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After being traded from a playoff contender to a team in free-fall, new Broncos inside linebacker Kenny Young said he has “mixed emotions” about being in Denver.
Young, who started each of the first seven games for the one-loss Rams, was traded Monday along with a 2024 seventh-round pick, to the Broncos in exchange for a sixth-round pick in ’24. Despite a short turnaround to learn Denver’s defense, he’ll likely be called on to play Sunday against Washington due to the team’s large number of injuries at the position.
“You’re always excited (with a trade) because you have a new welcoming home, but on the human side of it, I am feeling mixed emotions,” Young said Wednesday. “But I feel like there’s light at the end of this tunnel. I don’t know how that shakes out, but I’m doing my part … and something will work itself out.”
Young said the Rams told him the trade was financially motivated. The 26-year-old is making a $2.18 million salary this year. He has 46 tackles and two sacks, including seven tackles and a sack in the Rams’ win over Detroit on Sunday. His departure saved Los Angeles a half-season of salary for the free agent to-be, plus cleared the way for more playing time for highly regarded rookie Ernest Jones.
“(The Rams told me) it had nothing to do with my on-the-field ability,” Young said. “I was playing well, and the way the cap was structured, they needed to take the money off my deal to give (it) to guys in other areas and up-and-comers. It was about finances… I’m not cool with it, but I have to respect it.”
The Broncos traded for Young out of need as the team currently has three inside linebackers on injured reserve. Week 1 starters Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell are both out for the season with pectoral injuries, while Micah Kiser (signed off the Rams’ practice squad Sept. 22) has a groin injury. Plus, rookie Baron Browning missed last week with a concussion and Jonas Griffith hasn’t played since Week 3 due to a hamstring injury, though both players returned to practice Tuesday.
Broncos coach Vic Fangio said he’s unsure what role Young will have against Washington, or how many snaps he’ll get. The only thing that is for sure for the Broncos at inside linebacker this week is that second-year pro Justin Strnad will be starting and again wearing the green dot on his helmet to relay to defensive play calls.
Still, Fangio offered an endorsement for Young, who was drafted out of UCLA in the fourth round in 2018 by the Ravens. He has 166 career tackles and 5.5 sacks in 53 games played (19 starts).
“He’s athletic and he’s a playmaker,” Fangio said. “He’s good in coverage and has good instincts.”
Safety and team captain Justin Simmons echoed that praise, calling Young “a special player” who will have a quicker learning curve than most in adjusting to Fangio’s defense, considering the Rams run a similar scheme.
“For guys like Kareem (Jackson) and myself, we have to find ways to make it as seamless of a transition as possible for him,” Simmons said. “By no means will it be an easy task, but nothing is and we have to find ways to get that communication down pat. And we will.”
For his part, Young said he’s more focused on trying to carve out a role with his new team than the Broncos’ four-game losing slide. The Rams, on the other hand, are 6-1 and have won three in a row.
“With the situation I’m thrown in, I can’t put much pressure on myself with the record,” Young said. “These past 72 hours have been a whirlwind. I’m just here, trying to learn as much as I can, trying to get caught up on (the system).”
We’ve got quite a few games under our belts at this point, so touchdown dependencies are starting to level out, giving us a good idea of who can keep up their high-scoring ways. These are my best bets to score going into Week 8 of the NFL season.
DAMIEN HARRIS, Patriots
Harris is starting to hit his stride in the New England offense, scoring four touchdowns over his past three games and going over 100 yards in his past two outings. He’ll face a Chargers team this week that stifles the pass but bends for the run, allowing the second-most rushing TDs in the league this season. With a 39.63% TD dependency, Harris is right in the sweet spot for being able to keep up his current scoring profile.
