Here’s how the Vikings’ offense can get back on track without Norv Turner

After the shocking announcement that Norv Turner had tendered his resignation from the offensive coordinator role with the Minnesota Vikings, the team confirmed that tight ends coach Pat Shurmur would step in as the interim coordinator. Shurmur has experience with Sam Bradford and sub-par offensive lines. His job now is to get Minnesota’s offense looking competitive again.

The Vikings’ offensive line has been abysmal, particularly over the past couple of weeks. An inability to adequately protect Bradford has been a contributing factor in two consecutive losses. Through seven games, the offensive line has allowed 19 sacks on Bradford.

“It’s something I’d like to see go down … I don’t think it’s a good thing,” Bradford said Wednesday about the number of hits he’s taking. “I think we have to figure out a way to bring the number down.”

Shurmur has plenty of experience working with bad offensive lines, which will come in handy as he works to overcome that weakness with the Vikings’ offense.

His first stint as an offensive coordinator in the NFL was with the St. Louis Rams in 2009-10. In 2009, the Rams were working with Marc Bulger, Keith Null, and Kyle Boller under center. St. Louis allowed 44 sacks on that combination of quarterbacks.

It’s not easy to shift offensive philosophies midseason, so don’t expect to see wholesale change from the Vikings.

“Halfway through the season, I’m not sure you can completely change the offense and the terminology for everyone,” Bradford said Monday.

But they can make it a simpler offense with subtle changes that can have a big impact.

Going up-tempo should help keep defenses at bay, too. An up-tempo offense makes it difficult for defenses to get set and anticipate what the offense is going to do, and it’s something Shurmur did last season in Philadelphia with a Chip Kelly offense that relied on quick pace. The offensive concepts were pretty simple, but when they’re executed rapidly, they’re much more challenging to defend.

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The Panthers gave their owner a statue that would make Vladimir Putin proud

Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson turned 80 last Monday, forcing the team to confront the timeless question of what to get an old rich guy who already has everything (except a Super Bowl).

The answer: A 13-foot high statue of the man pointing a football ominously into the future and standing between two very muscular panthers.

According to the sculptor, the twin panthers represent both offense and defense as well as both North and South Carolina. They could also represent Richardson’s steadfast defense of NFL owners’ wallets during the 2011 lockout. There’s a lot of room for interpretation!

Looking at the statue it immediately conjures the socialist realism. Conceived under Stalin it rapidly became the preferred art movement of dictators everywhere. It’s a school of art aped by Vladimir Putin, flexing with tigers or riding horses without his shirt on. Its origins best identified with lifelike images of terrible men pointing at things.

Will Steph Curry and Kevin Durant cancel out each other’s MVP bids as so many pundits leaguewide presume?

Can any of the league’s best solo stars — Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Paul George, Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis, etc. — win enough games with their respective teams to make a run at a trophy that hasn’t been awarded to a player from a sub-50-win-squad since Moses Malone in 1981-82?

Is Kawhi Leonard really just going to keep getting better and better?

Shouldn’t everybody in this conversation be concerned that LeBron James, who just happened to uncork the first triple-double on Opening Night since Jason Kidd in 2006, says reclaiming the Podoloff is a goal of his this season?

We just gave you a lot of reasons to stay tuned in between now and April 12.

Big men, for the first time in a long time, will be loved and appreciated again.

Karl-Anthony Towns. Andre Drummond. Steven Adams. Kristaps Porzingis. Rudy Gobert. Myles Turner. Jusuf Nurkic. Joel Embiid.

And those are just the young (or younger) ones.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is the Jets’ starter again, so where does that leave Geno Smith?

The spat between Ryan Fitzpatrick and the New York Jets lasted for several months and at least appeared to show faith in Geno Smith’s ability to take over the reins as the team’s starting quarterback. But on Wednesday, one day before Jets players were set to report for training camp, the dispute ended with a one-year, $12 million deal for Fitzpatrick.

“Geno’s here at number two right now unless Bryce and Hack have some great gain, if they come along like gangbusters,” Bowles said. “Number two right now, it’s open.”

Smith is the only one of those four who was brought in by a different regime. Mike Maccagnan took over as the Jets general manager in January 2015, a day before Todd Bowles was named the new head coach. In their 18 months on the job, the Jets added Fitzpatrick and drafted both Petty and Hackenberg.

