCoy is being sued by his ex-girlfriend in Georgia, who accuses him of being involved in a July home invasion in which she was beaten and robbed of jewelry. McCoy’s ex-girlfriend Delicia Cordon also accuses McCoy of physical abuse against her, against his son and against his dog.

Police in the Atlanta suburb of Milton, where McCoy owns the home in which Cordon was allegedly attacked, said last month that their investigation is ongoing but that McCoy has not cooperated.



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Jason Garrett’s future as Cowboys head coach on the line – Dallas Cowboys Blog


FRISCO, Texas — A day later, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett still would have punted from the Houston Texans’ 42 on the first possession of overtime instead of going for it on fourth-and-1.

“It just made sense to us, to me at that time, to go ahead and play field position,” Garrett said Monday.

The Cowboys never got the ball back and fell to 2-3 with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who made it to the AFC Championship Game last season and have a punishing defense, coming to AT&T Stadium on Sunday.

Questions about Garrett’s job security haven’t stopped since the end of the 2017 season. Before the first padded practice of training camp in Oxnard, California, this year, one fan yelled, “Coach Garrett, I love you, but this is your last year.”

The calls on social media grew louder after the 19-16 loss to the Texans and will grow louder still if the Cowboys are unable to put together any kind of winning streak.

Garrett is 70-58, including 1-2 in the playoffs, as Cowboys head coach. In 2016, he was named the NFL’s Coach of the Year. He has won two NFC East titles. He has the second-most wins in franchise history to Tom Landry, but the decision to punt is viewed by some as the last straw.

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones has been steadfast in his support for Garrett, even though he critiqued the decision to punt. He has long viewed Garrett as his Landry.

Jones opened camp by succinctly stating Garrett was not on the hot seat, but even he has a breaking point.

Here are factors to consider:

Why is this season different from others for Garrett?

Start with the financial ramifications. Owners don’t like to pay coaches not to coach.

Garrett is signed through 2019 at $6 million per season. Only wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal has a contract that goes past 2019.

After the Cowboys went 4-12 in 2015, there was some talk inside the organization that Garrett could be in trouble a year after a 12-4 record and the controversial loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in the divisional round of the 2014 playoffs.

Garrett was in the first year of a five-year, $30 million contract then, meaning Jones would have had to have eaten more than $20 million. Plus, quarterback Tony Romo started and finished two games that season because of a twice-broken left collarbone, offering up a good reason/excuse for the poor season.

The decision to stick with Garrett looked like a wise one in 2016, when the Cowboys finished 13-3 with a fourth-round pick in Dak Prescott substituting for an injured Romo. At the time, it looked like Jones’ willingness to stick with Garrett through the three consecutive 8-8 seasons in 2011-13 was going to pay dividends with a young team on the rise.

The Cowboys still have a young team, with only one position player older than 30, but they appear destined for another playoff-less season without a quick turnaround.

Would Jerry make an in-season move?

He has made one in-season coaching change since becoming the owner and general manager in 1989, elevating Garrett from offensive coordinator to take over for Wade Phillips after a 1-7 start to the 2010 season.

Garrett was viewed as a head-coach-in-waiting before Jones even hired Phillips as head coach in 2007.

Secondary coach and passing game coordinator Kris Richard would be the most obvious candidate to take over if Jones made that kind of move. Richard has interviewed for head coaching vacancies in recent years while he was the Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator, but how would that help the offense?

How would a coaching change affect Prescott’s development?

The Cowboys entered this season hoping Prescott would play the way he did in the first 24 games of his career, when he had 39 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. In his past 13 games, he has 10 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions.

The Cowboys can look to sign Prescott to a contract extension after this season, but there has been nothing through the first five games of this season to suggest they should. At present, their priorities would be signing DeMarcus Lawrence, Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones to long-term deals before Prescott.

Garrett and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan are the only voices Prescott has had in his three years. A new coach can bring fresh ideas, perhaps incorporating more creativity that has allowed young quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz to excel early in their careers. Of course, that new coach might want to bring in his own quarterback, but in 2003 Jones convinced Bill Parcells to go with Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson to see what those young signal-callers could do. He could do the same with whomever he chooses as Garrett’s successor.

