Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

20 Oct 2014

Audibles at the Line: Week 7

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.

Tennessee Titans 17 at Washington Redskins 19

Tom Gower: After last week's Jacksonville contest, I can't make any comments about this being the worst or least elegant or ugliest NFL game I've seen this year. Instead, like the Titans-Jaguars game, Tennessee-Washington is a relatively even contest between two not so very good at all teams. Titans lead 10-6 at the half. Both scores came on possessions that began in opposing territory after Kirk Cousins turnovers, one fumble-sack and the other a hideous interception that immediately followed a pretty bad Charlie Whitehurst pick on an overthrow. I'd say more about this game, but I'm already re-thinking my life and my team is winning.

Colt McCoy was Freed on the first Washington possession of the second half and leads his team to a touchdown. By "leads," I mean he threw a five yard pass to Pierre Garcon and used his mind control powers to force Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Michael Griffin to not tackle Garcon.

Cian Fahey: What is the opposite of a highlight reel? A blooper reel? Whatever it is, Blidi Wreh-Wilson's keeps growing. Garcon got away from him way too easily on that curl route for a touchdown.

Rivers McCown: I'd rather start Bleeding Gums Murphy at corner than Blidi Wreh-Wilson.

Tom Gower: So, yeah, that happened. The Titans muffed a punt, Washington took a 16-10 lead. Ken Whisenhunt went for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 45-yard line with nine minutes to play, the sort of aggressive decision we've been clamoring for for years. The Titans converted, and Charlie Whitehurst found Derek Hagan (out of the NFL last year) over the top for a go-ahead score. The Titans stopped Washington, then failed to move the ball themselves. 80 yards, just over three minutes for Colt McCoy? No problem, game-ending Kai Forbath field goal from 22 yards.

Tennessee's defensive front continued to play fairly well in the second half, limiting Alfred Morris and getting some pressure at times. But McCoy still finished 11-12 and moved the ball on the final drive. I know you really like him, Cian, but Jason McCourty's lack of ball skills showed up on a few big Washington pass plays today, including a 22-yard pass interference call that helped set up the game-winner.

Mostly, this was just two not very good teams that can't drive the field consistently and need short fields or big plays to score, and won't if they shoot themselves in the foot. Tennessee did that last in particular more today.

Seattle Seahawks 26 at St. Louis Rams 28

Andrew Healy: Really nice shovel pass for the Rams to go up 14-3. Austin Davis waited a beat before releasing. Note that Russell Wilson is 2-6 so far (albeit for good yardage). Against the Rams, he’s been under 30 in QBR 3 out of 4 times in his career.

Eugene Sims gets the Rams’ second sack in three plays. Wilson had no chance.

But more importantly, that awesome punt return with the fake catch on the right, Stedman Bailey catches it over his shoulder on the left and goes 88 yards for a super-easy touchdown. 21-3 Rams. The Bears did that three years ago against the Packers but it was called back on a penalty. Love that play.

Cian Fahey: The Rams just ran a trick punt return that led to a touchdown. It was a well-designed, well-executed play, but the bigger issue is the Seahawks' complete lack of discipline. It's something that has shown up throughout this season in different ways. So far against the Rams, the Seahawks gave up a misdirection pitch touchdown and that punt return. Two huge plays.

By discipline, I mean defensive responsibility rather than penalties.

Andrew Healy: I think the Seahawks have looked bad so far, notably on that Sims sack right before the punt. The Rams threatened double A-gap pressure, but dropped and brought five instead. The line screwed up the protection and it was still a jailbreak.

I think we have to give more credit to the Rams for the punt return than blame to the Seahawks.

Another Rams sack. Robert Quinn’s first of the season. They had one sack in 311 dropbacks this year coming in. Now four already today with five minutes left second quarter. Continuing the pattern from previous seasons. Fourth straight game against the Rams where Wilson’s been sacked at least four times.

Scott Kacsmar: Why not go for it on fourth-and-3 if you're Jeff Fisher? Greg Zuerlein missed the 52-yard field goal and now Wilson has a short field. I think the offense was playing well enough to go for that one to try making it 28-3 to end the half.

Andrew Healy: Because Jeff Fisher loves 50+ field goals more than touchdowns. His favorite drive ending just happened (other than the miss).

Cian Fahey: Being fair to him, Zuerlein has a huge leg. 52 should be one he expects to make.

Andrew Healy: For his career, Zuerlein is now 9-18 50+. That one was only 52, but he’s missed enough from that range.

Cian Fahey: How many of the misses are 58+? Believe he's had more than one failed attempt at the record.

Andrew Healy: 5 of 9 career 50+ misses for Zuerlein are from 52 or shorter. His career 50+ misses are: 50, 50, 51, 57, 58, 58, 52, 66, 52.

Another reason to go for it instead of kicking: You make it and you can run out the clock instead of giving it back to Seattle with just under two minutes left. I think it’s definitely better to go for it. Not that there was any chance Fisher would.

Cian Fahey: The inconsistency of the NFL continues to amaze. Browns losing to Jaguars approaching half-time. Bears being smacked by the Dolphins in third quarter. Panthers have essentially lost already to the Packers at half-time. The Saints are beating the Lions at the half. And of course, the Rams are smacking the Seahawks at half-time.

Vince Verhei: Well, things are bad for Seattle, but maybe not quite as bad as they appear on the surface. The Rams have one touchdown on a mass hypnosis punt return, and another set up by a 75-yard kickoff return. So Seattle is getting killed on special teams, but in theory those are not repeatable plays. Meanwhile, yes, Austin Davis is 9-of-9, but only has 41 yards. Don't get me wrong, there are problems galore, especially the sacks (officially three in the first half for SL). But I don't think the game is a lost cause yet.

Scott Kacsmar: Seahawks have a 56-game streak of being within at least one score in the fourth quarter. I kind of expect that to continue today after the Rams missed a big opportunity to end the half in full control. Only good news is the Seahawks settled for a field goal to end the half.

Aaron Schatz: I always say this -- the inconsistency of the NFL only stands out because there is only one game per week for each team. In baseball, or even in basketball, we think nothing of it if a good team comes out and has one bad game and loses to a bad team, because there will be another game tomorrow. An NFL game represents a larger sample size than a baseball game -- there are about 50 percent more plays than there are at bats in an average nine-inning game -- but that only means there should be slightly less variation, not a lot less variation. Sometimes you have good days, and sometimes bad days. (And sometimes good matchups, and sometimes bad matchups.)

Vince Verhei: Seahawks drive down the field and get a Russell Wilson 19-yard touchdown run on an option-keeper to make it 21-13. They had to convert a bunch of third downs to do it. Percy Harvin is gone, but the team is still throwing a ton of short perimeter stuff, likely because they don't trust the offensive line to hold up on deep ball attempts. It didn't help that they were down to third-stringer Patrick Lewis at center for a while, though Steven Schilling has returned.

Andrew Healy: Austin Davis throwing everything short. Now 11-12 for 56 yds (92%, 4.7 Y/A). In NFL history, nobody has thrown for fewer net yards per attempt and had over 85% completion percentage with over 10 attempts.

Fourth-and-1 from the Seattle 45-yard line in a game where you’re a clear underdog. 21-13 ahead at the end of the third quarter. I really thought Fisher might go for it there. Instead they take a delay of game with the Fisher and Schottenheimer doing frantic Birdman gestures to wave off a snap or signify their terror at the thought of being aggressive. Man, the revolution still has a long way to go.

Scott Kacsmar: If Seattle comes back, Fisher will have blown leads of 21 (Dallas), 14 (San Francisco) and 18 at home in just seven weeks of the season.

Cian Fahey: Russell Wilson has two big runs today. One for a touchdown and one for 50 yards down the sideline. On both occasions the St. Louis Rams had their space linebacker, Alec Ogletree, in position to make a play on him. On both occasions, Ogletree completely missed him.

Andrew Healy: And Seattle gets a touchdown on the ensuing possession. Nice throw by Wilson and reception by Cooper Helfet (third career reception) to get down in bounds. Yes, it didn’t matter that the Rams got a 36-yard gain in field position from that decision to punt. Having the ball would have been slightly more helpful. Fisher gets just returns for cowardice.

Vince Verhei: Who needs Percy Harvin when you can throw to third-string tight end Cooper Helfet for a potential game-tying touchdown? Two-point conversion falls incomplete, but Seahawks now down just 21-19. Rams have two drives in the second half, both ending punts, gaining a combined 34 yards in the process.

Andrew Healy: Brian Schottenheimer has finally called a couple of plays asking Austin Davis to go a little longer than ten yards. He makes a good decision on third-and-6 and throws it to Chris Givens operating out of the slot. It goes for 30 yards. This is the same route that Dallas ran a couple of times to Dez Bryant in the second quarter against Seattle last week. Right slot, quick inside move, and then kind of a deep dig. Bryant got huge separation twice and you could have wondered why Dallas didn't line Dez up in the slot more. This play gives the Seahawks trouble.

Vince Verhei: Well, so much for the Rams' offensive impotence. They got more big plays in the passing game on that drive than they had all game, with Austin Davis hitting Lance Kendricks for a 28-19 lead that sure feels insurmountable. For whatever it's worth, I don't think Richard Sherman has been targeted today.

Aaron Schatz: Man, if you were waiting for a game where the Seahawks defense didn't play well and Russell Wilson finally had to really take over and win this thing for them... this might be the game. Just marched the team upfield easily to make it 28-26. The Rams are finally getting their pressure this week but when the pressure doesn't make it to Wilson, boy, it is not pretty. Some pretty big holes in zone going on here.

Vince Verhei: Seahawks' last three drives have gone 82, 91, and 80 yards, all ending tin touchdowns, the last to Doug Baldwin. Rams' pass rush has evaporated. Rams up 28-26 with three minutes and change to go.

Andrew Healy: Should you be playing zone so much against Seattle now? Those receivers don't create much separation. The last time they played man that drive, Wilson had nowhere to go. They play zone and an easy throw to Kearse inside the ten, then the touchdown to Baldwin. Now a very indecisive return from Tavon Austin. I don't have a lot of faith in Fisher/Schottenheimer to be aggressive here, either, even with Davis's success his last drive. Would love to be proven wrong.

Cian Fahey: The problem with playing man is Wilson will get even more space to run into. Also, the Rams defensive backs aren't really reliable in man. That's not to say they're reliable in zone either but you get my drift.

Vince Verhei: Rams have a third-and-3, Seahawks are out of timeouts, a first down effectively ends the game. What do you call? If you're answer is "throw to Tavon Austin against Richard Sherman in one-on-one coverage," you might be Brian Schottenheimer!

And on the next play, Rams go with a fake punt and get an easy first down. Now that's a ballsy-ass call right there. Seahawks' special teams just killed them today.

Scott Kacsmar: I guess Jeff Fisher was saving the big balls for the ending. That is really ballsy given the two-point lead. I mean, that's ballsier than Belichick's decision in Indy in 2009.

Andrew Healy: Totally predictable run for -2 yards on first down. They have to throw on second down, right? Risky but good shovel pass by Davis to Jared Cook sets up the crucial third-and-3. Have to throw here. Sherman with the play to force the punt.

Good point, Cian, on the man vs. zone for Seattle with Wilson running, although I think the 52-yard run may have been against zone.

And now I have to say sorry to Jeff Fisher. Love, love, love the fake punt call. I take everything else back. Wow!

Aaron Schatz: David Strategy, baby.

And I was going to say something about the play before, too. You know, if you don't run your guy more than five yards past the line of scrimmage, Richard Sherman can be as physical as he damn well pleases.

Vince Verhei: What a crazy ending in St. Louis. Rams have a third-and-1, Seattle out of timeouts. Tre Mason runs off tackle and gets through the line and if he falls down, it's game over. Instead he keeps on trucking downfield, and the Seahawks catch up to him and force a fumble. Cory Harkey falls on it, but the ball bounces away, and the Seahawks appear to get the ball in the pile. However, the referees rule that Harkey had possession and was down by contact. On replay, it's not at all clear that Harkey ever had possession, but the Seahawks can't challenge for a variety of reasons, and the Rams run a hurry-up kneeldown to put an end to things before the referees consider reviewing it themselves.

Aaron Schatz: Drives me nuts when the officials won't review things in the final two minutes. DRIVES ME NUTS.

Vince Verhei: So, if I'm using Pro Football Reference correctly, Russell Wilson just became the first player in league history to go 300 yards passing and 100 yards rushing in a single game. So I think we can stop worrying about him for a while.

