Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Seventh Day Adventure: Week 13

The biggest game this week is the Iron Bowl, where the playoff hopes of Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia hang in the balance.

08 Sep 2014

Audibles at the Line: Week 1

compiled by Andrew Potter

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to turn into (if they can).

On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

While these e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means 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 Steelers 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.

Washington Redskins 6 at Houston Texans 17

Vince Verhei: Congrats, everyone. We made it to another year.

Rivers McCown: I've been really unimpressed with Robert Griffin. He seems to have trouble keeping his eyes downfield when the rush comes, and hasn't done a great job identifying pre-snap rushers. I'd love to see someone with team experience break down what they think happened to him last season and how it has changed him.

I've also been unimpressed with Ryan Fitzpatrick. But I expected that. Arian Foster seems to be spending a whole lot of time out wide, which is an interesting development for fantasy owners.

Matt Waldman: I fear Griffin is close to having what made him a fine prospect beaten out of him. That said, this game has strong potential to be a low water mark for Griffin this year.

Andrew Potter: I know, I know, J.J. Watt, but with a missed extra point and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, Washington's special teams seems to have started this season looking to maintain last season's record-chasing form.

Tennessee Titans 26 at Kansas City Chiefs 10

Tom Gower: Half-time at Arrowhead, with the Titans on top 10-3. They've had some adventures in pass protection (Andy Levitre's vulnerability to power has been on full display this game) and haven't run the ball with any sustained success, but Jake Locker had some nice throws on their touchdown drive and their other score came on a short field after an awful Alex Smith pick late in the half.

On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs are looking like last year's Chiefs would look minus Dwayne Bowe and with some questions on the offensive line, plus with a light workload on Jamaal Charles. Namely, a lot of third-and-longs that end up with Alex Smith using his legs. The Titans haven't gotten much of a pass rush, but Donnie Avery, Frankie Hammond, Anthony Fasano, and company haven't been able to beat the coverage. Imagine that.

Cian Fahey: Jason McCourty has two picks on throws down the field. Both looked like bad throws from Smith. His spending power may be stronger now, but his arm remains limp.

Tom Gower: Kansas City didn't find their offense in the second half. Jamaal Charles still got the ball rarely, and didn't find much space when he did. Their receivers still can't win on the outside and Alex Smith isn't the type of quarterback who can make throws on his own. As Cian noted earlier, those that did ended up as interceptions (two second half picks, one on an underthrow and the other when Donnie Avery couldn't make a contested catch). With Derrick Johnson reportedly done for the year and Mike DeVito also going out with an Achilles injury, the Titans found running room easier to come by in the second half and Locker continued to play with his customary first-read efficiency. If you were on board with our pessimistic KC projection, today's game makes you nod knowingly.

Cian Fahey: The Titans were a horrible matchup for the Chiefs. You need to be able to throw the ball down the field to attack that Titans secondary and Alex Smith clearly can't do that as the primary function of an offense. Jake Locker did enough to help the Titans win, but he was very inconsistent, especially when it came to throwing in the direction of Justin Hunter.

Rivers McCown: What are "Things you don't want said about the quarterback you just signed to a $68 million extension"?

New England Patriots 20 at Miami Dolphins 33

Aaron Schatz: Well, Revis Island appears to not be as scary as Sherman Island. Miami just completed a nice crossing pattern to Mike Wallace where Wallace left Revis behind. Too bad Tannehill threw it a little bit behind Wallace, which meant Wallace couldn't get any YAC. Scott wrote about Wallace earlier this year, but this one was on the quarterback, not on Wallace's lack of catch radius.

Rob Gronkowski seems to be playing in general on just third downs and in the red zone.

And then right after I sent that last e-mail, Ryan Tannehill launches a deep pass to Mike Wallace when he finds his first read (a screen) covered. Except he underthrows it a little and Devin McCourty leaps up to intercept. Again, that's on Tannehill, not Wallace. Ian Dembsky (ex-Scramble writer) had a good point: Tannehill is making the kind of throws a college quarterback makes, not the kind of throws an NFL quarterback makes.

Halftime in Miami, three notes.

1) Miami made a really strange decision. Patriots had the ball on third down on the 27 and Kenbrell Thompkins got called for OPI. Patriots had 10 seconds left and one timeout. The choices:

-- Miami can accept penalty, Patriots have 10 seconds and another third down which means essentially one shot to either get a closer field goal or hit a 37-yard touchdown. Otherwise, 55-yard field goal try.

-- Miami can decline penalty. Patriots get much easier 45-yard FG try.

They declined the penalty. I know Brady is good, but he isn't as good at the deep ball as he used to be. He was going to end up dumping it off and maybe getting back to the 45-yard field goal... I don't have time to run odds now but I've got to think the odds say expected score is higher for the Patriots if the Dolphins just let them have the 45-yard attempt.

2) Gronkowski is now playing more than just third down and the red zone. He caught a nice one on a first-and-20 on that final drive of the half.

3) Revis looks like a very good cornerback, not "he's shut down half the field" good. He let Mike Wallace get past him for what would have been a touchdown except the pass was just a little bit too far and Wallace was out of the end zone. The Dolphins are not afraid to throw where he is covering. But I think part of that might be that their best receiver is being covered by Revis. One reason Green Bay could get away with not throwing at Sherman all night is that the Seahawks leave Sherman always on the same side. The Packers knew that one outside receiver was much better than their other outside receiver, so they just stuck Boykin over there and forgot about him all night. I'm guessing that won't happen when a team with two strong outside receivers plays the Seahawks. (Arizona, for example.)

If Revis is going to play the other team's best receiver and not stay on one side, I'm guessing that other teams will throw his way. The question is what happens when Brandon Browner gets back, because Browner has never moved from side to side... with Seattle, like Sherman, he always played the same side (the other side from Sherman, of course).

Cian Fahey: On the Revis-Wallace thing, wrote about it earlier this week. In their previous meetings Revis hasn't covered Wallace all the time when they've played in the past and I believe that is because of his speed. While Revis shuts down the sideline, he's susceptible to double moves and comebacks. See chart in this article.

Vince Verhei: Others have mentioned the specific plays, but Wallace has been inches away from three or four huge plays. A very frustrating day.

Aaron Schatz: Miami now seriously dominating at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Miami's interior offensive line dominating the Patriots' defensive tackles is the more surprising result I think. Also interesting to see the Dolphins being "multiple." I mean, actually multiple, not just talking about it, but going back and forth between 3-4 and 4-3.

Knowshon Moreno just amazing today. The Pats have finally started breaking through the Miami line and instead Moreno is breaking tackles when they get to him. They just had him eight yards away from the end zone on a third down they had to stop, and he got away and scored to put the Dolphins up 10 with less than 4:00 left.

Oakland Raiders 14 at New York Jets 19

Vince Verhei:Do we have records for lowest yards per completions for teams in a single game? Raiders were at 7.6 today. Probably not the worst ever, but very bad.

Scott Kacsmar: Well Vince, are you pointing us in the direction of genetics? Because my first thought would be to check any 2006 Houston Texans game with David Carr.

Rivers McCown: Surely something in Matt Schaub's last 16 starts belongs.

Aaron Schatz: I'm thinking Joey Harrington...

Andrew Potter: Or stick with the Raiders. You remember JaMarcus. 12-of-21 for 61 yards (!) and two interceptions.

Tom Gower: Not even close to a record, which for reasonable numbers of completions is generally in the sub-5.5 per range. Matt Cassel completed 22 passes for 119 yards in the Chiefs' 41-7 loss to Buffalo Week 1 of 2011. In smaller completion sizes, JaMarcus Russell completed 12 passes for 61 yards in a 23-3 loss to the Broncos in 2009 and Steve McNair and Kyle Boller combined to complete 16 passes for 84 yards for the Ravens in a 38-7 loss to the Steelers in 2007.

If you go older, David Archer went 11-22 for 53 yards and a pick-6 for the 1986 Falcons in a 14-7 loss to the Rams. There are more games if you back before 1978 (Fran Tarkenton 11-22 for 47 in a 38-0 win!), but I think that's a reasonable cutoff.

Jacksonville Jaguars 17 at Philadelphia Eagles 34

Cian Fahey: Allen Hurns. Miniature Dez Bryant. Love this guy.

Matt Waldman: Allen Hurns...last September.

Ben Muth: Through a quarter and change Nick Foles has looked terrible. He's been very indecisive, he has started his throwing motion and pulled it back multiple times, and has taken too many sacks. He's been inaccurate when he has let it go too.

On defense, Cary Williams is making Allen Hurns look like the second coming of Jerry Rice.

Cian Fahey: I'd like to say I'm surprised by this Nick Foles implosion. I'd like to.

Aaron Schatz: National Jump to Conclusions Week, of course, but a) Obviously, I think we all knew Foles wasn't going to be *as* good as last year again, although he's better than this, and b) There's a good chance that this is "Gus Bradley knows how to run a defense and his players are developing" as much or more than "Foles is not as good as last year."

Scott Kacsmar: Haven't watched, but this still has to be one of the biggest shocks for a Week 1 game. Jaguars have led by 15-plus points in one game (2011 Buccaneers) since 2011. Up 17-0 in Philadelphia with Chad Henne throwing multiple touchdowns to a guy that was buried on the depth chart? Wow.

Aaron Schatz: Well, Hurns was not buried on the depth chart... he was a UDFA, but had advanced to No. 3 on the depth chart by the end of the preseason, and Cecil Shorts is hurt which makes him a starter.

But otherwise, yes.

Cian Fahey: The Eagles finally caught up to the Jaguars. In spite of that, this can't be considered a positive day for the Eagles fans who are expecting big things from this team this year.

Ben Muth: Well the Eagles absolutely dominated that second half. Foles was still a little inaccurate, but he was much more decisive and had plenty of open guys to go to, including a wide open Jeremy Maclin on the go-ahead 70-yard touchdown. Also worth pointing out that Sproles and McCoy were probably the best two players on the field.

The big concern for Philly is probably going to be their secondary, and what the offensive line looks like going forward. Mathis got rolled up and was carted into to locker room, his replacement gave up couple of quarterback hits and got called for a hold.

For the Jags, I think points will be tough to come by this year. They were terrible on 3rd downs and got all their points off deep passes to a UDFA wide receiver or from Philly turnovers. The o-line looks shaky, and at this point I think we all know what Chad Henne is in the NFL.

Matt Waldman: I believe the thing with Foles is that his decision-making under pressure remains suspect, but as long as that Philly o-line plays well and the Kelly offense exploits the middle of the field with all of its weapons Foles is a competent driver of a dynamic offensive vehicle.

Vince Verhei: "In spite of that, this can't be considered a positive day for the Eagles fans who are expecting big things from this team this year."

Well, no, but it's not as bad as it seems on the surface. More than a quarter of Jacksonville's passing yardage (with about a minute to go still) came on the two first-quarter touchdowns. Fix those two plays and things look a lot better. Jacksonville didn't convert a third down in the first half and finished just 2-for-14.

The offensive concerns are more legitimate. A lot of those troubles were self-inflicted, even if they did overcome them in the second half.

Cleveland Browns 27 at Pittsburgh Steelers 30

Scott Kacsmar: As I expected all summer, the Steelers open the season by huddling on offense like normal. Of course it doesn't matter when they're screening and slanting the Browns to death with YAC, but things stalled in the red zone (also a norm).

