Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

14 Sep 2015

Audibles at the Line: Week 1

compiled by Andrew Potter

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

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

While these e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Steelers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching, just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.

Miami Dolphins 17 at Washington Redskins 10

Sterling Xie: Washington caps off a nine-minute drive with a nice fade touchdown to Jordan Reed on third down. We've had two 17-play drives so far today, and they've come from Cleveland and Washington. Go figure. Anyways, the Dolphins have 32 yards and less than 5 minutes of possession (!) with just under 2 minutes to go in the first half. Yeesh.

Cian Fahey: The Dolphins really needed to replace Dallas Thomas in the offseason. He's been getting destroyed all day today. Just not a viable starter at guard.

Sterling Xie: Remember that ridiculous Super Bowl sack Bob Griese took against the Cowboys when he ran backwards like 30 yards? That Ryan Tannehill strip sack, with the ball rolling 40 yards backwards as two MIami offensive linemen rolled over the ball, was basically the 2015 equivalent.

Andrew Healy: I was thinking of that Archie Manning play on the goal line against the Bears where the fumble just kept going backwards.

Aaron Schatz: The sad thing about Dallas Thomas is that they thought they had replaced him with Jamil Douglas. But apparently, Billy Turner from our Top 25 Prospects list (oops) was not good enough to start so Douglas had to play right guard and Thomas stayed in on the left side.

Cian Fahey: If the Miami Dolphins had a track record of success we'd be praising them for winning this game while playing terrible football. Alas, the Miami Dolphins don't have a track record of success so the takeaway here is rightfully that they have underperformed.

Indianapolis Colts 14 at Buffalo Bills 27

Sterling Xie: Andrew Luck is going hard after the rookie Ronald Darby on the right side of the field so far, but the Florida State rookie picks off a deep pass to make the Colts pay. Penalties have been part of the problem in the Colts stalling out in the first quarter, but in general, the Bills are dominating the trenches and causing confusion with varied fronts (which obviously doesn't come as much of a surprise).

Aaron Schatz: I'm not a believer in most "confidence" narratives, but... No, never mind, screw that narrative. I don't think the Bills starting off with a weird "Wildcat" formation that had Matt Cassel at quarterback and Tyrod Taylor at running back shows any "lack of confidence" in Taylor. I just think it's silly and ridiculous and the Colts were not fooled in the slightest.

When the Colts are on offense, the storyline is that Rex Ryan has this defense going FULL REX already. We are not living in the Jim Schwartz land of four-man pressure anymore. We've had plays with guys all standing up and Luck unsure of who was coming. We've had plays with six or seven guys up on the line. We've had Kyle Williams lined up outside of the tackle's shoulder while Jerry Hughes is lined up inside. And most importantly, we've had BIG BLITZES. Over and over and over. The charting on this game is probably going to show at least six pass rushers on 40-plus percent of snaps and I am guessing seven pass rushers on at least 15 percent of snaps. It is absolutely working and the numbers suggest it's the right strategy. Last year, Luck went from 7.5 yards per pass with three or four pass rushers to 8.7 with five, then dropped to 6.9 with 6-plus. In 2013, he dropped all the way down to 4.9 yards per pass with 6-plus pass rushers. His rookie year, it was 4.6 yards per pass with 6-plus pass rushers.

Also, still waiting for Luck to target Andre Johnson. It's all T.Y. Hilton. Luck just hung a deep pass and Ronald Darby, the second-round rookie, picked it off. Good game for him so far.

Andrew Healy: So far, the Bills defense is picking up right where it left off last year. On three straight targets to T.Y. Hilton, Luck is almost picked off by Nickell Robey on play one. Then good pressure from a five-man rush and a Luck special for 30 yards into pretty good coverage. Then a Luck mistake picked off by Ronald Darby. And the Bills don't even have Marcell Dareus today. Mostly awesome Bills defense, but perhaps Luck will be wishing he had one fewer receiver and one more decent offensive lineman.

Aaron Schatz: I want to add how disappointed I am that Nickell Robey's name is apparently pronounced "Nih-KELL" and not "Nickel."

Andrew Healy: So easy to say, but I'm pegging EJ Manuel's chances of hitting that 51-yard touchdown to Percy Harvin at 15 percent. Beautiful throw by Taylor.

Nathan Forster: Awesome 51-yard rainbow from Tyrod Taylor to Percy Harvin. Harvin had a half a step on Darius Butler, but the touchdown still required a perfect pass and he got it.

Andrew Healy: The Tyrod Taylor experiment is off to one heck of a start. He is 8-of-9 for 139 yards and a touchdown right now. He had more room on his last throw in the deep middle to MarQueis Gray, but I don't think it was his first read and he showed good composure in the pocket.

Aaron Schatz: Wow, Luck is not having a good game. Even when the pressure isn't on top of him, he's missing throws. He just overthrew Donte Moncrief on a quick slant that would have gotten a conversion on third down. He's also hanging up all his deep throws. And then Adam Vinatieri missed a field goal, so it is still 10-0 Buffalo.

Sterling Xie: Luck's throwing windows are tiny in this game. Buffalo's pressure is allowing their defensive backs to play downhill. The small Indy receivers are taking a beating, as the corners are right on top of them almost every play. Colts offense has a really small margin for error right now, especially if they're not going to run much down double-digits in the second half.

Andrew Healy: I've got Stephon Gilmore for two or three passes defensed so far. He had a dropped pick on T.Y. Hilton earlier and two plays where he was right in Donte Moncrief's hip pocket.

Also, Luck did hang up the pick and the one Gilmore dropped, but he's also fit in a few throws with very small windows, and he has had a small window on almost every play.

Scott Kacsmar: Colts will be the last team to score today, if they score. Colts also trailed 24-0 in Week 1 at Denver last year. Gee, it's almost like the theme of my FOA chapter was that this team inexplicably has four or five of these beatdowns every year under this regime. It shouldn't happen to a playoff team, but this is why you see CBS reports before the game that Chuck Pagano is basically a dead coach walking.

Aaron Schatz: Bills defensive backs are not playing as tight here in the second half as they did in the first half, but I'm guessing that's on purpose to make sure that mistakes don't lead to another Andrew Luck comeback. Still bringing lots of pressure though.

Colts finally make it up the field, go for it on fourth-and-goal because why would you kick a field goal down 24-0 at the start of the fourth quarter, and score a touchdown on a pass to Donte Moncrief. (Moncrief is clearly playing over Phillip Dorsett.) Then the Colts do the thing we always talk about and never see, but we may see more with the new extra point rules. They line up to go for two in an attempt to make up a 24-point deficit with three touchdowns AND three 2-point conversions. And they make it! 24-8.

Sterling Xie: Talk about a horrible afternoon for Indy returners. Moncrief slipped on a kickoff return and was tackled inside the 5-yard line, and now Dorsett's muffed punt is probably the last nail in the coffin. Dorsett also bizarrely fair caught the ball around the 6-yard line earlier in the game. Indy's been outplayed, but the special teams gaffes have hurt a ton as well.

Cleveland Browns 10 at New York Jets 31

Sterling Xie: Josh McCown tries to helicopter John Elway-style into the end zone, but in Browns fashion, he fumbles and it's recovered by Antonio Cromartie in the end zone for a touchback. 17 plays, 10-plus minutes, 0 points.

Cian Fahey: I'd just like to appreciate how well Josh McCown (fumble at goal line) and Brian Hoyer (interception on first play) are managing their games so far.

Sterling Xie: Also appears that McCown got hurt on that play, as he's headed to the locker room. Hope take two goes better for Johnny Manziel.

Scott Kacsmar: McCown brought back the Rosencopter to diminish a 10-minute drive. At least it was worth a good laugh.

Andrew Healy: Just heard that the Browns hit a 48-yard extra point. Such a poor decision. Expected points clearly higher from going for two.

Aaron Schatz: Except, if you have to hit a 48-yard XP, doesn't that also mean you have to go for two from the 17? The penalty rules on conversions are honestly so confusing now.

Andrew Healy: Oh, yeah, my bad.

Vince Verhei: I didn't watch a snap of this game, but I see that Cleveland's leading rusher was Johnny Manziel, followed by Josh McCown. That's the opposite of optimal.

Seattle Seahawks 31 at St. Louis Rams 34

Vince Verhei: I just want to go on record saying that with all the youth on the offensive lines and all the talent in the front seven, first team to score 13 wins today.

Marshawn Lynch's first third-and-1 carry results in a pile-moving 10-yard gain. But sure, let's pass on the goal line. (That wound will never heal.)

Andrew Healy: And it takes Tyler Lockett no time at all to get on the board with an untouched punt return touchdown. As if the Seahawks needed one more strength. Their first punt return for a touchdown since 2007.

Scott Kacsmar: Tyler Lockett made that punt return touchdown look too easy. Last year the Rams had all the big special teams plays go their way in this matchup. I really liked Lockett's preseason too. I think he's going to be what Cordarrelle Patterson was supposed to be: dynamic on special teams and offense. Just wait until they get him in there with the play-action game.

Vince Verhei: Rams' first drive: swing pass to Tavon Austin for loss of 6, run stuffed for almost a safety, false start, quarterback sneak on third-and-21 to avoid the safety and give the punter room. Which backfires. Seattle's longest punt return last season was 38 yards. The first punt return of Tyler Lockett's career goes for a 57-yard touchdown.

Cian Fahey: That return looked too easy because it was too easy. Rams coverage was woeful. Wide open running lane down the middle of the field created by Seattle blockers. Richard Sherman had a key one. Way too easy.

Vince Verhei: Tavon Austin showing up today. He gets 5 yards behind Richard Sherman for what should have been a long touchdown, but Nick Foles underthrew him badly, then Sherman got away with defensive pass interference to break it up. The drive continues, though, and Austin finishes it with a 16-yard touchdown run. Rams put him at tailback in an offset I and just ran a simple backside counter, and Seattle didn't have enough defenders to that side to contain his speed.

Seahawks get a late field goal to tie the game at 10 at halftime. They can't run, and they're doing everything they can to get the ball out of Russell Wilson's hands quickly. That means an endless string of short passes to the outside. He's not even looking deep, and he's still been sacked three times. Jimmy Graham has been a non-factor, with as many catches (one, for 7 yards) as blown blocks that nearly got Wilson killed, because WHY WOULD YOU EVER USE GRAHAM AS A BLOCKER INSTEAD OF A RECEIVER?!?!

Rams' first second-half drive results in a lost fumble when Tim Barnes (making his fifth career start) snaps the ball too early. That results in a Seattle field goal. Rams get the ball back, though, and drive 80 yards for a touchdown. Been a long time since I saw this many guys flying through the secondary uncovered. Nick Foles runs it in from the 1-yard line to put St. Louis up 17-13.

Justin Britt has moved to guard, still sucks at pass blocking. He gives up the sack to Aaron Donald on third down. Tavon Austin returns the ensuing punt for a touchdown, though they're reviewing it to see if he stayed in bounds.

Touchdown stands. Rams up 24-13.

Seahawks spend what feels like an hour in the St. Louis red zone. Wilson has Graham open a few times but overthrows him, which is no mean feat. Finally hits him on third-and-goal for the score. That was almost overthrown and Graham had to reach for it too. Lynch then runs in the two-pointer to make it 24-21 Rams.

Seattle recovers another fumble and drives for a field goal to tie the score at 24-all. Seattle has used a lot of no-huddle the last two drives and had the most success they've had all day.

Make it three second-half drives that end in lost fumbles for the Rams. On the first play of the drive, Cary Williams comes unblocked on the corner blitz and gets the sack, the strip, the recovery, and the touchdown to put Seattle up 31-24.

Scott Kacsmar: The Rams were down 31-24 in the final minute and FOX's Kenny Albert was talking about how long the field goal was going to be if the Rams didn't convert third down. Are you kidding me? Then some bad stumbling defense by a guy who hasn't earned his Legion of Boom tags yet leads to Lance Kendricks wide open for the game-tying touchdown.

Vince Verhei: Dion Bailey (playing due to Kam Chancellor's holdout) falls down in coverage and Lance Kendricks has an easy game-tying touchdown in the final minute. Interesting note: New Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard has been moving Richard Sherman all over the place. Right, left, outside, slot, covering wideouts, covering tight ends. A big change, obviously.

Andrew Healy: A couple thoughts on the touchdown to Kendricks: 1) Maybe good scheme by the Rams getting Kendricks that matchup with Dion Bailey on the sideline; 2) The Seahawks really missed Kam Chancellor there.

Vince Verhei: Seattle opens overtime with a surprise onside kick. Ballsy, but it doesn't work, and the Rams take over at midfield.

