Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Audibles at the Line: Week 7
Audibles at the Line: Week 7
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.

Buffalo Bills 23 at Miami Dolphins 21

Tweets

@GDFar: Why are the Fins favoring Thomas over Lamar Miller? We have ample evidence saying that's the wrong decision.
Robert Weintraub: Seconds later yet another third down conversion and great catch by CJ and now 21-17.

Dallas Cowboys 17 at Philadelphia Eagles 3

Tweets

Rivers McCown: Aikman says LeSean McCoy is often compared to Barry Sanders, and that's fair. Um. Nice season so far, but ... wat?
Scott Kacsmar: Cowboys punt on fourth-and-5 at the PHI 36 "in the nervous light of Sunday."
Rivers McCown: Cowboys punt on 4th-and-5 from the 37. The punt goes 22 yards. Bad process, bad results
Rivers McCown: Nick Foles is spending an awful lot of time in the pocket early. Routinely having to go to third read or beyond.
Aaron Schatz: Somebody tell Nick Foles to dial it back a bit. Everything is overthrown.
Aaron Schatz: Hey remember when Chip Kelly owned Monte Kiffin's defense? That was fun.
Scott Kacsmar: Big game for the Eagles and they're down 10-0. That sounds like the Buddy Ryan/Cunningham era all over again.
Rivers McCown: Nick Foles facially resembles Owen from Dodgeball. Also: playing quarterback like Owen from Dodgeball.
@OlDirtySaltz: with Foles out, EAGLES QB enters the game
Rivers McCown: On both Matt Barkley picks — one negated by penalty — underneath zone defenders got him.

Longform

Rivers McCown: This is the kind of oddball game I've come to expect from the NFC East this year. Dallas' defense really impressed me. Philadelphia only really has DeSean Jackson at this point, but they had a hard time beating the Cowboys' cornerbacks one-on-one. Foles dealt with this by holding on to the ball forever, and that led to sacks, throwaways, and a lot of pressure throws. I didn't watch the Tampa game last week at all, so I have no idea what the difference was between them and Dallas, but it's a bit perplexing.

No matter which path the Eagles choose between Foles and Michael Vick, I think it's clear that Barkley shouldn't be part of the discussion.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23 at Atlanta Falcons 31

Tweets

Scott Kacsmar: Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay: Seriously, doesn't Mike Glennon look like Matt Ryan stretched out like he was Gumby?
@MilkmanDanimal: Second time Tampa has gotten a false start on 3rd and short so far. Tell us again how well-coached this team is, Schiano.
‏@MilkmanDanimal: Lost in Tampa's wreck of a season is that Lavonte David has been great this year. 4 or 5 tackles in the 1st Q, 2 for loss this game.
@MilkmanDanimal: Leonard Johnson just had the singly ugliest failed pass defense jumping pirouette ever; P.I., plus Douglas caught it anyways.
Scott Kacsmar: Good job to pick up what would have been a horrible flag on Doug Martin hit. Greg Schiano came out to make it look like he's human.
@MilkmanDanimal: If "Harry Douglas is unstoppable" are not the words that get Greg Schiano fired, what words could ever do it?
@MilkmanDanimal: Tampa has a 1st and goal from the 30, and runs up the middle on next play. Nothing could better describe how this season has gone.

Longform

Tom Gower: As ex-staffer Russell Levine pointed out on his Twitter, this game had an 18-play, 55-yard, nine-minute drive ... after which Tampa elected to kick a field goal that left it (still) down two scores with five minutes to play.

Scott Kacsmar: I thought Greg Schiano was nuts when I heard that, but it was fourth-and-goal from the 23. Why not kick the field goal and get a high-percentage three points over an absolute prayer that will likely give you nothing? Plus, with a make you can try an onside kick. Tampa Bay did get the ball back after a quick three-and-out, which happens often in those situations when leading teams play conservatively. So I don't mind that field goal.

Danny Tuccitto: Remember how bad the Falcons special teams are right now, and how few people they even have available for their hands team. The field goal was the sanest thing Schiano has done in weeks.

Tom Gower: Do you think you'll score two more times in the final five minutes? That it was fourth-and-goal from the 23 makes it more reasonable, but the whole experience, particularly the "getting the ball back down two scores early in the fourth quarter and kicking a field goal with five to play" thing, drives me nuts as a matter of principle. That the Bucs did not then onside, given how banged up Atlanta is right now, just adds to my general incredulity.

Matt Waldman: Rookie Mike Glennon is aggressive. It's a good thing within the context of targeting Vincent Jackson, a fine receiver on 50/50 balls. However, there were at least five attempts Atlanta had a reasonable chance to intercept. Three of them could have been pick-sixes. One of those targets was an opposite-hash deep comeback that gave me flashbacks of Mike Ditka having a conniption on the sideline when Jim Harbaugh tried that route on a Monday night game resulting in a pick-six.

There's something there with Glennon, but it's buried under a layer of conceptual immaturity that leaves me wondering if the Freeman-Glennon situation is nothing more of "six of one, half-dozen of another."

San Diego Chargers 24 at Jacksonville Jaguars 6

Tweets

@ronJ_havas: King Dunlap hurt...get ready for the 2012 Chargers?
‏@zgeballe: Sadness is...Jaguars players exhorting their fans for noise during a goal-line stand already down 14-3
Andrew Potter: What was Philip Rivers thinking on that goal-line scramble? Seven seconds left, no TO, MUST throw & quickly. Cost his team 3 points.
@MilkmanDanimal: Chad Henne just tried running on a read option. Burn this play. Burn this playbook. Burn this team. Burn everything you can.
@ronJ_havas: Diddle diddle, Danny Woodhead up the middle. A screen gets the first down on 2nd & 20
Cian Fahey: Jaguars wide receiver Mike Brown is a baller. Next QB in JAX will have many, many weapons to work with

Longform

Cian Fahey: This was the worst-officiated game of football that I have ever witnessed, and most of the bad calls went against the Jaguars. There were a number of very questionable calls, but most notable was Antonio Gates' obvious fumble that was reviewed and still stood. Regardless of that, the Jaguars shouldn't be happy with their display.

Anyone who hasn't watched the Jaguars this season will just mark it off as another loss, but this loss occurred because of the defense, not the offense as had been the norm this season. The Jaguars played like they did the previous week against the Denver Broncos -- they dropped coverage off and never blitzed. In fact, they sent three-man rushes so often it was just peculiar.

With that game plan and talent advantage in his supporting cast, Philip Rivers was able to check the ball down all day to sustain drives. The Chargers had 37 minutes of possession and the Jaguars had just two possessions in the first half. Even though the Jaguars had given up a lot of points in previous games, they had at least made offenses earn those points. In this game it was way too easy, while the Jacksonville offense kept themselves out of the end zone with a number of near-miss plays that killed drives.

Rivers McCown: I'll second that Jacksonville has not been a flaming pile of garbage on defense this year. Did not get to watch any of this game, but it is notable that Jeremy Mincey sat. He's the only guy on this unit that I see getting any kind of pressure.

