Audibles at the Line

Unfiltered in-game observations by Football Outsiders staff

Audibles at the Line: Week 5

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

Tennessee Titans 10 at Miami Dolphins 16

Tom Gower: Matt Cassel starting today for the Titans. In the words of Terry Tate, Office Linebacker, "When it's game time, it's pain time!"

Dave Bernreuther: There are no words for how excited I am to be in the Miami TV market for the epic quarterback clash of Jay Cutler and Matt Cassel.

Apparently Mike Freeman and some others are reporting that Colin Kaepernick reached out to the Titans and they said no. That's ... well, it's something. And so now we'll be watching a team that could easily win this game and its division running out Matt Cassel with Brandon Weeden behind him. Because they're both very well suited to run an offense designed for Marcus Mariota.

If Mariota makes Mike Mularkey's offense EXOTIC SMASHMOUTH, is the Cassel version just Smashmouth? (Did I just put the song All Star in all your heads? You're welcome.)

Bryan Knowles: I'm not sure Kaepernick would give the Titans a better chance to win had he been signed this week; we all saw the Josh Freeman experience in Indianapolis in 2015. I'd still rather have him on my bench than Weeden ... or Cassel, in general, but maybe not for today.

Dave Bernreuther: Well sure. Expectations for today would have been quite low.

Then again, they are now too. I guess if we're not going to be able to count on Mariota being healthy, in such an easy division it makes sense to have a backup who can actually be relied on to win a game. Of course, I know that that's a decision for July more than it is for October.

Meanwhile, Cassel throws short of the sticks on third down, and in this case I can't even get too upset at Mularkey deciding to punt on fourth-and-short past midfield like his old self. Especially in a game where, even with what I just said about Cassel, the Titans could very well beat these Dolphins in a low-scoring, field position type of game. (Which, again, I am absolutely thrilled to have on the big screen with sound!) Two hopeless drives so far for Cutler's offense.

Zach Binney: I'm WILLINGLY watching this game here in Atlanta. The Dolphins fan club at the bar I'm at just celebrated like it was 1972 for the team's first first down at two minutes left in the first quarter.

It came after Miami's first fumble recovery of the season, which came at DeMarco Murray's expense. It was one of the more beautiful punch-outs you'll ever see. So the Dolphins have that going for them?

A chaotic reversal of fortune for the Titans at the end of the first quarter! In the space of 30 game seconds they have a beautiful 59-yard touchdown pass called back for a ticky-tack offensive PI, then two plays later Kiko Alonso sacks Matt Cassel hard in the shoulder, causing a fumble that bounces right to safety Reshad Jones. Everybody thinks it's an incomplete pass, but the whistle isn't blown and Jones runs unpursued into the end zone for Miami's first first-half touchdown of the year. Alonso was about two inches away from getting a roughing flag on that sack, too.

Tom Gower: Dolphins up 10-3 at the half. Only touchdown of the game came after Matt Cassel lost the ball very slightly before throwing and most of the players apparently thought it was an incompletion rather than a fumble. Dolphins field goal came after they started at the Titans 42 after a turnover. Titans field goal came after they started at the Dolphins 24 after a turnover. Further commentary is superfluous to this shot from late in the first half.

Zach Binney: I can sum up the first half of this game in one stat: there have been more turnovers than either team's passing yards per attempt.

Vince Verhei: Dolphins' first drive of the second half: run for a loss, false start, run for no gain, completion for a loss, punt on fourth-and-18. The one guy in a Dolphins jersey in this bar has gone from angry shouting in the first half to hearty belly laughs at this point. It's just funny now.

Tom Gower: I hit the "amused rather than angry" point somewhere in the second quarter. But I also came into the game with Matt Cassel-based expectations.

Bryan Knowles: Jay Cutler's gotten a lot of flak this season, and rightfully so, but he just hooked up well with Jarvis Landry on a little receiver option. Landry found an open spot at the goal line, and Cutler hit him before the safety could respond. They miss the extra point, naturally, so it's just 16-10 Miami.

Dave Bernreuther: Listening to the announcers trying to be polite about the quarterback play in this game has been highly amusing. They can't even come up with cliche-based excuses for some of Cassel's throws and decisions.

Zach Binney: Miami's offense is still the avatar of futility, but they scratch out a win against Matt Cassel's Titans. Miami's offensive problems run deep -- fans were calling for Moooooooore, but the Dolphins' receivers couldn't handle catchable balls for three quarters either. In the 113F heat index they finally got the running game going late, but they didn't show me anything to make me feel better long-term about the offense than I did last week after getting shut out by the Saints.

The run defense looked darn good, though. Of course that's tempered by the Titans having Cassel rather than Mariota, but Miami was in the backfield all day, limiting Murray to just 58 yards and racking up 6 sacks of Cassel.

As for the Titans, they should get Mariota back next week though it might be longer until he's back up to full speed.

Tom Gower: Each team had one stretch of actual offensive production in the second half and got a touchdown out of it. Those two drives, the first by Tennessee and the second by Miami, were amidst 10 other drives, none of which gained more than 19 net yards or included more than two first downs. Hopefully Marcus Mariota will be back for Monday Night Football next week.

New York Jets 17 at Cleveland Browns 14

Vince Verhei: Updated Myles Garrett career stats: One NFL snap, one NFL sack. Lined up on the right side, stunted into the middle, sack on third down to force a three-and-out. This production rate may be unsustainable.

Bryan Knowles: 0-0 at the half. The Browns had three chances to score, and failed each time, thanks to fumbles, interceptions, and missed field goals. Thrilling matchup so far.

I misread the clock. It's actually 3-0 at the half, as the Jets kicked a field goal right at the gun. I apologize; clearly this has been a tremendous game of football.

Vince Verhei: Some details on the first half:

  • The Browns had third-and-goal inside the 4 twice, and turned it over on both plays (one fumbled snap, one interception).
  • Zane Gonzalez has missed field goals from 52 and 39 yards.
  • That last miss gave the Jets the ball at their 29 with 31 seconds to go. Josh McCown then flashed competence, as he does from time to time, picking up completions of 11, 10, 3, and 8 yards, setting Chandler Catanzaro up for a field goal try. And Catanzaro is good from 57, and the Jets actually lead 3-0 at the break.
  • Browns lead 175-67 in yardage, nearly 2-to-1 in time of possession, and 11-6 in first downs. They have intercepted McCown once and sacked him twice. But they trail on the scoreboard.

Derrik Klassen: Is Myles Garrett doing the Odell Beckham Jr. thing where he misses the first few games with a leg/lower body injury, then immediately reassures people that he is an elite talent worthy of his draft slot?

Vince Verhei: See also: Bosa, Joey (though that absence was not injury-related).

Bryan Knowles: DeShone Kizer has been benched; Kevin Hogan is in.

The Browns are still looking for their first lead of the 2017 season.

Let it be noted that, at 2:51 Eastern Daylight Time on the eighth of October in the Year of Our Lord 2017, the Cleveland Browns have a lead over a professional NFL team.

Vince Verhei: Kevin Hogan went 5-for-5 for 52 yards on that drive, including the touchdown to David Njoku. Hogan also had an 11-yard run. Yes, this looks like an upgrade.

Following his touchdown drive, Hogan's next pass was intercepted to set the Jets up inside the red zone, and McCown converted with a touchdown pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Browns are behind again. This is why we can't have nice things.

For the third time today, the Browns cross the Jets' 5-yard line and fail to score. With a fourth-and-2 at the 4, they bring in a bunch of tight ends, which brings in the Jets' jumbo package. But then Isaiah Crowell lines up alone in the backfield and runs straight up the gut. With all the extra blockers on the edge, there's nobody to clear space in the middle, and Crowell is stopped for a gain of 1. I don't get that play design at all.

Jets go up 17-7 on an 8-play, 97-yard drive. McCown hits Jermaine Kearse for a 24-yard touchdown. He went 6-of-6 for 85 yards on the drive. Jets have called 12 passes and four runs in the second half.

Carolina Panthers 27 at Detroit Lions 24

Bryan Knowles: The Lions march the ball down the field on their opening drive, thanks to some Carolina penalties and some blown coverage by Daryl Worley. The drive sputters out as Eric Ebron drops a perfectly thrown pass in the end zone, forcing the Lions to schedule a field goal. Ebron was booed for the drop, and booed again during the break when he was on the jumbotron for a promo. Detroit fans are a little fed up with his slow development.

Christian McCaffrey's first NFL touchdown was on a beautiful little play design in Detroit -- a faked option with Newton and Jonathan Stewart, and then just an inside shovel pass to McCaffrey for the score. Had Detroit on skates a bit there. 10-10 game.

Ed Dickson has 139 yards receiving today. He had 134 in all of last season. Detroit might want to consider covering him.

Aaron Schatz: Now 10-10 with about 10 minutes left in the second quarter. Lions have completely forgotten to cover tight end Ed Dickson, who's been wide open on two long YAC plays and now has three catches for 139 yards. Panthers scored the first touchdown of Christian McCaffrey's NFL career on a gorgeous shovel pass option that left the poor Detroit linebacker hopeless trying to decide between covering Cam Newton or McCaffrey. Before that, the Lions built a lead on Carolina's non-stop penalties. So far in this game, Panthers have seven penalties for 78 yards, Lions have zero penalties.

And as soon as I send that email, Lions get their first penalty of the game, holding penalty by center Travis Swanson to cancel out a nice 20-yard Zach Zenner screen gain. Swanson is one of the top two NFL centers named Travis.

Lions at least covered Ed Dickson on his fourth catch of the day, but Tahir Whitehead got beat crossing the field in man coverage. It's not Whitehead's best day. He's also not a good guy to be covering Christian McCaffrey. I also need to give Devin Funchess credit for looking a lot better this year. Newton hit him for a touchdown by waiting deep into the play and then throwing it high where Funchess could jump over Darius Slay. 17-10 Carolina at halftime.

Carolina defensive line took over in the second half of this game, with some help from defensive back blitzes. They've sacked Matthew Stafford five times in the second half, two by Captain Munnerlyn. On a fourth-and-1, Julius Peppers sliced through the line to take Zach Zenner down like 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage or something. Are we sure he's 37? We never talk about Julius Peppers as a Hall of Famer but damn, the dude is a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Lions just scored on a touchdown pass to Daniel Fells, but that was a march against a passive zone defense to make it 27-17. They would still need to do it twice more in just six minutes to win this thing.

Oh, I'm sorry, the Lions just marched down the field AGAIN and will make it 27-24 with 3:23 left. This is insane. It's like the Panthers suddenly forgot how to cover guys. Even the incomplete passes on that drive were primarily miscommunications between Stafford and the Lions receivers. They went 53 yards for a touchdown in under a minute.

Nope. Lions aren't going to do it this time. Seventeen points was in fact too much. The Panthers needed to convert one first down because the Lions had no timeouts left, and they got it when Kelvin Benjamin got open against Darius Slay on a slant and caught a third-and-8 conversion. Panthers go to 4-1. One of our better preseason projections so far.

Scott Kacsmar: Since this is a Lions game I don't think I have to cover for Clutch Encounters for a change, I wanted to get some words in on it here. Specifically, what a two-week stretch for Cam Newton. I don't want to excuse his poor play in the first three games of the season, nor do I want to gloss over the stupid thing he did this week in belittling women who cover sports. He has to own those mistakes and slow start to the season. But I must say, his ability to push all of the criticism and shortcomings aside to have the best two-game stretch of his career is pretty amazing. Sure, he took advantage of some blown coverages, but find another two-game stretch where Newton was shredding defenses for over 10 yards per attempt and with big volume (over 300 yards and three touchdowns in both games). He didn't even have a running game today as he handed off 21 times for 28 yards. Not to mention both games were on the road, and he didn't have Greg Olsen available for either. If you told me he'd do that after the way the first three games went, I never would have believed you. Throw in the off-field situation he solely created for himself, and it's been a stunning eight quarters on the field for Newton. Maybe this can be a turning point in Newton's career where he takes the next step as both a passer on the field and a professional off of it.

Los Angeles Chargers 27 at New York Giants 22

Dave Bernreuther: Anyone else think that Philip Rivers might have had time to scoop that ball and throw it away rather than batting it away to ensure the safety? Maybe it was just the one replay I saw but it looked like no one from the Giants was nearby.

Eli Manning just got stripped on a third-down play, but it's worth noting that it wasn't his line's fault. He had several seconds and a clean pocket, and Joey Bosa eventually got a hand on it, and even then, he was blocked (quite possibly held) and the contact seemed almost accidental. Manning fell on it and the Giants defense held post-punt, so the damage was limited, but that one was definitely not on his linemen.