Sterling Xie: So many special teams shenanigans whenever Seattle and St. Louis play at the dome. The Seahawks try a surprise onside kick, fail, and get bailed out by a byzantine invalid fair catch rule that doesn't appear to make any sense. But then Jeff Triplette, after bumbling through that explanation, changes his mind and reverses the call. What in the world?

Mike Kurtz: The real issue is that nobody threw a flag when a receiver who signaled for a fair catch got leveled. Even if it is eventually determined that the signal was illegal (without going into that absurd can of worms), that isn't the wing official's job to know or not know. Horrific work by the crew in general and Seattle avoided a big penalty in overtime.

Vince Verhei: Stedman Bailey, from the slot, beats Sherman for a big catch to set up the go-ahead field goal. Seahawks try to answer, but Lynch is stuffed on fourth-and-1 and it's game over. Before we say this validates the Super Bowl call, let me point out that the Rams' front seven is not New England's.

Andrew Healy: Rewatching the last play, I can't decide whether to give credit to the push up front or to think that Lynch maybe could have scored if he'd been more decisive. I guess it makes sense that he wanted to cut back right away given that he needed a yard, but there was nothing but space to the left if he'd just gone straight to the hole.

Vince Verhei: As long as we're breaking down the last play, here's a question: The Seahawks have two fullbacks on the 53-man roster. Why was neither on the field on fourth-and-ballgame? What's the point?

Green Bay Packers 31 at Chicago Bears 23

Tom Gower: The Bears had a nice opening drive. Matt Forte had a cutback to take advantage of some overpursuit on the second-level defenders, with Sean Richardson, I believe, the key culprit to open up the backside alley. The big play on the drive was an Alshon Jeffery catch-and-run on a shallow crosser after Sam Barrington overreacted to the route combination. Then of course they got to the red zone and stalled out, and their second drive ends with Julius Peppers beating "No, he's obviously not going to play right tackle, why would everybody think that?" right tackle Kyle Long for a Cutler strip-sack (which after review ended up just a sack). In between, the Bears actually forced the Packers to punt in the competitive portion of a game for the first time since 2013. Rodgers couldn't find anything downfield on first down, and his third-and-3 fell incomplete when Davante Adams couldn't get around for the conversion on the back-shoulder throw.

Mike Kurtz: The Kyle Long right tackle experience has not been pleasant thus far. Really ugly sack on third-and-long in the first quarter where Julius Peppers just ran right past Long. He never even got his feet set. He's had a few looks against Clay Matthews with better but similar results. Here's hoping this is Long trying to get up to game speed.

The Bears are getting a good rush from their front four on passing downs, which is heartening considering the past few years.

Scott Kacsmar: Bears ran some kind of sprint-left option and Matt Forte was wide-open for a walk-in touchdown. He dropped the ball like it had a disease on it. This opportunity only happened after an inexcusable offsides penalty by Green Bay on a field goal attempt extended the drive. Bears are having a hard time finishing drives and Cutler is taking some bad sacks.

Mike Kurtz: Another good look at the inequity of offsetting penalties: Green Bay brings a really smart blitz on second-and-goal at their own 8-yard line. The Bears basically hold everyone, flags go flying. The holds free up Jay Cutler, who throws into the end zone, where Sam Shields holds Jeffery. Yes, the defense should not be allowed to hold receivers. On the other hand, the only reason Cutler wasn't plastered well before he had any chance of getting the ball away were a few holds so blatant the short wings picked it up. Oddly, Shields' best play was to just let Jeffery catch the touchdown. The rules create some strange and perverse incentives.

Cian Fahey: How James Jones couldn't get an early free-agent deal or make the New York Giants roster is baffling to me. He could clearly still play in Oakland.

Aaron Schatz: Maybe the Giants just wanted to go with youth and guys who could develop. Also, Jones doesn't play on special teams, which is a problem for a guy who was going to be your fourth receiver. It was a really good break for the Packers to have Jones available right when they needed him.

Tom Gower: We're at halftime. Matt Forte has 16 carries. He's at 105 yards, but at this rate he'll be averaging 2.7 yards per carry from Week 4 onward. Outside of the Jeffery big play early, the Bears have been very much grinding out their drives, which has really limited possession. Green Bay having just 10 points in the first half doesn't sound very good, but they've only had the ball three times (plus a kneeldown). The first half has been about Green Bay's defense and their mistakes, like all the penalties and the missed tackles at the second level.

Mike Kurtz: The first half has been about Packers miscues, but it's also worth mentioning that they're currently relying on an injured Palmer in the middle after Barrington left the game. A heavy dose of Forte is absolutely the way to go for this game, so I'm not sure we should read too much into it other than the Bears making a good adjustment.

Strange series in the red zone for Chicago. First-and-goal from the 4-yard line and no runs whatsoever. One of the plays was a quick slant with a pick where the picked defender managed to wipe everyone on the side out, and the fourth-down pass never had a chance with how fast Matthews got into the backfield. Lots of mastermindering.

Aaron Schatz: John Fox actually has the Bears going for it on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line, down eight. They don't get it when pressure forces Jay Cutler to overthrow Eddie Royal. But the next few plays show why it works to go for it at the goal line. Obviously, it's tougher to stop the Packers offense for a three-and-out backed up at their own goal line compared to how tough it is to stop other offenses, but that's what the Bears did. And the punt back gives the Bears the ball again starting at the Green Bay 41-yard line.

Detroit Lions 28 at San Diego Chargers 33

Sterling Xie: Joique Bell: 5 touches, 25 yards.
Ameer Abdullah: 5 touches, 69 yards, 1 touchdown.

But nah, let's keep pretending Joique Bell is the real lead back in Detroit.

Aaron Schatz: Well, having more yardage doesn't make you the lead back. Having more carries makes you the lead back! But yeah, everyone thinks it will be Abdullah by midseason.

Mike Kurtz: Detroit paid real money for Bell, so Bell is the guy. Detroit has been clueless with running backs for a few years, now.

Sterling Xie: San Diego gets a Ladarius Green touchdown to go up 26-21, but Mike McCoy bizarrely doesn't choose to go for two with roughly 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The wrath of the football gods fittingly causes Josh Lambo to push the extra point wide right.

Andrew Potter: They did initially line up to go for two, but a delay of game penalty meant they'd need seven yards so they chose to kick instead. You saw how that worked out.

Sterling Xie: Ah, my fault didn't see the penalty. Even Phil Simms could've made the go-for-two call in a normal situation.

Andrew Potter: Grudgingly, with a disapproving tone and a scornful "the sheet says."

Sterling Xie: He hasn't reached the end zone, but Keenan Allen sure looks like his rookie self today. 14 catches and 161 yards are both easily career highs, and he just broke Detroit's back with that catch-and-run on third-and-19.

New Orleans Saints 19 at Arizona Cardinals 31

Aaron Schatz: Sean Payton chooses to punt the ball instead of having Drew Brees try fourth-and-6 from his own 7-yard line. He punts the ball back to Arizona with 1:58 left and two timeouts. Which means even if they force a three-and-out, barring any punt weirdness, the Saints are going to get the ball back with something like 50 seconds left and no timeouts, needing to go at least 80 yards for a touchdown. I don't think that was the smart decision.

And the Cardinals render it moot by throwing a little screen pass to rookie David Johnson on second-and-8, which he takes all the way for a touchdown.

Vince Verhei: It was funny, because I was watching that thinking "Here we go, another one-score win for Bruce Arians." And then he won it with an aggressive play call that made it a two-score game, so it won't count in his close-game record, even though it was close. Oh well.

Scott Kacsmar: As long as I'm doing the counting, this definitely counts in BA's close-game record. Another quick stop by the defense, and another aggressive call on offense to put the game away. Great stuff.

Baltimore Ravens 13 at Denver Broncos 19

Scott Kacsmar: Denver using a ton of shotgun so far, so that will be fun to track all year. Peyton basically looks like Peyton so far. Brandon McManus was a weakness last year and he never made a field goal longer than 44 yards. He just drilled two from 57 and 56 this quarter. Sure, being in Denver helps, but he had that last year too. Defense getting good pressure on Joe Flacco early.

Aaron Schatz: On the other hand, we've entered a weird alternate universe where Peyton Manning sometimes lines up with a fullback in the I-formation, and not even on the goal line!

Also, when Brandon McManus hits field goals of 56 and 57 yards, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms seem to have no idea how altitude works. Yes, those are good field goals. Those are not incredible field goals in Denver. In Buffalo in December? Sure. In Denver in September? Probably a lot like hitting from 48 elsewhere.

Sterling Xie: Pass rush also a huge story for Denver, having sacked Flacco twice and hit him five other times through one quarter. Baltimore returned every starter from last year's elite O-line (fourth in Adjusted Sack Rate, third in Adjusted Line Yards), but the Broncos are making that unit look like the horrid 2013 version.

Aaron Schatz: Feels weird not to have much to say about Baltimore-Denver after a full half. The defenses are really dominating the offenses, but we knew these defenses were going to be good this year. I guess my surprise is that I would have expected more from the Denver running game than C.J. Anderson having seven carries for 16 yards after 29 minutes.

Vince Verhei: Ravens sack Peyton three times in the first half. He hadn't been sacked three times in a game -- regular season, preseason, or playoffs -- since Week 7 of 2013.

Sterling Xie: Kyle Arrington got a huge hit on Peyton on a cornerback blitz in the first half, so the Ravens go back to that well and get a Jimmy Smith pick-six (plus another wallop on Manning). If Peyton got hurt while barely getting breathed on last season, he's not lasting this year if he continues to take this kind of abuse.

Aaron Schatz: I'm looking for that Kubiak and Manning offensive line magic and we're not seeing it today.

Peyton Manning has taken four sacks through the first three quarters. He didn't have a single game with more than two sacks last year. His last game with four sacks was against Indianapolis in Week 7 of 2013. I'm going back now and looking for the last time he took more than four sacks in a game... it doesn't seem to be in the P-F-R Game Finder so I'm going through the FO spreadsheets.

I went all the way back to the beginning of his career. It took a long time but I finally found games where Peyton Manning took more than four sacks. He took five sacks against Pittsburgh in the 2005 playoffs, against Baltimore in Week 6 of 2002, and against Carolina in Week 17 of 1998, when he was a rookie.

This is just the 14th time in his entire career Manning has taken 4-plus sacks. It's the first time since 2007. I'm putting them here just because I did all the damn work. Here are games where Manning took four sacks, counting backwards:

  • Atlanta in Week 12 of 2007
  • San Diego in Week 15 of 2005
  • San Diego in Week 16 of 2004
  • New England in the 2003 AFC Championship Game
  • Miami in Week 9 of 2003
  • Buffalo Week 8 of 2001
  • New England Week 6 of 2001
  • Green Bay Week 12 of 2000
  • New Orleans Week 4 of 1998
  • Miami Week 1 of 1998

Scott Kacsmar: I hate to say it, but this Denver offense looks like the same one that lost to the Colts in the playoffs, but with a worse offensive line. Maybe Baltimore really is that good on defense, but this isn't an encouraging debut, even if they did just put together an 11-minute drive to basically leave Baltimore with one shot. And uh-oh, it's Joe Flacco in Denver in a 6-point game. Alert the safeties.

Aaron Schatz: Broncos take the win against Baltimore when Joe Flacco throws a pick on third-and-goal. I'm not going to argue too much, but I think there was interference on Denver's David Bruton on this play. He whacked Crockett Gillmore's arm before the ball got there. But that doesn't mean the play by Darian Stewart to come over and make the pick wasn't a great play by Stewart, because it was.

Denver's defense looked really great today. I want to avoid National Jump to Conclusions Week, but there's no doubt that Manning looked a lot closer to the Manning of last December and January instead of the Manning of our memories. And the offensive line didn't open the space for running back cuts that we expect from a Kubiak offensive line scheme.

Ravens Twitter account just reported Terrell Suggs is out for the year. Wow, that's a big loss.

Cincinnati Bengals 33 at Oakland Raiders 13

Rob Weintraub: Good start for the Bengals -- three-and-out Raiders, then a solid touchdown drive, ended by Jeremy Hill bouncing outside to convert fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line.

Hue Jackson throwing the book out there already. Lots of shifts and motion action. Just flanked rookie lineman Jake Fisher wide right as part of trips, then threw slant the other way. It was wide-open but Justin Tuck knocked the pass down.

Oakland's expensive new center ends the first quarter with back-to-back penalties including a roughing call.

Now Cincy lines big ol' Andrew Whitworth out as part of trips, run a screen for a big gainer off that action. Then Tyler Eifert shows what he adds with a deep seam route for 31 more. But long drive stalls when newly rich A.J. Green drops an easy touchdown catch. 10-0 Cincy.

Aaron Schatz: Andrew Whitworth lined up as a wide receiver in trips was one of the things that came out of Pandora's box.