New England Patriots 27 at New York Jets 30

Tweets

Aaron Schatz: Jets repeatedly running up the gut on Pats. Clearly miss Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo. Jeremy Kerley is killing them in passing game.
‏@pchicola: With Gronkowski back, the rookies getting more in sync w/ Brady, & w/ Amendola and Vereen eventually coming back, Pats O will get better.
@Shake1n1bake: Belichick goes for it on 4th and an inch in easy FG range, I hate him, but wish all my teams coaches were more like him
Aaron Schatz: Steve Gregory seems confused. Why are refs calling pass interference? All he did was slam into the receiver while never looking for the ball.
Scott Kacsmar: Hell of a run by Geno Smith for the TD. Just think of what body part Mark Sanchez may have fumbled off of down there
Aaron Schatz: @FO_ScottKacsmar Those Geno Smith scrambles are more evidence that taking him out to go wildcat is stupid.
Aaron Schatz: Gotta go back and look at film to see what Jets changed at halftime. Pass rush so much better now.
‏@GilbertDenizard: @FO_ASchatz I think Rex gave them all a foot rub at the half
Aaron Schatz: I actually like the Jets attempt to play-action for a deep pass on second and 10. Three point lead not really safe against Tom Brady.
Aaron Schatz: Whether Folk hits this long field goal or not, final runs were stupid conservative play call by the Jets

Longform

Aaron Schatz: OK, we've established by now that the penalty called on Chris Jones was not as ridiculous as it seemed at the time. Yes, this thing about pushing an opponent into the line of scrimmage is a real thing. I still think it is ridiculous for NFL officials to apparently completely ignore this rule for six weeks, get a memo from the league, and then suddenly call it for the first time in a situation that essentially decided a game.

Well, half-decided a game. If they don't call that penalty, the Patriots get the ball back in very good field position but they still haven't won the game at that point. Obviously, the Patriots didn't look like a great team today. People on Twitter were criticizing Pats fans for blaming the loss on the penalty because the Pats didn't do enough to clearly win the game. But that's exactly the kind of game where it's agonizing to see an unprecedented penalty go against your team. When the Pats ran out of gas against the Bengals, I mean, they were outplayed that day. Sometimes the other team just has a better day. Today's game with the Jets was essentially a tie. You know a game like that is probably going to be decided by either a single clutch play or some random capricious event. You kind of want that play or that event to go in your team's favor.

So, yeah, as to the Patriots not playing better than the Jets... the defense is clearly missing Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, and Mayo. The Jets ran up the middle easily in the first quarter, and once the Patriots tried to get guys into the box to stop that, it opened up other things. And my god, I have no idea why but Jeremy Kerley just OWNS this team. Kerley has six games of at least 75 receiving yards in his career, and four of them are against New England. It doesn't matter who covered him, or what kind of formation the Jets used to get him open. He got open. The Pats tend to play zone but they were playing mostly man today, which also left plenty of space open for Geno Smith to scramble.

As for the Patriots' offense, Gronk was back, Gronk looked pretty good, and Brady clearly knew he was there, targeting him 17 times. Gronk did open things up for other receivers a bit. So at this point, there's no debate about whether something is wrong with Brady, right? You can't blame this anymore on not being in sync with his receivers, or missing Wes Welker, or bad drops by Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson. The Pats were 1-for-12 on third downs today, and when you overthrow a guy to the point where the ball lands five yards out of bounds, that's not possibly an issue of "not being in sync with your receivers yet." There's no option routes where one of the options is "be five yards out of bounds." (The exception to this were the passes at the end of the fourth quarter which generally all landed ahead of the receivers. Brady had to throw these ahead of his receivers because once he was in field-goal range, he couldn't risk an interception at all ... keeping the ball away from the defenders meant throwing low-percentage passes.)

As for the Jets, I feel a bit vindicated. We said before the season that this team would be a wild card contender, that they would bounce back in all three phases of the game, and that despite the constant anonymous criticism during the run-up to the draft, Geno Smith is a pretty good quarterback prospect. All of those things seem to have turned out to be true. So can we please now stop expecting the Jets to be a circus all the time? The circus moved to Tampa, people. The Jets are a mediocre team, better on defense than offense, with hope for the future thanks to a promising but inexperienced quarterback. Really not much different from Buffalo, and the Muhammad Wilkerson/Sheldon Richardson combo is probably better than the Kyle Williams/Marcel Dareus combo at this point. They will lose games, but it isn't going to be a series of pratfalls like last year.

Cincinnati Bengals 27 at Detroit Lions 24

Tweets

@Coboney: Andy Dalton has no deep ball. AJ Green had to slow down to catch the ball. Lucky Green is so good at getting open, else thats a pick
Tom Gower: Jim Schwartz actually wins a spot challenge on a QB slide. Thought it was a winner, but that's a rare thing.
Robert Weintraub : Lions are 11-of-15 on 3rd down and face key 3rd and long. Wanna bet on result?
Tom Gower: No flipping way, Calvin Johnson. NO FLIPPING WAY. Beats a triple team for a long TD. Stafford got crushed, too.
@Coboney: How did Calvin Johnson come up with that? That looked like a Hail Mary play with 3 defenders there beating at the ball and he gets it
Robert Weintraub: Only a hail Mary TD to Johnson who goes over 3 guys to make an unreal TD. Stafford nailed as he throws and still heaves it 65 yards
Vincent Verhei: Your favorite receiver's favorite receiver is Calvin Johnson.
‏@THEOSU7: 54 minutes in, I was worried we were going to go a whole game without a ridiculous Marvin Lewis Challenge. Crisis Averted!
Robert Weintraub: Nugent!!!!!!!! Flashback to when he had a big leg. 54 yard field goal to win it. Second straight week he kicks one to win 27-24.

Longform

Rob Weintraub: For three-and-a-half quarters, Detroit was unstoppable on third down. Both teams were pretty good, actually, especially given neither ran the ball with any effectiveness. But Stafford was driving this particular Bengals fan to drink (and I don't drink) with his ability to sidearm, shovel, and slip balls into tiny windows and make just enough to move the chains, time and again. It got ridiculous -- that Megatron Hail Mary was even more amazing for being third-and-18 (and how did Stafford throw it that far while getting nailed by Michael Johnson?).

[ad placeholder 3]

The Bengals were in control at 21-10 in the third quarter, and Detroit had a third-and-20 at its own 10. Sure enough, Stafford threw a 40-yard pass up the right sideline to Kevin Ogletree, as Terence Newman asked where the safety help was. George Iloka said, "who, me?" A couple of plays later, Stafford threw a bullet back shoulder pass to Johnson for another awe-inspiring TD, and it was game on. But for the second straight week, the Bengals got a big late stop (in OT last week) and set up a short field to win it. Good pass rush late wins games, as Bill Walsh always said, and it got the job done today.