JAMES ROBINSON, Jaguars
It’s a good thing the Jaguars had a bye last week, because James Robinson surely needed some rest from carrying the offense for four consecutive weeks. He’s gone over 70 yards a game and scored five TDs in that time, and perhaps only the bye would have kept him from doing it all over again in Week 7. There’s no such barrier in Week 8, as Robinson gets to go against a Seattle defense that has given up the second-most points to RBs this season and is our sixth-best matchup for RBs at Rosterwatch.com.
EZEKIEL ELLIOTT, Cowboys
Elliott had scored one or more TDs in his past four games before getting somewhat stymied, in the scoring department at least, by the Patriots defense in Week 6. They allowed 119 yards but no score. Elliott has had a week off before he faces a Minnesota team that is tied for the fifth-most rushing TDs allowed (five) this season. He should keep his 36.51% TD dependency well intact.
JOE MIXON, Bengals
Mixon has his best matchup of the season this week, as he’ll go against a Jets team that is the best matchup for opposing RBs in the NFL, having allowed 11 TDs to RBs this season. On a four-game TD tear, Mixon should have little trouble finding the end zone once again in Week 8.
DARRELL HENDERSON, Rams
Henderson isn’t your prototypical goal-line back, but he’s being used as one in Los Angeles nonetheless. In fact, he rarely leaves the field at all, as Henderson has the highest snap count rate (83.5%) of any RB in the league. So chances are good that Henderson gets all of the rushing opportunities to score against a Texans team that is our fifth-best matchup for opposing RBs.
MIKE EVANS, Buccaneers
Evans had a productive Week 7, three of his six catches were for touchdowns, with Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski both out. Gronk may return this week, no word yet on Brown, but Evans will remain a strong bet to score as the Saints haven’t allowed a TD to a tight end yet this season but have allowed five TDs to WRs.
ADAM THIELEN, Vikings
Thielen got back on track in Week 6, going for 116 yards and a score, before the Week 7 bye. He’ll look to continue his recent upward trend against a Cowboys defense that doesn’t break, but still they’re our fourth-best WR matchup on the day. Cowboys CB Trevon Diggs will probably give Justin Jefferson most of his attention, so the 43.17% TD dependent Thielen should see a lot of action on the other side of the field.
TYREEK HILL, Chiefs
Kansas City’s offense struggled in Week 7 against the Titans as the Chiefs managed three points in the loss, so look for a return to form against the Giants this week, with Hill as a primary playmaker. There’s no Clyde Edwards-Helaire again this week, so Patrick Mahomes will lean on Hill along with TE Travis Kelce. Our sixth-best matchup for opposing WRs, the Giants could struggle keeping the 30.49% TD dependent (on a whopping 52 receptions) Hill, or any of the Chiefs playmakers, out of the end zone.
CEEDEE LAMB, Cowboys
Lamb has ascended to the top of the Cowboys passing attack in his second year as a pro, racking up 149 yards and two TDs in his most recent outing against the Patriots. The premier WR in perhaps the NFL’s most dynamic offense, Lamb will face a middling Vikings defense in what is shaping up to be a high-flying matchup with plenty of scoring.
DEEBO SAMUEL, 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo is back under center for the 49ers and that’s a boon for the electrifying Samuel. Samuel has a double-digit target average when Jimmy G is playing. His opponent this week, the Bears, are middle of the road against WRs yardage-wise, but they’ve allowed the second-most (12) receiving TDs to WRs in the league this season.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by RosterWatch, www.rosterwatch.com.
NEW YORK — Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis says he doesn’t believe the team was targeted in the leaking of emails that led to the resignation of coach Jon Gruden.
Speaking after the NFL owners meetings ended Wednesday, Davis also acknowledged the team has reached a settlement with Gruden, who received a 10-year, $100 million contract to return to coach the team in 2018. He did not reveal terms of the settlement.
Asked about any recent conversations with Gruden, whose racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments were uncovered during an investigating of workplace misconduct at the Washington Football Team, Davis said: “He’s hurt, he’s really hurt. I understand that. But he understands the ramifications of what he said.”
