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30 Sep 2013

Audibles at the Line: Week 4

compiled by Rivers McCown and Andrew Potter

This year, we have a new format for our Monday morning feature Audibles at the Line, combining our Twitter feeds with our e-mail discussion. First, we're replacing our usual back-and-forth with some longer-form dissection of each game that at least one of us watches in depth. Second, every game that we find time for will also have a selection of tweets from us and a few reader tweets we found particularly insightful. To follow these tweets live on Sunday, or to contribute your own thoughts or a question for the FO staff, you can use hashtag #foaud. We discussed the new format in this post.

On Monday, we will compile a digest of tweets and e-mails to produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed, not entirely grammatically correct, and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

Audibles is still being written from our point of view, meaning we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a 49ers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching, just to ensure that Audibles covers every game. Audibles is often written from a fan perspective as much as an analyst perspective; in order to properly accuse FO writers of bias, please check our FAQ.

Baltimore Ravens 20 at Buffalo Bills 23

Tweets

@fhyrew: Fouts just said Manuel was "doomed" on a Suggs sack. Maybe wanna save that call for Dumervil?

Aaron Schatz: I want a gif of Aaron Williams' post-interception dance in tomorrow's Audibles SO BADLY.

@fhyrew: About ready to declare this the Ravens' annual road egg-laying against an inferior team.

@GFarri1: Marlon Brown boxing out 2 defenders and holding on. Just no defense against that size. Hit him and hope he drops it.

@AMSportsLive1: Manny Lawson came in totally unblocked on that sack of Flacco. Ben Muth must be having a conniption.

@pchicola: Upset watch alert. Both BUF and CIN pulling the upsets...

Andrew Potter: Did I hear that right? Ravens' first running play of second HALF with 5mins left in Q4?

Aaron Schatz: Edge Manuel just almost handed game to Baltimore, juggling ball on read option keeper. WTF?

Andrew Potter: Kiko Alonso just caught Flacco's FIFTH interception of the game. Alonso's second pick. Great diving catch to pick it.

Scott Kacsmar: Tony Romo's so much better at throwing 5 INT against Buffalo than Flacco.

Aaron Schatz: Kiko Alonso making his case for DROY - I mentioned him playing really well even back in Week 1 vs. Pats. INT on Flacco ends game

Aaron Schatz: So far, it looks very clear that Joe Flacco is still the inconsistent QB of regular seasons past, not the awesome Flacco of January.

Arizona Cardinals 13 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10

Tweets

Tom Gower: The first two touchdown passes of Sunday come from Mike Glennon & Matt Cassel, because of course they do.

Vince Verhei: Man, Mike Glennon is REALLY tall and skinny.

@AMSportsLive1: Hell of a pick from Johnthan Banks. Read Palmer's eyes all the way and timed his jump perfectly.

Andrew Potter: Lost a bit in all of the QB nonsense: this Buccaneers defense is really good.

@MilkmanDanimal: Awful Palmer throw under heavy pressure, wings it at Fitzgerald and Revis picks it off. That's the kind of bad throw Tampa QBs make.

@MilkmanDanimal: 11 minutes left, Glennon has already thrown the ball 35 times. Way to protect your rookie QB, Schiano.

@MilkmanDanimal: Josh Freeman on his worst day would not have thrown that ball to Patrick Peterson with 3 minutes left in the game.

Aaron Schatz: Apparently, nobody bothered to tell Mike Glennon about what happened in Houston five minutes ago.

Aaron Schatz: Then Larry Fitz makes Revis his bitch with an awesomely tight post corner post move. TD, tied game.

@MilkmanDanimal: Glennon inexplicably threw at Patrick Peterson three times within the last 3:30. Two picks. Simply terrible decisions.

Longform

Vince Verhei: I just want to say that for the one half I saw, Mike Glennon looks exactly like what the scouting reports said: very tall, very skinny, and very prone to throwing balls that have a good chance of being intercepted. By the way, I watched the first half, not the second.

Pittsburgh Steelers 27 "at" Minnesota Vikings 34 (London)

Tweets

Aaron Schatz: Clearly MIN saw something on tape about PIT's defense playing off WR early; two quick passes to an open Jerome Simpson for 1st downs.

Scott Kacsmar: @FO_ASchatz When you say tape, I think you literally mean VCR tapes as Steelers have done this for LeBeau's last decade.

Aaron Schatz: @FO_ScottKacsmar Yeah, but still, teams don't often start with such QUICK passes right off the bat. Those were like 1-step drops.

Aaron Schatz: On one hand, it's ridiculous that CBS is showing two 0-3 teams as their main 1pm game because it is in London. On the other hand, that's the game I'm watching, so what does that say about me?

@AMSportsLive1: Nice job by Cordarrelle Patterson to break up that Ike Taylor INT. Very underrated aspect of a receiver's job.

@AMSportsLive1: Awful tackling by the Steelers on that Jennings TD run. Very poor angles.

@matthew_carley: Pittsburgh can't tackle, Jennings makes entire steeler defense miss, on the sideline Ponder throws his arms in the air and misses.

@GFarri1: Tomlin won't be happy about rookie Bell flipping into the endzone down 10-0.

Aaron Schatz: Steelers just blew another couple tackles in a TD run by Peterson. Their tackling is worse than their OL today.

@antonio_arias: Adrian Peterson killed it - que corridón de 60 yardas

Aaron Schatz: Loved PIT play call. They had been running WR screens all day, then just faked one on 3-12 to go downfield.

Scott Kacsmar: How you know it's not your year: Cassel fumbles and Vikings still recover for a first down on third down.

Aaron Schatz: Josh Robinson not having a good day. He's given up a number of catches and just got hit with a huge DPI after A.Brown beat him deep.

Aaron Schatz: Great blocking on AP TD. RG Fusco pushes Hood way over, creates big hole, then hits 2nd level while Loadholt pushes Hood even further

Aaron Schatz: Aha. Looks like somebody reminded Everson Griffen that he is in a contract year. Strip sack, Vikings win.

Longform

Aaron Schatz: I thought this game was a great demonstration of each team's strengths and weaknesses. And it may have been the best game the NFL has sent to London so far, even though the poor British fans did have to witness some pathetic tackling by the Steelers defense. A game like this shows you why the phrase "Any Given Sunday" exists. Even two 0-3 teams have some major strengths: Antonio Brown, Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, Troy Polamalu, to name four guys who looked really good.

Of course, no team wins with only superstars. You also have to have solid players in between, guys who do their jobs well even if they don't get a lot of attention. If I ever do an all-star team of "guys who do their jobs well but don't get a lot of attention," Chad Greenway is going to be on that team. (This team of course would have no quarterback, because there is no quarterback who doesn't get a lot of attention. Well, maybe a backup quarterback, like Tarvaris Jackson or Kyle Orton or someone.)

As for the weaknesses... The Steelers really don't have the depth they have had in so many recent years. You could see that in secondary when the Vikings went with extra receivers, or in the play of Vince Williams, the sixth-round rookie forced into the lineup for the injured Larry Foote. And of course, the offensive line. The Steelers offensive line didn't look half-bad today on run blocks, and I also thought Le'veon Bell had a couple plays where he looked really good at following his blocks and patiently waiting for holes. But oy, the Steelers line on pass plays. They have to figure out a way to get Mike Adams off the left side. Rookie struggles are one thing, but by the second year, a highly-drafted left tackle has got to be better than this.

The biggest Vikings weakness is the secondary. Josh Robinson was abysmal today, and gave up tons of catches (particularly to Antonio Brown) and a huge pass interference penalty. The Vikings pass rush looked better today, though, as did the weaker parts of their offensive line. I think Matt Cassel made a very good case to replace Christian Ponder permanently. Ponder can't hit the long pass, and Cassel did a much better job on those today. You want to have a quarterback here who can go deep when the opponent brings their safeties up to stop Peterson.

One other note: The past Wembley games were known for really messy fields, lots of slipping. Didn't see that today.

Scott Kacsmar: I thought Ben Roethlisberger's pocket presence was exceptional today -- he was avoiding a lot of sacks early, but was not able to find many receivers on those scrambles. Bell's first touchdown was a very nice run and he finished the game healthy (to my knowledge), so that's a positive debut for him. But the red-zone offense continues to struggle and that ultimately killed the team today. Throwing a fade to a split-out wide Heath Miller is just not the way to go about things. What happened to Derek Moye after his fade score in Cincinnati? The short wideouts are just not much of a threat down there and obviously the pressure on Roethlisberger on the final drive was too much to overcome. Still, you like to see him go down throwing instead of fumbling in the pocket. I also do not understand the spikes on that last drive with over a minute left. I've seen Roethlisberger do this enough to the point where it must be his decision and not the coaching staff.

Defensively, it was one of the poorest games I've seen from Pittsburgh. Way too many missed tackles allowed for those big plays to Greg Jennings and Adrian Peterson. Ike Taylor not only failed to complete a few interceptions, but he had a big missed tackle on Peterson's run. You just know it's not your year when you force Matt Cassel to fumble, but the ball still gets recovered by Minnesota for a first down on third down no less. The lack of turnovers continues to be the big story, forcing a shaky offense to drive long fields and be nearly perfect, which it just cannot be right now when you have mismatches like Mike Adams against anyone.

Now at 0-4 for the first time since 1968, I can officially say this is the worst Pittsburgh team I have ever watched. They really need this early bye week.

New York Giants 7 at Kansas City Chiefs 31

Tweets

@ptmovieguy: Back-to-Back fumbles in Chiefs-Giants game. All NY games this seasons will be accompanied by Yakety Sax.

@pchicola: I'm just switching over from CHI-DET to NYG-KC. Can anyone tell me what's been the story of this game so far?

Andrew Potter: Eli on a deep ball finds a wide open Will Demps. Not a Giants receiver on the screen when Demps catches it.

Andrew Potter: Dwayne Bowe failed his quarterback on Rolle's interception for the Giants. The type of unlucky pick Manning usually throws.

Ben Jones: Why aren't the Giants bringing pressure on punts? Colquitt was shaken up on a block earlier, and they haven't tested him since.

Andrew Potter: That Dexter McCluster punt return touchdown was a thing of beauty.

Aaron Schatz: Watch NYG. Notice what happens to an offense w/great skill players and terrible OL. Now prepare to watch ATL play NE tonight.

Aaron Schatz: If Giants suffer their usual November decline, will they be worse than Jaguars? Egads.

Indianapolis Colts 37 at Jacksonville Jaguars 3

Tweets

@AMSportsLive1: Andrew Luck steps up into the pocket, dodges two Jaguars, and runs for seventeen yards. Pocket awareness is unbelievable.

Peter Koski: So, you trade for Trent Richardson and have 1st&Goal on JAC 4 and you pass three times?

@RyanCrinnigan: Luck seems to tip off play action in the red zone with his straight-arm handoff fake.

Scott Kacsmar: Donald Brown with a 50-yard run. Richardson sitting at 53 yards on 19 carries as a Colt. Just saying...

@AMSportsLive: Jags have gone thirty straight first half possessions without scoring a TD.

Rivers McCown: Jaguars result should surprise no one. You can argue they were better off when they were an expansion team. Testament to Gene Smith.

@Shake1n1bake: Pretty rough 1st half for Andrew Luck. If not for a TD for INT and Donald Brown breaking a 50 yard run this would be a hideous game

Scott Kacsmar: Colts are looking for back-to-back road wins by 20+ points for first time since 2009.

Aaron Schatz: Worst 0-4 team in DVOA history is 2001 Washington at -71.6%. Jacksonville will definitely challenge that.

@Shake1n1bake: I feel bad for Gabbert. It's not like he's played well today, but all three of his picks were off his WRs hands, tipped right to a DB

Scott Kacsmar: I checked with Bill Polian and Trent Richardson's 3.0 YPC is still okay because 3+3 = 3rd & 4 and Andrew Luck can convert those too.

Seattle Seahawks 23 at Houston Texans 20 (OT)

Tweets

Peter Koski: Ben Tate with a nice run up the middle v SEA. Tate has looked as good as I've seen him in the NFL this year.

Rivers McCown: Andre Johnson definitely getting some plays off early as they try to compensate for the shin.

Rivers McCown: Seattle playing a little more zone than I thought they would early.

Peter Koski: Whitney Mercilus, living up to (exceeding?) his SackSEER projection for Houston

Rivers McCown: Texans are taking more deep shots this week. That's a step in the right direction.

Rivers McCown: Greg Jones had a nice (illegal) block to spring Arian Foster on his touchdown reception

Rivers McCown: Seattle's offensive line is playing a Jacksonville-quality game today. Marshawn Lynch has 60 yards just before halftime. Just about every one of them his own doing.

Tom Gower: Not a surprise, but today is a good example of how good Matt Schaub can be when he isn't facing pressure & how bad he is when he is

@CyrisJonfs: Announcer points out Texans 44-5 when they rush more than 30 times...still work to do.

Rivers McCown: So many "Brian Cushing wasn't on the field" tweets in a row that I think we need to consider how many Middle Linebacker Wins he has

@AMSportsLive: Wait, the Seahawks have rallied from a 20-3 deficit? I thought they weren't built to come from behind!

Tom Gower: The Seahawks just showed why you should sit on the bootleg against the Texans. Clemons with pressure, Sherman beats Daniels, pick-6

@robbbbbb: The Force is with us. Perfect blitz on the rollout, and Richard Sherman jumps the route for the pick-6.

@MilkmanDanimal: Considering the score and time left in the game, that Schaub pick is one of the singly worst INTs I have ever seen.

@AMSportsLive1: Yep. That's Matt Schaub for ya. He had to toss that one up for grabs because taking a sack would have made too much sense.

Longform

Rivers McCown: I'll be longer later, after the binge drinking ... three consecutive games with pick-sixes. Three. All while watching the quarterback I wanted the Texans to take in the 2012 draft spend the entire second half avoiding sacks left and right.

It's not a fun time.

Sean McCormick: Now is the time for Houston to trade for Mark Sanchez. He'll clean that right up...

Tom Gower: When Matt Schaub had time to throw, you saw why Ron Jaworski would put him in the top ten in his quarterback countdown. He repeatedly found open space in the middle of the field, often to tight ends. Andre Johnson also did a good job of winning his one-on-one battle against Richard Sherman, and the Texans took a 20-3 lead. Seattle really did almost nothing offensively in the first half as their makeshift offensive line was terrorized by J.J. Watt.

Matt Schaub under pressure, though, was a completely different story, as it so often is. This was true from the first drive of the game, when Chris Clemons beat Ryan Harris (filling in for an injured Duane Brown) to the end of regulation (as much as I say). The worst moment was his back-breaking pick-6 to Richard Sherman. The Texans were in the four-minute drill and called a bootleg on third down. The Seahawks stayed at home, which they did a couple times, and Schaub chucked up an off-balance throw Sherman beat Owen Daniels to and then took to the house. Russell Wilson's escapability (if you can stand that word) was a key part of Seattle's comeback, as he made plays, often with his legs, when he was pressured and flushed behind that makeshift offensive line.