Every time I look up, a Giant is holding his ankle. First Landon Collins, then Sterling Shepard, and now Brandon Marshall. Marshall's didn't look bad, but now they're bringing the cart out.

You can put Eli's poor swing pass to Orleans Darkwa (the play after Shepard's ankle injury) on the line; he had to backpedal and panic throw that one due to immediate pressure in his face. Might be able to blame that one on Weston Richburg not playing today...

Bryan Knowles: Gah. Odell Beckham goes down, clutching his left ankle. He's been carted off the field, sobbing -- this does not look like a short-term problem. Devastating. Same ankle he hurt in preseason, too.

On the short term, that leaves the Giants with just one healthy receiver, if I'm doing my math right. This is not a short-term concern for the Giants, though.

Arizona Cardinals 7 at Philadelphia Eagles 34

Vince Verhei: Eagles jump out to a 14-0 lead, with tight ends getting both touchdowns (one to Zach Ertz, one to Trey Burton). Punt returns for 19 and 76 yards by Kenjon Barner helped. So does a defense that looks unblockable and has limited the Cardinals to one first down (on a J.J. Nelson fly sweep) in their first two drives. And now the Eagles just forced another three-and-out. A dominant performance in all phases of the game so far.

Since I last checked in, Carson Wentz hit Torrey Smith for a 59-yard touchdown on a post route. Cover-0, Smith just beat his corner (Justin Bethel, I think) clean, and that was that.

Since then, though, Arizona seems to have waken up. They scored a touchdown on a 10-play, 75-yard drive, most of the yardage split between Jaron Brown and John Brown. It was John Brown with the 13-yard touchdown on third-and-9.

Should add that D.J. Humphries and Alex Boone are both out for Arizona. That's not helping things, obviously.

This game quieted down for a while, but then the Eagles burned a Cardinals blitz again. On a third-and-19, Nelson Agholor ran a post from the right slot and got isolated on rookie safety Budda Baker. He had him beat for a big gain, but Baker showed great recovery speed and was in position to make a tackle at about the ten. Agholor then juked, juked, and spun. Baker was on the ground and never touched Agholor, who did the Nestea plunge into the end zone. Eagles now up 31-7.

That's a career-high four touchdowns for Wentz on the day. Surprisingly, the three touchdowns he had in the first quarter were the first time he had ever thrown three touchdowns in a game.

Charles McDonald: Looking at the playoff standings after the early games is hilarious. Jets in the wild card over the Patriots, Bills No. 2 seed, Eagles and Panthers with first-round byes. This season has been madness so far.

San Francisco 49ers 23 at Indianapolis Colts 26 (OT)

Bryan Knowles: Brian Hoyer's hot-and-cold season continues. After lighting up Los Angeles and sputtering out of Arizona, he was 7-for-8 on San Francisco's opening drive. He should have been 8-for-8, but George Kittle let a touchdown pass go right through his hands. It wasn't the most perfect throw in the world, mind you, but an NFL player should make that catch.

The 49ers lead the league in both drops and penalties (with three already today!), and that's one of the biggest reasons they're 0-4. Not that they'd be 4-0 or anything without them, but considering they've lost three one-score games in their last three weeks, you'd think some cleaner play would have given them a win somewhere.

Derrik Klassen: This game is a rock fight. Neither defense is equipped to play well, but both offenses are inept. The 49ers offense is doing a better job of consistently getting yards on a play-by-play basis, credit to Kyle Shanahan, but Brian Hoyer keeps shooting the offense in the foot in big spots (third down, red zone, etc.). On the other hand, the Colts offense is inefficient. They have been trying to roll out and simplify the passing game, but not much is working outside of a few short passes to the flat.

Dave Bernreuther: And as you say that, Jacoby Brissett shows one of those flashes of being a real NFL quarterback, ducking pressure, slipping out to the right, and throwing a perfectly placed ball to T.Y. Hilton deep(ish) down the right sideline. That play had everything you'd ever ask of a quarterback.

Derrik Klassen: And of course, as I send that last email, the Colts rip off a string of chunk plays to get inside the red zone. Jacoby Brissett made two key throws to the right boundary to make it happen. Once they were in the red zone, the Colts chipped away at the remaining field with a few rushing plays and quick passing concepts, but stalled around the 5-yard line. A field goal was all they could muster on their best drive of the day. The Colts now lead 6-3 with about a minute left before halftime.

Bryan Knowles: It's interesting to note that NaVorro Bowman has been on the sideline with the backups. It's not that he's hurt; this is a coaches' decision to get more speed on the field. Bowman was coming off the field in preseason/Week 1 when Reuben Foster was healthy, but Foster's not back yet. This is just Bowman's lack of speed and explosiveness after the injuries he suffered last year -- and, to be honest, the fact that he's never fully recovered from the gruesome injury against Seattle in the NFC Championship Game so many years ago.

Dave Bernreuther: The Jets game means this one isn't the least exciting of the day, but so far it can be summed up by:

  • The 49ers decided to kick on second-and-3 with seven seconds left (defensible, but certainly not entertaining.)
  • Chuck Pagano iced Robbie Gould.
  • Gould missed the kick that didn't count.
  • Gould good on the second attempt, and it's a 6-6 thriller at the half.

At least something worth a cheer will happen at halftime, when they uncover Peyton Manning's name in the ring of honor in the end zone.

(Incidentally, it looks like that's directly above the suites in which I had my wedding reception.)

Bryan Knowles: 6-6 game at halftime, as the 49ers are involved in their second straight field goal battle. It took nearly 70 minutes before either team found the end zone in San Francisco's last game, and I wouldn't necessarily predict either team in this game to find it much sooner than that.

The Colts have come closest, getting the ball inside the 10-yard line, but San Francisco's defense stiffened up. That's pretty much the closest we've come to a real highlight in this one.

But hey, Peyton Manning's getting his jersey retired at halftime, so at least the fans have something to cheer about. I have a sneaking suspicion he might be the best quarterback option in the stadium today.

Was the hard count a skill of Jacoby Brissett's in New England? It's working like a charm today; the 49ers are jumping early and often. A lot easier to generate offense when you can get 5 yards almost at will.

If you see Brissett's numbers go up in the second half, it's because the 49ers are out of cornerbacks. Ahkello Witherspoon has a concussion, Asa Jackson pulled his hamstring, and Rashard Robinson is cramping and also not very good. Jimmie Ward has moved from safety back to nickel corner because the 49ers are just out of bodies at the position.

Indianapolis marches downfield and scores a touchdown. Marlon Mack looked really good, especially when bouncing the ball outside. Mack hasn't really made much of an impact on this season so far, but his speed gives the Colts' running a game a dimension that Frank Gore didn't have when he was in his prime, much less today.

Vince Verhei: Actually, Mack has made a huge impact this year, just not in a good way. He had 24 yards on 1 run, and 3 yards (not a typo) on his other 15 carries. He was next-to-last in DYAR through four weeks, on only 16 carries. That will change this week, obviously -- he's at 41 yards on six carries here in the fourth. Even there, though, it's one gain of 22 and five runs for 19.

Bryan Knowles: Mack just nearly rumbled one into the end zone there -- ran into his offensive lineman, but the 49ers had roughly no penetration, and he was able to bounce it outside. Ruled a touchdown on the field, but he was a yard short of the end zone before his lunge. Perhaps facing the 49ers is what the rookie needed to get on the right track -- at least, that's what Colts fans are hoping, I'm sure.

Jacoby Brissett runs a draw into the end zone, effectively ending the competitive portion of this one.

(30 minutes later…)

Vince Verhei: Meanwhile, 30 minutes after Bryan said this game was over, Brian Hoyer hits George Kittle with a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 5 to tie the game 23-23 with 20 seconds to go.

Bryan Knowles: I spoke too soon! After scoring zero touchdowns on Sundays to this point, the 49ers score two in the fourth quarter today to tie it up with 20 seconds left in the game. It was keyed by a great fourth-down call by Kyle Shanahan; the Colts were selling out for the run and the 49ers instead lofted the ball over the line. There are other fourth-down options other than smashing your running back into a line! It's amazing.

George Kittle makes up for his first-quarter touchdown drop to score the game-tying touchdown.

Dave Bernreuther: You speak too soon, Bryan, and my bar conversation criticism of Pagano comes to pass as, in the last minute, the 49ers move easily down the field again and knot it at 23, ruining not only a cover, but the 39.5 under as well.

(Is what Al Michaels would say...)

I am generally impressed by Brisset's eye level when moving but the few times I've seen him commit to the scramble, he has made awful decisions and ends up sliding right at or near the line of scrimmage. He needs to learn to avoid those chances unless there's a lot of green in front of him. Otherwise, throw it away or take a (well-reasoned) shot at a big play.

As I type -- and this is where I am so impressed at you guys' abilities to watch and comment simultaneously -- Brissett first misses his spot on a deep ball to Hilton that could have been a touchdown to the seam if thrown well, and then fires an interception at the goal line, which means that the Colts are in serious jeopardy of losing a game they led by two touchdowns over an 0-4 team.

Not going to lie. I'm almost hoping they do.

Bryan Knowles: After the interception in the end zone, the 49ers' offense isn't able to build a drive and are forced to punt the ball back to Indianapolis. They dawdle and take their time, but Marlon Mack, yet again, burns them for a huge gain. It's enough to get the Colts into field goal range, and Adam Vinatieri nailed the 51-yarder to end this one. Colts 26, 49ers 23, never in doubt. I told you the game was over! <_<

That's the 49ers' fourth-consecutive one-score loss. I mean, if you're going to have a lost season, that's probably the most encouraging way to do it, but it would be nice if they could get over the hump one of these weeks. I have a hunch that next week -- at Washington -- won't be that moment.

Scott Kacsmar: Just want to thank Adam Vinatieri for avoiding a likely tie there. It's definitely going to happen soon with the 10-minute overtime. The 49ers have taken things past the two-minute warning two weeks in a row. Tough 0-5 start, but Shanahan has them competing every week. Just aren't getting the big break to go their way yet for a win.

Bryan Knowles: Oh, one more thing -- the 49ers have now tied the NFL record for consecutive losses by three points or less, with four in a row. That ties the 1990-91 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 1994 Houston Oilers.

Jacksonville Jaguars 30 at Pittsburgh Steelers 9

Scott Kacsmar: CBS had a graphic on Ben Roethlisberger that showed he had the lowest yards per attempt (6.8) of his career this year. Of course, the announcers didn't acknowledge that and talked about a lack of 300-yard passing games. But the low YPA sums up the decrease in efficiency in this passing game and the lack of big plays that Roethlisberger hasn't been hitting in 2017. So of course the first play from scrimmage was a 49-yard bomb to Antonio Brown, who beat Jalen Ramsey. But that only led to a field goal.

The Steelers were driving again, but Roethlisberger threw under pressure and Ramsey took some revenge with an interception. Jacksonville used that to drive 47 yards for a touchdown with Leonard Fournette leaping over the pile into the end zone for a short rushing touchdown. The Jaguars lead 7-3 a few minutes into the second quarter.

There were some fluky turnovers in games involving the Jaguars and Steelers last week, but we have another one here before halftime. Blake Bortles seemed to have a completion to his backup tight end, but he landed on a defender's body and wasn't actually down. The ball was ripped out and caught by Ryan Shazier, so it goes down as an interception. Legit call this time. Brown then moves the Steelers into scoring range after bouncing off Ramsey for the second time today. Boswell good from 34 yards away, but Steelers still trail 7-6 at halftime.

Andrew Potter: The record will state that Blake Bortles had another interception in the two-minute drill here, but this time it was absolutely not on the quarterback. Bortles hit tight end James O'Shaughnessy in Pittsburgh territory, but the Steelers defense kept him off the ground and Ryan Shazier ripped the ball away from him for the pick.

Jalen Ramsey versus Antonio Brown is a phenomenal matchup. Brown beat Ramsey deep on Pittsburgh's first play of the game, but Ramsey has been lights-out since -- almost singlehandedly ruining the previous Steelers drive before the Bortles pick with two perfectly timed pass breakups, to go with his interception earlier.

Vince Verhei: Jaguars had six straight runs to finish their touchdown drive, then four straight runs to start the next one. This is their game plan: keep the ball out of our quarterback's hands.

Dave Bernreuther: The Steelers offense is really struggling. They may as well have kicked on first down when they reached first-and-goal inside the 5, as none of those pass plays (to a covered JuJu Smith-Schuster, a covered Le'Veon Bell, and a covered Brown) had any chance of succeeding. Tomlin makes the gutsy call of going for the 20-yard field goal to put them back in the lead of another ugly game. But if this continues, they're in some real trouble, even with Blake making his best attempts (like a hilariously inaccurate second-down pass for no reason) to Bortle things up.

