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

Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Audibles at the Line: Week 2
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

compiled by Rivers McCown and Andrew Potter

This year, we have a new format for our Monday morning feature Audibles at the Line, combining our Twitter feeds with our e-mail discussion. First, we're replacing our usual back-and-forth with some longer-form dissection of each game that at least one of us watches in depth. Second, every game that we find time for will also have a selection of tweets from us and a few reader tweets we found particularly insightful. To follow these tweets live on Sunday, or to contribute your own thoughts or a question for the FO staff, you can use hashtag #foaud. We discussed the new format in this post.

On Monday, we will compile a digest of tweets and e-mails to produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed, not entirely grammatically correct, and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

Audibles is still being written from our point of view, meaning 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. Audibles is often written from a fan perspective as much as an analyst perspective; in order to properly accuse FO writers of bias, please check our FAQ.

Feel free to comment not only about Sunday's games but about this new Audibles format. It's still a bit of a work in progress.

Also, this week's Audibles may be a bit skimpy because of personal and family illnesses.

San Diego Chargers 33 at Philadelphia Eagles 30

Tweets

@pchicola: The "New Chargers" look pretty much like the "Old-Chargers". Surrendering leads, turnovers.

Scott Kacsmar: Eddie Royal making a play. Did Twitter exist in 2008? This might be the first time that was tweeted.

Andrew Potter: Malcom Floyd on the way to hospital after being tackled into DeMeco Ryans crossing the field. Huge impact. Crumpled instantly.

Aaron Schatz: Eagles with massive blown coverage, somehow drop 8 into coverage yet leave Eddie Royal wide open on the sideline, in the red zone.

@unkleskillz: We can talk about Kelly and speed all day, but he gets his playmakers more open than anyone else.

@MilkmanDanimal: Eagles being an unstoppable offensive juggernaut lasted 1 week; TV talking heads scramble in panic for something new to talk about.

Andrew Potter: Looking awfully like Eagles being offensive juggernaut was wrong story; real story is Redskins defense is terrible.

Scott Kacsmar: Every cellphone in San Diego just buzzed a very loud "Philip Rivers Turnover Alert." Eagles up 27-23

Mike Ridley: Play count: SD 71, PHI 54. Raise your hand if you called that.

Dallas Cowboys 16 at Kansas City Chiefs 17

Tweets

@GFarri1: Dontari Poe is scary.

Ben Muth: Frederick dips his head and Poe abuses him with a swim move. Poe looked ridiculously quick on his move.

@GFarri1: All Romo to Dez on that drive. Impressed the Cowboys got a snap off after a 38 yard play before KC could get a good look at the replay.

@RobertGrebel: Not blocking DeMarcus Ware seems like kind of a terrible strategy.

Scott Kacsmar: Romo strip-sacked. Will this resonate since the game's not in prime time?

Ben Muth: Romo really trying to throw a pick here but the refs and Chiefs are conspiring against him.

Peter Koski: Loved that last 16-yard run by Jamaal Charles. Lots of patience, acceleration, cuts and burst mixed into one run.

Miami Dolphins 24 at Indianapolis Colts 20

Tweets

Aaron Schatz: Great block by Tyson Clabo on WR screen TD for Mike Wallace. Underrated pickup by MIA and very underrated loss for ATL.

Cian Fahey: Tweeted about it all last week, MIA had to use Wallace on screens. He's lethal on them.

Aaron Schatz: Here's something you never heard about the Colts defense during even the worst Polian defenses -- they look *slow*.

@grantbosse: The Colts have decided that instead of regressing to the mean, they'll crash right through it.

@GFarri1: The Indianapolis defense is very, very bad.

Mike Ridley: DHB's hands are looking vastly improved over his #Raider days.

@Stephen1141: Miami sure knows how to find these scrappy little white slot receivers, Hartline is a Welker 2.0

Aaron Schatz: Hartline isn't a scrappy little white slot receiver. He's an outside receiver, 6-foot-2. He just happens to be pale.

@Shake1n1bake: TY Hilton is unreal, the Colts are going to have to start playing him in their base O, absurd to keep him as situational use

Scott Kacsmar: Donald Brown stopped on 3rd-and-1. If the Colts really wanted that conversion...

Scott Kacsmar: 3 penalties in the entire Colts/Dolphins game and 0 on Miami? That does smell like BS.

Longform

Aaron Schatz: My biggest takeaway from the Colts-Dolphins game was how bad the Colts defense looked. They had trouble in coverage, they looked out of position, and they looked slow. They did get some pressure on Ryan Tannehill, but it was too easy for him to find receivers. Not to take away from the game he played -- he's the one who had to find those guys, and he did. He looked very good. If you watched only one game with these guys at quarterback, you wouldn't think that Andrew Luck was considered better than Tannehill. And weird as it sounds, despite how horrid the Colts' line was a year ago, and despite the addition of Tyson Clabo for the Dolphins, Luck actually had better protection than Tannehill did.

Oh, and Brent Grimes is still pretty good. It's always nice to have him healthy and playing well.

Rivers McCown: That's no surprise, they looked awful against Terrelle Pryor last week, as well. Blowing contain left and right.

Scott Kacsmar: Only two data points per team, but when you consider how Indy did against Miami (compared to Cleveland) and Oakland (compared to Jacksonville), you have to wonder if the Colts aren't somehow worse on defense this year.

Tennessee Titans 24 at Houston Texans 30 (OT)

Tweets

Ben Muth: Oh my, Danieal Manning. Have to be ready to defend yourself out there.

Tom Gower: Nice throw by Locker to Wright for the TD. McCain had pretty good coverage. Also corner route from slot in Red Zone seems to be the new thing.

Aaron Schatz: Gotta ask @ThomasGower how for real the Titans D is. Second straight big game with same personnel that were awful in 2012.

@RaiderJoe_FO: z. Brown rreal deal. Morgan good. Verner goodn . goodnpalyers there

Tom Gower: Chance Warmack in pass protection = bad news for Jake Locker too often. Just beat by Watt for a sack.

Tom Gower: Matt Schaub's been uncomfortable & off all game. Credit to the #Titans D for making him that way. Second awful-looking pick.

Andrew Potter: Awful, awful interception by Schaub. Two Titans defenders had a chance at the ball, receiver didn't.

Scott Kacsmar: Same thing in Houston, if not better. A 25-16 lead with 4:59 left pretty damn good. 23-16 still nice w/way Schaub's playing.

Tom Gower: Why didn't Mike Munchak immediately call timeout, to preserve time after a potential made FG?

@scott_tanner1: wait, why didn't the titans call a TO with 15 seconds left? now they're just guaranteeing the FG is the last play of the game

Andrew Potter: He clearly thinks icing the kicker is the higher percentage play.

Andrew Potter: Oh great. Now we get the one time a year that awful pre-FG timeout works, used to justify wasting timeouts in countless other games.

Rivers McCown: Matt Schaub should pay for every meal Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins have this week.

Longform

Tom Gower: I don't know what to make of this game. Both teams drove the field on their first possession without too much difficulty. After that, it mostly settled down into a slugfest between two teams that couldn't execute offensively. The Titans were actually blocking pretty well, but Chris Johnson can't be the lead back if you want a sustaining run game. Jake Locker had some decent throws and some misses.

Defensively, I think the Titans played good coverage most of the game with cornerbacks Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner. The Texans line really struggled to protect Matt Schaub. There wasn't a single defensive lineman who stood out to me the way Jurrell Casey did last week, but Zach Brown was extraordinarily active again and finished with a team-high 12 tackles. In the final three minutes, though, the Texans drove the field twice without too much difficulty, with a lot of the damage by DeAndre Hopkins, who'd been mostly silent until then.

The best sidenote was Randy Bullock's field goal attempt at the end of the game to win in regulation. Attempt #1: He lined up to try from 51 and hooked it, except Mike Munchak called time out to ice him. Attempt #2 was blocked, but the Titans were offsides. Attempt #3 was good, but Mike Munchak called his second icing timeout (permitted, due to the intervening penalty play). Attempt #4 bonked off the left upright, and we got to overtime and DeAndre Hopkins' end-game heroics.

Aaron Schatz: Where do you think the improvement in the Tennessee defense is coming from, Tom? General improvement by Brown and Casey? How much of it might be Gregg Williams' schemes?

Tom Gower: It looks like general improvement from Brown and probably Casey, too, is part of it. The corners both played okay at times in the past. Even though Jerry Gray is still the coordinator, it doesn't look like the same defense from last year. They've been doing a lot with pressure packages in particular, and neither the Steelers nor the Texans have handled those well. From a Pouncey-less Steelers line that was no surprise, but the Texans looked worse than I thought. Then again, they did against San Diego, too ... I'm still not sure if this is an Arizona-like mirage or something potentially sustainable. We might not know next week either, as San Diego probably can't protect any better.

Rivers McCown: I thought Matt Schaub played a horrible game. Tennessee's defense really seemed to get in his head by big blitzing him on crucial downs, and the Texans only seemed to exacerbate that with a frustrating tendency to go empty. They did this a lot in San Diego, and I'd guess they did it about 40 percent of the time in this game too. Then there was the pick-six, which was nowhere near DeAndre Hopkins and was later confirmed to be a quarterback mistake. Certainly, if you were in the camp that Schaub wasn't good enough to quarterback this team to wins against good teams, nothing he did in these first two games changed your mind. The optimist's view is that Hopkins is already "throw it up and let him go get it" good. That's something. Tennessee played well, but I would be more inclined to credit their defensive coaching than their talent.

Seemed like the Titans had some good keys and fits against the Houston defense early on in the run game. After those seized up, Tennessee was essentially stagnant outside of their 99-yard no-huddle drive. Every time an offense does something that makes the Houston defense play reactive -- whether it's no-huddle, a draw, a spread overload -- it seems to cut to the heart of the aggressive Wade Phillips scheme and they don't really know what to do about it.

Washington Redskins 20 at Green Bay Packers 38

Tweets

Peter Koski: Awesome one-armed bull rush by Kerrigan to get the sack. Then he runs a nice loop stunt for a second straight sack.

@pchicola: Packers having serious issues blocking straight 5 man pressures by WAS. Add a few stunts & crosses and things get messier for Rodgers.

@Coboney: Apparently packers believe blocking is optional. Waste of time, money and everything. Line looks every bit as bad as worried about.

@pchicola: 5men pressure was disrupting GB O-Line. Going Rush3-Drop8, Haslett is inviting Rodgers to dissect secondary. TD Nelson.

Aaron Schatz: I'm watching MIA-IND, here's a question for those watching GB-WAS. Would Kirk Cousins be better than hobbled RG3 right now?

Aaron Schatz: Lack of WAS running game may be related to lack of fear of Griffin running. Mobile QB generally open up game for RB.

Andrew Potter: In what would be a huge play in any other game, J. Jones fumbles for a touchback stretching out at the 1-yard line. Still 24-0 though.