Rob Weintraub: Eifert has six catches -- a career high -- with ten minutes left in second quarter.

Pretty active Pacman series. Scuffles with Amari Cooper (slammed his head down on his helmet, which had popped off) after a cheap shot from behind. Then a high-on-the-head tackle and a strip of Derek Carr on a scramble that prevents a first down. Then, exhausted, he came out.

Carr was hurt trying to stiff-arm Jones. Nevertheless the Raiders go on fourth-and-short in their own territory with Matt McGloin in. Stuffed, Cincy ball.

Vince Verhei: Just saw the Pacman-Cooper brawl. Cooper's helmet didn't "pop" off, Jones yanked it off, then went for the head. How on earth was this not an ejection?

Rob Weintraub: Former Raider Pat Sims was the main guy stuffing that fourth down. Bengals turn it into another short Jeremy Hill touchdown and lead 17-0. McGloin in for Oakland.

Pac made it rain in the refs' dressing room pregame I guess.

Eifert caps a great first half with a post pattern touchdown in the waning seconds. Perfect throw to big target. 24-0 at the half.

Reggie Nelson intercepts an overthrow from McGloin. He then takes a clear helmet-to-helmet shot as he was defenseless. But there is no penalty of course because Nelson plays defense. Double standard.

Now Eifert reaches around D.J. Hayden for another touchdown. It took three years but he's showing it all today. Tuck, who has been very handsy in this game, blocks the PAT. 30-0 and I think I can relax...

With the block by Tuck there are now four extra points missed today.

Geno sighting! Strip-sack, and Michael Johnson gets a fumble recovery in his first game back in stripes. Blowout situation but nice to see.

Aaron Schatz: Dude, you gotta be specific. My first instinct was "wait, he broke his face, how is Geno Smith playing today?"

Rob Weintraub: Reggie Nelson was in the concussion protocol earlier in the game. Now he's back in there playing in garbage time. And sure enough on a meaningless Raiders touchdown, he gets dinged in the head again. Play the backups for Lord's sake.

Tom Gower: Nit: Nelson was evaluated for a concussion earlier. If he had a concussion, he'd be in the protocol. He didn't, so he's not and thus free to come back into the game.

On the same note, we actually had a Buccaneers player pulled from the game for an evaluation after a call from upstairs. I'm sure we'll get a press release tomorrow about how this proves the process is working and the risk of head injuries has been reduced by the NFL's forward-thinking program.

Rob Weintraub: Right, evaluated. Not the point though. Coaching decision, not doctor's.

Cincy win for the first time EVER in Oakland. Hard to fathom. And that's despite the fact that Chris Simms called them the "Bangles" the entire game.

Tennessee Titans 42 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14

Sterling Xie: Titans-Bucs looking a lot like Oregon-Florida State right now. Marcus Mariota hits Kendall Wright deep for a touchdown on his opening drive, then Jameis Winston follows with a pick-six on a bad read. Coty Sensabaugh was all over that out route, and took it to the house. 14-0 Ducks...er, Titans.

Andrew Healy: Can we declare QBASE an enormous success already? I kid, I kid. But Mariota did look awfully good on that throw and the one to Delanie Walker.

Just saw that Winston pick and wow was that an inauspicious debut. I've rewatched it a few times and I can't figure out what he could have been seeing there. Sensabaugh is just sitting on that route the whole way and Winston's looking there the whole time.

On Winston's first NFL touchdown, nice movement in the pocket and then escaping to the left before finding Austin Seferian-Jenkins. It did come on the heels of a ball that should have been picked but somehow ended up in ASJ's hands for about 20 yards, but still a nice play there.

Sterling Xie: Another really ugly pick for Winston. Tried to set up a running back screen, but three Titans were waiting for it. Ended up being a softball for Deiontrez Mount. Only thing missing from this game is a stumbling backwards pass that gets returned for a touchdown.

Tom Gower: Halftime at Raymond James Stadium, where the Titans hold a 35-7 lead, or more points than they scored in any single game last year. I thought the Titans had a chance to really do well this game. They kept things pretty buttoned down in the preseason, and Dick LeBeau has a pretty good history against rookie quarterbacks. That's a bit overblown, of course, since most rookie quarterbacks struggle and are playing on bad teams. But, hey, Tampa's offensive line was a big part of why I expected LeBeau and the Titans to have so much success.

Part of that has come to pass. We've seen a fair amount of the packaged play concepts familiar from Mariota's Oregon days. The final touchdown was set up by a zone-read look with a hitch option, right out of the Ducks playbook. The first touchdown to Kendall Wright was a zone-read fake combined with a slant, and they went back to that look several times. Seven-step drops and throw the intermediate dig or deep cross this has not been.

On the other side of the ball, Doug Martin has been doing everything he can, but it's still been nowhere near enough. Winston looked good and had some solid moments, notably on the touchdown drive. But both of his interceptions thus far were pretty awful. The first might have been affected by Brian Orakpo's rush against Donovan Smith (not pretty, this play or all day), but he just floated a pass to the flat that made for an easy pick-6. The second, he just didn't get a screen throw over the edge rusher (rookie Deiontrez Mount). Even if you kind of excuse the first one, it still wasn't good and the second has no such salvation. I thought he'd make mistakes, but I thought they'd be more the sort of mistakes we'd seen from him in the past, being too aggressive trying to fit the ball into too-small windows downfield or failing to spot an underneath defender coming from an unexpected place.

Not much of interest in the second half. Jameis looked more like I thought he'd look in the second half, under a lot of pressure and with some throws Cian would grade as interceptable even if they weren't necessarily intercepted. We'll see what, if anything, it means for the rest of the season. There's plenty about this game like it seemed like it could be sui generis, and that Tennessee's best and only really good performance in Week 1 last year makes me even more skeptical. But as a Titans fan, it was a lot of fun watching this game, and "having fun watching a Titans football game" was a really weird feeling after last year.

New York Giants 26 at Dallas Cowboys 27

Scott Kacsmar: I still don't think we know what counts as a catch. I don't see how they could just overturn the Larry Donnell play to incomplete. He caught it standing up and took multiple steps before going down.

Aaron Schatz: There's just a lot of short passing in this game, and the wide receivers don't seem to be doing the quarterbacks many favors. Maybe some of that is Odell Beckham and Dez Bryant each being off the field a little bit, but it wasn't much, and Bryant dropped that easy pass that would have converted a third down in the red zone.

Mike Kurtz: Like Collinsworth said, there is a massive preference for incompletes over catch-plus-fumbles. If there's contact anywhere around possession and the ball comes out (either falling to the ground or popping out), it'll be incomplete. It's probably the most consistent call in the league, and I'm actually amazed it was called a fumble live.

Aaron Schatz: By the way, I heard the Giants signed Shane Vereen. Any chance he's around tonight?

Scott Kacsmar: I think Brandon Jacobs prejudiced Eli Manning against throwing the ball to running backs. But seriously, that just hasn't been his game. Tiki Barber had five straight seasons with 66-plus catches. The Giants drafted Eli and that number was between 52 and 58 the next three years.

Aaron Schatz: Yeah, but part of the thing with Vereen is you can line him up wide or in the slot. I would think Eli would throw to him then, right?

Scott Kacsmar: Well I'd rather just have James Jones to do that, but Giants went in a different direction despite Victor Cruz's injury situation. Ben McAdoo's offense is receiver-heavy from Green Bay, and that fits Eli well.

And damn, this game is all about failing to secure the ball, mostly from Dallas. Joseph Randle got lucky on a fumble. Dez dropped a big third down. Cole Beasley fumbled the ball for a touchdown. Jason Witten just tipped a bad ball thrown wide for a pick to set up the Giants before the half.

Aaron Schatz: I guess when I said earlier that the Giants had three receivers better than Jones, I forgot that Cruz isn't fully healthy yet. I don't think Preston Parker is better than Jones.

I definitely think Witten maybe could have done a better job on that Tony Romo interception, but I think when it comes time for adjusted interceptions, that one is on Romo. That was thrown behind Witten, a tough catch to make. Not really a drop.

I know that we complain all the time about plays that should be called defensive pass interference and aren't called. The play in the third quarter that was called DPI on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the end zone -- wow, I just do not get that at all. It looked like great coverage by DRC. There is no contact before the ball gets there. There's hardly any contact with the receiver AFTER the ball gets there. What the hell? Dallas easily converts from the 1-yard line to make the score 16-13 Giants.

The Cowboys are really shutting down Odell Beckham with Morris Claiborne and safety help over the top. But honestly, it doesn't look like Eli is even looking over at him. Do the Giants really want their game plan built this much around Preston Parker?

Tom Gower: Option 1: These teams don't have enough secondary offensive options to be that effective once you double, or otherwise take away, their best receiving options.

Option 2: Both these defenses are better than we thought, especially New York's.

Option 3: Cowboys-Giants is normally a close game, even if the teams aren't that close in quality together.

I'm leaning toward option 1, but trying to keep my mind open.

Aaron Schatz: There's a lot of "turnovers sure are unpredictable" but that just emphasizes how sloppy this game has been. The Cowboys don't look as good as everyone thinks they are, and the Giants... well, they don't look like winning this game would be any proof that they're better than everyone thinks they are.

Rob Weintraub: Anyone else smelling a "late touchdown and the long extra point to win" scenario?

Aaron Schatz: Reality apparently smells what the Rob is cooking.

Once again, prevent defense sucks and, also, Tony Romo is clutch. And everyone will forget that Tony Romo is clutch the next time he is not clutch.

Rob Weintraub: Call that shot, not that it was so difficult.

Scott Kacsmar: Giants gave that game away with some of the worst clock management I've ever seen. I'd say more, but that's why I do a column on this stuff.

Aaron Schatz: If the clock doesn't stop on the declined penalty on the first down by Odell Beckham at the 4-yard line, the Cowboys don't make it all the way back. If the Giants run on third down at the goal line instead of throwing an incomplete pass, the Cowboys don't make it all the way back.

Tom Gower: You may thank my earlier email for all that offensive proficiency late in the game, especially Dallas without Dez Bryant. The clock management... Dallas should not have been able to run the "dumpoffs -plus YAC" strategy, but they did, and it worked, and the Witten touchdown was just absurd defending, as amply covered on Twitter. I know, Jerry Reese is probably too stung by the Michael Boley contract to ever try acquiring a good linebacker again, but y'know, there comes a time...

Rob Weintraub: The personal foul on Jeremy Mincey served the same purpose; the Cowboys did not have to call a timeout because of that penalty. Saved them some seconds or the timeout. All reminiscent of the Giants' second Super Bowl over the patriots when the 12th man penalty wound up helping them by running clock.

Vince Verhei: Caught the end of that game on the radio. As soon as the Giants got first-and-goal I started screaming for them to take three knees and kick a field goal. I can forgive the attempts to run it in, but that pass is inexcusable, and Eli's decision to throw it away instead of just sitting down is also inexcusable. Seriously, as soon as he his first read wasn't open, he should have just casually hit the turf and let the clock go.

Posted by: Andrew Potter on 14 Sep 2015

196 comments, Last at 16 Sep 2015, 12:14pm by dbostedo

Comments

1
by TADontAsk :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 9:33am

Have there been any studies that compare going for the late field goal to go up 6 points vs going for the first down/touchdown that puts the game away? Is there a major difference in win probability? Obviously you'd need to consider context, like position on the field, but it seems to me you might be better off going for it.

Going up 6 takes the field goal out of play for the other team, but still gives them a chance to win. If you fail to convert 4th and short, then you're still tied if they end up with a field goal and still lose if they score a touchdown. (There also seems to be something about playing prevent defense and letting the other team march right down the field late, but that could be selective memory) But in this scenario, you've also used up slightly more clock and pinned them back on the field even more. And if you do convert, you almost assuredly win the game.

Choosing the additional field goal backfired against the Giants last night. Though that was very much due to the Manning throwaway, stopping the clock. But I also saw it in the Broncos-Ravens game, with the Broncos choosing to go up 6 despite a 4th and 3 at the Baltimore 15. Though again, different scenario as there was still 2:55 on the clock and Baltimore had 2 timeouts and had shown no ability the entire game of being able to pass the ball down the field.

22
by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:03am

The other thing a FG does is it gives the opponent clarity on how to approach their drive. I wouldn't be surprised if a study demonstrates that drives that need a TD result in one substantially more than those that only need a FG.

Yes, I understand any fourth down in in FG range almost certainly ends the TD chance for the 3 point deficit, but my hypothesis is that the disparity would be larger than just this factor can explain.

45
by bubqr :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:48am

The study has been done and it has been proven that offenses are significantly more efficient when down by 6 compared to down by 3. Can't find the link, it was probably on Advanced Football Analytics.

