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» Week 11 DVOA Ratings

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

23 Oct 2017

Audibles at the Line: Week 7

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 e-mails 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.

New Orleans Saints 26 at Green Bay Packers 17

Bryan Knowles: Saints turnover woes: Drew Brees underthrows a pass intended for Brandon Coleman in the end zone, and Damarious Randall easily jumps the route. The Saints had been driving, so that interception was big. Brett Hundley will need his defense to step up in his first career start, and that's a great way to do it. The Saints' early hot start was, in part, caused by a lack of turnovers; they tied an NFL record with no turnovers in their first four games, but have now thrown four in their past three quarters. As for Randall, he now has interceptions in three consecutive games -- and this one was all skill, as opposed to some of the lucky bounces he has taken advantage of in previous weeks.

And, as I'm typing this, Brees throws another interception deep in Green Bay territory, with Davon House having very good coverage on Michael Thomas. The absence of Willie Snead feels like it's hurting New Orleans significantly.

As for Hundley, the Packers' plan is pretty clearly "don't let him do very much." The Packers' score came on a long touchdown run by Aaron Jones; Hundley only threw two official pass attempts on his first two drives, both of them incomplete. He DID pull off an Aaron Rodgers-esque free play, getting New Orleans to jump offsides and then throwing deep, but the resulting deep shot was significantly underthrown.

Andrew Potter: Willie Snead has hardly played a down this year and the Saints are third in offensive DVOA. I don't know what the problem is, but I'm confident it has nothing to do with Snead.

Scott Kacsmar: We won't confuse Hundley for Aaron Rodgers any time soon, but definitely a couple of Rodgers-esque plays so far. Drew the Saints offsides on a third down to get a free play where he tried to throw deep. Another third down, he took off on a scramble and snuck his way into the end zone after a pretty sad tackle attempt by the Saints at the goal line. I'm not sure what he can do when he has to throw to bring the team back or when he's seeing a tougher defense, but there are more than enough tools here for Mike McCarthy to get a productive offense with his backup.

Bryan Knowles: I picked this game this week because I wanted to see how Brett Hundley would do with a week of preparation. The verdict so far is ... eh, alright. No big mistakes, some good movement in the pocket, the touchdown scramble, etc. It's notable that both Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams have no receptions in the first half; Hundley is not taking any shots deep. It has all been short, safe throws. The true offensive star of the first half for Green Bay has been Aaron Jones, who continues to outplay Ty Montgomery and has pretty clearly taken the starting role away. Not only has Hundley targeted him on five of his 15 pass attempts, but he has 91 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries so far. When you're running like that, you don't need your young quarterback to take any risks downfield. That's how you take a lead despite just 56 first-half passing yards.

The Saints have to feel happy they're just down 14-7 after that first half. Not only have they turned the ball over twice in scoring range, but Ted Ginn muffed two first-half punts. One was negated by a penalty, and he managed to fall on the other one, but they have been flirting with disaster. The wet conditions may have something to do with it, but it doesn't seem to be affecting the Packers too much! This could have easily gotten well out of hand, but instead, it's still just a one-score game.

Andrew Potter: The Saints have a couplet like this every year. They always follow a big win with a damp squib. Last year, after they blew the doors off the Rams in the Gregg Williams Revenge Bowl, they lost at home to Detroit while scoring only 13 points against the worst defense in DVOA. The year before that, they busted off 52 points in a win against the 4-3 Giants, then lost at home to the 1-6 Titans. The year before that, they got a huge win at the 7-4 Steelers, then were obliterated 41-10 at home by the Panthers. They have a very nasty multi-year trend of following up their (subjectively) best offensive performance and result of the season with one of their worst (and often, with a two- or three-game losing streak).

Bryan Knowles: Saints came out of the locker room at the second half looking more like, well, the Saints. Michael Thomas makes a great leaping catch to convert a third-and-long, and then Brandon Coleman catches a wide-open touchdown pass. Kevin King was in coverage, and must have been caught looking into the backfield or thought he had safety help deep or something, because he broke back towards the line of scrimmage on a Brees pump fake and let Coleman run right past him. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix ended up technically closer, though the closest Packers jersey to the play was probably on one of the fans in the end zone seats.

Also working for the Saints: Ted Ginn (non-special teams edition). As mentioned previously, he botched those two punts, but he's not having his normal case of the Ginn Drops in the passing game. He already has five catches for 128 yards. That's not just his first 100-yard receiving game as a Saint, it's the second most receiving yards he has ever had in a game (going back to 2008 when he was with the Dolphins). His 47-yard catch-and-run helped set up a field goal that briefly gave the Saints a lead, but the Packers responded with a long field goal drive of their own. 17-16 Packers early in the fourth quarter; it has been a more competitive game than some would have expected.

The Saints are going to hold on to win this one. This is only the second time they have ever won at Lambeau Field. My first impression of that stat was "oh, well, they're a dome team in the cold," but no, that stretches back to the time when they played at Tulane Stadium, too. So, hey, nice to get that monkey off their back.

Coupled with the Panthers' loss in Chicago, the Saints are now alone in first place in the NFC South. It's the first time they have won four straight games since 2013 -- which also happens to be the last time they made the playoffs. Not a bad day's work for them; they came out in the second half like an entirely different team.

As for the Packers, they were extremely ineffective in the second half. The running game and defense allowed them to get by with little from Hundley in the first half, but when that started drying up, Hundley wasn't able to step up to make up the difference. I also blame the coaching staff a little for this -- the Packers kept everything short and safe. They only attempted three deep passes in the second half, and that wasn't all Hundley being conservative. McCarthy and company didn't open things up, and the Saints were able to just steam past them.

Jacksonville Jaguars 27 at Indianapolis Colts 0

Rivers McCown: The battle of who can get to their preferred rushing game script quickly was won by the Jaguars, who benefited from a blown coverage on a wobbly Blake Bortles deep ball and a couple of nice play-action plays to overcome poor rushing and an injury to Cam Robinson to lead 14-0 after one quarter. Indianapolis has had success in the rushing game, but their back seven has been woeful.

Dave Bernreuther: I'm surprised someone other than me is watching this one voluntarily, even Rivers.

Rivers McCown: It helps that it's literally the only game on TV in the Houston area.

Dave Bernreuther: The first quarter featured everything we have come to expect from the Colts: poor offense, poor defense, penalties on both sides, and a Chuck Pagano team coming out of the gates looking unprepared and outcoached.

Which is quite a feat, given that the opposing coach is Doug Marrone…

… who, in the first drive of the second quarter, decided to get extra cute with a two-play trick sequence ... while leading a terrible team by two touchdowns. Following a super slow-developing double play-action (handoff and end-around) screen pass that went for an untouched big gainer (in part due to the Colts being clueless and at least slightly in part due to Patrick Omameh being 3 yards downfield illegally at the time of the throw to clear a path), the Jags immediately showed the end-around motion again, with a Marqise Lee pump fake to Bortles almost leading to a rare wide receiver sack (I suppose that would just have been a run for a loss, which is less interesting) before a throwaway that was in danger of being picked off.

While it would be easy to make a joke about Bortles and his tendency to make those types of throws, the part that has me shaking my head is that they called those at all. It's the Colts. Their pass defense is terrible. You're already winning by two scores. Why put that on tape? We get that the Hide Your Quarterback strategy is a good way to go with that much talent and Bortles, but it's not necessary today. Just run a vanilla offense. It'll work. I promise.

Rivers McCown: I don't know that I remember seeing a defense quite as bad as the one the Colts are throwing out there. I know they can stop the run, and maybe this is part of a long-term ploy by Chris Ballard to tell Jim Irsay "this is the kind of defense Chuck Pagano wants and ... yeah..." But wowza. I have seen more disciplined play in Puppy Bowls. And now Malik Hooker is down as this quickly reaches blowout territory.

Andrew Potter: If it wasn't for that strip-sack of Bortles to basically end the half, the Jaguars would have scored on every drive of the first two quarters. The Colts, meanwhile, have run three plays in Jacksonville territory: a Frank Gore run right for a loss of 4, a Marlon Mack run left for a loss of 1, and a sack for a loss of 8. Four drives, four punts for Indy. The Jags defensive front seven in particular is utterly dominant. Only three sacks (only), but a bunch of pressures and hits, with Jacoby Brissett trying his hardest to become Ben Roethlisberger under pressure. Thing is, that didn't work for Ben this year, and it isn't working for Jacoby either.

Malik Hooker's injury looked very nasty indeed. Gotta think he'll miss more than just the rest of this game.

Scott Kacsmar: It still doesn't feel like the Colts are even partaking in this season without Andrew Luck. They got the Rams without Aaron Donald, Cardinals without David Johnson, Jaguars don't have Leonard Fournette today, and Indy is going to end up going 0-3 in these games in varying degrees of embarrassing fashion. If Luck was healthy, I think they'd be at least 4-2 coming into this game today, winning those games over Arizona and Tennessee instead of blowing fourth-quarter leads. That still shows how small the margin is between dumpster fire and probably division leader, but it's just not a recognizable product they're putting on the field this season. Beyond Luck, they have also missed Vontae Davis and Ryan Kelly this year, or arguably the team's two best non-Luck players.

Dave Bernreuther: Interesting sequence in Indy, where T.J. Yeldon fumbles, the automatic replay review overturns the fumble to down by contact, and one play later Chris Ivory fumbles.

That gives the Colts excellent field position, where they proceed to go straight backwards, punt ... and then give up a field-length scoring drive to make it 27-0, culminating in a play by Yeldon that looked far more fumble-like than Austin Seferian-Jenkins last week but wasn't even reviewed because he did cross the plane.

Blake Bortles is still really bad. He's so inaccurate and makes bad decisions, and we saw both of these things on a deep ball to Marqise Lee during this last drive. He has 321 yards passing midway through three quarters on the road against this defense.

I'm still watching Jags-Colts for some reason. The Jaguars are up to ten sacks, and while obviously their defense is impressive, I'm not sure I can think of even one sack that I wouldn't put on Brissett's indecisiveness.

There's something worth mocking on almost every Colts play -- for instance, throwing behind the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-14 -- but at least Pagano didn't try a "we didn't get shut out" field goal on consecutive fourth downs.

Of course, neither play ever had even a prayer of succeeding, but still, it's worth a pat on Chuck's back. Hopefully on his way out the door.

Vince Verhei: Jaguars got ten more sacks today and now have 33 in seven games on the year. They had 33 in 16 games last year.

Rivers McCown: 10 sacks already for Calais Campbell. I'm excited for the HOF debates about him.

Scott Kacsmar: Just wanted to add this stat. Since Doug Marrone took over in Week 16 last year, the Jaguars have won five games by 21-plus points. You have to go back to December 2007 to complete a string of the last five times Jacksonville did that before Marrone. Granted, it's not all about him. I think they have taken advantage of some divisional foes who were suffering quarterback woes (Marcus Mariota's broken-leg game last year, Tom Savage's brutal half in Week 1 before getting benched, and no Andrew Luck today). But there was also the massacre of Baltimore in London and the domination in Pittsburgh this season. That kind of stuff just wasn't happening in Jacksonville circa 2008-2015, but clearly the high draft picks on defense are paying off now.

Baltimore Ravens 16 at Minnesota Vikings 24

Rivers McCown: I don't think I have ever seen a challenged punt before, but the Vikings challenged that a bizarre punt from Baltimore's Sam Koch hit out and succeeded. Otherwise this game has gone about how you'd expect through one. Defenses dominating, penalty flag impact nullified.

Mike Wallace is throwing a tantrum after hitting his unhelmeted head on the turf. He's now stalking around the sideline angrily as we begin the second quarter, barking at coaches to give him his helmet back. Looking in equipment chests. They have ruled him out officially. This is bizarre.

Vince Verhei: I'm going to need more detail on that challenged punt in the Baltimore game. Who challenged what now?

Rivers McCown: So the punt hit near the sideline, then out of nowhere squiggled down the field for another 20 yards or so. The Vikings challenged that it actually touched out of bounds, and won the challenge.

Pretty much says it all about the Ravens offense that:

  • the announcers are speculating whether Joe Flacco can get them in Justin Tucker's field goal range at the end of the half;
  • they are implying that Tucker's actual range is 65 yards, and that if Flacco gets them there it's a success by their standards;
  • something called "Griff Whalen" is tied for the lead among their wide receivers in receptions.

Blow this whole thing up, please. I'm sick of watching it.

It's almost annoying that Brandon Williams has returned and flashed often, because CBS is going to have to pretend to believe in the Joe Flacco magic for two more quarters.

Vince Verhei: At some point, seriously, don't you have to give Ryan Mallett a try? What's the worst that can happen? Your offense sucks more?

Rivers McCown: As I wrote in FOA 2017, keeping Mallett as the lone backup creates a bar of backup play so low that even Glaxo can beat it. Wow, Flacco. But I'm keeping that typo.

The real answer is someone out of house. But we know how those discussions have gone so far.

As expected, game ended with the Ravens only scoring a touchdown in garbage time. 4.8 yards per attempt for Flacco. Buck Allen led the team with 11 targets for 29 yards. Yeah, it was that bad.

Carolina Panthers 3 at Chicago Bears 17

Vince Verhei: Panthers have been fairly dominant in the early goings, but they trail due to a pair of defensive touchdowns by Eddie Jackson. Cam Newton botched an option pitch and put the ball on the ground, and Jackson scooped it up and returned it 75 yards for a score. Later, Newton threw a pass behind Kelvin Benjamin and the ball went straight up in the air, and Jackson reeled it in for a 76-yard touchdown. That's 151 return yards for Jackson, 41 yards for the Bears offense early in the second, but Chicago's up 14-0.

Aaron Schatz: Well, this one has started out a bit unexpectedly: 14-0 after 20 minutes on two defensive touchdowns by the Bears. Both were by Eddie Jackson, the fourth-round rookie safety out of Alabama. First one was a blown option play. Fault is sort of 50-50 on that one, it went right off Curtis Samuel's hands but the pitch from Cam Newton was spinning awkwardly. Second one was an interception where Prince Amukamara had Kelvin Benjamin totally covered but Newton threw to him anyway. Amukamara tipped it up, it was in the air for roughly three or four months (may be exaggeration) and when Jackson came down with it he somehow ran 76 yards without any Panthers tackling him. It doesn't help that the Panthers aren't exactly built to come from behind, and Ryan Kalil left the game with a re-aggravated neck injury. With this game script, Mitchell Trubisky may not throw more than two or three passes all day.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Foreshadowing!)

By the way, the Bears have done a good job of "building from the lines out." The offensive line is strong and the defensive front is outstanding. Akiem Hicks has been really good this year. They just don't have much of the other stuff -- lots of injuries for the second straight year, and very little depth. But at least they used the 2017 draft to start building the "skill positions" and secondary. Trubisky, of course, Adam Shaheen with the second-round pick, Jackson at safety, Tarik Cohen.

Derrik Klassen: The only thing stopping Carolina right now, is Carolina. They have surrendered two touchdowns to Chicago's defense, one off of a fumbled pitch attempt and another off of tipped-up interception. They have done a decent job of working down the field, but they keep getting in their own way with turnovers. The run game is still lacking in functional creativity and the wide receivers cannot create any separation.

