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

Audibles at the Line: Week 2

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

compiled by Andrew Potter

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to turn into (if they can).

On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

While these e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Steelers 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.

Houston Texans 17 at Carolina Panthers 24

Rob Weintraub: Ryan Mallett makes a tremendously athletic play just to flick away a backhand incomplete pass and not take a sack, which keeps Houston alive against Carolina. They have one more chance for the end zone. But alas he overthrows Nuke Hopkins at the back in the end zone and Carolina hangs on to win.

Tom Gower: Ryan Mallett attempted 58 passes, completing 27 of them for 244 yards. I don't even know what to say about that statline, aside from that Houston is clearly still searching for answers. The offensive line woes didn't help, with Derek Newton out and his backup Jeff Adams getting carted off during the game, but at some point you need to do a better job throwing the ball. But I'm not sure how much of this is a surprise, really. Kony Ealy did what he could to help the Texans out on the final possession, getting flagged for roughing the passer on a third-down incompletion and jumping offsides on third-and-4.

San Francisco 49ers 18 at Pittsburgh Steelers 43

Scott Kacsmar: 49ers had a pretty bad challenge on a sideline catch by Antonio Brown. He controlled the ball all the way even after taking a big shot, so I have no idea what the 49ers saw to challenge. 49ers have snuffed out two screens so far -- not that I have any idea why you'd run a bubble screen to Darrius Heyward-Bey. Steelers are committing a lot of penalties to get to third-and-26, where Ben Roethlisberger is not on the same page with his receiver. It's a sloppy start.

Steelers can't buy a takeaway after their challenge fails. Anquan Boldin caught a pass facing Colin Kaepernick, got two feet down, turned upfield and was stripped. They ruled incomplete on the field. Steelers challenged it was a fumble and lost. I hate these plays. When you can see the guy actually change direction with control of the ball, how is that not a fumble? This "bang-bang play" standard is too strict.

DHB seeing a lot more targets than expected so far due to the Martavis Bryant suspension. He actually hauled in another deep one for the second game in a row. After a Heath Miller touchdown, Roethlisberger hurries up the offense to go for a two-point conversion. He found Brown for two points. I'm shocked they actually did something they said they would do this offseason by going for two in a most unconventional game situation.

Vince Verhei: There are times when I think a three-man rush makes sense. Second-and-goal inside the 10-yard line is not one of those times, and Ben Roethlisberger has an easy touchdown to put the Steelers up 6-0 in the first quarter. They then go for two because why not, and convert that too for an 8-0 lead. That's the first time I've seen a team go for two when they never, ever would have under the old rules.

Scott Kacsmar: I want to say that was the ninth time since 1994 an offense went for a two-point conversion in the first quarter (no fake or aborted XP). We haven't seen it since the Titans tried one against Baltimore in 1998. And yeah, that's the impact of the new rules.

The single-season record for successful two-point conversions is six (1994 Dolphins and 1997 Vikings). The 2015 Steelers are 3-for-3 and should obliterate that record. Josh Scobee just missed an extra point and may be another miss or two away from losing his job. He missed two field goals last week. At least this could lead to the Steelers just going for two almost every time. This opportunity came after DHB actually made a nice catch on a great throw from Roethlisberger. 49ers look outmatched on both sides of the ball. [Insert circadian rhythm comment about Pacific team playing an early game in the east.]

Sterling Xie: Niners just ran nine plays in the red zone and ended up with zero points. Pretty much sums up their day. Hopefully the Carlos Hyde injury doesn't turn out to be a big deal.

Scott Kacsmar: "Two 17-play drives net you three points" sums up the 49ers quite well today.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26 at New Orleans Saints 19

Scott Kacsmar: Saints gave themselves a shot at the end, but how far has this team fallen if they're losing at home to the Buccaneers? These things used to only happen on the road for this team. The defense has almost always been suspect, but even the offense isn't reliable anymore after losing too much talent. Jameis Winston played a much cleaner game after that ugly debut.

Aaron Schatz: Actually, the Saints' home record was always a bit of a myth. They were undefeated at home in 2013, and of course there were some amazing games back in 2006, but otherwise their home-field advantage was never greater than the usual NFL home-field advantage.

Of course, even with the usual home-field advantage, you aren't supposed to lose six straight home games. And now they have.

Scott Kacsmar: Saints at home against a bad team were pretty safe. I think it's wise to assume the 2015 Buccaneers won't win nine-plus games, so this is four straight home losses for the Saints against teams without a winning record. They had a 25-4 stretch dating back to 2008 before this current streak.

Tom Gower: What about the New Orleans offense concerns you right now? Any of their individual players? About all I saw of this game beyond the odd highlight was the Saints' failed final possession, but I don't know what the answer is.

Detroit Lions 16 at Minnesota Vikings 26

Cian Fahey: Adrian Peterson doesn't look like peak Adrian Peterson, but he's a far cry from the incompetent player who was wearing his jersey in Week 1. Huge for the Vikings.

Vince Verhei: Matthew Stafford's bad day continues. He throws a pass 2 yards behind Calvin Johnson that is intercepted, but the play is wiped out by a Vikings penalty. Next play, Justin Trattou sort-of rushes off the edge, but holds up. Stafford tries a pass to the flat, but it hits Trattou right in the chest for an easy pick.

Aaron Schatz: So, Ameer Abdullah has less than 10 yards against the same Vikings defense that let Carlos Hyde run all over them last week? Once again, proof you shouldn't try to predict anything in football on a week-to-week basis unless you are willing to accept extreme amounts of variation.

Actually, serious question for Vince and anyone else watching Detroit-Minnesota. Has Detroit just given up on running the ball? Does the Vikings defense look that much better than last week? Matthew Stafford is the Lions' leading rusher today, for crying out loud.

Vince Verhei: The Lions were never terribly interested in running, and in the second half the score virtually took the choice out of their hands. If I'm doing my math right, they had four drives and 30 plays after Minnesota went ahead 23-10 midway through the third quarter. Only two of those plays were running back runs, and one of those was fumbled away.

Arizona Cardinals 48 at Chicago Bears 23

Vince Verhei: Jay Cutler's career neatly summarized in one half: He starts off 8-of-8 for 120 yards and a touchdown. Then on his next throw he throws a pick-six that stretches the Bears' deficit from 21-14 to 28-14. Worse, Cutler injured his shoulder trying to make a tackle, and the Bears are down to one healthy quarterback: Jimmy Clausen.

Cian Fahey: Running a flea-flicker to Larry Fitzgerald at this stage of your career is football's alley-oop to yourself.

Tom Gower: It was a hamstring injury to Jay Cutler, not a shoulder. Totally. Really. The Bears even said so. I don't know why you would possibly claim it was a shoulder injury.

Aaron Schatz: I guess they're saying Jay Cutler was clutching his hamstring after that attempted tackle. It looked like shoulder to me too, but hey, I'm not a medical expert by any means.

New England Patriots 40 at Buffalo Bills 32

Aaron Schatz: Patriots' run defense looking like a definite problem as the Bills march down the field easily for a touchdown on the opening drive. Also, I would advise a spy against Tyrod Taylor.

Sterling Xie: New Engalnd's run-pass ratio today is probably gonna resemble its playoff game against Baltimore from last year. Eight passes, no runs on that Patriots touchdown drive ending in an 8-yard Julian Edelman touchdown. Impressed by how much time Brady has had in the pocket, at least so far.

Aaron Schatz: Nobody is better than Edelman when it comes to agility in small spaces. They had a safety and a linebacker on him there on third-and-goal from the 8-yard line, and he still got wide open with a little whip route.

By the way, on the drive before that, it looked like Rex Ryan was trying to challenge the idea that Tyrod Taylor ran out of bounds for a sack instead of throwing the ball away. This would have been the difference between fourth-and-9 and fourth-and-15. The refs apparently told him this was unchallengeable, or something. It was hard to tell from the broadcast. But wow, what a silly challenge that would have been.

After one quarter, the Patriots lead 14-7 and the Bills have drawn three flags for unsportsmanlike conduct. That's two personal fouls for fighting after a play (on the same play) and then a taunting penalty after the Patriots kicked an extra point. Yes, that's correct. As Nick Goss from NESN said on Twitter, only a Rex Ryan team would draw a flag for taunting after GIVING UP a touchdown.

Sterling Xie: Pats extend their lead to 21-7 with Rob Gronkowski's fourth touchdown of the season. Score came on the same formation that led to two touchdowns against Pittsburgh last week, with Gronk and Scott Chandler split out to the left side of the formation. Body language of Buffalo defenders seemed to suggest a miscommunication, and I think I remember Pittsburgh also having a coverage breakdown against that formation last week. Really tough situation to defend.

Scott Kacsmar: It should be an automatic double team on Gronk any time he splits out wide inside the 5-yard line. If a defense is confused, call timeout, especially in the first half. No one seems to do any of that though.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots defense is switching things up on the Bills. After the first drive when the Bills scored the easy touchdown, the Patriots came out with three defensive tackles. Then the last drive, they came out with rookie Malcom Brown at defensive tackle plus four defensive ends. Doing something different each drive. Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for the usual complicated Rex Ryan blitzes. Haven't seen a lot of the crazy stuff from last week against the Colts, like Kyle Williams coming from wide.

Sterling Xie: I believe it was Andy Benoit who mentioned this on Twitter earlier this week, but Brady is so much better throwing the deep ball to his left. 39-yard wheel route to Dion Lewis was placed on a dime.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots go up 34-13. I understand that Rex Ryan tends to go against his usual blitzing ways and rush only three or four against Tom Brady, but still, the talented Buffalo defensive line should really be getting more pressure than this considering that the Patriots are starting a UDFA rookie at center and another rookie at guard, and had their backup right tackle playing for about 20 minutes while Sebastian Vollmer was in the locker room with a finger injury. After 40 minutes, Tom Brady has only been sacked once for zero yards. Brady is getting the ball out quickly, which has something to do with that. But even on slower-developing plays, there isn't as much pressure as I would expect.

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Sterling Xie: I do remember the Jets having a lot of success off blitzes in the Week 16 game against New England last year, so it's a little surprising to me to see Rex move so far away from that. Patriots have also gotten especially timely pass pro on a few third-and-long situations (like that third-and-7 conversion to Aaron Dobson on that last scoring drive). David Andrews and Josh Kline have combined for four penalties, but I think the Pats would gladly take that given how mostly solid they've been otherwise.

