Audibles at the Line

Unfiltered in-game observations by Football Outsiders staff

Audibles at the Line: Week 10

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 emails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

While these emails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Steelers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors solely to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.

Pittsburgh Steelers 20 at Indianapolis Colts 17

Scott Kacsmar: So this is Ben Roethlisberger's eighth start against the Colts, and the fourth time he doesn't have to outscore Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck (third year in a row). He has already been intercepted and sacked in the first quarter, which are two things that never happened in the previous three meetings. The pick was just a blind deep ball thrown up for Martavis Bryant, who is active again, but not active enough apparently. Not much to see in the first quarter. Stuffed runs have set both offenses back in the down and distance, and both quarterbacks have a failed scramble on third down as well as some vertical shots they couldn't keep in bounds to their targets.

Already starting to see where this one is headed. Artie Burns got caught peeking in the backfield and Donte Moncrief was wide open for a 60-yard touchdown bomb. Moncreif had one game all season with more than 50 receiving yards. Antonio Brown got wide open after two Colts ran into each other, but he alligator-armed the catch with a safety closing in. Mike Tomlin punted on fourth-and-6 from the Indianapolis 38. Colts have already flipped the field position on the ensuing drive and are in Pittsburgh territory.

Aaron Schatz: Artie Burns has been one of the top corners in the league this year by the charting numbers. The Steelers' consistent playing down to bad opponents on the road has no equivalent among the other 31 franchises. I don't understand it at all. I mean, let's say it's a coaching issue for Mike Tomlin. What could the issue *be*? Is it not taking opponents seriously? What, does that mean they don't game-plan enough for the bad opponents?

This is an even bigger deal than usual today because they are coming off the bye week. Most teams have a small advantage coming off the bye week.

Dave Bernreuther: Without pressure, Jacoby Brissett shows an occasional flash of competence. After a horribly inaccurate deep ball in the first quarter, he pump-faked Artie Burns out of his shoes and dropped a dime to Donte Moncrief for the first score in Indy. Like we all expected, the Colts have played stout defense and have a lead over the Steelers...

Thus far Roethlisberger has looked pretty bad, although blame for the second missed deep ball goes squarely on Antonio Bryant, who short-armed it after two Colts defenders ran into each other. Meanwhile, the Colts offense also looks competent, if not spectacular, methodically moving the chains on a long drive that began on the Pittsburgh 6 after a fraidy-cat punt from inside the 40.

Then of course as soon as I say that the Colts take their second false start penalty -- at home, mind you -- and run a give-up play on third down, and the drive stalls. Still, they're up two scores, which is not a terrible spot for a two-score dog to be in at home.

Scott Kacsmar: Coaching definitely has to be the main factor in these letdown games. I don't think you'll find a consistent decrease in performance from one side of the ball over the other in those games. It's more of a team thing, and frankly, it does look like motivation a lot of the times. Just not much care or precision in these games. "Show up and win just because we're the six-time Super Bowl champion Steelers" mentality. CBS had a graphic that since 2012, the Steelers are 7-14 in road games against sub-.500 teams. They're 16-13 in such games based on the final record, so CBS' graphic is for losing record at the time of the game. However, that may come in handy more when suggesting it's a lack of interest in the small games. When you see you're a 10-point favorite against a lousy team, you might be spending more time on the PS4 or Instagram than you would if you were studying game film to not get embarrassed against an undefeated Kansas City team. Obviously that is more of a player comment than Tomlin's prep, but he is the coach and it is his job to prepare these guys for every game. This has gone on for far too long too. Just think of 2011 when a 12-4 Pittsburgh team handled the Patriots better than they did the Curtis Painter-led Colts and Tyler Palko-led Chiefs. I don't need to remind anyone how that year ended in the playoffs in Denver either.

Another thing today for the Steelers: injuries. Been a pretty healthy year so far, but Joe Haden is out and Mike Mitchell just got carted off. That's half the starting secondary right there. Brissett is finding guys wide open down the field.

With Antonio Brown being really quiet today, JuJu Smith-Schuster did the heavy lifting on that drive. Perfect deep ball from Roethlisberger to him, then a little play-action slant for a touchdown. Extra point was blocked and almost returned for two points if tight end Jesse James didn't chase down the defender. Shades of before halftime in Chicago this year when the Steelers had a blocked field goal that turned into a short field goal for the Bears.

Minnesota Vikings 38 at Washington Redskins 30

Bryan Knowles: Maurice Harris, fresh from the practice squad, makes a tremendous, unbelievable, one-handed grab for Washington's first touchdown. Not quite as difficult as Odell Beckham's famous one-handed grab, but an incredible grab even with Trae Waynes with about as good as coverage as you could have in that situation. Kirk Cousins found the one spot he could put the ball, too -- great play all around. I have no idea how the ref missed that it was a touchdown from 3 feet away, but review corrected the issue. You'll be seeing that one on highlight reels for quite some time, I think.

Another touchdown for Stefon Diggs, who is having a heck of a day. He hadn't scored a touchdown since Week 3, but he's already got two today. That surpasses his career high in touchdowns, which is both good news for Vikings fans and a bad reminder that, well, Diggs hasn't found the end zone that often. He has just 13 career touchdowns, and just seven in his first two years combined. One more touchdown this year, and he'll have doubled his career total.

Of course, he gets a 15-yard penalty thanks to celebrating with the goalpost, and Washington takes the bonus field position and marches right back down the field for another touchdown. 17-14 game, and this one's getting really good.

Of course, Minnesota answered right back, thanks in large part to a bomb from Case Keenum to Diggs. Diggs was supposed to be somewhat limited as he continues to recover from a groin injury -- or, at least, that's what I assume Josh Norman was thinking as Diggs raced right past him. Big explosive plays; just what we expected out of a game between two top-12 defenses. 7-7, late in the first quarter.

Well, this is turning into something of an unexpected track meet. For the first time this season, Minnesota has given up 17 first-half points. Washington's 196 yards in the first half are also the most against Minnesota so far this season. Washington had a 17-14 lead with four and half minutes left in the second quarter, but Minnesota has scored twice more since then (with a little help from a Cousins interception) to take a 28-17 halftime lead. I expected this to be the game of the week, but in a tense, defensive struggle; not this. Heck, the Vikings hadn't score 28 first-half points on the road since 2012 in a city that no longer has a professional football team; this is a bit crazy!

Minnesota's been doing this with big, explosive plays -- three passes of 38 yards or more -- but they're also averaging 4.9 yards per carry on the ground. Washington's defense is sort of letting Minnesota do whatever they want, and that's not exactly a recipe for success. Credit Pat Shurmur for a really good game plan. Minnesota's showing a lot of variety and misdirection out there, and Washington is bamboozled.


Vince Verhei: Have we talked about Adam Thielen yet today? An even 100 yards and a touchdown in the first half. We need to start talking about DIggs and Thielen as one of the NFL's top wide receiver pairs.

Let's also note that Washington went for it on fourth down twice in the first half, converting both times. The first, it looked like they were going to try for the offsides and then take the delay of game, but Kirk Cousins snapped the ball late and hit Chris Thompson for a big play. That led to a field goal. Later, they went for it on fourth-and-1 at the 5. They converted that one too, and it led to a touchdown.

Oh look, another big play by Thielen on the first drive of the second half, getting so deep behind everyone that Keenum's wobbling duck of a pass still results in a 49-yard gain. Jarius Wright finished the drive with a touchdown on a wide receiver screen. Vikings have scored touchdowns on four straight drives and lead 35-17.

Bryan Knowles: Here's your Adam Thielen stat for the day:

Three receivers have multiple 150-plus-yard receiving days in the NFL this year: T.Y. Hilton, Antonio Brown and now Adam Thielen. Not a bad group to be in, there.

I'm still amazed that two of the best quarterbacks this season played for the 2016 Los Angeles Rams. Case Keenum has four touchdown passes; no Vikings quarterback has done that on the road since Brett Favre. Keenum's going to get a decent contract from someone this offseason, isn't he? I mean, if Mike Glennon is worth $15 million a year…

Aaaaand as I type that, Keenum throws a pick to D.J. Swearinger just outside the end zone. If they had scored there, this game's probably over. And then, on the Viking's very next pass attempt, Keenum throws another interception. That sets up an odd play -- Cousins dives into the end zone, fumbles as he crosses the line, and it's scooped up Andrew Sendejo and run 100 yards the other way. It's ruled a Vikings touchdown, but the eventual review says that Cousins did, in fact, break the plane with control. 35-27 game, and what was slipping away from Washington is now very much in play again.

Los Angeles Chargers 17 at Jacksonville Jaguars 20 (OT)

Derrik Klassen: Fake punt! For a touchdown! With the first quarter coming to a close, the Jaguars were faced with a fourth down around midfield. Backup running back Corey Grant received the snap and cut inside immediately as a Chargers defender jumped outside to defend the fake. Grant made his way past the sticks, then past the deepest defender, and finally past the goal line for the first score of this game.

That is not the first time Grant and the Jaguars have done that, either. They tried that fake versus the Baltimore Ravens in London and saw similar results. Grant did not score versus the Ravens, but he did rip off a huge gain to put the team in the red zone.

With Grant's unexpected touchdown, the Jaguars now lead the Chargers 6-0 with one quarter in the books.

More chaos in Jacksonville. On second down near midfield, the Chargers' botched their best chance to score up to that point. Philip Rivers heaved a deep pass to Tyrell Williams, who had cleared the coverage without issue. The pass forced Williams to slow his stride a tad, but still hit him right in the chest. Williams did not catch it. The ball bounced off of Williams and onto the grass, forcing a third down. Thankfully, Rivers rifled a pass over the middle to convert.

After a short run from Melvin Gordon on first down, Rivers tossed a short pass to Austin Ekeler near the sideline. The play initially looked like a minimal gain until Ekeler turned the corner on Jalen Ramsey and Telvin Smith, tip-toed along the sideline, and found his way to the end zone. Ekeler's sideline dancing was reviewed, but the evidence was not conclusive enough to overturn the call to Ekeler being out of bounds.

With the extra point, the Chargers are now up 7-6 with halftime on the way.

Bryan Knowles: Shoot, I've misplaced my Chargers bingo card. Was "fumble, leading to a defensive touchdown when attempting to run out the clock" somewhere on there?

Derrik Klassen: The Chargers just went full Chargers. Blake Bortles was attempting to lead a game-tying or game-winning drive, but the Chargers defense picked him off. It appeared that the Chargers would be able to run out the clock and put this one to bed. Instead, running back Austin Ekeler fumbles. Safety Tashaun Gipson picks it up and runs it back for a touchdown. In the most inconceivable way possible, the Jaguars lead 20-17 (21-17, barring the extra point) with just under two minutes to go.

Bryan Knowles: Oop, they overturned the touchdown, but it's still Jacksonville ball. Not over yet.

Derrik Klassen: Never mind! The ruling as overturned to say Gipson did not score. The Jaguars start with the ball at the Chargers 36-yard line.

