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» Week 11 DVOA Ratings

DVOA has finally climbed on board the Wentz Wagon! The Eagles move into the No. 1 spot, but they aren't the only strong, well-balanced team in the NFL this year. New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and the Los Angeles Rams make this one of the best seasons ever for multiple teams over 30% in DVOA, and Minnesota isn't far behind.

15 Sep 2014

Audibles at the Line: Week 2

compiled by Luke McKenna

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.

Dallas Cowboys 26 at Tennessee Titans 10

Aaron Schatz: I love the way teams like to poke at Jerry Jones by wearing their road jerseys at home, thus forcing the Cowboys to wear dark blue. Titans doing it today.

FOX just showed a graphic saying that the Cowboys have won two of their last three games against the Titans. What the hell does that matter? Those games were in 2010, 2006, and 2002. You know, before Football Outsiders even existed.

Scott Kacsmar: Well, stopping Eddie George and Shonn Greene is probably pretty similar. That's about it.

Tom Gower: A brief recap of the first half at LP Field, with the Cowboys holding a 16-0 lead: Last week's shut down of Kansas City's offense, specifically their run game, says an awful lot about Kansas City's offensive line and not much about Tennessee's defense. DeMarco Murray, despite a fumble, has been pretty regularly ripping off massive chunks of yardage and is currently at 17-115. Doug Free has had some extreme misadventures in pass protection, and while Tony Romo hasn't thrown the ball to the other team, he's been getting sacked and hit and forced into quick decisions on third down by corner blitzes.

On the other side of the ball, Jake Locker has been dreadful. He has 26 yards passing on 12 attempts, 18 of those coming on a pair of failed third-down completions. He's only thrown one interception, which went more or less straight to Barry Church, but with nothing coming from the passing game, the Titans haven't been able to sustain any offensive success whatsoever.

Rivers McCown: This game was supposed to be all about offense. Two quarters in, the only offensive unit working for either team is the Dallas run game. Romo has found Dez Bryant on some curls and slants, but that's the extent of the passing game.

Jake Locker looks horrific. It's hard to overstate how bad he has been to this point.

Vince Verhei: I have been watching Jake Locker since his freshman year at Washington, and I have always wondered why he was so over-hyped. But he was rarely criticized for his struggles (particularly in college) and then somehow he ended up a first-round pick. He was so over-rated that, subconsciously, I have had a backlash and knocked him down to Blaine Gabbert levels of inadequacy. In real life, he's an inconsistent young quarterback with flashes of talent who still makes a lot of mistakes. In my head, he's a never-ending reel of overthrows and sacks with nothing to offer an NFL team. That's how I see him, even though it's not accurate.

Except for the first half today. In the first half, that's exactly what he was, a never-ending reel of overthrows and sacks who had no place as an NFL starter.

Tom Gower: Halfway through the fourth quarter, Jake Locker has looked better in the second half -- not good, but better, with his only touchdown coming on the sort of "random big play" his physical potential provides. But while Dallas hasn't found running room as easy to come by consistently, a Jason McCourty injury has left the Titans split between doubling Dez Bryant every play or letting him catch passes. Still moving the ball, still getting points, and it's 26-10.

Tom Gower: For some reason, Ken Whisenhunt called a timeout that led the Titans get the ball back with :17 left instead of letting Dallas kneel it out. The result: 8 garbage passing yards for Jake Locker and a fitting game-ending run-off from a false start penalty.

New England Patriots 30 at Minnesota Vikings 7

Cian Fahey: There is no reason for Matt Cassel to still be the starter for the Vikings. He's so limited.

Aaron Schatz: Dear Dan Fouts, the reason Julian Edelman fumbles are usually recovered is that they are usually muffed punts, not because he's special. Muffed punts are almost always recovered by the punt return team.

Cian Fahey: Matt Cassel is draining me of all my enthusiasm for football this week. He's been awful.

Aaron Schatz: I wish I understood why Bill Belichick has actually gotten *less* aggressive in his old age. It seems like the Patriots go for it much less often on fourth-and-1. They just punted on fourth-and-1 from their own 48. Where oh where is the Tom Brady sneak?

Another takeaway from this game: The way the Patriots are playing defense seems to indicate how seriously they take Cordarrelle Patterson as a receiver. Early in the game, they clearly were scared to death of the jet sweep because they all went in his direction on a fake and left Matt Asiata wide-open for a 25-yard receiving touchdown. But in general, they have got Darrelle Revis shutting down Greg Jennings even though we all agree Patterson is their best offensive weapon, because I'm guessing they see Jennings as a much more dangerous *receiver*.

Cian Fahey: Matt Asiata has had a decent first half. He has obvious limitations, but he has run aggressively through contact and shown good vision. His comfort as a receiver has been evident too. Would still like to see more of Jerick McKinnon to offset the impact of Cassel on the offense as a whole.

Aaron Schatz: Look, that's the story of modern football. Quarterback with obvious limitations? Hard to hide them. Running back with obvious limitations? Not that big an issue.

By the way, I don't know who is the director of the CBS broadcast in Minnesota today but it is horrendous. Two or three times they have gone to show a slow-motion replay of a penalty and the replay ends up being nowhere near the penalty in question. Then they just went to show a replay of Chandler Jones' blocked field goal and touchdown, and did the replay angle actually show who blew a block for Minnesota and how Jones got in to get the field-goal block? No, of course not.

Two more notes on the MIN-NE game at halftime.

1) Calling back to what I said about Patterson and route-running... on the drive that led to the blocked field goal, Patterson had a sweet route where he made a sharp move cutting right to get away from Logan Ryan's coverage, then a sharp move cutting left to get away from Ryan's attempt to tackle him. I actually spoke to someone in Minnesota this week who said Patterson is better route-runner than you think and that we're going to be seeing more and more of him as a conventional receiver as the year goes on. Yeah, that's gonna be very dangerous if he can keep doing what he did to Logan Ryan on this play.

2) The Patriots partially solved their run-blocking problems from last week by bringing in a sixth offensive lineman. And the Patriots' defense is looking much stronger against the run compared to last week. I don't think we expect Matt Asiata to break tackles like Knowshon Moreno was last week, but the holes are also smaller. Asiata, as Cian notes, looks pretty good given the size of the holes.

Jacksonville Jaguars 10 at Washington Redskins 41

Scott Kacsmar: RG3 with a serious ankle injury (air cast) and now DeSean Jackson is down with some arm injury. Jackson thing just a freak occurrence, but the knock on both guys coming out was their small frame and if they could handle the physical nature of the NFL. I wouldn't say RG3 was overly careless on this play, but the body isn't really made for firing a pass while you're going out of bounds. His landing was awkward and that's what caused the injury. I don't know how many times he can come back before this team has had enough. It would help if Kirk Cousins can handle the job, but he has always been up and down.

Rivers McCown: Feel bad for Griffin. I almost feel like he just needs a change of scenery at this point. Maybe an interesting challenge trade target.

Jacksonville's two biggest non-Henne question marks coming into the season were offensive line and safety. With Johnathan Cyprien out, the Jags safeties have been horrific. Henne has been Henne when he has time. He often doesn't because Washington is blitzing well.

Rivers McCown: The Jaguars have allowed seven sacks so far. There's still half the third quarter to play. They're gonna fill up a whole J.J. Cooper column at this rate. Without Guy Whimper!

Matt Waldman: And this is why the team did not want to start Blake Bortles this season.

Rivers McCown: Make it eight!

JJ Cooper: I already was thinking that this has to be part of Under Pressure. They are up to eight sacks now. Guy Whimper is available last I checked Jags FO.

Rivers McCown: The final number on Henne sacks was 10.

To put that in perspective, David Carr set the record for sacks in a season in 2002. He never took 10 in a single game.

Arizona Cardinals 25 at New York Giants 14

Cian Fahey: Patrick Peterson with another touchdown given up. Two in two weeks now. This time against the almighty Reuben Randle.

Rivers McCown: Rueben Randle ran the right route? That's almost as much of an upset as Peterson allowing the touchdown.

Atlanta Falcons 10 at Cincinnati Bengals 24

Scott Kacsmar: Giovani Bernard show in Cincinnati, because what else is there? Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert already hurt. A.J. Green out with a toe injury. Bernard at 129 yards from scrimmage already. Might need 200 today.