“We all have our demons in life,” Davis added, “and we have to understand that.”
Davis wondered about the timing of the leaking of the emails, and said he was not given a reason for delays in his team being told about them. The NFL has not and will not be releasing documents from the independent investigation of the Washington Football Team, saying the league is protecting the identities of those who testified. Gruden’s emails were to Bruce Allen, the former president of the Washington franchise.
Davis would like the league to release a written report of the investigation.
“I would like to see some of the things that were charged,” he said.
He also gave a lukewarm endorsement of Raiders general manager Mike Mayock, who was hired by Gruden.
“Mike Mayock is the GM of the Raiders,” the owner said. “I will not speak for the future, right now he’s the GM of the Raiders.”
And, echoing the sentiments of his late father, Al Davis, the Pro Football Hall of Fame owner, Davis noted about the way his team was drawn deeply into the Washington investigation, “We’re Raiders. We’re used to this.”
Al Davis often took on the league and other teams on a variety of issues, including suing the NFL to allow him to move the franchise.
There were no matters up for voting on the owners’ agenda for these meetings — the first in person since December 2019. There was a tweak to the Rooney Rule that requires interviews of minority candidates for coaching and executive jobs.
At least one in-person interview with a minority candidate for head coach and general manager positions who is not working for the interviewing team will be required. Many interviews during the COVID-19 pandemic have been done virtually.
The idea is to ensure that searches for such hires are diverse and thorough.
Through seven weeks of the schedule, the number of coaches’ challenges has dropped significantly from 62 in 2020 and 104 the previous season to 46. Troy Vincent, the NFL’s pro football operations chief, believes help from the replay officiating booth and league office in New York has led to the decrease.
Vincent also said the uptick in penalties overall stems from an increase in offensive holding calls.
Defending the process for replay reviews, Vincent said there were five or so reviews that required lengthier than normal stoppages.
“But there is an appreciation of getting it right,” he said. “It is not about the time, the goal is to get it right. We’re always about efficiency, but we have the technology to get it right.”
AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow contributed.
First up for the Broncos when they returned to practice Tuesday after a mini-bye weekend: First and second down.
Coach Vic Fangio used the bonus workout to concentrate on the Broncos’ woeful early-down work offensively and defensively.
“That’s where a lot of our problems have originated from,” Fangio said. “We’ve had too many third-and-longs (offensively) and the other night (at Cleveland), we had too many third-and-1s on defense.”
The Browns converted all six of their third-and-1 chances in last week’s 17-14 win.
The Broncos’ offense has had season-long problems producing on early downs, which have led to low-percentage third-down plays.
According to Stats, Inc., the Broncos’ offense:
- Is 23rd in yards per first-down snap (5.23) and its 104 first-down plays of less than four yards (out of 193) are tied for sixth-most.
- Averages 8.08 yards to go on second down (fifth-highest).
- Ranks 27th in third-down conversion rate (31.8%; 28 of 88) and is tied for fourth in most third-and-8 plays (nine), tied for first in most third-and-9 plays (nine) and second in most third-and-10-plus plays (31).
Flurry of roster moves. Before practice, the Broncos announced multiple roster moves.
Waived: Running back Damarea Crockett and inside linebacker Curtis Robinson.
Placed on COVID-19/reserve list: Guard Netane Muti.
Designated to return from injured reserve: Tight end Albert Okwuegbunam (hamstring) and inside linebacker Jonas Griffin (hamstring). Okwuegbunam and Griffin were present for practice.
Released from practice squad: Receiver John Brown, center Javon Patterson and cornerback Saivion Smith.
Injury report. Not practicing for the Broncos were nose tackle Mike Purcell (thumb) and outside linebackers Von Miller (ankle) and Malik Reed (undisclosed).
Left tackle Garett Bolles (undisclosed) took part in the team stretch before walking to the weight room building.
Receiver Jerry Jeudy (ankle), inside linebacker Baron Browning (concussion) and outside linebacker Aaron Patrick (ankle) took part in individual drills during the media viewing.
