Bills turn back clock to help LeSean McCoy flourish

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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After two weeks, the Bills were on the brink of disaster. A house cleaning seemed to be an inevitability. The only thing left to be decided was when it would happen.

The first domino — offensive coordinator Greg Roman — fell less than 24 hours after Buffalo lost to the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football. Ryan put his time in Buffalo on the line with someone he trusted, Anthony Lynn, assistant head coach and running backs coach, and in turn shifted the focus to his running back, who should have been starring in a run-first approach.

Since then, the Bills have won four straight. LeSean McCoy‘s output nearly doubled in their first game with Lynn calling the plays, rushing for 110 yards and two touchdowns on just two additional carries (17) in a 33-18 win over Arizona. McCoy racked up another 150 yards two weeks later in a 30-19 win over Los Angeles. Continue reading

Nick Shook on fantasy football: Weird week leaves little in the way of suggested moves

By Nick Shook
Beacon Journal copy editor
Read full column on Ohio.com

What an odd week it was in the NFL.

The Philadelphia Eagles, left for dead by everyone including me, stunned us all by earning their first win of the season against a New York Jets team that looked surprisingly strong after two weeks.

Ryan Mathews, starting in place of injured and beleaguered DeMarco Murray, rushed for 108 yards and caught a touchdown pass. Sam Bradford was pedestrian but didn’t hurt the Eagles’ chances like in weeks prior. It was a weird win for the Eagles, epitomized by Brandon Marshall’s inexplicable attempt to lateral the ball after catching a pass with the Jets trailing 17-0.

That play alone explained Week 3. Continue reading

Nick Shook on fantasy football: Decisions to be made before opening kickoff

By Nick Shook
Beacon Journal copy editor
Read full column on Ohio.com

Sunday is upon us. I’m hoping you read your morning paper with your coffee, well before the 1 p.m. kickoffs, or online with a second tab open with your fantasy football lineup, because I’m about to drop some knowledge.

Setting your lineup is vital to fantasy football, for obvious reasons. But that doesn’t mean we can see the future. We can, however, use statistics to project who will perform well. Continue reading

Doug Marrone interviews for Bears’ head coaching job

By Nick Shook | NFL.com
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Doug Marrone took a gamble leaving his job as head coach of the Buffalo Bills a few weeks ago. On Tuesday, he continued along the path of determining his next destination.

The former head coach of the Buffalo Bills interviewed with the Chicago Bears for their vacant head coaching position on Tuesday, the team announced. Marrone was one of two interviews for the job on the day, with the other going to Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Continue reading

Dez Bryant leads explosive Cowboys to blowout win

By Nick Shook | NFL.com
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Sunday of Week 17 offered us an appetizing slate of extremely important matchups for more than a few road squads. Some prospered, and some faltered.

Carolina’s defense played the game of its collective life, terrorizing Matt Ryan, the Atlanta Falcons‘ offense and the tri-county area of Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett on Sunday. If I could give the award to the Panthers‘ defense I would, but I have to pick names, and it’s hard to decide between Roman Harper‘s 31-yard pick six, Tre Boston‘s 84-yard pick six and Thomas Davis‘ 33-yard fumble return.

San Diego, on the other hand, choked away the simplest of paths to a playoff berth, falling to the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium when all they needed to do was win, and they were in.

And then, of course, there’s the career performance put on by Geno Smith in Rex Ryan‘s final stand, a statistical masterpiece in Ryan’s swan song.

I can tell you can’t wait to scroll down. Let’s get to the stars of Sunday, the best away from home. Continue reading

Menelik Watson donates game check to 4-year-old girl

By Nick Shook | NFL.com
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Who says offensive linemen aren’t nice guys?

The Oakland Raiders — a franchise with a savage for a mascot and an aura of intimidation about it — feature one kind-hearted soul housed inside a gargantuan frame.

In a story first reported by Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, offensive tackle Menelik Watson donated his Week 16 game check to the family of a 4-year-old girl in need.

Continue reading

Arian Foster keeps rolling in Texans’ win over Titans

By Nick Shook | NFL.com
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Week 8 is the first in which we’ve come as close as possible to average combined performance for road teams. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible, either. Visiting squads won six of 13 games on Sunday, but even a few of those were ugly.

It took the Atlanta Falcons a major collapse and one final, crushing penalty to surrender a 21-point lead that at times seemed insurmountable for the Detroit Lions to notch Sunday’s first road win. Seattle needed a beautiful strike from Russell Wilson to Luke Willson to complete a 13-9 comeback win over thePanthers in Charlotte. It was a productive drive at just the right time, but that doesn’t erase the fact that Seattle had a horrid day offensively. I’m sorry, Wilson.

With that being said, we still had a few diamonds in the rough on Sunday. Here are your most outstanding away from home. Continue reading

Brian Hoyer, Browns historically great in road victory

By Nick Shook | NFL.com
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Well, we’ve reached a new low. Road teams struggled mightily in Week 5, going 3-10 on Sunday, and if it weren’t for a record-setting comeback, Alex Henery being the Detroit Lions‘ only option at kicker, and Dick LeBeau‘s defense confusing a rookie quarterback late in a close game, we might have had our first winless week for those away from home. Luckily, the traveling stars of the week made it a little bit respectable for road teams as a whole.

Whether it was room service food, the effect of a hostile crowd or uncomfortable beds (never at a Courtyard Marriott, of course), something threw off the road squads. But despite slim pickings, there were still some standout performers. Here are the week’s best.

Greatest on the Road …

Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns

Let’s be honest: Brian Hoyer may have sat behind Tom Brady for a portion of his career, but he isn’t Tom Brady, and probably never will be. But let’s take a quick look at Hoyer’s final stat line: 21-37, 292 yards, three touchdowns, one interception.

Pretty good numbers for a guy who has spent most of his career as a backup, right?

Continue reading