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» Word of Muth: Bears Upset 49ers

The Bears got the win and Kyle Long had the block of his dreams, but Ben Muth found plenty of room for improvement in Chicago's offensive line.

25 Sep 2012

Week 3 Quick Reads

by Vince Verhei

Most teams like to start the game off with a simple running play to pound away at a defense, or a short pass intended to build a quarterback's rhythm and confidence. Either way, the point is often to run a low-risk, low-reward play that will set the stage for second down. But that's not what the Cincinnati Bengals did on their first play yesterday against the Washington Redskins. Instead, they took a rookie wide receiver (Mohamed Sanu, to be specific) and put him at quarterback in a shotgun formation, and then they had him throw the ball as far as he could. It was an aggressive and creative strategy, but they can afford to be aggressive and creative because they have A.J. Green, and A.J. Green can make almost any play work –- as he did with that pass from Sanu, taking it to the house for 73-yard touchdown.

Green managed 1,057 receiving yards as a rookie last year. That's good, but not historic, not even making the top 10 for wideouts in league history. However, he seems to have set the bar even higher this year. He finished the Redskins game with 183 yards and now has 311 yards on the season, more than anyone except Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions. That gives Green a total of 1,368 yards through the third game of his second season. Only four other players have ever gotten off to such a hot start to their career. Green is now on pace for 1,659 yards this year, which would give him a two-year total of 2,716 yards, and that would be better than any player ever save for the incomparable Randy Moss, who gained 2,726 yards in his first two seasons. It's realistic that Green could finish the year ahead of Moss' benchmark, but more likely that he will wind up somewhere in the top five of this particular leaderboard, amid some mighty impressive company.


Most Receiving Yards, first two seasons
Player
Years
Team
Yds
Randy Moss
1998-99
Minnesota Vikings
2,726
Bill Groman
1960-61
Houston Oilers
2,648
Jerry Rice
1985-86
San Francisco 49ers
2,497
Charley Hennigan
1960-61
Houston Oilers
2,468
Torry Holt
1999-00
St. Louis Rams
2,423
Marques Colston
2006-07
New Orleans Saints
2,240
Bob Hayes
1965-66
Dallas Cowboys
2,235
Sterling Sharpe
1988-89
Green Bay Packers
2,214
Gary Clark
1985-86
Washington Redskins
2,189
Larry Fitzgerald
2004-05
Arizona Cardinals
2,189

The advanced stats at Football Outsiders like Green too. Green had 284 DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement, explained here) in his rookie season. Only two receivers have had better rookie seasons since 1991: Moss and Michael Clayton, who caught 80 passes for 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns in his first campaign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2004. Green got off to a slow start by DYAR this season (he caught only 12 of the 23 passes thrown his way in Weeks 1 and 2), but following his stellar game against Washington he now ranks 15th among all receivers this year.

In case anyone out there remains unconvinced about Green's talent and what he's capable of, let's take a look at the ten rookies most similar to Green in our database, a list that inclues Joey Galloway, Marques Colston, Cris Collinsworth, Dwayne Bowe, and Andre Johnson. That's five men with a combined total of 23 1,000-yard seasons – so far.

Of course, Green isn't really doing it all by himself. He's getting plenty of help from Andy Dalton, who is off to a hell of a start to his own career. Dalton was one of seven rookies in AFL/NFL history to throw 20 touchdown passes, and he now has 26 in his brief career. Since the AFL merger in 1970, only three quarterbacks have thrown so many scores at that point in their careers: Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, and Jim Kelly. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better trio of passers. (Cam Newton, who entered the league with Dalton in 2011, also has 26 touchdown passes.)

We can use FO's database to find rookies similar to Dalton, like we did for Green, but that gets a little tricky because nearly all the closest matches come from this century, which somewhat hampers are ability to draw long-term conclusions. For example, Dalton's closest match among rookies is Sam Bradford. Well, what does Bradford's career tell us about Dalton's? That he'll make it to year three?