Dan Fouts brought up an interesting point we may hear about more in the future. Jordan Cameron burned Lawrence Timmons down the field for a 47-yard gain. The play clock starts immediately and the offense has to spend a lot of time getting down the field on such big gains. Cleveland burned a timeout because the clock was running down. Fouts thinks teams need more time. I mentioned recently if the NFL was really trying to chase fantasy points (at Richard Sherman's suggestion), then we would see adoption of the college clock rules where the clock stops after a first down to reset the ball. Wouldn't surprise me if the NFL does make that change. Would make games longer and offenses would have even bigger stats. I never really heard anyone complain about this, but I could definitely see this happening.

I've seen every Roethlisberger touchdown pass, but that last one has to be one of the best yet. Escaped, threw on the run with all he could and still was very accurate to Brown. He has 211 yards on 13 throws and they haven't even brought out his treasured no-huddle offense yet. Don't even need to today. I also think Markus Wheaton is a perfect replacement for Emmanuel Sanders and he's looked the part so far. As I type this, Antonio Brown just hurdled-kicked the punter right in the face. Expect to hear about a fine for that one.

Now Le'veon Bell just had the best run of his brief career (38 yards for a score). This isn't even hyperbole, Steelers are just making ridiculous plays against Cleveland's defense, which has not tackled well. Nearly 300 yards of offense halfway through the second quarter. Hoyer started the day with that great throw to Cameron, but the Browns have literally done nothing else on offense since that play.

Vince Verhei: "I never really heard anyone complain about this, but I could definitely see this happening."

Allow me to be the first. Between the hurry-up, the increase in passing (and thus incompletions), and the first-down rule, college games are just way too long and hard to watch. Football games should not routinely top three and a half hours.

Tom Gower: The NFL moved away from that rule after 1989, I believe, because games were taking FOREVER. Game time immediately dropped a fair amount the next season.

Scott Kacsmar: Browns picked up the tempo in the third quarter and the Steelers had no answers. A lot of open receivers down the field. A broken play by Hoyer on third-and-1 is about the only reason the Browns didn't score three straight touchdowns. Browns are sacking Roethlisberger this half and will be getting the ball back to tie things up. Hard to believe this was 27-3.

Matt Waldman: Isaiah Crowell - the most talented RB in this draft class . . . we'll see if he can keep his head on straight. That's the only real question otherwise, you're looking at a back with style (and actually the talent) to rival a mix of Marshawn Lynch and Edgerrin James.

Cian Fahey: It does help that he (Crowell) is running against a team that should have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL this year.

Matt Waldman: No doubt, you and your bum leg could have only lost a couple of yards in that huge crease. Still It is telling the team went to Crowell and doesn't take away what he has shown throughout his career.

J.J. Cooper: This is a win for the Steelers but it's probably more encouraging for Cleveland. Brian Hoyer was quite efficient at finding gaps in the Steelers zone coverage. Admittedly they were big gaps. And losing Ben Tate to injury in the first half didn't matter as the Steelers run defense was gashed repeatedly.

Not to get into a bash Todd Haley discussion but the Steelers got very conservative and run happy in the third quarter after Ben Roethlisberger threw for nearly 300 yards in the first half. Pittsburgh did get over 100 yards from LeVeon Bell but combined big plays with no gains. The Steelers have not shown that they can grind out drives by running the ball.

Minnesota Vikings 34 at St. Louis Rams 6

Scott Kacsmar: Jeff Fisher benched Shaun Hill, or is he injured? They just showed a highlight package and Hill was under pressure on almost every single play.

FOX is reporting strained calf for Hill, so it's injury-related. Sanchez to St. Louis just got a little more likely.

Tom Gower: Jeff Fisher's history shows not the kind of coach who benches a veteran quarterback just because he wasn't playing well. Either the owner stepped in, the quarterback is hurt, or the quarterback's been skipping meetings and cursing him out in the locker room.

Matt Waldman: I said this when he was at the University of Tennessee, Cordarrelle Patterson is the best open field runner I have ever seen.

Cincinnati Bengals 23 at Baltimore Ravens 16

Scott Kacsmar: Joe Flacco had a short field goal in his back pocket before the half and wasted the clock with one of the worst plays you'll see today. To put a spin on a Desaparecidos lyric, "emptied my skills to fill my bank account."

Aaron Schatz: Wallace Gilberry ends the Baltimore-Cincinnati game with two sacks. Great, underrated pass rusher.

Vince Verhei: I didn't see a ton of this game, but Steve Smith and A.J. Green trading long playground touchdowns in the fourth quarter was fun.

I also saw the Bengals running at least three zone read options. This, for obvious reasons, seems like a terrible idea, but it seemed to work more often than it failed.

Rob Weintraub: Change of pace from me -- I can't do my usual Bengals-centric recap, as I'm in London on a business trip. So I found a pub (Jetlag Sports Bar!) showing the NFL, which here means Sky Sports and the Pats-Fish. They also streamed (illegally, I'm guessing) the Bears-Bills on a small set across the pub from where I was. In case you aren't familiar with how it works internationally, the regular CBS telecast was shown, but every third ad break they went to a studio discussion and showed decently updated highlights (with the "Red Zone" label, so clearly there is a deal there). In the studio are three men: a Curt Menefee look and sound-alike, a Brit named Neil Reynolds who knows his stuff but is a pale imitation of my old colleague Gary Imlach, and, randomly, former Bears DB Shaun Gayle.

The toughest thing was that Sky takes a "clean feed", meaning -- horrors! -- no yellow third down line. It took me a minute to readjust my brain to its absence, but soon enough I was partying like it was 1993 again.

I only saw about three plays from Cincy, so in that sense it was like the early-90s as well. Having said that, I'll stay here all season if it means winning every time...

New Orleans Saints 34 at Atlanta Falcons 37 OT

Matt Waldman: Interesting to see Travaris Cadet on two of the first seven plays during New Orleans' initial drive. Mark Ingram is running with good burst, which wasn't always on display so early in his runs in previous seasons. Brandin Cooks opened with an intermediate crossing route where he went airborne and took a hit while catching the ball. He also earned a third down target that he caught, but had to come back to the ball and was well short of the marker. The initial drive stalled when Zach Strief was called for an illegal hands to the face penalty that took away a Jimmy Graham reception that would have put the Saints near the 10.

Forget about the concerns about Jake Matthews at left tackle. The true concern is Lamar Holmes has to start. The right tackle gets knocked three steps backward with a stride and allows a bull rush into Ryan that forces the Falcons quarterback to check down for two. Then a four man rush where Holmes gets beat and the running back has to help as Ryan rushes a throw and overshoots Hester on third down to force a punt.

Holmes is a liability in pass protection and I won't be surprised if Atlanta is forced use a running back on the front side when they really would like to use him on the blindside to help the rookie. I'm thinking at least three sacks to Ryan before this game is up.

Falcons get two tough runs from Steven Jackson on second drive where he breaks a tackle on each to get close to four yards on each. Then Atlanta spreads the field and catches New Orleans napping on Levine Toilolo who earns a first down on a short flat route and then a drag route off play action for 12 yards where he didn't "leap over defenders" as suggested as much as get hit in the legs and fall forward. Just as Atlanta finds the right play to get inside the 10 -- a smoke screen to Julio Jones -- the Falcons' big-play threat rips through a crease up the left flat and Jairus Byrd knocks the ball loose at the Saints seven. New Orleans recovers.

Atlanta already calling shorter plays thanks to its line unable to give Ryan time. We're going to see a lot of spread sets to widen the field since they can't lengthen it consistently.

Brandin Cooks is a fine example of a "not quite" player as a perfect fit. He's not quite Percy Harvin and not quite Darren Sproles. In New Orleans system that loves "not quite" one traditional position or another, it means Cooks is quite a weapon.

Aaron Schatz: We write about this all the time. Bill James used to write about it all the time. The best coaches are the ones who put their players in roles that emphasize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. When you do that, you can build your team with "tweeners" and "not quite" players and guys who can only do certain things. In baseball, that means a lot of platooning like Earl Weaver used to do. In football, we all do platooning, but nobody uses more diverse offensive personnel in more ways than Sean Payton.

Matt Waldman: Steven Jackson looking strong. He's really the team's best hope for balance if he stays healthy. Took a draw for 17 yards with good burst and bouncing off plenty of contact - even if it's his own team.

Lamar Holmes benched for Gabe Carimi in mid second quarter. Carimi allows the end to work under and around, forcing Ryan to scramble for 9 and then Ryan has to break the pocket to get inside the 20 for the first down. Meanwhile, LT Jake Matthews holding it down pretty well thus far.

Ingram looks quicker than he has, but Khiry Robinson looks quicker than any back the field today, save possibly Devonta Freeman.

One one play with less than 10 seconds in the half, Atlanta sees Roddy White and Jake Matthews hobbling off the field. Matthews collapses pressure inside and gets his foot-shin rolled up as Ryan rolls left and finds Roddy White up the left flat for 39 yards. White makes the leaping catch, gets kicked in the back of the leg and is gimpy. The TV crew thinks he banged his head hard on the field and it might be a concussion, but White had the presence of mind to call time out immediately. We'll see what the issue is but White was limping slightly and I don't think it's a head injury. Both players I think will be ready by the third quarter.

Jake Matthews out for the rest of the game in Atlanta. This could get ugly.

Vince Verhei: Matt Ryan was absolutely on fire in the first half, running for his life and making good reads and throws outside the pocket. I mentioned this on Twitter, and the Ryan haters popped up, including one guy who said that all Ryan did was throw to Julio Jones. I didn't have the heart to tell this guy (who I'm sure was paying close attention) that Jones' only catch of the first half resorted in a lost fumble.

Matt Waldman: Matt Ryan avoided a sack to scramble up the left sideline on third-and-10 and nearly got the first down. Valiant effort by Ryan today, no doubt. No sacks yet for New Orleans, but Ryan might be the biggest guy to credit at this point.

The YAC Wagon is working for Atlanta. Antone Smith takes a short flip to the left flat and breaks four arm tackles (four barely reaching him as he bursts up field) for a 54-yard score and the lead.

Vince Verhei: Antone Smith had five carries last year. All gained at least 8 yards, with a median gain of 38. This begged the question of why he only had five carries on such a moribund running attack.

On that note, Smith just caught a quick out, broke one tackle right away, another downfield, and eventually rumbled for a 50-ish yard touchdown.

Cian Fahey: The Saints running back situation looks prosperous. Khiry Robinson, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas all making different plays in different ways. Importantly, Thomas looks healthy and spry in the open field.

Matt Waldman: Devin Hester might be the discount version of Brandin Cooks. If you're a label whore, you'll scoff but if the Falcons continue to let him run quick-hitting plays like slants and crossers under Jones and White, he could be that Dollar General bargain for Atlanta's offense. He may not have been able to hang against the best two corners on a consistent basis in Chicago as a starter, but against nickel and dime corners or safeties concerned about White and Jones? Not bad.

Key catch by Devin Hester in the middle of the field to get into FG range and after a throwaway to Jones at sideline, Falcons send it into overtime with a 51-yard FG. Hester and Douglas as a tandom working out well as long as Ryan can continue to dodge bullets in the pocket and take punishment when he can't. Not sure Ryan can last this way, but ti's exciting.

