Audibles at the Line

Unfiltered in-game observations by Football Outsiders staff

Audibles at the Line: Week 3

compiled by Andrew Potter

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around emails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).

On Monday, we compile a digest of those emails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

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

Oakland Raiders 20 at Miami Dolphins 28

Zach Binney: Just to be first on the record here, now that everyone's talking about Florida teams being 6-0 I bet they go no better than 1-2 this week. It feels like a trap game for Miami and Fitzmagic turns back into a pumpkin this week.

Aaron Schatz: The Dolphins have forgotten to cover the middle of the field today. Halfway through the first quarter and Jordy Nelson already has 139 yards and a touchdown. The first two catches were against huge holes in zone in the middle of the field: linebacker stayed up, safety went a different direction in the back, and Nelson was wide open. Third catch was man coverage where Nelson just blew past Bobby McCain and then Minkah Fitzpatrick had, once again, gone the other direction as the deep safety. The Raiders clearly saw something on film about where the safeties tend to go in deep coverage. Raiders got up to fourth-and-goal and went for it from the 1, but got stuffed on a fullback give to Keith Smith, so it's still just 7-0 Oakland.

Zach Binney: Well, Miami IS a popular destination for old men, and Jordy Nelson seems right at home. Three catches for 139 yards already, but a fourth-down goal-line stand by Miami has them only down 7-0 midway through the first. With safety Reshad Jones out with a shoulder issue the Dolphins defense looks in complete disarray early in this one. They're frantically calling out signals and resetting through the snap. They just look unprepared.

Aaron Schatz: Dolphins throw a 4-yard crosser to DeVante Parker on third-and-8. The Jarvis Landry offense lives without Jarvis Landry. Meanwhile in Cleveland, Landry is running real routes now.

Zach Binney: Still doesn't look like the Dolphins know what they're doing as they had three guys covering, I believe, Amari Cooper deep. Fortunately for them, Derek Carr decided to chuck it up for an easy pick.

Then Miami promptly gets a holding penalty, runs up the middle for a couple yards, and throws two passes behind the line of scrimmage. The fans are, rightly, a little displeased.

And on the ensuing punt we have a touchback that places the ball on the Raiders 2 because of a block in the back at the 4. That's a fun line for the stat book.

It's hard to tell exactly what happened, but you could make an argument that the new body weight sack rule just CAUSED an injury to Miami's William Hayes. He sacked Carr squarely and then tried to kick his right leg out to avoid putting his whole weight on Carr. His knee hit awkwardly and he limped off the field after a visit from the trainers. I wonder, if he had been able to go squarely through Carr, if he wouldn't have hurt his knee.

Aaron Schatz: The Dolphins finally remembered on their last drive of the first half that they have passes in the playbook in between 2 and 30 yards. Bing, bing, bing, three quick first downs, offense finally looks really good, and then it all got bogged up in penalties that ended up knocking them out of field goal range, 10-7 Oakland at halftime.

Zach Binney: Oh my word. The Dolphins take their first lead of the game on a flip back to Albert Wilson, who then passed it to a wide open Jakeem Grant. Two nifty jukes by Grant later, and Miami is up 21-17. I forget where I saw it, but this week at least one writer wrote about Wilson's versatility and noted he played quarterback in high school. Miami certainly leveraged his talents there, though Grant was so wide open I'm pretty sure at least half our writers could've made that throw.

Aaron Schatz: Dolphins deep in the playbook today. They have just 9 yards on ten carries with regular running back handoffs. But they got an 18-yard touchdown on one of those touch passes from Ryan Tannehill to Grant, those little forward flips that are really run plays but count as pass plays. Then the wide receiver option pass from Wilson to Grant for another touchdown. Did we all remember to play Jakeem Grant in DFS today? No?

The other major storyline in the Dolphins-Raiders game is that injuries have really hurt the Dolphins' ability to rotate their defensive linemen, so those guys are tired. Marshawn Lynch is breaking through them and pushing for an extra couple yards on each run but it doesn't really feel like the Raiders passing game can take advantage of it. Raiders are also down a guy, Donald Penn got a concussion so they have T.J. Clemmings (awful in Minnesota) now playing right tackle.

Bryan Knowles: The Raiders are now the second team in NFL history to be leading at halftime in their first three games ... and end up at 0-3.

Green Bay Packers 17 at Washington Redskins 31

Vince Verhei: Broadcast opens with a graphic showing that Jay Gruden's win-loss record is much better when his team scores first. (I suspect this is true of all coaches, of course.) Just a few plays into the game, Paul Richardson puts Gruden and Washington ahead 7-0 on a 46-yard touchdown, the rare deep ball from Alex Smith. Jaire Alexander and Kentrell Brice had Richardson in bracket coverage and he just ran right between and by them on a skinny post.

Bryan Knowles: I do hate stats like that; teams in general have a .682 winning percentage when scoring first (since 2015), and 28 of 32 teams have a winning record then. Everyone's better when scoring first!

That being said, there may be something to the Gruden first-drive success; Jon Gruden's Raiders scored on their first drive today (thanks to a 60-yard pass to Jordy Nelson); they've scored on their first drive in all three of their games so far, something they did just five times in 2017.

Aaron Schatz: We did run with one of those "score first" winning percentage stats in the book this year, but Jacksonville was 10-2 in that situation last year, a lot better than the general .682 winning percentage.

Vince Verhei: Washington leads 28-10 at the half and it doesn't feel like it has been that close. Packers would be down by more if not for two big Washington mistakes. Jordan Reed quit on a route and gave up an easy interception to Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and then Josh Norman didn't get the safety help he was expecting when released Geronimo Allison inside, leading to a 64-yard touchdown.

Otherwise, Washington's old men are just having their way with Green Bay's young secondary. Smith has 214 yards and two touchdowns on only 15 throws. Adrian Peterson has 87 yards and two touchdowns on only 12 carries. Vernon Davis has a 50-yard catch.

Biggest news might be a pair of injuries, one to each team. Muhammad Wilkerson was carted off after a teammate hit him in the legs. He looked to be in great pain. And Morgan Moses has left for Washington with a concussion.

Packers open the first half with a 15-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, capping it off with Rodgers-to-Adams with the goal-line slant pick play that apparently always works unless you are the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. Then they force a three-and-out and quickly reach Washington territory, and it looks like things are about to get very interesting. But then they go for it on fourth-and-2 at the 43. It looks like they convert, but on instant replay it's clear that Randall Cobb dropped the pass and Washington takes over.

And then -- stop me if you've heard this before -- Clay Matthews gets a sack, but it's wiped out on a rougher the passer penalty. Helmet hit the shoulder pad, so that's not it. Never touched his legs. I guess it's the "landing on the quarterback" rule, but, I mean, it's a tackle. It's a sack. Sometimes when humans tackle other humans they land on them. I really don't know what else he's supposed to do. I'd start coaching guys to wrap up, but don't put him down. Make the refs call in the grasp, I guess.

Bryan Knowles: The next time Clay Matthews breaks into the backfield, he's going to ignore the quarterback and just tackle the referee instead. This was ruled roughing:

Dave Bernreuther: Clay Matthews should just walk off the field and retire, Vontae Davis-style, after that RTP call.

It's not quite as terrible as last week's, but it's still terrible. He was running full speed. He didn't touch the head or use any kind of excessive violence at all. He tackled the quarterback in the only way that was possible. And once again, was flagged and extended a drive. What a joke.

Andrew Potter: The most damning thing for me, on that Matthews sack, is that he had just made what should have been a terrific defensive play, yet he was immediately worried that he was going to be flagged for it. Of course he was right to be worried, because the NFL's current interpretation of the roughing rule is beyond stupid.

Indianapolis Colts 16 at Philadelphia Eagles 20

Scott Kacsmar: Maybe there was a slight deflection I missed, but how was Andrew Luck able to throw to center Ryan Kelly on third down to avoid a sack and not get a penalty? A center cannot declare as an eligible receiver if he is at his normal position of center. Kelly was not downfield blocking at least, but that just seemed like something that should get flagged and wasn't. It's not a big deal since the drive was over, but if a team was to do that on first down to save about 5 yards of field position, then I think that'd be an advantage to exploit at times.

The Eagles scored a touchdown on Carson Wentz's opening drive after the Colts had a lot of trouble guarding the two tight ends.

Vince Verhei: Andrew Luck hits Ryan Grant for a touchdown to tie the score at 7, but he has now completed seven passes that have gained a total of 24 yards. Are we sure his shoulder's not still hurt?

Scott Kacsmar: Luck had a sweet 33-yard scramble to convert a third-and-9. That's the Colts' longest play of the season. He's still sitting on 24 yards with his 11 throws. On the plus side, the defense has gotten after Wentz on subsequent drives following a bad start.

Colts catch a big break. They blew a coverage to leave Wendell Smallwood wide open down the seam, but the pass wasn't perfect so he fell down after the catch instead of scoring. On first-and-goal, a bad snap meant Wentz had to eat the ball and that turned it into a second-and-14 situation. Colts held to force a field goal, but that bad snap (it has been raining) was just a good break for Indy.

It will go down as a dropped touchdown for Chester Rogers, but I thought Luck had the space to run for a first down on third-and-4. He was a little high with the throw, but Rogers has to come down with that one. They settle for a tying field goal that Adam Vinatieri just snuck inside the right post.

Dave Bernreuther: He did, Scott, but I don't blame him for throwing that one, it should've been caught.

Luck looks like he's raising his arm up as one motion, then throwing it with just his wrist. It's weird. But a few plays earlier (prior to the nice fourth-down conversion) he was lucky not to be intercepted on a floater he threw to a wide open T.Y. Hilton that arrived about a full second late. Granted, he was throwing from the far hash, but that ball just hung up there forever. His mind and his accuracy look to have returned, but I've seen a few throws today that make me wonder if maybe he actually has lost a bit of velocity after all. I had previously dismissed such criticism as lazy. Now I'm not so sure.

A Wentz pick -- telegraphing a throw to a covered Zach Ertz -- sets the Colts up inside the red zone again, where Chester Rogers drops his second consecutive touchdown pass (although in this case it doesn't count due to holding). If the Colts can convert here, they'll have a lead in a game where they were completely outplayed in the first half.

Scott Kacsmar: Some of Luck's passes have definitely floated. He gave Eric Ebron a shot in the end zone on another third down, but Jalen Mills did a good job on the coverage despite the size disadvantage. Still, that's an opportunity you'd like to see your big free agent signing make a play on. Colts lead 13-10.

Dave Bernreuther: The Colts are still not a very good team, so while they were leading, they were winning ugly, and it took a fair amount of good fortune in the form of Wentz red zone turnovers for them to be in the lead. So it seemed like it'd only be a matter of time ... and it was. A long, long time. The Eagles cap a drive that took the better part of an hour -- featuring several drive-extending penalties (some of which were actually deserved) -- with a Wendell Smallwood touchdown dive, and the better team is winning again.

That said, Leonard and Hunt are playing their hearts out for the Colts defense. And this shift back to a Tampa-2 with an unknown defensive coordinator and all new personnel has led to a significant improvement over the past few years. They don't look GOOD ... but they no longer look like a laughingstock either.

I'll just come right out and say it: Andrew Luck looks terrible right now.

He just missed Eric Ebron -- badly -- for what should've been an easy touchdown. Running right to left, he had a step on the defender, and Luck was both slow/late and just flat out inaccurate, throwing way behind him. After a short throw over the middle to get them closer on the next play, he then overthrew Hilton (I think -- the feed went out) on a fade, leaving the Colts with a decisive fourth-and-goal. Which I now can't watch.

OK, I saw the replay. Ugh. That was a hideous combination of ugly and unlucky. Luck falls down at the 20 after contact, and it looks like the Eagles will escape.

Bryan Knowles: The Colts pulled Andrew Luck for the Hail Mary, turning to Jacoby Brissett. Brissett gets it into the end zone, but it's batted down and the Eagles win.

How bad is Luck's shoulder if you pull him there? Wow. Can't throw the ball 50 yards in the air?

Scott Kacsmar: Luck would have needed about a 60-yard throw to do the Hail Mary justice. That's not the biggest ask of any starting quarterback in the NFL, so I do find that to be concerning that they had to put Brissett in off the bench for that one. This offense just looks bad so far. I can see changing the scheme in an order to get the ball out more quickly to keep Luck healthier, but after three games of this, I'm really wondering if this is just how he's going to be post-surgery. It's a sad thought really.

Dave Bernreuther: After a fun punt return wherein Colts defender George Odum managed to commit TWO penalties (though the block in the back looked like it was in the side to me), Luck throws way behind an open Eric Ebron AGAIN, leading to a double bobble and only one foot in for the incompletion, and then for a short completion before ... being relieved by Brissett for the final play.

To be fair, Brissett's Hail Mary throw was pretty close to perfect.

But yeah, that does speak volumes about Luck and Reich's trust in that right shoulder.

The final line today for Andrew Luck showed 6.6 yards per completion. Not per attempt, but per COMPLETION.

Yes, this was a road game in the elements against last year's Super Bowl winner. But the Eagles didn't win because of their defense. And while Luck floated several balls and missed on others, he's still smart and he's still accurate. Some of that stat line is from some very timid play calling, which popped up throughout the game as well. It wasn't Pep Hamilton-like combinations of multiple routes with no chance of success, but it was certainly a lot of quick-release short passes, which to my eyes today came to covered guys without much hope for YAC. They're either afraid of the offensive line (justified, I guess, but their offensive line woes have always been overstated due to the sacks that were Luck's or Brissett's fault) or they're still hiding something about Luck's arm. And after today, every defensive coordinator in the league should start cheating up and daring Luck to beat them deep.

Hopefully it's just growing pains. And maybe in a month this will all be in the past. But right now, the common opinion is that Luck's arm strength is poor ... and as much as it pains this contrarian Colts fan to admit, they're right.

Vince Verhei: Chase Stuart on Andrew Luck:

New Orleans Saints 43 at Atlanta Falcons 37 (OT)

Bryan Knowles: Speaking of scoring first, the Saints got out of their Week 2 funk fairly quickly. They open the game with three successive first downs, finding the end zone to take an early 7-0 lead. There was tons of concern in New Orleans this week, wondering why the Saints had so much trouble against the Browns; they appear to be fine.

The Saints made a change at corner this week, benching the struggling Ken Crawley and replacing him with P.J. Williams. It hasn't quite worked so far; Calvin Ridley has been beating Williams fairly consistently. On Atlanta's last drive, Ridley converted a third-and-10 and then immediately caught an 18-yard touchdown against Williams to tie the game.

"18-yard" touchdown is the key bit here. The Falcons have now scored on five consecutive trips to the red zone, which is a relief after their opening-game (and all of last season) struggles.

Dave Bernreuther: What happened to the aggressive and confident Sean Payton? After a long drive and with the ball on the 3, at home, with that defense, he sends out the field goal unit? I am not amused.

Vince Verhei: Big news at halftime is that Drew Brees has 20 completions and has broken Brett Favre's career record of 6,300. He tied the record on what was technically a failed completion, a 10-yard gain on third-and-14, but it set up Will Lutz for a 49-yard field goal attempt. Lutz's boot hit the upright but doinked through, and that has been the difference in the game so far as New Orleans leads 16-14.

