NFL

Marcus Mariota was a consummate professional until the end with Titans

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Marcus Mariota was a consummate professional until the end with Titans

The Titans season ended and so, too, has Marcus Mariota's time in Tennessee. 

After the Titans 35-24 loss to the Chiefs, the Heisman Trophy winner was confronted with the reality that he'll be an unrestricted free agent heading into next season.  

Benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill midway through the season, Mariota remained a consummate professional. He accepted head coach Mike Vrabel's decision, even if he might not have agreed with it.

And rather than try to force his way out or become a disruptive teammate, Mariota took the high road. He stuck with it.

Now, it's time to move on.

[RELATED: Teams that could most likely land quarterback Marcus Mariota]

Here was the scene in the locker room postgame.

Always classy, indeed. 

Reflecting on this past season, Mariota said, "It’s been a true pleasure. The organization took a chance on me and I felt like I gave them everything I’ve got. We’re not sure what’s gonna happen but I know when it’s all said and done that I gave this organization everything I could."

Mariota threw for over 13,000 passing yards with 76 passing touchdowns. Add another 1,400 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. 

In the process, here are some of the franchise records he holds:

  • Most passing touchdowns in a season by a rookie: 19
  • Most completions in a season by a rookie since moving to Tennessee: 230
  • Most passing yards in a season by a rookie since moving to Tennessee: 2,818
  • Most passing attempts in a season by a rookie since moving to Tennessee: 370
  • Most rushing yards in a game by a quarterback: 112
  • Longest run by a quarterback: 87 yards
  • Youngest quarterback in franchise history to throw for over 300 yards in a game since moving to Tennessee: (21 years, 332 days) September 27, 2015
  • First quarterback to catch a touchdown reception
  • First player to throw a touchdown pass to himself
  • First rookie to start at quarterback in Week 1
  • Highest single game completion percentage (95.7)

Despite all of that, the Titans moved away from Mariota. The Titans made the playoffs and advanced to the AFC Championship Game and became an integral part in the team's preparation for Lamar Jackson. 

Until the end, Mariota showed how a professional is supposed to act. 

It's been a gift, it's been a true pleasure," Mariota said. "The organization took a chance on me... Obviously, we're not sure what's going to happen, but when it's all said and done, I gave this organization everything I got. "

So, what has Mariota learned throughout his career and this most recent experience of getting benched?

"Faith," he said. "Having faith in things you can’t really see. No matter what happens, I know I gave it everything I got and we’ll see what happens next."

Chad Johnson to tryout for XFL as a... Kicker?

Chad Johnson to tryout for XFL as a... Kicker?

In breaking XFL news, the second go-around of the league started by WWE chairman Vince McMahon could be adding a former NFL star to the mix. 

Former Cincinnati Bengal star and Oregon State wide receiver Chad Johnson is getting a tryout with the XFL. But not as a pass-catcher, but as a placekicker. 

According to Johnson's Twitter account, he has a tryout next Monday in Houston. 

Johnson has big goals. As he stated, the hope would be to turn a successful XFL season into a chance to be a kicker in the NFL. 

Although it was in the preseason, Johnson does have a made extra point field goal on his resume. 

Johnson last played in the NFL in 2012 as a member of the New England Patriots. He spent one season in New England, after spending the previous ten in Cincinnati. For his career, Johnson caught 766 passes for 11,059 yards and 67 touchdowns. 

Here's to hoping the 42-year-old gets to add to that already impressive career. 

In defense of Marcus Mariota, could he have been Titans X-factor in win?

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IMAGN

In defense of Marcus Mariota, could he have been Titans X-factor in win?

The Tennessee Titans are heading to the AFC Championship after knocking off the No. 1 seed Baltimore Ravens 28-12 Saturday night. 

Their road to this point has been an improbable one. They benched starting quarterback Marcus Mariota after the team started the season 2-4. 

Any sort of benefit of the doubt or long leash he might have gotten finally withered away.

Enter Ryan Tannehill. 

The Titans under Tannehill went 7-3 to end the season and earned a Wild Card berth. 

They shocked the world by beating the New England Patriots on the road. 

And they did it again by beating the No. 1 team in the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens. 

Many people would like to attribute the Titans success to the benching of Marcus Mariota. 

While people pour on Mariota, he remains a hard worker and a good teammate. 

And while some people say Tannehill was the answer, it's not like he lit up the stat sheet in the Titans two playoff games. 

Tannehill has 72 yards and 88 yards passing, respectively.  

Derrick Henry's performance will be lauded as one of the greatest performances of the postseason, rushing for 195 yards in the Titans win. 

