Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

17 Oct 2016

Audibles at the Line: Week 6

compiled by Andrew Potter

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around emails 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 tune into (if they can).

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

While these emails 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 solely 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.

Cleveland Browns 26 at Tennessee Titans 28

Tom Gower: On Titans-Browns early. In the immortal words of Terry Tate, Office Linebacker, "When it's game time, it's pain time."

Cian Fahey: Film Room this week looked at Terrelle Pryor's route-running and ball skills. His touchdown at the end of the second quarter highlighted his progress with a smart route and great play on the ball.

Tom Gower: Titans up 14-13 at the half. Tennessee came out moving the ball well, converting two third-and-longs on their first possession, including on the touchdown pass to Rishard Matthews. After failing on a couple third-and-shorts, they found the end zone after another third-and-long conversion. The score there was a 48-yard pass to Kendall Wright, the rare deep completion to him from a Titans starting quarterback. Third downs returned to normal thereafter, with the Titans failing on a couple long ones (they had been something like 1-for-a few since the Vikings game in Week 1, not even converting any against Miami last week). Credit to the Browns for mostly doing a good job of concentrating on stopping the run, and limiting DeMarco Murray. He has ten carries for 24 yards, 15 of them on a play where Cleveland blew a tackle in the backfield.

I'm not really revising my opinion on Cody Kessler yet, which is that he's a physically limited quarterback who needs open receivers and to be put in favorable situations to be successful. The Browns' initial field goal drive was basically a one-play effort -- he found Gary Barnidge for 43 yards of catch-and-run in between the levels of what looked like Cover-3. The second field goal drive was a couple short passes and a 39-yard pass interference penalty on a ball that was probably a bit overthrown. The touchdown drive was 42 yards to Ricardo Louis on an improvisational catch-and-run late in the down after scrambling, plus 24 yards on a swing pass to Duke Johnson. The non-touchdown drives revealed the base Titans defensive strategy, limiting Isaiah Crowell in the run game and putting them in unfavorable down-and-distance situations, and Kessler did squat. But so far, he hasn't really thrown the ball right to an opposing player (Marcus Mariota did it on the second play of the game, after he ran for 41 yards to open it, but Joe Schobert dropped it), so we're still competitive.

28-26 final, Titans win. Titans got the first two scores of the second half to go up 28-13, and it looked like they might be on their way to their first back-to-back wins by more than 7 points since Weeks 5 and 6 of 2010. A Browns offense that went three-and-out its first four possessions of the second half looked to be in trouble after gaining 9 yards on its first three plays, but Terrelle Pryor had yet another contested catch after Kessler found him late in the down on fourth-and-1 and Kessler converted on third-and-6 and fourth-and-15 (note for Scott: the third-and-12 throw right before this was a great "we hate our QB" ALEX play), and Pryor finished the drive off.

Then, down 28-19 just before the two-minute warning, holding two timeouts, Hue Jackson decided to drive The Mad World of 2016 even madder. He went for the two-point conversion rather than kicking the extra point to "make it a one-score game." The Browns failed the two-point conversion. Commentator Adam Archuleta, whom I generally like much more than most of his CBS compatriots, declared the game over. Former players, fans, and beat writers chimed in on Twitter that Jackson, by going for two before he had to, had cost his team the game. I threw my stress bracelet into the chair. I retrieved it and checked Twitter. I threw my stress bracelet behind my couch. I finished it out with a broom. I checked Twitter again. I threw my stress bracelet under my refrigerator, and stopped checking Twitter.

Knowing they needed two scores, the Browns did not try to pin Tennessee deep, as they might have otherwise. They actually got the ball back after the Titans mishandled the onside kick. Duke Johnson got 28 yards on a short pass to take them to field goal range. But that cost them 39 seconds (slapdash execution -- should have used one of their timeouts). Kessler completed another pass. Then took a sack. Timeout. Horse collar after a completion puts them at the 7 with :48 to play. Hue Jackson, predictably to me, decided to screw up the Titans by running. Not close to the end zone, goodbye last timeout. Kessler scrambles on the next play, burning :10 of the remaining :40, after trying to buy time. Hue runs it again from the 1, knowing a non-touchdown basically ends the game. They got it. 28-26. Needed another onside. Didn't get this one. Kneel. Game over.

Tennessee in the second half? First touchdown was set up by a Mariota deep ball. It's weird to look at the gamebook and see the Titans with three plays of 40-plus yards, but it happened (Mariota rush on first play, earlier Wright deep ball, this one to Matthews). The second second-half score featured consistent execution on third down to Kendall Wright. A couple of them were "get him in a stack or bunch and run a speed out." Unless Cleveland had a guy cheating to outside, it would work well (others teams might have a player who could cover this). Mariota had gotten away with a couple throws earlier, but he eventually paid for trying to throw across his body while scrambling on a third down when the Browns player took the ball away.

Takeaways? I know Audibles generally eschews the play-by-play format, but I thought it was worth going into the last drive to emphasize just how limited Kessler is right now. Rookie/backup processing speed is something I get on at times, and he definitely displayed it today. The Titans brought him down about six times, and maybe two of those were what I think of as "good" sacks, beating the offensive line. The others were him just holding on to the ball or scrambles for a loss of yardage (he doesn't have the athleticism to turn those into non-losses or even throwaways). The second-half drives generally featured negative plays early, and when Cleveland gets to negative situations, Kessler's toast. Pryor can only bail out so much (Ricardo Louis had a couple sub-optimal non-catches today, so it would be nice for them to get Corey Coleman back one of these days). And what made those two goal-line runs by the Browns so strange was that they had virtually abandoned the run to that point (and all game, really, with 48 dropbacks and 14 rushes).

Repeatedly executing is hard, and most NFL games are lost. These teams scored when they got big plays or extra chances, or that one Titans drive where they moved the ball well. But by and large if there's a mistake, there's a punt soon to follow.

Carolina Panthers 38 at New Orleans Saints 41

Vince Verhei: Your early creative play call of the day: Saints have a fourth-and-1 at the 2 on their first drive and opt to go for it -- and they run the fly sweep to Coby Fleener, of all things. It works, and the Saints go up 7-0.

Bryan Knowles: Carolina cut starting cornerback Bene Benwikere two weeks ago, forcing their understaffed and very young secondary into a bit of a bind. Fifth-round pick Zack Sanchez just got lost on a double-move from Brandin Cooks -- it looked like he was trying to sit on a short route -- and Cooks streaks 87 yards down the sideline for a 14-0 lead for the Saints.

Three rookie cornerbacks may not be the best staff for dealing with Drew Brees.

For all Carolina's struggles, Cam Newton is still an amazing player to watch. Catch a replay of his touchdown pass to Ed Dickson if you can -- Newton rolled left, saw his primary receivers go to the ground, and hit an astonishing jump pass for the touchdown. The number of players in the NFL who could make that pass can be counted on one hand, and possibly one finger.

Vince Verhei: This game is Carolina's whole season in a nutshell. They fall behind 21-0 early, rally all the way back to apparently tie the score, but Graham Gano misses the extra point and the Saints are still ahead 31-30 with more than half a quarter to go.

Andrew Potter: This game is both of these teams' seasons in a nutshell. Every time either team gets in a good defensive situation, they either do something really bad or really stupid. The Kawann Short penalty on the Josh Hill touchdown was incredibly stupid, while the Saints are only holding Cam Newton below 400 passing yards because they're giving up long pass interference penalties instead of long touchdown receptions.

Pittsburgh Steelers 15 at Miami Dolphins 30

Scott Kacsmar: After a Miami field goal, Adam Gase opted for a surprise onside kick that was apparently a big surprise to the referees. Ed Hochuli blew Pittsburgh's recovery dead because an official wasn't ready for the play. On replay, it looked like they were ready. So while Miami may have technically caught a break, the Steelers scored on the long field anyway after an end around to Darrius Heyward-Bey popped for a 60-yard touchdown. DHB looked great on that run. Then Mike Tomlin decided to go for two, and I'm not sure I've ever seen a running back catch a jump ball while being wide open on a two-point conversion. How did it happen? Le'veon Bell lined up in the slot, the Steelers ran a little pick play, and Ben Roethlisberger, under some pressure, just lobbed one up for him. Steelers lead 8-3.

Bryan Knowles: It has been a bad week for injuries so far. Ben Roethlisberger goes down with a left knee injury, Odell Beckham limped off the field with a hip problem, and LeSean McCoy just crumpled to the turf in Buffalo. It has been a bad 15 minutes.

Vince Verhei: I heard Darrius Heyward-Bey scored on a long run, and thought, sure, he's crazy fast, you give him a hole and he'll burn you. Then I saw the play. Miami didn't give him a hole, he made his own. The defensive back (I think it was No. 25, Xavien Howard) came up and lowered his shoulder, and Heyward-Bey just steamrolled him, then kicked in the jets and hit the end zone.

Scott Kacsmar: When you combine the Steelers having their usual "playing down to the competition" performance with a Roethlisberger injury, it's not a pretty sight. Miami leads 23-8 and Jay Ajayi has been impressive as a runner today. Ryan Tannehill has been very solid, looking more like Roethlisberger with some plays he was able to extend to find open receivers down the field. The defense is clearly struggling without Cameron Heyward, who is missing the first game of his career. Roethlisberger has been picked twice and doesn't seem to be reading the field well. The blocking has also been pretty subpar.

Perhaps the two biggest themes in the Pittsburgh chapter in this year's Almanac (EDITOR'S NOTE: still available!) were the Steelers playing small in small games, and their season's success hinging on how they fare against the Patriots. So maybe it was just bad luck to draw the 1-4 Dolphins a week before the AFC's game of the year against the Patriots. I'm not saying the Steelers were overlooking Miami today, but this was a really poor effort, right down to letting the play clock repeatedly dip under 15 seconds while the team trailed by 15 points late. They just looked like a beaten group. It was the second time this season that the team was dominated on both sides of the ball, and that's usually not done to Tomlin's Steelers by teams such as Philadelphia and Miami. It's usually done by a New England or playoff-caliber Baltimore team. There were injuries, and yes, Roethlisberger definitely looked worse in the second half after returning from the knee scare. I can confidently say that this was one of the worst games of his career, especially when you consider a 60-yard run by DHB was the only score the offense had until what felt like a garbage-time drive at the end. But there is no excuse for allowing Ajayi to rush for 204 yards. Miami entered the week ranked 31st in rushing yards, and its backs did not even have 300 yards on the season. They made this guy look like vintage Ricky Williams, and Ryan Tannehill was not sacked once, a rare occurrence. Miami had its proper offensive line combo starting today, but the only thing the Pittsburgh defense did well today was make some stops in the red zone.

I'm not sure what to think of this Pittsburgh team as far as being a contender, but I guess we'll find out next week when the Patriots come to town. I would expect the media to bury this team with "no shot against the Patriots" stories this week, and if that's the kind of motivation that is needed to turn this around, then so be it. But if the Steelers play anything like this next week, the Patriots will win by at least three touchdowns.

Cincinnati Bengals 17 at New England Patriots 35

Rivers McCown: Early returns here: Tom Brady has a lot of time in the pocket but can't find anyone. The Bengals have zero explosiveness but are getting good carries from Giovani Bernard.

Elandon Roberts has made some splash plays at linebacker for New England. And now that I say that he goes down on the goal line.

Aaron Schatz: When the Patriots spread things out, they end up with a linebacker on Gronk or Chris Hogan. That seems suboptimal, and I'm surprised they aren't taking advantage of it more. That linebacker is Karlos Dansby, who is good in coverage, but still, it seems like a mismatch. Another surprise, the Patriots barely used Martellus Bennett until their third drive.

The Bernard runs are working for Cincinnati but not the power runs with Jeremy Hill. They got stopped repeatedly at the goal line, including when they went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1.

The Patriots finally marched up the field for a touchdown on their last drive of the first half by picking on the underneath stuff, lots of swing passes to James White, plus a big catch across the middle by Chris Hogan who then accelerated for an extra 10 yards or so. Still, despite a 10-7 Pats lead, I think the big takeaway here is that this is the Bengals defense we expected to see all season. More like last year's defense (10th in DVOA) than this year's (19th). There's a real pass rush, and the secondary is holding long enough for that pass rush to get to Brady. The run defense is less of a strength (nine carries, 50 yards by Patriots running backs) so we may see more Pats running in the second half.

As for the Bengals offense: A.J. Green is great, the rest of the receivers are mediocre or inexperienced, they run a lot of funky formations, what else is new. Andy Dalton scored their only touchdown on an old-school speed option play. Someone, I think Rob Ninkovich, bit on the pitch and Dalton just waltzed into the end zone.