Otherwise, not a ton to say. Two good team are both playing well. Calvin Ridley has been Atlanta's star -- after his early success, he beat the formerly good Marshon Lattimore for a 75-yard touchdown. I don't know this, but it feels like Lattimore has given up more long touchdowns in the first ten quarters of 2018 than he did in all of 2017.

Bryan Knowles: Another touchdown for Calvin Ridley, and the Saints' secondary is just swiss cheese at this point. Patrick Robinson was carted off the field with a leg injury on the previous play, so the already undermanned and underpeforming Saints are in serious trouble. Marcus Williams was the closest defender on the Ridley touchdown, and he wasn't really that close.

The Falcons still have no idea how to use Julio in the red zone, but at least they've figured out other options. 21-16 Falcons.

Special teams coming up huge for the Saints. Alex Okafor blocks a Falcons punt, giving the Saints the ball inside the red zone. Five plays later, Cameron Meredith finds the end zone, and the Saints regain the lead, 23-21.

Calvin Ridley may be having a day, but Michael Thomas is trying to match him on the other side. No, he's not finding the end zone, but he has been targeted six times, and has six catches, including a clutch third-down conversion there to make sure that it was a touchdown, not a field goal, on the short field.

Make it seven straight trips to the red zone ending in scores for the Falcons. We slammed on Steve Sarkisian tons during the opening night game, so credit where credit is due; the Falcons offense looks a lot better close to the goal line now. Fewer utterly baffling play calls and more just letting the exceptionally talented skill positions, you know, do football things. Two-point conversion is good, and it's 29-23 Falcons. This has been a fun second half.

We asked where the aggressive and confident Sean Payton went earlier in this game. At least he made the right call when the situation was most dire -- Saints go for it on fourth-and-1, and Drew Brees hits Zach Line for the go-ahead touchdown. Seventh lead change of the game!

Special teams saved the Saints earlier, and now they kill them. The Saints finally manage to stop the Falcons in the red zone, forcing a field goal -- but they get called for leaping. Very next play, Matt Ryan throws his fifth touchdown of the day, hitting the two-point conversion as well, and it's 37-30, Falcons.

This is a classic 2016 (and 2015, and 2014, and 2013...) Saints/Falcons game, here.

Dave Bernreuther: I believe it was contact with the long snapper, not leaping, in Atlanta.

Either way, that's pretty terrible.

Vince Verhei: I can't keep track of everything happening in this game, but as you read this, it's safe to assume somebody just blocked a punt or scored a touchdown.

Bryan Knowles: Michael Thomas, targeted 10 times. Ten receptions, 129 yards. He cannot be covered.

And, hey, no missed field goal in overtime! The Saints take the overtime kickoff and march down the field. Fourteen plays, 77 yards, capped off by a game-winning touchdown dive from Drew Brees. Don't settle for field goals; let your stars win the game. Send this game film to Minnesota, Green Bay, Baltimore, and Cleveland.

San Francisco 49ers 27 at Kansas City Chiefs 38

Bryan Knowles: Tackling is so important; Fred Warner whiffed on Kareem Hunt on a third-and-1 that could have stopped the Chiefs back in their own territory.

Converting is so important. On a fourth-and-1 later in the drive, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs ran an option to convert, rather than settling for a field goal. That extends the drive, and they end up cashing in for a touchdown and an early 7-0 lead.

Derrik Klassen: Chiefs got into a fourth-and-1 just outside the red zone and wasted no time in keeping the offense onto the field. Initially came out in a tight under-center formation, but Patrick Mahomes made a switch at the line and shifted into a shotgun look with the running back away from the formation. True to Andy Reid's spread form, the Chiefs ran speed option to the boundary and Mahomes was able to scoot past the marker. The Chiefs punched it into the end zone a few players later.

I know going for that fourth-and-1 should be common sense, but to see no hesitation in going for it there from Reid and Mahomes was nice. That is the type of play calling you want to see from a winning team.

Aaron Schatz: Pet peeve: play-by-play guy in this game called it a "read option." Announcers, please know the difference between speed option and read option.

Derrik Klassen: Chiefs just got bailed out on third-and-16 by a defensive pass interference that could have and should have been avoided by the 49ers. Since the penalty was in the end zone, Chiefs got the ball right near the goal line and punched in another score on the ground.

Chiefs also evaded a third-and-15 or so with a good screen play to set up the fourth-and-1 earlier. If the 49ers are going to just keep gifting the Chiefs conversions on third-and-long after stiffing them the first two plays, they are going to be in for a long, long day.

Bryan Knowles: Patrick Mahomes is insane. San Francisco finally gets some pressure on him, but Mahomes scrambles around and unleashes a heck of a sidearm dart to the end zone. 21-7, and the Chiefs haven't missed an offensive beat. Even with that defense, I'm finding it hard to not think that they're the second-best team in the AFC.

Derrik Klassen: Mahomes just ran at least 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage to escape the 49ers pass rush and ... delivered a strike in the back corner of the end zone on the run. Myself and many others expected Mahomes to be good and exciting, but this good, this early? Mahomes feels nearly unprecedented. This is 1984 Dan Marino stuff.

Bryan Knowles: The question now is not "if" Mahomes will pass Peyton Manning's record for passing touchdowns in the first three weeks of the season, but by how many. He has two today, bringing his total for the year to 12, tying Manning's rate the year he threw 55 touchdowns. He's just finding everyone, everywhere all the time. The 49ers' defense hasn't been great this year, but Mahomes just is not in any way, shape, or form bothered by either the coverage or the pass rush. He's exceptional, and having another exceptional day.

It doesn't help that the 49ers have seven penalties for 91 yards already in the first half; the Chiefs don't really need so many extra chances, but they're certainly taking advantage of them. Oh, and Matt Breida, the league's leading rusher, just went down on a non-contact injury, meaning the 49ers will be down to their third running back, Alfred Morris.

28-7, and this one feels over before halftime.

Derrik Klassen: So uhh ... how many passes is Chad Henne going to throw today?

Bryan Knowles: I love watching Patrick Mahomes, and I love the new NextGen Stats play visualizations. With their power combined, I present you to diagram of the amazing, sidearmed scrambling touchdown from earlier in the first half.

Derrik Klassen: It's amazing how much better San Francisco's offense looks in the second half now that they are not committing as many penalties and dropping passes. Still a couple scores down to Kansas City, but after just having scored to make the game 35-24, it is refreshing to see the offense with some life now. Also worth noting that Kansas City's offense is 0-for-2 on their drives in the second half thus far. We have a game again!

Bryan Knowles: The 49ers have been fighting back furiously in the second half ... but Jimmy Garoppolo's knee just buckled, and he has been carted into the locker room. C.J. Beathard comes in and throws a touchdown pass ... but it's called back by a (fairly ticky-tack, if I can give a biased opinion) OPI, and the 49ers have to settle for a field goal.

38-27 Chiefs, but no 49ers fan is looking at the scoreboard right now; they're all worried about Jimmy G's knee.

Andrew Potter: Ticky-tack is the biased opinion ... in favor of the Chiefs. Appalling is the unbiased one. It should never in a million years have been a penalty. Kyle Juszczyk was jammed on his route by, I believe, Anthony Hitchens, and waved a hand in the air as the pass fluttered by him to George Kittle in the back corner of the end zone. Somehow, that resulted in Juszczyk being called for offensive pass interference, despite him doing absolutely nothing to block Kittle open.

Bryan Knowles: They say it's an ACL for Jimmy Garoppolo, with an MRI tomorrow to confirm.

Expletive deleted.

Scott Kacsmar: Mahomes and Garoppolo were two of the biggest wild cards coming into 2018. I didn't think either of these teams was Super Bowl-ready, but if those quarterbacks could live up to the potential, then all bets were off. Garoppolo didn't start out as a stud this year, but it's terrible that he likely tore his ACL. You just lose so much interest in that team if C.J. Beathard is the quarterback the rest of the way. At least it has happened early enough that he should be fine by Week 1 of next season, but still hate to see another major quarterback injury.

As for the Chiefs, what a dynamite start on offense again. Hard to feel bad about what the Chargers and Steelers did against this unit when it started the game today with five touchdown drives. Mahomes has been magnificent and most of the games I can't wait to see on the 2018 schedule involve the Chiefs now. They're the first team in NFL history to start 3-0 after allowing more than 24 points in each game. That's not going to be sustainable, and there will come a day when Mahomes is clearly off or rattled by a defense. But if that only happens twice a season, doesn't happen in the playoffs, or the defense can finally step up the day it happens, then the Chiefs should be just fine.

Tennessee Titans 9 at Jacksonville Jaguars 6

Bryan Knowles: Troubles in Tennessee. Marcus Mariota started the game on the bench, as his elbow injury hadn't healed enough to start the game today. He was active, though, and that becomes critical now, as Blaine Gabbert has left after getting clobbered; he's in the medical tent in what looks like the concussion protocol.

So, Mariota can't grip the ball, but he's in at quarterback now. That may be less than ideal.

Dave Bernreuther: Still probably better than Gabbert, though. Either way, the Jaguars defense is probably going to have some fun.

Scott Kacsmar: Must be opposite day in the NFL. Remember when the Jaguars looked so good last week against New England in what may have been the best game Blake Bortles ever played? They're in a 3-3 tie at halftime at home with the Titans, who have 1 net passing yard from Marcus Mariota and Blaine Gabbert. The Titans would be up 6-3, but Ryan Succop missed a 48-yard field goal to end the half. Titans swept the Jaguars last year, but with the quarterback situation and a rookie head coach, you would think the Jaguars would be doing much better than this.

Tom Gower: Halftime in Jacksonville with the Titans and Jaguars level at 3. The score accurately reflects the level of offensive competence displayed by the teams through two quarters. Blake Bortles, not good for seven of eight quarters against Tennessee last year, is back to missing easy throws after last week's fine performance, with drops an issue when he has gotten the ball close. The Titans can't run with consistency, Gabbert is hurt, Marcus has no grip, and T.J. Yates is sitting on his couch.

Vince Verhei: The stats, the result, the winner, the loser, these are all secondary as far as I am concerned. This game is historic just because the Jaguars are wearing white shirts and teal pants together for the first time even though that combo has been available in pretty much every NFL video game since they joined the league a couple of decades ago.

Dave Bernreuther: Do you like that look, though, Vince? I think it looks awful. And I like teal. Maybe it's partly the clash with the Titans' light blue on the field at the same time, but my eyes are really not happy, and I'm not talking about the quality of play.

Bryan Knowles: The teal pants look good, but Dave is right; the clash with the Titans' light blue makes the game annoying to watch. Well, more annoying than it otherwise would be.

Dave Bernreuther: After a laugher of a last-ditch lateral play, the home crowd boos the Jags off the field, and after that woofer, we may have seen the last of the teal pants.

The good news for the Jags is that even the Super Bowl winning/contending Seahawks teams were good for a 9-6 game every once in a while, so it's still possible to be a great team despite laying the occasional egg.

Meanwhile, by the stats, Blaine Gabbert is now 2-0 as a starting quarterback. In 2018.

Vince Verhei: Wait, what?! Tennessee WON? I actually hadn't seen any of that game since halftime. That's ... wow. Blake Bortles was so good last week.

Tom Gower: Tennessee's offense worked a bit better in the second half. There was still very little explosive element to it. Their longest gain of the day was 22 yards, where Corey Davis eluded A.J. Bouye and Telvin Smith for maybe 15 yards after catch. Their second-longest pass gained 12 yards. But Jacksonville didn't have a play longer than 19 yards on their own and there were no big special teams plays or turnovers (until the Jaguars lateralfest at the end of the game failed), so that the Titans managed to cadge together two drives versus just one for the Jaguars in a pretty fast-moving second half was the difference in the game.

Takeaways from this game? I mentioned Bortles' struggles at halftime, and they continued into the second half. No big plays, and not even a steady diet of intermediate plays. For the Titans, they're just trying to stay alive offensively with baling wire and string and hope it's enough. It has been for two division games, surprisingly. Hopefully, one day, eventually Marcus Mariota's nerve will heal and he'll be able to throw the ball again and do what they spent all offseason planning to do instead of going extremely run-heavy even if they're only getting 3 yards per carry (Dion Lewis/Derrick Henry a combined 27 carries for 83 yards today).

Buffalo Bills 27 at Minnesota Vikings 6

Scott Kacsmar: Rare to see a 17-point favorite in Week 3, but Buffalo going to Minnesota did look like a big mismatch. However, it's hard to account for a pair of strip-sacks like Kirk Cousins gave up in the game's first 10 minutes. That led to two short fields and 10 easy points for the Bills, who already had a long touchdown drive led by Josh Allen. This looks pretty bad and completely blows up the idea that Latavius Murray was going to be a good fantasy play with Dalvin Cook out. Vikings can't totally abandon the run yet, but Cousins will have to throw a lot here.

A 17-point underdog hasn't won outright in the NFL since Washington shocked Dallas in 1995 in a game I honestly don't think has ever come up in anything I've cared to research over the years. This could be a huge blow to a team that tied in Green Bay and was expecting to coast to an easy win over a team that had 0-16 potential.

Vince Verhei: Not just the strip-sacks, but also totally blown coverage where nobody was within 20 yards of Jason Croom on his touchdown. Vikings look awful at home early today.

I think the Bills, Raiders, and Giants were the only teams to get picked to win the first draft pick in our preseason predictions. Right now, all three teams are ahead, by a combined score of 31-3.

Dave Bernreuther: Just as we all expected, the Bills are up 17-0 and knocking on the door with first-and-goal to open the second quarter. In Minnesota. The Vikings thus far seem surprised that Josh Allen is able to run and throw accurately. Of course, I'm a little surprised Allen can throw accurately too...

Bryan Knowles: PFR's database has exactly four times when a 17-point or greater dog managed to win outright:

  • The aforementioned 1995 Washington game, when Norv Turner's 4-9 squad finished a season sweep against the dynasty Cowboys.
  • The 1992 Jets, 4-9 at the time, upsetting the Super Bowl-bound Bills the week after Dennis Byrd was paralyzed.
  • The 1978 Colts (1-2) beating the Patriots on Monday Night Football, when Joe Washington had a passing, rushing, and return touchdown in the fourth quarter.
  • Super Bowl III.

That's it. That's the list.

Vince Verhei: I didn't see a lot of this game, but every time I saw Cousins drop back, his left tackle was giving up a pass pressure. And I mean every time. The two early strip-sacks dug them in a giant hole and made them almost totally one-dimensional -- their running backs, with a few minutes left in the game, have four carries for 12 yards. The Bills offense honestly hasn't done a ton -- they had two good touchdown drives in the first half but otherwise have just killed clock and capitalized on good field position. The story here is how Minnesota and their $84 million quarterback looked so helpless against what had been a dreadful defense.

Scott Kacsmar: I had to look and it has been an unusual season with three double-digit favorites already losing straight up in the first three weeks. It happened three times total from 2009 to 2017.

Truly the definition of Any Given Sunday.

Cincinnati Bengals 21 at Carolina Panthers 31

Scott Kacsmar: Christian McCaffrey rushed for 99 yards in the first half on the way to a 21-14 lead for Carolina. McCaffrey had never rushed for 70 yards in a game before today.