Neither Petty nor Hackenberg has ever thrown a pass in the NFL, so it’s tough to imagine the Jets parting ways before they have a chance to develop. And if they keep both of those players, as well as Fitzpatrick, that leaves the Jets with a choice: Keep four quarterbacks or part ways with someone.

San Francisco took steps to fix one of the guard spots by signing free agent Zane Beadles, and then traded up back into the first round to land Stanford guard Joshua Garnett. A line consisting of Joe Staley, Garnett, Daniel Kilgore, Beadles and Davis would be significantly better than last season’s line.

It’s unclear if Davis is in football shape and can regain his job, but for now, he is allowed by the NFL to play in 2016.

The deal is especially surprising after the Chiefs struggled to negotiate with Eric Berry during the offseason after placing the franchise tag on the safety. Berry has not reported to training camp and is expected to miss much of the preseason due to his frustration with the Chiefs, and now the team has even less cap space to work with.

Fisher, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, struggled with injuries early in his time with the Chiefs and had a poor rookie season, drawing early bust prognostications. But he steadily improved and has settled in as a solid left tackle for Kansas City. He especially shined during an AFC Wild Card game against the Houston Texans when he dominated a hobbled J.J. Watt, eventually smushing the injured defensive lineman and forcing him to leave the game.

The extension for Fisher is much more about the path that the Chiefs believe he is on than the performance he has provided in his first three NFL seasons. It could mean Berry’s time with the Chiefs is coming closer to inevitably ending, though.

And none of those reasons to part with Smith even mention how he has played on the field. In his 29 starts, the Jets are 11-18 while Smith has tossed 27 touchdowns and 35 interceptions. Fitzpatrick led the Jets to a 10-6 season in 2015 with 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

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Lions’ Glover Quin lives on 30 percent of take-home pay, uses rest to invest in future

TROY, Mich. — Glover Quin heard it from teammates early in his career. They saw how he lived, how they lived and chided him. “Stop being so cheap,” some of his teammates in Houston said. Quin ignored them.

He continued to drive the Yukon Denali he bought when he entered the NFL in 2009, a car he still owns. He stuck with his budget. He had a plan. It meant doing everything possible to make sure he had a long NFL career while using it to set up the rest of his life.

Quin saved 70 percent of his take-home pay each year and invested in well-known, publicly traded companies. He and his family lived on the remaining 30 percent, about $6,000 a month — $72,000 per year — the first three years of his career.

Not flashy, but effective. And it led to his monetary success.

Occasionally, Quin had a higher budget if he got what he called “unaccounted-for” money for doing an appearance that wasn’t planned. He and his wife would use that money on vacations and other potential luxuries they didn’t initially budget for. Other than that, it was always about the plan.

“I’ve always trusted in the plan and never really let other people sway me away from it,” said Quin, now a safety on the Detroit Lions. “I like to call it tunnel vision. It’s not good to have tunnel vision on the field, because you need to know what’s going on around you, but when you’re in life, especially in this field, you need to have tunnel vision, because you see so many guys around you buying cars, buying jewelry, doing this, spending money, talking about the money that they spend.

“And you’re sitting there like, ‘Man, I’m living off this much money every month, and this cat spending this much money every day.'”

Quin majored in business at the University of New Mexico. He understood the power of investing and creating generational wealth. The 70/30 save-spend strategy brought to him by his financial advisor, Humble Lukanga, made sense.

The two met sitting next to each other in a 7 a.m. business ethics class at New Mexico. Quin eventually hired Lukanga, who has many other NFL clients, and Quin bought into the save-spend strategy immediately and carried it through to now, even with a lucrative second NFL contract.

“That 30 percent just gets a little bit bigger,” Lukanga said. “You have a little bit more breathing room, but the discipline is the same. If you can’t save on your first contract, you’re probably not going to save on your second contract. So the key is to develop. First, you form habits, and then habits form you.”

Quin entered the league wanting to build his wealth, although he wasn’t initially thinking about investments. After signing a free-agent deal in Detroit in 2013, Quin decided to venture into a more risky investment world — private equity, using 10 to 20 percent of his wealth to fund private, up-and-coming businesses.

Think “Shark Tank” with a specific plan.

“We like companies that we feel can change the world,” Quin said. “That can make the world a better place, so that’s one thing we look at as well: Can this company change the world?

“If we feel that way and we believe in the company and we believe in the direction that they are going and the people that are behind it, I feel a lot more comfortable.”

