Audibles at the Line

Unfiltered in-game observations by Football Outsiders staff

Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Audibles at the Line: Week 4
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.

New York Jets 27 "at" Miami Dolphins 14 (London)

Tom Gower: Time to introduce London to the wonders of a Ryan Tannehill-Ryan Fitzpatrick matchup!

Andrew Potter: Three drives for Miami so far, and continuing Cian's theme from last week they've tried (and failed) to pass on each of their four first-down plays. The most recent of those was a Tannehill strip-sack, fortunately recovered by Lamar Miller. Their one successful play was a 13-yard Miller run on their opening drive, but they tried the same on their next two second-down plays and were stuffed both times. Add in three short throws on their three third downs -- two failed completions and one incomplete pass -- and it has been a brutal offensive display so far.

The last play of the first quarter is finally a first-down rushing attempt for Miami ... and they gain 1 yard. Which is, at least, 1 more yard than an incomplete pass. Of course, they then open the second quarter by losing 10 yards on a sack, then throwing short on a long third down, and it's time for Matt Darr to punt for the fourth drive in a row.

Halftime now. Miami was finally able to put together a drive in the second quarter, which started with a 14-yard Jarvis Landry run (longer than any Dolphins pass play so far), then was aided by 58 yards in a pair of pass interference penalties (more than the total yards passing for Miami to that point). Tannehill's only completions on the drive were both 8-yarders to Jake Stoneburner, the second with the tight end wide open in the corner of the end zone. Since then, the Dolphins have gained 9 yards on six plays: one run, four incomplete passes, and a 9-yard pass to Greg Jennings on third-and-10.

Meanwhile, the Jets have done quite well on the ground (110 yards in 19 runs, three of those by Fitzpatrick) and hit on 11-of-19 passes to lead 20-7. Brandon Marshall is over 100 yards receiving, including a 58-yarder on New York's first play of the game, and Eric Decker has a 10-yard touchdown as one of four catches for 46 yards. Jets look solidly the better team, and abundantly the better-coached team.

Cian Fahey: Ndamukong Suh is going to get labelled as an Albert Haynesworth type free agent addition but he has been pretty good today. The rest of the Dolphins defense has been atrocious though. Fitzpatrick has thrown a bunch of passes that should have been picked off and the first drive in the third quarter was basically the same running play over and over again that they couldn't stop.

Aaron Schatz: Is Suh the guy who convinced the coaches that it was illegal to let Lamar Miller touch the ball?

Andrew Potter: Five minutes to go. Here's a complete list of Miami's third-down plays so far:

3-15-MIA 27 (13:06) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass short left to J.Landry to MIA 29 for 2 yards (B.Skrine).
3-11-MIA 9 (9:52) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass short left to L.Miller pushed ob at MIA 19 for 10 yards (C.Pryor).
3-7-MIA 29 (3:03) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass incomplete short left to L.Miller [D.Davis].
3-19-MIA 31 (14:21) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass short left to J.Cameron to MIA 39 for 8 yards (C.Pryor).
3-10-MIA 24 (3:55) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass short left to G.Jennings to MIA 33 for 9 yards (A.Cromartie) [L.Williams].
3-10-MIA 30 (:20) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass incomplete short right to K.Stills (M.Wilkerson).
3-4-NYJ 47 (8:11) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass short right to G.Jennings to NYJ 45 for 2 yards (B.Skrine).
3-10-NYJ 41 (3:34) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass incomplete short right to J.Cameron.
3-17-50 (:59) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass incomplete short right to J.Landry [D.Davis].
3-4-NYJ 4 (6:22) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass incomplete short left to J.Landry [L.Williams]
3-11-NYJ 11 (5:39) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass short right to J.Landry to NYJ 9 for 2 yards (D.Bailey).

0-for-11. Average 10 yards and 2 feet to go. Every single one a short pass. Average gain of 3 yards.

Jacksonville Jaguars 13 at Indianapolis Colts 16

Tom Gower: Early on, it looks like the Colts game-planned for Matt Hasselbeck to start. A lot of spread formations, a lot of short passes. Basically, let Hasselbeck read the field and concentrate on getting the ball out quickly rather asking him to take intermediate and deep shots with little mobility and some questions on the offensive line. The Colts should probably be doing this most weeks, really. It has produced a field goal in a couple of possessions early, but I think it's the right way to play.

Jacksonville... got a couple big pass plays to get their first field goal, and they're driving right now after backup Colts running back Josh Robinson fumbled yet again (their quest to spell Frank Gore really needs another option or two). Blake Bortles' good plays mostly seem to come after he has broken the pocket, and he just found Allen Hurns again for a score to put them up 10-3 after scrambling. Inside the pocket, he seems more hit-and-miss.

Colts drove the field, aided by five Jaguars penalties, before Hasselbeck found Coby Fleener for the score. Frank Gore is at something like nine carries for 6 yards, and the run game has been about that ugly. Bad blocking, Jaguars filling the box because you don't have to play two safeties deep against a noodle arm, and Gore has little juice in his legs. Colts came out trying to create space by throwing laterally, but Gore wasn't catching the ball cleanly, or at all, and that lack of juice meant he didn't do anything after the catch.

Up 13-10 at the half, Blake Bortles' line probably looks pretty impressive. He is executing from the pocket (he had a stretch of nine consecutive completions), but all of that has been short, short, short. Seven of the nine went for less than 10 yards, and it only came up to 88 yards in total. Even Vontae Davis has gotten into the "giving up catches" game, getting beat on deep cross on one of those outside-the-pocket plays earlier and ceding a short completion on a third-down conversion. Why you play 9 yards off and don't come up aggressively on third-and-3 is a whole separate question, one perhaps better directed at Greg Manusky.

But on the whole, a close game at halftime is probably what you should have expected between these teams. Indianapolis is playing with their backup quarterback and the whole roster isn't that good. Jacksonville isn't good yet, but isn't dreadful.

Andrew Healy: If the Colts didn't have high preseason expectations, we would think they're a 2-2 team headed for 6-10. They win only after Jason Myers misses three field goal attempts that would have won it, the first after Chuck Pagano counterproductively ices him at the end of regulation.

And I wondered after Myers missed the first kick at the end of regulation like he was Mike Vanderjagt at the end of the 2005 divisional game against the Steelers: Myers was 5-for-10 as a college senior at Marist, including 3-for-6 from 30-to-39 yards. For his career, he was 3-for-9 from 40-to-49 yards. Now, he had a 58-yarder earlier this year, but man are those alarming college stats for a rookie kicker. It's possible these misses were predictable.

Tom Gower: Free football in the AFC South was not really on anybody's list of requested hits today, but that's what we got anyway. We found out in the second half why Blake Bortles threw short passes when he was in the pocket. When he tried throwing something other than short passes (say, more than 10 or 12 yards downfield), they weren't completed and weren't necessarily that close to being completed. Jacksonville was shut out in the second half, thanks in part to a pair of missed field goals at the end of regulation and in overtime. The drive at the end of the second half was probably the best. Indianapolis had their first shot at a two-minute warning, and the Jaguars had just a minute to get to field goal range. A 53-yarder is no gimme, of course, and even after Chuck Pagano iced the first miss Jason Myers couldn't put it home. T.J. Yeldon looked pretty good.

Frank Gore had his moments in the second half after I buried him at halftime, though he offset much of that good with a fumble inside the 5. He'll probably get some good words for his overtime run to set up Vinatieri's game-winner. The key on the play was Anthony Castonzo blocking two linebackers, but what made that happen was the middle linebacker was backup Thurston Armbrister, and he didn't recognize as quickly as Paul Posluszny would have. Telvin Smith got caught in the trash, and a 5- or 7-yard gain became 23 or whatever. That the Jaguars were also down starting free safety James Sample and cornerback Aaron Colvin late probably didn't help much, nor did all those penalties throughout the game.

Andrew Potter: The interminable sequence of failure throughout the end of the fourth quarter and overtime has left me with a (very real) stress headache, so rather than attempt to recount just how messed up it was I'll just note that maybe, just maybe, if your kicker is terrible and has already missed a potential game-winner twice, settling for a 48-yard field goal in overtime by calling a run up the gut on third-and-long is a terrible idea. Sure, maybe (probably) you'll fail with the pass play, but at least *try*.

Oh, and just in case there was still any doubt, icing the kicker is also a terrible idea.

Watching Jets-Dolphins followed by Colts-Jaguars has left me with a burning desire to see 75 percent of NFL coaching staffs replaced. And the aforementioned stress headache.

New York Giants 24 at Buffalo Bills 10

Aaron Schatz: Defensive battle early in Buffalo behind the Giants and Bills. Stephon Gillmore with particularly strong, close coverage on Odell Beckham, and the Bills' run defense is excellent. Karlos Williams has broken some tackles but the Bills passing game isn't doing much so far. Both teams have been consistently backed up to start drives until the Giants just got a great interception with Devon Kennard stealing the ball away from Charles Clay on the sideline. Giants then score a touchdown in just two plays, two passes to Dwayne Harris for a combined 32 yards. Second one has Harris wide open in the middle of a zone coverage -- I think Cover-3, at first glance, and I think Baccari Rambo was supposed to have that deep zone over the middle. Rex Ryan can do all kinds of fun things with schemes and he can coach 'em up, but at a certain point you aren't going to make Baccari Rambo a good pass coverage player no matter how you scheme.