Credit to Chicago's defense, though. Chicago's defenders, primarily the secondary, are playing well and regularly showing up in the right place at the right time. Cornerback Kyle Fuller is having a nice resurgence this year that has continued through this week. Rookie safety Eddie Jackson looks to be a star in the making and was the one responsible for returning the tipped interception for a touchdown. Additionally, the pass rush is doing a good job of forcing Cam Newton to throw early and/or move off of his spot.

Due to a handful of turnovers, Chicago heads into the half with a 17-3 lead over Carolina.

Scott Kacsmar: Obviously two long turnovers for touchdowns have a huge impact on the numbers, but has anyone noticed the play numbers in this one? The Panthers have run 63 plays to 27 for Chicago, and Carolina just got the ball back with half a quarter left. There hasn't been a modern team held to fewer than 30 plays since the Browns 2.0 launched in 1999 with a 43-0 blowout to the Steelers where they ran just 28 plays. Panthers are up to 37:23 in time of possession, but still trail 17-3. Crazy game. The kind of game, coupled with overtime wins, the Bears win in years they luck into first-round byes (2001, 2005, 2006, and 2010). I don't think this team is quite that good though. Just six passes by Trubisky today. If he doesn't throw another, that's the fewest passes thrown in a game since Drew Brees had six for the 2004 Chargers in Cleveland (snow game).

Derrik Klassen: Danny Trevathan just put the game away for Chicago. On third down, Cam Newton was rushed out of the pocket and forced a ball to Christian McCaffrey. Trevathan undercut the route for an interception, giving Chicago the ball at about Carolina's 40-yard line. Assuming the Bears run out some clock here and do not fall apart on defense in the last few minutes, this one is done. Chicago leads 17-3 with roughly six minutes to go.

Aaron Schatz: OK, halfway through the fourth quarter and this game is wacko. I felt like the Panthers were getting clobbered, but I just looked and somehow they have 20 first downs. The Bears offense is just so horrendous that the Panthers keep getting the ball back over and over. Trubisky has six pass attempts. What year is this? The entire Bears offense today is one 70-yard pass to Tarik Cohen. With the two defensive touchdowns, that's enough. The Panthers had four straight drives between the second and third quarters that went like this:

  • 56 yards, ends with field goal on fourth-and-10 from Chicago 18.
  • 63 yards, ends at halftime when Panthers can't line up to spike the ball in time at Chicago 15.
  • 52 yards, ends on downs on a failed fourth-and-2 from Chicago 25
  • 47 yards, ends with punt on fourth-and-13 from Chicago 38.

So that's over 200 yards ending with a grand total of three points and only two attempts at even SCORING points, because I'm willing to give the Panthers credit for being aggressive on the fourth-and-2.

Oh, and Newton just threw another pick with 7:06 to go, but at least Trubisky tried another pass attempt on the ensuing drive.

Vince Verhei: So Mitchell Trubisky finishes with four completions for the day.

Matt Moore completed 13 passes today, Cody Kessler 10, Drew Stanton five. None of those guys, you know, started.

Arizona Cardinals Nil 'at' Los Angeles Rams 33 (London)

Vince Verhei: Looks like Arizona's offensive explosion last week said more about Tampa Bay's defense than anything else. They have had some success moving the ball through the air so far today, but Adrian Peterson has 11 yards on five carries, and Arizona's first three drives resulted in two punts and a missed field goal. It's a somewhat similar story for L.A.'s offense -- modest gains, then red zone struggles -- but in their case it has been more Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin on the ground than Jared Goff through the air, and they have gotten close enough to kick a pair of field goals and take a 6-0 lead in what is quietly one of the week's bigger games.

Under pressure, Carson Palmer lobs a duck (though it's London, so I guess we should say pigeon?) deep to the middle of the field. It hovers forever and Lamarcus Joyner gets an easy interception and big return to set the offense up inside the red zone. Rams get a touchdown on the very next play. Todd Gurley dodged a Josh Mauro tackle in the backfield, but the other key to the play was -- swear to God -- a Tavon Austin block, as the 174-pounder went low and took out 220-pound Patrick Peterson to clear a path around the edge.

Carson Palmer's headed to the locker room, so Drew Stanton is in at quarterback for Arizona. Stanton lost a bet and showed up to the game in a Supergirl costume, but of course he plays more like Krypto. The Cardinals actually go for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 34, and Stanton picks up the first down on the sneak (they also caught the Rams with 12 men on the field). But they punt shortly thereafter, and the Rams have the ball up 13-0, looking for a score in the final two minutes here to maybe lock this up by halftime.

Bryan Knowles: Not a good day for Arizona across the pond. Not only are they down 13-0 thanks to a Todd Gurley touchdown, but Carson Palmer has just headed to the locker room with a left arm injury of some description. He got plastered after throwing an interception, and jogged off the field keeping his left arm stationary. I think he just jammed his wrist, in which case he might be back out for the second half. Maybe while he's in the locker room, he can find last week's Adrian Peterson mojo. The "Peterson is revitalized by his trip to the desert" narrative kind of died after one week, didn't it? He has eight carries for 11 yards so far.

Vince Verhei: Not only do the Rams follow that punt with a touchdown when Jared Goff scores on a 9-yard zone-read keeper, but Stanton then throws an interception right to Mark Barron on first down, and the Rams have time to add a field goal to take a 23-0 lead at halftime. Looking very strong that they'll be in first place for at least another week.

Aaron Schatz: And now, a message from the Rams bandwagon I have been driving since April:

Rivers McCown: Palmer done for the year with a broken arm. Welcome to the uncomfortable Kaepernick speculation zone, Arizona! I am excited to watch hand-picked backup Drew Stanton throw for 150 yards a game.

Tennessee Titans 12 at Cleveland Browns 9 (OT)

Vince Verhei: Jabrill Peppers is inactive today and Jason McCourty has left the game and is out of uniform in a walking boot on the bench. And yet, Marcus Mariota and company haven't been able to take much advantage of a secondary that has been pretty lousy at full strength. Delanie Walker had a chance at big play on a 9-route down the seam, but Jamar Taylor made a good play to tip the ball away. DeShone Kizer is rebounding nicely from his benching -- he's currently 9-of-11 passing, with six first downs -- but so far it hasn't translated into points. We're tied at 3 at the two-minute warning.

Tom Gower: Titans lead 6-3 over the Browns. The game was at an amazing pace for the first 28 minutes, getting to the two-minute warning at 12:59 p.m. CT, then slowed down. Hue Jackson did his best to lock up Keep Choppin' Wood early, declining a 15-yard face-mask penalty when on a Tennessee third-and-1 from the Cleveland 32 to accept an incompletion. The Titans unsurprisingly went for it, and the Browns jumped offside to give the Titans a first down. The Browns would go offside to give the Titans a first down two more times in the first half, both in third-and-reasonable.

The Titans can't run the ball. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry are a combined 13 carries, 36 yards. The Titans are 31st in the first half in running back rushing DVOA to date, ahead of only the Seahawks. They're actually No. 1 in the second half, thus their good overall numbers, but the first 28 minutes of the game have been ugly almost every week. No downfield passes, either -- Marcus Mariota's longest completion is just 18 yards, with yards after catch, and that came on the first play of the game.

The surprising thing is the Browns have been mostly at least semi-competent. Hue Jackson hasn't yet abandoned the run, and the offense seems to have been mostly designed around the idea that a rookie quarterback sholdn't be asked to take deep drops, stand in the pocket and survey the field, and then throw downfield. Kizer started 7-of-7, I believe, and is 12-of-19 for 114 yards at the half. We have still some of the same problems -- a nice job of side-stepping a free rusher, only to throw the ball out of bounds. Their one field goal came on a short field after a Delanie Walker fumble. Kizer threw a bad pick late in the first half in scoring territory, air-mailing one over Rashard Higgins right to Kevin Byard (pedantic note: the line of scrimmage was the 28, so technically not a red zone turnover).

Personally, I'm rooting for a more interesting second half of play.

Vince Verhei: God, Kizer looked so good for most of that half, but that interception was just SO BAD. Like, I'm not totally sure if that was a terrible overthrow or a terrible underthrow of the deeper receiver. He threw it between the two, into a pool of two or three Titans. It's seriously sad.

And then he throws another interception on Cleveland's first drive of the second half, as Kevin Byard gets his second pick, dropping off a short receiver to undercut a deeper route to pick off the ball. Again, when Kizer is wrong, he's so very wrong.

Following that interception, the Titans get a first-and-goal at the 1, but soon it's a fourth-and-goal after two runs and an underthrown Mariota pass to an open receiver on a corner route. Ordinarily I am all about going for it on fourth-and-goal, but here a 6-point lead against this team seems pretty safe. But from a yard-and-a-half out, they spread the field and give it to Derrick Henry, Danny Shelton, eater of worlds, blows up the play and it's so clearly short they don't even bother with instant replay.

And now DeShone Kizer is benched again. Cody Kessler, active for the first time all year, takes over at quarterback from his own 1-yard line.

Bryan Knowles: The Quarterback Shuffle continues in Cleveland -- Cody Kessler is in now. Pick one and stick with him, Hue! It feels like he's just plugging quarterbacks in at random now and hoping for positive results.

Vince Verhei: OK, now literally everything has gone wrong for Cleveland. Joe Thomas pushes Brian Orakpo to the ground, but then goes down clutching his left arm, and now he's on the sideline. First missed snap of his career. Everyone knew how monumental this was and players from both teams were coming up to wish him well as he left.

Look, there is no such thing as DeShone Kizer or Kevin Hogan or Cody Kessler. There is only BROWNS QB. Kessler picks up some first downs and things are looking great, then he lobs a ball deep into triple coverage, and there's Byard with his third interception of the day.

The good news for Cleveland is, while we're focusing on their quarterbacks and tackles, their defense has been stellar today. The Mariota-led Titans scored 37 against Jacksonville and 33 against Seattle, but they have been held to just 9 points today after another missed field goal. Browns defensive front has absolutely won the battle against Tennessee's offensive line today, and I'm not sure you can say that about anyone else this year. But Christian Kirksey, Myles Garrett, Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton all had big days today. Feels like Cleveland finally -- finally -- has one strong unit they can build around.

Browns have life with a minute to go! Isaiah Crowell takes a swing pass, makes a defender miss, and appears to pick up a third-down conversion, but on replay it's clear Crowell trapped the ball and it's incomplete. (Yes, Kessler underthrew a guy standing well behind the line of scrimmage.)

That brings up fourth-and-8. Browns opt for the field goal, and Zane Gonzalez is good from 54 to tie the game. Titans still have nearly a minute to go and all three timeouts to get a winning field goal in regulation. Given that, I think I'd have gone for it on fourth down. Curious if others agree -- I realize trusting the Browns offense to make a play is an inherently foolish thing to do.

Titans go three-and-out, but Brett Kern booms a punt that pins Cleveland inside its own 15-yard line. The Browns take a knee, neither team calls timeout, and we're going to overtime.

Dave Bernreuther: I'd love to know more about how this game has progressed to overtime but after a super-quick three-and-out, the Titans are already past midfield after a completion to Delanie Walker, who goes down in pain. All I can think of is that there's hope that's his ankle and not his knee.

After a few punts and drives where neither team covered itself in glory -- which probably answers my own earlier question -- Succop comes on for the winner, misses ... but had been iced, so the second attempt is perfect. Cheers, Hue Jackson.

Vince Verhei: Titans get two drives in overtime, and the second results in a 47-yard field goal try for Ryan Succop. Browns try to ice the kicker, and the first attempt doinks off the upright. Second attempt is good, and Tennessee escapes with a 12-9 win. The Thomas injury was a killer -- Brian Orakpo took over the game in the fourth quarter and overtime. Spencer Drango was helpless against him, even with tight end help.

Andrew Potter: I haven't seen official confirmation yet, but Joe Thomas is almost certainly done for the year.

Thus ends one of the most incredible ironman streaks of all time.

Tom Gower: Titans win 12-9 on overtime. Ryan Succop hits from 47 yards after Hue Jackson lets the clock run to the two-minute warning, rather than take a timeout so his team has, say, 2:30 to try should the field goal miss instead of less than two minutes. Succop's first attempt, negated by the two-minute warning, hit the right upright. The Titans' game-winning drive covered 19 yards, starting inside Cleveland territory after the Browns couldn't move the ball on their second overtime possession and Cody Kessler suffered a big sack on third down.

I didn't have a good feel for what kind of range Zane Gonzalez has, so I wasn't sure exactly what I thought the Browns should do on what proved to be the tying field goal attempt in the final minute. But if I was anything less than absolutely confident that Gonzalez had the leg to hit from 54 (his long was 41 coming into today's game), I would have gone for it. 54 is a pretty uncertain proposition even if you know you have the range, it would have just tied the game rather than won it, and the Titans would have had enough time to score to win if they could have done something on offense.

The Browns offense felt more energetic with Cody Kessler in the game after DeShone Kizer threw those two horrible interceptions, but ultimately the field goal drive to tie the game late was all he managed. Their base offense doesn't work well, and he can't force things. When he's playing in rhythm and getting the ball out quickly he can make some stuff happen, but when that isn't in the cards, things like the near-grounding (he broke the pocket by about 3 inches) and then the big sack he took, happen.

Overall, this is a win the Titans should be happy to come away with. The offense finally looked the same way with Marcus Mariota in both halves of a game, and they emulated the first half, not the second one. Time to get healthy (Delanie Walker's injury in overtime, long-term or OK after two weeks?) and rest up.

Carl Yedor: Cleveland is now 0-7, with four of those losses coming by exactly three points. Tough, but at the same time the offense just hasn't been putting up enough points. Outside of scoring 28 against the Colts (ranked 29th in defensive DVOA currently), the Browns haven't scored more than 18 points all season. DeShone Kizer has been the worst in the league by DYAR to this point. I doubt his standing as the worst quarterback will change much in the immediate future, as Joe Flacco was next-closest entering this week but was still 229 DYAR better than Kizer to this point. Not great, folks.

Rivers McCown: Without Thomas in overtime, that offense had no chance. It was a struggle to keep Kessler clean for three steps.

New York Jets 28 at Miami Dolphins 31

Zach Binney: I think it's safe to say this game isn't going quite as anyone expected in the first half. The Jets have scored 21, which is the most the Dolphins have given up this season (though seven of those were from a tipped pass that was picked off at the Miami 2). Miami, meanwhile, has scored two first-half touchdowns, which is two more than they have scored this entire season.

The biggest story so far may be the turf, which is muddy and torn. Players are slipping quite a bit, and Miami in particular seems to be having difficulty tackling Jets players in open space.

Two weeks, two good clean hits, two quarterbacks knocked out of a game. After Rodgers last week, Jay Cutler just took an absolute shot to the chest early in the third quarter, and he has left for the locker room. Looks like it might be a broken rib. The fans in Miami are getting what they want, at least: Matt Moore is in the game.

Aaron Schatz: The Dolphins were down 28-14 when Matt Moore came in for the injured Jay Cutler, and I'm guessing we'll see a lot of articles about how Moore gave the Dolphins life after the failed Cutler experiment. But the two quarterbacks have fairly similar numbers in this game -- both have two passing touchdowns, one interception, Moore is a little better on yards per attempt. The big difference has been better play by the Dolphins defense in the second half of the game. Miami couldn't get a score after tying it up 28-28, but on the first play after they punted, Bobby McCain jumped the route on Jermaine Kearse. Really bad decision by Josh McCown, and it essentially handed the ball to Miami in field goal range with less than a minute left.