If you want a theme for this game, it's that owner Bob McNair criticized Houston's mental toughness and resilience in the offseason, and those are still issues. The late defensive struggles were aided by the loss of Brian Cushing, and Ed Reed's leadership skills were not much in evidence. They didn't show up like, say, his attempts to tackle Marshawn Lynch, who had his normal share of hard running, did.

Vince Verhei: I'm not even sure what to say about this game. The Seahawks were missing three offensive linemen, including clearly the best two, against the best defender in the league and his friends. They were predictably impotent for a half. Marshawn Lynch had a couple of big plays, and they got a big defensive pass interference call, but otherwise it was a string of random Houston linemen meeting Seattle ballcarriers in the backfield ad nauseam. The second half improvement, such as it was, was mostly a result ofWilson's mobility, either by design or by necessity. They never really got unhinged, and had some bad turnovers, but somehow they managed make more big plays with fewer mistakes than the opposition.

The defense played a lot of soft zone in the first half. I expect to see the words "short middle" next to the majority of Matt Schaub's completions. Garrett Graham's touchdown came on a seam route against what looked like Cover 3. On the other hand, it also resulted in defenders pointing and shrugging at each other, so who knows. In the second half, they switched to a lot more blitzing and man coverages, and that's when Houston started to have serious problems.

Still, though, you look at the box score, and you see Houston with enormous edges in plays (88 to 58), total offense (476 to 270), and first downs (29 to 15), and considering the were only -1 in turnovers, and it doesn't even make sense that the game was close.

Rivers McCown: I used my press box seat to focus on Richard Sherman and Ed Reed. I think I'd score the Sherman battle about 60/40 to Andre Johnson when he was on the field, but the Texans mostly kept Johnson away from Sherman. I was perplexed by how often Seattle was using zone early in this game when they clearly had the horses to go man-to-man with Houston's skill position players.

As for Reed, it was hard to tell what kind of difference he was actually making because Wilson was under siege. I'd be watching Reed and then the play would be over in the backfield before he had a chance to do anything. That tackling though ... he definitely dogs it on plays when he can. He's smart about angles, but that's about the only thing working in his favor right now.

In the grander scheme of things, separating Schaub from Kubiak is a problem. Sherman said after the game that the Seattle scout team ran the exact same play the pick-six came on in practice on Friday, and he picked that one off too. I'll be honest here and say I thought Schaub would play worse than he actually did in this game. I think part of that was Gary Kubiak accepting that the Texans would need to open up the passing game more. But as soon as the 20-3 lead was in hand (and Ben Tate, you do not escape blame for that fumble), he morphed right back into generic Kubiak land, replete with checkdowns on third-and-long and plays the defense sees coming a mile away.

Being a Texans fan is a very strange state right now. These are all problems I saw coming a mile away heading into the season, but the defense and run game are still good enough to carry the team to victory if Captain Pick-Six over there stops sending games to overtime. This is year eight of Gary Kubiak. To illuminate how long that is: Ron Rivera has been on the hot seat for almost a year and you can almost fit three Rivera tenures into Kubiak's. I've reached the point of learned helplessness when it comes to this team's weaknesses. They stem from the head coach and the quarterback. Even though they got smacked around today, watching a team like the Bears make a bold hire with Trestman and fix their offensive line is really empowering. ...And then you realize it took Bob McNair five years to quit David Carr.

I need another drink.

Cincinnati Bengals 6 at Cleveland Browns 17

Tweets

@AMSportsLive1: Josh Gordon is quickly turning into one of the best WRs in the game. Great acceleration, fantastic hands, and can outjump Cbs.

Andrew Potter: Dalton just underthrew Sanu on a flea flicker where the WR was wide open. Bad throw bailed out by DPI when the corner clattered Sanu.

Andrew Potter: Following the underthrow to Sanu, Dalton's lucky not to be picked twice. Fourth-and-1 around the 11, Bengals go for it but BJGE fails.

@AMSportsLive1: Hoyermania has overshadowed how good the Browns' front seven has been.

Andrew Potter: Only seen clips of CIN@CLE on RZ, but boy does it look like Dalton's had a rough first half. Missing throws, taking sacks. Concerning.

@THEOSU7: Buster Skrine just flagged for unnecessary roughness on a player obviously out of the play for hitting... the intended receiver

@graham020: That Cleveland trade looking like a good move. They could be a force next year if they draft well. They probably won't though

Aaron Schatz: We can talk all about how CLE has shown they don't need a big name RB, but bigger question: What happened to Bengals today?

Andrew Potter: @FO_ASchatz What I saw of it, Dalton had a very poor game. Missing throws, lucky not to be picked several times, hard time in pocket.

Longform

Rob Weintraub: Just a horrendous showing by the Bengals offensive line in particular and the overall offense in general. On several plays, half the unit went one and the other half went the other way. There was zero inside push, Cleveland maintained pressure without blitzing, and the Bengals sustained zero rhythm all game. Center Kyle Cook had a few bad snaps, including one that became a fumble recovered by the Browns, and another crucial one that the Bengals recovered. Cleveland also stuffed the Bengals on fourth-and-1 inside the 10-yard line, which was the game in a nutshell. The Browns were way more physical from start to finish. Bengals receivers could not find any openings, and got punished when they did. Joe Haden shut down A.J. Green, got in his head early and stayed there. Andy Dalton didn't help by continuing to be inaccurate with deep throws, but in fairness he was under duress. Kiki Mingo was very active off the edge.

Brian Hoyer will get all sorts of love now that he's 2-0, but he's only marginally better than Weeden, and can't throw it as long. He is poised, and effective on medium-range touch throws. Cameron is so frigging huge, but with excellent balance and footwork, that he'll make Hoyer look good. But let's not make Hoyer into anything more than what he is -- a marginal QB. The Bengals were down two secondary starters, and a rotation cornerback, and it's not like Hoyer took much advantage. With luck, he'll win a few too many game for the Browns to draft a true franchise quarterback.

I fully expected a hangover game from Cincy, and got it, in spades. I would have liked to see the team get beyond this kind of thing, but looking around the league, it's not like anybody else save Denver is immune from it.

Rivers McCown: I think the real issue in Cleveland's improvement is that Josh Gordon is back in the lineup. There's a big difference between having one good NFL receiver (Jordan Cameron) and having two.

Chicago Bears 32 at Detroit Lions 40

Tweets

@AMSportsLive1: What's worse; Jim Schwartz not going for it on 4th and 1 from the 6 or the announcers effusively praising him for it?

@pchicola: @MattBowen41 @Andy_Benoit CHI sticks to 2-deep shells. DET countering by going Bush-heavy early on. Pick ur poise approach.

@pchicola: On Bush TD, it was the 4th time today DJ Williams got sucked to the wrong hole and Briggs got man-handled on backside

Andrew Potter: That's the Reggie Bush we thought we were getting out of USC. 37 yard TD run, Detroit crushing Chicago.

Andrew Potter: Stafford misses open WR on deep route with 30s left in Q2. Next play, strip-sacked and CHI recovers. 1F/D, FG. 10pt swing in 30secs.

Scott Kacsmar: When I talk about Jay Cutler padding his 4QC/GWD record by not keeping it close enough, today is a good example of that.

@MilkmanDanimal: That fumble was Cutler's fault; held the ball too long and very loose and let Suh have enough time to get to him.

@AMSportsLive1: Well, it looks like this is just one of those games for Jay Cutler. He has at least two or three of them every year.

Tom Gower: I shouldn't be, b/c it's clear right move, but I'm a bit surprised & happy Marc Trestman is going for 2 down 18 with 4 mins to play.

New York Jets 13 at Tennessee Titans 38

Tweets

@AMSportsLive: Now that Guy Whimper and J'Marcus Webb have been put out of their misery, is Vlad Ducasse the worst starting OL in the league?

Tom Gower: Big break #2 for the Titans as Geno Smith coughs the ball up and they start inside the 30.

@AMSportsLive1: "Turnovers and penalties are killing the New York Jets." Why do I feel like I've heard that before?

@calesgreen: What's with the terrible camera man for the Jets-Titans game? Shouldn't the guy with the ball be on screen?

Vince Verhei:Locker throws up a lob to a well-covered WR. Never should have been thrown. Hunter reels it in for TD. #badprocess #goodresults

Tom Gower: 3 turnovers, 3 conversions into 21 points. Walls should've tackled Hunter there & taken DPI.

Tom Gower: One of these games it will matter that the Titans are giving many carries to an RB with a low-40s success rate averaging 3 ypc

@PigskinLover: Watching the Titans give to Chris Johnson repeatedly for no gain helps me grasp why they would be the team to overpay S. Greene

Vince Verhei: Botched screen play for Jets turns into sack, maybe a safety (challenge pending). I think Geno is getting worse on this team.

Aaron Schatz: @FO_VVerhei I believe QB getting worse because he's on a bad team is called "David Carr disease."

@calesgreen: Jets get cute on 4th and 1, run counter pitch, get stuffed. 4th and 1 should be a dive, a sneak, or Spider 2 Y Banana.

Tom Gower: Geno Smith mistake #4, #Titans touchdown #4.

Vince Verhei: TEN gets pressure up middle. Geno tries to tuck ball behind his back. Leads to sack-fumble-TD. He's getting worse in front of me.

Tom Gower: Recommendation for the Jets: stop calling screens from the 20, because Geno keeps retreating when they result in pressure.

Tom Gower: Another break for the Titans, another touchdown. Like the Lions game last year. When it's your day, I guess it's your day.

Longform

Tom Gower: Geno Smith intercepted, Titans start at the Jets 18, converted for a touchdown. Geno Smith fumble, Titans start at the Jets 26, converted for a touchdown. Geno Smith intercepted, Titans start at the Jets 46, converted for a touchdown. That's your 24-6 halftime lead and about all you need to know in this game aside from Jake Locker's injury.

Vince Verhei: The most surprising thing to me about Jake Locker's improvement this season is that he's become an entirely different player than I expected. Watching him pass through the University of Washington and into the NFL, I saw a big-armed, mobile, mistake-prone quarterback and figured his ceiling was something like a more mobile Jay Cutler. Instead, for four games, he's become a take-what-the-defense-gives-you, keep-the-chains-moving, efficient checkdown game manager guy. Of course I expected him to be a complete bust in the pros, so any improvement is a good thing.

Rivers McCown: Has he really? I didn't get a chance to watch this game, but that's not consistent with the guy I watched the last three weeks. This is going to be a fascinating watch when I go through the AFC South Tuesday.

(Addendum: Locker will be out four to eight weeks with a hip injury.)

Washington Redskins 24 at Oakland Raiders 14

Tweets

Andrew Potter: RZ switches live to WAS game. First clip, OAK ball carrier breaking Skins tackles. Typical Skins D. Play 2, Flynn-Moore deep. Ditto.

Andrew Potter: RZ switches to show Holliday return TD. By time they get back to OAK, OAK has scored. Skins defense playing true to form so far.

Scott Kacsmar: Redskins just ran the league's favorite new play. "The Avery"

Andrew Potter: With the way the WAS defense is playing, I'd be going for 4th-and-goal from the 2 without slightest second thought. 14-3 OAK now.

@toxic: Fake punt in Oakland was almost too easy. Any play engineered to make Washington complete an open-field tackle is going to succeed.

@ptmovieguy: After "gutsy" fake-puntrickeration earlier in drive, Raiders end up punting on 4-n-2 in WAS' territory. Touchback.

Scott Kacsmar: RGIII's awareness on that 4th-and-3 play might be close to 0.

@toxic: Paulson's fumble = still no first downs in the 2nd half of OAK/WAS. And these teams aren't exactly defensive powerhouses.

@ptmovieguy: WAS tackling as advertised. Raiders LOS dumpoff to R. Jennings, breaks 3 tackles to gain 10 yards for first down.

@ptmovieguy: RG III just pulled a Houdini vs untouched blitzer, dumps off to Helu, who hurdles a Raiders defender. One play later, TD.

Tom Gower: Interesting that Raiders went for it on 4th down down 2 scores with less than 4 minutes to play. I know it was 4&1, but still, kick.

Philadelphia Eagles 20 at Denver Broncos 52

Tweets

Ben Jones: The eagles can't go for fg's in the red zone. They should go for it on 4th and 4.

Scott Kacsmar: Trindon Holliday: the new best return man in the NFL.

@AMSportsLive1: Can we start mentioning Trindon Holliday in the same breath as Dante Hall, Devin Hester, and Eric Metcalf?

@pchicola: The key for PHI will be to stick with the running game, no matter how far behind they fall. Otherwise, they are doomed...

Ben Jones: Through no fault of their own the Eagles stopped the Broncos.

Aaron Schatz: I'm not seeing much of Welker getting involved in the DEN offense today. Is that Brandon Boykin playing well?

@PerlStalker: @FO_ASchatz Welker is leading Den in catches and yards but Den's been in 2TE sets a lot, too.

@pchicola: @FO_ASchatz For some reason, Welker wasn't on the field during the no-huddle series which lead to Moreno TD's.

Danny Tuccitto: did chip kelly really just decide to punt on 4th-and-6 from the DEN 36?

Ben Jones: With the Eagles down by 15, they shouldn't settle for anything less than a TD unless there is a long way to go

Scott Kacsmar: Streak's alive. 21 consecutive games scoring 10+ points in 2nd half for Denver.

Scott Kacsmar: Aikman highlighting Chris Clark's block. Could Ryan Clady have done any better?

Scott Kacsmar: This performance hasn't had the obligatory Denver fumble yet.

Scott Kacsmar: Wes Welker has 6 TDs, or as many as he had on 118 catches last season.

@PerlStalker: Dear Eagles, Thanks for playing. Signed, Denver.

Longform

Scott Kacsmar: Here's what I love about Denver: in a league where most teams are up and down from game to game (or quarter to quarter), they play at the same level consistently each week. Everyone expected Peyton Manning to slaughter Philadelphia's defense, and that's exactly what happened. The few stops were more about Denver stopping itself than any plays made by the Eagles. Trindon Holliday continues to impress as a return specialist. The defense continues to play well without Champ Bailey and Von Miller. Philadelphia didn't have a ton of mistakes like against Kansas City, but it was not a productive day by any means for Chip Kelly's offense. I said before last week we could see Kelly take the quickest fall from grace since 2009 Josh McDaniels. At 1-3, that praise for his tempo in Washington feels like a season ago. You have to be able to coach defense too. Surprising that 52 points is the Denver franchise record. It could have been worse if the Eagles made it more competitive.

Aaron Schatz: Well, it's not just about *coaching* defense. You also have to have the players, and they don't really have the players -- in the secondary, at least.

