Audibles at the Line: Week 2

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

compiled by Andrew Potter

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around emails 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 e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Steelers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors 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.

Kansas City Chiefs 12 at Houston Texans 19

Vince Verhei: We got the whole Marcus Peters experience on the first drive of the game. He gave a 20-yard cushion to Will Fuller, and Fuller still blew by him for what should have been a long touchdown. Fuller bobbled the ball, and though he eventually reeled it in, he was tackled inside the 5. Then on third-and-goal, Peters jumps a short route to intercept the ball and take back the scoring chance he had given Houston in the first place.

Texans just don't respect Peters at all. They recover a fumble when the snap goes over Alex Smith's head, then score on the very next play when Peters attempts to tackle DeAndre Hopkins before the pass arrives. Hopkins wards him off, catches the ball, and goes into the end zone.

Early impressions of Brock Osweiler: He is very much a "throw the ball to the first read whether he's open or not" kind of guy.

Sterling Xie: Demetrius Harris gets your "how was that not a catch?" nomination of the week. Harris took about three full steps after a catch down the seam before fumbling, but the play was overturned to an incompletion upon review. The explanation was that he was going to the ground and didn't complete the catch, but he was only going to the ground because he was being tackled. Looked a little like the famous Dez non-catch, where he was stumbling forward after initially gaining possession.

And just like the Dez non-catch, it looked like a catch. If Harris had taken three consecutive steps in basketball, that would have been traveling. Can't we say that traveling in basketball equals possession in football?

Andrew Potter: Completely disagree with you on that play, Sterling. He was clearly stumbling and falling immediately on catching the ball, and was contacted by a defender as he was falling. That type of play has been an incomplete pass forever, and will remain so forever more. No doubt in my mind it was going to be overturned.

Vince Verhei: Texans lead 13-3 at halftime, and the real story has been Houston's total dominance on defense. Kansas City had four drives in the first quarter that gained 8 yards -- total, not apiece. Their only score came on a 53-yard field goal, which was set up by a 32-yard punt return. In between, the offense moved backwards 2 yards. Chiefs did get some plays in the second quarter, but their last two drives both ended in lost fumbles. These may be connected. Those big plays usually came after broken tackles. Looks like Houston is putting such an emphasis on taking the ball away that sometimes they're forgetting to wrap up.

One other note on Houston's first half. At one point they tried a reverse to Braxton Miller with Osweiler as a lead blocker. This is not as silly as it sounds -- Osweiler is 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds, and should have at least been able to stand in somebody's way. Instead he ran up to a linebacker, then backed away, and Miller was tackled for a 2-yard loss.

Texans were driving and getting big plays in the passing game, and it looked like they were finally going to get the score they needed to really put Kansas City away. Then Osweiler tried to hit Hopkins on a deep route. Peters was playing physical coverage again, but Hopkins seemed to have him boxed out. But Osweiler's pass sailed wide and bounced off Hopkins hand and into Peters', who added a nice return. Chiefs then run the old school option pitch to Charcandrick West for 21 yards before the drive stalls, and they get a field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter to pull within one score, 13-6. 

Through three quarters, the Chiefs have three runs of 20 yards or more, but their longest completion has gained only 13 yards. Counting sacks, they have 48 yards on 26 passing plays. Yet they're in the game. I'd just keep running.

Scott Kacsmar: The Chiefs actually kicked three field goals in the fourth quarter when down by 10 points each time. I really could not criticize any of the three decisions to kick, but that just speaks to the failure of their offense in the red zone and a disappointing finish to this game. Good job by the Texans to keep building the lead with some key conversions. Will Fuller seems like a perfect fit for Osweiler, who is more gunslinger than he may have shown in Denver last year.

Rivers McCown: Went to this one.

I think the throws Osweiler had forced upon him by the play design were difficult. He does have some placement issues, but he and Fuller have created an offense that can actually create yards in a single-high safety world. They do it inefficiently, but they do it. It's a quantum leap from the last two years of quarterback play.

My biggest issue was the red zone play calling. I am curious if Houston just doesn't trust the offensive line at this point in power situations, or if it's about the two teams they have played so far. But this is a LOT of shotgun spread for an offense that doesn't have a player who wins in space. It's basically asking Osweiler to win on pure accuracy, which isn't exactly his best attribute. Of course, when you have J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus against the Chiefs offensive line, you can afford some cuteness I guess.

K.C.'s offensive game plan was bizarre to me. You could tell the Texans wanted to run their offense through Will Fuller. K.C. wanted to run first and foremost, but I thought they should have run the passing game through Travis Kelce. Houston had trouble matching him, mostly using A.J. Bouye or Kareem Jackson inside. Yet Kelce was off the field in a few passing situations altogether, and the Chiefs wanted to throw outside. I didn't get it.

Dallas Cowboys 27 at Washington Redskins 23

Sterling Xie: Dez Bryant got four targets on that first drive, including one when the offense was near the goal line, which should really come as no surprise given last week's lack of production. I would love to have seen Dez's reaction when Dak Prescott said earlier this week, "If Dez is the read, Dez is the read." Anyways, looks like we're seeing Bashaud Breeland on the opponent's top receiver, as we did last week. Breeland gave up two big chunks but defended that goal-line fade nicely. The first time Breeland looked like he could really start in this league was when he played Bryant extremely well on Monday Night Football at Dallas two seasons ago. While still an obviously tough assignment, think Dez profiles as a better matchup for Breeland than Antonio Brown did based on playing style.

San Francisco 49ers 27 at Carolina Panthers 46

Bryan Knowles: Something magic happens for Ted Ginn in Carolina. He just caught a 42-yard bomb from Cam Newton to give the Panthers their first lead of the day. Ginn averages 40 yards per game in his 32 games in Carolina, and just over 20 in 104 games everywhere else.

Oops, they just took the score off the board while I was checking my numbers there; Ginn's foot was out of bounds. 49ers dodge a bullet there.

The 49ers might be getting a little predictable. Their first eight plays saw seven runs and only one pass attempt; the Panthers keyed up on the run, forced a fumble, and scored their first points of the day.

One of the stories last year for Carolina was Jonathan Stewart's health; the 13 games he started last year was a career high, and there were some rumblings that the sprained foot that kept him out of Carolina's last few games last year was more precautionary than anything else. That relatively good bout from health seems to be over -- he was questionable going into this week's game with an ankle injury, and had to leave the game in the first quarter with a hamstring. The backup is Fozzy Whittaker who, as I type this, fumbles the ball to give the ball back to the 49ers. It's something to watch -- when Stewart was splitting time with DeAngelo Williams, his health wasn't quite as important to the team's success. Now that he's the primary bell cow, though...

And now Fozzy Whittaker's being evaluated for a concussion, leaving the Panthers down to just Cameron Artis-Payne and Mike Tolbert. Of course, that won't matter if the 49ers forget to cover Greg Olsen, who was ~wide~ open for a 78-yard touchdown, absolutely torching Antoine Bethea. This has not been the first time Olsen has been wide-open, but Cam Newton missed him earlier. Didn't miss that time.

Vince Verhei: Panthers just used the best play design ever: 5-foot-9, 250-pound Mike Tolbert lined up in the slot and ran a skinny post -- and it worked! And he was rumbling through the secondary for a good gain, and sadly the Panthers were called for holding and the play technically never happened. Alas.

Bryan Knowles: Tom's description of Tennessee/Detroit can apply here, too -- San Francisco has to play perfect football to beat Carolina, and they have been making mistakes. Carlos Hyde had a rare fumble inside the 10, which the Panthers returned for a touchdown. Blaine Gabbert has missed some wide-open receivers on third down, and Antoine Bethea was torched by Greg Olsen on a 78-yard bomb. So far, it feels like Carolina's a good team that's having trouble hitting all cylinders; San Francisco is a bad team playing above their heads.

That being said, they're only down 17-10 at halftime. Carolina's clearly more explosive (leading 7.1 yards per play to 4.7), but the 49ers are doing a remarkable job of hanging in there. If they can find a way to get a little pressure on Newton in the second half, they might still pull off an upset in this one. Either way, it has been a closer game than I think most people were anticipating up to this point.

Vince Verhei: I'm not sure what to say about San Francisco right now. Ten points in a half isn't bad, and Blaine Gabbert is averaging almost 8 yards a pass, which is something he has only done in four games with 10 or more passes, ever. And yet, they've also punted four times and lost a fumble, so the pace is making things hard to interpret. 

I guess the biggest takeaway is that their defense is much better than most of us gave them credit for going into the year. They haven't given up many big plays, they've done a good job forcing Carolina off the field (Panthers are 2-of-6 on third downs), and they're keeping the 49ers in the game.

Bryan Knowles: And now the Panthers start pulling away. Turns out, Kelvin Benjamin is pretty good at this whole "catching passes" thing -- he has made quite a few great grabs today, even when San Francisco has put on solid coverage. Benjamin's just too big and too strong. Score's 31-10, which is more in line with what people were expecting coming in, I think. Survivor pools around the country breathe a sigh of relief.

Red Zone just commented that Cam Newton hasn't drawn a roughing the passer call for over a year, which is a bit shocking in and of itself. That's less shocking today, however, as I'm not sure a 49er has come within 4 yards of Newton in the backfield.

... and JUST as I send that, the 49ers get a strip-sack, so yeah. Audibles curse in full effect.

Vince Verhei: Panthers are playing sloppy enough that the 49ers still have a glimmer of hope. Newton fumbles trying to scramble on third-and-2, and the 49ers recover and appear to return it for a touchdown, but it's ruled they were out of bounds at about the 15. That leads to a field goal. Ted Ginn fumbles the ensuing kickoff like he's wearing boxing gloves and the 49ers recover inside the 5, setting up a Blaine Gabbert touchdown run, and it's 31-20 Carolina with more than 12 minutes to go. That's a lot considering San Francisco goes fast enough to get three or four more possessions in that time.

Miami Dolphins 24 at New England Patriots 31

Aaron Schatz: The Patriots are just toying with the Miami defense in Foxborough right now. 14-0 with 6:22 left in the first quarter. Handsome Jimmy G. is 9-for-10 for 136 yards and two touchdowns. The first touchdown was a great play where his initial read was covered, and he had the patience to wait and then find Danny Amendola, who then stretched it over the goal line. Second touchdown was an open seam pass to Martellus Bennett.

Cian Fahey: Thought Garoppolo was mostly just a caretaker last week against the Cardinals save for two big throws. Not the case this week. He has been carving up an admittedly lost looking Dolphins back seven.

Kiko Alonso can't move and the Patriots know it. Any play that goes laterally exposes him.

Aaron Schatz: Gee, it's not like the Patriots run any pass plays that stress a defense horizontally.

We're so used to players coming back from knee injuries fine these days that we forget that recovery isn't always 100 percent. I think we can toss Alonso on the list of players who were never the same along with guys like Daunte Culpepper and Robert Griffin.

The other problem for Miami is that there is no pass pressure today. Almost zero. One play that drew an offensive holding penalty, and that's it. Otherwise, Handsome Jimmy G pretty much has all day back there.

Andrew Potter: Cian's comment about a lost-looking Dolphins secondary really came to the fore on Danny Amendola's second touchdown. When the Patriots line up, nobody covers James White wide to the left. The Dolphins safeties bark orders to each other and Isa Abdul-Quddus moves from center field to cover him. Garoppolo takes the snap in the shotgun and throws over the middle to Amendola, in almost the exact spot Abdul-Quddus had vacated to cover White. Bobby McCain allowed -- encouraged even -- Amendola to release inside, and was clearly expecting the safety still to be there.

Aaron Schatz: The Dolphins just put Arian Foster out wide and had Kenyan Drake in the backfield. I'm not sure the point of doing it that way and not the other way around. The Texans never got anything out of their "motion Arian Foster out wide" plays.

Vince Verhei: This, uh, is not going to do wonders for Seattle's opponent adjustments. But really, what we have seen in about six quarters is a pretty clear pictures of Miami's defense. Their pass rush is good enough to dominate bad offensive lines, but if that pass rush can't get home, their secondary can't cover anyone.