Aaron Schatz: Wow. Stunned they were actually serious about using Hester as a receiver. That was one of those things like "The Steelers are going to use more no huddle this year."

Vince Verhei: This is going to sound weird, considering that New Orleans scored 34 points, but I was impressed with Atlanta's defensive backs today. Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, and Robert McClain all made a number of plays downfield. McClain had an interception in the end zone that obviously proved critical.

As for Atlanta's game-winning drive, I can't put it any better than Bill Barnwell did on Twitter: "Falcons get the ball after a Saints TO and then get super conservative. Two runs and PA power before 52-yard FG attempt. Classic Mike Smith."

San Francisco 49ers 28 at Dallas Cowboys 17

Aaron Schatz: The Cowboys are marching the ball against the 49ers today. They've just been undone by turnovers and their own defensive weakness.

Scott Kacsmar: First quarter had to be a PTSD moment for Dallas fans recalling the 1994 NFC Championship. Three quick turnovers produced a 21-0 SF lead in half a quarter that day. Today, definitely didn't expect Dallas' offense to put the team in such a hole. Do I turn this off to watch a Ron Rivera-Lovie Smith choke match? [Insert Derek Anderson autoerotic asphyxiation line here.] And no, nothing's funny to DA.

Rivers McCown: Obviously this was never much of a game, but I'm always impressed by Tony Romo's ability to be either excellent or so entertainingly bad that he's still compelling.

Ben Muth: I thought Tony Romo made a couple of bad throws early that really came back to haunt Dallas in this one.

Scott Kacsmar: All Dallas games are usually close in the end, but the early turnovers made this one a foregone conclusion. Felt like the 49ers were going through the motions with the big lead. Maybe DVOA will say something different, but Dallas' defense seemed to be okay in this one. Half of the points allowed were basically on the offense. But like I said, 49ers looked to ease up and could have done more damage if necessary.

Vince Verhei: ESPN.com's headline for this game: "Kaepernick exploits rusty Romo." Unless Tony Romo was covering Anquan Boldin, I don't see how this makes a lick of sense.

Rivers McCown: Surely they can't be too far away from starting Romo at safety.

Carolina Panthers 20 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14

Tom Gower: Derek Anderson's playing great, from what I've seen of the Bucs-Panthers contest. Composed in the pocket, getting time (the Panthers seem to be paying special attention to Gerald McCoy, which is the kind of thing Greg Cosell might describe as "good coaching"), and throwing accurately. Josh McCown, meanwhile, seems to be playing like he's Josh McCown.

Scott Kacsmar: Clarification: I meant choke game in Carolina-Tampa Bay as a substitute for "defensive slugfest." Two guys with ties to the Bears. Josh McCown probably still wishing he was in Chicago too.

Aaron Schatz: Yeah, Anderson is ridiculous today. Tons of time in the pocket. I think the story there is somewhat similar to the Miami-New England game. Carolina rebuilt offensive line playing better than expected, like Miami, and Tampa Bay offensive line looks like a mess, like New England.

Just in case anyone doubted how much the Chicago offensive line played a role in Josh McCown's performance last year, check out today's Tampa-Carolina game.

Scott Kacsmar: Well, McCown is the only quarterback in the last four years to have a positive DVOA under pressure. He's made some crazy plays under pressure on this drive, but generally, I expected that DVOA under pressure to drop big time in Tampa Bay. Logan Mankins getting hurt doesn't help.

Aaron Schatz: I realized that as soon as I saw the next e-mail was from you. So yeah, double jeopardy. There's no way McCown continues that fluky positive DVOA under pressure, and he's also going to be under pressure more often than he was a year ago.

Josh McCown drops the ball, picks it up, tries to throw anyway despite massive pressure, and throws it right to a Carolina defender. He appears to not only have statistical regression but also mental regression.

Scott Kacsmar: That McCown play was brutal and will have a bigger impact on the game, but I still can't shake Joe Flacco before halftime as the dumbest quarterback play today.

Andrew Potter: It's hard to tell which was worse: that, or the one he threw in the first quarter to Antoine Cason while a pass rusher was hanging off him.

Cian Fahey: Probably confirmation bias and I know the matchups were bad for the offense regardless, but the Buccaneers inability to beat the Panthers without Cam Newton is damning. That offensive line is overwhelmed and the quarterback is limited.

Vince Verhei: One more note on this game: Kelvin Benjamin's touchdown got a lot of attention, but he had another catch downfield in traffic that may have been just as important. Benjamin gives Carolina a downfield presence they badly lacked last year, and if he can do this regularly, the Panthers might be able to sneak back into the playoffs after all.

Indianapolis Colts 24 at Denver Broncos 31

Aaron Schatz: Someone call Von Miller and let him know Ryan Clady stole his ironic hipster glasses.

Scott Kacsmar: I should have started a poll earlier this week for which coach would be the first to bypass an easy fourth-and-1 decision inside the 40. Chuck Pagano probably just won. Adam Vinatieri shouldn't have been out there for that field goal. On the road in Denver, have to go for that fourth-and-1. Even T-Rich can get a yard.

Aaron Schatz: Through two NBC broadcasts now, there seems to be this narrative that everybody last year knew that Seattle was a historically great defense, that we were all talking about that going into the Super Bowl. I really don't think that's true. I remember people talking about Seattle as a very good defense, the best in the NFL right now. But very few people in the press (except us) were comparing them to the 1985 Bears and 2002 Bucs until after they dismantled the Broncos in the Super Bowl. NOBODY expected them to do what they did to Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl. They themselves probably didn't expect it.

Tom Gower: Is there much to say about this first half beside this is another episode of "this is the Denver offensive machine"? D'Qwell Jackson in space on Julius Thomas is just as much as mismatch as everybody expected, as shown on the TD to make it 17-0. Peyton Manning is almost impossible to sack, and the Colts are without Robert Mathis. The Colts are even doing a nice job of defeating blocks by a pretty solid Denver OL I and others thought would be upgraded, but that hasn't really mattered.

Aaron Schatz: It's also an episode of "The Andrew Luck Show," which you may remember from the Indianapolis chapter of FOA 2014. Let's see if Andrew Luck can stay upright behind A.Q. Shipley! Let's see if the Colts can somehow stop the Broncos without a pass rush!

Rivers McCown: Well the Colts have surely stopped the run well. Montee Ball is averaging (as of typing) 3.2 yards per carry.

So I'm sure that the offseason focus on stopping the run has paid off and that when I look at the scoreboard the Colts will be well on their way to a triumphant victory.

Scott Kacsmar: Earlier this week I looked at every game the Colts fell behind in by double-digits since 2012. The seven times they came back to win, Luck usually played pretty well or wasn't a problem to start the game before the Colts first trailed by two scores. In the 11 losses, he was considerably worse almost every time. Tonight, I'm not sure I'd call him terrible, but he's been a negative for the Colts. Don't see any comeback magic in this one. A playoff rematch would look quite different with Robert Mathis back and who knows what other roster changes between now and January. But this was always going to be a brutal matchup for Indy.

Posted by: Andrew Potter on 08 Sep 2014

173 comments, Last at 23 Sep 2014, 2:15pm by

Comments

1
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 8:30am

Antonio Brown punter stomp play is an all time NFL classic

Punter's twitter reaction is in great spirit.

Tomlin deer-in-the-headlights, foot off the gas, and more shameful
misuse of personnel and scheme by HOFer LeBeau. UGH. I don't
think I can take 15 more games of explosive offense scattered
in with terrible defense and play-prevent-offense with the lead.

Curious that ESPN is not really running with the TMZ/ Ray Rice clip story.
--- is it time for Goodell to resign?

--------------------------------------
The standard is the standard!

6
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:06am

To be fair, it should have been on air sooner, IMHO,
but Schefter is ripping the Ravens and NFL
and Goodell right now.

--------------------------------------
The standard is the standard!

2
by Travis :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 8:36am

Tom Gower: The NFL moved away from [the clock stops after a first down rule] after 1989, I believe, because games were taking FOREVER. Game time immediately dropped a fair amount the next season.

The NFL never had such a rule; the changes made after the 1989 season included cutting halftime from 15 minutes to 12 and restarting the game clock when the ball is spotted after most out-of-bounds plays and penalties.

I can't see any reason why the NFL, which really wants to fit its games within a 3 to 3-1/4 hour window, would adopt that rule now.

3
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 8:39am

"I can't see any reason why the NFL, which really wants to fit its games within a 3 to 3-1/4 hour window, would adopt that rule now."

Every change I can recall in the last 10 years has been made with the effect
of increasing the length of the game.

--------------------------------------
The standard is the standard!

4
by Travis :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 8:55am

Off the top of my head, enforcing kicking-team penalties at the end of the play rather than before a rekick has probably shortened games.

5
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:05am

Well, my comment was tongue in cheek about the NFL doing anything and everything
possible to increase scoring- which in turn causes more reviews, more kickoffs, more TV timeouts, etc.

--------------------------------------
The standard is the standard!

19
by Pat :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:03am

Scoring's only been up for the past 5 years or so. Most of the historical increase (except for the past 5 years) has nothing to do with the NFL - kicking has been continually improving for the last 50 years or so. If the NFL in 1983 had modern kickers, it would probably have still rivaled last year for highest-scoring NFL season. 50+ yard field goals were kicked at 38% in 1983 - last year they were kicked at 67%.

I don't think the NFL actually cares about increasing scoring. I think they *do* care about protecting players, specifically quarterbacks, for obvious PR reasons. The biggest scoring increases came about around 2010, which is when the rules changes to protect players kicked in.

Before that, correcting for the increased kicking accuracy, scoring was basically at historical average.

It's important to remember that you never hear about "points of less emphasis" from the league office. They don't tell you which rules they're going to give more leeway on, so it looks like they're always benefiting offenses.

25
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:16am

Scoring was actually down in Week 1. Sure, it is one week, but generally in the past 2-3 years when scoring has increased each season, it jumps highly in Sep-Oct, than drops. Through 14 games, we're averaging 22.6 points per game.

Just to show that while yardage will generally increase, scoring will stay somewhat level, so far teams are averaging 363 yards, a completion percentage of 64.6, a QB rating of 88.5 and an astounding 4.6 yard-per-carry, scoring was reasonably low.

27
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:17am

I think changing rules in the kicking game is where the game can be most improved. Spot the ball on the one on PATs. Make punting out of bounds a 15 yard penalty, or spotted at the 20. Narrow the goal posts. All of this would encourage more offensive plays from scrimmage, and make effective red zone defense more important. Some of it may run counter to the goal of improving player safety, however.

72
by Pat :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:02pm

Narrowing the goal posts is such a mind-bogglingly obvious thing that it's clear the NFL will never do it. I mean, really, people whine about the game changing, but almost no one talks about how you're virtually guaranteed points inside the 30 nowadays.

I mean, they actually changed the overtime rules in the playoffs, because people didn't like games being won by field goals in overtime. But did anyone talk about why these games were happening? Because a 50+ yard field goal is now better than a coin flip. So instead of fixing that problem, to restore a historical average, they... change the overtime rules? Huh?

I mean, it becomes even more striking when you realize that the goal posts were moved back in 1974. That means in 1973, field goal kickers hit 30-39 yard field goals 39% of the time. Those are now 90%!

