Jaguars add former RB Denard Robinson to coaching staff

The Jacksonville Jaguars have hired Tony Gilbert as the team’s assistant linebackers coach and Denard Robinson as the team’s offensive quality control coach, the club announced today.

Both Gilbert and Robinson competed in Jacksonville during their playing careers. Gilbert played LB in Jacksonville from 2003-06 after being drafted by Arizona in the 2003 draft. Since he retired in 2010, the former Georgia Bulldog has held various positions coaching in the collegiate ranks, including stints at Georgia, Auburn, East Mississippi Community College, Georgia Military College, John Milledge Academy, North Carolina and UCF. Gilbert, along with Linebackers Coach Mark Collins, will oversee the team’s linebacking corps.  

Robinson played RB for the Jaguars from 2013-16, totaling 263 rushes for 1,058 yards and five TDs. The Deerfield Beach native and University of Michigan product will assist Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden and the coaching staff in all areas of practice and game preparation.  

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NFL to donate $250 million to social justice

After the unfortunate death of George Floyd, who died at the hands of police in Minnesota last month, professional sports leagues have committed money and resources to end racism in America and to show the country that Black Lives Matter, including the NFL.

On Thursday, the league announced that they were donating $250 million to social justice. 

Here is a statement from the NFL:

“The NFL is growing our social justice efforts through a 10-year total $250 million fund to combat systemic racism and support the battle against the ongoing and historic injustices faced by African-Americans. The NFL and our clubs will continue to work collaboratively with NFL players to support programs to address criminal justice reform, police reforms, and economic and educational advancement. 

“In addition to the financial commitment, we will continue to leverage the NFL Network and all of our media properties to place an increased emphasis on raising awareness and promoting education of social justice issues to our fans and help foster unity.”

In 2017, the NFL also donated $100 million to issues that impact African-American communities.

Minnesota Vikings donate $5 million to social justice

The Minnesota Vikings and the Wilf family have announced a $5 million donation to social justice causes throughout the United States. In a video call with members
of the team’s Social Justice Committee earlier this week, Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf and Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf stated the contributions from this fund will be determined in part through collaboration with the players and directed toward organizations fighting hate, racism and inequality.

“We continue to be inspired by these players as they advocate for transformational change in this very challenging moment,” said Mark Wilf. “We are proud of their efforts to use their platform in an effort to end deep-seated social injustices. Their thoughtful approach and our conversations with them have deeply moved us, certainly in large part because of our family’s history and long-standing commitment to human rights, but also because of their steadfast dedication to not sit idly by when they have the ability to make a difference.”

The donations build on the Wilfs’ previous $500,000 commitment to the Social Justice Committee over the last two years. Those dollars were directed toward scholarships for low-income students, school supplies, legal aid for disadvantaged and underrepresented populations and law enforcement relations.

“Our organization and the players have shown a commitment to these causes over the last several years, but we know we need to and can do more,” said Zygi Wilf. “We want this investment to support the many diverse and meaningful social justice efforts throughout our country, but it can only be one piece of our overall work toward having a sustainable impact. Our actions within our communities will be the driving force for creating profound change.”

The Vikings also announced the endowed George Floyd Legacy Scholarship, which is being created by the Vikings Social Justice Committee in memory of George Floyd. The $125,000 initial establishing gift will generate approximately $5,000 annually to benefit African American graduating seniors in Minneapolis-St. Paul who are pursuing post-secondary education.

Bills’ DC on Fromm: ‘I really believe our guys will give him the benefit of the doubt’

Bills rookie QB Jake Fromm is under fire after a text conversation from 2019 was released on Thursday. In the conversation, Fromm, who was talking to a friend, said the following when talking about guns:

“But no guns are good. They need to let me get suppressors,” before adding, “Just make them very expensive, so only elite white people can get them, haha.”

Fromm later apologized, and said in a statement that he did not consider himself an “elite white person.”

Here is Fromm’s statement:

On Thursday, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier gave his thoughts on the situation.

“As I mentioned earlier, we’re still getting to know Jake as a teammate, none of us have been in the locker room together but based on what he said to the team today, I know, I really believe our guys will give him the benefit of the doubt,” Frazier said.

“They’re looking forward to communicating with him and encouraging him. And it definitely sounds like he’s learned from this mistake. One of the things we talked about, and I mentioned it earlier, was the fact that love has to overcome hate. It’s easy to just continue down that hate hate hate road, but that’s not where we want to be. If we want to change this, there has to be a reciprocal effort on both sides. And we have enough guys on our team that want to see change for the better. I know those guys are going to give Jake every chance to prove that those words that were echoed, I don’t know how long ago it was, that was a teachable moment for Jake, and that he’s learned from it and he’s drawn from that moment. So I know our players are going to reach out to him, in the next 24 to 48 hours as well.”