For all their explosiveness, Detroit remains flawed. The Bengals won the special teams battle handily (a huge blocked field goal, a shoddy punt late by Sam Martin to set up the long Mike Nugent field goal to win it), and exposed several mismatches in coverage, especially against Chris Houston, who had his lunch eaten not only by AJ but by Marvin Jones. The Bengals did a very good job in pass protection in the middle, and that allowed Andy Dalton to carve the Lions up. Seam routes were especially effective. Dalton continues to underthrow on "heave it as far as you can" plays, but has been exceptionally accurate on intermediate stuff the last couple of weeks.

I know the officiating always gets ripped, but this crew (Scott Green) was brutal today, both ways. Just no clue half the time.

I was very worried about injuries before this game, for some reason, and sure enough, Leon Hall tore his Achilles tendon for the second time in three seasons. Long term that's a crucial loss unless Dre Kirkpatrick stays on the field health-wise and improves drastically.

Sean McCormick: I didn't see a ton of the game, but I was shocked by how cavalier Stafford was with the ball. He was spraying the ball all over the place, whether it was throwing to blanketed receivers or just chucking it to avoid pressure. That heave to a triple-covered Calvin Johnson was pretty symbolic of his decision-making process on the day.

Rivers McCown: I see you haven't watched much Matt Stafford tape...

Rob Weintraub: Because he has such a cannon, Stafford gets away with that stuff more than he should, so he keeps doing it. I stopped counting his "awkward" throws after ten, and it was the third quarter, and the Bengals hadn't made him pay for any of them.

St Louis Rams 15 at Carolina Panthers 30

Tweets

Tom Gower: Rams do right thing in going for it on 4&G from the 1, do wrong thing by targeting Jared Cook again.
Vincent Verhei: Cam Newton holding the ball too long. Can't do that when SL DL is better than CAR OL.
Vincent Verhei: Tavon Austin finally gets open for long TD ... And the play is called back for a tripping penalty.
Vincent Verhei: Panthers take knee at end of half instead of trying Hail Mary. RIVERA!!!!!
Tom Gower: Panthers-Rams fight. Yes, Steve Smith is involved. Only reason Cortland Finnegan isn't is he's inactive.
Vincent Verhei: Smith baits Chris Long into getting ejected, then catches apparent TD. (Call is challenged.) Panthers appear to be in blowout mode.
Tom Gower: Man, that was a pretty close to perfect deep pass by Sam Bradford to Brian Quick. Sets up 1&G. Rams need 7, get it on Zac Stacy pass.
Vincent Verhei: Steve Smith makes run blocking look like boxing match, then slips two tackles and scores (for real). Rams DBs must hate this guy.
Tom Gower: Through 3Q, Cam Newton has been very sharp today. Part of that may be #Rams coverage, which has been soft too often.

Longform

Tom Gower: There are times I watch Zac Stacy running through the offensive line and I think, if he ever stops running hard he'll be out of the league in two weeks. Then he does something surprisingly effective in the open field, and I think maybe there's something more to him than just a guy who will run hard. On the whole, though, St. Louis's targets are living up the experience-related concerns we had with them in FOA 2013.

On the other side of the ball, Cam Newton was very sharp, throwing the ball accurately, seemed to make good decisions, and ran effectively at times. Any time the Rams threatened to get back in the game, the Panthers scored again. The Rams defense is still a front four in search of a back seven, as I'm sure part of Newton's success was what looked like some pretty soft coverage by the Rams. As inexperienced they are at the offensive "skill positions," they're pretty much as young in the secondary, and I think it's still a work in progress and likely to remain one the rest of this year.

Vince Verhei: The Rams front seven is better than the Panthers offensive line, and that was very evident today. Panthers couldn't run for much, and Newton got in trouble a few times by holding the ball in the pocket too long. He was usually able to break tackles and make plays on the run, so it's not really reflected in his stats. The Rams secondary was woefully outmatched. Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn both looked like perfectly competent wideouts. And then there's Steve Smith. He was right in the middle of every fight, and had a great day as a receiver, scoring once and being called down just short another time. He also managed to bait the Rams into a lot of fights, including getting Chris Long thrown out of the game He said afterwards that Janoris Jenkins had been talking trash about Smith's wife and threatened to sucker punch Jenkins if they met on the street. And it's Steve Smith, so you know he ain't bluffing.

Now, on that note, there were a ton of personal fouls in this game, on both teams, but it seemed like mostly on St. Louis. The worst of these came when Sam Bradford was injured. Bradford scrambled and ran to the sideline. Mike Mitchell pushed him out of bounds, totally clean, and celebrated. Unbeknownst to Mitchell, Bradford's knee buckled as he went down. Rams guard Harvey Dahl, apparently thinking that Mitchell was celebrating Bradford's injury, shoved Mitchell away. Mitchell walked away and headed back to the huddle. A good five seconds passed, and then Dahl turned to the field and went charging after Mitchell. The two players were kept separated, but it still resulted in a personal foul for Dahl. He finished with two of the three Rams PFs on the day, and that doesn't include Long's ejection.

Zac Stacy looked pretty good in an Ironhead Heyward-style, tackle-breaking, slow-and-steady way, but otherwise the Rams just don't have nearly enough playmaking talent to overcome that kind of lack of discipline. Tavon Austin did finally get open for a deep touchdown pass, but it was called back on a penalty. So officially his most notable plays were his two fumbles.

Chicago Bears 41 at Washington Redskins 45

Tweets

‏@matthew_carley: Washington sack Jay Cutler to make him the most sacked QB in Bears history, Cutler hurt on the play. These things might be related
Vincent Verhei: Unreal blocking by Bears on Hester TD. Unreal career for Hester.
@scott_tanner1: I know we had this discussion in audibles in the last few years, but seeing what the new guys think: Devin Hester, HOF?
‏@hscer: Jordan Reed's 1st half: 6 targets, 6 catches, 87 yards, 1 TD plus 3 more first downs. RGIII is 4-11 throwing to everyone else.
Rivers McCown: That’s ... that’s Josh McCown’s music!
@Shake1n1bake: Don't worry, even if the Bears win you'll still be the best McCown RT @FO_RiversMcCown: That’s … that’s Josh McCown’s music!
Vincent Verhei: Seems like every RG3 completion today is a bootleg/crossing route combo.
‏@scott_tanner1: tony siragusa after orakpo comes in unblocked: "the offensive line did a pretty good job. mccown has to get rid of it faster"
@TCBullfrog: At what point is it justified for an offensive player to just take out Brandon Meriweather's knees

San Francisco 49ers 31 at Tennessee Titans 17

Tweets

‏@blotzphoto: Colin Kaepernick had enough time to scout and draft a receiver to catch that ball.
Danny Tuccitto: Admittedly, I was not expecting the 49ers to thoroughly dominate this game as much as they have. Pretty much everything is working.
Tom Gower: Wrote in my season preview Titans would be team that gets called scrappy when they weren't getting blown out. Today, the blowout
Tom Gower: Frank Gore drags Jurrell Casey for an extra 5 yards. Dragging a DT = just another day at the office.
Tom Gower: In after Eric Reid was shaken up the prior play, Craig Dahl with a bad angle on that CJ screen TD
Danny Tuccitto: Bernard PLOLlard. Go retire to your natural occupation of bounty hunter, ok?
Danny Tuccitto: Eric Reid back. Destroys runner. Noted.

