Audibles at the Line
Unfiltered in-game observations by Football Outsiders staff

Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Audibles at the Line: Week 4
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

compiled by Rivers McCown

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to 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 e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a 49ers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching, just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.

Thursday, September 27

Cleveland Browns 16 at Baltimore Ravens 23

Peter Koski: So, Joe Flacco is still Joe Flacco, eh?

Vince Verhei: Brandon Weeden, unpressured, just underthrew an open receiver on a 5-yard hitch.

Aaron Schatz: Kid, if you can't hit that pass at age 28, when are you planning on learning?

Vince Verhei: I was so intrigued I looked this up. There were 63 unpressured underthrows on passes 4-to-6 yards downfield last year. So about two per team. Two players tied for the league lead with six: Blaine Gabbert and, no kidding, Tom Brady. Nobody else had more than three.

Tom Gower: Jake Locker did it on consecutive plays over the middle in Week 2, throwing first at Kenny Britt's feet and then one-hopping a ball to Chris Johnson.

Peter Koski: [Disclaimer: Ray Rice fantasy owner] I don't understand Baltimore's offensive game plan so far. It seems to be a, "Look, we can pass! Flacco has arrived!" gameplan. On a short week, when you have a good running offense you can lean on, I was thinking they'd soften up the defense in the first half with mainly run. Even Baltimore's first half two-minute drill seemed to be forcing things.

Rivers McCown: Baltimore was not getting anything to Dennis Pitta ... actually, the Browns came into the game with the fourth-lowest DVOA allowed to tight ends. I wouldn't have guessed that with all the injuries they have had at linebacker. Maybe a "T.J. Ward is healthy" thing?

Sunday, September 30

New England Patriots 52 at Buffalo Bills 28

Andy Benoit: The Patriots were extremely efficient on their first opening drive touchdown of the season. Long pass to Rob Gronkowski was the big blow -- Tom Brady had plenty of time and space to step up and throw. 7 plays, 90 yards.

Aaron Schatz: Yes, very little pass rush from the vaunted Buffalo front four. I'll be watching that more this game. I noticed that Mario Williams plays more on the left (offensive right) which surprises me a little bit. Also, that drive was a good example of one of the good things about Stevan Ridley: He always seems to stumble forward for an extra yard or two at the end of every play. That really does add up.

Andy Benoit: Ryan Fitzpatrick's second interception was a pure underthrow. T.J. Graham had beaten Devin McCourty on the fly route, and the route was far enough outside the numbers that safety help over the top was not going to be relevant. But Fitzpatrick short-armed it; mechanics are still a bit of an issue for him at times.

Aaron Schatz: It's interesting, the Bills have done a good job of keeping the Pats offense down; they've had just 19 yards with no points after two Bills turnovers. But Mario Williams is doing nothing. Sebastian Vollmer has him totally contained. Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus are having a much bigger impact.

Rivers McCown: Mario had a reputation for disappearing for a couple games at a time in Houston. I'm not really surprised that he's having a quiet start. Especially given that cast he's wearing ... he is always playing dinged up.

Andy Benoit: Scott Chandler made a great mid-air adjustment on a touchdown catch over the well-played face-guarding of Patrick Chung. Chung played only the receiver, and didn’t see the ball.

Aaron Schatz: Here's that play in a nutshell: Chung is 5-foot-11, Chandler is 6-foot-7. That concludes "play in a nutshell."

Andy Benoit: What's up with Stephen Gostowski? It's weird seeing the Patriots have kicking issues. Bill Belichick looks befuddled.

Aaron Schatz: I was shocked when they called timeout and brought out the kicker. Fourth down with a foot-and-a-half to go on the 25? Go for it, kiddies.

Andy Benoit: At the 4:10 mark in the second quarter, Fred Jackson made a phenomenal over-the-shoulder catch near the sideline over great man coverage by Jerod Mayo. Jackson has flashed wide receiver like talent before.

Jackson is running with decent fluidity and good solidity (fluid movement, solid in balance and body position) in his first game back from a leg injury. He has three catches for 50 yards through 34 minutes.

Chandler's second touchdown was another very good adjustment on the ball. Chandler is a tall hands catcher. Linebacker Brandon Spikes is great downhill, but he doesn’t have the speed to run vertically with a target like that. He didn't think to run with him initially, anyway.

Aaron Schatz: Pats defenders always seem to be playing the man, not the ball.

Vince Verhei: Actually, there were times last season I don't think they were playing the man OR the ball.

Aaron Schatz: From the replay, it didn't even look like Spikes was trying to run vertically with him. It looked like that should have been on the safeties, and they were just both too late to get to the middle of the field.

I think I may have mentioned this last week, but I swear that Brady used to throw the ball away under pressure, didn't he? It seems like he just gives up and goes down in a clump these days instead of trying to get rid of it to save yardage.

The Patriots just failed on third down again on their first drive of the second half. Third-down conversions on offense just awful today. I think they are something like 1-for-6.

Also, it may not have been Mario Williams disappearing. It may have been Vollmer playing well, because on the second-and-8 where Gronkowski almost catches a long touchdown, the Bills ran a stunt and Williams pushed Ryan Wendell back like ten feet on skates.

Andy Benoit: The Bills are having tons of success throwing inside the numbers, splitting New England’s two deep safeties. Donald Jones' catch-and-run touchdown was a great illustration of that.

The key with Bills offense is Fitzpatrick having room to plant, windup, and launch. He’s been very good today with a clean pocket this game.

Aaron Schatz: The Patriots just scored, finally, to make it 21-14. Almost the entire drive was runs. Huge holes. One remarkable thing about this game is the way the Pats have completely shut down the Bills' run -- remember, C.J. Spiller is currently leading the league in rushing DYAR by leaps and bounds -- while themselves running wild on the Bills. Yet they can't seem to complete passes on third down, until, finally, the touchdown to make it 21-14.

Gronkowski is clearly off today as a receiver, he dropped another possible TD pass on that drive, but at least when he's off as a receiver he's still a bad mofo as a run blocker.

Andy Benoit: The Patriots have generated minimal pressure with a four-man rush. Chandler Jones has been very quiet for most of the game working against Cordy Glenn. (Right as I type this, Rob Ninkovich turned the corner for a forced fumble and sack around Erik Pears. Also, Cordy Glenn got his knee rolled up on the play. Maybe the next sentence I'll type will be "Andy Benoit has not won the lottery lately.")

Aaron Schatz: The Bills have had two offensive linemen go out with injuries. The one good thing about the insane constant churning of their offensive line the last year or two is that all the backup linemen have regular-season experience.

Andy Benoit: Bills corners Stephon Gilmore and Aaron Williams did a very good job on Brandon Lloyd. The reason: both are pretty well-sized and long, which is a formula for beating a guy like Lloyd who lacks speed and quickness, but relies on acrobatics and positioning with the ball in the air.

Aaron Schatz: Well, the second half was certainly different.

I warned everybody before the season about trusting rookie cornerbacks, but I have to say, I'm very impressed with Gilmore's play today, at least what I've been able to see on TV angles.

This just came over Twitter from the Patriots official Twitter feed: This is the first time the Patriots have had two 100-yard rushers in the same game since December 19, 1982 against Seattle. Thirty years. Wow.

OK, I just put this on Twitter, but I'll put it out to all of you. What comes after a law firm? We need a nickname for Brandon Bolden, the Pats' latest Ole Miss UDFA find.

Rivers McCown: If they're using him as a change of pace back, my vote is for "Countersuit."

Aaron Schatz: The current Twitter leaders seem to be "Judicial Review" and "The Prosecutor."

Seattle Seahawks 13 at St. Louis Rams 19

Andy Benoit: Seattle's white uniforms are ugly. They look like a mistake, like someone ordered the wrong color of pants.

Vince Verhei: The good news for Seattle is that the Rams interior line just can't handle their defensive tackles. Big mismatch for Seattle on virtually every play. The bad news for Seattle is that Richard Sherman is having a lousy game. He gave up a bunch of completions in the first quarter, including one to Chris Givens for a 52-yard gain. He got an interception in there too, but that was due to a St. Louis miscommunication and not anything special Sherman did.

And I disagree strongly with Andy on Seattle's uniforms. I dig the white-on-grey look.

Seahawks try the surprise onside kick to open the second half, but the Rams recover. They proceed to go three-and-out, then Greg Zuerlein kicks a 60-yard field goal. He also has a 58-yarder, and the Rams' touchdown right before halftime came on a fake field-goal try.

Every time I decide I'm out of patience with Russell Wilson and want to see Matt Flynn, there's another jailbreak in pass protection where Wilson is one of maybe eight or ten guys in the league that could escape it.

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Seattle has high-profile rookies at quarterback and pass rusher, and now their rookie running back is making plays. Robert Turbin has five carries for 45 yards, I think all in the third quarter. He's doing a lot of it on his own, breaking tackles and finding cutback lanes.

The last Seattle drive pretty much summed up their entire offense at this point. Down six points in the fourth with about six minutes to go, they go run, run, penalty, run, incomplete, incomplete, punt. They have no faith in their own passing attack unless down-and-distance forces it.

J.J. Cooper: The Seahawks are trying to drive for a game-winning touchdown in the final two minutes. Wilson does a decent job of dinking it down the field, but his wideout falls down on a comeback route and the ball lands in Bradley Fletcher's hands. Which is bad since he plays for the Rams. Not Wilson's fault, but nice win for the Rams.

Vince Verhei: Let's not go overboard praising Wilson there. At the two-minute warning, they had a third-and-2 with no timeouts left. They ran for the first down, let 30 seconds go by, threw short and in bounds, let 30 seconds go by, and then threw the interception, which was another short route in bounds. The interception was not his fault. The fact that he was running a six-minute drill with one minute to go is.

Carolina Panthers 28 at Atlanta Falcons 30

Andy Benoit: The Panthers played it safe with a three-man rush, eight-man drop in the red zone against the Falcons on a late first-quarter drive. They got a sack on Matt Ryan followed by an interception. Ryan threw the ball with confidence on the pick, which implies that he was fooled and didn’t see the field correctly.

Early in the third quarter, the Falcons tried a zone blitz that involved safety William Moore and defensive end Kroy Biermann. That meant the defensive end played safety on the play ... a very aggressive, unusual tactic by Mike Nolan. He likely did this as a show tactic for Cam Newton, who has been struggling with blitz identification a bit this year.

Rivers McCown: I don't really do the whole "apocalypse is coming 2012" joke, but I'm a little nervous after Michael Turner nabs a 60-yard touchdown on a screen pass.

Andy Benoit: Newton is beating the Falcons with his legs late in this third quarter touchdown drive. He scrambled in for a touchdown and did a variation of Deion's dance.

Rivers McCown: Newton rushes for what should be the game-ending first down, but fumbles and Carolina recovers behind the first-down marker. Carolina is going to punt on fourth-and-1 from the ATL 45, with 1:10 to play. That's just a brutal call mathematically.

