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

Audibles at the Line: Week 11

San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

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 Seahawks 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.

Dallas Cowboys 35 at Detroit Lions 27

Bryan Knowles:Picking up from last week, at least someone agrees with me that the Cowboys' blue jerseys are cursed. The Lions are wearing white at home for the first time since November 1970, forcing the Cowboys into those navy blues.

Bryan Knowles: And, indeed, Zeke Elliott fumbles on the second play from scrimmage. Cuuuuurrrssed!

Bryan Knowles: And the first touchdown of the day comes from ... Bo Scarbrough, playing in his first NFL game. So, without their starting quarterback and with a patched-together running back corps, the Lions strike first against the No. 4 DVOA Cowboys.


Bryan Knowles: OK, maybe they're only cursed for a quarter. It hasn't always been pretty, but Prescott just found Tony Pollard in the middle of nowhere, who juked and dashed his way 20 yards for a score to put Dallas up 10-7.

Bryan Knowles: A great punt return by Jamal Agnew sets the Lions up in Dallas territory. How will Jeff Driskel's arm lead the Lions to paydirt? Well, it won't. The Lions ran six plays -- five rushes, and one play that was technically a sack for zero yards. Scarbrough is having a day in his NFL debut, up to 44 yards and a score on seven carries. Driskel fools everyone at the goal line, rushing in for the score to make it 14-10, Lions.

Bryan Knowles: Michael Gallup with one of the catches of the day, a bobbling, lunging grab while handfighting with the defender. That sets up a Zeke Elliott touchdown two plays later, and we're going back and forth; 17-14 Dallas.

Vince Verhei: Dak Prescott hits Randall Cobb for a 19-yard touchdown pass. Detroit is flagged for a helmet hit, 15 yards, enforced on the kickoff. Brett Maher hits the extra point, but Detroit is flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, 15 more yards, also enforced on the kickoff. So, kicking off from the Detroit 35, they go ahead and try to kick onside, but Detroit recovers and kills the clock. Cowboys up 24-14 at halftime.

Bryan Knowles: Randall Cobb had a drop early (cuuuurrrrsed!) but just put up a huge drive He got wide open for a 49-yard reception, his longest as a Cowboy, and then scored two plays later, absorbing a hell of a shot but holding on to make it a 24-14 Dallas lead as we go to halftime.

Dak Prescott's last two drives saw him go 7-for-8 for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Just to compare, Zeke Elliott is averaging 3.2 yards per carry, with a long of 8 and a fumble. We all know passing is more effective than running, but you'd think a back with a huge contract like Elliott would be more involved in how his offense is doing. Not so much!

Bryan Knowles: The Lions come out after halftime and march down the field; 10 plays, 75 yards to cut the score back to 24-21 in the highest-scoring and most entertaining game of the early window so far. The big play to set up the touchdown was a 39-yard pass to Marvin Hall; catching big passes is all he does. That 39-yard catch actually lowers his yards per reception this season; all but one of his six receptions this year have come between 34 and 58 yards. He's money in a very, very specific window.

Two plays later, Driskel hits Marvin Jones on the run, scrambling away from pressure to cut the lead to three.

Bryan Knowles: Dak Prescott isn't as flashy as the Wilson/Jackson/Mahomes trio, but there's a reason he's second in DYAR and DVOA. Normally if you say someone's playing like a rookie, that's an insult, but Prescott has really found his 2016 form this year. He's now up to 393 yards and three scores, as a screen to Zeke Elliott and the ensuing two-point conversion puts Dallas up 35-21 with eight minutes left, and that should just about put Detroit away.

Aaron Schatz: Yay, Detroit! They went for two down eight after scoring a touchdown. They didn't get it, but it was the right move. The lessons of analytics continue to spread.

Dave Bernreuther: I saw only highlights but just wanted to pop in and say that the Cowboys looked fantastic in their proper navy jersey set AND beat their curse, so take that, Bryan.

Bryan Knowles: Bah, humbug.

Houston Texans 7 at Baltimore Ravens 41

Scott Spratt: Some early excitement in the Texans-Ravens game. A referee fell down on the first play and is being checked out. Could end up in concussion protocol.

Scott Spratt: Also some early actual game action as Matthew Judon forces a fumble on a strip sack of Deshaun Watson, Ravens recovering.

Scott Spratt: And then the unthinkable, Justin Tucker misses a 43-yard field goal attempt. They had just shown a graphic of how Tucker had the longest streak of makes under 50 yards. And he just missed an extra point attempt I think last week, so he's having an unusual little slump here.

Scott Spratt: In shocking news, Marlon Humphrey blatantly interfered with DeAndre Hopkins on a deep pass in the end zone. It wasn't called on the field, Bill O'Brien challenged it, and he lost.

Scott Spratt: Really interesting fake field goal try for the Ravens. The snapper snapped the ball to the holder Sam Koch who then shovel passed it to tight end Andrews. The Texans defense handled the trick very well, tackling Andrews for a loss and forcing the turnover on downs.

Aaron Schatz: So much for the offensive fireworks, at least through the first quarter. Lamar Jackson is only 1-for-6 and has been missing high. Deshaun Watson has been making his own pressure and holding onto the ball too long. Here's a video of the fairly egregious missed DPI call against Marlon Humphrey that wasn't overturned.

Vince Verhei: I had such mixed emotions about that Marlon Humphrey non-DPI. On the one hand, it was incredibly flagrant -- his left arm hit Hopkins in the back, his right arm hit Hopkins in the arm, just before the ball got there, well within Hopkins' catch radius. But it was fourth down, and Watson was just chucking it up in the corner and hoping for a foul, and I don't want to see offense like that rewarded, especially not with something so rich as a first-and-goal at the 1. And I wonder if the Texans get that call if the play had been on first down.

No score in a sloppy game at the end of 1. Justin Tucker has doinked a field goal, and Baltimore had that weirdly called fake that didn't work. Even Dan Fouts pointed out that Bill O'Brien was probably happy to see the field goal team running a play instead of Lamar Jackson. That said, Jackson has not been sharp, and Nick Boyle dropped a wide-open pass that would have gone for a big gain.

Scott Spratt: I guess throwing high is OK when Seth Roberts can elevate 10 yards in the air. Touchdown, Ravens. Ravens are up 7-0 early in the second quarter.

Aaron Schatz: Jackson turned his passing around after early struggles. Seven straight completions, the last one a beautiful strike over the middle to Mark Andrews in the end zone to make it 14-0.

Scott Spratt: Mark Andrews is good at catching touchdowns but bad at the Lambeau/M&T Bank Stadium Leap.

Scott Spratt: The Texans just went for a fourth-and-1 on their side of the field and converted it with a nice quick pass from Watson to beat the blitz. They really need points in the last 1:09 of the half down 14-0.

Aaron Schatz: Second quarter was all Baltimore. The Ravens are playing more man coverage against Deshaun Watson and he's not taking advantage of it with scrambles except for one on third-and-10, that's what led to going for it on fourth-and-1. Baltimore coverage is tight. Texans have just 3.3 yards per play in the first half. Their one drive ended with a missed field goal by Ka'imi Fairbairn. 14-0 at halftime.

Bryan Knowles: Lamar Jackson, casually leading both teams in rushing yards and throwing three touchdown passes in what's quickly becoming a stomp over the Texans, 21-0 at the start of the third. These teams are just in two entirely different tiers, even if Houston usually looks a little better than this.

Scott Spratt: Lamar Jackson just scrambled for 39 yards on a run that may have been more impressive than his Houdini play from last week. I counted five broken tackles. He just casually cut in and out of defender lines of attempted tackles. Amazing.

Vince Verhei: This may have been Jackson's best run of the year, and think of the ground that covers.

Vince Verhei: I feel bad for the poor game charter tasked with tallying broken tackles for this game. The Texans have to be over a dozen by now. Noted YAC machine Mark Andrews slips a bunch for a 51-yard gain on third-and-16. Mark Ingram slips a tackle on a reception and goes into the end zone for a touchdown catch. Ravens up 34-0 as the day's best game on paper has been by far the worst in reality.

Atlanta Falcons 29 at Carolina Panthers 3

Scott Spratt: The Falcons' De'Vondre Campbell just made one of the most amazing interceptions I've seen. Kyle Allen threw a low pass to the right of the line to avoid being sacked, but Campbell got a hand on it no more than 5 yards in front of Allen. He tipped the ball to himself and secured a pick. The Falcons are now in the red zone already up 3-0 on the road.

Scott Spratt: Suddenly the Rams aren't looking so dead in the NFC wild-card race. Kenjon Barner just returned a punt 78 yards for a score to put the Falcons up 10-0 on the Panthers, the same deficit the Vikings face to the Broncos.

Bryan Knowles: So, uh, the Falcons are beating the Panthers 17-0. Kyle Allen already has two interceptions, and he's looking very much like the backup quarterback that he is. If Cam Newton really is moving on after this season, I'm not sure the Panthers can go in to 2020 with Allen as their only option, at the very least.

Maybe Eric Reid knows someone they can call.

Bryan Knowles: My Kyle Allen point stands, but the refs just overruled Atlanta's touchdown, so it's just 13-0, Atlanta. Tre Boston came in and made a great play to knock a clear touchdown to the ground. That helps Carolina's day a little bit.

Scott Spratt: Not that Carolina is great -- they're 18th in DVOA. But even when they are good, they are weirdly incapable of beating the Falcons.

Scott Spratt: And there goes Kyle Allen throwing his second red zone pick today. Not great.

Scott Spratt: The broadcast just showed that 41 of 54 Falcons plays came in Panthers territory today. Yikes. Not an inspiring Panthers performance, but I'm curious if the Falcons might randomly be good now? Remember they smashed the Saints 26-9 last week in New Orleans.

Vince Verhei: So with back-to-back wins over playoff-contending teams by a combined score of 55-12, have the Falcons done enough to save Dan Quinn's job? I was starting to doubt he'd even last the season. If they can keep these performances going, he might well be back next year.

Scott Spratt: Are you guys seeing this on the Red Zone Channel about Raheem Morris? Apparently he changed roles from the Falcons' wide receiver coach to their defensive backs coach in Week 10, and since then, the Falcons have absolutely crushed on defense.

Tom Gower: They made the announcement about Morris' move 13 days ago now. Jeff Ulbrich is calling some defensive plays, but Morris has a role there as well.

Jacksonville Jaguars 13 at Indianapolis Colts 33

Scott Spratt: Making his return from a broken collarbone that landed him on injured reserve, Nick Foles has started strong with five completions on six passes including a 34-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Chark.

Scott Spratt: Marlon Mack with a couple of nifty spin moves to punch in a 13-yard touchdown. Are we done with "He is Houdini" jokes?

Bryan Knowles: Oh, please let this stand -- Quenton Nelson with a 1-yard touchdown plunge, followed by a keg-stand celebration. It's under review, and do YOU want to be the one telling Nelson it didn't count? I don't think so.

Bryan Knowles: They called it back! Boooooooooooooo.

Bryan Knowles: It's no offensive guard plunge, but Jacoby Brissett just scored on an RPO to extend the Colts' lead to 24-7, as it turns out the Brissett-led Colts are significantly better than the Hoyer-led Colts. This one is more or less over as the third quarter ends.

I've been flipping to this game on occasion, and it seems that every time I look over, Nick Foles is underthrowing a receiver. This may be just a biased random sample, as Foles' overall stats aren't that bad (17-for-26, 156 yards with a touchdown and an interception), but he's not exactly sparking the Jaguars' offense. Maybe if he grew a mustache...

New Orleans Saints 34 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17

Scott Spratt: So much for having the No. 1 DVOA run defense and No. 1 DVOA defense against receiving backs. Alvin Kamara has 64 yards on 10 touches with three minutes still left in the first quarter.

Vince Verhei: After a Kamara punt return sets the Saints up just short of midfield, New Orleans still needs 13 plays and three third-down conversions to drive for a touchdown, but they get it done. Jared Cook finishes things with a sweet jumping grab in the end zone for the score. Saints have a 1-yard touchdown drive after Jameis Winston's pass behind O.J. Howard; their other three drives have lasted 10, 12, and 13 plays. That's 36 plays by New Orleans to only 10 for Tampa Bay. Besides the punt return, Kamara has over 80 yards from scrimmage already, still midway through the second quarter with the score 20-0.

Scott Spratt: The Saints have 20 points. Jameis Winston has 7 passing yards.

Vince Verhei: So after my Quick Reads piece about Chris Godwin and Mike Evans being a historically great pair of wide receivers, Winston of course hits a deep pass down the sideline to ... Miller? Who the hell is Miller? Well, that would be sixth-round rookie Scott Miller, a 174-pounder who came into the game with a 31% catch rate. He burned another rookie, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, for what appeared to be a touchdown. On replay, however, Miller was down at the 1. It takes a couple of plays but Winston overcomes a second-down sack to hit Peyton Barber on a circle route for the touchdown. Saints still lead 20-7.

Vince Verhei: More of the same here as the Saints lead 27-17 at the end of three. Another long drive for New Orleans, 10 plays, ending in a field goal. Another big pass play for Tampa Bay, a 30-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Godwin. Kamara's over 100 yards from scrimmage, with 70-some yards on just a dozen carries. That's the biggest news of this game, really.

Vince Verhei: Bucs punt after a fourth-down conversion is wiped out by an OPI call. Saints punt the ball back, but not before running eight plays and eating almost six minutes of clock. Up ten in the fourth quarter, that feels like a winning possession.

Bucs have only handed off four times all game, and they're not likely to do it again.

Bryan Knowles: The NFL record for fewest carries in a game is six, which Tampa Bay is currently tying thanks to a pair of Winston scrambles. I do not know what the record for fewest HANDOFFS is; Tampa Bay may be in historic territory there.