As for the Broncos, their ridiculous outlier performance on third downs seems to finally be fading. They allowed conversions on 8-of-16 third downs today. But the defense is still pretty good on first and second down, and the offense is so good that this defense only needs to be average for the Broncos to easily be the best team in the AFC.

Scott Kacsmar: The Philadelphia defense was fine last year before the bye week, but Juan Castillo was an easy scapegoat ("hey, this guy's an offensive line coach, he can't possibly coach defense, and we need to deflect blame away for the 17 turnovers by the offense!) so they got rid of him. Enter "The Todd Bowles Movement" and the worst six-game stretch of pass defense in NFL history, and the Eagles have never really recovered on that side of the ball.

Dallas Cowboys 21 at San Diego Chargers 30

Tweets

Cian Fahey: Terrance Williams continues to impress in limited time. Makes sense why trade rumors exist RE Miles Austin

@AMSportsLive1: Great TD catch from Dez Bryant. Insane athleticism required to go up and get that ball; Dez is one of about five WRs who can do it.

Scott Kacsmar: Blessed are the sick, children shiver ... watching Philip Rivers. (Props to those who get the reference).

@AlvaroIM77: 3rd and 1. SD comes out in empty backfield shotgun. No one bats an eye. This is today's #NFL

@pchicola: In-series adjustment by SD. After Witten burned Butler twice (completion and PI), they are hi-low'ing 82 w/ OLB Walker & SS Gilchrist

@ptmovieguy: Hey look, a late-game red zone fumble w/ DAL and SD involved

New England Patriots 30 at Atlanta Falcons 23

Tweets

Aaron Schatz: I'm so glad the Patriots got rid of Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick so that they could have a UDFA back up Wilfork. #notglad

@pchicola: @FO_ASchatz Only Deaderick is currently on a roster. Love, Pryor and Brace are Free Agents, in case some familiar faces are required

Aaron Schatz: Sam Baker down. The Falcons need another OL injury like... like... well, like the Patriots need another WR/TE injury. Lamar Holmes in at left tackle. ATL RB gonna start making more chips than a Ruffles factory.

Aaron Schatz: I like Mike Smith's guts to go for it on fourth-and-2. I like the playcall, Roddy White was open. The pass from Matt Ryan was garbage

Tom Gower: Sprint Left Option with a right-handed QB is approximately my least favorite play in the world, and the Falcons just showed why again

Aaron Schatz: He's still overthrowing guys too often, but this is definitely Brady's best game of the season.

@itnw0628: Bill Belichick's decision to kick a FG at opponent's 4yard line makes me sad.

Aaron Schatz: On one hand, how on earth does a defense allow the other team to convert third and freaking 19??? On the other hand, that penalty on William Moore was total B.S. Thompkins ducked into Moore's elbow. It's another example of how the NFL is trying to legislate against the laws of physics. How on earth is Moore supposed to avoid that?

Aaron Schatz: Robert McClain had awesome charting stats last year. I've learned not to get crazy over one great year of nickel charting stats.

@pchicola: Don't look, but the rookies are getting more comfortable in NE. Gronk & Amendola are eventually coming back. Defense is looking good.

Andrew Potter: If this is anything to go by, this is going to be one scary offense when it gets Gronkowski and Amendola back.

@WhispersMoCo: @bighairyandy I literally forgot about those guys watching tonight. Wow! Thompkins and Dobson are going to be good.

Aaron Schatz: Odds on the Patriots blowing two snaps on sneaks in one season? Astronomical, right?

Scott Kacsmar: Ha, Brady NEVER botched a snap in this situation before this season. Twice now. I'm taking credit for SI jinx.

@L_Crosby: Tom Brady is The Greek God of QB Sneaks and he didn't get it. I'm STUNNED.

Aaron Schatz: Somewhere, Marshall Faulk saw the defense the Pats were playing on Tony Gonzalez and nodded. "Yeah, I remember how that is."

Longform

Aaron Schatz: Our preseason projections are never perfect. I certainly didn't see the Giants collapsing, or the Chiefs improving quite this much. But I feel like this game should have been included as a DVD, stapled into the Atlanta chapter of the book. This was everything we thought was going to happen with the Falcons. The "skill players" are still awesome, and Tony Gonzalez is the best to ever play his position, but you can't get the ball downfield to Julio Jones and Roddy White if you can't stay in the pocket. The offensive line is mess, partly because of injuries but also because they cut Tyson Clabo and made no attempt to bring back Todd McClure. Meanwhile, the defense is really not good. There are some good players, sure, but the pass rush isn't doing much and the rookie cornerbacks look like rookie cornerbacks. And how did the Falcons end up starting a rookie UDFA named Joplo Bartu at weakside linebacker. I seriously have no clue who that is.

As for the Patriots, pretty much everybody said after the Jets game that it would get better as the receivers got experience and improved their timing with Brady, and in fact, it has gotten better as the receivers have gotten experience and improved their timing with Brady. When Rob Gronkowski comes back, and if Danny Amendola can actually stay healthy for a week or two, this is back to being a top ten offense. And the Patriots now have a top ten defense to go with it -- unless Vince Wilfork is seriously injured. He's the second-most important player on this team behind Brady. They can't lose him.

Addendum: I wrote those comments when it was 30-13. Obviously, the game didn't end 30-13, but a fluky onside-kick recovery, a bobbled fourth-down Ryan Wendell snap (which may or my not have been a sneak) and one really amazing awesome catch by Julio Jones downfield don't change the general problems of the Falcons offense.

Although, wow, Julio Jones. When Matt Ryan does get some blocking, Julio Jones is a MAN out there.

(Second Addendum: Wilfork is done for the year with a torn Achilles. This is not a good thing for the Patriots.)

Tom Gower: Among other things we saw from this game was why teams like to have a really good corner when playing teams with great individual players. Aqib Talib wasn't absolutely perfect, but on the whole he was really darned good and came up big for the Patriots when they needed him most.

Scott Kacsmar: Matt Ryan certainly needs better blocking, but he still went 34-of-54 for 421 yards. What Atlanta needed was better play in the red zone. That fourth-and-2 earlier in the game was just a horrid pass by Ryan to an open Roddy White. Then that has to be really disappointing to have another drive come up short in the red zone when only a touchdown will do. You'd think a guy like Harry Douglas would always get single coverage and could do some kind of double move in that situation. There's always traffic around Tony Gonzalez, White's not 100 percent and Julio is obviously going to draw a lot of attention. Must draw up some more plays down there, and not the sprint-right option (or sprint left this time).

Rivers McCown: The sneaky problem there is that Harry Douglas isn't actually any good.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 30 Sep 2013

267 comments, Last at 05 Dec 2013, 11:37am by Mobi Video Leads review

Comments

1
by DrunkenOne :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:06am

@ptmovieguy: RG III just pulled a Houdini vs untouched blitzer, dumps off to Helu, who hurdles a Raiders defender. One play later, TD.

This was one of the first times that RG3 well... RG3ed so far this season. The pocket collapsed but he felt the pressure and was able to avoid multiple defenders en route to a perfect pass to Helu. Almost every other QB in the league takes a sack there.

On the flip side, watching Matt Flynn gave me cancer. He felt completely flat in the pocket, would drop back and just stand there not feeling the pressure at all and seemingly never stepped up into the pocket. After they noticed this, Kerrigan and Orakpo were just speed rushing to the outside and destroying the Raiders OTs for seemingly free sacks/pressures/fumbles every single passing play. The rare instances that Flynn felt the pressure and stepped up he did so directly into Barry Coefield. All 3 of them had 2 sacks and surely dozens of pressures and hurries.

12
by DJG (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:54am

Roy Helu: best defender hurdler ever?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOwgxfsIakI

235
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 11:10am
2
by RickD :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:30am

It's really not debatable regarding the expansion Jaguars vs. the current Jaguars. The expansion Jaguars were much better. By Year 2, they had beaten the Broncos in Denver in the playoffs to make the AFC Championship game. They remained a top AFC team for the rest of the 1990s, including a 14-2 regular season record in 1999.

Depressed to hear about Wilfork's injury.

3
by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:34am

Oh Cutler. I'm not too worried by the offense, it was just one of those games. But, uh, the defense. I'm more than a bit scared. Not "start Bostic" scared, but scared nonetheless. The Lions are good, but I honestly think this was more a bad performance by the Bears than an especially fantastic performance by the Lions.

Other impressions: The Jags may be the worst team I have ever seen play, the Giants have the worst O-Line in the league by a significant margin, I feel smug about saying the Seahawks offense isn't as great as people seemed to assume (it could, however, be a product of 3 O-Linemen being out,) the Jets are still really bad, the Patriots might not be terrible. The Broncos are still going to win the superbowl.

18
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:18am

This might be the first time it has been necessary to describe a 4-0 team as "not terrible."

41
by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:08pm

Before this game, the Patriots: almost lost to the Bills, "beat" the Jets, and beat the steadily unraveling Buccaneers. I didn't see any win that made me think "this team is good."

48
by RickD :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:14pm

So the first win is an "almost list" and the second win is a scare quotes "beat."

Did you think the Patriots were a bad team?

It just seems like "not awful" is too low a comment given prior knowledge of the team's offensive capability.

88
by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:36pm

The Patriots, before last night, had played one game that could have gone either way, one game that they not so much won as didn't lose, and one good game. Their opponents were not especially good, and they did not play especially well against those opponents. Terrible is hyperbole, but they did not look like a very good team, and I'm still not certain that they're anything above mediocre. Perhaps DVOA will see it differently.

94
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:49pm

"one game that they not so much won as didn't lose"

What does this even mean?

106
by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:11pm

The Patriots were really bad. The Jets were worse. There was a winner in that game, but it seemed more by default than by any skillful play by the patriots offense.

The phrasing is used to imply that both teams were really bad, but one team was worse.

111
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:31pm

" but it seemed more by default than by any skillful play by the patriots offense."

You do realize the Jets have a defense, right? And it actually might be pretty good?

116
by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:39pm

The Patriots receivers couldn't hold on to the ball at all. They were very bad, even independent of the Jets defense.

133
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:14pm

Receivers are much more likely to drop the ball when they've got good defensive backs in their face. They're also more likely to drop the ball when QBs are throwing off target balls because they're hurried.

NE Def DVOA -18% #4
NYJ Dev DVOA -29% #2

These were two of the best defenses in football.

I know defensive football can be ugly sometimes, and you may not prefer it, but defense does matter.

208
by Noah of Arkadia :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 8:32pm

I didn't see Jets defensive backs in the Patriots receivers' faces, I saw a bunch of rookies dropping easy catches and looking much like the Jets offense. They looked like a completely different team last night.

------
The man with no sig

230
by RedDawg (not verified) :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 7:14am

Have Dobson or Thompkins catch one or two of the longer balls against the Jets, and what do you say then? Completely different game? Completely different team? Silly.

219
by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 1:30am

I'm a Bears fan, if I didn't like defensive football I'd have gone insane by now. The Patriots receivers dropped the ball with or without any input from the defensive backs.

And trying to conclude anything about the strength of a defense before any opponent adjustments have come in s kind of iffy.

236
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 11:12am

Sometimes Oakland beats the Jaguars. Oakland is terrible, but at least plays professional football.

97
by DEW (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:52pm

Well, they get the Dolphins twice, the Texans, the Bengals, the Ravens, and the Panthers, as fellow members of the "this team could be good or not, and I'm not sure if I believe in them" club on the schedule, so a few of those games should sort out whether they belong in that category or a solid step above it. Only Denver and N.O. look like genuinely good football teams (...subject to tonight's result) on the upcoming schedule, and the Pats get both at home, which says positive things about the Pats' expected record.

I have to consider the Patriots to be in the upper echelon of the AFC yet again and a virtual lock for at least a wild-card spot in a weak conference. It's just that their play and their schedule thus far haven't really been decisive in the way, say, the Seahawks' play has been.

110
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:28pm

The Seahawks who have played the:

1-2 Panthers (18.4% VOA)
2-2 49ers (-30% VOA)
0-4 Jaguars (-90% VOA)
2-2 Texans (-7% VOA)

Yes, some of that VOA/Record is losing to the Seahawks.

I think its kind of silly to try and assertively claim who is good at this point, especially by looking at Strength of schedule this early.

I mean, just last year we were talking about how the Patriots at 3-3 looked really weak. Turns out that two of their losses were to good team we just didn't know were good at the time (@SEA, @BAL). ARI still sucked though.

NYG looked like a tough spot on most teams schedules...not any more. Same with Pittsburgh. KC looked like a doormat. Who even knows what the Packers and 49ers are.

118
by Arkaein :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:44pm

I know most of us expected the NFC to be the stronger conference this year, but as it stands now the AFC is collectively 9 games above .500.

If the playoffs started now (I know, I know) the two Wild Card teams from the AFC would be the undefeated Chiefs and Dolphins. The NFC Wild Cards would be the 3-1 Bears and the 2-2 49ers or Cardinals.

25
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:35am

The Bears constantly getting gashed for 10-15 yards straight up the middle by Reggie Bush of all people is cause for much concern.

4 games in, and I really miss having two pro-bowl level linebackers.

29
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:42am

Losing Melton was a big loss.

104
by Eddo :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:05pm

Yes, though Melton had not been playing well up until his injury. The middle of the defense has been soft all season.

62
by RoninX (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:43pm

The Seahawks offense hasn't been consistent at all this year, but playing 3 of the top 5 d lines in the league (2 on the road, at 10am -if you buy into the 10am start bugaboo-) while enduring offensive line injuries probably has a lot to do with that. Next week vs. the Colts should tell us a lot about both teams.

Of course I thought the same about this week's Seahawks v. Texans game and came away still unsure what to think about the Texans as a whole and the Seahawks' offense.

One thing I did figure out is that the Seahawks need to stick to playing man. 334 yards allowed in the first half (well over 200 of them in the second quarter) while playing mostly zone, and then only 124 yards allowed in Qs 3&4 with another 47 allowed in OT. I'm not sure why Carroll and co. thought the Texans were the team to break out their zones on, but at least (from the Seahawks' perspective) they adapted, even if it took a quarter of evisceration to prompt the reversion.

102
by TomC :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:04pm

Going back to the Bears part of this post: Oh, Cutler, indeed. I honestly believe that with incremental maturation and brain development (and better qb coaching) that Cutler will have fewer of these games, but the difference now is the bears defense is not good enough to overcome it, so this bears team will lose every one of those games.

105
by Eddo :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:11pm

True, but the offense (both talent and coaching) is better, so Cutler is more likely to adjust in-game and potentially overcome the bad plays (as he kinda sorta did against the Lions). You only have to go back to the Vikings game for an example of this - some killer turnovers by Cutler (and Forte), but the offense didn't completely collapse.

144
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:36pm

I take heart in the fact that at least one of the interceptions was due to a poor throw not a poor decision. I can live with a pass just sailing on him once every 30 attempts, but poor decision making will always bite you against quality opponents.