@toxic: RG3's knee is clearly not 100%, and he is stinking up the joint, but this in no way explains the Skins defense's inability to tackle.

Aaron Schatz: Question is: Where do WAS def struggles come from? Same D as last year, plus got Orakpo back.

@matthew_carley: Could they be worn out from last week? Like 49ers after the Pats game last year?

@WhispersMoCo: WAS defense wasn't that great last season either. Also, GB offense is very good.

Andrew Potter: GB running game is awful, but Starks has 116yds & a TD on 13 carries. GB has 38pts in 3Qs.

Cleveland Browns 6 at Baltimore Ravens 14

Tweets

Scott Kacsmar: Ed Dickson can't scoop one up to start the game, which looks just like Week 1 for Baltimore.

@blotzphoto: Joe Flacco could use some receivers. Maybe he should buy some out of pocket.

@blotzphoto: Very impressed with the Browns defense so far today. Excellent tackling.

@chcameron: Ravens fans ready to sacrifice the cursed Flacco baby.

Scott Kacsmar: If you're Baltimore and you score a TD here, up 7-6 already, why not go for 2? I want to see this one time.

Andrew Potter: PAT more likely than 2pt conversion. If you're ahead, want to make other team take that gamble, not take it yourself.

Scott Kacsmar: But forcing a team to have to score twice now (1 TD at least) is worth that gamble. Defense's goal is unchanged; no TD.

Carolina Panthers 23 at Buffalo Bills 24

Tweets

Scott Kacsmar: Carolina's up 7-3 before halftime, putting them on schedule to blow another 4th-quarter lead.

@Daniels_Ryan: Cam Newton rifles a ball to Greg Olsen for a touchdown 13 seconds before halftime. That was a very hard throw into tight coverage

@Daniels_Ryan: Thomas Davis postpones the defensive collapse by chasing down CJ Spiller to turn an 80 yd TD run into a 46 yd run. Bills kick a FG.

Scott Kacsmar: San Diego and Carolina are going to get GWDs and the Colts will not. It's opposite day in the NFL.

@Daniels_Ryan: Panthers give up a touchdown with three seconds left, and lose again.

@JeremySchulze: Carolina defense tries to crush Steve Johnson with loneliness in the red zone.

Scott Kacsmar: Oh that's so Carolina. Ron Rivera might not make it to October.

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@Grubicho At some point, we need to just think Carolina stinks in close games. No more regressing to the mean.

@pchicola: Loved the fact that Bills blitzed the Hail Mary attempt. Most defenses just wait for the pass and pray... Good to be proactive

Scott Kacsmar: Ron Rivera almost has as many blown 4th-quarter leads (10) as he has wins (13) now.

Minnesota Vikings 30 at Chicago Bears 31

Tweets

Andrew Potter: Bears-Vikings starts with a special teams TD ... for the Vikings. Unexpected.

Scott Kacsmar: Remember when Vikings/Bears played one of the most unexpected 48-41 games ever in 2008? Don't think we're headed there today.

Aaron Schatz: Just a reminder: When Playmaker Score said Cord Patterson was high-risk talent, it meant as a WR. We never doubted him as a returner!

@matthew_carley: I decided to wait on posting the 'missing Dave Toub yet?' snark till Hester had his turn, which is smarter than kicking to those two.

@ptmovieguy: Anyone know what's game record for most ST yards combined? At least 3 long returns in Chi-Minn.

Andrew Potter: Devin Hester is still Devin Hester. Bears special teams is still Bears special teams. (Two minutes later.) Oh, and Bears offense is still Bears offense.

Scott Kacsmar: Jay Cutler needs a long cigarette break. Volleyball pick. Don't care.

@MilkmanDanimal: Minnesota's offense this year apparently based on crazy things happening repeatedly; seems totally sustainable long-term.

Scott Kacsmar: Tim Jennings continues to confuse Colts fans with his play in Chicago. Pick six.

Andrew Potter: Series after Culter's EZ INT Bears complete the hat trick as Jennings picks Ponder and scores. They are who we thought they were.

@TCBullfrog: #Bears get first defensive TD of year. On pace for 8 :). #Repeatable ?

Mike Ridley: Pondering, verb: the futile attempt to act like an #NFL quarterback.

Scott Kacsmar: If Christian Ponder throws a 20+ yard TD pass and no one sees it, did it really happen?

@ronJ_gupta: Martellus Bennett killed the Vikings. Of his 7 catches, 6 went for either a first down or a TD. Both TDs were caught on 3rd down.

New Orleans Saints 16 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14

Tweets

@zgeballe: Utterly brutal call against the Buccaneers. How are defensive players supposed to tackle if they can't lead with their shoulder?

@MilkmanDanimal: Dashon Goldson with his 3rd personal foul in 2 weeks; your best offense is letting Goldson hit your receiver.

@MilkmanDanimal: I think that's FIVE total personal fouls for hitting defenseless receivers against Tampa in a game and a half. Epically stupid plays.

Rivers McCown: I see Greg Schiano cares as much about helmet-to-helmet rules as he does about QB kneeldown etiquette.

@MilkmanDanimal: Goldson tries to strip the ball away instead of tackling, Graham carries him 10 more yards to the end zone. WRAP AND TACKLE.

Tom Gower: Mark Ingram on 90 flip will be the worst idea Sean Payton has this year.

Rivers McCown: Sean Payton will be a much better play caller when he just stops using Mark Ingram.

Tom Gower: I guess I should amend my earlier tweet to note "anything involving Mark Ingram" as Sean Payton's worst idea of the year.

Aaron Schatz: FO projection systems are far from perfect, but Speed Score was dead on about Mark Ingram.

@Broncfan07: The Saints will keep trying to justify Ingram being a 1st round pick, no matter how much it hurts.

Rob Weintraub: Nice to see that Lavonte David has bounced back from his moment of madness and is having a very good game against the Saints.

Rivers McCown: The “throw things at Vincent Jackson” offense was ruined by penalty.

Aaron Schatz: It drives me CRAZY when a great play is blown by some OL who is one or two steps too far away from the LOS. Happened in Eagles too

Rob Weintraub: Sean Payton was practically a lead blocker on Malcolm Jenkins INT return. Horrendous backfoot throw by Freeman.

Rivers McCown: If Greg Schiano and Jim Schwartz coached on the same team would there ever not be a penalty?

Longform

Tom Gower: This game is still going on, with Tampa holding a one-point lead with under 5 minutes to play as I write this, but Drew Brees just has these weird games where all his potential interceptions are indeed intercepted. This seems to happen a lot against Tampa, or maybe it doesn't and the games it does happen against Tampa just stand out to me. There's not much in common between the Schiano and Morris eras to make me think they're something Tampa-specific about it, aside from the Bucs' major penalty and discipline issues making me thing Schiano is as ill-fitted and unready to be an NFL head coach as Morris was.

Scott Kacsmar: Haven't watched much at all of this one, but Drew Brees has this tendency to have a stinker game or two (or four in some seasons) against an opponent you wouldn't expect. I think that's why he has never won a MVP. Look at 2011 and the losses he had against the Rams and Tampa Bay. This does seem to be another one of those days with two ugly picks as the Buccaneers try to run out the clock.

Tom Gower: And Greg Schiano needs a trip to the Marv Levy Seminar on the Wisdom of Settling for Long Field Goal Attempts, Especially With a Shaky Kicker.

Rivers McCown: Two weeks in a row!

Aaron Schatz: I do think that the decision to run three times and then settle for a 47-yard field goal was less about settling for a long field goal and more about forcing the Saints to use their third timeout, then taking as much time off the clock as possible.

Tom Gower: Yeah, I get that. I would have been perfectly fine with Schiano going for it on fourth down given that even a made field goal still puts you in a position to lose in regulation.

Aaron Schatz: OK, I took the time. I've been pretty honest about the fact that FO needs to work on an updated win expectancy model, so we'll use Brian Burke's for the moment. And this is interesting. If we are talking about the question of fourth-and-3 on the New Orleans 29, the Burke fourth down calculator actually says to punt.

If you go for it, you have a 57 percent chance of making it (assuming average offense and defense). If you make it, win chance is 99 percent. If you don't, win chance is 74 percent. So overall, win expectancy is 88 percent.

If you kick the FG, you make it 64 percent of the time. If you make it, win chance is 86 percent. If you don't, win chance drops to 74 percent. So overall, win expectancy is 82 percent.

If you punt, it says win expectancy is 89 percent. It sounds kooky, but you know the other team is going to get the ball on their own 20 instead of 29 (where it would be if you went for it and failed) and if you can coffin-corner it well, they get it even further back.

However, I think that if you consider the quality of the Saints offense -- you have to consider New Orleans more likely to score both a field goal and a touchdown compared to an average offense. So with that in mind, I think that the choice here would be to go for it.

Of course, an even better question -- and one that unfortunately neither we nor Burke have a well-built calculator for -- is whether the Bucs should have passed the ball instead of running on third-and-6, taking the chance they would stop the clock in exchange for a better chance at a first down that would ice the game.

Tom Gower: I wouldn't have screamed if Schiano had punted in that situation either. I'm not absolutely confident in the math; when you get into funky situations like that, I think the model may break down a bit, but with a subjective probability of a field goal under the hypothetical 64 percent, those numbers make a trip to the Levy Seminar even more worthwhile.

Sean McCormick: In fairness to old Marv, it's not like he had Thurman Thomas run the ball into the line three times. Buffalo just ran out of time to run any more plays.

Danny Tuccitto: Looks like Goldner qua Burke posted something on the Schiano decision.

Scott Kacsmar: Beating the drum for "we need updated win probability numbers," kickers have been getting better too. The last nine seasons are the nine best for league-wide field goal percentage. The 2012 season was the second-best ever and featured a record 92 field goals of 50 or more yards. It was just two years ago when that record was 66, so we've seen a big increase in long-distance field goals.

Rivers McCown: (Reads Scott's e-mail)
(Reads Randy Bullock's stat line)
(Reads Scott's e-mail)
(Reads Randy Bullock's stat line)

Scott Kacsmar: We'll let the record show the Texans drafted Randy Bullock in 2012 10 and 14 spots ahead of Greg Zuerlein and Blair Walsh while Justin Tucker was a free agent. Only a tiny number of good kickers will come out of college in a given year, and those are three of the best kickers in the league already, so the Texans picked the rotten apple.

Rivers McCown: While we're at it, lets also let the record show that the Texans cut loose Jacoby Jones and Trindon Holliday, willingly employed Shayne Graham for the entirety of the 2012 season, and finished dead last in special teams DVOA.

But special teams coordinator Joe Marciano is still around, don't worry! He even got a game ball last year!

Detroit Lions 21 at Arizona Cardinals 25

Tweets

Andrew Potter: Matt Stafford demonstrates value of strong arm even in short game. Laser to CJ almost right through Dansby, CJ takes it for TD.

