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Add rush defense to the growing list of Broncos’ problems during two-game losing streak

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Add rush defense to the growing list of Broncos’ problems during two-game losing streak

Attempting to generate a spark for the NFL’s worst running game, the Pittsburgh Steelers lined up for their first play Sunday against the Broncos with one intention. To impose their will.

Six blockers against six defenders. … Multiple Broncos players pushed back or neutralized. … And a gain of six yards for rookie Najee Harris.

The Steelers were off and running — literally.

Pittsburgh rushed 35 times for 147 yards in its 27-19 win over the Broncos, its best rushing total since November 2019.

It was the 19th time in coach Vic Fangio’s 37 games the Broncos have allowed at least 100 yards rushing.

“We didn’t play with enough ‘oomph’ up front,” Fangio said Monday. “Give (Pittsburgh) credit. They blocked us and they have a good back (in Harris). … We’re capable of playing it better than we did.”

The Broncos need their starting front to be more capable to avoid a three-game losing streak.

Nose tackle Mike Purcell and defensive end Shelby Harris are in the first season of new contracts and third-year end Dre’Mont Jones entered the year with high expectations.

The rush defense was solid during the Broncos’ 3-0 start, but playing ahead in the second half meant they weren’t regularly tested. The Giants rushed 20 times for 60 yards, Jacksonville 16 times for 75 yards and the New York Jets 13 times for 43 yards. Entering the Baltimore game, the Broncos ranked second against the run (59.3-yard average).

But the Ravens rushed 30 times for 102 yards and after the Steelers game, the Broncos are sixth stopping the run (85.4 per game).

Pittsburgh entered Sunday averaging 55.3 yards per game and 3.2 yards per carry, both worst in the league.

But the Steelers had 13 rushes of at least five yards. They averaged only 2.9 yards per first-down carry, but had seven attempts gain at least four yards to keep the offense on schedule for second down.

The Broncos had allowed only two explosive carries (gain of at least 12 yards) in Weeks 1-4, but Pittsburgh had three (13, 18 and 20 yards).

So what are Fangio’s options?

Against Baltimore in Week 4, Fangio deployed multiple snaps of a 4-3 front (four down linemen and three linebackers).

Against the Steelers, Fangio used the Broncos’ “penny” package (three linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs) for the first time in the regular season.

“It’s just a little different front mechanics,” Fangio explained last month after using the ‘penny’ package in the preseason finale against the Los Angeles Rams. “You’re taking out one inside linebacker and putting in one big guy. It’s just different for the offense.”

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The Chicago Bears will interview Ed Dodds for their GM vacancy. Here’s what to know about the Indianapolis Colts assistant general manager.

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The Chicago Bears will interview Ed Dodds for their GM vacancy. Here’s what to know about the Indianapolis Colts assistant general manager.

The Chicago Bears have reached out to 13 general manager and 10 coaching candidates for interviews. As they go through the process, we’re looking at each of the prospects.

Ed Dodds will interview for the general manager position Monday, according to NFL Network.

Ed Dodds

Title: Indianapolis Colts assistant general manager

Age: 41

Experience

Dodds joined the Colts as the vice president of player personnel, and they promoted him a year later to assistant general manager. Dodds worked for 10 seasons (2007-16) for the Seattle Seahawks, becoming a senior personnel executive in the final two years. Dodds started in the pro personnel department in 2007 and moved to college scouting in the south and central part of the country, eventually becoming a cross-checker and then a national scout. Dodds broke into the NFL with the Oakland Raiders and spent four seasons with them. In college, Dodds was a student coach at Texas A&M-Kingsville.

You should know

Dodds has a reputation for being a skilled and tireless scout. He was considered a valuable member of the Seahawks and helped build two Super Bowl rosters while working for GM John Schneider, who did not want to lose him to the Colts. As the right-hand man for GM Chris Ballard in Indianapolis, Dodds’ name has surfaced in January in recent years. The Carolina Panthers and Detroit Lions interviewed him for their GM jobs last year. Dodds declined an interview with the Cleveland Browns two years ago.

The buzz

Dodds’ name has gained momentum only in recent years, and it seems as if it’s only a matter of time before he lands an opportunity to become a GM.

What’s been said

“He’s unbelievable when it comes to communicating with coaches and seeing the fit of the player,” Ballard told the Athletic. “Being able to watch the tape and know, ‘that guy is going to fit.’ Ed’s a huge asset to us. He’s pretty good at his job.”

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The Chicago Bears will interview Matt Eberflus for their coaching vacancy. Here’s what to know about the Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator.

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The Chicago Bears will interview Matt Eberflus for their coaching vacancy. Here’s what to know about the Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator.

The Chicago Bears have reached out to at least 13 general manager and 10 coaching candidates for interviews. As they go through the process, we’re looking at each of the prospects.

Matt Eberflus will interview for the head coaching position Monday, according to NFL Network.

Matt Eberflus

Age: 51

Title: Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator

Experience

Eberflus has been a Colts coordinator for four seasons. Before that, he spent six seasons coaching linebackers for the Dallas Cowboys after a two-year stint in the same role with the Cleveland Browns. Eberflus also had 17 years of college coaching experience on his resume at Toledo (1992-2000) and Missouri (2001-08).

