Five different teams from last year's DVOA top eight rank in the bottom half of the league through four weeks of 2014. What can we learn from other teams with similar starts in the past?
06 Sep 2012
compiled by Rivers McCown
Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).
On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.
This week: a special Audibles on the opening night game between the Giants and Cowboys. This Audibles also introduces a brand new member of the FO staff: Peter Koski. Peter worked his way up from the Game Charting project, and we're proud to introduce him as our Game Charting Coordinator this season.
Aaron Schatz: I'm so excited I have to start Audibles three hours early.
Sean McCormick: NFL football on a Wednesday. How vulgar. (Not that I'm complaining.)
Rivers McCown: So, elephant in the room ... what are we expecting from the replacement officials tonight?
Brian McIntyre: Wishful thinking: They screw the pooch so badly we have the regular officials back by Sunday.
Peter Koski: I think the NFL is willing to cut off its nose to spite its face regarding replacement refs. What do I expect, though? I'm hoping for at least one ref to fall down while following a play in a comical manner.
Tom Gower: I'm not optimistic about a quick resolution of this. I want a resolution, too, but I'm just rooting for them to not be a storyline tomorrow morning.
Danny Tuccitto: Hold on, let me get this straight. With Mike taking the reigns of writing content about officiating, I made a personal pledge (to myself) to not talk about any officiating this season in the Audibles thread. I was one of the profligate ref-rippers last year, so just quitting cold turkey seemed like the easiest way to go. Lo and behold, I click into my e-mail to join our first conversation of the year, and we're starting 2012 with a discussion of the refs?!?!
Thanks for being the Bobby Brown to my Whitney Houston, guys.
Rivers McCown: Hopefully I can get compared to Bobby Brown in every thread this year.
Vince Verhei: Hey, if I want to be the Bobby Brown to your Whitney Houston, that's My Prerogative.
Peter Koski: I look forward to the article that describes each Texans defender as a song from the Ghostbusters II soundtrack.
Vince Verhei: I know every time I look at Brian Cushing, I hear Doug E. Fresh lines running through my head.
Rivers McCown: They are eventually going to play football after we're done being bludgeoned by all these 90's singers, right?
Matt Waldman: Thank you TIVO...
(I'm wrapping up a college game session...)
Aaron Schatz: Wow, that Dallas interior line looks fabulous early, doesn't it?
Rivers McCown: Possibly related: the Giants longest run from scrimmage is three yards, halfway through the first quarter.
And there's the first fumble of David Wilson's career.
Our first Mike Smith Award of the year goes to ... Jason Garrett! Come on down!
Aaron Schatz: Fine play call, better execution by Antrel Rolle. I don't mind the obvious heavy "we're going to try stuff this thing down your face" play as long as that's not the only thing you ever run on fourth-and-1. The fullback give meant it developed faster than a handoff to DeMarco Murray. Rolle just beat the thing.
Rivers McCown: Problem is, as Vince noted on Twitter, you've got a brand new center and the interior of your line has been brutal through the first, and you're going straight up the gut?
Aaron Schatz: Ah, yes. True dat.
Danny Tuccitto: This is totally unrelated to the game, but Rivers opened the door. I still can't believe The Price is Right didn't invite Bob Barker to appear on their 40th anniversary special. Probably the biggest snub since Pacino (Godfather II) and Nicholson (Chinatown) lost out to Art Carney (Harry and Tonto) in the 1975 Oscars.
Ben Muth: Bad series for Diehl. Has two protections without help, then gives up a sack and a hurry that forces a flush and a throw away.
Aaron Schatz: Cris Collinsworth: "The hardest thing for Romo is when he gets pressure right in his face." Well, then, that interior line is not going to be a problem AT ALL.
Ben Muth: You know how SyFy makes those ridiculous Sharktapus movies? The next one should be about a offensive line comprised of the Cowboys interior line and the Cardinals tackles.
Rivers McCown: The Giants line isn't exactly covering itself in glory either here, guys. First-and-goal and two runs that go absolutely nowhere.
Danny Tuccitto: It's really early so this may mean nothing in the long run, but you have to wonder if it was wise for a team ranked 27th in power success rate in 2011 to have gotten rid of their two short-yardage backs.
Tom Gower: Tony Romo's passing strategy tonight isn't quite "find Michael Coe, throw ball", but I think it's pretty close to that.
Rivers McCown: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Running Into A Wall Of My Own Offensive Linemen For Two Yards
Danny Tuccitto: At halftime of opening night a year ago, the game already had 45 points on the board. With the way this one's going, I'd put the second half over-under at 4.5.
Peter Koski: Looks like the Cowboys are passing to set up the run. What was Dallas' draw DVOA last year?
