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

Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Audibles at the Line: Week 1
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 tune 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 emails 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 solely 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.

Cleveland Browns 10 at Philadelphia Eagles 29

Bryan Knowles: Carson Wentz is looking pretty good in his first NFL action. 4-for-5 for 57 yards on his first drive, including a perfectly thrown ball to Jordan Matthews for the touchdown. Not a bad debut, there.

Andrew Potter: Jordan Matthews roasted Tramon Williams on that touchdown. Williams gave Matthews a 5-yard cushion and was still beaten over the top, barely even getting a touch on the receiver as he went deep.

Cian Fahey: Hue Jackson just used a speed option where Robert Griffin had two options to pitch to on third-and-long at the end of the first drive. It didn't work but clear that Griffin isn't going to be protected in Cleveland.

I don't recognize this Hue Jackson. He's calling a scared game and just used this formation to run a sweep that lost yards on fourth-and-5 in his own territory. Yeah, that's the punter at tight end and a running back in the backfield.

The Eagles-Browns game is quite clearly a battle between two bad teams. Carson Wentz and Robert Griffin have both played OK. Griffin needs to show off better accuracy though -- he's missed guys too often, although some of his accurate throws have also been drops. His two huge gainers, one to Corey Coleman and one to Terrelle Pryor, were thrown up in hope rather than with precision.

Bryan Knowles: And the Browns just snap the ball over Griffin's head, leading to a safety.

This has not been what Hue Jackson has been hoping for in his Cleveland debut, I'm thinking.

Ben Muth: Robert Griffin has been bad today. Inaccurate on anything over 8 yards down the field (including overthrowing Andrew Hawkins on what should've been a touchdown). To top it off he lowered his shoulder on a run to the sideline and looks like he hurt his non-throwing arm. He stayed in one play (a pass that was high and behind the receiver that would've picked up a first down) but now Josh McCown is warming up.

Cincinnati Bengals 23 at New York Jets 22

Aaron Schatz: I'm interested to hear if kickers around the league try short kicks to drop it in front of the 25 and get a short return, or do they just launch it and accept that a touchback will go to the 25? Nick Folk just launched it on the first kickoff for the Jets.

Andrew Potter: It'll probably depend on the kicker and situation. Kickoff specialist Jordan Gay dropped the opening kickoff for the Bills almost exactly on the 1-yard line, forcing Devin Hester to return the kick. Hester only got to the 14.

Aaron Schatz: Happy to say that even with Hue Jackson out of town, the Emory and Henry has not disappeared from Cincinnati's offense.

So far this year, Russell Bodine has given up a sack to Steve McClendon and a pass pressure by Leonard Williams that hurried Andy Dalton into an underthrown interception. He's getting killed by the Jets' defensive line today and they don't even have Sheldon Richardson in there.

Darrelle Revis got beat by A.J. Green deep on a 54-yard touchdown, which had a lot of commenters on Twitter saying that Revis Island is over and nobody is scared of the Jets secondary anymore. Replays showed clearly that Revis didn't follow Green at full speed because he expected deep help, and Marcus Gilchrist was waving his arms at Marcus Williams, probably screaming for him to get back. Forget National Jump to Conclusions Week, that was National Jump to Conclusions on a Single Play. Revis is no longer the player he was four years ago, but there's a middle ground between "the greatest" and "just another guy." Actually, there are a lot of middle grounds between those two things.

Random thought: Seems like a lot of teams have decided to wear white at home today, I wonder if that will continue all season. The Jaguars are wearing white at home, the Titans are, and the Jets are. The Rams are planning on it all year, I believe. I think the last few years, the only team to regularly wear white at home was Dallas.

Bryan Knowles: Well, the Jaguars wearing white is probably because it's 100 flippin' degrees out there. I was wondering if that might explain some of the lack of extended drives in that game early on, but that's kind of evened itself out. Most entertaining game of the day so far down in Jacksonville.

Aaron Schatz: Yeah, I guess this maybe is something more teams do early in the year, but I still don't remember it quite this much. The Saints and Texans are also wearing white at home today, and they can't even blame the early-season heat. (I'm assuming Houston has the roof closed, because they generally have it closed early in the year.)

Bryan Knowles: Houston's roof is indeed closed.

Vince Verhei: San Diego and Carolina have both gone all-white in home games against Seattle in recent years.

Aaron Schatz: The Bengals have one of the top five offensive lines in the league and the Jets' defensive front was just dominating them all game... Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard had combined for just seven carries for 20 yards. Then just now, they finally made a nice hole, Clint Boling got out for a second-level block on David Harris, and Hill sauntered in, barely touched, for a 12-yard touchdown. 20-16 Cincinnati.

Scott Kacsmar: Three certainties in life: death, taxes, and Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing an interception on a game-winning drive opportunity. It was a desperate situation, but he still had another down to spare and only needed a field goal.

Aaron Schatz: Just a couple of final thoughts about this game. Though I'm sure Rob Weintraub is out there with his own thoughts on this one.

Like I wrote earlier, it doesn't make sense to declare the end of Darrelle Revis' career based on a single A.J. Green catch, or two of them, or even one game. But he didn't have a great day today, certainly. Green was catching a lot of passes. When a great receiver plays a great cornerback, it should be a draw. This was not a draw. But it also wasn't Revis getting abused by Brandon LaFell or something.

I thought the Bengals made a couple of mistakes on the last drive that would cost them the game, but it ended up not. Adam Jones took out the kickoff from the end zone and ended up getting tackled at the 15. I think that the new touchback rule suggests that no return man should ever take the ball out of the end zone unless his team is down significantly in the second half and needs a high-risk/high-reward play. An average return is going to just get you around the 25, and at least taking the knee in the end zone means there's no risk of a fumble.

Then the Bengals marched downfield on short passes and a face mask penalty on Marcus Gilchrist. They get to the Jets 37 and go with two running plays against the Jets front that was just killing them all game. I don't know if those were actual read-option plays where Andy Dalton made the wrong read and Jeremy Hill got crushed, or if they were definite handoffs -- in which case Dalton should have seen the Jets lined up to stop the run and he should have audibled into some sort of short pass. Anyway, Hill got crushed, lost 3 yards on two runs, for third-and-13. The Bengals got away with it when Dalton hit Green for 11 yards -- getting past Revis, yes -- and then Mike Nugent hit a 47-yard field goal to win it.

Yeah, can't blame that Jets defensive line for this loss though. They were awesome all day. The Bengals were just slightly better all-around.

Rob Weintraub: Believe it or not I didn't watch the game live -- we're at the beach this week, so instead of having palpitations over the tight game I was tossing footballs in the sand with my son. There is life outside of NFL obsession after all!

Zipped through some highlights and the coverage since. As I noted in FOA, A.J. Green will have to shoulder more of the burden this season due to the loss of Jones/Sanu/EifertForNow, and he sure can handle the weight. Green caught 12 of 13 targets -- can't do much better than that. Yes, Revis isn't the player he was in his prime -- shocker! -- but most of what I saw was pure Green brilliance, not Revis screwups.

I actually had a premonition Josh Shaw would make a big play in the game (sounds crazy, I know, but it was a long offseason...), and sure enough, Fitzy put one right in his chops for the game-sealing interception. Wouldn't be at all surprised if the Bengals let Kirkpatrick walk after the season and go with Pac/Dennard/Shaw plus William Jackson when he's healthy and ready.

Looks like the Jets did a good job spreading out the Bengals defense and then running on their nickel package, which was essentially Cincy's base today. That was smart gameplanning with Vontaze Burfict out of there, and worked effectively. Matt Forte got a heavy workload (22 carries, seven targets) as a result, though given the investment I guess I'm not surprised the Jets didn't ease him in.

Cincy's running attack -- not so canny. Why they insist on running Jeremy Hill on shotgun handoffs that have him moving horizontally I don't understand. I know the shotgun look is playing to Dalton's reading defense strength, and with the Jets pass rush so ferocious today Dalton needed every extra split-second. But it defeats Hill's ability to bang out tough yards (his touchdown run notwithstanding).

Bodine, as mentioned, continues to be a negative. Leonard Williams lined up over him often and ate his lunch. From what I saw, though, after a tough start Cedric Ogbuehi settled in in his first NFL start (and with a bad toe) against (usually) Mo Wilkerson, not exactly a welcome first test. Not sure they will see a pass rush that tough again this season, but some work remains to be done along the offensive line. Seven sacks is the most times Dalton has gone down in his career. But a first look seemed to indicate the latter few were more the result of receivers not being open than immediate whipping up front.

Give Red some credit -- he hung in there and delivered despite the beating. Dalton's athleticism and toughness are underrated.

There was a Margus Hunt sighting! Actually a couple -- he blocked an early field goal (which was his forte in college) and deflected a pass. Baby steps...

For what it's worth, this was Cincy's seventh straight opener on the road. They've won the last three. Dalton and Green have never opened the season at home.

I know this is just week one but I wouldn't be shocked if today's 1-point win vaults Cincy past the Jets come wild-card tiebreaker time...

Green Bay Packers 27 at Jacksonville Jaguars 23

Vince Verhei: Jaguars' first drive ends in an interception when Blake Bortles throws behind Marqise Lee. The ball bounces off Lee's hands and eventually Joe Thomas pulls it in. Packers then drive 29 yards for a touchdown, with Eddie Lacy converting a fourth-and-1 at the 20 (bit of a ballsy call there) and Aaron Rodgers scrambling 6 yards for the score. 7-0 GB.

The teams trade punts, then Jaguars even things up on a 5-yard T.J. Yeldon run. Big play on the drive was a sweet play-action throwback tight end screen to Marcedes Lewis. Packers were fooled so badly that Lewis and two blockers in front of him were all rumbling downfield most of the way.

On Green Bay's ensuing drive, Rodgers goes deep downfield on third down, but Davante Adams drops the ball. So he's in midseason form.

Jaguars take a 10-7 lead on a field goal on a 12-play, 45-yard drive, the first sustained drive for either team in the game. That included a conversion on fourth-and-5 just across midfield, a very aggressive call. They picked it up on a Bortles pass to Allen Robinson.

Bryan Knowles: Aaron Rodgers just was amazing. Jalen Ramsey came untouched, wrapped around Rodgers, and was about to bring him down -- and somehow, Rodgers flings it 30 yards and hits Davante Adams perfectly for a contested touchdown pass. Magic.

Vince Verhei: For a long time here, Green Bay's offense looked every bit as bad as it had at the end of last year -- they followed their short touchdown drive (and even that required a fourth-down conversion) with three straight three-and-outs. Then they put together back-to-back 75-yard touchdown drives and lead 21-17 at halftime. Bryan noted Rodgers' amazing throw on that last touchdown, but let's give all credit to Adams, who had to pull the ball away from the defender in tight coverage for the score.

Bryan Knowles: You don't want to fall too much victim to Jump to Conclusions Week, but the Jaguars are hanging with the Packers through a half. Blake Bortles had an early interception, but he has bounced back pretty well -- and he's not forcing it, scanning through his reads quite nicely.