Bryan Knowles: Tampa Bay won't break the record for the fewest running back carries, at least; Minnesota had a four-handoff game last year.

Winston may break some kind of interception record, mind you; he just threw a pick-six to Marcus Williams as he continues to explore the space of all potential interceptions.

Vince Verhei: And there's Winston badly overthrowing Mike Evans on fourth down and Marcus Williams getting a pick-six to put this on ice. Winston is badly limping during the runback, but he is still coming back out after the kickoff.

Vince Verhei: Winston threw another interception, this one on third-and-goal. Do a shot!

Denver Broncos 23 at Minnesota Vikings 27

Bryan Knowles: I'm not sure the Broncos could have scripted a much better opening quarter against Minnesota. The Vikings have gone three-and-out twice, while Denver started with a 51-yard field goal drive and followed it up with a 90-yard touchdown march, sparked by a 50-yard bomb to Courtland Sutton and a 24-yard pass interference on Xavier Rhodes, covering Sutton. Rhodes is having some real trouble covering Sutton, even if Sutton has just the one catch so far; he has been open a couple other times, Brandon Allen just hasn't gone his way. That might change here going forward. 10-0 Denver, late in the first.

Bryan Knowles: When Andrew and I did our emergency quarterbacks review, we noted that Broncos receiver Courtland Sutton had a heck of an arm. And, in fact, we actually got to see it in action, as Sutton hit Tim Patrick for a 38-yard gain. At the end of one, Sutton has more passing yards than Kirk Cousins, more rushing yards than Dalvin Cook, and more receiving yards than any other Bronco or Viking. Heck of a day for him so far.

Bryan Knowles: Don't write this one off juuuust yet. The Vikings have now scored touchdowns on back-to-back 75-yard drives. The latest one was an 18 yard death-by-a-thousand-paper-cuts number -- one 20-yard reception by Tyler Conklin, but mostly just 3-yards-and-cloud-of-dusting their way down the field, converting on fourth-and-1, third-and-14, third-and-10 via pass interference, and third-and-5. Dalvin Cook's touchdown puts them down 10, and they go for two and fail. The announcers hate it, but that's a pretty obvious decision in the fourth quarter. They don't get it, so it's 23-13 Broncos, but the decision was the right one.

Scott Spratt: The Broncos continue to find impressive ways to lose close games. Brandon Allen just threw three straight incompletions from the 4-yard line as time expired. Vikings hold on for the 27-23 win.

Bryan Knowles: Minnesota scored again, picking up touchdowns on all four of their second-half drives. The Broncos drove the ball back down into the red zone, but a questionable challenge by Vic Fangio meant they ran out of timeouts, only getting three quick pass attempts from inside the 5. They couldn't get into the end zone. Minnesota comes back to win 27-23 after they looked toast in the first half. Not a pretty win, but they all count the same.

Vince Verhei: Oh, Denver bungled the clock at the end of this game. They had a third-and-5 at the 19 with 59 seconds to go. They completed a pass for 4 yards in bounds, then let 26 seconds run off the clock before calling their last timeout on fourth down. With 33 seconds left, Allen keeps the ball to convert the fourth-and-1 but is tackled in bounds. They're about to snap the ball on first-and-goal with 10 seconds left when Minnesota calls timeout. The Broncos use those ten seconds to throw three incompletions, and the game ends. With better clock management, at the very least they would have had one more throw into the end zone. Realistically, they would have had enough time to call a run or two and give themselves a better chance of converting that fourth-and-goal play.

Tom Gower: I can't believe how the Broncos handled their final drive against the Vikings. Vic Fangio used his next-to-last challenge at the two-minute warning to challenge pass interference on a second-and-6 incompletion, hoping to get the first down. The final timeout went before a fourth-and-1, where Denver left the clock tick and tick, finally calling it 26 seconds after their previous play ended. When the previous play was at :59, that's significant. They ended up with only three shots at the end zone in goal-to-go after the clock didn't stop after :33 until the Vikings called a timeout with 10 seconds left.

Buffalo Bills 37 at Miami Dolphins 20

Dave Bernreuther: Surprise onside! The Dolphins are playing to win. Love that.

Vince Verhei: With Tua Tagovailoa's draft status suddenly in doubt, the Dolphins have apparently decided, screw it, we might as well win some games. They spot the Bills a 16–0 lead, partly built on the legs of Josh Allen, who's over 40 yards on the ground in the first half. But then on third-and-4, Ryan Fitzpatrick hits Devante Parker for a 50-yard catch-and-run, setting up a 3-yard Kalen Ballage scoring run. And then Miami goes surprise onside, and the Bills are caught so off guard that kicker Jason Sanders is able to recover his own kick. That was one the best plays for Miami all season.

Scott Spratt: Wait, Vince, the kicker recovered his own kick? How is that even possible?

Bryan Knowles: He just kicked it straight forward 10 yards, and jumped on it himself. Buffalo didn't have anyone right up the middle, broke back when the ball was kicked, and wasn't able to turn around in time.

Kicking it to yourself might be the best way to do a surprise onside kick with the modern rules.

Zach Binney: Miami and Brian Flores continue to show a maddeningly inconsistent pattern of agression. Down 16, score a touchdown, but kick the extra point (which isn't actually a terrible statistical decision at this point in the game, but not aggressive).

Then immediately a surprise onside, a perfect little dribbler from Jason Sanders that he proceeded to recover himself! I wonder if recovering your own onside or a game-winning field goal is cooler for a kicker.

Zach Binney: Yeah, Sanders' kick bounced twice, and on the second one he just scooped it right up at about 10.5 yards. Just a pretty perfect kick, combines with the Bills not accounting for the possibility at all.

Vince Verhei: See for yourself:

Unfortunately the drive comes to an end one play later on what I thought was a horrible call. Fitzpatrick throws to Allen Hurns, who bobbles it and it's incomplete. But Buffalo challenges and it's ruled a catch, fumble, and Bills recovery. I have no idea how they could find indisputable visual evidence that the play was a catch.

Vince Verhei: Here's a look at the Hurns "fumble." Looks to me like he never gets clear possession. This looks to me like if it had been ruled a catch and fumble, it could have been changed to incomplete. They ruled the opposite.

Scott Spratt: To Bryan's point, the kicker is the only member of the kicking team who can take a running start. So maybe that is the best way to approach the onside kick.

Bryan Knowles: Miami is having a special teams DAY. Not only did they recover the onside kick, they just returned a Buffalo kick 101 yards for a touchdown. A pretty good return, too, with actual weaving and cutting, not just one of those "run a billion yards up the sideline" things.

Scott Spratt: Well the Dolphins are 31st in offensive DVOA, 31st in defensive DVOA, and 26th in special teams DVOA. Special teams is clearly the team's strength hehe.

Vince Verhei: There has been a lot of chatter this year about Carli Lloyd kicking field goals and whether she would be able to survive a tackle attempt in the NFL. Clearly, there's no way her delicate frame could survive the catastrophic damage Stephen Hauschka suffered in his Herculean tackle attempt on that Grant kick return.

I should add that this was set up by an Allen touchdown pass to Dawson Knox. We've talked more about the Dolphins so far, but the Bills are still leading 23-14 at the end of a very eventful first half.

New York Jets at Washington Redskins

Bryan Knowles: Washington has scored a touchdown! It's their first one since Week 6, the longest drought in the 21st century. They've got momentum back!

It's 34-11, Jets.

Cincinnati Bengals 10 at Oakland Raiders 17

Derrik Klassen: Ryan Finley coughs up a strip-sack to give the Raiders the ball already within field goal range. I get the Bengals wanting to evaluate their young players, but man, Finley was a mid-round pick anyway. How is having him out there really more valuable?

Scott Spratt: Finley gets a reprieve for that fumble, though Derrik, because Josh Jacobs fumbles right back in the red zone.

Scott Spratt: Wow, that Joe Mixon touchdown was apparently the Bengals' first on a running back carry all season.

Derrik Klassen: And, yeah, of course after I question having Finley in, the Raiders give the ball right back and the Bengals march down the field for a touchdown.

Vince Verhei: That play was hysterical. Mixon actually ran 20 yards or more on his 3-yard run, taking a pitch to the right but then cutting all the way back to the middle of the field.

Bryan Knowles: Cincinnati misses a field goal at the end of the first half, and Jon Gruden runs into the locker room.

Unfortunately, there are four seconds left, so Gruden has to make a walk of shame back to the field to call for the kneeldown.

Vince Verhei: That missed field goal came after Randy Bullock was good from 53, but Gruden had iced the kicker. So he was probably just overcome with pride. I mentioned this on Twitter last week, and I still think it's a good idea: icing the kicker should be a 5-yard penalty. Would anyone complain about that?

Raiders' first three drives were two punts and the Jacobs fumble, but Derek Carr pulled things together and led a pair of long touchdown drives, throwing for one score and running for another. He's 14-of-15 for 151 yards -- your prototypical efficient-if-not-explosive Carr performance.

Vince Verhei: Raiders lead 14-10 at the end of three and you can't blame them for being nervous. Their offense was a negative that quarter, with two punts and a bad Carr interception (he didn't see Jessie Bates in the middle of the field, and Bates jumped a Hunter Renfrow slant route for the pick) that led to a Bengals field goal. Bengals have done about nothing when they had the ball -- indeed, they're punting again here early in the fourth -- but they have officially reached "hanging around" stage. That Jacobs fumble is looming large right now.

Vince Verhei: Raiders take that punt and drive into the red zone. They get a fourth-and-1 at the 5, and Alec Ingold converts on the fullback dive for a first-and-goal at the 1. A false start pushes them back, however, and after Carr completes a pass short of the goal line on third down, they end up kicking a field goal anyway. It's a 17-10 lead with nine minutes and change left.

Vince Verhei: Auden Tate has been Cincinnati's top receiver today, and he just picked up a 20-yard gain on third-and-19 to give Cincinnati a first down in Oakland territory. Unfortunately he took a shot to the head and was strapped to a backboard and carted off. Mixon ran for 6 yards on first down, but then three straight pass plays produced zero total yards and a fourth-down incompletion. Raiders still have to kill five-plus minutes.

Bryan Knowles: Cincinnati loses, and that means they are officially the first team eliminated from playoff contention. We all had the Dolphins being that team in September, but the Bengals quietly plugged away, and pulled out defeat from the jaws of victory.

Derrik Klassen: Well, I guess my point about Ryan Finley ultimately rang true despite that one (unbelievably timed) drive. If the point is to the secure No. 1 overall draft pick under the guise of "evaluating young talent," then they are certainly on track, but the idea that Finley allows for anyone in this offense to be evaluated (aside from Finley himself) when he is on the field is just irresponsible.

Vince Verhei: The Bengals actually did get the ball back at their 20 with nearly two minutes left, a very winnable situation. But on first down Finley was sacked, and on second down he threw an interception to a well-covered receiver deep downfield, and that's that.

This is one of those games where you look at the box score and ask "how did Oakland only score 17 points?" Jacobs' fumble was a big part of that, but they had a ton of yards and first downs, and they didn't miss any field goals. Not sure why all those yards were so useless.

Arizona Cardinals 26 at San Francisco 49ers 36

Bryan Knowles: Story of the game so far has been pass interference. Arizona got a rare pass interference called via replay to set up a field goal, and then another pass interference brought the ball inside the 10 to set up a touchdown, as they jump out to a 9-0 lead (they missed the extra point).

Vince Verhei: Perhaps motivated by that nine-point deficit, San Francisco goes for it on fourth-and-5 at the Arizona 40 on their second possession of the game. Raheem Mostert gets a step on Haason Reddick on a wheel route for what should be a big gain and Jimmy Garoppolo drops a perfect pass into the basket, but Mostert also drops that perfect pass to the turf.

But San Francisco is going to get the ball back because Arizona drops passes too -- Christian Kirk drops what would have been a third-down conversion at the edge of field goal range, though at least he had the excuse of crossing from shadow to sunlight and probably lost the ball.

Bryan Knowles: The 49ers are very, very flat today. On offense, I think it's fair to blame that on George Kittle missing another game, but that means the 49ers' defense has been on the field most of the day, and Kyler Murry can run them ragged. The Cardinals have run 32 plays for 166 yards; the 49ers, 10 plays for 2. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that the Cardinals are up 16-0 midway through the second.

Vince Verhei: Guys, I think I'm falling in love with Kliff Kingsbury. Fourth-and-1 at the SF 34, they run a play-action pass out of -- seriously -- I-formation, and Kyler Murray hits Darrell Daniels for his first catch of the year and a conversion. Next play, Murray fakes two handoffs and takes off down the sideline for a big game. May have been an option play, but as quick as Murray got to the outside, and with the blockers he had in front of him, I'd guess it was a designed sweep all the way. That sets up a bubble screen touchdown for Pharoh Cooper and a 16-0 lead.

Since halftime of Monday night, San Francisco has now been outscored 36-14, in just over 60 minutes of game time.

Bryan Knowles: In the time it takes for the New England/Philadelphia interception/touchdown to be reviewed, the 49ers go 75 yards for a touchdown, as they've decided to start playing football this week. Big play was a 57-yard screen to Richie James, where the 49ers had six blockers for just two Cardinal defenders on that side of the field. That's a schemed big play, not a great effort by the players. After a couple ugly passes, Jimmy G does find Ross Dwelley in the end zone to make it 16-7.

Bryan Knowles: 16-10 Cardinals at the half. The 49ers had a second touchdown to Dwelley, but that was called back by penalty, so they kick a field goal instead.

Yellow hankies have been everywhere this game. Not just the five defensive pass interference calls already (three on Sherman!), but 11 overall, giving both teams plenty of first downs. It's getting a little ridiculous, and while a few have been a bit borderline, others are just sloppy play, especially on Arizona's part (back-to-back offsides! Good lord).

