Jackson was listed as questionable on the Bills' injury report, released Friday. He practiced both Friday and Saturday.
"We're planning on him to be ready to go," Marrone said Saturday evening. "Just take the injury and that's how we have to list it to protect ourselves."
“We gotta fix it. Hell, it’s everybody [trying to find the solution],” said Ryan, who said that includes meeting with coach Sean Payton to discuss the philosophy in those situations. “We have to fix this. So it can’t be just, ‘Oh, we played good, then we blow this or did this.’ It’s costing us games, and we have to fix it.”
The Saints allowed the Cincinnati Bengals to convert six first downs on third-and-8 or longer last week. And they’ve allowed more first downs than any team in the NFL this year on plays of third-and-8 or fourth-and-8 or longer (23, according to ESPN Stats & Information).
Some of the breakdowns have been more notorious than others (Golden Tate’s 73-yard touchdown on third-and-14 at Detroit and Michael Crabtree’s 51-yard catch on fourth-and-10 versus San Francisco immediately spring to mind).
Unfortunately, the specific solution is hard to identify since the Saints' defense has been burned in a variety of ways in those situations -- whether they blitz or not, whether they keep the quarterback in the pocket or not.
“There’s been a lot of different games where this situation has come up, and they’ve been a little bit different every time,” Ryan said. “We lose contain, we misplay a ball in the air, we have the wrong leverage on a play. There’s a lot of different things. But at the end of the game we have to be more aware of the situation, we gotta be better technique-wise, and we've gotta do a better job of coaching. That’s just the way it is.”
Defensive end Jarius Wynn, who has already been declared out for Monday's game with a knee injury, was the only player not spotted.
Running back Fred Jackson (groin), who is listed as questionable, practiced.
Here are some scenes:
Finally made it to Allen Park, Michigan. Bills back on the Lions' practice field in an hour. pic.twitter.com/2mZVHCxbet— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) November 22, 2014
...and the Bills are back at practice tonight. pic.twitter.com/x565aW6om8— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) November 22, 2014
Bills DC Jim Schwartz (standing w/ Doug Marrone) back on his old stomping grounds this weekend. pic.twitter.com/R1pFkLx0e8— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) November 22, 2014
Temporary lockers set up for the Bills in the Lions' facility. Quite the impressive job all around from both teams. pic.twitter.com/MlwPpVW5sJ— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) November 22, 2014
To make room for Miller, the Chargers released cornerback Richard Crawford. A University of Colorado product, Miller was added to San Diego’s practice squad on Nov. 11 after a workout during the team’s bye week.
Miller was drafted in the fifth round by the Cleveland Browns in the 2012 draft. He appeared in eight games for the Browns as a rookie. Miller went to training camp with the Denver Broncos, but was released during final roster cuts.
With Ohrnberger questionable for Sunday’s game against the Rams due to ankle and back issues, rookie Chris Watt is slated to get his first career start at center. Miller could serve as depth at interior offensive line, along with center Trevor Robinson, with Watt starting.
Crawford signed with San Diego on Oct. 27 after the team released cornerback Richard Marshall. But Crawford was not active on game day for the Chargers during his time with the team.
The team released its injury report for Monday's game in advance of the practice, and running back Fred Jackson (groin) is listed as questionable.
Jackson practiced Friday evening and is expected to be back on the field Saturday.
Here is the full report:
DE Jarius Wynn (knee)
RB Fred Jackson (groin)
CB Ron Brooks (groin)
K Dan Carpenter (right groin)
DE Manny Lawson (ankle)
QB Kyle Orton (toe)
G Kraig Urbik (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (hip)
WR Marquise Goodwin (ankle)
FB Frank Summers (neck)
WR Sammy Watkins (groin)
A couple of weeks ago, the New York Jets were beseiged with hate from their own fans. There was the plane over their practice facility ("Fire John Idzik"), the plane over their stadium ("Jets Rebuilding Since 1969") and, of course, the anti-Idzik billboards near MetLife Stadium.
Now the Jets are going on the road to Detroit, where they can expect to receive ...
A warm embrace?
Yep, it's a possibility.
A local radio station, Detroit Sports 105.1, has started a pro-Jets campaign. Or maybe we should say it's an anti-Jim Schwartz campaign.