That being said, if they can't generate SOME kind of pass rush in the second half, the Packers are going to eventually pull away with this thing. It's not just that Rodgers hasn't been sacked; it's that neither Dante Fowler nor Yannick Ngakoue have done much of anything around the edges. Rodgers and company are looking sharp, further proving the uselessness of the preseason; Green Bay's starting offense only played together for a brief bit of one game.

Aaron Schatz: The trick to avoiding National Jump to Conclusions Week is to treat it as one game. You learn from Week 1, but in the way you learn from any one game. Maybe a little bit more because it's your first chance to really see teams use their new schemes, or to see new sets of teammates.

Vince Verhei: The Jaguars are hanging around, and if they come back and pull this out, Green Bay's red zone woes will have a lot to do with it. Their first two drives of the first half covered 68 and 73 yards, but ended in field goals of 25 and 20 yards. The Jaguars are getting pressure, but Aaron Rodgers is so good at evading the rush while keeping his eyes downfield to make plays. Jags now have the ball down 27-20 with about 12 minutes to go.

Carl Yedor: Wonder who's to blame for JAC not getting to the line in time twice in one set of downs, simultaneously costing them their final two timeouts to avoid a delay of game. But Bortles to Robinson keeps the Jaguars' drive alive after all that.

And as soon as I say that, the play clock runs out on Jacksonville AGAIN and they end up having to settle for a field goal to cut the deficit to four.

Vince Verhei: Jags are hanging by a thread now, but they're still alive, kicking a field goal to make it 27-23 GB with a little more than 5 minutes to go. They kind of put all their eggs in one basket on that drive, converting a fourth-and-4 at the 49 and a fourth-and-3 at the 48, two downs that would have been automatic kicks in prior seasons. Failures on either play would have given Green Bay a 7-point lead and possession in good field position. A third-down sack pretty much forced Jacksonville's hand at the end there, but somehow they're still in this thing.

And the Packers futz away their next drive. They call timeout on third-and-4 to delay of game, then come back after the timeout and get a delay of game anyway. The third-and-9 pass is incomplete and Jacksonville gets the ball back, down four, with more than 3 minutes to go.

Aaron Schatz: I'm so proud of Vince for using the word futz. I'm just kvelling over here.

Bryan Knowles: Bortles overthrows his man, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix comes up with the interception, and the game is...not over! A GB holding penalty extends the game, and somehow, Jacksonville is still alive.

I don't know how you run a screen short of the first down marker on fourth-and-game. The Jags complete the pass, but the Packers swarm Allan Hurns behind the line of scrimmage, and the game's over. Jacksonville was dodging bullets on that last drive with the waved-off interception, a bouncing second-effort catch by Allen Robinson, and a near-touchdown toss, but they finally fall short 27-23.

Vince Verhei: It was looking like the football gods were just determined that Jacksonville would win this game. They converted a fourth-and-14 on a Morgan Burnett defensive holding call, then got the ultimate example of fumble luck. Allen Robinson gained 22 yards on a reception, but then fumbled the ball straight up into the air. The ball went up and came down through the arms of a Green Bay defender and landed on Robinson, who was on his back. At that point I figured this comeback was just meant to be, but when the Jaguars came up with a fourth-and-1, they tried a quick screen to Allen Hurns, and the play lost a yard, and that was that.

Chicago Bears 14 at Houston Texans 23

Scott Kacsmar: John Fox allowed the offense to go for it on fourth-and-1, but Jay Cutler had a bad exchange with the center on the quarterback sneak attempt, and that ruined the play. Still like to see the call with the Bears even leading.

Rivers McCown: J.J. Watt looked very ordinary in the first half, and anecdotally stamina should be a concern for a player dealing with his injuries. Andre Hal hurt the Texans, getting burned by Alshon Jeffery as the Cover-2 safety and then being late to read Cutler inside on the same drive for a touchdown. Though as I am typing this he picks off Cutler on a miscommunication with Kevin White.

Will Fuller dropped a great Brock Osweiler throw that probably would've been six points. Red zone penalties and turnovers have stifled the Texans on the scoreboard.

I guess my main takeaways here are as follows:

1) Probably a good sign that Houston's defense was able to put a lot of hits on Cutler in a sub-par Watt game. 

2) Will Fuller may wind up with 140 targets in this offense. He's going to have some drops, but a lot of Osweiler's early reads started with him. And Bill O'Brien's tight ends haven't necessarily been involved ever. 

3) The middle of Chicago's defense was much improved with Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan. It was tough to throw over the middle. 

4) Kevin White still has a lot of learning to do. This is not a surprise if you followed Bears training camp. 

5) I am not really sure who to compare Osweiler to after one game. He's got the ability to hit every throw, but he's also pretty inconsistent. He can't do much throwing under pressure, either. It's kind of like ... unathletic post-return Michael Vick?

Minnesota Vikings 25 at Tennessee Titans 16

Scott Kacsmar: Wasn't a big fan of Mike Mularkey accepting a penalty before fourth-and-long where you might make the field goal a little tougher, but also risking giving up a first down on a cheap defensive penalty on third-and-24. However, Blair Walsh still missed the 37-yard field goal. Is this guy going to be the next kicker to fall apart after a monumental miss? Including the playoffs, Walsh started his career 75-of-81 on field goals under 40 yards before the infamous playoff miss from 27 yards away against Seattle. Now a 37-yard miss in Tennessee.

Bryan Knowles: Vikings were shut out of the first half entirely, and there are calls on the Twitters and whatnot for Sam Bradford to come in for Shaun Hill -- but this isn't Hill's fault. Hill's 11-of-19 for 124, which isn't exactly going to win him any awards, but it's not a bad performance from someone who was supposed to be a backup. The Vikings' inability to get anything going on the ground is really killing them on offense; Adrian Peterson has just 20 yards on nine carries. Dick LeBeau's defense is stacking the box and just not letting the Vikings get anything going.

It would also help if Blair Walsh could hit a field goal. Missing the 56-yarder at halftime is forgivable, but missing the 37-yarder earlier in the game less so.

On the other side of the ball, Marcus Mariota is having a pretty darn good day. The Vikings' defense is struggling containing Mariota's legs; he's not really scrambling, just extending plays and finding receivers. His patience seems to be much improved from last year, allowing the Titans to pick up some big third downs -- 5-for-8 in the first half.

Aaron Schatz: Every time I flip to Red Zone and they are showing this game, it seems like Andre Smith is pushing Derrick Morgan behind Shaun Hill. Perhaps Morgan should try a different move?

Tom Gower: Titans up 10-0 at the half in a game that has gone about the way you'd expect, in terms of schematics. Both teams are trying to run the ball out of mostly heavy personnel against mostly heavy fronts. Tennessee has had some success, more than Minnesota (Adrian Peterson 9-20, so no booms yet). Shaun Hill has run a functional but limited passing game, with hardly any throws downfield (I recall only one more than 15, that off target).

What impressed me the most in the first 30 minutes was Tennessee's pass protection. They have done a good job of picking up Minnesota's overload blitzes and given Mariota time to throw, enabling them to have a more functional passing game than Minnesota.

No fireworks, really, for either team (until Cordarrelle Patterson had a long kickoff return to start the second half), but if you were looking for fireworks, you're watching the wrong game.

Vince Verhei: Blair Walsh has now missed two field goals and an extra point. They may need to pull him to protect his psyche.

Aaron Schatz: He did hit a 50 somewhere in the middle of that. But yikes.

Bryan Knowles: And he just hit a 45-yarder as well. Very, very weird game for Walsh.

Tom Gower: Vikings have controlled the second half so far. Not because they're playing that well, but because the Titans have made two big mistakes and the Vikings have taken advantage of both of them. Mariota on a bootleg under pressure threw for Harry Douglas, but Eric Kendricks undercut the route and took it to the house. Vikings go from down 10-6 to up 12-10 (Walsh missed an extra point to go with the missed field goals). Another Vikings field goal, and Danielle Hunter takes advantage of a bad exchange in the backfield to make it 22-10. Low-variance offenses can't make mistakes, and the Titans have made and paid for two big ones today.

Hill becomes the first quarterback to hit a deep ball today, finding Stefon Diggs deep against Jason McCourty, who didn't get his head around this time either, and Minnesota's looking to put a hammerlock on this game with four minutes to play.

Vikings couldn't punch it in, so it was 25-10. Titans got another score in the final minute. Down 25-16, they go for two, don't get it, Vikings recover onside, and that's that.

Immediate reaction is Mularkey was wrong to go for two at that point, because the Titans are down 9 and can't win. Hogwash, I say. You need two touchdowns, an extra point, and a two-point conversion. Normally, it makes sense to go for two earlier down 15, so you know. In that circumstance, it doesn't matter, really, because you don't really have time for an extra possession. I'd be fine had they kicked the extra point, but arguments against going for two there make no sense to me.

Sterling Xie: Pretty decisively the undercard game of the day. Here's Exhibit A of why points per game is a misleading stat, as the Vikings were as bad as just about any offense on Sunday yet somehow ended up with 25 on the final ledger due to two defensive scores.

I wouldn't be surprised to see this defense make its share of big plays throughout the season. It's a unit teeming with athleticism on all three levels, and the two players who scored today (Kendricks and Hunter) are among the numerous freakish contributors on that unit.

Adrian Peterson put up a stinker against a bad defense (at least on paper), but this happens to him a fair amount when defenses load up the box against Minnesota. No, this one game doesn't mean AP is over the hill. Sam Bradford isn't anything special, but defenses will at least respect him more than Shaun Hill, so we'll see how Peterson does then.

On the Titans side, so much for ground-and-pound. Though Tennessee did use lots of heavy backfields with two and three backs, Mariota ended up throwing 41 passes, the second-highest total of his career. But the Titans didn't trail by more than one possession until just over 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Granted, the running game wasn't particularly good, with DeMarco Murray limited to just 3.2 yards per attempt and Derrick Henry being completely invisible over just five carries. Murray's fantasy owners (hand raised) will be happy with his two receiving touchdowns, but although he was running north-south instead of east-west, he looked a lot like the back who flailed around in Philly last season.

I thought Tajae Sharpe at least looked pretty solid. Sharpe is a long ways from validating the preseason hype, but at least right now, he looks like far and away the best weapon in Tennessee's offense.

On a related note to that last sentence: Poor Andre Johnson. I wasn't alive to see Willie Mays in a Mets uni, but I imagine Johnson dropping that wide-open touchdown in his first game as a Titan must have been a pretty similar experience.

Rob Weintraub: I get the sentiment, but let's not compare even peak Andre to Willie Mays. Franco Harris as a Seahawk, perhaps?

Sterling Xie: Fair....I'll go with Paul Pierce as a Brooklyn Net for a more recent cross-sports comp.

Rivers McCown: True, Willie Mays has nothing on peak Andre Johnson.

Bryan Knowles: Them's fightin' words in the Bay Area.

San Diego Chargers 27 at Kansas City Chiefs 33

Vince Verhei: Melvin Gordon had zero touchdowns on 184 carries as a rookie. He has two touchdowns on seven carries early in the second quarter today. Chargers are just pushing Kansas City around so far, opening big holes in the running game and breaking tackles on run and passes alike.