Doug Farrar on twitter made a very interesting comparison. The 49ers offense without Kittle is basically what we saw in Los Angeles last year when the Rams lost Cooper Kupp; teams were able to start keying away from misdirection, and the offense sputtered. The Kupp-less Rams were better than the Kittle-less 49ers just on a pure talent basis, but the dropoffs are very similar. Here's hoping Kittle returns for the Green Bay/Baltimore/New Orleans run, just from a competitiveness point of view. As it is, the 49ers have woken up from their sluggish start, so we'll see if they can keep that going in the second half.

I still am very impressed with Kliff Kingsbury, Kyler Murray, and the Cardinals' offense. They are going to be good sooner rather than later, and even if 2019's still more or less a wash for them, I'd have optimism for the future if I were a Cardinals fan. I was really, really pessimistic on both the Kingsbury hire and the Murray pick, and I was flat-out wrong.

Vince Verhei: Impressive job by the 49ers responding to their deficit. Their first touchdown was something of a gift on the blown coverage on James' screen play, but there was nothing fluky about their second drive, which covered 55 yards in 11 plays. Unfortunately for them, Dwelley's second touchdown of the day was wiped out by a holding penalty. And I really hated the give-up draw on third-and-18 from the 24, but Chase McLaughlin bailed them out and hit the 43-yard field goal. Cards still lead 16-10, but the 49ers are getting the ball to start the second half and are in OK shape, all things considered.

Bryan Knowles: Make it a third score for Ross Dwelley, albeit only the second one that counts. The flags kept comin' on the 49ers opening drive -- an illegal block on the kickoff, roughing the passer, false start, illegal shift -- but in between the penalties, the 49ers do eventually find a way to get back into the end zone and take their first lead of the day.

Vince Verhei: Your reminder that Arizona came into the game with a 40.6% DVOA against tight ends, giving up 85.8 yards per game, both the worst in the NFL (subscription required).

Aaron Schatz: We just had our sixth DPI in the ARI-SF game. No other game this year had more than five DPIs.

Vince Verhei: You think that's something, wait until --


Bryan Knowles: These officials are not covering themselves in glory. That pass interference should, if anything, have been OFFENSIVE pass interference, as Kyle Juszczyk basically tackled the Cardinals linebacker. And, to make up for it, they called a phantom holding call on Weston Richberg, the third ticky-tack holding call on the 49ers today. They're being bad for both sides!

Bryan Knowles: And, of course, that's followed up by the now iconic Terrible Jimmy Garoppolo red zone Interception. He's contractually mandated to throw at least one of those per game.

Aaron Schatz: Oh, boy, the sixth DPI in the SF-ARI game was awful.

Vince Verhei: Also avoiding glory: Jimmy Garoppolo. Third-and-5 in the red zone, he throws a pick right to Jordan Hicks, who returns it to midfield. Third quarter's not even done yet, and we're up to nine penalties accepted on each team. Ninety-nine yards on Arizona (there's a Jay-Z joke in there) and 122 on the 49ers. EIGHT first downs and counting by penalty.

Carl Yedor: That interception was massive for Arizona. San Francisco looked poised to really take control of the game with a touchdown there, but instead the Cardinals have the ball at midfield.

Bryan Knowles: Arizona just gets a field goal out of the interception, so the 49ers get a chance to march back down the field. Deebo Samuel made an amazing 26-yard catch, snagging it off a players' back as he was getting clobbered to the ground. He may not have come down in bounds, but it would have been (yet another!) DPI, so the catch was allowed to stand. Then it became the Kyle Juszczyk show, as the 49ers ran a couple of fullback screens in a row, with the Cardinals biting each time, before Garoppolo hit Bourne in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown. The two-point conversion, however, had no chance -- it looked like someone was supposed to leak out to the left, and no one actually did -- so it's just a 23-19 lead for the 49ers, early in the fourth.

Bryan Knowles: Kyler Murray is a problem! He just ran for a 22-yard touchdown on a quarterback keeper, on a drive where he had already run out of trouble a half-dozen times. And because the 49ers went for two and failed earlier, it's now a three-point Arizona lead, 26-23.

Bryan Knowles: Another Jimmy G interception. A high throw, behind Ross Dwelley -- he was able to get a hand on it, but only to tip it into a Cardinals hand. And now, the Cardinals are one long drive away from pulling off the upset!

Vince Verhei: 49ers had 87 yards rushing against Seattle on Monday night, their lowest output of the year. They're currently at 14 carries for 19 yards with less than five minutes left in the game. And with Garoppolo being intercepted again, they're not likely to add much more. We can talk about the penalties and Garoppolo's gaffes and Kittle and Sanders injuries, and that's all relevant, but let's not overlook this outrageous effort by the Arizona run defense.

Bryan Knowles: Arizona held the 49ers to 101 yards two weeks ago, too, so it's not like this is a one-game thing. Though, all those three games did come in a row...

Bryan Knowles: No interception this time, as Garoppolo is now up to 422 yards and four touchdowns to go along with his two terrible interceptions. After a tight, tight conversion on third-and-3 (I think he was close enough, but it could have gone either way), Garoppolo hits a wide-open Jeff Wilson for a 25-yard touchdown catch-and-run. They have a four-point lead, but they may have scored too soon; there are 31 seconds left, and Arizona has all three timeouts.

Carl Yedor: As the 49ers get to the edge of field goal range, Arizona dials up a blitz to try to put some pressure on Jimmy Garoppolo. That backfired. Running back Jeff Wilson runs straight up the seam out of the backfield and Garoppolo hits him for the go-ahead score with 31 seconds to go. 30-26 49ers, and Kyler Murray gets one last shot with three timeouts.

Bryan Knowles: Scratch that Murray shot -- the first play of the two-minute drill ends up with a fumble, and the 49ers fall on top of it. Arizona does have all their timeouts, but that should end this one.

Carl Yedor: So much for that. Arizona fumbles on the first play of the drive and this one's over barring a miracle.

Bryan Knowles: Kyler Murray gets the ball back for one more play, and they try the zillion-lateral play, but the 49ers end up with the ball. It's ruled a defensive touchdown initially, which matters -- the 49ers closed as 10-point favorites, and the touchdown gets them to ten. And Cardinals bettors scream.

New England Patriots 17 at Philadelphia Eagles 10

Aaron Schatz: Patriots are really dialing up the screens today. Seems pretty clear they are afraid their offensive line can't hold up against the Eagles' pass pressure. Today should be the last game of Marshall Newhouse as left tackle with Isaiah Wynn coming back next week.

Tom Gower: I wonder just how much the wind is affecting what the teams are trying to do. Eleven minutes into the game, Carson Wentz has four completions for 20 yards to go with the Patriots' screen-heavy game plan and at least one of Wentz's throws downfield was very off target. Winds are apparently strong and sometimes swirling, so it just might be one of those days. I'd still look for seam throws potentially, but this seems like a screen/short-pass game for both teams. And the Eagles just ran another screen to Dallas Goedert as I was finished up this email.

Aaron Schatz: New England is not getting much pressure today, even when they blitz. They just finally got pressure only to see Wentz scramble for 7 yards.

Scott Spratt: So was that a Dallas Goedert touchdown catch or Jonathan Jones interception in the end zone? I could see it going either way depending on when the hypothetical process of completing a catch happens.

Aaron Schatz: Tight play, but Goedert made a couple of steps after catching it and I think he was clearly down in the end zone before Jones took the ball away. I think the officials made the right call to reverse and give Philadelphia the touchdown. So now it's 10-0 and the Patriots offense needs to wake up.

Vince Verhei: I think they got it right on replay: Goedert touchdown. He's on his ass in the end zone with both hands on the ball. Jones also has both hands on the ball, but tie goes to the receiver.

Bryan Knowles: It was a touchdown, and I'm surprised the officials agree with me.

Scott Spratt: Oh man, kicker Jake Bailey had a chance to recover a fumble on the kickoff. I don't think I've ever seen that happen. Sadly, it bounced off his chest and out of bounds, which also means the Eagles retain the ball on offense.

Scott Spratt: I was thinking about commenting that I don't remember Mohamed Sanu returning punts in Atlanta, and now he just got rolled up on for the Patriots. Unclear if he's going to be able to return on offense. Seems odd that he would be doing that even with Gunner Olszewski out this week.

UPDATE: OK, Sanu is back in, so injury avoided.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots finally get a good offensive drive, making it down inside the 10. Then you get a couple of drops -- Rodney McLeod drops an interception that Brady just gifts him, and then Edelman drops a sure touchdown in the back of the end zone. Patriots kick a 22-yard field goal after failing on third-and-goal. 10-6 Patriots. Eagles pass rush is still making life very tough on Brady.

Tom Gower: Inside the final two minutes of the first half, Wentz found Nelson Agholor for an 11-yard completion that probably featured simultaneous possession on a throw outside that was too far inside. That remains the Eagles' only completion 10 yards or more downfield. I don't know how much to credit the wind versus the Patriots pass defense, but either way, there's been nothing there down the field since the early mega-pass interference call on Jason McCourty.

Bryan Knowles: We linked Scramble's Emergency Quarterback review earlier. At the time, we noted that New England basically has an emergency quarterback depth chart, with Mohamed Sanu, Jakobi Myers, and Julian Edelman. This time, it's Edelman who gets the opportunity, finding Phillip Dorsett in the end zone to give the Patriots the lead!

Carl Yedor: Patriots came out of halftime and made effective use of tempo on their opening drive, ultimately leading to a trick-play touchdown pass from Julian Edelman to Phillip Dorsett. Rex Burkhead also picked up 30 yards on a screen pass after breaking a tackle in the backfield as well. A James White two-point conversion makes it 17-10 Patriots.

Dave Bernreuther: Sometimes the Philly fans aren't wrong to boo. On third-and-10, Jason Kelce fails to (or Wentz fails to ask for him to) snap the ball to earn a free play when an end jumped offsides, and then Wentz fires a very quick release pass, under no pressure, for 5 yards. It wasn't a route designed for YAC either, nor were they in field goal range. So immediately after falling behind to a Patriots team known for adjusting at halftime, the Eagles go meekly and punt, and given the ease of that last drive for the Patriots, they may find themselves down two scores before I finish typing.

Dave Bernreuther: ... or the Patriots will go three-and-out and punt it right back. I stand by my criticism of the failure on third down though.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots pressure has ramped up after the early part of the game, and they just got their fifth sack of the game with 20 minutes left. Eagles definitely miss Lane Johnson at right tackle, who went out of this game with an injury.

Aaron Schatz: Just as the Patriots pass rush has been better in the second half, the Eagles pass rush has not been as good. I think the Patriots going to hurry-up helps, and the Eagles defense looks a bit tired. They did get off the field, though, with the help of a holding call that led to first-and-20, and then in turn to third-and-10 where Julian Edelman had to turn into a defensive back to prevent a deep interception by Avonte Maddox. Eagles ball, 17-10, 10:04 left.

Aaron Schatz: A couple of big plays there by the Eagles on their next-to-last drive, especially the first play where Carson Wentz escaped the pass rush in the end zone and completed for 29 yards to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. There was also a nice third-and-10 to an open Nelson Agholor. But eventually the Eagles sputtered out on fourth down. Patriots go three-and-out as the Eagles use all their timeouts, leaving the Eagles with 35 seconds and most of the length of the field to go. Game ends with a Hail Mary attempt that fails. 17-10 Patriots. Another great game for the defense, which ended up allowing less than 4 yards per play. An awful game for the Patriots offense, which barely got 4 yards per play and looked like it was addicted to 2-yard runs on first down for the entire first half.

Carl Yedor: Philadelphia puts together a pretty good drive inside the two-minute warning but stalls out as it approaches the red zone. The Patriots bring another Cover-0 blitz that forces Wentz to chuck it up and hope on fourth down. Nelson Agholor had a chance to haul it in, but it would have been an incredibly difficult catch given that he had to contort his body backwards as he was falling to the ground in order to make the play. The Eagles get the ball back thanks to their timeouts as the Patriots try to run out the clock, but they are pinned so far back after the punt that Wentz's Hail Mary only reaches the 5 before it's knocked away. New England pulls out the win with another great display from the defense, 17-10. The Patriots offense could not get a ton going today, but Philadelphia was consistently facing long fields, as their best starting field position of the second half was at their own 26. After New England's touchdown to start the second half, the two teams traded five punts each before the Eagles' penultimate drive that ended with the Agholor deep ball. New England finishes their tour of the NFC East next week against Dallas while the Eagles have a matchup with the Seahawks that was recently flexed out of prime time.

Chicago Bears 7 at Los Angeles Rams 17

Carl Yedor: The night game has been pretty dull thus far. The Bears, in a very on-brand manner, have missed two field goals, and the Rams have turned the ball over twice via a Todd Gurley fumble and a Jared Goff interception. Nagy, probably because he doesn't trust his kicker, went for it on fourth-and-9 at the 31 before attempting a field goal (which missed) on a fourth-and-6 from slightly closer. Trubisky had Tarik Cohen running deep down the sideline on a third down but underthrew him, and Goff had a very bad interception, shown in this NextGenStats visualization:

Remind me why this game didn't get flexed out of prime time again? Houston-Baltimore turned out to be a blowout, but on paper that matchup definitely felt like it would be more exciting than what we've seen thus far. Then again, at this point in the Texans-Ravens game, it was still only 7-0, so maybe this one has some more juice in it.

As I'm typing this, Mitchell Trubisky gets in on the fun and throws a pick. The offenses have not been sharp tonight.

Bryan Knowles: I presume the reason the game didn't get flexed is because of the second- and third-largest markets in the country, plus the fact that I imagine CBS protected Patriots-Eagles (the other obvious ratings grab game).

But yeah, there shouldn't be a game this poor on Sunday Night this late into the season; no excuse.

