NFL Nation: Kellen Winslow

NEW YORK -- The beleaguered Kellen Winslow finally got some good news. He hopes.

The New York Jets' tight end, found in possession of synthetic marijuana in November near the team's facility in Florham Park, N.J., won't be suspended under the NFL's substance-abuse policy, according to NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith.

Smith, speaking to reporters Thursday at a news conference in the Super Bowl XLVIII media headquarters, said synthetic marijuana isn't on the banned list of substances.

"Our drug policy is one that has strict and well-defined drugs that are banned," Smith said, via "If they are not on the list, they can't serve as the basis for discipline."

Police discovered synthetic marijuana from various manufacturers in Winslow's vehicle, according to records. He told police the NFL doesn't test for it and he buys it on the Internet and at gas stations. The story took an embarrassing turn when it recently was revealed that Winslow was masturbating in his car, according to a witness, who called police. That's when they found the substance.

Winslow was suspended four games last season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. He will be a free agent in March and is not expected to return to the Jets.

Greg Schiano proud of culture change

December, 30, 2013
TAMPA, Fla. -- His 11-21 record over two seasons got Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano fired. But Schiano said Monday that he's proud of how he changed the culture of the franchise.

"This is what Buccaneer football is supposed to be," Schiano said. "That was one of my goals -- to return it to that kind of feel, that kind of culture. And I believe it is. I believe that's a big undertaking and one that has moved very, very well. But I can't impress this enough. My responsibility is to win football games in the National Football League, so we didn't win enough games."

Schiano took a beating for his coaching, but let's give the man some credit for changing a franchise for the better in some ways. When Schiano came in, the locker room predecessor Raheem Morris left behind was out of control. Schiano proceeded to get rid of Kellen Winslow, LeGarrette Blount and Aqib Talib. All three were talented, but all three were trouble.

Schiano also unloaded Josh Freeman, who once was regarded as a potential franchise quarterback. Freeman started the first three games of the season before being benched in favor of rookie Mike Glennon. Freeman, who was late to or missed several team events, eventually was cut.

"That whole situation is a very, very tough situation," Schiano said. "I don't think there was any good way that was going to work unless it went the way that we thought it might go. That's being very productive. When it didn't, that's a tough situation. We did make decisions collaboratively as a group, especially big decisions. Myself, Mark Dominik and our ownership. One part of the job I really enjoyed was the open conversation and discussions. But then once a decision is made, whether I agree, disagree or somewhere in between, once a decision is made as an organization, I'm going to execute that like it's my own decision."

Schiano said he thinks Glennon has a bright future in the NFL.

"I think we did get it right," Schiano said. "We just got it right late. I think this guy is going to be very good."

Schiano also said he thinks whoever takes over the Bucs will inherit a good situation.

"Did I think we had an opportunity to move this forward? I still do," Schiano said. "I think that whoever takes over in this job is taking over a good situation now, a real good situation. Had I been coming back next year, I'd be excited about the potential of this team and where we're headed. But I'm not."

Schiano's name has been included in speculation about a possible opening at Penn State. But Schiano, who had three years remaining on his contract, said he's not sure what his future holds.

"I know this, I'll lean on my wife and my kids, my family and on my faith and kind of figure out where the next stop is for us," Schiano said.

Greg Schiano never fit with Buccaneers

December, 30, 2013

TAMPA, Fla. -- In the final analysis, Greg Schiano was fired as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the exact same reason he was hired.

He was an unbending disciplinarian who was never going to be loved by his players. He was as opposite as you can get from his predecessor, Raheem Morris, and that's why the Glazer family, which owns the team, lured Schiano away from Rutgers less than two years ago.

With three more seasons left on his contract, the Glazers showed Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik the door on Monday. The Bucs went 11-21 in Schiano's two seasons. The on-field results weren't flattering, but the off-field stuff was even more of a calamity.