The station has dubbed game day "Green Monday," imploring fans to root for the Jets. The locals are down on Schwartz, the former Detroit Lions coach who compiled a 29-51 record in five seasons. He was fired after last season and, after being hired by the Buffalo Bills as their defensive coordinator, he asked his new players to carry him off the field if they beat the Lions in Week 5 at Ford Field.
They did, and they did. Schwartz, milking the moment, pumped his fist as they carried him off.
So now you know why Detroit loathes Schwartz.
The folks in Detroit apparently have short memories. Marty Mornhinweg, the Jets' offensive coordinator, also is a former Lions coach. He was 5-27 in 2001 and 2002.
The size and makeup of the crowd will be interesting, considering Buffalo is only 250 miles from Detroit. The Lions sold out an undisclosed number of free on-line tickets and are offering another 500 free tickets. When the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings played at Ford Field in 2010 -- the game was moved because the Metrodome roof collapsed -- the announced crowd exceeded 40,000.
"'Monday Night Football.' I’ll be there," Lewis said. "I definitely feel like it’s getting better every day. I’ve got two more days. And 'Monday Night Football,' here we come."
It remains unclear if Lewis will be limited, as he was last week when he only played 10 snaps against the Cincinnati Bengals. But chances are his workload will increase well past that total. He was able to practice on a limited basis both Friday and Saturday this week after practicing only once last week. The extra day of rest before a Monday game didn’t hurt.
It also remains unclear if Thomas will be limited, since he missed the past four games with shoulder and rib injuries. But the "probable" designation is a promising sign. And Thomas has been able to practice on a limited basis all week. He was in very high spirits when he met with the media Thursday -- though he refused to reveal whether he’s officially playing or not.
I addressed Saturday morning how Thomas’ return might affect running back Mark Ingram's touches. I think Ingram will still get a heavy dose of the carries and goal-line looks, with Thomas spelling him at times and playing a bigger role in the passing game. Cadet’s touches could diminish, even if he is healthy enough to play. And running back Khiry Robinson (forearm) has officially been ruled out for Monday, as expected.
Lofton was expected to play all along, so his "probable" designation comes as no surprise.
Receiver Robert Meachem remains questionable after returning to practice on a limited basis with his ankle injury. The Saints don’t need to rush him back, even after losing Brandin Cooks to a season-ending thumb injury this week, since they have experienced backups Joe Morgan and Nick Toon on the roster.
Linebacker Kyle Knox (hand) has also been ruled out. Ingram (shoulder) and offensive tackle Zach Strief (chest) are listed as probable, but they should be fine after both practiced fully all week.
There have been only two true neutral-site games in franchise history. One was pretty famous -- Super Bowl III at the Orange Bowl in Miami, where the Jets upset the Baltimore Colts. The other occurred only a few months earlier -- Sept. 22, 1968, at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.
What were the Jets doing in Alabama? They faced the Boston Patriots in what was considered the Patriots' home opener. It was supposed to be played at Fenway Park, but the Boston Red Sox said it was unavailable for that date. So, at the urging of AFL president Wilt Woodard, they moved it to Birmingham. The primary reason was the league wanted to gauge Alabama's interest in pro football for a possible franchise relocation. The other reason: Joe Namath. He played college ball at Alabama and they figured he'd sell tickets.
A crowd of 29,192 watched the Jets defeat the Patriots, 47-31.
There have been a few other semi-neutral sites. For instance, in 2009, the Jets played the Bills at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, but it was a Bills' home game in every sense. In 1963 and 1964, the Jets faced the Patriots in Chesnut Hill, Mass., a Boston suburb. In 1974, they played the New York Giants at the Yale Bowl, which served as the Giants' home field in 1973 and 1974.
So, really, Monday night's game in Detroit is historic. Too bad they're 2-8.
When it comes to quarterback Robert Griffin III, while he's focused on the San Francisco 49ers, the Redskins are focusing on his development. They also want to win and the two desires don't always mesh. Regardless, they need to see better play from Griffin when it comes to executing his drops and the basics of their pass plays.
"He makes progress in practice," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. "He doesn't make every read perfect and sometimes you've got to rep something again to make sure everything is right, but it's just part of playing the position."
So, too, is adjusting. And sometimes, Gruden said, they'll run a play in practice against a particular look by the defense only to get something different in the game.
"Every time you go into the game as a quarterback you are prepared for what you think you are going to see but you also have to react to some other things that could come up," Gruden said. "Somebody might miss a block or a blitz that you haven't seen or something. Some of it is a leap of faith where, hey, you've just got to adjust and know where to go with the ball versus certain things and the more he plays the better he will get at that."
Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay said Griffin handled the distractions of this week well, blocking out the noise. Of course, that noise stemmed from Gruden's harsh criticism of him Monday.
McVay wants Griffin to only worry about his on-field performance.
"The things you always talk about are being able to worry about what you can control," McVay said, "and what he can control is distributing the ball where these concepts dictate based on coverages they're playing and within the timing [of a play] and then letting his teammates help him. As long as he does that we've seen what he's capable of doing."
McVay said Tampa Bay did a good job of disguising coverages, causing Griffin at times to not trust his reads or become indecisive. He missed a handful of throws for this reason. Griffin needs to reach the point where he knows which teams try to read his eyes (Tampa did) and which ones play more of a match-up zone where that becomes less of an issue.
McVay also said, in essence, that Griffin's early success has led to heightened expectations.
"He came into the league and did an outstanding job helping us reach the playoffs. Anytime you're in the NFL with all the coverage and scrutiny this league brings because it's so popular, you're under a close microscope, especially in this media market. We do feel good about his week of practice."
No team more than the Seahawks. They have the toughest remaining schedule in the NFL, including two games in a five-day stretch coming up -- Sunday at CenturyLink Field against the Cardinals and Thanksgiving night on the road against the San Francisco 49ers.
“There’s a lot out there," Carroll said. “We know we have to do it one week at a time, and with Arizona starting, that’s the only game in the world that matters.”
The Cardinals also are the only NFC West to win a game in Seattle since quarterback Russell Wilson arrived in 2012. Arizona defeated the Seahawks 17-10 in December, the only home loss in 2013, ending a 14-game home winning streak for Seattle.
“It reminds you that it’s not automatic when you’re home and you have to fight your tail off,” Carroll said. “I think any time you have a streak like that, you get disappointed. It was disappointing we couldn’t maintain that. It was right there to be done, and we couldn’t finish the game the way we wanted to. It was a good illustration to us of how tough the division is.”
The one missing starter on defense now is nose tackle Brandon Mebane, who is out the rest of the season with a torn hamstring.
"I think it’s big that we’re getting right [health wise] at the right time," Wagner said Friday. "This is an important stretch for us, and we’ll be ready."
Two backups on defense will not play -- rookie outside linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis (shoulder) and nickel cornerback Marcus Burley (hamstring).
As expected, center Max Unger is out with a knee and ankle injury. He is expected to be out three to four weeks. Coach Pete Carroll would not say who will start at center between Patrick Lewis and Lemuel Jeanpierre, who was re-signed this week.
Left guard James Carpenter, who was a full participant Thursday, now is listed as questionable for Sunday.
"He was limited at the end of the week here," Carroll said of Carpenter. "He had a little more work [Thursday] than we could get him [Friday]. We had to hold him out, and we will see all the way up to game time with him."
If Carpenter doesn’t play, Alvin Bailey will make his third consecutive start at left guard. Bailey also started at left tackle on Nov. 2 when Russell Okung was hurt.
Running back Marshawn Lynch, who didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday the past three weeks, was a full participant Friday and Carroll said Lynch is ready to go.
So it should come as no surprise that since he came to Green Bay as defensive coordinator in 2009, the Green Bay Packers have ranked as one of the NFL's most frequent blitz teams (see accompanying chart).
But there's much more that goes into it than just turning linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks loose.
Some of Capers' best defenses in Green Bay have been those that have blitzed the least (see 2009 and 2010).
"I'd say we're probably normally [blitzing at] around 38 to 40 percent of the time," Capers said.
But with worst defense he fielded, the 2011 unit that ranked last in the league, he blitzed the most.
"We couldn't get any pressure on the quarterback that year," Capers said.
That trend is hardly universal.
Take this season, for example. One of the best defensive performances came in Week 5 against the Minnesota Vikings. In the Packers' 42-10 victory, Capers blitzed on 47.2 percent of the Vikings’ dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information (which defines a blitz as sending five or more pass-rushers at the quarterback). Only three other times this season has Capers blitzed at a higher rate -- at Miami in Week 6 (53.1 percent), against Carolina in Week 7 (50 percent) and against the New York Jets in Week 2 (47.3 percent). All were victories
Then there was 19-7 loss against the Detroit Lions in Week 2, when the defense allowed just 10 points. Capers blitzed a season-low 12.8 percent of the time.