Aaron Schatz: If you name any two players from this game, they've probably combined for four penalties. Buffalo got an unsportsmanlike penalty charged to the entire bench. The refs are feeling a little frisky today.

Somehow, while I was flipping over to watch the ends of two close games on FOX, the Bills scored 18 points on the Patriots and turned New England-Buffalo into a 37-32 game. So the Patriots have a four-minute offense drive to try to kill the clock and end this. And... Tom Brady goes deep to Dion Lewis for a 22-yard defensive pass interference gain. It's almost as if the Patriots thought, "Hey, this officiating crew seems to want to throw a flag for every single little possible thing, let's go get an easy DPI gain." And then it happened. Egads, has this game had a lot of penalties.

And then an insane diving catch from Danny Amendola. Wow. That catch was so good it merits a Vine.

Apparently the penalty on the Bills' bench was on Rex Ryan. He said in the postgame press conference. "That was mine. The guy's got rabbit ears. I don't know what to tell you." So I guess he swore at one of the officials or something.

Andrew Healy: A couple of postgame thoughts:

1) The pass rush looked very good from the Patriots, but Chnandler Jones' three sacks were mostly on Cordy Glenn playing very poorly. But those Jamie Collins/Dont'a Hightower A-gap blitzes are just hard to deal with.

2) Tyrod Taylor threw a couple of nice deep balls and that looks to be a strength, but there seemed for much of the game to be little intention to have him throw more than the occasional pass in the middle of the field beyond 5 yards. That needs to change if the Bills have aspirations to be a serious contender. They took a chance on going with Taylor, which they had to do because we know Cassel/Manuel aren't good enough. Soon they have to take the chance to give Taylor more than screens and deep shots on most plays.

3) On a day when Brady looked very much in eff-you mode, three awesome catches for the Patriots, only one of which counted for Brady. The late one to Amendola, a Swann-ish catch by Gronk where he touched down out of bounds, and my favorite was Malcolm Butler's diving pick. Amazing he kept that from hitting the turf.

4) Bad Idea jeans tactic of the day: Leaving Bradley Fletcher mostly on an island to cover, well, almost anyone. All that changes is the uniform and the opponent he's flailing hopelessly after on another go route. Today it was Percy Harvin and Sammy Watkins.

San Diego Chargers 19 at Cincinnati Bengals 24

Robert Weintraub: Jeremy Hill has one bugaboo, and that's ball security. He fumbled twice and was benched Sunday, one of them just a flat drop. Fortunately, the Bengals have a pretty good alternative in Gio Bernard, and he appeared back to his 2013 self. His key fumble against SD in the wild-card game in 2013 set Gio on a downward spiral -- hopefully a good game against the Bolts allows him to put that behind him.

Collision Low Crossers was a great book by Nicholas Dawidoff about life in the NFL. It's also a defensive concept, and clearly, it was a priority for the Cincy linebackers, as they were very active in rerouting those shallow crossers and pick plays the Chargers love to run.

SD rolled up a ton of YAC last week -- keeping that to a minimum and tackling well were keys for the Bengals. Adam Jones for the second straight week was very active in said tackling, and provided his usual sticky coverage. Dre Kirkpatrick had a crucial miscommunication (expecting safety help that wasn't there) late but otherwise did a good job tackling as well. Keenan Allen had 2 catches for 16 yards. 'Nuf said.

Allen also muffed a punt early that led to Cincy's first score. He was only back there because Jacoby Jones was inactive. Tough day for Allen.

D.J. Fluker was also inactive, and he was sorely missed inside. Geno Atkins ate Chris Hairston's lunch all day. Orlando Franklin wasn't very good, either.

Melvin Gordon looked very tough and energetic, getting a ton of yards after contact.

The 2-point play at 24-19 was critical. SD went with a smoke screen to Allen, a play they love on the goal line and scored on a couple of times last year. But one of Leon Hall's particular strengths is sniffing out and stuffing WR screen actions, and he blew this one up. Did it twice against OAK last Sunday.

Hue Jackson Pandora's Box alert! Tackle Jake Fisher is eligible so often it's become a drinking game in Cincinnati, but for once he was the intended target. He caught a 31-yard pass, and really should have scored but was unable to juke Eric Weddle, the big stiff. Apparently it's the second-longest reception by a tackle since 1950 (Brian Baldinger has the record), but that's unofficial.

Cincy looks good early, particularly the o-line, which has certainly played better than Dallas' vaunted front in this short sample. Now everyone will have them whaling on 0-2 Baltimore next Sunday. As we all know, that's the signal for the Daltoncoaster to crest the big hill and the Bengals to chalk up an L.

Tennessee Titans 14 at Cleveland Browns 28

Tom Gower: Browns lead 14-0 eight and a half minutes into the game. The Titans offense has looked bad so far, going three-and-out once and the second drive ending short of midfield with a Terrance West fumble. Johnny Manziel found Travis Benjamin for a 60-yard score on the first drive, beating Coty Sensabaugh in coverage, and the second ended with Isaiah Crowell taking it in from 11 yards out. Week 1? Looks like it never happened, for either team. Titans have not run any packaged play looks yet, for the curious.

Cian Fahey: Even if Johnny Manziel collapses in on himself over the next three quarters of this game, he's shown enough in the first quarter to make it an illogical decision if they move back to Josh McCown.

Vince Verhei: It was an illogical decision when they signed McCown.

Aaron Schatz: The football commentariat seems way too quick to write off players who struggle as rookies and even quicker to write off quarterbacks who struggle as rookies, as if no players are allowed to have a learning curve going from college to the NFL anymore. But on top of that, we all knew Manziel's biggest issue was his off-field activity. I've been told some pretty remarkable stories about just how far gone Brett Favre was in his rookie year in Atlanta. Rehab really does have value for some people.

Cian Fahey: Marcus Mariota's accuracy has been spotty today but he has shown off aspects of his skill set that critics said he didn't have. That showed up on an early third-and-long conversion when he came off his first read, stepped up in the pocket and delivered an accurate pass downfield under pressure.

The Titans' roster was clearly better than the Buccaneers', but it's clearly worse than the Browns.

Tom Gower: 21-0 at the half. The Titans' defense stabilized after the early scores, stopping the Browns after they had good field position around midfield a couple times and shutting down a Manziel sneak on fourth-and-1 in the red zone (at 14-0, I wouldn't have hated the decision to kick the 37-yard field goal there as much as I would normally have). But the Titans offense still hasn't done anything of note, and Travis Benjamin got a punt return score late to make it 21-0. The game still doesn't feel quite that close, but it's more reflective of the difference in quality of play than 14-0 would have been.

Cian covered Mariota some, so I'll limit my notes. I mentioned on Twitter his imperfections last week have become failings this week. He's still a rookie, and rookies don't read the field or process defenses as quickly as veterans. That's resulted in some pass pressures today, including the sack at the end of the first half. That's probably also part of what got him on a couple throws that haven't been on target. He's still done some good things, but not enough to elevate the quality of play around him. Oh, yeah, and Chance Warmack also got carted off; his mostly underwhelming career to date notwithstanding, I'd rather have him starting than Jamon Meredith.

Vince Verhei: Browns are using the most wonderfully old school attack today, relying on deep passes, power runs, and kick returns for their offense. They've got 16 runs and 11 passes at halftime, and most of those runs have come from classic under-center formations with 21, 12, or 22 personnel. Up 14-0, they turned down a 36-yard field goal to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the 19. Like that decision, hate the play-call of a quarterback sneak. Johnny Manziel is not Cam Newton, and if you're going to ask him to run, give him an option look and let him attack the edge. That drive finished with nine plays for 51 yards, but just one pass, which gained 9 yards.

And the fourth-down failure doesn't much matter, because the teams go on to trade punts for a while, and then Travis Benjamin returns one 78 yards for a touchdown. Benjamin also has a 60-yard touchdown catch. Josh Gordon, you are not missed.

Tom Gower: The second half for the Titans offense this game is just going to be the Browns' edge rushers teeing off on rookie right tackle Jeremiah Poutasi and fill-in right guard Jamon Meredith. If the Browns had a functioning offense, this game would have a chance to get really ugly.

I issue that forecast of impending doom, and the Titans go drive for a touchdown. Most of the drive was spent on the ground, some place the Titans didn't find success earlier in the game or even in last year's contest in Nashville. Mariota did cap the drive off with a nice touchdown to Anthony Fasano.

Since he started off playing well, Manziel hasn't done much at all. A couple fumbles on third down sacks, neither lost, and some missed throws downfield. The Browns should probably play him over Josh McCown, just because he's not Josh McCown, but if they think he's not ready, then it's not obviously a horrible decision.

Vince Verhei: A few observations from Tennessee's second-half rally:

  • Contrary to prediction, Mariota has been largely unpressured in the second half.
  • Dexter McCluster is having a career day with 10 carries for 98 yards. His best day in five years in Kansas City was 12 carries for 61 yards.
  • Charlie Whitehurst is roaming the Tennessee sideline in a baseball cap, sleeveless t-shirt, and his uniform pants. Not many men could pull this off, but not many men are Clipboard Jesus.

Atlanta Falcons 24 at New York Giants 20

Aaron Schatz: Just switched over to the last two minutes of Giants-Falcons. Great pass by Matt Ryan to give Atlanta the 24-20 win, maybe even better acceleration by Julio Jones to get away from Prince Amukamara. The Falcons held on and prevented the Giants comeback attempt after that but I must say I'm scratching my head a little bit that the Falcons aren't using Desmond Trufant on Odell Beckham. It's Dan Quinn now as Atlanta head coach and this was the way it was in Seattle, of course, leaving Sherman on one side almost exclusively no matter where the opponent's best receiver was. Except with Atlanta, I think the value of putting Trufant on the opponent's top receiver is even stronger because you don't have the quality safety to help on the back end of the defense.

Miami Dolphins 20 at Jacksonville Jaguars 23

Cian Fahey: The downfall of the Miami Dolphins is going to be their coaching staff. They refuse to use Lamar Miller or even run the ball consistently with another back. He has three touches into the second quarter while Ryan Tannehill has 11 pass attempts.

