Winners and losers from NFL Week 8

Before Sunday’s slate of games got going, there was some serious drama in London as the Jacksonville Jaguars made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

That should have clued us in to the fact that NFL Week 8 was going to get weird.

The league’s most dominant defense was smashed to bits. Adrian Peterson outplayed Saquon Barkley. And a former No. 1 overall pick hit a new low.

These were the biggest winners and losers from NFL Week 8.

Tampa Bay To Be On Hard Knocks, and I NEED a Camera On Jameis Winston at All Times

Written by Rick Stroud at TampaBay.com

It’s a Hard Knocks life for the Bucs.

All indications are that the HBO sports documentary series, in conjunction with NFL Films, has chosen to go to training camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team has scheduled a news conference for 1 p.m. Wednesday for an undisclosed ‘major announcement.’

However, for the past several weeks, everyone from co-chairman Joel Glazer to general manager Jason Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter have been bracing – if not embracing – the inevitability that they would be chosen for Hard Knocks this year. Both Koetter and Licht will be available to the media Wednesday, the team said.

“I know I’d embrace it,’’ quarterback Jameis Winston said Monday when players reported to off-season workouts. “You’ve got to cherish the opportunity that you’ve got. The whole world gets to see how great of an organization this is and see the great people that we have within the organization. But our job is the play football. They add the glitz and the glamour and all that comes with it. It’s an amazing show, but we’ve got to play football. We’re out there doing it for the fans, we’re out there doing it for the city, and Hard Knocks – they’ll just show the whole world.”

Winston, one of the NFL’s ascending young quarterbacks, clearly will be a primary focus of the series in Tampa Bay.

He was a polarizing No. 1 overall selection of the Bucs in 2015 after winning a national championship and Heisman Trophy at Florida State. But off-field issues dimmed his accomplishments and viewers may get a different view of the charismatic leader of the football team.

What’s unknown is how the Bucs, which at one point last season was the fifth-youngest team in the NFL, will handle the intrusion and distraction that a production such as Hard Knocks presents.

A 30-person NFL Films crew will have unencumbered access into the players’ and coaches’ meeting rooms, training rooms, team hotel rooms and practice fields. All told, they will record more than 1,500 hours of footage over the course of the five-week series.

“I’ve said it before, I feel good about our team and the maturity, especially for being a young group,’’ Licht said. “I know we have some great personalities on our team starting with Jameis, Gerald (McCoy) –the list goes on and on, [linebacker] Kwon [Alexander]. The fans would get an inside look at how our team really is. I know that you guys get a better feel than most, but I think the fans would get a real inside look at how we operate, how the players are. In terms of being a distraction, I think we’re wired to where we would be able to minimize that. Dirk has been through it. Mike Smith has been through it and I’ve heard positive things from them.”

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Jameis Winston Making Headlines For Poor Word Choice

Written by the AP at YahooSports.com

Jameis Winston is back in the spotlight – and not in a positive light – for what he described as a “poor word choice” in comments about women during a talk to Florida grade school students.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, who was accused of raping another student while at Florida State University but never charged, spoke for nearly 40 minutes to third through fifth graders at Melrose Elementary in St. Petersburg during an appearance this week.

When some of the students started getting fidgety, Winston told boys in the audience to stand up and girls to sit down, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

“All my young boys, stand up. The ladies, sit down,” Winston told the children. “But all my boys, stand up. We strong, right? We strong! We strong, right? All my boys, tell me one time: I can do anything I put my mind to. Now a lot of boys aren’t supposed to be soft-spoken.”

The quarterback went on to say, “But the ladies, they’re supposed to be silent, polite, gentle. My men, my men (are) supposed to be strong.”

Asked later about the speech, Winston said he was attempting to interact with a young boy in the audience who didn’t appear to be paying attention. He said he didn’t want to single him out so he asked all the boys to stand.

“During my talk, I used a poor word choice that may have overshadowed that positive message for some,” said Winston, who has been active in numerous community and charitable endeavors since entering the NFL as the No. 1 draft pick in 2015.

Bonnie Volland, a speech language pathologist at Melrose, said Winston’s message about children being able to accomplish anything was positive. But when he told the boys to stand up and that they are strong, some of the girls took note.

“One of the girls turned around and looked at me and said, “I’m strong, too,” Volland told the Times.

Winston was accused of raping a student in 2012 when they were both students at Florida State.