The Bengals and Patriots trade touchdowns in the third quarter, plus a safety for the Patriots on a Donta' Hightower sack. I think we're seeing three general truths about these two teams in these drives:

1) Andy Dalton is much more mobile than most fans realize. He has gotten out of a couple of sure sacks today. Not that one in the end zone, but a couple of others.

2) Cedric Ogbuehi may be the weak link in the Bengals' line. He's definitely got more to learn before he can be a good NFL starting tackle. His hold moved the Bengals way back, which led to the safety.

3) The Patriots' two-tight end sets just kill people. The Pats' touchdown drive was heavily made on passes to tight ends being covered by Bengals nickelback Josh Shaw. That's part of the problem, right? The Pats can use those two tight ends like wide receivers, but if you put your nickelback on them, it won't go smoothly for you.

Vontaze Burfict is clearly not chastened by last year's playoff game. He's been jawing with Patriots all day, just drew a 15-yard flag on Rob Gronkowski for jawing back at him. Also going low on Patriots players:

Meanwhile, Gronk hit a career high with 162 receiving yards today, and his first touchdown of the season.

Philadelphia Eagles 20 at Washington Redskins 27

Rivers McCown: No Jordan Reed, no offense anywhere. The Eagles are being dared to throw deep and can't. Philadelphia ended one long third down with about eight defenders behind the first-down line. I wonder what they think of Kirk Cousins' deep ball.

So since I talked about how it was a defense-heavy game, it has mostly just been that way for Philadelphia. Lane Johnson's absence has left fifth-round rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai exposed. Ryan Kerrigan already has 2.5 sacks, and they're sending a lot of help to that side on every play at this point. The Eagles are only in this game because of a special teams touchdown and a Kirk Cousins pick-six on a bootleg underneath throw. 

Coming into the game, the Eagles had a top-seven DVOA run defense, so naturally Washington has averaged 6.4 yards per carry on 27 attempts through the middle of the third quarter.

Carl Yedor: After almost being picked by Malcolm Jenkins in the end zone, Kirk Cousins has done a good job throwing the ball away instead of forcing it into tight coverage or taking sacks during the second half. In the face of a blitz on third-and-long, Cousins got rid of the ball, allowing Dustin Hopkins to attempt and make a 50-yard field goal. Washington now up 10 with 9:37 to play.

Aaron Schatz: Can we please put this somewhere in the PHI-WAS writeup? It's amazing.

Andrew Potter: You'll enjoy this too, then:

San Francisco 49ers 16 at Buffalo Bills 45

Bryan Knowles: So. Colin Kaepernick.

Through the first quarter and a half, you have to wonder why Blaine Gabbert was starting. The 53-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith is the highlight, but the 49ers offense in general feels a lot more open and dangerous with Kaepernick behind center; he's moving the team well -- 8-for-10 for 135 yards and a touchdown at the moment. He has been far from perfect -- he still has been holding onto the ball for a bit too long and has seemed a bit tentative at times -- but he looks like an actual NFL starting quarterback so far.

Of course, the 49ers are still losing, because the defense can't get off the field. Buffalo is 4-for-4 on third downs so far, and LeSean McCoy has a pair of touchdowns against his old head coach. The 49ers' problems go beyond the quarterback position, but they at least feel competitive again.

Cian Fahey: Kaepernick hasn't had a great day or even a good day so far but he's so obviously superior to Blaine Gabbert. Also, Rex Ryan still has an EJ Manuel package and I don't understand why.

Bryan Knowles: Before going down with an injury, LeSean McCoy had rushed 11 times for 106 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The 49ers did finally get a third-down stop; Buffalo is now 6-for-7 on the day and have picked up 164 yards rushing on the ground. If McCoy comes back in -- and he was spotted making cuts on the sideline, so Buffalo maybe dodged a bullet -- I don't think San Francisco has the defensive fortitude to get off the field. The loss of NaVorro Bowman is really being felt; Michael Wilhoite and Gerald Hodges are not an acceptable duo in the middle of the field.

The San Francisco media questioned the 49ers not going after an interior linebacker during the draft, as they passed up on players like Reggie Ragland. General manager Trent Baalke said, during the draft, that the team "felt really good" about their depth at the position; he appears to have significantly missed the mark there.

Vince Verhei: Baalke has been handling San Francisco's draft since 2011. He has frequently missed the mark. 

Bryan Knowles: Baalke had been getting some credit for the 2010 draft as well, which obviously went much better (Bowman, Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati...), but he was only technically in charge on draft day. Most of the work leading up to the draft was done by Scot McCloughan, who left the team five weeks before the draft due to his personal struggles. Baalke has been riding that, and his solid 2011 draft (Colin Kaepernick and Aldon Smith) ever since, but the bloom seems to be off the rose, and there are plenty of stories about him possibly getting the ax this year. Most 49ers fans probably wish the result of the Baalke-Jim Harbaugh power struggle had been reversed at this point.

Aaron Schatz: I'm guessing most 49ers fans wished the result of the Baalke-Harbaugh power struggle had been reversed at THAT point, when it happened.

Bryan Knowles: Truer words have rarely been spoken, and Michigan's rise has done no favors for their opinion of Baalke's management style.

Vince Verhei: Did LeSean McCoy used to play quarterback somewhere? He's always carrying the ball in one hand, not tucked away, and it looks like a fumble waiting to happen. He bobbled a run just now early in the third quarter, but was able to grab the ball out of the air so I don't think it was technically a fumble.

Cian Fahey: Trying to think of things to say about this Bills-49ers game but really it's just uninteresting.

There are two bright spots in the Bills game and both are in the Bills' backfield. LeSean McCoy was excellent until he hurt himself and has been limited since then, he just had one impressive run in the third quarter that began a touchdown drive. More importantly, Tyrod Taylor has played his best game of the season. His accuracy to all levels of the field has been far superior to what it has been throughout this season so far.

Bryan Knowles: Taylor's best game is being significantly helped by the performance of the offensive line; I'm not sure the 49ers have actually touched Taylor since the first drive of the game.

Baltimore Ravens 23 at New York Giants 27

Vince Verhei: Marc Trestman's gone, but the Ravens are still pass-wacky, with 25 dropbacks and 14 runs in the first half, even though they're averaging better than 5 yards per carry. Their interior line is pushing the Ravens around. Speaking of, the Giants defensive line is the most overpaid, underperforming unit of 2016, right? New York got two sacks in the first half, bringing their season total to six, but one of those was by Landon Collins on a safety blitz, and the other was by Johnathan Hankins up the middle. Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon continue to be non-factors. 

Giants offense, meanwhile, can do hardly anything. They have one good touchdown drive, but otherwise, one lost fumble, three punts, and a quasi-Hail Mary interception to end the half. Ravens corners are making lots of good plays to separate the ball from Giants receivers, and that's not a matchup I would have picked to go Baltimore's way before the game.

Odell Beckham and Mike Wallace have done what they do, trading 70-plus-yard catches on back-to-back plays from scrimmage. Beckham's was a touchdown, while Wallace's set Baltimore up with a first-and-goal from the 3. Ravens can't punch it in though, getting stopped on four straight running plays, thanks largely to the efforts of Jonathan Casillas. He was among the defenders who stopped Terrence West on third-and-1, then on fourth-and-1, he shed the block of Kyle Juszczyk to stuff West in the backfield.

Ravens take the lead on a touchdown drive where the biggest play was the Joe Flacco special, a long DPI. Giants then need a field goal to tie, and have a fourth-and-1 at their own 34, inside the two-minute warning. I'm screaming at them to run it, but thankfully for them they do not listen to me. Beckham runs a quick slant for the first down. Tavon Young trips over another defender so he can't make the tackle, and then Beckham is gone for six. And the young man who has been under intense media scrutiny removes his helmet and runs to the sideline to share the moment with his friends and colleagues, and for this he is flagged 15 yards. There was nothing, zero, nada about this that was in any way disrespectful to the Ravens or fans, it was just pure emotion. I love pro football, but the NFL really, REALLY sucks sometimes.

Rivers McCown: I was pulling for the Ravens to finish the comeback for the takes, I'll be honest. Alas, Flacco could not get the job done. (And it looked like another of his receivers was open on his heave to the end zone to finish it.)

Aaron Schatz: That DPI on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was awful. One of the worst I've seen. I couldn't even figure out where the contact was. Meanwhile DRC had established inside position and Breshad Perriman may have interfered with HIM when they went for the ball in the end zone.

Scott Kacsmar: I think we should keep complaining about the NFL's ridiculous increase in penalties for celebration and taunting. While I agree that there should be some ground rules in place so that players don't take things too far, at the end of the day this is a game and this is an entertainment business. Human players are going to show human emotions, especially after the ultimate thrill of a touchdown. Stop trying to eliminate that, and hurting teams in the process with a 15-yard disadvantage on the kickoff. Maybe down the road if the league gets some younger blood in ownership and a new commissioner, this will be handled more rationally. Right now, we have a hypocritical league that uses these "illegal" celebrations to promote the game, but will complain about the falling ratings, especially in that key demographic of younger viewers. Well, when you're forcing the average touchdown scorer, a male in his twenties, to act like a robot, what do you expect? Some of these offenses are boring to watch as-is. Let's not kill the excitement even more when they actually score a touchdown.

Los Angeles Rams 28 at Detroit Lions 31

Vince Verhei: Crazy series at the end of the first half as a 43-yard Kenny Britt reception and 22-yard DPI on a pass to Tavon Austin set the Rams up with first-and-goal at the 9. We then get six-straight goal-to-go plays, including a strip-sack that might have been recovered by Detroit except Devin Taylor was too busy celebrating the sack to actually look for the ball; a hit to the head on Austin in the end zone that turned second-and-goal from the 19 into first-and-goal at the 9; a 6-yard loss on a stuffed Austin sweep; a Britt completion right at the goal-line that resulted in fourth-and-inches; and, on the last play of the half, a Todd Gurley stuff on the ensuing fourth-and-goal, so all of that accomplished nothing. It's 14-14 at the half.

Kenny Britt with the catch of the year. With Johnson Bademosi draped all over him, Britt stretches out with one hand and reels in the ball. It comes lose when he hits the ground, but he's able to catch it between his feet, then kick it back up and catch it with one hand a second time. Lions challenge the play, and I can't blame them, but it's upheld and a gain of 47 yards. Britt now has 121 yards midway through the third quarter. He came into the game with 356 yards and seems like a lock to become the first Rams receiver with 800 yards since Torry Holt in 2007. Lance Kendricks finishes the drive with a touchdown and we're tied at 21.

This is quite the shootout. Matthew Stafford is 14-of-18 for 184 yards and three touchdowns, and Case Keenum -- Case Keenum! -- is 20-of-22 for 256 yards and two scores. And that's not including the big gain on the DPI, or Keenum's rushing touchdown on a goal-line bootleg.

On a third-and-2 from the 9, Britt catches a quick slant for the first down, then breaks five Lions tackles on his way into the end zone. Rams now lead 28-21 in a game where the two teams have combined for seven touchdowns and seven incomplete passes.

On a franchise that has employed Bob Waterfield, Norm Van Brocklin, Roman Gabriel, Jim Everett, and Kurt Warner, it's Case Keenum who now has the team record with 19 consecutive completions. I'm starting to think we won't see Jared Goff this year.

Golden Tate gets a 23-yard screen-pass touchdown to tie things at 28-all with six minutes and change to go. We're now up to eight total touchdowns and ten incomplete passes. Only four times all day has an offense with the ball failed to score a touchdown, and one of those was a failed fourth-and-goal play.

Keenum turned back into a pumpkin at the end of the game. After Tate's game-tying score, he went 0-for-2 on a three-and-out and Detroit had the ball back. They then kicked a field goal after a 44-yard drive, largely thanks to Zach Zenner (three carries for 16 yards on the drive). They had a fourth-and-inches inside the 20 and actually lined up to go for it, but it was just an attempt to get Los Angeles to jump offsides. 

So Keenum and the Rams got the ball back, down three, 1:29 to go... and two plays later Keenum forces the ball to a double-covered Lance Kendricks, and Rafael Bush gets an interception, and that's your ballgame.

Dallas Cowboys 30 at Green Bay Packers 16

Bryan Knowles: Just saw this on Twitter -- other than backup quarterback Brett Hundley, every single available Green Bay Packer offensive player saw at least one snap on their first drive, including both backup offensive linemen. That's a heck of a substitution regimen. End result was just a field goal.