Rob Weintraub: Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News picked this game to end in a tie. He was 37 seconds from overtime, anyway, and more than partial credit, but McCown gets picked deep in his own end. Looked like Cameron Wake put in the bull rush that forced McCown to throw short. Dolphins field goal is good, Jets poised to blow this one.

Correction -- upon further review it was rookie Charles Harris with the bull rush that prevented McCown from stepping up.

Dave Bernreuther: Rob, I'm not convinced anything forced McCown to throw that pick -- maybe he didn't get to make a full stride, but he had room, and it was a bad decision as well, doomed from the start. Maybe the bull rush accelerated the decision, but to me it looked like he might have thrown that anyway, and no amount of accuracy would have made that one work. Maybe I'm just being negative.

I'd say that's a great example of why the journeyman vet is always the wrong choice over seeing what the kid has ... but the Jets already know what Christian Hackenberg has. And if he hadn't thrown a back-breaking pick himself, it would probably only be because he hit the mascot on the sideline instead of it being in a spot where a defender could catch it.

That apparently makes 12 straight wins for the Dolphins in one-score games. That's amazing.

Zach Binney: This is not backed up by any numbers, but just watching them, Moore looked more decisive than Cutler. They were both being chased in the backfield all day, but Moore's mechanics looked better insofar as every other throw wasn't coming off his back foot. It also helped that the Dolphins didn't drop a ball after Moore came in -- they dropped two in the first half to bring them to 24 on the year, good for tops in the league to that point.

On the other side, 14 of the 28 points the Jets scored came of Miami turnovers in their own territory. Miami's defense is only 20th in DVOA, but this is also the second week in a row that they came up with a huge late interception to effectively seal the game.

Rob Weintraub: Dave I'm not absolving McCown -- taken for granted he'll screw up at some point, usually the worst possible time. Just giving some love to the oft-overlooked dudes in the trenches, and Harris taking his man into McCown's stride point definitely impacted the throw. Maybe would have been picked anyway, but...

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 at Buffalo Bills 30

Scott Kacsmar: Good throw from Tyrod Taylor to Logan Thomas for a touchdown. Yes, the Virginia Tech quarterback who started in Arizona. Apparently he has been converted to tight end for a team that badly needs pass receivers with Charles Clay out and last year's starters going to the Rams. Rookie Zay Jones has been targeted six times today and has no catches. Taylor overthrew him an uncatchable ball in the end zone on the play before the Thomas touchdown -- the two plays looked very similar, but the touchdown was a way better throw. That has been a big part of Buffalo's season. The Bills had six receivers who caught more than 70 percent of their targets coming into today. Taylor was 5-of-23 to Jones, and is now 5-of-29 (17.2 percent). Horrific stuff, but I'd have to see just how many were dropped, or maybe Jones has had bad luck with throwaways or batted down targets going his way. Still, they have had a horrible connection this season.

Dallas Cowboys 40 at San Francisco 49ers 10

Bryan Knowles: The 49ers have made a habit out of slow starts in 2017 -- they have been outgained 1,107-879 in the first half so far this season -- and they're off to another slow start today. After forcing a nice three-and-out from Dallas' offense, Trent Taylor fumbles the ensuing punt. Three plays later, Ezekiel Elliott (playing today as Schrodinger's Suspension continues to be on hold) plunges in for a touchdown. After a three-and-out of their own, San Francisco's other issue snaps into full focus -- penalties. Two penalties on Rashard Robinson -- including his league-leading fifth pass interference call -- keep the Cowboys' drive alive, and Elliott scores again. Robinson is not an NFL starting cornerback, and is one of many, many positions the 49ers will need to improve going forward.

The 49ers have had to put up pretty frantic comebacks in their five consecutive close losses, and they're putting themselves in a very familiar position already, down 14-0 just halfway through the first quarter.

San Francisco's rush defense has actually been above average this season, ranked 13th in DVOA coming into today. Nobody told Elliott that. Zeke has looked a little bit more like he did last year, as he has already run for 71 yards on 11 carries, to go with his pair of touchdowns.

Part of the problem? Eric Reid is playing an abnormal amount of weakside linebacker on rushing downs, which is something less than ideal. I believe the 49ers are doing it to give rookie Reuben Foster (back today and looking good after getting injured in Week 1) help setting the defense; with NaVorro Bowman out of town, they have lost a lot of experience up the middle. The result, though, is less actual skill on the field stopping the run, and that's hurting. Might have to go with Ray Ray Armstrong and just hope Foster has the defense down enough to make play calls. He is looking good on individual plays, but may not be ready to call the defense just yet.

It's not all great for the Cowboys, though -- Dan Bailey is out with a pulled groin. That forced the Cowboys go for 2 after their third touchdown (which they failed), and Jeff Heath, the starting strong safety, to kick the ensuing kickoff. Something to put a pin in, there.

Derrik Klassen: This game felt out of San Francisco's control from the jump. The 49ers defense forced a three-and-out on the first possession of the game, but Trent Taylor fumbled a punt return and set up the Cowboys for an easy touchdown. Since then, the Cowboys have scored another two touchdowns, only countered by a 49ers field goal.

Dak Prescott is dealing today. San Francisco's front is getting more pressure on him than expected, but Prescott is doing a good job of protecting the ball. He has been finding Dez Bryant at every opportunity, already finding him four times for 53 yards. Prescott also connected with Jason Witten in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. On the other side, C.J. Beathard is playing about as expected: hitting some open throws, but holding the ball far too long and failing to create anything extra. The 49ers offense has been fairly efficient, but much like the Panthers earlier today, they keep getting in their own way with turnovers. In addition to the fumbled punt, Beathard was strip-sacked in the red zone, effectively ending the 49ers' best drive of the day.

Dallas heads into the locker room with a 20-3 lead over San Francisco.

Bryan Knowles: 20-3 at halftime. The 49ers were driving late, but Demarcus Lawrence blew past Joe Staley and obliterated C.J. Beathard, forcing a fumble which he then recovered. Beathard's looked alright so far, but he has been holding on to the ball for too long. I'd say at least three of Dallas' four sacks were due, in part, to Beathard's internal clock not telling him it was time to get the ball out. Mind you, with San Francisco's offensive line, that clock needs to be set for only 2 or 3 seconds, but still. That was a problem of his at Iowa, as well, so this is nothing new. Apart from that, he has looked alright, but those sacks are going to kill ya.

Again, it's the mistakes which are killing the 49ers. Take out the fumbles, and this is probably a one-score game. But the Cowboys are just not making mistakes, capitalizing every time the 49ers mess up, and generally just playing very solid football. They're finding the holes in San Francisco's secondary (a potent combination of "bad" and "injured"), taking advantage of some softness in the running game, and just generally staying on track. Hard to see them making the same sort of mistakes that Washington or Indianapolis made to let the 49ers back in this one, but stranger things have happened -- like, having to play your second half without a kicker.

Derrik Klassen: Reuben Foster has been outstanding today, but nagging injuries keep getting to him. He winced a few drives ago when it appeared he tweaked his back; just now stayed down on the field for a minute after appearing to aggravate his ankle injury. Being blown out 33-3 heading into the fourth quarter, it would be best if the 49ers just sidelined him for the rest of this one. There is no value in pushing him at this point.

Rivers McCown: I have managed to tune into every game that was over before it started so far. Watching Jeff Heath kick has been funny though, so at least there's that.

Cincinnati Bengals 14 at Pittsburgh Steelers 29

Rob Weintraub: Last-stand game for the Bengals, so naturally the Steelers cruise right down the field, mostly on the ground. Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown, 7-0.

Cincy was doomed the second they moved this from 1 p.m. to 4:25.

A receiving touchdown for someone not named A.J. Green! Bullet throw into a tight window by Andy Dalton to Brandon LaFell, 7-7 after one quarter.

A tie that lasts all of four plays into the second quarter. Cincy blows a coverage and leaves JuJu Smith-Schuster wide open for an easy walk-in touchdown. Smith-Schuster then celebrates with a lame-ass game of hide-and-seek because is a Steeler.

Dave Bernreuther: Ben has not been himself this year, but that hurried but careful shuffle forward to avoid strong side pressure, then taking something off the throw while moving, hitting JuJu in stride for the score ... was very impressive. Some Pro Bowl-caliber quarterbacks don't have that kind of touch.

Rob Weintraub: Dalton has been sharp as well -- especially on third down, where he is 5-for-5. That fifth pass gives Cincy fourth-and-goal at the 1, though. Marvin ain't that dumb -- a must-go situation. Play-action to the new unstoppable Tyler tight end in Bengaldom -- Kroft. Touchdown!

14-14, and two of the better defenses in the league are getting torched.

Scott Kacsmar: Only one of the last 23 games between these teams saw both score 14-plus points in the first half. It has been a track meet today and the Steelers are in position for more points after one of Le'Veon Bell's most impressive plays yet. Moves on top of moves for his longest reception in three years.

Rob Weintraub: Scott left out the Bell stiff-arm to plant Dre Kirkpatrick and add some yards to that amazing play.

Cincy tackling has been atrocious in general -- some of that is Bell being Bell, but not all. Penalties have also hurt, all on defense. The latest was a 30-plus-yard pass interference call on Kirkpatrick despite the pass landing well out of the end zone. To my biased eyes it was uncatchable, but refs saw otherwise.

Bengals stiffen again in red zone -- last play was on odd run call to Bell where unless he scores Pitt has to kick. He didn't, they did. 20-14 Steelers at halftime. Tomlin was livid about something on that play but across the bar with no sound I couldn't tell what. Sorry.

Cincy hanging in but unless the tackling improves they are on borrowed time.

Scott Kacsmar: Steelers up 20-14 at halftime, but some bad game management in the last two minutes by both teams. First, the Bengals should have immediately called one of their timeouts after Bell lost 7 yards on a first-down catch, which he should have dropped. I mean, you have three timeouts, you can get the ball back. Why let the Steelers set up a deep pass to convert on the next down? Maybe Pittsburgh comes out and makes that throw anyway after a timeout, but at least make them think about it more after a bad loss on the first play. That eventually led to a red zone opportunity after a 34-yard pass interference penalty on Dre Kirkpatrick against Brown. I'm not really sure that pass was still catchable for it to be DPI. In the red zone, Steelers struggled again. Vance McDonald dropped a touchdown and a very odd run call on second down led to the clock going down to three seconds before timeout was finally granted. Should have been time for another throw, but Steelers ended up settling for a 24-yard field goal.

Rob Weintraub: Was that the reason for the Rage of Tomlin? Didn't get the time-out earlier?

Scott Kacsmar: This is Dalton's 13th start against the Steelers. Has yet to lead his team to more than 21 points in those games. He's 3-0 when the Steelers scored 10 points, but 0-9 in the other games where Pittsburgh always scored 24-plus. Steelers look more than capable of getting to 30 today. This has easily been Roethlisberger's best game this season.

Dave Bernreuther: Rob, I'm not biased, and while that was an obvious grab by Kirkpatrick, and I think 99 percent of people underestimate how much yardage a pro athlete can cover in the blink of an eye, I could have sworn the ball was thrown out of the end zone. And it felt like a gift to the Steelers to get first-and-goal.

Tomlin looked pretty heated about the timeout delay to me too, which led to the field goal decision, so I guess it's good (for you) that the penalty was a three-point swing, not seven.

Rob Weintraub: Bell carries Pitt down the field, but on third-and-inches Mike Johnson slips inside and blows him up in the backfield.

Another field goal, 23-14 Pitt, but back-to-back three-and-outs for the Bengals. Need a drive, pronto, but I'm not optimistic.

Yep, two plays in, yet another tipped pass off A.J. Green gets picked off. This is over if Pitt punches it in, probably over regardless.

Scott Kacsmar: These haven't been good throws, but still some bad luck for Dalton with a second tipped interception this quarter. Tipped interceptions have to be up this season. I would be absolutely shocked if that's not the case in the game charting data.

Rob Weintraub: Bengals go deep to Cody Core, who makes a sensational grab but can't get the second foot inbounds. Next play, another deflected pass gets picked off.

26-14 and Cincy is out of ideas offensively. Some John Ross speed might help open things up but he's just a rumor.

Scott Kacsmar: It's not all bad, Rob. Mike Tomlin is doing his hardest to keep the Bengals in this one. Fourth-and-1 should be an obvious quarterback sneak with a huge quarterback, but the Steelers almost never do it. Handing off inside to Terrell Watson is not a call anyone should be making in that spot. Marvin Lewis challenged the spot, which definitely looked short, but it's a hard challenge to win. He wins this one though and the Bengals take over with 14:57 left.

Rob Weintraub: Fourth-and-inches, and Pittsburgh goes for it for the first time all season. Watson is clearly short, gets a favorable mark, makes it by a chain length. Lewis challenges, and wins his second of the day. Bengals ball.

But it's for naught -- Cincy is done scoring in this one. I have seen this game my whole life.

Aaron Schatz: I realize he's 240 pounds while Bell is 225, but I'm not a big fan of Pittsburgh always using Terrell Watson over Bell on short-yardage downs.

Rob Weintraub: Game is similar to the Bengals' loss at Green Bay earlier this season. Early on the Bengals' scripted drives had great success. But later, when the adjustments are made and it comes down to execution, blocking, and quality quarterback play, the Bengals are lost. I'm pretty sure Cincy managed one lone first down after tying the game at 14, and certainly nothing sustained.

Same BS against the Steelers my whole friggin' life...

Scott Kacsmar: This is the third time the Steelers won a game by 15-plus points this year that I'm going to complain about anyway. The defense was fantastic in the second half in getting pressure on Dalton and taking him down for sacks. Totally shut A.J. Green down and everything. That's all fine, but it's the short-yardage calls that were terrible and kept this a game for longer than it needed to be.

When we talk about Tomlin's seemingly random aggression, this game is a perfect example of that. He took a pretty big risk on fourth-and-7 at his own 40 by doing a fake punt with Robert Golden throwing deep for Darrius Heyward-Bey. Any pass to DHB is a risk, let alone a deep one by a non-quarterback. It worked out for 44 yards, but a failure there would have really helped the Bengals out with great field position in a 12-point game. I don't get why Tomlin accepts the risk to go for that, but will do stupid stuff like take a delay of game and punt from inside the 40 in Kansas City last week, or why they don't ever use the quarterback sneak like they should. Even in this game, why not go for the fourth-and-1 at the Cincinnati 7 after the fake punt? By kicking the field goal, the Bengals are still down two touchdowns. The only difference is they have to get a two-point conversion too. So what? A first down there is going to kill most of the clock, and you have two of the best skill players in the world on your side. If the Steelers were stopped, then the field position isn't so troubling like it would have been if the fake punt had failed. You can get away with this stuff against the Bengals, but I still could never trust Tomlin to make the right decisions when this team plays New England, which is still the biggest challenge in this team's path of getting to the Super Bowl.

Denver Broncos 0 at Los Angeles Chargers 21

Dave Bernreuther: Just as I was about to say the Chargers were starting to look good (and not just due to the powder blues), a DPI puts the ball on the 1 and Anthony Lynn goes heavy for four straight plays. That was not a good look for the Chargers' offensive line, nor for Hunter Henry, who got eaten up by Shaq Barrett on second down. Melvin Gordon didn't have much of a chance at all on that sequence.

Still, pushing Trevor Siemian back inside his 1 is often better than three points, so I like the decision, if not the calls.

Naturally, Siemian makes me eat my hat with a first down scramble on third-and-7 to get the Broncos some breathing room.