Aaron Schatz: Jimmy Garoppolo scrambles and hits Malcolm Mitchell for a first down on third-and-9, gets knocked down after the throw (by Alonso, I think) and comes up gripping his throwing shoulder. Clearly in serious pain. Time for the Jacoby Brissett Show. That's probably a better show when it starts with a 21-0 lead and already in field goal range.

Cian Fahey: The Dolphins drafted DeVante Parker to give their quarterback a greater margin for error. He's not a yards-after-catch threat and he can't run routes with any kind of precision. His value is winning the ball at the catch point. He had one clear drop early in the game that would have been a big play and followed it up by not pulling in a slightly outside throw in the end zone at the end of the first half.

Add in Ryan Tannehill struggling with his consistency and against pressure with Jarvis Landry running backwards/sideways when he catches the ball... and the Dolphins look like the same steaming pile they looked like under Philbin.

Aaron Schatz: Guys running backwards after the catch in hopes of making the low-probability big YAC play where they somehow outmaneuver everybody is one of my pet peeves.

I thought DeVante Parker finally got a touchdown for the Dolphins when Justin Coleman slipped in coverage. But nope, it was Kenny Stills.

Cian Fahey: All the Dolphins needed was the Patriots' third-string quarterback to make this a competitive game. The more things change...

Aaron Schatz: The Patriots offense has definitely slowed down without Garappolo, but his injury isn't responsible for Ryan Tannehill finally looking... oh, let's say, average instead of terrible. The Dolphins are getting the ball more than in the first half, but they are also moving it more. As an extra added bonus, I think every one of Ryan Allen's punts today has taken a Miami bounce for a few yards.

Definitely need to link this phenomenal hurdle by LeGarrette Blount:

However, the drive was ruined by a strip-sack when a Michael Thomas blitz came unblocked. Patriots recovered but had to punt.

Dolphins have come back to make it 31-24. They've basically come back with the Patriots' own offense, crossing patterns and wheel routes. Plus, Justin Coleman has slipped on the grass in coverage on Kenny Stills at least twice, including that earlier touchdown.

Shocking ending averted in New England. Stephen Gostkowski misses wide right on a 39-yard field goal (!) and the Dolphins march it up the field but run out of downs and Ryan Tannehill throws a pick in the end zone on fourth-and-5 with 0:09 left. The Patriots escaped this one but it's not good that this defense gave up so many yards in the second half. They've got to be able to cover crossing patterns. I know there was a time of possession change after Brissett came in, but I doubt this was about the defense being tired.

Also, this is my own little small obsession, but I'm hung up on the question of who plays backup quarterback for the Pats on Thursday night, assuming Garappolo can't play. Who can they bring in with four days to prepare? My only thought is Ryan Lindley or Matt Flynn, who were in camp with them last year. But Lindley is just so, so bad.

As for the Dolphins defense -- things were better in the second half but I think you can chalk that up to the backup quarterback and a couple of drops by Julian Edelman. (Brissett was 6-for-9, and two of those incompletes were straight-out Edelman drops.) I said on Twitter that I would spend the game trying to track Ndamukong Suh; I stopped after the first half because I wanted to watch Brissett, but in the half I watched him closely, he was not a big factor. He's a factor, certainly. He draws a double-team on nearly every play, run or pass, usually the center and the right guard. But he never beat that double-team, and the Dolphins got most of their (rare) pass pressure on plays where he was off the field. A few times he drew just the right guard -- usually that was Ted Karras, rather than Shaq Mason, and Karras held his own on those plays. Suh was better against the run, where he had a habit of rolling off his block to help grab Blount once Blount was a yard or so behind him.

Anyway, only one half of plays here, not a definite statement on the player, but he certainly wasn't a game-changer today.

One more thing to add: This is one of the things that causes DVOA to sometimes disagree with final results. DVOA will give the Dolphins a lot of credit for their final drive, even though it did not reach the end zone. Just gaining the yardage to be in position to tie the game shows good play.

Baltimore Ravens 25 at Cleveland Browns 20

Aaron Schatz: Cleveland leading Baltimore 14-0. I'm seeing a lot of comments online about "Oh, this must mean Buffalo is horrible because they lost to Baltimore" or "Oh, this must mean Philadelphia is amazingly good."

Week 1 is National Jump to Conclusions Week. Week 2 is Pretend Sample Size is Meaningless So Any Week-to-Week Differences Are Shocking Week.

Bryan Knowles: Josh McCown has gone back to the locker room after taking a shot, so the Browns might well be down to their third quarterback of the season already -- rookie Cody Kessler.

Sterling Xie: ... and all the fantasy owners who bought low on Gary Barnidge because of the McCown connection sigh.

Bryan Knowles: Josh McCown, who has been putting in a gutty performance coming off the bench, just threw an interception that's going to pretty much seal it. After jumping to a 20-point lead, the Browns gave up 25 consecutive points, and the dream of 0-16 stays alive.

Cincinnati Bengals 16 at Pittsburgh Steelers 24

Scott Kacsmar: Rain is having an impact so far with gripping the ball. Both teams have called their share of runs. Ben Roethlisberger had another one of those "Quarterback Release Slipped" plays we only chart a few of per season. He also may have lost his grip on a fourth-down throw that Adam Jones intercepted, only to lose some field position for the Bengals. Antonio Brown cut in, but the throw went out. But on the next drive, Roethlisberger shows why the Steelers can afford to lose various skill players and keep producing. First, a classic improv scramble and deep ball for Sammie Coates. Then a strike over the middle to Xavier Grimble, who makes a nice move on his first career catch for a touchdown. I'll admit I don't know every single Pittsburgh player like I used to now that I try to cover all 32 teams, but Grimble's name never once came up in the offseason work that went into FOA 2016. This is the first I've heard of him, and between that play and a nice catch by Jesse James earlier, the Steelers aren't exactly hurting without Heath Miller and Ladarius Green.

The rain has stopped and we're seeing more pass plays now. The Steelers have moved the ball better than Cincinnati, but not sure I would ever advise a quick pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey in traffic on third down. That stops another promising drive with the Steelers up 7-3.

Vince Verhei: If there was any doubt about mutual dislike in this game, well, forget it. They are POPPING each other, on both sides of the ball. Every block, every tackle, every hit on a receiver is delivered at 100 percent.

Scott Kacsmar: Bengals are stuck in a field position battle. They're not moving the ball, so they punt deep in their own end and the Steelers aren't taking advantage on their end. While the rain stopped, the field looks pretty chewed up again. On a third-and-10, Roethlisberger slipped, but got up and found Brown wide open for the first down, only to see him drop it, a very rare sight. And safety Mike Mitchell is daring to get fined for a cheap shot here.

Dre Kirkpatrick did a good job of picking off a deep ball from Roethlisberger to Coates. The Bengals took advantage of that with a late field goal drive to cut it to 10-6, but at least Artie Burns was able to introduce himself with a pass break-up in the end zone. Not many impact plays at all by the Pittsburgh defense through six quarters this season. Jarvis Jones dropped an interception that Dalton threw right to him on that drive.

Remember when the Steelers were so high on Sammie Coates going into the Denver playoff game even though he barely played in 2015? Then when Martavis Bryant was suspended for 2016, Coates seemed like a natural pick to try filling that void, or at least be the third wideout on the depth chart. But a shaky preseason with some fumbles led to him falling behind Eli Rogers and apparently DHB. But at least through seven quarters, common sense seems to have won out. Coates has three catches of 40-plus yards this season and is doing Bryant-like things for this offense. Then there's Jesse James with a Heath Miller-like touchdown and the Steelers are up 17-6 in a sloppy game with a bunch of dropped passes on both sides of the ball by both teams. But the Steelers' new contributors have hung onto enough throws to get this lead.

Aaron Schatz: I do think it makes sense that Eli Rogers and Sammie Coates fit different roles. So if they want to start Marcus Wheaton when he's healthy, then Rogers is the possession slot guy and Coates is there go to deep when they go to four-wide.

Scott Kacsmar: DeAngelo Williams has played too well for Steelers to ignore him once Le'veon Bell returns. Just all but wrapped this game away with some nice runs and catches on a touchdown drive. Of course anyone can catch a pass when you're not even covered in the end zone, but the YAC play he made earlier on a second-and-13 was huge. Much like in Washington when it was 24-16 in the fourth quarter, the Steelers shake off some earlier sloppiness and put everything together for a long touchdown drive.

Carl Yedor: While I wasn't a huge fan of the Bengals not going for two after their touchdown that brought them within 9, I get the feeling that it won't end up mattering because of their struggles moving the ball today. Regardless of whether they hypothetically fail on the two-point conversion on their first touchdown or their second, I doubt they would end up with enough time to get the ball back and kick a field goal.

Although as I have been typing this the Bengals have been moving the ball much better on this drive. We'll see.

Scott Kacsmar: Well that's probably going to be the first real controversial ending of the season. James Harrison is ruled to have forced a Tyler Boyd fumble, and it sure looked like Boyd's knee was down before he lost the ball. The call somehow stood and that all but killed the clock for the Bengals. I definitely do not see conclusive evidence of a fumble, but they kept playing the same angle over and over.

Rob Weintraub: I'd be more pissed about the "fumble" but it merely prevented the inevitable "Bengals score a touchdown but blow the two-point conversion" ending.

Tennessee Titans 16 at Detroit Lions 15

Sterling Xie: Lions just committed three consecutive penalties (two holdings and an offensive pass interference) to wipe out two passing touchdowns and a 14-yard gain. Went from first-and-goal at the 1 to first-and-goal at the 26.

Tom Gower: 12-3 at halftime, Lions up. The Titans have to play perfect football to win, and they have been making mistakes. Like returning kicks out of the end zone, and starting at the 7 after a penalty. That was the first possession. A subsequent one started at the 5 after a hold on a punt return. That ended in a safety. They have been having some but not great success moving the ball -- enough to get to long field goal range a couple times. But a couple Marcus Mariota sacks have made life more difficult there, so they have hit from 46, missed from 51, and eschewed a 56-ish attempt to punt.

The Lions have had more success moving the ball, but the officials have gotten them too. They had three touchdowns taken off the board due to penalties. Ameer Abdullah, if I recall correctly, lost one on a hold -- which was followed by their actual flag-less touchdown. The other two came on back-to-back plays, for offensive pass interference and holding. That possession ended with a field goal attempt. Matthew Stafford has been reasonable. The big surprise to me is that Marvin Jones has been the guy so far, not Golden Tate (5-39 to 1-5), who I thought would have an easier time getting open. Jim Caldwell punted on fourth-and-2 from the Titans 39 after a third-and-short stop; DeMarco Murray got 67 on the next play to set up the punt from the edge of field goal range.

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Overall, Tennessee's problem remains the same -- they can get random big plays like Murray's 67-yarder or the 32-yard completion to Delanie Walker where the Lions didn't bother to cover him -- but they lack the explosive elements to do it consistently, so they have to be incredibly good at execution to score. And they're not. I'll try not to harp on this too much every single week, but it's unlikely to change this year. And whatever Marcus Mariota may one day be, he's not prime Tom Brady, and that's what the Titans need him to be.

Bryan Knowles: Andre Johnson with an amazing catch through double-coverage to give Tennessee a lead with just over a minute left! That was a heck of a risky pass by Mariota, but he put it right on the spot.

Tom Gower: Obviously, not the result I was expecting given what I wrote 30 minutes of football ago. But Tennessee started moving the ball effectively, especially once Kyle Van Noy went down and the Lions were down to Tahir Whitehead and Thurston Armbrister, signed two weeks ago, as their healthy linebackers. The final game-winning touchdown drive in particular was about spreading the field, in either "regular" personnel or 11, and attacking mostly the middle of the field with short to intermediate throws. The winning score went to Andre Johnson in the middle of the end zone, over Whitehead and amidst a crowd of other defenders. The other score, early in the fourth quarter, was a nice downfield seam throw to Delanie Walker, who finished 8-83.