But Mariota played a unique role for the Titans this week. He simulated QB Lamar Jackson as the Titans prepared for the Ravens. 

There's not many teams that have a 26-year-old backup quarterback with the pedigree that Mariota holds. A mobile QB, Heisman Trophy level talent, starting experience. 

Could he have been the difference maker, the X-factor for Tennessee?

Lamar Jackson got his, throwing for 365 yards and rushing for 143 yards. But he was picked twice and was held without a rushing touchdown. 

The Titans moved away from Mariota. They had every right to do that. But he remains an integral piece in for the franchise. Whether he'll be on the Titans next season remains to be seen, but piling on seems like low hanging fruit. 

Congratulations to the Tennessee Titans!

Rainn Wilson and Joel Mchale can't wait for Seahawks football in Los Angeles

Rainn Wilson and Joel Mchale can't wait for Seahawks football in Los Angeles

The Seattle Seahawks (10-2) travel to play the Los Angeles Rams (7-5) for Sunday Night Football in Week 14. With the crucial NFC West game being played in the City of Angels, quite a few celebrities should be in the house. 

Ahead of the contest, two high-profile Seahawks fans shared their text messages in anticipation of their favorite team coming to town.


The actors are most well known for their starring roles in some of the more iconic comedy television series of the millennium; Rainn Wilson played Dwight in The Office and Joel Mchale played Jeff Winger in Community.  

They both grew up in the state of Washington as Seahawks fans and later attended the University of Washington in Seattle. 

Last season, Wilson got to party with the Seahawks in their locker room following a 27-3 victory in the UK over the Oakland Raiders. During the celebration, many Seahawks players called Wilson by his characters’ name. Maybe he’ll get to repeat that tonight.

Mchale quoted the tweet and asked for Seahawks twitter to show off their hats for the night.


They delivered.


 


 

Armstead is all smiles talking about Buckner's big touchdown

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USATI

Armstead is all smiles talking about Buckner's big touchdown

The Seattle Seahawks pulled off the big victory on Monday, handing the San Francisco 49ers their first loss on the season in a 27-24 overtime thriller. Despite the loss, a couple of former Oregon Ducks on the 49ers side of the field were making players. DeForest Buckner scooped up a Seahawk fumble in the second half and ran it all the way back for a touchdown. His big played brought the 49ers within one score and allowed the team to tie it late. Unfortunately for Buckner, his team lost. However, his teammate and former Oregon Duck Arik Armstead was all smiles talking about the play postgame. 

Armstead called Buckner's scoop and score, "one of the dopest things I've seen a long time."

Take a listen in the video below from our friends over at NBC Sports Bay Area and as always, Go Ducks. 

Pro Football Focus Week 7 grades: Seahawks best and worst players vs. Ravens

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Pro Football Focus Week 7 grades: Seahawks best and worst players vs. Ravens

Pro Football Focus’ grades are about what you’d expect following the Seattle Seahawks 30-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7. Just two players were given grades of at least 80.0.

Here’s a look at PFF’s best- and worst-graded Seahawks from Sunday’s game.

Best offensive grades

Chris Carson – 71.1

Carson gained just 66 yards on 21 carries, but PFF gave him a 70.2 grade in the passing game where he added three receptions for nine yards. This grade is somewhat curious in general as Pete Carroll said that Carson bounced his runs outside too much rather than taking the two or three yards that were blocked for him.

George Fant – 69.7

Fant improved tremendously in his second start at left tackle, earning a 79.2 pass block grade. He only allowed two pressures compared to the eight he allowed against the Browns in Week 6.

Russell Wilson – 69.0

Wilson completed 20-of-41 passes for 241 yards one touchdown and one costly interception that resulted in a pick-six. The fact that his grade was still above average indicates that PFF likely didn’t think Wilson left much on the field in terms of missing open receivers. That said, on his pick-six, he had DK Metcalf running wide open down the left sideline.

Worst offensive grades

Jamarco Jones – 47.2

Jones 3 pressures and was given just a 34.7 pass block grade. With D.J. Fluker set to return, it will be interesting to see what happens with Jones. He may move to left tackle in order to get Fant back in his normal role. Pete Carroll sounded desperate to have Fant back as the team’s extra offensive lineman/tight end.

Luke Willson – 49.8

Willson didn’t catch his only target and was given a 50.2 pass blocking grade.

David Moore – 53.2

Moore had just one catch for 14 yards on three targets.

Best defensive grades

Jadeveon Clowney – 82.7

Clowney had four hurries, two stops and one tackle for loss. He continues to play better than his one sack would indicate, but he’s had little help on Seattle’s defensive line.

