Audibles at the Line: Week 2

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


@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


@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


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.


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)


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.


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


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


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


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


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


@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?


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


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.

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


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


@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.


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


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...


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


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.


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.


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

237 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Bill Barnwell wrote an article on this with receiver plus minus'. Essentially, every NON reggie wayne receiver was being overrated by hanging out in the colts system.

But let me get to your larger point. of course its overstated how manning makes any receiver look good. I think both wayne and harrison were great receivers and not coincidentally, manning's numbers were historic during the time the two were at their peek. That said, like all great qbs, even with these pieces removed, the colts effectiveness remained. The likely constant in all this is manning. If you look at denver last year, their receivers were the top two in dyar, with stokely I believe tops in dvoa. Considering how stokley looks miserable now in baltimore, i think its quite clear who made who on that one. Overall, the idea that manning makes receivers look good comes from the fact that wherever he goes, receivers do look better, but like displaced said, its probably no different than most special qbs.

239 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

You mistook my original comment to say that Peyton Manning is unique in this regard. That's not what I was saying at all. I was responding to the initial comment that someone made that Garcon is not as good as some think he is (I would argue not as good as the Redskins seem to think he is based on what they paid to get him).

The comment would have stood if Garcon had played with Tom Brady or Drew Brees. But he didn't, he played with Manning.

241 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Fair enough. I'd agree that Washington probably overpaid for him a bit, however I think some people expected his stats to fall off a cliff in Washington, while they've remained fairly steady, so he hasn't been an awful deal.

244 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

It is a little puzzling that the same person wrote.....

......."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."......

....followed by.......

......."The best argument that can be made is that Manning's WRs tended to put up better numbers with him at QB."

240 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I haven't seen people argue against this, per se, and maybe I have selective memory here, but I feel like I've read many more comments over the years attributing WR boosting abilities to Manning than other QBs.

Also, as I mentioned in another post, I feel like I've seen an unusual number of Garcon bashing comments over the years that have used the Manning effect to dismiss any accomplishments Garcon has made.

242 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

How exactly were Thomas and Decker "established as good young WRs"?

It's hard to take this seriously when everyone who has some play without Peyton you throw out for some reason or the other (Marvin was about to reaach his prime anyway, or Decker and Thomas were established because you want them to have been).

Also, Collie may have had similar numbers, of course what isn't mentioned is he had similar numbers in 16 games (he played 9 in 2010), with seven fewer TDs. He was so far less efficient it is crazy. Austin Collie was basically the best receiver by FO stats (and most conventional stats) through 7 games in the 2010 season before his first concussion against Philly.

Stokley also may never have had the big stats outside 2004, but his efficiency numbers with Peyton were crazy, as seen as recently as last year, when at 90 years old, he was a Top-5 DVOA receiver.

34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

It was nice they cleaned up the hashtags and streamlined the twitter posts more, along with just omitting the games they didn't watch instead of adding pointless text, but ultimately I think I really dislike the new format.

The only game I thought was a really great read was Saints vs. Tampa which included some great back and forth exchanges in longer form. The other long form stuff for other games just feels like each individual expounding/recapping rather than an actual conversation about the game.

The only reader tweet that I found interesting was: Broncfan07: @FO_ASchatz Denver defense: 11/12 on 3rd down stops. Regression delayed another week. Otherwise, I just don't think they added any value to these Audibles.

121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Eliminate the kneel downs at the end and the Packers averaged 8.7 despite wasting a couple drives in the second half trying to eat up the clock (before finally realizing the best way to eat up the clock was to pass), so 8.8 probably isn't as amazing as you think it is.

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

About Scott calling BS on the Dolphins 0-penalty performance, Miami already had a 0-penalty performance in preseason. Preseason! I was very much impressed by that and am even more impressed now.

The man with no sig

48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I'll preface this as coming from a bitter Colts fan, but that crew was letting both sides play. The defensive backs on both sides were being given a lot of leeway. There was also a pretty egregious late hit out of bounds not called.

I don't mind letting the guys play though. I'm just bitter that one of the few calls was that procedure penalty on Reggie Wayne that wiped out a touchdown. I think that was just a flat out bad call that ended up costing the Colts 4 points in a 4 point loss.

51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Yeah. Dan Fouts (who with Ian Eagle is pretty good calling a game btw) was all over that at the time.Fouts was certain that Wayne was in motion (he was), so didn't need to reset.