But the key to the second half to me was that the Lions offense just generated 3 points. They didn't have a consistent run game -- that didn't surprise me too much, since the Titans are trying to focus on that, but I thought the backs and Golden Tate would be productive in the short passing game and give the Titans fits with yards after catch. Didn't happen. Tate had a couple chances at very good catches on downfield throws, but couldn't haul either in and finished with just two receptions. The Titans also found a pass rush. They got their first sack of the season at the end of the first half, and brought down Stafford three times in the final two quarters, including after the Lions crossed midfield on their second-best drive of the half and on the final possession (though the Lions did convert the ensuing third-and-19). But he would throw the ball right to Perrish Cox on the next third down, and Matt Cassel came out for the kneeldowns.

Jumping conclusions?

1. Tennessee can move the ball if they go spread with the short to intermediate passing game.

2. DeAndre Levy, who did not play today, is very important to the Lions defense.

3. The Lions have a lot of holes in the back seven outside of Levy, Glover Quin, maybe Darius Slay and Whitehead. The Titans had a lot of open receivers.

4. Last week said a lot more about the Colts defense, which I riffed on last week, than it did about the Lions. No consistent run game, some pressure on Stafford, and I'm not sure what their go-to is aside from maybe the back-shoulder throw to Marvin Jones.

Also, 29 penalties. It was sloppy. Most of the calls were very correct ones. More could have been thrown, I think. I didn't think it was that slanted in favor of one team or the other, but it made it incredibly sloppy.

Further, CBS listed the Lions with seven drops at one point late in the game. Yes, they were droppy.

Cian Fahey: I didn't see any of this game but Tom mentioned the offense working when it goes to spread. This is something I wrote an article on last week.

Tom Gower: Belated erratum: the uncovered Delanie Walker catch led to the missed field goal. The actual field goal drive included a Lions secondary flag on what otherwise would have been a third-down stop.

New Orleans Saints 13 at New York Giants 16

Bryan Knowles: When these two teams met last year, Drew Brees and Eli Manning combined for 13 touchdown passes. Still waiting for one today...

Andrew Potter: That touchdown finally arrives from Drew Brees to Willie Snead on a strange play where John Kuhn is split wide to the right and Snead gets a free run up the seam after setting up narrow on the line on scrimmage at the right hash. Snead was wide open at the goal line.

This game has seen some uncharacteristically good coverage and tackling. Neither pass rush is dominant, but the run games have been contained and the biggest play for both teams is the same play: Victor Cruz had a 40-yard reception, but fumbled at the end of the play on a tackle by Ken Crawley. Eli Manning lost the ball on a strip-sack that could easily have seen Manning ruled down, and the Saints also recovered a Shane Vereen fumble to go three-for-three on loose ball recoveries. Throw in the Giants going for it but failing on an early fourth-and-2 in the red zone -- a decision I liked -- and the Giants themselves are probably the biggest reason the Saints are still in the game.

Bryan Knowles: Giants score no offensive touchdowns, turn the ball over three times ... and still won. That's hard to do -- it's only the 70th time that's happened in NFL history. Add in the fact that they had a minus-3 turnover differential, and it's only the 10th time that's ever occurred. Not what I was expecting after last season's offensive explosion.

Andrew Potter: It's not what I expected after last week's Saints game either, but it's hard to overstate just how different the Saints defense was this week compared to last. The tackling in particular was night-and-day -- in fact both of these defenses tackled well, covered well, and looked remarkably solid against two of the more potentially explosive offenses in the league. Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins were noticeable standouts for the Giants, whereas Craig Robertson looked good on more than just the stat sheet for New Orleans. Honorable mention too for Sterling Moore, who only joined the Saints less than a fortnight ago but was matched up against Odell Beckham time and again to good effect -- Beckham got his yards, which you'd expect, but his biggest play came on one of the few targets where Moore was not covering him (Moore still got the cleanup tackle).

The Giants spoke after the game about forcing Brees to move off his spot, but I didn't actually see a lot of that -- what I saw was good coverage and good tackling forcing offenses to execute repeatedly to sustain drives. The Giants have better receivers at this point to enable them to do that, and generally better defenders to prevent the Saints from doing so, but were still dependent on a field goal return touchdown to actually win the game. If the Giants defense can play at this level all season, they're very well positioned to win the NFC East.

Seattle Seahawks 3 at Los Angeles Rams 9

Carl Yedor: Predictable start in Los Angeles so far. The Rams defensive line has been making the Seahawks offensive line look like they should've been playing yesterday. But a key offsides penalty on a third-and-long gives the Seahawks a second chance and they subsequently convert the third-and-5. There have been a lot of penalties so far (eight at the end of the first quarter), and I don't expect that to change going forward.

Vince Verhei: So you know how San Francisco has had 16 possessions (and counting) today? First quarter ends, and the Seahawks are still in their second drive. I believe four of their five rushing plays have been stuffed for no gain or a loss, but unlike last week, Russell Wilson has found just enough receivers open downfield to move the ball. 

And as the second quarter begins, the Rams defense stands and Seattle kicks a short field goal to tie the game 3-3. Rams got on the board first with the usual anti-Seattle, death-by-a-thousand-curl-routes game plan to get a field goal.

Sadly, the Rams' magic talisman that makes Seattle play so bad apparently made the trip from St. Louis. I was really hoping it was buried under the dome. Thomas Rawls currently has seven carries for minus-7 yards. I believe that is bad. And he has a knee injury and may not return. The pass blocking has actually been much better for Seattle, until the last play of the half, when Robert Quinn smokes Bradley Sowell for a sack-fumble to ensure Seattle doesn't get a chance at a field goal. Still, the passing game has worked so much better, you have to think they'll stick with it more in the second half. 

The Rams added a field goal on their last drive, thanks mostly to a 44-yard Lance Kendricks reception when Seattle blew coverage against him. Second time in a week that the opponents' biggest play has come from blown coverage. So they're up 6-3 going into the second half.

But yes, it's the usual Rams-Seahawks game, where it seems like it they may as well just get rid of the ball and have a big battle royal instead.

Bryan Knowles: Seattle just doesn't seem right. At the half, they've run the ball 14 times for a grand total of 14 yards. Wilson has been sacked once and hit five more times. The Rams' defense is taking advantage of Seattle's questionable offensive line... but can't get anything going themselves when they have the ball. They're holding on to a 6-3 lead, and with the way Seattle's offense is going, that just might be enough. L.A. would be doing better if they could get a rushing game going, too, but Todd Gurley's at just 19 yards on the ground.

Football's weird sometimes, and the fact that the Rams are 3-1 against Seattle over the past two years is exhibit A.

Vince Verhei: Rams are moving on their first drive of the second half and threatening to move into scoring range, but Frank Clark gets a sack on third-and-long to stop that. Clark actually lined up at nose tackle on the play, and knifed through the A-gap so quickly the guard and center couldn't even get out of their stances.

Three quarters down in Los Angeles, and the Rams are still up 6-3 and once again threatening to cross into the red zone. I can accept the offensive struggles because Seattle's line is so bad and L.A.'s defensive line is so good. But I would sure like to know why all these terrible Rams quarterbacks look so good against Seattle.

Cian Fahey: Sheil Kapadia had a great tweet on Tavon Austin.

Aaron Schatz: Tavon Austin would be a lot more useful if he was in the Randall Cobb role on a team that had an Aaron Rodgers and a Jordy Nelson, but even then, he wouldn't be a good enough slot receiver to be the equal of Cobb. You can't make a gimmick player your No. 1 receiver.

Vince Verhei: Seahawks get a sack on third-and-long inside the Rams 10 and are going to get the ball back in great field position with plenty of time -- but it's a face mask on Cassius Marsh, and a first down for L.A. Remarkably, Seattle still forces a punt, but now they need 89 yards with one timeout and 1:53 to go.

Welp. Wilson hits one big play to Tyler Lockett to enter Rams territory, but then on third down Christine Michael fumbles after a reception, Rams recover, and that's that. 

For all the success Seattle has had in recent years, they are now 4-5 against the Rams in the Russell Wilson era.

Bryan Knowles: Rams force a fumble, fall on it, and that will be the game. Jeff Fisher has a voodoo doll of Seattle hidden somewhere... or is it possible the Seahawks just aren't as good as they have been? That's two games now where they have struggled with a powerful defensive line. Things don't get a heck of a lot easier for them coming up, either -- the 49ers are the easiest draw, with two first-round picks on their line, and then they get the Jets with Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson. I'd predict they'd get quite a bit of their mojo back next week at home against San Francisco, but the interior of their offensive line is just a disaster at this point, relying too much on Wilson making something out of nothing play in and play out.

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Rivers McCown: Been seeing some Twitter talk about Russell Wilson's numbers being way down -- he's on a ridiculous pressure pace right now. I'm honestly not sure the Seahawks would have a worse offensive line if they signed five new guys off practice squads. It's almost like relying on Bradley Sowell and J'Marcus Webb was not wise.

Bryan Knowles: Russell Wilson did not throw a touchdown pass, breaking the longest-active NFL streak.

The new active leader? Blaine Gabbert.

We live in interesting times.

Vince Verhei: You know the worst thing about this loss? Once again, a horrible Rams quarterback looks great against what is usually a very good defense. Case Keenum completed 60 percent for an 8.0-yard average, and if anything looked better than that -- a lot of those were throws into very tight windows, often down the left sideline.

Oh, and I did some math. Seahawks had 24 runs. Ten of them went for no gain or a loss. That's a stuff rate of 42 percent. Forty. Two.

Jacksonville Jaguars 14 at San Diego Chargers 38

Bryan Knowles: Chargers can't catch a break. Danny Woodhead was carted off the field with what looked like a knee injury, just a week after losing Keenan Allen. Hasn't hurt them yet -- they just scored again to go up 14-0 -- but that's potentially two major injuries to key players in two weeks for San Diego.

I will say that the Chargers don't seem to be missing Keenan Allen much today. Travis Benjamin's doing a fine job filling in with a touchdown reception and a nice 43-yard catch-and-run when matched up against Paul Posluszny -- that's a matchup the Chargers will take all day.

Andrew Potter: Uuuuugh. That Tyrell Williams touchdown for San Diego is just completely unacceptable defense by the Jaguars. He should have been tackled by at least three different players, without even considering how he was open by 10 yards on a third-and-12 shallow cross in the first place.

Tom Gower: I'm not watching this game, but I thought this tweet encapsulated the situation quite nicely.

Yes, the Patriots have in fact only lost 32 regular season games since the start of the 2007 season.

Scott Kacsmar: I know the Chargers have gotten the better of this matchup in recent years, but disappointed that the Jaguars were not more competitive today. An offense missing two of its top wideouts and Danny Woodhead for most of the day had its way with the defense.

Indianapolis Colts 20 at Denver Broncos 34

Aaron Schatz: You think to yourself, "You know, this is two games of Trevor Siemian making some pretty reasonable throws, maybe he really is a starting-quality quarterback." Then you remember the Colts defense is bad and is missing something like five cornerbacks due to injury. So again, I don't know what to make of Siemian's performance.

Tom Gower: Broncos up 13-6 at the half. Lead in total yards 294-72. Colts had one big play to set up their first field goal and the second came off what would have been a pick-6 had Darius Butler's hamstring cooperated instead of taking him out for the game (designed screen, Siemian didn't see Butler coming). Broncos defense against Colts offense has mostly looked like you'd expect, especially with Donte Moncrief down after an early injury. Luck through 14 dropbacks had been pressured seven times and hit five. He was 12-of-13 for 40 yards.

I don't know how the Colts can play effective defense with their secondary. Antonio Cromartie also left the game with an injury, I believe, and starting safety Clayton Geathers did as well.

And C.J. Anderson, who had Denver's touchdown, is good. I still like watching him play.

Aaron Schatz: Andrew Luck is currently 7-of-20. His best play was a 20-yard scramble to convert third-and-20 when the Broncos left the field wide open for miles in front of him. He's under constant pressure and his throws are missing guys. I know what I said before the season about probabilities and the low odds the Denver defense would be as good as it was last year. DVOA certainly didn't think the Broncos were at that level in Week 1 against Carolina, but they sure as hell are at that level today. We'll have to see if they can keep that up for 16 games, after the injuries inevitably come.

