Redskins

QB Roethlisberger apologizes for Haley comments

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QB Roethlisberger apologizes for Haley comments

PITTSBURGH (AP) Ben Roethlisberger doesn't think he and Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley need to be best friends to co-exist.

The quarterback, however, also knows he can't start calling Haley out when things don't go as planned, no matter how bothered the Steelers captain may get by the playcalling

It's why Roethlisberger apologized to Haley, coach Mike Tomlin and owner Art Rooney II after making pointed remarks about the direction of the offense following a 27-24 overtime loss to Dallas on Sunday.

``I let my frustrations jump out after a game, I don't usually do that,'' Roethlisberger said. ``Usually, I keep it under control. I was just frustrated with myself and I'll be better at that.''

Roethlisberger completed 24 of 40 passes for 339 yards and two touchdowns against Dallas but also threw a critical interception on the second play of overtime that set up the game-winning field goal. Afterward he expressed disappointment in Haley's decision to stay away from the ``no-huddle'' offense. And he wondered why Haley didn't feature tight end Heath Miller, who had six receptions for 85 yards in the first half and just one catch for seven yards in the second.

Looking back, Roethlisberger - who took full responsibility for the loss - figures he probably should have just kept quiet.

``We do have a lot of talks behind closed doors about things, about plays, play calling,'' he said. ``If I'm doing something that's not right on the field, we have talks about everything.''

Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday his franchise quarterback and Haley are on the same page. Roethlisberger agreed but allowed that doesn't mean they're on the same sentence.

``There are going to be times when you just don't see eye-to-eye,'' he said. ``There are times when I don't see eye-to-eye with Coach Tomlin. But that doesn't mean anything, I don't think.''

There have been similar issues in the past with former offensive coordinators Ken Whisenhunt and Bruce Arians, disagreements that were overshadowed by winning.

That's not happening this season. The Steelers (7-7) have dropped four of their last five and need to win their final two games against Cincinnati (8-6) and Cleveland (5-9) to reach the playoffs.

It's not exactly the position Pittsburgh expected to be in after a four-game winning streak pushed them to 6-3. Yet things haven't quite been the same since a 16-13 overtime win against Kansas City on Nov. 12. Roethlisberger went down with a sprained shoulder and dislocated rib that sidelined him for three weeks and he hasn't been quite the same player in his return.

Roethlisberger was completing nearly 70 percent of his passes going into the game against the Chiefs. Over his last 2 1/2 games, his completion percentage has dipped to just 55 percent (55 of 100) as defenses have become more aggressive at pressing Pittsburgh's fast but somewhat undersized wide receivers at the line of scrimmage hoping to upset Haley's short-passing game.

While Roethlisberger's yardage totals have been OK thanks to an uptick in throws down the field, the efficient rhythm the Steelers played with during the first half of the season has all but disappeared.

``I think maybe it started in Kansas City where they had a little bit of success, where they got in our face a little bit and disrupted the timing of our routes,'' Miller said. ``We've seen that in some form or variation since then.''

The Steelers will almost certainly see more of it on Sunday against Cincinnati's physical secondary led by cornerbacks Terence Newman, Leon Hall and Nate Clements.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Mike Wallace says the key is simply winning more battles at the line of scrimmage, though a running game with a bit of a pulse and a defense that gave the offense short fields would help.

Though the Steelers are first in the NFL in yards allowed, they're 27th in takeaways with 15. As a result, just seven of Pittsburgh's 58 scoring drives this season have started on the other side of midfield. Opponents, meanwhile, have started 14 of 56 scoring drives in Steelers territory.

The lack of turnovers and splash plays on special teams have led to some pretty long fields for Roethlisberger and company, fields that have gotten even longer as the running game has halted.

Running back Jonathan Dwyer rushed for 122 yards in a 24-17 win at Cincinnati on Oct. 21. He has 122 yards combined in Pittsburgh's last four games, three of which he served as the starter.

Dwyer is still listed as the starter and it appears unlikely the Steelers would turn to veteran Rashard Mendenhall, who returned to practice on Wednesday after serving a one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team.

Mendenhall declined to talk about why he failed to show up at Heinz Field for a game against San Diego two weeks ago after the Steelers decided to make him inactive, though Roethlisberger isn't quite ready to call Mendenhall's tenure over.

``He's a pretty darn good football player,'' Roethlisberger said. ``If he can help this team win football games, we'll take it.''

And the Steelers insist they're past the part of the season where style points matter. The offense is just 20th in the league in points scored (21.6) and is averaging 30 yards less per game than it was last year, leading the front office to not renew Arians' contract and hire the sometimes combustible Haley instead.

The promised fireworks have not ensued, though even if things were going smoothly, Wallace says it's not like the offense would suddenly start lighting up scoreboards anyway.

``We've never just won on a weekly basis, win by 30-40 points,'' Wallace said. ``We win by a touchdown or a field goal (and) just made the plays when they count. I think this year we haven't been making as many critical plays when they count ... but we've still got a shot.''

