Rams show second thoughts on London experiment at Friday media day

It would appear that behind the facade of smiles and scripted responses, not all players are happy about the international game

A wintery shock awaited the Rams as they arrived from sunny Florida to be welcomed by a cold brisk wind in London. The slightly cold, jet-lagged and gray sentiment in the air resonated among some of the players, particularly running back Todd Gurley.
“It doesn’t make sense”
Typically, when you ask any NFL player or coach about their feelings towards the trips to London and the international series as a whole, you tend to get the same answer almost every time. Usually, it involves something along the lines of ‘I love it here’ and ‘the fans are great”. However, while their mouths said one thing, this scripted response has always seemed just that: scripted. 
So why not be honest? Why not tell the media and the fans exactly how they feel? Surely they will value their honesty? Well, Gurley opted to stand firm on his recent stance that these International Series games simply should not be played.
In a post-training press conference today, the talented RB stated:
It just doesn’t make sense. We play Arizona, that’s a 45 minute flight. But instead, you’ve got Arizona, and us, and if we [were] to travel all the way from LA it’s 13 hours to travel instead, when you could just travel just 45 minutes. But hey, what ever floats their boat.

And while he did state that he felt the fans were good and that it was cool to be back, he again hinted at his unhappiness with the NFL bosses, saying: “…it’s out of our control [so] we can’t complain about it. We’ve just got to look forward to Sunday and going against the Cardinals”.
Gurley’s surprisingly refreshing response offered a rare honest insight, as he widely avoided repeating the canned lines of most NFL personnel.
While he was the only player to be quite so outspoken against the international series, defensive lineman Michael Brockers did seem to agree on one key point with Gurley. When discussing the topic, he said that while playing abroad is “refreshing”, he felt that: “To play a divisional game over here is like (hesitates), you kinda want your fans into it a little bit more…” tailing off, leaving the unsaid obvious to all.
A lack of atmosphere?
Another issue brought up today by Goff was that while he loves the support of the local fans, which he described as “a lot of fun”, he went on to state that “you don’t really know when they’re gonna cheer [or] when they’re not, you know it’s not really their fault”. While this is hardly a revelation, it does show that the players are well aware of a difference in the atmosphere when playing here as opposed to home.
This is an issue which has been a hot topic for some time now. Many complaints about these London games is that with so many fans from around the continent coming to watch a game, there is always a diverse mix of fans from different teams. While this is great for the league and tourism in the area, it means that there simply isn’t a prevailing sense of ‘one set of fans versus the other’ as there should be at an NFL game.
Coach McVay clears the air, but leaves us wondering
As expected when the topic of Gurley’s comments were brought up, Coach McVay attempted to clarify his star RB’s statement in such a way to cause as little offense or harm to the international series as possible:
You look at the support that London and the league, being able to continue to develop and build that relationship. It’s been a great opportunity for the league to grow and just be able to have the NFL outside the U.S. and certainly I just think what Todd was talking about were some of the challenges from a semantic standpoint of getting out of your rhythm in your routine [and] just traveling, but the fans have been great, he’ll be the first to tell you that. 
It does offer you a great opportunity to compete in a different place. But, if you said ‘ideally would you want to have to take an 8 hour flight’ – that’s not ideal. But, I think we’re very excited to be here, the fans support, and just watching the excitement that these games, not exclusive to this, but all the games now that there’s more being played here, is the reason why and it’s a great opportunity for the NFL platform to continue to grow…

However, while he did manage to rescue the Rams from a potential British fanbase backlash over supposedly not wanting to be here, his pointing out that the flight is clearly not ideal, speaks volumes. While everybody realizes how tough this journey is, most avoid discussing it and potentially risking causing any harm to the success and further expansion of this very prosperous foreign venture. 
But, with these comments, following on from those of Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, who recently stated that as far as he’s concerned they: “don’t plan on going over there (London) any time soon to play again” – perhaps after 10 years the novelty is starting to wear thin for players and coaches alike.

Derek Carr needed Only Five Shots at the End Zone to Blow the chiefs away


A bizarre ending gave Oakland a much-needed win over Kansas City
Derek Carr threw three touchdowns in less than 30 seconds to pull the Raiders over the Chiefs Thursday night and keep Oakland’s playoff hopes alive.