So instead, let's worry about the defense, specifically the cornerback who is not Richard Sherman. Marcus Burley and Tharold Simon were both picked on today. Seattle really needs Byron Maxwell for next week against Carolina.

Oh, and somebody in Seattle needs to figure out how to cover tight ends.

Andrew Healy: Yes, Wilson was not the problem today. He looked very good in the second half. And the offense was impressive those last few drives even though the Rams made it easier than it had to be, too.

I thought Burley (who got toasted on that 30-yard throw to Givens on the last drive) didn’t look great, too. But the Seahawks did give up just one completion of more than 10 yards until that last drive, and that one went for 14. For the day, the Rams had 5.6 yards per play. Not great, but not terrible either.

Interesting day statswise for Austin Davis, too. Before getting 66 yards on the last drive and 30 yards on that one throw, Davis was 16/18 for 86 yards (4.8 Y/A). Even with that last drive, Davis threw for the fewest yards (152) for a QB who completed over 85% of his passes on 20+ attempts.

Davis’s day reminded me of this Brett Favre game in 2009 where he was 23-27 and had a long completion of 13 yards.

Cian Fahey: It appears that Earl Thomas has said that the referees are out to get Seattle. Between comments like that, the Harvin trade and the consistent lack of discipline in different areas on the field, it's very easy to suggest that the Seahawks have bought into their own hype this season.

Cleveland Browns 6 at Jacksonville Jaguars 24

Aaron Schatz: Well, Blake Bortles just did something stupid. Third-and-5 on the Cleveland 15-yard line, Bortles could have easily run for the first down. Instead he tried to force the ball to a receiver and made a terrible inaccurate pass a couple feet to the right of his receiver -- and right into the hands of Buster Skrine. Oh, Blake. You are such a rookie.

Andrew Healy: That pick was pretty unusual. Bortles stepped up and Skrine was 6-7 yards away from him in total distance when he made the pick. Impossible to miss him visually so it's even stranger that he threw the pass.

Cian Fahey: It needed to go back shoulder, Bortles doesn't have that kind of accuracy though.

Aaron Schatz: He especially doesn't have that kind of accuracy when he's essentially "playing fast" and sort of in mid-panic. "Oh, no, I better get a first down here" kind of panic.

Rivers McCown: That panic will get instilled in someone playing behind the Jaguars offensive line.

Aaron Schatz: The Browns went for it on fourth-and-5 at midfield. That's a surprise. We spend so much time arguing for teams to stop punting on fourth-and-1, fourth-and-2. This was fourth-and-5. I'm sure the math said to go for it. I'm personally not so sure. But I know the math doesn't say "hey, how about an option run on fourth-and-5."

Cincinnati Bengals 0 at Indianapolis Colts 27

Andrew Healy: Andrew Luck takes off late first quarter, big collision with Vontaze Burfict. Andrew Luck just fine, Burfict not so much.

Scott Kacsmar: I'm all for Luck scrambles, but that was a really bad decision by him. He had Trent Richardson wide open for a touchdown and never pulled the trigger. Took a big hit instead.

Rob Weintraub: Bengals red zone defense keeping them in this one so far, despite zero first quarter first downs. Carlos Dunlap forced a fumble, as is his wont, and then the Bengals forced a chip shot field goal in tight, though Leon Hall flat dropped what would have been a sure pick-six.

Vontaze goes out yet again with a concussion-possible one, anyway. All three starting linebackers now out for Cincy. Offense 19 yards on 12 plays so far. Rout coming.

Rivers McCown: Obviously this is cluster luck and now that I mentioned it, things will probably improve, but Andy Dalton and the Cincy pass offense look abysmal so far.

Rob Weintraub: Tends to happen when the three best pass catchers on the team are out. Sanu has two drops but in general no one is open.

Kevin Zeitler is back at guard for the Bengals, but the line is getting overrun. Always an unblocked man on runs, and Dalton is running for his life. Strange as it is to say, Dalton has been excellent merely at preventing disaster so far. But five straight three-and-outs, defense banged up and on fumes.

Aaron Schatz: The other problem for the Bengals is that they can't tackle at all today. They are not only down three pass catchers, but also all three starting linebackers now that Burfict is out.

Rob Weintraub: Even Trent Richardson looks good right now. Two years ago he got rocked by Maualuga and wasn't the same after that. Payback time now, I guess.

Though literally as I write this he fumbles (unhit) and the Bengals get it.

Scott Kacsmar: Fumbles by Bradshaw and now Richardson are about the only things keeping Cincinnati in this one. Colts keep dialing up pressure on third down with success. Pressuring Dalton was a real problem last year in 42-28 loss.

Vontae Davis just delivered one of the best hits of the year on Gio Bernard. That play never had a chance. Bernard's hurting now.

Rob Weintraub: Gio Bernard totally decleated and now he's hurt. There is no downfield presence at all, and the Colts are just all over short passes. If Bengals can't run either, that's a problem. Just hoping no one else gets hurt.

Aaron Schatz: Richardson has been much better as a receiver than as a runner since he got to Indianapolis, and that's where he's made his best plays today. He breaks more tackles as a receiver, and as a receiver it doesn't matter that he's slow to hit the hole and his vision in traffic sucks.

Rob Weintraub: Incredibly, Gio comes back after only missing one play, and gets racked again. This is like nine against thirteen -- no sustained blocking at all, can't run to slow down the Colts flow to the ball, and no one to throw deep to. Six straight three-and-outs.

Yes Greg Little is on the Bengals now. And we know that because he just dropped the first pass thrown his way, which also would have been the first first down for Cincy.

Scott Kacsmar: Andy Dalton's success rate this half is 0/18. That's just incredible. Greg Little should have caught a third-down pass to give him his first successful dropback of the day, but we know Little drops passes.

Believe it or not, I still see the Bengals coming back in this one and making Indy win it late. Too many missed opportunities by the Colts with the fumbles and all the pressure on Luck. Defense has done just enough to keep this manageable despite nothing but three-and-out drives from the offense.

Rob Weintraub: The Bengals get a first down! (Thanks to Erik Walden contacting an official, and he was ejected).

Cincy's defense, despite playing bottom of the depth chart linebackers, is playing well. If Leon Hall (also hurt) doesn't drop that pick-six, incredibly this game could be tied.

Rivers McCown: It's incredible that the Bengals are only down 10 points at half-time. Indy has played really well on offense but between fumbles, a few Andrew Luck sacks, and a red zone field goal, they haven't made much of it.

Rob Weintraub: Worst offensive half of football in the Dalton era mercifully ends. And I maintain very little of it was on Andy. Offensive line getting overrun on virtually every play -- Andre Smith whipped on a twist to allow the sack that ends the half -- and Dalton has turned a few disasters into incompletes or short gains by getting rid of the ball desperately. Luck has been pummeled a bit too, which is the only reason this is not in Green Bay-Carolina territory.

Bernard drops an easy screen pass highlighting yet another three-and-out to start the second half.

Colts get a circus catch from Fleener to convert third and long, then a circus catch by Allen on third and short, who runs it in for the touchdown that ends the competitive nature of the game. Here's where the score turns into one of those college games when a power is held close by a FBS team for a while, then it turns into a 45-10 final.

Scott Kacsmar: Even on third-and-2 the Colts aren't afraid to rush six against the Bengals, and once again it worked to force an incompletion. Man, looking at Carolina and Cincinnati last week versus those teams today is pretty wild. Packers and Colts are good at home, but this is pretty inexcusable.

Rob Weintraub: Not a day for the Gio Bernard highlight reel. On second and four, he gets the corner but can't get upfield to the chains and is held to two. Cincy eschews any thought of running on third and 2, Colts big blitz, mostly picked up but Gio, instead of hit and releasing to provide a checkdown option turns back to the line and looks for someone to block. Nowhere for Dalton to throw, yet another punt. Team looks like they didn't practice all week.

Aaron Schatz: Kevin Huber just tied the Bengals' record for punts in a game. This is not a record you really want.

Rob Weintraub: Cincy "drive" -- Sanu throwback pass covered so instead of throwing it away he takes five yard "sack". Incomplete to blanketed Sanu. False start. The on 3rd and 20 Smith just tossed aside by Werner for an easy sack. Utterly mystifying that this offensive line is playing so badly. This is like 2008, when I called the Bengals offensive line the worst unit in the NFL in FO Almanac.

Scott Kacsmar: Ahmad Bradshaw continues to make me look bad in fantasy football. I keep saying his value will go down since he's going to stop scoring receiving touchdowns. He just scored his sixth in seven games this year. Again, this guy had three receiving touchdowns in his first 87 games.

Minnesota Vikings 16 at Buffalo Bills 17

Andrew Healy: The Bills blow an infuriatingly easy strategic decision. With 50 seconds and two timeouts, the Bills let the clock run with Minnesota having it fourth-and-2 on the 37-yard line. Rather than getting Minnesota to punt on a timeout or at least getting the ball with 45 seconds left after a potential missed field goal, the clock rolls to under twenty seconds left. Minnesota gets a field goal attempt with much less downside. My guess is a timeout gets them to punt. Anyway, looking for a few good men to get these decisions right.

Chris Hogan gets a great catch to the Vikings’ two. They spike it with five seconds left. Would have liked the Vikings not to call timeout there.

And they get the winner to Watkins. Good throw by Orton after missing him earlier in the drive. Bills win 17-16.

Miami Dolphins 27 at Chicago Bears 14

Cian Fahey: Early in the second quarter of the Dolphins-Bears game, the Dolphins haven't had a pass dropped. Not coincidentally, no passes have been thrown to Mike Wallace or Brian Hartline. Charles Clay is actually being featured and he's made three important plays.

Unsurprisingly, Tannehill's first incompletion of the game comes on a pass intended for Mike Wallace. Missed him on an out route.

Jay Cutler will presumably take all of the blame for the Chicago Bears offensive struggles, but the unit as a whole has been continually unreliable this year. Just before the fourth quarter fumble, Marshall had caught a first down pass over the middle of the field. The play was negated because Marshall had to interfere with Cortland Finnegan to create separation.

Yes, Brandon Marshall against Cortland Finnegan.

Mike Kurtz: I have never seen a team so devoted to shotgun as the Dolphins today. Third-and-1? Shotgun. Fourth-and-inches? Shotgun. So much shotgun. It's worked, even in power situations, because the Bears' defensive line can defend EITHER the run OR the pass on any given play, but not both. Paired with really questionable decisions (like the delay of game-punt from midfield sequence to end the first half), it is the strangest and most comical performance in a (most likely) dominating win that I've seen.

Mike Kurtz: Miami, at the Bears' 4-yard line with roughly 2:20 left, kicks a field goal to go up 27-14, which is essentially meaningless. This game is completely baffling.

New Orleans Saints 23 at Detroit Lions 24

Andrew Healy: Drew Brees runs for 13 on fourth-and-10 from the New Orleans 20-yard line, with about 1:20 left. Looks like the Lions defensive back could have made a play that might have stopped him short, but hesitated with the thought of getting flagged on a slide. Brees took advantage and dove ahead for the first. The Lions get the stop on the next set of downs, though, and hold on to win 24-23.

Just went back and watched the interception that set up the Lions' touchdown to put them ahead. Caused by a nice rush from George Johnson, beating Terron Armstead to the outside. Another Scarlet Knight making his mark. It only seems like they all play for the Patriots (who have 4 of the 16 Rutgers players in the NFL).

Carolina Panthers 17 at Green Bay Packers 38

Scott Kacsmar: Packers up 21-0 on Carolina in the first quarter. Can we take back every nice thing written about Carolina's front seven this offseason (and for that matter, the Rams too)?

Aaron Schatz: We keep looking for reasons not to believe that defense is much more inconsistent than offense, but golly, defense sure is much more inconsistent than offense.

Rob Weintraub: You could see Carolina getting routed this week, after that intensely physical overtime game vs Cincy and now going on the road again.

Kansas City Chiefs 23 at San Diego Chargers 20

Vince Verhei: Chiefs get a touchdown to go up 20-14 on one of the more entertaining drives of the year. They're using tons of package-play concepts, with heavy doses of read options and screen passes. And ordinarily I hate bubble screens, but when Alex Smith is only throwing the ball when Kansas City actually has the numbers advantage outside, they're a lot of fun to watch. Smith is smart and mobile, and he makes a hell of a point guard. Anthony Sherman finishes the drive with an 11-yard touchdown on another screen pass.