52
by deus01 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:59am

Being up 6 should be advantageous if coaches were always trying to maximize their chances of winning. Turns out they aren't when the other team is only up 3 and they would rather try to play for a tie by being too conservative. By having a 6 point lead you essentially remove the ability for a coach to make a bad decision.

46
by MJK :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:48am

I'm pretty sure I remember reading an article at Advanced Football Analytics (Burke's old website, now another victim of ESPN's tyranny), that showed that, assuming the next possession started at the 20 both times and there was time for just one more opposing drive, being up by 3 actually had a higher win probability than being up by 4-6. The reason was that in a large percentage of time, the other team would settle for a FG to tie the game, giving you a 50% chance to win in OT. But being up by 4-6 forced the other team to go for the TD, and so they played more aggressively and won more often.

It also depended, if I recall correctly, on the time left--the less time left, the more it favored kicking the FG to go up by 6. But on the other hand, the Giants would have forced Dallas to start on the 1 had they gone for it and failed, which would be worth something too.

51
by TADontAsk :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:57am

Thank for the replies!

I did find this article: http://www.advancedfootballanalytics.com/index.php/home/analysis/game-an...

But I'm still looking for the original that it alludes to.

81
by BJR :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:53pm

Burke was on twitter just this morning clarifying that his old (original) model exaggerated the 'up by 3' WP compared to 'up by 6', basically due to small sample size in the data, though the effect is still there.

26
by caj8585 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:05am

Kicking the FG to go up 6 and then losing on the subsequent TD is what led to the birth of Riverboat Ron; he lost to Buffalo in Week 2 of 2013 on that same sequence.

55
by Ryan D. :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:01pm

I came to post this exact same info.

2
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 9:35am

Anyone who has followed the Bears however casually could see the difference in coaching. The Bears issues yesterday were about guys ability to make the play versus being in the wrong place. The Trestman Bears were regularly out of position and many times surprised by things. Chicago yesterday knew what needed to be done but at times didn't have the guys to make things happen.

Really pleased with the Packers special teams yesterday. Good coverage work. Good returns. And hey, recovered the onside kick!

Sam Shields was terrible yesterday. Packer fans are writing this off to Shield's game being predicated on speed and the stadium turf being awful but even so Shields committed multiple penalties and save for one pass breakup was regularly getting beat.

Also wondering how patient the Packers will be with Nick Perry. The guy missed all camp (again) and was a non-factor yesterday. The Bears kept running to his side and getting big yardage and Perry could not hold the edge.

That interception by Matthews was impressive. He pulled a Woodson in diagnosing the play immediately and getting to the spot to make the pick. Amazing display

19
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 10:54am

Matthews was a great. Cutler assisted a little by staring the receiver down, but that was mostly just a terrific defensive play.

John Fox always provides, at a minimum, a baseline of competency, which is not to be uderrated.

3
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 9:44am

The Bears played better than I expected. If nothing else John Fox has brought some competency to all aspects of the game, so they're at least more enjoyable to watch.

Still, in a tight game late, you can almost always count on Cutler throwing a pick. He's like the common perception of Tony Romo made into reality.

5
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 9:51am

That was more a great play by Matthews than a gaffe by Cutler.

And Cutler was running for first downs and willing to either take a sack or throw it away on plays that were not open. I wonder how long this change will last

6
by TomC :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 10:08am

That's not a change. Cutler has always been willing, even eager, to tuck and run if it's man coverage and people's backs are turned.

I agree with most of what was said about that game already, except this (from Kurtz): "The Bears are getting a good rush from their front four on passing downs, which is heartening considering the past few years." I had 100% the opposite impression. They certainly never hit Rodgers, and the only times he had to scramble or throw the ball away were much more due to coverage than pressure. McPhee in particular was absolutely invisible (Allen never got home, but he was at least giving Bakhtiari some trouble). With that level of pass rush (i.e., non-existent), I would have guessed Rodgers would have thrown for 400 yards and 4 TDs, so either the Packers WRs behind Nelson are terrible (and/or Cobb is really hurt), or somebody gave the Bears secondary magic "you're not the worst in the NFL, at least this week" juice.

11
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 10:21am

The Packers only threw the ball 23 times. Rodgers was 18-23 and averaged 8.2 yards per attempt. What the Bears did take away was any deep shots. But it cost them in terms of Rodgers running and Lacey running

18
by dank067 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 10:54am

Bulaga has been terrific at RT from last season on so it was a tough assignment for McPhee. He did draw one hold, but yeah, not much else.

GB ran a somewhat vanilla offense (for them) yesterday, a result I think of Fangio keeping them guessing and not wanting to feature Cobb too much while he's banged up- 5 targets is pretty low for him. They were still very efficient but will need to ramp things up significantly for the pair of defenses they'll be facing the next two weeks.

78
by jtr :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:48pm

I don't know how much production we should even expect from McPhee. When he was playing well with the Ravens, he was a situational pass rusher, attacking interior gaps from disguised looks while offenses had to worry about two big threats coming off the edges. Now he's a staring OLB, asked to just line up and beat a tackle, which I think is a much more demanding role. I thought he was an overpay by the Bears from the start.

10
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 10:17am

Ah, the paradox of Cutler:

1. He's far better than the McCown/Fitzpatrick-level 'veteran mentors' of the world...
2. But that's still not good enough to lead a serious contender.
3. He's far better than most highly-drafted rookies will be...
4. But that's still not good enough to lead a serious contender...
5. And he's not going to get any better.

20
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:01am

It's not Cutler's fault that Phil Emery offered him $54,000,000 guaranteed. To be fair to Emery, short of getting lucky, nobody really knows how manage the qb cap situation.

58
by Eddo :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:10pm

Independent George, that is the most beautifully succinct and accurate description of the Cutler situation I've ever seen. Bravo.

61
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:25pm

The best way I can think of it is to imagine the Bears and Cowboys switching qbs. I think the Cowboys would get significantly worse, and the Bears a lot better.

(edit) And their contracts are similar.

82
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:55pm

I've been defending Cutler for years, largely because he is better than almost any other QB the Bears are likely to get their hands on, but last season seemed like a good opportunity to blow the team up and start over.

Cutler's not as bad as people say, but he's not good enough, and he's 32 years old. Their Bears' best-case scenario for the next 2-3 years is 11-5 with a divisional round loss, and more likely 8-8 and missing the playoffs.

85
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 1:15pm

At the same time if Cutler doesn't tear his MCL in the NFC Championship game against Green Bay then the Bears probably win that Superbowl title. Then the view on him is very different.

91
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 1:27pm

If one believes the numbers the Packers were the better team that season. Better offense. Better defense suprisingly. Though the Bears had a significant edge on special teams.

And this being Mike McCarthy he pretty much shut down the offense once Cutler got hurt and then when the Bears kept scrapping Rodgers got a concussion on a helmet to helmet hit by Peppers which sent his accuracy down the drain the remainder of the game. To be clear that is just a recounting of the facts. No suggestion or implication of Peppers being 'dirty' or any such nonsense.

98
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 1:46pm

I don't buy for one second that McCarthy shut down the offense, the Pack only won that game by a pick six from a defensive tackle. Nobody shuts down their offense when they're not even winning.

108
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 2:29pm

Ha,ha. You have not seen Mike McCarthy in action on a regular basis. Did you miss the this year's NFC Championship game?

And per Cutler himself he hurt the knee the second to last series of the first half. By that time GB was up 14-0.

I suspect this is a sore point so not looking for a fight. Just sharing the facts that are available.

110
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 2:32pm

Do you have a source for that statement by Cutler? I thought he hurt it when hit on the outside of his knee by a GB player.

And, no it's not a sore point, I'm not a Bears fan.

111
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 2:35pm

espn article:

Cutler said he injured his knee on the second-to-last series in the first half and then aggravated it on the next series.

"We gave it a go that first series [in the second half], but I really couldn't plant and throw," he said. "So they kind of pulled me.

http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/nfl/news/story?id=6054047

I am no good with inserting links. Sorry

121
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:08pm

Well the article says Cutler hurt it then but without a quote from him, if Cutler said that then why not run that quote?

I thought he hurt it earlier, this quote doesn't confirm it either way, "Bears center Olin Kreutz was not surprised, and he said he could see Cutler's leg shaking during a huddle in the second quarter."

I've just looked at the game, noting the plays where he might have hurt a knee. I'm pretty certain it's the first play of the second quarter where Pickett hits him from the outside of his knee as it's planting. The next play he hands off to Forte and then looks down at his knee. On the next possession he's almost hopping around as he can't put any weight on it.

129
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:43pm

The article quotes Cutler. If you read the article he says he hurt it as described in the second to last series before the half.

Directly from the article. I think you mistook my cut and paste as not quoting. The below is a direct quotation from the article

Cutler said he injured his knee on the second-to-last series in the first half and then aggravated it on the next series.

"We gave it a go that first series [in the second half], but I really couldn't plant and throw," he said. "So they kind of pulled me.

"I was going to keep playing. But they made the decision that giving Todd [Collins] a shot would better suit the team."

132
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:50pm

Yes the article quotes Cutler but not about that. I did read it. Why when that's the relevant bit? The writer did not have a quote from Cutler about exactly when he was injured.

If you have that NFL rewind thing then go and watch it, it's clearly the first play of the second quarter.

135
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:54pm

I gave the relevant statement from the article twice. Either you don't believe the writer or are not following.

The article states (meaning NOT my words):

"Cutler said he injured his knee on the second-to-last series in the first half and then aggravated it on the next series."

Back to me again. What more do you want? The guy who suffered the injury is stating when he got hurt?

Anyway, this has become a fruitless discussion. I won't waste any more of your time

137
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 4:10pm

This is the section you are talking about:

"For them to question his toughness is stupid to me."

Cutler said he injured his knee on the second-to-last series in the first half and then aggravated it on the next series. {This is the bit that isn't a quote, the bit that really needs to be.}

"We gave it a go that first series [in the second half], but I really couldn't plant and throw," he said. "So they kind of pulled me.

"I was going to keep playing. But they made the decision that giving Todd [Collins] a shot would better suit the team."

There is no quote from Cutler saying WHEN he got hurt. Lots of other quotes, none concerning that, which suggests that the writer had no such quote to use and made his own judgement as to when the injury occurred because if he did have such a quote he'd have used it. So there is no quote from Cutler there about that is there?

142
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 5:21pm

which suggests that the writer had no such quote to use and made his own judgement as to when the injury occurred because if he did have such a quote he'd have used it. So there is no quote from Cutler there about that is there?

Or, perhaps because the actual quote makes for lousy copy - like if it went like this:

Q: When did you get hurt? Was it at the end of the half?
A: Yeah, it was... I think - the last one? No, before that. The one before.

-OR-

Q: Did you hurt your knee before halftime?
A: Yes.
Q: The last series?
A: Before that.
Q: The 2nd to last series?
A: Yes

You can delete "umms", but you can't re-write a sentence and put it in quotes. In those situations, the best practice is to summarize rather than quoting directly.

143
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 5:55pm

The reporter could paraphrase "Cutler indicated he was hurt on the second to final drive" or something to that effect. I think citing sources is journalism 101.

176
by Eddo :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 10:55am

The reporter did paraphrase. From the article: "Cutler said he injured his knee on the second-to-last series in the first half and then aggravated it on the next series."

150
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 6:28pm

If you have rewind then you can watch the game, scoot ahead to the start of the second quarter and you'll see Cutler get hit on the knee and then look at it as if hurt after the next snap. Then he looks like he cannot stand up properly with the resultant inability to throw the ball. That's right there on the footage.

More to the point, I actually don't care. I only mentioned it to make a small point about how his career might be viewed differently if the Bears win that game. I also don't care about the (frankly, totally absurd) suggestion that that the Packers stopped trying to score in a close game or if any Packers fans are upset that there might be the slightest sodding possibility that they weren't a team of destiny that would win that Super Bowl even if they had to play hordes of acid spitting demons in the final. It was a throwaway comment and I never had the slightest intention of rehashing the whole damn game.

169
by SandyRiver :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 9:08am

Maybe the journalist got the statement right, but that Cutler's memory was wrong?

172
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 10:03am

There is nothing attributed to Cutler about when he got hurt. So not sure how his memory is involved.

177
by Eddo :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 10:55am

From the article: "Cutler said he injured his knee on the second-to-last series in the first half and then aggravated it on the next series."

180
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 11:33am

Crap, I did miss that.

128
by dank067 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:36pm

Pack were up 14-0 at half in that NFCCG, as well as through three quarters, and that pick six put them up 21-7. I'm with big10, I actually texted a friend during last year's game in Seattle saying how much that game reminded me of that one to that point.

Unfortunately they didn't have the fortune of facing Caleb Hanie (and Todd Collins!) the second time around.