OK, so only one of those touchdowns counted. That didn’t make the play-by-play that led to the Raiders’ improbable 31-30 win any less mind-boggling.
It began on a 28-yard toss on third-and-10 from Carr to Jared Cook. The tight end elevated above three Chiefs defenders and his own teammate to snag the ball in the air, twisting his way into the end zone. The play was ruled a touchdown, and all Oakland had to do was kick the extra point to go up by one.

But Cook touched down just before the ball crossed the goal line, and after a review, the officials marked him short. That review brought into play an obscure portion of the rulebook that holds that, because Cook didn’t go out of bounds and the Raiders had no timeouts remaining, the clock should have never stopped. Therefore, the officials were required to call for a 10-second runoff, giving the Raiders the ball on the 1-yard line with just eight seconds to go.
So on first-and-goal, the Raiders lined up and snapped the football as soon as they were allowed to (since the clock was set to start immediately), and Carr quickly threw another touchdown, rocketing a ball to Michael Crabtree in the right corner of the end zone. But Crabtree clearly pushed off his defender—he extended both arms—and the yellow flags came out. There were still three seconds remaining on the clock, giving the Raiders life, but now the team’s (seemingly) last chance to win would come from the 10-yard line, not the 1.
So on first-and-goal (again), Carr found Cook in the middle of the end zone, only the pass was just high and Cook couldn’t hold on. That would have given the Chiefs the win, except there was another flag—this time for defensive holding on Kansas City. NFL games cannot end on defensive penalties, even if there is no time left on the clock, so the Raiders were granted an untimed down from the 5-yard line.
So on first-and-goal (again again), Carr tried to find Cordarrelle Patterson up the seam, but a Chiefs defender was draped all over him—and so another flag, and another untimed down, this time from the 2.
So on first-and-goal (again again again), Carr rolled to his left and found Crabtree near the pylon. And this time, there were no flags, and the Raiders and Chiefs’ near-eternal struggle involving first-and-goals from various yard lines was, finally … almost over.

Giorgio Tavecchio, who had already missed two field goals on the night, needed to boot through an extra point to win the game for Oakland. His kick drifted to the right, but ultimately squeaked just in, moving the Raiders to 3-4 and keeping the team in the playoff hunt.
Oakland was a popular pick to regress in the preseason, and regress they have thus far. It only took the team six weeks to earn the same number of losses (4) as it did all of last year. After their 2-4 start put the Raiders three games back in the division, it looked like Oakland was well on its way to spending the postseason at home.
The win will not only keep the team alive, but give them several highlights to build off of—even in a game that saw Marshawn Lynch ejected after he put a hand on an official. Amari Cooper, who up until this point had generated discussion only for his many drops on the season, finally broke out, catching 11 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns.

Eighteen days after it looked like Carr could miss as many as six weeks with a fractured back, Oakland’s franchise passer amassed 417 yards and three touchdowns (these three all counted) to go with a 101.2 passer rating. And Khalil Mack and the Raiders’ defensive line put pressure on Alex Smith from the jump, including a sack with 2:38 to go that forced a punt and gave Carr the chance to mount that game-winning drive.
The Raiders still have plenty of problems—their secondary, in particular, showed lapses in coverage all night, allowing Smith to throw for 342 yards and three touchdowns on just 36 pass attempts. But for now, the Raiders have bought themselves time to figure those problems out. All it took was five shots at the end zone

NFL coach quits as boss explains ‘cocaine snorting’ in painful video


Miami Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster has quit his position after a video was released on social media showing him snorting a white powdery substance.
“I am resigning from my position with the Miami Dolphins and accept full responsibility for my actions,” Foerster said in a statement released Monday. “I want to apologize to the organization and my sole focus is on getting the help that I need with the support of my family and medical professionals.”
Miami Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster watches as players do drills during a training camp in Davie, Florida.

Miami Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster watches as players do drills during a training camp in Davie, Florida.

