Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Audibles at the Line: Week 5
Audibles at the Line: Week 5
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

compiled by Rivers McCown and Ben Jones

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.

New Orleans Saints 26 at Chicago Bears 18


@GFarri1: Pierre Thomas seems to always contort his body to get that 15% more than Ingram on the same run.

@GFarri1: Thru 3 drives, Bears O hasn't had a play that worked as they designed. All successful plays just Cutler making something happen.

‏@GFarri1: 3rd time Bears have run a screen on 3rd&14+ against a 3 man rush. All ended in 4th and 5. Far too conservative playcalls.

Mike Ridley: Tillman with yet another forced fumble. He's a sniper with that right hand.

‏@AMSportsLive1: Bears have looked anemic the last two weeks. CIN/MIN/PIT made them look better than they are. DET/NO made them look worse.

New England Patriots 6 at Cincinnati Bengals 13


Robert Weintraub: Jay Gruden doesn't cover his mouth when he calls plays. Explains a lot, actually.

Aaron Schatz: Kenbrell Thompkins' Madden ratings should read "regular catch: 40, spectacular catch: 99"

Aaron Schatz: This 3-0 CIN score is a great demonstration of how the Pats defense is much improved and their offense is a freakin' mess.

Robert Weintraub: One positive note from NE-CIN -- those who say tackling is a lost art in the NFL need to watch this game tape.

JJ Cooper: Smart decision by Marvin Lewis to go for it on 4th and goal in 4Q against Pats. Works out with a TD.

Ben Muth: If Gronk's absence leads to more Nate Solder targets I'm all for it.

Robert Weintraub: PS--Bill Belichick just kicked the FG on 4th and goal from the 1.

‏@WhispersMoCo: Really interested on the numbers about whether the Pats should have gone for TD there. They need a TD. If not now, then when?

Aaron Schatz: I disagree with Belichick decision to punt. No matter where field position was, a Bengals first down ends game.

Robert Weintraub: Give Kevin Huber a plus for that big time punt in the pouring rain when Cincy needed it.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots, enough with the one-yard passes. There's less than a minute left. KNOCK IT OFF.

Ben Muth: The rain in this Cin-NE game reminds me of The Last Boy Scout except Julian Edelman probably isn't packing.

Robert Weintraub: OK that game took 15 years off my life. I need Gio, Crocker et al to explain to my kids why Im not around for their adulthood.


Aaron Schatz: Now, let's be clear: Tom Brady's accuracy is off this year. He seems to overthrow guys more often than in the pass, and there are some bad underthrows too. The Patriots did have a couple of outright drops by their receivers, not just the young guys but also Danny Amendola. For the Bengals, Andy Dalton made a couple of really bad decisions, including the pass where he threw it directly to Brandon Spikes in the red zone.

That aside: Wow, what a great game by both of these defenses, especially considering that the Patriots were doing it without Vince Wilfork (and later on, without Tommy Kelly) while the Bengals were missing Leon Hall. The Bengals defensive line was just vicious today. There were plays where guys just knifed in before the Patriots blocker could even get to them. They were stuffing runs up the middle easily. The Bengals cornerbacks were incredible; a lot of the plays that were called drops by the announcers were really passes defensed. There were passes that the receivers probably should have caught, but still, what made those passes incomplete was usually contact by the Bengals defenders, not an outright drop by an open receiver. For the Patriots, it's remarkable that they nearly stoned the Bengals at the goal line late in the game despite playing without Wilfork and with Kelly hurting. Their cornerbacks played well too; Aqib Talib held A.J. Green to five catches for 61 yards, not a complete shutdown but still pretty damn good against the guy I think is the second-best wide receiver in the whole NFL right now. And Spikes was insane stuffing runs up the middle, not to mention that pick I noted before.

I could probably do this week's FO Madden cards as Spikes, Andre Smith, and three Bengals defensive players, and it would make total sense. What I can't figure out is how the Bengals were only 16th in defensive DVOA *before* this game.

J.J. Cooper: This was such a bizarre game for my normal expectations of what the Patriots will do. New England's defense kept giving the Patriots one more chance to tie the game while the Patriots offense failed to take advantage of those multiple opportunities. Like Aaron said, Brady looked bad at times. Actually, at times he looked awful. Brady had a miscommunication or two with receivers where balls landed 10 yards away from anyone -- but he also had some throws where he just missed receivers badly.

For the Bengals, it was just enough offense, but the defense deserves plenty of praise. When Cincinnati's offense couldn't close out the game repeatedly in the fourth quarter, the defense kept coming up with stop after stop. Giovani Bernard fumbled to give the Patriots the ball with 3:34 left, so the defense forced a three-and-out. The Bengals couldn't get the one first down they needed to ice the game, so the Bengals defense responded by holding Brady to 1-for-6 for 6 yards with a game-ending interception on the Pats final drive. The series would have been over earlier, but the Bengals were flagged for offsides on fourth-and-5 and then gave up another 15 yards on a roughing the passer penalty.

Rob Weintraub: Considering the Bengals were playing without their two best defensive players (Hall and Michael Johnson), and New England without its (Vince), this was a damn good defensive performance by both teams. The tackling superb, the gap discipline mostly excellent, consistent pass rush on both sides (edge Cincy, but NE got some good middle rushes going all game, through blitzing as well as some twist action), and outstanding coverage. The monsoon helped the Bengals at the end, of course, but they earned the win with strong play long before that. Mike Zimmer got the game ball, and deservedly so. Let's remember the Bengals corners for this one were Terence Newman, age 75, the artist formerly known as Pacman, and at third corner, a good deal of the time it was Chris Crocker -- a safety brought back once more before last week's game. That's the group that shut down Tom Terrific, who may not be 2007 Brady but looked just fine against Atlanta a week ago. Zim had them in the right spots all day, and the front seven was relentless, which helped.

I don't know much about Patrick Graham, the Pats' d-line coach, but either he or Belichick, or more likely both, deserve credit -- they coached up the replacement DTs, including vet Tommy Kelly and some no-name young'uns, and they quite adequately replaced Wilfork. They were helped by Spikes (as Aaron mentioned) and Jerod Mayo, who were all over the field. Obvious run situations were thrown back repeatedly, and of course Cincy helped them out by being very conservative in important spots. The disaster at the end of the first half in Chicago opening day still haunts Jay Gruden -- he is coaching the end of the half so as not to give up points after an inevitable punt, not to score himself.

Where the Bengals had success it was where the Pats are vulnerable -- the tight ends had nine catches between them, and both backs found room on stretch plays. On a first watch I'd call out Steve Gregory and Dont'a Hightower as weak links in pass defense. This is all relative, of course -- this may have been the best defensive game played this season. In that context, Dalton had a decent game, though all anyone will recall is the red zone pick (the first of his career), which was an awful decision. Otherwise, he spread the ball around, offset some sacks with a few good runs (including a read-option keeper early that loosened up the run D just a smdge), and threw a tremendous pass to Marvin Jones on third-and-15 out of his own end zone to key the drive that resulted in the game's long touchdown. After last week, I'll take it (and by transitive property, obviously the Patriots were idiots to be starting Brady over Hoyer all these years).

And give a shout out to both punters -- Kevin Huber uncorked a 57-yard monster out of the Bengals end zone just before the Pats last drive, and Ryan Allen pinned the Bengals deep all game (five times inside the ten).

Aaron Schatz: Well, let's be clear: Geno Atkins is Cincinnati's best defensive player, and he was playing, and he was good.

Cian Fahey: He's second-best to Hall! But I'm a cornerback advocate, so...

Scott Kacsmar: Didn't see the early sacks, but were they of the interior pressure variety that Brady so famously struggles with compared to outside rush? What surprised me on the last drive was how many passes Brady was throwing that were bad decisions that would have burned a lot of clock. It's as if he was managing a three-point deficit instead of seven. It was actually good that some of those passes were dropped.

Aaron Schatz: No, the two early sacks were:

1) Atkins knifed in on run action. Ben Muth can tell me if I'm describing this right, but it looked like everyone on the Patriots line was run-blocking right, and Atkins got in so fast that Nate Solder couldn't get over to the right fast enough to actually stop him. Brady went down right after the play-fake. Not really an issue of Brady not being able to take up the middle pressure, he never even saw it because he was trying to just play fake.

2) Wallace Gilberry coming from the right end position. I'm not sure what happened here, because Solder started by helping Logan Mankins on the defensive tackle and then tried to move over to get Gilberry, but by that point Gilberry wasn't going to be stopped. Weird line call, I think.

Rob Weintraub: Not counting prior performance -- through the first four games, MJ has been the best Bengals defensive lineman by far. Geno has been on the milk carton for a couple of games.

Matt Waldman: I think a lot of people are just coming to the realization that much of the offense's poor points this year have been due to inaccurate passes from Brady. The drops were so glaring that its easy for folks to look at some of the inaccurate throws and claim poor or incorrect routes by the receivers. This has often been the case, but since Week 1 Brady has demonstrated lackluster ball placement on routes that were clearly no one's fault but the Patriots' quarterback.

Although Brady will begin to earn more of the scrutiny now that some of the more egregious drops have decreased, I'm still of the mindset that this offense will continue to improve as the season progresses. The fact that Brady doesn't have a familiar and trusted receiver from seasons past in the lineup has to contribute to some level of hesitation on his part. Even the faintest delay of execution will contribute to the kinds of inaccuracies I've seen for five weeks now.

I also thought the Patriots overreacted with the LeGarrette Blount fumble when they pulled him from the game until the fourth quarter. Blount was running well in the first quarter and I think they hurt themselves while making a point to the running back. As I've mentioned often, Adrian Peterson fumbled the ball 20 times during his first three seasons in the NFL. Darren Sproles had 13 fumbles during his first five season. Eric Dickerson fumbled 39 times during his first 3 seasons! The following three seasons he decreased that total to a mere 22 -- he was fumbling nearly once a week during his first 5 seasons.

Blount is no Peterson or Dickerson, but he was placing the Patriots in good down-and-distance situations before Carlos Dunlap's excellent chop on a longer run. Difference makers tread the line between risk and recklessness and the factor behind both qualities is high effort. Does Tom Brady get benched for throwing an interception? Blount was doing more to pace this offense than Brady early, but whomever made the decision to bench Blount for much of the contest didn't recognize it - or care to acknowledge it.

Seattle Seahawks 28 at Indianapolis Colts 34


Vincent Verhei: Just saw a taunting penalty on a touchback in Indy. That's a new one.