Vince Verhei: I tuned into this just in time to see Allen Robinson's 46-yard touchdown in the second quarter that put Jacksonville up 17-6. Robinson lined up in the left slot and ran a slant-and-go. Dolphins were in a Cover-2, and the safety to that side totally bit on the slant and let Robinson run right by him for the score.

Since then, it's mostly been Tannehill throwing to guys in the seams between Jacksonville's zones. He doesn't have a lot of touch on these throws and they're coming in high, forcing receivers to jump for them, which is limiting their YAC opportunities. They got one touchdown and missed a field goal to pull within 17-13. Jaguars then got a DPI just before halftime that put the ball at the Miami 40-yard line, and Jason Myers ended the half with a 58-yard field goal to put Jacksonville up 20-13.

Tom Gower: Joe Philbin was screaming at the officials at halftime about that 58-yard field goal, and he had a real point. The field goal just barely had enough range, and I'm not sure how they spotted the defensive pass interference where they did. The infraction appeared to be a couple yards further back, and unless Jason Myers has extra range on command that mistake gave the Jaguars 3 points.

Rob Weintraub: Heroic play by Dolphins lineman Jason Fox. Tannehill was strip-sacked at the goal line with three minutes left in a tie game. Fox recovered at the stripe and positioned his body so he wasn't safetied. Miami punts but could be losing.

Rob Weintraub: True, "heroic" in the way Forrest Gump was a hero.

Tom Gower: And since he's Jason Fox, playing for an injured Branden Albert, that he gave up the strip-sack to Jared Odrick in the first place was no surprise.

Jacksonville hasn't done a danged thing on offense the entire second half. The only first down in their last four possessions came on an illegal hands to the face penalty on Miami on a failed third down. ... and as I type that sentence, the Jaguars in the two-minute drill in a tie game complete a pass for a first down.

Vince Verhei: This game turned into an ugly slugfest in the second half. For Jacksonville, it was the usual mix of bad play from Blake Bortles (he often looks like he's completely confused out there) and drops from his receivers. Miami has had more luck moving the football, but they've stopped running pretty much entirely, and every few plays an unblocked rusher gets through to sack Tannehill or force an incompletion.

Tom Gower: What a drive. Just heroic stuff by Blake Bortles. As many run plays as they could manage, and Olivier Vernon makes the field goal 15 yards closer and extends the drive with an awful post-play shove. Maybe Clay Harbor flopped a bit, but I never mind seeing dumb actions like that result in negative consequences. And after Miami can't get a first down , even with :40 to play and no timeouts, the Jacksonville Jaguars are in first place in the AFC South.

Baltimore Ravens 33 at Oakland Raiders 37

Rob Weintraub: Third-and-inches for Baltimore. Joe Flacco keeps and runs right behind Marshal Yanda -- one of the best linemen in the league and the best on the team. And he gets blown up in the backfield. Maybe things are different in 2015.

On fourth down the Ravens think better of challenging the middle of Oakland's line and pitch it to Justin Forsett, who just barely gets the first down out wide.

Aaron Schatz: You gotta love the Ravens going for it on fourth-and-1 from their OWN 29-yard line.

Rob Weintraub: One series after throwing an awful lame duck pick, Carr responds with a brilliant game-winning drive to beat the Ravens at home. Nice job by the kid. Terrible job by the Ravens defense who clearly missed Terrell Suggs from what I saw.

Dallas Cowboys 20 at Philadelphia Eagles 10

Aaron Schatz: Both offenses in the Dallas-Philly game have been stagnant through the first 20 minutes. Jordan Matthews hasn't gotten a pass yet. The Eagles running game is doing nothing: DeMarco Murray has 1 yard on his first five carries. As for the Cowboys, they absolutely missed Dez Bryant in the red zone when they discovered Gavin Escobar simply doesn't have the same kind of catch radius that Bryant has. I've also been underwhelmed by the Legion of Room. They're giving Romo lots of time to throw but they are nowhere near as strong on running plays as they were a year ago. Some of that might be Mackenzy Bernadeau and La'el Collins taking turns subbing for Ronald Leary at left guard, but Doug Free at right tackle has also been mediocre, and none of the three Pro Bowlers have made you say "oh, wow, great block" either.

Vince Verhei: I think the first half of Dallas-Philadelphia was worse to watch than the first half of Minnesota-San Francisco on Monday night. At least the Monday night game had funny fumbles and quarterbacks bouncing into their own linemen to keep me entertained. This was just gross incompetence all around. Let's review the closest we got to a touchdown: Gavin Escobar is tackled to make it first-and-goal from the 1. Jason Garrett challenges that he scored, because he has no confidence in the NFL's best offensive line to get 1 yard. He loses the challenge (and a timeout, which would have been useful at the end of the half), then a first-down run is stuffed for a loss of 1. And because of that one failure Garrett loses confidence in the NFL's best offensive line, calling a back-shoulder fade to Escobar on second down (I swear) and a play-action pass on third down. Both fall incomplete, and Garrett goes for the completely spineless field goal to go up 3-0.

And that's the team that's winning! They got another field goal at the end of the half on a drive that produced five first downs via Eagles penalties.

Meanwhile, the Eagles have run 16 plays over five drives with nothing longer than an 8-yard gain (on second-and-9 -- I think that's their only successful play), and their one first down came on a Dallas penalty. This is first quarter of Hall-of-Fame-game-level football.

Oh my God. Eagles open the second half with an actual first down on a pass to Agholor. Then Murray is hit in the backfield and loses 6. Then Murray is hit in the backfield and loses 5. Philadelphia's O-line isn't even touching these guys. Eagles run a give-up screen on third down, but then the Eagles' protection results in disaster for the third time in four snaps, and the punt is blocked and returned for a touchdown. Worse, Donnie Jones was wiped out by a block on the return, so the Eagles, who figure to be in a lot of fourth downs going forward, might be down their punter.

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DeMarco Murray now has seven carries for -10 yards. He has lost yardage on four of his seven carries.

Aaron Schatz: Philadelphia reporters are saying that Kiko Alonso is going to be done for the season, which is bad. Tony Romo just left the game clutching his left (not-throwing) shoulder after a sack and fumble, which may be even worse.

Scott Kacsmar: Curse of 370 is off to a good start, but this is really nothing more than piss-poor blocking by the Eagles. There's a guy on Murray in the backfield as soon as he gets the ball. The Eagles had issues last year up front, but we just passed it off to injuries and suspensions. What's going on with this group?

Vince Verhei: Murray got another carry. He lost 5 yards again. He's got to be threatening some kind of terrible record.

Still, the Eagles are driving for what might be a critical score, mainly thanks to more Dallas penalties, but then Sean Lee intercepts Sam Bradford in the end zone. And now it's Brandon Weeden time!

I'm telling you, Tennessee-Cleveland was a much better-played game than this.

Aaron Schatz: I feel like Joseph Randle is making most of the Cowboys' rushing yards himself with broken tackles. But at least he's getting enough blocking to get to the line of scrimmage before he meets defenders. Unlike DeMarco Murray. Oh, and Ryan Mathews has ONE carry with 20 minutes left. So, good thing the Eagles paid for two starting running backs.

Sterling Xie: Dan Bailey with an unsportsmanlike conduct while trying to say hi to DeMarco on the sideline? That's gotta count for like -100 Loser League points, right?

Vince Verhei: Third quarter ends on a perfect note. Eagles are getting something with Murray as a receiver in the flats. He hurdles Brandon Carr (an amazing play) and runs out of bounds, where he gets tangled with Dan Bailey. As Murray tries to run back to the field, Bailey grabs his arm and won't let go. This results in, yes, a 15-yard penalty due to UNNECESSARY ROUGHNESS ON THE KICKER. Looked like he might have just been messing around with an ex-teammate and not doing anything malicious, but dude, that's not the time or place.

Byron Maxwell forces a Gavin Escobar fumble and the Eagles recover to give Philadelphia life. Very next snap, Eagles snap it before Bradford is ready, as guys are in motion all over the place, and the Cowboys get the ball right back -- and promptly get called for holding on their first play.

With a third-and-long up 10 points with less than five minutes to go, Brandon Weeden hits Terrance Williams for a 42-yard touchdown. Just a slant-and-go route against Byron Maxwell, who put forth one of the most half-assed efforts you'll ever see from a cornerback in an NFL game. He could not have given any less of a damn there. Probably wouldn't have mattered anyway, but that was appalling.

Seattle Seahawks 17 at Green Bay Packers 27

Aaron Schatz: Biggest difference in the first half of this game is that the Packers offensive line is good, and the Seahawks offensive line is not. It seems like the best Seattle offensive plays are bootlegs and other things that will get Russell Wilson away from worrying about the blocking. Marshawn Lynch has six carries for 3 yards through 20 minutes because how many tackles can you expect the guy to break, a million?

Tom Gower: Packers run defense got gashed last week. The Bears' line did a good job of letting Matt Forte attack the second- and third-level defenders of Green Bay, who didn't tackle well. Green Bay's defensive front has done a much better job and is making life much more difficult for Seattle than it was for Chicago last week, and we haven't seen the same missed tackles outside of, oh, Morgan Burnett, who didn't play last week, not bringing Lynch down on the reception.

Aaron Schatz: You know, it's not just Seattle. It feels like offensive line play is struggling around the NFL this year -- Dallas-Philadelphia being the most horrible example -- and there have been so many penalties. Those two trends have combined to make a lot of this year's games just feel like a slog to watch.

Vince Verhei: Seattle traded a Pro Bowl center for a Pro Bowl tight end. As a result, the line can't block anyone, the tight end has one target (and no catches) in the first half, and they've got nothing left except "chuck a deep ball and pray."

Richard Sherman is also giving up a ton more plays this year than he has before, but that's a separate issue entirely.

Aaron Schatz: The first touchdown was really a Cover-3 beater, right in between Sherman's area and what should be Earl Thomas' area. Hard to blame Sherman for that. But that's definitely not the only time. He had the penalties on consecutive plays, too.

Scott Kacsmar: Seahawks have had a lead in all 57 games in the Wilson era. Tough task tonight with the way this one is going. Their best offense may be Wilson going sandlot ball with Graham, Baldwin, Kearse and Lockett on the field.