Scott Kacsmar: Pittsburgh settled for yet another field goal, but it's really a matter of bad play calling in the red zone. Tried to throw two screens where broken tackles were necessary to make anything happen. Then the third-and-goal play just wasn't well designed at all. Brown had to beat A.J. Bouye on a double move in the end zone, but Bouye wasn't having any of it and the window was so minuscule. Meanwhile, the Steelers have been blitzing a lot of defensive backs at Bortles today. They haven't been getting there, but T.J. Watt did on a third down to end another drive with the Steelers up 9-7.

Vince Verhei: Man, Pittsburgh's offense has been disappointing this year. Just 17th in scoring coming into the week. They have avoided turnovers, so the offense is seventh in total, passing, and rushing DVOA. But I figured they'd be a 30-points-a-game squad for sure.

And as I type that, Roethlisberger doesn't see Telvin Smith dropping into coverage and throws an interception right to him. Smith returns the ball for a touchdown, but the Jaguars miss the extra point and lead 13-9.

Scott Kacsmar: Pick-six for Roethlisberger after the pass was tipped at the line. Just a bad deflection right to Telvin Smith. Jaguars missed the extra point, but kind of felt like a two-point conversion situation there in what's been a game heavy on field goals. I'd rather go up 15-9 instead of 14-9, but now it's 13-9.

Aaron Schatz: And then Big Ben threw a second pick-six. This one was way downfield to Antonio Brown, tipped by Jalen Ramsey, caught by Barry Church and returned 52 yards for a score. I just saw the video and ... it wasn't horrible. I know that everyone is going to bury Big Ben after today's game, and there's no question that he hasn't been very good this season. But that play ... he threw to a covered receiver. Half the time, Brown snags that pass anyway. The other half, Ramsey slaps it away. The odds that it bounces straight to another Jaguars defender aren't very high. Sometimes, a run-of-the-mill bad play just turns into a horrible play on a random bounce.

Also, I continue to maintain that the Steelers offense has been better than people give it credit for in the first four games. Because even if Roethlisberger is falling apart, there's plenty of talent around him.

Scott Kacsmar: So Roethlisberger has a pick-six on a tipped ball on back-to-back drives. CBS had another good graphic about how he didn't have a pick-six on his previous 2,200 passes or so. Then two on four throws today. Sometimes stuff just happens, and Jacksonville has been very opportunistic today. The ability to slow down Bell is also big, because the Jaguars came in ranked 32nd against the run, first against the pass. Look good in both facets today.

Bryan Knowles: Perhaps it's worth noting that the real Big Ben stopped chiming in August due to renovation, and won't be sounded again for four years. *Tinfoil hat.*

Andrew Potter: At the start of the fourth quarter, the Jaguars took possession on their own 4-yard line. Twelve straight running plays and 8 full minutes of game time later, they kicked a field goal to go up by 14 points. That drive included three separate second-and-8 or second-and-9 runs, an inside handoff to Chris Ivory on third-and-3, and Leonard Fournette off tackle on third-and-11 to set up the field goal. With six minutes and change to go, this game has been everything the Jaguars wanted it to be.

Scott Kacsmar: Two awful challenges by Mike Tomlin today. One was a spot foul that looked obviously good, and now he wastes an important timeout on a pass that clearly hit the ground. Brown almost caught it, but what other angles could you need to see that the ball hit the ground?

Make that four interceptions for Roethlisberger after JuJu trips on a third-and-10. The worst pass on a pick was the first one, but somehow I imagine the lowlight package for Roethlisberger is going to show these three second-half picks instead. Just one of those days.

Aaron Schatz: Feeling bad for the Steelers fans ... they've finally rebuilt the defense just in time for the offense to suddenly implode. Steelers were No. 3 in defensive DVOA going into this week and have allowed Jacksonville only 4.4 yards per play so far with 4:30 left. This ain't their fault.

Vince Verhei: Well, that 90-yard touchdown run by Leonard Fournette, that's on the defense. Didn't change the game at all, but that was their fault.

Dave Bernreuther: It amuses me that it was the first half where Vince pointed out the "hide Bortles" strategy and then to close the game out the Jags may as well have had me out there handing off to Fournette. And they end up winning handily on the road in Pittsburgh in a game on which their quarterback threw 14 passes for 95 yards.

Five picks for Ben, who wasn't as bad as that stat indicates ... but the "out of rhythm" phrase a Steelers fan near me used most certainly applies. Far too many plays that were going nowhere at best today. Not sure if that's on Todd Haley or on Ben's decisions or on excellent Jags defense ... probably all three. It did seem pretty clear that the Jags' coverage was great all around, and their pressure better than good.

Buffalo Bills at 16 Cincinnati Bengals 20

Rob Weintraub: Cause I'm the one with the fat mad skillz/and I won't choke like the Buffalo Bills...

O'Shea Jackson shout out, but the Bills didn't choke -- indeed the Bengals should have won by much more than 20-16. Still, it was encouraging, considering how bad Cincy was in the first two weeks.

Score one for FO -- I do a weekly Bengals column for Cincinnati Magazine, and this week I spotlighted in part the one weak area of Buffalo's D so far -- covering No. 1 wideouts, per our stats. Sure enough, A.J. Green had a monster day (189 yards), including a 77-yard bomb for a touchdown through the rain.

On the other hand, Green single-handedly kept the Bills in it, having two passes go off his hands for interceptions (first throw was high, but postgame he claimed responsibility), and a third reception he fumbled away after a jarring shot from Lorenzo Alexander. The middle one set up the Bills at the Bengals 36, but the defense rose up and pushed them out of even Steven Hauschka's range.

Buffalo had virtually no wide receivers coming into the game, and lost Charles Clay to injury early on, so they had a hard time capitalizing (in fairness, both Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones left the game in the first half and did not return, but Dennard/Jackson/Shaw > Tate/Jones/whomever).

Brandon Tate, ex-Bengal, did his best to sink the old club, with a touchdown catch after one turnover, and a big punt return at 17-13 Cincy. A penalty tacked on to the end of the return put Buffalo at the Cincy 12. But again good defense from the Bengals held the Bills to three. Andy Dalton was very good on the late drive downfield to get a big field goal and force the Bills to use their timeouts. George Iloka got a sealing interception, and the Bengals are 2-3.

Vontaze Burfict and Geno Atkins were dominant, as usual, and Carl Lawson continued his awesome rookie campaign by living in Tyrod Taylor's grille (Cincy had six sacks today, 18 through five games, pretty good considering people thought they hadn't improved their pass rush much this offseason). Mike Johnson has found new life as a nickel pass-rusher lining up at defensive tackle -- he had two sacks today.

Offensive line still stinks, though, especially in the run game. Joe Mixon got the team's first rushing touchdown of the season, and he had to jump-cut away from three Bills in the backfield to do it. But Bill Lazor has the quick passing game executing well enough to mitigate the pass-blocking deficiencies. Tyler Kroft had another good game in place of Eifert.
If Mixon keeps his feet at Lambeau, Cincy is in first place. Arrgh.

I know I'm Bengals-centric, so for the Bills Mafia types let me point out that Jerry Hughes was sensational today for Buffalo, and he's been great all year. Jordan Poyer also had a good, opportunistic ballgame.

Seattle Seahawks 16 at Los Angeles Rams 10

Vince Verhei: Huge play early in this game. Rams move down the field with little resistance on their first drive, and Todd Gurley appears to put L.A. up with a touchdown run. On review, though, it's ruled that Earl Thomas swatted the ball out inside the 1, and the ball bounced forward, hit the pylon, and out of bounds. So instead of L.A. taking a 7-0 lead, it's Seattle's ball at the 20, no score, before what appears to be a few hundred people in the Coliseum.

Good design, bad result for both offenses. Rams have a third-and-1 deep in their own end. They line up in an I-formation, but it's Tavon Austin at tailback and Gurley at fullback. They run the fullback give, but it's their best between-the-tackles runner, not your typical tight end or fullback back there. Seahawks weren't fooled and stuffed the run and forced a punt, but I like the concept, and I'm sure they'll get Austin the ball in that situation later today.

Seahawks take the ball and go for the kill with a wide receiver pass. J.D. McKissic has Connor Barwin beat for what would have been a big gain, but Tanner McEvoy's pass is late, and Cody Davis comes all the way over from the middle of the field to get the interception. Great play by Davis, who had to cover literally half the field to make that play.

As promised, Rams got the ball to Austin, though it was a very simple design. On third-and-11, they just lined him up beside Jared Goff in the shotgun and ran inside zone. Every Rams lineman (and most of their tight ends and receivers) won his block, and Austin in the open field remains dangerous, and it's a 27-yard touchdown run. We've talked about Seattle's offensive line a lot this year, but their defensive line has been a weakness too -- 30th in run defense DVOA coming into the day, and likely to drop at this point.

However, Austin giveth, and Austin taketh away. Or giveth away. He has muffed two punts today. Rams recovered the first one, but Seahawks got the second.

Bryan Knowles: Per ESPN Stats and Info, Tavon Austin has the most rushing touchdowns by any receiver since he debuted, with nine. He only has 12 receiving touchdowns, putting him down in a tie for 86th among receivers over that time period. He's basically playing the wrong position, yeah?

Vince Verhei: Blair Walsh with a field goal at the last play of the half to tie the game 10-10. Russell Wilson rebounded from a bad interception earlier to lead two scoring drives. He has been very anti-Russell, with few big plays but converting lots of third downs -- 7-of-11, and one of those failures was a spike to set up the field goal. Jimmy Graham got isolated against John Johnson for the touchdown, though Johnson also had the interception of Wilson.

Biggest surprise has been how ineffective Seattle's pass rush is, and also how the Rams haven't been able to move the ball much anyway. Three of their drives have gained 9 yards or less. Richard Sherman has erased Sammy Watkins -- two targets, both incomplete.

Rams get a good drive going to open the second half, but it stalls in the red zone, and then Greg Zuerlein misses from 36. Interesting that Sherman usually stuck on the defense's left side, as usual, but sometimes was used in man coverage against Robert Woods instead of Sammy Watkins. Woods did beat him for a third-down conversion early.

I realize I haven't talked much about Jared Goff today. He has certainly improved since his rookie season, but he's losing the battle against the Seahawks secondary today. Hasn't killed them with a turnover, but he has missed some throws that were there to be made. His biggest play so far was a 22-yard scramble to convert a third-and-long.

Repeat after me: the Rams move the ball but can't score. After Justin Coleman and Shaq Griffin miss tackles on Malcolm Brown and Tavon Austin, respectively, the Rams have a first down inside the 20. Then Goff trips over Gurley's feet on first down and gives up an easy sack, Seattle's first of the day. Goff misses an open crosser on second-and-20, then the Seahawks blow up a third-and-20 running back screen and Sheldon Richardson gets his first career interception.

Let me revise that: Goff just overthrew Gurley on the screen. Should have been an easy completion. But Gurley jumped to catch it and tipped it to Richardson.

Rookie-level Jared Goff has emerged. Jarran Reed gets pressure up the middle. Goff can't step into the throw, and if anything is stepping backward when he releases it. It's a wobbling duck over the middle, and Earl Thomas has an easy interception. Seahawks now have the ball, up 13-10, with six minutes to go, and the Rams are down to one timeout.

And with a chance with a good drive to ice the game, Seattle goes three-and-out. Wilson threw a third-down pass to Graham that never should have been thrown. Looked like the defender was running the route. The ensuing punt leaves the Rams pinned inside their 10, but there's still plenty of time left.

Monster play by Frank Clark, zipping past Andrew Whitworth to swat the ball out of Goff's hands for the strip sack, and Richardson recovers for Seattle. That's L.A.'s fifth turnover of the day, and Goff's third of the second half. Huge game for Clark -- He's got a sack, a tackle for loss, a fumble forced, and a pass defensed. Rams have spent a good chunk of the second half trying to run at him with little success.

Rob Weintraub: Ooooh, Goff misses Cooper Kupp by this much streaking open in the end zone. Next play is incomplete, and the Hawks hold on.

Bryan Knowles: Oh, the Rams HAD this. Goff leads the Rams marching down the field with no timeouts, and is about an inch short of throwing the game-winning touchdown. The ball goes off Cooper Kupp's fingertips, and Seattle survives.

Vince Verhei: Well that suddenly turned into a nail-biter. Seahawks had a fourth-and-2 in the red zone, and lined up to go for it, and I had a whole thing about aggressive coaching typed up and ready to go. But it was an offsides play that failed, and they kicked the field goal.