New York Giants 27 at Houston Texans 22

Rivers McCown: This was truly the game where we saw the impact of Houston's offensive line. Right tackle Julie'n Davenport committed five penalties all by himself, including one to take a touchdown off the board. The Giants sacked Deshaun Watson four times and hit him 11. Of the players that got sacks, three of them had less than six career sacks coming into the game. Two of them got their first career sack. The other one was by Connor Barwin, basically a journeyman at this point of his career.

The non-Watt Texans just didn't show up. Saquon Barkley had clear running lanes. They bit on the first action on a vast majority of New York's misdirection plays. I can't remember Whitney Mercilus or Jadeveon Clowney laying a hand on Eli Manning despite a depleted line. In fact, often in the first quarter, Romeo Crennel was having Clowney stand up.

This is the most maddening Texans team I can remember in a while. And that's saying something.

Dallas Cowboys 13 at Seattle Seahawks 24

Carl Yedor: Cowboys and Seahawks look like they should trade three-and-outs on their opening drives, but the bodyweight rule extends Seattle's first drive. Not going to talk about the bodyweight rule for the rest of this game, even though it seems likely to come up again. A holding penalty on a second-down run that went nowhere kills the drive a few first downs later, so all it ends up costing Dallas is some field position. Seahawks made a concerted effort to run the ball more on the opening drive, and Wilson was under duress multiple times.

So not a huge surprise to start in Seattle.

Derrik Klassen: Dak Prescott just put a slant pass on the money, but the wide receiver bobbled it and the ball popped right into Earl Thomas' grasps for an interception. Unfortunate turnover on a Dallas drive that was looking nice.

Dave Bernreuther: Another running into the punter call today extends a drive out west in what is quickly shaping up to be another ugly game. Right after I make a comment about those 9-6 thrillers that the Seahawks seem to always get into once a year. Odd, though, that it's against Dallas and not the Rams...

Vince Verhei: No score in the first quarter in Seattle. As noted, best play for either team in the first quarter was a drive-extending penalty -- roughing the passer on Dallas, running into the kicker on Seattle. Otherwise, offenses have been limited to spotty runs and impotent pass attacks -- Dallas has two completions for 4 yards, Seattle three for 15.

When Michael Dickson came in for his first punt, I swear I heard "MVP" chants. He's averaging less than 40 yards on his first three kicks, but has pinned the Cowboys inside the 20 twice.

Carl Yedor: Points! It's a miracle. Seattle puts together a 10-play drive and they go in for a touchdown.

On a side note, once they got into Dallas territory, Seattle tried to take a deep shot downfield which fell incomplete. They then followed that up with a run on second-and-10 that predictably went nowhere. This could just be a case of specific examples sticking out in my head, but I feel like that happens a lot due in part to the fear of trying to stay out of third-and-long.

Vince Verhei: Seahawks get on the board first. They have a third-and-10, but Dallas has to call timeout on defense, their second timeout already midway through the second quarter. Afterwards they come with a blitz, but Russell Wilson finds Chris Carson wide open in the flat, and Carson scampers for a first down. Seahawks run hurry-up and Jaron Brown splits the safeties on a seam route for the touchdown.

That's all great, but a few plays earlier Wilson missed a wide-open Nick Vannett for what should have been a 30-some-yard touchdown. He was under pressure, but I am used to seeing Wilson complete passes to open guys under pressure. This year, it seems like he's missing them more than he used to.

Huge break for Seattle. Prescott scrambles on third down. Earl Thomas is covering Ezekiel Elliott but leaves him to pressure Prescott. Prescott pulls up and flips it to Elliott, who slips a tackle and goes into the end zone. However, before he caught the ball he stepped out of bounds, rendering himself ineligible and wiping out the play. It leads to a 50-yard field goal for Dallas, and Brett Maher's kick leans left just inside the upright to make it 7-3. Afterwards, Thomas, Pete Carroll, and convicted felon Mychal Kendricks (who was just signed a few weeks ago) had a chat on the sideline, apparently trying to determine who was supposed to cover Elliott on the play.

Forgot to mention that earlier, Angry Doug Baldwin (who is in street clothes today) had a major one-sided shouting match with a Seahawks assistant coach. They bumped fists afterwards, but there's a lot of discord in Seattle these days.

For the second time in the first half, Dallas calls a timeout on defense and then gives up a first down on the next play anyway. They are now out of timeouts with more than four minutes to go in the half.

Short while later, Kavon Frazier is supposed to be the deep safety on the offense's right side of the field, but he crowds the line to disguise the coverage. The cornerback to that side releases Tyler Lockett down the sideline (as he should in a Cover-2), Frazier can't get back nearly in time, and it's a 52-yard touchdown for Lockett. 14-3 Seattle.

Carl Yedor: Dallas gives Seattle another drive-extending break via penalty. After Wilson is forced to throw it away with 5 seconds left outside of field goal range, Dallas gets called for a personal foul after the play. This puts Seattle in range for Janikowski to connect for 3 before the half. Seahawks up 17-3 and will start the second half with the ball.

Vince Verhei: Your Keep Choppin' Wood nominee: after bumbling around in the final seconds of the first half, the Seahawks are lining up for a 60-plus-yard field goal try. However, as players are milling around, Randy Gregory hits a palmstrike right to the face of Seattle center Joey Hunt. To say the ref was right there would be an understatement -- he was almost between them and Gregory had to be careful not to hit the ref in the head. That's an easy 15-yard penalty, and Sebastian Janikowski connects from 47 for a 17-3 halftime lead.

That's about the only impact the Dallas defensive line has made -- shockingly, Wilson has not been sacked, and the Cowboys only have three hits. Meanwhile, the Seahawks have sacked Prescott twice, and the Cowboys have only 23 net passing yards at halftime.

Bryan Knowles: 17-3 at half for Seattle, who woke up in the second quarter and make a couple big plays, helped by Dallas apparently not knowing how to play defense anymore.

This has been a sloppy, sloppy day for Dallas. They have just 92 yards of offense. They've yet to sack Russell Wilson, the most-sacked quarterback of the first two weeks. They've made baffling decisions in coverage and in clock management. Randy Gregory committed a terrible unnecessary roughness penalty to put Seattle into range for the end-of-half football.

Why did I pick this game to be the main one I'm watching this afternoon?

Vince Verhei: Cowboys finally get a sack as Sean Lee gets pressure around the edge and pushes Wilson up into the pocket, where Demarcus Lawrence is blocked by THREE MEN and still fights through them to pull Wilson down.

Cowboys kick a field goal to make it 17-6. Elliott got things going with a 21-yard run, Dallas' second-longest play of the year. The drive reached the 21, but stalled there after Tavon Austin caught a pass 4 yards beyond the line of scrimmage and turned it into no gain. That set up third-and-long, where Frank Clark took Prescott down for Seattle's fourth sack of the day.

The Seahawks respond to the field goal with probably their best drive of the year, a 10-play, 72-yard march that eats up nearly six minutes of clock and ends with Carson rumbling over defenders for a 5-yard touchdown. Seattle never even got to third down on the drive. There's still almost 13 minutes left, but 24-6 feels like way too steep a mountain for these Cowboys to climb.

Carl Yedor: Chris Carson punches it in inside the red zone. It's Seattle's first offensive touchdown not involving Russell Wilson since Week 4 against the Colts last season. Carson is now up to 81 rushing yards for the game, as of now the most for a Seahawks runner since Week 2 against the 49ers last year. That probably speaks more to how bad the Seahawks have been at running the ball over the last year.

Tom Gower: Zeke busts out for a 26-yard gain, but gets a bit loose with the ball. Bradley McDougald punches it out and the Seahawks fall on it. Down 24-6 in the fourth quarter, Dallas offense still looking broken.

Vince Verhei: We're not done yet here. Cowboys get a touchdown pass to Tavon Austin on one of those jet sweep forward pitches that are all the rage these days. Elliott had another big run on that drive. Seattle takes over up 24-13 with seven minutes remaining.

Bryan Knowles: Oooh, bad luck for Dallas here. Prescott's pass is batted up in to the air three different times -- once by the defender, twice by the intended receiver -- and ends up in Earl Thomas' arms. Thomas gets flagged 15-yards for taunting after the play, bowing to the Dallas sideline, but that might be the clincher for the Hawks.

Vince Verhei: Bowing is now unsportsmanlike? Taking a bow? I'm as upset by that as I am by these roughing the passer calls. Congrats to Earl for acknowledging the team that did not feel he was worth a second-round pick.

Earl (and Bobby Wagner, who initially tipped the pass) really bailed the offense out there -- Seattle had gone three-and-out on four of its second-half drives up to that point.

Carl Yedor: Seattle avoids dropping to 0-3. Chris Carson eclipsed the 100-yard mark (although not particularly efficiently), though that may be a bad thing because it will probably encourage Brian Schottenheimer to keep calling caveman-like offense. Once Seattle went up 24-6, they seriously turtled up on offense, and if not for some fortuitously timed turnovers, Dallas might have made the comeback. Seattle's season stays alive for now.

Vince Verhei: Time finally runs out on the Cowboys and Seattle wins 24-13. One more note on this game: Seattle had a second-and-14 with the clock stopped at 2:01. They had to run a play, but then the two-minute warning would hit either way. Dallas had no timeouts, so you couldn't risk a pass after the two-minute warning. But on second down? Why not try a pass for the first down that would have iced the game? Instead they ran on second and third down and then punted. They had a two-score margin and obviously they won anyway, but I see no point to that second-down run.

With that said, some big-picture thoughts on the Seahawks through three games:

  • Earl Thomas is awesome, and I don't know why Seattle won't extend him and nobody else will trade for him.
  • Defense as a whole is still pretty good, if not the dominant unit of years past. Plenty of pass-rushers, stars at linebacker and safety, and other good players in the secondary in Bradley McDougald and Shaquill Griffin.
  • Running game is a hundred million billion trillion times better than last year. It's still not very good. Everyone's going crazy about Chris Carson's hundred-yard day and ignoring that it took him 30-plus carries to get there (though he did have a nice tackle-busting run to convert a third-and-11 late in the game there).
  • Tyler Lockett can make defenses pay for mistakes but can't consistently get open on his own. Brandon Marshall is big and strong and has value as a possession receiver in traffic but is completely incapable of getting any kind of separation from defenders. The offense can scheme tight ends open, but neither Will Dissly nor Nick Vannett is going to do much on his own. Doug Baldwin will help when (if?) he returns, but Seattle still needs lots of help here. Baldwin is also 30 years old and won't last forever. Long-term, this looks like a bigger weakness than even the offensive line.

Chicago Bears 16 at Arizona Cardinals 14

Bryan Knowles: The Cardinals were one of only 22 post-merger teams to have 350 or fewer yards in their first two games combined, as the offense was dead, dead, dead through two weeks.

So, of course, they're up 14-0 on the Bears early, with completions of 35, 30, and 21 yards before the first quarter's even over.

This has been a very surprising week.

As a counterpoint to the Chargers kicking a scaredy-cat field goal, the Bears could have kicked a field goal to make it a one score game at 14-6. Instead, they went for it on fourth-and-1, converted, and ended up in the end zone three plays later. An interception on the next drive, and they're moving again.

It's really hard to find good pass-rushers. Khalil Mack finds a scrambling Sam Bradford and, yet again, strips the ball loose. Bears ball, one-point game.

I wonder if more defenders are going to start playing like Mack, or trying to, with the increased emphasis on touching quarterbacks being illegal. Mack has a key forced fumble in each of Chicago's first three games, if I'm keeping track correctly, and it seems like he's going for the ball more than the quarterback every time I've seen him.

Bears kick the field goal to take their first lead of the game, 16-14.

And that's what it takes. Sam Bradford is benched; Josh Rosen is coming onto the field. Sayonara, Sam.

Aaron Schatz: Third-and-2, two minutes left, desperately trying to come back, why is David Johnson on the sidelines while you hand the ball to Chase Edmunds?

Bryan Knowles: The play calling and decisions in this game have been terrible for the most part, but I give credit to the Bears for this: on the last play of the game, with a rookie with less than a quarter of experience getting ready to throw a Hail Mary, the Bears blitzed. Overwhelmed the line, overwhelmed the rookie, got the sack, won the game.

Dave Bernreuther: I realize that Bradford had been pretty bad, but man was that an odd time to decide to throw Rosen out there for his debut. He was completely overmatched. That blitz in the non-blitz situation reminded me of the Ravens just throwing caution to the wind and going after Kaepernick in the final series in the Super Bowl in 2013. With time running out, and everything on the line, even the really talented ones are going to show their inexperience when there's that much pressure. In cases like that, the old TMQ "stop me before I blitz again" rules go out the window.

That said, pressure or no pressure, Rosen just wasn't ready for that yet. The offsides-negated Pick-6 was just an awful throw, and on his reprieve he foolishly and slowly scrambled for an insignificant amount of yards and very nearly didn't make it out of bounds. Those were with three-man rushes too.

I like Rosen (sort of), but man ... that's just not setting a kid up to succeed. Let him make his debut after a week of practice reps with the 1s and a game plan, not in the two-minute drill down two against Khalil Mack.

Los Angeles Chargers 23 at Los Angeles Rams 35

Bryan Knowles: Speaking of roughing punters, in the Battle of Los Angeles…

The Rams were driving, but threw a pick just outside the end zone. The Chargers can't do anything from the 1-yard line, and line up to punt. However, Corey Littleton breaks through the line, blocks the punt ,and clobbers Drew Kaser. The Rams jump on the ball in the end zone, and it's 21-6 Rams early.

To add injury to insult, Kaser had to be helped off the field. That won't help the Chargers in the field position battle.

Dave Bernreuther: The Chargers are down two scores (plus a two-point conversion) against a high-powered offense on the road, and are now without a punter.

It's time for the four-down Kevin Kelley offense. If not now, when? DO IT, CHARGERS!

Bryan Knowles: And, speaking of potentially season-ending injuries in the NFC West, Marcus Peters just got helped to the sideline, and he's putting ZERO weight on his injured leg.

Dave Bernreuther: Dear Ian Eagle,

When you are down by 15 in the second half on the road against a Super Bowl contender and it is fourth-and-a-short-1 on the good side of the field, it is not "taking a risk" to go for it.

Touchdown, Mike Williams. L.A. leads L.A. 28-20, and hopefully this means that the 6 p.m. hour is a good one.

It's the fourth quarter, you're still down 15, as you have been all game, and you're in a goal-to-go situation.

I realize that it's the 8-yard line ... but what on earth do you think a field goal is going to accomplish?

You need two touchdowns. After you kick the gimme field goal, you ... still need two touchdowns. Against a team you haven't exactly stopped all game. Why, in 2018, is this still the default behavior?

Bryan Knowles: Chargers need two touchdowns and are a bit pressed for time. Cue two passes short of the sticks on third and fourth down? That's not going to get the job done, and Austin Ekeler fumbled at the end of an effort where he needed to be Superman to get the first down. That should wrap this one up with 4:23 left.

Dave Bernreuther: I'll admit that I wasn't paying full attention to this game, but to my eyes, I didn't see a giant talent gap between these two teams. The Chargers have an exceptional quarterback, loads of skill position talent, and playmakers on defense, even with Joey Bosa out. The Rams have Jared Goff, who has never impressed me but does seem to still be improving and not in need of being hidden like last year, a load of skill position talent, and playmakers on defense (two of whom were injured in this game) ... but the Rams have a young rising star of a coach in McVay, plus possibly the best coordinator the game has ever seen, while the Chargers have ... well, another JAG in the parade of underperforming coaches since firing a 14-2 Marty Schottenheimer. And one team is 3-0 while the other is 1-2.