Atlanta gets one last crack at this. Roddy White catches a 59-yard play-action bomb on the first play after that, outdueling Haruki Nakamura on a jump ball. The Falcons are not far from field-goal range.

Aaron Schatz: Sometimes, football people argue that us stats people don't take into consideration the talent on the field when we endlessly go on about needing to go for it on fourth-and-1.

You know, like taking into account that you have Newton at quarterback, and that you gave big money to not one but TWO running backs.

Rivers McCown: And that your defense is brutal. And hasn't been non-brutal since 2010.

Vince Verhei: Small sample size, but...

Coming into today, the Panthers had five carries with one yard needed for a first down, and picked up the first down four times. In the same situation, the Falcons had given up a first down seven times in eight carries. Carolina's odds of picking up a fourth-and-1 are, very conservatively, in the 80 percent range. And probably a lot higher.

Andy Benoit: Get ready for a week of "Is Matt Ryan elite?" discussions.

Aaron Schatz: You know who is elite? Roddy White.

San Francisco 49ers 34 at New York Jets 0

Peter Koski: The Niners open the game with Michael Crabtree against Kyle Wilson. Crabtree draws a defensive pass interference penalty on a double move. Wilson was beaten off the line often early in this game.

Colin Kaepernick seeing a lot of action early. In for Alex Smith after a Frank Gore first down run, they run an option to the left, Kaepernick keeps it for 17 yards. The option pitch man? Delanie Walker.

Third-and-6 from the Jets 7, Kaepernick in the gun, Bruce Miller, Vernon Davis, and Walker bunched to the left. Kaepernick keeps it for the touchdown. Two plays earlier, Smith ran option right with a pitch to Kyle Williams for nine yards.

Andy Benoit: The Niners are showing the Jets how to run an option. Kaepernick has long legs and light feet –- looks like a deer. I’d take him over Tim Tebow eight days a week.

Ben Muth: Kaepernick's touchdown was a Quarterback Toss Crack. It's the same concept that Smith scored on against the Saints last year in the playoffs.

Vince Verhei: Jim Harbaugh is such a magnificent bastard. Hasn't used Kaepernick hardly at all until he plays the Jets, and then he breaks out the Kaepernick-cat just to emphasize how impotent the Tebow-cat has been all year. And the 49ers get more success out of it in one quarter than the Jets have all year.

Jets counter by lining Tebow up in the backfield next to Sanchez as an extra pass blocker. And honestly, Tebow does a hell of a job picking up blitzes. They gave him one old-school Florida short-yardage jump pass, and he completed it for a first down, though the receiver was hit and fumbled. But today more than ever, Tebow looks like a fullback who got the wrong jersey number on accident.

Aaron Schatz: James Brown came on for the game update, showed the Kaepernick play, and said "who says the option won't work in the NFL?" Uh... I don't think that was the option. There was no pitch man. For a play to be the option, don't you need to have, you know, an option?

Ben Muth: Wilson has been beat deep three times today (twice by Mario Manningham, once by Crabtree). But Smith has just overthrown it every time. It's 10-0, but it could be much worse.

The positive for San Francisco is that it seems like it would take the Jets 10 quarters to score 10 points on the them.

Andy Benoit: The Niners have piled on 10 extra points since establishing an insurmountable 7-0 lead over the hapless Jets.

Just in case anyone may have had any smidgen of optimism left for the Jets' 2012 season, Santonio Holmes goes down with a non-contact knee injury. (Which also led to a fumble and touchdown return for Niners.)

J.J. Cooper: Mark Sanchez's lack of accuracy continues to amaze me. Sanchez completed less than 50 percent of his passes for the 12th time in 50 regular season NFL games. If this was 1975, that would be acceptable, but in today's NFL that's mind-boggling.

To put it in perspective:
Tom Brady has 11 sub-50 percent completion percentages in 165 career regular season games
Peyton Manning has eight sub-50 percent games in 212 regular season games
Drew Brees has six sub-50 percent games in 158 career games
Aaron Rodgers has four sub-50 percent games in 73 games

Sanchez's inability to put together strings of four-to-six straight completions makes it really hard to sustain drives. Of course, the Jets don't really have a better option for accuracy on the bench -- Tim Tebow has nine sub-50 percent games in 25 regular season games.

Danny Tuccitto: Sanchez's college completion percentage was 64.3 percent. Tebow's was 66.4 percent. We often say in the context of Lewin Career Forecast that, "A quarterback doesn't learn accuracy when he goes pro." These two prove that the inverse is false.

Aaron Schatz: With Tebow, at least, that's totally a product of the style of offense that has grown in popularity in college in general, and was played at Florida specifically. It's a ton of short bubble screens, and a lot of stuff predicated on the fear of Tebow running. This is why the completion percentage variable in the LCF is now logrithmic. Once you get over like 62 percent or so, additional accuracy in college doesn't mean much. Below 56 or 57 percent, it means a lot.

Danny Tuccitto: Yeah, I was just about to make that addendum to the comment. Sanchez "learning" to miss the ocean from the beach is definitely more troubling given that he actually played in a pro-style system at USC.

Tennessee Titans 14 at Houston Texans 38

Andy Benoit: Texans have dominated ball control in first quarter versus the Titans. That’s been a major element with both teams since last year: Texans controlling possession, Titans not having enough possession.

Rivers McCown: The Titans defense has been brutal. Only third-and-short has haunted the Texans in the first quarter. They had a pair of third-and-1's stuffed, but converted on a fourth down on one of them. Tennessee's coverage is just brutal. Everything underneath is wide open, and without Colin McCarthy, their linebackers cannot tackle.

Jake Locker got destroyed by Glover Quin on a disguised slot blitz, and it doesn't look like he's back on the field yet. Matt Hasselbeck is warming up.

Oh, and to add to the J.J. Watt for Defensive Player of the Year campaign: on Brooks Reed's third-down pass breakup early in the first, Reed ran an inside stunt with Watt. David Stewart was supposed to slide over to pick up Reed, except Watt pretty much shoved him right to the ground.

Tennessee special teamer Tommie Campbell just had his second block in the back on Alan Ball of the game, and to make matters worse, he threw him right in to Darius Reynaud, causing a fumble that the Titans were lucky to keep.

The Titans have actually been really impressive on the ground today. They are generating some giant holes for Chris Johnson, and to his credit he has not tried to be cute about it for the most part. That has and will continue to be a flaw in Houston as long as Shaun Cody and Bradie James are manning the middle.

A tipped Taylor Thompson pick-six has put the Titans in catch-up mode though, and they aren't really generating much consistency in the passing game. Even on the touchdown to Craig Stevens, he was practically blanketed by Danieal Manning. It was just a great individual effort.

Watt has 7.5 sacks in four weeks. He is a 3-4 defensive end.

Vince Verhei: Out of curiousity, have any of those sacks come in a four-man front? I know Wade's 3-4 in Atlanta would go to a four-man line in nickel situations.

J.J. Cooper: Watt is insane. It's not just the sacks. He seems to knock down whatever passes he decides to allow to be thrown.

Rivers McCown: Yes. But he often plays inside in the dime fronts, with Connor Barwin and Reed outside.

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Kareem Jackson just correctly played a slant route, broke in front of it, and returned it for a pick-six.

I am now unsure that I am actually awake.

Tom Gower: Cell phone reception from inside Reliant Stadium is terrible, so I didn't even try sending any emails during the game. With Britt out and Jared Cook limited, the Titans had trouble winning one-on-one matchups on the outside. Johnson ran well, much better than he did the first few games, but it didn't matter.

Defensively, the Titans looked okay in the second quarter, but struggled badly in the second half again. And, yes, J.J. Watt is awesome.

Minnesota Vikings 20 at Detroit Lions 13

Vince Verhei: Great blocking by the Vikings on Percy Harvin's kickoff return touchdown. He cut left to right all the way across the field and no Lions defender got within five yards of him.

Andy Benoit: Lions should put quotes around the "special" of their special teams. Lions "special" teams.

Aaron Schatz: Andy, noticed you say something on Twitter about how you are impressed with the way the Vikings teach their defensive players fundamentals, and how that's contributing to their good play this season. Who do you think is leading that, Frazier? He's been there since, what, 2007? Is it Spielman?

Andy Benoit: With a loss today, the Lions are now 6-10 (including playoffs) since their 5-0 start last year.

San Diego Chargers 37 at Kansas City Chiefs 20

Vince Verhei: I guess it's not over yet, but the Chargers got some turnovers deep in Kansas City territory for some easy scores and a 17-0 lead. The Chiefs have had a tendency for several seasons to just not show up some weeks. I thought that tendency would leave town with Todd Haley, but I guess I was wrong. I bet that over the past few seasons, the Chiefs' worst four or six games each year are as bad as anyone else's.

Andy Benoit: Matt Cassel threw behind Tony Moeaki on a crossing route that resulted in an easy tipped pick-six for Donald Butler, who has made a few nice plays in this game. Butler had a sack coming clean off the edge at around the 12-minute mark in the third quarter. He’s also looked fast in run defense going sideline-to-sideline, too.

Vince Verhei: The Chiefs go into halftime with five turnovers and a missed extra point and trail 27-6.

Miami Dolphins 21 at Arizona Cardinals 24 (OT)

Vince Verhei: Last week, none of the early games were close to over when the late games started. This week, Arizona-Miami just started, and we've got five finals and three more in the last five minutes. Thank the Lord for real refs.

Ben Muth: Cameron Wake beats Bobby Massie around the edge for a sack on third down in Dolphins territory. People seem to think that because the Cardinals are 3-0, their offensive tackles are suddenly not bad. This is not the case.

Ryan Tannenhill takes my all-time pet peeve sack. The Dolphins tackles are cut blocking to get the ends hands down on a three-step drop. Tannenhill doesn't see anyone open, so he makes like a statue in the pocket. Sam Acho sheds the cut and sacks Tannenhill from behind. I'm rooting against the Dolphins and I yelled at my TV for him to throw the ball.

Wake is destroying Massie. Three sacks for Wake in 13 dropbacks

Dolphins had a third-and-goal from the 21. They complete a pass to the one. After the two-minute warning, they decide to go for it on fourth-and-goal. They get it. 10-0 Dolphins at the half. The Cardinals offense has looked awful.

Andy Benoit: Tannehill is doing a good job this week of keeping his eyes downfield and using subtle movement to avoid the rush. He’s been willing to challenge Patrick Peterson, too.

Ben Muth: The Cardinals got inside the 10-yard line, then throw to Larry Fitzgerald three times in a row. The last one was a wideout screen for a touchdown. There's something to be said for giving it to your best player three times in a row when you need a touchdown.

Tannehill just threw a ridiculous fade route, jumping off his back foot. He was bailed out by an awful defensive pass interference call. Miami converts another third-and-long.

Jake Long is on an island every play. The Dolphins never slide his way, chip towards him, or keep a tight end in to his side. I wish people would consider stuff like that when citing pressures and hits allowed.