Aaron Schatz: Mike McCarthy has twice now decided to kick a field goal on fourth-and-1. I understand that Eddie Lacy is hurt so they may not want to run in these situations, but he's got some good receivers. Do they not want to try a spacing play? Or slants and flats, or stick? You know, Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback and the Dallas secondary isn't that good.

I definitely understand the argument from film that Aaron Rodgers is still playing at a high level and is being held back by problems on the Green Bay offense. But whatever those problems are, yes, they are certainly holding him back. After what Case Keenum did today, it certainly looks like Rodgers' big game against Detroit was more about how bad Detroit's defense is and less about the Packers fixing their offense. On some plays, Dallas is getting pressure; on other plays, Rodgers holds onto the ball for a while and it seems like he can't find anyone open. And Rodgers just threw a terrible pick where he just didn't see the safety drop into a zone.

Things aren't going well for the Packers on the other side, either. Their run defense, after giving up something like 2 yards per carry for the first five weeks, has let Ezekiel Elliott run 16 times for 88 yards so far.

Bryan Knowles: Green Bay gets a coherent drive going, and marches down to the 1-yard line. Lacy, who has been in and out, isn't in the game as the Packers spread it out wide. Rodgers, however, fumbles on a quarterback draw, and the Cowboys jump on top of it, preserving the 20-6 lead. To add injury to insult, Bryan Bulaga had a chance to recover but muffed it, and then limped off the field. Today is not going well for the Pack.

Aaron Schatz: And then the Packers picked off Dak Prescott, finally, officially, ending his streak. They got to start a drive in the red zone, and they still couldn't punch it in because Aaron Rodgers overthrew a wide-open Randall Cobb in the end zone. Greg Cosell and the NFL Matchup guys always talk about certain quarterbacks who "play fast." They act like they're under pressure even when sometimes they aren't, they move of their first read quickly, their fundamentals start to go because they are hurrying things. Aaron Rodgers looks like he's playing fast today.

Kansas City Chiefs 26 at Oakland Raiders 10

Andrew Potter: The Kansas City Chiefs just ran a tight end screen to Dontari Poe. I'm not joking.

Even better, they scored on it. Though apparently it was a backward pass, so it goes down as a 1-yard touchdown run instead of a 1-yard touchdown reception.

Bryan Knowles: The Chiefs just ran a passing play to Dontari Poe. And not your general big man fade or something, but a play where they motioned him into the outside and hit him with a bubble screen for the touchdown. I've never seen anything like that before.

Vince Verhei: You've got to find a way to get the ball into Dontari Poe's hands. He's so dangerous in space.

Andrew Potter: The story of this game so far, incidentally, is the Oakland defense's total inability to stop the Chiefs offense since the opening drive. Kansas City leads 23-10, but that's on only six drives and includes a missed field goal and a missed extra point. The Chiefs are averaging 6.3 yards per carry and 9.9 yards per pass, omitting a 1-yard scramble (on third-and-11, sigh) by Alex Smith and the aforementioned Poe "run" that was really more of a bubble screen and should probably go in the passing numbers.

Oakland, meanwhile, has gone 9-of-10 for 117 yards to Amari Cooper but only 1-of-2 for 5 yards and an interception targeting Michael Crabtree. The Raiders have also driven into scoring range on four of their six drives, but Sebastian Janikowski missed a 52-yarder and on the next drive Derek Carr failed to connect with Seth Roberts on fourth-and-5 in similar field goal range.

This game has gone by very quickly as a result of the lack of three-and-outs and incompletions (only nine incompletions total, and only two by the Chiefs).

Marcus Peters has just gone off with an injury though, so Michael Crabtree's numbers are worth watching between now and Peters (hopefully) coming back.

Tom Gower: Some pretty fade passes by Derek Carr and some great toe-tapping by Amari Cooper, but it hasn't been enough for Oakland to move the ball with any consistency on a rainy day in the East Bay. An opening-drive touchdown has been followed by just three points for a 23-10 deficit after three quarters, granted with the two drives for nothing that made it near the Chiefs 30 as previously noted.

Andy Reid is 14-2 coming off bye weeks in his career, and it's easy to match that with his reputation as a great coach from Monday to Saturday and with all the difficulty Oakland has had defending an offense we saw looking mostly moribund against Pittsburgh, and build a coherent story off of that. I think I buy that story, though it hasn't helped that Oakland's defense is vulnerable in the areas that Kansas City is well-equipped to attack.

Andrew Potter: Oakland yet again come away with nothing from a drive deep into K.C. territory, as Dee Ford forces a Derek Carr fumble on the first Chiefs sack of the game (and only the second by either team). Tamba Hali gets the recovery. That's the fifth time Oakland has reached scoring range, and the third time they've failed to come away with points.

Atlanta Falcons 24 at Seattle Seahawks 26

Vince Verhei: I don't know if the flagging ratings have hurt ad sales or what, but this game saw three punts, a lost fumble, and a touchdown before the first commercial break. Biggest plays were Cliff Avril swatting the ball out of Matt Ryan's hand for the strip-sack, and then on the next play Christine Michael and the Seahawks front manhandling Atlanta's line for 9-yard touchdown run. Germain Ifedi blocked his man into the end zone there, and then pancaked him. Though, to be fair, it was Ifedi's missed block (literally, he never touched the defender) on a third-down run that led to a punt on Seattle's first drive.

Carl Yedor: Atlanta spent the week in Seattle after their game in Denver to avoid having to fly back and forth across the country, but it didn't seem to matter in the first half. Matt Ryan spent a lot of time on the ground at the end of his dropbacks.

Julio Jones has been getting open against Richard Sherman and the rest of the Seattle secondary, notably for a big gain right at the end of the half that was wiped out by a holding call on tight end Levine Toilolo. Jones will likely continue to make plays in the second half, but Atlanta will need somebody else to make an impact if they want to make the comeback. Their offense is potent, so they are definitely capable of making it happen. We'll see if the second half has a little more offensive firepower than the first did.

Vince Verhei: Seahawks lead 17-3 at halftime. It's hard to see how the defense could be playing much better given the competition. They're blitzing way more than usual and putting a beating on Matt Ryan, with eight hits and three sacks. It's been a year almost to the day since Ryan was sacked more than three times in a game. Julio Jones has two catches for 24 yards (another catch for a good gain was wiped out by a holding penalty). Richard Sherman has usually covered him on the outside, but hasn't usually followed him into the slot. The Devonta Freeman/Tevin Coleman combo has a total of 19 yards from scrimmage on nine rushes and five targets. Falcons have 86 yards of offense and are 0-for-6 on third downs in six drives. 

Seattle's offense hasn't been dominant, but Russell Wilson is having a good game -- 11-of-15 (with two drops) for 135 yards. Jimmy Graham continues to be the most dangerous weapon, with four catches for 62 yards, though he also had one of the drops. They'd have more points if they were better on third downs (just 2-of-6), but the way the defense is playing that won't matter.

Julio Jones with a 36-yard touchdown on the first drive of the second half. The touchdown came against blown coverage, but even before that Atlanta's offense was moving better than it had all game. Biggest adjustment was a heavy use of bootlegs and rollouts to give Ryan more time to pass. I still think the simple rollout is the most under-used play across the NFL.

Richard Sherman is having a total meltdown on the sidelines afterwards. There's like six guys grabbing him and trying to hold him back. I can't tell if they're trying to keep him away from someone or just trying to cool him down, but it's a pretty ugly scene.

Well that turned around quickly. Seahawks go three-and-out, Falcons drive again, and Mohamed Sanu ties the game on a 10-yard touchdown catch, with six-plus minutes still left in the third. Falcons are having their tackles cut Seattle's ends, with mixed results. On the play before the touchdown, Michael Bennett (from the defense's left end) easily fought off the block and drove Ryan into the ground on an incomplete pass. On the touchdown, Bennett moved to the defense's right, took a shot to the knee, and went down and had to be helped off the field before the extra point. So we're tied at 17-17.

Carl Yedor: Atlanta certainly woke up at halftime, scoring touchdowns on each of its first two drives of the half, with a Seahawk three-and-out in between. With Michael Bennett going down with an injury after a cut block on the second touchdown pass, the Seahawks, already down Frank Clark and Kam Chancellor before the game, will have to find a way to get stops without his ability to create pressure if they want to keep Atlanta from pulling ahead.

Atlanta beats the Seahawks with what looked like a Switch Verticals concept from the broadcast feed. That play has been a bugaboo for the Seahawk defense in the past few seasons and is a good counter to Cover 3.

Vince Verhei: Seattle opts to punt on fourth-and-inches shortly across the 50. It looks like a good decision when Eric Weems inexplicably fair catches the ball at the 3. But the Falcons get a 97-yard touchdown drive to take the lead, the scoring play a 46-yard completion to Levine Toilolo when the Seahawks blow coverage AGAIN. First one, on replay, Ronde Barber showed was clearly Sherman's blown assignment. This one, it wasn't as obvious just who screwed up, but Sherman was a candidate. 

Seahawks go from up 14 to down 7 in 15 minutes. That was the worst quarter than they've played since the first half against Carolina in the playoffs. And before that it would have been the fourth quarter against New England in the Super Bowl. In the regular season, I can't even think of one. Might have been before Pete Carroll was hired.

Carl Yedor: After seeing the replay from the All-22 angle, it wasn't exactly Switch Verticals, but they had two receivers running deep down the field, which puts pressure on teams trying to play a 3-deep zone.

Vince Verhei: Seahawks might lose this game on special teams. Early in the fourth they miss a field goal due to a bad snap. Now they get what should have been a game-tying touchdown, but the kick was blocked. So Atlanta still leads 24-23. Most notable thing about that drive, and really the whole game, is how the Falcons are playing a heavy dose of zone defense and leaving the middle of the field open, begging a hobbling Russell Wilson to scramble. And he has refused, stepping up in the pocket, finding plenty of green grass, and stopping to throw. He finally ran once on that drive, on the edge of field goal range, and even with his mobility so limited he still gained 6 yards.

Ryan's pass is thrown slightly ahead of Julio, and the pass bounces off Jones' hands, off Sherman's, and into Earl Thomas'. I'd put that one on Jones, not Ryan, but others might disagree. Seahawks take over at midfield and kick a go-ahead field goal right at the two-minute warning. They're about to kick off, up 26-24, with 1:57 to go, and Atlanta still has two timeouts.

Carl Yedor: Mentioned this on Twitter, as did Chase Stuart, but the end of Falcons-Seahawks was a prime example of why home field advantage matters. Vitally important DPI no-call goes to Seattle. Game goes to Seattle.

Vince Verhei: Game ends on four straight Matt Ryan incompletions. The last of those was a fourth-down lob to Julio Jones, who had half a step on both Sherman and Thomas. Sherman got away with a subtle grab of the arm on the play. His worst day in a long, long time. Dan Quinn, who looks exactly like Jay Buhner, goes nuclear, but he fails to convince the refs there's a foul, and the game ends on some kneeldowns.

Says a lot about Seattle that they can take most of the second half off and still get a comeback win against a good team. Between the blown coverages and the kicking errors, that's an 18-point margin they handed Atlanta on a silver platter, and they still got the ugly win.

Bryan Knowles: It WAS DPI, wasn't it? Sherman had his right arm completely locked over Julio Jones. That could swing a home playoff game, the way things are going at the moment.

Vince Verhei: Oh, it was. But the official closest to the play couldn't see it because Sherman's body was in the way, and nobody else saw the hand on the arm for a fraction of a second as three bodies raced downfield. Unless they make replay reviewable, calls like that will be missed sometimes. 

On the drive that resulted in Seattle's last touchdown, Wilson had one of his run-up-to-the-line-and-throw plays, an overthrow of Jermaine Kearse that everyone on Seattle thought should have been DPI. The ref actually put his hand on his flag, then changed his mind at the last second and didn't call it. It didn't matter, because Seattle got six points on the drive anyway. But it shows that yes, refs miss calls sometimes. 

Scott Kacsmar: I think last year I proposed a review of the final play of the game where everything is reviewable, including DPI. Now, I'm thinking if a coach has a challenge left, then maybe in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter he can challenge a play where everything is reviewable, including DPI. Just hate to see games end after the refs do a shoddy job. I think it was enough for DPI, but we know there's a reluctance to make that call because of how decisive it is. I do not recall where the ball landed, but that probably puts Atlanta in game-winning field goal range.

Aaron Schatz: I do want to say, in defense of... um, I don't know who this is in defense of, actually. But while officiating like this goes in favor of the home team more often than not, it does not always. Witness that DRC DPI call I complained about from Ravens at Giants.