Tre Flowers – 80.4

After getting his first career interception the week prior, Flowers had another impressive showing against the Ravens. His big hit against Mark Andrews highlighted his day. Flowers only allowed two receptions for 14 yards according to PFF. He also had five tackles and two stops.

Al Woods – 76.9

Woods was given a 74.7 grade in run defense.

Worst defensive grades

Rasheem Green – 37.7

Seattle’s 2018 third-round pick has been largely a non-factor in his second season. He’s got 28 total tackles and two sacks as he, like most of the defensive line, struggles with consistency.

Branden Jackson – 46.5

Jackson accounted for Seattle’s first sack in three games, but it was due in large part to Lamar Jackson slipping on the wet turf at CenturyLink Field.

K.J. Wright – 49.2

Wright was given a coverage grade of just 47.5. Per PFF, Wright allowed three receptions on six targets for 59 yards, including 24 yards after the catch.

Ducks and Beavs in the NFL

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USA Today

Ducks and Beavs in the NFL

The Ducks and Beavers both took to the gridiron on Saturday. On Sunday, a handful of former Ducks and Beavers showed off their talents at the NFL level. 

Here is how some of them did:

OREGON STATE BEAVERS:

Jordan Poyer: Buffalo Bills

Poyer put on a show in the Bills' 17-16 season-opening victory over the New York Jets. He led both teams with nine total tackles, six solo, and a sack. 

Brandin Cooks and Johnny Hekker: Los Angeles Rams

The Rams came out victorious on Sunday in Carolina. Johnny Hekker only had to punt three times, but when he was called upon he averaged 46 yards per punt. As for Brandin Cooks, he had just two catches on the night for 36 total yards, but his 24-yard reception was the longest passing play of the game.

Steven Nelson: Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh had a rough go in Week 1, losing to the Patriots 33-3. Steven Nelson ended the game with three tackles, one solo.

OREGON DUCKS

Marcus Mariota: Tennessee Titans

Mariota was on point in the Titans' 43-13 victory over the Browns. Mariota was 14 of 24 for 248 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed three times for 24 yards. 

Kenjon Barner: Atlanta Falcons

Barner didn't see any touches on offense, but he was a standout on special teams. He had four punt returns for 46 yards, and two kick returns for 44 yards. 

Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner: San Francisco 49ers

Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner helped anchor a defensive line the held the Buccaneers to 295 yards of offense in the 49ers' 21-17 victory. Armstead had five tackles, two solo, and a sack. Buckner had two solo tackles, one of them for a loss. 

 

Don't worry, there will always be those willing to play football, and watch it

Don't worry, there will always be those willing to play football, and watch it

Would you want your child to play football?

That’s the question I found myself asking this morning, in the wake of the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck.

I was lucky. My son got through high school concentrating on basketball and baseball, two sports he played well. He never asked to play football and that was fortunate because I might have said yes.

But we know a lot more about the long-term consequences of playing the sport now than we did a few years ago. And when we see someone like Luck walking away from the game, it has an impact.

He was raised in a football family. His father, Oliver, was an NFL quarterback. The kid became a better quarterback than his dad, earning a scholarship at Stanford and eventually becoming the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.

But then the injuries started to mount.

I don’t need to list them all now, but when he said he’s spent the last four years in year-round rehab, that should tell the story. This game is a legalized crippler. If you’ve ever watched an NFL game from the sideline, you know what I’m talking about. Every play sounds like a head-on collision, which it often is. I will try to be delicate here, but the fact is, it’s played by a lot of people who are crazed physical specimens who thrive on contact and even pain.

You don’t want to be there in the middle of that. And I doubt you want your children there, either.

Yes, the talent pool will inevitably shrink for this league and even for college football. But don’t worry about the long-term viability of the sport. There will still be people who need the money so bad they’re willing to take their chances with the injuries or simply those crazies who just love legally hitting people.

And, of course, there will still be plenty of people willing to spend good money watching them do it.

DeShawn Shead happy to be ‘home’ with Seahawks

DeShawn Shead happy to be ‘home’ with Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks brought back a familiar face over the weekend, signing defensive back DeShawn Shead to a one-year deal on Saturday. Shead spent six seasons with Seattle from 2012-17.

“It feels good to be back. I was telling everybody I’m back home,” Shead said. “Just to be back, a lot of familiar faces, but a lot of faces I don’t know, it’s a whole new team. But still the same feeling of being in Seattle, so definitely happy to be back on the team.”

Shead, at one point a starting cornerback opposite Richard Sherman, had an unfortunate ending to his first tenure with the Seahawks. He tore his ACL in a playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons in January 2017.