That said, he looked confused all game. Not trusting what he saw. Trying to fit passes into really tight windows, locking onto a single target, and just standing there dumbfounded. It was not a good game.

253
by Steve in WI :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 1:44am

My thought after Sunday's game is that the Bears defense might not just be not good enough to overcome a bad offense, but not good enough period. Cutler's performance doesn't worry me because I know there'll be a couple of games like that each season, but so far after four games, the defense hasn't looked good once.

217
by formido :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 12:27am

So generous of you to grant that Seattle missing 3 offensive lineman, including a reigning All-Pro and Pro Bowler, might have some impact on offensive efficiency when facing the best defensive player in the NFL. Sucks to only have scored the 6th most points in the NFL and have the second biggest point differential.

220
by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 1:34am

It was a joke, jeez. I'm wary about how good the Seahawks offense really is, given that they've now played 2 games where they were bad (against likely good defensive teams, mind,) 1 where they were serviceable, if not fantastic for long stretches (against San Fran) and then a game against Jacksonville, which I refuse to consider a game until the Jaguars can score an offensive touchdown in a close game.

4
by BroncFan07 :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:37am

"@AMSportsLive1: Can we start mentioning Trindon Holliday in the same breath as Dante Hall, Devin Hester, and Eric Metcalf?"

And Tamarick Vanover. Don't forget Tamarick Vanover.

5
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:44am

The Cardinals beat the Bucs 13-10, not 31-10.

8
by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:50am

Might as well of been 31. Because when your offense is doomed to never top 10, the opponent's final score doesn't matter much. A shame, too, given Tampa's D is very good.

Question now is whether Schiano can utterly ruin Glennon and have him out of the league for good by the end of the year. I didn't think much of that pick originally, but Schiano isn't going to be the guy to help this kid develop. If he somehow makes it, it'll be in spite of anything Schiano does.

13
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:54am

Schiano is doing to the Buccaneers offense what Stalin did to the Red Army with his purges in the 1930s. It seems to him that proving he's in charge is worth gutting his team's season. He's once coach I will definitely not feel sorry for when he's inevitably fired.

14
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:58am

Yeah, that'd be great, and . . . oh, sorry, I read "set on fire" instead of "fired". My version is better.

Glennon is utterly hosed; Josh Freeman is clearly a guy with huge piles of talent who needed good coaching to develop further. Suffice to say, that coaching was not there, and Freeman's mechanics got sloppy (at best) and his decision-making went into the toilet. Glennon has far less talent than Freeman and has an even greater need for good coaching. He's not going to get it in Tampa. It's not like Glennon was exactly a shining star who was screaming "FUTURE NFL STAR" anyways, but the kid has zero chance.

I want my team to start Dan Orlovsky.

I'm going to go take a shower now.

16
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:01am

As a Detroit Lions fan, who during 2008 was hoping for Dan Orlovsky to recover from his injuries so he could replace the corpse of Daunte Culpepper....I feel your pain.

63
by Ben :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:45pm

At around 0-8 in the Colts Suck for Luck year, there were a lot of fans calling for Orlovsky (myself included). When he finally did start, he managed to keep the Colts from going 0-16...

99
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:54pm

Unfortunately for the 2008 Lions, their savior didn't heal fast enough to "save" the season.

127
by Bobman :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:01pm

Still amazed that Painter is collecting an NFL paycheck. The main difference is that way back when, Indy put him in when they were up by 30 in the 4th. Now the Giants put him when they are down 30 in the 4th. (Cue my entire Giants-loving family pelting me with stones)

198
by herewegobrowniesherewego (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 7:23pm

The Manning brothers both love the same very-marginal backups...Orlovsky, and Battleship Lorenzen.

199
by herewegobrowniesherewego (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 7:26pm

Very hard to believe that their other very-marginal backup in Painter had more in-a-season college passing yards than Brees.

20
by drobviousso :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:22am

I have to believe that Bruce Arians is looking at what Schiano is doing with Freeman and is just licking his chops. Freeman's probably not Ben, and he's no Manning, but if he can be had as a free agent while Fitz still has some gas in the tank...

27
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:37am

The ideal situation for Freeman at this point is IMO a two- or three-year contract as a backup to somebody with an older QB where some solid coaching is available. Arizona, possibly, but I've been wondering whether Josh Freeman is Peyton's backup in Denver next year. Gets a chance to learn from one of the best, plus, if there are concerns with his attitude, it's hard to find a better guy to emulate. He spends a couple years getting things right, then has the opportunity to take over for a team with some talent.

The worst situation would be going somewhere like Oakland or Jacksonville; the last thing he should do is decide he wants to be a starter regardless, and wind up on a bad team where he's expected to carry the load. He needs to rehab both his image and his mechanics, and he's not going to do that while starting for a bad team.

I really hope it turns out for the guy; I openly proclaimed for the last four years that I had a Freemancrush. It sickens me to see that somebody who was getting that good wound up both falling apart and getting crapped on by this @#$@!! coach, and I want him to succeed. I live in MN, and my son wore his Freeman jersey for both his 4th and 5th grade school pictures, and it sucks having to explain to him why this giraffe-necked putz is now starting for the Bucs instead of Freeman.

43
by drobviousso :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:10pm

>I live in MN

Me too. If you are in Minneapolis and want to grab a beer with someone you barely know only as a screen name, shoot me an email to this username @ gmail.com.

229
by Jerry :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 5:43am

How unhappy were you (before seeing the game) that the one Steeler appearance in Minneapolis in eight years was moved to London?

68
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:54pm

" but I've been wondering whether Josh Freeman is Peyton's backup in Denver next year."

I know the Colts didn't really draft any of them high, but all of Peyton's backups have been awful. I don't think sitting behind him is actually a good thing.

He seems like one of those guys who can do things that almost nobody else can, and doesn't understand that not everyone is like him. IE, the sort of transcendental talent that makes for terrible instructors.

91
by bernie (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:39pm

I think the problem is more the fact that Manning's backups get almost zero reps in practice, and very few in training camp. Manning insists on taking every single rep possible, and how easy is it to play NFL caliber ball with hardly any practice reps? UNless they're the kind of people who can learn just from watching film, then they're hooped from the get go.

95
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:50pm

Right, but this is true on almost every team. Matt Cassel got almost no reps behind Brady, but he atleast managed to look like an NFL player for a while. Painter and Sorgi, on the other hand....

100
by DEW (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:54pm

Hey, Sorgi made All-Pro as a clipboard holder for six years in a row!

128
by Bobman :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:04pm

Sorgi did well when he played most extensively in 2004 (something like 8-10 quarters at the end of blowouts). Since it was garbage time, the opponents stacked the box and Jim was "forced" to pass, and did well. But as other comments here note, when you get zero reps unless you are the scout team QB for the D, well, you can't really develop.

157
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 4:32pm

Right, but how is this different than any other backups?

Even with the 2007 Patriots, Cassel only made 7 attempts (and played maybe 15 plays). Backups don't get any real playing time, other than situations where teams aren't sure who actually is the backup.

This isn't something unique to the Manning era colts.

212
by D2K :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 9:29pm

Matt Flynn duped 2 teams for draft picks with this same exact model.

214
by BJR :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:00pm

After Flynn put up huge numbers in a week 17 start for the Packers a couple years back, this very site proclaimed that his career floor would be as a pro-bowler. So he duped a lot of people.

Conclusion: great performance in meaningless week 17 games can probably be thrown out.

231
by Sakic (not verified) :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 9:15am

Flynn also had a very good game in 2010 against the Patriots in Foxboro late in the season in primetime when Rodgers was out with a concussion. Yeah, it was a loss but they had a chance to win and that game really put him on the map as a backup with starting potential.

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/201012190nwe.htm

139
by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:28pm

The Broncos seem to like Brock Osweiler, who looked decent during the preseason. I'm still intrigued by him being Alex Smith's backup in KC. Reid seems to do marvels with QBs and he shares some similarities with McNabb and Vick.

21
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:24am

Hey, now, a little fairness please; Stalin may have murdered millions, but he never told his team to try to force a fumble when the opponent was in victory formation!

35
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:54am

I thought that's what happened in the Battle of Stalingrad.

130
by Bobman :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:07pm

Let me know when they start stacking up frozen corpses to use like sandbags in Tampa. After that, it's just a matter of times before the Bucs start playing their games in a train station and a tractor factory. And 27 million Floridians will have to die before the Bucs declare "victory" with a 9-7 season.

I know they say history repeats itself, but that seems a little "out there." Then again, the browns ARE in first place after a month, so anything can happen.

177
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:26pm

This analogy has gone off the rails a bit, but I can't resist:

The Browns being in 1st place is like Finland kicking the Soviet Union's ass in the early stages of the Winter War. I'm not sure it will last.

203
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 7:43pm

So does that make Brian Hoyer into Simo Hayha?

67
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:53pm

At least he had an ethos.

77
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:13pm

Well, Stalin purged the army of a huge number of its experienced officers due to paranoia and general insanity before reinstating them once the Germans were rolling through Soviet lines; if the Schiano analogy is to hold, Freeman's going to get reinstated partway through the season, right?

121
by JIPanick :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:47pm

No, he found new officers who had military ability. It's not possible to reinstate men you have had shot.

I don't think there's any way for the Schiano analogy to hold, unless we can convince ourselves Tebow is Zhukov.

156
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 4:15pm

Now, now, he didn't shoot all of them, some were just sent to work camps or prison, and were dragged from prison, had their old military uniforms thrown on their emaciated bodies, and their command restored. Most shot, yes, but not all.

Tebow can't be Zhukov; Zhukov was genuinely good. I'd say choose some well-intentioned Soviet general who couldn't lead an army worth a crap, but knew how to really repeat the right rhetoric.

176
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:24pm

Tebow would be late-war Mussolini. He has a small group of fanatical supporters, while everyone else on earth knows that he's not any good at any of the things he wants to do.

182
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:52pm

Brilliant.

237
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 11:19am

Zhukov is more like Brees -- the competent guy no one recognized and was sent to Siberia for a couple of years.

While in Siberia, he repelled the Japanese in their only serious incursion into the USSR. In doing so, he developed the basic strategy he implemented at Stalingrad to envelop the German army.

155
by Led :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 4:08pm

For those that missed the reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J41iFYO0NQA

6
by spujr :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:48am

someone beat me to the comment

7
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:48am

Oh, Vince, if you only watched the first half of Mike Glennon, you said the "good" version. Glennon started off completing a high % of his passes, because he was throwing slants and short crossing patterns, and nothing else. It was dumpoff after dumpoff, and it was successful until the Cardinals realized he was too utterly terrified to actually throw anything more than 6-7 yards past the line of scrimmage. At one point in the first half, he was 13/19 for 87 yards. That is (A) way too many passes, and (B) 13/19 for 87 yards. I would make a comment about that, but it seems unnecessary.

Anyways, at halftime, Arizona's coaches did this thing called a "halftime adjustment", and started sitting on the shorter stuff. I think there were about 14 people in the box on every down and, being Tampa was kind of enough to run Doug Martin up the middle on more than half the first downs (I did a rough count in the play-by-play; Tampa had 30 plays on first downs, Martin up the middle was 17 of them), it's not like there was much challenge. Seriously, guys, try a toss or sweep on occasion, just to mix things up. Or, maybe, a QB capable of playing in the NFL. Mike Glennon is nowhere near ready to play in this league. He hasn't had enough practice reps, and he falls to pieces the moment pressure happens. Actually, before pressure happens. He was playing against an Arizona team who couldn't generate much of a pass rush and he still managed to check it down almost constantly, and, when they face a team with a real pass rush, it's going to be even uglier.

I didn't even realize Vincent Jackson was playing in the game until I saw the back of his jersey as he high-fived Glennon after Mike Williams' TD pass; I was pleasantly surprised that Glennon was doing the smart thing, and throwing the ball away from Patrick Peterson. That's what you do as a rookie, avoid the great CB. So, late 4th quarter, throws three passes towards Peterson total, and two of them are picked off. Seriously? Seeeeriously?

So, we now have a team that has blown three late-game leads and decided to start an obviously unprepared and bad rookie QB four days after naming him starter, and I am, shall we say, very much looking forward to Greg Schiano going anywhere else. Soon. Quickly. When a team is this sloppy and undisciplined, yeah, it kind of starts at the top.

55
by Zieg (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:23pm

My guess is Schiano is cooperating with the owners to try to get attendance to completely bottom out so they can try to move the team. Either that or they're already playing for last to draft a new quarterback. After the preseason he knows Glennon's not the answer and doesn't want it to be Freeman. So rather than risk Freeman salvaging a middling record out of the year at some point and costing us an early pick, they're just letting Glennon run the season into the ground. And to make sure Martin doesn't accidentally give us a win or two, they make sure they run him in the most predictable situations posible. This also has the side effect of killing his stats and decreasing the likelihood he'll be targeted for a trade or salary renegotiation so he'll still be around to help the *real* quarterback we get next year. I find it depressing that these are the best scenarios I can think of for my team.

76
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:11pm

Uh, no. Teams don't leave because of attendance issues, they leave because of stadium issues. Ray Jay is only 15 years old and is still a very nice facility, and, even more telling, the Bucs got a ridiculously good deal from the county. They city and county pay for upkeep, the team keeps all the profits, and they're making money whether or not butts are going into those seats. They're not going anywhere, and they're not sabotaging the season intentionally. This is a professional sports team, not a football-based re-enactment of Major League.

No conspiracy theory is needed here; the Glazers have clearly been hoping to find a hot young coach, so they took a flyer first on Raheem Morris (who was well-regarded as a HC prospect), and then on Schiano (which I will never understand, except he and Belichick are apparently friends and, uh, magic by association or something). Let's face it, the team looked good for a while last year, and then fell apart. Schiano is just another college coach who's used to running teams exactly how he says so. He's like a pettier version of Nick Saban, or Steve Spurrier without the entertainment. I have no doubt the guy can coach at the college level where he can abuse and insult players who have no choice but to suck it up or lose their scholarships. The guy can't coach professionals, who have the balls to tell him to shove it.

I think Schiano wants his own QB, and Freeman was Morris' QB. It's not a conspiracy, it's just yet another tale of power and arrogance.

Also, he's a dickwad.

143
by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:35pm

He wasn't even all that great at the college level. He took them from the cellar to that one great 11-2 year in 2006, but then lost 4 or more games in every season after that. He won his bowl games, though, so I'll give him that. But I never saw a single thing that made me think he was going to take the NFL by storm.

9
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:51am

I guess I should be happy the Lions are 3-1, but this was one of the least satisfying blowout wins I've ever witnessed (despite Chicago's late run I was never really worried the game would go to overtime). That was as inept a "4 minute drill" as I've ever seen.

