Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York on October 22, 2015 · Page D8
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October 22, 2015

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Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York · Page D8

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Rochester, New York
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Thursday, October 22, 2015
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Page D8
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Page8D Thursday,October22,2015 DemocratandChronicle. com IDON’TKNOW WHATCODE RED MEANS. THE ONLY TIME I HEAR CODE RED IS ON A PLANE. HOPEFULLYI NEVER HEAR THAT.” Defensive end Ricky Jean-Francois ,talking Wednesday to “The Washington Post” about Redskins coach Jay Gruden saying Sunday’ s game against the Buccaneers was a “code red.” QUOTE OF THE DAY ANDREW WEBER, USA TODAY SPORTS USA SNAPSHOTS © Power surge Source STATS LLC ELLEN J. HORROW AND VERONICA BRAVO, USA TODAY 21 Home runs hit on Oct. 12, the most in a single day in Major League Baseball postseason play SPORTSLINE any team in the division — which g oes a long way in the NFC East —by outscoring their opponents 66-24. Y esterday’s doormat is today’s juggernaut. Only in the NFC East. “Obviously, we are taking things week to week,” Bradford said after Monday’s turnover-infested victory against the Giants. Good idea. The Cowboys were the team to beat a month ago after opening the season with back- to-back division wins. Then the reality of life without quarterback Tony Romo (broken collarbone) and wide receiver Dez Bryant (broken foot) set in. The Giants were the class of the division in Week 3. Washington seemed like a threat after beating Philadelphia in Week 4. “Last week, I was a Giants guy,” former Washington general manager Charley Casserly said. “At one point, every team in the division has had their day in the sun. And we’re not even halfway through the season. This is going to keep changing.” Welcome to the NFL’s division of doom: the NFC Least. It is the place where bad football rules and even worse football still has a chance. Headed to see a typical NFC East game anytime soon? Consider yourself warned, and cover your eyes. The league would not be out of line by signing the Red Cross as the o cial sponsor for its worst division race. “Everybody’s got a problem,” former NFL running back Brian Mitchell told USA TODAY Sports while summing up current events. Mitchell is an undeniable expert on all things NFC East. A star special teamer, he played all 1 4 of his seasons in the division, largely with Washington before s tints with the Philadelphia Ea- g les and New York Giants. F or all that institutional knowledge, he is as perplexed as anyone in projecting how this m ess will settle. Before the season began, he expected the Dallas Cowboys to repeat as division champs. “Right now, who knows?” Mitchell said. “You can put the names of all the teams in a hat, reach in and pull one out, and you might be right.” Imean, just look at who’s in first place now. Three weeks ago, Chip Kelly’s team was such a mess that some adorable critics (ahem) were writing Philadelphia o as dead meat. Now? The Eagles (3-3) would be division champs if the playo s started today even though quarterback Sam Bradford has been an interception machine. Talk about a fluid situation. The Eagles, with new running back DeMarco Murray finally getting into a groove, have had the best two-week performance of And just think, if the Eagles c an’t upset the unbeaten Carolina Panthers on Sunday, the Giants- Cowboys winner at MetLife Stad ium will reclaim first place. Without Romo and Bryant, Dallas is riding a three-game losing streak and banking on journeyman quarterback Matt Cassel to save the season (this week) by injecting life into the o ense. Romo probably is at least six weeks from returning, and Bryant is considered day-to-day as his recovery reaches its sixth week. The defense, bolstered by the returns of Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain from suspensions, should get impressive rookie edge rusher Randy Gregory back this week from a high ankle sprain. “We’ll give you the ammo at the end, to have the credentials to win the thing,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “The dicey part is while you’re waiting on them to get back you better not get eliminated out of the deal.” The NFL is always a war of attrition, but that factor is more compelling than usual in this div ision considering the injured players who might return at yet- to-be-determined e ectiveness. A mid so many X factors, one thing seems certain: The NFC East will be up for grabs in December. This is a new NFL reality. Over the last five seasons, four division titles have been won by teams with eight wins or fewer. “It’s a dogfight,” Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. “The beauty in it is that these young guys (playing as fill-ins) have had the opportunity to grow as the season goes along, and we’ll be better for it.” Maybe so. But it’s clear that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Especially in the NFC East, where so many clichés, like “next man up” and “one game at a time,” form a “make-or-break” reality. NFC EAST HEADING SOUTH Nobody