Of course, 1-2 in the AFC is not at all a bad place to be. And it'd be dishonest to blame this entire loss on coaching. Also, it's September, and this was an out-of-conference road game. But still ... it has been a decade and a half of underperforming both expectations and statistics for the Chargers. Will it ever end?

New England Patriots 10 at Detroit Lions 26

Scott Kacsmar: Bill Belichick is going to destroy Matt Patricia. The Patriots don't lose two in a row. The Lions don't beat good teams. Detroit also is missing its best pass-rusher (Ezekiel Ansah) and Marvin Jones and Darius Slay were questionable coming in. I think these are all logical points coming into tonight.

Not that Week 3 is built on logic, but let's stick with that. On the flip side, Patricia should know the strengths and weaknesses of New England's defense better than he knows anything else about this team. His most realistic paths to victory tonight are all highlighted by his offense playing lights-out. So I want to see if this talented receiving corps can put up big numbers on the defense tonight and maybe add another interesting upset to the week.

Bryan Knowles: Does one of those "realistic paths to victory" include a field goal on fourth-and-inches just outside the red zone?

Scott Kacsmar: You'll have to forgive Patricia. He only had 14 seasons with the Patriots to learn that kicking that kind of field goal is a bad strategy to beat them.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots getting completely pushed around in the running game tonight. Lions easily commanding the line of scrimmage.

Patriots finally get an offensive drive going right before the half by almost entirely giving up on the run. This is a game for the Patriots to pass. There's no pass rush from either team. But they eventually get to third-and-1 and audible to a stretch run and ... the Lions stop it easily. So now it's Detroit 13-3.

Scott Kacsmar: Patriots haven't trailed by double digits at halftime in consecutive weeks since 2013 against Houston and Cleveland. They came back to win both of those games, though I think Detroit has a good chance to continue having offensive success tonight.

Rob Weintraub: 20-10 Lions after three. If by some miracle this holds up Miami will lead the AFC East by two games after Week 3.

Dave Bernreuther: I can do without the greener graphic on the screen, but NBC's overhead camera is really showing the extent to which Detroit's line is dominating and opening up big holes for their running game. This drive spanning the end of the third and into the fourth especially; it seems like they're getting an easy 10 or 15 yards per play (until these last two at the edge of the red zone as I've been typing this).

I can't remember a time I've ever seen a team use the Belichick vs. K-Gun or '08 Dolphins vs. Peyton game plan even remotely this effectively against these Patriots. The Lions have controlled the lines and controlled the clock. The Patriots have run only 31 plays and had the ball for less than a third of the game.

They did stiffen up (bend but don't break!) and hold the Lions to another field goal, so they're still within two scores. At this rate, though, they'll have a hard time even getting two more possessions in in these last 12 minutes of game time.

Aaron Schatz: What matters is less controlling the clock and more controlling the line of scrimmage when the Patriots had the ball. The Patriots keep trying to run, it's mostly going nowhere, and then they can't complete the passes on third down. Lions are winning here on both sides of the ball.

I'll also point out that it's coverage, not pass rush. There's not much Lions pass rush but Tom Brady just doesn't find anyone open. He just took a coverage sack on a third-and-8 where he had all kinds of time and just ... nobody.

Dave Bernreuther: It's not as if the Lions have ever been noted for their pass coverage either. Maybe Patricia wasn't just a coattail rider after all.

That third-and-8 followed what I thought was a preposterous intentional grounding call. I enjoy seeing Brady not having everything go his way as much as anyone, but man ... he's the only guy I've ever seen take a grounding call on a deep ball, and this is the third time I've seen it. And in that case, to suggest he got nervous about one single edge rusher -- who wasn't even near him at the time when he began the throw -- is absurd.

That said, it was a very odd play. He threw it far enough that it didn't seem to be a case where a receiver broke off a route, or at least not at the time of the throw ... it almost looked to me like he chucked it out of frustration; either due to the coverage you mention, or with a guy who made an incorrect read/decision right off the snap.

The defense did get them the ball right back after that punt, though, and two Sony Michel runs later they're already in business close to midfield. Still plenty of game left. They've erased two score leads in less time than this against much better defenses than -- oh ... interception by Darius Slay, undercutting Phillip Dorsett (who wasn't even turned around yet) on a deep ball. Never mind.

Bryan Knowles: I thought the Lions would cover; I did not, by any means, expect them to actually win this thing.

They even got that 100-yard rusher they've been waiting years for.

I'm not buying the "Patriots dynasty is over!" talk I'm seeing over social media, because the September Swoon is a Patriots tradition now ... but boy. I would not be resting easy if I was a Patriots fan.

Rob Weintraub: More likely to occur: Brady puts two touchdowns up in final 4:30 to steal the game, or Kerryon Johnson loses 2 yards to dip under 100 when the Lions are on the cusp of finally getting a rusher over the century mark?

Bryan Knowles: Oh, it's Johnson pulling the Dave Hampton by a landslide.

Dave Bernreuther: Better question: if at noon today, someone had asked if it was more likely that the Bills win outright in Minnesota or the Patriots score only ten against the Lions, which would you have chosen?

I'm as down on these Bills as anyone, but I'd have chosen that win over this result (assuming the Lions run out this clock here). Even with that receiving corps and their former coach on the opposite sideline. Ten points? That's almost unheard of. It's not like this Lions team has the frightening pass rush that the Dolphins did the last time it happened.

Aaron Schatz: If they win next week against Miami, then it's just another one of those Patriots 2-2 starts, just in a different order than usual. If they lose next week, at home, and go to 1-3, three games behind the Dolphins ... oof.

Tom Gower: New England scores 10 points against the defense that came into the game 29th in (D)VOA and 30th in DAVE. Incredible. Something I never would have expected. And it didn't feel like a fluke. I missed the first quarter, but the Patriots offense was lousy. No big plays, no consistent run game, and Brady couldn't consistently move the chains in the passing game. We've seen him look a bit like this before, early in 2014 and then late in 2015 when Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski were both out. When Edelman comes back, they'll get a sustaining element they need that desperately seemed to be missing tonight. But that defense, with everybody knowing the game plan will be to attack the linebackers in space with crossing routes, looks like a continuing issue. They've been so good for so long that it's a mistake to bury them until they're completely dead. But last year I did a radio hit after Week 1 and said I still expected New England to be fine and get home-field advantage and Kansas City's win was more about an edge in a competitive AFC West. This week, yeah, not quite the same take on things.

Aaron Schatz: The Patriots certainly have a lot of problems right now. The defense looks terrible, although they'll look better with guys like Trey Flowers and Patrick Chung back. The offense needs receivers who can create separation other than Gronk, although two might be on the way in Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman. Still, this is two weeks of looking bad.

What becomes of it? I really doubt that this is "the end" where they suddenly go 6-10. It's more likely they have a sub-Patriots year that any other franchise would be happy with, something like 2009 where they went 10-6 and won the AFC East. But they don't look like any kind of Super Bowl favorite right now.

Scott Kacsmar: Awfully hard to beat the Patriots without a fight, but that was a pretty weak finish for New England. Before Week 2, the Patriots had three losses since 2011 where they didn't have a fourth-quarter lead or at least a game-winning drive opportunity (2013 AFC Championship Game in Denver, 2014 at Arrowhead, 2017 at Miami). Now that's two weeks in a row where they didn't have one and were outplayed significantly by the Jaguars and Lions. They won't have many tougher road tests this year than those, but this feels a little more troublesome than any other slow start you want to point to in recent years.

Comments

183 comments, Last at 26 Sep 2018, 6:18am

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Purds // Sep 24, 2018 - 7:04am

Don’t put a fork in NE yet, but they are 1-2 against opponents who are 1-5 against the rest of the league. Not good

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3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by BJR // Sep 24, 2018 - 7:29am

I fully expect the offense to click into gear some time soon, but that defense looks flat out terrible. Brady has overcome playing with bad defences before, but it's going to require another MVP level performance from him, which clearly isn't there at present.

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24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:39am

I think that if you think Josh Gordon will be a savior, you need to look your picture up in the dictionary under "gullible". Even Cleveland got sick of his shit.

That said, NE's bigger problem is the defense. They gave up 400 yards to Blake Bortles (who reminded us this week that he's still Blake Bortles). But even worse. they got bossed by the Lions at the line of scrimmage.

Detroit ran for 159 yards. Which isn't a ton. But it's more yards than they have run for in any game since Thanksgiving 2013, when they ran for 240 in demolishing Green Bay. (The single best Detroit game since crushing Dallas in 1992).

Since that Thanksgiving game, Detroit has broken 120 yards rushing as a team 6 times, until last night. It looks like New England just has a terrible defense. They were slow across the field.

The really bad omen, though, is losing to Detroit. Since 2013, they've only beaten three teams who won more than 8 games (they beat two 8-7-1 teams). 2014 and 2015 Green Bay, and 2017 Minnesota. Essentially, they beat one >.500 team per season. Better hope it's you guys this year.

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46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Pat // Sep 24, 2018 - 10:56am

"That said, NE's bigger problem is the defense."

I mean... I dunno. I agree the *bigger* problem is the defense, but it's not like the offense isn't a problem, either. If you're New England, you can't really be counting on *either* Gordon *or* Edelman. Edelman is a post-30 WR coming off an ACL injury. That's... not exactly a guaranteed Pro Bowl berth there.

And you can blame the defense all you want, but the reason why the Patriots got dominated in time-of-possession versus the Lions wasn't all on the defense. Brady and the offense gained *13 yards* on their first three drives. Only *two* (!!) of their drives were more than 5 plays. Yes, it was a short game - only 10 drives - but of the 7 "failed" drives (non-scoring, non-end-of-game) the offense gained 2 first downs. Two!

Yes, the Lions scored 2.6 points per drive, which is, uh, bad - it would've been worst in the league last year. But scoring 1.0 points per drive also would've been last in the league, too. Right now they're at 1.72 points/drive, and possibly more worrying, 0.15 TOs/drive.

If you're a Patriots fan, that should worry you. Why? Because last year, in week 3, they were at 2.75 points/drive and 0.028 TOs/drive ... and finished at 2.69 points/drive and 0.072 TOs/drive. Last year, they only had to fix the defense, which they did. This year, they have to fix *both* - offense *and* defense are well below-average right now, statistically.

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52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by PatsFan // Sep 24, 2018 - 11:10am

I've been worried about the offense since preseason.

They traded Cooks (which I'm OK with) but then had Matthews, Britt, and Mitchell all get hurt (and then cut) and Edelman got suspended. When your WR1 is Chris Hogan you have problems. Hogan can be erased by a good corner and Gronk can be double-teamed. And then Hill gets his knee blown out by a teammate and Burkhead is hurt yet again.

Even with all that I'm still disappointed by the playcalling. What they're doing isn't working, so try something else. That may not work, but what they're doing certainly isn't working. For example, WTH were they forcefeeding Michel last night instead of trying to get White involved.

And that's even before discussing the flatness and listlessness. And giving up on the game with about 7 minutes to go for the second straight week. Sure, TD, onsides, TD is not likely, but it's still possible. But they just flat gave up with half the quarter to go.

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77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Pat // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:31pm

It's actually pretty amazing how cavalier some Patriots fans were about the offense. Back in August when the over/unders for the AFC East were being discussed, I said:

"Are you forgetting they're without Edelman for the first four weeks? Those games are Houston, at Jacksonville, at Detroit, and Miami. Good chance they start the season 2-2, and I think they certainly could start 1-3. For the first 4 weeks, their offense is going to be *very* constrained in what they can do - I mean, their Week 1 starting WRs (assuming *3*!) had 1300 yards *combined* last year - and none of them were rookies. I don't even know of any other team that was that bad last year."

and hot damn don't I look prophetic at this point. Of course, that garnered the response of "The Patriots offense is not going to be 'very constrained' in any sort of way." and... yeah, that was totally wrong. Of course that comment also included "If the Patriots come out of his 1-3, its not because of Edelman's suspension, or the WR issues, its because Brady has significantly declined" - so I better hear those same fans calling for Brady's replacement to be drafted if they don't win versus Miami! :)

Cooks being traded in *isolation* isn't awful, but it's pretty obvious they totally undervalued him at this point. Not that he wasn't worth what they got in trade, but they obviously underestimated the resources they needed to dedicate to replace him.

I mean, I *totally* did the same thing regarding the Eagles and how much they need Alshon Jeffery (... at least I hope that's what the problem is), but that's just because I didn't think the injury was an issue. In the Patriots case everyone *knew* how many games Edelman would miss, and hopefully everyone also understands that a post-30 WR recovering from an ACL is not a guarantee.

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103 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Anon Ymous // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:12pm

In fairness, NE's offense has been just fine with much less weaponry than they have at this point. So your conclusion was right, but your process wasn't quite on target. Something else is amiss right now.

As a Pats fan, this game had a different feel to it than KC last year or even KC in 2014. It would not surprise me at all if we look back at it in a few months or years as the moment the end became undeniable.

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117 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by dmstorm22 // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:37pm

Honestly, the last game I remember being this surprised at by New England's performance was the 2010 loss to Cleveland - which of course set-off one of the most dominant 8-game stretches ever.

The 2014 KC game was a nigthmare to be sure, but that sometimes happens against a good team on the road in primetime (I guess if the Lions are good that fits this game as well).

This just seemed depressing, like they deserve to lose because they weren't good enough, not becuase Detroit was all that great. The fact that it's happened two straight games is worrying. Aaron may be right, that this is a 2009-like Patriots season where they go 10-6, going 2-6 on the road, and meekly go out in the wild card round.

But honestly, I would take the 2009 Patriots roster over the 2018 one anyday.

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173 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Pat // Sep 25, 2018 - 9:59am

Yeah, I don't really agree. New England's had better options since pretty much 2013, and 2013 at least had young versions of Amendola and Edelman, as well as Gronkowski for part of the season (and of course 2013 ended in the playoffs with a pretty mediocre offense performance). 2018 New England has a post-30 Edelman returning from injury and a much older Rob Gronkowski *that New England was willing to trade*.

The fact that they tried to trade Gronkowski has been way under-reported in my opinion, because it tells you a lot about their internal opinions of where he currently is in his career (also tells you they misjudged it, since it basically backfired and they ended up having to pay him more to get *any* value out of him).

Of course, that might be part of the difference here if you're imagining Gronkowski as "peak Gronkowski" - I'm not. Anyone who's considering retiring before 30 must be feeling beat up a bit, and to me that's got to affect play.

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34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by vrao81 // Sep 24, 2018 - 10:12am

I made this comment a couple of months back , during the draft recap thread, but what the heck were the patriots doing taking an RB in the first round when they clearly needed defensive help??

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85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Bright Blue Shorts // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:52pm

Feels to me like the Patriots have made one too many trades, and allowed free agents to walk too often, over the last couple of years. The team just seems a shell of itself at the moment with no obvious continuity other than Brady and Gronk.

But as commentators have said, September is always slow for them so they'll likely pick up as the weeks go by. Let's and wait see where they are come the playoffs.