Sterling Xie: Giants front seven has exceeded expectations all year and they've controlled this game so far, harassing Tyrod Taylor and containing Karlos Williams on early downs. Kerry Wynn has especially stood out on the strong side and Devon Kennard, who has a pick earlier, also did a nice job of batting down Taylor's most recent third down pass.

Aaron Schatz: This is all about the Giants' front seven. They are mauling the Bills' offensive line today. Karlos Williams is running well, too, but he's breaking tackles and pushing guys forward behind the line of scrimmage on almost every carry. The Giants just took him down for a loss when Trumaine McBride and Kerry Wynn came at him pretty much untouched. That's not supposed to happen because Kerry Wynn is a defensive end. You know, those guys should generally be blocked.

Andrew Healy: And Odell Beckham did it again. He actually had to turn his body a little more this time. He was out of bounds, but he now has both the best catch ever and maybe the best non-catch ever.

Aaron Schatz: Of course, the sad thing about saying "the best catch ever" is that we really only mean "the best catch ever in a game that we can find on video." I would bet there are some pretty amazing catches in the years of NFL games that don't exist on film or tape of any kind. A lot of those years were when the game was super run-heavy, but not all of them.

But our memories really only go back to the last couple decades. And out of all the receivers in all the games over those last couple decades, hard to think of one who made more memorable catches than ODB in just one calendar year. The dude has absurd talents.

Bills come back to make the game 16-10, but then the Giants score a touchdown to make it 22-10 on a little dumpoff pass to Rashad Jennings on the left sideline. Nigel Bradham totally blows a tackle that would have limited it to just a 3-yard gain, and Jennings goes racing down the sidelines, outraces Preston Brown, stiff-arms Baccari Rambo, and it's a 51-yard touchdown.

ODB tripped over Rambo after Rambo was laying on the field post-missed tackle, and he went flying and was sprawled on the ground. But it looks like he's OK. Rambo is walking back to the locker room and may not be.

Vince Verhei: The great Paul Zimmerman once wrote a terrific piece about a near-mythical catch made by Don Hutson, a one-handed, palm-down catch. He heard people talking about it but figured they might be exaggerating, and he spent years tracking down old game films (literally in this case, reel-to-reel films) and watching them one play at a time, searching for the great play, and then he finally found it.

Andrew Healy: Bizarre play-calling for the Giants. Again. Up 14 with under four minutes left inside the Bills' 20-yard line, they throw a fade that stops the clock on second down. And then Eli Manning gets picked on the goal line on third down. I'm generally all in favor of continuing to throw, but they are taking something easy and making it difficult. Kick a field goal if needed after running clock. This self-inflicted stuff seems to happen almost every week for the Giants.

Aaron Schatz: Penalties are out of control for the Bills. Their 17th penalty of the day is a chop block called on Richie Incognito for going low on Damontre Moore while the left tackle was already blocking him. On replay, I'm not even sure that Incognito was that low but I'll admit to not being an expert on the chop block rule. It negates a touchdown pass to Charles Clay that would have made the score 24-17 and given the Bills a shot at an onside kick and comeback to tie. Seventeen penalties, and that's the official listed total on NFL.com so I don't think that even includes declined and offsetting penalties.

Carolina Panthers 37 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23

Sterling Xie: Buccaneers have probably outplayed the Panthers today, especially since the first couple Tampa Bay drives ended in turnovers. Tampa has outpossessed Carolina by about 9 minutes and held them under 4 yards per play. But two more missed field goals from Loser League MVP Kyle Brindza kept them down 17-10, and then a Jonathan Stewart fumble just popped up into Ed Dickson's hands, who took it about 50 yards to the house. Panthers somehow up 24-10 now.

Philadelphia Eagles 20 at Washington Redskins 23

Andrew Healy: Nelson Agholor gets the unnecessary one-handed catch and credit from the announcers for a great one. No idea why he didn't just put two hands on that deep post.

Cian Fahey: For whatever reason, Chip Kelly has become infatuated with east-west plays. After Sam Bradford hits Agholor for a huge play downfield, Kelly calls an end-around where Agholor fumbles. 2013 Kelly runs the ball down their throat or looks to push it downfield again.

Andrew Healy: That fumble is punishment for the unnecessary one-hander.

In the three games DeMarco Murray has played the Eagles have three points altogether in the first half. They were shut out by the Cowboys in Week 2 and they're shut out here by Washington after Caleb Sturgis misses a field goal late in the second quarter. They only even got the attempt after a 45-yard Darren Sproles punt return. Maybe the Curse of 370 applies to the entire offense this time.

Smaller point, the Eagles couldn't find anyone other than Caleb Sturgis? Maybe they could have found Bjorn Nittmo somewhere.

Aaron Schatz: Explain to me why you give DeMarco Murray all that money if he's only going to carry the ball three times in the first half.

Cian Fahey: Nothing in Philadelphia makes sense so far this year. When Murray does get the ball he's generally directed towards the sideline.

Vince Verhei: Miles Austin gets behind the Washington secondary and Sam Bradford hits him for a 39-yard touchdown to put the Eagles up 20-16. Earlier Bradford hit Riley Cooper for a 62-yard score, and he also has a 45-yard completion to Nelson Agholor. Agholor is one thing, but when the likes of Riley Cooper and Miles Austin are getting open deep repeatedly, your defense has problems.

Oakland Raiders 20 at Chicago Bears 22

Andrew Healy: Amari Cooper is already so good. There are tougher corners to leave grasping for air than Tracy Porter, but I'm not sure anyone short of Darrelle Revis would have covered that gorgeous cut out of his slant. Then a touchdown to Roy Helu to make it 14-6 Raiders.

Scott Kacsmar: Every year there is a defense that just cannot seem to cover the tight end position. That is Oakland this season. No one even picked up Martellus Bennett in the end zone on a wide-open score.

Vince Verhei: Raiders kick a field goal to go up 17-16 early in the third. They're actually getting dominated statistically but taking advantage of good field position -- they're three scoring drives start at their own 49-yard line, the Bears' 25-yard line, and the Bears' 39-yard line following a good punt return and a pair of fumble recoveries. Derek Carr has both touchdown passes (maybe his red zone performance last year wasn't as fluky as we thought), and his only interception actually hit Latavius Murray in the chest and bounced into Pernell McPhee's hands.

Bears have been moving the ball up and down the field with Matt Forte running and Jay Cutler spreading the ball around, but have been undone by those fumbles and a blocked extra point.

With the ball at the Oakland 36-yard line, John Fox calls a draw on third-and-14. Forte gets stuffed for no gain, but even a 6- or 7-yard gain there is still settling for a long field goal. Fox gets bailed out when Robbie Gould hits a 54-yard field goal and Chicago goes ahead 19-17.

Turnovers continue to be the story of this game. Raiders follow the Bears' field goal with a lost fumble when Latavius Murray can't handle a simple pitch, and Chicago recovers. Then Jay Cutler has Martellus Bennett open on a deep corner route for what would likely have been a clinching touchdown, but with his feet unset he puts up a badly underthrown lob, and Charles Woodson intercepts it. Woodson is now 39 years old with two interceptions on the year -- the only other players to do so at that age were Darrell Green (who did it at 39 and 40) and Clay Matthews Sr.

Unbelievable. Bears are down 20-19, but they have the ball on a second-and-1 at the Oakland 34-yard line with 34 seconds to go and a timeout. So I'm thinking they've got plenty of time to run two, maybe three plays and kick a short field goal. Instead John Fox calls for a run and Matt Forte gains the first down. OK, so call your timeout and line up and spike it, right? Nah, Fox lets the clock run down and calls timeout with just enough time to try a 49-yard field goal. Gould bails him out again and Chicago wins 22-20, but my God, it's like the man has never seen a missed field goal in more than a decade of coaching.

Houston Texans 21 at Atlanta Falcons 48

Cian Fahey: Bill O'Brien never gets criticized but his team has consistently not shown up this year despite playing against teams with lesser talent.

Vince Verhei: Arian Foster getting the ball punched out by his own offensive lineman, leading to a Desmond Trufant scoop-and-score touchdown, is the most Texans thing ever.

J.J. Watt has at least one sack and two tipped passes in the first 20 minutes, but it feels like he makes a play or Atlanta gets a first down, and those are the only possibilities. Atlanta's offense is like Peyton Manning's Colts teams, where they score a lot, but on slow drives that limit the number of possessions, so their final point total will actually understate how good their offense is.

Texans miss a field goal late in the second quarter and trail 28-0 at halftime. Houston has decided they're just not going to tackle or cover Devonta Freeman -- he has 53 yards rushing and 81 yards receiving in the first half, with two rushing scores.

With the competitive portion of the game over, I think it's time to ask two big-picture questions:

1) Is J.J. Watt the best example of a great defender on a terrible defense? I know some of Deion Sanders' Atlanta defenses were pretty awful, but nothing else is springing to mind.

2) Do the Falcons have the NFL's best "triplets" with Matt Ryan/Devonta Freeman/Julio Jones? Ben Roethlisberger's injury takes Pittsburgh out of the equation. Cincinnati and New England don't qualify because they can't pick a running back. Only other option I can see is Aaron Rodger/Eddie Lacy/Randall Cobb in Green Bay.