So far, the strategy has worked. Quin and Lukanga estimate a five-year projection where his private portfolio could match the money he has made in the NFL. When his contract expires after the 2017 season, Quin will have earned more than $21 million, before taxes, in his eight-year career.

Quin understands the risk of private equity investment, a reason he diversifies his dollars in multiple companies. In the offseason, he’ll sometimes study two or three deals per month, starting by reading it over to see if it hits certain metrics he has for investments.

If those things happen, he talks with Lukanga and does more research. He’ll often chat with his wife, asking her opinion on a potential product without divulging there could be an investment opportunity.

Quin has to believe in the product and that the company fits his “change and better the world” philosophy. It is part of what attracted him to three of his companies: Health Warrior, a company that makes food out of chia; pawTree, a customized pet nutrition company; and PeerWell, an app that helps people prehab before joint replacement surgery to aid in their post-surgery recovery.

Quin is being smart with his private equity approach. He knows some of his investments will fail. If he hits on an average number of deals, he believes he has put himself in good shape. Some of the failed deals end up as a successful return on investment because of knowledge gained.

He might have made his money in the short-term NFL world, but he’s in the investment game for the long haul. Because in business, that’s often how you win, and that, as always, is Quin’s plan.

“To sit here and say I’ve played for eight years and made this much money, I was in a couple investments for five years and kind of made the same amount of money,” Quin said. “It’s kind of like having a double NFL career, you know.

“It’s one of those things that’s very exciting. Hopefully, everything continues to work out great and I can be one of those stories that they say, ‘You know what, I probably made more money investing than I made playing football.'”

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Jeremy Mincey retires after 9 seasons in the NFL

Defensive end Jeremy Mincey is hanging up after nine seasons in the NFL. The 32-year-old announced his retirement on with a lengthy post on Instagram, where he thanked his fans, former teams and coaches.

The 23-year-old running back explained that his weight gain was due to poor eating habits during his fiancée’s pregnancy.

The decision to waive Williams is a change of heart for Ryan, who was asked earlier in August if the running back’s roster spot was in jeopardy.

“We’re not going to give up on Karlos Williams. I can tell you that,” Ryan assured reporters, via Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com.

Williams played safety at Florida State before moving to running back for the Seminoles as a junior in 2013. He bulldozed his way to 11 touchdowns in each of his junior and senior seasons.

In the course of the League’s investigation, our investigators became aware that his wife had filed a statement with the county court alleging previous altercations between the spouses. However, despite multiple attempts to speak with her about this incident and her previous statements, she declined to speak with us. We understand that there are many reasons that might have affected her decision not to speak with us, but we were limited in our ability to investigate these allegations.

Over the course of the 10-month investigation, we also made numerous requests—as late as this spring—to local law enforcement officers for information on the case and previous allegations. They declined those requests for information.

As a result of these factors, our investigators had insufficient information to corroborate prior allegations. In addition, no criminal charges were brought forward regarding the incident in question or prior allegations. The NFL therefore made a decision based on the evidentiary findings around this one incident as provided to us by the District Attorney.

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Jets WR Brandon Marshall injured, but returned to the game almost immediately

New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall sustained what appeared to be a knee injury in the second quarter of Thursday Night Football against the Buffalo Bills. He went to the locker room for further examination, but almost immediately returned to the game.

Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore was flagged for a face mask on the tackle that led to Marshall’s injury. There is a reason grabbing the face mask is illegal. These tackles carry a higher risk of injury for players.

The Jets seemed to get off to a slow start, but New York’s methodical approach and consistency won the game for them.

Taylor took an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit, which was hard enough to justify concerns about a concussion.

He objected to being removed from the game and had to be escorted off of the field by head official Ed Hochuli.

After he was evaluated for a concussion on the sideline, Taylor was cleared to return to the game. After the game, Bills head coach Rex Ryan said he “understands” the referee’s decision to remove Taylor from the game, according to ESPN’s Mike Rodak.

Jon Dorenbos finishes third on America’s Got Talent. Eagles long snapper wowed the nation.

Russell Wilson was a full-go at practice this week. Good news for the Seahawks, their quarterback’s ankle injury doesn’t seem to be hobbling him.
Doug Pederson is no Andy Reid, and that might be a good thing. Pederson showed us a lot in his first game.

According to the NFL bylaws, celebratory actions that are “sexually suggestive or can otherwise be construed as being in poor taste” fall under the banner of “unsportsmanlike conduct.” Brown’s thrusting would appear to fall into that category.