Aaron Schatz:

Seattle pass protection has been much better since halftime, and it's enough for the Seahawks to march 54 yards on four passes and a Russell Wilson keeper, to take a 17-13 lead.

Vince Verhei: Wilson to Doug Baldwin puts Seattle ahead. Scott, I think you're onto something with that whole sandlot idea. Let your $20 million quarterback free!

Scott Kacsmar: I left Lynch out of the list of players to put on the field, but that was only to imply he was the fifth skill guy. I'm surprised how much of this quarter's success has come with Lynch on the sideline.

Aaron Schatz: At least the Seahawks seem to have finally remembered that hey, the Packers defense has a history of struggling against the read option.

Tom Gower: Yes, I was thinking this felt like the playoff game against San Francisco from a couple years ago. Julius Peppers has seemed to be a particular culprit lately, or at least I've just noticed him on the edge as Wilson runs successfully a couple times. Bad exchange by Seattle creates a fumble as it's 17-16, but Mike Pennel lined up on the wrong side to negate the call. Bad time for that mistake.

Aaron Schatz: Seahawks get super frustrated after Russell Wilson throws an interception on an attempted screen pass, great job of awareness by defensive lineman Jay Elliott on that. A couple plays later, things are getting super chippy between the Packers and Seahawks, and K.J. Wright gets himself ejected for ripping Richard Rodgers' helmet off by the facemask. Reminds me a bit of how angry the Seahawks were after the Immaculate Interception in the Super Bowl. They need to teach their players not to let their adrenaline overcome their common sense.

Comments

278 comments, Last at 24 Sep 2015, 10:42am

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

DOn't really get the Ryan Mallet comment, it was an extremely stupid decision because the Texans had one time out left. So he cost them 10 yards (maybe 6 yards), and could have easily thrown an int on the play.

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Just as teams adjusted on how they value running backs did someone over the last year or two determine that offensive linemen really do not matter and that idea caught on within front offices?

I write the above with complete seriousness. Because it sure SEEMS like this is the case among multiple teams.

This is a case where a 'new' idea is really bad and should have been recognized as such

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I don't know that they're undervaluing OL - Dallas' success last year was credited primarily to their revitalized line, and New England's been famous for it for over a decade.

I'm speculating without doing any actual research, but I suspect it's more a combination of:

1. Cap management has definitely caught on with GMS, and teams are more worried about overspending than ever before.
2. The belief that OL play is inherently more coachable than other positions
3. Overestimating talent evaluation on the OL relative to other positions, buoyed by a number of mid-to-late round OL picks that have panned out.
4. The mainstreaming of read-option offenses has led to team believing they can get by investing less money in the OL.

I actually don't think any of those is wrong, but the combination of all three simultaneously has led to some bad decisions.

52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Nate Solder was a number 1 pick. But yes, the rest of the line has guys with minimal NFL pedigrees save for Vollmer who has been with New England for some time

No idea if this a case of teams copying another organization.

70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The Patriots got away with those rookies and free agents, while Dante Scarnecchia and Dave DeGuglielmo were coaching their line.

Scarnecchia in particular, is a legend among line coaches.

Edit: DeGuglielmo is still there, so the Patriots can keep plugging who-dats and castoffs in among their higher draft picks to maintain the Great Wall of Foxborough. :)

66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Keep in mind, though, that number of draftees is set against their general o-line excellence - they haven't been desperate to replace anybody, so unlike a team with a perpetually awful o-line, they haven't theoretically NEEDED to draft as many players. So they've been drafting without need, which is a good way to bolster depth and take risks on rookies who have proven themselves - they're not stuck with career back-ups in starting roles, unless they earned it.

72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Green Bay typically picks up an offensive lineman via the draft or undrafted free agency every season. It's a rare season where GB doesn't have some undrafted free agent of some kind (lineman or otherwise) make the team. Ted Thompson is the Branch Rickey of football. Once a guy hits 30 better have a replacement ready

Only the stars get to hand around.

104 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The Patriots have drafted a lot of O-linemen over the years, but that's really not the secret. A lot of those picks have been whiffs. They have connected on some top picks: Light, Mankins, Vollmer, Solder, maybe Stork and Koppen, and gotten some good value out of others: Kaczur, Cannon. But the key is the endless rotation of cast-offs and UFAs that they pick up and train on their practice squad etc. The first NE Super Bowl team featured Joe Andruzzi, an UFA from GB, Mike Compton, who the Lions basically retired by letting him go at age 30 in 2000, and Stephen Neal, a college wrestler who had played no football at all before becoming an UFA. They churn through these guys with a mixture of tight talent evaluation and stern coaching, and they always seem to have someone ready to step up.

There was a game against Miami somewhere around 2010 when the Pats were missing LT Matt Light (game-time scratch), started with OG Mankins at LT, had him injured, and had to completely reset the line. The coaches responded by sending the offense onto the field for an entire series to do nothing but run 6-7 times, almost as a way of calibrating the new line, and then business resumed as normal and they steamrolled their way to a win.

124 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Interesting.

I wonder about that strange end-point, though. Why fourth round rather than third? Is it a sign that Will is cherry-picking?

Let's look at how many of those 14 picks were in the fourth round....

Seven. Well, what do you know?. He is cherry-picking. Quelle surprise.

And really? "The Hobo?"

That's "Darth Hoodie" to the likes of you.

144 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

If there is any team others are trying to emulate by devesting in the o-line it's Seattle after going to back to back Super Bowls with line play that varied from dumpster fire to passable.
_______

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Regarding Favre's days in Atlanta Favre has spoken pretty openly on how he was drinking heavily on a daily basis and pretty much acting like an idiot.

Jerry Glanville takes a lot of grief for pushing the Favre trade but he had some amount of justification.

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

It has been remarkable seeing that he has not been yanked in either game. Ridley did this once, I believe, where the Patriots continued to play him and tried to coach him up. When he continued to fumble, then he got the ax.

67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Kevin Faulk fumbled a fair bit (previous #33 on the Pats and the archetype for all Pats 3rd-down backs) and was allowed time to fix it.

It depends on what else you can do. Faulk was a good receiver and great at blitz pickup.

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Few comments on some of the games:

NE @ BUF: Awesome game by Brady, but even better game by the line in pass protection. Maybe Ryan just assumed the front-4 would get pressure, but surprised to see him not blitz. That Patriots defense has its issues, but if the offense can pass block that well it won't matter.

SF @ PIT: I know Rodgers is great, but Roethlisberger is right up there. For people, including me, who thought he had hit the back-9 given his '12-'13 seasons, what he has become is just amazing.

DAL @ PHI: Yes, the o-line is terrible, but I think Kelly has to make his offense a little more complex. The pass routes are all so simple and repeated that Dallas just seemed to know all of them. That offense needs to adapt or die.

CHI @ ARZ: The Cardinals really know how to win against bad teams; they are so well coached and explosive. If Palmer stays healthy, they are a threat this year and I would like to see that defense take on GB in a playoff game.

SEA @ GB: The problem with teh Seahawks is not Chancellor's holdout - at least in this game. It is an offense that has no o-line, that refuses to use Jimmy Graham, and that is just not good enough right now. The defense is fine; I've never seen Rodgers hold the ball that long on so many plays like that. The last time I remember that was the '11 playoff game where teh Giants played incredible on defense.

16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"Yes, the o-line is terrible, but I think Kelly has to make his offense a little more complex. The pass routes are all so simple and repeated that Dallas just seemed to know all of them. That offense needs to adapt or die."

Well, the WRs look like utter garbage, too. They never seem to be on the same page as Bradford, and I swear to God, Jordan Matthews couldn't catch a pass that was handed to him.

So the poor passing game could easily be coming from the poor play of the WRs.

21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

You're being very about Sam Bardford, too nice - he's the same player he's been his entire career: no deep ball (he doesn't even attempt it - he's 0-for-3 on passes of 20 yards or more this season), easily rattled by the rush, accurate on the short stuff (again when not rattled) and mistake-prone (I'd say he has an exceptionally low football IQ, but so much of that is taken away from the QB by Kelly it's tough to judge him again someone like Romo or Eli.)

He's not suddenly going to become a guy who stands in the pocket and delivers strikes 25 yards down the field. Kelly's offense is great at racking up junk yards, so he'll probably get to 4,000 yards if he stays healthy... but that's the other thing we know to be true about him: he can't stay healthy...

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Are you able to take any solace in everything you said during the off-season being proven right? Although the Eagles offense and Byron Maxwell look like a dumpster fire I'm at least enjoying being proven right after having I don't know how many arguments with "you just gotta believe in Chip" fans.

39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

No, there's no solace. This off-season has done screwy things to my fandom - I'm in a boat rooting for unlikable shitheels like Kelly, Cooper, Maxwell and the whiny Sam Bradford (who seemed thrilled with his stats after the Atlanta loss) and all of the players and coaches I've spent years cheering my lungs out for are now in other jerseys. I don't know what to do.

Their so schedule is so, so weak (before they face NE in December, they don't play a truly good team - one of Miami, the Jets or Panthers is the toughest game on their slate) and the NFC East is so, so bad that I can see them making a playoff run. But them making the playoffs at 9-7, Bradford getting a new contract and Kelly getting another off-season to muck around will set this team back a half a decade. I just don't know what to do anymore.

And Maxwell is such a smirking cob-nobbler. I just hate these guys - what I am rooting for Lane Johnson and Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez and Andrew Gardener for? Who is it that I'm supposed to like on this team? Mr. Drop (aka Jordan Matthews) might be their best player on offense, if Peters is as hobbled as he appears to be. That's pathetic. Matthews is the kind of player that used to get run out of town, he's James Trash in an offense that generates more junk yards.

There's no solace in any of this.

116 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

It's so weird - for about 15 years under Reid, the Eagles were always in the mix - even their down years were an 8-8 season where with a few small breaks they could've made the playoffs or the crazy post-Superbowl meltdown season. Reid is nothing if not competent as a man running a football team. And guys like McNabb and Reid never got respected, I wanted them to win to get the respect they deserved and rooting for Westbrook and DJax and McCoy and all those crazy CB's was always a lot of fun, they were always such a likable team: Maclin, Foles, Celek, Tra Thomas, the axman, Stewart Bradley, there were so many lovable players throughout the years - plus, I wanted a ring for Dawkins, the only homegrown HOF player the Eagles have had in my adult life. That stuff drove my fandom.