Longform

Tom Gower: The Titans can't make any mistakes and beat good teams, and they made a ton of them today. Jake Locker, who generally played better than I expected him to in his surprisingly premature return from his hip injury, threw a first-half pick on a double-move where cornerback Tramaine Brock never for an instant bit on the first move. An Akeem Ayers low hit call negated a Bernard Pollard interception, and that was just one of a plethora of first-half penalties for the Titans. Return man Darius Reynaud cemented an awful performance that may see him on the street in the next couple days by muffing a punt the 49ers recovered in the end zone just when the Titans were showing some brief signs of life.

[ad placeholder 4]

On the other side of the ball, the 49ers looked like the 49ers. Frank Gore ran hard, pretty effectively at times and less effectively at others. Colin Kaepernick wasn't perfect, but he had some very good throws and the Titans struggled to contain him just as much as they did Russell Wilson and Alex Smith. Anquan Boldin is still very good at catching the football even with minimal separation. On macro terms, this looked more to me like the 2011 49ers team, with a decent offense and a strong defense, than the great 2012 49ers with a powerful offense to go with the strong defense, but either way they mostly throttled a Titans team that now looks a lot closer to mediocre than it did three games ago.

Houston Texans 16 at Kansas City Chiefs 17

Tweets

Cian Fahey: Did the NFLPA order a tribute to Matt Schaub that other NFL QBs misinterpreted?
‏@nath_on_fire: Gary Kubiak calling a third-down draw with his team on the edge of field goal range is the quintessential Gary Kubiak play call.
Rivers McCown: Ed Reed trying to tackle Jamaal Charles is like trying to shoot pool with a rope
Aaron Schatz: Think Houston wants to run with their UDFA QB? KC may be playing with 13 guys in the box today.
Rivers McCown: This offensive scheme fits much better with the rest of the personnel than the one Kubiak was stringing around Schaub
Scott Kacsmar: 2013 Chiefs: I haven't seen smoke & mirror tomfoolery on offense like this since 2003 Patriots. And yes, I hate it.
‏@brendanscolari: So how many teams would you take over the Chiefs on a neutral field right now? Anyone besides Broncos and Seahawks?
Aaron Schatz: Texans lose Brian Cushing. Looks like serious knee injury. Just not their year.
‏@ronJ_havas: Dwayne Bowe takes out 2 defenders on Dexter McCluster's 3rd & 21 conversion. He's very gruntled
Vincent Verhei: I (heart) Jamaal Charles. Holy moley, that guy is good.
Aaron Schatz: Surprised that the Chiefs aren't getting more pressure on Keenum. I think that is what's leading to a number of open receivers.
Vincent Verhei: Chiefs have figured out that Case Keenum has no idea what to do against overload blitz.

Longform

Vince Verhei: I'm sure Rivers will have more to say later, and what he says will be more well-informed, but my general impression of Case Keenum is that he was much more mobile than Matt Schaub, and much more willing to take risks and give his receivers chances to make plays on 50-50 jump balls. His performance is probably going to get a little overblown. After all, the Texans only scored 16 points (though that's partly due to Gary Kubiak's insistence on kicking field goals on fourth-and-1. Then, by the end of the game, Kansas City realized that Keenum was helpless against an overload blitz, and that was the end of that.

I've been an Alex Smith supporter for a while now, but man he was lousy today. He had multiple receivers open on his fourth-and-goal incompletion, and threw a bad interception late that kept Houston in the game.

Rivers McCown: Wow, I forgot that NFL quarterbacks could actually throw long touchdown passes. Thanks, Case Keenum.

Overall I thought most of the success early was about the Chiefs not being prepared for this game plan. The pistol-based Keenum attack was much different than what the Texans were running going into the game. However, it's impossible to look at what Keenum did and not be a little bit encouraged. He wasn't great with the hot reads on some well-designed Bob Sutton blitzes, but his functional pocket mobility was a giant leap in the right direction after years of Matt Schaub. I think the Texans should showcase him the rest of the season and treat it like the Browns planned to treat Brian Hoyer: perhaps they've found a high-caliber backup that can push a first-round quarterback in 2014.

God, this Chiefs offense is boring. How many times can Jamaal Charles motion wide and come back in? I guess this is what happens when Bowe is your only real receiver and he's struggling to find separation. The Chiefs managed to move the ball mostly on the Texans safeties. Ed Reed's read on the Alex Smith busted-play touchdown run was one that made me ache for the glory days of John Busing, Wil Demps, and C.C. Brown. Reed is legitimately the third-best safety on this team right now, behind Shiloh Keo and D.J. Swearinger.

Cleveland Browns 13 at Green Bay Packers 31

Tweets

Vincent Verhei: CBS has NORV CAM in Lambeau Field today. This should be a fixture in every stadium.
@MilkmanDanimal: The Packers throwback uniforms are to aesthetics what Greg Schiano is to coaching.
Aaron Schatz: Billy Cundiff one of the best kickoff guys in the game. Lots of touchbacks. Why do Browns have him squibbing???
Vincent Verhei: Josh Gordon: Zero targets in first half. Did he get traded and nobody told me?
Aaron Schatz: Looks like the horrid injury to Jermichael Finley was caused by the ground. As I always say, you can't legislate against the ground

Longform

Aaron Schatz: Green Bay gets ball with 5:00 left in the third. CBS shows a graphic featuring an absurd bit of random nonsense and small sample size, showing that the Packers have scored a touchdown with between two and five minutes left in the third quarter in all five games so far. Graphic is titled "Packers' magic moment."

Packers, of course, are forced to punt the ball without scoring, with 1:10 left in the third quarter.

Rob Weintraub: Boy, those are some ugly-ass throwbacks the Packers sported today.

Vince Verhei: I agree with Rob's opinion of the Green Bay throwbacks. But they are still way way way better than Jacksonville's contemporary getup.

Cian Fahey: Jacksonville's outfits look like pyjamas.

Rivers McCown: I think Jacksonville just needs to commit to the gold. You can't really half-ass gold and have it look good.

Baltimore Ravens 16 at Pittsburgh Steelers 19

Tweets

Cian Fahey: It's so refreshing to see a Steelers running back who runs with his head up to actually see where defenders are
Cian Fahey: The Steelers look much better than they have previously, I'm not sure how to feel about this. Headed to purgatory
Scott Kacsmar: This might be a first ever: an offensive player (Le'Veon Bell) gets called for a facemask.

Longform

Matt Waldman: Torrey Smith has made the next step this year. He has always done a fine job winning the ball in tight coverage on vertical routes, but he's making tough catches over the middle and running more of the route tree than what was required of him in the past. He deserves credit for his continued growth because we didn't see that growth from the likes of Lee Evans or Chris Chambers, similar styled players.