What we do know is that the Bengals' quarterback and a receiver are each doing things as individuals that have rarely been done before, and there's no reason to think they won't still be setting new benchmarks five years from now. With Pittsburgh and Baltimore aging and Cleveland still being Cleveland, Cincinnati likely has the brightest future in the AFC North.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
36/47
380
3
0
222
219
3
If there was any question left about whether the Steelers were primarily a passing team, this game should have put those to rest. Roethlisberger came out firing from the get-go, going 10-of-16 in the first quarter for 103 yards, with eight first downs including two touchdowns. He was also brilliant in the third quarter (10-of-13 for 126 yards with six first downs, including a touchdown). The Steelers blew a lead in the fourth quarter, but that says more about the Pittsburgh defense than it does about Roethlisberger, who went 4-of-5 for 47 yards with one sack in that frame. Actually, Roethlisberger's butterfingered receivers played a part in the loss too. In one stretch between the third and fourth quarters, Roethlisberger completed 10 passes in a row, but his receivers fumbled three times, losing one. None of that is held against him here.
2.
Joe Flacco BAL
28/39
382
3
1
203
198
5
Pro Football Reference credits Flacco with six fourth-quarter comebacks. None may have been better than what he did Sunday night. The Patriots kicked a field goal to go up 30-21 with about 14 minutes to go. The Ravens' next three drives totaled 208 yards and ended with a failed fourth-down play in New England territory, a touchdown, and a game-winning field goal. In those three possessions, Flacco went 12-of-15 for 161 yards with nine first downs (including the touchdown), plus a 27-yard DPI, with no sacks or interceptions.
3.
Eli Manning NYG
27/35
288
1
0
136
142
-6
When the Giants kicked a field goal in the second quarter to go up 20-0, Manning was 17-of-21 for 176 yards with nine first downs, including a touchdown, and no sacks or interceptions. He was kind of lousy in the fourth quarter (5-of-7 for only 36 yards, plus a sack-fumble), which hurts his numbers here a little bit, but at no point in that frame were the Giants in danger of losing.
4.
Shaun Hill DET
10/12
172
2
0
129
137
-8
Most of Hill's value came on a 46-yard tip-drill Hail Mary touchdown pass to force overtime, but he made plenty of other plays. He finished with four completions for 20 or more yards. The only quarterbacks who had more this week were Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, Ben Roehtlisberger, and the Manning brothers. It's not the first time Hill has played well. In limited action in 2007 with San Francisco, he completed more than 68 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and only one interception. It's too early to say if Matt Stafford will return to the field for next week's game against Minnesota, but if he can't go, there's reason to believe the Lions can win with Hill.
5.
Tom Brady NE
28/41
335
1
0
123
120
2
Three of Brady's first four plays lost yardage. He found his groove in the middle of the game, though, and in one stretch over the second and third quarters he went 13-of-17 for 155 yards with 12 first downs, including a touchdown. It must be said, though, that he played a role in Baltimore's late comeback. In his last seven dropbacks, he went 2-of-6 for 11 yards, plus a sack.
6.
Andy Dalton CIN
19/27
328
3
1
120
112
8
Dalton's day got off to a horrible start, as he hit Redskins linebacker Rob Jackson for a zero-yard interception return for a touchdown. That play was with -62 DYAR for Dalton. It got better from there (well, duh), and he finished on fire. His last 10 dropbacks, each coming with a one-score lead in the second half, resulted in eight completions for 168 yards and six first downs, including two touchdowns.
7.
Matt Stafford DET
33/42
278
1
0
119
113
6
In the first half, Stafford went 14-of-18, but only gained 83 yards and four first downs, and the Lions trailed 20-9 at halftime. The Lions then scored two touchdowns (with one two-point conversion) and a field goal on their first three drives of the second half to take a 27-20 lead. In that stretch, Stafford went 10-of-13 for 119 yards with seven first downs, including one touchdown. The Titans returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, and then all hell broke loose. One of those hellacious plays was a Brandon Pettigrew fumble that the Titans recovered for a touchdown. Stafford injured a muscle in his leg on that play and did not return, meaning he had a great seat for the insanity that followed.
8.
Christian Ponder MIN
21/35
198
2
0
116
95
21
Ponder had a good day on third downs against San Francisco, going 6-of-10 for 58 yards and six successful conversions (including a touchdown). He also threw a touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
9.
Jake Locker TEN
29/42
379
2
0
111
107
4
Locker's two touchdown passes covered 132 yards. However, inside the red zone he went 2-of-5 for 8 yards and no first downs. Clearly, when Tennessee crosses the 20, they need to commit bushels of false start penalties to get back into Locker's comfort range.
10.
Carson Palmer OAK
24/34
209
3
1
109
108
1
Palmer's first pass was intercepted, and he finished the first half 6-of-10 for 37 yards with only three first downs (including a touchdown) plus one sack. After the break, he went 18-of-24 for 172 yards with 12 first downs (including two more touchdowns), plus a 21-yard DPI. The anti-Locker, Palmer went 7-of-8 in the red zone for 34 yards, with three touchdowns and one other first down.
11.
Kevin Kolb ARI
17/24
222
2
0
95
93
1
On first downs, the Cardinals had 20 runs (including one Kolb scramble) and only five passes. After halftime the split was 10-to-1. Obviously they spent the entire second half protecting a big lead, but that's still some comically predictable. Kolb complete all seven of his third-down passes for 78 yards, but only gained four first downs (including a touchdown) and was also sacked twice.
12.
Andrew Luck IND
22/44
313
2
1
93
66
26
Luck struggled on second downs (8-of-16 for 67 yards, three first downs, including one touchdown), but cleaned up on third downs (8-of-13 for 95 yards and six first downs, plus a 12-yard DPI). However, Luck had problems when the Colts moved into scoring range. Inside the Jacksonville 40, he went 4-of-8 for only 36 yards and three first downs (including a touchdown, to be fair).
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Matt Ryan ATL
30/40
275
3
1
86
89
-2
Surprised to see Ryan so low? If we eliminate fourth quarters and overtimes for all quarterbacks this week, Ryan had 144 DYAR, second only to Ben Roethlisberger. He only threw two passes in the fourth quarter, but the last of them was a red zone interception. That one play knocked Ryan about 10 spots down the rankings, but seeing as it came with Atlanta up 17 with about 13 minutes to go, it's hard to say it hurt the Falcons too badly.
14.
Peyton Manning DEN
26/51
330
2
0
77
77
0
Manning has 36 fourth-quarter comebacks in his career, tied with Dan Marino for the most in league history. Now he is in Denver, which is apparently an enchanted city that bestow magical comeback powers to its quarterbacks (John Elway has 35 fourth-quarter comebacks, and you'll recall that Tim Tebow did well in this category last year). So it's only natural that Manning now plays his best football in the fourth quarters, though lately the early deficits have been too great to overcome. Manning went 9-of-16 for 120 yards in the fourth quarter, with one sack and one DPI. That's 7.8 yards per play, which isn't great, but it's a far sight better than the 5.5 yards he averaged in the first three quarters. For the season, Manning is averaging 6.2 yards per play in the first three quarters, but 7.3 yards in the fourth. Three of his five touchdown passes this year have come in the fourth quarter.