Now, I just don't even know what to do about rooting. For who? For what? And Kelly is such a prick. The sarcastic answers he gives to reporters about who is starting the preseason games, the way he bristles at any suggestion that what he's doing is suboptimal, the clowns he's brought in to replace the players I loved. I'm supposed to applaud a grown man named "Chip" being a jerk to reporters because HE thought it would be a good idea to replace DeSean Jackson with Josh Huff and trade for Sam Bradford? I juts don't understand how to be a fan of a mismanaged, unlikable team. It's been so long...

131 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Two things: 1) a single bad game wouldn't put a damper on a 16 year resume, even if the game weren't a close loss to one of the best teams in the league. 2) Reid didn't fumble three times or throw two bone-headed picks. Just about the only thing Reid could be criticized for on Thursday was running a pointless draw play.

It's amazing to me that people can ignore how the majority of a coach's job is done on the other six days of the week and during the other 7 months of the year when there are no games. It's not a coincidence that Reid has had three losing seasons in 16 years as a head coach - he's 13th ALL TIME on playoff wins for a coach (more playoff wins than incompetent jerks like Dungy, Bill Walsh, Jimmy Johnson and Dick Vermeil.) Unless you root for New England or Green Bay, Reid is a better and more successful coach than your team has by any objective measure but rings.

That, at very least, constitutes competency.

100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Yeah, but I'm not super-positive that a deep ball is totally necessary to be a successful QB. I mean, obviously you *want* it, but Reid's doing fine with Smith at Kansas City.

But I am positive that WRs that catch (and run the right routes) are necessary to be successful. I do not understand, at all, why there's no criticism being directed towards Matthews, Agholor, and Riley Cooper. I don't get it. There are articles that say he had a "big game" versus the Falcons. Seriously - a 'big game', when his final damn drop caused the interception that ended the game. I don't get it.

Really, though, the thing is - I was never super high on Foles either. I'm not super high on Bradford. But I don't think either of them are bad enough to kill a season. I'm really starting to think these WRs *are*.

110 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Really, you think Reid has had enough success with the passing game in KC to say "nah, we're all good" there? The sooner they move on from Alex Smith, the quicker they'll be a real competitor and not a Texans/Bengals-esque also ran.

The Foles/Bradford thing is water under bridge - at times, I was super high on Foles, other times more inclined to think playing with DJax/Maclin/Peters/Mathis/Kecle/Celek/Herremans/McCoy would make a lot of QB's look pretty good. But what IS true about Foles that is NOT true about Bradford, is that we don't know what Foles really is as a QB. He looks like a Flacco/Eli type, in that sort of talent-range and downside, but it's far from clear. There's no confusion about what Bradford is. We've seen it for five years in St. Louis and two games in Philly. He's not good enough to play in the NFL. He can rack up junk stats under Kelly and convince some folks he's improved (a la Mark Sanchez last year) but there's no reason to think he can ever do what Foles did in 2013 or anywhere close.

You can at least imagine Foles approximating those numbers because he did - and the book is far from closed on him. A sensible move would've been to allow Foles to play out the final cheap year of his rookie contract and settle the issue once and for all. Then, after the 2015 season when Bradford was FA who could be had for peanuts and not require giving up a 2nd rounder, moving on from Foles for Bradford would've made fine sense.

Anyhoo, Bradford stinks. I'll grant you that the wr's are worse, but he's certainly not going to maximize their limited potential.

115 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Really, you think Reid has had enough success with the passing game in KC to say "nah, we're all good" there? The sooner they move on from Alex Smith, the quicker they'll be a real competitor and not a Texans/Bengals-esque also ran.

Yes, I do. The problem with QB is that Smith is well above replacement for a QB. They're not going to be able to find a QB significantly better than him easily - and worse, evaluating a QB pretty much flat out requires being crap for a while unless you get stupidly lucky.

He's not good enough to play in the NFL. He can rack up junk stats under Kelly and convince some folks he's improved (a la Mark Sanchez last year) but there's no reason to think he can ever do what Foles did in 2013 or anywhere close.

I think Bradford is pretty darn close to Alex Smith, actually, although he seriously needs to improve his risk taking, which I thought Kelly would be able to manage with.

Anyhoo, Bradford stinks. I'll grant you that the wr's are worse

Yeah, that's all I meant. To me the WRs are what's killing the passing game more than Bradford, and I don't even understand how that's debatable. I honestly think if they still had Maclin there's a really damn good chance they're 2-0 right now.

Don't get me wrong, they'd still be a mediocre team, but damnit, a mediocre team might win the NFC East right now.

125 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I just think you're under-estimating how much Bradford's inability to stretch the field is hurting an offense predicated about stretching a defense to exploit one-on-one match-ups. And also his total skittishness in the pocket - there were a half dozen passes yesterday he botched because he heard footsteps. There was one he rifled into the ground because of a ghost - his whole body seized up and he drilled the ball four yards from the feet of a wide open wr (I think it was Ertz? Who also stinks!) and he didn't even get touched on the play. That's the kind of thing that makes you not NFL-caliber - the great like Brady, Manning and Rodgers are defined by their relationship to the pass rush. Non-viable QB's have Bradford's relationship to it - panic and fire interceptions, like he did in the redzone yesterday and from his own 20 last week.

But yeah, I'm amazing by how horrible every Kelly wr (and especially Ertz) is at route-running. I know Kelly doesn't us a route-tree (which is some prehistoric, pre-Walsh nonsense) but in general, none of them seem to know where they're supposed to be looking on any given play. That's what makes Matthews so pointless - he has no sense of the ball in the air, so unless you hit him on a crossing route where he can watch the QB throwing it to him and track it in the air throughout the entire process, he'll never catch anything. He can't even do comeback routes.

I worry for Algohor who is exactly the kind of natural receiver that Matthews isn't and that Kelly's lack of ability to develop players is going to ruin him. He looked lost yesterday, but at least knows how to run a route (like how he should be manipulating a CB on a deep out or comeback) and can catch the balls that hit him in the hands. I mean, Ertz can't block or run a route. You just feed him a mass of throws and when he's wiiiiide open he'll catch about half of them.

Huff and Cooper both just shouldn't even be on an NFL roster. I don't think the Rams, Ravens or Panthers would take them even.

(As for Reid in KC, that's an ENTIRELY different conversation!)

113 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Bradford has been horrendous and it seems to have flown under the radar in the media. Maybe Atlanta and Dallas took everything downfield away, but the Eagles offense so far appears to be Bradford either checking down to a running back or throwing a screen to Sproles. It's not fun to watch.

What is clear is that the Eagles have less talent on offense. It appears Chip's hubris might have gotten the best of him. I think it was Robert Mays of the Grantland podcast who made the point that Chip wants to be Belichick-like, but Belichick would never rid himself of the talented guys that Chip has run out of town. And Belichick also would find a way to work with the guys that might not fit perfectly into what he wants to do; Kelly sees these guys as expendable. If the Eagles are 0-4, which is possible considering how poor they've played thus far, how does this end?

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The Chargers offensive line was a train wreck most of the day, but that last interception that ended the game was completely on Rivers. He forced and there was no need to force.

Given how many things went right for the Bengals yesterday coupled with playing at home it's kind of shocking they could have lost the game on that last drive.

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Dallas had a franchise record in penalties and still won handily. Unreal. Having your high priced FA CB acquisition get torched by the immortal Weeden-to-Williams connection probably should be expected, though - those guys are considered among the best in the league for a reason!

If Dawkins was Weapon X, then Maxwell is The Human, Torched.

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Regarding Trufant not shadowing ODB, I would like to see the All-22 before making a judgement on Quinn's gameplan here, but typically, what "fixed" CBs accomplish they force the Offense into plays it doesn't necessarily play well.

In this case Trufant/Quinn eliminated basically one half of Giants' playbook: The half where ODB lines up on the strong side, i.e. Eli's better side ... and also ODB's better side. Last season he had 25 targets outside the numbers left against 56 targets right. So one could argue it was more than half of the playbook, going on 2/3 probably.

So, ODB was good enough to carry a third a playbook to 20 points, but as seen in the second half, this is still a flawed way to play Offense. In that sense, I think Quinn's decision, while allowing for an individual big day, actually did work out fine regarding the effect it had on the whole unit in terms of rendering the strong side useless. And the Preston Parkers of the world are not built to pick up that playbook deficit.

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Mia-Jags-This game reminds me of the last really good Dolphins team to blow a season. Wannstedt led a flat performance against a terrible Titan team in week one. That Dolphins team rallied later in the season, but missed the playoffs due to tie-breakers. You can't lose games like this. We're deep into typical Miami seasonal arc part one. Part one: horribly underplaying talent, Part two: out of nowhere midseason turn around, Part three: spirit crushing late season collapse. Miami lost Alberts, Wake, and Miller in this one. Who knows how long they will be out. Joe Philbin won't be around next year. I'm tapping out guys. It's only week two, but I can see the writing on the wall. The Dolphins won't be in the playoffs again. Why bother watching the next fifteen weeks to know what we know now.

89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

For all the games the Pats have had against Miami, I remained undecided on Philbin until watching the Miami-Baltimore game last year. That game was a transcendent example of what happens when a team with superior talent meets a team with a superior coach. Philbin was so outmatched, it was cover-your-eyes quality. I was amazed after that game that the guy kept his job...

111 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

It's sort of amazing to not register a sack against the Jags. Football outsiders pegged the linebackers as a real weakness Miami refuses to address, but who'd have guessed the D-line would be so woefully bad? Right now it is sort of like the Rams last year. Their D-Line took half a season to play as people expected. I fully expect Miami to got "hot" come week 5 and stay hot until that season crushing ending 5 game stretch. None of that matters because this loss to the Jags will kill any tie-breaker chance. It's looking more and more like another Brady-Manning-Ben-Luck show in the AFC. That's great for those teams. Its kind of a yawner by now for everyone else.

247 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I've heard a lot about the coaching, especially DC Coyle, and I'm not saying these guys are world beaters, but what is the coaching to do with not getting pressure with your front four? These guys were all supposed to be able to win their one-on-one matchups and they simply can't. What can a coach do as far as that goes.