Quite simply, the Glazers made a big mistake when they hired Schiano. There was no question Morris had to go and the Bucs needed to run a tighter ship. But the Bucs went overboard and brought in a steel barge that ended up sinking very quickly.

The Bucs went from one extreme to another instead of settling for something in the middle. They went with a coach who operated like he still was in college. Schiano came in and took control of everything, from the way practices were structured to the thermostat setting at One Buccaneer Place.

I had no problem with him running off Aqib Talib, LeGarrette Blount and Kellen Winslow. Those three were talented, but more trouble than they were worth. Their departures sent a message to the rest of the team that nobody was sacred. Had it ended there, Schiano might have been all right.

But it didn't end there. Schiano went too far in trying to control everything and everyone in the building, and it backfired on him. The strongest example came in the person of Josh Freeman, who once was viewed as the franchise quarterback.

There are two sides to every story, and Freeman had his flaws -- including an inability to find a functioning alarm clock -- but I think this situation could have been handled a lot differently.

Freeman was talented and a good guy. But he was a unique personality. He was laid back and cool, two traits that Schiano doesn't prefer in a quarterback. So Freeman and Schiano clashed.

And they didn't just clash. They did it in spectacular fashion. As Freeman went from being the franchise quarterback to being released, bombshells came from both sides. The ugliest point came when it was reported that Freeman was in the league's drug-testing program.

Freeman's camp alleged that Schiano was the one who leaked that sensitive information. Schiano firmly denied he had any involvement. But the damage was done.

Even if it's not accurate, there's a point where perception becomes reality. If you were a player in Tampa Bay's locker room, you suddenly got the impression that even your confidential records could become public.

The soap-opera atmosphere of the past few months was more than a little ironic. Schiano was supposed to be the guy who brought much-needed order to the franchise. Instead, he went overboard on matters of control -- and that's why things spun out of control.
It’s come to this with the Cleveland Browns as they stagger to the finish line of another dreary season: Kellen Winslow made news in Cleveland with something he said.

As if that’s never happened before.

“Winslow, he plays for the Jets, don’t he?” said Willis McGahee, a former teammate of Winslow’s at the University of Miami.

He does, and he told that he doesn’t believe anyone in the league can cover him. Then he added: “Who’s going to guard me over there? Nobody.”

“It’s funny,” cornerback Joe Haden said with a smile. “What would you expect him to say? Is he gonna say, ‘Yeah those dudes are gonna cover me.’ I don’t know him that well, but hearing about his personality, that sounds like the kind of thing he’s going to say.”

Cleveland folks are used to Winslow, who is apt to say almost anything about his abilities.

“He’s thought that for years,” said coach Rob Chudzinski, who coached Winslow in Cleveland and Miami. “That’s the confidence that you want football players to have.”

The two guys who will see the most of Winslow also treated it with a grain of (Cargill) salt.

“I saw it,” safety T.J. Ward said. “It’s irrelevant. Your play speaks.”

Calvin Johnson said that, it’s different,” safety Tashaun Gipson said. “No, in all respect .... we’re already going in there [wanting to] showcase our dominance. He can say what he wants to say. He’s still got to go out there and perform. What he does Sunday, I guess, will tell it all.”

Gipson said some players joked about the remarks during practice, but it was never a focal point of discussion. Ward made reference to Winslow’s status as an aging veteran.

“He’s a decent tight end,” Ward said. “He was good in his heyday. He’s a little past his prime, but he’s still a good tight end.”

Ward called it an interesting league with a lot of characters, but both Ward and Gipson said they feel the same way that Winslow does, except in reverse. They both feel they can cover anybody.

“Absolutely, and I respect that he feels that way,” Gipson said. “You have to feel that way.”

“You should have that confidence that your’e unstoppable,” Ward said. “Just like I have that confidence that I can stop anybody. If you didn’t have that confidence, you wouldn’t be a player in this league. You wouldn’t be here. I don’t think there was any shots fired. It was just how he felt. You have to respect it, but at the same time you got to go out there and play football.”