15.
Matt Schaub HOU
17/30
290
4
1
72
72
0
When Schaub hit Kevin Walter with a 52-yard touchdown pass to put Houston up 21-5 in the second quarter, he was 8-of-10 for 177 yards with three touchdowns and one sack (for a safety). After that he went just 9-of-20 for 113 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
16.
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF
22/35
208
3
0
56
57
-1
Fitzpatrick threw touchdown passes on each of Buffalo's first two drives, but on the next six drives (not including an end-of-half kneeldown) he went 11-of-22 for just 80 yards, with one sack and one DPI. That gave Cleveland a chance to climb back into the game. On the next drive, he went 5-of-6 for 36 yards, throwing a touchdown to secure Buffalo's lead, and then he didn't pass again.
17.
Russell Wilson SEA
10/21
130
2
0
21
19
2
Don't blame me, I just write here.
18.
Drew Brees NO
20/36
240
3
1
-1
-1
0
As mentioned in Audibles, Brees didn't move the ball much after halftime. He threw two touchdowns in the third quarter on drives that started inside the Kansas CIty 20, but all told he went 7-of-17 for 70 yards with after halftime. His last pass of the third quarter was intercepted, and after that he went 0-for-6 with two sacks, one for a safety.
19.
Robert Griffin WAS
21/33
221
1
0
-7
-46
40
Officially, Griffin was sacked six times by Cincinnati, all on first or second down, two of them leading to fumbles. Unofficially, the Redskins were running a lot of option plays (Griffin had 11 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown), and I suspect that when the NFL reviews this game they will change some of those sacks to runs. Just because Griffin was not sacked on third down, by the way, does not mean he played well in that scenario, going 3-of-8 for 32 yards and only one first down. Griffin averaged 11.3 yards per carry on four runs marked as scrambles and 5.7 yards on his other seven runs.
20.
Blaine Gabbert JAC
10/21
155
1
0
-14
-19
5
Gabbert has not thrown an interception this year, and he still ranks just 18th in the NFL's passer rating formula. That ball security means he has probably not been the worst passer in the league this year, but it's safe to say that nobody else goes through long stretches of futility like Gabbert does. His first 15 dropbacks last week produced zero first downs. This week, his first pass was an 8-yard gain on third-and-5, but his next 15 dropbacks produced zero first downs. He got three first downs in his next seven dropbacks (two of them on DPI calls), and then he hit Cecil Shorts III for an 80-yard game-winning score.
21.
Ryan Tannehill MIA
16/36
196
0
1
-18
-10
-8
Tannehill had even more dramatic second- and third-down splits than Andrew Luck. On second down, he went 3-of-12 for 10 yards with no first downs and a pick-six. On third downs, he went 7-of-11 for 103 yards, plus a 19-yard DPI, for seven first downs.
22.
Jay Cutler CHI
17/31
183
0
1
-23
-32
10
The Bears just need to give up on passing in the first quarter. Against St. Louis, Cutler went 4-of-11 for 38 yards and only one first down, with one sack and one interception. On the season, Cutler is 8-of-26 in the first quarter for 57 yards, with three DPIs, five total first downs, two interceptions, and four sacks. That all adds up to -221 DYAR. No other quarterback is even at -100.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Alex Smith SF
24/35
204
1
1
-29
-37
8
Including DPI penalties, Smith ranks 18th in the league in completed passes, but 23rd in plays of 10 yards or more. He had six 10-yard plays against Minnesota, but only two in the first half. Three of those 10-yard plays came on San Francisco's only touchdown drive, which shows just how hard it is to put together scoring drives one dumpoff at a time.
24.
Matt Cassel KC
26/43
248
0
1
-34
-36
2
One of the lamer fourth-quarter comebacks you'll ever see. (EDITOR'S NOTE: This was written before the Monday night game. If only I had known...) The Chiefs fell behind 24-6 after a Cassel interception set New Orleans up at the Kansas City 7-yard line. After that, Cassel went 12-of-22 for 102 yards, plus one DPI and one sack, and only eight first downs. He didn't throw a touchdown all day despite six dropbacks in the red zone (two of them sacks). But he gets credit for the comeback because his defense dominated, and his running back exploded (as we shall discuss shortly).
25.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
21/45
306
1
2
-36
-36
-1
The Jets couldn't run and were behind most of the game, and they gave Sanchez plenty of opportunities to produce on first downs. He went 6-of-15 for 54 yards with only two first downs.
26.
Aaron Rodgers GB
26/39
223
0
0
-52
-62
10
Eight sacks in the first half, none in the second half.
27.
Tony Romo DAL
25/39
283
0
1
-69
-75
6
No touchdowns on the day, and here's why: In the red zone, he went 3-of-6 for 2 yards, with two sacks and a lost fumble. That's eight dropbacks inside the 20, and his best play was a 3-yard gain on first-and-10 at the 12.
28.
Brandon Weeden CLE
27/43
241
1
2
-97
-97
0
Weeden was playing from behind all day, and did a competent job, throwing a 22-yard touchdown pass to Travis Benjamin in the third quarter to make it 17-14 Buffalo. From that point forward, though, he went 8-of-12 for only 46 yards, with two interceptions and two sacks.
29.
Cam Newton CAR
16/30
242
0
3
-99
-84
-15
In his rookie season, Newton averaged 44.1 rushing yards per game, and gained at least 18 yards every week. This year, he's been held to single digits twice in three games. And it's not because his pocket presence has improved, as his sack rate is slightly higher in 2012 than it was in 2011. Newton had 6 yards in six carries against the Giants, though he did convert a pair of third downs. As a passer, Newton made quite a few good plays (four gains of at least 20 yards, 15 first downs), but not enough to offset three interceptions and two sacks. Inside the Giants' 40, he went 5-of-10 for 44 yards with one sack and a red zone interception.
30.
Michael Vick PHI
18/37
217
0
0
-101
-87
-14
It's hard to rank this low with only one turnover (although it was a really big turnover). Vick was sacked five times on the day, though, and inside the Arizona 40 he went 2-of-7 for 31 yards and only one first down, plus a 20-yard intentional grounding penalty and three sacks, one of them the sack-fumble-touchdown return that essentially ended the game at the end of the first half. That's 11 dropbacks and for a net loss of 10 yards.
31.
Philip Rivers SD
21/38
179
0
2
-125
-123
-1
The Chargers came out for the second half down 20-0, a big hole to climb out of, but at least a chance to make some plays against a defense that was sure to play conservatively. Rivers proceeded to go 13-of-24 for 92 yards with an interception.
32.
Josh Freeman TB
11/28
110
1
1
-138
-140
2
Not hard to find some ugly splits here, but we'll take his third-down splits: 3-of-10 for 21 yards with an interception and a sack fumble. His only conversion was an 11-yard gain on third-and-7 from his own 22 in the third quarter.
33.
Sam Bradford STL
18/34
152
0
2
-195
-206
11
Apparently the Bears learned a lesson from their loss to the Packers: It's hard to score points when your quarterback is on the ground most of the game. Bradford gave up as many sacks (six) as he gained first downs, and also threw a pair of interceptions. He didn't pick up a first down until the two-minute warning of the first half, and by that point he had already been sacked three times. He did not throw a single pass inside the red zone, and in the front zone (the area between Chicago's 20 and 40), he went 1-of-5 for 1 (one) yard.


Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Jamaal Charles KC
233
1
55
0
68
58
10
I predict this will be the least controversial Quick Reads leader all year. Obviously, Charles' runs for 40 and 91 yards in the third quarter helped, but take those away and he's still one of the top ten running backs this week. His success rate was 42 percent (league average for all runners this year: 47 percent), so it's not like it was a complete boom-or-bust day. His two big runs in the third obviously got the Saints' attention. His first run of the fourth quarter gained 14 yards, and after that he averaged 1.3 yards on 15 carries, with six runs for no gain or a loss. Charles was also the target on eight passes, catching six of them for 55 yards and conversions on third-and-8 and third-and-12.
2.
Ray Rice BAL
101
1
49
0
59
41
19
The model of consistency. Rice's longest run gained only 15 yards, but each of his 18 carries gained at least 1 yard. Twelve gained 4 yards or more, and five gained first downs (including one touchdown). The Ravens also threw him six passes. Five were caught for 49 yards and a pair of first downs. The sixth was a 2-yard DPI.
3.
Mikel LeShoure DET
100
1
34
0
43
32
12
A second-round pick in 2011, Leshoure tore his Achilles tendon in training camp and sat out the entire season. He also sat out the first two games of 2012 under suspension after testing positive for marijuana. His 26-carry, 100-yard game against Tennessee was his NFL debut, the Lions' first 100-yard rushing day of the season, and only their sixth since 2009. It appears he'll be the man in Detroit's backfield for the long term. He only averaged 3.8 yards per run, but his success rate was 58 percent, and he picked up eight first downs (including a touchdown). He also caught each of the four passes thrown his way for 34 yards and two more first downs.
4.
Maurice Jones-Drew JAC
177
1
16
0
43
39
4
Jones-Drew would have finished just below Charles if he hadn't fumbled in the fourth quarter. He still had 15 runs for 4 yards or more, including a 59-yard touchdown, and eight total first downs. Jones-Drew had 11 carries for 116 yards between the Jacksonville 40 and the Indianapolis 20. Each of those runs gained at least 3 yards, and the median gain was 6 yards. He also caught both of the passes thrown his way for 16 yards.
5.
Andre Brown NYG
113
2
17
0
40
49
-10
Brown had five targets: two incompletions, one catch for negative yards, a 14-yard gain on third-and-16, and his only successful play, a 5-yard gain second-and-6. He was much more productive as a runner, thanks largely to a pair of touchdowns on third-and-goal from the 1. He has seven runs for 5 yards or more and three of 10 or more, capped off by a 31-yarder, and seven total first downs (including the two scores) on the ground.


Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Toby Gerhart MIN
18
0
20
0
-55
-59
3
I am writing this just after the Monday night game ended, so you'll pardon me if I don't go into detail concerning the 49ers' replay challenges and whether they should have been allowed to happen. I just don’t have the stomach to discuss refs anymore. I will just say that officially, Gerhart carried the ball eight times, all in the fourth quarter, with 18 yards and three fumbles (two lost).


Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Calvin Johnson DET
10
12
164
16.4
1
83
In the first half, Johnson had caught one pass in two targets for 6 yards. Using the brilliant and creative halftime adjustment of "throw the ball to Megatron," Detroit fared much better in the second half. His last six targets resulted in six catches for six first downs (including the touchdown) and 103 yards.
2.
A.J. Green CIN
9
11
183
20.3
1
76
Including the touchdown, Green had six first downs, but oddly was not target on third down one time all game.
3.
Torrey Smith BAL
6
10
127
21.2
2
56
There will be other times to discuss Smith's home-run ability and what it means for the Ravens offense. It's more important right now to send prayers and thoughts to his family as they deal with their tragic loss.
4.
Ramses Barden NYG
9
10
138
15.3
0
52
Barden played his college ball at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and he put up such ridiculous numbers there (1,257 yards and 18 touchdowns for a team that threw only 210 passes in 2008) that we had to make special accommodations for him in our Playmaker projection system for rookie wide receivers. Barden was a big fish (and at 6-foot-6, he is big) in a small pond there, but he found himself swimming with sharks in the NFL, and never gained more than 38 yards in a game in his first three NFL seasons. Pressed into a starter's role against Carolina, though, Barden delivered.
5.
Eric Decker DEN
7
10
123
17.6
0
51
Not included in those numbers: a 26-yard DPI, one of six first downs Decker produced on the day. Including that play, Decker had four gains of 20 or more yards.


Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Kendall Wright TEN
7
11
42
6.0
0
-57
Seven catches in 11 targets doesn't seem like a bad rate, even if he averaged only 6.0 yards per reception. On the other hand, three of those catches qualified as failed receptions (including a 5-yard gain on third-and-10), and he also fumbled a ball away following an 8-yard gain.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 25 Sep 2012

46 comments, Last at 27 Sep 2012, 10:13am by Mr Shush

Comments

1
by Ryan D. :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 9:48am

So, how about that Green Bay-Seattle ending?

I'm a little surprised we didn't get a mini-Audibles about it. Was anyone still awake for the ending?

2
by ebongreen :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 10:10am

That would be a "yes", but I don't want to hijack this thread with that topic.

6
by coboney :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 10:41am

From Vince's comments there he made a conscious decision not to turn tis into a discussion about the refs. Which I do applaud as thats not what Quick Reads is for and well I can only imagine ow Vince was thinking at te end of that game if he had to discuss all the reffing after. All of it. The free timeouts, the phantom calls, the """Catch""" (and I'm definetely not a packers fan) and so forth.