I actually doubt you would need to move the PAT to the 1 if you narrowed the goal posts. Reducing the likelihood that you get the PAT would change the 2-point conversion logic anyway. Getting it back to 90% would probably do it, for instance.

81
by Arkaein :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:13pm

Something I have wanted to see for a few years, though I don't know if it would work in all stadiums, would be to move the goal posts back another 5 yards.

This would have the benefit of making FGs more difficult, while preserving the continuity of statistics for FG percentages, since a new 50 yard kick would still be the same difficulty as a current 50 yard kick, just from the 35 instead of the 40.

It would also make extra points slightly more difficult, though I agree that moving the ball to the 1 to increase the odds of 2-pt conversions would be another good move.

And while I suspect the incidence of injuries due to running into the goal posts is quite low, moving the posts away from the end zone might prevent such injuries altogether.

129
by Deelron :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 3:37pm

You could probably get a similar effect by raising the crossbar, and it'd have the added benefit of never having to hear about dunking the ball again (or if we did it'd be a hell of a dunk).

172
by Pen :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:49pm

Make the gal posts a hoop. Increase the value of the FG based upon yardage. Kicking the ball through a round hoop would be far more entertaining for the fans. Long field goals would be awesome shots and fans would love it.

28
by dank067 :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:17am

The NFL definitely cares about increasing scoring. Goodell visited the Packers shareholder meeting a few years ago (not sure exactly when, I just remember reading the article about it) and specifically said they were looking at rule changes for that purpose. I wonder if he was referring to the rules about protecting the QBs, as I think those changes came in a few years before concussions/player safety came to the forefront.

135
by Pat :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 5:04pm

Not according to the transcript of the meeting.

http://www.packers.com/news-and-events/article-1/Roger-Goodell-Press-Con...

That's the only meeting with the shareholders that I could see. He was asked about player safety, though.

138
by dank067 :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 5:23pm

Ok, I may be off-base then. I thought I had remembered reading it in the Journal-Sentinel, but I just searched and found three articles written right after that shareholder meeting in 2010 (including remarks he made in the stadium in front of all the fans) but no discussion of rules changes or scoring there.

Maybe I read it as an account by someone who went to the meeting on a Packers fan site/message board or something, but at this point I think I might just be misremembering.

7
by OldFox :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:08am

As a Browns fan, I get why every football website has some kind of comment to the effect that the Browns should be encouraged by their showing in the opening game, but it's such a backhanded compliment that I think I'd just prefer a good swift kick in the teeth. The Browns and their fans should be encouraged by a loss to the Steelers? Is this the NFL, or third grade? Maybe we should give each player a nice little participation trophy too.

Nobody is mentioning the fact that the Browns have now lost the opener in ten straight seasons (an all-time NFL record). But let me assure you that we Browns fans, while dwindling in number and admittedly somewhat bereft of our senses, are well aware of it. And we don't find it exactly encouraging to lose to the Steelers (as always) and to lose the opener (as always) and to realize that we're looking at another miserable season (as always). Exactly how long does it take to turn around a bad football team, anyway? The Browns have been terrible since 1999 and I'm still waiting for them to take that first step toward the apparently impossible dream of mediocrity.

22
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:08am

Having been a longtime fan of a moribund franchise myself (Lions), I've seen this movie over and over again. When the Browns had 4th and 7 on the Steelers 35, I was screaming for them to go for it. The upside of a 1st down (running down the clock and then scoring the go-ahead points) way overshadows the downside at giving the Steelers the ball at their own 35. When they lined up in punt formation instead, I basically knew the Steelers were going to win.

46
by OldFox :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:56am

I knew the Steelers were going to win when I saw the game listed on the schedule in the spring.

The Lions have a good QB and a world-class WR, so they have some promise. The Browns have ... uh ... how much longer is it until the 2015 draft?

49
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:04am

Well, Josh Gordon can be pretty good once he learns to stop secondhand inhaling weed. I don't have much faith in Johnny Boy working on his game enough to be a good NFL QB, but who knows? At the very least you can hope they realize quickly when it's not working, as opposed to what the Lions did with Joey Harrington.

As for the Lions, I have a feeling they're going to be like the Texans of the late two thousand-oughts. By the time they get their defense fixed, this Johnson will also have aged past his prime

54
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:26am

I think the hiring of Caldwell said that Detroit's management thought they were in danger of not getting back anything close to what has been invested in Stafford. It's the one reason I though the hire made sense. If Stafford's performance matches his physical tools, the Lions could regularly win 10-plus games, no matter what their defense does. Will Caldwell have that effect? I dunno, but it isn't the dumbest idea I've ever heard.

74
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:02pm

History is not on my side, but I hope you're right. If he can just get the team to prepare during the week like professionals (something that seemed to be sorely lacking under Schwartz), I'll be happy.

88
by herewegobrownie... :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:26pm

Don't forget that Gordon may yet be reinstated. (And with the Ravens being practically forced to do something about Ray Rice with the news today, things will work out the way they're supposed to.*)

As for Johnny, I suspect Hoyer will end up starting the entire season if he continues to show signs of being "good enough" as he did in the second half. They may just let him walk after that on the grounds of his being a career backup vs. Johnny's upside, and their desire to invest more in their 1st round pick and avoid a controversy. Hoyer turned down an initial extension offer on the grounds of it being too low, even though he wants to stay in his hometown.

*Even Ravens fans, on their forums, are suggesting that the team impose an additional suspension, then "deactivate" him, i.e. to prevent an innocent bystander from having to also be released under the cap hit that would come from releasing him.

80
by StefanWB :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:11pm

"The Browns have been terrible since 1999..."

You guys did make the playoffs in 2002. Remember Kelly Holcomb? That insane wildcard game you would've won if not for a huge comeback by...Tommy Maddox and the Steelers.

I'm not helping, am I?

90
by herewegobrownie... :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:31pm

And Browns fans also forget they were 10-6 in 2007, missing the playoffs only on the Colts resting their starters against the Titans.

None other than Toledo native Rob Chudzinski was OC that year, leading us to think that in his return this past year, coupled with some similar "vertical offense" personnel (Joe Thomas again, Cameron in place of Winslow II, and, for all of both their weaknesses, Weeden in place of Anderson,) he would help us succeed again.

96
by OldFox :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:58pm

Not exactly. :)

If the Butch Davis years were the franchise's high point, maybe things are even worse than I thought.

159
by Dan_L :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:21pm

I can't speak for everywhere else out there, but the "encouraged" statement seems to fit in well with the analysis by writers on this site. This isn't the place you go to hear "Team X won, and therefore they were good. Team Y lost, and therefore they were bad". Sometimes a team loses by 3 and really played worse than that would indicate. Sometimes a team loses by 3, played really well and was unlucky to lose. Sometimes a team plays better than expected and loses by 3 on the road to a good team. It's not ridiculous to think the last of these is a reason to be positive, provided you had the same pre-game expectations the writers here had.

8
by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:16am

Nice to see replay reviews working much faster this year.

I think you guys bailed to early on the Broncos/Colts game. I know it's no shock that Luck is good, but he's carrying this team as much as Manning ever did.

Otherwise, I'm treating this as National Jump to Conclusions week and ignoring the fact that Buffalo beat the Bears in a sloppy game, since it's the kind the Bills usually lose. ;)

9
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:20am

The Broncos pass rushers had a very, very, bad night, especially in the 2nd half. When they have a big lead at home, Von Miller and Demarcus Ware need to earn their money. That was hideous. Peyton Manning doesn't look right on balls thrown over 25 yards. I think defensive coordinators need to make him prove he can still throw deep with accuracy. If nothing else, your offense will get the ball back in two minutes instead of seven.

Jay Cutler looked like he still had Ron Turner coaching him, on the two picks he tossed. The first one was in part due to vintage Cutler lazy throwing mechanics. He is going to be what he has mostly always been, I guess.

I thought Romo was going to go into steep decline this year, and now the know-nothings will claim that this is what he has always been. The fact is that Jerry Jones, Football Genius, ruined the chance of a very good qb having a great career. Oh well, at least he paid him a lot of money.

Speaking of that, I'll note again that I'd rather have a high probability of paying J.J. Watt at least 51 million, instead of having a good chance of paying Alex Smith at least 45 million.

I don't understand how so many teams manage their qb position. The Rams have a lot confidence in the quality of their roster overall. Their qb, however, has been very fragile since college. They decide to back him up with a 34 year old guy who has 954 attempts in his career, and no more than 13 since 2010. Huh?

I think the Vikings offense is going to be well above average this year. I'll withhold judgement on their defense. The next four weeks will be instructive, but they only really need to win one of those games to be in ok shape. Especially since the Packers and Bears lost. Go Giants!

12
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:36am

Agree regarding the pass rush, but I think it was optimistic to expect monster Von Miller this early, since his ACL tear was in Week 16. Miller did get close a number of times late in the game. THe coverage did impress me, especially with Bradley Roby.

As for Manning, I thought he was overthrowing balls, which is encouraging. Some of his deep balls looked fine, especially the rope to Sanders for 40 yards before the third TD to Julius. Surprised he missed the throw to Caldwell on 3rd and 10 that could have iced the game, but some of that was Caldwell turning around and somewhat losing the ball. Either way, looks like they do miss Welker. Interested to see if Latimer plays for Caldwell, as Caldwell was disappointing.

On the other end, I think we'll look back in a while and be more impressed with both teams. I'm higher on Indy (homer alert!) than most, but I thought they were a bit overwhelmed at first, but Luck continues to show that he's awesome in hurry-up situations, Nicks played well, and the defense played pretty good considering they have no pass rush right now.

16
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:57am

Well, the counter to my first observation is that the Colts o-line was simply terrific in the 2nd half. If Luck gets that type of protection the rest of the way, look out.

86
by turbohappy :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:20pm

There was quite a bit of confusion in the first half. But in the second half they really got their shit together. An optimist would say that's a result of Shipley going from waiver wire to starting the first game at center where he was making all the line calls. It's too early to tell overall, but I must say Castonzo looked much improved pass blocking, to a very surprising extent...I'm wondering what the story is there.

Too bad Donald Thomas can't see the field because of health.

23
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:11am

I know it's only 1 week, and we've overrated the Rams as a sleeper each of the last 4 seasons, but as a Lions fan, I'm really worried about the Vikings now. Also, watching the Rams play offense made me physically ill, and I don't even root for them.

26
by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:16am

Watching the Rams play offense made me physically ill, and I don't even root for them.

This is known as the Brian Schottenheimer Effect.

33
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:30am

I think you'd be nuts at this point to prefer having Harvin on your roster, compared to Patterson. Jennings is a good, professional, NFL receiver, and Rudolph is probably a well above average tight end. Adrian Peterson is likely past his peak, but his peak was so high that a pretty good Adrian Peterson will likely still be great. The offensive line, if it stays healthy, will be more than competent, and they have worked together now for years. They certainly had no issue with physically matching up with a good Rams defensive front. Matt Cassell can look like an above average NFL qb with these assets around him. I still say that if the Vikings had simply started Cassell every game last year, they would have played meaningful games in December, as awful as the defense was.

If they don't get the injury bug, and Zimmer works a little magic with the defense, this will be a far more difficult team to beat than most anticipated.

