New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) looks to pass, during the first half at an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Miami Dolphins are in a much different spot than they were the last time they faced the New York Jets.
Last month, they were one of the league's midseason laughingstocks, still looking for their first victory of the season. Then they went out and embarrassed the Jets 26-18.
The Dolphins (3-9) could sweep the season series with a win Sunday at MetLife Stadium, adding another chapter to an AFC East rivalry that has lacked juice in recent seasons as both teams have struggled.
"We're really trying to find ourselves and improve, and we've only won three games this year, so there's a lot of things internally that we're just trying to focus on and fix and get better at," Fitzpatrick said. "Some of those questions and then historically and in the past, some things that have happened, that is not really our focus right now. We're kind of hyper-focused on the now and getting ourselves better."
The Dolphins have plenty of motivation in the season's final month, even though they've been out of the playoff race for weeks, and each win hurts their chances of landing a franchise quarterback in next year's draft.
After an 0-7 start, Miami has won three of five games, including victories over playoff contenders Indianapolis and Philadelphia.
"It just shows that we can compete with anybody and we can beat really good teams," first-round draft pick Christian Wilkins said. "We will keep building. I know that this might not be the season that we wanted, or the fans wanted, but winning gives us a little extra sense of motivation."
Meanwhile, the Jets (4-8) are in a similar spot as the Dolphins in what has been a season marked by inconsistency, injuries and humiliating losses.
New York had its three-game winning streak stopped last week with a 22-6 loss to previously winless Cincinnati. If the loss to Miami on Nov. 3 was tough to swallow, that one was even worse. The Jets became the first team in NFL history to lose to two teams that were 0-7 or worse in the same season.
"It's frustrating, obviously," running back Le'Veon Bell said, "but we have to find a way to get better."
The Jets had scored 34 points in each of their previous three games - all wins - but couldn't get anything going against the Bengals. They were called for 10 penalties, including seven on the offensive line, and quarterback Sam Darnold was hurt by several drops.
"I think, for us, it was too many penalties," Darnold said. "For me, I have to hit my guys, I have to be more accurate. I felt like we couldn't get into a rhythm and it hurt us. ... We didn't come out flat, that wasn't an issue for us. It was really just a matter of executing, which was the issue."
Jets safety Jamal Adams appears likely to miss the first game of his three-year NFL career because of a sprained left ankle.
Adams was hurt early in the game at Cincinnati, but pushed through it and wasn't his usual playmaking self. He has been one of New York's bright spots this season and his absence would have a big impact on the defense.
Marcus Maye would likely slide into Adams' strong safety spot, with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams trying to use a combination of Blake Countess, Bennett Jackson and Matthias Farley, if he's healthy, in the other spot.
Fitzpatrick threw last week for a season-high 365 yards, and in the past five games has passed for 902 yards and five scores.
Fitzpatrick said despite the Dolphins' record, his first season in Miami has been a positive experience.
"I feel like I'm better now than I've ever been," said Fitzpatrick, who turned 37 last month. "In terms of what I'm doing and my focus and preparation and going out there with the group I have, my confidence is at an all-time high in terms of all that stuff."
The Dolphins still rank last in the NFL in yards per play. But lately, when they do get a chance to score, they're taking advantage.
Miami is third in the league with a red zone touchdown conversion rate of 68%. In the first four games, the Dolphins were at 17%. Since Week 6, they're at 80%, which ranks first in the league during that span.
"It's practice and execution, and players making plays in those situations," coach Brian Flores said. "Look, in the red zone in this league, the field is condensed so you have to make good throws, you have to make good catches in tight coverage. Players have to go up and make plays. We've had that."
The Jets remain the toughest defense to run against, allowing an NFL-low 75.3 yards rushing per game and just 2.89 yards per carry.
New York is also leading the league with 98 tackles for no gain or negative yardage, excluding kneel-downs, according to Radar360. The next closest is Tampa Bay with 71.
Only one player has rushed for 100 yards or more against the Jets this season: Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott, who had 105 in Week 6.