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Jameis Finally Settles Sexual Assault Case


Written by Marc Tracy at New York Times.com

Quarterback Jameis Winston has settled a dispute involving two federal lawsuits with a woman who accused him of rape, an allegation that ultimately touched off a national debate over a matter in which Winston was never prosecuted or disciplined.

John Clune, a lawyer for the woman, Erica Kinsman, on Wednesday night confirmed a report first published by TMZ Sports, saying, “The case has been resolved to the satisfaction of the parties.”

Winston’s lawyer, David Cornwell, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Kinsman’s lawsuit, accusing Winston of sexual battery, had been scheduled for trial in April.

Kinsman had said Winston raped her in late 2012 when they were Florida State students. Although she contacted law enforcement, the matter did not become public until late in 2013, the season in which Winston won the Heisman Trophy and led the Seminoles to a national title.

He was never questioned by the police in Tallahassee, Fla., and prosecutors ultimately declined to charge him. A New York Times investigation found that the police and the university did little to determine what had happened.

Kinsman was quoted directly in a 2015 documentary about campus sexual assault called “The Hunting Ground,” in which her accusation was cast as emblematic of what the filmmakers saw as a pervasive rape culture on college campuses.

While Winston was disciplined for stealing $32 worth of crab legs in the spring of 2014 and was suspended for a game in the 2014 season after he shouted a lewd phrase in the student union, a campus hearing in late 2014 over the episode with Kinsman found that he had not violated the university’s code of conduct. Winston has said the encounter was consensual.

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Fantasy Sleepers for 2016

Written by Timothy Rapp at Bleacher Reports.com

The Olympics rage on, European soccer has returned and college football is right around the corner, but let’s be honest: Your mind is on fantasy football.

Hey, I don’t blame you. My mind is there, too.

So let’s embark upon one of August’s most time-honored traditions: obsessing over potential sleepers and busts for the upcoming NFL season.

Sleepers

Fantasy Football Sleepers
Position Player Team
QB Marcus Mariota Tennessee Titans
QB Jameis Winston Tampa Bay Buccaneers
QB Colin Kaepernick San Francisco 49ers
QB Derek Carr Oakland Raiders
Position Player Team
RB Duke Johnson Cleveland Browns
RB Melvin Gordon San Diego Chargers
RB Wendell Smallwood Philadelphia Eagles
RB C.J. Prosise Seattle Seahawks
RB Ameer Abdullah Detroit Lions
RB Paul Perkins New York Giants
Position Player Team
WR Josh Gordon Cleveland Browns
WR Sterling Shepard New York Giants
WR Sammie Coates Pittsburgh Steelers
WR DeVante Parker Miami Dolphins
WR Torrey Smith San Francisco 49ers
WR Marvin Jones Detroit Lions
WR Kevin White Chicago Bears
WR Michael Thomas New Orleans Saints
WR Dorial-Green Beckham Philadelphia Eagles
Position Player Team
TE Coby Fleener New Orleans Saints
TE Clive Walford Oakland Raiders

We won’t be going over each and every potential sleeper in great detail, but we’ll try to offer a brief look at why several of the players listed above are sleeper candidates.

Quarterbacks

Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota each flashed major potential in their rookie seasons, so it’s hardly a stretch to think they’ll show improvement in 2016. Winston is the better passer, so his floor is higher. Mariota is a danger on the ground with his legs, so his ceiling is higher. Each has plenty to overcome to be considered a true fantasy option—Winston has to scale back the turnovers, Mariota has to stay healthy—but each could make a lot of noise in 2016.

Colin Kaepernick is the deepest of sleepers, but if he wins the starting job in San Francisco and adjusts to head coach Chip Kelly’s offense, he could be a fantasy monster given his ability on the ground.

Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders continue to look better and better with each passing year. He had eight games with 17 or more fantasy points in standard-scoring leagues a year ago. Look for his consistency and output to continue to improve. Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtreeand Clive Walford give Carr a nice arsenal to utilize.

 

Running Backs

Here’s your theme for running back: look for younger players who could end up winning the starting job due to a lack of talent in front of them, injury-prone players ahead of them or a specific skill set that should give them a solid role in the offense.

I love Duke Johnson this year, but don’t be surprised if he goes off the board in the middle rounds. Even then, he has the ability to be an RB2. Ameer Abdullah and Melvin Gordon should earn the early-down work in Detroit and San Diego, respectively, while players such as Paul Perkins are probably already the best players on the depth chart and should be the starters soon enough.