Anyone have sound for this game and care to comment on the roughing the passer call on Melvin Ingram? At first he was so free and hit Siemian so hard that I assumed the flag was for hitting after the whistle. But it wasn't. The play was live. Siemian had the ball. Ingram hit him in the chest. How is that a penalty?

Tom Gower: I have this game on but am not following it intently. If there was an explanation for why the flag, I didn't hear one. The only thing I could really see was maybe if they thought Ingram made high contact, to the head or neck area, but I didn't see the play that way.

The other possibility would be if they thought Ingram dropped his head and went in with the crown of his helmet. I didn't see that happening, either, but that's probably the better possibility of what they thought they saw.

Chargers up 14-0 at the half. The Broncos have gotten at least one first down on three of eight possessions. People are starting to wonder if Brock Osweiler might not be able to give the team a spark. I think the offensive line might a significant issue, in which case playing Osweiler is not only not a solution to the problem but more likely to make it worse. The whole thing just looks ugly, and they have shot themselves in the foot when they got something going. Maybe I'm just in a bad mood after Titans-Browns, but I now find Denver a largely frustrating team to watch on offense.

San Diego has a punt return touchdown and one offensive score. Phil Rivers hit a couple throws that drive, gaining around 20 yards each on passes to Hunter Henry and Keenan Allen, to set up the short scoring throw to Austin Ekeler. Outside those two passes and including the Ekeler one, he's 6-of-16 for about 40 yards, so maybe giving the ball four times to Melvin Gordon in goal-to-go from the 1 after the first Broncos turnover at the start of the game was not so crazy, even though it didn't work. If only the Broncos had figured out something on offense in the last couple years, though of course the injuries don't help.

Scott Kacsmar: Wow, never would have imagined Travis Benjamin would outscore Denver himself 12-0. With Denver, Indianapolis, and Arizona getting blanked today, that's the first time since Week 15 of 2012 that we had multiple shutouts in the same week. There were three that day as well. It's so rare to not even muster a field goal. With Denver, I feel like we warned fans that their offense wouldn't get better after Super Bowl 50, and it really hasn't. Still have issues with the offensive line, a very inconsistent running game, a lack of receiver depth (Emmanuel Sanders out today really hurts), and oh yeah, they don't have much of a quarterback. John Elway has tried to at least address the offensive line, but I don't think he has made the best quarterback decisions and they haven't added another quality receiver.

Tom Gower: The second half from the Broncos offense did not look much better than the first half did. The Chargers didn't do much until Benjamin got open on a run from one of Ken Whisenhunt's trips sets and raced 42 yards for a score, but it didn't matter. Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and Chris McCain controlled the Denver offensive line, they had no run game, and Siemian couldn't force plays in the passing game. When's Paxton Lynch healthy?

Seattle Seahawks 24 at New York Giants 7

Vince Verhei: Conservative defenses ruling the day early. Seahawks' first drive ends when Giants rush three on third-and-long. Russell Wilson knows he has time to scramble in the backfield, but when he turns his back to escape a lineman, Nat Berhe comings charging out of the secondary to bring him down for a loss of 13.

Then the Giants' first drive ends when Seattle rushes TWO on third-and-long. Eli Manning scans the field for a while, realizes he has a one-one-one opportunity deep downfield and takes a shot, but Richard Sherman tips the ball away from Tavarres King. With New York's wide receivers all out, it will be interesting to see how Sherman is used -- on one play he followed Evan Engram across the formation. Can't ever remember him doing that to cover a tight end before.

Thanks to a bevy of New York penalties, an injury timeout or two, and the break between quarters, Seahawks have goal-to-go for nearly 15 minutes of real time. Eleven straight goal-to-go snaps, including those wiped out by penalty. And it ends in zero points when Eli Apple breaks up a pass to Jimmy Graham in the end zone. But New York responds with three straight runs and fails to pick up a first down, and Brad Wing has to punt out of his own end zone. A bad punt gets a good roll, but Seattle is still going to get the ball at its own 40. This is why we like going for it -- even failure will often work out in your favor in the long run.

I spoke too soon. First play after the punt, Avery Moss knocks the ball out of Thomas Rawls' hands, and Landon Collins recovers and gets a big return. (That's his second big play of the game -- he was blocked to the ground on one of Seattle's goal-line tries, but snapped back to his feet to make a big tackle on Tyler Lockett.) Two plays later, Eli finds Engram in the corner of the end zone and the Giants are up 7-0.

Giants lead 7-3 at halftime even though Seattle has outgained them 222-42. Seattle's offense had 11 goal-to-go plays on one drive; the Giants offense had 18 plays, total, in the half. These Seahawks are not close to the worst team in the league, but they must be the most frustrating. Drops aplenty. Penalties on the edge of scoring range. So many mistakes.

Giants' secondary is making tons of big plays. I mentioned Collins earlier. Apple keeps breaking up passes in the end zone. Devon Kennard drawing an offensive pass interference penalty on what appeared to be a game-tying touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett. (If you get a chance to watch that last play, watch New York's edge rushers -- they're in the backfield so quickly I thought it was a screen pass, but next thing you know Wilson's throwing into the end zone.)

Aaron asked about second-round rookie Ethan Pocic -- he played a bit on offense when Justin Britt left the game. Britt later returned. So this is what they're doing with their draft pick: slotting him as a backup to their one good lineman.

Carl Yedor: Adding to Vince's point, Pocic had been rotating with Mark Glowinski at left guard today as well as they try to find an injury replacement for Luke Joeckel. But still, he hasn't been playing much at all this season.

Vince Verhei: Jimmy Graham with a 29-yard catch-and-run gives him 50 yards today. That's 1,757 yards in 33 games in a Seahawks uniform, breaking the franchise record for career receiving yards by a tight end. (Itula Mili had 1,743 in 114 games.) Wilson then hits Paul Richardson for a big play to get into the red zone, but then a personal foul on Mark Glowinski moves them out of the red zone. Seahawks Twitter goes nuts saying this gives Seattle a better chance to score -- and they're apparently right, because a Giants blitz leaves no safety in the middle of the field. That usually means touchdown for Seattle, and it does here, as Wilson throws it up and lets Doug Baldwin go run for it.

Thank goodness Seattle has a chance to win here, because they were looking at wasting one of the best defensive efforts of the Pete Carroll ever. Obviously this Giants offense has a lot of problems right now, but they have damn near hopeless today.

Giants finally find a couple of big passing plays, the biggest a 25-yarder to Engram where Bradley McDougald missed a tackle. They get to a third-and-11 at the 30. A conversion means they have a chance to go back in front again. A short gain makes the game-tying field goal easier. They run a quick out to Engram that gains 1 yard. Now what in the hell is the point of that? On top of that, Aldrick Rosas misses a 47-yarder, and Seattle's 10-7 lead is maintained.

Jarran Reed gets pressure up the middle and knocks the ball out of Eli's hands, and Frank Clark recovers in Giants territory. Seahawks go for the kill with a flea-flicker (off a sweep, which is unusual). Paul Richardson is behind Landon Collins, but Wilson's throw hangs in the air too long and it's a jump ball in the end zone. I thought it was an interception for sure, but Richardson made a great play to leap and get his hands on the ball. That's four hands on the ball as they go to earth, simultaneous possession, tie goes to the receiver, touchdown Seahawks. They review the play and the call stands, saving me from a stroke. 17-7 Seattle with 9:29 to go.

Rob Weintraub: Crazy throwback bomb touchdown to Richardson that results in a long on-field rasslin' match for the ball. They give it to the offense!

Rivers McCown: Seattle runs a brilliant trick play where J.D. McKissic throws backwards to Russell Wilson, who hits Paul Richardson deep. Richardson and Landon Collins have a scrum for the ball, referees have no idea what to do and eventually call it a touchdown. That felt a lot like the old replacement refs Hail Mary that Seahawks fans are familiar with.

Bryan Knowles: Seattle's second touchdown comes on a simultaneous possession call; Paul Richardson and Landon Collins come down with the ball at roughly the same time, and tie goes to the receiver. Twitter's going crazy calling it "Fail Mary redux," which annoys me -- it was "Fail Mary" because of the replacement referees' confusion, as opposed to the catch itself. This was just a good contested catch!

The play design was neat, too -- an unorthodox flea-flicker, with the Seahawks running a pitch to J.D. McKissic, McKissic throwing back across the field to Wilson, and Wilson hitting Richardson in the end zone. Flea flickers are usually an underhanded toss back, so it's always nice to see something a little more energetic. A bit of the ol' razzle-dazzle.

Vince Verhei: Seattle ices this thing with a 12-play, 50-yard touchdown drive that took nearly six minutes off the clock. Graham finished things with a 1-yard touchdown catch. Things really turned around in the second half as Seattle's receivers repeatedly smoked the Giants secondary -- in addition to all the yards and touchdowns they actually amassed, Baldwin split Apple and Collins on zone coverage for what should have been a 60-some-yard touchdown, but Wilson badly overthrew him. Even without that play, he still leads the team with nine catches for 92 yards and a score, and also ran down Collins to make a tackle and prevent a defensive score on the Rawls fumble in the first half. Giants ended up scoring anyway, but at least Baldwin gave the defense a chance at the shutout.

Carl Yedor: Not a whole lot to say here that hasn't already been covered. Evan Engram has been impressive today, which harkens back to when the Seahawks struggled to defend tight ends circa 2014 and 2015. Engram has been far and away New York's best offensive player today. Outside of him, the Seattle defense has been stellar. In spite of some early drops and a missed throw intended for Baldwin that would have been a long touchdown, Wilson goes 27-of-39 for 334 yards and three touchdowns. Seattle keeps pace with the division-leading Los Angeles Rams with a road win today.

Atlanta Falcons 7 at New England Patriots 23

Charles McDonald: Falcons and Patriots taking turns shooting themselves in the foot, much like the rest of their seasons. Sloppy game through half a quarter.

Aaron Schatz: There was an amazing Rob Gronkowski diving catch deep down the field, called back by an OPI call. And on replay ... Yeah, he sort of does push off the defender. But that is some ticky-tack small potatoes. We'll see if they call the whole game that close, but next time Gronk should try not ruining an awesome catch with an unnecessary slight push of the defender earlier in the route.

The Patriots have Johnson Bademosi, mostly a special-teamer, covering Julio Jones. It feels like this can't end well. I keep looking at the safeties to try to figure out if this is their usual "best cornerback on the No. 2 receiver, other cornerback on the No. 1 receiver with help" strategy. Because otherwise ... egads.

Well, Steve Sarkisian called a pitch play on third-and-4 which looked like a strange play call and actually lost 3 yards ... but then the Falcons went for it on fourth-and-7. I guess you don't call a run on that third-and-4 unless you are planning to go for it on fourth, and you go for it on fourth whether you gain or lose yardage on the third down. And it worked! Cassius Marsh lost contain on Matt Ryan and Matt Ryan (!) scrambled 9 yards for a first down.

It ends up in a field goal attempt, blocked by Marsh. So I guess he made up for that lost contain.

Scott Kacsmar: I was looking for offensive plays on fourth-and-7 or longer in the first quarter, ball at the opponent 40 or worse. Last one I could find was Tennessee's Kerry Collins converting a fourth-and-8 against the 2010 Texans. Since then, there were fourth-and-5 attempts by the Texans (Ryan Mallett threw short in 2015) and Drew Brees in 2015 (conversion to Brandin Cooks), so it's very rare for an offense to actually do what Atlanta did. I liked that move, but Atlanta couldn't pay it off after a blocked field goal.

Carl Yedor: I'd like to see what the breakeven point for going for it on fourth down there was for Atlanta. I think Brian Burke had a fourth-down calculator available online at one point but I haven't been able to find it quickly right now. Didn't result in any points because of Marsh's field goal block, but I honestly can't remember another time this early in a game where an NFL coach went for it on fourth-and-7 from midfield. This sort of thing happens a lot more frequently at the high school level, but then again, we're talking about high school.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots have switched up the coverage on Julio Jones as the game has moved along. A lot of Bademosi, but some Malcolm Butler, some Patrick Chung, some zone coverages where he's got a linebacker on him from the start. They just had Butler on him on a fourth-and-6 from the Patriots 47 with 2:00 left. Ended up with miscommunication and Ryan overthrew Mohamed Sanu. When are the Falcons going to start sending out the running backs on pass routes? That killed the Patriots in Super Bowl LI and also has hurt the Patriots all throughout the early 2017 season.

Scott Kacsmar: This one snowballed ever since the interception was negated by a roughing the passer penalty that the Falcons just didn't need to do. They did it last week against Jay Cutler, and they also had a pick taken away by penalty at the end of the Detroit game. Throw in four tipped picks for Ryan on the other side of the ball, and the Falcons are just having an awful season when it comes to interceptions. But I'm not sure what the plan is tonight. They're feeding Mohamed Sanu eight targets in that half while Jones had two catches. That's four quarters without a point for the Falcons, and a 48-0 scoring run allowed to the Patriots. I really don't see a competitive second half on the way here.

Carl Yedor: Following up from earlier:

Aaron Schatz: The Falcons finally moved the ball well on the first drive of the second half, and then when they get down to the red zone, Ryan just overthrew his guys twice. He had Julio Jones in the corner space of Cover-2 and then Mohamed Sanu had a step or two on Devin McCourty in man coverage. Both would have been touchdowns. Was it the fog? Doesn't seem like it. Oh, and Matt Bryant doinked the field goal try. This is not a happy night for the Falcons so far.

Update: It is now middle of the fourth quarter. The Falcons ran a jet sweep on fourth-and-goal from the 1 and it got murdered with Kyle Van Noy flying through the line. Or at least that's what I saw on TV because from the press box the game looks like this:

One last thought. I spoke to Matt Chatham at halftime, he had D.J. Shockley on his podcast to preview the game. Shockley was Ryan's backup for a couple of years, does a lot of football media down in Atlanta since he was both on the Falcons and the Bulldogs. Shockley said that before the season, Sarkisian had Matt Ryan come in and told him, look, I know you have had something like six different offensive coordinators, I don't want you to have to learn anything new at this point. And he told Ryan that he could put together a playbook with his favorite plays from all of the offensive coordinators he has played with, and that's the playbook that the Falcons are using. I think that provides some interesting insight on the stagnation of the Falcons offense. I would imagine that most of that playbook is still Shanahan stuff. But no matter whether Ryan got to pick out plays he liked or not, Sarkisian is the one calling the plays during the games each Sunday.

Posted by: Andrew Potter on 23 Oct 2017

165 comments, Last at 27 Oct 2017, 12:55pm by t.d.

Comments

1
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 6:16am

"Rob Weintraub: Fourth-and-inches, and Pittsburgh goes for it for the first time all season. Watson is clearly short, gets a favorable mark, makes it by a chain length. Lewis challenges, and wins his second of the day. Bengals ball."

You conveniently neglect the terrible spot (pro Bengals) on the play immediately before. By marking the ball 1 yard short instead of the 1 football length short it should have been, the 4th down play even became that close.

Anyways, besides that, another game with some total idiocy from Tomlin that he got away with. The 2nd down running play before halftime; the 3rd time this year his "guy" Fort blows assignment in goalline (after getting a press statement vote of confidence this week); the use of Watson instead of Conner over and over; the force-feed of Bryant in bizarre situations but not in ways that mazimize his skill set; the JJSS TD celebration that used the goalpost as a prop (and got away with it) 1 week after getting a celebration penalty using the goalpost as a prop....