Fangio said Miller is “day to day,” Purcell “probably won’t play” against Washington and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (ankle/quad) will be a full participant this week.
Combine back to Indy. At the opening of Tuesday’s owners’ meeting, NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said the scouting combine is returning to Indianapolis in 2022.
Vincent said the 2023 combine is up for bid between Dallas, Los Angeles, Indianapolis and potentially other cities.
Indianapolis has hosted the event since 1987 save for this year, when workouts were held on-campus and interviews remotely.
Briefly. The Broncos are being represented by president/CEO Joe Ellis at the NFL’s first in-person owners’ meetings since 2019. The sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday are being held in New York. … Former quarterback Peyton Manning’s ceremony to unveil his Ring of Fame pillar will be held at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on the plaza south of the stadium and is open to fans. Manning’s induction will take place at halftime.
The Broncos linebacking corps sorely needed depth after injuries claimed starters and backups alike. Veteran outside linebacker Stephen Weatherly needed a chance.
Both sides got what they wanted in a trade Saturday that sent the physical pass-rusher and a 2023 seventh-round pick to the Broncos for a ’22 seventh-rounder.
With a fresh start in Denver, Weatherly doesn’t have a whole lot of time to familiarize himself with coach Vic Fangio’s defense ahead of Sunday’s home game against Washington. So the 6-foot-5, 262-pound Vanderbilt product wasted little time getting to work with outside linebackers coach John Pagano.
“Pagano sat me down (Monday) and right after he shook my hand he said, ‘Okay, let’s go through this film,'” Weatherly said. “I was like, ‘All right, okay coach,’ and I grabbed a notebook and tried to write down as much as possible… The key (to finding a role) is definitely between the ears at this point.”
To that end, Weatherly noticed the seat next to Von Miller in the outside linebackers’ room was vacant, so he quickly claimed it Monday. While Miller didn’t practice Tuesday and is day-to-day with an ankle sprain, Weatherly plans to capitalize sitting next to the likely future Hall of Famer. Weatherly was a defensive end in the Vikings’ 4-3 scheme, but will play outside linebacker in Denver’s 3-4 defense. He has 93 career tackles and six sacks in 64 games across six seasons, five with Minnesota and one with Carolina last year.
“I’ll see how (Miller) moves, how he looks at offensive tackles, how he breaks down film,” Weatherly said. “I just want to be a sponge.”
The trade for Weatherly addressed the Broncos’ thinning depth at outside linebacker. Bradley Chubb (ankle) has played only part of one game and is on injured reserve, as is rookie Andre Mintze (hamstring). Aaron Patrick (signed Sept. 23 off Jacksonville’s practice squad) is dealing with an ankle injury. That left Malik Reed, Jonathon Cooper and Pita Taumoepenu (played one snap against Cleveland as a practice-squad call-up) at the position after Miller exited last Thursday’s game late in the first half.
Weatherly, the Vikings’ seventh-round pick in 2016, said he was “really excited” when he heard about the trade. He’s familiar with general manager George Paton, who came to Denver from Minnesota’s front office. If Miller can’t play Sunday, Weatherly will provide depth behind presumed starters Reed and Cooper, the rookie who showed promise with three quarterback hits against the Browns.
“(The trade) meant I was going to go somewhere and have another shot to prove I can do what it takes to play in this league,” Weatherly said.
Fangio said Paton’s move to bring in Weatherly — as well as trading with the Rams for inside linebacker Kenny Young this week — “absolutely” sends a message that the GM isn’t giving up on the Broncos’ season ahead of the Nov. 2 trade deadline. Weatherly was mostly a special teams player for the Vikings but also had nine tackles on defense, while Young had 46 tackles and two sacks while starting all of the Rams’ seven games.