134
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:53pm

But part of the reason the Bears hadn't scored it because Cutler had been playing on one leg for a quarter, missing all sorts of easy throws that even his harshest critic would expect him to make.

Without the pick 6 the Bears would have needed to score once more than they did with Hanie, I don't think that's a stretch at all. The Bears' D was in total control of that game after the first two GB drives.

138
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 4:11pm

Well, the Packers scored on their first and fourth drives of the game so not sure about that assessment.

Then the Bears drove after the Packers score from their 34 to the Packers 31 before punting on 3rd and 12 with Cutler running for a yard.

Then the Packers drove from their 20 to the Bears 36 before punting.

AFter the Bears punt the Packers go from their 36 to the Bears 41 before an interception where the ball bounced off Driver's foot.

Then it's halftime.

After the Bears punt on their first possession GB drives from their 17 to the Bears 6 when Urlacher makes a great pick and return

I will stop now but I am struggling to see where the Packers offense was dominated. And after the second interception Mike shut things down with very conservative playcalling. He got to the 4th quarter with a 2 TD lead and wasn't going to risk anything.

139
by dank067 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 4:17pm

I think we agree somewhat but I'm coming at it more from the standpoint that the Packers went extremely conservative too early and it didn't cost them against what was the Bears JV offense at that point.

I thought the Packers continued to move the ball pretty well into the third quarter, then Rodgers threw that pick in the end zone and from there I thought they shut it down. Not to say that the Bears don't get any credit- they made those plays too. They also held the Packers to 10 points three weeks earlier. (The Bears of course could only muster 3.)

160
by Steve in WI :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:36pm

Honestly, I can't say with confidence that the Bears would have even won that game with a healthy Cutler, but I do believe they'd have had a shot.

My feelings on Cutler now are in line with what Independent George said in reply #82, and I think the criticism that he has not worked to improve mental mistakes is a fair one. That said, I feel like Cutler is a player whose career might be discussed totally differently if not for a few specific events. The NFC championship game is one, obviously. Then there's the injury the year the Bears were 7-3 and would probably have at least made the playoffs if he didn't get hurt (or even if they'd had a mediocre backup instead of Caleb Hanie). He had the misfortune of playing behind a terrible offensive line for several years and a coordinator who didn't feel the need to adjust for a poor O-line for two of those years. And speaking of coordinators, one of the knocks against Cutler is that he's a coach killer, but jeez, look at the names: Ron Turner, Mike Martz, Mike Tice, Aaron Kromer. If the coordinators were going on to lead successful offenses after leaving Chicago. (Obviously Martz gets credit for what he did a decade before, but he was a bad choice for Chicago). All of that sounds like excuse-making, maybe, and I don't think there's any alternate reality where Cutler is a great QB, but I do think if circumstances were different he'd be viewed more like a Matt Ryan-level QB instead of a huge disappointment.

Regarding yesterday's game, I was pleasantly surprised that it was competitive (pleasantly until I contemplated the Bears going 7-9 this year and missing the chance to draft a QB, anyway). The Packers are so obviously superior, talent wise, on both sides of the ball that 31-23 doesn't look bad to me. The interception made me groan more because of how it reinforces the narrative rather than because I thought the Bears had a chance to win. (BTW, I heard on the radio last week that Rodgers had a 106 passer rating against the Bears going into the game. While his career doesn't exactly coincide with Cutler's tenure, I would point to that as a large part of why Cutler has only won one game against the Packers).

164
by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 2:59am

Not sure if the better quarterbacks go that high next year. Some idiot is going to love Hackenberg (He has Bortles written all over him, except that Bortles has a better idea of what he's doing), Connor Cook is massively overrated, and Brissett and Goff play on teams that are overmatched at most other positions. They might still get a franchise quarterback picking in the middle of the first round.

185
by Independent George :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 1:00pm

While on the subject of what might have been, let's go with the obvious one: Shanahan getting fired.

Rorshan might be a raging egomaniac with no care for such paltry subjects as 'defense', 'nepotism', and 'physical therapy', but he knows how to coach QBs. How different might things have gone if instead of his next head coach didn't try to force his rocket-armed QB into a short-passing offense, and then try to trade him for Matt Cassell?

87
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 1:16pm

The guy has driven me nuts because he has zero learning curve. Even the most bullheaded talented guys, like Stubbleface, could reduce their dumb habits, when pushed hard, like Holmgren and McCarthy did. Hell, even The Chiller did ok by coaching Favre. Smokin' Jay is gonna' Smokin' Jay, however, no matter the results.

96
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 1:42pm

And that's one of the most frustrating things about watching Cutler - he's just physically so gifted that you want to believe he'll learn the mental side of the game and make the jump, but he never does.

I'm trying to think of his Denver days, under Shannahan; I don't remember him being nearly as frustrating to watch, but:

1. Memory is inherently faulty
2. I might have been making a mental 'young QB' adjustment
3. He had a much better offense on every level

I think of Stubbleface as the Barry Sanders of QBs. It's easy to deride his boom-or-bust tendencies, but the fact was that his booms were far bigger, and occurred far more often than his busts.

99
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 1:48pm

I think that his Denver days also got a 'defense is abysmal/Shannahan sacks DC again' adjustment.

101
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 1:53pm

People understandably became really, really, tired of the Stubbleface media hype, which was just ridicuoulsy stupid, but that caused a lot of folks to concentrate way too much on the Stubbleface coached by the likes of Ray Rhodes and Mike Sherman, and forget what the jeans modeling was like when he had a coach who was willing to get confrontational. Favre's behavior was modifiable, if you hit'em between the eyes with a two by four.

102
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 2:07pm

It had been well over a year since I visited, but I wanted a laugh, so clicked.....

http://smokinjaycutler.tumblr.com/

..... and proceeded to guffaw for 5 minutes. Yeah, I'm an idiot....

112
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 2:38pm

Then there's this classic:

http://www.thedrawplay.com/comic/the-dont-care-bear-gets-benched/

The whole series is here, but it's kind of uneven:

http://www.thedrawplay.com/tag/jay-cutler/

157
by Dan_L :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 7:13pm

I think you have Fitzpatrick underrated here. In the past three years their DYARs are practically equal and Fitzpatrick has had the higher DVOA two out of the three (both have been between 13 and 27 in DVOA for all of these years). I know that DVOA/DYAR are within an offense and system, but do we really think Bears 2012-2014 is a worse situation than Buffalo 2012, Tennessee 2013, Houston 2014? It seems to me that Cutler and Fitzpatrick are pretty similar, and both of them fit all these statements if you make it the "McCown / Whitehurst" level.

191
by Mr Shush :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 4:37pm

Fitzpatrick's pretty awful. O'Brian and the Texans went a long, long way to paper over his deficiencies last season, and he still got benched for Ryan Mallett (who promptly got hurt).

4
by SFC B :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 9:45am

Thankfully the Chiefs-Texans game goes unremarked upon. Watt picks up 2 saks and 4 other TFL. I am saddened at the thought the Texans are going to spend the best years of the NFL's best defensive player putzing through New England's QB rejects.

8
by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 10:13am

On this beautiful Rosh Hashanah morning, I can't tell you how much I'm kvelling at the fact that FO readers are picking up on my use of the word "putzing" as a verb.

86
by Mr Shush :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 1:16pm

Mallett did at least look like a huge improvement over Hoyer. Not that there aren't many problems with Mallett, but at least there are things to like too. I'm not sure I saw anything to like in Hoyer. An offense that consists of running a lot and occasionally throwing the ball really hard in the general direction of DeAndre Hopkins, regardless of coverage, might actually be good enough to make the playoffs. One based on gently wafting passes to seemingly random spots on the field which the QB can't see but hopes might contain a receiver does not.

109
by SFC B :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 2:30pm

Where my beer-fueld depression yesterday came from was the realization that durng the offseason people in the Texans front office looked at their QB situation and went "Brian Hoyer is going to be our answer" and then they spent actual money on him. Then the coach, after seeing both of them, plus Tom Savage, thoughout a whole preseason went "Brian Hoyer has demonstrated he's better than Ryan Mallett".

You're right that at least Mallett might offer enough variance that, hopefully, he doesn't implode more often than he does implode. Hoyer has no chance of being anything but subpar. He at least had the decency to do it from the gate and not suck too little until game 8.

116
by jtr :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 2:53pm

It could be worse, they could have turned to a 36-year-old career backup coming off a comically inept season in Tampa

125
by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:27pm

That 36 year old backup was playing fine until Calvin Pryor decided to finish things off at the goal line. The real problem for the Texans is that Mallett is more talented, but doesn't have his head on straight. He slept in and missed a meeting the day after he learned Hoyer got the job. At least Geno Smith apologized immediately when he missed the meeting in San Diego last year. Mallett has been a talented idiot for a while now.

140
by cstoos :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 4:25pm

KC was in prevent the whole time Mallett was in. The TD throw was good, but Hoyer had one or two good ones as well.

I'm not saying he played bad, but you need to put it in context.

192
by Mr Shush :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 4:41pm

I'm aware of that (and I also have the whole of Mallett's two games last year to go off, too, although he was pretty clearly injured and consequently awful against the Colts). But I'm not so much making a vote of confidence in Mallett (who may well suck pretty hard) as a vote of no confidence in Hoyer (who I'm now almost certain sucks pretty hard).

7
by TomC :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 10:10am

The DPI call on DRC was absolutely inexcusable. I was gearing up to rant about the DPI call late in the Bears/Packers game that put the game away, but this trumped it in awfulness by quite a margin.

8
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 10:13am

Are you stating the DPI against the Bears defender when covering James Jones was not DPI?

104
by TomC :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 2:10pm

I do believe that, especially in the context of what was not called the rest of the game, that was not DPI.

12
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 10:21am

I'm going to wait a couple more games before making decisions on Manning. I thought his arm actually looked good early, that was just an insane defensive performance by both teams. I think the 'both teams' is important there. The Broncos played terrible on offense, against a playoff team, and won because that defense is fantastic.

As for the other games, the Panthers continue to be a really stout defense, and the Saints continue to be an incredibly frustrating team. If Atlanta loses tonight, after one week guess who's in first place in the NFC South.

Looks like Rex Ryan is perfectly replicating the '09 Jets, down to beating a favorite in Week 1 with a good offense.

As for teh Giants, obviously the clock management was a disaster, but why did the clock stop on the declined penalty offsides on 3rd down?

I don't know why the clock would stop on an accepted penalty if that benefits the perpetrating team, but on a DECLINED penalty?

16
by deus01 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 10:31am

The Broncos have always played poorly against tight coverage. The short/medium throws looked okay to me but there were accuracy issues on the deep attempts. It was a small sample size though (and the deep pass to Sanders late on which he was held was on target). Bronco's D looks good but needs to be able to keep up the pass rush in the 4th.

I'm always surprised given how close games in the NFL and how high the stakes of an individual games are that teams don't employ someone to get clock management right. Some of it is definitely on the head coach, but they have other things to worry about and the optimal strategy isn't always trivial. Having said that, it was pretty clear that the Giants messed up royally at the end, as they missed draining another 20 seconds after the penalty and could have taken the sack at the end.

21
by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:01am

As a Jets I have a bad feeling that Rex is replicating the 2001 Patriots: ex-Jet coach starting 6th round pick at qb, solid defense, etc. Hopefully that feeling goes away.

62
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:26pm

I thought Manning's arm looked ok, but his timing is all off. He's also missing receivers in a way he never use to. Brady's throws to the outside are no longer even decent, but his throws to the inside and even deeper middle are still good. Manning didn't really even attempt medium throws to the inside, to say nothing of the overthrows to the outside.

I really really wanted to avoid a season of him being broken down.

70
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:33pm

He missed on several deeps in the opener last year, then came back to be pretty Peyton-like for a while, before the wheels fell apart. If they could run like a better Kubiak offense, I think he'd be fine. I don't think they can do that.

73
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:34pm

Obviously, I'm biased, an unabashed Manning fan, so this is the apologist in me talking, but I want to give it another week.

The Ravens played at a really high level, and that defensive atmosphere permeated both teams in that game.

And even on the one big missed play, the potential TD right before half, the ball was sharp and didn't seem to float - he just missed it a half yard long. That is a contrast to the AFC Divisional Round where they were floating badly.

He may be shot, but I think he'll still look miles better than he did against the Ravens, who were incredibly prepared for that game.

126
by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:29pm

I haven't noticed Brady's throws to the outside being off lately, to be honest, I haven't noticed much of a drop off in him at all. If you don't get pressure/sack him 4 times in a game, he'll still kill you.

145
by RickD :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 6:20pm

Brady's outside throws are still great. His issues are with passes more than 20 yards downfield. He cannot hit a small window downfield the way Rodgers/Roethlisberger/Flacco can. But with the offense built around Edelman and Gronk, that's not their game anyway.