Andrew Potter: Horrific pick-six by Carson Palmer, Detroit up by eight.

@MilkmanDanimal: Carson Palmer and Eli Manning having a competition to see who can deliver the ball to a DB most accurately.

Aaron Schatz: A lot of reporters on Twitter mentioning that DET had no def TDs last year, as if def TDs are consistent from year to year at all

Aaron Schatz: Whenever Karlos Dansby makes a tackle for the Cardinals, I now think of this. http://bit.ly/17BOUVk

Rob Weintraub: The Honey Badger wins the game for Arizona with a one-on-one tackle, brute force he wasn't supposed to have. #scouting

Rob Weintraub: Mathieu referred to as "Tyron Matthews" by the color guy. #sictransitgloria

Longform

Tom Gower: I saw little of this game aside from the last couple minutes, but I know I am not a fan of routes run short of the sticks on must-convert fourth downs, as Nate Burleson's was. Yes, credit to Tyrann Mathieu for an excellent tackle, but that's just a thing for me.

Jacksonville Jaguars 9 at Oakland Raiders 19

Tweets

@btmovieguy: The Wildcat lives in Oakland!

Andrew Potter: Goes without saying but Jags offense is horrific. First impression Henne slight upgrade over injured Gabbert. Damning praise indeed.

@ptmovieguy: Raiders lost Branch, now Jenkins is down. Depleted secondary means Jags can take advantage and pa-AHAHAHAHAHA

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Andrew Potter: Jaguars get their first points on offense of the season, still manage to look awful doing it. Surprised they got close enough for a FG.

@ptmovieguy: Pryor, under pressure, attempts Tebow-leap-pass, fumbles while tucking back in. O-lineman recovers.

@prmovieguy: Like many young QB's, Pryor's gotta learn to protect ball, and slide, when scrambling.

Andrew Potter: Jaguars have almost reached the point at which they should just punt on first down. Second-and-29 against the Raiders, of all teams.

Tom Gower: I tried watching the Jaguars-Raiders game, but it became too much of a struggle to watch JAX on O. Sorry.

@Shake1n1bake: It's probably not a record, but how far down on the list would 5 points in the first two games from the Jags rank if it holds?

Mike Ridley: #JacVsOak has 6 combined sacks today. These teams only had 45 combined last season.

Andrew Potter: Jaguars finally score a touchdown, Henne to Clay Harbor. Was beginning to think they'd never get one.

Rob Weintraub: Despite their overall ineptitude, the Jags are in position for the backdoor cover... #gambling

Mike Ridley: What's more offensive? Jacksonville's unis or their offense?

Andrew Potter: Their QBing. IMO Jags backs & receivers aren't bad players. Blackmon's the real deal. Gabbert/Henne, terrible.

Longform

Tom Gower: The Jaguars have looked prepared for Terrelle Pryor in a way the Colts did not (haven't seen today's game, of course, but this could be a really awful defensive unit again). Offensively, though, they're just awful. Chad Henne is not better than Blaine Gabbert. They can't run the ball. The passing offense is awful. I wanted to stay on this game as long as I could, but the Jaguars are a difficult team to watch on offense right now.

Denver Broncos 41 at New York Giants 23

Tweets

Scott Kacsmar: Brandon Myers just caught the first pass of his career with a 1st-quarter lead (probably not, but it feels like it).

@pchicola: Gameplan surprise of wk: NYG matching T.Thomas v Welker in slot. Physical but lacks fluidity. Still 83 non factor today.

Aaron Schatz: Giants are playing surprisingly good, tight coverage today.

Andrew Potter: Maybe it's really Welker kryptonite they have, when we all thought it was Patriots kryptonite?

@Foosball_Wizard: Beautiful, perfect pass on a fade route by Eli Manning to Dominique Rodgers Cromartie with 9 seconds left in the half.

Aaron Schatz: I'm afraid the best verb to describe the way JPP is rushing the quarterback today is "saunter." #nothealthy

Aaron Schatz: Danny Trevathan was one of the last players cut off the FOA 2013 Top 25 Prospects list. Whoops.

@LeeCasebolt: Real impressed with Denver's power run D. Less impressed with the zillion penalties they've committed.

Aaron Schatz: Broncos giving the Giants too many yards with penalties here. #potroasted

Aaron Schatz: Trindon Holliday is super fast, but remember: 1) returners rarely play at a high level for long, and 2) good blocking matters

Andrew Potter: Through two weeks, Broncos look untouchable as the best team in the AFC, possibly best team in the league.

@matthew_carley: The gap between Denver and the rest of the AFC could be pretty big. Texans and Bengals might be the nearest to them.

@Broncfan07: @FO_ASchatz Denver defense: 11/12 on 3rd down stops. Regression delayed another week.

Aaron Schatz: @Broncfan07 Wow. That's nuts. Totally unsustainable. Offense is so good it might not matter.

Rob Weintraub: Denver looking ominously like their destiny-- a team that will botch away a top seed at home come January...

Longform

Scott Kacsmar: So this was not the crisp shootout I expected. Both teams certainly had opportunities with their receivers for huge days, but Denver got it started in typical Denver fashion with a fumble near the goal line and the Giants had some big mistakes with drops and an Eli pick before halftime. Hell, he just threw another one in the end zone to end the game as I type this. Ultimately, Peyton more efficient and Knowshon Moreno stepped up with some big runs on a day where literally no one else could run the ball. Not surprising to see Peyton get Eric Decker involved early and often after his drops last week. Brandon Myers had a tough game for the Giants with the turf monster tripping him up for a potential touchdown, not to mention some big shots. Denver's no-name defense (on tour for a few more weeks unless Elvis finds a special brownie he can't pass up) got it done again though.

This was also another game where Denver turned a so-so start into a dominant second half. The Broncos have not trailed in the fourth quarter of 11 consecutive games, which is unusually long and great. That even includes the playoff loss to Baltimore, which is one stinging defeat this team cannot shake off, but outside of what Rahim Moore -- go figure he picks off a deep ball in the end zone on fourth down today -- did at the end of that one, this team has been playing some great football with wins by at least seven points in 13 of their last 14 games. This fit the mold of most of them, complete with Trindon Holliday muffing one kickoff and returning a punt for a touchdown. If they can ever clean up the little mistakes this is a juggernaut. Even with them, they look better than any team in the AFC.

Aaron Schatz: One of the real standout elements of this game to me was the way the Broncos completely destroyed the Giants' run game. They couldn't get anything. No holes whatsoever. I'll have to see the numbers once I run them, but my guess is that the Giants had the highest average "to go" on second down this week. Unfortunately, I didn't really watch closely enough to have an opinion on whether the issue here was the Giants' blocking or the Broncos' run defense.

Tom Gower: Aside from what Aaron and Scott wrote, the Broncos are just a better, more talented team than the Giants.

Sean McCormick: Just watched a bit of this, but it was noticeable how much of the Denver gameplan was built around attacking the outside linebackers with quick passes outside the numbers. Particularly early on, Peyton was either throwing quick outs, usually with some kind of rub action, or he was setting up quick screens that attacked the linebackers and forced them to move laterally and make a play when they got there. Considering the quality of the Giants linebackers, it's hardly a surprising strategy, I might add.

San Francisco 49ers 3 at Seattle Seahawks 29

Tweets

Aaron Schatz: Bearded Kaepernick looks pretty suave. I wonder what he would look like with one of those big Philly beards.

@matthew_carley: @FO_ASchatz I always thought Kaepernick looked like a French football/soccer player. The beard completes the look.

@RobertGrebel: That looks suspiciously like a chop block that took out Williams.

Aaron Schatz: Yes, but legal because it came from next OL over or something.

Aaron Schatz: The NBC graphic about read options reminds me of the difficulty of recognizing a read option vs. "play that just has a fake in it".

Aaron Schatz: SF gets very lucky when the officials don't see Justin Smith offside on a failed fourth-and-1.

Aaron Schatz: Seattle D-line really seems to be overwhelming the SF O-line in the first half.

Aaron Schatz: OK, Kaepernick just threw to a completely covered receiver instead of running for what seemed like an easy first down. What?

@matthew_carley: The Niners' run game has been pathetic through two weeks. They don't seem to have an answer for attacking 8 man fronts. Screen?

Peter Koski: Craig Dahl is no Eric Reid and it shows. He's covered up easily in run game and burned in pass game.

Danny Tuccitto: Whitner + Dahl

Rivers McCown: San Francisco's offensive line is getting worked. Anthony Davis is putting in a 2011 performance.

Aaron Schatz: @FO_RiversMcCown Well, good thing for Anthony Davis that he's not blocking for 2011's quarterback. Kaepernick is scrambling for yards

@matthew_carley: Moronic personal fouls by San Francisco have gifted the Seahawks what will probably be an unassailable lead.

Aaron Schatz: I wrote that the 49ers needed to depend on Vernon Davis to beat Seattle. And Vernon Davis is done for the game. So, yeah, over.

Longform

Aaron Schatz: When this game was 5-0 at halftime, before it got out of hand, I thought some people might see similarities between this game and the Jets-Patriots game from Thursday night. But they weren't similar at all. The Jets-Patriots game was what happens when two discombobulated offenses can't get anything done. This game was what happens when two defenses dominate. In the second half, the Seattle defense dominated a bit more, but in the first half it was both defenses. What stood out to me here was that the Seattle defensive line really pushed the San Francisco offensive line around. That's supposed to be the best line in football, but the Seahawks were stuffing the run and had Colin Kaepernick running for his life on pass plays. I think this is going to be phrased in a lot of places as "San Francisco needs to find its run game" but I think its more an issue of "San Francisco needs to figure out what's wrong with the offensive line, period."

Tom Gower: The ground attacks were really the story of this game to me. Whatever the 49ers are doing that is so effective against everyone else in the NFL simply doesn't seem to work nearly as well against Marshawn Lynch. Maybe it's just his running style (does he have an exceptionally good broken tackle rate?), maybe it's just something, but I keep expecting the typical 49ers run defense to show up against the Seahawks and it just hasn't happened. That was not what I expected after Carolina did a nice job of limiting him last week.

Meanwhile, the key to San Francisco's offense the past two seasons has been their powerful offensive line. I could understand Green Bay last week, since I think the Packers may have had an underrated defense, but seeing it happen again suggests the possibility there are major problems there. Maybe there aren't and it's just an early-season fluke, but if it's not they'll have to change their offensive identity. That worked fine last week as Colin Kaepernick played extremely well, but not so well this week.

Danny Tuccitto: For what it's worth, the Harbaugh decision to kick a field goal to make it 12-3 was 18 percent win probability if San Francisco went for it and 18 percent win probability if they kicked the field goal. I think the context of the play (in Seattle against that defense) kind of tips the scale in my own mind towards going for it, but at least the decision turns out to be not as obviously butt-puckering as I expressed on Twitter at the time.