Vince Verhei: Had DPI been called, ball would have been at about the Seattle 45. So Falcons could have tried a field goal from there, but would have needed about 10 more yards for a realistic shot, or 15 or 20 for a good shot. 

Interesting conversation on KJR radio after the game concerning officials and how their calls can be influenced. Both hosts agreed that Sherman got away with one, but the refs might have been reluctant to bail Atlanta out on a blind fourth-and-10 scrambling heave. Had the play come on first down from a clean pocket, the flag would likely have been thrown. Discussing another play, they also said you were more likely to get a DPI call on the offense's sideline, because the screaming of the players and coaches could overcome the screaming of the fans.

Indianapolis Colts 23 at Houston Texans 26 (OT)

Rivers McCown: The Texans are a ponzi scheme.

Tom Gower: A lot of easy shots to take about the Texans offense down 13-3 at the half and looking mostly inept. I took one of them on Twitter, that it had been more than 12 quarters since the Texans scored in a game they were playing in an exclusive national telecast window (shut out by the Patriots on Thursday Night Football, the Chiefs in the playoffs, and the Pats in the second half of last year's SNF game before taking most of two quarters to score tonight). There's also that Houston was a better offense with the FitzMallHoyMisc combination the last two years -- not good, but better than this year's. Or the Brock Osweiler contract. It's awfully hard not to take those shots.

But at the same time... quarterback is the most important position in the game. Osweiler, the high profile free agent acquisition, has been playing poorly at that position. Makes it awful easy to take those shots. The offensive line, which is clearly not the 2015 offensive line, hasn't helped at times, with either him or Lamar Miller.

Texans run defense, troubled even with a thin Watt-less defensive line, was even worse in the plays Benardrick McKinney missed. Max Bullough wasn't an adequate replacement. But if you've watched Houston, that wasn't news. Andrew Luck made a bad throw that cost the Colts a great shot at more points. Whitney Mercilus is good.

Then again, what did I think I'd learn in this first half?

Aaron Schatz: The Colts defense just completely crumbled in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter. I have no idea how they allowed this horrible Houston offense to go 52 yards in three plays to tie the game 23-23. Osweiler really has been horrible most of the year, and really did make his best throw of the night to squeeze that last touchdown pass right in front of C.J. Fiedorowicz.

Tom Gower: Texans win 26-23 in overtime. Osweiler was less of a disaster in the second half. He hit the Random Deep Ball Down The Left Sideline to Jaelen Strong for the game-winning field goal. He had the nice pass to Fiedorowicz for the tying score. He hit Lamar Miller for the other touchdown. Miller was good in the second half. Texans line gave him better running room, and he made people miss (like on the touchdown pass).

Indianapolis was ... the Colts. They're not a good defense. Chuck Pagano likes his defense. He capital-B Believes in them. Repeatedly. Unendingly. Without regard for what happens. I feel like I need as much time to process this game as I did Green Bay-Arizona in the playoffs last year, except I don't have anything like writing 1,800 words on "LOL you hired Mike Mularkey and announced it at halftime of a postseason game LOL" to distract me. What a game. What a division. What a competition. What a country.

Rivers McCown: Even ponzi schemes need a little bait on the hook.

Seriously though, I can't imagine waking up as a Colts fan tomorrow. The team around Luck is utter garbage, the coaching staff has mucked up five years of his career, the general manager has brought nothing to the table but T.Y. Hilton and Vontae Davis. And because of it, you lose a game to what might've been the worst display of nationally televised quarterbacking/offensive coaching for three quarters I've seen since the Josh Freeman Vikings game.

Fox Sports 0 vs. Minnesota Vikings 1

Bryan Knowles: Fox apparently doesn't have photographic evidence of Sam Bradford playing quarterback for Minnesota, and resorted to one of the most laughable photoshops I've seen in recent memory:

Vince Verhei: More on this:

Tom Gower: The Vikings have responded:

Posted by: Andrew Potter on 17 Oct 2016

151 comments, Last at 19 Oct 2016, 7:23pm by Steve in WI

Comments

1
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:04am

Scott Kacsmar is "obsessed" to point out the Steelers continue to lose supposedly inferior competition.
- Will Allen, rageon

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The standard is the standard!

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by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:33am

Nope, unless you can quote Kacsmar saying,over several years, that Tomlin is a bad NFL head coach. And unless Kacsmar starts posting mith a moniker containing a reference to Tomlin's failings.

Happy to help with this stuff.

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by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:50am

If you can't read his words and comprehend them for youself like a big boy, then I can't help you. I will give you a hint. Focus on words like NOBODY, USUAL, etc.

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The standard is the standard!

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by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:01pm

we shall see if m. tomlin can coajhc way out of paper bag next sunday vbs Pates when doesn't have B. Roethlisberger ina citon. ia m skeptical

35
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:22pm

The Patriots are going to win because their offensive personnel is much better than the Steelers' defensive personnel.

47
by RickD :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:51pm

The Steelers would certainly have a chance if they somehow managed to keep their "Triplets" all healthy.

Belichick's record vs. the Steelers has been pretty good since he took over the Patriots. There was a loss in 2011, one in 2008 (a Matt Cassell game) and one in 2004. There have been eight victories, including two AFC Championship games.

Tomlin's not a coach that scares me much. Many of the games in the stretch above were Cowher games, but honestly, I think Cowher was a better coach.

48
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:55pm

Which, of course, is not the same thing as saying Tomlin is a bad NFL head coach.

51
by RickD :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:00pm

No, I don't think Tomlin's a bad coach. He's not an elite coach but he's not a bad one, either. He's got a 64% winning percentage in a very competitive league, in what I think has been the hardest division in the NFL in recent years. I'd put him as the 3rd best coach in the AFC, behind Belichick and Harbaugh.

It's very hard for a "bad coach" to win a Super Bowl. The NFL is a league where coaching matters more than in any other professional sports league. Bad coaches may be able to win in baseball, basketball, or hockey (baseball seems the most likely - hi, John Farrell!) but not in the NFL.

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by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:07pm

Yeah, you could do a lot worse than Tomlin, even with the caveat that making fine delineations in coaching performances is really difficult.

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by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 3:30pm

Here's the thing about win %.

He would have the best (or near the best) of all time if his teams could beat "inferior" opponents; the only one they beat regularly is cleveland (familiarity blah blah contempt???)

At the same time, his win % is propped up because he gets 2 token wins a year against the Browns.

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The standard is the standard!

105
by Eddo :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 4:54pm

You can't argue that Tomlin is bad because his teams can't beat inferior opponents and that his winning percentage is propped up due to beating inferior opponents.

If anything, the former would mean that his winning percentage is propped up by beating good opponents, and that would be a weird criticism of a coach.

106
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 4:59pm

1a) I didn't introduce the "have cake and eat it too" in the thread, I'm just rolling with it

1b) To be specific, I said it's propped up by beating AN inferior opponent.

2) Actually, it's a perfectly reasonable criticism of a coach who has a good roster- full of arrogant divas. He takes weak opponents lightly and assumes a win with little to no preparation/motivation/focus/etc. In other words, he creates and fosters a culture of entitlement when it is undeserved.

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The standard is the standard!

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by Eddo :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 5:51pm

1) Two wrongs don't make a right.

1b) Tomlin is 96-54. He's had 18 games against the Browns, so without those he's still 78-54.

2) Now THIS is a valid criticism, but you seem to be using it as the only thing by which to judge a coach. Is performing well against good teams not a point in Tomlin's favor?

Maybe acknowledge that Tomlin has some good qualities and bad qualities, and that, over the course of nine-plus years, those qualities have resulted in a team that never finished below .500 in a season, so he can't be THAT bad?

Would it benefit the Steelers to move on? Maybe. They could certainly wind up with a better coach, but I'd argue it's more likely they'll wind up with a worse one (the Bears were in a similar situation with Lovie Smith - who was even less successful than Tomlin and had many of the same flaws - following the 2012 season, and I was OK with them firing him; and look where they are now).

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by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 3:35pm

how is it--- that you would explain---
that there are at least 3 coaches (not of the retired+ age) who have won SBs who are no longer coaching?

correlation is not causation, but it is a small sample size club to have so many "not bad coaches" not working.

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The standard is the standard!

87
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 3:56pm

Wait, are you saying that only bad coaches, of below retirement age, get fired, and don't take new jobs?

For the life of me, I don't understand how your mind works.

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by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 4:00pm

Epic Strawman.

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The standard is the standard!

112
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 5:31pm

No, it was a question seeking clarification.

132
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 8:58am

Your mistake is that you assume it works at all.

His is morning FM local sports jock levels of analysis.

123
by Alternator :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 7:20pm

Guys get tired of coaching? I'm not Will, but I don't see where you're trying to take this either.

133
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 9:05am

What do you consider "retirement age"? The only coaches in their 50s who won a SB and aren't coaching are Gruden and Cowher. Cowher hasn't coached in 10 years; Gruden in 8.

Cowher retired. He coached for 15 years. Gruden got out when the time was right, and seems to be enjoying his role as MNF announcer and offseason QB scout.

Your other possibles are Shanahan, Dungy, Coughlin, and Billick. Of those, the only one I could see coming back is Shanahan, and I'm not sure who would hire him.

128
by t.d. :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 8:54pm

Brady's Pats had Peyton's Colts' number, til they didn't. I think it's been established that Brady was effective against Dick Lebeau's defenses, even when they were outstanding. All those guys (except Harrison) are pretty much gone, so I don't think we really have a baseline how this Pittsburgh team will fare against the Pats. It sure would be nice to get a meaningful matchup between these teams with both teams healthy, just to get a sense of where things stand in the AFC. I guess we'll have to wait until the playoffs, at the earliest (Pittsburgh has felt like a legit contender for a couple of seasons, with their nuclear offense and a rebuilt defense, but, scary as they look on paper, they haven't really accomplished much in this incarnation yet). I'm in the 'Tomlin is underrated' camp- he might have inherited a loaded defense and a franchise quarterback, but he's kept them competitive while turning over the roster through several years of cap hell. The irregular two-point conversion attempts are peculiar, and the habit of playing down to the level of crap opponents is a demerit, but it's awfully tough to coach for a decade in the league without a losing season, and it felt like the Steelers played down to their opponents more often than other contenders under Cowher, too. Baltimore seems to do the same thing- I wonder if it has something to do with the intensity of the division. They're still 1B to the Pats 1A in the AFC until proven otherwise

139
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 11:50am

They're still 1B to the Pats 1A in the AFC until proven otherwise

Denver?

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by t.d. :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 10:20pm

If Denver can win their division, sure, they belong in the conversation

82
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 3:28pm

The Steelers were going to beat Miami "because their offensive personnel is much better than the Dolphins' defensive personnel."

Good thing I bet the house on that one.

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The standard is the standard!

86
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 3:51pm

It is amazing that you have discovered that sometmes the team with lesser personnel wins. Oh, I know, it only happens to the object of your obsession.....

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by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 4:03pm

Do you regularly attribute the word "sometimes" to mean ~80% of events? Because that's the case for Tomlin.

Just making sure we're using the same version of English here.

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The standard is the standard!

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by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 5:36pm

Yep, if the sample is small enough. Otherwise, I'd have to conclude such nonsense that Coughlin is a better Super Bowl coach than Belichik. Here, I'll help you out. Until you get past a sample size of a 100 or so, and really, I'd like it to be a lot larger than that, I usually will use "sometimes".

33
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:19pm

If I have to explain to you what it means that the winning % disparity between Tomlin's teams, in games the Steelers favored by 3 or more, and the rest of the league, in games where the favorite was giving 3 or more points, disappears with the outcome of 5 games reversed, I can't help you. This is before the fact is considered that favorites are less likely to be coached by below average coaches. You don't seem to grasp that the stats Kacsmer is putting forth much more strongly supports the contention (ignoring the smaple size issues) "Tomlin is on the lower tier of non-bad NFL coaches" rather than "Tomlin is a bad NFL coach".

Again, happy to help you with this hard stuff.

49
by RickD :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:56pm

Reversing the outcomes of five games? Sounds like a lot. Tomlin has only coached 160 games. Your argument sounds like "well, if we took 5% of the voting public and changed them from being Clinton supporters to Trump supporters, Trump would be crushing her in the polls."

Maybe there's a small sample size, but even then changing five samples is much worse with a small sample than if you do so when the sample size is larger.