Rams got the ball, down six, no timeouts, just over a minute to go. And then Goff made his two best throws of the day -- 35 yards to Tyler Higbee, right in the middle of Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Thomas; and then 20 yards to Woods. Given the clock situation, it was effectively first-and-goal from the 20. On third down, Cooper Kupp scorched Justin Coleman down the seam and Goff hit him in the hands -- and Kupp dropped the ball. Bullet: dodged. They tried the same play on fourth down, but Kupp was double-covered and the pass hit his feet, and that was that.

Gonna take a while for that to sink in. Bottom line is that for all their ugly football, Seahawks are tied for first place with the Rams, with a win in hand. But man, they gave the Rams chance after chance after chance, and the Rams just couldn't get out of their own way. I'm left with the impression that the Seahawks didn't win this game, the Rams lost it -- which is bad, because it means the Seahawks will need to play better in the rematch (and the rest of the year) if they want to win the division again. But hey, for now, first place going into the bye week, then a trip to play the winless Giants. Things could be worse.

I mean, you know the cliche about "knowing how to win?" There's truth to it. And the Rams, at this point in their development curve, don't know how to win. Too many small mistakes that all added up. The 2018 Rams probably win a game like this.

Baltimore Ravens 30 at Oakland Raiders 17

Dave Bernreuther: I will admit that I didn't even realize it was E.J. Manuel getting the start today for the Raiders. I cared that little once Derek Carr was hurt.

So it's only fair to point out that that escape and throw on the run for the touchdown was a phenomenal play.

Tom Gower: As Dave said, nice job by Manuel of stepping up to avoid a rushing Za'Darius Smith and then moving to find a good throwing base so he could hit Michael Crabtree for the score. Now if only the defense could make a play, as the Raiders were still down 21-10 after the score and Joe Flacco just hit Mike Wallace to put the Ravens inside the 10.

Scott Kacsmar: Let me continue my rant against conservative coaching in Dallas with this game in Oakland. Jack Del Rio just punted on a fourth-and-3 from the Baltimore 44 with just under nine minutes left. You're down 27-17. Your defense stinks. What is that punt really going to accomplish when you're running out of chances at a comeback that won't require an onside kick recovery? You can't be afraid to go behind 13 points. Sure, if the Ravens get a touchdown to go up 34-17, then it's game over, but no matter where your defense starts this drive, the goal is the same. Fourth-and-3 should be considered a realistic option, especially inside the opponent's 45 in that situation.

By the way, the Ravens still have the ball and the clock is heading under five minutes.

Green Bay Packers 35 at Dallas Cowboys 31

Bryan Knowles: Dallas going aggressive early. They've had two fourth downs, both of them in easy field goal range, and have gone for and converted both of them. Both drives ended up in touchdowns, as well. The difference between 14 and 6 points could be huge against an offense like Green Bay's.

Aaron Schatz: The Packers defense does not look good today, which is what you should see when a good offense plays a mediocre defense. What's interesting is that they've got Ezekiel Elliott pretty hemmed in. The Dallas blocking looks good, but Elliott has only 14 carries for 30 yards. Instead, the Cowboys are doing it through the air, plus Dak Prescott scrambles. (The Packers having problems with a mobile quarterback, what a shock.) No matter what kind of coverage the Packers try to use, there are Cowboys receivers open. I know I'm the one always out there making noise and saying that you have to give young cornerbacks time to develop, that some of the best cornerbacks in recent years took three or even four years to develop into stars. OK, sure, but Damarious Randall is in Year 3 now so, you know, maybe get on with it already? It doesn't look like it's going to happen. And even when he had good coverage on Dez Bryant, Prescott dropped it in over the top for the second Dallas touchdown.

Aaron Rodgers is swell, 11-of-13 in the first half, but Mason Crosby has missed two extra points which makes things even worse for the Packers. They go into halftime down 21-12.

Scott Kacsmar: Cowboys came up short on a screen to set up fourth-and-2 at midfield. It just had that feeling of a moment where you want to keep the ball away from Rodgers. Either just go for it or do a fake punt or something, but Jason Garrett punted with a 21-15 lead. I wish coaches would coach with the thought process that "we don't have enough points yet to win this game." You're not going to win this game 21-15 with a quarter and a half left. What's the worst that can happen if you go for it and don't get it? Rodgers leads a 50-yard touchdown drive to take a 22-21 lead with more than a quarter left? That's no big deal. But going up 24-15 or 28-15 or 29-15, that is a big deal. I was complaining about this for a few minutes on Twitter, then Mike McCarthy just added to it by actually going for it on a fourth-and-1 at midfield himself, and that's ballsier since his team was the one trailing.

Consider that a likely turning point in this game. Garrett punted, McCarthy didn't.

Bryan Knowles: One of these days, I'm going to study when these coaches get conservative. Garrett was just fine with going for it on fourth-and-1 from the 20-yard line, but increase the distance by a yard and move it to midfield and he gets cold feet? Kind of an odd strategic decision there.

Aaron Schatz: And then in the third quarter, the Packers' running game suddenly got solid against the Dallas No. 28 run defense. Aaron Jones for 22, 3, 10, 7, 5 ... then a play-action to Jones and a bullet to a wide open Jordy Nelson in the end zone. So we're at 22-21 Packers.

Cowboys march down the field, Ezekiel Elliott finally gets a couple nice runs, Dan Bailey hits a 43-yard field goal to make it 24-22 Dallas. So the Packers need to come back while trying to march into the sunshine that comes through the windows in Dallas when the sun is going down late in the afternoon. And this is not a great stadium design choice...

Football. It turns so quickly. Dak Prescott just hit Terrance Williams with a pass in the hands and it bounced off and into the hands of Damarious Randall who returned it 20 yards for a pick-six. I don't think that was Prescott's fault in the least. Just a drop and a bad carom. Packers try for two and don't get it, so it's now 28-24 Packers.

By the way, this reader pointed out that the Chargers oddly did NOT go for two when they went up four on the Giants earlier today.

After the Packers went for two, even though they missed, he tweeted at me, "Green Bay gets it."

Rob Weintraub: That was your basic "I'm Aaron Rodgers, and you're not" drive. I'd imagine voodoo dolls of No. 12 will be big sellers in Big D this week.

Bryan Knowles: The decision to throw a fade to Dez Bryant may have come back to haunt the Cowboys here. Aaron Rodgers marches the Packers down the field to score the go-ahead touchdown with just 11 seconds left on the clock. Run the clock down after a run on second-and-1, and maybe there's not enough time left for Rodgers to pull it off.

Aaron Schatz: I'm curious to see how the expected-win probability models will handle the question of whether Dak Prescott should have slid down at the 1 instead of scoring on that read-option play that put the Cowboys up 31-28. I know we went through this same question last year with ... Kyle Juszczyk, right? On Christmas against the Steelers? In that case, the other team also came back and scored to win the game. But that last yard is usually a lot harder to get than all the yards before it. I wouldn't want a player going down at the 1, down by more than a field goal, only to find that the offense can't push it in for that last yard and the winning touchdown. I think Prescott made the right decision.

I also don't think it's realistic to imagine that even if it makes sense for a player to go down at the 1 in this situation, he would have that win-probability logic overcome his adrenaline so that he actually WOULD go down at the 1. These guys are only human.

OK, except Aaron Rodgers, maybe. Escaping a sack to scramble on third-and-8 not only for the first down but for an extra 10 yards AND to get out of bounds, wow, what a freakin' play.

Vince Verhei: No way he should have gone down. They needed a touchdown on that drive, or they lose. You can assume the field goal is automatic at the goal line. You can never assume a touchdown is automatic.

Signed, a Seahawks fan.

Scott Kacsmar: I can't fault Prescott for scoring that touchdown. If the game was tied or the Cowboys were down one or two points, then I'd be shredding him right now. I think even down by three points, you can argue sliding down at the 1-yard line since you technically don't need a touchdown. You want one, but you don't need it until the deficit hits four points, which was the case here. Defense just has to make a play, and much like in January's playoff loss, it didn't come.

Bryan Knowles: Yeah, I'd have to agree with Vince -- take the touchdown when you can get it. There are plenty of other moments to point to in this game where the Cowboys could have done better. I'd love to hear Jason Garrett explain that shot at Dez Bryant on the second-and-1.

Kansas City Chiefs 42 at Houston Texans 34

Scott Kacsmar: Watching J.J. Watt go down with a serious injury was very tough to watch. Watching Alex Smith actually throw several third-down passes beyond the sticks, and converting them, was surprising.

Aaron Schatz: Looks like the Texans are hardcore trying to stop Kareem Hunt, but that leaves plenty of space for Smith to make passes, especially now that the pass rush is minus Watt and Whitney Mercilus.

Aha, the solution to the Texans trying to stop Kareem Hunt seems to be throwing to the running backs instead of handing it to them. Charcandrick West just had his second touchdown catch right before halftime to make it 23-7 Chiefs, and Hunt had a 10-yard reception earlier.

Derrik Klassen: With each passing week, it feels tougher to make the case against Kansas City as the best team in football. Going up 23-7 at the half vs. a solid Houston team is no easy accomplishment, not to mention their undefeated record to this point.

Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson is having a decent night He has already thrown a great touchdown pass -- a heater from inside the 10-yard line to DeAndre Hopkins in the back of the end zone. If not for one D'Onta Forman fumble that killed a drive, Houston's offense would not look too bad right now. With J.J. Watt and others injured on defense, though, their hope of outpacing Kansas City's offense is bleak.

Tom Gower: The Chiefs had the ball five times in the first half. They scored five times. You'll win a lot of games when you do that. Travis Kelce is the standout with 98 receiving yards, while nobody else has more than 35 yards rushing and receiving combined. This is Andy Reid football at its best, though of course Houston has a point losing Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt in-game. Injuries suck.

Aaron Schatz: Watson is showing more of his impressive skills now that we've reached the second half. Best play came on fourth-and-1 near the goal line where Bill O'Brien trusted him to throw the ball. His first read was Hopkins on a slant, covered, so he scrambled around until he saw Will Fuller open on the right side, and he got Fuller the ball and Fuller went in for the touchdown. Again, didn't seem like any panic, when that first read was covered he kept looking to make a good play.

Bryan Knowles: They've confirmed that Watt's tibial plateau fracture has ended his season. Losing him and OBJ on the same day makes the NFL a less fun place.

Zach Binney: Season-ending seems to be the consensus. The only similar injury I can find that resulted in less than eight weeks gone was Dez, but that was an extremely minor one. So at an absolute minimum you're looking at an IR-DFR situation, but with the surgery report I don't doubt it's a season-ender.

Aaron Schatz: Last year's best return man vs. last year's worst special teams. You knew something had to happen. Tyreek Hill punt return touchdown. This one is pretty close to over.

Scott Kacsmar: These final scores continue to be very misleading for the undefeated Chiefs. A 42-34 win on paper, but it was their most dominant game yet this year. A few Hail Mary-type completions for Watson actually led to a five-touchdown pass stat line for him. Texans seem to have the real deal at quarterback, but now an injured defense. Chiefs will go into the Pittsburgh game a bit banged up too.

Tom Gower: The Chiefs punted twice in the second half, so for the game they only scored on nine of 11 chances with the football (giving them credit for Tyreek Hill's punt return touchdown). It's amazing that game ended up as close as it was in some ways, but there you have it. Good on Playmaker Score for predicting Will Fuller would have success; I was among the many who doubted him, but he's showed up and made good plays in his first two games this year.


144 comments, Last at 13 Oct 2017, 8:23pm

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 9:59am

Randall was sent home during the second half of the Bears game after having an interaction with the coach or coaches that did not go well (obviously). With King going down early and then Brice the Packers were stuck playing Randall, Rollins and Josh Hawkins in various situations. Just glad the damage wasn't worse.

whatever the pass protection issues having Taylor and McRae on the left side gives GB a robust run blocking duo. And Jones took full advantage. Writers following the team were stating in mid training camp that Jones was the best rb on the team and nothing yesterday proved them wrong.

The Packers pass rush did ok yesterday. Prescott had to make some wow plays on the run as different guys at time got through. Against that Dallas line that is no small thing.

Hope GB figures out the long snapper situation. Goode the long time guy is hurt and his replacement is a rookie so one hopes this is just the learning curve and will soon get better.

Blake Martinez keeps looking better and better on run and pass. Not a superstar but very solid. That works

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7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Flounder // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:17am

I missed all but the last drive (which obviously was glorious). How did King get hurt? And how was Hawkins in his snaps?

FYI, I (used to) post on APC under a different handle, and still read the comments sometimes. That place is so toxic though.......