Thanks Vince for staying on topic but I do have to agree with Ryan that I hope FO does a spot talking about it some.

18
by Ryan D. :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 11:58am

I should add that I was only asking if FO was planning on running any material about it, or sharing their discussions about it (like in Audibles). I was not trying to turn this thread into a debate about the call itself.

24
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 12:56pm

I just posted an XP on the official NFL statement on REFPOCALYPSE. You can also discuss it in the Week 3 Open Thread linked on the front page. Don't discuss it here.

26
by jds :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:06pm

Vince, nice getting that comment in on Wilson's line before the internet blows up.

3
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 10:26am

If the Vikings passing game continues to be in the top third among all teams, or even the top half, they are going to have an interesting season after all. We'll know significantly more about them, and the NFC North, after they play in Detroit.

11
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 11:31am

The Vikings and Lions had two very crazy games last year. The first game the Vikings opened up a 20-0 lead in the first half only to have the Lions chew up the Vikings in the second half and win eventually in OT 26-23.

In the second game they threw Ponder in after no practice during the week and he was really bad throwing 3 ints and giving up a sack fumble TD leading to a 31-14 Det lead. Then the Joe Webb show happened and the Vikings fought all the way back and almost won it. Game ended on a Joe Webb fumble in the red zone on a play that should have been a penalty on the Lions.

I think in some ways those two games and a few other close loses provided a clue that the Vikings really weren't all that awful last year. I suspect they will show up pretty well in the VOA rankings again this week. Last week I was sure it was just a fluke - now I'm cautiously optimistic that they are a decent team and maybe even a team that could sneak into the playoffs.

15
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 11:56am

The Vikings last year had some of the worst play in the defensive backfield ever witnessed. A lot of those guys are gone, and so far, the play has been significantly better, albeit still below average.

The wide receiver play was awful whenever Harvin wasn't on the field, and Harvin missed a lot of snaps last year. So far Harvin has been fully available this year, and their talent level will increase this weekend with Simpson, and the other receivers have been better too. Their 2nd year tight end has come into his own as well.

The Vikings pass blocking last year was awful, with a guy who should be a guard starting at left tackle, a right guard who was finished, and a unit overall which had been poorly coached for years not getting any offseason work with their new coach, due to the lockout. Now, they have a talented rookie at left tackle who is a significant upgrade, a right guard who is young and nasty, and are obviously benefitting from a year's worth of better coaching.

Finally, the Vikings started with a qb last year who was finished, and then moved to a guy who was starting games about 70 days after opening an NFL playbook for the first time, behind awful pass blocking, generally poor receiving, who had to keep up with his teammates' bad pass defense.

Projecting how new players will play, and how much young players will improve, especially young players who had no rookie year off season work, due to labor problems, is pretty much a wild guess, which is why I projected the Vikings at 3-5 wins. I'll be happy to be wrong.

4
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 10:30am

I didn't watch the Bears-Rams, but I have a hard time imagining somebody playing worse than Josh Freeman did on Sunday.

14
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 11:52am

Well I didn't watch the Bucs, but Bradford did not play as bad as his stats show. His receivers did him no favors, including several drops on difficult but catchable passes. Also, the Bears defensive line was living in the backfield.

36
by Mr Shush :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:07pm

Look at who was playing tackle for the Rams. Bradford has spent his entire career with completely inadequate pass protection and receiving options. It's possible to get away with one or the other, but not both.

41
by J. Oliver (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 8:57pm

Sounds like David Carr, for the most part.

42
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 9:39pm

Or Jay Cutler in Chicago, Alex Smith or any number of quarterbacks who were badly let down by their front office.

44
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 7:38am

I'm not saying other players haven't had it bad, but I'm really not sure I've ever seen supporting talent as appalling as what Bradford's had to put up with. I mean, really, this is a team that traded for Wayne Hunter and is now starting him at left tackle. And he's had to cope with a terrible defense at the same time, meaning lots of obvious passing situations.

I still think the guy's capable of being very, very good (he certainly looked it against the Redskins) but his team is trying really hard to break him. If you're going to draft a QB first overall, for heaven's sake make sure you put the pieces in place to make it possible for him to succeed before you start worrying about the defense.

45
by Dean :: Thu, 09/27/2012 - 9:04am

Thats a little bit disingenuous. Rodger Saffold is the starter, but he's injured. It's not like someone in the Rams front office looked at Wayne Hunter and thought, "oh boy, we gotta get that guy!"

46
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 09/27/2012 - 10:13am

Ok, so they acquired him to be the swing tackle, took a look at him in practice and thought, "Yup, that's definitely the best option we have there, and we're comfortable with starting him at left tackle if a guy who only managed 9 games last year should by any chance miss any time."