Tom Gower: San Diego is playing with a couple backup defenders this game, including cornerback Richard Marshall with Jason Verrett inactive and Brandon Flowers out with a concussion. He had a hold on that Chiefs touchdown drive to go up 20-14 Vince described on a third down stop that would have forced a field goal attempt. Poor Chargers tackling was another feature of that drive, which also included A.J. Jenkins accidentally stepping out of bounds maybe 20 yards downfield on a bubble screen. It should have been a touchdown but before that San Diego probably thought they had him for a loss on third-and-11. Third down conversions, by penalty and otherwise, were also a feature of Kansas City's late first half drive.

About the only thing that would make this a more typical Chiefs game is if Andy Reid lost a spot challenge, which hey, he did while I was writing this email.

Scott Kacsmar: I thought Reid had a legit beef on the Floyd catch, but is it worth challenging when it's so hard to win a spot challenge and it would have been fourth-and-inches even if he did?

Andrew Healy: Andy Reid is a good coach, with smart design helping manufacture the touchdown drive that put them ahead 20-14. But he really ought to go for two on that touchdown.

Alex Smith has been really good as KC drives for the win at 20-20. Good run on first down with 15 tacked on for a face mask. Then a scramble left and a careful throw to the deep middle away from the coverage coming to Dwayne Bowe. Then two more good and safe throws get the Chiefs down to the San Diego 30-yard line. Maybe not a great throw on second-and-2 from the 30-yard line. Still, solid and smart play from Smith sets up Cairo Santos from 48-yard line (current best NFL name). Not the most confidence-inspiring kick, but it's good and puts the Chiefs up three with 0:21 left.

Scott Kacsmar: Shame on Mike McCoy for wasting a timeout in a tied game to ice the kicker when his team would need every second it could get after the kick was good. That's dumb coaching.

Tom Gower: Other point from this game: San Diego's offensive line really struggled at times to both protect Philip Rivers and open up holes for Branden Oliver. They did have some inconsistent work on the ground, but not as much as they needed. D.J. Fluker seemed to have some issues at times, particularly with Justin Houston, and I bet that whole "fourth center" bit would show up as a contributing factor if I reviewed the end zone cam.

New York Giants 21 at Dallas Cowboys 31

Aaron Schatz: I see the Giants have discovered the tight end seam against the Dallas Cover-2. They just followed up a pick of Romo with a 27-yard seam touchdown to Daniel Fells; they also had a nice 16-yard gain earlier by Larry Donnell.

Vince Verhei: Giants go ahead against Dallas with a touchdown that was ... fluky is probably too strong, but it sure was weird. First, Dallas turns the ball over when Dez Bryant falls down and Prince Amukamara gets an easy interception. Then, Eli Manning hits Daniel Fells, and it almost looks like the Cowboys are playing two-hand touch as they all watch him run into the end zone.

Scott Kacsmar: The Dallas defense is like an ugly girl who finds a lot of dark spots in a poorly lit bar. When they're exposed, they look as bad as we predicted all offseason, but they've been able to avoid sustained failure most of this season.

Andrew Healy: Earlier, a pretty confusing Giants play design that had Odell Beckham and another Giants receivers looking like they ran hooks in between the hashes and then Peyton Hillis released to the middle, so three receivers all in the short middle. Larry Donnell going undrafted is pretty weird. Guessing his 4.91 40-time was a big part of the reason.

Third-and-5 on the New York 44-yard line with about 12 minutes left and Dallas up 21-14: Romo throws a four-yard pass to Bryant with little potential for YAC. If you're going to go for it, it could make sense, but out comes the punt team.

Andrew Healy: Donnell has been really good, but gives up a crucial fumble on Barry Church's great strip. Dallas gets down to the goal line on another throw to Bryant, who's over 100 yards in the second half. Murray up the middle the next play. 28-14 Dallas.

Cian Fahey: Not specifically related to this game, but I found it interesting looking at DeMarco Murray's case as a free agent after this season if things continue like this. His offensive line, his number of carries and his questionable durability will all be held against him, but biggest, less discussed issue? His age.

Murray is about to turn 27. He probably doesn't have three quality years left in him after this season.

Andrew Healy: I'd give more of the credit to Romo, but a big second half for Dez Bryant. Six targets, six catches for 126 yards, including the skinny post for 13 just before the two-minute warning to seal it. Small window for Romo on that throw.

The Dallas offensive line was really good on that drive, just as they were against Seattle on that last drive. This week, they've done it without Doug Free at right tackle. An amazing opening to the season for the line and Murray. 100 yards in all seven games for the first time ever. But they're putting a ton of miles on a back with an injury history. 187 carries already. On pace for 427, which would break the single-season record (Larry Johnson had 416 in 2006).

Scott Kacsmar: Murray can't sustain that pace, so it's going to be very important to start working in more of Randle and Dunbar. This means no more stealing underwear and cologne.

Rivers McCown: Question: if Murray is a free agent after the season, what incentive does Dallas have to NOT run him into the ground? It's not like they can really afford to keep him around anyway. They're in perpetual cap hell.

Like, yeah, it's obvious regression is coming sooner or later. But does Dallas really need to worry about next year? Do they have an incentive to keep him healthy for his own good?

Andrew Healy: Those last three carries would have been a good place to start. The game is pretty much in hand and rather than letting Murray get those three carries for one yard, why not let someone else do it? Garrett should be looking for those opportunities, even when the game is just mostly over and not completely over.

Great point on Dallas’s incentives, but even a small incentive for this year’s performance could get Dallas to play Randle/Dunbar. And every carry avoided is one less chance for an injury. Dallas is blocking well enough to run with Ranbar or Dundle, too. Together, they’re averaging about 5 YPC on 25 carries.

San Francisco 49ers 17 at Denver Broncos 42

Aaron Schatz: The poor 49ers have suffered from some very badly timed drops tonight. They should have gone for it on fourth-and-goal after the Anquan Boldin drop instead of kicking a field goal to make it 14-3. Field goals aren't going to do it against Peyton Manning, certainly not the way the Broncos are looking tonight.

Rivers McCown: Especially, as Bill Barnwell noted on Twitter, considering that John Fox could possibly be baited into being conservative inside his own 5-yard line.

Vince Verhei: Manning's Hall of Fame induction should just be all his receivers playing keep away for an hour.

Scott Kacsmar: Then Marvin Harrison quietly takes the ball and heads out to the parking lot, never to be seen again.

And should the 49ers do a surprise onside kick to start the third quarter?

Aaron Schatz: This is where we stick in the notice reminding readers not to have the irrational Brady-Manning "best QB of all-time" argument that I'm currently stuck having with my followers on Twitter. Either that, or we create another Irrational Brady-Manning Thread. The Irrational Brady-Manning-Marino-Unitas-Montana Thread, I guess.

Cian Fahey: Do we have the ability to burn things to the ground? If so, I nominate that thread.

Aaron Schatz: Back to this game... Isn't the 49ers defense supposed to be good? They're getting killed 35-10. With no Aldon Smith to rush the passer, the secondary seems to get hung out to dry, and with no Patrick Willis or NaVorro Bowman, it's easier to run on them and to throw underneath.

Rivers McCown: I'm not really surprised by the result. The Broncos passing game against those cornerbacks was always going to be an uphill battle for San Francisco.

Tom Gower: Chris Cook's out. Jimmie Ward was inactive. Tramaine Brock started off playing because he had to. It's a banged-up defense against one of the best offenses in the league. Denver was going to score points tonight unless they tried to be like the Giants and try to run the ball well past when it made any sense to do so.

The disappointment has been how the 49ers receivers have handled Colin Kaepernick's passes, fastballs though they may be, and Kaepernick's play the second half (granted, there's still plenty of time left in the half, but it's now 35-10 instead of 21-10).

Aaron Schatz: I guess I'm surprised less by the result and more by the size or speed of the result (35-10 after just 35 minutes).

Mike Kurtz: Brock Osweiler is in, and with his entrance my dreams of a record DVOA night die.

Scott Kacsmar: Going to watch The Walking Dead and see how many 49ers I can spot out in the herd. They should have turned by now. This one's been dead for a while.

Posted by: Andrew Potter on 20 Oct 2014

157 comments, Last at 23 Oct 2014, 11:09am by Pat

Comments

1
by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 9:50am

I cannot remember seeing a "quality" team - even one as hurt as the Niners - get carved up that easily in what should have been a big game for them. That was Thursday night-level domination - not that I'm complaining, since Hillman won my fantasy game for me this week.

I'll be interested to see what DVOA says about it.

18
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:00am

I could not give a monkeys what DVOA has to say about that game. Why are the niners still supposed to be a "quality" team when they're without so many of their quality players?

They've been gutting it out for most of the season but very few teams would be playing well with their level of injuries. Then take a trip to Denver on a short week where they routinely carve up inferior teams. Right now the niners are not a good team. They have to hope they will be better when they get their guys back.

Last night, in the second half, the niners were defending Peyton Manning in 11 personnel out of our base D because they only had two healthy corners, some way short of ideal.

21
by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:07am

Hence the quotes on "quality" - I probably should have made my sarcasm more clear. The Broncos are very good, but the Niners are not anywhere close to the level of the team that went to the SB, even though the media still presents them as such because they don't take injuries seriously.

Edit: It still felt like the Niners laid down and died in the 3rd quarter, though, something I've not seen from that team at any time in the past with Harbaugh as coach. Maybe the window is closing on them?

54
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:07pm

They did deflate in the second half but I really don't think it would have made any difference.

I don't really see this as a 'window' issue, the niners could put a much more talented team on the field in two games time, adding Willis, Smith, Culliver, Dorsey, Iupati and Jimmy Ward plus improved health from the walking wounded (Davis, Davis, Brock and others).

They are more like the 24 1/2ers right now.

20
by BJR :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:06am

Remember also that this was the Niners second road game in 6 days having played in St Louis on Monday night. They were just in a really bad spot this week, with a ton of injuries, including some of their best players, and reduced time, on the road, to prepare for probably the best team in the league.

Even Jim Harbaugh seemed less animated than usual last night, I guess knowing his team stood little chance.

60
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:36pm

Really their missing players are nuts. Top 3 LBs, 5 out of 6 DBs on the injury list, now 3/5ths of their staring o-line, with a fourth, A-Davis, playing hurt because he has to...criminy.

61
by ChrisS :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:41pm

They are still a quality team, unfortunately the quality they have is 'bad'

2
by armchair journe... :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 9:53am

The wife, who only occassionally looks up from the paper to see whats happening in the game (and half-thinking Reggie was still a Saint) is confused by the Bush pass interference call on Bush.. A quick backstory is provided.

"Oh, well of course..Smart business move. They didn't have to print any new jerseys when they signed the new guy."

//AJMQB

3
by oaktoon :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 9:59am

We can't resist that GOAT conversation. I would make two suggestions to perhaps ease the collective pain of trying to parse it. Divide it into eras--- 1) Pre-Merger; 2) 1970-1997 (conveniently as Elway is bowing out, Montana is done, and Marino is on fumes/and Manning is about to begin) or at whatever point the 3-5 receiver sets and spread offenses start to predominate. Maybe it's 2003-- I don't know) 3) 1998- present.

And second, do what Bill James did in the Historical Baseball Abstract-- divide the discussion into career and peak performance... Manning would seem to best Brady (and everyone else) in the former, but wouldn't Montana and Brady be above him for their peaks? Peak would be described not as a single season but some single-digit series of seasons. Rodgers could be very close to top in latter though it is doubtful he'll ever top Manning (or Favre, for that matter) on a career basis.

4
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:08am

1978 is a better dividing line; passing was just completely different when dbs could mug receivers all over the field, d-linemen could use the head slap (good grief, if Reggie White had been allowed to slug offensive tackles, the concussion settlement would have been 25% larger), and offensive linemen had less leeway with regard to holding.

19
by RickD :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:04am

1978 was also the first 16-game season.

And in 1979, Dan Fouts and the Chargers started the modern pass-heavy era.

24
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:16am

I'd say the rule changes started the era, and Air Coryell was simply the logical result for Sid Gillman's offense, once receivers were given more freedom of movement, and pass protection became easier.

39
by Todd S. :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 12:18pm

On your second point, only if that single-digit number is "one." Common misconception, and while this has been hashed out repeatedly on the thread-that-shall-not-be-named, there is no advanced statistical case for...uh...THEY'RE BOTH GREAT!