Better the 'let them play' attitude than all sorts of terrible fussy O & DPI calls that completely break a game up, and it was called consistently for both sides

I will say it's much easier to be magnanimous after the win.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I can see how some people may think the call on Reggie Wayne was tricky-tack but I feel like it was absolutely the right call.

In order to be considered "in motion" you need to be moving parallel to the line of scrimmage or backwards; you can't be moving towards the line of scrimmage. In Reggie's case, he has essentially stopped moving parallel and had turned towards the line of scrimmage and at that case he needed to stay set for one second before they snapped the ball.

He body language seemed to demonstrate that he had gone as far in motion as he thought he should and had expected the ball to have snapped by then.

52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The crew made up for it too with there constant review booth reversals. The crew couldn't seem to see either penalties or the actual plays on the field.

Game observations
1) Miami's run defense is not up to last years form. It might be due to losing their inside linebackers or it might be due to their new found love of the "speed" line.
2) Speaking of which Dion Jordan needs to learn to wrap people up.
3) The Colts sure likes to block free rushers below the knees. I don't think I remember so many cut down blocks in a game. In the second half the Dolphins free rusher start leaping as soon as they goated the back up to the line.

50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"@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?"

I checked this out on P-F-R. It'd be bottom ten, but not even the worst in the past decade: the 2006 Buccaneers scored 3 points across their first two games. The 2001 Skins also scored 3, and the 78 Colts and 76 Bucs scored 0. The Saints also managed only 3 across their first two games in 1970 and 1975. All of the other years appear to have been pre-merger.

59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Danny, the SF defense actually was pretty dominant, especially considering 1) they were on the road, 2) they lost two starters to injury in the first half, and 3) the offense gave SEA some really short fields to work with. Wilson was only 8/19 for 142 yards passing. Lynch gained 98 yards but needed 28 carries to get there and only averaged 3.6 ypc. Both SF and SEA averaged the exact same dismal 4.1 yards per play, Seattle just had an extra 19 plays.

The big difference in the game was what happened in the red zone. SF had two trips inside the 5-yard-line and got a total of 3 points. OTOH, on Seattle's two long TD drives, SF had SEA stopped for field goals before committing totally idiotic and unnecessary personal foul penalties that gave Seattle a second chance. The game turned on those three or four plays. Once SF got only a FG on their 3rd quarter drive and SEA came back and got a TD after Aldon's slap, it was 19-3 and the game was basically over. If it had been something like 11-6 or 15-7 at that point, the 4th quarter would have played out a lot differently, since SF wouldn't have had to throw every down to catch up. Maybe the Niners still lose, but it would not have been a rout.

106 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Even if Seattle had made the first down, they would have had 1st and 10 at the SF 35. That's probably not in field goal range on a stormy night. Given how well the SF defense was playing, it's a bit of a stretch to say Seattle had points taken off the board.

Anyway, my point was just that the game came down to 3 or 4 key plays and Seattle outplayed SF on those plays (or really SF shot themselves in the foot on those plays, which is sort of the same thing), as opposed to the narrative that Seattle dominated most of the game, which I don't think happened. Pretty much everything that happened in the 4th quarter was path dependency.

126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

You've got a long way to go to convince people that a 4 score difference came down to "3 or 4 plays".

As a neutral observer, I'm puzzled why you feel the need to make this argument. Even the greatest teams have a bad day and get blown out by other great teams. Just accept it and look forward to when the Seahawks visit Candlestick.

135 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

We'll see when the DVOA data comes out, but from watching the game I didn't get the sense that Seattle had a big play-by-play advantage. Both teams averaged the same yards per play. Instead, SF made a few stupid mistakes at key moments that had big impacts.

Seattle scored 3 TDs. The first two came on drives where Seattle was stopped and the drive was extended by needless personal fouls. The third came on an interception returned to the 2-yard-line when SF was forced to throw while down by 19 points late in the fourth quarter. IMO, Seattle was not able to consistently sustain drives any better than SF was, but SF shot themselves in the foot a couple of times more than Seattle did, and given how well both defenses were playing, that was all it took.

142 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I can see where you are coming from, the niners' boneheaded personal fouls allowed Seattle to score two touchdowns that they otherwise wouldn't have done and I agree that the final score was influenced by the situation. However, I still don't see the niners winning as they just couldn't sustain a drive apart from their second possession.

Even if you take away ten points from the Seahawks' total and give the niners a score when they got to the goalline I still think they'd be a touchdown better that night.