Tom Gower: CBS protected Patriots-Eagles, and with the Texans playing on (this coming) Thursday night, they weren't really a candidate to be flexed. TNF is a short enough window anyway.

This first 30 minutes of Chicago offense was, at least, better than last week's first 30 minutes of Chicago offense, unless you're a fan of hilarious ineptness. This week they actually got in position enough for Eddy Pineiro to miss a couple of field goals even on drives that didn't start in L.A. territory after an awful Jared Goff interception. Progress, of a sort, though I wonder if Matt Nagy was just too resigned to try to force the Rams to punt at the end of the half, taking his three timeouts with him rather and depriving us of a potential fair catch kick opportunity. Some of us care deeply about that kind of thing, you know.

Aaron Schatz: Sorry I haven't had a chance to pay much attention to this game but it seems like every time I look up, Mitchell Trubisky is throwing the ball to nobody.

Aaron Schatz: Oh, I'm sorry, now the Bears have pulled Trubisky with three minutes left and they're going to let Chase Daniel try to engineer a comeback, or at least cover the spread.

Tom Gower: The Rams after taking a lead seemed to approach this game like the only way they could lose was if they turned the ball over. Cooper Kupp's fumble that would have given the Bears the ball in scoring possession was not lost, and the Bears didn't come close to getting a score after the touchdown to cut it to 10-7 to start the second half. There's plenty you can say about that perspective, and one of them is that it turned out to be correct. This here's the NFL, so validation by success means it was genius!


176 comments, Last at 21 Nov 2019, 11:12am

1 Can it be said that the…

Can it be said that the Trubisky Epoch in Chicago has concluded? In some ways it is better to definitively know, as soon as possible, that a player has busted out.

5 In a vacuum, I would for…

In a vacuum, I would for sure rather be the Bears than the Rams right now, because if you don't have a great QB it's better not to be paying a guy like he is great. The problem is that I do not trust Ryan Pace to pick the next QB, so I think the Bears are screwed no matter what, unless they do the unthinkable and move on from him.

I think the Bears will and should bring Trubisky back for 2020, because they don't have the draft capital to bring in another QB with the pedigree to start right away and his salary is a sunk cost. I feel very strongly that they should also sign Kaepernick and draft a QB in the middle/late rounds. I think any talk of picking up the 5th year option at this point is out the window. But with what we know about Ryan Pace, including that he was so locked in on Trubisky that he didn't even bother to interview Deshaun Watson, who knows?

At this point I am rooting for chaos. I want a 4-12 season, infighting among the players and coaches, heated press conferences, all of it. I have zero faith in Pace/Nagy so I want whatever will expedite their departure.

12 I don't think keeping a QB…

I don't think keeping Trubisky as dead man walking for QB next season will do the Bears, Trubisky, or the fans any favors, especially when there's a nonzero chance that Teddy Bridgewater will be a FA this year. I mean, heck, Andy Dalton, Marcus Mariota, or Jameis Winston wouldn't be any better than Trubisky, but they'd at least give fans a change until they can ruin the next guy they draft.

28 As bad as the Bears have…

As bad as the Bears have looked the last few weeks, if you could have gone back and given them Dalton or Bridgewater before the season, I think they'd be at least on the outer edges of playoff contention. They still have a great defense and some good skill position players on offense.

Their roster is good enough that I don't think they need to blow everything up, but... they will have a tough offseason to navigate. If they can identify a veteran QB to add great, but they barely have any room to fit in veteran free agents, let alone a QB. Do you start mortgaging the cap to go all-in on this roster with Andy Dalton? Do you still feel good about Matt Nagy as your coach given what's happened this season, and his inability to develop Trubisky?

42 Hicks

I think Hicks being out really turned that defense from a game changer to a "Mitchell, we can't cover up every one of your mistakes" defense.

74 I forgot about Bridgewater!…

I forgot about Bridgewater!

Heck: you roll into OTAs and training camp with Bridgewater, Kaepernick, and Draft Pick on your roster, you're going to have a functional QB situation when the seasons starts, one way or another.

112 I think they need to bring in competition for Mitch

But given everything about their situation, cutting him loose and starting over with 3 new QBs seems impractical. He’s going to cost $9.2M against their cap next year no matter what. My belief that he can play well enough to command any kind of second contract is basically nil, but I don’t see a scenario where they have multiple better options for 2020.

They can probably afford 1 notable FA, and I would love to see them go after Bridgewater but I don’t know if he’d have any interest in them compared to other teams including remaining with the Saints. I keep hearing Dalton, but isn’t he under contract next year? They absolutely cannot spend any of the draft capital they’ve already got so little of to acquire a bridge QB.

I guess they could package their 2 2nd round picks along with something else to get into the 1st round to take a QB. Otherwise, I definitely want them to use a later pick on a QB, but that would be a scenario where you’re hoping to develop him, not realistically expecting him to compete in 2020 barring injury.

Bottom line, I don’t see how they add 2 credible starters no matter what next season. I would rather see them go into the year with free agent X, Mitch, and a mid round pick than pay Mitch to leave and need to spend a few million on another veteran backup.

129 Ouch

I remember when everyone in Chicago was laughing at the Raiders for being fleeced by Pace, and speculating that when the Bears made a deep playoff run and the Raiders were candidates for the #1 pick, the swap of the Bears 1st rounder for the Raiders 2nd might only be a handful of spots in the draft order. Now, of course, the Raiders are more probable than not to make the playoffs themselves, and it's looking like the Bears pick will be in the top 10.

133 I haven't looked at it in…

In reply to by Steve in WI

I haven't looked at it in any in depth way, but I suspect a bad qb pick in the top half of the first round is more damaging than similarly bad picks at other positions. I know that The Ponderous One, taken as high as we was, set the Vikings back about 4 years.

10 Trubisky isn't good, but the…

Trubisky isn't good, but the decision to pull him at the end of the game seems really short-sighted to me. Chase Daniel isn't good either. And let's be honest, while there might have been a slim chance of the Bears rallying in the final two minutes, in reality they weren't going to come back unless they had vintage P. Manning at quarterback.

So why not keep Trubisky out there, see if he could make a couple of plays, maybe get a score that gives the team a little energy? If he failed in the two-minute drill, it's not like anyone would have felt differently about him or the team.

Instead, Nagy managed to destroy whatever confidence Trubisky had left, and create a quarterback controversy, all over something that didn't give the Bears a shot to win the game. I don't see any upside to this decision.


35 The funny thing is, I…

The funny thing is, I thought trubisky played okay by his standards. His receivers dropped quite a few balls and the pass rush was eating the offensive lines lunch. we all agree trubisky isn't the kind of quarterback who can compensate for weak units, but I thought under the circumstances he was passable. 

Anyways pulling him at the end served no purpose. As others mentioned above, there are few options available to replace him next year so he will be back on the roster. Slim as it is, why not just play him with the hope that he turns it around. Chase Daniels is not going to give you that hope. 


63 Trubisky was pressured a…

Trubisky was pressured a grand total of 5 times last night in 44 dropbacks and completed I believe 4 of 14 passes thrown 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. He is barely playable, let alone passable.

68 I dont know where you got…

I dont know where you got your pressure numbers. I don't have them, but here's what pff said in their refocused.


"It wasn't just Donald along that defensive line that wreaked havoc. Both Morgon Fox and Sebastian Joseph Day had strong performances, as well. Fox was especially effective as a pass-rusher, and Joseph-Day did most of his work in run defense. All in all, the Rams' interior pass-rush feasted on Chicago's offensive line."



"This wasn't a great game from Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. He recorded zero big-time throws, offered little as a runner and connected on just a few passes of 10-plus air yards. But the offensive struggles weren't solely on him. Trubisky didn't make any turnover-worthy plays and was under fire from the Rams' pass-rush all game long."


72 Had it from next gen stats:…

Had it from next gen stats:

Of course, the pass rush can force the offense to dump the ball off and call short passes to avoid pressures. The problem for the Bears is that is what Trubisky's passing chart looks like basically every week.

83 Replying to not-quite…

Replying to not-quite-original-poster Boots Day: Completely agree on the decision to pull Trubisky making no sense and being counterproductive. Of course, Nagy is trying to walk it back now saying Trubisky had a hip injury, but they didn't say anything about that at the time, and Trubisky looked fine.

What really worries me about Nagy is that he seems to make a lot of decisions that are reactionary and based in emotion (the decision not to gain more yards at the end of the LAC game because he didn't trust his offense not to fumble, the random go-for-it last night, all manner of 3rd- and 4th-down play calls). He doesn't seem to have a process, or if he has one he doesn't respect it. And his "instincts" suck.

104 Nagy is worse at his job than Mitch is at his

I'd go further and say that Mitch is more likely to have a late career renaissance*** than Nagy is of having an above 0.500 career win percentage.  Matt Nagy 2018 Coach of the Year will be a punchline some day.  

In addition to stubborn and emotional, I'd add that his playbook has been figured out.  He has obvious formation tells (ex: 3 wide with an offset RB = RPO).  Nagy is a system guy – he has no ability to craft a playbook to his players strengths – rather he is a square peg coach with round peg players. Nagy has no overall offensive philosophy other than throw the ball vertically, with no go-to short yardage / redzone plays and no offensive balance (7 total rushes one week, followed by 35 the next).  But he does have an infatuation with gadget plays and gadget players (Tarik Cohen, Corderelle Patterson as short yardage players, really?).  He has no ability to adjust in game and he's worse than Andy Reid with in-game tactical decision making (2 min drill, use of TO, challenges, late game kneel downs).  Lastly, he delays obvious personnel moves (benching Kyle Long, Shaheen), switching Danields / Whitehair.   Wow, that was cathartic.  

*** I could see Mitch having a career arc like Jake Plummer.  Mitch will be on the roster next year, most certainly will lose his job in 2020 to a veteran journeyman and then end up as a backup somewhere in 2021 and beyond.  And maybe he gets a spot start in 2024 for the London Royals and wins the starting roll.  He'll look good in royal blue and crimson red and will certainly enjoy playing far from the media spotlight for the UK expansion team.  


105 Mitch Trubisky is Jared Goff with a worse coach

Or said another way, Jared Goff is Mitch Trubisky with a better coach.  

Last night was a great example of good vs. bad coaching.  LAR will have the worse DVOA, but still managed to adjust and overcome three turnovers to win the game.   Meanwhile, Nagy had no answers, couldn't adjust again, made poor high leverage decisions and poor play calls that ultimately cost the game.  

108 Jared Goff is just simply…

Jared Goff is just simply not Trubisky with a better coach. Actually, the problems with Goff are theoretically coachable. He panics under pressure, does not shuffle/sidestep away from pressure in the pocket and seems to have poor feel for rushers. He does not quickly read defenses, nor does he accurately read defenses, at a high rate or consistency. On the occasions where he is forced off his spot, or has to make a second or third read, he often does not properly set his feet and makes poor throws, or at least has very inconsistent accuracy.

However, when given an open receiver to throw to on his first read, Goff consistently makes great to excellent throws. And in fact, he showed that numerous times even last night. The deep throw to Kupp, the beautiful deep throw to Michael Thomas (a painful drop), the fantastic deep throw to Reynolds (called back by penalty), multiple nice quick reads and throws to Reynolds and Everett on that last drive, etcetera. There were at least 5 throws that Goff made last night that were superior to anything Trubisky did, and frankly may be superior to anything Trubisky even can do. If you could transport Tom Brady's brain into Goffs body, you'd have a top 2 or 3 quarterback. 

So with Goff you have a severely limited young QB with a fantastic arm who struggles with the theoretically teachable parts of QB. Trubisky just sucks. And yes, Trubisky sucks at reading defenses even more than Goff, but he also is just flat out bad at throwing the ball. There were multiple throws I saw last night where I, as a Rams fan, said "oh thank god that wasn't Drew Brees throwing that, because he had a step or two", after watching the ball fall 5 yards behind the intended receiver.

A Rams fan can delude themselves into believing that Goff will one day become an elite QB, after all his arm is already there. I have no idea how anyone could look at Trubisky and see in him the raw material to become an elite QB. Passable maybe, but he literally sucks at everything.

113 Last year Trubisky showed…

Last year Trubisky showed off his arm talent most while rolling out/on the move - he was far more accurate when he was scrambling and he did make some legitimately impressive throws. Maybe throwing just comes more naturally to him in those situations than in the pocket, and you don't really have to worry about reading the defense, it's more find the open guy and fire. Trubisky also apparently still can't call the protections, which I guess was a factor in moving Cody Whitehair back to center.

It's easy to criticize Nagy for not doing more to get Trubisky rolling out, but defenses have realized they can sell out to keep him in the pocket without having to worry about too much else.

123 Your Goff scouting report sounded a lot like Mitch’s

Especially the first paragraph.  That is exactly Mitch. 

Stylistically, they are different players.  Mitch is more mobile, better throwing on the run with half field reads. He’s also more of a rhythm player and is better in the hurry up / up tempo.

But from an output standpoint, they are the same player with a better (McVay) and worse (Nagy) coach.   Last yr, Goff was 5th in DVOA and 11th in QBR.  MT was 19th and 3rd.   This year, they’re both ranked in the late 20s on both metrics.   Both are facing similar difficulties: weak Olines, injuries, more difficult schedule. 

My importantly, Nagy doesn’t coach to Mitch’s strengths (throw on run, half field reads, 4-5 QB runs/scrambles per game).  Nagy is a system coach with a square peg playbook and round peg players. 

If MT lands with a better coach, he can salvage his career.   JG with any other coach is probably a hot mess. 

2 After the Lamar Jackson…

After the Lamar Jackson anomaly, Pats' D was back to the previous form (one big DPI and one long drive, that's it). Lane Johnson out of the field (among the other injuries) might have helped.

Pats' O, that's anothery story.

It is funny how Collinsworth and Romo were pushing Isaiah Winn (five quarters played in two years) as some sort of illegimitate son of Joe ThomasXTyron Smith. I guess anything is better than Newhouse.