149
by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 6:26pm

He's always been fairly inaccurate on his longer throws; considering how many Super Bowls the guy has won, I'd take that flaw with all other great stuff (decision making, timing, pocket presence) that goes with it.

155
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 6:44pm

I meant his sideline down the field throws. He exhibits the same overthrowing that Manning does. His middle of the field throws are still good, though that could be the gronk effect.

94
by rageon :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 1:37pm

Any observations occured during the same 102-degree-fever-induced-confusion that lead me to think it was genius to drop Tyler Eifert moments before the Bengels game.

- Was not impressed by Peyton at all yesterday. I don't really put the sacks on him, as the ones I remembered were more of the "hit the deck, nobody blocked him!" variety. But everything else just seemed off. If he's had a problem with tipped passes the last few years, I don't remember it, and there were a few of them yesterday as well. His touch was just terrible and it didn't look like he had as much drive behind the ball as in the past. If his name wasn't Peyton F'ing Manning, there may be calls to Unleash The Brock sooner rather than later.

- Denver's offensive line did not look good. I'm very curious to see if Kubiak/Dennison can turn two very good guards and three "just guys" into something serviceable.

- As bad as Denver's offense was, their defense was every more good. And that was without one of their better interior lineman (Woolf) and a very good safety (Ward). Whatever anti-aging serum D.Ware is taking, I'd like some. Blocking him and Miller is not something most teams are going to be able to do. Harris and Talib looked as good as they should, and getting Trevathan back will be a huge boost as what what probably their weakest spot last season. If they stay health, there's no reason Denver can't have a top 3-5 defense. Which they may well need to stay a playoff team.

- At least Peyton has some weapons to work with on offense. Flacco really has nothing. Is Baltimore really going to be able to score enough points with a good line, average QB, below average RB, and almost nothing at WR/TE? I could see that being a big issue for the Ravens. A little of the same goes for the Cowboys if Dex is out for too long. While their QB and line are better than the Raven's, they really could use some actual receiving options.

- I wish the Bills were on locally more often (or ever), very curious to see what Rex is doing with that defense.

13
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 10:27am

If you can call for a fair catch on an onside kick, why not do it all the time? The ball is live on a kickoff off course so you're not guaranteed posession, but why not take the 15 yard penalty if you recover?

14
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 10:29am

You cannot call a fair catch if the ball is kicked so that it hits the ground and then bounces in the air. The kick yesterday was definitely pooched into the air so the fair catch was available.

What was missed was the receiver getting drilled by Seattle since it was a fair catch

17
by deus01 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 10:34am

It was really strange how they missed that call after they reversed the original bad call. Of course it was Triplette so they were going to get something wrong.

I also didn't really think the receiver was waving for the fair catch so much as was telling his teammates "I got it" but I don't know how you would separate those gestures.

28
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:09am

It is astounding that Jeff Triplette is still paid by the NFL to officiate games. Apparently, he'll need to attach a hand grenade to a penalty flag, and pull the pin on it, prior to tossing it, on a blown call, of course, before his job will be in jeopardy.

31
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:13am

In a league where

Johnny Football is a paid QB
Goodell is commish
Nantz is flagship announcer
Mike Tomlin is a Head Coach
Peter King is the flagship "writer"
Pete Crisco is an "expert"
.... etc

nothing is astounding.

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

36
by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:41am

I know you won't agree, but Johnny Football and Mike Tomlin occasionally have really good plays, where they show off the semblance of competence. Everyone else on that list, including Triplette, does not show any potential for being good at their job.

115
by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 2:51pm

That's not fair. Peter King is great at giving access to the human element of the game.

He's just completely out of his element when asked to understand the actual game play, and is miscast as an expert. But hell, everyone gets asked questions as if they know what they're talking about. Schefter and John Clayton have mailbags too. They're freaking reporters, not analysts.

15
by Tim R :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 10:31am

If the ball hits the ground first you can't call a fair catch. Thats why most onside kicks are kicked into the turf.

29
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:10am

Given the amazing level of skill the guys have, I'm amazed they don't occasionally try to just rocket one straight into an unsuspecting chump.

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

23
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:03am

If it's all over for Sugs, I won't really shed a tear as he routinely destroys the Steelers OL, but I hate to see players get hurt, even the most annoying of opponents and rivals.

24
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:04am

BTW, site admins, somehow spelling his name with two "g" generates a "spam" flag.

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

35
by JIPanick :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:37am

A couple of years ago a spam-bot got on here trying to sell Uggs. That's probably why.

163
by Jeff88 :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 2:40am

Uggs?... you sure that wasn't Brady?

187
by JIPanick :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 3:40pm

I don't think he needs to supplement his income with internet spam, haha.

However, this will be the third post in a row that says Uggs without triggering the filter, so maybe I was wrong.

189
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 4:30pm

Aaron can disable the spam filter for specific posters. There was a thread about it once upon a time.

196
by dbostedo :: Wed, 09/16/2015 - 12:14pm

I think I was on that list... let me check : Uggs and Suggs

76
by jtr :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:43pm

It's gotta be over for T-Sizzle as we know him. If he comes back next year he'll be 33 years old nursing an injury that a lot of young men never recover from. I'm sure the Ravens will have him if he wants to come back, but there's no way he's a disruptive every-down player after this.

25
by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:04am

Mariota is the first quarterback to earn a perfect passer rating in his first NFL game.

30
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:13am

The first since Tarkenton to throw that many tds in his 1st start as a rookie. I didn't like him or Winston at the top of the 1st round. So far, I'm half right.

32
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:16am

if Bradford bombs tonight the Philly fans are going to go ballistic

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

148
by RickD :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 6:24pm

Neither Tennessee nor Tampa was willing to trade their pick. Hard to see how that's Chip Kelly's fault.

33
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:25am

Agreed on Winston but I thought (and still think) MM has a chance to be a pretty good qb.

Unless Winston gets a Mike Holmgren type in his life I don't see him developing the mechanics/technique to be successful.

39
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:44am

By my rough count, Winston threw a grand total of one pass with his feet set in the first half, and it was a really nice throw to Vincent Jackson. Every other pass was off-balance or falling off his back foot. I expect rookie struggles, but the simple level of how awful Winston's mechanics were was really shocking. Two picks in his first game isn't a shock, but two picks, several other should-have-been picks, a pair of fumbled snaps, and horrible mechanics was a shock.

I have to give Whisenhunt credit; he created an offense for Mariota that made it easy and played to his strengths. Quick, short passes, didn't have to make lots of reads, just stayed very efficient. It was greatly helped by the fact that Tampa's pass rush is still a steaming pile of garbage and the LBs (which were supposed to be a big strength) were completely lost. Terrible secondary play as well, Verner just got torched repeatedly.

71
by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:34pm

From watching Winston, he's a more aggressive EJ Manuel with somewhat better accuracy. His mechanics are flat-out awful, and I don't see them getting any better behind that line.

83
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 1:01pm

I'd respond to that, but, after reading it, I'll be way too busy convulsing and vomiting repeatedly.

I think Winston's arm is significantly better that Manuel's, and, from what I've seen, Winston is an excellent QB when he sets up and plays calm and relaxed, but, yeah, behind that line, it's going to be ugly.

I think Tampa's offensive line committed seven or eight penalties yesterday. They were brutal.

133
by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:51pm

If Winston's arm is better than Manuel's, it would be Favre-ian, and I haven't seen that. Manuel routinely casually flicks the ball 40 yards. Unfortunately, a lot his 10 yard throws are with the same velocity and touch.

Winston has a higher upside - and Manuel still has the potential to be better than he has been. They both remind me of McNabb, though, in that there's always going to be maddening moments of brainlock no matter how good they get.

117
by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 2:55pm

I think Winston is 1000% of Manuel mentally.

136
by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:56pm

Maybe, although I think Manuel (who I'm a fan of, so this comparison isn't as bad as MD thinks) gets a little short-changed in that department. I think Winston's a little quicker with his reads and a LOT quicker with his decisions. I just think Winston's mechanics are going to get him in a lot of trouble.

151
by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 6:34pm

Isn't inaccuracy Manuel's problem in the pros? I haven't noticed him doing really foolish things in the NFL, like Sanchez or Geno Smith would occasionally do, or like's Winston's backwards fumble against Oregon. He just has problems throwing the pass where it's supposed to go. Just as people gripe that Geno Smith is inaccurate, when the real problem is his inability to read a defense quickly enough.

Winston is a better prospect than either Smith or Manuel, but 1) he needs to keep his head screwed on straight and work hard, and 2) work out any kinks with his technique, throwing motion, etc. Even though Mariota looked great in his first game, both quarterbacks would ideally have sat for a while first, before being thrown into the fire. Hundley may be in the best position of all of the 2015 quarterbacks to succeed, just because he can learn from Rogers for a while.

167
by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 6:48am

Wasn't the whole "young QBs develop better after spending time on the bench 'learning'" thing debunked? My impression was that there were plenty of successes and failures from both schools. A lot more depends on context (good coaching, not being drafted by Washington, etc)

182
by Kal :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 12:48pm

Yeah. Basically being able to sit on the bench is beneficial because it means you're on a good team with solid coaching that can afford it. It doesn't appear to have a lot to do with actual development.

186
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 1:44pm

I don't see how "there are examples of different things working including X" means that X is debunked.

It's just really hard to develop a QB, and I suspect you need a custom approach based on each situation.

188
by theslothook :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 3:53pm

Can you know those ex ante? And don't those inevitably lead to post hoc fallacies? We can say Palmer succeeded because he sat but Alex Smith and Eli were horrendous as rookie starters and managed to pull through it. I don't think there is any way we can sufficiently answer this question.

As an aside, greg cosell mentioned something that is absolutely true. An incumbent veteran has like a two game leash before the calls from the media/ownership become too onerous to not start the rookie.

190
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 4:32pm

I agree that we can't sufficiently answer the question (and I don't think Alex Smith is proof of anything), but that specifically means we haven't debunked the answers either.

Also, kowtowing to media pressure is the worst thing a coach can do.

40
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:44am

I generally had a good impression of Mariotta, but I just was uneasy at taking him at the top of the 1st, given he'd done so little of the typical NFL qb stuff in college, and usually had such huge windows to throw to at Oregon. With Winston, in addition to the immaturity off the field, a guy who tosses that may INTs, when typically enjoying a huge advantage in terms of talent surrounding him, well, it just seems obvious he's in for a very rude awakening once he starts playing against opponents who are all very, very, good. Yeah, he needs Holmgren-style hard, hard (really hard) coaching, and his head coach's focus is on the other side of the ball, with a so-so track record at best, at hiring offensive assistants. Koetter has had some success, however.

49
by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:50am

Perhaps he realizes now that you can't just stink the first half and then come back in the NFL.

27
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:07am

that should be the "last straw" for PacHole.
ban him, Goodell.

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

34
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:32am

Manning will not last until Thanksgiving if the Broncos continue to average 3 yards per rush. I wonder how often a Peyton qbed team has won with Peyton not tossing a td pass.

From what I saw of Ducassse last year, it isn't worth tossing away Long's performance as a guard, to get Long's performance as a tackle, for the honor of having ol' Vladimir starting for you. Then again, the Bears ran pretty well yesterday.

I don't like Luck's career situation, outside of his obvious talent. He may be on the precipice of being chronically attached to incompetence. At the end of this year, he'll have put about 20-21 million in the bank. Hopefully, he can get through the next 31 games uninjured, and he'll have put about 46-47 million in the bank. I think I'd rather be looking at the franchise tag in 2017, telling the boob of an owner who have been incredibly lucky for the past 20 years, that I'll sit out rather than play for him any longer.

38
by big10freak :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:44am

I don't know the officiating crew's history, but both sides were able to offensively and defensively hold pretty regularly. Only egregious situations were called. Meaning that a lineman had to tackle the defender, and the defender had to rip away the receiver's jersey.

Easy example was on one of his sacks Peppers was being dragged to the ground by the Bears lineman but no flag. The same type of example could be used against several Packer defensive backs.

50
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:53am

Yeah, I guess it was opening day for the zebras as well.

Vikings are 2-3 point favorites on the road tonight. I know the Niners defense has taken some losses, but I really don't think the Horned Heads are going to be able to block anybody tonight, and it will be a continuing theme all season, especially on the road. I'd take the home dog, and it isn't a hard choice.

Unless 28 is still 28, which would cover all mannner of glaring weaknesses. I think he'll be good, but past his peak, and thus not good enough.