Is this all on the head coach?

Of course not. Contrary to popular opinion, Jones has always been heavily influenced in personnel by the coach. Always. He did not draft Randy Moss 20 years ago, in part, because then-coach Chan Gailey did not want Moss.

The perception Jones picks the players and tells the coach to make do is flawed. He will make decisions that might run counter to the coach’s wishes at times, but the majority of the organization’s decisions come from a group that includes Garrett, Jerry Jones, executive vice president Stephen Jones and vice president of player personnel Will McClay.

So far it looks as though the Cowboys went with a flawed approach at wide receiver and tight end in trying to replace Dez Bryant and Jason Witten by committee. Tight end Geoff Swaim has three of the Cowboys’ 10 pass plays of more than 20 yards on the season to lead the team. DeAndre Hopkins had nine catches for 151 yards for the Texans on Sunday, including the 49-yarder that set up the winning field goal. The Cowboys’ receivers combined for six catches for 80 yards.

The Cowboys tried to sign Sammy Watkins in free agency, but he opted to join the Kansas City Chiefs. Given the construction of the passing game, would Watkins have made that big of a difference?

Garrett has coached a team that will follow one of his mantras and “fight,” but the Cowboys haven’t been able to follow another of his mantras and “finish.”



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Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says he explained OT punt decision to Jerry Jones


FRISCO, Texas — At the day-after analysis of the Dallas Cowboys‘ 19-16 overtime loss to the Houston Texans, coach Jason Garrett on Monday explained his decision to punt on the first possession of overtime to owner and general manager Jerry Jones.

After the game, Jones was critical of the decision to punt at the Houston 42 since the Cowboys did not regain possession and lost on a 36-yard field goal by Ka’imi Fairbairn with 1:50 to play in overtime.

“We were being outplayed there, not out-efforted but we were outplayed,” Jones said Sunday. “But it’s time for risk at that particular time. That’s not second-guessing, but we were taking some risk too at certain points in the game.”

After the game, Garrett defended the decision because he was relying on a defense that forced three punts, created two turnovers and gave up just two field goals in the second half. On Monday, Garrett relayed the message to Jones during their Monday meeting.

“We talked about the thought process behind that and why we made the decision like that based on how we were playing on defense in particular and what the details of the circumstances were,” Garrett said.

While Jones said he was not second-guessing the decision, the comment resonated with a fan base that wanted Garrett to go for it. Since quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott joined the organization in 2016, the Cowboys have converted on 18 of 19 fourth-and-1 situations, including one earlier in the Houston game.

Ten of Elliott’s 20 runs against the Texans went for no yards or loss yards, which played a factor in the decision. After the first quarter, Prescott threw for 111 yards and his receivers struggled making contested catches.

“I think the reasoning is the same. We’ve been aggressive going for it on fourth down. That’s been a good thing for us,” Garrett said. “But not every fourth-down situation is the same. I think we’re on the 42-yard line. It was a long 1. I was standing right there. So it was probably a hard and a half when we had it. We had a play that we liked. Unfortunately, they did a good job coming in and stuffing that. Actually we probably lost a little bit on the third-down play, so it got you to fourth and really kind of close to 2 … It just made sense to us, to me at that time, to go ahead and play field position.

On Monday, Garrett was asked if he still felt supported by Jones and offered a one-word answer: yes.



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Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett punts on chance to be bold – Dallas Cowboys Blog


HOUSTON — Jason Garrett had a chance to make a statement about himself and his belief in the Dallas Cowboys‘ offense Sunday night.

Facing fourth-and-1 from the Houston Texans‘ 42 on the first possession of overtime, the Cowboys coach played it safe when the opportunity to be bold was staring at him in the face.

Garrett punted, trusting in a defense that held strong for most of the night.

The Cowboys never got the ball back and are now 2-3.

All they could do was watch hopelessly as Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 36-yard field goal gave the Texans a 19-16 win in front of the largest crowd to see a game at NRG Stadium, set up by a 49-yard catch and run by DeAndre Hopkins.

“We were being outplayed there, not out-efforted, but we were outplayed,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “But it’s time for risk at that particular time. That’s not second-guessing, but we were taking some risk, too, at certain points in the game.”