A lot of sloppy play so far this season, with the Lions being lucky that their opponents are being even sloppier. I don't have faith that this coaching staff will work hard to fix it. The saving grace is that an out of division schedule against the NFC East and AFC North doesn't seem as daunting now as it did before the season.

61
by Chappy (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:40pm

I watched the very end of the 2nd quarter as well as the second half. I honestly have no idea could have gotten to that point given the play that I saw. I'm a Lions fan and it seemed like both Stafford and Cutler played pretty badly. To me the biggest takeaway is that the defense is somehow managing to look pretty good. I find this surprising given that it isn't that different of a defense. Why? Did Suh and Fairley (who looks like he's put on 50 pounds) make a leap? Slay? I don't really get it, but they look much better to my eye.

92
by zlionsfan :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:39pm

I don't get it either, unless maybe it's the difference in DEs ... not Avril, because he was fine, but no KVB. Still, they weren't getting pressure from any rotation. It's not like they're doing better against the pass, but they've improved (so far) against the run, which is putting offenses in bad second- and third-down situations, although granted, they've faced some questionable offenses so far.

In the first half, the difference was so great that Stafford could make three or four significant overthrows and the Lions still got 30 points. The Bears tightened things up in the second half, but even so, it was pretty much like the other games so far, I think, in that the Lions made it closer than it should have been.

I agree with Piano that I'm not sure we can expect this to be corrected. The difference this year, so far, is that the Lions are outplaying their mistakes. I don't think they can count on doing that against better teams (Chicago may or may not be better, hard to say at this point) or on the road.

It's kind of fun to watch, but a more careful team would have been a solid 4-0 and looking forward to beating Green Bay. This team, I don't know.

96
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:51pm

As far as the increase pass pressure, Suh has gone from very good to JJ Watt level so far this season. Even when he's not getting sacks, he's causing bad throws and completely wrecking the interior line on running plays. Look at last week, he didn't register any stats but he was constantly in RGIII's lap, and disrupting the Redskins' zone blocking.

109
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:20pm

"It's kind of fun to watch, but a more careful team would have been a solid 4-0 and looking forward to beating Green Bay. This team, I don't know."

5 of the last 6 games between the Lions and Packers have been close games, so one would think that going into Lambeau with a better team than prior years would give them a chance....but the Packers are coming off a bye, knowing that loss would dig them in a huge hole, and are probably mad at how they pissed away a win over the Bengals. This is probably the worst possible time to play against the Packers.

93
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:46pm

Stafford played less bad than Cutler, which is...something, I guess, but for being his worst game 1/4 through the season, it's not that bad. The lone int was just plain bad luck. He stayed in the pocket way too long on that fumble, though. Reiff has been so good at left tackle I think he got a little complacement.

As for the defense, I agree with you that they look way better. But one thing you're wrong about: The personnel is definitely different than 2012. It is impossible to overstate what an upgrade a healthy Delmas, and Glover Quinn are over the practice-squadders and replacement-level castoffs the Lions lined up at safety last year. Also, Ansah and Young are big upgrades at DE over a washed-up VandenBosch. I also thought Avril underperformed (although he looks good in Seattle right now).

107
by Eddo :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:11pm

That win for the Lions was like a vintage Lovie Smith Bears win. Three touchdowns off short fields, thanks to turnover and punt returns, plus a defensive score.

108
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:16pm

What worries me is that it would just as unstainable, which is what got Lovie Smith fired.

149
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:45pm

Lovie Smith got fired after a 10-6 season, with 3 losing years out of 9. He had his faults to be sure, but sustainability didn't seem to be one them.

Unless Lions fans would be disappointed in a 9 year stretch with 3 losing seasons.

158
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 4:37pm

Lovie got fired because he couldn't get the offense to not be terrible. He's clearly a very good defensive guy, but just doesn't have the offensive know-how or talent (or ability to pick people to do that).

Seems a lot like a less obnoxious Rex Ryan.

174
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:22pm

I have a lot of respect for Lovie. It drives me nuts living in Chicago and listening to people rip on him. I'd love for him to succeed Coughlin as the Giants' HC (though not in the ignominious manner we seem to be headed for).

He has his weaknesses, particularly on offense, but his teams were always disciplined and prepared. That automatically puts him ahead of 2/3 of the HCs in the league.

172
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:18pm

I was speaking only of Smith's 2012 season, when the Bears got out to a 7-1 start, benefiting from things that eventually regressed to the mean, leading to a 3-5 finish, and contributing him to get fired.

I agree that taken as whole, his career in Chicago is one a lot of coaches would envy.

190
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 6:26pm

Similar things happen to Tom Caughlin's teams, but he has Eli Manning, who is both very good and never gets hurt.

10
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:53am

Oh, the Giants. Nothing you do will remove my memory of Super Bowls 42 & 46. And they have the option of drafting Clowney or trading down to the Browns(!) to pick up some offensive linemen.

Has Lovie Smith been hired anywhere yet? He was always my favorite to be Coughlin's successor, as long as he doesn't bring Mike Tice with him.

On a more positive note: 76 Bucs, 08 Lions, or 13 Jags? Let the debate begin!

15
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:59am

When doing a DVOA analysis of the worst teams of all time, Tanier damned the '08 Lions with the faint praise of "They're the Cadillac of winless teams." They at least had year 2 Megatron. The current Jaguars, on the other hand...I can't think of a single player on their team that would make me flip to a Jaguars game for even a second.

39
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:58am

76 Bucs were an expansion team, so they at least have some kind of excuse.

For my money, these Jags look worse than the 08 Lions. Granted, we're only a quarter of the way into the season, but the Jags have yet to play a game where they even had a CHANCE to win in the 4th quarter. The 08 Lions at least played some one-score games (4 in a row at one stretch), and even held the lead in the second half of some games. So they never won a game, but they could have.

These Jaguars, I can't imagine how they would go about winning a game. They're horrible at running, passing, defending the run, and defending the pass. I'm forced to envision scenarios involving multiple return TDs, Denard Robinson playing QB, or some playoff team resting its starters in December. That said, they'll probably win one somewhere along the way. Everybody wins one. Well, almost everybody.

238
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 11:25am

2008 Lions.

The Bucs were an expansion team, and the Jaguars, even when successful, weren't a popular team. The Lions at least had a following and some sort of legacy to honor.

Unlike the 1976 Bucs and the 2013 Jaguars, they lost in public.

11
by rageon :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 10:54am

Maybe it's just me, but it felt like the long-form portions were longer this week, which is appreciated. The section for Houston/Seattle was very helpful.

I'm still hoping for analysis on Denver's defense that amounts to more than "they seem fine without Miller and Bailey" and "it might be moot anyway." Unfortunately, I'm sure I don't read anything about the defense for the same reason I can't get a good handle on it -- they aren't playing many close games.

22
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:26am

Here's my take on Denver's defense: They are trying to run much of what they ran last year, but without Miller or Dumervil the pass rush just isn't there. The Broncos corners are still really good as a group, but they can cover forever (we saw that a lot the last two weeks, when pressure didn't get to Pryor or Vick, and they rolled out and finally found some - or took off).

With Miller back, the pass rush should improve by itself and fix some of those issues.

The Broncos rush defense is still really stout. I don't know if he's playing particularly well, but I liked the signing of Terrance Knighton in the offseason to make that beefy line even beefier. The Eagles ran better than any other team had, but they have one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL.

In the end, their red zone defense has been decent, and that is all a great offense needs most of the time (see New England, 2010-2012). It would be nice if they stopped giving up a garbage TD a game, as that would make their overall PA total a bit lower and more appealing to the eye, but I don't think they are anything less than an average if not slightly above average defense without their best player who happens to be one of the 5 best defensive players in the NFL.

34
by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:51am

Do the Broncos expect Miller to come back at the same level he played at before? If reports are correct that he was systematically cheating drug tests through the relationship he had with the collectors, there's the possibility that when he comes back his performance will not be as "enhanced" as before.

47
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:13pm

Well, we only know that he failed and was trying to cheat a substance abuse test, not a performance enhancing test.

Sure, he might be worse than last year, but chances are he was going to be worse than last year anyway because he was incredible last year.

183
by Gorilla Graham (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:53pm

It was for weed, not PEDs, it's been fairly well understood. You're a Ravens fan, right? Thanks for taking Dumervil off our hands. Has he made a tackle yet this year?

200
by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 7:38pm

Who reported that he was initially suspended for weed? What was the source? I'd like to learn more about the situation, to be honest, but there isn't a good way to get the facts. The first reports were that it was weed related, and then it turned out that he was cheating by colluding with the collector, so he never tested positive for anything obviously. I thought people around here knew better than to trust what players/agents say that they were suspended for. Like anyone who thinks there was an Adderall epidemic on the Seahawks last year, I've got a bridge to sell you...

And Dumervil has been a fine pass rusher for the Ravens, thanks for asking! Still bitter, huh?

204
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 7:46pm

He tested positive for weed before the combine I believe (or maybe after). This scheme with the collecter was for a substance abuse test. Any reports on this incident have always maintained that it was a substance abuse test.

209
by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 9:02pm

So do you know if the same collector was used for other tests?

216
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:30pm

I believe that was the first time that collector was used with Miller.

255
by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 3:47pm

From what I've read, that was definitely NOT the case. But these are internet reports...

251
by Gorilla Graham (not verified) :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 8:47pm

Bitter? Not really. It is kind of galling, though, to see how mediocre Flacco is as a QB, and realize the Broncos lost to this hack on a freakin' hail mary. Oh well. The total blowout of the Ravens a few weeks ago was fun.

252
by jonnyblazin :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 9:35pm

Man, what did Flacco ever do to you? If he's such a hack, how did he manage to outplay P. Manning so convincingly in the playoffs? Frankly the Broncos were lucky to be even in that game, if it wasn't for 2 return TDs it wouldn't have been that close.

69
by RoninX (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:56pm

"It might be moot"

It might indeed. I was actually was just wondering when we'll find out if Denver's offense is actually an all time offense or just a good NFL offense, and we may have to wait awhile. I count 2 games vs. the chiefs (maybe) the Pats (maybe) and the Texans (I think) as the only teams on their schedule that (might) have legitimately good defenses.

In any case, looking at their schedule its hard to imagine that they lose more than 2 games and hard to believe Manning won't set the TD/yards records this year, unless he starts sitting through most fourth quarters.

83
by EricL :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:23pm

Agree - things felt longer and more informative this week.

I, personally, am looking forward to seeing Seattle face a defense that falls between "has a case for best front 7 in the league" and "Jaguars, lol".

17
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:06am

"@AMSportsLive1: Nice job by Cordarrelle Patterson to break up that Ike Taylor INT. Very underrated aspect of a receiver's job."

Jerome Simpson failing to do that in week 2 on Chicago's pick-six cost them that game.

19
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:19am

Let the 800 post, irrational, Cassel vs. Ponder, with a sprinkling of Joe Webb Illuminati conspiracy, thread begin!! Seriously, watching Cassel, as limited as he is, once again makes me wonder again how many bloody marys were being served in the Vikings draft room the day they decided to pick, in the top half of the first round, a qb with little zip in his arm, to best compliment Adrian Peterson. Oh, well, at least The Ponderous One makes up for it by being slow and incomplete in his reads.

It was nice to see the Vikings show some aggression on the line of scrimmage, but it should be noted that putting Mike Adams in the set known as "NFL left offensibve tackles", with Joe Thomas, is kinda'a like putting the Geico Gecko in the same set as Godzilla.

In other breaking news, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady remain good at football.

28
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:41am

I remember when arm strength is overrated was the mantra of many a smart football fan. During the halcyon days of Chad Pennington, it seemed you just needed a smart QB who could play within his abilities and make accurate throws. It turns out that Ponder is neither smart, nor especially accurate. I think Pennington was probably the anomaly because I think both QBs and offensive coordinators have trouble making an offense run with severe restrictions on what routes the QB can actually throw.

On the other hand, this is the same league where Jamarcus Russell and Tim Couch were drafted #1 overall, which makes Ponder's selection seem down right brilliant.

I think the lesson to be learned is to not let Brad Childress make personnel decisions, and especially not QB decisions.

31
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:47am

Sadly, The Chiller cannot be blamed. He was gone by the time The Ponderous One was picked. It remains a mystery.

You can get by without good arm strength, but you need accuracy, and the ability to pick the right receiver very quickly. Alas, the only talent Ponder has ever shown is some footspeed when he can't find the receiver.

42
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:10pm

Pennington's arm strength really wasn't terrible until after his second shoulder injury. He never had a cannon arm, but it was sufficient.

50
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:19pm

What was crazy was that he was still effective after that second injury. He was basically unable to throw an out route, and was still in the top half of NFL QBs.

57
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:30pm

Before the shoulder injuries, Pennington was a quarterback with slightly below average arm strength, fantastic accuracy, fantastic ability to read the field, and a very quick release. Basically he was Tom Brady with a little less pocket awareness, and a little more accuracy.

A 26 year old Chad Pennington playing his first year as a starter was a better QB than the 26 year old Peyton Manning (starting his 5th year). He was a better starter than the 25 year old Tom Brady in his 2nd year as a starter.

The point is, nobody with a weak arm should be compared to Pennington without proving that they have several other abilities at an elite level.

After the multiple shoulder injuries, he just couldn't throw the ball hard enough to keep an NFL level DB from closing before it got there.

Chad Pennington with a good shoulder would have been a hall-of-famer.

36
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:54am

Arm strength over-rated? Pshaw. Druckenmiller just needed another chance, and Boller, too.

232
by Sakic (not verified) :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 9:24am

And don't forget Browning Nagle.

56
by Insancipitory :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:27pm

I think it can be. But if the QB doesn't have the arm, they have to have touch, accuracy and anticipation to make up for it. I think anticipation goes a very long way, and that the trend to huge freakishly athletic WRs paired with QBs with big arms is a way to replace it due to its ephemeral nature. In the case of the WRs and live arms, at least they can be reliably measured.

98
by mawbrew :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:52pm

Really unfair to lump Couch with Russell. Couch was clearly a disappointment as a #1 overall pick but he eventually became an above replacement level player and led the 2.0 Browns to their only playoff appearance. His arm injury ended his career before we could see if he developed further or not.

191
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 6:27pm

Both were QBs who had obvious flaws that should never have been drafted early, but GMs talked themselves into it.

170
by shah8 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:07pm

*ahem*, my cue.

1) Why do I harp on Joe Webb? Because he has natural arm strength and is a good natural passer. I fully recognize that he's raw and his mechanics are bad/inconsistent, and that he probably doesn't read the defense with any depth. OTOH, when you compare with either Ponder or Cassel (who basically was himself, don't you fear--Steeler's defense is just about the most unlucky-terrible I've ever seen at getting turnovers)... At least Cassel will make the easy throws, on time throws, etc. In any event, I think it's pretty obvious that the coaching staff values him, because I do think other teams would give up at least a late pick for him. Since I also watch the Eagles, I have to watch that waste of WR space Riley Cooper, and do you know what? I don't think there is any chance Chip Kelly wouldn't be happier with Webb at WR, even though Webb can't run any routes. Capable of nasty blocks, much faster for the size, has better hands capable of highpointing in the red zone, and is insurance at QB in the offseason.