Also, the Cardinals finally caught one of Tannehill's interceptions.

Vince Verhei: Cards get a goal-to-go following a long fumble return by Peterson. On second down, Kolb looks for Fitzgerald again, but the defender jumps the route for the interception. When I say "looks for Fitzgerald," I mean Kolb was throwing this ball to Fitzgerald no matter what. I'm pretty sure that Fitzgerald was already out of bounds before Kolb even released the ball.

Right after Kolb's interception, the Cardinals forget to cover Brian Hartline, who gets free on a simple shallow post for an 80-yard touchdown. Hartline now had a Dolphins-record 245 receiving yards, with seven minutes to go. Tannehill is over 400 yards, but still more than 100 short of Dan Marino's best day.

J.J. Cooper: Wow. Who would ever think that Hartline had an outside shot at Flipper Anderson's record?

Andy Benoit: Kolb had a pair of terrific fourth-down completions on a game-tying touchdown drive in the waning seconds. The legend is building!

Aaron Schatz: I think that Kolb's biggest problem the last couple years has been self-confidence more than anything else. He just looks yippy, and makes huge mistakes under pressure. Well, Miami ranked 31st in adjusted sack rate coming into today, and Kolb just showed great composure and marched the Cardinals downfield for a game-tying, last-minute drive which included two fourth-down conversions.

Vince Verhei: You're right, but let's not forget that Kolb started that drive by taking back-to-back sacks. He was sacked eight times in regulation.

Aaron Schatz: Gotta give some props to the Cardinals' offensive line (strange to say that) for how they've protected Kolb in these last few minutes of the game. Third-and-7 in overtime, Miami sent six guys and Kolb still had a good pocket, which meant no yippy Kolb, and that meant a completion and a first down.

Jay Feely makes a long field goal, and the Cardinals are 4-0. Six-for-six on fumble recoveries today. I know their defense is playing well, I know that Kolb looked really good on the game-tying drive, but this is just not sustainable.

Ben Muth: No it is not sustainable, but it sure is fun.

Oakland Raiders 6 at Denver Broncos 37

Andy Benoit: The Broncos went heavy on the crossing patterns on first series, wanting to make Oakland’s safeties and linebackers play lateral pass defense. They cap the drive with a deep seam to Joel Dreessen: all vertical on that play. Outstanding first drive.

Vince Verhei: With Denver up 34-6 late in the fourth quarter, CBS cuts to a shot of one coach from each team running stairs. The Oakland coach is a tubby Greg Knapp. He's running those stairs, I'd like to believe, not because he is trying to lose weight, but as punishment for the horrible football he has spread across the league over the last decade.

Ben Muth: Everyone was burying Peyton Manning and the Broncos for going down big the last two weeks. No one mentioned that:
A) They played Houston and Atlanta, maybe the best two teams in the league.
B) They almost came back both times.

New Orleans Saints 27 at Green Bay Packers 28

Andy Benoit: Aaron Rodgers was incredible on his first touchdown throw. He eludes pass-rush pressure to his left, gathers on the move, and throws back to his right. Pass may have been intended for Jermichael Finley but James Jones got it.

The story of this game so far: the plays Rodgers has made late in the down to extend the play. He and Ben Roethlisberger are the best in the league at keeping their eyes downfield as they’re on the move behind the line of scrimmage.

Aaron Schatz: I think this may be what puts Rodgers ahead of Brady and Drew Brees as the best quarterback in the league right now. Everyone would rather have a quarterback who knows how to dissect a defense and make the right throw, instead of a guy who likes to improvise and wing it and "just make plays." But the best thing you can have is a quarterback who knows how to dissect a defense, who would prefer to dissect a defense, but *can* improvise and wing it and "just make plays" when everything breaks down. I think the only guys who qualify right now, excepting rookies, are Rodgers, Newton, and Roethlisberger. Rodgers is the best of those three guys in both categories. (Newton is better at *called* run plays, of course.)

Rivers McCown: Putting Jeff Triplette in Green Bay this week may be Roger Goodell's greatest troll job yet.

Andy Benoit: The Saints are getting good production out of Marques Colston in the slot. That hasn't consistently been the case this season. He's getting sit down type stuff in Green Bay's intermediate zones.

Rivers McCown: Yep, the biggest difference for the Saints between this game and their first three is that Colston is healthy and playing well.

Saints get first-and-goal from the 2 on a B.J. Raji personal foul, first play, swing pass to Mark Ingram (isn't this what Darren Sproles is on the roster for?), second play is a fade to Colston that is overthrown. Third play, slant inside to Jimmy Graham, and Tramon Williams does an excellent job of anticipating that and breaking it up.

But still, three shots from the 2 and you don't even try to run it once? With the fourth-best rushing offense (by DVOA) in the league through three weeks? Against a defense that is much better against the pass?

Aaron Schatz: Haven't the Packers been a primarily man coverage team for a while now? Today it seems like a ton of zone, and Brees is picking on the hole in the middle of the field in the same way Ryan Fitzpatrick did in the first half of the Pats-Bills game.

Andy Benoit: Rodgers and Jordy Nelson may have the best chemistry of any quarterback-receiver combination in the league.

At least the Packers are getting screwed by the right refs this time.

Aaron Schatz: You can really see in the Saints-Packers game the way that the regular officials take charge of breaking up a player fight so much better than the replacements did.

Rivers McCown: There have been a lot of completely bonkers receptions in the fourth quarter of this game, especially the fourth-down conversion to Lance Moore that was practically perfectly executed by every player on the field, but James Jones catching a ball that he can barely even SEE takes the cake. Wow.

Cincinnati Bengals 27 at Jacksonville Jaguars 10

Andy Benoit: Great acceleration and ball-tracking by A.J. Green on his late first-half bomb. He’s one of the best in the league at catching those.

Would you believe Blaine Gabbert has the longest current streak of passes without an interception? (127)

Vince Verhei: This comment was accurate for 22 minutes.

Washington Redskins 24 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 22

Andy Benoit: Billy Cundiff is 0-of-3 on field goals. Including a 31-yarder. He’s sitting on the bench with the face of a man who can’t help but envision his imminent unemployment.

Rivers McCown: Boy, Andy had a rough week. #Narrative

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles

Danny Tuccitto: At 10:20 of first quarter, William Beatty flagged for what can only be described as an attempted sleeper hold. Did the Giants add Brutus Beefcake to their coaching staff?

Aaron Schatz: Giants definitely seem to be leaving in extra blockers on every play to make sure that Eli Manning doesn't get killed back there.

I get this feeling that the Giants are just throwing long as much as possible, figuring that if they keep doing it, eventually they'll hit a couple of plays and either score or get into field-goal range, and that might be enough to win this game.

Danny Tuccitto: Al Michaels mentioned it early in the broadcast, so I figured I would look at our charting stats regarding the Giants having success with five or more rushers against Michael Vick. He missed last year's Week 11 game, so here are the relevant stats for the other three games over the past two seasons:

5 or more rushers: 41 pass plays, 68.3% defensive success rate, 4.1 yards per play
4 or fewer rushers: 62 pass plays, 50.0% defensive success rate, 7.5 yards per play

Rivers McCown: I'm really excited about Nnamdi Asomugha's Fresh Prince haircut.

Aaron Schatz: This is the kind of game that's probably more fun to chart than it is to watch live. Charting it, you would probably get a better appreciation of the excellent defensive line play. Live, I just feel like, somebody just get more than one first down on the same drive already.

Vince Verhei: Cris Collinsworth talks about how teams that get nothing on the ground in the first half can spring big runs in the second half if they stick with it. Because if there's one team known for pounding opponents into submission with a powerful ground game, it's the Andy Reid Eagles.

Danny Tuccitto: I'm not charting the Giants, but Corey Webster appears at a glance to be on pace for some awful coverage stats. Seems like once or twice (or thrice) per nationally televised game, he just gets made to look silly in coverage. The Giants are one of those teams that doesn't lock their No. 1 cornerback onto a specific side of the field, obviously because they think Webster's worth of that status. I looked at last year's success rate rankings for the No. 1 corners on the other seven teams ranked in the bottom eight of "CB by sides," and noticed this:

Aqib Talib (TB) = 6th
Darrelle Revis (NYJ) = 11th
Ike Taylor (PIT) = 16th
Rashean Mathis (JAC) = 28th
Corey Webster (NYG) = 36th
Sean Smith (MIA) = 57th
Patrick Peterson (ARI) = 68th
Ron Bartell (STL) = N/A (neck injury in Week 1)

So, aside from a guy who was on IR by Week 2 (Bartell was 12th in 2010) and two under-25 players (according to last year's age) who seem to have made the leap this year, Webster was ostensibly the least worthy of the bunch. And that's on the heels of a 28th ranking in 2010 and a 39th ranking in 2011. I'm not going to pretend I know more than the Giants front office or coaching staff, but it's pretty -- um -- odd.

Aaron Schatz: I've always thought he was a reasonable No. 1 corner. They do play a lot of zones, which could affect the charting stats.

Danny Tuccitto: Ah, the totally valid "this is an imperfect measure" caveat.

Aaron Schatz: Awesome move by the Giants to end the third quarter; in a situation where you usually just try to draw the other team offsides (fourth down with 13 seconds until the end of the quarter) they instead suddenly went shotgun and ran a play, and the perfect play for the situation, slant inside to Victor Cruz. Just a great play.

And then Eli throws a terrible interception. So, um, yeah. 1-for-2, I guess.

Rivers McCown: It's really a shame, I was positive that Cruz's catch had totally shifted the momentum towards the Giants.

Danny Tuccitto: The last few minutes have been one fail after another. Eli fails throwing a red-zone interception down three points. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie fails trying to return the interception rather than taking a touchback. Giants defense fails by allowing the Eagles to take the ensuing drive into field goal range in three minutes on (mostly) running plays.

Aaron Schatz: Eagles defense then fails by letting the Giants drive down the field on three passes.

Rivers McCown: Brian Dawkins may be the best Eagles safety to set foot on the field today.

Vince Verhei: Somebody said this years ago in Audibles, I think way back when he played for Atlanta, but it's still true today: Vick is a far shot from being the best quarterback in the league, but boy is he scary when he only needs a field goal to beat you.

Danny Tuccitto: It's a fourth quarter in which Philadelphia has either been clinging to a three-point lead or been down by one. They've run the ball on 12 of the past 18 plays. Super-duper top secret play-calling trend if the Giants' IT staff is hacking this e-mail thread: IT'S A RUN!

Aaron Schatz: The Giants are trying to win the game with a final field goal drive, and the whole drive is filled with pass interference calls. Guess what -- they were mostly pretty good! First, on fourth-and-1, DRC totally hugs Ramses Barden. Then there was a questionable PI on Nnamdi Asomugha, ok, that one was questionable, but then they called offensive PI on Barden when he was completely all over Asomugha. I know Collinsworth disagreed with the middle one, but the first one and the third one were pretty much textbook.