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9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by EnderCN // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:30am

King got a concussion. I didn't notice the play it happened on, I think it was just some random thing though, not a bad looking hit.

I don't know what it is about the Packers that they can't keep their defense healthy. It seems like they put together a decent defense every year but all year long it is just a merry go round of injuries and they can't seem to get any level of the defense all healthy at the same time and it has been going on for years now.

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13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:41am

Covering Bryant he landed hard and I believe bounced his head off the turf/field.

Didn't hear Hawkins name much so ok? The guy who could help compensate is Dix who has not played well in 2017. I wonder if he is injured but playing through it

Regarding APC you have a few hard core posters who want to shout everyone else down and since they avoid politics and don't get personal the moderators don't have sufficient reason to discipline based on SB Nation policy. These people just post and post and post and post and chase folks away through their persistent pernicious nature and the tone it creates in EVERY thread.

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99 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Special J // Oct 09, 2017 - 5:09pm

Wow. Just swap out the names, and word-for-word, your description perfectly describes the Pats' message board. I imagine it's at least somewhat the same on any team's board.

I'm curious, though -- are APC's hardcore posters the contrarian types who call hate every play call, use words like "unacceptable" when criticizing a unit's lack of depth, and seem to think there's a prize given out each year for being the first person on record to deem a rookie a" bust" or say you can stick a fork in the season? Or is that just a Masshole thing?

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101 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 5:23pm

Pretty much. Capers needs to be fired. McCarthy is an idiot. Rodgers is the only reason the team is any good and covers for all the mistakes made by management.

The negativity by some posters is just astounding. I don't know how these people function in their daily lives with such attitudes

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107 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by PatsFan // Oct 09, 2017 - 8:06pm

If you are a Pats fan, check out the forum. Obviously pretty much all sports message boards have similar diseases, and that one is no exception, but I think the moderators there do a pretty good job of keeping things sane. And there are a couple of posters who do really nice recaps.

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102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Mike W // Oct 09, 2017 - 6:08pm

Wow. Just went over there to look around. I'd be tossing some temporary bans around for all the shut-upping and you're an idiot-ing going on. And if you're going to say Capers has to go, or whatever, provide a reason or two, yeah? Not just another re-re-restatement of it. That crap would not fly on my SB soccer blog, though we do have a bit of a not-so-subtle lefty politics problem creeping in.

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108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 8:18pm

I like the mods who I believe are trying to avoid becoming the good speech police. So if you get personal or hostile or racist/sexist/whateverist you get a timeout. But a cadre of posters have found the zone of creating a hostile environment without crossing the defined lines and it sucks when those clowns show up.

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2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:02am

You're beginning to see what Coahc Tomlin is capable of without a HoF QB and the stacked defense and roster he inherited.

Sure Antonio Brown is good, as is Bell, DeCastro, Gilbert, Heyward, Tuitt, and Shazier, Watt, and Burns. In fact, with a roster like that you'd assume a good coach and Blake Bortles could win 8 or 10 games.

So, what's gone wrong? Other than Gilbert, the team is healthy. QB in massive regression/decline and the team goes from AFCGG to bottom-feeder despite getting better via FA on paper.

Looks like a once in a generation HoF QB was masking a lot of ugly deficiencies in the scheme on both sides of the ball.

Nobody saw it coming, I tell ya.

The standard is the stand Burnsandard!

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17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by JimZipCode // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:45am

I dunno, I'll believe the Steelers are out of it only when the season is over.

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25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:03am

I watched Ben very carefully against the Ravens to see if I could spot any decline. I didn't see it. Ok he missed on some throws, but that happens. He still moved well, his arm was fine, etc etc. I think he has declined but he's not shot. Probably an overreaction to say he's done. Also I don't think he's once in a generation but that's me.

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68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible // Oct 09, 2017 - 1:45pm

what other QBs in his era could have survived the beating he took behind the terrible OL he had in the middle of his career and still flourished?

The standard is the standard!

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73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2017 - 1:55pm

The beating he took was partly his own fault. He likes to hold the ball a lot, something he has in common with Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck.

The best ability to avoid a beating is to make quick decisions and avoid the punishment in the first place. This has its limits as well, but it goes a long way to mitigating the bone crushing hits.

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75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible // Oct 09, 2017 - 2:02pm

how many quick decisions can you make when your receivers need 4-5 seconds to get open because they're slow and the scheme doesn't account for it?

The standard is the standard!

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77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2017 - 2:07pm

His receivers have usually been pretty good. Hines Ward and Burress led to Santonio Holmes and Mike Wallace to Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown to Antonio Brown and Martavus Bryant.

Hes had Heath Miller for an eternity as well. I can buy the scheme issue, but I hardly think his receiver talent has been poor.

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79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 2:14pm

It would be interesting if anyone could research how much a qb makes receivers look proficient versus the receiver being a quality player independent of his qb.

I write that because Ron Wolf saddled Favre with the likes of Bill Schroeder who was a 900/ 1000 yard receiver with Green Bay. He signs with Detroit and was the 3rd option to out of the league in 3 years.

Wolf always said his biggest regret of his career was not going a better job of finding quality pass catchers for Favre. Thompson took that to heart as he is constantly drafting receivers trying to find the next good player.

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83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Mike W // Oct 09, 2017 - 2:32pm

And generally doing a poor job of it

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86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Nevic // Oct 09, 2017 - 2:42pm

Absolute Stars: Greg Jennings & Jordy Nelson
Good: James Jones, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams (although it took him a while)
Adequate: Ty Montgomery (as a RB, not WR)

I wouldn't say that is a great record, but not terrible, especially considering that all of the Stars and Good players above were 2nd rounds picks (Jones was 3rd). This is out of 18 drafted WRs, 2 from 2017 we cannot yet judge. Without looking at other GMs, I would think this is probably average performance.

The only "bust" I found was Terrance Murphy drafted in the 2nd round back in 2005.

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87 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 2:46pm

That is way above average.

And omits Jermichael Finley of a guy who would qualify as pretty good prior to getting hurt

Janis is still on the roster but his value is on special teams.

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103 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Mike W // Oct 09, 2017 - 6:10pm

See, I disagree. James Jones couldn't do anything without Rodgers. Adams has struggled a lot, and doesn't show any particular ability. Certainly Nelson is very good and Jennings was very good, but I think considering the guys who've actually seen regular playing time, it's been a sea of replacement-level or just above guys for the most part.

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132 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Guest789 // Oct 10, 2017 - 11:40am

Have... have you watched Adams' last 20 games? The dude is a borderline WR1 at this point.

In the first 3 rounds of the draft (where you could reasonably hope to consistently find contributors), Thompson has picked: Murphy, Jennings, Jones, Nelson, Cobb, Adams, and Montgomery. That's 5 multi-season starters, the current starting HB and one guy who had a career-ending injury as a rookie. That's an INSANELY good record, and I'd put it up against any GM in the league.

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142 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by LionInAZ // Oct 12, 2017 - 12:47am

Jennings didn't live up to his rep outside of GB either, but at least he didn't go crawling back to the Pack like Jones did.

I've heard that the Packers specialize in drafting WRs with specific skill sets, like being able to look back for the ball at specific times, that make them useless to other schemes.

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95 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by JimZipCode // Oct 09, 2017 - 4:07pm

Sterling Sharpe was on Favre's earliest Packers teams.

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97 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 4:34pm

Sharpe was not drafted by Ron Wolf. Sharpe was a first round pick in 1988 three years prior to Wolf assuming the GM job in Green Bay.

Receivers drafted by Ron Wolf:

Robert Brooks, Orlando McKay, Christopher Holder, Terry Mickens, Jay Kearney, Bill Schroeder, Mark Chmura, Antonio Freeman, Charlie Simmons, Derrick Mayes, Chris Miller, Corey Bradford, Dee Miller, Bubba Franks, Anthony Lucas, Joey Jamison, Charles Lee

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96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2017 - 4:12pm

This one of the oldest and most difficult questions analytics has tried to do - separate qb play from receiver. And in my mind, there is no real way to do it.

Take Peyton Manning as an example. You could look at his career and conclude hes had great receivers throughout or you could look at his consistency over a career and conclude everyone he ever played with was overrated. The answer is somewhere in between, but that doesn't tell us much. Is it mostly Manning or mostly the receivers or is it right dead in the middle? Depending on where it is, your conclusions about him as the player and the others changes dramatically.

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3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by billprudden // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:10am



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10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Mike W // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:37am

That happened to me a few times two weeks ago with a different ad.

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18 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:48am

what are ads?

The standard is the standard!

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24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by billprudden // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:02am

Page goes white, top left corner is JetBlue ad, for me anyway.

If I refresh page I get back to FO.

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19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by ChrisLong // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:49am


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143 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by LionInAZ // Oct 12, 2017 - 12:51am

I get redirected to full page Amazon ads, just by scrolling or clicking to reply to a comment. It's very irritating.

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4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by InTheBoilerRoom // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:10am

I attended the Panthers-Lions game in person, and I have to agree, Newton made some impressive throws yesterday after how poorly he started the season. I was particularly impressed with the placement on the TD passes to Funchess and Benjamin. The shoulder surgery and lack of preseason reps had to have affected his play in the early part of the season. It does look like he is back to game shape now. I didn't believe it after the game against NE's terrible defense, but repeating it against the Lions (and on the road again) has me more convinced. If only he wasn't such an idiot off of the field...

Also, it's good to see Peppers in a Panthers uniform again. Can't believe what he is still capable of at his age.

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6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:12am

I didn't realize Funchess had that much smarts/body control until he pulled that TD in at hte back of the endzone. The throw was great too, of course.
The standard is the standard!

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76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by ChrisLong // Oct 09, 2017 - 2:06pm

Someone should really ask Cam what he thinks about Funchess' recent improvements in route-running.

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92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by InTheBoilerRoom // Oct 09, 2017 - 3:29pm

Well played!

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5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by thebuch // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:11am

On the Packers choosing to go for two, is it that obvious of a decision they have to go for it? I didn't like the call because in either case, Dallas needs a TD to get ahead, and if they go up five even if Dallas gets a TD unless they get a two point conversion, a field goal wins the game. What's the big benefit of being up 6? Hoping they miss the extra point and it's tied? I'd take a ~50% chance of stopping their two point conversion attempt and a FG winning the game over the ~7% chance of them missing the extra point.

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23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by oaktoon // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:01am

I agree with you. There were 10 minutes left. The situation if there is 2 minutes left is very different. But with 10 minutes left, what are the odds that the Cowboys get 2 FGs and the Packers don't score? pretty darn remote. What are the odds that if you do succeed at the 2 pointer, the Cowboys miss the XP if they score (which they did)-- 6%, right?? OTOH, if you don't succeed with the 2 pointer, you could be down 3 if the Cowboys score and kick the point. Meaning a late FG from Crosby only ties the game. If you kick the point and the Dallas scores a late TD, you force them to go for 2 to put them 7 ahead. If they fail, Crosby wins game with FG... OOPS (See below)

Dang... you know what-- it was the right call... The slight chance of missing the XP, and the probable slighter chance of them kicking 2 FGS tilts it-- because other than that it is the same--- one team can kick a point and force the other team to go for 2... or that same team can go for 2 and force the other team to kick the point... In either case the team that fails to convert the 2 either a) can only tie the game with a late FG (Packers situation) or b) can lose the game to a late FG...(could have been Dallas' situation if the Pack had kicked the XP...

And finally it was probably a final tipping point that Crosby had missed 2 PATS and there were long snap/ball placement issues

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104 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Mountain Time ---- formerly Ninjalectual // Oct 09, 2017 - 6:44pm

The Packers going for two was never the correct decision. There was so much time left that the final score dynamic couldn't be known. I was proven right when on that final drive, a FG would have won for them, had they just kicked the XP.

Crosby missing two earlier was not relevant, unless it was because he was hurt, which he isn't.

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129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by xydux // Oct 10, 2017 - 10:51am

I think it was relevant, actually, since the situation that had led to him missing the kicks (inexperienced long snapper) was still present and had not been taken care of. Therefore, to conclude that "the missed kicks will continue" wouldn't necessarily be a bad assumption.

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8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by johonny // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:21am

Mia-Tenn The Miami white powder fueled coaching staff is standing 100% behind Jay Cutler. "He's the best QB on the team." A statement that can only be true if Matt Cassel is your teams other QB. Highlight of the game was a play where Jay Cutler ducks phantom pressure. Standing not looking down field for an uncomfortable long time he finally realizes that he isn't being sacked so he starts to scramble. Instead of running for yardage at the last minute he looks up, sees a heavily covered receiver and just chucks the ball at him. INT. I'm sure the level of play in this game is in no way part of why ratings are down. AFCeast 1)Pats, they get a long week to figure out the surging JETS 2)Bills-you knew they were eventually going to lose one of these close games. 3) Jets-IDK tanking is not going well. If they beat the Pats they could be in first.4)Miami-How have they won 2 games with that offense? Even the empty seats in the stadium looked bored on Sunday.