Vincent Verhei: On Colts TD on blocked field goal, punter Jon Ryan actually ran the dude down from behind, but then missed the tackle.

Scott Kacsmar: Darius Butler drew that OPI flag on Golden Tate? Damn. Referee must be a Packers fan.

Ben Muth: Seattle leads the league in guys that I've never heard that look really good. Nice TD catch on a jump ball by somebody named Kearse

Peter Koski: Luck with a beautiful spin away from pressure and then immediately sets his feet to make a great first down pass. QB treat w/ SEA-IND

Vincent Verhei: Seahawks go for it on fourth-and-9 instead of long FG at end of half. It results in a fumble and near-TD. But still.

Scott Kacsmar: Remember fake Razor Ramon and fake Diesel? Robert Hughes (Colts) is the fake Joseph Addai.

Vincent Verhei: Seahawks keep getting field goals. That is a bad way to protect a lead

@TerrapinPrime: Did you see lynch palm that ball? Marshawn Jordan in the building

Vincent Verhei: Seahawks bit so hard on the fake screen that two "blockers" were wide-open.

Aaron Schatz: Colts are for real, man. Thought regression of fortune would cancel out offensive improvement. Did not foresee defensive improvement.

Rivers McCown: Well, that was a fun two years of not having to worry about the Colts in the AFC South. That's over.

@CyrisJonfs: Is Andrew Luck Fezzik?


Vince Verhei: At halftime, I noted on Twitter that the Seahawks were killing the Colts except for two big plays (a 75-yard T.Y. Hilton touchdown and a blocked field goal that was returned for a score). I heard from some angry Colts fans who interpreted this as a slam on their team, which was not my intent. I meant two things: 1) If the second half played out like the first, then Seattle was likely to win, and 2) The Seahawks had played their best half of football maybe all year and were only ahead by two points.

As it turned out, the second half played out nothing like the first. The Seahawks moved the ball but couldn't get any touchdowns. Russell Wilson overthrew a wide-open Golden Tate for what should have been a touchdown, and was tackled in the open field short of a first down by Jerrell Freeman on an option keeper on a key third-and-2. Things on defense were worse, as the Seahawks were repeatedly caught with too many or too few men on the field (yes, they made both mistakes), doubling one receiver and leaving others open, and burning timeouts -- their last one was called with nearly nine minutes left in the game. And when they did play well, Andrew Luck would just make a great throw anyway. He's just really really good, and he can throw well on the run and hit well-covered receivers and all those things that really really good quarterbacks do. But mostly it's frustrating because Seattle should have been ahead by two touchdowns at halftime, not two points.

Baltimore Ravens 26 at Miami Dolphins 23


‏@laufy84: Tannehill stares down the receiver, easy interception

‏@WhispersMoCo: Flacco missed last week's memos about throwing pick sixes while protecting lead late in game.

JJ Cooper: Outstanding athletic play by Ryan Tannehill who rolls out to his left to avoid pressure turns and throws a 45-yard strike

Philadelphia Eagles 36 at New York Giants 21


‏@Phildo449er: can someone tell brian billick that you are not required to punt on 4th down.

Andrew Potter: This Giants O is utterly horrific. Run game is worse than the Jaguars. If you can't even succeed against Eagles, time to give up.

Vincent Verhei: Oh, Eli.

Jacksonville Jaguars 20 at Saint Louis Rams 34


Scott Kacsmar: Blaine Gabbert INT. I haven't laughed that hard at an INT since Schaub against the Raiders a few years ago.

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Andrew Potter: Luke Joeckel goes down for the Jaguars. Next play, pick-six. I don't even know who Gabbert was aiming for. Horrendous.

Andrew Potter: Jaguars are now tied with Matt Schaub for most pick-sixes this season.

Andrew Potter: Jaguars have the lead for the second time today!

‏@MilkmanDanimal: Haven't had a bad enough week as a Bucs fan, so watching Jaguars-Rams just to punish myself further.

Andrew Potter: @MilkmanDanimal Must be some small comfort to know that you don't even need to leave Florida for things to be worse.

Andrew Potter: Gabbert to Jeremy Ebert is not a winning red zone combination. Okay, Gabbert to anybody in any location is not a winning combination.

Andrew Potter: Blaine Gabbert now done with a left hamstring injury. Bad news for STL. Henne comes in and throws a 39-yard strike to Blackmon.

Andrew Potter: Update on Luke Joeckel: high ankle fracture means he's done for the year. How's that Monroe trade looking now?

Aaron Schatz: Luke Joeckel done for the season. Teddy Bridgewater, teal courtesy phone. Teddy Bridgewater, please answer the teal courtesy phone

‏@snakerjaker: @FO_ASchatz don't you mean the gray and yellow Gradient courtesy phone?

Kansas City Chiefs 26 at Tennessee Titans 17


Tom Gower: Titans can't run the ball and their receivers can't get open. Makes it hard to run an offense. Fans around me blaming Fitz. Whatever.

Aaron Schatz: It's five games and I can't believe Donnie Avery isn't broken yet ... or did he just break?

Aaron Schatz: Oh, man. Can we please not take KC's about-to-be 99-yard drive as proof teams should always kick a FG on the 1 yard line?

Andrew Potter: @FO_ASchatz Is a more reasonable argument that if you can't get TD in three plays on 1-goal from the 1, probably won't get it on 4th?

‏@AMSportsLive1: Titans last week vs Titans this week just goes to show how much of a difference Jake Locker made. And how much the Jets suck.


Tom Gower: I don't know what to say about this game. The Titans no-turnover streak came to an end early on the sort of unlucky bounce they hadn't had the first four games. The last 27 or so minutes of the first half saw less scoring. KC moved the ball kind of okay at times, but lacked general explosiveness. Tennessee couldn't run the ball: a mix of Dontari Poe wrecking the middle of the offensive line and a continuing general mediocrity in the run game, They couldn't throw the ball, as Ryan Fitzpatrick's timing was off and the receivers couldn't win or make contested catches. The one brief sign of life predictably shuttered out when they ran up the middle on fourth-and-goal.

Things changed some in the second half. The Titans first drive was keyed by a couple of seemingly random plays. The first, a harbinger of more to come, was a good Fitz scramble, the other an opportunistic CJ dumpoff that turned into a long touchdown. A second touchdown, on a Fitz scramble after a penalty-aided drive that started in KC territory, gave them an improbable 14-13 lead I certainly did not expect to see.

Eventually, though, the defense was asked to make too many stands. The penalty gods continued a KC drive that ended with a score that gave them the late lead. A couple Fitz interceptions, one on a contested play and the other a missed seam route, helped create the final margin of victory.

Carolina Panthers 6 at Arizona Cardinals 22


@Daniels_Ryan: Fourth and three to go from the five yard line, early in the game. Ron Rivera sends out the kicker, to no one's surprise...

@Daniels_Ryan: Cardinals getting great pressure on Cam Newton with inside blitzes. Two sacks on the same drive push Carolina out of FG range.

@Daniels_Ryan: Panthers bring their own inside blitz on the very next series, and bring down Carson Palmer.

Ben Muth: The real loser of the Levi Brown trade is Rob Housler, who is now my least favorite Cardinal. Oh & the Steelers lose that trade too.

Aaron Schatz: Ron Rivera finally takes a risk, goes for it on fourth and 1, Cam Newton makes perfect pass, and Lafell drops it. Aaarrgghhh

Aaron Schatz: Is the Arizona OL really controlling the CAR DL right now? Really? My god, they are.

Ben Muth: Panthers LG sliding out way too quickly on Campbell's safety. No threat out there, have to hang in and help your center.

Aaron Schatz: Well, apparently it's "don't notice there's a linebacker there" day in Arizona, for both Cam Newton and Carson Palmer.

Andrew Potter: That Newton interception to Daryl Washington was a terrible throw, but a great catch by Washington.

Aaron Schatz: Arizona fans booing Carson Palmer on every pick or third-down failure. What, they want John Skelton back?

@PigskinLover: Can we start tracking "carry by Mendenhall" as a QB kneel? I'd hate to penalize the Cardinals.

Tom Gower: Ron Rivera and Mike Shula have to be walking dead at this point unless they get Wayne Fontes'd, right?


Aaron Schatz: Carolina's performance in the second half of this game made me want to take the preseason projection system behind the barn and shoot it in the face. The game was pretty close in the first half. The Panthers offense was struggling but the defense looked good. But the defensive line really slowed down in the second half. It was amazing to watch the Cardinals -- THE CARDINALS (!?!?!) -- push them back on run play after run play. It helps that Andre Ellington is very shifty. He should really be Arizona's starter right now.

If you look at the numbers, the game should have been closer. The Panthers actually averaged more yards per play and had only one more turnover than the Cardinals did. But the Panthers couldn't score a touchdown in the red zone -- in fact, they never had a goal-to-go opportunity all game -- and they committed too many penalties. Another hidden stat: The Panthers intercepted Carson Palmer three times for 30 yards of returns. The Cardinals intercepted Cam Newton three times for 87 yards of returns.

The Panthers offensive line really had trouble protecting Newton, who was sacked seven times. The pressure definitely contributed to the three picks as well. Early in the game, it looked like Mike Shula finally opened the offense a bit to give Newton a chance to use his legs -- a couple read options, and bootlegs with a run/pass option -- but those plays seemed to be gone in the second half. Sigh.

Denver Broncos 51 at Dallas Cowboys 48


Scott Kacsmar: 2006 Peyton Manning in Dallas: probably a bottom 5 game for him since 2006. In other words: a career-day for Blaine Gabbert.

Scott Kacsmar: Surprised Peyton didn't get a quick play off to avoid the challenge. Maybe no one on the field realized his knee was down.

Scott Kacsmar: Cowboys on pace for 48 first regulation.

‏@pchicola: Love the Cowboys gameplan. Attack the seams vs the OLB's and the deep middle vs the safeties.

Scott Kacsmar: Manning's neck is fine of course. That's adamantium he had put in during surgery.

Scott Kacsmar: Peyton w/19 TDs in not even 4.5 games. John Elway had 19 (1986), 19 (1987) and 18 (1989) in his first 3 SB seasons.

@hscer: With that TD and still no picks, Manning does what Brady couldn't: go 19-0.

Tom Gower: Nice play by Clark on that Moreno run, getting a hand out to slow Lee just enough while maintaining his block

Andrew Potter: Did Phil Simms just advocate Dallas defense making Peyton Manning throw the football rather than encouraging Montee Ball to carry it?

‏@Foosball_Wizard: Peyton Manning delivered the ball to the endzone on that bootleg a little slower than Papa John's delivers pizza.