55
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:09pm

Yes, which is why it is a mistake, in all but a few elections, to interpret the outcome as being an indicator of a mandate for the victor's preferences, due to the support of the victor being overwhelming.

The sample sizes for games coached are so small, that stripping out even smaller samples, to gain confidence about coaching performance evaluation, becomes pretty problematic. Frankly, our tools for evaluating coaching performance aren't very good.

56
by RickD :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:09pm

That's why you have to use a finer unit of measure than "a game". Whether a team wins or loses is itself the result of 100+ plays. With that in mind, DVOA is a far more robust measure than W-L percentage.

Man, I'm totally drinking the site's Kool-Aid here.

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by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:18pm

Hey, ya' don't have to be an aficianado of the sugary imitation grape flavored stuff to understand that "win" or "loss" is often entirely too vague a measure to be a useful metric of quality. One of the reasons I like the game so much is because it is so hard to measure

91
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 4:05pm

So, ceteris paribus, how often should a team with a net 35% DVOA advantage lose?
Yes, this is over-simplified, but let's see a ballpark estimate.

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The standard is the standard!

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by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 4:08pm

you seem to be forgetting that regardless of coaching caliber, ceteris paribus, home team vs "equal" opponent typically get favored by 3 to 3.5 points.

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The standard is the standard!

34
by Eddo :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:21pm

I think I'm actually going to side with TIF here - Scott's writings over the years have a heavily-implied stance against Tomlin (the "play down to their opponents" thing in particular).

Tomlin's probably a good coach, though, and his team is never bad, so I think both Scott's and TIF's constant harping gets very old very fast, though.

EDIT: Clearly, I mean "side with TIF" on the issue of "Scott is also obsessed with (implicitly) criticizing Tomlin", not on TIF's overall anti-Tomlin stance.

41
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:39pm

I was trying to give Scott credit, by assuming he understood that by focusing on winning percentage as favorites, and record against the spread as favorite, especially when favored by 10 or more, what you are really doing is attempting to measure the relative performance of non bad NFL coaches, since bad NFL coaches don't often enjoy being 10 point favorites, compared to good NFL coaches.

If the contention is that Tomlin is not among the best NFL coaches, or that Tomlin is probably average at best, those seem reasonable arguments not worth spending much time debating. When you say that the guy with the 13th best winning percentage, of the 97 guys who have coached 100 games, is a bad NFL head coach, or that that the guy with 9th best winning percentage of those 56 who have coached 150 games, is a bad NFL head coach, those are remarkable claims, requiring remarkable evidence.

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by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 3:22pm

Will Allen argument 1:
"tomlin win %, 9th best, blah blah"

argument 2:
"understand that "win" or "loss" is often entirely too vague a measure to be a useful metric of quality. "

cognitive dissonance overload...

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The standard is the standard!

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by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 4:28pm

You really don't handle language well, do you? Winning percentage often is not a useful metric for performance evaluation. The smaller the sample of games, and the more fine the delineations attempted, the less useful it is
As the sample grows, and the felineations attempted more broad, it becomes more useful. To use winning percentage to delineate between the top 10 and top 20 coaches is kind of pointless, especially if you don'

101
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 4:35pm

"You really don't handle language well, do you? Winning percentage often is not a useful metric for performance evaluation. The smaller the sample of games, and the more fine the delineations attempted, the less useful it is
As the sample grows, and the felineations attempted more broad, it becomes more useful. To use winning percentage to delineate between the top 10 and top 20 coaches is kind of pointless, especially if you don'"

uhhh.... calling the proof-reader....

Do you regularly trot out self-admittedly useless metrics to try and make your argument?
Such as "9th best winning %"
?

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The standard is the standard!

107
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 5:02pm

Having internet issue, but if you are unable to grasp the difference netween "often not useful" and "useless", well, have a nice day.

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by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 3:25pm

scott was making the same argument I was making (albeit, he used a different link).

and that specifically is---tomlin teams lose way more than league average to lesser( by way of W/L record, point spread, whatever) competition.

so either have the guts to outright call him an obsessed idiot like you are calling me, or shut up and tuck your tail.

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The standard is the standard!

93
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 4:15pm

According to PFR there are 483 coaches who've coached in the NFL ... http://www.pro-football-reference.com/coaches/

Given you don't think Tomlin is above average ... which 241 do you consider better than him?

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by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 4:26pm

well since a lot of them are dead....

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The standard is the standard!

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by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 4:21pm

No, he wasn't, as he explains elsewhere in the thread.

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by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 4:24pm

which one of his points (1,2, or 3) in post 88 (his only post in this thread's comments) do you think addressed and retracted the comment he made earlier about "small games"

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115
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 5:42pm

The point to which I was referring was the one where he stated that Tomlin was not a bad coach.

77
by mjb :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 2:58pm

I would just like to question Scott Kacsmar as to why he included the Eagles in his assessment of inferior competition? The team was number 1 in DAVE when they played the Steelers, and number 2 in DVOA as of last week. So how is it that the Eagles are an inferior team?

88
by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 3:57pm

1. News of Roethlisberger's actual injury diagnosis came many hours after I wrote what I did here.

2. I've never said Tomlin is a bad coach, but he's certainly not someone I think that highly of. I don't think this was ever published, but we did a FOA Q&A for SB Nation, and I was asked what makes Tomlin a great coach. I basically went all Jeff Daniels in The Newsroom on it and said he's not great:

"It is hard to tell if it's the opinion of the majority or minority these days, but I have to side with the thought that Mike Tomlin is not a great coach. General manager Kevin Colbert gets the majority of the credit for personnel decisions since he's been on that job since 2000. That was by and large Bill Cowher's team that Tomlin won his Super Bowl with in the 2008 season. The quarterback has always been in place for Tomlin. He was wise to promote Bruce Arians to offensive coordinator in 2007. Even though Tomlin came from a Tampa-2 background, he stuck with Dick LeBeau's 3-4 scheme, as has Keith Butler. The offensive line was always such a nagging issue here until the team started drafting better players and hired Mike Munchak as a positional coach. The defensive back play, which was Tomlin's area of expertise, has continued to decline throughout his tenure.

So it is really hard to find where Tomlin makes his mark on the team when he's always had a Hall of Fame quarterback and has deferred to his talented stable of assistants when it comes to scheme on both sides of the ball. He is clearly more of a motivational coach than a X's and O's genius, and his game management (the clock, fourth-down decisions, challenges, etc.) has always been inconsistent to say the least.

Tomlin has been a good coach and has the respect of his players, but I can't help but think there are 10-12 guys out there who could have taken this job in 2007 and produced similar, if not better results."

3. As for the Eagles, that team beat CLE/CHI, lost to DET/WAS, and just check the upcoming schedule. I bet the end-of-year results won't reflect them as a good team, and it certainly fits a pattern of road performances for the Steelers over the years.

94
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 4:16pm

That's a reasonable assessment.

98
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 4:27pm

So he has - per you- the much trumpeted "9th best win % of all time coaches with 150 games" , but you now agree 10-12 current coaches could have done just as well or better.

LMAO.

so
1) is coaching easier today than in the past?
or
2) is there a higher across the board caliber of coach than in the past?

or
3) both?

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

99
by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 4:27pm

I'll list those guys too

Belichick
Carroll
Dungy
Coughlin
Reid
Payton
McCarthy
Arians
Jim Harbaugh
John Harbaugh
Rex Ryan (wow, a QB for a change)
Kubiak

I'd probably go Rivera, Lewis and Fox as well.

103
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 4:47pm

wow, with the "probably" that pushes the list to 15.

I'd love to see what Payton would have done with this offense.

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

135
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 9:27am

Belichick -- give you this one
Carroll -- have we forgotten the NWE years?
Dungy -- agreed
Coughlin -- maybe. Coughlin's stuff either worked really well or not at all.
Reid -- mostly agreed. PIT's roster construction is the anti-thesis of a Reid team, though.
Payton -- don't agree at all. Payton rode a HOF QB and one season of good defense to a title, and has pissed away the rest of that team's potential

McCarthy -- McCarthy has had an almost identical career to Tomlin, with a lower degree of difficulty (NFCN vs AFCN) and less success.

Arians -- mostly agreed. I wonder if there's some Jim Harbaugh in him, though
Jim Harbaugh -- briefly maximized a decent roster, then ran it into the ground because he's such an ass.

John Harbaugh -- Doesn't he coach PIT 2.0 already?
Rex Ryan (wow, a QB for a change) -- like evil Tom Coughlin.
Kubiak -- really? He had a good season, but was Kubiak's 2015 any different than Tomlin's 2008?

137
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 10:58am

Jim Harbaugh -- briefly maximized a decent roster, then ran it into the ground because he's such an ass.

Eh? This makes no sense on any level. A coach, not in charge of personnel, runs the roster into the ground, in what fashion? Because why? Because certain personalities somehow degrade talent? What?

117
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 5:51pm

Again, you are incompetent with language, to be generous. "Reasonable assessment" is not a synonym for "agreement", especially when one of major points is that the tools we have only allow pretty broad delineations. The reason I use the metrics I do, while acknowledging its limits, is because A)it isn't a ridiculously small sample, while still being smaller than I would prefer, and B) Tomlin isn't towards the middle of the sample, but in the upper quintile.

Look, if you have a sample of a 100 or more games which puts Tomlin in the bottom quintile, I'm happy to take it into consideration, as evidence that he is a bad NFL coach.

131
by jtr :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 8:07am

Re: Scott's assessment of Tomlin

>The defensive back play, which was Tomlin's area of expertise, has continued to decline throughout his tenure.

The one area I think Tomlin deserves more credit is the wide receiver group on the team. Tomlin was a WR coach before he was a DB coach, and WR was his position when he played high school and college ball. He's certainly been a part of the decision-making process, and perhaps development process, of what has consistently been an excellent group of low-drafted receivers.

134
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 9:14am

"It is hard to tell if it's the opinion of the majority or minority these days, but I have to side with the thought that Mike Tomlin is not a great coach. General manager Kevin Colbert gets the majority of the credit for personnel decisions since he's been on that job since 2000. That was by and large Bill Cowher's team that Tomlin won his Super Bowl with in the 2008 season. The quarterback has always been in place for Tomlin. He was wise to promote Bruce Arians to offensive coordinator in 2007. Even though Tomlin came from a Tampa-2 background, he stuck with Dick LeBeau's 3-4 scheme, as has Keith Butler. The offensive line was always such a nagging issue here until the team started drafting better players and hired Mike Munchak as a positional coach. The defensive back play, which was Tomlin's area of expertise, has continued to decline throughout his tenure."

So the difference between Tomlin and Belichick is that Belichick has more influence on player-personnel decisions? Because everything you just said is true of NWE, too.

Tomlin has never had a sub-.500 season. He coaches in the toughest division in the NFL -- the division where Belichick made the playoffs once in 5 years and had a sub-.500 record. Belichick has made the playoffs once without Tom Brady.

141
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 12:45pm

" the division where Belichick made the playoffs once in 5 years and had a sub-.500 record.

Relevance?

2
by Travis :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:08am

Vince Verhei: I don't know if the flagging ratings have hurt ad sales or what, but this game saw three punts, a lost fumble, and a touchdown before the first commercial break.

Carolina-New Orleans didn't end until 4:45 eastern, and the NFL waits for the early games to end before having ad breaks in late games on the same network.

3
by jtr :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:14am

The most damning thing I can say about the Steelers offense is that they made Byron Maxwell look awesome. Maxwell had four pass breakups on the game, which is as many as he had in the previous five weeks combined.

8
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:27am

It was clear he wasn't planting and driving through his throws after the injury. The power and accuracy suffered immensely.

I would say the most damning thing was that 3rd and 1 when Jones first game in and calling a pass when Bell was gashing the Dolphins D. Well, that and not rolling Receivers into the holes that Miami was creating with the attention they were giving Brown. But let's start with the easy stuff.

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

22
by fyo :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:59am

The Dolphins decided to use Maxwell in trail technique with safety help over the top to bracket in Brown. Other teams do this all the time, but it's the first time I've seen the Dolphins do so this year. It did leave a receiver 1-on-1 on a corner on the other side of the field quite consistently, but when that receiver is Cobi Hamilton, signed of the practice squad exactly one day earlier, you can get away with it.

59
by gomer_rs :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:13pm

So you're saying Maxwell is better when playing LIKE he's opposite Richard Sherman than playing like he IS Richard Sherman?
_______

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

4
by DEW :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:21am

I think the media would be fair to bury the Steelers with "no shot against the Patriots" stories this week, given that Ben has a torn meniscus and Landry Jones will be the QB. Losing a random game to a random bad team (and the Dolphins, sadly, are as random a bad team as it gets) is nothing; trying to beat the New England Murder Machine without your quarterback is a much different story.