Rivers McCown: I'm really disgusted that Lawrence Tynes missed that second field goal. END ICING.

Vince Verhei: You know how some players have great rookie years, then never seem to get any better, but kind of hang around the league on raw athletic talent alone? Andy Reid is like the head coaching equivalent of that. He's got severe flaws in clock management, often forgets that running the ball is legal, and still does wonky stuff like icing the kicker. But he's such a great coordinator and quarterbacks coach that he's hung around forever, and been successful more often than not.

By the way, Vick's first sentence in the postgame interview on NBC: "I don't believe in icing the kicker."

Aaron Schatz: I love the idea that Tynes missing the second kick shows that icing works. So what does Tynes missing the first kick show? How about Billy Cundiff's missed kicks without timeouts called before them? Or Stephen Gostkowski, or David Akers?

Someone just tweeted to me: "Giants won the Super Bowl last year. Would have missed playoffs (factually) without icing. Stats don't dictate everything."

Yes, that's right. The only reason the Giants made the playoffs is the fact that Jason Garrett iced his own kicker. Because kickers never, ever miss field goals for any other reason, ever.

Rivers McCown: To be clear, my objection to icing is an aesthetic one: it's annoying and adds nothing to the game.

Comments

277 comments, Last at 02 Oct 2012, 9:40pm

1 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Follow-up thought on Bills-Pats, for what it's worth--the Patriots' running game was almost entirely between the tackles, mauling the Bills' DTs and making whoever was playing opposite Solder look like a crash test dummy. Kelsay and Mark Anderson were both flattened, and Mario Williams was a non-factor, although they tended to run away from him. Both Gronkowski and Fells (Number 86) made several huge lead blocks, lining up at Fullback, and stoning linebackers. This looked like simple, solid technique, with the Patriots repeatedly winning one-on-one battles. It's hard to say if this will be repeatable, or if the Bills simply folded psychologically.

3 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Part of the problem is the Bills insisted on staying in a 4-1-6 look, with Bryan Scott as sort of nickel/hybrid LB to counter the Patriot spread and the Patriots consistently attacked this smaller lineup. This resulted in leaving Nick Barnett as the only LB, and apparently Nick Barnett turned 70 this offseason because he looks absurdly washed up. But as you mentioned, the Bills definitely looked tired and mentally out of it, something that has been a staple of the Gailey years in Buffalo. When things are going good they tend to play better, but when things go bad the whole team seems to just check out.

I love Gailey, his scheme, and his approach. But apparently it's not reaching the players because they just don't keep focus and repeatedly seem to fold in the face of adversity. How much of this is accountable to the head coach, I don't know, but a couple more blowouts like this and it might be time for a new direction. With yet another slew of injuries (Glenn, Urbik out for awhile, Byrd and Jones nicked up) it seems like another 6-10 or 7-9 season on the way

101 Re: Audibles: Week 4

You may be unduly pessimistic. The Bills have a nasty stretch coming up where they could well lose to SF, ARI, HOU, and NE, but if they win even one of those games and end up at 3-5, they would actually be in pretty good shape to go on a little run. 9 or 10 wins still feels realistic. I guess the trouble for them will be mostly psychologically--how hard they take this loss and any subsequent ones.

105 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Yeah, the back-end of the Bills schedule is quite easy. I remember before the season when I did my personal predictions, I saw them started 3-6, and then ending 5-2. Let's remember that they played with the Pats for 2.5 quarters. They were drummed like a sheep in that last 1.5 quarters. This isn't a bad team. It's not a good one either, but it isn't that bad.

171 Re: Audibles: Week 4

It seems like the big downer is lack of tactical adjustment. In other words, they may be more talented than they're likely to play at because they don't appear to be super well coached. Gailey does a lot of cute things offensively, but he doesn't seem to be able to instill the team with in-game toughness and he's not making good mid-game adjustments.

2 Re: Audibles: Week 4

"Ben Muth: Everyone was burying Peyton Manning and the Broncos for going down big the last two weeks. No one mentioned that:
A) They played Houston and Atlanta, maybe the best two teams in the league.
B) They almost came back both times."

I mentioned it. To, um, people I know. They're probably going to have to work on that comebacking again in New England next Sunday seeing as how the Patriots rang up 86 points in 2 games on Denver's D last year.

"Rivers McCown: To be clear, my objection to icing is an aesthetic one: it's annoying and adds nothing to the game."

But Rivers, it adds so much to cake!

4 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I wonder if any coaches tell themselves "I have to save this timeout in case I need to ice their kicker later."

5 Re: Audibles: Week 4

An Almighty with a better sense of humor would have had the 2nd attempt by the Giants clear the crossbar.

102 Re: Audibles: Week 4

entirely agreed. It was very surprising as a casual viewer that that kick missed. It was right down broadway, and after the first miss, one just assumed it would be good.

110 Re: Audibles: Week 4

God has an incredible sense of humor - it's just that he loves to see that Tom Coughlin "what the hell just happened?" face.

6 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Zone-Dar, God of the Cover-Two, watched Vikings at Lions yesterday, and declared a perfect game played by the Horned Purple Heads. Run back opening kickoff for a touchdown. Allow yards on some drives, but not much in the way of points. Run the ball effectively. Kick some long field goals. Make a quick stop on first possession of the 2nd half. Return subsequent punt for a touchdown. Risk little when passing. Force opponent to forgo field goal attempt in 4th quarter, after long drive, because he is down two touchdowns. Stop opponent on fourth down. Sack opposing qb on last play of the game.

I think my win projection of the Vikings may be a wee bit off, given I had 'em pegged somewhere between 3 and 5.

37 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Because he won a Super Bowl largely because of it.

I think the Colts were the only other Cover 2 to win a Super Bowl, and most people believe they got as far as they did in spite of their defense.

41 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Eh, really, the '70s Steelers with Bud Carson as coordinator ran the Cover-two, and Dungy himself attributes his defensive philosophy to the 1975 Steelers defensive playbook.

47 Re: Audibles: Week 4

In reply to by Will Allen

Love it when fans get the idea that there are all these "new things" in football.

EDIT: So, if spam can beat one CAPTCHA screen, it will be stopped by a second basically identical screen?

48 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Tony Dungy won a Super Bowl with the Cover 2, and so did the Colts?

Are you crediting the Bucs' Super Bowl win to Dungy? Or not crediting the Colts' Super Bowl win to Dungy?

60 Re: Audibles: Week 4

He built the defense in Tampa Bay, and they were actually good. Even if it came the year after he left, I could give him credit for that defense.

The Colts defense was adequate at best.

And while the old Steelers did run something similar, I was referring to the modern Tampa 2 scheme. Just wasn't clear enough.

61 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Oh, I definitely think Dungy should get some of the credit for building the Tampa defense. (Or maybe the credit should go to Monte Kiffin.) But Dungy didn't win a Super Bowl in Tampa. And he did win one in Indy.

The way your comment was phrased, it seemed like you were implying the opposite.

The spam filter here seems to be randomly triggered.

14 Re: Audibles: Week 4

the secondary played better than I've seen a Vikings secondary play in a long time. Smith and Robison have looked very competent and all of them tackle very well. They made Detroit pay a price when they caught a pass.

I was big time anti Spielman, but his first draft looks good right now. Picks 3 guys in the first three rounds that seem to have addressed the most glaring weaknesses on the team. He also drafted a kicker that can kick the ball for a touch back most times - fixing another big weakness.

My prediction for 5-7 wins, so I am pleasantly surprised they have looked much better at this point of the season.

81 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Something that I haven't seen mentioned about that game: in the second half, after the Lions were down by 14, they punted on 4th-and-1 from the Minnesota 40 and on 4th-and-5 from the Minnesota 47.

I understand that they don't have a consistent running game, but from the perspective of a Lions fan, that was maddening. Especially in the former case, I can't help but think they were leaving some points on the field (not to mention that when you're behind, you want to MAXIMIZE variance...).

155 Re: Audibles: Week 4

In reply to by Pottsville Mar…

as a Viking fan I was very happy to see them punt in those situations.

I thought those were two pretty even teams with the exception of special teams play. The Vikings pass game was pretty awful but they ran it well. Detroit's pass game was pretty decent but they couldn't run at all. The Vikings got the better of the lucky breaks (fumble on the running play at the 29, drop in the end zone by Pettigrew were two huge plays).

I think the NFC North will be a real dog fight this year. I thought it was going to be a 3 team battle but now I'm starting to thinking there are four teams fairly evenly matched.

It's early though.

160 Re: Audibles: Week 4

The Vikings passing numbers improve slightly when the DPI calls that Simpson drew are factored, which DYAR will do. It'll be interesting to see how low Ponder comes out in Quick Reads tomorrow.

199 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I thought it was going to be a 3 team battle but now I'm starting to thinking there are four teams fairly evenly matched.

I think that impression is based on the very mistaken belief that the Lions are a somewhat competent team (something I've been arguing against since the pre-season). The Vikings are defintely better than expected, but the NFC North is, at most, a two-team race (let's see what happens tonight).

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

275 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Sorry man. But all the signs were there. Last year at this time I was predicting a battle of the undefeateds in the thanksgiving game, and throughout most of the season, that the Lions had the best chance of beating the Packers.

This preseason my opinion was that Detroit needed every single break they could get to go 9-7. Now I think I might have been a tad too optimistic...

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

244 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I'm afraid I think the Packers are likely to get their act back together and win 11 or 12 games. The Vikings have a chance to compete for a wild card, though.

7 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I'm tempted to say that the NFL had Jeff Triplette and crew in mind when they were insisting in negotiations that there be a bench of zebras developed, to allow easier replacements of refs who weren't cutting it. Then I remembered that the NFL was the bunch that decided that Phil Luckett was just the guy, out of planet with billions of souls, to do booth reviews last Monday night.

16 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Rivers McCown: Putting Jeff Triplette in Green Bay this week may be Roger Goodell's greatest troll job yet.

Given the way the end of the game played out, I'd like to add Prescience as another service offered by the FO crew.

49 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Wow, the Packers sure have been lucky with the refs, huh?

That fumble mess was straight-up scandalous. Total abrogation of responsibility. Did any one of the refs really believe the runner was down by contact? It seems obvious to me that they had no idea whose ball it should be, so they decided to act as if it "didn't happen." Transparently pathetic.

201 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Nevermind the Jimmy Graham "catch" that somehow got reviewed and confirmed. Not that the first challenge wasn't completely impulsive. And idiotic. Still, if the review crew don't botch that call, McCarthy would have one challenge left.

That is hilarious, BTW. That the same play happened with Graham and Nelson (drop on the way to the ground), one was ruled a catch and confirmed and the other wasn't. Just hilarious.

204 Re: Audibles: Week 4

In reply to by PackersRS (not verified)

Would he have had a challenge left? I thought you only got a 3rd challenge if you won the first two.