Marlon Brown's rookie year is less surprising to me based on his skills, which I saw evidence of at Georgia, and far more based on his torn ACL last November. If Brown regains some of his pre-injury explosiveness, he could offer Joe Flacco a true co-No.1 option that can take a lot of heat off Smith

Le'veon Bell's recent performances are a good example of where people get it wrong when they base talent evaluation on pointing out flaws and failing to piece together all of the available information. Cian did a fine job of pointing out Bell's positives today and they echo a lot of the things people thought wouldn't translate with Bell's game in the NFL. Look at Bell's tape and you see a quick athlete ... not a quick guy for 240 pounds, but quick, period, end of story. Bell has a 6.75-second, three-cone drill. That's a faster time than Giovani Bernard, Stevan Ridley, Doug Martin, LeSean McCoy, or Mike Goodson. It's also equal to Jahvid Best's time -- in fact, it's the 12th best three-cone time I've seen from a runner since 2006 and he's the biggest player in that top-12.

It goes to show that in some cases there are players who just look too good to be true. When we see the tape we cling to the tape measure and stopwatch to shoot it down. When we see evidence that Bell has rare quickness for his size we want to believe so badly that it's a fallacy because the highlights and stats aren't flashy enough to match it, that we invent reasons as logical as the Warren Commission.

Scott Kacsmar: Typical Ravens-Steelers game: low scoring and down to the final second. Special teams were not a huge story in the game, but on the last drive Emmanuel Sanders had a huge 44-yard return that the Ravens probably wish he would have stayed in bounds for a touchdown on so they'd have a chance. Joe Flacco pretty effortlessly led the offense down the field to tie it at 16.

Ben Roethlisberger didn't need miracles with the field position, but a broken tackle by Antonio Brown on Corey Graham was pretty big. I would still say they kept it pretty conservative at the end, settling for a 42-yard field goal on the "bad end" of Heinz Field, but it's about time to give Shaun Suisham some props. He has yet to miss this year and has been great from inside 50 yards.

Suisham may also be a good example of why we shouldn't always bury a kicker on a couple of bad misses. He missed a short field goal that would have likely beaten the undefeated 2009 Saints and was soon after gone from the team. Before joining the Steelers he was 87 of 110 (79.1 percent) on field goals, so it's not like he was great, but he's over 86 percent as Pittsburgh's kicker with roughly half of those attempts coming in arguably the toughest stadium to kick. I've gone way over the limit for kicker talk, but it's nice to see him drill a game-winner down the middle. Kickers haven't been choking in epic fashion yet this season.

Though it will come soon enough.

Denver Broncos 33 at Indianapolis Colts 39

Tweets

Scott Kacsmar: Colts can lose by 50 tonight and still shouldn't have much of a struggle to go 10-6/11-5 and win the division.
Rivers McCown: Good to see Pep establishing that run early. Helpful to control time of possession against Peyton Manning. Just ask the Dolphins.
Aaron Schatz: "Mediocre man coverage" has, of course, long been the preferred defense to stop Manning.
Andrew Potter: The Colts just got utterly jobbed on that refereeing decision. Terrible call. Robs them of a perfectly legitimate touchdown.
Vincent Verhei: Note to all NFL coaches: This Trindon Holliday fumble is the kind of play you should challenge every time. This is why replay exists.
‏@MrTimLivingston: Refs need to let something play out before making a call to allow for all possible outcomes from a challenge. Easy thing to change.
@ptmovieguy: Imagine if that was Janikowski making that tackle. Might have to extract Holliday from the fifth row.
Aaron Schatz: Holy mackerel I think the man coverage is actually working for the colts. Even by Greg Toler?!?!
Rivers McCown: Finding a lot of irony in a “grabby” Colts defense stymying Peyton Manning’s offense.
Cian Fahey: Leon Hall is injured, Champ Bailey is injured, Lardarius Webb played poorly, Darrelle Revis is in zones. I hate this
‏@WhispersMoCo: Wondering if Peyton finds it hard to _not_ throw ball to open Colts in the end zone.
Tom Gower: I have no clue where "Adam Vinatieri can suddenly make long field goals again" came from, but it's been true for a while now.
‏@WhispersMoCo: Loving the mental image of Colts' fans terrified of a classic Peyton comeback.
Rivers McCown: Well the important thing is that Trent Richardson has good tape. Or something.
‏@TerrapinPrime: Richardson is a dumpster fire.Doesn't get the yardage..Can't hold onto the ball and worst of all 2 teams used first rounders on him

Longform

Tom Gower: Like the Broncos' last loss, in the playoffs against the Ravens, I'm left after a very long game (about 3:44) with the feeling that I need to go away somewhere and process what happened before expressing my thoughts. Plenty to touch on. What stood out:
1. The Colts' pass defense, particularly Darius Butler and Vontae Davis, seemed to play very well. Even when the Broncos made plays, they were often contested catches and pinpoint passes.
2. This was beaten to death, but after the Robert Mathis hit that led to the safety Peyton Manning's passes just didn't look right coming out of his hand. It was a bit like watching the Atlanta game early last season or, yes, that Ravens game. That's definitely an issue to watch going forward, though of course he still made plenty of plays late.
3. Also an issue to watch going forward: the Broncos offensive line. Peyton is of course his own best pass protector, but especially with the arm issues and especially considering the Broncos are now staring up in the AFC West at a Chiefs team with two very formidable outside pass rushers and a force in the middle plus some creative blitz schemes, this is a real issue.
4. Also an issue to watch going forward: the Broncos defense. They have enough reasonable defensive backs I thought could be very effective, but it seems like the middle was exploited by Dallas and again tonight. Granted, Wesley Woodyard was out and he and Danny Trevathan were the only linebackers I liked in coverage, but it's an issue. More of a pass rush to help, but was Von Miller that effective in his first game back? I didn't think he was, but need to re-watch to have a more informed opinion. I also expect him to be more effective in, say, six weeks.
5. I was pretty sure the Broncos did not have a sustaining run game. As it turns out, and contrary to what I think we saw the first six games, they did not even have a situationally-effective run game tonight with the third-and-1 failures and the goal line fumble. Of course, give the Colts credit for what they did on third down, including particularly I believe Antoine Bethea coming up in support. LaRon Landry also showed up as a hitter at times.
6. I'm going to embargo myself on Trent Richardson jokes at this point because I think it's getting the point where it's no longer funny unless he does something incredibly bad. But Donald Brown was reasonably effective at times.
7. Andrew Luck played pretty well for the most part, but he had some bad plays in the fourth quarter. The missed pass to Reggie Wayne on third down and the throw to Stanley Havili on the play where Kevin Vickerson picked up the roughing the passer call were the two biggest of those.
8. As a fan of a team in the same division I know it helps my team, but I'm devoutly anti-"any injury more serious than a chipped nail." If that's the last of Reggie Wayne we see (older player with torn ACL, wouldn't be a surprise, though of course I don't even play an MD on TV and did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night), the NFL will be a poorer, less entertaining place.
9. On the whole, I thought the Colts played better than the Broncos did. They also won the game. In such an interesting, complicated game with results that sometimes feel "unjust," I'll never complain too much about a game where that is true.