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Chip Kelly shut down a columnist who tried to condemn Colin Kaepernick

You’ll never believe this, but crusty columnist Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat does not like that Colin Kaepernick is talking about race and oppression in America when he could be talking about very important things like beating the Los Angeles Rams. He’s also the same guy who once admonished Kaepernick for such egregious offenses as wearing “his cap backwards and at an angle.” Fortunately, 49ers head coach Chip Kelly put the man in his place during Thursday’s press conference.

“How do you feel when he takes over the locker room,” asked the guy who tried to take over the press conference.

Kaepernick didn’t try to take over the locker room, as Kelly points out. He answered questions Cohn’s colleagues were asking about his decision to take a knee during the national anthem protesting racial injustice and inequality in America. The coach also reminded Cohn of that central fact, shutting him down faster than Kelly’s offense can run a play even on its best day.

After the game, Cutler was wearing a cast on his right hand and told reporters he was concerned about the injury, particularly since he has injured this thumb in the past.

“I’m concerned. You know, as a quarterback, you kind of need your right thumb,” Cutler said after the game. “I think I was 12 or 11 when I had surgery on this thumb, so we’ll see what it is.”

Prior to injury, Cutler had completed 12 of 17 passes for 157 yards and one interception. Cutler said after the game that the thumb injury contributed to the interception.

“Just my strength in (the thumb), I couldn’t really grip the ball,” Cutler said. “So that was obviously a big issue for me.”

Cutler said the interception made him aware that he was not physically able to finish the game.

“I knew that I was putting the team, especially the offense, in jeopardy at that point,” Cutler said. “So, I had to talk to Rags and get (Brian) Hoyer in there and then I knew my day was done.”

Hoyer replaced Cutler, finishing the day with 78 yards and no touchdowns.

“More videos have come out of guys getting killed, and I think people are still missing the point,” Sherman said. “The reason these guys are kneeling, the reason we’re locking arms is to bring people together to make people aware that this is not right. It’s not right for people to get killed in the street.”

Packers’ injury situation not as simple as ‘give me another RB, CB’

Mike McCarthy would like another running back before the Green Bay Packers have to play Thursday night against the Chicago Bears.

But it’s not as simple as promoting Don Jackson from the practice squad or signing someone off the street.

So it’s entirely possibly he might have to make do with the same setup he had in Sunday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys, when Eddie Lacy – on a tender left ankle – played as much as he could and got moments of rest when the Packers used their “Big Five” package (an empty-backfield, five-receiver set) for the first time all season and also sprinkled in Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery as makeshift backs.

In response, the Packers did precious little on Sunday to prove McGinn wrong. McCarthy, who has steered the Packers disastrously wrong at times in years past with conservative decision-making, chose to kick two early field goals on fourth-and-short against a dynamic Cowboys offense to make the score 7-6. The Packers subsequently failed to score on their next five possessions, including one in which McCarthy chose to try to convert a fourth-and-5. By the time the Packers scored a touchdown, the Cowboys were up 27-9 with seven minutes to go.

Smith replaced Fitzpatrick with 8:20 remaining in the game and the Jets trailing 28-3 — aka garbage time. Bowles should have made the move at halftime, if only to shake up the mojo, but this much we know about Bowles: He doesn’t have a quick hook. Smith completed a few passes against soft coverage, but he also joined the pick party, throwing an interception on his first series. He finished 4-of-6 for 31 yards.

Afterward, Bowles channeled his inner Joe Girardi, using a baseball analogy to describe his quarterback situation. Smith was simply a relief pitcher, replacing the starter, Bowles said.

The Packers also are in a difficult spot at cornerback, where they could be without their top three on the depth chart – Sam Shields (concussion), Damarious Randall (groin) and Quinten Rollins (groin).

“It’s never, ‘Give me another running back,’ or ‘Give me another corner,’” McCarthy said Monday. “Because it’s a long year. You have 53 [on the roster], plus you’re counting practice-squad guys. That is the chess match right there. If you’re talking about chess match in the game of football, it’s managing your roster.”

Lacy’s status could impact that, too. McCarthy couldn’t say whether Lacy’s ankle was any worse after his 17-carry, 65-yard performance against the Cowboys. Lacy was still undergoing tests on Monday, McCarthy said. He also confirmed that James Starks had knee surgery on Sunday, which rules him out again this week.