Three possessions, three touchdowns for San Diego, on drives of 75, 80, and now 38 yards after a short punt from deep in KC territory. Latest score was a Philip Rivers pass when the Chiefs lost Danny Woodhead and left him alone in the corner of the end zone. This is a total stomping right now -- SD leads in first downs 14 to 4, in yardage 182 to 58, and on the scoreboard 21-3.

Aaron Schatz: Nobody should be shocked that Melvin Gordon is scoring touchdowns. This just in: starting running backs score touchdowns. Last year's zero was a massive fluke. Even a running back whose performance was as poor as Gordon's was last year should be expected to score a couple of touchdowns.

That being said... Our projections were really high on both of these teams this year so I guess I get to take credit on the Chargers and feel weird about the Chiefs? Instead, what I feel is that reading Twitter today, National Jump to Conclusions Week as turned into National Jump to Conclusions Hour. All it took was San Diego going up 14-3 (OK, now 21-3) and people are writing off this entire Kansas City season as if weird things never happen in Week 1. You know, like Kansas City losing 26-10 to Tennessee in Week 1 of 2014. Or last year's San Francisco-Minnesota game.

The Chiefs do have to figure out what on earth they're doing wrong today, but it's not a reason to write off the whole season.

Vince Verhei: Keenan Allen was carted off the field on San Diego's fourth drive with an apparent knee injury. He was crying as the cart left the field. Hopefully that is not as bad as it looks. Perhaps coincidence, perhaps not, Rivers then throws back-to-back incompletions to set up San Diego's first punt. He only had two incompletions, total, on their first three drives. It's still 21-3, but that Allen injury is a scary development.

Early in the fourth quarter, Jason Verrett made an impossible play to take the ball from Jeremy Maclin for an interception, and at 27-10 this thing looked over. Chargers then missed a field goal, though, and the Chiefs get a touchdown drive (including four straight first downs at one point) and then a field goal. Chargers then go three-and-out, and unbelievably the Chiefs have the ball down 27-20 at the two-minute warning. The Chargers just absolutely fell apart on both sides of the ball after that Allen injury.

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Aaron Schatz: Hey, remember what I said around 2 p.m. about National Jump to Conclusions Hour?

Andrew Potter: Turns out that rumors of the Chiefs' demise are greatly exaggerated.

Vince Verhei: They turned the finish of this game off when the Seattle game started, so I can't offer tons of insight on the finish. But I do see that Spencer Ware finished with 70 yards on 11 carries and also led the team with 129 catches on 7-of-8 receiving. Your likely leader for Quick Reads this week.

Scott Kacsmar: I'll admit I stuck the fork in at 24-3, but this San Diego team looks a lot like last year's team, including the serious Keenan Allen injury unfortunately. And as great as Jamaal Charles can be, Chiefs just once again demonstrating how replaceable the running back position is. Spencer Ware had a monster game.

Sterling Xie: That Keenan Allen injury will be one of the bigger downers of the year. Apart from the emotional devastation of seeing Allen sobbing on the cart, we've seen this movie play out already. Statistically, Philip Rivers went from one of the league's best quarterbacks to one of its worst after Allen's lacerated kidney knocked him out for the second half of the season in 2015. The Chargers probably won't be as hopeless if Gordon and Woodhead can run the ball as well as they did today, and if the offensive line doesn't disintegrate due to injuries as it has the past two years. But man, if the ACL reports are true, that's a huge blow to a team some saw as a trendy sleeper, and certainly looked the part through 30 minutes.

Somehow, the turning point of this game was Verrett's spectacular pick. It really felt like game over at that point, with San Diego up 27-10 and holding the ball in plus territory with just under 13 minutes left. From that point forward, the Chargers offense did absolutely nothing, while everything went just right enough for the Chiefs. San Diego picked up just a single first down the rest of the game, demonstrating just about the worst closeout performance you'll see from an offense. You can also question the decision to go for a Josh Lambo 54-yard field goal on the drive after the Verrett pick. A 20-point lead might be less ideal than a 17-point lead given what we know about how coaches think late in games, and a miss set up KC with good field position. They should have punted and pinned the Chiefs deep and forced their offense, which had looked awful all day, to drive down the length of the field.

This is definitely not the type of win you'd expect from the Chiefs. They're not exactly equipped to play from behind, and even their fourth quarter rally felt less than furious. There were a bunch of checkdowns to Spencer Ware and a couple big completions to Jeremy Maclin, which kind of sounds like a normal KC passing game. They did benefit from some nice field position; besides that Lambo miss, they also got to start their final tying drive at the plus-42 after an awful 17 yard punt from Drew Kaser. I'm a little concerned about the KC defense, which looked so toothless until the Chargers went into a shell. Maybe this shouldn't be such a surprise -- how many defenses could withstand the loss of Justin Houston and Eric Berry (yes, he's technically playing, but I can't imagine he's anywhere close to top form after sitting out the entire offseason)?

Buffalo Bills 7 at Baltimore Ravens 13

Bryan Knowles Anyone have any idea why Aaron Williams isn't playing more for Buffalo? Duke Williams, ostensibly the backup, was the one burned on that 66-yard touchdown by Mike Wallace. I know Aaron Williams is coming back from that nasty neck injury, but he has looked sharp when he has been on the field. Duke Williams -- not so much.

Aaron Schatz: Solomon Wilcots just said that Rex Ryan knows Joe Flacco well because he coached in Baltimore for 10 years.

Of course, Ryan's last year as defensive coordinator in Baltimore was 2008, which was Flacco's rookie year.

Scott Kacsmar: Mike Wallace had a long 66-yard touchdown and Steve Smith finished with five catches for 19 yards. So it's basically the 2011 Pittsburgh offense with Smith on that "let's get Hines Ward to 1,000 catches" program.

Oakland Raiders 35 at New Orleans Saints 34

Andrew Potter: A great situation just turned to disaster for the Raiders. After a Marquette King punt pins the Saints on their own 2-yard line, the Raiders come out showing blitz. Sean Smith is at the line against Brandin Cooks, showing bump and run coverage to match the blitz look. They back out of the blitz at the snap, however, with the linebackers dropping into shallow zones. The right side of the defensive line all rushes inside where it's clogged up with ease. Drew Brees has all day to throw, Smith never gets close to putting his hands on Cooks, and the safety likewise isn't close to getting across. 98 yards later, it's a 14-point game and that feels like the back-breaker for Oakland.

Could see exactly what the defense was hoping to achieve with the disguise, but boy did they pay for it.

Scott Kacsmar: If they ever did a Top 10 for Drew Brees games, the list might not be filled with a lot of memorable moments of real significance, but it would be a passing clinic. When he's on, it's just amazing to watch. He's on against Oakland today and it's practically all the wide receivers doing the damage with Brandin Cooks leading the way on that 98-yard touchdown. Coby Fleener doesn't even have a catch yet.

Andrew Potter: And yet, it started out looking like it would be a long day for Brees with the first drive ending on a strip-sack by Bruce Irvin. It hasn't turned out that way -- he has been under almost no pressure whatsoever since that first quarter.

Well, I spoke too soon on the pressure. Irvin and Mack both get through the line on two consecutive plays, though the first one results in a pass interference penalty against Malcolm Smith. Second time, Brees dumps off to Coby Fleener, and then another DPI gives the Saints another 17 yards. Field goal for Lutz at the end of the drive is almost blocked too.

Welcome back, Saints defense. You haven't been missed, but missed you certainly have. Jalen Richard is slowed by Craig Robertson on his way to the second level, but Jairus Byrd and Ken Crawley both take horrible angles. Byrd tackles Crawley out of the play, the other two defensive backs are blocked, and that's all she wrote.

Derek Carr is being let down by his receivers on this last-minute game-tying drive attempt. Clive Walford went out of bounds on a relatively simple catch due to a lack of field awareness, and Seth Roberts dropped an easy reception on second down. Yet Oakland is still driving because this year's Saints look an awful lot like last year's Saints. Hard to live down to last year's performance on defense, but they're certainly not good, and have kept this Oakland drive alive twice now with completely unnecessary penalties on plays that were failing until the defense intervened.

Vince Verhei: HOLY SHIT. Raiders just scored what appears to be a game-tying touchdown in the final minute -- but they're sending out the offense to go for two and the win!

Bryan Knowles: The Raiders just scored a game-tying touchdown...and are lining up to go for two instead of kicking the game-tying extra point. What a gutsy call.

Now they call the time out. It'll be interesting to see if they change their mind after thinking about it for a minute.

That's the kind of call you see from a team out of playoff contention late with nothing to lose, not a team in Week 1.

Do the Raiders trust Carr or not trust their defense? Either way, they went for it -- and got it! Michael Crabtree with a nice catch on a little fade.

And then they get flagged for excessive celebration, likely giving Brees and the Saints good field position, needing a field goal for the win, but they have no time-outs left. Nail-biting time in New Orleans.

Vince Verhei: I think they trust their offense to get a two-pointer against THAT DEFENSE, more than they do their ability to stop Drew Brees in overtime.

Aaron Schatz: Absolutely. It's a great decision when you ask yourself: how does the quality of the Saints defense change the odds of getting this two-pointer, and how does the quality of Drew Brees change the odds of New Orleans winning with a first-drive touchdown if the Saints win a coin toss in overtime.

Andrew Potter: Right, the Saints defense has been a mess on the past three Raiders drives -- giving up three straight touchdowns. Derek Carr is hobbled, though not enough to come out of the game. The Saints have a rookie kicker, and the pressure of a miss losing the game is much greater than that of a miss still resulting in a tie. Ultimately, overtime suits the Saints way more than it suits the Raiders.

That was a stunning football game. New Orleans was up 24-10 and cruising until their defense completely fell apart in the fourth quarter, allowing three touchdowns and two two-point conversions in Oakland's final three drives. Balls of steel by Oakland to go for the win instead of the tie, though it made so much sense from an analytical perspective, and it worked beautifully.

Miami Dolphins 10 at Seattle Seahawks 12

Vince Verhei: An example of misleading statistics: On Miami's first two drives, Ryan Tannehill is 6-of-6 for 55 yards, which sounds great -- but 50 of those yards came on one play when nobody picked up Arian Foster out of the backfield, and then Earl Thomas missed a tackle. The last completion left Miami inches short on third down, and they went for it on fourth down, but the run got stuffed. Good decision for a team that likely won't get many scoring chances today, but a bad result.

Meanwhile, Seattle has come out with 12 passes in their first 16 plays, and their own dink-and-dunk approach has produced a field goal to give the Seahawks a 3-0 lead.

Andrew Potter: That Kenny Stills drop where he was completely alone behind the Seahawks defense is just ... just ... no words. Should absolutely be 7-3 Miami, instead after a second-down sack it's now third-and-18. There's nothing you can do as a coach or a quarterback when your receivers are doing that.

Cian Fahey: Preseason Kenny Stills was an aberration apparently. Tannehill finds him wide open with a perfect pass for a 60-yard touchdown and Stills just drops it. Looks a lot like last year's regular season.