I added in Rodgers rushing DYAR, but no Manning or Brady rushing is included.

Brady:

Year DYAR Cumulative
2007 2,674 2,674
2012 2,035 4,709
2009 2,020 6,729
2011 1,997 8,726
2010 1,918 10,644
2005 1,405 12,049
2004 1,345 13,394

Manning:

Year DYAR Cumulative
2013 2,475 2,475
2004 2,434 4,909
2006 2,317 7,226
2003 1,891 9,117
2000 1,888 11,005
2012 1,805 12,810
2009 1,771 14,581
2007 1,721 16,302
2005 1,636 17,938
1999 1,581 19,519
2008 1,554 21,073
2010 1,400 22,473

Rodgers:

Year DYAR Cumulative
2011 2,130 2,130
2012 1,489 3,619
2010 1,386 5,005
2009 1,242 6,247
2008 773 7,020
2013 763 7,783

63
by oaktoon :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:46pm

Well I don't buy DYAR as the be-all and end-all of metrics, but that's a different story. But Manning and Brady have had extraordinary peaks as well as career value-- one cannot deny that. It does seem to me that, irrespective of any assessment of Baugh/Graham/all other pre-Lombardi/Rozelle QBs, there are 8 sure things for a Top 10-- and then a bunch of question marks.

Unitas and Starr.

Montana, Marino and Elway.

Favre

Manning and Brady.

Divided by rough "eras"-- in that the first two played mainly in the 1960s, the next three all became great in the 80s and carried over into the 90s, Favre became great in the 90s and carried over into the aughts, and the last two have been at their best in the New Milennium.

So the candidates for those next two spots would seem to be (again drawing a line at about 1960): Old School: Staubach. Yes, over Bradshaw and a bunch of others, despite the 4 SB wins for the Steeler. Staubach won 2; 70s and 80s: Fouts-- but never played in a SB; (Am I selling Tarkenton short?) 80s-90s: Steve Young-- rated very high on a bunch of metrics; Troy Aikman-- if you want titles to be your chief decider; and, more recently, Drew Brees (is there in terms of sheer volume) and Aaron Rodgers.

For now, I'd probably pick Staubach and Young given career value... But in 5 years almost certainly Rodgers, barring injury. And I really don't care what DYAR says-- Rodgers is playing the position, and has been for 5 years now, about as well as it is possible to play it.

74
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:25pm

Yes, you likely are selling Tarkenton short. Tarkenton did not play on a high quality roster until he was 33, past his physical prime, and until that time was very frequently on bad rosters, and just as importantly, he was not on a well coached team until he was teamed with Bud Brant, in Tarkenton's 12th year. His productivity for such an environment was unbelievable.

76
by theslothook :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:33pm

What about Manning's career tells you its short on peak? Statistically, he's had two of the top 5 greatest seasons ever by most advanced stats. Chase stuart did a breakdown of each qbs greatest seasons. Manning owned the first, was 2nd in 2nd seasons, then had the best third, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th season of any other qbs' 2nd-7th season. Finally, in qbr, Manning has been either first or second in every year except the one he missed and that doesn't include his 05 and 04 years.

79
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:46pm

Yeah, I don't get this idea that Manning's peak wasn't as good, or relative to his career as a whole.

When FO ran their Top-DYAR ever series (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/dvoa-ratings/2013/fo-10th-anniversary-b...), and they had the QB ranking for just Top-6 seasons, Brady edged out Manning by an insignificant amount.

I don't even know what Manning's peak would be. He's had two of them, really. First was 2003-2006, when he was crazy efficient but didn't throw as much (mainly because the league didn't throw as much), and now you have a second peak - only thing is this peak is from his age 36-38 seasons. Insane.

85
by coremill :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 4:01pm

Manning's career arc really most closely matches Barry Bonds, from the "son of a talented but under-appreciated athlete" narrative, to the early dominant peak marred by a lack of postseason success, to the unprecedented second late peak in which famous records were obliterated -- there's even a good analogy between Bonds' 73 hrs wiping out McGwire's record and Manning's 55 TDs knocking off Brady.

101
by Led :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 6:12pm

Big forehead. Just saying.

117
by beargoggles :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 3:01am

"Evil Manning" indeed. Hilarious.

104
by David C :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 6:43pm

That article was before the 2013 season. Manning's top 6 is way ahead of Brady's now. Also, a lot of people have edged out warner and mcnair in career totals. Carson Palmer is getting close.

108
by oaktoon :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 8:30pm

"what makes you think his career is short for peak?" Nothing.. I misstated the facts.. It happens... The only blemish on the Big Forehead is a 11-12 record in postseason play... Is that enough to place him behind Brady and Montana? I don't feel qualified to answer... It is a team game, but QB is by far the most important position on the field...

115
by theslothook :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 9:37pm

The extent of a qb is not a static concept. While a great qb can overcome many deficiencies, once you get to the playoffs - the difference between teams becomes less about the qbs and more about the teams.

Looking at Manning's record is a generalization, you have to evaluate each game individually. In that context, you realize Manning hasn't been any worse as a qb than many of his contemporaries. He's lost, hes played poorly in some, but some of included things beyond his control. Rahim moore play, the overtime loss where he never saw the ball, caldwell timeout sabotage, losing to the chargers on three skill player fumbles/int and a dropped third down conversion, missed VJ field goal, etc etc.

78
by dank067 :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:42pm

I'm guessing Rodgers's "low" DYAR totals are a result of DYAR being one of the few stats that counts sacks against the QB. He takes a little bit of a hit in career NY/A because of this as well, but if you look at ANY/A the sacks are more than cancelled out by the crazy-low number of INTs. I like all three stats and don't know that any of the three are more "right" than the others (I know Chase Stuart has written that NY/A is more predictive than ANY/A), but I'm assuming sacks are the main thing.

5
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:12am

Peyton Manning's deep ball accuracy looked suspect in the 1st game of the season. Whatever the reason, that's disappeared, obviously. With as seldom as he allows himself to get hit, if the Broncos maintain their receiver quality, 600 td passes looks like a good bet.

27
by Guido Merkens :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:43am

Manning will probably finish this season with 530-540 TD passes. You're planning on him playing another two full years after this one (his age 39 and 40 seasons) at a 30-35 TD pace? I wouldn't be shocked if he could do that, for sure, but funny things happen to players when they get that old, and they can drop off the face of the earth. Personally, I'd bet against it.

68
by Pat :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:57pm

I dunno, I think Denver's going to have a tough decision to make soon - I think Manning will probably be a viable QB probably another 4 years, although likely declining by then. If they were to keep him on for another 2 years past the end of his contract, though, 600 looks pretty easy, especially in the current NFL environment.

I think it all hinges on whether or not Manning retires at the end of this contract, and I would bet against that.

83
by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:56pm

I keep assuming that Peyton will regress to the mean, but through 6 games he's on a pace to throw 50 TD's again. His stats projected over a full 2014: 397/579 (69%) for 4928 yds with 51 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.

His rating, QBR, ANY/A and presumably YAR are all above his season averages last year. We were all thinking when he hit Denver that he wouldn't finish his Denver contract. Now he's clearly outperforming it and it's fair to discuss whether or not he would be worth signing for three or four more years.

84
by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:57pm

Oh and his yards per completion are presently his highest since 2004.

95
by RickD :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 5:50pm

Peyton Manning would only regress to the mean if his success were considered to be a result of random forces.

Even when his skills eventually deteriorate, that won't be regression to the mean.

103
by Sisyphus :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 6:42pm

Actually his physical skills are regressing somewhat but he compensates by keeping the game focused to his strengths. It helps that he functions largely as his own offensive coordinator but the real reason is probably more closely related to his focus and practice habits. He really is a remarkable athlete, most people once they reach the top tend to slack off somewhat for any of a variety of reasons but he seems to be both driven and enjoying himself.

127
by Pat :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 10:29am

I'm not sure that's really true - at least from what he's said, his arm strength is actually better than it ever has been. But really, Manning's never been a huge physical specimen. I mean, the silly comparison of Kaepernick and Manning's arms showed that pretty clearly. I think the only real 'physical skill' that Manning has is that he's durable, but even that I think is a mental skill for Manning, mostly: when things go wrong, get down, don't get injured, etc.

I'm just not sure that we've ever seen the *type* of QB that Manning is, so I don't think we have any idea when he'll start declining.

Just to illustrate that, look at the injury history for Manning compared to any other QB. It's ridiculous. You've got the 1 season lost (2011), and then only 19 other games ever on an injury report (all probable). There's just no comparison.

128
by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 10:43am

The way he threw Sunday night was very, very, impressive. He seemed to be more accurate on his deep balls than he was earlier in the year. I think it's safe to say he's squeezed more out of what physical attributes he was born with than just about any other great qb (Brady may be about the same), with the possible exception of Tarkenton, but then of course Tarkenton was unbelievably gifted with his feet and legs.

134
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 1:00pm

I was referring to random forces. I assumed after last year that while Manning was the best quarterback in football, that 55 touchdowns and 5500 yards were outlier numbers that would regress not because Manning was deteriorating but because "normal" counting results from a Peyton Manning season were more in line with his 2012 numbers: 30-40 touchdowns, 4500 yards, et cetera.

My comment was focused on how he is on track to throw for 5000 yards and 50 touchdowns two years running, which really would be unprecedented.

6
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:17am

I think Adrian Peterson is going to avoid a felony conviction, and the Vikings aren't going to be willing to pay him what his contract calls for next season. Will Peterson take a discount to play in Dallas, thus making it easier for the Cowboys to not be aggressive in offering Murray a new deal? How much bargaining power would Peterson have as a free agent next winter anyways?

7
by jergans :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:30am

Tom: What were the Titans doing on their final possession? The Titans took possession at their 35 with 5:30 left, up by 1. Penalty on the first play. On 1st and 20 they ran, picking up 2. On 2nd and 18, they ran for three yards. On 3rd & 15 they ran up the middle again, pickup up 8. They made no attempt at all to pick up the first down even though there was an eternity left in the game. What were they thinking?

13
by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:52am

I watched that game, being in Skinslandia and having it as my only choice.

I have ZERO idea what the Titans were thinking, but it's not like Colt McCoy puts the fear of God into secondaries throughout the league...

8
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:43am

The Packers defense seems to be incrementally getting better. Interesting that Sam Barrington received a shot. May be at long last that the coaching staff has wearied of Brad Jones inexplicable ability to be produce the worst outcomes whenever he is involved in a play.

Another good week for the pass rush. Nick Perry only has a bull rush but it's some kind of bull rush. Perry is staying healthy and making a difference. Others are contributing of course.

Clinton-Dix had a second straight good game. If you believe the chatter that Dom Capers can only produce a solid defense with a good/great safety if Clinton-Dix is good then maybe by years end Green Bay can play with the big kids in the NFC

17
by dank067 :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:58am

I almost can't believe this, but another defender worth pointing out: Letroy Guion has played really well the last three games. Run defense still isn't great, but it has certainly been adequate over that time frame. Better LB play—with Jones mostly on the bench—also seems to have helped. We'll see if they can keep it up..

72
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:14pm

The Packers also unveiled a new defensive dime alignment at one point - no defensive linemen on the field. Admittedly, Peppers and Neil have played DL in the pros and Perry was a DE in college (the other two front five were Matthews and Hawk).

109
by oaktoon :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 8:31pm

McCarthy even let its name slip out-- NASCAR-- i guess because the LBs all have big motors....

9
by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:46am

"I guess Jeff Fisher was saving the big balls for the ending" I thought the NFL standardized the dimensions, shape, etc. of the ball and that both teams had to use the same type. Oh, wait...

10
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:49am

The Lions were very fortunate to win that game (I guess that evens out the bizarre circumstances of the Buffalo loss). The Saints dominated for 55 minutes of the game.

The Rafael Bush P.I. on Reggie Bush, on second viewing, was actually a good call. The thing is, if Rafael hadn't interfered, I'm not sure Reggie makes that catch, which would have given the Saints the ball back.

I'm not sure what Brees was thinking on that interception, throwing off his back foot into coverage. I know he's determined to not take sack, but taking a sack when you're ahead in the waning moments of the game is second best thing that can happen for the offense on a pass play. The clock keeps running and you punt it away. Imagine what the Twitterverse would be saying if Tony Romo had made that play.