I lost count of how many times Brady intentionally rolled out of the pocket, probably as the result of play design to fend off the rush. That is something kind of new in his game. Spoiler alert: he is not very efficient at it.

They are also missing A LOT Gronk in the running game. But that should not surprise anybody at all.

4 "It is funny how…

"It is funny how Collinsworth and Romo were pushing Isaiah Winn (five quarters played in two years) as some sort of illegimitate son of Joe ThomasXTyron Smith. I guess anything is better than Newhouse."

They need to do something to end the Newhouse experience; Winn is hope and hope is what sports broadcasters trade in. I do think the OL is getting blamed partly for the crappy WR corps as well, which is unfair.

I lost count of how many times Brady intentionally rolled out of the pocket, probably as the result of play design to fend off the rush. That is something kind of new in his game. Spoiler alert: he is not very efficient at it."

Yeah... Obvious BB/McDaniels are better football guys then me but I just didn't get this. The strength of Brady is throwing the ball on time in the right spot on relatively short throws, when you move the pocket you shrink the field the defense has to cover even more than it's currently shrinking. On top of that moving the pocket really didn't seem to help the OL improve protection at all... which is pretty sad.

On the whole I don't mind this kind of performance in a tough road game - they got a clear win and never really allowed Philly a chance at after the half despite the relatively close score. They also had a chance at 5 turnovers on defense and they only got the one (from my perspective those simultaneous possession catches should be though about a bit like fumbles - representing likelihood of turnovers in the future if trials continue - and there was the Jamie Collins drop and the INT wiped out by penalty near the end of the game that would have ended it).


8 Hey, Brady is a dual-threat…

Hey, Brady is a dual-threat with over 1,000 career rushing yards!

Seriously, though, for most of his career, Brady was the absolute master of stepping up in the pocket and getting the ball out right as the DE blew past him. Classic Brady is calmly stepping up and hitting Kevin Faulk/David Givens/Wes Welker in stride while watching Dwight Freeney spin his way out of the play. I don't think I've ever seen him roll out on a designed boot before. I mean, he's not Bernie Kosar bad, but he's really not good at it. Is his interior line just that bad this year?

11 <cite>Is his interior line…

Is his interior line just that bad this year?

Yes. Yes it is.

And yes to anyone who would share the blame out to the receiving corps. Sanu is making things a little better, some of the time. Edelman is Edelman. But the reason the only TD pass of the day was a trick play was that that receiving corps needs a lot of time or a defensive goof to have a chance to get open.

The roll out pass plays are a way to give the receivers time to have a chance to get open. Those plays come at a price: shrinking the field like that takes away Brady's greatest strength. It's worked in the past with someone like Gronk who can get open or at least have a fighting chance for a contested ball. Not so much with this bunch. 

119 "But the reason the only TD…

"But the reason the only TD pass of the day was a trick play was that that receiving corps needs a lot of time or a defensive goof to have a chance to get open."

Yes and no.  There actually is talent in the receiving corps, the problem is that the offense isn't utilizing effectively.  My hope is that they are taking advantage of the extra margin provided by the defense to patiently develop their preferred year-end offense.  They're willing to suffer through growing pains now for gains later.  

Of course, it's also possible that Josh just isn't having a good year.  But we've definitely seen more productive units with less talent, both on the line and at WR.  

44 Wynn looked pretty good

Wynn looked damn good in preseason, was an All- American, played in a National Championship game and was a 1st Round draft pick. I think he's going to look like the second coming of Jonathan Ogden compared to Marshall Newhouse.

41 "Lane Johnson out of the…

"Lane Johnson out of the field (among the other injuries) might have help."

Might have helped? Might? Eagles come out and on their first three drives, they're having good success at the line. Rushing attempts went for 7, 3, 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 3, and 4 yards. Basically none of those were failures. 100% success rate.

Then Lane Johnson goes out. Remaining rushing attempts: 4, 0, 12, 1, -1, 4, 0, 0, 2.  2 of those were successes (one 4-yard gain was on 2nd-and-12). 22% success rate.

That's not even mentioning pass protection. But losing Lane completely destroyed the running game. This meant they were behind schedule repeatedly, and had to rely on deeper passes to move the chains, which they don't have the receivers to do.

120 "Might" is the wrong term,…

"Might" is the wrong term, but the change isn't entirely attributable to Lane leaving the game.  NE made some changes on their own to adjust to Philly's success.  So the question isn't whether it helped, but to what extent.

127 In literally all the runs I…

In literally all the runs I've seen, the change was "beat the guy on the end, he sucks now."

Sometimes it was a cascade problem, like in a play that Baldy highlighted on Twitter: Vaitai didn't double team Brooks's guy before climbing to the linebackers, so now a bunch of middling/poor blocks results in no gain instead of 3-4 yards.

Keep in mind the Eagles weren't like, gashing off huge runs. 3-5 yards every rush isn't a recipe for a blowout, although it might've won this game. The Patriots were playing sound run defense before, the offensive line was just getting push. There wasn't much *to* correct. 

Now, pass defense, that's different. There were definitely adjustments there.

50 Wynn could be terrible, and…

Wynn could be terrible, and still be a pretty decent upgrade on Newhouse. He's that bad. 


That being said, I'm seeing a lot of stuff from Brady that.isnt explained by the pressure. I think he's had some significant decline since the middle of last year - so while the Patriots offense should get better, I'm not sure it's going to get much better

61 I think Manning talked a…

I think Manning talked a little about what the decline was like. How you start not making the throws you could -- just missing windows or coming up short. Then you start overthinking those passes -- hesitating instead of making a throw on time -- which now turns into mistimed passes or increases sacks/fumbles. 

He eventually sort of adjusted to the passes/timing he could make, but at a substantially degraded level. 

131 I was thinking the same…

I was thinking the same thing watching last night's game.  I don't get to see the Chargers that often, but Rivers looked a lot worse last night than he did around this time last year.

Maybe it was just an off night, but that was a game I expected Rivers to be able to win (and not just the last minute drive ruined by the interception; throughout the second half it looked like a game the Chargers could take control of, but the offense, and especially Rivers, was just a bit off).

132 We should get a better sense…

We should get a better sense of whether it was an anomaly this week.  Dallas on paper should be the sort of team that can expose NE's defense.  Zeke's running threat plus Prescott's mobility, a passable TE in Witten, and an elite WR in Cooper - this is the only fully functioning offense NE has faced other than Baltimore.



How did the Raiders amass so many yards and win only 17-10? Stalling on a drive that reached the 1-yard line (which included a dropped pass in the end zone), fumbling while attempting to tack an extra yard or two onto a good run in the red zone, tossing an uncharacteristically telegraphed pass for a pick, and (worst of all) punting from the opponents' 33. I nominate Gruden for the John Fox award: they could've tried a long field goal to clinch the game or run a passing play on 4th down on a day when Carr averaged about 10 yards per attempt; instead they gave the ball up, got the predictable touchback, and gained only 13 yards of field position.

6 Brady continues to be…

Brady continues to be terrible with his swing passes and passes to the flat. This started last season and is continuing to this one.

He also threw his now-weekly brain dead red zone INT, but thankfully it was dropped.

16 And then he was all pouty in…

And then he was all pouty in a post-game press conference that he cut short.

I'm really questioning if he comes back next year.  Or if it'll be with NE if he does come back.

19 Isn't this kinda what Brady…

Isn't this kinda what Brady and the Pats are now?

He looks mediocre/old, but then they get a playoff bye because of Belichick and an easy division schedule.  And then when he's really needed in a tough playoff game, he reverts to old Brady and throws for 500 yards in the Super Bowl or leads consecutive scoring drives on the road in the AFC Championship Game or what have you.

I mean, eventually this will end, but are you going to bet on it until it does?

27 They are running against…

They are running against time either way. Brady at this point is looking like a hindrance that you need to scheme to make look good. That makes their margin a lot thinner. Having HFA is key for them far more than it ever has been.


The defense and venue nudge them slightly for the moment above BAL, but the NFC contender is going to require some classic BB voodoo.

55 I think it's a strtech to…

I think it's a strtech to call Brady a hindrance.  Put most NFL QBs behind that OL and I think NE's D would have to be doing even more than they are now.

It was an ugly game for the Pats' offense, but with no run game and weak protection, Brady led three scoring drives (plus a FG on a drive that went no where following a turnover) to regain the lead after NE fell behind early.  Then the game turned into punt-a-palooza, but the Eagles were trying to press, NE was playing it safe and riding the lead and their D.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think there's anything wrong with Brady that an extra half-second protection would solve.  And in the meantime, it seems to me like he's managing the current situation about as smartly as a QB can in the circumstances.  

60 Maybe hinderance is too…

Maybe hinderance is too strong a word. I have only watched a few of his games, but a lot of his trademark skills have eroded. His pocket movement and even short throwing accuracy aren't what they use to be, which were arguably the best in the NFL. Ne has always done a great job of scheming receivers open and allowing Brady the comfort of finding the right mismatch to run those plays through. Now everything is a struggle. 


67 It is too strong... for now

Yeah, I think there's a lot of fair criticism here, but it's really hard to judge. OF COURSE his skills have eroded, but how can we tell how much? Bad offense line, bad run game, and mediocre receivers (I love Edelman, but he's not a top 10 receiver in the league). Would 2010 Brady make this team better? Probably. But how much better? It's not like Brady is holding back an incredible offensive juggernaut.

87 Name 10 receivers you would…

Name 10 receivers you would rather have. Julio, Nuck, Obj, Cooper, Hill, and Evans are the obvious one's. The rest come down to personal preferences - Diggs, Thielen, Brooks, Kupp,  Allen, Parker, Hilton, and Juju. Certainly a debate. 

92 Uh, I'm pretty sure Lockett…

Uh, I'm pretty sure Lockett and Michael Thomas fall under the "obvious ones" unless this is some *really weird* ranking, which already gets you up to 8, and I don't know how your "the rest" wouldn't include Adams, Golladay, Godwin, or Marvin Jones. And even then I'm just assuming you're leaving off Chark, Sutton, and McLaurin because they're too young or something.

Which means there's 8 clearly ahead of Edelman and 12 he's around equal to. I think saying he's not a top-10 receiver in the league is pretty fair.

99 I'd be hard pressed to not…

I'd be hard pressed to not call a guy who led the league in DYAR last year, has an 80% catch rate, had double-digit TDs, and is on pace for 1200 yards and double digit TDs again this year not better than Edelman.

But, in any case, you'd have to lump Lockett in with the "others" anyway, so you're still talking about 7 clearly better and 13 that you could reasonably have a discussion about. 


101 and

led the league in DYAR last year


...and he led the league in DVOA, too, while we're at it.

I'd take Lockett long before I took OBJ, FWIW.  

As to Edelman, he's in my personal Hall of Fame, but he's not having a particularly good season.  He's having way too many drops (three yesterday, at least).  

OTOH, he did throw a touchdown pass.  Let's see if that can be factored into the Quick Reads tomorrow.  


7 Lamar since the 4th down TD in Seattle

Starting with Lamar’s “Hell yeah, Coach let’s go for it” in Seattle, Ravens have outscored opponents 144-43 in 13+ quarters.

Lamar during that stretch:
144.6 QB rating, 51 of 67 for 635 yards, 8 TDs, 0 INT

36 rushes for 265 yds, 7.36 ypc, 3 TDs

9 Aaron Schatz: Tight play,…

Aaron Schatz: Tight play, but Goedert made a couple of steps after catching it and I think he was clearly down in the end zone before Jones took the ball away.
You should take a second look at the play.
Goedert first touches the ball as his left foot hits the turf. By the time his second foot hits for a potential first step, he is bent over almost horizontal on his way to the ground, and the fight for control of the ball has already started. He never "made a couple of steps". At most, he made one: and that only if you call having a foot hit the turf as you are falling to the ground "making a step". Is hitting the ground with your butt while fighting for the ball a second step? Not in this universe. Before anyone yaps back, do take a look at the clip on and see for yourself.
With those facts, the possible justification for overturning the call would be if he obviously won the fight for control, and then lost the ball in a new fight for control that started after the play was over. One could argue that. It would be odd to overrule the ref on the field on something so thin, but you could do it.

29 I've watched the clip…

I've watched the clip several times.  He looked down with possession to me, but had they let the interception call stand, I wouldn't have thought it was a terrible decision.

I've said this before, but I really think that NFL officials (sports officials, in general) are not bad at their jobs.  What people who complain about bad officiating are usually complaining about is the subjectivity of human perception.  Two reasonable, sane people can watch the exact same event and see different things.

We just need to accept the fact that some calls can go either way without being "wrong."

With that said, I do think refereeing could be improved.  One thing I would like is for everything to be challengeable (especially penalties like facemasking and illegal hand to face, which are usually pretty easy to see on replay).  I also wouldn't mind going to a college system, where a "replay czar" watching on a closed-circuit TV, determines everything in real-time (or close to it) and the challenge system is dropped entirely.  I think this would actually be more accurate and speed the game up.

58 It wouldn't have been the…

It wouldn't have been the worst call in NFL history -- those are reserved for Lions games -- but it would have been pretty bad.

By the time the DB gets possession, the TE has possession, has broken the plane, and has put four feet and an ass down. 

38 Goedert is lying on the…

Goedert is lying on the ground, with two hands on the ball, in the end zone. See 8 seconds in, here:

*At best* you could say Jones has one hand on the ball and is pulling on it, but I don't even think that's true. At this point, the play is over. Done. It's a touchdown. Over. The ball is not moving freely, it's moving completely with Goedert's hands. It doesn't even move with Jones's hands - you can see the ball move, Goedert's hands move, but Jones's hands don't. But even if that wasn't true, doesn't matter. Play's over.