2)Be fair to Chilly. He consistently had better QBs than the post Chilly era. TJack is a billion times better than Ponder--bad QB vs Not-A-QB. Gus Ferrotte is a better backup QB, etc, etc, etc. He had Bevell, and in general had a decent staff. Chilly had his issues with autocratic behavior, but Schiano makes it clear just how much worse it could all be.

175
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:23pm

You may well get your wish this season! I wonder if anything less than mark sanchez level would get you to change your mind.

23
by BJR :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:30am

There was probably nothing Chip Kelly and his staff could have done to prevent heavy defeat yesterday; they just don't have the personnel to slow the Broncos offence (does anyone?). But man, when you are going into the Lion's Den, show a little courage and gumption. Settling for an early field goal on 4th & 4, then punting on 4th & 6 from midfield with 2 minutes left in the half is just terrible, weak-minded coaching.

26
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:36am

BTW, I get that the game was basically over, but what was the point of the field goal down 49-13?

Yes, it was 4th and like 25, but that field goal doesn't helped you. I loved the karmic response of Henery missing the kick.

The only possible explanation I can think of is you want your kicking unit to get more in-game practice.

40
by BJR :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:04pm

I do think in-game coaching decisions can be overly scrutinised, and I can often sympathise with coaches taking the seemingly conservative choice when a decision is marginal. What does really upset me however, is a coach who will not play aggressively knowing that his defence is horribly overmatched. Its just delusional, brainless.

49
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:19pm

"Yes, it was 4th and like 25, but that field goal doesn't helped you."

It helps you more than turning the ball over on downs, which is what happens in 4th and 25 the vast majority of the time.

I'm all for being aggressive when behind, but it only makes sense if there's some possibility of success.

54
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:22pm

What does getting three points down 36 do?

58
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:32pm

Brings you a tiny bit closer to winning than being down 39 does.

66
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:53pm

In reality, it does nothing. In theory, I think there are some playoff tiebreakers way down the list that involve point margins.

Also, there's probably something to be said for allowing your players to experience SOME type of success on a drive in an otherwise brutal game. If you're completely guaranteed to lose either way (which they were at that point), I suppose you might as well take the points.

80
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:16pm

It's not *that* far down the line - it's 7th, right after strength of schedule. It hasn't ever been used since strength of schedule/strength of victory schedule were inserted above them in 2002, though.

Deepest the NFL has ever gotten with the current format is still 2 above it, though.

132
by CaffeineMan :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:14pm

It gets game reps for your special teams.

148
by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:44pm

I think psychology comes into play a bit. You're not going to win the game but you want to take something at least semi-positive away from it going into the future. Going for it on every 4th down, especially crazy distances like 20+ yards when in field goal range, can pretty easily turn into the sort of disaster where the team starts questioning the coaching, themselves etc.

227
by David :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 3:37am

I think this is underrated, certainly at the moment. The psychological effect on math/stat geeks who understand game theory may not be the same as the effect on 53 athletes who have years of prior experience in how things are *supposed* to go

239
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 11:29am

What does getting 7 points down 32 do?

NFL rules still don't allow you to quit after the 3rd quarter.

103
by Edge (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:04pm

I understand why scoring three wouldn't help much, but scoring seven or eight doesn't help either, so I don't see how it was a bad decision in any way.

180
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:47pm

And turning it over helps even less (and thats the most likely outcome of going for it on 4th and 25)

24
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:35am

Interesting day for QBs. I think there may have been more interceptions yesterday than in any single Sunday over the past few years. I believe league-wide passer rating dropped a good ~2 points yesterday alone (down to 84.8 - it's been creeping down every week after being like 88 after Week 1). Flacco looked awful, Cutler looked like Bad Cutler (I thought he was only nice enough to bring that out against Green Bay in the AFC North), and Ben Roethlisberger had a brilliant Ben v. 2009 performance, where he would put up stats like no ones business in a desperate attempt to get back in the game and come close to doing so before some terrible failure.

One note I want to watch: how long can Manning, Rivers and Romo keep their completion percentages above the NFL record. Manning's 75.0% is absurd, but Rivers is basically just as insane at 73.0. Romo's is my favorite because he has averaged just 9.2 yards per completion, which puts a little damper on that 72.4%. I wonder how long he can stay below 10 (btw, Brady was below 10 until last night).

Sure, I'm a Manning lover, and a Colts fan who firmly believed keeping Manning was the better option, but this is like watching Michelangelo paint, or Eddie Van Halen play guitar, or Roger Federer circa 2005 play tennis with Manning right now. Every ball is well thrown (how about that 52 yard strike to Decker, which not only was accurate, but was his prettiest spiral since like 2006), every play is well created. Every play he changes protections, changes routes, and seemingly everyone knows what is happening. I still think Peyton was more incredible in 2004 just because of the amount of deep throws he hit that year (back then, people still thought blitzing him was a good idea), but this is definitely better.

In totally unrelated news, what the hell happened with Cincinnati. I have no idea what to think of them. I can totally see them beating New England by a TD next week and I could totally see them losing by 20. Who knows?

33
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:50am

I agree with you about NE-CIN next week. I'm looking forward to seeing it, not because they're two great teams (they're both good, but flawed), but because there's so much variance in the possible outcomes.

45
by BJR :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:13pm

I get the feeling Gronkowski, and to a lesser extent Amendola, were held out yesterday knowing that next week's game against the Bengals could be very important in terms of playoff seeding.

37
by rageon :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:56am

Agreed on Manning. It just seems like on 80-90% of all plays, he knows exactly where the defense will be and precisely how he needs to adjust to exploit it. It's like he's just thinking at twice the speed of everyone on the field right now. Through 4 games, we're watching the 07 Patriots with even higher level QB play and a third good receiver.

44
by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:11pm

07 Patriots had a third good receiver in Donté Stallworth.

This Broncos offense is incredible. It's freakishly efficient. Really does seem like Manning can do anything he wants, any time he wants.

234
by JimZipCode :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 11:09am

Manning is like the AI in a computer game.

46
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:13pm

Let's be fair, though:

1. Baltimore was the best defense he's faced this season.
2. They're still playing in good weather.

It's still freakishly good, but it won't stay that way forever. Eventually, it'll just turn into just another record-setting season, instead of God Mode. But damn it's fun to watch, even in a blowout.

52
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:21pm

That Baltimore defense has given up just 38 points in their next three games, and just 770 yards in total. They aren't exactly a bad defense, they just got Peytoned (and if Danny Trevethan doesn't fumble the ball before the EZ, the Broncos probably turn it off after that, and Peyton doesn't get that last TD).

134
by Bobman :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:21pm

That will be a problem, so far as individual and team passing/offense records are concerned. If the DEN D plays well and the score margins stay in the 30 pt. range at the end of third quarters, there will be no need to put 18 on the field in the 4th quarters, like late 2004, and many potential records (meaningless anyway) will get passed up.

Has anyone ever seen John Fox giggle like a schoolgirl at press conferences before. This guy must get facial cramps from all the smiling he's doing these days. If they are 14-0 I wonder if they'll go super conservative to protect player health" like Indy in 2009 (any backfiring on them was fan anger, not postseason effectiveness) of if they keep the pedal down, like NE in 2007. Maybe it depends on their healthy at that point. Too much speculation, 11 weeks down the road, anyway.

150
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:49pm

I like this Denver team a lot, would be cool to see them finally shutting up the 72 Dolphins.

194
by Scott Crowder (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 6:59pm

Seattle vs Denver, both undefeated going into the Super Bowl. Unlikely? Of course. But if Seattle can go into Houston with an oline that had ONE YEAR combined NFL experience, vs that defense, inexplicably play zone a full half while getting trounced for it, then turn around and beat them when the FINALLY go back to playing their game, then who CAN beat them? The oline woes are only temporary. Harvin has yet to join the squad. They've been up against three teams who can argue which has the NFL's best front 7.

I think these two teams will be our Super Bowl this year and it will be epic.

195
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 7:02pm

I don't like Pete Carrol, so I can't root as hard for Seattle (also same conference as the Bears).

However, I do like watching Marshawn Lynch bowl people over and I love smothering defenses.

112
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:32pm

I was going to say his 2013 self is better now, but then I looked up his 04 td percentage, which was at an ungodly level. That team's point totals were massively understated given how few possessions they got and how many games manning sat. I think if they had the NE 2007 mentality, THAT QB could have gotten 60 plus tds. This years Manning isn't the same in throwing, but the mental facets are incredible. Brandon Boykin was saying, they made checks and every single time he changed the play. Chip kelly said on the decker long pass - we actually had the right defense for it called because we suspected it, but when he still threads that, it was heartbreaking.

131
by Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:13pm

It seems people forget about how much Manning sat (and how few possessions Indy had) when talking about greatest QB seasons, and specifically when comparing that 2004 season to Brady's 2007. Like FO saying Brady's was the best in DVOA history .... except Manning had a higher DVOA in 2004. He had 44 TDs through 12 games that year! Good grief.

135
by Bobman :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:24pm

Manning sat out most or all of 10 quarters that year--I believe he had just two passes in one series week 17. You really can't compare those two seasons because of that--they were essentially playing the same position in different games with different internal team rules governing their actions.

146
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:40pm

It goes deeper than that. I remember in the baltimore game, he respectfully took a knee even though he was chasing the record. There were also little things. Against the jaguars in their first meeting, I think pollard dropped a td. They then ran for it and got it. Silly I know to quibble about such things, but since TDS have become the new mass-media measuring stick for qb play, its instructive to think how perception of Manning vs brady would be if manning still owned the td record.

I will say, comparing the 2004 colts to the 2013 broncos - its interesting. The key with these broncos is all of their receivers are very flexible, not specialized in the way GBs are. That means, they run the entire route tree. None are elite(though you could make a case for DT), but they all can be audibled into routes manning likes and that means hes far more able to adjust well when a defense takes away certain pieces. The advantages the 2004 colts had was their receivers were unparalleled. Harrison and Wayne and stokley were a powerful trio. But here's the biggest difference, the 2004 colts could run the ball better than these 2013 broncos can. Also manning was better physically in 2004(though mental manning makes it a wash probably). All in all, I'll favor the 2004 colts.

240
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 11:32am

"I will say, comparing the 2004 colts to the 2013 broncos - its interesting. The key with these broncos is all of their receivers are very flexible, not specialized in the way GBs are. That means, they run the entire route tree. None are elite(though you could make a case for DT)"

Seriously? Is it all because Welker is white?

He's like the Warren Moon of WRs.

246
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 4:16pm

To me, elite receivers are a very high standard. As far as I'm concerned, there are 3 elite receivers and a bunch that are close. The three elite are AJ green, Andre Johnson, and megatron.

247
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 4:29pm

You're leaving out Larry Fitzgerald? (when he has an NFL-level QB throwing to him).

248
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 5:08pm

That last fact has made judging fitz an impossibility. I could conceivable see him being an elite receiver or I can easily see him being just solid at this point.

249
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 5:10pm

And btw, even among the elites, there is one more tier above and he belongs by himself. I still think Calvin is the best player in the nfl and arguably the most valuable non qb in the nfl, though I admit it gets close with AP, JJ, Atkins, Sherman, Revis, etc.

250
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 6:02pm

The last time Fitz had a competent QB, he was definitely elite. He has one again this season (competent, but not great), so it remains to be seen whether he'll go back to being elite again.

I agree with you about Calvin being a tier above. He wasn't there as recently as 2010, but since 2011, nobody has been close.

30
by nath :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:43am

"Still, though, you look at the box score, and you see Houston with enormous edges in plays (88 to 58), total offense (476 to 270), and first downs (29 to 15), and considering the were only -1 in turnovers, and it doesn't even make sense that the game was close."

You obviously haven't watched much of the Kubiak-Schaub Texans. Ask Rivers; it makes perfect sense. The problems the team had yesterday are the same problems they've always had: Bland, obvious play-calling seemingly unconcerned with scoring points or sustaining drives, and a woefully limited passing game that can be efficient when everything works in its favor but has no chance of competing with the big boys.

http://zonereads.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/what-should-the-texans-do/

137
by Bobman :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:27pm

Not to pile on Schaub, instead I'll go for Kubiak. Does the fatal pick six play remind anyone of the Rosenchopper play against the Colts about five years ago, when Rosenfels was in with a lead and almost no time left, rolled out and kind of attempted to pass while being sacked, fumbled, and the ball was run back for a TD?

Seems like they send their QBs into dangerous waters when trying to hold a lead. (not just dangerous physically, but high risk areas of the field where a pick or fumble recovery could go all the way). Is it a pattern, or am I wrongly connecting two data points, a handful of years apart?

151
by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:50pm

That does seem like a very strange play to run in that situation, where avoiding the huge error is probably the most important thing about the play. A rollout where the safety valve is on the other side of the field? Yeah, what could possibly go wrong with that?

256
by nath :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 6:22pm

Yeah, I think Kubiak does deserve a lot of the blame. He doesn't seem to call plays with regard to what the team needs at the time. It's not just in those critical moments, like I mentioned; he's also allergic to being aggressive with scoring points. If handing off the ball 2/3 of the time isn't working, well, just punt and try again.

32
by BJR :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:48am

The officiating in the Falcons Patriots game was horrible. Just a flag throwing lottery. The farce with the replay did not help either. NFL officiating has to be better than this.

53
by RickD :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:21pm

The Patriots still deserve an explanation for how the officials saw fit to just ignore a video challenge that the Pats had the right to have adjudicated. Who runs that stuff? Can a Falcons' employee just pull a plug somewhere to make sure that a challenge cannot reverse a completion made by their team?

59
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:36pm

They got an explanation: The review equipment wasn't working.

If the rule is going to state that you need overwhelming evidence to overturn a call on the field, when there's no way to ascertain whether that evidence is there, the call on the field should stand. The refs did what they should have.

That being said, there's no way a multi-billion dollar organization can't get a couple of DVRs to work.

64
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:49pm

That's because it's BS. It's been confrimed that refs were actually watching Breaking Bad in the replay booths.

78
by Viliphied (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:14pm

Not sure if serious...

89
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:36pm

Of course I'm serious! Why wouldn't I be serious!

138
by Bobman :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:28pm

awesome response

38
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:56am

"@AMSportsLive1: What's worse; Jim Schwartz not going for it on 4th and 1 from the 6 or the announcers effusively praising him for it?"

Ugh. I like the way Thom Brennaman calls games, but good god is he an idiot. Later in the game when the Lions faced 2nd and 1, and Stafford had a tipped ball intercepted, he kept spouting off about how you should never throw on 2nd and short. Just call the damn game and spare us your football "knowledge".