This season, the Packers' defense ranks just 25th in yards, but second in takeaways (22), tied for eighth in Total QBR (50.4) and 11th in sack percentage (7.0).
Here is a look at the Capers' philosophy through the eyes of some of his coaches and players:
Offensive coordinator Tom Clements
Before they were on the same side, Clements coached against Capers. One game stands out: Dec. 8, 2002 in Pittsburgh. Clements was the Steelers' quarterbacks coach, and Capers was the Houston Texans head coach.
"That was a weird game," Clements said. "Our defense held them to about a total of 60 yards. We had about 400 yards, and they beat us by three touchdowns."
Which goes to show that when preparing for a Capers' defense, anything is possible.
"Multiple looks, multiple pressures," Clements said. "It requires a lot of film study by the coaches and the players, because you never know what you’re going to get."
Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac
Trgovac, the Panthers defensive coordinator from 2003-2008, knows what it's like to call plays.
He says it's an oversimplification to simply call Capers a blitzer.
"Just to call 100 blitzes, when you start getting in that rhythm of the game, that's actually the easiest part of the game to call," Trgovac said. "The hard part is trying to pick the blitzes based on what you're seeing in the game. You have something set in your mind early and have to adjust from there."
Trgovac says he often finds Capers alone in his office or a film room calling a mock game to try to anticipate those situations.
"He puts in the hours that's required to have knowledge to make a play call," Trgovac said.
Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt
Whitt, who like Trgovac has been with Capers since 2009 in Green Bay, also says it's unfair to label their defense as just a blitzing scheme.
"I wouldn't say that," Whitt said. "I would say it's a week-to-week deal, but we're going to try to do anything we can to win that week. If we have to bring five or six guys, we will."
But then Whitt pointed to one of the biggest defensive plays in last Sunday's win against the Eagles, Julius Peppers' 52-yard interception return for a touchdown. Capers rushed only three players -- defensive linemen Datone Jones, Josh Boyd and Mike Neal -- and dropped Peppers, Clay Matthews and A.J. Hawk into coverage.
"It's whatever's needed," Whitt said.
Outside linebacker Peppers
The 13-year NFL veteran has never been used like this. In his eight seasons in Carolina and four in Chicago, he more or less had one job: put his hand on the ground and rush the quarterback as a defensive end.
"They wanted me to rush for the majority of the time," Pepper said. "Every now and then there was a fire-zone call where I was dropping, but primarily I was rushing."
Perhaps said that's why Eagles coach Chip Kelly said they weren't expecting Peppers to drop into coverage. He said it was "a great call" by Capers.
"I don't think it's anything new," said Peppers, who leads the Packers with 5.0 sacks and is tied for second on the team with two interceptions. "He's been doing that since he's been here as far as I'm concerned."
When the Broncos face the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the three available running backs figure to be three undrafted players who have been in uniform for 24 games combined in their careers.
“I guess I didn’t really think about it until now," said Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase with a smile when asked about the prospect earlier this week.
Anderson, Thompson and Bibbs all arrived to the Broncos as undrafted rookies.
“I think, during the course of preparation, when you have injuries, you have a pretty good idea some guys aren’t going to play," said Broncos head coach John Fox. “You’re able to practice and prepare guys much better than, for instance, in a game when you have a tight end or a receiver go out, those guys are now playing with a whole lot of reps in preparation for that opponent. So those guys have practiced all week, got reps -- we have our test on Sunday."
The Broncos, from Fox to quarterback Peyton Manning to Gase, have all openly discussed the importance of running the ball with more consistency against the Dolphins on Sunday. The Broncos had just 10 rushing attempts, one of those a kneel-down by Manning just before halftime, in the 22-7 loss to the St. Louis Rams last Sunday.
Anderson had 163 total yards in the Broncos’ victory over the Oakland Raiders, a total that included a 51-yard catch-and-run reception when he made a one-handed catch and then broke several tackles for a game-changing score. Thompson has had 30 carries this season to go with three touchdowns.
Sunday figures to be the first game for Bibbs to be in uniform. He has been a gameday inactive for four games since being signed off the team’s practice squad on Oct. 20, but the Broncos like what he's done and Bibbs spent some time after Friday's practice talking to Manning.