Andrew Potter: Worth keeping an eye on in a three-point game: Jaguars long snapper Matt Overton is out of the game with a shoulder injury. Fullback Tommy Bohanon is snapping now, and has been just as inconsistent as you would expect a fullback snapping the ball 10 yards though his legs to be. (Correction: Bohanon only snapped the ball on punts. Offensive lineman Tyler Shatley was the long snapper for field goals.)

...or not. Blake Bortles throws an interception to Tre Boston AGAIN. That's the third pick he's thrown directly to Boston, though Boston dropped the first of them.

Only the Jaguars (and maybe the Browns) could possibly outfail the Chargers.

Bryan Knowles: A battle of who can throw the game away! After the touchdown is overturned, the Chargers commit pass interference to get the Jaguars closer. On the next play, Marqise Lee commits a foul of his own, taunting the Chargers in the end zone after what he thought was a late hit. Nope, the hit was clean, and Jacksonville gets hit with a 15-yard penalty of their own. And then Bortles has to Bort, throwing yet another interception. This time, maybe, just maybe, the Chargers will hold on.

If the Chargers are still the Chargers, then Blake Bortles is still Blake Bortles.

Vince Verhei: I am watching the end of this game AND following the Audibles thread, and I still have no idea what the hell is happening. But I am quite certain Blake Bortles still sucks.

Bryan Knowles: If there was ever a time where I could endorse the "icing" strategy, it would be icing the third-string long snapper. But no, Tyler Shatley's snap is at least within range of the holder, and we have a tie game going to overtime. I can not believe the last three minutes of this game.

Andrew Potter: The Chargers being the Chargers, they go three-and-out and bunt a horrible punt that barely crosses midfield. Tre Boston nearly got ANOTHER pick on the next play -- would have been his third in three drives -- then took out the knee (fairly) of Allen Hurns on a second-down reception. But Jacksonville converts, Joey Bosa gets called for roughing Bortles, and now Los Angeles calls a timeout apparently in an attempt to catch their breath. Two plays later, former Chargers kicker Josh Lambo apparently sends this amazing fourth quarter to overtime.

Blake Bortles has tried three times to throw this game away, and the Chargers simply will not grasp it.

Bryan Knowles: Philip Rivers throws an interception to A.J. Bouye, who returns the ball down to the 2 -- but the Jaguars get another taunting penalty, pushing them further back. No one wants to win this game!

Derrik Klassen: OK, this game is too perfect. It was sent to overtime, just as we all hoped. The Jaguars started with the ball, but failed to get anything going, forced to pin the Chargers deep in their own territory with a punt. When faced with third down, Rivers heaved a deep pass to Travis Benjamin, which was intercepted by A.J. Bouye. Bouye returned the pick to inside the Chargers 5-yard line, only for Jacksonville to catch another unsportmanslike penalty and be pushed back to the 14-yard line. Then the Chargers get hit with a defensive delay of game penalty.

Finally, after all this chaos, Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo ekes out a game-winner that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. Jags 20-17, fin.

Aaron Schatz: OK, we can add "lost on an overtime field goal snapped by the third-string long-snapper" to Chargers loss bingo.

Bryan Knowles: The Chargers ice the snapper. The Chargers bark out signals (and get called for the penalty). The Chargers end up tipping the field goal attempt...

But it's still good. NO one out-loses the Los Angeles Chargers!

Andrew Potter: That interception was a terrific play by Bouye, who ripped the ball away from Travis Benjamin down the left sideline and weaved his way back down to the 2-yard line. The taunting penalty's a big one though, again because of the snapper situation. Not that it matters, as Lambo smashes the kick through a block attempt for the win.

Bryan Knowles: Also, just realized this -- the 5-yard penalty for simulating signals was probably the difference between that blocked field goal going through and ending up short. Good lord.

Green Bay Packers 23 at Chicago Bears 16

Aaron Schatz: Brett Hundley called a timeout with six seconds left in the first quarter against the Bears. There were 10 seconds on the play clock.

Bryan Knowles: Crazy sequence of events in Chicago. Mitchell Trubisky hits a short screen pass to Benny Cunningham, who romps downfield. He races down the right sideline, dives for the end zone, but apparently is pushed out of bounds at the 1. First-and-goal from the 1, right? No; John Fox thinks that Cunningham got in, and throws the challenge flag. However, one of the replay angles show that Cunningham lost control of the ball just before going over the pylon. That's a fumble out of the end zone, meaning instead of it being Chicago's ball at the 1, it's a touchback for Green Bay. I have no idea what the coaching booth said to Fox to make him challenge that play, but the Packers are very happy that they did.

Aaron Schatz: Reminder of my proposal for the touchback rule: The offense that fumbled the ball out of the end zone should keep the ball BUT it should be a touchback. So they should get the ball with first-and-10 on the opponent 20. Fumbling the ball out of the end zone should still cost you something. This essentially costs you 20 yards.

Bryan Knowles: Oh my, Green Bay had a chance to put this away, but Justin Vogel, the holder, just drops the snap on a field goal that would have given the Packers a 10-point lead. Instead, Mitchell Trubisky and company get to do a final drive...

... which ends with Trubisky throws a zero-yard pass on fourth-and-10. Benny Cunningham gets a few and tries a lateral for a few more, but it turns out, it's really hard to get 10 yards when you catch the ball at the line of scrimmage! Game over, and Brett Hundley gets his first career win.

Cleveland Browns 24 at Detroit Lions 38

Vince Verhei: Browns have the freedom of playing with nothing to lose, and they get aggressive early. Leading 10-0 on a Kenny Britt touchdown (Britt caught a short hitch, broke a tackle, and streaked into the end zone), the Browns had a fourth-and-1 at their own 44. They went for it, and failure there would have given the Lions a very short field and likely led to another round of Browns front office jokes. But Duke Johnson picked up the first down on what looked like a zone-read play. Jim Caldwell challenged the spot for some reason, I guess because he is Jim Caldwell and he must do things like this some times. The call is confirmed and it's a first down for Cleveland. Unfortunately for them, back-to-back holding penalties kill the drive, and they end up punting anyway. So a lose-lose for everyone there.

Lions respond with a 90-yard touchdown drive to tie the game. Crazy thing about this is that the Lions came into the week dead last in rush offense DVOA, while the Browns were first in rush defense DVOA. But most of the Lions' damage has been done on the ground. Early in the second quarter, Detroit has already run for 89 yards for seven first downs. Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick both have 20-plus-yard runs. Matthew Stafford has runs for 10 and 9 yards, the first converting a first-and-10, the latter a conversion on third-and-8 right before the touchdown. Abdullah scored on an easy plunge up the middle.

Aaron Schatz: Cleveland just ran a quarterback sneak on second-and-goal with 15 seconds left. A quarterback sneak with about 2 1/2 yards to go. With 15 seconds left. And NO TIMEOUTS. Not only did the Lions completely stuff DeShone Kizer, but it's a quarterback sneak, which means a pile, which means you have to pull guys off the pile, which means there's no way you get set up to spike the ball so you can get a field goal attempt. The Browns wasted 15 seconds and they wasted a red zone appearance where they could have gotten at least 3 points. Unreal. Either Kizer audibled or screwed something up or something, or Hue Jackson has lost his freakin' mind and needs to be fired.


Scott Kacsmar: Wow, that's pretty bad. Quarterback sneak is the ultimate 1-yard strategy, not 2-plus yards.

Tom Gower: It wasn't even a draw. It was a straight sneak, without even enough time for the intermediate defenders to back off. Just a bizarre play call.

Vince Verhei: Wait. What? I was watching that from across the room with the sound off. I thought it must have been a fumbled snap. I had a whole spiel written about Cleveland's ball security at the goal line this year. And ... and ... and I spent so much time working on it, then was shocked to realize it was a designed run and ... and now the second half has started and I'm still stunned.

Cleveland has a big lead in yardage and a lead in first downs too, but they're behind 17-10 because of two big mistakes -- that sneak, and Seth DeValve's fumble, which was forced, recovered, and returned for a touchdown by Nevin Lawson. The Browns have made a lot of big plays today, but every week they find some new way to just totally screw things up. It's really quite impressive.

As if to make my point for me, the Browns open the second half with an easy 85-yard touchdown drive. Eight plays, and they never even got to third down. Seventy of those yards came on Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell runs, including Crowell's 6-yard touchdown run. So it's 17-17 now, and having watched most of this, it sure feels like Cleveland has been the better team most of the game. It's just a small number of embarrassing mistakes that are completely killing them.

Lions go three-and-out, and Browns stampeded all over them for another touchdown. Ten plays, 80 yards, and only one third-down play, a third-and-8 converted by Kizer on a 20-yard scramble. He also hit DeValve for a 35-yard play down to the 1 to redeem, well, both of them. Then Kizer scored on, yes, a sneak.

Cleveland now leads 24-17 with 2:23 left in the third quarter. Matt Stafford, the highest-paid quarterback in the league, has completed two passes for first downs.

So of course on the ensuing drive Stafford catches fire. Four plays, four completions, 75 yards, touchdown. The biggest play was a 50-yard bomb to Kenny Golladay down the right sideline, then the touchdown was an 8-yarder to Theo Riddick. Browns go three-and-out on the next drive. Kizer takes a shot to the ribs on second down, then on the last play of the quarter, Cody Kessler comes in and is sacked on third down. So Detroit will punt from about the 20 on the first play of the fourth, with the score still tied at 24-all.

Lions get another touchdown, while Kessler is melting down and taking more sacks than he's completing passes. (He had Bryce Treggs wide open down the left sideline but badly overthrew him.) A Jamal Agnew punt return sets the Lions up at the Cleveland 44; one first down gives them a shot at a field goal to put the game away. Browns defense stands tall and forces a third-and-11, and Joe Schobert looks to have a sack on an inside blitz to end the drive. However, Myles Garrett was offside on the play. So it's third-and-6, and the Browns line up with eight men on the line of scrimmage, three cornerbacks in off coverage -- one to the offense's left, two to the right. So the Lions run a wide receiver screen to the right, and they have more blockers than Cleveland has defenders, and it's a 40-yard touchdown to Golden Tate to put Detroit up 38-24. Kizer has returned to the game, but it's going to be meaningless barring a comeback for the ages. Cleveland might have been the better team for the first 40 minutes or so, but Detroit has kicked the hell out of them since then.

Aaron Schatz: Kizer converted three fourth downs on the final drive as the Browns made a valiant attempt at the back-door cover, then threw a pick from the 4-yard line.

Vince Verhei: End of this game could not have been more fitting. DeValve caught a ball to give the Browns a first down in the red zone, but instead of going out of bounds, he cuts inside for a meager gain in real estate. Cleveland has to call its first timeout. Only appropriate that both halves end with the Browns showing a total lack of clock awareness. But it doesn't matter, because a few plays later Kizer throws a terrible fade pass to Ricardo Louis in the end zone. Darius Slay has an easy interception -- it looked like he was the receiver on the play -- and THERE is the goal-line turnover I thought they had at the end of the first half. Browns now have six turnovers inside the red zone this year. Nobody else had more than three coming into the week.