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97 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Pat // Sep 24, 2018 - 1:43pm

"But as commentators have said, September is always slow for them"

Why is it always that something that happened *last year* (or even the past 2 years) turns into "every year"? Yes, last year, they started out 2-2. But they were also ripping up the league in offense: they had a VOA of -12.6%, sure, but that's because the defense was so ridiculously bad. The offense was fine: it was 24.0%, 5th in the league. It ended 27.3%, 1st in the league. They haven't started 1-2 or worse since 2012, and in 2012, VOA *saw* that they weren't as bad as their record.

The *only year* in the past 6 seasons VOA had them super-wrong "bad" by week 3 was last year. That's it. It's not an every year thing.

Previous years, week 3, VOA versus end of year DVOA

2017: off -3.3%, def +25.4%, tot -35.2% (below 0 after week 3)
2016: off -13.8%, def +10.2%, tot -16.5%
2015: off +26.6%, def +1.7%, tot +24.6%
2014: off -21.8%, def -24.1%, tot -0.6%
2013: off -27.1%, def -22.9%, tot -5.2%
2012: off -8.4%, def +3.3%, tot -19%

That's 6 years of data, and the average difference between week 3 VOA and final DVOA is -8.65% (8.0% (worse) offense, -1.1% (better) defense). So yeah, a bit of a slow start, sure. But it's not some huge amount. But probably more importantly, VOA *only once* had them below 0% total in week 3 (since they obviously finished above 0% all years). And that includes 2016, when Brady missed the first 4 games!

So I don't buy the "September is always slow" thing. 5 out of the past 6 years they've been above-water in VOA by week 3. If they end up being a top-flight team by the end of the year, it isn't an "always" thing.

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99 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Anon Ymous // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:01pm

So I don't buy the "September is always slow" thing.

Seemingly you do, your own numbers support it. Or are you trying to illustrate that the magnitude is different this time around? If so, then I don't think you'll get much disagreement, but the general trend remains the same.

I also think you are burying the more important data in the averages. If you replace the "always" and replace it with an "often" and then return to your data, you'll see that defense made up double digits in (D)VOA in just the past two years, and double digits on offense half the time. Only once (2015) did the offense drop off, the year in which they lost pretty much everyone but Brady, literally, and by year's end they didn't have enough healthy bodies to even run a practice.

That certainly appears reflective of trend and capability to me.

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112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Pat // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:31pm

"Seemingly you do, your own numbers support it. Or are you trying to illustrate that the magnitude is different this time around? If so, then I don't think you'll get much disagreement, but the general trend remains the same."

No, I'm trying to say that last year was the *aberration*. Last year, the Patriots *really* started slow - they looked *bad* - and improved to a great team by the end of the year. But that *isn't* what happens most years. I mean, again, take out 2017 as an outlier, and in the previous 5 years, they're only about -2% from their end-of-season DVOA by week 3. And they never looked *bad* in week 3.

I should've showed the week 3 total DVOA to illustrate the point:

2017: -12.6%
2016: 8.5%
2015: 47.2%
2014: 21.5%
2013: 13.7%
2012: 15.9%

In fact, let's go back farther, all the way to when FO introduced early-season DVOA (thanks to preseason projections).

2011: 27.5%
2010: 26.5%
2009: 14.3%
2008: -8.8% (lost Brady in week 1)
2007: 85.5%
2006: 8.4%

So let me make my point clear: in the past 12 seasons, New England, by week 3, has had an under-water VOA exactly twice.

This year is going to make 3. Yes, they typically improve somewhat over the year, but on average, it's from "good" to "great." Only twice have they needed to go from "bad" to "good," and one of those times was because they lost Brady.

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132 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Anon Ymous // Sep 24, 2018 - 3:27pm

OK, so it is about magnitude, which you won't find much disagreement on, Scanning through the writers' comments again, there seems to be a rather obvious "but" around the "slow September" thing where they acknowledge things look worse than usual. So you appear to be furiously pushing against an open door here.

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100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Bright Blue Shorts // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:02pm

Did you have to be literal about September?

2012 - 2-2 ... 4 losses all season
2014 - 2-2 ... 4 losses all season
2016 - 3-1 .... 2 losses all season
2017 - 2-2 ... 3 losses all season

I'd say that when 50% of your losses come in the first 25% of the season that's a slow start.

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120 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by dmstorm22 // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:39pm

Of course, the two years you left out (2013 and 2015) they started 4-0 and went 8-4 to close the season.

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123 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Pat // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:49pm

Combined 2012-2017 winning record in first 4 games of the season: 17-7, or 70% winning percentage. Winning percentage in the remainder of the season: 80%. So yeah, it's a slow start, but it's not nearly as big as you're making it out to be. It's a half-game difference: first 4 weeks they're 2.8-1.2, whereas if they played like the final 12 games, they'd be 3.2-0.8.

But losses are one thing - wacko things happen. The weird thing last year wasn't that they lost a game or two early on. It's that they looked mediocre-to-bad. That hadn't happened since 2008. And, of course, 2008 was the year they lost Brady - although the reason they were underwater in 2008 was actually because of the Wildcat game from Miami.

Let me put it another way: this is the first year since 2008, and Brady's first year since 2006, that they haven't had a 14+-point win in the first 3 weeks of the season. Sure, they start a bit slow, usually. They don't start this slow.

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124 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by dmstorm22 // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:57pm

The year people will toss out is 2014, because the KC massacre, and a 13-point loss to Miami. Of course, in the middle they won by 20, and beat a bad Raiders team.

I'll be honest, they looked bad that year and I';m surprised to see they actually had a decent VOA after four games.

Other than that year, I'm really not seeing it. Last year, sure, but on offense they were great.

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141 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Pat // Sep 24, 2018 - 4:06pm

No, they had a decent VOA after 3 games. I'm just looking at week 3 status because, well, it's week 3. You're totally right that in 2014 the KC massacre dropped them to below 0% (-5.8%).

Things *do* look a bit different if you look at week 4: now, New England was below water for 3 out of the past 4 years:

2017: -2.2%
2016: -5.6%
2015: 52.1%
2014: -5.8%

because of blowouts in week 4 in half of those years (KC and the Bills shutout in 2016). It's not exactly fair to call that cherry picking because, well... it *actually is* week 3. And if you really want to stare at small-sample-size theater, Week 4 has been the worst week of the first 4 for the Patriots recently. So... that doesn't bode well.

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161 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by dmstorm22 // Sep 24, 2018 - 6:52pm

Ah got it, misunderstood.

Yeah, that makes it look a bit worse. Honestly, we should throw out 2016 completely with Brady not playing those games.

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2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by deus01 // Sep 24, 2018 - 7:13am

Nothing about Broncos/Ravens?

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22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by achidester // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:30am

Denver's offensive line showed a ton of regression after two solid weeks to start the season. Post-Peyton, Denver is an atrocious road team (5-12 overall, 1-8 under Joseph). Keenum is 29th in the league in passer rating through 3-ish games. And the secondary has not been good enough.

Denver's pass rush needs to be absolutely perfect to have any chance against KC. Smart money is on them beating Denver for the 6th(!!!) straight time.

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26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by JoRo // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:46am

Yeah the Broncos secondary had 2 corners and an overwhelmed rookie in the secondary yesterday. Flacco and the Ravens spread them out and picked them apart. After the game Flacco said throwing 55 times would have been advantageous for the the Ravens.

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28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by achidester // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:53am

Holding Flacco to a 63% completion rate feels like a huge accomplishment after Carr was 92% last week. But yeah, Pacman was inactive and Brock left after 6 snaps. 30+ snaps for Yiadom and Parks is a recipe for disaster.

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72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by BroncFan07 // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:21pm

There was almost nothing surprising about this game. About the only surprising thing was when they briefly led after Chris Harris returned the blocked FG. Of course it was offset by a completely lame "block" in the back that occurred about 8 yards behind the play, and where the refs called it against a player who wasn't even on the field. But of course, that may have offset the fact that the blocked FG itself may have been illegal depending on how it was interpreted where Simmons began his leap. Oh, and no surprise, Denver's QB play is still weak.

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151 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Mountain Time ---- formerly Ninjalectual // Sep 24, 2018 - 5:24pm

I feel like Keenum is becoming more and more a Vance Joseph guy (meaning he's getting worse and worse).

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88 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by ChrisS // Sep 24, 2018 - 1:21pm

13 penalties for 120 yards and bad QB play made it difficult for Denver

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104 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Grendel13G // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:12pm

Sounds about right. The Broncos offensive linemen were playing like they had been promised bonuses for every holding penalty.

I still can't tell if Keenum is any good. He looks competent most of the time, then there are plays like that INT he threw while basically falling backwards... yikes.

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4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by apk3000 // Sep 24, 2018 - 7:34am

So that Rams pick wasn't outside the end zone. It was in the end zone and, stop me if you've heard this before, instead of just going down, the guy who got the interception started running. And for some reason he ran out at the 1. Not sure why the Rams weren't called for running into the kicker, that seemed fairly textbook.

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16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:21am

It doesn’t apply if you block the kick

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51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by apk3000 // Sep 24, 2018 - 11:07am

Weird, I would've sworn I've seen post-block running into the kicker penalties before.

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25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Eddo // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:45am

Do you mean on the punt that was blocked? If so, the rule is that, if you touch the ball first, running into (or roughing) the punter or kicker does not apply.

If you're referring to a different play, then I'm not sure - I only saw the blocked punt in the Chargers' end zone.

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5 Matthews and the Laws of Physics

by deus01 // Sep 24, 2018 - 7:40am

While I think that the Matthews tackle shouldn't be a penalty, I don't agree that's there's nothing he could have done to avoid it.

To me he very clearly leaves his feet and drives his body weight down on top of Smith. It doesn't matter if he gets up quickly, the idea is to prevent the impact, the body weight after the tackle doesn't really matter.

He could have wrapped Smith up and brought him to the ground in a way where his full body weight wouldn't be adding an additional impact.

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27 Re: Matthews and the Laws of Physics

by Eddo // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:47am

I agree with this entirely. I do not like the new rule(*), but Matthews isn't helping himself with the level of violence he's hitting QBs with. This is even referenced in the Bears/Cardinals section, where it's pointed out Khalil Mack appears to be purposefully avoiding "violent" hits - and he's been pretty damn effective at making big plays so far this season.

(*) This actually confuses me - is it truly a new rule, or just a "point of emphasis"? "Driving the QB into the ground" has been a penalty for quite a while, though it's obviously never been called nearly as often as it has been so far this year.

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39 Re: Matthews and the Laws of Physics

by deus01 // Sep 24, 2018 - 10:33am

I believe it's a new rule:

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

I do find it amusing that players like Matthews make a violent hit that very clearly violates this rule and then act like they shouldn't be penalized because they got off the QB quickly. There's nothing in the rule that says anything about getting up quickly and people bringing that up when they talk about this are just trying to distract from the actual issue.

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49 Re: Matthews and the Laws of Physics

by jtr // Sep 24, 2018 - 11:03am

This rule you quoted is specifically about hitting the QB during or after he throws the ball. Smith tucked the ball to take the sack, so none of that would apply.

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69 Re: Matthews and the Laws of Physics

by nosoop4u // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:13pm

Last year, the rule was "a defensive player must not unnecessarily or violently throw him down and land on top of him with all or most of the defender’s weight."

This year, the change is "a defensive player must not unnecessarily or violently throw him down or land on top of him with all or most of the defender’s weight."

It's "or" vs "and" if the difference isn't obvious above.

You can thank the Packers and their fans for raising a stink after Rodgers' injury last year. I see no greater karma than this rule that they begged for biting them on the butt this year.

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45 Re: Matthews and the Laws of Physics

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 10:49am

Do you think Suh wasn't flagged for body-weight on his sack because the ref was (rightfully) afraid for his own life had he thrown it?

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153 Re: Matthews and the Laws of Physics

by Mountain Time ---- formerly Ninjalectual // Sep 24, 2018 - 5:27pm

That's as good an explanation as any

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6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by BJR // Sep 24, 2018 - 7:46am

Jared Goff played great yesterday, I don't know why it's necessary to rag on him when he plays an obviously excellent game.

I'm unsure of the severity of the injuries to Peters and Talib. Obviously losing one or both of them would be a blow. But with Garropolo hurt the Rams have a cake-walk to that division, and a first round bye. They look like worthy favourites to me.

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7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Yu Narukami // Sep 24, 2018 - 7:50am

I was quite opmistic after the @Jags game (Florida in september against Coughlin-playoff team in search of revenge), but yesterday was an embarassment.

These are the Pats round 1-3 picks from the last 5 years (=people that can be still with Pats on a rookie deal).

2018

1.23 IR
1.31 Sony Michel
2.56 IR
Nothing on 3rd

2017

Nothing on 1st (traded for Cooks, now with the Rams)
Nothing on 2nd
3.83 Rivers (2017 IR, inactive until now this season)

2016

1st round docked
2.60 the Cyrus Jones abomination (at least he fielded a punt yesterday, which was a progress)
3.91 Brissett which became Dorsett
3.96 A character from FF7 which now is in PS

2015

1.32 Malcom Brown (sometimes good but terrible this year)
2.64 Jordan Richards (bust, shipped to Falcons)
3.97 Grissom (PS/ST guy)

2014

1.29 Easley (IR forever then cut)
2.62 Jimmy G (traded)
No 3rd rounder

---

You can survive by doing trades here and there, finding gems in lower round and all, but the lack of young cheap talent in the roster is finally on display.

Add this to: Chung and the McCourtys on the wrong side of 30s, Hightower being back 3x slower from another IR season, guys unable to get separation leaving Gronk doublecovered and therefore leaving nobody open, inconsistent O-line play (1st time the LT in the BBB era is not a drafted-by-the-team guy), the only power back that went down in wk1 with no real replacement and you have another OMG-end-of-the-dinasty moment which may be more real than the others.

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12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by sbond101 // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:06am

This bears repeating. The Pats have done really well dumpster diving in free agency - but between the deflate-gate penalties, bad injury luck, some lousy drafting, and the monumentally stupid re-upping of Hightower, the Pats don't have much of a core left. Collecting some extra draft capital this winter was a start, but it's not helping from the IR.

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8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 8:32am

He gave Eric Ebron a shot in the end zone on another third down, but Jalen Mills did a good job on the coverage despite the size disadvantage. Still, that's an opportunity you'd like to see your big free agent signing make a play on.

It's Eric Ebron, Scott. Not converting makeable TDs is what he does. You're asking the scorpion why he stings.

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29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Harris // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:56am

Misplaced comment.

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90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by ChrisS // Sep 24, 2018 - 1:25pm

Ebron was one of the Colts "big free agent signings"? No wonder the Colts suck. I mean the Lions released him, he did have a large cap hit coming up but they should only have kept him at the league minimum (hyperbole).

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9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 8:44am

Re: Luck

There is the caveat he's playing in a new offense. Reich is not from the Arians school or the Stanford offense. Yards/completion have been trickling down in his offenses for awhile.

Has Hilton lost a step? He's the only thing resembling an explosive threat in this offense.

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101 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Ben // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:07pm

While Luck has made some bad throws this year (the late pass to Ebron should of been a go-ahead TD), I think that low YPC chart is much more a result of going to a dink and dunk offense combined with a total lack of offensive weapons outside Hilton.

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10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 8:48am

Re: the read-option peeve, the one I hate is when announcers call an end-around a reverse. You need to actually "reverse" direction for it to be a reverse.