Aaron Schatz: 50.3%, sixth in the NFL. They ran more draws than any other team, and it has been that way the last 3-4 years.
And then the Cowboys end the drive with a touchdown to a wide-open Kevin Ogletree. They caught Chase Blackburn there taking a step forward, expecting the scramble. He had that middle zone, and it left Ogletree wide open.
Danny Tuccitto: Looked like Kenny Phillips, for whatever reason, was late getting over for that Bryant deep pass. He was playing deep centerfield on third-and-1, there was no play-action, and the other routes were all short stuff. Maybe the play just developed too quickly. Maybe, given the events of the first half, he was shaded a bit to Coe's side. Couldn't really tell definitively because he was off-screen for most of the sequence. Can't wait or that All-22!
Tom Gower: I noted this on Twitter, but that throw is really a place where Romo's game has developed. I remember the high-scoring Giants-Cowboys season-opener from a few years ago, and Romo really struggled to throw passes outside the numbers and down the field accurately -- he was something like 2-of-11 with a dumpoff if he hadn't rolled to that side. That pass to Bryant, though, was right on the money and, as Danny noted, beat Phillips to the spot.
Vince Verhei: Kevin Ogletree's first half: 5-of-7, 47 yards, one touchdown. Guess Dallas has that third-receiver problem solved.
Real MVP of the half, though, goes to the Cowboys' front seven, which is getting tons of pressure and cutting off anything resembling a run. Sean Lee is making tackles sideline to sideline. DeMarcus Ware is listed with two sacks, two tackles for loss, and two quarterback hits. And a lot of credit goes to Rob Ryan, who is lining up his DL all over the place and giving the Giants a new look on almost every snap.
Danny Tuccitto: Silly question for halftime: Which gap is bigger? Eli and Peyton as quarterbacks or Eli and Peyton as product pushers? I feel like there's a chance Eli could match Peyton's legacy in the public football consciousness one day if he wins a couple more Super Bowls. I don't, however, think he'll ever make a commercial better than "Cut that meat!"
Mike Kurtz: Peyton Manning, upon retirement, should lobby for a position as Official Spokeman for Everything. We would then give him a crap-ton of money to film all the commercials. It would be awesome.
Danny Tuccitto: Romo with a case of Alex Smith syndrome on that short incompletion to Jason Witten on 1st-and-10 with 10:35 left: warp speed pass velocity to a target 10 feet away.
Rivers McCown: So, I see we have found this year's Laurent Robinson.
Danny Tuccitto: On the second Ogletree touchdown, Romo threw another one of those accurate, outside-the-numbers, split-the-corner-and-safety passes Tom was talking about earlier.
Mike Kurtz: It also helped that Ogletree was wide the hell open on that play.
Danny Tuccitto: Well, yeah, there's that.
Aaron Schatz: I don't think Ogletree really did much there. Romo made that play, first with the Audible and second with whatever he did to distract Corey Webster, which had him looking in the backfield and ignoring Ogletree. Ogletree didn't really "beat him" with the double move, Webster wasn't even really trying to keep up with him.
Danny Tuccitto: Chris Collinsworth is becoming the Blake Fielder-Civil to my Amy Winehouse. Must. Not. Comment. On. The. Refs.
Rivers McCown: Awesome tackle by Bryant, helping to keep Murray out of the end zone.
Aaron Schatz: Cowboys offense has really improved with more protection -- more using the tight ends to block, and more Lawrence Vickers on run plays.
Rivers McCown: Looks like that Giants cornerback depth could be a problem. Justin Tryon is getting abused.
Aaron Schatz: I'm looking forward to having the Romo vs. Manning argument over and over again for the next five or six years. And over and over and over.
Rivers McCown: Is that the one where we try to figure out which one of them is elite?
Aaron Schatz: OK, we may need to do some of that fancy all-22 lookin' at this Kevin Ogletree stuff, because I do want to go back and figure out why he was the one guy open all night. It's not like the Cowboys have been picking on one specific cornerback here. They've gone to him covered by Webster, by Coe, by Tryon, and in the middle of a broken zone.
Vince Verhei: Well, it wasn't always Coe and Tryon, but it was often Coe and Tryon, and that's the bottom of the barrel. That's why I think Romo's performance is going to get a little overblown after the game (including in our numbers). He played well, particularly behind a shaky line, but those are some lousy DBs he was picking on, and Dallas had trouble with with the clock all night.
I'm most impressed tonight by the Dallas defense. Giants averaged 8.0 yards per play on their two touchdown drives (one of which came in a nigh-prevent situation) and 3.0 per play the rest of the game. Limiting the Giants to 10.1 yards per completion is a pretty big deal.
69 comments, Last at 10 Sep 2012, 3:07pm by Mello