Upon Further Review: Jets Week 14

December, 9, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- An examination of the four hottest issues from the New York Jets' 37-27 win over the Oakland Raiders:

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith
AP Photo/Kathy WillensThe Jets are 4-0 when Geno Smith runs for a TD, as he did Sunday.
1. They ain't dead yet: Sunday could've been a really, really big day for the Jets, but the two teams they're chasing for the second AFC wild-card spot -- the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins -- squeezed out late, come-from-behind victories. That leaves the Jets (6-7) one game behind them, but it's really two games because they lost to both teams, meaning they'd lose a head-to-head tiebreaker. They still have a game with the Dolphins, in the season finale, but the Jets might be eliminated by then. But, hey, it's Week 15 and they're still alive. Hear that, Kellen Winslow?

2. Run, Geno, run: Geno Smith is "definitely known as just trying to be a gunslinger," fellow quarterback David Garrard said, but the rookie has the ability to make plays outside the pocket. He showed it against the Raiders, rushing for 50 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown on a read-option play. What took so long? Smith has been reluctant to embrace the idea of becoming a running quarterback, but he needs to understand he can spark the offense with his athleticism. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg also did a better job of calling designed runs and rollouts, allowing Smith to throw on the run. If you have a weapon, use it. The Jets are 4-0 when Smith scores a rushing touchdown.

3. Disappearing defense: Rex Ryan's defense usually gets stronger late in the season, but this particular unit is backsliding. The Jets allowed a fourth-string running back -- Marcel Reece, who actually plays fullback -- to rush for 123 yards. Are you kidding? In the past two games, their once-feared run defense has allowed 275 yards. Part of the reason is because they're playing fewer eight-man boxes -- they need a second safety to help in pass coverage -- but they're also missing far too many tackles. Frankly, the tackling has been atrocious. They got away with it against the bad team like the Raiders, but they have no shot next week against the Carolina Panthers if they allow short gains to turn into big plays.

4. Special K's: Jeremy Kerley's return to the lineup sparked the slumping offense, which scored more points than it did in the previous three games combined. Another "K" player, Kellen Winslow, also provided a boost. For a change, Winslow played a significant role in the passing game, finishing with three catches for 61 yards. In recent weeks, he had become after afterthought, partly because of his chronic knee. But it also seemed like the coaching staff had phased him out. Well, he was phased in against the Raiders. Winslow knows how to get open, a big help to a rookie quarterback. He could be a key down the stretch.

Halftime Report: Jets up 20-3

December, 8, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Jets, up 20-3 at halftime, managed more first-half offense than they've had in a month with an offensive touchdown, a defensive touchdown and two field goals against the visiting Oakland Raiders.

The last time the Jets scored this many points in a first half was Week 9 against the Saints.

That’s not to say it’s been pretty. Jets quarterback Geno Smith has benefitted from the return of WR Jeremy Kerley, who scored with 3:17 left in the first quarter with a 25-yard reception, while the Raiders struggled to figure out who they were going to use at quarterback.

Best defense is offense: Ed Reed had an interception in the second half to give the Jets the ball at Oakland’s 4 yard line, and the Jets had to settle for a field goal after Santonio Holmes dropped a third-down pass in the end zone. Jets safety Antonio Allen blocked a punt for a touchdown with 3:55 left in the second quarter, giving the Jets a 20-3 lead.

Back after this: The Raiders had their top three running backs on the inactive list. That meant they used FB Marcel Reece to run the ball, and substituted quarterback Matt McGloin with backup Terrelle Pryor, who ran a few option plays en route to a field goal before getting swapped back out for McGloin after an interception.

More time for Kerley: The Jets offense has been led by Kerley, with 3 catches for 35 yards and a touchdown, and TE Kellen Winslow Jr. and Holmes, who both have 45 yards on 2 catches at the half. All three are playing more snaps than they have in recent weeks, with Winslow in on 10 plays, Holmes on 21 and Kerley in on 14. There may be more time to go around since Stephen Hill was declared inactive before the game.