Three other thoughts on SF-SEA:

1) Regardless of what I'm about to say in my third point, make no mistake, the 49ers got their asses whooped in this one. Their defensive line got manhandled. Their offensive line got manhandled. Their receivers had a harder time getting open than a jar of apricot jam. And, dare I say, they got outcoached (although not outclassed).

2) While I agree with Aaron that the first half was a tale of two dominating defenses, I'm really starting to wonder how "dominant" San Francisco's defense is at this point. Since Week 15 of last year, they're now allowing an average of 28.8 points per game (which includes allowing 13 points to a Cardinals offense with me at quarterback in Week 17). When they stop the run, they can't stop the pass. When they stop the pass, they can't stop the run. Nnamdi Asomugha has followed up a promising preseason with an awful first two games. Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman all of a sudden can't stymy tight ends -- Hello, Tony Gonzalez, Dennis Pitta, and Jermichael Finley! -- amd running backs -- Hello, Marshawn Lynch! -- in the same game. Week 1 saw them drop from seventh in our DVOA projections to 12th in DAVE. In the words of Vince Lombardi, "What the hell is going on out here?"

3) The first time I met Aaron, it was at the 2007 New England Symposium on Statistics in Sports. I was there to present research I did showing that penalty differential is a major contributor to home-field advantage (still waiting for that citation, Scorecasting authors!). San Francisco deserved almost every call that went against them tonight, but a few unavoidably reminded me of that research. Third-and-28 for Seattle in a 12-3 game, the Niners get a stop, and they're giving the Seahawks a gift first down because Aldon Smith slapped a guy in the head? Then after Seattle scores a touchdown on that artificially extended drive, they call Vance McDonald for benign extracurricular activity 15 yards away from the play on a 14-yard gain? Never even got to see a replay of whatever Anthony Davis did to warrant his unnecessary roughness penalty in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, the Seahawks broke Ian Williams' ankle on a textbook chop block (one blocker was still engaged high when the other one cut him low), and no call. Like I said, Seattle kicked San Francisco's ass, and the game was well-officiated overall. Take this comment as bias if you want, but the fact is that officials (subconsciously) give teams home cooking to a statistically significant extent, and those were prime examples of it. Just because it almost certainly didn't effect the outcome doesn't make it right.

Comments

251 comments, Last at 17 Jan 2014, 6:25am

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Jets vs. Pats question for anyone. Why was the first Jets TD returned to incomplete pass? Unless NFL Network did not show all angles that the refs saw, there was never a single angle that showed the ball actually hit the ground. I thought the call was "no visual evidence to overturn", "Jets ball at NE 1 yard line" (where or looked like Gates had control, or NE ball (looked like NE player on coverage may have had ball), but I still have no understanding of what proof is needed for overrule.

Is the rule for an overturn still "indisputable visual evidence?" or has that changed

41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I gripe about this all the time, and this was a good example of it. I believe (because of the automatic reviews), refs are now biased towards ruling a close play to be either a score or a turnover (since those plays are automatically reviewed, no team suffers if the call is overturned). If that is the case, I think the refs have to do away with the "indisputable evidence" standard. In this case, I think the call was very marginal, but seeing the replay, I'd lean towards the ball being trapped (Pats fan, so possibly some red, white and blue-tint to my TV screen). In THIS case, I'm happy with the outcome, even without a clear view "required" to overturn the call.

55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I definitely agree with you. I see so many TDs and turnovers reversed that I'm convinced that the refs go with the initial ruling that can be reversed automatically. Some of the initial calls are so bad that I think that they would have gone the other way back in the day before replay was being widely used as a crutch.

61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I've also always disliked the "indisputable evidence" wording. I get that if the call is 50/50, it should stand, but if you see valid evidence that suggests the not-called outcome is even 51/49, why shouldn't you be able to overturn the call?

96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

That only works in theory. In reality, I don't trust the replay official's 51% given I've seen calls overturned that shouldn't have been even with the current rules that supposedly demand the guy be totally certain.

76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I had thought I saw angles that showed the ball being likely trapped, but not "indisputable visual proof" almost closer to "laws of physics dictate" that the ball was dropped based on what they saw and didn't see.

The entire call was a shitshow, because it took about 10 seconds to make any ruling at all. My first thought when watching the reviews was, "they are going to make a judgement call on this as though they are calling it for the first time". I got the feeling the refs ahd no idea what happened originally and wouldn't require "indisputable evidence". Again, I think the most likely scenario was that the ball was trapped, but I didn't recall seeing an angle that showed that.

As a general thought, can you imagine WRs who would cut on the final day on teams across the NFL on the last day watching the game and thinking, "Seriously, there are 5 WRs in this game that I'm better than here".

159 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

As a Pats fan I though the ruling should have been that the ball was caught, but should be placed at the one yard line instead of being a TD.

My rationale:

* We clearly see the ball came out of the receiver's hands, so he didn't have the requisite control and possession in the endzone for it to be a TD.

* While we see the ball loose, we never see it hit the ground. It may have remained on Mayo's body the entire time.

* We see both players holding onto the ball at the one yard line.

* Since the call on the field was a completion, and there was nothing indisputable showing a lack of a completion (never saw the ball on the ground) it should remain a completion.

* Since we didn't see control of the ball established until both players were on the one yard line, the ball should be placed there.

179 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Again, you're just talking about angles we saw on TV. The NFL has more cameras on the field than that. It's quite possible that they see an angle that TV viewers do not.

Also, it's possible that one of the official saw the ball on the ground with his own eyes, at a moment that was not shown via the TV replays. In any case, I think it's clear that the guy who raised his arms for a TD ten seconds after the catch had no idea whether this was really a TD or not.

It's easy for a TV viewer to make a judgment if "clear, visible evidence" exists that they see. But saying the opposite is harder to justify.

205 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Again, this goes back to the rules for overturning a call. I pretty saw what you saw on the play. But, that doesn't strike me as "indisputable visual evidence" to overturn the call.

However, like I said before, once they took 15 seconds to decide a TD on the field, it was pretty clear that they were going to make a determination that whatever they saw in replay would be the call, indisputable or otherwise.

On a play like that, I'd love to actually see the angle they used to confirm that there was not a catch on the field. And again, I am a Jets fan, but I really don't have an issue with them overturning the call at all, because the reality is, I don't think he caught the ball. I just don't understand the replay rules anymore and I'd be curious to know if there really was an angle that showed the ball on the ground.

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"Tom Gower: I saw little of this game aside from the last couple minutes, but I know I am not a fan of routes run short of the sticks on must-convert fourth downs, as Nate Burleson's was. Yes, credit to Tyrann Mathieu for an excellent tackle, but that's just a thing for me."

The play was actually designed as a slant past the 1st down, but Mathieu got a great jam off the line and made the route flatter than it should have been. Great play from start to finish by the Honey Badger. One could argue that Stafford should have realized that Mathieu had inside positioning and should have gone to his next read.

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I'd argue the point that Luck had better protection then Tannehill. Especially in the second half. Luck got out of a number of sacks on his own. The final Colts series had Luck pressured on pretty much every play. The last 4 downs of that drive turned on Miami pressure. The Colts did get some sacks, but tellingly they were pretty much all from linebackers. They couldn't get get pressure without blitzing, exposing the secondary.

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Given what Miami did to Cleveland's O-line last week Indy's fared pretty well (note, Cleveland may not be a good football team), although Andrew Luck has an annoying habit of not getting sacked when he should. Dion Jordan can help explain this.

I refuse to climb aboard any Dolphins bandwagon, certainly not this early, but they do look an improved team this year, both passing the ball and defending the pass. Having a legit #1 WR & CB wil do that I suppose.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I think it also has to do with the fact that Tannenhill in year 2 is pretty darn good. I think he completely overlooked last year because he had a standard good rookie QB performance instead of the amazing good rookie QB performances that RG3 and Russell Wilson had, and didn't have the compilation stats that Andrew Luck had.

194 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

It felt like Coyle was overusing/misusing the speed package in the first half, and Luck could take it apart easily (but Miami would manage to slow them down some times). Eventually, Miami started to go more traditional or mixed it up more and had more success; Luck less so. Luck is just a freak at avoiding the sack/blitz. I'd rank him up with the best already. But, yes, I'd say overall the Colts had better protection and did pretty well against some great rushers. In the second half, Miami had more success and certainly on the final two series, but they should — they have talented rushers/DL/blitzing LBs.

In the second half, even if/when Luck evaded the rush, it still looked like the pressure was affecting his game. Meanwhile, Tannehill still showed some poor reaction times, got hit a bit, rushed a bit, actually lost the ball occasionally, but his game was actually less affected, more steady. He was the better QB on Sunday (although the Colt's defense was nonexistent in the 1st quarter, that helped quite a bit). The Colt's D played better in the second half (well at least in the box), but that 3-and-8 Miller run was definitely the death knell — I have no idea how any defense fails to anticipate and stop that.

199 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I agree that Tanehill had a better game yesterday. Luck threw behind his receivers on a number of throws, which is uncharacteristic. He's usually pretty accurate. Luck is surprisingly good at getting out of sacks. Which is an extremely useful skill, considering his offensive line.

I also agree that the run to ice the game was unexplainable. Certainly, at best case for the Colts, they would have been down 4 with less then 30 seconds and 70 yards to go, so it's unlikely it truly affected the outcome of the game. Still, you can't let that run happen.

202 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Oh, I certainly agree that it was the Miller run didn't decide the game, Grimes's pick did that (although as a Dolphin Fan, you still worry). I was pointing to it as a big indicator of the state of the Colt's defense. Maybe they had given up at that point, but that's not good either.

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I do not enjoy reading Twitter feeds. This new Audibles format reads like a twitter feed, I liked the old format a lot better. It seems like this could be replaced by a link to your twitter page.

105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

It seems to me that Twitter just means extra work for the writers with less actual content for the website. The 140 character max limits how much discussion can really take place during the game and cuts back on the back and forth banter which is what, at the heart, makes Audibles such an enjoyable read.

While the wrap up summary is nice it would seem that the old format would make that unnecessary. Just my $.02 worth...

118 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Well, if the writers are using Twitter now instead of emails/IMs, then you weren't getting the old Audibles back anyway. I thought this was what was happening last season anyway, but they were spending a lot of time reformatting tweets to a psuedo IM exchange for Audibles.

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Danny: I think you're right about the late-game calls (at least that we didn't see replays on many of them) but don't forget the first-half calls overwhelmingly went in the Niners favor...the punt whistle screwup was probably good for 50+ yards of field position, the blatant offsides ignored on 4th down gifted them a turnover, flying forearm to Wilson's helmet after he slides goes unflagged, etc.

Worst case they made up for all the pro-Niners calls from the first half with the ones you mention in the second but on the whole this isn't a good example of a home team getting the benefit of the doubt from the officials.