“You feel good with C.J.," Gase said. “He’s shown the last couple of weeks what he can do and just him getting in the rotation has been eye-opening. We might have something good and you just don’t know because he hadn’t had an opportunity. He’s taken most of the opportunity he’s had and the rest of these guys it’s just going to be, ‘make sure I know who’s in the game and help them as much as possible,’ whether it be in the protection game or in the run game."
“All of the guys in the running back room are ready to play," Anderson said. “[Running backs coach Eric Studesville] gets us ready to play; he expects us to be ready."
For the most part, it isn’t carrying the ball in the Broncos offense that is the adjustment. It’s everything the backs have to do to earn the ability to carry the ball. It’s handling all of the audibles at the line of scrimmage in what is primarily a no-huddle offense and it’s getting it right in pass protection.
As Studesville has consistently said: “If you can’t do the right thing in pass protection, you can’t play … you don’t get to run the ball."
The Dolphins have an active defensive front – Miami is tied for fourth in the league with 30 sacks – and they blitz plenty to unsettle opposing quarterbacks.
“I would say the protections are a challenge, but at the end of the day, when they run the ball, it’s just natural instinct," Gase said. “So they just know once you give them the ball, they are just going to find the open hole and hit it. The good ones seem to develop quickly."
“Our job is to do the right thing when we’re in there," Anderson said. “We’re prepared to do that."
Fleming played a major role in the Patriots’ run game last Sunday against the Colts, as he was used frequently as an extra blocker during running back Jonas Gray’s breakout performance. Fleming was seen in a walking boot in the locker room on Thursday and could miss some time with the injury.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman (thigh) was a limited participant this week in all practices, but is listed as probable. He played a season-low 35 snaps after injuring his right thigh against the Colts. He said on Thursday that he is ready to go.
Defensive lineman Chandler Jones (hip) is also out for Sunday’s game. He has not played since week 7 against the Jets.
Reserve offensive lineman Marcus Cannon (hip), rookie defensive lineman Dominique Easley (knee) and core special-teamer Nate Ebner (finger) are all questionable to play.
Quarterback Tom Brady (ankle) is probable after being a full participant in all three practices this week.
Gray missed Friday’s practice after being late. His game status has not changed.
Lewis is arguably as important as any player on the roster outside of quarterback Drew Brees. And the Saints were noticeably impaired when Lewis was limited to just 10 snaps last week because of a lingering knee injury.
For the second straight season, the underrated Lewis was playing at a Pro Bowl level before suffering the injury two weeks ago. He routinely matches up against the opponent's top receiver. And FOX analyst John Lynch said on a recent broadcast that no cornerback is playing better in the entire NFL this season.
Former Saints cornerback Jabari Greer said this week in a scouting breakdown of the Saints that Lewis would be a good matchup against dynamic Ravens receiver Steve Smith. But even if Lewis’ role is limited, it’s clear that having him close to 100 percent would be huge against a Baltimore team that also features speedy threat Torrey Smith.
The rest of the Saints' cornerbacks have struggled with inconsistency this season, and now they will be making a switch at free safety, too, in the wake of veteran Rafael Bush's season-ending broken leg.
In other Saints’ injury news:
- Running back Pierre Thomas (shoulder, rib) and receiver Robert Meachem (ankle) practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day. It appears both could be on track to return from lingering injuries this week. But it’s hard to say definitively if and how much they will play (which means fantasy owners should proceed with caution heading into a Monday night game).
- Fellow running back Travaris Cadet returned to practice on a limited basis Friday after being held out Thursday with a hamstring injury.
- Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton (ankle) also returned to practice on a limited basis. He has been playing through the injury and playing at a high level, so there doesn’t appear to be much concern about his status.
- Running back Khiry Robinson (forearm) and linebacker Kyle Knox (hand) remained out.
1:00 PM ET Cleveland Atlanta 1:00 PM ET Tennessee Philadelphia 1:00 PM ET Detroit New England 1:00 PM ET Green Bay Minnesota 1:00 PM ET Jacksonville Indianapolis 1:00 PM ET Cincinnati Houston 1:00 PM ET Tampa Bay Chicago 4:05 PM ET Arizona Seattle 4:05 PM ET St. Louis San Diego 4:25 PM ET Miami Denver 4:25 PM ET Washington San Francisco 8:30 PM ET Dallas New York Postponed New York Buffalo
7:00 PM ET New York Buffalo 8:30 PM ET Baltimore New Orleans