Ryan: Cleaning up Winslow's comments

December, 4, 2013
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – It was a tempest in the Twitter pot. Jets tight end Kellen Winslow tweeted Donte' Stallworth with his predictions for the AFC Championship Game, and the Jets weren’t one of the teams.

So was Winslow bailing on the Jets?

Later, Winslow deleted the tweet and posted a new one: “Lol man twitter is very dangerous! I'm a fan of the game also. Thought we were out of it mathematically but we still got life so forgive me.”

Winslow declined interview requests in the locker room, but everyone asked about it from Jets coach Rex Ryan to Stallworth -- who sent out a request for title predictions to all his followers -- downplayed the notion that Winslow had crossed a line.

"Kellen's an honest guy,” Stallworth said in an email. “Will that stop him from playing his butt off? Not him, I've played with this guy in Cleveland. He's a competitor and loves the game."

What did bother Ryan was Winslow’s other comment, the one about bad practices that translated into bad games.

“I’ve got to clean up his comments, but other than that he’s a pretty dependable guy,” Ryan said.

Winslow has questioned why he isn’t getting more reps in games, something he isn’t alone in asking about. Ryan addressed that concern by having Winslow sit out of practice on Wednesday this week instead of his usual Thursday.

“Part of that is that there is more of a pass emphasis in certain areas, that’s why I chose to practice him on Thursday,” Ryan said.

So the bottom line appears to be that Ryan is looking to use a quieter Winslow a little more.

Do you believe in miracles? Not Winslow

December, 4, 2013
After Sunday's loss to the Miami Dolphins, tight end Kellen Winslow basically said the New York Jets are out of playoff contention. On Monday night, he took it a step further, tweeting his predictions for the AFC and NFC championships.

In a Twitter reply to free-agent wide receiver Donte Stallworth, Winslow said, "I got the pats vs broncos in AFC championship game and Panthers vs Seahawks in NFC championship," as first noted by Newsday.

The Jets (5-7) don't have the look of a playoff team, having lost three straight, but they're still mathematically alive. In fact, they're only one game behind the Baltimore Ravens (6-6) and Miami Dolphins (6-6) for the final wild-card spot, although both teams currently hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over them.

So, yes, it looks bleak, but it ain't over until it's over. Winslow's tweet likely won't sit well with his teammates or Rex Ryan, who is fighting for his job. Winslow has since deleted the tweet, but it remains on Stallworth's timeline.

On Sunday, Winslow said the Jets are all but eliminated.

"We've lost three straight, so, obviously [that's] not good," he said. "But we'll go down swinging. We have to go to work. This is our job. It's not like the season is over. It might be record-wise, but it's still football. We still love it."

W2W4: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills

November, 15, 2013
It would be so typical of the New York Jets to lose this game, wouldn't it?

They're well-rested after the bye week and healthier than they've been in more than a month, facing the struggling Buffalo Bills (3-7), losers of three straight. Under Rex Ryan, the Jets have owned the Bills, having won seven of nine meetings.

With so much in their favor, the Jets should improve to 6-4 with a workmanlike victory, but we all know that's not in this team's DNA -- not yet, anyway. After upsetting the New Orleans Saints, they became only the second team in NFL history to alternate wins and losses through their first nine games, joining the 2005 New England Patriots. If they lose in Orchard Park, they'd be the first to do it through 10 games, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

This is their best chance to break the trend, winning two in a row.

"I think it’s time for us to start doing that," quarterback Geno Smith said.

[+] EnlargeEd Reed
William Perlman/The Star-Ledger vis USA TODAY SportsThe Jets will look to use newly acquired safety Ed Reed in their Week 11 game at Buffalo.
This game will tell us a lot about the Jets. Kickoff is 1 p.m. ET at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Here are the top storylines:

1. Raising the bar: The perception of the Jets has changed since the win against New Orleans. For two weeks they've been listening to playoff talk, people telling them how they're one of the biggest surprises of the season. On Thursday, they signed future Hall-of-Fame safety Ed Reed, a message from management that the future is now. This is heady stuff for the young Jets, who have 10 first- and second-year players in the starting lineup. They've proven they can handle failure, rebounding from some tough losses, but the mark of a good team is the ability to handle success. Can the Jets do it?