DeValve has confirmed that the sneak was an audible on Kizer's part.

Cincinnati Bengals 20 at Tennessee Titans 24

Bryan Knowles: Hey, it's an NFL Sunday, so Vontaze Burfict must be doing something bad. He made contact with a game official and was ejected, which would be bad enough -- but he argued with fans and flashed the Johnny Football money sign on his way out. It was also his second personal foul of the game, though the first one (hitting a receiver out of bounds) seemed a little ticky-tack. When you have a history, however, you're not going to get the benefit of the doubt on borderline calls. Remember, Burfict already served a three-game suspension earlier this season.

Tom Gower: Titans lead 17-13 at the half. Both teams have found the end zone twice. Cincinnati's offense today fees like a testament to Joe Goodberry's Uncommon idea, that the Bengals offense is much more effective against teams they haven't faced lately because their standard template of tricks works much better against those teams. Plenty of packaged play looks and other misdirection elements, including notably the first touchdown to a wide-open Brandon LaFell splitting the two deep safeties. The questionable offensive line has given the Titans one short field, on a fumble-sack by Brian Orakpo, but otherwise they've done better than I thought they might.

The weird thing about the first half is Tennessee did some of the same stuff. For an offense that likes to be deceptive, the Titans haven't gone as heavily into packaged plays and run-pass options as I'd think they might or should, but we saw some of it in the first half. They also had a few plays with rookie corner Adoree Jackson. Even when he didn't touch the ball, he's been a threat and given the defense something new to worry about. Marcus Mariota had a 28-yard run on a keeper on one play, and Rishard Matthews dropped what would have been a touchdown pass otherwise.

Kind of a chippy first half, with four post-play personal fouls, two on each team. That included Vontaze Burfict getting tossed for contact with an official. Alas, no replay of what happened there, though we did get a look at Delanie Walker demonstrating to an official what he thought Bengals linebacker Nick Vigil was doing to him on a third down no-call.

Rob Weintraub: After 55 minutes of blah offensive play A.J. Green says "enough" like J-Lo, takes a slant and goes 70 yards for the go-ahead score. 20-17 but that missed PAT looms.

As does general Bengalness. DeMarco Murray catches a safety valve pass on third-and-goal, splits three defenders and breaks the plane. 24-20 Titans. Color me shocked that the Bengals blew it.

And of course it happened literally simultaneously as the Steelers kick a field goal to beat Indy. My football life in a nutshell.

Not for nothing, but a few plays before Mariota threw the winning pass he was smashed down by Carlos Dunlap, hitting his head very hard on the turf. Tennessee had to call timeout to "clear his head." No protocol, natch. Mariota staggered back in and got the dump-off pass off to win it. No consistency in the rule whatsoever.

Carl Yedor: This can also apply to Thursday night, but there has to be a better way to "enforce" the concussion protocol. Maybe the league should change it to a certain amount of time off the field (instead of a certain number of plays). But then you have to consider the incentives of knocking out the quarterback for a given period of time from the defense's perspective. There could be an advantage for forcing the starter out of the game for a prescribed period of time in exchange for a 15-yard penalty. Either way, there isn't an easy solution, but the current system is very flawed.

Tom Gower: 17-13 at the half, 17-13 with six minutes to play in the game as the teams spent most of the second half trading punts outside one Titans possession that ended with one of those fumbles at the goal line that became a touchback. Then A.J. Green, who'd had a quiet day thus far, broke one for a 70-yard score. The Titans got the go-ahead score, though, with DeMarco Murray finding the end zone for the third time on a good individual effort. Josh Shaw's third penalty of the game extended the drive in field goal territory. Mike Mularkey saw something he thought should've been flagged but Dean Blandino and I both agreed was a good no-call, because that's what Mike Mularkey does. Andy Dalton then had 36 seconds to lead a touchdown drive from his own 25, which went about how you'd guess it would.

So, what happened in the second half after the teams moved the ball well in the first half? The banal/Mularkey answer for Tennessee is third downs; they were 2-of-8 after going 5-of-7 in the first 30 minutes. I would instead point out how they ended up in third-and-long repeatedly, as the run game was not consistently successful and they weren't getting the chunk plays they got in the first half (Murray/Henry 10-20). Cincinnati's problems were similar; Joe Mixon had some good runs, but overall they didn't have a sustained running game, and I don't feel the need to go into detail on what happens when Cincinnati doesn't have that.

Since I mentioned it at halftime, here's the writeup I did for NBC in 2015 on Joe Goodberry's observation about much better Andy Dalton was against teams the Bengals hadn't faced recently.

New Orleans Saints 47 at Buffalo Bills 10

Andrew Potter: Halftime in Buffalo, Saints lead 17-3. Other than one kneeldown to end the first half, every time the Saints have possessed the ball they've driven into the red zone. The only time they failed to score was when tight end Josh Hill fumbled at around the Bills' 10-yard line on a tackle from former Saints linebacker Ramon Humber. Drew Brees is completing passes at a 75 percent clip, but the bigger deal is the Saints ground game averaging more than 6.0 yards per carry. Both touchdowns went to Mark Ingram, who also had a huge fourth-and-1 conversion when the Saints motioned Ted Ginn into the backfield to draw the defense's attention then sent Ingram up the gut for 25 yards. Not many teams are built to win games where they continually give up long drives, but the Bills are particularly ill-suited. Tyrod Taylor has all of 48 passing yards at the half.

Aaron Schatz: The Hill fumble was kind of funny, by the way. Humber caused the fumble with his back. Like, he didn't strip the ball. He was tackling Hill around the chest and Hill tried to hold onto the ball and his hands went too low and the back knocked the ball out.

By far the best strategy for the Bills to win this game was going to be as much LeSean McCoy as possible. The Saints are fourth in pass defense DVOA, but 28th in run defense DVOA. So McCoy has more than 7 yards per carry, but that's only 51 yards on seven carries. Mike Tolbert is at -2 yards on two carries and Deonte Thompson lost 5 yards on an end-around, so the overall Bills run numbers aren't spectacular, but McCoy's been great. So why only seven carries? The Saints only have seven guys in the box, it's not like they're stacking here to stop the Bills' running game. On the first drive, it looked like Tyrod Taylor wanted to feed his new No. 1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin. He hasn't thrown to him since that first drive. Witness the power of the Lattimore.

On the other side of the ball, this is the second straight week that the Bills have been completely run over by the opposing running backs, and it's the second week without Marcell Dareus. Coincidence?

Andrew Potter: 36 of McCoy's yards came on one run, on which he hurt his ankle. His other six first-half attempts gained 15 yards in total.g

Sheldon Rankins just ended Buffalo's first drive of the second half with his first career interception after Charles Clay juggled a pass into the air. Ingram scored his third rushing touchdown of the day on the next play, to add to Alvin Kamara's rushing touchdown on the first drive of the half, and suddenly this is 30-3 (Wil Lutz missed an extra point) midway through the third quarter. The Saints are running over, round, and through the Bills defense. The defenders can't shed blocks, can't keep track of the misdirection, and can't tackle on the few occasions when they are in position. New Orleans' last five plays in Bills territory have all been runs, for a total of 45 yards and two touchdowns. Yes, 45 yards and two scores on only five attempts.

Scott Kacsmar: Wow, total blowout in Buffalo by the "dome team" Saints. One of the articles we talked about doing before the season (before running out of time) was a Drew Brees study that looked at how incredible he has been for teams that still missed the playoffs. The Saints were getting the new 7-9 jokes in light of Jeff Fisher's removal from the league. The defense was always ripped apart for years, and also for two weeks this season. But make that seven wins in a row, mostly in dominant fashion, for a team that is running the ball well and playing great defense. I think it would be an amazing story if the Saints continued to play like this to get Brees to another Super Bowl after he did so much to keep the team competitive for years without any postseason reward. They're brewing something special in New Orleans right now.

Aaron Schatz: The special thing they are brewing in New Orleans is called "Pumpkin Spice Latte-more."

OK, it's not just him, but man, Marshon Lattimore has been really good.

New York Giants 21 at San Francisco 49ers 31

Bryan Knowles: How do the Giants open this game? Kickoff out of bounds, 28-yard run allowed, unnecessary roughness penalty. The 49ers' response? False start, 0-yard gain, backwards pass for a 6-yard loss, 3-yard give-up play on third-and-forever, field goal. Ladies and gentlemen, the least important game of the year to date! It is, at least, the 49ers' first lead at home this season; they have only led for a little under 30 minutes of game time (and six offensive plays!) coming into this week.

Giants looking a little better with the return of Kelvin Sheppard. The 49ers tried to go for it on a fourth-and-1, which I support. Going for it on an inside rush, however, was probably not the best plan. The 49ers' biggest weakness (a large category, I know), is their interior offensive line, while the Giants' interior defenders represent something of a strength. Sheppard and Olivier Vernon stuff the Most Expensive Fullback in Football. 6-3, Giants at the end of the first quarter.

Oh, and then Kyle Juszczyk kills another quasi-promising 49ers drive with a fumble. Second straight week he's put one on the ground. The 49ers' front office has done many good things in their first year; signing Juszcyzk to that huge contract appears to be their biggest error to date. We had Juszcyzk's deal as the fourth-worst value of all the major free agent signing this offseason and, well, yeah.

If you want to look like a big-play offense, just play the New York Football Giants. The 49ers had 281 yards of total offense in the first half (the most they've had this year) and have a halftime lead for the first time in the Kyle Shanahan era. I knew, logically, that the Giants secondary had tackling issues, but it's one thing to see the numbers and another to see it in action. Garrett Celek should have been tackled a good three or four times on his way to the go-ahead touchdown, giving them a 17-13 lead entering the half. That makes ten straight games a tight end has scored a touchdown against the Giants, which is an NFL record.

It turns out, an all-world offensive tackle helps pass protection issues. Joe Staley is back today from his fractured orbital bone (ouch), and the Giants are having issues getting pressure on C.J. Beathard, making them the first team ever to have that sentence written about them. The Giants' offense is doing alright, all things considered -- Evan Engram had a great catch, snatching the ball away from Eric Reid for a touchdown -- but when your defense is playing this poorly, that may not matter.

Aldrick Rosas misses a 34-yard chip shot -- the fourth straight game the Giants have missed a field goal. The Big Play 49ers Offense marches down the field, thanks to a 40-yard reception by Louis Murphy Jr. (god, I'm old), but the drive stalls when the Giants came down with a tipped interception. That keeps the score at 17-13, as the 49ers remain the only team in the NFL to not have a double-digit lead at any point this season.

The 49ers get into the end zone again. It hasn't been pretty, and it's been a long time coming, but the 49ers now have a double-digit lead, making them the last team to do so this season (Cleveland hit that mark in the early games today).

Of course, because nothing can happen without a bit of a cloud hanging over it, C.J. Beathard banged up his hand going into the end zone for the score to make it 24-13. If he can't come back, that means we would see the 49ers debut of Jimmy Garoppolo. He's getting loose as the trainers work on Beathard; bulletins as events warrant.