The differences between Jones and Garrett are stark.

Jones made his money as a risk-taker, drilling for oil in spots that many believed to be barren. Since owning the Cowboys, Jones has taken risks to great benefit (Charles Haley, Deion Sanders) and great loss (Joey Galloway, Roy Williams).

Garrett is more willing to play the percentages and is more averse to taking risk.

On Sunday, he had a chance to be bold and lead the Cowboys to a win in a game that never should have been that close.

A week earlier, the Texans were able to beat the Indianapolis Colts when their coach, Frank Reich, opted to go for it from his own 43 with 24 seconds left in overtime. Andrew Luck’s pass was incomplete, which set up Houston’s game-winning kick.

“I’ll just address it now: I’m not playing to tie,” Reich said after the game. “I’ll do that 10 times out of 10. That’s just the way it’s got to roll.”

A day later, Reich amended his “10 times out of 10,” saying it was not an absolute, but a sign of an aggressive mindset.

Garrett has been bold before.

In his lone playoff victory in 2014, he went for it on fourth-and-6 from the Detroit Lions‘ 42 with six minutes to play and down by three points. Tony Romo hit Jason Witten for a 21-yard gain and six plays later Romo hit Terrance Williams for the game-winning touchdown pass.

You don’t even have to go back to 2014 and the Lions. You can go back just one week ago against the Lions.

In the third quarter of the Week 4 win, Garrett elected to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Detroit 3. Elliott picked up 2 yards. He fumbled, but Blake Jarwin recovered the ball. On the next play, Prescott threw a touchdown pass to Geoff Swaim for a touchdown and a 20-10 lead.

Why did he go for it?

“Just to be aggressive and make it a two-score game and a tremendous belief in our offensive line and our runner against their defense in that situation,” Garrett said the day after the win over the Lions. “There’s a lot of talk about analytics and when you go for it, when you don’t go for it. Sometimes what’s missed from that equation is the fact that it’s a game played by grown men, and it starts with that. When you have a belief in the guys up front, and you can hand the ball to 21 and you feel good about that, that’s really where the decision-making process starts. And we certainly feel great about those guys. That doesn’t mean we’re going to go for it every time in those situations, but in that situation we felt like that was the right thing to do.”

Since Elliott joined the Cowboys, they’re 18-for-19 on fourth-and-1 or shorter.

If that’s how Garrett felt a week earlier, then clearly he did not feel the same confidence in the group against Houston.

“Yeah, it was a long 1,” Garrett said. “We had a third-and-2 (actually 1), and we didn’t make much on it and just felt like at that point in the game, the way our defense was playing, the idea was to pin them down there. Chris [Jones] did a great job with the punt. They got the ball on the 10-yard line, and hopefully you make a stop and you win the game coming back the other way with a game-winning field goal.”

Quarterback Dak Prescott wanted to go for it, “but in that case you don’t question the coach’s decision on defense.” Elliott agreed with Garrett. “Obviously you would like a chance to go for it on fourth-and-1, but I don’t know if that was the best decision right there,” Elliott said.

The Texans had seven second-half possessions and had as many turnovers (two) as scores (two field goals), but then Hopkins broke free and the game changed, with the moment to be bold long gone.

“Any decision he makes, he makes, and we just got to hold it down and we didn’t,” defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford said.,



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New York Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers unlikely to coach Sunday because of undisclosed health reasons


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers missed practice Friday and likely won’t coach Sunday because of an undisclosed health condition.

Coach Todd Bowles was visibly shaken when he announced the news to the media.

“He’s a tough guy,” Bowles said. “It’s a serious thing.”

Rodgers, 49, coached practice Thursday, but skipped his weekly media session because of a doctor’s appointment. On Friday, he wasn’t at the facility.

Bowles didn’t provide any specifics as to the nature of Rodgers’ condition, simply saying, “He’s ill. We can’t discuss it now. We’ll see going forward where he is, and we’ll go from there.”

Earlier in the day, Bowles made the announcement to the team. Several players said Bowles was somber when he broke the news. He didn’t share specifics in front of the team.

“He has a heavy heart,” tackle Kelvin Beachum said of Bowles.