188 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

In their second game last year, both teams averaged the same yards per play as well, in a game that was 42-6 until the final minutes. Yards per play is extremely deceiving in blowouts, because the offense switches to pounding the ball down the middle for minimal yardage to drain clock, while the defense plays prevent and often gives up large chunks of yardage. For instance, in last night's game, after Seattle went up 19-3, San Francisco gained 4.6 yards per play to Seattle's 2.0.

Also, DVOA takes into account those 3 or 4 key plays, you know.

216 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Look at Seattle's actual offensive stats though. They did not have a good offensive day. Lynch's success has been greatly overblown, 3.6 YPC is nothing to write home about. Wilson was not efficient or effective. Rumors of SF's defensive demise have been greatly exaggerated.

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Chiefs fan. I saw the WAS-GB score in the ticker and knew the game was bad for WAS but it became very clear how bad when part way thru the 3rd qtr the announcers welcomed the viewers that had been watching the WAS-GB game to the DAL-KC game. Very early switchaway.

69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Dez Bryant was abusing Flowers early in the DAL-KC game. First 5 targets to Bryant: 5 for 5, 100 yds and a TD, in the first qtr. At this point, it looked like the Cowboys offense had the edge on the Chiefs D.

Early in the 2nd qtr, Bryant got called for OPI. I thought the call was pretty marginal; I'm sure Cowboys fans thought it was a bad one. I did think it was a bit of a payback for a marginal DPI on Flowers on the 1st drive and that Bryant had done similar pushing on some of the previous catches.

After that OPI, whether Bryant became less physical or Flowers improved or Chiefs gave Flowers help, things changed. The rest of the way Bryant caught just 4 of 8 targets for 41 yards. With Bryant contained, the Cowboys didn't have enough offense to win the game.

The Chiefs O did enough to win the game, barely - they were outgained 318-313 but no turnovers vs. two for DAL was the difference. Other than a good opening drive, the next best drive was the clock-eating one (Charles 47 yards on 8 carries - although he stupidly went out of bounds on one run - with a key DPI) that essentially iced the game: it started at 3:50 and ended with DAL getting the ball after a punt downed on their 4 yardline with 16 seconds left.

70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Packer comments are fairly hilarious. Lots of negativity about their blocking, running game, etc-- then shifting to questions about RGIII and whether he should be starting-- and one "GB's offense is very good". All in a game where 1) the Packers gained 600 yards, despite essentially shutting down late in the 3rd Quarter; 2) Rodgers threw for 480 yds, 4 TDS, No Picks-- a feat rarely accomplished even in today's pass-happy NFL; 3) Packers' receivers YAC was nearly 300 yds-- most in NFL in four years or so, I believe 3) Packers had first 100 yd runner in 3 years.

Yes, Washington's defense is horrible... But Rodgers had one of the best games in a long time yesterday and, per usual, FO didn't think to react... The Bayless effect, I guess...

81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Among other excreta that comes from his mouth, Bayless likes the spout that Rodgers is overrated.

And to PaulM, wouldn't you think the fact that they ignored Rodger's and the Packer's offense's numbers have more to do with the fact that:

A)We've come to expect excellence from #12 and the rest of the Packer's offense.
B)Since this is Football Outsiders, they don't fall all over themselves to praise counting stats, especially against a bad defense. I wouldn't be surprised of Rodgers gets his due in the next Quick Reads.

82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Aren't those the most interesting things about the game, though? We already knew Rodgers is great going into the game; the bigger question marks were Washington's defense, RG3's knee, and the Packers OL.

Are you not satisfied unless Rodgers is praised nonstop? Look back at last week's opening night Audibles. Peyton Manning threw for 7 TDs, but that barely merited a mention because that's what ESPN is for. I come here to learn about the non-obvious things.

109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

What was posted was pretty much as I would have expected. There has been considerable speculation about the Packers revamped line and its porousness early in the game was worth mentioning. There's also been speculation about RGIII's health and ability to play. Why do I need a bunch of commentary on yet another game where AR passes for a bunch of yards and no INTs. If I wanted the obvious, I'd read MMQB.

My only complaint (and it's minor) is I thought the two Meriwether helmet-to-helmet hits would merit a comment. But I don't know if they were watching the game that closely. I'd also have liked a bit more commentary on the block in the SF-Sea game that injured Ian Williams. But I'm sure we'll hear more about those this week too.