With that said, the Steelers defense played amazing despite playing with only 10 men most of the time (Mike Mitchell is a total liability both physically and as a 'leader' ). Dupree and Watt are starting to turn it on at about the same time. This is a unit with an insane amount of speed and athleticism. If the coaching can start to put them in the right situations, and trust in playing them very aggressively, they could become something special.
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The standard is the standard!

34
by NYChem :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 9:45am

I agree with you on the spot on the play before, it was much closer to the first down marker than where they put it. I was actually advocating (to my fellow bar patrons, who obviously had no power to make it so) that if they were planning to go for it, Tomlin would be right to challenge it, knowing that they wouldn't garner the first down and would lose a timeout and a challenge, but at least the spot would be much closer tot he marker rather than a full yard off. And it turns out they would have then likely made the first down, but only if the next play went the same way; being that much closer the defense may have played tighter, the steelers may have tried the sneak, whatever. But it made me look smart in the bar after Lewis rightly challenged the next play and won the turnover on downs.

Disagree with you on Mitchell. He's the lone veteran out there with more than 4 years experience, aside from Haden, who is the new guy. The Steelers have been susceptible to big plays in the running game this year, but the big plays in the passing game, bombs down the field and what have you, have not materialized. Alex Smith and Andy Dalton usually have a knack for making a couple of those a game, but they haven't even been trying it (with the exception of a badly missed assignment by Burns in the 4th Q against the Chiefs), and I am guessing that is because Mitchell has been on his assignments downfield. Sure, it's not all on him, but he is in a sense the captain of the secondary, and they have managed to avoid looking bad in the passing game, so you have to give him some credit. Well, you are not legally obliged to give him credit, but still...

36
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 10:02am

I see Mike Mithcells play infecting the youth.

Sean Davis goes for hits not playing the ball. Artie burns goes for hits not tackles. Vince Williams celebrates afterdgiving up huge plays as long as they aren't touchdowns

Mitchell himself plays like a dumb hockey goon, and its spreading.

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The standard is the standard!

128
by NYChem :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 5:20pm

yeah, its horrible how his influence is making the steeler's d just awful this year. cripes, VDub is having his worst year as a starter, and Davis and Burns aren't playing like 10 year vets at ALL.
So, yeah, that was sarcastic. If you are trying to make the case that Mitchell is influencing players on the Steelers to perform badly, you might want to discuss other players than these three. Williams is playing as well as could possibly be hoped for in taking over for Timmons, nicely complimenting Shazier, And Burns and Davis are dynamic second year players who are helping make this a tough D to crack. I'm obviously not going to convince you on Mitchell, but you should come up with a better argument against his play than some youthful exuberance by other players. And I will say, hockey goons have their place on any quality hockey team. When Mitchell starts blowing his assignments, then I will worry. But if the Steeler's D combines execution with a little nastiness, well, it will remind you of most elite defenses (not that they are in that category... yet!)

2
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 7:03am

ctrl+f burfict

phrase not found.

So, is it about time the NFL sits Vontaze down for the rest of this season and all of the next? Disgraceful effort yesterday from this scumbag.

https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/vontaze-burfict-appears-to-kick-steel...
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The standard is the standard!

40
by LordChozo :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 10:26am

I don't know about that. If you watch the whole play, Bell gets tackled and then, afterward, Nix turns and drops a shoulder into Burfict while Burfict is already on the ground. Burfict then shoved Nix off with his feet, which is why he's pointing accusingly at Nix. But of course the circulating GIF shows only the end, which looks like a dirty kick out of context, instead of a response to a cheap shot from Nix.

The Steelers have made a career in the modern era by playing "smart dirty." By that I mean that they play dirty enough to provoke larger, dirtier reactions from their opponents. They can then cry foul about other teams playing dirty, when really this is how they're coached. It's a strategy that works especially well against the Bengals, because Vontaze Burfict actually IS dirty (though only about 30% as dirty as he's made out to be), and because the Bengals generally employ idiots on defense who are easily baited.

3
by RobotBoy :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 7:19am

Slight confusion over this: 'The Saints' early hot start was, in part, caused by a lack of turnovers; they tied an NFL record with no turnovers in their first four games, but have now thrown four in their past three quarters.'
The early 'hot start' has to be to this regular season, right?
But how hot was their early start if, 'It's the first time they have won four straight games since 2013...' If they're now 4-2 and have won four straight their start was two straight losses which equals, cold and damp.
I realize that audibles are assembled quickly so I'm not banging a drum for fact checking. I just wonder if I'm misunderstanding something.

8
by BobbyDazzler :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 8:13am

Exactly, seems like lazy commentary here give the Saints started 0-2. After those first two games, the only way anyone here would've used the word "hot" to describe them was if it was followed immediately by "mess".

They are hot now though and long may it continue. It's nice to be able to watch a reasonably competent defense for the first time in 4 years.

4
by andrew :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 7:20am

On Sept 24, the Ravens scored a garbage touchdown against the Jaguar s. This remains the only points scored by the losing team in London to date.

This far we have sent them:

Jaguars 44, Ravens
Saints 20, Dolphins
Rams 33, Cardinals

And now we send them the Browns next week.

At least the last game is Patriots Raiders.

Of course by posting this we will probably have a Cleveland offensive explosion.

7
by CaffeineMan :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 8:08am

Wait, Patriots-Raiders is in Mexico City, right? Or has it been moved because of the earthquake?

10
by andrew :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 8:25am

Oh, right, forgot, I just looked up "International Series" rather than London Games.

So this may well be the worst set of games we have ever sent London. Even as a Vikings fan I have to admit their brand of football right now isn't very appealing to watch. The Browns and Vikings combined this week played in games that featured fourteen field goals and one non-garbage touchdown.

Somehow my initial post left off the scores by the losing teams but that didn't leave off much.

Jaguars 44, Ravens 7
Saints 20, Dolphins 0
Rams 33, Cardinals 0

24
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 9:12am

Well, blowouts are always boring, but with tegard to boring games due to poor qb play, this is the flip side of rules designed to emphasize passing success, which has the effect of designing offenses that, relative to padt eras, which are so qb centric. If the qb doesn't execute, it is awful to watch.

I just wish the rules would be tweaked in a way
that allowed for more likely paths to success, other than "First, get a really good quarterback". Narrowing the goal posts might incent more 4 down offense, which might be interesting.

42
by RickD :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 10:59am

"Somehow my initial post left off the scores by the losing teams but that didn't leave off much."

Lol. I thought that was intentional.

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by herewegobrownie... :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 10:29pm

"Of course by posting this we will probably have a Cleveland offensive explosion."

Hey, with Andrew Sendejo suspended we might see Dave Njoku and Seth DeValve light up the seam...

9
by andrew :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 8:19am

please delete

5
by RobotBoy :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 7:25am

Thoughts about the reasons for N.O.'s 'offensive' performance? The mainstream narrative seems to be of the: 'the Falcons offense malfunctioned more than they were handled by the Patriots defense.' I can see that argument given the last two weeks for Atlanta but I'm also seeing a lot fewer blown coverages by the Pats (with Gilmore out, no less). You'd think that that the Falcons would have been able to take advantage of an emergency starter in the secondary who is a career special teamer.

14
by sbond101 :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 8:41am

This is kind of interesting. Watching the Pats through the first 6 weeks, most of what the defense surrendered was on plays where the defense had fundamental lapses in communications/organization resulting in guys that were totally uncovered. On plays where The defense has actually been respectably positioned they have competed quite well. I've spent the first third of the season wondering whether this set of observations is consistent with the more simplistic narrative that their defense just plain sucks; clearly having such a large number of plays where guys are left totally unaccounted for is a bad thing - but I wonder if it's a less predicative thing then other types of sucking (like in 2011, when they were frequently in perfect position and couldn't make plays).

Regardless, they didn't appear to turn anyone wide open this week, and were competitive on every play; I think their capable of playing that way and better regularly going forward. The Falcons also missed some opportunities they had where the coverage was competitive but not a blanket (or for that matter not scoring points when they had the chance), so it's worth taking that into account rather than taking the score at face value.

15
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 8:45am

I don't know how the offensive coordinator in Atlanta keeps his job much longer. What he has done to that passing game reminds me of the old line from the ACC on who is the only person who can keep Michael Jordan from scoring 20 points a game and the answer was Dean Smith.

21
by sbond101 :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 9:03am

Fair enough, but I can't help but look at some key plays and see a lack of aggression in the decision making that Matt Ryan made that was completely inconsistent with the way his coaches approached the game. Case in point, at 10:44 in the third quarter 3rd-7 from the NE 17 Ryan has Sanu 1 on 1 in the end zone with a no-name Pats CB (Bademosi I think) and throws it well out of reach instead of trusting his guy to try to make a play when losing 17-0. In a game where your coaches came out and went for it on 4th and 7 in Q1 that seems badly out of alignment, and I can't see how that's on the OC.

28
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 9:28am

Ryan was just terrible last night, often while not facing a particularly fierce pass rush.

157
by jw124164 :: Tue, 10/24/2017 - 1:14pm

Agreed. Tipped INT's aside, it seems like he's always throwing to well covered receivers, or over throwing. The Falcons look like 2nd-half-of-2015 Falcons. The OL looks terrible in run-blocking, the defense seems mediocre. But mostly Ryan just looks bad.

158
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/24/2017 - 1:34pm

I didn't think Julio looked particularly great either when it came to running routes. Bademosi isn't some world beater and this is Julio we're talking about.

27
by RobotBoy :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 9:24am

How much credit has to be given to Shanahan? He gets the stick for continuing to run high risk-reward plays in SB second half but his season with almost exactly the same players looks even better now. He's also made SF surprisingly competitive. (Except for yesterday).
I think the Pats D only has to be decent for that team to succeed. They've really stalled in the red zone the last few games and I think that's a correctable issue. I don't have much faith in Pittsburgh beating them in the playoffs given the recent encounters.

31
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 9:34am

The Steelers would have a much better chance in Pittsburgh.

32
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 9:41am

I have to say, Johnson Bademosi, aside from being a solid special-teamed, played admirably with Detroit the few times he was pressed into emergency service (and this was the 32nd ranked defense at the time, mind you, so it’s not like he was elevated by his teammates).

Belichick actually traded a 6th round pick for him, so he must have seen something on film that he liked. At the time, I kind of wanted to the Lions to keep him (unlike Van Noy, who simply could not play in a 4-3 defense).

37
by sbond101 :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 10:03am

This was intended as no disrespect to Bademosi, who has played pretty well; more just to show the disconnect in aggression between coach and QB. If your going for it on 4th & 7 in Q1, I'm pretty sure your coach wants you to risk an int to give your receiver a chance. Case in point when the Falcons finally did get a touchdown, it was on a similar play in the end zone (this time Jones & Butler) - Jones basically ripped the ball out of Butlers hands to turn an int into a TD. I think it's pretty clear from the way the game was called that this is the level of aggression the Falcons staff wanted from Ryan earlier in the game.

39
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 10:25am

Agree. When Quinn went for it on those fourth downs, I said to myself "Hey, the Falcons are here to try to win this game". Ryan, however, played the game very risk-averse, which is not the way to win when you're a heavy underdog.

74
by Scott P. :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:53pm

Heavy underdog? The Pats were favored by 3.

138
by RobotBoy :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 8:25pm

Interesting info on Bademosi. Since BB puts such high value on special teams play, I didn't think much of him giving up a sixth for a special teams ace. Wonder why he couldn't crack the rotation in Detroit after good performances.

6
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 8:05am

Tried to watch Broncos at Chargers. Got bored, went out to dig some fence post holes, said to myself, "Well tonight's game should be good". HA! Falcons were so awful, playing and coaching, that it's hard to even evaluate the Patriots.

Vikings can block for the first time in 8 years, even when backups get on the field. I can scarcely believe my eyes.

33
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 9:45am

All of the 4:00 games were excruciating to watch. Bengals-Steelers had its moments early on, but as Rob alluded to, you could instantly tell early in the second half that the Bengals had stopped competing for the day,

47
by jmaron :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 11:31am

and they kept blocking well even after he lost their left tackle and were down to their 3rd string left guard.

I hope Bradford or Bridgewater gets back to health soon and plays somewhere near their previous levels, because Keenum is going to lose some games soon. He's not entirely awful, he moves well in the pocket, makes some good choices when to run or pass, but man is he inaccurate. I find it a miracle that he's only thrown 2 ints in his last 150 or so throws. He's consistently off target, and even his completions are usually behind the receiver. I think their must have been about 5 or 6 really excellent adjustment catches yesterday, particularly by Wright and Thielen.

67
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:22pm

He's really been lucky with the ints. If he'd been facing healthy/good defensive backs in all his starts, he easily could have had some games with 3 or more picks.

11
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 8:31am

Ingram's rush was so explosive I think the ref threw the flag to protect himself. But yes, that should not have been a penalty

TJ Watt was all over the place for the Steelers yesterday. But sure, the Packers didn't need a quality edge rusher who can also defend the run. Nope, not at all.

I feel bad for Peppers in Cleveland, because he has been told his entire collegiate career he's awesome when he's not and now he is with a coaching staff that may not have any ability to help him get better at whatever he actually can do on a football field.

As for the Packers, folks are ripping the defense but those guys hung in there for 3 quarters before running out of gas. The offensive line for GB was pretty poor and credit Hundley for only being sacked once and being hit 3 times. The NO front was all over the Packers line as both tackles were clearly playing hurt. MM's playcalling did not help nor did refusing to play the guys that Hundley is comfortable with from practice like Geronimo Allison.

GB special teams were pretty poor thanks to penalties.

23
by ammek :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 9:10am

I mostly agree about the Packers' defense, although it did give up frustrating conversions on 3rd-&-9, 3rd-&-11 and 3rd-&-17 during the first half. Overall the Saints offense was 9-of-15 on third and fourth down. Getting off the field has long been a problem for Capers' defenses.

Meanwhile the Packers offense failed even to pick up a first down after Brees' two interceptions. Frustratingly on both series they had 'successful' plays on first and second down, each time leading to 3rd-&-1. McCarthy's playcalling on those third-and-very-short downs was strange: a quick (doomed) pass, then a third successive Montgomery run. I was looking for a Hundley run-option at least once. In any case, the blocking disintegrated so rapidly that it might not have mattered what the calls were.

Watching the Vikings' defense this season, I have to remind myself that Green Bay has spent more draft value on its defense over the past 5-6 years than Minnesota has. The Vikings' unit seems significantly more talented and less liable to blow coverages and whiff on tackles.

25
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 9:14am

The Saints made adjustments at halftime that GB could not handle.

I think Dix is playing hurt. He is a VERY different player this season as in playing worse in every aspect. Even before Burnett went out he looked bad. If he's not hurt then he must be dealing with some personal issue. When I see THIS level of regression not due to injury the player has something serious outside of the workplace.

The GB pass rush was ok until everyone ran out of gas.

Playing Montgomery at this point at running back is pointless. Either due to the ribs or other he is so tentative and lacking confidence unless the lane is 3 yards wide the run will likely fail.

26
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 9:22am

The Vikings are very fortunate to have obtained two terrific defensive ends with late draft picks.

53
by jmaron :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 11:50am

Since 2010 the Vikings have drafted much better defensive players than offensive. If you look at picks in the first 4 rounds - they've spent 15 on defence and 13 on off

Defence added

Griffen, Smith, Rhodes, Floyd, Barr, Hunter, Kendricks, Waynes, and Alexander....that's practically their entire starting defence. I would say they hit big on 5 of 15 picks, with several others being pretty good.

