Drew Lock kicked off his second NFL season on Monday night with his favorite fan nearby.
During the Broncos’ season opener against the Tennessee Titans at Denver’s Mile High Stadium, Lock’s girlfriend, Natalie Newman, appeared to share a few moments from the night on her Instagram story, according to screenshots from Swipe Sports.
“Let’s go,” Newman captioned one post of the Broncos’ sideline.
The Broncos fell to the Titans, 16-14. Lock completed 22 of 33 attempts for 216 yards and one touchdown.
Although most fans will be barred from visiting NFL stadiums this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mile High plans to open its doors to about 5,700 fans on Sept. 27, when the Broncos face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, per the Colorado Sun.
Lock, who recently celebrated his one-year anniversary with Newman, was previously linked to Gracie Hunt, the daughter of Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt.
What Sandy Alderson’s return means for the Mets’ front office
WASHINGTON — If Steve Cohen is approved as the Mets’ new owner in the coming weeks, a familiar face will oversee the team’s daily operations for him.
Cohen announced Thursday his plan to install Sandy Alderson as the team president should the hedge-fund billionaire receive the 23 votes needed from MLB owners to complete his $2.475 billion purchase of the club.
Here is a primer on Alderson’s prospective return to the organization for which he served as the general manager from October 2010 to June 2018.
A: He spent the last two seasons in Oakland as an advisor to Billy Beane, but the 72-year-old Alderson still thirsted for a bigger challenge, according to a confidant.
“Sandy isn’t looking to retire,” the confidant said. “You’re not talking about somebody content reading books and going for long walks.”
Alderson has battled cancer in recent years. His first diagnosis occurred during the Mets’ run to the World Series in 2015. After undergoing surgery the following year he was declared cancer-free, but in 2018 stepped aside as GM, citing a return of the disease. The following winter he indicated he was cancer-free.
As team president, Alderson would oversee all facets of the organization, not just baseball. It’s a position he held with the Padres from 2005-09 before leaving for a return to the commissioner’s office. The Mets hired him as general manager following Omar Minaya’s dismissal in 2010.
Q: What does this mean for the current front office?
A: Alderson and Brodie Van Wagenen have a professional relationship from negotiating – the latter was a CAA agent whose clients included Yoenis Cespedes – but the two have never served on the same side together. In his introductory press conference as Mets general manager, Van Wagenen was extremely respectful of Alderson, citing his long success in the game. Alderson’s only real public comment pertaining to Van Wagenen came at the New York Baseball Writers’ dinner in 2019 when he joked about the new GM basking in the media spotlight.
“I’ve always had great respect for Sandy,” Van Wagenen said Thursday. “As I have said before, I look forward to having more conversations with the incoming ownership group as the process unfolds.”
Whether Van Wagenen (who has two years remaining on his contract) returns might depend on whether Alderson views his role in nature as bumper lanes for the front office or as the primary decision maker. Van Wagenen could conceivably return, but in a diminished role in which all big decisions have to run through Alderson. That said, it might just be easier for Alderson to hire somebody with whom he is already comfortable or believes he can mold.
Van Wagenen’s key lieutenants include Adam Guttridge, Allard Baird and Minaya. Under Guttridge the team’s analytical approach has evolved, with Baird and Minaya serving as experienced sounding boards.
Q: If Alderson decides he wants a new general manager, who would be potential candidates?
A: Paul DePodesta worked under Alderson with the Padres before joining him with the Mets with a focus on rebuilding the farm system. Under DePodesta’s watch, the Mets drafted Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, Michael Conforto and Michael Fulmer, among others. Before the 2016 season, DePodesta surprisingly left the organization to become chief strategy officer for the Cleveland Browns. It’s unclear whether DePodesta has aspirations for returning to baseball in a GM capacity – he held the job with the Dodgers before joining Alderson in San Diego.
Breaking from his past, Alderson could look toward names such as Josh Byrnes (he was a candidate for the job when Alderson was hired in 2010) and Mike Chernoff, who interviewed for the position when Van Wagenen was hired.
Q: Will Alderson reunite his band of lieutenants from his previous regime?
A: Giants advisor J.P. Ricciardi (who is still getting paid by the Mets through the end of this season) worked with Alderson in Oakland and New York and still maintains a close relationship with him, according to sources. John Ricco, who moved from baseball operations to overseeing special projects for the Mets – including the revamping of the team’s spring training complex – is highly respected by Alderson and could return to a prominent front office position. Minaya was brought back by the Wilpons following the 2016 season in an advisory capacity and could be retained given his tight previous relationship with Cohen and familiarity working under Alderson.
Q: Based on what we know about Alderson’s philosophy, how will he shape the offseason plan?
A: Alderson as Mets GM gave nine-figure contracts to David Wright and Cespedes, but mostly avoided huge expenditures. Still, with a new deep-pocketed boss the Mets could be bigger players in free agency than at any point in their history. Alderson’s job will be to ensure that money is spent wisely.