And for the record, I am a Packers fan.

127 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

As a Pats fan who lives in the DC area, I have to wonder if Meriweather's concussion can only help the Redskins' D.

Meriweather is extremely gifted physically, but he's really got a knack for being in the wrong place. And if he's going to make dirty play (and the ensuing penalties) part of his repertoire, I think he'll wear out his welcome in DC pretty quickly.

230 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I gained a lot of respect for Belichick when he benched Meriweather after a dirty hit a couple of years ago. NFL teams need to realize that with the concern for head injuries, safeties who play for the big hit and not the ball are liabilities. I'm hoping Rex Ryan will learn this eventually. At least Eric Smith is no longer on the Jets. Baby steps.

112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

There simply wasn't a lot said about the Packers offense on the feed, even from Packers fans. I believe the networks switched away before it was a record-tying day for Rodgers, and the few comments on the Packers offense were mostly recounting what plays they ran; we don't really need that here, it's in the play-by-play.

In the live feed, the discussion on Washington's defense followed on from the Eagles juggernaut conversation. Some of that flow and context was lost in the posted article; it was originally a conversation about the Eagles, and the Packers were only mentioned in the context of how bad Washington's defense appears to be.

Are the observations about Washington's defense - switching to coverage concepts even though the five-man rush had been working, and falling apart as a result - accurate? Did something specific cause that switch?

131 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I seem to recall there were comments about how the Packers couldn't stop the Redskins' pass rush. On the first drive, the Skins got two sacks that ended up forcing a FG. And another sack started the second drive, which went nowhere.
The third drive led to a TD, but it was a very short field.
The offense was more dominant in the second quarter, but by that point it was becoming an obvious rout. I did say something on the FO board congratulating Rodgers for tying the team's passing record, but I didn't really think it was Twitter-worthy.

173 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Wow. That's ridiculous. I have no dog in this fight, it is a technicality, and there appears to have been no advantage gained ON THIS PLAY, but it's still a violation of the rules and one could see a team taking advantage of the loose enforcement to get an advantage in the future by creating ambiguity about who is eligible.

180 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I have no way to confirm this, but at least one commenter on the pft site says that Jeffery looked over at the line judge to get confirmation that the formation was kosher before the ball was snapped (and did get such confirmation).

Of course, I do have a dog (or a Bear) in this fight, so take any thing I say with the appropriate grain of salt. (salty dogs and fighting bears! metaphors gone wild!)

225 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Receivers at every level of football look to the side judge for confirmation that they are lined up correctly...I've even seen the side judge motion to receivers and they've adjusted. If Jeffrey did this (I haven't seen the play but I have no reason to believe that he didn't) then there is no way that a penalty is going to be called on that play.

89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

During the Chargers/Eagles game, does anyone have any idea what DeSean Jackson did after Michael Vick's touchdown run in the 4th quarter? Whatever it was, it was far from the play and resulted in a 15 yard penalty. CBS never showed a replay, but they made viewers endure having to hear Dan Dierdorf go on and on about how it may have just cost the Eagles the game. If it was so terrible, and even more terrible then the Eagles' inability to cover anyone, why not show it if it has such an impact on the game?

I do feel terrible for Malcolm Floyd; that was an unfortunate hit and I hope he's okay. I felt there was no way he or DeMeco Ryans could have avoided that collision. How does everyone here feel about it? On PFT last night, Florio argued that the play should have drew a penalty, because the NFL rulebook states that if the receiver does not have the ball long enough for that play to be ruled a fumble, he is still considered a defenseless receiver. Rodney Harrison argued in favor of the defensive player(s) on that play just before the Sunday Night game, stating that if receivers are going to duck their heads into defensive players and want to avoid a collision, they should be ruled down the moment they duck their head down.

100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

During the Chargers/Eagles game, does anyone have any idea what DeSean Jackson did after Michael Vick's touchdown run in the 4th quarter?

He shoved Shareece Wright after the play, right in front of two refs.

“I just turned around and pushed him back as a reaction thing,” Jackson said. “A lot of times guys see how little I am and try to be over-aggressive. That kind of gets the best of me. I was just playing the game but unfortunately that call was made against me. I didn’t really think it was that big of a call but that’s what happens.”

92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

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

It wasn't called because it wasn't a penalty. It was a legal block because it met the legal chop criteria:
1) It was a running play.
2) The o-lineman who went high/low were next to each other.
3) The chop took place in the direction the play was going.