205 Re: Audibles: Week 4

You do. I think his point was that if the refs didn't blow the call forcing him to use the second challenge (I didn't see that one, so can't comment on the appropriateness), then McCarthy would have had his second challenge to use on that terrible fumble call. To which I would reply that that's the entire reason the challenge system exists -- officials blow calls. Given that the rules only allow two challenges a game unless the Coach wins them both, it was incredibly dumb for McCarthy to use his first challenge on a call that had a roughly 0% chance of being overturned at a non-critical juncture of the game. It was as if he planned on calling a time-out there, so he figured he might as well throw the red flag out there and try to get lucky, without considering that the officials might get one wrong later.

246 Re: Audibles: Week 4

No no, my point was just completely wrong.

"It was as if he planned on calling a time-out there, so he figured he might as well throw the red flag out there and try to get lucky, without considering that the officials might get one wrong later."

Yes. It's not McCarthy's first time doing this.

The reasoning "the system exists because officials blow calls", though technically correct, doesn't exclude the fact that, though McCarthy made a mistake with the first challenge, it wasn't his responsability to get the call right.

If someone crashes into your car, it's not your fault that you didn't have insurance.

P.S.: What's the deal with this new CAPTCHA verification? I have to type it 3 times for it to work...

50 Re: Audibles: Week 4

In reply to by Will Allen

Is Luckett no longer a regular referee? I'm a bit surprised he would work for the NFL when his fellow referees were being locked out. Even Division I refs wouldn't serve as scabs.

55 Re: Audibles: Week 4

In reply to by Scott P. (not verified)

I'm pretty sure that the league, in it's infinite wisdom, decided that Luckett's consistent incompetence should be rewarded with a promotion into management. Ya' can't make this stuff up.

9 Re: Audibles: Week 4

"There were 63 unpressured underthrows on passes 4-to-6 yards downfield last year. So about two per team. Two players tied for the league lead with six: Blaine Gabbert and, no kidding, Tom Brady. Nobody else had more than three."

There would have been a lot more if Donovan McNabb hadn't been benched early last season.

As for "What comes after a law firm?," my answer is: The Bankruptcy Trustee.

11 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Brady is probably up there on underthrows because of those passes he makes into receivers practically laying on the grass, just past the first down marker. Not much margin for error there.

77 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Disagree. I think it's because when the Pats call a screen and Brady sees that the other team has sniffed it out, he just throws the ball into the turf, even when unpressured, rather than look for someone else or make the throw and try to let the RB (or Welker) elude the shadowing defender and risk losing yardage.

It seems to happen about once every two games or so, at least.

83 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I bet he has thrown twice as many passes in that range as any other QB, so with the same accuracy, he would have twice as many underthrows.

106 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I wonder if missed connections on Wide receiver screens count. Brady had a bunch of those last year where they're borderline laterals and the passes hit the ground between the receivers' legs. It was hard to figure why he was missing them.

10 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Shy Triplegge in Green Bay great troll job by R. Goodell?

88 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Why is Triplette considered any worse than, say, Ron Winter or Walt Coleman (my personal most hated refs)??

91 Re: Audibles: Week 4

The other guys don't put anybody's eye out!

(I know, I know, I harp on this, but I still can't believe Triplette did this.)

97 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Or fail to understand simple geometry and physics. (It was a touchback, damnit. A TOUCHBACK!!)

98 Re: Audibles: Week 4

It probably was, but if there is any merit to the words "indisputable video evidence" I can't see how that could've gotten overturned.

190 Re: Audibles: Week 4

In reply to by Raiderjoe

Hey, remember that time when you said Oakland would dominate denver and they kicked your teeth in? Yeah. I remember that time. Clearly, Palmer was worth all that old man Davis paid for him, no?

12 Re: Audibles: Week 4

God, the Dolphins are hard to support this year. Two consecutive games they've gone out of their way to find creative ways to lose games they had sewn up.
8 sacks, 2 picks for Sean Smith, 400+ yds for Tannehill and 6 fumbles for Arizona, ans still Miami lose... *shakes head*

On the bright side, Tannehill looked good against a for-real defence yesterday. Neither of the INTs were terrible-on the first Hartline slipped coming out of his break and he was hit as he threw for the second.It also appears that Hartline can play (80yd TD where no-one bothered to cover him aside).

Arizona kept going 4 & 5 wide and their tackles got destroyed. Finally the decided to keep extra blockers in, and who knew-Kolb had enough time to pick on Miami's DBs.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

46 Re: Audibles: Week 4

In reply to by James-London

Tannehill looked as good as a lost fumble and a int when the game counts can look. He threw 400 yrds but put the ball in the end zone once. The Dolphins team looks the same every year. A nice bend don't break defense, a little running and a lot of close early season loses. They promise to just wait until the QB develops. It doesn't mean anything. They never build towards anything. After the last decade there is no reason to believe in the team. Unless they actual win games, it's just another loss in the endless season's of losing. I can't wait until Ross sells the team to someone that has a heart.

221 Re: Audibles: Week 4

In reply to by johonny (not verified)

Well, I know that even now Tanny isn't getting any love so far this year outside Miami, but in my opinion he's played well -all things considered- in every single game including preseason. Mind you, this is a kid who was supposed to be so raw he shouldn't even take a snap till next year. But he's got folks in Miami -which boasts the most miserably fair-weather fans you will ever see- more excited than they've been since Marino was young. And I can't blame them. We haven't seen anything that good around these parts for ages (not that I'm actually in "these" parts).

So, yeah, I disagree that it doesn't mean anything. It's the same with every team that's ever been bad out there: they lose games and they lose games, and then one day they start winning. And THEN we say, "oh, of course, this changed and that changed..." But 5 minutes before it happens most of us believe it never will (see Cardinals, Arizona).

------
FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

225 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I have to agree. The only gambling I do is nfl futures and I had 300 dollars on the dolphins going under 7 wins. It wasn't because I thought nothing of tannehill, but i just assumed, once ireland had traded away marshall and davis, that the team was basically going to be in fetus position most of the year. In fact, it reminded me of when cam cameron took over the nick saban dolphins and tried to scheme his way to success and went 1-15. Well, the dolphins have been competitive to the point where I am sufficiently worried they will break my bet and much credit has to go to tannehill who isn't exactly playing with even a mediocre supporting cast.

238 Re: Audibles: Week 4

The same might apply to the Browns. Yeah its 0-4, same old story, etc etc, but I watched them last Thursday and they didn't appear very far away from winning some games. The concern is that while the losses continue to mount up, owner and fan patience runs out and a situation of potential promise is jettisoned. That's the vicious spiral of being a losing franchise I suppose.

257 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I disagree!!! Its the same old story with the Browns. I think the Ravens game gave hope to Browns fans, but looking at it objectively you can see that the performance on Thursday night was a direct correlation between the Browns having familiarity with the Ravens, the Ravens coming off of an emotional game against the Pats and the fact that the Ravens played 4 games in 17 days. fatigue was a huge factor in the Thursday night game.

The Browns are still the Browns.

13 Re: Audibles: Week 4

"You know who is elite? Roddy White."

You know who isn't? Haruki Nakamura. He was owned by White on the Falcons long TD in the first quarter as well as the big pass on the game winner.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

21 Re: Audibles: Week 4

In reply to by James-London

Maybe I was watching a different game than everybody else, but he just seemed slower than Roddy White, and definitely not a smart cover man. Both throws, he stopped 2-3 yards in front of where the ball was going to fall and tried to make a jump ball out of it. If instead of doing that both times he actually continued to run to where the ball was going to fall, he could have made a play.

If he did do that, maybe Roddy White could have proved he is elite or owned Nakamura, but both of those were faults of Nakamura, not something amazing Roddy White did.

185 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I thought Nakamura made a terrible decision on that 59-yd pass to White too. He had his hands up in position to reel in the ball, but if he had sold out and extended to knock the ball away or strip it from White he might have had a better chance to break up the pass. He's not going to outleap Roddy White in any case. After all, the game clock favored the Panthers in this situation.

15 Re: Audibles: Week 4

You're Tom Coughlin. 15 seconds to go. You've just seen that your kicker doesn't quite have the leg for a 54-yard field goal. It's only third down. Don't you use the knowledge gained from Reid's icing of your kicker to decide to let Manning attempt a sideline our pattern to get your kicker in closer range, and take the (slight) risk of a sack compared to letting Tynes kick again?

54 Re: Audibles: Week 4

But it is a sign of the times with coaches taking longer and longer field goals for granted. Kickers are so good these days. But 54 yards? Takes some serious confidence to decide you're close enough from that range. And the fact he missed them both makes me want to fault Coughlin for not trying to get any closer.

69 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I fault Coughlan for it even more because it would have been a career long if Tynes had made it.

74 Re: Audibles: Week 4

As bad decisions on that drive go, the decision to kick is at best (worst) distant third behind the decision to throw a risky long pass on second and seven, rather than running again or throwing short; and the decision by Barden to molest Asomugha to the point where the ref couldn't possibly leave the flag in his pocket on that play. People complain about teams "settling" for 44 yard field goals; last night is why they do that.

85 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I've got no problem in theory with taking a shot with your 6'-6" receiver one-on-one on the outside; that's actually a tried-and-true tactic against the Eagles. The problem is that Ramses Barden is not Plaxico Burress, and Nnamdi Asomugha is not Sheldon Brown or Lito Sheppard.

112 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Yeah, I understand Asomugha's reputation has slipped somewhat in the last couple years, but it seemed strange to pick on him at that crucial moment.

113 Re: Audibles: Week 4

In reply to by Independent George

The problem is that Ramses Barden literally reached around Nnamdi's helmet and covered his eyes with his hands as if to say "see no evil", because he was so far out of position that Nnamdi had a better chance at even a well-thrown pass than he did.

The other question is why Eli was throwing at the Eagles' best corner on 2nd and 9 with the game on the line, covering a bit-player receiver playing his second start ever. I recognize it was single coverage, but they can't have everyone else doubled, and it's second down. Where is the seven yard out to Victor Cruz?

156 Re: Audibles: Week 4

It didn't even need to be an out, they had plenty of time to spike the ball and the whole field to work with. Another inside handoff to Bradshaw for 3-4 yards would have been just fine.

78 Re: Audibles: Week 4

If I recall correctly, it looked like Eli was desperate to pick up the first down on that half of the field, even with no timeouts and after the penalty. 10 yards over the middle would have been huge for that kick. Who's handling the play calling/strategy in those moments? Gilbride? Coughlin? Eli?