“George is great at what he does; any task is not too big for him,” Fangio said. “When he’s presented with a challenge that falls under his jurisdiction, he attacks it. He did it when we lost Jerry (Jeudy) and KJ (Hamler), and he’s done it now (at linebacker).”
Fangio said he isn’t worried about his players being more focused on the trade deadline than preparing to face Washington at Empower Field.
“These trades have been injury-motivated, so I don’t think (players will be distracted),” Fangio said.
To get Weatherly and Young ready for Sunday’s game, Fangio said the duo will have to “overdose on meeting time.” Even with that, Fangio’s unsure if they will be ready on such short notice. The Broncos play at Dallas on Nov. 7 and versus Philadelphia on Nov. 14 before the team’s Week 11 bye.
“They’re going to get a lot of extra meeting time, they’re going to have to do a lot of work at home with the iPads,” Fangio said. “It’s a lot of extra work, and it’s more mental than physical. We’ll give them as many extra reps in practice as we can. But it’s not an easy chore.”
Time for the Broncos or Washington to get right. The Broncos (3-4) enter Sunday’s 2:25 p.m. kickoff on a four-game losing streak and Washington (2-5) has lost three in a row. Here are three Week 8 storylines:
1. Wrong kind of club
The Broncos and Washington have something in common since 2016: Losing streaks of at least four games. The Broncos, Washington, Carolina, Jacksonville, the Giants and Tampa Bay lead the NFL with five skids of at least four games. Eight teams have had one streak (Buffalo, Baltimore, Green Bay, Dallas, Kansas City, Minnesota, New England and Pittsburgh) and three have had none (Seattle, New Orleans and Tennessee). The Broncos lost eight straight in ’17, had two four-game streaks in ’18 and one apiece in ’19 and ’21.
2. Lots of yards, few points
Washington’s offense rolled up a season-high 430 yards at Green Bay on Sunday, but never led in a 24-10 loss because of turnovers and red zone issues. WFT went 0 of 4 in the red zone — failed fourth-down plays from the 1- and 3-yard lines, an interception from the 12 and a field goal from the 27 (after a sack). WFT’s offense had eight explosive plays (passes of at least 16 yards/rushes of at least 12). Receiver Terry McLaurin is eighth in the NFL with 550 yards and 12th with 40 catches. Running back Antonio Gibson is 12th in rushing yards (408) and fifth in carries (103).
3. WFT’s struggling D
A Washington defense full of first-round picks hasn’t been able to stop anybody this year. WFT ranks 29th in yards allowed (406.0), last in passing yards allowed (300.6) and last in points allowed (30.0). In Sunday’s loss at Green Bay, though, WFT allowed 304 yards, 70 fewer than their previous low. The problem points have been little production from 2021 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young (1 1/2 sacks). WFT has five of its first-round picks in the starting lineup and two from other teams (safety Landon Collins and injured cornerback William Jackson).
Denver Post Broncos writer Ryan O’Halloran posts his Broncos Mailbag periodically during the season. Submit questions to Ryan here.
Humor us, please. In your time in Jacksonville, were the Jaguars ever this incompetent and incapable?
— Kris H., Grand Prairie, Texas
Well, yes. The Jaguars teams I covered went 2-14, 4-12, 3-13, 5-11, 3-13 and 10-6. Included were losing streaks of seven (2012), eight (’13), six (’14) and nine (’16) games.
But it seemed like every year except for ’12, there was something interesting going on. New coach/new GM in ’13. Rookie quarterback in ’14. Free-agent money spent in ’16. This Broncos team, right now, is, well, boring.
Why do the Broncos stink? Why has this organization taken a drastic dive into the football abyss?
— Ricky Lopez, Cedaredge
The same answer applies to both questions.
1. Quarterback play. Period. No stability at the sport’s most important position — last month, Teddy Bridgewater was the fifth Week 1 starter in as many years.
2. And look at the last five first-round picks. Left tackle Garett Bolles needs to pick it up. Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb and receiver Jerry Jeudy have been injured. Tight end Noah Fant has yet to get going. And cornerback Pat Surtain II has been fine as a rookie.