Goedert then rolls over and takes one hand off the ball because the play is over, and Jones of course pulls it away from him.

You don't have to gain *sole* control of the ball for it to be a catch. If you catch it and the defender gets his hands on it and you're both pulling on it, and you go to the ground, the play is over. (Note, if the reverse happens - defender catches the ball, receiver then comes in and gets hands on it, it's still an interception. Offense only wins ties if it's simultaneous).  The ball has to come loose from the receiver's control and it doesn't do that until well after Goedert's on the ground, at which point the play is over.

46 BS

"*At best* you could say Jones has one hand on the ball and is pulling on it, but I don't even think that's true. At this point, the play is over. Done. It's a touchdown. Over"

No. This is definately not true. At the 8 second mark in the clip referenced the ball is pinned between Goederts hands and Jones's hand both with craddle grips on the respective outside of the football. If Jones's hands had been air and the ball comes loose on contact with the ground there is a 100% chance that's called incomplete. You can argue that the "maintain control of the ball through contact with the ground" thing is stupid (mabye fair?), or that he had control before he goes to the ground (in which case these plays are catch-fumbles elsewhere on the field? you have my vote but it's never called that way now) - but I think the arguement that the play is dead at that point because he's in full control on the ground is non-sense. This from someone who thought the catch-touchdown call was right in real time.

54 "No. This is definately not…

In reply to by sbond101

"No. This is definately not true. At the 8 second mark in the clip referenced the ball is pinned between Goederts hands and Jones's hand both with craddle grips on the respective outside of the football. "

You said the same thing I said? At best Jones has one hand on it (around the middle) and Goedert has two hands on it (on the pointed edges). Which means it's a catch by the offense. Done. Goedert doesn't have to do anything more. He obviously gained control over the ball first, and never loses control before going down, so it's his ball.

If you reverse the situation (pretend Jones is Goedert and Goedert is Jones) it's an interception. Once you gain sole control, the ball's yours until you lose control. Not until someone else also gains control. Think about how loose-ball fumbles work -  guy grabs it and pulls it in, it's his. Doesn't matter if someone else puts their hands on it as he's pulling it in, it's his ball.

"If Jones's hands had been air and the ball comes loose on contact with the ground there is a 100% chance that's called incomplete. "

I don't understand - the ball never comes loose from Goedert's hands (and only his left hand) until he's upright. Why do you think it comes loose? Because it turns after his shoulder hits the ground? It's turning because he's turning it - his hands are on the ball and turn with the ball. The absolute ball movement doesn't matter. It's movement relative to his hands that you look at for control.

Watch Jones's left hand as Goedert sits up (his left hand becomes blocked by Goedert's right shoulder). The ball goes up (with Goedert's hands) and Jones's hand slides down the ball. Jones pretty clearly isn't controlling it there - I'm not even sure if he's *touching* it there.

But again, even if Jones did have control of the ball there, so did Goedert, so it's still a touchdown. 

100 Wish the rules were simpler

Goedert doesn't have to do anything more. He obviously gained control over the ball first, and never loses control before going down, so it's his ball.

It certainly looked like a TD to me, but the "complete the catch" is so obscure and confusing, I thought the officials might have had something specific in mind when they called the play as an interception.  

Or, to put it differently, the rules should be clear such that that catch is ruled as a TD.  But I don't trust the rules.  I've seen other plays where I thought the play was "over" (most notably the Calvin Johnson play) after which the officials said "Nope, he didn't 'complete' the catch."  

The NFL maintains this premise that they can make objective rules that preclude the need for judgment calls, but all they do is push the judgment calls to different places.  

103 "It certainly looked like a…

"It certainly looked like a TD to me, but the "complete the catch" is so obscure and confusing, I thought the officials might have had something specific in mind when they called the play as an interception. "

I completely agree, and really it all comes down to that "act common to the game" thing. There are only a handful of examples listed, so people then look at it and say "he didn't do any of those things!" but that's not what the officials are looking at it like. The "act common to the game" actually ends up giving the officials more latitude, which I think is actually what they wanted.

For the officials I think Goedert falling to the ground and rolling over with the ball was enough of an "act common to the game" - you might also be able to call bringing the ball around tucking the ball away, which also would work.

"I've seen other plays where I thought the play was "over" (most notably the Calvin Johnson play) after which the officials said "Nope, he didn't 'complete' the catch." "

Keep in mind the Calvin Johnson play is what caused the rule to be changed to this, and it'd be a catch now. Before this rules change I think this play is even more obviously a catch, since he had clear control all the way to the ground, and it isn't until he rolled over that the ball was taken by Jones.

Of course the most hilarious thing to me is that without a doubt that was not the most controversial call in that game. The first DPI by McCourty and the "forward progress stopped" non-fumble were the worst calls in my mind.

122 This is how I see it as well…

In reply to by sbond101

This is how I see it as well.  It's a common sense catch and TD, but I think had the ball squirted out instead of being yanked out, it may have been considered not surviving the ground.  


14 With reference to a comment…

With reference to a comment on the DAL/GET game...

Why does analytics say it's a good idea to GF2 when you've just scored a TD reducing your deficit from 14 to 8. The increase in your chances to win in regulation (as opposed to going to OT and facing whatever happens there) more than offsets the greater chance of losing in regulation due to needing to make a later two-point conversion just to tie if you fail here?

18 Interception

I didn't think much of this at the time as it intuitively looked right when I looked at it on replay (which is why I didn't mention it in the officiating comment on the game-day thread) - then I heard the post-game presser with BB where he said "As far as I'm concerned we only gave up three points." and "we intercepted the ball.". I don't ever recall BB directly addressing officiating like that in a presser (maybe since deflategate?), so I looked at it again. It's 1 step and then it's a question of whether he still has it when his but hits the ground; I think the answer is clearly no and its an INT. I think the ruling that they made was based on the idea that the play is over when he crosses the goal line, but this is clearly at odds with the way catches are officiated when an INT is not in play. Put it this way, if the ball simply comes out and drops to the ground that is 100% an incomplete as he's not in control all the way till his but hits the ground in the end zone, just because another player happens to be the one contesting control rather than a typical bobble situation shouldn't make that any different. I think the Audibles crew is wrong on this one.

**Edit** should be a reply above not to the Dallas comment.

48 "It's 1 step and then it's a…

In reply to by sbond101

"It's 1 step and then it's a question of whether he still has it when his but hits the ground;"

The video has an absolutely bang-on view of him holding the ball as he goes to the ground. Ball never moves relative to his hands. He hits the ground, in the end zone, two hands on the ball, full control. Play's over. Done.

I don't even get why people think this is even close. Watch the ball as Goedert sits up. The ball turns and maintains the same position relative to Goedert's hands, since he's the one controlling it. Jones's hand is just resting there - the ball turns and his wrist doesn't turn, and that's the only hand he has on the ball. Then Goedert lets one hand off the ball because, well, again - play is over - and Jones pulls the ball away from him.


21 I think it's because the…

I think it's because the chance of getting 1 out of 2 conversions is greater than the chance of converting two XPs + OT. I don't know the numbers, but I think it comes down to (1) making two XPs plus OT is already a less than a 50% chance to win, (2) you have two opportunities to make a conversion, and (3) going for it on the first score gives you more information for the second. 

31 why?

If you play the safe course, kicking PATs twice, your chance of winning is 50% once you reach overtime.

So if you think your chance of converting a 2-point conversion is greater than 50%,  you should use the option once you reach an 8-point deficit.   

Personally, I think that, even though one can use probability to model the outcome of sports plays, that doesn't mean that they are decided probabilistically.  So it comes down to your individual play call and how you feel about its chances for success.  If you have enough of an O-line to feel good about getting the yardage, go for 2.  If you have a passing play that works with high probability, go for 2.  If the only thing arguing for a 2-point conversion is a general game theory argument, don't go for 2.  

32 I agree circumstances play a…

In reply to by RickD

I agree circumstances play a lot into the decision and should play a lot into the decision, but I don't know how much coaches rationally go into these decisions anyway.

40 2 point conversions

If you just kick the XP on both touchdowns, then you go to OT.

If you go for 2 on the first TD and make it, then you'll win with the second touchdown with an XP.

If you go for 2 and miss, then on the second TD you go for 2 as well. If you make it, you go to OT, and if you miss it you lose.

So with the go-for-2 strategy, you win if you make one 2-point try (the first one), and you only lose if you fail on two 2-point tries. If you miss the first then make the second, then you're in OT just like the XP strategy.

The numbers work out that this is the correct strategy if your success on 2-point tries is more than about 38%.

116 One man's analysis of the go-for-2-down-14 situation

I know others have done this, and they probably did it better, but I wanted to run the numbers myself.

Inputs:  per pfr play index, I calculate the chances of succeeding on a 2-point try from 2015 to last week's games are 47.5%.  This year, kickers are 93% on EPs.  The common assumption is that winning OT is 50-50 (it's a little less since games do occasionally end in ties; we can argue about better vs. worse teams having different odds, but clearly in any game that goes to OT the teams were even on the scoreboard if nothing else).

If score a TD when down 14, you still need keep the other team from scoring and score another TD.  There are other possible outcomes of course, but assume that happens.

If you kick EPs after both, you'd still have just a 50-50 chance of winning in OT.  And you actually don't have a 100% chance of making both, so a little less than 50% chance of winning.

If you kick the first EP, then go for two on the 2nd TD, you have a 47.5% chance of winning (again, decreased by the chance you miss the EP).

If you go for two after the first TD, you have a 47.5% chance of success followed by a 93% chance of making the EP = 0.475 * 0.93 = 44% chance of winning in regulation.

If you succeed on that 2-pointer and miss the EP on the 2nd TD (0.475 * 0.07 = 3%), you still have a 50% chance of winning in OT, or 1.5% (half of 3%) of the time.

If you fail on that 1st two-point try (52.5%), but make the 2nd one to tie it (0.525 * 0.475 = 25%), you again have a 50% chance in OT, meaning you win 12.5% of the time.

Overall, your chances of winning are 44% + 1.5% + 12.5% = 58% by following the strategy of go-for-2 after the 1st TD.  Which is better than the bit less than 50% chances if you follow the conventional EP/EP strategy.

For a given team, against a particular opponent, you can adjust those inputs however you feel appropriate, but given an average offense vs. an average defense, with an average kicker and an average 2-point conversion set of plays, the numbers seem pretty clear.




15 So w/r/t DPI

They set up this rule basically as a response to the NO playoff non-call, and we all agree it's been a fiasco this season. At this point, if that exact play happened now, would they overturn it? I think not.

Great hustle, NFL.

23 There was an overturn to DPI…

In reply to by Mike W

There was an overturn to DPI on a non-call in the SF-AZ game on Richard Sherman yesterday, worth 40-something yards. 

Sherman, being Sherman, suggests this only happened because of his involvement in the NFLPA, though.  If you believe him, it wouldn't have been overturned against most CBs. 

24 They're making themselves…

In reply to by Mike W

They're making themselves look worse, not better.  I don't understand what weird power struggle is going on inside the replay booth, but the NFL is making itself look foolish. 

Missed calls are going to happen from time to time.  Challenges are to help get those right, which helps everyone involved in the game, including the refs, as the game narrative isn't "the refs blew it" if missed calls get corrected on replay.  I don't understand what the guys in the booth are trying to do, other than draw more attention to referee mistakes.

I hate to point to the CFL here as that league had ref'ing challenges for years, but things are working pretty good there now, and coach's challenges have been a big part of the overall improvement.  The process to make review work well doesn't seem that hard:

  • Everything is challengeable.
  • For penalties, watch the replay in real time (don't go slo-mo to find ticky-tack calls).
  • If it's a clear penalty (see Hopkins non-call in the HOU-BAL game) make the call; if it's not clear, stick with the call on the field (so coaches know to save challenges for obvious plays, but also know those obvious plays will get corrected).

As with all human activities, though, you need buy in.  I don't think there's buy in for allowing coaches to challenge pass interference calls.  I don't know why, and I don't get it.

47 I think for whatever reason,…

I think for whatever reason, some people are afraid to let "judgment calls" be reviewable. That's always struck me as a dumb distinction, because guess what? Most of the plays that are currently reviewable are judgment calls. Determining whether the receiver caught the ball in bounds or whether the runner crossed the goal line before his knee was down may have more objective definitions than PI, but when it's close enough to require a review, refs frequently have to use their judgment.

IMHO, if the NFL is going to stick with the challenge system than I like the idea of making everything challengeable. But I think all leagues should eliminate challenges and have a centralized replay system where official(s) watching the game can correct an egregious error. Pace of play would not be an issue, because an egregious error would be readily apparent on the first or second rewatch of the replay. No more stopping play for five minutes to analyze frame by frame. Stop pretending that most of the decisions a ref makes are actually objective, and set the bar for replay review high enough that when a replay changes a call, everyone can agree that it was the right move.

22 Fans of good/exciting…

Fans of good/exciting football were losers this week. Unless you happened to have the Vikings-Broncos or Cardinals-Niners game available, you probably haven't watched a decent game since last Monday.

On Thursday, the only interesting moment involved a borderline assault. Early Sunday both the games in my area (Deadskins-Jets, Ravens-Texans) were blowouts by the end of the first quarter. Late Sunday, Pats-Eagles was the perfect game for an afternoon nap, and it was a rollercoaster ride compared to the Goff-Trubisky "shootout" that we were subjected to in the evening.

Mahomes and Rivers can salvage things tonight -- but, jeez, I can't remember a slate of games this boring in a long time.

30 The thing I liked most about…

The thing I liked most about the game last night was watching the destroyer of worlds. It's hard to overstate how dominant that guy is. I wish I had watched enough of Warren Sapp or had the privilege of watching Alan Page, because I've never seen anyone so destructive from the D tackle position before.