Tom Gower: One of those things that may be telling about teams and players is whether and how much players away from the ball who may have a role later in a continuing play rally to the ball. Or not, as Giants defenders did on C.J. Beathard's touchdown run. Or Matt Breida's touchdown run to put the 49ers up 31-13 in the fourth quarter. Sometimes bad games happen, but it's hard to see how Ben McAdoo keeps his job much longer without a very, very quick turnaround in New York's demonstrated effort and performance level.

Bryan Knowles: Yeah. I've watched a lot of bad football and bad football teams over the past few years as I've subjected myself to every 49ers game, but I can't remember seeing such a lack of effort like I'm seeing the Giants today. I get they're injured at every level, I get that this season is done -- but the same is true of the team on the other side of the ball, and no one on the Giants really seem to care. You could justify McAdoo not getting on a plane back to New York.

Houston Texans 7 at Los Angeles Rams 33

Vince Verhei: It's the end of the first quarter, and so far Tom Savage has lost a fumble on a sack; thrown a pair of balls that could have been pick-sixes but were dropped by defenders; and nearly gotten Bruce Ellington killed, throwing him into a big hit by Trumaine Johnson. (At least that resulted in a Rams penalty.) And yet the Rams only lead 3-0, because the Rams' first three drives have netted one first down and 6 yards of offense. Jadeveon Clowney is making big plays, and the Texans have been smothering the short passes the Rams are completing. We haven't seen any deep passes from Jared Goff yet, but you've got to figure they're coming. Regardless, it has been an excellent year for Romeo Crennel and Mike Vrabel. Houston's defense is more than holding its own despite all the injuries they have suffered.

Clowney currently has one sack, three tackles for loss, and a quarterback hit. The Rams have snapped the ball 15 times.

And Houston goes ahead when Tom Savage hits Ellington on a quick slant, and John Johnson takes a horrible angle on the play, leaving Ellington an easy path up the middle of the field for a 26-yard score. Texans lead 7-6, and it could have been worse -- Ka'imi Fairbairn missed a field goal after Houston had called timeout. Yes, effectively, the Texans iced their own kicker.

Rams take a 9-7 lead into halftime. Texans had an opportunity to open up a lead after a failed fake punt gave them great field position, but Savage threw a bad interception to end that drive. Just lobbed the ball into a crowd. That's two bad turnovers for Savage, but otherwise he and the Texans' wideouts have been winning the battle against the Rams' secondary.

As for the Rams, they have 15 yards on one Todd Gurley run, and 43 yards on a Gurley screen, and otherwise have 73 yards on their other 29 plays. It's really shocking to see them bottled up like this, but the Texans are winning the battle up front and in the back end. Sammy Watkins has one target, an incompletion, and Goff hasn't been able to effectively find anyone else.

I feel like I'm watching the Browns game again. The underdog has mostly outplayed the favorite, but trails at halftime due to a few massive mistakes.

There's a third near-pick-six for Savage -- his pass is behind Lamar Miller, and Alec Ogletree makes a nifty one-handed grab and takes it back the other way for the score. The play is called back on Ogletree's holding call, but that doesn't change what a terrible pass it was by Savage. A few more interceptable passes later, Shane Lechler punts, and Pharoh Cooper makes the bizarre decision to field the ball at the 3, then is tackled at the 4.

But that's no problem, because Robert Woods scorches Johnathan Joseph on a post route for a 94-yard touchdown. Rams lead 16-7, and it feels like Houston's shot at the upset just went out the window.

Rams get the ball back after their touchdown, and with a nine-point lead against a bad team at home in the second half, you'd think it's time to get conservative, but apparently not. Their next drive includes two runs and seven passes. Two of those plays were sacks, both by linebacker Brennan Scarlett, the latter forcing a punt. (Texans have been using a lot of defensive back blitzes, by the way.) Goff is now up to 33 pass plays, most of which have gone badly, while Gurley has only nine runs. Presumably that will change going forward.

And in the time it took me to type this up, the Texans went three-and-out and Los Angeles has the ball again.

Well this got un-interesting in a hurry. The last four plays from scrimmage:

  • Sammy Watkins catch downfield for gain of 24.
  • Sammy Watkins 17-yard touchdown on wide receiver screen. (Andrew Whitworth was way downfield and this should have been a penalty, but come on, it doesn't matter.)
  • Samson Ebukam is unblocked and charges right into Savage's face. Somehow Savage does not see this (Seriously, is he blind? Is Matt Murdock playing quarterback for Houston now?) and is hit and fumbles, recovered by the Rams.
  • Goff to Robert Woods, 12 yards, touchdown.

Rams now lead 30-7 at the end of the third, and I think I'm done talking about it.

Tom Gower: With Tom Savage and his internal sundial in the game, this one was almost assuredly over after the long Robert Woods touchdown made it 16-7. I don't like thinking about the 2017 Texans as currently constituted, but injuries do happen and sometimes matter a lot.

Dallas Cowboys 7 at Atlanta Falcons 27

Carl Yedor: And now we see the concussion protocol in action again with Devonta Freeman in Atlanta. Freeman is headed back to the locker room with his helmet off, so it looks like the Falcons are following the protocol as intended.

Dallas's offense thus far has featured a heavy dose of Dez Bryant in the absence of Ezekiel Elliott, with four targets thus far in half of a quarter. The Cowboys couldn't score on their first drive, but they take advantage of a tipped interception from Matt Ryan that set them up at Atlanta's 21-yard-line for a touchdown on their second. The running game hasn't been effective early for Dallas (six carries for 8 yards from Alfred Morris), though Dak Prescott did score a rushing touchdown on a scramble. When Prescott has broken the pocket, Atlanta hasn't had a great answer in the early going. Part of the running issues likely stem from Tyron Smith missing the game, so you can't pin the entirety of their struggles on Elliott's absence. This is something to monitor moving forward, as it could hurt Dallas if the Cowboys need to ice the game away with a lead in the fourth quarter.

Charles McDonald: The Falcons are doing what the Falcons have done all season. Untimely turnovers that set the defense up in poor field position. They were able to get a solid second drive going, but it stalled with the runs up the middle by Tevin Coleman and Terron Ward.

Aaron Schatz: I don't think Chaz Green bears responsibility for the Cowboys having problems running the ball early on, but his pass-blocking is a bit more iffy.

At halftime, both of these defensive lines are really beating the offensive lines and without even sending a lot of extra blitzers. Chaz Green, like I said, is not the running game problem, but Adrian Clayborn is beating him a lot with spin moves in the passing game. But it's not just Green. Zack Martin got his balance all messed up to give up a sack to Dontari Poe, and Brooks Reed has pushed La'el Collins around a lot. Then on the other side, I don't think people realize how good the Cowboys pass rush has been this year -- especially since David Irving returned from a four-game suspension. At one point Demarcus Lawrence just whipped Ryan Schraeder easily for a sack, and Schraeder is generally considered one of the top right tackles in the game.

Desmond Trufant is having a particularly strong game for Atlanta. Dak Prescott's only pass deep right was picked by Trufant, though that was nullified by offside on Vic Beasley. The Falcons have been very weak this year against No. 2 receivers, but Terrance Williams has just one catch for 9 yards. However, I said on the Off The Charts podcast that I thought the Cowboys needed to go deep more often to Brice Butler on the outside in this game. He's got one target but picked up 30 yards on it. Then need to try him more against Robert Alford or Brian Poole.

Bryan Knowles: The Cowboys have just 8 rushing yards on seven carries in the first half. Not having Zeke Elliott hurts, sure, but Tyron Smith being out probably hurts more, in the end.

Aaron Schatz: It really isn't Tyron Smith. Chaz Green was not particularly poor on the run plays. It was the overall line getting overwhelmed.

Scott Kacsmar: I hope the TV analysts don't take the easy way out with "they need Zeke!" on this one. Clayborn has a whopping five sacks today. Sean Lee and Tyron Smith are bigger losses than Elliott right now. Hell, Dan Bailey might be bigger too since Dallas' only possession of the third quarter was a missed field goal. Dallas went from a 10-7 deficit at halftime to 24-7 in the fourth quarter with only a missed field goal in between for the offense. Falcons are a great 7-for-10 on third down today. I'd say this one is absolutely over, but these are the Falcons, so we'll wait for one more stop if they can't push the lead to 31-7.

New England Patriots 41 at Denver Broncos 16

Aaron Schatz: The Patriots will just kill the Broncos all night long by using tight ends and running backs split wide against Denver's safeties and linebackers. Solve the problem of three good cornerbacks by playing only two wide receivers. This is easier to do when you have only three wide receivers healthy in the first place.

The Broncos will keep the game close because Emmanuel Sanders is awesome and even Brock Osweiler can find open guys.

Oh, and also special teams. Denver is 28th in special teams DVOA going into this game. Lost in the response to the Dion Lewis kickoff return touchdown is that no kickoff in Denver should ever end short of a touchback unless it is deliberately a squib, pooch kick, or onside try.

Just because I got a lot of pushback on Twitter about this: by pooch kick, I meant any attempt to kick the ball higher and shorter in order to let the coverage team get down field and force a short return. Brandon McManus put the ball 3 yards into the end zone. That's not the same as the way Stephen Gostkowski kicks off for the Patriots. In altitude, you should be able to put the ball out the back of the end zone every single time from the 35 unless you are deliberately trying to not put it into the end zone in the first place.

Scott Kacsmar: Week after week, Denver's defense is put in terrible field position because of its offense or special teams. Tonight it has been the special teams. But coming into Week 10, Denver's average starting field position on defense was the 34.6, worst in the NFL, and more than 6 yards worse than average. I'd like to look at how bad that is relative to league average compared to the other teams ranked dead last in our database. It just seems like at least half of the points allowed by Denver are on short fields or returns. It's really a depressing way to waste a great unit. Sure, we can admit it's not as strong as 2015 or 2016, but this defense has an extremely tough job to keep this team afloat during this awful stretch of play.

Tom Gower: The Broncos gave up 27 points in the first half, and Brock Osweiler didn't even turn the ball over! The Broncos offense actually scored on three of four first-half (non-kneeldown) possessions! I'm not even quite sure how to feel about being down 18 points after that. Maybe absolute despair, because I think that's what they should have felt coming in, but oddly optimistic in a "win the second half" sort of way wouldn't fit those (at least semi-stylized) facts as well.

Aaron Schatz: Also, the Patriots defense is bad.

One of the big reasons the Denver pass defense has declined this season -- where is the pass rush? Broncos were 16th in pressure rate this year according to SIS charting, and there's been almost no pressure on Tom Brady tonight. Where are Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray?

Dave Bernreuther: Well the Broncos did let the most important part of their D walk to LA in the offseason...


129 comments, Last at 15 Nov 2017, 4:17am

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by andrew // Nov 13, 2017 - 11:41am

Diggs only had one TD. He didn't score on that first long pass and Murray ran it in. The Keenum td passes were caught by Thielen, Diggs, Wright and Morgan.