107 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

There was a flaw in Aaron's math using the burke formula. The win expectation after a missed field goal was the same as a failed fourth down conversion attempt, despite the fact the field position difference was 7 yards.

114 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

My problem with that analysis is the implication that the difference between 82%, 88%, and 89% win expectation is significant. The purely Poisson statistical error on those numbers is probably at least a few percent (none of those exact situations has actually come up 10,000 times in the relevant history of the NFL), and the systematic uncertainties due to differences in team quality, weather, etc., are probably much larger.

115 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

regarding the CLE/BAL game that I fault nobody for skipping if you're not a fan of the teams, I was thinking that despite more or less pedestrian numbers, Joe Flacco's day may reflect well in the DYAR rankings becaause he seemed to be converting a lot of third downs.

Also, he really needs another reliable receiver because this is getting ridiculous. Marlon Brown is encouraging but he's raw. Clark seems to be a non-factor, and Dickson's frying pans for hands is well documented. Oi.

192 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

It just seems like such a bad move, personnel-wise.

I know Torrey Smith is a good young receiver, but Boldin helped them so much last season, esp. during the playoffs. He's a matchup nightmare. Even when he's covered, he still makes catches.

197 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Again, I have to disagree. This was the same receiver that writers wrote would be assuredly a cap casualty last year, prior to the playoffs. He makes great catches, but gains very little separation at all. I watched most of his postseason games. I'll give him his due in the red zone, but the rest of the time, he was blanketed but flacco threaded it. All that to say, a matchup nightmare is a gross exaggeration of his abilities. Again, looking at his numbers, the last time he had over 1k in receiving yards was in 2009.

207 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

A couple points on Boldin:

If he is so valuable, why did every team save the 49er's deem him not worthy of a 6th rd pick?

He's one of the slowest WR's in the league, so the fact that he can't get separation is a problem. He made insane catches in the postseason, but he's likely to decline in the future given his age.

Getting rid of Boldin looks a lot worse after Pitta got hurt, since he has the same skill set and was supposed to replace his production over the middle.

Would you rather have Boldin for one year, or Dumervil for 5, Canty for 3, and Daryl Smith for 1? These are the Ravens starting OLB, DE, and ILB, and the Ravens wouldn't have been able to pay them without trading Boldin.

210 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Because -
1) If you traded for Boldin, his salary was $6,000,000 and he was a FA after one year.
2) If you didn't keep him, you'd be out a #6 pick for nothing. Anyone then could have signed him.
3) It's not like teams didn't want him. He's just a great example that the NFL is a business. There were probably some teams thinking that the Ravens would cut him for the salary cap space and they could get him for less money, or at least not give up a draft pick.

I understand where you are coming from. I've reached the point where I think low draft picks have become overvalued in relation to what teams might garner in a trade. I'd rather have an experienced backup offensive lineman or backup QB than a 6th round pick. (Clearly, Ted Thompson disagrees.) But there isn't a big demand for 30+ players at most positions.

139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Re: Matt Schaub comment. That kind of INT strikes me as one where it's unclear if it's a QB or WR who's to blame.

It wasn't a QB missing or throwing behind his WR, it was a QB throwing to a place where he expected his WR to be. I'm not saying it certainly wasn't Schaub's fault, but I'd think it's a possibility that Keshawn Martin was supposed to turn back for the ball instead of running straight up the field.

It reminded me of a prime time pick-6 from Romo to Dez Bryant last year where it was clear that Bryant ran the wrong route.

148 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Thoughts on the 49ers' disaster:

- What is going on with the run game? Two weeks and about a hundred total yards on nearly fifty carries (not including scrambles) from a unit that has been dominant for two years. The personnel is the same so it must be a schematic problem. They love to run outside but so far that's been taken away and they are struggling to get movement on their beloved power plays. How hard would it be to run an inside zone or a lead iso? If you can't throw on Seattle because they are so tough then you'd better be able to run.

- On the Justin Smith offside non-call, I don't know the rule exactly. His feet were onside but his upper torso and head were offside, is that offsides? I don't know.

- The whistle from the stands put the refs in a difficult position. By the time they'd realised what had happened the niners had blocked the punt. At that stage one side was going to be mightily pissed whatever they did. I do think it's a bit odd that they didn't call a false start. If you're going to try to cultivate the loudest stadium ever then I think the likelihood of this increases, if all the refs could have heard the whistle the play would probably have been aborted.