You should know

Eberflus finished third in 2018 in the NFL’s Assistant Coach of the Year voting. Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio won the honor that season with Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale finishing as the runner-up. This season, Eberflus oversaw a Colts defense that led the AFC in takeaways (33) while finishing in the top 10 in the league in points allowed (21.5 ppg). The Colts had three defenders named to the initial Pro Bowl rosters last month — defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, linebacker Darius Leonard and cornerback Kenny Moore II.

The buzz

Players laud Eberflus for his communication skills and leadership style. He is known as a detail-oriented coach with a knack for connecting with players and fellow coaches. Eberflus has earned a reputation for being able to blend his strategic insight with the personnel he has to work with, loading his defense with only as much as players can handle.

What’s been said

”I would fully endorse and support anyone who ever called and asked me about ‘Flus as a man, as a leader and as a coach. He is a worthy candidate. Obviously I don’t want to lose him. But I’m happy for him and support him.” — Colts coach Frank Reich, when Eberflus became a head coaching candidate last year

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Tinx and the Age of the Authentic Influencer

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Tinx and the Age of the Authentic Influencer

This story was initially published in The Creators — a newsletter about the people powering the creator economy. Get it sent to your inbox every Saturday here.

I recently spoke with 31-year-old TikToker Christina Najjar (@tinx, 1.5M TikTok) who dishes out everything from dating advice (women apparently date like venture capitalists while men date like stockbrokers) to “rich mom” starter packs to random thoughts on Rihanna and her favorite foods. Tinx, who has built a brand around her lifestyle and tidbits of wisdom, talks money and power with us and explains how influencers don’t just “sit around playing on our phones all day.”

This interview has been edited for content and clarity.

No More Bad Marketing

Historically influencers have been willing to promote just about anything. Kim Kardashian notoriously appeared in a 2011 Super Bowl ad for Skechers Shape-Ups, chunky exercise sneakers that were supposed to help you lose weight, as well as tone your butt and abs. Skechers ended up having to pay $40 million to the Federal Trade Commission to settle a suit for deceiving customers. More recently, in November, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro sued influencer Dana Chanel for allegedly deceiving consumers by posting about her own companies that ripped them off.   

Tinx says that’s changing. 

“Audiences are extremely smart now,” she says. “So they’re not going to accept just random partnerships that don’t make sense. They can spot the BS, so to speak, from a mile away.”

Tinx, for example, loves Chipotle. She started talking about how much she enjoyed the Mexican food chain on social media organically and the brand took notice, landing her a partnership where she even had a “Tinx Bowl” featured on the Chipotle app for 45 days.  

“All of the content felt so fresh and original and it was just in my mind a perfect case study for how influencer marketing should go,” she says.   

Tinx chooses not to participate in affiliate marketing, where brands pay influencers to promote their products and get paid a percentage of the sales they bring in. Instead, she says she works with brands “in a more long term, strategic way.” 

“When I first started out, I was coming at this career from an interesting vantage point because I’d worked at multiple jobs including in corporate America in my 20s and I told my manager I think that the age of the influencer who will just promote anything for a quick buck is over,” she says. 

How Tinx Got on TikTok

Tinx always wanted to make content, but she didn’t get her start on social media. Her parents, both from the Midwest, raised her and her brother in London where she attended an all-girls school, was exposed to theatre, and gained a “global perspective.” After studying English at Stanford University, Tinx worked in Gap’s retail management program and went to graduate school at Parsons for fashion journalism. She spent her 20s writing lifestyle stories as a freelancer until she started making TikToks during the pandemic. 

“It was all to do with the power of storytelling and the power of connecting with an audience through creativity,” she says of her transition from journalist to an influencer. “I started making digital content during the pandemic like so many of us in May of 2020 and, immediately, I knew it was gonna be my life’s passion.”

Now, Tinx prides herself on her mostly-female fanbase, to whom she dispenses “big sister” advice. Early on, Tinx says she got caught up with views and likes, but she’s learned that audiences care about authenticity, especially during the pandemic.  

“The things that the audience values in content creators and influencers have changed,” she says. “It used to be, ‘Oh, do they have washboard abs and are they perfect, on a trip to Bora Bora with their perfect boyfriend?’ Now it’s like: Are they authentic, are they real, what value can they add?” 

Taking Influencers Seriously

The most successful influencers are flooded with comments from haters who tell them to “get a real job.” When TikTok mogul Addison Rae’s account got “permanently banned” in October, she Tweeted a screenshot of the notice from the app with the caption “Well time to get a job.” Her account was reinstated hours later. The 21-year-old made an estimated $8.5 million on TikTok in 2021, released a single that has over 28 million streams on Spotify, and co-starred in the Netflix movie “He’s All That,” a play on the 1999 film “She’s All That.” It’s safe to say Addison Rae has more jobs than most of us.  

One of Tinx’s good friends is Emily Mariko, a 29-year-old influencer who recently went viral for posting videos of her making salmon bowls, which might seem frivolous, but people apparently want to see them. 

“It’s not just that she’s filming herself cooking,” Tinx says. “It’s the editing, it’s the filming, it’s the whole concept. When people think that content creators, it’s just so easy for them to make the content, that means they’re doing their job right because it looks effortless but it’s a ton of work.”  

While skeptics might not understand the power of influencers, Tinx knows they are here to stay: “Creators are the mouthpiece from brand to audience, they understand what’s interesting about a brand or product to an audience, sometimes better than the brand can know themselves.”

Do you have questions about the creator economy? Have you quit your job to focus on being a creator? Have you quit your job for a different reason?  Please email me at creators@observermedia.com.

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