On offence you've got Diggs, Bridgewater, McKinnon, Rudolph, Wright, Kalil as the best 5 not including this years draft (Cook and Elfein look like excellent picks, but it's early)

It might be just luck, or it could be they just do a better job evaluation defensive players.

30
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 9:30am

2012: Drafted Daniels, Hayward and Perry. Those are all plus picks
2013: Drafted Datone Jones, Micah Hyde and Josh Boyd. I thought Jones evolved into a solid player but not a plus in terms of where he was drafted. Hyde was serviceable. Boyd I thought had a chance to be a good player until he got hurt
2014: Dix until this season was a real positive pick. The other guys drafted were a waste like Thorton and Bradford
2015: Randall more bad than good. Rollins is pretty much a waste of a spot. Ryan can play the run but is awful in pass coverage. Ringo is just a guy
2016: Clark is looking really good. So is Martinez. Dean Lowry shows stuff in pass rush. Fackrell is a bust and should be cut
2017: King is more good than bad so far. Josh Jones is in over his head relative to what the team is asking him to do but makes plays. Adams has done next to nothing

So the drafts that are hurting the team are 2014/2015 especially if Dix has gone south permanently. Otherwise, the team has found guys who can play at least individually. As to why the coordinator cannot generate better results is a different discussion.

76
by ammek :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:55pm

I agree with most of that. But because the Packers rarely offer a second contract to their merely-above-average defensive players, and because they shy away from free agency, they really need to find two defensive starters plus one serviceable backup per draft. That run from 2013-2015 didn't provide even half of that.

From 2011-2015, Green Bay drafted 23 defensive players; only Daniels, Dix, Hyde and Perry have more than 10 AV as Packers. (Ryan, Randall and House may join them this year, which goes to show what a low bar 10 AV is.) Perry had precisely 10 AV through his first four seasons before he finally got healthy.

But I take your point about the coordinator.

Will: The Packers best defenders of the decade have been Mike Daniels (4th-round pick) and Sam Shields (undrafted). Perhaps it's more unusual to get edge rushers in the lower rounds, although in the 2000s the Packers found Aaron Kampman and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. In any case, the comparison I had in my head was more about the secondary: Rhodes/Smith/Waynes vs Randall/Dix/Rollins.

79
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 1:06pm

Yeah, the Vikings have drafted dbs well, and Zimmer, of course, has a well deserved rep for coaching that unit well. I think Waynes is particular might still make some real improvement. His bad habits still arise, but notably less frequently as time goes on. Even 1st round picks can be intermediate to late bloomers

85
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 1:22pm

Agreed. The Packers do not have much margin for error in the draft.

On a side note I don't know what happened with Jones. He did not get many sacks but he had a good number of pressures. And he was solid against the run. But then he signs with the Vikes and they dropped him due to injury. Really strange. The guy was not great but he was a solid player

117
by lokiwi :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:38pm

I mostly agree with that outside of saying Jones developed into a solid player. 9 sacks for his career and he’s out of the league after the Packers didn’t pick up his fifth year option. Tough to call that anything but a bust for a first round pick.

120
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:45pm

He led GB in qb pressures his last year with the team and graded out as above average against the run. I don't know how that isn't a solid player.

And I wrote relative to his draft position he didn't measure up. But from an objective standard he was a contributing player.

124
by lokiwi :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:57pm

Chalk me up as highly skeptical about run grading if it’s PFF, but I’m sure you watched more of him than I did so I will defer to your judgment. I’m probably over-valuing him not making a team this ear and retroactively holding it against his previous play. His decision to try to make the Vikings, who are absolutely stacked at the line, never made any sense to me. Maybe he was hoping Zimmer could get more out of him.

Also, apologies if this seemed like piling on. I hadn’t refreshed the page in a few hours and didn’t realize you had already responded to other comments about Datone.

125
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 4:00pm

I don't use PFF. I am referencing the work of now ex-Packer beat write Bob McGinn (along with my own personal experience as a player from bygone days but that and $3 gets me a latte at Starbucks)

That GB did not attempt to re-sign him given the need at linebacker is telling. Gotta be something else at work. Jones resume says he merits a job in the NFL.

132
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 7:45pm

The Lions actually signed him on October 11. He never sniffed the field, and was released one week later. The Lions aren’t exactly flush with healthy edge rushing talent at the moment, so that tells you something. There must be an undisclosed injury, or something.

12
by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 8:37am
45
by andrew :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 11:27am

That was an awesome punt. Punt of the year candidate.

13
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 8:38am

Speaking of ex-Wisco guys doing well the Saints right tackle Ryan Ramczyk played really well yesterday. Hurt GB obviously but glad to see former Badgers playing good football at the pro level

16
by James-London :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 8:50am

I hope Jay Cutler recovers quickly and fully from the rib injury. I also hope that Miami stick him on IR. He's done, and Miami need to accept that.Matt Moore may not be an all-pro, but the offense looks much more functional with him playing. Tannehill's going to be starting next year in any event, so there's no reason to persist with Cutler.

Once Miami's defense remembered how to defend screens they were OK. In the first half, not so much.

Pro tip for Todd Bowles: Buster Skrine can't cover Kenny Stills

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

136
by Alternator :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 8:15pm

As a fan of an AFC East team, I wish Cutler a speedy recovery on his way to reclaiming his starting role.

17
by rj1 :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 8:50am

Thought this could be a good future experiment for Football Outsiders. Seeing Trubisky's numbers, I think back to when Fox was coaching Denver and he was able to get them into the playoffs with Tim Tebow starting. I wonder if Fox is a coach that without a QB is able to figure out a way to win more than others can. Could you in theory run the numbers to see the win-loss records of coaches with whatever definition for not a great QB you want, say below 10th in DYAR or below average (zero)?

19
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 8:59am

He gets ripped all the time, sometimes justifiably, but Fox's teams almost always look well prepared, even when there is a large talent deficit. He's a good coach.

You can throw in what he did with Jake Freakin' Delhomme as another example. Think of how close a Delhomme qbed team came to beating a Brady qbed team in a Super Bowl.

71
by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:42pm

I've deleted a number of back and forth comments here. Please do not pick obnoxious fights with other FO readers. The person in question knows who he is.

86
by BroncFan07 :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 1:22pm

I agree with this assessment; sadly though, the 3 times I said "wow, they just didn't look prepared today" were 1) playoff game vs Baltimore, 2) SB vs Seattle, 3) playoff game vs Indy.

I think fans' frustration with Fox is his preference to kick on 4th an short. He did this a lot with Tebow, even though Tebow was the most 4th and 1 QB ever. In a game Denver lost to New England in 2011 in the regular season, Belichick actually declined a penalty, giving Denver 4th and 1 instead of 3rd and 6 because he knew Fox would take the FG and not go for it instead.

88
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 1:28pm

Oh, he certainly can be faulted for his ridiculous conservatism during a game, but if that is the worst thing that can be said about an NFL head coach, he's probably reasonably good at his job.

89
by theslothook :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 1:29pm

Feel like the Baltimore playoff loss had a lot of elements that were flukey. A pick six on a blatant no call gifts the ravens 7 pts. That crazy hail mary play. I have a hard time believing Fox was so casual in his coaching that led to that.

Yes the pre-half kneeling was lunacy, but none of that happens if those two major events don't happen. And yea, sb50 was a coaching disaster.

the Playoff game v Indy - Manning fell apart. I feel like that entire loss is because Manning ceased being Manning at the worst possible time.

Fox is uber conservative though I think he's learned some since then. Hes a coach with faults, like all except the hoodie.

131
by BJR :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 7:21pm

I'd class Fox alongside Jeff Fisher (before he apparently lost interest) as good coaches, but who have rather seen the modern NFL pass them by. They'll get a weak group of players playing hard and fundamentally soundly to achieve respectable results. But they are not the men to oversee the development of a young QB, or a decent offense in general. Of course that doesn't matter if you can simply delegate the offense to Peyton Manning.

114
by TomC :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:27pm

I'm not sure I agree with Will about Fox and team preparedness. Three times this year the Bears have looked embarrassingly ill-prepared. The Thursday night against the Packers was so egregious that many people in Chicago were wondering if he would get fired that weekend. All the heat got deflected onto Mike "Scapegiraffe" Glennon, but then the subsequent Monday against the Vikings was awful too, even after 11 days to prepare for it.

I am enjoying the hell out of what the defense is doing right now, but it's not sustainable, and they're not doing their future selves any favors by giving their rookie QB seven throws a game.

115
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:37pm

Hey, the Bears have been trying to compete with no qb or receiver production. That's just incredibly difficult in this era.

If the Bears get a chance to draft the Penn State rb, watch out, because that guy is Adrian Peterson, except he is just as dominant in the passing game, catching and blocking. They might win 11-
13 gmes with that guy, if Tribitzky is just slightly below average, because the ol and defensive front are in place.

18
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 8:55am

Here is the thing about GB's coaching staff that really has one wondering. It's really obvious that Lane Taylor is really good at run blocking. The guy who filled in for him today ,Justin McCray, is as the saying goes a road grader. He's clunky in pass pro but he clears the way. Linsley is not awesome but capable. And you see it regularly that inside runs for GB work well. Evans has been surprisingly decent.

How does one not use that as the fulcrum for the offense?

20
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 9:02am

It's been so long since Green Bay has tried to win by reducing possessions in the game. It's looks strange to even write the words.

22
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 9:07am

This is the contradiction with McCarthy. The guy repeatedly, and let me stress the word repeatedly, has tried to have his non-power run blocking team power run on short yardage plays and regularly get stuffed. It has reached the comical at this point.

So yesterday, with guys who can actually you know run block what does he do on his first 3rd and 1? A quick slant to Adams that gets batted down as the db was all over the receiver ata the line. On his second short yardage? Why let's run wide and it gets enveloped by like half the defense.

I am far more positive about MM as a coach as most Packer fans who believe the guy has been carried by his all everything QB. But yesterday's gameplan and individual play calls were at times inexplicable. He did very little to HELP his qb. As if the system would do the work versus aligning calls to the player's skill set.

29
by Otis Taylor89 :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 9:29am

"I have seen more disciplined play in Puppy Bowls."
Yes, the 2017 Colts!

35
by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 9:58am

One nice thing about the Foxboro fog -- getting to watch a lot of the game from behind the QB. I'd love to see a game where most of the live shots were from that and also from way high up.

38
by aces4me :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 10:10am

I loved the camera work in this game. I wish they would show all football from high above the quarterback.

41
by JMM :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 10:51am

On the Steeler's fake punt, I think that was an audible called by Rob Golden. It seems they practice that every week and have for years. If the gunner is uncovered, they audible to the short snap and Golden throws it to the gunner. Notice that a Cinci defender ran over to the gunner at the snap to follow him down the field. The throw was down the field, not directly out to the gunner which allowed him the room to catch it. A throw to a stationary gunner could have been defended more easily. It looks like that was a "if you call it, you better make it work" type play.

160
by jtr :: Tue, 10/24/2017 - 3:25pm

I assume they always have that play available and they switch to it whenever a gunner uncovered.
Not really sure what Cinci's plan was for that punt return formation. On both sides of the formation, they lined up a player too far outside to block the punt but too far inside to jam the gunner. What the hell was he supposed to be doing if not one of those two things? That's just baffling coaching. Good thing for Marvin Lewis that the Bengals will never ever fire him.

162
by Jerry :: Wed, 10/25/2017 - 1:45am

They both originally lined up outside one-on-one with the gunners, then shifted in. That was presumably the point where the Steelers called, quickly, for the pass.

43
by RickD :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 11:07am

The fog-induced low camera angles in Foxboro were fascinating and neat, but they also made it hard to keep track of progress down the field. Telling the difference between a 15-yard pass and a 30-yard pass is very hard. Having said that, I wouldn't mind a mix with more lower angles.

57
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 11:58am

Definitely a little more difficult to tell, but I think its a fine trade-off for being able to tell how fast runningbacks actually are, how the offensive/defensive lines are actually moving, what routes WRs are running, and how damn fast quarterbacks read the field. There's just so much more information.

44
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 11:23am

I'm starting to wonder if Coughlin hasn't been better suited for the GM job, as opposed to head coach, all along.

165
by t.d. :: Fri, 10/27/2017 - 12:55pm

I don't know how much credit Coughlin deserves in the team's resurgence; while the team eagerly bought in to the 'culture' junk like being five minutes early to meetings, they have had a top six(? may be five) draft pick for more consecutive seasons than any organization in nfl history, and have snagged the best free agents on the market on defense for two years running (they actually have been one of the biggest spenders for three consecutive years, in addition to all the high draft picks, but guys like julius thomas and toby gerhart didn't pan out). It's pretty easy to improve a team with repeated great draft picks and an owner who opens his wallet and asks 'what do you need'. Locals always liked Dave Caldwell, and i want to like him, too, but you could see the bortles pick coming, and you could see it'd be a mistake, and there has to be some kind of accountability for that kind of thing (i recall for each of the last two seasons complaining about gus bradley on the nfl reddit, and everybody would reply how much they like him and would want their organization to show that kind of patience, but no one has that kind of patience when losing continuously; like when football perspective pointed out how awful the previous titan's coach's record was (something like 3-27 over the previous 30 games), and he was gone right away, they also pointed out just how bad bradley's record was- historic, really, and soon he was gone). Like with the raiders in al's waning years, the jags roster when caldwell and bradley took over was nearly unfathomably bad; it's nice to finally see some turnover in the quality teams of the afc. still, coughlin hasn't made any mistakesso i guess he desrves credit (signing julius thomas away from peyton and drafting bortles, joeckel, and justin blackmon with very high picks under caldwell were all dubious decisions; i still wish blackmon had any interest in being reinstated, such a waste)

46
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 11:31am

I'm going to make a series of crazy and controversial statements.

A) The Buccaneers have a deep-ball offense. Jameis Winston consistently has one of the deepest averages passes in the league, and his ALEX ratings are always near the top.

B) Jameis Winston cannot throw the deep ball worth a pile of @#$!! @#$!!

I'm beginning to think the combination of these two factors just might possibly reflect some issues with Dirk Koetter's judgement and/or offensive scheme.

48
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 11:41am

Who gets fired first, Lovie in Champaign, or Dirk in Tampa?

52
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 11:49am

That's actually a tough one; the University of Illinois is not . . . known to exactly be a football powerhouse, to put it gently, so I'm not sure there's going to be that much pressure. Bad coaches get longer tenures there, because that team invariably is terrible, it seems. Dirk has built an offense that is effective in all sorts of ways that involved getting to about the opponent's 30 yard line and then missing a field goal, so, in conventional stats, Winston has shown definite and marked improvement each year. The frustration comes from knowing if Winston could hit those deep shots to Desean Jackson (HOW DO YOU CONSISTENTLY OVERTHROW DESEAN JACKSON) this could be a great offense, but it just isn't happening.

I would be surprised if Koetter is fired, but there are a lot more games to potentially lose.

58
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:02pm

Rutgers beating Illinois AT Illinois has definitely amped up the complaining from the alums. And Illinois does not have a dreadful football history. Illinois was in the Rose Bowl as recently as 2008. It's nothing along the lines of an Indiana (who is looking pretty competent this season by the way) in terms of longstanding losing conference seasons.

But now they are not just a bad team, the Illinois teams do not look competitive.