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Try DEN-NYJ if you're looking for a "home team slant on penalty calls." Several of which were legit enough, but there was one stretch as the Giants were going in for their second touchdown where the officials were basically saying, "Guy was wearing a white shirt while the Giants ran an unsuccessful play; 15-yard penalty." DPI calls on Carter might have been justified although ticky-tack, but the one on DRC was horrible.

49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Regardless of the nature of the penalties, its worth referencing the penalty count in the overall context of the game. The Giants had something like 100 yards more penalties than the Broncos and still lost by two scores. That's scary for Denver's future opposition.

84 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Are personal foul calls the kind that normally "go to the home team"? I've always thought it was more of the questionable hold/pass interference type calls that can often go either way.

The 49er personal fouls in the second half looked to be usual "we better not let this escalate or somebody is going to get killed" kind of personal foul calls that we see in chippy rivalry games, and the 49ers were behind and increasingly frustrated so they were the ones retaliating and getting caught (though admittedly that is starting to build a narrative that may or may not be true). Of course crowd reaction to an action may play a part in the refs decisions in regards to personal fouls, I just wonder if FO has any data on this.

Also, while the broken leg (or any injury) is lamentable the Sweezy block is legal according to the current rules. The problem is with the rulebook, which, as usual, lags behind the NFL public stance on player safety.

132 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

And to argue against that...Dolphins had no penalties and Colts had three including a huge one that nullified a touchdown. The wierd thing was the penalty was an illegal shift that may not have been illegal...

200 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Also, Pagano and Luck disagree with you too:

http://www.indystar.com/article/20130916/SPORTS03/309160059/Colts-coach-Chuck-Pagano-says-key-illegal-shift-penalty-correct-call

Although, Pagano says it would have been legal if he stayed in position for a second on the first motion, and I thought it was that he had to be set after the second motion.

203 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Okay, I found it:

"All players of offensive team must be stationary at snap, except one back who may be in motion parallel to scrimmage line or backward (not forward).
After a shift or huddle all players on offensive team must come to an absolute stop for at least one second with no movement of hands, feet, head, or swaying of body."

http://static.nfl.com/static/content/public/image/rulebook/pdfs/10_Rule7_BallInPlay_DeadBall_Scrimm.pdf

One could argue that the former is tickytacky, but not the latter. In shifting twice, Reggie Wayne (and everyone else) needs to be set for one full second before and after each distinct shift.

228 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The thing I don't understand -- an this has nothing to do with homefield -- is how the Seattle DBs can play the way they play.

I remember one holding call against Carlos Rogers, and Collinsworth said something like "Anytime the officials see that jersey snap like that, it's going to get called a hold." But then I must have seen Boldin's jersey snap half a dozen times when Sherman was covering him. I don't understand.

53 Re: I expect 2-2- by the bye

Yup - the line play was encouraging. I want to see that continue for the next four quarters before I get too excited, though.

Ponder was encouraging in the 2nd half as well, but he's teased us with this act before. Consistency from him would be enough to turn this team around even with some of the weaknesses that have shown up new this year.

56 Re: I expect 2-2- by the bye

beyond line play - the linebackers have been horrendous for 2 games now. I can see the line play improving - but not so optimistic about the linebackers

The offence should come around a little. The WRs are miles better than last year.

58 LB optimism

I'm cautiously optimistic about the LBs for a few reasons:

1) Greenway's poor play is just baffling; he's better than that.
2) Why is Mitchel playing? Why is Bishop sitting? Dude looked good in preseason.
3) When's Mauti going to be ready? Soon?

Greenway
Henderson
Mauti
Bishop

Playing the best three of those four looks strong on paper. I'll give it a little time yet.

63 Re: I expect 2-2- by the bye

My impression of Ponder (as a Bears fan) is that his pocket presence is awful. It seemed like all his successful throws were either quick-hitting stuff, like screens and throws to the flats, or scrambles and waggles. When there was any pressure in the pocket, his first reaction was to take off (which actually worked out well Sunday, so maybe that's OK?).

67 Re: I expect 2-2- by the bye

Ponder used to run too often, but he seemed to calm that tendency down a bit last season. Now it's back, and I'm thinking it's a result of the o-line play.

Ponder doesn't do well with pressure when he stays in the pocket. He doesn't often step up well or move a bit to avoid pressure up the middle and then reset. The longer it takes him to throw, the more nervous I get as a Vikings fan.

He needs a mix of screens and slants, play action, and 20-ish yard throws to optimize the chances of success (per history).

The Bears did well to win a dangerous game yesterday. Good clock management and nice steal at the end. I'd credit the Bears D with forcing so many FGs, but I think that may be more on the Vikings offense.

116 Re: I expect 2-2- by the bye

He stares down receivers too much, and he just doesn't have the arm strength you want in an NFL qb.

At least 2 passes this Sunday ended on the ground because of how long it took the ball to reach the target.

143 Re: I expect 2-2- by the bye

I watched that play closely...Simpson was definitely loafing on the pick-6. Even if he had no chance at the reception, with a little effort he could have broken up the INT or at worst tackled Jennings immediately, limiting the damage.

147 Re: I expect 2-2- by the bye

Fair enough, and if anyone wants to discount Cutler's responsibility for the Harrison Smith interception, they probably should also do so for the Ponder-to-Jennings one.

Personally, I put the primary fault on the QB for each one.

156 Re: I expect 2-2- by the bye

Saying that Simpson could have helped prevent the pick-6 in no way absolves Ponder of blame on that play. I wouldn't be able to tell you if it was the right read or not without paying for all-22 film, but the throw had no where near enough velocity on it.

161 Re: I expect 2-2- by the bye

I know it sounds like 20-20 hindsight, because it is, I guess, and I don't pretend to be anything close to being knowledgeable about NFL draft prospects, but it just slays me that somebody, maybe everybody, in the Vikings organization had Ponder ranked as much better prospect than Kaepernick. I mean, what the hell did Ponder ever show that warranted such a judgement?

169 Re: I expect 2-2- by the bye

I can see a guy who has a great Senior Bowl Week moving from the 3rd round to the second. But to go from the 2nd or 3rd, to the top half of the 1st? Yikes!

Spielman's last 2 drafts appear to be excellent, and I don't what decision making structure was in place in the 2011 draft. This Ponder selection might haunt them for years, however, and I can't help but think of what the Vikings offense would look like with Kaepernick running the read option with 28, and this year's improved set of receivers.

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Danny, no one takes you seriously anymore when you talk about the refs.

Home cooking on the part of the refs didn't seem to be the order of the day in the first half, which could very well have put the game well into SF's hands, with SEA's offense running pretty slow until the very end. If SF converts on some of the breaks that went their way earlier in the game, there's a very good chance they put the game out of reach early by forcing SEA to pass and removing Lynch from the equation. They didn't, and later on the penalties started going against them. It is what it is, these things go back and forth, and then it all snowballed at the very end when the 49ers were never going to be coming back anyways, and that's probably less to do with any sort of home cooking and more about the 49ers getting frustrated, the refs trying to make sure the game stayed under control, or any of a dozen other things.

21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

It is EXTREMELY old.

Also not sure how you can whine about a guy getting 15 yards for a head slap when he did, in fact, slap someone in the head. If they see it they're going to call it like most of the time.

64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Agreed. It's shoddy work to only present one-side of the blown and "50-50" calls, especially in a game fraught with them on both teams.

The most egregious ones against the 'Hawks (e.g., the blatant offside of 4th down) have already been mentioned, but how about the Sydney Rice taunting call for spinning the ball. The refs certainly could've let that one go, being that Rice does that all the time and WASN'T doing it at a defender, as charged. There just happened to be a Niner on the ground nearby. There was also Rice's ticky-tack holding call on the (thoroughly awesome) Wilson to Tate flip pass.

Danny's comments about the refs are 3% analysis and 97% sour grapes.

66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I don't think the ball-spinning was "at" the guy on the ground, but at one of the other defenders facing him, in the minds of the officials. And I can't blame them; ball-spinning was specifically mentioned as a point of emphasis for taunting calls in the offseason, yet Rice, as you note, "does that all the time." He needs to stop doing that, because if there's a defender anywhere near him, he's going to get flagged. (It would also avoid the appearance of being a blowhard strutting and crowing over the unconscious guy lying at his feet. Rice certainly didn't know what had happened to Reid, but you don't want to be in a situation where you have to make the explanation.)

Now, Justin Smith getting to line up offsides for that 4th-and-1 play, there's a major call going egregiously against Seattle.

93 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Yeah, I know. I'm not saying the refs were necessarily wrong flagging Rice. My point is that you can't gripe about the refs calling Smith's head slap which was relatively soft, but technically against the rules ("going to the head" was the phrase the ref used, I believe), but then not mention Rice's relatively inoffensive taunting call.

Well, you can, but nobody should take you seriously when you do.

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I have to say, this week's Audibles was better than last week's. Jury's still out on the Twitter format, but improvements in two areas stood out:

1) No more #foaud hashtags. The hashtags that remain are ones that are part of the actual message content and therefore not bothersome.

2) Having the reader tweets and FO staff e-mails mixed in with the FO staff tweets helps to add context and narrative. This is especially true with regard to the e-mails.

231 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Yes, I have to say that the changes in the formatting of Audibles from last week to this week, made me go from "I'm not sure if I'll read it again" to "That was a joy to read."

I think I still have a slight preference for the e-mail conversation format of previous years, but I am happy to read audibles in its current form.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Scott, can we start calling it a "Rivera" when a team loses a lead in the 4th quarter?

Example: Cam Newton led a would-be game-winning drive, but instead he got his 12th career Rivera when the opposing QB led a game-winning drive as time expired.

I have a new idea for the Panthers. For the first 3 quarters, they are coached by Ron Rivera. For the 4th quarter, new GM Dave Gettleman calls down to the bullpen, and they are coached by Mariano Rivera.

125 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Not calling a timeout to set the Defense might be the biggest Rivera of them all.

My real question is "should the Panthers have done something different on SECOND down on their drive?" Everyone I have been reading faults the Third Down call, and not going for it on Fourth, but personally, I was thinking they should go Spread Offense and if nothing is incredibly open, Cam does a QB draw.

Telegraphing the power run given their O-Line issues seems to be a bad idea.

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"Andrew Potter: Devin Hester is still Devin Hester. Bears special teams is still Bears special teams. (Two minutes later.) Oh, and Bears offense is still Bears offense."

"Bears Offense" doesn't score 3 touchdowns, 1 in a textbook game winning drive.

Cutler threw 1 bad interception (Marshall can try to cover for it, but I'm pretty sure that Cutler just had a bad throw and Smith made a very good play,) one statistically insignificant interception (that is, in grading the Cutler's play. Perhaps the play was called poorly, but there's no "bad decision" in a defensive lineman coming up with a lucky tipped ball,) and one dumb fumble (the recovery for a touchdown is completely independent of the actual fumble: Cutler made a mistake on the fumble, but I think everyone realizes that fumble luck is pretty much random, and the return for a TD skewed the results.) The Forte strip was just a good play by the Vikings.