Andrew Potter: What has happened to Knowshon Moreno the past year? Massively improved player. Can't be purely Manning Effect, can it?

Andrew Potter: Romo's been superb in this game, but Manning's been so good that it hardly even matters.

@bwe2684: Any reason why Dallas doesn't onside kick after every score?

Andrew Potter: Why do announcers need a book to tell them that down 5 to the Broncos at the end of Q3, you go for 2? Surely that's just arithmetic?

‏@TerrapinPrime: The game defense forgot

Aaron Schatz: Denver defense was overrated before this week, 19th in DVOA. Will be worse after this game. Offense: Still awesome.

Tom Gower: NFL record for points in a game is 113. We're at 89, which means holy smokes, how did that game happen?

Andrew Potter: @ThomasGower NYG@WAS, 1966. Washington had 4 rushing TDs, 3 passing, a fumble return, and an interception return TD.

‏@MilkmanDanimal: Romo has 500+ yards and 5 TDs, and if Dallas loses it'll be because "he plays badly in close games" or some other idiocy.

‏@MilkmanDanimal: Please, somebody lock Skip Bayless in a box before he gets a chance to start talking about Romo.

Rivers McCown: Tony Romo is bad at foogball now. Where is my check for analysis

Aaron Schatz: Moreno getting the first down and not the touchdown was probably the best possible outcome for the Broncos there with 1:35 left.


Mike Ridley: I can't recall an NFL game that showed such an utter disregard for defense. It was more reminiscent of an NBA All-Star game than an NFL contest.

Dallas did a great job in exploiting the flaws everybody predicted would plague the Denver defense without Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil, or Champ Bailey. Terrance Williams was fantastic, Dez Bryant was Dez Bryant and even Cole Beasley had meaningful contributions. As a Cowboys fan, I can't remember that many yards after the catch for a Dallas receiving corps.

Of course, the story of the game is Romo's late interception. While the interception did seal the game, it shouldn't take away from how sharp Romo was up to that point. This was by far his best performance of the season, interception included. He was accurate on his deep balls, hit his receivers in stride on timing routes, and did a nice job identifying mismatches in the secondary. The fact that he led them back from 15 down to eventually take a seven-point lead is something that the Cowboys should hang their hat on going forward, as previous Cowboys teams would've likely folded.

On the Denver side of things, there isn't much to say that hasn't been/won't be said later. This team is the definition of an offensive juggernaut. Even with Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker being "limited" to a combined 106 yards, Manning got large contributions from Julius Thomas, Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno. There are just too many weapons for Manning to use for a defense to stop. Holding this team to a field goal should be seen as a quality stop.

Tom Gower: I'll have to rewatch this game and break it down to see just how much of what Dallas did was the result of major flaws in Denver's defense and how much the predictable result of a defense missing a number of key players and some occasional lapses that can be fixed with better technique and concentration (I noted Webster's on Twitter, and DR-C had one on a big Dez play).

I'd say the same about the Dallas D, except I'm already disposed to believe the Broncos really are that good on offense.

Houston Texans 3 at San Francisco 49ers 34


Aaron Schatz: OK, now, that's ridiculous. Matt Schaub, four pick-sixes in four straight games. Trumaine Brock sat right on that pass.

‏@WhispersMoCo: Schaub's one chance for immortality: if we start calling the Pick Six the Schaub.

Rivers McCown: Texans should of just run the Single Wing with J.J. Watt.

Rivers McCown: DID YOU KNOW: All Houston receivers have changed their last name to "short of the first" in a show of solidarity.

Andrew Potter: This is genuinely painful to watch. If the DB had caught that INT cleanly, that would have been pick-six no. 5 of Schaub's season.

‏@MilkmanDanimal: Has Houston's defense begun burning Matt Schaub in effigy yet? Or just plain burning Matt Schaub?

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Aaron Schatz: I'm thinking the Texans may be using their mid-first round pick on a quarterback next year.

Vincent Verhei: Remember when people said the Falcons should have kept Schaub and traded Vick? Criminal activity aside, it seems silly now.

‏@itnw0628: After this week, I expect Colts to have highest odds of winning the division in AFC.

Aaron Schatz: This is painful. I'm feeling serious empathy for Houston fans. It's like the entire offense disintegrated since halftime of last week

Rivers McCown: Why yes NBC, I do need something else ... to get me through this ... semi-Schaubbed kinda life.

Aaron Schatz: Three different readers have tweeted me to tell me Schaub has turned into late-career Jake Delhomme.

Rivers McCown: Seriously though guys ... J.J. Watt single wing. Think about it? I'll draw the plays up and everything.

Scott Kacsmar: I don't see post-Arizona Jake Delhomme in Matt Schaub. More like post-Cincinnati Carson Palmer mixed with drunk Kerry Collins.

Mike Ridley: I never thought I'd see the day Tony Romo wasn't the least liked QB in Texas.


Rivers McCown: I don't like football anymore.

Tom Gower: More seriously, though, an early pick-six is about the worst possible start for a team that benefits so much from being on schedule and getting the most they can out of a (generally very, very good) plan. Alas, we may have gotten to the point where everyone knows the plan, and the individual parts aren't working well enough to permit it to work anyway.

Tim Gerheim: At what point does the injury risk in a game exceed the value of the "practice"? Arian Foster doesn't need to keep getting clobbered, and J.J. Watt doesn't need to risk injury on defense. Why not just take a knee and punt, then put 11 guys by the sidelines to show the 49ers your intentions? Frank Gore can just walk around the field for seven minutes and everyone can go home healthy. Once you're not winning the game, does it matter anymore if you keep trying? As I write this it's all backups anyway.

Matt Waldman: Frank Gore is a perfect example why speed is overrated. Defenders hate facing him because of his patience, balance, and strength. I've mentioned this often, but Larry Coker, the former UM head coach who recruited Gore -- and also was the running back coach who recruited the likes of Barry Sanders and Thurman Thomas -- said Gore was the best high school back he ever saw. Before Gore suffered two knee injuries at UM he was one of the most impressive running backs I've seen in terms of vision, quickness, agility, and speed. Considering that Gore is arguably one of the three best 49ers runners of all-time and is this good with pedestrian NFL speed, think of what he could have been if he never got hurt.

Imagine if Robert Griffin never recovers his blinding long speed but develops into a quality pocket passer within shouting distance of the likes of Steve Young and Aaron Rodgers. We'll invariably lament what Griffin could have been. This is how I'd characterize Gore's lost speed between his early days at UM and his entry to the NFL.

Danny Tuccitto: I have approximately zero scouting acumen, but I whole-heartedly second Matt's motion about Frank Gore -- especially with respect to his vision. It's been countless times through his career where I've seen Gore become Houdini, and make an anticipatory cut in the open field, not to make an immediate tackler miss, but to make a secondary tackler's pursuit angle laughable. For instance, here's a disappearing act he dropped on Rams safety Rodney McLeod in a run last Thursday night (at age 30, no less):

But what's always fascinated me about his NFL career has been that it lays bare how much of a sham the Wonderlic is. If that test was worth anything, you would never see a guy who scores 6 out of 50 have such a grasp of what "running smartly" means, and you also wouldn't see a guy who learned so quickly to transition from a speedy wunderkind at Gables High/early-UM to the "savvy" runner he's been in the NFL.

Matt Waldman: Plus Danny, there are a lot of "book smart" guys out there who wouldn't have the stones or the heart like Gore did as a rookie to yell at his veteran teammates in the locker room after a loss when they were cutting up and celebrating what they were going to do after work. I'll take passion, commitment, and football skill over a standardized test score, thank you very much.

Danny Tuccitto: At a time like this, my thoughts are with Rivers. It must have been a dark, dark place he went to tonight.

Rivers McCown: Can't sleep, Schaub'll pick-six me. Can't sleep, Schaub'll pick-six me.

San Diego Chargers 17 at Oakland Raiders 27


Scott Kacsmar: This game is already better than the last one. Like, these 117 seconds > whole 60 minutes of HOU/SF

Andrew Potter: First series for SD, Rivers throws a deep ball to a wide open defensive back. Overthrew Eddie Royal by about ten yards on third down

@PTMovieGuy: Raiders having success this drive, mixing up read-options, pistols, TE wing-flex/full house. Pryor pretty accurate

Aaron Schatz: Richard Marshall just had what you might call an "inadvertant flop." He slipped on the grass, rather than falling on purpose but insisted he was pushed. Looked like pretty light contact from Denarius Moore, who gets the TD

@pchicola: In era of zone blocking, love watching power running teams (SF, OAK). A decade ago, in era of power blocking, watching DEN was sweet

Rivers McCown: Pryor may not have NFL-level pocket passing skills, but he has Russell Wilson-level escapability.

@PTMovieGuy: How's this for ST/fumble luck? OAK blocks FG, but ball bounces to SD TE, who runs for 1st down

Andrew Potter: Well this game sure puts a dent in Rivers' potential MVNP (most valuable non-Peyton) season.

Danny Tuccitto: LOL! what a choker, that Philip Rivers! -- Tony Romo


Matt Waldman: This has probably been discussed earlier this year, but I have been so impressed with Terrelle Pryor's development. The fact that he has corrected a lot of the flaws with his footwork and release while bluntly telling the media that he didn't know how to throw the football when he arrived in the NFL is a stark contrast to the likes of Tim Tebow, who in hindsight could have borrowed a page from Pryor's book of "keep your head down, your mouth shut, and the cameras away" while grinding away at his craft. I thought the Raiders had beer goggles for Pryor when they drafted him (mistaking him for a future Steve McNair). But if we consider 2013 his rookie year, I would have pegged him as a top-20 overall pick.

His placement, movement in the pocket, and basic skill reading defenses is night and day better than what I saw from him at Ohio State. While I often said Pryor had game-changing talent, there are so many players who fail to work as hard or as smart as Pryor has. It's this work that has made me a fan -- especially as a part of an organization that has been in flux for so long.

Tonight's performances from Keenan Allen and Vincent Brown were indicative of the players I've studied at Cal and San Diego State, respectively. Allen in particular finally looks healthy and demonstrated why he's one of the best all-around receivers of this rookie class.


311 comments, Last at 09 Oct 2013, 1:26pm

#1 by PatsFan // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:15am

I agree with Aaron et al that something's up with Brady. There are errors being made that I don't believe can all be pinned on the new receivers. I think Brady's lack of confidence in them is bollixing up his throws. He's got to get over that.