11
by Bernie :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:50am

I am oficially the worst Fantasy football manager of all time. Every week, whover I bench hs a huge game, and thereplacement player stinks. This eek I benched Pierre Garcon for Larry Fitzgerald (terrible), Ahmad Bradshaw for Lamar Miller (not too bad), and Matt Ryan for Andy Dalton.
Incredibly, I still managed to win the week, but I have no idea who to play anymore. I've juggled Garcon and Decker all year, and whichever one plays has a bad week that week, and good weeks when they're benched.

TL:DR I stink at fantasy football.

40
by Mash Wilson :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 12:31pm

Have you considered George Costanza's method?

12
by Temo :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:51am

"Romo said he received a toradol injection before the game, something that helped relieve his rib, ankle and back pain.

“It’s for everything,” Romo said, laughing. “I felt good. You’re always banged up. Everyone’s banged up at this point in the season, so you just work through it and you manage it and you go out and play.”

Romo needing a toradol injection to suit for games is alarming. Probably more alarming is that he laughs it off so easily. That's a powerful pain relieving drug, and he's laughing it off and implying that he's used it before and it's no big deal.

The things NFL players do to suit up every week is astounding.

14
by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:53am

Have you read Nate Jackson's book? While a little uneven, in that regard it was pretty eye-opening.

16
by Temo :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:57am

I have read it, just another reminder that most of the players I watch on Sunday are on some sort of performance-enhancing drug, even the NFL chooses not to call certain drugs that.

31
by Guido Merkens :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:47am

Another great read is "You're OK, It's Just a Bruise," by Robert Huizenga, who was the Raiders' team doctor from 1983-92. Players would get injections to be able to play with serious injuries (often getting further injured), and doctors were pressured to minimize the scope of players' injuries when talking with the players themselves so as to encourage them to play (hence the title).

http://www.amazon.com/Youre-Its-Just-Bruise-Outrageous/dp/0312136277

22
by RickD :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:11am

In North Dallas Forty, they just called it "the Needle". Don't know if exactly the same painkillers were used back then (the movie is from the late 1970s), but liberal usage of painkillers has been around for a long time.

Given a choice between taking a shot and getting benched, they'll pretty much all take the painkiller.

23
by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:15am

Amphetamines were a big deal in both baseball and football in the '70s, too.

26
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:22am

DMSO, or dimethyl sulfoxide, was used a lot too, despite it being a chemical associated with pretty significant risk of serious side effects.

28
by Temo :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:44am

Toradol is a relatively new painkiller, and a favorite now in locker rooms. It's also hugely controversial in the medical field; it's banned in some countries and in the UK it's an injection you can only get in a hospital. There's been noise that it should be banned from athletics due to its potential for rampant abuse and not inconsiderable side effects.

15
by Steve in WI :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:56am

"Miami, at the Bears' 4-yard line with roughly 2:20 left, kicks a field goal to go up 27-14, which is essentially meaningless. This game is completely baffling."

Before the field goal, they had a 10-point lead meaning the Bears would have needed to score a touchdown and a field goal in the final two minutes to tie the game. With the field goal, the Bears would have needed to score two touchdowns in the final two minutes to take the lead/win the game. What's baffling about the decision to kick?

Now, the way the offense played yesterday, Miami probably could have walked off the field with 2:20 left and the Bears still would have lost, but in general, a 13-point lead with 2 minutes to go is better than a 10-point lead, right?

32
by johonny :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:48am

I figured you went for the touchdown there. If you make it the game is essentially over, if you miss the Bears have 90+ yards to go and 2 mins to make 2 scores. As it was the Bears go a great kick off return and Philbin's coaching decisions seemed iffy. His worst was stopping the clock when going for it on 4th in 1 to have replay check the ball spot. Do these replays of the ball spots ever work? I saw one in the Dallas game too and it was not surprisingly unsuccessful. Was it really worth it to kill momentum by marching your team off the field on 4th and 1 to delay for a few minutes... it worked out as Tannehill made a great run on 4th and 1 so the replay-game stop didn't matter. Tannehill looked good today. The Bears seemed like a good match up against as Miami has trouble against good receiving backs but the Bears seemed bent on tossing the ball to their tall receivers on basically up for grabs passes over and over. When they gave Forte as chance their offense moved. Odd game in that it felt like Miami should have won by much more.

33
by Guido Merkens :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:51am

I think that the logic behind the criticism is as follows: if you kick the field goal, the Bears need 2 TDs to win and will probably start at their 25-30 yard line (with the potential for a big play on the return). If you go for it, either you score a TD and clinch the win, or you leave the Bears inside their own 5, a field position difference of 20-25 yards. The field position difference alone is roughly equivalent to the difference between a FG and TD drive for the Bears anyway (assuming it's roughly as easy to drive for a TD from your own 30 as it is to drive for a FG from your own 5).

38
by Kurt :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 12:06pm

I wouldn't make that last assumption at all.

I can believe that kicking the FG is slightly less optimal than going for the TD; but I don't think the FG is a bewildering, inexplicable decision either.

41
by jedmarshall :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 12:32pm

I agree that it probably doesn't matter either way, but factoring in the other team's intentions swings it to go for it too.

Granted in this specific case it's a longshot, but assuming the Bears score a TD on their next posession and get the ball back.

[Go for it] Bears trail by 3 and are likely to settle for a FG to go to overtime where Miami may still win.

[Field Goal] Bears are down by 6 and forced to go for a TD which will end the game in regulation.

Again in this case it's close to a moot point, but I can remember several times in the past where a team up 3 kicked a field goal on 4th and short only to have the other team score a game winning touchdown when they probably would've settled for field goal range if only down 3.

44
by Kurt :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 1:08pm

This seems like an argument that it's *better* to be leading by 3 than leading by 6 late in the game. I disagree.

46
by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 1:22pm

Depending on field position and how much time is left, I think it is better to be up 3 in terms of win probability.

56
by Kurt :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:13pm

I'm honestly curious as to what field position and time left makes it better to be up 3 than up 6. I'd think it would have to be *very* late in the game with *very* deep field position, hoping for the other team to be overly conservative.

Which is reasonable. Last year San Diego kicked a tying FG against the Redskins at the very end of the game from about two inches away, which was ridiculous.

59
by Alternator :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:34pm

Down 3, most coaches will play for the FG, which isn't automatic to begin with, and then a 50-50 chance of winning in overtime. Not great odds.

Down 6, you've got to go for the touchdown, and you're playing four-down ball to manage it. The touchdown is also for the win outright, rather than the tie, so the odds of getting the extra yardage to turn a FG into a TD and *still* come out even.

91
by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 5:35pm

Let's use Buffalo-Minnesota as an example.

Start at your own 20, 3:07 left
WP (down 3): 0.32
WP (down 6): 0.25

If you drop the time to 2:30, the WP down 3 is 0.18 and down 6 is 0.26.

98
by RickD :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 5:58pm


If you drop the time to 2:30, the WP down 3 is 0.18 and down 6 is 0.26.

That's wacky. That must be based on observed data, and not any real theory. Using game theory, I could show that the WP down 3 at any point in the game should be at least as much as the WP down 6. All one needs to do is employ a strategy-stealing argument. If you find yourself down 3, just pretend you're down six and go from there.

That the stat is what it is suggests that NFL coaches really are not employing optimal game management in late game situations.

100
by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 6:05pm

If you're down 6 you know it's four-down territory and TD or bust. If you're down 3, that fact that a FG is okay is always going to influence the decision making. You're not going to take as many risks and we see coaches time and time again start to get conservative once they get in "field goal range." And their idea of field goal range also needs a lot of work. You're also not dealing with overtime if you're down 6 unless you botch the extra point.

So yes, I don't see any reason to believe most NFL coaches are employing optimal game management in these situations.

47
by jedmarshall :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 1:23pm

Taken out of context it is. If it's 4th and 14 from the 21 by all means kick the field goal. However 4th and short inside the 10 where a first down or touchdown essentially seals the game I'd rather take my chances at conversion. The upside is game over and the downside is the other team still needing to drive ~60 yards to tie or ~90 to win.

So it's really

3 pt lead + other team needing more yards + chance of conversion >
6 pt lead and kicking off to the other team.

50
by coremill :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 1:42pm

The 49ers faced this kind of situation twice in Monday night's game against the Rams: 4th and goal from the 2, up 10 with 5:46 remaining; 4th and 1 from the 34, up 10 with 4:23 remaining. They went for it both times.

55
by Kurt :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:09pm

All that stuff is fine, and I don't disagree with it. Your last post seemed to put that other stuff aside, and say that the other team knowing they need a touchdown by itself is a negative factor. I doubt that. You know they need a touchdown too, and unless you have Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers or whoever touchdowns are not that easy to score.

69
by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:58pm

I'm almost convinced, but not quite... yet. The field position difference, with Sturgis kicking off deep all day, could be as little as 15 yards, maybe less -it's a reasonable expectation. And what are the odds on a 4th and goal from the four play? Not good, I bet. So, I don't know.

------
Who, me?

86
by Jeremy Billones :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 4:04pm

4th and goal from the 1. 2:16 remaining. 10 pt lead (According to the ESPN play by play)

Historical success rate is 55% for conversion attempt, 100% for FG. WP is 98% after a successful FG, 99% after a failed FG or any 4th down attempt (success or fail).

Move it back to the 4, and conversion drops to 34% (FG 98%). WP are unchanged.

Numbers per advancedfootballanalytics.

88
by johonny :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 4:42pm

Things was though the Bears had a great kick return because Joe Philbin just seems to be unlucky:)Then again, it wouldn't have mattered if the refs don't call holding the play before which as we know sometimes happens and sometimes don't. Or Sturgis makes either of his other kicks. Another odd play calling came on another short down when Miami rolled out Tannehill right into the arms of the Bears defender who was having a career day. The key block on the play was for the guard that just came in due to injury to take on the guy on the Bears line that was eating your linemen up. I think many coaching staffs would have rolled away from that guy or double that guy. Needless to say Tannehill never had a chance on the play. People were nitpicking Wallace but he has 5 TDs this year including a nice grab in the game.

25
by BJR :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:19am

The ejections of both Walden and Luke Kuechly in Green Bay were utter horsesh*t. On both occasions the official was to blame for needlessly and demonstratively getting physically involved with what were innocuous post-play skirmishes.

It had nothing to do with safety or fairness and everything to do with pedantry and attention-seeking by the refs.

36
by Todd S. :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:54am

Was wondering about the Walden ejection. I'm a Colts fan, so I'm not near objective, but it sure seems like I see that type of play (couple of players jostling, ref steps between, suffers very minor contact) several times a year. Usually there is not even a penalty called; was surprised they ejected him. Shouldn't you call unsportsmanlike conduct on the first incident instead of going right to ejection? It was on the edge of camera range...maybe something else happened we didn't see.

Another question for Bengals fans...does Andre Smith always look that bad? I assume the answer is now, but...wow that was a poor performance.

73
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:22pm

As a Packers fan, I think even most Packers fans thought the Kuechly ejection was ridiculous.

75
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:25pm

Agreed. Unsurprising with yesterday's crew.

140
by LionInAZ :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 5:47pm

Not necessarily. Sometimes the call is made because the player says something to trigger the flag. We see the action, but we don't always hear the offending words.

29
by Rick_and_Roll :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:45am

Denver's defense has shown dramatic improvement and isn't getting any publicity/credit (except DVOA). Their new additions, especially Ware and Talib have been great, and their players who were on IR for the SuperBowl, esp Miller and Harris have come back lights out.

Denver's running game and OL can be concerning, but they are looking like a team that may start running away from the pack.

35
by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:54am

The fake spin move Ware put on Staley was pretty awesome to watch, and it was nice to have that game on Sunday night where someone like Collinsworth could actually comment on it.

This is my second time watching Denver this year, and the D is actually looking pretty scary. If they can keep it healthy, they might well go back to the SB after losing - when was the last time that happened? 1994?

65
by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:49pm

I think some people didn't realize how much they shut down the Jets offense the week before because the Jets were coming off a pathetic performance, and were able to pressure Manning enough to keep the game close, but throttling their rushing attack like that was pretty dominant. They have been really tough to run on for the last year and a half. The rest of that division isn't easy though.

80
by MarkV :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:50pm

I agree with this entirely, but think that it really comes down to health. Denver has had fabulous health this year and it makes them look substantially better than they are, because the rest of the league has not been so lucky.

146
by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Wed, 10/22/2014 - 1:24am

To me, I think the opposite is true. Last year, they had an insane number of defensive injuries and that skewed their performance. So, people's notions of them are stilled colored by last year. This year, they're playing more like the 2012 team.