So no, this isn't "Bears Offense."

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I agree that the Trestman offense (and having a much better o-line is included in that) is certainly an improvement, at least so far.

I didn't mind the goal line pass. It was first-and-goal from the one, and the playcall worked - Maneri was wide open on the play, but (1) a lineman got his hand up (that's mostly on Cutler), causing the ball to deflect upward, then (2) Maneri and defensive player both went to catch it at the same time, causing it to deflect upward again, which is when the interception happened. It was more a fluke play than anything.

Cutler's other interception was a terrible throw, though. He underthrew Marshall - who would have been open in the end zone - pretty badly. The fumblesack was a bad play by Cutler - he should have felt the pressure - but the return was obviously fluky.

My favorite things about the new offense? The passes in the flats to backs and tight ends. Forte caught eleven passes and Martellus Bennett had a great game.

Also, the clock management at the end of the first half was outstanding. For those who missed it (apparently Fox lost signal during the first half): the Bears got the ball back with 1:11 left, at their own 20. Two Forte runs gained 15 yards, so the Bears had the ball at the Vikings' 49 with 29 seconds left. Cutler hit Earl Bennett and Marshall to get to the 2-yard-line with 12 seconds left, and the clock stopped.

At that point, the Bears were able to run three quick passing plays - unfortunately, all incomplete - and still kick a field goal as time expired. I was impressed.

117 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Agreed on everything except the goal-line play call. I hated it. Line up three times and call a sneak or a dive; you'll get in on one of them. Also, I thought that Cutler's first read on that play was the fullback coming out of the flat, and, when Cutler saw the FB was covered, he should have fired the ball through the goalposts. If the pass over the middle to Maneri was the primary read, then I hate the play call even more (so much could go wrong).

123 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I'm not going to argue with any of this, as three running plays - with the way the line played yesterday - would almost certainly have resulted in a touchdown.

And yes, Cutler's first read (maybe first two reads) were both in the flat. Maneri was no better than the second option on that play.

151 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"Also, the clock management at the end of the first half was outstanding. For those who missed it (apparently Fox lost signal during the first half): the Bears got the ball back with 1:11 left, at their own 20. Two Forte runs gained 15 yards, so the Bears had the ball at the Vikings' 49 with 29 seconds left. Cutler hit Earl Bennett and Marshall to get to the 2-yard-line with 12 seconds left, and the clock stopped."

Thanks for that, as I am one of the many who was extremely frustrated by the signal going out and missing a few minutes at the end of the half. They did have audio for a bit before they just went to Curt, Terry and the gang in the studio, so we heard but didn't see the beginning of that drive (as well as the TD pass by Ponder to Rudolph at the end of the previous drive). I note that there was a personal foul on Minnesota on the first play of the drive when Forte apparently was stopped for little or no yardage (based on the audio decription). Those 15 yards plus the Forte runs you mentioned helped get the ball to the 49.

14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

You know, for a guy who likes to look tough and talk about discipline, Schiano's team plays as sloppy and undisciplined as . . . I don't know, insert some Raiders team of the last decade here, I guess. They're not playing "tough", they're playing dumb. Five hits on defenseless receivers in the first three halves of the season, three of them by Goldson. A Brees fumble wiped away by a roughing the passer call. A really great 75-yard Vincent Jackson TD pass taken off the books because Tampa RT Demar Dotson decided that actually lining up on the line of scrimmage was too much work, so he set up too far back.

The good news is there's an actual pass rush; Adrian Clayborn and Gerald McCoy are spending a lot of time disrupting protection, and it's letting other players zip in and get sacks. It's hard to tell how much the secondary is improving because Goldson is decapitating WRs on every other @#$!$!! passing play, so hey, FREE FIFTEEN YARDS GUYS THROW AT DASHON.

I thought Freeman had a better day than his numbers showed; there were several blatant drops of very catchable balls, plus the long TD wiped away. Still not great, but certainly decent enough to win, plus Martin played well.

Can I petition the league office to have every player on the Bucs checked for concussions, because head injuries are the only way to possibly logically explain how they're playing this way?

16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I had lot of faith in Jim Schwartz early in his tenure, but lately I think of him as a slightly smarter (faint praise alert!) version of Schiano. When the Buccaneers visit Ford Field later this year, we may see a new record set for 15 yard penalties, and turnovers nullified by defensive penalties.

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I only got to watch part of the Jets game so far but it looked to me that some of the 15 yard penalties we're getting hit with might be a little questionable. But it looks like part of Schiano's goal is to get a reputation for a hard hitting defense so that opposing receivers are afraid. But that also means the refs aren't going to give you any borderline calls.

I do like the idea of teams deciding to throw in Goldson's vicinity to try collect the 15. Feels like batters who up their OBP by "dodging" inside pitches by twisting more of their body over the plate.

168 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I prefer the old format but I still banter with my buddies via email, not on Twitter or some other format, so maybe that is just what I am used to reading. I prefer the Audibles article to be a slightly edited copy and paste of your banter with each other about the games you are watching, edited for typos or including some stat data but not adding a great deal of content or changing the tone. If you have all taken to talking about the games in real time with each other via Twitter then I'd like to read that. But from following some of your feeds I think the real-time public aspect, and maybe the character limit, has changed your style and tone from your emails to each other.

Also, other feedback, congrats, but you have had far too much success and must now change the site name to "Football Insiders." Featured prominently in Madden? Definitely outsiders no more.

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Can we talk about Chip Kelly's piss-poor clock management at the end of the game? When you get the ball down 3, with 3:11 on the clock, you're not supposed to give the other team two minutes to score the FG which beats you.

Every single play on the drive, save one, was either a completed pass where the receiver deliberately stepped out of bounds, an incomplete pass, or a Vick scramble where he scampered out of bounds. They even ran a gratuitous play before two-minute warning -- an incomplete pass, forcing another pre-warning play -- when the play clock did not so require.

http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2013091508/2013/REG2/chargers@eagles#menu=highlights&tab=analyze&analyze=playbyplay

27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Not saying I agree but Chip said afterwards their objective was to score a TD and make it a 4 point game. I guess he thought sticking with the hurry up gave them the best chance to do that.

Can we talk about Dan Deirdorf? Specificly, him being flabbergasted the Eagles were calling timeouts at the end. Am I crazy or wasn't it obvious, had they not called the TO, the Chargers would have let the clock run and then kicked the field goal. At least they had time for a play. Although, given Vick's arm strength,I would've rathered they called for a Hail Mary

29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Dan Dierdorf long ago entered into the "Godawful Sportscaster Hall of Fame"; I can't imagine rooting for an AFC team and having to endure his idiocy from week to week. There was a time when Theisman challenged him for the bad broadcasting crown, but Dierdorf's been on the Mountain of Suck all alone for a few years now.

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

As I said in the gameday discussion thread:

Kelly called the first timeout with 17 seconds left when the Chargers were on the ~30 yard line and content to run the clock down to 3 seconds and kick a field goal.
Instead they had plenty of time to run two more passing plays and turn a 60% kick into a 90% kick. And all Philly had to gain was one possible 80 yard Hail Mary attempt. Fortunately for him, the Chargers went ultra-conservative and just ran two dives into the line.

Essentially, you don't call a timeout to get the ball back and give the offense extra plays when they are content settling for a long field goal. The Chargers didn't take advantage of it, but a smarter coach would've exploited the poor decision making by Kelly.

71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The Chargers didn't take advantage of it, but a smarter coach would've exploited the poor decision making by Kelly.

That's just it - against Belichick or Harbaugh, I'd agree it's a bad call. Against just about every other coach in the league, and it's a good decision. They ended up no worse than they were before, except now they had two more chances at forcing a fumble, plus a hail mary.

While we're on the subject of 4th quarter timeouts, did anybody else think Cutler's spike with 31 seconds left was idiotic? They were down by 6; with the time left on the clock, their only option was to take shots at the end zone. Spiking it gave them three chances with a timeout, instead of four chances without a time out.

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I disagree. By preserving the timeout, you force the defense to cover the center of the field. This may have contributed to why Cook went with Earl Bennett initially (to the inside) before trying to get back outside to Martellus Bennett on the TD catch. Obviously, putting Marshal and Jeffry on the right side shaded everyone away from the Bennetts, but having a timeout in the pocket helped as well.

141 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I agree with your disagreement.

With a timeout, you can throw short of the endzone in the middle of the field and try to get the TD with yac. If you end up with a Titans/Rams situation with a timeout, you can get another play where a QB sneak gives you 75+ percent chance at scoring.

145 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I'm with you. Making the defense cover the center of the field was important.

As for Cook going with Earl Bennett initially, the problem was the coverage on that side of the field. Cook was the only DB on that side of the field and had to cover both Bennetts by himself. If you see the replay, before the snap he was motioning for one of the DBs (I think Harrison Smith) to come over to his side to help him out, as they had too many DBs on the other side to cover Marshall and Jeffery (one of the DBs was up on that side of the line faking a blitz). Cook knew he was in trouble before the snap. I don't know why he didn't call timeout; the Vikings had all 3 of their timeouts. ESPN showed a replay today showing how as the play developed, Cook basically tried to stay halfway between both Bennetts to cover them both. After the game, Cutler said he knew based on the coverage that they had the right play diealed up and that the Vikings wouldn't like what they saw on film. Apparently, the Vikings don't even need to look at the film to be pissed off. I read that Cook was too upset to talk after the game, and many defenders were openly questioning the defensive call on that play and on the rest of the game-winning drive. Again, I don't know why someone didn't call timeout before the winning TD pass. The clock wasn't running, so you wouldn't be helping the Bears by stopping the clock. I guess some teams just don't want to call timeout on defense in that situation.

164 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I'm with you. Making the defense cover the center of the field was important.

If they were ten yards back, I'd agree with you, but they were on the 16 yard line. You're too far to run it, and a short pass or a first down just winds the clock down a few seconds without improving your chance to score. From that distance, I'd rather have four shots at the end zone with no timeouts left than three shots at the end zone with one.

167 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

A short pass like 3-7 yards? Useless. But having the timeout means you can throw to the center of the field 10-14 yards down field and see if the receiver can make it in. Without the timeout, those throws end the game if he doesn't get in.

186 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

A short pass like 3-7 yards? Useless. But having the timeout means you can throw to the center of the field 10-14 yards down field and see if the receiver can make it in. Without the timeout, those throws end the game if he doesn't get in.

No, it doesn't. There was 43 seconds left to play when Bennett was downed at the 16; the ball was spiked with 22 seconds remaining. It took 21 seconds to spike it, because it took that long to reset after a 23-yard reception.