Matt Waldman: Cincinnati has Atlanta's number when it comes to the Falcons' offense. Atlanta could not throw the ball deep last week without Matt Ryan breaking the pocket due to the iffy line play. This week, Atlanta has tried to continue its short passing -- especially the short routes to Julio Jones and Harry Douglas. Cincinnati has either sat on these routes or played off depending on the down and distance. Either way, they were able to break up or stop the plays from gaining significant yards. Only two passes before the two-minute warning were over 10 yards and only one -- a deep play action route to Julio Jones -- should have been caught. Lamar Holmes the right tackle is getting all he can handle from Carlos Dunlap.

Matt Waldman: Things that drive me crazy about play-calling: Note to Falcons: When the perimeter run with Jackson to right tackle with the pulling left guard fails twice in the first two series of the game, but you give Jackson runs inside guard for nice gains, why on earth do you begin the second half with another run to the perimeter with the pulling guard?

Cian Fahey: Third time is a charm Waldman, everyone knows that!

Rob Weintraub: The Bengals manhandled the Falcons in the trenches last year during preseason scrimmages in Atlanta, and from the look of yesterday's game, ain't a damn thing's changed.

New Orleans Saints 24 at Cleveland Browns 26

Vince Verhei: If the Browns lose this game, the coaches have only themselves to blame. For nearly the entire first half they were playing very aggressive press coverage and knocking the snot out of Drew Brees and his receivers. It was a violent beating. Then, with a 16-3 lead, they played the last minute of the first half like it was the last minute of the game, giving up an easy series of 10-yard completions as the Saints moved right into the red zone. And from there, Jimmy Graham did what Jimmy Graham does.

It's a much smaller deal, but their introduction of Johnny Manziel into the action has also been weird. Bringing Manziel in to run a read option for a short gain on second-and-long, then pulling him back off the field, does nothing for Manziel, it does nothing for Brian Hoyer, and it doesn't do much to help Cleveland win. If you want to bring Manziel in slowly, at least give him a drive to work with.

Miami Dolphins 10 at Buffalo Bills 29

Rivers McCown: So, anyone wanna explain the kryptonite that is Buffalo for Ryan Tannehill?

Cian Fahey: He wasn't good last week either really, just system and awful play by the Patriots defense. Buffalo seem to be doing a great job of getting the most out of Manuel with play-calling/supporting cast.

New York Jets 24 at Green Bay Packers 31

Luke McKenna: With Brian Bulaga confirmed as inactive earlier, it's going to be interesting to see how the Green Bay offensive line (specifically Derek Sherrod) holds up today against what is an impressive Jets defensive front.

Mike Pennel the nose tackle is also active today so his impact is something to look out for.

Aaron Schatz: I'm not sure what to say about the officiating screw-up where the Jets had a game-tying touchdown (an amazing throw from Geno Smith to Jeremy Kerley, too) cancelled by a timeout that was actually called by offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and not head coach Rex Ryan -- and thus should never have been called by the officials. It seems so typically Jets, but I also feel like -- how can the official not know who that guy is running towards him calling a timeout?

Tom Gower: The official's looking at the play, which is where his eyes should be. Mike Pereira tweeted out that late timeouts like that are granted without looking to see who's calling them. I think that's the right procedure for the league to follow, as unfortunate as it may be for the Jets there.

Aaron Schatz: Points to Mike Pereira for pointing out that this has happened before... and last time the assistant who called timeout and blew the game for his team was Rex Ryan, when he was defensive coordinator of the Ravens against the undefeated Patriots in a Monday Night Football game in 2007.

Houston Texans 30 at Oakland Raiders 14

Scott Kacsmar: It's possible he was down short, but very amusing to see Arian Foster leading a five-man chase of Raiders down the field for a score. About as close as a Ben-Hur chariot scene.

Rivers McCown: J.J. Watt caught a touchdown. On offense, I mean.

The Texans are better than the Raiders, narrowly. Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins have both helped Ryan Fitzpatrick survive his poor accuracy.

Houston has also gotten a vast majority of things to go their way that wouldn't have happened last season. James Jones fumbled twice on the same play to give Houston the ball when Oakland was driving. A long pass downfield that looked like it could be DPI on Kareem Jackson was an incomplete. The Raiders accidentally ran down the clock by not getting out of bounds when they were running the two-minute drill at the end of the second quarter.

Oakland ran a Wildcat play with Darren McFadden, is starting the brother of David Carr, and has basically done nothing to convince anyone that they aren't the NFL's version of Siberia. All players and ideas from the late 2000s are congregating here.

Seattle Seahawks 21 at San Diego Chargers 30

Cian Fahey: The new replay system looks like it has major problems. Sammy Watkins' fumble touchdown wasn't reviewed in the BUF-MIA game and Percy Harvin clearly stepped out of bounds on his long touchdown run that wasn't reviewed.

Aaron Schatz: The Chargers are not afraid of Richard Sherman. They have got Keenan Allen on him almost exclusively and they're basically going after him, and with success. The FOX announcers are obsessed with the idea that the Packers made a huge mistake avoiding Sherman last week. Apparently, nobody has informed them that Keenan Allen is much better than Jarrett Boykin. And that Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are much better than Jarrett Boykin.

Rivers McCown: I do think it helps to have a receiver that can play Sherman to a stalemate. Keeps the Seahawks from bunching the other side of the field.

Dunno why the Packers didn't think Nelson or Cobb were up to the task.

Aaron Schatz: By the way, I'll post-edit there. They don't have Allen on Sherman exclusively. Allen is going back and forth from side to side, as is Malcom Floyd.

Vince Verhei: When you think about it, San Diego is a terrible matchup for Seattle's defense, because they like to throw in the middle, where the Seahawks are, by design, most vulnerable. Danny Woodhead is basically Seahawks poison.

On Antonio Gates' touchdown late in the first half, the Chargers went trips left, and Sherman moved to the slot on that side of the field to cover Eddie Royal. Gates then scored right in the zone where Sherman would normally be.

The quarterbacking in this game has been just unreal. At halftime, Philip Rivers and Russell Wilson are a combined 26-of-31 for 301 yards with three touchdowns and no picks.

I think time of possession is usually meaningless, but on a 100-plus-degree day in San Diego, it's probably good news for the Chargers that they have run 38 plays to 18 for Seattle. Marshawn Lynch, perfectly healthy, had three carries in the first half.

Aaron Schatz: Gates looks really good today. I think Ladarius Green may have fallen back asleep.

Scott Kacsmar: Did San Diego squib kick or directional-kick away from Percy before halftime? Just seemed odd to do a short kickoff and give Seattle the ball at the 31. Helped set up a huge drive before the half.

Vince Verhei: SD ahead 27-21 at end of the third. The heat is killing Seattle. They're missing tons of tackles, and Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor have left for IVs. They have no answer for Gates.

On the plus side, Oh my GOD Russell Wilson is good. He's now 13-of-17 for 176, and two of those incompletes were throwaways

Oh, and the Chargers are kicking away from Harvin. Which is funny, because the one return he did get his hands on, he fumbled away.

Aaron Schatz: Chargers just had their third fumble. All recovered by the Chargers. Seahawks have fumbled twice, recovered only one. That's definitely part of this upset-in-the-making.

Cian Fahey: Seems like Seattle has blown an assignment or two and had at least one really dumb penalty -- Bruce Irvin on Rivers out of bounds. Rivers has been phenomenal. He's even been making a lot of plays with his feet outside of the pocket as the Seahawks have been a bit undisciplined with their pass rush.

Vince Verhei: Well that was frustrating. Wilson's magic beans ran out, the Chargers started getting pressure, and the Seahawks lose by more than seven points for the first time since 2011. They couldn't get San Diego off the field, giving up way too many third-down conversions (including a particularly stupid late hit on Bruce Irvin). Antonio Gates is a Hall of Famer who had a Hall of Fame kind of day with three touchdowns. His counterpart Zach Miller had three penalties. Officially, there were five fumbles in the game, and San DIego recovered four of them. It was that kind of day.

St. Louis Rams 19 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17

Andrew Potter: Josh McCown just threw his third *awful* interception in his first two games for Tampa Bay. Clock definitely struck midnight when he left Chicago.

Rivers McCown: Lovie Smith offenses just take a year or 10 to get on track. No worries.