43
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 7:32am

Carr had Andre Johnson from his second year onwards, and the Texans offensive line was never as bad as Wayne Hunter and co.

5
by David S (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 10:33am

Where does Stephen Hill's 0-7 receiving performance put him in the Lease valuable WR discussion?

7
by coboney :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 10:42am

Well given he was drafted for a 1st round pick - but he's still a rookie and you'd be providing training you could probably lease him for like a 4th round pick or such.

20
by Biebs :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 12:17pm

Maybe I'm not understanding, but Hill was a 2nd round pick.

10
by Travis :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 11:29am

The ESPN Insider version of Quick Reads shows Hill as the 2nd least valuable WR of the week with -51 DYAR.

8
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 10:47am

So if my math is right, NFC North starting QB's are now ranked by DYAR thusly.

Ponder: 248 passing, 14 rushing
Stafford: 139 passing, 6 rushing
Rodgers: -51 passing, 19 rushing
Cutler: -183 passing, 10 rushing

Simple addition of the Week 2 totals plus this quick reads. I don't think anyone would have predicted that order in the preseason. Though if the D's that GB has faced end up as good as they look like they might (5, 8, and 18 by VOA through week 2 and I still think SF will end up better than 18) Rodgers should benefit from opponent adjustments a fair bit and Ponder will adjust down a bit, but it's still not what I expected. I also think I may need to check the last time Rodgers has had back to back negative passing DYAR before. He didn't in 2010 or 2011. He may have in 09 with the MIN and TB games.

12
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 11:37am

Rodgers was 26/42 for 287, 3 TD and 0 ints in that Vikings at GB game in 2009 with 5 rushes for 52 yards...he was actually pretty amazing despite the sacks.

17
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 11:58am

Yeah, he was, he had a 127 passing DYAR. I was just doing a quick look at scores and results and saw the back to back losses and had forgotten the details of the game.

However I was close with my guess (the 09 quick reads were easy to parse from here so I've got the Rodgers data easily accessible for all but 08 now). He had back to back negative games in 09 but it was the Tampa Bay (-70) and then Dallas (-17) games, so I was a week off I though weeks 8-9 but it was weeks 9-10.

I know Quick Reads was ESPN only prior to 09, but trying to dig up the data on that site is next to impossible, so there are probably some back to backs in 08 as well. I also don't have a quick way to check for other QB's either, as it's likely Brady, Brees, and Manning at least were similar in that they rarely had two below replacement level performances in a row over a number of years.

21
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 12:20pm

Brees definitely did in 2007, when the Saints started 0-4. He had 1 TD and 9 picks in those first four games.

Not sure about Brady. Can't think of two bad games in a row. I'm pretty sure he got a positive DYAR in most of his 2009 losses. Maybe @NO and @MIA??

For Peyton, I think he ended up with a positive DYAR in the 2010 loss to the Cowboys, so he wouldn't have it there. The one that I can think of is early in 2008 when he was still recovering from Bursa Sac surgery. My guess is he had a negative DYAR in Week 1 against the Bears, and then definitely in the sixth game against the Packers. Maybe also the Rosenchopper game in Week 4 as well as the MNF loss to the Titans.

9
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 10:53am

Also not included for Decker was the 35 yard pass he caught on the play that was rightfully called back for holding. That was the best throw I've seen Manning make all year long.

BTW, I think this season really defines why Manning and Brady are a cut above in terms of their all-time place of the rest of the contemporaries. Brees and Rodgers have been just mediocre this year so far (especially Rodgers). Manning and Brady are just consistent each and every year. Sure, it has been three games, and their numbers will go up over the year (especially Rodgers who has played three really good defenses), but it is glaring to see Rodgers with his second straight negative DYAR game.

13
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 11:45am

Manning and Brady have been pretty mediocre this year. But maybe we're giving them a break now because of age?

16
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 11:57am

I'm giving Manning a break because of the injury for this year, but this is more about when they were in their primes (Brady's age curve has been odd and he still is), they were incredibly consistent.

Both Brees and Rodgers are still in their primes (especially Rodgers) and neither have looked too good this year. For Rodgers, I'm not sure what coverage teams are using, but he's continually being forced to check-down and gets nothing deep. Brees just looks off.

27
by Paddy Pat :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:07pm

Brady is adjusting to a new offensive line. He doesn't look as bad as he did in early 2009. Give him time.

23
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 12:55pm

Tom Brady is second in the league in YAR behind Matt Ryan. He's been fine.