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2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by jtr // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:01pm

Video link to the Burfict incident below. Referee uses an arm-bar to pull Burfict out of a scuffle with a Titans lineman, and Burfict shoves through the arm. The Bengals have now had their two biggest stars ejected from the first half of consecutive games. The Steelers even celebrated a touchdown yesterday by imitating AJ Green's chokeslam from last week. Good thing for Marvin Lewis that he is apparently unfirable.

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6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:08pm

Have to say that both those calls against Burfict look ticky-tacky to me. The referee seemed very quick to throw that flag.

Certainly players should never be making contact with officials - that's a no-cross line in any sport but in this one the referee put himself into contact and then what Burfict did was removed his arm slightly forcefully.

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7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by big10freak // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:15pm

Pretty clear this player has a lower tolerance level by officials because of his reputation

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13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by jtr // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:25pm

I agree to some extent; that late hit wouldn't have been a flag with any of the other linebackers in the league. But shoving an official, even without that much force behind it, is going to get you thrown out of the game 100% of the time.

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4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by nat // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:03pm

Week after week, Denver's defense is put in terrible field position because of its offense or special teams. Tonight it has been the special teams....It's really a depressing way to waste a great unit.

While that may be true in general, in this game the defense did almost nothing to deserve good field position. Other than the stop on the first drive of the game, its main "contribution" to Denver's field position on either side of the ball was to allow the Patriots to score.

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3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:02pm

Just watched the Pats game and it's tough to decide who the best team in the AFC is given the comments by others about how lacklustre the Steelers are. Putting 41pts on Denver isn't to be sneezed at but the Pats look equally lacklustre - especially on defense.

Early season had the Chiefs looking like the team to beat but three losses has put them back into the pack.

Hard to believe in the Titans and Jaguars given their quick rise the basement.

HFA and/or a bye will probably the deciding factor in who represents the AFC this year.

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111 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by RobotBoy // Nov 13, 2017 - 10:58pm

It's hard for me to believe that the Steelers can beat the Patriots in the playoffs, even with HFA. The last couple of matchups they looked completely outsmarted and did things like not cover Gronk. Tomlin has lost four in a row to Belichick, including some real thrashings.
On the other hand, Reid has seemingly figured out ways to keep BB off-balance, including the two recent regular season blowouts at Arrowhead. The 2016 playoff game was close and came down to some fumble luck. Getting home field might make all the difference there.

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113 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by ClavisRa // Nov 14, 2017 - 3:27am

Those thrashings are early in the season though. As Belichick has noted in multiple pressers, the latest CBA has forced early season to be an extension of preseason in terms of developing your roster. Reid always has KC as one of the most complete early season teams, but by time post season comes around NE outclasses them. KC would need spectacular injury luck to be dangerous post season, whereas NE invests heavily in developing its full 53 like no other team and the pay off for that was in full display in Denver.

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129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by RobotBoy // Nov 15, 2017 - 4:17am

Well put and I mostly agree, just was trying to keep my Patriots homerism in check. To be fair though, KC did push the Patriots in the last playoff game. With the recent Steelers gave though, I've that the the Patriots were much further ahead than whatever the score was.

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5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by jtr // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:06pm

>[Diggs] gets a 15-yard penalty thanks to celebrating with the goalpost

I was hoping we were past these goofy penalties now. I find it totally ridiculous that it's OK to run a 20 second charade skit with the whole team but it's a penalty the second you touch the goalpost. The guy just scored a touchdown, let him have a few seconds of fun afterward.

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8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:16pm

What was the goalpost celebration?

They outlawed dunking because it was occasionally skewing the crossbars and then they had to delay games while a maintenance crew came out with a spirit level and a set of spanners.

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11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Will Allen // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:21pm

He hugged it like a 4 year old hugging grandma on Christmas morning.

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15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:29pm

Thanks Will. Then I don't get why that's a penalty either.

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17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by peterplaysbass // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:46pm

He hugged it like Antoine Winfield hugging the goalpost after returning a blocked FG for a TD against the Saints on Monday Night Football in 2008.

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18 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Will Allen // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:52pm

You have a better memory than I. Mine tends to focus on negative events for the Vikings.

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20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by MilkmanDanimal // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:54pm

To be fair, if you start with the negative events for the Vikings, that's a lot of stuff. Might not be any room left in your brain for the good stuff.

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22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Will Allen // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:56pm

Tell me about it....

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41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:49pm

I'm a Lions fan.

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9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by big10freak // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:17pm

Given Mike McCarthy's history of time management issues I don't think it's appropriate to crack on a player starting his third game of his career (who is being coached by MM and likely following guidance given in however many meetings/practices)

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31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by justanothersteve // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:20pm

C'mon man. McCarthy is an honor grad from the Andy Reid School of Clock Management.

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34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by big10freak // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:37pm

Yup. Which is why the post about Hundley being aggressively stupid is to me completely uncalled for if the person posting has a basic awareness of NFL coaches and their histories. A player, especially the qb, is a reflection of the coach as he wouldn't likely be starting if he didn't follow his coach's guidance

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10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Will Allen // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:19pm

Elway looks to have made a poor hiring decision this time around, after doing pretty well with Fox and Kubiak/Phillips. I thought last year that he might bring in Shanahan the Younger, and retain Phillips. I'm pretty sure Broncos fans would have been happier with that.

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86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Dave Bernreuther // Nov 13, 2017 - 5:03pm

It's not really article-worthy, nor am I a writer, but I have always wanted to write a critique of the prevailing Elway narrative, because I think it's pretty easy to make a very convincing case that almost every decision he has made has been poor, but that he just got lucky and/or rewarded for it anyway. (Primarily because they backed into Wade Phillips as a 2nd choice.)

Given that he won the Super Bowl I wouldn't expect all that many people to agree, of course...

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87 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by billprudden // Nov 13, 2017 - 5:08pm

I'd love to read it. "Inchon in Colorado"

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91 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Will Allen // Nov 13, 2017 - 5:19pm

Until some body has been coaching or general managing a long time, about 10 years at a minimum, I think it is very hard to assess how good somebody is, and how much the results are just randomness. Which means most guys never generate a large enough sample for us to make a good guess as to how good or how bad their luck has been. Not understanding how valuable it would be to retain Phillips is a significant demerit for Elway. On the other hand, hiring one of the few coaches who could figure out a way to make the playoffs with Tebow at qb may mean something.

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93 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Dave Bernreuther // Nov 13, 2017 - 5:25pm

You were never shy about assessing Ryan Grigson's good-ness. ;)

But yeah, you're preaching to the choir about the randomness. For every GM who has taken criticism about his failures in a certain draft or position group, there's another who would've made the same decision, but didn't because he was in a different slot in the draft, where he instead did something else. And in 3-4 years it's too easy for that all to be enough to change history and get a guy fired.

But part of my criticism of Elway is that he didn't even actually want to hire Son of Bum in the first place. He wanted Joseph back then too. Despite the mountains of evidence already that Phillips, especially in year one, would make a massive difference.

Kubiak then acted like a giant hand brake, actively and deliberately making the offense worse, while Wade's crew carried them to a title... and then at the first chance they got, they still let him walk to hire Joseph. And for this we're supposed to heap praise on Elway and Kubiak...

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95 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by theslothook // Nov 13, 2017 - 5:36pm

See my response below.

One comment about Kubiak - I think Kubiak could have been a good coach. Manning was falling apart and Elway needed someone who could pivot the offense away from a heavy pass style. I think it might have even worked, but the offensive line was injured from the start and could never effectively run the ball. That left them as a team that was built to pass but didn't have the quarterback to do it.

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119 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by jtr // Nov 14, 2017 - 10:28am

I think the big issue with the Kubiak hire is that he was such an obvious bad fit for Manning. Kubiak's passing game is all about bootlegs from run-heavy sets, whereas Manning was a particularly unathletic QB at that point in his life who had made a HOF career out of a shotgun-spread offense. There was no reason at all to expect that the two styles could work together, and it ended up being good for the 25th and 28th DVOA offenses in 2015 and 2016.

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125 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by BJR // Nov 14, 2017 - 2:54pm

Manning did not play in the 2016 season.

In hindsight you might say they were a poor match, but honestly, Manning was toast in 2015, and the blocking was not good enough to do anything creative to disguise it. I fail to believe any coach/co-ordinator could have made that situation productive.

Kubiak is a good offensive coach who got a career year out of Joe Flacco, coaxed some good seasons out of Matt Schaub, and managed to make Brock Osweiler look passable for a few weeks. I'm certain he would have worked well with Peyton had he not been entirely washed up.

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126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by theslothook // Nov 14, 2017 - 5:48pm

Im not convinced Kubiak and a healthy non washed up Manning would have worked. Their styles seem to be completely opposite in every conceivable way.

I still think it was the right move. Elway had to know the days of Manning leading a pass heavy team were either over or close to it. Kubiak was meant to herald a slow transition away from that style.

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127 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Dave Bernreuther // Nov 14, 2017 - 10:58pm

I'm replying to this but all above:

Manning health aside (I'm of the opinion that he was washed up for most of 2014 too, and was a perfectly serviceable QB, but just not quite himself anymore, and that 2015 Manning with his own offense and Wade's D blows the doors off of Carolina and probably everyone else along the way too, even with Peyton at a reduced level), there's no positive way to spin the stubbornness required to deliberately attempt to fit square pegs into round holes. It's the same as any other coach trying to force guys into his system instead of adapting his system to the personnel. It's a hallmark of dumb coaching, and it's the opposite of Wade Phillips, which is why he was able to go in to Houston and make the most out of Watt despite previously not really using 5-tech guys that way, then moving on to Denver and using the OLBs, etc.

The only slow transition of any kind you get with Kubiak is into a predictable and boring offense with a ceiling of mediocrity. It's fine for coaxing competence out of bad QBs (see: the decent years of Schaub, although even then Kubiak cost them victories with stupidity and stubbornness), but not even remotely useful for a QB like Manning. Or even what they hoped, at that point, Brock would be.

Elway liked the offense because he knew the offense and had success with it... but the difference was that he was an otherworldly talent, incredibly mobile, and ran that for years. (Also: Shanahan > Kubiak.)

Basically, if you take a slightly declining QB, make his offense different in every conceivable way, from protections to route combos
to terminology to personnel to coaching, and then ask him to process things as quickly as he always has, you're a fool. All it takes is that one nanosecond of extra thought because your instincts are out the window for an NFL play to have no shot.

Manning was still going to throw 15 picks in 2015 on account of his body and age, but he'd still have been a lower top 10 guy, I think (albeit still just as much an injury risk), had they not gone and asked him to completely re-wire his brain too.

As for the other comment about judging Joseph the HC or DC - Neither. It's too early to judge him. But I know that when they hired Kubiak, Wade was not the first choice for DC, Joseph was.

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97 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 13, 2017 - 5:47pm

Are we critical of Joseph as a DC, or as a HC?

Because there's a world of difference between Phillips as DC and Phillips as HC.