Revisiting Gardner Minshew’s rise with the Jaguars: The mania, the magic, the mustache
Gardner Minshew is stll the most interesting quarterback in the NFL. The Jaguars’ second-year starter has built on his surprise rookie success for a red-hot opening to the 2020 season.
Jacksonville is 1-1 and has put up 57 points over its first two games thanks in big part to Minshew. He’s completed 75.4 percent of his passes with 7.9 yards per attempt and an astronomical 115.7 passing efficiency rating. He’s thrown six touchdown passes to two interceptions, the latter just last week. He’s also picked good spots to run when needed against the Colts and Titans.
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The Jaguars could have either targeted Minshew’s replacement in NFL free agency or early in the draft. But transitioning to a new offense under Jay Gruden, they stuck with “Minshew II” in Year 2 and are being rewarded early going into Thursday night’s Week 3 home game vs. the Dolphins.
Here’s a look back on Minshew’s unlikely rise from maniacal, magical meme to a top-half QB in the NFL:
How and why did the Jaguars draft Gardner Minshew?
The Jaguars needed to select a quarterback in the 2019 draft as they were starting over at the position, moving on from 2014 first-rounder Blake Bortles. They splurged on former Eagles supersub Nick Foles in free agency, but Bortlees’ departure also called for them to take a development type.
With the No. 7 overall pick, it was guaranteed the Jaguars wouldn’t get either Kyler Murray (No. 1 to the Cardinals) or Daniel Jones (No. 6 to the Giants). They passed on Dwayne Haskins (Washington) in Round 1, Drew Lock (Broncos) in Round 2 and Will Grier (Panthers) in Round 3. Those early non-picks led them to wait until the sixth round, No. 178 overall, for Minshew.
Nine QBs in all were taken ahead of Minshew, a list that includes Ryan Finley (Bengals), Jarrett Stidham (Patriots), Easton Stick (Chargers) and Clayton Thorson (Eagles). Murray’s high selection helped Minshew get more notice, given that he also had a good grasp of NFL trendy Air Raid concepts from his time under Mike Leach at Washington State.
How has Minshew found such early success in the NFL?
Minshew was used to a high-volume passing game, throwing a lot for Washington State after transferring from East Carolina. When Foles went down in Week 1 last year with a broken collarbone against the Chiefs, Minshew came in unfazed despite being thrown into the fire in his first NFL game. He showed his mental toughness early, but his football intelligence was critical to him accelerating his development.
The Jaguars were fortunate to have a deep, versatile receiving corps timed with the meteoric second-year rise of wideout D.J. Chark. Between Doug Marrone, former offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and current offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, Minshew has had a lot of support to execute a variety of West Coast concepts.
By the time Foles came back in Week 11, Minshew became the QB who gave the Jaguars a better chance to win games. Once they didn’t try to force Foles into the lineup after Week 13 because of how much they invested in him for one year, there was renewed rookie confidence in Minshew. He finished strong, including two stellar winning performances against the Raiders and Colts.
Minshew has a trait that isn’t innate for most young quarterbacks. He doesn’t wilt in the face of pressure and has the toughness and athleticism to buy time to more efficiently pass downfield. This season, the Jaguars’ running game has come back stronger after Leonard Fournette’s fade, thanks to better offensive line play and the impressive undrafted rookie running of James Robinson.
The Jaguars also wisely added a dedicated receiving back, Gruden favorite Chris Thompson, plus a big-bodied tight end, Tyler Eifert. They also got more big-play oriented with their receiving corps by drafting Laviska Shenault Jr. and fading slot man Dede Westbrook. Early in 2020, Keelan Cole has re-emerged as a strong No. 2 opposite Chark.
Not only did Jacksonville pass on intriguing options such as Jordan Love and Jalen Hurts in the draft, it also resisted going down a veteran path for a QB such as Cam Newton. While that confirmed that the organization is committed to seeing it through with Minshew, at the same time — behind the scenes, starting with the hiring of Gruden — the Jaguars also tailored their offense more to Minshew’s strengths.
What’s different about Gardner Minshew in Year 2?
Minshew is no longer catching teams by surprise. Gone is that rookie sensation feeling when watching him play. He looks more like an established veteran starter with the way he’s carried himself in the first two games.
The Jaguars signed journeyman Mike Glennon and drafted another QB, Jake Luton, in the sixth round. But it’s been clear this offseason that the Jaguars were empowering Minshew with no extra sophomore pressure of looking over his shoulder.
Minshew has built on chemistry with his teammates and also grasped Gruden’s QB-friendly playbook well. He’s neither a flashy overachiever nor a young bridge starter just waiting to be replaced. He’s motivated not to make the Jaguars tank, because the better he plays, the more they win. And the less they lose, the worse they are positioned to tap into a strong quarterback class early in 2021.
What’s up with the Gardner Minshew mane and mustache?