Wisconsin visits this weekend, and if what folks think will happens happen I think Smith maybe, maybe, lasts the season. Maybe.

69
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:35pm

Illinois has had four winning seasons this millennium, two of those being 7-6 seasons. They had a ten-win season in 2001, and, to find the next double-digit winning season, you have to go back to 1989. I'm feeling reasonably OK in my "not a good football history", and it's not far off Indiana. Monday morning time-wasting math tells me Indiana has had 81 wins since 2000. Illinois has . . . 81 wins since 2000.

I'm gonna say the Illinois/Indiana comparison is a pretty solid one.

72
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:42pm

Well, I was the one who brought up Indiana. And I was thinking in terms of long-term program history. Illinois challenges are more recent compared to an Indy who last went to the Rose Bowl in 1968. I suspect that is longer than most of the people on this board have been alive.

73
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:53pm

And to clarify any confusion Big10 folks over the age of 40 and outside of Columbus, OH don't give a sh8t about the collegiate playoffs. These folks care about going to the Rose Bowl. That is the standard by which Big10 success is measured. Sugar Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Whatever Bowl are whatever fine. But it's a great season when your team goes to the Rose Bowl.

I know. Midwesterners are silly people

100
by rj1 :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 2:51pm

1. Sunshine and good weather on New Year's Day.
2. The college playoffs are nothing more than a marketing gimmick. As a lifelong fan of Purdue and graduate of North Carolina State, I think both teams could win their conferences and they'll still find a way to not invite them because they're not big fanbase schools. (And State actually could this year, although I've been let down enough to know not to expect it.) Notice how gaga people are that Notre Dame are actually better than decent this year, because they want big ratings for the games.
3. Yeah, like Ohio State fans are the "down to earth" people.

103
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 2:59pm

Regarding 3 I did not intend to suggest anything about Ohio State fans.

But if you ask the hardcore Big10 fan outside of OSU/MI what they hope to see when Meyer and Harbaugh face off most of them would answer 'meteor' or something similar.

Though Franklin at PSU is climbing up the charts. His obviously false statements like claiming he did not know who PSU was playing next week as some kind of schtick may endear him to the PSU fanbase but has everyone else rolling their eyes.

109
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:15pm

Hey, it was another week where my relatives who went to Madison gained unreasonable pleasure from what happened to the Arkansas football team on Saturday. The most amusing thing is that Arkansas may not be able to afford to fire Bielema until January 2019

119
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:42pm

Bielema claimed he had two major barriers in remaining competitive at Wisconsin.

1. The assistant coach pay levels were not par with other major programs. This is true. The highest paid assistant is the offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph at $650k. Bielema wanted to be able to pay his key assistants a million or more. Wisconsin's pay scale is subject to state legislature approval and the state legislature is hostile to the University for any number of reasons not the least of which the rural parts of the state, which are many, who comprise the bulk of the legislature do not want to do 'those pansies in Madison' any favors. (I grew up in rural Wisconsin, travel all over the state and I know these folks.)

2. The admissions dept would not accommodate his efforts in recruiting. UW is not some paragon of academic virtue, but the admissions has standards, Alvarez agreed to those standards, he explains those standards to incoming coaches and Barry won't 'lean' on the admissions office. Bret and the guy that followed him, Gary Andersen, somehow thought this aspect was still negotiable. It wasn't.

So there is no love lost between Wisconsin and this guy. Toss in his shots at Wisco after leaving about now being in a place serious about football and you can't really object to some small degree of schadenfreude at his struggles at Arkansas

121
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:47pm

I always thought he was a little overrated, coasting on the Alvarez momentum, and the third Rose Bowl appearance being a fluke. Looks like I was right

129
by Raiderfan :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 5:31pm

Well, good for the legislators representing the rural voters of Wisconsin.

153
by big10freak :: Tue, 10/24/2017 - 6:45am

To be clear Alvarez has not come out suggesting that WI change its pay scales. It's just that the University knows this topic is dead on arrival so why bother.

111
by rj1 :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:19pm

"But if you ask the hardcore Big10 fan outside of OSU/MI what they hope to see when Meyer and Harbaugh face off most of them would answer 'meteor' or something similar."

Me personally, I hate Ohio State more than I hate Michigan.

As far as Penn State, in 25 years I'll still remember Jerry Sandusky and how a lot of their fanbase for some reason thought it didn't matter.

81
by dank067 :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 1:09pm

I'm an Illinois alum and have family in Indiana. Illinois football has a larger fan base than IU and much more (ancient) football history but in terms of overall standing today they're probably about the same. It is kind of odd how much higher highs they've enjoyed since the 80s (two Big Ten titles plus another share, two Rose Bowls and another BCS bowl appearance vs. nothing comparable for Indiana) without actually achieving more success overall.

Some fans are always impatient but I think they'll give Lovie 3 years minimum, and even then only fire him if they look totally uncompetitive. I have no idea how they could sell the program to another coach if they fire Lovie Smith after two seasons. Coming off a messy end of the previous regime too.

84
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 1:20pm

I lived in Iowa for years so vaguely follow the Hawkeyes, and one thing you have to give Iowa is they seem pretty aware they're unlikely to field a top team on a regular basis, and choose to stick with a long-term, consistent plan. Ferentz is a good coach with the ability to crank out in particular solid linemen, and gets the team a bowl about every year and the Hawkeyes are regularly one of the better second-tier (i.e., not Ohio State, Michigan, or Wisconsin) teams in the conference. Iowa seems to aim for something above mediocrity, and hits it usually. Illinois and Indiana both have sucked for years (amusingly, they both had ten wins in 2001, so they flamed out at the same time).

I do recall Illinois being decent in the 80s and Indiana always being terrible, but 30 years ago is still 30 years ago.

93
by dank067 :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 1:52pm

Agree 100%. I live in Iowa now actually. Some of the griping by Hawkeye fans about Ferentz is amusing- I don't think some of them realize how good they have it coming into every season with legitimate bowl aspirations.

161
by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 10/24/2017 - 3:36pm

Iowa is one of the greatest universities in the United States. They really need to protect that reputation; I don't think they could afford a scandal. My alma mater, SUNY-Binghamton, was referred as one of the best public colleges in the country when I went there in the early 90s. They had a scandal concerning a basketball player who helped the team get to the NCAA tournament for the first time in forever. It damaged the school's reputation, and all they got was a 60 point loss to Duke. Iowa should hang on to Ferentz as long as they can.

87
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 1:22pm

How are the football facilities in Champaign? There's been such a facilities arms race in the Big 10, that Minnesota, for instance, has just now achieved parity in, that it is fortunate that they have won more than 100 games in the stretch we are looking at.

Too few people appreciate what Alvarez achieved in Madison. When he arrived, that program was in worse shape than either Illinois or Indiana now.

91
by dank067 :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 1:46pm

They re-did a lot of their football facilities and renovated the stadium about 10-15 years ago. So naturally they are out of date and want to build new facilities and renovate the stadium again! Which honestly I can understand- the "building boom" in college football with all of the money that's come into the sport the past decade is crazy. Gotta keep up.

94
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 1:57pm

I like watching the games, but there is no getting around the inherent corruption of big time college football, where coaches and administrators make millions, millions are spent on facilities, while the athletes take significant health risks, with no union to protect them, and management engages in open collusion to fix labor costs. Like I said, I'm a hypocrite to some degree, because I enjoy watching it, but there is an element which is pretty gross.

90
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 1:39pm

I would not bet on Iowa effectively replacing Ferentz, when that day comes. They were damned lucky to get him after Fry. The don't have the history of Nebraska, or the momentum of Wisconin, and there are just sustantially more good high school players closer to Madison than Iowa City.

92
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 1:46pm

Wisconsin was lucky in getting the version of Chryst that works at Wisco while having not done much at Pitt.

Chyrst looks to be a lifer meaning unlike his immediate predecessors Chryst is not using WI as a stepping stone.

The crux is finding a coach that can stick with the tried and true approach and execute against it. I have laid it out numerous times so will save everyone the tedium but the team starts to struggle when it gets away from who it needs to be to compete in the Big10

95
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 2:03pm

Oh, Chryst is the perfect Alvarez football coach. He'll never want to leave, and is actually terrific, with his weakest attribute, which is probably not being the most dynamic recruiter, will be mitigated by being such a good fit with a program that has developed such momentum. Badgers have done pretty well against the SEC, and their Rose Bowl losses have been darn close.

150
by D :: Tue, 10/24/2017 - 12:17am

Illinois gave Zook a third year and Lovie has already won more games than Zook did in his first two years.

Plus, Illinois' athletic department is already running a large deficit (at least by Big Ten standards) so I doubt they want to add a buyout. I suspect Lovie returns for year 3.

59
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:06pm

I read stories today of guys openly complaining about their roles, which, when it happens before November, tells me that the locker room could get so toxic by December that it becones untenable for a head coach without a resume that says, "Shut your piehole, run of the mill NFL player".

I never thought Lovie was suited for college recruiting, so that struck me as a strange hire.

102
by ChrisS :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 2:58pm

"I never thought Lovie was suited for college recruiting". Given the underhanded lying, cheating, back-stabbing and outright corruption (see NCAA basketball and she companies) involved in recruiting that is high praise.

105
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:08pm

That's pretty much how I intended it.

133
by Floyd :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 7:45pm

Ha! Know it's a typo, but she/shoe companies describes the one-two punch that brought down Louisville and Rick Pitino. Escorts and Adidas!

49
by BroncFan07 :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 11:42am

Ingram was officially penalized for "helmet to helmet contact." I think it was one of those hits that looked worse at full speed than it actually was because Siemian kind of corkscrewed in the air. It happened right in front of where I was sitting and it was a hard hit, but on replay it sure seemed like Ingram was level with Siemian's shoulders and not the helmet.

66
by LyleNM :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:22pm

Yeah, there's no helmet-to-helmet contact on that play at all. Watching it in real-time, that flag was thrown so fast, I think the ref was just throwing it based on what he was expecting to happen. Pretty sure that ref will get a serious downgrade in the game review but as usual the public will hear nothing about it.

50
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 11:43am

So I'm running an NFL thread on another site, and spent last week's thread talking about how consistently and amazingly terrible the Cleveland Browns have been. I knew they were awful, but, after spending a little time looking at the franchise encyclopedia over at PFR, the specifics of how bad they have been are surprising, even for them. Re-pasted here for further amusement:

If you count the Browns 18 full seasons since their rebirth:

-The Browns have one playoff appearance.

-The Browns have two winning seasons.

-The Browns have finished anywhere other than last in their division FOUR times. FOUR. They have finished last 14 out of 18 possible seasons.

-The Browns have had a positive point differential in only those two winning seasons. They have had triple-digit negative point differential eight times.

-The Browns have had 24 first-round draft picks since 1999, and a combined 18 Pro Bowls between them. Ten of those are Joe Thomas, four more are Alex Mack, two are Joe Haden, and the other 21 players combined have TWO combined (one each for Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow II). Those are not necessarily Pro Bowls while playing for the Browns; that’s counting the entire careers of those 24 players.

-Of the Browns five first-round picks between 2012 and 2014, only two of them are in the league. Trent Richardson, Johnny Manziel, and Justin Gilbert are all out of the league, and the two remaining players are Barkevious Mingo and Brandon Weeden. To repeat; Brandon Weeden has had at worst the second-best career of those five players. BRANDON WEEDEN.

-13 different players have led the Browns in rushing for a season, and 12 receiving. The turnover at RB and WR isn’t as crazy as QB, but it isn’t that far behind.

-The almost-playoffs 1999 team ranked 8th in points scored. The 2002 playoff team was 19th. The next-best was 24th. The Cleveland Browns offense has been so execrably bad, they have ranked between 30 and 32 for points scored nine teams. Again, half of the seasons of their existence, they have been one of the three worst scoring teams in the league.

The Browns QB legacy at this point is legendary, but, even if you ignore how bad Browns quarterbacks have been, they’re still the worst team in the history of professional sports. Granted, the QB issues reflect into all of the above, but it’s such a tiny subset of the organizational incompetence that it honestly gets over-emphasized in how bad that team has been.

55
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 11:56am

Its the 8 times 3 digit negative point differential that is really depressing. I wonder how many noncorporate season ticket holders have been willing to tolerate this plutonium powered dynamo of suck for all 18 years?

62
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:12pm

Other things I have found in my endless quest to describe the pure awfulness of the new Browns. Joe Thomas ranks 5th in the full history of the Cleveland Browns franchise for PFR's Career Approximate Value statistic (which is clearly an imperfect stat, but good enough for all sorts of things for rough comparison purposes). The next player of any sort for the new Browns? D'Qwell Jackson, #40th for the franchise. The highest-ranked QB on the Career AV listing who played for the new Browns is Tim Couch (who has 32 Career AV), who is tied for 90th in franchise history. Second is Derek Anderson, with 15 for the Browns, which is less AV in his years in Cleveland than Aaron Rodgers accumulates in a single average season.

65
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:18pm

The unfortunate thing is that Tim Couch appeared to be finally turning the corner and turning into a decent quarterback, before he injured his shoulder (essentially ending his career).

139
by theslothook :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 8:26pm

I would also add this to the misery list: the team that left ended up winning the sb shortly after. At one point, the browns had BB, Ozzie, and Nick Saban all on the same team and got rid of them all.

A lot of this is self inflicted: Brandon Weeden
and Johnny Manziel, but a lot of this is just plain bad luck. Despite it's drawbacks, I believe the tanking strategy is the right one. They will again have 2 first and 2 2nds. You just have to keep trying.

156
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 10/24/2017 - 10:52am

My main issue with your post is in the last sentence you used the verb "keep" instead of "start". I don't think the idea of being awful, building up enough draft capital to get more quality young players, and growing the team is a bad idea. I'm just at the point where I no longer believe the people running the Browns are actually using a strategy at all other than grabbing random people in the draft and figuring something will happen eventually.

164
by t.d. :: Fri, 10/27/2017 - 12:19pm

Isn't Paul DiPodesta in charge there, a baseball guy? I understand that the broad concepts of 'moneyball' are a good place to start, and they have an impressive amount of draft capital, both in the draft just completed and the future, and I do think that their reluctance to pull the trigger on any of the top qb prospects (does kizer count?) probably has something to do with their understanding that they don't have insight into the fundamentals of scouting, and an understanding of how far you set the franchise back by getting it wrong (Chase Stuart has argued compellingly that the cost of missing on a first round quarterback is the coach and gm get fired, and the franchise it set back five years, back when he wanted the jets to fire rex ryan). still you'd feel better if they had confidence in their own decisions (recent cleveland general managers have screwed up the 'tons of draft capital' situation before, after the julio jones trade, and i think it's happened once more since then)

63
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:16pm

“The almost-playoffs 1999 team ranked 8th in points scored.“

I assume you mean the 2007 team. That was the Derek Anderson/Braylon Edwards team that beat up on an easy defensive schedule.

I don’t know what’s funnier/sadder...the fact that the Browns (and the 2010 Cardinals) were fooled by that small sample size into thinking that Derek Anderson was an NFL-quality starter, or the fact that the Browns were fooled by Kelly Holcomb’s fluke single game performance in the 2002 Wildcard game into thinking he was an NFL-quality starter.

77
by Scott P. :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 1:00pm

"The Browns QB legacy at this point is legendary, but, even if you ignore how bad Browns quarterbacks have been, they’re still the worst team in the history of professional sports."