I also think (contra many posters in various Pats fan forums) that the loss of Welker doesn't have much to do with this. The big difference isn't no Welker. The big difference is that with the murdering idiot gone and Gronk out and Vereen out, the NE offense has lost its ability to run pretty much any play from a given formation. That made things really, really hard on opposing defenses.

I totally believe Belichick should have gone for the TD instead of taking the FG. NE was lucky to be that close to the goal line in the first place and the way they were playing there was no compelling reason to believe they'd ever get that close again. Classic (unfortunately) playing to postpone the loss rather than playing to win.

(Speaking of which, this site is ruining me with respect to "regular" football forums. :). Had a unproductive, headdesking attempt at trying to explain that "maximizing the chance of postponing the moment of guaranteed loss" and "maximizing the chance of winning" are not the same thing...)

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#19 by Pat (filler) (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:44am

I totally believe Belichick should have gone for the TD instead of taking the FG. NE was lucky to be that close to the goal line in the first place and the way they were playing there was no compelling reason to believe they'd ever get that close again. Classic (unfortunately) playing to postpone the loss rather than playing to win.

I'm not convinced on the TD vs. FG. Playing to postpone the loss is fine if you're the better team: risk is almost always a bad thing for the better team. Do I think that the Patriots are better than the Bengals? ... Probably, but I do think that Belichick probably *thinks* the Patriots are better, so the decision was probably rational for him.

Still probably the wrong one, though, especially in hindsight, since they did get back in field goal range again.

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#34 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:04am

I dunno, I'm of the "If you tried 3 times from the 1, and didn't get in, you're probably not going to get in on the 4th" mind.

The problem wasn't the decision, the problem was that the offense couldn't execute anything.

That last drive was a thing of beauty... Brady had what, 10 consecutive incompletes?

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#43 by Pat (filler) (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:14am

Well, to be fair, the weather turned to complete and utter garbage in a real hurry there, so that did contribute.

That being said, though, the Patriots were basically *in* field goal range when Brady threw the interception. If they *had* went for the TD, and gotten it, they would've been in a position to tie the game. Standard caveats about teams playing differently in different situations apply.

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#64 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:34am


Things weren't looking good in the run game at the time, and NE didn't have any luck all day in short passes. (Seriously, more than half went incomplete or were caught for a loss)

Also -- you're also gambling that the other team will be ineffective/turnover prone in foul weather. This too, came to pass.

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#170 by theslothook // Oct 07, 2013 - 2:41pm

This season has been very instructive for me regarding the relationship between receivers and qb. I know much of the longform has put a ton of blame at brady, but then why is this the case? He was all pro, legendary tom brady less than a year ago and now he's middling to below avg(depending on your favored stat)?

I think its far more likely that we don't understand how much losing receivers hurts everything that you do. I remember feeling this way when Manning had that stretch in 2010 where all the pundits wondered had he lost it. I doubt very much brady has changed in any significant way whatsoever. Since we have no specific evidence to prove a reason, we're left with conjecture and so here's mine. Brady can't be a romo or an improvisational player to get guys open, so he has to rely on timing and anticipation. I think when your receivers suck or are you haven't had any time to work with them, everything gets thrown off. I think FO needs to look at this season very carefully because I remember in the book, they didn't think it would affect the pats offense all that much. As a bayesian, I would say we need to rethink our priors.

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#277 by David C (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:42pm

Even Romo is susceptible to it. He has always had Jason Witten plus at least one other top 16 receiver on his team EXCEPT for the first 4 weeks of 2009 after Terrell Owens left and before Miles Austin's breakout game in Week 5. His numbers for the first four games? 7.8 yards per attempt, 58% completion percentage, 1 TD and 1 INT per game, 82 QB Rating, a bottom tier Quarterback. Last 12 weeks of the season? 8.5 yards per attempt, 64% completion percentage, 1.8 TD and 0.4 INT per game, 103 QB Rating, easily a top 3 quarterback by pretty much any metric.

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#75 by Pottsville Mar… // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:45am

If the offense can't execute anything, I would think they have a much better chance of getting lucky and converting with one yard to go than putting together an entire drive for more points later.

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#233 by Pat (filler) (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 5:09pm

Tough to say: getting in from 1 yard to go is a battle between offensive lines and defensive lines. Getting in from 20-30 yards out is a battle between your receivers and their secondary. Not hard to imagine that you could feel good about one and bad about the other.

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#57 by RickD // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:26am

The way to model the decision at the goal line is this;

Strategy 1: TD now, TD or FG later
Strategy 2: FG now, TD later

The value of Strategy 1 is p1 = p11 * p12, where
p11 = probability of converting 4th and 1 for TD
p12 = probability of getting at least FG on next drive, with little time on the clock

The value of Stratey 2 is p2 = p21 * p22, where

p21 = probability of getting FG from 1 yard line (very close to 100%)
p22 = probability of getting TD on next drive, with little time on the clock

And the problem with the typical analysis here is that people consider only p11 and p21, instead of p1 and p2. I think it's fairly clear that p12 > p22 and p21 > p11. But the relative value of the products is unclear, and depends highly on the teams involved.

I felt at the time that the Pats needed to try Strategy 1 because they only had 3 points on the day, and shown almost no ability to get even close to the end zone. That meant, in my mind, that p22 was very low. And even though the Pats had the benefit of an unlikely turnover by the Bengals, and even though they somehow got two more drives, they didn't get back into the red zone.

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#116 by Pat (filler) (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 12:50pm

It's actually worse than that. Strategy 1 is actually "TD now, TD later" or "TD now, FG later, OT win". Strategy 2 is actually "FG now, TD later, OT win." Regardless of how strongly you feel about your team, an OT win is always going to be less than 100%.

It's easy to forget that if you score the TD now, when you get the ball back you can now go for the win entirely. If you kick the FG, your only (reasonable) option now is overtime, and to do that requires scoring the TD that would've won you the game before.

Hadn't thought about that portion of it. Taking that into account I think going for it is pretty obvious. Even if you fail, your defense could conceivably get a safety, and you're almost back to the exact same situation as a field goal.

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#191 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 07, 2013 - 3:46pm

There's no rule that says you can't go for 2 on the TD and not play for OT.

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#209 by Pat (filler) (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 4:17pm

Probability of a 2-point conversion and probability of an OT win are roughly the same, and both less than 1.

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#32 by nat // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:04am

I feel for you, man. It's a hard thing to explain.

It's useful to know that in recent years, offensive TDs outnumber field goals by a large margin. So a quick analysis says you need to have a very good chance of getting the TD for it to be worth the risk of losing it all on one play.

That's not the whole story. You need to consider the time left, the state of your offense on that day, various match ups etc. Also, going for it gives you a better chance to win the game in regulation, which is worth a lot, too.

I personally agree that they should have gone for it. But I understand taking the sure points.

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#2 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:15am

Stafford will take a lot of heat from Lions fans for this game, and some of it is deserved but just take one look at who his starting receivers were this game and tell me if you think even Tom Brady would put up big numbers throwing to those guys.

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#5 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:18am

I probably should also give a lot of credit to the Green Bay front 7, they playing outstanding and mauled an oline that had been playing pretty well up to this point.

Oh, and Scott Linehan, please burn that play in the redzone that leaves Clay Matthews unblocked.

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#15 by DisplacedPackerFan // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:36am

I don't know if he should burn that play, isn't that one where Matthews broke his thumb and hence didn't return? Giving up a sack in exchange for taking Matthews out of the game doesn't seem like a bad trade off.

Stafford did play well considering what he had. I haven't watched much of their other games, but does Megatron really open up the running game that much? The Packers weren't stacking the box and Bush and Bell couldn't run. I know the Packers front 7 has been better this year, but that would be a worry for me if I were a Lions fan. Once the Packers were down to their 4th string MLB and Matthews was out of the game it was pretty much a pass every down situation but knowing how good Bush and Bell had been coming into this game I was surprised.

Capers is very bad at changing game plans and he played like Johnson was in the game, heck he left 6 man boxes to run against a fair bit. It was odd to see Scheffler doubled at times.

I also need to watch the All-22 more but I'm not sure if the Packers inability to score touchdowns and having to settle for field goals was more to do with the offense of the defense. Against Cincy the D really did mess things up, but I'm bothered by that as a Packers fan.

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#25 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:55am

"he left 6 man boxes to run against a fair bit."

Did he really keep doing that?, because the Lions beat writers who were watching from the press box seem to think that one of the safeties started cheating down later in the game when it became clear the Lion's wideouts could be handled easily in man by the Packers DB's.

The lack of success running had a lot to do with the Packers interior line, which was much better than anything the Lions faced this year. Dominic Raiola against BJ Raji (with or without help) is a clear mismatch in the run game.

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#26 by DenverCheeze (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:57am

I also have major concerns about the Packers' O. They should have been scoring way more on that Lions D, but instead every 3rd down, it was obvious that the Lions would blitz, the Packers O-line had no clue how to deal with it, then Rogers would throw the ball away or get sacked. Most 3rd downs he didnt even have time to get a play off. This any team that can blitz and cover the packers receivers for 7 yards will beat them. ref: Cincinnati.

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#28 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:58am

"I'm not sure if the Packers inability to score touchdowns and having to settle for field goals was more to do with the offense or the defense"

The Lion's defense is much better this year, but to be fair, the Lions DB's got away with holding/PI in the redzone on at least two different drives.

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#120 by Arkaein // Oct 07, 2013 - 12:56pm

I appreciate a Lions fan saying that about the non-DPIs in the end zone. In both cases I think refs correctly noticed that Rodgers had moved out side of the pocket and so holding was off the table, but it sure didn't seem like the Lions DBs let go or turned to to the ball once it was in the air.

In exchange, GB did get a ticky-tacky call on the 4th down play they would have otherwise failed to covert in the first half. Overall, by the end of the game I really had no idea what the refs thought DPI or illegal contact was. There was also the play early on where Sam Shields got call for illegal contact, even though the announcers pointed out that Shields had established position down field and the WR ran into him.

Getting back to the issue of lack of TDs, I think a cause that was easy to miss was the poor starting field position by both teams. In a game with no turnovers or missed FGs, neither team was in a position for short scoring drives. Not counting the end of game after the onside kick, GB never started a drive past their own 30. They had two FG drives of over 70 yards, and a 44 yards drive that ended in a punt because it started on their own 9. Detroit's field position was slightly worse, never starting past their own 21.

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#6 by PatsFan // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:20am

Well, given that Brady can't put up big numbers with his own receivers... :)

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#8 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:26am

Exactly my point...Brady has had a rough time without his two primary targets, also. (Was Amendola even 100%?) Granted, this week Brady was playing in what appeared to be South Pacific cyclone.