Cian Fahey: The Buccaneers have lost to Derek Anderson-led Panthers and Austin Davis-led Rams. That playoff optimism should be well and truly quenched.

Tom Gower: Horrible way for the Buccaneers to lose, for an injury time-out run-off after a completion where they could have gotten a spike and a game-winning field goal. As Cian said, though, when you don't take advantage of opportunities you have been given, it's hard for me to have too much sympathy for you.

Kansas City Chiefs 17 at Denver Broncos 24

Tom Gower: Huh, Phil Simms advocates the Chiefs go for it on fourth-and-1. Unusual, considering it was (a) the second quarter, (b) on KC's side of the field, (c) in a 4-point game. Andy Reid punted.

I have been flipping around a lot since the early games ended. From what I have seen Denver has been trying to run against Kansas City and hasn't been able to, but of course they have Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas and can throw the ball when they decide they want to do that. The Chiefs, meanwhile, have found running room easier to come by than I expected and than they did last week, mostly by design against Denver's sub package.

Scott Kacsmar: It's early, but Julius looks like the best Thomas on the Broncos this season. Tough in the red zone and making plays out wide now. Demaryius has been a bit sloppy so far, though he just had one of his signature RAC plays on third down as I type this.

Scott Kacsmar: Chiefs just used the first 10 minutes of the half to miss a 37-yard field-goal attempt. Can't even make this stuff up.

Tom Gower: The Chiefs just drove 9 minutes for a missed field goal against the Broncos. The drive featured multiple third-and-long conversions, then KC's terrible offensive line finally showed up in goal-to-go and they couldn't find the end zone despite Chris Harris being flagged for recognizing the receiver's route and playing good defense to give them more shots at it. Really an epic performance all-around.

Chicago Bears 28 at San Francisco 49ers 20

Aaron Schatz: Through the first couple of drives, the Bears' backup left guard and center look reasonable. Jay Cutler, on the other hand, looks way off. Underthrown... overthrown... everything is a little off.

The overturned catch by Martellus Bennett on third down at the start of the second quarter may have set a new standard for inexplicable overturned catches. He's got both feet inbounds, and the ball is barely moving in his hands as he goes to the ground. It has clearly been cradled and caught by the time he's down. And even worse -- even if you don't think it's a catch, was there really enough evidence on the replay to overturn?

Tom Gower: I see why they overturned, since the final securing of the ball came after he'd taken his second foot off the ground. I thought, to the extent he'd lost control, he'd regained it before then, though, and would not have overturned the call on the field.

Scott Kacsmar: Butch Johnson had a 45-yard touchdown catch in Super Bowl XII that would never count today. Hell, it probably shouldn't have counted that day. The expectations for a receiver to get a catch these days is absurd, and I don't think it's consistent either. What makes Crabtree's touchdown any more of a catch than what Bennett did there?

Cian Fahey: Maybe it's just me being in a different time zone, but I have struggled to pay attention to both Sunday night games this year.

Tom Gower: We're in the middle of the second quarter and this game has been an hour and 15 minutes. I thought GB-NYJ was a really clunky game, and this game has been worse thus far.

Aaron Schatz: It's nice that Brandon Marshall had an awesome leaping one-handed touchdown catch right before halftime but the Bears offense looks nothing like the Bears offense I expected to see this year, and it's not just because the 49ers defense is playing well. It really looks like everyone is hurting. Jeffrey and Marshall are clearly not playing at 100 percent, the substitute offensive linemen have had some problems, now Cutler's been whacked in the chest on a roughing the passer... I knew the Bears' defense wasn't great, but they have gotten turnovers. I expected the offense to be better than this.

Vince Verhei: This game is awful. At halftime, there have been 17 accepted penalties and 19 total first downs ... including five first downs via penalty. It's taking forever. The Niners can't hang onto that ball, and the Bears were completely incompetent until that touchdown drive at the end of the half (which, of course, included two first downs via penalty). I think, in all seriousness, Chicago's best chance to win is to go all jump ball, all the time, but I don't know if I'll stick around to see if they pull it off.

Tom Gower: 23 total first-half penalties, since the ones that weren't enforced definitely contribute to our image of the game as we're watching it.

Apparently Chicago's margin of error was smaller on offense than even I thought. I think that's what the (multiple) injuries are showing us, that this is a team that could be manufactured into a good offense but right now they're spending most of their time on the wrong side of a thin line.

Aaron Schatz: It seems like the Bears have been completely outplayed by the 49ers, and yet they are now within a touchdown. I have no idea how this has happened. Getting the breaks on turnovers, I guess. And a couple great catches by Marshall, who's really toughing it out tonight.

Cian Fahey: I feel like this game started in August. Somehow the Bears just scored their third touchdown of the game. The 49ers have been sleep-walking through the season ever since training camp. They're fortunate that they started the season against one bad team and one team that is dealing with key injuries. It could have been a lot worse.

Scott Kacsmar: Out of all the possible 17-point comebacks, I'm not sure any team's ever looked worse doing it than the Bears. Oh wait, there was that game in Arizona in 2006. Jim Harbaugh giving us a "we let them off the hook!" moment would make this one memorable.

Aaron Schatz: I really don't feel like Colin Kaepernick's interceptions have been bad passes tonight. They have generally been great defensive plays. Yes? I mean, the Bears are wrestling the ball away from his receivers, or leaping to get in front of the pass route.

Also, I assume many readers have read comments from me along the lines that the first thing I would do if I ever became commissioner would be to get rid of all celebration penalties. Well, now I have something else to do first. First, we have to get rid of the new inappropriate language rule that just cost the 49ers a couple of yards after the interception. What the fuck? Can't we let these men just be themselves?

Tom Gower: Kaepernick's been locking on to his receivers at times. That definitely lets defensive backs close. The Chris Conte pick was a great play, as was Kyle Fuller's.

My working hypothesis is that the 49ers just aren't that good of an offense so far, they have just made us think so by getting off to two-score first quarter leads in both games because of defense and special teams.

Aaron Schatz: Well, Kaepernick definitely locked onto his receiver on Fuller's second pick, the fourth overall by the Bears. When Kaepernick threw that one, I thought, "oh, well, that makes my Audibles comment look dumb."

Cian Fahey: Still trying to figure out how the Cleveland Browns decided to take Justin Gilbert over Kyle Fuller in the draft.

Aaron Schatz: I will say that Jimmie Ward is having a much more typical rookie cornerback game tonight than what we have seen from Fuller or, last Monday night, Jason Verrett.

Scott Kacsmar: So after a putrid start to the game, Jay Cutler is the first quarterback to throw four touchdowns in a game this season. It's like they used a rope-a-dope technique with the injured receivers, just remembering now they have superior height to make tough catches. And this is another situation where a team should have considered the two-point conversion to make it a 9-point game. Still one possession with 6:55 left.

Cian Fahey: Ward is also a safety being used as a nickel corner. He has had a tougher assignment than anyone else from his class.

Tom Gower: Great win for Chicago. It was pretty darn ugly for 28 minutes, then the offense started working well enough in the second half. Willie Young, wasn't he on the top prospects list, or was he just a guy we mentioned in FOA as a productive player? Whichever, he gave Jonathan Martin absolute fits, in case you needed a reminder that the quality of backup tackle play in the NFL is pretty darn low.

Aaron Schatz: I believe we were going to include Young in the top five prospects one year until we set the "nobody over 25" rule and it turned out he was 26 at the time.

Scott Kacsmar: Maybe one day the 49ers will tell Kaepernick to try throwing a pass to Vernon Davis in the end zone with the game on the line. Or Anquan Boldin. Anyone but Michael Crabtree.

Aaron Schatz: Davis had an ankle injury, wasn't in the game. The injury bug finally bit the 49ers after taking huge bites out of Chicago all night.

Posted by: Luke McKenna on 15 Sep 2014

127 comments, Last at 23 Sep 2014, 2:07pm by

Comments

1
by Jimmy :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 10:58am

What exactly did Kaepernick say?

I know irony cognition is not the nfl's strongest suit but if you can get penalised for what I assume was Kapcon saying some slur or other how is it OK to name a team using one?

12
by Drunken5yearold :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:41am

What if the players just started calling each other 'Redskin' on the field in a derogatory manner? It would be a slippery slope. The refs would either have to punish it (and the universe would implode from the irony!) or let it slide. If they don't punish it, then the players should step it up and start using 'Whiteskin', 'Blackskin', 'Yellowskin', etc.