Vince Verhei: The best safety in football is having a terrible game so far. I mentioned his missed tackle earlier. Now he's playing deep middle on a post route to Kenny Stills and should be in perfect position to make a play on the ball -- but he pulls up and turns to cover a phantom crossing route, AFTER the ball is in the air. Stills has what should be an easy 70-plus-yard touchdown, but drops the ball. Just a lousy football play all around. Seahawks then get a sack on second down when Frank Clark stunts to the inside and comes through untouched, setting up a punt.

Rivers McCown: As a receiver, Kenny Stills is making a great Seattle defender.

Vince Verhei: It's pretty common to see Russell Wilson running for his life, but it's very rare to see him panic while running for his life. Well, it just happened -- a Miami defender came unblocked off the edge and Russell spun this way and that and lobbed a ball blindly down the field. It flew over the heads of two Seattle receivers and into a crowd of three Dolphins, where Isa Abdul-Quddus got the easy interception. It leads to a Miami field goal after Stills gets a step on his defender in the end zone, but Tannehill overthrows him. Considering that play, the drop, and the failed fourth-down play, the Dolphins could easily have 21 points right now. Instead it's 3-3.

Bryan Knowles: Halftime, and Survivor Pools across the country are biting their nails in a 6-3, sloppy contest. Miami's defensive line seems to be clearly winning the battle against Seattle's offensive line; they're either pressuring Wilson or getting held every other play, it feels like. I think it's Bradley Sowell who been beaten most regularly, but it's sort of an open competition at the moment. If Russell Wilson wasn't secretly Houdini, they'd have more than the two sacks they do. When Wilson does get time to throw, his receivers are dropping passes; Tyler Lockett has at least a couple drops already.

Of course, none of this matters if Miami can't capitalize on their opportunities. We talked about Kenny Stills' adventures in pass-catching, but it's been far from their only execution error -- coming up short on fourth-and-inches jumps to mind as well. They're doing a lot better than I thought they'd do against Seattle, but at some point, they have to capitalize on their opportunities.

Carl Yedor: It appears my comments from Thursday night were prescient, in that Adam Gase (unsuccessfully) tried to ice Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka before halftime. I wonder if he'd do it again in the second half if given the chance.

Vince Verhei: Seahawks close the half with a field goal to go up 6-3. Offensive line, and particularly Bradley Sowell, are getting crushed. Most of Wilson's pass attempts have been one-read quick throws, and when he has been asked to drop back and read the field, he has only really had time to do it two or three times. 

Speaking of, Wilson has 26 passes in the first half. His single-game record is 48, set in the playoff loss to Carolina last year.

As for Miami, they had the one big play on offense, and opportunities for one or two more, but the fact is that they have really done nothing for most of the game. I kind of feel like they have largely outplayed Seattle today. I also kind of feel like they've had their shot to make this a game, and missed. I guess we'll see in the second half here.

More on Miami's incompetence: the Dolphins have three first downs at halftime. That 50-yarder is their only first down through the air.

On Seattle's first third-quarter drive, Ndamukong Suh destroys Garry Gilliam for a sack, and in the process steps on Wilson's ankle. Wilson stays on the field for a handoff and a horrible looking wide receiver screen where he could barely move, then limps off the field for the punt. Trevone Boykin is warming up.

Wilson returns, with both ankles taped up in whole rolls of black tape so his feet look like Herman Munster's, and Seattle goes to a run-heavy attack to pick up a couple of first downs. They turn down a 48-yarder, though, to go for it on fourth-and-inches, but Wilson's short lob to Doug Baldwin is broken up by Abdul-Quddus (and likely would have been short of the first anyway). I hope Boykin keeps warming up.

Aaron Schatz: Seattle just went for it on fourth-and-1 on the Miami 31. They threw a little slant to Doug Baldwin on what looked like slants-and-flats, and he caught it about 6 inches past the line of scrimmage and was pushed backwards. OK, he eventually lost the ball, so it was incomplete. Still, I don't understand why teams do not run at least a couple yards past the sticks on fourth downs. Why take the chance the defender will push the receiver back and turn the route that was supposed to be a yard into a route that goes zero yards? Does nobody remember Kevin Faulk in the infamous Colts-Patriots fourth-and-2 game?

Bryan Knowles: The Dolphins drive down after a Seahawks fumble gives them great field position, but Cassius Marsh comes up with a key field goal block to preserve the Seattle lead.

Marsh has been having a heck of a day on special teams -- he's the one who made that huge hit on Jakeem Grant on the punt return earlier. In a game where no one's playing very well, key plays on special teams like that could easily be the difference.

Vince Verhei: Jordan Phillips tosses Mark Glowinski into the backfield like a little brother. Glowinski falls into Wilson's legs. Wilson (who had been under center mind you -- that's how quickly this play was ruined) tries to pitch the ball to the running back while falling down. This goes poorly, and Miami recovers the fumble. Dolphins then finally get a couple of passing first downs, picking on Jeremy Lane, but the drive stalls at the goal line and they go for the field goal -- which is blocked by Cassius Marsh. Dolphins have made the very least of their scoring chances, that's for sure. 

Aside from those two mistakes in the first half, Seattle's defense has been unbelievable today. Tannehill is under constant pressure, and most of the time there's just nobody open.

Dolphins look so bad all day, and they get a seven-play, 87-yard touchdown drive to take the lead. Everything worked on that one, including a running back screen -- I don't know the YAC numbers, but it's got to be two-thirds or more of their receiving total. So now a one-legged Russell Wilson has four-plus minutes to retake the lead. Sure would be nice to have some linemen right now.

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Bryan Knowles: Seattle scores a touchdown to take the lead with 31 seconds left on a floater to Doug Baldwin -- it looked like a pick play to me, but no flag.

And then they miss the extra point, meaning the Dolphins can win with a field goal!

Aaron Schatz: Turned to Red Zone for the final Seattle drive. Some impressive catches by Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham. But as soon as I saw Doug Baldwin so open in the end zone, I said "offensive pass interference" to the friend I'm watching with. Then the flag appeared... but picked up. The official thought it was defensive holding, picked it up, with no call for OPI. Seattle may escape with a win here.

Tannehill had Kenny Stills wide open, something like 50 yards downfield. Would have put the Dolphins in field goal position for the win. Overthrew him.

Tom Gower: Nothing vaguely OPI-related on Seahawks' go-ahead touchdown. Baldwin ran the corner route, they brought the outside receiver (Jermaine Kearse, I believe) on a slant underneath, but there was absolutely no contact between the two groupings to create a pick. Flag on the play, thrown for slot defender Bobby McCain's attempted restriction on Baldwin, was picked up.

Being only down two does nothing for Miami, as they can't go anywhere with the little time they had. Seahawks escape.

Vince Verhei: I know we're not a gambling site, but Seattle's gotta lead the league in "wins that didn't cover," right?

Well, they all count the same. I am going to feel relieved for now and then panic about the offensive line tomorrow.

Bryan Knowles: From 2011-2015, the Seahawks have 11 wins that haven't covered, tied for seventh most.

It's the Patriots, with 22 such wins, that lead the league.

Scott Kacsmar: Dan Fouts was so certain Seattle's touchdown was coming back for OPI. It really wasn't even close. Just a well-designed "natural pick" look with no contact.

Aaron Schatz: Yep, sorry, my mistake on the Baldwin touchdown. I just saw him get open and then the flag thrown and thought, this must be OPI.

Detroit Lions 39 at Indianapolis Colts 35

Scott Kacsmar: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." -- Albert Einstein

The Chuck Pagano/Ryan Grigson-era Colts are once again having a painfully slow start, falling behind by 14 points for the 26th time since 2012 (only four teams have more such games). But there's another 50-yard field goal for Adam Vinatieri's resume as old reliable gives some hope of another comeback.

Bryan Knowles: My preseason prediction of the Lions underperforming their FO prediction is off to a stellar start through 30 minutes. Sixteen first downs, 250 total yards in the first half alone as they moved the ball somewhat at will against Indy. Indy has injuries -- Vontae Davis and Clayton Geathers out, for starters -- but at least through one half, the Lions look like the team that ended 2015 on an upswing.

Tom Gower: Lions up 21-10 at the half.

Writing about the Colts defense in FOA16 was a fun exercise. They're a tricky unit to evaluate in some ways, because they have been consistently better by DVOA than by conventional wisdom or yards. The explanation I've been most comfortable with for that is that the Colts' veterans on defense let them play fairly soundly, forcing opponents to consistently execute. Because they play in the AFC South, they can't. But against good offenses, they can, and you need playmakers to affect the game, playmakers outside of the injured Vontae Davis that I don't think they have. The conventional wisdom is largely affected by results against good teams, when they're apt to get shredded. Because they have possessions, too, they give up yards, so that reinforces the perception they're worse than they are.

But they're not good, and the MASH unit they're fielding out there, with Davis and other corner injuries, means competent opposing offenses will move the ball on them. The Lions through 30 minutes look competent both through the air and on the ground. Gleefully abandoning the run got them a touchdown right before the half, with a pair of big Donte Moncrief catches, including for the score, and a great T.Y. Hilton grab to convert a third down. Overall, very much a Pagano-Grigson-Luck Colts game.

Scott Kacsmar: Some missed extra points to keep things more interesting today, but none may end up hurting more than Detroit's after another all-too-easy touchdown pass to a running back gave the Lions a 34-28 lead. But now the Colts are inside the 10 and can win this late with a Luck touchdown just like in the 2012 game when he made that incredible play on the final snap in a 35-33 win.

Bryan Knowles: Another player forgetting to get out of bounds, as Marvin Jones fails to get down, forcing Detroit to use their last time-out with 12 seconds left.

Tom Gower: Chuck Pagano... he will draw a lot of criticism for taking a timeout while on offense with over a minute to play, giving the Lions enough time to complete their comeback after Indy's go-ahead touchdown (and letting Detroit keep all three timeouts). That criticism will be correct.

I danced around a bit in the second half after staying on this game from the conclusion of the earlier games until halftime, so I can't tell you with confidence what the Lions were doing or not doing that had them sputtering a bit. By the time I was back on this game full-time after the conclusion of Seattle-Miami, the offense moved just fine. Matthew Stafford was efficient in the two-minute drill and Theo Riddick ran the ball effectively even if not always perhaps as crisply from one hole to the next as you might like. When the Colts did not try to run, they moved the ball well.

The Colts lost three defensive backs who were on the team at the start of training camp (Winston Guy, T.J. Green, Patrick Robinson) to injury during the game. When you are already banged up, that sort of thing makes it especially hard to play effective defense.

Conclusions to jump to off of this game? Jim Bob Cooter fixed what ails Matt Stafford and has him playing effectively, and this continues into the 2016 season (at least until they face a real defense). Andrew Luck is not injured and therefore capable of making big plays down the field -- see 2012-14 if you need a reminder.

New York Giants 20 at Dallas Cowboys 19

Aaron Schatz: The big story for the Giants this offseason was that they were going to finally bring the pass rush again this year. But the Dallas offensive line is totally neutralizing the pass-rushers. Meanwhile, Dallas has no pass rush of its own. So both Eli Manning and Dak Prescott have these giant pockets on almost every pass play. So Prescott is currently 16-for-22, and Manning is currently 13-for-17, though he did just throw a pick for the first turnover of the game.