There are elite players in the NFL and then there are these very very unusual players. Take von Miller as an example. He's an obvious Hall of famer, but I can name almost six or seven pass rushers I have seen that are either as good if not better or at least very close. then there are players who you really have to struggle to come up with a name. Like Randy Moss had only Calvin Johnson as a real similar comparison in his prime. The closest player i could come up with for someone like JJ Watt would be Justin Smith but he didn't do it for as long as JJ Watt did and probably didn't even match the heights of JJ Watt. 


I guess I would also throw out Darrell revis as hitting the Pinnacle of cornerback play that I haven't seen before.


Anyone care to throw out any other names

36 Reggie White in his prime…

Reggie White in his prime was an absolute terror. I mostly remember him in Green Bay (where he was still pretty damned amazing), but he was unstoppable back in his Philly days with Buddy Ryan.

The thing about a lot of defenders is that you have to adjust for era. Pass rushers get way more opportunities for sacks these days, but holding has also been unofficially legal since the 2000s so it's probably a wash. Revis' prime came at an era when breathing on a WR counted as pass interference, and they hadn't yet cracked down on offensive picks. 

39 Lawrence Taylor and Reggie…

Lawrence Taylor and Reggie White are the two names who jump out to me.  Maybe it's just impressionable youth, but I don't think there have been players who have dominated the line of scrimmage like they did since they retired. 

59 Will be interesting to hear…

Will be interesting to hear Belichick's take when he discusses the top 100 players in NFL history.

I just assume Belichick puts Lawrence Taylor as the number 1 player, but hearing his comparison of Taylor to Reggie White and Deacon Jones and some of those other guys could be fun. 

71 Wait, what??  Does dressing…

Wait, what??  Does dressing 10 QBs and 12 RBs resemble some sort of NFL roster?  LOL

I do get your point, now that I see the split.  It's a more reasonable allocation of players across all positions than most 'best of" lists.  But it still looks funny.

89 it is a "team" featuring 100…

it is a "team" featuring 100 playerfs. they tried to make ti so that it is NOT list of simply greatest 100 players becuause if did that it might have 42 quartervbacks on it, 0 kickers, 0 puinters, 2 goards , etc. 


so, just go with it, man. 


they are not rankign the players. for quaurebacjks, the panel decides on 10. 

76 I have never understood why…

I have never understood why people seem to brush aside Bruce Smith. I've said this many many times, there have only been a few players who consistently made Dr. Z's all pro teams. And the list comes down to three players: Bruce Smith, Reggie White, and Jerry Rice.

86 It's because those Bills…

It's because those Bills teams were known primarily for (1) getting destroyed in the SB, and (2) the no huddle offense of Kelly/Thomas/Reed.

I agree on Bruce Smith and am kicking myself for overlooking him again. He definitely belongs in that category.

91 Honestly, J.J. Watt most…

Honestly, J.J. Watt most reminds me of Bruce Smith, since they played the same position.  I think the Bills defensive system was similar to Wade Phillips' system, in that they were an attacking 3-4 where the ends could pile up sacks instead of hogging blockers so the linebacker could pick up the sacks.

The funny thing is, the Bills defense arrived before the no-huddle offense.  Smith and the rest of them carried that team in 1988 to the AFC championship.  The offense was good with Kelly and Thomas, but not up to the level of Esiason and the 1988 Bengals, who ran the no-huddle offense that Marv Levy stole in the following seasons.

97 You're doing Marv Levy a…

You're doing Marv Levy a disservice here.

Long before he <STRIKE>stole</STRIKE> invented the no-huddle offense, he also filed a complaint to the competition committee that the no-huddle was unsportsmanlike. 

26 If you believe pff, it's…

If you believe pff, it's interesting how everyone but Khalil Mack has regressed on the defense ( a bit of exaggeration but you get the point). This is one thing I have stressed over and over, elite players not only give you elite production more often than lesser players, but they do so year to year as well. There is a lot of value in having certainty at a position. That's why it's not always as simple as if you'd rather have three good players than one elite player. Those three good players may not give you good production next year.

Anyways, that might seem like I'm contradicting myself when I panned the Rams trade of Ramsey. I still dislike the move mostly for cap and position volatility, but I also understand it for the reasons I said above.


Also OAK would be better off in the present and future with Mack and Cooper

33 point spread in 49ers/Cardinals

That game ended with the 49ers converting a fumble recovery for a TD to extend their lead to 10 points. The line I saw was 10.5 points. But there was some fluctuation in the line, with some people seeing a 10 point spread, or even a 9.5 point spread.

The NFL didn't force the 49ers to kick a PAT with 0:00 on the clock just to cover the spread. But if I'd had a bet on the Cardinals with the points, I'd have gone nuts. Or if I'd had the 49ers -10.5.

Anyway, crazy finish, and yet another example of why I feel good about not risking money on sports gambling.

37 "The NFL didn't force the…

"The NFL didn't force the 49ers to kick a PAT with 0:00" ...I didn't watch the end of the game, did the refs not make them line up for an extra point at all?

I remember with the Diggs miracle against NO, the forced NO to send some guys on the field for the Vikings to kneel on the extra point. It struck me as so ridiculous to make NO send out some players after such a gut wrenching ending. 

43 Extra Points at 0:00 4Q

The NFL changed the rules the offseason after the Diggs TD. 

Now, after a touchdown at 0:00 of the 4th quarter, the game automatically ends unless a made extra point/2-point conversion by the offense could change the winner of the game (that is, unless the score is tied or the offense trails by 1 or 2).

78 Except

Under the new rules, it is theoretically possible for the DEFENSE to score 2 on the XP attempt, although that chance is admittedly remote.  Still, if the Offense has only a 1 or 2 point lead they probably should still make them line up and snap the ball.  They could fumble the snap, which the defense could return for a defensive 2-point. 

I don't know if this is true in the NFL, but it is also theoretically possible in college for the defense to score 1 point on the try.  It involves the offense committing a "Safety" on the try... so somehow they have to lose 98 yards, retain possession, and get tackled in their own endzone.  The only way I can see it happening is if the defense gets a turnover on the try, runs it almost all the way back, but fumbles it into the end zone, and the offense recovers it there and is tackled.  In this way, it is possible for a game to end with a final score of 6-1.  It has never happened, but it came close once, if I recall correctly (I think it was in a Texas vs Texas A&M game???)

81 Defensive 2-point Conversions and 1-point safeties

In reply to by MJK

Teams would just kneel on the ball if they were up 1 or 2 on the extra point at 0:00, so the NFL didn't feel it was worth the hassle of clearing the field/getting teams out of the locker room/etc just for that.

The one-point safety rule exists in the NFL, but it's never actually happened there (a good reason for this is that the defense couldn't return a conversion until 2015, so it would have taken an illegal bat by the defense or the offense inexplicably retreating 98 yards to happen).  When it has happened in college (just 5 times since 1988 at all levels), it's always been the defense that's been safetied, so we've never had a situation where a team had just 1 point.

98 That scenario wouldn't work,…

In reply to by MJK

That scenario wouldn't work, either - if the defense loses possession on a return of a failed XP/2 pt try, the play is dead.

34 Eagles definitely miss Lane…

Eagles definitely miss Lane Johnson at right tackle, who went out of this game with an injury.

This might be the understatement of the game by Aaron. Johnson's replacement (Vaitai) was awful both in pass blocking and run blocking. I could list sooo many plays that were either single-handedly blown up because Vaitai's guy beat him badly, or were even worse than they could've been because of the guy Vaitai was blocking. Including the Wentz strip-sack fumble recovery (wasn't Vaitai's guy who started it, but he was the guy who recovered it), at least 2 other sacks, and even the Jason Peters injury was caused by Vaitai.

There was one play in particular which stood out to me because the rest of the offensive line just manhandled the Patriots defensive line, blowing them 3-4 yards backwards right at the snap... except for Vaitai's guy, who went right past him and made the tackle.

Rushing plays with Lane Johnson: 9 attempts, 42 yards, 4.67 yards/rush.
Rushing plays without Lane Johnson: 9 attempts, 22 yards, 2.44 yards/rush. (and that's boosted by a 12 yard run!!)

As soon as Johnson left, the game was over.

Nelson Agholor had a chance to haul it in, but it would have been an incredibly difficult catch given that he had to contort his body backwards as he was falling to the ground in order to make the play.

The only reason he had to contort his body backwards is because he didn't track the ball - that is, he didn't locate it early enough to get underneath it, which is a massive problem with Agholor. You can even see when he finally does, 2 yards deep in the end zone. That catch should've been *easy*.

49 Lane Johnson

This is right - though I can't say why. After Johnson went out the battle on the LOS was completely different with corresponding results in the run game (though I think the case for changes in the pass protection game is weak). Not sure if it was just about Johnson going out or also about other adjustments as well because normally one OL does not make/break a run game but it really did transform that game.

65 "normally one OL does not…

In reply to by sbond101

"normally one OL does not make/break a run game"

Yeah, it's a depth issue for Philly. Their most athletic tackle who doesn't start (Dillard) is only being trained on the left side because they need him to be a long-term Peters replacement. So instead they put in Vaitai, who's a swing tackle and can be both a backup at LT (because relying on Dillard to be a backup to your injury-prone starter isn't a great plan) and RT.

So the dropoff from Johnson to Vaitai is huge. Johnson's the best run-blocking tackle in the league, and a ton of their running game is predicated on things Lane can do that most tackles just can't do.

51 How Dare You

How dare you guys not talk about the Packers this week?

52 Furthermore, If i see the…

In reply to by LyleNM

Furthermore, If i see the dvoa drop for the packers this week, then we need to seriously revisit the formula and or call it what it is, a sham!

I mean, how can the vikings and Cowboys go up and the packers DVOA not triple???? I mean, they beat those teams. Both of them. That should count for 10 more points in DVOA just for that feat alone. 

57 As much fun as it is to jump…

As much fun as it is to jump in on this, my eyeballs agree and think the Cowboys look worse than their DVOA for reasons unrelated to my completely unbiased and perfectly rational hatred of the Cowboys. 

56 [Off Topic]

Does anyone know what happened to Mike Tanier's Gridiron Digest? Haven't seen it the past few weeks...


On the theory that with one notable exception (team that won it last year, and gets there seemingly every year) there are no 1985 Bears, 1999 Ravens or 2002 Bucs, I think that winning the title is going to come down to QBs-- and who can put enough offense together in the one big game- plus perhaps at least one or two others-- to overcome whatever defensive deficiencies or offensive output from the other side. So my take is: LAMAR JACKSON: Definitely PATRICK MAHOMES: Probably, but two away games might be a bridge too far TOM BRADY: NO, but it might not matter-- see above JIMMY G: NO RUSSELL WILSON: Definitely AARON RODGERS: Definitely DREW BREES: Possibly-- jury out-- home field would matter alot KIRK COUSINS: One game-- sure. Four games, with three of them on road if Vikes are WC-- No way DAK PRESCOTT: Yes, but.... that defense is so poor he will have to be superhuman to beat NO or GB on road, as seems likely he will have to do CARSON WENTZ-- Seriously? HA HA

77 I think you are making a…

I think you are making a mistake by focusing on defense heavy, qb poor teams. Scott Kacsmar ran some study of the superbowl participants to see if it helps to be balanced or extreme. I don't remember the conclusions, but either way, drawing narratives from sample sizes is a problem.


That you need a good qb to win you a superbowl isn't a surprise, you typically need one to get there and probably even more so to get a high seed. You still need to play defense. Very rarely can your defense not show up every week in the playoffs and you can still advance. Look over every sb winner and I don't think you can find even one that played poorly every playoff game but the offense saved them. 


The 2011 patriots were famously imbalanced, but their defense held strong in the playoffs(mostly). The 2006 Colts saved their limping offense for the first two weeks and then did a good job in the superbowl. And on and on. 

79 Just to put a little bit of…

Just to put a little bit of numbers here, in the modern playoff format (i.e., since 1990), no one has won the Super Bowl giving up more than 23 points per game in the playoffs (the 1994 49ers).  The average Super Bowl winner gave up 16.6 points per game -- so, think the 2017 Eagles.

No team has won the Super Bowl scoring less than 20 points per game (the 2001 Patriots; the average is 29.8 or roughly the 2013 Seahawks).

The best point differential is a tie between the 1992 Cowboys and 2002 Buccaneers, who won by an average of 23 points.  Notably, the 1994 49ers, them of the most points allowed, had a point differential of 20.1, good for fourth place.  They're more the exception than the rule, however.



Nine Super Bowl LOSERS have given up more than 23 points per game, though some of that is going to come from the fact that if you lose a game, you probably gave up a significant number of points IN that game (2012 49ers, 1994 Chargers, 2002 Raiders, 1998 Falcons, 1992 Bills, 2013 Broncos, 2016 Falcons, 2017 Patriots, 2010 Steelers).

82 Kyle Allen looks exactly…

Kyle Allen looks exactly like he has looked all year, a backup QB who can look decent in a system until other teams get film on him. He doesn't seem to be able to learn from mistakes. His interception in the end zone against the Falcons was almost identical to the interception he threw in the end zone last week against Green Bay, both completely inexplicably bad decisions, with a running lane open right down the middle between him and the end zone.
Panthers need a healthy Cam Newton. Or a Kaep. It's not too late to get to the playoffs with decent quarterback play.

84 After the events that…

After the events that transpired this weekend, I would be beyond stunned if Kaepernick were on an NFL team this year. I honestly think this is the last we will have heard of Kaepernick as a qb ever again. 

88 Because Kaepernick brings a…

Because Kaepernick brings a ton of extra baggage that it's simply not worth the corresponding media circus. Kaep has been out of football for three years and his most recent tape were highlights of a not very good qb.

For this to be worth the media firestorm; he would need to be good and be good immediately. Otherwise, you are constantly fielding questions about locker room distractions, racial issues, and fan alienating. 