Why is Vic Fangio still there? How many losing seasons does it take to say enough is enough?
— Robert Rivers, Powdersville, S.C.
Hey, the Broncos believe they’re still in it even though they are 3-4 and are 12th out of 16 teams in the AFC.
Moving Fangio out at this juncture is pointless. In baseball, hockey and basketball, you see interim coaches occasionally spark their team to a new height. Not so much in the NFL, where the only reason to make a change is to get a head start at vetting the next coach.
If it’s three losing seasons in as many years, that will likely be it.
Vic Fangio said all camp long how close the race was between Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock. If that were the case, wouldn’t it had made sense to switch to Lock with Bridgewater hurt and ineffective in the first half of the Browns game? Do you think Fangio is being influenced by George Paton not to switch since Bridgewater is his guy?
— Brandon Brown, Rogers, Minn.
Watching Bridgewater go through pre-game warm-ups last week in Cleveland, the thought among a lot of us media-folk was he wouldn’t make it to the finish line.
But Bridgewater gutted it out. Lock was warming up between offensive series throughout the first half.
I go back to Lock’s poor performance in the second half of the Baltimore loss. Was that enough to convince Fangio that a not-that-healthy Teddy is better than a completely healthy Drew? It might have been. Remember, the sentiment before the season was Bridgewater would keep his job so long as the team was winning. The Broncos have lost four consecutive games but Fangio remains committed to Bridgewater.
I don’t believe Paton is getting involved with start-him-or-bench-him quarterback decisions in-season.
How many of the failures are from this coaching staff? Remember when we had Rich Scangarello as the offensive coordinator and Drew Lock started to win games, so how different would things be if we had the right coaching?
— Christopher G, Gunnison
The blame should be passed around to every part of the football operation — management, coaches and players.
The Scangarello firing, which happened two weeks after the 2019 season, will always be viewed as weird because Lock went 4-1 in his cameo, but he was drafted to play in a very specific offense. Then, poof, after one year, Lock had to start over.
When will the obvious flaws in coaching be addressed?
— Shaun Haynes, Tulsa, Okla.
Jan.10? The Broncos’ regular season ends the day before against Kansas City. The day 1/10/22 could be monumental in franchise history. The team may be put up for sale and there could be a coaching change.
If there isn’t some sort of change in the coaching staff or a quarterback change, how is the fan base supposed to believe this team is doing everything it can to stay competitive now instead of spending the next 10 weeks looking toward next year?
— Steve, Forks, Wash.
It would be great if the Broncos could make the final two months interesting by playing, wait for it, a rookie quarterback.
Instead, we’ll get more of Bridgewater and maybe some of Lock if the offensive struggles continue. If Fangio feels jump-starting the offense with a new play-caller is smart, that will be the last arrow he fires.
If the Broncos lose to Washington and are 3-5 headed to Dallas, uh oh. By Thanksgiving, we’ll be previewing the 2022 NFL Draft.
When do we get an owner?
— Phil, Greenwood Village
If the team is put on the market after the regular season ends in January, I think the earliest would be the NFL’s Annual Meeting in late March. If I’m the Broncos, though, and a new owner is quickly identified, they should request a special owner’s meeting to approve the sale before the free agency-trade season starts in early-to-mid March.
Ryan, do you think the Broncos would even fancy a trade for Deshaun Watson? Would he even come here? Would he even be eligible to play? I like the talent, but the price and the baggage seem way too high.
— Hugh, Fort Collins
Myself and columnist Mark Kiszla debated this topic in Tuesday’s paper. We both believe pursuing Watson isn’t wise right now because of the uncertainty of his playing status, the return the Texans could command and no Broncos owner to support George Paton’s pursuit or demand the pursuit of Watson.
To me, the baggage — serious and legal in nature — are more of a turn-off than the price. Trading at least two first-round picks and 2-3 players for Watson is fine with me.