Would this be a great thing, or the greatest thing??

41
by ChrisS :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:18pm

In the post-game interview Colin claims he did not say anything.

2
by Peregrine :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:07am

The Falcons are making it very difficult to root for them. The Bengals pushed them around all day. Really tough watching a team fail to compete physically. Andy Dalton (who missed several throws downfield) and Mike Nugent (three missed FGs) were among the MVPs for Atlanta.

3
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:08am

The way the Bucs lost was godawful; McCown hit Evans on about a 25 yard pass to the middle of the field, and the safety just lit him up. Evans curls up, then gets up, takes a step, and falls down again. Had he just stayed down, I don't doubt the Bucs would have still had time to spike the ball after the runoff. Don't blame the refs at all, it was just a stupid, unfortunate series of events and a perfect way to end a game that Tampa was trying desperately to lose in some stupid way. Realistically speaking, if they had gotten the FG chance, the long snapper probably would have snapped it 70 yards over the head of the holder and it would have gone out the back of the end zone for a safety. Actually, it probably would have hit Lavonte David in the eye, ended his career, and then caromed off and killed half the offensive line.

At this point anything seems plausible.

80
by BucNasty :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 3:53pm

Yeah, I'd be a lot more upset about this if we hadn't just lost two weeks in a row at home to backup quarterbacks on teams that aren't exactly loaded with offensive firepower. I can't even blame it all on Josh McCown, the defense just looked completely ineffective. The Rams, led by some guy whose name I still don't know, just marched up and down the field at will. Bring on the Draft. And the drafts.

4
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:26am

There is no point in keeping Bridgewater on the bench, unless the o-line is so bad the qb is guaranteed to get killed (the Vikings o-line is not) if Cassell is going to be that inaccurate. The game could have been worth watching in the 2nd half if Cassell had put the ball on target a few more times in the 1st half, although Patterson's current limitations as a receiver became most evident just before the blocked field goal, when he was wide open, and the pass just slightly off, but he did a miserable job in keeping his feet in bounds at the Patriots two yard line. Shortly after, the evidence was delivered that having your special teams coach suspended for 3 games for saying stupid sh*t can be costly, and it was time to go do something productive, even if that meant watching a different game.

Oh, and to those who claim that Adrian Peterson has been overrated? A Vikings team with worse offensive line play, worse play from the qb, and far worse receivers, and worse play from the defense, than what was on display yesterday, won 10 games and went to the playoffs two seasons ago, due to that overrated running back.

15
by nlitwinetz :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:50am

I was very surprised that Bridgewater stayed on the bench in the 4th quarter. I figured they would have given him some snaps to at least get his feet wet...even if it was just a few hand offs and screen passes to build his confidence. I guess the Vikings are just trying to stave off a QB controversy until they think Bridgewater is ready.

20
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:09pm

Honestly, I don't see much point in throwing him into the end of a sure loss with presumably Cassel getting all the practice reps with the 1s. Let him have a whole week practicing and have a chance to make a difference in the game.

44
by ChrisS :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:22pm

The Vikings agree with you on the special team coach's importance, the suspension has just been lifted.

57
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 2:15pm

That must have been so aggravating to watch as a fan. That could have been a very competetive game had the vikes got even half decent qb play. The ints were bad, but i saw some terribly over thrown balls to rudolf, elson, anf jennings. His pocket awareness was awful too. He really drove home the point that hes not a starting qb

59
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 2:25pm

Just barely above replacement level play from the Vikings qb yesterday likely puts them in the lead at halftime, and then who knows what the result is. Instead, they are down 17, needing pro bowl qb and receiver play, and really good defense, just to get it back to a one possession game.

63
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 2:34pm

I should also add...i did not think khalil played well yesterday. I don't watch the vikes enough to know if that's just an aberration.

85
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 4:17pm

His play has declined from his rookie year. he started to develop back issues last year, and my bet is that they still affect him.

72
by Otis Taylor89 :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 3:05pm

He may not be overrated, but he screwed his team yesterday, basically giving them little to no chance to win.

87
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 4:22pm

Yeah, I wasn't referring to the off field behavior. I was referring to the specific assertion made by some that his productivity on the field has been overrated. In an era where the rules have been developed to make his position one of markedly lesser importance in terms of winning games, and on a roster where for the most part he has had very little help in preventing the opposition from primarily scheming to stop him, he simply has been remarkably productive.

5
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:30am

I still have no idea how the Bears ended up with a win.

I suspect Frank Gore having 13 carries in a game that the 49ers were leading by 10 points in the first quarter has something to do with it.

26
by coremill :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:18pm

SF had four turnovers and 16 accepted penalties for 118 yards. It's very hard to win if you make that many mistakes.

Chicago had two drives over 50 yards; on those two drives they had almost as many first downs by penalty (six) as by rushing/passing (7, including the 2 TDs). The rest of their points came off short fields following turnovers.

Meanwhile, SF had four drives of 59 yards or more, but got only six points out of those drives (FG, Fumble, FG, downs), and had a 50-yard TD wiped out by a holding penalty on the drive that ended in a fumble. When they weren't turning it over, SF could move the ball pretty much at will (they only punted once), while Chicago's offense was "pray we get into the redzone somehow so we can post up Brandon Marshall."

It's a cliche that a team "gave away the game," but SF last night was as good an example of that as you'll ever see. Just a debacle of stupid errors.

29
by Eddo :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:25pm

There are definitely similarities with the Bears' loss to Buffalo in week one. Poorly-timed mistakes gave away a game they really should have won.

Though to be fair, after halftime, the Bears seemed to figure out both their offense and defense. The offense had one incomplete pass after halftime, and once the defense was able to stifle the running game and read option, they coaxed two of those mistakes out of Kaepernick.

31
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:40pm

Well a there were quite a few passes hitting the ground but having penalties called.

You could say that had no penalty occurred, the chances of completion would be much higher, but it's hard to really know that, and you can't really guarantee that a ref will see and call the penalty either.

60
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 2:28pm

This isn't a shot at Will, but more people should be giving Cutler credit. On a sloppy night where his running game was sucking and his receivers were hurt, I thought he played really well in the second half. I have been at times a cutler apologist, but I thought he finally showed a lot of the discipline people think he lacks. He's still inconsistent, but when he does well, he should be given the credit he deserves.

84
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 4:09pm

I was really impressed by Cutler's 2nd half. I already knew he was a tough SOB (after that sternum hit) but going 15-16 against that defense (even in their depleted state) is very impressive. Maybe he was overshadowed in my mind last year by Josh McCown's amazing year, but the last time I remember him looking that good was in 2011 (ironically just before he hurt his thumb and unleashed the comedy stylings of Caleb Haney onto the NFL world).

70
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 2:53pm

double post

89
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 4:24pm

I have never contested the assertion that Cutler at times can be a dominant player at the most important position. That's kinda' been my point.

90
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 4:32pm

I don't know if you saw, but I made a post where greg cosell essentially said something along the same lines that you did.

107
by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 8:56pm

Exactly. Even when things weren't going well for the Bears he wasn't doing anything crazy or trying to win the game in one play. He remained patient and sound. His mechanics seemed way better than last week, too. I guess that's why Will Allen calls him lazy. It's not that he doesn't know how to throw the ball correctly, he just doesn't seem to care some games. I'm sure we'll see lazy, crazy Jay Cutler again this year, though.

------
Who, me?

111
by Eddo :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 10:35pm

So if Cutler worked on his mechanics this week, and it showed in his performance, that just proves he is lazy?

I guess this is why I don't care for the "lazy" argument.

112
by dbostedo :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 10:58pm

No - if Cutler shows that he can work on his mechanics and bring them to bear in a game, then fails to do the same in subsequent games, that shows that's he's lazy.

Or rather, that he might be lazy, but it requires some assumptions (and I have no idea if they're correct). The first assumption is that if he puts the work in he can play with better mechanics. The second assumption is that the times he's shown better mechanics in games, it's been because he put the work in and proves that he's capable of it. Both of these taken together means that if he DOESN'T play a game with the improved mechanics, it's because he didn't work at it, and is therefore lazy.