Aaron Schatz: Freeman is not one of the best running backs in the league. I appreciate what he's done the last couple weeks, but that's significantly about the defenses he's faced. In the preseason, it seemed like he was going to gradually lose his job to Tevin Coleman over the course of the year, but now Coleman's on the sidelines with a rib injury. I don't remember ever reading anyone saying that Freeman even had the possibility of developing into one of the top five backs. Not to take away what he's done in these two games, he's been great, and it's not just because he has huge holes. But when Roethlisberger comes back, the Steelers easily have the league's best triplets. Otherwise, even though I prefer a downfield receiver like Julio Jones to a slot guy like Cobb, I would have to go with Green Bay.

Tom Gower Not watching this game today aside from the highlights I see on Red Zone, but Freeman is having success the same way Justin Forsett is, by being in the right scheme, where he's a good fit and you can utilize his strengths. Have people really been talking about him as one of the best backs in the league? Even one of the best fantasy backs is questionable because of Tevin Coleman's eventual return.

Vince Verhei: To reinforce Aaron's point about Atlanta's opposition, Falcons backup runner Terron Ward, an undrafted free agent out of Oregon State, is getting the first runs of his NFL career today. So far he has eight carries for 45 yards and a touchdown.

Kansas City Chiefs 21 at Cincinnati Bengals 36

Rob Weintraub: The Bengals go right down the field and score on Kansas City with a nice Jeremy Hill sighting. Key play a third-and-short, bad snap to Andy Dalton but he handles it and goes deep down the left side for A.J. Green to set up the score.

The second Bengals possession almost as sharp as the first. Offensive line dominant, another touchdown run, this time from Giovani Bernard. Big play a Dalton scramble and lob downfield to Rex Burkhead for 33 yards. 14-3 first-quarter.

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Bengals have no answer for Jamaal Charles, especially as a receiver.

Halftime in Cincy: 14-12 Bengals. Difference in the game: a few red zone defensive plays by Cincinnati. But the Chiefs have moved the ball mostly at will and have yet to punt. Mike Nugent also missed a field goal while Santos is 4-4. "Last possession wins" kinda game.

Couple of other notes: the crazy "what is and what is not a catch?" rule continues to haunt the Bengals. Jeremy Maclin made a catch, then was blasted out of bounds and dropped the ball. Never went to the ground with possession. But of course that's a catch and what Tyler Eifert did last week was not.

Meanwhile the Chiefs almost Andy Reid'd themselves out of three points at the end of the half. They had fourth-and-inches and were totally about to spike the ball to stop the clock and turn it over on downs. But a measurement saved their bacon and Kansas City got a field goal out of it.

Kevin Zeitler holds on the first two plays of the drive but gets bailed out. Marvin Jones drops a bomb touchdown and commits a procedure penalty but gets bailed out. All because Brandon Tate made a spectacular catch on an Andy Dalton improv play and scores. His first catch all season. 21-12 Cincy.

Replay follies taking over the Bengals-Chiefs game at the end of the third quarter. First Travis Kelce fumbles stretching for a couple of meaningless extra yards on third-and-30. Sets up the Bengals for another Jeremy Hill touchdown. Cincy goes for two and Hill clearly extends the ball about 2 yards over the goal line. Somehow the side judge says he did not get in. But that is overturned and Cincy leads by two touchdowns.

Cairo Santos kicks his sixth, count them, sixth field goal of the game to make it 29-18. But then he kicks off out of bounds.

Cincy puts together a tremendous putaway drive off that kick out of bounds. Highlight the third-and-1 run fake and throw to Eifert all the way across the formation. That set up Jeremy Hill's third touchdown of the game. Back in the fantasy good graces is Mr. Hill.

Bengals win 36-21 ... and don't give up a touchdown. First 4-0 start since 2005. Tremendous pressure applied by Bengals front all day. Charles quick hitters countered for a while, but Chiefs couldn't make those happen in red zone. Meanwhile Tamba Hali/Justin Houston pretty much blanked by Cincy offensive line. Pacman injury and some sloppy penalties only negative.

Cleveland Browns 27 at San Diego Chargers 30

Rob Weintraub: Who needs Johnny Football? Josh McCown converts a third-and-long by avoiding a rusher, then flipping a pinpoint pass to Travis Benjamin while backpedaling.

Jeremiah Attaochu gets him moments later though for a key sack. Forces a field goal that makes it 20-19 Chargers. San Diego hanging in despite being down to two healthy corners.

San Diego also down to two moving bodies at wide receiver. Steve Johnson went out earlier. So in a crucial moment they go to one of them, Dontrelle Inman, who makes a huge catch-and-run to set up a touchdown pass to John Phillips. Bolts up 8 with about 7 minutes left.

Exciting finish out west. Gary Barnidge makes a spectacular juggling catch that was reviewed endlessly before standing (didn't agree myself) to set up Cleveland tying it up late.

Then Philip Rivers gets San Diego down the field, keyed by a blatant (uncalled) pick play and a big run by Danny Woodhead. It would never happen but the Browns safety was better off letting him score rather than trip him up. Pure instinct play. San Diego lets clock run down, then... Josh Lambo misses the short field goal!

But offsides Browns! Rekick is good, and the Chargers save the season with a gutty short-handed win. And the Browns are the Browns. McCown played well enough again, but their defense isn't getting the job done. They had some effective exotica from Mike Pettine like moving cow zone blitzes, but man on man they got repeatedly beat.

Green Bay Packers 17 at San Francisco 49ers 3

Aaron Schatz: I don't quite understand why Green Bay is using Ty Montgomery as a running back.

Vince Verhei: Colin Kaepernick is definitely playing better than he did last week, but not as well as his 7-of-10 for 78 yards would indicate. His biggest play was a 40-yard "completion" to Quinton Patton that was really a fly sweep -- the ball traveled maybe a foot of real distance in the air. Kaepernick also killed the 49ers' best chance for a touchdown when he took long sacks on both second-and-goal and third-and-goal to set up the San Francisco field goal.

Green Bay got a touchdown on their first drive, but then punted on three straight possessions, including back-to-back three-and-outs. That includes a decision to punt on fourth-and-2 on San Francisco's side of the field. They finally got aggressive on their last possession, with Eddie Lacy twice converting on fourth-and-1 (quite easily both times, in fact). Aaron Rodgers then went incomplete-incomplete-sack, and Mason Crosby missed a 44-yard field goal to end the half.

Colin Kaepernick's terrible 2015 continues, to the point where Joe Buck has called for a change to Blaine Gabbert. But the real story is that Green Bay just punted again, and still only has 17 points late in the fourth. It doesn't look like the 49ers are doing anything special, they're just getting good pressure by rushing four, and that's letting them keep enough guys in coverage to take away most big plays.

St. Louis Rams 24 at Arizona Cardinals 22

Vince Verhei: David Johnson is the early goat here. He fumbles the opening kickoff and the Rams recover. Nick Foles converts that with a third-down touchdown to Tavon Austin, who continues to have a breakout season. Cardinals then get a goal-to-go on my most hated NFL rule, the enormous DPI call (a 29-yard penalty on Janoris Jenkins covering Michael Floyd). On third down, Carson Palmer hits a wide-open Johnson for what should have been a tying touchdown, but Johnson drops the ball and Arizona kicks a field goal.

Cardinals gave up one sack in their first three games. Rams already have two sacks and the first quarter isn't even over yet.

Cardinals are moving the ball a lot with short passes to the perimeter, a fine strategy because it gets the ball out of Palmer's hands before he gets killed, and forces St. Louis' worst defenders, the cornerbacks, to make tackles. However, the Rams have taken away the deep pass, especially when Janoris Jenkins intercepted Palmer in the end zone on a pass thrown to John Brown from near midfield. Cardinals have been held to three field goals.

As for the Rams, they're ahead, but their offense is Tavon Austin and nothing else. He's got one carry for 8 yards and two catches for 59 yards; otherwise, the Rams have 31 yards on 18 other plays. Their running backs can't get anything on the ground -- Todd Gurley, Tre Mason, and Benny Cunningham have eight carries for a total of 1 yard. And most of their passing game has been jump balls to Jared Cook with little success. Rams are up 10-9 at halftime, but it feels like they've been badly outplayed.

Larry Fitzgerald has what appears to be a third-down conversion and a big gain, but then Rodney McLeod forces a fumble and the Rams recover.

Todd Gurley gets the ball four times in a row on the next drive, including two gains of 10-plus yards, after getting only four carries in the first half. That set up a third-and-5, and Foles hit Stedman Bailey on a corner route out of a bunch formation for a touchdown to put the Rams up 17-9. Hard to tell if he beat Tyrann Mathieu in man coverage, or if Jerraud Powers was supposed to have the deep zone.

Ridiculous luck for Rams at the end of the third quarter. On first down deep in their own territory Gurley fumbles and it appears that the Cardinals recover, but it's ruled Rams ball. There was a lot of pulling guys off the pile there and then a discussion, so Arizona coaches had plenty of time to consider a challenge, but they don't. Then on third down, Benny Cunningham fumbles and the Rams recover, but the refs had apparently called the play dead, and so Arizona is not allowed to challenge, and the Rams punt. That's one of those things that happens to everyone once in a while. But not twice in three plays.