SEATTLE — Brian Johnson kicked a 33-yard field goal with 1:56 remaining in his NFL debut, and the New Orleans Saints capitalized on a series of Seattle mistakes for a 13-10 win over the Seahawks on Monday night.
Alvin Kamara carried the load for New Orleans and Jameis Winston made a handful of plays when needed, but the Saints escaped Seattle thanks largely to a series of blunders by the home team, led by backup quarterback Geno Smith.
Two of the Seahawks’ biggest mistakes came on New Orleans’ deciding drive when Seattle was flagged for roughing the passer and jumping offside on a long field-goal attempt. Both penalties gave New Orleans first downs, and Johnson’s field goal coming out of the 2-minute warning put the Saints ahead.
Johnson, a rookie from Virginia Tech, made an extra point and both field-goal tries, connecting from 21 yards in the first half.
Smith hit DK Metcalf for an 84-yard touchdown in the first quarter but went nowhere when the Seahawks had a final chance to tie or win. Smith was sacked on consecutive plays by Malcolm Jenkins and Demario Davis. On fourth-and-28, Smith was pressured again and his throw to Metcalf fell incomplete.
Smith went 12 of 22 for 167 yards and was sacked five times as Davis, Cameron Jordan and others made his night uncomfortable. He lost his second straight game starting in place of Russell Wilson, who injured his right middle finger in a defeat to the Rams three weeks ago and is out until at least mid-November.
Seattle has lost three straight for the first time since 2011 and fell to 0-3 at home.
Kamara finished with 10 catches for 128 yards and a 13-yard TD reception late in the first half. It was his fifth career regular-season game with double-digit receptions. He rushed for 51 yards.
Winston was 19 of 35 for 222 yards and added 43 yards rushing. He also made enough plays — thanks to Seattle penalties — to get the Saints in range for the winning field goal.
Seattle appeared to get a stop, but Marquise Blair was called for roughing the passer on a third-down sack after hitting Winston with the crown of his helmet. Kamara then sprinted past a blitz for 12 yards on third-and-10 and the Saints were in field-goal range.
Al Woods jumped offside as Johnson lined up for a 43-yard attempt, allowing New Orleans to burn another 90 seconds off the clock before Johnson made the shorter try.
Seattle’s Jason Myers missed a pair of field goal attempts from 44 and 53 yards — the second into the open end of the stadium after Smith took another costly sack. Myers made a 50-yarder.
Kamara had 21 touches on New Orleans’ 39 offensive plays in the first half. He was mostly ineffective on the ground, but Seattle couldn’t slow him down in the pass game. He already had 108 yards receiving by halftime.
Four of his receptions came on the final drive of the half when his 31-yard catch-and-run out of the backfield set up his 13-yard TD catch and a 10-7 halftime lead.
Ring of honor
Former Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor at halftime. Hasselbeck, who played for Seattle from 2001-10, held most of the team’s passing records until Wilson’s arrival and led the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl appearance.
New Orleans starting left guard Andrus Peat injured his shoulder in the first half. He briefly returned but left again late in the second quarter. … Blair appeared to injure his right knee late in the fourth quarter. He had major surgery on the knee early in the 2020 season.
Saints: Host Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Seahawks: Host Jacksonville on Sunday.
Keeler: Von Miller? Too expensive. Kyle Fuller? Too burnt. Broncos should trade QB Teddy Bridgewater
If nothing else, imagine the look on Pat Shurmur’s face. The Broncos’ offensive coordinator is in his office, twiddling his pencil, sketching out incompletions, when someone bursts open the door.
“Pat! Pat! Pat, they traded Teddy.”
Shurmur stops twiddling. He looks up from his pencil.
“We did. George did.”
“Drew is starting in Dallas.”
With that, everything snaps. The pencil. Shurmur’s mind. He resigns on the spot. The Broncos get an early start on 2022. Everybody wins!