Now, the case where I'm not sure what to call it is when the QB starts to sprint in one direction then pitches to a back coming the other way. Is that just an end-around with chaff, or is it a true reverse?

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21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by jtr // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:30am

I think it's a reverse any time you get the ball going one way and then give it to a player sprinting in the other direction. So that play Andy Reid likes with a QB run one way to a pitch/handoff/shovel the other way counts as a reverse to me.

The other announcer annoyance right now is calling any shotgun PA pass an RPO. Sometimes a fake handoff is just a fake handoff!

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30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Harris // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:56am

Hear, hear. Actual reverses are rare. Double reverses are almost unheard of. You'd think people making seven figures to talk about football would know that, but here we are.

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40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by deus01 // Sep 24, 2018 - 10:37am

You'd also think that coaches who are making seven figures would understand modern concepts in football but that's clearly also not the case.

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154 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Mountain Time ---- formerly Ninjalectual // Sep 24, 2018 - 5:35pm

Well, it's a good-old-boy network more than a meritocracy. How else can you explain Aikman, Simms, Bradshaw, et.al.

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169 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Bobman // Sep 25, 2018 - 2:42am

As long as we're griping about announcers' poor word usage, have you ever noticed that some games seem to feature about six "number 1 picks"??? They throw "number 1" around instead of "first round" about 90% of the time. It's sad that I started remembering the pick number of guys on teams I don't even follow, because when I hear "he was the number 1 pick for the team last year" I end up yelling at my TV "No, he was the 16th pick in the first round."

Luckily for me, so far, the TV fails to respond.

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11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 8:52am

At least it has happened early enough that he should be fine by Week 1 of next season, but still hate to see another major quarterback injury.

All this BS with rule changes to protect the delicate snowflake is an NFL QB and our exciting new kid goes down to a non-contact injury.

Perhaps the NFL will start to penalize Clay Matthews for turf-based injuries.

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13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by deus01 // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:06am

If they weren't trying to tackle him he wouldn't have suffered a non-contact injury trying to avoid them. Let's just let make it a penalty to chase after the QB!

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18 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:25am

As an added bonus, this will outlaw Chase Daniel

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92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by ChrisS // Sep 24, 2018 - 1:30pm

When the rule has wording like this"A rushing defender is prohibited from committing such intimidating and punishing acts" you can see why the refs are over-protecting the QB's from any hard hits. Rushers probably should just target the ball as any significant hit on the QB is likely to be flagged.

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14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:08am

Better question: if at noon today, someone had asked if it was more likely that the Bills win outright in Minnesota or the Patriots score only ten against the Lions, which would you have chosen?

Bills.

It would have been explicable for Brady to get hurt. Buffalo housing Minnesota in Minnesota is so unexpected that somewhere, a whale just turned into a bowl of petunias.

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15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:18am

I’m not as shocked by the Lions winning as I should be. My experience rooting for this team since 1989 is that when you start believing in them, they inevitably let you down, but when you’re about ready to give up on them, they throw out a head-scratching good performance.*

*this excludes the Matt Millen era

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17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:23am

I have no idea what make of Bills-Vikings. I still think the Vikings are a very good team. This might be like when they got blown out by a terrible 49ers team in 2015, but went on to finish 11-5. Like a cannon that’s deadly and reliable most of the time, but will occasionally blow up when you try to fire it.

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20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:27am

I remain convinced blackmail or hostages had to be involved at some point.

Unless Buffalo managed to cock up trying to lose. That feels very Billsian..

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127 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Joe Pancake // Sep 24, 2018 - 3:07pm

It's the Kirk Cousins Threshold. There is a hard limit on how much success he can have. He looks awesome right up until that limit and then it all goes to pot for him and his team. I saw it again and again living in DC. Undefeated after three weeks with everybody tossing his team into the Super Bowl discussion would've surpassed the Kirk Cousins Threshold; thus, a loss was preordained.

(I'm joking... kinda.)

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183 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Jerry // Sep 26, 2018 - 6:18am

Nice Infinite Improbability Drive reference.

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19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:26am

So your damned Ryder Cup ad is acting up.

On Chrome. Happens whether or not I clear the cache.

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136 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Vincent Verhei // Sep 24, 2018 - 3:39pm

When this happens, please get a screencap and send to fomailbag@gmail.com.

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23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by SFC B // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:38am

The Texans have managed to achieve something I figured impossible. They have made Houstonians care less about football than baseball. It helps that the Astros are defending champions with a serious shot at repeating, but the disinterest in the NFL as Houston clads itself in orange is noticeable.

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37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Sep 24, 2018 - 10:24am

What’s up with Deshaun Watson? Every time I see him play this year, it seems like if his first read isn’t open, he drops his eyes and looks to run.

The Texans and the 49ers have to be the two most disappointed fan bases, after expecting to get full seasons of their good in small samples quarterbacks from last year.

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31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by tjb // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:58am

Has a 17 point underdog ever covered the spread in the opposite direction before? Eeking out a fluke win is completely different than what happened in Minneapolis yesterday...

BTW - Since Vontae Davis retired, the Bills have out scored their opponents 41-9.

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48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Eddo // Sep 24, 2018 - 11:00am

Here's a list of all underdogs of 15+ points to have won, post-merger. No team prior to Buffalo had won by more than 7.

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95 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by tjb // Sep 24, 2018 - 1:42pm

Thanks.

The 92 Bills lost *consecutive games* as 15+ point favorites. Wow.

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143 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Mike B. In Va // Sep 24, 2018 - 4:43pm

That team was not actually very good - the worst of the 4 SB teams, IMO - they just had a weak schedule. They should have gone out in the WC game, but Frank Reich happened.

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138 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Richie // Sep 24, 2018 - 3:47pm

FWIW, PFR only has point spread data back to 1978. (And all the Super Bowls prior to 1978.)

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32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by johonny // Sep 24, 2018 - 10:07am

Mia-Oak: Miami is carrying four quarterbacks. There's no reason in the modern NFL to carry four quarterbacks unless they're four highly valuable QBs and you're sure you can flip one for draft picks. Instead Miami's three back ups sure appear to be replacement level guys that would probably still be looking for work if cut. I bring this up only because Miami was rotating offensive linemen into their D-line because one DT (really an end) got hurt and another got tossed. You shouldn't be paper thin at depth because you really really like Brock Osweiler. We all know he's gonna hurt you baby in the end. Jones better be healthy against New England because the Raiders seemed to be isolating and exploiting Miami's rookies all day. Miami finally remembers all their speed at WR. They got all five involved in the offense today, even Parker! Miami's TE still not involved in passing game. Harris still not getting sacks. This is still the same Dolphins team Gase always fields. They typically play one good half, one terrible half. So far this year their one good half has been enough. AFC least update 1) Miami For one week I'll put them first given they're the only one with a winning record. 2) NE, It really feels like they count on Brady to scare teams into mistakes too much. Right now Brady looks blah and the team is getting pushed around. If Brady went down...look out below. Still it's only week 3. 3) Bills, Yeah, you didn't see that Viking game coming either. 4) Jets, I didn't know the rules of football allowed the Browns to win. It's an odd standing in the East right now. It feels like the Jets and Pats are better than this, the Bills are playing about where you expect, and Miami is in over their shallow rosters' heads. IDK.

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35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Sep 24, 2018 - 10:18am

Wow, 4 quarterbacks? Most teams don’t even carry 3 nowadays. And one of those quarterbacks is Brock Osweiler? Who in the Dolphins organization does he have compromising pictures of?

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76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by johonny // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:24pm

He's filling the role of proven veteran. Which makes me think of Rob Neyer's old saying that asked why are proven veterans so valuable to teams if what they've proven is that they're not very good.

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163 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Noah Arkadia // Sep 24, 2018 - 8:33pm

What Gase actually said, though, is that it made sense to develop QBs and that's why he went with four. I think Osweiller counts as one of those guy he plans to develop. Funny he should have just come up with that notion on his third year in the league when a fourth was hardly guaranteed. It's a weird organization.

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50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Steve in WI // Sep 24, 2018 - 11:04am

Good God, David Fales is still in the league? Why?

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155 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Mountain Time ---- formerly Ninjalectual // Sep 24, 2018 - 5:42pm

Gotta get to four QBs somehow

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33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by jtr // Sep 24, 2018 - 10:11am

If the 9ers initially think Jimmy G tore his ACL, they're probably correct. The injury experts on this site have pointed out before that the quick on-field ACL tear test almost never has false positives. Basically, the ACL is the main thing holding your knee together, so a trainer can easily feel that your knee joint is moving in ways that it shouldn't be able to. Very tough break for a 49ers fanbase that hadn't had much to be hopeful about since the Harbaugh firing.

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54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Andrew Potter // Sep 24, 2018 - 11:14am

I've been writing the Injury Aftermath article for around four years now. The only false positive in all that time was Jeremy Maclin, who almost certainly had residual looseness in his knee from a prior ACL repair.

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36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by jw124164 // Sep 24, 2018 - 10:21am

Earl Thomas is awesome, and I don't know why Seattle won't extend him and nobody else will trade for him...

Falcons may have to, now that both starting safeties seem to be done for the year. Trade for Earl, sign Eric Reid .. boom, we're right back in this thing.

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41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 10:38am

I'm not sure why NE hasn't tried.

Unless they have, and Seattle just laughed and placed the phone next to a TV playing Caillou at full volume instead of simply hanging up.

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42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Raiderjoe // Sep 24, 2018 - 10:38am

seahwska seem very weird team with this stuff. earl thomnas not too happy. alreayd lost some guys due to salary cap rleated to giiving major contract to R. wilso. would thikn B. wagner and e. thomas besrt defenders to sign long term. not sure if wagner was given vbig deal or not but thomas ceetainly wasn't yet. a lot of good support plauyers are gone due to injuries and salary cap reasons. think losing Thomas woudl be mistake. unless jerk and doesn't want to be there anymore. that would change thing,.s

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166 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Willsy // Sep 24, 2018 - 10:23pm

RJ,

The Raiders certainly "look" alright. Have been surprised with players on all sides of the ball.

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55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Arkaein // Sep 24, 2018 - 11:16am

I'm hoping GB takes a run at ET3. GB has a lot of depth at safety, but apparently no one who knows how to take correct angles in center field.

Last week GB gave up a TD to Diggs, when Kevin King was playing outside technique Diggs slanted in, with Clinton-Dix inexplicably running to the outside to cover no one. Later, Kentrell Brice is the deep safety and take a poor angle to the sideline on Thielen's TD catch.

This week, Jaire Alexander is playing outside technique on Paul Richardson and gives up the post, where Brice should be in great position to defend. However, he gets himself turned around the lets Richardson get past him, and ends taking Alexander out of the play, so Richardson is able to catch the ball while falling down, then stand up and run it in before he is touched.

I really have no idea why the coaches like Brice as a free safety. He's a big hitter that seems much more suited to being in the box. We haven't seen much of 2nd year player Josh Jones due to injury, but he's also more of a SS/LB hybrid than a deep cover guy.

GB would be instantly upgraded with ET3, and they could easily afford to package one of their existing safeties (who are mostly you and cheap) along with draft picks for Thomas. I hope GB is looking at this possibility.

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70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by yavimaya_eldred // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:16pm

"GB has a lot of depth at safety"

I guess bad depth is technically depth. Brice is one of the worst safeties I've ever seen in coverage (he's had like three Rahim Moore against Ravens level plays this season alone), Dix plays like he's scared of contact, and Jones was pretty bad last season (he was only a rookie so maybe he'll be good, but he's definitely not a cover guy). I understand sticking with Dix, he's had stretches of good play before and they've invested a lot in him, but I'm stunned they haven't made any attempt to upgrade next to him. Realistically they should upgrade both positions but they clearly have no interest in signing Reid for undoubtedly stupid reasons and I don't see them making a splash trade for Thomas either.

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93 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by ChrisS // Sep 24, 2018 - 1:37pm

I read something to the effect that this year FA safeties were getting low under-market contract offers. So teams are currently thinking safeties are over-rated or the Eric Reid situation is keeping teams from pursuing FA safeties or something else.

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129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Joe Pancake // Sep 24, 2018 - 3:13pm

As a Seahawks fan, I couldn't agree more. I really, really want them to extend him: Three years, a boatload of money -- it's worth it.

I know there is friction between him and the team, but you what can go along ways in assuaging friction? A multiyear deal for a boatload of money.

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38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Will Allen // Sep 24, 2018 - 10:33am

Didn't expect an interesting day for the NFL so spent the entire day clearing brush and then had family event last night. Shows ya' that I know as much as anyone, which is nothing.

Certainly thought it possible the Vikings could lose, but sure did't see losing by 21, and it is no surprise that poor pass blocking played a big part. I also see the Bills first td drive was aided by a lowering the helmet and a facemask penalty. Easily the worst performance of the Zimmer era.

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94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Mike W // Sep 24, 2018 - 1:38pm

We're all just glad to hear you're ok, Will.

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149 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by morganja // Sep 24, 2018 - 5:12pm

What did you expect after they let Matt Kalil go?

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43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Will Allen // Sep 24, 2018 - 10:40am

Really curious to see what Adrian Peterson does the rest of the season. He still appears to have his burst, but he doesn't need to lose much to become ineffective, since he's always been sort of one dimensional, even though in his prime that one dimension could make a 6 win team into a 10 win team.

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65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by justanothersteve // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:03pm

Peterson only needs to play the Packers every other game. He'd destroy the single season rushing record. I don't know his game average when playing the Packers, but it's gotta be well over 100 yards/game.

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67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:12pm

Good but not great.

106 yards/game against the Pack. He's actually better against Detroit and Chicago, although it's really close.

The team he destroys is the Chargers. 173 yards/game in three games.

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73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Will Allen // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:22pm

Well the 1st time was 296 yards, when Ted Cottrell, defensive mastermind, decided the way to play a team with Brooks Bollinger (!), no receivers to speak of, and Adrian Peterson, was with 7 in the box, the safeties about 15 yards deep, and the corners off the wideouts. Really the most incompetent coaching performance I've ever seen and remember Marty Schottenheimer was fired coming off of a 13-3 season because A.J. Smith insisted on Cottrell as the new defensive coordinator.

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68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Will Allen // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:13pm

Was the D.C. team running him primarily out out of siingle back formation, 7 yards deep?

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108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Chip // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:21pm

yes.

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130 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Will Allen // Sep 24, 2018 - 3:18pm

That, and his inexcusable pass blocking, has always been his most limiting attributes. When he was in his prime, however, they didn't limit much at all, so great was the chance that he could score on any handoff. I'm pretty sure that is why he never worked very hard to eliminate those limiting attributes. He was so great, from such an early age, that it seemed unimportant.

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75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by yavimaya_eldred // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:23pm

I don't think one good game against the Packers means anything. They were absolutely dreadful yesterday, and on top of that their base defense in 5 defensive backs AND they have to hedge to protect both rookie and slow/old corners with bad safeties.

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78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Will Allen // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:39pm

He had a nice game against the Cardinals, too, and if you discount every performance of an offensive player against a bad defense, you really are misinterpreting the data. I didn't expect him to do as much as he has, and now I'm wondering if he could catch Dickerson on the all time rushing list by end of the season.