So the defense has been horrible, the running game has been horrible, and the pass blocking has been pretty bad. The one nice thing Philbin's teams always had was discipline, but the discipline was hideous. Other than that things are great. No, really, nice bounce-back game by Tannehill. At least there's that.

------
Who, me?

248 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

When Rod Marinelli came to Chicago all of a sudden the d-line started getting better pressure. Coaches teach technique, they scout opponents to tell their players weaknesses, they come up with rush schemes, they decide when and how to blitz, etc, etc, etc.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I really don't know at this point how much of the Vikings fiasco in San Francisco, especially on defense, was a result of what was effectively a 9:15 PM start time for them. I'm pretty sure the ball security and pass pro problems Peterson is having is in good measure a result of hardly having any real contact since December 2013. It looks to me that he is still going to be close to the best at rushing the ball, assuming he doesn't keep fumbling like he did his first couple of years in the league. I still think they are going to be terrible at pass protection, especially on the road, which means they'll be happy to keep Bridegewater in the neighborhood of 20 attempts per game. I don't think Peterson has any cash guaranteed next year until the third day of the 2016 season, so if they don't fall behind early in a lot of games, I suspect 28 will get past 350 carries without too much difficulty.

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

AP had for me what was a signature play yesterday, where Bridgewater got badly pressured, flipped the ball to him, and he ran off for 30+ yards or whatever. It seemed perfectly emblematic, because Bridgewater was pressured because AP completely whiffed on his block, and then managed to use his freakish ability to get a huge gain.

Great at running, sucks at protection. Seemed very AP to me.

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

He really has reverted back to his pass blocking from his first 3 or 4 years in the league. He's never been good, or probably even average, but for a few years he could provide a semblance of mediocrity. Now, he's back to just having complete whiffs, and his ball security is back to where it was when he was a young player. Like I said, it may be in good measure due to not really having two games in two weeks since December 2013, and the fact he doesn't see any hard contact in practice, nor does he play in preseason. He has about 6 or 7 child support payments to make, and now a wife wth expectations, so he may want to work on that, since he isn't guaranteed much cash after this season.

13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"The downfall of the Miami Dolphins is going to be their coaching staff. "

This. The refusal to run the ball is bad, but probably stems from the fact the coaching staff have utterly failed to produce competent guard play. A less mobile QB than Tannehill is probably in the hospital bed across from Dion Sims.
Coaching has also failed to produce competence in the secondary, and somehow, the best 4-3 tackle in the league is anonymous. Given how he's managed to obliterate Ndamukong Suh as a problem for opposing offense, Kevin Coyle should be acclaimed as an offensive genius.

I'd really like to see Tannehill behind an NFL quality line, as I suspect he'd be really good. That said, on the 3rd & 1 and 4th&1 incompletions that ended the game, Jarvis Landry was WIDE open on the sideline by the 1st down marker and with room to run. He'd have picked up the 1st down both times, and likely 10yds and got OB with minimal time used. Tannehill has to see that and take it.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Fair, but Miami's line made Jared Odrick look like JJ Watt. Odrick's a decent 3-4 end, but Miami couldn't block him after Albert went out. It was so bad that the CBS crew (who were beyond terrible), were praising Jason Fox for falling on the ball after a sack/fumble. The fact that Fox was whipped by Odrick, who got the sack in the first place went strangley unmentioned.
John Fox would have been better at LT for Miami yesterday; possibly even Michael J Fox

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

It was so bad that the CBS crew (who were beyond terrible), were praising Jason Fox for falling on the ball after a sack/fumble.

While that CBS crew was indeed as terrible as Jason Fox's blocking, they were praising Fox for dragging the ball out of the end zone, as opposed to simply falling on it for the go-ahead safety.

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Yeah, that was my big take-away from the first two Bears games: John Fox is competent and the Bears roster (especially on defense) is pretty awful. I'm not even an Alshon believer, so there's almost nothing there to hang your hat on for the future...

26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Other than injuries I don't see how you can't like Alshon.

Other than that, the offensive line is playing ok despite a lot of moving parts. Long might turn into a franchise right tackle, the running game is working quite well.

Kyle Fuller is sticking close enough to receivers to either tackle them when they catch it or commit DPI, so there is a possibility he is able to improve enough to start breaking the passes up.

29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

He's ok - he's just not Megatron or Larry Fitzgerald, the kind of player you can build a team around (which I don't know that you think he is, but certainly I know Bears fans who think he's on that level.) He's the kind of asset they should be looking to trade in order to build up their o-line and d-line, which are both the pits. (Whereas Megatron in his prime is the kind of player you should never get rid of.)

34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

No, I don't think Alshon is a franchise defining player. I do think he's useful and somewhere between probowl and all-pro level (when healthy, which he hasn't been in over a year now, which is worrisome).

I don't have a problem with either line right now (other than all the injuries on the offensive line).

They need linebackers and secondary players much more.

As for trading Alshon to bolster some other part of the team, it just seems like that kind of thing doesn't happen in the NFL. When teams do try to do it, it seems like it doesn't work out. My team building strategy is collect draft picks, hold assets unless someone makes an offer you can't refuse (say if Chip Kelly had offered Maclin and a 2nd round pick for Alshon last year, I would have taken in), and try to fill specific holes in free agency.

41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

RReally? I saw them getting man-handled at the line by Arizona - if they had 15 minutes to get to Palmer, they still wouldn't have gotten a sack. And their o-line just had no push, they couldn't get tough yards when they needed it (but that's also a bit of Forte, who was never a great runner, being closer to washed up than not.) I'll take your word for it that it's injuries (and some part Cutler/Clausen carelessness issues) but there's not a single Pro bowler on either line and very few guys who would make the cut on a decent team.

Anyhoo, there's a lot to like about what Fox is doing and everybody just looks like they have their shit together BUT Cutler and Clausen.

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"there's not a single Pro bowler"

Kyle Long literally just made all-pro last year. Of course he's an all-pro guard being asked to play tackle one handed. Forte is coming off being #2 in rushing YAR in week 1. The offensive line was doing ok opening up rushing lanes until Cutler got hurt. I mean what defense would take Clausen's passing seriously?

As for the defense, the Bears are a 3-4 now, pass rush should come from the linebackers more than the d-line. I suppose that's splitting hairs a big, so I'll backtrack the statement that the d-line is ok. They do need a pass rush upgrade.

However, given how easily you want to trade Alshon for a premier pass rusher, what NFL gm would willing be on the other end of that trade?

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Oh, I think he try to Alshon for a premiere interior lineman on either side of the ball and some late-round pick - I'm not expert on what the Bears need, though, so I'll defer to you. The market for LB's and secondary has been fairly thin for a couple years, I think you can get more return on investment if you go for a premiere interior lineman...

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I'm not a fan of investing in good interior defensive lineman. As good as Watt or Suh are, their teams don't have an awful lot of success. You have to stop the pass and be able to pass, and the Bears can't do the first and can't do the latter without Cutler.

69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Blaming Watt and Suh for the bad offenses and terrible coaches under which they've toiled seems pretty backwards. If anything, Watt and Suh have demonstrated how a single great d-lineman can cover for a secondary rife with mediocrity.

81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Ok, taking a shot at Watt was probably uncalled for, but also the Bears won't be getting a player that good for Alshon, probably not even Suh good. Let's look at the Lion's pass defense while Suh was there though.

2010: 20th
2011: 4th
2012: 21st
2013: 20th
2014: 8th

Now compare to say Kuechly (est cap hit ~12m per year compared to Suh's ~20m)
2012: 12th
2013: 3rd
2014: 9th

84 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

That's fair - and no one player is going to fix the Bears entire defense. I just think Alshon is overvalued, so if they go after a player at an undervalued position with him in a trade (interior line, maybe safety) they can really maximize one of their few assets. I truthfully don't know who else they're building that team around - it ain't Forte and Cutler, that's for sure.

87 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I don't know that you need to build a team around specific players. Just collect good players, try to get them on good contracts, take trade offers when they're clearly beneficial.

Yeah, this teams could really use some superstars, but I don't think you get superstars in trades. You get them by being very lucky in free agency and the draft. So it's not glamorous or what people want to hear, but just go slow and steady and hope you hit gold in the draft.

91 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I think it's better to say that you don't build around superstars except at QB. If you've got a franchise QB, then you can build around him (note that this can mean a number of different things depending on his strengths). Non-QB superstars are added according to a team's needs to put them over the edge.

If you don't have a franchise QB, you build depth and talent across the entire roster until you can acquire one.

103 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Well, what I mean is, they can UPGRADE at nearly every position on their roster. That's all I mean by "build around" - for example, the Eagles could build around Kelce, Jenkins/Thurmond, their LB's, RB's and d-line this off-season and look to upgrade aggressively at T, G, WR or CB depending on how they felt about the FA class and draft choices. On the Bears, I think they should be looking at getting a better player or thinking longterm at literally almost every position but two or three. There's no part of that team where they should be saying "we're good here."

And since no individual unit (o-line, RB's, WR's, QB, secondary) is particularly strong, it's tough for me to think about their next move. If they had a good o-line for running-blocking, you might say "well, go younger at RB, take a flyer on a high upside scatback in a late round and bring in a difference maker at the position since Forte is old and limited to begin with." If they were set at FS and CB#1, you might say "now just get another impact piece there."

But the whole roster is weak, so I'm not sure what the next move is. And when that's the case, you build a team from the lines out.

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

There is no better way to disrupt the passing attack than collapsing the pocket. See 2007 Giants in the playoffs. If Stafford played at a level consistent with his salary, the Lions with Suh would have been very successful.

80 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I think if their offense just hadn't struggled with injuries across the board and their special teams hadn't been a disaster, then the Suh Lions would have been looked at entirely differently.

But the Stafford and Megatron contracts are a good argument for exactly why you don't tie your cap space up in a few players at the expense of depth...

174 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"There is no better way to disrupt the passing attack than collapsing the pocket."

I know you specifically mentioned collapsing the pocket as opposed to, say, speed rushes from the outside...

But I feel like the effect of pass rush on pass defense stats/quality is highly under-appreciated by most people. I think a lot of folks think "good pass defense = good secondary".