Cards got a field goal after the Fumbles That Weren't to make it 17-15. Rams then score a touchdown on the next drive to take a 23-15 lead. Big play was a Gurley run for 52 yards, where he had a huge hole between center and left guard, then made the safety (Rashad Johnson, I think) look silly in the open field. Foles finishes the drive with a great touchdown pass to Austin. Cardinals brought a blitz on third down but kept a spy/robber in the middle. Foles had to hang in the pocket, pump fake the spy out of position, and then hit the pass to Austin, who had just a step on Powers on a crossing route.

If the Rams preserve this lead, they're going to win with turnovers (where they have, officially, a +3 margin) and red zone defense (no touchdowns allowed on four drives inside the 20-yard line).

Well that finish turned out more exciting than I thought it would be. David Johnson redeemed himself with a touchdown that left Arizona down 24-22, and the Rams then followed with a three-and-out. Cardinals drove to the edge of field-goal range, but Carson Palmer overthrew receivers on third-and-2 and fourth-and-2. Arizona still had all three timeouts though, so the game wasn't all they way over. Rams then gave Gurley the ball four times in a row, including runs of 20 and 30 yards. My favorite part wasn't the physicality, it was his intelligence. On all four runs, he was sure to go down in bounds as soon as defenders got close to him, and didn't risk a fumble or going out of bounds by fighting for yards that weren't needed. Impressive football smarts by a guy in his second NFL game.

Minnesota Vikings 20 at Denver Broncos 23

Cian Fahey: I can't remember the last time a quarterback played with such a bad cast of offensive linemen and wide receivers as Teddy Bridgewater enters today's game with.

Aaron Schatz: Pass rush has been most of the story in the first half. The Denver pass rush looks phenomenal, but the Minnesota pass rush is doing some good stuff too. It's not just bad offensive line play by the Broncos -- the Vikings have gotten some free rushers with good play design. Both teams are also getting strong run defense, except on one play. Adrian Peterson eight carries for 21 yards. C.J. Anderson five carries for 11 yards. But Ronnie Hillman got one carry and he got free wide and then just ran off down the sideline for a sweet 72-yard touchdown.

We've all been complaining about the rise of penalties this year and a play that slowed down a Denver drive with 7 minutes left in the second quarter really encapsulates the problem for me. The Broncos should have converted with a short pass to Emmanuel Sanders on third-and-4, but they got called for an illegal formation. The problem was Ryan Harris at left tackle was apparently slightly too far back behind the butt of the center, but it didn't look different from any other play to me. They've decided that they're going to let offensive lines set up in an arc with the tackles a little bit behind the interior line. They allow that in every game. If they're going to decide that's not legal, then decide it isn't legal and make offensive lines line up shoulder-to-shoulder and straight across on every play. Don't decide that the arc is fine but occasionally throw a flag because one of the tackles is too far back by an inch or two, that's ridiculous.

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Rob Weintraub: Cincy got dinged for a similar "arc" call too. All the linemen and coaches were apparently yelling "make up your mind!" at the refs.

Tom Gower: Huge swing at the end of the first half. Given a second chance from 38 yards after missing from that distance earlier, Blair Walsh makes it 13-3. Broncos are driving into the two-minute situation, in long field goal range, but Peyton Manning seems to get something he isn't expecting and throws a ball right to Anthony Barr. Return to field goal range, then a pair of Mike Wallace receptions, one each against Chris Harris and Aqib Talib, and it's 13-10 at the half after it was 13-0 at the two minute warning.

Aaron Schatz: This game is still being dominated by the defenses. The Broncos are getting great play from their cornerbacks and their outside pass rushers, not just the starters but also the depth guys like Shane Ray. Vikings are getting huge games from Anthony Barr (picked off Manning) and Linval Joseph, who is really pushing around the Denver offensive line.

Sterling Xie: After it looked like the Broncos were on the verge of self-destructing, Peyton leads them on a much-needed clock-killing drive with 5 minutes left that ends in a Brandon McManus chip shot field goal to go ahead 23-20. The Vikings probably could have driven for the tie or even the win with 1:50 and 2 timeouts left, given how well Teddy Bridgewater played in the second half, but Von Miller abused rookie right tackle T.J. Clemmings twice on the final drive, the final of which resulted in the game-ending strip sack. Miller in general was the MVP of this game, and as has been the story so often this season, Denver's defense (its front seven in particular on this afternoon) bailed out an offense dragged down by some shaky decision-making from Manning.

It wasn't hard to see the mismatch coming with the Denver defensive line vs. the Minnesota offensive line; the Broncos ended up with seven sacks and probably at least as many quarterback hits. The pro-Teddy contingent will point to this game as an exemplar of his poise and general toughness, but I was most impressed with the Vikings receiving corps. Down its No. 2 (Charles Johnson) and No. 3 (Jarius Wright), Mike Wallace and the bench crew somehow managed to consistently get open against Denver's secondary. If Bridgewater had played with even a remotely competent O-line, Minnesota probably breaks 30, and that's including Adrian Peterson's poor day (minus one long touchdown run on fourth-and-inches). Stefon Diggs at least warrants a longer look after what he did today. Hopefully Bridgewater can stay healthy long enough behind that O-line to keep the Vikings in the wild card race.

Dallas Cowboys 20 at New Orleans Saints 26

Aaron Schatz: Cowboys defense looks good on first and second down but they can't seem to get off the field on third-and-longs. First drive of the second quarter, they let Mark Ingram gain 14 yards on a catch on third-and-13, and a hold on Brandon Carr nullifies a pick on third-and-11. The drive before that, Willie Snead caught a 19-yard pass on third-and-11, then Benjamin Watson caught one for 7 yards on third-and-5.

And as soon as I type this, they finally do, with a sack of Drew Brees on third-and-6. So hey, they finally get off the field on third-and-long.

As for the Dallas offense, I know Brandon Weeden looks like Super Captain Checkdown, but I have to give him credit for always delivering the ball to the open guy. It certainly helps him that the Dallas offensive line is giving him tons of time to throw, and the Saints defense is not particularly good, but still -- he's moving the ball down the field in reasonable fashion.

Brees' shoulder has absolutely limited him tonight. He generally averages over 11 yards per completion. Tonight he's averaging 6.8 yards per completion. So the Saints have just 10 points even though Brees has completed 17-of-21 passes through the first 35 minutes.

Tom Gower: Leader of tonight's game: secondary penalties. New Orleans' plague has continued tonight, and this Saints drive down 13-10 in the middle of the third quarter has had a few of them.

Aaron Schatz: Hey, look, Christine Michael sighting! The Cowboys finally bring him in on a third-and-1 with 6:37 left in the game and he gets stuffed behind the line when Ronald Leary gets blown up and Barry Richardson spins off of Jason Witten's block attempt. Alas.

In case you wanted to know how bad the Saints' defense is, they just let Brandon Weeden march 91 yards up the field in 2:14 to tie the game at 20. Great diving catch by Terrance Williams to get the touchdown in the right corner of the end zone. I guess Sean Payton didn't think it was a catch, thinking it was not secure in Williams' arms as he hit the ground? Anyway, even though the refs had already reviewed the play, it looks like he wasted his final timeout just to bitch at the refs about the catch. Not like he would need that with the game tied and Brees getting the ball for a two-minute drill.

(Actually, he didn't need it. Brees got the Saints all the way up the field into field goal range without needing the timeout.)

Tom Gower: Hey, kickers. And C.J. Spiller renders the whole thing moot in overtime by going 80 yards, most of it after the catch. He also put Brees over 10 yards per completion. I wonder just how healthy he really is, and just how much of it is the new New Orleans offense.

Aaron Schatz: There are guys with speed on that offense. Brees completed some deeper passes in the first two weeks. I think the low yards per completion number today was all about the shoulder, not his offensive teammates.

Scott Kacsmar: Brees may have been limited by the shoulder tonight, but I wouldn't read too much into the one game. His injury happened in Week 2. In Week 1 against Arizona, Brees had 78 percent of his yards after the catch, which is an absurd rate. That's just how the Saints offense is at times and tonight he had 150 receiving yards from Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller alone.

Comments

276 comments, Last at 08 Oct 2015, 7:25am

1 Packers-49ers

Packers OL (especially Barclay) didn't look nearly as good as the last couple of games - at least against the Seahawks and Chiefs, he was able to push the DE/OLB up the field, but versus the 49ers he gave up the inside at least once for a sack, and let the OLB get around him a couple of times for pressures/sacks. The interior lineman seemed to be racking up the penalties as well.

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Nothing in Philadelphia makes sense so far this year. When Murray does get the ball he's generally directed towards the sideline.

I mean, color me completely shocked - an offseason of moves that make absolutely no sense is followed by a season where the gameplanning makes absolutely no sense? Totally crazy, I tell you!

I don't get why people are surprised that Philly's offense is anemic. They got rid of 2 of their starting offensive linemen and replaced them with... a guy that couldn't make the team last year. Seriously. It doesn't matter what you think of Mathis and Herremans, or how they're doing with their new teams. If you thought your two starting linemen weren't good enough to come back, then you obviously need to pick up more talent. And they didn't.

I've got the same opinion on the WRs, too, obviously. You want to let go of your best WR, fine, but replacing him with just a rookie is insane.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

They didn't let go of their best WR, they were outbid for him. Had they ponied up the money for him, Chip probably would have been crucified for not understanding the salary cap. Heads his critics win, tails he loses.