Meanwhile. I don't want to blame the Indianapolis front office for the cascade of injuries at cornerback, but that's just one problem with this team. It's a bit embarrassing how they just can't put a consistent winning ball club around this quarterback. The whole defense is just so mediocre, the offensive line still isn't good, and the running back is definitely in the wind-down phase of his (possibly Hall of Fame-level) career.

Rob Weintraub: Ho-hum, just another fourth-quarter touchdown for the Denver defense...

Scott Kacsmar: I mean, eventually Denver won't make every fourth-quarter stop with a crazy turnover, right?

Aaron Schatz: Andrew Luck just has no protection. None. Denver teeing off on him on the last couple Indy drives was just brutal. And honestly, when he is upright enough to actually throw the ball instead of taking a sack, he doesn't look as good as he did two years ago. I'm not trying to jump to conclusions about this after one game against Denver, but we also know Luck last year had declining numbers even when healthy. I was talking to a Pats reporter watching the second half of this game and he actually brought up Jim Plunkett as a possible historical comp, because Plunkett got so fried by the bad teams New England put around him that his career fell apart until he finally put it back together with the Raiders. Please, please, please let that not happen to Andrew Luck.

Atlanta Falcons 35 at Oakland Raiders 28

Aaron Schatz: David Carr having a dink-and-dunk special for Oakland so far today, was 19-of-23 for only 135 yards before he just hit a 34-yard touchdown to Clive Walford.

Bryan Knowles: To bring back something we talked about in Matt Ryan has had time for most of the day, and they have been going no-huddle and just kept the Raiders backpedalling for most of the day. Stout redzone defense, including an interception, has bailed them out so far, but the Raiders have to figure out what's ailing them defensively, and fast.

Rob Weintraub: Raiders could have had another red zone stop, but Matt Ryan's pass that was deflected high in the air was pulled in by Justin Hardy for the fortunate touchdown.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7 at Arizona Cardinals 40

Bryan Knowles: No one has commented on this one, so I'll throw one in -- losing to the Patriots on a last-second field goal didn't mean the Cardinals were bad, and beating a questionable Falcons team didn't mean the Buccaneers were great. The Cardinals have jumped out to a 33-7 lead, and look like the Super Bowl contenders many people thought they could be. Jameis Winston has thrown three interceptions and lost a fumble as things have just gone wrong for them in every aspect of the game. Losing Doug Martin early hurt, but they have just been out-classed today.

Green Bay Packers 14 at Minnesota Vikings 17

Tom Gower: 30 minutes of play at US Bank Stadium. Vikings lead 10-7. Packers officially, have, what, 62 yards of offense after the completion to Randall Cobb that ran out the clock on the second quarter? That neglects the big defensive pass interference that set up the touchdown, but it still indicates a Green Bay offense that's fundamentally struggling yet again. No run game, and little inside structure. I miss 2014's offense, or at least its effectiveness. The offense, I think 2015 revealed, was so much about Jordy Nelson's ability to win all over the field and the use of Cobb to succeed in defined roles around that. And when that isn't working, Rodgers just starts improvising and trying stuff, which works sometimes because he's Aaron Rodgers but is not exactly the way you want to run a railroad. I thought they'd be able to pick on Trae Waynes, who Tennessee had success against last week. They have been looking his way at times, but Terence Newman's gotten his looks as well (including the long DPI and end zone penalty), and I just don't know.

For Minnesota, Adrian Peterson just doesn't hit it up into the line. He dances, and when he doesn't go boom at all he looks completely ineffective. And I know from years of watching Chris Johnson squander yards the same way he's not flattering the offensive line. Though to be fair the Vikings actually have the pass protection people think the Colts do. There's a reason things work better when they go shotgun three-step drop and spread the field. I'm admittedly a complete Sam Bradford honk, and he has put some passes into tight windows and the right place at times tonight, including on the touchdown.

Rob Weintraub: The first touchdown in Minnesota's new stadium is from Rodgers to Nelson. Also the first touchdown in the state since beloved hometown boy Prince Rogers Nelson passed away.

Aaron Schatz: Watching Sam Bradford outplay Aaron Rodgers is a bit unexpected. It's hard to argue that Bradford's getting more help than Rodgers -- Stefon Diggs has been awesome, but they aren't getting much from the other receivers and there's no running game. Do we start to get worried about the Green Bay offense? I definitely agreed with a lot of what Cian said in his Film Room column a couple months ago, but they've got Jordy Nelson back now and the offense is still having real issues. We know Rodgers can launch it downfield like a howitzer, do they just have nobody who can run those routes with Jeff Janis out?

(As soon as I write this, Rodgers goes way downfield and Davante Adams draws a DPI, which I guess sort of answers my question.)

I also want to point out again that Stefon Diggs was one of Playmaker Score's big sleepers for the 2015 draft.

Playmaker Score seems to work pretty well. When you see DeVante Parker struggling to make the catches he should be making given his skill set, and you read stories about how Kevin White is struggling in Chicago because he can't run a whole route tree, I think we see how Playmaker Score does a good job of identifying receivers who may have excellent physical characteristics but just aren't coming out of college with the technique needed to be a starting NFL wide receiver. Being a star receiver in the NFL is about more than just dominant athletic talent. And of course the best example of this in recent years, one of Playmaker's accurate negative predictions, is a player who is also in this game and has undeniable athletic talent but just can't play wide receiver: Cordarrelle Patterson.

Vince Verhei: The original version of Playmaker saw bad things for Patterson, and for Tavon Austin.

Andrew Potter: Trae Waynes may have just out-Marcus-Petersed Marcus Peters with that potentially game-sealing interception.

Tom Gower: I loved the way the Vikings ended the game after the interception, throwing the pass for Diggs on third down rather than settling for another ineffective run that had very little chance at converting, and then being smart enough to run a play on fourth down to kill the final three seconds.

Rivers McCown: How many more snaps can the Packers waste on Davante Adams?


141 comments, Last at 23 Sep 2016, 10:18am

#1 by PatsFan // Sep 19, 2016 - 10:32am

Re: NE backup to the backup to the backup.

I think they're gonna roll the dice and not sign anyone. With a short week there will be no time for anyone to learn anything. So they'll have no chance anyways if Brissette gets injured (not that they have much chance with him).

If he's injured I think they just put Edelman or Derby back there to take the snap and hand off every down.

Or maybe BB has some emergency ancient single-wing-or-older-all-non-QB offense he'll dust off :).

Finally, depending on what the actual damage is to Garopollo (i.e. if it's "only" pain and won't meaningfully get damaged more) they might just shoot him up to the gills and put him out there to take snaps for handoffs if Brissette goes down.

Points: 0

#3 by Bright Blue Shorts // Sep 19, 2016 - 10:57am

What you suggest would never surprise me under BB.

Someone like Edelman probably actually knows the playbook quite well, just not experienced it from the QB end of things. Certainly no reason he couldn't produce a Tebow-esque 8 pass attempts type performance.

Points: 0

#5 by RickD // Sep 19, 2016 - 10:59am

Unless Jimmy G is healthy enough to play, they'll bring somebody in.

Though I have to admit, the possibility of being left with a QB who hasn't taken any practice snaps has me thinking about the forfeit rule. I'd honestly rather see the Pats forfeit a game than put Edelman in as the full-time QB. As he said, "There's a reason I'm a wide receiver."

Points: 0

#8 by Anon Ymous // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:04am

As PF said, you could never get a backup up to speed by Thursday so the value provided is minimal. The only way NE uses a roster spot on a QB is if Jimmy's prognosis looks nearly certain about missing multiple weeks. If that is the case, then the backup could use the next few days getting ready for Buffalo.

Points: 0

#18 by RickD // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:23am

They could bring in a guy who knows the system, like Matt Flynn or Ryan Lindley. Obv. there's no way to teach a new guy the system in 2-3 days. Brissett himself still doesn't know very much of it, and he hasn't had any game reps with the starters.

After seeing some discussion of this issue, I'm leaning more to the "don't bother to bring anybody new in". Another issue is that they would have to create a roster opening for a new player. And they might not want to do that - not for just one game. Though they're going to have to lose a couple players in two weeks when Brady and Ninkovich return. *shrug*

Apparently with Jimmy's injury, the biggest issue is pain management. I'm going to guess that he'd be able to serve at least as the backup for the Bills game. So that would mean bringing in somebody just for Thursday. So maybe they won't?

I'll say again that I don't want to see Edelman at QB. I don't want to see his value as a WR lost when he gets sacked by JJ Watt and company.

Points: 0

#42 by Anon Ymous // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:19pm

"Though they're going to have to lose a couple players in two weeks when Brady and Ninkovich return. *shrug*"

This is the only factor that I think gives legitimate weight to the idea of bringing in a backup QB. The roster is eventually going to be built around three QBs, so whatever the plan was for then, you might as well put it into action now.

Points: 0

#83 by AndyE // Sep 19, 2016 - 2:11pm

I suspect the plan was "expect to lose someone to IR in Weeks 1-4." BB is heartless, but I don't expect him to go kneecap a player this week.

I think.

Points: 0

#90 by Anon Ymous // Sep 19, 2016 - 2:33pm

No doubt, but it's likely some thought was put into who might be gone if that doesn't happen. Presuming Gronk is close to returning, I suspect Derby or Harbor are likely candidates.

Points: 0

#29 by MJK // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:53am

The other problem with having Edelman play QB is that, if he does, the Pats lose their best WR, since he can't throw the ball to himself (at least, that's not the plan).

So not only are you asking Edelman to play an unfamiliar position for which he's not best suited, but you're also asking him to do it with a depleted receiving corps.

Points: 0

#86 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Sep 19, 2016 - 2:18pm

I think in the chance that Brisset goes down, AJ Derby is the quarterback, for exactly the reason you cite - pulling Edelman off of WR is a big problem, especially if you're playing an emergency quarterback. Even if you're going to run almost every play, you still need some decent WRs to pull the safeties back a bit.

Moving Derby doesn't cause any other problems, he's been with the team for a year+ and he's another college QB.

Points: 0

#99 by Raiderjoe // Sep 19, 2016 - 3:17pm

no faith in Houston tecans. eveyttime I see them paly vs Pates, not even a game. it is like cat playing with mouse it found in bushes. "lemme bite your tail and toss you aroudbn a few times. Had enough? No. oaky, now I will bit e your belly. You like that?" next thing you know mouse is laying dead on ground just outside door and cat wants to come abck inside. it is
like texnas vbs pates. turn game on, blink and it is 10-0. next thing you know, final score is 41-17. no contest.

Points: 0

#134 by SFC B // Sep 20, 2016 - 1:23pm

I want to argue against this, how this year will be different, but I can't. It's so accurate it's scary.

Points: 0

#11 by deus01 // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:12am

He's going to put in call to Peyton.

Points: 0

#16 by Not Jimmy // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:19am

Peyton would be hysterical. Can you imagine the jersey sales?
I wonder if Matthew Slater would give up his number for a game or two...

- Anything is possible when you have no idea what you are talking about.

Points: 0

#21 by RickD // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:26am

I've toyed with the idea of Bledsoe making a return. He's only 44 and might be willing to do a favor for the Pats.

But probably not.

Bringing in Peyton would make too many heads explode, mine included.

Points: 0

#72 by Bright Blue Shorts // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:48pm

OMG Bledsoe is only 44? Feels like he's been out of the league for years.

Must admit I thought Doug Flutie might get a phone call. He looked in great shape playing softball with his brothers on A Football Life a couple of years back. But he must be about 54 now.

Fortunately Tebow has been signed by some minor baseball team or something.

I read the other day that Jamarcus Russell sent letters to all 32 teams back in April saying he'd still like to play. But I don't think he'll be getting a call.

Jeff George is also probably up for it. And neither will he get a call.