2. Fireman Ed: Despite only two days of practice, Reed is expected to make his Jets' debut. The coaches have been cagey about his role, but if the Bills play their usual spread offense, there should be plenty of opportunities for Reed to be on the field. They signed him, in large part, to solve the problems against the long ball. Thing is, the Bills operate a dink-and-dunk passing attack, especially with rookie EJ Manuel at quarterback. He relies too much on his checkdowns, meaning there might not be a lot of ball-hawking chances for Reed in the deep middle. The Bills will have problems throwing the ball, especially with their starting receivers -- Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods -- out with injuries.

3. The Reinforcements: Unless WR Santonio Holmes aggravates his hamstring injury walking off the team plane -- hey, you never know with him -- he'll be in the lineup for the first time in six games. TE Kellen Winslow will be back, too, having served his four-game suspension. TE Jeff Cumberland also is expected to return from a concussion. WR Jeremy Kerley (elbow) is out, but all things considered, the Jets' offense is in pretty good shape. In theory, that should mean a balanced attack. The problem could be chemistry -- or lack thereof, as Smith hasn't had much practice time with Holmes and Winslow.

The Bills are healthier, too, especially in the secondary. In the Week 3 meeting, they played without ballhawking S Jairus Byrd and CB Stephon Gilmore. They're both back, as is CB Leodis McKelvin, who was injured early in the first game. It was "a little chaotic" on the back end, according to S Jim Leonhard. Sticking with man-to-man coverage despite a secondary filled with second- and third-stringers, the Bills were torched by Smith, who passed for a season-high 331 yards.

4. The Rookies: Some day, Smith versus Manuel might be a marquee quarterback matchup. But not now. The two rookies, the highest-drafted passers last spring, have experienced a serious case of NFL growing pains.

Smith is 1-3 on the road and he has only one touchdown pass and five interceptions in his last four games. The Jets have been trending toward the running game in recent weeks. In fact, Smith attempted only five passes longer than 10 yards in the last two games; he averaged 12 such passes per game over the first seven, per ESPN Stats & Information. Don't expect them to veer too far from the recent approach even though Smith's supporting cast is almost whole. When he throws, it could be off play-action, as the Jets hope to exploit Mike Pettine's aggressive defense. Manuel, who returned last week from a knee injury, was a rusty mess against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was rattled by the Jets' pass rush in Week 3, resulting in eight sacks.

5. The key to victory: Without their starting receivers, the Bills have to rely on their running game, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. That plays to the Jets' strength, as they're allowing only 3.1 yards per attempt -- best in the league. Only one team has rushed for more than 100 yards against them -- the Bills, who ran for 120, including 59 on a fluke run by Jackson. The Jets thought he was down and let up, allowing him to escape a pile-up. The front seven takes a lot of pride in the run defense and it's looking for some payback.

Injury report: Jets are looking healthy

November, 13, 2013
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Just a few days from an important divisional showdown with Buffalo, the New York Jets appear healthy, and could be welcoming back a few important players.

Receiver Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring) was limited on Wednesday but appears on track to return after missing the past five games with his hamstring issue.

"I feel pretty good about him playing," Jets coach Rex Ryan said.

Tight end Jeff Cumberland (concussion) and safety Antonio Allen (concussion) both had full practices, while tight end Kellen Winslow (knee) was limited. Winslow is eligible to play in his first game since being suspended for four games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Receiver Jeremy Kerley (elbow) did not practice, but he's expected to be out for several weeks.

For the Bills, receivers Steve Johnson (groin) and Robert Woods (ankle) did not practice.