Wide Receiver

Few positions are as deep as wide receiver, so finding sleepers here is probably less important than at positions like running back or tight end. But pay attention to four groups of players:

  1. Proven veterans due for bounce-back seasons (Torrey Smith).
  2. Young, talented players primed for breakout campaigns (DeVante Parker).
  3. Rookies or young players in excellent systems where they’ll get plenty of opportunities (Sterling Shepard, Michael Thomas, Sammie Coates).
  4. Josh Gordon. Because why not?

Tight Ends

Coby Fleener gets Drew Brees. Not a ton else needs to be said there.

Walford, meanwhile, showed signs as a rookie last season, and another year working with Carr should help him immensely. Every young quarterback needs a safety net. Walford could be a nice one, assuming he stays healthy.

Finally, Eric Ebron has been a bust thus far, but with Calvin Johnson gone, more red-zone targets should be heading his way. In general, players like Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and Ebron should get a bump with Matt Stafford not having his favorite target in Detroit any longer.

The operative word is “should,” of course. But that’s always the operative word when it comes to sleepers.

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The Continued Development of Jameis Winston


Written by Robert Klemko at MMQB.com

I spoke with Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter on Wednesday, well before the Orlando shooting made talking and writing about football feel trivial, regarding the progress of Jameis Winston and the process of the second-year quarterback taking full ownership of the offense in the months and years to come.

Last fall, Winston had the benefit of matriculating from a Florida State pro-style offense that many in league circles believe to be at least as complicated as some in the NFL. Still, Koetter, at the time the offensive coordinator, slowly brought along Winston, limiting him to half-field reads and beginner-level pre-snap duties early last season. Like millions of high school and college kids across the country, Winston is graduating this summer.

Koetter says those pre-snap duties weren’t as limited as people think during Tampa’s 6-10 season. Though Koetter worked to keep protection calls off Winston’s mind by using more max protection scenarios than most teams, the rookie did have play packages at his disposal. (For example, Winston had the option to call either a certain run play or a certain pass play based on the defense’s alignment and apparent coverage.) In 2016 Winston will be asked to do more. Where there were two-play packages that Winston could call at the line in 2015, there will now be three-play packages plus a blitz audible.

Plus: More no-huddle is planned for 2016, one of Koetter’s signatures when he took the Tampa coordinator job in 2015.

“Jameis is a good communicator at the line, good at the no-huddle, studies like a wild man, and that’s what we love about him,” Koetter says. “I trust my judgment, and I trust the judgment of our coaches. We’re around Jameis every day, and we know what he’s capable of.”

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Goff or Wentz? Who is the Best QB in the 2016 Draft?


Written by Mark Maske at Washingtonpost.com

A year ago, Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota went to the NFL scouting combine not only as the two prospective franchise centerpieces vying to be the top overall selection in last year’s draft, but also as well-established quarterbacking brand names. They were Heisman Trophy winners. They were the faces of their high-profile college programs. They had squared off in a closely watched national playoff semifinal.

As this year’s combine gets under way and the buildup to the late April NFL draft intensifies, there are no household-name quarterbacks to be found, at least not on the level of Winston and Mariota. But there just might be some potential franchise quarterbacks for needy NFL teams to scrutinize over the coming days in Indianapolis.

Talent evaluators seem to be forming a consensus that Jared Goff of California and Carson Wentz of North Dakota State are the top two quarterbacks in this year’s draft class and that both are capable of being taken very early in the draft. Paxton Lynch of Memphis could make it three quarterbacks chosen in the upper half of the opening round on draft night in April, possibly in the top 10.

Mike Mayock, a draft analyst for the league-owned NFL Network, said in a conference call Tuesday with reporters that “there’s a little bit more buzz on those top two quarterbacks,” and added later: “Obviously the Goff and Wentz thing has heated up. From my perspective, it’s two different conversations. I think Goff is more polished, ready to go today. I think Wentz has more significant upside.”

There are plenty of quarterback-needy teams picking early in this year’s draft. The Cleveland Browns have the No. 2 overall selection and seem likely to draft their new quarterback of the future following the expected release next month of Johnny Manziel.

The San Diego Chargers, picking third, potentially could add an eventual successor to Philip Rivers. The Dallas Cowboys, picking fourth, might contemplate getting Tony Romo’s eventual replacement. The San Francisco 49ers have an unsettled quarterback situation, with Colin Kaepernick’s status unclear, and choose seventh. Other teams potentially in need of quarterback help are the Philadelphia Eagles at 13th, the Los Angeles Rams at 15th and the Houston Texans at 22nd.