- I don't really agree with Danny that the niner pass protection was bad, for most of the day Kaepernick had time to scan the field, there was just nobody to throw to. I also don't think the 49ers defense had a bad day, with the exception of the inexcusable personal fouls that extended two TD drives. The only major issues were a couple of blown coverages and the now usual Nnamdi Nnon-tackling. For the most part they bottled the Seahawks up quite well but were put in a hole by a woeful offensive day.

165 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I think Danny's problem wasn't the number of penalties but the type that were called and the times they were called. While I won't go full conspiracy on this, I think the inopportune time really shines. It simply cannot be overstated how huge a 15 yard penalty and automatic first down changes the game. It happened last week with the 49ers and they were on the wrong side of it this week. Dvoa may not factor it in, but its essentially the difference between a long field goal and a td. Those things change the game.

175 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

That's life in the NFL. 15 yard penalties at inopportune times are no different than a dropped pass on 3rd down, or a turnover deep in your own territory. Any of them are bad plays that can cost you the game, or turn a relatively close game into a rout.

176 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

1) I thought smith offsides not obvious live
2) inadvertent whistle: what is a ref supposed to do? Seattle might want to control their home crowd, LOL
3) I'm not going to blame the game on the refs. If SF plays smarter it would have been closer, but victory seems doubtful
4) OL: Davis was horrible (Anthony). And maybe the quickness of Seattle is a matchup problem on the road, particularly. Plus no respect for the receivers allowed 8 in box, sometimes seemed like more.

204 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

This happened in a Ravens-Steelers playoff game a while back. After Roethlisberger threw what ended up being called a fumble but was very close to being an incomplete pass there was an inadvertent whistle (no way to know if it was an official or from the stands). Almost everybody on the field assumed that meant the play was dead since they saw what appeared to be an incomplete pass and heard a whistle that seemed to indicate the same. But one Raven after standing around a while picked it up and ran it for a touchdown.

I thought it was tremendously unfair then and I this is as well. Players have to respect the whistle. Not doing so is unsportsmanlike and leads to injury. You cannot put forth a situation where players have an advantage to gain by being skeptical of it. When the players hear the whistle and everyone stops, that is a dead play irrespective of whether the normal rules of play would have it be dead. This is analogous to a player who goes down untouched but thinks he has been; when he stands up and mills around he has given himself up. You can't let him decide it's live ten seconds later and run for a touchdown, and you can't let an opponent blindside him when he thinks the play is over. If, like in this case, it happens before a snap, you run in and stop that play just like you do when players fail to hear a whistle on a false start.

206 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I agree. I've seen this happen in soccer too, though fortunately the health implications in soccer are lower than in gridiron football. This is why I hated the rule change that allowed an incomplete pass, blown dead, to be overturned into a fumble on review. Players ought never to be given an incentive to keep playing past the referee's whistle.

213 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

If this is the Corey Redding TD in the 2010 Divisional Game, I don't remember hearing an inadvertent whistle, or remembering anyone commenting on one during or after the game. I just think everyone assumed it was an incomplete pass except for Redding (and a few other Ravens).

150 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I came away both impressed and not so impressed by Russell Wilson last night. He's amazingly quick and great at improvising his way to big plays. But I think he's still very raw (maybe not quite as raw as Kaepernick). I think Michaels and Collinsworth were over-praising his performance, which, good opposing defense or not, was still only 8/19, 142 yards, with one TD and one pick.

154 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I thought wilson was awful most of the night. While he was going up against a good D and I'm not a huge fan of his receivers, I agree with you, he still looks very raw. As for Kaep, I would have to ask someone whos seen the all 22, but I couldn't tell if Kaep was just frenetic and missed guys or were there simply no open receivers all night? I couldn't tell from normal tv angles.

160 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Also, I have to say as a Lions fan I wasn't at all disappointed when they let Cliff Avril walk, but at least in one game with the Seahawks he looked pretty good. Maybe it wasn't all from Suh taking up double teams.

174 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

It seems to be taking Wilson a little while to get into the flow of a game. Against Carolina, he started out 1 for 5, and against SF, 1 for 9.

Given he finished the two games 24-28 and 7-10 after those poor starts, maybe it's just a matter of changing the play calling system the first quarter or so.