Giants march down the field to take a 20-19 lead with 6:13 left. Drive featured a couple of really nice shotgun power runs by Shane Vereen, with the Giants' interior offensive line beating up the Dallas defensive front and Vereen showing great vision through the holes. At the goal line, Eli Manning overthrew Odell Beckham and Beckham came down with the ball out of bounds, but on the next down Manning finds Victor Cruz over the middle for a touchdown. Never knew if we would see that salsa dance again, but there it is.

Well, Terrance Williams with the Keep Chopping Wood award this week. Easily could have gotten out of bounds to stop the clock with 7 seconds left, turns it inside instead and gets tackled in-bounds. Dez Bryant was 10 yards downfield emphatically pointing towards the sideline.

Andrew Potter: Terrance Williams ... where are you going, and why?

New England Patriots 23 at Arizona Cardinals 21

Bryan Knowles: Well, the Patriots have to be pretty pleased with Jimmy Garoppolo's opening drive, yeah? 4-of-5 for a touchdown behind that offensive line's about as good as you could have hoped for.

Quarterback controversy! **Ducks and hides**

Aaron Schatz: Wow. The Patriots offense scores first as Handsome Jimmy G goes 4-of-5 for 75 yards despite having an offensive line made up of two rookies guards, a second-year UDFA center, and two guys who have proven they are absolutely not NFL-quality tackles. The touchdown comes when Arizona rookie Brandon Williams mistakenly thinks he should be playing a short zone, and sits there looking at the quarterback while Chris Hogan races past him uncovered.

Sterling Xie: 14 minutes in, Pats fans have to be pleasantly surprised. The offense has consistently stayed on schedule and kept the Cardinals defense off balance. I'm a little surprised Arizona hasn't shown more blitz looks or mixed up their front seven looks to muddle things for Garoppolo, though surely that's coming later. It hasn't been perfect for Jimmy; he was fortunate to escape a Tyvon Branch interception on the final third-down incompletion that led to the field goal. But cover up the jersey numbers and you'd be hard pressed to realize that 12 and 87 were missing, at least in the early going.

Aaron Schatz: Stephen Gostkowski's kickoffs are interesting. He has the ability to boom it out of the end zone, but he's not. He's not really kicking a pooch punt/pop-up kick either. On the Pats' last two kickoffs, he's kicked so it comes down right around the goal line. I guess the Patriots trust their kickoff coverage to stop the opposition returner before he gets to the 25. And it's worked both times.

And hey, after the Cardinals score their first touchdown, we learn that Chandler Catanzaro is also going to try to land it at the goal line to force a return.

Sterling Xie: It feels like LeGarrette Blount has nine lives as the Patriots' primary running back, and maybe that last drive was an indication of why. Blount isn't a special talent, but when the offensive line isn't in shambles, his combination of power and surprising wiggle is underrated. Yes, the Patriots could probably do better if they really wanted, but it's easy to see Belichick liking a back who's reliable and basically free. Among the running backs with a higher cap hit than Blount this season: Taiwan Jones, Cedric Peerman, and teammate Brandon Bolden.

Well, looks like I spoke a little soon there on Blount.

Aaron Schatz: Yeah, as well as the Patriots' defense has been playing tonight, hard to ask them to stop a drive that starts on their own 33-yard line. So now it's 17-14.

Now we're in the fourth quarter and the Patriots had third-and-4 from the 25. Garoppolo converted that twice, once with a DPI and once with a catch by Julian Edelman. Both plays were cancelled by holding penalties. Garoppolo can't convert the third time at third-and-14, but it ain't his fault the Patriots are settling for a field goal here. 20-14.

Sterling Xie: Cardinals take their first lead of the game after Larry Fitzgerald makes a tremendous catch on a goal-line fade over Logan Ryan. So Arizona gets its first touchdown drive without the aid of a New England fumble thanks largely to David Johnson, who has been the best player on the field tonight. The Pats seem to be doing a fine job in controlling their gaps, and for the most part it doesn't look like the Cardinals offensive line has pushed them around. But that 45-yard run from Johnson into the red zone, where he broke away from several tacklers after apparently being stuffed at the line, is one of several plays where his superior athleticism has just been too much to handle.

Aaron Schatz: I have to say, what Jimmy Garoppolo has been able to do tonight with a terrible offensive line and no Gronkowski is pretty impressive. Arizona still has a good defense, although their lack of size contributes to some of the difficulty they've had tackling. Even if the Cardinals manage to pull out the comeback here, Patriots fans have to feel a lot better about the team's chances in Weeks 2-4.

On the other hand, Logan Ryan can't cover Larry Fitzgerald. He's most of the Arizona offense tonight. The rest of it is Johnson.

Speaking of which, why did the Patriots let 10 seconds run off the clock before taking a timeout once Arizona got into field goal range? Either take the timeout right after the third-down catch, or save it for your possible comeback attempt.

Rivers McCown: Well, to ice the kicker, obviously. It works!

Tom Gower: They didn't. They let 20 seconds run off the clock. Didn't take the timeout until there were only 18 of the 40 seconds on the play clock remaining.

Some goofy things late, like Arizona's go route on second-and-10 that resulted in the hold, followed by a screen to Andre Ellington (as opposed to one of your better players). I'm tempted to recommend Bruce Arians take a trip to the Marv Levy seminar on the wisdom of settling for long field goal attempts to win the game.

Bryan Knowles: Long snappers are people too -- that's both the Thursday and Sunday night game's potential game-winning field goal attempts negatively effected by bad snaps. Time to develop a ranking system, I suppose.

Tom Gower: Theoretical defense of Belichick's late timeout: he wanted to see if Arizona completely screwed up getting the field goal team on the field within the 40 seconds. Once he saw that they would be in position, he went ahead and took the timeout. I don't see this as a *good* decision, but it at least would be a considered one.

And congratulations to the Patriots. That's a phenomenal win, missing as many players as they were, on a long road trip, against a good opponent.

Aaron Schatz: The Patriots just beat one of last year's final four teams, on the road, without Brady, Gronk, Solder, or Vollmer, and despite losing the turnover battle by minus-2.

It's a good night to be a fan of this team. Then again, it's been a good two decades to be a fan of this team.


142 comments, Last at 15 Sep 2016, 9:21am

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Main-page description nitpickery: Does Arizona really count as a "perennial" playoff team? They've made it for the last 2 season, but missed the playoffs for the previous 4 years. A perennial is a plant that has a lifespan of at least 3 years...

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Adrian Peterson had a poor game because Shaun Hill can't really throw outside the hashmarks anymore, or throw deep. It was 9 in the box, and the Vikings only threw for 236 yards, and no scores. I think the o-line is going to be better than last year, but that is about as faint of praise, signaling damnation, as possible. If you want to know why they gave up a first and fourth for Bradford, yesterday's game was the answer. Bradford may be Bradford, whatever that means, but he doesn't shrink the field like a 36 year old Shaun Hill. You have to remember that they really didn't even plan on Hill being the number two by the end of training camp; they thought Taylor Heinecke, last year's undrafted free agent, was going to beat him out, before he cut a tendon in his foot via some manner of nonsense.

If Bradford doesn't expand the field, the Vikings defense is going to have score every week.

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Hill definitely shrinks the field, but he did move around well in the pocket and get the ball where it needed to be for the most part. He did miss two throws deep that could have been TDs. Like you I'm hoping Bradford can open up the field. The Vikings haven't been able to punish 9 in the box during the Peterson years except for 2009. Bradford at least gives them some hope to do so.

There weren't a lot of holes to run through, but Peterson looked tentative. Perhaps a little rust having not played in the preseason. Thought both Asiata and McKinnon looked more decisive when in the game.

Hunter's sack was impressive. Most of his sacks last year seemed all speed, but this one he just tossed the guy aside.

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Hunter's ceiling is very, very, very high. He doesn't even turn 22 years old for 6 weeks. The athleticism is off the charts, and if he is at the listed 240 pounds, Vince Wolfork is 300. Hunter is a big reason why I thought FO's projected regression for the Vikings defense was off the mark.

Look, they were playing a bad defense which was playing about a third of the field, and they couldn't even get to to 250 yards passing, despite now having a serviceable receiving corps, and plenty of possessions. This was sub-Ponderous stuff. OK, Hill had enough savvy to not turn the ball over, which is something, to be fair.

72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

The combination of size and speed that Hunter and Griffen bring to the table give the Vikings some interesting options on the line. That play where Griffen covered Murray on a wheel route? Insane. Murray caught it, but Griffen had him blanketed. Looking forward to some really creative packages out of that front 7.

But the corners are a major red flag when Rhodes is hurt. Waynes got consistently roasted by a 5th round rookie in his first game, and Newman is too old to consistently cover anyone faster than old Andre Johnson.

Agreed on the Hill stuff, though. Every pass looked like a lame duck, even when it worked out. Easy to forget that the offense didn't score enough points to win that game.

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Yes, if Rhodes is out, that will hurt a lot, but let's not go overboard. Prior to the meaningless last Titans possession, the Titans had about 240 total yards, which isn't too bad against anybody on their home field.

14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

I tried to spend some time watching that game, and just couldn't force myself to do it. Shaun Hill's inability to throw anything other than little dumpoffs is going to kill the Vikings; if Adrian Peterson can't get yards against the Titans, it's not exactly looking promising against a real defense.

I still can't believe Mariota is being wasted behind that offense and that coach. It's tragic.

3 Re: "Balls of steel by Oakland"

^ yes, J. Del Rio will hump opponents with his balls of steel.

tremendous win by Raiders. Now 1 game agead of Chargers AFC west. Raiders will not relinquish leaf over Chargrrs. Good chance Raiders will have top 5 ofoemse this season. Dwefense will come around but look around and see moist temas have problems facing Saints offense in New Orleans.

12 Re: "Balls of steel by Oakland"

Didn't the Raiders go for two at the end of a game a few years ago? Probably under Dennis Allen circa 2013. More so because they'd lost their long snapper to injury than the material quality of the coach's balls.

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

I don't know if the Giants only scoring 20 is indicative of poor play by the Giants offense, or surprisingly good play by the Dallas defense. My guess is the former.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

I love, love, loved the Raiders going for two and the win (especially on the road.) I don't know what the two point conversion rate typically is but to me the chance to end the game on one play to make 3 yards has got to be better than taking your chances at never touching the ball in overtime.

47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Doesn't the same logic apply for the Raiders, though? The Saints' defense hadn't slowed down the Raiders all game, so if the Raiders won the toss they would have a good chance of ending it.

To be clear, I liked the call to go for two (although I hated the play call, but whatever). I think it was a good call because in a vacuum, two point conversions succeed about half as often as extra point attempts, so given the weakness of the Saints' defense, their chances were better going for two. So I agree with your conclusion; I just don't think the logic is because of what was likely to happen in overtime.

Also, does it factor in that there was a bit of time left? Going for two and succeeding may have made the Saints more aggressive in trying to drive down the field for a FG than they would have been had the game been tied.