36
by rageon :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:40am

Patterson is fun to watch. One of my only takeaways from the limited time I watched that game was perhaps this is what watching a healthy Percy Harvin would be like.

The other, in references to the Rams quarterbacks, was "this is better than Tebow?" How can the Rams -- a team that was supposed to at least have an outside shot at something with that defense -- go into the season with their current QB situation. It's not like they didn't consider Bradford would go down at some point.

39
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:45am

I was disappointed at how poorly Shaun Hill played. The last time I saw him play he looked more than competent. That interception looked like an attempted throwaway, but he didn't have the arm strength to get it out of bounds. It's possibly that his already unimpressive arm has lost even more with age.

43
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:50am

I think some of these coaches and GMs have tricked themselves into thinking that qbs can regularly be competent into their mid 30s, but how anybody would make that wager on a 34 year old guy who has less than 1000 attempts in his career, and about 13 in the last 3 years, is beyond me.

103
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 1:37pm

"Oh, hi, Mr. McCown, I didn't see you standing there."

40
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:46am

There is no way that you convince me that the Rams' handling of the qb position is anything but just astoundingly incompetent.

112
by Duke :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 2:25pm

Jay Cutler looked like he still had Ron Turner coaching him, on the two picks he tossed. The first one was in part due to vintage Cutler lazy throwing mechanics. He is going to be what he has mostly always been, I guess.

Was there an explanation from Cutler/Trestman on the first pick? Watching it, I thought it looked like a miscommunication (expecting Bennett to break off his route), but I haven't taken a second look.

121
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 2:42pm

Oh there was no doubt miscommunication, but the pick was made much easier by the ball being underthrown, and that's all on ol'lazy Jay, who doesn't want to expend any energy by moving his legs.

10
by Omroth :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:28am

"The toughest thing was that Sky takes a "clean feed", meaning -- horrors! -- no yellow third down line. It took me a minute to readjust my brain to its absence, but soon enough I was partying like it was 1993 again."

Um... really? We get the third down line on most games.

And I doubt they were streaming the bills game illegally given Game Pass (Sunday Ticket) is only $150 a year here.

Ian

11
by Omroth :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:29am

(I suppose they may have been *broadcasting* it illegally)

64
by StefanWB :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:48am

Yeah, if you have Game Pass you can stream it legally for personal use, but I'm pretty sure it's highly illegal to broadcast it at a public commercial establishment.

Also, fun fact: the Curt Menefee lookalike - actual name Kevin Cadle - is the most successful basketball coach in the history of UK basketball. Also Neil Reynolds was a wide receiver and barefoot kicker for a few successful amateur teams in the 90s.

Shaun Gayle is just about the most successful NFL player they are regularly able to get to do seven hours on TV on a Sunday night. It's either him, or former Eagles FB Cecil "Diesel" Martin (who is entertaining, at least). The best regular they get is Jeff Reinebold, who's coached in Canada and the college ranks - he was Emmanuel Sanders' college WR coach at SMU.

And yes, Sky does have a partnership with Red Zone. For Sunday broadcasts, you can watch the main feed or press the Red button and watch Red Zone. It's not in HD, but it's still fantastic to have the option.

85
by James-London :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:19pm

Cadle's fine as an anchor
Reinbold's good, as is Shaun Gayle-both can break down a play, coverages, routes, etc and add value.
Cecil Martin just shouts a lot and makes the Cretin look sagacious.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

111
by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 2:25pm

Cadle's fine as an anchor

There's no accounting for taste.

102
by ChrisS :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 1:31pm

Football not in HD. The Horror, oh the Horror! When I end up at a hotel without HD and try to watch sports I just turn it off.

13
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:48am

It says something about my last few years as a Bucs fan that I'm offended that anybody thinks the Flacco clock mismanagement was dumber than McCown's flailing fumble-then-pick play. For God's sake, at least us have the "Most Incompetent" crown.

What's missing in the discussion is that, down 17-14, on 3rd and long, two minutes left, deep in Carolina territory, Derek Anderson got pressured and flung the ball out. It hit Dashon Goldson in the hands, and he could have leisurely strolled into the end zone with a game-winning pick-six.

He dropped it.

18
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:03am

Aaron predicted it on the BS Report: Josh McCown will be this decade's Damon Huard.

How plausible is a conspiracy theory that the Behoodied One had a microscopic timed explosive device implanted into Logan Mankins' knee just before he was traded?

I was shocked that a Lovie Smith defense with this much talent couldn't completely shut down Derek Anderson.

Sorry to pile on MilkMan. You can feel free to return the favor when Jim Caldwell inevitably calls a crazy timeout to lose a game.

106
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 1:51pm

Having just gone through two years of the Schiano era, the complete and inexplicaable implosion of the guy who I thought was going to be the franchise QB for the next decade, constantly finding ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, an eight-game losing streak, an MRSA infection eating the foot of the highly-paid FA stud guard and actually ending his career, getting to be the best 0-8 team of all time, a coaching staff thinking a guy who was coaching high school football a few years back is suddenly good enough to start, and new uniforms that look like somebody vomited 70s shag carpet onto an alarm clock.

At this point, fan-wise, I'm not sure stabbing me in the stomach would count as "piling on".

108
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 2:15pm

There is a lot to admire about Lovie Smith, but he has not demonstrated a great affinity for evaluating talent on the offensive side of the ball, or he has had the bad luck of always having GMs cram lousy offensive talent down his throat. I remember well the days of Lovie patiently explaining the virtues of Rex Grossman.

It'd kind of odd how much he reminds me of Dungy in this regard. I remember always being a bit taken aback to see Dungy hire pretty pedestrian offensive coordinators (Les Steckel!?) in Tampa, prior to landing in Indianapois with a HOFer at qb, and Dungy's old college offensive coordinator, Tom Moore. Maybe Tedord will be ok, but the McCown thing is troubling.

120
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 2:36pm

I understand the McCown thing on some level; your QB options were clearly pretty limited in the offseason. Mike Glennon showed some promise last year, but is clearly really raw and could use more time polishing off the rough edges. Tedford's supposed to be theoretically good with QBs, so, hey, maybe there's a shot, right? McCown's a veteran who looked good last year. So, if you squint hard enough, you could see this working.

I was "cautiously optimistic" until McCown got sacked on 3rd down and taken out of FG range (stupid mistake #1) first stupid pick yesterday (being sacked, fling it up, #2), then the epic stupid fumble-fling-pick (#3), but, when your only real benefit is "not screwing up" and then you make three bone-crushingly stupid mistakes, it's not so good.

166
by Duke :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:51am

My problem with the McCown thing was that Lovie immediately named him as the starter in the offseason, instead of having a competition with Glennon. I don't really think there was a ton of reason to think that McCown was definitely the guy to go with. It seems like a move you make when you're expecting to be a contender this year--go with the veteran who won't blow up. I wasn't convinced that the Bucs were at that stage of their building process, but it seemed like they thought they were. Made me wary of the whole thing.

141
by BengalFaninIN :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 5:29pm

This is the best comment ever. You just won the thread.

125
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 3:22pm

That Mcown int goes on the mount rushmore of comical "what the hell was he thinking" qb decisions - joining the distinguished group of the brandon weeeden flicked pass int, the Sage Rosenfels helicopter, and my personal favorite, aaron brooks backward pass to an offensive linemen.

132
by Duke :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 4:01pm

No room on the monument for Dan Orlovsky and his self-inflicted safety?

134
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 4:19pm

Ah...as far as that goes, it just didn't have the comedic high of these other plays - though no less of a brainfart.

Btw - if there was a singular game that was the epitome of a qb meltdown - it would be a tough call between the Grossman GB game and the Delhomme playoff game. Anyone who watched both care to weigh in?

136
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 5:05pm

Rex Grossman never played against the Packers in the playoffs. You might be thinking of the week 17 game where he was hungover and just trying to get out of the game, or the game against the 05 Panther where he crapped the bed. The latter he had played all of 1/2 of football the entire season. So while it sucked, it was hard to say it was surprising.

139
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 5:25pm

I was referring to his 0 passer rating game following his partying the night before

151
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 6:43pm

My fault, transposed playoff into the Grossman clause.

142
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 5:32pm

I think the stupidity of the Orlovsky safety is greatly overstated. Yes, he ran out of the back of the end zone, but, in the heat of the moment, it's absolutely understandable to me that somebody can lose track of where their feet are on the field while trying to avoid having Jared Allen tear your arm off and feed it to you. It's dumb, sure, but it's dumb in a thoroughly conceivable sort of way.

The aforementioned Weeden pass, Rosenfelds play, Aaron Brooks pass, and McCown fumble-fling-pick are in the realm of "inconceivably bad decisions". Also utterly hilarious if you aren't rooting for those teams.

165
by Duke :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:46am

A lot of forgiveness for "the heat of the moment" in Orlovsky's case, that you're not extending to pretty toasty situations for the other guys, but whatever. Tastes differ.

Don't get me wrong, the other ones are extremely hilarious. But I like the Orlovsky one because it's something I've NEVER seen someone else do. I've seen QBs try to make awkward passes, I've seen them try to make hurdles they had no business trying, I've seen them get confused and throw where there isn't a receiver, and I've seen them try to throw the ball after picking up a fumble. I've NEVER seen a guy run out of the back of the end zone WHILE STILL LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO PASS TO. The whole thing is just too funny. I love it. Orlovsky forever.

168
by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 3:32am

Geno Smith did it last year in preseason. He seemed ok on Sunday.

14
by t.d. :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:53am

Foles looked much better on shot plays when Jags starting safety (and their best defensive player) Jon Cyprien was concussed, but I doubt that's a repeatable strategy

15
by Paul R :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:55am

Looks like everybody turned their TVs off at halftime of the Broncos game. I was amazed to see Denver get shut down in the second half by the Colts defense (the Colts defense!)

Manning's post-game comment was that the Broncos got "sluggish" in the second half, which is a valid point, but sluggish or not, they had their hands full.

Too soon for any real analysis (and a Colts fan only sees good defenses when the Colts have the ball), but all I can say is that the Colts' D had that "swarming" look that actual good defenses have. Perhaps they looked fast because the Broncos were "sluggish," but Manning has picked apart fast defenses with bad offenses before. You don't give him trouble unless you're playing pretty good.

17
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:00am

My impression was that Manning missed on a number of deep balls in the 2nd half. I thought I saw him grimacing when throwing on the sidelines. It's something I'm going to look for next week.

29
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:18am

As someone who has watched him a lot over the past 12 or so years, he grimaces when throwing on the sidelines a lot, and did so back in 2006.

As for throwing downfield, yeah he missed throws. The miss to Caldwell on 3rd and 10 was particularly blatant. Still, to me his arm looks stronger than it has in either 2012 or 2013 through the preseason and Week 1.

161
by stanbrown :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:54pm

Caldwell's pass route was one of the worst I've ever seen. You don't turn around and try to back pedal to the ball on a corner route. 18 threw it where he was supposed to be.

I thought the biggest reason for the Broncos' sluggish 2d half was that D. Thomas was horrible. I mean really, really awful. Of course, that's without grading film, etc. Multiple drops of easy passes, the ridiculous fumble because he didn't secure the ball. Just ugly.