113
by Eddo :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:21pm

OK, I get that. I just hope other QBs are held to the same standard. I mean, I saw Aaron Rodgers throw a ball off his back foot that was right to a Jets defender. (It was dropped, so no one cares.) Why did his mechanics fail there? Laziness? Or is it just that it's impossible to actually have correct mechanics on every play?

Keep in mind that this whole discussion started because of one play in which Cutler threw off his back foot last week.

115
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 1:23am

That may be where that discussion started, but I've been noting his lamentable mechanics for years, and noting that it very, very, unlikely that an athlete of Cutler's quality would have such wildly inconsistent mechanics, for years on end, if he would endeavor to do otherwise.

Do all qbs sometimes have bad mechanics? Sure. The ones without Cutler's athletic ability are out for the league fairly soon when they have consistently bad mechanics. If Cutler had performed as well as Rodgers has since 2008, I would not have written what I did.

119
by Jimmy :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 11:20am

Keep in mind that this whole discussion started because of one play in which Cutler threw off his back foot last week.

As Kyle Williams was harrumphing towards him having thrown Garza aside with one arm.

121
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 11:51am

Cutler was under no significant pressure. He had plenty of time to set his feet and throw correctly.

125
by Jimmy :: Wed, 09/17/2014 - 8:15am

No he didn't. They did video it you know, people can go back and check. He couldn't step into the throw.

124
by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 7:24pm

I don't think it was just one. I think he threw off his back foot many times last week, even on some of his good throws. Maybe I'm wrong, though, but if I'd only seen one, then I wouldn't be calling him out for it.

Also, I don't think Cutler worked with his mechanics during the week. If he hadn't put a lot of work into it already, he couldn't just fix it in a few days. What happened is he paid attention to it this week. That's where the lazy comes in, his having the mechanics but somehow not relying on them. Could be indiscipline, could be lack of concentration, could be cockiness, could be laziness. Who knows, really.

------
Who, me?

6
by acr :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:30am

Cutler was missing so badly for the Bears in the first half that I have to assume his timing with them was off. Neither Jeffery or Marshall was close to 100%, seems like he expected them to be in places they just couldn't make it to. I also remember at least once Marshall getting beaten by a Niners corner coming back to the ball and thinking Marshall likely would have come back harder and made the catch if it weren't for his ankle.

Another thing to think about with this game is as bad as the Bears looked going down 17-0. One of those TDs was virtually free from a blocked punt and another came off great field position. The Bears D was good last night, they bended but did not break and eventually created a bunch of turnovers.

Necessary win for the Bears, now the concern is will Jeffery and Marshall's soft tissue injuries nag them all season from trying to play through them?

7
by Lance :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:31am

"FOX just showed a graphic saying that the Cowboys have won two of their last three games against the Titans. What the hell does that matter? Those games were in 2010, 2006, and 2002. You know, before Football Outsiders even existed."

This is what I don't get about various gambling stats you hear from those "sharps" that make it onto sports radio this time of year. You know-- so-and-so is 13-4 ATS in night games on the West Coast!! Uh, that could take you back nearly a decade! Or more! At that point, the only consistent thing is the jersey.

18
by RickD :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:02pm

Also, "Team X has beaten Team Y 2 out of the last 3 times" is the classic uninteresting stat. If you had two identical teams, one of them would win at least 2 out of 3 times. The p-value for this stat is 1.0.

56
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 2:07pm

He. Worse,if they say "2 out of the last 3 times" then they really also mean "2 out of the last 4 times," because otherwise they would say "3 out of the last 4 times."

86
by Theo :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 4:22pm

the only information I get from this is that FOX is kinda desperate to stay positive on the Cowboys and need meaningless stuff like this to sell it.

7
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:31am

For a quarter and a half Green Bay fans were boiling tar and gathering feathers for the Dom Capers 'Party' to be held after the game.

Then the defense stopped biting so hard on every little misdirection/play fake, the linebackers stayed in the middle of the field so the qb couldn't waltz for every third down as needed and Decker leaving the game made the Jets offense limited.

Also noticeable is that Boykin drops one ball in the red zone and is benched for the rest of the day for the rookie Adams who caught 5 passes and looked solid. Also, Devon House who is nobody's idea of trustworthy in pass coverage looked ok as Casey Hayward didn't play apparently due to several missed tackles last week

Wasn't pretty. But Green Bay won. And any time the return/coverage units on special teams want to be competent would be fine with me

16
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:54am

Half of that roster oughta' be consigning 10% of their salary to the guy playing quarterback.

34
by dank067 :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:04pm

I checked the inactives list twice yesterday because I was wondering where Hayward was. I guess if they feel his tackling problems are about effort/concentration/discipline then maybe benching him is justified, but that meant putting Jarrett Bush out in coverage. But as you said, House actually looked okay. Maybe he's developing along the ultra-slow Tramon Williams footpath.

55
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 2:04pm

House spent the summer training with Revis and a few others. He made a lot of noise about how that made him realize a lot of things that he could do and that he wasn't doing. He has great "measurables" so if he can learn how to use them he can be good.

As to Hayward being benched, there was some chatter from the coaches that they feel they have five guys they feel comfortable playing or starting and that someone in the room is going to be upset about playing time. In week one that was House, before this game they were saying it was going to be someone else. Looks like that was Hayward. Things were said that game time depends on prior game performance as well as practice. I don't like seeing Bush in coverage, but he can play well at times. House may have turned a real corner. If that is the case I'm all for benching someone for not playing well, and that might be Williams or Shields too if the coaches are to be believed.

9
by TomC :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:34am

"Scott Kacsmar: Out of all the possible 17-point comebacks, I'm not sure any team's ever looked worse doing it than the Bears. Oh wait, there was that game in Arizona in 2006. Jim Harbaugh giving us a "we let them off the hook!" moment would make this one memorable."

I don't get this comment at all. The Bears offense scored a TD every time it touched the ball in the 2nd half, and the defense made a couple of absolutely earned stops, and their rookie CB made two excellent plays for interceptions. The comparison to the crown-their-asses game doesn't make any sense. Grossman set records for ineptitude in that game, whereas Cutler had one incompletion the entire second half (and 3 TD passes).

10
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:38am

Anyone have thoughts on why offensive levels are quite a bit lower this year than last? Now, two weeks is not a long sample but I believe in past we've seen levels high in Sept/Oct before dropping slightly.

So far, through 1 and 15/16 weeks, scoring is at 21.6 ppg per team, and yardage is at 343.5 ypg per team, already below last year's full season totals of 23.4 ppg and 348.5 ypg.

What's really strange is scoring being that far down (and 1.8 ppg per team is quite a big drop - 2009 was the last season it was below 21.6) despite efficiency being pretty high. QBs are completing 63.7% of passes so far, with an average QB rating of 86.6. Yard per carry is at 4.3, which is higher than last year. Play-to-play, it doesn't seem like offenses are struggling, but yesterday the average offense barely gained 320 yards.

I think there is an influx of great defensive players right now, and as a fan of defense I welcome this change, but it will be interesting to see if defenses can keep this up.

62
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 2:32pm

I have done some analysis on this. The big spiking gains in offensive production over the last decade have really come from the middle of the field. By in large, outside receiving dvoa has stayed more or less constant, with slight increases, but the big gains have come from slot receivers, tight ends, and running backs.

I have to imagine over this period, teams have accumulated much better cover players in the middle, with the old Roy williams types no longer making it on the field. Last year's offensive numbers I feel are a bit skewed by the ridiculous Denver outlier.

65
by Cythammer :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 2:39pm

Maybe efficient QB play is keeping the clock moving, thereby resulting in fewer offensive plays…?

69
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 2:52pm

Total drives have been in decline for years now. It doesn't seem to be a drive issue...ppl are just converting more and more.

74
by BJR :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 3:08pm

I don't have the numbers to hand but I looked into week-by-week scoring rates a couple years back with about ten years worth of data. Weeks 1 & 2 were below average in scoring. Don't know exactly why, perhaps the sample wasn't large enough and it was random, but you would have to think it is an offensive rhythm thing.

Scoring rates climb to a peak around week four, then plateaus through to about week 10 before declining again, presumably as weather begins to impact.

77
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 3:21pm

Interesting, will definitely keep tracking this. I've been pleasantly surprised by the seeming competitive balance between offense and defense so far this year and would love it to continue the way it has been.