Points: 0

#23 by Pottsville Mar… // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:35am

I don't agree that they have "no chance" if Brissett gets injured. Let's say the game goes similar to yesterday's game - Brissett gets injured near halftime, with the Patriots up by a couple scores. In that case, it could be incredibly valuable to have a veteran like Matt Flynn who is experienced enough to (1) take half a game's worth of snaps without fumbling, (2) identify when the defense has an obvious blitz coming, and (3) throw the basic route tree passes that every team has in its playbook. I'd imagine that having a Flynn around would add a lot more to the Patriots' win expectancy than a backup linebacker or whomever they'd have to cut to bring him in. No, the Patriots' offense wouldn't be good with their emergency backup, but it would almost certainly be more competent than having Edelman take half a game's worth of snaps.

Points: 0

#2 by johonny // Sep 19, 2016 - 10:57am

Mia/NE I miss the steady quiet confidence that Joe Philbin brought to losing. If the new coaching staff in Miami wanted to warm fans up to them they might try game planning or something as their team doesn't seem to play until the 3rd quarter. Hard to comment further as the Patriots were reduce to a college level offense all second half which Miami has used for the past 20 years or so (It doesn't work well). AFC east watch 1. Pat look to be heading to a first round play off bye even if they "slip" to a 2-2 start without a QB. 2. Jets look good enough to play for the playoffs the rest of the season. 3. I believe only 12% of 0-2 teams make the play offs. There's 20 years of history that says the Bills won't be one of those teams. 4. Miami won't either. Next up is Mia VS. Cleveland which pits two of the worst front offices in sports in a game someone will win, but won't matter at all as the loser will blow their higher draft selection anyways. It should be a horrible game.

Points: 0

#35 by James-London // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:05pm

That first half was as bad a 30 minutes of football as I've seen in 15yrs, and I watched Cam Cameron and the Wannstache run teams.
The offense was better in the second half, but how much of that was 'garbage time' production I've no idea. The optimist in me saw the Miami O continue to play well once the game was close; the pessimist can't scrub the 1st half clean.

As for the D, woeful. If the line doesn't get there, me, Aaron and Raiderjoe could be effective at WR against that back 7

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

Points: 0

#60 by johonny // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:08pm

It takes about 3 years for corner backs to jell in the NFL. My huge worry is Miami once again cleans house at CB and watches their young CBs play in pro-bowls for other teams like the last time they went young. That said there's making mistakes and appearing totally clueless. If they didn't look horrible all preseason too then I might have a small amount of optimism they'll get coached up to the new scheme. At this point they can only play better as there is no worse pass coverage than Miami offers at the moment, but can they play at an NFL level? If they can't beat Cleveland at home with possibly their 3rd string QB, then Joe Philbin might as well return.

Points: 0

#62 by James-London // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:12pm

Youth & inexperience is fine and Vance Joseph comes from Cincy, where he (they) have been training good DBs for a while, so there's hope long-term for the younger players. Like you, I have minimal confidence in the organisation so that hope is tempered somewhat (Hi Mr Tannenbaum...)

What's Byron Maxwell's excuse?

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

Points: 0

#4 by Hurt Bones // Sep 19, 2016 - 10:58am

…the dream of 0-16 stays alive.
Doesn't have to be the Browns, but 2016 has to be the year a 2[nd team goes]0[-]16.

Points: 0

#7 by andrew // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:00am

While obviously I am pleased with what Bradford did last night, worried this might be similar to the Herschel Walker trade. Consider:

- vikings believed they were superbowl contenders who needed 1 piece
- paid steep price for that 1 piece (albeit nowhere near as high)
- lead team to impressive home win over packers in debut
- many wrote pieces critical of trade then changed to overwhelming praise after 1 game (I remember Zimmerman writing about this, how entire issue of SI was changed).

and after there of course it was all downhill with Walker until the winter olympics (where he also went downhill). Pretty sure Bradford isn't going to any olympics.

anyway, I know, not really trying to establish any parallels other than "its just one game". If he separates his shoulder next week, every criticism of the trade will be perfectly valid.

Points: 0

#15 by Will Allen // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:19am

Upon looking at what Shaun Hill has left in in his arm, I don't think the criticism of the trade is valid at all. He can't throw outside the hashmarks anymore, or go downfield, really, which is why he did nothing past the Titan's 40 last week. Unless they were going to try to win games 12-10, with Walsh hitting 3 fifty yarders a week, they had to make the trade. I still think people don't appreciate that the Vikings coaches and management thought it was likely that Hill wouldn't even beat out Taylor Heinecke in training camp.

Points: 0

#26 by Pottsville Mar… // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:40am

I think the Bradford trade was made with an eye toward the fact that, actuarially, Peterson likely only has a season or two of productivity left (if that). This might be the last hurrah for the current run-based iteration of the Vikings' offense, so it makes sense to gamble in order to maximize it.

Points: 0

#33 by MilkmanDanimal // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:02pm

I would say a combination of this and Bridgewater's injury being serious enough the Vikings seriously doubt his availability for the start of next season. None of which matters because the Vikings line is bad enough Bradford's going to get snapped in two at some point.

Points: 0

#40 by Will Allen // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:15pm

I swear, Fusco's on a mission to obtain Pro Bowl votes for every defensive tackle he "blocks" this year. We are in Charlie Freakin' Johnson territory. I can envision Rick Spielman, waving a contract, at the doorway to 51 year old Randall McDaniel's 2nd grade classroom by November.

Points: 0

#43 by andrew // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:21pm

well, next 3 defensive lines he faces are Panthers, Giants Texans.

Somehow running Peterson at a 1.9 yard clip doesn't seem such a bad option (if he is able to return).

Points: 0

#47 by Will Allen // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:32pm

Last night's win was huge, beyond the divisional rival aspect, because winning in Charlotte next Sunday is just going to be a gigantic challenge, absent the defense just playing out of it's mind. They way they are blocking, I can't see the offense scoring more than 10 points, and they can't count on the defense scoring a bunch of points. Frankly, if they are 3-2, and most importantly, relatively healthy, after they play the Texans, heading into their bye week, they will have had good first 5 weeks. 4-1, and good health? They will be way, way, ahead of schedule.

Points: 0

#41 by jmaron // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:17pm

just to recall - for a 28yr old RB the Vikings gave up 3 1st rounders, 3 2nd rounders, a 3 and 6 plus 5 players for Walker and 2 3's and 5 and 10th rounder. The 5 players included a starting CB (Holt - started 3 more years in Dallas and two more players Dallas turned into 5th and 6th round picks.

Hard to compare that to a 1st and 2nd,3rd or 4th conditional for a starting QB.

Points: 0

#9 by bravehoptoad // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:08am

I feel like San Francisco might have actually been in that game if it weren't for one player: Kelvin Benjamin. The guy was making catch after catch against perfect coverage. He's an infuriating guy to route against.

Also, Blaine Gabbert isn't a bad guy to have as your backup, but he's terrible for a starter. He can run, and he can throw a good pass when he has a clean pocket and lots of time to stare down one receiver, but otherwise his accuracy is bad, his decision-making bad, and his pocket awareness not so good. I'm ready for him to go back on the bench.

Points: 0

#125 by zenbitz // Sep 19, 2016 - 10:43pm

concur. Niners have the backup QB market cornered... just waiting for Belichick to call... waaaating for a call.... aaaany day now.

Points: 0

#10 by Will Allen // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:10am

Bradford is going to get hurt if Fusco and Kalil, in particular, keep blocking in the manner they showed last night. Not surprisingly, once Bradford threw it downfield successfully a few times in the 1st half, Peterson had some room to run. and then he got hurt. Since Diggs is the first wideout they have had in years who has the skills, route running and catching, to just flat out beat corners and safeties consistently, and Bradford has the throwing talent to put the ball where it needs to be, they may as well become more like a standard NFL passing oriented offense. That is, until Bradford gets hurt, and then I have no idea what they will do. Collinsworth was spewing the tired nonsense again last night that the Vikings o-line is considerably better at run blocking than pass blocking. Fusco can't block anything, and Kalil is just very, very, sporadic. When two of your five can't be counted on with any confidence, you're just a poor unit, run or pass. They are better than last year, but that's a really, really, low bar to clear.

What the Vikings need from here on out is extremely good injury luck on defense. If Rhodes can get back on the field, then Waynes can be used more productively. It isn't as if Waynes is physically outmatched, he just needs to play with greater discipline, and he does continue to make strides. He needs to do so while playing a secondary role to Rhodes. Mackenzie Alexander, I think, is also going to be a real contributor by season's end. If they can also have good injury luck among the d-linemen and linebackers from here on out, the defense can carry this team.

The Packers need Shields back more than the Vikings need Rhodes, I think. I hate to see concussions end a career, and I fear thqat Shields may be on the precipice.

Points: 0

#44 by jmaron // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:21pm

In fairness to Kalil he was apparently injured - he was decent last week and given the list of DEs he faced last year - he was not that bad in 2015.

Fusco on the other hand was horrendous last year and looks to have taken another step back despite the move back to RG. I think his days might be numbered as a starter.

I hope this isn't the end for Peterson - there seems to be some more positive news than what it looked like last night. I'm not as convinced as you that he makes a big difference, but I would hate to see him finish as a Viking leaving the field injured.

Points: 0

#54 by Will Allen // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:45pm

Well, they haven't blocked enough yet, and the boxes have been too stacked with defenders, for me to tell how much Peterson has declined, so I'm not saying at this point that he still is a big difference maker. I did think it was interesting that after Bradford connected downfield a couple times, Peterson had some room, just before he got hurt. It would have been nice to see him play the rest of the game, to see if a template for the Vikings offense was being made: they start the game pass heavy to get the lead, and then, once the defenders are focusing on Bradford,Diggs and Co., then they start getting run heavy, against 7 men in the box.

Yeah, Kalil isn't even close to Fusco's Pasture of Despair, but his cap number does stick in my craw. It only takes one terrible o-lineman, to set off a really bad chain of events. They got to get this handled, or Bradford won't make it to the bye week.

Points: 0

#53 by andrew // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:44pm

I'm really missing Loadholt about now, he was more or less average but that would be a huge step up. You'd think they could find a way to use Berger (who is probably their best lineman left) kept Sullivan.

Of last year's starters, TJ Clemmons is Kalil's backup and apparently not good enough to replace Kalil, and Mike Harris has some kind of non-football related illness (no info on it beyond that) and can't return until medically cleared to return.

Could have really used Beavers, but he didn't make the team, which probably says a lot if he couldn't crack this squad.

Points: 0

#56 by Will Allen // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:52pm

If Harris was playing at last year's level, and Fusco was off the field, they'd be much better. Not having a guy 3 months removed form being a 4th round pick (Clemmons) starting at right tackle is an improvement over last year, and I think having a competent guard next to Kalil really will help Kalil, so things are better than last year, but still pretty bad.

Points: 0

#120 by t.d. // Sep 19, 2016 - 7:41pm

I think, barring more injury, this Vikings team is the obvious favorite in the North, and, if he doesn't get hurt, Bradford is very well situated to make himself a lot of money. Turner is evidently the first competent coordinator he's played for, and the coaching gap between the Vikes and the Pack seemed pretty significant. They're obviously going to emphasize speeding up his release, (not sure how coachable that is) but the guy I saw last night absolutely can start on a contender

Points: 0

#12 by jtr // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:14am

The Steelers fan next to me at the bar kept saying over and over again that the Browns were going to figure out a way to screw up their big lead. They never fail to deliver.

Points: 0

#112 by dbostedo // Sep 19, 2016 - 5:17pm

As a Steelers fan, it's gotten bad enough that I was rooting for the Browns over the Ravens too... but without very much hope.

Points: 0

#126 by OldFox // Sep 19, 2016 - 10:56pm

Well, we all know that the Browns' new front office punted the 2016 season back in the spring. They're not even trying to win, they're just amassing draft choices, then throwing a bunch of kids onto the field and trying to sort them out, maybe find two or three who can actually play in the NFL (unlike the last 6-7 guys the previous regimes drafted in Round 1). The Browns would love to get the #1 pick this year, and probably will. As for going 0-16, they've got a legitimate shot at it.