84
by coremill :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 1:10pm

I don't understand that line at all. I guess the public HATES SF right now, and SF had that terrible off-season, and the Vikes have been a popular off-season sleeper pick, so maybe pick-em or SF-1 would make some sense, but giving points on the road against half-decent opposition? The Vikes weres 7-9 last year, 25th in DVOA, and 2-6 on the road with one of their road wins an OT win over TB (one of the league's three worst teams by most measures). Even DVOA projections, which like Minn (projected 4.4%) much more than SF (-.3.8), suggest the line should be something like SF -1.5.

How does Minn -2 make sense? What am I missing?

89
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 1:22pm

It's all just the mindless football public getting enamored of the Vikings, because 28 is back, and the football media talking about them, while the Niners have had one negative story after another in the news. Nobody's paying attention to the fact that the Vikings are starting a career backup at center, a guy who has stunk for two years at left tackle, a guy who is switching from right to left center, and a guy at right tackle who was picked in the 4th round 120 days ago.

95
by rageon :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 1:41pm

Seems like every one of the Vikings-related conversations (and there are a lot of them here in NoDak) end with some variation on "well, if their o-line is even remotely decent, they will be very good." People liking them a lot makes a little sense in that their biggest weakness is the spot most people don't pay any attention to. But the fact remains, if they get any decent line play, they are going to be a very, very good team for a few years. That said, I'm not optimistic about that line.

43
by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:45am

As a Jets fan, I really don't need to see Ducasse starting on any team unless the Jets are playing them.

I know everyone wants to go off on the Colt's owner, but he hasn't been a terrible owner the last 20 years. He pulled them out of the morass his father put them in, largely by hiring Polian. Hiring Grigson looks like a mistake though, but I wouldn't write off the Colts simply because the Bills may be for real.

60
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:18pm

"Not as bad an owner as Robert Irsay" is in the "Not as bad a starting qb as Ryan Lindley" neighborhood of compliments. Yes, he was able to see Polian's performance in Buffalo and Carolina, and make a good choice, but I wonder how history would read if the Chargers and Colts draft order was reversed. It's really easy to look competent when you have prime time Peyton Manning for a decade and a half.

I think the Bills are good, very good on defense. I think if the Colts had Brian Hoyer as their starting qb, they'd win about 2 or 3 games.

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by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:30pm

Disagree on Irsay. He had a good run. He has been a better owner than Woody Johnson, who is mediocre, and not terrible as some would say on this site. He's better than what Buffalo had for the past 8 years, with Wilson dying, and Miami's ownership situation. I'd take him over Mike Brown, the Browns' criminal, possibly Khan from the Jaguars (not sure about the Houston and Tennesee franchises), the San Diego owner who's trying to move to Los Angeles and probably Mark Davis. That's just the AFC, and there are a couple of owner situations there I know little about and cannot judge (Houston, Tennesee, Kansas City.)

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by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:52pm

I'll give him credit for hiring Polian, and having the number 1 pick in the two years it was really, really, really good to have the number 1 pick. If he blows this chance with Luck, it'll be fair to put him in the camp of uglies you mention.

120
by Ben :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:04pm

I'm biased as a Colts fan, but I don't have much of an issue with Irsay as an owner. His substance abuse issues certainly don't reflect well on the team. He certainly wants to have a winning team, but it seems like for the most part he signs the checks and lets the football guys make the football decisions. That's pretty much I want in an owner.

Certainly is still a big question whether he made the right choice with Grigson, but I'll give Irsay some credit for not just looking at retreads.

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by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:46pm

I wouldn't be too hard on Khan. He bought a franchise that was in shambles, and has steadfastly refused any temptation to move it to a bigger market. He also stays out of the football operations (although his son trying to insist they should give Blaine Gabbert another chance is the one stain on that resume).

I think not moving the team and staying out of the way of your front office are two hallmarks of good ownership. I'm not saying Shahid Khan is one of the great owners, just that I wouldn't call him terrible quite yet.

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by Mr Shush :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 1:24pm

McNair in Houston's pretty much a model owner. Happy to spend money, doesn't interfere in football matters, shows patience with coaches and GMs. If anything, some might argue he's patient to a fault. He is quite old, but his son is being groomed to take over and shows no sign of disagreeing with this fundamentally sane approach.

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by Kevin from Philly :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:46pm

Well, there's a limit to everything - Jeff Lurie held on to Andy Reid a few years too many, because he didn't want to look like Dan Snyder.

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by ChrisS :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 5:07pm

I think William Clay Ford took not interfering with the front office to the highest level of dysfunction. So yes it can become a problem.

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by duh :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 6:36pm

I'm curious since you said he held on to Reid for a 'few years too many' when you think he should have been fired?

44
by James-London :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:47am

3yds per carry is ugly, but 4ypa passing isn't prettier. It's only week one, but Denver better hope the Ravens D really is a good as it looked last night. It will be a long season otherwise

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

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by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:59am

The Kubiak offense can't pass if it only gets 3 yards a carry, although if Manning had been more accurate on deeper routes or while on a bootleg (mismatch between offense and qb aside), the game would have been much easier to win.

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by James-London :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:05pm

That's fair, although there was much more Manning offense (3WR, 1TE, Shotgun/pistol), than Kubiak last night, and that offense couldn't pass either.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

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by TADontAsk :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 1:42pm

I wouldn't worry about the running game until we see more games. Baltimore consistently has a top notch run defense. Even if they lose guys (Haloti Ngata) they have capable players ready to go. Their coaching staff usually has those guys prepared. Plus, it didn't help that the Broncos had very new offensive line. It's simply a very tough first match-up.

As to a point in your original post, I distinctly remember Peyton Manning coming into Baltimore a number of years ago and winning a playoff game with just 5 Vinatieri field goals as the scoring. I just went through his game logs and that's his only playoff win without throwing a TD pass. He lost his other 3 playoff games in that scenario.

Excluding some of the season ending games where he just played a couple of series, Manning has had 24 games where he didn't throw a TD pass. Surprisingly, he's 16-8 in such games, including yesterday.

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by bubqr :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:42am

I don't know which Green Bay DB "tried" to tackle M.Bennett on his TD, but that was an incredibly laughable attempt(if we count rolling sideways on the ground as an attempt), as Bennett barely had to jump at most 10 centimeters to avoid it.

Also, I'm late, but how in the world was Boykin not on the field covering Julian Edelman for the Steelers?

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by big10freak :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:45am

I think that was Clinton-Dix. He's a good cover safety. He is iffy tackling

47
by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:48am

Yeah, he's the opposite of Calvin Pryor, who loves to hit people (knocked out McCown yesterday), but has issues covering. Still wish the Jets drafted Clinton-Dix instead of Pryor.

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by big10freak :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:50am

If history is any guide Dix will get chewed out in game film and next game the tackling will be fine for a while before he slips back again.

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by Eddo :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:15pm

The Packers' tackling at the second level and beyond was pretty awful all day yesterday, I thought. Forte had a lot of runs that went on for 4-5 extra yards due to that.

Also, the Bears completed several passes a yard or two short of the line to gain and were able to elude the first defender to pick up the first down.

42
by James-London :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:45am

Positives for Miami

1: They won
2: ST went well, with neither of the rookie kickers crapping on themselves this week
3: The secondary took the gifts Cousins offered

That all I got. The rest wasn't good. Washington ran really effectively, used play-action off that and Miami couldn't cope or adjust. If Gruden hadn't stopped doing what worked, I suspect Miami loses that game. Spending the GDP of an African Republic on a DT is great and all, but Miami's linebackers were terrible, and I don't understand how they find competency at Guard so hard to come by.
Miami are unlikely to have the opposition HC hand them the game every week, so there's work to do.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

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by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 2:08pm

Tannehill was real shaky, too. He had a bunch of bad plays that I did not expect him to have this year: two dropped interceptions, three misses on wide open receivers, a terrible decision on the goal-line dump-off that lost seven yards. The rest of the time he was pretty good, so you can't say he was terrible or anything, but way too inconsistent.

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Who, me?

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by James-London :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 6:18pm

Agreed. One of the dripped INTs was hideous. Getting Dion Sims (one of the two(!) Tight ends on the roster) almost killed wasn't great either. Any reasonable throw was a TD; instead, no points, Sims with concussion, and Jake freakin' Stoneburner likely to come off the practice squad. All sub-optimal.
Phil Simms is a Cretin.

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by Ryan D. :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:00pm

I have a general question for the crowd here.

A friend and I were discussing the Giants/Cowboys endgame situation live as it played out last night. When it looked likely that the Giants were about score to go up 9 points with just under 2 minutes left, I told my Giants-loving friend that if I was coaching the Giants, I would line up on the 2-yard line for a 2-point play and kneel the ball. My logic was that virtually eliminating any chance of a block/fumble/interception that could go back for 2 points for the Cowboys was the right call that late in the game with a 9 point lead.

Given this exact scenario, up 3, about to score a touchdown inside the final 2 minutes of a game and your opponents with no timeouts, what would you do to maximize your chance to win the game? Would you kick the long XP, go for 2 points, or kneel the ball?

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by oaktoon :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:29pm

See Peter King this am-- coaches already discussing this option-- would also apply with a 4 pt lead... It will become a regular occurrence.

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by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 11:46pm

Unless I'm very much mistaken, if you kick the XP the defense does not have the ability to score points, only if you go for two.

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Who, me?

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by dbostedo :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 1:09am

You're very much mistaken. :)

A blocked XP or a turnover on a 2-pt conversion can both result in 2 points for the defense. From NFL.com regarding the 2015 rule changes :

"According to the rule change, if the defense returns a blocked extra point or failed two-point try for a touchdown (i.e. on an interception), they will be awarded two points. Under the previous rule the ball was dead on a failed try."

170
by deus01 :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 9:17am

I believe the kicking team could also in theory suffer a safety, which would give the defense 1 point.

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by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 10:47am

I really hope to see this play one day.

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by SandyRiver :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 12:37pm

Jim Marshall retired 36 years ago.

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by PatsFan :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 5:04pm

Do the new rules allow for the kicking team to score a 1-point safety like in college?

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by dbostedo :: Wed, 09/16/2015 - 12:13pm

Yes! Actually, both teams can score 1-point safeties. For instance, if the team going for a 2PT conversion throws a pick outside the end zone, and the interceptor runs backward into the end zone, the team originally on offense can tackle him for a 1 point safety.

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by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 10:54am

Got it, it certainly creates some interesting scenarios.

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Who, me?

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by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:09pm

I think my "favorite" moment of Bucs-Titans was when Mariota threw that terrible second pick, Steve Tasker immediately identified the defender as rookie Deiontrez Mount, quite specifically identifying him as a rookie. With his next breath, he said something like, "Winston needs to learn defensive lineman in the NFL can get up after being cut blocked and pick off that ball."

Because, you know, the 20-25 minutes' worth of that guy's career completely transformed his athletic ability. YOU JUST IDENTIFIED HIM AS A ROOKIE, STEVE.

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by Kal :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 12:49pm

Mariota threw that second pick?

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by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:27pm

Final tally
Joique Bell: 8 touches, 41 yards
Ameer Abdullah: 11 touches, 94 yards, 1 TD.

You guys hit the nail on the head in the FO Almanac player comments section. I pray the Lions will quickly tire of seeing Joique Bell tiptoeing to the hole and gaining 2 yards, and eventually giveall his carries to Abdullah, curse of 370 be damned!

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by oaktoon :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:27pm

Mistake #1: Eli didn't take the full 40 seconds after the clock malfunction;

Mistake #2: false start penalty allows Dallas to preserve a timeout;

Mistake #3: the pass call itself-- though this was the least problematic action by the Giants;

Mistake #4: Eli doesn't fall down and accepts the sack;

Mistake #5: after Mistakes #3 and #4, Giants elect to kick field goal. Going for it on 4th and 1 the better play. Make and game is over. Miss and, as been discussed plenty, Cowboys play for FG, so worst case is OT, not defeat;

Mistake #6: you back up into end zone with Jason Witten in front of you;

The NFL is back in all its absurd glory.

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by Independent George :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 1:52pm

I'm really glad you qualified #3 - I actually don't have a problem with calling a pass in that situation, because there was a decent chance the defense would sell out against the run and leave a man wide open. But you have to build into the play call that the option of either just running it or taking a knee if you don't get the coverage you want.

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by TomC :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 2:16pm

Seconded. I told my wife before the play that's exactly what they should call. Credit to the Cowboys for defending it well.

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by Bjorn Nittmo :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 2:57pm

Not with 1:40 left and other team having zero timeouts -- the guaranteed benefit of burning 40 seconds off the clock is simply too big and important to pass up for whatever marginal net benefit of throwing (quite possibly zero). In contrast, on the previous 4 downs, throwing on 3rd down was exactly the right call -- incompletion there would have meant Dallas having 2 instead of 1 timeout when they took possession, a pretty small risk vs. the huge benefit of keeping the ball. With 40-50 seconds I could have even lived with the 4th down decision to kick a FG to go up 6, but a horrible decision with Dallas having 90 seconds. (All this would be moot had refs called the blatant defensive holding -- Church grabbed and held Fells on his route -- in the end zone on that ill-fated 3rd down pass.