82
by Pen :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 4:00pm

I used to run ADP leagues and it was a pretty well established phenomena that the first couple of weeks defenses had the upper hand while offenses worked out their kinks or got more game film, whatever. The first four weeks were your best weeks for defenses. After that, the offenses began establishing themselves. Being a football fan for decades, it never occurred to me that no one else had noticed something I though everyone took for granted. Defenses have their best days the first four weeks.

91
by Theo :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 4:38pm

I thought this was pretty well known.
"Defense is easier" so defenses hit the ground running when the NFL starts. The offenses are still figuring out who to start at QB.

93
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 5:23pm

This isn't really a thing in recent years.

2013:
First four weeks: 22.8 ppg; 355 ypg
Whole Reg Season: 23.4 ppg; 348 ypg

2012:
First four weeks: 23.7 ppg; 353 ypg
Whole Reg Season: 22.8 ppg; 347 ypg

2011:
First four weeks: 22.8 ppg; 354 ypg
Whole Reg Season: 22.1 ppg; 347 ypg

2010:
First four weeks: 20.3 ppg; 329 ypg
Whole Reg Season: 22.0 ppg; 336 ypg

Something changed after the lockout. It is really early to tell anything from 2014, but it may have corrected itself finally.

108
by Scott C :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 9:54pm

points per game is not offense.

Defense heavily influences points per game via field position and scoring themselves (and to a lesser extent, so do special teams). Defensive turnovers can shift a game from one of long fields and punts with no scoring to short fields and many easy offensive scores, without the offense doing any better.

I don't know what is going on, but I do know that points and yards per game aren't the way to look at it.

11
by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:38am

Special Teams from hell in that Dolphin loss: a kickoff return TD, a muffed punt, a blocked punt, two punts off the side of the foot, poor kickoff returns... But the most troubling thing is Tanehill's accuracy and ball placement have been terrible through two games. He was much better in the second half again, but that's not NFL caliber accuracy from him so far.

------
Who, me?

13
by johonny :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:42am

Brawck Award to Joe Philbin for walking in at half time with 2 minutes on the clock and all three time outs. I don't blame him for running clock at first. Still the Dolphins put on three good runs in a row and finally got the ball to the 40. They were two-three completions from a field goal attempt and the Bills seemed to be giving them yards. Instead 2 more runs and a walk into the locker-room. Sure Miami was getting the ball to start the second half, but they were down by 9! Worse they ran Tannehill on one of their clock killing runs. Is Miami's starting QB so worthless that Miami uses him to run into the line to kill clock? Tannehill was inaccurate until late-then Miller, Sims and Matthews went on a drop-feast. The Dolphins special teams were dreadful partly due to so many of their best special teamers being in the starting line-up due to injury. The Bills offense was mostly checked all day. Moreno was hurt early and Miller was hurt late. So between starting running back and linebacker the Dolphins are looking mighty vulnerable heading into next week.

14
by Eddo :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:43am

"Aaron Schatz: I wish I understood why Bill Belichick has actually gotten *less* aggressive in his old age."

Isn't the answer to this "human nature"?

33
by Ben :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:56pm

I'm wondering if it's more that Bill Belichick has gotten less aggressive in Tom Brady's old age (in football terms).

48
by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:34pm

Also, I commented on this last year as well, but Brady is becoming a very limited passer. Going back even to 2012, he throws almost everything to the middle of the field. Finding a game where an outside receiver catches more than a couple of passes is actually rare now. Brady still throws a kind of pretty ball, and certainly his best receivers are middle-of-the-field guys. But it's pretty drastic.

49
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:38pm

Is that Brady or the nature of his receiving corps?

Being so tight end centric doesn't it make sense that the bulk be in the middle of the field?

64
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 2:36pm

In this game, I thought Brady showed some real zip on his short to intermediate routes. But then his long ball just seemed to be off. That long pass miss to edelman feels like a recurring theme every game - that has to be a result of loss in arm strength hurting his timing. Manning adjusted with release it higher and dropping it in, so maybe Brady can do that too.

17
by RickD :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:59am

But in general, they have got Darrelle Revis shutting down Greg Jennings even though we all agree Patterson is their best offensive weapon, because I'm guessing they see Jennings as a much more dangerous *receiver*.

Maybe Patterson is too fast for Revis?

Revis shut down Jennings completely. His strengths are his ability to match the routes run by even the best receivers. But even in his best Jets' years, the fastest WRs could simply blow by him (as Mike Wallace did last week). Not easily, mind you, but it's a possibility.

19
by BroncFan07 :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:02pm

Just throwing this out there- is everyone cool with Illegal Contact and Defensive Holding being automatic first downs? I'm sort of getting tired of seeing a team in 3rd and 20 getting bailed out because someone on the opposite side of the field bumped the receiver. Should it go to college rules and not be an automatic first down? Or is it high school rules?

21
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:09pm

The thought process is that if not for the hold or contact, the player would have gotten open and caught the ball.

My compromise would be to have a 1st-down if the foul occurs beyond the line to gain (ex: if its 3rd and 20 and the IC happens 24 yards downfield, it is a 1st down).

Also, I would like to see a tradeoff where more offensive fouls are loss of down (maybe Holding on passing plays, with the theory that the hold prevented a sack?)

22
by Eddo :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:09pm

I agree. I'd prefer them to be ten-yard penalties, so that most of the time, they do result in first downs, but it's not automatic.

I also think there should be more loss-of-down penalties on the offense. I've never liked the "offense makes a good play, but they did something illegal - DO OVER!" vs. "defense makes a good play, but they did something illegal - FIRST DOWN OFFENSE!" dichotomy.

25
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:13pm

I wish it was not auto-first down as well.

If it's going to be, then offensive holding and pass interference should be a loss of down.

27
by Arkaein :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:21pm

I've always hated Illegal Contact, since in my mind it seems that much of the time it's called it is very ticky-tacky, and often has no effect of the outcome of the play because the QB may not even be looking in that direction.

I'd be fine with the NFL not having illegal contact at all (it isn't used in high school or college), but since that isn't likely I'd say that making it a 5 yard penalty without automatic first down, and/or extending the bump region to 10 yards would be improvements.

Holding could be made 10 yards with no automatic first, or kept the same. My main issues with defensive holding are that it seems to be pretty inconsistently enforced. At least taking away the automatic first would prevent the situation you describe.

30
by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:26pm

Problem is defensive players will ALWAYS try to hold and chuck just enough not to get flagged. If you lessen the penalties, then DB's are just going to try to get away with more.

50
by Charles Jake :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:41pm

I wish they'd ditch the automatic first as well. I wrote a post on another fansite arguing that either they ditch the automatic first down for anything other than personal fouls, or that all post-snap offensive penalties are enforced like intentional grounding; loss of down plus yardage. Holding on 1st & 10 becomes 2nd & 20.

An object at rest cannot be stopped.

102
by jdawg :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 6:46pm

Not sure if holding should be a loss of down, but I think offensive pass interference definitely should be. As commenters above say, the defensive pass interference penalty is so severe, giving an automatic first down. Loss of down on OPI would help balance that out somewhat. If a receiver interferes with defender and breaks up a would-be interception, there's no penalty that adequately puts defending team where they would have been, but loss of down along with loss of 10 yards would help get it closer.

23
by oaktoon :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:10pm

Actually, Sheldon Richardson called the TO. He saw Morninwheg walking up sideline toward refs and assumed. Marty meanwhile had decided with 4 secs left on play clock to let the play go-- and gave the hands out signal to his sideline to leave it alone-- but Sheldon wanted desperately for that ref to know and got in his ear at the last second. Pure J.E.T.S. but we in Wisconsin thank you, Sheldon. Truth is, several Packers report hearing the whistle so who knows ow the play actually would have turned out...

104
by Ezra Johnson :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 7:03pm

Yes - the DBs in the end zone seemed to know immediately that the TD would not count.

24
by WeaponX :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:10pm

Carolina is clearly talked about to little because the bad projections not based in reality must be embarrassing. Knowing the oline was not very good the past 3 seasons and that Olsen was the top receiver is way better than this. Buried Panthers 2-0 already crowned preseason champ Aints 0-2
#breakthenarratives
#reality
Sometimes I even trip myself out.

32
by Sakic :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:50pm

"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.)"

71
by dbostedo :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 2:55pm

He knows that, which is why he used the standard ZLionsFan template that is typically asked for in the weekly DVOA ratings.