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44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Raiderjoe // Sep 24, 2018 - 10:43am

good running by Loins player K. johnson last ngith. saw him several tiomes when he played for Auburn Tigers. very nice running style. slithery and smooth style. Makes think of nice glass of smooth whiskey going down the hatch. Very impressive running vbs Pates. didn't show mnuch vs Jets. I did not see much of 49ers game btu did see the partt where opther Liosn RB L. Blount was ejected for coming off sidline to knock down a 49ers defender.

tionight think Pitts will beat Buccs. Do not like Styeel;ers defense very much but also know Fitzpatrick will throw a game away soon. Very prone to the interceptio.n Sghould be fun game to watch. doubt a blowout will occur.

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156 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Mountain Time ---- formerly Ninjalectual // Sep 24, 2018 - 5:50pm

He's more like a fine Gucci leather bag, IYAM. One that you can take with you to your first-class jetliner seat.

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47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Pat // Sep 24, 2018 - 10:59am

"That third-and-8 followed what I thought was a preposterous intentional grounding call. I enjoy seeing Brady not having everything go his way as much as anyone, but man ... he's the only guy I've ever seen take a grounding call on a deep ball, and this is the third time I've seen it. And in that case, to suggest he got nervous about one single edge rusher -- who wasn't even near him at the time when he began the throw -- is absurd."

No way that was a preposterous intentional grounding call. If you can get away with violating the *spirit* of intentional grounding by avoiding violating it to the *letter* - by chucking it at the heels of a blocking receiver - you have to get called for violating the *letter* even when you're not violating the *spirit*. I agree he probably wasn't nervous and it was probably just a screwup, but hey, that's the way the rule's written.

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57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by PatsFan // Sep 24, 2018 - 11:17am

Here's the definition, right out of the 2018 rulebook:
It is a foul for intentional grounding if a passer, facing an imminent loss of yardage because of pressure from the defense, throws a forward pass without a realistic chance of completion. A realistic chance of completion is defined as a pass that is thrown in the direction of and lands in the vicinity of an originally eligible receiver.

Totally agree there was no realistic chance of completing that. But there was no way Brady was "facing imminent loss of yardage because of pressure" at the time he thew it. In another second or two, probably so. But not when he threw it.

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59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 11:21am

I'll have to see the replay, but live it looked like Brady stepped up to avoid the DE coming around the right tackle and then airmailed one 10 yards beyond the three deep Lions, with no Pats player visible.

I was more surprised Brady had enough arm to throw it that far.

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80 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Pat // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:47pm

"No way" is a bit strong. I think that's totally a call that people could reasonably disagree about, though, and they did have to get together to discuss it. But it's definitely not "preposterous" (which is what Dave said in Audibles).

Plus, remember, it was called live - so the officials' discussion probably went something like "was he about to get sacked?" and to the guy behind Brady, that's probably what it looked like. (Also worth noting that the same thing happened to Brady - much more justifiably - in the Super Bowl in 2012, so it's not like there's no precedent for him doing something like this).

In Audibles Dave suggested Brady might've thrown it out of "frustration" instead of to avoid being sacked - but honestly, as a QB, you can't do that, because you don't even *know* where all of the rushers are, so you might be under more pressure than you think. Again, violating the *letter* as opposed to the *spirit*.

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83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:50pm

If we need to account for a QB's subjective interpretation of pressure, that would have meant what for prime Roethlisberger -- three men hanging off him? Four?

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158 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Mountain Time ---- formerly Ninjalectual // Sep 24, 2018 - 6:08pm

So by rule, every incomplete pass where a receiver doesn't get a finger on the ball is open to be intentional grounding, if the pass rush is within four yards or whatever. Obviously, if you can't touch the ball, you have no realistic chance of catching it.

This rule has never been called to the letter in this situation (or possibly any situation).

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162 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by morganja // Sep 24, 2018 - 7:44pm

It has been called. Certainly not rarely. Just not on the Patriots. Brady has spent a career intentionally grounding to avoid sacks, that have been routinely ignored by the refs. So much so that Patriot fans don't even know the rule. Why would they?
I'm still waiting for the refs to start calling offensive pass interference on their patented third down screen pass in which everyone is blocking long before the catch is made. If they start calling that on the Patriots too, they're done.

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165 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Eddo // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:52pm

The same sort of intentional grounding call was made in the second Patriots-Giants Super Bowl, for a safety against Brady. I think this is rarely called because it's rarely done; Brady is the only QB I've ever seen who has done this, chucking the ball as far as he can down the middle of the field when he is under pressure.

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58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Led // Sep 24, 2018 - 11:18am

Not really disagreeing your main point, but why would Brady throw an intentional incompletion for no reason? There's no defense that a receiver surprisingly cut off his route. Brady just threw it away on purpose. Obviously, he bailed on the play to avoid a sack. So I don't think the call even violated the spirit of the rules. That Brady may be faster than most to anticipate pressure shouldn't be a defense.

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84 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Pat // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:50pm

Might not have been intentional - it's entirely possible that a receiver was supposed to break that way and Brady never realized he didn't do it. Or he could've just thrown it out of frustration, too. (Note that neither of these two things is a smart thing for a QB to do, but Brady's been known to get petulant.)

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60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by sbond101 // Sep 24, 2018 - 11:26am

The call hinges on two judgement calls; First is he "under pressure", it's a borderline case looking at the tape. Second, is it "in the area of a receiver", on the surface this is clear enough - however QB's regularly throw the ball 10 feet short of the feet of a receive that's 20 feet away and get let go It would seem logical that the longer the hangtime of the pass the wider the "area" should be called. In this case the ball is 15 yards from the nearest receiver, but being 15 yards away from a receiver on a deep ball (traveling 30ish yards) is actually pretty comparable on a relative basis with the way the rule is called around the LOS. Presumably this is why the call is almost never made on a deep ball.

In general I think the call is the right one - I think asking the ref to calibrate whether a receiver could have had a real shot at it if he ran a different route based on the hang-time is kind of non-sense - but I think if your going to call that one, you should call all the BS "in the general direction of the feet of a short route receiver" throws IG because there just as much uncatchable balls.

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61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by PatsFan // Sep 24, 2018 - 11:42am

It's not merely "under pressure". It's "facing imminent loss of yardage" due to pressure. I don't buy there was imminent loss at the moment he threw it.

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53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Mike B. In Va // Sep 24, 2018 - 11:11am

I'm assuming Any Given Sunday this week will be the Pats-Lions or Titans-Jags, since I'm fairly certain writing anything positive about Buffalo - and Josh Allen specifically - would make Rivers' head explode.

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55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by TomC // Sep 24, 2018 - 11:16am

Khalil Mack is a joy to watch, and when the rest of the Bears' defense is not blowing coverages, they are also quite good. But the current level of impact on games is historically unsustainable (Mack won't force a key fumble in every one of 16 games, just like Peanut Tillman couldn't sustain his ridiculous start to 2012), and if (when) the defense regresses even a bit, the offense has to suddenly achieve competence. Maybe that will happen, but right now the combination of Trubisky's inconsistency and some truly bizarre play-calling and clock management has that offense looking like, well, a Bears offense.

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62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by jamesk517 // Sep 24, 2018 - 11:46am

The Jags Titans game was one of the worst games I've ever witnessed. Losing to a quarterback that literally couldn't feel his fingers, awesome!

Some awful, awful calls from Marrone/the coaching staff in that game too. Most notably punting on 4th and 3 with three minutes left, ugh. Only got the ball back with 20 seconds left and immediately went to laterals. Also failed on a fake punt early on that couldn't have been more telegraphed if they stuck THIS IS A FAKE on the big screen

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159 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Mountain Time ---- formerly Ninjalectual // Sep 24, 2018 - 6:14pm

I didn't see any of this game, how did they telegraph the fake?

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171 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by jamesk517 // Sep 25, 2018 - 8:00am

They had Corey Grant (who was the runner in every fake punt last year) motion across the line, and it was just absolutely blatant the way they lined up.

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179 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Mountain Time ---- formerly Ninjalectual // Sep 25, 2018 - 3:37pm

Ah. Yeah, any motion on a kick formation other than maybe bringing in the gunners to block is a dead giveaway.

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63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by yavimaya_eldred // Sep 24, 2018 - 11:54am

This Packers team is bad. Just plain bad. DVOA doesn't like them, and they sure don't pass the eye test either. It makes some sense defensively, they have no pass rush and their safeties are among the worst in the league. But it's puzzling how inept the offense is. It's tempting to blame it all on Rodgers' injury, but while he is diminished he's played pretty well. Drops, penalties, archaic offensive design, and conservative playcalling are killing them. The unit is far more talented than they're performing, but with each week this looks more and more like a team that needs a change at head coach. I used to be a McCarthy guy, but he doesn't adapt to what the rest of the league is doing at some point that just makes you a bad coach.

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71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by justanothersteve // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:18pm

Unfortunately, it's no longer up to the GM to keep the coach. It's now Murphy's job and I don't think he's up to firing McCarthy if needed. I don't think Gutekunst would hesitate if he thought firing the coach was the best course of action for the team.

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96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Mike W // Sep 24, 2018 - 1:42pm

If the Packers fail to make the playoffs there will be a lot of pressure from the fans to get rid of McCarthy. The clock is ticking on Rodgers's career, and the last few years have shown the Packers minus Rodgers to be not good enough. Another year or two of this and McCarthy will be gone.

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107 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by dank067 // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:19pm

Also, even though McCarthy apparently has more power in the organization now, he only received a 1-year contract extension last offseason—his deal is now up after 2019. Outside of Marvin Lewis, very few NFL head coaches go through a lame-duck season. If the Packers miss the playoffs again this season it's hard for me to imagine a contract extension for McCarthy. I think he would be gone.

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125 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by theslothook // Sep 24, 2018 - 3:05pm

How much of this anti McCatharyism(couldn't resist) is really on him vs being let down by expectations. I get that once you have Rodgers, the goal seems to be high seeds every year, but why should it be? The Packers have been drafting high for years and this attrition of talent is to be expected. Maybe the decline is talent and not so much coaching.

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142 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by dank067 // Sep 24, 2018 - 4:21pm

For sure, the overall talent level on GB's roster over the back half of McCarthy's tenure is not what it had previously been. McCarthy has had many of the same strengths and weaknesses during his entire tenure in GB, and the weaknesses are more visible when the team isn't as good.

Where I think McCarthy has failed most is with the decline of the Packers offense. Helmed by a HoF QB in his prime, since 2015 their effectiveness has declined dramatically. Outside of when they 'ran the table' in the 2nd half of 2016, even with Rodgers healthy they've barely managed to be a top-half-of-the-league passing offense in terms of efficiency or total output. And even with injuries their offensive line has been at least league average the entire time. It's been extraordinarily frustrating to watch.

I could ramble on a long time about what I think is wrong with McCarthy's offense: that they call way too many slow-developing pass plays that rely on their receivers to win one-on-one matchups downfield, that they're content to let Rodgers hold the ball and throw into tiny windows when inevitably no one gets open, that they don't do enough to 'scheme' receivers open with route combinations that attack the coverage the defense is playing—and that all of this is exacerbated by the decline in talent at WR and TE over the years. Bottom line is I think they would benefit immensely from a complete and total overhaul of their offense with a fresh perspective.

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64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by theslothook // Sep 24, 2018 - 11:54am

This is pretty inconsequential but that first drive of the second half in the 49ers Chiefs game - showed some of the worst defense I've ever seen in one drive. 49ers ran the simple toss play over and over which netted them 10 yards a clip. And that touchdown pass was textbook incompetence, sending three guys to cover a shallow cross leaving the other cross are completely wide open with no one there to touch him.

The Chiefs defensive line looked horrible in this game. Outside of some Justin Houston Magic, I'm not sure what this defense is. I fear Bob Sutton will take the fall for this if the Chiefs lose some shootout in the playoffs.

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66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by justanothersteve // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:05pm

Next week Clay Matthews will say boo to the QB; he will still draw a roughing the passer penalty.

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74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by BroncFan07 // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:23pm

I have to say, a guilty pleasure so far this season is tuning in to whichever game Bruce Arians is calling, listening to his analysis, and realizing he doesn't know who 75% of the players are on the field. Everyone gets a generic QB-Eagles name: "The wide receiver," "the end", etc.

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79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by jtr // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:40pm

He was just coaching last year! Shouldn't he know all these guys from his last two decades of breaking down opponent film?

I guess it's just that creepily anonymizing part of football culture where names are replaced with jersey numbers. You don't need to know any of the names of the guys on the other team, you just need to know that #55 has a killer speed rush and they like to blitz #31 from the slot.

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86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Will Allen // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:55pm

Eh, I don't know about "creepy", although obviously YMMV. When you have 44 starters in every game, 22 on the field, not including special teams, coaches are just naturally going to use jersey numbers. It's easy to forget that football is just massively more complex than most other team sports.

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91 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by jtr // Sep 24, 2018 - 1:28pm

It just seems extra dehumanizing in a league that specializes in chewing people up and spitting them out. The whole business is about bringing in young men right out of college, using up their bodies and damaging their brains, then cancelling the last couple years of their contracts and kicking them to the curb when they're too beat up to be useful anymore. It seems like they least they could do is learn your damn name while they're doing it, instead of calling you by the number on your shirt.

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106 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Will Allen // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:14pm

A couple of things. First, the trope or implication of the NFL being unique in having team options on contracts really needs to die. Every sport has them. Yes, it is far more common in the NFL and yes, it is far more common due to A) injury risk being higher and B) there is a hard salary cap. However, if the players were for some ignorant reason were to collectively bargain for no team options, 100% guaranteed contracts, all it would mean is that players would get less at the beginning of the contract, which would not make them better off, and might make them worse off. The most important thing that could help players, that might be doable (besides the obvious increase in percentage of revenues) would be to shorten rookie contracts, and to either get rid of the franchise tag, or make a player eligible for the franchise tag only one time in their career. The game is inevitably going to have short median career lengths, and as long as the players get to extract as much in earnings as they can in that span, whether some coach uses a name or a number doesn't seem to have any impression on me. Again, however, I understand that others see it differently.

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109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by BroncFan07 // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:21pm

Really, for me, it's more of a commentary that Arians's job now is to work on one game per week and offer analysis of it for a TV audience. Meaning, he just has to study the one game and learn the players, trends, and such. I can see how in the week to week coaching and preparing a team to face an opponent, the coaching tendency would be to refer to the other team's players by number as an easy way to establish assignments. But in his case now, his job would be "learn the players so you can describe them to your audience."

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118 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by dank067 // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:37pm

This for sure. On one hand he may probably still be learning or working on breaking old tendencies/habits. On the other hand, I'm worried networks have taken the wrong lesson from how successful Romo was going straight from the field into the booth. I actually haven't heard Arians call a game yet but Jason Witten is un-listenable so far...

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121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:40pm

Better than Fouts or Aikman+Buck.

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126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Will Allen // Sep 24, 2018 - 3:06pm

There are some bad analysts who were former coaches, but the best analysts for me are usually guys who coached, not former players. Some of the guys who mostly worked radio were or are terrific. Hank Stram did Monday Nights on radio eons ago, and you could tell he had put the film work in as if he was still coaching. Just great analysis, including almost always being able to predict the playcall, based on formation and situation. Dan Reeves does a really nice job on radio, and you might imagine, he never blathers on to hear his own voice.