But I think there was a study on here last year (or maybe this off-season?) showing that nearly every QB can be all-pro calibre if you don't get any pressure on them. Sure, there was a difference between the best and worst secondaries on plays with no pressure - but every NFL QB will pick every secondary apart given enough time.

18 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The Lions are in deep trouble if 10 catches in 17 targets, for 83 yards, is now a typical Megatron day. Xavier Rhodes is a well above average NFL corner (man, is that strange looking thing to write about a Viking), so it may not be indicative of much, but Stafford is now 27, in his 7th year, and using more than 10% of his team's cap space. He needs to pull his load.

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I thought Seattle played a good defensive game on the road last night, that could have been great if Bennett had stopped jumping offside. I didn't understand the Unger trade, from the perspective that a non-blocking tight end goes against how Seattle tries to win games, but then again, maybe Unger has stunk as bad as his replacement, so the Seahawks may not have given up much. Anybody watch Unger enough this year to have an opinion?

27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I think but cannot prove it that Seattle management chose to rely on their qb's mobility to compensate for blocking deficiencies. I presume it must be cap management that is causing Seattle to 'go cheap' on its offensive line.

58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I think the Unger trade was more about his frequent injuries. Might as well try to have someone you can expect to play for more than 8 games.

I was extremely annoyed on the Wright ejection play that Richard Rodgers was not also ejected. If you watch the replay, the camera angle from behind back judge #105 shows Rodgers clearly THROW A PUNCH at Wright which causes the BJ to throw his flag. Then when it's all sorted out, not only is Rodgers not ejected he wasn't even called out for a penalty. WTF?

83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I get that view.

There were scuffles all night. No way to prove it but it sure SEEMED like Seattle was working hard to bait GB players into an altercation and then point the finger should someone lose their cool and retaliate

At minimum it's clear these teams legitimately don't like one another. Rodgers continued shots at Wilson's remarks about God/football are the easiest examples. Number 12 typically isn't this overt in his sarcasm.

86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

It was surprising - the Seahawks are punks who like to jaw, but they're not normally guys who take cheapshots or get chippy. It was strange to see them getting into so much after the whistle stuff yesterday and I totally agree they were the instigators. But the rules are written that if you respond to instigation, tough nuts. The rules are the rules and the refs should enforce them as best they can...

88 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I love that in a league, where the most important players fraternize like New Age men in a drum circle love-fest, one qb was engaging in open ridicule of the opposition's qb, in post game glow of victory remarks. Hopefully, by sesaon's end, Flacco will be calling Roethlisberger a fat drunk, and Rivers will be saying Peyton's head looks like an alien's.

96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

From his limited discussions of his faith, it seems genuinely important to Rodgers. I think he sees Wilson as someone who uses his faith as a vehicle to market himself, and Rodgers finds this offensive to his own religious sensibilities.

Combine that with elite-athlete competitiveness, and the digs start flying.

108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The Packers' website put up a hype video for the game full of dramatic music and violent in-game collisions and graphics talking about "REVENGE" and stuff like that. And then interspersed were interview clips from Green Bay players doing everything they could to trivialize the game ("just another opponent," "they're a different team, we're a different team," "it's a long season," etc.) It was hysterically counter-productive.

109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I'm pretty sure Wright was also called for a personal foul. Three players were flagged on that play.

Wright grabbed the player's face mask and twisted it around, apparently trying to remove his helmet. It was a very dangerous action that could have hurt the player's neck. Hence the ejection.

Just checked NFL rulebook. Throwing a punch is not an automatic ejection. It is an automatic penalty, regardless of whether contact is made or not.

The penalty is:


Penalty: For unsportsmanlike conduct (i) through (u): Loss of 15 yards from:
(a) the succeeding spot if the ball is dead.
(b) the previous spot if the ball was in play.
If the infraction is flagrant, the player is also disqualified. If the foul is by the defense, it is also an automatic first
down.

There was a case a few years ago where Charles Woodson threw a punch without getting ejected. Many people complained, but the officials were correct.

165 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

According to the game book:

"1-10-SEA 37 (6:50) (Shotgun) J.Starks right tackle to SEA 29 for 8 yards (M.Burley).
Penalty on SEA-M.Bennett, Unnecessary Roughness, offsetting.
Penalty on GB-T.Lang, Unnecessary Roughness, offsetting.
Penalty on SEA-K.Wright, Disqualification, offsetting."

There was a whole lot going on after that play...I remember Wright and Richard Rodgers getting into the scuffle with the helmet pulling stuff so I'm not exactly sure what the deal was with Bennett and Lang so that may have came first before the altercation between Rodgers/Wright. Wright deserved the DQ and it looked like to me that Rodgers should've been penalized as well for throwing his hand up in the faceshield of Wright but it wouldn't have made a difference due to the offsetting penalties wiping out the after the whistle stuff regardless. The only real question is whether or not Rodgers should have been ejected and based on the rule it appears that an ejection was not required.

168 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

From the NFL's points of emphasis this year:

Fighting is unacceptable and the league policy on fighting is clear and states the following: “Don’t fight, and if a fight breaks out involving other players, stay away.” Any active participant in a fight will be penalized. Flagrant conduct will result in ejections and any player that does not immediately leave the fight area will be subject to a fine.

http://operations.nfl.com/the-rules/new-rules-for-the-2015-16-season/

So, I ask again, why wasn't Rodgers penalized?

199 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The simplest explanation is the he there was a ton of stuff going on, the official intended to announce a penalty on Rodgers, and he simply forgot to announce it.

It made no difference to the ultimate outcome (replay the down, Seattle player ejected), so why the obsession?

25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

So I complained a lot about Cutler's contract this offseason by focusing on his level of play. I forgot to mention he's always getting hurt too.

Without Cutler behind center things are going to get very ugly for the Bears. The defense cannot hold up over time and needs the offense to go on reasonably long drives to give it breaks and limit possessions.

Jimmy Clausen is who we thought he is.

126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Agree, if Cutler is out for any period of time, the Bears will probably have the #1 pick in the draft. Things could go very poorly for the Saints, but it's unlikely they'll be 3-13 bad if Brees is healthy. But our recently perpetual losers: Titans, Bucs, Jags, Raiders all seem improved this year. And Washington might have just lucked their way into a 2010 NFC West like race.

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Now that it looks like Cardale Jones isn't going to have a transcendent season, having the number 1 pick isn't a no brainer. Then again, if Urban Meyer doesn't switch to Barrett, and Jones tosses 25 tds and 4 ints the rest of the way, he'll be a no-brainer again.

31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

So who is going to possibly now challenge the Patriots and Packers for the no.1 seed in each conference? Is there even any need to watch the rest of the regular season?

40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

If Manning is the guy we saw the last 2:00 of Week 2, Denver can challenge them (especially since the h2h game is in Denver this year).

Also, don't sleep in ARZ. They're 14-2 in teh last 16 games started by Palmer, and they too have a h2h game against GB in Arizona.

61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I will wake up to ARZ when they beat a good team, which I think it is fair to say the Bears & Saints are clearly not. I guess Atlanta could push for a high seeding if the early signs of improvement on their defence hold up, given the crappy nature of their division.

I still have belief in Manning, but that offensive line just looks horrific. Cincinnati once again look like a good overall squad, but their ceiling is held firmly in place by Dalton. Pittsburgh's offence is all-world, so if they can somehow get average play out of their defence..... stranger things have happened.

All this is coming from somebody who thought the Ravens and Eagles would be serious contenders this year so..... yeah.

179 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

#61

Re: The Steelers' defense. There were encouraging signs yesterday. The d-line did a great job controlling the LoS enabling Ryan Shazier to look like Troy Polamalu in his prime. Also, Bud Dupree looks to be further along than many thought he would be at this point.

92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I don't think Denver is built to challenge the Patriots at this point. The NE offense should be able to find its yardage against Denver with short passes and by stretching the field laterally, especially if Dobson continues to be productive. On the flip side, the NE defense is back to the front-seven talent emphasis of latter-day Patriot squads from 2003-4, and Denver has a very weak offensive line. I think this is a Patriots defensive front that can legitimately pressure Manning. Amusingly, this Denver team might have had a better chance against last year's Patriots squad.

98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Gronk remains an issue, but the Broncos have the LBs and DBs to stop the rest of the Patriots weapons fairly easily I would say.

Having the game in Denver is a big change from last year's game.

Of course, if Manning reverts to Week 1 Manning it is all moot anyway. My guess is by Week 13 the Broncos o-line will be looking better than it has so far.

172 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

As a Denver fan, I (sadly, tearfully) agree with you, at least so far.

I mentioned in another thread that I'd guess there is a lot of re-coaching with the offensive line as they transition from Fox/Gase to Kubiak/Dennison. I suspect that line play will get better, and probably noticeably so, as they adjust to Kubiak's system. Still, I'm reluctant to hope that "better" will equate to "good," at least this year.

For me, the really big question is whether Peyton can rediscover his accuracy downfield. He tried, and failed miserably, to stretch Indy's defense in the playoffs last year. If the 20-yard routes start connecting at all, we'll rejoice like we ate Robin's minstrels. Otherwise, Denver will win some defensive slugfests, but I doubt they'll win consistently enough to make a playoff run.

47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I liked Dallas's chances until Romo was injured, which sadly may be the norm for that guy at this point. If he were to get healthy by January, I think the Cowboys would have a decent chance in Lambeau, which doesn't provide an advantage like CenturyLink.

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

It didn't seem to hurt them much last January. When the Vikings have had talent, and played indoors, they were able to win late season games in Lambeau. The Falcons won a playoff game in Lambeau. I think the old school design of Lambeau just doesn't give the home team defense as much of an edge, although the latest renovation increased the decibel level a bit, it seems to me.

106 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

It was unseasonably warm for last January's game against Dallas...if I recall correctly it was in the mid-thirties so while cold by Dallas standards it wasn't one of those games where a warm weather opponent would find it really painful.

Personally, I'll never understand why Minny went to the Hump Dome back in the 80s...I would think playing outdoors in Minnesota was a much bigger advantage than the dome noise. Plus, I'm old school and if I had it my way all domes would be banned.

120 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The Twin Cities are consistently more cold than Green Bay, and back in the early 80s, multisport stadiums were still being built. The Metrodome was built to be a cheap facility (it cost only 157 million in today's dollars!) which was used the most amount of days possible. It succeeded on that level, as bad as it was to see a game in.