But it is true that they've had good injury luck on defense. Only Trevathon has been missed. But, also, they also replaced their weakest players with above average players, so it isn't that much of a surprise.

145
by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Wed, 10/22/2014 - 1:18am

As a Broncos fan, it's been fun to watch. The problem is that the points they've allowed haven't been in line with how well they've played.

They need a game or two allowing fewer than ten points and then people will notice them. The game against Arizona could have been like that except for a couple of Manning picks that helped Arizona score, but Arizona with Drew Stanton and Logan Thomas isn't much to get excited about even if it was very dominant. The same goes for Geno Smith.

But they have been very consistent.

30
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:45am

Nice that 'ol Rodge shows his equal and fair standards on enforcing post-TD celebration penalties

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/eye-on-football/24760525/peyton-manning-pla...

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

34
by Guido Merkens :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:52am

But this was a fun, harmless, nonthreatening TD celebration! It wasn't one of THOSE celebrations. You know the ones I mean.

37
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:59am

I'm not sure what you mean there.

*nudge nudge wink wink*

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

62
by Malene_copenhagen :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:45pm

As long as the planned group celebration is hardworking, no more than deceptively fast, gritty, and *ahem* pale, we will let it slide.

42
by Anger...rising :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 12:43pm

I always say this -- the inconsistency of the NFL only stands out because there is only one game per week for each team. In baseball, or even in basketball, we think nothing of it if a good team comes out and has one bad game and loses to a bad team, because there will be another game tomorrow. An NFL game represents a larger sample size than a baseball game -- there are about 50 percent more plays than there are at bats in an average nine-inning game -- but that only means there should be slightly less variation, not a lot less variation. Sometimes you have good days, and sometimes bad days.

Pfft. There's much less play-to-play variability in football, also. It's why the best teams win 80% of their games while the best baseball teams win 60%. It should be much more shocking when good football teams lose to bad teams.

45
by Temo :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 1:12pm

Indeed, and I think it's because of the greater impact in baseball on the outcome of any one play being decided by 2 players predominately, versus the 22 in football.

Or, put more simply, on any one play in football, the end result on average will be the amalgamation of the effort of many more people than baseball. Obviously some (like the QB) are more important than others on average, but not nearly to the effect of one hitter and one pitcher in baseball.

49
by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 1:26pm

Would the Broncos be 13-3 if Brock Osweiler had to start every fourth game? I always thought the best baseball teams were only winning 60 percent of the time because the game's most important position, pitcher, isn't a constant. If the best pitchers were physically able to start almost every game, we'd probably see 120+ win seasons.

51
by steveNC :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 1:45pm

Good idea, let's limit baseball to 1 game per week so that only one healthy starting pitcher is needed, just like a quarterback.

48
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 1:24pm

It's also not just losing but how they lost. The Browns looked totally lost against the worst team in the NFL*. If it had been like passes bouncing off receivers and returned for TDs, or special teams shenanigans, or strange flukey plays letting the Jags barely eek out a win that would be one thing. This looked like something else entirely.

58
by Duke :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:26pm

I always thought the reason good baseball teams only win 66% of their games vs. 90% for football* is sample size. Baseball teams play a lot more games so the records get pulled closer to .500. The same thing happens in basketball, too, but to a lesser extent; good teams get to about 75%, playing about half the games of baseball.

Certainly you can find 16 game stretches in baseball seasons where a team went 12-4.

*I realize these percentages aren't quite right but they're close enough for the point which is that there is a gap.

70
by Pat :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:07pm

Yeah, I think sample size is the big reason. In football you can crudely model about half of the spread in records as coming from pure statistical fluctuation, and half coming from pure skill. In baseball the spread due to statistics goes away almost entirely.

The other thing I've always wondered is that in baseball you could always choose to pull your record closer to 0.500 by sacrificing some games (by using a weaker pitcher) to boost your chances in others. That obviously happens to some degree in other sports late in the season for the playoffs, but in baseball you could do it at any time.

118
by beargoggles :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 3:13am

I can tell you that that almost never happens in baseball, games aren't tanked much and pitchers aren't moved in the rotation very much.
I think part of it is fewer "plays" in a baseball game. And I can't prove this but there's more what you would call luck. In baseball a lot of hard hit balls turn into bad results and vice versa. The equivalent certainly happens in football, but seems generally to be less of a factor.

142
by Kurt :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 9:36pm

Baseball games are "tanked" all the time.

Mariano Rivera wasan't coming into games his team was losing 6-2 in the fifth; that's when you bring in your mop-up guy to save your better relief pitchers.

Similarly, a struggling pitcher is more likely to get left in to take a beating, to soak up innings and save the bullpen, than to get yanked very early in a non-critical game.

157
by Pat :: Thu, 10/23/2014 - 11:09am

Yeah, he seemed to think I meant starting pitchers, which I doubt happens often because you don't have stretches of rest days to scramble things around.

But bullpens it definitely happens often. I just don't know how much of an effect it has in pulling records to .500. It must have *some* effect, but it might be very small.

125
by Alternator :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 9:57am

I think it's a lot simpler than that.

In baseball, if you fail at 60% of your plate appearances (so a .400 OBP) you are a fantastic player. If you fail only 50% of the time (.500 OBP) you are having a MVP-caliber season.

Meanwhile, in football, that same 60% failure rate makes you worse than Tim Tebow.

144
by Subrata Sircar :: Wed, 10/22/2014 - 12:35am

If you have a .500 OBP you are having a Hall of Fame season.

That said, there are a number of factors reducing variability in baseball:
- many more games, which amortizes the results of any one play, no matter how significant
- on any given play, two players dominate the results - the pitcher and batter
- the very best players can only add 5-10 wins over the course of a year
-- starting pitchers get ~30 starts a year in which they are doing well to go 7 innings
-- hitters get 4 plate appearances a game, on average
-- fielders can't force their own involvement on defense, and most defensive plays are routine, so really good/bad defense doesn't make as much difference
-- the defense, which cannot score, puts the ball in play

Essentially, having Babe Ruth matters a lot less than having Peyton Manning as far as his impact on your record. (And having Manning is less useful than having Michael Jordan or Lebron James, because basketball players both play both ways and can dominate games with very little cooperation from their teammates.)

Anyway, football teams have fewer checkpoints (games) over which a given play gets amortized, so a few fluke plays can turn around a season, while the individual players have less impact than you'd think. Even a QB can't do much if his teammates don't block and catch, while in baseball the batter and pitcher stand or fall largely on the matchup of their individual skills.

43
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 12:44pm

Courtesy of AcmePacking Clinton-Dix's stat line thru yesterday

35 tackles, 3 passes defended, 1 int., 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery

That is ten times the production out of safety from 2013 in less than half the season. (only minor hyperbole)

52
by TomC :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 1:57pm

Jay Cutler will presumably take all of the blame for the Chicago Bears offensive struggles, but the unit as a whole has been continually unreliable this year. Just before the fourth quarter fumble, Marshall had caught a first down pass over the middle of the field. The play was negated because Marshall had to interfere with Cortland Finnegan to create separation.

That was a terrible call (no arm extension by Marshall, he basically just stopped at the edge of the route and Finnegan kept going), and I would claim that Marshall is basically the only Bear on offense that played close to a decent game (even Forte missed a key blitz pickup that led to a sack). But "unreliable" is definitely the right word to describe that unit. When things are going good, they look unstoppable, but for stretches they look early-2010 awful. And what was with all the bubble screens yesterday. I hate that play to begin with, but against corners that like to press it really makes no sense.

53
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:01pm

I saw only bits and pieces, but it struck me it's hard to generate offense when a d-lineman is in your face within 1.5 seconds of the snap on half the downs.

And on defense the Bears looked like the Packers against the read/option. That and Tannehill looked capable yesterday. He was making good decisions even when sacked.

57
by Duke :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:17pm

I thought Forte was much better than Marshall yesterday...at least, when he got the ball, he seemed to be the only Bear doing anything.

67
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:57pm

Can someone tell me why McClellin is playing? He is basically awful at everything.

71
by theslothook :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:08pm

I always noted that whenever they are transitioning a pass rusher to some other role - its a bad bad sign.

94
by TomC :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 5:49pm

I certainly can't. I'm coming around to your "cut all three (or four) linebackers" plan---although the guys that seemed to play well against Atlanta (Sharpton, C. Jones, Greene) didn't do much yesterday either.

97
by Steve in WI :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 5:57pm

There's really no explanation for it besides Emery's unwillingness to admit that he was dead wrong when he drafted McClellin. I mean, after the way that the backups played in Atlanta, why not try them out and keep McClellin on the bench?

93
by Steve in WI :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 5:47pm

It is shocking the way the offense has regressed from the 2nd highest scoring offense in 2013, behind only the Broncos. I expected the defense to struggle and am not overly surprised that the team is 3-4; I am surprised that they have been held to 20, 17, and 14 points at home. (And the 17 and 14 were not against particularly good defenses).

It disturbs me the extent to which people want to blame everything on Cutler. For this team to underachieve so badly on offense takes more than his 10 turnovers in 7 games. To put it another way, if this offense can't score more than 14 points in a game given one Cutler interception and one Cutler fumble, they're in huge trouble. (And I'm not saying that Cutler is playing well, or that he is blameless...just that he's clearly not the only issue).

I think Trestman is either a terrible game-planner, has completely lost the locker room, or both. It's incredibly worrisome that just about everyone on offense, except for Forte, looks worse than he did last year when this team was supposed to get even better. (Oh, and Kyle Long, if you don't want the fans booing you at halftime, maybe protect your quarterback better so your team doesn't get shut out in the first half?)

64
by theslothook :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:46pm

During the sunday night game, they were showing harbaugh's crazy success over that three year period, second only to....the Pats! I get that they have no sbs to show for it, but the run from the pats has extended close to a decade and a half. This is just insane and only matched by the 49ers from the 80s and 90s(and even that shouldn't count since its a different coaching staff and different quarterback). I guess its uncomfortable to praise the pats, but its incredible what they've done.

Another stray point. In some ways, this latter half run is reminding me of the 2000 colts. They get a great qb and some pretty good weapons and they post some of the best offenses of all time. But then as time goes on, age starts to show. The weapons are less dynamic, the offensive line regresses, they start to become too injury prone. They're still great mind you, with 09 colts showing you can still get to the sb.

66
by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:56pm

I realize Jets fans do this all the time, but I think we are closing in to the end of the Pats dynasty. This upcoming schedule is the same that dropped the Jets to 1-6, except that you swap out the Raiders for the Colts and Andrew Luck (after a bye at least). I just get a 1986 Jets feeling about this Pats team, that they're doing it with mirrors and the wheels will fall off when they get off the plane in Green Bay, if not earlier.

77
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:42pm

It will be interesting to see how the Pats get discussed 25 years from now if the last title they win with Brady/Belichick is the 2004 Super Bowl.

How do you quantify what the pats were from 2001-2014 (just saying 14, easily could be 2016 for all I know) if the three Super Bowls they win were all early.

It lines up nicely with the 49ers from 1981-1994, but that niners group managed to space out their wins nicely.

When we say the 'Patriots dynasty' in 2040, what time period do we refer to?

81
by theslothook :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:51pm

Mike Tanier said it best -our perceptions of legacy change over time after we've had a few years to separate from it.

My view of the pats: Their whole dynasty is very strange. Typically, a team hits a young core of players all at once and that core grows and eventually declines together. That's how the 49ers and cowboys happened. That's how the colts did. The pats core in early part really was a veteran mix coming and playing well together. And they were a really unheralded bunch and were gone after 6 years.

I think people will always associate the dynasty with bb and brady. Once either leaves, the dynasty will officially be over. That's not necessarily how I prefer to look at it, since this team bares very little resemblance to the 2001-2004 group, but that's how people will look at it.

Finally - how will they be remembered? This is just my opinion - people don't like bb and they don't like the patriots. If they don't win another sb, spygate will be much more of a footnote than it really ought to be. And my biggest point is - their run is really remarkable but it won't be as appreciated as it could be.

On the other hand, another sb and bb and brady basically get vaulted to untouchable in the eyes of the media.

106
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 8:00pm

Typically, a team hits a young core of players all at once and that core grows and eventually declines together. That's how the 49ers and cowboys happened.

This is how the cowboys happened. That's not how the 49ers happened. There were very few holdovers (any?) between their first Super Bowl and their fifth over 13 years.