Also, seriously, that Falcons-Seahawks call had better have some people pointing out that the CFL has had replay review of OPI/DPI (upon coach's challenge) for several years now and it hasn't killed the game up there.

5
by MJK :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:21am

The Cleveland thing is driving me crazy. Hue Jackson made ABSOLUTELY the correct call in going for 2 early. At the point he made the decision, he was down by 9 and knew that he would need either:

* A 2-pt plus another TD (w/XP) to tie, or
* A failed 2-pt, another TD, and a FG

With effectively three clock stoppages left, your endgame strategy is completely different depending on whether you need two more scores or one. There is incredible value in the knowledge of whether you will succeed in the 2-pt, so you want to find that out as early as possible.

If you go for 1 there and assume you'll get another TD, you're essentially putting the entire game on the outcome of 2-pt on the second attempt.

But if you go for 2 and assume you'll get another TD, you have that same probababilty of getting the 2-pt, but you still have a nonzero chance of winning if you fail it.

37
by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:29pm

Yeah, this nonsense about "keeping it a one score game" seems to pop up every week. Guys, a missed 2pter effectively ends the game no matter when it happens, only failing first provides some nominal (or not so nominal depending how much time is left) strategic benefits. If you want to argue for waiting, you must be able to explain why the second attempt would be more likely to succeed than the first.

43
by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:43pm

I know it's preaching to the choir here, but it drives me absolutely crazy that too many people cannot understand that postponing the moment of certain defeat as long as possible is not the same thing as maximizing chance of victory.

52
by RickD :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:03pm

+1; +1; +1

Rule of thumb: if it's a math problem and Phil Simms is on the other side, you're right.

71
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 2:07pm

I'd be interested in a look at how the opposite team reacts up 8 vs up 9 late.

Is there a tendency to play like Indy, where you relax and give up a gimme TD or three?

6
by jtr :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:24am

That Burfict clip really pisses me off, and I'm usually not terribly sympathetic to the Patriots. I don't think there's another guy in the league who tries so hard to injure his opponents. Off the top of my head, he twisted Cam Newton's injured ankle after a sack, shoved Roethlisburger's injured shoulder after he got him on the ground, attempted to take Antonio Brown's head off in the playoffs, and here he goes into the back of Bennett's knees for no reason. The NFL has enough injuries without Burfict explicitly attempting to injure every star player he plays against. I hope they throw bigger and bigger suspensions at him until he either cleans up his game or gets kicked out of the league.

9
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:28am

you missed the shots he took on Leveon Bell and Maxx Williams.

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

125
by Alternator :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 7:38pm

I think at this point, they should just point to the body of work and suspend him indefinitely "for the good of the game", and then The RogFather should just block his calls.

C'mon, abuse the power for a worthwhile purpose, RogFather.

143
by jtr :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 12:55pm

We just need a couple of players (there shouldn't be any shortage of volunteers) to tell Goodell they saw Burfict smoking a joint. That seems to be the only way to consistently get the Ginger Hammer to mete out justice.

138
by jtr :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 11:20am

Oh, and here is Burfict stomping on Blount as he tries to get off the ground. He's just flat-out evil.

http://deadspin.com/nfl-looking-into-yet-another-dirty-play-by-vontaze-b...

140
by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 12:28pm

He's certainly a slow learner. Maybe having him go on sabbatical until next summer will help his cognitive processes.

7
by Bernie :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:26am

I'll tell you how it feels to be a colts fan. So far this season we have lost to Detroit, Houston and JAcksonville, and struggled to beat Chicago and San Diego. With the exception of Denver, we have pretty much played a who's who of awful NFL teams, and struggled mightily. This is not a good team by any metric. Luck and Hilton have played ok at times, but not well enough to cover the massive lack of talent and coaching begin brought by the rest of the organisation. This team will receive a top 5 pick in next years draft, and going by past results, we will botch it terribly.
People seem amazed this could happen so quickly, but in reality this is the same team, but with slightly better division play, meaning we've lost that advantage and are nowhere near making the playoffs.

38
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:34pm

The Lions pretty much define replacement-level this year. Even though to do so with 100% offense and 0% defense.

They are 3-3. Every game has been within one score. Two games were decided by 1 pt. Two games were decided by 3 pts.

53
by RickD :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:06pm

There's no getting past the fact that Ryan Grigson is an incompetent GM. He inherited a good situation from Polian, lucked into getting a good QB (no pun intended, really) and cannot build a remotely respectable roster.

63
by Lebo :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:21pm

I don't think Grigson inherited a good situation from Polian. That roster didn't have much talent that wasn't ancient (in NFL terms). And yet, incredibly, in the intervening five years, Grigson has produced a roster with even less talent.

I've been a Grigson / Pagano apologist from the start. But even I'm now rooting for them to be replaced. There is bugger-all talent on this team. The guys they do have lack fundamentals. And the team is out-coached every week.

I'm left to hope that the Colts will be picking high enough in next year's draft so that we trade down with a quarterback-needy team and walk away from the draft with a quarter of a new roster. Kind of like the Cleveland Browns did this year.
Yes, I'm now wishing my team was more like the Cleveland Browns.
Damn you, Grigson.
Damn you!

73
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 2:27pm

Consider that Reggie McKenzie took over at the Raiders in 2012 and had to gut the roster and start over.

I'm not entirely convinced by what's gone on there but it seems the commentators are beginning to believe he's done a good job of getting talent onto the team.

10
by osoviejo :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:29am

On the Falcons last play that has sparked national outrage over the missed DPI, Julio Jones had a clean release off the line by virtue of an uncalled head slap against Richard Sherman. It was sufficiently violent to make Sherman's head do an abrupt left turn, and nearly put him on the ground.

So, if we're going to go back and clear up all the missed calls on that play it's at best a do-over on 4th-and-10 for the Falcons.

https://giphy.com/gifs/3o6Zte64NeOYRvM3K0

65
by mcheshier :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:26pm

Don't forget the missed DPI vs. Kearse earlier in the game, and all the times Bennett was held in the first half. The only holding calls I saw were when players were tackled. The refs were clearly 'letting them play', and the football game was much more enjoyable as a result.

11
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:30am

I'll be interested to see Rodgers' DYAR from yesterday, because that was easily the worst game I've seen played by a great qb, who still ended up with decent traditional stats. I think he may have left at least 20 points on the field. As much as the criticism of McCarthy's offense may be warranted, their problems yesterday would have been solved by Rodgers throwing on target to wide open receivers, throwing on time to wide open receivers while being under zero pressure, and avoiding really stupid interceptions and fumbles. I have no idea what he was looking at on the int; besides not seeing the safety just standing there, he seemed to miss the fact that the corner had the receiver so well covered that he may have intercepted it as well. The fumble was the result of just being ridiculously sloppy with the ball on a designed qb draw. I'd like to credit Marinelli for working wonders with pretty bad talent, but without the awful performance by Rodgers, I think the Packers score in the 30s pretty easily.

The Cowboys are now really getting their return on investment from three 1st rounders spent on o-linemen, and as much as love seeing Jerry Jones disappointed, as opposed to Jerry Jones gloating, I really like this development, in the hope it'll encourage more teams to spend resources on offensive line play. They'd be crazy to even consider pulling Prescott for Romo at this point. The easy decision is to ride Prescott as far as you can, in the hopes he never hurts you badly, and use Romo in a relief role later, in a late season game with the playoffs on the line, or in the playoffs, if Prescott gets overmatched, and you need a spark. Romo still has considerable trade value, it seems to me, Prescott's cap number is ridiculously low, and the opportunity seems to exist for the Cowboys to substantially improve their defensive talent in the off season.

17
by BlueStarDude :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:39am

RE: “without the awful performance by Rodgers, I think the Packers score in the 30s pretty easily”

Agreed. Dallas has been lucky in the lack of quality QBing they have faced so far, and that has probably been the most important factor in their defense holding up.

I don’t see how this team can make noise in the playoffs given their utter lack of a pass rush. The fan in me hopes that Lawrence improves and that Gregory coming back in game 15 or whatever makes a difference. But those things are pipe dreams.

p.s. Nice to see the Vikes doing well.

19
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:50am

It's all come down to matchups. There are some playoff teams that the Cowboys can beat by controlling the line of scrimmage on offense, and being the beneficiary of crappy qbing by the opponent, just like their formula so far this year. If they do get improvement out of their d-line, look out, because the best counter to a dominant defense is a dominant o-line, as long as you can occasionally stop the opponent's offense.

Stephen Jones tackling his old man (ok, a little hyperbolic), as ol' whiskybreath was trying to draft Manziel, may turn out to be the most important event in 21st century Cowboys' history.

23
by LyleNM :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:00pm

Rodgers really reminded me of Kaepernick a couple years ago. It was pretty clear that his receivers were having trouble getting open because there were many plays where he looked over the field and couldn't even begin to pull the trigger. But then, there were also many plays as you note where he was missing receivers that had gotten open. It's like he hasn't recovered from the shell shock of last year and can't believe it when a receiver does get himself open.

32
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:18pm

I'm beginning to wonder if Rodgers has lost confidence in his accuracy. Can QBs lose it like pitcher Rick Ankiel did in baseball? Or is this just a slump as Favre said during the broadcast?

This is also the second game the Packers have honored Favre since he retired, the first being last Thanksgiving. Both times they've played badly, including Rodgers. They should think again before deciding to honor him a third time.

40
by Sakic :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:37pm

While I'm definitely in the camp that feels McCarthy's offense has become predictable (and don't get me started on the fact that their backup running backs were wide receivers) yesterday's failures were clearly on Rodgers. To me it seems like Rodgers progression is this:

1) Try to draw the defense offsides.
2) Hurry up and try to catch the defense with too many men on the field.
3) Completely ignore the open guy for an 8-10 yard completion in hopes of a big play down the field.
4) Force the ball down the field and hope for defensive PI.
5) Scramble

In addition, his mechanics seem to have deteriorated over the last year or so...I'm seeing numerous backfoot and off balance throws even when there is no pressure on him. I remember a game last year when he made a throw while not being under pressure (granted, it was a completion) with both feet off the ground when he let the ball go. If you have the arm strength you can get away with that for awhile but as age begins to catch up those flaws begin to hurt you. The missed TD to Cobb (when the defense jumped but wasn't called) is a throw he's made hundreds of times and he air mailed it. It's really strange to see from a guy that's had historically amazing accuracy.

Just my $.02.

45
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:48pm

Yeah, I was just astounded by how badly he played yesterday, while compiling, by traditional stats, decent numbers. I don't get what is going on with him, but a few more performances like that, and McCarthy's gone, because it is a helluva lot easier to try hiring a head coach who can coax a better performance out of Aaron Rodgers, than it is to find a new qb who can perform at the level Rodgers has displayed for the vast majority of his career.

I wonder if McCarthy is gone even if the Packers make the playoffs, but lose their first game, with the offense looking sluggish.

64
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:25pm

The Vikings certainly picked the right year to go all in.

68
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:45pm

If you had told me weeks ago that Cowboys at Vikings on Dec. 1 might have HFA implications for both teams, I would have replied "Is poster drunk?", but it isn't an unreasonable proposition at this point, looking at the schedules. However, the Falcons and Seahawks are good bets, too, again, looking at the schedules.

108
by jmaron :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 5:03pm

GB really hasn't been playing very well for quite a while. Over their last 16 regular season games they are 8-8 with -10 pt differential. In that stretch they've played 7 teams with winning records and they are 1-6, with a -64 pt differential.

They just don't pass the ball efficiently anymore. Rodgers NYA for 2015/16 is more than a yard lower than his career average and 2 yards under peak Rodgers.

12
by BlueStarDude :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:31am

Hi, Aaron,

Long time, no time.

RE: "the Dallas secondary isn't that good" and "on other plays, Rodgers holds onto the ball for a while and it seems like he can't find anyone open."

Not sure how much of Dallas you have watched this season, but that second statement has been true a lot so far. The Dallas pass rush is miserable, and the LBs other than Lee nothing to write home about, but their formerly awful secondary (especially when without Scandrick) has been holding up surprisingly well. Jones seems to be playing solid, Brown seems to be a find, Claiborne is playing better than ever (bar is LOW, of course) and Carr better than he has in years. It’s a bend-don’t-break kind of defense, which may or may not be sustainable, but has been working alright so far, thanks almost entirely to the secondary.