Look, Teddy Bridgewater is a great guy. A cool story. Someone you root for in football and in life.
But we’re delaying the inevitable here, aren’t we? If he’s the starting quarterback for the Broncos in 2022 and beyond, something either went very, very right or very, very wrong.
Steady Teddy was always a rental. A short-term fix. If general manager George Paton wants to get a leg up on next season, he’ll trade No. 5 for whatever draft capital he can get back in the next week. And he’ll do it before this offensive line gets Bridgewater beaten up any more than it already has.
You could make a case to move any of the Broncos’ cache of veterans in contract years before the Nov. 2 trade deadline. Pass-rushing ace Von Miller? Should’ve been dealt two years ago, at peak health and value. Now he’s 32 years old and carrying a $17.5 million base salary that’s too hefty for a team to happily take off Paton’s payroll.
You know what kind of return you’ll get for cornerback Kyle Fuller? Nada. Tackle Bobby Massie? Nada. Safety Kareem Jackson? Tailback Melvin Gordon? Mostly nada.
But in a passing league, passers — especially ones with 12 touchdown throws against five picks and a 70.1% completion rate over seven games this fall — still have value. The Jets just took a flier on Joe Flacco, for pity’s sake.
Trading for Teddy was a good idea at the time, George. Brilliant? No. Bold? Uh-uh. Bridgewater was about ball security and safety. Serviceability.
Serviceability might nudge you into the playoffs if your offensive coordinator isn’t proudly drawing up plays with a pencil while the rest of the league uses tablets and Microsoft Surface pens. Serviceability works if your defense resembles the 2000 Ravens or the No-Fly-Zone Broncos of 2015. And this one, for all that hype and hope, looks like neither.
Coach Vic Fangio can’t fix it. Or even properly tweak it. Which defeats the point of Uncle Vic still being here, really. It defeats the point of Paton handing him every defensive toy he’d asked for this past spring.
It defeats the point of Bridgewater’s services, too. The Broncos this past April sent a sixth-round pick from the ’21 draft to Carolina for No. 5. Why not call the Panthers — another September mirage who’ve dropped four straight — and offer Bridgewater back, straight up, for a sixth-rounder in ’22?
The Sam Darnold Experiment is blowing up in Carolina. The Panthers are already on the hook for $7.062 million to Bridgewater this fall in a restructured bonus, compared to the Broncos’ reported $4.4 million in obligations.
The Bears could use a Plan C at quarterback. The Saints could use a Plan B who isn’t Trevor Siemian.
The Dolphins are openly, unapologetically desperate. Bridgewater would make a better complement in Philly to young Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts than Gardner Minshew.
Yes, you’d be flying the white flag over Empower Field. Yes, you’d be sending a message of surrender to your veterans. Although, haven’t some of those veterans been sending you subtle signals of surrender already?
And yes, you’d be rolling the dice with Drew Lock and/or Brett Rypien behind center the rest of the way. But is that appreciably worse than watching a gimpy Bridgewater try and fail to outduel Case bleeping Keenum on national television?
Lock gives his legion of Drew fans a chance to prove they were right all along during the preseason. Bridgewater gets another chance somewhere else to be a mentor and a relief pitcher, which is likely his NFL destiny the rest of the way. The Broncos play out the string going young, because young and bad is still less pathetic than saying you’re going for it, harping about “urgency,” yet doing the same thing, over and over, while expecting a different result.
That’s the very definition of insanity, and it’s driving Broncos Country crazy. The Broncos’ petty ownership squabbles have resembled a script from HBO’s “Game of Thrones” for too dang long. Winter is coming.
New management. New coach. New quarterbacks. It’s time to either go big for an Aaron Rodgers or a Deshaun Watson, or it’s time to grow up, man up, and get real about a rebuild.
Stop crossing your fingers at quarterback and aiming low at head coach. Stop trying to win the Indy 500 with a Sherman tank.