110
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 8:32pm

One of the few is the man who will never get the credit he deserves for his part in teh success of the 49ers: George Seifert.

He was the DB coach in 1981, the DC in 1984, 1988, and the head coach in '89 and '94.

113
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 8:41pm

If Roger Craig doesn't fumble at the end of the 1990 NFCCG, there's a really good chance that Seifert never gets fired by the Niners, has at least 3 Super Bowl rings, never suffers a disaster in Carolina, retires with the highest winning percentage of any NFL head coach, and gets an ugly yellow blazer a very short time later.

There is a huge amount of luck contained in reputations.

129
by coremill :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 11:29am

Seifert would have been forced out anyway. Even without winning the 1990 Super Bowl, he had won two titles and had the highest winning percentage in the history of the game at the time. DeBartolo was notoriously impatient and had fallen in love with Mariucci as his shiny new toy -- remember, Eddie D nearly fired Bill Walsh after losing the 1987 playoff game to Minnesota, and Walsh had way more social capital/standing with the organization/media/fans than Seifert ever did. I don't see how an additional championship six years previously would have changed anything.

131
by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 12:06pm

My thought was that Seifert may have retired after winning his third, or having won three, and then fired, he may have gone to a better team than an aging Panthers roster in a cap squeeze. I can't remember; was Seifert ever interviewed for the Colts job that Jim Mora Sr. was hired for? I imagine that getting his second head coaching gig with Peyton Manning as his qb, even as a rookie, would have further burnished Seifert's career.

136
by oaktoon :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 3:24pm

There's a funny story about Mariucci that year... He was coaching at CAL-- Bears got off to hot start (5-1) which obviously enticed DeBartolo and Policy--- the 7th game was home to Arizona (they of the miraculous Hail Mary to beat Cal a few weeks back-- before their home state rivals did same to SC)-- game was a shootout-- something like 38-38 in regulation... Game went to OT-- they didn't have the requirement of 2 pointer by 3rd TD back then. Cal scored, Zona scored, Zona scored, Cal scored, etc.. after third TD each, they moved to other end of field--- Cal crowd was only 2/3 full at most-- and some had left by then-- so most of crowd got up and moved down to the other end zone-- they each scored one more time-- on the 5th OT, Cal scored first (all TDs) and then when Zona scored they lined up to kick the extra point, but the coach was ready to go home, win or lose-- so they called a fake, the Cal defensive lineman stayed home, made the tackle and Cal wins.

They didn't win another game all season... Finished 6-5/barely bowl eligible/lost to Navy in the Hawaii Bowl, i believe-- so Mariucci's one season in college ball was 6-6.. But he clearly got hired in the fall before the season ended.... it was kept quiet... if Arizona doesn't go for two, and wins in the next OT, Cal ends up with a l0sing record and doesn't go to bowl.. No way the Niners hire Mooch then.

149
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 10/22/2014 - 7:51am

What do you guys think of Mooch's coaching career? I know his resume was tarnished by the Millen/Detroit years, but he had bupkis to work with, talent-wise. In fact, I thought at the time it was an accomplishment to consistently get 5-6 win seasons out of what was essentially 3-13 talent.

You could rightly argue that he rode hall of fame talent with the '97-'98 49ers, but after turning over basically the entire roster, I'm still impressed in retrospect with the 2001-2002 teams. If he wasn't fired after a year in which he cruised to a division title and won a playoff game, he could have continued his success, and we might never had been subjected to the Nolan/Singletery/early Alex Smith years. If he was still the coach in 2005, would he have insisted that they draft Aaron Rodgers to mentor under an aging Jeff Garcia?

121
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 5:38am

Having done draft analysis, the 49ers had two distinct periods of cores. It was really like two different dynasties in one franchise. Incidentally, I was referring to their 80s version.

130
by coremill :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 11:36am

I think there were really three distinct periods: the early 80s teams (81-84), the late 80s teams (85-90), and the 90s teams (91-98). And you could maybe break the 90s era in half as well, something like 91-93 and 94-98. The 1994 team had some leftovers on offense from the 1989 team (Rice, Taylor, Jones, Barton, Sapolu) but the defense had entirely turned over.

82
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:56pm

Anybody who devalues the Belichik Pats, vs the Niners of the Walsh/Seifert era, because a floating pass was pinned to David Terrell's helmet, and Welker and Brady didn't quite matchup on a pass, while Lewis Billups dropped an easy Montana int, doesn't understand the game at all. On the other hand, the Niners winning 3 championship games by very, very, large margins, and one of those championships occurring in a streak of three straight playoff stomps, certainly favors the Niners. Once the salary cap took full effect, it just wasn't possible to build rosters which were as dominant.

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by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 4:13pm

Will, I agree. I'm just saying how do we evaluate the Pats dynasty in 25 years. Personally, I think there were two distinct runs of success. First was 2001-2006, when the team was built primarily on defense. Then was 2007-present, which was defined more on Brady and the offensive scheme brilliance.

One included three Super Bowls, the other included none. Sure, if Tyree doesn't make that catch, or Welker does, they win 2 more. Alternately, if Lee Evans holds onto the ball .2 seconds longer, they don't make the Super Bowl in 2011.

By the way, a great comp is the Yankees. From 1996-2000, they win four World Series. From 2001-2012, they win one World Series, despite being in the playoffs all but one year. They were two outs away from winning in 2001, and one out from going to the World Series in 2004. But is the Yankees dynasty extending to 2009 (their 5th title), or is it a 'dynasty' and then an extended run of success.

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by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 4:49pm

Well, this gets to the entire problematic nature of evaluating team quality, or even more ridiculously, player quality, through the prism of won-loss records in the playoffs, when those playoff games were very, very, close. Unless you were stomping or getting stomped, how a playoff game turned out doesn't illuminate much.

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by RickD :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 6:18pm

It's been very hard for the Pats to draft elite players in recent years, simply because their records have consistently been good. Their last top 10 pick was Jerod Mayo in 2010. The previous one was Richard Seymour in 2001. From 1993-1996, they had 3 top 10 picks, including Bledsoe at #1 overall.

They also had the absurd good fortune to fine a Hall of Fame QB in the 6th round. That's not a repeatable event.

I just think the Pats of the early Belichick years had more total talent than the recent teams, esp. on defense.

And really, in terms of considering the total strength of the various teams, I think we shouldn't consider the 2001 team to be better than the 2007 team. The 2001 team took advantage of a cocky Rams team and bad coaching by Mike Martz to pull an enormous upset. But the 2007 team was better by any real measure. Yes, they lost to the Giants, but the best team doesn't always win.

As for the Yankees, the answer is Don Mattingly. In 1981, the Yankees went to the World Series. Mattingly's rookie season was 1982. He stayed with the Yankees until 1995. In 1996, the Yankees made it back to the World Series. Their mini-run lasted through 2003. In 2004, they hired Mattingly as a hitting coach. That led to the epic collapse in the LCS , the 3-0 lead blown to the Red Sox. Mattingly stayed with the Yankees until 2008, at which point he followed Joe Torre to the Dodgers.

In 2009, the Yankees won the World Series again.

The Dodgers have not made the World Series since Mattingly joined the club.

The baseball gods really hate Don Mattingly.

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by Rick_and_Roll :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 6:48pm

IMO, the Pats will be remembered as a team that is a notch below the other "dynasties".

1. Their championships came in a short window of time.
2. Dynasties don't lose SuperBowls, especially by getting beaten physically. They choked in the 2008 SB when they could have been considered the best team ever.... Pats fans can point to the Tyree catch all day long, but they were physically manhandled in that game and in the 2012 SB.
3. Spygate. Who knows what effect it had, but the Patriots continued to film other team's activities (which was a common practice until banned) despite the NFL banning the practice.
4. People don't like BB or are jealous of Tom Brady.
5. There has been no serious divisional competition during their run. The best QB they've had to face within their division is probably Chad Pennington.

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by oaktoon :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 8:39pm

FWIW:

1. The Lombardi Packers will probably always lead the Dynasty Discussion.

2. The 49ers get a slight edge over the Steelers because they a) spaced their SB titles over 9 years and b) had a nearly-unparallelled run of 15 year success. Two QBs/two coaches but that in some ways enhances the quality of the dynasty.

3. The Patriots, Landry Cowboys and Madden/Flores Raiders are next in the pecking order because they a) won multiple SBs and b) were very good for more than a decade. (Washington under Gibbs falls just short by this criteria, and also because 2 of their 3 SBs came in strike years)

Fair or not, the Patriot ability to keep winning once BB and TB are gone may be the test of whether they rise to that second tier. And another SB win would definitely get them there, whereas the book is closed on America's Team 1.0 and the Davis-era Raiduhs.

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by Purds :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 8:11am

It is hard for any contemporary team/player to meet the greatness of a team you heard about but didn't see on a weekly basis (or in my case with the Steeler, I was too young) so that you never had to chance to pick apart that older team's flaws like we can with the current team/player.

The biggest strikes in my mind against Pats dynasty are they won very close games (snow bowl/tuck rule, close SB's--3 wins by a total of 9 points) and didn't even make the playoffs in the middle season of that run (2002). It's hard to think of the greatest team ever being a team that never dominated in a SB win, and then couldn't make the playoffs during the midst of their glory years.

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by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 8:31am

To me the best in the modern passing era since 1978 is the Montana Niners, on the basis of two of their four championships having occurred via 6 noncompetitive playoff victories. The closest any opponent ever came, in the 2nd half of any of those playoff games, was 11 points, in the 1984 Divisional round. The 1989 team barely broke a sweat.

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by Kurt :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 9:33pm

On the other hand, the Pats, Steelers and Packers never lost any playoff games 49-3.

Not saying that disqualifies the Niners, but noncompetitive losses ought to count for something too.

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by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 9:48pm

Eh, the Patriots were behind a not-great Ravens team (that went 10-8 and was smoked in the divisional round) 27-7 in the third quarter of the 2009 Wild Card round, at home. I don't think that's any better than getting beat 49-3 by a great Giants team on the road.

Like I said elsewhere, I think comparing the pre '78 era to the post '78 era is problematic. The Steelers are interesting because they bridge the two eras.

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by Scott Kacsmar :: Wed, 10/22/2014 - 4:19am

New England's dynasty has been over, but it depends on which endpoint you want to choose. I see three options.

1. 2006 AFC Championship loss - This was the last hurrah for the "scrappy" Pats (2001-06) that won seemingly every tight game by 3 points and took down numerous teams with perceived better talent. They were so close to getting a fourth SB in six years before losing to the Colts. They were never the same again, opting to go in an offense-heavy direction for 2007.

2. Super Bowl XLII loss - The most dominant NE team was a stop away from 19-0. This would have been the crowning achievement for the overall run from 2001.

3. Tom Brady's ACL injury - Closely related in time to the second option, when Brady went down you just knew the SB chances went out the window that year. Yes, they still went 11-5 and did a lot of nice things offensively, but it just wasn't the same. This is also when most of the key defensive veterans from these teams were retired, released or traded.

Since the Patriots last won a SB, the Steelers have won two and been to three and the Giants of course won two over the Patriots. So I think you have to say the dynasty ended years ago, but the success has continued much in the same way I don't see anyone considering the 1995-98 49ers as part of a dynasty. In fact, the 1994 49ers really aren't in the dynasty mix either if Dallas technically was that team from 1992-95. You shouldn't have two rulers at once.

My pick of Seattle as the next true dynasty was looking great up until the last few weeks. Better start picking up the slack on defense.

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by intel_chris :: Wed, 10/22/2014 - 11:19pm

Dynasties don't usually have nice clear endings, sure some historian declares that the Roman empire fell when some barbarians managed to pillage Rome, but the empire had been in decline before that. Thus, your option 3 might be the best choice for the end of the Patriots' dynasty.

Similarly, dynasties don't always have clear beginnings. If the Broncos win the Super Bowl this year and continue playing at a high level for several years to come, it could be argued that the dynasty actually was building and began back in 2012. The one and done nature of the playoffs and small number of regular season games almost ensures that it is hard for a team to have enough "luck" to be Super Bowl (or even Conference or Division) champions in consecutive years.

Even some widely recognized dynasties like the Steelers of the 4 Super Bowls, didn't win all 4 in consecutive years, but we don't split that into two mini-dynasties.

If for some reason while Brady and Belichek are still with the Pats and they go on another streak of Super Bowl wins (or even just get one more). It isn't clear that those wins shouldn't be considered part of the Pats' most recent dynasty and not a separate one, unless there is something to clearly distinguish the two.