The Dallas Cowboys haven't had contract discussions with wide receiver Amari Cooper, but he said that he wants to be in Dallas for a long time. Cooper will become a free agent in March, but he is the team's No. 2 priority this offseason behind quarterback Dak Prescott. Despite dealing with nagging injuries for most of the season, Cooper had 79 receptions for a career-high 1,189 yards and eight touchdowns over a full season in 2019. It's hard to imagine Dallas letting him walk in free agency, and his fantasy value would remain the highest as a high-end WR1 if he stays with the Cowboys moving forward. If he goes elsewhere, Michael Gallup would become the team's No. 1 wideout.
Denver Broncos general manager John Elway said that outside linebacker Bradley Chubb (knee), who tore his ACL on Sept. 30 against the Jaguars, is making "really good (progress)." "He looks great. I (jokingly) asked with about five weeks left in the season if he was ready to go. He should be ready to go for OTAs (in May) or even the offseason program (in April)," Elway said. Losing the pass rusher for most of the 2019 season was a big loss for Denver's defense. The 23-year-old was a force in his rookie season with 60 total tackles (41 solo), 12 sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He should be able to bounce back across from Von Miller in 2020 and give Denver a formidable pass rush once again.
The Minnesota Vikings are turning to Gary Kubiak, who has been an assistant head coach and offensive advisor, as their next offensive coordinator, according to sources. Minnesota's previous offensive coordinator, Kevin Stefanski, has left to become the Browns head coach. Not much will change in Minnesota with Kubiak at the helm of the offense, but it is mostly good news for running back Dalvin Cook, who will continue to be the focal point of this offense moving forward. Quarterback Kirk Cousins also benefited from plenty of play-action passing plays while Kubiak was an offensive advisor.
Green Bay Packers TE Jimmy Graham is expected to be released during the offseason, in the opinion of The Green Bay Press-Gazette's Pete Dougherty, who called the prospective move a 'given.' Graham has one year remaining on his deal. Releasing him would free up $8 million in cap room.
Fantasy Spin: Graham posted a 38-447-3 line in his age-33 season, and despite playing well in the playoffs he has been a disappointment since signing with the Packers. Wherever he plays (if he does) in 2020, Graham's days as a TE1 seem far in the rear view.
Green Bay Packers S Adrian Amos (pectoral) is unlikely to require surgery on his injured pec, according to head coach Matt LaFleur. Amos suffered the injury during the NFC Championship Game.
Updating a previous report, impending free-agent Austin Hooper (Falcons) is expected to receive overtures from the Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins if he is allowed to reach the open market, according to sources via Pro Football Network's Tony Pauline.
Impending free-agent DE Robert Quinn (Cowboys) would prefer to remain with the Dallas Cowboys, and sources have told Pro Football Network's Tony Pauline that team owner/general manager Jerry Jones has been 'aggressive' in letting Quinn know he wants him to return.
Atlanta Falcons TE Austin Hooper is not close to a contract extension with the team, according to general manager Thomas Dimitroff Tuesday, Jan. 21. 'The reality right now is that we are trudging along,' Dimitroff said. 'Once we get back from the Super Bowl, after the Super Bowl week we'll continue to look and see how we are moving forward. But at this point there are no updates on Austin.'
Fantasy Spin: Hooper is coming off a career year in which he caught 75 passes for 787 yards and six touchdowns. He's an excellent third option behind WRs Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley in Atlanta, but his play this year may have priced him out of the Falcons' budget for 2020 and beyond. His potential free-agent destination would have a big impact on his 2020 draft stock.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Josh McCown spoke with head coach Doug Pederson about a potential role on the coaching staff, but McCown isn't ready to retire just yet. The veteran QB came out of retirement last August to sign a one-year deal with the Eagles. He's currently recovering from a torn hamstring that he suffered in the wild-card loss to the Seahawks. McCown threw only five passes during the regular season and served as a de facto player/coach as Carson Wentz's backup. He has some potential as a future offensive coordinator, but it's unlikely he would immediately be considered as Mike Groh's successor in Philly. Wherever McCown is playing in 2020, he'll strictly be a backup and won't have any fantasy value.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) had an arrest warrant on a felony charge of burglary and battery issued against him Wednesday, Jan. 22, by Hollywood, Fla. police. A moving truck driver claimed he was assaulted by Brown and his trainer. Brown also was charged with one count of burglary of an occupied conveyance and one count of criminal mischief.