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2020 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Jerry Jeudy, Jeff Okudah highlight both sides of loaded passing game class

2020 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Jerry Jeudy, Jeff Okudah highlight both sides of loaded passing game class

The NFL season is still very young, but it has become very clear which teams will be drafting near the top of the order when the 2020 NFL Draft takes place on April 23 in Paradise, Nev.

The Dolphins, Bengals, Giants, Jets, and Redskins should all be preparing to have a top 10 draft pick come the 2020 NFL Draft, and with the way the early 2019 NFL regular season is playing out, these teams will need a lot of help. 

That's why the Dolphins have decided to punt on the 2019 season focus on the NFL Draft, trading away a litany of their top players to acquire 2020 draft picks, and lots of them.

CLICK HERE FOR 2020 NFL MOCK DRAFT 2.0

The Dolphins will get three first-round draft picks in 2020 thanks to trades with the Texans and Steelers.  Miami will want to invest in a franchise quarterback, but in the modern NFL, you need targets for that franchise QB and you need stars to stop the other team's targets.

While the Dolphins, Bengals, Giants, Jets, and Redskins won't all draft wide receivers or defensive backs, the early NFL season has made it obvious that these teams desperately need help in the pass game, and defending the pass.

Who are the top WR prospects and DB prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft? Glad you asked.

CLICK HERE FOR 2020 NFL MOCK DRAFT 2.0

Top WR Prospects in 2020 NFL Draft:

1. Jerry Jeudy, Alabama. Simply put, one of the most talented, explosive WR prospects of the last decade.

2. Tee Higgins, Clemson. Elite ball-catcher with 6-4 frame, but still needs to add muscle and explosiveness.

3. CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma.  Great route-runner and gifted competitor. One of the most fun WRs to watch play every Saturday.

4. Laviska Shenault, Colorado. An exceptional athlete who always makes big plays. Needs work on technical route-running.

5. Henry Ruggs III, Alabama. The fastest WR in the class is a deep threat every time he lines up.

CLICK HERE FOR 2020 NFL MOCK DRAFT 2.0

Top CB prospects in 2020 NFL Draft:

1. Jeffery Okudah, Ohio State. Understands leverage and uses his size to his advantage to be a complete all-around corner.

2. Trevon Diggs, Alabama. Great ability in man coverage and shows great ball skills, as evident in his Week 1 INT VS Duke.

3. Kristian Fulton, LSU. Big physical, explosive CB who is next among great LSU DBs.

4. Bryce Hall, Virginia. Hall is always around the ball evident in his nation-leading 22 pass breakups in 2018.

5. C.J. Henderson, Florida. 6-1 instinctual CB with fluid hips that can turn and run with anyone.

CLICK HERE FOR 2020 NFL MOCK DRAFT 2.0

 

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Fantasy Football 2019: Previewing Lamar Jackson vs. Patrick Mahomes in Week 3

Fantasy Football 2019: Previewing Lamar Jackson vs. Patrick Mahomes in Week 3

Lamar Jackson faces his first real challenge of the season on Sunday when the Ravens travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs and their star signal-caller, Patrick Mahomes.

Both teams have been very similar through the first two weeks of the season. The Ravens and the Chiefs are the only two teams in the NFL that currently feature a top-five fantasy quarterback, wide receiver, and tight end (BAL: Jackson QB1, Brown WR4, Mark Andrews TE1) (KC: Mahomes QB3, Watkins WR1, Travis Kelce TE3).

While most pegged Mahomes as the de-facto option at quarterback ahead of the season, very few saw the start that Jackson has served up.

Jackson has entered MVP-consideration several months removed from being pegged as an afterthought. After the Heisman Trophy winner took the helm of the offense midway through last season, the NFL questioned his arm strength, his accuracy, and whether he could be the key to leading the Ravens back to the Super Bowl. A disappointing playoff appearance brought along more doubters, but John Harbaugh knew he had something special in Jackson.

The Ravens selected Marquise "Hollywood" Brown in the first round of April's draft and signed veteran running back Mark Ingram to add to Jackson's arsenal. Both moves have been instrumental through the first two weeks of the season. Brown is currently WR4 (12 Receptions, 233 Receiving YDS, 2 Receiving TD,) heading into Week 3, and Ingram is flourishing as RB12 (154 Rushing YDS, 2 Rushing TD, 2 Receptions, 30 Receiving YDS).

The Chiefs dominance throughout the first two weeks of the season hasn't got as much acclaim. Mahomes and Co. dusted the Jaguars in the season opener and unfortunately lost star receiver Tyreek Hill for a few weeks with a shoulder injury. Sammy Watkins then took advantage of the increased workload and put in the best performance of his career (198 Receiving YDS, 3 Receiving TD). In Week two against the Raiders, Mahomes shredded the Raiders for four touchdowns. 

When these two teams matched up in 2018, Mahomes threw for 377 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, while Jackson threw for 147 yards, two touchdowns, and rushed for 67 yards.

I expect a similar outing for the Mahomes in Week 3, and presume Jackson's rushing total will be significantly less than in their last clash. Both quarterbacks will finish this week in the top-five of fantasy scoring, and we will witness the best game thus far of 2019.

Quarterback Rankings: Week 3
Running Back Rankings: Week 3
Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 3
Tight End Rankings: Week 3