As I mentioned in the other thread, had the workout been all about football, I think there was a universe in which Kaep gets signed. Since it became everything but about football, it's probably the last we will hear of him in the NFL. And that is a shame. 

90 > not worth the…

> not worth the corresponding media circus

Why do people keep using this argument? It's not true, and doesn't even really make sense. The "media circus" isn't the distraction to a team you seem to imagine it is.

"Media circus" is just an excuse, and a bad one at that.

94 See Tim Tebow, Terrell Owens…

See Tim Tebow, Terrell Owens and others. You can read the quotes from the coaches and players. To constantly have reporters and press conferences to discuss a player for off the field reasons is a distraction. It is not an accident TO kept cycling from team to team or that Tebow never got a shot against after that Jets season where he never really played. 


Look at the the coverage Kaepernick is getting even 3 years after the fact. 

95 "Why do people keep using…

"Why do people keep using this argument? It's not true, and doesn't even really make sense."

Why is it not true? There was workout this weekend that was scheduled by the NFL, and even it didn't go off without there being a huge mess around it.

Your response to that might be "but that's the NFL's fault!" and that's something you can have a discussion about. But the teams are not the same as the league office, and it's pretty clear from this weekend that there's still a ton of tension between Kaepernick and the league office. And why would a team want to get in between that?

Plus part of the problem this weekend was that Nike wanted to be there filming, so yes, there'd still be some media/publicity circus surrounding him. It wouldn't have to be about his opinions/stances/whatever. It's completely reasonable for a team to worry that Nike might ask Kaepernick to do some things, make appearances, whatever, and the team would be uncomfortable with that. It's also reasonable for them to worry about making the relationship between the league office and the team tense as well.

I'm not actually sure that last part would count as collusion again, because the NFL could reasonably make an argument that Kaepernick was being difficult last weekend, not them. It's not unreasonable for a team or the NFL to worry about Kaepernick using them as a pawn for another lawsuit against the league, for instance.

Note that I'm not saying I agree or believe any of those things, it's just not unreasonable.

111 Well, Kaep wasn't a media…

Well, Kaep wasn't a media distraction the last time he was on a team and kneeling during the anthem.  No one on his team at the time thought so.  Not sure why it would be so different the next time.

135 That's an easy question to…

That's an easy question to answer:  because they got an entirely new coaching staff and front office.  I think Colin Kaepernick is a playable QB, but it's hard to think of one who's less of a Shanahan QB. 

143 His marriage with RGIII was…

His marriage with RGIII was not exactly a happy one.  He much preferred Kirk Cousins. 

I think Shanahan really likes a QB who's good at diagnosis pre-snap and working through his reads post-snap.  Kaepernick may be good at some things, amazing at a few, but processing speed is definitely not one of his strengths. 

128 What's different? He started…

What's different? He started a lawsuit with the NFL and started a media campaign with Nike.

I doubt any teams care about the kneeling thing anymore. Now the problem is that Kaepernick is acting like he's better than/equal to the teams/league, and his talent isn't equal to that.

136 Plenty of players have had…

Plenty of players have had media campaigns with Nike, and plenty have had disagreements with the NFL.  There might even have been one or two NFL players with pretty big egos.  A few of those might even be playing today.  None of that makes Kaepernick special.

Maybe you could argue that he's a bigger deal now in the media than he was in 2016?  More symbolic to more people? 

But it's hard to believe that teams wouldn't care about the kneeling thing, because the most powerful man in the country cares about it, a lot. 

139 "Plenty of players have had…

"Plenty of players have had media campaigns with Nike,"

As football players. Not as celebrities. There's a huge difference. For most players, their endorsement deals are basically contingent upon their play on the field. Not for Kaepernick. And Kaepernick didn't have a "disagreement" with the NFL. He had a lawsuit. And not over a suspension, which is kindof an internal thing where it's partly the NFL versus itself (because the teams kinda-sorta support the player). He got money from the NFL - from the league. There's a difference between teams and the league.

Think about the players who've filed lawsuits against the NFL. Brady did, over Deflategate. He wins, briefly, then loses on appeal, and then drops the lawsuit (no mention regarding legal fees, but I wouldn't be surprised if Kraft ended up paying them). Elliot did, over his suspension. He briefly won an injunction, but eventually lost - and Jerry Jones definitely ended up paying the NFL's legal fees on that one. Who else? I can't think of any that weren't rapidly dropped.

Again it's not like this is further collusion, either - it's perfectly reasonable for teams to not want to piss of the league, and it's obvious that there's still animosity and distrust between Kaepernick and the league office.

"But it's hard to believe that teams wouldn't care about the kneeling thing, because the most powerful man in the country cares about it, a lot. "

You do realize that one of the owners is well known to actively despise the most powerful man in the country, right? And he's not the only one.

140 I believe the NFL has a made…

I believe the NFL has a made a rule. You can remain in the tunnel but you must stand for the anthem if you are on the field. That should make the kneeling issue moot.


Also, I am a bit astonished people don't think Kaep generates a media circus. Can anyone else remember a workout for a free agent qb 3 years after he last played generating this much controversy? Workouts happen all the time and no one bothers to pay attention, like ever. 

144 I don't think he'd generate…

I don't think he'd generate a media circus for the simple reason that he didn't the last time he was actually playing.  He generates one now because he's being blackballed.  Actually employ the guy, remove that storyline, and there might be a burst of coverage, then what's to keep the Kaepernick story from going back to what it was pre-blackballing? 

145 You might have a point...I…

You might have a point...I don't know what kind of pressure or perceived pressure the league would or could bring against a team for employing a player they didn't trust.  There are certainly other players the league didn't like who ended up finding employment, and quickly. 

I'm not, though, seeing your point about his Nike sponsorship.  What is Nike going to do that would hurt the NFL so much?  Whatever else, they're in it to make money.  Torpedoing the NFL wouldn't do that. 

One thing a team could be fairly sure of if they hired Kaepernick is that he would barely talk to media.  He's barely talked to them when he's been unemployed.  Any sports reporter would sell a kidney to be the one to land The Great Kaepernick Interview, but they're all still waiting. 

153 I've thought about it, and…

I've thought about it, and nope, I still can't come up with what you think Big, Bad Nike is going to do to the widdle nfl if Colin Kaepernick gets a job.  

If he plays great, they make a commercial glorifying that.  So?  The NFL has made money off of successful anti-heros before.  Half the cast of those 70s Raiders teams come to mind.  If he plays like crap, they do nothing.  If he ends up 18th in DVOA on some 7- 9 team...?  I just can't imagine what kind of damage you think Nike will want to do.  

155 I don't think Nike's going…

I don't think Nike's going to do anything to the NFL. Where did I say that? Let me be clear - I think the reason that Kaepernick and the NFL (the league office) don't like each other is because Kaepernick won a lawsuit against them that actually cost them money.

Why do you think the NFLPA's president is almost always an end-of-career guy who rapidly becomes a free agent? Because pretty much everyone else knows that teams are going to be less likely to sign the guy who's going to have a tense relationship with the league. Do I think that's fair? No, of course not. Is it collusion? No, because I don't think the league's not going out and telling everyone "don't sign this guy." I think the teams are just looking at the interactions between the league office and Kaep's camp and saying "yeah, THIS won't make things any easier." Still might be illegal, though. Don't know, not a lawyer.

The reason the Nike deal's a concern for the teams is because they want quarterbacks to be all-in on being a quarterback, and Nike's not paying Kaepernick to be a quarterback. They're paying him to be a celebrity.

158 Ah, I see, so you think…

Ah, I see, so you think Kaepernick will have a built-in conflict of interest.  I suspect, if he ever actually made it onto a team, that this effect would be small because both his interests--as a football player and as a celebrity--would be best served if he becomes a good QB again.  As a celebrity what Nike would want more than anything is a good story, and a guy who dribbled out of the league 1-4 as a starter with 2 TDs and 8 INTs wouldn't be a good story.  

What I can imagine:  people complaining about the flags Kaepernick does or doesn't get.  

160 "As a celebrity what Nike…

"As a celebrity what Nike would want more than anything is a good story, and a guy who dribbled out of the league 1-4 as a starter with 2 TDs and 8 INTs wouldn't be a good story."

Yes, but that's the problem. The most likely situation is that he'll be signed as a backup. He's been out of football too long, and the league's changed. Vick didn't get signed as a starter, for instance: he was actually signed as a third-string QB. So he'd almost certainly start off as a backup QB. So now as soon as the starter struggles, there's built in incentive for Nike to pressure Kaepernick to give them information to leak regarding the starter to put pressure on the team to start Kaepernick.

But that's not the only "conflict of interest" problem you could have as well. Even if a team does bring in Kaep as a starter, if he struggles immediately, there's now incentive for Kaep/Nike to leak information regarding the coaching staff/playcalling to shift blame.

Does that seem farfetched? A bit. But keep in mind that workout! The NFL blamed Kaepernick entirely. Kaepernick blamed the NFL entirely. So now you've got a team saying "jeez, Kaepernick's team screwed the pooch on this workout, not making sure it was organized properly beforehand, and they're blaming the league entirely rather than just coming out and saying 'we need to delay this because of some legal concerns.' Who's he going to blame if he comes in and struggles?"

Again, you don't need much for teams to not sign Kaep, because he's not that valuable. If we look at the ~70-80 QBs employed by the league, is he better than some of them? Yes, of course. But so are plenty of other unemployed QBs! 

I still think it's also entirely likely that there's been conversations between Kaep and some teams - just no one wants it to get out there because the interest wasn't mutual. If Kaep was willing to come back at veteran minimum as a backup, I can definitely imagine either Philly or Kansas City being willing to go that route in the offseason. And both Philly/Kansas City would both happily keep those conversations away from the league office if Kaep's team asked.

176 I do think most of those…

I do think most of those scenarios are far-fetched.  Kaep has trouble with the league; he's most likely to be very close to whatever team hires him.  He was very close to the last team that hired him.  His teammates, the coaching staff, none of them thought he was a distraction or a bad teammate.  That big protest year, 2016, he won the Len Eshmont award, the 49ers highest player-voted award.  All of his former coaches still support him.  He has always been a good teammate.  Kaepernick would have been employed by Baltimore years ago if it weren't for Steve Bisciotti--a guy who's happily employed Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs--stepping in and nixing the deal. 

I'm bitter because I think the root of what's keeping him out of the league is a bunch of billionaires seeing him kneeling during the anthem and saying "Fuck that guy."  Everything else seems like window dressing for that attitude. 

147 Because 9 out of every 10…

Because 9 out of every 10 questions the media asks during every interview is going to be Kaepernick related.  Because veterans groups are going to be protesting en masse outside the stadium before every game.  Because counter-protesting groups might be there to engage them.  Because the police officers scheduled to work a game might all get mysteriously sick.  Because every time the team loses there's going to be an angry Start Kap buzz among the fans and media, along with the attendent racism charges.

There is nothing but distractions in signing Kaepernick.  Which is why a team cannot sign him as a backup quarterback.  If you sign him, he'd better be your unquestioned starter, and he'd better win.  Otherwise he's not worth it.  It's just bad business -- and I haven't even gotten into the money part. 

Fortunately, appearances seem to indicate Kaepernick only wants to play in the NFL under his terms.  Otherwise he'd prefer to remain visible as the guy who is being blackballed because he wanted to make the world a better place.  That's his right -- there's a certain nobility in it -- and probably more money.  He's about six months away from changing his name to Colin X and walking around with his fist permanently in the air.  I simply just do not care anymore and wish the football media would also stop caring.

150 I think almost everything in…

I think almost everything in this post is wrong.

When Kaep was actually playing and protesting in 2016, were veterans groups protesting en masse outside the stadium before every game?  No.

Were counter-protesting groups there to engage them?  No.

Were police officers scheduled to work the games mysteriously sick?  No.

Did having him on the team affect the 49ers bottom line?  No.

Will Kaep play in the NFL only under his own terms?  No.  He's openly stated he's open to any and all offers.

In short:  you're making up a bunch of stuff and sticking it in there as if you had any idea what was happening the last time he was on a team.  You don't. 

107 recent tape

I think it's really important for people to remember that his most recent tape was with Jim "NFL Europe" Tomsula with Geep Chryst as OC (they let both Roman and Fangio go that offseason), followed by the husk of Chip Kelly, in the context of an utterly disfunctional organization. On top of that, in 2016, he was working through a shoulder injury. If there's a QB who can have good tape in that context, I'd love to meet him.

From 2012-2014, I'd suggest that the biggest concern with Kap relates to his capacity to read defenses. I doubt its gotten better in the last three years, but I don't think it's an open-shut question either. 

I'd love to see him in Baltimore, back with Roman, as a backup in an offense where his skills could be used. He has a great arm, and it's probably a lot healthier than at any time in 2015-2016, and is still very fast. If we could get past the other stuff, he could be a lot of fun.

109 I agree he has enough upside…

In reply to by jimbohead

I agree he has enough upside and flashed enough in his career to warrant at least a flyer. And while I won't deny that his post Harbaugh years were tumultuous, it's also been the case that he had been trending in the wrong direction even under Harbaugh.

More to the point, I saw a lot of his games and the trend matches my own experience. By the end, his accuracy was so erratic and he had no feel for the game whatsoever. It's like he had lost all of his confidence. 

This gets back to my earlier point. If he had more certainty to his game, I think he'd be in the nfl even with all of the controversy surrounding him. Since he is an unknown quantity so to speak, I don't think NFL teams will take that chance. 

138 When you are in a…

When you are in a specialized part of the entertainment business which has a significant part of the customer base which has been alienated by your public image? A lot more than one. In other words don't look for a television announcer with a year or two of good ratings, and a record of being a vocal Trump supporter, to get a gig on Univision News anytime soon.

As always, money talks, and every other damned thing walks.