73
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 3:05pm

I like how he updated to the old template with the hashtags, to bring griping about DVOA ratings into the Twitter world.

28
by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:25pm

VV: "Wilson's magic beans ran out"

That was a curious final drive by the Seahawks down 6 with 3 minutes to go, on the SD 11. A jet sweep to start things off lost 6 yards. I would have like to see Wilson play from the pocket a try to pick apart the SD defense. But Bevell kept calling his normal plays and they just didn't work in crunch time. It was kind of a gimmicky call, I don't know why he doesn't have more faith in Wilson.

83
by Pen :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 4:02pm

That offense was lights out, but I had this dreadful intuition that the Seahawks were going to run the jet sweep right then and that SD would be expecting it. Sure enough, the Hawks did and the Chargers did.

Just let Wilson win it.

35
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:06pm

Regarding Griffin, an intriguing trade partner would be KC. Griffin playing McNabb 2.0 under Reid.

38
by Jimmy :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:17pm

My favourite trade scenario is him getting shipped to St Louis for a second round pick or similar. Then I really would laugh my ass off.

53
by RickD :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:55pm

Aside from the humiliation factor, that would actually be a reasonable trade for both teams. Though I'm not sure St. Louis wants to replace one injury-prone QB with another one.

36
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:08pm

If McCarthy is now quickly benching guys for things like missed tackles/dropped passes that could be his message that the future is right NOW. Players have done such things in the past and it would take a serious pattern before benching became an option.

It could definitely bite him if guys believe his actions are perceived as arbitrary and/or unfair.

37
by Led :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:09pm

The timeout in Jets/Packers was weird but you can see how that could happen. Oh well. What makes no sense to me is how both teams can be involved in a battle royal in the endzone, one Jet player can have his helmet ripped off by a Packer, and yet the only penalties assessed are on the Jets. (Btw, I have no issue with Wilkerson being thrown out for punching. He wasn't the only one, but he did it more.) Actually, I think the whole fracas was the fault of the officials in the first place for not signalling that the conversion was good sooner or blowing the play dead for lack of forward progress. The latter would have been incorrect because Cobb was over the line but better than allowing a pointless rugby scrum to continue on the goal line. Refs these days are extremely slow to blow the whistle when forward progress is stopped. It causes ill will and greater risk of injury. Just enforce the rules!

40
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:18pm

The refs were cautioned a few years back to be slow to whistle due to a series of quick whistles that impacted obvious turnovers.

43
by Arkaein :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:20pm

But that play was a two point conversion which was already signaled as successful. Either the whistle wasn't blown for no good reason, or the Jets players ignored it.

47
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:24pm

I understand. But officials are going to operate on the same practice for that play as regular plays. Which means they are likely slow to use the whistle.

Not saying this is correct or even sensible.

42
by Arkaein :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:18pm

I was surprised not to see offsetting penalties when the Jets' player's helmet came off, though the replay shown a minute later from behind the end zone clearly showed that the Packers player who grabbed off the helmet (reported to be TE Andrew Quarless) only did so after the same Jets player had grabbed a hold of his face mask, and didn't let go.

This is the kind of situation that you don't see the first player getting flagged consistently, but it looks like what happened here.

Some other strange calls in this game related to unsportsman like conduct. After Jordy was tackled along the sideline questionably late, looking like it might have been a late hit out of bounds, GB gets hit with a taunting penalty from the sideline, even though Jordy didn't say anything and the tackle was pretty well past the player area on the sideline.

Later, on a kickoff downed in the end zone, GB got another taunting penalty after just running past the returner in the end zone, when replays showed the returner flinch toward the Packer like he was going to throw a shoulder into him. No idea what was said, but really questionable penalties where nothing was caught on video.

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by big10freak :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:23pm

Not being picky but I don't think GB was penalized on that sideline play. I think someone called the refs nasty names for letting the Jets player tackle Jordy out of bounds.

And Bush getting penalized is unsurprising. The guy is always in the middle of any kerfuffle.

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by ChrisS :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:50pm

I think it was for a coach leaving the coaches box to yell at the ref for not calling the late hit.

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by Sakic :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 3:09pm

Yeah, that's what I figured as well. McCarthy generally keeps his cool but it was pretty blatant and it happened right in front of him...he may not have even realized he was out of the coaches box.

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by nuclearbdgr :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:35pm

The twitterverse seemed to think it was on Rob Davis (former long-snapper, now player support guy), not McCarthy

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by ChrisS :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:17pm

deleted

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by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:22pm

When watching Lions-Panthers, I was less disappointed at how the Lions played, and more impressed with how good the Panthers are, specifically their defense (even missing Greg Hardy). Luke Kuechley was all over the place, especially in pass D. He had several sure tackles making sure Bush, Bell, and Golden Tate got minimal YAC. He also had an impressive pass breakup on a seam route that would have resulted in a long gain by Ebron. I was impressed by Cam, too. He was under heavy pressure all day, but made some nice throws to put the game away in the 4th quarter.

Everyone was down on the Panthers this year because of the turnover in the receiving corps and secondary, but last year the non-Smith receivers (even Smith had clearly lost a step) and the journeyman DB's where never anything to write home about, anyway. Newton/Olson carried the offense, and the front seven carried the defense.

As for the Lions, the same mistakes keep cropping up to kill them. They were moving up and down the field in the 1st half, but two missed field goals, a fumble, and dropped TD pass kept them scoreless. Can't miss opportunities like that against a good team on the road.

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by ChrisS :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 2:02pm

It seemed like a pretty even game. Both teams had good passing offenses and good run defenses (or the contra). The main difference was two missed FG's for the Lions and three turnovers (Lions) to none (Panthers). The pass tha Kuechly knocked down was an outstanding play on a ball that was well thrown.

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by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 2:17pm

I was high on teh Panthers entering the year for that specific reason. The things they were good at they are still very good at (Cam, Running backs, designing offense, Greg Olsen, Dominant Front-7), and the things they got bad at they really didn't get much worse at. For instance, coming into 2013, no one thought a secondary with Drayton Florence and Mike Mitchell playing big roles is a good thing.

The one exception was the o-line, and while the run-blocking is worse, their pass blocking didn't seem too bad against a good front.

Luke Kuechly seems even better this year. His tracking back on seam routes is Urlacher-ian. Their front-seven is still great even without Hardy, as Kawaan Short seems to have taken a step up.

Screens are useless against them, as are most short passes over the middle. The only real way to beat them is outside, and even a team with a good 1-2 punch didn't really do it.

They might just become the first team ever to repeat as NFC South Champions.

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by theslothook :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 2:40pm

Luke Kuechly is currently even better than the version everyone thought he was last year. I thought calling him DPOY was silly last year. This year...i know there's that freak in Houston, but man, Luke is insane.

I can't remember having so many good defensive players in the league as it is now. Just the star level talent is simply amazing.

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by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 3:20pm

Urlacher is the better position comp (and Urlacher himself was a freak athlete), but he's the closest thing to Brooks as I've seen since Derrick. He's not as good yet, but he's always around the ball, he shuts down screens and quick-hits to TEs incredibly well.

My favorite performance of his was the one that basically won him the DPOTY last year with his monster game against the Saints in Week 16, when he basically shut down the Saints screen game single-handidly.

And yes, the level of defensive talent is unreal right now. The '11 draft is historically good (Miller, Watt, Aldon, Peterson, Sherman, Quinn, with guys slightly behind like Justin Houston, Cameron Jordan and Marcell Dareus), and then you have Kuechly from 2012. Hard to believe he's only in his 3rd year.

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by theslothook :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 4:22pm

We can also add Fairley to that list. Pff grades him well too. Then there are players like Atkins, Suh, Mccoy, kyle williams, etc.

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by BJR :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 3:34pm

The Lions pass protection held up well at first, Stafford was moving and throwing well and it looked like they were going to enjoy a successful offensive day. But the Carolina front seven wore them down, which is what good defensive fronts do. Obviously failing to score points when they were dominating in the first half cost them.

I've no idea why Stafford was still dropping back throwing passes on the final drive, seemingly getting hit heavily on every other play. I saw the same thing happening to Matt Ryan on another screen. Three scores down, on the road against a fierce pass rush like the Panthers or Bengals, surely it's time to get your most important guy out of the firing line and move on to next week?