The big question about this tanking strategy, of course, is whether the front office will be around long enough to see it through. Jimmy Haslam fires every coach, executive and ballboy every 1-2 years, so I can't see him sticking with the new guys in the front office after they go 0-16 or 1-15. He's never shown an ounce of patience. Chances are that the new guys in the Browns' front office are collecting all these draft picks for someone else to use. Like Peyton Manning, maybe?

Points: 0

#131 by jtr // Sep 20, 2016 - 7:53am

>Chances are that the new guys in the Browns' front office are collecting all these draft picks for someone else to use.

Nope, that would have a chance of actually creating a successful team. The true Browns Cycle of Failure is that this front office will get fired RIGHT AFTER they use up all of these draft picks, then the new regime will come in and throw away all of those players because they aren't Our Guys. Then the new regime will get canned right as they start to find some traction in building a team to their philosophy and the whole thing starts all over again.

Points: 0

#136 by OldFox // Sep 20, 2016 - 5:17pm

Agreed, that would fit the pattern.

Has there ever been a pro sports franchise that was as poorly run as the Browns of the past 5-10 years? Maybe the L.A. Clippers back in the 1990s? Really, after a while you begin to wonder if this organization has even been trying to succeed, or whether they're just engaged in some sort of elaborate practical joke.

I guess we're supposed to hope that the new front office is better than the last one, and the one before that, and the one before that, and the one before that ...

To borrow an old line from the TANK MCNAMARA comic strip, it might be time to convene a panel of management experts, physicians and religious leaders to determine whether this franchise can be declared legally dead.

Points: 0

#140 by Thomas_beardown // Sep 23, 2016 - 9:23am

The Millen Lions and the latter days of the Al Davis Raiders come to mind. The Browns problems extending to so many GMs and coaches is impressive though.

Points: 0

#13 by coltrane23 // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:15am

I didn't get to see any of the preseason, so I don't know if Germain Ifedi can play or not. To my eyes though, getting J'marcus Webb out of the starting lineup should help immensely with the Seahawks' running game. He was up against Aaron Donald, which is a tough match-up for anyone, but he got blown up pretty consistently and made everyone around him look worse as a result.

Britt at C and Gilliam at RT both looked functional to me for most of the game, so fixing the gap between them could pay big dividends and give them 3/5 of a line to run behind.

Points: 0

#14 by MilkmanDanimal // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:17am

I expected Arizona to kick Tampa's butt yesterday, but, well, I thought the Bucs actually played OK for a 40-7 loss. And, yes, that's a pretty extreme qualification, but I kept watching that game and thinking if the Bucs stopped making mistakes and having things bounce the wrong way, they'd still have lost, but they'd have lost with vague dignity, at least.

Winston had five turnovers.
- INT #1--Winston throws a deep ball to Evans, who's single covered by Peterson. Evans doesn't adjust to the ball, Peterson picks it off. Decent throw, one-on-one coverage of your best guy vs. their best guy, it's effectively a punt. Is it bad? Sure, but that's the kind of throw QBs are going to make, and Evans really just didn't go for it enough (in this case; Evans had a pretty darn good game).
- INT #2--this pass sucked. There is no justification for throwing this ball. THIS WAS A BAD THROW DON'T DO IT AGAIN.
- Fumble--Some kind of messed-up play design where people had a different idea of what the call was. Charles Sims ran into Winston's hand and knocked the ball out. Was a silly, silly turnover.
- INT #3--Oh, look, another silly, silly turnover. Screen left to Sims; defensive lineman tips the ball into the air, Sims adjusts, the ball bounces off his face mask, and, on that second bounce, right into the DB's hands, and it's a pick-six. Very much a "weird crap happens" moment.
- INT #4--Hail Mary pick at the end of the game.

Which leads to a question; when your team is down 40-7 and there is a minute left, why are you leaving your starters and particularly the future of your franchise in there to get teed off on? Winston got knocked down pretty hard multiple times in the fourth quarter when the game was clearly over. Why was he still playing?

There was a stat at the end of the game that Lavonte David had zero tackles. The guy's a tackle machine; I don't know what the heck happened there. Chris Conte yet again proved he's an OK backup safety and should never start, as he forgot to cover a guy on a fly route, Gerald McCoy got his "I get one encroachment penalty every game" moment on a 3rd and 2 inside the 5, and there were just loads of silly little moments.

Points: 0

#22 by Jonrd // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:29am

I'm glad you said this, because I felt the same about the game. In fact, I'll take it a step further and say that VJax probably could've done a little better on INT #2. I agree that it was a bad pass, but there was no adjustment at all from Jackson.

On the other hand, the lack of a pass rush was concerning. Palmer had all day to throw and that makes it easy to expose the questionable secondary. While Verner played pretty well, I have not been impressed with Grimes. Hargreaves is talented, but very much a rookie.

Overall, they were certainly outclassed by a better team, but it felt more like a 24-7 game than a 40-7 game. It doesn't change my thoughts about them - they'll win between 6-9 games and be a little more experienced for next year.

Points: 0

#30 by MilkmanDanimal // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:54am

I think INT #2 was bad enough there wasn't much VJax could have done outside of clubbing defenders in the head with a board at the snap, and even then the ball wouldn't have been near enough to him to make a play. That was a terrible throw, but I think it was really the only truly terrible throw of the day.

And yes, the pass rush was a problem, but I don't think that's much of a shock. Ayers has one solid season total, and Noah Spence is still very raw. Spence hopefully starts doing stuff as the season goes on.

So glad the team drafted a kicker instead of any safety. Any safety. At all.

Points: 0

#122 by Jonrd // Sep 19, 2016 - 10:05pm

Yep, right or wrong, Darian Thompson was my guy. If he works out, then all my Giants fan friends will love it and I'll be extra bitter... Curse of being in New Jersey.

Part of my problem is that I had a little more faith in the pass rush than most. Ayers had one solid season sack-wise, but he's always been able to provide a little more pressure than he's given credit for. Plus I thought McDonald being back would take a little pressure of McCoy. But then my biggest mistake was thinking that Gholston was on the cusp. I really thought he would put it all together this year and be a great run defender and solid enough pass rusher, but I haven't seen any pass rush from him at all. Couple that with the extra Kwon-Lavonte blitzes and I was excited about surprising a lot of teams. Still possible, I suppose. It is only Week 2.

And at least this year when they got blown out, it was against the Cards and not a future 2-14 team. Silver lining?

Points: 0

#123 by panthersnbraves // Sep 19, 2016 - 10:26pm

I wanted to know why the 49'ers were still running plays down 19 with a minute left to go. If you want to get your back-ups some reps, fine, but that is just going to get someone hurt...

Points: 0

#17 by DEW // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:19am

I have to admit, I was very impressed by the MIN clock management at the end of the game. Giving Aaron Rodgers 1:30, even with no time outs, to get only a field goal just isn't a smart decision. Running an actual play designed to genuinely try and get the first down, instead of handing off and praying the entire GB defense suddenly falls over with spontaneous heart attacks, was easily the right call. I mean, if it succeeds, you win the game; if it fails, Rodgers gets the same chance he had before only with a time-out. Also a smart play to actually run time off the clock on that final play; we all saw the GB-Detroit games last year.

When you add this to Del Rio, of all people, playing for the win instead of the tie for Oakland last week, is it too much to hope that just maybe that coaches have realized that having a chance to win the game on one play at a risk of the other team having only a slightly improved shot if it fails is a good decision?

(Of course, Kubiak kept slamming Anderson headfirst into a brick wall on every third-and-short despite Indy's defense basically only being able to stop that play, so we're not quite there yet...)

Points: 0

#76 by Nevic // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:51pm

I was wondering the same this, especially after seeing the Jags in week 1 go for so many 4th downs. Even conservative Mike McCarthy has already gone for 4th and short twice this season in FG range (got a TD in Jax, missed by inches again MN - a crucial miss given the final score). Even though GB didn't make it, I like the call to go for it rather than kick.

Points: 0

#19 by Ben // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:25am

Andrew Luck had a bad game yesterday, but you just have to go back to last week to see how well he is capable of playing still. If he is given decent protection, he is still a top tier QB, in my opinion. As poorly as the Colts' O-Line played yesterday, it's still a step-up from last years line. The interior of the line is at least adequate, which has never been the case since Luck has been in Indy. Unfortunately, both tackles have taken a step back this year (well, Castonzo played poorly last year, and that's continuing). Denver is not the team you want to play with poor tackles.

As for Siemian, Aaron is right on point. The Colts' defense is going to have virtually no pass-rush all season. Combine that with having only one CB and one Safety available that were actually on the team during training camp, and any NFL level QB should be able to look good.

Points: 0

#64 by theslothook // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:16pm

See, I don't think Luck had a bad game. Context plays into this. Yes the Talib interception was bad - But this defense at home has made a lot of qbs look really terrible. It held Brady in check. It crushed Cam twice and had Aaron Rodgers have the worst game of his career.

Right now, Den has talent in both the pass rush and the secondary. You pair that combo and its an ugly setup for anyone. Injuries might take some bite out of it eventually, but as of right now - its very very hard to beat them.

Frankly - you can make plays against them, but its requires you to win an awful lot of individual matchups. And if one of them goes wrong, it can lead to some very backbreaking plays. Just ask Cam. Two strip sacks ended up killing the panthers for good.

Points: 0

#98 by Grendel13G // Sep 19, 2016 - 3:15pm

There are some games when a QB ends up with bad stats against a very good defense, but actually played very well given the context. Luck did not have one of those games.

Luck didn't look awful, but he didn't look very good, either. He sailed a ton of throws and rarely made one of those "wow" plays that top QBs hit against even very good defenses a few times a game (paging Philip Rivers...). A far cry from his play a few years ago, and a far cry form his superb game against the Broncos last year (which seemed to be an outlier in an otherwise difficult year, anyway).

I haven't watched enough of Luck to say whether this is indicative of a longer-term trend, but he certainly didn't look like a top 5 QB, or even a top 10 QB, yesterday.

Points: 0

#111 by theslothook // Sep 19, 2016 - 5:09pm

Idk. Maybe im giving too much of a pass, but ive seen this D make a lot of really great players look awful.

Points: 0

#66 by TecmoBoso // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:27pm

I am starting to struggle with Luck to the point where I am starting to wonder if Luck is very good but with a horrible supporting cast, or if Luck is "just" above average? Are we talking a top 5 QB that has limited talent around him or are we talking more like top 10-12 QB? This might sound harsh, but he's 'only' had one great year; I realize he was banged up last year and we're two games into this season, but maybe we got ahead of ourselves after 2014?

Points: 0

#70 by theslothook // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:31pm

The entire offense is built on Luck dropping back and running the executed plays that are called. I'm not convinced the personnel fits a short passing attack anyways, so its not like they can pivot and go full patriots on offense.

Nate Dunlevy said it best. The team to succeed needs him to be Manning. Think about what that means. He needs to run a pass oriented offense that hides his defense while converting third downs and red zone opportunities without taking sacks or turning the ball over too much. Hmm...just how reasonable is this to expect from someone?

Points: 0

#77 by Will Allen // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:56pm

They aren't just asking him to be Peyton Manning, they are asking him to be Peyton Manning circa 2010, doing all those things behind a terrible offensive line. It's ridiculous, and why I was disappointed that Luck decided to tie himself to that management for several more years.

Points: 0

#114 by Mike B. In Va // Sep 19, 2016 - 5:42pm

Yeah, I have to admit, I was surprised he did that. He could have been in for a huge payday from a team with talent other than the QB - like, say, Denver? ;)

Points: 0

#20 by jtr // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:25am

DeAngelo Williams has just been unreal as a 33 year old back. He certainly deserves better than Todd Haley's traditional exactly-one-carry-for-the-backup treatment once Bell comes back. I would love to see Pittsburgh run some offensive sets with both tailbacks. Bell and Williams are so versatile that the two of them plus a tight end (or two) could line up in anything from a power run formation to empty backfield shotgun. Those kinds of flexible personnel groups are nightmares for defensive coordinators to match up against.

Points: 0

#25 by Pottsville Mar… // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:40am

I'm struggling to see the value of a second RB in the backfield if neither one is a good lead blocker. There might be an element of deception, but not one that's strong enough to overcome having a player who is neither a downfield receiving threat nor a blocker.