167
by tunesmith :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 3:17am

The fumble was J. Thomas, I believe - but yes, it looks like D. Thomas just generally forgot to bring his game this week.

20
by rageon :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:03am

I think that was Manning Code for "coach made us get conservative and try to run out the clock rather than doing what we do better than nearly anyone in history." He made similar comments after a either last year or the one before where they had a bad first half but then a good second half, and I always understood it to mean that they just let Manning take over and things got better. I think Manning knows he's a better O-coordinator than anyone on the Broncos but he's too PC to ever actually say it. I'd much rather see Denver just stomp someone than try to get all conservative and eat up the clock.

Or maybe they were just sluggish.

41
by Ryan :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:46am

I was definitely surprised to see them go with more 2 TE/offset I looks, even with Welker on the sidelines. That's never really meshed with Peyton's strengths, or preferences; I suspect even if he's looking to wind the clock with the running game, he'd rather do it with Posse personnel. But it did give the Colts an opportunity to display what so far seems (SEEMS) to be a genuinely improved run defense.

I really, really hope these two teams meet in the playoffs. The returns of Mathis and Welker would change everything and I'd love to see how each team adjusts.

47
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:00am

The Colts used to go 2TE all the time, but they put Clark in the slot and had Pollard/Utecht/Fletcher in-line. That's why I was assuming the natural formation would be 2-2, with Julius in-line and Tamme in the slot.

I guess they wanted to use Green as a blocker instead, not that it really helped as the running game never really got going.

143
by BengalFaninIN :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 5:37pm

Re-Watched that second half today. They were sluggish, but you are also correct, they were far too conservative in the second half. The Colts played very aggressively and didn't quit at all. Pagano should get credit for that much, his teams fight hard all the way.

Luck is obviously an awesome talent and when playing from behind with no reason to be conservative or overly cautious they are going to be dangerous all year. Unfortunately thanks to their amazing[1] talent at every position other than QB they are going to find themselves in that position often.

1: Amazing, as in better than at least one, maybe two other teams in the league, literally the 29th or 30th best football team on the face of the earth!

21
by Kal :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:06am

I think the solution for teams having to rush up the field to get the play set and called is not to stop the clock on first downs; it's for teams to get better at rushing up the field to get the play set and called. You don't need a rule change for it - you need to have teams adapt. If the Eagles can do it, everyone can - and the Eagles were the absolute best at getting explosive plays like the one described.

24
by Lomn :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:14am

Scott (or, perhaps, Dan), the college first down clock-stop rule won't help the situation in question -- college stops the game clock, but as of a couple years ago uses the same rolling 40 second play clock as the NFL. That one runs immediately after every play in college, too. The old college clock wouldn't have really helped either, I don't think -- I'm pretty sure the delayed start of a 25-second clock rarely meant more time than the NFL's 40-second clock.

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by E :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:23pm

Isn't the obvious and least controversial remedy to simply use a 45-second play clock after first downs? 5 extra seconds should be more than enough and will have a negligible (reducing) effect on game time.

30
by dan5374 :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:18am

As for Atlanta's game-winning drive, I can't put it any better than Bill Barnwell did on Twitter: "Falcons get the ball after a Saints TO and then get super conservative. Two runs and PA power before 52-yard FG attempt. Classic Mike Smith."

Mike Smith is just the worst in-game manager. The Falcons put up 560 yards in regulation, and he settles for 2 runs and a play action pass with no WRs to set up a 52+ yarder. Hard to fathom.

31
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:25am

Maybe he moonlights as Matt Bryant's agent.

34
by Travis :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:36am

Is there a head coach in the NFL who doesn't go super-conservative as soon as he gets to the outskirts of game-winning FG range?

48
by Kal :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:01am

Belichick mostly.

59
by Travis :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:40am

Which game? The recent games in which the Patriots were tied or trailed by 1-2 late (Arizona 2012, Buffalo 2013, Denver 2013) they ran or threw very short passes after reaching the opposing 35.

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by StefanWB :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:06pm

Sad, but true. NFL game management philosophy is still far too conservative. It's an endemic problem. As a Colts fan, I speak from (hugely frustrating) experience.

Matt Bryant has a good leg and we're talking about indoors under the Georgia Dome lights here, but Matty Ice barely put a foot wrong all night. He played well enough to earn a little more trust from his HC.

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by dan5374 :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:13pm

Yes, this was my point. Ryan had played *so* well, and the Saints defense had struggled so much, that being conservative there just made no sense. In other situations, where it had been harder to move the ball, I could see the conservative approach making a bit more sense.

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by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 1:59pm

Sean Payton, though I'm probably basing this on an incomplete sample size.

32
by BJR :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:25am

Tom Brady got whacked around something good in that second half yesterday. Not encouraging for a 37 yo QB. As pointed out above, the Patriots were simply whipped in the trenches on both sides in the second half. Perhaps fatigue was a factor in the heat, but that's certainly not something one would expect from a Belichick team, nor something he hasn't had to prepare for numerous times before. Double-digit penalties against as well. Very un-Patriots like.

Speaking of penalties, it was a flag frenzy in Dallas, including some real tricky-tack PI/holding nonsense. Very difficult to watch.

35
by BroncFan07 :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:38am

FWIW Clady had the ironic hipster glasses first. Perhaps they were not ironic when he first rocked them. Or hipster.

37
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:43am

I know it got overshadowed by Tony Romo's brain freeze, and Josh McCown trying to play basketball in a football game, but Jay Cutler's across the body interception to a 300lb defensive lineman was ugly...not something you want to see from your 9th year, 30-something, franchise quarterback.

38
by rageon :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:44am

Not much on the Redskins/Texans being discussed. Regarding Griffin, I always wondered why it was taken as such a given that he would be fine once he got away from Shanahan. I have serious doubts that Griffin will ever put up another season like he did in his rookie year.

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by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:46am

If that's true, that would be really sad. I was looking forward to watch him make exciting plays in the league for many years to come.

44
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:52am

I think there is a better than 50% chance that he's been ruined. I'd like to know enough to roughly apportion the blame between Shanahan and Mr. Redskin.

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by rageon :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:20am

We obviously don't konw what's going on behind the scenes, but I don't know how much would be Shanahan's direct fault aside from (1) continuing to play him in the playoffs when it was clear he had hurt his knee early in the game and (2) letting him start from the get-go last season when he wasn't ready. As to the latter, I think ownership would have stepped if Shanahan had tried to start the year with Cousins (and it's possible that's exactly what happened). Weren't there also stories about Griffin acting entitled and not really buying into the work necessary to be a QB that wasn't just freaky athletic? I don't follow them close enough to remember.

Together, I think there's some fault with everyone involved -- Shanahan, Snyder, apparently James Andrews (as to not shutting him down). But I think Griffin has to take some blame as well.

Regardless, it's bad for everyone who loves football if he really is done, and certainly hope it's not true.

55
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:30am

Yeah, unless you've actually heard all the conversations between pertinent parties, coach, owner, player, doctor, and perhaps others, you just don't know. If it doesn't get better, everybody will be in CYA mode forever, so we likely will never know. I hope it doesn't happen.

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by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 1:29pm

I think we're jumping to conclusions a little. He just played against the best defensive player in the game, who took the game over. Lets see how he does against Jacksonville.

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by RickD :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:14pm

The talk in the DC area is not that Shanahan was the main problem (he was _a_ problem, but not the biggest one). The biggest problem with RG3 last year was that he had not recovered fully from the ACL injury. People assumed that he would be closer to his rookie season form once he was fully recovered.

Of course, "fully recovered" may be a pipe dream.

In any case, RG3 wasn't the biggest problem for the Redskins yesterday. Their offense was clicking for the most part, and the rushing game in particular was strong. And then they'd turn the ball over.

When it got late and they were down by 2 scores, they couldn't rush as much, and that made it much easier for JJ Watt to humiliate Tyler Polumbus.

The question for Griffin going forward is whether he'll get the passing game down enough so that it can be his main weapon. If not, he's going to have a short career. There are obvious comparisons to Michael Vick. RG3 has to work on his passing a lot more than Vick ever did.

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by Joshua Northey :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 1:44pm

Pure athleticism peaks extremely early. Like 20-22. That is his game. He was always going to a be a danger of not developing if he did not develop the other aspects, and it does not appear he has developed those other skills.

If you look at pitcher velocity (a good proxy for athleticism), it starts falling off around age 21 (or before even). In the past athletes would peak later because there is an element of skill and experience in addition to raw athleticism. But with more and more professionalized youth sports culture there is going to be less to be gained in that regard and over the long run the first year being the best year won't seem as odd.

45
by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:56am

Going with five new starters worked just fine for the OL in Miami, so why wouldn't it for the LBs? With all three starting LBs out and after being dominated in the first half, Miami played their best half of defense in a while against a team that usually kills them by attacking the LBs. And the funny thing is their most promising backup was out, too.

The biggest surprise by far, however, was the Dolphin running game. It wasn't just Moreno, Miller ran very well, too. I think I would've taken the Jaguars making it to the SB over what happened here today. Sure, the heat, but a team doesn't just collapse from the heat in the 3rd quarter right after their halftime rest.

On the flip side, very disappointed with the combination of Miami drops and Tannehill bad throws. If those guys get it together we could have something, but they looked sloppy despite the strong pass protection.

In other Cutler giveth and Cutler taketh away. Manuel was ok, but the Bears couldn't get any pressure on him at all. And with the Jets squeaking by the Raiders, the Patriots are in last place. It may only last a week, but nice work, AFC East.

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Who, me?

51
by johonny :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:20am

The heat index was close to one hundred on the field. It is impossible to say if the temperatures welted New England or the Dolphins really were that good in the second half. Anyone that watched the first half clearly saw a completely different game than that second half. For both teams it will be a big question going forward. Which team is showing up next week. That first half team or that second half team? It was clearly a dreadful performance for each team in one half of football.

60
by James-London :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:42am

I still think Miami were fortunate yesterday, as the game came very close to being out of reach before the half.

The most encouraging thing about yesterday was the fact that the Miami O-line was a complete non-issue, and verged on dominant in the second half. If the improvement from historically bad to league average sticks, then Miami will be worth watching this year, if only because a fair evaluation of Tannehill will be possible.
The Bills D-line will provide a good test of that improvement next week.

And Cameron Wake is still a beast. His first step on his first fumble was incredible

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

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by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:55am

I assume you mean the turnovers. Yes, they were fortunate to still be in the game after three consecutive first half turnovers with the Patriots functioning so well on offense, but you could also say they were unfortunate to turn it over on three straight drives.

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Who, me?

61
by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:44am

Yes, it was a completely different game, but the influence of heat is gradual, not sudden. It wears you down little by little, not in one big drop-off. And especially not after a 15-minute rest. Besides, the Dolphins offense started clicking with their last possession of the first half, an 11-play drive that only netted a FG.

I agree that it's difficult to draw conclusions from this game, but not because of the heat.

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Who, me?

50
by Robert Grebel :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:06am

I also saw the Bengals running at least three zone read options. This, for obvious reasons, seems like a terrible idea, but it seemed to work more often than it failed.

Dalton ran quite a bit of spread option at TCU, so this isn't really as far-fetched as it might seem. At least in college, he had great vision on his reads and just enough speed to punish defenses for focusing on the running backs.