I give Elway a pass because he got Denver to two Super Bowls using two completely different types of teams.

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98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Will Allen // Nov 13, 2017 - 6:10pm

Well, there's randomness, and then there's looking at Trent Richardson on an NFL field his rookie year, and saying "Well, there's a good player....."

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94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by theslothook // Nov 13, 2017 - 5:34pm

I disagree, I think Jon has done a wonderful job.

When he took over, the Broncos were in an absolute nadir. His drafts basically replenished the talent base pretty much overnight. I credit him a lot for hiring John Fox to bring some professional coaching to a moribund team at the time. I also credit him a bunch for realizing that Fox was unlikely to be the coach who could put the team over the top. It takes a lot of guts to fire a coach who has been to the playoffs 4 straight times.'

I also applaud Elway's moxy when it came to free agency. Unlike say Ted Thompson. Elway recognized that he could leverage Manning's reputation to sign some big time free agents. In particular, signing Talib, Sanders, Ware, Stewart, Vasquez, Ward, and Welker worked out big time. By the time Manning's arm fell apart, the team was able to successfully transition onto a defense heavy unit.

It seems to me - Elways biggest mistakes were hiring Vance Joseph, letting Wade go, and the qb fiasco. In terms of the latter - Elway tried to do the best he could to insure himself post Manning. Osweiler was a 2nd round pick that was meant to develop into a competent starter. Lynch was the kind of first round qb that was meant to grow into the team's qb of the future. Neither happened but its hard to blame Elway for that. He swung and missed.

The other two are legitimate mistakes. But otherwise, his moves have all been pretty terrific I think.

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128 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Dave Bernreuther // Nov 14, 2017 - 11:08pm

The balls - which relates to firing Fox and also the FA stuff, although I'd argue that sans-Manning suddenly his sales pitch wouldn't have been quite as strong or ballsy-seeming - are certainly his strong suit.

But they hurt him too. He wanted a shark negotiator, so he fired a very well-qualified cap/contracts guy in Mike Bluem in order to bring in a former agent... who promptly got run over by Tom Condon to the tune of the largest contract in history, which was given to a guy that had just missed a year with injury, whose arm and nervous system was not at full strength, and without any real team-protecting outs. People forget what a gamble that still was. Later, that same shark negotiator got bullied and run over in the Von Miller deal by a green agent with 2 clients.

Let's also not forget the Dumervil debacle, which only worked out well for them because they ended up being the only team with the cap space to sign Demarcus Ware. Absent Ware, that's a very different team.

Talib worked out pretty well. I expected him to quit and be more of a DeAngelo Hall overrated all or nothing type but he lived up to his contract for the most part, and wasn't always a total piece of shit.

Von Miller was a pretty awesome pick, but also kind of a no-brainer that year (and did he even have personnel control that year? I don't know that answer, so I'll refrain from blaming him for Rahim Moore, who pretty much single handedly blew the 2013 season and is the reason the Ravens are so screwed... although I'll call that one a win).

I think mostly I just view the Kubiak-Joseph thing with such disdain. Terrible process, but luckily (for Peyton) a solid outcome.

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12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by jtr // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:23pm

This isn't even the first time that Kizer has been shoved back into a game after coming out with an injury. Hue Jackson has no plan for him; sometimes he's a valuable building block to be protected, sometimes he's a rookie who needs to take his lumps, sometimes he's holding the team back and needs to be replaced for performance reasons, sometimes he's their only hope for a comeback. No part of his quarterback management this season has made any sense.

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14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Pottsville Maroons Curse // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:29pm

"Louis Murphy Jr. (god, I'm old)"

Scott Hanson made this same mistake on RedZone (which may be where you got it from). This is the same Louis Murphy you're familiar with - the one who played for Tebow-era Florida and then the Raiders and Bucs. He just started adding "Jr." to his nameplate recently, but he's the only Louis Murphy who has ever played in the league.

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16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Will Allen // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:36pm

The Vikings won fairly easily (really, really, easily, absent The Keeser huffing a quart of paint thinner during the 2nd half), pretty much due to the dominance of their offensive line. You have to go back to 2008 to even consider writing those words.

Before The Keeser went on a bender, I was thinking he had a little Chad Pennington in him. Then, within two plays, he looked like a weak-armed Gus Ferrotte. Now, I just hope Bridgewater doesn't explode getting off the sofa.

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23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:59pm

I have to give you props Will. You said way back after week 3 that the Vikings could easily win 12 or 13 games even if Bradford/Bridgewater didn't take a single snap the rest of the way...simply on the strength of their skill position talent and improved offensive line. I was somewhat skeptical at the time, but the results speak for themselves.

If the Lions play the way they did yesterday come Thanksgiving, the Vikings will steamroll them and the division race will be all but over.

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28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Will Allen // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:15pm

There is considerable value in blocking people, after all. If Dalvin Cook and Bradford had not been hurt, I think the Vikings would have a top 5 offense, and would be legit Super Bowl contenders. What's interesting is that Remmers got concussed in London, and his replacement has played better.

As it is, the defense missed Everson Griffin yesterday, and as cloak and daggerish Zimmer is with injury data, you certainly cannot be sure that the foot injury is as minor as Zimmer implies. They have about reached their limit, injury-wise, and the Lions will likely be favored in all their remaining games, while the Vikings host the zta

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29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by peterplaysbass // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:15pm

Hill? Having a quality tackle tandem is a rare treat for Vikings fans.

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30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Will Allen // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:20pm

Got cut off....

They have about reached their limit, injury-wise, and the Lions will likely be favored in all their remaining games, while the Vikings host the Rams, and travel to Lions, Panthers and Falcons. The Lions winning the division still would not be a big upset.

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42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:51pm

Next Sunday will huge as far as table-setting. The Vikings will need Griffen against the Rams offense. As for the Lions, at Chicago is the kind of game I've gotten used to the Lions blowing, even in good seasons (and the Bears seem to play everyone tough.

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55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Will Allen // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:07pm

If the Vikings defense (yep, they'll need Griffen) can keep the score low, the Vikings can win. If the Vikings offense is put into a situation where The Keeser has to throw them to multiple tds, then they will lose decisively.

Really hate playing a very physical Rams team, and then traveling to Detroit to play the Lions 4 mornings later.

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44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:51pm

Well, it would. Usually the Packers somehow manage to sneak past at the line.

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49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Will Allen // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:59pm

My pure guess is that Rodgers doesn't go again this year, but who knows? The Bears lose possession at the goal line, when they thought their challenge might get them a td in a close game. Very weird stuff happens.

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52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:03pm

A lot will depend on whether or not Hundley gets the same phantom roughing calls Rodgers got.

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99 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by big10freak // Nov 13, 2017 - 6:31pm

Care to share some videos of such? Because Packer fans have seen Rodgers take a lot of punishment with no flags.

My guess is that this will the item shared which yes, was silly. But for one of these there are a number of hits where no flag was thrown

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19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by MilkmanDanimal // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:54pm

The incredibly weird thing about the Adrian Clayborn sacksplosion is my take on watching him for a few years in Tampa is he was almost always half a step too slow; he'd get off the ball well and get into the backfield, but was never quite quick enough to get to the QB. He'd be occasionally disruptive and pick up random sacks, but he always felt like somebody who just wasn't blessed with quite enough speed to get sacks on any consistent basis. Then he somehow gets half a dozen against a mobile QB who should be able to evade him. Weird.

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21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Nov 13, 2017 - 12:56pm

Clayborn apparently admitted to the media that he only has one pass-rushing move, and it happened to keep working over and over again in this game.

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24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Will Allen // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:00pm

Losing Tyron Smith is a much, much, much, bigger deal than losing Ezekiel, for the Cowboys.

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26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by MilkmanDanimal // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:10pm

LT is a critical position but not "QB critical", for lack of a better term, but Tyron Smith to his replacement is potentially looking like an Aaron Rodgers to Hundley kind of drop-off in terms of talent comparison. Suffice to say, it seems like the Cowboys offensive line depth is . . . aggressively questionable?

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27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:11pm

Agreed. Having been able to compare the Lions offense with and without the human traffic cone known as Greg Robinson, I've been able to see firsthand how a bad left tackle can completely sabotage an NFL offense. Once Smith comes back, I think the Cowboys will be fine.

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25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:06pm

Jags-Chargers has to be the early favorite for most humorous game of the year. Quality be damned, I had a ball watching the late 4th quarter and overtime of that game. I literally laughed out loud several times (more times than I laughed when watching any of the new episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm).

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45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by theslothook // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:55pm

When the Chargers took over after a pick with under 2 minutes, I got up to use the bathroom, but thought to myself: this is the Chargers. They will probably screw this up somehow. And sure enough they did, not even waiting to third or fourth down this time. It's telling that Bortles did everything he could to throw the game but was out Chargered.

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58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by serutan // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:20pm

As if any more proof was needed, it was also a convincing demonstration that Bortles must go at the end of the year.
Was wr

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32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:30pm

" The Steelers' consistent playing down to bad opponents on the road has no equivalent among the other 31 franchises."

I think this is over-stated.

Pittsburgh is still good against <.500 teams on the road.

The difference is just less stark than it is for most other teams.

Oddly, this might be a side-effect of Pittsburgh being really good on the road against good teams. Dallas and San Diego have the closest good-bad splits. Philly and New England are next.

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73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Steve B // Nov 13, 2017 - 3:17pm

The '7-14 since 2012 vs sub .500 teams' was such a cherry picked stat. For one thing, the Steelers finished 8-8 in both 2012 and 2013. With that in mind, how many times could it be said that they were truly "playing down"?

As far as just this season, one thing not being talked about much is that yesterday was the Steelers' sixth road game out of the first nine overall. That's pretty tough even if you're going against the Cleveland, Chicago and Indy's of the NFL world.

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100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by runaway robot // Nov 13, 2017 - 6:44pm

Another is that they are 5-1 in those games.

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101 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Rocco // Nov 13, 2017 - 6:48pm

12th best winning percentage in those spots isn't that great given that they've had a franchise QB and never been worse than .500 during that time. The only other team who can say that has a winning percentage over .800 during that stretch. They've dropped a bunch of dumb games over that stretch that's cost them playoff spots (2009, 2012) or byes (2014, 2016) and the same thing keeps happening every year.

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33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by PatsFan // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:37pm

Minor odd play in NE game. Dion Lewis forgets to take a knee on kickoff reception, tosses ball to ref. Then comes over and ref hands it to him and he does take a knee:

FootballZebra claims that was still giving himself up: "Should Coleman have just let the ball bounce off of him and consider it a live ball? That’s a bit of an overreach, as it was clear that Lewis has 'given himself up' — kickoffs are different than scrimmage plays when it comes to determining a player surrendering"

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38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by theslothook // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:45pm

The days of Rivers being anything beyond slightly above average are over and it was pretty sad. Brees may be the poster child for victims of his own defense, but the Chargers bingo comment shows Rivers' career has been one of perpetual victim hood.