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#23 by Kevin from Philly // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:51am

South Pacific cyclones would blow in the opposite direction.

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#59 by RickD // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:29am

Not when you only consider the local behavior. It's not like the stadium is 30 miles wide.

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#105 by Will Allen // Oct 07, 2013 - 12:31pm

I didn't see the game, but if the wind was blowing really hard, with a lot of gusting, there isn't a lot of utility in evaluating qb performance in conditions like that.

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#114 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 07, 2013 - 12:44pm

Brady wasn't performing like the Brady we know even before that game.

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#155 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 2:05pm

Wind didn't actually seem all that bad to me.

Rain? Rain was ridiculous.

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#3 by dcaslin // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:17am


‏@laufy84: Tannehill stares down the receiver, easy interception

I suppose this is a reference to Ihedigbo's INT that was called back. I wouldn't call it easy if it doesn't count.

‏@WhispersMoCo: Flacco missed last week's memos about throwing pick sixes while protecting lead late in game.

No, Caldwell missed the fact that the OL was terrible and it was 3rd and 22 near the end zone. Flacco was actually doing fine until his had was blind side tipped from Mckinnie's failed block. I suppose Flacco could have audibled into a draw play, but really it was on the OC to call a more conservative play.

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#11 by andrew P (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:30am

Yeah, that INT wasn't on him. I thought it was a really gutsy performance by Flacco, who had nearly as awful protection as Tannehill did.

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#36 by dcaslin // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:05am

Yeah that tweet irritated me on many levels.

1) There was no INT, so its really not important

2) Advanced stats sites have done a great job pointing that that Ihedigbo is having an amazing 2013 season (despite expectations that he'd be cut to make room for Elam), when the best guy in the secondary jumps route, assuming its the QB's fault is silly

If you're going to post an anti-Tannhill (or coach) tweet, find one about their potentially disastrous decision to spike the ball on their final drive with over 1 minute on the clock. It cost them a critical down, and gave a gassed Dumervil enough rest to sack Tannehill on the next play.

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#12 by Sakic (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:31am

Yeah, that was unfair to call that pick six Flacco's fault. The pass was so off target I had to go back and look at the replay and it clearly showed his hand getting hit from the blind side as he was releasing the ball resulting in that pop fly to short right.

I would love to see interceptions categorized more...which ones are legitimately bad throws or bad decisions resulting in the ball being tipped at the line and which ones were the result of receivers running the wrong route or the pass hitting them in the hands and the interception coming off the deflection. It's why I hate QB rating as a judge of a quarterback since so much of it is dependent on interceptions.

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#63 by RickD // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:33am

Flacco threw a terrible pass on that play. That's on him. By that point in the game he has to have some kind of feel for his blocking.

FWIW, the point on Tannehill's near-pick was that he was staring down his receiver. And yes, it was an easy pick, even if Ihedigbo didn't get his second foot down. That he missed doing so by an inch or so doesn't excuse Tannehill for the staring he did.

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#140 by laufy84 (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 1:40pm

i'm a huge tannehill advocate and believe he's made a massive jump from last year. his mistakes are more glaring now because they're much less frequent than last year. the stare down just happened to be particularly blatant, given the great route by Clay and potential for a huge play if Tannehill had just given a second's glance to the left before throwing to the right

regarding Flacco's pick-six, it was on a 3-man rush, and Dion Jordan made a huge play to disrupt Flacco's throw. granted, the play call was very aggressive given the situation, but it was more of a great Jordan play than bad Flacco throw.

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#171 by dcaslin // Oct 07, 2013 - 2:47pm

I suspect you need to watch a replay of that play. At first glance it looks like Flacco threw the ball away incorrectly. In slow-mo you can see his hand is firmly hit by the left rusher just as he's releasing. Unless he could predict that Mckinnie was going to get beat just barely at that point, he has no control over that. He couldn't even step up b/c Oher was getting bulled back in front of him as well.

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#256 by jonnyblazin // Oct 07, 2013 - 6:12pm

"Flacco threw a terrible pass on that play. That's on him. By that point in the game he has to have some kind of feel for his blocking."

The problem with playing McKinnie at LT is that you don't know when he's going to try. It's tough to get a feel for a guy so inconsistent.

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#4 by MilkmanDanimal // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:17am

On the play before Romo's pick, he got sacked. On the pick, Denver rushed only three, and it was like the offensive line wasn't even there; he was rushed. Bad throw, yes, but it's like the blocking went to sleep as the game neared an end; maybe they were really tired after standing up all day.

I watched the first half of Jacksonville. Gabbert is an absolutely capable NFL QB when he can stand up in the pocket and not have to move in any way, shape, or form. I think I saw that happen once or twice yesterday. Put him behind the Dallas offensive line of the 90s, and, hey, he can play in the NFL. Behind that line in Jacksonville? Without Monroe or Joeckel? Good lord. No pocket awareness, no ability to manage the rush, plus, hey, he's really loose carrying the ball, so fumbles, yeah!

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#7 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:21am

I think Brandon Weeden is similar (better, but similar). When he has a clean pocket he throws a pretty ball (that TD to Josh Gordon last thursday was sublime), but he has trouble handling an NFL pass rush.

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#27 by Ryan // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:57am

I noticed this too--at the very end of the game, either due to DEN's defensive play-calling or DAL's offensive line falling asleep (or both), there was sudden pressure on Romo, and then the pick. He played such a spectacular game, but the ending fits so uncomfortably snugly in the whole Romo narrative. Brutal.

At least Dallas is still the best team in the NFC East?

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#39 by Will Allen // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:07am

That was a pressure int. Romo was not able to get as much on the ball as he would have liked, and the defensive player made a great play. The idiots, however, will speak and write of Romo falling back into bad habits.

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#76 by Thomas_beardown // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:46am

I don't want to say anything about habits, but throwing a wobbling pass over the middle like that is never a good idea.

On the other hand, I wonder if it really mattered. If he got sacked instead of throwing an int, the game is likely just as over.

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#82 by Will Allen // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:52am

That's just it; he can't take the sack, and the pass wobbled because of the pass rush.

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#95 by Thomas_beardown // Oct 07, 2013 - 12:12pm

I think your Peyton Mannings or Tom Bradys probably throw that pass towards the sideline and have a significantly lower chance of being intercepted. Still a single mistake on an otherwise amazing day, and even Peyton had a pick.

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#98 by Will Allen // Oct 07, 2013 - 12:16pm

As you note, Manning and Brady throw ints, and they are most likely to do so when they believe that they must score on every possession.

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#156 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 2:07pm

Brady threw a pick in almost the exact same situation yesterday.

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#190 by Thomas_beardown // Oct 07, 2013 - 3:45pm

Yes, and notice how the pick was a throw to sideline and not over the middle? While the result was the same in this case, the process will lead to less picks for Brady. My evidence: the career interception rates for Brady and Romo.

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#192 by theslothook // Oct 07, 2013 - 3:53pm

I would like to see a study done on this. But ultimately, too much is being made of this pick. It was pressure and the defender made a great play. It was actually probably the most justified INT of the day - Manning's and Brady's were both far worse decisions/throws IMO. In the end, idk how people aren't roasting the cowboys defense. They were beyond horrible with, not even forcing a single punt all game. Many times they gave up red zone tds even when penalties had pushed the broncos back. About as bad a defensive performance as I've ever seen.

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#198 by Will Allen // Oct 07, 2013 - 3:59pm

If Tom Brady had received the quality of pass potection that Tony Romo has, I think the difference between Brady's 2.0 career rate, and Romo's 2.7 career rate, may have shrunk considerably. Yes, I think Brady has been better, but I do think the gap gets exaggerated somewhat.

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#216 by theslothook // Oct 07, 2013 - 4:35pm

Just as important as the degree to which you are put behind. Even at their nadir, the pats Defense was 16th in scoring. Much of Romo's hellacious mistakes are the result(I think) of trying to do too much because he has no faith in his defense. He intimated as much when he said the pick at the end was as much a function of not wanting to punt. I can probably count on my hands the number of games brady's defense has left him down big early(the ravens playoff game in 09 comes to mind).

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#219 by Will Allen // Oct 07, 2013 - 4:42pm

Oh, absolutely, and I think the differences between the Patriots and Cowboys defense over the past 5 years is really illustrative of the value of sound, stable, coaching and management. It isn't as if the Patriots have been loaded with defensive talent,
and they have endured extended periods with some marginal guys as defensive backs in particular. They have never approached the hideous sieve-like nature that the Cowboys have often displayed. It's pretty remarkable.

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#220 by dmstorm22 // Oct 07, 2013 - 4:42pm

I think it was Brady who let himself down in that game. Three turnovers in the 1st quarter all resulting in the Ravens taking over deep in Pats territory.

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#231 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 4:53pm

Yeah, I have a hard time blaming the defense for Brady getting strip sacked and giving up a TD on the first drive of multiple playoff games in the last couple years. Its a tough way to start.

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#238 by Johnny Socko (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 5:19pm

And don't forget the intentional grounding safety in the Super Bowl. Man, now that I recall all of his playoff gaffes, maybe Brady isnt clutch afterall? heh

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#243 by theslothook // Oct 07, 2013 - 5:33pm

Hes not clutch and hes not a choker. I guess I have to take Danny's word for it that clutch/choke does exist in sports psychology, but I haven't seen any compelling evidence that certain individuals are clearly clutch while others are clearly not clutch. We've let narratives dictate how we interpret the evidence. Brady's just what he is, a great qb that occasionally plays poorly because he has to face good defenses sometimes who have great players too.

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#246 by Johnny Socko (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 5:41pm

The "heh" was supposed to imply sarcasm at my clutch comment. Nevertheless, I agree and appreciate your view of clutch/choke.

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#251 by Danny Tuccitto // Oct 07, 2013 - 5:55pm

It's never as simple as "Player X is a choker." It's an interplay between personality, cognition, and physiology in the context of a given game situation. Some player might be neurotic (i.e., prone to worry), and so they're predisposed to interpret a certain stressful game situation more negatively than other players would. And then their mechanics break down or they focus less on the task at hand, or whatever. Or maybe that happens early in the game, rather than at the end. Or maybe they learn over the course of their careers how to short-circuit the process. That's another thing: Human beings are dynamic systems.