52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

I think Brees and Payton are going to be aggressive no matter what.

The Raiders offensive success is in good part why going for it makes sense as well. Why take the chance of losing a coin toss, as opposed to running a play from inside the 5, to take the lead, given the opponent hasn't done much to stop you all day? You've got think your odds of conversion are lot better than the 50-55% historical norm. Why settle for a tie, and a 50% chance of losing possession of the ball?

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Can someone explain how Tom Cable still has a job? Pre the injury, Seattle could only work short sideline passes or slants to Baldwin. It was effective, but any attempt to let longer routes develop left Wilson exposed. Sooner or later Wilson's going to seriously injured behind that line.

Hidden change that may have bailed Seattle out. Miami lost Mario Williams to a concussion late in the game. Williams had humiliated Bradley Sowell all game, and Miami got far less pressure after he left.

And f*ck 'Kenny Spills'

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

The Seahawks brass seems to love Cable. The logic is that he's the only thing making the OL even somewhat passable. The Seahawks clearly have chosen to not spend cap money on O-lineman, so that they can invest elsewhere. They don't go after big-ticket OL free agents, and they jettison guys or let them walk once they get moderately expensive (Unger, Carpenter, Okung, Sweezy, etc.).

The philosophy seems to be to play young draftees and cheap spare parts and let Cable get the most out of them. It's super frustrating as a fan to watch, but it's tough to argue with the overall results. I don't pretend to be an O-line guru, but it certainly seems reasonable that the problem is not Cable but that they have two journeyman-esque UDFAs at tackle, and their promising rookie guard is out with an ankle injury.

The good news for the Seahawks is that they probably won't see Ndamukong Suh for another few years. The bad news is that get Aaron Donald twice a year, including next week... with a hobbled QB. I serious wonder if it wouldn't be best to give Travone Boykin a trial by fire and let Russ heel up for the rest of the season.

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

That's fair. However, unless this Miami D line is the second coming of the Steel Curtain, I'm not convinced Wilson plays a full season, as that O-line looked horrible.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

I think that every season, and then by Week 8, Wilson is humming along, and they are one of the top offenses in the league.

However, losing Wilson is still a scary proposition, especially with his rolled ankle. It depends on the severity of injury, but they should seriously consider rolling with Boykin in LA and trying to win ugly again -- Quinn, Donald, and Co. always destroy the 'Hawks, even when everybody is healthy.

89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

They will be playing an angry 0-3 Jets team that got 7 sacks against the supposedly solid Cincy o-line. At 10 in the morning, Seattle time. They better get the offensive line competent soon.

119 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

On paper, Ndamakong Suh, Mario Williams, and Cameron Wake sound like one of the best defensive lines in the league, if a bit long in the tooth. If they stay healthy, they could be pretty ferocious (I mean, Denver went from being less than the sum of their parts on defense for several years to being historically great without many changes in personnel, just by changing scheme- Miami doesn't have the talent in the back seven to pull off that kind of transformation, but a strong front four covers a lot of weaknesses)

106 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

But here's the thing about Cable: historically, he's coached olines that ranked high in rushing, but very poorly in pass protection. So it would seem to me that he's the absolute worst guy for the job of coaching up Thrift Shop level players to protect Russell Wilson.

86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

It's to the point where it seem that you could build a better WR corps from guys Miami let go, traded, refused to resign than the actual bodies on their team. Every year they're improving and every year they seem so, so below average. It's amazing. It's not that they don't have talent, it's they're good at developing it for everyone else. That's the sign of a terribly managed team which I think most people agree Miami is. Hopefully Parker gets healthy enough to give them a chance at being tolerable soon.

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

I don't have a problem with Belichick not taking the timeout immediately. But once it was clear that ARI wasn't going to clusterf* getting the FG team on the field he should have taken it. The ten or so seconds that were burned off after it was clear ARI would be set up OK would have been valuable if that snap hadn't been bad.

55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Have you read Belichick's explanation for the delay in the timeout?

If the Cards had quickly set up the FG unit, he would have called it quickly. He wanted to ice the kicker, and a quick timeout wouldn't have done that.

As for all the people who insisted that the Pats would have needed a hypothetical extra 10 seconds for a hypothetical comeback, he says:

" I thought we could save, whatever it was, 20 or so seconds on the 40 second clock, somewhere in there. I thought we would have saved that. I mean obviously if it’s no good we are kneeling anyways, so it didn’t really make a difference. It would have only helped us if the kick would have been good."

Clearly, as was in the case in the Super Bowl, Belichick is thinking of the play at hand, and not trying to use a timeout to scratch out an extra 10-15 seconds for his offense in what would in any case be a very unlikely comeback attempt. And as was the case in the Super Bowl, his decision worked out.

At some point people might start respecting the guy a bit.

82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

It worked on this occasion. They called timeout, the FG got missed. Or perhaps they iced the longsnapper. He's under just as much pressure to deliver the perfect snap.

Icing the kicker can work but it depends on the kicker. Some kickers would like the extra preparation time, some would baulk at it.

If you go with statistical averages then you're not going to see an effect.

99 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Wait, he missed, so that means it worked? That is some serious "I have a magic rock that keeps away tigers, you don't see any tigers here, would you like to buy my magic rock" level logic.

One of the defensive linemen might have scratched his butt before the kick; maybe that was the key.

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

At some point people might start respecting the guy a bit.

Yes, it's criminal the lack of respect fans and media have for Bill m---er-f---ing Belichick. It is absolutely disgusting that a decision of his would be subject to interest and discussion and not slavishly worshipped.

And Pats fans wonder why...

138 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

He didn't want to ice the kicker - he wanted to preserve the timeout. If the Cards had lined up quickly, then they're going to kick quickly, and the timeout would only save you twenty seconds; he'd prefer to hold onto the timeout. Since they didn't line up quickly, he preserved the other twenty seconds.

141 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Yes. He risked twenty seconds to possibly save a time out.

It had the added benefit of breaking up the usual kicking routine. Field goal units practice hurried kicks. They practice getting "iced". They practice setting up after a time out. They practice getting into formation and waiting for the defense to jump offside, then calling a time out.

It's no so clear they practice slow-walking their routine and having a time out called part way through. Who knows? I don't believe in icing, because it's a known routine for the unit. But this may have been an odd enough sequence to get someone uncomfortable.

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Pats-Cards ... just a typically, impressive next man up by the Pats.

- What I noticed is that the way the team plays defense is they're never getting close to the kinds of controversies about roughing the passer, helmet-to-helmet hits that other teams seem to get into. Will keep an eye on this through the season to see if it was just an aberration or a point of focus.

- First time I've seen David Johnson play. Wow. He reminded me of Barry Sanders with some of those jukes, jump cuts and spin moves.

- Garropollo looked good although I question his accuracy. Five or six times he seemed to put the ball in locations where receivers had to reach for it. TB12 usually puts it on the money to allow easier YAC.

- Agree with Tom that BB didn't take the FG timeout because he wanted to put pressure on the Cards to get out on the field and into position. Also left wondering if the bad snap had anything to do with the previous XP where Jamie Collins tried to jump over the long snapper.

25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

What I noticed is that the way the team plays defense is they're never getting close to the kinds of controversies about roughing the passer, helmet-to-helmet hits that other teams seem to get into. Will keep an eye on this through the season to see if it was just an aberration or a point of focus.
I think I've noticed the same thing, although it might just be confirmation bias. In recent years, the Patriots seem to have avoided any of the intent-to-injure strategies that other teams seem to employ. I suspect this comes from the top. Belichick will use any and all of the rules to gain an advantage (e.g. splitting out ineligible players with normally eligible numbers) but he respects and demands clean play. Dirty play ticks him off, and is perhaps the only thing that will get him to be outspoken against an opponent's players.

Of course, this may simply be that the Patriots haven't needed those strategies. I could be making a virtue out of a lack of necessity.

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

"What I noticed is that the way the team plays defense is they're never getting close to the kinds of controversies about roughing the passer, helmet-to-helmet hits that other teams seem to get into. Will keep an eye on this through the season to see if it was just an aberration or a point of focus."

Probably personnel-based. Belichick teams have never felt overly constrained by the rules.

I should elaborate on that. The last few Patriots defenses have seemed to be contain and rally to the ball sort of teams, and haven't had a world-beater front 7 or heat-seeking DBs. But in the early Belichick reign, he had a defense that was constructed a lot like Denver's or NYJ's, and they just brutalized people. I suspect, if he had a defense as talented as Denver's, they'd play a similar style.

As to the last point, Collins jumped onto the guard, not the LS, didn't he?

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

I can think of three rule changes or enforcement changes in response to something the Patriots were doing that was either against the spirit or the letter of the rule. How many can you come up with for the rest of the teams, let alone any one?

Some of his teams have been well-flagged (2003, 2014), although it's not trivial to sort of offensive and defensive penalties. They aren't Oakland by any stretch (there's a comically dirty team), but it's not exactly a schoolboy's choir, either.

56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

If there's a rule change in response to something the Patriots have done, that's not evidence that the Patriots don't feel constrained by the rules.

I mean, duh.

Arguments based on the "spirit" of the rules are silly. The rules are what they are.

And BTW, there was no rule against videotaping coach signals in 2007, either, no matter what a memo from the commissioner's office might say. Goodell is the one who doesn't feel constrained by the rules. He does whatever the hell he wants to do, and then pays his lawyers millions of dollars to construct some argument to back him up.

112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

"I can think of three rule changes or enforcement changes in response to something the Patriots were doing that was either against the spirit or the letter of the rule."

I can think of a few times the Competition Committee changed the rules out of spite, but only one that meets your criteria.

1) The IC "re-emphasis" in 2003.
2) The "you can't call a timeout after you just did" rule in 2004ish.
3) The ineligible receiver rule in 2014.

The first and third are clearly due to petulant coaches/gms. Every officiated game ever played involved teams and players getting a feel for the way the game was being called and reacting accordingly. The Panthers did the same thing to Philly, but no one remembers that because Polian was such a driving force behind the change. Nor does anyone remember that Indy was clutching a grabbing on the OL pretty much the entire game, with at least half a dozen holds to the *back* of a player's jersey.... or the fact that Polian's Colts benefited from shoddy secondary officiating in the 2006 AFCCG.

The Harbaugh one is clearly neither against the letter or the spirit, and is relatively common play in lower levels.

I'll grant you that Vrabel calling a TO the officials were obliged to ignore (because one had just been taken) solely to distract a FG attempt was cheap, but that is the only example that fits your profile.

118 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

How did the colts benefit from shoddy secondary officiating? There was an obvious phantom pi call in the 3rd quarter, but the pats also got away with one before the half in the end zone.

Also, in the 03 game - there was definitely holding down the field in that game. Harrison was blatantly mugged. Look, they probably lose that game anyways all things considered so I don't feel deep down anger, but I do think people should recognize Polian had a point, even if imo he took it way too far in the other direction.

Even still, it might surprise you to know, having done time series analysis on this, there was another huge spike in pass numbers within the 2010 season - not a result of simple polian whining which happened 7 years earlier.