Bowles and Rodgers are close friends, having coached together previously with the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins. When Bowles was hired by the Jets in 2015, he named Rodgers his defensive coordinator.

“Obviously, we’re all thinking about him,” defensive end Henry Anderson said. “All of us were hit pretty hard when we heard the news. He’s such a good dude. I’m hoping everything works out and he’s back as soon as he can. We miss him, for sure.”

Rodgers was the defensive playcaller. Bowles will handle that responsibility when the Jets (1-3) face the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium.

Bowles will be without one of his top players, as cornerback Trumaine Johnson was ruled out with a strained quadriceps. He was injured Thursday in practice, and the early indication is that he could miss multiple games.

Asked if it’s a potentially season-ending injury, Bowles said, “Not at this time, no.”

The Jets probably will move nickelback Buster Skrine into the starting lineup, opposite Morris Claiborne. When they play nickel, Skrine will slide inside to the slot, his customary spot, with Darryl Roberts playing on the outside with Claiborne.

“Anytime you lose a starter, it’s a big deal, but we have guys who have played the last couple of years that we like — Roberts, Buster, [Parry] Nickerson, as well as [Juston] Burris,” Bowles said. “We’ll go from there. Next guy up.”

The Jets signed Johnson to a five-year, $72.5 million contract in free agency, which includes a $34 million guarantee — the third-largest in team history. He got off to a sluggish start, surrendering a 67-yard touchdown reception in last week’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.



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Todd Bowles, New York Jets coach, shrugs off Jamal Adams’ comments


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets coach Todd Bowles on Wednesday shrugged off comments made by Jamal Adams, claiming the second-year safety meant no harm by suggesting in a radio interview that the defense was unprepared to face Baker Mayfield last week.

“He misspoke,” Bowles said. “He didn’t mean it. He’s a young player, and part of having a young player as a leader sometimes he’s going to have growing pains. It’s a teachable moment. He understands that. We talked about it.”

Bowles was reluctant to elaborate, saying, “I don’t even want to go into” the specifics of what Adams said. “That’s just making excuses, and I’m not trying to make excuses.”

During his weekly paid spot on WFAN radio, Adams said Tuesday they “didn’t have a game plan” for Mayfield and “weren’t prepared for him.” The No. 1 overall pick, in his NFL debut, inherited a 14-0 deficit and rallied the Cleveland Browns to a 21-17 win last Thursday in Cleveland — the franchise’s first win in 20 games.

Adams, one of the Jets’ defensive leaders, appeared to be pointing a finger at the coaching staff. On Wednesday, he insisted that wasn’t the case at all, saying the Jets have one of the best coaching staffs in the league.

“Yeah, let’s clear that up,” Adams told reporters. “If you listen to the interview, it tells you everything I said. I simply said we prepared for Tyrod (Taylor). Obviously, he went down with the injury. We didn’t know that at the time. Baker came in. He had energy. He had confidence. I did not say the coaching staff never had us prepare for two quarterbacks. I did not say that. We’re going to end it at that, and we’re going to move on.”

Adams quickly turned the conversation to the Jets’ next opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars — a difficult road test.

He received the benefit of the doubt from Bowles, who evidently felt Adams’ only transgression was a poor choice of words. Still, it created negative publicity for a team that was reeling after a crushing, prime-time loss. The Jets (1-2) have dropped two straight.

“It’s not a bad look,” Bowles said. “It’s a young player. I know what he meant. The team knows what he meant and we’ve moved on from there. It’s not a bad look. It’s part of a young player getting older and dealing with the media. He’s going to have some growing pains. He’ll work through them and we’ll be fine.”

Bowles gave the same alibi in August, when Adams was quoted by Bleacher Report as saying the team last season “was used to losing” and “everybody wanted to do the bare minimum.”

Again, Bowles insisted he wasn’t upset with Adams. Asked his initial reaction after hearing comments from the radio interview, Bowles said, “I didn’t have one.”



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Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden says QB Derek Carr ‘trying too hard’ at times


ALAMEDA, Calif. — Calling Derek Carr‘s fourth-quarter interception in the end zone a “painful turnover” in Oakland’s 28-20 loss at the Miami Dolphins, Raiders coach Jon Gruden said his quarterback might have also been “too aggressive” with the play Sunday.