But more generally, the reasons you (or I) haven't seen any compelling evidence to label Player X as a choker are 1) we're not viewing their behavior or measuring their thought processes under controlled experimental conditions; and 2) we have to rely on assumptions about their personality because we've never sat down on the couch with them. Of course, those are our excuses. NFL teams, on the other hand, really have no excuse to be ignoring this kind of stuff.

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#255 by theslothook // Oct 07, 2013 - 6:11pm

There's a reason the nfl has still been very slow to adopt big data or half the coming technological innovations/research that all other industries have. The nfl is a monopoly, and like all monopolies, they deliver inferior(relatively speaking) products at inflated prices. Its helped explain why many of the archaic relics in scouting have remained for so long and why the old boy networks within the coaching fraternity take precedence over merit.

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#290 by Jerry // Oct 08, 2013 - 6:33am

We're talking about the same the same NFL that measures pretty much every physical attribute that potential draftees have, right? The one that administers intelligence tests, and whose members famously administer psychological tests? If a team thinks it has some way of evaluating clutchness, I'm sure they use it.

You can dispute how effective any given measure is, and some teams are obviously better at evaluating prospects than others. But it seems silly to suggest that the league has meandered along without adapting to the times, if only because the competition within the cartel is so intense.

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#37 by CBPodge // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:07am

The thing that was concerning to me as a Rams fan is that it wasn't readily apparent which of the QBs was Blaine Gabbert, laughing stock of the league, and which was Sam Bradford, saviour of the Rams. Bradford looked better, but not to the extent of "this guy can play football; this guy can stack shelves or something."

Also, does Jacksonville quietly have one of the better young 1-2 WR combos in the league? They have a sort of Boldin and Fitzgerald look to them from the pre-Warner Cardinals. I know there's talk that Jacksonville should just trade everyone they can, but to me, Blackmon and Shorts look like they are clearly part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. If they could cobble together an O-line whichever QB is under center next year could be in a pretty decent situation.

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#87 by MilkmanDanimal // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:58am

I'm not sure it's as much that Blackmon and Shorts are conceivably very good as much as the fact the rest of that team is so abysmal that when one of the WRs does something good it just stands out more. Blackmon clearly has some of the skills on the field that made him a high pick, and Shorts certainly has some physical ability, but they're the only thing going at this point in Jacksonville.

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#68 by hrudey (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:39am

>I watched the first half of Jacksonville. Gabbert is an absolutely capable NFL QB when he can stand up in the pocket and not have to move in any way, shape, or form. I think I saw that happen once or twice yesterday. Put him behind the Dallas offensive line of the 90s, and, hey, he can play in the NFL. Behind that line in Jacksonville? Without Monroe or Joeckel? Good lord. No pocket awareness, no ability to manage the rush, plus, hey, he's really loose carrying the ball, so fumbles, yeah!<

I think more than anything he's a guy who, for whatever reason, falls apart once something goes wrong - started off fairly decently against both Indy and St. Louis, but after the deep sideline ball to Shorts got picked against the Colts or after the injury to Joeckel against the Rams, he went off the rails. He's not bad on the run, but in the pocket he just does not have awareness - he'll stand and take a hit on quick pressure, and jolt out of a fairly clean pocket if nobody gets open relatively quickly. But he makes up for that with shaky accuracy.

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#9 by nat // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:26am

As an experiment, I tried reading the tweets section for a game I watched and a game I didn't. This was a big sacrifice on my part, because the tweets have been sooooo booooorrrrrring. From this experiment, I have to say that it doesn't matter whether you've seen the game or not. The tweets are worthless reading.

The long form sections were better. But there the best reading was when you interacted as in past years' Audibles.

This year's Audibles are a mere shadow of their former self. I hope you ditch the tweets. I know you won't, because someone has convinced you that all the cool kids tweet.

That's just a shame.

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#17 by dmstorm22 // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:38am

Totally with you. Twitter is totally the wrong format to use for something like this. Hard to get any cogent analysis or even general opinion in just 140 characters. IT's pretty impossible.

I realize that it is hard to compare because there are many more games in the regular season, but just looking at audibles from last year's playoffs, they were so much more readable and interesting. I'll give credit to Football Outsiders' for trying something new, but count me as another person who thinks that it isn't working and they should go back to more of what was done earlier.

The Longform section is interesting, and at least better than just Twitter, but unless there is some debate, it is still a little hollow. I loved the longform section for NE@CIN. Of course, that longform section resembled Audibles from previous years.

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#40 by Ryan // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:09am

I agree here. Tweets are meant to hang in the air for a second, contextualized by the shared experience of the reader, then disappear. There's a reason no one prepares Twitter compendiums for later reading.

[OK, I'm sure somewhere there are Twitter compendiums, but you get the idea]

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#46 by CBPodge // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:16am

I tend to agree too. I get the problem that Aaron stated when introducing the plan for Audibles this year originally (that the writers weren't sure what to put on Twitter, what to put on emails and so on). But I don't think that's really a problem - I feel its a bit similar to watching a game in a pub with your mates - you'll make comments to them, some insightful, some joking, and you might post some on Twitter too. I don't really think anyone read Audibles last year and thought "this is rubbish, because I read 140 characters of that email on Twitter on Sunday.

Plus I don't tend to follow Twitter during games (or have fantasy football open), because its annoyingly ahead of the Gamepass streams.

Audibles for the last few years has been great to get a digest of games you didn't watch, and more insight into games you did. It doesn't feel like its doing that this year.

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#50 by Ryan // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:20am

"Audibles for the last few years has been great to get a digest of games you didn't watch, and more insight into games you did. It doesn't feel like its doing that this year."

Yes yes yes precisely. Couldn't sum it up better myself. I love Twitter but I never read Audibles before thinking "could use more terse snark."

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#137 by Brendan Scolari // Oct 07, 2013 - 1:29pm

Agreed. I get why they would keep using Twitter (consolidation of commentary, growth potential due to Twitter's user base), but as a non-active Twitter user, there's not really any benefit and a lot of the interesting debate and analysis that made Audibles great is being lost.

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#145 by MilkmanDanimal // Oct 07, 2013 - 1:49pm

I'm genuinely enjoying following the #foaud hashtag during games; I'm finding that the real-time commentary is making me switch to other games when people are pointing out interesting things going on. It's very much enhancing how I watch football on Sundays.

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#150 by Ryan // Oct 07, 2013 - 1:54pm

Well, that just means it works on Twitter itself, not necessarily here. I do enjoy following the hashtag on Twitter. Feels diminished here.

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#69 by falcochicquera // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:40am

"The best reading was when you interacted as in past years' Audibles.
This year's Audibles are a mere shadow of their former self."

Agreed with this. Twitter is almost irrelevant unless it is in the moment. For thoughtful reflection (which is why most come here) a longer format is far more appropriate.

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#126 by nat // Oct 07, 2013 - 1:00pm

Thanks for clearing that up. I would have been confused on that point without your invaluable help.

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#153 by RickD // Oct 07, 2013 - 2:02pm

I made the point not for your benefit, but for the readership at large. You stated your opinion as if it were an objective fact.

Sometimes it's worth pointing out that something couched as an observation is just an opinion.

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#158 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 2:11pm

And sometimes things are clearly opinions, and there's no need for clarification.

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#248 by Scott Crowder (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 5:49pm

Except the Tweets truly ARE worthless reading and that's not opinion, that's a FACT. Just your opinion that's it's only an opinion is, in fact, an opinion.

Hah, that was fun :)

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#78 by Pottsville Mar… // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:48am

Nothing to add besides just saying that I agree with you and all the other posters who have replied to you. Bring back the real Audibles!

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#132 by RickD // Oct 07, 2013 - 1:06pm

Well, not all. I like the Twitter stuff. It also gives regular readers a chance to join into the conversation that wasn't previously possible.

As has been explained before, the FO guys aren't sending emails back and forth to each other as they did in the past. They are using Twitter more and more. And for a good reason - the Twitter audience is pretty large.

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#152 by Aaron Schatz // Oct 07, 2013 - 1:59pm

One more note, in case we have not made it clear, about this new format of Audibles vs. the old format.

The previous format of Audibles took roughly three times as long to edit and construct, which was keeping Rivers McCown up all night and basically taking out his ability to do anything else on Mondays.

If we wanted to go back to the older format, not only would we have to figure out the best way to properly balance Audibles e-mails to each other with Twitter comments during games, we would also need those of you who don't like the new format to volunteer to stay up Sunday nights editing things for us.

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#157 by Ryan // Oct 07, 2013 - 2:10pm

Cue influx of volunteers.

Sift through a bunch of smart comments about football from knowledgeable people? Sign me up.

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#159 by Will Allen // Oct 07, 2013 - 2:11pm

I have no strong feelings about the new format vs. the old, but I volunteer to edit, if I am allowed to assume the identity of any FO writer, and interject "Joe Webb would have done it better", after any comment pertaining to a qb's performance.

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#166 by Ben // Oct 07, 2013 - 2:24pm

Since the in-game comments are now public on Twitter, why not just post on the open game discussion thread? No character limit, community interaction, threaded commentary, and no editing required except for the long form stuff.

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#184 by nat // Oct 07, 2013 - 3:37pm

You've reduced the effort. You've reduced the quality of the content even more. It's a bad deal.

You'd have a better article if you just ditched the tweets. You'd only have meaningful comments on 6-8 games, but that's okay. That's all you've got now.

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#207 by Eddo // Oct 07, 2013 - 4:16pm

Taking your opinion that the quality of the content has dropped...

You've certainly made some huge assumptions about the cost-benefit tradeoff. The benefits(*) of quicker turnaround time might offset the cost of weaker content.

(*) And FO, by my reckoning, has significantly more content available these days than ever in the past.

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#306 by BigDerf // Oct 08, 2013 - 6:38pm

On the new format vs the old format, its not really a comparison. I used to be very hyped to read audibles each week, now I'm reading this article on a tuesday because I'm super bored. Audibles used to be on my list of must reads every monday, now if I don't read it, I don't miss it because of this goofy format.

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#223 by dcaslin // Oct 07, 2013 - 4:45pm

I agree wholeheartedly. Hell, if they wanted to cheaply get some good fan snippets to throw at these, quoting the top rated reddit comments on each game thread for each team's subreddit would probably net you two much better comments per game than these random tweets.

That said, FO's core competency is good analysts/writers, not picking tweets out of thin air, so it doesn't make much sense to waste space on them here...

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#10 by Will Allen // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:28am

Nobody should be shocked if the Broncos get bounced short of the Super Bowl. When you're that dependent on one guy, and are capable of giving up yards and points like yesterday, any game is eminently losable to a good opponent. I really hope it doesn't happen, however, because the ensuing football punditry will be so painfully stupid.