Getting rid of Herremans doesn't bother me, I think they probably thought Barbre was better last year as well, but he was hurt. Mathis was tough to swallow. The only way the moves make sense is if you don't believe guard play is that important, that if your guards are surrounded by a good center and good tackles, you can get by at that spot for cheap. Either that or you're not really playing for this year, that you see this as a multiple year rebuild, although if that was the plan it kind of begs the question why sign Murray and Mathews ?

13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

They didn't let go of their best WR, they were outbid for him.

That was going to happen the instant they signed him to a 1-year deal and he outperformed it. I'm not being critical because they didn't outbid Kansas City. I'm being critical because they let Maclin get to free agency in 2015 at all.

Getting rid of Herremans doesn't bother me, I think they probably thought Barbre was better last year as well, but he was hurt. Mathis was tough to swallow.

You're forgetting something - even if you get rid of a starter and replace him with his backup, you need a new backup. And preferably a good one. If you can't find one (which... apparently they couldn't) you'd much rather keep Mathis/Herremans on the roster for another year, and let Barbre/Gardner take over the spot via competition. Then if there's injury, or just total suckitude, you can at least fall back.

29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Yup. Think about this.

The Eagles replaced 2 10+ year starters on the offensive line with two career backups. And added zero depth behind them. What the hell made them think they would get through the season okay?

I had them pegged for 4-6 wins before the season (as you know - I think we were both roughly in the same range) and I *hate* that they're becoming this predictable. I haven't enjoyed a single game this year because the problems are just so stupid obvious.

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

No, I honestly thought they'd be ok in 2015 and make it to 10-6 or 11-5 and then crater in 2016 when they had to make hard choices about the QB, what to do about Jason Peters and a lot of the valuable role players (like Curry and Thornton) as well as some of the last of remaining Reid guys. That, plus a soft schedule. Of course, late in the off-season, they shipped out Boykin and signed Kendricks (thus committing to another injury-prone player) and if I had stopped to think about I would've realized that they were already too far gone to snap out of it. But I still think 9-7 and a division title is on the table this year - how could you not? The Redskins look awful and the Cowboys aren't beating anyone until week 10 at the earliest.

But yeah, it's INSANE how repetitive the offense has become. If they can't get a defense on their heels with the pace, they're just hopeless. I'll give credit where it is due and say that Bradford taking some deep shots this week might cause defenses to stop choking up on the short stuff, but I'm with you that these WR's just aren't good enough to scare anybody other than Redskins' backups and CB's playing through injury. If they can hang with the Giants in two weeks, that will show whether the division title is a realistic possibility. If they can't even beat the Saints at home this week, even waiting that long will be beside the point...

58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

No, I honestly thought they'd be ok in 2015 and make it to 10-6 or 11-5 and then crater in 2016

OK... so then I can take credit in being one of the few people that really couldn't see how they would ever reach 8-8. Yay?

But I still think 9-7 and a division title is on the table this year - how could you not?

Because I think in 4-6 weeks they'll have at least 1 or 2 offensive linemen starting that they sign off the street, and just about everyone will have realized that they can just bring both safeties down and make sure that Sproles/Mathews can't get to the edge.

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

The Giants defense has impressed me too. They have so little front-line talent, but are coached really well, don't give up too many big plays, and are opportunistic. They are kind of the anti-Giants from 2007 and 2011, but Spags is doing a good job keeping them decent.

They really should be 3-1, if not 4-0, and I do think the division is theirs, especially if the Cowboys can't manage 2-3 wins with Weeden.

86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Look, Victor Cruz may never be the same again, but if he does get back to form, come playoff time, and the rest of the offense stays healthy, that's not a bunch you want be running your defensive backfield out against, in a one and done tournament, as Eli gets focused again with talent around him, as produces facsimile of his work in January and February 2012.

93 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Yeah, but the Eagles have just OWNED the Giants for so long (at one point under Reid they were 12-3 including the playoffs) that it's just hard for me to get used to them as a threat. Like, the Giants are NEVER the thing standing in the way of the Eagles' success. Not for a decade and a half at least...

117 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Yup - two of the only years under Andy Reid when the Eagles didn't make the playoffs. I always joke with my Giants fans friends they were lucky the Eagles didn't make the playoffs either year. They knocked the Giants out of the playoffs in 2006 & 2008 and prevented them from qualifying in 2009 & 2010 with sweeps (of an 8-8 and 10-6 Giants team respectively.)

Eagles fans do not sweat the Giants. If anything, Reid's ownership of the Eli and Coughlin's Giants are probably why both Eli and Coughlin are underrated to this day.

162 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

The thing is, it's not like this is a recent phenomenon. Even the great Parcells teams always seemed to struggle against the Eagles. That's not even mentioning the fact that there are three(!) plays named the Miracle at the Meadowlands.

The 2008 team is the one that really makes me angry - top-to-bottom, that was more talented than either of the super bowl teams. They also had a fool-proof strategy against the Eagles that year: have Eli toss a jump balls to Plaxico Burress when he was matched up against the generously 5'10" Lito Sheppard. Then Plax shot himself in the leg because he couldn't afford a $20 nylon holster, and Eli decided to throw to Asante Samuel instead.

165 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Asante just had Eli's number, like I can only compare it to as a lesser version of Ty Law and Peyton. He just would make Eli look foolish - at one point Eli gave an interview where he said he simply wouldn't even look Asante's direction, he just couldn't figure out what he was going to do on any play.

In defense of losing to the 2008 Eagles, that was the second best defense in the history of the franchise and the best team of the Andy Reid era. I watched that playoff game in a bar in midtown and thought I was going to have to sneak out the back, so enraged and disappointed were the Manhattanites around me, who I think were of the same mind as you...

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

No, I should have seen it coming, especially since no one has been more vocal about their terrible off-season than I have. But they made the Mathis and Boykin moves so late that it didn't register along with everything else totally. I really bought in on the idea of Agoholor being able to have a Mike Evans/Kelvin Benjamin level of rookie production. I believed the sports science might make their oft-injured players less of an issue (since they were so healthy in 2013 & 2014.)

I also didn't see how much McCoy was making Kelly's schemes look good as far as the running game is concerned. Watching Murray back there, it's just never going to work. It's not a question of it they bench him, but when. And then they'll be dealing with lock-room discord because a) that issue has plagued Kelly all along and b) Murray is already proving to be a vocal malcontent. But I had no real idea that Murray simply would not be functional in this offense.

I don't know, I just thought they would do that Chip Kelly thing of racking up yards and that would keep them afloat, but it's obvious there's a lot of garbage yards in there (DVOA has always thought so.) Also, I think the QB matter with squeezing out close wins and all you have to do is look at Sunday to see the difference between Foles and Bradford on that count.

But yeah, they're very close to being in contention for a Top 5 draft pick.

139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

I'm really curious what happens if they continue on this way. He made such a naked powerplay for control of the front office and this mess is so clearly 100% on his hands, that I just can't see how it plays out. By all accounts Lurie loves him and most people think he won't get fired if he goes as low as 6-10... but if he stays, he can't possibly be allowed to oversee another off-season, can he? And if he's not allowed to have total control, does he just walk?

So, if he sees changes in the front office/GM structure coming, does he get out early and just quit when they're 3-9 to go take a job at USC? If they're 1-7 what happens? I just have no idea - this off-season, everyone seemed to think Bill Davis' was on the hot-seat, but he can't possibly be a human shield for Kelly at this point, right?

145 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Not sure if he could get in USC, they're doing ok. Honestly, the Ducks might just take him back, they're not doing that great right now, but the boosters didn't like Kelly that much, and vice versa. He might also stay on the East Coast, since he's from there.

155 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

If he couldn't manage the booster relationships well at Oregon, where it means managing the relationship with Phil Knight, and the others being of secondary importance, he's gonna hate managing the relationsips with USC and Texas boosters, where they all think they are Phil Knight.

177 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

USC is way too blue blood to hire and put up with him, but he will definitely stay on the west coast where he has a strong recruiting base. i think he goes to a place where he take over an athletic department thats thirsty for a winner... Colorado just built facilities comparable to Oregon. Washington is another school thats a former western power where I could see him.

187 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

I think his recruiting base will travel just fine. Put him at a small-ish, private university like Syracuse, where the boosters (football division) aren't so overbearing, and he'd have that school winning again. Off the top of my head, teams like Boston College, Rutgers, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland would seem to be good fits.

198 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Are you sure he's a good recruiter, though? Wasn't some of his success at Oregon tied to the Nike recruiting violations? Granted, I don't know much about the subject, but I had always just assumed that since those violations are what caused him to run away from the college game, that they must have been meaningful...

201 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

No, I don't. He might not have been recruiting that much at all. I honestly have no idea.

I'm guessing going forward it will be good because he's a name-brand coach who runs an offense that I imagine would be very appealing to High Schoolers, with a good track record of getting guys in the NFL.

203 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Well, I know Rutgers is melting down into chaos, I'd be surprised if he elected to step into that mess, especially since he'll have his choice of opportunities. I wonder if there's a non-zero chance he gets fired and jumps to another NFL team. You think he's totally toxic at the pro level if this mess continues?

205 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

If Foles plays well and the Rams win 9 games, while Bradford plays poorly, and the Eagles win 6, I don't think any other owener trusts Kelly. If your qb talent judgement is seen as poor you can't get an NFL gig, especially if your orientation is offense.