seems to want to win weak division Jarrett Bell jbell@usatoday.com USA TODAY Sports ERIC HARTLINE, USA TODAY SPORTS Sam Bradford, left, getting hit in a Sept. 20 game vs. the Cowboys, has nine touchdown passes, n ine interceptions and an 80.0 passer rating but remains the Eagles’ starting quarterback. FOLLOW NFL COLUMNIST JARRETT BELL @JarrettBell for breaking news and analysis on football. Rickie Fowler and Las Vegas are a natural fit, even at this time of the year. Despite counting less than 10 days for his o season — with one basically spent traveling back home after spending a few days in Japan for sponsor obligations immediately after The Presidents Cup in South Korea — Fowler is starting his 2015-16 PGA Tour season Thursday in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas. T hen again, colorful Fowler h as always liked the bright lights a nd energy of America’s Western playground andis a former resident. His coach, Butch Harmon, has his shop set up within 20 minutes of The Strip. In 2009, Fowler finished in a tie for seventh here in his first start as a professional and then tied for 22nd a year later. And he has FedExCup fever. “I felt like I started a little bit b ehind the 8-ball last year with not playing many events until the s tart of the real calendar year,” s aid Fowler, who played only one o f the events in the fall and one in the winter last year. This year he’s playing in two of the first four events of the season; he’ll be heading to China late next week to play in the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions. He also will play in the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas the first week of December and perhaps the Shark Shootout. F owler is one of a growing number of players who have c ome to understand skipping fall e vents can be detrimental to o ne’s season. If you start your campaign in, let’s say, San Diego for the Farmers Insurance Open in January or the Honda Classic in Florida a month later, you’re spotting your colleagues a huge head start in form and in the Fed- ExCup standings. Fowler wasn’t about to repeat the autumn of 2014. He’ll head to his West Coast swing with at least t hree events under his belt and will look to top the best season of h is career. Fowler won three times worldwide in 2015, his big- g est victory coming in a playo in The Players Championship. Driving him this seasonwill be h is play in the majors this year. A y ear after he finished in the top five in all four majors — a feat accomplished by Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth — Fowler finished in a tie for 12th in the Masters, missed the cut in the U.S. Open and finished in ties for 30th in the British Open and the PGA Championship. “The main goal is to win a major and to continue winning,” Fowler said. “Ultimately it would be nice to be a little bit more consistent. I didn’t get o to the greatest of starts last year but definitely capitalized when I put myself in position to win. A lot of positives, but still want to continue to get better, and I think c onsistency is the big key.” F owler might be wearyand i sn’t sharp. After winning the Deutsche Bank Championship, tying for fourth in the BMW Championship and tying for 12th in The Tour Championship in the FedExCup Playo s,he threw in a clunker in South Korea. “Coming here, got to spend a little bit of time with Butch, gotten to spend time with friends,” he said, “so I’m looking forward t o this week, a place I’ve played well at, to hopefully play well.” Fowler uses fall swing to fine-tune World No. 5 s truggled in P residents Cup Steve DiMeglio @Steve_DiMeglio USA TODAY Sports JOHN DAVID MERCER, USA TODAY SPORTS “I’m looking forward to trying to get some confidence going here,” Rickie Fowler said about playing at TPC Summerlin. FIRST WORD WOW, LIKE, THAT REALLYHAPPENED.” Jalen Watts-Jackson while watching replays in the hospital of his last-second winning touchdown for Michigan State after a botched Michigan punt. He suffered a broken and dislocated hip on the play. Watts-Jackson spoke for the first time since the game. He is expected to be out for the season and likely will not take part in spring pr actice , according to the “Detroit Free Press.” MAGIC NUMBER 9.2 million Viewers TBS averaged for Tuesday’s Mets-Cubs game, making it the network’s most-watch National League Championship Series game since TBS began showing LCS games in 2007. The network alternates leagues each year. ALMOST LAST WORD “IT’S PROBABLYMORE B ETWEEN HIM AND HIS GOD T HAN ITIS HIM AND THE NCAA.” LSU basketball coach Johnny Jones on Wednesday to “The (Louisville) Courier-Journal” about Tigers freshman Antonio Blakeney and what happened when he made a recruiting trip to Louisville and ended up in a prostitute’s tell-all book about the Cardinals’ recruiting. Jones added that Blakeney had the opportunity to visit with NCAA investigator s about an allegation that the player and his guardian had sex with escorts during the trip . LAST W ORD “ I DON’TGETCAUGHTUP IN T HAT— BUTTHANKS FOR REMINDING ME.” Browns quarterback Josh McCown to reporters Wednesday when reminded he was 2-14 in his last 16 starts. Edited by Thomas O’Toole ROD SANFORD,LANSING (MICH.) STATE JOURNAL JONES BY JIM BROWN,USA TODAY SPORTS

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