Bears/Saints was an interesting game from the standpoint of illustrating how hard it can be to evaluate performance. Without knowing how much Cutler is responsible for the Bears failure to adjust to the Saints' blitz scheme, it's hard to judge how well or poorly he played.

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#14 by dmstorm22 // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:34am

I'm not ready to give a real opinion on the Broncos defense until I see what happens when Von Miller gets back. By the second half of that game, they were without Woodyard, Ayers and Harris, and of course Miller and Champ. That is probably 5 of their best 7-8 defensive players.

I think even with Miller back they won't be close to last year's defense (not that they played anything like it in the playoff game), but they probably won't be close to as bad as yesterday either.

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#30 by Will Allen // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:01am

Well, of course nobody should give up on their defense. Performance is rarely static, and the personnel will be changing. Just last year the eventual champ emerged when one sub-unit, the offensive line, was re-shuffled at the end of November, and suddenly the team became much better. Broncos fans better hope, however, that their chance of getting to the last game, and winning it, is not entirely dependent on their qb playing like a cyborg transported from the time after Sky Net became self-aware.

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#16 by Sakic (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:37am

I agree completely. The Broncos remind me so much of the 2011 Packers...capable of putting up insane amounts of points but a defense that can give up the same amount and then you get one game in the playoffs where the offense isn't producing against a good defense and it's all over. I'll be very interested to see if the defense rights itself when Miller and Bailey return but man, was that some extremely poor tackling on Denver's part.

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#45 by bucko (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:14am

Agreed. The Broncos are somewhat better than those Packers who were an abject joke at generating stops on a consistent basis.

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#58 by Will Allen // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:29am

I wonder if Antione Winfield would be interested in 4 months work, for a team with an outstanding chance at the championship? I didn't see the Seahwaks at all in preseason, so I don't know if he just can't play anymore, or the Seahawks were just too deep, but Winfield was still a very productive player last year, in the tackling department most of all, of course. I think he would be a good player still, on a team which is playing with the lead much of the time.

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#65 by Karl Cuba // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:35am

Seattle were absurdly deep at corner in preseason, their sixth guy would have been a solid nickel back for quite a few teams and could have started for some.

Turns out the sixth guy was Winfield.

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#72 by Will Allen // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:43am

Elway should be on the phone with his agent this morning, then. If Winfield can still tackle like Winfield, on a team which is going to score points like the Broncos, he'd really improve their roster. I think the Vikings would take him back in a heartbeat, but I suspect the old pit bull thinks he has one last campaign left, and wants to make it count on a team worthy of his career.

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#89 by BroncFan07 // Oct 07, 2013 - 12:01pm

I don't know how he compares to Antoine Winfield, but interestingly Denver does have Quentin Jammer, and he's been inactive for all but 1 game this year.

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#53 by nacaboose (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:21am

Regarding your Broncos comment. The broncos lost 3 key players on defense yesterday before halftime (Harris, Woodyard, and Ayers). Add those injuries on top of Champ and Von being out and this defense became incredibly inexperienced and lacking of talent. DRC didn't play well, but Romo had all day to throw in the second half (outside of the last drive). Lets wait until week 8 before we start talking about the Broncos defense holding them back.

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#66 by Will Allen // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:36am

When the offense is that good, it doesn't take much to say the defense is holding them back. No, there is no need to panic, but my comment was more in the vein of the recent trend of dominant-looking regular season teams with great offenses suffering what were considered big upsets in the post season. I just don't think it would be all that big an upset if the Broncos were to lose a playoff game in which they were favored by 10 or more. That may sound contradictory, but I guess all I'm saying is that variance is high in the playoffs in this era.

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#80 by RickD // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:50am

I think the point to consider here is that the Broncos are fairly likely to run into defenses in the playoffs a lot better than what they've faced in the regular season. Nor is the Cowboys' offense really considered one of the elite.

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#85 by dmstorm22 // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:56am

I think the Cowboys offense is better than you are giving it credit for. They were 10th coming into this game (which will go up). Romo is having his best season of his career. That was probably the worst the Broncos defense will play all season long.

Also, who are these defenses? And you can't just have a good defense, you need to be able to score too, which is why I don't think the Chiefs can beat this team in a playoff game. IND or NE if they get their offense figured out have better chances.

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#90 by Will Allen // Oct 07, 2013 - 12:01pm

I think the Cowboys o-line has improved significantly, after lo these many years.

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#104 by RickD // Oct 07, 2013 - 12:29pm

I don't think "top 10" = "elite."

Right now, Elite = GB, NO, and Denver (the top 3 teams in DAVE last week). Pats were elite last season but clearly are not right now. I know other teams are scoring more points/game than GB but I'm not really a believer in the Chargers, Cowboys, Eagles, or Lions. I could see a strong case made for the Colts and wouldn't argue against anybody who thought they were elite. It's a fuzzy classification thing. But the Cowboys are outside "elite", even after scoring 48 points against a depleted Broncos' defense.

At least in my opinion.

I expect the Broncos and Chiefs to split their season series along home field lines. I could well be convinced that the Colts are the best threat to beat the Broncos in the playoffs. The Ravens have lost too many people, the Pats are struggling, and I'm not yet sold that much on the Chiefs. The Bengals have the defense to shut down the Broncos, but I'm not sold on their offense.

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#174 by theslothook // Oct 07, 2013 - 2:51pm

Any team can be beat in the playoffs. The media just hasn't gotten that message yet, or if they have, that message is constantly reinterpreted as "qb of losing team choked, qb of winning team showers in winner sauce"

The worst possible matchup for the broncos is still NE. The chiefs defense is incredible, but their offense isn't good at all. They have been so lucky to be 5-0(still, that defense is awesome). NE will be better on offense soon and their defense is very good. Despite the funk brady is in now, gronk and more time with amendola and time with the current group should clear some of that up. Also, Indy is...interesting. I still can't believe what I'm seeing from this team. The defensive pressure has really picked up after I spent all offseason calling them the least talented defensive unit in football. I was very harsh on luck to start the season, but hes been...impressive.

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#177 by PatsFan // Oct 07, 2013 - 3:00pm

I am amused to see a Colts fan being more positive about NE than many NE fans I know...

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#193 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 07, 2013 - 3:53pm


I would think it's New Orleans.

Denver doesn't match up w/ TEs at all, and NO can score a ton of points. They also play high-variance defense predicated on turnovers, which is about the only way to stop Denver at the moment.

The concern is that they are even more screwed by an outdoor Super Bowl than Denver is.

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#218 by theslothook // Oct 07, 2013 - 4:41pm

Yeah NO looks great too. I was probably speaking strictly from the AFC side. I think the elite NFC teams are still better overall than the elite afc squads. SF, Sea are both fighting injuries and should be better in the future. No looks great and we still shouldn't overlook GB. Compare that to AFC. NE, Denver are the two solid picks I think still, KC to me is still a mirage on offense and still Can't believe what I'm seeing in Indy!

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#226 by Bobman // Oct 07, 2013 - 4:49pm

Erik Walden looked okay yesterday!

I don't quite see NE matching up with Denver--Brady (who seems to be having an off year, regardless of his receivers) + Gronk + Amendola just doesn't look like it cam compete with Manning (having his best year) plus all his weapons. Unless Welker turns out to be a secret Belichick sleeper agent in the post-season. "Peyton, my friend, here's some special Gatorade I have for you, and only you." wink wink

Indy looks dangerous the way the 2009/2010 Jets and 2011 Broncos were in post season--they can play pretty competently in all facets, nothing too flashy, and if they get one facet really going, or some luck, you will lose and not know how it happened. They never feel they are out of it, and that Luck kid is alright. They need to put Hilton on the field more than DHB and they'll generate more on offense.

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#202 by Bobman // Oct 07, 2013 - 4:05pm

"because the ensuing football punditry will be so painfully stupid"

Agreed, Will. Should we just start blaming Manning now and avoid the January rush, just like everybody's blaming Romo for his D allowing 51? Hey, that sounds like a potential article.... "Bronco Fans With January Travel Plans Start Blaming Manning Now."

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#13 by laneglass (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:34am

Blah. This site has really gone down hill the past couple of years. I used to get excited to come on here on Mondays.

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#203 by Bobman // Oct 07, 2013 - 4:07pm

I used to not go to bed "Sunday night" until Audibles were posted, around 3 a.m. Pacific time.... Smaller community back then, and I had less regard for a good night's sleep. But nothing like good Brady Manning argument to spike the adrenaline when the rest of the house was sound asleep.

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#307 by BigDerf // Oct 08, 2013 - 6:40pm

I would often read Audibles before bed as well, and I live East Coast. But now I'm reading this on a Tuesday, because well, its here and I'm bored eating my dinner.

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#18 by Jon Goldman (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:38am

Hmm. The Bears were destroyed early by the Saints' pass rush, but it felt like they picked up the blitzes much better after the first few series. Certainly not a very good day for the offense anyway. The defense is beautiful and this game was winnable.

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#20 by CBPodge // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:46am

"Remember when people said the Falcons should have kept Schaub and traded Vick? Criminal activity aside, it seems silly now."

That doesn't seem silly now, does it? I mean, sure, if they didn't trade Schaub they wouldn't have got Matt Ryan, but if you're basically saying "who would you rather have had for the last few years, Vick or Schaub?" I'd take Schaub every single time. Am I weird for thinking this?

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#33 by DEW (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:04am

Honestly, it doesn't seem all that silly to me, either. Until this year, when age or something seems to have bitten him hard (and we weren't saying that in the first week with the big SD comeback, either), Schaub was an upper-half, borderline top-10 QB whose main problem was an inability to stay healthy all year, landing Houston with too many situations where Sage Rosenfels or T.J. Yates had to play crucial games.

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#268 by Mr Shush // Oct 07, 2013 - 7:36pm

Actually, Schaub wasn't very good for most of last year (after the Denver game onwards, really). The guys around him (especially Johnson) played so well that the decline in Schaub's personal level was substantially masked in the stats, but it was there. I had hoped it was something temporary - an unreported injury, or similar. Looks like it's not.

But yes, I'd take Schaub 2007 onwards over Vick 2007 onwards, for sure.

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#21 by DEW (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:49am

I loved Peyton at the podium after the DEN/DAL game where he was talking about how he talked to Moreno during the time-out on the last drive about how the best outcome would be to get the first down but not the touchdown and Moreno basically said, "how the hell am I supposed to do that?" right before going and doing exactly that. Which is awesome in and of itself, but also raises the question, do you think guys like Ron Rivera would even be aware that getting the first down (and hence letting them run out the clock completely before making the FG attempt and therefore not giving Romo a chance to try for 600 yards) was the ideal outcome? I have my doubts about it.