Fantasy Spin: Dynasty owners should be preparing to move on from Brown before finalizing their rosters ahead of 2020 drafts.
Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. will sit down with new head coach Kevin Stefanski Thursday, Jan. 23, to discuss Stefanski's plan for personal conduct. 'I'm looking forward to sitting down with Odell face to face,' Stefanski said. 'I haven't had the chance to do that yet and I get the chance to do that (Thursday). And at that point, that's when I can start laying out my expectations for Odell and all of our players.' Beckham was caught on video at the College Football Playoff Championship Game earlier this month appearing to hand out cash to LSU Tigers players, as well as appearing to slap a security officer on the butt in the locker room. Charges had been filed against Beckham for the latter incident, but they were later dropped.
Fantasy Spin: Beckham totaled 1,035 receiving yards and four touchdowns in his first season in Cleveland. Bigger things were expected, and the hiring of Stefanski should help lead to improvements for 2020. He remains a top-end WR1.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (knee) was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. Kelce will be just fine to suit up on Feb. 2 against the 49ers in the Super Bowl. He was the top fantasy tight end in 2019 and hasn't slowed down in the postseason, catching 13 of 16 targets for 164 yards and three touchdowns against the Texans and Titans. Most of that production came in the Divisional Round when he had 10 grabs for 134 yards and three scores, but Kelce can go off at any time and could be the X-factor in the Super Bowl in two weeks.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman (shoulder) was unable to practice on Wednesday, but the team remains hopeful that he will be available for the Super Bowl against the Chiefs. The team didn't practice on Wednesday, but they were required to submit an estimated practice report. Coleman dislocated his right shoulder in the first half of the NFC Championship against the Packers and played just eight snaps. If he's active for the Super Bowl, Coleman will split snaps with Raheem Mostert, who ran for over 200 yards and four touchdowns against the Packers. Matt Breida will be the No. 3 back.
Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (shoulder) indicated that he will be ready for the start of offseason workouts. Cook is entering the final year of his contract and is a candidate for an extension this offseason.
Fantasy Spin: Cook was one of the top running backs in the NFL this season with 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns during the regular season. He will continue to be a focal point on offense for the Vikings next season and will be an early round pick in fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers LB Kwon Alexander (pectoral), DE Dee Ford (hamstring, quadriceps) and S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) were limited during practice Wednesday, Jan. 22. LB Dre Greenlaw (ankle) fully participated in practice. The 49ers did not hold a practice Wednesday, so the injury report is an estimation.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Jan. 22. The 49ers did not hold a practice Wednesday, so this is an estimation.
Fantasy Spin: The 49ers are optimistic about Coleman's status for Super Bowl LIV, but he may be a game-time decision. He will share snaps with Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida if he plays and could be a flex option in fantasy leagues.
New Orleans Saints impending free-agent QB Drew Brees is a player that the Saints want to keep as long as he wants to keep playing, according to general manager Mickey Loomis.
Fantasy Spin: Brees will be a free agent this offseason, but the Saints will try to re-sign him. He finished with 2,979 yards and 27 touchdowns in the regular season and can be considered a No. 1 quarterback in most fantasy leagues in 2020.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (hip), who had a career-high 1,174 receiving yards and six touchdowns on his way to his fifth Pro Bowl selection in six years, said he played the entire 2019 season with a hip injury. "I'm good. I'm good," Landry said. "Just in this recovery process, this rehab process to make sure I can get back to my 100 percent self." The good news is that Landry won't require surgery on his hip in the offseason, and he should be fully healthy in 2020 under new head coach Kevin Stefanski. Cleveland's offense struggled to find consistency last season, but Landry was a consistent bright spot next to Odell Beckham Jr. He should once again be a rock-solid WR2 for owners in PPR leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee) was limited during practice Wednesday, Jan. 22.
Fantasy Spin: Kelce probably will be limited over the next two weeks but will be ready to play in Super Bowl LIV. He is a must-start fantasy option in all leagues as long as he is healthy.
Kansas City Chiefs DT Chris D. Jones (calf) was limited during practice Wednesday, Jan. 22. WR Mecole Hardman (back), CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder), DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (hand) and C Austin Reiter (wrist) fully participated in practice.