152 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

As an Indianapolis fan, I was optimistic about this team's progression in terms of quality of play(if not necessarily their number of wins). After two games, I'm quite pessimistic. As people noted above, this defense is as bad as last year. Greg Tollar is essentially vaughn with a different name on his jersey. The linebackers look slow because they probably are slow and the defensive line is more or less punchless. The real problem with this defense, as I've stated in the past, is that it has no stars at all. No one. Not one near elite player at any level. No one to build around at all. What I would kill for even just one of the 49ers many stars on defense.

On offense - I'm not liking Pep hamilton at all. The real problem is, the offense feels like its playing to its talent, not above it. Last year, BA seemed to have an offense that played above its talent. Part of it is pep's insistence on staying balanced and working out of conventional formations with two tight end and two running back formation stuff. The whole passing game itself feels very conventional. While the power looks works for teams like seahawks, 49ers, and others - the colts just don't have the talent. I wish this team would transition to being a complete shotgun spread team and just throw most of the time. It may lead to more sacks, hits, and ints - but it will be more effective both in the short and long run.

155 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

It really seems that the Colts' coaches are drawing up game plans based on the players they wish they had, instead of who the actually have... I've always seen not adjusting to the strengths and weaknesses of your team a sign of bad coaching.

182 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I'll take that a step further and say the problem may be they actually think they have the right guys. They have something like 11 new starters from last season so you can't accuse them of standing pat, but it's not clear that many of the additions were significant upgrades. They give off the vibe that they think they've already arrived and just need fine-tuning when in reality they're a ways from being a real contender.

171 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

@Danny Tuccitto,

I will have to take your comment as bias because Seattle was repeatedly stiffed by calls throughout the first half, to the point that Al Michaels mentioned it during the broadcast. Aside from home-cooking research, selective memory is another well-established bias.

178 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Scott, I assume you meant Von Miller here? ;)

"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."

And yes, I'd say they are playing pretty well overall considering no Von (arguably one of top 3 defensive players in league) and no Champ Bailey for that matter.

187 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I like this "Audibles" featurea nd would like it even better if the posts and tweets included times, or if possible, references to where in the game the comment occurred.

I would appreciate each comment more if it contained such context as, "8:30 2nd Qtr, Giants 10, Cowboys 7."

While that detail might be too much to ask, a simple timestamp for each post or tweet would at least help me to gather at what point in the game each occurred.

Thanks for a great, new feature!

208 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I really want to like this new format, because I know it let's you get fans involved and be in the moment. But it works little when it works at all. The only parts that are readable are when you get into a dialog with each other or a fan.. That goes for the long form, too.

This is like improv. You can't each just speak lines in a vacuum. And in the long form part, you can't monologue like a super villain. It just doesn't work.

211 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

My own perception is that this week was clearly better than last week for content, which makes me think it may take a few weeks for writers to get the hang of what will and won't work in this format. The dialogue was the best part of the old format too, and there's no reason that can't continue to be the case.

220 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Let us remember that we can’t force anyone to love us. We can’t beg someone to stay when they want to leave and be with someone else. This is what love is all about. However, the end of love is not the end of life. It should be the beginning of understanding that love leaves for a reason, but never leaves without a lesson.
saree blouse

245 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Does it seem like some substance is lacking? Or, is it just me? I've given it two weeks. Always dug audibles, getting used to the new format. Obviously, I am not the only...

Change is good.

247 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"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."

Except those stats aren't worthless. As explained on FO, there's no significant difference between stats in close games and stats in "garbage time" -- unless you look at total passing yards, which isn't strongly correlated with wins.

By the way,
RGIII in first half: 8.23 yards/attempt
RGIII in second half vs. "prevent" defenses (even though he was still being blitzed and was naturally throwing the ball into Packers coverage anyway to help get him team back into the game): 7.89 yards/attempt

When RGIII threw the ball, he moved the ball. That INT was not on him (a muffed catch by Josh Wilson), and while they didn't score TDs, his offense got into scoring position twice, which Shanahan didn't take advantage of because of injuries to the sure-footed Kai Forvath. The issue was that his Packers counterpart was moving the ball at an extra 2 yards/attempt in the first half, on over twice as many attempts. The 4 TDs (and the 20 yard bouns per TD a la Chase Stuart) increases that disparity between the QBs. And, to add further insult to injury, Packers RBs ran for 65 yards on 8 carries.

The Redskins offense (or lack thereof) is the most overblown topic in the NFL. Better starts relative to the competition certainly helps, but 4 parts of the game is played by personnel that RGIII, Morris, Cousins, name your offensive player have virtually zero control over.