In any case, I think Rivers has lost a pretty significant amount of arm strength and his willingness/ability take a hit has also decreased.

I think on a better team he could still be effective, but I don't think he will still be in the league two years from now.

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40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:47pm

Yea, his overtime interception was really ugly...a total mechanical mess from start to finish.

Peak Rivers was one of the most fun quarterbacks to watch.

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36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by theslothook // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:44pm


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35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by DRohan // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:43pm

"Fumbling the ball out of the end zone should still cost you something."

If the other team doesn't recover it, why should it cost you? If you fumble out of bounds at midfield, possession doesn't change and they simply eliminate any forward progress from the point of the fumble. There's no 20 yard penalty. I don't know why this needs to change at the end zone.

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50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:00pm

It's a holdover of a rugby rule, and has a similar precedent in soccer, which suggests the rule predates their separation.

That said, it's not consistent with football's modified fumble-out-of-bounds rule. The end zone fumble should probably be the same as the sideline fumble rule. Why it's not is anyone's guess.

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69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:58pm

Its consistent with football's rules about the ball going out of the endzone via any other means - punts, kicks, etc. If the offence loses possession of the ball and it leaves the field of play through the endzone, it is always a touchback or a safety.

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89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 13, 2017 - 5:13pm

That's not true.

Scrimmage and free kicks have always been different.

But a pass out of the end zone doesn't come with a change in possession (but wouldn't it be different if it did?).

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37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by JMM // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:44pm

Pittsburg's "playing down to opponents" pre-dates Tomlin, and any other current coach or player. I think it is a story-line developed by and perpetuated by fans and local writers. Think of it as "not clutch" or "knows how to win" for a team.

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43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by big10freak // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:51pm

I think you meant local whiners


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75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Steve B // Nov 13, 2017 - 3:26pm

Re: #37

For sure it was a problem at times under Cowher, including in the post season. Noll? Maybe the most impressive stat of many wrt those 70's teams is that the only lost once to a sub .500 team between 1972-79. I'm sure if we examined it closer we could find individual games where they didn't play that great and won because of the talent difference but, still, remarkable.

For the remainder of Noll's time as HC (1980-91) the Steelers were a .500 team overall and thus there were obviously many more instances of them being the weaker opponent.

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90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 13, 2017 - 5:17pm

Going back to 2000, Pittsburgh is smack in the middle in road games played as a >.500 team against a <.500 team.

Chicago is unstoppable in such games and Buffalo sucks.

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102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Raiderfan // Nov 13, 2017 - 6:57pm

That is a great search! Tells you all you need to know about Cleveland (haven't been over .500 playing an under .500 team in a decade).

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110 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 13, 2017 - 10:04pm

On the upside, Cleveland has lost 6 fewer times than New England as a good team playing a bad team.

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39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by mehllageman56 // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:46pm

How is the Giants/Niners game the most inconsequential game of the year? The loser may get Josh Rosen! It's more meaningful than most other games this year because it will effect the next 5-10 years.

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53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by bravehoptoad // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:03pm

The Giants sure did look like a team that's playing for draft picks.

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56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by MilkmanDanimal // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:09pm

Players don't really care about draft picks, though, as there's just so much turnover in the league that there's no real impetus for individual players to tank for draft position. The Giants looked like a team that utterly hates their coach and want to get him fired. I'm still amazed I haven't seen the news that McAdoodoo has been canned.

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59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by jtr // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:24pm

It's been noticeable for a while that the Giants players just aren't trying very hard. As mentioned in Audibles this week and as I noticed watching the game last week, defenders aren't bothering to pursue the ball unless they're directly in position to make the play. It should be pretty hard to demotivate an NFL player; they're all fiercely competitive people and they're playing for their next contracts even if the team is awful. So it's impressive that McAdoo has managed to have so many players giving so little effort. He's really working hard to test the Maras resolve to not fire any coach mid-season.

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80 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by coboney // Nov 13, 2017 - 4:18pm

Seen a lot about this on the Giants - and while the Defense played like that at times - I do have to credit Eli and the offense and McAdoo some for the end of game playcalling. Manytimes at the end of a game like that, players and playcalling kinda just go through the motions. But - instead the Giants were aggressively going on multiple 4th downs, pushing down the field some and doing an onside kick as well.

That said, that secondary didn't even want to try to tackle 49ers running there.

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105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by zenbitz // Nov 13, 2017 - 8:19pm

agreed. Eli looked like a pro, and Sheppard had a great game too. But the NYG defense was playing like it wanted to avoid getting dinged up.

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46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by big10freak // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:56pm

An interesting development, at least to me, is what will the Packers do about Justin McCray. McCray is a pickup off the street that is now playing right tackle for Green Bay. At various times during the season due to injury McCray I believe has also played both guard positions. McCray is a very good run blocker or he is just ridiculously strong or both because when he blocks on runs one more defenders gets moved back. Pass blocking he has poor feet and his hands are still in development. But he scraps. McCray every down puts it all on the field.

I think this is interesting because while he is likely better suited for guard Bulaga is out the rest of the season and clearly injury prone. If McCray can take the pass blocking up two notches you have the solution. If the team is ready to cut BB loose. And frankly I think it's time for both parties. BB's body is not holding up and the team now has to assume he will miss some amount of time in a season when he plays.

Either way, seeing a guy like McCray go from back of the roster to a starting role and making an impact is pretty fun.

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70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by justanothersteve // Nov 13, 2017 - 3:01pm

McCray will probably take the Don Barclay spot of versatile backup lineman on next year's squad. I'd be fine with that. I'm not thrilled with his playing RT, but today they have a couple players named Ulrick John and Adam Pankey listed on the depth chart that I've never heard of. I'm assuming one of them will be active next game day and starting.

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117 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by ChrisLong // Nov 14, 2017 - 9:35am

Yes, McCray is good in the run game and pretty poor at pass blocking. I think that as long as it's just one guy that's that bad, it's a workable situation. Usually. And with an offseason of coaching by one of the best OL coaches in the league? Could be up to average or even good technique.

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47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by big10freak // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:57pm

And shout out to Evans. Of all the guys of the line who I expected to miss time it would have been the 34 year old guard. But Evans has been the best all around player if one considers playing time. This game is so weird

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48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by TomC // Nov 13, 2017 - 1:59pm

Between the idiot challenge and laying a complete egg against your biggest rival (at home, favored by nearly a TD, with two weeks to prepare, with the opponent's QB having never won a game or thrown a TD pass and generally playing scared), the knives are out for John Fox this week.

Oh, and the embedded videos (from and and others are "grabbing" the screen so I can't scroll, eating an unbelievable amount of bandwidth and CPU, and generally making the site nearly impossible to access).

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51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:01pm

Yeah, this happens to me.

I also occasionally get a bug where once the site finishes loading, all I get is a verizon ad.

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54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by big10freak // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:04pm

Regarding the challenge isn't it a given that McCarthy would have challenge if Fox had not? And isn't a head coach relying in his staff upstairs to give guidance?

Just wondering if the blame is being allocated correctly

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61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Steve in WI // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:34pm

I don't think it was a given that McCarthy would have challenged it; looking at the replays I never saw anything that indicated to me that the ball came out before he was out of bounds. Plus if Fox had been worried about a potential challenge from Green Bay (and had been smart enough to realize the possibility of a turnover), he could have gotten the Bears to the line to run the next play quickly.

I agree that a head coach relies on others to give guidance on whether or not to challenge, but Fox admitted that he didn't realize that it was possible that it could be a turnover. (I didn't either, but I'm not an NFL head coach). Plus, what's damning to me is that as the play stood they were looking at 1st and goal from maybe the 2? Even if you take away the chance that the play would be overturned in a very negative way for the Bears, the risk/reward of the challenge doesn't look great to me here.

I hope stuff like this makes it very clear for Pace that Fox has got to go.

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66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Eddo // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:45pm

I agree it was a dumb challenge even if the ball hadn't come loose at all. Don't waste a challenge on a play that results in first and goal from inside the two yard line.

I disagree that he was out of bounds though; I though the ball was clearly out of his control before his toe hit white. I think it's fair to assume the opposing coach would challenge... if he wasn't Mike McCarthy, who manages challenges really poorly compared to other head coaches.

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67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by big10freak // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:49pm

FWIW I was with multiple other Packer and Bears fans who all thought he had lost control of the ball and the Bears fans were hoping he would be ruled in bounds prior to the fumble

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57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Pat // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:19pm

Aaron Schatz: Reminder of my proposal for the touchback rule: The offense that fumbled the ball out of the end zone should keep the ball BUT it should be a touchback. So they should get the ball with first-and-10 on the opponent 20. Fumbling the ball out of the end zone should still cost you something. This essentially costs you 20 yards.

That doesn't work - it also gains you a new set of downs. In other words, if you're going for the end zone on 4th down, and you're not going to make it, fumble the ball! Maybe it'll get out of the end zone, and get you a new set of downs.

Maybe if it was just "no new set of downs" that would work - reset the line-of-scrimmage to the 20, and fumbling team retains possession.

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60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Will Allen // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:29pm

Yeah, I think a simple 10 yard penalty, with loss of down, suffices.

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62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by big10freak // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:36pm

Isn't this in a way tied in a way to that if a guy with the ball in control breaks the plane the call is TD no matter what happens in the moments afterward? That the reward is immediate. So maybe the penalty is of the same magnitude.

I don't know if this makes sense and likely will get called stupid. But like others think the 'penalty' is outsized to the error made by the offending team.

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63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:43pm

Champ Bailey example in 2005 playoffs ... returns interception length of field to have a fumble forced that goes for touchback.

New sets of downs or straight to 2nd down?

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92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Jimmy Oz // Nov 13, 2017 - 5:21pm

Don Beebe v Leon Lett in the Super Bowl. Earl Thomas v Rams in 2014 & 2017.

Leave the rule alone.

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112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by RickD // Nov 13, 2017 - 11:41pm

If only it had happened that way. Officials ruled the fumble out at the 1.

See, if the rule were reasonable, we wouldn't have to pore over replays trying to see if a ball goes out of bounds at the 1 inch line or the -1 inch line.

It seems like nearly every week at least one ball carrier is lunging at a pylon with a ball outstretched. The current rule makes the pylon dive much too volatile.

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115 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 14, 2017 - 9:24am

The worst sin in football is fumbling.

Players shouldn't be extending the ball away from their body in one hand without risk. The pylon dive should be risky as hell.

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64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by theslothook // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:43pm

Heheh, I think offensive PI should be a 10 yard penalty and loss of downs. Or treat it like DPI, you get penalized for the yardage.

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65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Ben // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:44pm

But why the penalty at all? What behavior are you trying to restrict/avoid?

I don't see why it's different then any other fumble out of bounds. Perhaps with the holy-roller rule of it's only a touchdown if the fumbling player recovers it in the endzone, otherwise it goes back to the spot of the fumble.

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71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 13, 2017 - 3:02pm

"I don't see why it's different then any other fumble out of bounds."