Now, the Vikings new stadium is going to cost north of 1 billion, with the taxpayer on the hook for nearly 500 million. For 500 million, the city and state want a building which can be used on the most amount of days, for things other than sporting events. If the Vikings had built it themselves, or hadn't been asking for a half billion in support, it would not have a roof.

121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The Twin Cities are consistently more cold than Green Bay, and back in the early 80s, multisport stadiums were still being built. The Metrodome was built to be a cheap facility (it cost only 157 million in today's dollars!) which was used the most amount of days possible. It succeeded on that level, as bad as it was to see a game in.

Now, the Vikings new stadium is going to cost north of 1 billion, with the taxpayer on the hook for nearly 500 million. For 500 million, the city and state want a building which can be used on the most amount of days, for things other than sporting events. If the Vikings had built it themselves, or hadn't been asking for a half billion in support, it would not have a roof.

224 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

My impression is that winter weather in the Twin Cities is more harsh than GB's. But I checked some weather sites, and they suggested that, based on the average January highs and lows, Green Bay is perhaps warmer than the Twin Cities by... less than one degree. So I am not sure how big a difference that makes.

237 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I grew up in Green Bay. The weather may average about the same, but Green Bay doesn't have the extremes of Mpls. The temps get moderated a bit by Lake Michigan and the bay, and by Lake Superior to a lessor degree. It gets down to about -25 or so every winter. Mpls has nights where it gets down to close to -40 most winters. At least it did when I was a kid. We even used to wonder how people could handle living in Mpls because it got so cold.

249 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

My first job interview was at Sperry in the Minny/St. Paul area. As I recall, it was late March. Got to the hotel late, and as I was under 25 I couldn't rent a car. I walked across the parking lot to get dinner at the restaurant next door to the hotel. Two feet of fresh snow on the ground, piles of snow twice my height plowed around the outskirts of the lot, about 10 degrees out with a ten to twenty mph wind. Needless to say, I had icicles on my face by the time I got inside. I ask the hostess for a table and she notices my Philly accent. Yes, ma'am - first time in Minnesota. "Well you're lucky" says she, "you got here just in time for the warm spell!". Needless to say, I didn't take the job.

251 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Assuming you mean outdoors in Minnesota, it isn't even close. Yeah, you'll get some very cold windy days in the Boston area, and even Denver (although the intensity of the sun there tends to mitigate things), but the Twin Cities, on the coldest days, is just a complete different level, and it happens much more frequently. Minnesota is the sort of place you need to set your alarm for 2 am, if your car is parked outside, and not plugged in with an engine block heater, to start your car and run it for a while, because the engine lubricants can turn to sludge. If your car breaks down on a lonely road, too far from assistance, and you aren't prepared, death is not an unreasonable fear.

It was awesome, when they played outdoors, and Bud Grant was coach. Bud was the sort of guy who thought hunting up at the arctic circle in February was fun. He has observed Inuit people in that environment, and how they could work outdoors all day, with pretty rudimentary protective gear, without complaint. It occurred to him that they didn't have heaters to stand around, in an attempt to stay warm, and it led him to think that football players didn't need it either, that if you just accepted the temperature was what it was, and didn't give thought to trying to get warm, you could better pay attention to the task at hand. Thus, while the opponents would be back around their bench, huddled around heaters, the Vikings would be standing along the sideline, paying attention to the game. No, it didn't make them invincible in that weather, but it really helped.

35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Thoughts from Tampa-NO:

1. The Saints' offensive line is really bad, particularly Zach Strief. I suspect Strief may have actually died on the field in the first quarter and nobody bothered to tell Sean Payton; Jacques Smith got three sacks, and Strief looked utterly lost. I doubt you could build a solid NFL line if you selected from all four NFC South teams combined.

2. The Saints' defensive line is also really, really bad. Last week, Winston got hammered constantly and had no time, and, this week, he had plenty of time. The Bucs' offensive line actually looked decent. That's an insult to New Orleans, not a compliment to Tampa.

3. The score should not have been that close; in the first half, the Saints fumbled four times, and recovered all four, plus Brees threw three near-picks. If fumble luck is even vaguely equitable, Tampa has a huge lead in that game.

119 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

One of the first-half sacks he took yesterday was just the DE coming around and slamming the ball out of his hand, and, after Brees recovered it, he got up rubbing his arm in obvious discomfort. Not sure it was enough to make a significant difference, but there was clearly at least some minor tweak there.

Then again, while NO won both the games last year, Brees threw three picks in each of them, so it looks like Tampa just has his proverbial number lately. I'd attribute part of it to Tampa does have a pretty solid LB corps right now between Lavonte, Danny Lansanah, and rookie Kwon Alexander, who all are fast and active. While I expected Tampa to lose that game, once I saw how nonexistent NO's defensive line was, I started feeling pretty good, as everything Winston has shown is he makes all the throws when he's got time and just does stupid things when pressured, and, at least in the first half, it felt like NO was effectively playing with only the back seven.

It was a really good opening game for Tampa. Yes, I'm choosing to ignore the even basic existence of week one at this point, it just seems easier.

46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

That was an incredibly putrid performance by the Eagles. Based on what we’ve seen so far, I’m not sure who should be blamed the most, Chip Kelly the GM who traded a 2nd + Foles for Bradford, did not draft a single OL, shipped Mathis out or Chip Kelly the coach who looked completely overmatched vs Dallas, as the Cowboys just seemed to know what was coming on every play.

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

That's the thing I genuinely didn't see coming about any of this - I didn't think Kelly's scheme itself would suddenly look inept and that he would appear to be so hapless on gameday. He's always had a few gameday problems (goal-line to go situations, managing the clock with a lead, slow starts) but both Quinn and Garrett outcoached him (and Billy Davis) by a wide margin.

After the Seahawks loss last year, their entire defense was crowing about how predictable and vanilla Kelly's scheme was - I wonder if what we're seeing is that Kelly's scheme is EVEN MORE dependent on personnel than a regular NFL offense and that it is close to useless without players like Maclin, McCoy, DJax, Mathis, Herremans and the basic competency of Foles running it. You can still see how it wears a defense down, but I absolutely believe it doesn't outsmart anyone - it's telling that it got shut down by two mediocre defenses that stay in base personnel and don't blitz very much. Kelly hasn't been winning a battle of wits with his offense, just of talent (of Maclin, DJax, McCoy, Celek, o-line, Foles) and conditioning.

If the offense can't get going, the conditioning doesn't matter. And if the talent isn't there, the offense can't get going.

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Ugh - especially when Mathews/Sproles/Polk would have been a perfectly fine (and much more economical) backfield. I'm not convinced the difference in value between Murray and Polk is even THAT large. Certainly, if you have an interior o-line this awful, it doesn't matter who you put back there and how much you pay them.

Just imagine what this offense is going to look like when they face a GOOD defense.

257 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

As a long time Oregon fan I could never fathom his love for Blount. For an offense that seems to work best pressuring the edge of the field in the running game Kelly seems to have an inexplicable love for big power backs.

It's possible that this is a schematic thing in that he also seemed to prefer smaller, more agile offensive linemen, and as such tries to make up for a smaller offensive line with a bigger back?

82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Garrett also adjusted his gameplan in the second half - of course because of Weeden, but even before that he went to a lot more clock-killing, low-risk plays where they were just banging the RB off-tackle and hitting big TE's on short interior routes. After they blocked the punt, they seemed more interested in pummeling the Eagles defense than scoring points. The big shot they took was the game-sealing Williams TD which the reward outweighed any risk - Garrett just called a great game all around and Kelly/Davis made no adjustments (once again.)

149 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I will say, in defense of Kelly, though his failure to give up on a running game when the line is getting destroyed is indefensible, his scheme IS basic which is one of its advantages. It's designed to dismantle teams, think LeBeau 3-4 blitzberg disciples, that try to turn offensive/defensive match-ups into a complicated form of rock/paper/scissors, and teams like Seattle/Atlanta/Jacksonville that use a passive cover-3 shell should due very well against it schematically. The more you play defense from a base front the better you should do against Chip Kelly.

That's why in college teams that face spread/option on a regular basis will often adopt a 4-2-5 and occasionally a 3-3-5 base so they can play a cover 3 shell, show an 8 man front, and have speed to match-up all over the field.
_______

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

155 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Oh, I know exactly what it's supposed to do because I've seen poorly prepared, under-coached teams like Oakland or the Panthers just run into the buzzsaw and get annihilated. I think there's a level on which Kelly is spiritually a college coach - he's great at running up the score on cupcakes, but will get knocked around by the big boys who have the guns to keep up.

But you're right in that it's not about trickery, it's about getting one-on-one match-ups and attacking the most favorable one. That's much easier when you have guys like DJax, McCoy and Maclin (and even Sproles still) to create favorable match-ups. It's harder when it's Josh Huff. But no, the scheme itself is very simple and not about the chessmatch. That's ultimately its shortcoming though and why Kelly is 5-8 against teams with winning records in his first two seasons...

258 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Goal line to go and poor clock management were the main reasons I thought Kelly wouldn't do well in the NFL compared to college. Most games Oregon was blowing teams out by the second half so his brain cramps didn't show up often, but in the few close games that went down to the wire he really failed on the tactical decisions. I'm thinking in particular of a Stanford game a few years ago. Down 3 with at least a minute left of clock, he went conservative and settled for a long field goal when the kicker had been terrible all season. Unsurprisingly he missed. Going away from your strength that had got you back in the game, a lethal offense that can score touchdowns quickly, to put the game on your terrible kicker?

48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The Seattle game proved to me - GB should absolutely not pay any receivers at all. With Rodgers, just protect him and build a good defense.

As for Rodgers - hard to criticize his game when he made some really great throws off balance and was facing a pretty strong coverage unit, but he rolled out an awful lot this game, especially on a lot of plays he didn't need to. Those sort of things happened in his losses to SF and Seattle in the past, but this year was different because the pack were actually able to run the ball and the defense wasn't being routinely gashed. Even still, that's the one thing I can still nitpick about him. Other than that, he's all superlatives.

Enjoy it packers fans, he's at the absolute zenith of his powers.