51
by turbohappy :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:21pm

Donald Brown had some nice runs...if he could get his head out of his ass pass-blocking he might be pretty good, but at this point in his career that seems unlikely. Richardson and Bradshaw both seem to be pretty good when they stay in to block.

60
by Ryan :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:40pm

Donald Brown, 4 or 5 years into his career or whatever it is, still cannot pass protect. He has nice speed but needs blocking and smart play-calling to have his plays created for him. Strictly a 3RB and one of the worse Polian draft picks.

73
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:01pm

This made me think of a play from yesterday. Richardson was the RB. Luck drops back to pass. A Jaguar rusher, I don't know who, comes through completely unblocked at the snap. Richardson dives in front of him and delays him just enough to allow Luck to escape and heave the ball away. (It was almost a spectacular catch by Wayne, but overturned on replay.) Shows up in the stat sheet as an incomplete pass, but if Brown had been in there, it would have been a sack. That, in a nutshell, is why Donald Brown will never be a starting NFL RB.

75
by Ryan :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:09pm

With Brown's pass protection, it truly seems like a combination of physical inability and lack of awareness and understanding. For some reason, though, IND still likes to put him in on 3rd downs and in 2 minute drills. Why? Just because your depth chart says so? Luck *maybe* gets the ball to a coming-open Griff Whalen on 4th down at the end of the Miami game if Brown slows down the blitzer up the middle (there was also pressure coming from outside).

82
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:20pm

That's exactly the problem with Brown. I kind of understand why they want to put him in on 3rd down. He could be a good 3rd down back -- he's good in space after catching a swing pass, he runs the draw well -- except he can't pass block. As a result, he's basically only useful on plays in which he himself is getting the ball.

84
by EricL :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:24pm

Which is a self-defeating pattern, as defenses will realize "oh, he's getting the ball" really, really fast.

85
by Ryan :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:25pm

...Which is exactly why he's not a great 3rd down back. I guess if I were a coach I'd want the most complete back in on 3rd down. Run, catch, block. All three must be an option on third down. I don't really trust Brown's hands either.

90
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:39pm

Oh, I agree wholeheartedly. And at this point, he's very unlikely to suddenly learn how to block. That's just the frustration with him. He's not bad with the ball in his hands, but he's deficient enough in other areas that he can't be kept on the field for more than a few plays a game. I'd honestly like them to give him a try as a kick returner, and save Hilton from taking too many shots. Can't do that now though, because the RB depth is too thin.

115
by Danny Tuccitto :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:39pm
123
by Ryan :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:52pm

So brutal. Brown could do whatever for the rest of his career and this will still be his defining moment.

At the same time, here we are, 4+ years later, bemoaning his blitz pickup...

164
by Shake (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 4:50pm

Brown has improved greatly as a pass blocker, he's still not good and has some bad lapses, but you'll see actual competent blitz pickups from him a fair portion of the time.

65
by Anonymous764577533 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:51pm

The only thing Gonzales has on Gates for best TE ever is longevity. Gates has the better peak and better single games. Gates is the best TE ever.

70
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:57pm

He also had Drew Brees & Phillip Rivers. I respect Trent Green, but he's not close to the same level, let alone Tyler Thigpen, Damon Huard, or Elvis Grbac.

72
by Anonymous764577533 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:00pm

If you have to bring other players into the argument you're wrong it's as simple as that. Why are you stopping at QB? What about every other offensive position that also affects them? Plus we're talking about Bree's before he was good and Rivers who everyone was convinced was nowhere close to a top 10 QB before this season. Funny how the narrative can change to fit.

81
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:19pm

I'm mentioning QBs because we're talking about their productivity as receivers, and QB quality is pretty relevant, yes?

Gates' peak was from 2004-2010 - which happened to coincide with Drew Brees' breakout (2004-5), Rivers at his peak (2006-2010), and one year of the Bad Philip era (2011).

Gonzalez was 1st Team All-Pro in '99 and '00, with Elvis Grbac as his QB. He then had five great years with the aforementioned Trent Green, followed by three years with Damon Huard & Tyler Thigpen (2006-2008). He had 900, 1172, and 1058 yards in those three years (1st Team All-Pro in 2008).

Nobody's saying Gates wasn't great, but you're statement that "The only thing Gonzales has on Gates for best TE ever is longevity. Gates has the better peak and better single games." is demonstrably untrue.

126
by Danny Tuccitto :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:00pm

Actually, it's demonstrably true that Gates had the better peak and better single games: FO 10th Anniversary: Tight Ends.

Nevertheless, where I do disagree with Anonymous+numberstring is that longevity matters, especially in the context of something like DYAR. Ignoring the longeivty of a career is analogous to ignoring touches/targets for a season. If two RBs produce the same value, but one does it over 350 touches, while the other does it over 200, I don't think it's controversial to conclude that the former was "better."

Also, even if one thinks longevity doesn't matter, Gonzalez still has a better weighted career DYAR than Gates. So in the final analysis, Gonzalez has the longevity and Gates has the peak, but Gonzalez has the combination of peak and longevity.

144
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:36pm

I'll concede the single-game (which, honestly, I really don't care much about), but I disagree with the idea Gates having a better peak. His single-season record was 2010, when he only played 10 games. His prorated peak for 2010 would have been the greatest season of all time, but I don't like the idea of pretending those missed games never happend.

As a result, the top single-season DYAR (358 vs 357) and six-year average DYAR (295 vs 291) charts seems like a dead heat to me.

159
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 4:39pm

Agree. You can't just prorate things and pretend they happened.

162
by Danny Tuccitto :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 4:47pm

Oh, I don't disagree that Gates is in, at best, a dead heat. Was just pointing out that what the guy said was technically true or at least not "demonstrably untrue."

171
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:08pm

Ah - point taken.

119
by JIPanick :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:44pm

I think you are selling Trent Green short...

140
by Bobman :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:31pm

Agreed. He had a brief, but stellar peak. 3 years?

153
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:52pm

From 2002-2005, Green was as good as any QB in the league whose father didn't spend a decade playing for the Saints. I'm just saying quite a few of Gonzalez's best years involved Elvis Grbac and Damon Huard, whereas all of Gates' career involved Drew Brees and Philip rivers.

That's not meant as a shot against Gates, but I look at Gonzalez's 2000 season with Elvis Grbac the way I do Steve Smith's 2005 with Jake Delhomme.

71
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 12:59pm

A quick perusal of their stats, and they look pretty damn similar... except Gonzo did it twice as long.

Also, if we're going to just discard longevity, Gronk is clearly better than either one.

74
by Anonymous764577533 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:01pm

10 vs 16 is twice as long? I knew someone would bring Gronk into this. The difference between a player with three injury filled seasons and two guys with 10+ seasons is HUGE. Move along.

79
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:15pm

Exactly. Longevity is important, and Gonzalez's longevity has not been of the Ricky Proehl variety. He's still playing at a Pro-Bowl level. Gates has been a superstar for a decade, which is great, and HOF worthy. Gonzalez has been a superstar for a decade and a half, which is even better.

86
by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:31pm

Julian Thomas is clearly the best TE ever. Check the stats.

120
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:45pm

I know this was tongue in cheek, but I don't think you realize how good Gronk has been in his career.

Thomas this year, prorated to 16 games:
72 receptions, 948 yds, 16 td.

Gronk, career stats, prorated to 16 games:

70 receptions, 990 yds, 14 TD.

141
by Bobman :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:33pm

Except Thomas gets downgraded because he has a clearly superior passer throwing to him.

(Sure to be banned now, or as soon as the next 1,000 comments flood in.)

242
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 11:44am

So, Amendola is better than Welker, right?

185
by Gorilla Graham (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:58pm

I'm old, but I'd take the original Kellen Winslow over Gates ( who is very good).

241
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 11:43am

I dunno. Kellen Winslow or Don Hutson might argue. Hutson basically invented the role and Winslow invented its modern form.

245
by Independent George :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 2:06pm

John Mackey and Mike Ditka played a very different position than the modern variant, but you could make the case for either of them, too.

87
by Brendan Scolari :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 1:34pm

If I see another coach wait to take his timeouts until after the two minute warning I'm going to scream. I applaud Mike Smith's aggressive 4th down decisions, but letting the clock run down from 2:55 and not taking any timeouts is just awful. 1st and 10 Ridley goes for 8 yards at 2:55. Let's compare the two scenarios with and without timeouts used:

Hypothetical smart timeout usage:
Ridley goes down and timeout taken right away (2:55).
2nd and 2 Brady goes for one yard and timeout taken right away (2:50).
3rd and 1 Blount for no gain and timeout taken right away (2:44).
4th and 1 Brady fumbles for -1 yard, clock stops at change of possession (2:40).
RESULT: Falcons have 2:40 and one more clock stoppage, the two minute warning.

vs.

Reality:
Ridley goes down and clock runs down until next snap at 2:18 (2:55).
2nd and 2 Brady goes for one yard and clock runs to two-minute warning (2:00).
3rd and 1 Blount for no gain and timeout taken right away (1:54).
4th and 1 Brady fumbles for -1 yard, clock stops at change of possession (1:50).
RESULT: Falcons have 1:50 and two more clock stoppages, their remaining timeouts.

Basically the Falcons gave up 50 seconds for one extra clock stoppage opportunity. There's no way a hurry up offense needs more than 20 seconds to run a play, so this is not a good trade-off. Time didn't end up being a factor, but this is still very poor decision making and you see it every week. Take your timeouts before the two minute warning.

Sidenote: I also believe on the previous possession when the Falcons had 3rd and 1 at the 7 they should have run the ball to try to pick up the first down. Even after the incomplete pass to Toilolo, the numbers probably say you go for it there rather than kick a field goal because that makes your next possession so much easier.

101
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:01pm

Teams take significantly more than 20 seconds during the hurry up pretty often.... pretty much any time they make a long gain.

Also, being able to choose when to stop the clock means you can still use the middle of the field.

114
by Brendan Scolari :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:38pm

Having 50 extra seconds lets you use the middle of the field too. Think about it for a second, there's no way a timeout is worth 50 seconds. The whole play clock is only 40 seconds, so even if you take the entire thing you still wasted ten seconds with poor timeout usage.

But also, no they don't take significantly more than twenty seconds, especially at the very end of the game when they know they need to hurry. Look at theses three sets of plays from the previous two drives:

(4:55) (Shotgun) 2-M.Ryan pass short middle to 88-T.Gonzalez to NE 11 for 22 yards (32-D.McCourty).
(4:28) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 2-M.Ryan pass short right to 88-T.Gonzalez for 11 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

(4:14) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 2-M.Ryan pass short left to 83-H.Douglas to NE 41 for 4 yards (25-K.Arrington).
(3:51) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 2-M.Ryan pass incomplete short right to 84-R.White. PENALTY on NE-25-K.Arrington, Defensive Holding, 5 yards, enforced at NE 41 - No Play.

(3:41) (Shotgun) 2-M.Ryan pass short middle to 88-T.Gonzalez to NE 7 for 9 yards (28-S.Gregory).
(3:14) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 2-M.Ryan pass incomplete short right.

Look at the first number for the time at the original snap and the second number for the time at the second snap. If you take 7 seconds off in between for the actual play (and all these plays likely took at least that long) then you've got 17, 16, and 20 seconds in between the three sets of plays respectively. Therefore 50 seconds is worth AT LEAST one, possibly two or three more plays than a timeout.

EDIT: I suppose none of those qualify as long gains. But even with a 40 yard inbounds play (fairly unlikely) it's still probably 25 seconds rather than the full play clock.

122
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:48pm

(4:55) 27 seconds
(4:28)TD
(4:14) 24 seconds
(3:51) 10 seconds for penalty
(3:41) 27 seconds

Seems like 25 seconds or so is the time a short gain inbounds costs. A long gain inbounds costs significantly more.

154
by Brendan Scolari :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 4:08pm

As I explained, you're not taking the time off for the play in between the snaps. Assuming an average of 7 seconds per play, it would look like this:

4:45 - 4:28. 17 seconds.

4:07 - 3:51. 16 seconds.

3:34 - 3:14. 20 seconds.

160
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 4:41pm

Why would I ignore the time it takes to run the play? It comes off the clock.

188
by Brendan Scolari :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 6:17pm

Because it comes off whether you have timeouts or not. Let me show you an example, we'll start with 2 minutes on the clock:

Timeout example:
Snap at 2:00 minutes, 7 second play and then a timeout so the clock is stopped at 1:53. Snap #2 will then come at 1:53.

Non-timeout example:
Snap at 2:00 minutes, 7 second play and then the clock keeps running for 20 more seconds until snap #2 at 1:33.

The timeout saves you 20 seconds (1:53 instead of 1:33). You're looking at the gamelog and thinking it takes 27 seconds between plays, when it's really only 20 seconds and a 7 second play.

165
by DJG (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 4:50pm

I don't think you even need to breakdown the scenarios this detailed (though it drives home the point). As a coach once you know that you want you to preserve the clock, the worst thing that can happen is 40 seconds can tick off between plays. If you can call timeout to prevent this from happening and don't, it's the wrong move, end of discussion. Am I missing something?

189
by Brendan Scolari :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 6:25pm

No, you're not missing anything. There's some trickiness when you're very close to the two minute warning, but when you're sure that 40 seconds are going to come off the clock the issue is basically black and white. Except to coaches apparently.

And I get that they have a ton more on their plate than I do, but this is not a situation where you need a chart or anything. If 40 seconds are going to come off the clock and you need to preserve time then call a timeout. That's the rule.

113
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:35pm

I can't see how people look at NE and don't think this is a legitimately scary team. Their defense is now no longer only good against the run. Losing Wilfork hurts, yes, but their corners are now really good, their linebackers are among the best in football, and their o line is still really strong. Once they get gronk and amendola back, they will be as complete a team as you'll see. They are a real sb threat that people are totally ignoring.

117
by Brendan Scolari :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:40pm

They're certainly pretty good, but even with those two back I wouldn't expect their offense to get near the Broncos nor their defense to close that gap entirely.

125
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:59pm

Their Defense is currently at -18%, which is about 10% better than Denver's defense.

Denver's offense is at 51%, but offense seems to always be better at the beginning of the season. I'd be surprised if they end up at 40%, which means the Patriots have to be at +30% offense to keep up. Which is pretty much where they are every year.

Yeah, they'll be a little rough for the next couple of weeks, but frankly, I'm not convinced that Welker is worlds better than Edelman (he IS better, but I'm not convinced hes significantly better), and I'd be really surprised if Thomkins/Boyce/etc isn't better than Branch/Lloyd.

Hernandez killing people sucks, but they'll get Gronk back soon, and I'd be surprised if they're not one of the 5 best offenses in the league come playoff time.