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NFL Bans Players Convicted of Crimes from Combine

Written by Scott Polacek at BleacherReport.com

The NFL informed teams of a policy change for the NFL Scouting Combine “in a memo from the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent late last month,” per Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today.

Jones provided the details Monday: “The NFL will no longer allow players with convictions for domestic violence, sexual assault or weapons offenses to attend the annual scouting combine in Indianapolis.”

“Invited prospects would be barred from ‘any league-related event’ if a background check turns up a felony or misdemeanor conviction,” Jones noted. “Players that refuse to submit to a background check will also be uninvited.”

Those players would also not be invited to the draft.

Jones pointed out former Michigan Wolverines linebacker and Seattle Seahawks second-round pick Frank Clark would not have been allowed at the combine for the 2015 draft if the rule had been in place then, noting “Clark pleaded guilty to a lesser charge after an arrest for a domestic violence incident.”

No. 1 pick Jameis Winston would have been allowed to attend the 2015 combine and draft, however, because he was never convicted for sexual assault allegations.

In terms of the upcoming combine and draft, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin could be one of the first to face the repercussions of this policy change. Boykin was charged with felony assault of a police officer and suspended for his team’s Alamo Bowl showdown with Oregon.

If Boykin is banned from the combine, he will have another avenue through which to make an impression on NFL teams, per Jones: “Vincent told teams that players who are barred from the combine will have no restrictions from attending other private workouts, pro days and regional combines.”

Vincent also highlighted the importance of values in the memo, per Jones: “It is important for us to remain strongly committed to league values as we demonstrate to our fans, future players, coaches, general managers, and others who support our game that character matters,” Vincent wrote.

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Winston Win’s Rookie of the Year

Written by Tim Daniels at BleacherReport.com

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston was named the 2015 Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year on Saturday after accounting for more than 4,200 yards of offense and 28 touchdowns.

Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times and NFL Canada confirmed Winston’s triumph following a fan vote. He edged out fellow finalists Amari Cooper (Oakland Raiders), Todd Gurley (St. Louis Rams), Tyler Lockett (Seattle Seahawks) and Marcus Peters (Kansas City Chiefs) for the honor.

Jenna Laine of Sports Talk 1040 in Tampa Bay provided a statement from the winner:

Winston arrived in Tampa with incredibly high expectations after beating out Marcus Mariota to become the first overall pick of the 2015 draft. He did nothing during his rookie season to lessen the long-term outlook and is well on his way to establishing himself as the Bucs’ franchise QB.

The 22-year-old Florida State product threw for 4,042 yards and 22 touchdowns with 15 interceptions en route to an 84.2 passer rating. He also added 213 yards and six touchdowns on the ground while appearing in all 16 of the team’s games.

Even though Winston led Tampa Bay to a fifth-place finish in yards per game (375.9), the Bucs only managed to win six games. That left them in the basement of the NFC South and four games out of a playoff spot.

It’s from that perspective Winston entered the offseason looking for more. Rick Brown of ESPN passed along the quarterback’s thoughts on starting to build a contender:

“I know everyone on this team wants to win. It’s just the way that you do it. It’s about preparation and having that mindset of I want to win at all costs. That has to be developed and that has to be molded.

It starts with actions. We have to have a good offseason. … If we are really serious about winning here [and] if we’re serious about changing the culture, we will dedicate ourselves in the offseason so we can be successful.”

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Jameis Winston Takes Huge Step Forward in Win Over Falcons

Written by Evan Massey at Bloguin

Jameis Winston was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and there have already been quite a few ups and downs. He took a huge step forward today by leading his team to a huge 23-20 victory on the road against the Atlanta Falcons.

Heading into the game, the Falcons were 6-1 on the season and one of the best teams in the NFC. Winning that type of a game is a huge leap in the right direction for the Buccaneers’ franchise and their new franchise quarterback. Winston took care of the football and did just enough to get his team in the position to pull off the win in overtime.

Throughout the entire game, Winston ended up completing 16 of his 29 pass attempts for 177 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. He also picked up 24 yards and a touchdown on just three carries.

At 21 years old, Winston has quite a bit of pressure on his shoulders from a franchise that has desperately needed a quarterback to lead them out of their rebuilding process.

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