What Fromm said was wrong, but it appears he may have been joking. In reality, if everybody’s private text conversations were made public, a lot of people would come under fire. 

Therefore, we should give Fromm the benefit of the doubt.

Jags’ Khan: ‘Racism, in all its forms, will kill’

Here is op–ed from Jaguars owner Shad Khan on racism:

Racism, in all its forms, will kill.  It kills people, it kills communities, it kills dreams, it kills hope.

By Shad Khan – Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The events of the past 10 days have been alarming and disheartening.  Alarming because we know the history of systemic inequity that brought us to this point, not only with the recent killing of George Floyd and other African Americans in our country, but also the disproportionate impact the coronavirus has wreaked in communities of color.  Disheartening because this familiar sequence of killing, followed by protest and civic unrest, followed by inactivity and silence, occurs ever more frequently in our nation.

The video capturing the final moments of George Floyd’s life offers the latest horrific evidence of injustice that is all too prevalent in the U.S.  No families in this country should have to go to bed at night worrying about whether their children are going to encounter the wrong police officer in the wrong moment. No families should have to worry about their child losing their life just because of the color of their skin.  Yet, they do.  That should never happen in what should be, and I still believe is, the greatest nation on the planet.

I came to the United States from Pakistan in 1967 with $500 in my pocket and faith in the American Dream.  Opportunities to learn and succeed were abundant, and more than 50 years later I am forever grateful and proud to be a citizen of the United States.  Nonetheless, while I pursued my goals as a student and later in the workforce, being a Muslim-American made me a frequent target of prejudice, discrimination and hatred.  I won’t claim to know what it means to be a young African American today, but I can speak honestly and painfully to my own experiences as a person of color for the past 53 years in this country.  Even recently, I have had people spew racist language in my presence when talking about other people of color — apparently ignorant of my ethnicity.  Change for all people of color in the United States is long overdue, and it must happen now.

I know change is possible, and here’s one reason why: While I am often described as “self-made,” the truth is I benefitted tremendously from hundreds of good and generous people early on, from all walks of life, who supported me unconditionally and contributed mightily to my realization of the American Dream.  My classmates, professors, fraternity brothers, colleagues, friends and family all helped to shape the person I am today.  Opportunity and some help along the way allow us all to do great things.

I also know what impact economic opportunity can have on marginalized families.  The most rewarding professional accomplishment of my life has been the recent opening of my company’s automotive plants in the underserved areas of Chicago and Detroit.  People in those areas only needed an opportunity  – and hope – to break the relentless cycle of poverty and oppression.  It is inspiring and why I am also committed, with the Jaguars, to investing in developments we envision for downtown Jacksonville, where new jobs will result in immediate and sustainable livelihoods.

My overarching goal, or mission, is to do my part to level the playing field so everyone has the same access and opportunity to achieve the American Dream, without fear or compromise.  As a member of the NFL family, I recognize I have a unique opportunity to address inequity wherever it is present, expand opportunity for all who seek it, and seek justice for all who deserve it.  I take that responsibility seriously.

In Jacksonville, I frequently meet with Jaguars players to better understand their experiences and concerns.  I can only imagine their range of emotions today in the wake of all that has unfolded in 2020.  I know they are hurting, yet also committed to doing good in Jacksonville and the communities where they were raised and will always consider home.  Mindful of this, I will listen to the players in the days ahead with an exceptionally keen ear so we can work with them to make the transition from conversation to actionable plans in the name of lasting change.  And I will do the same with employees and associates throughout my various businesses, where the interests and concerns on this matter are no less vital.

Racial discrimination has no place in our society.  That’s been said.  But, what’s been done?

We must have the answer today, and we will work with players, staff and more to arrive at a timely response.  Because this moment, while agonizingly similar in many ways, is unlike any other in our history for underserved people and communities in the United States.  We cannot attack the virus of racism with indifference or periodic attention.  We cannot expect an easy cure or give up when the quest becomes inconvenient or uncomfortable.

Most of all, we cannot fail our children – children who deserve to know they have the same opportunity to earn a living, have a family and live safely — no matter the color of their skin.

Racism, in all its forms, will kill.  It kills people, it kills communities, it kills dreams, it kills hope.

For many Americans, now is the moment.  Never has that been clearer.

I don’t want to waste this moment.