According to the New York Daily News, Kijuana Nige posted the video to Facebook, but it has since been deleted. In the post that accompanied the video, Nige wrote that Foerster sent the video to her “professing his love.”
“The white people mad at me like I forced blow down this mans nose and like I recorded it on tha low,” Nige’s post stated. “No those are his habits and he recorded himself and sent it to me professing his love. So quick to make excuses for him but will roast a minority player over an (anthem), dog fights, weed, domestic issues etc. But y’all keep saying ALL LIVES MATTER STFU‼️”
CNN contacted a person via an email account associated with Nige’s Facebook page, but the person refused to answer any questions from CNN.
Dolphins’ head coach Adam Gase told reporters Monday that he found out about the video at 10:45 p.m. Sunday night.
“I don’t think I can say what my reaction was,” the coach said.
Gase said he then called Foerster and had a brief conversation with him, during which Foerster apologized. Gase also said he doesn’t know the details about when the video was recorded.
Foerster is “disappointed. He’s upset. He’s mad at himself,” Gase said.
Earlier Monday, the Dolphins released a statement following Foerster’s resignation.
“We were made aware of the video late last night and have no tolerance for this behavior. After speaking with Chris this morning, he accepted full responsibility and we accepted his resignation effective immediately. Although Chris is no longer with the organization, we will work with him to get the help he needs during this time.”
According to the Dolphins’ media guide, Foerster was in the second season of his second stint with the team.
“He was promoted to run game coordinator/offensive line coach on February 10, 2017 after he was originally named offensive line coach on January 12, 2016,” the guide said.
This was Foerster’s 25th season working in the NFL. He was the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator in 2004.
Correction: A previous version of this story said Kijuana Nige’s Facebook post accompanying the video of Chris Foerster had been deleted. The post was not deleted.

Belichick: Late fourth-down strategy was a “tough decision”


The Buccaneers had a chance to win last night’s game against the Patriots, thanks in part to a decision from Bill Belichick to take the ball out of the hands of Tom Brady on fourth and three from the Tampa Bay 30 and place it on the foot of Stephen Gostkowski and, ultimately, on the backs of a the worst defense (statistically) in football.

Let me stop right there and emphasize this point, since if you were watching the game last night it was never mentioned: Belichick took the ball out of the hands of the greatest quarterback who ever lived and entrusted the outcome to a consistently leaky defense.
And that defense nearly leaked right down its leg by allowing Tampa Bay to drive the ball in position for one last shot at a victory.
The CBS broadcast failed to properly characterize (if it even mentioned it at all) the decision to not let Brady win the game and instead to trust a bad defense not to lose it. Even if the man who instantly has been crowned the greatest analyst in any sport didn’t realize in real time the significance of the strategy, repeated shots of Brady’s sideline demeanor should have given him a clue: Brady was not happy that Belichick chose to not let the quarterback win the game with a quick three-yard pass.
Belichick explained his thought process in a post-game press conference.
“That was really a tough decision,” Belichick told reporters. “First down ends the game. We don’t have to play anymore. It’s a long kick. It was 45 yards, something like that. The wind was challenging; it was a cross wind. So, you know, Steve hit a great ball. I definitely thought about — you know, if we could pick up fourth and three, then the game would be over. That would be it. So one play would have ended it. I just felt like the percentage play was the field goal, and Steve came through. The defense came through. That’s one that really could have gone either way. And honestly punting was an option there too. Had it been a couple yards further out like we did earlier in the quarter and tried to put them down inside the five yard line. A field goal would have won but, you know, [they were] out of time outs. It would have put another, if we could have executed it well, put another 20, 30 yards on the drive. So, you know, that was one of those that there was some options. It was a tough decision.”
Maybe it’s a tough decision if: (1) Brady isn’t the quarterback; and (2) the defense isn’t terrible this year, statistically. But with Brady in position to throw the ball three yards and deliver the dagger, that’s what Belichick should have done.
Indeed, that’s the only outcome that doesn’t put the New England defense on the field with a chance to blow the game. Made field goal? Touchdown loses it. Missed field goal? Bucs have the ball at the 37, and a field goal loses it. Punt? Bucs have the ball at the 20 at worst inside the five at best, and a field goal loses it. Go for it and fail? Bucs have the ball on the 30, and a field goal loses it.
It ultimately worked out, barely. And maybe the faith Belichick showed in his defense will improve their confidence down the stretch.
And maybe the lack of faith Belichick showed in Brady will make him even more determined to show Belichick that Brady can and should be trusted to win and/or not lose any and every given game.