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30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by James-London // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:26am

It seems I picked a good week to not see any football.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

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42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by johonny // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:58am

I watched the game and still didn't see any football.

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43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by James-London // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:59am


Phil Simms is a Cretin.

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46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Will Allen // Oct 09, 2017 - 12:09pm

The game in Dallas was great.Terrific o-line play on one side, and otherworldly qb play on the other, resulting in a great finish.

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54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by James-London // Oct 09, 2017 - 12:27pm

I'm sorry I missed that one, and I'll watch it on Gamepass, but the Miami game appears to have been a garbage fire, so doing something else feels like a good decision.

Also, the spam filter appears to be on an overtime rate today..

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

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60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by mehllageman56 // Oct 09, 2017 - 12:47pm

I went to the HP Lovecraft festival on Saturday, and it seems that the Jets/Browns game had more soul-destroying power than anything shown at the festival.

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84 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Dan_L // Oct 09, 2017 - 2:35pm

I actually enjoyed watching the Browns/Jets game, although I watch the Browns the way a baseball super fan watches a AA game, so my experience may be different. I tend to think this way is the best way to watch a developing team, incidentally.

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15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by rj1 // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:45am

It could be due to I watch a Colts game every week in addition to some others, but there’s a lot of really bad football being played in the NFL this year. My Broncos are in good shape record-wise but I think it’s more due to being competent rather than they’re playing awesome. The Patriots give off the same vibe. Not sure the league is going to get any better in the future, I’m going through quarterbacks and in the next couple years I see 7 starters retiring, 5 of whom are considered some level of great (Rivers, Roethlisberger, Brady, Eli, Brees, Palmer, Cutler) and there’s probably more than that because that was just who I thought of on the top of my head. It frustrates me as a fan because the NFL has made the game through rules so one-dimensional around the passing game, that you either have one of the 10 or so good-to-great QBs, or you don’t and your best hope is hitting the flash in the pan in a draft or when the backup has to replace the injured starter.

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16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:45am

This has been stated previously but the bulk of the bad play can be attributed to poor offensive line performance. Be it the reduced practices and contact or the spread offenses in college offensive line play is dreadful in the NFL. On the flip side defensive line play is tremendous as the number of guys with the quick twitch, strength and bend to get to the qb is amazing. So pretty much an imbalance guaranteed to make games filled with botched offensive attempts, penalties as linemen lunge and clutch and teams at a loss on how to make do

Though there is an uptick for running plays. The only way to get better at running the ball is, well, RUN THE BALL. Just that teams have to do it in live action versus practice because there is limited contact possible.

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27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by rj1 // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:24am

There's a lot of plays I watch and the offensive line are giving the protection necessary, and QB throws a brain-dead pass. (The Brissett interception in the end zone yesterday is textbook example A.) Not saying you're lying, I don't know personally, but considering this site is the King of Stats-based Analysis, is there any stats backing this up that "it's all on the offensive line"?

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32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:29am

Consider it a hypothesis. I just don't know how an offense can function consistently when the breakdowns up front are ongoing and can come from any direction.

The Packers were able to scheme for Marshall Newhouse being a terrible left tackle because the rest of the line was solid or very good. Rodgers mentally knew that if there was pressure it was coming from that area.

How does one scheme when anyone is capable of breaking down and sometimes multiple fail on the same play?

Only so many Russell Wilsons. Most qbs can look adequate if the line is blocking proficiently

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34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by rj1 // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:33am

Are we considering "throw a screen pass to a man outside behind the line of scrimmage who then does all the work" adequate?

Quarterback, offensive line, receiver, whatever. There's a complete lack of quality talent somewhere.

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39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:45am

"There's a complete lack of quality talent somewhere" Are you referring to a specific team or the league as a whole?

Because I have shared my 2.5 cents that the talent gap is at offensive line.

I will use a collegiate team as reference. Wisconsin's offense has a very basic formula. Develop a quality offensive line, recruit a bunch of running backs and hope one is somewhat special, recruit guys who can play receiver and catch a few balls but really be willing to run block and a qb who makes good decisions and is tough. Note the last part. There is no specific athletic skill set to a WI qb. Wisconsin wants good decision makers because the line and running back will put themselves in situations where if they make the good decision the team will benefit. Having a good arm is nice but required. Being able to scramble is nice but not required. But be tough so you can stay in the lineup and provide continuity and make good choices when needed and you can play qb at WI. It's why you can have qbs as disparate in ability from Mike Samuel (great runner, terrible accuracy beyond 10 yards) to Jim Sorgi (immobile but strong arm) succeed.

The NFL is different sure. But not so different that a good or better offensive line cannot compensate for a qb who is not Andrew Luck.

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41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by ChrisLong // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:57am

NFL offensive line play is probably down, and that leads to less offense, but in my opinion this shift in OL play is a relative shift not an absolute one. Down lineman and edge rushers are more athletic and skilled than ever, not to mention hybrid players all over the league that are nominally playing linebacker but are really box safeties flashing through a gap and blowing up plays. NFL teams are learning that a guy doesn't have to fend off a block if he can sprint past it instead. Schemes are starting to take advantage of these athletic advantages, and I think offensive lineman are struggling to keep up. I'm fine with it, the pendulum needed to swing toward the defense in some way and this seems to be it.

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61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2017 - 12:57pm

The problem is - we have no way of objectively measuring if O line play is down, at least from a pass blocking perspective. Sacks are a function of qb, but pressure is as well. On top of that, the pressure rate has been remarkably stable over time, but that could be because teams are throwing short passes more than ever and run efficiency from non rushing qbs has been in a slow decline for the last 20 years or so.

Now I agree with you, I think subjectively, o line quality has declined, but we can't really say definitively with any hard numbers. And worse, we cant even say whether its o linemen playing poorly or dlinemen playing better.

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78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by ChrisLong // Oct 09, 2017 - 2:12pm

I would really, really love for the NFL to incorporate player tracking the way the NBA has. So much to be gained and nothing to be lost! More data creates a better product in the long run, better player safety, and at the cost of what!? Some RFID chips in everyone's pads and sensors around the stadium? Come on NFL, don't be afraid of data!

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90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2017 - 3:14pm

Rfid chips would solve all kinds of measurement problems. You wouldn't even need computer vision. It could help us uncover how close defenders are to receivers on every play.

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44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by rj1 // Oct 09, 2017 - 12:05pm

League as a whole.

NFL 2017 - the Jinder Mahal of Seasons. (for Vince Verhei)

^ To Chris Long post 41, this is not an offense vs. defense thing. There's a difference between "my opponent was better" and "I completely screwed that up". It's the difference between losing a promotion because a co-worker was better at it than you are, and losing a promotion because you show up to work drunk half the time.

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50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by ChrisLong // Oct 09, 2017 - 12:14pm

I guess my response to that would be: how can one tell the difference? I'm not an expert in OL play but when a guy gets bench-pressed into the backfield or can't reach the second level to make a block on the LB, it can either be an athletic deficiency or it can be a skill deficiency. One can be fixed by more/better coaching and practice, and one cannot. If a guy is completely over-matched athletically, his technique might look much worse because he can't keep up.

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52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by rj1 // Oct 09, 2017 - 12:23pm

Guys with large athletic deficiencies don't make NFL rosters.

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56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by ChrisLong // Oct 09, 2017 - 12:33pm

Completely disagree with that. For one, there are tons of people in the NFL who survive on skill rather than athleticism, offensive and defensive lineman included. They're not stars but they certainly can be starters.

And second, perhaps coaches are looking for the wrong athletic characteristics to block in today's NFL. For example, tall OTs are often valued because they typically have longer arms and long lateral strides, but that also means they aren't likely to be very quick changing directions and it's easier for a shorter or smaller defensive player to get under or around their grasp.

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125 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by jtr // Oct 10, 2017 - 9:09am

I recently read Howard Mudd's book featuring the perspectives of a number of current and former offensive linemen. He had a section where each player explained how they ended up playing offensive line. Almost without fail, they were all defensive linemen in high school or college who got moved to offensive line because they weren't athletic enough for defense. Defensive line is a more fun and more glamorous position, so generally only the guys who can't cut it there play offensive line. So, there's naturally a deficit of athleticism at the position.

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59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 12:39pm

Breno Giacomini was drafted in the 5th round years back because he was tall and had good arm length but was incredibly weak (in relative terms) in his upper body and had bad feet. The Packers redshirted him to work on his strength. The feet never got better (at least with GB)

And I think there are a lot of guys who have the NFL framework and teams take flyers all the time to see with coaching and professional conditioning a lineman may develop

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80 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by ChrisLong // Oct 09, 2017 - 2:20pm

I just tend to think that, if the overall dominance of the defense along the front seven continues to be the norm, strategic shifts and different types of players will emerge. In a way, it's already happening: option schemes and hyper-quick passing both are designed to negate free rushers, and even use that perceived advantage against the defense. Having a more diverse league offensively, with drastically different teams built around an OL or not, is to me a sign of innovation and progress, even if it sometimes leads to ugly football in the transition.

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113 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by rj1 // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:04pm

1. Is the league offensively diverse when the rules are designed to ensure the only way to succeed is the passing game, and there's only 10 or so good to great quarterbacks?

2. Think about this for a second. It's reasonable to expect to see in the coming 2-3 years the retirements of Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, and Eli Manning. That's 10 Super Bowl rings. Their replacements are going to be either a bunch of neophytes or journeymen. Peyton Manning's replacement is Trevor Siemian.

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114 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by ChrisLong // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:17pm

1. Given that the top 6 offenses in DVOA through week 4 are KC, NE, NO, TEN, MIN, and LARM, I think you picked the wrong season to make that argument.

2. The NFL has been a QB-centric league for the last 40 years. When old greats retire new guys come in and replace them. There will be new stars and new faces just like always.

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124 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by jtr // Oct 10, 2017 - 8:59am

Peyton Manning was also replaced by Andrew Luck, and I think it's safe to say that's a superstar-for-superstar replacement. Luck is certainly good enough to win some rings if Indy's management can ever get their act together.
The jury is still out on latest crop of young QB's (Wentz, Goff, Prescott, Trubitzky, Mahomes, Watson, Kizer), and several of those guys have shown reasons for fans to be optimistic. It's probably safe to assume that a few of those will end up being franchise guys, and probably at least one a bona-fide superstar.

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53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Will Allen // Oct 09, 2017 - 12:26pm

It's a real conumdrum. After 2009, the principle roster construction error by the Vikings, in my view, is the inattention to the o-line in the first three rounds of the draft. I won't fault the attention to defense, because after 2009, the defense went over a cliff, until Zimmer's arrival, but they used early picks, when Peterson was still great, on running backs (!), wide receivers, and a complete qb reach in The Ponderous One. Investment in o-linemen likely takes a lot of pressure off the defense, merely by signing the best veteran qb available.

On the other hand, who knows? The ranks of quality NFL o-line prospects in college is so thin that "draft them early" is no sure thing.

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48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Will Allen // Oct 09, 2017 - 12:13pm

You can't run an NFL offense if both tackles need help consistently, or if there is constant pressure in the middle.

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51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 12:14pm

Or in the case of several teams across the league, everywhere things break down and create pressure

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70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by bravehoptoad // Oct 09, 2017 - 1:50pm

There's always a lot of bad football being played, every year.

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11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Mike W // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:39am

After several hours of football the thing that stayed with me is the "Peyton Manning 1998-11" thing. Umm . . .

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89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Ryan // Oct 09, 2017 - 3:06pm

Hardcore Colts fan (and native Hoosier) here--I saw that and just....all I could think was, "...Indiana."

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12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by johonny // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:41am

Additional non-Miami comment. At what point should KC stop using Hunt as a kick returner. He is getting 20+ touches out of the back field already.

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20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by ChrisLong // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:52am

KC has two Hunts. Akeem does the kick-returning, not Kareem.

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28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by johonny // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:25am

Ah, I see.

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31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Mike W // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:28am

Also, Clark Hunt is the owner. He has little speed though.

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72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by bravehoptoad // Oct 09, 2017 - 1:53pm

...but a svelte figure.

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14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by JimZipCode // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:42am

This is probably a stupid thing to say, but man Flacco looks like a completely different QB when he hits a deep pass or two. That Ravens drive to open the game, 4 plays to a TD, was about the most un-Ravens-like thing one could imagine.