120 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

*How did the colts benefit from shoddy secondary officiating?*

I don't recall the Pats getting away with anything, but I'll take your word for it. The phantom call wasn't even the worst, Brown was called for OPI on a play where the defender initiated the contact and Bethea literally tackled Caldwell before the ball appeared on the screen on NE's penultimate drive. Those were huge plays, the first turned a first down on Indy's 18 and a near certain 24-3 lead into first and 20 from the 40. The second was egregious and would have meant Indy's TD at the end tied the game.

The issue is consistency. In the first AFCCG, the teams were treated equally. Indy's holding and two 3 second delay of games were just as uncalled as NE's defensive contact. In the second, Indy was the greater beneficiary and the calls themselves weren't consistent.

To use a baseball analogy, the strike zone was really wide in the first match up, but it was the same for both pitchers. In the second game, one team saw a tighter zone for their pitcher *and* a wider zone for their hitters. Even if the number of missed calls was smaller in game two, I contend the umpire had a greater effect.

And just as I'd have no problem with with MLB cracking down on lax strike zones, I have no problem with the NFL doing the same with playoff penalties. What I don't think is fair is the vilification of NE for doing the same thing that every team did.

*not a result of simple polian whining*

I don't recall saying it was. My issue with Polian is his blatantly self-interested grandstanding cloaked as concern for the league.

127 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

I'd have to go back and rewatch, but even then, I'll probably still have some bias. That as my favorite game all time and have so many fond memories from it.

Anyways, yes Polian's attitude was self serving, but he had a point. I do think he took it too far and as a fan of good defense; it disappointed me.

128 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

With the two calls mentioned in the 2006 AFCCG, I can't see any debate with Troy Brown's OPI. He runs right through the Colts DB.

As for the DPI uncalled on the Colts for interfering with Reche Caldwell... yeah that seemed like a missed call.

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

If you can, watch the Brown play again. The DB clearly slide steps into Brown's path at the last second. He did a good job of appearing to draw the charge, so to speak, but he initiated it.

131 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Fair enough, I will go back and rewatch it. There is no bad reason to rewatch that game anyway.

I've probably rewatched it already a dozen or so times over the years (the full game, that is), and I've never seen much issue with the call live. I will take a closer look, but as you said at the very least it was sold really well.

130 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Bias is the reason why I grant you that I may have deleted the uncalled DPI on NE from my memory banks. I also wouldn't necessarily object to someone disagreeing with my assessment of which umpire from the earlier analogy was more impacting. My main beef is the idea that the 2003 AFCCG was some kind of affront to competitive sports.

121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

To be clear, the Patriots used a legal formation on the Ravens play, but an illegal eligibility declaration.

Vereen and Hoomanawanui each declared ineligible on plays on the drive. But... once a player changes their eligibility status, they have to stay that way for the remainder of their time on the field -- they can't go back and forth. Also, they need to report on every play.

Basically, if you design a play intending to deceive the officials (which is what happened; Hoomanawanui went back and forth between being eligible and ineligible without leaving the field, also Vereen declared ineligible sufficiently late that it was probably against the rules) it's going to go away the next season. This has happened with every attempt to find a loophole in the substitution rules, literally since 1941. That's how we got the sideline rules and and the end zone rules and the hash mark rules and eligible player numbers.

123 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

"if you design a play intending to deceive the officials (which is what happened"

Considering the Patriots ran the plays by the officials during the week, "intent to deceive" rings of hyperbole.

"Vereen declared ineligible sufficiently late that it was probably against the rules"

This is inarguably false. If you want to say it was "against the spirit" or something to that effect, be my guest, but there is no case that it was against the letter.

126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Agree with Anonymous.

The refs weren't being deceived. They understood what was going on to the extent that they made it as clear as possible to the Ravens ... "Number 47 is INELIGIBLE, number 47, do not cover number 47."

But let's not forget this happened earlier in the season in a Lions-Vikings game. Belichick just happened to be the one who took notice and capitalised on it.

113 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Just for fun, I'll take your challenge-- I can think of 4 rule changes that were driven by the Dallas Cowboys, though the Cowboys probably weren't taking advantage of the preexisting rules in quite the way you're describing:

Banning the horse collar tackle (Roy Williams)

Increased sensitivity on offensive pass interference beyond 5 yards (Michael Irvin)

No removing helmet on the field of play (Emmitt Smith)

Penalties for excessive celebration (Deion Sanders)

74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Just looking at it over the last few years, from

2012: 3 Roughing The Passer calls (league average 2.81)
2013: 1 RTP (league average 2.81)
2014: 4 RTP (league average 3.09)
2015: 0 RTP (league average 3.19; I'd make a conspiracy joke but Cleveland had no roughing calls either)

2012: 7 Unnecessary Roughness calls (league average 5.5)
2013: 4 (league average 7.09)
2014: 7 (league average 5.38)
2015: 3 (league average 7.38)

They had 1 horse collar tackle penalty in 2012 and none the last 3 years, but teams average less than one of those per season. They were also below average in face mask penalties in every season but 2014, where they committed 7 with a league average of 2.88. Since they won a Super Bowl that year that clearly means face mask penalties=victory.

They aren't the cleanest team in the world but they aren't a Rex Ryan team.

78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

If you're going for a cheap shot-happy team, might I suggest "a Jeff Fisher team" as opposed to "a Rex Ryan team.". Ryan's teams can be chippy, but Fisher seems to delight in injuring opposing QBs.

108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Rex Ryan's teams are just undisciplined, although he does love hard hitting safeties (Eric Smith, drafting Calvin Pryor over Ha Ha Clinton Dix). You could argue the Steelers have a stronger history of being dirty than the Ravens, Jets and Bills.

The Pats really do go in for the dirtiness and cheap shots we're talking about here, and that's something I love about Belichick even as a Jets fan. He benched his Pro Bowl safety for a cheap shot hit three or four years ago.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

We need an Official zlions Fan Template for complaining that your team didn't get covered in Audibles. Yeah, yeah, I know, only so many games to watch.

On the first Buccaneers' drive, Winston missed two consecutive deep throws that would have been TDs, and they settled for the FG. I said to myself, "Winston's one huge weakness last year was his inability to hit the deep ball, I guess he didn't work on that in the offseason".

Suffice to say, I think maybe he might have calmed down a bit. Those throws to Sefarian-Jenkins and Mike Evans for TDs were pretty amazing on perfectly on-target, and I'm really going to be sad when Charles Sims gets very, very rich next year after his rookie deal runs out and Tampa can't afford to keep him. Very solid offensive performance all-around, and I'm trying to force myself to remember it was against Atlanta, whose defensive front seven can pretty generously be described as godawful.

There was a perfect illustration of what Kwon Alexander has done on the field in his brief career in the third quarter; first, he flashed in like a bullet and took down an RB in the backfield for a loss. On the very next play, it looked to me like he bit on a seam route and left Julio Jones completely uncovered in the middle of the field, and TD Atlanta. Alexander is very fast and still hasn't grasped coverage concepts. Still, between him, Lavonte, and Gerald McCoy, there was some pretty great defensive pressure.

Of course, the next four games are Cardinals, Rams, Broncos, Panthers. I'm kind of feeling like maybe the Bucs' offensive performance may not be quite as good in the coming weeks.

17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

I'm pretty comfortable saying now that Winston is going to be a well above average NFL starting qb. I really hated what happened to Lovie Smith, but I understand it. If your o-coordinator is thought to be working extremely well with a qb drafted number 1, and that o-coordinator is going to be hired way, then the move makes a lot of sense. Doesn't mean Smith didn't get treated unfairly, but unfair treatment is necessary sometimes.

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

The Packer young linebackers were sold to good in run defense and pretty decent when asked to rush but struggled in pass coverage. The young guys in the secondary saw really good performances from Dix and Randall but Rollins was benched for a while after being smoked by just about every Jax receiver. The classic 'let them play' game until the very end when after both teams were holding on offense Jax gets called for a holding against Daniels which was legit but no less egregious than the 4-5 times Matthews was held during the game.

Peppers was MIA. I wonder if because of the heat the coaches chose to sit him and save his legs for the season. He was not inactive but barely got on the field.

Lane Taylor, Sitton's replacement, held up ok. The guy is strong and knows his assignments but has bad feet which to me is a terrible trait for any lineman. Taylor really struggles to regain his balance if he gets off center. But yesterday he fought things to a draw.

If Adams can semi-consistently make catches like he did later in the game Rodgers will keep delivering him chances. But consistency is not Adams core competency at this point in his career.

Mike McCarthy has won a ton of games in the NFL and brings a lot to the table as a coach. But sweet mother Mary and Joseph his late game tactics still defy explanation. He goes for the fourth down early and then come mid 4th quarter has his team crawl into a shell hoping things stop.

Just so weird.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

I'm going to be cautiously optimistic that Rollins gets it together and that will be his worst game of the year. He might be better off focusing exclusively on playing the slot for another year, rather than being put outside.

Worried about Shields. If it's a 4th concussion, that means we're in "could be out for weeks, the rest of the season, or never come back at all" territory.

Burnett had some really nice moments but also some cringe worthy ones, and I'm also hoping that's a result a missing most of training camp.

21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

It occurs to me that NE picked the perfect time to have Collins try to jump the line and block the kick. There were no real downsides to the penalty in that situation and there was the chance that maybe he might succeed. And I wonder if that was in the snapper's mind on that FG attempt.

90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Kyle Turley got hurt at least once by someone trying to hurdle him.

This may be more what the rule is about:

The subject rule seems to date from 1983, and was due to Gary Lewis.

It's unclear whether he was leaping, jumping off a teammate, or both.

109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

You can see Lewis's kick blocking technique from this video of Lewis's three(!) blocks in the 1982 Packers-Cardinals playoff game. Basically, he took a runup from a few yards back and leapt, landing on either the center or left guard.

BTW, jumping off a teammate has been illegal since the 1973-74 offseason.

81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

It's interesting to review old rulebooks and what they banned. A very early bete noir was hurdling. Mostly, that was because it brought the knee up the head-height on a standing opponent -- a serious foul in a game that still resembled rugby.

Still, given how much attention this rule was given, as well as the composition of cleats, one is left with the impression that jumping onto people was considered as serious an infraction as shots to the head are today.

It doesn't get much attention today, but you also don't see many people landing with their feet on a lineman's shoulder pads, either.

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Wentz looked good in that first game. Yeah, it's the Browns, so we still don't know how he'll hold up to an actual pass rush or having to throw precisely on play after play of tight coverage, but the knock on him was supposed to be that NDSU doesn't even play competent college defenses so he'd be totally blindsided by the speed and complexity of the pro game at first. That didn't happen, and the Eagles have got to find it encouraging.

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Dalton deserves a lot of credit. He threw a lot of short stuff, but it was always accurate and on time, and he was perfect on the handful of deep shots they took. I don't think the sacks were really his fault either (unless he screwed up setting the protections). His INT was his only real mistake. This reminded me of Bills game last year in that the Jets were getting killed with short, quick passes to the outside and failed to adjust sufficiently. It's a red flag for the Bowles regime (which I otherwise have been pleased with). That said, a missed XP accounted for the point differential and the Jets were 2 of 5 in the redzone (including a blocked FG). They really shouldn't have needed a last minute drive. At least the DL looked very good, and they'll add Richardson back next week.