Rivers McCown: I will not put an embargo on Trent Richardson jokes. Much like Richardson himself, this is precisely the right time to sell high. If it gets any worse, he'll be so pathetic that humor will not be able to escape his situation. It crossed my mind that he might actually be blind on the last Colts attempt to run out the clock before Punt Marathon 2013 -- he was basically holding his hand out to feel for defenders.

OK, the actual game. I thought this was a nice repudiation of Pep Hamilton's critics, myself included. Even though I snarked on him early in the game, there were a few very memorable play designs, and getting Darrius Heyward-Bey involved in the running game was generally fruitful. It's still not how I'd prefer an offense to be run -- and I still would never give up actual draft value to make it happen -- but the Stanford tree has seemed to get decent mileage out of the fullback and six-linemen sets in a league that has generally left them behind.

Any kind of serious Wayne injury would be a huge blow for this team. T.Y. Hilton is a nice deep threat, but he's hardly a consistent underneath receiver and has had communication issues with Luck. Heyward-Bey is not optimal in any role which calls for him to use his hands.

Comments

212 comments, Last at 24 Oct 2013, 4:43pm

187 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"Denver's offense looked worse than they have all season (by far), and despite a couple fumbles and that safety, they still scored 30+. As noted above, Denver is going to win any game in which they hold the other team under 30 points."

Denver only scored 30 because Pagano went super-conservative at the end of the game and kept giving them the ball back. That game really shouldn't have been that close at the end.

70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Wonder if Richardson doesn't have Ron Dayne Disease which if given a really good offensive line the running back can produce but is unable to make the first tackler miss. And that is often the difference between a good run and a bad run.

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

No, Raiders conceded division. Announced on Raiderjoe_FO twierter account. Raiders comepting for wild card spot. Have to
duke it out with dolosjns, Jwts, Pates (whichever ones don't win AFC East) , steelers, Ravens , Chargers and either Broncos or Chiefs. Other AFc teams either going to win a division or are total crap.

Other way to write it these are teams either going to or will comepete for playoff spots- pates, dolpshis, Jets, Steeles, Ravens, Bengals, Raiders, broncos, chiefs, chargers, Clots

154 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Richardson just seems to have no burst or vision. He's slow, misses holes and cutback lanes, and just runs into people constantly. It's baffling, given what a can't-miss back he was supposed to be, and how universally recognized he was as such.

64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Flipping between a few of the early games, and watching the Steelers/Ravens and Colts/Broncos, this has been one of the most entertaining weeks of football watching this year.

66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The Bears defense has been destroyed this year. For some plays against the Redskins, they were missing Melton, Briggs, Tillman, DJ Williams, Nick Collins, and Major Wright. That's over half the week 1 starters.

Even before about half of those injuries, the defense was basically relying on receiver drops, inaccurate throws, and Lance Briggs tackling running backs.

So, I'm pretty sure the Bears are done this year. The offense is playing well so will likely win a few shootouts, but will not threaten any legitimately good team.

113 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I commented over on the "Injury Aftermath" thread that it was funny that Aaron had posted the Briggs injury but not the Cutler injury. Had you told me that both of those players would leave the game and that the Bears would lose by 4 points, it would have taken a long time for me to guess "45-41" as the final. I mean, Briggs is a great player, but I would have thought that the dropoff between him and his backup (Blake Costanzo?! really?!) was far smaller than between Cutler and Josh McCown. Instead, the offense goes and scores 4 TDs with McCown while the D just falls apart.

On the other hand, you are correct that Briggs was playing out of his mind before he got hurt and was probably responsible for most of the third-down stops (of which they had none after he left).

Also, my guess is that the McCown-led offense isn't going to win any shootouts, either, despite the near-magical performance yesterday. I am very pessimistic about the rest of this season (and, unfortunately, about the future of the defense, unless Emery has an all-time-great offseason).

151 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I've come to the unfortunate conclusion that there's nothing to feel optimistic about regarding the Bears anymore. This season is a lost cause due to all of the injuries (it might have been anyway, but we'll never know). There's no reason to think the defense will be anything but even worse next year. So now after years of losing games 13-9, we can look forward to a lot more 45-41 losses.

I wonder what the Bears do with Cutler after this season. Frankly, I don't think it matters much anymore. I don't see them contending for a Super Bowl while Cutler is still playing, even if he continues to play at the highest level of his career, but it's not like they're going to have a good enough draft pick to try to get someone who can reasonably be expected to be a franchise QB.

172 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

My god we Bears fans are a bunch of Mopey Mopersons today. And just because we lost our QB and best defensive player. Come on, look on the bright side!

Seriously, though, if I put on my extra-thick Bear goggles, here's what I see: 1) the offense already damn near above-average and will only be better next year with further development from the OL kids and Jeffery (I'm assuming Cutler will be back and, though it's callous to say this now, at a bargain price); 2) there is no guarantee that Briggs and Tillman and Peppers can't go another year, and maybe next year is the year they all manage to stay healthy. In the meantime we get Melton & Collins back, Wootton looks like he could actually be pretty decent at DT, too, so then Emery just needs to go find some safeties. Basically, it is not out of the question that the Bears could be very good next year, though it will certainly take a few things breaking their way.

This season, on the other hand, is a lost cause.

176 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I like your optimism and I hope you're right. Barring serious injury or other developments, you're right that the Bears seem to be set on most of the offense. I think Cutler played well enough this season to earn a franchise tag, if not a long-term deal. I think it would be absurd to let him go and pin the hopes of the next few years on a mid-first-round player when they have so much that's already working with the offense, plus they brought in Trestman in large part to work with Cutler.

As for the defense, I'm less optimistic than you. I think Peppers is already done (as an impact player at least) and it's likely that Briggs and Tillman will drop off further next year (though not guaranteed, of course). Getting some safeties is an absolute must, as that's a position that I feel like they were pretty bad at even last year.

195 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

This is kind of a crazy idea, but I wonder if the Bears should convert to a 3-4 defense. I think playing ILB in a 3-4 would extend Briggs's career a few years, and Peppers is still good against the run, so he should be able to play a 5-technique end. This would let McClellin play his natural position of pass rushing OLB. It wouldn't affect the secondary (and the corners are the only above average players left on this defense). Wooten would probably also make a decent 5-technique since he's been bouncing back and forth between end and tackle.

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"Ed Reed's read on the Alex Smith busted-play touchdown run was one that made me ache for the glory days of John Busing, Wil Demps, and C.C. Brown. Reed is legitimately the third-best safety on this team right now, behind Shiloh Keo and D.J. Swearinger."

God, I'd forgotten about Busing. Reed is awful, and safety is an absolute mess with Manning gone, but nothing will ever, ever make me wish for the return of C.C. Brown (who, mercifully, was never on the team at the same time as Busing). I fully expect tight ends and THIRST backs to destroy this team for the rest of the season, though. And QBs who can approximately run. And slot receivers. This could be one of the more talented 5-11 teams in recent years.

72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"CBS shows a graphic featuring an absurd bit of random nonsense and small sample size, showing that the Packers have scored a touchdown with between two and five minutes left in the third quarter in all five games so far. Graphic is titled "Packers' magic moment."