Here's the full report:


Did not practice
DE Leger Douzable (illness)
WR Jeremy Kerley (elbow)
LB Garrett McIntyre (knee)

Limited practice
DT Kenrick Ellis (back)
RB Alex Green (hamstring)
WR Stephen Hill (foot/knee)
WR Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring)
TE Kellen Winslow (knee)

Full practice
S Antonio Allen (concussion)
G Willie Colon (calf)
WR Josh Cribbs (knee)
CB Antonio Cromartie (hip)
TE Jeff Cumberland (concussion)
RB Chris Ivory (knee)
LB Calvin Pace (hip)
WR Greg Salas (knee)
TE Zach Sudfeld (knee)
CB Darrin Walls (shoulder)


Did not practice
WR Stevie Johnson (groin)
S Da'Norris Searcy (hamstring)
DT Kyle Williams (Achilles)
WR Robert Woods (ankle)

From glory to pink slip in a few minutes

November, 12, 2013
The NFL is a week-to-week business. On some levels, it's also day-to-day, hour-to-hour and minute-to-minute.

Let's consider the story of Rontez Miles, a rookie safety.

On Monday, I talked to Miles about his NFL debut nine days ago against the New Orleans Saints. Miles, who spent the first eight games on the New York Jets' practice squad, called it "the best moment of my life." He played 15 snaps on special teams, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. He grew up in a Western Pennsylvania ghetto, attended Division II California (Pa.) and wasn't drafted -- so it has been a tough dream to chase.

"I was actually crying during the national anthem," Miles said. "It was definitely an emotional experience."

He said he was looking forward to creating a niche for himself on special teams. Our conversation occurred around 3:45 p.m.

At 4:02, the Jets tweeted the news that Miles had been waived to make room for tight end Kellen Winslow, who was activated to the 53-man roster after a four-game suspension.

Chances are, Miles will return to the Jets' practice squad, assuming he clears waivers, but he had to be blindsided by the news.

Before receiving the official word, he spoke excitedly about how his promotion had lifted the spirits of his incarcerated half-brother, Vondre Griffin, who is serving four to 10 years after recently accepting a plea deal, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Griffin, 24, was originally charged with murder, stemming from the 2012 shooting death of a man in McKeesport, Pa., but he agreed in September to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter.

Griffin watched the Jets-Saints game on TV in jail, according to Miles.

"He was screaming out loud, 'My brother is active, my brother is active,'" Miles said, smiling.

A few minutes after recounting the story, he was out of a job.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Tight end Kellen Winslow, who practiced Monday for the first time in more than a month, acknowledged he was unhappy with his playing time before his four-game suspension took effect. Winslow said he was "weeded out" of the game plan in the Week 5 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

"Stuff goes on behind the scenes that ... look, they knew I was going to get suspended," Winslow said of the New York Jets. "Sometimes you just kind of get weeded out or whatever. I knew I wasn't going to take the appeal if I got suspended. My knee was hurting, I'm weeded out of the game plan ... it was just a frustrating time."

Because the Jets knew of the pending suspension, they chose to give fellow tight end Jeff Cumberland a bigger role in that particular game plan, according to Winslow.

Winslow's chronic knee pain flared up in the days leading up to the Monday night game in Atlanta, causing him to miss four practices that week. He caught a 1-yard touchdown pass in the game, but he played only 19 snaps -- the first time he played fewer snaps than Cumberland. Afterward, Winslow declined an interview, saying it wouldn't be a smart move to speak to reporters.

Four days later, the suspension became public.

Winslow said he feels well-rested and fresh after spending five weeks at his home in California. He returned to the Jets briefly last week, but the team received a six-day break for the bye week, so he returned to the West Coast.

"I went home to San Diego and cycled a little bit and ate Mexican food," said Winslow, a cycling enthusiast.

For what it's worth, Winslow said he still hasn't been notified by the NFL Players' Association as to which performance-enhancing substance caused his positive test. He claimed it may have been an allergy medication. He said his goal is to help the team any way possible.