“I think, at times, he’s trying too hard,” Gruden said of Carr in his weekly media conference Monday. “But we’ll talk about that extensively here in the next couple hours. But I thought he played really good under some very tough circumstances.

“I think sometimes he needs to learn a little more patience and I think he will. But I’m really excited about the way that he has played and improved and mastered this offense. We’re getting closer. That was a painful turnover. We will address that, and we’ll make the corrections.”

On the play in question, the Raiders, who were trailing 21-17, were at the Dolphins’ 13-yard line with 3 minutes to play and had been gouging the hosts on the ground.

And though it was first-and-10, Carr threw a jump ball to Martavis Bryant in the left corner of the end zone. With Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake, who ran right past backup right tackle T.J. Clemmings‘ attempted cut block, closing in for a big hit, Carr’s pass was underthrown. Xavien Howard beat Bryant to the ball and hauled it in for his second pick of the day.

Carr said after the game he would call the same play again.

“I just saw one-on-one with Martavis,” Carr said at the time. “Obviously, he was hot and he was doing some good things. I just gave him a chance, just like I have a hundred other times in my life. They ended up making a good play. It sucks, right? The outcome sucks, but I think, going back through in my head, getting one-on-one with that guy, I’d probably have to do it again.”

Carr’s other interception came on another first down, Oakland’s first play of the possession, this one from the Raiders’ 41-yard line in the first quarter. Carr threw a deep ball to Amari Cooper on a seeming scramble drill. Cooper, though, gave up on the route and Howard was there to haul in the pick.

“Terrible but not down,” was how Carr described his postgame mood.

“Trust me, I know how to deal with adversity, and you don’t do it by going in the dumps and stop working hard and give up. That’s what I think soft people do and that’s not what this team is. And that’s not the way I was raised.

“When things get hard, when life gets hard, you put your head down and you grind and you make sure whatever you can do, you do better. And that’s all. That’s it.”

Gruden, meanwhile, is feeling the heat from an 0-3 start to his second Raiders coaching tenure after spending the past nine years in ESPN’s Monday Night Football booth.

He said he was remaining “realistic and optimistic” in the wake of the Raiders being outscored 37-3 in the fourth quarter thus far. Because while they are winless, the Raiders are a few plays away from being 2-1.

Yes, even after the Sept. 1 trade of holdout defensive end Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears for, among other things, a pair of first-round draft picks.

“It’s hard to trade one of your best players, one of the best players in the franchise,” Gruden said. “It’s hard. It’s hard on the players. We didn’t get anything for him that’s going to help us this year. Justin Ellis hasn’t played. We’ve got a lot of guys on the defensive line that are out. We have had to replace basically the entire secondary, some of the linebackers. We are in the process of putting the pieces back together. That will be exciting.”

The injuries to which Gruden referred: undrafted rookie kicker Eddy Pineiro was put on injured reserve with a groin injury suffered in the preseason, while his replacement, Mike Nugent, suffered a hip injury in Miami. The Raiders are bringing in kickers for tryouts this week.

Long-snapper Andrew DePaola was lost for the season with a knee injury in the opener; return specialist Dwayne Harris got banged up in Miami, as did right tackle Donald Penn, who suffered from concussion-like symptoms. Defensive tackles P.J. Hall and Ellis are also out with ankle and foot injuries, respectively, with Ellis on IR.

“I’m not going to give myself a report card right now,” Gruden said. “I’m just trying to get better and trying to provide good, optimistic feedback to our football players. And we’ll continue to compete.

“The results will happen. Might not happen this week, might not happen this month, next month, but we’re going to get results here and we’re going to get this Oakland Raider football team back on track and we just got to prove it.”

Meanwhile, the suddenly resurgent Cleveland Browns (1-1-1) come to Oakland on Sunday, with new starter and No. 1 overall draft pick Baker Mayfield at quarterback.

“Mayfield is the real deal,” Gruden said. “This young man can play.”

Asked if he would have liked to have had the Heisman Trophy winner on his ESPN QB Camp show, Gruden smiled.

“If we don’t start winning some games, maybe I can, know what I mean?” Gruden cracked. “Maybe I can.”



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