With 43 seconds left, the 10-14 yards in the middle of the field is still open even with no time outs. If you get a first down on a pass over the middle (say 5 seconds), you can still spike it (say 10 seconds) and take three shots at the end zone from closer in (<6 yards instead of 16) with more time left on the clock.

Advanced NFL Stats seems to back my intuition on this - the Bears WP was 0.50 upon Bennett's reception, but drops to 0.27 with the spike.

195 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I went back and looked at the play on my DVR. There were not 43 seconds left when Bennett was tackled. That play started with 43 seconds left. He was tackled with 35 seocnds left, and the official blew his whistle with 33 seconds left. So it only took 12 seconds to spike it. I think the Bears handled it perfectly. They also did a good job of not leaving enough time on the clock for the Vikings to possibly get a good kickoff return and/or a long pass to set up a field goal with Blair Walsh, one of the best kickers in the game.

226 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

You're right - my bad. I was going by Brian Burke's play chart, which marked the time at the start of the play.

I think we can both agree, at least, that failing to get a play off before the 2-minute warning was atrocious. Better to not run a play than to run a bad one, but still - that should have been an automatic.

172 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Nobody is talking about running the ball or a short pass for a first down. We are talking about a slant pass to a wide receiver or a dump off to Matt Forte coming out of the backfield, either of which possibly could be run in for a touchdown with YAC as someone said above. Matt Forte caught 11 passes yesterday and on several of them made good YAC. It reminded me of Peyton Manning vs. the Bears in the Super Bowl, throwing lots of successful short passes to the running backs vs. Cover 2. (I am sure you remember that fondly.) Without the timeout, you probably can't even try that, and the defense doesn't have to defend against that possibility. If you watch the replay of the game-winning TD, there are two defenders (a LB and a DB) dropping into short zones around the 8 yard line, clearly trying to defend against a dump off pass. I note that Matt Forte did run a short route in the middle of the field out of the backfield, not far from where one of those defenders was.

If you call the timeout, you basically are forced to throw only end zone or sideline passes. And if you do throw in the middle of the field but don't get a TD or get out of bounds, you probably are going to have to spike it at some point anyway.

184 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

See above - there is 43 seconds on the clock if you call time out, leaving the middle of the field still open.

The choice was between 1st-and-10 at the 16 with 43 seconds and no time outs, or 2nd-and-10 at the 16 with 22 seconds and one time out. I'd rather trade the time out for 21 seconds and an extra down.

102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I was actually thinking at the time that this only really makes sense if you think the other coach will do something stupid, and since most-coaches are ultra conservative in that spot it seamed reasonable. Its hard to tell if he would do the same thing against the Saints or Patriots.

Spikes with more than about 10 seconds left are nearly universally wrong IMO.

219 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The Bears did not do so well with clock management on that last drive, in several ways, even though it worked out for them in the end. They got the ball with over 3 minutes left, which should be plenty of time to run a drive without having to waste a down on a spike or worry about the clock running out while you still have downs left.

Early in the drive they took too long between plays. Marshall failed to even try to get out of bounds on one of his catches where it looks like he could've made it out. Bennett probably should've gone out of bounds too instead of fighting for the first just before the spike. If Bennett goes out of bounds there it's roughly 2nd & 2 at the 21 with 36 seconds left; instead they get 2nd & 10 at the 16 with 21 seconds left after he fights for the first and stays in bounds and they spike it. 15 seconds, and 8 yards longer for the first down, just to pick up 5 yards? Not worth it.

Then there's the decision to spike it instead of calling timeout. You should almost never spike it when you still have a timeout left. You're saving 12 seconds and a down by calling timeout instead of spiking it; if you have to stop the clock again later you can always spend that 12s & down then. If you don't have that 12s & down to spare, then you already would have lost if you'd spiked it before (assuming that you play it the same way).

94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

What do you have to lose? Moreover, when SD wasn't murdering PHI's secondary, they were shooting themselves in the foot. Considering they were already within range, why not try to goad them into another turnover?

108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Is that right? The play-by-plays I've looked at have the first timeout being San Diego, not Philly, followed by a 6 yard pass play. After that it's just 2 short runs, which didn't really do anything (49 yard vs. 46 yard isn't exactly a big difference). In fact both Philly and San Diego were left with timeouts at end of game, as far as I can tell.

91 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Well, the hurry up is one thing, but there's zero reason whatsoever for receivers to go out of bounds. Game time vs. real time.

In addition, there was really no reason to burn the 2 plays before the 2 minute warning after the long completion to Jackson. That actually goes *completely contrary* to the idea of a hurry-up: because there was a long break between the 2nd and 3rd play. They would've been much better off just letting the clock bleed down to the 2 minute warning (or letting the Chargers burn a timeout, but I don't know if that would've happened or not), and then have the ability to run 3 plays in quick succession.

Plus I'd have to say that the idea that running the hurry-up gives you an advantage in that situation is idiotic. If the Chargers had felt that their defense was not in the best position to handle the formation, they would call timeout.

99 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Which would then deny SD those timeouts for their comeback attempt if/when Philly scored.

Receivers going out of bounds is a different matter, of course. That's just player foolishness of not knowing the game situation.

110 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Yes, but if San Diego's choice is "have timeouts down 4" or "don't have timeouts with game tied" it's a pretty simple decision. I really can't imagine that San Diego *wouldn't* call timeout if they thought that the hurry-up was putting them at risk. Which means that the only thing the hurry-up does is force San Diego to burn timeouts... which you can do by *not running the hurry-up* (a lot more successfully, as well). San Diego had 2 timeouts remaining, and Philly had 3 timeouts remaining at that point. Both of them ended with a timeout remaining, which really just flat out shows you that Philly managed the clock poorly.

I mean, after Jackson's pass play, there was literally no reason not to let the clock burn down to the 2 minute warning. At that point, Philly would've had 3 plays remaining, and San Diego would've had 2 timeouts. That gives you 2 runs (that will burn both of their timeouts), and then an additional pass play to hit the first down (which they could still get!) or go for the end zone. *Even if* Philly would've scored the touchdown on that first play after the Jackson pass, San Diego would've gotten the ball back, down 4, with 2 timeouts and the 2 minute warning, which isn't a guaranteed win at all.

38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Kelly, today, via PFT:

“I was trying to score; that’s all on me, that’s my call,” Kelly said on WIP, via Philly.com. “I didn’t want it to leave it in the hands of, it’s a tie ballgame. If you score, you’re up four. You got to drive a length of the field to try to score a touchdown. When you look at it in hindsight, maybe we should have bled the clock and not giving them enough time to come down and do it. You learn from those situations. But we were trying to score seven, not three. We felt like we had three, and just thought we had the opportunity to put one in there, and we didn’t get it. We didn’t capitalize.”

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

No coverage of Rams at Falcons? OK, then allow me to the longform on the Falcons.

The Falcons lost several important players due to injury. RB Steven Jackson, DE Kroy Biermann, CB Asante Samuel, LB Sean Weatherspoon and FB Bradie Ewing all left the game and didn't come back. Early rumors are that Biermann and Ewing are out for the year, and Biermann would be a big loss.

On offense, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones decided they had to take over the game, because no one else would. Gonzo looks kind of rusty and Roddy White is improving slowly from the ankle injury suffered in preseason. But there was no running attack to speak of, and the OL is a catastrophe in progress. If the receivers weren't so good at getting open and Ryan wasn't so good at getting rid of the ball quickly, he'd have been knocked out for the season already. Still time for that. How bad is the OL? Instead of going with the victory formation to run out the clock, Mike Smith ordered three consecutive running plays because, I think, he wanted to see how the OL looked with Lamar Holmes at LT and Jeremy Trueblood (yes, that Jeremy Trueblood) at RT against a determined run defense. Starting LT Sam Baker, fresh off the signing of his second contract, is banged up again and playing soft, and some things, I guess, never change (unless it's a contract year).

On defense, the rookie corners continue to play well but I think the lack of pass rush is what helped the Rams come back so strong in the second half. Missing Biermann won't help. The Falcons had a UDFA rookie named Joplo Bartu playing nickel LB alongside Weatherspoon to start the game. The kid has some wheels, at least.

All told, I'm rather pessimistic at this point. Winning in Miami next week will be tough.

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Looking at it from the other side of the coin, the Rams corners were supposed to be a strength, but have been awful thusfar.

The first half was a classic snowball effect. Mentally, the Rams weren't there. Dumb pre-snap penalties, missed assignements, balls batting off receivers hands - Murphy's Law was definitely in effect.

The third quarter showed what the Rams are capable of, even if they're probably not going to do it week in-week out. Down 21, and they come back and score two TDs. Suddenly it's a ball game.

Then Matt Ryan does his thing. When non-stats oriented pundits talk about magical winner sauce, these are the moments that convince them. The Rams have all the momentum, the Falcons are completley flat, Ryan's been sacked twice in the 2nd half, and yet he promptly leads them downfield for a TD to Matty Ice the game.

The Rams are good enough to make mistakes and still win, but not when they're playing a team as good as Atlanta.

25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Living proof that God is a Breaking Bad fan? The lightning delay coincided with Breaking Bad's airtime perfectly.

Thank you, Aaron & co, for reading through last week's feedback and separating out the substance from the noise. I think just about

1. Remove the hashtags and reformat for readability? Check.
2. Less snarky comments about not covering games? Check.
3. Get RaiderJoe a twitter feed? Check check Praise Football Jeebus check!

26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

You've got to be kidding me with the "and those were prime examples of it" comment.

Uh, yeah, if you completely ignore what your point is in the first place. Here's a reminder: "the fact is that officials (subconsciously) give teams home cooking to a statistically significant extent".

So, for that to be the case, there would have to be a WPA advantage based on penalties within the context of whether each penalty is a 50/50 call, just wrong, etc. It would be somewhat subjective, perhaps too much, but not dissimilar to PFF's overall system. You didn't do that at all; instead, you resorted to a much more inferior logic, i.e. "my team that lost had calls go against them".

-The Ian Williams play was legal, so why wouldn't there have been no call?
-Aldon reacted, and any viewer of football knows that the response is often flagged, not the reason for it; don't react
-I don't remember the Vance McDonald play, but sure, there's one play that went against you, hell, call it two with Aldon
-The game was "well-officiated"? What. I guess it goes with your lack of acknowledging the whistle-false-start-blocked-punt play, which most definitely should not have stood, or the clearly-offsides-Justin-Smith play on the early, failed 4th and 1 Seattle had at the SF 10. Those two plays, and I am sure of it, clearly outweigh the bad calls that went against SF, with whatever measurement you want to use.

Moral of the story: man up and take your team's beating without whining about officiating, especially when you got the better of it. 29-3: it's the new 42-13, baby.

227 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

So, for that to be the case, there would have to be a WPA advantage based on penalties...You didn't do that at all....

Those two plays, and I am sure of it, clearly outweigh the bad calls that went against SF, with whatever measurement you want to use.