17 Re: Audibles: Week 4

The Rams won yesterday because Jeff Fisher outcoached Pete Carroll. The Seahawks are the more talented team. They ran with impunity. The only thing keeping Marshawn Lynch from scoring very high on this weeks DAVE will be the fact that everybody else can run on the Rams, too. Lynch had 6 yards a pop without any real breakaways. But Fisher “Manufactured” a win. He couldn’t line up and beat Seattle man against man, so he used trick plays. The reverse on the kickoff didn’t work, but I love the willingness to be aggressive. The fake field goal was huge. If the lead is 2 instead of 6 late in the game, it’s a totally different scenario. Even more credit to him to trust his rookie kicker from 58 and 60 yards out early in the game. Greg The Leg is a shoe-in for Special Teams Player of the Month. The other thing that really impressed me was the drive leading up to the fake field goal – specifically Sam Bradford’s performance on it. Three times, the Rams faced drive-killer situations – i.e. 2 ten-yard penalties and a sack. In all 3 situations, Bradford responded by throwing downfield on the very next play and moving the chains. This isn’t a team that’s used to converting 2nd and 20 type situations. He won’t score highly on DAVE (no TDs), but he did what he had to do to win and made some big throws in some key moments.

18 Re: Audibles: Week 4

It’s time to flat-out say that Andy Reid traded the wrong QB. Kevin Kolb overcame EIGHT sacks to lead the Cards to ANOTHER come from behind victory. And this was all Kolb. The coaches put the game in his hands - he had 48 attempts (56 dropbacks!). 29/48 324 yards 3 TDs 2 INTs. It’s important to observe that one INT was terrible. But he also rebounded and drove the team down the field for the game winner on the next possession, then made some key throws in OT for the win. It also needs to be observed that unlike his counterpart in Philadelphia, these were the first two INTs he’s thrown all season.

We know Tanier doesn't like Kolb. And we know Tanier has earned the benefit of the doubt on his opinions. As such, I think he’s shaped a lot of our opinions on Philly-related topics. Likewise, Andy Reid has a solid track record as a talent evaluator – especially at the QB position. However, Kolb had a 65% completions rate and 7.3 ypa going into yesterday’s game, plus the off-the-bench Week 1 heroics. The knock on Kolb was that he doesn’t stand up to pressure. He did yesterday. While Tanier might have a great record overall, it’s time to wonder if he’s wrong about Kevin Kolb.

23 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Kolb needs to feel comfortable to do well, and it seems like his best production is out of the no-huddle shotgun-heavy approach that he used for four years in college. He's had a lot of success because he seems to maintain his rhythm. He's also pretty accurate in the short-to-intermediate passing game.

Kevin Kolb's strengths don't seem to match the Eagles personnel. As much as Andy Reid is cited as a West Coast coach, the Eagles offense is largely predicated on the big play. Kevin Kolb is great throwing slant routes and button-hooks, but that's not the team the Eagles are built for.

They have smaller, quicker athletes to either spread the defense laterally to the sidelines or move deep down the field. Kolb's arm talent isn't there for the out patterns and deep balls the Eagles depend on. Shorter passes with those shorter receivers could get them killed (i.e. DeSean being destroyed by Dunta Robinson a few years ago).

Not to mention Kolb's comfort zone doesn't really mix with Reid's habits for varying formations and alignments. What Reid tries to do to create mismatches or get his receivers clean breaks off the line messes with the rhythm Kolb needs to be successful.

27 Re: Audibles: Week 4

"Kolb needs to feel comfortable to do well"

Isn't this true of just about every QB in the game?

Also, for all his flaws, Andy Reid DOES tweak the offense to suit the QB. The version of the WCO he ran with McNabb is different than what he's running now, which in turn is different than what his mentors ran in Green Bay. It's logical to assume he'd adjust again with a different QB - be it Kolb or Foles, or whoever.

33 Re: Audibles: Week 4

You've seen how bad a flustered Kolb can be. Maybe it's an issue of poise, but Kolb has less tolerance for disruption than most other quarterbacks.

Reid does tweak the offense to suit the Quarterback, but the bulk of the personnel on the Eagles team is meant for getting large chunks of yardage at a time. Jackson would mostly become a decoy, and Maclin would see the depth of his targets come in by 7-8 yards and leave him vulnerable to hits from linebackers.

115 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Michael Vick is a better quarterback than Kolb even when he's in the pocket. And unlike Kolb, he can run. He has a better arm, isn't a pansy, and while they both turn the ball over too much, Vick's turnovers at least make sense.

Saying the Eagles should have traded Vick - even assuming they could have gotten the haul they got for Kolb - is insane. Kolb is basically Mark Sanchez; Michael Vick is Brett Favre on roller skates.

120 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Saying Michael Vick is Brett Favre on roller skates only makes sense if you are trying to say that being on roller skates really would have a bad effect on passing performance.

261 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I'm not a professional QB, but it sure seems like throwing a football on roller skates would be hard as hell.

188 Re: Audibles: Week 4

So perhaps it's more accurate to say "Kolb needs to feel comfortable to play at an average level."
Which is a very different thing.

56 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Vick was a much, much better QB in 2011 than Kolb was. This isn't remotely a debatable point. Yeah, Vick has looked crappy this season, but Kolb hasn't looked much better. If Kolb "overcame" eight sacks, isn't he at least partly responsible for being sacked eight times? It's not easy to get sacked eight times.

64 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Wow, talk about overreacting to a small sample. Kolb got beat out by John Skelton, and you're saying he's better than Vick?

Edit: now that I think about it, I guess you could say Vick got beat out by Kolb to start the 2010 season. But still, the fact that Kolb couldn't land the starting job after getting paid all that money in Arizona is pretty damning.

67 Re: Audibles: Week 4

And Vick was playing well below his ability in general during 2010. After how he's done in the past year-and-a-quarter, it's hard to look at anything he did that season as a serious indicator of his actual skill.

71 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Overreaction? No.

Ahead of the curve? Apparently.

Kolb was clearly better than Skelton last year, but this was neither the first nor the last time that an NFL coach "fell in love with the guy with the big arm." Last year was also Kolb's de-facto rookie season. He entered this year with exactly 16 starts under his belt.

Getting back to the original comparison, Kolb also just turned 28, as opposed to 32. He's playing well and getting better every week. He's only a 60% passer, but yet that makes him by FAR the superior passer. He's much better at reading defenses. And his body isn't visibly breaking down before our eyes.

Aside from a 6 week stretch 2 years ago, Vick has always been more about hype than actual performance. Without a doubt, he's the single most overrated player of the last 20 years (although I suppose LaVar Arrington and DeAngelo Hall at least deserve mention). If you want video games and highlight reels, sure, go with the dogkiller. Kolb will give you superior performance play in, play out.

114 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Plenty of bad/mediocre QBs have had good 4 game stretches. And I'm not buying that last year was his de-facto rookie season after being coached up by Andy Reid for 4 years in the league.

I'm not a Vick lover by any stretch, but I'm just not certain that Kolb is that good or has turned the corner. Vick has put up about 7.9 Y/A in Philly, and Kolb's this season is at 7.0, but clearly Kolb's completion percentage is going to be better. Vick has gone crazy with turnovers so far, obviously, so that's not good. I just don't know how you can say for sure that Kolb is better at reading defenses.

If Gostowski kicks the FG, if Edwards catches the ball in the end zone, and if the Dolphins make a couple more first downs, the Cards are 1-3. Would we be saying how amazing Kolb is if that was the case? Let's give it some time before crowning his ass.

Also, Kolb's face looks really fat. He has the face of a 400 pound guy, it just looks funny.

117 Re: Audibles: Week 4

This is silly. Kolb may end up being a passable NFL starter, but he's never been a passable NFL starter yet. Vick has gotten his teams to the playoffs on a number of occasions. Vick's YPA (as noted above) is better, and he isn't throwing to Larry Fitzgerald.

Of course, neither player should be ridden too hard given that these are two of the most patchwork offensive lines in the league.

125 Re: Audibles: Week 4

"he's never been a passable NFL starter yet"

He's been Player of the Week twice. So at minimum, he's been more than a passable starter 10% of the time. And yeah, he has Fitzgerald, but it's not like Jackson, Maclin, and Avant are worthless.

Ultimately, for my money, there are probably 20 starting QBs better than Vick, and I'll include Kolb on that list.

153 Re: Audibles: Week 4

An interesting off the top of the head challenge.....

By division.......

Brady
Roethlisberger, Flacco, Dalton
Schaub, Luck
P.Manning, Rivers
E.Manning, R.G. III, Romo
Rodgers, Stafford, Cutler (maybe), Ponder (maybe)
Brees, Ryan, Newton
Smith

.....so I count 16-18. It's difficult to be precise about these things, but it really is hard to to put Vick in the top half. He'll have his moments, on both the good and bad side; my impression is that his variance is significantly higher than is typical among NFL starting qbs.

163 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I think its way too early to say Luck and tannehill, and Smith has the benefit of playing for a loaded team where he doesn't have to even remotely carry his football team. He even openly admits to avoid picks at the sake of taking sacks. Its important to remember, Vick also improves your running game as the running qb effect. Otherwise, agree with your list

167 Re: Audibles: Week 4

The Niners have the better offensive line, but the Eagles have pretty darned good receivers, and their defense has played very well. Vick has plenty of talent around him, and the Eagles being at risk for being 0-4 at this point is in good measure Michael Vick's fault.

178 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Luck, RG3, Romo, Ponder, Smith, Cutler as magically 'better' are all laughable responses - guys who have never done anything or won anything -- yet in some cases. Flacco isn't noticeably better having seen almost his entire career incl college games. Dalton is pretty meh so far.

Brady, Big Ben, Schaub, Peyton if healthy, Eli, Rivers, Rodgers, Stafford [if healthy], Brees, Ryan are all better. That's 10.

Tier 2 - Vick, Romo, Cutler, Flacco, Dalton, Newton.

Maybe later - Smith, Ponder, Luck, RG3. Likely on 2 of those to improve.

It was Philly's D that lost 5 4th Q leads last year, not Vick. If Jim Johnson had still be around, or even Sean McDermott, they could have been 13-3.

Vick is 56-38 as a starter, 18-10 in Philly. Put that up against anyone outside of the top 10 and the only one remotely close is Flacco. 65% win percentage.

In Philly, he's completed over 60%, 7.8ypa, 44 TD, 26 INTs, 13 rush TDs.

Romo has same ypa, less win%, no rush value, higher INT%.
Flacco has worse ypa, better win%, less rush value.
Cutler has worse ypa, worse win%, terrible personality, little rush value, much higher INT%.
Dalton and Cam not enough data yet.

Rush splits 36 ypg, 13 TDs for Vick in 28 starts in PHL [46/34 lifetime] vs
Cutler in Chicago 11/3
Romo 4.4/4
Flacco 6/5.

180 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Vick and Cutler have been to an equal number of conference championship games, kind of kills your "hasn't won anything" argument.

268 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Vick has higher win% both career and PHL alone, and is better in every QB metric than Cutler the past few years.