Points: 0

#27 by jtr // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:49am

I'm thinking the deception value could be useful. Out of a pistol or a formation with a wingback you can get the two backs moving in different directions and disguise which one is going to receive the ball. Plus they could add a real or fake end around (which they've been running pretty regularly in the Haley era) to really make it difficult for the defense to account for all of the potential ballhandlers.

Points: 0

#129 by Jerry // Sep 20, 2016 - 7:04am

I think the fact that the two-back T-formation has completely disappeared tells you that whatever deception value there might be with two capable ballcarriers is considered much less worthwhile than a specialized blocker.

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#38 by Rocco // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:11pm

It's a problem that goes back before Haley and likely relates to Tomlin- he tends to run his RB into the ground. I'm hoping this is the year he gives his backup a few more carries. I'm not sure there's any dropoff from Bell to Williams as a runner, and while Bell is better out of the backfield it's not like Williams is worthless.

Points: 0

#24 by Denverite // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:37am

Denver's defense is entirely dependent on Von Miller. When he's quiet, it's a great defense, the best in the league, one of the better ones this century. When he's "Von Miller," it's the greatest defense of all time, and second place isn't particularly close.

Points: 0

#49 by Denverite // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:34pm

The thing is, I'm not sure it is hyperbole. When Von Miller is doing Von Miller things, I'm not sure it's not the GOAT. It's like dropping peak LT onto the 2000 Ravens or 2002 Bucs. You start with a great defense, and then add an utterly disruptive force capable of singlehandedly taking over a game.

Points: 0

#61 by MilkmanDanimal // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:12pm

I can think of zero username-related reasons why some might think you have a vaguely slanted opinion towards the historical quality of the Broncos defense.

Points: 0

#73 by furikawari // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:48pm

Denverite is of the firm belief that the Marshall hit on Newton (jump-spear) was within the bounds of the NFL rulebook, so this lack of objectivity is in character.

Points: 0

#67 by bravehoptoad // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:27pm

In my humble experience, this kind of hyperbole happens more frequently in Denver than elsewhere. It's the most isolated big city in the country--800 miles of prairie and deserts and mountains and cows before you hit another decent-sized media market. The echo chamber there is the loudest I've ever heard.

Points: 0

#50 by RickD // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:39pm

There's good reason to doubt whether the Broncos' D is the best of the past five years, much less the "greatest defense of all time, and second place isn't particularly close."

We could pop in the video from Super Bowl 48 for starters.

Points: 0

#80 by BroncFan07 // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:58pm

Yep, that's a good example. They were terrible that day.

On an unrelated note, Von Miller, Derek Wolfe, Kevin Vickerson, Chris Harris, and Rahim Moore all missed the game.

Points: 0

#85 by deus01 // Sep 19, 2016 - 2:14pm

I thought the point was that the 2013 Seattle defense gives the 2015 Broncos a run for their money.

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#87 by theslothook // Sep 19, 2016 - 2:21pm

The funny thing was - the broncos could move the ball on Seattle - they just had drives get killed by lots of different issues. Drops, missed blocks, interceptions, batted passes; etc etc.

I think if that game is played in reasonable weather conditions - the broncos lose because they aren't the better team, but their offense does a more respectable job.

Points: 0

#105 by TimK // Sep 19, 2016 - 3:45pm

A number of big players missing with injuries that game (including Von Miller and Chris Harris). The secondary was fairly patchwork, and the number one pass rusher was missing, never a good combination, especially against a QB like Russell Wilson.

Broncos defence had been improving from a reasonably base for several years, and considering them on a short list for being an all-time defence seems fair enough (GOAT needs some more evidence, and I'm a Broncos fan, but continuing like this and it might not be ridiculous). A lot depends on how you are judging? Matching the sustained defensive prowess of the Ray Lewis Ravens will be hard for any team. Likewise the peak of the '85 Bears and a some other teams.

Points: 0

#28 by MJK // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:50am

So now Miami has caused a significant injury to the opposing starting QB two games in a row. And this after a week of Suh was jawing to the media about how they were going to knock Garappolo around and rattle him.

Yes, both injuries were accidents. But last week, Wilson was hurt when Suh accidentally stepped on his ankle...and how many times in his career has Suh "accidentally" stepped on/kicked and injured an opposing player when he was down? (Disclaimer, I didn't see the hit). Yesterday, the hit on Garappolo was borderline legal and it was bad luck that Garappolo landed on his arm/shoulder the way he did. But there are ways to tackle a scrambling QB that have less injury risk, and ways that have more, and Alonso's hit was definitely in the latter category.

I think I'm going to start filing Miami's defense in the "dirty" category.

Points: 0

#31 by James-London // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:00pm

If only Miami's D cared enough to play dirty...

More seriously, the Wilson injury was an accident, not withstanding Suh's history/reputation. Yesterday's hit was legal, even if the result was unfortunate.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

Points: 0

#71 by Hang50 // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:46pm

Didn't see yesterday's game, but Suh's contact with Wilson's ankle was due entirely to Wilson trying to pivot and change direction with Suh on his heel. Even watching the slo-mo replay, I didn't see any evidence that Suh was doing anything untoward.

Points: 0

#32 by deus01 // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:01pm

The hit on Garoppolo didn't look dirty and QBs take those kinds of hits all the time. He was just unlucky.

Suh is of course still a dirty player.

Points: 0

#34 by Will Allen // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:04pm

The only way that becomes a dirty hit is if the league outlaws qbs pump faking. As long as the qb is allowed to deceive a pass rusher with arm motion, the pass rusher has to be allowed to proceed full speed into the passer, assuming the ball is still in his hands, espeially if the qb is running outside of the pocket. Yes, after enough time has lapsed, then it can be demanded that the defender ease up. This wasn't even close to that. It was a clean hit.

Points: 0

#52 by RickD // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:43pm was in the grey area of "almost starting to be a late hit". But it wasn't a late hit.

Players take hits like that all the time, and I'm hard pressed to see how the game could ban them. Yes, Garoppolo had let the pass go a tick before the hit, but not a full step before the hit. And yes, Alonso put his weight on Garoppolo, but he didn't pile drive him. It was just unfortunate that the full weight was on the shoulder.

You see much worse than that every week, and a lot of it goes uncalled.

Now Darian Stewart targeting Andrew Luck's head while he was sliding? That was a dirty hit.

Points: 0

#78 by nat // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:56pm

The relevant passage in the rules is
(12.2.9) b. A rushing defender is prohibited from committing such intimidating and punishing acts as “stuffing” a passer into the ground or unnecessarily wrestling or driving him down after the passer has thrown the ball, even if the rusher makes his initial contact with the passer within the one-step limitation provided for in (a) above. When tackling a passer who is in a defenseless posture (e.g., during or just after throwing a pass), a defensive player must not unnecessarily or violently throw him down and land on top of him with all or most of the defender’s weight. Instead, the defensive player must strive to wrap up the passer with the defensive player’s arms and not land on the passer with all or most of his body weight.

So it was undoubtedly a late hit for the purposes of this part of the rule. The "one step" exemption covers normal hits, but not hits that drive the QB into the turf or put all or most of the defender's weight on him.

I agree that refs sometimes miss these or let them go. But these hits are exactly what this part of the rule is supposed to prevent.

Points: 0

#82 by Anon Ymous // Sep 19, 2016 - 2:04pm

I'm going to disagree. The whole article hinges on this opening statement:

"A rushing defender is prohibited from committing such intimidating and punishing acts as 'stuffing' a passer into the ground or unnecessarily wrestling or driving him down"

which quite clearly didn't happen.

The GIF above shows that it was the two players' prior motion that led to Alonso landing on Jimmy's shoulder, and not any kind of overly aggressive tackling.

Points: 0

#84 by Bright Blue Shorts // Sep 19, 2016 - 2:11pm

To me the rule seems to be a minefield.

I'm sure it makes sense in the context of what you used to see in the 80s. And the hit by Tony Siragusa on Rich Gannon in 2000 AFC Championship game was instrumental in this rule ...

In the Patriots-Dolphins game, I don't think the defender "violently threw Grop down". His momentum carried him forwards and Grop collapsed which meant that the defender landed on him.

But that said, according to the final line Alonso should have been trying not to land on Grop with all or most of his weight which he certainly seemed to do.

Points: 0

#115 by ClavisRa // Sep 19, 2016 - 6:28pm

That was no accident. Watch the tape, when he lands on Garoppolo, he does nothing to catch himself or brace his fall impact, but lands with arms loose as dead weight right on top of Garopollo. The only reason you would do this is to maximize your impact. No player would ever land this way if it was just them and the ground. It doesn't help you tackle. It has one purpose and one purpose alone, to cause maximum impact on the other player in order to harm them.

And it's very evident from the video, albeit subtle to the casual eye. But when you know what to look for, it's incredibly evident. Shameful.

Points: 0

#36 by Rocco // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:08pm

I was really hoping for some quality Rob Weintraub tears. I'm disappointed.

The Steelers secondary has been surprisingly competent so far. Last year they were a collection of cardboard cutouts and traffic cones even with a good pass rush. This year the pass rush hasn't been nearly as effective but guys aren't running free all the time. Replacing Antwon Blake with a flashing red stop light has worked.

Points: 0

#45 by Will Allen // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:21pm

I thought Dungy made an interesting comment last night, that this is the first year that Tomlin has the Steelers defense, back end especially, playing the style of defense he would prefer, and that it was especially well suited to match with the explosive nature of the Steelers offense. I don't watch the Steelers enough to have an opinion about that, but I thought it was something to pay attention to.

Points: 0

#55 by jtr // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:48pm

The Steelers defense is totally different schematically from last year. Last year, Butler was clearly still running LeBeau's schemes--lots and lots of five-man rushes. This year, it's been much more coverage focused. I wouldn't be surprised if they are leading the league in three-man rushes so far this season.

Points: 0

#92 by Tomlin_Is_Infallible // Sep 19, 2016 - 2:41pm

Well, look at the personnel.

The best rushers are:

Heyward, Tuitt, Shazier, and a situational Harrison.

Dupree- maybe, if he ever gets healthy and learns some technique.

The team is built to transition to a hybrid nickel/ 4 DL scheme

They don't have any great rush OLBs, and they don't have really any good cover DBs, it's amazing they are getting away with the bend don't break cover schemes so far. I credit it more to who they are playing. To be fair, losing Blake is addition by subtraction, but Sean "I can't make PeeWee level tackling fundamentals " Davis isn't looking like much of an addition as a nickel/dime Safety.
And he's Mike "DB" Tomlin's mancrush project. I think this team will REALLY REALLY REALLY regret reactionary picking Burns instead of Noah Spence in the draft this year. They could cobble together a pedestrian secondary via FA on the cheap that is every bit as good as what they waste draft picks on.

The standard is the standard!

Points: 0

#100 by jtr // Sep 19, 2016 - 3:21pm

It's an oddly built defense right now, with very strong units at ILB and DL but weak everywhere else. Tuitt and Heyward can push the pocket up the middle, but the rotation of Arthur Moats, Jarvis Jones, and 37-year-old James Harrison isn't going to get the job done around the edge. Shazier and Timmons might both be better edge rushers than any of that sorry crew, but they can't rush and cover at the same time.
As far as the secondary goes, it's WAY too early to be giving up on Burns and Davis. Burns has only played a handful of snaps at a position that usually takes two full seasons to develop. And Davis has been forced into the starting slot corner role right now even though he will probably ultimately settle into a spot at strong safety. Let the rookies play more than two games before you decide that they're disasters.

Points: 0

#101 by Tomlin_Is_Infallible // Sep 19, 2016 - 3:28pm

Davis scares the hell out of he @ SS because he can't do the one thing you should have learned from day 1 as a defender. Basic tackling. Then again, since in the Steeler scheme they actually play a lot of Enforcer FS and cover SS, maybe they'll be ok with him ball hawking?

I haven't given up on Burns at all, I just think Spence would have been a much better selection as he can contribute immediately as a rookie (6-8 sacks).