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21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Bright Blue Shorts // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:59am

And against that Raiders defense that DVOA was misplacing down at #30 after two weeks.

Which reminds me ... anyone seen Sleet recently?

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26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:11am

I'm no injury expert, but you have to wonder if the lingering ankle issue led to Odel's devastating ankle break. Also to see how injuries robbed what was a hall of fame level linebacker in Bowman is equally sad. And Watt going down as well. Good grief.

I hope obj recovers. I felt awful when I saw him crying on the cart. Reminded me of Victor Cruz who was never the same after.

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38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Will Allen // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:41am

I'm a endless loop on the topic, but the injuries bother me more than they ever have. I was looking forward to watching last night's game, and ten minutes in my interest was greatly diminished.

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69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Mr Shush // Oct 09, 2017 - 1:47pm

Mercilus is done for the season too. With those guys healthy, the Texans might actually have been a real contender this year. As is, they could make the playoffs again, but that's the ceiling.

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22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:00am

Cincinnati did everything possible to hand the game to Buffalo yesterday. I was intrigued about all the Buffalo chatter but what I saw was a team that reminded me of the good Northwestern teams under Fitzgerald. Play hard. Try and run the ball. Throw safe pass routes. Be good on special teams. Win the war of attrition by making fewer mistakes than the opponent. Cincy's defensive line kicked the snot out of the Bills, the Bills didn't leverage the turnovers as required by the formula so Buffalo lost.

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88 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by D2K // Oct 09, 2017 - 2:58pm

The game changed drastically as soon as Charles Clay went out at the end of the 1st quarter.the Bills literally had the worst collection of skill players outside of Shady that I can ever remember seeing. Zay Jones, Andre Holmes and something called Kaelin Clay were the Bills pass catchers. Zero chance of being successful just based on those players. Even less a chance of being successful when Rick Dennison and his antiquated offense doesn't play to ANY of the strengths of the offense that finished 10th in DVOA last year.

It looks like the inevitable Bills quick start to mid season slide has officially commenced. I hope I'm wrong and they can get back to what worked well last year during the bye, but with the skill players that the Bills currently have, college teams could defend this offense.

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29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:25am

Question for Giants fans. With a bad offensive line and an immobile qb having lost his all world receiver what will the Giants scheme for an offense?

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33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Travis // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:29am

1st down: run into the line for 0-2 yards or throw a quick pass to a non-WR
2nd down: run into the line for 0-2 yards or throw a quick pass to a non-WR
3rd down: throw to Engram
4th down: punt

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37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:38am

So the 1976 Packer offense.

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35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by James-London // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:36am

Hopefully, trading next year's #1 for Jarvis Landry...

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

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62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by mansteel // Oct 09, 2017 - 1:13pm

Not just his all-world WR, but all his other ones, too (except for Roger Lewis). I suppose that is the only interesting thing left about the Giants' season: how do you run an offense in those circumstances? I'm glad I'm not Ben McAdoo...or Eli. It's bad enough that I'm me, seeing as I've already committed to traveling to NY to watch the Rams game next month. Before yesterday, I could at least look forward to watching Beckham live, but now...bleh.

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36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Todd S. // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:37am

Watched a few games yesterday and the most remarkable thing I saw was the Colts getting a sack using a 2-man rush. That's "two." Left side of Colts d-line dropped into coverage, yet somehow the 49ers O-line slid to the right. Along with their running back. So they had like 5 guys to block one on the right...and left Jabaal Sheard one-one-one with the left tackle. Sack. Would love to say great scheming from the Colts' defensive coordinator, but I have a feeling it has more to do with their now 0-5 opponent.

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82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Dave Bernreuther // Oct 09, 2017 - 2:22pm

Plus, even if it was a good design by Monachino, all credit for it gets revoked after the last two drives, in which they predictably rushed three every play, dropped 8 into coverage in a prevent, and still reliably gave up long completions and blew a 2-TD 4th quarter lead to a terrible team QBed by Hoyer.

I was also too distracted to notice the fun ways in which Pagano bungled the end of that game too. It really was a master class in not using one's brain at all.

That's now three late 2-score leads they've blown to bad teams this season at home. By the team with a prior reputation for starting slow and finishing strong. In the other two games, they've been blown off the field.

What's funny is that they're a game back of first place and an eyelash away from actually being 3-2.

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121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by dryheat // Oct 10, 2017 - 7:45am

I'm convinced that Chuck Pagano exists solely to prevent John Fox from being the worst coach in the NFL.

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40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Will Allen // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:54am

I hated the throw to Dez Bryant just before the Prscott td run. You have to give the best part of your team the opportunity to give the team the best chance to win, and that means letting the o-line score a td without clock stoppages. Make McCarthy make timeout decisions, or even make him decide whether to concede a td, in order to allow him to give the best part of his team a chance to win the game.

I've never been a fan of Garrett, but have cut him some slack, because the owner makes the team uncoachable, outside of the rare 800 pound gorilla HOFer. I really think he's pretty mediocre, however.

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45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 12:06pm

Mike McCarthy is right up there in terms of coaches between games but being as kind I can be to MM if you are getting outmaneuvered by McCarthy on game DAY you need to re-evaluate your approach.

Because game DAY tactics are not Mike's strength.

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47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Shylo // Oct 09, 2017 - 12:10pm

That two-play series in MIA/TEN was the worst refereeing I had seen since the Duke Johnson "fumble." It was a referee-driven 14 point swing, and there is no way in hell that should have been a defensive touchdown for Miami. There's no way in hell a fumble could go 15 yards forward, and even if you somehow think it does, they initially initially called it incomplete before somehow changing it to a fumble. Everyone thought the play is dead, and Miami players were coming onto the field for the presumed punt. It was a deadly 14-point swing in a low scoring game.

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48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 12:13pm

Rules question. I am very familiar with how the football breaking the 'plane' can result in a TD even if the runner/receiver/qb/whomever is pushed back. Does that also apply to first downs? I thought downs was tied to where the runner was touched/down and the ball position at that time?

Not complaining on the EE first down on 4th down. Just wondering as I thought there was a different standard.

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63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by ChrisS // Oct 09, 2017 - 1:15pm

Since Elliot stayed in continuous contact with the defense the ball is spotted at its maximum forward progress. If he would have somehow scrambled out of the pile and moved while untouched (forward or backward) then forward progress would depend on the next time he is contacted.

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66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Flounder // Oct 09, 2017 - 1:39pm

It seems very odd a player can stretch the ball out and then voluntarily retract it (thus protecting himself from a turnover) and have it be considered forward progress. It seems like it should fall under the same rubric of a player who catches the ball and voluntarily moves backwards. In both instances, the ball goes back as a result of the player's own voluntary movement, rather than involuntary movement caused by a defender.

Not saying you're wrong at all, just saying it doesn't strike me as logical.

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71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by nat // Oct 09, 2017 - 1:50pm

Ignore the TD rule. It's not relevant at all to this case. A TD ends a play. Period. Not so with a first down.

The rule you need to understand is "forward progress". It's a rule that applies to a "runner" or to a receiver with "firm grip and control of the ball while in the air".

The player is credited with advancing the ball to its furthest "forward progress" during the tackle that ended the play. He gets full credit for any advance he gets from fighting the tackle and/or extending the ball forward until the referee deems his (and the ball's) forward progress to be stopped.

This is different from, say, a runner thrusting the ball forward (and possibly pulling it back) before running out of bounds under his own power. In that case no forward progress would be awarded. Instead the referee would judge where the ball itself left the field to end the play. That's why you'll see smart players sometimes thrust the ball forward and hold it forward as they go out of bounds near the first down marker.

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74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 1:58pm

I certainly understand forward progress and am I wrong to take your use of quote marks as suggesting you think I am a halfwit?

That being stated he pulled the ball back on his own. That is what had me a bit puzzled. If I have seen that before on a non TD breaking the plane situation I don't recall.

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81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by nat // Oct 09, 2017 - 2:22pm

Not a halfwit at all. I took you as someone new to American football.

We get a fair number of those at FO, believe it or not. They often ask good questions about topics that the rest of us take for granted. And even if you weren't new, your question was the type of thing a new fan might be curious about. So it deserved an honest and clear answer.

The quoted items refer to specific terms or phrases in the rule book. That's for anyone who has access to the rule book and wants to look the rule(s) up for themselves.

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85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 2:35pm

I posed the same question on a SB Nation football forum and nobody was clear. And your response did not speak to the player extending and then retracting the ball as part of the play.


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93 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by ChrisS // Oct 09, 2017 - 3:35pm

The forward progress rule is that once the process of the tackle starts you spot the ball at its farthest point up the field. The cause of the ball moving forward is not relevant to the spot.

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94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 3:43pm

You misunderstand. The runner set the ball forward.......but then pulled it back.

All of us have seen that any number of times on goal line. Get that no issue.

But I don't recall a runner putting the ball out on first down and then pulling it back in real time and having the forward progress honored. I certainly have seen runners and receivers any number of times lay out while being tackled and letting the ball be out there when they were stopped.

I guess I am explaining this poorly since folks keep telling me the same thing without to my mind addressing this scenario.

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98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by nat // Oct 09, 2017 - 5:06pm

Ignore what you know about the goal line. It's a separate rule.

This is a forward progress play. Once the runner got tangled in the pileup at the line, it became a situation where forward progress could be granted. Because he never became untangled from the line and was eventually stopped by the defense, it stayed a situation where forward progress should be granted.

After that, it doesn't matter how the progress was achieved or exactly why it was stopped. It only matters how far the progress was.

In this case, the ball kept moving forward until the runner's arm was outstretched. Then it stopped moving forward for the last time.

End of play. Period.

Then he pulled it back.

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112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by big10freak // Oct 09, 2017 - 10:27pm

FWIW Mike Pereira and Dean Blandino do a weekly show that breaks down controversial calls, and Pereira said the rulebook isn't necessarily clear on the issue but that based on Elliott being in the air and in contact with a defender at the time he pulled the ball back, he would have given him the forward-most extension of the ball, citing a note from Rule 7, Section 3, Article 3 as justification:

When an airborne player of either team completes a catch or interception inbounds after an opponent has driven him backward, the ball is declared dead, and forward progress is awarded at the spot where the player established firm grip and control of the ball while in the air.

Based on that I don't think it's as clear cut as folks make it seem in this thread.

And to be clear, NOT complaining about the call or that explanations provided are wrong.

Just sharing other input

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127 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by ChrisS // Oct 10, 2017 - 10:14am

Thanks for the info. Spotting the ball is very subjective on most plays so i would agree that it is not clear cut since the original mark was short of the first. I think we all expect rules to be objective so our bias influences our comments and interpertations toward a hard and fast rule.

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100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by ChrisS // Oct 09, 2017 - 5:16pm

I have seen runners being tackled by one player (e.g. holding on to the ankle) realizing more tacklers were coming and then going down and perhaps backwards to avoid the hit. The ball "should" be spotted at the point furthest down field, not where the ball comes to rest.

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109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by EricL // Oct 09, 2017 - 9:00pm

But I don't recall a runner putting the ball out on first down and then pulling it back in real time and having the forward progress honored. I certainly have seen runners and receivers any number of times lay out while being tackled and letting the ball be out there when they were stopped.

If the player was in the process of being tackled when he did that, and that tackle is the one that ends the play, then the ball is supposed to be placed at the furthest point reached during that tackle, regardless of what happens after the ball reaches that point.

I have seen runners in 3rd/4th and short situations dive over the line, stick the ball out, then pull it back in after getting hit. Ball was placed at the furthest point it reached after contact was made.

Assuming no fumbles, not at the goal line, etc.

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55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by BJR // Oct 09, 2017 - 12:31pm

Not trying to start a Kaepernick debate, but for the love of God, how can Matt Cassel be starting an NFL game in 2017? The guy has been dreadful every single time he has seen the field for since 2010. To make matters worse Mariota has proven himself to be a significant injury risk so far in his career; backup QB is clearly a critical role on the Titans' roster. Having Cassel as your best option is utter negligence.

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57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Will Allen // Oct 09, 2017 - 12:37pm

There are a number of young guys with at least a hint of the skill set needed to efficiently back up Marriotta that, in seems to me, would have been a better choice than Cassell.

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58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Shylo // Oct 09, 2017 - 12:38pm

Complacency. For as much as I love Jon Robinson, he had a chance to improve on Cassel this past offseason and he didn't. Maybe he expected Tanney to beat out Cassel, and he legitimately didn't. But yes, Cassel is shot.