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by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 3:44pm

I was surprised how good the Lions' pass protection as at first, especially since they were down to their 3rd string right tackle. In the 4th quarter, that 3rd string right tackle played like what he was...a guy signed off the street the week before the game.

And I totally agree with you about having your franchise QB take hits in garbage time in a hopeless situation. Stafford has started 50 games in a row, but no need to tempt fate.

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by tuluse :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 4:53pm

I really don't understand keeping in important starters in a blow. Not only is it no productive and dangerous to their health, but you're also missing an opportunity to get some backups valuable in game experience.

I know this seems at odds with my Bridgewater comment, but I think grooming young QBs is basically different from anything in football.

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by SFC B :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 6:33am

I am 100% in agreement with you. For the life of me I don't know why teams take that risk with their players. Watching Houston this weekend I couldn't believe that Andre Johnson was still playing once they were up by 3TDs with 10 minutes to play. He's like 34, has a history of hamstring injuries, and is still their best receiver. Watching him pull up lame and grab his leg while running out some early-season blow-out win would have made me slam the laptop shut.

51
by wdarin :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 1:47pm

Thanks for bringing up that Butch Johnson catch. Everytime I see it, I'm amazed not so much that it was called a catch at the time, but that it doesn't seem to be controversial. Dallas dominated that game anyway, so I guess it might not have mattered - but it definitely wasn't a catch.

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by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 6:18pm

2 of worst"catches" ever were b. Johnson touchdown super Bowl 12 and Mel Gray vs redskns MNF game 1976

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by Pen :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 8:40pm

Why did you make me remember the Mel Gray "catch"? Still ticks me off 38 years later.

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by Scott C :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 9:58pm

RJ is an incredible encyclopedia of NFL history, presented in Sierra Nevada influenced typos.

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by MJK :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 2:30pm

The first thing I would do if I became commissioner isn't to get rid of celebration penalties. It would be to get rid of the "automatic first down" part of all defensive penalties. (Except maybe personal fouls).

I saw at least three or four 3rd and 15 or longer plays converted on 5 yard defensive holding or illegal contact calls. I hate that. Give the offense their 5 yards and make them try again.

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by Scott C :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 10:00pm

I would also change offensive holding from -10 yards and repeat down to 0 yards loss of down. It is currently a good idea to hold in many contexts because the risk is worth it.

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by big10freak :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 2:39pm

Defensive lineman Mike Daniels of GB played a really good game yesterday after a pedestrian opening game. He was constantly in Smith's face on pass plays and had multiple run stops. Just a fine all around day

68
by liquidmuse3 :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 2:41pm

Schatz, maybe Belichick doesn't want to subject his aging QB (with a green rookie backup) to more punishment than neccessary, re: QB sneaks.

81
by Hang50 :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 3:53pm

Rivers obviously brought his A-game with him against Seattle; some of his placements were incredibly good.

Interestingly, though, he was putting serious heat on all nearly all his throws. I wonder if McCoy and co. during tape study saw the Seattle DBs relying on closing speed as their defensive strategy and thought that they'd consistently find some space if they signaled fastball every pitch.

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by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 6:13pm

Luke Kuechly tremendous lpayer. Caro defense giid. Rind of some great Raiders defenses.

Jake Licker crap yesterday y. Horrible performance. Going up a g ainst crap defense. Trailing halftime. Defense gonna allow yardage ad still he diesnt put up numbers.

101
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 6:35pm

"Jake Licker" is now my favorite RJ misspelling.

116
by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 6:02am

My personal favourite Joment is when he abbreviates Tennessee Titans to Ten Tits. That works for me, on several levels.

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by Chip :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 6:24pm

Sad ending for Peanut.

When Sabermeticians look back on his career in a generations time, they’ll realize that his HOF induction should have been a no-brainer.

CBs are judged on their INT total, for which he comes up short

Ed Reed: 64
Charles Woodson: 57
Deion Sanders: 53
Champ Bailey: 52
Peanut: 36

But he stands out in the Forced Fumbles category.
Peanut: 42
Woodson: 32
Reed: 11
Bailey: 11
Sanders: 10

If you weight FF as worth 70% of an INT (roughly the defensive recovery rate in the secondary where presumably most FF occurred), then Peanut HOF worth:
Combined INT + 70% FF =
Woodson: 79
Reed: 72
Peanut: 65
Bailey: 60
Sanders: 60

Not to mention his ability as a cover corner and in particular his successful efforts in frequently shutting down his division rival Megatron. But I’m too lazy to look those stats up.

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by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 6:28pm

Also made key PBU vs R. moss in end zone 2003 season.game at chicago

99
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 6:33pm

Tillman was quite good against Randy Moss as well, when Moss was still in his prime.

(edit)Always good to be on the same wavelength as rj.

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by tuluse :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 7:22pm

He was also quality as a run defender. Which added a non trivial value even in today's NFL. In 2005-6 it often seemed like every running back was tackled by Briggs, Urlacher or Tillman depending on which direction they ran.

I never really thought of him as a HoF, since he did have certain specific flaws (through a quick water bug receiver at him, and he was below average), but those forced fumble stats are darn impressive.

120
by Jimmy :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 11:24am

It always seems incongruous to me that when a player gets a pick they are credited with everything about it. The overwhelming majority of picks occur due to some other player (eg a pass rusher or another defender tipping the ball) creating havoc which allows the intercepting player to have a chance to make the play. No covering player is likely to have rushed the QB's throw prior to picking off the pass so why are INTs entirely credited to the picker?

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by jdawg :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 1:22pm

Same reason receptions aren't split between the receiver and the OL, and other receivers who helped the receiver get open.

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by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 6:31pm

On 2nd tjoight, think it was interception. Did not like 2003 vikes, so when see bears and Crdinals screw them in waning weeks of season, It was fun

100
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 6:34pm

I didn't much like the 2003 Vikes either, rj.

118
by Sakic :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 9:41am

Ah yes, the Nate Poole catch in the endzone which knocked the Vikes from the playoffs. Most Packer fans consider this one of the all-time great plays in Packer history. :-)

103
by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 6:50pm

It annoyed me to see replay upon replay talking about how Kaepernick had to scramble because his receivers were covered when on the last pick, the one to the offensive left, it's quite obvious from the all-22 (ish, I think it was the floating camera) that the eventual intended receiver was wide open up the seam if Kap had been willing to release the ball as he cleared the linebacker. Instead, I'm not sure he ever saw him, decided to scamper about because that's what he does, and then threw to the same guy, who was by now much less open after having adjusted to the scramble.

Not that he's not extremely effective on the run, but he still strikes me as someone who misses a lot of things and runs when he doesn't have to. He's not skittish about it the way, say, Ryan Fitzpatrick is/was, and he's way more talented, but he's leaving good plays on the table in ways that I don't think are accurately covered by the "locks on to his first read" meme.

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by SpankingtonWelliver :: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 4:09pm

Yes, Newby to outsiders, but unfortunately, Trestman used his considerable noggin to do an end around courtesy of Bill Bellichick. As they say in the stock market options pit, buy the mystery, sell the history. I sold the history and thought Marshall and definitely Jeffries would sit out, but this is ludicrous. B Marshall, never sits out unless he has a pair of crutches or a Dr. Says that he will ruin one of his appendages.

Summary, Trestman let the Doctors and Trainers rule the roost, exclaiming nothing about Jeffries and Marshall, and letting the mystery carry the day. We all went on about the new WR, Moss and I prognosticated Bennett TE would be huge, which was obvious, but the point is that we all believed the nay sayers about both of these guys. Jeffries was hobbled, but he still was questionable, and any football coach or player will tell you that the higher up in defensive skill a secondary and linebacking group can be, decoys are generally more valuable to the offense then the other scenario, i.e having a scrub or recent pick up from the scrap heap line up instead .

A guy doing fantasy since your parents met.

126
by nat :: Thu, 09/18/2014 - 4:58pm

And this is another situation where a team should have considered the two-point conversion to make it a 9-point game.
Scott K still believes in that hobbyhorse of his? Really?

It's a horrible strategy idea based on a horribly flawed analysis - using bad data, a broken calculator, and flawed logic. For all the bogosity in all its glory, see last year's Clutch Encounters 13.

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/clutch-encounters/2013/clutch-encounter...

Ah, well. It's Audibles. We have to accept the occasional blooper.