The standard is the standard!

Points: 0

#104 by jtr // Sep 19, 2016 - 3:42pm

Fair enough.
Besides the two rookies, Cockrell is in his third year and 2015 second-rounder Senquez Golson still hasn't played his first snap due to a couple of injuries. They've invested a lot in young defensive backs, so I'm cautiously optimistic that by this time next year we won't be looking at the secondary as such a glaring weakness.

Points: 0

#130 by jtr // Sep 20, 2016 - 7:48am

It just occurred to me that this defense is built fairly similarly to Carolina: lots of talent at interior DL and LB, without much to get excited about at edge rusher or DB. Like Carolina, they're figuring out that dropping into soft zones lets the weak DB's help each other out and gives the LB's opportunities read the QB and make plays all over the field.

Points: 0

#113 by mehllageman56 // Sep 19, 2016 - 5:19pm

The Steelers secondary has been surprisingly competent so far.

It's a lot easier to look competent when you don't ask anyone to be Revis 2009, and drop 7-8 guys back in zone coverage. Shazier helps a lot too, with his speed and coverage ability. Of course, you have to ask why the Jets ask Revis to be Revis 2009 when he's Revis 2016.

The Steelers defense will be fine until a team pounds the ball down their throat, or they run into big physical receivers. You know, the Patriots offense.

Points: 0

#46 by BJR // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:24pm

Wilson was quite obviously severely limited yesterday. Though he actually threw a handful of pretty deep passes on the occasions he had chance to set up, for most of the afternoon he was simply overwhelmed by Rams defenders, and unable to use his mobility to escape. And without the dual threat, the run game was non-existent.

Green Bay's offence looked alarmingly similar to last year, with receivers apparently unable to get open and Rodgers having to improvise to extreme degrees to get anything done. The scoreline might not have been so close had they not had good luck recovering their own fumbles.

Points: 0

#57 by BJR // Sep 19, 2016 - 12:52pm

Exactly how did the Giants gain over 400 yards of offence and score only 9 offensive points?

Points: 0

#81 by MilkmanDanimal // Sep 19, 2016 - 2:02pm

Three turnovers, one stopped on downs, plus a missed FG. The Giants had 11 drives; one was a kneeldown at the end of the half, three were successful FGs, and two punts. The other five were three fumbles, stopped on downs, missed FG.

The Giants played badly enough to lose, and the Saints still couldn't put them away.

Points: 0

#132 by BJR // Sep 20, 2016 - 7:59am

Sounds as though the Giants should have won convincingly. And the idea touted above that the Saints defense has suddenly improved from last week should probably be treated in context. Allowing the opposition to drive the length of the field before fumbling the ball away/missing field goals is not a sustainable strategy.

Points: 0

#137 by Andrew Potter // Sep 20, 2016 - 8:10pm

In my defense, I did note that the only thing keeping the Saints in the game was the Giants' mistakes.

The idea that the Saints defense has suddenly improved from Week 1 should absolutely be kept in context: the most important context being the concession of 35 points at home to the Raiders in Week 1, which included allowing points on four consecutive 50+ yard drives to turn a 14-point lead midway through the third quarter into a one-point loss despite adding another offensive score.

The Saints changed their approach on defense this week, particularly their coverages, and were better. Still not good in the grand scheme of things, but better.

Points: 0

#133 by Travis // Sep 20, 2016 - 9:10am

And the last of the successful FGs came after three time-wasting kneeldowns after 1st and goal at the 2.

Points: 0

#106 by Kurt // Sep 19, 2016 - 4:12pm

On top of what the others said; the defense didn't get any turnovers so the Giant's possessions (not counting the kneeldown at the end of the half) started on their own 20, 17, 33, 13, 20, 25, 16, 25, 20, 25.

Points: 0

#59 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:03pm

First two weeks of the season have been a microcosm of Matt Stafford's career. If he has decent protection and functional running game, like in week 1 and the first half of week 2, he can sling it with the best of them (he was victimized by some bad drops yesterday, too). But when he starts getting consistent pressure, like the 2nd half of week 2, his footwork/mechanics start to break down, and he starts making head-scratching decisions (all of that happened on the game-sealing INT). The offensive line at least seems better this year, but it seems like Stafford needs 2014 Cowboys-level pass protection to be consistently good, which is unlikely to ever happen at this point.

Points: 0

#58 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:00pm

deleted, double post

Points: 0

#63 by gomer_rs // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:15pm

At this point Seattle should just Baylor up their offense with read/bomb plays so that they can take regular deep shots while running exclusively out of the gun and use primarily dink and dunk passing.

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

Points: 0

#94 by Tomlin_Is_Infallible // Sep 19, 2016 - 2:45pm

cognitive dissonance much?

The standard is the standard!

Points: 0

#97 by gomer_rs // Sep 19, 2016 - 3:12pm

I've argued for a while that playing under center so much has hampered Seattle's ability to cover for their line problems. If they add some Bayloresque Safety reads they should be able to force the defense to play somewhat deep opening up for consistent West Coast slant for 6, slant for 6, slant for 6. The key to the Baylor deep shot plays is the ball only needs to be held for 1-2 seconds because it's a 1 read deep shot and if it's not there just throw it away.

Eleven formation trips right split left, shotgun, mesh, safety bite? no, run, yes, bomb to the WR 1 on 1 on opposite the trips.

Everything else, shotgun dink and dunk.

Normal running game, gone. Plays under center, gone.

Scheme the opposing pass rush out of the game. They'll still have crummy running stats but with 2:1 pass to run ratio they could still have a functional offense.

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

Points: 0

#109 by Tomlin_Is_Infallible // Sep 19, 2016 - 4:58pm

And my point is that Baylor's offense works because they can run the ball with brutal efficacy out of that formation with a variety of lead blocking options and inventive route combos (also,in good part because their OL was phenomenal).

The standard is the standard!

Points: 0

#116 by gomer_rs // Sep 19, 2016 - 7:00pm

Well, there have been a number of studies that indicate that playaction tends to work regardless of the actual effectiveness of the run threat, so that should apply to run/pass option plays as well.

The Hawks would only need the big play to hit once per game to have their regular passing attack open up.

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

Points: 0

#65 by ammek // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:23pm

Aaron keeps getting the wrong Carr.

To keep with the sibling theme, I'm pretty sure that was Jordan Rodgers quarterbacking the Packers yesterday, with his happy feet and Randy Wrightesque accuracy. The complexity of Mike McCarthy's offense is currently only posing a problem to his own players.

Points: 0

#68 by Kyndynos // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:27pm

Can someone explain what happened to the New England defense in the 4th quarter?

Points: 0

#74 by Kyndynos // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:50pm

Also, is the any logical reason that ( given the ineptitude of the Redskins secondary) Josh Norman isn't playing the opposing no.1 receiver?

Points: 0

#95 by Tomlin_Is_Infallible // Sep 19, 2016 - 2:51pm

Meet the new nnamdi. Same as the old nnamdi.

The standard is the standard!

Points: 0

#75 by BroncFan07 // Sep 19, 2016 - 1:50pm

"I was talking to a Pats reporter watching the second half of this game and he actually brought up Jim Plunkett as a possible historical comp, because Plunkett got so fried by the bad teams New England put around him that his career fell apart until he finally put it back together with the Raiders. Please, please, please let that not happen to Andrew Luck."

This is all setting up nicely for 2025 when Andrew Luck wins the Super Bowl with Denver.

Points: 0

#89 by johonny // Sep 19, 2016 - 2:29pm

I was thinking the same thing about Tannehill. If the two QBs that started the New England-Miami game switched teams would people have a lot more interest in Tannehill?

Points: 0

#91 by theslothook // Sep 19, 2016 - 2:38pm

Absolutely. Is there another team that would be starting a third stringer and still be favored against an undefeated squad?

Points: 0

#128 by theslothook // Sep 20, 2016 - 12:28am

Wow you are right. I stand very much corrected. I thought I saw an opening spread of -1/2 NE. Might have been speculating that Jimmy G was available to start.

Points: 0

#93 by MilkmanDanimal // Sep 19, 2016 - 2:44pm

That would be painful, but, just for fun, replace "Denver" with "New England" just to see how many more heads explode.

Points: 0

#96 by BroncFan07 // Sep 19, 2016 - 2:53pm

Ah yes, that would be funny. But New England has won Super Bowls with their own guy. Denver only wins Super Bowls with QBs that the Colts draft.

Points: 0

#102 by Vincent Verhei // Sep 19, 2016 - 3:37pm

OMG Bledsoe is only 44? Feels like he's been out of the league for years.
Must admit I thought Doug Flutie might get a phone call. He looked in great shape playing softball with his brothers on A Football Life a couple of years back. But he must be about 54 now.

Drew Bledsoe is 44 and has been retired for ten years.

Doug Flutie is 53 and has been retired for 11 years.

But last week, Wilson was hurt when Suh accidentally stepped on his ankle...and how many times in his career has Suh "accidentally" stepped on/kicked and injured an opposing player when he was down? (Disclaimer, I didn't see the hit).

If Suh intentionally stepped on Wilson's ankle, then it was the greatest athletic achievement of his career. As fast as both men were moving, and with Wilson trying to change direction, stepping on Wilson's ankle would have been like trying to step on a fly. It was just a fluke thing.

Points: 0

#107 by Hurt Bones // Sep 19, 2016 - 4:22pm

Jeff George is 48 and has been retired for 15 years. Waiting right now for the phone to ring.

Points: 0

#117 by gomer_rs // Sep 19, 2016 - 7:01pm

The Suh hit was legit. Wilson tripped and Suh just kicked it while chasing, Suh couldn't have done that one on purpose.

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

Points: 0

#110 by PatsFan // Sep 19, 2016 - 5:03pm

Schefter reports that NE will not be adding a QB for Thursday's game, though Belichick said on his weekly radio show they'll be bringing in people to work out.

Points: 0

#118 by t.d. // Sep 19, 2016 - 7:23pm

My God, that was a disheartening loss for the Jags. The team's reddit seems to feel it's time to fire everyone. I really, really like Caldwell, and think he's done outstanding work in a terrible situation, but Bradley's gotta go (should have been let go after last season). Bortles' critics got plenty of ammo for the 'all he does is put up garbage time stats' argument (he has flashes of promise, but this was a big setback). Wonder if they'll call Coughlin...

Points: 0

#119 by TacticalSledgehammer // Sep 19, 2016 - 7:29pm

I'm going to start by clarifying that I'm a huge Packers and Rodgers fan, but this needs to be said. For all the talk of his protection, and receivers not getting open, last night might be the worst game Rodgers has ever played. He was flat-out missing open receivers and air-mailing routine throws, and at least two of those turnovers were absolutely inexcusable. I don't know what's going on there, but I really don't like it.

Points: 0

#127 by dbostedo // Sep 19, 2016 - 11:52pm

Does Aaron have a running David/Derek Carr conflation joke that I missed or something?

Points: 0

#135 by fmtemike // Sep 20, 2016 - 3:41pm

Andrew Potter wrote:

While I agree it was always likely to be Blandinoed,I wonder what Andrew thinks 'forever' means? For most of the time I played and followed football a catch was coming down with control of the ball and feet on the ground. If you were stumbling or falling it didn't matter, you were on the ground with control. If you were hit in such a situation it was a fumble. The NFL prefers not to turn the ball over to the D as often on fumbles, nor, I think, to adjudicate their recovery, but the simpler definition would align the rule for what is a catch with what our perceptions tell us is a catch, and face it, if football is going to look increasingly like alley oops in basketball, we might as well let it look as exciting as that

Points: 0

#138 by Andrew Potter // Sep 20, 2016 - 8:15pm

For most of the time I played and followed football a catch was coming down with control of the ball and feet on the ground. If you were stumbling or falling it didn't matter, you were on the ground with control. If you were hit in such a situation it was a fumble.

I've never seen the NFL refereed that way. Maybe it was before my time (I started watching consistently in the mid-2000s), but I've never known the NFL to consistently consider situations like that a catch-and-fumble.

Points: 0

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