I thought only ESPN was capable of such creative use of statistics that mean absolutely nothing...glad to know CBS is not above that.

85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

You've got the Ditka-Harbaugh intercept a bit wrong. Ditka had saved the out-and-up pattern all game till he knew it would work. Harbaugh audibled to the plain ol' out, despite Ditka having said 'no audibles' due to the Metrodome noise (I think that's when they were piping in sound). The receiver indeed didn't hear it, so just ran the out-and-up, leaving him wide open for a touchdown cuz' the corner did jump on the out. Which of course was what Harbaugh threw. Easily the worst play I've seen in decades of watching the NFL.

96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

And it wasn't a monday night game.

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/199210040min.htm

That play was the Viking's first score in a rally from a 20-0 deficit to win 21-20. When the Bears were up 20-0, that's the last time I remember thinking the Ditka Bears were dominant. After that loss, they didn't seem like the same team (I know I shouldn't bring up momentum on an advanced stats site) on the way to a 5-11 record, after which Ditka was fired.

114 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

While it was a terrible decision & throw by Harbaugh, that play made the game 20-7 in the 4th quarter, with the Bears getting the ball back. What stunned me watching back then (and being used to awesome Bears defenses) was the fact that Minnesota just rolled right over them the next two drives. And, of course, the Bears were turtling on offense at that point and assuming the D would hold (despite the fact that they'd given up at least 24 points to every opponent they had faced that year). So in addition to being the beginning of the end of the Ditka era, it was one more nail in the coffin of the Buddy Ryan defense.

89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I'm biased, but I didn't see Pats-Jets as a mostly even game. The Pats had a big lead at halftime but hadn't really played much better. In the second half the Jets were significantly superior. It felt like a game where the Patriots were fortunate to get to overtime. Statistically the Jets had the advantage in almost all categories.

At this point I think we can say that all the teams in the AFC East are mediocre. Too bad the vagaries of the division system are going to give one of these teams a home playoff game, while one of Chiefs/Broncos will have to be a wild card.

92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The Pats game-losing fg penalty reminds me of a Colts game years ago, back when Michaels and Madden did Monday Night Football.
Can't remember the opponent, but the Colts needed a last-second field goal. The kick missed, but the officials threw a flag against the defense for "leaping," and the Colts got a second try, which was good.

"Leaping," apparently, is a defensive player in the second line using a teammate on the front line as a springboard in order to leap higher and block the kick. In this case the defensive player had put his hand on the shoulder of the teammate in front of him in order to boost himself higher into the air.
It was a penalty I had never heard of before and have never seen since.

I don't think it was necessarily a scam by the refs to help the Colts win, but it did remind me of those 'Word-A-Day' calendars, where you increase your vocabulary by learning one new word and using it in a sentence every day. I wondered if one of the officials had a 'Penalty-A-Day' calendar at home and "Leaping" was the one he had learned that Monday.

100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Isn't the penalty called leverage? I've seen it in a more recent game and saw a bunch of references to the game you're talking about. I remember it because of the signal that signifies it, which is the referee making a dihedral with his arms.

111 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Had to Google 'dihedral.' Add it to my word-a-day calendar.

It might have been 'Leverage,' it's strange that I remember 'Leaping' so vividly. I used to drink a lot back then, so...

I wonder if the Leverage penalty explains why teams don't employ a very small man for goal line plays. Find a guy who's three feet tall, hand him the ball, pick him up and throw him over the goal line. If it was legal, Belichick would have tried it by now, but I always wondered which penalty prohibited it.

130 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

You're describing "helping the runner", not leverage, and Refrigerator Perry actually was flagged for doing something like that with Walter Payton against the Cowboys in 1985. (There was a more egregious example in 1904 where a Tennessee running back had two giant loops sewn onto his belt, then let two larger players use those loops to hurl him forward and over the line. This was quickly banned.)

The ultimate example of leverage would be something like this, which is also not allowed.

107 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

About time someone, somewhere finally noticed that Tom Brady is playing at a decidedly mortal level this year so far. Enough with the "developing rapport with his young WR's" stuff, fact is that he's missing with a lot of throws and exhibiting that late-career Dan Marino frustration all the time.

109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Everytime someone brings up the 'he's throwing to all new guys'... well what about Philip Rivers. Yes, Gates is still there, but his two main receivers now are last year's #3 guy and a 3rd round rookie, and Danny Woodhead, and he's been the 2nd best QB in the NFL through 6 weeks by DVOA/DYAR.

115 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

It's interesting, after Week 2 I posited that Ryan Clady was Denver's second most important offensive player, and the responses here were generally "Nah, Peyton makes O-Lines look good because of his reads and quick delivery." After yesterday, I'm still convinced Clady is their second most important offensive player.

Also, I never would have believed that Knowshon Moreno would end up being the least fumble-prone RB on the roster.

116 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Scott Kacsmar on the Ravens/Steelers: "Special teams were not a huge story in the game".

Hmmm..., I think the 50 yards in field position the Ravens lost when they tried to surprise onside kick the Steelers may have been a bit important. You don't think the free 3 points the Ravens gave the Steelers there had an impact?

I feel like John Harbaugh can't impact the offensive or defensive units, so he comes up with special teams trickery to put his stamp on the game. Except the past 3 tricks have worked out disastrously: a fake punt against the Eagles last year (result was a 1 point loss), the fake FG in the Super Bowl that got snuffed out by Willis, and this surprise onside kick. Here's an idea, how about you coach the offensive lineman to block instead of coming up with new ways to screw your team over?

125 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Sorry, I missed that play live. Saw the flag and just assumed it was a good kick return with a 15-yarder tacked on to create that field position.

This is why I usually write recaps the day after the game when I have a gamebook and GameRewind to look at.

162 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The fake FG in the Super Bowl worked out ok for the Ravens. Niners got the ball back on downs, then punted a few plays later from deep in their own territory, and the Ravens scored a TD on the ensuing possession.

Similar dynamic in the Eagles game. From the play-by-play on PFR, Ravens turned it over on downs early in the 2nd Q, after Sean Considine is stopped on 4th-&-4. The Eagles get the ball, but Vick fumbles 7 plays later. Ravens score a TD on the ensuing possession.

Most of the spec teams stuff went the Ravens way last year (in the reg season) –
which is kind of an obvious thing to say, since the Ravens also led the league last year in spec teams DVOA. This year nothing goes the Ravens way.

I liked the timing of the onside kick, thought it was a decent gamble. But the execution was horrid, simply terrible.

167 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The issue with the onside kick for me is that it didn't look like anyone else but Tucker on the Ravens was aware of it. If they had a bunch of guys streaming to the ball that would have been smart, but it was just Tucker going after the ball.

And I'm not sure having the defense play lights out after the turnover on downs justifies those other decisions. I mean, did Harbaugh somehow know that those were going to be the results and therefore take the chance? I somehow doubt it.

117 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

For all the new england field goal talk, if i recall correctly, a similar call happened against the chargers in week 1 against houston.

175 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

i didnt expect anyone to comment back to this for a couple differnt reasons.