"He was missed," quarterback Geno Smith said.

Buccaneers reach a new low point

November, 3, 2013
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers played their best football game of the season Sunday.

Naturally, they still lost. Even die-hard Bucs fans could see this one coming from 3,000 miles away.

The Bucs lost 27-24 in overtime to the Seattle Seahawks. And this wasn’t anything close to a moral victory. Instead, it was a morale loss. The Bucs are 0-8 and this one was far worse than the previous seven put together.

As the Bucs fly back across the continent Sunday night, do you think morale could be any lower?

I don’t. The Bucs led 21-0 at one point in the first half and 24-7 early in the third quarter. They could have (temporarily) silenced all of their critics by beating one of the NFL’s best teams in one of the league’s toughest road stadiums. Fans even would have backed off coach Greg Schiano -- until his next loss.

[+] EnlargeTampa Bay's Greg Schiano
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY SportsWould the Glazer family think about replacing Greg Schiano before the Bucanneers' Monday night game against the Dolphins?
But the Bucs blew that big lead in disastrous fashion and you have to wonder if ownership is thinking about replacing Schiano with an interim coach.

Perhaps you’ve noted that I’ve yet to call for Schiano’s firing. My logic has been two-fold. First, going with an interim coach never solves anything. Second, the general rule of thumb is that you don’t pull the plug until the players stop playing hard for the coach.

The effort still was there Sunday and that’s something that should be considered. But I’m starting to wonder if the Glazer family, which owns the team, might go ahead and fire Schiano at the midpoint of his second NFL season.

It wouldn’t even be a small surprise at this point. Schiano has lost 13 of his past 14 games. Those are the kind of embarrassing numbers that got predecessor Raheem Morris fired. And, before you go saying the Glazers will stick with Schiano because he has three years remaining on his contract, think about something else.

The Glazers don’t like losing money. But, more importantly, they care deeply about how they and the Bucs are perceived. More than anything, the Glazers hate to be embarrassed.

Schiano was brought in to do two things. First, he was supposed to change the culture of a locker room that had run amok under Morris. He accomplished that by getting rid of the likes of Aqib Talib, Kellen Winslow and LeGarrette Blount. Give Schiano credit for filling the locker room with Boy Scouts (and former Rutgers players).

But the other thing Schiano was hired to do was win. He clearly hasn’t done that. Just like he did in some early-season close losses, Schiano got conservative against Seattle. His staff also didn’t seem to make any successful halftime adjustments.

Could things really get worse if the Bucs fired Schiano and elevated special teams coach Dave Wannstedt to interim coach? Probably not. But things probably couldn’t get much worse.

The Bucs hit their lowest point in Seattle. They squandered a chance for Schiano to say, “Hey, look at what my system can do if it’s run right."

But that didn’t happen and the Glazers might be at a point where they need to make a big choice. Remember what I said about them not liking being embarrassed. I can’t emphasize that enough.

The next game on the schedule is a Monday night contest (Nov. 11) against the Miami Dolphins. It will be on national television in a sold-out stadium that rarely sells out.

The Glazers have to decide what’s worse -- going the interim route or run the risk of letting a national audience see Schiano get booed out of Raymond James Stadium.

A few thoughts on TE Kellen Winslow's being suspended four games without pay for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances:

1. Impact on the offense: Winslow's absence will hurt the passing game. Not only is he the team's leading receiver (17 catches), but the overall offense functions better when he's on the field. Facts are facts: With Winslow in the game as the only tight end, the Jets have passed 79 times for 516 yards -- 6.53 yards per play. With Jeff Cumberland as the only tight end, the Jets have passed 35 times for 198 yards -- a 5.66 average. Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg hasn't used a lot of two-TE sets with Winslow and Cumberland. When he has, it hasn't been too productive -- 33 pass plays for 141 yards, a 4.27 average.