208 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Oh, I think he'll never again get to be a GM even if this team rights the ship and goes 9-7. I wonder if he has any interest coming in with a clear role as HC and just implementing a scheme with the players he's given.

You're right. That sounds positively ridiculous when I write it out.

213 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

If your qb judgement is that poor (remember when we thought the Eagles had to be getting the draft value, before the reporting was clear, and we still didn't like the trade?), then the GM in charge is not going to want to have anything to do with you, most likely.

217 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Guys like Kelly who run a unique offense like that I assume would get another shot or two from desperate teams just like Martz did (though obviously Martz had impeccable taste in QBs). While as OC only the HC can inform him who will be starting at QB and you'd be hiring Kelly for his scheming, play-calling, and innovative practice techniques.

226 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

I used to think the Kelly sports science stuff was a great idea because the players' health is such a valuable commodity and taking care of that commodity is a really wise thing to do... but then all of the guys who you expected to get injured actually do get injured and it's just like "oh, this isn't about smart practices, you're just a control freak." It's just a weird variation not letting his QB's call audibles and trying to get the plays off before the helmet radios cut out at 20 seconds on the playclock (so the QB might try to read the defense without Kelly or Shurmer in his ear) or not having his WR's run from route trees. It's just an insistence on total control.

There's part of me that thinks Kelly would never in a million years be able to be a coordinator. Who knows what will happened if he gets humbled, though...

227 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

If you want a comparison for Chip Kelly, Steve Spurrier is the guy. Massive ego, operating under the assumption that everything that worked for him in the college game will work in the NFL, with the results that one would expect out of that. I mean, who can forget Spurrier's QB (Patrick Ramsey, right?) getting hit by 4 defenders when they only rushed 3? And that was before he completed his dropback.

236 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

I'll give you a nightmare. Imagine this:

Kelly told Lurie that the team was getting old, there was a lot of overpaid dross on the roster, and it had to be blown up - that he thought there might be one more good year left if they grabbed some strong vets, but the rebuild needed to happen. So, trade for a QB who's still young and you think can be built around, sign some veteran RBs who'll be gone when the new crop fills in, keep the fans coming to games, and do a rework.

So when the team bottoms out, Kelly goes ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and Lurie just accepts that the price of the rebuild came a year earlier than hoped, so Kelly gets to keep on his plan for a few more years.

239 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Gah - you're so right and I can already see this is the tact that Kelly apologists are going to take. There's someone arguing this in another thread. The problem with that idea and what makes it utter bullshit is that you don't go into a rebuild by maxing out your cap. When I checked last week, they were 12th in spending for 2016 and every single team spending more than them already had a highly paid QB on their roster (which they don't as Bradford's contract is up after 2015.) I've seen people argue that they can move on from some of their high-priced free agents relatively painlessly, but I truly don't see how they can get out of the Maxwell, Murray and Cooper deals before 2018 without it being a major issue. Peters is also on the books for a lot of money and he looks totally spent this year. You're going to have to ask some, if not all, of these guys to restructure and why would any of them want to do that? All of them but Cooper will have suitors elsewhere if they get cut and I imagine Murray and Maxwell would want to leave this city far behind as soon as possible.

Walter Thurmond, their only successful FA pick-up, is on a one-year deal. Other starters like Nolan Carroll and Cedric Thorton are also free agents next year. If they're trying to rebuild, they already screwed it up. Kelly's weak drafts in 2013 & 2014 definitely aren't helping anything. It's already a bad rebuild.

246 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

If Lurie buys that a rebuilding team ought to trade Foles and a lot of draft value to get Bradford, and Bradford's contract, then Lurie's methods have become....unsound.....and he has quite obviously gone insane, and needs his ownership terminated, terminated with extreme predjudice....

144 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

I would bet money on Texas; it's a high-profile program in disarray, there's loads of money, and it's a relatively easy conference where building a winning program should help restore his reputation pretty quickly.

154 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

I wouldn't call it an easy conference, necessarily; TCU and Baylor finished #5 and #6 last year, are both in the top four this year, and Oklahoma is in the top five of many of the computer rankings.

It's also a conference that already uses a lot of the offensive principles Kelly brought to Oregon, so it's not like he'd be bringing a ton of innovation along with him

47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Barbre? Alan Barbre? The guy out of Notre Dame? Someone thought he could be a starting offensive lineman in the NFL for a team with divisional title aspirations?

I guess Philly doesn't think blocking matters in which case Barbre should be a good fit.

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Didn't he play for some random school in Missouri?

As I recall during his tenure with the Packers, he had the athletic ability, but was so dumb that when the live bullets started flying, it overwhelmed his pea brain and he was rendered non-functional.

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

They got rid of 2 of their starting offensive linemen and replaced them with... a guy that couldn't make the team last year.

Both starting guards on opening day were on the Eagles last year. Barbre got hurt in week 1, Gardner started eight games. Barbre looked fine when he did play in 2013, to replace Herremans with him was fine. Gardner though, bleh.

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Both starting guards on opening day were on the Eagles last year.

Exactly. Which is what I said.

Look at the offensive line as a whole. They got rid of Mathis and Herremans, and replaced them with their backups. OK, that's fine. So they think that those guys would be ready to step up.

That means that in 2015, they had 2 starter-level or near-starter-level backups. So to keep the line at the same level, you need to get 2 starter-level backups. Who did they get? Josh Andrews. Who was cut last year before the season started, and signed by no one.

There is no way to view the 2015 OL for the Eagles as anything but a downgrade. They didn't draft anyone new. They didn't sign anyone new. All they did is lose 2 guys who were good enough to beat out the guys that are now playing. Again, even if you think Barbre and Gardner are equal to Herremans and Mathis, that means their depth has been completely gutted.

14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

The o-line has been an issue since Kelly took over - back in 2012, these guys were getting old and Kelly has consistently done NOTHING to address it. Getting rid of Herremans or Mathis was going to be necessary sooner rather than later, it's just that Kelly's plan for what to do after they left was worthless. I mean, you could see this coming, they're basically starting the same o-line that got dominated by Washington and SF early last season (where this year's starters were pressed into service from their back-up roles.)

And like every position on this team, there's no depth. When Peters goes down, there's nobody there to plausibly replace him. And a guy like Tobin certainly isn't the kind of versatile "across the line" player that they lost in Herremans.

(Also it's funny that the FO commentators are surprised by the lateral east/west focus of this offense - have they never seen a Chip Kelly game or heard a single press conference where he goes on and on about the field being 53.5 yards wide as well?)

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Are we sure it's not the teams Philly has played? The Jets and Skins are in the top five for defensive yards against, and the Giants front seven looked nasty today on the road against a decent team. The Falcons are the only one that has a weak defense, and honestly, they aren't that bad on that side of the ball.

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Eagles haven't played the Giants. They played the Cowboys. Also, look at their run yards and ypc. Even playing a handful of good defenses, the numbers are awful.

(And they were ok vs. the Jets. Honestly, DeMarco Murray's total mediocrity is as much the problem as anything. Mathews is no world beater, but he at least has the acceleration to get to the edge and the agility to make a guy miss. Murray is just going to get hammered for losses over and over and there's no clear way to improve.

R-E-L-A-X, eagles fans!)

41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Well, I think Bardford's 118 yards passing is a testament to the Jets defense. And his 3 long TD's yesterday a testament to the poor Redskins secondary. But I've watched every game and their failures in the running game are consistent - they have looked bad in the exact. same. way. every. game. every. play. The only difference was the acceleration of Mathews versus the Jets allowed him to get to the outside occasionally...

51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Once we get full opponent adjustments, it's gonna be fun to see the difference between Foles and Bradford yesterday, and let's face it; any defense of Chip Kelly is going to have avoid the shoals of the Bradford trade. It's kinda' like trying to defend the captain of the Titanic; in the end the ship was sailed into an iceberg.

59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

What kills me is that you look at Reid's final draft in 2012 and it's the starter package for a winning team, it's a bunch of guys who have been extremely productive:

Fletcher Cox (All-Pro)
Mychal Kendricks (Pro Bowl caliber LB)
Nick Foles (NFL-claiber QB with high, proven upside)
Vinny Curry (9 sacks in 2014)
Brandon Boykin (Top nickel CB, likely starter-caliber)
Dennis Kelly (serviceable back-up o-lineman)
Bryce Brown (serviceable back-up RB)

I mean, that it, that's the groundwork for a team right there (especially a defense) and Kelly could have ALL OF THEM right now on their rookie contracts. Instead, the worst one (Kelly) and the best one (Cox) are the only ones that might play on Sunday and Kendricks (who is injured) is the only one with a longterm contract. If you immediately infused that talent onto the Texans or the Dolphins, they'd be a Top 10 team and a likely playoff contender - and they could all be had for cheap. they all could still be on their rookie contracts!

I mean, Reid gift-wrapped him an excellent draft and he botched it.

70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Yeah, even if Foles' baseline is "ranked somewhere between 12 and 19th in DVOA," that's a HUGE draft. If you had draft that good two years in a row (at different positions), you'd have very legit Superbowl aspirations.

83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

It's not his fault the coaches in Pittsburgh are clueless when it comes to the secondary. FO and PFF both have rated him as a top nickel CB.

(I've only watched two Steelers game - one he didn't play in and the Steelers were a bunch of bumbling idiots who could've used his help. In the other one, he didn't get beat on anything I can recall - and I was only watching the game to see how he'd do. Not sure what the Pittsburgh complaint about him might be.)