Can you spot the inconsistency here? Demanding that Danny calculate the WPA of penalties and then relying on "I'm sure of it" for your own assertion?

31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

As a Washington fan (which I am not) I would be greatly concerned about the state of the Redskins this year.

Offensively, you can tell that RG3 is not up to game speed due to being held out of the entire pre-season. He missed throws, appeared tentative, and most definitely did not want to run which the Packers seemed to take note of. He did seem to get more comfortable as the game went on but it could be that the game was so out of reach by that time that mentally it felt like a preseason game (i.e. no pressure.) Assuming his knee IS 100% (which I doubt) it will take a few weeks for him to get back into rhythm and by that time it might be too late.

The bigger concern is the defense. The Packers which are not known for thier running game completely gashed the Washington D (with James Starks, no less, who replaced a concussed Eddie Lacy and was a guy on the verge of being cut before an injury to Dujuan Harris in the preseason)while Rodgers dissected it through the air. It was the most balanced Packer attack I've seen in a long time which could be really scary if teams have to start respecting the Packer run game. I can't remember the last time I've seen that many gaping holes and missed tackles in a game (especially one involving the Packers running attack.) They did get good pressure on Rodgers early but the O line adjusted and it didn't appear to be much of an issue the rest of the game.

The game could've been much worse...the Packers would've had at least another field goal before half if not for the James Jones freak fumble...the risk/reward of the goal line reach (especially with one hand) always makes me nervous.

35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Anybody who pays attention to the NFC East knows better than to jump on the skins bandwagon. They're the annual Kings of August. No team generates more offseason hype. None of it translates to the field. Over the last decade, no matter who coaches, quarterbacks, whatever, the whole is less than the sum of the parts. The one constant, of course, is Danny Boy, so there's no reason to think it'll change any time soon.

46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Yeah, it's weird how much of the local coverage is focused on RG3. RG3, to his credit, takes everything on his shoulders. He's willing to take the blame for the fact that the Redskins were down 31-0 at halftime.

Um, that's nice and all, but at most that's half his fault. The offense isn't quite up to speed yet, but I don't really doubt that it will get there. And the problem with the offense is more about the rushing than the passing. With no credible RG3 rushing option, the run defenses are keying on Alfred Morris and stonewalling him.

But the real problem, as you say, is the defense. The pass defense is not very good. People wonder why that's the case with the return of Orakpo and Carriker, but the problem is in the secondary. As a Pats' fan, it's a problem I know too well.

The Skins simply do not have good coverage guys in the secondary. And they've faced two very good receiving corps. Green Bay's is arguably the best in the NFL, and Philly presents a huge problem with DeSean Jackson. DeAngelo Hall drives Redskins fans crazy.

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I'm not arguing the Washington defence is good, but plenty of units are going to get torched by Aaron Rodgers and his receivers this season. Although I will grant you that the number of missed tackles yesterday was alarming.

But the fact they haven't yet scored any first half offensive points is more troubling for me. RG3's passing has not been crisp or accurate enough whilst the games have still been close.

124 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

This is two games in a row where the Packers opponents have missed a lot of tackles. Though the amount of YAC they got yesterday was absurd, 283 according to ESPN Stats and Info group. The only reason I mention this is the same reason I mentioned it last week. The Packers paid a lot of lip service in the off season to breaking tackles and getting more YAC. So far they have done so and I really wonder if they found some way to effectively practice it. I mean with how bad the Packers D is at tackling you wouldn't think they could practice it against them because you wouldn't know if you were effective or the defense was just being itself.

San Fran seemed to tackle better last night, though I only saw the first half. Washington seemed to be better in week 1. I'm not positive. It's just something I'm trying to pay attention to this year.

RG3 being off was a big factor in the first half. When he connected he was at like 9 yards per attempt in the first half. I know in the second half the Packers D was playing softer so I'm not paying as much attention to that. But for me there are still some worries that showed up in the first half. Morris was held in check for about his first 5 carries, but then he had a 9 and then 32 yard run. He had another 30+ yard run in the 2nd half along with several other effective runs, never getting less than 4 yards with the exception of the one -4 yard stuff he suffered. So he was effective on more than just the two really long runs.

If RG3 gets it together soon, I think WAS can turn things around pretty quickly. Though I do wonder what Cousin would be able to do. I don't think Morris needs the threat of Griffin running to be effective and I think the receivers are solid enough that just having an accurate QB could be a big deal.

149 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Is that really true? I haven't seen the redskins play in either game, but their offense has scored 0!!! pts in the first half of both games. I listened to both jaworski and cosell say that Rg3's yardage totals are totally coming off short routes against prevent defenses, so essentially he and the redskins have shown nothing on offense whatsoever. At this point, it sounds like wishful thinking to say the redskins will turn this around. If turning it around means going from abominable to still mediocre, no one will have considered that a success. I think its time to realize that this redskins team in general isn't very talented at all. They weren't all that talented when they acquired Rg3 and in that time they have had no first round picks at all. What exactly is great about this team other than a good lt and good pass rushers and maybe a good rb?

189 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Biggest issue I see on offense right now is Griffin just doesn't look right. He has some good throws, but he looks uncomfortable most of the time. Hard to say whether his knee is bothering him, he's seeing different looks than last season, or he's thrown off by the fact that his running seems to be completely off the table. He does seem to get better as the game goes on, but that could be the prevent defense. I do think there is something to the idea that his not being a running threat hurts the overall running game.

190 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

RG3 led the NFL in yards/attempt last season. I think we can count on the offense recovering and the passing will be just fine.

The problem right now? RG3 isn't a rushing threat. And since he isn't a rushing threat, defenses can key on Alfred Morris. And while Morris is good, he's not so good that he can blast through defenses that key on him.

Also, the Redskins did very well last season with play-action passing. If the rushing game isn't there, the effectiveness of the play-action pass will diminish. All of these things will fix themselves as the season progresses and Robert gets stronger. (We're all on a first-name basis with him in the DC area.)

There's no real reason to think that the offense won't right its ship.

OTOH, the defense has a real problem in the secondary. I know they were missing tackles yesterday, but that's a coachable problem. Having a secondary that cannot cover elite WRs is not a problem with an immediate solution. Last week wasn't the first time that Vick had torched them and the pasting at the hands of Rodgers was entirely predictable.

"This Redskins team isn't very talented at all." Now that's an overstatement. You like the LT but I think the entire line is decent. They did have a great season rushing last year. Alfred Morris is a bull. And Garcon is a very good receiver.

The defense has plenty of talent in the front seven. The only knock on London Fletcher is that he's aging, and we're not even sure that is true. The secondary is the problem.

What can you say when a team has so far trailed 24-0 and 26-0 at halftime in its two games? A lot of things are wrong right now.

They are lucky that the entire division lost on Sunday.

196 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Here's one reason. They relied a ton on the read option. The read option essentially destroyed coverage assignments as teams then and now still haven't quite got a handle on it. With RG3 unable to run the read option to its fullest capabilities, hes now being asked to run some quasi version of it. His traditional drop back stats have suffered, largely because traditional drop back passers must rely purely on accuracy and pre snap reads to get their yardage, less so by the benefits of scheme.

To your point about garcon= what evidence do we have that he's a very good receiver? He has yet to top even 1k yards in an entire season and hes been in the league now for 6 years. His numbers are antwaan randle el type - good as a third receiver, serviceable as a 2nd, mediocre as a 1.

232 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I'd like to know where the idea that Peyton Manning makes every receiver look so much better came from, because looking at actual numbers it seems fairly mythical to me.

Harrison and Wayne were great with or without Peyton. Dallas Clark played his whole career with Peyton up until age 32, so he doesn't provide any evidence either way. Anthony Gonzalez's brief career was also completely with in-his-prime Peyton, so again no evidence.

So who does that leave us with? After looking at some Colts rosters at PFR the most significant names are Pierre Garcon, Brandon Stokely, Jerome Pathon, and Austin Collie.

Garcon has his best totals with the Colts, but that was due to injuries limiting him to 10 games last year; his YPG last season was the highest of his career (by only a few yards). Stokely had his only 1000 yard season in 2004 with the Colts, but less than 800 yards total in two other years. Pathon's Indy numbers are almost identical to his New Orleans numbers overall. Collie played his 2011 year in Indy without Peyton, and his yardage dipped only slightly despite the horrible droppoff in QB play (his TDs fell off a cliff though, a sign that the whole offense was ineffective).

In Denver, Thomas and Decker were already become established as good you WRs. Of course their numbers jumped with Peyton, but most non-Tebow QBs would have caused a significant jump.

Peyton Manning might be the best QB to ever play, but I don't get this idea that he makes absolutely any WR look good. The evidence isn't there to me.

233 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Marvin Harrison never had a 1000 yard year without Peyton Manning.

Edit: and Reggie Wayne's 2012 season, while looking good in raw numbers had negative DVOA. His only year with negative DVOA with Peyton was 2001, when he was a rookie.

234 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Harrison played two years without Manning and was pretty good, was about as good in Manning's first year, and then skyrocketed in Manning's second year. Plenty of WRs blossom at around that point in their careers.

Obviously Harrison's numbers improved once Manning started to become great, but there's nothing about Harrison's first couple of years to indicate that he wouldn't have a very nice career. 1700 yards and 14 TDs are very good numbers for the first two years of a WR's career. Terrell Owens' first two seasons weren't that good, and Cris Carter's weren't even close.

Reggie Wayne had nearly 1000 yards with Curtis Painter, and over 1300 yards at the age of 34 with a rookie QB. If his DVOA was low, it was probably because there weren't any great weapons on that team. #1 WRs without decent complimentary WRs often put up poor DVOAs, just look at Brandon Marshall last year. And if there was actual decline, at age 34 could easily by age-related, rather than QB-related.

The best argument that can be made is that Manning's WRs tended to put up better numbers with him at QB. This would be true for any elite QB, and only the most absurd cherry picking and ignoring of other variables makes Manning look special in this regard.

235 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

For me I just always took the "he makes his receivers better" for Peyton the same way I took it when it was said all the time about Favre, Montana, and Marino. Like you summed up in your last paragraph, it's something all great QB's do because of how linked the positions are. I didn't think Manning was being treated any differently than any other QB this has been said about. Maybe I was just numb to it from the beginning and didn't notice that Manning was being treated differently. Maybe I did hear more about him and just chalked it up modern media where you hear more about everything now, and because of that, many many things get overhyped.

It's hard to get great evidence for it because of the infrequency of great QB's changing teams. Great WR do change teams but it's not as frequently, and often it's after they are past their peaks.

236 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I wouldn't have made my initial comment, except I've heard similar comments about Manning several times here on FO, and I've also heard lots of people issue strangely harsh criticism of Pierre Garcon.

I don't think Garcon is some world beater, but quite a few people seem to think that any WR who can't gain 1000 yards with Peyton throwing him the ball must be some scrub.