2. Depth chart: This will mean a bigger role for Cumberland, who has appeared in 51 percent of the offensive snaps. (In case you're wondering, Winslow is 60 percent.) Cumberland is a capable player and, as he demonstrated Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons, he can be a threat in the deep seams. There won't be much of a dropoff there, but the problem is, it'll mean more playing time for Konrad Reuland and newly acquired Zach Sudfeld. Clearly, Reuland (only 12 snaps) hasn't found a niche in Mornhinweg's offense. He's a tight end/fullback tweener, not offering much in the passing game. Sudfeld, who stands 6 feet 7, played well for the New England Patriots in the preseason and was a surprise cut last week. Once he learns the offense, he could leapfrog Reuland on the depth chart.

3. There goes the feel-good story: Winslow, in a statement released through his publicist, said he was surprised by the suspension and claimed he hasn't taken any supplements that list banned ingredients. Nevertheless, this tarnishes a potentially wonderful story. Rejected by the rest of the league, Winslow signed with the Jets after a minicamp audition, made the team and became an important player. Because of chronic knee pain (multiple surgeries), every day is a struggle. It flared up recently, causing him to miss more practice time than usual. That probably contributed to his reduced role in Atlanta (and perhaps his postgame frustration), although he made his only catch count -- a toe-tapping reception in the back of the end zone. "I want to do a lot more in this game," he told me last week. "I don't know how much longer I have, but I want to give it my all until I'm done. "

Now he's done for four weeks.

Jets' tight ends step up vs. Falcons

October, 8, 2013
ATLANTA -- New York Jets tight end Jeff Cumberland was not surprised that offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and quarterback Geno Smith had him in mind Monday night, when two of Smith's three touchdowns passes went to tight ends.

[+] EnlargeJeff Cumberland
Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY SportsJeff Cumberland was the Jets' leading receiver against the Falcons.
Cumberland's 20-yard scoring strike in the second quarter and fellow tight end Kellen Winslow's 1-yard touchdown reception in the fourth both came against favorable matchups in the Jets' 30-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

The one to Cumberland pitted him against Falcons rookie linebacker Joplo Bartu, who was undrafted out of Texas State.

On the Jets' next possession, Cumberland ran the same route straight downfield and caught a 47-yarder, with Bartu again trailing in coverage. That set up Smith's second touchdown pass, a 16-yard connection to wide receiver Jeremy Kerley.

The fourth-year tight end caught three passes for 79 yards and a score.

“Me and Marty had a one-on-one talk last week, and he said some things he wanted to do with me and get me more involved in the offense,” Cumberland said. “I gave a little outside move [on the touchdown], but it was pretty much a vertical route and I just used my speed and maneuvered around, and Geno found me.

“We saw through our film that some teams were able to go vertical on them, and those two plays that's what we did.”

While Cumberland wasn't surprised to have his number called, Winslow may have been irritated his wasn't called more often.

He entered the game as the Jets' leading receiver with 16 catches, but was targeted just once on Monday, on the 1-yarder that Smith lofted over Falcons safety William Moore in the back-right corner of the end zone.

Winslow caught the ball, keeping his feet inbounds, and with 12 minutes left in the game the Jets led 27-14.

Smith said Winslow was expressing some frustration on the sideline during the game, and when approached by reporters afterward and asked to respond, Winslow said, “I don't think that would be a good choice.”

Winslow had been listed as questionable for the game, and only practiced once last week because of chronic knee pain.

Smith sure liked Mornhinweg's choice of play there. “Great call by Marty,” said the quarterback, who completed 16 of 20 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns without any turnovers. “Got the play we wanted, had to put some touch on the ball to get it over the safety, William Moore. He's a great player, and it was a great catch by Kellen.”

Cumberland was impressed by the rookie quarterback.

“He's been in some big-time games in college [for West Virginia], and to come in here and be that composed [was great],” Cumberland said. “We knew it was going to be 60 minutes of football, and that's what it was.”




Sunday, 2/2