Also, Pryor has really impressed me this year. Every game he's played, the Raiders were genuinely competitive in (including, y'know, some actual wins). This is a guy who came out of college with few true quarterbacking skills, and has turned into somebody who actually gives a very talent-deprived team a chance to win. The one game he was injured for shows plainly why the coaching staff gave him the starting job over Flynn. He's still a work in progress, but he actually *IS* a progressing work. Matt Waldman's comparison of him to Tebow is telling.

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#308 by BigDerf // Oct 08, 2013 - 6:44pm

Honestly, it amazes me how many players seem to not be aware of these game situations the way Peyton clearly is. This kinda goes back to the Donovan McNabb tie thing, but any time your players don't know all the rules, they are missing out on opportunities to win the football game.

There should be a second test to go with the Wonderlic that is just all about what to do in certain game situations. Whether or not the players could study for said test, it would still be better than them coming into the league not knowing any of it.

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#22 by bravehoptoad // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:50am

What in heck is up with Kaepernick? Last year he had Jaws talking about how he could be the greatest quarterback ever, and this year he looks like a poor-man's Alex Smith.

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#61 by Karl Cuba // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:30am

I'm just hoping it's growing pains. Houston's secondary is pretty good and their pass rush is one of the best in the league, with a depleted receiver corps I don't think he should have been expected to be very productive.

He's still only got Boldin and Davis as reliable targets and Vernon is clearly still recovering from his hamstring strain.

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#195 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 07, 2013 - 3:55pm

Consider what Pryor is doing across the bay with even less than Kaepernick has. At least SF can run the ball.

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#267 by Anonymous49 (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 7:27pm

What Pryor is doing right now corresponds to what Kaepernick had been doing against the likes of the Bears/Saints/Cardinals last season.

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#67 by jimbohead // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:36am

For now, I'm blaming the insane attrition at WR, and the fact that VD still doesn't look right. If Kaepernick is still playing poorly when MM and Crabs come back, then we know there's a problem.

That said, I feel there's a chance the 2013 niners have a chance to be somewhat like the superbowl winning giants squads of recent years. Struggle through the regular season, grab a WC berth, and get healthy all of a sudden in December for a playoff run.

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#161 by Deelron // Oct 07, 2013 - 2:13pm

Seconded. It's not like he's missing a bunch of open receivers, they're frequently not open to miss.

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#183 by bravehoptoad // Oct 07, 2013 - 3:34pm

Yeah, it is. He's missing a bunch of open receivers. Against Seattle, not so much, but against the Rams and the Texans he's just missing people.

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#278 by greybeard // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:48pm

He was supposed to be one of the best QB this year. Instead he is one if the worst. Since it cannot be that people are wrong about him it must be othe factors. Offensive line, wide receivers, etc. if you actually watch the games from all 22 you can see that he is missing wide open receivers. On deep passes as well.
He was supposed to be all upside. It did not matialize this year. I am hoping that it is either a sophomore slump or a temporary thing. I hope that it is not what Trent Dilfer told him last year: that due to the surprise factor that he had with his running ability the defenses were throwing one tenth of the book at him last year and that with more time for defenses to adopt to defending his run things will get complicated for him.
He is not a very likable character. He seems to be from Jim Harbough school of handling the press, He does not take direct responsibility for his shortcomings, and has had a ver long summer of commercializing his success. If he stays on this level of quality of play, I can see people chanting for Skelton soon.

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#287 by theslothook // Oct 08, 2013 - 1:53am

I never bought into the the "Kaep" has arrived theme that was circulating about all of these first and 2nd year sensations. That said, I think you're overstating things and its important to keep in mind, Kaep is still very much an inexperienced qb and was going to go through some growing pains at some point. Plus, while he's missed throws, one simply can't ignore how huge a loss crabtree was. The receiving core of the 49ers, imo, is one of the 5 worst in football and that includes boldin. If he stinks next year, then you can panic.

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#294 by bravehoptoad // Oct 08, 2013 - 10:45am

Yeah, I am just not understanding what is happening. It's not like he was much of a threat to run last year during the regular season -- they didn't uncork his running ability until the Green Bay game in the playoffs. What happened to that guy with the huge YPA who was completing bullets to the likes of Delanie "Hands of Stone" Walker?

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#297 by Karl Cuba // Oct 08, 2013 - 12:14pm

There is some reasonably compelling statistical evidence that the receivers are holding Kap back; his passer rating is over 100 throwing to Boldin and less than 30 to his other receivers. I know passer rating isn't perfect but that's a pretty stark difference.

As for Grumblebeard's complaints that he isn't 'all upside' and isn't likeable, I just don't know what to say. I couldn't care less if he isn't a fun interview and no player is pure upside, that's fighting hyperbole with hyperbole. He is seeing defenses designed to take away the strengths he's shown and he'll have to adjust, every young qb goes through it.

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#299 by greybeard // Oct 08, 2013 - 1:59pm

Nice name calling. You might have a good career in substance-free politics.

I am or was not complaining about his demeanor against press or his summer of over exposure. I could not care less. I don't like that he does not really own up to his bad play though. I was merely pointing out that it is usually faster for fans to ask someone that is underperforming to be benched when that person is not likable.Actually I think if there were not a history of QB switch controversy from last year and had a lot of people were not defending the move to Kap from Alex last year and a as result asking him to be benched would admit to be proven wrong, people would have had been asking for his benching already. Again, not a complaint, just an observation/guess.

I was not one of the people that thought he would arrive so soon. I thought he was quite inexperienced and it showed even last year.

As a 49ers fan I want him to be very successful. He has not been this year. No amount name calling can change that fact.

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#301 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 08, 2013 - 2:14pm

I thought the nickname was amusing. I have no dog in this fight, but arguing about whether your team's starting quarterback is "likeable" or not strikes me as a waste of time.

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#302 by Karl Cuba // Oct 08, 2013 - 2:30pm

'Grumblebeard' was supposed to be lighthearted, no real offense intended and I apologize if any was caused.

He's started 15 games, teams have adjusted to him and he'll have to evolve. I think we should give him a chance.

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#304 by greybeard // Oct 08, 2013 - 3:44pm

I agree. He will benefit from this experience and hopefully will become the QB that every 49er fan hoped that he would be.

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#298 by greybeard // Oct 08, 2013 - 1:58pm

I fought the spam filter and I won ;), It was blocking my comment due to this word: "S_t_r_u_g_g_l_in_g". Very strange filtering.

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#300 by greybeard // Oct 08, 2013 - 2:03pm

I think he had 4 rushes of 40+ yards in regular season, twice agains Rams, once agains Dolphins and once against Jets.
I am going with my memory and might be wrong.

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#24 by Mark Fischler (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:55am

Hey Great Writers,

This is getting to be a little ridiculous in the amazing coverage the Pats get by you all compared to other teams (namely for me my Dolphins). I don't think your long form on any of the Dolphins game compares to anything elsewhere. Is this supposed to be a comprehensive look at the league or just your favorites. I mean I get that we're all fans at heart but I go to you guys to get a deeper sense of things and that's not happening in this column. Bummer. Please show me I'm wrong as I love it when I've missed something.


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#29 by CBPodge // Oct 07, 2013 - 10:58am

That's covered in the intro section: "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.)"

I think you've missed something. :-P

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#35 by dmstorm22 // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:04am

I agree with your sentiment, though I did find it odd that there was just 1 longform response for SEA@IND, which was a massively entertaining game between two young teams that could each be the Team of the '10s.

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#42 by Ryan // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:11am

...while apparently half the Outsiders staff was watching the snoozer in CIN. I know, I know, that's their prerogative, and I still appreciate reading about other games. But SEA@IND was one of the games of the season so far.

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#44 by dmstorm22 // Oct 07, 2013 - 11:14am

I wouldn't call CIN@NE a snoozer. I thought it was a really entertaining game played by two great defenses. Just because the game was low-scoring doesn't make it a snoozer. Last week's CIN@CLE game was a snoozer, this one was quite good. My favorite example is the Week 15 game in 2008 with PIT winning in BAL 13-9. Thought it was the game of the year in the regular season.

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#110 by sundown (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 12:40pm

What I find odd is that with multiple writers, how can any of the major games NOT be covered? (And this isn't the first time that's happened this season, nor does it always involve scheduling conflicts with a Pats game.) I'd think they'd just divy up at least the major games to make sure there's some commentary.

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#117 by Thomas_beardown // Oct 07, 2013 - 12:54pm

Audibles isn't a article about covering games. It's an article about seeing what FO writers think as they're watching games. Which games they watch is really irrelevant.

Also, complaining about coverage in audibles is by far the most annoying aspect to comments on FO.

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#178 by sundown (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 3:03pm

They basically have enough guys to cover every major game but don't. And the answer to why they don't is "that's just how they do it." Okay, I guess. But that's not much of an answer. And covering all the games would make the annoying questions go away AND throw a bone to fans of all the teams that get skipped.

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#182 by Eddo // Oct 07, 2013 - 3:27pm

"Audibles" is basically bonus content, though; FO generally lets their writers have Sundays free to watch what they want and comment on what they want (any required viewings are available via recordings/all-22 film and such). I've always thought of it as the "10% time" that large software companies give their employees, allowing them to work on pet projects (which sometimes develop into something bigger and revenue-generating, like GMail).

Forcing FO staff to watch certain games would diminish the content of "Audibles", in my opinion.

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#187 by Kyle D. (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 3:41pm

I think it's part of their growing pains. Things that made sense when it was a smaller operation don't make as much sense any more. I'd guess it'd help their Twitter following to do more games and it'd also make editing Audibles easier if there weren't half a dozen guys doing a single game. It's cool that guys get to watch their favorite teams but not sure if that improves the reader's experience.

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#194 by Aaron Schatz // Oct 07, 2013 - 3:55pm

We are still a smaller operation. Football Outsiders has only three full-time employees. There seems to be a lot of confusion about just how much work we can all do around here.

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#224 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Oct 07, 2013 - 4:48pm

Aaron, I don't know if you guys have some huge process issues or what, but all of the DVOA stuff should be automated at this point. It shouldn't be any work.

"Because its easier" isn't a good reason to notably drop the quality of your product, and it brings pretty much everything you do into question. Are you doing it right, or are you doing it the easy way?

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