The point was neither Cutler, nor Vick, had won anything so that can't be used as a reason to pick Cutler, who has been mostly terrible in recent years, over Vick. [Ditto for Romo and the others named. Ryan and Schaub have never won anything at all, but have better passing numbers so it makes sense that people like them better as a QB]

But your attempt to cherry-pick one data point on a stats-heavy website in an attempt to dodge the question is transparently laughable.

270 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Actually my point was that using the "WINNING!" argument for a single player is ridiculous and I was attempting to make it look so.

272 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Right, so keep ignoring all the QB stats aside from pure W/Ls that show Vick to be a better QB and changing the subject.

Your lack of anything fact-based whatsoever to back up your inflated opinion of Cutler is very convincing! You win!!

273 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Right, so keep ignoring all the QB stats aside from pure W/Ls that show Vick to be a better QB and changing the subject ad infinitum.

Your lack of anything fact-based whatsoever to back up your inflated opinion of Cutler is very convincing! You win!!

207 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I would take Vick (for this year only, not as a developmental player) over:

RGIII
Luck
Cutler
Ponder
Smith

And about dead even with Newton and Dalton. And if Stafford keeps playing like this...

I think he's solidly a top-half starter in the league, and that most of the kvetching to the contrary is more about his rap sheet than his accomplishments. His 2010 was very, very impressive, and his 2011 was not precisely bad given how often he was playing hurt.

The dude is legit, and has been for a while now.

210 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Of course, the fact that he gets hurt a lot is a good reason to not prefer him to some other guys.

269 Re: Audibles: Week 4

But Stafford gets hurt more and misses significantly more time, in fact, over 3x as many games: 19 to only 6 starts for Vick past few years.

So why the massive blind spot?

What makes Stafford, who has Calvin Johnson to throw to,isn't very mobile, and can't stay healthy or upright so much better than Vick?

It sure seems like you are picking the 'best' of Stafford and Cutler and comparing them to the 'worst' of Vick. Yeah, I'll take a 100% healthy Stafford over an injured Vick, sure, but that seems like a stupid comparison...

271 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Oh, and Cutler has missed more starts [and more time if you include the Playoffs] than Vick past 3 years. So that's yet another black mark against Jay that no one bothered to include.

And Schaub has missed 2 more starts incl playoffs than Vick.

Gee, sure seems like Vick is healthier than you guys give him credit for.

Very curious, Will, as to why you don't penalize other QBs for their injuries, only Vick.

Why the blind spot? Is it simply more fun to make lazy generalizations about him because of his past, his time in Atlanta, or other?

Romo has also missed more time than Vick since 2010.

Big Ben has missed the same amount. Smith has missed the same amount of starts. Bradford also the same. Cassel has missed more time.

In fact, the list of QBs who have been missed fewer starts than Vick the last few years is pretty much: Eli, Rivers, Brees, Brady, Ryan, Rodgers -- and some of those guys have also missed plenty of time in the past to injury.

I have no trouble with taking any of the above 6 above Vick, that's pretty much the 'Elite' list everyone agrees on, with maybe Big Ben inserted also. Vick is somewhere btw 11-14 if you assume Stafford and Peyton are 100%. Otherwise he moves up to the 9-12 range if you are penalizing each QB equally & fairly for their missed starts due to injury.

Going fwd is a different story - we'd probably take all the stud rookie QBs over Vick for post-2012 play. He is 32 after all.

274 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I'm part of a secret society dedicated to anti-Vickian activities. We have a secret handshake and everything. You're on to me.

More seriously, I make no effort to treat these ranking exercises with anything approximating thoroughness. I've watched Vick be inconsistent for many years now, and am probably tired of it, but that doesn't mean I'm a member of the Stafford Fan Club either.

161 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I won't include any rookies. IMO, they all have grades of "Incomplete" at this point. Still, the first 15 or so are fairly easy.

Manning, Romo, Rodgers, Stafford, Newton, Ryan, Brees, Brady, Rapistburger, Flacco, Schaub, Rivers, Palmer, Manning, Dalton.

Kolb, of course. That's what started the whole debate.

Then we get into ones where there's at least some room for discussion. Alex Smith, Jay Cutler, Sam Bradford.

That's 19. Which would put the dogkiller right at #20.

But look on the bright side. That puts him ahead of Locker, Gabbert, Cassel, Sanchez, Fitzpatrick and Freeman.

And each week, the hits take another toll.

EDIT: Just noticed I didn't include Ponder. In truth, I don't know what to make of him yet, so add him to the "incomplete" pile with the rookies.

165 Re: Audibles: Week 4

This debate about Kolb is a bit mystifying. Kolb was at one point unable to beat out skelton and lets be honest- what has been the big difference between arizona being an 8-8 team with the kolb/skelton combo vs this years 4-0 team? The defense and more probably, the schedule. Kolb has been about the same- mediocre and people forget, but for large portions of that Miami game, cards had tons of scoreless drives. Vick may be fading fast, but his running ability and overall passing abilities edge out kolb, who not only is a mediocre non short thrower, kolb considerably worse under pressure than the average qb.(so does vick incidentally- but at least vick can scramble away)

223 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I'd definitely say that Kolb is in the "incomplete" column as well as the 1st and 2nd year QBs.

------
FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

169 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I'll go with mine.

I agree with your first 15 other than Dalton (I think too early), but replace him with Cutler. SO that's 15.

I honestly don't think Vick is any worse than Smith or Dalton. I think he is better than Kolb and Bradford. He's in that 16-19 range.

I guess it wasn't as ludicrous as I first thought, but I think Vick is better than the QB from Weeks 1-3.

172 Re: Audibles: Week 4

It may be mathematically self-evident, but I think people overlook how damnably difficult it is to be the 16th best starting qb in the NFL.

173 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I think it is difficult to outright say that Stafford, Newton, and Dalton are better than Vick, much less Kolb.

Now, do not misunderstand me -- I think Newton could grow into a much better quarterback than Vick would ever hope to be, but I think he should model himself on Rodgers, not Vick. Also, I have always held the belief that Stafford is really just volume and not actual skill and the Lions definitely need to shop or drop him. Dalton is still out for me and it seems like every time I hear his name it is just because he bombed something to Green. With all that said, I do not think anybody could look at Vick's body of work and Kolb's body of work and say "Kevin Kolb is absolutely better than Michael Vick as a quarterback."

Based on your history of disliking Michael Vick, I would say you are ranking him such because you dislike him as a person. That is fine, but let us not cross our "bad quarterback" and "bad person playing quarterback" rankings -- see, Rapistburger.

P and E Manning, Romo, Rodgers, Ryan, Brees, Brady, Roethlisberger, Flacco (a true maybe), Schaub, Rivers, Palmer (right there with Flacco), I could understand. That is 12 players definitely/arguably better and three more that are fast approaching (again, arguably) his skill level. That puts him comfortably in the top-half of the league.

It is what it is, man. Like him or hate him, he is definitely better than Kolb. I think only you and Kolb's family are likely to argue the other way.

175 Re: Audibles: Week 4

In reply to by Keith(1) (not verified)

Nobody can get Vick's body of work to start a game for them this year. What you are going to get is Michael Vick in 2012. Still fast, but not as fast as he used to be. Likely more subject to injury than he has been in the past, which entailed a lot of injuries. Based on what we have seen so far, still subject to stretches of horrid decision-making. He's a guy, like nearly every guy past 30, on the physical decline, who has not shown himself to be appreciably, consistently, better, in the mental aspects of the position.

177 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Is it then a question of where vick is now where vick will be even a year from now? I agree, two years from now, mike vick WILL NOT be a starting qb in this league. But the question is right now. And i agree, vick is somewhere in the 13-16 range, depending on your perspective.

Ill do one for the hell of it:

The ones that are no question better:
P&E Manning, Brady, Rodgers, Roethlisburger, Rivers

The solidly better:
Ryan, Flacco, Schaub, Romo,

The maybe but still slightly better:
Cutler, Palmer

The toss ups:
Andy Dalton, Matt Stafford

The sleepers:
Alex Smith, Newton

So, depending on where your cutoff of maybe and toss ups stand, vick is no worse than 13-17, right about where I figure he is. Strictly as a passer- vick is below average, but factoring in everything, he falls about there imo.

193 Re: Audibles: Week 4

You forgot Brees in the "no question better" category. And no way is Palmer better or even a toss up. At his peak before his injury, Palmer definitely was beter than Vick and was right on the cusp of the elite category. Now he is among the bottom 10 starting QBs in the league. Brett Favre probably would be a better QB than Palmer right now.

214 Re: Audibles: Week 4

This seems like a fun game to play.

What many people are overlooking is Vick's variance. On any given day, he could easily be one of the top 5 QBs in the NFL. But most of the time he's not.

I'd go with
Tier I: Brady, Brees, Rodgers
Tier IA: P. Manning, until we're certain about his arm.
Tier II: E. Manning, Ryan, Flacco, Rivers

beyond this point there's a cloud of QBs of roughly equal ability, each flawed in some way:
Schaub, Roethlisberger, Vick, Romo, Cutler, Smith, Newton

Stafford still has only one respectable season so I don't want to put him in this tier. Luck and Griffin will be there soon enough.

I'm a bit suspicious of the claim that Vick is the 20th best QB, esp. when it's comingled with the term "dogkiller." Somebody is begging to be accused of bias. While I wouldn't put Vick in the top 10, it seems ridiculous to put Luck, Ponder, Alex Smith, and the like clearly ahead of him.

228 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Not to be a manning homer(if that makes any sense), but just off what i've seen so far, hes elite and right there with the Brees, Rodgers, and Brady. From what Ive seen, its the receivers that have had to adjust to him, not so much him needing to adjust to being back.

Couple other points- Big ben is definitely better than vick, im not sure why hes not with eli, flacco, ryan and rivers- hes more boom and bust than those guys, but his highs are elite enough to push him there. why aren't shaub and romo not considered at least probable in terms of being better? They have both been far more consistent than vick over a large enough sample size. Adding those, that puts the count to 11 and I think cutler in vick's shoes would be better, so thats 12 easily. The rest are more subjective I would agree- personally, i prefer stafford to current Vick.

Beyond that, i agree with you- people are overreacting. Smith maybe a popular media guy now, but id be surprised if most FO readers believe smith is an above average qb. Same with Ponder- who is getting undue credit for the vikings surprising record.

262 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Kinda funny to read these after watching Romo lay the biggest egg of his career on MNF. Wonder if he'd be that high in people's rankings if they made them on Tuesday instead of Monday.

179 Re: Audibles: Week 4

You're right you don't get a 'career' Vick this year.

You get a guy with similar ypg to Ryan and Romo, higher ypa than Brees, Stafford, and Rodgers, playing behind a significantly worse O-line [which aren't you supposed to account for at this site, missing their Center, best OL in Peters, AND Peters backup?]

Anyone who would look at Cutler this year - using your logic of 2012 performance - and pick him over Vick, is simply a hater.

Oh, and Vick has been missing his best WR for about 70% of the time due to injury and ineffectiveness. Perhaps missing 2 of the 3 most important people/best players on the PHL offense that surround Vick has something to do with it?