SAINT OR WINNER New Orleans Saints 20 Miami Dolphins 0: Jay Ajayi’s London homecoming ruined as Drew Brees throws two touchdowns in scrappy clash


ADD COMMENT JAY AJAYI’S return to London was ruined by veteran star Drew Brees as the New Orleans Saints beat the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium.

Brees, 38, threw two touchdowns in a scrappy affair that was littered with mistakes and heavy-handed officiating.
Jay Ajayi’s (left) London homecoming was ruined as the Miami Dolphins lost against the New Orleans Saints

Jay Ajayi’s (left) London homecoming was ruined as the Miami Dolphins lost against the New Orleans Saints
Veteran quarterback Drew Brees threw two touchdowns as the Saints beat the Dolphins 20-0
Veteran quarterback Drew Brees threw two touchdowns as the Saints beat the Dolphins 20-0

The day started in familiar fashion when three Miami Dolphins players knelt during the US national anthem in spite of Donald Trump’s threats.
Julius Thomas, Michael Thomas and Kenny Stills continued the peaceful protest that has divided America.
President Trump last week called for players to be “banned” if they kneeled during the anthem.
The entire New Orleans side knelt BEFORE the Star-Spangled Banner played – but then stood as soon as it began.
Despite that pre-game drama, the action sadly failed to live up to its billing for the packed 80,000-plus crowd.
Brees continued his fine start to the season, scoring twice in the second half to take his touchdown tally for the season to eight.
 
The New Orleans players kneeled before the anthem

The New Orleans players kneeled BEFORE the anthem

They stood for the Star Spangled Banner
They players then stood as the Star Spangled Banner began to play

Just three Miami Dolphins took the knee at Wembley

Three Miami Dolphins players continued the protest that has divided America in recent months

Brit star Jay Ajayi stood during the US National Anthem at Wembley

Julius Thomas, Kenny Stills and Michael Thomas knelt during the anthem

Hackney boy Ajayi, playing his first game in his hometown, got the biggest roar of the day.
But he could manage only 46 rushing yards in a shutout defeat that saw the Dolphins slip to 1-2.
It wasn’t a happy return for the running back, who still looks troubled by the injuries that have marred his start to the season.
Both teams started brightly and the Dolphins should have had a touchdown on the first drive of the game.
A beautifully constructed surge downfield saw Cutler at his best, spreading the ball around the field and around his receivers.
But in the first play in the redzone, Wembley saw Cutler at his worst.
Tottenham star Eric Dier was at Wembley to watch the action

Tottenham star Eric Dier was at Wembley to watch the action

The former Chicago Bear floated a poor pass into the right corner towards tight end Julius Thomas – but it was way too short and too low and Ken Crawley easily intercepted.
The next drive 38-year-old Drew Brees then led his team all the way to the redzone.
But the Saints got nothing in the final 20 yards and a penalty on third down set them back another 10.
Will Lutz stepped up to kick though the posts – but shanked the 41-yarder wide right.
It was the third game in a row in which the kicker had missed an attempt.
A number of dropped catches, busted routes and flag-happy officials slowed the game to a halt.
Highlight plays were non-existent.
Michael Thomas celebrates the first Saints touchdown just after half-time
Michael Thomas celebrates the first Saints touchdown just after half-time

Alvin Kamara spikes the ball after scoring a late touchdown
Alvin Kamara spikes the ball after scoring a late touchdown

Brees led the Saints on one final drive in the half and this time Lutz managed to nail his kick.
The second half started at it had ended for the Saints, with points on the board.
The first drive of the second half saw Brees finally give the Wembley crowd what they had so desperately craved – a touchdown.
The classy veteran marched the Saints down the field and found Michael Thomas at close range to record his seventh touchdown of the season.
And Brees added another in the closing minutes with a shovel pass to Alvin Kamara, who ran into the end zone on a 12-yard reception.
The Saints won their second in a row to take their record for the season to 2-2.
It was Miami’s second big defeat at Wembley in three seasons having lost to the New York Jets in 2015.