91 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

"Boykin, on this next play, we want you to not cover anybody."
"Excuse me, coach?"
"I want you to stare at the LB closet to you and let the start of the play catch you off guard."
"But what do I do on the play?"
"Hole in a zone needs covering."

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Matthews also forced a bunch of missed tackles, mostly from Demario Davis, who also couldn't cover him on the touchdown catch. Matthews first big run was off-tackle, but not completely outside, and Matthews ran through Davis to set up their first field goal. The thing about the Jets defense that works is that their 4th and 5th corners were their starters last year, and honestly, Marcus Williams might be better than Cromartie right now. You have to run on the Jets right unless you have Rodgers or Brady, which proves how stupid the Dolphins' game plan against the Jets really was.

100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Yeah, Murray not having any elusiveness is just killing the running game. For some reason there's always a free tackler in this scheme and you've either got to make him miss or beat him to the edge (or I suppose run through the tackle, but it's usually a DE coming free, so good luck with that.) Mathews & Sproles can do that occasionally, Murray cannot.

Will say in general that the Jets tackling is surprisingly sloppy - on the Sproles return TD three different guys probably should have made the tackle and yesterday there was another similar punt return where the guy should have been taken down much earlier. It's not AS pronounced on defense as special teams, but it's there.

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

I couldn't get a ticket for the London game, and it's money well saved. Miami were beyond awful, and looking like a legitimate 1st pick contender. I don't watch any college ball and Miami need any or all of OL, DL, LB, CB & FS; who's in the frame?

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

They'll be more fun once Geno replaces Fitz, simply because Geno is ridiculously variable, the only guy right now capable of posting a zero passer rating and a perfect one in the same season. Not saying they will be better, but more absurd.

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Oh, I don't WANT them to be more exciting - I think Bowles is being (somewhat) smart and trying to make this offense as consistent and low-variance as possible. When it isn't clicking, it looks like the Eagles game, where the lack of urgency and variation was just astounding. When it works, it looks like the Dolphins game, where the lack of urgency and variation is a sedative.

87 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

I'm not sure the Jets coaching staff know what they have in their offense right now, other than Ivory. They really want to run the ball, but I'm not sure if they are forced to go to Geno, that they won't run a lot, and then play action into deep throws and not so much the middle stuff. They realize Fitz can't hit the deep throws very much, but they need defenses to back off for the bread and butter, the runs and short slants to Decker and Marshall, so they do the deep throws every once in a while.

167 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

The thing is, Fitz can really nail those deep outs to Marshall and mid-range crossing routes to Decker, which means the safeties can't really choke up so hard on them. It's not like Fitzpatrick can only throw the ball an Alex Smith/Sam Bradford-type distance 0 he's very good at the mid-range stuff about 12 to 20 yards down the field. And (with the WR's) is good enough to burn an enthusiastic safety on corner route or a double-move where the ball only travels 25 yards in the air.

His deep ball is worthless, though, that is correct. And to me his biggest issue is his love of forcing the ball into double-coverage on Marshall.

46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Carlson was excellent, funny and insightful as always.

Osi was good until he tried to claim that coaches don't lose the locker room. Hmmm ... I guess we'll see whether the Dolphins come out and play the same mediocre level in two weeks under Dan Campbell.

"Utter gash" ... tremendous phrase :-)

17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Walter Football has Connor Cook going first in next year's draft, but then there's the Ole Miss tackle who isn't playing, Joey Bosa, Jared Goff who probably is the best quarterback, and maybe Ronnie Stanley at Notre Dame. If the Fins do get the first pick (I doubt it, but they did lose to Jacksonville), they should ransom it off to a quarterback needy team. I blame Tannehill very little for this mess.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Tannehill's not the problem in Miami, so I can't imagine them taking a QB, but if the rest of the league know that it's difficult to imagine a Rams type trade.
Of course, none of that matters unless someone halfway competent is picking the players and then coaching them up...

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

As far as good quarterback prospects go, there really only is Goff. So if the Fins get the first pick (again, I doubt it), there will be a competition to draft Goff between teams, so the fact that the Dolphins aren't going to draft him won't drive the price down that much. They could just stay there and draft a left tackle.

143 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

The Lions are on-target for the top pick. Now, I don't think they're the worst team in the league, but their remaining schedule is brutal. They still have:

Seattle (tonight)
Green Bay x2
Arizona
St. Louis
Minnesota
Kansas City (who I think is better than their record, they just had a brutal schedule, too)

The only games they are likely to win are Chicago (at home, the road game in Chicago is 50-50 at this point, Oakland at home, and SF at home. Eagles at home is probably another 50-50 game.

146 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Wow - with the last two games on their schedule (SF and the Bears) they're really going to control their own destiny in regards to the top pick in the draft! Hell, they even play the Saints the week before that, who I think will be in strong contention for a top pick, too!

You might see one of the most blatant tanks in recent memory there if they're coming in at 3-10 or something...

234 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Not only were the writing and insight better, but his wine comments far outweighed reviews of airport Starbucks....
I never met the man, but still think of him as kind of an uncle, or maybe that guy who coached my older brothers' teams and who knew me as a 5 year-old (which is why I was called Bobby throughout high school by anyone connected with the athletic dept, but that's another story).

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Vikings Broncos was a typical 3 point NFL game, in that the most random events can make a huge difference. On Hillman's sweet 72 yard run......

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MspNtelRkA

.....Owen Daniels holds Terrence Newman, which is why Hillman get a clear, untouched lane down the sidelines. That hold is called at least 50% of the time, probably more like 75% of the time, because it is so easy to see. The replay camera angle shows it best, and is the one that best replicates the view of a referee.

In any case, if anybody doubted whether the Vikings should go all in on Bridgewater, this game should end those questions. I know they didn't plan on Clemmings playing a lot this year, they are playing with their back-up center, but they have not used enough draft value on offensive linemen. Than goodness Kalil has rebounded somewhat; absent that, it would be an unsalvageable situtation.

The Viking are going to be a lot more formidable at home, simply because their very bad o-line will function better at home, and their pass rushers, who are pretty good, will make more things more miserable for opposing qbs with the home crowd helping. They desperately need to get 2 or 3 road wins, however, and I think they are going to greatly regret not showing up in San Jose in the late Monday Night opener, and not making one or two more plays yesterday.

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Every time I'm about to say Bridgewater just doesn't have the arm to be good, he makes a throw that impresses me, even under pressure, when the forced lack of mechanics should prevent him from doing so. If they can keep him healthy, and don't make him play like Andrew Luck, throwing vertical 40 times a game, he can be a consistent top 10 guy, because he just flat plays cool and smart. Again, they need to adopt the first commandment of Joe Gibbs Football, the quarterback will be made to feel comfortable in the pocket.

102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

What I noticed, without having seen much of Vikings games the last two years, was how much he has to wind up to get some zip on the ball. Reminded me of Ken Dorsey (or maybe it was one of those other nondescript Heisman winning QBs who were non-prospects for the NFL in the last 20 years) who had to really wind up just to throw a short out route. Hopefully the coaching staff can find other ways for him to get some zing on the ball because I think the rest of his game could give the Vikes a playoff caliber QB.

112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Chad Pennington was pretty amazing when healthy. I don't think anyone's worst-case scenario coming out of the draft is Chad Pennington.

That said, I think you're onto something - Bridgewater had a higher floor than a lot of QBs coming out of college.

123 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Yeah, I'd his best case scenario is Chad Pennington and he has been nowhere near that good yet. I agree Bridgewater's floor in not as low as most college QB's but he's hit it on more than a few occasions - it's a matter of seeing how consistently he can rise above it...

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Yeah have to be careful with those worst case scenarios. Worst case for Bridgewater would be like Ken Dorsey where he was just too noodle armed to pass in the NFL, or Shane Matthews where he could kind of play but was severely limited.

237 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

I don't know - Matt Cassel is a serviceable NFL starter. That's actually a really high floor for a QB.

The real floor for just about every quarterback - even "can't miss" ones, like Andrew Luck - is almost certainly lower than what the worst league backup is.

251 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

When I say worst case scenario, I'm throwing out injury-type risks, which can happen to anybody...I mean more, "we have a range on these skills, and what happens if he hits the our low end on them".

I know there was a lot of worry about Teddy's arm strength, but I didn't really see it...and I thought he was intelligent enough that if he didn't really progress much, he'd still be a competent distributor who could run an offense.

Maybe I'm misremembering/underestimating Pennington's arm strength.

255 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Pennington's arm strength was ok when he entered the league. Defenses could bait him into throwing the deep out, and maybe cause problems that way, but his deep ball was pretty and accurate, and anything short wasn't a problem at all. Honestly, his deep outs might have been fine, I just remember Romanowski picking him off in the 2002 playoff loss. Once he hurt his shoulder, his arm strength became a problem. If the Vikings can build a line to protect Teddy, he should be fine.

266 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Thing is, Pennington's actual scenario is full of injuries. By saying Bridgewater's worst case is Pennington, and throwing out injury risk, you're saying that Bridgewater's worst case is a borderline Hall of Famer.

What I'm saying is that the worst case for just about every QB drafted is "unplayable". Overestimating worst-case scenarios seems far too common, even on this site's really intelligent comment section.