Back at Washington State, Leach gave Minshew his chance start for a Power 5 program, ending a long college journey that began at Troy University and had been previously stamped by starring for Northwest Mississippi Community College. Minshew was allowed to be the freewheeling leader, and part of that was letting his facial hair grow — short of a Ryan Fitzpatrick-style beard and complementary old-school mullet.
Minshew instead settled for the “Uncle Rico” look, headband and all, only with more grizzle. He let his hair grow and went full beard during the offseason COVID-19 quarantine, but Minshew has gone back to the classic Fu Manchu for the season. The mustache has become a big part of Minshew’s identity, but he’s providing more reasons to focus on how he’s playing vs. what’s on his face.
Why Gardner Minshew is more than mania and magic
Minshew Mania. Minshew Magic. Nicknames like that for what Minshew has done on the field to inspire and bring new energy to the Jaguars’ franchise and fans suggest he’s a fad, like he’s Tim Tebow on the Broncos or Jeremy Lin on the Knicks. But if that were the case, the fade would already be here.
Instead, Minshew has made it an even better September to remember, making a case that he’s the No. 2 QB in his draft class behind Murray, ahead of both Jones and Haskins. The last time a sixth-round pick at quarterback busted out, he arrived to stay for a long time — Tom Brady.
But could the Jaguars still replace Gardner Minshew in 2021?
There are three surefire first-round quarterbacks in next year’s draft: Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. After Lawrence goes No. 1 overall to whichever team picks there, Lance will likely be gone in the top 10.
In Sports Grind Entertainment’ preseason 2021 mock draft, in which the Jaguars were projected to pick No. 2, Fields was mocked to them. The Jaguars, however, would be currently selecting No. 16 overall, out of range for all three QBs.
Assuming Dak Prescott is re-signed long term by the Cowboys and Newton gets another season with the Patriots, none of the older pending free-agent QBs are more appealing than Minshew, based on how he’s playing at the moment.
How long is Gardner Minshew’s rookie contract with the Jaguars?
Minshew got a four-year deal worth $2.7 million with only $190,884 of that guaranteed. He earned nearly $687,000 in base salary as a rookie before the bump in 2020 to still-a-bargain $850,000, what he’s also in line to make next year.
The Jaguars might have the look of a rebuilding team, but if Minshew keeps playing well, they should consider going back to being more aggressive in free agency to take advantage of having a highly underpaid quarterback. For 2021, no team has more room under the cap than Jacksonville at nearly $85 million available.
Is DJ Chark playing Thursday night? Fantasy injury update for Dolphins-Jaguars Week 3 (Updated)
After a solid 2019, DJ Chark was drafted by many fantasy football owners as a WR2. Chark has shown game-breaking ability and good chemistry with Gardner Minshew, so there is hope that he can be a top-25 receiver this year. However, Chark has hit a little bit of a bump in the road ahead of the Jaguars’ Week 3 Thursday Night Football matchup with the Dolphins. Chark is being listed as “questionable” as he deals with a chest injury. Fantasy owners and NFL DFS players are going to want to check up on Chark frequently ahead of the Jaguars-Dolphins game to get the latest news on his active/inactive status before kickoff.
We’ll have updates below about Chark right up until the official inactive report is released at around 6:50 p.m. ET on Thursday. For more fantasy news, follow us on Twitter @SN_Fantasy.
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Is DJ Chark playing Thursday night?
UPDATE 2: The Jacksonville Jaguars have officially declared Chark OUT for the contest. That means that the team will be be relying more on Keelan Cole, Laviska Shenault, and Chris Conley against the Dolphins.
UPDATE 1: NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero said early Thursday that Chark is “trending upward” for Thursday night’s game.
Chark has been practicing in a limited capacity all week. Provided that he hasn’t suffered any sort of setback with his chest injury, it seems that he will be good to go. He didn’t suffer any downgrades in practice, so the Jaguars might just be being extra cautious with him given that the team is playing on a short week.
If Chark plays, he can be trusted as a WR2 in what looks like a good matchup against a Miami defense that will be without their top cornerback, Byron Jones. Still, fantasy owners should check back before kickoff just in case an unexpected setback does occur or the Jaguars elect to give Chark the extra time to heal up.
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On the off-chance that Chark does miss the game against the Dolphins, it would provide stock ups for Keelan Cole and Laviska Shenault. They would both be in the mix as high-end WR3s in what could be a high-scoring game. If Chark does play, both would fall in the WR3/flex category, so they are potentially startable no matter what. Their upside just isn’t as high with Chark in.
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Chris Conley would be the next man up in three-wide sets if Chark is out, so he would have some flex appeal if Chark misses the game. If he’s out though, Conley will be a fantasy non-factor, so that may have the biggest impact on lineup and DFS decisions this week.
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We’ll keep you posted on Chark’s status moving forward, but it seems that he will be okay for Thursday night’s game. And if not, there are still plenty of receiver options to plug into your lineup and other flex options to consider if you’re in a bind.
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