Witten, Aikman, Fouts? I just mute the sound.

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135 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 3:34pm

On the other hand, I really like Romo, liked Summerall, and Collinsworth is the best-prepped announcer around. All former players.

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139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Will Allen // Sep 24, 2018 - 3:51pm

I don't dislike Collinsworth, but he has grown to hyperbolic for my tastes over the past few seasons.

Summerall was play by play, of course, and great. Sometimes would describe a a long game breaking td with two or three words.

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145 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Mike B. In Va // Sep 24, 2018 - 4:47pm

Summerall was like the "Elements of Style" version of the play-by-play - clear, concise, and just enough coloration to give you what you needed. It doesn't get any better than him and Madden during their prime.

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160 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Mountain Time ---- formerly Ninjalectual // Sep 24, 2018 - 6:27pm

Brady Poppinga is great on the radio, every time I've heard him

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167 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Willsy // Sep 24, 2018 - 10:31pm

Will,

My favourite Summerall memory was when he called the Skins in the Gibbs era. They had an LB called Rich Milot (or Millot). A tackle would be made and Pat would say "and Rich Milot makes the stop." Fantastic.

Willsy

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144 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Mike B. In Va // Sep 24, 2018 - 4:45pm

I had forgotten about Stram. He was great.

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140 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by ChrisS // Sep 24, 2018 - 4:00pm

Compared to Booger McFarland, the other MNF "analyst", Witten is pure genius.

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146 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Mike B. In Va // Sep 24, 2018 - 4:48pm

As terrible as they are, it's still WAY more enjoyable than having to sit through Sunday Night Baseball. Ugh.

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128 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Will Allen // Sep 24, 2018 - 3:10pm

Well, sure, but what is Arian? 64, 65, years old? He's been speaking about action on a football field in a certain way for 40 years. That isn't likely to change much. Personally, compared to the hype machine that most analysts are turned into eventually, where every player is the super-duperist, spoken of in the most hyperbolic yet platitudinous way, some technocratic depersonalization, while incisively descrbing why what just happened occurred in that manner, is something I appreciate.

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150 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by morganja // Sep 24, 2018 - 5:15pm

What bothers me more than him not using their names, is that he calls them by their Roman numerals.

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110 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Chip // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:26pm

+1 (on Will Allen's comment)

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134 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Joe Pancake // Sep 24, 2018 - 3:34pm

"First, the trope or implication of the NFL being unique in having team options on contracts really needs to die."

Couldn't agree with this more. Similarly, I hate when people say "NFL contracts aren't guaranteed." Not true -- the guaranteed money is guaranteed! Just like any contract.

If a baseball player signs a two-year deal for $10 million a year, with two club option years at the same price, and the team doesn't pick them up, nobody is outraged or thinks the player got cheated out of $20 million. Part of the problem, I think, is the way contracts in the NFL are reported (or at least have been reported in the past -- reporters seem to be smarter about this now, spelling out explicitly the money that is guaranteed).

Now, if you want to say the players have a bad deal overall and aren't getting enough in return for the risks to their health they assume, that's a different argument (and one I'm very sympathetic to), but as Will Allen points out that is a very different point.

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113 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by dank067 // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:31pm

I don't think it's intentionally dehumanizing, at least not in that way. I think it's mostly just a form of shorthand that arises from the need to identify players as quickly and clearly as possible as you're processing information on the field—no one wants to fumble around in their mind for a substitute or sub-package player's last name when you need to call them out as the Mike and figure out the rest of your assignments as the play clock is winding down.

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116 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:35pm

I think Arians is aware of the dehumanizing nature of the game, having worked his career without the benefit of a union, having spent 37 years making it to HC, and owing Chuck Pagano 9 career wins for having his name on the tin.

Arians got credit for zero wins in one of his CoY seasons.

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81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by TecmoBoso // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:47pm

I think it's a bit of a stretch to get to 10 wins for the Bears, but it's now looking very tough for the Vikings to get to 10 wins also. With the next two @Rams and @Eagles, the Vikings could easily find themselves 1-3-1 and probably needing to go 9-2 the rest of the way to win the division. That Eagles game looks huge for the Vikings.

If anything, I might have the Packers as the favorites in the NFC North. But that assumes Rodgers is getting healthier, which of course, might not be the case. So we're back to the Bears, but Trubisky looks like the worst non-rookie QB starter in the league (injuries in Tennessee and San Francisco aside). And while the Bears D looks good, I'm not sure it's other-worldly good.

As for the rest of the NFC... while you can play this game with a lot of teams, the Eagles are two plays from being 0-3. They've been riding luck for a while now. But a win is a win and the rest of the division is pretty uninspiring. The South appears to be better than most expected. The Rams are the class of the conference (and the league), while Garoppolo's injury probably means an end to any sort of playoff hopes the 49ers had. This strikes me as a very good weekend for the NFC South.

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89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by justanothersteve // Sep 24, 2018 - 1:25pm

I don't know who wins the NFC North now. My Packers look like crap, almost a mirror image of the Patriots - one of the best QBs ever, a few other talented players, a bunch of JAGs, and a defense with more holes than the Albert Hall - with a worse coach. The Vikings and Bears both have excellent defenses (I really think the loss to the Bills was a fluke - see pretty much every season for a similar upset - though Zimmer needs to patch the OL before Cousins gets killed and probably Siemian too.), but the Vikings have real offensive weapons. I definitely think Minnesota wins the division as long as Cousins can stay healthy (a huge if). The Lions are essentially the Packers with a lesser QB and slightly better talent elsewhere. Depending on injuries, 2-4 could go in any order. I'm not sure the Packers can get to 8-8 even with Rodgers.

Of course, September is Jump to Conclusions Month

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131 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by TecmoBoso // Sep 24, 2018 - 3:24pm

But that's why I go back to "can the Bears get to 10 wins". The tie and the loss to the Bills puts the Vikings in a tougher than expected spot. I think the Vikings can still get to 9 wins (after @Rams, @Eagles, the schedule really eases up as their two toughest games are probably @NE and v Saints). But if they lose both of the next two, 10 wins becomes a stretch... and a 10-6 Bears team wins the division over a 9-6-1 Vikings team. The Bears probably need either a new QB or a minor miracle to get to 10 wins, but they've already caught some injury luck with Jimmy G going down so that's a small start.

You're right about jumping to conclusions, but banked wins (and loses (and ties!)) matter too (this also applies to the Patriots to a certain extent).

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102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by yavimaya_eldred // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:10pm

It may be an overreaction to a 3 game sample, but the NFC North looks like it's competing for worst division in the league. The Bears look mediocre, the Lions are still the Lions, the Packers look downright bad, and the Vikings have a rough schedule and just got sandblasted at home to possibly the worst team in football. I still expect the Vikings to win the division and the Packers should at least be around .500 assuming Rodgers plays all year, but early returns on the North aren't looking so hot.

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111 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by TecmoBoso // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:30pm

I'd put the NFC East and AFC South as worse divisions. And if the Patriots are 'bad' this year, the AFC East looks pretty poor also—I guess we'll find out as the NFC North and AFC East play each other. But going into the year, the North did seem to have a chance to be one of the better divisions in the NFL this year, but that doesn't look to be the case.

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105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by dank067 // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:12pm

The Vikings having to travel to LA to play the Rams on a Thursday night is a brutal schedule draw... it's probably too early to put them in too much of a hole though. They still have both head-to-head matchups with Chicago and Detroit. Green Bay just lost to their NFC East opponent, so a Vikings loss to the Eagles wouldn't set them back on their schedule relative to GB, if that makes sense. Of course if they can take one of these next two on the road they'll definitely appreciate the breathing room.

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157 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by xydux // Sep 24, 2018 - 6:04pm

As a Broncos fan, I question whether Trubisky really looks much worse than Keenum.

Trubisky seems to be having "rookie problems"–not seeing the field correctly, being out-of-sorts as soon as they lose the scripted series. Keenum, meanwhile, looks competent up until he throws an interception that begs to invoke a certain K.C. Green comic (how horrifying). Trubs at least has some semblance of promise, since it's only his second year.

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82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Will Allen // Sep 24, 2018 - 12:49pm

Now that I think about it, the Packers poor pass rush fooled me a little regarding the Vikings offensive line. They really have blocked poorly in 2 of 3 games, and have Donald and Suh to deal with, in L.A., in about 80 hours. If Elflein doesn't get back to starting at center this week, I think Cousins is going to get hurt.

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122 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:49pm

Yea I watched most of that game yesterday, and Jerry Hughes was eating the Vikings’ offense alive. It got the point where I was wondering if Rick Spielman secretly traded for Ereck Flowers before the game.

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147 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Mike B. In Va // Sep 24, 2018 - 4:54pm

To be fair - and I'm waiting for some of the better All-22 Bills analysts to confirm this - it looked like they changed Hughes' responsibilities in this game, and he was free to pass rush more than he has been since McDermott got there. I know they threw MN some things I haven't seen from them during the current regime, so they probably didn't have film on it.

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87 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by MilkmanDanimal // Sep 24, 2018 - 1:14pm

Having had the same surgery Andrew Luck had a bit more than 10 months ago, I pretty recently started being able to sleep on that side again. I know he has the best care and rehab you can get, but that particular procedure basically has made certain motions impossible for almost a year. If you're just going to be chucking a ball deep hoping for something good to happen, I'm kind of thinking the Colts made the right call there.

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98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by drobviousso // Sep 24, 2018 - 1:53pm

So, for those of us that were never into college ball and root for a team with a traditional passing attack, what is the difference between a speed option and a read option?

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114 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:31pm

This is Mahomes' play:
http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2018092305/2018/REG3/49ers@Chiefs?icampaig...

In a read option the QB "reads" the (usually) unblocked DE on the play side while at the hand-off point. If the DE takes an angle towards the RB, the QB will keep the ball and (usually) run to where the DE used to be. If the DE takes an angle towards the QB, he will hand it off to the RB.

In a speed option, the QB and the RB both run quickly in one direction along the LOS immediately after the snap. If both players are in the same speed neighborhood, the QB and RB will parallel each other until the QB has to make a decision to keep or pitch the ball to the RB. (If a defense badly busts on this play, these guys can continue waiting to decide for tens of yards downfield. I've seen extremely late pitches before.)

speed option:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF3VRDEJQHU

read option:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBvFDHigBT4

variation on read option:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Nt49vayKDM

orbit option, if you're curious:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NU9EszMcwWw

Tennessee's option concepts; includes RPO:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2qOQ857fEI

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115 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by drobviousso // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:32pm

Thanks. Name checks out.

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119 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 2:39pm

No no.

This is the Aaron Brooks Option:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WpleexzYJk

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148 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by justanothersteve // Sep 24, 2018 - 5:11pm

The speed option looks like a standard QB option only out of a shotgun/pistol formation. Other than only having a single RB, I don't see a difference. Am I missing something?

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152 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 24, 2018 - 5:25pm

The traditional option play is an option to a dive back, followed by a sprint out either by the QB alone or with a tailback.

The sprint option eschews the dive option and goes directly to the sprint out.

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137 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Joe Pancake // Sep 24, 2018 - 3:42pm

Seahawks-Cowboys: Agree with the point about the Seahawks not passing at 2:01. I wanted them to take a shot downfield. Wilson is a great deep passer, it likely would have caught the Cowboys off-guard, and even if the pass is intercepted, it's likely to be not much worse than a punt.

The bigger head-scratcher for me, however, was Jason Garrett not challenging the spot of the ball on Carson's first-down run a few plays earlier. It looked very close to me (didn't see a replay), and considering Garrett immediately called timeout -- why not challenge?

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164 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by techvet // Sep 24, 2018 - 9:49pm

Great call on Dave Hampton! He got cheated out of a 1,000 yard season.

Signed,

An old Packers fan

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170 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Bright Blue Shorts // Sep 25, 2018 - 3:31am

From the early days of FootballOutsiders ...

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/walkthrough/2007/every-stat-tells-stor...

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174 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Raiderjoe // Sep 25, 2018 - 10:35am

back when i was drunk mroe. even spelled banaszak wrong.

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176 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Bright Blue Shorts // Sep 25, 2018 - 11:52am

Reply #36 was a good one.

Was that you being witty or someone else?

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177 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Raiderjoe // Sep 25, 2018 - 1:06pm

99% certain that was me. made typo on oen name. not so much typo as omitted final "e" by mistake. we did not have accounts bakc then so always had to repost name with eahc post

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181 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Mountain Time ---- formerly Ninjalectual // Sep 25, 2018 - 3:42pm

It's funny but I don't really think of 2007 as the "early days" here. I remember dominating in fantasy that year because I was confident enough in FO projections that I went all-in on the Patriots, so I must've been here several years before that

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182 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Bright Blue Shorts // Sep 25, 2018 - 6:01pm

Think the site started in Sept 2003, so four years isn't that early but it's also eleven years ago. Bloody hell time flies. Seems like only yesterday that I read that article and the other ones about the worst kicker in NFL history and some other quirky stats

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168 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by nath // Sep 25, 2018 - 2:38am

>>Calvin Ridley has been Atlanta's star -- after his early success, he beat the formerly good Marshon Lattimore for a 75-yard touchdown.

Ridley beat P.J. Williams, not Lattimore. Williams is #26; Lattimore is #23.

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172 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by BJR // Sep 25, 2018 - 8:35am

Ok so this is old ground, and I realise I'm preaching to the converted around here. But the number of negative value strategic decisions that continue to be made by coaches in NFL games is dumbfounding.

On Sunday the Chargers, down 15 with ~11 minutes remaining, facing 4th & 8, kicked a worthless field goal.

Last night the Bucs, down 3, on their own 20, punted the ball away with less than 3 minutes remaining. The game was then over after the next Steelers first down, regardless of field position. The only penalty for going for it and failing would have been likely being down 6 instead of 3 (and the Steelers kicker had already missed twice on the night so this was by no means guaranteed).

As always, context is important. Both the Chargers and the Bucs were facing top tier offences with QBs that had already thrown for well over 300 yards, but had had considerable offensive success themselves. What on Earth is going through the heads of these coaches to think they are better off putting their overmatched defense back out on the field, rather than taking the aggressive option with their offense? Sooner or later this has to change, right?

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175 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by PatsFan // Sep 25, 2018 - 10:43am

Look at what happened to Belichick after 4th-and-2 in 2009. It was the optimal move to make (admittedly just barely) by uncontextual probability and was absolutely the right move to make in the context of that specific part of that specific game because the NE defense was so gassed. And he got (and still gets) excoriated for it.

Now imagine a coach with (substantially) less job security than Belichick.

Probably quite rational for coaches to not be aggressive there.

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180 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Mountain Time ---- formerly Ninjalectual // Sep 25, 2018 - 3:38pm

So, as usual, it's the loud stupid people ruining everything for everyone else.

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178 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Sep 25, 2018 - 2:29pm

Two first downs. Bucs had two times out and the two-minute warning.

If Connor hadn't converted that run with 2:17 to go, Tampa gets the ball back. Granted, not in ideal circumstances, but Pittsburgh had already converted one first down.

I don't hate the decision entirely. Pittsburgh had gone missed FG-punt-punt in the second half. From an expected-points basis, punting actually increased their points expectation. From what I can make of the ESPN win probability chart, it increased their win probability, too.

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