Jaguars’ Minshew: ‘I think we do have a lot to prove’

 The expectations are not very high for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020. This is a team that lost a lot of talent over the past few seasons. Jacksonville traded away CB Jalen Ramsey to the Rams during the 2019 season. Also, they traded Pro Bowl DE Calais Campbell to the Ravens and moved QB Nick Foles to the Bears this offseason, so on some level, there is a youth movement in Jacksonville.

The quarterback that will lead this team will be second-year player Gardner Minshew. The former sixth-round pick will have every opportunity to be the franchise quarterback in Jacksonville, and unlike last season, Minshew will be the guy from day one, which he believes will be an advantage.

“I think you get to build those relationships, get a lot more timing with those guys,” Minshew said during a conference call on Thursday. “You can get to know what they like, and they kind of get to know what I like and build that trust there. I’m very excited for that. And even just now, being able to have those conversations with them — them being the receivers, tight ends, running backs, and linemen — I think that’s already given us a leg up from last year.”

Last season, as a rookie, Minshew threw 21 touchdowns and was 6-6 as a starter, and he is hoping to be even better in 2020.

“I’ve been trying to [improve] really every asset – bigger, faster, stronger,” Minshew said. “Really putting an emphasis on trying to figure out the best weight for me to have as much arm strength as possible, while maintaining as much speed.”

Minshew will also be learning a new offense this season, as the Jaguars brought in former Redskins head coach Jay Gruden to be the team’s new offensive coordinator. A new offensive coordinator means a new offense, and because of COVID-19, Minshew has to learn the offense virtually.

“Yeah, it’s different,” he said about learning the offense virtually. “When I was at Washington State, this was kind of the similar thing because I wasn’t there for the spring, so I had to a lot of it on my own, as well, but we’ve been fortunate. We’re meeting every day with Coach [Ben] McAdoo, Coach [Jay] Gruden and the other guys in the QB room and we’re all just helping each other and getting as good of work as we can, and I think you have to take ownership on our own, as well.”

While the expectations for the Jaguars might not be too high in 2020, Minshew hopes to use the low expectations to fuel him this season.

“I think it should put a chip on everybody’s shoulder on our team, know being kind of counted out like that,” he said. “I think we do have a lot to prove, prove that we are not what anybody says about us, the only people that really know, the only peoples whose opinions matter is who is in that huddle, who is on that team and I think we are going to set those expectations for ourselves and not worry about what anybody else has to say about us.”

No matter what happens with Minshew and Jacksonville, Minshew should be exciting, and if he and the team are successful, “Minshew Mania” will be in full effect. 

Jaguars’ Thompson:  ‘I am excited to get back in my home state’

Jaguars RB Chris Thompson is coming home. Thompson signed a one-year deal with Jacksonville earlier this month. The Greenville, Florida native spent the first six seasons of his career with the Redskins. Thompson also went to college in Florida(Florida State).

The seven-year veteran is excited about the opportunity to play in front of family and friends.

‘That is one thing that I am super excited about, just to be back in my home state and be a lot closer to what I would say is my fanbase that has been there for years, even back to people that watched me play in high school,” Thompson recently said via a video conference call. “I am super excited about that, and then my family is an hour-and-a-half away now, so they will be able to come and watch me play and be able to spend some more time with me than they have been able to the past seven years. I think it will be good. I missed a lot of time, I missed a lot of holidays, and I will be able to make that time up. I am super excited about that. I just had a daughter, too. She is four months old, so I am happy about that and for my parents to be able to spend some time with her.”

For Thompson, playing in Jacksonville will reunite him with Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who was Thompson’s head coach in Washington from 2014-2019. Thompson believes that Gruden’s belief in him helped his career.

“He is one of the biggest reasons I was able to have the success that I had in Washington and to be able to stick around there,” Thompson said. “The first year he got there, I was on the practice squad. I ended up being cut and put on the practice squad, but he talked to me afterwards for a while after the last preseason game and told me what the situation was. He let me know from day one – [he said] ‘I know this is going to be a hard year for you. You are probably mad and upset at everybody because you got cut, but I want you to come back here because I know the type of player you can be. I know you are going to play a bigger part in the future here with Washington, and I know you will be able to have a great impact on this team and on the players on this team.’ He had that talk with me, and I really appreciated that. That was one reason why I ended up coming back and spending that practice squad year with Washington. It was tough, but having him and knowing that he had my back, it really meant a lot. Throughout this whole process and all my time there in Washington, he believed in me. He gave me every single opportunity that he possibly could. Me coming here to Jacksonville with him being one of, I guess, two guys — with [Tyler] Eifert also — being familiar with his offense. It is good for me and him to be able to help the younger guys be able to grasp this offense and know what Jay is expecting from his playmakers.”