19
by mental :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 12:11pm

Surprised LaRod Stephens-Howling didn't warrant a mention:

1-10-ARI35 (13:15) L.Stephens-Howling left tackle to ARZ 30 for -5 yards (D.Ryans).
2-7-ARI23 (4:36) (Shotgun) L.Stephens-Howling up the middle to ARZ 19 for -4 yards (D.Tapp; M.Kendricks).
1-10-ARI39 (9:10) L.Stephens-Howling up the middle to ARZ 37 for -2 yards (B.Graham).
1-10-PHI11 (4:58) L.Stephens-Howling left tackle to PHI 6 for 5 yards (D.Tapp).
2-5-PHI6 (4:12) (Shotgun) L.Stephens-Howling right end to PHI 8 for -2 yards (J.Babin).
3-7-PHI8 (4:03) L.Stephens-Howling up the middle to PHI 9 for -1 yards (T.Cole, F.Cox).
1-10-PHI16 (2:07) L.Stephens-Howling up the middle to PHI 18 for -2 yards (B.Graham).
2-12-PHI18 (2:00) L.Stephens-Howling up the middle to PHI 21 for -3 yards (B.Graham).

22
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 12:43pm

Rodgers numbers are poor because the playcalling is terrible, the receivers have dropped some balls the offensive line has gotten schooled 3 straight weeks in protection and Rodgers has had some poor passes.

McCarthy needs to accept that teams have schemed for GB and until he is willing to move the ball down the field in a methodical fashion like in the second half of last night defenses are not going to change. Otherwise it will be safeties deep and teams daring GB to run the ball and dump off passes

25
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:00pm

Rodgers is great. Period. For a guy to have the 2nd half he did, after taking the stomping he took in the first half, was remarkable.

The rest of the offense? Not so much, especially when the highly lauded receiver corps is dropping passes. I'd also like to see what Rodgers could do with a running game that wasn't laughable.

28
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:13pm

I think McCarthy is going all underwear gnome with his plan for success on offense:

--Rodgers awesome
--(blank)
--40 points!!!!

29
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:16pm

Rodgers second half performance was good considering the first half. SOme of those were coverage sacks though, and plays where Rodgers could've thrown it away sooner.

That said, your second point is interesting. I think every top QB has been able to have great success with bad run games. Both Mannings have done it. Brady did it once in 2005. Ben's done it (2008, 09). Rivers has done it (2009). Rodgers has done it. The only one who really hasn't is Brees. The three years he got little support from the run game (including this year) have been underwhelming from Brees. 47 picks in 35 games in 2007, 2010 and 2012. All three years the Saints had average run games.

30
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:20pm

Oh, it can be done, in the current rules environment. I know I'm a hopless old fogey, but I still think running effectively is valuable, ironically, especially when facing a good pass rushing team.

31
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:22pm

Rodgers is coached to look for the big play. Note that in the second half he gunned a ball to Finley when he could have run for a first down.

McCarthy needs to understand that his engine isn't responding right now and slamming on the accelerator is just spinning the tachometer

32
by Steve in WI :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:34pm

No disagreement that Rodgers is a great QB. That said, I believe he did not get sacked in the 2nd half. I'm not sure what adjustments GB made or how much of that was due to Rodgers getting rid of the ball quicker, but obviously that had to help.

I also seem to recall a lot of successful runs in the 2nd half, certainly enough that I would not have called their running game "laughable" last night. Given that they ran the ball only a handful of times in the 1st half, I think overall they looked good.

35
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:58pm

Yeah, Benson had 2 carries for 4 yards in the first half. But I agree with you. To illustrate a bit more clearly I'll list Benson's runs.

In the second half his runs were.
6, 8, 6, 9, 3, 3, -1, 5, 2, 4, 7, 0, -3, 1 (TD), -5, 0
I may have miscounted but I think the running game got 4 first downs or TD's in there.

That's relatively successful. The loss and no gain when they were pinned back on the 7, were quite bad, and GB tends to be bad in those situations, I agree, but there was a run game for the 3rd and part of the 4th quarter, and well GB scored 12 points thanks to it. If they had adopted that play calling earlier perhaps they would have made it into the 20's for the game.

33
by BroncFan07 :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:48pm

Did Decker get any negative DYAR for that ridiculous QB slide he did near midfield in the 3rd quarter when it looked like he had a lot more room to run after the catch?

34
by rageon :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:53pm

I can only assume he thought there was a lot less time on the clock than there actually was, and he was trying to make sure they could run another play in time. But yeah, that was just odd.

39
by tunesmith :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 6:07pm

To me, it looked like Decker was about to be smeared.

40
by Mr Shush :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 8:51pm

Me too: from memory he could have gained an extra 3 yards or so in exchange for being wiped out and conceivably fumbling.

37
by dan harmon (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 3:43pm

Regardless of whether the refs screwed Gerhart on one or both of those lost fumbles, shouldn't putting it on the ground 38% of your carries scream "don't give it to this guy?" I get that if you think you're down and relax a little at the end of a play. But it wasn't that obvious in either spot. Hold onto the damn ball.

38
by Brendan Scolari :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:04pm

Is the league rushing success rate going up? I seem to remember it being lower (approx 42%) but I may be misremembering.