52
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:20am

Anybody watch the SF-Dallas game? What happened to the SF offense in the 2nd half?

57
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:35am

I kind of half-watched the 2nd half. I do know the Niners had a huge play, that I think ended up within the Cowboys five, that was negated by a very dodgy penalty. I think they got pretty conservative as well, as Harbaugh is wont to do with a big lead.

62
by coremill :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:45am

The first two drives of the second half, the execution/blocking wasn't as smooth as in the first half. The third drive, they had a 32 yard pass play on third down negated by a bogus OPI call and had to punt. After that, they stopped throwing almost completely (they ran 18 non-kneel down plays in the 4th quarter, 4 passes and 14 runs), but ran the ball well and missed a FG before running out the clock.

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by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:42pm

I read something about some bad calls in the 2nd half. It's always hard to tell if those complaints are just sprouting from bias, but it is rare to see so many in a game that was handily won.

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by zenbitz :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 3:23pm

There were 3-4 gruesome calls in the 2nd half all of which went against the 49ers, and all on 3rd downs. They were all "point of emphasis" (OPI, defensive holding, illegal hands to the face) calls.

These both lengthened a long Dallas drive and shortened 1 (maybe 2?) SF drives.

Unclear if they figured a 28-3 game was a good time to make a point, or if they were trying to keep the game within 3 scores. Or just marginal competence. But they didn't really influence the game, just the stats.

I have heresy information that even Dallas fans thought the calls were bad. There were lots of similar penalties against Dallas as well, so possibly it's just they piled up on SF in the 2nd half.

Overall 21 penalties for 152 yards.

164
by beargoggles :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:49am

thank god the game was no longer in doubt. The calls were painful. An illegal "pick" 20 yards from the play where the defender grabbed Lloyd when he made his move, illegal contact where a defender hit a receiver gently 6 yards downfield, etc. Didn't matter here, but I look forward to some really screwed up calls deciding games in the next few weeks.

Niners probably would have scored as often as needed to win this game, but defensively didn't really look very good except a few big plays, most of which Mr. Romo et al can take credit for. Run defense was appalling in the first half. I don't take any false hope from this game other than Kaepernick looking very polished. We'll see how he/they do against a real defense.

84
by RickD :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:17pm

I couldn't focus in the second half. By then I was too absorbed with giggling every time Romo found an open defender to throw a pass to, a feat that was invariable followed by the pleasure of listening to Troy Aikman trying to downplay the awful day Romo was having.

Almost any color commentator could simply say "Romo is godawful today", but Aikman has to tiptoe around the issue, for obvious reasons.

98
by nickbradley :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 1:01pm

Nothing really Happened. They didn't have a smooth first drive of the second half, the next drive was completely undone by penalties, and then Harbaugh went into Harbaugh mode and ran the ball 75% to 80% of the time.

Kap was my fantasy QB and I said to myself at halftime "ugh. Kap is going to attempt about a half-dozen passes in the second half".

114
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 2:28pm

I hate the way he tightens up like that. Someday it'll bite him. In the meantime it screws up their DVOA and pythag projection.

56
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:32am

I watched that Buffalo/Chicago game and am still puzzling over how Chicago lost the game.

58
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:37am

Jay Cutler was once again a lazy *ss. The Bears are still pretty soft on defense.

65
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:51am

Cutler was only okay when he had a clean pocket, and went full Romo on the occasions when he was pressured. Jeffrey and Marshall getting banged up didn't help, either. If I were Chris Conte, I would try to block that last Fred Jackson run from my memory...that was plain embarrassing.

73
by Eddo :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:02pm

Conte wasn't trying to tackle Fred Jackson. He (accurately) realized that by the time he got there, the game was over unless Jackson fumbled (he was already inside the Bears' 20). So Conte went for the strip instead of the tackle; it might have been poor stripping technique, but the idea was the right one.

76
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:03pm

As much as people are rightfully screaming about Cutler's toss into the gut of a 350 pound nose tackle, the earlier int was even more sickening to me. Ol' Jay just can't be bothered to be enough of a professional to use his lower body properly, unless he has nobody within 10 yards of him, so he just wings it, all arms and shoulders, underthrows the ball, and thus takes away the chance for the receiver to contest the int well. I thought Trestman might coach this crap out of him, but Cutler's head is apparently the hardest substance in the known universe.

119
by Jimmy :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 2:36pm

They gave up 20 points, 13 off turnovers gifting short fields. The defense wasn't the problem, Cutler literally threw the game away.

The defense does need help defending read runs, I can't think of a team who they have stopped that runs that stuff.

63
by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:47am

If you watched the game, you couldn't have missed it. He was wearing number 6, good 'ole Jay was. The OT game-winning drive should have come off an interception of his if there were any justice.

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Who, me?

66
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:52am

Yes, he didn't help. But still, the Bears could have won that game.

68
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:56am

After watching Buffalo quarterback play in the preseason, I was fulling expecting EJ Manuel to herp/derp it up. Instead, he had the good sense to stand aside and let Cutler do that instead.

75
by Eddo :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:03pm

The disappointing thing is that, three or four bad throws aside, Cutler looked really good.

I'm a little optimistic, in that the mistakes were timed so poorly in this game, it couldn't possibly be worse.

69
by Eddo :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:01pm

Terrible mistakes at terrible times. Both Cutler interceptions were pretty bad (I thought the first was worse than the second, actually; Kyle Williams made a great play sneaking back into coverage on the second).

The defense was OK; the line was bad, but the secondary was surprisingly decent. Conte had a pretty good game, I thought (he purposefully wasn't trying to tackle Fred Jackson in OT; he said once they were close (which was before Conte got there) he knew he had to get a fumble or the game was over).

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by tuluse :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 3:32pm

I told you if they fixed the front 7 Conte would look fine :)

145
by Ambientdonkey :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 5:42pm

How fine was he on Spiller's long run? I know he was in a tough spot but he has to occasionally hold the RB to a 10 yard gain when he's the only guy in the hole.

147
by Eddo :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 5:47pm

Yes, that was the one play I noticed where he played really poorly.

I'd offset it with the very nice baiting on his interception to arrive at an average game for Conte.

152
by Steve in WI :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 7:13pm

I disagree that they fixed the front 7. They gave up another 193 rushing yards yesterday and got little to no pressure on EJ Manuel. I know it's only one game, but if this is what their investment in suspiciously easy-to-sign, so-called star defensive linemen got them, it didn't help.

I'm trying not to overreact to one game, but I suspect the worst - not just another playoff miss, but possibly a 4-5 win season. The defense simply is not any good, still, in large part because Phil Emery did absolutely nothing of value to address the safety position. Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman, and Tim Jennings look old and slow. And unlike last year, the Bears have already been bitten by the injury bug. I don't know how serious the Marshall and Jeffery injuries are, but can you imagine what the Bears would look like, with this defense, lining up Santonio Holmes, Josh Morgan, and Michael Spurlock as their top 3 receivers for even a single game?

I am also beginning to seriously question the supposed offensive geniuses, Trestman and Cromer. After the Bears drove down the field almost effortlessly on their first drive, they dial up a flea flicker on the next drive? Forte was incredibly effective on the ground yesterday, so of course they only called running plays 26% of the time. And am I the only one who was apoplectic that on 2nd and 1 with 45 seconds left in the game and a timeout, from the Buffalo 19, they elected to pass the ball twice instead of going for the first down on at least one of the plays? Get the first down and burn the timeout, and then you can take two or three shots at the end zone. Worst-case scenario, if a guy goes down in bounds there's enough time to get up to the line, clock it, and kick the field goal. The level of comfort that Trestman apparently had with tying the game and going to overtime was positively Lovie-esque.

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by tuluse :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 8:36pm

Well it depends how you define fixed I suppose. The front 7 looks roughly average to me. 85 of those 193 rushing yards came on two plays. Giving up big plays isn't good, but FO research has shown it's not going to consistently happen (unless you're just giving up plays in general).

They gave up 23 points with 3 turnovers handing the Bills good field position.

They do seem unable to stop a read option, but fortunately, it's still a minority of teams that run those.

Is this defense going to be stifling anyone? No. Will is slow teams down while a hopefully good offense is putting up points? I think so.

Now if the Bears are down 4 opening day starters on offense, that is going to be tricky to overcome.

156
by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 8:44pm

The Bears next two opponents run the read option.

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by tuluse :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:41pm

It's going to be an interesting two weeks. I expect the 49ers to trounce the Bears.

The Jets seems incompetent, so while they might "run" the read option, I'm not scared of it.

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by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 11:47am

I found their inability to put pressure on the passer more worrisome than their run defense, which seemed bad, but not will-lose-you-the-game bad.

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Who, me?

110
by TomC :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 2:24pm

Disagree strongly with Will & Eddo about the relative awfulness of the two Cutler picks. I don't know how Will can be so confident that the first pick had anything to do with mechanics, as the receiver (Bennett) never looked back for the ball---unless he's saying that it was supposed to go over the top, which I think is pretty unlikely. That one appeared to me to be pure miscommunication, which doesn't absolve Cutler but makes it less killingly terrible than the second pick. I don't care how good of a play Williams made, that is an unforgivable throw, particularly given down, distance, field position, and game situation. The game is tied in the 4th quarter, and you have 3rd-and-1 at the opponent's 34-yard line. The play call is a misdirection bootleg off an inside run fake, a very good gamble assuming the D will sell out to prevent the 1st-down run. But you know that playcall also assumes that if the play isn't wide open, the QB chucks it out of bounds, and you kick the long FG or go for it on 4th. I strongly suspect that if Cutler throws that ball away, the Bears win. (And I am the worst knee-jerk Cutler defender on this site, so it takes a lot for me to admit that this loss is pretty squarely on him, despite how well he played otherwise.)

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by Duke :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 2:27pm

Agreed on all of this

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by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 2:28pm

The OT non-interception was also pretty terrible, but I agree, the first interception looked like miscommunication.

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Who, me?

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by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 2:34pm

I said that because the ball was underthrown, and Cutler threw it with his upper body alone, just like he has so often in his lazy career. I agree that there seems to have been a miscommunication as well, and we don't know who's fault that is, but underthrowing that ball made the pick a lot easier, and I'm just sick of watching Cutler do this crap, after years in the league.

I agree the latter one was awful as well, but I just hate watching an athletically gifted guy simply refuse to have any discipline with regard to mechanics. Favre was guilty of it as well at times, but he was even more gifted, and could get away with it more, and when he was coached hard, he was far less likely to fall prey to it. Cutler just appears to be immune to coaching at times.

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by dank067 :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 3:41pm

I only tuned in when it was 17-17. Obviously Cutler had been producing earlier in the game, as I believe he was already almost at 300 yards passing at that point, but from that point on he was simply not setting his feet on any of his throws downfield. He could have easily been intercepted two more times when he floated one into the end zone on the drive where they tied it at 20 as well as when McKelvin dropped the INT in overtime. It was as bad of a quarter as I've seen him play under Trestman. I suspect it had something to do with Jeffery being out and him getting frustrated with no one else getting open or probably the pass rush getting to him with the two O-Linemen out of the game.

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by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 6:25pm

Even earlier in the game, on some of his best throws, Cutler didn't set his feet. And that was with clean pockets.

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Who, me?