Its exactly like every other time the ball goes out of bounds through the endzone (excepting the forward pass).

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74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 13, 2017 - 3:20pm

But equally fumbles are not consistent with the kickoff/punt rules when they go out through the sidelines.

A kickoff or punt out through the sidelines gives a change of possession whereas a fumble is retained by the fumbling team.

The rules all derive from the variations of soccer, rugby which is more obvious when you consider the NFL goalposts were on the goal-line until 1974.

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79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 13, 2017 - 4:11pm

No comment about kickoffs, but Punts are typically 4th down - the change of possession is because of failure to convert, not because it went out of bounds.

But yeah, the rules are screwy, but I'm not sure I like just giving the offence the ball at the 1 makes things better - it'll lead to a ton of sloppy ball handling around the goal line.

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83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by nat // Nov 13, 2017 - 4:31pm

Sorry. You're wrong about punts.

It's the punt itself that grants the receiving team priority for possession of the ball, even though the change of possession doesn't happen officially until the ball is secured or dead (often by going out of bounds).

Imagine this: 3rd-and-20. Despite having two more downs to convert, I decide to kick a 15 yard punt out of bounds. Do I get the ball there for a 4th-and-five? No, I do not.

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116 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 14, 2017 - 9:28am

But that's a circular argument - you're just arguing that punts aren't consistent.

Every time the ball goes out of the endzone without being a forward pass (which are exceptions to almost every rule), its either a safety or a touchback. The rule is entirely consistent - if the offense fumbles the ball through either endzone, they lose it, and it comes out to the 20. if they voluntarily give up possession through the endzone, it comes out to the 20.

Fumbling should be discouraged, especially near the endzones.

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120 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by nat // Nov 14, 2017 - 11:04am

No, it's not circular. Your point (that "Punts are typically 4th down - the change of possession is because of failure to convert, not because it went out of bound"s) was wrong. I gave a clear counterexample.

Appealing to consistency for this rule (or against it) is a fool's errand. Fumbles have a bunch of weird rules and special cases. So does the end zone. A fumble into or through the end zone cannot avoid being a special case, too. All of the supposed remedies for this rule are also special cases, sometimes introducing whole new concepts.

Me, I'm happy enough with the current rule. If a team doesn't like it, tell your players not to fumble near the pylon. I'm okay with an inch having a large impact. That happens a lot on fourth down, near the goal lines, or near the sidelines; and when it does, it's entertaining. I'm okay with the defense getting possession of a fumble through the end zone, as that balances the equally arbitrary advantage the offense has elsewhere. And like you, I am happy to discourage fumbles.

But that's all my opinion. Consistency has little to do with it.

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122 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 14, 2017 - 1:00pm

"But equally fumbles are not consistent with the kickoff/punt rules when they go out through the sidelines."

I was responding to above. They absolutely are consistent.

When they ball goes out of bounds in the endzone, it comes out to the 20, in every situation but an incomplete forward pass. In all cases (except an incomplete forward pass), the team that had the ball at the beginning of the play loses possession.

In all cases, the ball is spotted where it went out of bounds. If that position is in the endzone, it is then a touchback (or safety), and moved to the 20.

Giving the team that fumbled the ball possession where the fumble occurred would be inconsistent with the way we handle fumbles on the field of play, or in the endzone.

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124 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 14, 2017 - 1:43pm

Re: 122 ... you're responding to my comment ...

Situation A - things that go out of bounds through the endzone
- All three are given to the other team (i.e. the one that didn't fumble, punt or kickoff).

Situation B - things that go out of bounds along the sideline ...
- Punts and kickoffs are awarded to the other team.
- Fumbles are given back to the fumbling team.

Those are not consistent with each other.

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68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Xexyz // Nov 13, 2017 - 2:52pm

Why can't it simply be that if a carrier fumbles the ball forward through the endzone his team retains possession at the spot he fumbled the ball?

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123 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 14, 2017 - 1:01pm

Why would it be that way? Its inconsistent with the way we handle fumbles everywhere else, and inconsistent with the way we handle the ball going out of the endzone on other plays.

If a team fumbles on their own 1, and it goes out of the endzone, should we award them possesion on the 1, instead of a safety?

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82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Arkaein // Nov 13, 2017 - 4:30pm

Could just move the ball to the 20, offense keeps the ball, and down and distance set as if the previous play had ended at that spot.

So if ball was fumbled on 1st-and-goal, because 2nd-and-goal from 20. If fumbled after a long gain where the 20 is past the first down marker, becomes 1st-and-10. Fumble on 4th-and-goal still becomes a turnover.

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72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by big10freak // Nov 13, 2017 - 3:05pm

As much as I have to grit my teeth at times watching the Packers patch together a line even Kyle Murphy's Bengals game wasn't the disaster of what Cowboy fans had to watch yesterday. And it's enlightening to find out that coaches beyond Mike McCarthy have the mindset that this is how we run the offense and no we don't adjust no matter the repeated outcomes being negative.

Mike doesn't give tackles help. Guess Jason doesn't either. Or if he did I had moved on to something else and didn't realize the Cowboys finally gave in to reality

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76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by billprudden // Nov 13, 2017 - 3:35pm

Given the shortness of JJ's fuse of late, I was wondering if he was gonna fire the whole offensive coaching staff after yesterday's game. It wasn't just the "why would I even consider helping out my backup LT?" question, but the bigger "oh, by the way, that's the future of the franchise getting pounded during the tail end of an already lost game!" issue.

Would it have been a shock if DP had gotten hit hard enough to miss next week's game? Or taken a Carr-esque ankle injury? The game, maybe the season, and perhaps more over pure stubbornness....

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77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by big10freak // Nov 13, 2017 - 3:45pm

One suspects number 12 in GB was thinking the same questions. Mike gets a pass because of 12's injuries all have come on hits outside the pocket not him getting whomped due to lineman ineptitude.

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88 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by billprudden // Nov 13, 2017 - 5:12pm

In that case, I feel like QB can be part of the conspiracy, preferring to have all 5 running routes and counting on his decision-making and quick release to protect him, much like Brady last few years and Manning in Indy.

To do that to Dak, despite his great first 20-some games, is to me a different business.

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78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 13, 2017 - 3:52pm

Noticed in the Pats game they showed an instance where the backup right tackle was facing Von Miller. They chipped him with Devlin after Miller got close on the opening series or two.

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81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Will Allen // Nov 13, 2017 - 4:19pm

Quick Reads advance request to Vince. Please show us The Keeser's DYAR up until his 1st int, and then his DYAR from that int onward. I can't believe how many people I've heard today say that Zimmer should make an unambiguous commitment, as starting qb, to a guy who may have made the worst throw I've ever seen a starting NFL qb, with a 15 point 2nd half lead, make. No, muttonheads, he doesn't just win

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84 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by big10freak // Nov 13, 2017 - 4:36pm

CK is playing with a horseshoe laced with four clover around his neck. The number of wayward passes not intercepted to date makes the mind reel.

Rest of the team though, to quote Larry David, pretty, pretty, PRETTY GOOD

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96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 13, 2017 - 5:43pm

You might enjoy this link:

There's a couple of losses in here. Romo threw 2 Pick-6s up 15+ in the second half, one a howler, in a game Detroit won 34-30 after trailing 27-3.

Or Eli's arm punt up 21-0 against Tennessee. (This one was predicated on a nonsense roughing the QB call on a QB run, so I tend to downrate it)

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104 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Will Allen // Nov 13, 2017 - 7:59pm

You can tolerate the occasional pooch-screwing from a very physically talented qb who consistently is upper tier in productivity. That pretty much fits Romo, with the added caveat that he had that upper tier productivity for the most part with a lower tier roster. Now that we have 8 games to view with the Vikings o-line, it can be said the Vikings have an upper tier roster, outside of qb. The Keeser is having his best year ever, but God bless'im that boy is not a physically gifted thrower of the football, by NFL standards, which means his margin for mental pooch-screwing is razor thin. The razor got him yesterday, but the lead was sufficient

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85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by D2K // Nov 13, 2017 - 4:48pm

I fear as a Bills fan that after yesterday's 56 yard passing performance from Tyrod Taylor, that the Bills will send a king's ransom of valuable draft picks to move up to grab a QB at the top of the draft. Forgetting that the Bills have massive holes in the defensive front 7 including no high end pass rushers at DE or DT, no run stoppers at DT and nothing resembling a good LB'er. They also lack quality at least 4/5 positions on the offensive line.

With 5 picks in the first 3 rounds you can infuse youth all over the team. Instead I am worried that they will package all of if not most of those picks and draft the wrong QB. Especially considering that Rick Dennison ranges from horrendous to slightly horrendous as an offensive coordinator.

I weep.

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121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Mike B. In Va // Nov 14, 2017 - 11:42am

I don't know. I think with what they saw from Peterman it will back off that tendency. I hope. That doesn't seem to be how this FO thinks.

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103 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by MilkmanDanimal // Nov 13, 2017 - 7:50pm

Audibles has been up all day, and not even I cared enough about Bucs-Jets to mention it. The teams combined for a bit over six yards per pass attempt, and less than three yards per rush. It was as perfect a Josh McCown-Ryan Fitzpatrick experience as could be imagined.

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106 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by theslothook // Nov 13, 2017 - 8:20pm

Comical though it is, I could see them both starting against each other next year and beyond.

Josh McCown's league longevity is the stuff of legends at this point.

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118 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Sakic // Nov 14, 2017 - 10:18am

As one sports talk guy said regarding TB and NY this weekend...McCown vs was the Battle of the Bastards (GOT reference.) :-)

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107 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Will Allen // Nov 13, 2017 - 8:27pm

Oh, yes, there was one other thing I saw yesterday which I thought notable. When healthy and thus mobile, Linval Joseph is a very, very, bad man. There were a couple of running backs standing in his path as he came down the line yesterday, and I feared that he was going to compress them sufficiently to require hospitalization.

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108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by BJR // Nov 13, 2017 - 8:52pm

On the Deshone Kizer sneak right before the half, the refs comprehensively dropped the ball by not flagging one of the Lions linemen for effectively burning 5 seconds by deliberately lying on top of one of Cleveland's linemen and not allowing him to get up. (I don't know what type of penalty would have been incurred, but it was obviously an unsportsmanlike act.)

Yeah it was a dumb play by Cleveland, and it's fun to laugh at them, but there should have been time to line up and spike the ball if the Detroit player hadn't intentionally obstructed. Really bad job by the refs (assuming that is covered in the rulebook: if not, bad job by the rulebook).

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114 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Nov 14, 2017 - 6:30am

It should have been delay of game on the defense, which would be 5 yards and a clock stoppage, allowing Cleveland to at least kick a chip shot field goal. I can’t think of specific examples, but I have seen that call made several times in the past.

Maybe the refs were too astonished at what the Browns had just done to remember to call the penalty.

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109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

by Mountain Time ---- formerly Ninjalectual // Nov 13, 2017 - 9:32pm

This is the second week in a row where Audibles closely mirrors the content we came up with ourselves in the open game discussion :)

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