186 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Funny, last week it was implied I was a hater of Cutler. Neither has been impressive this year. I might pick Cutler over Vick simply because Cutler was better last year, with really terrible support, prior to getting injured. I wouldn't fight a hard battle, however, to get either one of them instead of the other guy.

181 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Trusting a blogger like Tanier, whom I love, over a truly talented, expert QB evaluator like Andy Reid makes no sense whatsoever. Whether or not he likes Kolb is irrelevant, this discussion plays into Andy's key strength.

Andy knew that McNabb was going to be the franchise as a rookie. He developed him into an MVP candidate.
He also knew when McNabb had no more value left.

He grabbed Garcia off the dust-pile and won a playoff game with him.

He developed Feeley and Kolb into 2nd rd picks and got a king's ransom for Kolb, and a 2nd rounder for Feeley.

He knew Vick was a better QB, even rusty, in 2010 than Kolb, and Vick won the division after not starting since 2006.

He drafted Nick Foles who looks like he may be the real deal someday, and cut Kafka who wasn't, keeping Trent Edwards over him. Foles in preseason looked wayyyy better than a normal 4th roundpick and went against NFLX starters in multiple games.

182 Re: Audibles: Week 4

"He knew Vick was a better QB, even rusty, in 2010 than Kolb, and Vick won the division after not starting since 2006."

Then why did he start Kolb first?

194 Re: Audibles: Week 4

This is why its difficult to compare qbs- we like to look at ypa and other stats but the problem is, none of their respective situations are comparable. Thats why its inherently subjective and you have to use a lot of judgement when it comes to stats combined with their respective circumstances.

I think its pretty obvious that flacco and ryan are better than vick. Ditto for schaub and romo- who are still far more consistent than vick.

The real cutoff seems to fall on the cutler, palmer, stafford level- guys who feel as inconsistent as vick but don't have vicks scrambling. With these qbs, i take into account circumstances. Vick's o line isn't as good as last year, but its no where near as lousy as cutler's. Stafford's o line may not be great either, but up till recently, he's felt more consistent than vick. Ditto for palmer.

Sure, Vick is capable of having monster games with his legs and making killer deep passes- but hes also the same guy capable of fumbling over and over, possessing a david carr like ability of taking sacks, throwing 100 mph short passes ahead or behind receivers, and failing to go through progressions when defenses take away his first. The end result leaves vick as the most variable qb in the league and considering the fact that most fans and coaches prefer consistency over boom and bust, it really dampens vick's overall performance.

267 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Romo, huh? You may want to recheck that.

Stafford has missed 19 games in 3 years so far, significantly more than Vick. Gotta mark him down for that if you're honest.

Ryan and Schaub are better. Flacco is same category, he's worse on all the metrics but W/L. [And he's the only comparable one who is better than Vick in that Dept.]

I don't know where you get the nonsense that Vick is some 'boom/bust' type QB, you just made that up. He hasn't thrown a '100mph behind a WR' that I've seen the past few years. Good to hold onto those 2003 impressions though.

'Palmer feels more consistent.' Do you realize how laughable this is at this site? Jeez.

19 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Greg Zuerlein is pretty incredible. I know Kickers keep getting better and better each year in terms of leg strength, but Gregatron might be the league's best kicker already. I haven't seen many Rams highlights outside of Red Zone, but I have never seen a team as confident in their kicker from 60 yards in as the Rams seem to be when Zuerlein is kicking.

He might set the record for longest field goal this year. Some of his 50+ yard kicks this year and in the preseason had another dozen yards to spare over the crossbar.

26 Re: Audibles: Week 4

At one point, the Rams chose not to attempt a 65 yarder, and a smattering of fans actually booed the decision. Zuerlein is rapidly becoming a folk hero among the tens and tens of Rams fans.

34 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I think in the right circumstance, they will attempt it this year. I think the concern with field goals of that length is if it does miss, the other team is set up at midfield already.

36 Re: Audibles: Week 4

In reply to by stephenbawesome

That's how Connor Barth's 57 yarder looked yesterday. Do the Rams play the Bucs this year? If so I recommend just using a HORSE style field goal competition to decide it that way we don't have to watch either team's offense.

38 Re: Audibles: Week 4

In reply to by Zieg (not verified)

They did that one year with David Akers and Adam Vinatieri at the Pro Bowl skills competition. It was sort of fun to watch.

20 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I was disappointed that the Packers could not generate more of a pass rush against the Saints. Brees is great and was making some great throws. The Packer linebackers stink in coverage which was exploited by the Saints nonstop yesterday.

Mike McCarthy forced himself to run the ball a bit more yesterday. I know it galled him to do so but at least it happened. For a guy who presents himself as a guy who likes physical football he sure coaches a namby-pamby approach. And wasting that one challenge early on a call that was not that hard to see was not going to be overturned was just silly.

James Jones is loving the new league where you have to have strong hands to break away from defensive backs and create separation. Jones isn't fast but he is easily the strongest/toughest Green Bay receiver. He mixed it up with the Seattle secondary quite well and New Orleans took their shots and Jones gave as good as he got. I was surprised Jordy Nelson picked it up this weekend. Nelson got pushed around against the Seahawks. And in a physical game Greg Jennings has almost no chance especially battling an injury.

Finley held onto the ball yesterday. That was nice to see.

Sam Shields got abused yesterday and this after starting to build a case that he had turned around from his awful 2011.

But no mention of one gutsy fourth down call backed up inside his 20 McCarthy has his team run for a first down on a fake punt? That might have been the play of the game

31 Re: Audibles: Week 4

In reply to by bigtencrazy (not verified)

That fake punt was the play that won the game for the Pack, IMO.

They marched down field after that to score, which also had the effect of hurting the Saints' defense's confidence.

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Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

32 Re: Audibles: Week 4

In reply to by bigtencrazy (not verified)

The Packers special teams haven't looked this good since their Superbowl year...their 96 Superbowl year.

They are getting good returns from Cobb, the kick coverage has been extremely solid (not to mention getting jobbed again on the non-fumble call on the kick return), plus the fake field goal for a touchdown against the Bears, and the gutsy, gutsy first down run by Kuhn on the fake punt. I don't know what they've figured out but I like it.

22 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Looks like the Eagles might have their Corner situation solved. Both Hughes and Boykin look like keepers. Hughes looks like the guy they’ve been seeking for years – a slot corner who can move outside in injury situations. Patterson and Hanson could play the slot, but neither one could step up if a starter went down. Hughes might just be that guy.

If McNabb had one-hopped that throw to Jackson in the second quarter, the fans in Philly would have gone ballistic. It didn’t matter much, as the Eagles ended up getting a TD on that drive anyway, but man, what a different reaction.

On the other side, my sister is a big Giants fan. She constantly refers to “Good Eli” and “Bad Eli.” I think those terms don’t need explaining around here. There is some truth to that, though. If you don’t see “Bad Eli” early, you don’t win too often. I was all set to chalk this up to a Giants win when we saw our first glimse of “Bad Eli” in the 4th.

I have to wonder what Vince was watching, though. The game's in the 4th quarter and he's grumbling about Reid passign too mcuh. During that string of McCoy rushes the TV boys don't notice, but Dallas Reynolds and Evan Mathis are just destroying people inside. I hope Ben is watching this.

Giving the devil his due, the dogkiller has his usual terrible throws, but tonight he seems to be following them up with good plays. And they end up as incompletions rather than turnovers.

Chase Blackburn did a phenomenal job blowing up the rollout on 3rd and goal. He didn’t get the tackle, but his penetration kept dogkiller from getting to the edge.

Kickoff returns are such a huge disparity tonight that even Collinsworth notices. He doesn’t notice that it’s been good for the Giants not just in returns but in coverage as well.

If Eli hadn’t thrown the INT, the whole two minute drill wouldn’t matter - the game would be already over. But if he’d pulled it off, Big Media swings from his nuts.

One last note: Al Michaels was particularly terrible. Usually, he’s fantastic, but you can clearly tell he’s a New York guy who hates Philly. And by the way, Al, there is no jail in Lincoln Financial Field. That was The Vet. It’s OK. This is only their 10th year in the building. You can’t be expected to know that or anything. Makes you think back to the obligatory Cheesesteak segment earlier in the broadcast, and the audible sneer in his voice when Michaels couldn’t resist saying he "prefers a New York.” Jackass.

28 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Actually, the Linc was built with a holding cell because of the old "Eagles Court" in the Vet. But the cell has never been used, because right about then the team got serious about controlling fan misbehavior, and Eagles court was abolished.

So the Vet had a court and the Linc doesn't, but the Linc has a holding cell and the Vet didn't.

119 Re: Audibles: Week 4

The Eagles special teams have been horrible all season, so this is nothing new - just new to NBC.

24 Re: Audibles: Week 4

As a Wisconsin alum, I am happy that Watt's game has translated well into the NFL. I thought he was going to be awesome because he was all kinds of awesome as a Badger but you are never 100 percent sure.

Aaron Kampman was an oustanding DE in the league for a few years because he was outstanding in using his hands and had a nonstop motor. JJ is a bigger, stronger version of Kampman and that is a crazy good combination.

57 Re: Audibles: Week 4

I'm on record on this site as predicting Watt would be a beast in the NFL partly because of his hands - he is a very sure tackler, bats passes away frequently, and moves OLs around with impunity - but I'm surprised he's this good. Texans have done a very good job using him in their pass rush schemes.

29 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Quoth Aaron: "For a play to be the option, don't you need to have, you know, an option?"

For a play to be a Wildcat, you need to have an unbalanced line and a back coming in motion at the snap, but that never stopped NFL announcers from terming every play with someone other than the starting quarterback receiving a shotgun snap a "Wildcat". Brad Smith in a Pistol formation running an option sweep? "Wildcat!"

35 Re: Audibles: Week 4

If they called a Texas A&M game and saw Johnny Manziel running the Air Raid and using a lot of pistol formations with a few designed runs, they'd claim every snap was a Wildcat.

59 Re: Audibles: Week 4

The definition of "option" is simpler and more widely known than the definition of "Wildcat." I think it's reasonable to ask announcers not to use the word "option" on a play when there are no options other than a QB run.

70 Re: Audibles: Week 4

Personally, I think it's reasonable for football announcers to actually use all football terminology correctly. But seeing as how they continue to refer to "the shadow of their own end zone" and "catching the football at its highest point", I despair at their ability to get anything correct beyond "run", "throw", "left", and "right".

108 Re: Audibles: Week 4

The figure of speech is actually "shadow of their own goal line." Yes, I'm being a bit pedantic, but it makes sense if you think about it. It's implying that the ball is so close to the goal line that the shadow of the paint on the grass (turf) extends out to cover part of the ball. Hyperbole, sure, but brilliant hyperbole when it was new however many generations ago that was. Sadly, it's been dumbed down to the point where people don't even know what they're saying.