The Cleveland Spiders would like to have a word with you (of course, it had to be another Cleveland team, didn't it?)

83
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 1:15pm

The whole reason I stumbled down the Epic Browns Sucking rabbit hole is there was a bit of a debate on that site (Gamers With Jobs, for us grown-up gaming geeks) as to the worst team in professional sports history. The Browns have almost two decades of the kinds of incompetence and universal terrible-ness that shouldn't be possible in a league that is specifically set up to enforce parity and have at least some turnover in the decent teams. Even the Zombie Al Davis Raiders had moments you thought the franchise was at least plain bad instead of utterly terrible, but Cleveland has been so bad for the past 19 seasons in every way that doesn't involved the words "Joe" and "Thomas" that I think they have to have the title.

Also, I had to look up the Cleveland Spiders, and, while that's nutso, it's also a shorter time frame in a somewhat more erratic time. The Browns are the worst franchise in professional sports history based on two decades of incompetence, and I can't imagine what's going to change that opinion.

97
by Travis :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 2:18pm

My pick for worst franchise in (modern, North American) professional sports history would be the last franchise in a major league to go defunct, the Oakland Seals/California Golden Seals/Cleveland Barons. No winning seasons (or even close to one) in 11 years and two playoff appearances only because the NHL split the conferences among existing and expansion teams.

101
by rj1 :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 2:55pm

I have to go Maple Leafs. Take the New York Yankees, largest fanbase in their league, gold mint of money it makes for the owners every year, and now say they go 76-86 every year. That's the Maple Leafs for most of the last 50 years. Although last year and this one they appear to be turning things around.

151
by Jerry :: Tue, 10/24/2017 - 3:55am

Where do the pre-1972 Steelers fit? That was a long run of awful.

147
by El Muneco :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 11:41pm

Say what you will about promotion/relegation - and you can say a lot - at least the true incompetents sink to their own level without having the opportunity to stink up the top level for twenty years.

On the other hand, it means you have a new team stinking up the top level for one year before going back down... most of the time... but sometimes they are halfway competent and get it right and stick around for a while.

96
by ChrisS :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 2:15pm

I think you can find a few franchises with such suckiness over an 18 year time period. In the post-merger period (50 seasons excluding 1982) the Lions have 15 winning season, 12 playoff appearances, 1 playoff victory and an 0-16 season. Maybe not as bad as Cleveland, but ouch. From 1973-1990 the Lions had 2 winning seasons and 1 playoff appearance. However in that frame they did win 40% of their games and drafted Barry Sanders in 1989.

106
by RickD :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:09pm

To find truly awful franchises, I suggest looking at the older leagues (MLB, NHL) back when they didn't care in the slightest about parity. The Washington Senators (post-Walter Johnson) come to mind. In their last 15 years in Washington, they never finished higher than 4th in the 8-team AL, and 7th or 8th nine times.

"First in war, first in peace, last in the American League".

110
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:18pm

I think the level of expected parity is what makes the Browns the "champions" here; the nature of the draft (though pre-rookie cap first-round picks had salary issues that obviously could complicate things), playing varied schedules based on divisional finishing position, and free agency all exist in part to allow bad teams to get better. Even the horrible 00s Lions frequently rose to the level of mediocre, and never went more than three consecutive years as the last-place team in their division. The Browns finished last in their division 14 out of 18 years. That is AMAZING.

And, yes, if you're looking short runs of pure badness, the 2008/2009 Lions went a combined 2-30 with a -481 point differential over those two seasons combined, but even that is surrounded with a bunch of 5-6-7 win seasons and such. Cleveland's just been consistently horrid in so many ways.

112
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:20pm

Prior to the major league draft being instituted in yhe mid 60s, baseball was just ridiculously bad at competitive balance. No free agency of course, so the Yankees could just buy all the best prospects, stash them in the minors, and they would remain the Yankees'property forever.

148
by El Muneco :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 11:43pm

Not just the minors - they stashed some of them on the Kansas City Athletics. Who were technically not a minor league team, although in reality...

152
by Subrata Sircar :: Tue, 10/24/2017 - 4:10am

The 1899 Cleveland Spiders were so bad (20-134, or a .130 win percentage) that:

1. Most prediction systems assume that the worst possible MLB team will be ~42-120, or almost twice as good as the Spiders. They are worse than the theoretical modern minimum!
2. They were effectively disbanded after this debacle.

They are generally considered the front-runner for worst American professional sports team. Even the 0-26 start for Tampa Bay is generally not considered on par with that, despite prompting the classic John McKay one-liner ("Talk about your team's execution." "I'd be in favor of it.").

163
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 10/26/2017 - 4:35am

Re: 50 and how bad the Browns have been

A few days late but reading this week's Scramble, I realised that this is technically inaccurate.

When Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore they made him leave the franchise history. Officially the 1999 Cleveland Browns are a continuation of the highly successful Cleveland Browns franchise that dominated the AAFC and had success in the 1950s, 60s, 80s NFL. They're far from worst-ever franchise.

Of course none of us see it that way.

I don't quite know why the NFL treated Modell with that level of contempt given that they let the Raiders and the Rams leave LA the previous year without leaving their histories, and again have allowed the Rams and Chargers to move back there and the Raiders to go on to Las Vegas.

But clearly the fresh start worked for Modell and he got the SB trophy he'd wanted and the Ravens franchise has been very successful.

51
by theslothook :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 11:46am

Seeing all the scores this week suggests to me we may have finally passed the offensive inflection point. A week like this would have seemed unthinkable/impossible a year or so ago. What's caused this decline? Better pass rushers / worse o line play?

54
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 11:53am

I get told I am wrong regularly but will persist in my belief in that the not subpar, not below average but simply not professional grade by any measure offensive line performance is the root cause.

56
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 11:58am

For what it is worth, that's my best explanation as well.

60
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:07pm

What folks somehow fail to understand is that one of the big reasons why this has become a qb centric league is that you have to be a REALLY good qb to compensate for bad line play.

You have to be a really sh8tty qb to not succeed with a good offensive line and a modicum of skill position ability.

64
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:16pm

That's why I said, prior to Dalvin Cook's injury, that the Vikings would be fine with Keenum, if every other area just maintained status quo. Give me a good defense, 3 receivers with route running and ball skills, a rb who is a threat in the running and passing game, paired with just professionally competent blocking, and you can win 11 or 12 games, maybe more, with probably more than 20 current NFL qbs.

75
by sbond101 :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:54pm

3rd'ed; When I started watching football in the early 2000 I never recall seeing guards and tackles outright turn-style, now it happens every week. I'm not sure whether the lack of practice time or the lack of power-running is responsible (I suspect the lack of power running, leading to smaller DL has a lot to do with why it happens), but its a real thing. In my mind this was epitomized in the 2015 NFC wildcard game between SEA and MIN, where it seemed like a SEA DL beat a guard clean on every running play. I don't care how athletic/skilled a DL is, that only happens if blocks that are taught at the HS level aren't executed properly (forget about the "pass protection" that that game featured).

61
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:12pm

Yea I agree with you. Specifically, there are an astounding number of bad offensive tackles currently starting in the NFL (some are injury replacements, but many are not).

70
by theslothook :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:35pm

Well let me pose it this way. Back in 2011-2014 - were offensive lines markedly worse than they are today? Perhaps defenses are better at defending the short pass with smaller, quicker, better coverage players? Perhaps qbs are worse today.

We seem to lack an objective measure for o line play, unless you believe in PFF grades( I don't take them as gospel or necessarily objective, just another set of stats). So it's hard to be definitive about this

82
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 1:12pm

I think some of it is that the amount of practice allowed is significantly lower now, and that offensive line play requires more cohesion than most other aspects of offense. There are a lot of things in line play that really can't be practiced outside of full contact.

68
by ammek :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 12:31pm

I think that's premature. If Luck, Palmer and David Johnson were healthy, there would not have been three shutouts this week. If Rodgers were healthy, that game with the Saints might have evolved into a barnstormer. Sure, offensive production is down (by a small amount) compared with last year, but similar blips have happened before (2003, 2005). The substantial increase in three-and-outs, for instance, seems unsustainable.

One interesting statistic – possibly related to the rise in three-and-outs – is that the net punting average is at an all-time high: punts are traveling nearly an extra yard compared with the first half of last season. Combined with all the touchbacks on kickoffs, and the historically low turnover rate, I feel as though I'm watching a lot more drives that start well inside an offense's own half, and that these drives often fail to get going. This does not always make for the most riveting football experience.

78
by runaway robot :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 1:00pm

One more lugubrious Browns factoid: The Steelers' opening day win in Cleveland made Ben Roethlisberger the winningest QB in FirstEnergy Stadium's history. "But doesn't Big Ben play for the Steelers?," you ask. Yes. Yes he does.

80
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 1:07pm

Ok, that's pretty funny.

146
by herewegobrownie... :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 10:40pm

This past Browns-Jets game - frustrating to see CLE have all of those red zone TOs and missed FGs, and nearly double up yardage for nothing - was also McCown's first win at FirstEnergy. :P

His one Browns win was on the road, in a 2015 comeback against the Ravens - the other 3 wins in his 2 years there came with Johnny Football outplaying Mariota vs. Ten in '15, a surprisingly easy win by Johnny against a Niners team that appeared to be surging, and RG3 vs. the Chargers.

98
by Cogitus :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 2:21pm

Zay Jones really is that terrible. Has dropped more passes than other Bills receiver in a season I can remember and it's only been six games. It's definitely not all bad luck as you alluded to---Taylor has been great this year despite the lack of WR talent suited for his talents and that's reflected in the quality catch rate you mentioned in his other targets. Hell, Deonte Thompson just became a 100-yard WR for the Bills and he had only been on the roster a total of two or three weeks, although this probably says more about the Bucs dumpster-fire defense than it does about his ability

99
by theslothook :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 2:25pm

As a colts fan, I'm left scratching my head figuring out if this isn't the worst collection of talent in the NFL. I know they have 2 wins, but both were squeakers at home vs not one but two winless teams. Have to think they lose both those games on neutral fields. If luck were here, they'd probably be 4 and 2, but they'd be a Miami quality 4 and 2. They just have no talent on defense w hooker(a rookie) out. If this isn't the nadir of the colts, it can't be far off.

What's the over under on Pagano being fired by next week?

104
by rj1 :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:01pm

He's gone within a month I'm willing to bet money. I get the Colts games every week and most of them are not easy viewing.

Another example of "was the coach ever any good or was he hiding behind his quarterback the whole time?" because the league made offense one-dimensional behind QB play.

108
by RickD :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:12pm

Pagano isn't a great coach, but the real villain in Indy is still Grigson. It will take time for the Colts to undo the damage he did to the roster.

140
by RobotBoy :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 8:36pm

The narrative in much of the blogosphere has become - 'Luck is overrated. Can't beat good teams', and you can throw in 'always injured.' Sort of turning into the Romo story.

154
by Lebo :: Tue, 10/24/2017 - 10:17am

As I write this, it's 3 pm on Tuesday (London time), and I can't believe that Pagano hasn't been fired already. That was one of the most pathetic displays I've seen from any professional football team.

107
by TomC :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:10pm

As if I could possibly like this site more, Aaron busts out one of the greatest REM deep cuts ever. I own Dead Letter Office but don't listen to it that much (because a collection of B-sides and outtakes is by nature going to be pretty uneven), but Bandwagon is a jangly masterpiece. This is some parade, yessiree Bob!

113
by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:24pm

I missed this during the game, but Alford totally runs out of the way of Gronk's block on Cooks's TD "reception" rather than trying to actually stop the play:

https://twitter.com/UltraHokage/status/922538610540265472

116
by nat :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:37pm

I wondered why Gronk had trouble finding someone to actually block on that play. Now I know. Thanks for the link.

122
by duh :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:47pm

Apparently that was a 'business decision.'

135
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 7:55pm

So much for that “physical Falcons secondary” I kept hearing about in all the pre-game shows.

123
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:50pm

Wow. I somehow missed that during the broadcast too. “Business decision”

126
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 4:28pm

Antione Winfield only made one Pro Bowl, but he was a great cb, and one of the major reasons why was that, at about 180 pounds, he was willing to confront any blocker, tight end, tackle, anybody, evade the block, and drop the ball carrier on the spot. Man, it's fun to watch a guy like that.

130
by TomC :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 6:44pm

The most unexpected and enjoyable aspect of the Bears' defensive play right now is the resurgence of Kyle Fuller, who is listed at 6'0" 190 but looks smaller and who, in addition to playing great in coverage, is an absolute monster against the run (he made two great tackles yesterday, and it was a fairly typical game for him this year). This is a guy who was rumored to be getting cut in training camp after being publicly accused of malingering by his D-coordinator. Vic Fangio is either an idiot (for trying to run his best DB out of town for being legitimately hurt) or a genius (for finding the right buttons to push to make a guy realize his potential). I honestly have no idea which it is.

134
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 7:53pm

Nmamdi Ashoumgha (sp?) may have turned out to be overrated (or simply a bad system fit Philly), but one of the things I really enjoyed about him (on otherwise awful Raiders Teams) is the way he used to play the run. Whenever a tackle or pulling guard would run out to try to block him, Nmamdi would calmly step up, cut him (as if he were the blocker), and then either make the tackle or funnel the runner back inside so one of his teammates would make the play.

137
by theslothook :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 8:19pm

Nnamdis completely busted post Raiders career is one of the most confusing free agent developments I can remember. If it were a scheme change, why didn't he recover after leaving Philly? And I have a hard time believing he was always overrated. I remember a game Carson Palmer boasted pre game that they would go after him. Three ints later...why didn't he just choose the path of least resistance.

149
by herewegobrownie... :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 11:51pm

Curse of Kerry Washington, maybe?

118
by wardh2o :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 3:39pm

The Ingram hit on Siemian didn't break any written rules, but it was just uncool. When the little feeble kid comes out to play football you don't have to let him win, but knocking the shit out of him is not cool. Of course the Broncos should be ashamed for putting a physically over matched QB back there behind an incompetent offensive line. I'd rather watch Osweiler take the beating back there. He at least wouldn't look so pitiful.

127
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 5:04pm

Sad to hear Joe Thomas saying that he isn't sure if he is coming back.

141
by big10freak :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 9:09pm

That is terrible to read.

142
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 9:27pm

Poor guy has never bitched and moaned about the ocean of incompetence he has been lost in, like a 300 pound diamond on the bottom of the Marianas Trench. Now he may be done. I wish to hell the cuurent Browns regime had dumped him last year, in a pure tanking move.

145
by herewegobrownie... :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 10:33pm

I was in favor of trading him in the 2016 offseason - he was starting to decline just a bit the previous year - on the condition that they give Mitchell Schwartz whatever he wanted instead of playing hardball - Alex Mack would also have been nice to keep if no JT, but he was gone regardless.

He is under contract one more season, and it's likely he will give it one more go.

155
by Guest789 :: Tue, 10/24/2017 - 10:48am

When I challenged myself last year by playing the Browns in Madden Franchise and trying to win a Super Bowl in 3 years, my first move was trading Joe Thomas to the Pats. Partially because I was able to get two starters elsewhere out of it and sign a decent replacement LT, but partially because I just felt that he deserved it.

159
by mrt1212 :: Tue, 10/24/2017 - 2:16pm

That is some benevolent role play right there

144
by BJR :: Mon, 10/23/2017 - 10:30pm

And an horrific looking injury for Jason Peters just now. Likely he's played his last snap.