The 29-year-old Thompson is a reliable pass-catcher out of the backfield, and in 2017, Thompson had career-highs in receiving yards(510) and touchdowns(4). He has had over 40 receptions three times in his career, so expect Thompson to continue his pass-catching ways with the Jaguars in 2020.

 

Pederson: ‘I have a ton of confidence in Nate(Sudfeld) to become the backup quarterback’

As we learned over the past three seasons, the backup quarterback position is a big deal for the Philadelphia Eagles. Carson Wentz has missed time in the past three seasons, and while he played all 16 games for the Eagles in 2019, Wentz suffered an injury against the Seahawks in the playoffs, and without him, Philadelphia would lose to Seattle in the wild card round.

Barring anything dramatic, and despite Philadelphia selecting QB Jalen Hurts in the second round of this year’s draft, it appears that Nate Sudfeld will be the backup quarterback for the Eagles in 2020. And with some changes to the offseason due to COVID-19, Sudfeld, who has been with Philadelphia for the past three seasons, knows the Eagles’ offense,  which, according to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, will benefit Sudfeld in 2020.

“I think early on in this season, this becomes a veteran-laden football season,” Pederson said during a video conference call on Tuesday. “Football teams are going to have to rely on their veteran players, and Nate is one of those guys for us. He’s been on our roster the last couple of seasons, and he knows exactly what we are doing. I have a ton of confidence in Nate to become the backup quarterback. Nothing is ever handed to anybody, and we always try to create, I always try to create competition at every position, and quarterback, as you guys know, is not exempt from that. But I fully expect Nate to come in and be aggressive and do the things that he’s capable of doing, and become the backup to [QB] Carson [Wentz].”

Regarding Hurts, Pederson had this to say.

“And then with Jalen(Hurts), Jalen is about, right now, just learning and picking up our system, and he’s another one, another young player that we drafted who, there’s a lot to learn from the quarterback position,” he said. “So, are we going to take it a little bit slower maybe with him until he grasps the offense? You might have to. What I like about it is always the unknown, and the unknown is how well a guy, I think, can progress. And then once we get him on the grass, put him through drills, put him through practices, then we see exactly what these guys are all about.

“Right now, Jalen is doing an outstanding job of picking up the offense, spitting it back to [Eagles Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach] Press [Taylor], and understanding what we are trying to get done, and we go that route with him right now at this time.”

This is an excellent opportunity for the 26-year-old Sudfeld. However, if things go the way Philadelphia wants things to go with Wentz, Sudfeld will never see the field in 2020. 

Vikings’ Harris signs franchise tag

Minnesota Vikings S Anthony Harris signed the franchise tender, the team announced today.

The 28-year-old Harris will make a guaranteed $11.4  million in 2020.

Harris, who started a career-high 14 games for the Vikings last season, led all safeties in interceptions with a career-best six in 2019. The former Virginia Cavalier originally signed with Minnesota as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and has appeared in 65 games with 31 starts, totaling nine interceptions, 21 passes defensed, one forced fumble and four fumble recoveries in his career.

The six-year veteran earned his lone career NFC Defensive Player of the Week award in Week 1 of the 2019 season when securing five tackles, two interceptions and one fumble recovery against the Atlanta Falcons at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 8, 2019.

Minnesota and Harris have until July 15 to come together on a long-term deal.

Jags’ Eifert on Minshew: ‘He seems like a guy that the offense wants to rally behind’

If it were not clear before, it’s obvious now that the Jacksonville Jaguars are giving Gardner Minshew every opportunity to become the team’s franchise quarterback. That became pretty clear when the team traded Nick Foles to the Bears, did not go after Cam Newton, and signed Mike Glennon to backup Minshew. 

To help Minshew, the Jaguars signed former Bengals TE Tyler Eifert in March, and while Eifert has not seen a lot of the second-year quarterback, he was impressed by what he saw.  

“I have not watched a lot of tape on him, but obviously I saw last year with the mania going on,” Eifert said via a video conference call on Thursday. “He seems like a guy that the offense wants to rally behind. He seems like he is kind of a fearless leader, and you need that when you are on the field, and the bullets are flying, and things are not going your way. You need that kind of guy that is going to take charge of the huddle and be like, ‘We got this.’ I think it will be fun to see his growth from Year 1 to Year 2, and I’m excited to get to work with him.”

Eifert is correct. It did appear that the team rallied around Minshew, as evident by his three game-winning drives in 2019. Also, the team was .500 with Minshew, who went 6-6 as a starter last season. 

Ultimately, If Minshew wants ‘the mania” to go beyond this year, he will have to play just as good, if not better, than he played as a rookie. Otherwise, the Jaguars will probably go in a different direction.