And no, I don't believe Mariota to be a significant injury risk, but that's another subject for another time.

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116 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by mshray63 // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:36pm

Oh,please...can we have a Kaepernick debate?

I mean, how can you even start with Cassel? The Niners need him back as badly as anybody, no?

Poll request: list your top 3 teams whose QBs suck worse than Kaepernick ever did.

de gustibus non disputandem est

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123 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by SFC B // Oct 10, 2017 - 8:56am

Kaepernick has been a bad QB since 2015 where his rushing value keeps him from being a sucking chest wound. I'd say that the Jets and Dolphins are the only teams whose QB situation would be improved by adding Kaepernick. CLE and CHI have bad QBs, but they're intentionally bad as part of a rebuild. SF is bad, and could probably use him, but that might be just too toxic for both of them. Brissett in IND is a younger version of Kaepernick, why should they want the original? The Ravens have too much money committed to Flacco, and I wouldn't bet on Kaepernick being an improvement. TEN should look to move on from Cassel as the back-up to Mariota, and it would be hard for Kaepernick to have been worse than Cassel was.

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126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by dryheat // Oct 10, 2017 - 9:34am

The reality is that it isn't worth the headaches for a team to bring in Kaepernick as a backup quarterback. Is he better than most backups in the NFL? Of course he is. But what owner or GM is going to want all the protests, boycotts, death threats, non-stop media(not to mention the very petty man in the white house)attention and the rest that are going to come with a backup quarterback? Would you want to deal with that situation for someone who ideally won't step on the field for your franchise?

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128 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by morganja // Oct 10, 2017 - 10:15am

He threw 16 TD with only 4 Int on the worst team in the NFL, while coming back from injury. He is far from bad. He is better than Cutler, Brissett, Cassel, Eli Manning at this point, Blake Bortles, Josh McCown, Hoyer, Manuel, Dalton, and Flacco.
And let's be serious. There is no way that the people who are all up in arms about the kneeling are ever going to forego the NFL, boycott it, or do anything except loudly sound off about it.
With all the injuries this year, the NFL needs all the exciting talent it can get.

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133 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by xydux // Oct 10, 2017 - 11:42am

Ratings are down this year and were down last year, and polling suggests that the protests are a decent part of it. Combine that with people on SBNation announcing that they are planning to boycott the NFL (at least until the protests die down), and it's completely possible that people who ARE all up in arms about the kneeling WOULD forego the NFL.

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140 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by joshthefunkdoc // Oct 10, 2017 - 7:53pm

I wouldn't put much stock in those statements. It reminds me a lot of of when players' strikes happen and people say they'll quit watching the sport; that has been studied and found to have no significant impact on attendance or ratings, time and time again.

I would put a lot of the ratings decline on people moving away from TV in general over time. Compare the NFL's ratings drop to that of virtually any other big TV show out there, and suddenly it looks a lot better. I would also place a bit of blame on how increasingly one-dimensional the play is - constant short passing is not very exciting to watch. All the negative news stories (concussions, domestic violence, etc.) may play a part but that's likely exaggerated as well.

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141 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by dryheat // Oct 10, 2017 - 10:28pm

Well, I live in suburban DC, which means my friends and neighbors skew towards military and ex-military. And I know many people who have stopped going to NFL games, stopped watching NFL games, and thrown NFL apparel away due to the kneeling. It is very much a real thing.

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134 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by theslothook // Oct 10, 2017 - 11:57am

"He threw 16 TD with only 4 Int on the worst team in the NFL..."

Worst team in the nfl in 2016(and 2017 and 2015...and so on) resides in a city in Ohio by the lake

When I read 16td and 4 ints, I was curious to see how those numbers jived with my memory of Kaep's awfulness. By qbr, he was ranked 23rd. But wait, a lot of that 23rd ranking was based on his running ability. His pass epa was -0.3, the only player with a negative pass epa. The second lowest was Case Keenum at 10.

Ok so not everyone likes QBR. Let's look at good old fashioned Pass ANYA. Kaep ranked 23rd in ANYA in 2016. He ranked 33rd in ANYA in 2015. And 25th in ANYA in 2014. A clear picture is emerging.

His completion percentage was also awful. The more you look at it, the more you see that avoiding ints was about the only thing he did well. Ok thats a good skill, but so did Tebow and no one is calling for him to return. And btw, i bet a good chunk of that int avoidance is done through the sheer virtue of being inaccurate most of the time. DBS tend to follow the receivers most of the time and if a pass is nowhere near the target, its likely the db is nowhere near to intercept it.

In summary - at this point - Kaep seems like a high end backup/fringe starter at best. Echoing something DryHeat wrote, why would anyone go through all the media headache for a backup qb? Does an owner, gm, coach want to deal with persistent questions, especially when the President is tweeting about it nonstop?

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135 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by SFC B // Oct 10, 2017 - 12:42pm

Last year Dalton was a top 10 QB and the year before he was a Top 5. Maybe he's Schaubs it up this year but he's got a longer track record of success with a higher peak than Kaepernick; there is no way it is clear that Kaep would improve Cincy's QB situation. Manning has run hot and cold, but he's not being benched for a back-up quality QB brought in mid-season. Flacco was as bad as Kaepernick back when there was still hope for Kaepernick, he's also sporting an albatross of a contract; much like Eli, he's not getting benched in mid-season for a QB that is likely not as good. Bortles is Bortles, but he's also generated more DYAR in 5 games than Kaepernick generated in the previous 2 years (138 to -190 something). SSS and all, but the Jags aren't going to be made better by replacing the Bort with the Kaep.

Even the Bad Kaepernick we saw the past few years is probably a better back-up QB than Matt Cassel and Not Caring Jay Cutler. Most everyone else you listed is at least as good right now, or has a more recent history of being MUCH better, or is Joe Flacco.

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137 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Bright Blue Shorts // Oct 10, 2017 - 4:33pm

As an ex-starter with SB experience, how much do you think Kaep wants to be paid? And is it the going rate for a backup?

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144 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Mr Shush // Oct 13, 2017 - 8:23pm

I mean that's a key question, right? Like, for all I know, he might be willing to suit up for the veteran minimum. If that's the case, then it absolutely is politics that's keeping him out of the league. But equally, maybe he wants $10m a year, in which case no team would do that deal even if the only knees he was taking were to wind out the clock.

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64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by ChrisS // Oct 09, 2017 - 1:28pm

Brian said "The drive sputters out as Eric Ebron drops a perfectly thrown pass in the end zone". If I remember that ball went untouched(?) through the defenders hands about 2 yards in front of Ebron, having a ball go out of sight like that makes a catch extremely difficult (it did hit him in the hands). But, yeah Ebron sucks at catching footballs. With Fells on the roster I don't think Ebron should get a pass thrown to him the rest of the year/career as a Lion.

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67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by ChrisLong // Oct 09, 2017 - 1:44pm

Yes it definitely was a near-miss by multiple defenders.

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65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by bravehoptoad // Oct 09, 2017 - 1:35pm

Mack hasn't really made much of an impact on this season so far, but his speed gives the Colts' running a game a dimension that Frank Gore didn't have when he was in his prime, much less today.

Frank Gore in his prime was a real burner. The problem is, that Frank Gore didn't make it out of college before tearing his ACL.

The guy's had a great career. Imagine how good if he'd entered the NFL with a 40 time two-tenths of a second faster.

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91 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Duff Soviet Union // Oct 09, 2017 - 3:25pm

Nice to see Tennessee's owner cares more about being racist than winning football games. Great priorities there.

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105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by liquidmuse3 // Oct 09, 2017 - 7:24pm

I know I’m the last person on the planet to still think this, but with all the horrific QB play in the NFL, are we sure Tim Tebow shouldn’t have a job somewhere? You know Tebow, whose second to last start saw him lighting up the #1 pass defense for 316? Imagine him playing in Jacksonville if they’re really gonna do the “protect ourselves from the QB” bit, especially with 5 years experience. Kid never threw picks, and always “knew how to win” (which one of the stat heads up above admitted is sort of a skill).

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106 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by ChrisLong // Oct 09, 2017 - 8:01pm

Because Tim Tebow never threw completions either. Under 50% completion rate, and under 150 yards/game. I'm a Gator and I'll love him til the end of time for what he did at UF, but the guy just wasn't good enough for the NFL.

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110 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by EricL // Oct 09, 2017 - 9:05pm

By any objective measure of QB play, Tim Tebow is not an NFL-caliber quarterback.

By any subjective measure of QB play, Tim Tebow showed little idea how NFL football is played, and once defenses adjusted to him, had very little ability to be successful.

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118 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Will Allen // Oct 10, 2017 - 2:28am

What, Tebow knew how to get the Broncos' field goal kicker to have an excellent season, and to have opposing running backs run out of bounds?

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122 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by jtr // Oct 10, 2017 - 8:52am

I call his lack of interceptions "The Tebow Effect", where a lot of his passes were so far from any of his receivers that there wasn't a defender around to have a shot of an interception. And as mentioned above, anybody with a completion percentage under 50% in the modern NFL is entirely unplayable.

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111 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by vrao81 // Oct 09, 2017 - 9:10pm

The Vikings have a grand total of 2 yards of offense after the 1st quarter, gaining 0.2 yards per play.

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115 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by mshray63 // Oct 09, 2017 - 11:32pm

Vince, I can't agree with you more.

The 'Hawks didn't win this, the Rams lost this game. In our current age of hyperbole and fake news, the Rams literally had not one but two TDs off their fingertips. And the 'Hawks got at least 2 of their turnovers by the same margin.

Diehard Seahawks fan for 37 years (not my age...when I moved to SEA), and I'm pretty sure this is the only game - that they actually won - that was even comes close to the win in the Fail Mary game.

99.9 times out of a 100 the Rams go to halftime with a lead, and even if they didn't, they go on to score the winning points on their last drive.

But I'll take it. Good karma after they got used by the refs in game 1.

--de gustibus non disputandem est

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117 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Perfundle // Oct 10, 2017 - 1:11am

"Diehard Seahawks fan for 37 years (not my age...when I moved to SEA), and I'm pretty sure this is the only game - that they actually won - that was even comes close to the win in the Fail Mary game. "

Are you serious? I've only been a Seattle fan since Wilson arrived, and I can think of at least one game that was worse than this one.

2013, 14-9 at Rams. Outgained by 204 yards (compared to 134 Sunday), lost TOP by a two to one margin, and ended the exact same way with the Seahawks stopping the Rams on 4th down on the last play of the game. The Rams missed a field goal on the previous drive that would've put them in position to win with a field goal on the last one.

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130 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by mshray63 // Oct 10, 2017 - 11:25am

I see your point, but I remember that game as well & I just think the Seahawks looked worse this time. That's subjective on my part. And I would argue that a missed field goal does not compare with a fumble that hits the pylon. I think that's not terribly subjective on my part.

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131 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by dmstorm22 // Oct 10, 2017 - 11:30am

I think the difference is that year the Rams game was something of an aberration, unexpected in a season of mostly dominance.

This was different, this came after the Seahawks lost in Green Bay, lost in Tennessee looking quite poor, were barely beating Jacoby Brissett through 2.5 quarters, and struggled against the 49ers at home.

It's more of a trend this year it seems.

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119 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by t.d. // Oct 10, 2017 - 2:47am

Jacksonville is the obvious, natural destination for Kaep. It's practically negligent that they haven't done their due diligence. Also, I think it's premature to call the afc south easy 'this' year, when none of the teams has looked bad with non-Cassel, non-Tolzien options at quarterback (wasn't long ago the NFC east was trash, and the NFC south before that- these things change, quickly)

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120 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by Theo // Oct 10, 2017 - 6:49am

The screen says that the whitecap of the day is "Jerome Bogger", his name is Jerome Boger.

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136 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by JudoPrince03 // Oct 10, 2017 - 4:26pm

" If you told me he'd (Cam Newton) do that after the way the first three games went, I never would have believed you."

Cam missed the entire offseason and just began practicing again two weeks ago. Add in better pass protection and improved production from the skill positions and its really not that hard to see a former MVP returning back to form. How could you not see this coming?

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138 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by theslothook // Oct 10, 2017 - 5:59pm

Cuz he had a poor season 1 year after his mvp season.

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139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

by dmstorm22 // Oct 10, 2017 - 7:21pm

I mean, as of now 2015 is the big outlier.

I personally think stats underrate Newton because:

- His teams have never had that much offense talent around him
- Rushing value (not included in many advanced stats)
- Their offense is predicated on more high-risk, low-percentage throws more than others

That said, Newton has been great these past two weeks. Is this is the Newton from here on out this year, the Panthers are a scary team.

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