The injury limited him to just two games in 2017, and Seattle parted ways with Shead the following offseason. Shead added that it wasn’t until late in 2018 when he was with the Detroit Lions that he felt he was finally turning the corner.

“I feel night and day better,” Shead said. “From even over a year ago. And this offseason I actually got to train instead of rehab. There’s a big difference.”

Shead remained unsigned this offseason as camps opened throughout the league. He had a workout with the Saints last Tuesday before flying to Seattle for a workout on Saturday.

The Seahawks loved what they saw from the veteran defensive back and signed him immediately.

“He came out here on the field the other day and he looked great, he looked as good as he’s ever looked,” Pete Carroll said. “Quick and strong and fit and in shape. He brings us the versatility of playing safety and corner. He can play in the nickel package, (and) he’s an excellent special teams player.

“Better than that he’s a great competitor, and to have that guy battling here with our young guys and show them what it’s all about will only make us better.”

Shead originally signed with the Seahawks in 2012 as an undrafted free agent out of Portland State. He spent that season and the bulk of 2013 on the practice squad before making his NFL debut. Shead was with the club through 2017, appearing in 54 games (22 starts) with 150 total tackles and two interceptions.

He’ll play safety during training camp as the Seahawks are still without the injured Lano Hill and Marquise Blair. Shead will vie for a spot on the 53-man roster, and, given his clean bill of health and experience in Seattle’s defense, he hopes to push Tedric Thompson and Bradley McDougald for playing time.

“I don’t think twice about my knee, my breaks, in and out of breaks, I’m more elusive, my speed is back,” Shead said. “Now it’s just putting it back on the field.”

Bobby Wagner sought advice from Michael Jordan during negotiations with Seahawks

Bobby Wagner sought advice from Michael Jordan during negotiations with Seahawks

A learning experience. That’s how Bobby Wagner continually referred to representing himself in contract negotiations with the Seattle Seahawks. His acumen as an agent proved to be on par with his All-Pro ability as a linebacker.

Wagner signed a three-year extension on Friday worth $54 million – the richest contract ever for an inside linebacker. He’s set to make $18 million annually from 2020-22 with more than $40 million guaranteed.

“For me to be in this position, on my third contract, something that statistically nobody gets to do, I’m grateful,” Wagner said after making his training camp debut on Sunday. “I’m humbled. I’m blessed. There’s nothing that anyone can say to take that away from me.”

A trip to France in late June proved to be a pivotal few days for Wagner in his pursuit of becoming the best possible agent for himself. The linebacker signed with Jordan Brand two years ago, and over the summer, Michael Jordan took Wagner and the rest of the brand’s athletes on a little Euro trip.

Jordan, a part owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, consulted Wagner as to how he’d deal with a player who wanted to represent himself. The advice was invaluable.

“It was dope,” Wagner said. “He took us out to France, and we got a chance to sit down and have a conversation. We talked about his playing days. We talked about his mindset. We talked about training. We talked about a bunch of different things. … It’s just really cool to have a guy like that in your corner.”

The learning experience ended up being a successful (and lucrative) one, but Wagner admitted he feels the peace of mind now that the burden of negotiations is behind him.

“It’s definitely taxing,” Wagner said. “Just like when you’re playing, it takes a certain level of focus to be great. Trying to get a deal done, there was a certain level of focus that I had to have to ultimately get the deal done. But you had a guy who wanted to be here and a team who wanted him here. There was respect on both sides, and that’s always a good recipe to get a deal done.”

Pete Carroll was effusive in his praise of how Wagner handled himself throughout contract talks. It was simply one more example of how exemplary Wagner is in all facets.

“He’s been such a treasure in so many ways,” Carroll said. “He’s meant so much to our franchise. He’s an extraordinary player on the field and a great competitor and just tough as nails to always show up and always be there for us.

“Better than that, he’s a great guy to have on your club to represent your franchise. If a guy is going to get paid, you want it to be a guy like this. He just stands for so much positive and so much good.”

The four-time All-Pro is now signed through 2022. He’ll make $10.5 million in 2019 before the new contract kicks in next season.

Upon signing the deal, Wagner couldn’t help but reflect on the loss of his late mother. His mom passed in 2009 from a heart attack while he was still at Utah State. Wagner said he gave serious consideration to quitting football and returning home to California. Now he’s a Super Bowl champion, a five-time Pro Bowler and he just signed his third NFL contract – a rarity for any player.

“She (taught) me to finish what I started,” Wagner said. “I gave her my word that I’d finish what I started. Today I feel like she’d be proud.”