Two of the state NFL teams will be in action Sunday afternoon and both or trying to avoid 0- 2 for different reasons.
First, you have the Jaguars, who already resemble a “M.A.S.H. Unit” of injuries, as they head to Houston to play the Texans in an AFC South showdown. The excitement of the addition of free-agent quarterback Nick Foles lasted exactly part of one quarter last Sunday against the Chiefs. That’s when Foles suffered a broken clavicle and a report Sunday says he will not be back until at least week 11 with the injury:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 15, 2019
That means that backup quarterback Gardner Minshew, a rookie 6th round pick out of Washington State, will now lead the Jaguars at least in the short-term. Minshew was very effective last week completing a high percentage of passes and moving the offense. Jacksonville also made a trade earlier in the week for Steelers backup QB Joshua Dobbs, but it’s not expected he will be able to contribute today.
Besides the Foles injury, the Jaguars will be without their top pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue, who suffered a hamstring strain in the lost to KC. The team will also be without left tackle Cam Robinson for the second straight game, as he suffered an injured knee in practice prior to the opener. The team also has ruled out defensive back A.J. Bouye and receiver Marqise Lee with injuries prior to this game.
The good news is the Texans are on a short week having lost an emotional, heartbreaking last second game to the Saints Monday night. Quarterback Deshaun Watson was also banged up, including an injured back off his first-half touchdown run. Still, the Texans will test the Jaguars pass defense the same way the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes did last week.
Meanwhile, in South Florida, the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots travel to take on the spiraling downward Dolphins. Miami was embarrassed 59 – 10 by Baltimore last week. And, that defeat now apparently has numerous players on the current roster wanting to be somewhere else, just as the Dolphins have gotten rid of most of their high-priced veterans already.
Controversial wide receiver Antonio Brown will apparently be active for New England for this game. Brown is being accused of sexual assault in a civil complaint that the NFL is investigating. However, the league took no action on keeping Brown from playing today and he did travel with the team.
The Dolphins do have some consolation in that under previous coaching staffs, they have won six of the last seven meetings against New England at Hard Rock Stadium. However, Miami’s got to find some kind of offense with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the backfield of Kenyan Drake and Kallen Ballage, to have any chance against the Pats.
Report- Dolphins will play Patriots in Mexico City
Although the 2020 NFL schedule will not be released for several more months, it appears that we know where the Dolphins will play their “International Series” game and it will be against an AFC East rival in Mexico.
A report from Fox Sports Mexico said late Monday night that they’ve learned that the annual game the NFL has been playing for several years in Mexico City will this season be the Dolphins and the New England Patriots:
— FOX Sports MX (@FOXSportsMX) January 28, 2020
Miami has agreed to play an International Series game as part of landing the Superbowl being played this weekend at Hard Rock Stadium between the 49ers and the Chiefs.
The NFL also plays several International games a year in England, which is where the Dolphins had last played one being shut out 20-0 by the Saints in the 2017 season.
The Patriots are no strangers to having played previously in Mexico City. They defeated the Raiders easily 33-8 at Azteca Stadium in that same 2017 season.
Many Dolphins fans and season ticket holders will probably be upset to learn that the home game with the most prominent franchise in the NFL is being moved. However, from a league standpoint the Patriots have tremendous marquee value.
Of course there is one variable: and that’s the status of free agent Quarterback Tom Brady? Brady, who will turn 43 years old this season, has led New England to six Super Bowl championships, but at the moment is slated to be a free agent. And while it is likely that, if he continues to play and not retire, that it will be with the Patriots, it’s not unheard of that he could sign with another team.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins stunned the Patriots in their final meeting of the year in week 17, when Ryan Fitzpatrick led the game-winning touchdown drive in the final minute of play hitting tight end Mike Gesicki (above) with the go-ahead TD pass. That cost New England a bye in the opening round of the playoffs, and they subsequently lost on the Wild Card Weekend to the Tennessee Titans.
A year ago the NFL played the Mexico City game on Monday night with the Chiefs taking on their AFC West rival, the Chargers. In 2018, the Chiefs and the L.A. Rams were supposed to have met at Azteca Stadium, but the field was deemed unplayable two weeks before the game. So, it was moved to L.A. Coliseum.
The official NFL schedule release is usually in April just prior to the draft.
Dolphins coach Flores already dealing with lots of 2020 changes
For almost every NFL team not named the 49ers and the Chiefs, the draft evaluation process is now well underway, and most all teams are represented now in Mobile, Alabama for this weekend’s Senior Bowl. That includes, the Dolphins head coach Brian Flores and his staff (some of them brand new), who are taking it all in.
And on Monday night, Flores met with the Dolphins assembled media and beat writers about the changes that have already taken place within his coaching staff and how it will shape this offseason.
First, Flores took the drastic action of firing first-year offensive coordinator, Chad O’Shea, whom he had brought with him from the Patriots this past season. Part of that decision was based on Miami’s poor play offensively, but a bigger part is the person that Flores could bring in to run his offense.
That’s former Cowboys and bills head coach and longtime NFL offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey.
As we wrote when these moves were made earlier this month, Gailey has a long-standing relationship with veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Gailey was his head coach in Buffalo and also his offensive coordinator with the Jets, photo above,. It also further signals the Fitzpatrick apparently will be heavily involved in the 2020 offensive plans.
Speaking to the media and with the quotes being relayed via Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post, Flores emphasized that Gailey’s in-game adjustments and his ability to teach is what appealed to hiring him,
“He does a really good job of adjustments in-game,” Flores said. “If you’re playing cover one, he’s got cover-one beaters, if you’re playing zone, he’s got zone-beaters. If you’re diamond front he’s got his diamond runs. He’s a good coach that way. I think he’s seen a lot of football.”
“I know he’s a great teacher,” Flores said. “Just in my conversations with several players and coaches that have spent time with him, and that’s obviously very important. The first thing I should have said is that.”
Flores also is dealing with having lost defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham, whom he allowed to take the same job with the New York Giants. Instead of going outside for his replacement hire, Flores instead promoted from in-house with defensive backs coach Josh Boyer getting the promotion and much more responsibility.
As for Boyer, Flores said Monday night from Mobile,
“He and I see things through the same lenses,” Flores said. “A lot of ways. He coached corners and I coached safeties and we spent a lot of time together. Defensive philosophies and fundamentals and techniques, the things we teach. We’re very much on the same page.”
Defense is obviously Flores’ specialty and Boyer is following his same path from when they were with the Pats. This, as Flores ascended from DB coach to defensive coordinator two seasons ago before getting the Dolphins job.
Miami will obviously have to remake their roster with numerous premium draft picks they acquired for this year and next year, plus, significant money under the salary cap for free agents.
And, all of that evaluation, including with Senior prospects practicing and playing this weekend, is now underway.
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