In short, the secondary might not be "that good," but they are playing better than what is typically implied by that.

18
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:39am

The Cowboys dbs are definitely better than their defensive front, but that isn't saying much. It's really hard to evaluate them on yesterday's performance, because Rodgers kept effing up, despite feeling zero pressure. Marinelli's got everybody playing hard, which is typical of his defenses, even when they have substantial talent deficits.

13
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:32am

"But there is no excuse for allowing Ajayi to rush for 204 yards."

It was a clinic on watching a 1-starter-level DE/OLB rotation try to set the edge--- and fail, combined with a slow-as-rocks MLB group trying to catch him in pursuit.

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

36
by jtr :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:28pm

Jarvis Jones was certainly guilty of failing to set the edge on several Miami's big runs. At least he balanced that with his usual lack of pass rush. James Harrison is probably the best OLB on the active roster at age 38; he's probably as ineffective a pass-rusher as the rest of the OLB's on the team, but at least he plays the run well.
As far as the ILB's go, Timmons has definitely lost a step. I wonder if a move to OLB might make sense for him at some point, since he's big for an ILB and he's shown some pass rush chops on blitzes. Second-string ILB Vince Williams has been playing well this season in place of Shazier, but he came out of the Miami game with cramps. That forced seventh-round rookie Tyler Matakevich into the lineup, and he played like a seventh-round rookie with a reputation for not being very athletic.

14
by Lyford :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:33am

"we know there's a reluctance to make that call [DPI] because of how decisive it is"

In this case, the failure to make the call on Sherman's blatant interference was what was decisive. If they correctly call it, the game's not over. Atlanta could miss a FG, they could kick one and Seattle could come back. But the officials reluctance to make the call (the correct call, the one that they're paid to make) effectively ended the game.

62
by milo :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:19pm

Scott: I think it was enough for DPI, but we know there's a reluctance to make that call because of how decisive it is.

Aaron: But while officiating like this goes in favor of the home team more often than not, it does not always

The Saints have had two fourth down DPI's called against them in the last 4 minutes of two games (of 5=40%) at home so far this year. One resulted in the winning score and the other in the tying score. Neither was a result of the receiver's arm(s) being grabbed in any way. SI.com wrote of the first: The pass interference penalty called against Saints linebacker Craig Robertson on fourth down with 1:37 remaining was borderline at best and cost New Orleans a victory. It’s very difficult to make the case that Derek Carr’s pass to Jalen Richard was catchable.

Y'all need to get out more.

79
by RickD :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 3:15pm

It's very reputation based. "Everybody knows" the Saints' pass defense is awful, while the Seahawks are considered elite. And cornerbacks like Richard Sherman, Darrelle Revis, Josh Norman, etc., are allowed to get away with more contact and grabbing than most CBs are.

Well at least Vernon Davis was flagged for taking a free throw with a football. #ProtectTheShield

16
by Eddo :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:36am

"Just saw this on Twitter -- other than backup quarterback Brett Hundley, every single available Green Bay Packer offensive player saw at least one snap on their first drive, including both backup offensive linemen."

Do the Packers really only carry two backup lineman? That seems risky to me.

25
by Travis :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:01pm

Most teams have only seven offensive linemen active for a given game (plus one or two inactive). It's rare that you need more, though the Falcons did have three of their seven injured against the Vikings two years ago.

27
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:03pm

They only dressed two backups. There are three backups on the active roster, another (C Corey Linsley who may have lost his starting job to Tretter) on the PUP list, and two more on the practice squad.

21
by Joe Pancake :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:53am

Great pull on the Jay Buhner/Dan Quinn likeness.

Sherman probably got away with one, but that's an incredibly difficult call to see, and it's also a difficult call to make on a 4th-and-10, jump-ball bomb into traffic. I'd rather see the occasional DPI not get called there than see a bunch of ticky-tack stuff called (like on Rogers-Cromartie). Nothing is worse than seeing the offense get bailed out on a desperation heave by phantom contact.

I'm generally in favor of more expansive replay, even for some penalties (e.g., facemasking), but I think PI is a bridge too far. I worry it would only increase the number of calls, which would decrease my enjoyment of the game.

By the way, I've read (on Seahawks-centric forums, mind you) that Jones actually commits a foul at the beginning of the play because he shucks Sherman by the head -- and he does do this, but it's very brief. What do people think, if Sherman should have been flagged, should Jones have been flagged too? Is it even a penalty to shuck a guy by his helmet? Seems like it should be, but I don't know what rule it violates. Illegal hands to the face only covers the facemask area. Is it just unnecessary roughness?

31
by osoviejo :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:13pm

It's a head slap, a personal foul. Brief doesn't matter (all slaps are brief).

http://operations.nfl.com/the-rules/2016-nfl-rulebook/#article-12.-strik...

44
by Peregrine :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:43pm

Is a DPI "bailing out" the offense if the receiver would likely have caught the ball if the pass interference hadn't been committed? Ryan threw deep for Julio Jones, who is in the conversation for best WR in the league, and he's very much capable of pulling down a big catch even when covered by Sherman and Thomas. He was in position to do so. And the Falcons would have been at about the Seattle 37 with about 90 seconds and needing only a FG to win.

I think if it's called in the 1st quarter, it should be called in crunch time in the 4th quarter. Officials should be consistent that way, because not throwing a flag can be just as decisive as throwing the flag.

57
by gomer_rs :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:12pm

They don't call those elbow holds, which are done by every DB, because the DB's body blocks the official who's job it is to make the call. Look for an elbow hold on almost every play where a WR attempts a 1 handed catch and you'll find one more times than not.
_______

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

67
by Joe Pancake :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:38pm

I was speaking in general about "bailing out" the offense, not about the Sherman-Jones plays specifically.

However, I disagree that the games needs to be called perfectly consistently from beginning to end. It seems reasonable to me that a ref would call some ticky-tack stuff at the beginning of the game to set the tone and discourage certain behavior early on, but then let more stuff go in crunch time. I find it very unsatisfying as a spectator to have the game's most important plays be penalties. If it's blatant, then of course the ref must call it, otherwise I prefer the refs "swallow their whistles" in crunch time -- as making a phantom call in that situation is much worse than letting a questionable play slide, in my opinion.

102
by Peregrine :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 4:36pm

I think the officiating should be consistent from start to finish in a game and it should be consistent across the league.

Games are decided by the total number of points scored over four quarters (and occasional OT). If referee decisions make it easier for one team to score in the 1st quarter than it does for the opposing team in the 4th quarter, something is wrong. Scoring points in 4th quarter crunch time shouldn't have a higher degree of difficulty than in the 1st quarter, regardless of spectator tastes.

46
by Sakic :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:48pm

"What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?! He had 30 home runs, over 100 RBIs last year! He's got a rocket for an arm.... You don't know what the hell you're doing!"

26
by johonny :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:03pm

Mia-Pitt It feels like every season a team will gave a Huh? game. Last year Miami rolled the Titans and still stunk the rest of the way. The big positive in this game was Adam Gase canned 4 players and bench a few more after last game and it appears he has taken over more exercising of his roster composition power and isn't relying on a shaky front office to evaluate his roster for him. Miami had plays from their TEs something the Steeler sclearly didnt prepare for. Miami's CBs were actually near wide receivers all day. Miami's oline gave Tannehill time and he he wastn't sacked, didn't fumble, and didn't throw a pick. A rarity that Tannehill avoided the big three in a game. What does it mean...well probably nothing, but we'll see. AFCeast watch: 1) NE-their schedule isn't looking as formidable as it did in preseason. The AFC looks weak and the super bowl odds go up each week. 2) Buf-they typically own Miami and a long winning streak and a lot of AFC losses from their wild card competition mean their is going to be playoff talk. 3) Miami-the Jets have to win or they'll be looking up at a bad roster that somehow is ahead of them. 4) Jets-Must win tonight or its a pretty disappointing season and they don't even have a young QB to toss in their and evaluate second half if the wheel totally come off.

29
by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:08pm

jets have b. petty to examiedn in second halg abfter team loses Turd Bowl '16 to cleve. Maimi neew coach so tema will be excited rest of season probably so long as A./ gase not total clown show klike les steckel or rod rust or lou holtz or ray Rhodes in green bay.
Buff- okay. rex ryan mediocre, mabnybe good if personnel really good. nto sure abnut this team but have chance at playofgfgs

72
by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 2:24pm

To comment on the Jets' and Dolphins' situations, both coaches have too loyal to the veteran quarterback or running back. At least Gase just started; Bowles should have no excuses for his performance so far this year. As far as the Jets not having a young qb to throw in there, Raiderjoe is correct they have Bryce Petty to throw in there after Geno Smith fails, which everyone is assuming will happen. It's still an assumption, and I doubt Smith will do worse than Fitzpatrick has so far when he starts against Baltimore or Cleveland.

This Jets fan is rooting for every loss possible; the best case scenario is that Petty looks great over the last 4-5 games, but they still end up with enough losses to draft Myles Garrett. Another plus would be firing the guy who thinks punting on 4th and 2 while down 11 points midway through the fourth quarter is a good strategy to defend against the New York media.

39
by James-London :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:37pm

This is what the Miami Offense was supposed to look like all year. Two drops and a penalty took 3 TDs off the board which won't fly most of the time. It's one thing to it against a banged-up Pittsburgh D that can't buy pass pressure when healthy; I'll be much happier if Miami can show the same performance level against a much better Buffalo defense.

As for the D; Cam Wake can still bring it, and desperation means the plan to have him as a pass rush specialist has disappeared. Mario Williams can't or won't bring it-his arse got nailed to the bench, and Miami were all the better for it.
Even Maxwell looked competent.

I'm skeptical that this is the beginning of anything significant, but it's nice to have one week that isn't simple misery

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

61
by RickD :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:19pm

How much of this comes down to the coaching staff's insistence on playing Arian Foster over Ajayi? Did they not see the fork?

78
by johonny :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 3:14pm

Not much since Foster actually returned to play in this game. Ajayi been playing for weeks now, he only missed the first game because he wasn't practicing hard. The head coach admitted he was rotating backs too much, but that rotation started after Foster got hurt. The last two week there were no holes for Ajayi to run, not enough first downs period, 20 minutes of possession time and down on the scoreboard makes it impossible to even establish a running game. It had a lot to do with the blocking and them using a H-back instead of strict tight end sets. Tannehill looks better when he has an H-back/TE. Miami the past few seasons couldn't do anything against the Bills oline, if that changes then this game is lightbulb moment. If not, then it will become apparent quickly.

111
by James-London :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 5:27pm

I think it's much more to do with a: Miami having their preferred O-Line (without Billy Turner or Dallas Thomas) on the field for the first time and b: playing a Steelers team with injuries on it's D line & at LB. It might have been different with Cam Heywood and Ryan Shazier on the field.

As I said earlier, it's encouraging, but I want to see them give Buffalo's D a game next week before I start buying in. Miami buried Tennessee last year and that was the definition of "sound & fury, signifying nothing", colour me skeptical.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

28
by tjb :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:06pm

Kapernick's stat line actually overstates his performance - the 53 yard TD to Torrey Smith was the result of a completely blown coverage assignment by the Bills that left Smith with no defenders within 30 yards and Kap still nearly blew the pass by massively underthrowing it. He also hit Lorenzo Alexander in the chest on an attempted screen pass and was very fortunate that Alexander dropped it because it was 6 the other way if he had hung on to the ball.

The Niners aren't going to be good even if they timewarped in Joe Montana from 1989, so it isn't all on the QB but they need to find out if they have someone even slightly serviceable on the roster. So far, it isn't looking good and I wouldn't be shocked if Chip Kelly goes with Ponder next week.

50
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:58pm

Man, it'd be great to see The Return of the Ponderous One, and that would be the strongest indicator yet that Kaep's career is over.

58
by RickD :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:13pm

Aren't there good QBs coming out this year? That's probably the 49ers best hope, since they'll be drafting early. Certainly neither Gabbert nor Guy-Who-Lost-His-Job-To-Gabbert is the answer.

74
by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 2:31pm

There's DeShaun Watson, Brad Kaaya and DeShone Kizer. Watson had a decent weekend, but Kaaya and Kizer had terrible weekends. Walter Football has Kizer going first, but throwing a pick six like he did against Stanford could knock him down. All of them could decide to stay in school to avoid going to Cleveland. The highest ranked senior is Chad Kelly at Ole Miss, who is projected to go in the 2nd round by CBS Sports. They also have Mitch Trubisky from North Carolina going in the first round, but I haven't heard much about him before the last couple of weeks.