136
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:26pm

There is so much speculation over what will happen here.

First off, Denver's offense last year got better by DVOA as the season went on, not worse. Their defense is also missing their best player (a Top-10 defensive player league-wide) who will be back in three games, and arguably their second best player who should be back soon. (Yes, I realize the Pats are missing Gronk, but getting Gronk back and getting Miller back is close to a wash).

The Patriots have been near +30% DVOA Offense, but they are nowhere close right now (at least heading into last week). That is a lot of ground to catch up. We will see, but I think New England is scary in that "They are New England" way, but sometimes that just doesn't hold.

Also, I want to see how the Pats defense adjusts to losing Wilfork, something they haven't had to deal with in years.

163
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 4:47pm

"There is so much speculation over what will happen here."

We're 4 games in. Of course there is.

"First off, Denver's offense last year got better by DVOA as the season went on, not worse"

Irrelevant. They weren't at a historic pace last year. A lot more teams start the season at extremes than end that way. Regression to the mean and all that.

"The Patriots have been near +30% DVOA Offense, but they are nowhere close right now"

Of course they aren't. But I'm not trying to say their DVOA will ever get that high (it probably won't, and if it does, their weighted is going to be something like +50%).

What I'm saying is that there's a good chance they'll be playing at that sort of level by the end of the season.

196
by Scott Crowder (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 7:11pm

Speaking of starting at extremes vs ending that way:

Denvers first four games: outscored opponents 179-91.
Seattle's last four (regular season) games 2012: outscored opponents 170-43.

Wondering which one was better by DVOA during those spans?

142
by Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:34pm

That's assuming that both defenses stay exactly where they are right now, which is a pretty big assumption. You're forgetting that Denver also gets Von Miller back and that Wilfork went down for the Pats. The truth is we have no idea how these units will be playing at the end of the year.

124
by Theo :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 2:58pm

Aaron Schatz: "Troy Polamalu, to name four [one] guys who looked really good."

Eh no. Polamalu was horrible in London. It's safe to say that the Steelers were playing 10 man defense and added one guy who tries to make the highlight reel on every play.
I'm getting sick and tired of this guy, because sometime last year he just started doing whatever he wants and because he makes a play once every 6 quarters that makes it to the highlight shows, everyone thinks he's still good.

129
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:07pm

Agree here. Polamalu can generally be relied upon to bite on pretty much every play fake, over commit on pretty much everything, and generally be out of position most of the game.

That worked really well when he was 25 and was the most athletic player on the field, and surrounded by elite talent. He'd bite on a playfake, but be able to change direction and close quick enough that it didn't hurt him, but now hes not fast enough, or agile enough to make up for his mistakes. He'll still guess right occasionally and blow up a play, but there are plenty of teams whose entire gameplans consist of "pick on Troy".

179
by Theo :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:38pm

he plays linebacker nowadays; when they go 2 deep, they add another safety. Add some whiffed or half assed tackles, bad angles (he played that Peterson run inside out and was blocked on his butt by Webb... a QB convert to WR), mix in a little OCD and a total lack of aggressiveness and that completes my live scouting report on Polamalu in London.

243
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 11:47am

Although you wouldn't think it -- most QBs turned WRs should be able to knock a safety on their butts. QBs, on average, are TE-sized.

147
by Anon (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:40pm

"This was one of the first times that RG3 well... RG3ed so far this season. The pocket collapsed but he felt the pressure and was able to avoid multiple defenders en route to a perfect pass to Helu. Almost every other QB in the league takes a sack there."

Griffin III has been superb this season at avoiding the sack. He's played above-average at the position, especially in a season where QB play has been subpar in general. The run/read-option game hasn't been there, but this is allowing him to refine his skills as a pocket-passer.

152
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 3:52pm

I watched Rg3's redskins performance and then a bit of the gb performance. At no time did I think he played above average. They were both horrendous performances.

161
by Anon (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 4:43pm

Yo do know he's outplayed a handful of other QBs that have better defenses and special teams supporting them, right? He was actually great in the GB game; his slow start was only magnified by the hilarious ineptitude of the Redskins defense. (And yes, his production in the 2nd half isn't meaningless. There's explanatory and predictive value to a QBs net yards per attempt, with TDs and INTs factored in for explanatory purposes). He also played well yesterday versus a Raiders defense that blitzed him throughout the game.

He hasn't been the same player he was in '12, but some people often compare him to the old RGIII instead of what he's doing against his peers right now. And he's been better than the average NFL starter, while still rounding back into form after his injury.

168
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:01pm

Well, I guess we will have to agree to disagree. I thought he was miserable in the gb game and you had to look at the type of throws he was making in the second half before just factoring in yardage totals. He threw a ton of passes to running backs because the defense was essentially playing off. Against the eagles, he was similarly horrific.

178
by Anon (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:29pm

RGIII was throwing downfield both games. He was playing catch-up, and crappy QBs that throw checkdowns don't tend to produce even in blowouts. Think about it: if a QB is crappy at throwing the ball downfield, he'll hate having to do that when his team is behind in the game and he HAS to try to make a play against defenses playing for the pass. Even if he hits a checkdown here or there to move the sticks, the field shrinks and more passes have to be thrown into the strength of the defense.

As for QBR; nothing against the stat. But with the "clutch" factor added in, it's punitive when you're playing most of your snaps in blowouts. FO has Griffin III ranked in the middle of the pack; Pro-Football Reference has him there as well by ANY/A.

202
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 7:40pm

As has been repeated ad nauseum, they removed the 'clutch' rating this year.

206
by Anon (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 8:15pm

Not sure what the "ad nauseam" is for; I didn't read that here. Thanks for the info.

211
by dbostedo :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 9:27pm

The "ad nauseum" is because that fact about the removal of the clutch factor came up 5 or 6 times on these forums in the early part of the season. And you're supposed to have read every one of them, of course!

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by Anon (not verified) :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 1:14am

Yes, of course.

With that said, I'm satisfied with the stats that FO and P-F-R provide over QBR. More stats are always welcome, but I can get a good gauge of who's who at QBs here and elsewhere with easier calculation (in some cases) and without some of the subjective methodology.

221
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 2:37am

FO and pfr are by far worse stats for measuring individual quality. This has been stated, by me, ad nauseum. FO's stats reflect team performances, despite having metrics for individuals. Correlate qb dvoa or dyar with team dvoa and you get 98 percent r2. That should tell you all you need to do.

QBR is subjective, yes, but so is FO and we don't know all the weights they put on things. For instance, FO prefers to weight red zone performance because its more predictive. That may be a good thing and it may not. We go on faith that their weights are effective and their baseline averages are solid. I can make many statistical arguments about why such measurements themselves can be highly arbitrary/misleading, but I accept that they do a good job regardless.

QBR at least makes an attempt to isolate qb play in ways standard stats cannot. It factors in drops, circumstances, passes which are defensed vs inaccurate. Depth of throws, benefits of YAC, etc etc. The kind of stuff we want to parse through. About the only criticism I have of it is still doesn't quite separate wrs or o line from performance and there are no opponent adjustments. Beyond that, it is the best stat for measuring qbs out there imo.

224
by Anon (not verified) :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 3:22am

"FO's stats reflect team performances, despite having metrics for individuals."

QBR doesn't solve this either; there's always the issue of team confounds. Two people looking at the same play can differ in opinion in how credit should be debited (and how much credit should be debited) over what takes place. I watched a college football game where the play-by-play crew debated for a couple minutes over a dropped pass; one blamed the wide receiver for not making the catch while the other blamed the QB for not taking something off the throw. You encounter this up and down the football ranks.

My point is this: even without the extra information that goes into QBR, I can still get a solid ranking of NFL QBs with solid explanatory and predictive value just by the numbers that are publicly available and with less computational hassle. I just make the mental adjustments to the rankings based on the games and film I watch anyway. And I think that Griffin III, for example, has been more of a middle-of-the-pack QB this season than #30, especially when his defense and special teams sure as heck hasn't helped with the Redskins' scoring margin this season (the Raiders game notwithstanding).

225
by Anon (not verified) :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 3:24am

But hey - that's just me. YMMV, as the cliche goes.

226
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 3:26am

Fair enough. We all do that. I just think sometimes when people see radically different results, its better to consult the stats. And if we do that, then its best to go with QBR is all. All of the negative you brought up are fair, but they are far outweighed by the positives. Just because its proprietary and more complex, doesn't mean its not giving a better idea of what isolated qb performance is. And btw, FO uses the same espn charting data for its own charting project, so if you like FO's charting work, then you should be ok with espn's.

228
by Anon (not verified) :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 3:44am

To be clear here, I use FO's stats more for the team efficiency numbers than the individual QB numbers. I only used them as it pertained to Griffin III to provide other takes of his QB play. I don't find FO's charting any more infallible than ESPN's.

233
by Independent George :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 9:32am

I was being rude, and I apologize. There was no need for the 'ad nauseum' bit - I should have just informed you of the change and move on. Again - I'm sorry for that.

Anyway, I agree with the point made above that QBR seems more geared to assigning individual responsibility than FO and PFP, which is exactly why I do find it useful. It's subject to the charter's bias like all such stats, but it's far superior to my making judgements based on what few games I get to watch. As with all stats, it's a useful tool to be used as part of a wider analysis, and not an all-encompassing summary of QB value.

Personally, I still use PFR's ANY/A as a quick shorthand for performance - it's got its shortcomings, but it works reasonably well as a simplified metric.

254
by Anon (not verified) :: Wed, 10/02/2013 - 2:09pm

No worries. The average internet blogger is way more cruel than you tried to be when you made your QBR post. :-)

I agree with what you said, in essence. I'm not at all denying that QBR has its place; it's another useful tool for analysis. And that's what it is - a tool. Just like with all tools, it's better with some cases rather than others. Re: Griffin III; I believe that the other stats speak more to his play this season. That's all.

169
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:03pm

If qbr is any indicator, RG3 is ranked 30th, behind eli manning, joe flacco, and sam bradford. Now, obviously he's being forced to carry the team, so qbr is probably overstating his poor play. And I do expect him to progress a bunch as the season goes forward. Nevertheless, to say he's been above average so far is a total stretch.

166
by Anon (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 4:56pm

Looking elsewhere around the league, the bashing of Matt Schaub is senseless. I'm not even a fan of Schaub, but I challenge someone else to name another QB that has played better against the Seahawks defense this season.

173
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:21pm

While it's true that people are focusing on the one outlier instead of the whole body of work, that pick six was one heck of an outlier.

181
by Anon (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:47pm

It's one play. Silly to focus on one play when the whole body of work is what matters the most; the reason people can even enjoy ripping Matt Schaub right now is because the score was close. And the score was score mainly because of...Matt Schaub, for Houston didn't have a spectacular game on the ground. Cam Newton was closest to Schaub performance-wise, but QBs have been punked by the Seattle defense this season.

193
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 6:56pm

I do agree with you. Schaub has had a better Texans career than fans give him credit for. I'm just saying that people (wrongly) focus on the attention-grabbing outlier, and everything else fades in the background. Like how people see one airline crash and are suddenly terrified to fly, ignoring the millions of other flights that happen without a hitch. For Schaub, that pick six was like a Dreamliner crashing into a mountain, killing all on board.

184
by Anon (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:54pm

Houston's pass defense also played well.

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by Scott Crowder (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 7:13pm

Name one QB who got to face the Seahawks defense when it was playing zone.

Why WERE they playing zone the first half anyways? That makes zero sense. Once they went back to man, Schaub looked very much like every other QB that's faced Seattle.

201
by Anon (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 7:40pm

I don't know; why were they playing zone exclusively in the first half, especially when the coaches and personnel know their own team's strengths/weaknesses on defense? And that of their opponent (after all, they spend money and resources scouting teams ahead of time)? To make Schaub seem like an awesome QB on purpose? You tell me.

I don't buy that as a reason. Yes, strategies and adjustments are part of the game, and credit Seattle's defense for making the adjustments to play better in the 2nd half. But what Schaub did against them in the 1st half and overall isn't fraudulent, in the least. He still made the playas against a defense that's geared and equipped to clamp down their opponent.

205
by Perfundle :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 8:15pm

The point is that the plays he made cannot be compared to the plays the other three QBs made, because they were facing a different scheme.

207
by Anon (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 8:28pm

I understood him the first time.

215
by EricL :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 11:14pm

Speaking of halftime adjustments...

Four of Seattle's last five road games (including playoffs last year) have seen the Seattle defense pitch a 2nd half shutout. The only game of those five where they gave up 2nd half points was at Atlanta.

167
by Rick S (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 5:01pm

Wilfork torn Achilles... bad news for Pats. Sorry to see an injury like that to an all time great, even though I'm not a fan of the Pats...

Which defensive player is more important to their team, Wilfork to Pats or Von Miller to Denver?

186
by Gorilla Graham (not verified) :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 6:02pm

I'd guess Wilfork. I'm a Broncos fan, and love Miller, but Wilfork seems more important in the grand scheme. Miller's missed, but can, sort of, be replaced.

187
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 6:12pm

Well, the Broncos defense without Miller has dropped a bit from last year, but would probably have dropped anyway. There is no long-term evidence of what the Patriots defense is without Wilfork.

I would say Miller because not only is he the better player at his position (Wilfork is really good, Miller was better last year, and at least approached Watt level of dominance) but if he can make the Broncos pass rush what it was last year (or even close to that), it allows their defense to play so much better against the pass.

210
by RickD :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 9:07pm

Wilfork is really going to be missed in the run defense. It remains to be seen how badly he'll be missed, and who will be getting the snaps in his absence.

I tend to think that pass rushers are overrated, and that would lean towards Wilfork being missed more. In any case, Miller will be back relatively soon, while Wilfork won't be back until next season.

223
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 2:47am

I tend to think while wilfork will be missed, the patriots won't try and use his backup as if he were wilfork. They will probably change some defensive alignments, change gap assignments, maybe rely more on spikes and hightower, but in the end, I don't think it hurts them that much. I would argue losing talib would be far more disastrous.

Personally, the Von miller absence in vaccum would be a lot worse. I say that mostly because while pass rushers are overrated by the media, they are one of the few positions where the difference between great and decent is quite large. Unless you run a kind of rex ryan scheme of blitzing, I think its hard to replace what von miller brings.

192
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 6:40pm

I'm starting to think Seattle are charmed this season. On the road, down 20-3 with a line that would make the Jags blush and they pull off the comeback. It might be their year.

222
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/01/2013 - 2:40am

I felt that way about Atlanta in their first 13-3 season with Ryan. That was the year they won that SF game with a int fumble that set up the game winning field goal. They also won a slew of other close games that year, much like last years team. In the end, the first one ended in a complete annihilation at home to the packers and last years team lost in a heartbreaker to 49ers, showing destiny is an awfully fickle bitch.

213
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Greg Jennings wishes he could play the Steelers every week.

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