Similarly, even if the Seahawks don't make the playoffs this year, but come back next year on a string of Super Bowl wins, I think they would also qualify as a dynasty.

Thus, sure we want our dynasties to be dominant, but it is extremely rare to be so dominant that you aren't even challenged. The Madden Raiders relentlessly challenged the Steelers. The Packers, Cowboys, and even Broncos molested the Niners and had their more than occasional victories against them.

Since only the Dolphins so far have had a "perfect" season, one can't make that a requirement for having a dynasty, and once you let that bar down, you have to allow even a Super Bowl loss (as it is still just one game) as part of a dynastic reign.

Dynasties are measured by how well we remember them. That is the key and only important factor. We remember Lombardi's Packers, we remember Bradshaw's Steelers, we remember Montana, Young and the Niners, we remember Brady and Belichek's Patriots. If you want to include other memorable teams like the 90's Cowboys, I won't argue. Those are all dynasties because we remember them. That's what really matters. History is not only written by the winners, it is written about those we remember as winners. They don't need to be perfect winners, just memorable ones. Yes, winning the championship multiple times is important to establishing a dynasty, but that's because doing that is memorable. Once you are memorable, the details fade and become irrelevant.

150
by coremill :: Wed, 10/22/2014 - 11:23am

The Giants had a great defense in 1986. They get overshadowed by the Bears of that era but that was a phenomenal defensive team with a historically great player at his peak. That game also included a) Jerry Rice inexplicably fumbling when he was about to score a touchdown, and b) Montana getting knocked out of the game on a vicious hit by Jim Burt. Montana hadn't been playing that well -- he was 8-15 with 2 INTs, one of which was on the play where he got knocked out and which Lawrence Taylor returned for a TD -- but his replacement, Jeff Kemp, was 7-22 with two more INTs. It was one of those games where everything that can possibly go wrong does.

The loss in the 1987 playoffs at home to Minnesota was much worse -- the 1987 team was a dominant team (ranked #1 in both offense and defense) and probably should have won the Super Bowl that year. Instead they got whipped at home in a game where Montana got benched in the third quarter and Anthony Carter played the game of his life. This game nearly got Walsh fired and sparked a media firestorm over whether Montana had lost it and whether Rice would ever come through in a big game (pretty amazing in retrospect).

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by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/22/2014 - 12:04pm

That 1987 Vikings team was extremely talented on both lines of scrimmage, had a very good receiver and running back, and good d-backs. I remember Hank Stram, who was an excellent prognosticator, with a great sense of matchups, saying prior to the game that the Vikings had an excellent chance to win. They had lost all three of their scab games bady, and lots of people were viewing them like an 8-7 team, for some reason.

That Viking era, from 1987 until Millard blew his knee out in 1990, was really a talented bunch, except, of course, at the qb position. If Tommy Kramer hadn't been hampered by whiskey and getting killed by a horrible offensive line in 1984, they may have given the Niners a contest in other years as well, most notably in 1988. Joe Montana vs Wade Wilson wasn't a great matchup, to say the least.

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by coremill :: Wed, 10/22/2014 - 12:23pm

The Vikings were an certainly underrated team, but the 49ers should still never have gotten beat like that at home. With largely the same personnel the two teams played in the playoffs at the same stage each of the next two seasons, and the 49ers won 34-9 and 41-13.

In the 1987 game, Montana was 12-26 for 109 yards and an INT before Walsh benched him. Considering the circumstances, it was probably the worst game Montana ever played.

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by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/22/2014 - 12:57pm

My memory of the game is fogged by time, but I seem to think that Doleman and Co. were in Montana's face the whole game. What was also quite different from the playoff game the next year was that the Vikings offense didn't keep giving the Niners the ball back quickly, on short fields. That 34-9 game was more the result of a poor Vikings offensive performance than the Vikings defense being overmatched.

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by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 10/22/2014 - 1:30pm

I'm really curious what DVOA will think of the 1987 Vikings. PFR, using SRS to weed out the scab games, seems to think they were "pretty good", but not "great", and just caught the 49ers on a bad day.

But if you easily win two consecutive road playoff games against good opponents, and come within a dropped pass of overtime against the eventual SB champion, you must be doing something right.

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by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/22/2014 - 2:08pm

Well, they were also pretty young, especially on defense, if I remember right, so it isn't crazy to think that a 3 game strike impeded their development, and that they were capable of some pretty high variance. I was at the last regular season game that the Vikings lost to the Redskins, in OT. If Wilson hadn't played like he was drunk, the Vikings would have won by more than 10 points. The game 3 weeks later in D.C. was extremely hard fought, and well played, if dominated by defense. If the Vikings had pulled it off, I would have liked their chances against the Broncos.

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by mrh :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 9:52am

While the Packers may deserve to lead the discussion, let's not forget how much luck went into those titles:

1965 was double fortunate. A disputed made FG by the Packers in a conference title playoff sent the game into sudden death which GB won - replays appeared to show the kick was wide and resulted in taller goalposts and improved positioning by officials. And of course the Colts were down to halfback Tom Matte as their QB with his famous wristband of plays. Luck cuts both ways of course - Starr got hurt early or the game may never have gotten to a FG either way.

1967 was a different kind of luck. If the NFL hadn't gone to four divisions, GB may have finished 3rd in the conference and never even made the playoffs. And we'd have no Ice Bowl or frozen tundra lore (also, under current rules the 1st game of the playoffs would have been in LA, not GB, which might have made a difference too).

The Pack was also helped by playing in fewer playoff games each season, which reduces the possibility of random events like close calls or QB injuries affecting the outcome of a game.

I think I'd still vote the Packers as the #1 dynasty, but the gap between their five titles and the Patriots' three is a lot narrower than it might sound.

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by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 10:18am

It's similar to the Niner dynasty being better than the Patriots'; the Packer champions of '61 and '62 were far more dominant than any of the Patriot championship teams. The best Patriot team didn't win a championship, and wasn't all that dominant after Thanksgiving.

I strongly suspect that we aren't ever going to see, in the salary cap era, teams have dominant rosters for several years, like we did prior to the cap taking full effect.

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by oaktoon :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 3:29pm

To which a certain Vincent Lombardi would reply "Mister, we made our luck. What did Branch Rickey once say? I believe it was "luck is the residue of two pulling guards in front of Hornung or Taylor."

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by Rick_and_Roll :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 12:10pm

To me the debate for best dynasty boils down to two teams. 49ers or Steelers. In fairness, I am too young to know anything besides NFL films about the Packers.

I would pick the Steelers because they dominated in an era when it seems like there was better competition at the top (Cowboys, Raiders, Dolphins) than what the Niners faced, and they had a better offensive/defensive balance. Yes the Niners had a 14 or 15 year run with two QBs, but during the latter part of that time period, the Cowboys were on their way to becoming a dynasty until egos clashed.

IMO, Joe Gibbs is absolutely the most under-rated coach of all time. Winning 3 SBs with 3 different QBs is an amazing accomplishment.

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by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 12:31pm

The '85 Bears may be one of the greatest teams ever. The '86 Giants were a great team. The Redskins had some turnover at qb, but as you note the Gibbs teams of the era were really outstanding. I wouldn't be so sure that the Steelers had better competition in the '70s, and they certainly didn't have better balance between offense and defense prior to the latter two championships. People often undervalue just how good the Niners teams were defensively.

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by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 10/22/2014 - 7:43am

Just wanted to second Will's comment about how people underrate just how good those 49er defenses were. DVOA doesn't go back that far yet, but I bet the 1984 Dolphins will be among the best offenses ever. The 49ers stoned them in the Super Bowl. And you don't win playoff games 41-13, 30-3, and 55-10 against 10+ win teams unless your defense is really good. Nobody noticed because the offense was even more amazing.

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by theslothook :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 3:15pm

Seconded your comment about Gibbs. His run also spanned for such a sustained period of time with multiple qbs and personnel. He also was an innovator as well. I think a realistic argument could be made that he was the greatest head coach of all time.

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by oaktoon :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 3:36pm

Niners had to deal with Cowboys at the front end-- remember the Catch?; and then Giants/Washington/Bears (and Reggie White Eagles at end) during rest of decade.... AFC was weak, but NFC was every bit as tough as AFC with Miami and Oakland when Pittsburgh was dominating in 1970s.. 49ers get extra credit for the continuing success and 5th SB with Young in 1994... Steelers were a 6 year championship run extended out to about a decade of strong play; Niners a 9 year run extended by 5 more years to the 5th... i gotta favor the latter...

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by theslothook :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 3:41pm

How exactly are we defining dynasties? The 5th championship featured basically no one that I can recall from the original dynasty.

90
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 5:08pm

So any Lions fans thinking that Suh is playing at such a constant fervor thanks to being in a contract year?

I ask because while the guy has always been good this season he has been playing at high speed not in spurts but pretty much down to down. And I cannot help but wonder what is driving this new level of consistent effort.

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by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 5:38pm

This Lions fan has noticed that, too. He has been a monster this year. And I think it's because he wants to get paid, and paid in a big market (thus the rumors of going to a New York team...I don't think he ever intended to sign an extension with the Lions). The guy wants to be a superstar (which is why he goes onto every random reality show during the offseason). He can't be a superstar at his position, in Detroit.

I'm resigned to the fact that this is his last year with the Lions. I suspect he's going to want close to J.J. Watt money. The Lions can't afford that, and despite how good he's been, I don't think he's worth that much (Maybe John Idzik will think he is).

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by theslothook :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 5:52pm

Hasn't fairley Also been playing amazing this season too?(yet another 2011 draft class hit). And isn't he nearing a contract year as well?

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by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 6:04pm

Fairley has indeed finally been playing up to his potential, as well. And he's not nearing a contract year, he IS in a contract year (the team elected not to pick up his 5th year option). Since he's a post-2011 CBA pick (And not a top 10 pick, in any case), he would probably be affordable to re-sign. I think he should be re-signed, too, unless he starts eating fast food again.

I don't know what will happen next year, but since they can't re-sign everybody, I see the defense regressing quite a bit in 2015.

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by Ezra Johnson :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 8:05pm

"Tarkenton did not play on a high quality roster until he was 33, past his physical prime, and until that time was very frequently on bad rosters, and just as importantly, he was not on a well coached team. . ."

To the point - no system has yet been devised that can isolate player value outside the context of teams and eras. I have so come to hate hate hate the idea that championships won imbues players with some mythical stamp of approval that it absolutely drives me nuts. TEAMS win and lose games; TEAMS win and lose championships. The entire argument can be summed up as follows:
Jim Kelly, Fran Tarkenton, Ken Anderson, etc. etc. > Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Bob Griese, etc. etc.

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by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 8:32pm

Yeah, I want to avoid sounding like I'm ripping the latter three guys, but I generally agree. To be fair, Bradshaw became a much, much, better qb later on, and I really do think Aikman was great, and Griese suffers from mostly playing in the time frame when passing was really, really, hard. Having said that, I highly suspect that if their birthdays were switched, and Peyton's dad had been drafted by the Steelers, and Bradshaw by the Saints, Archie would be argued by some as the best Manning qb, and Terry would be merely thought of as a local New Orleans celebrity.

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by tuluse :: Mon, 10/20/2014 - 9:36pm

Mike Tainer likes to point out Griese also had his stats severely deflated by playing for good teams. Something that pretty much stopped happening by the 80s.

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by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 12:21am

Yeah, if you didn't see the NFL between about 1970 and 978, it's hard to visualize how different the game was.

One of the amazing things about Tarkenton is that his td to int ratio was terrific (for the era) when he was on those poorly coached rosters, without much talent, from '61 though '71. Just a very unique player.

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by Pen :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 4:36am

And don't forget that in that era, the QB couldn't just get rid of the ball. He either got it somewhere near a receiver or he got pounded into the turf. And by near, I mean it had to look like he was actually trying to hit the receiver. I saw balls sail over players heads and the flags came out for intentional grounding.

Griese was a great QB. So was Fran Tarkenton and Roger Staubach. Bradshaw was good, not great. Archie would be considered great had he played for a better team. I don't know how to rate Daryl Lamonica but he was hella fun to watch.

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by theslothook :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 4:57am

I'm trying to decide which is more impressive - what Tarkenton accomplished in the most defensive centric anti pass environment in nfl history or what Manning is doing at 38 with 4 neck surgeries robbing him of his physical skills.