157
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:01pm

That's the problem; the big dope gets away with it a few times, and then thinks it's no big deal to make it a habit. Fer' the love of Otto Graham, the guy's just a stubborn blockhead.

70
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:01pm

Hard to tell if it was the Baltimore offensive line or the Bengals d-line but if the latter Cincy has some guys who can really bring it on passing downs.

Flacco was consistently avoiding rushers.

71
by StefanWB :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:01pm

Colts fan, so obviously biased, but somebody needed to write something here about the second half of that Colts game. The offence upped the tempo and mounted several decent drives, while the running lanes that Ball was able to dart through in the 1st half weren't there in the 2nd. The Colts were in one of the toughest situations they could've been in to start the season, and trailed 24-0 with 2:00 to play in the first, and were in the game until the final drive.

That aside, Chuck Pagano and his staff need to work out why we always have these slow starts. It's baffling and infuriating, and it's been happening since he took the helm. And considering our problems tonight were executing in key situations and too many stupid mistakes and penalties, Pagano needs to whip this team into shape ASAP.

I like the potential of our offence this year. Our interior offensive line is shaky, but we've got two really solid tackles. Cherilus had a bone-head false start late, but held his own against Von Miller all night, and Castonzo mostly kept DeMarcus Ware in check. And I can't put into words how great it was to see Reggie back - and how scared I was when his leg twisted awkwardly near the goal line in Q3.

Overall, I thought our defence played erratically but with plenty of positives. D'Qwell Jackson can't cover a TE like Thomas, but he did make some big tackles in the run game. LaRon Landry was terrible tonight, and Toler was put in tough spots repeatedly. He had at least two illegal contact calls go against him. Vontae Davis wasn't thrown at at all except in Q1, but Manning was able to find mismatches everywhere else. Nobody wanted to cover Sanders, and as mentioned there was almost zero pressure. Our d-line often got good penetration on run plays, but couldn't wrap the ball carrier up until he'd rumbled for 3-4 yards.

78
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:06pm

From the last drive of the 1st half, through the entire 2nd half (bone head false start penalty aside) the Colts' o-tackles were GREAT.

149
by Hang50 :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 6:09pm

The Colts tackles did their job in the second half, but from what I could see on NBC (and admittedly an impression rather than solid assessment), the Broncos rushed in very predictable patterns the entire second half. Both Ware and Miller were using outside moves nearly all the time -- which may have been a tactic to keep Luck in the pocket, but I think it made it easier on the Colts tackles. There were a few obvious (and fairly ineffective) blitzes, but otherwise the Broncos line showed little creativity in its attack.

In other words Del Rio was just as conservative as Gase in the second half. Is that on Fox, or are both coordinators on the same wavelength?

87
by Ryan :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:22pm

There is something about the Grigson/Pagano/coordinators brain trust that emits this "we know better" vibe. It's as if every game is in a vacuum. How many games do we need to trot out a fullback and pick up 3 yards on some I formation power running, or just assume that the power run formation will lead to a play-action back-breaker (doesn't typically happen), before we start games running hurry-up no-huddle? We take a good quarter-and-a-half every game punching our way out of these stubborn restrictions. In games against great teams, it can be too late.

Colts probably called 10 runs last night. The super-obvious draw plays were disasters; the delay of the draw only afforded time for the interior of the line to collapse. Trent was at least running hard--the effort was obvious--but he is such a plodder. Bradshaw looked better and should be on the field more.

I just think step one is ditching any play involving a fullback. It's a big telegraph to the defense that either a slow-developing power run or play action is coming.

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by Ryan :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:30pm
79
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:07pm

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHH Boy, watch the CYA modes start flying

http://deadspin.com/has-peter-king-read-his-own-reporting-on-the-ray-ric...

Peter King wrote on Ray Rice that league and team HAD SEEN the elevator video
months ago.

"It's a long way to travel to get from "have seen" to "if ... saw," but Peter King got there, somehow." *snort*

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The standard is the standard!

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by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:48pm

http://deadspin.com/someone-is-lying-about-whether-the-nfl-saw-the-ray-r...

... and more..........

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The standard is the standard!

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by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:55pm

Do you know that this thread probably isn't the right spot for talking about the league's treatment of Rice? There will likely be an xp link to MMQB, and that would be a much better spot to discuss the matter.

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by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:58pm

I'm quite aware,
but there's nowhere else to discuss it AT THIS MOMENT.

It's the biggest bad news for the league in I don't know how long.

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The standard is the standard!

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by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 1:09pm

Whatever. Hopefully nobody'll take the troll bait.

100
by herewegobrownie... :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 1:13pm

I discussed it a bit in reference to Josh Gordon a little ways upthread, but agree that any further discussion would probably be better off in a MMQB discussion.

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by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:32pm

Steelers fan reaction to first half: wow, this team looks great...better go look at the calendar to check the date of the super bowl.

Steelers fan reaction to second half: argh...better start looking at draft reports, it looks like we're going to get a top five pick.

Mature reaction: 8-8, 7-9,9-7...here we go again.

Thus endeth national jump to conclusions week in western PA.

124
by Kevin from Philly :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 3:18pm

Sorta the same as easter PA, but in reverse of course.

133
by runaway robot :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 4:14pm

I am a little more hopeful. I think the defense will improve to mediocre by midseason, which with the Steelers schedule could give them 10-11 wins.

153
by Jerry :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 7:31pm

If the second half was young defenders not being sure where to line up against the no-huddle, it's correctable. If it's another year of D-linemen who aren't stout enough to plug up run gaps, it'll be ugly again.

At least it was a nice day yesterday.

93
by Biebs :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:42pm

I know the score was close, but the Jets hardly "squeaked" by the Raiders, any more than the Broncos squeaked by the Colts. The Jets totally dominated the Raiders throughout the game and Raiders were in it because of some stupid penalties and one bad Geno Smith turnover (Though the Jets playcalling in the Red-Zone was a little... odd). My feeling is that without opponent adjustment, the Jets will among the highest VOA of the week.

104
by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 1:38pm

I was watching with some Raiders fans in a bar, and it was a nailbiter for us until the Ivory run. The Jets did dominate both lines of scrimmage though.

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by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 2:30pm

I just went by the score and highlights on that call, so I can't contradict you.

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Who, me?

109
by Ben :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 2:21pm

Rivers McCown: Well the Colts have surely stopped the run well. Montee Ball is averaging (as of typing) 3.2 yards per carry.

So I'm sure that the offseason focus on stopping the run has paid off and that when I look at the scoreboard the Colts will be well on their way to a triumphant victory.

Clearly the Colt's philosophy is to design the defense such that it gives up big first half leads, but then stops the rush so that the opponent can not just run out the clock in the second half. By that time, the offense will have given up on Trent Richardson and will let Luck throw every down, thereby allowing him to manufacture a fourth quarter comeback.

It's brilliant!

117
by Duke :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 2:31pm

Having watched a lot of Hester as a Bear, it's not entirely surprising that the Falcons got some success out of him. He was never a very good WR but there were some things he did well (I recall him having decent success on deep crosses where CBs bailed out to prevent the deep ball). What he needed was an OC who could recognize his abilities and use him that way, which he never really had in Chicago. By the time Trestman came they had enough real targets that they didn't really have a need for him.

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by Peregrine :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 3:09pm

This Falcons fan was very pleasantly surprised by Hester yesterday. He's in a good position to flourish, being the #4 WR with studs at 1 and 2. The guy can still run, for sure. I expect he'll make more impact as a WR than he will as a returner, and that's fine.

We didn't miss Tony Gonzalez a bit yesterday.

But about that defense...

146
by Eddo :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 5:46pm

I also recall the deep cross being his best route. He also did a good job - for his size - of using his body against defenders.

148
by Steve in WI :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 5:51pm

It does seem like the mistake the Bears made was trying to turn him into a #1 or #2 WR, which he clearly was never going to be.

123
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 3:14pm

"The Jetlag Sports Bar" - I think I've been there, it's in Bloomsbury near the Euston Road. It's not very pleasant.

I'd bet Rob ended up in there the same way we did. If you Google sports bars round there then their website comes up and it makes it look like the classiest place you could think of. Then you get there and it's a tiny, slightly worn pub with a couple of TVs, quite the letdown.

127
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 3:26pm

Watching Matt Ryan, I started to wonder what it would take for me to consider him an elite qb. I thought his game was an overall masterpiece.

For the media, I think he needs to win a sb. For me - One full awesome season would probably do it, maybe two.

130
by Peregrine :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 3:41pm

If we can keep Ryan comfortable in the pocket, and the weapons stay reasonably healthy, I think we have a puncher's chance against anyone. We also showed a RB by committee approach that might actually be effective.

FO has always ranked Ryan pretty highly, I think. Unfortunately, he can't play defense and he can't block for himself.

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by TomC :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 5:08pm

Neither can he catch his own passes. And I hold all of those traits against him and refuse to grant him elitey-ness on those grounds.

144
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 5:38pm

In all honesty - what holds me back on Ryan really comes down him not having an elite statistical season. Even the 13-3 year, the offense was really good but just not consistent enough. I do expect he has a chance to get there this year though

163
by bubqr :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:19am

Seconded - That was a great game from him. He felt the pressure well, threw some beautiful passes from outside the pocket with perfect footwork/eyes down the fields, threw in some key scrambles (including a close 3rd down conversion), it was really impressive. I'm not surprised by the amount of points scored by the Saints, but I am surprised by how Ryan managed to score that many despite his OL. Not feeling great about my Falcons under 8.5 wins now.

On another note: About Miami declining the OPI penalty on 3rd down: I guess what they feared was what happened I think in the SF-DAL game: I think it was 3rd and 17 or something for Dallas, illegal use of the hands penalty on the defense, automatic first down.

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by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 11:50am

Not a problem, there would still be under 10 seconds left. No, what they feared was Brady would beat them deep for a TD (he'd just gone deep the prior play), but I agree with Aaron, push them back and try to get them out of FG range.

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Who, me?

140
by formido :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 5:26pm

"They themselves probably didn't expect it".

Well, Russell Wilson told the team before the game they would win by two scores, Sherman says they expect to win every game in a blowout, and Michael Robinson said it was one of two games in his pro career he was 100% confident of winning.

You can say that's all talk, but Seattle has a pretty great record against the Breeses, Mannings, and Rodgers of the world, no? Why wouldn't they expect to blow them out after blowing out Brees? Why wouldn't they expect to blow out Rodgers first game of the season after the Super Bowl? I mean, you'd agree that Seattle expected last game's result, right? Well Seattle was already that confident before the Super Bowl.

Every sport has chance and you can't KNOW you'll get a blowout. But Seattle knows they have a pretty good chance going into every game they play, no matter who it is.

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by Peregrine :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 8:13pm

I blame this whole "elite" thing on John Clayton. I think he was the one who started this silliness a few years back. "Superduper" would have been a more amusing category, in my mind.

I've seen enough football in my life to know that Ryan is good enough to be a Super Bowl-winning QB. If the OL and defense were even in the "good" category, we'd be a real contender. It's completely ridiculous how a franchise has managed to avoid having a consistently above average defense for going on 40 years now.

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by theslothook :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:09pm

if you've been a colts fan for any length of time, you have experience w this.

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by justanothersteve :: Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:16pm

I'm just thankful the Thursday night game had its own edition so I don't have to relive it here.