28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Surprised there's no commentary on the Giants' decision to punt on 4th and 1 from Dallas' 37 with 1:12 to go.

I think they should have gone for it, but I can see the logic in punting. Dallas had been moving the ball slowly with runs and dink-and-dunk passes; they had no timeouts left, and as it turned out even with a bad punt (touchback) they ran out of time. So I guess it worked, barely.

33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Tom Brady and Gronk aren't just two of the best players in the league, they are two of the best all time. So how does a team that is missing both, trades away their top pass rusher, starts a qb w no pro game experience, and on the road against a well coached tough opponent to boot - still manage to win? Do people really still doubt BB's value anymore?

41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

You are right. I've had debates w people on this thread that put his value at only above avg.

I think if the nfl wants to cripple the patriots, they need to find or engineer a way to get him permanently out of the league.

58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

...and yet they took away a pair of draft picks and $1 million, based on the logic that the Patriots were "repeated offenders", even though nobody could identify a single individual that would qualify as such.

The disparity between the Wells report, which praised the cooperation of the Patriots, and the subsequent punishment is astounding.

42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

You are right. I've had debates w people on this thread that put his value at only above avg.

I think if the nfl wants to cripple the patriots, they need to find or engineer a way to get him permanently out of the league.

50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

I'm not sure that "doesn't develop DBs adequately" is a valid criticism any more, considering the Patriots are starting a UDFA and a 3rd-round pick at corner and have one of the better pass defenses in the league. He missed on a few high-profile guys like Brandon Meriweather, Darius Butler, and Ras-I Dowling, but a few misses are inevitable in 17 years of drafting.

59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

"He doesn't draft that well."

That's hilarious.

How is he building these teams that win 12+ games every season?

Who drafted Brady, Gronkowski, Solder, Vollmer, Collins, Hightower, Edelman...well over half of the important players on the team?

Butler was an UDFA - is that supposed to count against BB because he has played better than other players who were drafted?

It's not like the Patriots are the 1980s NY Yankees. They're not built on high-priced free agents.

Accusations like this are based on the fact that every draft has some players that miss. But that's true for every team. And every draft has at least one player that slips relative to his eventual value, and who would be surely picked much higher in a mock re-draft. Does that count against everybody?

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

The fact that Belichick teams have done so well with UDFA's and late-round picks and relatively poorly with 2nd round picks (yes, with few notable exceptions) is a testament to his coaching.

Drafting a player who will eventually become good in a late round is luck.

If there was a team just like New England, but who's coach and GM were different people, and they were succeeding because of so much mid to low-round and UDFA talent, we would rightfully praise the heck out of the coach and probably ding the GM for missing on a lot of higher drafted guys.

Because in this case they are the same person doesn't change that.

Case in point with Brady. Getting him at pick 199 is not a sign that Belichick is a great GM. It is a sign that he was a great coach (and so were Charlie Weis, Josh McDaniels, etc.).

66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

I put together how teams did in the 3rd-7th round of the draft for an argument on another site. From 2011 to 2015 the Pats had 31 draft picks (13th most in the NFL) in those rounds. They've gotten 207 starts (21st in the NFL), 6.68 starts/pick (21st), 114 Weighted Career Approximate Value (22nd), 3.68 CarAV/pick (30th).

69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Any idea how they did with the guys drafted in rounds 1 & 2? They are supposed to be the elite, cant-miss prospects and therefore should be making the team for the longterm.

(I'd add the caveat that it can be harder for a successful team to draft because the rookie has to displace a 'successful' veteran)

76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

I didn't look at that because I was looking at late round picks for that particular argument. Just looking now:

2011- Nate Solder, Ras-I Dowling, Shane Vereen, Stefan Ridley
2012- Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower, Tavon Wilson
2013- Jamie Collins, Logan Dobson
2014- Dominique Easley, Jimmy Garoppolo
2015- Malcom Brown, Jordan Richards

Hightower was a 1st round pick. They didn't have a first round pick in 2013. Overall the only 1st rounder that's not worked out has been Easley. The 2nd round picks haven't been that great outside of Collins. I don't know how that compares to other teams.

110 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Part of why I was looking at picks after the first two rounds was to control for that. That's more of a reflection on scouting and development. I may have to add in average draft position.

111 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

I think Bill's strategy of moving down for extra picks reflects his awareness that he has no magic formula for draft success. At the same time, this strategy will artificially lower some of the criteria you use. For instance, if you are bringing in 2-3 more draftees than an average team every year, having more wash out will be a natural byproduct. It also seems likely that Bill's job security allows him to move on from a highly selected mistake easier than other teams.

I think a lot of it comes down to perspective. If two teams each get two starters and two role players out of a draft with seven equally valued picks, is it worse to have done so if one of those teams made two extra selections due to trades? Am I mistaken in assuming your numbers would have the latter team graded out lower?

One other thing, how do your metrics value special teams? That's clearly something Bill weighs heavily and I doubt he has any regret over arguable "reaches" like Gostkowski and Matt Slater.

140 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

one challenge is that people are often measuring draft success based on how much playing time drafted players see. On a roster with very competitive veterans that aren't rebuilding, competition for those spots is tighter. Faced with feeding into that playtime competition, a GM might choose to make far more high-risk choices, because if you're going to cut half of your draft choices anyway, taking players that you think have a 25% chance of being amazing but a 75% chance of washing out isn't actually a bad proposition, but will look like "bad drafting" in a vacuum.

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Garopplolo didn't have much game experience, but it wasn't none.

He had as much experience as the Eagles' entire QB roster and more than Denver's 2-deep.

35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Lots of Carson Wentz hype today - yes he was solid and looked like he belong in the NFL, but his propension to hold the ball for long and take unnecessary hits + not playing the Browns every week should lead to caution for the rest of the season. Both of his TD passes were very good throws though. I think I also saw Nelson Agholor beat a CB deep (!) and catch the ball afterwards (!!).

40 Re: whites

ye,s Jets usually been wearing whiote early season home games. but not Gaints. Raiders don't do this although think theu should early in season anyway. Raiders white jerseys look egart.

60 Re: egart

In reply to by Raiderjoe

Help me out here, I'm drawing a blank.

70 Re: egart

In reply to by Travis

It may just be me but the Raiders in white look more like Cygnus buccinator than any egret.

91 Re: egart

In reply to by RickD

emant to write great

53 Belichick time "management"

I was watching the game delayed on the DVR and was skipping from snap to snap and so didn't see this (if it actually happened). I still think he waited to long to call that final TO, though:

Before the 3rd down play Arizona probably figured they were going to go for it on 4th down, as they likely didn't expect to gain that much yardage on 3rd down (frankly I don't know why ALL the safeties were lined up 20 yards deep on that play), so they started running up to the LOS and then realized they were in FG range and the sideline waved them off the field to run the FG unit on. That is what BB saw and when it looked like they were organized he called the TO.

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Having watched the raiders saints and lions colts - I was pretty nauseated by all the awful defenses i saw. Hard to say which of the four was worse, but at least the colts can blame injuries.

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Yeah, when will Brady and Bill get their due for being GOAT? It's unfair to have all that success go unnoticed year after year after year.

83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

I'll be interested to see Houston against some better competition (KC next week, then Pats on a short week). The secondary is just eh, but that front seven is terrifying, even with only half a JJ-Watt (which I think it 500 Megawatts). I thought more highly of Osweiler's performance than Rivers did---there were surprisingly (given the Bears secondary) few wide-open receivers, and Osweiler's placement was very good all day, except the few times when he had someone about to hit him.

As for the Bears, well...turns out replacing Shea McClellin and Christian Jones with Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan is a very slight upgrade, such that the defense won't be a laughingstock. Maybe when the O-line has been together more than four days, and the rookie guard has played center more than once, things will look a bit better. I don't care how well Jeremy Langford runs, if he and Polynesian Football Player of the Year candidate Paul Lasike can't figure out how to pick up a single blitzer between them, he won't be starting very long. I don't know how Cutler still has a spleen after yesterday.

84 RG3 to IR

RG3 has been placed on IR.
(But remember, this year you do not have to designate for return when placed on IR. Instead, you can activate any one of your IRd players once they've been on IR for 6 weeks.)

85 Re: RG3 to IR

In reply to by PatsFan

8 weeks. They can practice after 6 weeks.

87 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

It's a good night to be a fan of this team. Then again, it's been a good two decades to be a fan of this team.

God, Aaron, you sure know how to rub it in, said Sore fan of another AFC East team.

92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Not really a single blowout all week (pending tonight's games), depending on how you feel about the Eagles-Browns result. I'm guessing this might set a record for the smallest range of VOAs for Week 1 in the database and be among the leaders for any week.

124 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Yeah, never mind about the no blowouts...

Rams can't score a single point against the 49ers and get Seattle next? I'm calling they don't score any offensive points again - but because of Jeff Fisher's voodoo hex over Pete Carroll, the Rams score TDs on a kick return, a blocked FG return and a strip-sack return and beat the Seahawks 21-16.

93 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Nice job, guys. An ascendant team (the Buccaneers) against a traditional power in their division (the Falcons), with the young team pulling off a win that may signal their new-found poise and confidence, and not one stitch of coverage. #brilliant

100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Hard to call a team that has gone 4-12, 6-10 and 8-8 the last three years (including 1-5 last year in the NFC South) a 'traditional power'.

And is a team that goes from 7 wins to 2 wins to 4 wins to 6 wins really "ascendant"? In poster's defense, though, I can't think of a nice literary term for "big second derivative."

98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

I wish people who complain about that would grasp that if they were to do an extended post about a game that the FO guys didn't cover, and they wrote well, the crowd that participates in this thread weekly would read it with interest. I know I would.

101 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Yes, exactly. While I enjoy some of the writing by the official FO team, I come here more for the discussion than anything. And many of the commenters are quite good writers, so it's often just as enjoyable when a commenter gives a game capsule.

The issue is---and I believe this is also the main issue with people who claim DVOA is biased (because, you know, algorithms have agency and feelings)---a lot of people come here looking for validation and get angry when it is not offered.

107 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Good grief, I just heard that the line on the Patriot went from -6.5 to -9.5, once it was announced that Gronk was out. I oughta' start paying attention to this stuff again.

134 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

OK, that was funny.

(edit) All irrationality aside, pro or con Patriots, a 4-0 start at this point would not surprise, and 3-1 looks highly probable. Then the HOFer gets back, with no wear and tear, and the backup having gained extremely valuable experience.

Roger Goodell is a Patriots' fan best ally.

135 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

The fact that they are able to do this without gronkowski and all that offensive line upheaval is staggering. If you threw those conditions on Pittsburgh or Green Bay; i'm not sure they win more than 1 game out of 4.

142 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 1

For some reason a question I posted has been deleted.

Does DYAR treat a sack for 0 yards the same as an incompletion?