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by Bjorn Nittmo :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:02pm

And really, regarding #2, it's really the rule that the clock doesn't start up after a declined penalty on the defense? I have to assume it is, but I'm flabbergasted that's really true and that I've never noticed it before. That penalty was the difference for Dallas, as were any of these single events. (You're forgetting another huge mistake, the illegal formation penalty on Giants with about 2:15 left on first down -- minus that and the Giants could take a knee after Beckham catch for first down. I guess another instance where clock stopped and remained stopped after declined penalty.)

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by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:08pm

It is shocking that the clock is allowed to run in that situation.

I guess there are very few instances when it would be beneficial (most likely the yardage lost and potential first down gained negates stopping the clock), but this was a situation where it did.

The Cowboys actually got that twice, with the personal foul stopping the clock as well. But yes, the idea that the clock stops even if the penalty is declined is madness.

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by ChrisS :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 10:20am

Mistakes 2-4 are addressed in the linked article. Apparently there is a new rule that stops the clock in the last 5 minutes on declined penalties. Eli was unaware of this so thought Dallas only had 1 TO left. He therefor thought that NY was likely to go for a TD on 4th so did not want to take the sack.
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/15/sports/football/untangling-pileup-of-m...

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by BJR :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:28pm

Anybody else think Beckham Jr. was fairly obviously concussed after the big hit he took in the 1st quarter last night? He even initially began jogging off to the wrong sideline after the hit. Other than the nice catch to set up the fateful goal-to-go at the end he was anonymous against a defence he completely dominated last season. There was also the strange incident when he picked up an obviously dead ball and sprinted all the way to the end zone. The announcers were also suspiciously keen to shrug off the incident; it didn't sit well.

I certainly disagree with whoever above said the Giants' defence is better than we thought. Dallas punted only twice, and only the fluky turnovers kept it close. When Dallas desperately needed to score they marched down the field with ease (I'm not sure why it took them that long to start attacking down the field, Romo had plenty of time to throw all night).

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by JIPanick :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:36pm

"I certainly disagree with whoever above said the Giants' defence is better than we thought. Dallas punted only twice, and only the fluky turnovers kept it close. When Dallas desperately needed to score they marched down the field with ease (I'm not sure why it took them that long to start attacking down the field, Romo had plenty of time to throw all night)."

+1

The game looked to me like the Cowboys were outplaying the Giants and the game was only even close because of tip-drill picks and a lucky fumble return. It'll be interesting to see what VOA says.

66
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:29pm

Anyone who watched the hawks rams game tell me how the rams accumulated 6!!! sacks. Was it Wilson holding it forever, the rams d line being beastly?

75
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:37pm

As always, a combination of both.

From my memory there were only two true quick sacks, one where Donald quickly beat his man, and the other on that awesome double corner/safety blitz.

The others took a little more time, but they made Wilson move off his spot consistently. Both Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn were absolutely unblockable.

The Seahawks o-line will have major problems. Obviously, most d-lines aren't as good as the Rams, but they had no real push in the run game either. The Seahawks playmakers can and need to be good enough to overcome that.

124
by dank067 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:25pm

Green Bay's run defense should be a welcome sight for Seattle's O-line next week, and vice-versa. We'll get some insight into which NFC contender might have the bigger flaw.

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by theslothook :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:30pm

/

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by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:34pm

Saw a little of it. Wilson had no time to throw, hence the short passes to either sideline. Turns out letting your highly drafted linemen go to other teams and not replacing them isn't a good plan.

79
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 12:48pm

Somewhere, it has to be noted that the Washington D.C. American Professional Football Club saw fit to have a player, who has 10% of the club's 2016 salary cap guaranteed for injury, on the practice field last week as the scout team safety. Good Freakin' Grief.

106
by jtr :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 2:18pm

Really silly move by the Skins. You have to have at least a basic understanding of route combinations to play safety.

88
by tunesmith :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 1:17pm

I think Broncos' McManus hitting those two field goals is still pretty impressive - it might be like hitting 48-yarders elsewhere if the uprights were closer together elsewhere. McManus has improved his aim considerably. Remains to be seen how strong his leg is elsewhere.

107
by TimK :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 2:21pm

I saw it reported in a few places that McManus had changed his kicking motion in the off-season (simplifying and removing a jab-step apparently [ http://www.milehighreport.com/2015/8/27/9213025/brandon-mcmanus-removes-... ]). He always had a fairly big leg on kickoffs so if his place kicking is more consistent now it could really improve the Broncos kicking game (though I'll wait till he has kicked off deep at sea level to be sure!).

The radio commentators were saying all the long FGs, especially the Ravens' one, were going through with plenty to spare. But it was possibly the warmest Broncos' home game ever, which will have helped range a little bit more.

166
by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 3:19am

McManus' problem has never been leg strength. It has been aim at any distance. That's why he was kept as a kickoff specialist last year.

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by MJK :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 1:33pm

So it looks like both Buffalo and the Jets are much improved and look like real quality teams (although it's hard to tell until the Jets face a real team), while Miami squeaked by (and probably should have lost to) a team that is widely expected to be terrible this year.

I think a lot of the AFC East predictions just got turned around. I know this is National Jump to Conclusions Week, but based on the play opening weekend, I could see any of NYJ, Buffalo, and New England in contention for winning the division.

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by theslothook :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 1:36pm

Jets always look good in week 1 at home. I am fully ready to believe Buffalo and the Jets have really good defenses, but I'm still pretty skeptical about the offenses and that's directly tied to their qb. THe jets scored a boatload of turnovers and the browns are a pretty terrible team.

The dolphins fluky(and barely) defeating the redskins would really concern me.

The afc east looks pretty much the same as it always has imo.

114
by Led :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 2:48pm

Too early to tell. Lame, un-internetish answer I know. But I think there's a good chance Indy is pretty mediocre overall, and awful on defense. And also that the Browns are frisky and competitive because their offensive and defensive lines are solid but they still lose a lot of games due to QB/WR deficiencies. And I don't see Pittsburgh's defense stopping anybody this year. So the AFCE is 4-0, but none of their week 1 opponents are going to turn out to be very good.

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by Ben :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:19pm

I think that's still jump to conclusions week talking.

The Bills offensive performance may have looked good on paper, but it was mostly a couple of big plays. The Colts had virtually zero pass rush. Once teams get some film on Taylor, the offense is going to be just competent. Relying on long bombs to Percy Harvin is a pretty high variance offensive game plan, in my mind.

The Bills defense is absolutely going to be formidable this year and will win them a number of games, especially the non-division ones. However, the other AFC East teams are familiar with the both the the players and the coach, so I suspect they'll fair better against the Bills.

As for the Jets, I'm still not sold on their offense, and while their defense is almost certainly solid too, I don't think you can learn much from a game against the Browns.

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by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 6:44pm

'However, the other AFC East teams are familiar with the both the the players and the coach, so I suspect they'll fair better against the Bills.'

The interesting thing about that is, the team that figured Rex out the most lately was Buffalo. Both games last year were total annihilations, where they knocked out Geno, and then Vick. Belichick knows him, but Bowles doesn't (and Gailey had a horrible record against him). Philbin is a surprising 3-3 against Rex, although the Dolphins may have had more talent during that time period than the Jets.

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by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:48pm

The Bills look filthy nasty to me. I doubt the Jets will be in contention for winning the division unless Geno starts the second half of the year and decides he's Drew Brees. While the Bills offense consisted of a few big plays, I'm impressed with how Taylor has played, both against the Colts and in preseason. If Rex can get the level of play Fitzpatrick gave the Texans last year out of Taylor, he'll challenge the Pats in the division. Unfortunately, Miami looks poorly coached as usual.

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by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 10:59am

I don't think Miami looked poorly coached in particular, they looked overmatched running the ball and stopping the run. While that doesn't bode well either against a team many predicted would have the worst record in the league, there's also a good chance Washington isn't the worst team in the league at all, although they certainly won't win many games with that passing game.

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Who, me?

113
by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 2:44pm

"Chuck Pagano is basically a dead coach walking" Scott, given his status as a recent cancer survivor, that might not be the most felicitous way to describe Pagano's employment status.

127
by Jay Z :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 3:30pm

Cutler is a better QB than Caleb Hanie was, but Cutler was playing poorly and the Bears had scored no points at the time he went out. Plus, he has a history of poor play against the Packers. All of that projects to a NFC Championship win, plus a win over the Steelers who the Packers only beat by 6 points?!?

146
by Athelas :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 6:23pm

Rob-
Hanks for mentioning Chris Simms' incredibly annoying pronunciation of the Cincinnati teams name as BANGLES. I had to turn the sound off when the Red Zone went to that game.

147
by LyleNM :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 6:23pm

Anybody want to chime in on the Rashad Jennings "They told me not to score" statement? If true, heads should roll. Anybody that saw the play(s) want to verify if he could have scored?

152
by RickD :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 6:34pm

That's what is being reported on Twitter and ESPN.

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by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 6:40pm

Just checked and no. Not unless he has some way of phasing through the gaggle of defenders that were holding on to him on both carries like Shadowcat (who would be rather good at football.)

158
by Dan_L :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 8:00pm

Not just this game, but the preseason of Mariota / Winston as well has made me think about the whole designation of "Pro Ready vs. Potential Project". I'm not sure anyone has a clue how to determine which is which. Leading up to the draft, opinions everywhere from talking head level to experienced scouts to FO alumns who I respect was that Winston offers you more right now, whereas Mariota is a project with great potential down the road.

Since camp has started, everything has shown Mariota to be pro ready from the beginning, and Winston to look like the project (btw I mean this in a not that bad sense for Winston. He doesn't look like he sucks, he looks like someone who does a number of really good things and a number of really bad things. There is potential that he learns over time, as well as the possibility that he never learns and flames out).

And when I think about it further this is somewhat of a theme. From Cam Newton to Russell Wilson to Nick Foles, we've seen guys who in the draft are described as "raw", show up with NFL ready talent as rookies. These players have varied the degree of success in the long run, but my point is that the evidence showed none of them to be "raw" at all. Meanwhile, players like Winston and Bridgewater have been described as NFL ready, yet looked more like projects with potential in their rookie campaigns.

I think there is good value to be made in rethinking (and predicting more accurately) NFL readiness in young players.

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by jtr :: Mon, 09/14/2015 - 10:07pm

A lot of those guys you mentioned--Wilson, Newton, and I would add Griffin's electric rookie season--made the transition easier through their running. The conventional wisdom likely to be heard from a draftnik is that a running QB has a longer learning curve to the NFL because he needs to learn the intricacies of pocket passing. But the reality has been that these players have had an EASIER time adapting, because their ability to threaten defenses with legs allows them to run a simplified offense. We saw the same thing with Mariota; he didn't gain many yards on the ground, but the offense was able to use his threat to run to open up opportunities for his passing.

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by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 3:12am

The real exception there is Newton. Anyone who thought Wilson was raw was being foolish; the knock on him was that he was too short, not that he wasn't seasoned enough starting for 3 years and playing in two different offenses. Nick Foles did not break out until his second year, he wasn't that good as a rookie. The other thing to keep in mind is that Mariota actually has played one more year than Winston, and QBase predicted that he would be a better prospect than Winston partially because of that. Personally I am surprised at Winston's poor showing this past weekend, but a lot of that may be due to Tennessee's new defensive coordinator. Dick Le Beau's defenses, like Rex Ryan's, usually eat young quarterbacks for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 7:28am

Weird. I had the impression MM was a solid pro prospect without qualification, while I would be surprised to see JW stick around the NFL long enough to really make a career of it. And I bet we read a lot of the same people too.

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by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 11:01am

The take I recall was Mariota was more ready at the outset, but had a proverbial lower ceiling as there were concerns about arm strength and ability to read defenses. Winston had a higher ceiling, but, due to both INTs and off-the-field idiocy, had a much higher bust potential.

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by Kal :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 12:51pm

At least against Lovie Smith and the Tampa 2 his reads looked very very good.

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by Dan_L :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 10:42pm

For examples of well thought out expressions of Mariota as a "project", I'm thinking Emory Hunt's predraft analysis and Matt Waldman in RSP Film Room #42. Maybe my reading habits are more wonky than most, but my impression is that the less well thought out analysts just repeated the "Real NFL System" vs. "College system" points and thus determined Mariota needs time to be "pro-ready".

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by TomC :: Tue, 09/15/2015 - 9:43am

THAT was the team that's going to challenge Green Bay for the division title? Jump To Conclusions Week, I know, but oy!