268 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

I get what you're saying. Now I'm curious what QBs you think had a worst-case scenario above "unplayable". For example, what about Luck? Do you think Andrew Luck had a worst-case scenario of unplayable?

I guess what I'm saying is I thought Bridgewater had a "complete bust" chance about as low as Luck's, but of course his overall probability curve (read: ceiling) is much lower.

And, to continue the general congeniality of your last statement, I'll also say that this site's comment section is really intelligent, and that you're a fine person Eddo.

270 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

That's a good question. Given Luck's risk tolerance, perhaps even his was below unplayable.

Peyton Manning's an example. Probably Carson Palmer. I think you see more high-floor QBs taken a little later than top of the draft, though, and Bridgewater is certainly a relatively high-floor QB.

249 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

I really enjoy how well-regarded Chad Pennington is around here. I respected the hell out of him, and I'm glad I'm not the only one.

One of the worst shows NFL Films ever produced was the one about the QBs drafted ahead of Tom Brady. I was really excited about it, but instead of telling us about what the coaches saw in each of those guys, they just made it a hagiography of #12. The worst part was when they got to Pennington, and all they talked about was his injuries, and how many games Brady started while Pennington was on IR.

That tells me absolutely nothing of value. Everyone knows that Brady is an all-time great - how about telling us about the unpredictable nature of the draft and the limited information scouts are working with?

256 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

I actually liked that show. I never really thought about Brady much as a human being until I saw that. The part about him crying because he let down his parents because he wasn't getting drafted... I don't know, it just moved me, and made it hard for me to root against him. As a Jets fan, I already knew a lot about Pennington, so him being minimized didn't matter as much to me, I was just glad to see footage of him. Perhaps they weren't as fair to Pennington as the Elway to Marino doc was about Ken O'Brien, but I still appreciated that one.

25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Perhaps that was a hold, but its negated by the very questionable Talib holding call that kept a critical Minnesota drive alive. If that play is holding, then there should be a flag for defensive holding on every play.

37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

What Daniels did was hold, period. It's not debatable. He has his hand grasping the jersey/ shoulder pad, on the defensive players back, preventing Newman from turning towards the ball, giving Hillman a chance to run unimpeded down the sideline. You may be correct on the defensive play, but that just underscores my point, that in a close game like this, very random events typically determine the winner. That's why I say we'll never see great teams again like we did pre salary cap, where several champions won 3 playoff games which were made noncompetitive by half time. Any champion which won a close playoff game easily could have missed hoisting the trophy, absent a tiny bit of dumb bad luck.

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

You just need to hope things even out when it comes to officiating and over the course of a season they probably do, but not always during a game.

I can understand your frustration on that play, but if Denver had lost I'd be just as frustrated by poor calls/non-calls that went against them.
1. The hold on Talib that at the time was a turning point in the game.
2. The offensive holding against Ware while Bridgewater was in the end-zone that should have been a safety.
3. The OL arc calls referenced above that stalled two drives.

I'm sure there are other calls you can recite, but I'd say the bad calls collectively were about even. I do get your point though, there are so many random events that can effect games that lead to the best team not winning.

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Well, in most close games it is hard to say which team is best, which is kind of my point; a game like Broncos-Vikings yesterday really is essentially a tie. This gets at the truth that a stomp of a poor team can be more indicative of team's quality than a close win over a good team. Of course, the greatest teams, like the pre salary cap champs I mentioned ('91 Washington, '89,'84 Niners, '85 Bears, maybe '86 Giants) tend to stomp the hell out of good teams as well. I just don't think we'll ever see teams like that anymore, which I kind of prefer, to tel the truth. Blowout playoff games are kind of boring.

56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

All I saw of that game was Minnesota's last drive, and it left me thinking there's no way he'll be successful (obviously it's just one series in a tough spot - I don't mean to assert my impression was in any way accurate).

I know the protection was not good, but on the last two plays he showed zero pocket presence or awareness of where the rush was coming from.

67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

He was also doing the correct thing off keeping his eyes down the field and attempting to get a meaningful play off instead of a dump-off, it wasn't like he stared down the rush and crumpled up or immediately looked to chuck the ball 4 yards to the RB when he didn't recognize the coverage. Compare what he did to Sam Bradford on the Eagles final drive (an almost identical situation) and you can easily see the difference in pocket awareness and football intelligence even if both drives ended in failure.

119 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

I like Bridgewater a lot (even as a Bears fan), but I don't think I agree with this assessment (Bradford aside).

The Vikings were facing second-and-ten, at their own 42, needed a field goal to tie, and still had a timeout left. The absolute worst possible outcome, turnover aside, is a sack. A four-yard dumpoff isn't great, but throwing the ball away there is perfectly fine. It was really poor pocket presence from a QB that I've seen show much better poise.

134 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

I'd have to go back and look, but I couldn't tell you who, if anyone, was running a 4-ish yard pressure valve route for Bridgewater at the end there. Regardless, he had Broncos jerseys in his face for much of the game.

Overall (and I am a generally neutral or pessimistic Vikes fan), I am fairly bullish on Bridgewater as a long-term QB for the Vikes. But they need to spend at least half of the next draft on each line, especially the O-line.

What pleased me about this one - even though the Vikes lost (I assumed it would be a more definitive loss) - was the fact that Bridgewater appeared more of a QB, and less of a 'game manager'. Up to now, he was looking like a 2nd-year regression.

197 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Peterson was supposed to be blocking and acknowledged that he blew his responsibility after the game. Phillips confused the Vikings running backs and tight ends, with regard to blocking, even more than the o-linemen.

202 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Don't doubt it at all - there was just a question on if there were any dump-offs available on the play so I went back to check the reality against my memory and there were indeed two dump-offs available. Even if Bridgewater doesn't expect Peterson to be open in the flat, he's ignoring #19 going short across the middle (the 4 yard dump-off I was initially referring to.) #19 would've definitely been tackled immediately, keeping the clock running and hurting the drive more than helping it. In fact, throwing the ball to the underneath dump-off is likely what the defense was trying to bait Bridgewater into...

124 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Pocket presence was pretty irrelevant on that last drive; on the strip sack, the RT didn't even slow Vonn Miller down. He basically got a six-yard dash to the QB, and there wasn't anything Bridgewater was going to be able to do there.

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Cortez Kennedy is probably the greatest defender on a bad TEAM I can think of. Certainly, he made more of an impact for improving bad defense than Watt this year (is he hurt this year? seriously, he's barely factor) or Sanders in Atlanta (who teams just stayed away from) those examples that Vince mentions.

31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Cortez Kennedy had the one DPOY season, but I think Dick Butkus (0 playoff appearances) has the career Greatest Defender on a Bad Team title.

Nnamdi Asomugha had the Great Defender, Bad Defensive Team reputation, but then went to Philly and his career cratered, and I'm not sure if that's caused people to reassess his Oakland performance.

35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Nnamdi's reputation was always based as much on the fact that no one threw at him, and I think after the move to Philadelphia the CW became "He was better than Chris Johnson" rather than "He was good and coordinators were scared."

Still, watching him in Oakland he looked pretty legitimate, so I think a lot of what happened in Philadelphia was awful scheme fit and, more important, losing a step of speed he couldn't afford to lose.

39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Well, what I saw in Philly was that when teams started throwing at him, it was revealed he had ZERO ball skills. Seriously, he'd be in perfect, perfect, perfect coverage and then the pass would somehow end up complete, just go straight past him. Once teams started to see that (the division rivals in particular) they would go right at him. He also got blamed for a lot of Nate Allen failures where he was the only player on the tv screen on a long completion (even though he wasn't in coverage) because Nate Allen had screwed up.

50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

In Oakland, Scrabble worked hard for about three years before finally having a breakout year and being recognised as a decent corner. His ball skills were pretty terrible but that's not surprising given that he was an Al Davis size&speed pick.

The Raiders system was man-to-man and I think he played the left side and always lined up against whichever receiver was on that side of the field. He never switched around or matched up against the opposition's #1 guy.

Consequently opposing teams then found that there were easier pickings elsewhere on the defense e.g. DeAngelo Hall for the first 8 games of 2008.

Opponents would line their best receiver up on the right side of the field which is easier for a right handed QB to read and throw to. Plus the Raiders run defense was terrible.

Most games the Raiders would fall behind and the opponents could get away with playing conservative offense, running the ball and clock and then punting knowing that the inept Oakland offense wouldn't be able to score points.

Point is, teams just never NEEDED to throw the ball at Scrabble to Asomughua.

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Oh man, he was great. I didn't have season tickets, but I'd still go to a few Eagles' games every year when I was kid and we could always go see the Cardinals. He and Larry Centers were the only thing worth watching on those early 90's teams. Ricky Proehl also played for them - I can remember being stunned when he turned up 100 years later on the Colts.

104 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Rodney Harrison in the second half of the decade. There was a small amount of offensive talent on the super bowl team (Tony Martin & Natrone Means, basically).

Still, Seau led the team in AV nine seasons in a row!

The Chargers have had five outstanding, long-serving players – Alworth, Fouts, Seau, Tomlinson and Rivers – whose careers overlapped just about as little as possible.

125 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 4

Butkus was great for some crappy teams, but there was some pretty good defensive talent around him. Doug Buffone had a 13 year career (and a lot of old timers claim he is the most underrated Bear). Doug Atkins was an 8 time probowler and all-pro one year. Richie Pettibon was a 4 time pro-bowler and also named all-pro once.