Of course, they could always draft Myles Garrett. I'd prefer the Jets had him playing behind Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson. I'm sure the rest of the AFC East would prefer that not to happen.

76
by gomer_rs :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 2:54pm

Really you'd probably want next year when Browning and Rosen could come out early.
_______

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

30
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:12pm

"On a franchise that has employed Bob Waterfield, Norm Van Brocklin, Roman Gabriel, Jim Everett, and Kurt Warner, it's Case Keenum who now has the team record with 19 consecutive completions. I'm starting to think we won't see Jared Goff this year."
-Vince

Keep in mind his opponent. In last week's Quick Reads column, the Lions defense was referred to as a "dumpster fire". I'm afraid that is a slanderous insult to dumpster fires. The Lions defense is more like a dumpster filled with tires, feces, and plastic shavings, that was then hit by napalm. At their current rate, they will be giving the 2015 Saints a run for their money when it comes to pass defense ineptitude.

In other words, once Keenum plays more of the competent defenses left on their schedule, expect more chatter about Goff getting a chance.

66
by aces4me :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:28pm

"Keep in mind his opponent. In last week's Quick Reads column, the Lions defense was referred to as a "dumpster fire". I'm afraid that is a slanderous insult to dumpster fires."
Joey

All the +1s.

70
by ChrisS :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:56pm

No, you are misinterpreting the Lions behavior. The dumpster fire is an ingenious tactic that works in the last minutes of a game to distract the opposing QB, resulting in game saving interceptions. Brilliant I say, Brilliant!

85
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 3:39pm

So in the 4th quarter, after having given up 300+ yards, the Lions DB's are saying, "now we have them right where we want 'em!"

42
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:41pm

I watched a fair portion of Rams-Lions yesterday. Why? Zach Zenner. His jersey hangs in my son's high school; he is, by all accounts, the best player in school history. So, you know, I thought I'd give him a watch. He's . . . pretty much what's expected.

Incidentally, that high school team won the other night, scoring 38 points in the game. This is notable because (A) the team is now 1-6, and (B) the team had, in fact, scored 37 points so far this season.

Also, Saints-Panthers was just as entertainingly terrible as I'd hoped. I kept wondering why the Saints even bothered to run.

75
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 2:36pm

Zenner had an equivalent stat line to Todd Gurley...which says more about the Rams offensive line than it does about Zenner.

Zenner wasn't bad, though, especially for a 3rd stringer. He had a few nifty moves on his long run and his screen pass. The Lions were better off giving carries to him than to the corpse of Justin Forsett. (God I hope Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah get healthy soon.)

119
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 6:02pm

Also, Milkman, I assume you missed the end of the game, where the Rams went full Schiano and crashed the kneeldown formation of the Lions on the second to last snap, which is the most Jeff Risher-era Rams thing ever. On the last snap, the Lions retaliated by diving at the ankles of the Rams defensive line. In the ensuing kerfluffle, Detroit's starting center Travis Swanson injured his hand, which is the most Lions thing ever.

69
by ChrisS :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 1:56pm

wrong spot

104
by Led :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 4:50pm

Re: celebration penalties, Scott said "[h]uman players are going to show human emotions, especially after the ultimate thrill of a touchdown."

I don't really care about celebration penalties one way or another, but I don't understand the idea that players have an uncontrollable need to engage in demonstrative celebrations. Even spiking the ball is banned at most youth and HS levels. Celebrations in college are pretty strictly regulated. So by the time players get to the NFL they should be used to it -- they have to learn to celebrate. Plus there have been plenty of great players over the years who rarely if ever celebrated. In other words, even if you think the rules against celebrating are dumb (and I can see that argument), those rules are almost certainly the EASIEST to follow in the whole rule book. Players that hurt their team by choosing not to follow them should not get a pass. It's just about discipline and self-control.

109
by theslothook :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 5:06pm

Watching the patriots with brady for the first time this season - I spent some time thinking about this collection of talent compares to the 07 squad. Obviously, Brady isn't the same physically as he was then and the o line is definitely worse today, but I could almost buy that this collection of receivers/te are better than 07. Sure, welker is better than edleman, but ammendola, hogan and bennet are far better than watson, gaffney, and stallworth. And the moss gronk comparison likely ends in a wash.

Pats fans have any thoughts?

110
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 5:26pm

"And the moss gronk comparison likely ends in a wash. "

If Gronk finishes with 23 TDs this season I'll quit posting here.

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

113
by Kaelik :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 5:34pm

Finally a reason to root for the Patriots.

118
by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 6:00pm

I've never rooted for the pats before. I am now.

122
by amin purshottam :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 7:03pm

Well they spread the ball around much more because he here are so many good WR & TE ON the team so he wow the get more than 10 or 12 TD's but when healthy, I would take Gronkowski over any other TE or WR IN the game right now. Just my opinion.

136
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 9:30am

"but when healthy"

Gronk will have that on his epitaph. He's like the offensive version of Bob Sanders.

142
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 12:50pm

I understand the point of this hyperbole, but you do realize it is hyperbole, right?

144
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 1:42pm

Sort of. Gronkowski has played seven seasons. He has played a "complete season" twice, with complete season defined as at least n-1 games played, where n is the length of the regular season.

Sanders managed twice in 8 seasons. Gale Sayers and Terrell Davis managed it four times in seven year careers.

So yes, he's somewhat healthier than Bullet Bob, but he's actually missed more games per season than Davis or Sayers did. And those guys are considered the gold standard of if-not-for-injuries. Sanders and Beattie Feathers are less heralded, but also more affected by their injury history.

146
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 2:45pm

The comparison only works on a surface level, though. Of Sanders' six incomplete seasons, he maxed out at 6 games played, and failed to make it past week 2 in three of them. By comparison, Gronk's incomplete seasons were 11, 7, 15, 15 and 4 (current), respectively. Even if Gronk somehow blows out his knee in practice this week, he will still have played significantly more of the possible games than Sanders.

The Sayers/Davis comparison isn't very apt because their "gold standard" is more about a career cut short than it is Sanders-esque availability. If Gronk's hypothetical knee injury leads to career ending complications, then it becomes more sensible.

149
by theslothook :: Wed, 10/19/2016 - 12:32am

Tomlin raises a good question though - is Gronk Moss a wash? I think it is. Gronk impacts the run game and probably is a better overall scheme fit than moss was. I would agree for 31 out of 32 teams, Moss is the more valuable player. ON the pats? Not too sure.

150
by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 10/19/2016 - 3:16pm

Considering Brady's current skill set, I would definitely take Gronk.

129
by LionInAZ :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 12:16am

This is enough encouragement for football fans everywhere to tell Belichick to just get the ball to Gronk near the goaline.

120
by Led :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 6:08pm

Not a Pats fan, but I think (grudgingly) that Edelman, when healthy, is better than Welker. His numbers are not as good for sure, but I think that has to do with usage and Brady being not quite as much in his prime. Edelman's physicality provides a dimension that Welker could not. Welker gets the nod on durability however. He was more or less indestructible until age 32.

121
by TomC :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 6:17pm

Thoughts on a game I blame no one for not watching:

1) Man, I don't know if I can do this much longer. DET-CHI, CHI-IND, and JAX-CHI on three consecutive Sundays is a dangerously high dose of bad football.

2) The narrative around the 3rd quarter was that the Bears were dominating but only up 10 points, but the low offensive numbers for the Jags had more to do with Bortles than anything the Bears were doing. Oh, and running T.J. Yeldon into the middle of the line repeatedly and being shocked with the results.

3) Brian Hoyer cost himself at least a few million with that game. Or maybe he didn't---he still didn't throw any picks and had 300 yards passing, so maybe a really bad GM will still be fooled into giving him starter money.

4) In most bad games between two "rebuilding" teams, there are a few obvious bright spots, guys who are clearly going to be part of making one of the teams good again. I honestly didn't see a single one of those in this game. Alshon Jeffery was the best player on the field, but even he was invisible in the 2nd half.

124
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 7:22pm

Hey I just complained about 1 and 4 last week!

Actually, I found this game surprisingly interesting to watch. Bortles is Bortles, but the secondary clamped down for about half the game.

"4) In most bad games between two "rebuilding" teams, there are a few obvious bright spots, guys who are clearly going to be part of making one of the teams good again. I honestly didn't see a single one of those in this game. Alshon Jeffery was the best player on the field, but even he was invisible in the 2nd half."

The receivers were pretty fun to watch. Yes Jeffery "disappeared", but how much of that was just Hoyer?

I also though Tracey Porter had a hell of a game (even if the pick was pure luck), but he's old enough you wonder how long he'll keep it up.

No Kyle Fuller and no Parnell McPhee really puts a damper on this season. Willie Young is a nice player, but he is not what anyone wants as their primary pass rusher.

Freeman and the other linebackers had good games too. Bottling up the Jags running game, and holding their frankly pretty good TEs to 2? catches.

Speaking of the worst part of this game was hearing about the Hoyer-Cutler qb "controversy". I get about 99% of my football talk from FO, so I'm blissfully ignorant of so much stupid meathead talk.

I don't know. There's things to watch, and the Bears aren't being blown out. If things break right they just keep losing close and get a nice high pick (any good QBs in the next class?). Then Fuller and McPhee come back as all-pros :)

126
by TomC :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 7:43pm

Yeah, we have 100% swapped roles this week. I appreciate the fresh take in both cases.

If McPhee is not permanently injured, I am optimistic about his return. I was never sure if Fuller would do more than flash---I worry about his head as much as anything. Porter is good for some excellent plays and long stretches of getting toasted, which is absolutely better than what he replaced but not optimal. You can blame turf monster all you want, but you just cannot fall down where he fell down on Sunday (blitz on, single coverage, nobody behind you).

Even meathead fans that I interact with realize there is no Hoyer-Cutler controversy, but there is a real sense that everyone is ready to hit reset at QB. If they do tank the season and do get a shiny new toy at QB, I wonder what they do with the position in 2017. Play the rookie, release Cutler, and keep Hoyer as backup? That's fine if you don't expect to win *again* in 2017, but I wonder how many freebie years Fox/Pace get. Two is already more than a lot of coaches/GMs; three is really pushing it.

127
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/17/2016 - 8:11pm

If the Bears have a good shot at a top QB prospect, Cutler should have *some* trade value. Then you probably try to keep Hoyer as a backup (or make sure rookie doesn't have to start before ready).

Given how rookie QBs have played recently in the NFL, it's not even unreasonable that not-terrible team with bad luck (which I still believe the Bears are) would have a shot at the playoffs.

And hey, at least we're not rooting for the Panthers or Colts who are terrible even with their franchise QBs playing.

151
by Steve in WI :: Wed, 10/19/2016 - 7:23pm

I keep hearing "Cutler is untradeable" from the media and I don't get it at all. His contract after this year is totally team-friendly (he can be cut almost penalty-free at any time, and his cap hit the next 2 years is $16M and $17M) and this is a league where any QB who can credibly be called a starter gets paid big money by somebody. Plus if the Bears are ready to move on from him they'll take what they can get in terms of picks. I firmly believe the reason he was not traded when Pace/Fox took over was that nobody offered enough that the Bears were willing to part with him, not that nobody would have traded for him at all. Two years later and another two years older, and the team no closer to contending, I think the Bears would be more amenable to a trade.

Is somebody going to give up a 1st round pick for him? Almost certainly not, but that doesn't mean he's worthless.

130
by eggwasp :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 4:04am

Re: Rodgers & GB offense. Maybe all QBs can't play at a high level until they are 38? Is this a wobble year like Rivers has periodically, or is it the genuine slow decline? Maybe he really is getting old a little early - sspecially on an offense traditionally more used to stretching the field than say Brady's.

145
by tuluse :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 1:52pm

Historically a QB's peak is 28-32. He should be at peak performance right now.

147
by Arkaein :: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 2:52pm

Usually when an NFL player declines it's because of physical decline.

This isn't the problem with Rodgers. By all accounts, he's in as good of shape as he's ever been. His arm is great, he was able to launch a perfect 73 yard pass while rolling to his left than ended in a DPI against the Lions. His legs are great, he's moved well both in and out of the pocket this year.

His accuracy is off, but it doesn't appear to be due to anything physical. His problems appear to be 100% mental. Other than the first half against the Lions, he hasn't been throwing on time or with any kind of rhythm. Since early last season, he hasn't seemed to have any trust in his WRs, and he's had a fetish for catching teams off guard and going for the big play rather than just trying to string together routine plays.

The potential to turn it around is definitely there. The issue is how long it will take to get his mind working like it was a few years ago.