1. no one watches the chargers play
2. new england fans want to hyperbolize the affect of the play against their team

177 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

That's something I've long gotten used to. If you're a fan of a team from a top-5 media market, you get extra attention/discussion when something really good or really bad happens to you. Think about how much ink/bandwidth has been spent discussing a 1-6 team (Giants) this year.

For example, when the Tigers beat the Yankees in the ALCS last year, there was much hand-wringing about how the Yankees failed, and little in the way of plaudits for the Tigers. That's what strength in numbers gets you. Nothing you can do about it.

123 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

As a Washington fan I want to see Merriweather suspended. He has had over 150k fines already in the past 3 seasons including the $42k for concussing Eddy Lacy. He just sickens me and I just don't know what will get to him. Ideally the team needs to cut him no matter how it affects the defense.

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I agree. Although his continued presence takes away negative attention from Ndamakong Suh (who has done really dumb things, but has never caused an injury), Merriweather needs to be suspended if the NFL is really serious about player safety.

179 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Honestly, the league needs to suspend him at the very least to save Merriweather from himself. He knocked out Eddie Lacy and then tried to do the same thing to James Starks but ended up taking the himself out instead. I've never seen a player just completely disregard league rules...especially one that the NFL has implemented to try and PROTECT players.

Did he not hear about the giant concussion lawsuit settlement...it was sort of a big deal.

126 Rex tipped off refs?

Some buzz up here around Boston that Rob Ryan noticed NE doing it in the NE/NO game and told his brother and then Rex tipped off the refs.

What I'd like to know is if Rex told the refs before the game to look for it or if he held it in his back pocket until a FG attempt he might want a do-over on.

If the latter I can only, grudgingly say, "Well played, Rex, well played."

(And to make it crystal clear, I have no problems with a coach doing something like that and in fact would consider any coach who didn't do something like that to be incompetent.)

188 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Agree.

And honestly, CBs have mostly gotten worse as Patriots. Butler looked great as a rookie, terrible as a second year. Same with Wilhite. Arrington was much worse as a second year than a rookie.

Its like all their instincts go away, and they stop looking for the ball.

199 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Was Butler the one who was always in the receiver's hip pocket but could never get his hands on the ball? Or was that Wilhite? Or was that Wheatley? They're all blending together at this point. It was Butler, right?

200 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Its been pretty much all of them, although Wilhite is the one who had that problem the worst.

Butler looked good as a rookie, then got absolutely torched in the 2nd or 3rd game of his second season and never seemed to get his shit back together.

It seemed like with the trade of Talib, they started looking for the ball again.

144 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I enjoyed the irony of Bernard Pollard having an interception wiped off the books because his team got penalized for violating the Bernard Pollard rule.

157 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

@MilkmanDanimal: Chad Henne just tried running on a read option. Burn this play. Burn this playbook. Burn this team. Burn everything you can.

I think that was the second option they tried. Henne actually gained four years and a first down on an option play in the second quarter.

174 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Most of this is probably old news, but ... Web text on the rule covering the "pushing the pile" penalty in Pats/Jets game. The first two items are versions of a article on 2013 rule changes from "nfl.com". The first is the web page "www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000237712/article/new-nfl-rules-overloading-line-restriction-will-protect-linemen" from google cache, 10/16/2013; the second is the current page. The third item is the rule as it appears in a PDF file of the 2013 Official Playing Rules of the National Football League. The 2013 NFL rules, however, are not easy to find. The "rule book" link at the bottom of "nfl.com" pages points to the 2012 rules. Amazon does not have a listing for the 2013 rules, or 2012 for that matter, so it seems the NFL does not have a paper edition. A PDF of the 2013 rules is now available on "nfl.com", but apparently only since 10/21/2013. That is the first listing of the link on the wayback machine at "archive.org". Google webcache does not have any archived pages. The 2013 NFL rules PDF file has been up on the Spanish language site "oficiales.org" since 9/20/2013. A number of pages have links to the official NFL rules, but they all point to "oficiales.org". Peter King says NBC has a copy of the 2013 rules, so the NFL did distribute the document. This is not the worst call in Pats history. Ray Hamilton, D-Line coach in Atlanta can tell you about that. Ben Dreith, who made the call in a 1976 AFC playoff game between Oakland and New England, never worked another Pats game. (So says Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe.) I wonder if tuck-rule official Walt Coleman covered any Raiders games after 2001. In any case, the NFL and "nfl.com" are looking pretty sloppy and whichever Pats plebeian was responsible for reading the rules is probably looking for a new job.

-------------------------------------------------------------

"Published: Sept. 3, 2013 at 01:28 p.m. Updated: Sept. 4, 2013 at 12:35 p.m

Editor's note: This is a closer look at one of four player health and safety-related rules that are new to this NFL season, which begins Thursday.

NEW RULE: A ban on teams overloading one side of the defensive line on point-after and field-goal attempts.

What the rule changes: During a field-goal attempt or a try kick: (1) No more than six Team B players may be on the line of scrimmage on either side of the snapper at the snap; Penalty: For illegal formation by the defense, loss of 5 yards from the previous spot. (2) Team B players not on the line of scrimmage at the snap cannot push players on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation. Penalty: For unnecessary roughness, loss of 15 yards from the previous spot."

-------------------------------------------------------------

"Published: Sept. 3, 2013 at 01:28 p.m. Updated: Oct. 20, 2013 at 06:32 p.m

Editor's note: The rule proposal was amended before it was passed to ban pushing of any "Team B" teammate at the line of scrimmage.

NEW RULE: A ban on teams overloading one side of the defensive line on point-after and field-goal attempts.

What the rule changes: "(a) When Team A presents a punt, field-goal attempt or a Try Kick formation, a Team B player, who is within 1 yard of the line of scrimmage, must have his entire body outside the snapper's shoulder pads at the snap. (b) When Team A presents a field-goal or Try Kick formation: (1) No more than six Team B players may be on the line of scrimmage on either side of the snapper at the snap; Penalty: For illegal formation by the defense, loss of 5 yards from the previous spot. (2) Team B players cannot push teammates on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation. Penalty: For unnecessary roughness, loss of 15 yards from the previous spot."

-------------------------------------------------------------

From rule nine, "scrimmage kick", article 1, section 3: "(2) Team B players cannot push teammates on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation. Penalty: For unnecessary roughness: Loss of 15 yards."

180 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

" and when you overthrow a guy to the point where the ball lands five yards out of bounds, that's not possibly an issue of "not being in sync with your receivers yet." There's no option routes where one of the options is "be five yards out of bounds."

I don't know why so many people are just finally getting to this point. He's been missing wide open guys all season.

Thomkins and Dobson have had their bad drops, but they've been getting open all the time, and most of the time, Brady is just completely missing them. And its tough to say they "ran the wrong route" when they're wide open behind the defense.

Either there's something wrong with Brady, or hes cooked.

208 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I can't figure out why type is being wasted and viewing hours are being spent on the JAGS at this point. It is obvious to me that they are not blitzing, resting Mincey, etc., because they have gone into full-on NBA-style tank mode. They are officially building that bridge to Bridgewater.